8th Parliament · 1st Session
The Senate met at 10.30 a.m., pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General, and the President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair.
The Clerk read the proclamation.
The Deputies appointed by His Excellency the Governor-General for the opening of Parliament, the Honorable Adrian Knox, C.M.G., Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, and the Honorable Isaac -Alfred Isaacs, a Justice of the High Court of Australia, having been announced by the Usher of the Black Rod, entered the chamber and took -their seats on the dais.
The Senior Deputy directed the Usher to desire the attendance of the members of the House of Representatives, who being come,
The SENIOR DEPUTY said-
Gentlemen of the Senate and Gentlemen op the House of Representatives :
His Excellency the Governor-General, not thinking fit to be present in person at this time, has been pleased to cause letters patent to issue under the Great Seal of the Commonwealth constituting us his
Deputies to do in his name all that is necessary to be performed in declaring this Parliament open, as will more fully appear from the letters patent which will now be read.
The letters patent having been read by the Clerk, “ The SENIOR DEPUTY said-
Gentlemen of the Senate and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives :
We have it in command from the Governor-General to let you know that as soon as the members of the House of Representatives shall have been sworn, the causes of His Excellency calling this Parliament will be declared by him in person at this place; and it being necessary that a Speaker of the House of Representatives shall be first chosen, you, Gentlemen of the House of Representatives, will retire to the place where you are to sit and there proceed to the choice of some proper person to be your Speaker ; and thereafter you will present the person whom you shall so choose to His Excellency, at such time and place as he shall appoint.
His Honour Mr. Justice Isaacs will attend in the House of -Representatives for the purpose of administering the> oath, or affirmation, of allegiance to the honorable members of that House.
The Deputies, and the members of the House of Representatives having retire J
Tie PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon.
Sitting impended from 10.^.5 a.m. to S p.m.
The Senate having resumed,
His Excellency the GovernorGeneral entered the Chamber and took the chair. A -message was forwarded to the House of Representatives intimating that His Excellency desired the attendance of honorable members in the Senate Chamber forthwith, who, being come with their Speaker,
HIS EXCELLENCY was pleased to deliver the following speech : -
You .have been summoned to deal with matters of urgency and importance to the people of Australia.
The state of war with Germany was happily .brought to an end on 10th January by the final ratification of the Treaty of Peace.
Simultaneously with the ratification the League of Nations was created. The establishment of the League heralds a new era in international relations, and symbolizes a new spirit in the treatment of international questions. It creates machinery whereby peace and justice may become more widely effective, and military force and military ambition be restrained.
The early decision of the United States of America to share in the responsibilities of the League is earnestly hoped for.
The mandate to the Commonwealth to administer the territories in the Pacific, south of the equator, captured by Australian naval and military forces, has been, delayed by the postponement of the ratification of the treaty with Germany, but its early issue is. expected, and my Ministers will introduce legislation providing for the adoption and operation of the mandate.
It is a matter for great gratification to .the Government, a sentiment which I am sure is general throughout the community, that arrangements have been made for His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to visit the Commonwealth in May next.
In the name of the people of Australia, I give His Royal Highness the assurance of .a joyous .and loyal welcome.
The revenue of the current financial year is satisfactory, and the expenditure of the Public Services is proceeding with due regard to economy.
Despite the inevitable dislocation of transport and commerce caused by the war, and the unhappy influence of the drought, production and enterprise within the Commonwealth are vigorous.
Though fighting has ceased, much money is still needed to meet obligations arising out of the war. The loan moneys in hand suffice for immediate requirements, but the Government will be obliged to give early consideration to the question of raising additional loan funds.
Conditions following upon the war make it desirable that the usefulness of the Commonwealth Bank .shall be extended, and’ proposals to effect this will be submitted for your approval.
The great increase in the price of silver bullion and other post-war circumstances render it necessary to reduce the fineness of our silver coinage and to issue notes of smaller denomination. The requisite authority for these changes will be embodied in measures which will be brought before you.
It is the intention, of my Advisers to appoint at an early date a Royal Commission, to consider the whole incidence of Commonwealth taxation.
My Ministers have devoted much attention to a revision of the existing Customs and Excise Tariffs,, and measures calculated to stabilize and extend the industries of Australia will be laid before you.
Problems for the future defence of Australia are receiving the earnest consideration of my Advisers, and proposals suggested by the experience of war and by the new international situation will, in due course, be submitted for your consideration.
I record with pleasure the visit to Australia of General Sir William Birdwood, Bart., G.C.M.G., K.C.B., K.C.S.I., CLE., D.S.O., who commanded the Australian Forces with such distinction throughout the war.
My Ministers will invite Parliament to express the thanks of the people of the Commonwealth to the Navy and Army for their splendid services in the great war.
In order to encourage aviation, .the Government offered a prize of £10,000 for a flight, in a machine manned by Australians, from Great Britain to Australia in thirty days.
The people of Australia hail with admiration and pride the magnificent achievement of Captain Sir Ross Smith and his gallant comrades-.. They have added fresh lustre to the name of Australia, and have written an indelible page not only in our history, but in that of the Empire and of civilization.
My Ministers are deeply impressed with the necessity of substantially increasing the population of the Commonwealth by the encouragement of suitable schemes of immigration, and your sanction of the proposals of the Government will be sought.
My Advisers deeply regret the defeat of the referendum proposals recently before. the people: They intend to introduce legislation to ‘authorize the sum moning of a Convention, representing- the people and the Parliaments of the Commonwealth and the States, for the revision of the National Constitution.
A Bill for the payment of a war gratuity to members of the Australian Expeditionary Force will be submitted for your early consideration.
It is also proposed to seek your acquiescence to a Bill to amend the Repatriation Act with a view to facilitating its administration by the co-ordination of departmental activities for the restoration of our1 soldiers and sailors to civil life.
Financial and business disorganization continues’ as a result of war, and the task of restoring normal conditions is great. There is a dearth of world products and shipping, with consequent dislocation of commerce and industry.
The Government policy is at the* earliest moment to divest itself of the present pools and controls,, and thus permit the trade of the Commonwealth, to revert to non-governmental channels, while affording the primary producers every possible assistance in extending the co-operative organization , of their important interests.
My Ministers are giving, careful consideration to proposals for worthily commemorating the illustrious deeds of the Australian Forces in the great war by the erection- of national memorials in Australia and in those lands where their efforts contributed so much to crown the Allied arms with victory.
My Ministers will introduce a. measure to amend the law relating to the- prevention and for the settlement of those industrial disputes which come within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth, and to give effect to the principle of a basic wage.
With the object of stimulating the steady development of the resources of the Commonwealth, the Government will seek authority for the prosecution, of a public works policy compatible with the financial position of the country.
My Advisers propose to invite the representatives of the States who are parties to the River Murray Waters agreement to confer with the Government of the Commonwealth with a view to expediting that great national work.
Now that the war is over, steps will bo taken to further the plan for the establishment of the Federal Capital.
It is proposed to appoint a Commission to reporton the stages to be followed, and the methods to be employed to develop the resources of the Federal Territory and reduce the financial burden upon the Commonwealth.
A Bill will be introduced providing for the better regulation and control of the Public Service.
Ministers propose to proceed with the Bill to constitute an Institute of Science and Industry.
Proposals for the co-ordination and further development of the ship-building industry will be laid before you.
It is proposed to introduce Bills dealing with the following matters: -
Commending your deliberations to the guidance of Divine Providence, I now leave you to the discharge of your high and honorable duties.
His Excellency the GovernorGeneral and the members of the House of Representatives having retired,
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3.20 p.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following Bills of last session reported: -
Nauru Island Agreement Act 1919.
Income Tax Act 1919.
Land Tax Act 1919.
Entertainments Tax Act 1919.
Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Act 1919-20.
Loan Act 1919.
Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act 1919.
Matrimonial Causes (Expeditionary Forces) Act 1919.
Sugar Industry Commission Act 1919.
Customs Tariff Validation Act 19 19.
Excise Tariff Validation Act 1919.
Tasmanian Loan Redemption Act 1919.
Treaty of Peace Act 1919.
Supply Act (No. 3) 1919-20.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act 1919.
Deceased Soldiers’ Estates Act 1919.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act 1919.
Loans Securities Act 1919.
Termination of the Present War (Definition) Act 1919.
Land Mining Shares and Shipping Act 1919.
War Service Homes Act 1919.
Commonwealth Electoral (War-time) Act 1919.
Legal Proceedings Control Act 1919.
Commonwealth Electoral Act 1919.
– I have also to announce the receipt of a message from the Governor-General, intimating that the Navigation Bill having been presented to His Excellency for the Royal assent, His Excellency has reserved the said Bill for the signification of His Majesty’s pleasure. A further message has since been received from His Excellency the Governor-General, intimating that the Navigation Bill 1919, which was reserved for thesignification of His Majesty’s pleasure, has been laid before His Majesty in Council, and His Majesty has, by an Order in Council, dated 25th November, 1919, given his assent to the proposed law. His Excellency has caused a proclamation to be published in the Government Gazette, dated 20th December, 1919, announcing His Majesty’s approval.
