9th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayer.
The following papers were presented : -
New Guinea - Ordinances of 1923 -
No. 20- Land (No. 2).
No. 21 - Succession Duties.
No. 22- Native Labour (No. 2).
No. 23- Appropriation 1922-23.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
In view of pending legislation dealing with the Northern Territory, will the Minister withhold the granting of any new leases in the Territory or the continuation of existing leases for long periods?
– Instructions were given by me in November last to withdraw from lease, until further notice, all lands available for pastoral lease in the Northern Territory. The new Lands Ordinance will come into operation on the 1st July next, and all leases of pastoral and other lands will thenceforth be granted under its provisions.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act toamend the Nationality Act 1920- 1922.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Immigration Act1901-. 1920.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Northern. Territory Administration Act 1910.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Lands Acquisition Act 1906-1916.
Motion (by. Senator Pearce) agreed to- ‘
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to Bankruptcy
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Auxiliary Air Force - Launching of the “ Fordsdale “: Issue of Invitations - Cheap Freights: “Bay” Class Steamers versus Motor-ships - Institute of Science and Industry : Supervision and Checking of RETORT.ing Results - Production of Power Alcohol - Navigation “ Act . Administration - Postal Improvements : Loan Flotation - Tasmanian Mail Service.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from. 28th June, vide page 459) :
Proposed votes (Department of the Treasury) £140;075, (Attorney-General’s Department) £21,445, agreed to.
Home and Territories Department.
Proposed vote, £102,390.
.- I should like to know if it is the intention of the Minister (Senator Pearce) to make reference to certain matters in connexion with the Northern Territory that were mentioned last night, or whether he desires to “deal with them in the Bill to
Amend the Northern Territory Administration Act, leave to introduce which was obtained this morning. We are all anxious to know what will he the outcome of the Minister’s visit to the Territory.
– As I intimated when moving the second reading of this Bill, it is framed on the Estimates of the current year, and therefore contains no proposals for the forthcoming financial year. It is hoped that the Estimates will be submitted in another place about the middle of July, and the practice is to submit the Budget papers here also at the same time. These will contain the proposals of the Government for the next financial year, and I suggest that that would be a more fitting opportunity to deal with the matter referred to by Senator Foll, and to inform honorable senators of the opinions T have’ formed as the result of my recent visit to the Northern Territory. I propose therefore to reserve what I have to say until then.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Defence.
Proposed vote, £671,060.
– I desire to direct attention’ to the item Air Service, and to get from the Minister an expression of opinion on this subject. Some time ago I was approached by a number of men who had seen service as aviators in the Australian Imperial Force, but who, since their demobilization, have not been doing anything in connexion with the special .work for which they had been trained. They have formulated a scheme which is, in my judgment, very well worthy of consideration. Their proposal is to establish what may be called an Auxiliary Flying Corps, but all they are asking is that they should’ be given some official recognition, and should have made available to them a number of the gift flying machines, in order to keep their training up to date. It is well known, of course, that this is an arm of the service that has to be continually exercised, otherwise those engaged in it will drop below the highest standards of efficiency. A number of the machines to which I refer are not being used. Some of them, I understand, have not been unpacked; and if they are not used in the way suggested by these men they probably never will be. It seems to me an excellent suggestion that these men, who are not amateurs in any sense of the term, should be encouraged, to maintain their efficiency in this way, particularly when we consider the remarkable developments in aviation from a military point of view in other countries. They have assured me that the use of these machines will not involve very great expenditure, apart from the cost of petrol used. If the scheme is favorably considered by the Department,, it may be necessary to have in Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide, and perhaps also Perth, a small establishment of mechanics to keep the machines in perfect flying condition. These men could then be enrolled as an Auxiliary Air Force, and if they had an opportunity of an occasional fly, could maintain their efficiency. In this way the Defence Department would be in close touch with them, and they would be immediately available for the service of their country if ever the necessity arose. The men are not asking for pay. They do not even ask for uniforms. The scheme offers the maximum of results for the minimum of expenditure, and, therefore, I hope the Department will give it favorable consideration. .
– The suggestion seems to me to’ be well worth the consideration of the Department. I shall have much pleasure in bringing it under the notice of the Minister for Defence, and will commend it to his serious attention. .
– I have a small complaint to make with regard to the recent launching of the Fordsdale, the largest ship that has been built in Australia. I congratulate the authorities of Cockatoo Island Dockyard upon the successful launching of that vessel, and as an iron ship-builder myself, I feel proud of their achievement. I want to see the day when, as in America, we shall have a law forbidding the carriage of our coastwise trade in any but Australian-built vessels. I have attended the launching of nearly every vessel that has been built in Australia, and I was very desirous of being present when the Fordsdale took the water. I knew that invitations were being issued - they are usually big tickets printed in various colours, buff, red, blue, and black, for the purpose of separating the sheep from the goats at the ceremony - and I was waiting for my invitation, but it did not come along. I asked Mr. Oakes what arrangements had been made in regard to the issuing of the invitations. He said that he did not know. His launch was gping up, and he offered to provide me with a seat. I said, “ That is no good to me. If the Department has engaged a steamer, I am going aboard, and I should like to see the man who will keep me off.” I rang up the manager, and he said he was very sorry, but the Federal members were not to get an invitation, as they would be in Melbourne. Mr. Mahony and Mr. West each got one, I expect, because they represent the electorates concerned with the carrying out of the work. I asked the manager if a steamer were going up. He said, “ Yes.” I said, “ Where is she leaving ?” He told me. I said, “ I am going aboard.” He said, “ I am very sorry. If you give me the names of the senators, I shall extend them an invitation.” I gave him the names, and on the day before the launching the representatives of New South Wales in the Senate were honoured with the receipt of a red ticket. The entrance to the launching platform was guarded by a big policeman, and there was also a painted sign, “ Buff tickets this way.” “ No red tickets here,” said the guardian. That ticket took me to the very place to which I wanted to go - amongst the men with whom I worked in this country for many years. I think that somebody “broughtbefore Senator Wilson the facts of the case. He was astounded, and immediately wired instructions that the tickets should be taken by special messenger to the Commonwealth members’ room in Sydney. They had not arrived at 4 o’clock on the day prior to the launching. Some individuals for years have been, receiving invitations to these functions, while members representing the people and those who are interested are not allowed to be spectators. The manager of Mort’s Dock, for whom I had the pleasure of working for many years was not invited. The managers of big workshops did not receive an invitation, but heads of the State Departments, with their under-secretaries and typistes, and the usual retinue of flappers who are always present on these occasions, were present in full force. I enter my protest against the continual ignoring of Federal members in connexion with these functions. If the States have any function, it is their right to invite whom they choose ; when the Federal Government have control of anything of such a nature as the launching of a splendid vessel, the representatives of the people must not be overlooked when the invitations are being issued. I do not know who was responsible for this occurrence, neither does the Minister. The manager says that he does not know. The building of this vessel has been a magnificent success, bringing credit to the country and the men who built her, and to all concerned on her building and launching I offer my hearty congratulations.
