7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate when is it the intention of the Government to put before Parliament their policy for dealing with profiteering?
– At the earliest possible moment.
– I desire to repeat a question which I asked the Minister representing the Treasurer some little time ago, and that is, if he can inform honorable senators when they are likely to get the Economy Commission’s report on the Public Service, which, I understand, has been in hand for some little time?
– If the honorable senator will repeat his question tomorrow, I shall give him a definite answer.
– I should like to ask the Vice-President of the Executive. Council whether he is yet in possession of the figures with regard to deportations, for which I asked some time ago?
– I have the figures referred to, but Iregret that they have been temporarily mislaid. I hope to be able to supply them before the adjournment of the Senate.
– Can the Leader of the Senate inform honorable senators whether the next Federal general elections will be held in 1919 or in 1920?
– I am unable to say whether they will take place in 1919 or in 1920 ; but I can say that they will take place either in 1919 or in 1920.
– In view of the certainty of a general election within the next few months, will the Electoral Department immediately cause the electoral officials in each of the States to do all that is possible to enroll electors whose names it is known are not now on the rolls?
– My conception of the Electoral Act is that it provides machinery to regularly and continuously carry on the business of enrolling those who are entitled to be enrolled. If that duty is carried out, there should be no need for such spasmodic activity in the matter as the honorable senator suggests.
– Every election has shown that there is need for it.
.- [By leave]. I present the fourth report of the Printing Committee, and move -
That the report be adopted.
Questionresolved in the affirmative.
– I find that I moved the adoption of the Printing Committee’s report to-day.
– That is so. The course followed by the honorable senator was quite unusual. He asked the Senate to adopt a report which honorable senators had not even had an opportunity of seeing. However, the report has been adopted, and that motion cannot be rescinded now.
– Can the report be printed ?
– It has already been printed.
– I point out to Senator Barker that the proper course in presenting a report of the kind is to move that it be read, or that it be printed, so that honorable senators may have an opportunity to become acquainted with its contents before they are asked to take any definite action in connexion with it.
– I ask the Minister in charge of the Wheat Pool whetherhe is in a position to give me the information for which I asked yesterday with respect to the total number of. bushels of wheat represented by the uncashed certificates still remaining in the 1918-19 Wheat Pool?
– I regret that I am not in a position to supply the information. We havesent out for all the latest information to the various States, and the moment it comes to hand I shall supply it.
Amount Paid for Supplies Abroad
– On the 27 th August, Senator Barnes asked me the following question: -
What was the amount of money paid to the British Government by Australiafor supplies of all kinds to Australian Forces abroad?
I am now able to furnish the honorable senator with the following information : -
The amount of our indebtedness to the British Government (paid and to be paid) up to July, 1919, for supplies of all kinds to Australian Forces abroad, totals approximately £84,000,000.
War Service Homes Act
– I ask the Minister for Defence is it the intention of the Government during the present session to introduce a Bill to amend the War Service Homes Act? If so, will provision be made by which those who enlisted and did certain training and service in Australia, but did not go abroad because of the cessation of hostilities, will be able to secure the benefit of the War Service Homes Act, which are to be extended to munition workers and others who went abroad, bub were not engaged in active service?
– The honorable senator’s question deals with a matter which is under the administration of the Minister for Repatriation. The honorable senator has referred to the benefits derived under the War Service Homes Act, and I have to inform him that they are confined to those who embarked for service abroad.
– I should have asked my question of the Minister for Repatriation, and I now ask him for public information, because Ihave myself been frequently questioned on the matter, whether, if an amendment of the War Service Homes Act is. proposed, it is the intention of the Government to include munition workers as well as those who were engaged in active service abroad, and, if so, whether the same privilege will be extended to men who enlisted, but did not leave Australia owing to the cessation of hostilities?
– I am sorry that I did not get the purport of the honorable senator’s question, which I thought was intended for my colleague, the Acting Minister for Defence. It has been decided to amend the War Service Homes Act, and to include within its provisions those munition and other war workers who went abroad under the auspices of the Defence Department. The new point which the honorable senator’s question suggests is that there should also be included members of the Australian Imperial Force, who did not embark, and I shall give that immediate consideration .
Shipments of Potash
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Pensions for Nurses - Badges for Nurses
asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice-
– Provision has already been made in the War Pensions Act for the grant of pensions in such cases.
asked the Acting Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– Returned Australian ImperialForce nurses are eligible to receive the returned soldier’s badge under the same conditions as other members of the Expeditionary Forces who have served overseas.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
Has the American Fleet been officially invited by the Commonwealth Government to visit Australia?
– No official information has been received.
– I think the Minister must have misunderstood my question, as the reply is not intelligible.
– I take it that, up to the present, no invitation has been given.
– Order ! The matter cannot be discussed.
Insufficiency of Accommodation
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Purchase and Sale of Horses - Permanent Naval and Military Officers
asked the Acting Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
askedthe Acting Minister for Defence, upon notice -
What were the names and rank of all the Permanent Naval and Military officers receiving £400 per year and over on 1st August, 1914, and on 1st August, 1919?
– I have the information in regard to the military, but not the naval, officers. It is so voluminous that, when completed, I shall have to lay it on the table of the Senate, and I propose to do so in the course of a few days.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
Whether, . in view of the prevalent fallacy that members of the Federal Parliament receive an annual net salary of £600 per annum, the Ministry will take into consideration the advisableness of making the net actual salary us real and substantial as the public already believe it to be?
– I shall be obliged if the honorable senator will elaborate bis question, as its purport is not quite clear.
Opposition Attitude towards Peace Delegates - Wak Casualties and Reinforcements - Mr. Hughes’ Speeches - Profiteering : Tariff - Pensions: Blind, Old-age, and Invalid - Reduction of Telephone and Postal Facilities - Sale of Stamps - Remuneration of Postal ‘ Officials - War Pensions - Defence Expenditure - War Service Homes - Amendment of the Constitution - Government Policy - Ministerial Replies - Expenditure at Canberra: Royal Commission’s Report - Conscription : War Debt : Casualties - Australia’s War Effort - Mr. T. J. Ryan - Peace Loan - Government Shipping Policy - Wireless Connexion with Britain - Papuan Oilfields - Electoral Redistribution - Mr. Braddon and the High Commissioner - Australia House - -Cost of Living in Queensland - Advertising Australia - Demobilization - ‘ Senator Pearce’s Visit to England - Dual Furlough - Commonwealth Police -Force - Copyright - Production ‘ - PIECE-WORK - Defence Appointments.
Debate resumed from 17th September (vide page 12382), on motion by Senator Millen -
That this Bill be now read a first time.
– When the. debate was adjourned last evening, I think there was a slight misunderstanding so far as I was concerned. It was understood that the Minister was to ‘ agree to the adjournment, and I thought, instead of asking for the adjournment, it would be proper for me to say a few words and then ask for leave to continue my remarks; but you,- sir, in your wisdom, pointed out that I was not complying with, the Standing Orders in speaking, and then asking for the ad journment. I really intended to ask for leave to continue my remarks.
In taking this opportunity of discussing the various matters that may be referred to in a debate upon this Bill, I shall for a few moments take a course which I do not adopt very often. I do not, as a rule, believe in criticising the remarks made by other honorable senators, but in fairness to the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), who, I admit, does not need my defence - he is quite capable of defending himself - I think it is only right that a few words should be said in reply to the . statements made yesterday by the Leader of tha Opposition (Senator Gardiner) with reference to that gentleman. . No one can deny that the Prime Minister and bis colleague at the Peace Conference (Sir Joseph Cook) rendered herculean services to Australia overseas. The greatest enemy’ of the Prime Minister, outside of Parliament, at any rate, will readily agree that he and Sir Joseph Cook have given splendid service to ‘ Australia, and the least that members of this Parliament can do is to frankly admit it. Next to our soldiers, no one has done more for Australia than Mr. Hughes and Sir Joseph Cook. But, not satisfied with belittling the work of these gentlemen at the Peace Conference’ and in other directions, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate made a charge which, to me at any rate, was quite new: that the magnificent receptions tendered to them in every capital, town, and hamlet of Australia since their return to this country have been stage-managed. It does not do the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) any credit that he should have given expression to such opinions as those. Is it possible that anything of the kind could have been done ? Is it possible to have stage-managed the effect produced by those tens of thousands of men and women who crowded Collins-street from the railway station to the Town Hall ? Is it possible to have stage-managed the receptions accorded to our representatives at every station, small and, large, from Fremantle and Perth, when the Prime Minister and Sir Joseph Cook landed, right up to the conclusion of their triumphant progress from West to East across Australia ?
– How many people met Mr. Hughes at Benalla?
– I do not know or care.
– I can tell you. One !
– That does not interest me. Possibly the time at which Mr. Hughes and his colleague passed through Benalla may have been highly inconvenient to the townspeople. Probably there may have been other reasons. Possibly that one individual was waiting at the train to interview Senator Grant, whom he might consider a more important personage than Mr. Hughes. However, that kind of interjection from the Opposition is typical. If there was only one individual waiting at Benalla, I know that at many small stations between Adelaide and Melbourne the people waited all night long to see the Prime Minister as he passed through - to do honour to the man who had’ done so much for Australia. Those folk, at any rate, did not begrudge Mr. Hughes one iota of praise and credit for his great work in behalf of Australia.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) sneered at the Prime Minister because the soldiers had done him the honour of placing one of their hats upon his head. That is no fit subject about which to sneer. There is no person in the community who ever can or will wear a more fitting or more honorable crown. It ill becomes Senator Gardiner, the Leader in the Senate of a great political party, to make such sneering references. I can leave the “ Digger” to look after himself, and to resent the sneering suggestion that he has been stage-managed in his welcome to Mr. Hughes, or that he has been stage-managed into placing his hat upon the Prime Minister’s head. Those who have sneered have said nothing of the tremendous services which Mr. Hughes has rendered; have said nothing by way of thanks and appreciation for his having secured to Australia in the eyes of the world one of the foremost ideals both of the Official Labour party and of the Nationalist party - that great ideal of a White Australia. One ‘ would have thought that members of the Official Labour party, which has fought for a White Australia ever since there has been a Labour party, would at least have shaken hands with this man, would have thanked this representative of ours for having set upon a world-known foundation Australia’s grand ideal.
– They would rather shake hands with the devil himself!
– At any rate, not one word of thanks, or even of quiet commendation, has been uttered by the party represented by honorable senators opposite. If there has been any stage-managing at all, it was the stagemanaging which had the effect of keeping those twenty-odd members in another place so silent throughout the great speech of Mr. Hughes last week. Not so much as a mild or a modest “ Hear, hear.” was heard; rather, I must correct that, for one honorable member evidently broke the rule and was heard to utter, spontaneously, at one stage, “ Hear, hear.” When the Prime Minister briefly explained what he had been able to achieve on our behalf, what he had been able to secure towards the maintenance of a White Australia, not so much as a word of thanks or praise was extended to him from the party which has made the maintenance of a White Australia a leading plank in its political platform.
– They would admit any colour into Australia if it could be guaranteed to rid them of Mr. Hughes.
– Yes, any colour, indeed.
– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Heitmann) said he would welcome brown, brindle, yellow, or black into Australia.
– I am not interested in the alleged utterances of Mr. Heitmann; I am concerned now. with Mr. Hughes and Sir Joseph Cook. Those are the men to whom the Labour party has failed to offer one word of welcome home, or of appreciation for their services in Australia’s ‘behalf. Not that ‘ I care whether or not the Labour party tenders to those gentlemen due recognition. Mr. Hughes has had it from the people, from the soldiers, from every true-hearted person in the community.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) pointed out yesterday that Mr. Hughes, in his address in Sydney on Saturday last, remarked that if our Australian soldiers had been adequately reinforced, 10,000 valuable Australian lives would have been saved. There is not an officer returned from the war who will not indorse that statement. Many thousands of the men themselves will indorse it. Similar statements were uttered on public platforms throughout Australia ten thousand times during those many weary months when we were appealing for necessary reinforcements. The people were told, time and again,that men must be sent to save the lives of those who had gone before them. We knew, and we told the people, and the people all knew, that Australians were being sent to hold sections of theFront line in numbers not exceeding 200 or 300 when they should have gone into those trenches 1,000 strong. Handfuls of men had to do the work of many hundreds. Handfuls had to hang on, not for hours, nor for days, but for weeks, because there were not sufficient reinforcements. Mr. Hughes went among those men at the Front. He perceived the situation for himself. He was aware of the conditions under which the “Digger” had to fight - of the environment of mud, slush, snow, rain,’ and all those terrible surroundings which appertain to warfare. Mr. Hughes knew well what he was talking about. It is difficult to say whether 1,000 men or 10,000 or 20,000 of those who have fallen might have been saved; but, if those who should have been there had been at hand to reinforce their fellow Australians who fought and fell, our soldiers would not have been called upon to bear the extremes of physical endurance, and, possibly, 10,000 lives would have been saved. Mr. Hughes said nothing but what tens of thousands of people in Australia sincerely believe to be fact.
Senator Gardiner called attention to Mr. Hughes’ statements to the effect that he belonged to no party. Mr. Hughes is leading a party which stands for all Australia. It does not matter what party the people may have belonged to, or where they may have come from, or who they may be. Mr. Hughes belongs to no party to-day, but to the whole of the Commonwealth ; and the people of this great country are proud to know that they are of his party, and that he belongs to them. The Leader of the Opposition quoted another statement of Mr. Hughes. I wonder if any honorable senators opposite will care to find fault with the sentiments expressed by the Prime Minister when addressing his constituents at Bendigo. He said -
I have been connected with unions all my life. I have tried to liftthe conditions of the people up. I have never tried to drag other people down. I want to lift up the whole of the people of Australia. I know no class nor creed. I know nothing but the welfare of Australia and of my fellow men.
I ask whether anystatesman in this or any other country has ever given expression to loftier ideals? I am not a hero worshipper, but I believe in giving credit to men when they have performed great work, when they have accomplished tasks such as men have never before attempted, and such as they are not likely to be called upon to attempt again. When such individuals ret rn to our shores the least we can do is to express our thanks for their magnificent services. I could, if necessary, reply at very great length to the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner). There is no member of this Chamber who is more adept at twisting words and coining phrases to suit his own particular argument than is the honorable senator. I dislike criticising the remarks of other honorable senators, but on this occasion I feel bound to reply to the statements made by Senator Gardiner, which were made with the one object of discounting the work of the Prime Minister. I feel sure that the people of Australia will do justice to Mr. Hughes, and will stand behind him in the years that are to come. A good deal has been said about profiteering, and a gentleman named Ryan, from
– A gentleman ?
– The language used by honorable senators must be carefully picked, and one cannot always select precisely the word which he would like to employ. Out of regard for our Standing Orders and for Mr. Ryan, I shall call him a gentleman. Quite recently he entered the lists, and raised the cry that behind the present Commonwealth Government there stand the profiteers, the robbers, the thieves, and all the undesirables in the community. He affirms that all these people are arrayed behind the Prime Minister and the Nationalist party. He says that they are financing the party. Mr. Ryan may know much more about the Nationalist party than I do, but I havecertainly seen no evidence that it is being financed by anybody but its own members. From the Prime Minister down to the humblest member of that party there is not one man who will not be prepared to deal as drastically with the profiteer as will any honorable senator on the other side of the chamber. The profiteer will receive no mercy from us.
-Why do you not deal with him?
-The honorable senator is like a good many others. He sees that the cry of profiteering is a popular one, and he thinks that by repeating it sufficiently often a few misguided people may be led to believe in it, and that, as a result, the prestige of of the Nationalist party may be injured at the next elections. But we have to recollect that during the past five years there have been withdrawn from the industries of the world some 20,000,000 ablebodied men, and nearly the same number of women workers. A great part of Europe has been devastated, and industries of all descriptions have been neglected. In the meantime, the storehouses of the world have been emptied, and they are empty to-day. If anybody thinks that he can purchase goods from practically empty storehouses at the same price as he could purchase them five years ago from full storehouses, he has not given very much thought to this question. I do not doubt that there is profiteering in our midst. But, notwithstanding that, Australia is the cheapest country in the world, from the standpoint of the cost of living, to-day. The legislation of the Commonwealth has been largely responsible for the low prices at which the people are able to purchase goods here. Yet honorable senators opposite would force the Government to depress the values of our primary products forlocal consumption, notwithstanding that the people are receiving very high wages.
– The honorable senator knows that that is quite incorrect.
– I know that the Opposition is calling out for a cheap loaf, for cheap meat, cheap eggs, and cheap butter. Its members desire that all our primary products shall be cheap. Senator Grant does not know what is going on in this country. There is only one spot on earth with which he is familiar, and that is Sydney, where neither wheat, nor meat, nor butter is produced. I object to high prices quite as much as does Senator Grant; but I Tecognise that half of the outcry against profiteering is absolute rubbish. Prices are high to-day because goods are scarce. To overcome this difficulty, the people will have to adopt the advice tendered by the Prime Minister, and work, work, work. In Sydney and Adelaide only a few weeks ago, as the result of the disastrous seamen’s, strike, we saw that certain commodities could not be procured. The wives and children of many of the strikers were obliged to pay increased prices for the necessaries of life, because the wheels of industry had been practically stopped.
– And, much to the honorable senator’s annoyance, the conditions of the seamen have been greatly improved.
– That statement is not in accordance with fact. I have as much regard for the conditions of the seamen as has the honorable senator, and if he had as much pluck outside this chamber as he exhibits inside of it, he would have gone down to the wharfs many weeks ago, and told the seamen what they ought to do. It is an easy matter for Senator Grant to sit on the plush cushions in the Senate and say what the seamen ought to do. He should have told the seamen nearly four months ago that they could get the terms they have now received.
– The seamen know their own business best. “Senator NEWLAND. - Yes, and that is why Senator Grant probably dad not interfere.
I have a word or two to say in connexion with the method adopted fey certain wholesale firms, and I hope the Government in introducing an amending Tariff Bill will not overlook this aspect of the question. As soon as it as mooted abroad that there is likely to be an alteration in the Tariff, the large warehouses practically lock their doors, and compel the small traders to deal from hand to mouth. Immediately the Tariff has been amended, and increased duties imposed, they re-open their doors, and sell the stock at an increased rate. That is profiteering of the most contemptible character, and 1 am anxious to see it stopped.
I have recently received a letter from a small trader in South Australia, and his case is typical of many. I propose reading the letter, and hope some action will be taken to prevent any such attempts being made in connexion with the proposed new Tariff. The letter is dated 10th September, and reads -
Matches that I bought about four months ago at 3s. 10$d. a gross are quoted to-day at 5s. 9d. (10th September), to arrive in about a month; none in stock at present. Reason assigned: Bryant and May haVe closed down. No others on’ the market at present.
Tobacco and cigarettes can only be got from hand to mouth. Reason given, “ flu,” “ strike,” &c, but, as you can see, this is only camouflage. They are expecting increased duties, and, of course, manufacturers want to scoop the pool when the rise is announced.
Here is food for thought, and perhaps some of your legislators can’ find a way out of it. The heads “ know to a box what our monthly requirements are, and can keep us from profiteering. They should be compelled to give us one month’s supply, instead of hoarding up themselves.
Almost the same procedure was followed when they illegally rose the price of tobacco ls. per lb., and when the Prices Commissioner disallowed it, we were kept short till they bluffed the Commissioner into giving them ls. Id. increase instead of ls. For seven or eight weeks I was selling tobacco at cost price, and some few lines at an absolute loss. The last balancesheet I saw of one big tobacco firm showed a profit of £553,000- that was for 1917.
I am not taking any responsibility for the correctness of the figures, but that seems a fairly substantial profit to make in a year. If it is possible for the Government to prevent the warehousemen holding huge stocks until the Tariff is increased, and then disposing of them at a high Tate, I hope they will do so.
– Do you mean to say that they charge the increased duty on stocks already held?
– Yes. That is not an honest way .of trading, but some of our traders are more honest than others.
On previous occasions I have referred to the pensions paid to blind people, and I again call attention to it in the hope that the money required in this direction will be provided for in the Estimates shortly to be presented to Parliament. I am well aware that we have a tremendous war debt to meet, but I do not anticipate for a moment that the Government are going to adopt the policy of wholesale reductions and retrenchments. The blind people in our institutions receive a similar pension to those outside unless their earnings exceed the amount of the pension, in which case it is automatically reduced. Th. managers of blind institutions, and the blind people themselves, feel that those who are endeavouring to earn a livelihood by manufacturing articles for general use, should not be treated in this way. They feel that the pensions should be paid irrespective of what they earn, because at the best .they do not earn very much. I suppose the maximum amount earned by a blind worker does not exceed £2 per week. Many of the afflicted are young, and wish to marry, and there should not be differential treatment in this matter. When bringing down the Budget I hope the Government will provide for the full pension to be paid to blind workers, irrespective of their earnings. In the blind institutions in South Australia, and in nearly every other institution, the workers have to be paid more from the funds of the institution than they earn. I have a list of the earnings of the whole of the inmates employed in the South Australian institutions. In nearly every case the value of the work has been assessed at so much per week, and they have had a weekly addition from the funds of the institution. If the Government pay the full pension, the institutions will be able to do more with the money they have at their disposal. The blind must be a charge upon the country at all times; and special consideration should be given to them.
I hope that the old-age and invalid pensions will be increased all round, as many aged people are finding the greatest difficulty in making both ends meet. The cost of living has increased to such an extent that men receiving £3, £4, or £5 a week find it very difficult to pay their way, and, notwithstanding this, our old people and invalids have to struggle along on 12s. 6d. per week. I hone that the Government will provide on the Estimates a sum sufficient to materially increase the pensions now being paid to blind as well as to invalid and old persons in this community. Of course, due care should be taken that the public funds are not imposed upon by those who ought not to receive pensions. Probably some are now receiving pensions who are not entitled to them, but, if so, that is a matter which concerns the Department, and it is not a reason why the. pensions paid to deserving people should not be sufficient to meet their requirements.
Another matter to which I wish to direct attention is the unsatisfactory postal arrangements made in respect of outlying districts. Telephone and postal facilities generally ‘have been cut down on every hand. .The Postmaster-General sent us a report some time ago in which he showed that considerable saving in postal expenditure had been effected during his administration. But if honorable senators will go to the outlying parts of Australia they will find that from one end of the country to the other there is a feeling of discontent and dissatisfaction because of the lack of necessary postal facilities. It is an easy matter for the Postmaster-General to show a surplus when he is denying to the people on the land the facilities which should be afforded by his Department. The State Governments are doing their best to settle people on the land, and are trying to send returned soldiers and others out. back to do pioneering work, and the least that should be done for such people is to supply them with reasonable postal facilities in order that they may not be cut off altogether from the advantages of civilization. I have here a communication from Port Augusta in which I am assured that if a man on any part of the line from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta posts a letter to the latter town, it is carried through that town to Adelaide, where it is delayed for a day, and is then- sent back from Adelaide to Port Augusta. That kind of thing is not calculated to- encourage settlement in outside districts. Sorting vans have been taken off trains to secure economy, and this has resulted in perhaps more inconvenience to the people than has followed from anything else the PostmasterGeneral has done. It takes two days in some cases to deliver a letter between places only twelve or fifteen miles apart. I have letters showing that correspondence addressed from one town to another fifteen miles away has been carried first to Adelaide, and, after being, delayed there for a day. sent to the place to which it was addressed. That cannot be regarded as the acme of business methods, and itis no credit to the Post and Telegraph Department that the delivery -of the cor.respondence of country settlers should be delayed in this way.
I find that after the 31st October the commission paid to vendors of stamps is to be reduced. In country towns and suburban districts small storekeepers undertake the sale of stamps for the Post Office, and must keep owen very long hours to oblige their customers. The Postmaster-General, in order, I suppose, that his surplus may be still further increased, intends to cut down the commission paid to these people for the sale of stamps to 1 per cent.
– Would there not be a commercial advantage to these people in selling stamps even if they received no commission i
– I do not think that in most cases there would be any advantage to them, and in any event I fail to see why the Postmaster-General should not, like other people, pay for work done for him.
– In many country towns the selling of stamps attracts trade.
– It may’ do so, to a very slight extent. The honorable member should remember that certain stores, under the Early Closing Act, have to be closed at 6 o’clock; but, where the sale of stamps is undertaken, they are kept open after that hour for that purpose. The Postmaster-General limits the total commission which may be paid to any person for the sale of stamps, no matter what the quantity sold, to 12s. per week.
– Obviously, it would be an advantage to a stationer to sell stamps, even without any commission.
– I do not know that it would be an advantage to any one to do so, but the point I make is that the Postmaster-General has no right to ask people to sell his wares unless he pays them for doing so. He proposes .to pay a commission of only 1 per cent, and a maximum commission of only 12s. per week, for the sale of stamps.
– I have a letter from a lady who keeps a post-office open for five hours a day,, and for this receives 8d. per day. That is sweating, if anything is.
– The PostmasterGeneral requires that any vendor of postage stamps must purchase from the Department not less than 25s. worth, or a multiple of that amount. I suppose this is one of the business methods which he has adopted, though why the amount should not be as easily calculated with a minimum purchase of £1, I do not know: I protest against the proposed reduction in the few shillings which are paid to people who sell stamps for the Post and Telegraph Department.
– One per cent, commission on the sale of 25s. worth of stamps would be 3d., and the honorable senator thinks that too little.
- Senator Pratten will agree that it is not very much, and that he would not make a fortune in a few years on such a rate of commission. He will admit that there is no profiteering in the commission obtained on the sale of stamps.
Another class of persons who are penalized by the Postmaster-General are those who have charge of half-time or wholetime country post-offices. These people, men and women, become accomplished in their work. They have to go to Adelaide to pass examinations. They must be competent telegraphists, able to issue money orders, war bonds, and,, in fact, do all kinds of post-office work. They are paid a paltry remuneration, in the case of half-time offices,’ sometimes as low as £10 or £15 per year; and, in the case of some whole-time offices, as low as £50 or £60 per year. In. this way the PostmasterGeneral shows a surplus in .the administration of- his Department by sweating its employees. No holidays are allowed to the keepers of these offices, who must attend every morning and give the O.K. signal to the Central Office in Adelaide. They get no holiday time and no holiday pay. They do not belong to unions of post-office employees, because they are too scattered; but, if they did belong to any organization, the PostmasterGeneral would hear as much from them as he does from organized employees in his Department.
I believe that the treatment of these officers, against which I protest, is contrary to the wish of the people generally of Australia. I hope that the protest I make on their behalf will not ‘be overlooked when the Budget is being prepared. It is of no use to wait until the Budget is presented to make a protest,’ and, therefore, I am protesting now. Whilst the people of Australia object to extravagant expenditure, I am sure they have no objection to the payment of fair wages to every person engaged in Government employ, and that is all I ask for.
– There is a matter of vital importance to many people in Australia on which I desire to make a few remarks: I refer to the amount of pensions paid to dependants of deceased soldiers. Many times during the last year some very hard cases have been brought under my notice where dependants of deceased soldiers are being paid only a few shillings per week, and the life of the deceased soldier is assessed in some cases at as low as 7s. per week. On representations being made to the Department, they are always received with expressions of sympathy, but the reply generally is that the War Pensions Act makes it impossible for the Department to pay any more, even where it can be shown that the dependants of the deceased soldier are very badly off. I should like the Acting Minister for Defence (Senator Russell) to take into consideration the urgent necessity of at once amending the War Pensions Act. Under the present system the value to parents of the life of a deceased soldier is assessed on the average amount he had been giving to them during the twelve months prior to enlistment, and. necessarily, hardships are being inflicted upon parents throughout Australia. I know of one case, and that of the only single son of two old people, both of whom are receiving the -old-age pension. This man was nearly up to the age limit when he enlisted, and because in the course of their examination when applying for the old-age pension, they were honest enough to admit that they believed they had not been receiving more than 7s. a week from this son -during the twelve months before his enlistment, they are now only receiving this amount by way of pension for his -death. Although they are both’ very old people, they were not absolutely dependent ‘on that son prior to his enlistment. He had been a married man, but his wife died, and after he had straightened out his own affairs he commenced contributing towards the support of his parents, and was giving them more and more as time went on. I am not blaming the Defence Department for the meagreness of the pension in this case. I am merely pointing out that it is a typical illustration of the situation in which hun dreds of other parents who have lost sons in the war find themselves, and I am emphasizing the fact that this portion of the War Pensions Act needs revision. T have had another case, even harder than this, before the Defence Department for some time,, and only within the last few days have I readied finality so far as the Defence Department is concerned. This, again, is a typical case, and strengthens my argument for an alteration of the Act. The father was an Englishman, who married an Australian girl. They reared a family of eleven children. The three eldest sons were just about the age of enlistment when war broke out. The three of them enlisted at about the same time, and as they were all young men, naturally they were not contributing very largely towards the support of their parents. Two of the boys were killed in action, and the third came back partially crippled. When he recovered somewhat from his injuries he got married, and ceased to help support his parents, who are thus left with eight other children, two of whom are girls, earning only a few shillings a week, and one a boy, who, as an apprentice, is getting 5s. a week. As the three sons were not contributing largely to the support of the parents twelve months prior to enlistment, the war pension granted to the parents was fixed at 10s. per week for each of the two lads, though it is reasonable to assume that had they lived they would now be contributing much more than that amount to the support of their parents. This is a special case, and the Minister for Defence has remitted it to the Pensions Department to see if something can be done for them. I have some correspondence in connexion with this matter, and I desire to place it on record. The following is the copy of a letter which I received, from the Defence Department : -
With further reference to your representations on behalf of Mrs. S. Owen, 52 Risdonroad, Newtown, Tasmania, regarding her application for the payment of separation allowance on account of her above-named sons, I desire to inform you that this matter has been carefully considered, but it is regretted that, under the regulations governing the payment of separation allowance, Mrs. Owen is not eligible to receive the allowance, as all inquiries which have been made show that Mrs. Owen, during their service abroad, received a larger amount by means of their allotments than the amount contributed by them prior to enlistment. Moreover, Mrs. Owen’s husband is alive and in work, and she was only partly dependent .upon her sons. For your information, the following extract of a report made by the District Finance Officer, 6th Military District, Tasmania, regarding Mrs. Owen’s claim is attached hereto.
Regarding your inquiry re pensions, I have to inform you that all matters relative to pensions are dealt with by the Deputy Commissioner of
Pensions, Brooks Buildings, Elizabeth-street, Melbourne, who, I understand, is reviewing Mrs. Owen’s claim.
The letter referred to from the official in Hobart is as follows : -
Three members of this family enlisted, viz.. No. 3326 R. T. Owen, No. 6747 A. W. Owen (died of wounds), No. 6781 H. E.K.Owen (killed in action ) . -
Mrs. Owen made a claim for retrospective separation allowance on behalf of Private R. T. Owen, returned to Australia and discharged. In her claim for separation allowance, she stated that this son allowed her 10s. per week, vegetables and fruit, and helped to clothe the younger children. This soldier, although he made an allotment of 3s. per diem, his mother states that she only received ls. Cd. per diem of it. This allotment was made in favour of the brother, H. E. R. Owen, who, on enlisting, gave a standing authority to his sister to draw it. It would, therefore, appear, from Mrs. Owen’s statement, that R. T. Owen only allowed her ls. 6d. per diem; as the amount was under 2s. per diem, and was not made direct to the mother, the claim was’ disallowed This soldier, since his return, has married.
With regard to the two deceased sons, in accordance with the sister’s statutory declara-> ion recently received, their allotment of 3s. each was used for the maintenance of the home.
In a letter written to you, of which you forwarded me an extract, Slrs. Owen states that for more than twelve months prior to enlistment they allowed her 10s. per week each, although they were living away from home. As she was iri receipt of 3s. per diem from each during their service, she was in a better position financially with regard to them than before they enlisted. Since their decease she has been receiving 10s. per week for each as a war pension.
From the declaration made by Mrs. Owen, and from inquiries made, the family appear to have the following income, viz.: - The husband is a clerk in the Hobart Marine Board, with ii salary of £175 per annum. Two daughters live at home, and give 10s. per week. One pound per week of war pension, and one boy, now an apprentice, is able to give os. per week towards the home.
With regard to the two deceased soldiers, both their wills were made in favour of their sister, M. Gr. Owen, and on inquiring why this was clone, I was informed that the wills were made in favour of the sister in order that the money would come into the home and prevent it from being taken to liquidate debt; and Mrs. Owen informed me that there were debts still owing.
