10 August 1923

9th Parliament · 2nd Session

The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.

page 2442



Conditions onss. “Benalla.”

Senator FOLL:

– Has the Minister in charge of the Immigration Department seen the statement, in last night’s MelbourneHerald, involving grave charges regarding the conditions provided for immigrants on the s.s. Benalla, and, if so, has he any communication to make to the Senate ?

Senator WILSON:
Honorary Minister · SOUTH AUSTRALIA · NAT

– I noticed the statement referred to, and deemed it necessary to make inquiries immediately, but, unfortunately, I have not yet received the. departmental report. However, I have before me a statement that appeared in the South Australian press of 7th August, and, as it has a direct bearing upon the matter, it is, I think an effective answer to the allegations. It is to the following effect : -

Included in theeighty-one passengers for this State were fifty-two boys, ton other nominees, and one domestic. All looked well. Satisfaction was expressed with the conditions on the voyage. The Commonwealth Welfare Officer (Mr. T.E. Sedgwick) remarked upon the absence of ill-health and ill-feeling. The passengers unanimously passed a resolution which expressed to the Commander (Captain Sheepwash), his officers, and crew, sincere thanks and appreciation of the food and other advantages which they had enjoyed. The boys expressed their appreciation -as follows : - “ We are all conscious of great growth and development from the food and attractions provided, and wo regret only that in the abundance of our energies some of the temporary- fittings of the vessel were damaged–

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon T Givens:

– Order! The question, based as it is on a newspaper report, and the Minister’s answer, which takes the form of a quotation from another newspaper paragraph, are out of order.

Senator WILSON:

– Well, I inform Senator Foll that I have looked into the matter, and I am satisfied that there is no justification for the extraordinarystatements made. The officers arc doing all that is possible to insure the comfort of those who come to this country. I may add that, a few days ago, I had an opportunity of visiting one of these vessels and meeting some of the boys that were coming to Victoria. I found them a very fine lot indeed, and I am sure they will do very well in Australia.

Senator FINDLEY:

– Has the Minister seen the very serious allegation in the press, made by a prominent official in Tasmania, concerning the class of boys that are being introduced to that State? If he has not, will he have inquiries made and ascertain if it is correct?

Senator WILSON:

– I have not seen the report referred to. I shall certainly make the necessary inquiries.

page 2442


The following papers were pre sented . -

Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Deter minations by the Arbitrator, &c. -

No. 10 of 1923 - Australian Postal Electricians’ Union.

No. 13 of 1923- -Commonwealth Telegraph Traffic and Supervisory Officers’ Association.

