8th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
Late German Mew Guinea. - Interim and Final Reports of the Royal Commission.
Northern Territory Administration. - Report of Royal Commission.
– On the 14th May, Senator Pratten asked the following questions : -
The information was then being obtained, and I am now in a position to furnish the following replies: - 1. (a) Franoe, 25.23 francs to the ?1 sterling ; (b) Italy, 25.23 lire to the ?1 sterling; (c) Belgium, 25.23 francs to the ?1 sterling; (d) United States, 4.86 dollars to the ?1 sterling; (e) Japan, 9.76 yen to the ?1 sterling.
Owing to the unfavorable exchange position it has become the practice to invoice goods from France and Italy at Bterling prices, which, on investigation, are very frequently found to be lower than those ruling in the domestic market at the time of shipment. A typical case might be cited : An article was imported from Italy. The pre-war Home Consumption price was, e.g., 12,000 lire, which calculated on the basis of 25 lire to the ?1 sterling, would equal ?480. Notwithstanding the substantial advance in wages and the increased price of raw material in Italy, this particular article was invoiced to buyers in Australia at ?320, based on 50 lire to the ?1, or ?160 less than the pre-war price. On investigation by the departmental officers abroad, it was found that the Home Consumption price in Italy was 16,000 lire, or ?640.
Another instance : In 1913 a certain article was sold in Paris at 120 francs per dozen. Conversion at the rate of 25 francs to the ?1 would give a value of ?4 16s. Tho same line was sold in 1919 at an inoreased price of 166 francs, or at 25 francs to the ?1- ?6 12s. 9d.
If, however, conversion be made of (the 1919 price of 166 francs at, say, 50 to the ?1, we ave the anomalous position of goods, the domestic price of which has been increased by 39 per cent., being invoiced at ?3 6s. fid., or ?1 9s. 7d. less than the pre-war price of the same article. The correct value for duty, as shown in the preceding paragraph, is ?6 12s. 9d., and not ?3 6s. 5d.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice^-
In view of the recent disclosures, both in New South Wales and Victoria, with regard to alleged profiteering between mill and consumer, is there any power under which the Commonwealth oould, if necessary, commandeer the output of the woollen mills of Australia, selling the goods to the retailer, with sufficient guarantee against overcharging, at oost price, plus a slight margin to cover distribution ?
– As the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes)’ has already indicated in another place, for all practical purposes the Commonwealth tas no power over ‘ profiteering of any kind. The limitation of the Commonwealth power to Inter-State and foreign trade make3 it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to devise any effective scheme of legislation to deal with any part of the problem of profiteering.. Owing to the defeat of the referendum proposals, legislation dealing with profiteering is outside the ambit of the present powers of the Commonwealth.
Appointment of Mr. Lc cas as Adviser to Government.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Publication Of Reports
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– These reports have just been tabled.
Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to-
That leave of absence be granted to every member of the Senate from the determination of the sitting on Friday, the 21st May, 1920, to the 30th June, 1920.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Millen), read a first time.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives, with the message that the House had made the amendments requested by the Senate.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Millen) read a first time.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended .
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
In submitting this motion, I point out that this Bill does not appropriate any money. It gives the Government an authority supplementary to that which it has to-day, and so far has not exercised, to raise an additional amount by way of loan.
Up to the present time parliamentary authority to raise loans has been given to the amount of £248,000,000. The nominal value of the loans already floated, including war service certificates and stamps amounts approximately to £219,500,000. The Commonwealth, therefore, has authority to raise a further sum of £28,500,000. When the Budget was introduced, it was anticipated that the sum of £52,000,000 would be expended out of the war loan during this financial- year. The expendi ture for the nine months ending 31st March, 1920, amounted to £36,000,000. It is now expected that the expenditure for ‘the year will be about £47,000,000. The reason for the Budget estimate of expenditure not being realized is mainly because certain payments to the British Government have ‘been deferred for the present. As regards the future, although the expenditure on direct war services has now practically come to an end, the expenditure for repatriation of soldiers, including land settlement and war service homes, will for some time to come be very heavy. It is now certain that the expenditure on soldier land settlement will greatly exceed the amount which twelve months ago was considered to be a reasonable figure. As these services are a charge against the War Loan Fund, further authority to raise the necessary loan is required.
As already mentioned, authority at present exists to raise loans for a further sum of £28,500,000, and it is considered that that sum, together with the additional amount of £20,000,000 asked for in the present Bill, will not only be sufficient to meet requirements for some time to come, but will enable the Government to act at any time should the market conditions be favorable.
– In my opinion we can unhesitatingly give the Government this authority to borrow. A good deal has been said recently about the wool position, and- 1 am exceedingly glad to see from this morning’s newspapers that the wool-growers and .brokers of Australia, have ultimately, after much discussion
– Order! I cannot allow the’ honorable senator to discuss that matter.
– I am giving this as a reason why the Bill should be passed.
– There will be ample opportunity to discuss the matter to which the honorable senator refers.
– I desire to explain to you, sir, that this has a particularly vital effect upon and. indeed, is interwoven with the wool question. I am exceedingly glad that after much discussion, the wool-growers and wool-brokers have given the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) authority to negotiate in connexion with our future wool clip, because we are owed in England a debt of about £50,000,000, and we find by a recent newspaper publication that the British Government offers practically the sum of £10,000,000 to our woolgrowers now, £10,000,000 in September, and £10,000,000 in December.
– Order ! I have tried to see the connexion which the honorable senator suggests between the matter he is referring to and the Bill before the Senate, but I really cannot do so. I point out that before the sitting closes, in all probability, there will be plenty of opportunity for the honorable senator to refer fully to the matter. I cannot see that it is relevant to the Bill. This is purely a Loan Bill, and has nothing to do with the sale of wool in England or anywhere else. If no other opportunity were afforded to discuss the wool position perhaps a little latitude might he given to the honorable senator, but other opportunities may he taken advantage of for his purpose.
– I am surprised, sir, if you do not see how this wool question
– Order! The honorable senator must not discuss my ruling unless he takes the usual course of dissenting from it.
– I will put it in another way. “We shall have to raise a loan in Australia in order to pay the wool-growers the amount of money owed them by the British Government, and without knowing the mind of the Commonwealth Government in this matter, I say that this Bill may be passed by the Senate, because it will place an instrument in the hands of the Government for doing that.
– That is exactly what we are going to do.
– Then, why should I not be allowed to explain it? Why should I not be allowed to say so?
– Why is the honorable senator out of order, if that is so?
– Yes, why am I out of order?
– The honorable senator must obey my ruling, and must not discuss it unless he proposes in the proper and orderly way to dissent from it. He has been sufficiently long a member of the Senate now to know the course he should follow. A desultory discussion on my ruling without the adoption of the proper course to criticise it cannot be permitted.
– I point out that in a recent proposition made by the Prime Minister in connexion with finance, he offered the wool-growers certain bonds-
– Order! The honorable senator is now attempting to evade my ruling, and that cannot be permitted. If the Senate decides that my ruling is wrong, the honorable senator may discuss the matter; but, until it so decides, he cannot proceed further on those lines.
– I desire to say that this Bill places in the hands of the Government a . power to partly settle the . wool question. We are owed £50,000,000-
– Order! The honorable senator is again referring to the wool question, which I rule is irrelevant to this Bill. He must not try to evade my ruling.
– We are owed £50,000,000 in England to-day, and if there is money owing to the Commonwealth in England, the position of the exchanges makes it very difficult indeed to get that money from England to Australia. Therefore, if we pass a Bill of this sort for the purpose of raising £20,000,000 within the Commonwealth, it does not necessarily follow that we are going to add that amount to the debt of the Commonwealth, as loans may be paid off in the United Kingdom, and our internal debt in Australia increased accordingly.
This is bound up with the question of the export of our primary products, and I say at once that if this Bill is passed, and the Government place an internal loan upon the market of Australia, it will not necessarily mean that our indebtedness will be increased to the amount of that loan, but that an instrument will be placed in the hands of the Government to enable us to settle problems very vital to our primary producers.
– The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen), in submitting this Bill, did not make sufficiently clear the purposes to which it is intended to devote this money. Apparently, it is to be devoted largely to the purchase of land, and the erection of homes for returned soldiers, and for other purposes incidental thereto. If that is so, I should like to know what is meant by the provision in clause 3 that the loan shall be issued and floated only for the expenses of borrowing, and for war purposes. I should like to know precisely what is meant by “ the expenses of borrowing.” I should also like to know whether it is intended to give investors in this loan interest at 51/2 per cent, free of State and Federal income tax, or to make the interest subject to either or ‘both these forms of taxation. It seems to me that some members of the community who could well afford to invest largely in these loans have so far neglected to do so. I should like to know from the Government whether it is intended before any compulsion is applied to those who have subscribed to previous loans to try to persuade those who have not done so to do so to an extent commensurate with the value of the property they hold in Australia. It is absolutely unfair that some citizens should subscribe to war loan after war loan while others who could very easily afford to do so consistently refuse to give a hand. A mere subscription to such a loan is nothing at all compared with the giving of actual service, and yet many wealthy men in Australia have absolutely refused to subscribe. I should also like to hear from the Minister for Repatriation information as to the precise objects to which this loan money is to for applied.
The cost of military service in Australia appears to. be increasing with great rapidity. Lb is doubtful, even now that the wax has concluded, whether the expenditure of the Defence Department is to be much reduced. Is it intended in peace time to retainthe services of all the generals and their highly-salaried staffs who served in the war?
– Their services are retained, but they are not paid.
– I am concerned only with those who are paid. No Government cares to apply the pruning knife to the Defence Department. It is generally recognised that at least a substantial skeleton of defence must be’ retained, but, in my opinion, it is unnecessary in peace time to maintain an army on a war footing. Will the Minister state whether it is seriously intended to curtail expenditure in this direction, and what is actually being done? Subject to these points being satisfactorily cleared up I shall have no objection to the passing of the Bill.
Senator.FAIRBAIRN (Victoria) [11.23]. - I regret that I did not give to the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) when he was making his secondreading speech on this Bill the attention that I usually pay to his observations, the reason being that I was immersed in the consideration of another financial measure which is also of great interest to honorable senators. This is an appropriate occasion upon which to discuss the way in which war loans should be floated. There are two alternatives. Under the present system we call for voluntary subscriptions for a loan at 5 per cent., and hold out the threat of compulsion if the amount be not fully subscribed. The idea has been that such a threat would bring in a lot of people who ought really to take their share of these burdens. After all, these war loans are in the nature of financial burdens on those who subscribe to them. A patriotic citizen subscribes to a war loan at 5 per cent., although that is not the market price. That 5 per cent, is not the market price is clearly indicated by the fact that the last loan that we floated, although interest thereon is due on the 17th proximo, is now selling at from £95 15s. to £95 17s. 6d. Those who invested in that loan and desire to sell at the present time must, therefore, accept considerably lessthan par. It is unfair to float a loan below the market rate. If this is to be a voluntary loan the market rate of interest should be offered. If, on the other hand, the Government think that there are a great number of people who ought to subscribe, they should make it a compulsory loan. In my view, however, a compulsory loan is unwise. It is better that our loans should be all of a voluntary character as long as we can float them in that way without having to offer an exorbitant rate of interest. Voluntary loans can be raised only by offering the market rate of interest. I repeat that there are only two ways of floating a loan. We must either offer the market rate of interest or make the loan compulsory. In that event there would be equality of sacrifice. A sacrifice is undoubtedly made in subscribing to these war loans. Those who took up the last loan, and require to sell, as many have to do from time to time, would make a sacrifice to-day of something like £7 per £100. It is unfair that -patriotic people should lose 7 per cent, on such a transaction, while others who hang back and are not frightened by the threat of compulsion escape such loss.
