8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and road prayers.
– I have received a petition to the members of the Senate of the Parliament of Australia-
– The honorable senator should not rend the petition.
– I did not intend to do so, but to tell honorable senators what is in it.
– May I explain the position to the honorable senator? Under the Standing Orders, bywhich I as well as every other member of the Senate must be guided, before a petition can be received or considered at all it must bear the certificate of theClerk of the Senate that it is in accordance with the Standing Orders. The first thing an honorable senator should do in presenting a petition is to explain that it is certified to be in order by the Clerk of the Senate, and unless he is able to do so the petition should not be alluded to at all. Our standing order dealing with petitions provides that-
Every petition ahullbe lodged with the Clerk at least three hours previous to the meeting of the Senate at which it is proposed to present the same;
That is obviously for the purpose of enabling the.Clerk to examine the petition, and satisfy himself that it is in order. The standing order proceeds - and when presented must bear the Clerk’s certi ficate that it is in conformity with the Standing Orders.
-I am much obliged to you, sir, for the information, and were it not for the fact that this petition is urgent, pressing, and important
– The honorable senator will not be in order in making a statement on the subject.
– I am going to ask you a question, if you will permit me. The petition is urgent and important, and
I wish to ask the Senate, and you, sir, to consent to receive it. It is really a petition from the soldiers and their fathers,, mothers, and wives, with regard to the War Gratuity Bill now under consideration by the Senate. There is nothing in it of an objectionable nature. I am quite aware that the procedure you have laid down is the correct procedure, and I cannot go outside it; but I ask you, sir, if a means cannot be found to overcome the difficulty by permitting so much of the Standing Orders to be suspended as would prevent me presenting the petition to the Senate?
– What is the difficulty in the way of conforming to the rules of the Senate?
– The Standing Orders block me from presenting the petition.
– Why not conform to them?
– Because the Bill would be passed, and the petition would then be useless. I really desire to meet the wishes of the petitioners. I have no desire to enter into an argument; but I may say that very frequently, when a Minister desires to get a Bill through in a hurry, he moves the suspension of the Standing Orders to enable him ‘to do so. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) might now move the suspension of the Standing Orders, in order to enable this petition to be presented.
– When did the honorable senator receive the petition?
– I come from another State, and did not get here in time - -
– The honorable senator may himself move the suspension of the Standing Orders to allow the petition to be presented, but at present the discussion is out of order.
Motion (by Senator Gardiner) agreed to-
That standing order No. 70 be suspended to enable the presentation of a petition to the Senate without compliance with the conditions of such standing order.
– I understand that the next procedure is to state what is the object of the petitioners.
– It is not necessary for the honorable senator to do so.
He may present it to the Clerk, and move that it be read.
– I hand the’ petition to the Clerk. It is properly worded, concludes with the usual prayer, and bears 1,900 signatures. I move -
That the petition be read.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Settlement in Late German New Guinea.
– I ask the. Minister representing the Prime Minister if he is aware that the following paragraph appeared in the Papuan Courier, dated 12th March, 1920:-
Among the passengers by the Mornida for Rabaul is Mr. F. J. Somerhoff, managing director of the Standard Export and Import Company, Sydney. He is proceeding to Rabaul in connexion with the purchase of some large properties, and carries credentials from the Commonwealth Government.
What are the credentials referred to, and by whom were they issued? In view of the reported statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) to the Returned Sailors and Soldiers League in Brisbane, on 29th October, 1919, viz., “ That no chartered company would be permitted to acquire properties in late German New Guinea until such time as he had inspected the country with the idea of placing returned soldiers and sailors on the plantations,” will he confirm that assurance that this company is not in any favoured position as regards late German New Guinea? When does the Prime Minister propose to visit German New Guinea to make investigations with regard to plantation* for returned soldiers and sailors?
– The statement that the gentleman referred to carried credentials from the Government is totally incorrect. There is no foundation for it. Further, I may state that the Government have no intention of dealing with any applications for land under leasehold or any other tenure until after the issue of the mandate.
The following papers were presented : -
Adriatic Question - Correspondence (Paper presented to British Parliament).
Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1920, No. 56.
Public Service Act- Promotion of T. L. Legg, Attorney-General’s Department.
War Service Homes Act - Land acquired for war service homes purposes at Goulburn, New South Wales.
– Iwish to ask the Minister for Defence if during the war reports very favorable to the conduct and efficiency of the men from Duntroon College were furnishedto the Defence Department. If so, will they be laid upon the : table of the Senate, or will other publicity be given to them ?
– Certain reports were received, and I shall have them looked up with a view to having them laid onthe table of the Senate.
Mr. McLachlan’s Report.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are -
– We want it before the Estimates.
Motion (by Senator Russell) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act relating to naturalization.
Motion (by Senator Russell) proposed -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act relating to the registration of aliens.
– I have no desire to discuss the motion at length, but I called “ not formal “ with the idea of obtaining some intimation of the intention of the Government in introducing the Bill. There are some Bills which it is necessary to use all one’s efforts to prevent passing. There are others, such as the War Gratuity Bill, in regard to which one needs to exercise all possible restraint in order to enable them to pass speedily. I am inclined to think that any measure bearing the name of “ Aliens Registration Bill” indicates a desire on the part of the Government to continue the regulation of aliens by military control. The time is long since past in. this country when we want any more military interference than is necessary. I recognise that the military have doneexcellent work in their sphere for this country, but when they participate in the civil functions of government they manage the business in a way that is, at any rate, not satisfactory to me.
– There is nothing of a military nature in this Bill.
– That will satisfy me.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Russell) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act relatingto passports.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 16th April, vide page 1289) :
Clause 5 -
Payment of the war gratuity shallbe made for each day of the qualifying period of service of the member, upon or in respect of which the member earned and received from the Commonwealth the full pay of his rank.
.- I move-
That in sub-clause (2), after the word “ made the words “ in cash “ be inserted.
This amendment really raises the direct issue of whether these men should be paid. in cash or in bonds. I admit that when the Committee was considering this clause on the last day of sitting I discussed it with a little more heat than was warranted bythe situation. Heat was aroused becauseI asserted that both parties said be- fore the election that the men would be paidin cash. It is true that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) said they would bepaid in bonds negotiable at the banks. I shall merely quote the following statement by the Prime Minister as reported by the South Australian Register: -
Mr. Hughes said he had made arrangements with thebanks whereby the soldiers who want cash fortheir bonds can go there and getit. (Thunderous applause.)
Mr. Hughes afterwards corrected that; and I wish to put his correction before the Committee, because we are dealing with a matter which is ofgreat importance to a large and deserving body of people in thecommunity. He made thecorrection at [Ballarat, and I shall quote the report of the two Sydney evening papers. The Sydney Evening News said-
Questionedat Ballarat to-day concerningthe war gratuity, Mr. Hughes said” he was not correctly reported at Adelaide in saying that he had made arrangements with the banks to cash the gratuity bonds. What he did say was that he would make arrangements with the banks, and not that he had.
The Sunof the same date published the following statement from the Prime Minister : -
I did not say that Ihad made arrangements with the banks ‘to cash the bonds. What I said was that I will make arrangements with the banks, and most certainly I will.
In all sincerity I ask the Committee to view the position as it really is. I know how difficult it is for us individually to face the facts. I recognise that there may be important and grave difficulties in financing a scheme of this kind. But I have weighed those difficulties, and I have come to the conclusion that grave as they may be, even more serious difficulties will be encountered if we endeavour to sidestep them. It is quite true that during the election campaign the Prime Minister always referred to the payment of the gratuity by means of bonds. In this connexion I desire to quote a telegram from the secretary of the Diggers in Perth. It reads -
Elliott, 55 York-street, Victoria.
Perth 45 3/5 10 p.m. on 20th, for morning de livery.
Mass meeting diggers hold to-night carried resolution, returned soldiers, Western Australia, urge cash payment war gratuity. Fully support you. Furthermore, disclaim agreement between Imperial League and Fede ral Government for payment by non-negotiable bonds. Publish this.
No doubt Senator Pearce will know Mr. O’Neill. I have not quoted this wire for the purpose of influencing the Minister for Defence in this matter, but merely for the purposeof showing honorable senators how widespread is the demand for cash.
– If cash was promised to the soldiers,how could there be a demand for cash in preference to bonds?
– I am not going to enter into a discussion with the honorable senator, because he gets on my nerves. During my speech upon the second reading of the Bill I indicated several means by which the necessary sum to pay the soldiers this gratuity in cash could be obtained. One method which I mentioned was bymeans of the inflation of our note issue. If the statements of the Government are correct, we have at the present time a note issue of £57,000,000, with a gold backing of 43 per cent. Now, it will be within the recollection of many honorable senators that when the Bill authorizing the note issue was before Parliament, it was considered a perfectly safe thing to issue Commonwealth notes with a 25 per cent. goldbacking. Consequently, the Government have £40,000,000 in notes which could be put into circulation without imperilling our financial stability by reason of the possession of an unduly low gold reserve. A second way in which this money could be raised is by means of a loan. I have sufficient confidence in the people of this country to believe that if such a loan were placed upon the market it would be fully subscribed. At the present time hundreds of our business men are pledged to cash these bonds when they are issued. The Commonwealth. I submit, ought not to place them in that position. It is beneath the dignity of this Parliament to ask private individuals to cash bonds which the Government themselves will not cash. I believe that the Prime Minister has even entered into an arrangement with the State Governments under which the latter are pledged to cash a certain percentage of the bonds. “We all know how difficult is the financial position of the States at the present moment . Yet the Prime Minister has concluded an arrangement with them under which they have undertaken to cash a percentage of these bonds. My own impression is that the people of Australia realize that this Parliament is well able to conduct its financial arrangements without resorting to means of that kind. The time has not arrived when the Government should go cap in hand, either to private individuals or to the State Governments, asking them to help us out of our difficulties. Let us realize those difficulties, and let us recognise that the best way out of them is an early and final settlement with our soldiers. Somebody twitted me during the course of this debate with desiring our soldiers to take up a loan in order to pay themselves. About £ 28,000,000 is the amount involved in this gratuity, aud I believe that we can safely leave it to our soldiers to accept payment in bonds if they choose to do so. Probably half of the total amount would be accepted by them in bonds. Doubtless I shall be met with the old argument that some of our returned soldiers cannot be trusted with any considerable sum of money. I appreciate the fatherly interest which some . honorable senators are showing in the returned soldiers, but from what I have seen of the men, I have come to the conclusion that they are quite capable of looking after their own financial interests. I have shown three ways by which the money may be obtained for the payment of the gratuity in cash, and I would not mind if a process of direct taxation were resorted to in view of the fact that about £413,000,000 of the wealth of this country is in the hands of about 15,000 people. Our soldiers fought and sacrificed much for the people, and naturally those who had the most wealth had the most to gain from victory, so it is not unfair now to ask them to submit to direct taxation in order that the Government may find the money with which to ,pay the gratuity in cash. This course will be approved by those who measure these things fairly. I admit I dc- not. I think I let the balance go down in favour of the soldiers. We know how much those men who, during the war put their hundreds of thousands of pounds into war loan bonds, were glorified. We know now that every man who invested £100,000 in these bonds will draw £5,000 per year in interest during the currency of the bonds, whereas a man who suffered during the war, or his dependants if he made the supreme sacrifice, will receive compensation, only in the form of bonds non-negotiable for four years. There is no justice in this proposal at all. I ad- ‘ mit I am biased in favour of the returned soldier, but I think it would be sound policy if, even at this late hour, the Government were persuaded to pay the gratuity in cash. When men were wanted for the war, nothing was too good for them. They were told that all the earth and everything in it would be theirs for the asking, and that they were going to live on the fat of the land when they returned. Well, they have returned, and some of them are living upon the lean of the land, if not upon the husks. I am not endeavouring to embarrass the Government in this matter at all, but I think that, in the interests of the whole country, as well as in the interests of the returned - soldiers, the account should be settled at once, and in cash.
– Senator Gardiner has covered much of the ground that was traversed when last this question was under consideration, and I do not intend to follow him through his maze of arguments. He appears to be labouring under a delusion. Nobody has contended that it is impossible to raise the money to pay the gratuity in cash, and therefore all his arguments about the possibility of finding money are beside the question. Every one admits that if the war had continued the money would have been found ; but what we have been pointing out is the extreme inadvisability of providing cash at this juncture. One of Senator Gardiner’s suggestions is that we should further inflate the currency. That would not only penalize the general public, but also the returned soldiers themselves, because its immediate effect would be to increase the cost of living, and those returned soldiers who are now being settled upon the land’ would feel the pinch in common with ether members of the community. Any further inflation of our currency, as suggested by Senator Gardiner, would necessarily hinder repatriation activities. During ray second reading speech J endeavoured to show what the economic effects of a further inflation would be. If I were asked would I take £75 now in cash or £100 in bonds with a currency of two years, naturally I would prefer the cash.
That is the position of the returned soldiers, and the honorable senator is not proving anything when he endeavours to show that they would rather have cash. I remind him, however, that the organization with the strongest claim to represent the returned soldiers looked at this aspect of the question not only from their own point of view, but from the point of view of the country, and they agreed to accept bonds, though naturally they would have preferred cash. The ‘honorable senator also took up a fair amount of time endeavouring to show that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), when speaking in Adelaide, had said’ that he would get the money fromthe banks, but that matter has been definitely cleared up. No one will contend that the electors were in any doubt on this issue during the election, for not only did the Government and their supporters make it clear, but candidates representing the Opposition took good care to point out in the plainest possible manner that the Government proposal was bonds, and the Labour party’s scheme cash. I do not intend to reply to Senator Gardiner’s comments in connexion with the newspaper paragraphs, as Senator Senior and others have already shown them to be incorrect. Ido not suppose Senator Gardiner attaches undue weight to the telegram” which he read from Mr. O’Neill, but I may inform the honorable senator that the gentleman who signed the telegram has been expelled by the Returned Soldiers Association of “Western Australia, and has therefore been repudiated by the great bulk of the soldiers in that State.
– Does the Minister know what he was expelledf or ?
– For conduct which they consider reflected upon the Association.
– Possibly because he refused to “ scab.”
-It was nothing of the kind. As the question has already been fully discussed, I ask the Committee to reject the amendment.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I am going to make another attempt to- amend the clause by submitting a proposal which will reduce the immediate liability of the Commonwealth, and remove the difficulty of raising a large sum of money. I move -
That in sub-clause (2), after the word “ made,” the words “ one half in cash “be inserted.
I appeal to honorable senators to consider the financial aspect of the position, and to realize that this is not a proposal to dislocate the finances of the Commonwealth to any serious extent. The total liability under this proposal will ultimately be approximately £28,000.000, of which, about £6,000,000 or £7,000,000 is to be paid in negotiable bonds. We must also remember that a considerable number of soldiers who do not desire a cash payment will allow their money to remain, whilst they draw the interest. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has also stated that £10,000,000 worth of bonds will be redeemed next year, when the first portion of the German indemnity is paid, and that if money is not forthcoming from that source, the Government will accept the responsibility, and pay the amount. If we reduce the £28,000,000 by one-half, and take into account the £6,000,000 or £7,000,000 already arranged for, as well as the £10,000,000 to be paid in a few months’ time, the immediate liability of the Commonwealth under the proposal I am putting forward, will not be more than £6,000,000 or £7,000,000. Surely no one will say that that is a proposal that would be likely to dislocate the finances of the Commonwealth, or to cause any serious trouble.
– Would the honorable senator make it contingent upon the German indemnity being received ?
– I have just pointed out that the Prime Minister said that, whether the indemnity is received or not, the Government will undertake to pay £10,000,000. I was one of the members who had seen service who met the deputation representing the’ Returned Soldiers Democratic Association last week, and, although the representatives of that Association considered that they were entitled to the gratuity in cash, theysaid they would be satisfied, as a compromise, to receive one-half in cash. They met us in a very reasonable spirit, and we undertook to place their views before the Senate.
– The honorable senator’s proposal commits the Commonwealth to the payment of £20,000,000 immediately.
– No. I do not think it would involve an additional liability of more than from £6,000,000 to £7,000,000, as a cash payment of a similar amount has already been promised.