– I thank Senator McDougall for having brought forward this matter. This is not the first occasion on which it has come to my knowledge that in connexion with Federal functions held in States away from the Seat of Government Federal members havebeen ignored. I found that State Commandants, especially after they hadbeen stationed in a State for a few years, seemed to regard themselves as servants more of the State than of the Commonwealth, and when military functions were held theyfrequently would invite all sorts of State functionaries, and ignore Federal members. A military order was issued that when invitations we’re being sent out for naval and military functions the Federal members for the State should be included. I do not know who has been responsible for this oversight, but I think that it was a flagrant dereliction of duty, and I shall have it brought under the notice of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce). I am sure that the Prime Minister would be the last person to agree to the adoption of such a course as that which apparently was adopted in this case. I regret very much that Senator McDougall had to go to the trouble of asking for an invitation; that should not have been necessary.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Trade and Customs.
Proposed vote, ?133,205.
.- I desire to allude to item 99 - Commonwealth Instituteof Science and Industry,. ?3,450. I congratul’ate the Minister (Senator Pearce) on his expressed intention, in the speech he made yesterdayregarding main roads, to encourage the introduction of a cheaper system of transit. I realize that the conditions existing in the markets of ‘the world during the last five or six years are not likely to continue very much longer, and if we desire to develop this country in the future to the extent that we have done in the past, we must place ourselves in a position to cope with the changed conditions. For that purpose the Commonwealth Government intend assisting the States to inaugurate a better system of road traffic in the sparsely populated areas. The Minister alluded also to the future use of motor traffic. Those who till the land, and who are interested in our primary and secondary industries, realize that motor traffic and motor power will play equally as important’ a part in the development of this, as it has in the development of other countries. The Minister emphasized the necessity of encouraging, wherever possible, the production of cheap fuel to aid motor traffic. I am interested in the production of motor fuel in Australia. The majority of honorable senators at one time or another have assisted or encouraged the production of shale oil. We possess great resources. If those resources are made use of, and the Government give the encouragementwhich is essential to an industry of this nature, we shall to some extent solve the problem of providing cheap fuel. In order to cope with the changed conditions which eventually must come, not only have we to provide good roads and cheap motor power but we must endeavour to find markets for our products, and cheap freights thereto. In cheap freights we have the secret on which our success depends. How are we to obtain them under existing conditions except by the adoption of some method superior to that which we employ at the present time. I have here some figures which, when they have time, honorable senators can dissect, and, if possible, refute. This is a comparison between the two classes of ships which dominate the trade routes of the world to-day.
– (Senator Newland). - Is it the intention of the honorable senator to connect his remarks with the item relating to the Institute of Science and Industry ?
– The term “ Science and Industry “ covers a most extensive field. If we are to grapple with the problems that are in front of us, science will have to play a more important part than anything else. I, with Senator McDougall, am proud to see a vessel like the Fordsdale flying the colours of Australia in the waters of the world ; but if it is possible to have a better class of steamer, one that will bring about better conditions for the consumers and producers, it is our duty to consider means whereby we can obtain it. I take it that these comparisons are authentic. The figures are interesting, and the comparisons are of an extraordinary character. They are as follows: -
If the foregoing figures are correct - and I have no reason to doubt that they are - it is high time the Government made a comparison of the two types of vessels for the carriage of goods before launching any more steamers of the “ Bay” class. Thebest way to reduce the freight charges is to make the utmost use of the most recent scientific discoveries.Senator Pearce mentioned in his speech yesterday that the Trust controlling the resources from which Australia derives its supplies of motor spirit, if not prepared to letus have cheaper fuel, should he induced, if possible, to show at least some consideration for those who use its spirit. I naturally take it that the Government are anxious to encourage in every way the production of oil within the Commonwealth. I happen to be the Chairman of Directors of a company that is engaged in testing methods of treating shale oil in a way thatwill be commercially successful. We have applied to the Minister for Customs (Mr. AustinChapman) to send an officer of the Instituteof Scienceand Industry to Tasmania to check ouroperations. Weare toldthisbureau exists ‘ ‘to consider and initiate -scientific research in connexion with, or forthe promotion of, primary and secondary industries inthe Commonwealth . “ The company on20th June,sentthe following letter tothe Minister forTradeandCustoms: -
Onbehalf of the Southern Cross MotorFuels Limited I have the honor to invite the cooperation of the Instituteof Science and ‘Industry in checking and proving the results obtained by our retorting plant at Latrobe, Tasmania, in treating oil shale. F.or your information I desire ito state that the results achieved have, in the light of past experiences, proved remarkably tsuccessful. Up tothe present the treatment of shale in Australia hae not beena commercial success, and as a result, the public view with distrust any ven ture for therecovery of shale oil. ‘My Company has fortunately secured the rights of a patent which renders it possiblefor us to so deal with large quantities of shale and produce motor spirit on a payable basis. After three years of experimenting and the expenditure of nearly £30,000, we have now arrived at a Stage when wecan begin operations on a commercial basis. We are now ready to commence retorting under actual working conditions, and it is with a view of placing before the Australian public authentic information with regard to our results that we invite the Institute of Science and Industry to detail an officer of the Department to supervise and check the actual running and working. We ask this favor so that reliable data willheavailable to help to dispel the doubt which now exists in the minds of the Australian public as to the recovery of oil from shale as a payable proposition. We would point out that not only would this report help inthe development of Tasmanian shale, it would materially help in the development of the huge known deposits of shale such as are situated at Joadga, N.S.W., Newnes, Capertee Valley, N.S.W., and also that portion of the Capertee Valley near Lithgow, N.S.W., that are at the present moment totally neglected owing to lack of proper treatment. I am sure there is no necessity on my part to emphasise the importance of this venture. The known deposits of shale in the Commonwealth are sufficient to fulfil the requirements of Australia for oil and its products for generations, and we claim it is only a matter of extending our plant to be able to provide all that is wanted. Trusting to have the favor of an early reply and an intimation that an officer has been detailed to report on the matter as requested,
It will be noticed from the foregoing letter that we did not seek any f avour from the Government. The company raised £30,000 of capital for the purpose of experimenting, and, having accomplished what was desired, askedthe Minister for Trade and Customs to send an officer to Tasmania to check the actual working results of the company, in orderto inspire confidence in those associated with the undertaking. Thedirectorshave done their best to obtain the assistance of the best experts in Australia to prove whether the data they had were right or wrong.
– What did the De partmentsay?
– The followingcom- munication,dated 22-nd June, 1923., was received from the Department of Trade and Customs, Melbourne: -
Iam directedby the Honorable Austin Chapman to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 20th inst., requesting co-operation of the Institute of Science and Industry in checking and proving the results obtained byyour retorting plant at Latrobe, Tasmania, in treating oil shale, and to informyou that the representations which you make will receive the most careful consideration, and you willbe further communicated with on the subjectat a later date.
