8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
Customs Act. - Proclamations -
Dated 16th November, 1921, revoking previous proclamation relating to the exportation of goods to (‘late) German New Guinea.
Dated 16th November, 1021, revoking previous proclamation Telating to the exportation of rabbit skins.
Dated 16th November, 1921, revoking previous proclamation relating to the exportation of sausage casings.
Regulations amended.- Statutory Rules 1921, No. 218.
Norfolk Island.- Ordinance No. 5 of 1021.-
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Northern Territory. - Ordinance No. 15 of 1921. - Foreign Marriage.
Public Service. - ‘Solicitor’G.cneral’s opinion re rights of South Australian transferred officers, together with memorandum by Public Service Commissioner as to retirement of such officers.
Public Service Act. - Promotions. - Department of the Treasury - J. L. White, H. C. Hunt, M. H. Marshall, C. J. Sypott, C. C. Green, A. L. Connolly, F. V. Boyle, T.R. Cox, J. A. T. Anderson, W. J. Hannan.
Position ofReturned Soldiers Employed by the Defence Department.
– I ask the Minister forRepatriation whether returned soldiers temporarily employed by the Defence Department since their return are prevented from obtaining any benefits under theRepatriation Act because of the regulation providing that application for such benefits must be made within six months after a returned soldier^ discharge from the Australian Imperial Force.
– In the application of tbe regulation referred to no distinction is made between a returned loan who is employed by the Government and one in private employment.
Statement by Mr. Dooley.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether his attention hasbeen called to a paragraph which appeared in yesterday morning’s Argus, wherein the Premier of New South Wales is reported to have said that the closing down of the steel works at Newcastle, and the consequent throwing out of employment of between 300 and 400 men, was due to the studied indifference of the Federal Nationalist Government? I should like to know also whether it is a fact that, owing to the callousness of the Commonwealth Government, the steel industry of Australia is being crippled by the unrestricted importation of German steel disguised as the manufacture of another country, for which Mr. Dooley is reported to have said that the Commonwealth Government are responsible? Further, I should like to ask whether “ the soulless retrenchment “ of the Commonwealth Government is responsible for unemployment in New South Wales ?
– I think that the motive and intention of the statements by Mr. Dooley must be obvious to the merest novice in political matters.
– Even I tumbled to that.
– I should have expected Senator Wilson to be one of the first to do so. I should like to remind the Senate of the fact, with which I have no doubt they are quite familiar, that the Government have made an effort to pass the Anti-Dumping Bill, and are continuing with that effort. Therefore, whatever responsibility attaches to any one in connexion with the matter, it cannot fairly or honestly be attributed to the Government for attempting to do the thing which Mr. Dooley condemns them for not doing. May I add that, if Mr. Dooley felt as sympathetically with regard to those who are unemployed as his words would suggest, he might, at least, have relieved some of the unemployment in New South Wales by reinstating in the State Government works at Walsh Island the men who were dismissed from those works a little time ago?
Destruction of Citrus Plants
– I wish to ask Leader of the Government in the Senate a question, and in order to more fully explain it, I ask permission to read a telegrain which I received to-day from Alice Springs -
Sergeant Stott received instructions to destroy all citrus trees under Plants Diseases Ordinance. Authorities are not considering distance Darwin here. Most of residents strongly protest against instructions issued. Your Committee seen trees and had fruit. All trees wonderfully healthy owing climatic conditions. These trees give our kiddies only fresh fruit available. If this drastic action necessary, why not give us same privilege as given Darwin residents?
– Order! The honorable senator is not in order in entering into an argument in asking a question.
– I asked permission to read the telegram, and understood that it was granted.
– The honorable semator is not in order. He is at liberty to read sufficient of the telegram to indicate the nature of his question. He was proceeding to enter into an argument which he should know is not permitted in the asking of a question.
– The honorable senator was reading the telegram.
– The sender of the telegram entered into an argument. If we were to permit people outside a greater privilege than is allowed to members of the Senate, it would be entirely derogatory to the position of honorable senators.
– The telegram concludes with the words -
Matter urgent. Kindly see what you can do to stop this sacrilege on our behalf.
– Order ! That is another statement that should not be permitted.
– Will the Minister see that a careful examination is made of the citrus trees at Alice Springs and between Darwin and Alice Springs, and that Mr. Hill, the entomologist - who, I believe, is now in Darwin making investigations - is sent to Alice Springs in order that the citrus trees there may be saved? That is practically the only fruit available to the people there.
– If the honorable senator will supply me with a copy of the telegram, I will have inquiries made immediately.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs in a position to supply answers to my question of 10th November as to the number of factories engaged, in the manufacture of varnish in Australia and the number of hands employed in the industry in each State?
– I am advised that there are eighteen varnish factories in Australia, and that the number of hands employed is 259, made up as follows: - New SouthWales, 166; Victoria, 89 ; South Australia, 4.
– Can the* Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs make any announcement with regard to the representations that were made as to the administration of the Navigation Act so far as, it concerns the calling of certain vessels at Hobart during the fruit season?
– Not at present; but I will have inquiries made of the Minister for Trade and Customs to-day and let the honorable senator know.
– Is the Leader of the Senate yet in a position to reply to a question of mine asked some weeks ago with regard to taxation matters?
– The Commissioner for Taxation has, through the Secretary to the Treasury, furnished the following information: -
I have to state that the course suggested by Senator Gardiner in part 6 of his question on 1st September, 1921 (Hansard, page 11473), could not be followed by the Department -
without serious loss to the administration in the shape of the removal of >a most valuable aid to the uniformity of procedure throughout -the Commonwealth;
without necessitating . the establishment in each branch office in the six States of extensive and expensive machinery to meet the altered con ditions under which inter-office advice and record would be essential in connexion with persons owning land in or deriving income from more than one State of the Commonwealth;
without adding considerably to the costs of administration on account of the organization mentioned in (2)being in the aggregate more extensive than the present Central Office organization.
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
Will the Government introduce a Bill to amend the Patents Act 1903-1909 - extending protection for any invention to the legal representative or assignee of the patentee - to bring it into conformity with a similar provision made in Great Britain, Canada, South Africa, and New Zealand?
Appointment of Judge
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Cancellation of Australian Contracts
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Has the Government received any communication from the Dutch Government in Java regarding the supply of inferior material put into work contracted for by certain firms in Australia, and which contracts the Dutch authorities were forced to cancel?
– Representations were made during the absence of the Prime Minister in England by the British Acting Consul-General at Batavia to the effect that a contract which had been let in Australia for a supply of castiron water pipes to a private firm in Java had to be cancelled owing to the serious delay which occurred in the delivery of the goods. As the contract was one which had been entered into with the Government Dockyard, Newcastle, the attention of the Premier of New South Wales was drawn to the matter. A reply was re ceived to the effect that the reasons for the non-completion of the contract were not within the control of the Dockyard or the Government. There had been a series of strikes and stoppages, and the same general industrial dislocation, as existing elsewhere, affected the State of New South Wales. There have been complaints regarding the supply of inferior material under the above contract.
Debate resumed from 25th November (vide page 13281), on motion by Senator Russell -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- When the debate was adjourned last week I was venturing to criticise the Government for the expenditure of loan money from the Consolidated Revenue in comparison! with the amount which had been spent for a similar purpose in the previous year. I directed attention to the fact that under the statement of the Treasurer on the 30th June, 1921, there was a sum of £8,114,000 available for works from money which had already been voted by Parliament, asd that of that sum £7,000,000 was to be paid into the Consolidated Revenue. I want now briefly to refer to one or two matters in the Bill. According to the Treasurer’s statement, on the 30th June there was £1,114,000 in excess of £7,000,000, about which I asked for information, available for works which had already been voted by Parliament, but under this Bill the W given as already available under appropriations previously made is £669,000, a difference of £400,000. It occurs to me that either one of two things is possible. Either the £400,000 representing the difference between the amount available under former appropriations has been spent since the beginning of this year, or that the money was voted for works which the Government do not intend to proceed with this year. Whichever it is, it seems to me that under this Bill, which provides not only for a further appropriation of over £8,250,000, but also for the £669,000 previously mentioned, we should ascertain exactly what our loan expenditure is likely to be this year and what has been done with that £400,000. I admit that my question may have been dictated partly by ignorance, but I defy any one to reconcile the Treasurer’s statement on 30th June with the amount mentioned in this Bill. There are two or three other points on which information could be given, one of which is in connexion with the appropriations which have been made for land for the Post and Telegraph Department and for defence purposes. The Treasurer’s statement to the 30th June shows that £67,737 has previously been made available for the purchase of land for the Post and Telegraph Department; but in the second column of the schedule a sum of £25,000 appears. In connexion with the Defence Department it is shown in the Treasurer’s statement that the money ‘available for land was £11,285 15s. 4d., and under this Bill it appears as £11,286. The difference is only small, but it makes it difficult for one to compare the figures. In the same statement an amount of £402 is shown as being available for quarantine purposes, and under this Bill £100 is being appropriated. The latter amount may be for some specific item, and the intention may be to spend only £100 out of the £400 previously mentioned. In view of these circumstances it is difficult to make a comparison, and I trust that, when the Bill is in Committee, the Minister (Senator Russell) will be able to give information on these points.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
.- Under the Prime Minister’s Department £25,727 is to be appropriated for London offices, and I should like the Minister (Senator Russell) to explain in what way that money is to be spent.
– It represents a final payment in connexion with the contract for the completion of Australia House, which work is expected to be finished within the course of a few weeks.
.- Under the Prime Minister’s Department £162,000 is to be appropriated for the payment of passage money of assisted immigrants; and, in discussing the question during the second reading of the Bill, the point was raised as to whether the’ amount is to be paid into a Trust Fund. I would like some information as to how that amount is to be operated upon and what percentage is to be treated as loan money.
SenatorDE LARGIE (Western Australia) [3.28]. - Under the Prime Minister’s Department £25,000 is to be appropriated for a subscription to capital of the Refining Company in accordance with the Oil Agreement Act of 1920. A number of statements have been made in connexion with the agreement between the Commonwealth and the British Government. I understand that the British Government have now expressed their willingness to withdraw from the agreement, and thus allow the Commonwealth to continue the operations on their own account. As the actual position seems somewhat obscure, I ask the Minister (Senator Russell) if he will explain it.
– The amount represents a subscription to capital of the Refining Company in accordance with the Oil Agreement Act of 1920. An arrangement had been entered into vnffy the British Government to develop the oil fields in Papua, but the British Government are now anxious to withdraw from the arrangement, because the prospects do not appear to be satisfactory. A rich discovery of oil has recently been made in Dutch territory, and as there is only an imaginary line between that territory and the land on which the Commonwealth representatives are operating, there is every prospect of oil being discovered. The Dutch are actually producing oil in commercial quantities. If oil is discovered, it will belong to Australia, and not to the partnership which previously existed.
– It is quite necessary that the Commonwealth, Government should do everything possible to encourage desirable immigrants. There is a considerable staff established in the Old Country for the purpose of advising people desirous of proceeding to Australia, and I understand that the Government have officers in some of the States for the; purpose of seeing that immigrants are looked after until employment is found for them. In certain States, however, the State Governments have declined to permit Commonwealth officers to have anything to do with the immigrants. That is a very unsatisfactory position. The Commonwealth should not throw its responsibilities upon the States.
– We do not attempt to do that. When the immigrants arrive in Australia, the responsibility is cm the States who own the land.
– That is the very point in dispute. In certain States, the Commonwealth have appointed immigration officers.
– Quite unnecessarily.
– In) my opinion it is absolutely necessary for something of that nature to be done by the Commonwealth, but in some of the States there are no Commonwealth officers. I contend that the responsibility of the Commonwealth, should not cease on the immigrants’ arrival.
– Are they not nominated through the State Governments?
– I do not know; that is immaterial to my argument. The Commonwealth is responsible for inducing people to come here, but there is no authority to require the States to treat the immigrants in a proper way.