– It is one-half plus, not one-half less.
– My proposed amendment is to provide that one-half shall be paid in cash.
– That means an obligation of nearly £20,000,000.
– No-; only £14,000,000.
– The honorable senator must remember that we are already under an obligation to pay cash in many instances.
– I do not think the total amount would be more than £10,000,000. We have to remember that there are a number of men who are not desirous of taking cash.
– Does not the Bill now provide that a great many of the soldiers may obtain the gratuity in cash?
– If my proposal is accepted it will commit the Government to an expenditure of about £14,000,000 in cash, but, as I have said, many of the soldiers will not demand cash, but will be prepared to hold the bonds until they mature. There are others whose circumstances are not so fortunate, to whom it would be a very great boom in- deed to obtain even 50 per cent. of what I say they are justly entitled to.
– In necessitous- circumstances they can obtain the lot.
– The matter has been threshed out very fully, but I wish to reply to some statements repeated on several occasions by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce). The honorable senator argues as if the last election were fought entirely on this question. In view of the number of questions put before the electors, surely no one will say that this one question decided it. The Labour party said that they were prepared to make arrangements to pay the gratuity in cash. Candidates on the Government side said that the: Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) had on various occasions explained that although they were not prepared todo what the Labour party proposed todo, they were making such arrangements with the banks, with private firms, and in other ways, to cash the bonds, that what they proposed amounted to practically the same as the proposal of the Labour party. They fooled the soldiers into that belief, and many voted for them on that false pretence; I appeal to honorable senators toagree to the compromise.I propose. Although the executive of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League, representing probably a majority of the returned sailors and soldiers, agreed, practically under compulsion, to accept what the Prime Minister proposed, because they were told that there was no possibility of the whole amount of the gratuity being paid in cash, we know that there have been meetings of returned soldiers in all the States, protesting against their action. It has been the cause of dissension in the ranks of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers League and the formation of a new association entirely opposed to the arrangement agreed to by the executive of the original association. I submit that what I propose is a reasonable compromise, that it will not involve the finances of the Commonwealth in any serious difficulty, and will satisfy a very large number of returned soldiers who are very much dissatisfied with the present arrangement to postpone the payment of cash for the bonds to an indefinite period.
– I join issue with the statement of SenatorO’Loghlin that his proposal would commit the Commonwealth to an expenditure of only about £10,000,000. In my opinion, and I expressed it last week, the total gratuity which the Commonwealth will eventuallyhave to pay will amount to nearer £35,000,000 than £30,000,000. Assuming that it will amount to £30,000,000, Senator O’Loghlin’s proposal would commit the Commonwealthto pay £15,000,000 in cash, and I remind the honorable senator that the Bill will further commit the Government to pay in certain specific instances the full amount of the gratuity in cash as promised bythe Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). That is tobe done where a returned soldier swishes to settle on the land, to build a house, to to go into business, and where in certain circumstances the career of a returned soldier would be advanced by the payment of the gratuity in full. When we consider that in all these cases the full amount of the gratuity is to be paid, it will be seen that, if in addition to that,half the total gratuity has also to be paid under Senator O’Loghlin’s proposal, the Commonwealth will be committed to the payment in cash of an amount nearer £20,000,000 than the £10,000,000 he has stated. On the question of the position submitted to the electors, I can speak from a considerable personal experience in connexion with the campaign in New South Wales. There was no doubt at all in the minds of the electors as to how the candidates on either side stood in regard to this question. At practically every meeting at which I helped the campaign of the National party I was asked ‘the question, “Are you in favour of paying the war gratuity in cash ?” andany reply was along the lines indicated by the Prime Minister in the Sydney Town Hall, in which he was definite, and, to my mind, very reasonable, when he saidthat all the soldiers could not get cash. All the evidence supports the view thatthe Bill as before the Senate meets the commitment of the Prime Minister and the National party in the electioncampaign, and, so faras I am concerned, I am not going tovote for its extension.
Senator PEARCE . (Western Australia-
Minister for Defence) [3.58.]. - I wish only to ask theCommittee not to accept SenatorO’Loghlin’s amendment.The Government feel that they have gonea longway to meetallnecessitousand hard cases. Some of the State Governments are prepared to cashthe gratuity bonds, a number of (private employerswilldo so, (the bonds -may be (transferred in payment for shares in approved co-operative companies, and the Repatriation Department will take the bonds in payment of liabilities to it. Generally speaking, it may be said that all hard and necessitous cases will be met under the Bill as it stands.
SenatorGARDINER (New South Wales) [3:59]. - I very gladly support the amendment. I do so because I believe itwouldbe oneconcession made in the Bill which would satisfy all the returned soldiers. The deputation I had the honour to introduce to the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) last week firmly, forcibly, and, I think, very reasonably, put before -him a demandfora percentage payment in cash. In the petition which I had the honour to present to the Senate to-day, honorable senators will recollect there is a request for a 50 per cent. cash payment. I think that the Senate should attimesrise above the idea that what the Government has decided is unalterable, and should realize that they are individually responsible to the electors of the Commonwealth. I hear a laugh from my friend Senator Senior. I use the word ‘ ‘ friend ‘ ‘ in the parliamentary sense. I am amused at it, for the reason that when we were last considering the measure, and I quoted from certain newspapers to show that the Prime Minister had promised the returned soldiers negotiable bonds - that arrangements would be made with the banks and business people to cash the bonds - Senator Senior actually rose in his place and, in order to show that I was not speaking truthfully, read a long statement, part of which was signed by Mr. Hughes.
– It was all signed by him.
– But what did I find on cross-questioning the honorable senator? I found that the statement came from Mr. Archdale Parkhill.
– No, direct from Mr. Hughes. .
– The honorable senator persists iri saying that the statement was not signed by Mr. Archdale Parkhill, but I have his own word for it that it was.
– Suppose Parkhill did send it out, it was signed by Mr. Hughes.
– I asked Senator Senior where the statement came from, and he said it was signed by Archdale Parkhill, of Sydney.
– No. The honorable senator would hold a telegraph messenger responsible for the substance of a tele-, gram he delivers.
– Did not the honorable senator, in reply to my crossquestioning, say that the statement he quoted was signed, “Authorized by Archdale Parkhill”?
– That was the Weekly Notes, in which the paragraph I read appeared.
– The honorable senator was making the quotation to show that I was untruthful, and I naturally wished to know what he was quoting from. He told me that he was quoting from Weekly Notes, issued by Archdale Parkhill. The incident is quite clear in my mind. It is also interesting for the reason that it shows that Senator Senior and his friends on the other side evidently had their speeches prepared for them ‘and issued to them in the form of weekly notes. They to not allowed to go outside those notes.
– The same as the honorable senator’s side with The Worker.
– Of course, we have been twitted with that all our lives, and are still alive. It is quite fresh, however, to learn that honorable senators opposite had to get their weekly notes.
– And the honorable senator had to get The Worker.
– Yes, and I am quite proud of it. I got a lot of excellent stuff out of The Worker to fire at honorable senators opposite at the last election. Here were weekly notes supplied to candidates of the party opposite. I can imagine the bosses of the Prime Minister and honorable senators opposite preparing these weekly notes, and getting this paragraph signed by the Prime Minister ‘ and sent out by the official organizer of the National campaign, Mr. Archdale Parkhill. He sent out the . weekly notes, and Mr. Hughes, having signed the statement, how could we expect Senator Senior to break away from it? Senator Senior quoted this statement by Mr. Archdale Parkhill as proof that what I said was unreliable. If I wished to unduly occupy the time of the Committee I could quote another letter from Mr. Archdale Parkhill to the employers, telling them that they were in danger from the Labour party, and asking them for a substantial campaign fund, shall I say, to slaughter the Labour party.
– The honorable senator is getting rather wide of the question.
– I feel sure that I am, in replying in Committee to something which Senator Senior said in the Senate.
– The honorable senator cannot do it.
– If the Standing Orders permitted, I might go a little further, and say that the honorable senator was professing to reply to a statement I made, buttressed by a number of quotations from at least half-a-dozen newspapers. The Prime Minister said that he had made arrangements with the banks to pay cash. Carrying my memory back again, I recollect that the banker s, through their organization, said that they had made no such arrangement.
– Showing that the whole thing was a mistake.
– It is wonderful how one’s mind is refreshed by interjections. Then Mr. Hughes made the statement, “What I said was, not that I had made arrangements, but that I will make arrangements, and so I will.” I am grateful to Senator Senior for his quotation over the signature of Archdale Parkhill, who is really the organizing secretary of the National party in New South Wales. I can quite realize that, on this question of the payment of the gratuity in cash or bonds, honorable senators opposite were tied up body and soul by their bosses.
– You are still thinking of your party and The Worker.
– It was under the organization of the Labour party that my honorable friend found his way into Parliament. He should sometimes show a little love for the old party that gave him his opening.
– And you might have some regard for the men with whom you sat so long, but you have no regard for anybody but yourself.
– That was the organization which also gave Senator Senior an opportunity of finding his way into Parliament. Without its influence he would not have found his way into any Parliament. I admit also that but for the Labour movement I would not have found my way into Parliament, because the other side had no time for men like me, nor have they any time for men like Senator Senior or Senator Newland, except when they will speak from the paper called Weekly Notes issued by the secretary of the organization.
– You should speak from The Worker: that is the gospel.
– I frequently speak from’ The Worker, which puts most excellent arguments. I wish the whole community would readit.
– You should read Archdale Parkhill’s Weekly Notes, which is just as good as The Worker.
– There is this difference, that The Worker is the expression of opinion of those workers who find the money to run it, and Archdale Parkhill’s publications are the expression of opinion of the organized employers of New South Wales, as can be seen from the letters in which he asked them for money to help himin the campaign against the “ dangerous “ Labour party. I am indebted to Senator Senior for letting us know that members on the other side have to speak and vote as they are directed. Unless we can prolong the discussion on this issue until they get permission to vote for half cash, it is evident that they will feel compelled to vote for no cash.For the next two years the obligations under this Bill will amount to at least £20,000,000. Here is a proposal emanating from the soldiers themselves for £14,000,000 on the nail, leaving the Government to make their other arrangements as they think best. That is a reasonable proposition, and apart from the political aspect of the matter, I believe the Committee would be well advised to get away from the hard-and-fast attitude that some members adopt - that the Government have settled on these terms, and they have no mind or will outside the Government’s decision. Here is a chance to make a very slight concession which will save the soldiers from the necessity of holding meetings to ask for fair treatment.. The soldiers put this proposal forward as a reasonable compromise, although it is not all they ask for, but if it is granted they say they will cease their agitation and let the thing go. Senator Senior first of all denies that Mr. Hughes ever promised the soldiers that their bonds would be negotiable at the banks, and then he says that Mr. Hughes contradicted it. Mr. Hughes never contradicted it. He denied saying, “ I have made arrangements with the banks,” and asserted that what he did say was that he intended to make arrangements with the banks, adding that he would do so. There has been plenty of time for those arrangements to be made. To show what the banks can do, when we initiated the Wheat Pool it was first a question of an overdraft of £8,000,000, but I think before I left office the overdraft had grown to £14,000,000. I believe that afterwards it became £18,000,000 or £19,000,000. That was during the war, so that even then, with all our pressing needs upon us, we were able to use that large sum to finance the Pool. Surely we are in a position now to pay a sum of only £14,000,000. What is that to a great, rich people like the people of Australia?
– But the Wheat Pool overdraft had British Government obligations behind it.
– What British obligations were behind it any more than are behind this matter ?
– The obligation to pay for the wheat.
– Britain had not bought the wheat when that overdraft was started. There was no proposal then to sell the wheat to Britain. The first idea simply was to pool the wheat, and manage it. If it comes to the question of Britain financing it, if Britain would sell our wool, and pay for it, there would be any amount of money in this country. Senator Pratten himself said the other day that from £40,000,000 to £60,000,000 was to come this way from that source. The idea of talking about Britain financing the Wheat Pool, when £60,000,000 worth of our wool is locked up by the British Government, who are letting their own wool-growers get 200 and 300 per cent. increased prices !
– You are evading the point of my interjection.
– My reply is that when the Wheat Poolwas financed, there was no intention to sell to Britain, and it wasa long time afterwards that. Britain came in as a purchaser.
– When the £18,000,000 overdraft occurred, the British Government had. certain obligations to the Wheat Pool in Australia.
– The honorable senator is doing a much quicker side-step now than he accused me of doing. I admit that Britain had undertaken certain obligations in regard to our wheat when the £18,000,000 overdraft had been reached,
– And long before that.
– Senator Pearce is prepared’ to buttress any statement as against me. The other night he denied a statement made by the Prime Minister, although he was in England when the Prime Minister made it. Then; during the dinner hour, he sought the Prime Minister and obtained his permission to deny it officially as his mouthpiece. I think the Wheat Pool overdraft was up to £12,000,000 or £14,000,000 when, I left office.
– We had sold the wheat before the overdraft reached £14.000,000.
– The honorable senator would do well to refresh his memory before he makes a positive assertion on that point. I recognise that the little clique in the dug-out at theDefence Department keep him so busy that he has very little time to attend to other matters. My point is that the Wheat Pool overdraft eventually reached £18,000,000 and I am glad that Senator Pratten has corroborated that figure. We have now before us a proposal to pay, only £14,000,000 to the returned soldiers. Not only was the British Government behind the ser vice which those, men undertook, but what is better, the soldiers have the good-will of every Australian behind them in this matter. There is not an Australian who does not, in his heart, believe that, if. it can be financed, the money should be paid on the nail. The Australians are a rich people, ready to pay the money, and waiting for a lead from the Government. They do not want any of this foolery about our not being able to do it. I can quite understand that Senator Pratten wants the rich business interests of this country, which he represents, to have all their money for the making of more money. But. if I had my way, before any one made another penny profit in this country, the debt’ we owe to the soldiers would be paid. I am pleased, therefore, to support SenatorO’Loghlin’s amendment, which meets the Government more than halfway. It is much more reasonable from that point of view than the one I moved. It also meets with the- approval of the soldiers who have assembled at meetings, or who have approached Parliament by deputation, or who have petitioned the Senate. I appeal to. honorable senators opposite to forget for once their party position, and to realize that they are senators of Australia, dealing with the futureof Australia. I therefore urge them to grant the men the concession of 50 per cent. cash that they ask for.
. -I wish to correct a few of the misstatements that Senator -Gardiner persists in. When I made the quotation the other evening I told thehonorable senator distinctly that the document was signed by W. M. Hughes, Prime Minister. Mr Hughes had ample opportunity to say that that was not his signature if the document was not genuine. He has not said so.
SenatorGardiner. - Will you explain that part where you mentioned Archdale Parkhill?
– I said that I would quote Mr. Hughes’ own words, and I did. so. The honorable senator disputes, that statement, and says that they are Parkhill’s words. I say distinctly that they are not Parkhill’s. I. did not quote Mr. . Parkhillin that connexion. The honorable senator asked me where Mr. Hughes? statement appeared, andI toldhim. The document was distributed so widely that every speaker on the National side had a copy. No doubt Mr. Hughes also had a copy, yet he has not contradicted it. When Senator Gardiner says that it was Parkhill’s statement, he says what is not a fact.
– He does not believe it himself.
-But he wants others to believe it, and he says that he thanks me for saying that my authority was Archdale Parkhill. I made no such statement. What I said was that I would quote the terms of Mr. Hughes’ war gratuity scheme as signed by himself. We, as speakers on the National side, had either to accept those terms or practically to show our want of confidence in the Government, and we had no such want of confidence inthem. I assert distinctly that the words which Senator Gardiner is trying to put in my mouth never came from me. The statement which the honorable senator tries to make the Committee believe that I made came really from himself. Between my statement and that of Senator Gardiner there is a great gulf fixed, and there is no possibility of getting over it. In the statement I quoted, Mr. Hughes says, “ Following are the main features and latest details of war gratuity.” Archdale Parkhill could not say that.
– Who issued that to you?