On the28th June, the following communication was received from the Deputy Comptroller-General of Customs: -
Adverting to your letter dated 20th June, addressedtomy Minister, in which you asked that an officer attached to the Institute of Science and Industry might be permitted to supervise and check the running and working of yourplant at Latrobe in connexion with the extraction of oilfrom shale, I am directed to inform you that the matter has received careful consideration, but it is regretted that your request cannot be complied with.
In view of the purpose for which the Institute of Science and Industry was created, the company was astounded to receive such a reply, and perhaps the Minister (Senator Pearce) will be able to give some explanation. Perhaps it will be said that the Department has ‘been so starved for money that the services of an expert are not available. Although the company can ill-afford to incur expense in paying for the services of an. expert, it would be prepared to pay the cost, but the Deputy ‘Comptroller has merely said that the request cannot be complied with. When I voted for the establishment of the Institute of Science and Industry, it was on the understanding that, it would function in this direction. Had I known that the Institute would not assist in establishing such a necessary industry in the Commonwealth, I should not have recorded an affirmative vote; and if help is not to be given to industries endeavouring to establish themselves on a firm basis there does not appear to be any valid reason why the Institute ‘ should be allowed to continue functioning.
– That is the main reason why the Bill was introduced.
– I stated at the out- set that I was associated with the company, because, even if I had not mentioned it, it would have become known later. I invested my capital in the concern, not knowing whether I should ever get a penny in return, but I realized it was my duty, if I could afford it, toassist in establishing a new industry, and at the same time share in its failure or success. This year we have, contracted to deal with 100,000 tons of shale, and are about to establish fifteen retorts each capable of producing 6,000,000 gallons of oil per annum. The Minister may say that if the request were acceded to and the results obtained by the company were proved authentic, it would enable a new company to be formed for the benefit of certain individuals; but it is the duty of the Minister controlling ,the Department to see that experts associated with the Institute are available to give such new companies all the possible assistance they can in the interests of the Commonwealth.
– I have no knowledge, of course, of the reasons which actuated the Minister for Trade1 and Customs in refusing the request submitted by the company; but I happen to know that for some time the Institute of Science and Industry has been unable to do all that was intended, because sufficient money , has not been available to enable it to function as we hoped it would. It may be found on inquiry that that is the cause. I am not, however, in a position to give the reason, and all I can say at this juncture is that I shall bring the remarks of the honorable senator under the notice of the Minister (Mr. Austin Chapman), and endeavour to ascertain his reasons for the attitude he adopted in connexion with this particular request.
– The subject raised by Senator Plain is undoubtedly a most important one in connexion with the development of Australian industries, as the oil derived from kerosene plays a very important part in modern civilization, particularly in connexion with flying machines and ‘Submarines, I speak with some knowledge of the shale oil industry, as I was born in a district in Scotland where the industry was first esta’blished, and ever since then I have kept myself au fait with the- question of the production of shale oil. I have also had considerable experience with this industry in Australia, and on frequent occasions have said that there is little likelihood of obtaining liquid oil in those parts of Australia where shale is found. That undoubtedly is a bold statement, but it is based oh a sound theory, and one which has data to support it. Wherever kerosene shale is found, liquid oil has not been discovered, as kerosene shale is simply uncooked kerosene oil such as is procured from the wells ‘in America. Therefore, if we obtain kerosene from shale, we cannot procure it in liquid form. I do not know whether my theory is original or not.
– It is not borne out by experience, as in Great Britain shale oil is found in Scotland, and liquid oil has been discovered in Derbyshire.
– I can speak on this subject with some assurance, and
Ihave yet to learn that oil wells are in operation in Great Britain.
– Oil was discovered in the United Kingdom in 1919, but not in payable quantities.
-“ Not in payable quantities “ is the usual excuse after a sensational and erroneous report of a discovery has been published abroad. We have heard a good deal of the discoveries of liquid oil along the coast of Western Australia and on the south coast of the continent.
– It has even been discovered at Williamstown.
– Yes. Reported discoveries have been announced in all parts of the Commonwealth. The Minister has said that oil has been found in Derbyshire.
– And in Queensland.
SenatorDE LARGIE.- Yes, operations have been conducted at Roma for thirty years, and may go on for thirty years longer if there are people gullible enough to put money into the concern.
– And nearer the coast.
– Gas is all that has been produced.
– Oil has been procured.
– Can any one, say that one gallon of liquid oil has actually been produced’ in Australia ?
– Oil found in Australia was exhibited ten years ago.
– Liquid oil is found principally in those countries nearer the equator than Australia, and if oilis discovered in the Commonwealth, I should prefer to search for it in those northern latitudes. It is possible to obtain large quantities of shale in many places in Western Australia, but so little notice is taken of it that only the people living in the immediate neighbourhood know anything about the deposits. With regard to the point particularly raised by Senator Plain, namely, the assistance which he naturally thought would be obtainable from the Institute of Science and Industry, I think his request was not complied with because they have not a man with any special knowledge on the subject. I say. advisedly that if I were selecting a man upon whose opinion I could rely, I would not think of applying to any of the officers in Melbourne, but would go to
Sydney and get a very good man from the Lithgow Valley, where they have been working shale oil deposits.
– But they were only asked for an opinion as to quantities and qualities. Surely any one can do that? ,
– Yes, but if the honorable senator wanted an opinion that would be of any value and would attract the attention of men with money to invest, he would be wise to go to a man who knew something about the business. I think it probable that the Minister knowing, as I dare say he does, the real position with regard to theInstitute did not want a report to be issued by an officer who was not a recognised authority.
– Then what is the use of the Bureau ?
– A good deal of money has been spent upon it I know, and up to the present it has not been giving an adequate return. On the amount of money available to the Institute it is not reasonable to expect experts of high standing and with complete scientific knowledge of every subject under the sun to accept positions on the staff. If the honorable senator only knew what an immense sum is made available to the Geological Department of the United States of America, he would realize that we cannot hope, upon our present expenditure, to have a Bureau that is strong on the scientific side. I agree that there are great possibilities for the shale oil industry of Australia, particularly when, owing to diminishing supplies, liquid fuel oil becomes too expensive to use profitably.
– Does the honorable senator think that we have no chance of finding liquid oil in Australia ? Does he know that boring is going on now at Torquay ?
– Yes, andI give all credit to those who are prepared to put money into a venture to search for oil, but I would not do it myself. From what I know, I think it would be foolish to expect to find oil in the southern portion of Australia because, asI have already said, shale deposits and liquid oil are never found in localities situated close together.
– Then does the honorablesenator argue that because we have shale oil, it is impossible to get liquid oil in Australia?