*Budget,* [10 August, 1923.] 1923-24. 2443 Invalidand Old-age Pensions Act - Statement *re* Pensions for the twelve months ended 30th June, 1923. {: .page-start } page 2443 {:#debate-2} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-2-0} #### GRATUITY BONDS {: #subdebate-2-0-s0 .speaker-KKZ} ##### Senator GARDINER:
NEW SOUTH WALES asked the Min ister representing the Treasurer, *upon notice -* >In view of the fact that gratuity bonds fall due in March, 1924, are the holders of such bonds permitted to transfer to bonds under the new loan? {: #subdebate-2-0-s1 .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE:
Minister of Home and Territories · WESTERN AUSTRALIA · NAT -- The Treasurer supplies the following answer : - >It is regretted that holders of war gratuity bonds cannot bo permitted to exchange their bonds for bonds of the now Commonwealth loan. {: .page-start } page 2443 {:#debate-3} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-3-0} #### NORTHERN TERRITORY {: #subdebate-3-0-s0 .speaker-JZC} ##### Senator O'LOGHLIN:
SOUTH AUSTRALIA asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, *upon notice -* >Have the Commonwealth Government yet received any communication from the South Australian Government with regard to its declared policy as to the return of the southern portion of the Northern Territory to South Australia? {: #subdebate-3-0-s1 .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE:
NAT -- No. {: .page-start } page 2443 {:#debate-4} ### SUSPENSION OF SITTING {: #debate-4-s0 .speaker-10000} ##### The PRESIDENT: -- As the atmosphere of the chamber is rather unsatisfactory, following upon the flashlight photograph which has just been taken, I shall suspend the sitting for fifteen minutes. *Sitting suspended from 11.14,. to 11.30 a.m.* {: .page-start } page 2443 {:#debate-5} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-5-0} #### IMPERIAL AND ECONOMIC CONFERENCES Personal Explanation {: #subdebate-5-0-s0 .speaker-JYG} ##### Senator ELLIOTT:
Victoria .- (By *leave).* - Discussing yesterday the Imperial and Economic Conferences, I stated that, as the law stood at present, it would be necessary for Australia to make application to the British Parliament for extended powers to be conferred on her. **Senator Needham** thereupon interjected, " Are we to go cap in hand to the British Government?" My reply was, " It amounts to that." I did not intend the impression to be conveyed that there would be anything derogatory to our dignity, power, or prestige, in asking the Mother of Parliaments to grant us further power. It might be said that Australia went cap in hand to the Imperial Parliament to obtain its present Constitution. To my mind, however, that is not the way in which to describe the position. {: .page-start } page 2443 {:#debate-6} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-6-0} #### BUDGET, 1923-24 Debate resumed from 8th August, 1923 *(vide* page 2301), on motion by **Senator Pearce** - >That the Estimates and Budget papers be printed. {: #subdebate-6-0-s0 .speaker-KMI} ##### Senator GRAHAM:
Western Australia -- I am somewhat disappointed with the Budget. I agree with the honorable senator who said that the only thing upon which the Treasurer **(Dr. Earle Page)** can be complimented is the prompt presentation of the Budget. It takes us nowhere, however, and gives us nothing. It is proposed to increase the invalid and old-age pensions by 2s. 6d. per week, bringing the weekly payment to 17s. 6d. I suppose we must be thankful for small mercies from a NationalistCountry party composite Government, but, considering the large surplus disclosed, I am surprised that it has not seen its way to increase the payment to at least *£1* a week. The pension is not' sufficient to meet the high cost of living. There is no apparent intention on the part of the Treasurer to reduce direct taxation or Tariff duties. According to the Budget, the Commonwealth commenced paying invalid and old-age pensions in the year 1909-10. The Commonwealth Statistician's figures show that food, groceries, and housing, which in 1909-10 could be procured for 20s., in 1922-23 cost 34s. 3d. Those figures prove that the purchasing power of a sovereign to-day is considerably less than it was when the Invalid and. Old-age Pensions Act was passed. It has been said in another place that many old-age pensioners have other sources of income. I venture to say that 90 per cent. of the old-age pensioners have no other source of income, but are entirely dependent upon the amount which they receive from the Government. Honorable senators may think that they will not require this dole in their declining days. I hope that they will not. There are, however, thousands of persons who are reaching the age when they will have to apply to the Government for a pension. I should like to see the payment made *£1* a week now, and later raised to 30s. a week. Even the latter sum would not be more than the old-age pensioners are entitled to receive. A person has to be in Australia for a certain number of years before he is eligible for a pension. Those who .are Australianborn have paid into the coffers of the Commonwealth over a number of years large sums of money by way of direct and indirect taxation. In another place it has been stated that the payment of pensions, not only to invalids and oldaged people, but to returned soldiers, encourages pauperism. I totally disagree with that view. The soldiers are justly entitled to every penny they receive. The aged and infirm, also, should be given the greatest consideration. I hope the Government will increase Ihe payment by a further 2s. 6d. making a total of *£1* a week, so as to enable these persons to have a small degree of comfort. **Senator Duncan** quoted statistics to prove that there are more Savings Bank depositors to-day than ever previously ; and he said that those figures proved that the rank and file of the people are richer to-day than they ever were. I contend that the number of depositors in our Savings Banks has been affected largely by the immigration to Australia that has taken place. That also has been responsible, to some extent, for the increase in the number of unemployed. There are many hundreds of children who have no boots to wear, and who are scantily clad. That has been due to the fact that provision has not been made to absorb the immigrants on their arrival. The unemployment at the present time is greater than at any period in the history of Australia. I could not help comparing the pomp and luxury that was evidenced at the opening of Parliament with the spectacle of 500 or 600 men walking the streets of Melbourne searching for work to enable them to feed and clothe their wives and families. Although there may be a greater number of depositors in the Savings Banks, there are just as many people who are in need of proper nourishment and clothing as there ever have been. **Senator Duncan** stated that honorable senators on this side are opposed to immigration. That assertion is in cor rant,and is on a par with some of the other' statements made by that honorable gentleman. Members on this side stand for a clean and sane policy of immigration. We realize that the vast vacant spaces of this continent must be peopled. My own State of Western Australia has a larger area of unpeopled land than has any other State. The necessary steps have not been taken by the Governments of Australia to provide employment for immigrants when they land here. A member of another place said that the choice of emigrants in Great Britain was faulty. That statement, as far as my State is concerned, is largely true. A prospective emigrant must prove to the agent in Great Britain that he possesses some knowledge and has had some experience of farm work. In the thickly populated centres of that country there are large numbers of men and women who are so dissatisfied with their surroundings that they are ready to go anywhere in the hope of improving their condition. 1 give them credit for that ambition, but they invariably sign on for positions which they have not previously filled. When they come to Australia they find farming methods so different from these in England that they know nothing about them. They cannot carry out the compact entered into with the agent to become farm labourers, and they drift into the cities, where they compete with the industrial workers at reduced rates of pay. If people brought from the Homeland have to displace Australian workmen in order to get a living, there is something wrong. The Government should make arrangements to provide for these men when they arrive. 1 was talking to a young man in Perth about three mouths ago. He said, "Are you from the gold-fields? I am going upthere for a job." I replied, " There are 600 or 700 men out of work in my town, and I do not know how you will get on." He told me he had never worked in a mine, but came from the city of London. I asked him, " For what did YOU come out here?" He replied, "To be a farm labourer." I asked, " Were you a farm labourer in the Old Country?" and he answered, " No." When I asked him, " How did you get here?" he said, " We are shown splendid pictures in the Old Country of Australia with fields of golden corn with streets, so to- speak,, flowing with milk and honey, and with gold to be. had for picking up." These people are lured from England by pictures such as that. 'When they arrive here they find that, they must starve or work at a reduced rate of pay. {: .speaker-K1L} ##### Senator Barnes: -- For £1 a week. {: .speaker-KMI} ##### Senator GRAHAM: -- Not always fi, hut often 10a. Immigrants are working for lUs. a week as apprentices on some of tha farms of Western Australia. The men brought out to work on farms are often not accustomed to farm work, but are city men. Consequently they drift to the cities. The young man to whom I have referred went to an agent in England and applied for a passage to Australia. The agent said to him, * You must show me some proof that you know somehing of farming."'' The young man replied, " I do- not know much about it, but I will get you proof."' He went into the country and worked for a fortnight for a farmer, who gave him a recommendation which said that " The bearer- of this note has worked for me on -- farm." He did not say whether the man had worked for five minutes . or twenty-four hours, but the testimonial qualified the young man to sail for Aus* tralia as an immigrant. -I do not blame him for coining. He and others Bike him come here to improve their condition;. In addition to having to cope with our Own, unemployed, we have to d'eal with these men. I suppose it is left to the discretion of a farmer who employs them at l;0s. a week to say how long their apprenticeship shall last. It may last for two years. {: .speaker-JXZ} ##### Senator Duncan: -- Surely that is the fault of the individual, not the authorities,. {: .speaker-KMI} ##### Senator GRAHAM: -- The cause inmany instances is bad' selection. I extend my hand to these people across the sea, but we should make- sure before we bring them here- that they are of the right class. A Ministerialist in another place has said that the method of selection! is bad,, and. when: such statements are made by its own supporters, the Government should realize that there is some truth in them. Nothing is further from the minds of members of the Opposition than the statement made by **Senator Duncan. Senator Guthrie** said that, about 12,000 ex-service men. were prepared te* come to thus country.. For peep ling thi® country and making it a great nation, we. need young,, virile persons, who cam adapt themselves to. Australian* conditions. Only in that way can we build! upon the foundation, stone of this greats Democracy. Why shon,ld we bring out- 2,000 ex-service men ? I venture the assertion that a great percentage of them are " black and tans," who have been pushed Out of their jobs, and want a new avenue for employment. I do not wish for one* moment to suggest that **Senator Guthrie** approves of that class of person beingbrought out, but I wish to- emphasize the necessity for careful selection of emigrants! before embarkation. We have sufficient, of that class here already. I am disappointed that the Treasurer, who is a medical man, has not placed money on the Estimates for medical research and promoting national health. Not a word is said on that subject.. I should like to see £80,000 or £90,000 on the Estimates for continuing experiments-, which have been started from time to* time, and which in many instances havebeen proved successful. I refer particu*- larly to the Spahlinger and Paget treatments for consumption. The inventor, of one of those systems has spent £80,000- in research work. With **Senator Needham,** and **Mr. A.** E. Green, M.P., I waited on the Prime Minister some) time ago with reference to this matter. He replied that when. **Mr.. Lawson,** the Premier of Victoria, returned from the Old Country we. would be communicated- with in reference to the inquiries made by **Mr. Lawson** abroad'. The Prime Minister is, abusy man, and may have overlooked' Bts' promise, but **Mr. Lawson** has been back in Australia a considerable time. {: .speaker-KBJ} ##### Senator Wilson: -- Will the honorable senator accept my assurance that the most careful inquiries are being made into that subject by the Health Department?