9th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minis ter representing the Minister for Defence whether he can supply me with the information for which I have previously asked relative to the mutiny, or some such trouble, that occurred on H.M.A.S. Geranium?
– The Minister for Defence has suppliedthe following reply : -
The Naval Board advise that there is no truth in the report that a mutiny occurred on H.M.A.S. Geranium. There was some disciplinary trouble early in June while the ship was in northern waters, but this has been adjusted.
No complaints have been made as to quality of food, and no men are under arrest.
Assent to the following Bills re ported : -
Meat Export Bounties Bill.
National Debt Sinking Fund Bill.
Beer Excise Bill.
Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill 1923-24.
Northern Territory Railway Extension Bill.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs whether he is yet in a position to supply me with the information for which I asked on the 3rd inst., during the debate onthe Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill, and by letter on the 5th inst., in connexion with the money proposed to be expended on the establishment of a Forest Products Laboratory ?
-I have sent the request of the honorable senator to the Department of Trade and Customs. I do not know the reason for its delay in replying. I have to-day taken action to see that a reply is given at the earliest possible moment. I shall try to give the honorable senator the information before the Senate rises to-day.
Pensions for the Blind.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether, in the proposed amendment of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act, it is the intention of the Government to provide for the payment of an increased pension to persons who are suffering from blindness?
– It is not usual, in reply to questions, to anticipate a Bill that is coming forward, and as this Bill will be brought forward at an early date,
I suggest that the honorable senator allow hia question to stand over until the measure is presented.
– I ask the Minister for Home and Territories if there is any necessity for the Expropriation Board, which controls the properties in the Mandoted Territories, to he under the Prime Minister’s Department, and the general administration of the Mandated Territories to be under the Department of Home and Territories? Does he not think it would lead to more satisfactory results if the whole of the questions arising in connexion with the Mandated Territories were dealt with by the Department of Home and Territories?
– The expropriation of properties in the Mandated Territories arises from the Treaty of Peace of Versailles, and, as such, concerns Australia’s relations with other countries. Therefore, the matter is more properly under the control of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), who is also Minister for External Affairs. The question of internal administration is a separate one, as Australia derives its powers from the Mandate. That is the reason why the distinction has been made.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether he can give me the information I Bought about a fortnight ago with regard to cable rates and agreements!
– I regret to say that I have not yet received the information’ for which the honorable senator asked.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether there 1b any prospect of an advance copy of the Auditor-General’s report being made available to honorable senators before they are called upon to discuss the Estimates for 1923-24?
– I shall have inquiries made to see how the preparation of the report of the Auditor-General is proceeding.
– Is it the intention of the Government’ to prolong the session; if so, to what extent?
– Probably the honorable senator’s question has been prompted by the fact that I have to-day given notice of my intention to move to-morrow for leave to introduce certain Bills. I think the honorable senator’ will realize when he sees those measures that they will not render necessary any extension of the session.,
The following papers were presented : -
Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, held at Melbourne, May-June, 1923. - Memorandum, Report of Debates, and Decisions arrived at.
Lands Acquisition Act- -Land acquired for Postal purposes tut Croydon, Sooth Australia.
Norfolk Island- Ordinance No. 5 of 1923- Maintenance Orders (Facilities for En- .forcement) Ordinance.
Royal Australian Naval College - Annual Report, 1922.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the amendments made by the Senate in this Bill.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
Whether the Government will, before finally deciding to abolish the Hobart Branch of the War Service Homes Department, request the TasmanianGovernment to allow the State Agricultural Bank to administer this Department?
– The answer is -
The Tasmanian Government has already been requested to carry on the provision of War Service Homes in that State on lines similar to those agreed upon in the case of the Western Australian Government, but it has declined todo so. It is proposed to again approach the Tasmanian Government on this matter.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The answer is -
Yes. There is no intention to in any way disfigure the lounge cars on the transAustralian trains, which have been so universally admired. The ideais to - by attractive views, with the minimum of advertising matter - illustrate to the overseas travellers and others by the East-West Railway, the growing importance of Australian manufacturing and producing interests, which it is thought wouldbe more instructive to them and more advantageous to Australia than mere scenic views. The illustrations accepted, if any, will be strictly confined to representations of great Australian national industries.
Debate resumed from 10th August (vide page 2461), on motion by Senator Pearce-
That the Estimates and Budget-papers 1923- 24 beprinted.
– Usually the motion submitted by the Minister (Senator Pearce) affords hon orable senators full opportunity for free discussion on all matters of moment to the citizens of the Commonwealth, but the Government have mapped out their programme, and have prepared a timetable so as, in my opinion, to limit discussion and bring the debate on this motion to a close as speedily as possible.
– Practically every honorable senator has already spoken to the motion.
– The Government are anxious to travel at express speed. They are scurrying to recess-their haven of safety. Why must this session close next week? Why arethe Government so anxious to suspend Parliament when matters of the greatest importance to the people of Australia are calling for consideration? Of course we all know the reason. It has been published by the Prime Minister himself. At Maryborough, anterior to the last election, Mr. Bruce, who was then Commonwealth Treasurer, referring to the respective parties in the field, declared that the Country party was led by the most paralyzing of leaders - men who were incapable of leading - and that if they obtained power they would lead the country to disaster. Well, the Country party have attained power. They are now associated with the Nationalist party, led by Mr. Bruce, in the present Cabinet. They have equal power in that Cabinet. But the Country party are not to be intrusted with the government of the country, because, according to Mr. Bruce, they would lead the country to disaster. And so the Prime Minister has decreed that, during his absence from Australia, Parliament shall be closed. So far as the Nationalist party are concerned, that is the end of it. Members of that party are mere cyphers.
– On the honorable senator’s showing, the Prime Minister is justified in closing Parliament. The honorable senator is making out a very good case for the Government.
– Parliament is to be closed because, so the Prime Minister declared, the Country party cannot be intrusted with the Government of the country, its leaders being incapable of leading.
– And apparently the honorable senator indorses that view.
– And evidently the Minister, who is a representative of the Country party in the Cabinet, also indorses the Prime Minister’s opinion that he is incapable of leading. In a couple of weeks the Bruce clan will be on its way to the heart of the Empire, and according to public reports it will be no small party. The Prime Minister will be accompanied by Senator Wilson, Mr. R. K Oakley, the Chairman of the Tariff Board and Comptroller-General of the Customs, Mr. A. Russell, unofficial private secretary to the Prime Minister, and several other officials, among whom the following have been mentioned as likely to go - Sir Robert Garran, Commonwealth SolicitorGeneral; Mr. Strachan, Acting Secretary to the Prime Minister’s Department, Mr. F. Cutlack, of Sydney, official Publicity Officer; and Admiral Sir Alan Everitt,who is about to travel to England, and would be going in any case. The Prime Minister is proceeding to London as the official representative of the Commonwealth at the Imperial Conferences, but I am not aware of the reason for Senator Wilson’s departure. What is to be his particular mission ? No one has been told as yet.
– Senator Wilson is going as Chairman of the Australian section of the British Empire Exhibition.
SenatorDrake-Brockman. - And because the British Prime Minister requestedour Prime Minister to bring with bins another Minister.
– Then Senator Wilson is going, as it were, to enjoy himself. I anticipate that the trippers will be economical in their tastes a nd habits when abroad. The Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce), who represented the Commonwealth at the Washington Disarmament Conference, is a man of frugal habits, he cannot be regarded as parsimonious; yet he is not extravagant. He is not a spendthrift, but his expenses amounted to nearly £9,000. If the gentlemen to comprise the delegation to the Imperial Conference are as economical in their expenditure as was Senator Pearce, their expenses will amount to £75,000 or £100,000. That may be a mere bagatelle to honorable senators opposite; but I trust that when they return a statement of the expenditure incurred will be published. I do not wish any members of the delegation to go as other than official representatives of the Commonwealth. Mr. A. Russell is, we are informed, to be the unofficial secretary to the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce). I do not know this gentleman ; he may be one of Australia’s best citizens, and one of exceptional capacity, but I do not think it is right that he should go as the unofficial secretary to the Prime Minister. I would take no exception to his going as private secretary to Mr. Bruce, the citizen; but I have a decided objection to his going as unofficial secretary to Mr. Bruce, the Prime Minister. We should know in what capacity he is going. Matters of the greatest and gravest importance are to be discussed at the Imperial Conference, and a gentleman who occupies the position of private secretary to the Prime Minister should, in these circumstances, be an official of the Commonwealth Government, and responsible to the Commonwealth. The questions to be discussed are of such serious consequence that any one outside the Commonwealth service should not be allowed to fill such a position.
We are informed that the Budget has been prepared and presented earlier than previous Budgets. That is quite true; but the reason is apparent. It had to be prepared and presented earlier than usual to allow the shutters of Parliament House to be put up next week. It is an interesting Budget in many ways. At the end of the next financial year the accumulated surplus will amount to £7,475,726. For the financial year just closed the surplus was £1,020,000, but it is anticipated that nextyear the surplus will be only £47,152. The Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) has stated that it is estimated that next year the returns from Customs and Excise duties will be in the vicinity of £29,000,000, instead of £32,000,000, as they were in. the year just closed. No one is more pleased than I am to know that there is likely to be a falling-off in the revenue derived from Customs duties. At present that is the main source of revenue. Too much revenue is received from Customs duties, many of which are not protective, but merely revenue duties.
During the next four years our liabilities will be heavy, and loans totalling about £203,000,000 will mature. With a falling . revenue, increased expenditure, the likelihood of additional taxation, and loans amounting ta £203,000,000 falling due, any one who- can take an optimistic view of Australia’s position for the next few years is very sanguine. Dark clouds are overhanging, almost every country in the world. In some countries the clouds are heavier than in others, and it may be some time, perhaps many years, before the sunshine of prosperity is again with us. Irrespective of what is happening in other parts of the world, there are some who consider that Australia’s position is satisfactory. But Australia cannot be right if the rest of the world is economically wrong. In Australia we produce more than sufficient for our requirements. We export our surplus, and the prosperity of the Commonwealth depends fca a large extent upon favorable markets being found for our exportable surplus. Those oversea markets are more or less: closed against us, and until the doors of opportunity are opened, the millions, of people in Europe fully employed and credit restored, the, future of Australia,, notwithstanding the optimism displayed in this Chamber and elsewhere, cannot be regarded as very bright. There are. some who say that, although there is. a larger army of unemployed in Great Britain than ever before, and, although their trade is in a bad way, all that is needed is a wholesale immigration policy, and the prosperity of Britain and Australia will be assured. There are some persons- - surface-minded in my opinion; - who entertain the belief that a large population means prosperity. If a large- population was synonymous with prosperity, those countries with the biggest population would be the most prosperous and the most contented. As a matter of fact, the reverse is true. Where there- is’ a big population there is,, as a rule, wealth on the one hand and poverty and misery on the other. Ever since I can; remember, a. section of the people of this country, who are not associated! with the Labour party, have lipped,’ and lipped vigorously, the view that Australia needs a “ sound, sane, vigorous immigration policy.”
