9th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Eon. 1. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m. and read prayers.
– I direct the attention of the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) to a statement’ reported to have been made at the Commercial Travellers’ Club on Saturday last by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr, Austin Chapman) that there were . too many Governors ‘ and too many State Parliaments’ in Australia.
– Thehonorable senator is not in order in referring ‘to a statement made elsewhere by a Minister that would not be in order if made in this Chamber by an honorable senator.
– I shall put my question in another way. Do the members of the Ministry share the opinion expressed by the Minister for Trade and Customs that there are too many Governors and too many State Parliaments, and that one Parliament is sufficient for Australia? Are we to understand that this Government believes in a policy of unification, and thinks that State Parliaments and State Governors should be abolished ?
– That is not the policy ofthe Government. I am not aware of the . personal views of individual members of the Ministry.
– Will the Leader of the Senate inquire into the correctness or otherwise of a statement which appeared in a Melbourne daily newspaper yesterday, under the heading of “ Sydney News,” to the effect that the disapproval of the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Pratten) of the loan policy of the Government was having a far-reaching effect throughout the length and breadth of New South Wales?
– Unfortunately for Ministers, they have neither the time nor the inclination to follow up the farfetched tales with which the honorable senator regales the Senate from time to time.
– Is it not the duty of a responsible Minister toascertain the truth or otherwise of a statement which is said to be having a farreaching effect on the conversion loan?
– Questions should be asked for the purpose of eliciting information, and should not contain statements or arguments.
– I claim that I am not arguing.
– The honorable senator has been quoting statements. He may not argue with me. He must obey the Chair.
– Will the Minister take an early opportunity of ascertaining whether or not the statement contained in the report to which I have referred is correct?
Agreement with Government.
– Has the Minister representing the Postmaster-General yet obtained a reply to the question I asked some time ago concerning the agreement between the Government and the Eastern Extension Cable Company relating to the reduction of cable rates?
– The reply is in the nature of a return which I now lay upon the table of the Senate.
Phosphate Rock : S.S. “ Nauru Chief
– Has the Minister yet received a reply to a question I asked a few days ago with reference to the phosphate rock shipped from Nauru and Ocean Islands?
– Yes. On the 17th August, Senator Gardiner asked me the following questions: -
The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
– Has the Government yet appointed a Royal Commission to inquire intoa certain contract in connexion with, War Service Homes, and, if not, what is the reason for the delay?
– The answer to the first part of the question is, No. As to the latter portion, the matter is being expedited as much as possible.
Senator LYNCH brought up the report of the Standing Committee on Public Works on the proposed provision of telephone workshops, with accessory services at Spencer-street, Melbourne.
– (By leave).In the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday last, there appeared a paragraph concerning which I desire to make a personal explanation. The paragraph states -
An arrangementhas been reached with the Reader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Gardiner), as a result of which all the matters to be considered by the Senate will be disposed of before the end of the week. It has been suggested that the Senate should continue its sittings the following week, but this is not possible unless the members of the House of Representatives remain at hand to record their approval of any amendments made in the Bills by that Chamber. The business of the Senate, consequently, will end on Friday or Saturday.
Senator Pearce has made no request to me in regard to finishing the business of the session. There has been no conference between us, and no arrangement has been made.
– That is quite correct.
– If the Government proceed in the same reasonable manner as heretofore, I have no doubt that we shall conclude the business before next Christmas.
– The statement to which the honorable senator has referred was not authorized by me.
Effect of Navigation Act
– In view of the fact that a followerof the Government in the Senate has made a wholly incorrect statement to a Sydney newspaper, referring to a Vote of this party on Senator Ogden’s motion with respect to the effect of the Navigation Act on Tasmania, and that the newspaper in question has refused to publish a denial by my leader, Senator Gardiner, will the Leader of the Government in the Senate give honorable senators on this side an opportunity of recording a vote on that motion before the Senate rises ?
– If there should be an interval in the Government business coming before the Senate sufficient to enable private members’ business to be dealt with, I shall be only too glad to give honorable senators an opportunity to avail themselves of it.
Tie following papers were presented : -
Cable Traffic to Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom - Particulars re rates and other charges.
Australian Imperial Force Canteens Funds Act - Statement of Income and Expenditure to 30th June, 1923, together with Auditor-General’s report.
Papua Act - Infirm and Destitute Natives Account - Statement of the transactions of the Trustees, 1922-23.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Statement by Minister for Defence.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minis ter representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Can the Minister give the Senate any definite information as to when the new postal rates will come into operation, if passed by Parliament ?
– Not at present.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
Will he lay on the table of the Senate a copy of the letter the late Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes) sent to theHonorable S. Sastri with reference to his mission here on behalf of the Indian residents within the Commonwealth?
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Is it true that stoppages at certain meat works in Queensland are due to scarcity of stock suitable for the export trade?
– The answers are -
– Notice of Motion No. 1. Is that formal or not formal?
– Not formal.
Motion (by Senator Crawford) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– No, the honorable senator’s objection was to Notice of Motion No. 1, which relates to the suspension of standing order No. 68.
Question - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from House of Represen tatives.
Standing Orders suspended, and Bill (on motion by Senator Pearce) read a first time.
Bill received from House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and Bill (on motion by Senator Pearce) read a first time.
.- I move-
That standing order No. 68 be suspended up to and including the 31st August, 1923, for the purpose of enabling new business to be commenced after half-past 10 o’clock at night.
– I have no objection to the course proposed to be adopted; but in view of the desire of the Government to bring new business before the Senate after half -past 10 o’clock at night, I do not think the motion is sufficiently comprehensive. We should follow the example set by the primary producers, who always commence work early, and should meet for at least, one week, earlier in the morning. Honorable senators naturally wish to express their opinions on the various measures to be brought before the Senate, and business could be more expeditiously dealt with if we met at 9 o’clock or 10 o’clock in the morning.
– The motion has nothing to do with the hour of meeting. It relates to the suspension of standing order No. 68, which prevents the introduction of new business after 10.30 at night.
– The intention of the Government is to place new business on the notice-paper, and if such business is to be satisfactorily dealt with we should meet earlier than at present.I haveno objection to meetingearlier in the morning, but I have no desire to sit late into the night.
– I disagree entirely with the suggestion of meeting earlier in the morning. I have perused the noticepaper of both Houses, and find that there are nine measures listed for discussion in the Senate, and twenty-six in another place, making thirty-five. I cannot understand how the Government expect these measures and the new business it is now proposed to introduce after 10.30 at night to be properly debated, although I came to Melbourne this week prepared to sit until this day week without leaving the premises. The Senate cannot maintain its rights and dignity if legislation be passed at the speed anticipated by Ministers. If the Government desire to pass all the Bills now before both Houses it will necessitate, not only sitting early in the morning, but throughout the day and night for the remainder of the week. Constitutionally, and in the opinion of the people, the Senate is a chamber of review, and as a representative of over 300,000 people in New South Wales, I do not intend to surrender my rights. I realize that the Government must bring in business at any hour desired, and I presume we shall * be asked to sit throughout the day and night on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I trust that no religious scruples on the part of members of the Government will interfere with a Sunday session, seeing that decent procedure has already been disregarded. I shall not attempt to discuss the numerous measures listed; but if the Government will select two or three of the most important which they wish to pass, and permit honorable senators to debate them fully, the session can be terminated on Friday. The Government are mistaken if they think a lengthy programme can be forced through Parliament merely because honorable senators are exhausted. In considering my own personal interests I have already met the Government whereever possible, and I am prepared to do what I cao to assist, but there is a limit beyond which we must not go. Before my reinforcements appeared I notified the Leader of the Government in the Senate that the practice of suspending the Standing Orders would not be tolerated. We are now almost at the end of the session, and there are hundreds of items in the schedule of the Appropriation Bill which honorable senators wish to discuss in the interests of their constituents, and a Bill of such importance cannot be passed within a few hours. The Government should pass the Loan Bill and the Appropriation Bill and then go into recess for either a brief or lengthy period, whichever they desire. But if these additional Bills are to be dealt with, Parliament should remain in session for another three months, even if the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) is going to Great Britain. I do not know why the Government should have brought forward such a number of measures unless they are employing what has been termed “ French diplomacy,” and submitting, say,, twenty-five proposals - twenty-four of which are to be sacrificed - in order to obtain the passing of the one they really want. No one will be more concerned than I shall be if the Government endeavour to force this programme through the Senate. I believe they intend to try to do so. I do not wish it to be a test of ‘strength, but if my strength were what it was ten years ago, I should give the Government all it wanted. I appeal to honorable senators opposite to endeavour to impress upon the Government the necessity of dealing -with only a few important measures, and to see if some compromise cannot be made to enable the dignity of the Senate to be preserved. The abolition of the Senate is a plank in the Labour party’s platform. Nothing would provide a better argument for those who wish to abolish this Senate than for it to take new business after 10.30 at night, and to rush thirty-five Bills through in thirty-five hours. I appeal seriously to Government supporters to take a just and reasonable view. It is not fair, just, or decent to ask honorable senators to sit unreasonable hours. I frequently look at the vacant seats, formerly occupied by honorable senators, and members of another place, who have passed away, and I cannot’ refrain from the thought that all-night sittings have been responsible for many early deaths. I appeal to the Government and its supporters
– Why does not the honorable senator appeal to his own supporters to allow ‘business to go through in a reasonable time? ‘ “
– I will appeal to my own supporters to discuss the business of the country as if time were of no consequence. Their duty to their constituents is the first call upon them. I shall tell them that every measure placed before this Senate should be discussed as if the Prime Minister were not going to England, and that every figure in the Estimates must be tested, and every line of every Bill discussed to the fullest possible extent. That is what we were sent here for. My appeal to the Government is for a reasonable programme. I assume, from the Minister’s interjection, that he desires to place the onus for long sittings upon members of this side. If the Government attempts to pass legislation by wearing us out physically, I shall pursue the even tenor of my way, discussing measures with that moderation which I have shown for the last six weeks. I shall act as if there was no hurry for an adjournment..