-' {: .speaker-KMI} ##### Senator GRAHAM: -- I am prepared, tq accept that assurance, but there is nothing on the Estimates to show that anything has been done, or will be done, Err that direction. I feel very keenly on this, subject. There are hundreds of minerson the eastern gold-fields of Western Australia who are merely living to die from day to day. They are failing every day from their occupational, disease. If the* Spahlinger, and Paget treatments have been proved, as is claimed, a success, they are worth a trial here, and would confer a great boon on the miners of Australia. The Government should do something in the matter. If there is a possibility oi coping with this terrible scourge, a sum of £100,000 would be well spent towards that end. {: .speaker-KBJ} ##### Senator Wilson: -- When the methods of treatment have been justified, the Government will not hesitate to spend the money. {: .speaker-KMI} ##### Senator GRAHAM: -- I believe that is so. {: .speaker-KOZ} ##### Senator Hoare: -- The Honorary Minister **(Senator Wilson)** should be sympathetically disposed towards the miners, because I understand that he was once employed at Broken Hill. {: .speaker-KBJ} ##### Senator Wilson: -- That is right. {: .speaker-KMI} ##### Senator GRAHAM: -- Those who are conversant with the conditions existing in mining districts, particularly in Western Australia, know that it is a common thing to see men walking around the streets quite incapable of carrying on their ordinary work, and who eventually find their way into a sanatorium, where they remain until death relieves them of their misery. These men devote the best years of their life to working in the bowels of the earth to raise the precious metal for which we all clamour, and which played such an important part in connexion with the recent great conflict. Mining operations are carried on, in some cases, for three shifts during the twenty-four hours, and, although wages are fixed by Arbitration Courts and other tribunals, the remuneration of the miners is totally inadequate when one considers the risks they incur in consequence of miners' complaints and the dangers generally associated with the industry. {: .speaker-KOZ} ##### Senator Hoare: -- All in order to secure a crust. {: .speaker-KMI} ##### Senator GRAHAM: -- The wages they receive provide little more than that. Many of them, rather than become a burden on the community, are maintained largely by the contributions received from their fellow workmen. It is the duty of the Government to afford relief, and it is to be hoped that the investigations which the Honorary Minister says are being made will be to their advantage. The capitalistic section of the community does not care whether they live or die; its only concern is the value of what they produce. The Treasurer **(Dr. Earle Page),** who, we understand, is an accomplished surgeon and should take a deep interest in matters appertaining to health, has not suggested any expenditure in this direction. The proposed reduction in postal rates will be of little benefit to the members of the rank and file, who write, perhaps, only one letter a week. The wealthy manufacturers and commercial men, who send out thousands of circulars, and whose general correspondence is very heavy, will derive the chief advantage. **Senator Guthrie** referred to the revenue received by way of Customs duty on imported textiles and wearing apparel. Unfortunately, owing to the absence of locally produced cotton and suitable machinery for the manufacture of cotton goods, we cannot, at present, compete with overseas manufacturers in cotton goods, but there is no .reason why large quantities of manufactured woollen goods should be imported when we have the raw product available in Australia and woollen mills capable of producing all we require. **Senator Guthrie** said that British manufacturers were producing serges at a cost of 21s. per yard in England and selling the same material here at 4s. 6d. per yard. These goods, he said, were being dumped into Australia and entering into competition with the locally manufactured article. A. firm selling goods at 4s. 6d. a yard which cost 21s. per yard to produce would soon become bankrupt, and this would be the position of many manufacturers in England if the British Government had not come to their assistance. The weight of wool in a suit length of 3-J yards would not be more than 2J lbs., and one often wonders who derives the benefit. Prior to the war the best serges produced in England were sold at 14s. a yard, but the price to-day, notwithstanding the small quantity of wool in the material, is as high as 34s. a yard. One can readily realize the benefits which would have accrued to the Australian people if the Geelong Mill had continued in operation under Government control. {: .speaker-JYG} ##### Senator Elliott: -- But civilians do not wear uniforms. Budget, [10 August, 1923.] 1923-24. 2447 {: #subdebate-6-0-s1 .speaker-KMI} ##### Senator GRAHAM: -- Quite apart from civilians there are hundreds of thousands of people throughout Australia wearing Australian tweeds, and who would purchase them in the future if snpplies were available. The raw product is exported from Australia, manufactured into woollens in England, returned to Australia, where a heavy duty is imposed, and then sold to the consumers at a preposterous price. It is a scandal to realize that the Government have disposed of the Commonwealth Woollen Mill at Geelong. It cannot be disputed, as **Senator Guthrie** mentioned, that the Australian merino wool is superior to any in the world, and although our machinery may not be of the most modern type, we able to manufacture our own requirements. I have handled a lot of material from the Blisse's mill, the plant in which has been kept up to date during the last five hundred years, and although we cannot expect to produce material of the same high standard as that manufactured in the old-established English mills, we should at least be able to produce material of a sufficiently good quality to meet the requirements of Australian users. A previous Government started well by establishing the Commonwealth woollen mill, but we have cut ourselves off at the " pockets " and do not now intend to continue. The disposal of the mill was one of the biggest mistakes the Government could possibly have made. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Pearce: -- The mill is still manufacturing. {: .speaker-KMI} ##### Senator GRAHAM: -- Yes, but not as a Government concern. {: .speaker-KOZ} ##### Senator Hoare: -- There will not be any honest competition. {: .speaker-KMI} ##### Senator GRAHAM: -- No. Reference has been made in another place to the position in which the fruit-growers are placed, and I do not know whether it is intended to show special consideration to the fruit-growers in Tasmania or in Victoria. It has been said that the fruitgrowers are losing 2s. 6d. a case on the fruit they produce, and it has been suggested that fruit trees should be uprooted and the supply decreased merely, I suppose, to keep up the price. Any one who has cultivated fruit trees, even on a small scale, knows that they do not require very much attention apart from pruning, which is usually done by an expert. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator Foll: -- Expenditure is incurred in eradicating pests. {: .speaker-KMI} ##### Senator GRAHAM: -- Yes, and there) are other pests which should be eradicated. {: .speaker-JXP} ##### Senator Drake-Brockman: -- It costs me quite a lot to deal with pests in my orchard. {: .speaker-KMI} ##### Senator GRAHAM: -- That may be so, but one should not suggest the destruction of trees in order to keep up the price of fruit. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Pearce: -- There is underconsumption rather than over-production. {: .speaker-KMI} ##### Senator GRAHAM: -- That may be so, but I am merely repeating what was said in another place. A statement attributed to **Senator Duncan** appeared in the *Sydney Morning Herald* on Tuesday last in regard to the attitude of Labour senators to the Navigation Act. {: .speaker-JXZ} ##### Senator Duncan: -- I say at once that that statement as published is not correct. {: .speaker-KMI} ##### Senator GRAHAM: -- Honorable senators are aware that a motion moved by **Senator Ogden** concerning the application of Part VI. of the Navigation Act to vessels trading on the Australian coast, particularly between the mainland and Tasmania, was debated. The question has not yet been fully discussed, but honorable senators on this side are opposed to what **Senator Ogden** advocates. {: .speaker-JXZ} ##### Senator Duncan: -- We do not know that such is the case. {: .speaker-KMI} ##### Senator GRAHAM: -- We intend to oppose the motion. Honorable senators on this side of the Senate are absolutely opposed to the suspension of the coastal provisions of the Navigation Act to enable steamers employing black crews to trade between Tasmania and the mainland. I stand for fair play to all honorable senators irrespective of their political views, and I strongly resent the statement attributed to **Senator Duncan.** {: .speaker-JXZ} ##### Senator Duncan: -- The statement as published in the *Sydney Morning Herald* is not what I said. It is a garbled report {: .speaker-KMI} ##### Senator GRAHAM: -- The report reads - >The refusal of the Federated Seamen's Union to affiliate with the Australian Labour party showed that the seamen had good reason to doubt the *bona fides* of the Labour party, said **Senator Duncan** yesterday. 2448 *Budget,* [SENATE.] 1923-24. {: .speaker-JYX} ##### Senator Findley: -- It that true? Did the honorable senator make that statement to the press? {: .speaker-JXZ} ##### Senator Duncan: -- It is true that they refused to affiliate. {: #subdebate-6-0-s2 .speaker-KMI} ##### Senator GRAHAM:
WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP -- The report continues - >During the past week, said **Senator Dudcan,** there had been an attempt by Labour senators to nullify that portion of the Navigation Act which prevented British ships carrying, in some cases, coloured crews from enjoying the coastal provisions of the Act, but ithad been defeated by Nationalist senators, fortunately for the Australian seamen and the principle of aWhite Australia. I appeal to you, **Mr. President,** as to whether such a question ever came before theSenate for decision ? A vote has not yet been taken on the motion. If **Senator Duncan** did not -make the statement attributedto him, will he give the report an absolute denial ? {: #subdebate-6-0-s3 .speaker-KPQ} ##### Senator KINGSMILL:
Western Australia -- I feel a certain amount of diffidence in addressing myself in, I hope, a cool and collected manner to the subject of the Budget, forthe reason that if I do my speech is liable to lack interest. The Budget offers such a labyrinth of alleys and by-ways of discussionthat I may be exctised if I make my appearance from one of them. I desire, in the first place, to make a personal explanation concerning -a matter mentioned in this Chamber last evening. Whenthe subject of India was being discussed, I rather offended the susceptibilitiesof my honorable friend,Senator Reid. So quickly was heat engendered, that I am looking to the honorable senatoras a valuable meansof raisingthe temperature ofthe Chamber in the winter months, when the Parliament is transferred to Canberra. Unfortunately, I am afraid 'that **Senator Reid** and myself look at the Indian question from totally different standpoints, which, so far as I am concerned, are practically unalterable. Had I known the capacity in whichthehonoraole senator was speaking, I should have suffered in silence, even though I did not agree with him. I was quite unaware that the honorable senator was not only a representative of Queensland, but a plenipotentiary of the Nationalists in India; and 1 apologize for not listening with greater respect to what he had to say. It would be advantageous,however, if honorable gentlemen occupying dual positions of this nature would wear some distinctive garb for the guidance of honorable senators. I should like to entreat my honorable friends opposite to be of better cheer than theyhave been this morning. I do not think matters are so desperate, as they seem to imagine with the people they represent. I ref use to believe, with **Senator McHugh,** that the working man has not threepence with which to buy an apple. {: .speaker-JXJ} ##### Senator Needham: -- It is very often the case. SenatorKINGSMILL.- I am sorry to hear it, but if it is the case, it has not come under my observation. Perhaps a working man withthreepenceto spend would not wish to spend it on apples. Evidently there is not so much of old Adam about himas rny honorable friends opposite would have us believe. Even if the position is as honorable senators opposite suggest, let me ask Senators Graham, McHugh, and Hoare to turnto adversity a -smiling face, becausethey are likely to achieve their object more quickly by assuming a -cheerful countenance than by weeping and wailing. There is a tendency 'to connect immigration with unemployment. What has been said this morning by **Senator Graham** bears out what I have already contended in this Chamber ; that is, that there are two essentials to successful immigration : In the first place, the representatives of the people of Australia should not tell lies about this country; and secondly, the immigrant should not tell lies about himself. Let us hope that the Prime Minister **(Mr. Bruce)** and those accompanying him to Great Britain will take such steps as are necessaryto have these conditions observed. It appears to me that in the case mentioned by **Senator Graham,** the man who went to work for a fortnight for a farmer, must at least have been guilty of the suppression of the truth, because I cannotbelieve that any gentleman would take such astatement from a man, and yet pass him as & desirable immigrant. After all, immigration of a decent sort is the best possible remedy for unemployment. Lack of employment in this country has come about largely becausethe number of *Budget,* [10 August, 1923.] 1923-24. 