8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Report on War Service Homes.
Senator Buzacott, on behalf of the Public Accounts Committee,presented the Fourth Progress Report of the Committee on operations of the War Service Homes Commission in Queensland.
– I ask the Minister in charge of the administration of the Wheat Pools whether he does not think that the seventh yearly pay-day of the wheat farmer has arrived? Will he say whether the 1915-16 Wheat Pool and succeeding Pools will be cleaned up now, or some time before the Armageddon!
– The 1915-16 Pool was cleaned up several weeks ago, so far as the Australian Wheat Board’s connexion with the Pool is concerned. We made our allotments to the States, and they have to clean up local supplies. I understand that in Western Australia the local authorities have cleaned up the Pool, and have sent on the information to the Australianwheat-growers.
– That has not been made public.
– If so, the local authorities must accept the responsibility. We made public the winding up of the 1915-16 Wheat Pool five week’s ago.
asked the Minister for Repatriation,upon notice -
– The answers are -
Applications from Queensland.
SenatorFOLL asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Cost of Rifles
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
The cost includes the bayonet, scabbard, and all appurtenances. For the present year, the production of the’ Factory has been reduced to 15,000, and, after making allowances for reduction of working hours and increased wages under awards, the cost per rifle is estimated to be £16 4s.
Land for Soldier Settlement
asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Under existing agreements, the Commonwealth is finding money for (a) resumptions, (.6) works incidental to land settlement, and (e) advances for the soldier for working capital. At the recent Conference of Premiers, it was decided that in regard to future settlement the Commonwealth should be responsible only for (c), reverting to the original arrangement under which the States found the land and the Commonwealth the working capital required by the soldier.
Motion (by Senator Russell) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Patent Acts 1903-1900, and for other purposes.
Bill presented, and (on motion by Senator Russell) read a first time.
Bill received from House of Representatives.
– I move -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
In submitting this motion, I wish to intimate to honorable senators t,hat I do not propose to attempt to rush this Bill through. The purpose of the motion is to enable us, if at any time it should be desirable, to pass from one stage of the Bill to another on the same day.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill (on motion by Senator E. D. Millen) read a first time.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 2nd December, vide page 13549) :
Whenever a. vacancy occurs in any office other than in the First Division, and it is expedient to fill that vacancy by the transfer or promotion of an officer, the Permanent Head may, subject to the provisions of this Act, transfer or promote an officer of his Department to fill such vacancy, consideration being given first to the relative efficiency, and in the event of an equality of efficiency of two or more officers, then to the relative seniority of the officers of that Department.
Upon which Senator Payne had moved, by way of amendment -
That the words “ Permanent Head “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “Board”.
– I am quite prepared to have a test vote taken on the question of deleting the words “ permanent head,” with a view to substituting the word “ Board.” I have already urged the desirability of making the Bill as effective as possible in the interests, not .only ofl the Public Service, but of the Commonwealth. I have endeavoured to point out that, as we contemplate under this Bill the appointment of a Board in lieu of a Commissioner, our object is to increase the efficiency of the Department and the Public Service generally. The Board’s powers will be very extensive; in fact, it is to be held responsible for bringing about reforms, wherever found necessary for the effective working of the Service, and with a view to economy. The question of promotions and transfers is of vital interest to officers. From a perusal of ohe existing law, I find that the head of a Department, or the chief officer, is not given the power which it is proposed to give him under the Bill. The present Act provides that whenever a vacancy occurs, and it is expedient to fill it by the promotion of an officer, the Governor-General may, on the recommendation of the Commissioner, fill such vacancy; but it is now proposed to appoint a Board to carry out the functions hitherto performed by the Commissioner, and it seems a retrograde step to give the permanent head or chief officer power to fill vacancies from his own Department. My object is to give a wider choice, so that an officer from another Department may be appointed if he is more suitable for a particular position.
– That is what the Bill provides.
– No. This clause provides that the permanent head may promote an officer of his own Department, while no opportunity may be given to officers of other Departments who may be able to fill the position more satisfactorily.
– Any aggrieved officer has the right to appeal.
– That is so. But an officer who has received an appointment, even if the appointment is only provisional, has an advantage over other officers in the Service. I have not heard the Minister (Senator Russell) give any reason why it is proposed to alter the existing practice. Some reference has been made to the difficulty of filling vacancies in towns far removed from the central government, but that difficulty could be got over. I would not press this matter as I am pressing it if I did not feel convinced that throughout the Service- there is a strong feeling against the proposed alteration. It has been pointed out to me that it is not fair to handicap officers who may have special qualifications for filling a vacancy.
– Officers had no right to appeal under the old Act. The Commissioner’s decision is final.
– The Minister gave the Committee clearly to understand that the High Council of the Public Service Association was satisfied with this clause. I received information from an officer of the Association, soon after that assurance was given, to the effect that the Minister’s statement -was not correct.’ I have taken the trouble to make further inquiries, and I am assured that members of the Service are opposed to the alteration./ They claim that more efficiency will be obtained if the Board, instead of the permanent head of a Department, has the power to make appointments. I want to see the Public Service as efficient, as economical, and as useful as possible, and also to see deserving public servants as contented as possible. There will always be malcontents in every business, but on the whole I think we have a loyal staff,, and I desire to insure that every inducement is given to those who enter the Public Service to qualify for higher positions with a knowledge that they will receive the promotion to which they are entitled. The clause really proposes io clip the wings of the Board by providing that it shall not have the same powers as the Commissioner has had hitherto. A letter which I received this morning states -
No reason has been advanced by the Government for the drastic alteration in the present system of Public Service control. Clause 48 represents probably a most fundamental alteration to the old Act, and one would imagine that strong reasons would be advanced for its inclusion in the Bill before the Senate, and these reasons have not been given.
I am not going to press the matter any farther at this stage. I have said what I have to say upon it. I think the Com.mittee will be acting unwisely if it passes the clause as it is printed.
Senator RUSSELL (Victoria- Vice-
President of the Executive Council) [11.26]. - I do not think that Senator Payne has been quite fair to me in saying that I stated no reasons for the proposed change. I dealt with the matter on two occasions, and quoted Mr. McLachlan, ex-Public Service Commissioner, a.t some length. At the risk of being accused of repetition, I will read Mr. McLachlan’s opinion again. He said -
The Public Service extends over six States, with a Public Service Inspector and Chief Officers in each State; consequently, in order that a uniform practice might be followed in the filling of vacancies by promotion, it was necessary to deal with the matter by regulation. Briefly stated, the regulations provide for the following procedure: - Vacancies are divided into two classes - (1) those for which it is desirable to invite applications by notification in the Gazette, and (2) those which may be filled without advertising. In the case of’ an advertised vacancy, two weeks’ notice is usually given, and upon receipt of applications the Public Service Inspector confers with the Chief Officer. After conference, the Inspector and Chief Officer submit separate reports to the Commissioner, the Chief Officer forwarding his report through the permanent head. Upon these reports the Commissioner makes his recommendation to the Governor-General, such recommendation being transmitted through the Minister of the Department concerned. The Governor-General’s approval is conveyed through the customary channels back to the Department, when the promotion is gazetted. In regard to non-advertised vacancies, the procedure is similar, excepting that consideration is not limited to the claims of applicants as in the other cases. The time and labour involved in this complicated and circuitous procedure is evident, and, although efforts have been made to shorten the process by delegation of authority in certain classes of cases to Inspectors and Chief Officers, nothing less than an amendment of the law will suffice to place the matter on a proper footing.
The provisions of the law requiring a report from the permanent head or Chief Officer, recommendation by the Commissioner, and approval by the Governor-General, were designed, no doubt, as safeguards against unfair discrimination in the selection of officers for promotion, but in the application of these provisions excessive delays have occurred in filling vacant positions, and consequent expense and inconvenience to Departments because of the necessity of making temporary arrangements pending the permanent promotion of officers. It is not unusual for months to elapse between the notification of a vacancy and the filling of the position, and in cases where the vacant office is in the higher grades of the Service, the consequential changes following upon the initial promotion can only be made long after the occurrence of the original vacancy, with hampering effects upon Departments which call for rectification. The time and attention of Public “Service Inspectors, especially in the larger States, are absorbed in dealing with promotions and transfers of officers to such an extent as to militate seriously against their usefulness in other directions, particularly in regard ‘to the general organization of Departments and the disposition of offices and officers to insure efficient and economical management. If Inspectors were relieved of the responsibility of advising on staff changes involving promotions and transfers, more beneficial results would accrue from the exercise of their inspectorial functions, which are highly important and far-reaching in relation to successful administration of the Public Service Act.
That is a condemnation of the old system, under which the inspector and the head of the Department conferred. In that case there was no appeal. Senator Payne was rather unfortunate in his suggestion that an officer of another Department, having superior qualifications would, under this clause, have no opportunity of appointment to a vacancy. There will be a full period of six months within which any aggrieved officer may prosecute his appeal. If successful the officer appointed provisionally will be displaced.
– Does it not appear to the Minister that the method proposed is, rather circuitous?
– No. Under the present system there is a conference between an inspector and the head of a Department, a recommendation is made to the Commissioner, the Commissioner transmits it to the Minister and the Minister to the Governor-General. If that is not a circuitous method I should like to know what is. The Economies Commission pointed out that heads of the Departments concerned ought to be consulted in the filling of vacancies, because they should be in a position to make a sound recommendation. It is quite true, as Senator Payne has said, that a brilliant officer in some other Department may be overlooked, but this clause provides a remedy against any bias which may be shown by the head of a Department in favour of officers under his immediate observation. I am not bound to the exact wording of the clause, but, unless I am persuaded that it can be altered with advantage I shall not accept any amendment.
– The clause as it stands provides that whenever a vacancy occurs in any office, in other than the First Division, and it is considered expedient to fill the vacancy by the promotion of an officer, the permanent head - as originally drafted it was “i chief officer” - may, subject to the provisions of the Act, promote an officer of his Department to fill the vacancy. With the words “ chief officer “ in place of “ permanent head “ the clause was bad enough. Now it is infinitely worse. First of all the tendency and effect of the clause will be to make every Department watertight. In other words promotion in a Department will be from officers within the Department itself. The Government, the Service, and the public will not, in practice, get the advantage of ability outside the Department. I am thoroughly convinced of that, ° because it is provided that if a vacancy occurs the permanent head shall provisionally appoint some one to the position. The chief officer who, under the clause as originally drafted, would have exercised this authority, is defined thus - “Chief officer” means the chief officer in a State, or part of the Commonwealth, of the Department in connexion with which, or wherein is’ employed, any officer in connexion with whom, the term is used or is applicable.
That is to say, the chief officer of the Postal Department would be the Deputy Postmaster-General of the State in which the vacancy occurred, and in the Customs Department he would be the SubCollector of Customs for that particular State. As the Bill came to us, when a vacancy occurred in the Postal Department the Deputy Postmaster-General had the power to appoint some one provisionally to the position. Under the clause as amended any such appointment will be made by the Secretary to the Central Administration in Melbourne, and from my experience all of these Central Administrations want breathed through them constantly a knowledge of what is being done outside Melbourne. The permanent head of a Department is probably the most incompetent officer that could have been selected for the purpose of making promotions or filling vacancies in the Department from outside. What has been the experience hitherto as to the filling of any vacancy in connexion with Central Administration t “What earthly hope has a competent, efficient, industrious and intelligent officer, if he is not in the immediate environrnent ? Practically none. He may show his efficiency, ability and industry in some distant part of the Commonwealth, but what recognition does he get from the “ brass hats” of the Centra] Administration ?
– He is not near enough to the throne.
– That is so. Every week and every day reveals that those who are around the immediate Ministerial circle, and close up to the officers of the Central Administration get all the “plums.”
– That is causing a lot of trouble in the Defence Department.
– I know it is. Let me refer to a case which occurred quite recently. In Tasmania an officer who had been Sub-Collector of Customs for many years died, and his position was filled by an outsider. There were men in the service of the Customs Department of the Commonwealth and of Tasmania before Federation, but what recognition did they receive when a new sub-collector was appointed. I do not know of any of them personally, so I am not speaking with a knowledge of their qualifications, but what recognition did they receive when the position had to be filled? The Central Administration appointed a person known to them. When there is a “plum,” it is given to some officer from Melbourne, and the unsatisfactory position in Tasmania applies with equal force to “Western Australia, to Queensland, and some of the other States.When any of the higher positions become vacant, an officer in close touch with the Central Administration is invariably appointed.
– Is the honorable senator prepared to say that in the case to which he has referred the beet man was not appointed?
– I do not say that; but if we look through the list of appointments in the Customs Department particularly, it will be found that invariably the officers appointed to important positions in the other States have really acquired no experience in those States. I am not prepared to enter into a discussion concerning the merits or otherwise of the persons appointed, and the qualifications of those who have had experience in other States, and who were not appointed. I know none of the men who were appointed, or who might have received promotion, but that is the position as I see it. To invest the permanent head of a Department with power to make provisional promotions in States of which he has no direct knowledge and with which he is not in personal contact is a wrong principle.
– A provisional appointment is a step to a permanent one.
– Undoubtedly. The Minister (Senator Russell) has quoted from the report of the ex-Public Service Commissioner on the matter, but I do not think that the remarks read by the honorable gentleman are relevant to this clause. I am certain that Mr. McLachlan did not make that statement with this clause before him. He has, of course, pointed out the circuitous method adopted under the existing Act in connexion with appointments and the filling of vacancies by promotion, but everything the ex-Public Service Commissioner said on that point will apply with equal, if not with greater, force to the proposal now before the Committee. This method is just as circuitous, as it provides that the permanent head may, subject to the provisions of this Act, promote an officer of his Department to fill a vacancy. It goes on to provide that the appointment shall be only a provisional one, and the Minister with a fine display of generosity endeavoured to explain that it will be open for any officer in any other Department who considers himself fit to fill the position to appeal within six months. It is an excellent idea to give an officer the right to appeal, but how often would one do it? If he did, would he be successful? The utter absence of any hope of success would prevent him exercising his right. I know that when an officer in a Department has received promotion, and an officer decides to appeal, say, from an outside State, on the ground of greater efficiency, that he has little prospects of success.
– He would be asked whyhewas “ butting “ in.
– Exactly. I do not care a snap of the fingers for the rights of appeal given under this clause. I would advise an officer outside the immediate influence of the Central Administration not to appeal even if he were# ten times more efficient than the officer appointed.
– But the Bill gives him that right.
– Of course it does. But we “ can call spirits from the vasty deep” ; they would not come. And although an officer might appeal, it would be of little use.
– It depends on where he is.
– Does it? The Minister has referred to an officer who was transferred from one Central Department to another. I have nothing to say against him because he is a capable man, and was an officer under me when I was a Minister. I think I was one of the earliest who recognised his ability and capacity, and gave him duties apart from those ho. was then performing. But. what of the other officer who might have been promoted? I have nothing to say concerning his experience, ability or capacity, but a great many were surprised when he did not receive the appointment. I shall give another instance of what is gained by being within hearing of the officers of the Central Administration. Some years ago when I was a Minister, an officer in -New South Wales whose work seemed to me to be extraordinarily good was brought under my notice. I had never met the man, but took an early opportunity of interviewing him. One of our most important officers in Melbourne had to leave - in fart I insisted upon his going after what I had been informed by his medical adviser, and I brought this officer from Sydney to fill his place. I sent a man from Western Australia to fill the position occupied by the Sydney man. The Western Australian would never have come under the notice of the Central Administration but for that temporary transfer. But, later, when I had brought the Sydney officer to take the place of the one in Melbourne my colleagues became scared, and were very apprehensive of the result, because this officer was unknown to them. I assured them that he “ would fill the bill,” and even mare. Same said, “ Well, it may be the ‘ funeral ‘ of the lot of us, but it is primarily yours.” I said “ All right, I shall take the full responsibility.” That officer came to Melbourne and I do not think he ever left here. He rose to the highest positions in the Commonwealth Service, and if it had not been for that temporary transfer from Sydney to the Central Administration he would probably have remained in that city until this day. His worth was brought under the notice of the Cabinet of the day and of successive Cabinets, and his outstanding abilities, which I early recognised, displayed themselves to his advantage and to the benefit of the Commonwealth.
– Is that not an argument in favour of leaving such appointments to the discretion of the Minister ?
– No, because. for the most part, the Minister only sees those around him. That is why I want the Board, the members of which will have a general knowledge of Australia to take into consideration the merits and efficiency of officers throughout Australia, and not only those in the Central Administration.
– The honorable senator exercised his Ministerial prerogative in bringing that officer from Sydney.
– Yes, it was a temporary filling of a position; and I may add that I do not remember having heard one word of adverse criticism concerning the capacities1 of that officer ever after his transfer from Sydney.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I was considerably interested in the observations of Senator Keating, but I am anxious to learn to what extent the Board, unless it delegates its powers, will be ‘an improvement upon a permanent head. I ha,ve known of many complaints by officers concerning the manner in which they have been overlooked, especially in .’the Defence Department. They have given faithful service for many years, and have had to remain without hope of promotion on account of the fact that the Central Administration, on St. Kilda-road, has known only those established in Victoria. All the other parts of tha Commonwealth - excepting, perhaps, Queensland, for the reason that numbers of the leading lights at Headquarters have coane from that Stake - have been ignored. Men have been “ turned down’” or superseded time after time, although they have proved themselves able, professional soldiers. Their misfortune has been that they have not been able to get into official touch with the “heads “ or into social contact with their personal circles. I know of a man. who ‘had served in Tasmania for nearly twenty years. He was a staff sergeant-major, and he lost an eye during the course of operations in a bombing school in that State. After medical examination, he was. notified that he must retire from, the Service. He came to Melbourne and chanced to meet, socially, the Chief Medical Officer in the Defence Services. When he had made himself known he said, in a laughing way, “I am the man whom you kicked out in Tasmania, because I had lost an eye in a bombing school.” That personal reference, and the fact of coming into immediate touch, interested the Chief Medical Officer; and, eventually, the Tasmanian was made a temporary lieutenant. It was not long before his outstanding ability became recognised. He could not be accepted for active service on account of his disability, but he performed strenuous work at Headquarters. For several months he was doing the duties of two colonels, three majors, and several lesser officers. He was placed in charge of a multiplicity of activities, including the secretaryship of the Supply and Tender Board and the Remount Section, and he also acted as D:Q.M.G. I repeat that, but for the fortunate accident of the social .meeting, following upon the unfortunate incident of the loss of his eye and of his dismissal, that man might still have been a staff sergeant-major in Tasmania. Men in any branch of the Public Service who are holding office in distant parts, or in States which have not much “ pull “ at Head-quarters, have but a dog’s chance of getting on. I want to know, however, how the Board may be expected to serve any more satisfactorily. If the Board delegates its powers to a Deputy PostmasterGeneral or to a Sub-Collector of Customs, the same old principle must be followed. It will be the recommendation of the chief officer in the State concerned which will be accepted by the Board.
– Why assume that?
– The Board will be bound to delegate its authority. References in the Bill to ‘ ‘ chief officer “ have been left out at the behest of the Minister (Senator Russell) and the words “permanent head” have been inserted.
– That has been done in order to give the Central Administration a grip upon everything.
– Nothing of the kind. There are no party or personal interests about this measure. I have asked the Committee to offer suggestions for practical improvements.
– If .Senator Payne’s amendment is agreed to, so that the Board is given direct authority in place of the permanent head, the Board - since it will also have its head-quarters at the Seat of Government - must, of necessity, delegate its authority in relation to distant appointments. It must receive a recommendation from someone in charge in the distant State where a position is to be filled. The Board itself would have no more personal knowledge of distant officers than the permanent head could be expected to possess. If the Board finds it necessary - as it must do - to. delegate its authority, exactly the same condition of affairs will continue as exists to-day. If Senator Payne could show me that, by the substitution of the Board for the permanent head, there would be provided fair and reasonable opportunities of promotion to officers who are far removed from the Central Administration, I would be able to see something in his amendment. The only consideration is that the Board may be in a position to obtain more knowledge than the permanent head concerning distantly placed officers. But, seeing that the latter will have been in control of the Department, no doubt, for a considerable period, is it not far more likely that he should know something more of his officers, in every State, than a newly appointed Board could be expected to know ?
– No; the Board would know as much, and probably more.
– That is a matter of opinion.
– Dissatisfied officers could not very well appeal from the decision of the Board who made an appointment.
– If the Board makes the appointment there will be no appeal from its decision.
– It seems to me that individual officers would then be in a worse position than they are in at present.
– There are about ten permanent heads in the Commonwealth, and it is suggested that the Board, in its individual or collective capacity, will possess more knowledge of the qualifications of officers of the Public Service than will be possessed by the ten permanent heads. I do not think that it will. It is suggested that individual members of the Board will make the round of the States and so acquire a more intimate personal knowledge of officers of the Service than will be possessed by the permanent heads.
– Heads of Departments in Melbourne know very little, if anything, about officers of their Departments in the other States.
– That is the crux of the position. If (honorable senators feel that members of the Board will know more of outside officers than permanent heads of Departments in Melbourne will know of them, I am prepared to support Senator Payne’s proposal.
– I have listened to all that Senators Keating and Foster have said. This is not by any means a party measure. It is a genuine attempt at reform of the conditions of the Public Service, and the best intelligence of the Committee should be devoted to its consideration. Under the Bill a permanent head may fill a vacancy in his Department by the transfer or promotion of an officer of the Department, or he may recommend to the Board that an officer of another Department be promoted to fill the vacancy. Such transfers or promotions are provisional only, and a dissatisfied officer has a right of appeal, but if we give to the Board alone the power to make transfers and appointments dissatisfied officers will have no right of appeal, or only the right to appealfrom Caesar to Caesar. If a right of appeal from a decision of. the Board is given, then the Board will not be the final arbiter. I am not wedded to the terms of the clause, and if a practical scheme can be suggested which will be an improvement upon what is proposed in the Bill, I am willing to consider it. I cannot accept’ the amendment because, in my view, justice will not be done to officers of the Service if this power is given to the Board and its decision is to be final. I am prepared to give sympathetic consideration to a proposal to give a right of appeal from decisions of the Board in these matters. Senator Keating has said that dissatisfied officers would not appeal, and that he would advise them not to do so. He assumes that officers appealing would not receive justice and fair play, and if there is ground for such an assumption, that condition of things should not be tolerated for a moment. In fifteenyears’ experience I have never heard of any exception being taken to the promotion of any officer to the position of head of a Department.