This shows the rottenness Of the system under which the pensions are paid. The boys enlisted when they were very young, and, as I have said, if they had been spared to come back, they would have been in a position to repay their parents in some measure for all the time, trouble, and money expended in rearing them. I do not say that the Defence authorities can do anything more than they have done for the family if they keep strictly to the Act, although I do not agree with the Hobart official who offers the opinion that the family is fairly well off. The husband is earning £3 7s. per week as a clerk and two girls pay 10s. a week each towards the household expenses. This is not enough to feed and clothe them, and one boy pays 5s. a week, the total being £4 12s., as the pension of 10s. per week each for the two boys who were killed is swallowed up in rent. No honorable senator will say that that amount is sufficient to feed and clothe ten people. It is absurd for the Hobart official to say that the case is not deserving of special consideration. Of course, if the Defence authorities think otherwise, I shall not ask for special consideration. But I impress upon the Minister that consideration should be given to the large number of applications for an increase in the pensions allowance. In cases like these to which I have referred there can be no doubt whatever that the Act requires amendment.
In the debate on a Supply Bill one is impelled to speak on questions of finance, and give some attention to the best means of meeting the enormous debt with which we are burdened. I would like to bring under the notice of the Minister a letter which appeared in the Age yesterday. Ministers concerned cannot be expected, of course, to take notice of all matters appearing in the press; but the epistle which I shall quote contains explicit comments upon a governmental action ; and, in view of the necessity for reducing our Defence expenditure as fas as possible, I think the subject-matter is worthy of careful attention -
Sir, - Your article on above is interesting. 1 am curious to know whether this strengthening arrangement is to make provision for the staff (30) of pay sergeants who were sent to London on the same boat as Senator Pearce, in charge of Major Polglaze, but who were all returned to Australia, the O.C. included, as the London authorities had nothing for them to do. Specious arguments in favour of this mission were made by the Defence Department at the time they left, and these were given some weight by thefact that a major was placed in charge, although when the work they were on originated in London a warrant officer was considered sufficient to bring a- staff of 50 sergeants to Australia. - Yours, &c.,
If that statement is correct, it is rather. startling. If it is not accurate, the Government may consider it worth while to publicly contradict it.
I have more than once, recently, called attention to the conflict of authority - or of opinion, as Senator Millen has preferred to put it - between the Deputy Commissioner under the War Service Homes Act and the Commonwealth Bank authorities in Hobart. I have been informed that a similar conflict of authority, or of opinion, is proceeding in other States. It is. a conflict, at any rate, which is leading to considerable trouble and difficulty in Tasmania. Senator Millen informed me yesterday that the whole matter was now under consideration. I trust there will be speedy results from that consideration. The Commonwealth Bank authorities have taken a stand which appears to me to be in direct opposition to the spirit of the War Service Homes Act. They have indicated that they will advance money for the purchase of soldiers’ homes only upon certain conditions, which’ they themselves have laid down. Those conditions are certainly not such as were set out within the Act itself. The Minister has intimated that the Bank authorities have not been acting under the instructions of his Department. In Tasmania, quite a number of returned soldiers who have evinced a desire to take advantage of the Act are being delayed because the Bank authorities have refused to advance money, even although satisfactory valuations have been made. I will cite, as an example, one proposition for the purchase of a house already built and satisfactorily valued at £700. I am not. certain whether the valuation was made by an official representing the Bank or by some one on behalf of the Deputy Commissioner.
– No; the valuation was made by an official, representing either the Bank or working under the terms of the Act. I understand that the valuation was approved by the Deputy Commissioner.
– But the Deputy Commissioner has nothing to do with that. I have learned that it was not the
Bank’s valuation, and I want to know whose valuation it was.
– But is there not an official who makes a valuation which must be approved by the Bank before the Bank authorities will agree to advance ‘(
– Yes; but the honorable senator does not say that the specific valuation to which he hae referred was a valuation by the Bank. The question is whether the valuation was made by a Bank official or by somebody else.
– The valuation, at any rate, satisfied the official who is administering the War Service Homes Act in Tasmania.
– But he had nothing to do with it.
– If he had nothing to do with the matter, and it is entirely a subject for the Bank, I should hardly think that the Deputy Commissioner would express satisfaction unless he was confident that the valuation had been made by a. competent party. The Commonwealth Bank authorities have intimated that they will not advance the amounts required except upon certain conditions, which the Bank itself has laid down, and which were not set out in the War Service Homes Act or made by the Repatriation Department.
– Then let us know what those conditions ‘are.
– I am now applying to local officials to secure a copy of a statement forwarded by the Department in Hobart. The Commonwealth Bank authorities do not encourage the purchase of ‘ ready-built homes. That may be a good principle, but the spirit of the Apt is that where there are circumstances in which it is imperative that a house already built should be purchased for a returned soldier, nothing should stand in the way of making the necessary advance. It is often important that the returned soldier should secure a home reasonably near to his work.
– The chief factor in a returned soldier desiring to buy rather than to build is time - is his eagerness to get into the home. It is not so much a matter of locality.
– Locality is a factor.
– It is not the prime factor. I am speaking from knowledge gained by an analysis of very many cases.
– I know of instances where locality is a factor. Certain persons eligible to benefit under the Act have deemed it to their advantage to reside in the neighbourhood of their place of occupation. In those cases the Department, instead of requiring them to build a new home, which could not be constructed near to their job, should authorize an advance for the purchase of a house already built.
– I hope the Government will not do anything to encourage the purchase of already-built homes.
– I hope the Government will do so. The objective of the Government is to act, as far as possible, in the best interests of returned men.
– It is all a question of what is to their best interests.
– -The: 8 are agents going round the country to-day trying to get deposits out of soldiers.
– I have no time for those people; but there are many cases where it would be directly to the advantage of returned men if they were assisted to purchase already-constr(ucted homes near to their places of business - always provided that the official valuations were satisfactory.
– It does appear as if the Commonwealth Bank were not working harmoniously with the Repatriation Department.
– There is no question about that. It may be owing to the difficulty of getting a big concern, such as the War Service Homes Department, into smooth working order.
– I have been told that the Bank authorities will have nothing to do with the proposed purchase of a building having a frontage of less than 40 feet.
– That is so.
– That, again, is not correct.
– I am surprised, and also glad to hear that. I have been told that the Bank had definitely laid it down as a hard-and-fast rule.
– That is not so.
– It has been asserted in the Tasmanian press, and not contradicted by those concerned.
– I saw it stated in a newspaper here, and I brought it under the notice of the Manager of the Commonwealth Bank. Mr, Scott, who said it was not true. I thereupon asked the Bank manager why he did not contradict it, to which he replied, “ It is not our policy to engage in newspaper controversy.”
– Well, that is definite. But it seemed absurd, because there are hundreds of houses very near to these Parliament buildings which have a frontage of less than 40 feet, and which are worth more than £700.
– The honorable senator is not advocating that soldiers should settle in homes with frontages of 15 and 20 feet?
– Certainly not; but there are homes that would suit many of our returned men, which are well built1 structures, and are not cramped, and have been erected under the eye of the municipal authorities. It would be better for the returned man and his family, of course, if they could be comfortably placed in a home having a frontage of 40 feet or more.
– I do not think that in Hobart or in Launceston one could obtain any considerable number of houses suitable for residences for returned soldiers unless one were to dispossess those already in occupation.
– But it might suit the present owner-occupiers of such places to sell and reside in other localities. So long as the valuation is officially approved, the returned soldier should not be hin- dered in securing an advance for the purchase of his home. The Bank- should not have imposed these conditions, and I do hope that whatever difficulties may have been experienced hitherto will now be swept away.
– If the house applied for by a soldier has already been erected, is he not required to’ make a deposit?
– The statement was made that in such’ circumstances he would be required to make a deposit, and it was not contradicted by the Commonwealth Bank.
– For a soldier to be required to make a deposit upon a building already in existence would be contrary to the Act?
– No. The War Service (Homes) Act makes provision for both classes of cases. It provides for- a deposit in the case of a property in respect of which the applicant desires the deeds to be put in his own name, but an applicant may secure a home without a deposit if he is content to accept it on the hire-purchase system.
– A weatherboard house which has been constructed- for ten years may be practically as good as a new one. Yet it has been publicly stated that if a building has been erected for ten years the applicant for it will be allowed only ten years > within which to repay the purchase money. In other words, the period during which the dwelling has been erected is to be deducted from the twenty-years period that is allowed for the purchase of wooden structures.
– There is some justification for that,’ in view of the terms of the Act. One is supposed to have some regard to the life of a building. If a house had been erected for nineteen years, would the honorable senator give the purchaser another twenty years within which to pay for it?
– No. But if he were obliged to repay the principal money within ten years in the case of a weatherboard house which had been erected for a similar period, the Act would be worthless to him, because he would be able to get as good terms from financial institutions.
– But those institutions would not protect his interests in the way that the Repatriation Department will do.
– I admit that. One feels impelled to inquire when this Parliament is going to be given any real work to do. , We met on the 25th June last, after a recess which extended over six or seven months. It is now the 18th September. Practically three months have passed since the opening of the session, but what has been accomplished ? We have been waiting ‘for the return of Mr. Hughes to Australia. Whilst, he was on his way here we had almost a savage pronouncement from him in a speech which he delivered in South Africa, in the course of which he said that he was returning to fight tooth and claw the Bolsheviks and the profiteers. He has already been back about a fortnight, but whilst lie has continued to attack these people, .no concrete proposals have yet been submitted by the Government for the suppression of profiteering. In regard to the Bolsheviks, probably the Prime Minister has discovered that there are none here. I assume that he has learned the actual fact, which is that there are in Australia very few individuals of the type to which the term. “Bolshevik” can be applied. But the profiteers are still in our midst.
– Why should the profiteer be au actual personality, and the Bolshevik only a creature of the imagination ?
– The profiteer is with us every day of our lives. Senator Bakhap has merely to walk down the street in order to ascertain that an article which he could have purchased for 20s. some months ago is now being sold for 30s. The Prime Minister stated that he was returning to Australia to fight the profiteer tooth and claw. Upon the very day that he made that statement, the Leader of the Senate, in reply to a question by Senator Gardiner, affirmed that «. the Government had practically no power to deal with price-fixing and thus to prevent profiteering. Thus we had two different statements by Ministers.
– They are different, but they are not in opposition to each other.
– They are. If the Prime Minister had given effect to his expressed intention since his return to this country-
– Why, he has not been here a fortnight yet !
– He has-been here quite long enough to make a number of speeches. He has intimated that he intends to tear the profiteer to pieces, but, so far, he has refrained from telling us how he is going to do it. If he intends to attack profiteering by securing an alteration of our Constitution, it is high time that the people were informed when he intends to ask them to clothe this Parliament with the necessary powers. Sena tor Bakhap smiles whenever the word “profiteering” is mentioned. Only last night he said that he would like to see every business man make a profit of 50 per cent. When I .inquired by way of interjection whether he would like to see the boot manufacturer’ making a profit of 50 per cent, while a considerable number of children were unable to obtain boots to wear, he brushed my question aside, and did not answer it. But it is a fact that in Australia to-day there are hundreds and thousands of children who are either bare-footed or who are destined to be bare-footed in the near future.
– The honorable senator has doubtless known of a good many people amongst the upper classes who caused their children to go about barefooted designedly.
– Yes ; I remember one man who did that, and who some years ago occupied a very high position, but to-day he is walking about Melbourne and behaving in a fashion which indicates that he is not ‘ ‘ all there. ‘ ‘
– In Queensland the trouble is to get youngsters to wear boots.
– Lucky Queensland ! The Prime Minister has been back in Australia long enough to tell the people exactly what he intends to do. Only three months remain till Christmas, and yet nothing has been done to give effect to the ambitious programme of the Government, which was read here at the opening of Parliament.
– We have already passed seven measures that were included in the programme.
– What are they 1 A couple of Supply Bills and two or three other measures which demanded .and received very little consideration at the hands of honorable senators. But the big features of the programme have not been tackled, although half the period covered by an ordinary session has already passed. We have as yet been given no indication of the financial proposals of the Government. All the State Ministries are waiting impatiently to ascertain whether the Treasurer (Mr. Watt) intends to carry out the threat which he made some time ago to reduce the per capita grant to the States. I should like to know the attitude of the Government in regard to this matter. Quite recently, too, a very high official in the. Defence Department delivered a lecture in which he practically advocated conscription for Australia. Notwithstanding the constant appeals which we hear for a reduction of expenditure, particularly in the Defence Department, a reduction of expenditure is not being advocated by the heads of that Department.
There is another matter to which I wish to refer. I do not think the Ministers in this Chamber, when answering questions in their official capacity, always treat honorable senators with the courtesy due to them. It must be remembered that questions by honorable senators are asked in the interests of their constituents. A week or two ago I asked the Minister leading the Government in this’ Chamber if he would table a return showing the expenses incurred by the Commonwealth in connexion with the visit abroad of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook). It would not be possible, perhaps, at this stage to include the expenses of the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), as his trip has not been completed. In my question, I asked the Government to give the cost incurred by the Ministers mentioned, including that of the various staffs, and those associated with them, from the time they left Australia until they returned. It might be rather an unfavorable time for the Government to give this information to the country, seeing that the Prime Minister at present is on the crest of a wave of popularity. I have never been one to cavil at any reasonable expense incurred by Ministers whose duties take them to various parts of the Commonwealth, or even abroad. I have always believed that Ministers travelling on public duties should be allowed reasonable expenses. The Minister in charge of the Senate was rather curt in his reply to my query, and stated that all the information asked for was not then available, but so soon as it was obtainable it would be given to the Senate.
– That was. both truthful and courteous.
– That was some weeks ago, and the Minister has not followed the usual practice by giving the information, if it is available, without the question being repeated. I have refrained from asking a further question, and the Minister knows that it is quite competent for him, if the particulars are available, to give them to the Senate. I again ask the Minister if he can supply the Senate with the information?
– I should be very much surprised if it is available.
– The Ministers have only just returned.
– They have been back practically three weeks. Money expended by Ministers is usually advanced, and the cost could easily be obtained. When the Prime Minister took his staff from London to Paris, I suppose money had to be found before they left London.
– What is the object of your inquiry?
– To ascertain. the actual cost. Such a number of amounts have been mentioned that one is rather staggered by the figures. Personally, I do not believe that some of the amounts mentioned are correct. It would be very interesting to have the actual facts, and it is the duty of the Minister to supply the information.
– Whatever the amount is, it has been spent.
– Yes, it has been paid. When I stated that the cost had probably been £100,000, I was merely repeating what quite a number of people believe it to be. I do not know whether the amount will be more or less, but it is a matter of interest to the public. Of course, the services- rendered may or may not be worth the cost involved. This is “ a public matter, and there should be no hesitation on the part of the Minister to supply the information at the earliest possible date.
I must apologize for having delayed the Senate so long, but it is not often that we have an opportunity to ventilate grievances on matters of public importance. Some three years ago an attack was made by a Minister of the then Government upon another Minister’s Department. Mr. King O’Malley had been Minister for Home Affairs, and his place was taken by Mr. Archibald. Mr. Archibald apparently did not have much love for Mr. King O’Malley, and took the opportunity from his place in the House of Representatives to say that £600,000 had been thrown into the gutter in connexion with the Federal Capital. Thereupon Mr. Webster attacked the Department, and said there had been a tremendous waste, because the head officials in the Home Affairs Department’ - which is now the Department of Home and Territories - were fighting Mr. Griffin, who was in charge of Federal Capital work. Mr. Webster, it will be remembered, made a violent attack upon those officials, and charged them with being guilty of wasteful expenditure. After Mr. Webster’s attack, the Government of the day thought it incumbent upon them to appoint a Royal Commissior!, to investigate the charges. The Royal Commissioner was Mr. Wilfred Blacket, one of the leaders of the Bar in New South
Wales, and lie went very carefully into the charges laid by Mr. Webster. Mr. Webster practically constituted himself a prosecuting counsel, and watched the case in his own behalf. After having heard all the officials who were charged with extravagant waste and incompetence, Mr. Wilfred Blacket, in a condemnatory report, practically upheld the charges laid by Mr. Webster. Notwithstanding this, I have never heard that any of the officials were dismissed. We know, however, that soon after the report was published, two accountants - speaking from memory, I do not think they were in the Service - were appointed by the then Treasurer (Mr. Watt). These two gentlemen were directed to go into the whole matter again, and they dissected the report of Mr. Blacket. They were, in effect, another Royal Commission to inquire into the report submitted by Mr. Blacket. As an outcome of the investigation made by these two officers, apparently the Government of the day decided to accept their decision as against that of Mr. Blacket, who had the power conferred to take evidence on oath. So far as I know, the condemnatory report of the Royal Commissioner was not accepted by the Government, because the officials concerned were not removed from office. We know, however, that almost immediately after this happened the expenditure on the Federal Capital site dropped to about £45,000 in the first year to approximately £25,000 in the next, year, and to-day it is very small, largely owing, it is said, to the cessation of work due to the war. In view of the evidence, and the report submitted by Mr. Blacket, it seems remarkable that nothing was done by the Government except to appoint two accountants to go over the whole of the evidence previously taken. So far as we can gather, these gentlemen went to the very officials whom the report ‘ condemned, and they were assisted in the framing of their report by the gentlemen who were supposed to be guilty of extravagant expenditure, if not incompetency. The same Government are in power to-day, and up to the present nothing has been done. I suppose the officials are still holding their positions.
– Some of Mr. Blacket’s findings show, on the face of them, that they are incorrect.
– I have read them very carefully. I am not supporting Mr. Blacket, or any one else in this matter, but the position seems so very peculiar, and further attention should be given to the whole question.
In view of recent statements by the Prime Minister and others that Australia has to face an enormous debt, it makes those who fought the Prime Minister on his pet hobby of conscription glad that they did not agree to his proposal to send 16,500 men monthly from Australia. Bad as the financial position is to-day, it needs no stretch of imagination to realize what it would have been had the scheme of the Prime Minister, and . those supporting him, been adopted. Instead of our debt being something like £400,000,000, it would have been double that amount, and Australia would have been hopelessly bankrupt. If we had done what Mr. Hughes begged Australia to do at that time, at least double the number of men who left for the Front would have gone abroad under his conscription scheme, and probably the number of killed and wounded would have been doubled also. We, on this side, had to put up with a great deal of odium, and were separated from life-long political friends because we honestly believed that Australia could not do what Mr: Hughes and honorable senators opposite asked her to do, and that she could not be fairly called upon to do what they asked her to do in view of the fact that America’ was then taking part in the war, or about to do so.
– No. Russia was taking an active part in the war then, but not America.
– And instead of more men being killed, more men might have come back to Australia if conscription had been adopted. There are two sides to that question.
– That may be, but I think I have the stronger side. The people of Australia know well that in the war Australia did magnificently, and, in fact, in view of our distance from the seat of war, and other conditions, she did better than any other part of the British Empire.
– The honorable senator should not trade on the credit of the men who went to the Front.
– Yes, it was the men who went to the Front who did magnificently.
– Exactly. The men who went to the Front as volunteers represented Australia, and I say they did magnificently. If. the first conscription referendum had been carried, and, as Mr. Hughes suggested, ] 6,500 men per month were sent out of Australia, 200,000 men would have been sent away in the first twelve months after the adoption of the system, and we know that there was not anything like that number of volunteers sent away during that time. If the conscription system had been continued in force up to the time of the last shipment of Australian soldiers abroad, there would scarcely have been left a single ablebodied man in Australia to carry on the work to be done here.
Senator -E able. - And men who are now in graves in Europe would be coming back to us.
-That is a very cheap statement to make.
– Senator O’Keefe .:s making some cheap statements also.
– No; I am stating facts. .
– No ; the honorable senator is trying, to justify a very bad position..
– I say that in the war Australia did as well as, and all things considered she did better than, any other portion of the Empire. Our honorable friends opposite desired that she should do double what might fairly have been ‘expected of her, and what she did under the voluntary system. “What is the feeling in New Zealand to-day, a country which adopted conscription ? If one can judge from reports from that Dominion, New Zealand is in a fairly bad way because she adopted conscription, and because a number of men were sent to the war whom the country could not spare. I say that the number of men who would have been sent out of Australia if conscription had been adopted here, would have been greater than we could have spared if we were to redeem the promises made to those who went to the war, and to the dependants of those who will never return. With nearly all the best wageearners sent .out of the country, it would have been impossible for the handful of people who would have been left in Australia to redeem the pledges and promises made to those who went to the Front. It certainly would have been quite impossible for us to carry the increased burden of debt which would have been placed upon our shoulders.”
– The honorable senator may denounce conscription in Australia, but he ought to thank God that the system was in force in other countries.
– I do not thank God that the system of conscription was in force in other countries, because I say that Australia, taking all things into consideration, did as well under the voluntary system as did any country in which conscription was in force. But these are echoes of the past.
– No; they are echoes of speeches made by Mr. T. J. Ryan within the last couple of days.
- Mr. T. J. Ryan seems to be getting on the honorable senator’s nerves, though I do not know why he should. He would be an acquisition, to the Federal Parliament, or to any Parliament in Australia. His- work speaks for itself.
– It is speaking rather loudly just now.
– As Senator Foll has mentioned the name of a gentleman who is not here to speak for himself, I make the statement for him, that Mr. T. J. Ryan and his Government have done more for returned soldiers than has been done by any other State Government in Australia. His is the only State Labour Government in Australia, and they have done more in the way of justice to the returned soldiers than has been done by any other State Government. I think that, speaking relatively, it is probable that/ the Ryan Government have done more than the Federal Government in this regard.
– I may inform the honorable senator that in Tasmania a larger percentage of returned men requiring land has been placed upon the land than in any other State in the Common- » wealth.
– But under what conditions? Senator Millen cannot teach me very much about what Tasmania has done for returned soldiers and those who have been placed on the land in that State. I know under what conditions some of them have been placed on the land, and how they would like to get off it again.
– I do not know of many who want to get off the land again.
– It is a bad habit for the honorable senator to decry his own State.
– When Senator Millen refers to Tasmania by way of comparison, I say that I am very sorry indeed that I am unable to say that, in Tasmania, returned soldiers have received the same consideration as they have received in Queensland under Mr. Ryan’s Government. I would not have mentioned Mr. Ryan’s name if it had not been mentioned by Senator Foll, who, in the Senate, adorns the representation of the same State as Mr. Ryan adorns it in the Queensland Parliament. I hope that Mr. Ryan may adorn the Queensland representation in the Federal Parliament before very long.
– It 13 suggested that he is running away from his constituents.
– If that be so, he is only following the lead which Senator Earle’s leader has set. We know that, ever since Mr. Hughes proposed conscription, Senator Earle has regarded him as the greatest politician in the world.
– I have always been of that opinion.
– The honorable senator should not forget that Mr. Hughes did even more than he suggests that Mr. Ryan is about to do. Mr. Hughes ran away from the constituency that made him and kept him in the Federal Parliament for a number of years. He was afraid to face his constituents.
– If he did, he captured an Opposition seat, and Mr. Ryan is looking for a safe seat in Sydney.
– If so, Mr. Ryan will probably win it.
– Queensland has become too hot for him.
– Wo ; I think he could win any seat he liked to contest. I believe he could win any seat in Queensland from the party opposite.
– That is why he is looking in Sydney for a seat.
– Is- he going to lead the Labour party when he is next returned ?
– I am neither a prophet, nor the son of a prophet, but I say that whatever party Mr. Ryan may lead, he will lead it well, because he has shown his capacity to do so. I do not think that Senator Earle was very happy in his remark that Mr. Ryan was run ning away, because his own leader ran a long way from his former constituents.
– And . quite success- fully. He won the race, and I do not mind that.
– Probably if Mr. Ryan does the same thing, he will win hia race also. However, all these things have nothing to do with the Supply Bill. I apologize to honorable senators- for having kept them so long, but, as I have said, there are times when it is a political crime to remain silent, and that is why I have not remained silent to-day.
– I am rather sorry that the Government has not made the Peace Loan a compulsory loan. I believe that in floating a loan in Australia for repatriation . purposes, the Government should call upon people who have not contributed anything to previous loans to contribute to it. I recognise that there are some people in. Australia who have been willing and anxious to subscribe to previous loans, but have been unable to do so because they lacked the means. But I fee sure that there are others in the community who have had the means, and’ yet have not subscribed to any of the war loans. I refer especially to those of alien extraction. I am not one of those who would blame a person born in Germany or of German extraction who would not voluntarily subscribe to a loan for war purposes when he knew that the money was to be used in fighting his fatherland . It would be rather too much, in such circumstances, to ask such a person to voluntarily subscribe to a war loan, but I do think that we are quite justified in saying that contributions to the Peace . Loan shall be compulsory upon all but those who have subscribed to previous loans. 1 have no doubt there are some in our community not of alien extraction who have refused to subscribe to past loans because they have been able to get a better return from other investments of their money.
– And even by buying loans on the market.
– That is patriotism.
– I do not call that patriotism.
– Those people call themselves patriots. They were flagflappers.
– I do not say that they were patriots. A good many people who waved flags contributed largely to previous loans. I think it is quite possible that some waved flags and yet refused to contribute to our loans, though they had the means, and if there be any such people, by making the Peace Loan compulsory w.e should be able to deal with them. In referring to the Peace Loan, I notice that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) asked that it should be a voluntary loan. I notice that the Argus also suggested that the Peace Loan should be a voluntary one. It is not often that the Leader of the Opposition and the Argus are in accord, but in this particular instance they are. I can understand one who believes in the voluntary system as against conscription asking that the Peace Loan should be voluntary, but I have no sympathy with those who are prepared to conscript human life and baulk at the idea of conscripting wealth. I cannot understand how those who were in favour of conscription can object to .« compulsory loan. I repeat that I regret that the Peace Loan was not made compulsory, emphasizing the condition that compulsion should apply in the first instance to those who did not subscribe to any of our previous loans. It seems rather comical that people should go around addressing- meetings and asking other people to subscribe to this particular loan. In Sydney there is a place known as the Peace Temple, and there every afternoon some one is supposed to deliver addresses on behalf of the Peace loan. No doubt thousands of pounds have been subscribed by people who attend these meetings, but I contend that everybody who subscribes under these circumstances would in any circumstances invest in the loan, ‘ so the building has scarcely paid for the cost of erection. I think it will be a fair thing to ask those who have not subscribed hitherto to invest in this loan.
I should like some information as to the Government shipping policy. Statements have appeared in the press to the effect that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has purchased some steamers in order to go into the carrying trade between England and Australia. If that is so, he has my hearty support. I believe in Government-owned vessels for the carriage of our produce, .mails, and passengers to Great Britain, and I do not think it is at all likely that the Government will secure a monopoly, as the trade is too extensive. I am in hearty accord with the policy, but we have a right to know just what the Government are ‘doing and what they purpose doing. I shall be glad if, before the Supply Bill is passed, the Minister will take the Senate into his confidence. I do not see that there is anything that need be kept back.
Another matter upon which I desire information is the report appearing in the -press, that an effort is to be made by the Marconi people to link up England and Australia by wireless. Again, I have to rely for my information upon reports appearing in the public press. The PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Webster) is reported to have said that some such proposition has been made, but that it requires serious handling, and that the reason why he was not anxious to rush the proposal was that he had to take into consideration the position of the Pacific cable. It is possible that if all the conditions were fulfilled to provide cheaper communication by direct wireless, the revenue of the Pacific cable might be interfered with. I believe it would be a very good thing indeed to have the cheapest possible communication between Australia and the Old Country, and I would not hesitate for one moment to scrap the Pacific cable if by so doing we could get something cheaper and better. Whether the proposal made by the Marconi people is a good one or not I do not know, but I should be glad if the Minister could furnish the Senate with some information on this subject. A great deal of the business between Australia and England is done by cable service rather than by mail, and whilst, within certain limits, the cost ‘of cabling is not of much concern to business people, because they can pass it on, I am anxious that the service, either of cable communication or wireless, should be so cheap as to enable the ordinary citizens of both Australia and England to use it more freely. Personally, I do not believe that wireless will absolutely supersede the cable system, and that, therefore, it will be necessary to scrap the Pacific cable; but, as I have already said, I would not hesitate to go even to that extent if we could provide some other system which would enable us to communicate mora cheaply with other parts of the Empire and the world.
In common with other honorable senators, I have received a communication from the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Glynn), dealing with Government proposals for the development of the Papuan oil resources. This memorandum states that arrangements have been made with the British Government to work the oil-fields in partnership. I regret that we are not doing this work ourselves. I see no necessity to go to England for money to develop those oilfields.
– Is it not an arrangement to explore, rather than to work, the oil-fields?
– I understand from the memorandum that the British Government are prepared to go into partnership with the Commonwealth Government to explore and work the fields.
– Oil there would be a valuable asset.
– It might be; but Australia is financially strong enough to explore and work the supplies without assistance. If we go into partnership with Great Britain, naturally the Government of the Mother Country will have something to say in the matter of carrying’ on, and the appointment of officials.
– Is it not an argument that the British Government can provide the men with experience?
– That may be so; but the Commonwealth Government could obtain and pay for the services of these experts. I understand that the Government did send to England for an expert, and that Dr. Wade was recommended. If all that has been said about him- is true, he has not been a brilliant success. The Senate is justified in seeking information with regard to this important subject. In my opinion, partnership with the Imperial Government will not mean expedition in development. We have been a bit slow ourselves during the past four or five years; but it is the usual experience that if two Governments are associated iu a certain undertaking, the work will be done in a much more leisurely fashion than if one Government* only were responsible.
There is one other matter with which I propose to deal. I notice that in another House - I understand that, according to our Standing Orders, we must not refer to that Chamber as the House of Representatives - I notice that in another place-
– Not to be mentioned.
– That is so. In another place members are continually asking questions about the proposed new electoral system for the Senate; and I think we have an equal right to ask something about electoral matters as they affect the other place. In my opinion, the time has come for a redistribution of seats in the House of Representatives. I am of the opinion that, before the House of . Representatives seeks to interfere with the system upon which members of this Chamber are elected, it should put its own house in order. I asked a question yesterday with respect to the number of voters in the electorates throughout the Commonwealth; and I was furnished with interesting information I shall cite a few typical cases. In the electorate of Parkes, a Sydney district, there are 63,000 electors. There are only 27,000 electors in the Barrier electorate, ‘ and 27,000 in the adjoining district of Darling. Those two electorates between them contain only 54,000 voters, while the metropolitan electorate of Parkes has 63,000. That is to say, one New South Wales constituency contains 10,000 more electors than two others combined. There are twenty-seven electorates in New South Wales, ten of which sent Labour representatives to Parliament, while the other seventeen are represented by Nationalist, members. The total number of electors in those ten Labour districts is 348,000. In the seventeen Nationalist electorates there are 678,000 electors. The average in the ten .Labour districts is 34,500 : while the average in the other seventeen districts is 40,000. The quota in New South Wales is 38,000 voters per district. It will be seen, then, that the ten Labour electorates’ average 4,000 below the quota, while the seventeen Nationalist districts average 2,000 above the quota. In Queensland, the seats held by the Labour party are representative of 130,000 electors, while in the districts which sent Nationalists to the Federal Parliament there are 241,000 electors. The average per Labour electorate is 32,000, and the Nationalist electorates average 40,000. The quota is 37,670. Thus, the Labour districts are, roughly, 5,000 below the quota, while the Nationalist districts are 3,000 above. I do” not wish to see anything in the way of “ jerrymandering,” but it is manifestly unfair and unreasonable that the Nationalist Government should shortly authorize a general election, while Nationalist electors are so startingly at a disadvantage in respect of representation.
– You believe in proportional representation,’ then?
– I believe in the system of single electorates, and in those electorates containing, as nearly as possible, an equal number of voters. I will concede that country electorates should not be required to contain- so many electors as city districts.
In the other chamber yesterday, a question was asked regarding the doings of Mr. H. Y. Braddon in England. I understand that he has acted as Trade Commissioner in the United States of America, and that he is now in London. The reply furnished to the inquiry in another place was to the effect that Mr. Braddon had been appointed in an honorary capacity to assist in. handling the business side of the Commonwealth London Agency in regard to the expansion of trade between Australia and Europe, in the advertising of Australia, and in the protection and promotion of Government commercial contracts. One phase of Mr. Braddon ‘s work, then, is to assist in advertising Australia. Naturally, one asks what is going on iri Australia House. I take it that the High Commissioner *i** still there, and that his responsibilities still include the advertising of Australia. There is a fairly good and extensive staff in Australia House.