– What authority do you want? Surely they are Australians in the States!
-brockman. - The people are brought here at the request of the States.
– That does not improve the position. The Commonwealth should be responsible for them, for at any rate one year. It is true that the Commonwealth Government have no land, unless the immigrants are placed on Federal territory, and there is apparently no effort being made to do that. The States may not do the right thing towards the immigrants, and so the Commonwealth is nc* relieved of its responsibility. We hear of families and of individuals, who have not been very hospitably received as immigrants, and they have returned to the Old Country at the first opportunity. The States are not recognised in Great Britain, the Commonwealth authorities being entirely responsible. Immigrants who return dissatisfied give a very unfavorable report concerning Australia, and such people will do much to damage the reputation of the Commonwealth. I do not suggest that the States will not do the best they can, but it is the duty of the Commonwealth to see that the States do the fair thing towards immigrants in the matter of accommodating them en arrival, and assisting them to find employment. This work devolves as much, if not more, upon the Commonwealth than upon the States.
– No doubt Senator Newland’s absence for some time in the Northern Territory and in Central Australia accounts for his remarks. There are certain difficulties to be contended with in connexion with immigration. In the first place the Commonwealth has practically no land, and will have none unless millions are expended in opening up out-back country by railway communication and by other means. We are entirely dependent upon the States. Before launching out on the scheme we held conferences with representatives of the States. The conditions laid down were that the Commonwealth Government was to bring the immigrants out and pay the overseas expenses and the cost of their passages. They were to be received at the different Australian ports by the State authorities, who undertook to settle them on the land. There was a second condition that the Commonwealth should obtain immigrants according to requests made by the States. Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia have made requests, but New South Wales and Queensland have not done so, and they say, quite candidly, that they have enough unemployed in their States already, and that they da not think the present time is opportune for bringing immigrants out. This means that immigration is confined to three States. If a State decides that it does not want immigrants because of unfavorable industrial conditions, or for other reasons, it would be foolish to attempt to force them to take on the responsibility. They are as much interested, and are as much Australian, as the rest of us, and they have as much right to express their opinions. The Commonwealth cannot settle immigrants on the land. We have no lands to open up suitable for agriculture, and I am not in favour of dumping people down in this country in an irresponsible way.
– That is precisely what I want to avoid.
– If the States will not come into line the Commonwealth Government will have to adopt some other policy to get more population. It is regarded as essential that we should get more population, and arrangements may be made whereby the Commonwealth will control the whole of the immigration without the co-operation of the States. ‘
– The Government will still be faced by the same difficulties; it will still have to depend on the States wanting the immigrants.
– That is so, but we have some powers in that connexion. We have the power to tax land within the States, and that taxing power may be used to compel the States, even against their will, to make land available for immigrants. I am not saying that in a threatening way. It is a difficult problem, and all the States are not co-operating. It has to be remembered that there is not now a War Precautions Act, and therefore legislation has to be framed in accordance with the Constitution. The Commonwealth has not the power to take land from the States, The only power it has is the power of taxation. The Government is as much worried by this proposition as are honorable senators. We think that we have not had a fair deal from some of the States, but we are determined to get more people to Australia in order to lighten the burden of taxation and assist production.
-brockman. - The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has said that the Government will spend £20,000 a year. What is the good of that?
– That figure is small, because the States have limited it. The States agreed to a policy of immigration, and decided the extent and form of it.
– The two States that have dropped out are the only States in which there are Labour Governments.
– And they are the States where there is the most land available. The matter needs careful thought and investigation with a view to bringing special knowledge to bear to overcome the difficulties. With regard to the immigration staffs in the different Australian ports, the Commonwealth have none except at Fremantle, where we had to appoint officers. A vessel may come out with a mixed load, destined partly for Western Australia and partly for the other States. The agents of the Western Australian Government take charge only of those immigrants who are intended for Western Australia. The Commonwealth Government, therefore, had to place some one at Fremantle to take charge of the immigrants for the other States. The Western Australian Government could not be expected to look after men and women who were going to South Australia or Victoria.
– What “looking after” would they want?
– There may be a hundred immigrants on a boat, and a third of them may be destined for Western Australia, one-third for South Australia, and one-third for Victoria. Some one has to meet them.
– The State officers could do that.
– How can an officer stationed at Fremantle deal with fifty or 100 people who may be landing in Victoria?
– How does the Commonwealth officer deal with them at Fremantle?
– He generally comes on in the vessel with them, and explains to them the arrangements that have been made for their landing and reception.
– The South Australian officers are doing that in South Australia, and State officers could do it in the other States.
– We cannot ask the Western Australian Government to look after people who are intended for Queensland. If the States will do the work the Commonwealth is quite prepared to get out and let them do it; but they are not doing it. Some one has to bring the immigrants to South Australia, or to Victoria, where they are officially handed over to the control of the State Governments. It has been said that certain immigrants have returned to the Old Country, and Senator Newland’s remarks in that connexion were, I think, unfair to Australia. All these allegations have been investigated, and it has been found that the allegedly dissatisfied immigrants were people who had come out here and prospered, and were returning for a visit to the Old Country. During the war period, when very high fares were charged, they could not make the trip. Investigations have shown that large numbers of these cases were immigrants who caine out to this country ten or twelve years ago, and, so far from being “ grizzlers “ or “ growlers,” they had prospered so well that they were able to take a trip to England to see their friends and relatives. It was stated that on one boat there were “ hundreds “ of immigrants returning home.’ There were, but they were not disappointed immigrants, but men and women who had done well.
– They were trippers.
– Yes; and most of them will return to Australia. Facts like those are a great tribute to this country. “Workers in other countries, as a rule, cannot save enough money to enable them to travel abroad, but most of those who come to this country are able to visit their Home Land after ten years.
– They have no chance of doing that now, with the high fares that are being charged.
– I do not know of any country where they have the same opportunity of doing it as in Australia. Senator Foster is anxious to know how we are going to spend the proposed vote of £162,000. It is anticipated that during the current year 14,000 passages at the rate of £12 per adult, with a reduced rate for children, will be paid for. This is expected to account for £126,000.
– The Government gives each immigrant £12.
– Yes; and we may lend up to £16 to suitable immigrants on terms which cover the repayment of the money in two years. Then it is anticipated that there will be 7,000 advances of an average of £10, making a total of £70,000. It is estimated that repayments in the first year will amount to £34,000. The balance of £36,000, with the amount of £126,000 for passages, makes up the amount of the vote - £162,000.
– Do the Government propose to borrow the money for the purpose of giving it away to immigrants?
– Yes. The immigrants will be taxpayers and producers. Senator Guthrie pointed out what is being done at Mildura, Merbein, and Red Cliffs in the formation of new settlements. The land at Merbein cost £10 per acre, and to-day it is worth £200 per acre. Most of the settlers are returned soldiers. The Commonwealth might very well undertake to back settlers in those places with £20 or £30. To-day Red Cliffs is being irrigated from the Murray, and a most important centre is being established there.
– All that does not affect the question of whether it is right to put loan money into this business.
– It is a public duty to encourage immigration, and we cannot at present pay for everything out of revenue. Every country in the world has borrowed money to obtain immigrants. New South Wales and Canada have both borrowed money for that purpose. The Government propose to carry out a deliberately considered policy, with which the State Governments promised full co-operation. I do not say that the scheme will be a wonderful success, but we are endeavouring to secure some direct control which will enable us to give effect to a policy which I am satisfied is indorsed by the great majority of the people. I do not advocate bringing to Australia the unemployed of London or other places, but I do say that every worthy citizen who desires to come to Australia should be encouraged to do so.
.- I am sorry that the Minister (Senator Russell) did not give the Committee more information on the subject of the proposed vote in connexion with the oil agreement. We passed an Act last year, under which we provided that the Refinery Company should forthwith, after registration, “ erect, equip, and operate in Australia a modern refinery.” It is on this matter that I desire information, to which I think the Committee is entitled.
– Did they agree to put up a refinery before they found the oil?
– Yes. The Act makes provision that if the Commonwealth Government can supply indigenous oil to the Refinery Company, they must do so, but until they do so the Persian Oil Company must supply the refinery with a certain quantity of oil annually. I should like to know what steps have been taken towards the erection of the refinery, which is the first step in the ‘business. It is in theRefinery Company that the Commonwealth Government is the largest shareholder. They hold the balance of voting power, in order that they may control the operations of the company. If the proposed vote is for the erection of the refinery, I am satisfied.
– This is the first money the Commonwealth Government have put into the company.
– Last year we voted £75,000, but I do not know whether any of that has been expended.
– That was towards the capital of the company. The vote proposed in the schedule is for working expenses.
– This year we are asked to vote £25,000, and if that vote is agreed to the Commonwealth will be interested in the concern to the extent of £100,000.
I should like to say a word or two on the immigration: question. I listened attentively to what was said by the Minister (Senator Russell), and also to the remarks of Senator Newland. I agree with a great deal that has been said. Care must be exercised with regard to the class of immigrants who are induced to come to Australia. I was very sorry to hear to-day that the Commonwealth Government are not being given the whole-hearted cooperation of the State Governments which they expected would be given in carrying out their joint immigration policy. I find it difficult to understand why the Governments of two States, which offer as good ‘facilities as any other State in the Commonwealth for the settlement of immigrants, have gone cold on the pro- posal. I hope that an effort will be made b y the Commonwealth Government to bring about another conference with representatives of the State Governments at the earliest possible vmoment to deal with this important question. It is vital to the Commonwealth that its immigration policy should be a real, and not merely a paper, policy. The carrying out of a progressive policy of immigration should be very helpful in enabling Australia to meet its obligations. Some reference has been made to the payment of expenditure upon immigration out of loan money. I am not satisfied that the policy which the Government are adopt ing in this regard is a good one. I think that we should devote . loan money to reproductive works as they are generally understood.
– Brockman. - What could be more reproductive than an immigrant? Each one we bring into the country has a capital value of about £2,000.
– It has been said that other countries have borrowed money to give effect to their immigration policies, but I think it cannot be shown that they have paid the passage money of immigrants out of loan. I think the Minister will find, if he investigates the matter, that loan moneys appropriated for the furtherance of immigration policies in other countries have been expended in preparing land for immigrants. That is a sound business undertaking.
– The honorable senator must bear in mind the abnormally high fares that are charged today.
– I have no desire to throw cold water on the immigration policy of the Government, but one may criticise the methods adopted to give it effect. I think that if loan moneys were more extensively used in carrying out public works we should be able to find sufficient money from revenue to pay for assisted passages of immigrants. We have hitherto been hampering the progress of the Commonwealth by imposing unnecessarily heavy burdens on the taxpayers to find revenue for the construction of public works, which ought to be constructed from loan. I believe that close investigation of our finances would disclose the fact that we could meet the cost of assisted passages of immigrants from revenue. When I was a member of the Tasmanian Parliament some time ago, the State Government launched out upon amoderate immigration policy, but not a single penny was borrowed by Tasmania to pay assisted passages of immigrants.
– What was the cost of a passage at that time?
– That does not affect the principle. I admit that a passage may cost twice as much to-day as it did some years ago, but our revenue is twice as large as it was a few years ago, and our taxpayers are paying very much more than twice as much taxation as they paid a few years ago.
– There has been a war in the meantime.
– Even the members of .this Parliament are paid more than twice as much to-day as they were paid a few years ago.
– If we pay immigration out of increased taxation we shall make the burdens upon the people more heavy than they are to-day.
– I am not suggesting that we should have increased taxation to pay for immigration. I believe that we could easily find the money required out of revenue if we carried out more of our reproductive public works with loan money than we do to-day. In this connexion I might say that I would regard the construction of Commonwealth offices as a reproductive work. They would be worth so much each year to the Government since, without them, rent would have to be paid for the accommodation they would provide. I hope that during the recess the Government, will look into the question of financing their immigration policy, outside of land development, from revenue as far as possible.