We are told that unless we pursue such a policy Australia will soon be well within the danger zone. One hundred and fifty-three years ago Captain Cook discovered Australia ; one hundred and thirty-five years ago the first settlement was established in this country. Nearly seven decades have -come and gone since responsible Governmentwas instituted; and nearly a quarter of a century has passed since- the Commonwealth was established. During that long period of time we have been at peace with the earth, seeking quarrel with no one outside our own domain. We have never been invaded. But those persons to whom I have referred say, “ If you do not people and develop this country here and now, we shall be invaded.” Some Australians are haunted, by the fear that unless we get millions of people into Australia and prepare for defence, we shall be undone. Who will attack Australia? Who is our enemy? Against whom have we a quarrel ! For over a century and a half we have been free from invasion. During that period of time we have not been idle. We have blazed the track. We have pioneered the bush. We have developed our resources. We have established industries, and have set up a standard of living equal, if not superior, to that of any other country. Now that we have done this, there are some people -and they ought to know better - who are directly or indirectly inviting people who have nb right to come here to take possession of that which we have established. If there is anything that I hate tq hear, it is the expression of the fear that Australia is likely to .be invaded, and that we must prepare for war. I hate war. I detest it. I have no time for it.
– We all indorse that view.
– I have my doubts about the truth of that statement. I doubt whether all those who- say they hate war actually do hate it. If all who say they oppose war were really opposed to it, there would be no war. If the Christian churches would take the side of peace, we should have everlasting peace.
– Do- they not?
– They do not
– They do riot take the side of cowardice.
– That all depends upon what the honorable senator means by “ cowardice.” They ought to take the side of Christianity, and observe the commandment, “ Thou shalt not kill.” The churches, as a rule, do not take that stand, and some of the leaders of the Christian churches are more jingoistic than those who have never been to church.
– I am afraid the honorable senator is speaking “ without his book.”
– I know what was the attitude of some ministers of Christ during the recent war. If they would now read the speeches which they then delivered, they would probably, in their calmer moments, regret * having made them.
– What attitude did they take?
– The workers of different countries do not hate each other. They are, in a measure, cosmopolitan, wherever they may be born. That was shown during the recent war. Sir Philip Gibbs, in his book, The Soul of the War, tells us that during the period when we are told to observe the injunction, “ On earth peace, good-will toward men,” there was a cessation of- hostilities on the battle front. “ Fritz “ and the British “ Tommy “ linked arms, fraternized with one another, and exchanged cigarettes. The good-will also extended to tho officers, who asked one another what they were fighting for.
– After’ that they exchanged “lead pills.”
– Yes, because they had to. War means “kill or be killed.” The workers of all countries are opposed to war.
– They are not. If they were there would be no war. The workers are not different from any other class in that respect.
– In conscript countries tho workers have had no voice in the matter. If the workers of all countries were consulted before war was declared, I do not believe there would be war at any time. Some people have said, and have repeated it many times, “ Beware of the coloured man ! Japan has an eye on Australia.”
– The honorable senator ought to keep off that subject just now.
– I shall deal with it because I have never entertained such fears of Japan. After what has been said about a probable invasion by Japan, let me quote the following view of a Japanese gentleman : -
We have silly people and a “ yellow “ press, the same as you have. We hear silly things about Japan coveting Australia. Japan desires nothing but peace and friendship.
That is what Professor Joji Sakurai, a member of the Japanese House of Peers, and Vice-President of ‘the Council of National Research, of Japan, has said. Count Yoshii says -
Japan has no designs on Australia. She has done more than any country to carry out the terms of the Washington Treaty. Our aim is to know you, and to let you know us We want to be more friendly and intimate.
– But Japan is spending half its revenue on preparations for war.
– Supposing that it is, Japan is merely making preparation for its own protection, just as Australia is preparing to defend itself.
– Is it necessary for Japan to make such huge preparations?
– I do not know. But the Labour party does not -desire Australia to be defenceless and helpless. We are prepared to make the necessary arrangements for the defence of this country. There are some who say that the expenditure involved would impose such ‘ a great strain on the financial resources of Australia that it would eventually bring ruin to the Commonwealth. In the first place, we are assured that we shall be invaded if we do not do a certain thing, and secondly, if we do it as it should be done, the strain will be so great that we shall ruin ourselves in the effort. That is the reasoning of honorable gentlemen opposite.
– Not at all.
– We are told, in effect, that Australia is too poor to meet the expenditure necessary for its own defence, and that it must approach the Mother Country and ask for assistance from the workers there, although 1,500,000 of them are unemployed today, and probably a similar number are only partially employed.
– We are going to the richest country in the world.
– And the highest taxed country.
– Bich as Britain was up to the time of the war, one-tenth of the population was submerged, and we should not ask people in poorer circumstances than ourselves to shoulder our own obligations.
– I can see that there will be no trouble in getting the Defence
– What is meant by the Defence vote ? Personally I think that there is very little reason to fear an invasion of Australia, but as a member of the Labour party I am not pre- pared to take any risks. Many years ago, before aircraft had been proved practicable, I hazarded the opinion that excursions through the sky would soon be aa frequent as motor car trips through the country. I also made the statement, prior to the outbreak of the late war, that if there was another conflagration - and I hoped it would not be in my time - it would largely be decided in the air and under the water by means of aircraft and submarines. I contend that if we are to have an up-to-date Defence Force, we could very well defend ourselves by air-craft and submarines.
– By advocating aircraft the honorable senator is favouring the most .destructive form of warfare.
– Yes, but the next war will probably be more deadly than any previously experienced, and there will be no question of whether or not we should have conscription. If another war does take place, lt will probably result in the annihilation of cities, and the decimation of men, women, and children by thousands.
-As a peace advocate the honorable senator supports the most destructive form of warfare.
– I am simply saying that that is the trend of modern warfare, and it is no use shutting our eyes to the fact. Would Senator Lynch suggest that we should prepare to defend ourselves with shanghais against an enemy armed with “ Long Toms “. It would bc foolish to spend millions on obsolete means of defence.
– Aeroplanes are of very little use against troops in the field.
– The honorable senator may be an authority, but I do not think he is the only authority on the way to win battles.
– What is the obsolete method to which the honorable senator refers?
– Big battleships are becoming more or less obsolete in modern warfare.
– Experts do not agree with that proposition.
– There is a difference of opinion amongst the experts.
Leaving that matter, I desire now to deal with some of the remarks made by certain honorable senators opposite. We had an interesting and informative speech from Senator Kingsmill. I do not always agree with what he says, but I am in entire agreement with him on the subject of afforestation. Looking through the Budget speech, I notice that the present Government and their predecessors have planted a number of trees in the Federal Capital Territory, no doubt for commercial purposes as well as for beautifying the’ capital. The next honorable senator on the opposite side who spoke was Senator Guthrie, and he dealt with a variety of subjects. He stated that there were more unemployed in Queensland than in any other part of the Commonwealth, and he declared that this was due to the mismanagement and bad administration of the Labour Government there. That statement is absolutely incorrect. No Government could last any time if it mismanaged or misgoverned a country. There have been Labour Governments iu Queensland for twelve years.
– The honorable senator does not deny that unemployment exists there.
– Because of the fa’ct that Queensland has had Labour Governments for that period, it enjoys the unique distinction to-day that wages there are higher, the cost of living’ is lower, and the amount per head of the population in the Savings Bank and other institutions is greater than in any other State in Australia, while the opportunities of the people are very much, in excess of those existing in the other States.
– Queensland progresses in spite of its Government, and not because of it.
– That is piffle. No country can progress, unless it has good government, The statement by Senator Guthrie, therefore, is not in accordance with facts. It may be true that there are a considerable number of unemployed men in Queensland to-day-
– Official statistics show that to be true.
– Queensland is a State of very great distances. There are a greater number of seasonal occupations in Queensland than in any other State, and a great deal depends upon the period for which those figures were compiled. Even if they be true, the statement has been made by gentlemen occupying important official positions, that because the opportunities in Queensland are greater than they are in any other State, the unemployed from every part of the Commonwealth make their way to Queensland, where they know they will get kindly and considerate treatment from the State Government. Senator Guthrie also said that the workers were being misled by paid agitators, who realized that their comfortable billets at £5 and £6 a week would be endangered if conditions approximating to industrial peace were allowed to prevail in Australia.
– I made a mistake there; I should have said £10 to £12 a week.
– The honorable gentleman went on to say that there would be little or no industrial unrest but for the activities of those whom he called paid agitators. I know in what sense he used the words “paid agitators” - it was intended to be an offensive, and not a complimentary, reference. I inform Senator Guthrie that the paid officials of trade unions and labour organizations generally are men who have the respect and confidence of their organizations. They have been appointed to fill those paid positions because, in the opniion of the majority of the members of the organizations to which they belong, they are well qualified to fill them. It is a reflection upon those men for Senator Guthrie to say that they would not hold their jobs if they did not create strife and be responsible for strikes. That is the inference to be drawn from the statement which that honorable senator made. These officials are always anxious that there should be industrial peace.
– For every strike that occurs the trade union secretary prevents the occurrence of twelve.
– I am glad that the honorable senator has made that statement. I know itto be a fact that the trade union secretaries in everyState of the Commonwealth do all that they possibly can to prevent the occurrence of strikes. They are men of wide experience and mature judgment. They know the suffering and misery that are often endured when men strike to uphold a principle. Many strikes have taken place against the advice and the wishes of the secretaries of organizations.
– I think we are fairly well agreed on that.
– I am making this statement in order to refute that made by Senator Guthrie. The honorable senator also had something to say in regard to the woollen industry. He poses as a wool expert.
– He is one, and is recognised as such.
– He says he is. We will take it that he is the only wool expert in Australia.
– He is not that; but he is one of the best.