– Housed within a marble palace !
– Australia House is a great advertisement, and a fine asset to Australia. I was concerned to some extent in the purchase of the land for that building, and in the details of its construction; but these duties which have been honorarily undertaken by Mr. Braddon are those that should be engaging the attention of the High Commissioner. Why should Mr. Braddon’s services’ be required?
I desire to know whether the New South Wales Government has rented some portion of Australia House for its Agent.General? It was mentioned in the press borne time ago that New South Wales had taken certain space in Australia House as a rental of £4,000 per annum. I hope that it is so. It is not for me to criticise the actions of the various State Governments, but when I was in London I was struck by the fact that the AgentsGeneral were scattered about the city. It seemed unfortunate that they were not concentrated at Australia House. That would have constituted a far greater advertisement both for the States and for the Commonwealth. The idea, when Australia House was erected, was that the State Agents-General should be invited to take suites within the building; but no definite arrangements were made, with any of the State Governments. The Commonwealth authorities were not able to state what space would be available, or what the rental was likely to be. But it was undertaken that the Federal Government would endeavour to accommodate the representatives of the States. It seemed, obviously, the best course to place the High Commissioner and all the Agents-General under the one roof. The Victorian Agent-General is at Australia House. As a matter of fact, that official occupied premises upon the site before Australia House was built. The Victorian authorities treated the Commonwealth Government very handsomely. They were quite ready to part with their portion of the site, and agreed to pay, for a suite at Australia. House, an annual rental which would be equivalent to the interest upon capital outlaid in the purchase of their portion of the site and in the construction of their offices. It was “ unfortunate for New South Wales that that State should have remained aloof. It has been a situation which has been detrimental to the best interests of the States. I hope the time is not far distant when each of the State AgentsGeneral will have his head-quarters within Australia’ House.
– I would not have addressed the Senate but for certain remarks of Senator Ferricks last evening. The honorable senator presented information regarding the cost of living in Queensland. I have gone to some trouble to-day to examine official statements and statistics, and I have come to the conclusion that Senator Ferricks’ arguments regarding the manner in which the cost of living is alleged to have decreased since Mr. Ryan’s access to office - following upon the -defeat of the Denham
Government - are not according to fact. Senator Ferricks is endeavouring, no doubt, to putin a good word for his future leader. He desires to take every opportunity now to say what he can in favour of Mr. Ryan. He looks upon that gentleman in the light of successor either to Senator Gardiner in this Chamber or to Mr. Tudor in another place. I understand that the Premier of Queensland has not yet made up his mind which of the two Houses of the Federal Legislature he will enter; but, because of the respect in which I hold Senator Gardiner, I trust that Mr. Ryan will endeavour to find a seat in another place. When war was declared against Germany by England on the 4th August”, 1914, a Liberal Government held office in Queensland. That Government retained office till about the third month of 1915. I recollect learning the results of the election in which they suffered defeat, during the early stages of the Gallipoli campaign. Upon page 46 of a report issued by Mr. Knibbs relating to Prices, Purchasing Power of Money, Wages, &c, are set out the amounts necessary on the average, in each year, from 1901 to the first quarter of 1919, to purchase in each capital town what would have cost, on the average, £1 in 1911 in the Australian capitals regarded as a whole. These figures show that, at the commencement of the war, the amount required was 20s. 1d., and that it rose to 21s.1d. - an increase of1s. - during the period that the Liberal Administration held office.
– Give us the figures for June, 1915.
– The Ryan Government took office early in 1915, and controlled prices until the middle of 1916. During that period the amount needed to purchase what would have cost £1 in 1911 increased from 21s.1d. to 24s.1d., an increase of 3s., or 200 per cent, more than the increase which took place during the period that the Liberal Administration were in office. The Federal Government took controlof prices about the middle of 1916, and the amount then declined to 22s.11d., but subsequently increased gradually to 25s.1d., up to the time of the signing of the Armistice.
– Tell us the increase which took place after the elections in June, 1917.
– I have given the figures from the time that the Common wealth Government took control of price- fixing until it relinquished that control. Never during the period that prices were controlled by the Commonwealth did they exceed the amounts reached during the time that the Ryan Government controlled them, notwithstanding that the Commonwealth was required to face shipping difficulties drought, and other adverse conditions, whichwere not previously operative.
– Why, every page of Knibbs contradicts the honorable senator’s statement.
– I think that Senator Ferricks must acknowledge that his figures have been refuted. Senator Thomas has directed attention to Australia House, in London. Whilst I am of opinion that everything should be done to insure that a good advertisement is given to Australia, by the AgentsGeneral and our High Commissioner, action should certainly be taken to prevent misleading statements being circulated in England to the effect that sovereigns may be picked up in the streets of our cities. In this connexion, I propose to quote from a pamphletwhich was issued by a candidate at the last general elections in England. It reads -
Some Facts from Australian Experience.
Queensland before the Labour Victory.
Queensland had been ruled for years, up to the war, by capitalists, called Liberals. Before the war had lasted a week,’ these Liberal Cabinet Ministers, while promoting recruiting, were privately touring the country, buying up all the foodstuffs, and putting up the prices 50 per cent. to 100 per cent.
So Ryan, the Labour Leader, began touring the country, collecting evidence of their deals, which he proclaimed everywhere. In ten months they had made £20,000,000..
Ten months after the beginning of the war there was a general election, with the result that Ryan was returned to power, and was called upon to form a Ministry, with a majority of seventeen.
By a Sugar Acquisition Act he reduced sugar to pre-war prices. He took the duty off tea (and Australia is alleged to be unanimously and incurably Protectionist), and so supplied the people with a good quality at 1s. per lb., instead of 3s.6d. or 4s.
He took 9,000,000 acres of unused land withoutcompensation, and intends to take 200,000,000 more at the same price.
– The honorable senator cannot blame him for that.
– This intimation must have come from some of Mr. Ryan’s friends, if not from Mr. Ryan himself -
He reduced meat from ls. 3d. to 64d., and pig iron from £11 10s. per ton to £4.
Ite lias provided 872 bouses for discharged soldiers, and a farm each for over 5,000; if they don’t know how to farm, they are .supplied with competent teachers, and paid £2 a week, board and lodging, .while learning.
He socialized the hospitals and asylums, so as to remove the stigma of pauperism from those who were unable to pay. livery widow had 15s. a week; orphans were provided for; baby clinics were provided; and a legal working week of forty-four hours was enacted.
They have State trawlers, and their hauls of fish being greater than local consumption, the surplus was frozen and exported - waste and overlapping of private enterprise being avoided.
The Coalition Government had just been selling State-built and State-owned vessels back to private enterprise.
Then, note these other food products, and how their prices were steadied by Statu production: - Butter was ls. a lb.; cheese, 8d. and 0d.; honey, 5d.; oranges and other fruit, 4d. a dozen; all these were supplied from a State Socialist colony on the Mumimbidgee, with a population of 100,000, and established at a cost of £3,500,000.
Ryan’s Second Victory
Of course, all these things were fiercely opposed, secretly, if not openly, by the capitalists, who alleged that he had no mandate for doing all these things, so Ryan decided to appeal to the people before his time was up. To meet this, the Liberals and Tories united against him, calling themselves the National and Patriotic party.
A number of most popular officers were released from the Front to stand as candidates against him. The press was deluged with “atheism,” “free love,” “German gold,” &c. Not one was returned.
The result was that Ryan came back with an increased majority - fifty-one to twenty-one.
Some New Proposals and Comparisons
He is now proposing to pension off everybody at fifty-five (as was done in ancient Peru, under the Incas) at the rate of £5’ a week; whereas in Britain, against the old-age pension of 5s. a week (recently increased to 7s. 6d.) generals retire on £3,000 a year; Judges on £3,500; and, while soldiers’ widows get 12s. 6d.’ a’ week, Lady Maude got £25,000, which, invested in war loan, will give her and her heirs £15 a week. And, while the patriotic British Government give the soldiers 10s. 6d. a week, this Labour ‘ Government gives them £2 2s.. a week, and 35s. a week for their wives and widows.
Vote for Cape, the Labour candidate, and similar legislation for England.
Australia, I think, should be advertised through the medium of the AgentsGeneral and the High Commissioner, but the dissemination of statements of the character which I have read is not calculated to benefit this country. When speaking upon the Address-in-Reply, I made a suggestion concerning the representation of the Commonwealth, in London. While I recognise that Mr. Fisher is an ideal man for the office of High Commissioner-
– At any rate, he is doing useful work for Australia. But we cannot be adequately represented in London until Ave have a man there who is clothed with executive authority. There will then be no necessity for sending a Cabinet Minister overseas whenever difficult questions arise which require solution. I ask the Government to give’ this matter their serious consideration. At present we are represented in London by a public servant possessing very little authority, and certainly no executive authority. Representation of that nature is not likely to be satisfactory.
– It is evident that a responsible Minister will have to be in London more than has been the practice in the past.
– Exactly. Our commercial and other “ relations with Great Britain are becoming so extensive that we should have a responsible Minister in London all the time, even if the position of High Commissioner has to be maintained .-
– That is your idea of economy; two men to do the one job.
– I would suggest that the office of High Commissioner be dispensed with, and that Australia be represented by a member of the Commonwealth Cabinet.
– Would the Cabinet sit in’ London?
– There would be only one Minister in London. During recent times three have been absent, and apparently the work has been -carried on satisfactorily.
With Senator Newland. I resent the sneers hurled at the Prime Minister by members of the Opposition, and the suggestion that returned soldiers have been used bv Mr. Hughes to give him a cheap advertisement. No one is going to resent that sort of stuff more than the returned soldiers themselves. Our returned men represent the flower of Australian manhood. They are men who have had their minds broadened by travel, and are not likely, on their return to Australia, to allow themselves to be used by any political party. It must be apparent to every one that our soldiers rallied around the Prime Minister, and crowned him with a “ Digger’s “ hat, because he has always been their friend. That is why the Prime Minister had such a fine reception in travelling from west to east. I throw back the dirty insinuation into the teeth of those who made it. The soldiers realize, perhaps, more than any one else, that it was the Prime Minister who endeavoured to secure reinforcements, to obtain leave for ‘them, and in many other ways to be their guide, counsellor, and friend.
– May I take this opportunity to answer some of the statements made regarding the necessity for economy in the Defence Department, and in doing so give, in general terms, a statement of the progress we are making in the work of demobilization. Judging by statements which appeared in the press concerning the necessity for economy, and of abolishing the staffs, it would seem that demobilization could be carried out by a wave of the hand. I do not think there is a clear conception of the work involved in demobilizing a large number of men in varying conditions of health. When I first undertook the work of Acting Minister for Defence, demobilization was being rapidly carried out. I took the opportunity of inquiring as to the number of boats likely to be required, the cost per thousand men on the pay-sheets, and the amount likely to be involved in demobilizing our Forces. It was seen that if 2,000 to 2,500 men were to return per month, twelve or fifteen boats would be required, and that a number of men on reaching Australia would be desirous of collecting their deferred pay at the earliest possible moment. It has also to be remembered that many who were ill in various camps had to be transferred to Australia. During the influenza epidemic it was not desirable to land invalids in Australia, and yet no fewer than ten transports arrived within three days from Port Said, and, during bad weather, the invalids were landed. After the signing of the armistice it was as sumed by some that the whole of our war organization could immediately be abolished, but that was impossible, particularly when we remember the distance our soldiers had to be carried. In order to make payment at the earliest possible moment, it was necessary to keep up the average pay 6taff to cope with the work involved by the arrival of fifteen transports per month. The same boats were used over and over again, and we could not dispense with the pay staff until the last of the fifteen boats had. completed its final trip. It has not been possible to effect a drastic saving in connexion with our hospitals, pay work, and demobilization generally. Inquiries have been made as to the position in other countries, which -show that we are paying off our men faster than any other country that was engaged in the war.
Reference has been made to the retinue of Senator Pearce, but I do not think it is generally known that a number of the pay clerks who accompanied him - the Minister for Defence - were in no way connected with his trip. They were men who had received special training in the Department, and who went to Great Britain to carry out important work with which they were familiar. There were even rumours abroad that some of the men so despatched were failures, and had to return to Australia. When a transport leaves London with 1,200 men on board, the soldiers bring their pay-books, which have been made up to within two days of their departure from London, with them on to the boat. In London, a photograph is taken of each pass-book, and a pay clerk returns on the transport. During the voyage he compares the photograph of the book with those in possession of the soldiers, and any point in dispute is easily and satisfactorily adjusted on the vessel. During the influenza epidemic, when transports were quarantined at Queenscliff for three or four days, the soldiers’ accounts were completed in such a way that payment could be made immediately on arrival at the depot. Generally speaking, it has been a very effective system, and has led to the removal of a lot of discontent. I wish to say quite- candidly that the work of Senator Pearce, the man who has been responsible for our war organization here, hae been a great success, and it is a pity he was not in London four or five months earlier.
SenatorFerricks. - If he had been there two or three years sooner the country would have been saved a lot of expense.
– Only to-day, a very high tribute was paid to Senator Pearce in connexion with his efforts in returning men from Egypt with the least possible delay.
– Is not that a reflexion on General Monash?
– Not in any sense, because a Minister possesses privileges and authority not possessed by military officers. I was given to understand by my informant thata letter sent by Senator Pearce was one of the hottest things he had ever seen, and would never have been written by a military officer. It was essential when there was a scramble for boats to have a Minister on the spot. Before the armistice was signed, the. approximate number of men of all ranks in the Australian Imperial Force abroad was as follows: - United Kingdom - in hospital, 14,175; others, 49,074; France - in hospital, 5,496; others, 86,884 ; Egypt and Palestine - in hospital, 2,777; others, 13,873; Mesopotamia - in hospital and others, 345. The total number in hospital was 22,448, and the total of others 150,176, making a grand total of 172,624. The number of all ranks in Australia was - In camp, 8,117 ; in and attending hospitals, 4,167 ; others. 535 ; or a total of 12,S19. The approximate number of all ranks abroad in the Australian Imperial Force at the. date of the last available return was as follow : - United Kingdom - military employed, 8,866 ; nonmilitary employed, 3,618 ; awaiting shipment, 3,977; in hospital, 940; France - in hospital, 35 ; others (including graves detachments), 748; Egypt - others, 147; Mesopotamia - in hospital, 3 ; others, 52. The total number in hospital was 978, and the total of others 17,408, making a grand total of 18,386. The approximate number of all ranks in Australia at the date of the last available return was: - In or attending hospitals, 11,626; others (including Australian Imperial Force men on furlough prior to discharge), 24,408; or a total of 36,034. The number of patients in hospital increased from 2,700 to 11,626, and necessarily a number of attendants had to be employed in and about hospitals to look after those men. It was impossible to carry out effective and heavy retrenchments as suggested in the press. The same remarks will apply equally to the men coming from overseas.
We had difficulty in obtaining the services of competent men to undertake clerical and accountancy work.Early in the war we were successful in inducing quite a number of skilled accountants and others to leave their occupations and take up work in the Defence Department for the period of the war. But at the presenttime every temporary officer in the Defence Department is endeavouring to secure private employment before his services are no longer required. To illustrate that difficulty, I may point out that whilst there was an increase in the number of patien ts of 117 per cent., the increase in the staff was only 35 per cent. There will continue to be for some time a considerable number of patients in the hospitals, and these figures show why we have not been able to make the reductions that were anticipated by some people. In vieAV of the hundreds of thousands of men who have had to be dealt with, no one would think that to-day there are less than 5,000 men in the whole of Australia engaged in home service in connexion with war work and the completion of war work.
Prior to my going to the Department, the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) had established what was known as the Home Service Personnel Commission, whose duty it was to visit each State and inquire into the discharge of men and the reduction of staffs, and see that it kept pace with demobilization. This body has been very active, and has effected very many economies in the different States. It has been found that, in view of the number of transports arriving, no reductions have been possible in the staffs of the Staff Officers for Invalids, which in some cases have had to be slightly increased to enable them to cope with the work. Then the occurrence of the influenza epidemics and the high rate of sickness amongst staffs in the various States, as well as an increase in the number of patients, have likewise rendered necessary augmented staffs in hospitals. Senator Millen will be able to tell honorable senators something of the effect of the influenza epidemic upon a departmental staff, because his Department of Repatriation was practically closed because of it.
Retrenchment has taken place in every other Department. The Home Service Personnel Commission, after paying one round of visits to the different States, began a second tour of. the various military districts on the 3rd July last, commencing with the 3rd Military District. Before going out, they were given by the Minister the right to finally decide who should be demobilized. In Queensland and Western Australia and remote districts it was impossible for me to inquire into individual cases, and I gave the Commission full power to discharge or order the retirement of any men whose services they considered were no longer required. As a result of their last tour there were savings effected of £1,398 per annum in the 1st Military District; £22,990 per annum in the 2nd Military District, and £8,745 per annum in the 4th Military District, or a total saving of £33,133 per annum. I quote these figures for the purpose of showing that retrenchment’ has been going on in the Defence Department ever since the armistice was signed.
Directions have been given to Commandants to review establishments fortnightly, and to report what reductions have been made. The Sydney Pay Office reduced the staff by, roughly, 100 men during last month, and we are assured of further reductions within the next month. It is well to inform honorable senators that a reduction of 100 men is equivalent to a saving, roughly, of £18,000 per annum. Since the armistice the Base Records staff has been reduced by 137 men, equivalent to an annual saving, roughly, of £25,000. The Guard will be reduced by .200 men to-morrow, which will mean a saving, roughly, of £36,500 per annum. This Guard, at the time of the armistice, numbered, roughly, 900. It was reduced to 581 at the end of last month, making a saving by that date of £56,210 per annum. The Personnel Commission has recommended to the Minister the gradual replacing of District Guards by Permanent Artillery, and the Minister is favorable to that recommendation. In New South Wales and Victoria the immediate saving will be £47,350. The Commission has directed Commandants to replace mobilized officers with permanent officers as the latter become available on return from active service. That is to say, when permanent men who have been at the Front are demobilized as they return from active service, positions will be found for them in the Department, and Home Service men must make way for them. The savings effected by the Commission on their first tour amounted to over £250,000 per annum.
Within a few short weeks we may hope that the great bulk of our Australian soldiers will have returned. I believe it to be the wish of the people of Australia and the duty of this Parliament to see that every soldier maimed in the war should, on his return to Australia, receive the best possible treatment in hospital. I do not believe that any citizen of Australia desires that we should practice economy which would make us false to the promises we have made to our soldiers that on their return they would be well treated. I believe it is the desire of every one in Australia, now that the war is over, that as soon as their accounts can be made up our soldiers shall be demobilized and settled in civil life at the earliest possible moment. No one would. I think, indorse a policy of economy which would result in creating discontent amongst the men who have served Australia so well.
Reviewing the present position, there are now thirty boats on the way to Australia, and it is clear that a busy time is in front of the pay office and the medical men in charge of our hospitals in dealing with the men returning by those vessels. After they have been dealt with, we may look for a return to normal conditions sd far as the Defence Department is concerned.
I do not object to criticism based upon facts, but I trust that this explanation will put an end to the loose talk to which we have listened, wherein it is suggested that now that the war is over we can abolish the Defence Department. Honorable senators will see that we have still the responsibility of providing carefully and adequately for many of those who have served us so well at the Front.
– I take advantage, of the first reading of the Supply Bill to refer to one or two matters which have not been touched on or only briefly referred to by preceding speakers. Some of them are matters in respect of which I have during the session of this year addressed questions to Ministers. I have met the fate of other honorable senators very often by receiving an insufficient reply or inadequate information. I have noticed that there is a disposition on the part of Ministers to take advantage of their right to refuse to answer any question by submitting answers in such a way as to preserve an appearance of replying to questions put to them, while not replying to them at all. I can quite well understand that so far as a Tariff is concerned, and more especially as regards particular items of a proposed Tariff, no honorable senator should seek to extract from Ministers information in anticipation of its introduction. It is not usual to disclose such information. It is not usual even to say when the introduction of a Tariff may be expected. Without going into details at all, members of the general public very often, and properly, assume that there is likely to be an increase in the duties upon certain items, and if they are given the information that a new Tariff may be shortly expected, they may make arrangements with the Customs House accordingly, and possibly succeed in avoiding the payment of higher rates of -duty. So far, as regards such matters, I can quite understand the attitude of the Minister in refusing information in reply to questions. But ir honorable senators will look through Ilansard and notice the questions that have been put to Ministers by honorable senators on both sides, they will find that throughout the session there has been a growing disposition on the part of Ministers to decline to give any information. It would be far better that they should retain their seats when questions are asked to which they do not wish to reply, than that they should get up and read something purporting to be a reply which is not a reply at all, and which in many cases does not touch the question that has been asked. That is only making a mockery of the situation, and it discourages honorable senators from trying to extract from Ministers information which is not only valuable and required by them, and by their constituents, but which, if given, would very often place the Ministry in a more favorable light in the eyes of the people.
Sitting suspended from 6-30 to 8 p.m.
– At the time of the suspension of the sitting I was mak ing reference to the nature of the replies that are often furnished by Ministers to questions asked by honorable members on both sides of the chamber. I was referring not so much to the replies to the questions without notice as to those to questions . upon notice. I detect very often in the tenor of those replies, not the mind of the Minister who is actually answering the question, but the mind of some officer of a Department. I know from my own experience as a Minister in this Chamber that, on many occasions, when representing another Minister who held a portfolio, I was called upon to make replies to honorable senators’ questions, both without notice and upon notice, and very often, in the earlier days of my experience, I found that replies furnished by Departments were not in the slightest degree courteous to the Senate, or to individual members of this Chamber. On several occasions I went so far as to send them back to the Departments, realizing that they were offensive, and in one or two instances, I regret to say, insolent. I am not saying that insolent replies have been given to honorable senators’ questions upon notice recently, but I have frequently noticed that the replies, obviously furnished by officers in the Departments, and sometimes received by a Minister at the moment he is asked the question, have not given the information sought for, although, if supplied, it would have been of benefit to the Senate, and very often an advantage to the Government.
– The honorable senator will recognise the difference between questions bona fide seeking information and those which are in the nature of pitfalls for innocent Ministers.
– I do; and very often I think that questions intended to elicit information would, if properly replied to, be an advantage to the Government, as well as to the community.’ Frequently, departmental officers are unduly apprehensive of pitfalls, and exercise their ingenuity in furnishing something in the nature of evasive replies.
There is one matter in respect of which I have asked some questions this session, namely, the amendment of the Public Service Act. I cannot now dwell at any length upon this matter, but I point out that the Acting Public Service Commissioner, in his annual report of last year, and of this year also, emphasizes the importance of an almost immediate amendment of the Act with regard to the subject of dual furlough. On pages 18 and 19 of his report for 1917-18 appears the heading “ Dual Furlough,” and, in the course of his comments, the Acting Public Service Commissioner states -
Until early in 1916 it was accepted that in no circumstances could an officer be granted more than six months’ furlough on full pay, or twelve months’ on half pay,during his official career, and, as a corollary, that he or his dependants could not receive, upon his retirement or death, payment in lieu, of furlough ifhe had availed of furlough beforehand.
On 6th April, 1016, however, the Acting Attorney-General gave an opinion to the following effect: -
The fact that an officer had furlough over twenty years ago whilst in the State Service, would not be a bar to his now being granted furlough under section 71 of the Commonwealth Public Service Act.
The fact that an officer had furlough in 1903 would not be a bar to his being granted furlough in 1924 under section 71.
The history of the transactions between the Department and the Crown Law authorities of the Commonwealth is recorded rather briefly. Then: -
The result has been that, while a comparatively small number of officers have participated in the benefits conferred by the new order of things, it will not be possible, in the present state of the law, to extend the same treatment to a much larger number of officers because of circumstances over which they have no control. For instance, many applications for furlough have been deferred for various reasons, such as inability to release the applicant on account of the amount and nature of his work, or the difficulty of providing efficient relief. In some cases officers have refrained from applying for furlough in the knowledge, which, it now transpires, was incorrect, that it could only be availed of once, and they preferred to postpone their leave until retirement, when they would receive pay in lieu of furlough. These officers also regarded the provision for payment in lieu to their dependants, in the event of their death, as something in the nature of life assurance for the benefit of their families, and purposely forbore to apply for furlough on that account. At one time the Act prescribed that an officer would not be entitled to receive any addition to his rate of pay for the period of his absence on furlough, and as the amount of salary of an officer determined his relative seniority, he was dis inclined to risk loss of seniority by taking furlough.
At the present time, officers who have served for twenty years are entitled to a certain amount of furlough, and the Acting Attorney-General has given an” opinion tothe effect that, if an officer had furlough over twenty years ago, whilst in the State service, that would not bar him from a further period of furlough under section 71 of the Commonwealth Public Service Act. The Acting Public Service Commissioner, in his report for last year, recommended that the Act should be amended. He says, later on in his report -
In numerous cases they are nearing the retiring age, and cannot even avail of the provisions of regulation 89a for leave proportionate to length of service subsequent to furlough.
The present position is that an officer who has had twenty years’ service is entitled to furlough,but before he can get a furlough again he must serve another twenty years. If he has served twelve years only, he cannot take a pro raid furlough for that period, but must serve forty years before he is entitled to his second quantum of furlough. This has worked numerous cases of hardship throughout the Service. It is not necessary for me to go through what the Acting Public Service Commissioner says, in his report of last year, that is 1918-19, as honorable senators have a copy of that document, and oo doubt have read his remarks. He comes back to” the subject, and on page 48, in his concluding remarks, he states -
In my last report it was suggested that, because of the unsatisfactory position in regard to furlough benefits, an early amendment of the Public Service Act should be made to place all officers with more than twenty years’ service on an equal footing by providing for the grant to officers retiring after the age of sixty years of additional furlough, or its monetary equivalent, proportionate to their length of service above twenty years, or equivalent paymentto dependants in the event of the officer’s death.
This aspect of the subject should be considered. Before dependants of an officer who dies are entitled to an amount of money corresponding to the furlough period, the officer must have served the full period of twenty years. Apparently this was never intended by Parliament, and I ask the Minister to get his colleagues to consider this report, together with the preceding report of the Acting Public Service Commissioner. Although it may be contemplated, as indicated in answer to a question which I submitted to the Minister, to review the- whole Public Service generally, so far as Statute governs it, I think it desirable that an anomaly of this character, which results in numerous cases of injustice, and to which the Acting Public Service Commissioner felt compelled to direct attention last year, and again this year, might at least be swept away. I hope Ministers will consider the advisableness of dealing with the Public Service Act accordingly.
Notwithstanding that, perhaps, a little more time has been afforded honorable senators to discuss this Supply Bill than has been available in respect of some preceding Bills of a like nature, I regret that we are still limited in our discussion, not in the sense that Senator Gardiner ‘so often takes implied exception to, but because Supply Bills are presented to the Senate at a time when it is necessary that money should be provided at no very distant point of time - it might be a matter of a few hours. To that extent, therefore, we are restricted in dealing with various matters which we would like to bring up for discussion upon a, Supply Bill. I am not quite sure what period this Bill is intended to cover.
– Three months.
– That means, then, that practically’ for another three months we shall have no opportunity of discussing grievances, such as is afforded to honorable senators on the first reading of this Bill.’ The last Supply Bill was before the Senate soon after we met, and we were a little more cramped for time then ‘than now, with the result that certain honorable senators refrained from unduly discussing matters in the nature of grievances, which mav properly , be mentioned in a debate of this character. But on a Supply Bill anterior to the last, - I addressed myself, among other matters, to the institution of the Commonwealth Police Force. Honorable senators on both sides of the chamber on that occasion also adverted expressly to the institution of that Force. I pointed out that I considered that before we should be asked to make any monetary provision for the maintenance of that Force, Parliament should be informed as to its nature, its constitution, the regulations for its order, its discipline, its extent ; in fact, that the whole police policy of the Commonwealth should have been laid down.
– Could it be legally established except under war powers?
– Is not the main point whether the Force is required or not?
– That is the point. I do not think there is any doubt regarding the competence of the Commonwealth Executive to bring into being, at any time, a Commonwealth Police Force, irrespective of conditions of war or of peace. But a Police Force, if it is to he established for. anything more than a passing emergency, should be constituted and regulated by a Statute of the Parliament, as is the case in every one of the States, and in every country in the world, I dare say, where there is a Parliament and where a Police Force exists. I have previously stated that, unless the Government were prepared to submit to Parliament their, entire policy regarding a Police Force, and to ask the Parliament to regulate by Statute the establishment, maintenance, and order of that Force, I, for one, would not feel disposed to go on, time after time, granting a free hand for the maintenance of a body which has been brought into being by Executive act.
– “Will not the Force cease to exist on. the-expiration of the War Precautions Act and its regulations.
– Not necessarily. I have already said that the Force could have been brought into existence irrespective of the war.
– Besides, the Prime Minister will want the Force again when he goes back to Warwick.
– I do not know that there i3 anything in the Bill which indicates under which heading the money is to be voted for covering the financial requirements of the Force.
– Senator Pearce once suggested that it was to be a continuous Force for service in regard to the Customs Department, the Post Office, and such institutions.
– In a previous reference to this matter I spoke of the Post Office and the Customs Department as having police of their own. Prior to . the establishment of the Commonwealth Force there were Customs and Postal detectives. In a sense, they were Commonwealth Police officers, but their police duties were specific, and were restricted. This Commonwealth Force, however,’ is analogous to the ordinary State Police Forces, which have had their origin in specific State Statutes. The Commonwealth body has been brought into existence by the Federal Executive. State Executives could have proceeded similarly, but the Police Departments in the several States are the creatures, so to speak, of specific Statutes, and are regulated by those enactments. It will be recalled that the Federal Parliament resumed its sittings in the middle of this year; and this is the second Supply Bill which we have been asked to pass. It is intended to carry us on for another three months. In the schedule, it will be noted that in every division .and subdivision the details are confined under the headings of “ Salaries “ and “ Contingencies “ ; and there is very little information beyond that. When we have passed this measure, the Government will be able to carry on for a further three months, malting a total of practically six months of the current financial year. If the Estimates had been, submitted, and if the Budget had been introduced, honorable senators and members of another place would now have in’ their possession detailed Estimates of Expenditure for the present financial year; and, by reference to those detailed Estimates, we would ‘be able to discover, in respect of every item in this skeleton Supply Bill, exactly what we are voting for. Of course, reference might be had to last . year’s Estimates, but it is quite possible that they would prove a fallacious guide. When we pass this Bill, the. Government will have secured, for practically one-half of the current year, Supply based upon Estimates which have not yet been submitted. When those Estimates do come before us, in the form of a schedule to an Appropriation Bill, and when honorable senators take the responsibility of questioning the propriety of any particular item in them we shall be met with the Ministerial remark, “But you have already voted part of this item twice. First, you agreed to a portion of it when you granted Supply for three months in July last, and then again, in September, you granted Supply for a further three months. You might as well accede to the granting of the remainder of this item.” Contingencies cover a multitude of items. If the Estimates were before us, we would be able to see how their items are set out under the heading of ft Contingencies.” Although I have looked carefully through the schedule to this Bill, I have failed to discover the particular item under which it is proposed to cover expenditure upon the Commonwealth Police Force. No doubt, if I were to look up last year’s Estimates, .1 would be able to track the item down in the schedule of this Bill. But the Government should inform us of its- intentions in regard to the Commonwealth Police Force. If the Government proposes to make it a permanent ‘body, and believes that it- should be so, or if the Government intends to expand it, and is of opinion that it should be expanded, no doubt the responsible Minister in this chamber could make out a good case for such procedure. (He would be able to adduce arguments which would commend themselves to . all honorable senators. Personally, it would require little argument in this regard to persuade me of the justice of the Government’s intentions. But this Parliament, by legislation, should have some voice in regulating the Force - its status, responsibilities, and duties.