– I do not know that I would have taken part in this debate if it had not been for the speech delivered by the Minister (Senator Russell). It is quite possible that the honorable senator would deny the interpretation I put upon his remarks. It seemed to me that he metaphorically patted “Victoria and the other stagnant States on the back because they are prepared to take immigrants, whilst progressive States, such as Queensland ‘and New South Wales, are not prepared to take immigrants. If there is one thing that is injuring Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania more than another, it is that attitude of mind. They think that because they are not increasing their public debt they are doing splendidly, whereas if they look facts in the face they must realize that dry rot has set in, because they are not attracting additional population. Compare the position of a business man who went on increasing his overdraft, filling his warehouses with goods, and with customers crushing into his retail establishments to purchase his commodities, with that of another complacent business man. satisfied not to add to his overdraft, and happy in the thought that it was not costing him any more to run his business now than twenty years ago. The former, of course, would be progressive and prosperous, whilst the latter would be on the high rood of decadence. And that is the position of these States which are not adding to their population.
– But you would regard that progressive business man as a capitalist, and condemn him.
– The honorable senator will never hear me condemning the things that count. The States that are controlled by these capitalistic interests are non-progressive. They are falling behind in the race for progress as compared with New South Wales and Queeusland.
– Not at all.
– Well, I will show the honorable senator what the real position is, not by any statement of my own, but by quoting official figures furnished by the Commonwealth Statistician.
– Your State has added another million or two to the burdens of the people by way of interest charges.
– If we add even ten millions to the burdens of the people in that way, we’ are getting the increase in population to enable us to bear it. That cannot be said of the other States. These figures are contained in Census Bulletin No. 1, dealing with the populations of the various States at the different census periods, 4th April, 1881, to the 4th April, 1921-
What is the lesson taught by these figures if it is not that Queensland and New South Wales are the most progressive States 1 Compare the position of Victoria and New South Wales in the various periods. In 1881 Victoria had a papulation of 861,000, as compared with New South Wales 749,000- well over 100,000 ahead of the Mother State; but at the end of the race, that is, on 4th April this year, New South Wales had 2,099,000 people, as against Victoria’s population of 1,500,000. Not only had New South Wales made up the heavy leeway, but had really outdistanced Victoria with all its wealth, because it is well known that the speculative ‘wealth in Australia has been largely centred in Victoria.
– Victoria has a greater population per acre than any other State.
– Although one is inclined to laugh at such an argument, still it requires answering. Therefore, I shall compare South Australia and Queensland, two representative States, because prior to the Commonwealth taking over the Northern Territory the area of South Australia was greater than that of Queensland. During the period 1881 tb 1921 Queensland not only picked up her deficit in population of 66,000, but is now leading South Australia by practically 300,000. These facts speak for themselves. South Australia, too, we are told, has all the culture, and Victoria all the wealth and business ability. Those responsible for the government of these States should look for the reasons for this state of affairs. Apparently they think that because they are not heavily in debt they are running along progressive lines. I am trying to show that they are poor, and do not know it.
– Victoria went in for a policy of retrenchment, and lost population at a time when New South Wales continued her public works policy, and gained population.
– I am glad of the Minister’s explanation. It bears out what I have said. Tasmania, which, I believe, is a most beautiful spot, and altogether a very desirable place in which to live, is not at all in a satisfactory position. I find that the natural increase of population for the last census period was 36,000, but departures exceeded arrivals by 13,000. There is only one reason for this deplorable state of affairs, and that is bad government. Make no mistake about that. Men who come to this country from any other part of the world will settle in the most desirable part of the Commonwealth - the place that offers them the most advantages. The other States, as I have shown, are not progressing from a population point of view at the same rate as New South Wales and Queensland. Of course, representatives from those States will say that we want immigration, but it is significant that the States which are not asking for immigrants are attracting people there all the time.. I venture to say that a considerable portion of the 13,000 people representing the excess of departures over arrivals in Tasmania are to be found in New South Wales.
– When previously dealing with the question of immigration I must have expressed my thoughts somewhat indifferently, because the Minister (‘Senator Russell) quite misunderstood my meaning. I would be the last to damage Australia in the eyes of other people, or to say anything to injure any particular State. The progress of one portion of Australia really means the success of the whole Commonwealth, and while we are anxious to see every uninhabited portion of Australia settled by desirable immigrants, I am not going to advance the claims of one State as against those of another., The Minister was evidently under the impression that I was confusing “ trippers “ with immigrants. I know that quite a large number of people journeyed to Great Britain after the cessation of hostilities as soon as passages could be secured, and by no stretch of imagination could they be regarded as returning immigrants. It is true that many of them had been in Australia and had achieved success, as is common to all who devote their ability and energies to their work. Many desired to visit their Old homes, and, perhaps, some intended to return later, in which case, of course, they would have to find their own passage money. These were not the type of men to whom I referred. I was dealing with those who came to Australia, and who remained only a few weeks. I have been informed that in some instances whole families have returned within a short period of their arrival.
– When such statements have been investigated we have found there was little truth in them.
– If they were true, a very unsatisfactory state of affairs exists. These were the people who would give Australia a bad name.
– In many instances Australia would be better off without them.
– I would not say that. The Minister has never been an immigrant, and consequently does not realize the disadvantages of a person who lands in a strange country without a shilling in his pocket, and without friends to greet him.
– That could hardly be the position of these people, because they could not have left Australia unless they possessed money.
– Every State provides accommodation for immigrants for at least a week. At Richmond there is a building in which fifty or sixty can be accommodated, and where they are maintained for a time.
– I am glad that such is the case. It is only by directing attention to such points that the truth is ascertained. Before I left Australia some time ago a very complete immigration scheme was under consideration for the establishment of Local Committees throughout country districts, who were to hold themselves responsible for notifying the Government concerning the number of immigrants who could be placed.
– Such bodies exist in all the States.
– I have 1101 heard of any such body in South Australia, and I have therefore obtained further information.
– The Lord Mayor of Melbourne and Senator Guthrie are members of a Victorian Committee.
– That may be so, but half-a-dozen farmers in a progressive country district would be of more use in placing immigrants on the land. I am’ particularly anxious that the Commonwealth should keep in touch with the Local Committees so that immigrants may know where there are possibilties of finding employment. I do not believe in coddling and spoon-feeding men who come to Australia, because those who are seeking fortunes in a new land should be prepared to “ battle “ their way and face adversity as others have done. It is very difficult, however, for those who land here, where there is more or less unemployment in the cities, to gain any knowledge of the vastness of the continent and the direction in which to seek employment without some assistance. I cannot be accused of coddling immigrants merely because I suggested that they should be directed to centres where they can find work, and where they can also find people who will treat them as desirable citizens.
– The point originally raised by Senator Newland had reference to the overlapping of the Commonwealth and State activities. The Federal Government endeavoured to place Commonwealth immigration officers in every State, including South Australia, but the Government in that State resisted, with the result that no Commonwealth immigration officer is stationed there. The work, however, is being very thoroughly performed by a South Australian official, who meets the immigrants on their arrival and sees that they are properly cared for. To place a Commonwealth officer where a State officer is already doing the work is a duplication of service and quite unnecessary, and it is such duplication which we should endeavour to avoid.
.- In connexion with the question of immigration I desire to refer to the boys from the Barnardo Home in Great Britain, from which institution a number of lads recently arrived. These boys, many of whom were war orphans, were brought to Australia in charge of an official attached to that institution, and while the vessel was in port I had the pleasure of inspecting the boys. The lads were very much above the average, and, in my opinion, are the type of immigrants who should be encouraged. I have had a good deal to do with young people, and, after carefully studying these boys, came to the conclusion that they were, not only a credit to the Barnardo Institution, but would, in all probability, prove a credit to Australia. These youths comprised the first batch despatched by the institution, and I do not know why a large number should not settle in Australia, as many have done in Canada. The reports from that Dominion show that the boys have made good, and that during the war a. large number volunteered for active service.
– But only a small number could be sent to Australia.
– I believe that many hundreds could be sent here.
– Twenty-six thousand were sent to ‘Canada over a number of years.
– Yes; and the institution could send as many to Australia. During the war period the incomes of a majority of the people in Great Britain were heavily reduced owing to increased taxation, and consequently the contributions to the institutions are much less than they were previously. Those in charge of the Barnardo Homes are anxious that the boys should leave the institution at an earlier age, because of the lack of funds at their disposal. Mr. Roberts, an officer attached to the institution, was in charge of the youths, and when he approached them there were expressions of animation and apparent delight, instead of fear. They regarded him as a father, and not as an official. I believe the authorities in control of the institution are anxious for arrangements to be made under which large numbers can emigrate to Australia, and it is to be hoped that the Government will do all they can to assist. In New South Wales, a farmer has given his farm and homestead to the institution, and when it is taken over by, I presume, a Local Committee, the boys will be moved direct from the ship to the farm, where they will be trained under Australian conditions, and found homes and employment on adjoining farms. If work of this character is extended, thousands of boys could be brought to Australia and made useful citizens.’ The boys soon adapt themselves to the new conditions, and they have no desire to return to Great Britain. It would be advisable for the Commonwealth authorities to get into touch with Dr. Barnardo’s Institution, for the purpose of securing a regular supply of these useful immigrants, who would quickly become thorough Australians. I have heard of several instances of ex-Imperial Servicemen coming out with their families and returning disgruntled. They had a certain amount of money, and after remaining in Australia for a while, they expressed dissatisfaction with the- conditions here. A certain number of them never had any intention of making Australia their home. I know of no State that has so much suitable land available for the settlement of immigrants as Queensland. The Burnett scheme is a good one, because that land is of exceptionally good quality, and is close to the railway and to ports; but there is plenty of other land which is equally, as suitable for settlement. My principal reason for rising was to point out the wisdom of encouraging the bringing out of the Barnardo boys.
– They had a good reception.
– It was splendid, and they deserved all they got. The officer in charge is extremely anxious to come to a working arrangement with the Commonwealth authorities. I have no objection to loan money being expended on immigration. It would be just as good a revenue-producing proposition as many of the so-called reproductive works that areconstructed out of loan funds.
– Owing to the unfortunate standing order which prevents one from speaking for more than a given length of time at one period, I have to address the Chair again for the purpose of continuing the comparison I was making between thepopulations of the various States. A State must either progress or go back,, and we have the unfortunate spectacle of South Australia and Tasmania losing headway. The most common-sense, virile,, and enterprising people will make towards the most prosperous States. In the ten years from 1911 to 1921, 13,880 more, people left Tasmania than went into it. Considering that that State is, perhaps,, the most beautiful spot in Australia, and has a wonderfully fertile soil, such a loss in population is most serious. The island is rich in minerals and natural resources,, and the climatic conditions are as good as are to be experienced anywhere in the world.
– Tasmania is also assisted by tourist traffic.
– Yes. While that State lost 13,880 persons, the excess of arrivals over departures in New South Wales for the same period was 134,273. Queensland and New South Wales are progressive States. Although Victoria’s population in 1911 was 1,315,334 as against Queensland’s 605,664, the excess of arrivals over departures in Queensland was 30,891 for the ten-year period referred to, as against Victoria’s excess of 35,447. What is helping Queensland and New South Wales is that the best settlers have gone there, and the best are still going there. The stay-at-homes are those who say that what was sufficient in matters of government for their fathers is good enough for them. The general drift of population used to be westward, but now the people are going to the northern States. It is not a question merely of finding land ; there are other reasons why New South Wales and Queensland are progressing, and one of those reasons is the industrial conditions.
– If other conditions are equal, must not the larger States eventually outstrip the smaller ?
– That is one of the self-evident propositions from which we cannot escape. A large State is better than a small one, all other things being equal. The States that are quite prepared to take immigrants need, them badly, because their own population is leaving them.
– Western. Australia wants them more than any other State, and its population has increased.
– That was due to the gold deposits discovered there.
– That defeats your argument about good government.