– Does the honorable senator not think that more Bills might have been dealt with during the last eight weeks? N
– I do not think that Senator Lynch can point to any Bill which has been unnecessarily delayed in this Senate.
– The honorable senator is quite right there. Time has not been wasted in the Senate.
– I am placing my view before the Senate so that the Government will not be able to misconstrue my actions. I envy any honorable member who thinks that the Senate within the time proposed by the Government , can pass all the measures to be placed .before it, and do justice to the country and to itself. I, for my part, cannot bring myself to believe that it is permissible to let any Bill go through without, at any rate, investigating it. It is our duty to know something of every Bill, and everything of some Bills. The fact that the Government has made arrangements for two of its members to take a trip abroad is no justification for rushing through six months’ legislation in six weeks. The Government is not wise in piling up the business as it has done. ‘
– The trouble is ‘that so little has been done up to the present.
– My idea of Parliament is that it is the place where men come to talk. The word “Parliament” signifies that it is a place where men “parley” and reason on the measures placed before them. The real function of Parliament is to keep in office the best set of men for administering the affairs of this country. I do not think the present Government is equal to a second, or even a third, grade eleven. That is a matter, however, upon which criticism from me would be uncalled for, because, naturally, my position requires me to criticize the Government whenever an opportunity occurs. A majority of members of the Senate, and of another place, say that the present Government is the best Government. In view of that I say, “ Take new business at any time you wish. Even if your supporters are wilLing to forego every right they have, that is no reason for asking me to refrain from doing everything I am sent here to do.’’ I am sent here to discuss legislation, and that discussion shall take place.
– Let us get on with it.
– I am getting on with it now. I am supporting the Minister in his desire to get on with business after half-past ten o’clock at night. When the Works Estimates were before us I spoke for only twenty minutes.
– I think the honorable senator is anticipating too much. The Senate will not rise for two or three weeks yet.
– I anticipate that the Senate will rise on Friday, and in consequence of that I am asking the Government to reduce its programme so that honorable senators may be able to discharge their duties reasonably. I ask the Government not to hold this Senate up as a laughing stock to be ridiculed by the community, and not to make the lives of honorable senators unbearable by requiring them to sit for periods which would break down the strongest men. I warn new senators to accept my experience, which has been gathered during many years, that all-night sittings will break through the stoutest armour. I have never taken up more than a fair share of the time of the Senate. It falls to my lot to speak first from this side of the Senate on all Bills, but no one would be more happy than I if that obligation were spread over all honorable senators. On occasions I have refrained from speaking in order to permit other honorable senators to do so. For the past ten weeks I have endeavoured to be, from the Government’s point of view, a model Opposition leader. I have endeavoured to meet their every wish. I certainly believe that there are no parties in this Senate, although it is difficult to get away from the dividing line among the electors.
– We are a united brotherhood.
– I accept Senator Findley’s view that we are a united brotherhood, with one aim and one aspiration, which is to do whatever we can for the good - honorable senators will notice that I did not say the “ goods “ - of the country. I make my request to .the Government, not as one who hopes to gain any personal or party advantage, but as one who desires to see the right thing done. I ask the Minister to make an open, manly, and business-like statement, setting out that the Government will proceed with a fair, just, and moderate business programme, so that all parties may co-operate without prolonging unnecessarily the length of our sittings.
– I intend to vote against the motion. Last Friday afternoon Senator Pearce paid a tribute to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) for his generous treatment of the Government during this session. This morning he has thrown down a challenge by asking the Leader of the Opposition to appeal to honorable senators on this side to assist the Government in passing legislation. I shall give every assistance possible to the Government to enable Parliament to rise this week; but I do not think that the Senate can deal this week with all the legislation that is on- the business-paper, to say nothing of the business still to come from another place. For that reason, I object to the taking of new business after half -past ten o’clock at night. It is now only the 22nc August, which is a long way from the 25th of December. Many of the measures on the Government’s programme would take a considerable time to discuss intelligently. Senator Lynch has said that, the Senate might have done more work. The work done up to the present has been garbled. The Government has attempted to pass legislation just as sausages are turned out of a machine. It is famed for its use of the “gag and the guillotine.”
– Order! The honorable senator may not say that.
– I have said it, and 1 repeat it.
– Order ! I now direct the honorable senator to withdraw the remark. No reference may be made in the Senate to the debates or the proceedings of the current session in another House. The honorable senator has distinctly done so, and I now direct him to withdraw it.
– I did not mention the other House.
– The honorable senator must know quite well that when he said that measures were rushed through by the use of the “ guillotine,” he was alluding to proceedings in another place, because the “guillotine” is not applicable in the Senate. The honorable senator must withdraw the statement unconditionally.
– I have no desire to come into conflict with your ruling, Mr. President, but I do not yet think that you are a thought reader.
– The honorable senator must obey my ruling.
– Of course, I withdraw the remark. There was a “ guillotine “ in Prance, and there is a “ SaS “ an(i also a “ guillotine “ in Australia. Perhaps I shall be permitted to say that we have heard something about the “ gag “ and the “ guillotine” during the last eight or nine weeks. I have seen references to it in the press. Reading the pages of Hansard one notes that reference is made to the “ gag” and the “ guillotine.”
– Order ! The honorable senator must know that the proceedings of another place cannot be debated. That is a good and a salutary rule, because it prevents bickering, differences, and unseemly squabbles between the two Houses. I ask him not to allude any further to that matter.
– I have no desireto continue in that strain. We are sent here, as representatives of the people, to discuss intelligently the legislation that isbrought before us. Neither honorablesenators nor the members of another placeare being given the chance to discuss theprogramme which the Government has= submitted, and which it intends to putthrough by the end of this week. Honorable senators are being asked to deal with a proposed expenditure of over £60,000,000. Neither you, Mr. President, nor any other honorable senator can give intelligent consideration to all of the proposed votes between now and .31st August next. I can scarcely imagine the most diligent, the most industrious honorable senator, being able to give proper consideration to the whole of the items that appear in the Estimates, in the time that is placed at his disposal.
– If any individual Minister had £63,000,000 to distribute, for what length of time would he consider the matter?
– That is a very pertinent question. A Government member, a little while ago, said that t only business men, should be in Parliament. This is supposed to be a business Government. I know that it is controlled by outside business men. If any individual Minister were faced with the duty of determining the manner in which £1,000,000 should be expended in his business, he would take a much greater length of time than is being allowed to the members of this Parliament to deal with the expenditure of £63,000,000. I ask honorable senators opposite to remember the words used by Senator Pearce last Friday, when he said that honorable senators on this side had been generous in their treatment of the Government. We have no desire to be other than generous, but we believe in the principle of reciprocity. Senator Wilson and the Prime Minister will shortly be leaving us. I shall be sorry to lose the company of my genial friend, Senator Wilson. At the Imperial Conference those gentlemen will deal with the question of trade reciprocity. If he believes in the principle, why does the honorable senator not extend reciprocity to honorable senators on this side! When we treat the Government generously the Government should reciprocate, and say, “ Here are the measures that we think are important.” They should single out three or four, and give us a certain time in which to dispose of them. It is impossible to pass from twenty to twenty-four measures in anything approaching an intelligent manner between now and Friday night. If you, Mr. President, were on the floor of this Chamber instead of occupying the presidential chair, I am sure that you would see that a little more time was given for the discussion of these measures.
– The President might tell the honorable senator what he thought of his argument.
– The President has often told me what he thought of my arguments.
– Order? These references to the chair are quite unseemly on the part of both the Minister and Senator Needham. That aspect of the matter may not be discussed.
– I shall give the Government generous assistance, but I shall discuss the legislation in a painstaking way in order that, when it leaves the Senate, I shall feel confident that it has been given the consideration that it deserved.