– Still, there may have been more efficient men available.
– We may have our personal likes and dislikes, but I know of no case in which a man has been appointed head of a Department who was not considered suitable for the position. I am anxious to secure the fairest Court of inquiry into all these matters, and it appears to me that to leave them to the final decision of the Board will not overcome our difficulty.
– This clause, dealing with promotions, is veryimportant. There is a general impression that men of very mediocre talent who are close to the throne have their talents magnified out of all proportion to their deserts, and that men at a distance do not have their qualifications brought under review. In well-managed business concerns outside, the heads of sub-departments are frequently transferred for the purpose of coordinating the service and to enable the transferred officers to obtain knowledge and experience of different localities. J think it is unwise that officers should be permanently located at one place. Distance in the matter of promotion never “ lends enchantment to the view,” and left and right we hear the opinion expressed that men are attracted to the Central Office because they know that if they can get to the Central Office their chances of promotion will be sensibly increased.
– Some officers would come to Melbourne at reduced salaries in order to be able to show themselves to the permanent heads.
– They would do so in order to bask in the sunlight, so to speak. We cannot completely alter this condition of things, but if we can hit upon a plan which will lessen the disadvantage under which talent far removed from the Central Office has to labour, we will have done some good. The question raised is whether these matters should be dealt with by the heads of Departments or by the Board, and it is possible that we might overload the Board by giving it too much detail work to do. Even at the risk of overloading the Board, I believe it would be better, since its members would have a wider range of vision than is given to the head of a Department, to place in their hands the selection of officers for promotion.
– Does the honorable senator think that it would be just to the public servants to compel them to appeal to the Board to alter its own decision.
– Why not? It is a common thing to move the same Court for a new trial.
– I think there should be an independent Board of appeal.
-On the face of it it appears to me that the Board, with its wider range of vision, would be the more competent authority to carry out this duty. The head of a Department might act with unconscious bias in favour of some officer placed near him or some particular pet. It will be the duty of the Board to supervise the whole of the Service, and not merely special Departments, and it will be more likely, in the circumstances to give a distant man, possessing exceptional talents, a chance of promotion.
– If all appointments, even of boys, to a Department is left in the hands of the Board, it will find it difficult to carry out the work for which it is specially established.
– I have already mentioned that it is possible to overload the Board with detail duties., and that should certainly be avoided. If a vacancy should occur in the Postal Department, close to the Central Office, and the duty of filling the vacancy is left to the head of the Department, he will not unnaturally confine his attention to officers of the Postal Department alone, whereas the Board would be likely to take into consideration the qualifications of officers in other Departments to fill the vacancy.
– That is not always the case, because we have sent public servants from Victoria to Queensland, Western Australia, and the other States, and there are thousands of them who would like to come back to this State.
– An officer in the back-blocks has very little chance as far as transfers and promotions are concerned. It is unchallengeable that the nearer an officer is to head-quarters the better his chance of promotion.
– There are officers in and around Melbourne who threaten to resign if an attempt is made to send them to outlying districts.
– We are told hy the Minister (Senator Russell) that there is the right of appeal. That right, however, is seldom availed of, because in tho average case there is very little chance of an appeal being successful. It is only in a glaring case, where a person who is totally unfitted for a position has been appointed, that an appeal would be considered worth while. It appears that the only way to give_ officers in outside districts a. chance of promotion according to merit is to leave the matter to the proposed Board. We know what human nature is, and the head of a Department is almost sure to favour one of his own men, although he may believe he is doing right.
– Officers have had no appeal in the past from the decision of the Commissioner; but under the Bill we give the right of appeal to the Board; and the Board’s decision is’ to be final.
– I intend to support the amendment, in the belief that greater justice will be done to officers if the power is vested in the Board.
– I do not see why some provision should not be made for an independent Appeal Board.
– The Government desire the Board to have supreme control of the Service. If advantage is not taker by officers of the opportunity afforded foi appeal, it will be their own fault.
– But there is £ great deal to be . said in favour of my argument that the permanent head is no likely to look outside of his own Depart ment when vacancies are to be filled oi promotions made. Outside officers who may have more ability will be shut out for the time being, at all events.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 51 further consequentially amended, and agreed to.
Clause 53 (as amended) -
– I move-
That in sub-clause (5), paragraph (a), after the word “Commissioners,” the following words be inserted : - “ but shall not, while sitting as Chairman of an Appeal Board, . be subject to direction by any person or authority under this Act.”
That amendment represents practically the . agreement arrived at in this Committee. It provides that whilst a person is serving on the Appeal Board he shall not be under the control of this Act. It is necessary to see that the officer does not suffer by having the time thus occupied recorded against him. If he is a public servant, and is appointed for ten weeks out of fifty-two in the year to do this work, that period will be acknowledged as part of his departmental service.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That in sub-clause (6) the word “ President” (first occurring) be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ Joint House Committee”.
I desire the vote on this amendment to be regarded as a test vote, and if the amendment is agreed to certain consequential amendments will follow. The Committee dealt the other day with the question of giving the right of appeal to officers of Parliament against decisions of the President or the Speaker of another place. In looking through the reports of the debate, I noticed that it was stressed by more than one honorable senator whose attitude in regard to officers of the Senate is hard to determine to-day, that an appeal by an officer should not be an appeal from Caesar to Caesar. The Minister in charge of the Bill (Senator Russell) himself objected a few moments ago, in speaking to an amendment moved by Senator Payne, which sought to substitute “the Board “ for “the permanent head,” that the proposal would amount to appealing from the Board to the Board. He reminded honorable senators that in his opinion it was an inherent right ofany British subject to be allowed to appeal, even to His Majesty the King. The proposal put forward, in the Bill is that the appeal shall be made to the President or the Speaker. When this matter was mentioned on another clause the otherday, some honorable senators said it would be impos- sible under the Bill to appeal to the House Committee, and that, if it waa desired to do so, it would be necessary to pass regulations or a schedule to define exactly how the House Committee was to be appointed. It was also said that the House Committee of the Senate had never sat as a separate House Committee, but only as part of the Joint ‘House Committee. I am not concerned with what the House Committee has done or how it is constituted, but I find that our Standing Orders provide ‘that a House Committee consisting of the President and six honorable senators shall be appointed. There is a similar provision for the appointment of a House Committee by another place. I take it that, when. I move for the insertion of the words “ House Committee,” those words refer to the House Committee as provided for under the Standing Orders of the Senate.
– I have drafted an amendment which., I think, will meet the honorable senator’s views.
– I will say what I have to say on the matter; and if Senator Givens moves an amendment, I will withdraw mine, if I think his is satisfactory. We have a House Committee constituted under our own Standing Orders, and we have, recently, heard something regarding the difficulty that we find ourselves in becausewe have no joint standing orders for certain purposes. I have not been able to find any standing order of either the Senate or the other place that makes any provision for the appointment of joint Committees. That is, probably, a position created by precedent, but we would be perfectly right in adhering to our own Standing Orders, and in regarding them as being applicable to the words “ House Committee “ in this amendment. Some honorable senators, during the discussion of a previous clause, said it would not be proper for members of the House Committee to be approached by officers of Parliament in regard to complaints. If my amendment is agreed to, the appeals which will come before the House Committee constituted as an Appeal Board will be of the same nature as officers of the Public Service can make to the Appeal Boards provided for them. Trifling complaints would not come before the House Committee, but in cases where an officer was penalized through not being promoted, or by being fined more than £2, he would have the right of appeal. I do not think any further argument is necessary if honorable senators are sincere in what they have said regarding appeals from Caesar to Caesar and the desirability of every man having the right of appeal against what he may regard as an unjust decision.
– I do not think anybody will object to the statement made by Senator Poster, that officers and servants who may have had a penalty imposed upon them should have a right of appeal if they feel that they have been unjustly or harshly dealt with; but the remedy proposed by Senator Foster is not the correct one. Fines are not imposed by the President or Speaker, but by the head of the Department. Therefore, an appeal to the President or Speaker would not be an appeal from Caesar to Caesar. It is only in the case of dismissals, or similar grave punishment, which would be made by the President or Speaker, that the appeal would be from Caesar to Caesar. I do not want to have an appeal from myself to myself, and I am perfectly certain that Mr. Speaker would not desire that either. The general practice in the Public Service is to have an independent Board. Senator Foster’s amendment proposes that the Board shall be a political Board - that is to say, a Committee composed of members of Parliament - who will be subjected to all kinds of wire pulling, and will perhaps not be in a position to give the unbiased decision that such a tribunal ought to give. I would suggest that the sub-clause should be left out altogether, and that provision should be made foran independent Board of Appeal on which the employees themselves would be represented. That would be in conformity with the general practice of the Public Service, and it is, in my opinion, the most desirable way to meet the difficulty. In this Parliament there are five Departments. My proposal is to create an independent Board composed of two heads of Departments, one to be nominated by the President on Speaker, or by the President and Speaker, as the case may be, and another by the officers of the Department to which the appellant belongs ; and an elected representative of the Div ision to which the appellantbelongs. This Board would appointits own chairman, and would hear and deal with appeals. The head of the Department to which the appellant belongs would not be a member of the Board. It would be an entirely independent and thoroughly representative body, and its creation should remove the anomaly of officers appealing to members of Parliament - a right denied to any other member of the Public Service, and which brings in the political ‘element. The amendment has been prepared by the Parliamentary Draftsman. I am informed it will meet the case, and is in accordance with the other provisions of the Bill. As I have said the head of the Department to which the appellant belongs would have nopart in the hearing of an appeal. To permit him to do so would be most improper, because he ‘would be the officer who charged or punished the appellant. If we remit authority to the House Committee to hear appeals, there will be unconscionable delay. Suppose, that after Parliament entered into recess, a dispute arose, the appellant would probably not be able to get a hearing for six or seven months, because members of the House Committee might be absent from Melbourne. And then there is the Hansard Department, with which the House Committee has nothing whatever to do.
– I am prepared at once to withdraw my amendment in favour of that which the honorable senator has just outlined.
– I agree with the honorable senator that it is desirable to have an Appeal Board. I certainly do not want to be the Appeal Board myself. The amendment which I have outlined is in conformity with the practice of the Public Service outside.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I now move -
That sub-clauses (6), (7), and (8) be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following new sub-clauses: - “ (6) Notwithstanding anything contained in subjection (5) of this section, on Appeal Board constituted to hear an appeal by an officer of the Senate or of the House of Representatives, or of both Houses of the Parliament, shall comprise -
the Permanent Head of a Department nominated by the President or Speaker or the’ President and Speaker, as the case may be;
the Permanent Head of a Department nominated by the officers of the Department of the Parliament to which the appellant belongs; and
the elected representative of the Division to which the appellant belongs in the State or part of the State in which he performs his duties:
Provided that the Permanent Head nominated under paragraph (a) or (b) of this subsection shall not be the Permanent Head of the Department to which the appellant belongs.
The members of the Appeal Board constituted in pursuance of the last preceding subsection shall elect one of their number to be Chairman, and any two-members of the Board may exercise all the powers of the Board for investigation and decision. The decision of the Board shall be final.”
– I must say that we are getting on very satisfactorily. I am glad to see that at last the principle for which I have so long contended is to be adopted, and that we are to get away from the system of one-man control. This is a back-down by Senator Givens on this question. Whilst listening to the Minister (Senator Russell) and Senator Lynch, I was wondering how they were going to square their utterances with the amendment of which Senator Foster had given notice. However, things are now beautifully smooth, and everything in the. garden is lovely. The only objection I have to the proposition is that the House Committee is not to be the Board of Appeal ; but, seeing that there is to be an independent Committee, call it by what name you like, it does not matter a great deal after all. I certainly object to Senator Givens speaking as he does regarding political influence, and suggesting that such influence is something vicious and corrupt. I think political influence is not a bit worse than social influence.
– Social influence is much worse.
– I am glad to hear the Minister say that. I know that social influence does play a part in the Public Service outside. I am pleased to know that there is to be an appeal, not from Caesar to Caesar, but to an independent Board.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as further amended, agreed to.
Clause 62 (Deduction of pecuniary penalty from salary) verbally amended, and agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
Clause 65 -
– I move -
That the words “to officers of the Parliament or “, be left out.
The reason for the amendment is that the President and Mr. Speaker have power to grant recreation leave under the regulations framed on their recommendations, and it would be inadvisable to provide for any additional leave. If leave were to be prescribed for officers of Parliament it might lead to great injustice, because after long and strenuous sessions officers of Parliament should naturally be entitled to more leave than would be given under the regulations. The amendment is merely to provide that the work of Parliament shall be carried on, as it has been in the past, and so that a system of “ give and take “ may be adopted.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause also verbally amended and agreed to.
Clause 71 (Public holidays).
– I move -
That the following proviso be added at the end of sub-clause 5 : - “ Provided further that an officer of the Parliament shall not be entitled under this sub-section to payment in respect of work performed on such holiday.”
The Commonwealth Parliament, of course, sits in only one State, and is comprised of representatives from all States, who are sometimes here for long periods at great inconvenience to themselves, and do not always feel disposed to respect State public holidays. The amendment I have moved debars the officers of Parliament from receiving payment for work performed on holidays when Parliament is sitting, because the time is made up to them by extended leave during the recess.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause also verbally amended and agreed to.
Clause 77 (Temporary employment).
– I move -
That the following proviso be added at the end of sub-clause 5: - “Provided that this subsection shall not apply to persons temporarily employed in the Department of the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Parliamentary Library, the Parliamentary Reporting Staff, or in the Joint House Department.”
This is purely a consequential amendment, and brings the clause into line with the other provisions of the Bill.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 96 verbally amended and agreed to.
Second Schedule - (Departments).
– I move -
That the words “ Department of the Joint House Committee” be left out with a view to insert the words “ Joint House Department.”
This is a slight amendment, which is necessary to bring the schedule into line with the provisions of the Bill.
Amendment agreed to.
Second schedule, as amended, agreed to.
Third Schedule consequentially amended and agreed to.
Postponed clause 7 -
Unless otherwise expressly provided, this Act shall not apply to-
A Chairman of an Appeal Board;
The Director of Commerce and Industry;
– I move-
That the words “A Chairman of an Appeal
Board “ be left out.
This amendment arises out of the debate this morning relating to. the Chairman of an Appeal Board being subject to the provisions of the Public Service Act, except at such times as he is dealing with’ cases as Chairman of the Board. This is to be considered in conjunction with the amendment I moved te the effect that he should not be under control when sitting at a Court of. inquiry.
– For the information of the Committee, I may explain that Senator Payne moved for the insertion of the words “ a Chairman of an Appeal Board,” and the Minister’s amendment, if carried, will have the effect of rescinding that amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Russell) agreed to -
That the words “ The Director of Commerce and Industry “ be left. out.
Clause, as further amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with further amendments; reports adopted.
– Following a practice which has grown in this Chamber, and which is of convenience to honorable senators, I made an explanatory statement when the Budget-papers were presented covering the main features of the Budget itself. It will not be necessary to repeat what I then said, but it is incumbent upon me to make some reference to alterations which have been effected in the Budget in another place. First I would remind honorable senators of a few of the outstanding features of the Budget. The general statement made at the time of tabling the Budget and Estimates, on the 11th October, showed, briefly, the Estimates of revenue and expenditure for the year 1921-22, and the financial position of the Commonwealth as at 30th June, 1921. Portion of the Estimates, namely, those relating to works and buildings, have already been considered by the Senate in the shape of the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill 1921-22, and the Loan Appropriation Bill 1921. The alterations made in the Estimates covered by those Bills have already been explained. This Bill is to grant £15,030,765 for the ordinary services of the country. The only alteration made in these Estimates since they were tabled consists of a reduction of £70,000 in the Universal Training vote under the Department of Defence (Military). Including the reduction made in the Works Estimates, the total reductions thus amount to £500,000, and the total estimates of expenditure from revenue consequently show an estimated decrease of £519,629 as compared with the expenditure foT 1920-21. The appropriation proposed to be made by the Bill amounts to £27,391,035, which includes £12,360,270 granted by four previous Supply Bills. The amount proposed to be granted by the Bill includes, in addition to the totals specified in the Estimates, sums under the usual items of Refunds of Revenue amounting to £750,000, and Treasurer’s Advance covering £1,500,000. Under the various headings of the Departments, as they come before honorable senators, in Committee, such detailed information as may be sought will be, wherever possible, supplied. I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clauses 2 and 3 postponed.
First schedule postponed.
Proposed vote, £58,096.
. -There is a matter involved in the proposed vote for the Senate which requires elucidation. Honorable senators will notice that for the first time in many years there is a discrepancy shown between the salaries payable to the Clerk of the Senate and to the Clerk of the House of Representatives. The salary of the Clerk of the Senate is set down at £1,000, the same amount as was voted last year, and for a number of years past. The salary set down for the Clerk of the House of Representatives this year is £1,250, whereas the salary paid that officer last year and for a number of years previously was also £1,000. I may explain that a salary of £1,000 a year as attaching to these positions has been voted since 1913. At that time the present Speaker of the House of Representatives, and I, in a letter dated 27th August, 1913, made the following communication to the Prime Minister : - 27th August, 1913.
The Prime Minister.
We beg to forward herewith an application from the Clerk of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives requesting that their salaries may be raised to £ 1,000 a year.
We have considered this application, and are of opinion that their long services entitle these officers to this advancement in their status, and that it is not fitting that the Clerks of the National Parliament should be rated at a lower salary than the Clerks of the Houses in the two larger States of the Commonwealth.
We, therefore, request that the suggested increases be made in the Estimates for the consideration of Parliament.
We have the honour to be,
Your obedient servants,
Honorable senators will notice that that was a joint representation made by Mr. Speaker and myself. I have at all times considered it desirable and necessary for the maintenance of good feeling, and to secure efficient service, that there should be uniformity in the salaries paid to officers of the Parliament performing similar work. I have made every effort to attain that desirable object. Before the Estimates were sent in. this year, I suggested to Mr. Speaker, and he concurred with my suggestion, that we should have a conference of the heads of all the Departments of the Parliament, to examine the Estimates of those Departments, with a view of seeing that officers rendering the same service and performing similar duties should receive about the same salary. The purpose was to secure harmony and co-ordination. The conference was held, and Estimates, approved by Mr. Speaker and myself, were sent in which contained so far as we could discover no anomaly. Some months ago I learned that Mr. Speaker had made a recommendation that Mr. Gale should be appointed Clerk of the Parliaments, with an increase of’ £250 a year. When the matter was referred to me for my comment, I sent the following letter to tho Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) : -
My dear Prime Minister,
I have to acknowledge receipt of your communication of the 2nd inst., No. 20/385/5 (signed by the Hon. E. J. Russell, on your behalf), covering a Me of papers containing a communication from Mr. Speaker ‘ with reference to the restoration of the position of “ Clerk of the Parliaments” and the elevation of Mr. W. A. Gale, Clerk of the House of Representatives, to that position with increased remuneration.
I was very much astonished to learn that Mr. 1 Speaker had taken upon himself to make such a recommendation, which concerns equally both Houses of the Parliament, without my knowledge or sanction.
I distinctly and emphatically object to the recommendation of Mr. Speaker being adopted by the Government. If any reason at all exists for the appointment of a “Clerk of the Parliaments,” then the officer appointed to that position should be the Clerk of the Senate, because all parliamentary functions or proceedings at which a Clerk of Parliaments would be necessary .take place in the Senate Chamber, and it would be unthinkable that in that Chamber a Clerk of the Lower House should take precedence over the Clerk of the’ Senate, and would create- a position to which I feel certain the Senate would never agree.
This matter was threshed out in 1908 on the retirement of Mr. E. G. Blackmore, who occupied the position of Clerk of the Parlia ments, as well as Clerk of the Senate, from the establishment of Federation until that date; and, in .the course of the discussion which took place between the then President of the Senate, Sir Albert Gould, and the Government, the position was fully set out, and, as shown by Sir Albert Gould (by the quotations in accompanying notes), all the precedents were in favour of the Clerk of the Upper House occupying the position of Clerk of the Parliaments. It was ultimately agreed, at the instance of the Government, that a Clerk of the Parliaments should not be appointed; but it was also agreed, and definitely stated in writing by the representative of the Government (the then VicePresident of the Executive Council), vide letter of 7th September, 1908, “As regards the title ‘ Clerk of the Parliaments,’ if such a titular position is further continued, I personally think the office should be held by the Clerk of the Senate.”
The position is fully set out in the accom-ponying notes, which I have the honour to submit for your consideration.
The file of papers is returned herewith.
President of the Senate.
Acting on that communication, the Government did’ not accede to the recommendation. I had no further information with regard to anything it was proposed to do until the Estimates were tabled. When they were tabled, I saw that not having succeeded in obtaining the position of Clerk of the Parliaments for Mr. Gale, Mr. Speaker had set down in the Estimates the increased salary proposed to be given him as Clerk of the Parliaments. That creates a very grave anomaly. It has always been recognised that the Clerks of both Houses should be equally remunerated, because there is equal responsibility on each. In addition, the officers of the Senate have work to do which officers of the other Houses are not called upon to perform. The officers of the Senate have the very important responsibility of looking after the Refreshment Room, and its accounts, which entails a great deal of labour and responsibility. I have no wish to enter into any controversy on this matter at all. I have merely related the facta, and it is for the Senate to take Such, action as it may think fit to rectify what I consider an anomaly.
– What can we do now?
– There are two courses open to honorable senators. They may request another place to increase the salary to be paid to the Clerk of the Senate sufficiently to make it equal to that voted for the Clerk of the House of Representatives. The other alternative is to do something which would be very invidious, and might create feeling, and that is to request the House of Representatives to reduce the salary which that House has already voted to its Clerk. It is for honorable senators to decide what shall be done. The matter to which I have referred is an example of difficulties which are continually cropping up, and which have made me always anxious to find some method to bring about uniformity of practice and co-ordination of the work of the officers of the Parliament, because there has been continual evidence of a desire on the part of one officer to get ahead of another, or to secure precedence over another instead of working together harmoniously, as they probably would do if uniform emoluments were attached to similar positions.