– It does not’ matter. I might as well ask the honorable senator who issues The Worker.If the honorable senator find been as diligent whenlooking up the newspaper that he made one quotation from, he would have found in the same issue a half-page advertisement with a facsimile ofMr. Hughes’ signature underneath, containing exactly the same terms that I have quoted. If the honorable senator’s reasoning is correct, I might as well say that all the paragraphs that he has cut out and laid at Mr. Hughes’ door are the statements of the paperspublishing them, and not the statements. of Mr. Hughes. When he quotes from the Argus or the Age that Mr,. Hughes has said so and so, he is quoting, according to his own reasoning, the opinions of. the Argus and the Age. Will he say that that reasoning fits one side of the case and not the other? He is silent when ‘he sees what a false position he has got into. He himself dug the pit, and has fallen into it.
-Order ! I must ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the amendment before the Committee. .
– I claim the right to reply to Senator Gardiner, who challenged my accuracy. He says that Senator O’Logh lin’s amendment is very moderate. It may be so in his eyes.
– It is a fair compromise.
– Is it? Later in the Bill provisions are made for the payment of cash in certain necessitous cases. If this amendment is a fair compromise, we shall have to wipe out the whole of those provisions. Will the honorable senator agree to that course?
– That is not involved in my. proposal.
SenatorSENIOR.- It will be involved, if this is a fair compromise. The amendment will put everybody on the same level. There is no such purpose in the honorable senator’s mind.
– Certainly not.
– Very well. The honorable senator desires us to sanction the payment of half this gratuity in cash. If he will peruse the later portions of the Bill, he will see that provision has already been made by means of which one-half of the balance that would then remain will be paid in cash. In other words, if what he regards as a fair compromise be accepted, not less than three- fourths of the gratuity will be paid in cash, and’ only the balance in bonds. Senator Gardiner has suggested that the soldiers themselves would take up these bonds. But my own view is that we should not depart from the scheme of the gratuity which was before us during the recent election campaign. We have no mandate to do that, and by adhering to the terms of the measure, we shall be respecting the pledges upon which we were elected to this Chamber. That is the reason why I intend to abide by the provisions of the Bill,not because of Mr. Archdale Parkhill. A definite scheme was put before the electors which candidates for this Senate could either advocate or oppose. We choseto advocate it, and all the camouflage of Senator Gardiner cannot concealthat fact.
– I have no desire to continue this argument with Senator Senior, but when he charges me with having misquoted him, I am bound to show precisely what occurred. I. know that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) said that the gratuity would be paid in bonds, but I quoted quite a number of cases in which he was truthfully reported to have stated that he would make those bonds negotiable by banks, by private individuals, and others. This is what appears in the Hansard report of the incident, to which referencehas been made. Whilst Senator Senior was speaking upon the motion for the second reading of this Bill, I interjected -
You are quoting a document, but I want to know what it is.
Senator Senior in reply said ;
I have given the honorable senator the name of the document - Weekly Notes - which was supplied to speakers on the Nationalist side, so as to guide thorn in their utterances, hut this,I take it, is a distinct document that was signedby the Prime Minister, so that we should clearly and emphatically state what he had promised.
– Was that published before the election ?
– Weekly Notes was published and sent to us week by week before the election. The full title is Weekly Notes for the Information of Members and Speakers. It was published over the name Archdale Parkhill, of Hunter-street, Sydney, so that this comes right from the city that my honorable friend conies from.
Now I invite those who readHansard to judge between Senator Senior and myself. He declared that it was a signed statement by Mr. Hughes which came from Archdale Parkhill.
– Archdale Parkhill was the publisher, but not the author of it.
– At that stage Senator Barnes interjected, and his interjection is interesting because it shows the impression which was left upon his mind. He interjected -
It was not the Prime Minister, then, that you were quoting ?
To which Senator Senior replied -
I am quoting the Prime Minister’s statement, and I have given the responsibility for it.
Evidently the responsibility for it was Archdale Parkhill.
– Wh at other meaning can be placed upon it?
– I told the honorable senator distinctly that the Prime Minister was my authority.
– I have no desire to delay the Committee. I came to Melbourne with the very best intentions, particularly in regard to Senator Senior. But when he makes a statement upon the authority of Archdale Parkhill, and quotes it as if it were an effective answer to me, I am bound to reply to him.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I desire particularly in connexion with paragraph a of this clause to raise a matter which concerns the personnel of the Royal Australian Navy. The clause is really an explantion of who are qualified to receive the gratuity which is set out in clause 3. Reading paragraph a of the clause in connexion with paragraphs a and d of clause 3, it is fairly clear that even members of the Royal Australian Navy are not entitled to any gratuity unless they actually went to sea. There seems to be an injustice in connexion with this matter. It might very well happen that two men were members of our Naval Forces before the war. One of them would, perhaps, be at sea, whilst the other would be serving his shore term. When war broke out it might possibly be the turn of one of those men to. go to sea, and of the other to come on shore. In such circumstances the two men would get unequal gratuities. The man who was at sea, possibly, for only a few months, and who was then ordered to perform shore duties, might get the full gratuity of ls. 6d. per day from the date of his embarkation, while the other, owing merely to the exigencies of the service, might receive only half that sum. Yet the latter might have seen more sea service than the former. I do not wish to see injustices done under the Bill. I have no desire to open the door any wider, but where we have already opened it, we should endeavour as far as possible to minimize injustice. In the case of the personnel of our Royal Australian Navy, the jig-sawing ‘between shore duty and ship duty ought not to prejudice men who in that service were upon an equality.
– On the face of things there would appear to be something in the contention of the honorable senator. But a closer examination will show that the clause will not work out as unequally as he assumes it will. The position of the members of our Naval Forces and that of members of the Australian Imperial Force is very similar. The service of the naval men on shore corresponds with the service of the Australian Imperial Force men while they were in camp iri Australia. There were members of the Australian Imperial Force who were in camp for quite a long time, and they will get no gratuity for that period of their service. Their gratuity commences from the date of embarkation. Those naval men who served on a seagoing ship at the outbreak of the war are in the same position as men of the Australian Imperial Force who embarked from Australia at the outbreak of the war; they will get the gratuity for the whole period up to the signing of peace There was another class of naval men doing shore service in the Navy up to a certain date, say in 1916, and who then went on board a sea-going ship. They will get the gratuity from the date of starting sea service, and are in the same position as members of the Australian Garrison Artillery who served on shore up till the time of the formation of the Siege Brigade, and then embarked for oversea service. It is true that the two classes of naval men will not get the same amount of gratuity, but the position is the same in the Australian Imperial Force. A man who embarked in 1914, was wounded on the day of the landing at Gallipoli, came back to Australia, and was discharged in 1915, will get the gratuity from the date of embarkation up to the signing of peace. Another man who embarked in 1914 and served throughout the war will get the same amount of gratuity. The Government felt that as the man first mentioned was under miltary orders, and did not come back of his own volition, but was returned and discharged by order of the military authorities, he should be in the same position as a man who served up till the signing of the armistice. If we follow the suggestion made with regard to the naval service, we shall be placing men in the Navy in a different position; that is to say, we shall be regarding shore service as qualifying for the gratuity. I desire to supply some additional information, which I was unable to give last week, concerning what is meant by a seagoing ship. It means a ship of war, a mine-sweeper, a patrol vessel patrolling overseas, a merchant ship sailing overseas, merchant cruisers, and overseas transports. The definition may include other vessels which have been overlooked, but it does include those I have mentioned, and it will be seen, therefore, that the Naval Forces are being treated on all fours with the Australian Imperial Force.
– The Minister’s reply does not, to my mind, adequately cover the whole of the points which I raised. Under paragraph b of clause 3 it is within the province of the prescribed authority to pay the gratuity to a member of the Naval Forces (other than a member of the Auxiliary Service) who did not serve in a sea-going ship between 4th August, 1914, and 11th November, 1918. I am not yet quite clear as to how men of the Royal Australian Navy are being treated under the Bill. If the Minister tells us that it is the intention of the Government to pay them ls. a day gratuity while on shore duty, and ls. 6d. while at sea, I think that would meet the position. But if men who joined the Navy before the outbreak of war, and who merely, by reason of the fact that they were on shore service for a portion of the war period, will get nothing, while other naval ratings who did not go to sea at all are going toget the gratuity,then I think a glaring injustice will be done to the former. It seems to me that everyman who was in the Royal Australian Navy at the declaration ofwar is entitled to a gratuity ofsome sort. Ido not want this Bill to inflictan injusticeupon any memberof the Royal Australian Navy, and I point out that under paragraph b of clause 3 it is possible, in certain circumstances,for them to be unfairly treated. 1 think it will suffice if the Minister states thatthe prescribed authority will so administer the Act as to avoid injustice.
– There is a good deal in what SenatorPratten has said, though, withoutmaking any reflection upon the Committee, I am satisfied that, from the unreasonabletreatment meted out to a reasonable proposal of mine, it is hopeless to get anything better ‘in the Bill than is in it already. ‘The position of the Naval Forces, including the Naval Reserve, shouldbe again submitted to Cabinet for reconsideration. I ask the Minister to see if something cannot be done, as I feel satisfied that mature consideration willpersuade the Government to alter their minds.
– Senator Gardiner apparently assumes that the Government have not really given careful consideration to the points raised. We have done that; and I respectfully suggest that if Senator Pratten had listened to my second-reading speech, he would have known that this phase of the. question was fully dealt with. I cannot accept Senator Gardiner’s suggestion, as I do not admit that the Government have not fullyconsidered all the points referred to. If the honorable senator will look at clause 4, he will find that the rate of war gratuitypayable inrespect of service by any person mentionedin paragraphs a, c, d or e (ii) of sub-section 1 of clause ‘3, is tobe1s. 6d.a day. Paragraphs a, c and d read -
All these men are entitled to1s. 6d. a day. The rate ofwar gratuity is referred to in sub-paragraph 2 of clause 4, which provides that the amount payable in respect of the serviceof any person specified inparagraphsbore (ii) of subjection. I shall be1s.per day. Now : those mentioned in paragraph b aremembers ofthe Naval Forces, other thanmembersofthe Auxiliary Service,who,as Ihave pointed out, did not serve in asea-going shipbetween4th August, 1.914, and11th November,1 918. These men occupy a position similar to “those who were training in camp forthe Australian ImperialForce. Theywill receive1s. a day, with a maximum limit of six:months. Thehonorable senator will see, therefore, that we have dealt with the two classes ofcases in an exactly similar manner ; but if it is now proposed to bring in the Auxiliary Service of the Navy, we must also bring -in the Auxiliary Military Forces. I am not going to elaborate my argument against this point again, as it all appears in Hansard.
. -My reference wastoparagraph a of clause 5, which governs one ortwo of the cases quoted by the Minister.The paragraph mentioned deals with the qualifyingperiod of war service for a gratuity, sofarasthe Naval Forces are concerned ; and I mentioned the position of some members of the NavalForces, who may not have served in sea-going ships owing to the fact that it was their turnfor shore duty for some portion of the war period.
– Ifhe enlisted for sea service he would receive1s. a day for , a maximum period of six months, but if he was in the auxiliary forceshe would not receive anything.
SenatorGARDINER (New South Wales) [4.51]. - I am sorry the Minister did not give my suggestion more mature consideration. Perhaps in my hurry I created a wrong impression in his mind that the Government had not given the Bill the fullest attention. I think the Minister willrealize fromthe discussion thathasalready taken placein the Committeethat there is every reason why the arguments that have been brought forward should be further considered by Cabinet. I feel sure that many of the amendments that have been submitted have been defeated merely because those honorable senators supporting the Governmenthave loyally followed their leaders, and I think the Government would be well advised, particularly in connexionwith Senator Pratten’samendment, iffurtherconsideration was given to the points that have been raised. During the discussioncertain doubt has been raised in my mind, and I feel sure that otherhonorable senatorsare also of the opinionthat a more satisfactory measure shouldbe placed on the statute-book.
– The honorable senator could not have been in doubt, because he movedto include the auxiliary forces.
SenatorGARDINER. - In a particular portion of the Bill. In regard to the military reserves, upon which I divided the Committee, the Minister must realize that hehad the supportof his party more oat of a sense of loyalty than of equity. In view of the criticism and arguments in the Committee, I again appeal to the Minister to bring the views that have been expressed here, particularly as regards the naval men, again before Cabinet. He has stated that a line must be drawn somewhere, and if1s.6d. per day has been fixed for certain services,1s. a day forother services, why should not the Government consider the suggestion of allowing a payment of 9d. per day for other services? If the Minister had heard the claims of these men as they were submitted to the deputation, I believe he would be in the same position as I am in. I feel sure that I am not gaining by arguing the matter further, and I therefore ask the Minister to reconsider the whole question of the gratuity to be paid, particularly as regards the naval men.
– The statement of the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) : has very largely cleared up the misapprehension that apparently exists, and for the sake of clarity may I repeat that I understand that a man who was in theRoyal Australian Navy before the outbreak of war will receive1s. per day for the period he was engaged on shore and 1s. 6d. per day for the time he was servingat sea.
– That is not so.
SenatorPRATTEN.- Then, as an example, may I instance the case of one man who was in the Navy and who started his sea service at the outbreak of war. He wouldbe entitled to1s. 6d. per day until the signing of the Peace Treaty. Another man in thesame service -may have been atsea, but at the outbreak of war was serving ashore. Bus gratuity would not commence untilhe went tosea, although he had been a member of the Royal Australian Navy before the outbreak of war.
– His gratuity of 1s. 6d. per day would commence afterhe joined a sea-going ship. He would receive a gratuity of1s. per day if he were a member of a sea-going ship, and was undergoing a period of training, with a limitation of six months, asin the case of themen of the Australian Imperial Force.
– He would not receive the full amount, although he had been at sea before the outbreak of war.
– Those men who were in the Navy on sea-going ships at the outbreak of war will receive the gratuity from that date until the signing of the Peace Treaty. During the war the Navy had to be recruited from men who were at the Williamstown and other depots for training purposes - just as men were at Broadmeadows and other military camps for military purposes - and they were enlisted for sea service. They will not receive the gratuity except incertain cases which I shall outline later, until the date on which they joined a sea-going ship, and they are in thesame position as a soldier who will receive the gratuity only from the date of embarkation. There is, however, one set of conditions which varies both. At the signing of the armistice there were a number of members of the Australian Imperial Force in camp who had not embarked,just as there were a number of men at Williamstown and other naval depots who had not joined vessels. In each of these cases the men will receive a gratuity of1s. per day from the date they enlisted or joined up, but it will not cover a period of more than six months. Senator Pratten is thinking of a number of men who had seen sea service but who were not employed on sea-going vessels.
– But who had been on board sea-going vessels.
– Such men will not receive the gratuity for that period of shore service, but will receive1s. 6d. per day for the time they embarked on a seagoing ship.
– Notwithstanding the fact that they were active members of the Naval Forces.
– Yes, they are in the same position as certain members of the Military Forces.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 -
From the amount of any war gratuity payable under this Act, there shall be deducted the amount of any overpayment made by the Commonwealth to the person to whom, or in respect of whose service, the gratuity is payable, where the overpayment was caused by fraud or deception on the part of that person.
– I move -
That all the words after the word “ deducted “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words : - “ (a) any amount due to the Commonwealth by the person to whom, or in respect of whose service, the gratuity is payable, where the indebtedness of that person to the Commonwealth was caused by fraud, deception or misappropriation on his part; or
any amount due to the Minister for Repatriation or the Repatriation Commission by the person to whom, or in respect of whose service, the gratuity is payable, where that person has improperly disposed of property belonging to the Minister for Repatriation or the Repatriation Commission, or property over which the Minister for Repatriation or the Repatriation Commission holds security.”
Paragraph a repeats the words already in the clause, but puts them in better form, and provides for the payment from the gratuity of certain amounts due to the Repatriation Department. There are instances where a returned soldier has obtained an advance from the Department for the purchase of furniture which he has improperly disposed of without repaying the advance. The amendment will enable the repayment to be deducted from the gratuity.