– I have to inform the Senate that, in reply to the resolution passed by this Chamber on the occasion of the death of the Right Honorable General Louis Botha, I have received from Mrs.
Botha a letter conveying her gratitude and that of her family for the sympathy of the Senate in their bereavement. I have also received a letter from the Prime Minister of South Africa expressing his gratitude, and that of his colleagues, for the sympathy of the Senate on the occasion of the death of the Right Honorable Louis Botha.
– I desire to announce that, consequent upon the resignations of the Honorable P. McM. Glynn and the Honorable “W. “Webster, who held the portfolios of Minister for Home and Territories and Postmaster-General respectively, His Excellency the Governor-General has been pleased to appoint the Honorable A. Poynton as Minister for Home and Territories, and the Honorable G. H. “Wise as Postmaster-General. His Excellency has also approved of the appointments of Major-General Sir Granville Ryrie and Mr. “W. H. Laird Smith as Honorary Ministers.
– I ask the leave of the Senate to submit a motion in connexion with the death of the late Sir Edmund Barton.
– I beg to submit for the consideration, and I feel satisfied the sympathetic assent, of this Chamber the following motion: -
That this Senate places on record its profound regret at the loss the Commonwealth has sustained in the death of the late Right Honorable Sir Edmund Barton, P.C., G-.C.M.G., and its sincere appreciation of the eminent public services rendered by him as a Minister of the Crown for the State of New South Wales, as a member of the Federal Convention, as first Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, and as a Judge of the High Court of Australia. This Senate tenders its deepest sympathy to Lady Barton and the members of her family in their bereavement.
In submitting this motion I would like to support it by a few brief references to the distinguished career of the deceased statesman. With the disappearance of
Sir Edmund Barton there passes away another of those strong outstanding personalities who, by their intellect, their patriotism, and their wide vision, did so much to shape and direct the constitutional history of Australia at a peculiar epoch in its national life. A native of Australia, Sir Edmund Barton, in the best sense of the word, loved his country, and from a very early period in his career set himself to work to serve it. He gave it his best, and how great was that best ? Even in his school days his giant intellect commenced to reveal itself, and. culminated in his attaining his Master of Arts degree with honours at the early age of 21 years at the University of Sydney. His outstanding abilities enabled him with marked rapidity and consummate ease to take a very prominent position in the public life of his State, in the service of which, with great distinction, he filled the position of Speaker in the Legislative Assembly for some years, and also that of Attorney-General in one of the Dibbs Governments. But with his great attainments he was not content to be confined to the mere field of party politics. A bigger and nobler ideal took possession of his mind, and that was the consummation of Australian Union. This called him to the inspiring task of nationhood, to the bringing about of that condition which was so well described in his own words - “ A continent for a nation and a nation for a continent.” His great labours as a prophet calling to the people, and later as a statesman and constitutional lawyer in the Federal Convention, helping to frame the Constitution Bill, and then promoting its later stages until it became law, and in so doing welding six separate States into one united nation, are well known. They are history, and they will live. In view of these labours, it was more than fitting that he should, be called to be the first Prime Minister of the Commonwealth. In the discharge of the duties of that office his great ability and sound judgment did much to smooth the difficulties inseparable from the transition from the old order to the new. As a member of the High Court his very wide constitutional knowledge enabled him to expound the Constitution he had so earnestly laboured to secure. As a man he stood endeared, to all by his personal qualities. Courteous and kindly, his sympathies, as deep as his knowledge was wide, made acquaintance with him count as a privilege. His death, therefore, stands as a personal as well as a national loss. Our own feelings bear ample witness to the former, whilst this motion willplace the latter upon record. A man big in every worthy respect has gone from us, and we record our loss and extend our heartfelt sympathy to his sorrowing relatives.
Senator GARDINER (New , South
Wales) [3.30]. - I second the motion, and join most sincerely with the Leader of the Government (Senator Millen) in the sentiments he has expressed. It was my privilege nearlytwenty-nine years ago to sit in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, in which the late Sir Edmund Barton, then at the height of his powers, was one of the chief figures. I, too, recall with pleasure as an Australian, his whole-hearted work and love for his own country I remember with pride and pleasure, although politically an opponent, how in the State in which his great influence was directed towards the bringing about of the Federal Union, he was endeared to the people. I like to think of him at his best as the electors in their exultation and excitement proclaimed him to be - Australia’s noblest son. As Senator Millen has said, he lives in history, and his life is interwoven with the bringing into existence of the Constitution that will for all time stand for the government of the free Australian people that he loved so well. We here recognise his great services first to his State in its Assembly as Speaker, a position that he adorned, and on the floor of the Assembly, and in the Government, and then again in that mighty task of moulding the Constitution which was to be the instrument of government for Australia. We Australians felt proud when we saw him chosen at the Convention as its Leader to take charge of the Bill, with so many giant intellects around him, and a multitude of little difficulties to be settled. We know that in public life it is sometimes the little things that need the most care and skill to handle. We look back with pleasure on Sir Edmund Barton’s statesmanship in charge of the measure at the Convention, and on his appointment to the distinguished position as Prime Minister of Australia inthe first Parlia ment. We then saw him translated to the High Court Bench, and now he has closed his career beloved of the Australian people. I feel that it is indeeda privilege to join with the Leader of the Government in this Chamber in expressing, not only the loss experienced by the people of Australia, but also, in the most sincere language, our sense of the great personal loss sustained by the members of his family.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon
The PRESIDENT laid on the table his warrant appointing the following senators as the Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications : - Senators Barnes, Keating, Lynch, Maughan, O’Keefe, Pratten, and Senior.
The PRESIDENT laid on the table his warrant nominating Senators Bakhap, Buzacott, McDougall, and Newland a panel to act as Temporary Chairmen of Committees when requested so to do by the Chairman of Committees, or when he is absent.
The PRESIDENT laid on the table the Treasurer’s statement of receipts and expenditure for the year ended 30th June, 1919, together with the report of the Auditor-General thereon.
Sitting suspended from3.35 to4.15 p.m.
The following papers were presented : -
Estimates of ‘Receipts and Expenditure for the year ending 30th June, 1920.
Norfolk Island -Report of the Administrator for the year ended 30th June, 1919.
Statistical Bulletin No. 2, Wool Season 1918-19, prepared by Central Wool Committee.
Supplement to Statistical Bulletin No. 2.
Papers presented to British Parliament -
Afghanistan - Papers regarding Hostilities, 1919.
Dardanelles Commission - Final Report.
Income Tax - Royal Commission - Minutes of Evidence with Appendices -
National Relief Fund: - Report on Administration up to. 30th June, 1919.
Peace Proposals made by His Holiness the Pope to the Belligerent Powers on August 1,. 1917, and Correspondence relative thereto.
Treaties and Agreements) &c, signed at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, September 10, 1919; between -
The Allied and Associated Powers and Austria.
The Principal Allied and Associated Powers and the Serb-Croat-Slovene State.
The Principal Allied and Associated Powers and Czecho-Slovakia.
The Allied and Associated Powers, with regard to the contributions’ to the cost of liberation of the territories of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.
The Allied and Associated Powers, with regard to the Italian Repatriation Payments.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act -Orders of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, and other documents, in connexion with awards or variation of awards in the following cases: -
Australian Commonwealth Post and Telegraph Officers’ Association - Dated 19th December; 1919 (2 cases).
Australian Commonwealth Post and1 Telegraph Officers’ Association and Commonwealth Postmasters AssociationDated 19th December, 1919.
Australian Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association -
Dated 19th December, 1919 (2 cases).
Dated. 24th December,. 1919.
Australian Letter Carriers’ Association -Dated19th December, 1919 (2 cases ) .
Australian Postal Electricians’ Union - Dated 19th December, 1919..
Australian Postal Linesmen’s Union - Dated 19th December, 1919.
Commonwealth General Division Telephone Officers’ Association-Dated 19th December, 1919.
Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association - Dated19th December, 1919.
Federated Public. Service Assistants’ Association of Australia - Dated 19th December, 1919 (4 cases).
General Division Officers’ Union of the Trade and Customs Department of Australia - Dated 19th December; 1919 (2 cases).
Postal. Sorters’ Union of Australia - Dated 19th December, . 1919.
Audit Act - Transfers of amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council -
Financial. Year 1918-19 -
Dated 12th November, 1919.
Dated 14th January, 1920.
Contract Immigrants Act - Return for 1919, respecting Contract Immigrants admitted or refused admission into the Commonwealth, &c.
Customs Act -
Proclamation prohibiting importation (except under certain conditions ) of Absolute Alcohol and other goods.
Proclamations prohibiting exportation (except under certain conditions) of -
Birds of Paradise and their Plumage.
British and Australian Silver Coin.
Goods to Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey, and Bulgaria.
Trade. Spirits and certain Beverages.
Woollen Fabrics and Yarns.
Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1919,. No. 243:
Defence Act -
Royal Military College of Australia. - Report for, 1918-19.
Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 252; 253, 254, 255,. 266, 267, 268, 209, 270, 271, 272,. 273, 282, 283; 1920, Nos. 3, 4, 5, 14, 26.
Electoral Act -Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1919, No. 262.
Electoral Act and’ Referendum . (Constitution Alteration) Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 229, 260; 276.
Electoral (War-time) Act - Regulations amended.-Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 259, 285, 287.
Immigration Act. - Return for 1919 respecting persons admitted or refused admission into the Commonwealth, &c.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at - Alpha, Queensland - For Postal purposes. Brighton, Victoria. - For War Service Homes purposes;
Hobart, Tasmania. - For Repatriation purposes..
Rupanyup, Victoria. - For Postal purposes. Stanthorpe, Queensland. - For Defence purposes.
Sunshine, Victoria. - For War Service Homes purposes.
Tamworth, New South Wales. - For Defence purposes.
Naturalization Act - Return of Persons to whom Naturalization Certificates were granted during 1919.
Naval. Defence Act-Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 248, 284, 297, 298.
Northern Territory - Ordinances of 1919 -
No. 12. - Justices’ Appeals (No. 2).
Papua -Ordinances of 1919 -
No. 5. - Appropriation, 1919-20.
No. 9. - Native Labour.
Patents Act - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1919, No. 239.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations amended.- Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 247, 249, 257, 279, 280, 281, 291, 292; 1920, Nos. 1,6, 15, 24.
Public Service Act -
Appointments, Promotions, &c. -
Prime Minister’s Department - J. Mundy, E. L. Piesse, G. A. Whitlam.
Department of the Treasury - E. F. Hamilton, J. H. B. Cuthbertson, C. P. McKinnon, A. E. Hayes, and H. B. Jackson.
Attorney-General’s Department - M. M. Stewart.
Department of Trade and Customs - M. J. Holmes.
Department of Works and Railways - C. S. Daley.
Postmaster-General’s Department - G. L. Berrie, A. M. Cameron, J. R. McDonald, and A. H. Moseley.
List of Permanent Officers of the Commonwealth Public Service as on 30th June, 1919.
Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 246, 256, 258, 264, 275, 286; 1920, Nos. 9, 10, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23.
Railways Act -
By-law No. 12.
By-law No. 13.
Territory for the Seat of Government - Ordinances of 1919 -
No. G. - (Rabbit Destruction.
No. 7. - Leases.
War Precautions Act 1914-1918 - Regulations amended.- Statutory Rules 1919, No. 250.
War Precautions Act and Moratorium Act - Regulations amended. - ‘Statutory Rules, 1919, Nos. 2.51, 261. .
War Service Homes Act. - Land acquired for War Service Homes purposes at-
Adamstown, New South Wales.
Belmore, New South Wales.
Coburg West, Victoria.
Concord, New South Wales (two notifications).
Drummoyne, New South Wales.
Kelvin Grove, Queensland.
Newcastle, New South Wales.
– Is the Minister representing the Prime Minister in a position to make any announcement with regard to the expected termination of the marine engineers’ strike, and can he state when the normal inter-State steam-ship service is likely to be restored?
– I have no information other than that which has been already published.
– I have to report that His Excellency the Governor-General was pleased to deliver his speech to Parliament this afternoon, and, as honorable senators have already been supplied with a copy of it, I do not think it necessary for me to read it again. I therefore content myself with reporting it to the Senate. (For Speech vide page 6.)
– It is my duty to move -
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Opening Speech be agreed to : -
To His Excellency the Governor-General. May it Please Your Excellency:
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
As one who has had rather an extended experience in public life, I have hitherto regarded the debate on a Speech of this nature as superfluous, for thereason that, in my opinion, the Speech is merely a recital of the intentions of the Government, or a specification of duties which they propose to perform during the ensuing session of Parliament. I have held the view that when Bills mentioned in the Speech come up for discussion in this Chamber, we could then apply ourselves to their consideration and dissection, and thus save much of the time which is taken up by an Address-in-Reply debate. I held that opinion for a number of years, but I am now inclined to modify it, for the reason that my experience in public life, extending overa dozen years, has taught me that, just as in the brutal art of war we have heard applied the maxim that it takes a ton of lead to kill a man, so in the political arena it takes reams and reams of printed matter, and requires hours and days of speech-making, to hammer out in debate what is really intended to be done by an Act of Parliament. Therefore, while hitherto I have regarded the Address-in-Reply debate as superfluous, and much in the nature of a fifth wheel to a coach, I have lately come to consider it as a necessary part of our parliamentary procedure to insure the ripening of public thought and the consummation of the public will.
Before referring to matters mentioned in His Excellency’s Speech, I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate you, sir, on your re-election as a senator for Queensland. As one who has had the privilege of your personal acquaintance here, and been engaged in debate under your direction, I say, without pretence to flattery, that your return to this Chamber indicates that the people of Queensland have recognised your great services to that State and vindicated your selection as a candidate for Queensland. I have also to congratulate the Leader of the Government in this Chamber (Senator Millen) upon his triumphant return to this Parliament after the fiery ordeal of 13th December. As one who took a hand in that combat, I may state that whilst I never had any misgivings as to the outcome, there were times when we thought that the people of Australia might, by some misadventure, record a decision against the Government. But as the contest waxed hotter it became apparent that the results foreshadowed were about to be realized, and that the Government would be more strongly entrenched than ey,er on the Treasury bench. I therefore congratulate the Leader of the Senate and his supporters upon their return.
– Do not forget yourself. We are all glad to see you back again.
– Mark Twain has said that we should not speak well of ft person until he is dead, and I have so many doubts about my own. perfections that I would prefer any exploits of mine to be mentioned on my epitaph or perhaps in some post-mortem oration. While I am on the subject of congratulations, I hope I may offer the Leader of the Opposition in this Chamber (Senator Gardiner) - if he will accept them - my hearty good wishes upon his authorized re-entry into this Chamber. I have known Senator Gardiner for some time, and although I differed diametrically and hopelessly from him in regard to his attitude during the war period, and although, because of his combative personality, I had many a tussle with him, I feel that I can say that on no occasion was personal feeling engendered between us. I think I am right in saying, on behalf of honorable senators on this side, that we recognise Senator Gardiner’s fighting spirit, his ability in debate, and, above all, his transparent political honesty. And so we can well afford to congratulate him on his reelection by the people in 2few South Wales.
Having said this, my attention is now directed to the document that has been placed before the Senate. It is a very elaborate outline of duties on the part of the Government, but I feel impelled to remark that although the Go- .vernment are in charge of the affairs of the Commonwealth at the present time, as other Governments have been since the inauguration of this Parliament, Governments or political parties have very little to do with the shaping of events for the true welfare of the nation. By the prayer that is quite properly offered every day in this Chamber, we invoke a divine guidance upon our humble services that we may act in such a way as to insure the true, welfare of the people of Australia. Whatever may be done by example, the true welfare of any people is not bound up solely and absolutely by what political parties or Governments do. I am firmly of the opinion that the welfare of the people has its origin in the home. in the morals of the people, and in the way citizens comport, themselves in private and public life. This, by way of a lecturette. sums up what, in my opinion, are the shortcomings of government action.
A leading authority of the eighteenth century, Thomas Jefferson, said in connexion with the Declaration of Independence in the United States of America that “The best Government is that Government which governs least.” That concept of the eighteenth century which was supported by most opinions worthy of consideration through the balance of the eighteenth century, and during the nineteenth century, was maintained until the twentieth century, when it was radically altered by Governments doing as much as possible. The concept of latter-day Governments appears to be that a Government is never right unless it enters into every - conceivable public and private activity, and with that I entirely disagree. I believe in a half-way house between the concept of Thomas Jefferson and the present practice. It is the duty of a Government to carry out their actual1 responsibilities and to leave private individuals’ to themselves’ as far as possible, or- until their’ action- becomes a. public injury Where that midway course is to- be found will depend upon the. wisdom of Parliament.
Do honorable senators realize that we are in charge of one of the best countries on this earth ? The- French Labour Delegation - I ams sorry that more members of the. Official Labour party are not present to, hear’ what they said - expressed a very true opinion’. They visited this country, and examined our industrial, social, and legislative systems, and placed their opinion on record in the most unequivocal, manner. Thy said that, this country was. She one. that, possessed the glorious privilege of getting everything done for its people - especially its’ working people-by Act of Parliament, a privilege not enjoyed by any other country in: the world. We have also had the testimony of many of our citizens who went abroad during the late war with their eyes open, and looked into the conditions in other lands. What was the opinion of our soldiers who thus left us to play a man’s part ? They said that Australia was the best, brightest, and freest country in the world, and the one country where a man had the utmost possible opportunities. Citizens of this, country enjoy the greatest freedom, and have better chances’ of earning a livelihood than citizens’ in- any other’ part of the world.