I have more than once addressed questions to Ministers upon a subject which may not have been interesting to honorable senators, but which very seriously affects the mind and the character of the Australian community; I refer to the subject of copyright. It is one in which I have always taken considerable interest. The Commonwealth Parliament passed a Copyright Act in 1905. One of the conditions of obtaining Australian copyright -that is, copyright for ‘works produced by authors in the Commonwealth - was that those works should be printed, set up - manufactured, in fact - within the Commonwealth. A similar provision existed in the copyright law of the United States of America. It is necessary, in order to obtain copyright in the
United States of America, with its 100,000,000 people, that the author of a book should cause to be printed, set up, bound, and published in that country a first copy of the work. From that springs the author’s copyright within the United States of America. On the contrary, so far as Great Britain is concerned, publication within the United Kingdom is not necessary; and books published in Australia obtain copyright there just as books published in Great Britain secure copyright here. Similar procedure holds good with respect to various other European countries. There are conventions in existence between a number of countries regarding an international copyright. I understand that Russia andthe United States of America, however, do not subscribe to those conventions. An English publisher who produces a book in England, whether it be a work of fiction or of a scientific character, produces a work in which copyright exists for its author. But if the author desires to secure copyright in the United States of America, his publisher is compelled to arrange with another publisher, in that country, to publish there simultaneously. The statutory signification of that expression is not that publication must take place at the same moment in both countries; for the purpose of copyright legislation, “ simultaneous” publication must be within some such period as thirty days or sixty days from the date of the English publication. I believe that the period is thirty days. One may often note in English literary papers, such as the literary supplement to the Times, or the Academy, or the Bookman, or the Athenæum, references to the bringing out of an American edition of an author’s works. Certain publishers in England have representatives in New York, Chicago, or Boston; while American publishers have their representatives in the United Kingdom. So far as English works are concerned, then, arrangements may easily be made. A similar provision remained in our Act until about 1912, when we amended our copyright law, and adopted the then recent Imperial enactment holus-bolus, as a schedule to a small Bill. But we added certain modifications.
– By request?
– The honorable senator should know more about that than I do, seeing that it was his Government which was in office at the time. Certain modifications, or additions, to the British measure were provided in the Commonwealth measure. But we did not retain the “ manufacturing “ provision, and now we are in this position : An Australian author publishes a work which is in largedemand throughout Australia, and, indeed, in all Englishspeaking countries. He has copyright in it in Australia; no one can’ pirate his work here. He has copyright in the United Kingdom; no one can pirate it there. But not so in the United States of America. We are daily coming into closer relationship with citizens of the United States of America. Those millions of English-speaking people are beginning to know more and more of Australia. During the past five or ten years various works produced in Australia have met with ready recognition and acceptance in the United States ofAmerica. But, unless the Australian author goes to the expense and risk of publishing again in that country, practically simultaneously with publication in Australia, any publisher there is free to pirate his work, no matter though it may have been copyrighted throughout the British Empire.
– What about a reciprocal barrier in Australia?
– That is the point to which I am coming. So far as the United States of America is concerned, authors need not publish in England to secure copyright in the United Kingdom. But a big English publishing house, such as Hodder and Stoughton, or Macmillan, or any of those publishers whose names we see upon the books that we read, will have its agents in the big cities of the United States of America; and, before going to press in England, the proofs of a new work are in the hands of its representative publishers in the United States of America. Copies are set up from those proofs, and it is arranged that the publishers in each country shall go to press “simultaneously.” So far as Australia is concerned, honorable senators will readily call to mind works which have received recognition throughout the English-speaking world - books which have commanded attention and respect, and interest, too, in the United States of America. The United States publishers can ignore the fact that these works are copyrighted here, and can pirate them at their pleasure. Now we have caricaturists, writers of verse, of prose, of fiction, and of scientific works who should be entitled to enjoy copyright throughout the world. But what do we find ? Let any honorable senator go down Collins-street to-morrow, and if he walks past any large book-selling establishment, he will see its windows positively crammed with cheap American publications. As Senator Ferricks has asked, “ Why cannot we hit back?” Why cannot we say. “ If the Australian public will have the writings of these men about American ranches and such matters, every Australian publishing firm should be at liberty to pirate them just as the American publishing firms may pirate the works of Australian authors.”
– Or retaliation.
– Piracy by any other name would smell as sweet.
– We gave away our opportunities of protecting ourselves against American piracy in 1912. At that time Senator Millen and two or three other members of this Chamber occupied seats on the Opposition benches. The Government in power outvoted us by thirty-one to five.
– The Government and their followers in this ‘Chamber did not number thirty-one in 1911.
– Call it twenty-nine to seven.
– I have no objection to doing that. Upon that occasion the Government threw down the shield which protected us against the piracy of which I have been speaking, and to-day we stand unarmed and unable to protect our own writers. If the Government do not intend to submit legislative proposals to restore to our writers protection against piracy, they should at once enter into negotiations with the authorities of the United States of America, and say to them, “ If you are not disposed to extend copyright throughout your country to the works of Australian authors,, we shall be obliged to reconsider our position and to decline to allow the windows of our booksellers to be filled with American pub lications.” It is time that the Americanauthorities were approached upon this matter, and if they refuse to listen to reason, we ought to revert to the legislation which was in existence from 1905 to 1912. I repeat that this matter affects the minds and the sentiments of the people of Australia. There is a tendency amongst the rising generation to become Americanized, and to adopt an American outlook. That is largely due to the number of sentimental, soppy, and trashy publications which are coming in increasing quantities by every vessel from the United States of’ America. It is also due to the American films which are being sent here. The result is. that a belief is growing up amongst many youthful Australians that we have no authors of our own, and that if they desire amusement or instruction, whether by way of literature or film pictures, they must turn their eyes across the Pacific to the United States of America. Thus, this is a very much more important measure than the mere mention of the term “ copyright “ suggests. It means a great deal to Australia. I do hope that in the new world which we are entering Australia will sense its place and get a proper perspective, not only of its own immediate environment, but of its place in the world at large.
In the many speeches delivered by the Prime Minister since his return to this country, and to which some honorable senators opposite have taken exception, he has again and again emphasized the need which exists for work. He says that he has come to preach the gospel of work. But he might, perhaps, with advantage, have stressed the character of the work to which he refers. The work which he desires to stimulate, I take it, is that of production. Many persons imagine that work of all kinds is of equal value. But, after all, from the point of view of the country, particularly when it is essential that it shall recover from the effects of the war, and that the burden of debt under which it now labours shall be reduced; the class of work which is of real value to Australia is production. Whether that work results in the addition to our .primary products, or in their conversion into manufactured articles, it represents extra wealth to the community. There is a disposition amongst many people to regard all kinds of work as of equal value to the country. It may be of equal hardship to the individual, but when we look at Australia, a-nd recollect that on the mainland there are 700,000 or 800,000 people in Sydney, and some 600,000 or 700,000 in Melbourne- perhaps 50 per cent, of the population of the States of which those cities are the capitals^ - we cannot help realizing that the proportion of our inhabitants who are engaged in productive work is nothing like what it should be. There are plenty of persons who are fully occupied in the various States, but who are not adding to the wealth of the community.
– And the men in the cities are better remunerated than are the producers.
– They are continuously employed, but they do not add a half-penny to the wealth of the community.
– Senator Grant will interject that they add to the land values of the country.
– Does not the honorable senator admit that persons who axe engaged in secondary production add to the wealth of the community ?
– That is what the people in the cities do.
– Not all of them. Let Senator Grant go out, and note particularly the number of men who are engaged in primary production, or in the conversion of primary products into manufactured articles. Many persons may handle these products-
– On paper.
– There is a good deal in that remark. Many men simply sit in their offices, and never see the goods which they handle. Importers, retailers, brokers, typists, and a whole army of others, are carried on the backs of our primary producers, and of those who convert our primary products into manufactured articles. These men do not add to the wealth of the community, but they do add to the cost of goods. Consequently it is the gospel of production that it is necessary to preach. In the Age of Saturday last, I read two very excellent articles which I can safely commend to the careful perusal of honorable senators. One of -them was entitled, “Australian exports,” and it dealt with the possibility of manufacturing in Australia for export. Hitherto our experience has been that, owing to the high rates of wages, and to the improved industrial conditions which obtain here, we have been unable to compete with our manufactures against the cheap labour countries of the world in outside markets. The article in question dealt with Australian manufactures, and with the possibility of developing an export trade in them consequent upon the growing demand for them from outside countries. This result has been brought about by the fact that the goods which were turned out by Australia for the use of her armies abroad, and the articles which were supplied to our troops on active service, have come under the notice of other than Australians who, realizing their quality and their price, are now endeavouring to get similar commodities from us.
Another article which appeared in the same journal deals with piecework. I know that there is a difference of opinion as to the value and policy of piece-work. But I confidently believe that, unless the unions which are opposed to piece-work modify their attitude, Australia will never become a producing country in a sense that is commensurate with its obligations to itself to place its manufactures in the outside world. We have had instances of piece-work, and of what can be done under that system in connexion with some of our Commonwealth establishments in New South Wales. Just as I was quitting Launceston on Saturday afternoon last, I was speaking to a young man who had had experience in a British factory as a munition worker, and whose paysheets, duly vouched for, are in the possession of our Defence Department. For weeks this individual earned £15 odd, £16 odd, and up to £19 14s. I particularly asked him if he ever felt distressed by being obliged to fight against time in the matter of his output. He assured me’ that he had never been distressed.
– It is a wellknown fact that the great industrial concerns at Glasgow have been built up on piece-work.
– I am mentioning the capabilities of a young Australian who went from here, and who was engaged in Wynne’s works. He was employed finally in connexion with aviation, and handled the most difficult, highly technical, and expert work required in connexion with the construction of aero- planes. Yet he had been trained in Launceston, in Australia, and is yet in his early twenties. I believe if Australians realize what can be done in the way of piece-work, they will see its advantages to themselves individually, and its advantages to the whole community.
– When the Scotch Commissioners were here, one of their strongest expressions of surprise was in connexion with the amount of work performed here as compared with other coun-
– Very good. Under the circumstances, I think that that is a strong argument in fav’or of piece-work. The high rates of pay I have referred to were earned on piece-work.
– How many hours did that man work?
– I could not say.
– They were working long hours inBritain.
– You should take the time worked into consideration.
-Quite so; and I would not say that the money was earned in what is known as an Australianworking day.
– He could not earn it in an eight hours day.
– No ; but I have given the amount of his earnings, not for a week or a month, but over an extended period. In this particular instance the Defence Department, which has supplied the data, was good enough to furnish me, for the information of the boy’s father, with a sheet showing what he had earned over a lengthy period.
– Did you read the article in the Daily Telegraph on the Senate and piece-work ?
– No; but I do not know whether any reference was made to an amendment of the Constitution of the Senate. The interjection reminds me of another matter, and that is, a suggested amendment of the Constitution. As mentioned by previous speakers, Mr. Hughes has already dealt at some length with the importance and necessity of dealing with the profiteer. I do not think there is anydoubt that the profiteer does exist. Some honorable senators regard the profiteer as something fictitious or visionary. Many an individual who is accused of profiteering is not doing so, although he is charging a much higher price now than he was charging two or three years ago. He may be, nevertheless, receiving a relatively, or even absolutely, smaller profit. There are circumstances which have necessitated an increase in the price of goo’ds, and anybody who reads the evidence given at the inquiry being conducted by a State body appointed to inquire into this subject can see that such is the case. Various factors have been mentioned by honorable senators which, combined and individually, tend to increase the price of goods. There is the scarcity of output, and the difficulties . of transport, without going into the matter further. I am, however, satisfied that the profiteer has made himself sufficiently prominent to call for legislative and administrative attention.
– And extinction.
– Yes. It was said by a Minister, in reply to a question some time ago, that the powers of the Commonwealth are limited.
– Have they been limited during the last few years under the War Precautions Act and its regulations ?
– No, they have been extended.
– The Government had sufficient powers.
– Yes; but the outcry against the profiteer Has arisen quite recently, and practically on the eve of the expiration of the War Precautions Act and its regulations. Under normal conditions, as at present, the Commonwealth has no power to deal with internal trade or commerce within a State. So far as trade between Australia and countries abroad is concerned, the Commonwealth has authority; and, in the matter of trade between States, the Commonwealth has also authority. But, within a State, the Commonwealth is powerless. In regard to transactions between Victoria and New South Wales, for instance, we have power; but, as regards trade within a State, power to interfere rests absolutely with the State authorities. It has been suggested that it will be necessary to amend the Constitution to empower the Commonwealth to deal with profiteering. That is one way of doing it;but there is another way. The Commonwealth has power to “deal with any matter remitted to it by the Parliament of any State ; and, if some, but not the whole of the State Parliaments in the Commonwealth did remit such a matter, the Commonwealth would have absolute power to deal with it in the three or four States whose Parliaments did remit it. If one or more States stand out, we can pass legislation dealing with the others, but it will not apply to that State or those States which do not remit powers to the Parliament. Realizing, as the Government do, that the profiteer exists, he must be dealt with. The Prime Minister said that he was after the profiteer tooth and claw, and we presume that the Government think that the profiteer should be dealt with by tooth and claw. Every honorable senator opposite considers that the profiteer should be followed up, and quite a number of honorable senators on this side of the chamber believe the same. Then why should not the State Parliaments give the Commonwealth Parliament power to legislate upon this matter until we can get the people to approve of the necessary amendments to the Constitution to empower the Commonwealth Government to handle it. If we have to wait until the Constitution is amended, we will not be able to deal with the profiteer for at least twelve months. What is to be done in the meantime? If the members of the Opposition are iona fide in their agitation against the profiteer, we should get to work at once. If we could make out a good case, the State Governments which did not endow the Commonwealth Parliament with the necessary power would be in a bad position. Why not ask the State Governments If they refuse, let the blame be on them.
– What would be their redress against the Legislative Councils?
– We should not anticipate trouble. Let a State Government say, “We are agreeable to do what you ask, but we are afraid of our Legislative Council.” What State Government is going to say that?
– The Legislative Councils would not agree to the transfer of State powers to the Commonwealth.
– Why anticipate that? Give them an opportunity. Why does the honorable senator spe”ak on be half of the State Premiers? Does he speak on behalf of the Premier of his own State?
– I. am referring to all the Legislative Councils in Australia.
– Then the honorable senator is speaking on behalf of six State Premiers. What authority has he to -do that? If the honorable senator is after the profiteer, why not take the only practical course? We talk about amending the Constitution. How long will it take us to get going with an amendment of the Constitution? What are we to do in the meantime? Why do not the Commonwealth Government approach the State Governments and ask them to hand over the powers necessary until the Constitution is amended? Immediately anything practical is suggested, up jump our friends of the Opposition. They want to use the profiteer for an election cry. ‘
– Do you think this Government are sufficiently in earnest to ask the State Governments to hand over the powers they possess?
– Then why don’t they?
– I am making a suggestion. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has been back for a little over a fortnight, and honorable senators are very impatient. What has he done, they ask. We have been asked why he has not done more than make speeches. What is he going to do? If he had not spoken in each of the State capitals he has visited, honorable senators opposite would have condemned his “ ominous silence,” and asked why he did not take the people into his confidence.
– Why did he not stop the profiteers during the last two years ?
– Why did he not do everything under the sun? Honorable senators opposite will object to whatever he does, and - complain of what he does not do. The States were asked some three years ago in a general fashion to give the Commonwealth extended powers; there was no limitation. Let there be a specific request to the State Governments to give this Parliament the necessary authority to deal with a specific subject until a properly considered amendment of the Constitution can be brought forward.
– This Parliament has had the necessary power for four years.
– Yes, and my honorable friend was in Parliament all that time, but I did not hear him complaining, or. entreating the Government. I do not remember him ever being very persistent in pursuing the profiteer during those four years. With the prospect of a general election, the profiteer has appeared on the horizon, and is being worked for all that he is worth. The moment any one supporting the Government suggests a practical and efficient way of dealing with the profiteer there is a babel of interjections from honorable senators opposite. I do not suggest that they support profiteering; but if the profiteer is dealt with by this Government, their only election cry disappears.
– Is he a political profiteer ?
– That is exactly the position. As far as a general amendment of the Constitution is concerned, I think that measures should be” dealt with on their merits, and not introduced as party legislation. It is for that reason that I submitted a motion to this Senate dealing with an amendment of the Constitution. It is on the notice-paper, and I, therefore, cannot deal with its objects at this stage. I hope that, in considering any amendment of the Constitution, we shall carefully consider its probable effect, and consider also the needs of the people, and the relation between the States and the Commonwealth.
– Has the honororable senator’s motion been moved and discussed ?
– T moved it some time ago, and it has been debated by Senator Pearce and other honorable senators. It is a practical way of dealing with an amendment of the Constitution, and is without party bias. I earnestly hope that when the Government seek an amendment of the Constitution they will hot follow the course which was adopted in connexion with other proposals for its amendment, and make such the creature of party effort. Because that is what all the other proposals were. They were nurtured and passed through both Houses of this Parliament on party lines, and submitted to the people on party lines, and the people voted for them on party principles.
Senator Lt.-Colonel BOLTON (Victoria) [9.1]. - It is quite a while since I indulged in even mild criticism of the Government, but there is a matter to which I should like to refer briefly in connexion with permanent appointments in the Administrative and Instructional Staff of the Defence Department. Honorable senators will remember that in 1917 section 148 of the Defence Act was amended to provide for the permanent appointment to commissions of staff sergeantmajors of the Instructional Staff who had rendered distinguished service abroad. I believe that the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) was perfectly sincere when he accepted that amendment of the Act, and intended that such non-commissioned officers as had rendered distinguished service abroad should be rewarded by appointment as officers in certain positions. I believe that in the Estimates framed after the amendment of the Act was passed, provision was made for meeting the possible extra expenditure involved. The amendment of the Act to which I refer read -
Provided, also, that warrant and noncommissioned officers of the Permanent Forces may be appointed to command rank for tho position of quartermasters of units of the Australian Military Forces.
It has come within my knowledge that for some time past a number of these appointments have been made of officers of the permanent staff and some who are not of the permanent staff to hold positions - the joint position of adjutant and quartermaster. If that course has been followed with a view to economy, I say, with some knowledge of the duties of these positions, that I regard it as false economy. Staff sergeant-majors are men who have made the military profession the business of their lives. . They are acquainted with all the details of a quartermaster’s duties. They are men of method in the checking and keeping of stores and accounts, and if such men were appointed as quartermasters they would probably save more than the ex- ,pense incurred by the extra salary which they would receive upon being given commissioned rank. I should like to bring under the notice of the Government the fact that I know of most deserving men, who have rendered splendid service abroad, and who are specially qualified for the position of quartermaster. Quartermasters’ positions are vacant, and though qualified men are available they are being temporarily filled in a makeshift sort of way by asking an .adjutant to carry out the duties of quartermaster as well. I do not think that was the intention of the Minister for Defence when he accepted the amendment of the Defence Act to which I ‘ have referred. I believe that he sincerely desired that these positions should be given to Instructional Staff sergeant-majors who had rendered splendid service overseas.
I have seen in the press some reference to a Board that was appointed to furnish a report upon alterations in the Defence Force of Australia. I presume that professional advisers of the Government have gone into the matter, and have submitted their report to the Acting Minister for Defence (Senator Russell). I presume, also, that the forthcoming Estimates will make provision for such alterations, additions, or reductions as may have been recommended- by these advisers. A previous speaker has said that when we pass a Supply Bill we practically pass the Estimates, and have.no further voice in the settlement of any matter provided for in them. I believe that so important a matter as alterations in our Defence Force should be discussed before it is finally dealt with, and therefore, I draw attention to it before the Estimates for the ensuing year are brought down. I think that the Senate should be informed as to the alterations in the Defence Force of Australia that are likely to take place. and should be given an opportunity to. discuss them before we are committed to expenditure to give them effect.
Senator Keating has referred to the advice of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) to Australia to take off its coat, turn up its sleeves, and go to work. I am sure that honorable senators must view with some alarm the condition in which Australia finds itself to-day. It is alarming to consider that with a total population in Australia of 5,000,000, Sydney ani Melbourne are respectively the seventh and ninth largest cities in the British Em pire. That should convey to us some idea of the number of ‘people who may be included in Senator Keating’s classification of those who are a burden upon the wealth derived from primary and secondary production. I agree with Senator Keating that it is most desirable that measures should be immediately adopted to remedy this state of affairs. It is alarming also to remember that the State of Victoria, with a population of something like sixteen persons to the square mile, has within ten years lost a rural population of 20,000. I should be glad to see the Government bring forward some proposals that would hold out some prospect of a substantial increase in the primary and secondary productions of Australia. .
– I am sure that honorable senators will not expect me to attempt anything in the nature of a full reply to the very varied and somewhat extensive discussion we have had in the course of this debate. There are two or three matters to which I should like to make a passing reference. First of all, Senator Gardiner took some exception to the fact that in presenting this Supply Bill the Government did not disclose their whole financial policy, and particularly their proposals to secure economy. I am- sure that if the honorable senator stopped to think he would recognise that it is not at all customary, nor would it be appropriate, for the Government on a Supply Bill to present those matters which can only .be properly discussed in conjunction with the Budget itself. The information which the honorable senator seeks, and the proposals of the Government regarding economy and other matters; will be set out in the Budget, which, I hone, will be in the possession of honorable senators before long.
Senator Ferricks made a reference to many matters connected with the Northern Territory, including some that had relation to the administration of justice there. I have already drawn the attention of my colleague, the Minister for Home and Territories to what the honorable senator raid in order that he may give bis personal attention to the complaints made.
Senator Ferricks also seemed to derive a good deal of gratification from some statements and figures he gave regarding the tremendously advantageous position in which the consumers of Queensland have been placed as a result of the heroic efforts of the Ryan Government to reduce the cost of living. I’ do not propose to do anything to deprive Senator Ferricks of any measure of satisfaction he may manage to extract from those figures, which to me were quite unintelligible, but
I should like to correct one error he made. He made the statement that because the Commonwealth Government took over the business of price-fixing under the War Precautions Act, therefore a State Government could not act in the matter. That is quite incorrect. All that the Commonwealth Government could do waa to say that prices should not be higher, than a certain figure. There was nothing to prevent Mr. Ryan, if he thought it wise, in the interest of the people of Queensland, from fixing prices at a lower rate in that State.
– “Under the regulation, prices fixed by the State Government could not conflict with the prices fixed by the Federal Government. .
– Mr. Ryan had not authority to raise prices beyond those . fixed by the Federal Government, and I am sure that Senator Ferricks did not desire that he should do that, but he had every authority to bring them below those prices.
– If he had done so they would have conflicted with the Federal prices.
– The fact that Mr. Ryan did not exercise that authority to bring prices in Queensland below those fixed by the-Federal Government mav be taken as ‘an indication that he considered that the prices fixed by the Commonwealth Government were as low as they could fairly be made.
– The Commonwealth Government took over the whole concern.
– They took not one whit of power from Mr. Ryan to fri prices in Queensland as low as he thought the circumstances justified.
– If his prices conflicted with those fixed by the Commonwealth Government, the latter would prevail.
– If the prices as fixed by the Commonwealth” Government were considered by Mr. Ryan to be too high, he had ample power to reduce them in Queensland. The fact that he did not do so may be taken as evidence that Mr. Ryan considered that the prices as fixed by the Commonwealth Government were not too high.
– The honorable senator should read the regulations under the War Precautions Act.
– I always believe a good deal more in the value of a prescription when I find that the people who prescribe it are taking it themselves. I naturally wonder a little, when I hear all these paeans of praise regarding Queensland, what it is that is causing the exodus that appears to be taking place from that State. Why, nearly all the politicians will have left Queensland directly. They would appear to be all anxious to clear out of that paradise for the consumer, and come down to the southern States to be fleeced by the bloated profiteers.
– I am glad that the honorable senator is not referring to the general population, because people are going to Queensland from the other States.
– I am not saying what reasons are inducing these people to leave Queensland, but I have heard something about rats’ leaving a sinking ship, and I am wondering whether Mr. Ryan thinks that he has outlived his popularity there.
– Is that why the honorable senator was reported to be leaving the Ministry ?
– Not because the Ministry is a sinking ship. . The honorable senator knows how that report arose It is possible I may be here a little longer than he will find convenient.
Senator Keating made a most interesting speech, to which I should like to refer He made a reference to the Commonwealth police. I am told that there is no item in this Bill which refers to them, but I hope to be in a position to give information regarding the matter referred to, which, I candidly admit, I did not think of. The honorable senator also made reference to the late period at which Parliament is placed in a position to deal with the finances of the country. That arises from the fact that the Budget is ordinarily presented after a considerable portion of the year has elapsed. Our financial year starts on 1st July, and the only way in which it would he possible to give Parliament a full opportunity of controlling absolutely the .first expenditure of the year would be for the Budget to be presented during the latter portion of the previous year, and tha.t would be impossible. Parliament can only deal with the expenditure in the earlier months of the year for which it is legislating. This Government, whilst, perhaps, no better, but certainly no worse, than, other Governments, has effected some ‘ improvement in this matter. Last year it brought the Budget down by the 25th September, which, I believe, is as early a date as is possible for the presentation of such a document, because the accounts of the previous year have to be finalized. I am not able to give the date when the Budge will be presented this year, but I can assure honorable senators that it will not be very long before they are in possession of that document.
Senator Keating raised the question of answers given to certain questions. T want the Senate to accept my assuranceand I believe it will do so - that, so far as I am concerned, there has never been any intentional discourtesy in replies furnished to honorable senators. But I ask those who have had parliamentary experience to remember that even Ministers are human beings with human weaknesses and prejudices; and that when questions are obviously launched for the purpose and in the hope of creatine difficulties or extracting some information as to Ministerial policy, complaint must not be made if those who ask such questions do not always get the answers they want. That is a matter of fair give and take. In regard to questions designed to elicit information on public matters, I candidly .admit that full and frank answers should be furnished, and in future, by a little closer scrutiny of questions asked of me, I shall endeavour to remove any cause of complaint.
asked for some information as to the occupancy of Australia House, London, by the New South Wales Agent-General. I am not able to furnish an answer now, but if the honorable senator will give me a further opportunity I shall endeavour to obtain the information, possibly to-morrow, or certainly early next week.
Question resolved in the affirmative’.
Bill read a first time.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
– i move -
That this Bill be now read a. second time.
As we had a fair debate on the motion for the first reading, and as it is necessary to get the Bill completed in order to pay the salaries of the public servants to-morrow, it is not desirable that I should occupy too much time in moving the second reading. This is the second Supply Bill introduced during the present financial year. The amount required is £6,088,542, which it is estimated will be sufficient to carry on the services of the Government till the end of November. Of this amount, £2,639,000 is required for the following war services: - War pensions, £1,493,000; repatriation of soldiers, £990,000; other war services, £156,000. The amount set aside for ordinary purposes of Government is £2,409,542. This amount will give us an expenditure for the first five months of the current year slightly less than the average expenditure for five months during the year preceding. All services included in the Bill have been previously approved by Parliament, and the only provision made for increases in salaries is in cases where such increases are automatic under the Public Service Act and regulations, or where they accrue under arbitration awards. No increases of salaries are provided for officers in the higher divisions of the Service. An amount of £850,000 is set aside for Treasurer’s Advance. This is required for unforeseen expenditure, and will also be used to continue works which have already been commenced. It is hoped that the Budget will be presented at an early date.
Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) 19.22]. - I do not intend to delay unduly the passage of the measure. This will be evident from the fact that honorable senators on this side did not raise any objection to the suspension of the Standing Orders. But I point out that towards the end of the debate on the first reading, the discussion turned largely upon the question of profiteering, and in order to test the earnestness of honorable senators on that particular question I move -
That all the words after the word “ now “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ read a second time on Wednesday, 24th September, in order to enable the Government to announce its policy in connexion with the question of profiteering.”
Senator Keating endeavoured to show that honorable senators on this side were merely using profiteering as a political asset, but I assure the Senate and the country that if profiteering could be banished to-morrow by our resignations, we, on this, side of the chamber, would be prepared to make the sacrifice in the interests of Australia. This is not a party matter with honorable senators on this side. If all parties will lay themselves out to deal effectively with it, some good results may be expected to follow from their action. This Government have had the power since they took office, but they have failed to use it, and probably in fighting an election in the near future they will ask to be given this power. The acceptance of my amendment will delay the passage of the Bill, and cause some inconvenience to the Public Service, but this will be more than counterbalanced by the advantages that will accrue to the community if the Government definitely announce their policy in connexion with profiteering. This matter is urgent, because the prices of commodities have reached such a level now that the majority of the people aro unable to purchase them.
– Your amendment would seriously inconvenience the Civil Service.
– I am aware of that: and I realize also that the Public Service would not complain if only the amendment had the effect of compelling the Government to declare that profiteering is to be dealt with immediately, and not in the dim and distant future. Indeed the Government might announce their policy to-night, and so get the Bill through without delay. There is no reason why there should be a delay of even a week in dealing with profiteering. Senator Foll talked about the high price of commodities in Queensland. It is true the price of imported commodities is high in that State, because not only this Government, but their friends have taken good care to see that prices shall be high ; but so far as the products of Queensland are concerned - I refer to beef and sugarQueensland has the most enviable record in comparison with the other States of the Commonwealth.
– Sugar is the same price throughout the Commonwealth.
– Thanks to the Ryan Government,
– No. Thanks to the Commonwealth Government.
– When the ‘ Ryan Government came into office, the Federal Labour Government then in ex istence made arrangements with the Queensland Government to provide cheap sugar for the people of the Commonwealth. Thanks again to the Ryan Government meat is also cheap in that State. Thus the two principal commodities are within measurable distance of the people’s purses in Queensland. I remind the Senate also that Senator Foll belongs to the party that did its utmost with others to drag from office a Government that were legislating for the benefit of the people, and he now tries to justify himself by quoting figures concerning the prices . of commodities in Queensland for the information of people who are just as capable as Knibbs of. arriving at exact conclusions concerning the causes.
– You are dealing with only one item - meat.
– I am dealing with the two principal products in Queensland which have been controlled by a Labour Government, and if the Commonwealth National Government had acted in the same way, there would not have been the present outcry against profiteering.
– The position of the Queensland Government in regard to action against profiteering cannot be assailed.
– Meat is ls. per lb. all over Queensland, except frozen meat in the State butchers’ shops.
– I have been to Queensland, and tested the meat question by buying.
– So have I.
– But, I suppose, Senator Crawford’s prejudices will not allow him to deal with the State butchers’ shops, where excellent meat may be purchased at reasonable prices.
– I do not happen to live in a Labour constituency, and the State butchers’ shops are all in Labour centres.
– The Ryan Government took care that the principal commodities of that State should be available at reasonable prices, and when there was a Labour Government in power in the Commonwealth, an agreement was made with the Ryan Government to supply the people of Australia, with cheap sugar. The present Government have not dared to upset that arrangement.
– The object of the amendment is quite clear, although it is not, perhaps, just what Senator Gardiner has stated it to be. One might well be led to think, by the introduction of such an amendment, that the honorable senator had reason to fear the imminence of a general election. The effect of carrying the amendment would be not only to destroy the Bill, but, if it were accepted in another place, tantamount to taking the business out of the hands of the Government.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Divisions 1 to 12 (The Parliament), £9,870, agreed to.
Department of Prime Minister
Proposed vote (Divisions 13 to 19), £53,025.
– I understand that the Acting Public Service Commissioner is still carrying out the duties of Commissioner. The Government should be in a position now to say whether or not it intends that the gentleman temporarily occupying the
Commissionership shall be permanently appointed. The present occupant of the office has been carrying on in an acting capacity for nearlv four years. Surely sufficient time has been afforded for the Government to make up its mind. I desire also to know whether the report of Mr. McLachlan respecting the Public Service is yet available to honorable senators.
– That report has not yet been made available, and it is not contemplated, I think, that it should be tabled until the Government has made up its mind regarding what action shall be taken consequent upon the’ recommendations contained therein. That fact has a bearing also upon the continued occupancy of the Public Service Commissionership by an acting official. Amendment of the Act itself is under consideration.
– And has been for four years.
– Four very eventful years, in which more urgent matters have crowded out some of lesser importance. It is not unreasonable, however, that the Government should now be asked to make some definite announcement.
– You said . that twelve months ago.
– I shall make representations to the Cabinet, pointing out what is, I think, a not unreasonable request on the part of Senator Thomas, and one which, I gather, is largely indorsed by honorable senators.
: - It is almost with trepidation that I ask the Minister for Repatriation whether he is yet in a position to provide information regarding the expenses of the Prime Minister and his staff during their visit to Europe.
– Senator O’Keefe mentioned that matter earlier in the day, and it has not been possible to secure the information yet. I have despatched a special memorandum to the Treasury, however, with a view to securing the particulars and placing them in the hands of the honorable senator at the earliest possible moment.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (SouthAustralia) [9.42]. - I note that salaries in connexion with the High Commissioner’s
Office total for the quarter £2,500, and that contingencies amount to £10,000. Has the High Commissioner’s Office been doing anything since the war began, or has it been in a state of suspended animation? The High Commissioner does not appear ‘ to have been of any service at all. Latterly there have been three Federal Ministers in England. Next year there is to be an Imperial Conference, when one or two Commonwealth Ministers will again be in England ; and there is a proposal to have a Minister established permanently in London. If Cabinet Ministers are to control Australian affairs in England, what is the use of all this expenditure upon the High Commissioner’s Office?