– During the second-reading debate I discussed the question of soldiers owing money to the Repatriation Department in connexion with homes. ‘ I do not know whether this will be the proper clause in which to insert an amendment to provide that any arrears that are due may be deducted from the gratuity. Under the housing scheme the Department can accept bonds in payment of a home. But I have been informed by the Housing Commissioner in South Australia that the soldiers in that State are in arrears in the matter of repayments to the extent of . £4,000, principally on account of sickness or unemployment. The Commissioner has informed me that when these men have been approached for payment of their arrears they have frequently stated that they will liquidate their liabilities when their gratuity is available. It is quite likely that most of them will be only too glad to avail themselves of this opportunity, but there may be others who will shirk their responsibility.
– The honorable senator is referring to the case of a soldier who wishes to put his bonds in as payment.
– Yes ; there may be some who are quite willing to do so, whilst, on the other hand, there are others who may not do so unless compelled .
SenatorPearce. - That is provided for.
– I am anxious to have a provision included in the Bill to meet the case of the men who refuse to pay. The Housing Commissioner in South Australia has not the power to’ compel the authorities to deduct a sum equivalent to their arrears, and that officer is anxious that his Department should be protected. I hope, if it is not possible to include some such provision in this clause, that something will be done to enable the Housing Commissioner to collect the amounts due to him.
.- The Bill provides that a returned soldier may himself make payments due by him to a Housing Commissioner with these bonds; but it does not give a Housing Commissioner or the Government the power to deduct arrears of payment from the bonds without the soldier’s consent. I do not think that ‘the Bill should provide for that, and for this reason : Under the War Service Homes Act the Housing Commissioner is given full power to protect himself and his Department. He has the power under that Act to enforce the payment of interest and arrears, and he has the security of the houses themselves. It is unnecessary, therefore, to superimpose upon the provisions of the War Service Homes Act an obligation upon the returned soldier to pay arrears under that Act from the bonds provided for under this Bill. I feel that it would not be right to provide for what would practically be a mortgage on these bonds for the protection of a Department that has already been given full powers to protect itself.
– This is one of those amendments which should not be submitted without honorable senators having an opportunity to see it in print.
– It was circulated lastweek.
– Then that removes that difficulty; but I may say that it is a very far-reaching amendment intended to safeguard the public purse in certain respects by enabling the Government to enforce obligations upon defaulters. I am justified in what I have said in the matter by the fact that farreaching as the clause is, it was overlooked by the Government in the first draft of the Bill, and we have now a statement from Senator Newland that a further amission from the measure is protested against by the authorities concerned hi providing homes for soldiers in South Australia.
– It would apply in the same way in every State.
– That is’ so; but the honorable senator specially mentioned South Australia. That is an aspect of the matter to which the Government might give further consideration, and it illustrates my contention that the whole question did not receive the full consideration which its importance deserved.
– It occurs to me that under paragraph b of the amendment the Minister for Repatriation is protected, but his deputy in other States carrying out the work which he carries out in Victoria would not be protected.
– All property is vested in the Minister .-
– If that is so, the case mentioned by Senator Newland is provided for.
– All property is covered, but the clause does not cover arrears of rent.
– Arrears of rent will be money due to the Minister for Repatriation. My fear is that where, as in this case, the Minister for Repatriation and the Repatriation Commission are specifically included,- all other persons, though acting as deputies, will be excluded. That is a matter which I think should be looked into.
– It has been looked into.
– If the Minister for Repatriation undertakes certain work in New South Wales he may ‘be covered by the clause, but his deputy, appointed for economy in Western Australia, may not be protected in carrying out the same work, and may refuse to act because of this lack of protection. I hope that the matter will be given full consideration before the Bill is finally dealt with.
.- I .can assure Senator Senior that the matter to which he refers has been fully considered. I arn informed that the Crown Law officers advise that the clause covers all cases. All property is vested not in any subsidiary officer or committee, but in the Minister, and in the amending Repatriation Bill now under consideration in another place it i« to be. vested in the Repatriation Commission, who will be able to recover property disposed of by fraud.
– I agree with the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) that the officer carrying on repatriation work under the War Service Homes Act in South Australia will have full power to do anything that the Repatriation Commissioner could do. The clause covers all property, and if a returned soldier sells a horse or a waggon off a farm, steps can be taken to recover the property if improperly disposed of. The point I raised was that the Repatriation Commissioner will not have the right under this clause to deduct from the gratuity payable to a returned soldier arrears due by him under the War Service Homes
Act. In South Australia the repatriation authorities are satisfied with the Bill in every other respect; but they think that there should be power to deduct from the gratuity amounts due for repayments and arrears of rent.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses8 to 12 agreed to.
Clause 13 -
In the case of a war gratuity payable to-
In all other cases payment shallbe made by means of Treasury bonds maturing not later than the thirty-first day of May, One thousand nine hundred and twenty-four:
Provided that, in the case of. a war gratuity not exceeding in amount, such amount as is fixed by the Treasurer, payment may be made in cash.
– I have quite a number of amendments to move on this clause. In order to allay the possible impatience of the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), I may say that they are amendments which were submitted in the shape of requests by the deputation that waited on the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). He gave no satisfactory expression of his intention to provide for them in the Bill, and they have been Handed to me in a form in which they may be moved as amendments to this’ clause. I propose to move them, because there is not one of the requests that I consider unreasonable. If it were I should have turned it down. I shall submit the amendments in a way which; I hope, will cause the least irritation to the Minister, and’ if, upon consideration; he thinks that the Government might accede to any of them without adding too much to the financial lia- bility of the Commonwealth under this measure, I hope he will realize that the Senate has some power of legislation, and that amendments may be made by the Senate quite constitutionally. I move -
That after paragraph (f) the following new paragraph be inserted: - “ (g) All men unemployed or undergoing vocational training.”
– A little while ago, when I had moved an amendment which certainly does not seem tome to be so far-reaching as that which the honorable senator has just moved, he complained that he had not been given notice of it. Might I reciprocate now, and complain that this is the first I have heard of the amendment now proposed, and I am pretty safe in saying that it has not. been circulated, whereas the amendment I moved; and to which the honorable senator took exception was circulated last week. It is a bit of a bomb-shell tospring on the Committee at this juncture a proposal which is certainly going: to widen the area of cash payments, and to an unknown extent. The amendment says,. “All men unemployed.” Is there to be any period for which they have been unemployed? Are they to be unemployed for a day, a week, a month, or a year?It also includes “all men undergoing vocational training.” They are already provided’ for. under the Repatriation Act. Sustenance is found for them, with tools of trade and certain other things of a very substantial character-. Some of those undergoing vocational training are really in better circumstances than many in private employment. The amendment is not a wellbalanced proposition. It is too vague, and I ask the Committeetorejectit.
– The Mnister’scomplaint that I gave him no notice of the amendment is well grounded but on this day week a deputation of the soldiers waited on Mr. Hughes and put the same proposition before him. They gave him, also, a typewritten copy of it. I might reasonably have supposed; that what the deputation put before the Prime Minister would be forwarded by him to the Minister in charge of the Bill: I think I gave the Minister notice, when speaking on the second reading, of this and other amend- merits. There is a very easy way for the Government to avoid paying any extra money in cash to unemployed soldiers, and that is by keeping all the men employed! I have a number of similar amendments to move, and take the opportunity of notifying the Minister now of their purport. I have one dealing with all blinded or partially blinded men; another dealing with men who have lost one or more limbs, and another dealing with all incapacitated men.
– The blinded and totally incapacitated men are provided for in paragraph d of clause 13.
– I shall be pleased to find that they are. These amendments are just as they were given to me by the deputation. I did not gather from the Ministerial reply to that deputation that those cases were provided for; and evidently those who drafted the amendments did not know it; It may not appeal to the Minister or other honorable senators to be a very serious thing to be out of work; but if a man is unemployed; at what better time could this moneybe given to him? It is apparent, on the face of it; that ifa man has no income, it will help him most to pay him the gratuity now instead of at some future time. We have just passed a clause providing that the soldiers have no right to the gratuity. I hope the Minister will see that it does not become the privilege of some in the way of a gift and merely a promise to others. It would not cost the Government much to accept- the amendment! I would a great deal rather see the Government keep all employed, so that we should have no unemployed soldiers at all.
– I wish to make sure that allthe blinded men are providedfor inthe Bill.
– The honorable senator will find the provision in paragraph d.
– On reading that paragraph, I find that I am wrong in that respect, and that the Minister is right.. I, shall therefore not propose the amendment which, I had prepared.
SenatorPRATTEN (New South Wales) [5.26] - The clause deals with the prescribed cases in which cash is tobe found in lieu of bonds. I find from a subsequent clause that the bonds are also to be accepted at their cash value by those administering the Repatriation Act or the WarService Homes Act. This clearly indicates that a soldier wishing to build a home can hand in his bonds as a deposit, and they will be treated as cash. I should like a statement from the Minister as tohow the Government propose to treat other soldiers, outside of those specified cases. A soldier may want to gointo business and to dealwithhis bonds as cash, and it may be found greatly to his interest to do so. He may want to buy land; not under the repatriation scheme, but in other directions that would beapprovedby all examining authorities. Ahundred-and-one instances could be conjured up in which; if the Government cashed the bonds, it would be very much tothe advantage of the soldier, and also of the country. The limitations are set out in the clause, but I understand that Ministerial pronouncements made inthis Chamber and elsewhere are regarded by prescribed authorities appointed on the passing of any Act as indications of the wishes of the Government regarding future administration. As I clearly understood the Prime Minister (Mi-: Hughes), in effect, to say that- where the prescribed authority found that it was for the benefit and’ good of the soldier, the bonds would be cashed even outside the limitations- imposed by the Act, I now ask the Minister to say definitely whetherit is intended to administer the Act rigidly within the four corners of what is laid down, or whether some latitude will be given, under the regulations.
.- The latitude is given under clause 15, which says -
Except as prescribed, no interest in any war gratuity, or in any Treasury bond issued or to be issued in payment of any war gratuity, shall be alienable, whether- by way or in consequence of sale, assignment; charge, execution, insolvency, or otherwise howsoever.
Where a good case can be made out for assigning the bond for some of the purposes indicated by Senator Pratten, that will bemet under clause. 15, but each case will be dealt with on its merits. The banks have also notified their readiness to accept bonds as collateral security for the purchase of land or houses.
– Outside the Repatriation Act?
– Yes. That, therefore, does not need to be provided for in the Bill, but it does not make a bond negotiable except that the bank may accept it as collateral security. It is held that clause 15 will give the Treasury power to meet certain deserving and justifiable cases without specifying them in the Bill itself.
– I call the attention of the Minister to paragraph c -
The mother of a deceased member of the Forces, if she was, prior to his death, a dependant of his.
It may be that when a young man enlisted, his mother was not dependent on him. Years have passed, the son has been killed, the father has died, and the mother is now in most undesirable circumstances. But for the war, the boy would have been her support and prop in her old age. She may be just as deserving as others for whom we have already provided. Will not this provision shut her out? I know the line has to be drawn somewhere. It is very difficult for me to find the reasonable side of the Minister’s nature, ‘because whenever I speak I seem to irritate’ him ; but I appeal to him to enlarge that paragraph in such a way that some discretion will be left. As it stands, the paragraph draws the line too tightly.
.- The honorable senator reads the paragraph as if it stood by itself, but it does not. It has to be read in conjunction with the rest of the clause. Paragraph / provides that .the gratuity may be paid in cash to “ a person who is . found by the prescribed authority to be in necessitous, circumstances.” The widowed mother described ‘by Senator Gardiner could be dealt with under that provision. The prescribed authority would go into the facts of the case, and if the facts warranted it they could recommend payment of the gratuity in cash. The honorable senator will see that one or other of those paragraphs would meet such a case.
– I read the rest of the clause, and realize that, perhaps, the case
I suggested can be provided for. But supposing the mother of a deceased member of the Forces prior to his death was not dependent upon him. She may be now in need of assistance, and her husband may have reached old age, and also be in necessitous circumstances. Here is a provision which definitely puts her outside the list of those entitled under the Bill to a cash gratuity.
– No. These are all cumulative. They do not exclude.
– But paragraph c of the clause includes “ the mother of a deceased member of the Forces/’ subject to the proviso, “ if she was, prior to his death, a dependant of his.” I take it that those words definitely exclude her, if, at the time her son was serving at the Front, she was not dependent upon him. Paragraph / sets out that a war gratuity payable to -
A person who is found by the prescribed authority to be in necessitous circumstances may be paid in cash. But that person can only be a man who- has served in the Forces. It cannot be a dependant of his.
– In the case the honorable senator is quoting the person who served in the Forces would be dead. The “ person “ who is referred to in paragraph / is the person to whom the gratuity comes in consequence of the death of the soldier.
– I am thoroughly satisfied that paragraph c will operate in the manner I have indicated. Otherwise, what is the reason for including the words “ if she was, prior to his death, a dependant of his “ ? Personally, I would like to see the paragraph amended to read -
The mother of a deceased member of the Forces if it can be shown to the prescribed authority that she is now in necessitous circumstances. *
That would make the position quite clear.
– According to the honorable senator’s interpretation, paragraph c includes everybody except the mother of a deceased soldier.
– Paragraph / reads, “ a person who is found by the prescribed authority to be in necessitous circumstances.”
– That person may be the mother of a deceased member of the
Forces, who prior to his death was not dependent upon him.
– I still entertain my own view of the matter.
– The view which I have expressed is not merely my own, but that of the Treasury Department.
– If in the course of administration it is found that the mother of a deceased soldier is in necessitous circumstances, will there be any chance of amending the Bill so as to allow her to obtain payment of the gratuity in cash?
– I am certain that there will be no necessity for an amending Bill.
– I think that the words “ if she was, prior to his death, a dependant of his “ will exclude a mother, no matter how necessitous her circumstances may be.
– I would point out to Senator Gardiner that there are certain specific cases provided for in this clause. For example, there is “ the widow of a member of the Forces.’’ She is entitled, irrespective of her circumstances, to payment of the gratuity in cash. Then paragraph b gives a similar right to the widowed mother of an unmarried deceased member of the Forces. Paragraph c, to which the honorable senator has directed attention, provides that -
The mother of a deceased member of the Forces, if she was, prior to his death, a dependant of his. may obtain payment in cash if she so desires. Thai provision differentiates between two classes. It shows that the mothers of deceased soldiers, who were not dependent upon them prior to their death, are not entitled to a cash gratuity. Then paragraphf provides for payment to-
A person who is found by the prescribed authority to be in necessitous circumstances.
Whether that “ person “ is the mother of a deceased soldier, a soldier himself, or a sailor, does not matter. It is an inclusive clause. The governing factor in it is the person who is entitled to the gratuity either by will or by actual receipt from the Government. If he is in necessitous circumstances he is entitled to cash. I give Senator Gardiner my assurance that the view which I have presented is not merely my own, but that of the Treasury Department. If a mother, prior to her son’s decease, was not dependant upon him, but is now in necessitous circumstances, she can, under paragraphf, obtain the gratuity in cash. If effect is not given to this view in administration the honorable senator will merely have to raise the question in order to have the matter put right.
– I have some sympathy with the view which has been expressed by Senator Gardiner. Under paragraph f a person being a member of the Military Forces who is found by the prescribed authority to be in necessitous circumstances will have the right to obtain the gratuity in cash. The inheritor of a person who belonged to the Military Forces, and who died, will also have the right to receive cash if he or she is in necessitous circumstances. In no circumstances, I understand, will it be possible for the widowed mother of a deceased member of the Forces in necessitous circumstances to be denied payment of the gratuity in cash.
.- I have in my mind the case of a mother who has lost two sons at the Front, but who has a husband. She was not wholly dependent upon her sons prior to their death. Since then, ‘however, the husband has become disabled, and it seems to methat this clause will not cover a case of that kind.
– Yes, provided that the mother is the inheritor of the son’s gratuity either by will or by the prescribed authority saying that she is entitled to it. If she is in necessitous circumstances she can get the cash.
– I am sure the Minister realizes the fairness of my request. I am equally satisfied that he thinks that the Bill provides for the case to which I have referred. It is only because I am confident that it does not that I am pressing the matter on his attention. If we turn to the definition clause of the Bill we find that - “Dependants” means the wife or widow and children (including ex-nuptial children) of any person who is or was a member of the
Forces, and any person who is or was wholly or partly dependent for his support upon the earnings of that person eitherduring his membership ofthe Forces or after, or within twelve monthsbefore such membership.