– Senator Guthrie is a most disinterested man in regard to the woollen industry ! He is one of the few patriots that Australia possesses - and we have very few. He is anxious to see the furtherance of the industry; but not in the manner of some people, who put their money into an enterprise in the expectation of getting a substantial return! He is, according to his speeches on the woollen industry, more or less a philanthropist! He told the people that he wanted to be one of the syndicate which would purchase the Commonwealth Woollen Mill, if it were sold at a reasonable price. It was sold at a reasonable price. It was practically given away. Senator Guthrie is one of those who are interested in this mill. He is interested in the Stawell Mills, the Mount Gambier Mills, and the Lincoln Mills. He says, in effect, that the duties on woollen goods are too high. He is not a high Tariff man. He says he favours the imposition of lower duties. He says, also, that too many goods are coming into Australia just now. According to his line of reasoning, in order to prevent their coming into Australia in such large numbers, the duties ought to be lowered. He said that those goods were coming in too cheaply ; that some of them were being imported at less than they cost to produce in the country of origin, and that they were entering into competition with Australian goods. A short time ago he Said that Australian woollen goods were sold to an importer iri Flinders-lane at 4s. 3d. per yard, and the Flinders-lane man charged 27s. a yard. He objects to the importer selling imported goods at a cheap price. Naturally, he also objects to that man selling Australian goods at too high a price. He says that there are mills to-day that are under-capitalized, and others that are over-capitalized. We know that there are mills that are neither under-capitalized nor over-capitalized - mills that are established on a sound, firm, business basis, and are signal successes. There are mills to-day the shares of which are, according to the share market reports, from 50 per cent, to 75 per cent, above par. Those mills are paying 10 per cent., 15 per cent., and 17 J per cent., by way of dividends and bonuses. Can it be said, therefore, that they are in a bad way? It cannot.
– Great trouble was experienced in floating a company iri Western Australia.
– Difficulty may be experienced in the flotation of a company in Western Australia. There will be difficulties in connexion with the flotation of, not only woollen, but many other companies, if I am a judge of coming events. To show the inconsistency and the illogical attitude of Senator Guthrie, let me quote a statement which was made by him later in his remarks. He said, in effect, that the woollen industry is being more or less ruined to-day because dumping is taking place, and because certain mills are in a somewhat parlous state. I repeat, for the benefit of Senator Guthrie, who has just returned to the Chamber, that the mills which have been established on sound business lines and which are being managed efficiently and economically, are paying, in dividends and bonuses, from 10 per cent, to 17$ per cent., and their shares are quoted on the market at from 50 per cent, to 75 per cent.’ above par.
– No one has said that these mills are not doing well. They were established before the war.
– I do not think that the Australian Knitting Mills were established before the war.
– They were established during the war.
– The shares of the Australian Knitting Mills are to-day more than 50 per cent, above par, and those mills are a signal success.
– If is a good job if they are doing well.
– I like to see them doing well. What mills are not doing well? Only those which apparently are not being run on proper lines. Senator Guthrie says that we not only produce the best wool, and make the best blankets in the world, but that we send our blankets overseas, and compete successfully on the American market Where, then, is his consistency? First of all he tells us that we are going to be ruined unless a greater measure of protection is given, while in the next breath he says that it does not matter what other people manufacture, Australia can find a market in America for its wool and blankets. /
– I said that the protection was plenty high enough.
– The honorable senator said it was too high, and that in the interests of his business he wanted a lower duty in order that a smaller quantity of goods might enter Australia.
– Oh, no.
- Senator Guthrie is also extremely anxious that Australia should have a wholesale immigration policy. He says that there are many opportunities in Australia for’ new arrivals. Where are those opportunities ?
– All over the place.
– There is no short road to prosperity and riches in Australia. At the present moment the pastoralist is - if we may judge by the discussion which took place recently - in a bad way.
– It is only the cattle man.
– Honorable senators opposite contend that the Queensland cattle men are not doing very well at the present time. Because of that
– And keep the meat works going - that is the main thing.
– And keep meat prices high.
– So, according to honorable senators opposite, there is no room - in Queensland, anyhow - for cattle men. There is no room in Victoria at present for the orchardist. We know that not very long ago, when the ex-Prime Minister was in power, the slogan was “Produce, produce, produce, the more you produce the quicker will you attain prosperity.” Many persons in Australia responded to the advice then tendered, and a greater number of - trees was planted. In the course of time those trees bore fruit. The fruit industry was never in a worse position that it is in at the present time. The- Government came to the aid of the fruit-growers to the extent of £500,000. The Minister for Trade and Customs, speaking at a meeting of fruitgrowers the other day, said -
The Government at present had 218,000 dozen tins of fruit in England; 61,000 dozen were on the water, and 647,000 dozen tins were still in Australia. With the tremendous pack still in front of them; the position for next season was very serious. It was not for politicians to find a way out of the difficulty; that was a matter for the growers themselves.
Yet we hear persons advising folks oversea to come to Australia and settle on the land! In what capacity? At the present time they cannot expect to be successful as graziers.
– What about woolgrowing, wheat-growing, and lambraising?
– In this State, roughly about 12,000,000 acres of land have been resumed since 1916, and quite a large number of returned soldiers have settled on the land. They are engaged in mixed farming.
– And they are doing well.
– Some may be doing well, but a considerable number are not.
– The majority are doing very well indeed.
– According to an official statement, repayments are in arrears to tha extent of over £1,000,000, and their future is not very bright. This
– I quite agree with the honorable senator on that point.
– Land settlement at present is not a good proposition for a poor man. A man will hesitate before he takes on a big undertaking in any of the States. Queensland probably offers the most inducement at the present time.
– What is wrong with Western Australia ?
– In Queensland, the land settlement propositions are promising. If settlers there have sufficient capital, they will be well advised by experts of the State Agricultural Department, and should be successful. Senator Pearce asks what is wrong with Western Australia. I can only say that on a former occasion, when I drew attention ‘ to the position in Western Australia, following upon the inauguration of an extensive system of immigration by that State in conjunction with the Commonwealth and the British Governments, Senator Pearce said that there were no complaints, and that seemingly the settlers were getting on well in their respective spheres.
– I did not say that there had been no complaints. I contended that on the whole the scheme was £1 succ6ss*
– That is not borne out by published statements. That there is general dissatisfaction in Western Australia, was evidenced at a meeting convened the other day at the Trades Hal], Perth, and which was largely attended by men who declared that they had been induced, .many of them, said under false pretences and misrepresentation, to come to Western Australia.
– Not as land settlers, but as land workers.
– Apart from that, a meeting of the New Settlers League was held in Perth a few days ago, and was attended by Mr. James Wignall, M.P., a member of the British Overseas Migration Committee, which visited the various States to ascertain what were the opportunities for land settlement in Australia, and how those already on the
land were .progressing. Mr. Wignall’s statement at that meeting was significant. He said -
I must tell you, whether you like it or not that we have had more serious complaints from Western Australia than from all the other States in Australia.
– That may be because Western Australia receives more immigrants,
– Apparently it does not matter what statements one makes with regard to Western Australia, Senator Pearce can always find a way out.
– Western Australia is introducing immigrants in their thousands, while other States are introducing them in their hundreds.
– Yes, but if people are entering Western Australia in their thousands, they are also leaving that State in their thousands. The official figures show that departures from Western Australia exceed the arrivals.
– Senator Needham used those figures the other day, and they were shown to be incorrect.
– They were correct My figures stand.
- [Extension of time granted.] There is no doubt that the Government, backed up by big financial and business organizations,- are extremely anxious to flood Australia, net with thousands, but with millions of people during the next few years, irrespective of whether land or employment is available for the new arrivals. Senator Duncan the other day quoted certain figures to show that the workers of the Commonwealth were never better off than they are to-day. The honorable senator also suggested that this improvement in their position was due to the fact that we had a composite Government in power. I dispute that statement entirely.
– Does the honorable senator contend that the worker in employment is worse off to-day than he has been hitherto?
– I admit that the working man in employment is to-day in a better position than he was half a century, a quarter of a century, or even, perhaps, five or six years ago. But this is not due to the composite Government. The improvement in the conditions of the working classes have been won in spite of Governments such as we have in Australia to-day, with the exception of the Queensland State Administration. The credit must be given to the existence of efficient labour organizations - trade unions, Labour representatives in Federal, State, and municipal spheres of government - and the force behind those organizations. Where are these golden opportunities for immigrants which honorable senators opposite so glowingly describe ? In New ‘ South Wales, notwithstanding that the conditions there, in ‘ common with those -in the other States, are better than they were a few years ago, at the present time at least 30,000 trade unionists are out of employment. In round figures there are 280,000 trade unionists in New South Wales,, and of that number 11 per cent., according to published statements, are out of work. In Victoria the number of unemployed must run into thousands.
– Evidently the honorable senator has not read the report of the Labour Department in this State. It indicates that there is a distinct shortage of labour here.
– The Labour Bureau’s report does not say there is no unemployment in Victoria. No one in that Department, or outside of it, who knows anything about Melbourne, could make such a statement.
– I advise the honorable senator to try to build a house. He would then realize that there is a shortage of labour.
– There may be, and probably is, a shortage in the building trade, but so far as I am aware, there is no shortage in any other line of business. The fact that there may be a temporary shortage in the building trade does not warrant this Government and their supporters going in for a wholesale migration policy’ in order to get a few bricklayers and carpenters.
– The shortage is not a temporary difficulty.
– I hope this building boom will continue for many years, but I have my doubts on that point.’ Wc know that there is a shortage of houses in most of the States, and that people will build if they can find the wherewithal. The Government should call a halt in their policy of immigration.
– If we doubled the population of Melbourne, would that not mean a better market for primary production?
– And, assuming the honorable senator’s line of reasoning to be sound, if we quadrupled the population of Melbourne, the position would be better stilL I cannot follow him in that argument, because it is an established fact that in countries with twice and three times .the population of the Commonwealth, the people are very much worse off than we are. If a big population was synonymous with prosperity, countries with the biggest populations would be most prosperous, and their people the most contented.
– What about the United States of America?
– Very great distress is being experienced in that country at the present time.
Before I conclude I want to elicit from the Government the reason for the seeming bungle in regard to the disposal of the Williamstown dockyard. When the Government came into office, we were told that they were going to get out of business, and amongst the Commonwealth activities to be disposed of was the Williamstown dockyard. According to apublished statement, the dockyard was sold by this Government, composed, we are told, of business men, who claim to know how to conduct the business of the country on sound lines, for £150,000 on the walk-in walk-out basis. After the yard was disposed of to the Melbourne Harbor Trust, Commonwealth officials went to the yard and claimed plates valued at £50,000, which they said belonged to the Commonwealth, and of which they desired to take possession. The honorary Minister (Senator Wilson) who is in control of the Department may laugh and sneer, but it is not a laughing matter for the taxpayers of Australia. I desire to know who is responsible for the sale of the yard at that price, and if. the published statement is correct that the Government sold it to the Melbourne Harbor Trust on a walkin walk-out basis. Are the taxpayers to he asked to compensate the Trust, and
– Is everything which appears in that newspaper correct?