– Has any report been received from the High Commissioner during the past two or three years ? At one period the occupant of that office issued an annual report.
– -The quarter’s expenditure upon the High Commissioner’s Office amounts to £12,500. This Bill is intended to cover Supply for three months. May it be taken, therefore, that the annual expenditure upon the High Commissioner’s Department is four times the sum set out in the schedule?
– This Bill has to do with three months’ ser-. vices, and while I cannot say that every individual item may be multiplied by four to correctly indicate the annual cost, such multiplication will, approximately, ‘ provide the amount.
– Then the expenditure upon the High Commissioner’s Office is more than £50,000 per annum.
– That is so. But I resent the suggestion that the presence of Ministers in London has anything to do with the work attaching to the High Commissioner’s Office. Before the war the High Commissioner had specific duties allotted to him, and he has been carrying ‘.them out during the war period. Regarding the point raised by Senator Thomas, I frankly confess that I do not know whether the High Commissioner issues a report or not. I have never seen, and, indeed, I have never heard of one. However, I will make it my business to ascertain the facts, and if such a report is in existence I will see that a copy of it 13 forwarded to Senator Thomas and to any other honorable senator who may desire to read it.
– I should like an explanation of the item of £8,000 for shipping and mail services to the Pacific Islands. I know that the vessels running to the Solomon Islands were taken off that service during the war period, and that they have not been replaced. Consequently, I’ desire an explanation of the item in question.
– In reply to Senator McDougall, I would point out that £32,000 represents the annual appropriation under the heading to which he has referred, and that the item of £8,000 is, therefore, the expenditure for one quarter.
– But the mails have not been carried.
– -The vessels are running now, I understand. But if, as the honorable senator suggests, the mails are not being carried, I presume that the proposed vote will not be expended.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of the Treasury.
Proposed vote (Divisions 25 to 32), £124,800.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether it is the intention of the Government to increase the amount which is at present being paid to invalid and old-age pensioners? I know that these people are now receiving 12s. 6d. per week, but I would remind honorable senators that the high cost of living affects them, just as it affects everybody else.
– The honorable senator asked the question which he has just put .to me a day or two ago, and I can only say now what I said then, namely, that the matter will be considered on the presentation of the Budget.
Proposed vote agreed’ to.
Proposed vote (Divisions 36 to 42), £19,550.
– Some time ago, it was announced that the Chief Justice of the High Court had resigned his position as from the end of July last. Subsequently the statement was published- in the press that his resignation had not been withdrawn, but that he had consented to continue to act for a time. Will the Minister inform me whether the Chief Justice has consented to continue in- his office indefinitely, or whether he has merely consented to do so for a limited period, during which the Government will be able to make other arrangements?
– The continuation in office of the present Chief Justice is for a definite and short period.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Home and Territories.
Proposed vote (Divisions 43 to 54), £109,165. ‘ ‘
.- Under the heading of “ Northern Territory,” I notice an item of £900 for salaries in connexion with gold-fields and mining, and a further sum of £3,000 for contingencies. I wish to impress on the Government the desirableness of endeavouring to give an impetus to the mining industry of the Territory. When I visited that portion of the Commonwealth, it appeared to me that there was a very large staff in charge of the Mines Department - a staff altogether Out of proportion to the work that was being done. Under a scheme which has been recommended by the Director of Mines, I understand that it is intended to send out prospecting parties, consisting of returned soldiers, into the remote portions of the Territory. It is to be hoped that something of benefit, will accrue from their investigations, but, so far, results in the Territory . have not been satisfactory, and, in my opinion, the mining industry there has not received a fair trial. According to Dr. Gilruth’s last report* the value of the mineral production of the Territory for the year amounted to £92,730, of which sum £41,432 was produced from the Maranboy tinfield. During the past two years tin to the value of £70,000 has been taken from that field, bringing the total value of its production to £100,000. Last year’s production of tin from that field alone was one-fifth of the tin production of Queens land. That circumstance iti itself augurs well for the future of the Maranboy field. I think that an excellent opportunity is now presented for an extension of Government enterprise in that and similar avenues. When Dr. Jensen was Director of Mines in the Territory prior to the shaft being sunk more than 6 feet on the Maranboy field, he recommended the erection of a Government battery there, and the continuation of prospecting. After a long time, his recommendations were agreed to by Mr. Glynn, notwithstanding that Dr. Gilruth, the Administrator, scouted the idea. As a matter of fact, it was Dr. Gilruth’s opposition to the erection of this battery which was the commencement of that cleavage between Dr. Jensen and himself, which eventually resulted in Dr. Jensen leaving the Territory. . Very few geologists would stake their reputation upon recommendations made by them in respect of country which has not been sunk on to a greater depth than 6 feet. I know that most of them use a little geologist’s hammer, with which they give a few taps here and there, and are careful to say very little.
– Mining experts are not so cautious.
– I should like to know what was the opinion of Mr. Oliver, because he was the man who was sent to the Territory to deal with mining.
– But at the time of which I speak, there was nothing upon which he could pass judgment.
– Before anything was done there, Dr. Jensen suggested the erection of a battery ?
– Yes ; and his recommendations have been fully justified by the production of tin from that field.
– What was it - lode formation ?
– I think it was alluvial there, and at a depth it turned into lode.
– The plant is still there.
– Yes; and,. as I have already said, tin to the value of £70,000 was produced by this mine last year. Dr. Gilruth opposed the erection of a Government battery on the Maranboy field.
– Has the honorable senator 6een his reports?
– He opposed the very suggestion that a battery should be erected there, and Mr. Glynn, to his credit, eventually overruled his objection.
– That is right.
– The Maranboy field is one of great promise, and I would like the Minister to give the mining industry in the Territory an impetus. I am inclined to think that, in that area, mining operations, combined with pastoral settlement, will accomplish the preparatory work necessary to the closer development of the Territory. The present is an appropriate time for the Government to .carry out a more active mining policy in view of the fact that many returned soldiers who enlisted from mining centres would welcome the opportunty to indulge in prospecting operations there.
.; - Upon the motion for the first reading of this Bill, I had a word or two to say about the development of the oilfields of Papua. I should like to know what is being done in that connexion.
– I am not in a position to say what is the position of affairs in the Northern’ Territory, but I understand from Mr. Glynn that recent mineral discoveries there are of an exceedingly promising character. That gentleman has assured me that he intends to make big efforts to assist the mining development of the Territory. In regard to the development of our oil resources in Papua, honorable senators are probably aware that the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) is dealing “with that matter in conjunction with the Imperial authorities, and Ministers are now awaiting the submission of his report to Cabinet.
– It will be m. chin the recollection of honorable senators that the Electoral Act, as recently amended, provides for the restoration of postal voting. The procedure connected with that portion of the Act appears to be of an exceedingly cumbersome nature, and to impose a large amount of unnecessary work, not only upon the electors, but upon all concerned. Many electors will find it extremely difficult to secure the presence of an authorized witness for the purpose of witnessing their application for a postal ballot-paper in the first instance, and afterwards of witnessing their ‘votes. Now one of the most accessible of authorized witnesses is a justice of the peace. It is a matter of considerable difficulty to induce the State Government to appoint additional justices of the peace.
– The honorable senator is not in order. He can deal only with the proposed vote.
– I am dealing with the administration of. the Electoral Act.
– Is not the whole of the Electoral Department under the Home and Territories Department?’ “
– The honorable senator is not in order in discussing the Electoral Act.
– I am discussing the administration of the Act, which involves the question of postal voting certificates and postal voting ballot-papers, as well as all the details in connexion with the recording of votes. In view of all the difficulties that exist owing to the refusal of the State Government to appoint additional justices of the peace, the Commonwealth should adopt the postal voting system, so that every possible facility should be at the disposal of the electors. The number of authorized witnesses is insufficient to meet the position, and I suggest to the Minister that the ‘Commonwealth Government should make provision for the appointment of honorary justices of the peace in order to increase the number of authorized persons. If that were done, and a number of men, living adjacent to polling booths, were appointed, it would greatly increase the number of voters at the next election.
– Included in this Department there is an item, under the heading Papua, relating to the development and ‘administration of the oil-fields there. I consider it competent for me to refer to the advisableness of the Government getting into touch with the Tasmanian Government in an endeavour to make some arrangement whereby the Tasmanian Government should acquire on reasonable terms the shale deposits in the vicinity of Latrobe, in Northern Tasmania. The quality of the oil has been proved beyond the shadow of a doubt.
– A good deal of doubt.
– I do not think there is any doubt about the matter. I do not believe Senator de Largie has troubled to. inquire into the quality of the Tasmanian oil shale. There is doubt in connexion with the development of all mineral deposits, but whether this would be a permanently payable proposition I am not prepared to say, because that can be ascertained only by development. As the Commonwealth (Government have very properly expended, and are continuing to spend, a certain sum in Papua to develop the few oil-fields in Australia, I do not think there will be any difficulty in the Government’ securing the property I have mentioned on reasonable terms. When Mr. Jensen was a Minister, an arrangement was entered into with the Tasmanian Government to take a certain quantity of oil shale at a fixed price, but the Tasmanian Government would not incur certain expenditure.
– The proposition was stopped by the Legislative Council.
– Yes, Senator Mul«cahy was a member of the Tasmanian Government at the time, and he is probably aware of what was done. It is well worth the while of the Federal Government to make inquiries in that direction.
– I desire to express a somewhat modest appreciation of the fact that the sum of £5,500 is included in the vote. for” the upkeep and partial preservation of the Federal Capital site. I quite understand that the Government cannot be expected yet to say what they intend doing, in view of all the circumstances, in connexion with this question. I can assure the Leader of the Government in this Chamber that the New South Wales members in this ^Parliament will some day band themselves together in a determined effort to keep faith with the people of New South Wales. The Western Australian people have the transcontinental railway completed. Tasmania has received a subsidy from the Commonwealth Government to enable her to put her finances in order. Melbourne has had all the benefits of Federation by the business of the Commonwealth Parliament being centralized here- Our South Australian friends are agitating for a railway north and south, and the time is not far distant when the representatives of New South Wales will ask the Government when the Federal Capital is- likely to be established on a proper basis. I shall not go into the question of the desirableness of centering the whole of the Commonwealth activities at Canberra. I hope that the time is not far distant when this matter will be lifted above the jeers of senators representing constituencies further south, and that we shall make a beginning which will enable, us to move the Seat of Government to where the Constitution intended it to be.
Senator Thomas referred to the question of oil deposits in Papua. I would like some information on an item of £7,500 included in the proposed vote towards the expenses of administration there. If we are to assume that this is only one-quarter of the amount required during the year for the purpose, the expense’ of administration for the whole year would amount to ‘£30,000 in connexion with our so far very primitive and elementary oil operations in Papua. If the expenditure is to be absorbed by the salaries of administrative officers, and by providing billets for men who do not do the practical work, I protest against such extravagant expenditure.
– In addition to the £7,500 mentioned, these is also an amount for development.
– Yes. I am purposely separating the two items, as I want to know what the cost of administration means. If it is for establishing another Department, and involves the appointment of additional managers or secretaries, it will have my opposition.
– That is for the administration of the whole of Papua.
– I may be mistaken, and, perhaps, the amount’ does refer to the administration of the whole island. I indorse the statements made by Senator Thomas in connexion with our oil deposits. It is a most important matter, because however much our friends opposite may want the Commonwealth Government to examine the Tasmanian deposits, we know that oil that will gush up is what we really require.
– With Senator Pratten, I hope it will not be long before we shall have gushing oil wells in some part of our Australian territory, wherever it may be, but I know from personal investigation that we have in Tasmania oil-producing material in very considerable quantities. The use of fuel oil in connexion with naval and other vessels is rapidly growing, and I had the privilege of discussing the matter with Admiral Patey, who told me the British Admiralty were very keenly interested in all oil propositions in this part of the Empire, and that those worthy of examination would receive consideration. We have recently had a visit from Admiral Jellicoe, and, although there may be satisfactory reasons for the whole of his report not being published, there is certainly no reason why a portion should not be made available. No doubt he has dealt with the oil resources of the mainland and Papua.
– He was not allowed to go to Tasmania.
– I believe he came into the Derwent, but he did not land.
– What would be the practical value of any report by Admiral Jellicoe on the oil resources of Australia?
– I do not know that we expected from him a report on the oil resources of Australia, but we might very well anticipate that he would give us some indication of what might follow if such resources existed and were fully exploited. I understand that the British Government are devoting £50,000 to assist the Commonwealth Government in developing the oil resources of Papua, Oil has been discovered there, but there are so far no bores yielding oil in commercial quantities, or justifying the establishment of any considerable plant, while the oil resources of Papua are well worthy of investigation, and I should be the last to oppose such investigations in any part of Australia. We know, in Tasmania, that we have several millions of tons of material from which may -be produced the best fuel oil, according to practical tests, to be found in any part of the world, and oil of the highest calorific value.
– Then why do not the Tasmanian people produce it?
– The attempt has been made to handle the proposition with insufficient capital, and immature knowledge. A suggestion was made by the Tasmanian Minister for Mines, which I bring under the notice of the Minister, and it is that if there is any information concerning this matter which may be supplied from Lord Jellicoe’s report, we should be very glad to get it.
– There is an item on the Estimates of £7,500 towards the expense of the administration of Papua, and yet the Government have before them a proposition which, if accepted, would provide money to cover the whole of the expense of the administration of Papua, and make that Territory worth many millions to Australia. In spite of this the Government are lingering and hanging on, and will not deal with the matter. There is a company ready to put £250,000 into the business, and to guarantee to bring a motor spirit from Papua into Australia if the Commonwealth Government will undertake to impose no duty upon it. The Parliament of the Union of South Africa, immediately it was informed of the possible use of this spirit for the propulsion of motor cars and aeroplanes, and for other purposes, passed a Bill to permit it to be admitted to South Africa free of duty. I understand that the Prime Minister when passing through South Africa on his return to Australia was made acquainted with this spirit and its uses, by the company. The British Navy are- giving the spirit a trial, and the company is willing to give the Commonwealth Government a trial of their spirit. If the Government will agree to admit the article free of duty, it can be landed in Australia at less than ls. per gallon. It should be remembered that we are subsidizing American oil companies at the present time to the extent of 6s. per case, and every time they ask for a rise in price they get it. A. New South Wales Judge recently told them that he would not listen to them, because they had given false evidence before a price-fixing Commission. The company to which I refer has the necessary cash, and is ready to go into the business of producing this spirit if the Commonwealth Government will agree to admit it free of duty.
– Is the removal of duty all that is required ?
– All that this company wants is that the spirit they produce shall be admitted to the Commonwealth free of duty. They are prepared to pay the same Excise duty upon its manufacture as if it were made in Australia. We own the Territory of Papua. and yet we permit the authorities there to collect duty on imported Australian products, whilst we charge duty on products of that Territory imported into Australia. That appears to me to be a ridiculous state of affairs. Senator Pratten will bear me out that the company to which I refer is a “ fair dinkum “ concern. They possess the necessary capital, and if they are encouraged to undertake this business they will make Papua, instead of a burden to Australia as it is today, a land which will provide a good deal of work, and be a producer of wealth to Australia to the extent of the £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 which every year we now send to America for oil. I recommend the Government to look into this matter at once, and give this company the opportunity to make Papua a source of wealth, instead of a burden, to Australia.
– I should like some information from the Vice-President of the Executive Council in connexion with electoral matters. During the elections in 1917 the Government promised that an alteration would be made in the system adopted for the election of members of the Senate. I should like the Minister to inform honorable senators whether a new system of voting for candidates for the Senate is to be adopted, and, if so, what is the nature of it.
– A few minutes ago I made some reference to an item of £7,500, which I now find is towards the expenses of the administration of Papua, but which I mistakenly associated only with the development of the oil-fields there. I wish to be clear, and to say that my remarks were directed to all that had gone on in connexion with the attempted development of the oil resources, and had no reference whatever to what I regard as the very effective administration of Papua under Judge Murray. I wish to say that I am as satisfied with the general administration of New Guinea by the present Administrator, Judge Murray, as I am dissatisfied with the very unsatisfactory manner in which the .development of the oil resources of that Territory has been carried out for so many years.
– It would appear from the amount provided for in this Bill that the administration of Papua involves a total expenditure of some £30,000 a year.
– Could we not get that amount out of a land tax there?
– There is no reason why Papua should not contribute something to the cost of the administration of Australia. Citizens there have to pay income tax. There is no reason why freehold estates in New Guinea should be placed in the pauper list any more than estates in Australia. But the Papuans have a rooted objection, to part with the freehold of their land, and much of the land there remains communal property. However, that question is hardly under discussion at the present time.
We have been treated from time to time to discussion upon the wonderful productivity of Tasmania in many directions, but there has been a deadly silence concerning the many advantages which might be reaped by the Commonwealth by the acquisition of the Blythe River iron deposits. We were told of those wonderful deposits year after year, and, with the business acumen and mental astuteness for which the Government are notorious, they took an option over a proposition which no one else would take an option over, and as a consequence they have dropped a cool £5,000 or £6,000 for nothing at all. Now we are assured by Senators O’Keefe and Mulcahy that there are some wonderful properties hidden away in the Latrobe shale deposits. Surely there are shrewd mining experts in Tasmania who will be prepared to exploit deposits of any particular value.
– The honorable senator is off the track.
– I think. I am right on the track. I do not think that the Tasmanians would pass by a good mining show of any sort. If the Government have some money to spend, there are not only a few hundreds of thousands of tons of payable shale, but hundreds of millions of tons of it, in the Wolgan Valley, in the Blue Mountains, at Murrurundi, and elsewhere in New South Wales, upon which the Government may experiment if they have money for the purpose. We have already passed a measure providing for a bounty upon all oil produced in Australia, I do not see that we are called upon to experiment with Commonwealth money in attempting to exploit mineral deposits in Tasmania.
– What about the Federal Capital?
– The Federal Capital is a question the settlement of which cannot be very much longer delayed. I hope that the Government will give it consideration in the very near future. I promise them that if they do not, there is a sufficient number of members in this Parliament to see that the justice to which New South Wales is entitled in this matter shall not be very much longer delayed.
– Before the Minister replies on the question of the Federal Capital, I should like him to make some statement to let honorable senators know whether Mr. Griffin is to be retained in the service of the Works Department. Does the Minister think that it is necessary to continue his services when practically no work is going on at the Federal Capital ? «
– It is commonly understood that the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) during his recent visit to England conferred with the Admiralty with regard to the oil resources of Papua..
– I am sorry that there are two Governments concerned in the matter.
– I am not dealing with that aspect of the question. A common basis of action has been agreed upon, and I understand that steps are likely to be- taken early in the development of the oil resources in that Territory. I have not yet read Sir Joseph Cook’s report, but I understand from cables which were received from time to time that satisfac-tory arrangements have been made to see* that the oil-fields of Papua are given a real trial. With respect to the Latrobe shale deposit, I recently saw a report of the Board of Trade inquiring into the oil question, in which the quality of the Latrobe shale is very highly spoken of. We all recognise in these days the value, of oil as a motive power, especially for use by the Navy.
In regard to Senator McDougall’s suggestion, I trust that private companies will never be allowed to exploit what are apparently proved oil-fields.
– I. was talking about the manufacture of motor spirit.
– During the period of the war I went into; that matter, and saw demonstrations1 of the effectiveness of alcohol as a motor spirit. I am glad to say that an inventive young Victorian overcame the difficulty of starting engines with motor spirit, but, unfortunately, the product could not compete with petrol at normal prices. I will take a note of the honorable senator’s suggestion, because I realize that anything that can provide us with cheap power will be a distinct advantage to the Commonwealth .
Referring to the matter raised by Senator Mulcahy, I understand that Mr. Watt, on behalf of the Government, promised to see what portion of Admiral Jellicoe’ s1 report could be published. Certain sections must be reserved, and even some members of the Government are not likely to see them, as they concern matters of policy which are dealt with by the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook).
Referring to the question raised by Senator Needham, I may say that some time ago the then Acting. prime Minister (Mr. Watt) gave a definite promise that there would be uniformity in the system of voting at future elections, and I know of nothing that has altered the decision of the Government concerning that matter. I confess I am not familiar with the details,, so I must ask honorable senators to wait till the Bill has been presented. Mr.. Griffin’s term of engagement in connexion with the Federal Capital will terminate shortly. Our future policy there is receiving the consideration of the Government
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Defence.
Proposed vote (Divisions 55 to 81), £169,845.
– When the Assistant Minister for Defence (Senator Russell) was speaking on the first reading of the Bill, he quoted some figures in connexion with ‘the visit of Senator Pearce as Minister for Demobilization to England. I understand that Senator Pearce, from his office in London a little time ago, questioned certain figures which had been furnished! to the Senate in reply to one of my questions as to the number of men who had returned to Australia at the date of his arrival! in, England, and the number then en route. I want to refer to those figures to prove that at the time °of: Senator
Pearce’s arrival fully one-half of our men had either returned or were en route. According to the information supplied to me in the Senate on 26th June of this year, Senator Pearce arrived in London on 19th March, 1919, and at that date 121,634 men had returned and 16,120 were en route - a total of 137,754. la to-day’s Age I find the official figures of the total enlistments in Australia, and the total number of men who went overseas. The total enlistments are given as 416,809, and the actual number who went overseas 329,883. Now, deducting 137,754 from 329,883, leaves a difference of 192,129. And if we deduct the 60,000 of our gallant dead who will never return from the 192,129, we have a total of 132,129, so that out of the total number who went overseas, more than onehalf had either returned to Australia or were en route when this famous Minister for Demobilization arrived in London. Prior to Senator Pearce’s arrival in London, General Monash had been very active in speeding up the Imperial authorities responsible for placing ships at the disposal of the Government for the return of our men. When it appeared likely that he was about to fail, his efforts were reinforced by the direct representations of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) to the Prime Minister of Great Britain (Mr. Lloyd George), so that the expeditious return of our Australian soldiers was due not to the activity of the Minister for Demobilization, but to the representations of the Prime Minister and General Monash. These are figures which I challenge the Minister to controvert.
.- Under this vote there are various items in connexion with the Government factories created for war purposes. I think I saw an official announcement the other day in connexion with overcoats and other military clothing now in the hands of the authorities. Obviously, now that the demand has ceased, the product of these Government factories will have to be deflected into other channels. I should like some information from the Minister as to what is being done with the output of our clothing and harness factories, because it seems to me that, war requirements having ceased, there is likely to be a leakage of public money for their upkeep unless these establishments are self-contained. I should also like to mention the fact that in these Estimates there are two or three items referring, to rifle-range shooting. I understand there is no subsidy in this, the first post-war year, for prize meetings of rifle associations ; but I must say that the Minister has been as generous as possible in the help given to the meeting to be held shortly at Randwick. These rifle ranges are being maintained by public money, and, unless the Government encourage rifle associations throughout Australia, individual members will not be able to maintain their pre-war efficiency. Throughout Australia there are 100,000 members of rifle associations, and though many members are beyond military age, no less than 30,000 of them went to the war. Each rifleman is put to an expenditure of £5 for the upkeep of his association,* and there is also a certain permanent expenditure by the Commonwealth on the ranges and in connexion with the organization of the Defence Department. I think it is obligatory on the part of the Government, therefore, if not now, then in . the not far-distant future, to restore in a very great measure that help which was given to these associations in former years, because the war has proved that we must rely upon the man- behind the gun for our defence in a case of emergency. The comparatively small amount given by the Government to help these associations with prize money and travelling expenditure does not exceed £25,000 in the whole Commonwealth, representing about 5s. per head. No money could be expended to better advantage than in connexion with our home defence, and I hope this matter will have the careful consideration of the Government in the public interest. I do not believe in spoiling the ship for a “ha’p’orth of tar,” and I say that many a £25,000 could be better cut out than the £25,000 that used to be given to the rifle associations of Australia.
-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [10.38].- I desire to supplement the remarks made -by Senator Pratten with regard to rifle clubs. Any niggardliness on behalf of the Government towards rifle associations will be a great mistake. In South Australia, matches which- had been arranged had to be abandoned for want of assistance from the Government, and I understand that members have been told that, before they can receive assistance in the way of rifle grants, they will have to join the Reserve. It is a mistake for the Government to curtail in any way the assistance given, in the past, to our rifle associations. They certainly deserve every encouragement. As Senator Pratten has said, the man behind the gun - the infantry man. with the rifle - is the man to whom we must look for our defence.
– I think the honorable senator is mistaken when he says that members of rifle clubs are being told that they must join the Reserve.
N- I understand an intimation of that nature has been given to them.
– It was certainly not official.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.Then there must be a mistake. I desire to direct attention to two items on page 9, “ Administrative and Instructional Staffs, £51,915,” and “ Universal Military Training, £3,S’50.” ‘There are persistent rumours that the military advisers of the Government are recommending a considerable extension in the -period of Militia training. It is now suggested that instead of there being sixteen days’ training, as at present, trainees shall spend something like three months upon a course of training. I wish to know whether the items now being considered are based upon expenditure in a previous year, or whether they provide for extension of the period of training and for consequent increased expenditure.
– I cannot permit Senator Needham’s splenetic attack upon an absent Minister to be recorded without a word of protest.
– It was perfectly fair criticism. Why not let it go?
– It was very unfair.
.- Are the figures correct?
– The figures have nothing to do with the matter. The whole situation is epitomized in the satisfactory manner in which our troops have been brought back to Australia ever since Senator Pearce took charge of demobilization in London. Prior to his taking con trol, almost every troopship which reached Australian waters was the centre of innumerable complaints regarding the conditions on board.
– There have been just such complaints since Senator Pearce took charge.
– There has not been a single complaint. Since Senator Pearce has had control of demobilization everything has been satisfactory. I understand that there has not been such rapid demobilization of the troops of any other country. I do not claim that Senator Pearce should receive the whole of the credit; but he is head of the Department, and had anything gone wrong while he was in London it would have been his responsibility, and that would have been very definitely emphasized. It is an unhappy fact that ever since Senator Pearce has taken control of the Defence Department, his opponents have hurled stones at him at every opportunity.
– In what way has there been unfairness displayed?
– In this latest way, of trying to rob him of credit which is his due.
– Does a statement of facts rob him of credit?
– It is not a statement of facts, but of a few figures with the very important facts omitted.
– Give us the important facts now.
– I have done so. Since Senator Pearce has taken charge of demobilization our troops have returned under the most satisfactory auspices. Previously there were endless complaints regarding bad quarters, dirty accommodation, unsatisfactory and insufficient food. Surely it is to the credit of Senator Pearce that all these causes of dissatisfaction have been removed. Senator Pearce was at the head of the Department which sent our men overseas. No one was better equipped - no one had a better right than he to supervise their return to Australia.
– I shall take some time in informing you to the contrary.
– I do not care how much time the honorable senator takes. He may threaten me about the time he proposes to occupy, but a duty devolves upon somebody on this side to champion one who is not present to defend himself.
-Colonel O’loghlin. - Why did not Sei] a tor Pearce go and conduct the whole war?
– Why did not the honorable senator go and do something valuable? What did he do? He filled a well-paid billet, and did nothing. I object to this carping criticism of an absent Minister. If he were here-
– He ought to be here.
– When he returns it will be time enough for his detractors to launch their accusations in his face.
– With regard to the Australian Military Forces, no permanent appointments are being made. Any appointments gazetted at this stage are temporary. That is in the interests of the men who have yet to return, for it is only fair that all should have, equal opportunity to apply for any positions offering. I recognise, as does Senator O’Loghlin, that the Defence Department owes a great deal to the permanent men. They have been the backbone of our Forces. They are the only class who have been granted a recent increase in salary. A little while ago, I recommended ‘that they should receive a more reasonable rate of pay, and Cabinet agreed to my proposal. I have now under consideration the cases of those warrant officers who rendered magnificent service at the war. I hope next week to be able to make an announcement which will have the effect of putting those officers in the best position in all their experience with the Australian Forces.
I do not desire to say anything concerning Senator Pearce. The figures which I presented to-day had to do with economy in the Defence Department, and they indicated how our men had been demobilized. No one appreciates more than I do the great work of General Monash in reference to demobilization. No one recognises more fully than myself the splendid work of Sir Harry Chauvel. He made a recommendation, which the Government heartily adopted, that the troops in Egypt should be sent home in their complete regimental form. The scheme was brilliantly successful. The various Light Horse Regiments re tained their magnificent esprit de corps, and those superb bodies were transported to their homes in complete units.
I have gained some information regarding the rotten conditions which prevailed on certain of the transports which arrived prior to Senator Pearce establishing himself in control of demobilization in England. I wish there had been a Minister in London six months earlier. I base that wish upon particulars contained in letters from Sir John Monash. And Sir Harry Chauvel told me only today that he would mot have had his men home from Egypt even at this stage but for the splendid fight put up by Senator Pearce in opposition to the proposals of the British authorities.
– The men themselves were putting up that fight.
– If the honorable senator were to peruse certain cables which have come under my notice, he would recognise that Senator Pearce has done all that has been humanly possible in order to insure the success of demobilization. The establishment of a Minister in London was essential at a period when there were different controlling authorities.
– There were two Ministers there already.
– They were otherwise fully employed. When the first transports brought our men home, following the armistice, they carried cargo for different ports. Under arrangements then in existence, the British Controller of Shipping gave preference, apparently, to cargo over troops; and, because they had some 200 or 300 tons of cargo in their holds, certain boats which arrived early were compelled to come up to Melbourne at a time when this city was in the throes of an epidemic. It was not right that troops should be brought into an infected port. I took steps, through the Acting Prime Minister (Mr: Watt), to urgently cable the ‘British Government to concede absolute control of transports in Australian waters. It was only fair that we should consider our men first, and that cargo should take second place. We secured full control of vessels during the influenza .outbreak, and thus we were able to avoid what might have been dire disaster. Militay officers at Home could not have been expected to put up a fight against the British authorities. Officers are subject to the powers of a Minister, but I believe that General Monash, and nearly all the officers associated with him, did wonderful organization work in connexion with the demobilization of our troops. As soon as they were able to get going we had an excellent run. I regret that on one or two occasions the arrangements on the trans-, ports were not what they ought to have been, but there has been a magnificent improvement, and since the disappearance of the influenza epidemic the work of those in charge of demobilization and the conduct of the men themselves, having regard tq the stress of circumstances, have been remarkably good.
– Why did not the honorable senator refrain from replying until he had heard all our complaints?
– I am not closing the debate, since we are in Committee.
Coming to the question of rifle clubs, I may say that the rifle club competitions were suspended during the war for the reason that a very large proportion of our riflemen were at the Front. There has been this year some difficulty in providing for rifle matches, but I have made arrangements to supply the rifle clubs with all the ammunition from our stores. In other words, they will receive about threefourths of what was previously given to them by the Department, and I believe this meets with the approval of the Rifle Clubs Associations.
– Is there not a great difficulty in supplying barrels ?
– A very real difficulty. We have been doing our best to overcome it, but it will not be possible to completely do so for some little time. We are supplying the rifle clubs with three-fourths of what we gave them in previous years.
– The honorable senator is now speaking of prize money: The Department has withheld all travelling privileges.
– I speak of threefourths of the total provision previously made by us. I am now giving consideration to the question of travelling privileges, because I find, upon a closer analysis, that the amount involved will not be so large as seemed probable at first sight. It will mean an expenditure of about £900,000, towards which the States generally contribute about onehalf, so that we may be able to do something in that direction.
– What has become of all the rifles that were used by our men at the Front?
– The British Government are generously replacing any damaged or worn equipment, so that the men of our five divisions will return fully equipped. As to outfit, the men are permitted to retain all their clothing, including overcoats. In most countries overcoats are treated as equipment, and were so regarded by us until recently.
– There should be a sufficient supply of the rifles that were used by our men at the Front to satisfy the wants of all the rifle clubs.
– I do not know whether we shall be able to supply all the clubs this year. It was one of the wonders of the war that, while hostilities were in progress, the whole of the rifles used by the British Forces were changed from what is known as Mark 6 to Mark 7. This change has not yet been completed in respect of the AustralianForces. The same difficulty applies to munition supplies, because of the change made in the ammunition and barrels during the war.