The Speech submitted’ to the Senate today embodies the Government programme, but I do not think it is the beginning and end of all things; In some directions I would like the Speech to go further, but for what it is- worth I am prepared to- commend it. I notice, in the first instance, that reference is made- to the satisfactory conclusion of the- war, and it is well that that should be so. I would like to remind honorable- senators that when the last Parliament was called together the- war had not concluded, and the fortunes of the Allied Nations wore very much in doubt. The liberty of this country was not assured to us, and, there- fore when we say that the conflict has come to’ a successful termination, we have to realize, almost before anything else, that our liberty has been preserved. We have reason’ to’ rejoice at the glorious victory achieved by the Allied Forces as the result of the’ noble efforts: of our soldiers and sailors- who co-operated with them. We have also reason. to> bet grateful that, as an issue arising out of the - successful, termination of . the conflict,, a League of Nations,, which is; of particular interest to Australia,, has been established-. Living- as- we do- under the? protection of: the. British Flag we have enjoyed, a security which few- other countries in the world have experienced. During recent years this country has made marvellous; progress; and. it is to be regretted that in< our hour of. trial, one section, of the community did. not assist in the way it should.. In. addition to the security we have hitherto enjoyed, under the. League of Nations .we have been assured additional power and. strength, which could not, have been guaranteed if the Allies had been, defeated, or if the conflict had been a drawn battle. We have now. the security of all. the Allied. Nations coming to Australia’s help if. ever’ we should’ be in danger. I look upon the League- of Nations, as. a Magna Charta of the Commonwealth if we- assess’ it at its true worth. We know that the warhas been won, more particularly by the men who- fell in conflict than by any one else, and our thoughts,, gratitude, and. heart-felt thanks, go out to the- relatives and friends, of those men..
In regard to the attitude- of the United’ States of America, I hope that nation which hesitated so long in coming into the war; and which, as Lloyd George said, was a substantial factor in- assuring victory to the Allies, will not undo its good work by remaining outside the League’ of Nations. I still hope that a representative of” the United States will1 take his seat at the table of the League of Nations, and that in- that way we- shall have an extra guarantee for the safety of this country.
Getting away from the subject of the war, I notice that the Government are prepared to effect due economy in the Public Service of the State. I feel that the craze for economy can be run to death. I am not going to support any policy of a cheese-paring kind which may involve the inefficiency of the Service. I place on record my fixed opinion that’ I believe that the Public Service of the Commonwealth should be such as to attract to itself the ablest minds and the clearest brains in every department of public activity. I do not see why a private institution should pay more, and the Commonwealth of Australia pay less, for equal services rendered it. I am not, and never will be, one of those who are prepared to sweat the brains employed in any public Department, and I will not support the craze for public economy to such an exent as that. When fair remuneration is given I want to see a good, honest day’s work performed. I feel certain that the Government can be trusted to see that due economy is observed, consistent with the efficient carrying on of the public Departments.
I would suggest in this connexion the appointment of boards of business management from outside the Public Departments. Although we have the help of the Public Service Commissioner and the constant care of their Departments by the several Ministers to safeguard the expenditure of public money, it would, I think, still be wise on the part of the Government to institute, as an additional safeguard, a board of business management outside the public Departments to look into the manner in which they are carried on. I suggest that course because I believe the work of such a board would act as a valuable check upon men who may have become moss-grown in the different Departments. It would infuse new blood into them. What is required is a body of business men to look into the affaire of the several Departments, and report where there may be a waste of money or a lack of organization, and how the public funds might be better conserved.
– The honorable senator does not think that we have had enough of these so-called business men ?
– I think .that such a board as I suggest is necessary and desirable. It is a constant gibe hurled at the departmental heads at present that they are lacking in initiative; that because they are secure in their billets they are incapable of originating a new idea. Outside the Public Service there is a broad field of competition, and business men for their success must depend, upon their own energy and initiative. The advice and criticism of such men should be valuable -to any Government. It occurred to me before to-day that our public Departments would be all the better if they were subject to overhaul and supervision by men outside those Departments.
– Business men is Parliament were responsible for the six different railway gauges in Australia.
– That was the fault of New South Wales, because she broke away from the rest.
– New South Wales adopted the standard gauge of the world.
– We owe that condition of affairs to the fact that men in public life, at the time were so shortsighted as to be unable to see the confusion which must arise from the adoption of different railway gauges. If the men in public life in the past had been men of broader outlook, we. should not to-day have th’e spectacle of five or six different railway gauges in Australia.
But I would ask honorable senators, what was the experience in other countries during, the war period ? Great Britain went outside the beaten track, and picked out men who had proved “by their success in private life their fitness to advise and criticise, and to show how public money might be economically expended. That was necessary during the war period, but the same necessity exists in the peace period, and we would do well to follow that precedent. We have no money to waste, and every shilling expended needs to produce a full shilling’s worth of service.
– We have the Economy Commission’s report now.
– That is a report by departmental men. I have read it through. It i3 founded on different postulates that, if such and such were the case, so and so should be the- result. I do not attach much importance to that report. What we require is that men should be able to go into the work of a Department and say, for instance, that twenty men are employed who should not be employed, or that men are doing useless work, or are over or under paid, or are not properly placed. Such a Commission as we require should speak in positive language. It should not base its recommendations upon what might or might not be. The report of the Economy Commission is a valuable report of its kind, but it throws little light upon where the actual waste of money is going on in our Public Departments.
I see a reference in the Speech to loans, and I join in congratulating the t Government on their intention to go in for a loan policy. I am of those who at one time seriously subscribed to the idea that we could almost do without loans in this country. I no longer have that belief, and I am frank enough to admit it. I now believe that we cannot hope to develop this country without anticipating the future. No business man in private life is successful who does not anticipate the future by obtaining an overdraft. In this country we have a large undeveloped area which requires the expenditure of money for its development. The Government should not fear entering upon a loan policy, even at an increased rate of interest, to secure funds for developmental works in this country. There is the Northern Territory to be developed, the States to help, land to be cleared, irrigation to be engaged in, and many works to be carried out in the country with the purpose of bringing the people away from such crowded, festering sores of civilization as Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth.
– Not Adelaide.
– Perhaps the most shocking example of the lot is Adelaide. We should be prepared to pledge our good name for the raising of loans, even at an increased rate of interest, for the purpose of drawing our people from the cities into the interior, and getting them to make their livelihood there, away from the electric light, the side walks, and the many attractions of city life that ruin them financially and morally. I, therefore, support the proposal that the Government should enter upon a loan policy, and I hope that it will be found to be a vigorous one, irrespective of the rate of interest.
– For Canberra?
– I do not propose to touch upon Canberra.
I see that the Government propose to stabilize and extend the industries of Australia during their term of office, and I have a word to .say on that proposal. I should like to have inserted after the word “ extend “ the words “and hold the scales equitably between all the industries of Australia.” The reason I suggest that amendment is that, not only the present Government, which I am supporting, but previous Goverments, have had, in my opinion, a very short-sighted view of their duty to hold the scales equitably between the many industries of the country. I can give examples of this, but before doing so I may clear the ground by saying that the industrial field of the country is made up of two sets of industries. One class dumps its products or services on the Australian market, and every time it wants an increase or an advantage and cannot obtain it by relying upon its own resources, it bears down upon the Government of the day, and our Governments have been too complaisant, and have surrendered to these ( native, or Australian, industries to the injury of public interests elsewhere. I may be asked what proof I have of that? I take, for instance, the case of the men who went on strike lately - -the marine engineers. I remember those gentlemen very well when they were getting less than half, and perhaps less than one-third, of the wages which they went on strike for to-day. They hold up the country. A handful of men say to the whole of the people of ‘ this Commonwealth, “We declare a hold-up against you. We will not run your ships.” They will not say that . they will see us starving, but they do say, in effect, “ We shall keep from you what is almost as necessary as food, clothing, and raiment. We shall keep from you the necessaries of industry, and will keep you in idleness and stagnation.” They are quite prepared to run food ships - almost any cannibal would run a food ship for his own benefit - but when it comes to running ships on our Australian coast to supply the ordinary necessaries of life, and to keep the industries of the country going, a handful of men say to 5,000,000 people of Australia, “ We hold you up. We put a. pistol to your head, and say you’ must give us what we ask. It does not matter what you think about what we ask.” Such a state of affairs should never be allowed to exist, and I am glad to see that the Government have at last found a backbone, and have said . “ No “ to these people. They have gone further, aid said, “ We will use all the resources at our disposal, including even the muchmaligned War Precautions Act, to safeguard the public interest, and to see that you are put in your proper place.” That is a beginning. I can give honorable senators examples qf weak action on the part of this Government, and the Labour Government which preceded them were just as bad. We have had strike after strike until it seems that Australia is a place where industrial peace breaks out occasionally, and only occasionally. We have had one strike after another, although we have an Arbitration Court, and men are working under Court awards and industrial agreements. Anomaly of anomalies, we have men going on strike without even the excuse of congestion in the Arbitration Court. We have had strikes by men working under awards and industrial agreements as well as by those who have been endeavouring to get their case before the Court. I am speaking of the evil of extending patronage and protection to one industry at the expense of another and of the general public. Take the case of the seamen who went on strike some months ago and held up the community. They came along to the Government, and Senator Millen was put in the chair, and heard the pros and cons of the case. I gave the honorable senator a warning in this chamber, and told him that before he came to a decision he should see. that other industries and interests in this country were not jeopardized or injured as a result of the terms conceded to the seamen. They were given a very liberal wage, more liberal than I, as a seaman, think they should have been given .