2449 men who wish to work for wages-, but will not. work for themselves, is increasing. A great cartoonist - I think it was Phil May-invariably used to depict the typical Australian' leaning against a post. That was twenty years ago. To-day if Phil May were depicting the same Australian he would draw him leaning against an employer. Unfortunately, at the point of contact the surface is being abraded, and the irritation is increased by the grains of sand which my honorable friends opposite apply. If the immigration policy results in bringing to these shores a class of men who are willing to work for themselves, and not for wages, a great deal will have been done towards making Australia a land of great prosperity. I strongly adhere to the view that a country of small holders working independently for themselves is bound to succeed. What a pity it is that we should have to bring men from outside. Australia to. take up this work. It would be far better if our own people would do it. This fair land is rich andkind to those who treat it properly, and I wish that, more Australians were willing to. try their fortune on the land. The drift to the cities undoubtedly is the curse of Australia, and if anything can be done to avert that drift, it should be encouraged by this. Parliament. Same immigration is the best step we can take in that direction. I regard it as a reflection on Australia that we. should have to depend upon people from the Mother Country again to discover this island continent. It is regrettable that, although our forefathers, blazed the. trail, their sons arenot willing to-day, in greater numbers to develop this fair land. One. of the essentials for successful' production is the provision of markets, and I may be pardoned, perhaps, for referring to the necessity for Government encouragement in the direction of giving the producers proper facilities for reaching markets which are available to them. A great deal was said during the previous discussion about intra-Empire trade and the necessity for all parts of the. Empire to trade freely, and, it might be inferred, almost exclusively, one with another. It is very difficult to generalize on these matters. Let me point out at once that, so far as Australia is concerned, that state of affairs would fall very far short of the ideal. Reciprocal agreements are frequently spoken of, and we have heard1 of the necessity for a reciprocal agreement with Canada. Such a proposal should be approached with caution. Le me say at the outset that the idea of re- ciprocity postulates in the first place that the parties to it should meet on equal terms. The terms as between Australia and Canada at present are far from equal, because our exports to that country are negligible, while our imports are very large indeed. If a reciprocal agreement is made with Canada, it must almost immediately result in the utter destruction of the timber trade of Australia. It has also to be remembered that there are portions of the civilized world adjacent to Australia which offer a very much better market for Australian produce than is likely to be obtained elsewhere. I refer principally to the countries on the south and south-east coasts of Asia, which do not belong to. the Empire,but which are natural markets for Australia, and more particularly far the State which I have the honour to represent. When making up their minds on this subject, I hope that the members of the Government, and particularly those who are about to visit Great Britain, will keep this fact in view, and not rush headlong into an arrangement that, although apparently very alluring, may prove, after all, to be unfortunate. Whatever use the Commonwealth Government Shipping Linehas - and it undoubtedly had great uses at one period of its existence - in helping us. to. exploit the markets on the south and south-east coasts of Asia, that use has disappeared with the proposal to sell the smaller vessels of the fleetIt is not likely that the subsidizing of other lines of steamers visiting certain ports will meet the case, because in those ports and in those countries we encounter opposition that is fed by bounties on freights from both Canada and the UnitedStates of America. The only way in which we may hope to meet that opposition is by subsidizing freights - not by the subsidizing of ships. I have no doubt that the Prime Minister **(Mr. Bruce)** and his colleague **(Senator Wilson)** will have a good deal' of advice tendered to them on this subject, and, 2450 *Budget,* [SENATE.] 1923-24. therefore, I need not necessarily dwell upon it now; but I repeat that in my judgment a policy having for its object the subsidizing of freights instead of vessels, is likely to be the more effective. This subject should be approached with a great deal of caution ; but we may, I think, safely leave it in the hands of the Board to be appointed to manage the Commonwealth Government Line of steamers. The. Line, as at present constituted, can only act as a policeman with regard to freights between Australia and the Mother Country. It will undoubtedly prevent freights from rising beyond a certain limit; but, unfortunately, that limit is a very severe handicap upon the development of Australian trade. The Leader of the Opposition **(Senator Gardiner)** and his friends are continually reminding us, and I am glad that they do, that the conditions for the employees of the Line are the best in the world. This must be a matter of very great satisfaction. I hope the employees will long enjoy those favorable conditions of employment; but the people of Australia have to pay for them . If we give anything in one direction we have to make up for it in another. If we keep the seamen employed on our Commonwealth steamers working under the best labour conditions in the world, we shall have to find other means by which we may maintain our trade in competition with other nations. The most likely means in my judgment is a policy for the subsidizing of freights. The success of the Commonwealth Government Line will fall a long way short of the eloquent and optimistic declaration of the Minister **(Senator Wilson)** who introduced the Bill providing for its transfer to a Board of Management unless in the first place a capable and sensible Board is appointed. But a still greater responsibility for the success of the Line rests upon the shoulders of honorable, senators opposite. If the people they represent treat that Line as though it were their Line, as though they were partners in the venture, and not as if it were the property of employers bent upon oppression, there will be every possibility of its success. But if, on the other hand, they persistin an attitude which is equivalent to something more than pin-pricks, waiting as sometimes they have waited, until a steamer is ready to sail, with her passengers and cargo on board, and then ceasing work for some reason, possibly because an officer has spoken to a steward to whom he has not been formally introduced or something of that sort- {: .speaker-KOZ} ##### Senator Hoare: -- Be fair, now. That is not right. {: .speaker-KTD} ##### Senator McDougall: -- It does not hurt us, anyhow. {: .speaker-KPQ} ##### Senator KINGSMILL: -- Well, I shall withdraw the statement, and say that if the men employed on the Commonwealth Government Line of steamers cease work on trivial pretexts- {: .speaker-KOZ} ##### Senator Hoare: -- That is better. {: .speaker-KPQ} ##### Senator KINGSMILL: -- If they do that, then the Line will have no chance of succeeding. It will be foredoomed to failure. In the debate on this motion, which opens up a wide field for discussion, honorable senators are furnished with a good opportunity to specialize. This course might, with advantage, be adopted. For instance, my friend, **Senator Grant,** might very fittingly say a few words about land values taxation ; **Senator Thompson** might inform us upon business matters; **Senator Sir Thomas** Glasgow might speak about stock, and **Senator Hoare** contribute to the debate by speaking of the wrongs of the working classes, while the. Leader of the Opposition **(Senator Gardiner)** might seize the opportunity to speak, well - as he invariably does and sometimes wisely - upon every possible subject. For myself, honorable senators may have noticed a tendency on my part - for the present, at all events, though it may be only a passing phase - to dilate upon the duty of the Government, as I see it, to encourage production and scientific research, and more particularly to establish a Commonwealth forestry policy. My first essay on this subject was so well received by senators on both sides of this Chamber that I am emboldened to make another. {: .speaker-KOZ} ##### Senator Hoare: -- We should go in for a thorough system of reafforestation. {: .speaker-KPQ} ##### Senator KINGSMILL: -- I am very glad to hear the honorable senator say that. Whenever he is ready to move in the matter, he may count on my assistance. I was surprised, upon looking through the Budget, which has a very carefully-prepared index, to find not. a word with regard to forestry. And when I applied to the Library for what is absolutely the best and most complete authoritative work that has been published on Australian forestry, I was amazed to find that it was not on the shelves. However, I managed to get, from the State .Forestry Department, a copy of the work in question, which is a discussion on Australian forestry by *J).* E. Hutchins, who has had practically world-wide experience, and who is looked upon, throughout the Empire at all events, as a leading authority. Before he died he had the honour of knighthood conferred upon him for his services in connexion with Imperial forestry. I commend his work to all honorable senators who may be interested in the subject, and I can promise them, as a member of the Library Committee, that it will be available to them in the course of a week or two. This book shows what Australia has lost in the past, owing to its neglect of afforestation as a definite Government activity; but it also indicates that the future is not without hope if we deal with this subject in a thoroughly conscientious manner. With the vast Territories under its control, it is time the Commonwealth started to do something, in its own interests, and as an example to the rest of the world. We have absolute and exclusive control over Papua, the Northern Territory, the Mandated Territories, and Canberra. There is a magnificent field for forestry, and yet practically nothing has been done. T find, on page 208 of the Budgetpapers, that, under the Department of Trade and Customs last year, there was a vote of £1,007 for the establishment and equipment of a forestry school, and in the succeeding column I notice that no portion of the money was spent. I find also that the item has disappeared altogether from the Estimates for the current financial year. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Pearce: -- That is not so. I think the honorable senator will find an amount under the Department of Home and Territories. The Commonwealth is quite prepared to do its share, but we have not been able to get the States into line. {: .speaker-KPQ} ##### Senator KINGSMILL: -- Am I to understand that this depends on contributions* from the States? {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Pearce: -- Yes. It is a joint affair. {: .speaker-KPQ} ##### Senator KINGSMILL: -- I should think that, in a case like this, the duty of the Commonwealth is obvious. If the States do not care to come in, why not draw upon the overflowing Treasury of the Commonwealth and go ahead with this important work? {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Pearce: -- The trouble is that the States will not definitely say that they do or do not intend to join in the Coin mon wealth scheme. Some of them are evading the question. {: .speaker-KPQ} ##### Senator KINGSMILL: -- In that event the duty of the Commonwealth is still obvious. The Government should be prepared to go lon, irrespective of the views of the States. If the Commonwealth Parliament aspires to be the leader of public thought, as it should be, it should take the matter in its own hands and go ahead with the establishment of a School of Forestry .which, in my opinion, is very badly needed. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator Foll: -- Why not assist the States? {: .speaker-KPQ} ##### Senator KINGSMILL: -- I think that, in the realm of scientific research, the Commonwealth should proceed on its own initiative, and not share control .with the States. This is a big admission for me to make, because I abhor any interference by the Commonwealth with what I regard as State rights or the functionsof the State Governments. But I think that, in this matter, it is obviously the duty of the Federal Government to carry on scientific research work. On a former occasion I made some reference to the importance of forestry as a branch of governmental activity. If honorable senators will bear with me, I shall again refer to that phase of the subject and quote examples of what forestry nas done for other countries. In my own State, the Government dealt with a Forestry Bill in 1913. It may be of interest to note that we were somewhat behind the times, because ten years ago we were doing only what France had done in 1669, and what Germany did about two centuries ago. It is obvious, I think, that as a Commonwealth we are lagging very much behind the times. I want that lost ground if possible to be made up. D. E. Hutchins, in his valuable 2452 Budget, [SENATE.] 