.- We are indebted to Senator Givens for having put this matter before us, but I should like a little more information to enable me to give what I would consider a fair vote on the question, should a division be found necessary. I desire to know the relative positions of the two officers who have been referred to, so far as seniority is concerned. For instance, I should like to be informed whether, if Mr. Gale has occupied his position as Clerk of the House of Representatives for a longer period than that during which Mr. Monahan has been Clerk of the Senate, that affects their relative positions so far as seniority is concerned.
– The salary undoubtedly fixes the seniority.
– I want to ascertain whether length of service counts for anything in the matter; whether it is a re cognised principle that the status of the two officers is the same, or whether the Clerk of the Senate is in practice regarded as senior to the Clerk of the House of Representatives. I should like further to know whether the discrepancy now indicated between the salaries paid to the two officers will be removed as the years go on by annual increases in the salary of the Clerk of the Senate.
– There is no appreciable difference between the length of service in their present positions of the two officers, and there would have been none at all were it not for action taken by myself. Dur ing a recent debate, much was said about the existence of water-tight compartments in the service of the Parliament, which prevented the transfer or promotion of an officer from one Department to another. I happen to be the only Presiding Officer of the Parliament who ever took an officer from one Department, and promoted him to another. I have regretted doing so ever since I did it, because advantage was taken of my action which I think was unfair and improper, and I will tell honorable senators why. When Mr. Boydell retired as Clerk of the Senate, an application was received from Mr. Duffy, who was then Clerk of the House of Representatives, for the position vacated by Mr. Boydell. After giving the matter full consideration, I granted Mr. Duffy the position. I was influenced largely in doing so by the fact that officers of the Senate had an opportunity of promotion which was not open to officers in another place at the time. I never had any fault whatever to find with Mr. Duffy, and had no complaint to make so far as he was concerned, but in promoting officers of the Senate instead of giving them the maximum salaries of the offices to which they were appointed, at the time of their appointment, I started them at considerably lower salaries, subject to conditions under which they could only attain the maximum by annual increases extending over three years. For instance, Mr. Monahan was then promoted to the position of Clerk Assistant to the Senate, and instead of being paid the full salary of the office - £775 - I appointedhimat £700 with a promise of three rises of £25 per year. But the moment Mr. Duffy was transferred to the Senate other officers in another place secured promotion, and they were immediately paid the maximum salaries of the offices to which they were so promoted. This had the effect of making them senior to men who had. occupied similar positions in the Senate for a longer period. It created an injustice to our officers, and it is another of the reasons why I say that some attempt should be made to find a method of co-ordinating the services of Parliament to prevent this continual endeavour of officers to get ahead of each other. Were it not for the action I took, Mr. Monahan would have been undoubtedly senior by a very long time to officers In another place. A grossly unfair and in- vidious distinction has been made, and honorable senators should make some attempt to find a remedy.
.- I am very pleased to have the information supplied by Senator Givens, though I am sorry that the occasion for it should have arisen. I am very strongly of opinion that there should be no differentiation between the status of the officers, of the two Houses of this Parliament. There is an impression abroad, which I am sure is not entertained by many, that the Senate is not of the same importance in the government of the country as another branch of the Legislature. I want to assure honorable senators that I personally look upon the Senate as equally important with another i place. The question of seniority as between the officers of the two Houses should not enter into the matter. “We should be detached and self-contained. Seniority should influence our decisions when it is a question of seniority between officers of the Senate. So far as the salary proposed for the Clerk of the Senate is concerned, I think that it is a very fair one, and this is no time for the Government or this Committee to propose the payment of extravagant salaries. In the circumstances, objectionable though it will be, I shall be prepared to move a request to the House of Representatives to reduce the .salary of the Clerk of that House by £250. This will not be a pleasing duty, but it is one which I think should be> performed. I do not feel disposed to vote for an increase of £250 in the salary of the Clerk of the Senate, and believing as I do that these two officers should be on an absolute level so far as salary is concerned, I have no option but to adopt the course I have .mentioned.
– I think, with the previous speaker, that the Committee is indebted to “Senator Givens for (having informed us as to what the procedure, since he has been President of the Senate, has been. This may be looked upon as a minor matter, but it must have been impressed upon honorable .senators that there is need for some definite line of procedure, and some co-ordination between the two Houses. There are two systems, apparently, open to us. One is to treat the Senate and
House of Representatives as controlling separate and independent Departments, each Chamber ordering the fortunes of its officials, and the other is to regard the officers of the two Houses as members of a joint Service, in which the service rendered by one set of officers would be remunerated on the same basis as that rendered by the other. It seems to me that what Senator Givens has described indicates that we have in operation neither one system nor the other, and that some injustice is likely to be done to individual officers as well as the country itself. I cannot help thinking that the arrangement which existed before: the present) incident, proved to be reasonably workable, those responsible for the officers in the two Houses conferring with one another. At any rate, there was a working agreement, and, so far as I am aware, there has never been any unfairness to an officer, or any neglect of the interests of the country. If the salaries of officers may be increased, and their seniority raised, on the recommendation of the Speaker alone, one can imagine that the only way to secure justice for the officers of the Senate would be for the President to take similar action. It seems that the President would either have to condone what has been done, or raise the salary of the Clerk of the Senate to an amount which is excessive. The present procedure is impossible.
– Has not the head of a Department in the Public Service got a fixed maximum to which he can attain ?
– This is an effort to raise one maximum without any regard to the corresponding position in the other House.
– Does not the head of a Department in the Public Service usually reach a maximum which is fixed?
– I _think the honorable senator refers to the invariable practice that, when an officer is appointed to a new position, he commences at the lowest rung in that grade. Senator Givens has pointed out that he endeavoured to follow that course, when there was a re-allotment of these parliamentary positions. He invariably placed the incoming officer on the lower grade, so that in two or three years the officer might, by successive steps, reach the maximum. That course, however, has not been followed in another place. Whatever course is adopted, it ought to be adopted in both Houses. It ought not to be possible in either House, owing, it may be, to different views being held, to give benefits to one set of officers which are withheld from officers in the other Chamber. I do not think we should be justified at this juncture in increasing the salary of the officers of this Chamber, but, at the same time, I see very great difficulty in objecting to the proposed increase in the salary of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. There is a very strong tradition that each House should largely control its own affairs. What is needed is not rivalry between the two Houses, but some plan of co-ordination. If we proceed to bring the salary of our Clerk up to that of the Clerk in another place we run the risk, apart from the question of whether we ought, for financial reasons, to grant the increase, of putting one House in competition with the other. Suppose, later on, some Speaker thought an officer in the other House was worthy of a higher salary than the corresponding officer in the Senate, he might increase that officer’s salary. If the Senate proceeded on the same lines, it would be a dangerous course, and one entirely lacking in dignity. I see no immediate way out of the difficulty. Either of the two courses is objectionable, and I regret to say that I cannot offer a suggestion.
– Cannot we convey our opinion to the other House by way of resolution ?
– Resolutions cut very little ice in these matters. If we sent a resolution on, side by side with the fact that we had passed the item, the other House would accept the passage of the item with gratification, and regard the resolution merely with a smile. There is only one way to make the resolution effective, and that is by disturbing the salary. If I could offer the Committee a workable solution I would do ,so, but I cannot. It is a matter that should never have arisen. It should have been settled by a conference. Some effort should have been made to work together.
– There was a preliminary conference, an agreement was arrived at, and an attempt was made to work together.
– It seems a . thousand regrets that the matter was left there, without a further conference being held. Had another conference taken place, and had there been failure then to arrive at an agreement, it would have been a different matter. We are placed in the humiliating position of either shutting our eyes to what has been done, or, in the alternative, of taking a stand on the matter which must bring about some delay in the passage of the Estimates, which is not desirable at this juncture.
– I was hopeful that the Leader of the Senate (Senator E. D. Millen) would be able to offer some suggestion, but, as he has not done so, I intend to submit a motion. The other Chamber claims to be master of the purse in the taxpayers’ interests, and, therefore, the responsibility for raising the salary is on that House. In order that the Clerk of the Senate may not have a status below that of the Clerk of the House of Representatives, I move -
That the House of ‘Representatives be requested to amend the item “ Clerk of the Senate, £1.000,” by making the amount read “£1,250.” ‘
I would never consent to the Clerk of the Senate being placed on a lower plane than the Clerk of the other House. I have done everything possible in the past to bring about that co-ordination which should exist. An agreement was arrived at, and I knew of nothing to disturb it until I received an intimation some few months ago, that it was proposed to elevate Mr. Gale to a superior position, and give him an increase in salary. I did not even hear it whispered that there was any proposal to raise his salary by £250 until I saw the Estimates. I agree with the Minister that it is a most undesirable course to take, but I am forced to adopt it.
– This is too important a matter to be allowed to pass without some comment. I am quite satisfied that if the Committee agree to the motion we shall be as far away from an agreement as we are at present. The more I consider the position of parliamentary officers the more I see room for regret that the original method of dealing with them has been departed from. When the Joint House Committee considered these matters, a great deal of friction and misunderstanding was avoided. The trouble could easily have been overcome if the Joint
House Committee, or if the two Presiding Officers, had been working harmoniously together.
– Did the Joint House Committee ever fix salaries?
– Yes; I can give specific instances, if necessary, of the Joint Committee having fixed salaries; the Library Committee did so only a few months ago. Under the original arrangement there was co-ordination and harmony. Members in the other Chamber think that the Clerk of the House of Representatives should be paid a higher salary, because there are more sitting days in that Chamber, and because he is senior ti the Clerk in the Senate. It would have been an easy matter to have got over this difficulty if the precedent established in the first Parliament, and followed in several subsequent Parliaments, (had been continued. The Clerk of the Parliaments was the Clerk of the Senate. The first Clerk of the Senate was Mr. Blackmore, and of another place Mr. Jenkins. Mr. Jenkins retired, and Mr. Duffy, who was Assistant Clerk in the Senate, became Clerk in the House of Representatives. It was considered that Mr. Blackmore held the senior position, and that condition of affairs prevailed for a long time. If that principle had been continued, and the Clerk of the Senate had always been the senior Clerk of Parliament, the present difficulty would not have arisen. There would have been no friction, and the two Houses could have worked harmoniously if Mr. Gale had been transferred to the Senate, and made Clerk of t’he Parliaments. In that way alone can I see a way out of the present position. I agree with Senator E. D. Millen that if we increase the salary of the Clerk of the Senate by £250 a year, there’ will still be no finality. Senator Givens’ requested amendment will not bring us any nearer to’ a settlement of the matter. I would prefer, rather, to take the stronger and more drastic action suggested by Senator Earle.
– It would be all right for the officials of the Senate if our dignity was worth another £250 to them.
– I have no objection to the extra £250 being granted provided it is given all round, but to hand it to one official only would be wrong. There is, in the Senate, another official who has been sitting at the Hansard table for many years, who ought to be in a higher position nhan that which he occupies to-day. If we increase the pay of the Clerk and ignore the other officials, we shall be extending the injustice. Something must be done. It may be unpleasant to have a collision with the other place, but I see no other way out of the difficulty but to reduce the salary of the Clerk of the House of Representatives to the level of that of the Clerk of the Senate. I admit that Mr. Monahan’s .experience is short by comparison with that of Mr. Gale, but he, no doubt, considers that he ought to be regarded as of the same seniority, and entitled to the same salary.
– I have, I suppose, like other honorable senators, been trying to do a little thinking whilst this, debate has been proceeding to see if I could not, in some way or other, remedy the omission to which I pleaded guilty just now when I said that I was unable to offer a suggestion. I do not know that I am any nearer being able to offer a workable suggestion now than I was before, but I am going to take the responsibility of offering one. The request that has been moved does not seem to me to carry us anywhere. The intention of the honorable senator who moved it was that the salary of the Clerk of this Chamber should be increased, and the salary attaching to the similar position in the other House should not be touched. If the other House rejects that proposed increase, we cannot then go back to the question of the salary of the Clerk of the House of Representatives, to which we will have committed ourselves. On the other hand, if we pass the salary of the Clerk of this Chamber as it stands on the Estimates, at £1,000 a year, and reduce the salary attaching to the corresponding position in the other place, and it comes back again to us, we cannot then revert to the question of the salary of the Clerk of this Chamber, and say we will raise it. In that event, the only thing open for discussion would be the salary attaching to the Clerkship of the other House. If we are anxious to arrive at some mutual understanding as to how this position should be dealt with, we ought to seek to keep both these items open and available; for discussion. ‘That means we must propose some amendment of each of them. Only in that way can we insure an interchange of messages between the two Houses on both items. I suggest that some increase should be proposed in the salary of the Clerk of the Senate, say, to £1,125, and that a request should be made for a reduction in the salary of the corresponding position in the other House to £1,125. That would leave both positions open, for discussion between the two Houses. If we assent to one of . those two salaries we cannot go back to it in any discussion that may ensue. I make the suggestion so that if it is thought desirable we can seek an interchange of views with the other House with a view to devising a better system than the present one. I hope it will be understood that the Committee discusses these items in the spirit that the salaries have no relation at all to the officials in the two positions. I hardly feel that I should be justified in agreeing to any alteration of the Estimates as submitted by the Government, and I express the hope that my suggestion, or some improvement of it, will be adopted.
– If Senator Earle is willing to accept that suggestion, I am prepared to withdraw my request.
.- ;I do not know whether the Committee is willing to accept that suggestion; but I am not. The proposed requested amendment is either right or it is wrong. The other place is either justified in making an increase of £’250 in the salary of their Clerk, or they are not justified. It does not appear to me to be a case in which we should indulge in technicalities with a view, if the other Chamber does not do what we believe to be right, to checkmate their claim to superiority by increasing the salary of our own Clerk and doing another wrong to the taxpayers. I would very much like to see the salaries of everybody increased in the - proportion of £250 a year. It would be quite a pleasant task for me to move it; but the taxpayer also has a say in the matter. We are handling, not our own money, but that of the people. Therefore, we have to see that we do not grant higher salaries than are commensurate with the services rendered’ to the people. I hold that the Clerk of either branch of this Legislature is adequately paid at ,£1,000 a year. I do not feel that either branch of the
Legislature is justified in increasing the salary . by 25 per cent., and I doi not think this Committee will be justified in agreeing, to the proposal or in making provision to increase the salary «f the Clerk of the Senate should the House of Representatives refuse to do what is right.
– I have not suggested that. I have merely suggested that we should keep the two items open for discussion.
– Quite so; but what is the object? The suggestion is that we shall request the House of Representatives to increase the item of £1,000 for the Clerk of the Senate by £125, and that when we come to the vote for the Clerk of the House of Representatives we shall request that they reduce the item of £1,250 to £1,125. The House of Representatives will immediately see the idea. They are intent upon the increase being granted to their own officer, and they will refuse the Senate’s request point blank. What can we dc then 1 Will we then move that the salary of the Clerk of the Senate be increased from £1,125 to £1,250? The members of another place will very quickly realize what the object of that move is. That kind of tactics, although legal, is not desirable. We ought to take a strong stand. If it is right ‘that the Clerk of the House of Representatives should have £250 increase in his salary, let us pass it. If it is wrong, let us make a request that the amount be reduced. Unpleasant as the task is, I shall move later that the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the amount by £250.
– No doubt we have got into somewhat of a tangle; but it is none of the Senate’s making. It is well to recognise that. The suggestion made by the Minister in charge of the Bill (Senator E. D. Millen) is a very ingenious one, but I am afraid that it, also, has its defects. It ‘ proposes to increase the salary of the Clerk of this Chamber, and to commit ourselves to a course of action which we will have to stand by later on. If the Committee increases the salary it will pet away from what I assume is the considered policy of the Senate. It will commit itself to the opinion, for the sake of putting itself right in a situation that may arise afterwards, that the Clerk of the Senate is at present underpaid. On the other hand, if it proposes’ to alter tie remuneration of the official of another place, it will also commit itself to a very definite stand. Senator Earle proposes to say, quite frankly and respectfully, that the proposed increase in the salary of the Clerk of the other place is not appropriate, and is not in keeping with the condition of things that ought to exist between the two Chambers. Senator Earle’s proposal may appear to be somewhat of a bludgeon, containing a stand and deliver threat. But it is not so. I do not know that it is subject to that interpretation, for the simple reason that when the Estimates emerged from the other House, and the lower amount was recognised as suitable for the official of this Chamber, the suggestion was that this Chamber was inferior to the other in so ° far as the figures could suggest. We do not say that either House is inferior to the other, as typified by the remuneration of its officials. We desire to say that we consider ourselves, by the Constitution, as a co-equal and co-ordinate branch of the Legislature. I do not think we are entirely guiltless in this matter, because I have a recollection that officers of this Chamber were at one time remunerated at a higher figure than the officers of another place. I remember a figure of £900 being set down on one occasion for the Clerk of another place, and £1,000 for the Clerk of the Senate. Now the tables have been turned. Senator Earle’s proposition should ‘ be adopted as a clear indication to another place that, while we do not consider this Chamber superior, we do not regard it as inferior. We have been told by the President that the duties devolving on the Clerk in another place are onerous, but he has assistance. Although numerically the House of Representatives is the larger Chamber, and perhaps the duties of the principal officer there are greater, he is provided with assistants, so the position is about balanced. He is not called upon to perform any more work than is the Clerk of this Chamber. As this Chamber is to be judged as much by the remuneration of its members and officers as by anything else, I do not think we are justified in allowing the two items to pass in this lop-sided fashion; therefore, I will support Senator Earle in a respectful request to another place to reduce the salary of the Clerk there to the level of the salary paid to the Clerk in this Chamber.
.- While the Minister’s suggestion has much to recommend it, I intend to support Senator Earle. In my judgment, £1,000 a year is a very fair salary to pay to the Clerk of this Chamber or another place. Judging from the remarks of honorable senators, there is a belief that the House of Representatives is more or less antagonistic towards the Senate. I do not subscribe to that view at all. We know quite well that many item9 in Supply Bills are not individually scrutinized, and it is passible that this item was not brought under the personal notice of members in another place. I take it that the Government are to some extent to blame for this additional vote of £250 for the Clerk of the House of ‘Representatives.
– This is not a Government Department. Parliament settles this matter.
– As a result of the demand for economy elsewhere leading to a reduction in the Estimates, many returned soldiers have been thrown out of employment, but not one voice was raised against this increase of £250 for the Clerk of the House of Representatives, who already receives a very substantial salary.
– Where was. the Country party then?
– Yes. Where were these advocates of economy in another place when this item ‘came under consideration ? They were prepared to sacrifice returned soldiers, but evidently did not protest against this increase. I am confident that members of another place are not antagonistic towards the Senate. Last evening I. listened to quite a number of stirring speeches in that chamber commending the action of the Senate towards the Tariff. Is it not possible for the Joint House Committee to make some recommendation in regard to this matter, or is it not possible for two or three members of the Senate and another place to discuss these points of difference, and recommend a solution? I regret that I am unable to support the Minister’s suggestion, because we may find . a future Speaker putting £500 on to the salary of the Clerk of the House of Representatives in the expectation that there will be some such compromise as the Minister now suggests. Our best course is to request another place to reduce the salary of their Clerk to the former amount.
– It is regrettable that this discrimination appears in the Bill. I should like to know whether the President had an opportunity of discussing this matter with the Speaker, as I take it that the Speaker framed his Estimates, and that the President was responsible for the Estimates for this Chamber. My memory carries me back to the original Estimates, in which Mr. Blackmore, the first Clerk in this Chamber, was designated “ Clerk of the Parliaments,” and held a senior position. Later, Mr. Boydell became Clerk of the Senate, and he was succeeded by Mr. Duffy.
– But there has been no Clerk of the Parliaments since 1908.
– I am aware of that. Mr. Blackmore was a man of outstanding ability, and wherever British parliamentary institutions exist, he was a recognised authority in his particular work.His contributions to parliamentary law and lore were both valued, and not infrequent, and it was thought desirable that he should occupy some such position, and be regarded as the senior officer in the Federal Parliament. If we tacitly acquiesce in this discrimination now, we do not know where it is going to lead us. If the Speaker of another place considers, as evidently he does, that the work done by the Clerk of the House of Representatives is greater, and of more importance, than the work done by the Clerk of the Senate, some future Speaker may think there should be a, much greater margin, as represented by the salary, between the importance and volume of the work in the respective Houses. I do not feel disposed to take any course that involves such a possibility, and, seeing that the President, in framing his Estimates, did not think it necessary to increase the salary of the Clerk in this Chamber over the amount paid last year, we should be a little hesitant about talcing the course suggested by the Minister.
– I hope you quite understand that my suggestion was made merely to keep the item open with a view to arriving at some co-ordinated plan.
– I understand the Minister’s object, but the House of Representatives may take it for granted that we do not object, and say, “Very well, we will boost up the Clerk of the Senate £125, and put ours up too.”
That would settle the present difficulty, certainly; but as the President did not think fitto recommend any increase under this item in his Estimates, we would be well advised not to make the request indicated by the Minister. We should adhere to the other course, and ask the House of Representatives to take off the additional £250 voted to the salary of the Clerk of their Chamber. I am very well aware that there may be a disposition on the part of some people to consider the Senate as perhaps not doing as much work as the House of Representatives, and that the position of Clerk here does not involve so much responsibility or work as that of Clerk of another place, but, as has been pointed out already, the staff on the Senate side is not as large as the staff of another place.
– There is a difference of nearly £2,000 in the expenditure.
– Yes. The staff there is supposed to be equal to the increased work involved in the larger number of members, and the consequeut more frequent sittings. But if honorable members in another place contributed as much in debate in proportion to the difference in the number of members in this Chamber, they would at least sit a little more than twice as often and twice as long, as we do. Although they have, in consequence of their longer and more frequent sittings, a larger staff than is supposed to be commensurate with the difference between the two Houses, the responsibilities of the Clerk in the Senate are as great as the responsibilities of the Clerk in another place. For these reasons, I see no justification whatever for any difference in the salaries. I commend the object the Minister has in view in making the suggestion, but as I am rather doubtful that it will achieve the end which he desires, I shall be prepared to support the request that the House of Representatives bring1 the two items into line as they were last year, when such vote stood at £1,000.