– Not more liberal than was justified by the details of the case.
– I quite realize that it is not popular to say reduce wages. To raise wages, it does not matter who pays the bill, is always popular with the unthinking. Who are paying the bill in this instance? I will tell honorable senators. I worked as a seaman on this coast twenty -five years ago for £7, £8, and £9 a month, or an average of £8 a month, at the hardest occupation going.
– Senator Guthrie is a man who knows all about it. The wages of seamen to-day are nearly double what I received, and the work put in by seamen to-day is nothing compared to the work I had to put in. The accommodation, provided for seamen to-day is infinitely better than it was then, .and. the same remark is applicable to the quality of the food which is supplied to them, notwithstanding that the wages paid when I was a seaman on the Australian coast did not exceed half the rates which now obtain.
It is the duty of any Government to see that the scales of justice are held fairly between all classes of the community. When any individual in authority fails to do that, he forfeits his right to exercise authority. In this connexion let me point to the case of the men who are employed within the Golden Mile, Western Australia, or in North Queensland, or in any metalliferous area in the Commonwealth. There we have a perfect hive of industry, which is supporting anything in the neighbourhood of from 25,000 to 30,000 people. The goldminers in that area are just as much entitled to an increase in their wages as is any wharf labourer,, marine engineer, sugar-cane worker, or coal miner. As a matter of fact, the gold-miners of Western Australia are working to-day for the same rate of pay as they received twenty-five years ago. Before the recent election, I told Senator Gardiner that I did not care, what the electors of Western Australia thought of me in regard to my advocacy of the payment of this or that rate of wage. As a matter of fact, I talked to some of the people of that State like a Dutch uncle. Whilst the seamen’s strike was in progress I told Senator Gardiner, in this chamber, that he ought to go to the Golden Mile and endeavour to double the wages of the men employed there, and see what would happen. But if he achieved that end, what would be the result? He would close down every mine within that area. Does he want to do that? Certainly not. When the miner of Kalgoorlie desires to go for a trip in order to recuperate because his lungs have become clogged with dust, or when he wishes to send his sickly wife and family to the eastern States for a much-needed change after a long residence in that sun-baked area, he is obliged to pay double the rates or more which formerly prevailed for the privilege of travelling. Who shares in the advantages bestowed by those rates? Both the shipping companies and their employees. By all the rules of equity, what right have these people to have their incomes doubled when it is impossible to double the wages received by the miner without closing down the mines? Talk to me about an increase of wages ! Why, when the Industrial Workers of the World threatened to burn down my farm in Western Australia, I told them that I only wished they would come and take the property in its entirety and pay the debts which exist upon it. I pay the highest wages in the locality, though the farm has never earned the money since we felled the first tree. I am speaking plainly upon these matters. When I affirm that the seamen axe in the wrong they reply. “Look at the sweater!” I maintain that they are dipping thenhands deeply into the miners’ pockets and are robbing them, and I make a similar statement in regard to the New South Wales coal miners. Whilst the war was in progress the latter bore down upon the Government with ‘certain demands. Mr. Hughes was in charge of the Ministry at the time. He wanted coal for our ships, and he had to give the coal miners what they desired. The result was that they went back to work, but only for a short time. The rust had scarcely disappeared from their picks before these men again bore down upon the Government, and upon this occasion Mr. Watt gave them what they wanted. Who is to pay for all these increases of wages ? Experience is the best schoolmaster. I am growing wheat, and I am obliged to sell it in the markets of the world. I cannot send it to Sydney or to Melbourne, and say, “ It is worth 10s. per bushel, and hands off it unless you are prepared to pay that price.” I would like to see a strike by the wheat farmers of Australia. That would bring the men engaged in other industries to their senses. It would open the eyes of the .engineers, the waterside workers, and the coal miners, and all the others engaged in the spoon-fed industries, and make them realize their position. What right have they to hold up the industries of this country if the farmer cannot insist upon getting for himself the Value which he puts on his wheat ? If the men in the industries I have mentioned continue their insane pranks, I hope that the wheat farmers and the men sweated in metalliferous industries will go on strike. The community will then quickly realize where the shoe pinches. If the gold miner could double the price of his product, and the wheat grower could secure for himself the value which he puts on his commodity, things would be all right. But both’ have to compete in the open markets of the world. I positively object to one set of industries being penalized and sweated as the result of the action of employees who are engaged in another set of industries backed up by successive Governments.
T-he cost of living will excite very little comment from me. In this connexion I wish merely to say that the Government have no power in the matter. The electors were recently asked to clothe them with authority to deal effectively with profiteers, and they refused to do :So. Profiteering was used as a stalking horse in the elections which we have just passed. However, that _ consideration does not lift from the shoulders of the Government the obligation to do what they can to suppress this evil, though, in present circumstances, I am of opinion that they can do very little. When the War Precautions Act comes to an end, as it will do, six months from the 10th of January last, I doubt whether they will have an atom of power to deal with profiteering. We used to be assured by honorable senators opposite that the profiteer was squeezing the vitals of the people. We told the electors that we recognised that, and asked them to give us the power to deal with him. In reply the electors have said, “ Although the profiteer may be here, we are not prepared to give you the power to deal with him” Of course this is altogether apart from those prominent gentlemen who to-day are in such seething array on the Opposition benches. These gentlemen urged the electors to vote against the amendments of the Constitution proposed by the Government. Consequently, if the profiteer is carrying on his depredations in Australia today the fault lies with the electors themselves for failing to clothe the Government with the necessary power to deal with him.
I come now to the Arbitration Court. As one who helped to establish that tribunal in this country I wish to say that I have read awards made from time totime by Mr. Justice Higgins and Mr. Justice Powers, and I hope that my voice will reach those gentlemen, neither of whom in a. purely continental or an inter-industrial sense has any true conception of his duties as the holder of the scales of justice between employers and employees and! industry and industry in this country. They have been- aproached from time to time by various organizations and have decided appeals made to them for increases of wages to the members of those organizations. Nobody can charge me with being opposed to the granting of increased wages-, because my own’ action asan employer would be a sufficient refutation of any such charge. But I repeat that neither Mr. Justice Higgins nor’ Mr: Justice Powers has any conception of what is economic equity, seeing that both of them sanction increases in the wages paid and reductions in the hours worked in one set of industries, and are content to allow the sweated people in other industries to pay these increases and to stand, the racket of the shorter day. Why; the men who are engaged in the wheat industry of this country, instead of getting” 4s. per hour and working eight hours a day, as do many industrial employees, are called upon to labour fourteen hours and more a day and do not get a return of more than . a computed’ rate of 6d. per hour. I can take anybody who is sufficiently interested- in this question, to the Golden Mile,, in Western Australia, or to Northern Queensland, and show him men who are getting less than Ils. 6d. per day. Yet’ here, in Melbourne, tram drivers, who are merely doing women’s work, are receiving l’2s. per day. I positively object to some men being granted increased wages and shorter hours of labour if the burden is to be borne by the persons who are* engaged in another section of industry which is being sweated. There are 230,000 persons earning a living by agriculture in this country, getting no such thing as an average of ls. per hour, yet they are called upon to pay those automatic increases in other industries.
– And the landlord gets it all.
– The honorable senator is perfectly right. Let Mr. Justice Higgins and Mr. Justice Powers get off the Arbitration bench if they are willing to- sanction the continuance of such conditions. Let them get away from the Arbitration Court and start a farm, or look for a mine and work it, pay double the wages of twenty-five years ago, as is the case in coddled industries, or an engineering firm, or a small timber-cutting industry, and see how they would get on.
– One never finds- a; man selling a farm and going to sea.
– Because the farmer has never sufficient money to carry him to the coast. That is the trouble: I object to the Arbitration Court being’ used to sweat industries in Australia which haveno means of securing redress and which are compelled to compete with their products in the open markets of the world. To-day there are more persons in Australia who- are attempting to earn a living’ by growing wheat than in any other industry. Growing- wheat! Why, they used to call me a wheat-grower in Westem Australia, but I have insisted that I am merely a “ wheat-sower.” Too- often I put the- seed in the drill and’ that is- the last I see of it. Yet the people- in the . farming and the- mining industries are called upon to pay the increased- wages’ granted’ to- the employees in other’ more f avoured industries. 1 am here- to call’ a halt- to that- sort of thing: I hope the Arbitration Act will’ be amended, in the direction of demanding a substantial, sum as a guarantee of the. faithful fulfilment of every- award given- by the Court, and every industrial agreement registered there. I say this particularly on behalf of the. small unions. The large unions that can hold up an industry are in a privileged position, and can afford to ignore the Court, and declare war1 on society. They can defy the community, but the small unions’ here and there throughout Australia .can rely only upon the carrying into effect to the fullest extent of the old Labour policy, namely, the; Arbitration. Act.