Clearly,that definition does not include amother who was not dependent upon her soldier son prior to his death.
– What hearing has that definition upon paragraph f of the clause we are considering? That is the definition of the “ dependants “ of a soldier in order that we may determine who has thebest claim to his bond in the event of his death.
– I quite realize that the Minister is very strong in his belief.
– Look at clause 9 of the Bill, and the honorable senator will see the necessity for that definition.
– Apparently that clause justifies the Minister to a greater extent than I thought possible, but I am putting my protest before the Committee believing that my reading of the clause will be confirmed by officials of the Department, and, if so, I hope the Minister will take good care that the administration is in accordance with his own interpretation.
Clause agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clausebe inserted: - “ 13a. Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, no gratuity shall he payable where the total amount is less than £1.”
The reason for this provision is fairly obvious. If a man. is entitled to less than £1 gratuity, he served less than twenty days in camp in Australia. As a considerable number of men, for one reason or another, served only very short periods, the payment of gratuity in amounts of less than £1 will mean the multiplication of small accounts.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Clause 14 consequentially amended and agreed to.
Clause 15 -
Except as prescribed, no interest in any war gratuity, or in any Treasury Bond issued or to be issued in payment of any war gratuity, shall be alienable, whether by way or in consequence of sale, assignment, charge, execution, insolvency, or otherwise howsoever.
– I move-
That after the word “ sale,” line : 5., the following words be inserted.: - “except at face value.”
– The intention is to make the bonds negotiable.
– Yes, to a certain extent. With the purpose of the clause I am in entire accord, for I do not think that holders of the bonds should be at the mercy of financial harpies who may be seeking to get at them by buying their bonds at a big discount. Why should there be any objection to a soldier, who may require themoney, disposing of his bonds to a friend or some banking institution if he can get full face value for them ? The amendment will prove a great convenience to all soldiers who want ready money, and I can see no possible objection to it, as it will involve no liability to the Government, and there will be no risk of upsetting the financial arrangements of theCommonwealth about which we have heard so much of late.
.- The manner in which the honorable senator has submitted his amendment would lead one to suppose that there is nothing in it. But what does it mean ? It means, practically, the substitution of negotiable bonds for non- negotiable bonds, and the placing on the money market of a loan of from £28,000,000 to £32,000,000. There is not the slightest doubt about that. Does the honorable senator think that the restriction about selling bonds at only their facevalue isreally important ? Let us not forget that these bonds carry 51/4 per cent. interest, free from State and Federal income taxation, and of course they will realize their face value. The amendment, therefore, is equivalent to a proposal that the bonds shall be placed upon the market, not by the Government, but by the soldiers. I am sure the honorable senator does not expect the Government to accept the amendment, because we have pledged ourselves against negotiable bonds, and, I think, for very good reasons, which I have already given.
– I am sorry the Minister for Defence ‘(Senator Pearce) has not seen fitto accept the amendment. To my mind there is no reason for refusal, unless the Government intend that the bonds shall never be paid. If a man has £100 in thebank, and if a returned soldier friendhas a bond for £100, what is wrong with its sale at full face value? The amendment does not open the door to any victimization of returned soldiers, because it is clearly provided that the bonds may be sold only at their full face value. There is no fear of the money market being flooded, because it is not likely that business men and investors will pay par for these bonds when they can. buy £100 war loan securities at £95 or £95 10s. If a man has money in the . bank, and does not intend to use it himself, because he believes bank deposits to be the safest form of investment, and he gets only 4 per cent. for it, why should he not be allowed to buy a soldier’s bond, returning him51/4 per cent. ? By this transaction the soldier would benefit to the extent of getting cash,, which he wants, and the man with money in the bank would benefit to the extent of receiving a. higher rate of interest. The Government say they are anxious to protect the returned soldiers. They will be more anxious to protect them before they redeem these bonds. I have no doubt they will discover that the soldiers cannot be left for a moment without protection.
– We had experience of fraud in connexion with the seamen’s advances, men getting only £2 10s. for £5.
– But they were not protected as the soldiers will be in this clause. The. amendment would convenience a large number of people.
– It would.
– It would convenience quite a number of people whose intentions towards the soldiers are just as honest as Senator Peace’s or Senator Guthrie’s. Why should mot the bonds be sold, at their full face value-?
– The soldier might be asked for a receipt for full face value, and perhaps would not get it.
– I have no doubt that Senator Guthrie knows more than I do about “ways that are dark.” But here is a proposal put forward in good faith to make it possible for people who, in equally good faith, may want to assist soldiers by purchasing their bonds at full face value. We are confronted with the spectacle of a Government responsible to the people refusing to accept what is in every sense a reasonable amendment, and we can only assume that their object in rejecting it is because they have something “up their sleeve.” There is every probability that when these bonds fall due a few years hence they will say that they are not prepared to cash them, and will issue others to take their place. Senator Guthrie, by interjection, referred to seamen who were sometimes deprived of the full face value of their advances, but that is an unreasonable comparison, because the soldiers, who have all been through the mill, are quite able to protect themselves in thatregard.
– Have not the sailors been through the mill ?
– If they are of the type of Senator Guthrie, I can easily understand them being defrauded. The Government are apparently afraid to give the soldier the right to sell his bonds at their full face value. Do they think that he will be defrauded ?
– Senator O’Loghlin, according to his amendment, is not trusting the soldier.
– The Government are not trusting the soldier, and are afraid that some one will “ screw “ it out of him. The amendment clearly provides that the bonds shall not be cashed for less than their face value. Is there a fear in the mind of the Government thatthey would be negotiated for less than that value? If this Government is in office in 1924 - which, for the sake of the country, God forbid - I can imagine them saying that after the experience they have hadthey have decided that the bonds shall not be cashed, as they are afraid the soldiers will be defrauded, and that they will issue others for a further period.
– We might float another loan by then.
– If honorable senators opposite had- any confidence in their country they would advocate floating a loan and paying the soldiers in cash ; but they are not doing that, because they are considering, not the Australian soldiers, but the British financiers, whose interests they always study. It is a simple question, and does not mean the floating of a loan of £28,000,000, because if the Government gave every soldier, sailor or dependant holding bonds the right to cash them at their full face value the responsibility would not be on the Government. The amendment would remove ‘the difficulty suggested by the Government that there will be difficulty in raising the money, and the attitude of the Government shows clearly that they are again missing an opportunity of carrying out their promise to the men who served their country. I support the amendment.
– I must confess that at first sight the apparently simple amendment of Senator O’Loghlin is somewhat enticing. But in effect it really means placing at least an additional £20,000,000 worth of paper money upon the Australian market. It would appear that the Government have deliberately fixed the interest at 5i per cent., free of State and Federal income tax, because the. bonds are nonnegotiable.
– It is the highest rate of interest paid on any war loan floated.
– Yes, and there is no doubt that the interest has been deliberately fixed at the rate I have mentioned to make the bonds worth holding to the date of “maturity. Irrespective of the price of money, we cannot find any Government issuing bonds with such a high rate of interest free of taxation.
– Compare this proposition with the last New South Wales loan. The honorable senator has sufficient financial ability to do that.
– That was a temporary loan in the form of Treasury-bills issued at 6 per cent., but I am not sure whether that is subject to Federal taxation.
– Federal taxation would not make a difference of more than £ per cent.
– If these bonds were made negotiable, they would be. freely handled, because I do not know of any better investment than bonds maturing in four years, carrying an interest of 5 J per cent, free of taxation. I am sympathetically inclined towards Senator O’Loghlin’s amendment, but, in view of all the circumstances, I cannot support it.
– We can get sympathy, but very little help.
– We have to consider this matter on a proper basis, and in doing so we must realize that the issue of additional paper money would mean increasing the cost of living. The countries that have issued the most paper money are in a parlous condition; and, under the guise of a simple amendment, I am not going to be a party to increasing the paper money now circulating throughout Australia. It should be the policy of the Government to diminish the note issue rather than increase it, as that is the best way to re-establish our financial equilibrium. I am not prepared to say that some injustice will not be inflicted upon soldiers by preventing the bonds being cashed, but we have to consider the greatest good to the greatest number. I am absolutely convinced that, until our financial position becomes more secure, we should pass the clause in its present form.
We have also to remember that very liberal Repatriation and other Acts, involving the expenditure of £30,000.000 up to the 30,th June next, have been placed on our statute-book for the benefit of soldiers, and I do not think any of the men interested will be in such a stringent financial position that it will be necessary for them to cash their bonds.
– There are dozens who are nearly starving.
– I do not think there are any soldiers so situated, unless the fault be their own. I believe there is work for every one who wants it, and although we are likely to have chronic trouble with returned soldiers for some time, there will be very ‘few in Australia who will not be in a satisfactory position if they set out to help themselves. There will be a good many employers who will be prepared to cash the bonds, and in the State I represent there is a large number who are willing to assist their employees by giving cash. The banks will be called upon to negotiate £6,000,000 worth, and the Government are to find the cash to pay those in necessitous circumstances. We now come to the point that these bonds should not be alienated. Will the prescribed authority, in the case of banks and employers who negotiate the bonds, provide that the money shall be paid to the persons who cash them 1
– That will be done.
– If the bonds are inalienable the money must be paid to the grantee.
– It will be paid to the person who holds them.
– That is the one who cashes them.
– As soon as we can take stock of our financial position, which we must do before long, I believe there will be some relaxation of the conditions, and that provision will be made whereby more elastic authority will be given for the cashing of the bonds. At present, however, I think we can hardly know what we owe or how we are going to pay, and the throwing of £20,000,000 or £30,000,000 additional paper money on the market is altogether undesirable. A majority of the soldiers have made their financial arrangements in accordance with the promises of the Government. They know that they are to receive a gratuity in ‘bonds, and they are content to let them mature at the comparatively high rate of interest of per cent. free of income tax. Should misfortune overtake men they know that they can raise cash from the Government. . I am not going to be a party to increasing our paper currency, and I oppose the amendment.
– One aspect of Senator Pratten’s argument is of particular interest to me. The honorable senator has been an interesting study since he has been a member of this Chamber. During last session it seemed to be his desire to do what was right irrespective of consequences.
– That is so.
– I see him now as one who is studying the part of a Minister, and looking for the time when he will be called to Ministerial rank. Having made up his mind he appears to be training his arguments, not as he used to, to speak the truth irrespective of consequences, but to see how closely he can keep to the truth, and at the same time support the Government. For a considerable time I have watched Senator Pratten, and have been very much impressed with the genuineness of his attitude on several questions.
– The honorable senator does not question it now ?
– I am studying the honorable senator now, and will ar rive at a decision later on. He has contended that an increase in the paper currency means an increase inthe cost of living, but what proof is there of that? If Australia, with £25,000,000 in gold, issues notes to the value of £57,000,000, and someone contends that that inflates the cost of living in this country, byhow much must the cost of living be raisedin Great Britain, if there, with £19,500,000 in gold, they issue paper to the value of £365,000,000?
– It is far higher in Britain than it is here.
– Only a tew days ago I was able to show that the 4-lb. loaf was cheaper in Britain than it is here. How people in Australia in receipt of the minimum wage in New South Wales of £3 17s. per week manage to live at the present timeI do not know, and when Senator Thomas assures me that the cost of living in Britain is higher than it is here I say that they must have discovered something in the Old Country which we have not yet discovered here. If they could tell us how people are to live even here in Australia on the minimum wage, the information would be very- valuable. The cost of high living in Britain may be much greater than it is in Australia, but not the cost of living. It is absurd to contend that the working classes in Britain have to pay more for the necessaries of life than have the workers in Australia. The cost of commodities necessary to sustain human life must be less in Britain than in Australia, or the bulk of the people there could not live at all on the wages they receive.
– Prices are higher in England than they are here; the people in England have to pay 4s. per lb. for butter.
– And1s. per lb. for sugar.
– I have seen a statement to the effect that the price of sugar in Britain is likely to rise to 1s. per lb., but I am not aware that it has reached that figure yet. I should nob object if the Minister for Defence proposed the addition of a proviso to the amendment requiring the consent of the Government or the Minister, so as to make it impossible to put £28,000,000 of the bonds on to the market at once. All that I desire is that the soldier and his- friendsmay be placedin the same position as that inwhichthe Government has already placed the employer of the soldier. Quite a number of employers in New South Wales have agreed to cash the gratuity bonds, but no one will contend that it is their desire to plunder the soldiers. The father of a returned soldier may not be in a position to give a son £100 because of his responsibilities to the rest of hisfamily, but he might be able to advance him £100 on his bond. If the Governmentare not prepared to make these bonds negotiable under fair conditions, they must have some motive for their refusal to do so, and I do not know what it is. When Senator Pratten so flippantly says that an increase in paper moneymeans an increase in the cost of living, I say that if that were so, the country having most paper money would be the dearest country to live in.
– It is so at present.
– It would be the case at all times.I suppose that with the exception ofSenators Russell and Pearce,honorable senators opposite are all outlanders who came here from the heart of the Empire.
– I havebeen longer in Australia than has the honorable senator, though I know he came as soon as he could.
– If that statement is true, all I can say is that Senator Guthrie has not made very gooduse of his time. I am aware that not many years ago in Australia all payments by employers were made by cheques. In the Old Country workers were always paid in cash, and I knowthat workmen here when paid by cheques were somewhat doubtful asto whether that was a real payment andwould hurry to the nearest business place to cash their cheques. The point I want to make is that when paper currencyexisted tothatextent in Australia I am not aware that it caused any inflation ofprices.
– Do I understand the honorable senator to say that if he gives a man a cheque it is only paper money?
– It is only a promise to pay.
– Is a cheque really paper money?
– Of course it is while it plays the part of paper money. I do not believe that an increase in the paper currency involves an increase in prices. If the Government put their stamp on a note, on asovereign, or on a shilling, that will have noeffect on the value of articles sold. All this is but the subtle reasoning of that section ofthe community that has atall times handled the currency of the country in its own interests and never in theinterests of the producers.
Sitting suspendedfrom 6.30 to8p.m.
– I am very much disappointed at the reception given to my reasonable amendment by honorable senators opposite, and particularly at the wild statement by the Ministerfor Defence (Senator Pearce) that it was a proposal toput £28,000,000 worth of paper money on the market.I do not see that it would affect the money market in any way whatever.Bonds to an estimated amount of £28,000,000 are to be issued to returned soldiers, part of them to be redeemed immediately in cash as provided in the Bill, and the greater part to bear51/4 interest. What difference does it make to the Government or to the community, or to the financial stability of the country generally, or to the taxpayers, what particular person holds these bonds? Take the case of Tommy Cornstalk, who holds a bond worth £100. He draws his£5 5s. per year, or £2 2s.6d. pgrhalf-year, as interest, but it is of very littleuseto him. The amount is so small that it hardlykeeps him in pocket money, but he might, in whatever occupation he is following, find very good use for £100. He may have a relative in fairly good circumstances willing to help him by giving him £100 in cash, and talcing the bond, or a patriotic friend may wish to do so. Then., instead of Tommy Cornstalk holding the bond, some other person holds it; butit does not matter one iota so far as the Government and the community, and thefinancial position generally are concerned. The Government are only called upon to pay the interest when it is presented. What does it matter who presents it, so long as we take the very desirable precaution of protecting the soldier from those Shylocks, who might take advantage of his necessity to buy the bonds at reduced rates ? If we prevent that, we shall have done all that we can be called upon to do. If we enable the soldiers to negotiate the bonds at their face value, we shall confer a great favour on a number who want cash, and to whom the small amount of interest is no good, whilst we shall not affect the finances, or circulate any more paper money than is the case at present. The statements of the Minister for Defence that the proposal will float a lot of paper money on the public, raise the price of commodities, and create many other untold evils, are mere talk. In view of the continual expressions of sympathy, and of the desire ‘to help the returned soldiers, which come from the other side, it is very discouraging to find that practical proposals which would be of real assistance to the soldiersare turned down time after time. I hope that even now the Committee will look at the amendment from a practical point of view, seeing that it entails no liability on the Government”, or the taxpayers, or the community. I trust they will make this little concession to the returned soldiers, who want ready money, by making the bonds negotiable at face value.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted (Senator O’Loghlin’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . … 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 16 (Investment in approved companies).