I am sorry to learn that we have again to borrow. I was hoping that we might escape this difficult alternative, but it appears to be impossible. If the Government say they must have the money then they must be given authority to raise it. I am sure that honorable senators generally hope that we are coming to the end of this war expenditure. The raising of this loan of £20,000,000 will bring up our war indebtedness to something like £370,000,000. I rose only to suggest that if this loan were floated at the market rate it would be maintained at about par, and that failing that it should be made compulsory. In this regard there are no half-way measures.
– The last two honorable senators to speak have raised a question as to the terms and conditions under which this future loan will be granted. I am sure they will not expect me to anticipate the prospectus before the time comes for floating the loan, since necessarily its terms must be shaped with due consideration to the circumstances prevailing at the time that it is placed on the market. I am, however, greatly impressed by Senator Fairburn’s setting of the two alternatives. I can say no more than that, but the honorable senator may rest assured that, being impressed with his views, I will place them before my colleagues, and particularly before the Acting Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook). As to the last statement made by Senator Fairbairn, that this will add to our total war indebtedness, I have to admit that in a sense it will, but it is satisfactory to know that it is to be loaned again to other borrowers who will present assets for it, and will in time pay it off. The problem is the same as when we compare the public debt of Australia with its large assets, such as railways and other reproductive works, with the public debt of a country like England in pre-war days. The bulk of this money will be loaned to soldiers who are building homes, and the indications, so far, are that not only are we securing a tangible and marketable asset for our money, but that the, men. themselves to a remarkable degree are honouring their obligations in regard to repayment. We all know that in connexion with civilian land settlement there have been certain individual losses, but on the whole the country has been well paid for what it has done in that direction. The advances made through the agricultural bank to our settlers have been attended with the most encouraging results, and there is no reason to think that our soldier settlers will differ in this regard from our ordinary civilian settlers or from their brothers who are securing loans for building homes. It is a cheering fact that, although we shall add to the total of our national debt by floating this loan, we shall have as against that the knowledge that the money has not been fired away in shot and shell, but will go towards creating an attractive and useful asset which will in time liquidate the debt which we are now asking the Senate to authorize.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Authority to borrow £20,000,000).
– A few minutes ago the Minister stated that probably the bulk of the money to be raised under this Bill will be required for advances to our returned soldiers for the purpose of erecting war service homes. I should like to know whether the Government already have authority to borrow a sum of £30,000,000 or £40,000,000? May I also inquire whether the money to be raised under this Bill can be used for paying off our indebtedness in England?
– I confess that I am rather puzzled in my attempt’ to grasp the inner significance of the honorable senator’s question. If I understand him aright, he desires to know whether the money to be raised under this Bill can be diverted by the Government to any purposes other than those which I have outlined. My reply is that, when once the Government have been authorized to float this loan, there will be nothing to prevent them from doing just what they like with the money so raised. But when they ask Parliament to authorize the flotation of a loan for specific purposes; it is not at all likely that they will depart from the assurances given when that authority was being sought.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 -
The amount borrowed shall be issued and applied only for the expenses of borrowing and for war purposes.
– We ought to have a clear understanding from the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Milieu) of the purposes to which this money will be devoted. I gathered from his remarks that it is to be used principally for the purpose of acquiring land for - returned soldiers, and for building homes for them. The honorable gentleman also stated that the loan will not add to our indebtedness, because the money will ultimately be returned to the Commonwealth. If that be so, the clause should he so amended as to definitely prescribe the purposes to which this money is to be devoted. I therefore move -
That all the words after “of” be left out with a view to inserting in lieu thereof the words “acquiring land and building homes for returned members of the Australian Imperial Force.”
– I am sure that the Committee will not seriously consider the honorable senator’s proposal. I have already indicated the main purposes for which the money to he raised under this Bill is required. If the amendment were adopted, and there happened to be only one of our soldiers left in another part of the world, we should not even be in a position to bring him back to Australia. I have previously intimated that the principal purposes for which this money is required are for the purchase of land and the building of houses for our returned soldiers. I submit that the Committee can, as on previous occasions, confidently vest this authority in the Government, limited, as it will be, by the direction that the money raised under the Bill must be expended upon war purposesalone. The Ministry already possess authority to spend £28,500,000, and by a little juggling with accounts it would be quite easy for them to expend the £20,000,000 to he raised under this Bill upon the acquisition of land and the erection of houses for our returned soldiers, and with the balance to play ducks and drakes in respect of those things which occupy so large a place in the imagination of Senator Grant.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the Minister is not entitled to use the language which he has used.
-If the honorable senator takes exception to any words used by the Minister for Repatriation, I must ask him to say precisely what they are.
– I object to the Minister’s statement that I am fond . of juggling with figures in a ducksanddrakes manner.
– In the interests of peace I will withdraw any words that I have used which are regarded by the honorable senator as offensive, or any words that I am likely to use in the future.
– What portion of this money is likely to be expended upon the construction of new railways to encourage soldier settlement? Some time ago, when dealing with this question, the Minister (Senator Millen) said that he hadhad difficulty with the States in the matter of putting into operation the portion of the Government policy prescribing preference to returned soldiers, and that he proposed to insist on that policy ‘being carried out by the States before further developments took place. I would like the Minister to give us some idea of the position of land settlement, on which a portion of this £20,000,000 is to be spent; but I have yet to learn that the Commonwealth has the slightest say in regard to the selection of land on which returned soldiers are placed. It is common talk in Queensland that in some instances the land thrown open for returned soldiers is not of the quality it might be; although I must say that in some instances very excellent land has been set aside for the purpose, and men who have begun operations on it are doing very well indeed, and are likely to do better.
– At this juncture, it is not possible to say what’ proportion of the £20,000,000 will be devoted to land settlement as distinct from the works incidental thereto. A Conference was held last year, at which the States estimated their several requirements for this purpose for the ensuing twelve’ months, and the Commonwealth undertook to advance an amount of money a little in excess of £30,000,000 for the purpose. The period has now expired, and a similar Conference is to meet next week to discuss the programme for the next twelve months. The amount to be required for works, as distinct from land settlement, will depend on what proposals the States submit; but, as far as lies in my power, effect will be given to the statement of policy which I made the other day. I have the strongest possible objection to the Commonwealth Government advancing money to the States for the construction of works on the understanding that returned soldiers are to be given preference on those works, and then to be told by the States that they cannot supply me with information as to the number of soldiers so employed. I am given to understand that in one case only 18 per cent, of the men employed are returned soldiers. This is not keeping faith with the agreement between the Commonwealth and the States, and I shall make an effort to see that the interpretation given to the agreement hitherto will not be the interpretation prevailing in the future.
– I do* not think such an .illconsidered amendment should be carried. We know that Mr. Watt, the Treasurer, is now in London very largely on important financial business affecting the Commonwealth, and that the DirectorGeneral of Raw Materials in Great Britain has ‘ made an offer to pay £30,000,000 on account of the money due to the wool-growers of Australia as their share of the half profits of the deal made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) with the British Government in regard to wool. We know, also, that we cannot get that money out to Australia - that if it is paid in London it will have to be set against our indebtedness there. Conse quently, there will be an obligation on the part of the Commonwealth Government to pay the wool-growers some cash. In these circumstances, I would like the Government to have the fullest possible latitude in regard to finances and Loan Bills during the next three months, in view of the intricate and difficult transactions for which they will be responsible during that period. If we can so manage our public finances as to give Mr. Watt a large amount of latitude in London, and allow whatever money we obtain on account of the primary producers of Australia to be placed against our indebtedness to the British Government, we shall be able, in some measure, to adjust our finances here, and be in a position to get the maximum amount for -our primary producers.
– The honorable senator’s speech indicates to me that, as a Government supporter, he has inside information as to the objects to which this proposed loam is to be devoted.
– I have no more information than the honorable senator has, but possibly I have a little more intuition.
– It is apparently in the mind of the honorable senator that a substantial portion of this loan, which is ostensibly to be raised for the purpose of acquiring land and for other services in connexion with the war, will be used in the liquidation of debts due to the primary producers of Australia. I do not know that any objection would be raised if the Government sought to borrow money for that purpose ; but when we are assured that this money is intended primarily for two objects, it is exceedingly suspicious when we find a prominent supporter of the Government indicating that, in his opinion, it would be of advantage to devote a large portion of it to other purposes.
– The Government have authority to borrow another £28,500,000.
– I am aware of that; but when a Government borrows money, it is the usual practice to indicate with a fair degree of preciseness how the money is to be spent. There is nothing in the Bill to indicate this with that degree of preciseness I would like to see, and, apparently, according to Senator Pratten, it will be quite within its scope to expend the major portion of the money towards paying our primary producers for the wool sold in London.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That this Bill bc now read a second time.
I seek the indulgence of the Senate while I express my views on a few of the arguments that have been advanced concerning this proposal. There are two main aspects from which, judging by the comments that have appeared outside, it should be considered. One is the merits of the increase itself, and the other the methods by which it is sought to give parliamentary authority to it. I propose to deal with the second first. I wish .to discuss it quite plainly, and I shall certainly endeavour to be frank.
It is argued outside that, whether the increase is justified or not, members of Parliament ought not to fix their own allowances. The critics who take up that attitude point to the absurdity of allowing an employee to fix his own wages. Those critics have lost sight of what has taken place throughout Australia. Hardly anywhere is the master or employer allowed to fix the pay of his employees. Our friends, the owners of those opulent papers, are not allowed to fix their employees’ wages. When they did, it is safe to say that the employees were not fairly paid; and -when, afterwards, the employees were enabled to go to some other tribunal, that tribunal said as plainly as it could to the newspaper proprietors, “ You have not fairly paid your workmen,” and determined that they should pay higher rates. In every State of Australia public sentiment has recognised that it is absolutely neither safe nor fair to leave it to the employer to determine what shall be paid to those who work for him. Yet we are told .to leave this matter for others to determine for us. I admit at once that there is also an objection to allowing the employee to fix his own wages, unless some special direction is given in that regard. It is not possible for Parliament to go to any .tribunal such as is open to various classes of those who are in receipt of remuneration ; but the reason why the employer has been prohibited from fixing the wages he shall pay is that the public conscience of Australia recognised that, when that was the condition of affairs, injustice prevailed. Every State, and also the Commonwealth as a whole, has determined that it was- neither fair nor just that employers should be left to settle that matter, and have set up tribunals for the purpose. It may be said, and can be’ said quite fairly, that members of Parliament may be influenced by selfinterest in their judgment in this matter. That is a danger, and there is no use disguising the fact; but we must remember that, when the Constitution was adopted, its framers inserted a specific provision that this question should be left to the members of the Federal Parliament themselves to determine. They provided in the Constitution that the remuneration should be £400 per annum until the Parliament otherwise determined. It was specifically pur. to the electors, when they were asked to accept or reject the Constitution, thai whilst that temporary provision was made, the members of the Federal Parliament themselves should be left to determine, in the light of circumstances, what the allowance should be.