– Senator Keating asked for some information on this matter, but. I fully explained the position at the commencement of the discussion.
– I was called out of the chamber at the time.
– Before our Estimates were sent in, I was fully impressed, as I have always been, with the desirable- nesa of co-ordinating the Departments, and the necessity for some uniformity ‘ in relation to the salaries of the officers in the five different Departments. “With that in view, I suggested to Mr. Speaker that there should be some agreement in connexion with; the Estimates, and that the heads of Departments should perusethe proposed figures in order to rectify or bring into harmony any anomalies that might exist. After that examination, had been made, and we had arrived at what we considered was fair, the Estimates were sent in, and those for the Senate were in the form in which they now appear before the Committee, with the exception of those in relation to the Hansard staff. During this year I found that it had been recommended by Mr. Speaker that Mr. Gale should be made Clerk of the Parliaments with an increase of £250 a year. In response to my representations, the Government did not accede to the request, and I thought the matter had ended, because I. knew nothing about the additional payment to Mr. Gale until the Estimates were tabled.
– Is that not an indication of sharp practice ?
– I would not suggest that, or that there had been a, controversy between the two Houses. I am merely relating the facts, and the Committee, if it does not accept the remedy I have suggested, must be prepared to say what course shall be adopted.
.- I did not understand from, the remarks of the President whether the Clerk of the House of Representatives has been appointed Clerk of the Parliaments.
– No; the Government refused to doi that.
– In New South Wales, it will be found from a perusal of their Estimates that the Clerk of the Legislative Council, corresponding, of course, to our Senate, is described as the Clerk of the Parliaments, but he receives only £740, while the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly receives £900 per annum. It may be claimed by Mr. Speaker that he has a right to appoint” tho Clerk in that chamber Clerk of the Parliaments because he has more work to do, and that, in consequence, he should also receive a higher salary. The New South Wales Parliament is the oldest in the Commonwealth, and we should, I think, be guided by what it does.
– But the Legislative Council there is a nominee House.
– I do not think that has anything to do with it. The sittings are not to be compared with the sittings of the Senate, and I suppose we do not sit as long as honorable members in another place.
– And’ our staff is not so large.
– A Legislative Council has less work than a Legislative Assembly, and we have less than the House of Representatives.
– And we have fewer men to do it.
– I am totally opposed to any increase in the salaries of the Clerks. I would rather have seen a’ move made in the direction of improving the position of those who are on the “ bread-and-butter line.” I trust that as far as this Chamber is concerned we shall, with the assistance of our Presiding Officer, show that we are not going to quietly submit to the Clerk of the House of Representatives being appointed Clerk of the Parliaments, because by doing such a thing we would not be acting fairly to our own Clerk, or adding to the dignity of the Senate.
– As we are likely to be expected by another place to give some reasons why we should take the action suggested, I desire to draw attention to the number of clerical workers in the two Houses. We find that in another place, which undoubtedly sits longer than we do, there are ten clerical workers, as against five in this Chamber. It will be seen that no move has been made in the direction of giving those officers a higher salary than those performing similar work in this branch of the Legislature. The Clerk of the Senate, having a smaller staff, must necessarily have more questions submitted to him, and, as he has less assistance, his work must be consequently heavier. I can only see one way out of the difficulty, and that is that the Clerk holding the senior position should be made Clerk of the Senate, and his length of service would thus be recognised.
– I think the number of clerical officers in another place is eight, and not ten.
– Yes, I find that one office has been abolished, and the numbers are as stated. In view of all these circumstances, the salary should be allowed to remain at what it has stood for some time.
, - The officers who act as Clerk Assistants in each House have the same salary. The Serjeant-at-Arms in another place and the Usher of the Black Rod in this Chamber receive a similar amount, but when it comes to the senior officer it would appear from the schedule that the Clerk in another place is rated at more than the Clerk in this Chamber.
– If the Clerk in another place is granted an increase, the others will apply for extra remuneration.
– I am not dealing with that. The ‘position seems to be perfectly clear. The Clerk of the Senate holds a certain position at a certain salary, and if we are to allow the Clerk of the House of Representatives to receive a, higher rate we shall be disrating our Clerk, because, after all is said and done, the only honour attaching to the position is in the remuneration paid. If we are going to agree to the Clerk of the House of Representatives receiving £1,250 per annum, we should see that our own Clerk receives a, similar amount. I am more inclined to favour the reduction of the salary of the Clerk of the House of Representatives to £1,000 than to increase that of the Clerk of the Senate to £1,250. If the Clerk of the House of Representatives is to be paid a higher salary, it will ‘ be said that our Clerk, who, I believe, is senior, is made junior to the other officer mentioned.
– In connexion with some of the lowerpaid officers I desire to ascertain if similar salaries are paid, to ‘the officers in both Chambers. I notice that an officer is described as “ Special messenger in charge, of stores and stamping correspondence.” Who is that?
– He is named Sparks.
– In the other House a junior clerk last year received £260. Is it proposed to abolish that office? Is the Members’ Correspondence Clerk to take over the duties of the other officer ?
– I am not quite sure of the exact position, because I have not the reports before me; but I take it that all the salaries, with the exception of those we have just been discussing, were agreed to by the heads of Departments, and that they harmonize as nearly as possible in proportion to the duties they perform. This particular officer receives the same salary as those doing similar work.
– A clerk and shorthand writer last year received £310, but he is now to receive £270. Is that because a new appointment has been made ?
– The officer previously occupying that position had held it for some time, and had reached the maximum salary of his class; the new officer has to commence at the bottom.
– If we are to insist upon equality in connexion with the salaries to be paid to senior officers, then those doing work for both Chambers should receive equal remuneration.
.- Instructions were recently issued to messengers in the rooms devoted to Federal Members in Sydney and Brisbane - and in other State capitals also, I presume - to the effect that no cor respondence should be stamped, except by members of Parliament themselves. It has hitherto been the practice for letters to be handed to those messengers for stamping in the ordinary course.
– Not in aU the States.
– I thought so; but, at any rate, my remarks apply so far as New South Wales and Queensland are concerned.
– We have nothing like that good fortune in Tasmania.
– Even though the privilege may not have applied in all the States, my point still holds good, namely, that there should be consistency. Within these precincts members of Parliament^ may have their correspondence stamped by the messengers authorized for that purpose. Those who do not reside in Melbourne, however, are unfairly discriminated against in that they are bound to stamp their correspondence out of the allowance granted for postage and* telegrams, namely, £25 each. Federal legislators resident in Victoria may send all their letters by means of the facilities provided in this building. I suggest in fairness that no letters should be so despatched, but that the allowance of £25 should he regarded as sufficient for the stamping of all correspondence. In this way a certain amount of money could be saved, and all members, no matter from what State, would all be placed upon the same footing. Here is an opportunity to bring about consistency,and, at the same time, practise a little economy at home.
– The privilege accorded in Sydney and Brisbane in respect of the stamps of Federal members’ correspondence was withdrawn after full consideration by the Joint House Committee. The view was taken that the specific allowance for stamps was sufficient for the purpose; and, since there have been certain irregularities in connexion with the use of those stamps’, it was deemed desirable, as well as necessary in the best interests of the country, and of the reputation of the Federal Legislature, that the practice should be stopped. Further, there was no good reason why legislators representative of the two States mentioned should be given advantage over those coming from any of the other four States. I assure honorable senators that the whole subject was very carefully considered, ‘and that the members of the Joint House Committee were practically unanimous in coming to the decision.
– I notice that the sum paid to “special messenger in charge of stores and stamping correspondence,” is £250, and that the amount paid to the President’s messenger is the same. In my view, the special messenger should receive considerably more per annum than the other. His duties entail certain responsibilities, and he has been of material assistance, particularly to new senators. This messenger has done all that has been possible in that direction, and he has to undergo strenuous and responsible periods of duty. The anomaly of the payment to each of these two messengers being the same should not be permitted to continue. I move, therefore -
That the House of Representatives be requested to increase the item, “ The Senate - Special Messenger, in charge of stores and stamping correspondence, £250,” to £275.
– I hope the request will not be pressed. The Estimates were decided upon after full and careful considera tion by the heads of the Departments concerned, and following upon consultation with a view to securing coordination and harmony between the various Departments in the Parliament. Any increase made in respect of the salary of one official will bear upon the payments made to others and must entail consequent adjustments if co-ordination is to be maintained. I undertake, when the Estimates for the next financial year are being framed, to very carefully consider the representations which have been made by Senator John D. Millen in respect of the special messenger to whom he has referred.
– As for any arrangements made to insure harmony and co-ordination, the President has afforded an example of the agreement being broken away from.
– I have not broken away from it.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
.- Under the subdivision dealing with “ The Senate- Contingencies,” there is an item, ‘ ‘ Writing paper and envelopes, including cost of printing and embossing thereon.” The envelopes provided for the use of honorable senators are the poorest sample of stationery which it has ever been my misfortune to be required to use. I doubt if one in ten of them will contain any letter placed therein, without bursting. The paper which is made available to honorable senators is not nearly as good to write upon as that formerly provided, although I understand that it actually costs more. As for the envelopes, their poor quality entails considerable waste. Altogether, they are very badly made, and reflect no credit upon those by whom they are supplied. I do not know where or by whom they are manufactured.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland [4.30]. - All stationery is supplied by the Government Printing. Office. Honorable senators will realize that the quality of’ all paper depreciated very much during the war, and, as a matter of fact, it has been almost impossible to get the supplies of paper required. I have found no difficulty in enclosing letters in envelopes supplied for the use of the Senate.
– The trouble is that they are gummed inside.
– Some are fastened before they are sealed.
– I shall have representations on the matter made to the Government Printer, and see that more satisfactory envelopes are supplied for the use of honorable senators.
– I should like some information with respect to the item - “ Senate - Cost of Living Bonus - .£454.” The amount voted for this . item last year was only £216, and I should like to know how the increase in the vote is accounted for.
– Last years vote was for a part of the year only. This year’s vote is for the full twelve months.
– I understand that the cost of living is declining, and I should like to know what is the practice adopted in connexion with the .vote. la the vote decreased in accordance with a decrease in the cost of living ?
– We adopted for the service of . Parliament the system and regulations adopted by the Government for the Public Service generally. The increase in the amount of the vote to meet the cost of living in this year’s Estimates is accounted for by the fact that last year’s vote was for a part of the year only.
.- As officers of the various Departments, in common with other workers in Australia, had to bear the increased cost of living before consideration was given to them in that regard, it would not be fair to decrease the amount of .the bonus in respect of the increased cost of living for this year. But I suggest mat the Government should give the matter close attention before next year’s Estimates are submitted. As the item was included in the Estimates to meet a special contingency it should disappear or diminish in accordance with the reduction in the cost of living.
– I find’ that last year, under the head of “The Senate- Salaries,” £6,871 was voted, and it is shown that the total expenditure was £7,116. But there are no entries in the Estimates to show how the amount of the vote was increased. Particulars giving this information are to be found in the expenditure column opposite votes for contingencies.
– It has been explained that the vote for cost of living bonus last year was for the part of the year only.
– That is not the matter to which I am directing attention, though I may point out that whilst last year, for the Senate, £216 was voted for the cost of living bonus, it is impossible from the Estimates to discover what the expenditure from that vote was. It might, so far as explanation is supplied by the Estimates, have been nearer £454, the amount asked for this year.
Motion (by Senator Earle) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item “ Clerk of the House of Representatives- £1,250 “ by £250.
.- The question raised by ‘ Senator Foster is applicable to the division of the Estimates relating to the House of Representatives also. A considerable amount is shown to have been expended last year for salaries in excess of the amount! voted; but there is no indication of how the increased expenditure was incurred. This information is given in respect of ordinary Departments, and we should be entitled to it in regard to votes for the service of Parliament.
– The explanation of the matter is that in the working of the Departments during the year additional assistance is frequently required, and the expenditure is met from the Treasurer’s Advance. Later on, under the heading of Supplementary Estimates, information is given as to how the money is spent.
– Is it given for temporary assistance?
– If a Department finds it necessary to obtain the services of an additional clerk for a few weeks or months, the money for the purpose, not having been provided by Parliament, must be met from the Treasurer’s Advance. Later on, Supplementary Estimates are presented showing how the Treasurer’s Advance vote has been spent. Parliament has then an opportunity to examine, and approve, or disapprove of that expenditure.
– In the vote for the Senate, under the heading of contingencies, it is shown that £50 was voted for temporary assistance, and of this amount only £19 was spent. How, therefore, could the increase in the expenditure be accounted for by payments for temporary assistance?
– I did not say that it was so accounted for. I took temporary assistance merely as an illustration. The increase in expenditure might have arisen from many causes, though temporary assistance is very likely to be one cause. It might be due to unexpected calls upon a Department for assistance, for material, for repairs, and so on.
– That could not be, because I referred only to increased expenditure on salaries.
– Then the additional ‘amounts must have been paid for salaries out of the Treasurer’s Advance.
– I should like some information with regard to the Parliamentary Reporting Staff. There have been rumours recently of resignations, or something of the kind, of reporters who were members of the staff ‘for a very long time.
– They resigned to accept new positions, which had been created by the Government, at higher salaries than they were receiving on the Reporting Staff.
– I am aware of that. I understand that they have joined a Department under the AttorneyGeneral for reporting proceedings in the Courts. I should like to know whether the Parliamentary Reporting Staff is under the President or the Speaker?
– It is under both.
– I should like some information with regard to the item, “ The Library - One temporary clerk and three temporary attendants - £855.” I find that last year £1,053 was voted for this item. Are these men employed only during the sittings of Parliament ? If they are employed in the Library all the year round, why are they not included in the permanent staff?
– These matters come under the supervision of the Library Committee. I presume it is sometimes found necessary to obtain temporary assistance. If a particular officer were absent on sick leave, it might be thought desirable to fill his place temporarily.
.- Last year’s vote included provision for the salary of one clerk, and it is now proposed to vote a sum sufficient for three clerks. Why is that increase necessary ?
– It will be noticed that there is a reduction of one in the number of temporary employees.
– There was an attempt made last year for temporary employees to be given permanent positions wherever possible. That is probably what has been done in this case. It was frequently represented to mc that the Library was understaffed, but I was not of that opinion.
– Did you, as President, ever consult with the Speaker with regard to increased salaries for the Librarian and the Assistant Librarian ?
– No. My opinion was never sought, but I would be very loath to question a decision of the Chairman of that Committee, and I think it would be very much better for him to accept undivided responsibility. I am not quite sure on the matter, but I believe he invited the assistance of the Library Committee in arriving at the Estimates in this division.
– It will be noted that the Library staff now totals ten as compared with, eight last year. One additional employee is a cadet cataloguer at a salary of £100. He is a young officer who has been training at the University, and I think he still attends lectures there. A cataloguer has to inform himself in a general way of the contents of every boole, and record them. We have an experienced cataloguer in the Library, but somebody must be in training as a cadet cataloguer, not merely to relieve the senior official, but, ultimately, possibly, to take up his duties.
– Why not put him on the permanent staff?
– I arn not in a position to explain that. There is one temporary clerk who has been in the Department for several years. I think there has been a recommendation by the Chairman of the Library Committee within the last few weeks that he be placed on the permanent staff. Ministers have to be consulted before a temporary employee can be given a permanent position.
– Is Dr. Watson the editor of the Australian Historical Records?
– Who is responsible for the expenditure last year on contingencies under this heading of £1,782 more than Parliament voted ?
– The Library Committee.
– In regard to the division “ Parliamentary Standing Committee of Public Works” perhaps some honorable senators, who took part in the inspection of the proposed route for the North-South Railway, can explain why there is an amount of £1,500 proposed to be voted this year in that connexion, in addition to the £3,909 spent last year.
. -The £1,500 is for portion of the expenses of the trip made by the SubCommittee, but just what the total expenditure will be cannot be stated until all the accounts have been dealt with. I wish to warn the Committee that the total expense will run into a good deal more. The inspection was authorized by the Government, and the amount set down was drafted for me as the sum already spent for motor cars and equipment.
– This undertaking was not in contemplation when the previous Estimates were passed, and there was no specific appropriation for it. Are we to understand that the £3,909 expended during the last financial year covered the cost of the purchase of motor cars ? Can those cars be realized on?
– They are up for sale now.
– Then they ought to bring in same amount, which will be credited against this expenditure.
– I am given to understand that the sum likely to be obtained by the sale of’ the cars will not cover the whole of the expense of the inspection.
– I notice that the expenditure for the salaries of the office staff of the Public Works Committee last year amounted to £1,041 as against £542 for the salaries of the staff of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts. The former Committee has done a great deal of work. Who is responsible for the expenditure? Is the Committee empowered to employ anybody it likes?
– The Public Works Committee staff is under the control of the President of the Senate. The Public Accounts Committee staff is under the control of the Speaker of the House of Representatives. For a number of years the work of the Public Works Committee was regarded as being of very much more importance than that of the Public Accounts Committee. The statutory status of the two Committees was not comparable at all.
– As Senator John D. Millen has said, the relative importance of the two Committees! has changed now. During the last eighteen months the Public Accounts Committee has been inquiring into the War Service Homes administration, and other matters; it has been touring all over the Commonwealth, and has been sitting almost continuously. In this time of stress, and in view of the’ need for economy and retrenchment, I think consideration ought to be given to the question of whether the staff of the Public Works Committee is necessary .
– That question has been under the consideration of the Public Works Committee and myself, and it is contemplated that we shall be able to make arrangements for the transfer of certain officers, ‘with a view to effecting considerable economies.
– I am content to leave the matter there.
– The Public Works Committee, has come into the Parliamentary Building like the Public Accounts Committee.
– I do not know that that affects the question of whether it is necessary for the Committees to have the same staff.
– As a member of the Public Works Committee, I may say that the Committee have very little to do with expenditure in administration. I do not mean to say that members do not take an interest in the cost of the administration of the Committee ; but, as Senator Givens has pointed out, the Committee is under the control of the President of the Senate. The work done by the Committee is very important. I venture to say that during the short time that I have been a member of it, the Committee has effected savings of many thousands of pounds to the taxpayers of this country. It is only twelve months since a reference was made to the Committee in connexion with an obligation that the taxpayers, through the Government, were faced with, and as a result of the recommendation of the Committee the taxpayers have been saved something over £100,000. I cannot say more than that, because writs have been issued by the contending parties. Senator Lynch and Senator Keating were at one time members of the Committee, and they will support me when I ask honorable members not to be too critical of the expenditure incurred by the Committee, in view of the great amount of work it does, and the large amount of money it has saved the taxpayers.
– Did not the members of the Committee, when the vote for the Northern Territory trip was being considered, inform Parliament that it would cost about £2,000?
– I am unable to say what was or was not said to Parliament, but the whole matter was in the hands of the Government. If theY were not desirous that this inspection should take place, there was no need for them to hand the reference over to the Committee, or to make the money available. We carried out the wish of Parliament in undertaking the inspection. I am not going to deal with that matter, except to say that I hope honorable members will not overlook the fact that the Public Works Committee has effected savings of many thousands, perhaps millions, of pounds to the’ taxpayers. I hope that the taxpayers are grateful to the Committee for what it has done.
– Senator Foster has drawn attention to the difference between the amounts voted and the amounts expended for the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, and the Joint Committee of Public Accounts. The difference is made up by the circumstance that in the case of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works there is provision made for a clerk and messenger. In the case of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, there is provision only for an office assistant at £200, as against the clerk of the Public Works Committee at £245 and the messenger at £182. In respect to the staffs of’ both these Committees there is provision for cost of living bonus and basic wage allowances, in connexion with which there is not very much difference between the two Committees. The Joint Committee of Public Accounts has always been housed in Parliament House, but the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works has not, up to the present, although arrangements are now being made to house that Committee here. This arrangement is only possible in consequence of extensions that have been made to the building on the House of Representatives side, whereby additional Ministers’ rooms and conveniences for members have been provided. Personally, from my experience, I have no reason to doubt that the housing of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works in this building will lead to economy in the administration costs of the Committee. Senator Givens has indicated that as a result of arrangements which are now being considered there will be economy in the administration costs of the Committee in future. That is an indication of the advantage that can be gained by concentrating Departments, instead of having them scattered, as they are at present, all over Melbourne. It was necessary for the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works to have a messenger, because it was at first housed at the other end of the city in the Wool Exchange buildings in King-street. After that it was moved to Broken Hill Chambers, Queen-street. The Joint Committee of Public Accounts does not appear to have had a special messenger. The secretary to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works has occupied that position since the Committee came into existence. He is an officer of outstanding ability. He was taken from one of the Departments, in which he had been employed since the establishment of the Commonwealth. He is a man of attainments, experience, and accomplishments, and when he was taken from the position that he held in one of the larger central Departments of the Commonwealth due regard was paid to his then claims and prospects for promotion and advancement. He has held the position of secretary to the Committee for five or six years. He is steeped in experience of the work of the Committee, and is a very valuable guide, counsellor, and friend to every member of the Committee, and especially to incoming members. On the other hand, the officer who is occupying the position of secretary to the Joint Committee of Public Accounts was, immediately preceding his occupancy of that office, clerk to the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Public Works under the officer whom I have just designated. He has not had the experience or the length of service with the Commonwealth that the secretary to the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Public Works has had. It is because of the difference in their age, experience, and length of service that the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, while able to get an active, efficient and intelligent secretary, has net found it necessary to pay the same salary as is paid to the secretary of the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Public Works. ‘ I rose, more than anything else, to point out the economy that is effected in administration by having different Departments and activities concentrated as far as possible in the same building, instead of being scattered and divided, as they are at present, in Melbourne. Honorable members know that even single Departments in Melbourne are in many instances to be found not housed under one roof, or even under adjoining roofs, but scattered throughout the length and breadth of the city and suburbs. The difference in the cost of the administration of these two Committees is a striking illustration of the disadvantage of the existing conditions.
I desire to ask Senator Givens a question with regard to the reserve or allotment that is to be found on the northern or north-western side of the block of the land on which Parliament House stands. There is an alley-way, or right-of-way running from Spring-street to Albert-street. On the north-westerly side of it is an enclosure or reserve which, I understand, belongs properly to Parliament House, which is a State property. It has been announced more than once that the State authorities have been desirous- of throwing the allotment in with the rest of the parliamentary grounds, provided that certain conditions are complied with which will insure to the public access ‘to the grounds. At present the public has not access to the grounds, because they are enclosed. The allotment is unsightly and not useful. I would like to know from Senator Givens if a proposition such as- I have mentioned has come from the State Government, and, if so, what it is proposed to do with regard to it. The public would like to know what is the exact position. Is it intended to do anything? If not, what is the reason for inaction?