– Rifles that were good enough for our men to use at the war should be géod enough for use in rifle club competitions.
– We are converting our rifles as rapidly as possible; but the change will not be made in time to meet the present situation.
– Will the Minister expedite the favorable consideration of the question of travelling facilities for riflemen ?
– I will bring it before the Cabinet as soon as I can. I regret to heaT of the abandonment of rifle matches in South Australia. When I met the representatives of the rifle clubs some time ago, I refused to make a grant, because I believed that’ a large proportion of our men would still be overseas. I was happily deceived in that respect, since the demobilization has proceeded more rapidly than I believed possible; so that we shall ‘be able to allow our sporting men to engage in competitions.
Reference has been made by Senator Pratten to our various factories. Our Woollen Factory on 1st September completed the supply necessary for civilian clothing for our soldiers. Since then I have asked the manager to go on producing cloth, which, I hope, will be available at an early date for the use of civilians. I am now” inquiring as to the best method of distributing such cloth. I hope that at a very early date it will be in the market, and that it will continue to be available while the present shortage of clothing material exists.
– The honorable senator is trying in that way to reduce the cost of clothing.
– I am, because I am satisfied that if ever there was a case of profiteering, we have it in connexion with the production of men’s* clothing.
– At what price per yard will this cloth be sold?
– I am having experiments made, with the object of ascertaining at what cost clothing may be turned out by the Factory. Honorable senators on both sides, I am sure, will support this action.
– We shall all want to get measured for a suit of clothes.
– -Judging by the quality of some of the material produced by the Factory, I think honorable senators would be very glad to obtain it at the prices at which it has been turned out.
As to the other factories associated with the Department, magnificent work was done by them during the war. I do not propose to close them down at present; but, when our stocks are restored to reasonable dimensions, and the losses of the war are thus made good, they will have to go a little more slowly.
– Is the Minister going to continue the Harness Factory, and accumulate stock?
– Not to accumulate stock, but 1 we have, in some cases, to replace our normal stocks, which were seriously depleted by the war. As soon as that has been done, the factories will not work at such high pressure. Our supplies of harness and saddlery were largely exhausted, and we have to restore them to their normal dimensions. I have been asked whether soldiers obtain their own clothing. They do. During the early period of the war, it is said, we had large stocks of clothing. We certainly had large stocks of blankets and certain other articles ; but during the early period of the war many of the coats that were taken from our soldiers here were treated as equipment, sent to Great Britain, and made use of there. We are now returning to every soldier his overcoat, so that he will be in full possession of all the personal equipment that he possessed during the period of the war.
.- I should like to have spoken before Senator Russell, since he has practically replied to all the criticism that has been offered in respect to his Department. The course followed by him was not unusual; but there is more criticism to follow. I rise chiefly to complain of the feeling displayed by Senator de Largie because of the very mild criticism of Senator Pearce which came from this side. There was never a more justifiable reason for complaining most bitterly of the action of a Minister than there is in regard to Senator Pearce’s visit to England, Within a few hours of the adjournment of Parliament last Christmas I questioned Senator Pearce in the Senate as to whether it was his intention to proceed to Great Britain, and his replies were such as to make it appear that my statement that he intended to do so was utterly groundless. No sooner had the Parliament adjourned than he sailed for England. His passage had been booked weeks before, although he had denied on the floor of the Senate that it was. Yet the moment a statement is made in regard to the speed which is marking the demobilization of our troops Senator de Largie jumps up to defend him. It must be recollected that we had two Ministers in Britain when Senator Pearce went there. The Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook), we are told, was fully occupied with other matters. But surely this demobilization could have been carried out without the .aid of a third Minister, seeing .that the Prime Minister, the soldiers’ friend, was in London. What sort of .a friend was he to the soldiers if it was necessary to send Senator Pearce there to speed lip demobilization ? We all know that the. Prime Minister is estab- lishing a Department ‘for the redress of soldiers’ grievances. Complaints are to be made easy, and they are to be redressed by the Honorable W. M. Hughes, the soldiers’ friend. An army of clerks has been gathered together, and the Department is to be run for the purpose of convincing the soldiers that he is their friend.
– The honorable senator does not mind the soldier being convenienced to that extent ? ‘
– No ; hut if there “was time to call this Department into existence, what a’ farce it was to send a third Minister to London. With such conditions existing in’ Great Britain, imagine Senator de Largie saying that another Minister was required there. I can put up with a good deal of humbug, but when the honorable senator resents the mild criticism to which Senator Pearce has been subjected, it is a little over the odds. It is about up to us to deal with the Defence Department, and to say things which ought to have been said here, but which we have refrained from saying in order to expedite the business of the Commonwealth. Yet because one honorable senator from this side of the ‘Chamber had the temerity to give the figures relating to the rate of demobilization of our troops, Senator de Largie jumped to his feet in defence of Senator Pearce. At no distant period I went out of my way to say that what the Government deserved in the way of compliment for the rapidity of demobilization I was prepared to concede to them. But I am not prepared to listen to Senator de Largie and ‘Senator Russell fooling the people of this country by declaring that the presence of a third Minister was necessary in London to expedite demobilization. Everything was in perfect order there, after more than four years of war; and demobilization was merely a matter of ascertaining the dates upon which vessels would, sail, and of determining the particular units which should be marched to them. It is foolish to attempt to make it appear that this was a great work. Of course, if Senator Pearce is to he subjected to criticism for .the failures of his Department, he is entitled to praise for what it has done in the way of rapid demobilization.
– Unfortunately, we could not do what the honorable senator has suggested, namely, .bring the men back in divisions, because of our desire to first repatriate those who had had the longest period of service.
– I was basing my remarks upon the statement of the Minister himself.
– My remark applied only to the troops from Egypt.
– Senator Pearce did not stop at Egypt, and I suppose that is -the reason why the troops there were the first demobilized. One would have imagined that demobilization in Egypt was quite as important as demobilization in France and England. Surely, therefore, another Minister should have been despatched to Egypt? In the interval between now and the general elections I suggest that Senator Russell should visit Egypt in order that his colleagues may be able to tell us later of the excellent work which he accomplished there.
I am very pleased that Senator’ Pratten has brought forward the question of the payment of the old subsidy to rifle clubs throughout the Commonwealth. I almost gathered from Senator Russell’s observations that he is departing from the attitude which he adopted in regard to this matter some weeks ago.
– The attitude which I adopted some months ago. The change is due to the rapidity of the demobilization.
– Notwithstanding that I advocate economy, I submit that it is not true economy to deprive these rifle clubs of the small subsidy which they formerly received. They are a most effective and efficient arm of our Defence Force, and the enlistment records will show that when war broke out their members were not reluctant to offer their services overseas. The manner in which their ranks have been thinned as the result of the war entitles them to .at least as good, if not .better, treatment than they received in pre-war days.
– A deputation waited on me about last February. A large number of their members were then overseas, and consequently it did not appear reasonable to subsidize the clubs at that time.
– I take it that the Minister is now seeking to get back as rapidly as possible to the old conditions ?
– I wish now to address myself to Senator Pratten’s observations regarding Canberra. As soon as he desires the services of an organized New South Wales division in this Chamber, I am prepared to put myself under him, to strike hard and strike again, in accordance with Jellicoe’s motto, for the purpose of awakening this Parliament and the Government to the fact that a pledge made to New South Wales has been broken. There is a “ scrap of paper “ which has been torn up, the promise of the whole of the people of Australia that, in return for the huge sacrifices the State of New South Wales was making by entering the Federation, the Capital should be placed in a certain position.
– At this stage the honorable senator cannot refer to an item which is covered by the vote for the Department of Home and Territories.
– I have no desire to prolong the debate by discussing another Department, but if there is to be a continuation of that disregard for a nation’s promise which has been shown by all Parliaments since the establishment of Federation, I hope we shall hang our heads in shame whenever we talk about a “ scrap of paper.”
The Defence Department offers a wide field for discussion. I have had something to say about horses. I thank the Minister for his promise to make available to me any reports which have been made concerning the Remount Section of the Department, and although I understand that they do not sustain the accusations I made in regard to missing horses, I shall take the opportunity of. bringing them before the Senate.
The most urgent and pressing need of to-day is an inquiry into the various war operations. Two years ago Great Britain, almost in justice to Australia, because our High Commissioner (Mr. Fisher) found a place on the Commission, considered it essential to appoint a Royal Commission to inquire into what took place on Gallipoli. I venture to say that before this Parliament goes out of existence a Royal Commission should be appointed, or a Select Committee of the Senate, or a joint Select Committee of both Houses, and given authority to visit the various war fronts, take evidence, and see what has happened. While our sol diers’ memories are fresh, it would be time and money well expended to have a thorough investigation into the conduct of the war, not only in Gallipoli, but also in France, and the treatment of Australian soldiers, so that we may have an authentic record where at present we have none.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– A considerable time ago the Government contemplated erecting a new and comprehensive arsenal at Tuggera-nong, in the Federal Capital Territory, and on each Supply Bill a fairly substantial sum of money has been provided for the purpose. I notice that on this Bill there is an item of £11,000 which it is -contemplated will be spent on the arsenal during the current year. I would like to know what is to be done with the money. Is some laboratory to be established in Melbourne or elsewhere, are permanent officials to be appointed, is the site being surveyed, and is any actual work being done?
– I regret that Senator Russell to some extent anticipated further discussion, because I was anxious to say something in regard to rifle clubs, on the lines followed by Senator Pratten. I want the Minister to understand that the sentiments expressed by Senator Pratten are those which are shared throughout the Commonwealth’. The only provision on this Bill for rifle clubs is the pay for the rifle range staffs and two items of £1,510 and £425 for rifle clubs and associations and contingencies. During the period of the war there has been a considerable diminution in the amount of money appropriated for the purpose of rifle clubs, but now that the actual fighting is over it is thought that the Government should revert to its pre-war policy, and, if possible, be even more generous to these clubs. Their value and efficacy have been amply demonstrated by the war. It has been stated by Senator Pratten that 30 per cent, of the members of rifle clubs enlisted. My information is that there were 100,000 members of rifle clubs, and that’ of this number 20,000 enlisted, while, so far as Tasmania is concerned, the proportion was over 25 . per cent.
– It must also be remembered that all members of rifle clubs were not eligible to enlist.
– Seeing that membership of rifle clubs is permitted to the age of sixty years, a considerable portion of the members of those clubs -would be ineligible to enlist on account of age. Apart from the numbers sent away, the members of rifle clubs and the organizations, as well as individuals composing them, did very valuable work during the war in the matter of recruiting and training men in the musketry course. The training given to the members of the clubs, who afterwards took advantage of it as combatants at the Front, was also a valuable aid to this community. In every sense the rifle clubs have proved a very valuable adjunct to the defence of the Commonwealth, and, as Senator Pratten has said, the war has revealed their value as a factor in home defence for the future. Apart altogether from the individual matters to which reference has been made, namely, the provision of some grants towards prize money and the cost of travelling, I trust that the Minister will consider the whole question, and, if possible, place on the Estimates which will shortly be submitted to us a very substantial recognition of the value and the services rendered by these rifle clubs.
.- I am entirely with Senator Gardiner in the claim he has made that some inquiry shall be held into the conduct of the Gallipoli campaign. At any rate, this Parliament should have the opportunity of discussing the report of the inquiry which was held by the Imperial authorities in regard to that particular campaign. .1 have yet to learn that the information obtained by the Imperial Commission has been made public in Australia. From the first day that I had the honour to come into this Senate it was my intention, when the opportunity presented itself, to say something with regard to that campaign, but inasmuch as we were seeking throughout Australia to obtain recruits, I thought it .wise not to do so. At Gallipoli my opportunity to judge was limited, but Senator Lt.Colonel Bolton could tell the Senate a great deal. Senator Gardiner has struck the right note in claiming that some inquiry should be insisted upon in regard to the manner in which the Campaign was conducted. On the day of landing, the 25th April, 1915, the hospital and medical services were totally inadequate. There was only one hospital ship suitably fitted up, and capable of accommodating wounded men. It is well known that men who were badly wounded were taken and laid on the decks of ordinary ships, and many men who lost their lives in the early days of the Gallipoli campaign would have survived had proper medical services been available. There was also a waste of life which could have been avoided had the medical supplies been adequate. I sincerely indorse Senator Gardiner’s remarks to the effect that there should be an inquiry into the whole campaign, and if an investigation is not’ appointed by this Parliament, the Commonwealth authorities should make representations to the Imperial Government to see if some inquiry cannot be held to see who was responsible for the wastage, and the inadequate provision made for dealing with wounded men.
– You are speaking from personal experience.
Senator Lt.-Colonel BOLTON (Victoria) [11.30]. - I heartily indorse the statements made by Senator Keating with reference to rifle clubs. I regret that I did not hear Senator Pratten when he was speaking on the same subject. I have had many years’ experience in connexion with rifle clubs in Victoria, and particularly as they affect our military forces. That may appear to be a contradiction, but when I point out that the musketry training of soldiers is based on the use of 120 rounds of ammunition per annum, my meaning may be clear. In the Ballarat regiment, numbering 500 men, with which I have been associated for many years, we formed a club consisting of 400 men, and the members of that club fired as many rounds in one month as the military regulations required them to fire in a year. The result was that they became expert rifle shots, and when the British Government offered the Schumacher trophy, which was open to competition by rifle clubs throughout the length and breadth of the British Empire, forty men from the Ballarat regiment won the first competition, because they had put in more practice than was required by the Defence Department. Practice that will achieve such results should be encouraged. During the early days of the .campaign my own officers, who were expert rifle shots, rendered valuable service in training the men of the 8th Battalion, and in the final competitions in Egypt, these men came out with 200 points more than any other regiment owing to the experience gained by the officers and non-commissioned officers during many years of practice in Ballarat. I hope the Government will see their way clear to be more generous in connexion with rifle clubs, and place ample funds at the disposal, not only of civilian clubs, but of those formed in connexion with military units.
I have been reluctant to mention the Gallipoli campaign, but there are matters which I think the Government and the people of Australia ought to know. During the period of the war, it was not advisable to say anything that would have a tendency to reduce our military effort. The statements made by Senator Foll in connexion with the landing and the early stages of the campaign at Gallipoli convey a correct account of what occurred. On a previous occasion, I referred to this matter in a semi-official manner at a certain investigation that was being held. There is not the slightest doubt that if there was not actual neglect, there was ignorance on the part of some one. The authorities knew ‘ very well that a landing was -to be attempted on Gallipoli Peninsula, and they were well aware of the services that would be required. It was surely some one’s responsibility to make provision for the men who might need assistance. During the first forty-eight hours, out of 12,000 men who landed on the shores of Gallipoli, there were 5,000 casualties. The transport upon which my troops were conveyed carried 1,200 men. Two medical officers and twelve men of the Army Service Corps were attached to it. When the troops were landed, a few men were left on board to hand out stores. Within forty-eight hours 800 men were lying on the iron decks of that ship. No bedding accommodation was available, and life-belts were placed under their heads for pillows. The firemen and other members of the ship’s company were engaged in trying to relieve as far as possible the fearful necessities of those men. Owing’ to the lack of accommodation and proper means of treatment, before the wounded were landed at Alexandria gangrene developed in connexion with even slight wounds, and many valuable lives were lost. What- ever the results of the inquiries made by the British Government may have been, it is the responsibility of this Government to see that not only they, but the Australian people, have the satisfaction of knowing who was responsible for the awful conditions that prevailed. The men who organized the expedition might reasonably have been expected to provide the necessary conveniences for those who might require medical attention . .1 could deal with this matter at considerable length, but I do not think it is advisable to do so to-night. However, I urge the Government to consider whether it would not be in the interests of all concerned in Australia, independent of any inquiry that has been made across the water, if we were to initiate an inquiry of our own in order to ascertain who were to blame, and bring them to book.
Senator RUSSELL (Victoria- Vice-
President of the Executive Council and Acting Minister for Defence) [11.37]. - Like most honorable senators, I have been shocked by the statements made by Senator Bolton regarding the conditions on some of the ships that handled the wounded from Gallipoli. I had previously heard that the conditions were bad, but never had’ I heard them described so vividly as. the honorable senator has depicted them to-night.
– He has painted the conditions in light colours.
– I shall bring Senator Bolton’s remarks under the notice of Ministers, and ask them to give full consideration to the suggestion he has made. ,
Senator GARDINER (New South
Wales) [11.38]. - I am glad that Senator Foll and Senator Bolton have taken up the matter on which I was about to speak when my time expired, and that the Minister has promised to refer it to his’ colleagues. But I say without hesitation that his colleagues ought to have referred not only this matter, but the whole conduct of the Gallipoli campaign, to a Commission or Committee. . Returned soldiers tell a lot of strange stories which I know could be verified at any inquiry. I know of one man who would give evidence that the wounded at Gallipoli were put on board a ship that had been used for transporting mules, and had not even been cleaned, that being the best accommodation that was available. Many other allegations of the same kind will be brought to light. Let us have an inquiry into the whole of the Gallipoli campaign. The British newspapers were astonished that the Australian people should accept so calmly the’ blundering that took place there. I was one of those who were in responsible positions at the time, and it was not through any lack of consideration for the soldiers that we accepted the matter quietly. We were waiting for the time to” arrive when a full inquiry could be held. That time is now.
– Has the honorable senator any idea of the nature of the British Commission’s report?
– I would not be satisfied with the tabling of the British Commission’s report. Australian officers and men participated in that campaign, and it would be only an act of justice to give them an opportunity of placing their version of what happened in the records of the Australian Parliament.
– I should like to stress the fact that the Senate is practically unanimously in favour of a reversion to the pre-war subsidies to rifle clubs. In regard to finance, the scope of this Chamber is somewhat limited. Judging from the remarks of honorable senators, there would be no difficulty when another Supply Bill came before the Senate in adding to whatever was proposed by the’ Government’ a subsidy sufficient to enable the rifle clubs to carry on. But as the Minister knows, such an amendment to a finance Bill is not within the competence of the Senate. I am sure, however, that he is impressed by the unanimous desire of honorable senators that something should be done in this connexion, and I hope the promise he has made to approximate the subsidy more closely to the pre-war figure will be fully carried out, and that when the next Supply Bill is brought forward, a definite amount will be allotted for the assistance of rifle clubs, so that they may be restored to the fairly satisfactory basis they occupied before the war. The Senate occupies a somewhat invidious position in regard to finance, for even if we were to unanimously carry a resolution that the subsidy should be increased, there is no constitutional method by which this Chamber could press such a resolution. But as this matter comes immediately within his own Department, I hope that the Acting Minister .for Defence will gracefully bow to the unanimous wish expressed in the
Senate to-night that the rifle clubs should not be further penalized.
– I remand honorable senators that circumstances have changed rapidly during the past few months. When the rifle clubs approached me in February last, I asked them not to enter into any definite commitments in regard to prize money. They had mutually agreed to suspend all competitions during the war period, and as 10,000 or 12,000 of their own members were abroad, end we had adopted the policy that no permanent appointment should be made in the Government Service until the return of all the boys from the Front, in order that they might have equal opportunity of competing for all positions, I thought it would be equally just that they should have a chance to compete with their follow-members for any prizes offered in rifle club competitions. However, demobilization has proceeded more rapidly than any of us anticipated. At the present time I have no money available for the rifle clubs, but I have done my best to assist them by giving them out of the stores ammunition to the value of £3,000. I think I have satisfied the rifle clubs for the time being. When honorable members speak about railway travelling concessions, I am afraid they are confusing the membership of rifle dubs with the smaller number of competitors. I shall give this matter sympathetic consideration. The Department as confronted with a big task. Since last we took local military affairs seriously in 1914, the personnel of our Defence Force has doubled. The boys have been growing to manhood, and the augmented numbers for which we have to provide have given food for very careful thought. However, I promise to give sympathetic consideration to the representations made by honorable senators, and I hope the result will be satisfactory to them.
Proposed vote agreed to.-
Department or the Navy.
Proposed vote (Divisions 82 to 99), £386,010.
– I have one or two little grievances to ventilate under the head of the Department of the Navy. The most serious is that this Department, absolutely refuses to fall in with private employers in the shipbuilding industry and pay Arbitration Court award wages under an agreement with the men working for them. That is a scandalous state of affairs. On last Friday, I asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy to supply me with some information on the subject, but I have not yet received it. It is a fact that private employers, together with a representative of the Navy Department in Sydney, agreed with the Boilermakers Society to pay its members ls. 11 1/2d. per hour for their work. Their claim was for 2s. per hour. The private employers have stood loyally by the agreement, and are paying the wages agreed upon, but the Navy Department refuses to do so. I want to know why any manager of a dockyard at Cockatoo Island, G-‘arden Island, or wherever the work is carried out, is allowed to stand between, the workmen and the laws of the country. A little while ago we listened to some very severe criticisms of workmen because they sought redress for their grievances outside the Arbitration Court. How can we expect men to go to the Arbitration Court when the very creators of the Court refuse to abide by its decisions? I see that the launching of a ship which was fixed for next Friday is to be delayed because of a strike by the shipwrights. Is it any wonder . that they fall back upon that brutal weapon when the Government refuse to obey the awards of their own tribunal? In the circumstances, it is no wonder that there are strikes and industrial unrest everywhere. I trust that the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy will see that something is done in this matter ; that the men’ concerned get justice; and that private employers are permitted to compete against the Government on even terms.
I recently asked some questions with respect to a number of workmen who w.ere sent to the Old Country to gain experience in shipbuilding. I want to know how it is that those men are leaving Government employment, and that the knowledge they gained is being utilized by private employers. The reason is that private employers are paying the men a fair and decent wage in view of the experience they have gained. These men were never asked for a report on their work in the Old
Country, and the positions which they should fill in our- dockyards are being filled to-day by men imported from overseas. It is a ridiculous state of affairs that the country should ‘be put to the trouble and expense of sending men to the Old Country to gain practical experience, and when they come back, we should neglect to utilize their services. I hope that this will be remedied.
I have to bring under notice another matter connected with the blundering Navy Department. I do not know whether it is correct or not, but I am informed on good authority that the Department bought an old ship down here and loaded her twice with wheat, and that the wheat was spoiled because she was leaking like an old basket. I desire to know what was paid for that ship, and what she has cost for repairs. Are there officers in the Navy Department whom we cannot trust to buy a vessel fit to carry wheat? There is something that we cannot understand in these transactions. I believe that the vessel to which I refer is now in dock, and is being caulked again.
– “Will she be all right the third time she is caulked?
– I do not know. I think that perhaps the best thing to do would be to get rid of the old tub at once. I do not know why this blundering should go on, but it is necessary that some one should direct attention to it.
– Does the honorable senator know the name of the boat?
– I think she is called the Speedway.
– She is not controlled by the Navy, but by the authorities in charge of shipping.
– That may be so, but I should like to know why these blunders were made, and why the Navy does not utilize the services of the young Australians who were sent Home to gain experience, instead of bringing men out from the Old Country to occupy positions that young Australians are well qualified to fill.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) f 11.51]. - It is surprising to hear from Senator McDougall that the Commonwealth Government are not obeying the awards of the Arbitration Court which they so strenuously uphold. T thought that the State Governments were the only sinners in this respect. I rose to call attention to the vote of £20,500 proposed for the Royal Australian Naval College. I understand that, according to the best naval authorities, this college is established in the wrong position. It appears that a great mistake was made in establishing it at Jervis Bay, which is unsuited for the training of naval cadets. The cost of bringing materials and supplies to that place is much higher than would be necessary if the College were established at a more suitable site. I believe that Admiral Henderson, who was brought out here at considerable expense to advise us as to naval matters, recommended that the College should be established at Middle Harbor, but, for some reason or another, his advice was departed from. If a mistake has been made, the sooner it is rectified the better, for every year the College is continued at Jervis Bay adds to the expense for its extension and upkeep. I should like to know whether the Navy Department has considered the matter, with a view to transferring the College to some more suitable site, where the training of our naval cadets can be carried out with greater efficiency, and the cost of the upkeep of the College very considerably reduced; If the position is as I have stated it, and those in charge of the College, the Naval advisers of the Government, and Admiral Henderson do not favour the establishment of the College at the present site, it is time that the mistake was rectified, and the College transferred to some more suitable place.
– There are a few items under this Department to which I should like to make reference, and upon which I should like to have some information. I find that under division 84 - maintenance of ships and vessels - a vote of £100,000 is proposd for maintenance and repairs, and also stores in connexion with H.M.A. ships of war and vessels used as auxiliaries to the Fleet. I should like to know what this vote covers, and whether it is based upon the experience of the present financial year. One of the other items to which I desire to refer is £2,000 for “repair and maintenance of naval works; also repair and maintenance of vessels of other Commonwealth Departments in respect of which repayments may be credited to this division.” I do not quite understand what is meant by the words “ in respect of which repayments may be credited to this division.” Am I to understand that the amounts to be expended out of this vote may be repaid by other Departments to the Department of the Navy for work done by the latter in repairing and maintaining vessels of other Departments? For instance, if the Department of Trade and Customs has vessels repaired and maintained -by the Department of the Navy, is the payment for that work primarily out of this vote of £2,000, and is the Navy Department afterwards repaid the cost by the Department of Trade and Customs?
Provision is made for £11,500 for pay and £9,000 for contingencies in connexion with the Royal Australian Naval College. The heaviest expenditure is that on salaries if the amount asked for in this Bill for three months is any criterion of the annual expenditure. I have noticed, but not, perhaps, with the surprise felt by Senator O’Loghlin and others, that the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) has suddenly discovered that Jervis Bay is a most unsuitable site for the College. I was not surprised at such a discovery, because I remember that when the site was decided on I had it firmly impressed on me that the Government in selecting it was running counter to, and in defiance of, all the expert advice available in the Commonwealth.
– “Who were the experts?
– I cannot tell who they were, but I was given to understand at the time on reliable authority that such was the case, and the fact was common knowledge.
– Sydney influence desired the College for that city.
– That may be, but I have always understood that there was nobody in the Commonwealth with any reputation as ‘an expert in naval matters who could defend the present site. I asked a question on the matter a day or so ago, and, I suppose, because I made a reference to a location on the Derwent, or waters in the vicinity, as more suitable, the Minister thought there was something jocular about it. But I seriously ask the Minister and the Government, if it is intended at any time to move the Naval College, to take advice as to the suitability of the Derwent estuary or adjacent shores.
If they do so, I have no doubt as to what the result will be, for any Australian naval officer, or any officer of the Royal Navy who has visited different parts of Australia, will give only one opinion, and that is that the Derwent estuary would afford a most suitable site. It is near to a centre of population, and there is a choice of twenty or thirty sites for . a College so situated that from any part of such a building there would be a view of close waters in which the combined fleets of the Allies could manoeuvre. These are the only waters in which the Royal Navy had for years carried out its gun practice and its day and night manoeuvres.
– “What is wrong with the Jervis Bay site?
– I am not saying what is wrong with Jervis Bay, but merely pointing out that the Minister is reported to have said that it is an unsuitable one. This, I take it, is an indication that the Government may think it desirable to transfer the College, and at this juncture to prepare the mind of the people and Parliament to “ cut the losses.” If I am right in that, .all I ask is that consideration may be given to the sites I have indicated, which are within easy distance of Hobart, and on a very lengthy foreshore fronting the rivers, bays, and channels of the Derwent estuary and surrounding waters, which afford a depth beyond all possible requirements.
– I sincerely trust that if the Government are contemplating changing the site of the Naval College they will take into consideration the facilities available on the coast of Queensland. That State possesses two harbors, those of Bowen and Gladstone, which are capable of holding the whole of the British Fleet. Without dwelling on the question, I take the opportunity of putting forward the claims, of the State I have the honour to assist in representing. If it is intended to make a change, no more suitable place could be found in the whole of Australia than one of the two I have mentioned.
– Senator Foll has mentioned one or two ports, though I would .prefer to call them waterways. I know the coast of Australia better, perhaps, than most men. At Fremantle, the first port of call for vessels coming to Australia, they had to put up a wind shield to keep the wind off the harbor, and they imported an engineer from England to construct a graving dock. They brought out something like ten cargoes of cement, dumped it into position, but it disappeared. There was no bottom to the dock. They are now attempting to persuade the Commonwealth Government to construct a floating dock at the Henderson Base. In my opinion, this is a totally unwarranted expenditure. At Albany there is a depth of 12 feet at the town- pier, and Sydney Harbor has a depth ‘of 27 feet. Ships arriving in Australia discharge the first portion of their cargo at Fremantle; then they touch at Adelaide and Melbourne, and when they reach Sydney, they are practically in ballast trim.
– There is a depth of 37 feet in Sydney Harbor..
-There is a depth of 27 feet with 4 ft. 6 in. rise and fall, so that at spring tides there is a depth of 31 ft. 6 in. It is the worst harbor in Australia, not even excepting Mackay and Flat Top. Sydney, again, is the first port of departure, and, as a rule, vessels take portion only of their loading there, and pick up further cargo at Melbourne, Adelaide, and Fremantle.
– What about the ships that come from America?
– What ships come from America? The Sonoma and the V Ventura, drawing about 25 feet.
– “ Spreckel shells.”
– It would have been a good thing for Australia if Spreckels had not sent those ships here, because then we would not have had- the Industrial Workers of the World and the One Big Union crowd.
– What about Port Lincoln ?
– I know nearly all the harbors of the world, and I can say quite honestly that there is no better harbor than Port Lincoln with its immense area of land-locked water, with a depth of not less than 40 feet, and capacity for accommodating the entire British Fleet at manoeuvres. There is not a single impediment in it. Let honorable senators compare that harbor with Sydney with its’ many impediments to shipping. Port Lincoln is absolutely clear water, and in every respect is superior to Sydney, Port Hacking, Newcastle, or any other ports that have been mentioned. The Government should make provision for honorable senators to have a look at Port Lincoln. They would then acknowledge its superiority.
Sitting suspended from 12.15 to 1 a.m. (Friday).
– I have known Port Lincoln for something like forty years, and at no time ‘have I found lesS than 40 feet of water alongside the coast. We rolled the wool from the wool-shed on Boston Island right aboard the ships without wharf, jetty, or anything else. That cannot be done in Sydney or Newcastle, and even at the great haven which they say they have got up their sleeves at Port Stephens.
– It can be done in Hobart.
– I know that claims will be made regarding other places, including Cairns, which is not :. bad harbor, but still a mud-hole. Thereis an absolute necessity for excursions around the coast to enable the members of this Parliament to learn something about the harbors of Australia. We have to be guided to a great extent by our naval authorities on the question of whether a naval base is necessary for Australia. Admiral Henderson came out here for a dog watch, and made recommendations.
– Order ! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– The departmental vote is about £400,000, to carry us on for a quarter, but the expenditure is, I believe, a sum approaching £2,000,000 for the whole year. Most /important developments are looming. We have just had a visit from Viscount Jellicoe in connexion with some proposals for Australian naval development, and I should like now to put on record my opinion that the Royal Australian Navy in its present condition is neither, fish, flesh, fowl, nor good red herring. There is a considerable amount of unrest in connexion with the junior naval ratings, as Senator Guthrie knows, and a great deal of dissatisfaction regarding the officering of the Navy. The man in the street is to be pardoned for having the impression that the Australian Navy is, so far, to some extent a refuge for Imperial officer*.
If we are going to have a Royal Australian Navy, we should have a Navy not only Australian in name, but Australian in practice. I make these remarks not by way of criticism, but to record the position as I believe it exists to-day. When the full-dress debate upon Naval development takes place, I believe a good many honorable senators will take up the position that they will, so far as they can, insist on our Navy becoming an Australian Navy in the true sense. The discussion must come, and these matters will have to be faced. I hope the Minister in charge of this very big and important development will bear these facts in mind, because I believe the sentiment of the Senate will be found to be in the direction I have indicated. I hope further that the Ministry, in considering Lord Jellicoe’s report in both its public and its secret aspects, will remember that the financial resources of this country are exceedingly strained without any further obligation being imposed upon the country in the direction that possibly Lord Jellicoe will suggest. I trust, also, that we shall remember in our discussions that there are many Australian points of view, and that many of lis will not regard any reports, even from the very highest authorities, as altogether sacrosanct. The discussion will have to come from the Australian, and not from, the British, stand-point, and I hope the Ministry will be thoroughly Australian in considering the future Australian naval policy.