Now I want to deal with the increase itself. The essence of the question is : Is the increase justified? I should like to draw attention to a very frequent comment about the composition of Parliament. There is a general complaint, largely uttered by those who to-day are criticising this Bill, that there is a lamentable want of business men in Parliament. Whether that- is a cause for lamentation or not is another matter; but it is quite true that there are very few of the prominent business men of Australia in public life. When you ask them why, they say, “We cannot afford it.” I have spoken to dozens of business men on the subject, and I have no doubt other honorable members have had the same experience. You see some one who, you think, because of bis standing in the community, and bis knowledge, would be an acquisition to Parliament, and you suggest it to him. He laughs at you, and says, “ Do you think I can neglect my affairs for all that Parliament offers?” That is a strong argument to show that the remuneration at present paid is not sufficient.
There are other factors which make it impossible fairly to compare the remuneration paid to members of Parliament for the work they do with that paid in - any other direction. When an ordinary citizen seeks service with an individual, firm, or corporation, he knows that, if his services are satisfactory, he will have some reasonable security of tenure. That is not the case with honorable members. It may be that the present remuneration would be adequate if it continued subject to good conduct, but it does not. Any man who takes up parliamentary life as a living has as much right as an ordinary citizen in .private employment to ask, not. only that he shall be able to live on what he is paid, but that he shall be able to make reasonable provision for the future. I am describing the experience of myself, and possibly the majority of members, when I say that the moment a man enters public life, prompted, if you like, by some perverse ambition, he begins to lose touch with all other opportunities of earning a livelihood outside. Many of our members have been taken into public life direct from the workshop or the mine. They come into Parliament, and in ten years’ time, or less, it would not be possible for them to go back to the work to which they were previously used. If they are thrown out, many of them, as we know, are left stranded. I do not pretend that. I. am in exactly that position. As everybody knows, I am anything but a well-to-do man, but my experience of Parliament showed me very soon that, after I had thrown myself- into my parliamentary duties, I began to lose touch with that business life with which I was previously acquainted.
– Parliamentary life would be very much the poorer for the honorable senator’s absence.
– It is very kind of the honorable senator to say so.
In view of the remarks that have been made about this proposal, I am sure the Senate will bear with me when I give my personal experience. I first entered the New South Wales Parliament in 1894, as the member for the Western District of Bourke. After four years, during which I worked for that constituency as I have never worked since, they said very nice things about me for the Land Bill 1 succeeded in getting for them, but, because on top of that the then Reid Government -had had the audacity to impose a land tax of Id. in the £1, they re*jected my services by eight votes. When I went into Parliament I had a few little interests which were running along comfortably. My parliamentary salary at that time was £300, and this with my business enabled me to live in a modest way; but when I was rejected, I commenced to look into those private affairs which I had left sailing along on an even keel. A casual glance caused me to ask what had happened to them - why the value of this or that had so altered - and I realized that the changes were due to the absence of personal supervision. I then made a resolution’ to myself - perhaps a little bit stung by what I regarded as the ingratitude of my late constituents - that I would not go into active politics again until I had made bread and butter something of a certainty. That resolution was made in 1899, or at the end of 1898, and I .did not take part in active politics for some years. I was placed in the Legislative Council, but that took up very little of one’s time; and when I came into this chamber, Senator Keating and others who were with me then, know I was not as devoted an attendant here as I became in later years. I was present on all important occasions, but I did not throw myself into the work of the Senate, because I had not then redeemed the promise I had made to myself. But when, by six or seven years’ work, I had secured a modest competence, I addressed my energies, and what capacity I had, to parliamentary business alone. As a fact,, the best thing the people of Bourke ever did for me was to reject me as their member. Had they not done so, I should have gone on neglecting my own business for politics, until some day, like some recently-defeated comrades of ours here, I would possibly have found myself looking for a job as timekeeper. There is no possibility of a man who runs straight - as I can say with pride the members of the Federal Parliament have shown themselves to do - making or saving money out of the present salary. It is nice to know, of course, that when a member dies somebody will rise in the chamber and say a few kind words, and that members, with sincerity, as I believe, will rise in their places and carry a motion of condolence to be sent on to those he left behind; but it is not comforting when one remembers that this man may not have been able to make any provision for his wife and family. The latter may not be my position, but I can say, without fear of contradiction, that it is the position of the majority who enter the public life of the country; and that is the reason I cordially support this Bill.
Then the high cost of living is having an inevitable effect on the rates of remuneration paid for services rendered. 1 will not hammer that point, because it is well recognised in every other calling of life ; and there is no reason why the principle of raising remuneration with the cost of living should not apply equally to members of this chamber.
As to whether the amount senators receive is a fair one for the services they give, let me ask them to think of the position of directors of companies, who, in quite a number of instances, arepaid anything from £200 to £600 a year. And for what? They saunter down after lunch to a directors’ room-
– What perfect rot! Senator MILLEN. - I think it is-but it is true.
– It is not true.
– I am, myself, a shareholder in a very modest company, with five directors, the chief of whom receives £600 a year, while the others are paid £500. The statement I have made is not “ rot,” but a fact. Senator Fairbairn, himself, I have no doubt, with advantage to the institutions, occupies the position of director, and the fees in connexion therewith may not be so high as the highest I quoted, but they are certainly not lower than the minimum. And what do these directors do, compared with the work of honorable senators? I do not say that these directors are overpaid, but they receive the sums I have mentioned, for attending a weekly meeting, which possibly lasts half-an-hour, or it may be, even lasts the whole afternoon. Compare their remuneration with ours. Another fact to be remembered is that a directorship does not interfere in any sense with private business, while it is impossible for a public man, especially when, as in the case of the Federal Parliament, he is dragged from distant parts of the Commonwealth to perform his duties, to make any pretence of being able to attend to any but public affairs.
SenatorKeating. - And what are the interests involved in a directorship?
– That is another point; most directors are really paid to look after their own interests, as well as the interests of the shareholders in common. I do not wish to disturb Senator Fairbairn, and I hasten to make it clear that I do not quarrel with the amount of directors’ fees; indeed, I only wish I could receive them.
– Wait until I put the case from the inside point of view.
– I am quite willing for the honorable senator to do that. I do not pretend to know much about the inner workings of big financial concerns, but we necessarily gain a little knowledge of them as we go along, and it appears to me that most directors of companies have comparatively a nominal task. They naturally trust their chief executive officer almost implicitly. He brings down to them certain recommendations as to advances, and so forth, and they, having been given certain information and ascertained that all is in order sign the recommendations. I do not suppose that any director, except in a crisis in the affairs of a company, ever went home with a headache caused by overwork; he goes home with fees representing very handsome remuneration for an hour or two hours work; and I only wish we were paid on the same scale.
– The comparison is an unfair one; directors are directors of only one company, while we are directors of the whole of the companies in the Commonwealth.
– I admit that; while our remuneration is almost ridiculous as compared with that of directors in quite small companies.
In my judgment the country has to face higher salaries for services generally. It is a scandal that we should attempt to carry on rapidly-growing public duties while responsible officers in our Departments are paid their present inadequate salaries. We are often told to run public affairs as business ‘people run their private affairs j but I do not recall a case where business men have looked into the affairs of any public Department where they have failed to say that we were not paying sufficient for the services we received. We have had two Commissions of inquiry into the Public Service. One, called an Economies Commission, has told us that we are not paying enough for certain positions - that if this country is to have an efficient public service the salaries must be higher. It is absurd, in my opinion, that the Secretary to the Treasury, who has to deal with all the war loan operations, receives only £900 a year, and the same may be said of the Secretary of the Defence Department, in view of his work during the last four or five years. It is curious when we contrast the salaries paid to public servants, and the clamour which runs through the country when it is proposed to raise them, with the equanimity and silence with which a proposal is received to call in a few outside business men to perform some public work, and pay them three times the remuneration of the permanent officials. We have an Inter-State Commission, the chairman of which receives a salary, I think, of £2,500 per annum; and there are two other commissioners,- each re.ceiving £2,000 per annum. To do, what?
– That is what many people would like to know.
– To discharge ohe only among the many responsibilities which had hitherto fallen upon the shoulders of the officers of a Government Department. A Business Board was attached to the Defence Department. The whole of the activities of that Department hitherto had been carried on, necessarily under the Minister, but by the Secretary to the Department, who was receiving a salary of £900 per annum. These business gentlemen came along, and the country said nothing when they were appointed at salaries of £2,500 and £2,000 per annum. Moreover, when the Business Board required an accountant, it secured a man at an annual salary of £1,200 to step in and help the business men to worK the responsibilities connected with which had for years rested upon the shoulders of a public official drawing £900 per annum. There was no murmur on the .part of the press or the people in regard to the salaries of these business gentlemen; and there has been no murmur of protest in respect of the pay of the public servant who - tied to his position - was there to be sweated. Apparently, a business man, upon taking over the control of any public activity, may be paid practically any salary, no matter how high; but we must hot pay a fair salary to ‘ an officer permanently attached to the service of the country.
I want to deal with the expressions of public opinion, so far as we have heard them, in regard to the matter of increased parliamentary salaries. It is assumed that public opinion is adverse, and I think that is possibly true in Victoria; but, if true, it has been largely worked up. The public opinion of Victoria, however, is not the public opinion of Australia. It is one of the chronic mistakes - and an intensifying one - into which the press of this city has fallen. True, two of the .public journals of Melbourne have criticised and denounced the proposal; but, in seeking to gauge the public opinion of the Commonwealth, may I not turn also to the press of the capital city of my own State? And may I not say, further - with all ‘humility and with bated breath - that, whatever else its defects, Sydney is such an important city that it has a right to be considered when one desires to gauge Australian public opinion? ‘ Of the four leading journals in Sydney, two - namely, tie Daily Telegraph and the Sun - have openly supported the proposition; the Herald has kept silence in the matter, while the Evening News has expressed an adverse opinion. One of the three journals in Melbourne also has come out openly in favour of the proposed increased remuneration. There being two newspapers against the proposition and one for it in Melbourne, upon which basis it is said that the public opinion of Victoria is adverse, then working upon the same arithmetical basis, I am entitled to say that public opinion in New South Wales is be- hind the purpose of the Federal Legislature. I have not had opportunity to gauge the views expressed by the newspapers of other States ; but it is wrong to assume that, because a scream has emanated from Collins-street, we are necessarily to understand that the people of Australia have spoken.
– A scream from Flinders-lane, also.
– As a matter of fact, that is not so. One may ask any man one meets in Flinders-lane, and is almost sure to be told that neither that business man, nor any of ‘his confreres in the Lane, would serve in this Legislature for three times the salary at present paid.