– I do not believe everything which appears in the Argus any more than I believe in the correctness of every statement by the Minister. The statement against the Department has not, however,, been contradicted. Will the Honorary Minister say whether the published information that £50,000 is involved is correct?
– The statement does not prove that any one will secure an advantage of £50,000.
– It is reported that the Government or the representatives of one of its Departments, claimed £50,000 worth df material which was to be transferred to ‘Cockatoo Island.
– The Government cannot be blamed if a claim is to be lodged.
– No, but the position is so serious that the Trust is going to fight the Government over it. >
– :The Government are not prepared to give “way.
– There should not bo any loop-hole or reason for doubt. This is supposed to be a business Government, and Ministers can easily obtain tha best legal advice available. Why do they not transact their business in a proper business-like way?
– Has the honorable senator seen the documents?
– The Government hold there is no doubt in the matter.
– The Harbor Trust is of the opinion that it is right, and according to the published statement intends to fight the Government on the issue. : In this, as in other instances, the Government are bungling.
– The honorable senator does not suggest that the Government are not looking after the taxpayers’ interests ?
– They are not doing that, otherwise there would be no occasion to resort to law.
– Is the honorable senator in favour of the Government disposing of the yard?
– No, but the Government, having disposed of it, the business should be done in a business-like way.
I now wish to make a passing reference to Senator Foll. There are politicians and statesmen. Politicians areconcerned with the next elections; but Senator Foll is a statesman who concerns himself with the next generation, and not with the next election ! The honorable senator fired off shots at those voracious crow-eaters from South Australia, who, wounded by the attack which he made on them, will not have very much to say in the future concerning the claims of the State which they represent! The honorable senator then had a few words to say concerning the sand-gropers from Western Australia - the lilliputian legislators from that State.
– There are no such people.
– Yes; the honorable senator included in his attack the representatives of the Nationalist and anti-Labour parties from that State. These lilliputian legislators were told in effect by this statesman that it was their duty to travel. This statesman, with ripened and matured judgment, has toured the major portion of Australia, and in doing so has visited parts of Western Australia. He has seen apparently what these lilliputian legislators have not seen, and has come to the conclusion that the people in that State are too poor to develop its resources ! The honorable senator suggested that the Commonwealth should do for Western Australia what the Government of the State is unable to do, and declared that he was willing to assist them. When the honorable senator was referring to Canberra, an honorable senator on this side remarked, “ Why this haste to go to Canberra?” Then this statesman replied, “ The honorable senator is new to political life. When he has been in public life as long as I have, he will realize the serious and deadly influence exercised upon members of the Federal Parliament which now meets in this awful city of Melbourne.” Senator Foll concluded by bestowing blessings upon the Govern ment, and wishing it alonglife. I cannot join with him in extending my blessings to the Government, nor do I desire that it shallhave a long life. I do all I can to destroy it, because it is a weak and anaemic Government. It is, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) said at Maryborough, composed of paralyzing and incapable men, who will lead thecountry to disaster. For these reasons, if for no other, the Government does not deserve to remain in office. The longer it remains in power, the worse it will be for the Australian people. It is evident to every one that a change will be made at the next elections. So far as those Ministers who are going abroad are concerned, I wish them personally a pleasant voyage, although I am opposed to them politically. I trust that they will return to Australia safely ; but that when they come back their days as Cabinet Ministers will be numbered.
– I wish tomake a few remarks on Australia’s defence policy, which hasbeen criticised by honorable senators opposite, and, at the risk of wearying honorable senators, to refer to the proposed Singapore base. Senator Hoare quoted certain alleged authorities whohave opposed the establishment of thatbase, and referred in particular to the views expressed by Lieutenant-Colonel Charles A’Court Repington, who has gained great notoriety in the journalistic world, but who is not regarded as an authority on strategic questions.
– What of Asquith?
– Apparently very few people in Great Britain pay much heed to the views expressed by Mr. Asquith, who is a discredited politician.
– Would it not bebetter to say that he has lost his influence?
– He has,at any rate, lost his influence upon the British people. I remind honorablesenators opposite that it was in consequence ofthe ignorance displayed by the membersof the Asquith Government, and the strategic mistakes made, that the landing at Gallipoli was afailure.
– Was not Churchill responsible?
– Churchill suggested it, but the proposed operations were not properly considered by the British Cabinet, and consequently the necessary preparations were not made to insure its success. I have been to some trouble to look up the records of those gentlemen, who, I was informed, by Senator Hoare, were greater authorities than I am ever likely to be. I do not claim to be an authority on Empire defence, but I can support the opinions of some very great men in regard to the proposal for a naval base at Singapore, I have every justification in believing that Sir John Monash is firmly convinced of the value to Australia of the Singapore base, and Admiral Beatty, who was more than any other man responsible for the destruction of the German naval power, has definitely expressed an opinion in favour of its establishment. Lord Jellicoe is iu favour of a Pacific Fleet, which must have a base somewhere, ‘and Singapore appears to be the most natural spot from which such a Fleet could operate. Tho honorable senator referred to Admiral Sir Percy Scott, who is now verging on extreme age.
– He is opposed to a base at Singapore.
– Yes; but although his views are deserving of respect, we must remember that he did not actively participate in the Great War. The views of Admirals, such as Beatty and Jellicoe, who have, had recent experience should carry greater weight. The principal authority quoted by Senator Hoare was LieutenantColonel Charles A’Court Repington. It is astonishing to find a man of Senator Hoare’s views quoting such an authority. This nian is one of tile idle rich, who was nurtured at Eton, Cambridge, and Sandhurst. The honorable senator has nothing in common with him, but in order to discredit the Government, affects to hold him up before the public of Australia as the highest authority to which an appeal can bc made. I remind my honorable friend that this gentleman was tried during the war, and’ punished, for disclosing military information to the injury of his country. He obtained that information, as far as we can discover, by underhand means, through some person at the General Staff Office in Great Britain. He disclosed it for his own aggrandizement nd glory, by publishing it in the Morning Post, of which newspaper he was a special correspondent.
While other authorities were gaining their experience on the hard-fought fields of France, this gentleman was having tea with the ladies of London.
– Where did he get his military title?
– It is fairly easy, if one has family influence, to rise in military rank. I am not saying anything derogatory to Colonel Repington’s military career; I have not had an opportunity of inquiring closely into it. In the recent war, he held no command, and when others were fighting so hard on 9th April, 1915, he made the following entry in, his diary: -
I refused two week-end invitations in order to stay and help Gwynee
– Has he any good points ?
– If he has I have failed to find them. While we were fighting at the Front in 191.5, this is what he entered in his diary : -
Looked in at Olive’s Xmas tree. Pretty Bridget kissed me under the mistletoe. . . .
Lunched .with Lady Paget and met Doris Keane and Mrs. Duggan again. I bet that she would not come in the same widow’s weeds, hut she did, to our joy. . . .
– Is that all he did during the war?
– The honorable senator can obtain the two large volumes from which I am quoting, from the Parliamentary Library, and can study them himself. Captain Peter Wright, Secretary of the Supreme War Council, when speaking of the disclosure of military information, referred to this authority in the following not very flattering terms : -
As it is difficult to accept Repington’s explanation that he obtained his information from the French source he mentioned; as the only possible source of his information was copies of the records of the Session of the Supreme War Council in the hands of General Robertson; as he expressed in his Morning POSt articles the views of General Robertson; its, in his letter dated 25th February, Robertson uses language strongly suggesting that the publication of the article was intended to assist Robertson in upsetting Mr. Lloyd George, and it was, in fact, so used in the House of Commons; these considerations, taken together with the previous and subsequent relations existing between them, form a mass of circumstantial evidence pointing with undeviating finger at General Robertson himself as having supplied Repington with the information he published.
If all Robertson’s Staff Officers ‘ were as eager press agents as his chief Staff - Officer, Maurice, there could be no difficulty in doing so. Almost all the papers officially sent by the Military Representatives at Versailles to Robertson, in London in December and January must have been seen by Repington, or numerous entries in his diaries would be impossible; and they could not have been seen by him unless Robertson was willing they should be.
To this conclusion, so damaging to Robertson, converge the many forms of proof supplied, quite involuntarily, by Repington; it is Repington’ s destiny to give evidence, in the intoxication . of his vanity, against the very party in whose favour he comes’ forward to testify. If this supposition, that Robertson was the informant, seems shocking, it is no more shocking than the fact that Robertson approved of Repington ‘s disclosures, both by his words and his acts. The difference in culpability between applauding and instigating such conduct is faint and shadow)’, if it exists at all. The same censure applies to Maurice, who is so hardened to these practice’s, that even now he writes as if unconscious that disclosure of one’s country’s military plans to the enemy in time of war is wrongful, however obtained and whatever the object. “Wo find that, while we were fighting for our lives, Colonel Repington occupied himself with trivialities. The principal subject of discussion at a dinner party which he attended, he tells us, was whether a cow’s horns grew over or under its ears. Those present differed in their views except the Minister for Agriculture, who refused to commit himself. That is very entertaining, but a man who wrote it when his every thought should have been immersed in his country’s difficulties, should not be quoted in this Chamber as an authority.
– While he was doing that, was he drawing a big military pay?
– No. He was not in the Army at that time, although at one period he wore uniform while occupying a position in the War Office. That was before he devoted himself entirely to journalism. I have read carefully through the diaries in which he detailed his daily life during the five years of the war, and the most striking feature of them is that he bitterly opposed the combination of the British and French commands under General Foch. He prophesied disastrous results if British troops were subjected to the command of a foreigner. All his forecasts proved wholly false. That is the man who- is quoted in this Chamber, and in another place, as an authority regarding the strategy of establishing a naval base at Singapore, I leave him at that.