– I do not say that. Liquid oil may be found in northern Australia, but I am afraid we shall not discover it in the southern portion of the continent.
– Is shale oil found all) over the southern part of Australia?
– Over a very large area, and’ also in Tasmania.
– Apparently our oil resources are in a state of arrested development.
– In Australia it is in the same form as in Scotland, and, unfortunately, the production of oil from this material is so costly that it is difficult to work it profitably. Even the splendid oil trade of Scotland had a very hard time when the American oil wells were discovered. I do not wish Senator Plain to think that I am throwing cold water upon his proposal. He is engaged in a very laudable and patriotic effort, but, in my opinion, he is expecting too much if he thinks he can get in any of our Government Departments an oil expert of standing to do the work he suggests.
SenatorFOLL (Queensland) [12.6].- I think that, as usual, Queensland will have to come to the rescue and find a solution for this great problem. Those who are in a position to express an opinion are agreed, I think, that there is a limit to the supplies of liquid oil that may he obtained from the earth, although, of course, vast quantities of shale oil exist here, as in other countries. But there ‘Seems to be no limit to the possibilities of production from cultivation. In Queensland, as I have pointed out on other occasions, we have produced in the acetate of lime factory thousands of pounds of power alcohol made from molasses as a by-product of the great sugar industry.
– There is a bigger source of supply from the prickly pear.
SenatorFOLL. - Experiments’ have also been carried out with the prickly pear, and I believe there is something in what the honorable senator says; but I know that the possibilities of production from molasses - one of the byproducts of the sugar industry - are immense. During the war, large quantities of” high- explosives were manufactured from molasses in the acetate of lime factory, on the banks of the Brisbane River, and they have a power-alcohol making plant that has produced . alcohol in every way suitable for use in internal combustion engines. All of the Government motor cars in Brisbane used this fuel, and figures given by the manager of the factory show that under ordinary conditions it can. be produced at a price that compares favorably with petrol. Experiments carried out ‘by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company in Sydney, and iby the Millaquin Refinery Company in Bundaberg, have demonstrated that, from the point of view of efficiency, power alcohol as a motor spirit is equal, if not superior, to petrol.
– Then why do they not produce more of it?
SenatorFOLL. - I am going to speak of some of the obstacles to production. It is generally admitted, I think, that the use of the internal combustion engine in connexion with the development of Australia is only in its infancy. As the country becomes opened up, all motor traffic must increase enormously, and consequently the demand for fuel will become very heavy indeed. After each crushing season, the Bundaberg Distillery Company produces immense quantities of rum from theby-products of the sugar-cane, but owing to the limited demand it is impossible to ‘find a market for it. They have approached the Customs Department times out of number for approval of a formula for the denaturing of the spirit to prevent power alcohol from being acceptable as a drink; and, although the formula submitted is recognised by experts outside the Department, the Government analytical chemist refused to accept it. This is a very serious matter for the sugar industry, which recently has received a very severe blow from the Government. The treatment which has been meted out to that industry would have shaken to its very foundations my loyalty to the Government had I been a less loyal supporter.
– You cannot place on the Government the responsibility for your actions. If you had been less loyal to them and more loyal to Queensland, the sugar industry would have had extended to it a better deal.
– I hope that, with the assistance of representatives from other States, we who come from Queensland will be able to do something practicable for the industry during the next few months. I hope to be able to .look for the support of Senator Gardiner when we ask for a duty of £14 per ton on raw sugar.
– I would rather give to every man working’ in the industry £14 a week, and tell him to take a holiday; that, would be better for the southern people.
– I ask the Minister to bring before the notice of the Depart-, ment of Trade and Customs the fact that there is a valuable by-product from the sugar industry which, at present, is practically going to waste. Australia is crying out very earnestly for that byproduct. The correspondence between the Bundaberg Distillery Company, which has available large quantities of molasses, and the Department of Trade and Customs, has extended over some months. The price which the Commonwealth Government have offered is insufficient to meet the cost of the production of sugar. By giving those engaged in the industry the opportunity to make use of this valuable by-product, which means so much to the users of internal combustion engines, the Government will be assisting the users of petrol and be acting in the interests of the sugar industry and of the public of Australia.
– Under the heading “ Navigation,” a sum of £5,165 is being provided. This item constantly recurs in Supply Bills and Estimates generally. It is time that the people of Australia asked this Government and Parliament what they intend doing with the Navigation Department. A good many years have passed since the Labour party placed upon the statute-book the Navigation Act, which at that time was admitted to be the finest piece of legislation passed by any Parliament in the world, because of the liberality of its provisions and the scope of its operations. Since the Act was passed, and the skeleton of a personnel was created to -administer it, practically nothing has been done to give effect to its provisions. The operations of this skeleton staff in the various States have been costing us a little over £60,000 a year. We are looking for avenues in which to curtail expenditure, and it appears to me that here is possible the saving of a considerable sum of money every year, with advantage to the taxpayers and without any disadvantage to the people of Australia. If the Navigation Department does not function properly it should not function at all. A glance at the item will show the allocation of the money to the various States, and will make honorable senators realize the absurdity of the provision^ and the inadequate way in which this Department is being administered. In Victoria the salaries paid for administration of this monumental piece of legislation amount to £600, and the contingencies to £160. In New South Wales the salaries total £820, and contingencies £220. Why are such meagre salaries being paid for the administration of this branch of the Department of Trade and Customs ? Is it because the Government have not deemed it advisable to operate this Act in the way contemplated by Parliament when the Act was passed ? The New South Wales State Navigation Department, retaining the administration of navigation matters that concern only the State, covers the administration, of 72 per cent, of the total shipping that enters and leaves New South Wales ports, leaving a meagre 28 per cent, to come within the scope of the Navigation Act of the Commonwealth. The Government will be well advised if they see whether arrangements can be made with the States, which already have elaborate machinery and highly qualified men to administer their Navigation Departments, to control the administration of the Commonwealth Navigation Act. We would then find that the Act would be administered much more cheaply than is the case to-day. We could dispense with this skeleton of a staff without in any way endangering the Act, which time has shown requires considerable amendment in certain directions. The economy which would result from the adoption of my proposal would amount to £30,000 or £40,000 a year. It is absurd for us to continue to maintain this skeleton of a staff to do work which could be done much more effectively by the Departments of the States.
– As I was the Minister who nad the duty of piloting the measure through this Senate I possess some- knowledge of its provisions. Senator . Duncan appears to think that the whole of the provisions of the Act have been given effect to. ‘ The position is that certain of its provisions which .purported to give to the Commonwealth the power to control Intra-State navigation matters have been declared by the High Court of Australia to be unconstitutional. Therefore, no Government could have given effect to those provisions. That is not the fault of this Government. On the other hand, there are in the Act some very valuable provisions to which no State could give effect. I refer to those provisions governing Inter-State and overseas trade, one of which relates to the reservation of Australian coastal trade to Australian shipping. No State has the power to legislate in relation to Inter-State trade.