I have been rather stung into the comments which I am now making by the misrepresentations of the press concerning the remuneration paid to those who enter parliamentary life. I confess that I become rather annoyed when I see and hear references to “ pickings,” as if there were some sort of secret commission which we were receiving illicitly; as though there were remuneration or benefit furnished, without public knowledge, over and above our salaries. There is no honorable senator present - I feel confident in saying so - who gets anything of which the public do not know. Thereis a lot that the public think we are getting, but which we do not receive at all. People have assumed, for example, that we lunch and dine in these precincts at public expense. I am dealing with this phase of the matter because the press, in manufacturing hostile public opinion, has not published the whole truth, although I cannot believe that pressmen have been unaware of that whole truth. I turn for confirmation of that statement to recent comments upon Ministerial salaries.
The papers have been telling the public that Ministers get £1,650 per annum as Ministers, plus £400 as members; that is to say, £2,050 in all annually. The press knows perfectly well that Ministers do not receive that sum. I make that statement, and will prove it from my own personal knowledge and experience. I am receiving to-day less than £800 per annum for being Minister in control of the Repatriation Department. I cite my own case, not because I want to press my own claims, but for the reason that I am master of my own figures, I do not know how any others among my colleagues may be affected. I submit these individual statistics, not as a personal matter, but as being indicative. It is said that we are voted by Parliament, and receive, £2,050 per annum. I say that I am getting less than £800 for being a Minister. Here is the position: As aprivate member I should receive £600. As a member and as a Minister I get less than £1,400. While I should be in receipt of £600 as an ordinary member of the Federal Legislature, I am getting under £800 for being a Federal Minister. When a member becomes a Minister, his salary as a member drops from £600 to £400 per annum. I receive from Cabinet, every month, within a few shillings of £100. That is to say, my salary is £1,200 annually. Honorable senators know this; but, in order to let it get beyond these walls, if possible, may I be allowed to say how it is that, while Parliament votes £1,650 per annum to a Minister, he receives only £1,200? It is not because he does not want the larger amount; at least, I speak for myself, and will chance it on behalf of my colleagues. Honorable senators know full well that there are Honorary Ministers - so-called. I give away no secrets in so expressing myself. Why does a Cabinet invite the co-operation of Honorary Ministers, to whom its members pay portion of their salaries? Do they doit for fun ? No ; but because the number of paid members of Cabinet is not sufficient to carry on the public work.of the country unless Ministers are prepared to go nearer to breaking down than they have been in the past. For some reason, however, this country does not believe additional Ministers are necessary. We do believe and know that extra Ministers are necessary, and we would rather pay them their salaries than go without their assisting services. It is a long-standing practice for Honorary Ministers to share in the salaries of other Ministers. Another consideration is this : Can it be expected that Parliament should be carried on without the assistance of Whips? It would be impossible. Where does the money come from which is paid to the Whips? The offices of Whips are part of the necessary parliamentary machinery; and Ministers pay the salaries attached to those offices, and not the country. Still another consideration, and this has to do with the entertainment of distinguished visitors; and I make special reference here again to these talked-of “ pickings.” If a distinguished stranger arrives in Melbourne, and Cabinet, as the merest act of courtesy, invites him to lunch, who pays for it] Not the country ! The country is loafing on Ministers, and has let them pay the cost out of their own pockets. Another way i.a which this country has loafed on Ministers is in this respect : Last year the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) were sent to Europe on a public mission, the high importance of which I need not stress. When we sent them away in pursuance of public business, whose duty was it to have paid the salaries of the locum tenens appointed to carry on in their stead?
– It was the duty of the country.
– It was, but it was Ministers who paid ,them. If any editor of a newspaper in this country goes to a conference in London, or somewhere else, is he expected to pay the expenses of his substitute? Not at all. If he goes on a mission of that nature, or on business connected with his paper, the expenditure of providing a temporary successor necessarily falls upon the proprietors of the journal. But when the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) went to London on important public business, the services of two extra Honorary Ministers had to be obtained in order to carry on the work which these two Cabinet Ministers were unable to perform, because they were away from Australia, not on a joy ride, but on urgent public business. I mention these facts because, when there is any talk about “ pickings “ I want to remind the country that there has been quite enough “picking “ at the remuneration paid to Cabinet Ministers.
But let me get back to my figures. I get £1,200 from the Cabinet, plus £400 0which I am entitled to receive as a private member, making the total £1,600. But if I had remained a private member I would have been entitled to £600 as an emolument, and therefore I receive only an additional sum of £1.000 for my position as a Cabinet Minister.
Now I want to show what happens to this £1,000. First of all, I remind honorable senators that Ministers hitherto have not drawn any travelling expenses, and I wish to tell the Sena.te something of my movements last year. A trip to Western Australia occupied thirty-five days; I had two trips each to Brisbane, and to South Australia, all exclusively on public business. I am not saying anything about my own State, and I am cutting out the numerous small trips which I also made on departmental business in Victoria and New South Wales. I find, from my cheque book, that last year my travelling expenses in connexion with the visits I have especially mentioned amounted to £97. I am not going to say that I do that amount of travelling each year, but no Minister who pretends to discharge his public duties and travel throughout the Commonwealth, can expect to do it for less than £75 a year, I was away in Western Australia for thirty-five days, and I find - I do not want to worry honorable senators with the details - that I drew a cheque for £25 when I left Melbourne, and another cheque for £25 in Western Australia, and landed back in Melbourne with £2 or £3 in my pocket.
– You did it very cheaply.
– I did. But T could not have done it so cheaply but for the fact that I travelled over by boat, and necessarily on board ship it is not possible to incur much expenditure, while on the return journey by train there were not many opportunities for a man living the immaculate life I lead, and not gambling, of spending a great deal. I am putting my travelling expenses last year at £75, though, as a matter of fact, they were nearly £100, and I contend that I am entitled to make a deduction of that amount from my Ministerial salary.
I want to say something more about this matter, and probably I shall offend the susceptibilities of Melbourne people, though I do not care very much about that just now. Ministers from the other States are in a very awkward position indeed as to their living arrangements. No man likes to cut himself adrift from the State he represents, but some members from far-distant States are obliged to keep up two homes. Fortunately I am in the same position as honorable senators from
South Australia, I can keep reasonably in touch with my State, and so I am not going to pull up my home in Sydney and come over to Melbourne to live. I may be told, of course, that, as my work is here, I ought to live here, but I am entitled to ask those who say this what tenure will they give me. Not three minutes if many of them had their way. And 1 might also ask if they would be prepared to pay my removal expenses, as is done in the case of public servants? Of course they would not. I decline to make any further breach in my relation with my State. Although for the last two years, as a Cabinet Minister, I have .spent about 80 per cent, of my time in this city, and have thus incurred additional expenditure, which I am entitled to include in my balance-sheet. I am not going to say what it costs me to live in Melbourne; but honorable senators know that one cannot obtain bare lodgings here for less than £3 a week. At all events, I am putting my expenses down at that figure. I hesitate to tell honorable senators the details of my personal arrangements in this city, but, after all is said and done, perhaps that is worth more than argument, and so I inform them that I keep two modest rooms in this city, and pay that amount for them. I have other expenses, of course, but I am assuming that they represent about what I would have to pay each week if I went backwards and forwards to my own State. It is costing me a lot more to live in Melbourne, but I am putting the figure down at £150 a year. I do not intend to bring my family over here. If I did so, I might be put to Ohe expense of taking them back in a few months’ time, because of political changes that are always among the probabilities of our life.
Let me carry this statement a little further. I am putting forward a balancesheet which no accountant in the country will dispute. I have given two items, which are perfectly legitimate deductions from my salary, namely, travelling expenses and the extra expenditure I have to incur through having to live so mud longer in Melbourne, as a Minister, than would be the case if I were a private member. But I remind honorable senators of another form of expenditure - the progressive income tax. I would not object to pay taxation upon the extra income1 1 receive here, but. the effect of the additional Ministerial salary is to increase the taxation upon my private income. Besides the Federal, there is also a State progressive income tax, and with the two I am considerably below the mark when I say that the effect is to reduce my Ministerial income by, at least, £50.
– It would he much more if you were a Queensland taxpayer.
– I am sufficiently thankful to have even something as moderate as the New South “Wales Government. If honorable senators will add- these three items together, they will find that my net Ministerial income is £750 a year, although I have placed i; at £800.
Now, forgetting the individual for a moment, will any man say that it is not worth £800 to run the Repatriation Department ? ‘ My case is typical of that of other Ministers, although I do not know my colleagues’ figures in relation to expenditure. I remember that when the people of this country were first talking about repatriation there was a strong demand in the press and elsewhere to appoint the best man available. “ Pay him anything,” they said, “pay him £3,000 a year, pay him £10,000 if necessary. The amount does not matter if wo get the right man.” 1 am not going to say that the country could not have got an infinitely better man for the job, but I do say that £800 a year is a scandalous remuneration for it.
I have put these facts forward so that people outside may know, when it is said that Ministers get £1,600 a year, plus £400’ as private members, just how we stand in the matter. There is my balance-sheet, and I venture to say it does not vary materially from those of my colleagues.
This brings me to another question. I do not know .the views of my colleagues on this matter, but I say that, if there is one anomaly or scandal in connexion with the public life of this country, it is the beggarly pittance given to the Prime Minister. He is receiving a little more than his colleagues on the figures I have submitted, but honorable senators must realize that, notwithstanding his .tremendous responsibility and arduous and incessant work, he is not receiving more than an -inspector or an accountant in an ordinary banking institution. Owing to the multifarious duties that have been cast upon the Government iri consequence of the war, and largely because of the growing tendency, in Australia, whether right or wrong, of looking to the Government to assist in the increasing activities of daily life, the remuneration of the Prime Minister is such that it ought not to be allowed to continue any longer at the present amount. No provision has been made in this measure to increase it, and I am entitled, therefore, to speak concerning it with, much greater freedom.
– It should have been made.
– Most decidedly.
– ‘Will not some one take the responsibility of doing it ?
– I am merely expressing my views, but an effort should be made to see that the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia, who is carrying a huge burden of responsibility and handling such complex questions in which tremendous interests are vitally involved, should be paid a salary more commensurate with his responsibilities. In South Africa, a country with a white population of 1,250,000, the Prime Minister is paid £3,500 a year, and is provided with two official residences. In addition there are nine other Ministers each receiving £2,500 a year.
I could quote a number of other examples in other Dominions to show that the remuneration paid to members of the Commonwealth Parliament is quite inadequate. I do not think the minds of the Australian people will be influenced to any extent by the expressions in a perverted press.
– We should try to enlighten the people.
– Is it possible for us to enlighten them when we have a press conducting a campaign of opposition the whole time?
– It could be done from the public platform.
– If the honorable senator suggests that we should have raised the question when we were before the electors, how can he reconcile that opinion with the fact that we are from day to day passing measures that were never submitted to the electors? Our constituents heard nothing of such measures as the Anglo-Persian Oil Agreement, and does any honorable senator say that this House is paralyzed because that measure was not mentioned? If there is such a thing as responsibility the Government should do what they think right, and having done so should stand or fall by their actions. We have to do what we think right, and it is for our constituents to say whether they approve or not of our action.