There is another aspect of military defence to which I wish to direct attention, and. that is the intention of the Government to abolish the duties on sulphur. We may have submarines, aeroplanes, guns, and men, but unless we have explosives, we can achieve nothing. The foundation of all explosive manufacture is a simple chemical substance known as sulphuric acid. It can be obtained direct from sulphur, or from the pyrites produced from the mines of Tasmania. Sulphur was practically unobtainable in Australia during the war, and in order that we might not be placed in that position again, the Government urged certain companies to start manufactories, which would produce, at least, sulphuric acid. The Government promised them, -if not by written agreement, at least in effect, that they would be adequately protected. That protection, at the behest of the farming community, is being swept away. I understand the difficulty the country people have, and their desire to obtain manure cheaply. I agree that they should be supplied with cheap manure. It is said that the removal of the duty will be compensated for by a bonus, but compensation by a bonus is not a very good way of protecting industries. If an industry has an opportunity of securing the whole market, it can develop in a way which is impossible if it is subjected to competition from outside ,the country. It is said that the duty on sulphur adds 5s. a ton to the cost of superphosphate. Suppose the Government paid that 5s. a ton as a bonus to the Commissioners in Nauru, on the understanding that the price of superphosphates would be reduced by that amount. At the present time they supply phosphates at cost price, and successive reductions have been made with the idea of providing the farmer with manure at the cheapest possible price. Let us go further than that and, while retaining the duty on sulphur, make up the loss to the farmer by paying a bonus or subsidy to the Commissioners to enable them to supply phosphatic rock below cost price.. In that way, while keeping the home market open for the superphosphate manufacturers, the farmer would not suffer, and would have no ground for complaint,; That would be. .a reasonable way of meeting the situation. In this connexion, I would remind honorable members that during the Tariff debate I opposed the reduction of the duties on imported explosives, which are made chiefly in black-labour factories in Africa, but the influence of those interested in mining waa strong enough to get the duty abolished. In that direction, also, we are rendered destitute of any source of supply for munitions. I think the removal of that duty was a grave mistake, which ought to be rectified as soon as possible. The Government is endeavouring to put the matter right by establishing its own munition factories. It is no use, however, attempting to build up a huge store of ready-made munitions, which deteriorate and become dangerous if kept too long. The object should be to establish factories which can support themselves on the ordinary commerce of the country. If war broke out they could be commandeered for military service, as hundreds of them were in England during the last war.
Senator Findley has urged that we should depend upon submarines and aeroplanes for our defence. But I venture to point out that aeroplanes have very little effect against troops in trenches. They are very annoying, but they accomplish little. Undoubtedly, against towns and objectives of that kind, they are paralyzing, and their power in that regard will tend to become greater as they become more efficient. Against ships they may or may not prove dangerous; but this has not yet been absolutely demonstrated.
– With a possible improvement in the power of ex plosives, may they not become more effective than they are against troops in trenches?
– I do not think so, because they have no propulsive force behind them. The projectile that causes the most damage to men in trenches in the high velocity shell, which penetrates the earth, and blows them to pieces. Dropped froma greater or less height, explosives may have a wider destructive effect laterally, but they have no power of penetrating downwards into dug-outs or shelters of that nature.
– Figuratively speaking, it is only yesterday that an aeroplane could be sent up.
– Yes. With the development of the control of electricity, it may become possible, without really engaging an aeroplane, to cause from the ground the combustion of the explosives that it carries, so that we ought not to pin our faith to one method of warfare. I remind honorable senators opposite that the submarine, towards the end of the late war, was steadily becoming less effective. We had invented all manner of means of dealing most drastically with it. There was a wonderful instrument by which the approach of a submarine could be heard while it was yet miles away. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) tells of his experience in listening to submarines in that way. With the advancement of science it may soon be just as easy to trace a submarine under the sea as a ship on the surface, and to deal with it effectively by means of depth charges, which practicallyreduced the German undersea craft to impotency towards the end of the last war. I think, therefore, that it would be a false policy to rely wholly and solely on submarines and aircraft for our defence. Honorable senators remember the destruction that was caused by the single raider, Emden, the light cruiser that dashed about in the Indian Ocean, destroying oar commerce right and left. Although Japan has, under the Washington Treaty, ceased its construction of major battleships, it is building many light cruisers. Do we wish the seas to be swept clear of our commerce?
-Would not that be a good Protectionist. Tariff?
– While I am a strong Protectionist, I rather think that would be too strong a measure to adopt; it would amount to prohibition. Our ships would be captured, and we should be unable either to import or export goods. It is necessary to have other means of defence than submarines and aeroplanes, because these cannot operate at any great distance from their base. Senator Findley stated that honorable senators on this side were inconsistent. He said that in one breath we urged that Australia was too poor to maintain a fleet, and that in the next he said that we must for our safety maintain a huge fleet. That is not a fair representation of the situation. We say - and I think quite properly - that if we endeavour to engage alone in the mad competition with Japan we must fail hopelessly, but we contend that in partnership with the various parts of the Empire it is quite possible, without crippling ‘ either ourselves or Great Britain, to maintain a fleet adequate for our protection.
Whilst Still on the subject of defence, I wish to complete a phase of the matter with which I was dealing on another motion, a few days ago, when you, Mr. President, ruled me out of order. I was endeavouring to impress upon the Senate that, if we were to cooperate heartily with Great Britain, our Army and our Fleet should be independent of those of the Motherland, because British officers and our men do not understand one another, and there are many grave defects in the British system. In order to connect my remarks, I shall be forced to repeat a portion of my speech on that occasion. I was reading an extract from a book by Captain Peter E. Wright, secretary of the Supreme War Council, who urges the necessity of keeping the Imperial staffs under strict Parliamentary control. Great Britain attempts to ‘do this in a very peculiar manner. It does not pass a Defence Act once and for all as Australia has, but every year it re-enacts the Army Act. The British staffs, therefore, have to be very careful of their steps, to avoid giving offence to Parliament or the Ministry, because, if they did so, all Parliament would need to do would be to refrain from re-enacting the measure, and then their pay would stop automatically.
– Did that not originate out of the dispute as to the control of the Army by the Crown or the Parliament?
– Yes. When the Parliament found that it could not trust the King, who was the paymaster of the Army, it feared a repetition of the experience under Cromwell, and that the Army itself might became so strong as to destroy the liberty of Parliament. Captain Wright points out that in modern times the armies and their commanders tend to become so powerful that there might be a re-birth, as it were, of that danger. This is how he puts it -
General Staffs, in times of modern war, when the nation becomes an army, are the most powerful organisms in the State, for almost every one must obey them, and they tend to supersede the State itself.
The writer thinks they tend to become dictators. It seems to me that something of that nature has been happening in our time in France. The armies and their leaders have run away with the Government, and thus we have the present dreadful difficulty in the Ruhr. There are fears that the army will use its power there to set up an Imperial form of government, or a monarchy. Captain Wright continues -
Through their huge patronage they lay hands on the Legislature and the press. But above all, public opinion is theirs to shape it as they please; for that great two-handed engine of deception, the censorship which conceals the truth, and propaganda which creates the false, is in their hands. This machine, created originally for one purpose, to deceive the enemy, had come, perhaps unavoidably, to be used for deceiving everybody, soldiers and civilians. Keeping up the morale, in the jargon of the war, is the purpose of this second deception, as if men who give their lives with such generosity, without hesitation, needed lies as a further inducement to do so. It is an easy and efficient engine to work, for people are left far more uninstructed, and are far more misled by newspapers, in our enlightened period than ever they were by rumour in the past, before the spread of education had made it possible to induce people to believe anything by printing it. Germans were sure half London was burnt and in ashes; and we have never heard of German victories, like Pilkallen, when they took as many as 100,000 Russian prisoners.
But falsehood, however indispensable (and perhaps in this case it is unavoidable), exacts its price; and here it recoils in an unexpected direction. Generals can have great reputations which are entirely artificial. They do not have to win victories or .campaigns; the subject press bureau and the tame herd of special correspondents or special press agents do it for them.
It is in the High Command, and not in the line, that the art of camouflage is most practised, and reaches to highest flights. All chiefs everywhere are now kept painted, by the busy work of numberless publicists, so as to be mistaken for Napoleons - at a distance. Canny Scots soon ‘ discover that having the brother of the editor of the leading newspaper of the majority party of the Legislature as a chaplain-general is a greater piece of luck than breaking the German line, and a long visit from an influential newspaper proprietor preferable to a good plan of operations. Criticism and doubt become scandalous or illegal outside the armies, and (quite rightly) indiscipline and insubordination within them. It ceases to be necessary for generals to win even wars; they will be almost as victorious if they lose them. This is not fanciful, for almost the whole German people believe Hindenburg unvanquished and invincible; they believe he never was defeated, but broke off the fight and submitted because Germany’s allies deserted her. In spite of the Armistice, he is just as much a conqueror to-day as when his authority extended from Dunkirk to Kieff; and before we deride them as dupes, it is as well to remember that a great many sensible people here are sure that the retreat of the Fifth
Army in March, 1918, was an ingenious manoeuvre, and most people consider that what the Germans call the Bloodbath (das Blutbad) of the Somme was an Allied triumph, though, being almost twice as strong as the Germans, they could Only gain a few miles of ground at a stupendous cost. Joffre, whose mistakes in the first weeks Of the war nearly lost it, remains seated in the hearts of the French as a national hero, however much Commissions of Inquiry may expose him. No doubt if Haig bad been driven into the sea in April, 1918, as seemed likely, he would have remained just as immortally glorious and some one else would have been to blame. A’ new doctrine has come to prevail that commanders-in-chief can do no wrong and are not responsible.
Statesmen, of course, know the truth. Any one in the’ room at the Supreme War Council who knew these heroes remote from their godlike state, bright pomp of swarming obsequious staff officers, millionaire A.D.C.’s, and attendant major-generals, motors and mounted orderlies, secretaries and cooks, with the fountains of official eulogy playing on them in ceaseless glittering streams, could measure their real stature, in all its naked and tragic mediocrity; naked, because the working of their confused, slow and narrow minds revealed itself without chance of concealment in those keen debates with masterly ‘ heads like Sonnino or Foch; and tragic, because these incapables and intriguers, thus decorated and exalted, disposed haphazard of all those brilliant young generations that were being mowed in swathes by the German scythe.
It becomes almost impossible to displace these Napoleons, whatever their incompetence, because of the enormous - public support created by hiding or glossing failure, and exaggerating or inventing success.
This is probably true of every belligerent. Salandra, for example, the Italian Prime Minister, was overthrown in 1916’ for daring to doubt Cadorna, though Cadorna had never done anything but fail. Salandra the politician ventured to think Cadorna the soldier was not invincible, on no other ground except that Cadorna was always beaten. So Cadorna continued muddling away thousands of lives in bis blundering offensives, and his bubble reputation continued to grow bigger and brighter till Caporetto burst it; even then his sycophants in the press clamoured that the defeat and the loss of half-a-million men was not due to Cadorna, but to something else.