– The pendulum is swinging the other way now. The latest figures show a decrease in Western Australia, and the population is drifting to New South Wales and Queensland. This morning I travelled for nearly 200 miles through rich fertile country in Victoria. I saw towns along the railway line, but scarcely a human soul. So far as the eye could reach there was not a man to be seen at work.
– Nearly all the -towns on that line are built on the road away from the railway. The rich Wangaratta and Benalla, agricultural districts are not seen from the train.
– The first thing that strikes the visitor is the absence of population.
– There is room for hundreds.
– Yes, thousands.
– It pays better to graze that land than to cultivate it.
– Yes. Sheep are more profitable than human beings. The sheep and cattle are all very well in their way, but I venture to say that a rich State like Victoria, instead of saying “ We are happy that we are not increasing our taxation,” ought to be ashamed of itself. It is like a business man being happy because he is not stocking up his warehouse and increasing his debt to put new ‘goods in. If Victoria continues along that road, it is ruined. I want to quote a word or two from a high authority in the Labour movement a few years ago - from The Case for Labour, by W. M. Hughes, M.H.R. He deals rather pertinently with this question, and not in a party spirit. It is an excellent argument in support of the Labour case, and it ought to be put. One could almost put the Labour case on any question likely to be discussed in this House by quoting this book. The man who knows most about the case on the other side will know best how to defeat “the other’ fellow,” so I suppose Mr. Hughes’ talents will now be directed to putting the clock back. Under the heading of “ Immigration arid Unemployed Men,” Mr. Hughes, in March, 1910, said -
I am not now concerned with the wisdom of such a policy in itself, although, as something has been recently said about the attitude of the Labour party towards it, I propose in another article to make clear what that attitude really is; but nothing can well be more inconsistent with the advocacy of immigration than the neglect to utilize the whole of the available labour an the community. To cry for more men and decline to employ those already here is folly, or worse. The argument used by those who advocate immigration is that population is essential to prosperity. Their contention that every normal man, woman, and child are most valuable assets to the wealth of any country, and, in particular, to new ones, seems at first sight undeniable, and under right conditions is so. But it does not fit in with facts as we know them. The unemployed man is everywhere. He is the disease of modern civilization. He is, likewise, its paradox. All wealth comes from labour, yet the richer the country the greater the number of unemployed men. Recently, in America, there were estimated to bc 5,000,000 unemployed. Last week, Mr. Winston
Churchill, President of the Board of Trade, admitted there were more unemployed in Great Britain than in Germany. In Melbourne, last week, a number of unemployed men burst into Parliament House in order to compel attention to their distress.
That statement is true to-day. We have to face the question of bringing men to this country side by side with the problem of employing them when they get here, and of employing the men who are already here. If we had the same social organization and the same powers directed to settling people in this country that we employed to organize men for war purposes, we could absorb with ease 100,000,000 people, who could be prosperous and well employed. When it comes to employing people, we are up against that section of the community which say9, “ These things must be left to private enterprise.”
– And we are up against Walsh, Willis and others.
– I venture to say that Mr. Willis is one of the finest typea of men who have ever come to this country, and he has done more for the class to which he belongs than has the honorable senator. Although he may be misunderstood and not understood, and although his official position may bring him into disagreement with people in authority, we have to judge him on the work he is doing, and he is doing that work extremely well. If he were not doing it so well as he is he would not annoy the honorable senator so much. We are told that we must have more people in order to hold this country. If chat is so, and if it is really a defence proposition, why does not the Government put the necessary money into it? Why does it not say, “We will have 100,000 more men here next year, and we will have them employed, and until we get them, we will employ the 100,000 who are now unemployed in Australia.” It is for the Government to do these things, or fail. If they fail, another Government must come along and take their place, and the sooner that happens, the better I will like it.
.- I would like to get from the Minister some additional information regarding the item “ Land in Federal Capital Territory, £10,345.” What land is proposed to be acquired for this sum of money? Another item which I would like to have amplified is “Land, Commonwealth Offices in Sydney, £25,000.” Is that the first instalment, or does it represent the total amount of money required for the purchase of the land?
Senator RUSSELL (Victoria- Vice-
President of the Executive Council) [4.58]. - Regarding the land in Sydney, the Public Accounts Committee has inquired into that matter. There are Government offices scattered all over Sydney, and enormous rents have to be paid fox them. It is considered that it would be much cheaper and much more comfortable to concentrate all the offices in one building. It would be an enormous saving as compared with the rents we are paying to-day. The sum of £25,000 is the total purchase money for the block which it is proposed to acquire in Philipstreet. The position in Melbourne is even worse than in Sydney. The Government is wasting large sums of money that ought to be put into buildings in the Federal Capital. The land referred to in the Federal Capital Territory is land which contains limestone suitable for making cement. It is known as Fairy Meadows, It is not actually part of the Federal Territory, but is adjacent to it. A lot of cement will be required for building the Capital, and the land is necessary to provide the limestone required for the manufacture of the cement. We have arrived at a settlement in regard to three blocks, and negotiations for three other blocks are pending. When the Commonwealth has acquired the land, it will be made part of the Federal Territory. The land has been the subject of a complicated case in the Courts. The Commonwealth Government claimed to be exempt from paying for minerals, but both the High Court and the Privy Council have determined that the Government must pay for the limestone, in addition to paying the ordinary value of the land. I will read the full details: -
Preliminary negotiations have taken place in the case of Mrs. Atkinson’s property, but no commitment has been incurred. No definite settlement has taken place in the case of Mrs. Farrcr’s property, but it may be found that the Commonwealth is committed by its negotiations with this lady to acquire the property.
Cotter River catchment area, £11,000.
The Federal Capital Advisory Committee has recommended that certain privately-owned lands within the Cotter catchment area be acquired. Portion of the land is immediately adjoining the storage area. No commitment has been incurred. The provision of £19,500 may, therefore, be classed under the following heads: -
It is intended to enlarge the Cotter River area by the purchase of land with the object of insuring the purity of the water. This action was recommended by the Federal Capital Advisory Committee. The Government is asking at present for only part of the money to cover these items, because the law cases may not be concluded for some years.
– Is that land inside the Capital area?
– Yes. The Commonwealth Government took the responsibility of buying out certain private owners of land within the Capital area; the remainder of the area was obtained practically as a gift. When these private owners have been bought out, the Territory will be solely Government property.
.- What I am exercised about is the vote of £19,500 for “Land in Federal Capital Territory.” ‘I can quite understand that applying to land in the Territory, negotiations for the purchase of which have not yet been completed. But I cannot understand the vote if it is to be applied to the acquisition of land outside the boundaries of the Territory.
– It applies only to land within the. Federal Capital Territory. ,
– I did not understand from the Minister (Senator Russell) that the additional catchment area to which he referred is within the Federal Capital Territory.
– ‘Yes; only it is freehold land, and the fee-simple must be acquired by the Commonwealth Govern ment-
– I understood that all land within the Federal Capital Territory had been acquired by the Commonwealth, with the exception of one or two blocks, about which there was some difficulty in making final arrangements when the Territory was taken over by the Commonwealth.
– We have made offers to the owners of the fee-simple of these lands, and have practically committed ourselves to contract for their purchase, the only matter yet to be decided’ being the price.
– Then, am I to understand that the vote is to be applied to the acquisition of land within the Federal Capital Territory the fee-simple of which has not, so far, been acquired?
.- I must again raise my voice in protest against the proposed vote of £200,000 towards the cost of the establishment of the Federal Capital at Canberra. Last year we passed a vote of £150,000 for this purpose, which, I believe, was to be paid from revenue. This year we have descended to borrowing money in order to push on with works at the Federal Capital. This will mean that) we shall be called upon to pay an annual sum for interest on the borrowed money expended there. I think that the action of the Government is quite unjustifiable in proposing in a time of financial stringency to borrow money for this purpose. I am aware that, in the absence of my fellow senators representing Victoria, I cannot expect to get much support in my opposition to this vote.
– My recollection is that Senator Guthrie and I were last year the only honorable senators who voted against expenditure proposed for Federal Capital.
– Does the honorable senator think that the Capital should not be established at Canberra?
– I think that the Federal Capital must be established there. We must some day carry out the contract which has been made, but I do not know that that contract requires that the Commonwealth should be put into pawn to give it effect. : I should like to have some particulars of the proposed vote of £10,001 for research laboratory at Maribyr-‘ nang. A” large sum of money is being expended in connexion with this undertaking, and I should like to know whether any adequate results are being obtained from its expenditure. I presume from the fact that the works are at Maribyrnong that the research is as to something in the nature of high explosives. We should be told whether any tangible results are to be expected from the expenditure of this money.
.- The proposed vote for works to be carried out under the control of the Department of Works and Railways is a very large one. It covers many important items about which we should be given the fullest information. The sum of £272,476 is proposed to be expended this year at Canberra, but this amount includes £72,476 appropriated last year-. I do not adopt any antagonistic attitude towards this particular item, but I want information as to how the money is to be expended. If it can be shown that this sum is absolutely necessary in order to carry out works which have been undertaken, and which must be completed, if we are to prevent heavy loss to the Commonwealth, there will be no opposition to the item from me. I have visited Canberra twice, and have been very much interested in the work going on there. Some excellent preliminary work has been done. If the Minister (Senator Russell) is provided with a statement showing how the proposed vote is to be spent, I hope he will give the fullest information on the subject to the Committee. I shall defer remarks upon other items covered by the total vote until the Committee has been given information as to the way in which the vote proposed for Canberra is to be spent.
– I may say, iti answer to Senator Elliott’s request for information concerning the Research Laboratory at Maribyrnong, that in former years there used to be a good deal of talk about the building of an Arsenal in the centre of Australia. The experience of the war has shown that it would be a mistake to attempt the establishment of a new industrial city for any such purpose. It has been shown that it is much better that we should have complete records of all factories in the Commonwealth which might be made available in war time for the manufacture of munitions of war. That is the practice which was followed’ in Great Britain, and it is now proposed that it should be adopted here. Such works must be established where labour is available. We have decided that these works should in the first instance be established at a very suitable site, adjacent to the Cordite Factory. Part of the vote proposed is required to finish works undertaken, and to pay for machinery that has not yet been delivered. This vote really represents the second year’s instalment required to give effect to a programme making provision for the manufacture of munitions, which it is anticipated will take five years to complete. It should be borne in mind by honorable senators that the proposed vote for this purpose is subject to review, as a consequence of reductions of expenditure promised in another place, and amounting to nearly £500,000.
– From the statement made by the Minister (Senator Russell) it is quite clear that if we agree to the proposed vote for the Maribyrnong Factory for the manufacture of high explosives, we shall be committed to such additional expenditure for this adjunct of defence as may, from time to time, be shown to be necessary. The policy of the Government has changed in recent years. Some years ago we sent a. Commission to India for the purpose of studying the very latest practice, and the advice tendered by that Commission was that the Arsenal should be established in the Federal Capital area. Exhaustive inquiries were made by the Public Works Committee, of which I was a member, with the result that a substantial sum was voted on the Estimates for the erection of the Arsenal and munition works at Canberra as against the Maribyrnong site. Judging by the proposed outlay at Maribyrnong it is clear that the policy of the Government as to the location of the Arsenal has since, been reversed. The Minister has told us that the experience of the war is responsible for this. Perhaps it is, but I should like to know if. the Maribyrnong area is within range of heavy gun fire from the open sea. If it is the danger is twofold. We know that wherever the Arsenal may be placed it may be attacked from the air, but if it is within range of big-gun fire from sea then we shall be exposing ourselves to a double risk.
– It is about 40 miles from the seaboard.