– I am not advocating the repeal of the Act.
– I do not share Senator Duncan’s enthusiasm for the administration of Federal laws by State officials. As the result of a long experience, I am of the opinion that that practice has not always been attended with the happy result that Senator Duncan appears to anticipate. Distant fields appear to be the greenest, and Senator Duncan apparently thinks that because a man is a State official he must be more efficient than he would be if he were a_ Commonwealth official. That has not been our experience in every case. The Commonwealth has desired very often to rely upon State officials for the administration of its laws, and we have had to take second place, not having had direct control of those officials. No one can say that that leads to effective administration. Where you have only indirect control of an officer your administration cannot be effective. Senator Duncan must remember that in some of the States a hostile feeling exists towards the Navigation Act. In Tasmania that feeling is pronounced. Imagine the administration of the Navigation Act being placed in the hands of the State officials of Tasmania. On the one hand they would be faced with their duty to the Government which employs them and pays them, and which considers that the provisions of the Act should not be enforced, while on the other hand they would have an indirect duty to perform to the Commonwealth Government, which does not directly employ them, and desires that the provisions of the Act should be enforced. What sort of administration would we get under those conditions? Senator Duncan has referred to the saving which could be effected if the administration of the Act were carried out by State officials. I am not quite sure that a saving could be effected in that way. The time has gone by when it was possible to get State Governments to allow their officers to do Commonwealth work, at the rate at which they are employed by the States. I have found that the States are demanding more and more that they shall be paid for doing Commonwealth work; and they generally put in a fairly big bill when any question of payment arises. This happy picture of the saving that would be effected if this plan were adopted does not appeal to me, judging by past experience.
If there is one question upon which the Commonwealth ought to have the power to legislate, surely it is navigation, both Inter-State a’nd Intra-State. The attitude which should be taken up is that Intra-State and Inter-State shipping should be controlled by the Commonwealth Government, and action should be taken to give effect to that view. We have a most farcical state of affairs owing, to the- judgment that has been given, and the remedy does not seem to bc to rely on State administration, but to do what the framers of the Constitution thought had been done, and give the Commonwealth full legislative powers in such matters.
– One honorable senator seemed to draw the conclusion that, because shales occurred in -certain parts of Australia, and did not bear oil, it would *be impossible -to discover oil-bearing shale in any other portion of the Commonwealth. Shales are usually accompanied by sand layers, which, in many cases, do contain oil. The bores put down in Australia have revealed conditions exactly similar to those in oil-bearing countries, except that an actual flow of oil has not been obtained. But very few bores- have been sunk, and it should not be imagined, because the earth’s crust has been pierced in one or two places, that oil is not likely to be found. Nothing but persistent efforts to locate it can result in success. The demand for oil products is insistent, and in the interests of the nation the search should be vigorously maintained.
Senator Foll has referred to the desirability of producing power alcohol from molasses and waste vegetable matter. Some time ago the Bureau of Science and Industry demonstrated that the potash contained in waste molasses could, by the use of alum, be extracted in such proportions as to make the process commercially remunerative. In the very localities where molasses are going to waste, potash is needed for enriching the sugar-cane fields. Supplies of aluminite are available, and by putting the discovery of the Institute of Science to practical use the cane-fields wouldbe greatly benefited, and, in addition, a new industry would be established. Simply because we have not so far discovered “ gusher “ oil in Australia, we should not cease exploiting the shale deposits that do contain the valuable fluid. Senator Plain’s proposition deserves the most serious attention. Owing to the rapid increase of motor traction, better roads are necessary, and it would be of immense advantage if we had an adequate local supply of the spirit by means of which motors are propelled. The southern portion of Australia consists of an immense depression that formerly had a very great elevation. Tasmania, and a few of the other islands, are remnants of high land. Proof of this is found in the glacial deposits, which show that the movement of the glacier was from south to north.
– (Senator Newland). - Will the honorable senator connect his remarks with the matter before the Committee?
– My point is that the search for oil in the southern part of Australia should be continued. Water seeks the lowest level, but oil is deposited at higher levels, and it seems natural that the latter fluid is more likely to be found in the old hills than in the inland basin of Australia. The land near the eastern shores of Australia furnishes conditions which are parallel with those in Tasmania.
– I happened to be a member of the Senate when the Navigation Act was passed; and I am reminded of my old friend, the late Senator R. S. Guthrie, who was in my judgment the grandest fighter for better conditions for the working classes - and seamen in particular - that has ever been seen in this or any other Parliament. His efforts,however, have been rendered futile because one man by his signature can now annul all the good effects of the Act. In certain cases the regulations are withdrawn, and the Act can be contravened in such a way as to render its provisions nugatory. On the occasion of the last great racing carnival in Melbourne, a Minister, by one sweep of his pen, suspended the operation of the Act so that a class of people who are of no real use to the community could be conveyed bysea to the Victorian capital.
– The Minister would not extend the same privilege to Tasmanians.
– That is quite true. The great trusts and combines always manage to obtain concessions when they are necessary to enable them to make a few thousand pounds extra profit.
– This was purely a case of preference to “ punters.”
– Yes ; and I regret that preference to “punters” was shown by’ a Government who pretend to have high national ideals, and to be anxious to place Australia among the foremost nations.
A company was formed in Australia a few years ago for the purpose of chopping up prickly pears, and making a spirit which could be produced in sufficient quantities to drive all the motor vehicles likely to be used in Australia for a long time ahead. Unfortunately, however, a combine secured the greatest number of shares. Directors and a secretary were appointed, and they still have their office, but not a solitary prickly pear tree has so farbeen cut down. When I was previously a member of this Chamber, I tried to give this company a little encouragement, and brought the matter under the notice of the Government of the day; but the Combine was all-powerful.
I congratulate the Assistant Minister (Senator Crawford) upon refusing to comply with the wishes of the secret junta, known as the Sugar Growers Association, so strongly condemned by the Labour movement, and which has now commanded him to send in his resignation because he refuses to comply with its demands. The Minister will see that those who have at heart the interests of a majority of the people in this country cannot comply with the wishes of .that smaller section, which apparently, merely in its own interests, is opposed to national progress.
– -If the honorable senator followed in the footsteps of the Assistant Minister, and sent back a similar reply, we would say, “Well done.”
– If I did, the fact would not be published. The members of the Labour party do not get a fair deal, but I congratulate the Assistant Minister on at last awakening from his slumbers. He is now one of the bondholders, hut was once a simple working compositor like many of those who now belong to this party, and, like myself, be can be brave for six years .to come in the security of membership of this Chamber.