May I remind honorable senators that all these threats and forebodings of dire disaster were filling the air in this chamber om a previous occasion when members were moving in the direction of increasing their remuneration. ‘The elections came on in due course,’ and I, as a candidate, was not asked more than twice to account for my action. I did not hear the question generally discussed at the elections, and all those candidates who opposed the proposition were, slaughtered by the electors, while those who voted for it were returned.. As a matter of fact the people outside will not regard this as a venal siu. I am not disposed to think that the people, as a whole, will resent our action, and if they do I shall not complain, because it is merely their right. I am doing what I consider proper, aud my constituents will have an opportunity of saying whether I have done right or wrong. If they believe that I have acted unwisely I shall not whimper if they takethe opportunity that will be given them of punishing me. I have no sympathy with members of Parliament who areopposing this Bill; but I am prepared torespect their opinions on the condition that they show their sincerity by theirlater actions. I do not believe in thesincerity of a man who says that this isa scandal and something that should not be done, and who, the moment the measure becomes law, puts forward his hand’ to receive the additional remuneration. I noticed the statement of a gentleman who said that he was going to fight this thing to the death. May I put this forward? When the original motion wasbefore another place, it required only five minutes to talk it out, and is it to be - believed for one moment that amongst those stalwarts who opposed it they could wot find one to have continued the debate until the motion lapsed? Alone-
– You could have done it.
– Exactly. If I wanted to kill the motion, and it only required five minutes to do it, it would have been an easy matter, and I think I am justified in saying that there is not an experienced parliamentarian who, given one or two to help him, could not have gone on for hours. We have had an experience here of an honorable senator who debated a question for, I believe, twelve hours. When honorable senators speak of the harm we are doing, and refer to the paralyzing effect our action will have on the country, we have only to consider that they who are in opposition to the proposal could have defeated it by continuing the debate for another five minutes. I believe neither in the courage nor the sincerity of such men. Those honorable gentlemen who have taken up that attitude will prove their sincerity if, when this measure becomes law - if it does - they say that until the question has been dealt with by the electors they will refrain from receiving the extra remuneration. I shall respect their consistency, and believe in their utterances. Unless they do that, I must be allowed to hold the opinion I have already expressed, and which I now repeat, that I believe neither in their courage nor their sincerity.
– This Bill is a number of years overdue. No doubt, if the Government had not been more than fully employed in connexion with war work during recent years, such a measure as this would have been submitted three years ago. So far as I have been able to gauge public opinion, there is no Teal objection to the members of this Parliament making a substantial addition to their present modest salary. Some objection has been taken by the nondescripts of the press in Collins-street; but I believe those objections have been disregarded by all reasonable and right-thinking persons throughout the Commonwealth. I am glad the Government have submitted this as a purely non-party measure. It will be remembered that originally members of Parlia ment were not paid at all, as it was regarded as an honour to occupy a seat in Parliament. But the people tired of that, and decided that if men were to perform important workthey should be paid for their services. The salaries paid to members of some State Parliaments are very small indeed. As a matter of fact, the salary originally fixed for members of the Federal Parliament was only £400. It was soon found to be totally inadequate, but for some reason which has never been explained to me members refused year after year to look after themselves. They quite indorsed the idea of paying substantial salaries to permanent officials, but probably on account of some insignificant opposition outside this building they neglected to attend to their own requirements. Some years ago a proposal was made to increase the salary from £400 to a substantially higher amount, but unfortunately evil counsels prevailed, with the result that the amount was increased to only £600. So far as I can judge, this measure is not likely to meet with serious opposition in this Chamber; nearly all honorable senators are of opinion that they are fully entitled to the proposed increase. I do not for a moment imagine that the salary will remain at £1,000; as the years pass and the country develops an even higher salary will be found to be necessary. Countries like Argentina and the United States of America pay their parliamentarians very much higher salaries than are paid in Australia, and I feel certain that this country will not be long in following suit. This proposal to increase our salaries to £1,000 per annum follows upon a representative expression of opinion in another place. The people who complain about the increase do not seem to realize how small an item it is in this country’s financial affairs; it does not amount to 21/2d. per head of the population per annum. Therefore, the additional burden is not likely to inconvenience the taxpayers in any way. I do not say that the salaries paid to the permanent officials are too high, but the increase proposed by this Bill is long overdue.
I notice in the Bill one discrepancy which can possibly be remedied. While the salaries of senators will continue until the termination of the period for which they are elected, the salaries of members of another place will cease the moment the House is dissolved, and will not start again until the date of re-election. That will impose a considerable hardship on honorable members, because a representative has to attend to the work of his constituency during the period between the dissolution of the House and the election. I think we should provide that the salary of a retiring member of another place should continue until his successor is elected or he himself is re-elected. I am surprised that members of another place have not corrected that defect in the Bill. Another suggestion I make is that this increase of salary should be made retrospective to the date of the last election. That would be a very reasonable proposition, but for some reason best known to themselves the Government have not seen fit to include such a provision. I think that steps should be taken to amend the Bill in that respect.
With much that was said by Senator Millen in moving the second reading of the Bill I agree. This Chamber should realize that the public have no objection to our increasing our salaries as the Constitution entitles Us to do. I therefore support the second reading, and I see no reason why the Bill should not be passed without delay. .
– Except for a brief rest which the electors gave me at one period I have been in public life for seventeen years, and I do not think I have ever addressed myself to a subject as reluctantly as I speak to this Bill. However, I, like the nations of the earth, claim the right of self-determination, and I grant the same right to every other honorable senator. I find it difficult enough to look after my own conscience, and I make no effort to interfere with the conscience of any other man. Each of us has to do in this State what in his opinion is right. I congratulate the Leader of the Senate (Senator Millen ) on the manner in which he placed the Bill before the Chamber, and with almost everything he said I am in sympathy. I am sorry, however, that he should have repeated street-corner gossip about directors and “guinea pigs.”
– Do directors never get fees?
– They always get fees.
– Then why is my statement street-corner gossip?
– The gossip to which I object is that directors do nothing in return for the fees they collect. However, that does not affect the question before the Senate, because my only objection to the increase in salary is the fact that we are giving it to ourselves - that we are, as it were, dipping our hands into the public purse. The position of a member of a directorate is entirely different from that of a member of this Parliament. Under all articles of association that I know of, the remuneration of company directors is fixed by the shareholders. If there is to be any change in the remuneration, two meetings of the shareholders are required to give it effect - the first to decide the amount, and the second, within fourteen days, to confirm the decision. The fact that the shareholders of a company determine what fees shall be paid to its directors differentiates the position of a director entirely from that of a member of Parliament. I have been a director of a great many companies.
– The honorable senator will do me the justice to admit that I made the comparison with respect to remuneration for work done.
– I think the honorable senator cannot have been on many boards of directors.
– It has never been my luck.
– Or the honorable senator’s misfortune. It would be his luck while things were going right, but if things happened to go wrong ho would soon find out what the shareholders thought about him. When a company is well managed, and the shareholders attend meetings mainly to collect dividends, there is not much said about the directors, but it is often suggested that they do nothing at all. That is what led me to display a little annoyance at the way in which the comparison instituted by the honorable senator was made. Company directors have often an immense amount of work to do, and in many cases they are able to bring an enormous quantity of business to the companies with which they are associated. I know that I had the pleasure of bringing to a company with which I was associated business to the extent of £60,000 in one year. I have never since that time had any hesitation in accepting the £200 a year which I receive as remuneration for my services on the board of directors of that company.
In my opinion the only objection there can possibly be to the Bill before us is that, under it, members of this Parliament are, as it were, helping themselves.
– Who else is there to help them?
– This is an objection to the proposal which appeals very strongly to me. I am in entire sympathy with almost everything which the Minister for Repatriation said. Perhaps I should say little about this matter, as I am in a specially favoured position, since I live practically alongside Parliament House, and am saved the expense of coming here from some distant State. Providence, also, has been good to me in many ways, and I do not depend entirely on the salary I receive as a member of this Parliament. These considerations add to the reluctance I have in speaking at all on this question. I quite agree that the amount proposed is not a bit too much for ‘ honorable members coming from a distance, who must incur expense in travelling, and who possibly have to keep up homes in distant States. I have been impressed by what the Minister has had to say, but I have always held the opinion that our friend, the Leader of the Senate (Senator Millen), as the manager of a business, would be cheap to any company at £5,000 a year. In this Parliament he is expected, to perform far more arduous duties, but he should not be expected to perform them only from patriotic motives. As the president of a hospital, I know that at one time the idea generally prevailed that because they were working for a charitable institution the employees of the hospital should give their services for nothing, or next to nothing. I am afraid that amongst some people a similar impression prevails about members of Parliament.
I repeat that what I object to in connexion with this proposal is that we are obliged, as it were, to help ourselves. How is that difficulty to be overcome? The Minister for Repatriation, in his splendid style, reminded us that we cannot in any walk of life trust the employer to fix the remuneration of the employee. The public are our employers, and if this question were put before them at a referendum, I am afraid that the salaries of honorable senators, instead of being raised, would be cur down.
– That was the experience in South Australia.
– Members of the South Australian Parliament asked for only £300, and yet were refused.
– No doubt members of Parliament have to incur all kinds of expenses which cannot be referred to the public. I agree with Senator Millen that the life of a member of Parliament is so exacting and upsetting that he cannot possibly at the Same time attend to his private business properly. I know that, some time ago, people were continually badgering me about entering Parliament. It used to be put to me in this way, “You have a big- stake in the country, and you ought to go into Parliament “ My answer was, “My dear fellow, your small stake in the country keeps you going, and is of the same importance to you as my big stake, which keeps me going, is to me.” I felt that if I let go of my business, I might soon find myself in the Insolvency Court. Like the Minister for Repatriation, I did not let go of my business until I felt that I had things in a fairly sound position. I then succeeded in entering Parliament, and I have since been a good deal out of touch with my business, and feel that I cannot give it the attention which I used to give it. I am sure that other honorable senators must be in the same position. My experience is that if a man has made money, ho may be in Parliament and keep it, but it is not possible for a man to make money as a member of Parliament. This is a reason why the salary paid to members of Parliament should be sufficient, not only to enable them to live, but to put a little by for those who are near and dear to them.
I believe that honorable members of this Parliament who attend from distant States should receive an allowance of at least £1,000 a year, and I agree, also, that Ministers should receive an adequate reward for their important services. I have given a good deal of consideration to this matter in trying to overcome the objection that, in fixing their allowance, members of the Parliament help themselves. I speak for myself, and I think, at the same time, I can speak for every other member of the Senate when 1 say that none of us likes the idea of helping himself. The real question is as to how that difficulty is to be overcome. The Minister for Repatriation has pointed out the reason why we cannot put this question to our employers - the people. I consider his reasons unchallengeable. I do not think we could put the matter in the hands of the Arbitration Court, because, if we did, one gentleman in an exalted position in this Parliament might not receive very reasonable treatment. Another reason is that Parliament is the “ boss “ of the Arbitration Court, and the “ boss “ can scarcely go before his employee to have his wages fixed. There is a suggestion which I should like to make to overcome the objection that by the method proposed in the Bill before the Senate we are fixing our own remuneration. We are shortly to have a Convention called together to alter the Constitution. Any alteration decided upon must be put to the people by way of referendum. My idea is that the Government should bring before the proposed Convention some suggestion whereby members’ allowances would not be fixed by themselves, but would be provided for in a constitutional way.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended, I was suggesting a way out of the very difficult position in which honorable senators find themselves when attempting to fix their own salaries. It is proposed that in the near future a Convention shall be called for the purpose of revising our Constitution, and I think that one of the duties of that body should be to study this question with a view to devising some means whereby members of this Parliament may escape from the awkward position with which they are confronted. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) has clearly shown that we can- not reasonably be expected to allow our employers to fix our ‘ remuneration. Every member of this Chamber will give his assent to that proposition. Personally, I think that any alteration in our emoluments should be made, in the first instance, by this Parliament, whose recommendation should afterwards be submitted for approval to another body, constituted, perhaps, as the proposed Convention will be.