– I propose to ask theCommittee to leave out this clause with a view to inserting the new clause which I have circulated.
– I move -
That the following new clause he inserted - “ 16. (1.) Any person to whom a war gratuity is payable under this Act may -
authorize the Treasurer to issue to, and in the name of, any approved company the whole or part of the Treasury Bonds issuable to him in pursuance of this Act;
transfer to any approved company anyTreasury Bonds issued to him in pursuance of this Act; and
authorize the Treasurer on his behalf to pay to any approved company any money payable in cash to him in pursuance of this Act. (2.) Subject to the regulations, any. approved company may lodge with or transfer to anybank or financial institution approved by the Treasurer any Treasury Bonds issued or transferred to that company pursuant to subsection (1.) of this section as security for any advance made by the bank or financial institution to the company. (3.) In this section “approved company “ means a company -
formed for the purpose of the development of primary or secondary production in the Commonwealth, or for the purpose of trading;
incorporated in the Commonwealth; and (c)approved by the Minister.”
This amendment widens the provision regarding investment in approved companies. Under the provision in the Bill any member of the Forces may lodge, or authorize the Treasurer to lodge, his bonds with an approved company as security for shares. New sub-clause 1 extends this privilege to all persons to whom the war gratuity is payable. It also authorizes the Treasurer to issue bonds to the approved company if so directed by the person entitled to them. Sub-clause 2 is substantially the same as sub-clause 2 in the Bill, but it permits an approved company not merely to lodge bonds with a financial institution, but to transfer the bonds to the institution. Sub-clause 3 in the Bill is omitted from the proposed new clause. That sub-clause provides that where an approved company has lodged bonds with a bank as security for an advance and has afterwards made default, the bank may obtain negotiable bonds from the Treasury in lieu of the bonds held as security. It is not desirable that the bonds should be made negotiable in this case, because the bonds bear interest at51/4 per cent., as compared with 41/2 per cent. for other tax-free bonds, and it is undesirable that the two sets of bonds should be simultaneously on the market. Sub-clause 4 is amended by omitting paragraph d in the Bill. This paragraph provides that the articles of association of an “ approved company “ must provide that no person other than a member of the Forces, as defined in the Bill, can be eligible for membership. The removal of this limitation will permit dependants of soldiers, members of the Fathers’ Association, and others, to obtain the benefit of the clause. The matter is not left entirely open, because all “ approved companies “ must be approved by the Minister. The new clause is more liberal than the one in the Bill, it is drafted in better form, and meets the view put forward on the second reading by Senator Newland, and supported by other honorable senators.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Clauses 17 to 19, and title, agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the Bill he reported with amendments.
.- I am not sure whether this is the proper stage at which to do it, but Idesire to put before the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) and the Commitee the necessity of inserting an amendment in clause 3. I do not know whether I should move the recommittal of clause 3 for that purpose now, or at a later stage. Perhaps if I mention the matter to the Minister at this stage, he may give me some indication of his views. The amendment which I desire to move will extend the scope of the Bill by adding to the number of those to whom the gratuity is to be paid. The object is to include sixty-seven men who are members of the Young Men’s Christian Association, and were actually attached to a battle unit. The statement in my possession is that sixty-seven of these men were continuously under fire, fifteen were wounded, and three killed. The remainder of the members of that section - some 200 in all - are not pressing their claims for inclusion ; but, having listened to the representations made to me, I feel that, if three men were killed and fifteen wounded, and the sixty-seven men who were under fire are pressing their claims for inclusion, there can be no good reason for leaving them out. I remember that, in a conversation with me, one of Australia’s ablest officers, when he returned, used the expression, “ Brave as a stretcher-bearer.” These men were stretcher-bearers.
– Members of the Young Men’s Christian Association ?
– Yes; they were attached to the battle unit as stretcherbearers, but they are not included in this Bill.
– Stretcher-bearers were members of the Army Medical Corps.
– I leave it to the Minister to define the actual conditions under which these men were engaged, but I am sure that the persons who made the statement to me are convinced of its truth. They say they were attached to the battle unit, and that their duties were to carry in the wounded. I should like to have them specially provided for in this measure, and I desire to move the recommittal of clause 3 in order to submit an amendment to that effect.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill reported with amendments.
Debate resumed from 15th April (vide page 1170), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
SenatorFOLL (Queensland) [8.17]. - The remarks of Senator Gardiner upon this Bill are well worthy of our earnest consideration. He has pointed out that if the £500,000 at present in the Australian Imperial Force Canteens Funds is invested in some useful manner those who have an interest in that money will reap a much greater benefit than they can otherwise do. We all know that the members of the Australian Imperial Force benefited very materially as the result of the establishment of Government canteens. In the early stages of the war our canteens in Egypt were run by private contractors, who charged the soldiers exorbitant prices for the articles which they purchased from them. The Minister for Defence (Sena- . tor Pearce) is to be congratulated upon having abolished that system, and having inaugurated the system of Government canteens. But although the £500.000 now in these funds actually ‘belongs to the Australian Imperial Force, the money is at present held in trust by the Government, who should not lightly hand it over to any other body. I have no objection to urge against the members of the Trust whom it is proposed to appoint under this Bill, all of whom have done very useful war work. The point I wish to stress is that this money belongs to the Australian Imperial Force, and is merely held by the Government in trust for that body. To my mind, Ministers will not be faithfully discharging their duty if they relinquish control over the expenditure of these funds. If the money be kept in a lump sum some new industry may be started with it, or it may be invested at a good rate of interest, and with great advantage to all the beneficiaries. If, on the contrary, it is paid away in doles, within a comparatively brief period it will have entirely disappeared without having benefited anybody to a material extent. I see no reason, therefore, why the suggestion of Senator Gardiner should not be adopted. I ask the Government to reconsider the matter, with a view to ascertaining if they cannot submit for our consideration some better scheme than that which is embodied in this measure.I have a lively recollection of the fate of certain patriotic funds which were subscribed by a generous public many years ago, and I have no desire to see the money to which this Bill relates dissipated in a similar maimer. Upon the present occasion Senator Gardiner has struck the right note, although he does not often do so. I hope that, as a result, u better scheme will be submitted for our approval.
– I fear that both Senator Gardiner and Senator Foll have taken up the wrong attitude towards this Bill. Of course, in following the example of Senator Gardiner, Senator Foll was almost sure to go wrong. I dislike the idea of funding the amount of the surplus from the Australian Imperial Force canteens and distributing only the interest amongst those whom the scheme is intended to benefit. If the money is to be invested . in the manner suggested by Senator Gardiner, the principal will al ways remain intact. It is not likely that the Board of Trustees will be inclined to broach the principal if they are only permitted to spend the interest accruing from it. Now, the interest itself will not represent a very large sum from the stand-point of the number whom it is intended to benefit. But if such a scheme were adopted, what would happen? In the course of time the persons to be benefited will pass away, and the principal will be available even after the la3t beneficiary has died. Surely, therefore, it will not be wise to keep the fund intact or to depart from the object of the scheme as originally laid down. . For this reason I do not approve of the suggestion of Senator Gardiner, which has been indorsed by Senator Foll. But I entertain an even greater objection to the measure than that. Like other honorable senators, I have no objection whatever to any individual member of the Trust whom it is proposed to appoint. I am confident that the Minister could not find a more trustworthy or competent. Board. But all the members of this body are Victorians.
– The honorable senator needs to be very careful or he will find himself behind the Leader of the Opposition.
– Naturally, I want to be behind him whenever he isright. It is only when he is wrong that I cannot support him. Under this Bill requests for assistance will come from all parts of Australia, yet it contains no machinery for enabling inquiries to be instituted in the various States concerning these applications. Machinery will have to be devised to enable,, this to be done. It cannot be supposed’ that a Board of Trustees will pay money over to applicants without first thoroughly investigating their claims. It would be a most difficult thing for a Board sitting in Victoria to institute such inquiries, especially in the absence of the requisite machinery. While discussing this phase of the matter I may be permitted to point to another measure which recently occupied our attention, and which is now being considered by the other branch of the Legislature. I refer to the Repatriation Bill and to the Commission which is to be appointed under it. Why should we not transfer these canteen funds to the control of the Repatriation Commissioners? The Repatriation Department has its machinery and its officers in every State. Moreover, it has in each State a history of every person who is likely to make an application for assistance under this Bill. Theme willbe no obstacle, therefore, in the way of the Repatriation authorities making these inquiries and reporting to the Commission whether or not an application should be granted. In any case, I do hope that in making appointments to the proposed Board of Trustees care will be taken that every member of it is nob a resident of Victoria. I have not less faith in residents of Victoria, but their knowledge would necessarily be confined to their own State, whereas if men were appointed from different States the responsible authority would then have a full knowledge of all local conditions. I am anxious that the fund should be administered by persons who are likelyto know the requirements of the individual applicants, and this information can only be gained by having the necessary machinery in each State.
– Do you not think it would be a good idea to allocate some of the money as scholarships for dependants of deceased soldiers?
– That is not provided for in the Bill, but there is provision, in the will of the late Sir Samuel McCaughey, that a certain proportion of the money which he left shall be allocated to that purpose. The Repatriation Commission could do this work better than the trustees mentioned in this Bill, as I presume the money left by the late Sir Samuel McCaughey will be available for dependants of soldiers in every State, so that the Repatriation Commission should be in a better position to allocate the money.
SenatorFoll. - This Bill simply means handing over about half a million sterling to the trustees of the canteens fund.
– Yes, that is what it means. It is provided that the trustees shall act in an honorary capacity, but as most of them are busy persons it cannot be expected that they will be able to. devote a large amount of time to the discharge of their duties, which must therefore beperformed by a paid staff of officials.
SenatorFoll. - And that will be another drain uponthe fund.
– That is so. Applications will come in from every part of Australia, and for some time, at all events, the trustees should sit practically on every day of the week unless they delegate the work to officers, and so far as I can see there is no provision for the appointment of paid officials. All this expenditure could be saved. There is no need to spend one threepenny piece on the creation of machinery for the distribution of the money, because it is already in existence in the Repatriation Department.. At the proper time I intend to move to amend the Bill unless I shall be transgressing the Standing Orders. I hope the Minister will see that the proposal I make is a sensible one, and that it will be agreed to.
– I wish to state that at the outset I regarded this Bill as a more or less formal measure, but Senator Newland, in his reference to the administration of’ the fund, has touched upon a very vital principle. As he has pointed out, it is proposed in clause 5 to constitute am entirely new body to carry out this work, and the names of the persons to be appointed are given. It is undesirable, where avoidable, to bring about any multiplication of Government Boards. That is an objection in itself; but, apart from that, the persons mentioned are individuals who in ordinary circumstances will be, for the most part, every day engaged about their own affairs. They have not much idle or leisure time upon their hands, and therefore we may naturally expect that the duties thrown upon them by this Bill will be delegated to others. We cannot expect them to be meeting with anything like the frequency or regularity of a paid administration, as provided for in the Repatriation Act. That is a second objection to the constitution of the Trust. Senator Newland has also referred to the matter of expenditure as another objection. If his suggestion were adopted I do not think the Repatriation Department would charge itself with the responsibility of administering the Canteens Fund and debiting the expenditure to the Repatriation Fund proper, but if they discharged the duties now proposed to be thrown upon the trustees under this Bill, and debited’ the expenditure to the Canteens
Fund, I am confident the amount would be only a fraction of that which will be incurred by the comparatively ineffective administration provided for in this Bill. There will be, as Senator Foll suggested by way of interjection, a continuous drain upon the capital of the fund if we persevere with the proposal to appoint separate trustees, so I think the Minister might well consider the desirability of acceding to Senator Newland’s suggestion. It will be quite competent for Senator Newland to move hist amendment in Committee, but the difficulty I foresee is that if it is carried and clause 5 is deleted, it will be necessary to insert a new clause in substitution for it, throwing the administration upon the Repatriation Department, and if that is done, the remaining clauses of the Bill may need radical amendment. Indeed, it seems to me that if we pass the consequential amendments, the whole Bill will emerge from Committee in a shape totally different from that now under consideration.
– It will need’ redrafting.
– It will practically need redrafting from the first clause to the last.
– There is nothing in the Bill to indicate how the money is to be allocated in the different States.
– There is only the usual provision with regard to regulations, and how far they would go in connexion with: this measure I do not know, but I am inclined to think we shall have a skeleton measure and a large mass of continually changing regulations. As the trustees gain experience of claims that come in from the different States they will realize there is nothing in the Bill to indicate how they are to be treated, so that the regulations will become unwieldy, cumbersome, and to some extent contradictory. I feel that the Senate as a whole would like to> see the administration carried out on some more systematic principle than is provided for in the measure. If it is placed in the hands of the repatriation authorities, there will be ‘very little addition to their responsibility and duties, because they already have the machinery for dealing with all the claims that are likely to be made from the several States, and, in addition, they have the history, so to speak, of everybody who is likely to make a claim, or in respect of whom anybody else may lodge an application under this Bill.
– How can honorary commissioners make inquiries in the different States concerning applicants?
– It has been suggested that they may make their inquiries through the State Repatriation Boards.
– Then why not hand this duty over to the repatriation authorities?
– Of course they would have no statutory or legal authority to make inquiries of the State Repatriation Boards. They could only do it by the courtesy of those bodies. I am inclined to think that the only way in which the Commission could act effectively would be by depending: on the courtesy of the State Boards. Notwithstanding what has been said by the Minister, we must come back to the conclusion that the suggestion made by Senator Newland is one that should commend itself to us, and before the Bill reaches the Committee stage, perhaps the Minister will give the Senate an assurance that the suggestion will be fully and favorably considered.
– If we were dealing with public money contributed by the taxpayers of the Commonwealth, I would be rather inclined to support Senators Newland and Keating in their contention that it should not be handed over to an honorary Trust for distribution. But it must be remembered that this is not public money, but a fund belonging to the members of the Australian Imperial Force, and we are merely assisting them in allocating the money in the way they desire.
– We do not know that they do desire it.
– They have favoured the proposal.
– So far as we can ascertain, they are in agreement with the proposition. No objection has been raised by any organization of Australian soldiers against the provisions embodied in the Bill. We have also to remember that £450,000 has been donated by a gentleman of New South Wales now deceased, and this, in conjunction with the balance of the Canteens Fund, is to be placed at the disposal of a Trust. Would the deceased gentleman who’ bequeathed this money agree to its disbursement by a Government Department? The Repatriation Department has certain functions to perform in connexion with the repatriation of soldiers, and those who receive assistance from that Department would at once be under the impression that the Department was using the money which belongs to the soldiers to carry out the work which should be done with money provided by the taxpayers of the Commonwealth. If Senator Newland’s suggestion were adopted, the soldiers or their dependants would come to the conclusion that the Repatriation Department, by doling out this money, was meeting its responsibilities . with funds that had not been provided for that purpose. We are under a certain obligation to the soldiers and their dependants, and that obligation must be met by the Department. The soldiers have saved this money-
– Does the honorable senator say that they have saved it ?
– It is the profit from their trade, and it is generally recognised that the money is the property of the members of the Australian Imperial Force. Although I suppose they received full value for the cash they expended at the canteens, we cannot overlook the fact that the profit which, has accumulated is one to which they are entitled.
– Why not distribute it through a Government authority ?
– ‘Because it is recognised that it is the” private property of the men.
– It is the profit of a business.
– Yes; a business carried on in the interests of the members of the Australian Imperial Force.
– Does the honorable senator say that the Government are under no obligation to the men ?
– I did not say anything of the kind, as the Government are under a very great obligation. But they should assist the soldiers’ organization to successfully distribute the money rather than to control it. If the soldiers who are the persons directly interested are agreeable to the provisions in the Bill, and have favoured the appointment of a Trust, I think it better to pass the measure in its present form.
– Has it been suggested to the soldiers’ organizations that the work could be performed by a Government authority ?
– I suppose not; but, in any case, I do not think such a suggestion would meet with the approval of the members of the Australian Imperial Force.
– Because they would naturally conclude that the disposition of the fund would relieve the Repatriation Department of certain obligations which it owes to the men and their dependants.