– I think that for about eight or nine years Parliament has voted the money for this purpose, and the Commonwealth has been ready ‘at al! times to undertake the whole of the capital cost of converting the land referred to into an open garden, similar to the corner plot at the other end of Spring-street. At present it is not used at all. The original proposition put before the then State Government was that we should bear the whole of the capital expenditure in the removal of the fence along the rightofway, and convert the property into one garden. The scheme had the approval of the then State Premier (Sir Alexander Peacock), the architect to the State Public Works Department and the Melbourne City Council, but the Joint House Committee of the Victorian Parliament would not agree to it. The money has been voted on several occasions, and has always been available. If the proposal were carried out it would make a perfect balance. This House would then stand in fine grounds, and there would be room for the erection of statuary. At present the area referred to is useless, and cannot be regarded as ornamental. The conditions under which we occupy Parliament House and the grounds . from the State Parliament render us helpless in the matter without the consent of the State authorities. It is not our responsibility that nothing has been done up to the present. We were prepared to spend about £1,500 in the beautification of the grounds, but I did not feel like going cap-in-hand to the members of the State House Committee to get their approval.
Proposed vote agreed to, with requests.
Prime Minister’s Department.
Proposed vote, £416,798.
– The expenditure in this Department last year very greatly exceeded the amount voted. I am quite aware that, owing to its very nature, the Prime Minister’s Department might be expected to expand, but during the lastfour years it has outdistanced all the other Departments from the point of view of expenditure. If we add the amount not spent upon immigration, £75,000, to the excess expenditure, we have a total of well over £100,000 in excess of the vote agreed to by Parliament last year. I recognise that it is almost impossible to keep the expenditure of this Department within the vote, but the excess is so large that I think we are entitled to some explanation. On’ the administra tive side alone last year there was a clear increase of over £100,000. Expenditure in the High Commissioner’s Office alone exceeded the vote by over £20,000, and in view of the report made by Colonel Ramaciotti it would appear that Australia House requires overhauling. I have no fault to find with the increased vote for the Audit Department, because I regard that Department as the watch dog of the Commonwealth Public Service, and it is essential that it should be kept up to concert pitch, so to speak, in regard to its staff. I regret that the amount set aside for immigration was not spent. Last year we voted £100,000, but spent only £12,000. When this matter was last before the Committee, I drew attention to what was done in Western Australia seventeen years ago, and by a Labour Government too. A close watch needs to be kept on all public expenditure. According to the Budget papers, there has been an increase in administration expenditure from £10,000,000 in 1917-18 to £15,000,000 this year, an increase of 50 per cent, in four years. Our public expenditure may be divided under three headings - the Departmental Vote, the Special Appropriations, and expenditure on War Services. We cannot touch the Special
Appropriations without altering the Act. Under this heading the expenditure in four years has increased from £12,000,000 to £14,000,000, an increase of 16 per cent. This does not call for special comment, but expenditure on War Services has increased from £11,000,000 to £31,000,000. I had apprehended that there would be a decline of expenditure under this heading.. Turning to the ordinary departmental expenditure, there has been an increase, as I have shown, of 50 per cent, in four years. If we maintain this rate, we shall strike trouble very quickly. The Budget-papers point to the danger. Sir Joseph Cook, dealing with the seasonal prospects, said that the prices of wool and wheat were very good.
– While I have no desire to prevent the honorable senator from referring to matters that are mentioned in the Budgetpapers, in order to illustrate his arguments, I am bound to point out to Mm that his remarks would have been more appropriate at the second-reading stage of this Bill.
– We” have on one hand a steady progressional increase of departmental expenditure, and on the other, as far as the economic and industrial outlook is concerned, a steady progressional decline.
– There is £68,000 as a contribution to the cost of the Secretariat of the League of Nations, and £50,000 in connexion with the entertainment of the Prince of Wales. Is it right to charge those votes to administration ?
– Perhaps not. But we must not forget the reservoir from which all this expenditure is drawn. On page 179 of the Budget-papers, it is shown that the area under crop in 1912-13 was 13,S38,049 acres; and in 1919-20, 13,298,000, showing a reduction in seven years. The wheat yield in 1915-16 was 179,000,000 bushels, and last year 144,000,000 bushels. The ex-Treasurer referred to the last-mentioned quantity as a guarantee that ‘the Commonwealth could rely upon receiving satisfactory revenue, notwithstanding the fact that the quantity was considerably less than it has been in previous years. The Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) must admit that there is a tendency to increase the departmental expenditure to the point where it is necessary for us to seriously consider that our production is declining in volume, and that we are approaching the time when there will be trouble ahead, and we shall have, in the classical language of another place, to apply the “meat axe.” I trust the Minister is fully alive to the necessity of keeping a firm hand on expenditure in this Department, which offers the best opportunity for effecting economy, because there have been substantial increases without any explanation, except in connexion with immigration, on which I would have been prepared to support an increase. I am sure that the Minister will be able to give a satisfactory explanation for the heavy expenditure on the High Commissioner’s Office, and the total of the Prime Minister’s Department, which has been increased by £100,000.
– I feel sure that the Committee will recognise the very serious nature of the views expressed by Senator Lynch when he draws attention to the necessary relationship which must exist, if we are to successfully continue, between the value of production and the cost of government. Coming down to the points he particularly stressed in relation to the increase in the Prime Minister’s Department, I shall point out one or two items which are selfexplanatory. Generally it has been recognised that as things have been of late years it has not been possible to conduct Departments as economically as hitherto. Wages have been increased, and it struck me as somewhat inconsistent that attention should have been directed to the growing expenditure in the aggregate when we - I think all of us have been more or less guilty - have been assisting in creating that increase by granting additions in various directions. We are condemning the fact that the expenditure of conducting Departments has increased; but because we have approved, or have refrained from preventing, increases, we have really been responsible for swelling the aggregate amount. Much of this expenditure has arisen in consequence of increased salaries, and from such items as the basic wage allowance and child endowment payments.
– So long as there is no overstaffing, and officers are doing a fair thing, no one will complain.
– Senator Lynch has had experience as long as my own in regard to departmental expenditure; he has also held office as a Minister, and I would hesitate to say definitely, as I know he would if he were in my position, that nothing of that kind has ever occurred. It would be impossible to do that within the limits which are imposed. I believe that as much has been done to prevent it as can be hoped for.
I now desire to direct attention tosorne . of the increases mentioned. The honorable senator referred to the increased expenditure of £100,000 in the Prime Minister’s Department. There was an increase of £53,000, representing the difference between the expenditure and the vote as Australia’s contribution to the cost of Secretariat to the League of Nations. Honorable senators are aware that this is a matter which, to ‘the full extent of my powers, I sought to have remedied, so that the contributions levied would be on a more equitable basis, and that Australia would not have to contribute amounts similar to those contributed by such countries as Great Britain and France. That is now being remedied.
– Does this amount recur annually?
– As long as Australia remains a member of the League of Nations we shall have to contribute, but in view of the recent recommendation it will be less than it has been in the past.
– The Minister could uot say roughly what it is likely to be?
– Originally the nations were classified in five divisions. Australia, in some respects,was untitled to be classified with the first-class Powers, but in regard to our payments it was pointed out that we could not be expected to contribute to the same extent as other countries in that classification. As the result of the objection which was lodged, Australia has been placed in a less costly division, but at the moment I cannot say what our annual contribution is likely to be. The League of Nations prepare a Budget from year to year, and in future we shall have to pay whatever amount may be fixed under the new classification. I think, however, I am safe in saying that we shall have to pay about one-half of what we have previously paid, and it may be less.
By a perusal of the schedule honorable senators will see that there are a number of items for which money was not voted last year, and in respect of which expenditure has been incurred this financial year. As was to be expected, in connexion with the visit of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, there was an excess of expenditure over the votes, aud that, in conjunction with the contribution to the Secretariat of the League of Nations, represents, broadly speaking, £100,000.
– On the same page there is £10,000 in connexion with the Royal Commission appointed to inquire into a uniform railway gauge. Will that be an annual expenditure?
– No. A Royal Commission waa appointed to inquire into the question of a uniform gauge for the Commonwealth, consequent upon arrangements made between the Government and the State Premiers. The Commission consisted of an American ana an English railway expert and an Australian railway official. That Commission has completed its investigation, and therefore the item will not occur again. The same may be said of the amount of £6,000 for the Taxation Commission. These items represent expenditure for which there was no previous provision.
– There is also £10,000 for the Basic Wage Commission.
– Provision was made for that, but the expenditure exceeded the estimate by £881. Apart from the League of Nations and the expenditure in connexion with the visit of the Prince of Wales, there have been no large increases in these particular items. If honorable senators will peruse the items they will see that there is none which invites criticism or any which can really be cavilled at. I do not think that it could be suggested for a moment that we should have demurred in connexion with our contribution to the Secretariat of the League of Nations, because it would have amounted to repudiation. We would not do that. As I have said, the expenditure, apart from the two rather large items which I have mentioned, is not unusual, and is represented by a number of smaller items for which either no .provision has been made or the provision has not been sufficient.
– Why did you not spend more money on immigration?
– Because, unfortunately, whilst provision had been made for bringing more people out, the shipping difficulty was so great that it prevented them coming here. In addition, the agreement with the States provided that we should not bring out more men, women, and children than they were in a position to receive and place in employment. The Government did not wish these people to be dumped on the wharfs without any arrangements having been made for finding them employment or settling them in the country. Whether that will be a satisfactory (permanent policy I take the liberty of questioning. The policy adopted in the past in consequence of that limitation of the States will prevent the Commonwealth bringing more people to Australia than it would otherwise be able to do.
– There are one or two items of expenditure on which I should like the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) to give some information. I can quite appreciate what he has said in reference to the wage3 which are fixed by arbitration, which is recognised by the law of the Commonwealth. In connexion with the amount provided for the High Commissioner’s office, I noticed a paragraph in the press the other day to the effect that 400 of the employees had been entertained. I was amazed at the number given, and I shall be glad if the Minis,ter will give some information as to the actual number of persons employed there.
There is another item on page 18, “ Maintenance of motor cars, including wages and expenses of chauffeurs, £5,777.” The estimated expenditure this year is £3,500. Are these motor cars used in connexion with the Prime Minister’s Department?
– Senator Lynch stressed the question of immigration, and on that subject I desire to say a few words. I would have liked to have seen a material reduction in the Defence vote, and every penny of the money saved employed to assist immigration. It has often been said that unless we can fill our empty spaces we cannot hope to hold this continent. The logic of the situation is that if we do not make use of Australia some one else will. Even if we continue with our military expenditure as at present, our Military Forces would not be of much moment, when all is said and done, if some of the Powers that are spoken of in hushed whispers were to come down upon us But if we filled our waste spaces, and established in Australia a great Democracy in the place of the small Democracy we have at present, we should , be in a position to resist any military invasion in a way that we could not expect to be able to do at present. I repeat that I should like to see a material reduction in the vote for the Defence Department, and every penny of the money saved in that way expended on the immigration of the proper class of people to fill the enormous waste spaces of Australia, which might well be filled by people capable of engaging in agriculture, who would make good and useful citizens of the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator asked a question about the vote for motor cars. An arrangement has been made to garage the cars required for all the Public Departments in one garage, which is under the control of the Prime Minister’s Department. Instead of the expenses being debited to the respectiveDepartments, the whole of the administration work connected with the cars is centred in the Prime Minister’s Department.
– I am quite satisfied on that point.
.- Last year we voted £800 for “ Salary and travelling allowances of officers acting as Secretaries to Leaders of the Opposition in the Senate and House of Representatives and Leader of the Country party.” This year £1,300 is asked for. Surely it cannot be put forward that the duties of the Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate have increased to such an extent that an additional amount is required to cover his travelling allowance.
– There has been an additional leader to provide for.
– Was not the Leader of the Country party provided for last year?
– I see that the expenditure last year was £1,028, or £228 more than was authorized. I take it that the increased expenditure covered the salary and allowance of the Leader of the Country party for a portion of the year.
– That is so.
– There is a vote of £2,500 set down for the Geneva Conference, 1920. Honorable senators will find that £5,802 was expended in 1920-21 for “ Commonwealth representation at Geneva Conference.” In the circumstances I should like to have some explanation of the additional vote asked for. There is a small vote of £250 down for “ Prize for military band contest at Ballarat.” Two hundred and fifty pounds was voted for this purpose last year, and only £50 was spent. It would be interesting to know, in the circumstances, whether the vote of £250 proposed this year is likely to be absorbed. I find a vote of £6,000 down for the Taxation Royal Commission. Last year there was an expenditure from . the Treasurer’s Advance on this Commission of £7,429. I understood that the Commission had finished its labours some months ago. It would be interesting to know whether the vote set down in this year’s Estimates will cover the balance of expenditure incurred by the Commission. If the Commission has finished its labours the Government should be in a position to say what amount has actually been expended. I notice a new item, “ Expenses of Berthing Officer and Assistants, Newcastle, £1,200,” about which I should like some information. Last year £800 was spent from the Treasurer’s Advance under this heading, although no money was voted for the purpose last year. Last year £3,051 was expended on the Scientific Expedition to New Guinea from the Treasurer’s Advance. There is no vote set down this year for the Expedition, and I desire to know whether it is proposed to continue to finance the Expedition out of the Treasurer’s Advance, and whether the Minister is in a position to say what the probable cost of the Expedition will be. I find that the number of officers in the High Commissioner’s Office provided for this year is ninety-two, as compared with twentythree last year. Does the increase indicate that quite a large number of those who have been temporarily employed in the office have now been put on the permanent list? Last year the expenditure for temporary assistance amounted to £10,000.
SenatorE. D. Millen. - The honorable senator will find that many of the officers were transferred under the High Commissioner’s Act.
– There appears to be a very large increase in the number of the staff. I take it that it is the intention and policy of the Government to have a large permanent staff at the High Commissioner’s Office instead of, as hitherto, a small permanent staff and a large number of temporary employees.
– Yes, I have a memorandum on the subject which will explain the position.
– I do not know whether the policy is a wise one. I have my own view on the subject of the inflation of the Public Service list. I think that in the interests of the Commonwealth we should refrain from inflating it.
– Senator Payne’ has asked for information upon a number of items. The second amount required to meet expenses of the Geneva Conference is due to the belated arrival of some accounts which have reached us from the Imperial Government. When the Convention was about to be held they undertook to make arrangements for delegates from all the British Dominions. Their offer was accepted, and the expenses covered by the accounts which they rendered afterwards for the accommodation provided were shared amongst the various delegates. Some accounts have been received only in time to be included in this year’s Estimates, though the services were rendered a long . while ago. With regard to the vote for a prize for the Ballarat band contest, a similar amount was originally voted for the Ballarat festival, which those controlling the festival were not able to use. A sum of £50 was then given for a minor competition in connexion, I think, with the cadets. It is proposed now, subject to parliamentary concurrence, to give this year the £250 promised for a previous occasion, which those controlling the festival could not avail themselves of. With regard to the Taxation Commission, that body has finished its travelling and the taking of evidence. It has yet to complete some supplementary reports on matters referred to it. It is not anticipated that it will continue in existence very much longer, and the vote now asked for is believed to be sufficient to cover the expenditure in connexion with the Commission which has yet to be met. The berthing officer at Newcastle was appointed in connexion with the control of the export of coal. Senator Payne will probably recollect that owing to the higher price that could be obtained abroad for coal, there was a tendency at one time to export coal to such an extent that it was thought probable that Australian industries might be left without sufficient supplies. In order to prevent that, the Government made the necessary proclamation, appointed a berthing officer’ at Newcastle, whose duty it was to determine which ship should go in first for loading, the idea being to see that no coal went out of Australia which was needed for carrying on Australian industries. Certain alterations in the nature of the coal control have followed, which experience has justified.
– Is the appointment to be continued’?
– It is not a permanent appointment. The proclamation under which this officer is acting terminates at the end of this year. The New Guinea Expedition has terminated so far as New Guinea is concerned, and most of the members of it are back in Australia. The gentleman who was in charge will shortly be presenting his final report.
– Have there been any reports from the Expedition?
– Perhaps I should, not have used the word “reports,” but from time to time telegrams and letters have been received from the leader of the Expedition stating how they were getting on. There has been nothing in the nature of a scientific report upon what the members of the Expedition have observed. They have finished their explorations, and the leader will probably present a report on the result of their explorations. With respect to the officers of the HighCommissioner’s office, Senator Payne has expressed sentiments with which I agree as to the danger of unduly inflating the permanent staff. I mentioned when the honorable member was speaking that I had a memorandum which would explain the position, and it is in the following terms -
The staff previously shown under “ Temporary Assistance “ are this year shown under the heading “ Salaries,” and the sub-heading “High Commissioner’s Act.” There is no change in the conditions of their employment - they were employed under the High Commissioner Act when shown under “Temporary Assistance,” but it is considered that the classification adopted this year is the more correct one, as, although they are in a different category from permanent officers, they are employed under different conditions from the ordinary temporary officers of the Commonwealth Public Service. Their employment may, however, be terminated at any time by the High Commissioner.
.- What proportion of the amount set down for the Royal Commission on the unification of railway gauges has been spent! The Government are not justified in spending £10,000 on this investigation at the present juncture.
– The work is done.
– That is unfortunate, because it would be useless to request a reduction. I understood that the labours of the Royal Commission were not yet completed. The question of the unification of railway gauges crops up whenever Premiers or other Ministers from the various States meet in conference. Some time ago it was announced by the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Groom) that a scheme had been accepted which would cost something like £61,000,000, the expenditure to be spread over a period of years. Australia will be unable to standardize its railway gauges for many years, and if the Government are likely to have such a huge sum to spend on a project of this kind, I would remind them that there are a hundred and one other matters upon which the money could just as well be spent. Defence experts differ as to what would be the value of a unification of gauges. Had Queensland, Western Australia, and Tasmania not built narrowgauge railways, they would never have had the development that has taken place in those States, because it would have been impossible to construct a similar mileage of broad-gauge railways. Why not spend some of this money in encouraging immigration, or on some other work which would bring a quick return? While it is, perhaps, deplorable, from many points of view, that there are so many breaks of gauge in Australia, . we are faced with the fact tnat we cannot afford to incur such an immense expenditure as unification would involve. Let the Government throw open such country as the Burnett lands in Queensland, every inch of which is suitable for settlement. Every part of Australia is in need of greater population, and money should be spent on immigration instead of on investigations and discussions which lead us nowhere.
.- Referring to the grant of £2,000 for the Imperial Mineral Resources Bureau, the Government would be well advised to follow the lead given by the Imperial Government, and appoint a Director of Minerals. Dr. Hatch, who has been chosen by the British Government, is well known, and highly qualified for the task allotted to him. I need hardly stress the value of mineral production to the Commonwealth.
– Do you mean we should appoint an officer to remain in Australia ?
– Yes. I do not think that it is possible to say how valuable the work of the Bureau of Mines has been in the United States of America in opening up country, bringing capital in, and increasing mineral production. If we appointed a competent Director, the initial cost would not be great, apart from the officer’s salary; but such an official could collate information which wouldbe of the greatest value both within and outside Australia.
– Does not that savour of duplication?
– No. The appointment of an officer who could put complete information respecting Australia’s mineral possibilities before outside investors would result in a. considerable influx of capital that is very much needed.
– I understand that the honorable senator is not putting his suggestion for- ward as an alternative proposal to the grant to the Imperial Bureau.
-. - No.
– This vote is for Australia’s contribution to a movement which is doing for the Empire exactly what the honorable member suggests should be done for the Commonwealth. I think there is a great deal in his proposal. I often think that we have resources.in Australia which lie untapped because we fail to make them better known. If the honorable senator’s suggestion could be carried out, especially in co-ordination with the efforts of the .States, much good would result. I shall have his remarks brought under the notice of my colleagues. I entirely differ from Senator Foll in his criticism of the value of the work of the Unification of Railway Gauges Commission. This is no new idea, and it is utterly wrong to say that it is leading nowhere. Such criticism could be levelled at every movement, upon its inception. It might be offered with respect to the long journey which Senator Foll and other honorable senators) have recently completed.
– It. would not have mattered if our trip had taken place five years hence.
– There are many people who would have put it further ahead than that. Hitherto there has always been a disagreement as to the railway gauge to be adopted for the Commonwealth; but an agreement has now been arrived at. The States concerned and the Commonwealth are unable to agree as to what the gauge should be, but they agreed that they would appoint this Commission, consisting of one Englishman, one American, and one Australian, and would accept the result of the Commission’s findings. That is progress. It is not so rapid as I would like, nor as the .honorable gentleman would like in matters of which Ihe .approves, but it is not right to say that it has not led us anywhere. I draw his attention to the fact that he has spoken of £50,000,000 as the cost of conversion. One thing the Commission has done is to show how the work can be carried out for much less than that sum.
– They have rendered service similar to that of the Public Works Committee.
– Yes; they have worked with the same desire to save the taxpayers expense, and have reached the same goal as that aimed at by Senator Foll and his colleagues. If Australia cannot afford to pay the cost of unifying railway gauges, it also cannot afford to delay doing it any longer. Every day we are adding to our railways, and, therefore, to the cost which we will ultimately have to face when we do unify them. My own State is building more lines on the 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge, and I think Queensland, subject to financial limitations, is doing the same. Where it would cost £18,000,000 or £15,000,000 to-day, it would cost infinitely more in a few years’ time. The longer we delay the more costly will the job become. I thought it was the accepted belief that the work had to be done, and that the sooner we did ifr the cheaper it would be. As to the Commission, it has completed its work, and has been disbanded. There are certain officers working at details which the Commission left unfinished. The vote of £10,000 is to pay for the expenditure already incurred, but it is not anticipated that the whole of that amount will be required. The extent of the saving that can be effected will depend upon how long the calculations now being made will take to complete.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of the Treasury.
Proposed vote, £1,207,280.