1923-24. Work, estimates that the losses which Australia will incur - he argues the matter on absolutely logicaland reasonable grounds-- by neglecting forestry during the next thirty years will be no less a sum than £588,500,000. These losses, he estimates, willbe represented by the cost of imported timber, the loss on our export trade, and the shrinkage of production from Australian forests during the period mentioned if things go on as they were when his book was written. I regret to say that we have not made much progress since then. Some of the States are undoubtedly getting into line with modern thought on this subject. They have started Forestry Departments of their own, and they are giving more attention to the growing of suitable timbers; but it remains for the Commonwealth in 'the Territories under its control togive the States, and, indeed, the world at large, a notable example ofwhat may be done. We have alarge areaof country which, I believe, contains valuable forests, some of which have not yet been explored. Possibly, on the point of departure from Australia is the best officer that ever crossed the equator. I refer to **Mr. Lane** Poole, who has been reporting on the forests of New 'Guinea for the Federal Government. Having the territory, having the man, having the money, I think it is obvious that we should proceed at once to initiate a scheme of Commonwealth forestry within the Commonwealth Territories. {: .speaker-K8P} ##### Senator Thompson: -- Has not Sweden the best system of forestry? {: .speaker-KPQ} ##### Senator KINGSMILL: -- In regard to soft woods, perhaps so. The systems of all countries are good. I am not recommending to this Chamber a wild-cat scheme. In everycountry in which afforestation hasbeen effectively carried out it has returned immense sums of money to the Governments which have practised it. It may be news to honorable senators tolearn that for fifty years before the war the net revenue each year from the German forests, which employed directly and indirectly 5,000,000 of the German population, was *£16,000,000.* In France,the suburban forests at places like Compiegne and Fontainebleau, while Kiting as pleasure parks and 'recreation grounds forthe people as well as forests, returned a net revenue of something in the vicinity of £1 per acre per annum. Can these examples be disregarded ? I should like to know how long Australia, with all its resources, will look upon itself as being rich enough to disregard this, which should be one of its best sources of revenue. I hope that the Commonwealth will come into line with other countries and see that in these days, when affluence is not as pronounced as it has been in the past, no avenue of production or employment is disregarded, and that it will not embark too late on this, which must be a profitable, undertaking. Every Forestry Department, within a few years of its inception, not only pays its way, but adds materially to the general revenue of thecountry. SenatorOgden. - The timberindustry is not very prosperous justnow. {: .speaker-KPQ} ##### Senator KINGSMILL: -- This is the only way to make it profitable. A very pessimistic tone is adopted in regard to the timber industry. I can assure honorable senators - and I have had a good deal of personal experience in this matter - that while the timber industry is not as prosperous as itmight be, it is a very long way from being as bad as it could be. {: .speaker-KBJ} ##### Senator Wilson: -- The slump is only a momentaryone. {: .speaker-KPQ} ##### Senator KINGSMILL: -- That asso. The position is really not as bad 'as it 'is made out to be. {: .speaker-KBJ} ##### Senator Wilson: -- Other States are crying out for timber and cannot 'get it. {: .speaker-KPQ} ##### Senator KINGSMILL: -- That is so. The difficulty in connexion with the timber industry is in regard to the shipping between the various States of Australia andbetween the outside world. {: .speaker-KBJ} ##### Senator Wilson: -- Itcosts more to bring timber from Cairsns to Melbourne than from America to Melbourne. {: .speaker-KPQ} ##### Senator KINGSMILL: -- That is because the Government has notadopted the system which I wish it to adopt - the system of subsidizing freights in some cases. In competingwith America we undoubtedly have to combat subsidized freights from thatcountry. We cannot do that unless we subsidizeour ownfreights. Ido not desire to see the admirable conditions which exist on out 'Commonwealth and other liners trading round the coast of Australia in any way altered or deteriorated; hut Australia has to pay for the excellence of those conditions, and the best way to do so is to subsidize freights where necessary. I hope that my appeal will not fall upon deaf ears. This question has been of great interest and importance to me for many years. I have given the subject a great deal of thought, and I have been engaged - always in an honorary capacity - in most of the movements that have been made in this direction in Western Australia. If the Government agrees to make a start I shall spare no effort to help it, inside and outside this chamber. {: .speaker-JZR} ##### Senator Ogden: -- It is more the function of the States. {: .speaker-KPQ} ##### Senator KINGSMILL: -- I am alluding to forestry in the Commonwealth terri- tories. That offers what is, to a forester, a most valuable thing, namely, a virgin field for his efforts. In nearly all of the States, but more particularly in Western Australia, when a system of forestry was established it had to be built on a foundation which was already undermined, the forests having already been practically cut out. In South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales the same condition applies. In Queensland it does not apply to such a great extent. In every case, however, the man who undertook the job was handicapped because he was up against depleted forests and strong vested interests, a combination which is sufficient to break the heart of any forester. I hope that the Minister, in his reply, will let us have the views and the ideas of the Government; and, if I may be allowed to hope further, that those views and ideas will include a determination to .make a definite start' on this very important subject of Commonwealth forestry. I have sometimes heard expressions of approval regarding things which I have said. They have gone no further than mere expressions of approval. I should like now to see something done. Everybody will sympathize with one when one speaks about forestry. They say, " Yes, you are quite right ; your arguments are incontrovertible ; it is a most important matter " ; yet they go away and do nothing. {: .speaker-KBJ} ##### Senator Wilson: -- That is particularly the vase at election time. {: .speaker-KPQ} ##### Senator KINGSMILL: -- My honorable friend has introduced, perhaps, the key to the whole situation. This subject does not affect an election, because there are no votes connected with it. From my vast experience of Governments of all shades of political opinions in Australia, I recognise that action usually is taken with at least one eye on the ballot-box. I hope that, if the estimates can be supplemented, they will be supplemented; or, if there is any item which is not particularly ear-marked and branded - a sort of " clean skin " - I hope that the Government will take something from it in order to make a start with what, to me, is a most laudable project. I commend it to the attention of the Government. {: #subdebate-6-0-s4 .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL:
Queensland .- A discussion such as that to which we have listened for the last few days is always interesting, inasmuch as honorable senators are gathered from all parts of Australia and represent States that have different outlooks. Every honorable senator, I believe, is desirous of doing something to further the interests of his State. Before dealing with a few matters that are of vital interest to Queensland - which is the brightest jewel in the Empire's crown, and, judging by the quality of the representatives it sends to the Senate, the most sensible of all the States - I desire to protest against- the action taken by the Prime Minister **(Mr. Bruce)** recently in calling together a Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers. Honorable senators who dealt with this matter earlier, protested against the continual calling together of Premiers of the various States to discuss matters that should be discussed by honorable senators in the first place, and said that that practice supplied a great deal of ammunition to honorable senators opposite, who say that their platform provides for the abolition of the Senate. If any Government continues to ignore the rights of honorable senators, who are the representatives of the States in the Commonwealth Parliament, it will supply an unlimited quantity of ammunition to, and will encourage the popularity of the cry which is being raised by **Senator Gardiner** and those who support him, in favour of the abolition of the Senate. I draw honorable senators' attention to 2454 *Budget,* [SENATE.] 1923-24. the fact that, towards the end of last session, a very considerable sum of money was voted in respect of the Empire Exhibition that is to be held in Great Britain next year. An Empire Exhibition Council has been formed, with **Senator Wilson** as its chairman, representing the various States. Although the Commonwealth Parliament was responsible for voting a large sum of money towards the expenses of that exhibition, not one honorable senator has been asked to act in any capacity on the Empire Exhibition Council. The State Governments, who are equally interested, have sent their representatives at the request of the Prime Minister; but I contend that, as the Senate represents the interests of the States, an honorable senator from each State should be appointed to the Council in order to put forward the points of view of the States. This is another example of the way in which the rights and privileges of the Senate are being overlooked by Government after Government. It is my intention on this, and on any future occasion when I have the opportunity, to raise my voice in protest against the manner in which honorable senators are being ignored by the Government. {: .speaker-JYX} ##### Senator Findley: -- Previous Governments were different. {: .speaker-KBJ} ##### Senator Wilson: -- This matter was fixed up long before the present Government came into existence. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- If **Senator Findley** will carry his memory back to the time when a Labour Government, of which he was a supporter, was in power, he will admit that his Leader held periodical conferences with the State Premiers. This practice has been going on for a very considerable time. Labour Governments have ignored the rights and privileges of this Chamber to as great an extent as have other Governments. Matters that should be discussed by honorable senators have been left entirely to the State Governments to discuss. The fact that this has been going on for a long time, is not a reason for its continuance. I hope that this Government and its successors will take notice of the protests that have been made by several honorable senators during this debate, and that these conferences will be dispensed with. *Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.* {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- I am not pleased with the arrangements made by the Government for collecting taxation. The only part of the Government's proposal for the amalgamation of the Commonwealth and State Taxation Departments that commends itself to me, is the claim that it will lighten the burden carried by the taxpayers. If that claim is realized, it will remove some of the ground for criticism. "Until we actually see what the effect of the proposal will be, and to what extent the taxpayers will benefit, it is difficult to ventture any criticism. I have always desired an amalgamation of State and Federal Taxation Departments, but I always hoped that the Commonwealth would be the collecting authority for both itself and the States. I never anticipated that we would take the retrograde step of handing to the States duties which really belong to us. I know that it will be argued that, prior to the war, the Commonwealth did not have an Income Tax Department, but the necessity for raising money to carry on the war brought the Federal Income Tax Department into existence. The cost of that Department has been very great. The various Commonwealth and State Departments were combed to secure the services of the best men available, and there is no doubt that the Commonwealth Taxation Department is an efficient organization. I think I am quite safe in saying that in the State of Queensland the Commonwealth Department is more efficient than is the State Department. {: .speaker-K8P} ##### Senator Thompson: -- I do not agree with that statement. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- I am speaking from my own experience. Such trouble as has occurred has not been in connexion with the collection of income tax, but has been due to the war-time profits tax, an iniquitous Act of the previous Government. I opposed the measure when it was introduced, and I still regard it as one of the most iniquitous Acts on our statute-book. Moreover, it did not achieve its object; it did not levy taxation from those who were profiteering, but it hit harshly men who were launching out in new businesses. It is that Act which has caused criticism to be levelled against the Federal Taxation Department. The honorable member for Lilley **(Mr. Mackay)** in another place *Budget,* [10 August, 1923.] 1923-24. 2455 brought forward a motion for introducing an averaging system. The complaint wasmade at that time that there was overlapping in ' the Taxation Departments, and that the overhead expense of collection was unnecessarily heavy. The previous Government created what has proved to be probably the most expensive Royal Commission that has ever sat in this country. It appointed a Royal Commission consisting of a number of individuals who claimed to be experts in practically every branch of taxation, and they travelled extensively throughout Australia. They sought evidence from every class of taxpayer, and from any one who claimed to have any knowledge whatever of the subject of taxation. The total cost of that Commission was over £35,000, and after thoroughly investigating the question of the duplication of Taxation Departments, it made the following recommendations, which may be found in paragraph 249, page 29, of their second report, which was presented to Parliament and ordered to be printed on 29th June, 1922- >For the sake of clearness, we repeat that, as the ultimate and permanent solution of the problem, in our opinion - > > *An* allocation of subjects of direct taxation between the Commonwealth and the States should be made. > >The power to impose Income Tax should be exclusively vested in the Commonwealth. > >The power to impose other existing forms of direct taxation - Land, Probate or Succession, Entertainments - should be exclusively vested in the States, subject only to the overriding powers of the Commonwealth in the case of war. {: .speaker-KOJ} ##### Senator Hays: -- That report has not been adopted. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- This Parliament appoints expensive Commissions, and the Government, when it receives their reports, says they are no good. Does **Senator Hays** indorse the view that the Taxation Commission's report is no good ? {: .speaker-KOF} ##### Senator Hayes: -- I do, in that particular. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- Does the honorable senator agree that expensive Royal Commissions should be appointed, and their reports thrown into the waste-paper basket? I can cite other instances in which the recommendations of Committees and Commissions have been rejected. {: .speaker-KOJ} ##### Senator Hays: -- After all, it was only an inquiry. Parliament must be the judge. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- The Commission obtained information from sources not open to individual members of Parliament. If we believe its members were capable men, we must give some weight to their report. If times were normal, I should be one of the first to say that the Commonwealth Government should evacuate the field of direct taxation, if it could afford to do so ; but we know that at the present time conditions are not normal. By scrapping the Commonwealth Taxation Department we shall place ourselves in an awkward position if, in the future, we are brought face to face with another war, which, please God, we may not be. We should then have to go cap in hand to every State Government and ask it to raise money to finance the war. The alternative would be to re-create the Department which we now propose to scrap. If an unsympathetic Government were in power in any State, it could place serious obstacles in the way of our raising money. {: .speaker-KOJ} ##### Senator Hays: -- Where Commonwealth and State laws conflict, the Commonwealth law prevails. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- That is so, but the Taxation Departments would be under the control of State Ministers, who could administer them effectively or otherwise.I regret that the Commonwealth has handed over to the States powers which it should have retained. I forsee that the proposed arrangement will benefit the large taxpayer more than the small or middleclass taxpayer. Great benefit will be reaped by those large business firms which have separate offices in each State. By paying their income tax on incomes earned in each State, they will obtain the benefit of the exemptions and deductions in every State. {: .speaker-JRW} ##### Senator Crawford: -- They will have to make their return to the Central Office, as they do now. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- That would be so only under the arrangement by which the States collect for the Commonwealth.I am speaking of the proposal to surrender direct taxation to the States in return for their relinquishment of theper *capita* payments. The present arrangement is merely a makeshift. We are making a mistake when we throw upon the Customs Department the sole burden of raising the revenue of the Commonwealth. In normal times a tremendous sum is obtained from Customs duties. Many items upon which import duties are paid cannot be made in Australia,, and the duty is levied for revenue purposesonly. Although the Government may now be able to- raise £32,000,000 or £33,000.000 a year through the Customs and Excise Department, what will be the position when normal conditions are restored?- We are largely depending upon the revenue received in the- form of Customs duties, but in the event nf another great international conflict trade would be disturbed, and the Customs revenue would fall off considerably. In such circumstances, we would be deprived of the means, of imposing direct taxation^ and should have to incur the expense and inconvenience of establishing a. Federal Taxation Department in order to obtain the revenue necessary to carry on the government of the country/. The Royal Commission" on Taxation, which comprised capable men who understood their business, recommended a policy totally different from that suggested by the Government, and before any 'action is taken to* adopt the recommendations- submitted by the Prime Minister **(Mr. Bruce)** and the Treasurer **(Dr. Earle- Page),** a Royal Commission, consisting of members, of Parliament, should be appointed,, or some other method adopted' to obtain further information *on* the question nf taxation.. {: .speaker-JXV} ##### Senator NEWLANDS:
SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP; NAT from 1917 -- Those proposals, will be submitted to Parliament for approval. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- Yes, but we have been informed through the press that the agreements entered into between the Commonwealth and the State Governments have already been signed. {: .speaker-JXV} ##### Senator NEWLANDS:
SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP; NAT from 1917 -- Subject, of course, to the approval of Parliament. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- The recommendations of the Government will have to be submitted to Parliament, for approval ; but the Government appear to be taking it for granted that they will be- acceptable to the representatives; of the people. Perhaps it would not be out of place at this juncture to remind honorable senators of what is actually being done, so that later they will be able to fully debate the question when the proposals' are submitted to Parliament. {: .speaker-KTH} ##### Senator McHugh: -- Honorable senators on this side have given sound advice,, but little notice is taken of it. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- I must confess that I have heard more sound than, advice from the other side.. I have listened .very carefully to the speeches of honorable senators opposite, and in connexion with the debate on the Imperial and Economic Conferences a good deal of advice tendered was anything but sound. In fact, some of it was of a most startling character. For instance, we were informed, yesterday, by honorable senators opposite that if Great Britain were again involved in war,. Australia should not be ire any way brought into it. It occurred to> me at the time that if we were not to be called upon *'o* assist the Empire in her need, it would be useless to expect the British naval or military forces to come to our assistance if Australia were invaded. The suggestion of honorable senators opposite was that as the United States of America had a powerful' navy it could assist in protecting us. The **PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon.** {: type="A" start="T"} 0. Givens). - The honorable senator is reviving a debate on an entirely different motion from that now before the Chamber, and one which has already been dealt with by the Senate. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- I regret, **Mr. President,** that I should have been in any way responsible for raising the matter at this juncture. The question of immigration has been very fully discussed in all its aspects by honorable senators on> both sides of the Chamber. I am- willing to give honorable senators opposite credit for conscientiously believing in the opinions they have expressed. **Senator Gardiner** dealt somewhat at length with the question of immigration in relation to unemployment, and said it was little satisfaction to a man walking the streets seeking fo hire his labour to find, according to official statistics, that unemployment was not more prevalent to-day than it was twenty-five years ago. Nothing could be more disastrous to any man in Full possession of his mental and physical powers than to walk the streets in a vain endeavour to secure the means to maintain his wife and the little ones dependent upon him. The question of immigration must be studied in. all its aspects, and when that is done it must be admitted that a sound policy of immigra-tion will be the means of providing em- *Budget,* [10 August, 1923.] 1923-24. 2457 ployment rather than creating unemployment. {: .speaker-KOZ} ##### Senator Hoare: -- What does the honorable senator consider a sound policy of immigration ? {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- I am not in favour of swamping our cities with hundreds of unskilled men to add to the large number already in our midst. A bigger population would provide more employment for those already engaged in our primary and secondary industries. At present there is a tremendous shortage of bricklayers in Sydney. I do not know what the position is in the other States. The members of the Public Works Committee, in investigating the construction of certain works at Canberra, were informed by the representative of the Employers' Associations and also of the Bricklayers' Union, that sufficient skilled artisans were not available. Building construction is booming in Sydney. {: .speaker-KOZ} ##### Senator Hoare: -- It is all over Australia. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- Yes, and a tremendous quantity of work is being held up because it is practically impossible to secure bricklayers. If bricklaying cannot be proceeded with, carpenters, labourers, and plumbers are also prevented from securing employment. {: .speaker-JXV} ##### Senator NEWLANDS:
SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP; NAT from 1917 -- Only in this morning's paper, General **Sir John** Monash is reported to have said that he cannot obtain sufficient electrical wiremen to carry on work to be done by the Electricity Commission. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- I have not read the statement, but I quite believe that such is the case. It is the unskilled man who is unable to obtain work. {: .speaker-KRZ} ##### Senator Lynch: -- He will not leave the city. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- In many instances those who are unwilling to leave the city have established homes in the suburbs, which they are endeavouring to purchase. {: .speaker-KTH} ##### Senator McHugh: -- A man cannot be expected to maintain two homes. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- No. The Public Works Committee found that many men were not anxious to leave the city in consequence of family ties and their inability to satisfactorily carry on when compelled to maintain themselves in the country and also a home in the city.. {: .speaker-KRZ} ##### Senator Lynch: -- A single man. has no. excuse- {: #subdebate-6-0-s5 .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL:
QUEENSLAND · NAT; UAP from 1931 -- No; Senators Payne and Ogden have already directed attention to the undue restriction placed upon apprentices. The Queensland Labour Government - I give them credit for what they have done - and members of the party to which I belong are fully alive to the situation, and realize that apprenticeship cannot be restricted as at present. The Queensland Government, in connexion with its Public Works Department, is adopting a policy which we hope will be supported by Labour organizations throughout the Commonwealth since it will increase the number of apprentices in the various trades. The members of the Labour party have been a long time in heeding the warning given them some time ago, thatto restrict the number of apprentices would eventually lead to a scarcity of skilled tradesmen, and result in alarge number of unskilled workers being unable to find employment. That is the position which is confronting us to-day. Many actions of the Queensland Government do not meet with my approval, but I hope their policy in connexion with the apprenticeship question will be supported by Labour organizations throughout the Commonwealth. Many of our manufacturing industries are not progressing as they should owing to the restricted demand, but if our population were increased the demand for boots and clothing and also for foodstuffs would enormously increase. From about 1906 to just before the war there was probably a greater influx of immigrants into Australia than at any other time, except during the early gold rushes. Practically every State had an immigration scheme, and during that period there was verylittle variation in the amount of unemployment. The percentage of unemployment, according to figures supplied by the labour unions throughout Australia, was as follows: - In 1914 the percentage rose considerably , but the figures showed very little change between 1915 and 1920. In 1921 the percentages for the several quarters were. 11.4, 12.5, 11.4, and 9.5. As population has increased, both by natural means and immigration, the amount of unemploy-ment has varied only to a slight extent. There is room for ten or twelve times the population Australia possesses. In the United States of America the population has grown to the extent of millions a year, but it cannot be said that unemployment there has increased. I have no doubt that unemployment in that country has decreased with its increasing population. Australia certainly needs immigration of the right kind, and I fail to see how any party in Australia can object to it. There may be a few undesirable people among the immigrants who have so far reached these shores, but if so it is due entirely to the lack of supervision in Great Britain. The "reason why hundreds of families are giving up their homes and taking to flat life is that it is impossible to obtain suitable domestic assistance. The Government should have a staff of women in Great Britain for the selection of immigrants suitable for domestic service. 