– All constitutional amendments must be the subject of a referendum.
– I am well aware of that. My own idea is that the recommendation of this Parliament as to the allowance which should be paid to its members should be submitted for approval to aBoard consisting, preferably, of the Chief Justice of the High Court and the Chief Justices of the various States.
– Absolute nonsense. The honorable senator is saying, in effect, that the people send representatives here who cannot be trusted.
– They do not wish to be trusted to fix their own rate of remuneration. To me, there is nothing more unpleasant than to be called upon to assess the value of my own services to my constituents. To see ourselves as others see us may be a good thing for us, but it is the reverse of pleasant. Quite recently, our services have been assessed at a very low value.
– Only by a certain section of the press.
– We wish to avoid that. I think that this question should be remitted, in the form of a recommendation, to a Board such as I have indicated. Our salaries have been raised only once since the establishment of the Commonwealth, and it may be many years before the subject again comes under review. I ask the Minister to make a note of my suggestion that the recommendation of Parliament should be submitted for ratification to a judicial tribunal.
– Consisting of men whom Parliament has appointed to their present positions.
– Consisting of men to whom we intrust our very lives. That being the case, they may surely be intrusted with the revision of our salaries. I am sorry that Senator Thomas still adheres to the iniquitous system under which he is called upon to fix his own remuneration as a member of this Parliament. I desired to escape from such a humiliating position.
– We only fix it for our own term in Parliament.
– That is so. But in doing so we are placed in a humiliating position, from which we are naturally anxious to escape. I repeat that any alteration which may he made in our emoluments should first take the form of a recommendation by Parliament to a judicial body such as I have suggested. I entertain the greatest possible sympathy for those parliamentary representatives who, consequent upon a change of political opinion on the part of the electors, are just about to leave us. We must all recognise that they have been very harshly treated. Some of them were drawn from the plough, others from the shearing shed, and others, again, from the mines. They have spent a number of years here, where their experiences must have rendered them quite unfit to resume their former avocations. I would like to see something done for them, and if the alteration which is now being effectedin our parliamentary allowance can be made retrospective in their case to the last elections, the proposal will command my hearty support.
There is just one other matter to which I desire to refer. Senator Millen stated that any honorable senator who opposes this increase and afterwards accepts it will place himself in a despicable position.
– I did not say that. I said that any honorable senator who stigmatizes our action as dishonest, and who afterwards accepts the increased allowance, will occupy a despicable position.
– I am glad that the Minister has made that interjection, because I was not aware that his statement had been made subject to any such qualification. I did not intend to introduce the personal element into the discussion, but I feel bound to say that if the measure passes, the increase in my own parliamentary allowance will be returned to the Consolidated Revenue.
– It does not surprise me that this very urgent matter has now been brought to a head. My own parliamentary experience, extending over the past three years, has impressed me with the fact that, no matter how pressing may have been the necessity for an increase in our parliamentary emoluments, that increase could not be effected whilethe war was in progress. Occupying, as I do, the position of a detached spectator in regard to this Bill, so far as money matters are concerned, I am quite prepared to approve it. ‘I shall not blow hot and cold in regard to it, but shall support it entirely upon its merits. I know that it is the custom of many persons outside of Parliament, and also of thepress, to sneer at the position which we occupy. But the position of a parliamentary representative of the people is one which I regard as dignified, honorable, and responsible. Yet we all have to submit to gibes from ignorant electors and quips from the press. It seems to be generally overlooked that if we are to efficiently discharge our duties we must devote our best energies to the welfare of the State.
In considering this measure, every honorable senator has to ask himself four questions, namely : “ Is the present salary adequate?” “ Is the proposal which is now before us a reasonable one ?” “ Can it be justified?” and, “Should it be accepted and given effect to ?” I think there is a fair unanimity, even amongst opponents of the Bill, that the present parliamentary allowance is entirely inadequate, and that the proposal which is embodied in this measure is a reasonable one, and one that can be justified. The only opposition to the Bill springs from the fear that people outside will say that we are increasing our own salaries without reference to them. I take up the position, however, that I am as good a judge of what ought to be given as a parliamentary allowance as they are. Certainly I am in a far better position to judge than most outside critics who know nothing whatever of the internal workings of this Parliament. Even the opponents of the measure will accept the increased remuneration, and should any member of this Parliament refuse to do so, it will only be because he has sufficient money for his needs and is in easy circumstances.
– And perhaps because he lives next door to Parliament.
I listened with very great interest to the speech of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen), and, speaking as a private member, I would respectfully remind him that, hard as h.s own circumstances may be, the circumstances of the average member of this Parliament “who has no means of livelihood outside his parliamentary allowance are still harder. Although the Minister may be very closely engaged with important matters of State, it must not be forgotten that the private member is also required to devote the whole of his time to the affairs of the Commonwealth.
– I want the honorable senator to understand that I dealt with my own circumstances only as typical of those of Ministers generally, and not for the purpose of making any special plea for myself.
– And I am dealing with the circumstances which are typical of the rank and file of this Parliament. The representatives” of the more distant States have travelling expenses to pay, we all have election expenses to defray, and members of the other branch of the Legislature suffer probably to the extent from £25 to £50 in the interregnum between the day on which their pay ceases and the day on which it commences at every general election. There are two income taxes to pay, and there are many other obligations on members of Parliament. I say deliberately that, however economical Inter-State members may be, £600 a year does not mean more, at the very most, than £400 a year to them as a net income.
There are further matters to consider. I am one of ‘ those who. believe that the average member of Parliament is better than the average elector who sends him here. Varied as the qualifications of the members of this Parliament may be, there is not one man sent into this chamber or another place but who has been elected because he has some outstanding qualification. It may be that he is peculiarly fitted for public life; it may be that he represents some very large organization; it may be that he is the delegate of a large number of electors; a good speaker; a clever organizer; a man with sound financial views; a manfamiliar with social problems; or a man with special commercial or legal knowledge; but every man sent into this Parliament has some outstanding qualification to represent the electors in some shape or form. By virtue of that fact alone it is a shame that men of that type should be practically kept on the bread line. We know of our own knowledge that a member of the Commonwealth Parliament, who has no private means, but who has a family to keep and attends systematically to his duties, has to look at every shilling he spends. It is “ over the odds “ that while travelling on InterState railways the average member of Parliament should not be able to afford to treat himself in the same way as the average business man does, and yet that actually happens. I think, too, it is a tragedy to see men who are thrown out by the electors, after giving the best years of their lives to parliamentary business, and being unfitted for other avocations, having to scratch around for a’ living, and ultimately, perhaps, taking positions such as night watchmen or tally clerks. I shall not stand for that while I am here, in spite of all the screaming of the Melbourne press and of men who have very much more of this world’3 goods than the average member of Parliament.’ has.
My own experience, perhaps, ‘ comes within the ambit of this debate. After un experience of three years, I find I have averaged over 100 days a year in attending to my duties in Parliament in Melbourne; I have averaged an attendance on other public duties, while away travelling, of over fifty days a year; I have sacrificed, to some extent, my home and family joys. I have paid my own expenses, and if I were put only on the basis of the ordinary commercial traveller I should be entitled to 25s. per day for expenses for the time that I have spent away from home.
The sum of £600 a year to the members of this Parliament, as a full payment for all their responsibilities, discomforts, and expenses, does not represent a fair living wage. It is not a remuneration anything like in accord with the standard of the remunerations paid in commercial and financial circles. Railway Commissioners, directors of banks and financial institutions, general managers and departmental managers in drapery shops, and, in fact, even good ledger-keepers, have been paid more than the members of this Parliament receive. It is time that this was altered, and I commend the Government for bringing forward the Bill, which I, for one, shall support. The life of members from New South “Wales and South Australia in particular is not a very “ joyful” one in connexion with trying to carry out our duties. It furnishes evidence of very high civic spirit, but that is all the consolation that we can get out of the existing conditions. Every week for three, four, five, or six months in the year we spend two nights in the train, two in Melbourne, and three at home. I do not think Senator Fairbairn would do that for all the tea in China, and yet we hear the gibe that business men will not come into Parliament. They will not come here because they know they will not be adequately remunerated. They know that, before they com© down here, in order to live and maintain a fair standard of comfort, they must have some private means. They also know the discomforts that Federal members from other States haveto put up with. I think I have made out somewhat of a case to show that the present salary is inadequate, that the proposals before us are reasonable, and that they can be justified. I come now to the question of whether they can be accepted.
Personally, I should have preferred some increase to have come in the direction of a special Inter-State allowance; but I am not going to criticise the Bill on that account, because it must be remembered that most of the opposition to the Bill comes from members who live in Melbourne. As was shown by the opposition expressed in another place yesterday, I would point out, without being personal in any share or form to Senator Fairbairn, that eighty or ninety members, out of the total of 111 in this Parliament, live outside Mel-‘ bourne, and have to consider their homes in other States. I should have accepted as a fair compromise some special InterState allowance, but I take it that that would have been objected to even by those people who object to this Bill, and I understand, also, that it could not fairly, or perhaps legally or constitutionally, be done.
If members are worth paying at all, they are worth paying a salary that does not belittle the position. If the position is not worth £1,000 a year, or if the electors do not consider me worth that amount to fill it, then they will have the choice of finding a man who is worth the salary attached to it. We ought to spend, and must spend, the whole of our time discharging our parliamentary duties. No. man living in another State can attend to another business successfully. If he attempts to carry on business in addition to his parliamentary duties, he is more likely to lose than to make money. That is my experience. We do not come down here for money. The force which should impel any man who aspires to parliamentary honours is the desire to be of service to his country. No business man would accept a position in this Parliament for the salary alone when he could in hundreds of other directions get a much’ greater remuneration outside. We come here to try to do some service to our country. We try to do our job honestly. It is not only the hours we spend in this chamber, but also the hours that we have to spend in research and investigation in order to understand the many problems with which. we are faced. We deal one week with oil, another week with wool, and another week with something else. Week after week we have to deal with problems many times greater than those with which many of our great commercial magnates are confronted. With those problems we do our very best to grapple.