– I have always voted against any interference with our Standing Orders. They have been framed for a purpose, and they should be adhered to. It appears to me that some unseen hand is “ pulling the strings “ in this Parliament. The Minister disclaims any connexion with such a procedure. You, sir, I suppose, have not had a hand in it. Yet some persons are able to tell us when we are to sit and for how long. We were told this morning that the Senate was going to sit all night to-night and on Friday night. The gentleman who controls our sleeping berths came along this morning, and wanted to know whether we desired to cancel them for Friday, because of the statements that were made in the newspapers. I do not intend to cancel my berth for that date. I desire to assist the Government to complete its business. I do not care whether there are 36, 136, or even 1,300 Bills which they wish to pass. I shall make the Government a sporting proposal. I am about the oldest honorable senator, and I am one of the best. If every other honorable senator will do the same, I am prepared to sit without any adjournment from now until the whole of the business has been put through. The Government has a big majority. When a Minister is making a statement, or when some other honorable senator is discussing a measure at some length, there is frequently the spectacle of only two honorable senators occupying the benches on the Government side, while . there are six honorable senators attending to their duties on this side. The longer I occupy a seat in the Senate the more firmly am I convinced that it would be wise to abolish it. It is a valueless institution in regard to both legislation and State representation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 16th August (vide page 2844), on motion by Senator Wilson -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
was speaking for the Ministry when he said recently at a public gathering that he was an out-and-out Unificationist. From time immemorial it has been- the practice of Ministers to make announcements of policy at public functions, expressing not only their views, but also those of their party. I take it, therefore, that when Mr. Austin Chapman made this statement in the presence of the press he was defining a change of attitude on the part of the Government on the question of Unification. That being so, all this dabbling in State concerns is apparently preparing the way for the abolition of State Parliaments. Could we not have left it to State Parliaments to finance settlers for the purchase of wire netting? I am sure it would have been the better course. This is not the first Bill I have felt compelled to oppose on the grounds that its purpose is not in accord with my idea of what should be the function of this Parliament. The purpose for which this money is to be spent is not one upon which a national Government should spend money. Are we to have a revival of the old log-rolling days of the State Parliament, when members slept on Ministers’ door mats, when statesmanship was not required from the representative of a district, and when a member’s chief qualification for securing election was his persistency in attending to the requirements of his electorate and in pestering Ministers to get something done for his constituency? Why should the sovereign Parliament of Australia descend to offering baits that will enable that type of man, too well known- in the State Parliaments of the past, to get into the Federal Parliament? When £250,000 is voted by Parliament for the purchase of wire netting, I can imagine Senator McDougall, Senator Grant, and” all the otherNew South Wales members camping om the door mat of the Minister who is responsible for spending the money in order to know what share the State of New South Wales will get. Of course, they will be outdone by the persistency of the representatives of Tasmania. I can imagine how South Australian members will hustle to get their share; and we know that Western Australia has such a pull in Federal politics that it maintains one senator as a permanent Minister, in which position he is quite capable of looking after the interests of the State. Queensland senators have shown so much energy and organizing ability that they have been able for years to keep one senator permanently in the President’s chair. My eyes are wide open to the result of developing a system by which doles are to be. handed out to the States, but as I am not youthful or active enough to take on the task of worrying Ministers to secure a share of these doles for my constituents I want to kill this pernicious system in its infancy. In any case, this kind of legislation should not be brought forward in a national Parliament. We all know that rabbits are a dreadful pest, but I am surprised that no State Parliament has yet taken up an intelligent attitude in regard to them. Babbit skins are infinitely more valuable than sheep skins. In the winter months the price of rabbit skins ranges from ls. to 6s. a lb. In Australia there are splendid areas of land on which the breed of the rabbit could be improved. Rabbits are excellent food, and they breed so prolifically, that with ease the type could be developed, the texture of the fur improved, and the size of the animal increased, so that what are now regarded as a pest could be turned into a profitable industry for the Commonwealth. An ordinary rabbit weighs about 1 lbs., and six rabbit skins weigh 1 lb., but by a system of careful selection and breeding, by importing the New Zealand red rabbit, the long-eared French rabbit, and the big-framed, lop-eared British rabbit, in a few years the weight of the animal could be increased to 4 lbs., and four skins would weigh 1 lb. I do not suggest that rabbits should be allowed to invade lands suitable for running sheep, but there are millions of acres which could be wirenetted and used for the purpose of selecting and breeding a better class of rabbit. If that were done I venture to say the rabbit industry would out-rival the wool industry in the matter of profit to Australia. I ask honorable senators, who have any knowledge of the breeding of rabbits, to calculate how much more profitably this £250,000 could be devoted to a Government-controlled rabbit-breeding establishment, than to giving assistance to wire-net holdings right through Australia. I know that there are big squatting interests behind the Government. In fact, they are now telling the Government to cancel the payment of their taxes. Every one must pay taxes except the squatters. Sir Sidney Kidman must not be called upon to pay what he owes in respect of land tax. I understand that the netting to be purchased will most likely be imported. This is a source of satisfaction to me, because, in March, 1920, when the Tariff was under consideration, I pointed out what a grave injustice we were placing on the settlers by making wire netting so dear that they would not be able to purchase it. This Bill isevidently a confession on the part of the Government that they made a mistake on that occasion, by preventing people from buying at a reasonable price netting to enclose valuable land, and prevent the spread of the rabbit pest. Of course, the statement that the netting will be imported will be watered down by the declaration that Australian mills will be given the first opportunity to supply whatever is required; butwe know the quantity that the Australian mills can supply. Already, settlers have to apply months ahead for their requirements. Instead of spreading this money broadcast throughout Australia, would it not be better to use it in putting up an extra wire-netting plant, preferably in Western Australia? In the Eastern States the settlers can obtain wire netting from the mills located in those States, but the Western Australian settler has no opportunity of doing so, and the cost of transporting wire netting is exceedingly high. The Government may not intend to spread this£250,000 broadcast over the whole of Australia. Possibly Sir Sidney Kidman will get ‘the whole of it. The matter may have been pre-arranged.’ I certainly do not say that Senator Wilson would be so corrupt as to come to such an arrangement.
SenatorWilson. - If the matter had been pre-arranged it would be corrupt.
– I do not know. I can imagine Sir Sidney Kidman, who is a South Australian, approaching Senator Wilson and presenting to him a vivid picture of the ravages of the rabbit pest in that State. The Minister would no doubt reply in his light and airy manner that he would ask the Government to provide some wire netting, and I. daresay he would have no difficulty in persuading his colleagues to agree to the proposal. This £250,000 may be required for some big squatter, such as Sir Sidney Kidman. It is not much more than one big land-holder would need to enclose a large run. There is nothing in the Bill to show whether or not the money will benefit more than one person. If it be intended to benefit oneland-holder only, I shall not be surprised; it is all I expect from this Government, because it stands for the big financial interests of Australia. I cannot imagine the Government desiring to act in the interests of the small land-holders. I remind the Senate that closer settlement is the best means of exterminating the rabbit pest. Its ravages are only apparent on large holdings, which are often left as a breeding ground for dingoes and rabbits. Instead of doling out the sum of £250,000 to be distributed throughout Australia, it would be better to pass a law requiring large areas of land to be put to their best use. Then there would be no need for the Government to vote money for wire netting, or even for immigration, because millions of people would be anxious to settle in this country. The news that there were good opportunities of settlement in Australia would quickly spread to the furthermost ends of the earth. If the framers of the Constitution, most of whom, I believe, are now dead, could see what the Government now propose they would exclaim that the Ministry had not risen to the standard set for the Commonwealth Parliament twenty-five years ago. I realize that I am as a voice in the wilderness as far as the supporters of the Government are concerned, since they Mindly follow the Ministry. I oppose the measure because I object to the principle of handing out money here and there in this fashion. I realize that there is a danger of it being said that I am opposing the interests of the people who use wire netting; but I am prepared to accept that risk, for I regard the matter as one of principle.
– The Honorary Minister (Senator Wilson), in introducing the Bill, mainly dealt in generalities. He supplied little or- no information, and, in my opinion, he had none to convey, although I believe he made a much better job of the work intrusted to him of moving the second reading of this measure than did his colleague in another place. It is admitted that the dingoes and rabbits are a source of annoyance and loss to settlers in many parts of the Commonwealth; but I do not place dingoes in the same category as rabbits. “While the dingo is a most destructive animal, and is of no commercial value, the skin of the rabbit has a commercial value, and its flesh as an article of food is excellent. Nevertheless, I consider that both pests should be exterminated as quickly as possible. If honorable senators read the Bill free from prejudice they will see that the whole of the machinery for its working is to consist of regulations that are to be prescribed. Certainly, £250,000 is to be distributed free of interest to assist needy settlers.
– We do not get even that information in the Bill.
– No; but we were told in the Budget Speech that £200,000 of the amount named was to be made available among the six States, and that the other £50,000 was to be distributed in the Northern Territory. How can honorable senators conscientiously vote for such a proposition without knowing what it will mean to the Commonwealth and to the respective States ? How does the Minister know that the money will be distributed through the agency of the States? The Premier of South Australia (Sir Henry Barwell) has stated that he was not consulted in regard to the introduction of the Bill. He described it as an absolute invasion of State rights, and he stated that he knew nothing of it apart from what had been published in the press; so ‘that it may be taken for granted that the Government did not communicate with the State Premiers before introducing the measure. Do honorable senators consider it a business proposition to pass a Bill involving the expenditure of £250,000 without having the assurance of the States that they will work in co-operation with the Commonwealth Government in the proper distribution of the wire netting. We are not informed how it is to be purchased. If imported or locally-manufactured wirenetting is to be purchased, are distributing agents to be appointed? If matters have proceeded to that extent, what assurance have the Government that the States will act as agents for the Commonwealth in its distribution? At present the States are assisting needy settlers in respect to wire netting, and, according to the Honorary Minister, are charging varying rates of interest. The Honorary Minister, in introducing the Bill, said that the interest rate imposed in New South Wales was 6 per cent.; in Victoria, 4 per cent., with i per cent, to the paid to the local councils to recoup them for working expenses and looking after the interests of the Government; in Queensland, 5 per cent. ; South Australia, 6 per cent.; Tasmania, 6 per cent., and in Western Australia, current rates. He went on to say that if it were distributed as an ordinary wire-netting grant through the medium of the States, we would “have some people paying interest to the States, while others would be utilizing Commonwealth money free of interest. What is meant by the two statements ?
– Exactly what I said.
– Does the honorable senator mean that the Commonwealth Government will purchase the wire netting, or that it will lend the States a certain amount of money with which to purchase it?
– If the honorable senator read my speech carefully he would know that the position is perfectly clear.