1 cannot understand the hostility of the representatives of the Labour party in this Chamber to the immigration proposals of the Government. I believe that much was done by the Fisher Labour Administration to encourage immigration. The members of the Queensland Government, who have the same ideals as honorable senators opposite, have an immigration policy. This is not a party question, and '.E our immigration administration is faulty I shall welcome any criticism of it, no matter from which side of the Chamber it may come. It would be a national calamity, and it would be anti-Australian, to oppose immigration altogether. We should proceed on sound lines, and extend the hand of fellowship to the people of our own blood across the seas, letting them know that we shall be glad to welcome them, and help to make them good citizens of Australia. A Bill has been agreed to recommending the construction of a certain section of railway in the Northern Territory. I trust that the Government regard this as a link in the North-South railway, which should be taken through Western Queensland. A couple of years ago I spent four or five months in the Territory , and looking at the matter from an unbiased Australian point of view, one cannot escape the conclusion that the line should follow the route I have' indicated. {: .speaker-K8P} ##### Senator Thompson: -- The honorable senator no doubt would recommend going as far south as Newcastle Waters? {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- Yes, and then across the Barkly Tablelands through Western Queensland in the neighbourhood of Camooweal, and into New South Wales, with a connexion at Bourke. This would give a through line from Sydney to Port Darwin. It would be of undoubted benefit in war time, and no line would be more useful in the event of drought. No part of Australia is more subject to drought conditions than the Darling district in New South Wales. The line would then pass through splendid sheep country, and it is well known that sheep are a better paying proposition from a railway point of view than cattle. This would be a national scheme, and would be of benefit to Australia generally. The construction of the line by the direct north-south route, however, would be disastrous. {: .speaker-JZC} ##### Senator O'loghlin: -- What about the contract with South Australia? Is that a " scrap of paper "? {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- I do not admit that there was such a contract at all. Honorable senators from South Australia are very fond, of quoting legal opinions by lawyers in that State. Other legal opinions, equally reliable, state definitely that the Commonwealth Government are not bound to build the North-South railway line entirely within the Northern Territory {: .speaker-JZC} ##### Senator O'Loghlin: -- Has the honorable senator read those legal opinions? {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- I have. **Senator O'Loghlin,** who- was once a member of the South Australian Parliament, knows ve,rv well that the first negotiations for the transfer of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth broke down because the South Australian representatives at the Conference endeavoured to bind the Commonwealth down to a hard and fast bargain that the proposed line should go due north and south. The late **Mr. Deakin,** then. Prime Minister, refused to take the Territory over under those conditions. {: .speaker-JZC} ##### Senator O'Loghlin: -- Then the inference is that we would not allow the Commonwealth to have the Territory, except upon our terms? {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- As the honorable senator knows, the South Australian delegates submitted alternative proposals, in which they modified their views very substantially. As a result the Commonwealth Government agreed "to take over the Northern Territory, and to become responsible for the building of the line along what route they pleased, so long as it crossed the northern boundary of South Australia proper. Under that agreement the line may wander pretty well all over Australia, so long as it enters the northern boundary of South Australia. {: .speaker-K8P} ##### Senator Thompson: -- Does the honorable senator suggest that the line should come out at Birdsville? {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- If it is essential that the line should cross the northern boundary of South Australia, it should go through Birdsville. {: .speaker-JXV} ##### Senator NEWLANDS:
SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP; NAT from 1917 -- Would the honorable senator vote for a line from Birdsville to Marree? {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- Only if it were part and parcel of a main line. I would not favour that proposal standing by itself. I also remind tho honorable senator that if the future extension of the line follows the route I suggest, namely, on to Camooweal and down through western Queensland, the stretch of country below Birdsville and Marree, in South Australia, would represent only a small proportion of the total length of line; in Australia nearly all railway lines of any length pass through, certain portions of poor country. {: .speaker-JZC} ##### Senator O'loghlin: -- But we are concerned with the development of the Northern Territory, not of Queensland. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- I know that, generally speaking, the South Australian representatives in this Chamber are always anxious *to* do everything they possibly can for every other part of Australia except their own State. As a matter of fact, no State in the Commonwealth has been more spoon-fed than South Australia. The honorable senators representing that State have raised this question as to the route of the line. Look what South Australia has already received from the Commonwealth. Consider the millions of pounds that have been spent on the Murray Waters Scheme. Even, at the present time, the Commonwealth owns in that State over 400 miles of railway which is being run at a dead loss to the Australian taxpayer when, as a matter of justice, the burden should be on the shoulders of the South Australian people. South Australia pays only about 4 per cent, or 5 per cent, of the tocal taxation of the Commonwealth, and is content to allow such States as Queensland and New South Wales and Victoria to contribute to the loss involved in the working of the line to Oodnadatta. The representatives of that State in this Chamber even have the audacity to stand up and ask that more millions shall be poured out of the public Treasury, towards which they contribute practically nothing, in order that their State may be spoon-fed for many years to come, by the construction of this line due north and south. It is time we, the representatives of the other States, cried a halt, and saw that we got something for our own States. {: .speaker-JXV} ##### Senator NEWLANDS:
SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP; NAT from 1917 -- It is time we cried a halt in regard to assisting Queensland industries. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- Queensland has always been a long-suffering State. It has always been ready to make sacrifices for the benefit of the southern States. I trust we shall hear no more of this infamous request from. South Australia for more money from the Federal Treasury. South Australia should run its own railway through that sandy country, along the route which ' **Senator Newland** favours. {: .speaker-JXV} ##### Senator NEWLANDS:
SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP; NAT from 1917 -- The country there is not half so bad as that between Marree and Birdsville, which tho honorable senator favours. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- But the whole of the country between Marree and Birdsville is in South Australian territory. {: .speaker-JXV} ##### Senator NEWLANDS:
SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP; NAT from 1917 -- It was the worst country which the honorable senator saw on the trip under taken by the Sectional Committee of the Public Works Committee, anyhow. He said so at the time. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- And **Senator Newland** knows that the best country which we saw on the trip was in the Barkly Tablelands. It converges on equally good Queensland pastoral country, and extends right across to Wave Hill, Victoria Downs, and into the wonderful Kimberley Ranges of Western Australia. I suggest that my honorable friends from Western Australia should bestir themselves, and take an intelligent interest in this Commonwealth railway scheme for the development of the Northern Territory, because, in my opinion, no part of Australia has a brighter future than that included in the magnificent Kimberley Ranges in the northern part of Western Australia. *[Extension of* *time granted.]* Nothing would contribute to the development of that great stretch of magnificent country so much as would a direct railway, not due north and south, but across from a terminus of the Queensland western railway system, through the Barkly Tablelands, thence on to Wave Hill and Victoria Downs, thence on to Kimberley Ranges, and linking up with the important port of Derby or some other Western Australian port. We should remember also that from a defence point of view that portion of Australia, being practically unpeopled at present, constitutes a menace, lt is encouraging to know, however, that **Mr. Miles,** an enthusiastic member of the Western Australian Parliament, has been agitating, in season and out of season, for the construction of railways to open up those isolated portions of his State. When we were in Perth some time ago he gave us a considerable amount of valuable information bearing upon the proposed NorthSouth line. He has a personal knowledge of that country, and knows what are its possibilities. Of my own knowledge I can say, without hesitation, that, as a result of a well-thought-out railway development scheme, it should become one of our most valuable assets, because, unlike other pastoral areas in the Commonwealth, it is not subject to drought. In the Barkly Tablelands, and right across through Wave Hill and Victoria Downs, one can definitely fix the time when the monsoonal rains will start, and when they will end. Droughts are practically unknown. It is one of the best stretches of grazing conntry in the Commonwealth, and if linked up with the Queensland and New South Wales railway systems, could be utilized for the relief of starving stock in seasons when other pastoral areas were suffering from drought conditions. The Government will have to face this question of building railways in northern Australia. I believe that the people of Western Australia - I hope honorable senators from that State will pardon me from poaching on their preserves - have more territory than they can handle, and that, therefore, the development of the entire northern portion of Australia should be a matter for the Commonwealth. Looking at the proposal from the Federal point of view, I care not whether these lines are built in Western Australian or South Australian territory. My only concern is that they shall be so designed as to serve the best interests of the Commonwealth. But having seen much of this country myself, and having obtained the views of people long resident in the centre of Australia, I am confident that it would be a calamity to build the Northern Territory line due north and south. A railway east and west across northern Australia, and connecting up with ports in Queensland and Western Australia, would, on the other hand, insure satisfactory development. There are many excellent ports on the northern Queensland coast, and several equally useful ports on the northern coast of Western Australia, while Darwin will one day be the front door to Australia. I urge the Federal Government to face their responsibilities in regard to the NorthSouth line proposal. Despite statements to the contrary, the climate of the Northern Territory is, on the whole, suitable for white people. Even if it were not, I should sooner see the Northern Territory remain empty than be filled with coloured people. I believe that there is a great future for Northern Australia. I hope that the Prime Minister, when in England, will bring prominently before those who are able to help us financially, and in other directions, the great benefits that will accrue if we can obtain the loan moneys that will make possible the inauguration of a general railway building scheme, with a view to opening up the great pastoral and mining lands in Northern Australia, which at present are practically lying idle. In my opening remarks I referred to the fact that the finding of the Taxation Commission had been ignored by the Government. I conclude with the complaint that another finding has been ignored by the Government. Until recently, with Senators Newland and Plain, I was a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. That Committee investigated, from every aspect, the proposal to erect a Parliament House at Canberra. It obtained all the evidence that was available. It sought the advice of not only the departmental officers, but also the president of the New South Wales Architects Association, the Federal president of the Australian Architects As- *Budget,* [10 August, 1923.] 1923-24. 