.- - I want to bring under the notice of the Committee a great inconvenience to which residents in the Northern Territory are subjected. I am not springing this on the Minister, for I have already made the same complaint direct to the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Poynton) and to the Treasury Department. There seems to be practically no difference in the way in which taxation forms are handled when they are sent to a person living in Collins-street and when they are sent to a settler in the Northern Territory, 500 miles beyond the rail-head. At one place in the Northern Territory a gentleman recently received his assessment form for income tax on the 14th or 15th of the month, and on the form it was stated that unless he paid the amount due by the 20th of the same month he would be fined 10 per cent.
There was no mail out for three weeks, and it took another six weeks after that for the payment to reach the Treasury Department in Victoria. The man was fined, and had to pay. Another case was brought under my notice of a man who, by the “same mail, received an assessment form and a notice telling him that he was fined. This was the first mail that had been received at that place for about six or eight weeks. Although these complaints may seem trivial to honorable senators, I can assure them that it is pin-pricks like these which cause so much inconvenience and irritation to the people who live many miles from civilization, and have plenty of time to ponder over such details. A grievance becomes magnified when one is living a life of sE-mi-isolation. The inconveniences that these people suffer cause them to look with very unfriendly eyes upon the Government, and to curse the administration cif the Northern Territory and everything connected with it. I think the best way to remedy this grievance would be-
– To use common sense.
– Of course. Requests have been forwarded to the Taxation Department regarding this grievance on many occasions. People in the Territory are constantly complaining to the Department regarding the inconvenience they are suffering. I feel that it would be an improvement on the present method if the assessment forms for the Northern Territory were sent out from Darwin. ‘ ‘
– Are. they sent out from Melbourne?
– Yes, so far as I can gather. In the Northern Territory the Taxation Department is controlled from Melbourne, the Post and Telegraph Department from Adelaide, and the Customs Department from Brisbane.
– Is there no subDepartment of the Treasury at Darwin for the collection of income tax in the Northern Territory ?
– There is bound to be a collector of taxes, although, at the present time, he is not doing much ‘ work. As far as I can gather, the assessments are sent from Melbourne. It does not make the case any better if they are sent from Darwin. The people of Darwin ought to know more of the conditions in the Territory, and of the time it takes for a mail to reach outlying places, than do the officials in Melbourne.
. - I can naturally understand the annoyance and irritation felt by a gentleman who receives a notice requiring him, to pay his income tax, and, at the same time, another notice fining him for not paying it. The grievance mentioned by Senator F’oll does not seem to be a difficult one to overcome, and I shall take the earliest opportunity of bringing his remarks under the notice of the Treasurer and the Income Tax Commissioner, with a view to seeing whether these little irritations can be remedied. I do this in the rather vain hope of making the Income Tax Act a popular one.
– I would like an explanation from the Minister (Senator’ E. D. Millen) regarding a matter to which the AuditorGeneral refers on page 27 of his report. It is to the effect that the ordinary advance to the Treasurer, a vote of £150,000 - I think it is reduced this year - has been exceeded by a rather serious amount. Under warrant authorities issued in excess of the provision made by this Parliament, the vote was exceeded by something in the neighbourhood of £98,000, and the Auditor-General very properly calls attention to it. It would seem that the ex- Treasurer (Sin Joseph Cook) in this respect has been exceeding his duty. There may be ample reason for it, bub it wants to be a fairly substantial reason to warrant going beyond the authority of Parliament to the extent of that large sum. In this case, parliamentary authority has been ignored by one who ought to be the first to respect it. An explanation, is given that “ it is certain, however, that the expenditure outstanding under these authorities will not, at any time, exceed the appropriation.” I suppose that the annual expenditure has not exceeded what has been granted under the warrants. It is as well for the Treasurer, as for any one else, to recognise the authority of Parliament. He ought to be the first to set a good example by living within his means, and within the authority given to him by Parliament in the expenditure of public money.
In regard to the uncollected taxes, I see.’ that there are large amounts of the war-time profits tax and income tax outstanding. In regard to income tax, there is a large amount of £4,500,000 outstanding. That clearly bespeaks, to my mind, that the people who are levied upon for income tax find it very difficult to pay the tax, otherwise it would not be outstanding. Although I know that a system of fines is in operation, as far as I am aware, no statement has been made to this Committee as to the amount of fines levied and collected in respect to these defaulting taxpayers.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to S p.m.
– Attention might very well be drawn to the Treasurer overdrawing his advance account to the extent of £90,000 odd, because he should be the last to go behind the authority of Parliament in the expenditure of public money. The Department includes several subdepartments, one of which is Taxation; and, again, the watchdog of the public finances, namely, the Audit Department, has directed attention to the fact that about £8,000,000 of land tax, wartime profits tax, and income tax, remains uncollected. I hope that the officials of the Taxation Department have satisfied themselves that there is very good reason for this default on the part of Commonwealth taxpayers. “Whenever I have been behind with my income tax payments, I have had to pay a fine, although when I sought the indulgence of the Department I was given some little time within which to pay. I am surprised that such a large amount of revenue, in the form of wartime profits, should be uncollected three years after the war. If a person is dealing with the Customs Department, he must pay “on the nail “ before he can shift fie goods; but it appears that a different method is followed in the collection of war-time profits taxation. Apparently, those who have been able to make . huge profits during war time are allowed to dodge their obligations, at all events, for the time being.
– But that legislation did not lapse at the close of the war. The tax was collected up to the 30th June of last year.
– Nevertheless, it is a fact that a huge sum in war-time profits taxation remains uncollected to-day, and naturally I am anxious to know whether the Department, with its increased vote of £100,000 this year, is likely to be a little more alert. I hope that if it is not able to collect these arrears this year it will, at all events, see that the people who are indebted to the Treasury give some quid pro quo for the advantages they enjoy.
Another matter to which I wish to direct attention is the expenditure of cash balances at the disposal of the Government, and again I am indebted to the Auditor-General for showing that £5,000,000 has been let out at 2 per cent., and another sum of £2,000,000 at 3 per cent. In his Budget speech, Sir Joseph Cook stated that short-dated loans in London command a much higher rate of interest than that. I think the lowest is 3-J per cent.; so I am anxious to know why the Treasurer cannot secure a better rate of interest. T shall welcome some information from the Minister.
– I do not know that I can supply the honorable senator with information which,1 apparently, is not already in his possession, because the manner in which he discusses these details indicates that he has himself thought out the reasons for the various matters to which he directs attention. I shall, however, endeavour to put. the case, as it appears to me to be in accordance with the facts. First, then, with regard to the uncollected taxes. The explanation is simple. These taxes are uncollected because time was given by the Department for their payment. In many cases profits which business people showed upon their transactions were not in liquid cash at all. They were represented by stock or goods in hand, and very often by debts due to them. It is quite obvious, therefore, that if the Department had demanded payment at the due date, many business people would have been forced into the Insolvency Court. Take the case of the pastoralist. Very often his profits would not be represented by cash balances in the bank at all, but by increased stock upon his run, or, it may be, by wool in the warehouses upon which he had not realized. In such cases the Treasurer authorized an extension of time for tile payment of taxation due. The Commonwealth Government could have no possible profit in the ruin of any man. By acting the part of the generous creditor, it met the public sentiment on this question quite fairly.
– But the amount outstanding represents 30 per cent, of the tax collectable.
– No. That amount does not represent arrears for one year only. I have always thought it most unfair, that whilst he was granting time to income taxpayers to meet their obligations, the Treasurer should have been abused because he was unable to balance his incomings and outgoings. The Treasurer could have presented a very different balance-sheet this year if he had demanded his “pound of flesh” immediately it was due instead of extending consideration to a section of the taxpayers. Had he been the manager of a private business concern, he would have taken these amounts in on the credit side of ‘his ledger as assets. If the Treasurer had done that his financial statement this year would have shown a substantial credit, instead of which the amounts do not appear on the balancesheet at all. Nevertheless, the Government have been roundly abused, because while £7,000,000 arrears of taxation is owing to the Treasurer, he drew to the extent of £2,000,000 on the accumulated surplus of the previous years. I mention this fact, not as having very much bearing upon the question raised by Senator Lynch, but as a reply to the criticism that has been levelled against these Estimates from many quarters outside.
Let me now deal with another matter, the quotation made by Senator Lynch from the Auditor-General’s report. I must compliment the honorable senator upon the comprehensive and exhaustive examination which, apparently, he gives to all public documents. I doubt if any other honorable senator has such an intimate knowledge of the multifarious documents that are presented to this Parliament, documents which, I suppose, nine out of ten of us never look at. With regard to the point raised by the honorable senator, the Auditor-General has pointed out that the warrants’ issued by the Treasury in respect of the Treasurer’? Advance vote exceeded ‘ the amount appropriated by Parliament last year. That is true, r lt in no case was more money spent than had been appropriated.
– It was ready to its hand all the same.
– Well, I shall keep my own opinion upon that point. I understand from the Treasury officials tha’t warrant authority may be issued for certain amounts. Let me take the actual figures in order to make my meaning clearer. Let us suppose that the authority for the Treasurer’s Advance is fixed at £1,500,000, and the warrant is issued “in the first instance for £1,000,000, of which only £750,000 may be spent, leaving a balance of £250,000. If they issued another warrant for £500,000 the Treasurer’s supply would be exhausted, but knowing that only £750,000 of the first warrant authority has been expended, they issue from time to time warrants for expenditure in respect of which authority had not been exhausted. It is a question which method is the better. Some people prefer one, and some another. There has been an under-expenditure, if I may so term it, under the first warrant, and therefore they issue a further expenditure in respect of the same warrant at the latter period of the year. The Auditor-General prefers a different method of bookkeeping, but the Treasury officials have given the AuditorGeneral an assurance that they approve of their method of handling these matters. I am not expressing any opinion as to which is the better system. There is nothing fundamentally wrong or suggestive of looseness in the keeping of the account.
.- I desire to direct the attention of the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) to the continued increase in the cost of the Taxation Department, the estimated expenditure this year being £546,372 as compared with an expenditure last year of £511,672, the increase being £35,000. Honorable senators will see, by referring to the item, that the vote last year, £440,000, was insufficient by about £70,000. Surely the time has arrived when the Departments should realize that there has been a decrease in the cost of all commodities as compared with the prices which prevailed a few years ago, and we- should therefore be justified in anticipating decreased expenditure in the Department. We have had it dinned into our ears year after year, when we have protested against extra expenditure, that we have failed to recognise that the Departments have had to bear the additional cost of materials, just as individuals have had to pay increased prices for necessary commodities. Apparently everything is on a down grade, and I do not think we are justified in providing a larger sum for the Taxation Department than was voted last year. In 1920-21 the total number of employees was 1,656, but according to the figures before us, we are to provide this year for 2,027, an increase of 371, which is equal to 18 per cent., although it is estimated that we shall receive only 3½ per cent, more in taxation than last year.
– Probably there are more taxpayers paying less on the average in taxation.
– When a Department is in full operation and has overcome all initial difficulties and expenses, we should be able to expect some reasonable diminution in the cost.
– With the expenditure of an additional £100,000 the Department would be able to secure £1,000,000 more in revenue.
– That may be so.
According to a statement of the exTreasurer the cost of the Maternity Allowance Department is increasing, and surely this, of all Departments, should be conducted as economically to-day as it was some years ago. The figures for 1914 show that the total number of claims paid was 134,998, the number rejected 709, the total amount paid £674,000, and the cost of administration £.1 10s. 6d. per cent. For the last financial year the number of claims paid was 140,162, the claims rejected 622, the total amount paid £700,760, and the cost of administration £2 6s. 2d. per cent.
– Which about represents the increase occasioned by the basic wage allowance.
– In its initial stages the Department had to perform somepioneering work and incur expenditure in getting its machinery into running order; but to-day we ought to be able to reduce expenditure considering that the amount of business handled is only slightly greater than in 1914. At the risk of wearying honorable senators I intend to carry out my promise that I shall never lose an opportunity of entering my protest against the payment of maternity allowance on the present’ basis. The time is opportune for the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) to give an assurance to the Committee that this question of policy will receive very careful consideration during the recess, and that the Government will be prepared, when Parliament re-assembles, to submit some scheme by which assistance can be given by the Commonwealth where it is needed, and by means of which we can dispense once and for all with imposing a levy on the taxpayers, especially tie poorer section, to provide people with money when it is not required.
– Why not move for a reduction of the amount as a direction to the Government?
– If I thought that would meet the case I would do as the honorable senator suggests, but I do not think it would. This is one of the ways in which relief could be given to people who are already heavily taxed without in any way refraining from assisting deserving people who require assistance at a critical stage. The present system is, after all, a very crude one, inasmuch as no differentiation is made between the wife of a man receiving £150 a year and one in receipt of £5,000 a year.
– Has it not been suggested that a differentiation would suggest pauperizing one section of the community ?
– That has been suggested; but if my proposal were carried out that could not be said. There has been no mention of pauperizing people who are in receipt of the invalid and oldage pension. We do not look upon the recipients of that Government grant aspaupers. Those who really needed the maternity allowance would not feel that they were paupers if they received it, whilst those who have ample of this world’s goods would not suffer if the bonus were not paid to them. What right have I to claim from the taxpayers of this country £5 for every child which comes into my home ? The Act provides that I can claim it if I desire, and, unfortunately, nearly all parents, to their shame, claim the bonus.
– Ninety-eight per cent, do.
– According to Senator Payne’s figures, over 100 per cent, claim it.
– Yes, because there are more claims submitted than children born, The Government should seriously consider this matter, because a majority of the people desire an alteration in the direction I have mentioned. If we were in a position to afford it, I would suggest going a little further, and giving even more in deserving cases, but we should no longer continue this wholesale disbursing of the taxpayers’ money to people who do not need it.
Will the Minister give some information in regard to sub-item 2 of subdivision 1, which relates to the maintenance of persons admitted to charitable institutions and hospitals in accordance with the Invalids and Old-age Pensions Act? The sum of £75,000 is provided in this connexion, but I was under the impression that this was a matter for” the States.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Bakhap).Order ! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- I am quite in accord with a good deal of what Senator Payne has said concerning the maternity allowance, and am of the opinion that in many isolated cases it would be better to spend the money in subsidizing hostels, erecting hospitals, or providing funds to assist bush nursing, instead of paying the allowance to the wives of men in receipt of, say, £400 per year and over. It has recently been my privilege to travel through the centre of Australia, and a strong case was submitted to me by the people of Alice Springs, which is approximately 400 miles from, the rail -head. Apart from the accommodation provided at the hospital of the Australian Inland Mission at Oodnadatta, there are no facilities available for the women in Central Australia., and the only means by which they can travel south from Alice Springs, unless their husbands should drive them down in a buggy, is by means of a camel in charge of an Afghan driver. No medical attention is available at Alice Springs, and there are other outside places in a similar position. If there is one institution which, above all others, is doing practical work in the bush in providing medical comforts for people who would otherwise be entirely without them, it is the Australian Inland Mission, run under the auspices of the Presbyterian Church. At the present time the Mission is engaged in the erection of a hostel at Alice Springs,- but it is making slow progress owing to lack of funds. The Mission desires to erect a hostel at Birdsville, in Queensland, which is even more isolated than is Alice Springs, inasmuch as the nearest telegraph or telephone is over 240 miles away. The Government should not find it difficult to expend much of the money now paid by way of maternity allowance to people who do not need it, to far greater advantage to the people of this country. When I was at one of the isolated places in the centre of Australia, a woman gave birth to twins, and, unfortunately, one of the babies’ died. At that place there was no medical attention obtainable, and practically no means of communication with the outside world. We are being continually reminded that if we are to progress as we should like to do, we must give more attention to the people in the back-blocks, and make their lives more comfortable for them. Great use is made of this cry at election time; but after an election it is forgotten until the next election comes around.
– I do not think that is so.
– I am not making any accusation against particular individuals.
– The honorable senator is probably describing his own experience.
– I may have been somewhat lax in the past in this matter; but having recently spent a few months travelling to out-back places, I can promise the Minister that my voice will be raised on every possible opportunity to secure for the people in the out-back districts some of the comforts which are available to those who live in centres of population. The Government might subsidize hostels and hospitals established by the Australian Inland Mission and other missions in the out-back places of Australia. It might be news to honorable senators to learn that, with the exception of the railway doctor, who travels up the line between Quorn and Oodnadatta, there is no medical attention available between Oodnadatta and Darwin, apart from that provided at the hostels established by the Australian Inland Mission. There is one at Oodnadatta, I have said that one is being erected at Alice Springs, and there is another at Marranboy, which is 300 or 400 miles south of Darwin. Marranboy is one of the worst fever centres in the Northern Territory, and because of an exceptionally wet season in the Territory fever has been more prevalent there this year than it has been for many years past. As a consequence, the work thrown upon the Australian Inland Mission’s hostel at Marranboy has~been very severe indeed. If honorable senators had an opportunity of seeing the work done by the Mission for the welfare and comfort of the sick and needy, they would be in full sympathy with the suggestion I have made. A £5 bonus is of little use to people living in those out-back districts, and it would be far better if some system were adopted which would enable them in times of need to secure £5 worth of comfort and medical attention. Honorable senators have expressed the opinion that the system of distributing the maternity allowance at present in force is a wrong one. They contend that those who are so fortunate as not to be in need of the allowance should not come to the Government for it. When the allowance was first introduced by the Fisher Government, I venture to say that the principle underlying it was that it should assist mothers bringing young Australians into the world who were not in a position to provide necessary comforts at the time of their birth.
– No, it was not.
– It never was intended to be given indiscriminately as it is today.
– The first claim for tho bonus was made by Andrew Fisher. That does not look as if .his intention was that it should be paid only to those who needed it.
– I do not blame the individual who accepts the bonus. It is the system that is wrong.
– Where would the honorable senator draw the line between those who need it and those who do not ?
– I would draw the line according to income. If the honorable senator, for instance, were to have an addition to his family, I would not say that he would be entitled to draw £5 from the Government. Why should the taxpayers, generally, be called upon to pay the maternity allowance to parents who are in no need of it?
– Because the children of other parents would be branded as “ Bonus Babies.”
– That is a cry which is continually raised.
– That is what caused the Fisher Government to decide that all should have the right to claim the allowance.
– I do not think that it should be paid indiscriminately, and I express the opinion that the money now expended in paying the allowance to parents who are in no need of it would be much better spent in subsidizing hospitals in out-back places or in subsidizing £1 for £1 funds raised by State or local authorities for the establishment of bush clinics, and for providing, medical attention and comforts for people in the bush.
Senator FOSTER (Tasmania) [8.40^. - There are two items to which I wish to direct attention. I should like to know who is responsible for parliamentary printing. I direct attention to the amount of printing that is done in connexion with the parliamentary debates and reports and papers of all sorts that are laid on the table. I do not know whether’ the number of copies printed of each paper is decided by the Printing Committee or by Government officials, but I do consider that a tremendous amount of money is wasted every year in printing. Some little time ago, between three and four tons of papers were carted from this building in loads. Some six months ag,- honorable senators were circularized by the Government Printer, o* some one in charge of the Department, asking whether they wanted certain papers or reports sent to them regularly, as there was a legitimate endeavour to cut down the number of copies printed of certain papers. Some attention might be given to this Department to see whether all the printing that is now done is necessary.
There is another matter to which I should like to refer, and which has been dealt with on a number of occasions by Senator Earle. The honorable senator tells me that he is getting tired of trying to induce the Government to do something in connexion with this matter. I refer to the maintenance of persons admitted to
State charitable institutions and hospitals under the provisions of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act. When the pension was lower than it is to-day, an amount was paid to the State Governments for the maintenance of old-age and invalid pensioners in State Government institutions. Senator Earle has repeatedly raised the question that with the increased cost of living, and of everything that old-age pensioners have to buy, we should be able to do something more than allow them the same amount of 2s. per week as pocketmoney that was allowed them ten years ago. These poor old chaps have to buy a little tobacco and other things, the cost of which is 100 per cent, more than it was some time ago, and on this account they should be given consideration. We may very well ask the Government to direct their attention to this matter, and see whether the State institutions could not make available to old-age and invalid pensioners in their care a little more than 2s. per week out of the amount allowed them by the Commonwealth Treasurer, or, failing that, whether some other arrangement may not be made to give these poor old people a little extra pocketmoney.
.- As a member of the Printing Committee, I can assure SenatorFoster that the Committee has cut down printing as much as it possibly could. It has to be remembered that papers are very often sent to the Committee which have been ordered to be printed by the Senate. Many papers which are ordered to be printed have to be set up in type in any case, and, therefore the cost of a few extra copies is not very great. The Printing Committee, however, keeps a watchful eye over this matter, and the quantity of printing is kept down as low as possible.
– Attention was drawn by Senator Payne to the increase in the proposed appropriation for the Taxation Department. The total increase for the year is £35,000, but against that there are some items which more than balance that amount. First of all, there is the amount due for the payment of the salaries of the Western Australian taxation officer’s, but, owing to the decision to amalgamate the two services there, the necessary money has to be appropriated under this Bill. The automatic increments to officers amount to £11,800, and the nonautomatic increases to £2,000, making a total of £13,800. There is also the difference between the full year’s expenditure for the basic wage allowances, including child endowment, which is £6,000, of. £41,000 for the three items mentioned, making about £6,000 more than the increase of £35,000. In the Taxation Department the number of assessments have increased by 25 per cent; and that necessarily involves additional work. I do not think anybody has discovered a means of collecting taxes without employing tax collectors, and an increased number of these officers have been engaged. Allowing for all the circumstances, I do mot think the increased expenditure can be cavilled at. Probably the general opinion is that some improvement in the distribution of the maternity bonus is possible, but there is very little agreement as to how that improvement is to be achieved. Many people think that the provision of actual attendance and facilities at the time of child-birth would be better than a cash payment, but it is not easy to devise an alternative system. The matter seems to me to be of sufficient importance to justify me in placing before my colleagues the views expressed here, which, I gather, have some measure of support among honorable senators. A question was askedregarding the vote of £75,000 for the maintenance of persons admitted to charitable institutions and hospitals, in accordance with the provisions of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Acts.
– Is the whole of that paid to the State Governments?
– Not to the State Governments alone, but to any hospital or institution which might be receiving these patients.