– In that case it should be quite safe from attack by sea, for the present, at all events, and I shall have nothing further to say on that point except that if the Arsenal could be established in the Federal Territory without disadvantage from the point of view of the Treasury, or any interference with economy in operation, there is no reason why it should not be located there. We shall be spending a large sum of the taxpayers’ money on this establishment, and if it is at Canberra the expenditure will tend to enhance the value of Commonwealth property, not property in the hands of private individuals, as may be the case at Maribyrnong. The late David Syme, in his earlier years, figured out what it would mean to the people of Victoria if the whole area upon which the city of Melbourne is situated were public property and not privately owned. If, some years ago, the reasons in favour of establishing the Arsenal at Canberra were sound, they ought to be equally sound to-day. But the Government are committed to a change of policy. Unless there are strong reasons why the Arsenal should not be erected at Canberra, I do not approve of the change.
– I agree with Senator Lynch that wherever possible Commonwealth activities should be located at Canberra, because the enhancement of Commonwealth property by the expenditure of Government money will be very important. I may point out, however, that the Cordite Factory was established at Maribyrnong in 1910. It is really one of the be6t sites that . could have been selected. It is on what is known as the old Maribyrnong race-course, is surrounded by hills, and the Commonwealth own the land on both sides of the Saltwater River. On the right hand there are paddocks for exercising remounts, and on the other side is the Common.wealth military horse-breeding station, known as the old C. B. Fisher Estate. It will be seen, therefore, t>at expenditure of money at Maribyrnong will enhance property already in the hands of the Commonwealth Government. As the result of experience gained during the war, the Government deem it advisable not to establish an expensive Arsenal at Canberra. In practice it has been found that the best way to insure a steady flow of munitions in time of war is to organize all private engineering firms and have an accurate record of all classes of suitable machinery that may be made available for the manufacture of mum- tions.
– But the Government have already spent £22,000 out at Maribyrnong.
– That is so, and probably we shall continue expenditure there over a period of five years. Notwithstanding the recommendation made by the Public Works Committee that the Arsenal should be established at Canberra, the Government have deemed it essential, as a result of actual experience gained during the war, to have such works in proximity to a large industrial population; otherwise, when labour is most needed, it will be unobtainable.
– I have nothing to say against the proposed vote for the Federal Capital works. *I have always been a supporter of Canberra, and I see no reason to change my mind. For one reason I desire the Commonwealth to carry out this contract entered into with New South Wales prior to Federation. Senator Payne wanted to know how the proposed vote was to be expended. He will have to wait until we get the reports that will be issued from time to time by the Public Works Committee showing how the money is to be spent.
– When items of expenditure are submitted, we should be given some information.
– I am looking to the future. The Public Works Committees will have an opportunity of investigating, expenditure in this connexion.
– Yes, on every public work exceeding £25,000 in value.
– That does not affect my request.
– I am placing my views before the Committee, and not endeavouring to answer the honorable senator’s questions, as that is the duty of the Minister. In regard to the expenditure on the Maribyrnong Factory, Senator Lynch referred to a report submitted by certain officers 9ent abroad to investigate work of this description. At that time Senator Lynch was a member of the Public Works Committee, and, speaking from memory, I think the Committee, after investigating the site at Canberra, recommended that the Arsenal be erected on the M’urrumbidgee, in the Federal Capital Territory. A few years later I was a member of the Public Works Committee which inquired into the’ construction- of a railway to the Arsenal site on the Murrumbidgee, and the line was recommended. I do not know if the Government have ever given a satisfactory reason for deciding to erect the Arsenal at Maribyrnong instead of at Canberra; but it would be futile to consider the construction of munition works in the Federal Territory until a reasonable population had gathered there. Probably the erection of a plant will follow reasonable settlement at Canberra, but that would mean delaying construction and the provision of the necessary munitions until Canberra was well established, which is impracticable.
In connexion with the expenditure in this and other directions, I sometimes wonder whether an effort is being made by certain people outside to influence public men. I presume honorable senators have recently received a letter from, the Taxpayers Association of Victoria, which, in my opinion, is one of the most impudent communications ever directed to responsible public men.
– Why take any notice of it?
– Because an effort is being made to intimidate us, and the suggestion has been made that the government of this country is not clean. When such statements are made they should be replied to.
– It is only a lot of “ crooks “ who make them.
– We do nob know who they are. There ma)’ be one or two respectable citizens who form themselves into a body, and then give it a name. This organization is endeavouring to create mischief, and is apparently after the scalp of one or two members of the Government for certain alleged acts. In the communication the words, “ In the interests of clean, economic, and efficient government “ are used. I desire to publicly protest against the action of these persons, whom I do not know - and I have not met any one who does - and to challenge their right to address members of Parliament in the way they have done.
– The honorable senator is pleasing them by referring to their communication. It should be placed in the waste-paper basket.
– It is often a mistake to relegate such communications to the waste-paper basket without repudiating the statements they contain. It is only proper that the citizens of Australia should know what public men think of these people, and we have a right to openly say what we think. I am expressing my opinion now. I shall take no further notice of their insulting letters to me, and shall not consider any communication from that organization until it is couched in respectful language.
Will the Minister (Senator Russell) explain in what direction the sum to be appropriated for the Trans-Australian Railway is to be expended ? Is it to be used for ballasting the line, for erecting better homes for the workmen, or for providing facilities - such as sheep and cattle ramps, which are badly needed - along the line?
– It is the intention to improve the accommodation and to construct more suitable homes than the temporary ones now in use. In moving the second reading of the Bill I submitted a list of the various works to be undertaken to honorable senators representing Western Australia, because I thought they would be particularly interested. Eight new homes are to be erected at Port Augusta, and twenty-two others at various points along the line for the accommodation of the staff. It is intended to pursue that policy as funds permit. Ballasting is also being done, and a large stretch is being undertaken this year. That work will also be continued as rapidly as money is available for the purpose.
– Is not anything being done in the direction of constructing cattle yards and ramps?
– I shall supply the honorable senator with details of the proposed expenditure.
– I have a good deal of sympathy with, the views expressed by Senator Lynch concerning the construction of hug© factories in large centres of population, and which the .Minister (Senator Russell) informed us constituted a reversal of the policy of the Defence Department.
– I did not say in the large centres of population.
– If Maribyrnong is not adjacent to a large centre of population I do not know what is.
– Is it not really a matter of being in the wrong State?
– I do not say so. I would just as keenly oppose the construction of factories of this type in one of the suburbs of Sydney, in that little town known as Adelaide, or in Brisbane.
– You have your works at Lithgow.
– That is not a suburb of Sydney. There is an item of £5,000 for the construction of engineering factories at Maribyrnong. We already have a Small Arms Factory at Lithgow, which is a huge establishment, replete with almost the whole of the engineering devices necessary for the manufacture of machinery or anything the Defence Department may require, and I remind the Minister that the Government recently discharged a large number of returned soldiers working there on the plea that there was insufficient work available at that Factory to employ them. Although the Factory is complete, men are being discharged, and on top of that the Government intend spending an initial sum of £5,000 for the establishment of an engineering works elsewhere.
– That is entirely different work.
– I am assured by the engineer at Lithgow that the plant there can be used for ally engineering purpose.
– And probably it will be, later.
– If it can be utilized in this direction, why is it necessary to construct a building at Maribyrnong when we already have a huge Factory adjacent to a centre of population which provides labour, every con.venience, and something which does not exist at Maribyrnong - natural defence against an attack from, overseas ?
– We have that at Maribyrnong.
– The establishment there could be reached within fortyeight hours after an invading force had landed. To reach Lithgow or Canberra would be an entirely different proposition, and one of the chief reasons for selecting Lithgow was that it was peculiarly adapted for the purpose from a defence point of view. It would be practically impossible for an invading force to interfere with the production at the Lithgow Factory, and supplies would be available at all times. If the Government were in earnest in this matter, they could extend the Factory or utilize the plant already lying idle. It is said that Maribyrnong is adjacent to a large centre of population, and that it will be unnecessary to send men there.
– It is entirely different work. This is largely chemical work in connexion with explosives.
– An engineering factory is not a chemical laboratory, and, moreover, there is another item relating to chemical establishments. The Government are making a mistake in constructing a factory at Maribyrnong or at any other centre adjacent to our already overcrowded cities. The Minister must not forget that the establishment of Government works at Canberra and the employment of men adds to the value of the land which the Government own. It would also be assisting the policy of decentralization and improving the value of the asset which the Government possess in the Federal Territory. ‘ The Minister disclaims any political ‘’ pull,” but I ami inclined to believe that there has been a good deal of political influence brought to bear in connexion with the decision to establish works at Maribyrnong. The curse of our Commonwealth administration to-day is that there is too much centralization in Melbourne. In the other States it is almost impossible to get anything done, unless the “king pins” in Melbourne are of the opinion that it ought to be done.
– A comparison of the expenditure in Victoria with that in New South Wales will give you your answer.
– It would have been infinitely better, in the interests both of the Commonwealth and of Victoria, for the Government to have built these factories in their own territory rather than adjacent to large centres of population.
– There is no comparison to be mad© between these works and the FactoryatLithgow. The machinery at Lithgow is not suitable for making larger guns.
– This is not a question of an arsenal.
– We have taken the best expert advice as to the most suitable sites from every point of view.
– Keep to the point. This is an engineering matter.
– New South Wales cannot have the whole world. I resent the suggestion that Victoria has a political “pull.” Victoria has not received more than its fair share of Federal expenditure, and I intend to quote figures later on to show that New South Wales has not been unfairly treated.
– If you are charitable, you will not quote the figures.
– There are splendid works at Lithgow.
– It is a matter of public economy.
– I strongly object to it being suggested that Victoria has had a political “ pull.”
– -These corridors were thronged with Victorians throughout the Tariff debate.
– I am not prepared to listen to a charge of political influence having been exerted. I shall make a complete statement as to the number of Commonwealth works carried out in the various States.
– I would like some information regarding the proposed expenditure of £335,000 under the River Murray Waters Act. Is that amount for any particular work? I would also like enlightenment with respect to the £10,000 set down as required this year in connexion with’ the Port Augusta-Oodnadatta railway.
Senator RUSSELL (Victoria- VicePresident of the Executive Council) 5.56]. - A complete scheme has been developed by the Murray Waters Commission, and has been approved by the different States. The Commonwealth originally promised to contribute £1,000,000, ‘but that was when contract work was much less costly than it is to day. The States interested are South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales, and the Commonwealth has joined as a fourth partner. Our contribution is one-fourth of the cost of the scheme, and the amount of £335,000 is our proportion for the ensuing twelve months. I do not think there will be any objection to loan money being devoted to this work, because the development of the River Murray is a national undertaking which will prove reproductive.
.- I was hoping that the Minister (Senator Russell) would give me the information I sought regarding the proposed vote of £200,000 for the Federal Capital.
– I missed that, but I shall reply later.
– I take it that the enormous sum required this year in connexion with the River Murray scheme, as compared with last year, is mainly due to the additional expenditure involved for locking and water conservation. This year, £259,193 is asked for, or nearly twice as much as in the previous year.
– The Commission asked for £417,000 this year.
– There is £75,807 already available under appropriations, made by previous Acts. I hope the Minister will give detailed information respecting the proposed expenditure at the Federal Capital.
– I cannot do that. We have cut down, the amount asked for by over one-half. .
– If we are not supplied with full details, there should be a rough scheme submitted before such a large sum is voted.
– We are only asked to authorize the expenditure after the Public Works Committee has recommended the works.
– Nothing of the kind. Notwithstanding a report by that Committee, the work cannot be proceeded with unless the money is voted. If the Government brought down a proposal that £200,000 should be voted for the carrying out of specific works, we should know where we were.
– All the details are in the report of the Advisory Committee, and we are going to ask it to review its proposals and reduce its expenditure by £200,000.
– If we were told that there were certain sums required for such works as road extension, sewerage, water supply, additions to brick manufacturing plant, and the erection of cottages, we would know for what specific purposes we were voting the money. That is the kind of information I want. There is an item in the schedule, “ Port Augusta-Oodnadatta. Railway, £8,258.”
– I asked tie Minister about that,, and he did not reply.
– There is a total of £10,000 set down as required this year for that railway. I find that the loss on working it is estimated to be £53,115 this year, as against £30,861 last year, an increased loss of £22,254.