– I have done that, and in an endeavour to ascertain the real intention of the Government have also perused the speeches’ of honorable members in another place. Is it intended to loan the States money with which to purchase wire netting, or do the Government intend to purchase the material and forward it direct to the States for distribution? It is bur duty to ascertain the object of the Bill.
– Clause 5 makes that clear.
– It provides that the Minister “may,” which in Acts of Parliament usually means “shall.” In another place the question was asked whether the Government intended to purchase imported or locally-manufactured wire netting, which presupposes that it is the intention to purchase wire netting for distribution in ihe different States. If the money is advanced to the States, has the Government received an assurance that they will undertake the purchase and proper distribution of the netting ? If the money is not to be advanced, and the Commonwealth Government purchase supplies, will the State undertake the work of distribution? We are also* informed that it is to be distributed on an area and population basis, but no one can really define what that means. If it is to be on an area basis, the State with the largest area will secure the major portion of the netting or money, and if it is to be on a population basis Victoria would obtain more than a State which, although larger in area, has a smaller population. The Government is to ask the States to deal with applicants who, according to the Bill, are supposed to be in indigent circumstances. Who is to define the meaning of “ needy settler “ ? Is it suggested that the State Governments will .invite indigent settlers in their respective States to apply for assistance, that the States will deal with the applications on their merits, and that the States will undertake this work without charging interest on the costs incurred?
– It will be of great assistance to their settlers.
– Yes, but the probability is that the State Governments will not undertake the work.
– In which case they will not receive any money.
– But the Premier of South Australia said that the Stateswhich accepted the offer would be able to take what had been refused by the other States. The Government has decided to distribute £250,000, and even if some of the States do not require assistance, the’ same amount will be expended.
– We have not the machinery to undertake the work of distribution. >
– Neither has this Government, and it can only work in conjunction with the States.
– I do not think the Premier of South Australia would have made that statement if he had known the facts.
– As I do not know the facts or the intention of the Government, I would be obliged if the Honorary Minister would . give -us some essential information. , I do not think the State Governments will handle such a proposal as this, which would be a source of worry and anxiety, because when a differentiation is made between settlers innumerable difficulties are created. If the Government is to lay down the principle that indigent persons on the land are to be financially assisted without interest being charged on the money advanced, can it honestly stop there? Other sections of the community in need will justifiably claim assistance. Would the Honorary Minister support a Bill providing for money to be advanced for the purchase of homes for indigent people in different parts of , Australia ? Those without homes are as much entitled to consideration as are needy settlers who require wire netting. I am as anxious as honorable senators opposite that the dingoes and rabbits shall be kept down, but before I support the Bill I want the Honorary Minister to explain to my satisfaction its real purport, as it appears there are obstacles in the way which cannot easily be overcome. I am not a State-righter, but I can see that there is something in the objections raised by some of the State Premiers, who must think that we are either embarrassed with riches or that we believe that the States cannot afford to assist their settlers. The Bill proposes to encroach upon State rights, and we are, perhaps unconsciously, placing the State Governments in a somewhat humiliating position. I rose to obtain certain information to which the Senate is entitled before a vote is taken. If the Minister will supply that information I may be induced to alter my view.
.- I oppose the Bill. So far as I know there is no public demand for it. We do not know why it has been introduced. I should like to know the names of the persons who first brought the alleged need for it under the notice of the Government. The passing of it will mean the creation of an additional Government Department, or at least a considerable increase in the size of the Public Service. It is silent as to whether it is intended to advance the money to the States or to the settlers. I am not averse to voting money for the eradication of pests, but when we are asked to do so, full information as to how it will be spent should be supplied to us. There is no reasonable certainty that the money will be refunded. We are asked one day to vote for a bounty on meat, and another day to make a grant to assist the sulphur industry, and to advance money to the States to buy wire netting. Shortly we shall be asked to differentiate between the States in regard to taxation. The provision of wire netting is purely a State matter. The Bill ought never to have been presented to this Parliament. The Minister should withdraw the Bill and allow this Parliament to proceed with matters which properly concern it.
. -In this Bill the Government is carrying out a good principle, but is doing it in a way that invites opposition. It has been said that we are asked to give the Government a blank cheque. The particulars in the Bill are vague and indefinite. We do not know how the money will be distributed. Clause 3 of the Bill states -
For the purposes of this Act there shall be established in the hooks of the Treasury a Trust Account which shall be known as the “ Advances to the States for the benefit of Settlers Trust Account “ and that account shall be a Trust Account for the purposes of section 02 of the Audit Act 1901-1920.
Sub-clause 2 of clause 4 says -
The amount appropriated by this Act shall bE deemed to have been paid to the Advances to Settlers Trust Account on the thirtieth day of June, One thousand nine hundred and twentythree, and to have formed part of that account on that date.
Sub-clause 1 of clause 5 provides that -
The Minister may, out of the moneys standing to the credit of the Trust Account, make advances to the States and the Administrator of the Northern Territory for the purchase of wire netting.
In view of those provisions one would naturally think that the remaining clauses of the Bill would give some particulars regarding the method of distribution of the money. Sub-clause 2 of clause 5 says that -
Any wire netting so purchased may be supplied to settlers in the Commonwealth at such price, upon such conditions and security, and subject to such terms as to payment, as are prescribed.
Nothing is said as to the price at which the wire netting shall be supplied to the States, as to the security that will be asked for, or as to when the money must be repaid. Clause 7 continues in the same strain, for it says -
The Governor-General may make regulations, not inconsistent with this Act, prescribing all matters which are required or permitted to be prescribed, or which are necessary or convenient to be prescribed, for carrying out or giving effect to this Act.
That clause is a masterpiece of comprehensiveness, with nothing definite in it. Recognising the great value of wire netting in combating the rabbit pest, and knowing that it is the best way to deal with that pest, I shall not cause those settlers to whom the Bill will be a great boon to suffer from the incompetent way in which the Government has framed it. I shall therefore support, at any rate, the second reading of the Bill. The Bill will be a great boon to many settlers, although the amount to be distributed among six States is insufficient. After a sum of £50,000 has been deducted for the Northern Territory, only £200,000 will remain for the States, all of which suffer, to some extent, from rabbits and wild dogs. The amount provided is so trifling that the value of the measure to each State will be infinitesimal. The less connexion there is between the Commonwealth and the States, on financial matters, the better, but there will always be this difficulty until we have what the Labour party is advocating, and what I am glad to see the Ministry has shown some indication of indorsing, namely, one supreme authority. The principle of the Commonwealth advancing money to the States for them to distribute is by no means new. Advances have been made for road construction, and Parliament this session has made grants to the cattle raisers of Queensland and to the State of Tasmania. In those cases we gave the money away; but the money to be advanced under this Bill is intended to be repaid. The only concession made to the settlers is that they will have the use of the money free of interest. In that respect the money advanced under the Bill will be in a category by itself. In nearly every case the State boundaries are, I think, wire-netted, so as to throw upon the State authorities the responsibility for keeping down vermin in their own territories. Most honorable senators have spoken on the Bill as if it applied only to the rabbit pest, but wire netting is required also to combat wild dogs. A sum of £50,000 for the Northern Territory, which is almost entirely a cattleproducing country, and suffers from the presence of wild dogs, will go only a very small distance when it is used for building wire-netting fences sufficiently high and strong to prevent the inroads of wild dogs.
Sitting suspended from 1.0 to2.30 p.m.
– I learn from the speech of the Minister, and from the debate which took place in another House, that this money will be advanced to the States, which will be responsible for itsrepayment: This principle of Government advances to local bodies to enable out-back settlers to rid their lands of vermin has been in operation for many years. Those living in the districts affected are, of course, the best judges of the manner in which the money should be distributed. The principle of allowing the States to distribute the money is a good one. I have no doubt that they will depute that task to the local bodies. Recognising that the Bill will be an advantage to some settlers, I propose to support the motion for its second reading.
– Naturally, as a supporter of primary producers, I am anxious to do anything which will assist them to fight the terrible rabbit and dingo pests. I am, however, very disappointed with the Bill. It has been loosely drawn, and furnishes no information whatever. I draw the attention of honorable senators to the seriousness of the rabbit pest. Anything that the Government does to assist the settlers to combat that pest has much to commend it. The dingo has increased to an alarming extent in the Northern Territory, the western part of Queensland, the north-west of New South Wales, and the north-east of Western Australia during recent years. I do not think it would be an exaggeration to say that the attempts which are made to destroy the rabbits cost the settlers of Australia well over £1,000,000 per annum. While wishing to see rabbits exterminated, I am surprised that, in view of the present value of rabbit skins and the bodies of rabbits, the Labour Bureau has not made endeavours to provide the unemployed with the occupation of trapping rabbits, at which they could make good wages. Within 100 miles of Melbourne there are millions of rabbits - in Gippsland, the Western District, the north-west, and the north-east. Rabbit skins to-day are selling up to 52d. per lb., the average price being 44d. per lb. The average number of skins per lb. is seven. Therefore, each rabbit skin is to-day worth 6d. in Melbourne. The body of the rabbit is also worth from 6d. to1s., and it is a nutritious and palatable food.
– How much of that 6d. would be taken up in middlemen’s charges and railway freights?