– Whether private or State owned?
– There are institutions which are private in the sense that they are not controlled by the State. I am told that every State institution or institution subsidized by the State is entitled to receive the payment. There is an appropriation in existence with authority to pay these sums into Trust accounts, but this particular matter is not so covered, and it is necessary each year to seek separate appropriation by Parliament. Senator Foster ba3 referred to the printing of parliamentary papers. That is a very old subject of discussion. There have been very many, as Senator Reid has said, and, I believe, largely successful, efforts to keep the printing bill down ; but there are difficulties in the way. It is never possible to estimate exactly how many papers of a particular kind will be required. On some occasions every honorable senator will want a certain paper. I have frequently looked at the title of a paper, and immediately consigned it to the waste paper basket, but very frequently I come across a paper containing information that is valuable to me. After all, is the item a big one for Parliament. Comparatively speaking, the figures are moderate when we consider the vast amount of official and other matter that has to be printed, if only to be placed on record. Apart from the careful supervision of the Printing Committee, I know of no way of more successfully policing this vote.
– I should like to know why it is that the Defence Department, with such a large fund at its disposal, does not try to obtain a higher rate of interest than I have already cited. I notice that the Auditor-General’s report states -
Interest on fixed, deposit with Commonwealth Bank amounted to £165,000 in 1920-21, as compared with £187,000 in 1919-20. This represents the interest on fixed deposit of amounts totalling £7,000,000. During 1920-21, the rate of interest received on £5,000,000 was 2 per cent., and on £2,000,000 the rates of 3J per cent, for six months and 3 per cent, for six months. The deposit of £5,000,000 was renewed for a period of six months at 2 per cent, from the 5th June, 1921, and deposits totalling £2,000,000 were renewed for a period of three months at 3 per cent, from 1st September, 1921.
There is a constant supply of money known as surplus balances, and they are renewed from year to year. The best interest shown in the report is from 2 to 3 per cent. The ex-Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) stated in his Budget speech that the latest information from England was that money was becoming cheaper, and that short-dated loans could be obtained as low as 3f per cent., while three months bills were only 4
– The Common* wealth Treasury cannot go in for the pawnbroking business. That is not what the banks will pay for deposits.
– If more than 2 or 3 per cent, cannot be obtained, I have nothing to say; but it is the duty of the Government to get more if possible. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) was the central figure in a financial arrangement with Great Britain for the loan to the Commonwealth of £89,000,000, for which Australia had to pay 6 per cent, interest. I would like to know in what time the total loan will be liquidated. Is it not possible to invest some of the floating and accruing balances in the Old Country, thereby relieving the Treasury of the very high, rates of exchange that must necessarily be charged? If the Minister is in need of a precedent, I may refer him to New Zealand, where the Treasurer acknowledges, with appreciable gratitude, that he has a large sum invested in London, whereby his financial arrangements are much more easily adjusted through having the money invested there instead of in New Zealand.
– It was mentioned by Senator Lynch that I had omitted to answer a question put by him. I regret having overlooked the point when I spoke previously’. < With regard to the rate of interest that the Government is receiving on its deposits, I would remind Senator Lynch, as Senator Crawford has already done by interjection, that even a banker must live, and that the rate which he charges when he lends money is not the rate which he pays when he borrows it. There is a difference in the two rates, and that difference has to be taken into account. There is a further fact which applies particularly to the Government investments. The Government, when it made these deposits with the banks, had a right to withdraw them at any moment. They were practically deposits at call, and no one expects that deposits at call will earn the same rate of interest as fixed deposits.
– These deposits were for three months.
– Yes: but the Commonwealth had an arrangement that, if the necessity arose, it could break the stipulation, and call the money in. The Treasury officials are as keenly alive to the value of their money as 13 any one else, and they made at the time the best arrangement that seemed possible to them. It is true that they did not need to break these deposits, as money came in from other quarters, but they fully expected they would have to do so when they made the arrangements. It is always easier to size up a problem when you. look at it after the event. It is not quite so easy, beforehand, to determine what is the best course to pursue. I think the Committee will credit the officials with seeking to obtain the ‘best possible price for the money. They made, in the circumstances, a very fair arrangement. The right to break the deposit, and call the money in, would have been of great value to the country if the necessity had arisen.
Senator Lynch also asks for information regarding tha period of the loan arranged when I was in London. He mentioned a payment of 6 per cent. I remind him that that figure includes sinking fund. The great bulk of the loan will be repaid in thirty-five years as a result of the sinking fund contained in the 6 per cent, payment. Small amounts will be wiped out earlier. Senator Lynch suggested the advisability of investing some of the balances that we have in Australia in London in order to steady the exchange rates. The trouble. is that these balances are in Australia; the Commonwealth has no loose balances in London.
– The Commonwealth is paying interest to the British Government.
– The exchange difficulty comes in when you try to get to London money which, is available here.
– It is only a book entry if the British Government gives you credit for interest.
– It is not a book entry. The British Government says, “ You ewe us £1,000,000.” We may have £1,000,000 in Australia, but it is not a book entry to get it to London. It is an actual transfer of the money from Australia to London. It is to avoid the heavy expense ‘of exchange that ar rangements have been made from time to time to raise money in London for the purpose of paying the British Government. In any case, it is’ clear that, we cannot invest money in London that is in Australia. The Exchange market being as it is, we would lose more by the exchange than we would gain by the transaction. I am quite certain, if I know anything of the Treasury officials, that if they could see a chance of doing what Senator Lynch suggests, it would have been done long ago. When I was in London, it was necessary, because of the exchange difficulty, to ask the Imperial Government to allow the payment of interest then due or two bills to stand over for six months and twelve months. The money was here in Australia, as it had been put by regularly year after year. By the end of the period mentioned, it was hoped that the exchange would have become stabilized. That baa not happened, unfortunately. That hope was like many hopes which cheer the heart for the time being, but under the crucial test, which comes from the lapse of time, take wings and fly away. The hope did not prove well-founded ; but owing to the great consideration of the British Government we were relieved from what otherwise would have been a very difficult and pressing obligation if we had been required to raise the money at that juncture.
.- I would like to obtain some information from the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) as to what is being done by the Treasury Department in buying in war bonds on the open market. I think the statement has been made in another place that a certain amount of stock has been bought in by the Government on the open market at the ruling market rates. It is a very good investment for the Government, and the practice should be continued! As far as I have been able to ascertain, the only two markets on which these operations are carried out are Melbourne and Sydney. If this practice is continued the war loan will be quoted at a higher rate in Sydney and Melbourne than in the other States, which will give the investors in those cities an unfair advantage over those in other parts of Australia. As far as I am aware, no operations have been carried out in Brisbane, Adelaide, or the other markets. If the Government is going to continue the practice, and I suppose it is, I hope it will not confine its purchasing to certain markets, thus giving the bond-holders on those particular exchanges an advantage over others. The repurchasing of Government bonds should be carried out on all exchanges where brokers operate in them.
– The value of the bonds repurchased by the Government is approximately £3,000,000. It is not quite correct to say that the only markets operated upon are in Sydney and Melbourne. The principal city in Senator Foil’s State has also experienced the operations ‘of the Government, but I do not think it is necessary or desirable to pursue that topic, seeing that the very purpose of the Government’s purchasing is to steady the market. The operations will fail to achieve their object if the Government issues a proclamation declaring when and where it will purchase.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £108,000, agreed to.
Home and Territories Department.
Proposed vote, £771,788.
.- Quite a considerable sum of money is included in the vote for the Home and Territories Department for the administration of the Northern Territory. I desire to bring under the notice of the Minister, and honorable senators generally, one or two anomalies which I consider exist in that Territory. I want, first of all, to deal with the question of the police. After having come into contact with a great many members of the Commonwealth Police Force in the Territory, I am satisfied that they are men who will compare favorably with the members of any other police force in Australia. They are desirous of carrying out their duties to the best of their ability, but I am sorry to say that in a number of cases the accommodation provided for them is nothing short of a disgrace. In several places which members of the Public Works Committee visited the Police Force were living in humpies that any one in the town would not have put a pig in. They are mostly stone and mud humpies, it being too expensive to take iron there. The roofs are in some cases iron and in some cases thatch. The members who went on that trip formed the opinion that the accommodation provided by the Government was very unsatisfactory. There are a number of men belonging to the Police Force in the Territory who are stationed within reach of civilization, at least sufficiently close to enable them to take their wives out with them. It is absolutely impossible, however, to take a woman to some of the humpies that are supplied by the Government for the police to live in. I refer particularly to the conditions at Frew River, about fifteen miles from Hatches Creek, where the wolfram was obtained during the war. When the wolfram fields, were in full operation there were from forty to fifty, and sometim.es more, men working there, and the policeman, being mines’ warden and protector of aborigines, in addition to carrying other responsibilities, was kept very busy. Living in the Territory, isolated from one’s fellows, is bad enough at any time, and it is the duty of the Administration to see that these men, who serve this country so well, have at least all the comfort it is possible to give them. The Frew River Police Station and one or two other places that we visited are a disgrace to civilization. The dwellings are not fit for men to live in. The duties of the police in the Territory are very arduous at any time. Their beats cover hundreds of miles, and on many occasions they have to go out from the main station after aborigines who have been cattle stealing or cattle spearing. They have to cover hundreds of miles of what is practically uncharted country, and for the whole of that time they are in the hands of the black boy. It is only fair that when these men do return to their main station they should have some measure of comfort.
It is the duty of the Government, as soon as possible, to substitute a buggy mail service between Oodnadatta and Alice Springs. In my remarks on the Treasury Department, I pointed out that the only means of reaching the rail-head from. Alice Springs is by camel, a most uncomfortable method of travelling. If a buggy mail service were established it would, no doubt, be more expensive, but the people would feel that they were in touch with civilization to a much greater extent than at present.
– How would they get horses over the dry stages?
– I realize that at times it might be necessary to use camels, but, generally speaking, a buggy mail service could be established, because private buggies go up and down constantly.
– What is the distance?
– About 340 miles.
– Consider the relays of horses that would be necessary. They could not do more than 20 miles a day.
– I do not think it would be necessary to have many relays, because grass-fed horses in that part of the country are able to travel long distances. Members of our party were able to do nearly 200 miles on horseback in one week. Formerly a buggy used to run on that route, but of late years camels have been used.
– Would not a buggy mail service be much more expensive ?
– I think it would j but the people out these are justified in expecting a little more expenditure to insure their comfort. Only a few days ago the Government accepted tenders for an aerial mail service between the capital cities of the Commonwealth. Surely the existing arrangements, which include express trains daily, are sufficient without the addition of an aerial . mail service. The Government might very well provide aerial mail services for these out-back places.
– Order! I remind honorable senators that all mail services are dealt with under the PostmasterGeneral’s Department.
– In view of the fact that practically every Department in the Territory is indirectly under the control of the Home and Territories Department, I think my remarks are in order. However, I shall leave the matter.
I come now to the trouble that has arisen owing to the outbreak of citrus canker in Darwin. Dr. Hill was sent from the south to inquire into the position, and he immediately ordered the destruction of the whole of the fruit trees, with-, out distinction, from between 100 and 150 miles south of Darwin, down to Alice Springs, a distance of about 900 miles. Urgent representations were made by Senator Newland to the Government, with the result that the fruit trees in the vicinity of Alice Springs have been spared. There was absolutely no rhyme or reason in the order to destroy all the fruit trees down to Alice Springs simply because fruit trees in the vicinity of Darwin were affected by the canker. This is one of those things that hulk very largely in the eyes of people living in such isolated places. Although they may appear trifling matters to those who enjoy all the privileges of living in civilization, yet to people out-back these .pinpricks become genuine causes for complaint. These incidents prove how impossible it is to deal with the Territory as a whole unless sound common sense is exercised.
Another matter of some importance is the fact that this year there has been a great deal of malaria in certain portions of the Territory. Several cases were brought under my notice during our recent visit. We were informed that if the mailmen who travel through the feverinfected districts and come in contact with settlers and drovers on the road were supplied with a stock of quinine they would be able to save the lives of many people who are stricken with the fever, which is worse this year than ever before, owing to the excessive wet weather. One mailman who approached me at the Katherine River stated that, as he had to travel from 70 to 100 miles through some of the worst fever-infected territory, he had made application for a medicine chest, including quinine, in order that he might be able to relieve sufferers along his route, but his request was refused. I hope all these matters will be carefully considered* by the Government, because the people living in these isolated parts of the Commonwealth are just as good Australians as are people living in Sydney or Melbourne. Indeed, they deserve more consideration, because they have the courage to face all the hardships of life out-back. It is my intention on every occasion that presents itself to raise my voice on their behalf, in the hope that I may be able, to some extent, to alleviate their sufferings and remove their disabilities.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– No doubt, honorable senators are pleased to get information at first hand from an honorable senator who has visited the Northern Territory. I have always believed that there are two classes of people there - one class, by reason of their energy .and determination to make productive those areas that are so far afield, fit for an earthly heaven; and another class, which I do not know how to place at present. I have been waiting to hear if Senator Foll had anything to say to this latter class during his recent visit.
– My time was exhausted, so I was unable to tell the Senate.
– One class of people in the Territory are, as I said, a credit to this country; but unfortunately another group, gathered from the eas£ and from the west, have by their actions brought ruin to many established industries, discredit to the Territory itself, and injury to their own cause. Wot long ago the Administrator, Mr. Staniforth Smith, who was appointed by this Government, sent down a bulky report, in which he referred to everything except the one tiling he should have mentioned, namely, the duty of the Administration towards those who have been carrying on in such a way as to bring about the closing down of the meat works established there, and interference with shipping and other industries, all in the name of labour. Then these people talk about no taxation without representation! No wonder Madame Roland exclaimed, “ 0 ! Liberty ! Liberty! How ,many crimes are committed in thy name” These people at Darwin, who claim that there should be no taxation without representation, pay no taxes at all. They have to be haled before the Courts to do what people in the other parts of the Commonwealth do so cheerfully. What is the Commonwealth doing for them ? It , is virtually shovelling money into the Territory. It is about time this Parliament faced the facts. If we strike a line across the continent from the Indian to the Pacific Ocean, cutting the Territory in two, we shall find that both on the east and on the west, in Queensland and Western Australia respectively, there are areas, as isolated as in the Northern Territory, well settled by an industrious band of pioneers.
– And they are just as isolated as people in the Territory.
– These people in Darwin talk about no taxation without representation. I should like to reverse the position, and say that there should be no representation without the payment of taxation. Here is the publication for which the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) has such an immortal dread - the Auditor-General’s report.
– Not at all. I consider it very interesting, light reading !
– What does it tell us about the Northern Territory, this place that is crying out for representation as if the residents there had not enough gift of the gab to be able to tell us all about their real and imaginary grievances? On page 77 of the’ Auditor-General’s report we find that this blessed place known as the Northern Territory - if ever there was a favoured place in the Commonwealth it is the Northern Territory - is in a most peculiarly unenviable position.
– The honorable senator is not regarding Darwin as the Northern Territory.
– Not at all. The Territory wants to be cleared of those individuals who never work, who have been responsible for the meat works closing down, making ships leave the port with cargoes unloaded, and the name of the Territory being regarded as a place for every man of industry and talent to avoid. v We find that in three years the total revenue, everything included, for 1919-20 was £86,000, and the total expenditure £343,000, or equal to a payment of £4 for every £1 received from the Territory. In 1920-21 the revenue declined to £73,000, and the mo[ney expended was £353,000, clearly showing that for every £1 received from the Territory these people who are asking for representation here have received £5 in return. I am “glad that the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Poynton) spoke, as he is entitled to speak, in a decided way. It is useless asking these men to pull their weight, or to shoulder their share of the burden, although people in corresponding locations and further south are working longer hours and very much harder, and have to deny themselves in order that the taxes upon others may be lessened. Here is another interesting point. We are paying interest on their debt to the extent of £90,000, which, if added to the deficit,* approximates £400,000 in this blessed region known as the Northern Territory. This is a serious matter, which gives clear proof that something must be done. It is time the Government dropped its policy of “coddling,” and discontinued its practice of paying fares to and from the Territory, when it is a place that should be peopled. This and previous Governments - particularly the Labour Government of which I was a supporter - must shoulder their share of the responsibility. I supported the Labour policy, and all those who did were undoubtedly and unquestionably in a great measure to blame for the state of affairs which has prevailed. This Government should not have followed in their footsteps, but I am supporting them in the belief that they will not pander to these people as has been the policy in the past-.
The Government should anticipate the future by constructing a railway from Queensland to some suitable port in Western Australia. I do not mention that for the sake of helping Western Australia in the least; but I believe it would be ‘an easy means of getting stock from the Territory to the east or to the west when the Territory is hard pressed for feed, and an easy outlet to the sea. It would provide easy means of access te the sea, because there are ports in the north-west of Queensland and in the north of the western State quite equal to any to be found on the Australian coast. It would be a means of developing that great country. The American people construct their railways, and expect the people to follow them, and that is the policy which Canada is adopting to-day. The Government could go on the market to-morrow, and, as I have previously suggested, raise a loan” in New York to enable the construction of such a railway to be undertaken.
Let us take another matter. I have been informed by those who are prospecting for oil in the north of Western Australia that the policy of the Federal Government is most illiberal in this direction. Men who (have been prospecting in the north of the western State have reached the boundary of the Territory, and on inquiring as to the conditions which prevail, have found that the Commonwealth Government provide little encouragement for those in search of oil as compared with the con- ditions which exist in Western Australia. I have been informed by Mr. Freeney that the prospects in Western Australia are exceedingly bright, but those who desire to exploit oil-bearing country in the Northern Territory, where the prospects should be equally encouraging, are hampered because the Commonwealth Government have placed unnecessary obstacles in their way.
– -What are the obstacles ?
– They found that the conditions were not so favorable as in Western Australia. I was surprised when I was notified concerning the actual position. I have also received communications recently concerning oil prospecting in New Guinea and elsewhere, which prove conclusively that the Government should overhaul their policy, and give prospectors an opportunity to work in that Territory.
So far as it is possible I want my views to reach the people in the Northern Territory, because I should like them to know that it is time they got down to work in the same way as men did in Northern Queensland when I was there thirty years ago, and when the cream of Australia, was gathered there. Those men assisted in making Queenland what it is to-day. They were not the devotees of any Lenin and Trotsky policy. Some of these people in the Northern Territory say that they will not pay their taxes, and they have the impudence to ask for representation in this Parliament. My suggestion is that they should be allowed to send a representative down here without a vote, who should be allowed to blow off his gas as long as he liked, but in the other Chamber. That may be something in the nature of a remedy, although I have not much faith in it. One thing that is needed is the constant launching of a declaration to these people that they must work if they expect to prosper. I would make them do their work, and let them understand once and for all that they are no longer to be “ coddled.” Let them consider the hardships that are being experienced by the men living in their humpies on the mining areas and in the lean-to shanties on the farms, and who are subject to conditions infinitely worse than they have ever undergone. As I -have said, there are two classes of people in the Territory - the highest and the lowest. They are there to do their work as other people are doing theirs. In Western Australia and in Northern Queensland men are working much harder, and under ‘ infinitely worse conditions than those in the Territory. Work we call it! The Territory has been under the control of the Commonwealth since 1911, and I gave my vote to assist the Commonwealth in assuming control in the belief that it would be a territory that would prosper under new administration. The men” there, however, appear to think that they are the dog, and we who find the money the tail.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- I intended referring to the attitude of the men whom. Senator Lynch has mentioned, but I am sure it would be impossible for me to deal with them in a more able manner than the honorable senator has done. I do not want it to be thought that the Northern Territory is Port Darwin, or that Port Darwin is the Northern Territory, because, irrespective of how Senator Lynch can express himself concerning some of the elements in Port Darwin, there are people in the southern portion of the Northern Territory who can express themselves much better than he can concerning Darwin and some of its inhabitants. There are men in the Territory to-day of the old pioneering type, who went out in the early days, and who battled along against drought and all kinds of adversities. Senator Lynch referred to the extreme Labour element, which appears to be in control, and to the disadvantages experienced in consequence of the refusal of men to handle meat at the works at a reasonable figure, which has contributed largely to that establishment being closed at present. On the other hand, I do not hold Vestey Bros, altogether free from blame, because right through they have apparently been afraid to stand up to some of the Labour leaders. Whenever a strike was threatened, and a request was made for increased wages, Vestey Bros, complied; and this weakness can also be attributed to the Railway Department, but to a less degree. There has never been an instance when any fight has been shown by the authorities opposed to Labour.
– Was that not during the war time?
– Yes. Frequently the men waited until a boat was to be loaded, and the meat was in the refrigerating cars alongside the ships, before they made their request, because they knew that the meat could not remain in the cars longer than a few hours without being spoilt. It was at such times that they submitted their ultimatum, and Vestey Bros felt compelled to give in. The railway authorities were in control of the wharf at the time.
– Does the honorable senator blame them? They had no option.
– I do not hold them blameless; but, of course, during the war time delays had to be avoided, as meat was in great demand. But what was the result? The cost of handling goods at Port Darwin was increased from a few shillings to £8 per ton; and if honorable senators care toperuse the figures, they will be absolutely astounded.
– Why did not the people at Port Darwin do the work themselves ?
– They were not sufficient in number. Until there is a much bigger population at Darwin, I do not see much hope for improvement in the conditions at that place. At the same time, honorable senators should not run away with the idea that every one in Darwin is tainted with Bolshevik principles. There are as good people in Darwin and other parts of the Northern Territory as are to be found anywhere else in the Commonwealth. I met people in the Territory whom I would be as pleased to invite to my home as I would any one in any other part of Australia. A few individuals have obtained control because no one stood up to them. They have now such an exaggerated idea of their own importance that they think that no one will stand up to them. Senator Lynch has pointed out that Mr. Staniforth Smith pampered them instead of standing up to them. As a consequence, amongst a certain section in Darwin he is regarded as the greatest Administrator the Territory has ever had, but we met people at the Katherine River and Alice Springs, many miles south of Darwin, who hold a very different opinion of the administration of Mr. Staniforth Smith. Senator Lynch referred to the revenue obtained from the Northern Territory, and it may interest honorable senators to know that there are runs on the rich Barclay Tableland extending 1,000 square miles in the Northern Territory and 1,000 square miles over the border in Queensland. The big pastoral companies holding these runs are paying from 3s. to 4s. per square mile as rent to the Commonwealth Government, and as much as 17s. 6d. per square mile to the Queensland Government for exactly similar country.