But the most insidious and worst effect of this so highly organized falsity is on the generals themselves; modest and patriotic as they mostly are, and as_ most men must be to take up and follow ‘the noble profession of arms, they themselves are ultimately affected by these universal illusions, and, reading it every morning in the paper, they also grow persuaded they are thunderbolts of war and infallible, however much they fail, and that their maintenance in command is an end so sacred that it justifies the use of any moans. These various conditions, of which this great deceit is the greatest, at last emancipates all General Staffs from all control. They’ no longer live for the nation; the nation lives, or rather dies, for them. Victory* or defeat ceases to be the prime interest. What matters to these semi-sovereign corporations is whether dear old Willie or poor old Harry is going to be at their head, or the Chantilly party prevail over the Boulevard des Invalides party. So much is this the case that two branches of a staff can get more hostile to each other than to the enemy, and, for example, at the Grand Quartier-General, Intelligence and Operations spent their time thwarting each other. The Central Powers (as can be seen very clearly from Count Czernin’s Memoirs) suffered from these conditions even more than the Allies; the German General Staff treated Emperors and Chancellors as if they were valets, claimed to control everything, even the birth-rate, and ruined their country by overriding BethmannHollweg in the winter of 1916-1917. “The misfortunes of Germany and Austria,” says Czernin, a temperate judge, well placed to see things as a whole, “ arose from the acts which the military party imposed upon the Government.” Bernstorff, the able German Ambassador in the United States of America, also attributes failure of Germany to its soldiers, who ought to have been kept “ more thoroughly within bounds, just as they were by Bismarck.”
While I advocate that Australian Forces should be controlled according to the provisions of the legislation passed by this Parliament, I advocate also a strict control by Parliament of the Army in all its. branches. It is to enable honorable senators to understand the dangers of an uncontrolled military power that I have ventured to read these long extracts. I refer the Senate for further information to the works from which I have quoted. I desire merely to refer to one phase of the question by means of an illustration. A number of our staff officers were sent for training during the war to staff schools in England. ‘One of those officers brought back to me a staff brochure, which was handed by one of the Generals on the staff to the officers of the school to read and to study. It contained a striking story urging the necessity for the staff to cling together in opposition to outsiders. It is a most remarkable story, and demonstrates how difficult it may be to discover the cause of a disaster. The officer in the story said, “ At a certain battle I had under me a young staff officer who had committed a blunder whereby the lives of 300 men were lost. What was my action in regard to that officer? What should your action be in like circumstances? Did I dismiss him ? Not on your life. If I had dismissed him it would not have brought to life those 300 men who had been killed. By concealing his blunder, and keeping him on my staff, I made him my devoted servant for life - a man who wo aid readily lie for me. If any trouble should arise in futurewith any politician, or with any Government, I can count on his influence and that of his family to keep me in my post.” He said that that was the proper attitude to adopt when any subordinate got into trouble.
Thatthis attitude is pleasing to our own general staff is illustrated by what happened, when a young staff officer under me made a great blunder, which, had I not detected it in time, would have involved my whole brigade in disaster. I requested his dismissal. That dismissal was carried out, it is true; but I found it seriously recorded against me as one reason why I should not receive promotion - that I could not agree with my staff.
I turn from Defence to the question of preferentialtrade. Despite the opposition of Senator Gardiner, I believe that preferential trade would be a good thing for the Empire. I believe also that, although we raise certain barriers against Great Britain, the additional barriers which we raise against outside countries are exceedingly valuable to, and are greatly valued by, England, and that the people of England would be very loth to see us wipe out those barriers. However, our own industries come first. I know that there is grave apprehension amongst members of the timber trade that, in our endeavour to secure preference in Canada for our fruits, our valuable timber industry - particularly in Tasmania - will be jettisoned. I hope that the Government will exercise a very wise discretion, and will deal very cautiously with this matter.
Honorable senators opposite adopt a hesitating attitude towards immigration. The way in which I look at the matter, in my purblind fashion, is that if we hadin Melbourne and Sydney cities as big as London there would be a demand for more than Australia could produce. All our surplus products at present are taken across the seas to England and other countries.
– We cannot have big cities unless we have something on which to support them.
– Surely there is as much to support cities in Australia as there is in England.
– In time there will be.
– I look forward hopefully to the time when Australia will occupy the position now occupied by the United States of America, and will. be able to provide work for a population twelve or fifteen times as great as our present population.
– How many unemployed are there in the United States of America ?
– No matter what steps are taken, there will always be unemployed. That position is due tovarious causes. The very humanitarianism of which honorable senators are so proud, tends to bring about unemployment. We nurture and rear persons who obviously are unfit from birth to battle in life’s struggle. If we could steel our hearts to take the necessary action, it would be better for those persons and for the nation if they were out of the world. Such action, of course, is opposed to our religion and our sentiments. Weak and sickly children, consumptives, and the like, are kept alive as long as possible, although they will never be able to support themselves.
– Does the honorable senator insinuate that the sickly and the consumptives are the only persons who are unemployed in America?
– Undoubtedly, at times, in America as elsewhere, there are waves of unemployment. They are due to all manner of causes, of which strikes are one of the most serious.
– At different periods of the year there is a vast army of 12,000,000 persons unemployed in America.
– It is a very difficult problem. If work were provided this year for every person in Australia, the increase in the number of people would double the quantity of labour available. So, in accordance with the doctrine of Malthus, the increase of population presses on to the verge of subsistence, and until people exercise restraint and selfcontrol in that direction, it appears to me that there will never be improvement.
– That is the doctrine of despair.
– In places such as China and India - in which persons at the earliest possible age marry and reproduce their like - there is a swarming herd of people who are raised very little above the brute, and every change of season brings disaster, misery, and suffering. Until we can insure reasonable selfcontrol and restraint in that direction, I do not see how, no matter what precautions are taken, we can have more satisfactory conditions.
– At one time in India there was sufficient wheat for two years’ consumption, yet millions of the population were starving. How does the honorable senator account for that ?
– India was paying its debts and satisfying contracts into which it had entered.
– Until I have had ample opportunity to inquire into the facts I decline to express an opinion.
Senator Guthrie was inclined to gibe at the Government for its introduction of a cheaper rate of postage. He said that the merchants of Flinders-lane would benefit to the greatest extent. Those merchants are the honorable senator’s pet aversion. I remind honorable senators that if additional burdens are placed upon industry they re-act on the working classes in unexpected directions. If by a decrease in the rate of postage the cost of living is decreased, even in a small degree, by traders being enabled to reduce their prices - and undoubtedly they will do so, because they are not blind to their own interests, but realize that bigger trade follows a lowering of prices - that will benefit the general community. When an impost is put on an article, the man who produces it and sells it adds that impost to the cost, and on that bases his percentage of interest and profit. He must do that in order to exist. So the price is increased to the consumer, not to the extent of the impost only, but by that amount, plus the profit of the -person on whom it has been placed. Reversing the process, by cutting down the impost, you bring about a reduction, not only to that extent; but to the additional extent represented by the profit of the trader on that sum.
I have on the notice paper a motion dealing with the’ meeting of the Commonwealth Parliament at Canberra. I should not have referred to this matter, but I have been given the “ tip “ that owing to the early closing down of the Parliament the motion will be stillborn. I protest against the other place allocating to itself the rights attaching to Parliament as a whole. The Senate must not be ignored, nor must the privileges of honorable senators be whittled away. I hope that other honorable senators will express their views on this matter.
– The motion passed in the other House was merely an expression of its views.
– The Minister has claimed that the passing of that motion by another place was all that was necessary to enable the Government to go straight ahead. I have looked at the Constitution Act, and authorities bearing on the matter, and I cannot find any support for the action of the Government.
– What Minister claimed that ?
– The Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Stewart).
– What he meant was that it was not necessary that the motion affirming the report of the Public Works Committee should come before the Senate. The Senate, however, has to vote the money.
– Those were the Minister’s ,words. I did not quite grasp his meaning, but he indicated that that was the last word on the subject. I am not satisfied that it is.
– The Public Works Committee Act provides that, for the adoption of the report, all that is required is the sanction of the House of Representatives.
– I have looked at , the report of the Public Works Committee. I find that a number of resolutions were moved in that Committee, all tending to show that the Committee was almost unanimously in favour of proceeding with the erection of the nucleus of the permanent House of Parliament, instead of indulging in useless expenditure by building a provisional House of Parliament. We should nob incur expenditure in the erection of temporary Houses of Parliament, which, after a few years, must be scrapped.
– The honorable senator will not live long enough to see them out of use.
– That may be so, because life at best is very uncertain.
– The temporary buildings are designed to last for fiftyyears’.
– My view is that we should start on the permanent Parliament House buildings, and carry, on as if we intended to finish them. This brings me to the question of costs. According to the estimate furnished to the Public Works Committee, the temporary1 structure will cost about £200,000, but from information which has come to my possession I am inclined to believe that the estimate will be very largely exceeded. I understand that at Canberra a fourroomed cottage for a workman, and with rooms on the small side, costs £1,500.
– Does that statement appear in the report?
– No, but information to this effect has been conveyed to the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, of which I am a member, and because of its bearing upon the con-
Istruction costs of the Parliamentary buildings, he intends to- have it investigated at the earliest possible moment.
– The cost should not be so high as that, with bricks on the spot.
– But bricks at Canberra cost a good deal more than in cities like Melbourne.
– Because there is not the same turn-over.
– The statement is not quite correct.
– Incidentally, Senator Findley referred to the question of soldier settlement, in which I take a deep interest. I have visited many of these settlements. No doubt, Senator Findley has also, and he must be aware that some of the men in one season have cleared the price of their holdings. At Warracknabeal recently, one settler assured me that he obtained his land for £6 an acre, and would not sell it for £12 today. He could secure that price in the open market. Surely this is something for which the State may claim credit. I know that on a number of settlements the soldiers are delighted at having had the opportunity of their lives under the Repatriation Act.
– Senator Guthrie said the other day that the price for land for soldier settlement in Victoria was £3 10s. per acre.
– As the honorable senator must know, land values vary according to districts. The land at Warracknabeal cost the soldier settlers £6 per acre, and to-day it is valued at £12 per acre. Further up in the Mallee, where there are no water channels, scrub land quite as good as that at Warracknabeal has been made available to soldier settlers at 10s. per acre, and they are quite satisfied. With water channels made available, it will ultimately approximate in value the Warracknabeal land.
I shall close my remarks by passing reference to the question of health. There has been much criticism at times of what has been described as the Commonwealth interference in health matters which hitherto have been considered peculiarly a State concern. Very good work has, however, been done up to the present. The Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, which are a branch of the Commonwealth Department of Health, were established in 1918 in response to representations made from various influential sources to the effect that it was of the greatest importance that Australia should be selfcontained in respect of remedies of bacterial or biological nature for human use. I understand that members of the medical profession made strong representations to the Government on this subject, and that the Commonwealth Serum. Laboratories were established in response to their request. Commencing in a small way the laboratories have, in response to external demand, increased rapidly, until now they supply a large proportion of the total requirements in this direction “ in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and New Guinea, and also find a small market in both Asia and Africa. So successful have they proved, that well-known manufacturing firms in England and America are beginning to get anxious, and to clamour for their suppression. This is too grave a matter to permit of interference by private commercial interests to the detriment of the public weal.