– There need be no middlemen’s charges connected with the sale of rabbit skins; they can be sold direct to the wholesale buyers. The price I have quoted is the ruling price in Melbourne to-day, free from commission.I intend to approach the officials at the Labour Bureau to see if men cannot be induced to go out trapping. Having gone into this matter very carefully, and made observations over a number of years, I estimate that eight rabbits eat or destroy as much herbage as is consumed by one sheep. Some authorities place the number at six; but I think that that is rather an exaggeration. The spread of the rabbit pest may, perhaps, be a reason for the serious decline in our flocks of sheep, which is so much to be deplored considering the enormous importance to Australia of the sheep industry. To-day we have 30,000,000 fewer sheep than we had thirty years ago. If our flocks were increased by that 30,000,000, the increased income from the wool alone, at present prices, would amount to £15,000,000 per annum.
– Two good seasons would bring them all back.
– The net. increase in the number of sheep in Australia during good seasons has been disappointing. That, perhaps, has been due to the spread of the rabbit, and, of course, to some extent to the increase in the export of lamb. We are not increasing our flocks as much as we ought to do in good seasons. Last year, unfortunately, we dropped back to the extent of fully 3,000,000 head of sheep. I support the idea of providing the settler with cheap wire netting. At the same time, I criticise this piece of paper which is designated, “ A Bill for an Act.” Who has sought this grant of £250,000 ? It might reasonably be asked, “ Are we not interfering with the functions of the States ?” Victoria, I know, has not looked” for this grant. I have been asked in Victoria, “ Why are you interfering with us ?” I understand from the Minister that £50,000 of this amount is to be spent in the Northern Territory. I suppose it will be used in the erection of dog-proof fences, which are essential if sheep are to be carried in the Territory.
– A rabbit could not live in the Federal Capital territory.
– I suppose Senator Needham is correct in that assertion. I do not, however, think that the country is quite as poor as he would have us believe it is.
– The best merino wool is grown there.
– The honorable senator is wrong in that statement. It is not the best, but it is very good. There is very little of it, and it takes many acres to produce a quantity. I should like to know where the Government propose to buy this wire netting, and at what price; also, what gauge and what mesh netting is to be bought? Some Governments in the past have made grants of wire netting to settlers, and it has been found to be 1^-in. mesh, which is not rabbit-proof. It is necessary that the netting should be lj-in. mesh, and of the right gauge. I notice that the loan is to be free from interest. I have been unable to find in the Bill any provision regarding repayment. If the Government do not charge the States interest, will the States be empowered to charge - interest to the settlers to whom they provide the wire netting ? I have seen grants of wire netting made by various State Governments to supposedly struggling settlers, and not 10 per cent, has been , used in the construction of rabbit-proof fences; it has sometimes been stapled or nailed to the posts and used as a sheep-proof fence, and the rabbits could get underneath it. I again say that I support the Bill, because I approve of anything that is done to assist the primary producers.
– This Bill is conclusive proof, if such were necessary, of the exhaustion of the Government, which has fallen down on its job. The Government, through Senator Wilson, has simply flung a piece of paper at us and has said,. “ We want £250,000.” When we say, “What is it for?” we are told,’ “ It is for wire netting to help settlers.” The object is a laudable one, but the draftsmanship of the Bill is deplorable. We are being asked to sign a blank cheque for £250,000. No one has told us who is to distribute the money. It is true that the Bill provides for the appointment of State committees, but we have no information as to who will comprise them. We have not been told how the money is to be distributed - whether it is to be on a population or an area basis. It is surely ‘ time Ministers gave us more information about the Bills they bring in; but, of course, in this case, as Senator Findley has pointed out, the Minister (Senator Wilson) had no information to give, because there is nothing in the Bill itself. Before this measure goes through I hope we shall be told how the committees will be chosen, who will comprise, them, how the money will be distributed - whether on a population or an area basis - and if there is any likelihood of the Commonwealth being repaid. I support this Bill reluctantly, because of its lack of information. If ever a Government invited defeat on a measure they are doing so on this occasion. I trust that when they bring down other Bills they will supply more information. Among those to be benefited are returned soldiers, -who are deserving of assistance. It must be remembered that the Government intend to borrow another £4,000,000 to assist returned soldiers. That is’ a very laudable proposal, but I hope that “ when the money is disbursed there will be some assurance that , it will be well spent, and that the soldiers will be put on land on which they can make a living. Many of them have been placed on land in circumstances in which they are severely handicapped, and in which it is almost impossible for them to make a living. The land on which they are settled should be carefully chosen, and the men themselves should be carefully selected, so that only those who are capable of making a living on the land are put upon it. The £250,000 proposed to be set aside for the purpose of providing wire netting for returned soldiers and settlers in new districts is a paltry amount. In another Bill before Parliament the Government propose to remit taxation to the extent of £1,300,000, and to make a present of £200,000 to two wealthy men. Yet here they limit their assistance to new settlers to a , paltry £250,000, to be spread over a vast continent. If Ministers have a genuine desire to assist returned soldiers and settlers on new areas they should have come forward with a more generous proposal. But, notwithstanding the paltry sum proposed to be devoted to this purpose and the indefiniteness of the information supplied, I shall take the risk of supporting the Bill, trusting that the Government, in a saner mood, will devote sufficient time and energy to the task of drafting future measures for submission to this Parliament. “ Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) [2.50].- I have heard a great deal about the indefiniteness of this Bill, but it appears to me that it is absolutely definite. It lays down a principle which will be very much welcomed by State authorities. What is it that is underlying the proposal to lend £250,000 to the States? The Commonwealth authorities have been compelled to recognise that during the last few years in many quarters where, under ordinary conditions, they might have received a fair amount of revenue from taxation, there has been a considerable falling off. This Bill is, to an extent, a measure of self-protection. Some of the States are not in a position to find money to help settlers to secure wire netting, and the Commonwealth Government have decided to advance £250,000 to the States for ten years so that they may be in a position to organize assistance by which large areas of land that to-day are practically unproductive may be made productive, and thus furnish revenue to the Commonwealth from taxation. I look at the matter from the point of view of the small man, and not from that of the large sheep-owner or cattleowner. I speak for the man who is endeavouring to obtain a living in the initial stages of developing his holding, and I have in mind one of the richest portions of Tasmania which, until the last few years, was absolutely free of rabbits. On one block of 105 acres, in its rough state, until two years ago, I was able to graze fifty head of young cattle and turn them out at the end of the summer fat or in’ high condition. Now that same property will permit of the grazing of only thirty head of the same class of cattle. Owing to the ravages of rabbits its productiveness has decreased by almost 50 per cent. The rabbits which have invaded my holding are spreading right to the north-west corner of Tasmania, where every settler is having the same experience that I have had. In fact, on many holdings no cattle can be grazed in the winter months because the rabbits have come along in their tens of thousands and have nipped off the young shoots of grass, leaving no food at all for cattle. It has been suggested that this Bill will be of benefit to some of the large sheep holders. I am putting in a pl’ea for the small holder who is particularly interested in securing this assistance.
– We are anxious to protect the small holders, but the Bill does not give any assurance in that direction.
– The Bill provides that the money shall be advanced to the State Governments. >
– And that is the end of it, so far as we are concerned.
– Not at all.
– That is what we want to know.
– Does the honorable senator imagine that the Departments which distribute this money will be foolish enough to advance it without imposing reasonable conditions? The details which the honorable senator wishes to know cannot be placed in a Bill of this character. The purpose of the measure is to assist State Governments so that they may in turn assist those who are on the land to protect their properties from the ravages of rabbits. I know that there will be many difficulties in administering the measure, but they are not insurmountable. The State Governments have the opportunity of obtaining the assistance of local governing bodies, who, in many instances, will prove better fitted to handle a proposition of this kind. If the State Governments seek the cooperation of these bodies the distribution of the netting will be made on reasonable lines, and will be supplied only to those who are in need of it. Many men will not apply for the assistance if they are able to finance themselves, but there are thousands of small men in Australia whose outlook is getting darker and darker each year, because of the spread of this pest. If we can help them to continue in their work of gradually developing their areas, we shall do good work. For this reason, I support the Bill, and I hope that the majority of the Senate will do so.
– I intend to support this Bill, although it does not give much information. In the first place, the amount proposed to be spent is altogether too small, and cannot do very much good. The State of Western Australia has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds in providing some means of keeping rabbits in subjection. Senator Gardiner has pointed out that many people would be benefited if steps were taken to can rabbits.
– Unfortunately, nearly allwho have tried to can rabbits have failed.
– The Millicent people in South Australia have not failed. Their canned rabbits proved a great boon to Broken Hill in 1898. If it were possible to subsidize a firm to can rabbits, it would provide a lot of work for men who are unemployed, and as rabbit fur is used largely in the manufacture of hats, the killing of rabbits for canning purposes would also provide employment in that direction. Men should be encouraged to go out and catch rabbits, and if there is such a sale for the skins, as Senator Guthrie says there is, it should be a profitable undertaking for them. The small amount of money that is to be made available for Western Australia is very paltry in comparison with the area to be covered. I should like to see a larger amount provided so that every encouragement may be given to those who have taken up small holdings. As Senator Needham has pointed out, the returned soldiers who have recently taken up areaswill secure some benefit. Care should be taken that the benefit is not given to the large land-holders to the detriment of the small men. The wirenetting factory in Australia finds it impossible, under present conditions, to manufacture , all the netting needed in the Commonwealth. If, aided by a subsidy, it could turn out more netting than it is producing at present, and additional employment would be provided for Australian workmen.