When. I. look upon those big unions, with two strings to their bow, who can go to the Arbitration Court one week; and- resort- to a strike the next week, I feel that they are not doing the fair thing towards the small unions. They are merely using them for their own benefit. The small unions cannot go on strike. If they attempted to compel the community to knuckle down to them, they would find their efforts entirely ineffective. The big unions, having two strings to their bow, are acting meanly towards their smaller comrades in the field. At least they call them comrades. I am an old trade unionist, and am going to remain one. They cannot rob me of that common law- right. I have done something for trade unionism in this country, and I say that we want the Arbitration Court put on a proper footing. Short of wiping it out altogether, we have a right to demand that every man who goes before the Court shall put up a substantial guarantee, as the employers have to do to-day, that he will keep faith with the award that he seeks, and with all agreements into which he enters.
Generally speaking, I approve of the policy speech of the Government, and am hopeful that, as the result of the lesson taught by the late elections, all parties and individuals in this country will pull together in a national spirit, and so lift Australia out of its present troubles. It would be wrong to say that we are without troubles. Troubles abound around us. There is an interest bill of some £20,000,000 odd to be met by a small population, and that hill must be paid. The only way to pay it is by hard, honest work. Both sections in the industrial field must come together and understand each other better. The only way is for the Labour party, and those representing it, to keep faith. They must get back to the old reputation which they had as a body of workmen, for Senator Fairbairn will agree with me that, until a few years ago, there was no better workman on the face of the earth than the Australian. He is the best workman to-day, if he is properly led, and if he does not turn a listening ear to those extremists who come from other countries, to ruin, not only the cause of the worker, but the future of this country as well.
If we want to hold this country - and I have my doubts if we shall continue to hold it if we go on as we have been doing in the past - there is in front of every patriotic citizen a grim, unavoidable, and imperative task. He must drop his attachment to this or that “ ism,” and realize that if we want to hold this country inviolate against all enemies, to make it the good country which our soldiers say it is, we must all pull together, avoiding a spirit of antagonism, substituting goodwill for ill-will, to make it produce the maximum in every line of human activity. We want to see this country produce the best. In fact, we cannot hold it unless we do. In all our covenants, whether we hold a piece of land for wheat-growing, or mining, or timber getting, or take up a fishing area on a river frontage, the cardinal principle insisted on by Liberal and Labour Governments, and especially by Labour Governments, is, “ You must work that area for all you are worth, or you will forfeit it.” If you take up a mining area in any of the six States, the one essential insisted on upon all occasions by the Labour party is that you shall work it or forfeit it. But when it comes to working the continental area, what happens? What attitude is taken by those very men who insist on the working provision “as vital in all other cases? They say, in effect, “ You can do as you please about the continental plot.” If we act in that fashion with our Australian heritage, we are simply building up a case for those who have designs on our country. We cannot afford to do1 this. Effective occupation and effective use are the only weapons which will stand us m good stead when our destiny comes to be pronounced. I call on all those who say we are up against this trouble and that trouble, those who denounce the profiteers and all the rest of it, to remember and realize the significance of the burning words of those French champions of labour who visited us recently, and who were treated so shabbily here by so-called Labourites. They told the world that Australia was the one country which could achieve by legislative enactment all that was required by the worker. What more do they want than to live up to the spirit of that pronouncement by those champions of labour who came to visit us from gallant France? Let us all live up to that spirit; let us all pull together, and thereby justify our right to hold this country, which, as I and our soldiers have said, has proved itself the very best a-j’1. fairest and finest on earth.
– It is my privilege to second the motion so eloquently and forcefully put by Senator Lynch. I am sure I shall best consult the wishes of the Government and the inclinations of the Senate by being very brief in the discharge of this duty. There must be in the heart of every Australian a feeling of gratitude and thankfulness that the fearful war which lasted for five years, practically during the whole period of the existence of the previous Parliament, has at last been concluded, and that this Parliament is meeting, if not under ideal peace conditions, at any rate under conditions very much more promising than we have lived under for five years past.
During a great portion of the period of the war a considerable amount of industrial unrest was prevalent, not only in Australia, but throughout the whole world. We in Australia have been exceptionally unfortunate by being more sorely oppressed by that spirit of unrest than any other part of the civilized world. Since the war concluded, we have had a series of industrial upheavals, for what reason no one can tell. Arbitration Courts and other tribunals for the settlement of industrial disputes have been established. They are far from satisfactory, as every one will admit, but they are there, and, as Senator Lynch says, the bulk of the strikes have been by men who were labouring under industrial awards. If we are to hold this country, if we are to make good, if we are to recover from the ravages of war, these hold-ups of the community by comparatively small sections of it must be put a stop to. I do not want to refer to controversial matters to any great extent, but I wish to place it publicly on record that I approve of the action of the Government in enforcing the provisions of the War Precautions Act so far as the marine engineers were concerned. I do not know, nor do I care, whether that action was constitutional, but I do know that in using the War Precautions Act the Government merely applied to those men. the same doctrine that they themselves had applied to the whole community. I do not wish by anything I say here to stir up feeling or strife, but it is right that men in public positions should express approval or disapproval of the actions of the Government. They should also be sufficiently courageous to express disapproval of the conduct of any section of the community which is acting detrimentally- to the interests of the com,munity as a whole.
During the last few months this country has gone through the ordeal of a very strenuously-fought election. Many of our parliamentary comrades and friends have fallen by the wayside. I join with Senator Lynch in congratulating you, sir, and the members of the Government who faced the electors on this occasion on their return. I say, quite candidly and honestly, that I feel a considerable’ amount of regret at the defeat of some members of the Senate, men who, had they been free, would have done the right thing. Having been bound to irresponsible organizations, they took the wrong turning, and to-day have been removed from their seats in Parliament by the electors. I regret these things in the interests of the whole country, but I am glad that the actions of the Government have been abundantly indorsed by the people. We may take the Senate election as an indication of the opinions of the people. Looking at the votes recorded, and the members returned to this Chamber, we can come only to the one conclusion, that the electors have splendidly indorsed the actions of the Government during the five year’s of the war, and have expressed unbounded confidence in the Government- for the next three years at least.
We have’ all been disappointed, as the Government have been, that the referenda proposals were turned down. The marvel is, that again our friends in the Official Labour party turned upon their old faith and rent it to pieces. Time and again they had advocated the adoption of these proposals, but because they were placed before the people by this Government, they advised the electors of Australia on this occasion to vote “ No.” On the one hand they held up the evils of the profiteer to the horrified gaze of the whole community, and on the other hand they told the people that this Government were not to be trusted and would not use the powers asked for if granted. If, however, they had been led as wisely as in the past, this alleged unfaithfulness on the part of the Government should have made them keener than ever to secure these powers, because then they would have been able to demonstrate whether the Government would give effect to them or not. Those who are suffering from the effects of high prices are in this position because of the action of the Official Labour party, the Conservative press and the Conservative politicians of Australia. During the recent campaign the Official Labour party and the Conservative element were hand-in-hand upon the referenda questions, and I .want the people of Australia to know it. The Government, however, are not going to sit down idly and do nothing. Whatever is possible, with the restricted powers in their possession, will, I believe, be done to relieve the present position. Many of us think that not very much can be expected, but we are satisfied that the- Government intend to make an effort to remedy existing conditions.
There is outlined in the Speech the intention of the Government to call a convention for the purpose of suggesting amendments of. the Constitution. I believe there is a great element of risk in a convention.
– Hear, hear.!
– But unlike my honorable friend, Senator Bakhap, I propose to take the risk, and stand behind the Government in this matter, so long as the convention is called in what I consider to be a constitutional manner.
– On a democratic
– There is no indication in the Governor-General’s Speech of the lines upon which the convention will be called, but Parliament will have an opportunity of dealing with that matter. We are fully convinced that Parliament should have enlarged powers tocarry out its great work. The Constitution has been found to be defective again and again, and! I am satisfied now that an attempt is to be made to remedy the. position.
The Speech does not contain anything of a sensational nature. This is not a time for sensationalism or experimental legislation. On the contrary, it is a time when all our energies should be directed to the building up of our. national strength, and to restoring our broken finances - broken as the result of heavy but necessary expenditure during five years of warfare. As a nation, we are in the position of a business man who has met with some great financial calamity, and who has to cast about for ways and means to carry on and restore himself to a positionof financial and commercial stability. There is no need to be panicstricken, but it is our duty to take such means as may be necessary to restore our national financialequilibrium. I have no doubt that the Government will take such steps. Like Senator Lynch, I do not agree altogether with those who just noware preaching the gospel of economy. In this city a section of the press is continually preaching this gospel, and, in my judgment, most unfairly and unscrupulously trying to poison the minds of the people against the present Government. Day after day its columns are filled with charges of recklessness, quite regardless of their accuracy, but I hope the Government will take no notice of this campaign-. I do notfor a moment . advocate unnecessary expenditure. I want the Government to be able to account satisfactorily for the expenditure of every shilling of the people’s money, but just as in the case of a business man, so in the case of a Government is it necessary sometimes to extend activities in many directions, and so incur expenditure for the purpose of bringing about financial stability.