– I am very glad that /Senator Plain has brought forward the matter of oil production, and still more pleased at the apparently sympathetic reply given by the Minister (Senator Pearce). The question of oil production in Australia is of the very greatest importance. It is a truism to say that. Australia has gone through various periods of development. We had first of all the pastoral era, then the agricultural, and later the manufacturing era, and I have not the slightest doubt that in the near future we are about to enter upon a period in which oil will be discovered in Australia, and it. will be a most important factor in our development. I know there is a disposition in the different States to decry the possibilities in this regard. We have heard recently from experts coming from abroad, and who can speak with knowledge, that they can decide that the indications here coincide with those in. the greatest oil-producing districts elsewhere. If we are to rely upon their advice and opinion Australia should not be pessimistic about her prospects in regard to oil; but the Institute of Science and Industry can do very much to stabilize public opinion upon this matter. Honorable senators will have observed alleged discoveries, and that there has been a disposition on the part of the Mines
Departments in the several States to issuewarnings in relation to these alleged discoveries for the .protection of investorsand the public generally. Well and good. Nobody can complain of such an attitude. On the contrary, it is to be commended if those responsible for the warnings are fully fortified in issuing such statements. We have, however, to place against their high standing and status the fact that to a large extent their knowledge on matters of this kind has-, been gathered from the reading of book.s, journals, and general literature on the subject. In Australia there are very few who have had practical intimate association with oil geology, but those who have, and who have favoured us with their counsels, think that we should not despair. And in circumstances such as these, wherethere is a conflict of speculation - not in the monetary sense, but in the mental or intellectual sense - the Institute of Science and Industry can do much. The request submitted to * the Institute by the company to which Senator Plain has referred, was, indeed, a reasonable one,, and one which 99 out of every 100 people in the Commonwealth would assume that the Institute would have complied with - always, of course, if it were within its financial means so to do. The Minister (Senator Pearce) has stated that probably the lack of funds prevented it from functioning. I have’ no monetary interest whatever in the company to which Senator Plain has referred, but I have always had hopes of oil being discovered in Australia. More than ten years ago I became prominently associated - and from a monetary point of view very deeply - with an enterprise established to develop the shale oil deposits in the locality mentioned. “ Operations had tobe discontinued, but the knowledge of the treatment of shale in those days was not what it is to-day. For some time I made up my mind that I could have nothing further to do withany attempts to discover oil in Australia. But recently I have interested myself, and on this occasion more in connexion with the gusher oil prospects, to whichSenator de Largie referred so gloomily. I believe that we will yet -discover gusheroil in Australia, and if we do, it will mark a new era in the development of the Commonwealth, and one undreamt of by the great bulk of the* people today. It “would put Australia in a position that even our most ardent optimists have hardly visualized. . I sincerely trust that the Government will do something to comply with the reasonable request made bythe company, and if they cannot, I think the Senate is entitled to know for what the Institute of Science and Industry actually exists. The company is not askingfor monetary assistance,but merely that an expert associated with the Institute should supervise the tests and methods applied by this company in connexion with the treatment of shale.
– Is there not any one available who could do the work?
– If there is not any one on the staff, the Institute should be so closely associated with scientific men in Australia that it should be able to secure the services of an expert in whom every lone would have confidence. If the undertaking is a success it would be of enormous advantage to Australia. The company has said,”We are carrying on this work, and we merely want an expert to supervise our work, upon whose word the Institute and the public could rely.” Otherwise, if satisfactory resuits are published there might be attempts to “bull” and “bear” the shares on the stock market; but we need the opinion of some independent person, whoso knowledge, experience, and integrity in relation to this matter are undoubted. As an illustration of what I mean in this connexion, I may mention that one daily newspaper may say that its circulation is 250,000, and another 500,000, thusshowing that its position is better than its competitor. But one newspaper publishes in its columns an advertisement, that its circulation has reached a certain point, the accuracy of which is certified to b*y accountants or auditors. The public is’ asked to give credence to what is vouched for by an accountant or auditor, and the Institute of Science and Industry is, in this instance, merely asked to verify the tests. I earnestly trust the Minister will impress upon his colleagues theimportance of the matter, and that the Cabinet will give the company the assistance which it is justly seeking.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote (Department of Works and Railways), £130,955, agreed to. .
Postmaster -General’s Department.
Proposed vote, £1,260,390.
– Although an enormous profit has been made by the Department, it is intended - according to the information in the press, but which has not been supplied to Parliament - to float a loan to carry out additional work. If the Postal Department is making a huge profit, one would assume that its ordinary developmental work could be carried out on the profits it has derived.
– The honorable senator is quite mistaken. This matter was fully announced in both Houses of Parliament, although the honorable senator may not have been here at the time. A series of loans, amounting to, approximately, £9,000,000, are to be floated over a period of three years, and this money is to be spent on telephonic, telegraphic, and other equipment. A sinking fund has been provided to extinguish the debt within a given period.
– Where have the profits of the Department gone?
– Into the general revenue, to help provide a sinking fund.
– I wish to briefly refer to the unsatisfactory position in which Tasmania is placed in regard to its mail service.. As the Minister (Senator Pearce) is aware, a contract is in existence for a mail service between Melbourne and Launceston, and alternatively between Melbourne and Burnie, but owing to the progress of certain works in the Tamar the shipping company has altered the running of its boats, resulting in complete dislocation of the mail service. No one knows when regular services are likely to be restored. The contractors had to secure the permission of the PostmasterGeneral before any alteration was made, but’ the people of Tasmania are up in arm’s against it, and I earnestly ask the Government to see that the mail services are substantially improved, or that, as an alternative, a Government service is established. The present Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) and I were members of a Committee upon this matter appointed by the first Federal Parliament, and we advocated such a policy, but we could not get the Committee as a whole to agree to it. I trust, however, that the Government will give the most sympathetic consideration to the matter, and compel the company to provide an adequate mail service. If that is impracticable, it is the duty of the Federal Government to take the matter in hand and establish a service of our own.
– As the Minister representing the Postmaster-General (Mr. Gibson) in the Senate, I shall undertake to bring under his notice the complaint made by Senator Keating with a view, if possible, to having the matter rectified.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.80 p.m.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed votes (Department of Health) £19,780; (War Services) £287,010; (Refunds of Revenue) £300,000; (Advance to the Treasurer) £1,000,000, agreed to.
Schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without request; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– I have not had a great deal to say in the debate on this Bill, but before it passes I should like to reply to Senator Senior’s remarks of yesterday, on the question of unemployment. I referred to this matter last year, and also at the beginning of the present session, and whilst I remain a member of this Chamber I hope, if the occasion warrants, I shall always be prepared to discuss it, not in a hopeless and despairing frame of mind, that necessarily we must always have the unemployed with us, but with the hope that eventually the problem will disappear. It is little less than appalling to think that 11 per cent, of the workingclass population is always idle. I mention the matter again because yesterday Senator Senior appeared to think that my figures were incorrect.
– I was quoting from the last quarterly returns.