– I take this to be a small measure, intended for the purpose of legalising what was contemplated by the Government last year, when it proposed to spend money for the purpose of providing wire netting. One cannot help noticing that all the legislation of the present Government has been for the purpose of giving away Commonwealth money. Presumably, the party opposite is looking for political support in return for the public funds it disburses. The sum of £250,000 will go only a very short way in the direction of the eradication of the rabbit pest. It would be far better to expend the money in endeavouring to discover a scientific means of dealing effectively with the evil. A wire-netting fence round Australia would not prevent the spread of the pest. One pound of rabbit skins fetches as much in the market today as 1 lb. of thefinest washed and dressed wool. The price paid in the market this morning for the skins of rabbits in the first fur season was 55d. per 1 lb., and, according to the latest figures published, the price of the best scoured wool is 55¼d. From a perusal of Chambers’ Encyclopaedia, I find that a tame rabbit has been known to bear fiftyeight young in a year. Pennant calculated that from one mother no less than 1,274,840 descendants might result by the end of four years, assuming that all the members of successive generations sur,vived and reproduced. The normal length of life of a rabbit in England is seven or eight years. It appears to me that the small settler will not benefit by the allocation of this money to the States. It was stated in the other House that the property of some land-holders had become valueless owing to the ravages of the rabbit pest, and that the land-holders had thanked God that there were men like Sir Sidney Kidroan who were prepared to buy them out. We know, of course, that a man like Sir Sidney Kidman would not be prepared to lose very much on the turnover. I advise the Government, if they have ;G250,000 to spend, to devote it to scientific research for the purpose of effectively coping with the rabbit scourge.
– I shall not delay the passage of the measure, for it will evidently receive liberal support from both sides’ of the Senate. I point out, however, as previous speakers have, the inadequacy of the amount proposed to be devoted to this very laudable purpose. A quarter of a million pounds is a very small sum considering that the Government is handling money by tens of millions. When the amount allocated to the Northern Territory is deducted, I suppose the State, one of whose representatives I have the honour to be, will not receive more than about £15,000, and with wire netting at £60 per ton, I hardly think that that amount would meet the needs of a dozen land-holders in the western State. The New Zealand Government has adopted a far more liberal attitude than the Government of the Commonwealth has done. According to the New Zealand Budget of last year, no less than £20,000,000 has been advanced to the settlers at the rate of 44 per cent, for various forms of developmental work. The population of the” Dominion is only one-quarter that of the Commonwealth. If this Government had acted in the same liberal fashion, instead of spending a paltry £250,000 in assisting settlers in this way, it would have granted £80,000,000. The value of New Zealand’s exports in the last seven years has ranged from £28 per head of the population to £46 per head, as against from £15 to £22 in the Commonwealth, and I claim that it is largely on account of the liberal encouragement given by the New Zealand Government to primary producers. I accept this Bill only as a meagre instalment of the measures needed to assist our primary producers in the development of the country.
– There seems to be an erroneous’ impression that the Government desires to perform a work that is now being done by the State Governments. I distinctly stated, in moving the second reading of the Bill, that the ambition of the Government was to relieve necessitous cases, and in no circumstances to overlap the functions of the various State authorities now assisting in the distribution of wire netting. Senator Lynch spoke as though the responsibility for granting assistance to settlers in coping with the rabbit pest rested entirely upon the Commonwealth Government. The following letter has been received by the Government ‘ from Mr. P. E. Forrest, general secretary of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia: -
Effective Method of Coping with the Babbit Pest.
I desire to show hereunder copy of communication received from the New South Wales Branch of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia, and shall be pleased to have your comments thereon : - “, This matter was discussed by my State Congress several months ago, and, as a result, a communication was received from the Minister for Lands, which communication was considered by my State Council on Saturday last, 30th ultimo. It was agreed, however, that the only effective method of coping with the question was to make entirely rabbit-proof all properties with rabbit-proof netting, and, as a result, a resolution was carried to the effect that the Federal and State Governments be urged to make rabbit-proof netting available . at a cheaper rate. I have submitted this matter to the Minister for Lands, and I shall be pleased if you will press same with the Federal Government.”
The Government favours a policy of increased production, and if the Bill is agreed to, it will invite the State Governments to make recommendations in necessitous cases. This practically means a loan to the States free of interest, the States to accept responsibility for the return of the principal.
– The Minister is compelled to do that.
– I do not think the honorable senator has a right to say that. There has been a good deal of misunderstanding over the matter. The Premier of South Australia (Sir Henry Barwell) has used somewhat strong terms in connexion with this measure, but I am certain that when it is in operation it will be the means of affording relief in necessitous cases.
– At to-day’s market rates for wire netting, 4,000 miles can be purchased with the amount to be distributed.
– Yes, and that is a very important factor. As Senator Lynch suggests that the amount, when compared with that advanced to settlers in New Zealand, is quite insignificant, but he must remember that vermin boards in different parts of the Commonwealth are doing good work to check the spread of vermin. It is not the function of this Government to interfere with the operations of boards already appointed, but an endeavour is being made to afford relief without duplicating the work at present undertaken by the State authorities.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 -
– In order to make it quite clear that the transactions will be carried out through the State Governments, and that no new machinery is being created, I move -
That the words “ Advances to Settlers “ be left out.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
– As a Board is to be appointed under the Minister to control land in the Northern Territory, and the work will not then be under the Administrator of the Northern Territory, I move -
That the words “Administrator of the” be left out.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new paragraphs be added after sub-clause (1) : -
Any advances made to any State for the purchase of wire netting shall be repaid by the State within such time andupon such terms as may be prescribed.
No advance for the purchase of wire netting shall ‘ be made to any State unless that State gives an undertaking to the Commonwealth that the price charged to settlers for wire netting shall be free of interest or administrative charges.
In speaking on the second reading, I said that this was an ambiguous and indefinite measure. We have been informed that the advances are to be made to the States, and that the States will become responsible for the repayment of the money, but as there is nothing in the Bill to make the States responsible, the Honorary Minister should not object to the amendment. There would be no assistance to settlers over and above what is already being given by the States if provision were not made for guaranteeing settlers that the advances would be free of interest and administrative charges. The Government wish to place them in a better position than they have been in before, and as the amendment provides that the States will be responsible for the repayment of the money, and that the settlers will not have to pay administrative and interest costs, there should be no objection to its acceptance.
– Although there may be some merit in the second portion of the amendment, I do not think that the first part is necessary. If Senator Findley reads clause 7 of the Bill he will find that ample provision has been made for framing regulations.
– I do not want everything to be done by regulation.
– Clause 7 is a drag-net provision which can cover almost anything, and I trust the honorable senator will not persist with the first portion of his amendment.
.- If it is true that £50,000 of this sum is to be ear-marked for the Northern Territory, the amount to be distributed between the States will be insignificant. / I should like to know if it has been definitely decided whether the money is to be allocated on a population or an area basis. Some of. the States which may seek relief are comparatively free from pests, whilst there are large States where vermin is very much in evidence, and where a greater measure of ‘assistance is necessary. Apparently this will be done under regulation, but I trust that due consideration will be given to those States which are largest in area and where vermin is most prevalent.
Senator GARDINER (New South
Wales) [3.28]. - A good deal of time has been devoted to the discussion of the motion for the second reading, and as it is not our desire to unnecessarily delay the passing of the Bill, the Government should accept a reasonable proposition. If there is a good reason why the amendment should not be accepted, it should be given. It certainly makes the Bill much clearer, as it definitely provides that the money shall be repaid by the States, and that the settlers who receive advances shall not be charged interest or administrative - costs by the authorities. If the States secure money without interest, surely it is fair to ask them to pass it on to the settlers on the same basis. This Bill is a skeleton, and a very poor skeleton at that. It includes the principle, without indicating how effect shall be given to it.
.- Although in this Bill full and complete power is given to the Governor in Council to prescribe how the money shall be repaid, and . to deal with all other matters which are not inconsistent with the Bill, it would very much better if the Government would improve the Bill by accepting the amendment. The most objectionable clause in any Bill is that which leaves the details to be prescribed by regulations. Honorable senators receive regulations day after day, and many of us have not time to read them. This Bill represents only a step, ‘ bea,use I believe that, with the lead that has been given this session, and in view of the surplus which the Government is expected to have next year, many simi- lar measures will be introduced, and the surplus will not be sufficient to meet all the demands that will be made upon it. The Senate has a right to know whether the States are prepared to handle the money without charging interest to the settlers.
Senator WILSON (South Australia-
Honorary Minister) [3.34]. - I hope that Senator Findley will not press the amendment. It will be necessary to .include in the regulations many of the suggestions that have been made. The Bill says that the money shall be provided free in necessitous cases. A large sum of money is involved, and every care should be exercised in its distribution. Two practical suggestions have been made, but they must be considered in relation to other matters. I give Senator Findley my personal assurance that these two suggestions will be brought under the notice of the Minister.
– I want them in the Bill.
– I am sorry my honorable friend takes that stand. To put such proposals in the Bill would not be satisfactory. I must oppose the amendment.