– Doe3 not the Bill provide how the money shall be spent?
– The Bill provides that the trustees shall be the sole arbiters.
– In other words, the Government are to hand over the money to a Melbourne Committee.
– I do not know why Queensland and New South Wales senators object to anything that is Victorian. Personally, I do not care whether, it is a Queensland or Victorian Trust, so long as the members of the Trust meet regularly and carry out their work efficiently.
– Do I understand that this money is to be handed over to the Trust, and it can do what it likes with it?
– That is so.
– Subject to the limitations provided in the Bill.
– There are no limitations in the Bill.
– That is ridiculous. I have already stated that there are limitations, and if the honorable senator persists in. contradicting me I shall quote them again.
– The members of the proposed Trust are well-known persons of repute, and I believe, from what I have heard, they are likely to possess the confidence of the Government^ and of the men. If wc are satisfied with the personnel of the Trust the only question to exercise our minds is whether the fund shall be administered by a Trust Or by the Repatriation Department. A. Government Department has no right to administer a fund on which it has no claim.
– Does it belong to the Trust?
– No, but the Trust te be appointed has the approval of the men who own the money.
– We have not that assurance.
– I gave the assurance in my second-reading speech, and the honorable senator should accept the statemerit.
– I am prepared to support the Bill in its present form, because I believe the work should be performed by an independent body, particularly as the proposition has the approval of the members of the Australian Imperial Force.
– I think the position can be better met by accepting the suggestion of Senator Newland than adopting the proposal embodied in the Bill. Senator Newland has correctly stated that the Repatriation authorities in each State would be in a better position to consider the cases brought before them than would a Trust sitting in Melbourne. Honorable senators will readily realize that such a body sitting in Melbourne cannot deal with special cases that may be brought forward from Western Australia or Queensland, or even Tasmania. Under Senator Newland’s proposal, a case arising in any State could be brought before the State authority, and submitted to the Central Commission sitting in Melbourne, when the necessary funds could be made available. There is no machinery provided in the Bill for conducting inquiries beyond Victoria.
– What is the suggestion ?
– Senator Newland has suggested that the work to be done by the proposed Trust should be undertaken by the Repatriation Department. It would appear from the Bill that no provision has been made for filling a vacancy on the Trust. The proposed Trust is likely to be in existence for a considerable time, as provision is made in the Bill for depositing funds and dealing with accrued interest.
– It is obvious the honorable senator has not read the Bill, as provision for replacing a member of the Trust is made in sub-clause 3 of clause 5.
– I apologize to the Minister, as I had overlooked that. The suggestion of Senator Newland is worthy of careful consideration, because, if adopted, it will be the means of the work being carried out more economically and expeditiously. I do not wish to oppose the Bill, but unless the Minister is prepared to give good reasons for adhering to the measure in its present form, I shall feel disposed to support Senator Newland’s proposal. If Senator Newland is successful in carrying an amendment in Committee to secure the administration of this fund by the Repatriation Commission, that will involve the recasting of the Bill, but that need not trouble us if the machinery for the distribution of the fund is thus made more efficient than that now proposed by the Bill.
– In replying to the debate I shall deal first with the suggestion made by Senators Gardiner and Foll, that these funds, instead of being distributed, should be utilized by the Government in establishing industries. That, in my opinion, is a distorted view to take of our responsibilities in connexion with these funds. There is in the establishment of industries an element of speculation. They may turn out. to be failures, and we have no right at all to gamble with this money. In 1916, and again in 1917, speaking on behalf of the Government, I definitely promised the members of the Australian Imperial Force that whatever surplus funds there were to the credit of the Canteen Committees at the end of. the war, they would be distributed, amongst the totally incapacitated and blinded soldiers, and widows and orphans of deceased soldiers. To speculate with the money in establishing industries would be a breach of that promise which was publicly made, was not dissented from by Parliament at the time, and was accepted by the organizations of the returned soldiers.
In regard to the scholarship question, I turn to the amount of the McCaughey Trust to be set aside for the foundation of scholarships and, in addition, to two other funds in existence for scholarships for the orphans of deceased soldiers, to indicate that that matter has been well provided for.
With regard to a further suggestion that the Government might utilize the money and pay interest on it, I say that even if we paid 5 per cent, interest that would give an annual income of only £25,000, and the amount would he obviously too small to enable us to confer any substantial benefits upon those to whom it is desired to give additional assistance out of these funds.
There has been an obligation on the Department lo distribute the surplus profits of the canteens amongst the members of the Australian Imperial Force so far as we could. We did that, but we are dealing in this Bill with undistributed profits from the canteens, and the money is therefore the property of the members of the Australian Imperial Force. If we were considering the right way, rather than the best way, to distribute these funds, every member of the Australian Imperial Force should be given a share of this £500,000, but we intimated to the soldiers that the better course to follow would be to distribute these surplus funds amongst those who were in greatest need.
With regard to the objection that all the trustees proposed are Victorians, I may be allowed to say that that is not the case. It is strange how the same man may be attacked from different angles. One of the members of the proposed Trust was given a permanent position in the Defence Department, and I was attacked because he was not a Victorian. It is proposed to give” him a position on this Trust, and I am, attacked because he is a Victorian. As a matter of fact, he is a Queenslander, who happens at the present time to be living in Melbourne. The reason why the Government propose that the Trust should be constituted as set out in the Bill is this: It will not continue to operate for a great length of time, and in about six months time the work of the trustees would be practically completed. The work of arranging for the distribution of the fund’ and the vesting of the McCaughey funds in scholarships should be completed within that time, and the operation should be practically automatic after that has been decided. It is obvious that the work of distribution should be undertaken immediately, because we cannot have claims upon these funds hanging over for years. New South Wales has ‘ no greater claim to representation amongst the trustees than has any. other State. We could not be bringing people from all over the Commonwealth to meetings of the trustees held in a “particular centre.
– The honorable senator should remember the splendid gift contributed persons in New South Wales.
– The best answer to that is that the trustees who made that special gift, although they knew the proposed constitution of the Trust, did not ask that any New.- South Wales man should be included amongst the trustees under this Bill.
Coming to the question raised by Senator Newland, as to the machinery to be provided to deal with applications for grants from these funds, I may, for the information of honorable senators, quote the proposals submitted by Mr. Lockyer, the proposed chairman of the Trust -
It is proposed to utilize the Local Repatriation Committee, of which there are 803 throughout the Commonwealth, and the various organizations in the States devoted to the welfare of our soldiers and their dependants as agents for the purpose of distributing forms of application, receiving claims, and of inquiring into and reporting upon the merits of such claims. In addition, there will be constituted a State Advisory Committee in each capital city, to whom such claims will be forwarded for examination. The claims will then bo sent to the trustees by the Advisory Committee with such comments as may be deemed to be necessary. The trustees will then examine claims and recommendations, and as approved, cheques for amounts of dividends will be paid directly by the trustees to claimants’ credit at a savings bank in the town.
That is the machinery proposed to be used for the distribution of the money. There is a fundamental objection to constituting the Repatriation Commission the Trust for the .administration of these funds. I venture ,to say that if the Government had proposed that that should be done, they would have found themselves in a hopeless minority, and honorable senators now supporting that proposal would have led the attack against them, because it would at once have been said that we were using the money of the soldiers to relieve ourselves of repatriation obligations. The suspicion that we were using this money for repatriation purposes has already been present in the minds of the returned soldiers themselves. I have a number of letters here, but I shall read one memorandum which shows that the returned soldiers entertained that suspicion. This is from Mr. Lockyer, who was at the time Director of Garrison Institutes and Canteens, and was written to
Mr. Trumble, of the Defence Department :
The Minister desires to have papers referring to his decisions in respect of the particular authority which mightsuitably administer the Australian Imperial Force canteen surplus fund.
There have been a number of references from time to time on this subject, which have received the Minister’s attention, but the more important appear to be the following: -
On 26th June, 1917, when the original repatriation fund was in operation (and it may be remembered this fund consisted of public subscriptions supplemented by Government subsidy), the General Secretary of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia wrote to the Prime Minister saying, “My council understands that profits from canteens are to be utilized by the Repatriation Committee for repatriation purposes. As a consequence, I have to ask if a statement of accumulated profits can be furnished to this council.”
In reply to this, on 21st August, 1917, the Secretary for Defence, by direction of the Minister informed the Association: “It is proposed that the profits, if any, at the end of the war resulting from the operation of the Australian Imperial Force Garrison Institutes and Canteens shall be devoted as an additional aid to the blinded and otherwise permanently disabled soldiers or some other similar special purpose, which it is considered will command the sympathy and the approval of the original contributors. It is not contemplated that any such moneys will be transferred to or be absorbed by the Repatriation Fund.”
It may he mentioned that the present Repatriation Act came into operation on8th April, 1918.
The next definite decision was in the latter part of December, 1918, when the Minister approved that the money should be devoted as an additional aid (over and above what the repatriation organizations may provide) to the more distressing cases of war widows and orphans, and disabled soldiers, and that a Trust should be constituted for that purpose.
Later on, after it was decided to amalgamate the whole of the canteen funds, the Minister, who was then in London, cabled approval in September, 1919, that the object of the Trust should be to provide additional aid to war widows and orphans and immediate dependants, and disabled soldiers, and he also approved of the personnel of the Trust for the administration of the canteen funds.
I invite Senator Foll to give special attention to this, because he asked a question to which I am now giving the answer.
I may mention that following the Minister’s approval of December, 1918, I advised the president of the Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia of what was decided by the Minister, and also that parliamentary sanction would first be necessary before the Trust could be properly constituted. To this the
General Secretary replied thanking me for the information, and adding that he had communicated the contents of my letter to the respective branches of the league.
If I were to propose that the distribution of this money should be handed over to the Repatriation Commission, it would at once be said that we were endeavouring to relieve the Repatriation Department of its responsibilities to the returned soldiers by utilizing funds belonging to the soldiers themselves, for repatriation purposes. That would be a distinct breach of the understanding come to with the Returned Soldiers’ League throughout the country, and to which not a single branch of the League in any part of Australia has objected. What is proposed is to use organizations that exist throughout the Commonwealth that have the interests of the returned soldiers at heart, and in many cases consist of relatives of the soldiers themselves. The trustees under this Bill will be able to communicate with those organizations and ask them to report on any special cases. Those organizations have done splendid and effective work, as Senator Newland is aware, because he has been the chairman of one of them in South Australia. To their credit, be it said, that, notwithstanding the fact that the war is over, they are still enthusiastically working. We can use all the machinery of those organizations for the purposes of this Bill. I appeal to honorable senators not to lay the Senate open to the charge that we are endeavouring to use the money of the soldiers to relieve ourselves of some of our repatriation obligations. I am certain that to sanction the distribution of these funds by the Repatriation Commission would bear that construction. I am not, in saying that, in any way reflecting upon the Repatriation Commission, the members of which are as competent as would be the members of any body of trustees to carry out this work properly and justly. But I feel that the proposal that has been made would be open to that construction by the returned soldiers.
It has been objected that the Bill does not set out exactly how the money should be distributed. It does set out the classes and conditions of people to whom it is to be distributed, and honorable senators will agree that it would be impossible to set out exactly how much should be given to A, B, and C, because every case must be investigated and dealt with on its merits.
There is nothing sacrosanct about the Bill, but I put it to honorable senators who quite legitimately have suggested that the Repatriation Commission should be charged with the administration of these funds, that there are weighty reasons why, even though the Bill as it stands may not be satisfactory, we should not adopt the alternative course suggested of making the distribution of these funds a part of the work of the Repatriation Department. I think I have Senator Millen’s consent in saying that he would be one of the most strenuous objectors to the adoption of such a course. It would embarrass his Department if it were asked to distribute this money. In view of what I have said, I feel justified in asking honorable senators not to support the proposal made by Senator Newland.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 (Short title).
– Is the Minister prepared to report progress now?
– No. I hope we shall go on until we get through the Bill.
– I hope so, too. I have no intention of opposing it.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 2 (Definitions).
– I ask that this clause be postponed until clause 5 is dealt with.
Clause 3 (What the fund shall consist of).
– In this clause the word “trustees” occurs.
– The clause can be recommitted if the honorable senator desires subsequently to submit any amendments.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 -
The fund shall be vested in and placed under the control of the trustees appointed by or under this Act
– I intend to test the feeling of the Committee on this clause. I move -
That the words “trustees appointed by or under this Act “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words, “ the Repatriation Commission.”
I have no other intention than to make the Bill more perfect than it is at present. The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) will do me the credit of believing that my endeavour is to make the Bill more workable and more acceptable to the soldiers and to those who may be benefited under it. The Minister said the money would be distributed, and the work of the Committee finalized, in about six months. If so, the Committee will have a very busy six months of it. They will be kept fully occupied every day of the week and every week of the month. It has been suggested that thebest thing to do with the money is to get it out of the way as speedily as possible. If it were merely a question of spending the money quickly, I could suggest many ways of getting rid of it other than giving it to the returned soldiers or their dependants. I want it to be spent, not quickly, but legitimately, amongst the people who require it, after due and thorough investigation of their claims. If the money is spent in six months, many persons who have no claim to it will derive benefit from it, particularly because inquiries will be conducted very largely in Melbourne.
SenatorHenderson. - Do you not think that six months would be long enough ?
– I do not think six months, or even six years, would be a legitimate time in which to expend this money. I have some idea of the pains and time devoted to making inquiries into claims by the dependants of soldiers and others, and to making investigations into unsatisfactory claims, before money has been paid. Unless a similar policy is adopted in the distribution of this money, much of it will find its way into the possession of those who have absolutely no right to it. We have been told that to hand the money over to the Repatriation Commissioners will lend colour to the suspicion that the Government are using it for repatriation purposes. The Minister knows there is nothing in that charge. Whether the money is disbursed by the committee defined in the Bill or by the Repatriation Commission, balance-sheets will have to be provided to account for every penny of it to the satisfaction of the Auditor-General.
– Is the honorable senator arguing for holding the money in hand and doling it out a little at a time 1 That has been done before with funds in this country.
– I am not arguing any such stupid proposition. We might as well give the money to the Committee, and let them put it in their pockets, or dole it out ls. at a time, to any men they meet in the streets. I am anxious that the money shall not be distributed in that way, and that is why I plead for a more thorough and complete investigation than can possibly be made by the committee recommended by the Government. Besides the time required for investigation and inquiry to insure the proper distribution of the money, we are told that scholarships are to be established, and these, like other business concerns, do not as a rule run themselves. Some members of the committee will have to act as trustees as long as the sum bequeathed by the late Sir Samuel McCaughey for scholarships is available. Some of them will have to see that it is properly used in that direction. That, in itself , puts the six months’ idea clean out of court, ‘because the scholarships will run for many years.
– There is no management involved in that. It is practically automatic. .
– To some extent it is, but some management is required. The principal must be invested and looked after. This is not a case of a single scholarship in connexion with one educational institution. I take it that scholarships will be established in all the States if money is available for the purpose.
– It is only Sir Samuel McCaughey’s money that is available for scholarships.
– Yes, and I understand only a portion of that, but that does not alter the fact that some one will have to act as trustee so long as the scholarships run. Senator Earle stated that the money was not ours, and that therefore we could hand it over to any institution or body that liked’ to take care of it for the time being. That is as much as to say: “It is not our money, so let us squander it all as quickly as we oan so as to <*et rid of it.” The very fact that it is not our money should make us more careful of it than if it was. The bulk of it has been paid into the fund by the soldiers, who were promised that it would be returned to them’ as far as was humanly possible. The best way to return it seems to be to distribute it to the necessitous dependants who are left. For that reason we should be’ more careful of this money than even the repatriation people are of the money which the Government find from time to time for repatriation purposes. In reply to the charge that the Repatriation Commissioners may be inclined to use the fund, instead of Government money, for repatriation purposes, I point out that if a man applies to the Repatriation Department for a grant for illness or unemployment, the Department, after due inquiry, make the grant out of money voted from year to year by Parliament for repatriation purposes. The Central Executive in Melbourne, the State Boards, and even the furthest distant Local Committee in Australia, know where that money comes from. I refuse to believe for one instant that the money from this fund could possibly be used by any of the repatriation authorities as repatriation money. Such a suggestion is a grave reflection on the Repatriation Commissioners, the Department, the State Boards, and the Local Committees. Not one of those Committees, from the smallest to the largest, from one end of Australia to the other, would us© one penny of this fund as repatriation money. The Minister knows that there is no fear or suspicion on that ground.