– I join in stressing the importance of what I hope will be an Australian Navy. I would again call attention to something that is actually happening at the present time. Although there has been a strained silence among a great many people for a long period, impatience is daily growing regarding the fact that, for the awful offence of waiting in a deputation upon the officers of the Australia, certain young Australians, who gave distinguished service to the Empire during the war, are still in gaol. As an Australian, whenever I think of those men being rewarded for their four years’ service by being kept in gaol to-day, my blood boils. I have already said, and will repeat it with emphasis, that I shall not participate in the slightest degree in any action calculated to indicate a spirit of loyalty to Great Britain, so long as British authorities keep Australian sailors in gaol. In New South Wales a feeling of annoyance and anger is growing. The mood is expanding into an incipient outbreak against an intolerable situation. From one end of New South’ Wales to the other, the resentment of the people is rapidly mounting. Cruel punishment has been meted out to men who have served more than four years with the Imperial Navy, and have won honour for the name of Australia. Why not let those men out on parole until the papers dealing with their case have been returned from England ? Prisoners have been treated in that manner before. If the men in gaol had been officers they would have been on parole to-day. It is intolerable to recall that one of those now serving his two years took part in that historic raid upon Zeebrugge - an attack which constitutes probably the most thrilling and famous naval episode of the war. What had these unfortunate men done ? They had had a day off at Fremantle; they had had a good time, and then they invited their friends to come on board the Australia next day so that they might reciprocate the kindness shown them. They learned that the opportunity to entertain their friends was to be denied them. Thereupon, they waited in deputation upon their officers. That, apparently was a terribly serious offence. A yarn has been going the rounds to the effect that they endeavoured to persuade the stokers to refuse duty; but I have been talking with mothers and fathers of the imprisoned men, and I know the facts. We have kept silent for weeks, but that silence will not be maintained much longer. Small though the matter may appear to the Government, it is liable to create a grave situation with respect to the relations between Australia and Britain. The people who know that no offence worth mentioning was committed have said these things. The very idea of these men straggling on to the quarterdeck in an irregular nazal fashion was so heinous ! The incident has been aggravated into an intolerable offence against law and, order - one which must be punished with two years’ imprisonment. It all shows a brutal disregard of the fine services rendered by those men. The punishment was a display of savage and vindictive resentment against the sailors for having asked that the warship be kept in harbour for half-a-day longer in order to entertain the public.
No doubt, the men, in their disappointment, did the sort of thing that many others had done before them. They did the wrong thing. But what a petty thing it was ! Surely the time has arrived when we should forgive them their indiscretion, recollecting that they fought and suffered hardships and privation for us, and that they won distinction for Australia and the Empire. If the British Naval authorities will not hasten to act upon the papers which the Government say they have forwarded - -the Government may not have sent them, although they have said they have done so; - if the British authorities will not reply, it is up to the Government to let those men out on parole until they receive an official answer.
Many Australians will closely watch Lord Fisher’s criticisms of the British Navy. It appears that during the next five years all our warships of to-day are to be scrapped. I regard Lord Fisher as a great naval authority, and I accord to his views the most serious consideration. So long as those persons at the head ‘ of the Navy conduct themselves towards Australians in the way they are now doing, no vote shall pass unchallenged through this Chamber if it has for its object the extension of the Navy. At every opportunity I shall challenge the right of the British Government to keep in prison men who have done so much for Australia and the Empire. For two months I have refrained from speaking, but I feel so strongly that, if it were possible to do anything - I do not care ow rash, how wild, ‘and how ineffective - I would be inclined to take action. Australian sailors are languishing in gaol for a trivial offence. They waited upon their officers in the form of a deputation - which constituted a breach of naval regulations. As a matter of fact, the officer principally concerned could have settled the whole affair off-hand had he possessed one grain of common sense. I am the more surprised that he did not take that course of action, seeing that the individual concerned is accustomed to Australian conditions, and should have been able to bring brains, to bear upon the situation. Instead of exercising tact and sense, however, he permitted conditions to generate a little more heat and noise, and yet there was no harm done. But to-day the culprits are serving a sentence of two years, while the Government continue to put us off by stating that they are awaiting a reply from the Imperial Naval authorities. If that answer does not soon come to hand, Great Britain will receive any number of communications from Australia upon the subject. As one who values the relationships of Australia with the Mother Country, I see in the present situation a danger of those relationships becoming strained. It is for that reason that I have refrained from encouraging drastic action among the people closely and deeply concerned. .It is a standing disgrace to the Government that they should permit these sailors to remain in gaol one hour longer. I trust the Government will not mistake the silence and patience of Australians for apathy. I trust the authorities will not lull themselves into a false sense .of security, believing that the storm has blown over. Nothing but disgust has been expressed throughout the press of Australia in its comments upon the drastic, cruel, vindictive, and wicked punishment imposed upon Australian sailors.
– I am strongly of opinion that there should be a thorough investigation into the Australian Navy. As a matter of fact, it is not an Australian Navy at “ all. Practically none of its officers are Australians.
– There is nothing surprising about that, seeing that our Navy is so young.
– It is not so young. It has been in existence for thirty years.
– Australians have no hope of becoming officers in the Australian Navy.
– No possible chance ! I have a boy who has been for seventeen years a member of the Royal Naval Reserve. He has no hope of being promoted further than where he stands to-day, as a warrant officer. Englishmen have taken his place. The whole system, based upon British methods, is bad. A boy at the age of thirteen is placed into the Royal Naval College. He is brought up as a longshoreman - not as a seaman. The first action of the Australian Naval College authorities should be to give that boy an opportunity to find his sea legs. He should be sent to sea for the first two years of his training.
– We are told that even Jervis Bay is too rough for them.
– And yet you want to establish them at Port Hacking, which is worse. A boy cannot be made a sailor ashore. The job has to be done at sea. The first two years of a cadet’s experience should be at sea, and not in a college on shore, where he learns nothing except a little Latin and Greek, and the like. Nobody knows better than I that a man on shipboard must obey orders. The maxim when I went to sea was, “ Obey orders, if you break the blooming owners.” And we had to carry out those orders. I might be at the wheel; I would see a rock ahead of me. I would be told to steer, say, “East, half -south.” I would steer that course even if I went on the rock. Only by obedience to orders can the Navy carry on to-day.
– I now understand how the honorable senator has got on the rocks.
– I got on the rocks more than once. There must be one control on board ship. Senator Gardiner said that the Australia was delayed at Fremantle for half-a-day.
– No; the men asked, for a delay of half-a-day, but it was not granted to them.
– We are told, at all events, that the ship was delayed for half-a-day. No one can say what might have happened while she was detained at Fremantle. It would be wise for the Government, now that the war is over, to extend clemency to these men, and, if possible, to release them.
I wish to return to the .question of the so-called dry port. In tie Admiralty Sailing Directions, it is stated that -
The harbor known as Port Lincoln is situated between Kirton and Surfleet Point, and is more than 7 miles in length in a southwest direction. The depths in it are generally from 4 to 5 fathoms.
– Port Jackson is more than 20 miles in length.
– But it contains many obstacles to navigation. Sydney Harbor cannot show a depth of 5 or 6 fathoms, and it would be useless to attempt to dredge it, because of its rocky formation. On the other hand, the ports of Fremantle, Adelaide, and Melbourne- can be dredged. I would impress on the Government the desirableness of making use of our Navy to educate members of this Parliament as to- the- coast line of Australia. It would be well to take them for a trip round the coast. I should be prepared to join in such a cruise, but I think that Senator Gardiner would desire to travel by train. I have shown that the interjection made by Senator McDougall while I was speaking a little while ago was quite unfounded, and that we have in South Australia one of the best harbors in the world, where ships’ may lie sheltered from all the winds that blow. Sydney Harbor, on the other hand, is one of the worst of which I know.
– The matter to which reference has been made by both Senator Pratten and Senator Gardiner is of serious concern. It was recently announced that she Imperial Government had presented to the Commonwealth a number of submarines, cruisers, and other war vessels, and, if we are to make use of them, one of the problems of the near future will be how they shall be manned. I confidently believe that, having regard to the present temper of the people, and particularly the young manhood of Australia, the Government will find an almost insuperable difficulty in doing so. The experience that our ‘sailors have had of discipline while on service abroad is, I believe, not calculated to induce any very great stream of young Australians to join our Navy. They may be right or wrong in the attitude they take.
– The honorable member is speaking from first-hand knowledge.
– I am. They welcomed their -experience of actual warfare with the spirit of the proverbial British tar. They acquitted themselves most creditably in all naval undertakings against the enemy. But it is abundantly evident to me, as the result of my own observations and from information reaching me, absolutely unsolicited, from different quarters, that young men who have admirably served Australia in the Navy, but who are now out of it, will warn the young manhood of Australia not to enter that Navy 60 long as it is officered as it has hitherto been. There are in our Navy officers who may be well fitted for their positions, but amongst those who have served under them there is a very strong feeling that these officers from the British Navy entered the Australian Navy, not with the idea of bettering it, but because of pressure of circumstances. It is said, on the other hand, that the attractions of the Australian Navy in respect of pay and promotion are very great. Against that it is urged that those who transfer from the British Navy lose certain rights, privileges, and possibilities, which more than counterbalance the advantages which they may derive temporarily while in our Navy. I ask Ministers to seriously consider the feeling that prevails amongst a large section of those who have served Australia and the Empire creditably throughout the war.
Senator Gardiner has referred to the case of men court-martialled on H.M.A.S. Australia. In making these remarks, I am putting aside that case. I quite recognise its importance, and that it is an outstanding feature of the attitude of Australians towards officers in the Australian Navy. But even if that occurrence had not taken place, I should still say, from my own knowledge and observation, and from information that comes to me regularly and consistently, that there is, rightly or wrongly, a feeling of injury on the part of a number ot’ estimable young men, who, in their college days, and in their civilian occupations before joining the Navy, were held in the highest esteem. Yet there is nothing but complaint from them as to the way in which young Australians who have joined the Navy have been ‘treated by officers who’ are accustomed to the methods which are employed on board British war-ships, for alleged breaches of discipline.
– Officers who do not understand the Australian temperament.
– Yes. And who do not understand Australian conditions. They do not appear to realize that many of these young men had gone through a creditable college course before entering the Australian Navy. Of course, it may be said that men of that stamp have no right to enter the Navy. Perhaps they have not. But if that view be adopted, in order to adequately man our Australian Navy in the future, we shall have” to depend upon manning it from training ships. We shall require to catch the Australian, blue-jacket very young - be- fora lie is thirteen years of age - and we’ shall need to put him through a course of discipline on a training ship. In other words, he will need to he a man who has never exercised the ordinary rights of citizenship in Australia, who has not been, to college, and who has never mixed largely with his fellows of his own age. I have a great regard for the Australian Navy, and I am proud of what it has done. It is a young and comparatively small Navy, but it may grow into a large Navy-
– It must do so.
– It must do so, provided that we can man it. I do hope that the Government will remember that there is amongst those who have served in our Navy a feeling that they have not had a fair1 deal. Those who entertain that view will naturally warn other young fellows against the adoption ,of a naval career. Consequently we may, in the future, have vessels on our hands, and not be able to procure the men to put upon them.
– To me it is quite obvious that if Australia is to have la mandate over the southern islands of the Pacific the Australian Navy is certain to achieve large dimensions. It will be necessary, therefore, to secure the services of an enormous number of young fellows to man it. But unless a very serious alteration be made in the treatment that is meted out to our sailors, the difficulty of obtaining them will be insuperable. In common with many other honorable senators, I receive a fair number of requests to get boys off the Tingira at all hazards. They make most vigorous complaints regarding the treatment which they receive on that vessel. I do not know whether those complaints are justified, but certainly a most determined effort is made by many young men to get away from that ship. A number of them do get away from it, and are seen no more. If the treatment of the lads on that training ship were good, there would ‘be very few desertions from her. Upon more than one occasion the Prime Minister has had placed before him the sentences imposed upon the lads from H.M.A.S. Australia, who are now imprisoned as the result of a court martial. Those who have interested themselves in this matter naturally feel some reluctance about calling a public meeting to discuss the question, but I can assure the Government that unless the Prime Minister takes steps to immediately release these men, such meetings will be called in all the State capitals throughout the ‘Commonwealth. The men are not going to be left in gaol on account of the trivial offence which they committed at Fremantle. The Acting Minister for the Navy informed us some time ago that no kid-gloved methods would be countenanced in the enforcement of discipline. But when it was pointed out to him that lads in our Navy were being caned, he very wisely retreated from his untenable position. I am quite sure that if the officers on board our warships realize what they are doing, Ave shall hear no more of corporal punishment of this character. I enter my emphatic protest against the delay which has occurred in the release of the imprisoned men from the flagship Australia.
– I should not have risen again but for the very frank remarks of ‘Senator Gardiner, and the very pertinent observations of ‘Senator- Keating. Their statements, however, justify me in pursuing a little further the view which I expressed in regard to the evolution of our Navy. I wish to be just as ‘frank as they were, and to say that Admiral Grant, when he arrived here, went so far as to affirm that arrangements had already been made for the acquisition by the Australian Government of five more Dreadnoughts, and that the Commonwealth was going to accept other gifts from the British Government for the purpose of adding to our naval strength. Commodore Dumaresq, of H.M.A.S. Australia, by a vigorous campaign of newspaper publicity, also appeared to be preparing the people for a naval development in the direction which he and others like him desired, but which we may not desire. These gentlemen must be taught to recognise that the final say in matters of this kind rests with the Commonwealth Parliament. When this matter crops up, I shall endeavour to deal with it very exhaustively from the standpoint of Australia, and what is good for Australia, and not from the stand-point of the Imperial naval officer.
I arn entirely in sympathy with the agitation that is proceeding for the release of the men who have been imprisoned for what was the comparatively trivial offence of the so-called mutiny on H.M.A.S. Australia. I have been informed by the mother of one of the boys in prison that when the mothers went to Commodore Dumaresq to plead for mercy for their boys, he told them that the sentences were the minimum that could be imposed, and were well deserved, and that he would not be a party to - reducing them by one day. If that is the spirit to be exhibited by the Imperial officers who come out here to command our Navy, the sooner we end it the better, and the more quickly we put them in their place the better. I speak quite frankly, because I regard it as a public duty to say what I have said, and because I think it is meet the Government should . really know what people are talking about, and how they are feeling in connexion with this matter. I do not want the Government to make the mistake of leaving the task of building up our Navy to Imperial officers.
– Can you get anything better than the Imperial Navy? ‘
– Yes; we can get officers who will be imbued with Australian traditions. They would be infinitely better men for the building up of our Navy than Imperial officers who do not know Australia ; and I hope and believe that the Government will lay the foundation of our Navy, not by swallowing holus-bolus the ! opinions expressed here by transient visitors, but by a consideration of all the conditions, which are so different in the Southern Hemisphere from what they are in the North Sea. If they do this, the Australian Navy should be the success we all want it to be. Senator Keating has rightly pointed out that under present circumstances, and under the present control, with its, shall I say, anti-Australian sympathies, the manning of the Fleet will be an exceedingly difficult matter.
– And this debate will not make it any easier to man it.
– It will ultimately make it very much easier if we remove the causes of complaint, and the conditions that are now operating against the manning of the Navy. I speak of these things from my own knowledge, because I have given some attention to them. I regard what has been said during this debate as merely a preliminary warning of what will come later. However, I believe that Ministers know these things, and will take them into consideration, and that,- in formulating their future naval policy, they will do their very best to remove the present causes of unrest and disappointment.
Senator Lt.-Colonel BOLTON (Victoria) [1.44 a.m.] . - The debate has taken a very dangerous tone. There can be no doubt that a Navy worthy of the name must maintain discipline, and anything said here that will have a tendency to destroy that discipline, or make the task of the officers responsible for the .efficiency of our vessels more difficult, is to be regretted.
– It is regrettable that there should be necessity for it.
.- There are two sides to the question. I was shocked when I first read the report of what might be called the mutiny on board H.M.A.S. Australia. I felt that when the Navy could exhibit such evidence of lack of discipline, the whole stability of the community had gone to pieces. Nothing gives greater confidence to the Britisher than his realization of what the British Navy is to-day,- and has been for centuries, and the day may come when the people of Australia will pray to God to have a Navy like the British Navy, and its discipline. I rose to say that I considered it a very dangerous and improper proceeding to carry on a debate which may have a tendency to weaken the discipline of our Naval Forces, and take away from the efficiency of our Navy. ‘
.- When the Bill for the establishment of a Naval College and training ship was before this Chamber, I pointed out that the people of Australia would never suffer what people of other countries had to suffer in regard to discipline. I said that it was absolutely unnecessary to call upon our people to undergo the severe discipline imposed elsewhere. The first lot of boys that went on the training ship was the finest body of youths that could be got together, but where are they to-day ? Not one of them had the opportunity to rise above a lowerdeck rating. I live near the vessel, and I know a little about it, and know that under the conditions existing to-day we shall never get Australians to man our Navy. These boys are as good as others; they had received a good education, and their people thought that they were doing a good thing for them by placing them on the training ship, but they did not make progress. As soon as their time was up they got away and made another start in life. The boys of the Navy to whom reference has been made to-night were drawn from this training ship, and are the sons of decent and respectable parents. Their little fault has been punished by brutal treatment. The Government have actually transported them from the locality where they could be seen in prison by their mothers to a spot 100 miles away. Is that the sort of treatment to which they should be subjected ? We hear talk about the discipline of the Navy. What has made our Australian soldiers great? There was no better discipline shown in any army than was displayed by them, and they were fighters. The Government say that discipline must be maintained.
Discipline ! The Admiral went to the Premier of New South Wales and demanded that a meeting which was to be held by the friends of the boys who were sentenced to imprisonment should not be permitted. The meeting was not allowed. It is a nice thing when an Admiral can override a State Parliament or anything else. The naval officers tell us that they do not propose to knuckle down to the Parliament of any country, but Australians will not stand such conduct. A way will be found out of that difficulty. When we were discussing the Bill for the establishment of a Naval College and training ship, I pointed out that the lads after two years on a training ship ought to be given an opportunity to attend theNaval College and get on. They havenot got on, and they never will get on under the present system of discipline and brutal treatment. Discipline ! No wonder the Australians turned round and said they would not stand it. Discipline it is called. It is simply cruel injustice to human beings. Discipline !
– It is time something was said from these benches in view of the general tone the debate has taken during the last half -hour. I do not assume for one moment that the gentlemen who have spoken think that a Navy, or an armed force, can be worked without discipline. It has been said by men who have had years of experience that rigid discipline is a necessary adjunct in connexion with the training on naval vessels. Senator Keating said there was a possibility of our having ships and no one to man them, but neither ships nor men are of any use without discipline.
– I quite agree with that.
– I am glad to hear that statement, but I have heard strong denunciations of discipline.
– I am not opposed to discipline.
– Much has been said that can only be interpreted as a denunciation of discipline, and that it is altogether unnecessary. I also wish to protest against certain statements suggesting that the Government were animated by a vindictive spirit towards the boys who have been compelled to submit to certain punishment.
– Not the Government.
– It has been said that the Government were opposed to taking any action in the matter.
– No; the officers’ action was criticised.
– References have been made to the Government.
.- When are you going to release them ?
– The Senate has been informed of the action the Government did take. I can only interpret Senator Pratten’s remarks as a direct attack upon the officers on British ships. His statement is unjust, unwarranted, and uncalled for. It is possible that one or two of the officers adopted a course of action which does not commend itself to my honorable friend’s judgment. It may be that if I knew the circumstances I might condemn it, but that is entirely different from a wholesale denunciation of officers whose services have been very necessary, and who are called upon to perform very important work. What would be the position if they were to be sent back ? We are under an obligation to the officers who have come here.
– My complaint is that they, are endeavouring to abrogate the powers of this Parliament.
– That has nob been shown, and if it were the case, I would not support such action for a moment.
– Did you read the statements in the press?
– I have, and possibly the interview to which Senator Pratten refers. But I am not going to come to a conclusion concerning the whole of ‘the officers because one has been indiscreet enough to grant an interview to a press representative.
– Where are the Australian officers?
– Senator Guthrie should know better than any one else in this chamber that you cannot train a high naval officer in a day.
– For thirty years we have had ai Navy. The Cerberus is thirty years old.
– But the Cerberus is not a Navy. We know from our experience in training Naval cadets the time likely to be required to train the higher officers. It even takes years to train those of lower rating. While we look forward to the time when we can have our own Australian officers, we must, . in the meantime, rely upon an older Navy to supply the training our men lack. There is only one Navy from which we can secure our officers, and surely no one suggests applying to any other than the British Navy? Every one knows that the attractions to which Senator Pratten has referred do not counterbalance the disadvantages experienced. There are similar disadvantages in connexion with our Public Service, and officers do not appreciate being sent to distant outposts of the continent.
– Why cannot an Australian get beyond the rank of a petty officer ?
– He can, when we train him.
– He has to go into the College at thirteen.
– That question was raised by Senator McDougall, who pointed out that men had not the opportunity of. becoming commissioned officers. It arises from the fact that, to obtain the higher trained officers, we have to take them when lads, and put them through ‘the Naval College, as we do with military officers at Duntroon. If we believe that we can get our officers from the lower deck, we must follow a new system, and one that would have to be tried. The Australian policy is to train officers in the Naval College, and while that system is in operation, some time must elapse before a sufficient number will be experienced enough to fill the higher ranks. That system has been adopted, and so long as we adhere to it, there must be almost insuperable difficulties in the way of lower-deck men becoming more than petty officers. I would like to support the protest made by Senator Bolton. There is an obligation on the part of public men to be a little more reserved in their public utterances which may tend > to lessen the necessity for discipline, without which the Navy would be useless. Statements have been made as to the nature of the sentences, and I ask those who have made such statements if they have seen the evidence?
– I have seen the report.
– Mr. Orchard has seen the evidence.
– I .drew my conclusions from the published evidence in the Sydney Morning Herald.
– I have not seen the evidence, nor have the Government seen it; but I have heard honorable senators say that the sentences were brutal, and that the offences were trivial.
– They were not trivial, but were very serious.
– When the evidence is disclosed, it will be found that the offences were serious, and not in any way trivial.
– The charges were trivial.
– At present the Government are not in a position to judge, and this Senate is not in a position to form a reliable opinion until it has the full report before it. When the Government heard what had taken place, it asked for the papers. The Australia, at the time of the occurrence, was under the control of the Admiralty ; and, following what is the usual course, the officers despatched the papers to their superiors - the British Admiralty. The Government immediately cabled Home, urging that the most lenient treatment should be extended to the offenders, and that the papers be returned. The Government lost no time in moving in the matter, and it is unreasonable to ask that they, without having the papers before them, should release the boys. They did what I still persist in saying was right. The Commonwealth Government asked the Admiralty to review the sentences with the utmost leniency. When the papers are returned, if the Government are not prepared to indorse the decision of the British Admiralty, they will have the documents on which to take whatever action they consider necessary. In my opinion, the course taken by the Government was the correct one, and we should not assume that the British officers were actuated by a spirit of vindictiveness towards the men of the Australian Navy. I do not believe that such hostility exists for a moment, and the Senate might reasonably wait until the papers come to hand and the final action taken by the Government is known.
– Why were the men sent to Goulburn Gaol?
– This Government did not send them there.
– I did not say they did, but the men are in Goulburn Gaol.
– If I did not make myself clear enough when speaking before, I wish to entirely dissociate myself from any people who believe that discipline is not essential for theefficiency of the Navy. I said no word that reflected upon the necessity for discipline. At the same time I realize, as apparently other senators do, that discipline, like liberty, is something which very often can be wrongly appealed to; and just as crimes can be committed in the name of liberty, so tyranny can be practised in the name of discipline. I made no comment whatever upon the sentences passed by the court martial upon the men connected with the trouble on board the Australia. Apart altogether from that case, I have had sufficient information given to me, and coming to me constantly, to show that there is a feeling amongst a large number of reputable young men who have served the Empire and Australia abroad, that the Australian does not get a fair deal in the Australian Navy from the imported officer. I am not in a position to say whether that judgment is right or wrong. I also know that they are carefully circulating that opinion amongst their friends and the relatives of their friends, and warning young men not to join the Australian Navy. I can vouch for the truth of that statement, and that being the case, I consider that the Government will be confronted with a difficulty in manning the extra ships of which the Commonwealth will shortly become possessed. I do not say whether or not the young men who complain are justified, but I know for a fact that they feel aggrieved in regard to the treatment they have experienced, and they are warning others that the Australian Navy is the last service in the world that any young man ought to enter. I am referring not to men who joined the Navy under compulsion, but to young men who have had a college education and have mingled with others in the community in all sorts of sports, entertainments, and recreations. Their attitude is a very serious thing for the Commonwealth, because it menaces the future of the Australian Navy. I wish to see established a navy that will be commensurate with what Australia owes to itself, the Empire, and the League of Nations in the Pacific. I desire an efficient navy, and I realize that efficiency will depend upon the maintenance of proper discipline. But unless the discipline is such as will appeal to the intelligence of those who are subject to it, it is not likely to be approved by young Australians. I believe that we can have that discipline in the Australian Navy as we had it in the Australian Army, but to-day there is that hostility to which I have referred. I do not propose to go into any details to-night. Probably we shall have an opportunity later of discussing the whole naval policy of the Commonwealth in connexion with some of the reports that have been made to the Government, and it may be necessary then for me to give details. I have no desire to import into the debate names and cases, nor to disclose the identity of those who have pronounced the Navy to be a “ wash out,” and are warning others not to put themselves in its power. But I know with what the AustralianNavy is threatened in connexion with its future development and usefulness, and I should be lacking in my duty as a public man if I did not rise to convey to the Government the opinions that have been given to me and the impressions I have drawn.
– Senator Millen may seize on Senator McDougall’s references to discipline, but we know from the contemptuous tone in which the latter spoke that he was denouncing that severity which certain officers regard as discipline, although common-sense men regard it as an exaggeration that makes discipline unbearable. I can understand soldier senators speaking in defence of discipline, but have we not been told that our Australian soldiers when they went away from the firing line showed an utter disregard for the ordinary conventionalities of discipline? The closer they approached to the real fighting, however, the more they appreciated discipline, and in actual battle there was no better disciplined army in the world. We have no right to condemn discipline in its proper place, but we have a right, to complain of Australians being, not only disciplined, but treated as criminals for a trivial incident on the Australia, which could have been disposed of when it first came before the commanding officer. Senator Millen said that the papers relating to the case have not been perused by honorable senators. The Sydney newspapers published columns of information about this trouble, and I base my remarks upon the charges made against the men. One of the charges was that these men had “ straggled “ on to the quarter-deck in a manner that was not altogether proper.
– The honorable senator refers to that as one of the charges?
– Yes, and if those men were sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for a breach of discipline in waiting as a deputation upon the officer commanding, although they had given four years’ splendid service, and some of them wore distinctions - one, indeed, participated in that great raid on Zebrugge, which stands foremost in the records of the Navy during the war - what punishment would be inflicted upon those who committed a breach of discipline when going into action ? They would be hung, drawn, and quartered, I suppose, or their toe nails would be torn off. I have not dealt with this matter for some months, either inside or outside the Senate. I can scarcely trust myself to speak of it, because I feel so strongly regarding the treatment that was meted out. I know that Senator Millen does not know what £ am about to relate, but he will have a chance of inquiring as to the accuracy of my statement. Some people in Sydney, including Mr. Bailey, were very much interested in establishing a club where the boys of the Navy could meet when ashore. The scheme for raising the necessary funds was well under way, and a meeting was arranged to be held in the Education Buildings, in Sydney. The organizers did not know the addresses of the parents of the men, so they had little dodgers printed and circulated. One was sent on board the Australia and was posted in a prominent place. Commodore Dumaresq got hold of it and went to the Premier of New South Wales and almost demanded that the Government ‘should cancel the proposed, meeting. I am speaking on the authority of Mr. Bailey. The Commodore informed Mr. Holman that the meeting must not take place, because it was likely to protest against the sentences imposed upon some of the Australia’s men. Mr. Holman thereupon promptly rang up the Education Department and ordered that the use of the room in the Education Building should be refused for the purposes of the meeting. Mr. Holman called up the Education Department, and . informed them that the persons who desired to hold the meeting could not have the room, because the purpose of the meeting was to deal with the sentences that had been passed on the men of the Australia. The authorities of the Education Department, who had’ granted the room, were naturally indignant, because they knew that those who wished to hold the meeting had no such purpose in view. Mr. Holman was then convinced that he had been misled, and that the purpose of the meeting was, as I have said, to inaugurate a club for the men when they came ashore. This was reported to me by the gentleman who interested himself in the matter, and Senator McDougall, who was with me at the time, can bear out all that I have said. I tested this man, and from what I heard I am convinced that the Naval authorities have become too arrogant, and they must be brought to heel.
– They ordered Mr. Bailey off the road.
– I was going to refer to that. Mr. Bailey was talking to one of these hoys on the Reserve at Rose Bay, and after a time he went away to get the tram, and an officer came up to him and said, “ I want your name.” Mr. Bailey said, “ You will not get it.” Other words passed, and Mr. Bailey told the officer that he was on the King’s highway, and could not be interfered with. The officer then said, “I have your name. I know that you are a member of Parliament. I know that you are Mr. West.” He then wanted to know what Mr. Bailey had said to the lads. That is a long way over the odds. That is discipline. I am as great a stickler for discipline, where real interests are at stake, as is any one else. So also is Senator McDougall. But we will not stand for this kind of things which, if continued, will bring Australia to the condition that, while in our naval and military services we may have excellent discipline, we shall have no sailors or soldiers on whom to exercise it.
It would appear that Mr. West’s offence consisted in something which he was misreported as having said at some meeting. Mr. West contradicted the incorrect report as soon as he heard of it, but it would appear that the Naval authorities had it in for Mr. West, and were going to deal it out to him. They might have grabbed him and taken him on board a ship, and that might have been the last we would have heard of the honorable member for East Sydney.
We are closely in touch with the men, and know, what is happening. We know that there is a growing feeling that the authorities of the Navy are disposed to interfere with private citizens, and to resent what members of Parliament say. We protest against the system which mistakes severity and harsh punishment for discipline. I venture to say that the Government will do well to lend a willing ear to our protest. Senator Millen talked about these men being kept in gaol until the papers come back; but I say that, reading the case as it appeared in the press, they have already been too long in gaol. The records show that the men were taken’ through the city of Sydney in irons, and that the mother of one of the boys, when she met her son in irons, fainted and nearly lost her life through the shock she received. These things ap peal to me, if they do not appeal to the Minister. In view of what has happened, and of the service’s of these boys, surely they can be released until the papers come back. They are not criminals. They were sixteen, seventeen, or nineteen years of age when they went away, and they were away for four years, and it is not asking much to ask that they should be released. That would not mar the discipline of the service. The discipline of the Navy and of the Army has never been benefited by the severity of those in authority. The discipline that is successful is that of men who know their duty clearly.
I am standing for discipline, for the discipline of the officers who mistake, their real duty. I want the Government to discipline them. I want the Australian Government to let the British people know that they intend to treat fairly the men who have fought for Australia. It is all very well to pose as the friend of the sailors, and to wear a sailor’s cap as one goes down the street; but it is another thing to meet, as we have done, the parents of these boys. We know them to be thoroughly decent, respectable people, and we know what it meant to them, when all the Peace celebrations were going on, to know that their boys, who are not criminals, were herded with criminals. I have refrained from speaking on this subject time after time, when I felt that I ought to speak, because I know that my feelings carry me too far. As an Australian, I say that I feel on this matter so keenly that I shall not, by action or voice, take any part in any exhibition of loyalty while these lads remain in gaol. I shall carry that outside wherever I go. I know that it is a wrong course to adopt. I know that this is a time when we should be pulling together, and should not be divided; but if the Government heartlessly allow these men to remain in gaol, I shall do my best to see, that they hear of it wherever I can raise my voice. I have been patient for two months, waiting for the Government to do something to secure the release of the children of these decent men and women; these boys who fought for us, and whose reward is a sentence of two years in gaol because of what they did after a day of jollity in Western Australia. That is what the Government are up against.
The feeling of bitterness against the punishment of these lads will grow. They were guilty of no crime. They walked on the deck and asked the Commander of the ship to delay her for a day, that they might entertain their friends who had entertained them. After that, I believe that something more serious did happen.
– I do not say that what I have mentioned was all that happened. I do not wish to be misunderstood; but I say that the first thing was that they asked for something as a deputation, and that Avas regarded as such a gross outrage upon the discipline of the ship that they were repulsed in such a manner that, being men, and only men, they are now paying the penalty for what they did. What would he said if I were sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for my breaches of order in this august Senate? I know the feelings of natural men, and I say that every minute these men are detained in gaol is an injury to the Navy, an injury to real discipline, an injury to Australia, and an injury to Great Britain. I do ask the Government to act promptly, and remove this injury, which is creating a feeling that is a great deal more widespread than Ministers think. The Government would have been well-advisedif they had released these men two months ago.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Trade and Customs.