2461 sociation, and **Mr. Griffin,** who is admitted to he a capable architect. After thoroughly scrutinizing all the evidence the Committee, by five votes to two, decided that it would be most economical and satisfactory to spend the money that had been made available, not on a provisional ' or temporary House of Parliament, but on the nucleus of a permanent Parliament House. A distinct promise was made by the Australian Government some years ago to hold a competition among the architects of the world, and award a prize to the architect who submitted the best plan for the Parliament House at Canberra. That competition was held over on account of the war, and it has not since been gone on with. I contend that it should immediately be gone on with, and that the architects of the world should be given the opportunity of competing in order that the Federal Parliament House at Canberra, may be of the very best design and workmanship. The Government has not kept the promise which it made to the architects of the world. I understand that there is to be at Canberra within the next week or two, some ceremony in connexion with the turning of the first sod in the construction of this House of Parliament. If the Government does not value the opinions of the Public Works Committee, it should abolish it, but I am strongly opposed to its abolition. In spite of the fact that the Committee recommended that the best interests of Australia would be served by erecting the nucleus of a permanent building, it has been decided to proceed with the. erection of a provisional building, which in a few years will be useless. It is estimated that the difference in the time necessary to erect a provisional building and the nucleus of the permanent structure would be from twelve to eighteen months. What is that in the life of a nation ? If Australia is to be best served, and the Federal Capital is ultimately to achieve its object, the Canberra enthusiasts should place their country first and be prepared to wait the extra eighteen months. {: .speaker-JZR} ##### Senator Ogden: -- Or even eighteen years. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- I have always believed in Canberra, and have never been afraid to say so. It would be in the best interest of Australia to remove the Seat of Government from the influence of Melbourne to our own territory at Canberra. {: .speaker-KOZ} ##### Senator Hoare: -- What difference will it make ? {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- The honorable senator has not been in this Senate very long. When he has been here a little longer, be will be just as enthusiastic an advocate of Canberra as I am. {: .speaker-KOZ} ##### Senator Hoare: -- I do not think that I shall. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- When the honorable senator has been through western Queensland and the Northern Territory he will also be converted to the railway scheme I favour. Our ideas change as our experience grows. I hope that this composite Government will continue in office. If it ignores State boundaries and realizes that this continent is crying out for a broad and comprehensive policy of development, it will long control the destinies of Australia. It has had a lot of detail work to clear up. When that is completed, I trust that it will tackle some of the big problems which confront Australia. By doing so it will render a service to the Commonwealth. Debate (on motion by **Senator Findley)** adjourned. {: .page-start } page 2461 {:#debate-7} ### ADJOURNMENT Order op Business - Quality of Food and Conduct of Farm Boys on s.s. {:#subdebate-7-0} #### Benalla - Closing of Tasmanian Branch of War Service Homes Department {: #subdebate-7-0-s0 .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator PEARCE:
Western AustraliaMinister for Home and Territories · NAT -- In moving - >That the Senate do now adjourn, I desire to direct attention to the fact that the Senate will now be receiving Bills from another place, and it will be necessary next week to proceed forthwith with those measures. I understand that there are still some honorable senators who desire to speak to the motion " That the Estimates and Budget-papers be printed." A reasonable amount of time has been allowed for the discussion of that motion, and it must necessarily take second place to Bills in the coming week. If an opportunity presents itself to restore that motion to the first place on the business-paper, we shall do so ; but I give this intimation that Bills will take precedence during the remainder of the session. {: #subdebate-7-0-s1 .speaker-KBJ} ##### Senator WILSON:
South AustraliaHonorary Minister · NAT -- Replying today to a question asked by **Senator Eoi],** I promised to have a report furnished regarding complaints in the press as to the quality of the food supplied to immigrants on s.s. *Benalla.* The report is as follows : - >With reference to statements appearing in the press regarding the insufficient and badlycooked food alleged to have been served to passengers per tho s.s. *Benalla.* I desire to point out that apparently most of tho complaints emanated from persons coming to Australia outside the assisted passage scheme. An officer from this office boarded the vessel in the usual way and made inquiries as to whether the migrants were satisfactorily treated on the voyage to Australia. He heard some complaints of the nature referred to in the press reports; but, on the other hand, the welfare officer, **Mr. Sedgwick,** and other migrants stated that the food and attention throughout the voyage were all that could bc desired. **Mr. Sedgwick** stated that the boys travelling to South Australia and New South Wales .had gained, on the average, 4 lbs. in weight during the voyage. Our boarding officer had breakfast on board with the migrants, and was provided with the same fare; and he reports that the food was excellent. The meat was tender and well cooked, and the bread and butter were equal to anything he had ever tasted ashore. From inquiries mode, it appears that there was never, at any time, a shortage of food. Possibly, at times the food could have been a little better cooked, but it is impossible to have 100 per cent, perfection at all times. > >The captain was asked to reply to the complaints made, and he showed- our boarding officer reports from tho *Adelaide News* of the 6th August, and the *Adelaide Register* of the 8th August, indicating that a testimonial had been presented to the captain by all the South Australian boys, expressing thanks to the captain and officers of the ship for the splendid manner in which they had been treated and the excellent food which had been provided for them. On one occasion a deputation of two persons had waited on the captain and asked that pickles be provided with every meal when there was cold meat. The deputation also complained that on occasions the rolls were not hot. These complaints were at once rectified. I am of the opinion that the press reports have .greatly exaggerated the facts, and it is significant that when representatives of the morning press waited on the captain to hear his version of the matter they expressed the opinion that the complaints were unfounded. Our boarding officer waa present when this interview took place. > >Regarding tho conduct of tho farm1 boys, I desire to point out that the .boys are all young, and naturally full of life, and, being confined on a ship for several weeks, it is easily under stood that a certain amount of horseplay ami larking will take place. The ship's captain admitted these facts, but stated that lie fully eXPeCtS it on every voyage, and has no complaint to make. He expressed the opinion that the migrants on board were all of good typo, and ho has no complaint whatever to make regarding them. {: #subdebate-7-0-s2 .speaker-K09} ##### Senator PAYNE:
Tasmania .- 1 desire to take this opportunity of referring to the answer which was given to me yesterday by the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Railways, in reply to an inquiry relative to the closing down of the Tasmanian Branch of the War Service Homes Department. The questions 1 asked were - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Is it the intention of the Department to practically close the" Tasmanian branch of the War Service Homes Commission, and control the operations in Tasmania, in future from th«* Melbourne office? 1. Tf so, will the Minister for Works and Railways delay any definite action in this regard until an opportunity is given for representations being made to him in opposition to the, alteration as suggested? The Minister's reply was - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Yes. Applicants for War Service Homes will not be prejudiced in any way, and the activities of the Commission in building and acquiring .homes in Tasmania will be carried on in accordance with the approved programme. Tho result of the proposal will be to supply War Service Homes at considerably less cost to the Commonwealth. 1. Such request cannot be acceded to, in view of tho early expiration of the lease of premises occupied by the Commission in Hobart, but any representations made will bo fully considered. I ask the Minister to reconsider this decision. Representations in opposition to it have been made to me from Hobart, by a gentleman in whom I have the greatest confidence and who, I am sure, would not overstate the case, and they have been confirmed by a telegram which I have received during the last half-hour, in which a vigorous protest is made against the decision. It is pointed out that if effect is given to the decision it will cause a great deal of hardship and injustice to returned soldier applicants for War Service Homes. If everything has to be submitted to the central authority in Melbourne, serious delays will inevitably occur. There are many cases which must be dealt with by the Commission, or the Commission's representative, on the spot. There are, .for instance, cases of arrears of payments, and compulsory evictions, which cannot be dealt *Adjournment.* [10 August, 1923.] *Freight on Fruit.* 2463 with as intelligently by a centralized body as by one operating on the spot.In the interests of the Department, the Ministry would be well advised to reconsider the whole matter. At the present moment there are 1 50 live applications for homes in the hands of the Department in Tasmania, and further applications at the rate of about twenty per month are being received. The rate at which applications are now being received can be expected to continue for some. time. Under the present programme it will take from eighteen months to two years to deal with the live applications, but it is proposed to remove the staff from Hobart, leaving only an inspector and a clerk or two, who will have no administrative authority. The decision is soserious to Tasmania that it is reasonable to request the Minister to defer giving effect to it until those actively concerned have had an opportunity to state their case. One of the reasons given for making the change is that the lease of the present premises occupied by the Commission in Hobart will shortly expire. That argument seems to have no bearing on the matter. Even if the rooms at present occupied will not be available after the end of this or next month, surely there are other suitable premises in the city of Hobart where the Department could be accommodated. Centralization in work of this character will not only be prejudicial to the interests of the applicants for homes, but will also considerablyincrease administrative costs. For these reasons, 1 urge the Minister to bring under the notice of the Minister for Works and Railways **(Mr. Stewart)** the representations I have made. {: #subdebate-7-0-s3 .speaker-JZR} ##### Senator OGDEN:
Tasmania .- I indorse the statements made by **Senator Payne.** It came as a shock to me and others that it was intended to abolish the War Service Homes Department in Hobart, and to leave only an inspector and a clerk to look after an expenditure of £250,000 in the present year. The decision is ridiculous, and the only object of it appears to be to save asum of about £1,200. As a matter of fact, so far from saving that amount of money, it will involve the Government in considerably increased expenditure. There have been enough scandals already in connexion with the construction of War Service Homes. If I had the time I could point out mistakes that are being made in Hobart to-day. Although the Minister has approved of the change, I hope he will reconsider his decision. I suggest that the Federal Government should again approach the State Government of Tasmania and request that the State Agricultural Bank, which has an organization for doing similar work, should undertake the construction of War Service Homes. Although the State Government refused to do the work previously, I believe that it would undertake it rather than see the local War Service Homes Office abolished. The Department could then leave its inspector in Hobart to attend to outside work, and there would be some prospect of economical administration and proper supervision. I hope the decision will not be acted upon. {: #subdebate-7-0-s4 .speaker-KOJ} ##### Senator HAYS:
Tasmania .- I also wish to enter my protest against the decision referred to. If the Government desires to abolish the Tassmanian branch of the War Service Homes Department, it would be infinitely better, more economical, more efficient, and more satisfactory to adopt **Senator Ogden's** suggestion, and hand the administration over to the State Government. I sincerely hope that action will not be taken in the direction indicated. {: #subdebate-7-0-s5 .speaker-JRW} ##### Senator CRAWFORD:
Honorary Minister · Queensland · NAT -- As requested by honorable senators from Tasmania, I shall bring the subject to which they have referred under the notice of the Minister for Works and Railways, who deals with War Service Homes. Question resolved in the affirmative. Senate adjourned at 3.53 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 August 1923, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.