– I do not think he suggested that. He said that there might be that suspicion in the minds of the soldiers.
– I am pointing out the utter impossibility of anything of the sort, happening. Exception has been taken to my reference to the Trust as a Victorian body. I do not take any exception to it on that ground as a little Australian. I realize that the people of Victoria are just the same as the people in any other part of Australia, but I would emphasize the difficulties under which the persons mentioned’ in clause 5 will be placed, because they are all city of Melbourne business men, except Mrs. Deakin and General White. General White himself has his headquarters in
Melbourne, and belongs as much to Victoria as to any other State. It is impossible for -these people to make the inquiries they ought to make. The Minister has pointed out that the Trust will have the right to use the State Repatriation Boards and the various Local Committees throughout Australia. If the trustees to be appointed under this Bill are going to make use of the machinery provided by the Repatriation Department, why should not the Repatriation authorities themselves set that machinery in motion ? How can Local Committees carry out the instructions of the proposed Board of Trustees- and of the Repatriation Commission at the same time ?
– Because they will be dealing with two different matters.
– Yes, but they will be working for two masters.
– They are doing that now. The Committees are working direct for the Department and also for the State Lands Department in connexion with land sales..
– That is a distinction without a difference. The Minister knows that the work is practically the same in both cases. But under this Bill a fresh authority is to be constituted. That authority may send to a Local Committee in the North of Queensland, or in Western Australia, or South Australia, saying, “We have received an application from So-and-so for a grant. Will you be good enough to make inquiries into it?” It seems to me that the Minister is thus opening the door to an unnecessary duplication of work. If such a request came from the Repatriation Commission, no doubt could exist in the minds of the Local Committee concerned. Its members would simply say, “Here is an instruction from headquarters. We have to make certain inquiries, and send along the result of them as soon as possible.” But if a request reached a Local Committee from the Board of Trustees to be appointed under this Bill, the Committee might say, “We are under no obligation to make these inquiries,” and consequently dissatisfaction would arise. The Minister has not satisfied me that I am seeking to do anything which is calculated to prejudice the proper distribution of this money. As a matter of fact I am more convinced than ever that the fund should be distributed by the Repatriation Commission, and not by the proposed Board of Trustees.
.- The amendment submitted by Senator Newland has much to commend it. During the course of his remarks, Senator Earle stressed the point that the money to which the Bill relates does not belong to the Government, but to the Australian Imperial Force. If that be so, what right has the Government to hand it over to a Board upon which there will be only two returned soldiers?
– Obviously, as much right as they have to do what you suggest, namely, hand it over to the Repatriation Commission.
– The honorable senator’s arithmetic is wrong. There will be three returned soldiers on the Board, unless the President of the Returned Soldiers Association is not a soldier.
– Then, a majority of the Trust will not consist of returned soldiers ?
– There will be three returned soldiers on a Board of seven members.
– If a vote were taken on the matter, I think that Mrs. Deakin would top the poll.
– I have not the least doubt about that. Senator Earle, when he supported the Government, as he usually does–
– An excellent example which I commend to the honorable senator.
– I can only support Ministers when I think that they are right. Senator Pearce has pointed out that this money belongs to the Australian Imperial Force. Evidently the Government wish to shunt the control of it to the proposed Trust as soon as possible. I maintain, however, that in this matter they occupy an equally responsible position with the Public Curator of Intestate Estates. Many of the men who subscribed to the Canteen Funds have passed out, and a solemn obligation rests upon the Government to see that this money is wisely expended. Senator Newland has urged that it would not be right to spend only the interest accruing from the principal, whilst conserving the principal itself. But is it not possible for us to devise a scheme under which the principal will be distributed over a term of, say, fifteen years ? Seeing that the money belongs ta the Australian Imperial Force, I suggest - if- the amendment be not carried - that the whole of the funds be vested in the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League under the same supervision as is provided for in the Bill. It would be much better to adopt that course than to hand it over to a Trust which has no machinery whatever at the present time. Senator Newland struck the right note when he pointed out that the Repatriation Commission has machinery in every hamlet throughout Australia, and that the Local Repatriation Committees would certainly know those individuals who most deserve to be benefited under this Bill. If the Government desire to get rid of their responsibility by transferring the control of this money to a Board of Trustees, in the hope that it will be disposed of in as brief a time as possible, they are shirking their duty. For that reason, I shall support the amendment. I do not think that even the Minister himself is pleased with the measure. I do’ hope that he will submit for our consideration a scheme which is more likely to produce good results than is that which, is embodied in the Bill.
– I desire to say a few words upon this matter, and to’ assign reasons why I intend to support the Government. Li the first place, I wish to see this money distributed rightly, and within the shortest possible period of time.
– The first great rush will get the lot.
– There can only be one rush. There are four classes to whom the distribution is to be made. The first class consists of blind men. We shall soon learn who they are. The second class comprises the widows of deceased soldiers ; the third class includes the deceased soldiers’ mothers or widowed mothers ; and the fourth class the children and dependants of deceased soldiers. These are the four classes who have to be considered. I do hope that the funds will not be administered in the same way as was the patriotic fund which was raised by public subscription some years ago with the object of benefiting a large number of widows and children who suffered as the result of the Bulli mining catastrophe. That fund got into the hands 6f people who, for years, assumed authority in respect of it, and paid themselves salaries for administering it, whilst leaving the widows and children to shift for themselves as best they could.
– And they ultimately used the remnant of the fund for another purpose.
– Here is the position. There are children to be provided for, and unless we wish to’ keep them dog poor, unless we are prepared to give them only a red herring and a slice of bread, we must discard all the amendments which have been suggested, and accept the Bill as it stands. The Defence Department knows, or, at all events, can tell in a very short time, how many widows, dependants of deceased soldiers, blinded soldiers, and disabled soldiers, there are.
– All those records are at the Treasury.
– Exactly. And if we want to do all these people a real service, we shall provide for them a lump sum, to which they are entitled, according to the position in which they find themselves, so that with it they may be able, to do considerable service for themselves. A good deal has been said about the trustees to be appointed. Like other honorable senators, I have no hesitation in saying that they are as honest and capable as any we could possibly get, and that is as much, as we can say about anybody. Then we have the additional safeguard that the trustees are to be controlled by regulations, which surely will be framed in such a way as to prevent them from dealing with the funds in any haphazard manner. In six or twelve months there need not be a single penny of the whole amount in the hands of any persons other than those entitled to receive it.
– The Government has been paid a high compliment by those honorable senators who have moved and supported the amendment. It is not often that honorable gentlemen display such confidence in a public Department as to ask that it should become the trustee of a large sum of money not’ belonging to the Government, for that is the effect of the amendment, and I take it as a compliment to the Repatriation Commission. But whilst I could understand honorable senators raising the question as to whether the proposed Trust is the best authority to handle the money or not, I cannot for the life of me understand a proposal to place the disposal of this money in the hands of the Repatriation Commission. A great deal has been said to-night as to whether the money should be spent quickly, or on the “ go slow “ principle,’ but that, I think, is rather immaterial to the debate, because the same question must arise whether the money is disbursed by trustees, as proposed in the Bill, or by the Repatriation Commission. The question we are now asked to decide is whether the money shall be vested in the trustees or the Repatriation Commission. It i3 necessary, I think, to ask whose money this is. That seems to be the startingpoint. Of course, it belongs to the soldiers.
– And, chiefly, the rank and file.
– Obviously, because the rank and file were the most numerous.
– The officers spent their own canteen money.
– Well, I pass that by. The money, which it is proposed to vest in trustees, represents the proceeds of canteens conducted on behalf of the soldiers themselves, and of course it belongs to them. I come now to the point raised, and I think unnecessarily, by Senator Foll, who referred to this measure as an attempt on the part of the Government to shirk its responsibilities. There was no reason for such an insinuation at all, because the responsibility of the Government will be the same, whether we disperse this fund by means of trustees or the Repatriation Commission. It is not a question of shirking responsibility. The question is, which is the best body to constitute to handle this money, and, rightly .or wrongly, the Government has come to the conclusion that trustees, as provided for in this Bill, will more satisfactorily discharge that duty. I can assure Senator Foll that the Government is as anxious as he is to devise the best machinery .for this purpose. We have no unworthy desire to free ourselves of responsibility. We are asked in the amendment to hand over money belonging to the soldiers to . a purely official departmental body charged at present with the responsibility of distributing benefits provided by the Commonwealth for soldiers and their de pendants. As the result of much praiseworthy work on behalf of the repatriation effort, Senator Newland can distinguish between money distributed by a Government Department and taken from one purse, and that distributed by the same Department from another source; but the average person is not able to do so, and would probably assume that the Repatriation Commission was making available benefits from the Canteens Fund and proportionately saving on the drafts made upon the Treasury for repatriation benefits. The country, without being able, at one time, to say definitely what it would do, undertook, in broad general terms, the duty of repatriating our soldiers; so: any money obtained from .private sources ought to be not in substitution for that obligation, but in addition to it, and in order to make it clear that this Canteens Fund is an additional benefit, it seems to me worth while to insure that the authority charged with its distribution shall be some other body than an official Department. Unless this is done, I am confident that a widow or other dependants who obtain benefits will be confused as to whether it is repatriation money pure and simple, or some share from the Canteens Fund.
– They would apply for Canteens Fund benefits if they were entitled to them:
– How many recipients of benefits are able to distinguish between .pensions and’ repatriation payments? One can take up the newspaper any day and read correspondence indicating that the people concerned make no distinction in these matters.
– One-half of the letters I receive at the Defence Department, deal with repatriation and pensions.
– People write to the Repatriation Department about (pensions and to the Defence Department about repatriation matters. This was one of the reasons which, induced the Senate the other day to pass an amending Repatriation Bill simplifying this matter. There was good reason for. an amalgamation of the Pensions and Repatriation Departments, because in both Departments the money comes from the public purse, and amalgamation simplified the procedure. In the case of the Canteens Fund, however, the position is entirely different, and I think it very desirable that the recipients should know that it is no part of the public benefit. Senator Newland, of course, would have no difficulty in discriminating, but it is worth a great deal to be able to- assure those who are entitled to apply that what they may get will not diminish the benefits coining to them from .the Treasury through the Repatriation Department.
– People will say that you have not sufficient confidence in your own Department, if you do not approve of the Repatriation Commission administering this fund.
– No, they will not. I would not intrust the Repatriation Commission with the work of this Chamber, not because I have not confidence in that body, but because I do not think it is fitted for the work.
There is another matter to which I wish tol draw attention. Senator Pearce referred to the fact that a large sum of money, bequeathed by a wealthy and public-spirited citizen of New South Wales, had been given to the Trust. I do not know whether honorable senators have been informed that that money will not be handed over to a Department for administration; so whether honorable senators agree to the appointment of these trustees or not, some trustees must be appointed to distribute the money made available by the McCaughey trustees. Prom time to time citizens die leaving sums of money for the benefit of soldiers, and I have had communications from gentlemen who wish to leave money for the benefit of soldiers, stating that they have been compelled to leave it under the control of a Minister in the absence of any such Trust. Quite a number have inquired as to whether such a Trust was in existence to which money could be left for the benefit of soldiers, and I have in mind one particular case where a gentleman said he did not wish to leave his money merely to relieve the Treasury. He was anxious that the soldiers should receive the benefit. Whether the Committee favour the appointment of a Trust or not, it will be found desirable sooner or later to appoint some such body.
– What machinery will there be?
– I informed the honorable senator.
– The Minister in charge of the Bill is necessarily in a better position than I am to inform the Committee, but it is quite easy for Senator Pratten, with his knowledge of organization, to conceive that if the machinery is not available to serve the purpose it will be created.
– It will mean the establishment of a new Department to distribute the money.
– There is a certain amount of work to be done, and if it- is handed over to my Department additional officers will have to be appointed, as those who are at present doing the repatriation work have insufficient time.
– Is there any chance of a job 1
– I was speaking of officers who can work and who want work. I ask the Committee to accept my assurance that from the Commissioner down I have no half-time officers in my De- ,partment.
– Is it not proposed to work through the Repatriation Department ?
– I do not know what the honorable senator means, unless it is that the Trust will have to> obtain, either from the Defence Department or the Repatriation Department, the records of widows and children of soldiers. Naturally they will desire that information, and it will be supplied, but that does not necessarily mean that they will be working through us in distributing the benefits. Naturally the Trust will have to secure the services of one or two officials to assist.
– One or two.
– I am assuming that the Trust will not appoint more officers than may be necessary, and if this work is thrown on my Department I warn the Committee that just as many additional appointments will have to be made as if it were carried out by the proposed Trust.
– And a new suite of offices.
– I do not know what the honorable senator means by that. I would like him to see the offices in which I am working.
– The Minister’s Department must be new to the game.
– Some people seem to be under the impression that Federal Departments are housed in sumptuous buildings, but I do not know of any governmental offices throughout Australia where Ministers are so meanly housed. The building I occupy resembles a barrack office of a sergeantmajor, and generally speaking the offices are not at all in keeping with those of State Departments, particularly in New South Wales. The office in which I have to perform my work is a dusty, dirty, and badly ventilated place, but it was the only building I could get.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I desire to read an urgent telegram I received this evening from Sir Elliot Lewis, acting for the Premier of Tasmania. I have already conferred with one of the Minister’s colleagues, the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Laird Smith), who has been advised of the contents of the telegram, which reads -
Informed Federal sugar control deliveries sugar each capital city of Australia except Hobart, and possibly Perth, at same price as in Sydney. Delivery also made free any place in those cities within four miles radius. All transport charges, including freight, wharfage, cartage, &c, made payable by importers in Hobart. This means Hobart pays thirty shillings and sixpence per ton more for sugar than persons similarly placed in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, or Adelaide. This serious handicap is likely to have most prejudicial effect on Tasmanian industries. Cadburys alarmed; and this may prove deciding factor in determining State in which their industry located. Jones and Company, in order to avoid this impost, already do. most manufacturing of jam for Inter-State markets in other States largely out of locally produced pulp. Kindly take up question in interest people Tasmania, and have us placed on same footing this regard as other States.
As far as the information contained in this telegram goes, it shows that Tasmania is very unfortunately placed, as an extra charge of 30s. 6d. accrues upon those who import sugar into Hobart. It is obvious that it will be impossible for manufactories in which sugar is used to compete with those on the mainland. The reference in. the telegram to Cadburys is significant. It was said some time ago - and I believe it is correct from information I have received, and which has since been published - that Cadburys had obtained an. option over theClaremont Estate, which during the war period was used as a soldiers’ camp. This property is situated 8 or 9 miles from Hobart, and it was the intention of Cadburys to establish works there for the manufacture of cocoa and chocolate. Since then, I believe, Ballarat has entered as a competitor, and more recently, this week I think, I noticed that they may possibly open in Sydney.
– I should say Sydney is the most suitable.
– Cadburys do not think so. The firm seem to think that Hobart is likely to be the most suitable site for a factory, and it can be realized without difficulty that the cost of the raw material is likely to be a deciding factor. Jones and Company are probably among the largest jam manufacturers in the Empire, and’ in the circumstances, as stated by Sir Elliot Lewis, they are, to a large extent, manufacturing in the mainland States for the Inter-State trade from fruit pulp obtained in Tasmania. What for? Merely to avoid paying the extra impost. I mention this matter as the Minister may possibly have some information which will explain the differential treatment, if I may so call it. If the Minister is not in possession of any information I hope he will note the contents of the communication Ihave quoted, and at a very early date furnish an explanation.
– I am not in a position at this juncture to explain the position, but if Senator Keating will supply me with the telegram he quoted I shall have full inquiries made.
– The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Laird Smith) has a copy of the telegram.
– I shall bring the matter under the notice of Senator Pearce, who is now dealing with that Department.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.13 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 April 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1920/19200421_senate_8_91/>.