– The policy is to continue the railway to Alice Springs.
– I cannot vote for a penny being spent on it, in view of the enormous loss on its working at present;, unless it can be shown that the expenditure now proposed will considerably reduce that loss.
– It can easily be avoided, because South Australia wants to get the line back.
Senator RUSSELL (Victoria- VicePresident of the Executive Council) T6.3]. - The works proposed at the Federal Capital relate to sewerage, roads, water supply, bridge over the Molonglo River, intercepting the drainage channel, stormwater drainage, railway siding, &c, electrical supply, cottages, planting, plant, and contingencies.
– Is there anything for further afforestation?
– No. That is a permanent work, which I suppose is being continued.
– Are any additional cottages for workmen to be erected ?
– There are no buildings proposed for the first year.
– There is one item to which I wish to refer, namely, “ Cockatoo Island Dockyard - Engineering and other works, £8,380.” I found, on the Commission of which I had the honour to be chairman, that the Works and Railways Department had carried out a great deal of work on the island. The swindling and thieving took place under the control of that Department. The malpractices reflected upon the management, which had nothing to do with. them. All the authorities whom the Royal Commission examined were totally opposed to the system of divided control. I would like to know from the Minister whether the Government has . agreed to give the people on the island the sole control of the island ?
– I feel sure that it will be regretted if the old system on the island is reverted to. Included in the item of £8,380 for Cockatoo Island are the following items: - Widening the slipways, relaying crane tracks, foundations for air rambler, overhead runway, cable pillar,, drainage, forge furnaces, purchase and overhaul of launch, crane track, and tracks on wharf. They are ordinary public works, such as are not undertaken by shipbuilders. No one is sent on to the island to do work except at the request of the management.
– Is it the Works Department or the -Cockatoo Island Board that controls this island?
– The Cockatoo Island Board.
– But the Works and Railways Department carries out works there.
– The Department carries out all the works. That is the usual practice.
– It is a disgusting practice to have two Departments on the island.
– There will not be two Departments.
– I am astonished at the statement of the Minister (Senator Russell) that we still have dual control on the island, which, we were assured, would be run -dcn the most up-to-date commercial lines. Senator Redd very wisely raised the point, and we discovered that it was the intervention of outside Departments that opened the gateway to all the corruption, abominable administration, and tremendous and wicked waste of the taxpayers’ money’ that took place. I have no two opinions on that matter. Every expert who was examined admitted that the dual control was the loophole in the administration. I thought the dual system had been wiped out for ever, and that the Board now had absolute control of every man employed on the island and of all the work carried out on the island.
– So they have.
– The island was going to be run, so we were assured, on up-to-date, commercial, business lines, hut in this Bill we have an item of £8,380 to be spent on works to be carried out by the Works and Railways Department. If my memory serves me rightly, it was agreed that when the island was taken over by the Board it should be capitalized at a certain amount. I believe the amount was in the vicinity of £400,000. It cost the taxpayers, as nearly as we could estimate, after very careful investigation, considerably over £.1,000,000, or nearer to £2,000,000.
– The Commission’s estimate was too high.
– The Commission’s estimate was approximately what has been agreed upon. It was set out in the original letter sent to the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) by those who had charge of the island. That letter was written as far back as March, 1920. The letter was to the effect that the island should be taken over and capitalized at £1,000,000. On very careful investigation, in which I took an active part, it was discovered that the general manager, the accountant, the foreman, and everybody else who had a right to speak with authority admitted that they could not go on paying depreciation, insurance, &c, on that sum of money. It has been agreed that the Department should be run on commercial lines by the new Board, on conditions set forth by the Government,’ and agreed to by the Commission. The capital of the undertaking was then fixed at £400,000. How are public men to ascertain whether the undertaking is holding its own ? How can we know whether we are justified in voting an expenditure of over £8,000 in the present Bill? We have already thrown £1,500,000 into the sea as a war relic, and the capital has. been written down, and yet as soon as anything is required on the island the Government wants to borrow money. * Are the Government going to increase the capital of £400,000? When the huge concern was handed over it was admitted by all those who had a right to express an opinion on oath that they could realize on some hundreds of thousands of pounds’ worth of stores ‘alone. They admitted that they could still carry on after reducing £300,000 worth of stores by a half. Have these stores been sold ? If they have, what has been done with the money? Has it gone back into the general revenue? Has the Government a proper bookkeeping system, with a debit and credit, showing the working capital of the island ? If every time the Government wants a new machine, or an alteration made at the island, it raises another loan, the difficulties of the past will recur.
– There is no revenue from the island.
– If my honorable friend had only followed what I had said he would not make that observation. It is admitted that there are £200,000 worth of goods that can be turned into ready money, and yet the Government is asking for authority to spend £8,000. Is it not possible -to carry on the island with a capital of £400,000, after having thrown the balance of the expenditure into the gutter? If it is not, honorable senators have a very serious case to consider. I personally will nob be prepared to allow the vote to pass unless we can getdown to “ tin tacks “ in this matter. We have had an unfortunate experience, and the taxpayers have paid for it. If any one outside the Board goes on to the island I will raise, my voice in protest on every opportunity. It was the action of Departments in doing work on the island against the desire of the controlling forces on the island that opened the door to all the loss and waste that took place. Unless the Minister can assure me that the expenditure of this money is necessary, and can be justified for the working of the island, and that the work is going to be carried out under the supervision of the Board, I will move that the item be struck out.
– Senator Wilson seems to fail to understand that these works are being carried out at the request of the authorities on the island. Senator Wilson has laid it down that certain things have been done, but they are still under consideration. The Government have not decided to capitalize the undertaking at £400,000. I want the amount to be much less than that, so as to give commercial shipping a good opportunity to prosper. I have been putting up a fight to get the amount as low as possible. I know something of what can be carried in overhead charges on commercial shipping. We have had ships built at £30 a ton and then sent to the Shipping Line to operate. We want boats built as cheaply as possible, and that cannot be done if we have unreasonable overhead charges that are not in proportion to the amount of business done. In assuming the figure of £400,000j Senator Wilson is assuming more than I would assume. I do not want the figure to be placed higher than £250,000, which, I think, is a fair and reasonable overhead charge for the building of ships on commercial lines. It will be ridiculous if the two boats that are being built have to carry a charge of £400,000.
– If the term. “ ridiculous” is applicable, nobody in charge at the island is qualified to express an opinion.^
– I am allowing them their opinion, but I have an opinion myself. I played some part in the settlement of the dispute on the island, and I had a big hand in cutting off £84,000 of overhead charges. I did not go round with a trumpet; but it was done. Now, we have to make a final adjustment as between the Treasury and the Shipping Board regarding overhead charges. That has not been agreed to.
– It has been virtually agreed to.
– No. It is a basis df discussion, and the figure is not settled.
– £400,000 is the figure under discussion.
– It is a matter for investigation.
– Does the Minister admit that Mr. Farquhar’s opinion is reliable?
– I would respect his opinion. I have had further talks with him since he gave his evidence, and I think that he would now fix a lower sum. He has had considerable experience at Cockatoo Island, and he has done remarkably good work there. I believe he is a capable shipbuilder and a good manager.
– The Minister has not stated whether the sum of £8,380 is to be spent with the Board’s approval.
– Yes. They have written to the Department asking that the work should be done. We are trying to help them to get the business in good order. The individual items are small, widening the slipway, £4,000, being the largest. The slipway had to be broadened, and the crane tracks relaid to provide for the construction of the big 12,000-ton boats. That work has been completed and must be paid for.
– So another £8,000 goes by the board.
– The honorable senator knows that when he was at Cockatoo Island this work was three parts done. I hope that at least honorable senators from New South Wales will not oppose necessary expenditure for this progressive shipyard at Cockatoo Island.
– Can the Minister give any information concerning the vote of £10,000 for the Port AugustaOodnadatta railway?
– The £10,000 is required to meet proportion of capital necessary to replace existing 40-lb. and 50-lb. with 60-lb. rails, £5,636; erection of employees barracks at Quorn and Beltana, £3,800; and for miscellaneous works, £564.
– The Minister could not tell us the loss on this railway since it has been opened.
– I am not surprised that Senator Thomas should be concerned in the matter, because he was a member of the Government that took over the Oodnadatta railway. Perhaps as I supported the taking over of the railway, I should share the honorable senator’s responsibility.
.- The Minister’s explanation of expenditure proposed at Cockatoo Island does not touch the most important question that has been raised. I know that it was necessary to widen the slip before the keels could be put down for the larger steamers, and I am glad that work has been completed. What I most desired to know was whether the Government intended to continue the policy of divided control in the carrying out of works at Cockatoo Island. We know that it is the practice to have all works required by any Government Department carried out by officials of the Department of Works and Railways. I decidedly object to the Works and Railways Department carrying out works on Cockatoo
Island, because every man who lands on the island is liable to be searched.
– The works which have been referred to have already been carried out.
– I am aware of that. I a,m asking what the policy of the Government is to be in future in connexion with the carrying out of works on Cockatoo Island ? I am contending that they should be carried out by the Board.
– I have no doubt that if the Board desired to proceed with such works the Government would permit it to do so, but it was not established when the works to which I have referred were carried out.
– I am aware of that. I want to support the position taken up by the Royal Commission and by the Board. I know how the officials of the Works Department are likely to resist what has been proposed. They gave evidence before the Royal Commission that they carried out works for every Department of the Government. There is a great deal to be said in favour of public works being carried out by officials of the Works and Railways Department, but the conditions at Cockatoo Island are of a, special nature, and all works carried out there should be under the control of those charged with the management of the island.
– The Government favour the island being as self-contained as possible.
– -I do not blame the honorable senator for objecting to Cockatoo Island being debited with so much of the overhead charges for shipbuilding. Many of those charges should be debited to the Naval Defence vote. I congratulate the Minister on putting up such a good fight to have Cockatoo Island placed upon a proper business basis. The principal trouble there arose from duplication of management, and I say that those charged with the management of affair’s at Cockatoo Island should have the right to carry out their own works in. their own way.
– There are some votes in the schedule for expenditure at Lithgow, and I should like to ask the Minister if I am correctly informed when I say that we have a reserve of small arms in Australia to-day equal to, if not greater than, we have ever had before?
– Certainly not. We have nothing like an adequate supply of small arms in Australia to-day.
.- I should like the Minister to give the Committee some information concerning the vote of £15,000 proposed towards cost of Commonwealth Offices in Sydney.
– That information was given some time ago.
– The information given so far was as to> the site of the proposed Commonwealth Offices.
Sitting suspended from 6. SO to 8 p.m.
.- I have elicited from the Minister (Senator Russell) information to the effect that of the total of £10,000 proposed to be expended on the Port AugustaOodnadatta railway line, £3,800 is required to provide the necessary barracks for the workmen at Quorn and Maree, and £5,635 is the proportionate cost for the replacement of the line with heavier rails. That information was perfectly satisfactory, as far as it goes, but I should like to know if the Department is justified in incurring this expenditure on a line upon, which, I understand, there is but one train a fortnight each way. Are not the present rails good enough to carry that traffic for some years to come? If the line is in fair order, additional expenditure should not be incurred, in view of. the present condition of our finances. Last year the line showed -a dead loss of “ £124,660, made up of interest and sinking fund £71,550, and loss on working, over £53,000. That is the estimated loss this year. It is surprising that if traffic is not increasing there should be Any necessity to spend £5,000 or £6,000 for replacement with heavier rails. Clearly, the Department does not anticipate any additional traffic, otherwise they would not estimate this annual loss on working expenses.
– Perhaps it is necessary to lay heavier rails in order to . carry bigger engines.
– If that is the Minister’s answer, it will of course meet my criticism.
– That portion of the line between Quorn and Port Augusta carries traffic from the East-West railway.
– One cannot help commenting on the fact that this ex- penditure is to be incurred, in view of a still further anticipated deficit on the line this year.