Proposed vote (Divisions 100 to 114), £155,382.
– I notice that under the heading of Quarantine the salaries in the case of Tasmania are put down at £12, and that nothing is provided for contingencies. What is the explanation? Is it that the sums usually paid under these headings in Tasmania are very low ? ‘ During the present year I have had complaints as to remuneration paid to health officers for attending to passengers travelling between the States when the influenza restrictions were in operation: It seems to me that £12 for a quarter of the year for salaries is small.
– The explanation is very simple. When the last Supply Bill was before us the in fluenza epidemic was raging, and, in anticipation, we voted more money than was ultimately required. The surplus will be usedwith the amount now provided.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Works and Railways.
Proposed vote (Divisions 115 to 126), £147,595.
– I have a complaint to lay before the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen). I am a boilermaker, and I have belonged to the Boilermakers Union for forty-five years. Of the members of that union thirtyeight have made the supreme sacrifice at the Front, and we have to pay 100 others who returned crippled. The complaint I have to make is that the Department of Works and Railways has treated two members of. the Boilermakers Union in a despicable manner. I shall give the name of one of the men’, because he has shaken the dirt of Government employ off his feet; but as to the other I do not know whether or not he is still in the employment of the Government, and I shall supply the name privately. One of these men is W. E. Brighton, who was in the employment of the Government as a boiler inspector at Maryborough, Queensland. While at Maryborough he enlisted, and his wife and two children lived on his soldier’s pay while he was at the Front. When he returned to Australia he found that his job had been given to a younger man, whom the Department refused to displace, offering. Brighton a job at Port Augusta. Brighton was taken across to Port Augusta, and given employment at 8s. or 10s. per week less than he had previously received, and the other and younger man, who did not volunteer, still has the job at Maryborough. With the assistance of Senator O’Loghlin, who represents South Australia, where the transcontinental railway shops are, I brought this case under the notice of the Railway Commissioner; and we thought all would be put right, until I saw Mr. Brighton when on his way to Sydney, he having left the Government employ in disgust at his’ damnable and disgraceful treatment. It is a cruel injustice that a returned soldier should be thrown out of his job by the very people by whom he was asked to go and fight. He was quite willing to enlist and leave his wife and children to live on his allowance. He is now working at the Clyde Works in New South Wales, starting life again in private employment. I make this complaint openly and publicly, and do not care who hears it. The other man also volunteered for the Front, and when he returned he was refused his former job on the ground that he had resigned it before he went away. It is true that he did resign, but it was in order to go away as a soldier. Some paltry accusation was made against his private character ; but when I saw him he appeared respectable enough, and I do not believe the accusation to be true. He is a widower with two .children, who are being brought up quite respectably.
I have not heard one word of reply to my complaints of the treatment meted out to members of my union in the Navy, although I gave the Minister a week to think about it; and such treatment of men can only be described as scandalous and disgraceful.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [2.26 a.m.]. - I should like to say a word or two in confirmation of the complaint which Senator McDougall has laid before the Committee. I remember that honorable senator speaking to me about the matter, and my going to the Railway Commissioner in regard to it. The Commissioner promised that the following week, when he was going to Port Augusta, he would make inquiries. He was apparently sympathetic so far as regards Brighton, but made certain allegations against the other man, which, according to what Senator McDougall saw, were not justifiable. I got a letter from Brighton subsequently, saying that some concessions had been made, and 1 was surprised to hear he had thrown up his billet in disgust, and gone into private employment, evidently not satisfied with the arrangements of the Commissioner. From what I can understand, he is a first-class workman; indeed, that is shown by the fact that he was an “ inspector. He had a good position when he left for the Front, but it was given to another man, apparently. eligible. As to the second boilermaker, I understand that nothing was done to redress his grievances. The Government took the point that he had resigned before he enlisted, and by doing so had forfeited certain privileges. That was most paltry, seeing that the man had left to enlist. I have not heard of that man recently, but I understand he has applied for a position at Kalgoorlie, where his children are, and I hope he has got it.
– Two items have reference to the working expenses of the KalgoorliePort Augusta. Railway, and the DarwinKatherine River railway. Is an annual report furnished as to the operations of those lines either separately or in conjunction? As to the Commonwealth Railways generally, when was the report for the la6t financial year, ending on the 30th June last, made available, or., if it has not yet been made available, when will it be?
Another item, in regard tq which I desire some information is the £330 for the storage and seasoning of timber. The policy of storing timber for Commonwealth requirements was inaugurated some years ago, when I was Minister for Home- Affairs, and a considerable quantity was accumulated. Some of it was taken to Canberra. I understand that a portion was used in the first lot of rifles turned out by the Commonwealth factory, and other portions were used for other Commonwealth purposes. I am not quite certain whether some of the timber was other- . wise disposed of or not. I shall be glad if the Minister can give me some information as to the amount of the annual expenditure under this heading. If £330 represents only one-fourth of the amount proposed to be applied this vear, it appears to me to be very insignificant. I should like the Minister also to give us some information as to the stocks of timber now on hand for Commonwealth purposes as a result of the policy I have Tefferred to
Senator RUSSELL (Victoria- Vice-
President of the Executive Council and Acting Minister for Defence) [2.33 a.m.]. - I believe the amount spent last year was £1,000.
– It is not enough.
– Probably it was . not, but most of this work was suspended during war time, and it is probable that the amount covers- only the wages of employees. . At present, I understand, stocks are not being purchased, but this does not necessarily mean an abandonment of the policy. In* regard to the question raised concerning the Port Augusta-Kalgoorlie and Northern Territory railways. I mav state that the reports are presented annually.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote (Divisions 127 to 136), £1,234,300.
– I have been waiting for some time to say a few words concerning this Department, but it is not my intention to unduly delay the Senate. The matter I am going to refer to has, I understand, also come under the notice of Senator Newland, and, I believe, of Senator Thomas. It appears that the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Webster), in one of his occasional brain waves, has decided to make an experiment in price- fixing with a view to demonstrating that this policy will not satisfactorily deal with the evil of profiteering. He has decided to reduce the commission on the sale of stamps from 6d. to something which works out at a little more than 2d. on every £1 worth of stamps sold. I believe also that the Postmaster-General is quite jubilant about his figures in connexion with this matter, because this policy, as I have said, is to be an object lesson demonstrating the failure of pricefixing in relation to profiteering. Under the former rate of postage, a commission of 6d. meant the sale of 240 stamps, and on the present rate, lid., the commission of 2$d. will mean the sale of only 160 stamps. Evidently, the retailer is to receive less for his lightened labour. His price-fixing scheme will, I understand, demonstrate that stamps will be just as costly as ever, and it will not be possible for any retailer to earn more than 12s. per week bv the sale of stamps. I do not know whether this is the Government’s one and only attempt to deal with profiteering, but I believe that the PostmasterGeneral is. still the most progressive member of the Cabinet.
There is another and very serious matter, namely, the treatment of postal employees, to which I desire now to draw attention. I cannot understand why a man of the Postmaster-General’s experience, a man who knows the conditions under which the employees of the Department work, being so misguided- as to believe that if he can show a balance on the right side of the ledger it is necessarily evidence that his Department is working satisfactorily. I wish to call particular attention to his treatment of the temporary employees. I have seen a statement made by Mr. Webster within the last few weeks to the effect that the Department is now able to get through a certain amount of work with fewer hands than was the case before the war, and I want to show what he is doing. The following facts were brought under my notice in a communication from the Letter Carriers’ Association as affecting a number of temporary assistants in the mail branch of “the General Post Office, Sydney -
In 1914 an examination was held for assistant, mail branch, at which examination the men concerned qualified, the decision of the Cabinet that no appointments were to he made during the course of the war prevented them being appointed to the permanent staff. However, they were employed as temporary (exempt) employees, assistant, mail branch, and have been so employed for the past four years, during which time they became proficient in the work, and were retained because of the experience and knowledge of sorting, which was obtained by constant study and practical work. The Superintendent of Mails has certified from time to time to the Commissioner,’ pointing out that the services of these men should be retained because of experience in the work. However, we now find that for some reason or other their services are being dispensed with, and they are being put off at a time when -:the labour market is stagnant and unemployment operates to a great extent. Moreover, they were told from time to time they could eventually look for permanency because of their’ experience in the work.
The association would, therefore, be pleased to know if something cannot be done to retain these men. From a practical point of view the Department will be putting off trained men when the Service warrants the employment of experienced workmen. Now the war is over, things are sure eventually to warrant the work of the Department meeting the requirements of the public, and such requirement cannot be successfully met unless trained men are employed. Again, when a large number of trained men are withdrawn and places filled by inexperienced officers, work is retarded, because of the fact of those who have a knowledge are obstructed in their work to a certain extent in guiding the new men to the work.
That is a real grievance. I happened to be a member of the Government that made the promise to these men, that if they passed their examinations and proved their efficiency they would eventually receive their appointments, which could not then be made owing to a regulation preventing permanency being given to new employees during the term of the war. The time is more than ripe now for these men to receive their appointments instead of being turned adrift. The promise made by the Fisher Govern- ment should be kept. It is not wise on the part of a great and growing Department like that of the Postmaster-General to do otherwise, because it is probable that Australia will develop rapidly during the next few years, and nothing can be gained by turning . efficient men adrift to-day and putting on inefficient men tomorrow. I urge the Minister representing the Postmaster-General to put this matter strongly before that Minister, because this dissatisfaction which exists amongst such a large section of the employees is marring the efficiency of the Department. They fmd themselves hampered at every turn, and are not receiving the treatment that any decent employer would give to his employees. It will be remembered that owing to a mix-up, the newspapers published a statement that Anzac Day would be a holiday for returned soldiers, and some men in the Department who had been marked out for certain work, accepting the newspaper statement - and others who said that they would not work on Gallipoli Day in any case - found themselves discharged. They were afterwards reinstated, but not before they had signed a written statement in which they acknowledged themselves to have been in the wrong, and promised, like good boys, not to’ do it again. Some highspirited men would not sign that written confession, and did not get their employment back again.
– Were they temporary hands?
– I think they were.. I am showing the miserable pinpricks inflicted on them. That may be the Postmaster-General’s way of doing things, but I do not think it is good business. The interval’ for which these nien were out was ten days or more, and for that reason they lost the holidays to which they were entitled after being twelve or fifteen months in continuous service. . It was held that they had not been continuously employed. That kind of thing is not much in itself, but it leads to industrial troubles, and when a strike comes, with all its consequences, an attempt is made to show that the men have come out for some trivial cause. It is the continual little pin-pricks that do the mischief. It is absurd to treat men who have been fighting for us as if they were children. It is not the kind of thing that we should expect from a Minis- ter, and particularly from Mr. Webster. A great business concern like the Post Office , must have efficient business management and discipline ; but in the circumstances of that case I am convinced that the men were not in the wrong, and they should not have been asked to put on record in the Department an admission that they were wrong. This is only a sample of what is happening throughout the Department. There is discontent and dissatisfaction everywhere. .
Another, cause of trouble is the amount allowed to ‘employees who are compelled to use horses for postal business. When the fodder allowance was fixed, chaff in Sydney was about £8 per ton, but since then it has gone up to £15 or £16 a ton wholesale, and corn is about 8s. a bushel. The result is that these men are losing their own good money in order to feed their horses to do the Government’s work. The Government should act promptly in this matter.. A horse cannot do a continuous round of 15 or 20 miles every day unless he is well fed, and it is not possible to buy anything like the same amount of fodder to-day for the money as it was in 1918, when the allowance was fixed. Some time ago, when the drought caused an” enormous increase in the price of fodder, the Government promptly made an allowance. to private mail contractors to enable them to carry out their contracts. Surely the Government do not want their own employees to be .treated any worse than those private contractors were treated. I am speaking particularly of the letter-carriers.
– The PostmasterGeneral is considering the case of the contractors now.
– The case of these employees ought to be decided without consideration, as it is such a clear case.
– Are they responsible for feeding their own horses?
– I believe so, and they are given a fixed sum yearly as an allowance. The price of horse feed in New South Wales has practically doubled since last year. I urge the Minister representing the Postmaster-General to have this matter dealt with promptly in order to make the men feel that those at the head of affairs are interested in their business, and want ib done efficiently, without trying to save 2s. or 3s. .at the expense of Post Office employees, whose wage is barely sufficient to live on with the present high cost of living.
– I protest against the action of the Postmaster-General in curtailing some of the necessaries of civilization which the people in far-back districts have hitherto enjoyed. Mr. Webster has for some time boasted that he is the one Minister who has been able to show a big saving on his Department. He never loses an opportunity of taking credit to himself for having effected great savings since he took charge. If he can effect savings without unnecessarily, harshly, or improperly curtailing postal and telephonic facilities to which citizens have been accustomed, particularly people who are situated far away from the centres of civilization, he is justified in doing so. But within the past few months I have brought under the notice of the Department several cases of hardship inflicted upon people in the back-blocks owing to the curtailment of mail, and telegraphic, and telephonic facilities. Mr. Webster seems to have gone mad on retrenchment which has not been the right kind of retrenchment. Since he has devoted a portion of his time to writing poetry he has lost some of that business aptitude which he appeared to bring to bear upon his duties when he first became Postmaster-General. Mr. Webster would be a better administrator if he spent less of his time in writing verse and sending it all over Australia. He would do better work if he refrained from making piteous appeals to the newspapers to cease from criticising him. He recently pleaded with the press to cease from criticism, otherwise he would be driven to an early grave. He expressed the hope that he would receive’ better treatment from the Great Judge, at some time in the future, than he is to-day receiving at the hands of his critics. Mr. Webster during the last few months seems to have gone mad on what he regards as economy. There are two kinds of economy. There is the true method of saving money and reducing unnecessary expenditure, and there is that petty system of making small ledger savings by inflicting unnecessary hardships upon some of the people. Residents outback are greatly dependent on postal, and telegraphic, and telephonic facilities.
It is a pity that criticism of many of the items covered by the schedule should have been curtailed. Honorable senators have not felt inclined to give great attention to matters calling for discussion and inquiry in view of the circumstances in which we are now placed. We know that we must deal with this Bill in a very few hours, because public servants are waiting for their pay.
-. - More time has been provided for discussion upon this Supply Bill than in regard to any other such measure for years past. No one is curtailing the honorable senator now.
– No, but one feels inclined to curtail his own activities at this hour of the morning. It is only because we are working in the small hours, when one can scarcely be expected to apply one’s self zealously to legislative duties, that Ministers and their Departments have escaped considerable criticism. I trust that the Minister representing the Postmaster-General will impress upon his colleague the necessity for ceasing from writing poetry and for giving a little more study to the requirements of thousands of people in the back country who, in the past few months, have found their rights and privileges more and more reduced in order that Mr. Webster may pose as the Simon Pure of the Government - as. the great economist of the Ministry.
– I take it that the sum of £1,000 set down in the schedule in respect of the Postal Institute is one-fourth of What is to be applied during the current financial year. Does that amount provide solely for the Postal Institute in: Melbourne? When the idea of establishing an Institute was mooted I inquired whether it w.as intended to build only the one institution for the whole of the Commonwealth; and, if such were the case, whether that Institute was to be in Melbourne or Sydney, or elsewhere. The Postal Institute may have very many merits. I was present at the’ opening of the Melbourne institution, and was made acquainted with some of the advantages claimed for it. If the Postal Institute is justified, its advantages should not be confined to officers of the Department within the city of Melbourne. Senator O’Keefe has referred to the disadvantages under which coun- try residents labour with respect to the postal, telegraphic, and telephonic services. “ There are officers in the Department of the Postmaster-General who, for practically the whole of their lives, have been stationed in country post-offices. Every year they see less and less prospect of being transferred to larger centres. They are for all time denied opportunities of taking advantage of the Postal Institute. If the Institute is to be confined to Victoria, and is not to be extended beyond the limits of Melbourne, the whole of the postal officers in all of the other States, and even in the larger city of Sydney, will be deprived of its advantages. Is it because the PostmasterGeneral’s Department is for the present located in Melbourne that the institution has been erected here? If, and when, Mr. Webster removes, with the rest of the Commonwealth departmental officers and machinery, to Canberra - or wherever the Federal Capital may eventually be - will the Postal Institute be erected at the Federal Capital, or will it remain in one of the large State capitals? The Parliament should be given much more information upon the policy respecting Postal Institutes. If there is any class of postal officers who are entitled to the benefits of a Postal Institute, they are the country officials. They have to bear discomforts and privations which city officers know nothing about. In the capital cities, and in other large centres of Australia, numerous opportunities are afforded for recreation, instruction, amusement, mutual improvement, and those other advantages which are to be had at the Postal Institute. Residents of country districts, whether they are in the service of the Department or not, are unable to take advantage of institutions of this character. If such institutes are desirable in connexion with the Postal Department, the officers primarily entitled to participate in their benefits are those who in very many instances, at great sacrifice to .themselves, are carrying on the work of the Department in the less populous centres. ‘
– The honorable senator could justify the establishment of a University in every village on that argument.
– My point is that in all our large cities there are numerous institutions offering advantages corresponding with those which the Postal Institute affords. It seems to me that in this’ particular instance we are again coddling the residents of our cities at the expense and to the great disadvantages of postal employees and other residents of country districts. .If any preference is to be given it should be extended to country residents. They should be encouraged to avail themselves as much as possible of telephonic communication. Their comparative isolation and sense of loneliness would thus be to some extent, broken down. I do not feel justified in supporting an institution of this character if it is to be confined to Melbourne. I should at least like it to be established in all large centres of population, and so functioning that postal employees in the more remote districts of the Commonwealth might participate in its benefits. I see no reason why the Postal Institute, if there is to be only one, should be located here merely because Melbourne is the temporary seat of Government.
– We might reasonably ask for one in each State capital.
– Exactly. If it is because of the size and importance of Melbourne that the Institute has been established here, then I should say that a mistake has been made, and that the Institute should be located in Sydney, which is a larger centre of population, and is as important as Melbourne. I ask the Minister for a statement as to what is the ultimate policy of the Department in this respect.
; - I desire to refer briefly to the position of Commonwealth public officers, and particularly officers of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in Northern Queensland. I have been in communication with public servants stationed there, and it has been pointed out to me on a number of occasions that they labour under many disabilities as compared with their more fortunate brethren in. the south of Queensland. There are distinct awards applying to State public servants in the north, the centre,” and the south of Queensland, but Commonwealth public servants in Townsville and north of that city receive only a few pounds by way of bonus over and above the salaries paid to officers of the same class in the south. These, men, who are working in the tropics where conditions of employment are more unfavorable, and where the cost of living is very much higher than in the south, have, a far greater struggle to make ends meet than their more fortunate fellow servants in Brisbane and the southern parts of the’ State. I hope the Minister representing the Postmaster-General will urge upon his colleagues the desirableness of doing something for these- men. At this early hour of the morning I shall not delay the Committee at any length, but I wish again to refer to the position of employees under the system of preference to unionists which- exists in the Post and Telegraph Department. These officers, under an award of the Arbitration Court, must be members of the union. I do not object to that requirement, but my complaint is that if a man does not belong to the union he loses a certain measure of seniority. During the conscription referendum certain anti-conscriptionist levies were struck by the union, and under the award of the Court the men were compelled to pay .them whether they approved of them or hot. They were also compelled to subsidize the Labour Daily Standard, -which is published in Brisbane. If, rather ‘than pay an anti-conscription levy, they left their union, they suffered, a loss of seniority. In making these observations I am not opposing trade Unionism. I have never done so, because I believe it to be a good thing; but I do not think these officers should be victimized in this way under the present Arbitration law. I have brought this matter forward on two or three previous occasions without obtaining any satisfactory result. I ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral to give it his serious consideration.
– I have listened with attention to the remarks made by Senator Gardiner. We recognise that the price of fodder, in certain parts of the Commonwealth which have been visited by the drought is exceptionally high. I shall give my personal attention ‘to the matter to which the honorable senator has referred, and will commend it to the sympathetic consideration of ray colleague the Postmaster-General. As to the inquiry made by Senator Keating, I speak without my book, but, speaking generally, I think it is the desire of the Postmaster-General that a Postal Institute should ‘ be established in each State centre. There can be no ‘ doubt that such institutions, well conducted, are of immense value to the men, and are productive of improved work that well repays the Department. Similar institutions, such as the Victorian Railway Institute, have done remarkably good work. The authorities speak highly of the wonderful work done by the Victorian Railways Institute and. the improvement shown in the work of the staff as the result of the special training received through its agency. I do not know that it is intended to establish postal institutes in the smaller country towns, but a central institute in each State would be of great benefit to employees in country districts if a properly managed correspondence system of instruction were established.
– The Department could get over the difficulty by transferring some of the men from the country to the town offices and shifting town employees into country districts.
– That is always going on.
– But not to a sufficient extent.
– It is always going on to a considerable extent. The Postmaster-General, following on. lines laid down by’ others who have preceded him, is enthusiastically in favour of postal institutes. But one can quite understand that, during the experimental stage, he desires that the Institute shall be established at the Seat of Government, with a view to its future extension to all the State capitals. Concerning the remarks of Senator Foll, I have no doubt the question raised by him has been considered by the Public Service Commissioner for several years past. I know perfectly well that that officer has investigated the grievances of public servants from all parts of Australia. However, I shall bring the remarks of the honorable senator under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral, with a request that the matter to which he has directed attention shall be again reconsidered.
– I desire to know whether, in making representations to the Post- master-General in regard to the forage allowance mentioned by Senator Gardiner, the Minister will suggest that a certain quantity of fodder shall be supplied by the Department rather than a lump sum of money.
– I will put the honorable senator’s suggestion before him for sympathetic consideration.
– The real trouble is that the price of fodder fluctuates so much that the men are quite unable to supply the requisite forage for their horses. But if the Department could furnish them with the requisite quantity of fodder instead of with a specific sum of money the difficulty would be met.
Proposed vote agreed to. “War Services.
Proposed vote (Divisions 138 to 144), £2,639,000.
– Some time ago a discussion took place in this chamber regarding the acquisition of land at Bexley, New South Wales, and the acceptance ‘or otherwise of the offer by Mr. Browne, of Lithgow, of a piece of land upon which soldiers’ homes should be erected. I ask the Minister what decisions have been arrived at in these matters.
– I am not in a position to answer the honorable senator’s questions. As honorable senators are aware, the War Service Homes Bill is under the administration of a Commissioner, and the only means I have of obtaining information as to the activities of that Department is by an application to it. If Senator Grant will leave the matter in my hands I will undertake between now and the next meeting of the ‘Senate to get for him the information which he desires.
– I would like respectfully to submit to the Government a policy which might be adopted with advantage in regard to trading vessels owned by the Commonwealth. During the war period the tendency has been to send these vessels, wherever they could earn the highest freights. I think that the future policy of the Government should be to utilize those vessels more for the purpose of taking away our exports. There are many disabilities under which our exporters are now labouring. A freight war is in progress in connexion with trade to the Dutch East Indies, and although goods can be taken there for £2 or £3 per ton, until quite recently the Shipping Ring, which has such an octopus grip upon some of the trading centres to which Australia exports, charged from £7 to £9 per ton from Australia to India, notwithstanding that their charge from London to .India was less than £3 per ton. It must be perfectly obvious that if the Freight Ring is inflicting this disability upon Australian exports in favour of British imports, our exports will be handicapped to the extent of up to £6- per ton. The attention of the Government should be concentrated upon disabilities of that character. If such disabilities exist to the extent that I have indicated, the proper course would be to divert some of the Commonwealth-owned vessels in the direction of our rapidly increasing markets, and thus put our own exporters under the same freight condiditions . as their English competitors. Our future prosperity must be largely dependent upon the goods we can sell outside of Australia; and I am, therefore, heartily in accord with the policy of the Government in developing a mercantile fleet of our own, in order that we may be free of the ramifications of the Shipping Ring overseas. If effect be given to my suggestion, Australia will certainly be benefited, and some considerable assistance will be given to our exporters should the existing freight handicaps continue.
. -I will see that the honorable senator’s suggestion is placed before the Prime Minister’s Department and the Controller of Shipping. I am pleased to know that Senator Pratten is favorably disposed to the policy of the Government in the matter of developing our own shipping facilities. May I take this opportunity of expressing an idea, -which I believe will receive sympathetic consideration, even at twenty minutes past 3 o’clock in the morning. In scrutinizing this Bill, in common with other Supply Bills, honorable senators must have noticed the great disabilities under which Ministers in this Chamber are placed in their endeavours to supply information on matters of which they know nothing. It. is not our ‘ fault ; it is the fault of circumstances which decree that, although there are many Departments, the Ministers in the Senate are few. The idea I wish honorable senators, to consider is whether we could not alter our system and enable the Minister in charge of a Department tn be in the Senate when his Estimates are being considered. All that Senator Russell and I can do when information is sought - in connexion with any Department with which we are not connected is to gain, in a hurried way, some scanty information from an official who may not be the officer with a particular knowledge of the matter about which the inquiry is made. If the Minister in charge of the Department could be allowed to be in the Senate to supply information asked for, he could give it in a more ample way than we can pretend to do, and much more readily.
– A few weeks ago the Government placed before us a rather ambitious programme, which made reference to their intention to continue in the shipping trade, not only between Australia and the outside world, but also between the various States. “Without ships, Tasmania is absolutely cut off from the mainland. The very life of the State depends upon shipping, and it is the duty of the Commonwealth Government to provide shipping facilities for it.’’ Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending an interview Tasmanian members had with the gentleman who is acting as Deputy Comptroller of Shipping in Melbourne - the Melbourne manager of the Union Steamship Company. “We were received with the utmost courtesy, and this gentleman promised to do anything he could for us; but it struck me that he held a rather anomalous position, which made it almost impossible for him to consider the shipping interests of the people of a State, and at the same time have regard for the interests of the company with which he is connected. The people of Tasmania wanted a ship immediately to remove a lot of perishable produce to the Sydney and Melbourne markets. If the produce could not be got away rapidly it would be a dead loss to the producers, and part of their year’s labour would have gone for nothing. However, this is a difficulty we have encountered in Tasmania during the last few months owing to various causes, which are now diminishing. The quarantine regulations and the shipping strike have created serious difficulties, and the people of the State are still faced with the absence of shipping facilities. “When the Commonwealth became purchasers of vessels, I was under the impression that the purchase was primarily in the in- terests of the people of Australia. It would be a good thing if some of these trading vessels were retained in the inter state trade, and devoted to providing facilities for at least one State which depends entirely on shipping for its communication with other parts of the Commonwealth. The. difficulties of the people of Tasmania are growing week by week. We are always up against private ownership, but that difficulty should not stand in the way of Tasmania, seeing that the Commonwealth owns a line of ships.
– Under the Australian Soldiers Repatriation- Act it is impossible for a returned soldier to be granted an advance to commence business unless he was, prior to his enlistment, engaged in business on his own account. Nevertheless, I ask the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) to deal with applications for such advances on their merits, and not to make it a hard-and-fast rule to turn down the application of every member of the Australian Imperial Force who is desirous of starting in business, but was not, probably through no fault of his own, in a business prior to enlistment. There are many men who are willing to put up some of their own money. They may have saved it out of their pay. I put forward the suggestion that the Government could very well go to the expense of subsidizing pound for pound any man who was willing to put up his own money for the purpose of establishing himself in business. During the early part of to-day’s proceedings, Senator O’Keefe pointed out the disabilities of the Government shutting off the purchase of homes already erected, but I sincerely hope that the Department will’ persevere in that attitude, and seek, if possible, to build new houses. Speaking on the second reading of the War Service Homes Bill, I said that I looked upon the measure as one that would deal with the housing problem.
– I agree with the honorable senator on general principles, but there are cases in which it is necessary to’ purchase houses already built.
– I am not disagreeing with the honorable senator, but, at the same time, I hope that the Government will stick to their attitude, and not purchase houses already erected. When the War Service Homes Bill was passed, some unscrupulous agents swooped down on returned soldiers like hawks, took depositsfrom them, and said, “ If you pay us £50, the Repatriation Department will pay the rest.” One agent told me that she had twelve or thirteen deposits, and asked- me what was the best thing she could do in the circumstances. I told her that the best thing she could do was to return the deposits as quickly as possible. I hope that the . Government will see that, in the matter of the purchase of homes, these people are not placed in the position of being able to take an unfair advantage of returned soldiers.
– There are two points raised by Senator Fell to which I wish to make brief reference. Although it is the policy of the Department to build rather than to buy, there is no absolute prohibition against purchasing. Everything is done to encourage building, but there are certain circumstances under which it is necessary to sanction buying. A number of purchases have been turned down by the Department, because the bank valuers are convinced that even if the house sought to be purchased represented the approximate value which the purchaser desired to borrow from the bank, the Department could build a much better house for the game amount. When a house is built it is quite a presentable . cottage for twenty-five or thirty yers, whereas there is considerable depreciation in value within ten or fifteen years in a purchased residence. Under these circumstances, the general policy is to encourage building rather than purchasing.
Senator Foll also referred to starting soldiers in business. No single feature of repatriation work has been given greater attention by the Commissioner or by myself, and it has been our endeavour to find a solution of this very difficult problem. . Honorable senators will realize that ‘-‘difficulties are encountered when an effort is made to select men for certain privileges. It is easy for individuals to discriminate, but it is difficult for a Government Department to do so. If we were to lay down the principle that any soldier, because of some merits he possesses; should be financed in the purchase of a business, it would mean, in effect, that every soldier should have that privilege.
– Not necessarily.
– Who is going to make a selection?
– The Local Committees. That is what they are appointed for.
– That would throw upon a committee the responsibility of turning down a local boy, and of saying that Private Jones should be started in business and Private Smith should not. Our experiences have forced us to the conviction that if all returned soldiers are to be financed in business undertakings, nine out of every ten will want to go into business instead of seeking employment in the ordinary way. Every one likes to be his own master, and every one thinks he can run a business. When we consider that we have to deal with 100,000 soldiers, we can see that by advancing £150 to each we should incur an expenditure of £15,000,000. It is difficult to say who shall be eligible and who shall not. Where are we going to draw the line! By what classification are we going to decide which soldier shall be eligible and which shall not? The Repatriation Commissioner has taken the view that an effort should be made to place every returned man in his pre-war occupation, and the Department will help him to be maintained until he is so placed. If he. has been in business before, they will endeavour to re-start him. No distinction can be made between the man who has money and the man who has not. As a business proposition, it would be infinitely better to advance money to the man who had some of his own, but the matter cannot be regarded in that light, because the Department, instead of being a Repatriation Department, would then become a banker. Of two soldiers, one may be a single man without dependants, who has been able to save his earnings and to come back with- a credit of, say, £100. If Senator Foil’s suggestions were adopted the .Department would be asked to subsidize that man with another £100. The other soldier, who went away at the same time, may have dependants at home, aud been called upon to support two or three members of the family. On that account he would have been unable to save any money, and consequently could sot take advantage of the proposition - suggested by Senator Foll. It is impossible to draw a. clear line of demarcation, but under the -arrangements supported by Senator Foll the Repatriation Department would become a banker, and would be advancing money to men who had money, and turning down those who had not any. The experiment of starting men in. business was tried for two and a half or three years, and was first introduced by the State War Council.
– There was not much discretion used in those days.
– Quite so, and 80 per cent, of the men. who started failed. That not only involved the loss of money, but left many men after fifteen months’ work absolutely disheartened. Even today, under a conservative policy, and with a number of inspectors to watch, nurse, encourage, and advise these men, we find that the percentage of those who are unable to keep their obligations is in the neighbourhood of 60.’ I feel that we ought to go slow before we extend our present methods of assisting returned soldiers.. I know it is possible to find hard cases, but wherever we draw the line there will be a hard case behind it. I know that many soldiers will be disappointed, and that their friends will think we have treated them unfairly; but, in view of the facts given, and of the expenditure involved-, it is wise at present to leave the regulation .relating to businesses in its present form.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 34 (Refunds of Revenue), £.190,000; Division 35 (Advance to. Treasurer), £850,000, agreed to.
Schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without request; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator MILLEN ) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday next.
Senate adjourned at 3.39 a.m. (Friday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 September 1919, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1919/19190918_senate_7_89/>.