Senator Fairbairn advocated the fixing of the allowance of members of Parliament by an outside judicial body. That course amounts, I think, to disloyalty to the Constitution, and an abrogation and evasion of the duties of members as laid’ down by the framers of the Constitution, and indorsed by the people of the Commonwealth. Our articles of association, as members of Australia Unlimited, are contained within the Constitution, and that document provides that the allowance shall be so much until otherwise determined by Parliament. We are determining to-day, I hope unanimously, to pay ourselves a fair living wage. Our duties are much more onerous than the dilettante duties of the members of the first Parliament, who, per.haps, spent only a month or two of the year in Melbourne. We have now worldwide territorial and international problems to deal with, requiring the whole of a member’s time and ability, and for that reason alone he should be placed beyond the necessity to exercise parsimonious economy.
– What I have to say on this matter will probably be received with a certain amount of scepticism by the rest of the members of the Senate, because I realize that the Bill is going to become law, and that I shall not participate in any advantage to be reaped from it Some may therefore say that, in opposing the measure, I am not doing justice to myself or to those who are to come after me. Still, I believe the Bill ought not to have been brought before the’ Senate until after the 1st July next, when the new senators will be able to take their seats. Honorable senators will accept my assurance that, even if I could have come back here after that date, my attitude towards the Bill would’ not have been affected by that fact. I was under the impression that it did not need an- expert to explain to the people of Australia that an increased salary was necessary for members of Parliament. I have read the debates in another place, and I must say that if what was said there comprised all the arguments that could be put forward in favour of this Bill, I do not wonder at it being rushed through. The speech of the Leader of the Senate (Senator Millen) to-day comes into quite a different category. The great majority of his arguments are absolutely unanswerable, but the view I take is that, while such a strong case can be made out for an increase, we cannot lose sight of the fact that the general taxpayer has to provide the money.
– Of whom we are a part.
– Yes, but a very small part. While I fully realize the strength of the arguments adduced by Senator Millen, I sympathize with Senator Fairbairn ‘s objection to our being placed in the invidious position of having to fix our own salaries. If the salaries have to be altered, an opportune time to do it would be, not at the beginning of a new Parliament, but at the expiry of an old one. Members could then go to the people of Australia and say, “ That is the salary which we consider should be fixed for the members of the new Parliament, whether we are returned or not.” I did not have an opportunity at the last election of placing the matter before the people. That election was fought on the cry raised by almost every candidate for economy, and against the profiteer, but I never heard a breath of a suggestion that members wanted their own salaries raised. The position of members of Parliament is no more acute to-day than it was then, or even than it was two years ago. If we were going to increase the allowance, that was the time when we ought to have made the move. I agree with Senator Fairbairn that the really repugnant portion of the business is . that we are placed, in the invidious position of having to fix our own salaries.
– Who else can fix them for us?
– It is a question whether the Convention, which is about to be elected by the people of Australia, could not fix them. In my opinion, the most opportune time for the fixing or raising of members’ salaries is the expiry of an old, or the beginning of a new, Parliament.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales-
Minister for Repatriation) [3.1]. - I think the Senate is to be congratulated upon the fact that those honorable senators who, in the exercise of their judgment, were in opposition to this measure, did not, by their observations, leave any sting at all in the minds of those supporting it. It appears that some remarks I made this morning roused in Senator Fairbairn a measure of warmth which he rarely displays, and I want to assure him that it was quite unintentional on my part. I did not intend my remarks to be in any sense personal. I remind him that I did not object to directors of private companies drawing the fees which I mentioned. I did not even suggest that I thought they were overpaid. As a matter of fact, I said that I envied them, and my only purpose in referring to them was to show the measure of reward for their services as compared with that of members of Parliament. Senator Fairbairn has suggested the possibility of a Convention dealing with this matter. I may say that the Convention will have an opportunity and the right to do this, because the whole of the Constitution will come under review, and the Convention, if it wishes, may insert a clause fixing a definite salary or placing a limitation upon the action of future Parliaments.
– But this Parliament will have to pass . in review and ratify the conclusions of the Convention.
– That is quite-true, but the Convention will have an opportunity of expressing its opinion as to what ought to be done. The decision will then come before this Parliament. and subsequently go to the people for acceptance or rejection. I have no doubt that this matter will be raised at the Convention, but with what results I cannot say.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 (Reckoning of allowance to member).
– I regret that this clause continues the injustice inflicted upon members of the House of Representatives. It provides that their salaries shall cease at the dissolution of a Parliament, and shall not commence again until the writs have been returned: Consequently, there must be an interregnum between a dissolution and an election during which members will not receive any salary at all, just at a time when all spare money . may be required. Had there been time I would very much like this injustice to be rectified.
– I am afraid I cannot accept an amendment upon the lines suggested.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 6 to8 agreed to.
Clause 9 (Unclaimed allowances).
– I take it that this clause is an innovation so far as payment of members of Parliament is concerned. It states that if the money due to a member is not claimed within three months it shall revert to the Treasury. On this point I would have liked to place on any member voting against the Bill an obligation to ask for the extra salary, because I am certain, in spite of the attempt to camouflage the position in another House, most members of that chamber will be compelled to reach out with both hands for theadditional remuneration. I am glad the clause is so worded as to require all honorable members to apply for the additional salary within three months, otherwise it will revert to the Consolidated Revenue. I understand Senator Fairbairn to say that he will not take it, so it will be returned to the Consolidated Revenue. He is in a very fortunate position indeed.’ I am glad the clause has been inserted.
Clause agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Motion (by ‘ Senator Millen) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
.- I move-
That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clause 3.
I desire to have the clause reconsidered, with a view to striking out the words “Minister of State,” so that Ministers will get £200 more than is provided for in this measure.
– The honorable senator . will not be in order in advancing, at this stage, his reasons for desiring to have the clause recommitted.
– I ask the honorable senator not to proceed with the motion. I have nothing to urge against the -argument, which, no doubt, he would advance at the proper time; but the Government thought it desirable simply to advance the salaries of Ministers by the same amount as those of honorable members; and in view of the fact that there is some necessity to send the Bill back to another place within a reasonable time, I ask the honorable senator not to press his motion.
Bill read a third time.
Presentation of Resolutions Passed by Parliament.
– I desire to lay on the table of the Senate a report of the proceedings last night in connexion with the presentation of the resolutions of thanks passed by both Houses of the Parliament to the Navy and Army, the Auxiliary Services and the War and Munition Workers in the Great War. I took the precaution to have an authoritative report made by the Parliamentary Hansard Staff. It is contained in the paper which I now lay on the table, and I suggest to the Honorable the Leader of the Senate (Senator Millen) that it would be an appropriate and graceful act to have the paper and the records of the proceedings included in the records of the Senate and in Hansard.
– The Senate has to thank you, sir, for your suggestion, because in addition to the reasons you have advanced for the incorporation of a report of the proceedings in Hansard, I may say that it will he a permanent record of an important public event. I therefore move -
That the paper laid on the table by the Piresidentbe included in the records of the Senate and printed in Hansard.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
At the invitation of the President of the Senate (Senator the Hon. T. Givens), and the Speaker of the House of Representatives (Hon. W. Elliot Johnson), honorable senators and members of the House of Representatives attended in the Queen’s Hall, on Thursday, 20th May, at 7.30 p.m., to witness the presentation to the representatives of the Navy, Army, and Auxiliary Forces of the resolutions of thanks passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Theseveral Services were represented as follows : -
Lieutenant-Commander R. C. Garsi a.
Lieutenant-General Sir H. G. Chauvel, G.C.M.G., K.C.B., lateG.O.C. Desert Mounted Corps.
Lieutenant-General Sir John Monash, G.C.M.G., K.C.B., V.D., late G.O.C. Australian Army Corps.
Major-General Sir C. B. B. White, K.C.M.G., C.B., D.S.O., A.D.C., representing the G.O.C. Sir W. R. Birdwood, G.C.M.G., K.C.B.-, KC.S.I, CIE., D.S.O., A.D.C.
The Chief of the General StaffMajorGeneral J. G. Legge, C.B., C.M.G.
The Adjutant-General - MajorGeneral V. C. M. Sellheim, C.B., C.M.G., A.D.C. to GovernorGeneral.
Depots in United Kingdom -
Major-General the Hon. Sir James McCay, K.C.M.G., K.B.E., C.B., V.D.
Light Horse and other Units (Gallipoli andPalestine) -
Brigade Commander - BrigadierGeneral C. F. Cox, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., V.D.
Regimental Commander - LieutenantColonel G. J. Bell, C. M.G., D.S.O.
Squadron Commander - LieutenantColonel T. J. Daly, D. S.O.
Non-commissioned Officer - No. 34, Squadron Sergeant-Major H. G. Ayres, D.C.M., M.M., 4th Light Horse.
Infantry and other Units (Gallipoli, Belgium, and France) -
Company Commander, 4th EngineersMajor C. Riddell, D.S.O.
Non-commissioned Officer, 3rd A.S.C., W.O. B. Donagan.
Non-commissioned Officer - Sergeant T. H.Kempson.
Non-commissioned Officer - Sergeant L. Horscroft.
Officer - ‘Colonel F. B. Heritage. N.C.Q.- Warrant Officer F. S.
A.I.F. in Mesopotamia -
A.I.F. in India -
A.I.F. in Salonika -
S/Nurse- Staff Nurse R. Watt.
Matron in Chief - Miss E. Tracy Richardson, R.R.C.
Presbyterian - Chaplain MacCrea Stewart.
Australian Comforts Fund - LieutenantColonel T. S. Woodburn, C.B.E.
Munition. Supplies - A. E. Leighton, Esq., General Manager, Commonwealth Government Arsenal. Principal Administrative Officer in England- for Australian Munition Workers and War Workers.
– The gathering this evening is for the purpose of presenting the thanks of both Houses of the Parliament to the Navy, the Army, and all the Auxiliary Forces and Workers, the members of which fought and worked for our liberty in the Great War. I now invite Admiral Grant, Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Chauvel, and Lieutenant-General Sir John Monash to come forward as representatives of all those branches of the Service.
Sir John Monash having taken their places on the dais,
The PRESIDENT read the following resolution of thanks as passed by the Senate, and presented each of the representatives with a copy thereof: -
That the thanks of the Senate be accorded to the officers, warrant officers, petty officers, and men of the Royal Australian Navy for their heroic services during four years of war in the guardianship of Australia and her commerce from the attacks of a lawless foe, for their unceasing vigilance in the patrol of many seas, for their courage and skill in safely convoying their soldier - comrades to the main theatres of operations, and for their efficient co-operation with the Grand Fleet of the Empire.
That the thanks of the Senate be accorded to the officers, warrant officers, N.C.O.’s, and men of the Australian Imperial Force for their unrivalled courage arid efficiency, their cheerful endurance of unexampled hardships, and their magnificent achievements throughout four years of strenuous effort, with their comrades of the other portions of the British Empire, in upholding the cause of human liberty.
That the thanks of the Senate he .accorded to the officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of the Australian Air Force for their brilliant, daring, and conspicuous services over sea and land.
That the thanks of the Senate be accorded to the members of the Australian Army Medical Corps for the skilful discharge of their humane office, and for the unprecedented success which attended their unremitting labours to preserve the armed Forces of Australia from the ravages of disease.
That the thanks ‘of the Senate be accorded to the women of the medical and other auxiliary services for their devotion in tending the sick and wounded and for other duties faithfully and bravely discharged.