– Why not close it up for twelve months?
– I do not think that could be done, because the people who are served by the railway would then be isolated. The loss on working is due, of course, to the very sparse population served by the line.
– Honorable senators will perhaps understand the position when I remind them that the section of the Oodnadatta railway from Port Augusta to Quorn carries the east-west traffic this side of Port Augusta. It is possible that the Department deems it necessary to replace some portion of this section with heavier rails in order to handle the traffic with greater safety. It is hardly fair, I think, that the Oodnadatta railway should be regarded merely as an incubus. Honorable senators should bear in mind that it is only the first section of what was intended to be the direct railway line to Port Darwin; and that cattle travelling from Queensland to the Adelaide ana Melbourne markets are conveyed over this line from Oodnadatta. If the Port Augusta-Quorn section is not kept in good order, passengers on the East-West railway travelling through to Adelaide and the eastern States would probably be inconvenienced, because there would be, so to speak, a weak link in the railway chain.
.- Senator Senior is usually fairly correct in his statements, but I should like to remind him that cattle travelling from Queensland to the Adelaide and eastern markets are not trucked at Oodnadatta at all, but at Maree, which is about 200 miles south of the head of the line. I suppose Senator Senior and the other representatives of South Australia have no objection to Queensland cattle providing freight for this particular railway line and, incidentally, meat for the people of that State. The returns on this railway are governed largely by the price of meat. Recently there has been a tremendous slump in beef, and consequently the traffic is not as great as it has been when higher prices are prevailing. Moreover, the season in the north has been good, and the stock routes from the Queensland border down.’ to Maree, which in drought periods are impassable, are now carrying good feed, and stock is driven even as far south as Dry Creek instead of being trucked.
– Then a good season affects the railway returns?
– Yes, to some extent, for the reasons I have mentioned. In Queensland and portions of New South Wales the railway freights have also been increased to such an extent that stockowners find it cheaper to drove the stock to market, and the higher freights, instead of increasing revenue, have been a means of reducing it.
– I move-
That the item “ Federal Capital- Towards cost of establishment, £200,000,” be reduced by £50,000.
– Why not reduce it still further?
– I would knock it all off if I had my way.
– If the honorable senator wishes to destroy that scrap of paper, why should he be satisfied with merely tearing off the corner?
– What difference would the proposed reduction make to South Australia?
– I shall show the honorable senator. Last year about £75,000 was expended, and there was a surplus remaining of a’ similar amount. So that if we vote £150,000 this year there will still be £225,000, or approximately three times the amount spent last year, on which to operate. The Minister (Senator Russell), on behalf of the Government, said that every effort was being made to exercise economy,’ and this is a direction in which expenditure can be avoided. In certain States taxation is being increased, and if unnecessary expenditure is to be incurred Federal taxation will also have to be higher. I think I can speak for a majority of the taxpayers of the Commonwealth when I say that the burden they have to carry is already sufficiently heavy. Alderman Brooks, M.L.C., of New South Wales, who is. I believe, the president of the Federal Capital League, and evidently one of the gentlemen who whispers into the ears of New South Wales senators, said - “There is little doubt that sufficient pressure can be brought upon the
Government to make available additional funds in order that the full amount recommended by the Advisory Committee should be spent during the current financial year.”
– That was £400,000.
– Yes. Alderman Brooks, after congratulating Senator Thomas and others on their efforts to further the progress of the Federal Capital, went on to say that New South Wales has a right to demand that the Government shall spend during’ the present financial year the extra money suggested by the Committee. Senator Gardiner said that I was prepared to tear up the “ scrap of paper.” Surely he was not serious; because I desire to see the compact honoured, but I do not think that unnecessary expenditure should be incurred at the present juncture. When this arrangement was entered into no one realized that we would be engaged in a lengthy and costly war, which would increase our responsibilities and place’ additional burdens upon the producers and people generally. When money is required for urgent public works, is there any justification for rushing forward with this project? Expenditure has been reduced in other Departments, with the assistance of representatives from New South Wales, but when it is a question of reducing . the vote for the Federal Capital - we are getting on very well withoutit - there is no opposition from them. I do not wish the work already undertaken to deteriorate, or to suggest that absolutely essential expenditure should be curtailed. The time, however, is inopportune, and we should not, therefore, unnecessarily incur further liabilities.
.- I do not think the remarks of Senator Wilson call for a lengthy reply; but when an honorable senator suggests reducing the vote in the interests of economy I desire to ask him, if he does not intend to tear up the “ scrap of paper,” when he intends the Capital to be “built and Parliament to assemble there? The economy suggested by Senator Wilson could be compared with that of a farmer who cleared and ploughed his land ready for cropping, which would give him a return for1 the labour, but who refrained from putting in the crop because it would cost him money. Does Senator Wilson call that economy 1 The £2,000,000 to be expended in establishing the Federal Capital would within a very short time be returned in rente, whereas if the Seat of Government is not transferred- the Capital is lying idle. As there is a possibility of taking a vote, I shall not detain the Committee longer.
– When we consider the approximate population of Australia, the amount by which Senator Wilson proposes to reduce the vote is equal to about 2½d. per head.
– Surely the honorable senator does not regard it as a two-penny half-penny proposal.
– That is the proposal of Senator Wilson, and if Senator Crawford is likely to grieve over the amount, I am willing to hand him 3d. and thus remove his objection to the proposal.
– Not only as a Minister, but as a senator representing New South Wales, may I put one question to Senator Wilson? The honorable senator says that this is not the time to undertake the work, and draws attention to the fact that when the clause was inserted in the Constitution no one had any premonition of a great war. May I ask Senator Wilson to inform the Committee at what stage before the outbreak of war did he advocate the work being proceeded with? A. great international conflict was not in sight, and others who hold -views similar to those of Senator Wilson were then saying, “ Not in our time, O Lord !” I believe Senator Wilson’s statement expresses his true thoughts, and regarding him as I do as typical of many critics,. I may say that we would accept his re-‘ marks and . judgment with a great deal more respect if he indicated a time in which this work should be carried out.
– I will do that, if the Minister wishes.
– The same argument that Senator Wilson now advances was used fourteen years ago. If Senator Wilson and his friends were in favour, before the war, of proceeding with the work at Canberra, they cannot expect great respect to be paid to their present request that there should be delay. As a matter of fact, they have always been opposed to the establishment of the’
Federal Capital. They were against it because of the war, and to-morrow and for all time they will be against it for some other reason. We should believe in loyal observance of the compact made with New South Wales, and we have a right to discount the seriousness of the claim of those who say that they are willing to go on with the work, but not at present.
– I would like to remind the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) that I now have a responsibility which fourteen years ago I did not enjoy. Economy has been advocated throughout the debates on the measures with which we have been dealing lately. It is the duty of the Committee to legislate for the whole of Australia. The Minister has not shown any justification, in the statement he has just made to the Committee, for hurrying away to Canberra.
– The justification is obvious. I was showing the want of reason in your argument.
– Some of the things that happened during the Tariff debate furnished sufficient reason.
– They will be enough to drive some people out of this country. Talk about encouraging secondary industries! Only this afternoon, when one honorable senator was discussing the question of why a certain Commonwealth industry was not to be established at Canberra, the reply of the Minister was that it was no use taking it away from the centres of population. If the Government feel that they cannot start an industry successfully at Canberra, who do they think is going there?
– We want to help you to get population there.
– The Minister should not dodge my question. I agree with the Government that there is no necessity to start such industries in the bush, and it will be very difficult to ask any secondary industry to go there. The difficulties of States like Western Australia and Queensland, through being so far removed from the Federal Administration, would be intensified tenfold if Federal head -quarters were at Canberra. We have enough capitals already. There is centralization from one end of Australia to the other. ‘ I will name the time when we should go on with the Federal Capital ; it is when we have done justice to this island continent in the direction of developmental work. Queensland, which has vast possibilities for settlement, is virtually undeveloped. South Australia is not fully developed, although it has no great area of land suitable for subdivision. Reductions have been made - in the proposed expenditure in many Departments, and even if we cut down the Canberra vote, as I have suggested, we shall be agreeing to double the expenditure of last year.
– The Government have reduced the amount from £400,000 to £200,000.
– The Government, probably, realized that there would be a lot of people who would be pleased to have the amount cut in halves. I am still of the opinion that the sum of £150,000 is in excess of what should be voted. I appeal to honorable senators to realize the responsibility which rests upon them to decide whether the proposed expenditure on the Federal Capital is justified.
– When are we justified in honorably carrying out the compact made with New South Wales?
– Until we have completed the development of Australia, another capital will not be justified.
– On that argument, you could put the work off indefinitely.
– If the Government do not hurry on with developmental work, the responsibility will be on their shoulders.
– No matter how much development went on, you would still put off the building of the Federal Capital.
– I do not believe that honorable senators generally consider the time opportune to go on^ with it. I again remind the Committee that, if my amendment is accepted, the vote will still “be double the amount voted last year.
.- The attitude of Senator Wilson on this question is rather peculiar. He suddenly finds himself posing as a champion of economy, but I have heard no complaint from ‘ South Australia regarding the expenditure of Commonwealth money on the Murray Waters scheme. When the Federal Government undertook certain liabilities in that direction, Senator Wilson thought they were doing a fine work. I have yet to learn that there was very serious opposition from him to the East- West Railway. He likes to pose in the limelight as a great champion of economy when it is proposed to spend money in any State other than his own, but with regard to expenditure in South Australia he is discreetly silent.
– Name an instance.
SenatorFOLL. - There is an amount set down in the schedule for the Murray Waters scheme. I suggest that Senator Wilson move that that item be reduced.
– I intend to speak about that.
– I am glad to hear that the honorable senator is going to be consistent, and I hope he will move at least for a reduction of the proposed vote. I hope, also, that he will support the proposal to be submitted by Senator Payne for a reduction in the proposed expenditure on the Port Augusta-Oodnadatta Railway. Senator Wilson said, in reply to the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen), that he was not prepared to support an expenditure of £200,000 uselessly, as he described it, at Canberra, but he is prepared to vote £150,000.
– Did I not attempt to explain my reason for that?
– The honorable senator made a very lame attempt to do so. If Senator Wilson is a real, advocate of economy, let him move that the whole of the item be wiped out. What appreciable difference is there between a wasteful expenditure of £150,000 on Canberra 1 and a wasteful expenditure of £200,000 on the same project? To my mind Senator Gardiner put the case in a nutshell when he pointed out that a large amount of money has been spent at Canberra, and is not earning any interest. I claim to be just as keen an advocate of economy as is Senator Wilson, although I do not stand up and make so much, noise about it. I maintain that economy does not consist in the amount of money spent, but rather in the way in which, it is spent. If the further expenditure of several hundreds of thousands of pounds at Canberra will make the money already spent there of some value to Australia, it will be justified. I hope the work a’t Canberra will be carried out as soon as possible, and that Parliament will move there at the earliest opportunity.
– I rise to support the amendment that the vote be reduced by £50,000. The economy advocates who are rampant in another place have very materially reduced the vote for the defence of Australia. What is the use of building another capital when we have not the adequate means of defending it? What is the use of building a capital in the bush at this stage of the proceedings, when the economists demand such alterations in the Defence Estimates that four hundred returned soldiers have had to be thrown out of employment in the Defence Department?
– That was not the reason why the honorable gentleman opposed the expenditure on the last occasion.
– I did not oppose it on the last occasion; I voted for it, and am not opposing it now. I am supporting an amendment to reduce the- item of £200,000 by £50,000.
– Is not this money going to provide work for returned soldiers ?
– BROCKMAN. - Senator Foll, as a member of the Public Works Committee, knows that there is very little probability of the amount voted being spent this year. Probably a reduction of £50,000 will . not affect the amount of work done at Canberra in the next year. Nevertheless,, there is a principle at stake. The most important function of Government in Australia is the protection of what we have, and if we cannot afford to do that we cannot afford to build bush capitals. That is the attitude I take up, and, therefore, I support the amendment of Senator Wilson, that the vote be reduced by £50,000.