In the early part of my remarks I referred to the satisfaction of the whole civilized world at the conclusion of the war. We all rejoice with the Government’ that the war has ended, and that, so. far as the British Empire is concerned, peace has been restored. Australia, with other parts of the. world-, made tremendous sacrifices, and I suppose we are more concerned about these than about sacrifices that were made by other nations. But the sacrifice of wealth is as nothing compared with the 60,000 valuable Australian lives that were laid down in the interests of our liberty and freedom. We must see to it that these sacrifices have not been made in vain. Parliament is asked to express the thanks of a grateful nation to our gallant soldiers and sailors for their services during the war period. I know this will bo done. I know also that many men who did precious little to help our soldiers and sailors in the hour of their need - men who did worse than nothing, because they did everything they could to hinder our defence policy - may now be found standing shoulder to shoulder with those who did everything for our soldiers and sailors.. These people now are claiming to be the best friends of the soldiers, but, thank God. they are known. Parliament is to be asked to recognise its duty to the men who fought, and to the relatives of men who fell in the war by adopting a Gratuity Bill, which will, in some small measure, express in a. practical form our thanks to these men who fought so splendidly for our liberty. I have no doubt that the Bill will be speedily passed.
Parliament will also be asked to amend the Repatriation Act. I know that during its administration many grievances have been ventilated and many blunders made, but I wish to repeat what I have said on former occasions, namely, that the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) has -carried out a Herculean task most successfully. In my opinion, those intrusted with the details of this great scheme have been to a large extent responsible for a great deal of the dissatisfaction that exists. I welcome the amending Bill, not because I think the Repatriation Act has failed, but because the requirements of the time have outgrown the machinery provided. “We are also asked - and I have no doubt this will mean expenditure, and so conflict with the -views of those economists to whom I have referred - to indorse the Government’s proposals to erect perpetual memorials to our immortal dead in the various lands where they fell, as well as in this, their home land. So far as the men who have fallen are concerned, this is as much as we can do. In regard to those who have returned wounded or unwounded, Australia is, I think, doing a fair thing. If what is proposed is not considered sufficient, then it is our duty to sec if we can do better. Australia cannot do less than perpetuate the memory of our- gallant dead, who are peacefully sleeping in alien soil, by erecting permanent monuments to their memory. We had hoped, in addition to the peace which has come as a result of the successful conclusion of the war, to have had a guarantee that the peace of the world was likely to be assured. We have looked with longing eyes to the League of Nations as a means by which permanent peace between the nations of the world would be permanently established. I am not going to say anything that may be called unkind concerning one nation, but I think I am voicing the opinions of all thoughtful people in the Commonwealth when I say that we regret that America is adopting her present attitude. It is deplorable to every one looking for permanent security that this .great nation is delaying for some reason - it appears to us from this distance for purely party purposes - the signing of the Peace Treaty. All rightthinking persons regret the delay that is taking place, because it means a -great deal to Australia. I .trust that America will soon come into line with the other Allied Nations, and that a permanent peace, in the efforts to secure which such glorious sacrifices were made, will become an accomplished fact. The delay that has occurred means that much necessary work in Australia is considerably hampered. Legislative action in connexion with the mandates over the islands in the Pacific is delayed solely in consequence of the stand America has taken. Those of us who were members of the last Parlia-, ment fully believed that before we met again the Treaty would have been ratified by all nations, and that one of the first duties we would be called upon to perform* would be to pass legislation giving effect to the mandates granted to the Commonwealth by the Imperial Government. We regret exceedingly that America has delayed this matter so long, and I am sure I am expressing the opinions of all honorable senators when I say that we still believe that America will eventually agree to become a memof the League.
– We have all. heard that the new world was called in to redress the balance of the old.
– I could say a great deal on that point, but perhaps, at this stage, I had better leave it alone. Senator de Largie. - The modern Americans are not living up to the reputation of the older Americans.
– The financial position is no doubt causing every member of the Government, and every rightthinking person in Australia, great concern. Our financial obligations and difficulties are very great. Quite apart from the war there has been no period in the history of Australia when it was more necessary for every section of the community to stand shoulder to shoulder than at present, in view of the financial crisis which is undoubtedly facing us. I do not possess the secrets of the Government, and I know nothing of the difficulties facing them, but I am confident that the position must be very grave. It will be necessary for every section of the community and every individual in this country to stand behind the Government so long as they show an earnest desire to recover our financial position. I believe that their efforts will be honest, and that there is a genuine desire to overcome the stupendous obstacles facing them. We are in possession of a great country - in fact, one of the greatest countries of the earth. Those of us who are now getting old in years can recall some of the fearful drought period’s, lasting two, three, four, and five years, when large portions of the continent were practically a barren waste. The areas affected comprised many thousands of square miles, and there was scarcely a hoof of stock that did not perish. But in two or three years the country completely recovered its normal state, and I have no doubt that a country such a» this, if the people are united, will not experience any great financial difficulties.
It will be good news to the unfortunate and harassed taxpayers to know that it is the intention of the Government to make their burden in connexion with taxation matters somewhat easier. I do not suggest that the Government propose to relieve them by reducing taxation, but I belie/ve it is the intention of the Government to co-ordinate the systems, and thus do away with a good deal of the inconvenience that has been experienced in the past. At present the Commonwealth and each State have their separate Departments and methods of collecting the tax. These systems are in conflict, and the taxpayers in every part of Australia, whether their income be large or small - unless they be on a fixed salary - are surrounded by difficulties which make it practically impossible for them to prepare correct returns. Whatever the paragraph in the Governor-General’s Speech may mean, I hope the Government will immediately get into touch with the various States, and introduce some system which will be more acceptable to the taxpayer than the present cumbersome method.
It is not my intention to refer at any length to the Tariff; more than to say that I am a Protectionist. When so many political organizations are in the field, it may be somewhat ambiguous to say that one believes in a scientific Tariff, but I expect this Governmnt to introduce nothing less than a scientific Tariff for the consideration of Parliament. At the same time, some endeavour should be made to encourage the Australian consumer to purchase only Australian-made goods. Quite a number of people who visit the retail shops and warehouses care little whether the goods they are purchasing are made in Australia or are manufactured in other countries by cheap labour. It is the first duty of Australian citizens to see that they purchase Australianmade goods.
Next to the question of finance comes that of defence, and, although it is not my intention to deal with it at any length, I believe Parliament will be called upon to devote a good deal of time during coming sessions to this important question. Defence hinges largely on finance, but the Defence Department ought- not to consider finance at the expense of efficiency. We must be careful not to lose the substance in grasping for the shadow. Due regard must be paid to the future of this country. ‘The great war has ended, but we do not know when trouble may again break out. Australia must not be found unprepared. The defence of this country is essential, and we look to the Government to establish a system of defence that will continue for all time.
A .policy of encouragement of immigration also is outlined. No country in the world has greater need of immigration than has Australia, but we have to be very careful in dealing with this subject. We are obliged to get people from overseas; but, whilst we are told that a great many people in the Old World are anxious to come here, we must see that only the right class is imported. As Senator Lynch has said, we do not want the men from the cities ; we have enough men and women in our cities now. The people we require are those who will go out back and do the pioneering work, developing the country, instead of walking the gas- lit streets of the cities. In getting population from overseas we must be careful also to see that, in the first place, our returned soldiers are adequately provided for. They must be the first care and charge of the people of Australia, and every soldier who wants land, and can furnish proof of his capability or probable capability of working it successfully, must be given an opportunity to secure it. Then, again, we must be careful that no injustice is done to the people who are already in Australia, and that those who are anxious and prepared to work are not shouldered aside by newcomers from other countries. Subject to these precautions, we can proceed with our immigration scheme at the earliest possible moment.
It is not my intention to discuss at length the Industrial Arbitration Act. We know that that measure has not been the success that we fondly hoped it would be, and I shall support any effort to effect its improvement.
– We can only find that out by experience.
-We have the experience to a certain extent, but we are still afraid that, because of the constitutional limitations placed upon the powers of this Commonwealth, even the amendments we can make may not be effective. However, I am prepared to support any attempt to improve the existing conditions.
I have already said that the Government are not to be stampeded because a section of the press is throwing bricks at them for their alleged expensive and extravagant ideas. I hope and believe that no newspaper criticism will prevent the Government from embarking upon a necessary public works policy. Just as a man in business who has met with misfortune has to look for fresh channels of trade and industry, so the Commonwealth must find fresh channels of employment and industrial development. That can be done only by a public works policy, and I say to those gentlemen, mostly residents of Victoria, who are finding fault with the proposed extension of the Federal Capital scheme, that the construction of the Capital was promised by the people of Australia to the State of New South Wales, and any man who says that this Parliament should treat that promise as “ a scrap of paper “ is not a true Australian.Rightly or wrongly, the creation of a Federal Capital in New South Wales has been promised by the people.