That the thanks of the Senate be accorded to the fathers, mothers, wives, and sisters of Australia’s sailors and soldiers, for their devotion, their service, and their sacrifice. ,
That the Senate records its deep appreciation of the efforts and gifts of the women, men, and children of Australia, for the mitigation of the hardships endured by sailors and soldiers, and for the alleviation of the sufferings of the sick and wounded.
That the thanks of the Senate be also accorded to the men who enlisted for home service, the munition and war workers, the mercantile marine, the Royal Naval Auxiliary Forces, and the Citizen Forces called up for Garrison Artillery work.
That the Senate acknowledges with deep reverence and submission the heroism of those who have fallen iri the service of their country, and tenders its profound sympathy to their relatives in the hour of their sorrow and their pride.
That the foregoing resolutions bo conveyed to the officers, men, and others referred to therein.
– (Hon. W. Elliot Johnson). - I have pleasure in presenting the resolution as passed by the House of Representatives in similar terms to that read by the President of the Senate.
ADMIRAL GRANT. - Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, and honorable gentlemen, - On behalf of the Royal Australian Navy, and of the merchant service, I ask you co convey to the Commonwealth Parliament our great thanks for the high honour which has been, conferred upon the Service, and which will be grea’tly appreciated by all ranks and ratings. The Navy is merely an instrument of government for carrying out the will of the people, and the will of the people in the recent great war was the will to win. Without that magnificent spirit we could not have accomplished anything. The Commonwealth Government may rest assured that if the Royal Australian Navy is again called upon to protect the country, it will maintain the high traditions of the great Services of which it is an important and acknowledged part.
Lieut-General Sir HENRY CHAUVEL. - Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, and honorable gentlemen, - On behalf of those soldiers who served in Gallipoli, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, and Mesopotamia, and on behalf of - the Army Medical Corps and the Army Nursing Service who served in those theatres and in India and Salonika, and of all those Auxiliary Services and organizations which did so much for our soldiers, both at home and abroad, I thank you. I appreciate very much the resolution that has been passed by both Houses of the Parliament. By reason of the gratitude shown by the nation, our soldiers will soon forget the hardships they have endured, but I trust they will never forget our gallant comrades who lost their lives in the cause of freedom and justice. We are most deeply grateful for the confidence you have placed in us, and for the terms in which your appreciation of our services has been expressed.
Lieut-General Sir JOHN MONASH. - Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, and honorable gentlemen, - As representative of the Australian Imperial Force who served in the European theatre of war, I desire, through you, Mr. President, and you, Mr. Speaker, to express to your respective honorable Houses, our sincere thanks for the resolutions of 4th
May and 5 th May, which have just been presented to us. No greater honour can come to any man, or any body of men, than to receive at the hands of the Parliament public recognition for services rendered to the State, .and such recognition compensates for every sacrifice and every endeavour. May I be permitted on this occasion to say a word or two about the troops which it was my privilege to lead in the Western, theatre of war during the period of their greatest achievements. No commander in war in the whole range of history could have been better served. The Divisional Generals, the Brigadiers of Artillery and Infantry, the heads of Auxiliary Services and Departments, and the numerous Staffs rendered notable service with most wholehearted devotion. They brought to their daily tasks a fortitude, a resolution, and an industry which was always exemplary. Australia owes much to these men, in the palms of whose hands lay the ‘national honour and prestige and the well-being of her soldiers. But all of these men will, like myself, he the first to acknowledge that the foundation of all their achievements lay in the superb spirit and performance of the troops themselves. It was the regimental officers, the noncommissioned officers, the men in the ranks - the gunner, the sapper, the airmen, the signaller, and the infantry soldier - who bore the heat and burden of the day. These men underwent untold privations and sacrifices, and’ won for .us the battles that we planned. They have gained for themselves a place in history which none can challenge.
But there were many other workers whose efforts contributed in no small measure to the success of the troops. First and foremost, must come the splendid medical services, and the devoted men and women who staffed them. No blaze of publicity illuminated their work, but they have nevertheless earned for themselves a crown of glory.
I am glad also that the resolution of your honorable Houses -referred to the services and sacrifices of the people of Australia. The men and women of the Australian Imperial Force will never forget how much they owe to the generous help and support of the Australian public, or to those splendid organizations which took upon themselves the heavy task of bringing to the troops in the field and in the depots the succour, comfort, and consolation for which the Australian people had furnished the means. I allude to the Australian Bed Cross, the Australian Comforts Fund, and the Australian Young Men’s Christian Association.
On behalf of all these activities working together in France, Belgium, and England, in the common purpose of achieving final victory over our enemies, I again tender our respectful thanks to Parliament for the tribute which has been paid to them to-night.
The proceedings then terminated.
– I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 3 p.m. on a day to be fixed by Mr. President, which day of meeting shall be notified by Mr. President to each Senator by telegram or letter.
– When is that likely to be?
– Not before the 1st July.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I desire to make a very brief . statement concerning the report of Mr. Justice Ewing on the administration of the Northern Territory. The report, which was laid on the table this morning, discloses an unsatisfactory condition of affairs of which the Government are bound to take notice. Revelations of facts have been made that it would be undesirable to continue in employment any of the persons who left the Territory at the demand of the people, or any of those others whose conduct has been adversely criticised in the report. There are suggestions as to improper administration’ on the part of the Government which involve a more complete examination of the evidence and documents than it has yet been possible to make, but this is in hand, and will be completed shortly.
As this will be the last meeting of the Senate, as it is now constituted, I desire to take the opportunity of expressing a regretful farewell to those of our comrades who have been with us for six years, and who, after 30,th June, will no longer be here. Although in political warfare we are dual personalities, and strive and wrestle with one another seeking to gain victory, there is one redeeming feature of public life - and if it were not for this feature, public life would not be possible - we still entertain towards our political opponents those feelings of good fellowship which, more frequently than not, have been of mutual advantage. On behalf of the Senate I wish those gentlemen who are leaving us God-speed, and trust that those feelings of regret and mortification which overtake a defeated candidate - which I have experienced myself - will soon pass away, and that they will look forward to the time when they may rise like a Phoenix from the ashes.
.- As one of those who will not by here after 30th June, on behalf of myself and other honorable senators who are not. present, I desire to express my high appreciation of the courteous manner in which the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) has wished us Godspeed. So far as my own case is’ concerned, it seems the irony of fate that I am the only Liberal candidate in Australia elected six years ago, who will not be here after 30th June. It is rather an unique position; but during the period I have been privileged to be a member ot this Chamber, I feel that I have always endeavoured to carry out my work to the best of my ability. I thank the Ministers and the Presiding Officer in this Chamber for the kind and courteous consideration that has always been shown me.
– As I am one of those who will not be called upon, at least for some time, to again address honorable’ senators, I wish to express my appreciation of the very considerate remarks made by the
Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen). I have noted them very carefully, and as he has wished us success, I shall endeavour to see that his washes are gratified. Since I have been a member’ of the Senate - it only seems yesterday that I was elected - honorable senators will agree that I have never missed ah opportunity of urging upon them the necessity of imposing a straight-out land tax. I did not learn, however, until to-day. why the Minister for Repatriation abandoned the advocacy of that glorious principle. I wish to. express to you, Mr. President, my thanks for the uniform courtesy yon have always extended to me during the six years that I have had the pleasure of taking part. in the deliberations of the Senate.
It may seem an easy matter to persons outside, and to some honorable senators of this Chamber, to be able to master the various Bills placed before us for consideration. Although I have had the advantage of a fair education, I must confess that a number of measures that have been before us, such as the Bankruptcy Bill - which has disappeared into spacethe Nauru Island Agreement Bill, and other measures of that character presentto the lay mind considerable difficulties. In many cases such measures have been entirely left to. the mercies of the legal members of the Senate.
I again thank you, Mr. President, the Ministers, and honorable senators for the kindness that has been extended to mo during my parliamentary career.’
.- I desire to again bring under the notice of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) a question I introduced when thi) Australian Soldiers Repatriation Bill was under discussion. On that occasion I drew attention to the unsatisfactory position in which some theological students were placed, and I understood that the Minister for Repatriation informed me that in all cases where theological students had commenced their course prior to enlistment, that they would be assisted by the Department. I cited the case of a man who is. over the age of twenty years, and who had tried to enlist, but was rejected because he was under the standard height. He was eventually accepted, and on his return was unable to receive any assistance-
– What was the man doing before he enlisted?
– Pursuing his course as a theological student.
– In Brisbane. His name is H. L. Pratt.
– But what was he doing before he went away?
– He was studying for the ministry at a Church of England College, and is now unable to secure any help from the Department to enable him to continue his course. The Minister for Repatriation previously assured me that when a theological student had commenced his course, he would be assisted on his return.
There is also the case of a Mr. E. D Eglinton, ex. -No. 18863, late of the Australian Medical Corps, Australian Imperial Force. He is a returned soldier, who has been receiving from the Repatriation Department an allowance as a college student of £3 4s. per week for the maintenance of his wife and two children and himself, but this has now been stopped by orders from Melbourne because he was thirty-one years and four months old when the application for this assistance was made, in June, 1919. The regulations lay down that assistance for collegiate instruction is not to be given to a soldier who is over thirty years of age at the time of the application. It is the application of the principle which is of concern in this matter. It seems wholly and entirely wrong that a definite year should be fixed regardless of the man’s suitability or qualifications. Why is thirty more suitable for college, training than twenty-nine or thirty-one? It does seem to me that each case should be judged on its merits, and that should be decided without much trouble. It has further been- laid down that under the regulation he should have received only £2 2s. per week. That is an ordinary sustenance allowance. This is a question that should be carefully considered by the Department.
– Is this another theological student?
SenatorFOLL– Yes. In view of the fact that the Minister for Repatriation gave’ me’ to understand that, where men had commenced their course prior to en listment, they would be entitled to continue on their return, I ask that further inquiry be made, as I believe the Minister’s instructions are not being carried out.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) if, since the discussion on the Appropriation Billlast evening, he has had an opportunity of making any inquiry into the matter of vacancies, promotions, and appointments in connexion with the Central and State Taxation Departments in Victoria?
SenatorMILLEN (New South WalesMinister for Repatriation) [3.28]. - In regard to the point raised by Senator Foll, it is impossible for a Minister to keep his mind in close contact with the details of individual cases. I can only repeat what I had previously stated, that where any member of the Australian Imperial Force had commenced a university course before he left for abroad, the Department will help him through. There is, however, great confusion as to what is considered a commencing course, as quite a number of students have stated that they had not actually commenced a course, although they had been taking private lessons, and intended to do so. It is a very difficult matter for the Department to deal with such nebulous cases.
SenatorFoll. - The man to whom I referred was resident at a college.
– I shall again look into both cases, but I think it must be admitted that the Department has been extremely generous in its interpretation of the regulations. It is very necessary to be firm in these matters, otherwise men who were not entitled to receive benefits would be participating. I shall look into the matter during the forthcoming adjournment, and ascertain the position.
As regards the point raised by Senator Keating, he knows very well that the Senate . sat somewhat late last night, and commenced again at 11 o’clock this morning. I have not had an opportunity of obtaining the information he desires, but I shall endeavour to secure it, and forward it to him by letter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 May 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1920/19200521_senate_8_92/>.