Question - That the amendment be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I was challenged a few moments ago regarding the amount set down for die River Murray Waters scheme, and, not being parochial, I desire to refer to it now. Senator Toll directed attention to the amount of £259,193 set down in the schedule for that scheme. By interjection, while the Minister (Senator Russell) was speaking, I indicated that I was not satisfied with the River Murray agreements, or with the expenditure on the scheme at the present time. We have had experiences of dual control, and the public have paid dearly for them, but today we have made no progress whatever towards securing that the whole of the money spent shall go through one authority. South Australia is spending so many millions, and Victoria and New South Wales are doing the same, while the Federal Government are operating at the Hume Reservoir. I understand that there has been some delay in the appointment of the Commission. When is the Commission needed - after the money has been spent, or before? Surely it is required to insure that the money will be wisely spent?
– What power does the Commonwealth Government possess in the control of this expenditure?
– That is opening up a very big question. The Commonwealth, I understand, will have the biggest say in the appointment of the Commission. If we are going to do anything satisfactory in such a huge proposition, there must be co-operation between everybody concerned, and the scheme must be controlled by one authority.
– Is there not already a Commission of which the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Groom) is chairman?
– Not yet. The whisper is that he is going to be the man.
– There is a Commission already
– There are South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales controlling different sections of the work, and a Commonwealth Board on top of them. A Bill for the appointment of a Commission has been passed by this Parliament and by some of the State Parliaments, but it is hung up, I understand, in New South Wales. Why has not the new Commission been appointed? I am somewhat alarmed at the prospect of not getting anything like the results that we are entitled to from the expenditure incurred.
– It is the most useful expenditure that is being incurred in Australia to-day.
– I think so, if it is wisely spent; but I am in a position to say that big blunders have been made. I will not speak of those now.
– In a big scheme such as this there must be blunders.
– Yes; but are we going to allow the scheme to be carried on in a higgledy-piggledy way? Are honorable senators satisfied that the money is being well spent? I make bold to say that it is not being well spent.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that the present Commission is not looking after the expenditure of the money?
– The Commission has not been appointed.
– I mean the present Commission.
– They have certain powers; but the Bill to which I have referred will give them larger powers. The appointment of the Commission is very important for the control and protection of public expenditure. The time has arrived when the Commission should be appointed at once, so that it can take charge of the work.
– Senator Wilson is in this matter of the Murray River water scheme disputing only with himself. At first the powers of the Commission appointed were confined to supervision, . and the various works were carried out by the Governments of the States concerned. That has been found to be unsatisfactory. In the construction of one dam, about 9 miles from Albury, the workers on the New South Wales side of the river were being paid 2s. per day more than those on the Victorian side, with the natural and anticipated result that the Victorian workmen went on strike. The members of the Commission have since agreed that full powers in connexion with all construction should be enjoyed by the Commission if such incidents are to be avoided in the future. There is only one State - New South Wales - which has not so far expressed its agreement with the new proposals. The New South Wales Government have suggested one or two technical amendments of the agreement in which the representatives of the other States on the Commission have concurred. It is now only a matter of formally signing the agreement under which the existing Commission will have complete powers to carry out all construction work directly.
– Has the Minister any idea as to who will form the Commission ?
– The Commission to which I refer is already in existence and in a thoroughly healthy condition.
– Is there not a permanent Commission of Management to be appointed ?
– That will be when the works are completed, and not for construction purposes.
– So that the Commission of Management will have no control until all the money has been spent.
– To have two Commissions in charge of construction would probably be more inconvenient than to have the construction carried out under four authorities, as has been the case until recently. The existing Commission is charged with construction, and its functions will cease when the River Murray works are completed. No doubt a Business Commission will then be appointed to take charge.
– I wish to say a few words with regard to the amount of money the Commonwealth Government propose to spend in subsidizing aerial mail services between the different capital cities. In another place the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has informed honorable members, in answer to questions, that it is proposed to establish such services. In my opinion the capital cities are already sufficiently well served in this regard by their express train services, and the money proposed to be spent on aerial mail services between the capitals could be much more usefully applied to affording better facilities to people resident in the centre of Australia. Senator Newland and I recently travelled through Central Australia.
– This is very interesting, but I can see no vote in the schedule for aerial mail services.
– The honorable senator is not in order in discussing aerial mail services on the proposed appropriations for the construction and extension of telegraphs and telephones. Whilst I have no desire to restrict the privileges of honorable senators, I think I should be instituting a bad precedent if I permitted discussion of a matter for which no appropriation can be found in the schedule to the Bill before the Committee.
– I direct your ‘attention to an appropriation for the Brisbane General Post Office.
– That part of the schedule has been passed by the Committee.
– I .think that I should be able to connect a discussion upon aerial mail services with the proposed appropriation for telegraphic extension, and I should like to say that in Central Australia, where people have to be content with six-weekly camel mail services, itwould be a very great boon to them if they could be given the advantage of an aerial mail service.
– I think the honorable senator has sufficiently illustrated his argument, and I must rule that he will not be in order in discussing aerial mail services on the item now before the Committee.
– I quite realize, sir, that in your capacity as Chairman of Committees you must carry out the Standing Orders, and that on all occasions you are prepared to give honorable senators as much latitude in discussion as possible. Perhaps the Minister in charge of the Bill would consent to its recommittal in order to give me an opportunity to discuss the matter of aerial mail services.
– The honorable senator will have a full opportunity to discuss the matter on the general Estimates.
– I shall take advantage of that opportunity.
– My only objection to the proposed appropriation for the extension of telegraphs and telephones is to its inadequacy. The amount required for this year is £750,000, and I find that the amount already available under previous appropriations is £195,737.
– There is another £750,000 provided from revenue.
– I am aware of that. It is proposed to spend this year £1,500,000 from both loan and revenue on the extension pf telegraphs and telephones, but that amount will be materially reduced by what has been appropriated and expended already. The expenditure really proposed for this year will not be anything like £1,500,000. Some of the money is to be devoted to the construction of conduits and the laying of wires underground; and in my view that is quite foreign to the extension of telegraphic and telephonic communication. The construction of conduits and the undergrounding of wires is necessary for the convenience of people in large centres of population, but it is a vastly different matter from telegraphic and telephonic extension in the interior. When the total vote provided for these purposes is reduced by the amount to be expended on conduits and undergrounding of wires, and by the sum of £195,000 available under previous appropriations, it is clear that not a great deal of money will be available for telegraphic and telephonic extension in the back blocks-. It should not be forgotten that telegraph and telephone lines are largely selfsupporting. I protest against the Government, who profess to be progressive and to desire to promote the interests of the rural population, going about this work in so parsimonious a way.
– I understand that it is the intention to spend half of the money in the country districts and half in the centres of population.
– That will mean that there will be, roughly, £300,000 for expenditure on telegraph and telephone extensions in the country districts. The expenditure should be at least £1,500,000. No work can more truly be said to be developmental than the construction of telegraph and telephone lines in the country districts. If we want progress in the country we must make the lives of the people resident in the interior more attractive than they are at present. That can only be done by a substantial expenditure on works of this kind. I should like the Committee to insist upon the Government bringing down, if necessary, Supplementary Loan Estimates to make more money available for this purpose. Any second-rate municipality in the country will undertake greater expenditure upon progressive works. The proposals of the Government are not progressive, and they do not set a good example to the people who are engaged in the hardy enterprise of developing the interior. When we compare what is proposed in this regard by the Commonwealth Government with what is done in New Zealand, we have reason to be ashamed of ourselves. I find from the last Budget presented by Mr. Massey, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, that, owing to the nonarrival of a large quantity of material required for telegraphic and telephonic construction and maintenance works, a sum of £200,000 had to be- carried over into the year 1921-22. He proceeded to say that the total amount to be expended last year out of the vote for telegraphic and telephonic extension was £326,000, and that, also, a sum of £143,000 was to be expended in maintaining in efficient working order the existing telegraph and telephone lines. The New Zealand Government, charged with the administration of that comparatively small area of country, were willing to spend no less than £526,000 on telegraph and telephone line extensions, and £143,000 on the maintenance of existing services. The population of the Commonwealth is about four and a half times as great as that of New Zealand. If we were to be guided by the expenditure in New Zealand on these services last year the Commonwealth Government would propose an expenditure of £2,400,000 on telegraph and telephone lines. We do not even know how much of the money proposed to be appropriated under this item will be expended on main trunk lines, but it would appear that a despicably paltry balance will be left for expenditure in the interior.
– If people want a telephone line in the country they must build it themselves. ‘
– And pay for it.
– I had to build my own line, and I have to pay the same fees as are required from those who have lines erected for them by the Government.
– The honorable senator is quite right, and I have already said that the telephone system is practically self-supporting. Compared with what has been done in New Zealand, we are proposing to spend a most paltry sum upon this work. Some of the contemplated expenditure in other directions might very well be curtailed in order to make available a large amount for telegraphic and telephonic extensions in outback districts. If honorable senators would, in the interests of our pioneers, point out to the people what a makebelieve this effort on the part of the Government really is, some good would be done. I am disappointed. The Government should come down with Supplementary Estimates to greatly extend this work, which, after all, will involve the country in no material loss, because the outlay will, in a great measure, be repaid to the Treasury. I should like to hear, what the Minister has to say upon this matter. Possibly what has been done in New Zealand has escaped his notice. I hope the Government will take heed of the situation, and that something of a practical nature will be done to anticipate our future needs in the matter of telephonic and telegraphic facilities in the interior.
– There is a good deal in what Senator Lynch has said as to the advisability of the Government doing all they possibly can, by telephonic communication, to link up remote settlements with the rest of the community. I should like to know just how faT the estimated expenditure on country telephones will meet the requirements of people as disclosed by the applications received. The people who are most anxious to get telephonic or telegraphic communication are those who have been isolated. The district in which they live has not, perhaps, progressed so rapidly as would have been the case had these facilities been provided. The more we encourage land settlement, especially in our out-back districts, the better it will be for the community. Consequently, I should like to see the adoption of some scheme whereby every little settlement would have its telephone. Very often the cost of erecting telephone wires and installing the telephone is prohibitive, when the number of people to be served is taken into consideration; but once the facilities are provided there will be every inducement for an increase in settlement, and thus the difficulty will be overcome. Those who are prepared to take their wives and children back into the bush 10, 15, or 20 miles from .the nearest town deserve every possible encouragement. Portion of the substantial profit which the Department anticipate making, from services in the cities and towns might very reasonably be used as a set-off against losses that may be incurred in giving these facilitiesto out-back settlers. I am not referring to my own State particularly, but to the pioneers in any part of Australia. We want our waste lands peopled. This is one way to encourage settlement. I hope the Minister will bear in mind the representations made by Senator Lynch. I am not prepared to indorse all that he said as to a comparison with New Zealand, because we do not know what were the conditions there prior to the expenditure of the sum mentioned by Senator Lynch to provide these facilities for the people of ‘that Dominion.
– No’ question has received greater consideration at the hands of the Government than that of providing improved postal, telegraphic, and telephonic facilities throughout ‘Australia. We are anxious to do all we possibly can in this direction; but we believe that as much as can be spent within the year has been placed on the Estimates. It is not at all easy to procure material, but I hope that we shall have plenty available before long. The Government feel this matter keenly, because we are getting thousandsof requests from all parts of Australia for more telephonic and telegraphic conveniences. Our present difficulties are the outcome of the war. If we can spend the sum placed on the Estimates this year we shall do very well, provided we are able to make adequate arrangements to get plenty of material next -year. The world is getting back to normal conditions again in the matter of supplies of telephone cables and instruments; and I think that about two years should see us out of our difficulties. We cannot do more at present, because we cannot get the material, which, I regret to say, has to be imported.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill read a third time.
Senate adjourned at 9.27 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 30 November 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19211130_senate_8_98/>.