So far as the political representation of the Northern Territory is concerned, it would be a good thing if it were given representation in another place. There is a section in the Northern Territory who say that they will not pay taxes unless they are given representation in this Parliament, but they would not pay taxes if they had a dozen representatives here. The demand for representation is not, however, confined to them. There is a strong feeling of resentment amongst the people of the Northern Territory because they are not treated as are the rest of the people of Australia. Honorable senators may be under theimpression that if the Northern Territory were given representation in this Parliament they would send down a fiery Bolshevik as their representative. I do not think that they would. I think they would elect a representative who would give expression to their views in a calm and dispassionate way. I am glad that I was privileged to meet so many people of the Territory. The number of those who are refusing to pay taxes and posing as martyrs is comparatively small. There are many residents of the Northern Territory who pay taxes and are good citizens desirous of helping the Commonwealth Government in the great problem of administering the Territory, who still feel very strongly that they have a right to be represented here. I have seen a good deal of the Northern Territory, and I know the task confronting the Minister charged with its administration. It is not my intention to indulge in criticism of the administration unless I am in a position to suggest how it can be improved. It is easy to criticise, but in dealing with the administration of the
Northern Territory its. difficulties should be borne in mind. It may not seem very much to us to grant the franchise to the people there, but if it were granted on the terms indicated by ‘Senator Lynch, and they were given a representative without a v6te in another place, it would diminish unrest, and would remove one of the causes put forward by a section of the community there as a reason why they should not pay taxes and obey the laws of the Commonwealth. I commend my views on the Territory to the consideration of theMinister.
. One matter associated with the Northern Territory has not been touched on tonight. I refer to the treatment by” the present Government of Judge Bevan and Mr. Carey. The matter was mentioned in Parliament, and the head and ‘front of their offending was said to be that they had deserted their posts. That reason for the action of the Government in relieving them of their offices has been absolutely and substantially disproved.
– Did the Government remove them from their offices on Mr. Justice Ewing ‘s report?
– Judging by answers to questions which I put to Ministers at the time, the Government appeared to disbelieve altogether in Mr. Justice Ewing’s report, and based their dismissal of these officers solely on the fact, as they contended, that they had deserted their posts contrary to the instructions of the Government. Judge Bevan brought an action against the Government, which was settled by the payment of a large sum of money which the general taxpayers are called upon to furnish.
– The Government did not allow the action to go into Court.
– Knowing that they were hopelessly in the wrong, the Government never attempted to defend the case, but paid up. As honorable senators are aware, Mr. Carey’s action was brought the other day, and the Government made a pretence of defending that. But they did not call a single witness to support their defence that this man had deserted his post. Honorable senators have only to read the statements made by Mr. Justice Higgins, when delivering judgment, to see what a flimsy, tissuepaper charge was made against these officers.
– Carey admitted that he cleared out.
– Why did Carey drop his claim for wrongful dismissal ?
– Because the Government had the right to dismiss.
– Because the Government had the right to determine his service at any time. The Judge said that he would never have brought his action at all if his claim to allowances had not been disputed. What he was out to do was to establish, and he and Judge Bevan have established it beyond a shadow of a doubt, that these men did not . go away from their post in disobedience of orders of the Government, but rather in obedience to the commands of the Minister then in charge of the Northern Territory, who is, apparently, at all costs, endeavouring to get out of the difficulty into which he led these officers.
– When the mob rushed him Carey cleared out.
– He certainly did.
– He was a coward, and wanted kicking.
– He had direct instructions from the Minister for Home and Territories of the day to do so.
– The mob cleared him out before the Minister instructed him.
– He was able to convince the Court, and the Commonwealth Government were not able to convince the Court to the contrary, that he left in obedience to the Minister’s orders.
– Did he leave under the same conditions as Judge Bevan left?
– Exactly the same.
– Then why did the Commonwealth pay up when Judge Bevan brought his action against them?
– The commissions of the two officers were different. The Judge was appointed for life, whilst Mr. Carey’s appointment was during pleasure. The Government could have removed Mr. Carey at any time, but they had no right to remove the Judge. They would have had the right, if their defence that these officers left their posts could have been substantiated. They were never able to substantiate it, and never made any real use of that defence in Court. They put it. up and then ran away from it. It is an extraordinary thing that tho very remedy which Judge Bevan recommended to the Government to bring about order in Darwin, namely, the suspension for the time being of the right of trial by jury, has since been adopted by the Government in that place. That was the head and front of the charge made against Judge Bevan by the union officials at the inquiry by Mr. Justice Ewing. If the Government are going to treat their officers in this way, how can they expect any decent administration from their officials? They endeavoured to carry out their duties.
– They made a very mean endeavour.
– They did not carry them out. The whole trouble was that they were ordered by the mob to clear out, and they did so, instead of standing up to the mob.
– If the Government had carried out Judge Bevan’s recommendation at the time, as they have since done, and suspended trial by jury for a time, the Judge, the Magistrates, and the police would have been able to get the disorderly element in hand.
– They might have done that, but Carey cleared out.
– That is not what the Court said.
– I do not care twopence what the Court said. I know what was said by people who were on the spot.
– It was open to the Government to prove their assertion, and they did not prove it in open Court.
– They could not do so.
– I suggest to the Government that the only graceful thing they can now do is to crawl down completely, as they have done in the Court, and admit that these officers withdrew in accordance with instructions.
– I am sorry that they, were ever given a copper.
– There are certain people who will always kick a man when he is down. If the Government have been una’ble to substantiate the charge they should withdraw it and rehabilitate this man in the eyes of the people.
– There are some people who always seem to think that the Government are in the wrong, and they take the side of those who have a dispute with the Government. There are certain members of Parliament who seldom speak unless to point out what they regard as the faults of the Government. I am going to’ dismiss the observations of Mr. Justice Higgins. A member of Parliament is not allowed to pass free comment upon a Judge unless he is prepared to conclude with a motion. That is a considerable handicap, and it gives protection, as was intended, to members of the Judiciary. I do not accept the words even of a Judge as infallible, and there are occasions when the personal feelings of a Judge may shape his utterances. It is altogether wrong, and not in conformity with common sense, to say that the Government failed in the case in which it was recently the defendant. The claim was for wrongful dismissal, but the claimant did not succeed on that point. He withdrew that claim, and succeeded with regard to some allowances for expenses, a claim which was never submitted to the Govern.ment at all. To call that a victory is to give words a meaning which they do not carry in the minds of ordinary individuals. Something has been said as to whether these people stood fast by their job out there. If they did stand as the defenders of the outposts of our Empire, then God help the Empire! They were told by a humane Minister, certainly, to stand fast, but not to take undue risks, and they followed that part of the instructions. They took mighty good care not to risk their skins.
– Was there not some statement in the press that they were put on board ship?
– It was not necessary for them to be put on ‘board.
– Their luggage was put on board.
– Why did not the Government establish these facts? If they could have done so, they would not have had to pay the allowances.
– It was not necessary. Apart from the question of wrongful dismissal, the claim would no doubt have been entertained, but when the claimant said he was the victim of a gross injustice the Government objected to being “bluffed.” Ti he had merely asked for expenses he would no doubt have been treated with a reasonable measure of liberality.
– What about the compensation to the Judge?
– That matter is on a totally different footing. One was appointed for life, and the other’s appointment was terminable at pleasure.
– Why was compensation paid to the Judge?
– Because, in that case, the Government thought it just, while in the case of this claimant we did not. If the Government paid everything that was demanded of them by gamesters of this description they . would often be called corrupt. The claimant recognised the impossibility of his position by withdrawing that portion of his claim relating to wrongful dismissal.
.- There is an item of £20,000 for the investigation of oil-fields. Last year the expenditure was £15,000. It would be interesting to know what are the probable results of the operations proposed for the ensuing financial year. I feel sure that the general community would support the Government in a large expenditure if there, was a reasonable chance of discovering oil. I notice, under the heading of “ Miscellaneous,” that last year we voted £9,000 for the conveyance of members of Parliament, and we are now asked to vote £17,000. A month or two ago this question was mentioned here, and I think the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen> stated that the State Railway authorities had demanded a larger sum annually for the conveyance of members of the Federal Parliament over the railways. As there is such a wide margin between the two items an explanation seems desirable.
– An intimation was given some time ago that some difficulty had arisen between the States and the Commonwealth over the charge per head to be paid by the Commonwealth Government for the conveyance of members of the National Parliament. Originally the amount was £60, and the States now ask £120. Negotiations are in progress, but finality has not yet been reached. As to exploration in Papua for oil, the Australian Government and the Imperial authorities each undertook to find £50,000 for the investigation, and the AngloPersian Oil Company was the agent for carrying it out. Some search has been made, but so far the results have not been entirely encouraging. In the meantime, the British Government have expressed a desire to withdraw from the arrangement, and have offered to sell their share of £50,000, which was largely represented by plant, to the Commonwealth Government for £25,000. We are disposed to accept that offer, and some means of obtaining the concurrence of “Parliament in that matter will be sought. In the meanwhile the operations are going on as a responsibility of this Government alone. The present operations are .being confined to our own New Guinea. Some geological surveys have been made, and are being made, in what was recently German territory. That, is the information as I have it.
– ‘Can the Minister give any particulars as to what are the conditions governing oil prospecting in the Northern Territory?
– I have none available.
– I desire to thank the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) for the information he has given, but would suggestto him that it is a very unwise procedure to provide a larger sum of money for the conveyance of members of Parliament over the State railways than was spent last year. The negotiations with the State Railway Departments are pending, and the very fact of providing an additional sum this year may lead to the State Departments standing firm in their demands. I think it is a mistaken policy to increase the Estimates this year by even £1 above the actual expenditure of last ‘year. The Treasurer, from his advance, could meet any contingency which might arise under a new agreement. This vote is practically inviting the State Departments to press their demand for a considerable increase. I am of opinion that- the State Railway Departments are paid amply for the services they render to the Commonwealth. Some members of the Federal Parliament use the railways very little.
– If the first contract was correct, there is an argument in favour of an increase in the fact that fares and rates of wages have gone up very greatly in the meantime.
– The State Railway Department is assured of a large sum annually, whether members of Parliament travel or not. Some regard ought to be .paid by the State Governments to the need for the Federal Government making ends meet. The Federal Government is charged the same per head for each member as is paid by a private individual .travelling between capital and’ capital every week. It is rarely that I have a trip to another capital. I may have one or two in a year; yet the Federal Government is paying for my conveyance over the railways as much as would be paid by a private individual travelling every week.
– Is that the basis of payment ?
– I understand so.
– Then it is pretty rough. I usually do not go to Queensland until the end of the session.
– I think the Government has been very unwise in making this extra provision before the negotiations had been completed.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Defence - Military. Proposed vote £1,623,000. Senator FOLL (Queensland) [10.22]. - I want to bring under the notice of the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) and the Government the position as I see it in regard to the present method of compulsory training.^ I consider that the method adopted of training lads before they leave school, and up to the age of eighteen years, when they enter the Senior Cadets, is doing very little good for compulsory training or for the defence of the country. I know that that is a serious statement to make, but, having watched the matter closely, I think I am safe in saying that very little military experience is gained by the boys during the early stages of their training, and that if the training were abolished until they had reached the age of eighteen years it would be very much better for the lads themselves and for the country. »
– What about the physical development of the lads?
– I anticipated that one of the first questions that would be raised would relate to physical development. I think that the average young Australian supplies himself with quite a considerable quantity of physical development. He leads an outdoor, healthy life, and takes part in school sports, running, cricket, and football. It was clearly shown by the stamina of members of the Australia Imperial Force that the Australian lad is second to none in physical development.
– Many of those lads were developed by compulsory training.
– Generally speaking, the Light Horse Regiments were composed of men who came from the country and had no previous military training. They lived an outdoor, healthy life, and when they were asked to answer the call of their country, they very quickly became proficient soldiers. At present the training consists in making the boys “ Form fours,” “Salute,” “Bight turn,” and “ Left turn “ - evolutions which have very little, although they have some, usefulness in the making of a soldier. So far as the handling of a rifle is concerned, I do not consider that the boy gets any benefit at all from his training. Although what I am saying may make me unpopular in certain sections of the community, I arn risking that. I think the training of the lads is doing very little good, and that the country is getting hardly any return for the expenditure. The Department is now issuing new uniforms, consisting of a pair of shorts, gymnasium shoes, and a khaki jumper. One can see the boys wearing the shoes and the khaki jumpers to work in, and for fishing, and I think it would be possible to find them swimming in them. The present system of training deserves the earnest consideration of the -Ministry. A lad of eighteen can be quickly knocked into shape and ‘ turned into a soldier, but too much training at an earlier age, instead of making the lads fond of being soldiers, makes them despise military training. One has only to notice the cases in which the training is dodged to perceive that, in many cases, it is distasteful to the lads.
– Training is often, dodged by grown-up people as well.
– Those are the people who ought to be “roped into line, as they ought to have been when the country had its back up against the wall. Instead of doing that, the Government took a referendum. It is too late, however, to deal with that now. The whole question ought to be reviewed by the Government, although it may be that many who have positions in the Defence Department are naturally not anxious to see the expenditure cut down. I have no doubt that I shall receive a scathing answer from the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen), and probably from other members of the Committee, but I believe it to be in the beat interests of Australia that the expenditure should be very much curtailed.
– I a.m afraid that I cannot agree with Senator Foll in his suggestion that there should be no compulsory training before youths reach the age of eighteen years. It appears to me,* from my personal observation, that the compulsory training of our lads as cadets goes a long way towards making them what we hope they will become- disciplined men who have learned to obey orders. I am quite satisfied that, in the majority of cases of compulsory training, the effect is good on the lads. I have had an opportunity of watching the development of many lads who now have no distaste for military training; they had a distaste for it when they first commenced to drill, but, after having been at the game for some time, mainly through the good offices of the men who had them in hand, they began to love their work. Although there may be many malcontents in the ranks of the cadets in Australia, the average boy likes the work when he gets accustomed to it.
– Some of them take a long time to get accustomed to it.
– Some lads are temperamentally opposed to anything in the shape of discipline, but I believe that the training they get is helpful to them., and that they turn out all the better citizens. I should not like to say anything against the present system, of universal training.
– You have never studied it, apparently.
– I have not gone about Australia with my eyes closed, and I am acquainted with a good number of lads who take their training regularly. Although I admit that some of them do not like the work, the great majority of them,, once they become accustomed to it, appreciate and like it. Not long ago I was in the honorable member’s State, and met a lad who admitted that he had been sent down to Brisbane for seven days’ detention training. When I asked the reason, he said he absented himself from drill because he wanted to go to the pictures, but he would never do so again, as he had come to like the training. A great deal depends upon the staff. I know a good many of them. I think the Department is fortunate in obtaining a good class of instructors - men who are doing very good work amongst the Cadets, and who endeavour to understand the temperament of the lads that come under their care. I should not like to say anything to interfere with the present system of compulsory training for our boys at the present time, because I am satisfied that it is for their good.
– I cannot go the whole way with Senator Foll. I admit that we do not seem to get the full value for the money spent on cadet training, but that is a matter of administration which I hope to see bettered as time goes on. It must be remembered that our cadet training, to all intents and purposes, lapsed during the war, because our instructors were otherwise engaged, and it will take a considerable time to get the system going in full swing again. Certainly, some of the boys dislike the drill, but many of them who most actively resent interference with their liberty prove very fine soldiers when it comes to actual fighting.
– They would have shown those qualities without having been trained as cadets.
– I do not know. They absorb a certain amount of discipline, which shortens the period of training in the ranks, and, however short that period may be, it is a help in improvising, as we may have to improvise in the future, an army at very short notice. During, the last war we had some little period of breathing space within which we were able to prepare for the active campaign. I am not ‘at all sure that the same interval will be allowed us on any future occasion.
– But what practical military training does a boy receive before he is eighteen years of age?
– Apart from drill with arms, they get a certain amount of training in elementary military formations - they learn to march in fours and to deploy - very essential military training. Under the new syllabus it is intended to concentrate training largely upon the physical development of the boys. We found that hundreds of young men at the beginning of the last war had to undergo physical training before they could pass the medical officers. Already there has been a considerable improvement in the physique of our youth. Quite apart from its value in providing an army, the better physical development of the rising generation will be of enormous value to the nation.
– And of value to the individual himself.
– That is involved, of course. Our military system is capable of radical improvement. I think it was quite unnecessary, for another five years from the time we started, to have a divisional and higher commanders; that all the necessary training could be carried out by battalion commanders. That is the way we started under the Kitchener scheme at the beginning, and we should, in my opinion, have started in the same way again, gradually building up the whole of the existing organization which had gone to pieces during the war. We are, however, to this extent better off - we have at call a great number of young officers with actual experience in the field, and we look to them to lay the foundations upon which the higher organization may ultimately be built. We are starting at the wrong end by constituting a great number of highly-paid staff people. However, that is a matter upon which I am prepared to admit that there is room for difference of opinion. There is another point. The Government would be well advised to go carefully through the Central Administration staffs, and see if some re-arrangement could not be made. I hear on every hand, particularly since I have ceased to hold an actual command myself, that the whole of the administration is top heavy, and, I believe that very considerable savings could be made in that direction with gain all round. It might be considered whether, in the present state of affairs, and in view of the Disarmament Conference, we could not combine the office of the Chief of the General Staff and InspectorGeneral, as well as several other offices. In Great Britain these offices are necessarily separate and distinct, because there they are dealing with regular soldiers who are under arms throughout the whole of each year. It should not be necessary to maintain the same organization here, because ours is a Militia Force only required for training/ for short periods of each year. One of the newspapers the other day contained the suggestion that our organization was without a soul, and presumably, therefore, would perish. From my own experience I may state that in my dealings with the staff in an endeavour to get some fundamental justice for members of the Australian Imperial Force, I have at times found them practically soulless and bowelless. I give as one instance the case of a young fellow whose treatment was brought under my notice by Senator Thomas a week or two back. He had enlisted from New South Wales with his father and two brothers and three brothers-in-law, so the family were pretty well represented. On Gallipoli his father and brother were badly wounded and invalided with a pension. Hs himself also was badly wounded and was sent into hospital, and subsequently a blood vessel burst in his head as a result of his experience. Later he was sent to France, where he was again wounded. The hospital sheets show that he suffered from shrapnel wounds in the face, and that the sight of both eyes was affected. He was also gassed. After coming out of the hospital, he absented himself without leave for a short period, and then finally absented himself for some time and was dealt with as a deserter. At the court-martial he was not represented by counsel, and no medical evidence was called. He admitted that he was absent without leave from his unit, and gave as the reason that he had heard that his brother and father had been permanently disabled and invalided with a pension of 7s. 6d. per week. This disgusted him and he left. This man was sentenced to ten years’ penal servitude, and was returned to Australia. His friends, finding that he was a physical wreck, commenced to move in his favour. I have seen the medical re- ports. With one accord they agree that he had never recovered his mental balance or physical condition from the time of his first shell wounds on Gallipoli.. They admit also that when subjected to heavy shell-fire he would quite reasonably lose his mental balance. One would have thought, in the face of such evidence, that the whole of the proceedings would have been quashed. Certainly, the authorities did not deny that the man had suffered from shell-fire, but they submitted that this evidence merely went in mitigation of his punishment; and having come to that conclusion they remitted the remainder of his sentence. He had already served eight months in prison. His people were not content to let it rest at that, and from time to time they renewed the application that the stain on this young man’s character should be wiped out. It is clearly admitted by the medical evidence that he suffered very considerable derangement by shell-shock, and consequently ought to have been pardoned, and the whole of the proceedings quashed. I may mention another case of a similar nature, the result of which was very different. It concerns one of Colonel Bolton’s own men, who had been badly wounded at Gallipoli. He came back to me in France, and distinguished himself at Bullecourt, where he was again badly wounded. He attracted the attention of his commanding officer, and on his return to his unit a few months later he was recommended to me, and obtained his commission. When we went into action at Polygon Wood a few weeks later, this officer disappeared, but some days later was found in the rear with the base details, where he had reported himself to the officer in charge. He was court martialled, cashiered, and sentenced to imprisonment, but being represented by counsel, medical evidence was called to show that, having been severely wounded at Bullecourt, when subjected to heavy Shell fire in Polygon Wood subsequently, he suffered mental derangement. That evidence was submitted to the War Office and to the medical authorities there, with the result that the War Office quashed the charge on the medical certificate. In the meantime the soldier was. on his way to
Australia, and when the position was made known to me I reported the matter to General Bird wood, and a wireless message was immediately transmitted to the man on the ship, so that it would reach him before his arrival in Australia, restoring him to his proper rank. I see no distinction between these two cases. In the one, owing to force of circumstances, the man had the assistance of counsel, and was able to call medical evidence, which relieved him of a court-martial, and he returned with an honorable discharge, whereas the other, who was not in the same fortunate position, did not. It seems cruel that the members of a family who have done their duty so well should be compelled to bear this stigma, and I appeal to the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) to take the case into very serious consideration, despite the idea which prevails at the Barracks to-day, that medical evidence merely serves in mitigation of punishment, but is not a total excuse. Naturally one can imagine the feeling held by the family, and everything should be done to assist this unfortunate man, who is still a nervous wreck, in part, at any rate, caused by the disgrace of having been sen tended to serve ten years for desertion in face of the enemy.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Motion (by Senator E. D. Millen) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till 11 a.m. to-morrow.
The following papers were presented : -
Defence Act. - Regulations AmendedStatutory Rules 1921, Nos. 220, 221.
Papua. - Ordinances of 1921 -
No. 11 - Health (venereal diseases).
No. 12 - Customs Tariff.
No. 13 - Port Dues Revision.
No. 14- Creditors’ Remedies.
Public Service Act. - Appointments - Depart ment of the Treasury - E. A. Black, H. S. Trotman, W. J.E. Tate, A. E. Blakers.
War Service Homes Act. - Land acquired at Double Bay; New South Wales.
Senate adjournedat 10.51 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 December 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19211206_senate_8_98/>.