– I am not going to say that Senator Senior was wrong. It is possible that, bearing in mind our different view-points, both of us are right. I was quoting from a statement made in this Chamber by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) on the 15th March of this year, in the course of his reply to my remarks on the question of immigration. The Minister stated that in 1921 the percentage of unemployed in the Commonwealth per 100 workers employed was 11.2, and then he went on to make a comparison between the position in Western Australia, which State took 10 per cent, of the assisted immigrants and Queensland, which took only 1½ per cent., and showed that, notwithstanding that Western Australia had taken about six times the number of assisted immigrants that went to Queensland, the percentage of unemployment in each State was the same, namely 15 per cent. I have no desire to make any comparison whatever between the States in the matter of unemployment. I am concerned only with the view-point of the man, able and willing to work, but unable to find it, and concerned also with the serious economic waste which that state of affairs represents. I realize of course, that in my spasmodic way of speaking I am not able always to make my points quite clear to those who are listening to me, but I venture to say that between the two extremes of our social order, that is to say, between the strongest advocates of the capitalistic system and those who regard Communism as the one remedy for existing evils, there is a solid mass of common-sense public opinion which, if it could be welded together, and had its attention focussed upon this problem of unemployment, would devise the means to solve it. It should he possible, however, for the Government, with its all-embracing powers derived from the people, to evolve a scheme by which the whole of our people could be employed. If Great Britain can support a population of 46,000,000 people, Australia should be able to carry 100,000,000. I have a great deal of sympathy for the view-point of the man who finds it difficult to maintain his wife and family upon his weekly earnings, and I can easily understand why he should seein every newcomer to this country a possible sharer of the employment that is available to him. Therefore, I repeat that, if we want to people this country effectively, we must evolve . schemes by which all those willing to work may be able to get it. I believe this can be done, and done only by the moderate forces in the community. The way, as I have shown, lies between the two extremes in our social system, and I invite the Government, in the long recess which they are promising themselves, and the members of this Senate, to devote themselves to the consideration of this serious problem of unemployment.
.- - I question the figures submitted by Senator Gardiner. Yesterday I quoted from the statistical returns for March of this year, setting out the position of unemployment to as far back as 1914. As I stated yesterday, they disclose that in 1921 unemployment was much more serious than it is to-day. It is possible that the Minister (Senator Pearce), whose figures have been quoted by Senator Gardiner, dissected them for the purposes of comparison.
– Obviously my figures related to the different States, because 1 was comparing State with State.
– And therefore the* Minister had a different purpose in view.
– The figures I quoted were supplied by the Commonwealth Statistician.
– But they related to the various States, and Senator Gardiner has drawn a general conclusion from particular premises. As an old politician, he should know that this cannot be done. Unemployment may be more serious in one State than in another. There is no reason to argue that the percentage is as high throughout the Commonwealth.
– According to the figures I quoted, the rate for the Commonwealth was 11.2 per cent, in 1921, and 9.3 per cent, in 1922.
– And for the first quarter of this year the rate was 7.4 per cent. Now there is one other point. I thank Senator Gardiner, although perhaps it may not be necessary to do so, for giving me a nice- lecture about what I should do. It was very kind of him. In these parting moments I shall take it to heart, and in the recess which is before me no doubt it will bear good fruit.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
– In moving -
That the Senate do now adjourn,
I should like to refer to the fact that this is the last meeting of the Senate as it has been constituted for the last three years. When we meet again on Wednesday next, a number of senators who have been with us during that period will not be present, because their term of office will have expired. It is interesting to note that amongst the number are two of theoriginal thirty-six senators: I refer to Senator de Largie and Senator Keating. There will then remain in this Chamber only two of tho thirty-six members of the first Senate, namely, Senator E. D. Millen and myself. Another retiring senator is Senator Fairbairn, who was a member of another place before he came into this Chamber. I feel this severance of our political association very much indeed, particularly as .Senator de Largie, one of the retiring senators, has been my colleague almost since the first Federal election. I am sure that, whilst we conduct our party fights with great earnestness, and perhaps, also, a certain amount of bitterness, most of us, when the heat of party fighting dies down, feel some personal regret for those who fall by the way and have to sever their association with us. I am sure that honorable senators on both sides regret the severance of that long personal association. I speak for honorable senators on this side when I say that we regret the loss of the services of those gentlemen, and their association. I am sure that we wish them all good fortune and good health, and we hope that they may yet find many ways of serving the Commonwealth - possibly again in this Chamber. Knowing them as we do, we realize that they have rendered conscientious and valuable service to this Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth has reason to be grateful for the manner in which they have discharged their duties in this Chamber. I personally regret that they are leaving us, and I take this opportunity of wishing them every success, good fortune, and good health in their future careers.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear!
– -I associate myself with the remarks of the Leader of the Government in conveying good wishes towards honorable’ senators who had the ill-luck to be defeated at the last- election, and now’ have to take their seats outside this Chamber. I do not say that in any flippant manner. I do not intend making any excuses, but, perhaps, in the, vigour of our party fighting I, as frequently as any other senator, have transgressed the rules of debate, and may sometimes have caused’ a feeling of resentment and bitterness, particularly in the years that have gone by,, when we found our own partyranks depleted. I want to assure those honorable senators who are retiring that I have a very deep personal regard for each and every one of them. I am quite in earnest in joining with Senator Pearce in his expression of good wishes, good fortune, and good, health. I feel quite Sure that’ if the energy, courage, and ability which they have applied to the affairs of this country are given to their private interests, their reward at the end will be greater than that which a grateful country has it in its power to bestow upon them. I join with the Leader of the Government in wishing our late colleagues a good time outside, and all the prosperity that they deserve. I feel sure, judging by my knowledge of them extending over a period of many years, that they will derive a considerable measure of prosperity.
– Before putting the motion I desire to express - I am sure, on behalf of every honorable senator - the profound regret we feel that owing to the exigencies of political warfare, some who have been’ associated with us for so long will be unable to be with us next week. I have looked upon many of those honorable senators as dear personal friends, and I shall miss them very much. No wish that I could express for their prosperity outside this Chamber would come up to the measure of my desire on their behalf. I am perfectly certain that, apart from any party feeling, the camaraderie which has existed between honorable senators, no” matter to what party they belong, has been sufficient to insure the good wishes of every honorable member of the Senate for those who have fallen by the way in the late political fight, and have suffered what we hope is but a temporary eclipse.
We trust to see them here again. I am sure that I can express 1 the profound regret of every honorable senator, and our best wishes for their success in any walk of life upon which they may enter in future.