– The Minister’s remarks have given me additional strength to urge the Committee to agree to the amendment. The Minister speaks of £250,000 as if it were a few pence. We, the custodians of the people’s rights, ask that the State Governments shall be made responsible for the repayment of this huge sum. In other words, we desire to make them responsible for paying back, within a prescribed time, the money belonging to the citizens of the Commonwealth. The Minister has given the Committee an assurance that the suggestions’ put forward will be taken into consideration. I have received such assurances before from well-intentioned Ministers; but I have not found that all the promises even of well-intentioned Ministers have been carried out. I object to leaving anything to chance. “ It is the duty of members of this Committee to protect the resources of Australia and safeguard the people’s rights. I am satisfied that the Bill “will be too indefinite unless we make the Governments of the States responsible for the repayment of the money. What objection can members of the Committee have to making the position clear to those members’ of the community who, because the rabbits and dingoes have made it impossible for them to make any substantial progress, have asked for assistance? By agreeing to the amendment, we would say to them, “ We have heard your call. We have come to your assistance. We have advanced the money to the State Governments free of interest, and we have laid it down definitely and specifically in the Bill itself, that the State Governments must not levy on you for overhead charges or for interest on the money spent in the purchase of wire netting.” Any fair-minded member of the Committee ought to be able to agree to that principle. Let us do * what we want to do in a business-like way, and not by regulation. The amendment . would strengthen the Bill, and the hands, of the Government.
.- The statement of the Minister makes it quite evident to me that he would be well advised to accept the amendment: I accept his assurance that the suggestions made will receive consideration when the regulations are being framed, but he must realize that no regulation can be passed, even by the Government, unless it is within the scope of the Bill. If the Minister attempted to frame a regulation ‘ stating how the money should be paid, and stipulating that the receiver of the wire ‘ netting should not be charged interest or anything for overhead expenses, it might be argued that it would be outside the scope of the Act.. I agree with Senator Findley that assurances given in the best of faith are sometimes not carried out. Unless we put some provision in the Bill saying under what safeguard the money shall be advanced, it will take a wide stretch of the imagination . to frame a-, regulation to stand the test of the law. The Minister has admitted the soundness of Senator Findley’s proposal, and has said that it will receive full , consideration when the regulations are being drafted. It would be a -very small step farther to say that he was prepared to accept the amendment. I agree that the. amount provided is relatively small, and that we might well let the Bill pass without saying a word; but when these matters come before us, it is our duty to consider every detail of them. I favour every word in the amendment. The vote upon it will be a test between those who favour the settlers’ and those who do not; bet-ween those who want, by Statute law, to make it impossible for further charges to be heaped upon the settlers’ heads, and those who do not.
– This amendment brings . into high relief the futility and folly of the Federal Government interfering in matters with which it has no concern. I think it will be found that the amendment is impossible when one compares the rules, regulations, and legislation under which assistance is granted to settlers by -the various States. It is laid down in State legislation that that assistance, no matter whence the money comes, shall be given on certain conditions, and how this somewhat ill-advised incursion into the province of the States can be brought into line’ with their legislation is beyond me. The Leader of the Opposition. (Senator Gardiner) is quite ‘justified in endeavouring to draw a line between the “ sheep “ and the ‘ ‘ goats “ ; in labelling those who support the amendment as being in favour of the settlers, and those who do not support it as being against them. It is a perfectly natural distinction for the honorable gentleman to make for what I may call strategic purposes. Thev position is quite inexplicable to me. I shall not support the amendment, because it is the most impracticable part of an impracticable Bill.
– Senator Kingsmill has given a convincing reason why the amendment should be made. He said that it might “not be in conformity with the regulations of the States relating to advances to settlers. We know that the regulations of the States provide for charging interest, and if we do not make the amendment they may insist that under their own laws and regulations they must continue to charge interest. That is what we want to avoid and what the Minister says the Government wish to avoid. If there is any. difficulty as to the conditions upon which the money shall be allocated, and if any of the laws or regulations of the States prevent their distributing the money free of interest, the States will have to bring their laws and regulations into conformity with the wishes of this Legislature if they wish to take advantage of this Bill.
– Honorable senators are aware that, if this Bill had not been amended in another place, the Government would have been defeated on it. The amendment which the Government was compelled to accept entirely altered the character of the Bill. The first intention of the Government was the correct one ; it was going to manage the fund and supply the wire netting to the places which required it. No arrangement has been made by which the States may deal with the matter. The States do not want to have anything to dp with it ; they want the Commonwealth to mind its own affairs. The amendment moved by Senator Findley clearly defines the duties of the States if they undertake the management of the fund. Unless the Bill contains such a provision it is deficient. If the States desire to advance wire netting to their settlers they can well do it without a grant from the Commonwealth. The principal factor operating against the success of soldier settlement is the . moneylender. There are too many overhead charges. One by one the settlements have been broken up because of the overhead charges and the enormous interest which has to be paid. There are ways different from this by which settlers can be assisted.
Question - That the new sub-clause proposed to be added (Senator Findley’s amendment) be so added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority .. . . . 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 - Regulations.
– This clause provides that the regulations made must be consistent with the provisions of the Act. The State Governments may or may not be disposed to purchase Australian-made wire netting. Some Governments with Free Trade proclivities may be disposed to purchase the imported article. What is in the minds of the Government? It is intended, of course, that needy settlers shall get wire netting. Are the State Governments to buy wire netting individually or combine in a business-like way, and place an order collectively? Are they to be allowed, by regulation, to charge the settlers any price they like, or will the regulations prescribe that the price paid by the State Governments shall be the price charged thesettler ? We have not been told whether the States are agreeable to undertake this work.
– The honorable senator has no objection to our offering to assist necessitous cases, has he ?
– The vote which has just been taken, indicates that a majority of the Committee decline to assist necessitous cases - at any rate, in the direction in which I desire that they shall be assisted. No matter what regulations are framed, there is nothing to prevent the State Governments from charging the settlers the same rate of interest that they are charging in respect of other loans.
– Would the honorable senator like me to attempt to dictate to the States? I can assure him that I shall have enough trouble as it is.
– The State Governments are to be asked to differentiate between settlers,. Those settlers who are not too badly placed are to be charged 6 per cent, interest and overhead charges, while needy settlers are not to be charged anything’ at all. Can the Minister tell the Committee how this work is to be carried out?
– In a nutshell, this is a business matter, and the very best will be done in the interests of’ the settler.
– This clause opens up the whole principle of the Bill. Senator Findley has pointed out that a Free Trade Government might import wire netting. Unless it is imported it will be most disastrous to the settlers. Take the man with a small orchard. He finds that rabbits are coming his way in droves, and he wants to buy locally-manufactured wire netting in order to have his orchard wired before the rabbits become so great in number as to destroy his orchard. If a big order is placed with the local firms, only one- or two of which are working, the supply to outside buyers will be cut off. It will be wise to include in the regulations a provision that the wire netting may also be used for enclosing orchards. The rabbit does more damage to an orchard in one night than to any other property in a week. If rabbits eat the grass off a holding rain may come, and the grass may grow again the next day ; but if they eat the bark off the trees in a young orchard, three years of the labour of the orchardist has gone for nothing. It takes three years for the orchard to come into profit again. Senator Findley fears that if the netting is imported some of our people will be deprived of work, but I would rather import the netting as quickly as possible, double the supplies available, and provide greater productivity.
– I have no feeling in the matter. A bounty is paid for the wire netting manufactured locally, and the netting purchased overseas will come, in free of duty.
– I am afraid that if an order is placed with the local manufacturers for ?250,000 worth of wire netting, only those who are provided for by this expenditure will get supplies from the local firms. We do not know who will get it, or where it will go.
Some of it may go to the Northern Territory. On a rough, but moderate estimate, wire netting costs about ?50 a mile, and at that price the sum proposed to be spent in this direction will provide 5,000 miles of netting, sufficient for only a couple of holdings in the Northern Territory.
– (Senator Newland). - The clause deals only with the framing of regulations.
– I am discussing what should be in the regulations. I was endeavouring to show that regulations should be framed to provide that the wire netting should be devoted to the protection of orchards only. Five thousand miles of wire netting would go practically nowhere in fencing in extensive properties, whereas by using it for orchards it would do a great deal of good. I was also showing that the idea that by having an article made locally more work is provided in the country has been exploded long ago. It is three years since we passed . the heaviest Tariff Australia has yet imposed, and to-day we have more unemployed than we have ever had before. There is a growing feeling among the community that more employment is given by extending the trade of the country. The more we trade with outside countries the more we enlarge the scope of employment for our own people. We must produce wealth to purchase the goods of other countries before the people of those countries can purchase ours. The Minister should give some consideration to that aspect of the question. I hope that a regulation will be framed insisting on the Government expending the money before the year expires; otherwise next year the Treasurer will come down and show it as a surplus, claiming that the fact that the money has not been expended is evidence df his great ability as a Treasurer. If the Minister has any idea that he will not be able to find the people who want this assistance, let him. appoint a Committee of this Senate to help him in its distribution. There would be no travelling costs or overhead charges. Plenty of people will be found willing to avail themselves of the assistance. The ultimate advantage of wire netting holdings is so well recognised to-day that every person encloses his land with ‘ wire netting as soon as he can afford to do so.
The period of repayment should be extended to thirty years even without interest, so that theannual re-payments would not fall too harshly on any man. I know that the Minister (Senator Wilson) will be on the water within a few days after this session closes, but I trust that he will keep himself acquainted with what is being done in framing regulations under this Bill, and that when he returns he will be able to show us that excellent work has been done in this direction. I trust that he will give all the attention that is required to the proper framing of the regulations.
– I shall assure the. honorable senator that I shall do so.
– As there is nothing in the Bill itself , how can any regulations be prescribed that are inconsistent with what is contained in the measure? If Senator Findley’s amendment had been accepted, there would have been something in the Bill upon which a regulation could be framed. The Bill contradicts itself, and does not prescribe how the netting is to be secured, or who is to get it. It simply says that the States shall be advanced £250,000, although they have not been asked to accept the responsibility for distributing it. It will be necessary to prescribe regulations inconsistent with the Bill if it is intended to assist both large and small settlers. I should like some amendment to be made which would enable regulations to be prescribed for dealing with the rabbit pest in a scientific manner. Generally speaking, I object to government by regulation. Every Act should be self-explanatory, and honorable senators should not have to bother about regulations.