– But not at Canberra.
– A capital in New South Wales has been promised; I have been at Canberra, and would as soon legislate there as in Sydney, Melbourne, or Adelaide. At any rate, whether the Federal Capital be at Canberra or elsewhere, the people, by accepting the Federal Constitution, have agreed that it shall be in New South Wales, and this Parliament has no right to repudiate that undertaking. I hope the Government will give early effect to their promise. How often havewe said that, had the statesmen of bygone years been farsighted, and retained to the people the land values of the cities of Australia, our people would not have had to pay one penny in taxation. If the Government of Victoria had retained to the State the land values of Melbourne, the people of this State would not be taxed one pennypiece, because the increased land values of the capital cities would have paid, at least, the cost of government and public works.
– The honorable senator is now talking a little common sense.
– Unfortunately, the honorable senator will soon be taking his departure from this chamber, and his mantle may fall on me. However, I am not prepared to go as far as my honorable friend in the direction of land values taxation.
– The honorable senator is not prepared to go any distance at all. He is one of the “ twicers “ in this chamber.
– The honorable gentleman has been treated by the people of New South Wales as not only a “twicer” but a “ thricer.” They have rejected him, but the people of South Australia have returned me to this Chamber.
– By a fraudulent system of voting foisted upon the people by men like the honorable senator.
– I hope that the promise that the Government have made in regard to the continuance of the Federal Capital construction policy will be carried out.
Another promise that was made, not in the Constitution, but by an Act of this Parliament, involved the construction of the north-south railway and the development of the great undeveloped Northern Territory. Here again the land of this area belongs to the people of Australia. In a few years’ time, when the country is developed, and people settled upon it, the expenses of government will be largely met from the revenues of the Territory. I have no doubt that the construction of the northsouth railway, although it is not mentioned in this policy speech, will be found to be one of the necessary public works to be undertaken by this Parliament. 1 congratulate the’ Govern ment on the fact that they have indicated their intention to expedite the works now being carried on so leisurely in connexion with the locking of the Murray. From the viewpoint of settling people upon the land in Australia, I regard this as one of the most important undertakings referred to’ in the speech. I know something of the Murray from Echuca to its mouth, and have some idea of the possibilities and capabilities of the. great Murray Basin. I hope that the Commonwealth Government will get into touch with the States concerned at the earliest possible moment, and that, in the near future, we shall not, as in the past, have a piece-meal, disjointed, disconnected kind of scheme carried out, but that the locking of the Murray and the construction of great irrigation works in connexion therewith will be proceeded with at a very much more rapid rate than has- characterized our operations in the past.
Shipbuilding and the co-ordination of Commonwealth railways are, in- my opinion, absolutely necessary for the future development of this country.
In conclusion, I want to say that I am pleased to notice the promise of the Go.vernment to make some improvement in the conditions of our civil servants. I agree with Senator Lynch that the Public Service of the Commonwealth should attract, not the second, third, or fourthgrade men in our’ community, but the very best men we have. Unless we pay such men adequately we cannot expect to secure their services. We cannot hope to get a first class man for the wages paid to a third or fourth class man. If you ask any business man in the community he will tell you that if you want brains and ability you must pay for them. “We should’ get out of the rut of paying men a miserable; niggardly £200- or £300 a year for doing the work of a man who ought to be getting “£1,000 or £2,000 a year. I hope that the Bill to be introduced to deal with this question’ will be found to- follow somewhat on the lines I have indicated.
The programme of legislation outlined is fairly extensive, but not necessarily alarming.. I have no doubt that by the application of industry during the com- ing session much of the business, outlined by the Government in. the opening speech can be completed, I hope, as a result of the diligence of members of this Parliament, it will be carried into, effect, because many of the measures, mentioned are absolutely necessary for the development of this great country, and for the progress and advancement of our people.
Debate (on motion by Senator Grant) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 3 0’clock on’ Wednesday next.
Destruction of Wealth Census Cards - ‘Soldiers’ Homes - Silver-lead Ores.
Motion (by Senator Millen) pro- “ posed -
That the- Senate do now adjourn.
Senator GRANT (New South Wales) 6.13]. - I should like to know from .the Minister representing the Prime Minister’ whether he has noticed a report in the press to the effect that all the wealth census card’s furnished! to the Government some time ago, under an Act of this Parliament, have been destroyed? If he has noticed that report, will’ he inform the Senate whether the statement is correct or otherwise.
– I wish to- ask the Minister for Repatriation if his attention has- been drawn to a statement in the press recently to. the effect that one- of the municipal; bodies within whose area a number of houses have been erected under the soldiers’ housing scheme, passed some very severe comments upon those houses, and stated that they afforded totally inadequate accommodation: foi;- the housing of soldiers and their families. It was further stated that this particular- municipal council would pass! such local, by-laws as- would prevent the erection of similar houses in the future. If the comments of this municipal council are justified, they represent a very serious- reflection upon the work of the Department charged with the erection of soldiers-‘ homes. A number of people have approached me’, and have pointed’ du* -that it is a very serious- thing if the houses erected for soldiers are of such a character that municipal councillors may be justified in declaring them unfit for human habitation, because they are too small, or because the land by which they are surrounded is not sufficiently large. I forget exactly what objection was urged by the municipal council referred to, but their condemnation was scathing, and I think that it would be wise, in the circumstances, for the Minister forRepatriation to make some statement on the subject.
– For some time past members representing Tasmania in this Chamber and another place have been communicated with most voluminously by telegram and letter regarding the acute position that has arisen in connexion with the disposal of silver-lead ores mined in that State. While these letters and telegrams were coming along the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) was absent in New South Wales, and necessarily those principally concerned in making representations in the proper quarter, which I understand is the Department of the Attorney- General, presided over by the Prime Minister, were obliged to wait his return. But, immediately he returned I endeavoured to get into communication with him and point out how necessary it was that Tasmanian representatives in the Federal Parliament should be given an opportunity of making direct representations to him in connexion with this urgent matter. I have since, in another way, communicated with the Prime Minister, and I would ask the Minister representing the Government in this Chamber to point out to the head of the Government how urgent this matter is and how important it is for the Tasmanian members to be given, , at a very early date, the interview solicited by them, in order to put before him the urgency of the position and the necessity for dealing with it straight away. I do not propose to weary honorable senators with the details. I shall reserve them until the opportunity of seeing the Prime Minister is afforded me. I content myself by saying that the position is a vital one, and that the policy of putting embargoes on the export of Australian ores to other countries will have to be very fully considered. Also, I would say that it is additionalevidence to me of the necessity for exercising great carebefore adding to the existing activities of members of the Commonwealth Ministry, seeing that it is already so very difficult for members representing a State to get into touch with the Prime Minister regarding a matter which is considered to be of vital importance to that State.
– With regard to Senator Grant’s inquiry as to the alleged destruction of census cards, I know nothing about the matter, but I shall endeavour to get the necessary information and make it available to the honorable senator at the next sitting.
As to Senator Foil’s inquiry in reference to certain statements in the press concerning war service homes, I may say that I have seen so many statements in the press that I have ceased to read any more of them.
– These were resolutions passed by a municipal council. -
– I have not seen them. Has the honorable senator seen them ?
– Then I shall be very much obliged if the honorable senator will place them before me. An objectionable practice has grown up. If any. one has any fault to find in connexion with the activities of the Department of Repatriation he seems to think his job is finished by getting into print, and I never hear of it. It was the proper place of this shire to communicate the matter to me. It seems to me that there is not so much a desire to effect reform or prevent evil as there is to gain some little publicity. If that be the case, they are welcome to that publicity, but they are not helping the job by stopping at that. I have the assurance of the Housing Commissioner that in no district is he building’ houses in conflict with local regulations. I think that nine houses werebuilt in the first instance a little short of the requirements of the local authorities, but with that exception no house is being built to-day whichdoes not conform with the local government requirements. I do not believe the statement that these particular houses are unfit for habitation, and I invite Senator Foll to look at them.
– I do not believe the statement.
– From the houses I have seen I am certain that there is no man with the slightest commercial instinct who would not take over from the Housing Commissioner’s hands every house he has built at the money it has cost. They are small houses. That is obvious. There is a financial limit imposed by the Act. But up to that limit I am quite confident that the Commissioner so far has given excellent value. Shortly I hope to be able to make a full statement to the Senate traversing the activities of the Repatriation Department and the Housing Commissioner.
With regard to Senator Bakhap’s request, I shall certainly fall in with it. I am a little surprised that he has pressed it here, because I was under the belief that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) had already given him the undertaking to receive a deputation at as early a date as he is free to do so. However, I shall bring under the notice of my chief the request of the honorable senator, and endeavour to furnish him with an answer when we meet next week.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate Adjourned at 6.22 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 February 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1920/19200226_senate_8_91/>.