– The laboratories are also showing a profit.
– I did not inquire as to the profits. I shall be content if they prove an effective safeguard of the public health. The laboratories produce the whole range of sera and vaccine, and extracts of body glands which are used in human medicine, and are now producing the preparation on a commercial” scale of similar products used . in veterinary medicine. The quality of the remedies produced is equal to that obtained in any laboratories of the kind in the world, and has been commended warmly by a wide circle of doctors throughout the Commonwealth and abroad. I believe that in the working of the laboratories no loss is involved. They were established not for the purpose of returning a profit, but solely for the benefit of the people of Australia. Such an institution is of the utmost national importance, forming, as it does, an. assurance against any epidemic which may occur, and against the possibility of Australia being isolated by war from other sources of supply. It is most important that we should not be left, as in 1914 we were threatened to be left, without a supply of these valuable sera. The satisfactory result recorded has been achieved by a staff composed entirely of public servants, the importation of “business experts” not having been found to be necessary. The importance, as an instrument for the protection of the public health, of this establishment, and of the branch laboratories which are being established in the important country centres throughout Australia, has been proved in a number of ways during the last three years. An important campaign against diphtheria has been completed at Bendigo, with the result of markedly reducing the extent of diphtheria in that city. An investigation is now proceeding into the epidemic occurrence of typhoid fever, and a programme of scientific research has been outlined for the forthcoming year which will prove of the greatest value in connexion with the work of the other branches of the Department in preventing disease throughout the Commonwealth. At the laboratories it has been possible, by careful foresight, to build up a reserve of products amounting to approximately eighteen months’ supply, so that any emergency is well provided for. With regard to this particular group of medicinal remedies, any variation of quality is of the utmost importance in the treatment of the sick, and a patient’s life may dep.end on the remedy being of the quality and potency stated on the label. Moreover, as these remedies are of so great importance in the prevention and treatment of disease, they should be as little the subject of commercial profit as possible, and should be closely under national control. It is considered important, therefore, that the preparation and sale of these productsshould not be left to private enterprise, but should be closely under governmental control, should be of guaranteed purity, and should not be the subject of financial profit by any private individuals.
I thank honorable senators for their patient hearing. I can only say, referring to the measures that have been introduced by the Government, that the Bankruptcy Bill is of very great importance to the commercial community of Australia, and I trust it will receive serious and favorable consideration.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I realize that at this stage of the debate it is scarcely possible for an honorable senator to say anything that might be regarded as original in connexion with it, but I desire to make a few remarks concerning the manner in which the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) has placed his Estimates before the Parliament. I have never before known a Treasurer to take credit for remission of taxation made in a previous year. Yet in this Budget, the Treasurer has helped himself very lavishly to the good work done by his predecessor. And strange to say, I have never known the press to be so generous as they are to the present Treasurer in claiming for him credit for having effected reductions in taxation, with which, as a matter of fact, he has had nothing whatever to do. I am not going into details, but I feel that I should fail in my duty if I did not call attention to this matter, and say that the credit for a reduction of taxation by nearly £3,500,000 very largely belongs to the ex-Treasurer. Not satisfied with claiming credit for this remission of taxation, the Treasurer has gone on to speak of other prospective reductions. He has taken credit to himself for a remission of duties on wire netting, traction engines and other agricultural requisites which was agreed to last year. He also claims credit for the proposed reduction in the letter postage rate. I hope that Parliament will have the right to say whether or not this reduction shall be approved. I agree in the main with what Senator Guthrie said the other day. This reduction in the postage rate will not prove a substantial benefit to a large section of the community. Many people in the rural districts are content to write, on the average, one or two letters a week, whereas some big business firms probably post thousands, and perhaps hundreds of thousands, of letters every year. This concession, therefore, will benefit them rather than the general community. Under the’ altered financial arrangements, the Post and Telegraph Department will have to provide interest on large sums of borrowed money, and as the postal and telephonic facilities in the country need considerable extension, all the revenue at present available will be required. It would, therefore, appear that in their endeavour to remit taxation, the Government should have sought some other means than that of reducing the postal rate on letters. Personally I am against the proposal.
– I call attention to the absence of a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– Certain metropolitan newspapers appear to be so favorably disposed towards the present Treasurer that they have seriously taken to task certain honorable senators and members of another place, who have dared to criticise the Budget. It is deplorable if representatives qf the people cannot criticise the actions of the Government in a fair and legitimate way without being condemned by the press. If we remain silent we are condemned, and if we question the proposals of the Government we are also wrong. Personally, I am quite indifferent as to whether or not the representatives of the press take any notice of what I say; I shall not be deprived of my right to express my opinions. It would be unfortunate, indeed, if the rights of the representatives of the people in the national Parliament, irrespective of the parties to which they belong, were, in any way, interfered with.
It is proposed to remit duty on sulphur to the extent of £80,000. During the war period considerable inducement? were held out ‘to certain companies to establish or extend sulphur-producing plants in Australia, and approximately £2,000,000 was expended at Broken Hill, Port Pirie, Wallaroo, and in Tas mania, on the distinct promise of the Government that a protective duty on sulphur would be imposed. The’ word of the Government was accepted and, under great difficulties, plants were erected or improved; but now, just when the works are nearing completion, and those requiring this product will be able to derive a considerable amount of benefit from their establishment, it is proposed to break faith with the manufacturers. I am rather in favour of the payment of bounties, on a sliding scale, to encourage industries so that, at the end of a specified period, assistance would be unnecessary. Bonuses were not mentioned when the establishment or extension of these industries was commenced, and it is difficult to understand why the Government ‘have broken their promise in this respect. If the present policy continues in operation, companies which undertake to erect expensive works will not accept the word of a Government. Prominent men, engaged in important industries, have informed me that they are afraid to accept the word of the Government, because before the works are completed the promised protection may be withdrawn. They are not . willing to undertake work . under these conditions and the Government should give a definite guarantee to those investing large sums in this and other industries, that the duties imposed will remain in force. Senator Elliott said that, if the duty was removed, the users of sulphur would derive benefit equal to 5s. per ton on superphosphate, but I do not think the sulphuric acid contents of that commodity would represent such a difference in price.
– Should not the burden fall on the whole community, instead of a particular section?
– I am not dealing with that point; I am blaming the Government for dishonouring their promise. I have been informed by those engaged in the business that the removal of- the duty will not make the difference in price claimed. When the matter comes before the Senate this aspect of the question must be very carefully considered.
– Is the duty to be removed or suspended ‘/
– The Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), in his Budget speech, indicated that the Government intended to provide for a remission of duty amounting to £80,000, and a payment of £70,000 in the form of bonuses. The Government appear to waver as soon as pressure is brought to bear upon them, and, instead of defending their . actions, quiver before every wind that blows.
– The honorable senator cannot expect the duties imposed to remain unaltered.
– The Tariff is of comparatively recent origin, but there have been more amended duties within the last two years than during any similar period.
– That shows that the action of some of us in opposition to high duties was justified.
– I am not dealing with the justice or otherwise of the duties imposed. I represent large farming communities, and am prepared to justify to my constituents my action in opposing the proposal.
Two years ago it was proposed to spend over a period of three years £9,000,000 in extending postal facilities, but I am somewhat at a loss to understand exactly what has been done. In the cities, new post-offices have been erected, and telephonic installations carried out; but I believe the Government are a long way behind in their programme. We were told that wireless installations would be undertaken, to enable the man out back to he brought into closer contact with civilization, and that the necessary instruments would be provided, but apparently nothing has been done. The people living in the more remote parts of the Commonwealth are not receiving the benefits to which they are entitled. I trust that the question of additional facilities for rural settlers will be given closer attention, even at the expense of those residing in the city and the metropolitan areas, who, although they experience inconvenience, are in a much better position than are those in the outback districts.
I am sure we are all delighted to learn that the Government, intend to increase the invalid and old-age pensions. Although the additional amount to be granted is not as large as many desire, it will at least afford some relief. In the Bill that is to be submitted I trust that provision will be made for removing anomalies which now exist. The Treasurer said that “ invalid and oldage pensions were a very heavy burden upon the taxpayers.” That was a very unfortunate expression to use. I refuse to believe that the taxpayers look upon such pensions as a burden. I am in favour of the imposition of a tax for this specific purpose. If that were done a taxpayer would know that he was paying so much a year for invalid and old-age pensions. I am sure that the taxpayers of Australia, however much they may grumble at general taxation for Government purposes, would not complain if they had to pay directly for invalid and old-age pensions. I should like the Government to consider that proposal. There are certain anomalies in connexion with the payment of invalid and old-age pensions which I should like to see removed when the proposed Bill is brought down. There is far too much “ red-tape “ connected with applications for an old-age pension. While I have been a member of this Senate I have had to deal with a number of such applications. A form has to be filled in, with the statement of particulars in proper order. After the applicant has sent in the form, the next thing that happens is that a policeman calls at his residence, and subjects him toa cross-examination. He has already sworn that the statements in the application are true. After that he has to go to the Pensions Office, where he is again put under a very strict cross-examination, usually by a magistrate. These magistrates are often not very sympathetic. Many of our old-age and invalid pensioners have previously occupied good positions, and they feel very keenly the indignity of the cross-examination. They should be treated more sympathetically. I do not think that would open the door any wider to fraud, but it would make it very much easier for old people to secure a pension. In South Australia we have the Minda Home for Weakminded Children, and I suppose there are similar institutions in other States. This institution takes in weak-minded children practically from their birth, and some of its inmates are over sixty years of age, and have been there for many years. No pension is allowed to the institution for the maintenance of an inmate until that inmate has reached sixteen years of age, and unless the inmate applies for a pension before entering the institution, one is not afterwards granted. If he goes out of the institution in order to secure a pension, the Department makes elaborate investigations to prevent the pension being paid when he goes back. I hope it will be made possible for inmates of this and similar institution’s to get a pension. The State Government subsidizes that institution, and the public of South Australia con tribute liberally to its support. I have further details which I shall place be fore the Senate when the Bill is under consideration.
There is at the present time a .great shortage of timber in South Australia because the ships which usually trade between Bunbury and South Australian ports have ceased running. The coal strike in New South Wales has stopped the colliers which ‘ ordinarily go to Western Australia. Ships are now bun.kering with Collie coal, to the benefit of Western Australia. It /is an ill wind that blows nobody good, but while those engaged in the coal industry of Western Australia are benefiting, South Australian builders and others are suffering because they cannot obtain timber. Large quantities of hardwood are required in South Australia. A deputation last week asked the South Australian members of Parliament to do what they could to induce the Government to supply a few cargoes of timber from Western Australia. The Western Australian mills are almost blocked up with timber ready for removal, while building operations in South Australia are hampered for the want of it.