– In addition to thanking the leader of the Government (Senator Pearce), the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner), and the honorable the President -for the kind remarks which they have made, I desire to convey my hearty thanks to the reporting staff and the officers connected with the Senate. I am sure that it has been a pleasure to peruse what the reporting staff has reported us as having said ; it has been so nicely put in many cases that one would be scarcely vain enough to imagine that one had said it. The reporting staff at all times’ has been most courteous and most willing to oblige in every way. I have frequently had occasion to trouble the officers of the Library to search in the ‘ ‘ heights above and in the depths, below,” and almost in “ the waters under the earth,” going to i the far-back ages for that which I required, but never once has there, been an expression of unwillingness or even a symptom of it. It has been my good fortune, whilst here, to have found the officers in every part of the building kind, courteous, and willing at all times to serve. I shall not have another opportunity of expressing my thanks to them, but I shall carry with me a very pleasant memory of them.
I regret that my leaving the Parliament will mean a severance to a very great extent of the friendships I have formed here; that is the darkest blot in the whole thing. We must all meet it sooner or later, either by death or defeat, and perhaps it is kinder that it should come by way of defeat. I must frequently have tried your temper, Mr. President, but you must know full well that is has never been wilful; rather has it been due to my ignorance of many things that pertain to parliamentary life. The Ministers probably will breathe freely, because of the fact that-“ that troublesome man who sat in the corner “ has disappeared from among them. I thank honorable senators for their kindness, and express my good’-will to all. There is not in’ the whole place one person towards whom 1 have an angry feeling. Although, perhaps, Senator Gardiner and Ihave frequently crossed swords, I believe we are still firm friends.
– Perhaps, as an original senator, I might be pardoned for having a few words to say on this matter. I heartily appreciate the good wishes that have been expressed, the more so because I know that they are sincere. No utterance on the floor of this Chamber was required to assure me of the sentiments that were entertained towards me and towards those who, like myself are retiring from the Senate atthe end of this month. I heartily reciprocate those good wishes, and I join with Senator Senior in expressing my sincere thanks and my obligation to the officers of this Senate for their helpfulness tome throughout the lengthy period during which I have served as a senator. I also thank the officers of the Public Service of the Commonwealth, particularly those at Central Administration. For more than twenty-two years I have been in constant communication and correspondence with them in relation to matters to which I had to attend in discharging my duties as a senator.I have met with nothing but uniform courtesy, attention, promptitude, capacity and ability. Often as I have had to criticise the administration of particular Departments, . I have never failed to recognise the efficiency and the capacity of the officers of those Departments. I thank all officers associated with the Senate, the Hansard staff and others. In reciprocating the good wishes that have been expressed towards me, I heartily wish all continuing members of the Senate with whom. I have had close personal associations - associations which I hope will be maintained - -prosperity in their private affairs, and success in their political efforts. T. wish them jointly and corporately, in common with’ new senators who will take the place of those of us who are now retiring, every success as a Senate. I hope that this Senate will realize its status under the Constitution. I trust that all senators will be jealous to maintain the status of the Senate, and that the Senate will fulfil the functions which the founders of the Constitution fondly believed it would fulfil when they gave it its Constitution.
– I desire to thank the Leader of theGovernment, the Leader of the Opposition, and you, Mr. President, for. tha kindly remarks which have been made. I have had nothing but courtesy from you, sir, from the other senators, from the officers of the Senate, the Hansard. staff, and also from the press. I think I can say that the press has not been severe on me, perhaps because they thought I was hardly worthy of their attention. I think, at any rate, that they have been courteous towards me. When differing with other people, . I have always tried not to impute motives and never to hit below the belt. I think that that has-been the spirit which has animated this Chamber. We have differed a great deal on many occasionsin regard to what has been. the right way to bring about that which we all desire - the greatest happiness to the greatest number. I hope that the many friendships which I have formed in this Chamber, and also in another place, will not be broken. I live practically among you, and I hope that from time to time I shall see my old friends. I da not wish ypu to think that my brief remarks indicate that I do not feel sincerely every word that Isay. I thank you verymuch, Mr. President, and every honorable senator for the kindness shown me during the six years I have been a member of the Senate.
– Unfortunately, Iwas absent when the remarks of the Minister (Senator Pearce), the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner), and others were made in regard to the retiring members of the Senate. What I have heard from others leads me to believe thatthose expressions were of a very kindly nature. I also desire to tender my thanks for what has been said.. Having come here a little over twentytwo years ago, and remained here continuously ever since, and having acted as. Whip in this Chamber for a greater number of years, perhaps, than any other senator, 1 thinkI can say that I understand the Chamber very well. I have met really good fellows sitting on both sides of the House, belonging to different parties. Notwithstanding the continuous, adverse, carping criticism of politicians by the press, I fearlessly assert from my experience extending over a period of twenty-two years, that the average of politicians in Australia is far and away above that of the other manhood of Australia in manliness, in honesty, and in everything that goeB towards the making of a good man. The late election showed beyond doubt that the politicians did not get a fair go. 1 am not referring to the fact that I was one of those who were defeated. It will be a bad day for Australia if it allows an opinion, which has been raised and fostered by the press for the particular purpose of weakening the Parliament of the country, to prevail. I hope honorable senators will not allow the attitude ofthe press to affect their individual or collective judgment. They are the elect of the people, and no newspaper editor occupies such a high position. No doubt these individuals imagine that they have capacity and judgment above that of the average man, and are endowed with powers enabling them to say exactly what should be done in Parliament. If they would come into the open and allow their fellow electors to pass judgment upon them, it would be seen that they are not the supermen they would have us to suppose. I have met a number of men from the press who have come into Parliament, but I have never recognised in them ability above that possessed by the average member.
I desire to add a word of praise for the officers of the Senate. They have endeavoured to do their duty at all times. The officials in the lower grades have invariably been straightforward and will ing, and in saying farewell, for the time being, at any rate, I wish to express my appreciaton of the services of the official staff.
.- I did not hear the remarks made by yourself, Mr. President, the Leader of the Government (Senator Pearce), and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner), but I take it for granted that the sentiments expressed were of the kindliest nature. I join with other honorable senators in expressing my regret, to some extent, at having to part, not with my duties as a member of Parliament, but with the good companions I have been associated with for about fifteen years. I have no cause to be sorry for anything I have done in my political career, and I shall retire into private life feeling satisfied that to the best of my ability I have discharged my duty. I think my fifteen years of public service entitles me to the relaxation and enjoyment of private life. One would not recognise members of the Opposition as men if they did not give blow for blow. As Britishers they have always acted in that manner regardless of which Bide of the Senate they were on, and any bitter things that have been said, or any hard blows ‘ that have been struck, have soon been forgotten because of the good personal feeling that has always existed. The companionable’ qualities of one’s friends and opponents in the political arena serve to make a politician’s life worth while. I cordially thank the heads of Departments and other officers of Parliament for the manner in which they have consistently helped me whenever I have needed assistance. I wish the members of the Opposition the best of health and success personally. Their numbers have been augmented, and I hope they will enjoy such fruits of public life as may fall to them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at3.6 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 June 1923, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1923/19230629_senate_9_103/>.