There is a proposal to destroy - I can use no other word - the very beautiful lounge cars on the East-West Railway line. In reply to a question by Senator Grant, the Minister admitted to-day that these carriages were to be desecrated with advertisements. The Commonwealth Railways Department proposes to make them look like tram cars. My views have been put in a nutshell by Messrs. Felton, Grimwade, and Company, of Melbourne, who wrote a letter recently to the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner, in reply to circulars inviting them to advertise in the trains. That letter stated -
We <are in receipt of your circular letter of the 6th inst., which submits the TransAustralian train as an advertising medium. While declining to be parties towards desecrating the beautiful lounge car of this train with a pictorial advertisement, we wish to state how surprised we are, and how much we regret the decision of your Department, to reduce the dignity of this notable train to the level of a suburban tramcar - and for what gain ? Practically nothing !
That expresses my views as effectively as it is possible to express them. It has been estimated- that by this means the revenue will benefit to the extent of between £300 and £400 a year.
– Less than is obtained from advertisements in the. tramcars in Sydney.
– Yes. This sort of thing is expected in tramcars, but not in a train such as that which runs on the Trans-Australian railway. It is stated in the Treasurer’s Budget speech that £385,990 will be spent on the Commonwealth railways this year, including £100,000 for new rolling-stock, &c, on the East-West line. It is proposed to spend other amounts on residential accommodation. I should like to know whether that accommodation will be provided at the rail-head at ‘ Port Augusta - not that it is not required there - or for the men who live along the line. I have travelled over that line many times, and on every occasion I have felt ashamed of the residences provided for the workmen. It is a disgrace to the Commonwealth Government that wood and canvas humpies should be used so long for the accommodation of our railway employees on the East- West railway. I can understand that in the early days, before the locality of crossingplaces had been fixed, the men had to live in temporary residences. The railway, however, has now progressed beyond that stage. The position of the residences has been determined, and the men should be provided with reasonable, homes.
– The honorable senator is referring to a legacy left by the South Australian Government.
– The State Government had nothing to do with the railway to which I am referring. I am speaking of the railway between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie. The men on the Oodnadatta line are well housed. On that line there are stone station buildings and stone residences. The State Department never treated its employees as the Commonwealth has done. # It is intended to spend £218,000 ‘ for rollingstock for the Oodnadatta line, and it is stated that the Commonwealth intends very shortly to take over the working of the line from Quorn to Oodnadatta. I advise the Government to be very careful in that regard. In normal times there is not much traffic on that railway, but during the stock season, when there are large numbers of cattle and sheep transported, railway men are transferred from different parts of the South Australian railway. They remain on the line for two or three months in the year. Not only men, but rollingstock and engines, are transferred from Adelaide, Quorn, Peterborough, and Port Augusta. The Commonwealth Railway Department would be well advised not to spend money in purchasing rolling-stock to meet that rush of traffic for only a few months in the year, at least until the railway has been extended through to Port Darwin. I understand that the working of the railway is not satisfactory to the Government. Neither is it satisfactory to the people of South Australia, but better arrangements could surely be made. If sufficient rollingstock were provided to meet all requirements, most of it would be lying idle for nine months out of every twelve. I believe that the railway officers will not attempt to justify such an expenditure after they have considered it carefully.
– The money earned by the rolling-stock would not pay the interest on the cost of constructing it.
– I do not think it would.
-Was there not some suggestion of doing the journey faster ?
– The Railway Commissioner has decided that the journey from Oodnadatta to Adelaide shall be done in thirty-six hours, which is half the time taken now. I believe that time could be cut down still further.
In the Treasurer’s Budget speech we have the statement that -
To develop the Northern Territory it is essential that means of communication and transport shall be provided, including shipping, railway, telegraph, and road communication. These facilities must be provided in the Territory if development is to proceed.
A Bill was recently passed, providing for an extension of the railway in the Territory a few miles further south. I hope that that does not cover the whole of the intentions of the Government in regard to providing for the development of the Territory. This area is the particular charge of the Commonwealth Government, since the people there have no local Parliament to look after their interests. The members of the Public Works Committee who recently visited the Territory made certain recom mendations upon the evidence submitted to them. I emphasize the point that those recommendations did not represent the individual opinions of the Committee. It will be an unfortunate day when members of Committees express their own biased views. If that time ever comes I shall be opposed to intrusting such work to Parliamentary Committees; but I am satisfied that Parliamentary Royal Commissions and Committees are still anxious to do in an honest way the work intrusted to them by the Legislature, and to report according to the weight of the evidence presented to them. I was greatly annoyed by the attempt made in this Chamber on Friday afternoon by Senator Foll, who was one of my companions on the Committee that visited the Territory, to abuse honorable senators from South Australia-, and to traduce South Australia as well.
– The honorable senator has a vivid imagination.
– If anybody had a right to find fault with the work or personnel of that Committee, I surely had. When it was decided that the Committee should proceed to the Territory, I found that the then Minister for Works and Railways, the Railways Commissioner, the Chief Engineer of Railways, the Railway Superintendent at Port Darwin, and the Administrator in the Northern Territory, as well as three members of the Committee, came from Queensland. It is a wonder that I, the one poor South Australian, was able to secure any consideration at all for my State. The remarks made by Senator Foll will not read well in Hansard in South Australia. In speaking on the Budget, I read portion of a report respecting the North-South railway, furnished to his Minister by the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner, Mr. Bell, as long ago as 1920, and any one reading the report of the Chief Engineer, Mr. Hobler, will see at once where his sympathies lie. Mr. Hobler used every influence he could to divert the railway to Queensland, and then through the district between Birdsville and Marree, where Senator Foll has said scores of times he would never agree to the construction of a line. If there were a proposal before Parliament to-morrow to build a railway from Birdsville to Marree, I am satisfied that Senator Foll would vote against it. I have before me the whole of the evidence from Queensland, and practically every witness admitted that if the line were taken to Camooweal’, it would indefinitely delay the construction of the direct North-South line. They further stated that a line through Queensland, whether taken to Birdsville or Bourke, would never, develop the Northern Territory. Of course it never would, because the suggested line to Camooweal would pass over a portion of the country that Senator Foll has never seen. The honorable senator remarked that South Australia was a spoon-fed State. I do not know what has gone wrong with him.
– We are handfeeding Queensland all the time.
– Exactly . Senator Foll told us that the East-West railway was built for the benefit of South Australia.. I contend that it was constructed at the request of the people of Western Australia, and I do not know that my State derives much benefit from it. The construction of that line has made it possible for people to travel from Western Australia to the eastern States in something like a reasonable time; but South Australia does not derive anything like as much benefit from it as does Western Australia. Senator Foll also said that South Australia was being spoonfed because Government money was being spent along the River Murray. Is not Senator Foll aware of the fact that tho Murray Waters Agreement was made between the Commonwealth and the States of Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia, and that each of those States is paying its share towards the cost of the work?
– And doing good work, too.
– Yes. Queenslanders, as well as settlers in Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia, will be able to obtain land on the Murray. Here, again, the charge that South Australia is being spoon-fed falls to the ground. I have no recollection of South Australia ever asking for a penny in the way of special consideration.
– The honorable senator is a joke
– I do not accept Senator Foil’s remarks of Friday last as a . joke, and that is why I am now replying to them. Let me show how Queensland has been spoon-fed in the past. Senator Foll said it was like our audacity to ask, not that South Australia should be benefited, but that those settlers under whose roof Senator Foll slept, and at whose table he sat, should receive some consideration. - I have said again and again that I am not specially thinking of any benefit South Australia may get from the building of the North-South railway, but I am concerned about the honouring of the pledge given to South Australia twelve or fifteen years ago that this railway would be constructed.
Not long after I returned from the Northern Territory the Queensland sugar agreement came up for discussion. I proceeded to the Northern State, and saw the pioneers working like galley slaves in the forests clearing land for the cultivation of the sugar cane. I formed the opinion that the workers in Queensland deserved the best consideration that Australia could show them, and, although it was a very unpopular attitude to adopt in my own State, I advocated the renewal of the sugar agreement. Queensland has not obtained a renewal of that agreement, but whenever the opportunity offers I am prepared to give my vote to help the hardy pioneers in the sugar industry, and thereby assist iu the “ spoon-feeding “ of Queensland. Not long ago honorable senators were discussing the granting of a bounty on beef for export. Every man, woman, and child in Australia who eats beef will now have to pay more for it than they would have paid if that bounty - designed largely to assist the cattlemen of Queensland - had not been granted, thereby still further “spoon-feeding” that State.
– Recollect that Queensland is feeding the whole of the rest of Australia._
– I recollect nothing of the sort. That is .as reckless a statement as was made by the honorable senator last Friday evening. When Parliament was asked to place a duty on bananas I very foolishly, it now appears, agreed to a little moTe spoon-feeding of Queensland at the expense of the people of Australia. Queensland now is asking for a duty on maize, and if it is imposed, die people in South Australia who purchase this commodity, will be called upon to pay more for it. All their lives the people of Australia are being specially taxed for the purpose of spoon-feeding Queensland, which is described constantly as a wealthy State. I dislike drawing comparisons between the different States, but I consider I should be lacking in my duty as a representative of South Australia if I allowed Senator Foll’s remarks to go unchallenged. Queensland has become great and wealthy, just as a mendicant amasses wealth, by passing round the hat among the people. Yet an honorable senator from Queensland has the temerity to accuse South Australia of adopting the attitude of a mendicant and asking for special concessions from the Commonwealth Government. I hope that we shall hear no more regarding the claims of individual States. It matters not in which State money is spent; I am satisfied if the expenditure is in the interests of the Commonwealth. I have no objection to Queensland securing as much protection as it possibly can for its industries, but I do find fault when accusations are made such as were made the other day against the State which I represent, and against me as a representative of that State. As one of the representatives of South Australia, it is my duty to defend it. I am just as proud of that State as SenatorFoll is of Queensland. There were quite a number of other matters to which I intended to refer, but I think I have said sufficient to put myself and the State I represent right in the eyes of those who read Hansard, and who are sufficiently interested in our discussions to compare the statements of one honorable senator with those of another.
Debate (on motion by Senator Lynch) adjourned.
– As I understand that a number of honorable senators wish to attend the function that is to be held at Government House to-night, and in view of the state of the business-paper, I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 6.22 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 August 1923, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1923/19230814_senate_9_105/>.