– I regret that the Government did not accept my amendment, because it would’ have made the Bill workable, and’ it would have given complete satisfaction to the party to which I belong. When Parliament is in session, little or no danger need be apprehended concerning the power of the Government to make regulations consistent with an Act; but when Parliament is not in session, regulations may be made without honorable senators having an opportunity of reviewing them. Section 10 of the Acts Interpretation Act provides that where an Act confers power to make regulations, all. regulations made accordingly shall, unless the contrary intention appears, be notified in the Gazette. The regulations are to take effect from the date of notification, or from a later date specified in the regulations. Will the Government assure us that the regulations under this Bill will not be made operative until Parliament re-assembles? Regulations are to be laid before both Houses “ within thirty days of the making thereof, or, if the Parliament is not then sitting, within thirty days after the next sitting of the Parliament.” Will the Minister (Senator Wilson) tell us when Parliament will next meet? It will probably be next autumn. The Acts Interpretation Act further provides -
But if either House of the Parliament passes a resolution of which notice has been given at any time within fifteen sitting days after such regulations have been laid before such House disallowing any regulation, such regulation shall thereupon cease to have effect.
That is the point. If any mischief has been done during recess, what will be the use of a motion to disallow the regulations ?
– Perhaps the Minister will have the regulations laid on the table before Parliament rises for the recess.
– If so, all trouble will disappear like mists before the rising sun. I believe that the Minister would be willing to give serious consideration to suggestions coming from this side of the Chamber, but I point out that he is only one in a Cabinet of eleven. The working of the measure will depend solely on the regulations to be framed, and honorable senators naturally want to know what is to be the nature of that machinery. We recently had government by proclamation, and the man in the street was asking when responsible government was to be restored in Australia. Now we have a Government that hands over its administrative work to Boards, or governs by regulation.
– And RoyalCommissions.
– Yes. Members of the Labour party believe in responsible government, and they represent a very large section of the community. Will the regulations lay down clearly that the State Governments are to receive this loan free of interest;and areto be responsible to the Commonwealth Governmentfor the repayment of the loan within a specified period ? The Minister is silent. Are the regulations to state emphatically that the settlers to be assisted shall not be required to shoulder overhead and interest charges! If the regulations be. so framed the State Governments will not undertake the work. I do not believe the State Governments would undertake the work, notwithstanding the regulations framed by the Commonwealth Government, of differentiating between settlers. The States are already supplying wire netting at varying rates of interest, and under different methods of distribution, and they will not undertake the additional work for the Commonwealth without charge. If they are going to charge the cost incurred^ in the distribution of wire netting, and interest on the money, there will be little or no advantage to the settlers. I therefore trust the Honorary Minister will give the Committee some indication of the manner in which the regulations are to be framed. If the Bill were clear and definite, I should not offer any objection to its speedy passage. I have seen a very large number of Bills introduced into this Chamber, but I cannot recall one in which the provisions were so vague and indefinite.
– The honorable senator has said that concerning other measures.
– I have not, because such a statement would be unjustified, and the Honorary Minister, if he spoke candidly, would admit that .its draftsmanship is faulty. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Austin Chapman) in another place felt the criticism so keenly that the measure was completely re-drafted.
– (Senator Newland). - The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– Senator Findley’s suggestion that the Honorary Minister should give an assurance that the regulations to be framed under this Bill will be laid on the table of the Senate before Parliament goes .into recess is worthy of consideration. If a fortnight is required in which to < .frame,, the ^regulations, I cai* assume the Government, that, provided the Senate is to fully consider all the measures with which we are asked to deal, that time will be fully occupied.
Clause agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through its remaining stages with-/ out delay.
.- I believe that it will be the responsibility of the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) to . move this motion on quite a number of occasions between now and the end of the session. I have a right to oppose the suspension of our Standing and Sessional Orders, and doubtless the Minister for Home and Territories will recall the intimation I made to him before the new senators were sworn in, that the suspension of the Standing Orders would not be permitted with the ease which had characterized their suspension in the past. That was not a threat. The Government should either alter the method of doing its business, or amend the Standing Orders. If it is necessary to suspend the Standing Orders, would it not be better to call the Standing Orders Committee together, and so amend our rules of debate, that when this hurried stage is reached, business can be transacted as the Government desire. The Standing Orders embody the crystallized experience of many’ years of parliamentary government, and are. framed to preserve the rights of honorable senators whose duty it is to discuss and criticise legislation under which people will suffer. I use the word “suffer” advisedly, because nearly , all the legislation passed will bear harshly upon some one, .although I suppose in a rough and ready form what benefits the majority is- good enough for, the minority. This Bill has passed very rapidly through the draftsman’s hands. It is more faulty in construction than any I have seen, and I believe that if the Government had time to sleep upon it, they would realize how difficult it Will be to do what is intended. T,he, intention is gather- a good one, but the ‘Bill should have ;b.een submitted^ to a State Parliament.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon.
– Had I been allowed to continue, I should have enlarged upon some of its defects which the Minister, if he were in Opposition, would admit. I do not think the Government can complain of the manner in which the debate has proceeded, and I can again only protest against the action being taken.
.-Instead of continually moving the suspension of the Standing Orders to allow Bills to have a speedy passage, the Government should continue its farcical proceedings by moving for the repeal of all our Standing Orders. If that were done, it would save the time of honorable senators and of Ministers and their assistants. The motion is another example of the state of panic of the Government, which does not care about Australia so long ‘ as Mr. Bruce and Senator Wilson can pack their possessions and depart for London. The Standing Orders exist not merely for our guidance/; they are intended also for the protection of the people we represent. It is an extraordinary spectacle to see the Minister rising like an automaton - “ You pull the string and the figure moves “-to move the suspension of this or that standing order. The object is not to facilitate the discussion of legislation, but to burke discussion and hurry Parliament into recess. During a debate this morning Senator Gardiner said that Parliament was a place for talk. That is not correct. Parliament is a place for deliberation, and foi* the careful consideration of ©very matter that comes before us. I admit that the Bill now before us is scarcely worth the time that has been devoted to it, but as there are still some faults in it, I do not think it should be rushed through this, afternoon. I suggest that it should form part of the business of the Senate for to-morrow. I am not so much concerned about the suspension of the Standing Orders in relation to this Bill as. I am about the intention of the Government to ask the Senate to take similar action in regard to the thirty-five measures that have yet to be discussed. We are making a laughing stock of ourselves and of* parliamentary procedure. Cannot the Government place its cards on. the table and say, “ Here are three or four measures that are of vast importance to Australia.” ‘ It should single out the few important measures from the many unimportant ones. If it will do that I shall give it every assistance.
– The trouble is that the Government has placed all its cards on the table, and the honorable senator has thereby been able to take advantage of it.
– A few more Bills would make a full pack of cards. I contend that the Government has not placed its cards on the table, but is trying to ram them down our throats in twentyfour hours. Senator Payne is an able and keen debater, but even with his industry and application, it will be impossible for him to digest the provisions contained in thirty-five measures unless he has the digestion of an ostrich. After the generous treatment given by the Opposition to the Ministry during the whole of this session, the Government is’ adopting very unfair tactics in forcing measures through at an unreasonably rapid pace.
– A’ motion such as that submitted by the Leader of the Government (Senator Pearce) presupposes that for the next day or two the Government, if its supporters are dumb, will endeavour to travel at express speed in pushing legislation ‘through the Senate. It was agreed this morning that the Government should be allowed to- introduce new business after half-past 10 o’clock at night. There was a time when I did not mind whether old or new business came on after that hour, but, for more reasons than one, I am not now so indifferent. All-night sittings are not conducive to longevity, and when honorable senators sit hour after hour, half asleep in an impure atmosphere, they cannot give serious consideration to matters of great moment to the people. Some honorable senators would not mind if the sitting was continued to the end of the week, but there is a limit to .human endurance. I ,was told the other day that somewhere, at some time, a . number of gentlemen who occupy certain positions, lost their last trains and last trams.
– What has that to do with the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders?
-I believe the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders is made for the specific purpose of continuing the sitting until certain measures have been pushed through. The suspension of the Standing Orders, if it would involve the missing of last trains and last trams by honorable senators, would not be goodfor us or for the country.
– The honorable senator is allowing himself very considerable latitude.
– These people were not allowed much latitude when they missed their last trams and trains.
– I ask the honorable senator to resume his seat. This levity and repetition cannot be tolerated any longer.
– Cannot the honorable senator continue his speech?
– I have asked the honorable senator to resume his seat. Any honorable senator has a right to move that Senator Findley be further heard. I am within my rights in asking him to resume his seat, because of his continued levity and repetition.
Motion (by Senator Needham) put -
That Senator Findley be further heard.
The Senate divided.
Majority . . . 3
– I warn Senator Needham that he must not address the Chair in that way. It will not be tolerated.
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I have always objected to the suspension of the Standing Orders, because I consider that such action makes them absolutely valueless. I protest against the manner in which the business is being conducted; it is endangering the health of every honorable senator. If steps are not taken toprotect honorable senators on this side, I intend to take my seat on the benches opposite. There is a continual draught along this side of the Chamber, and I request you, Mr. President, to take steps to have the matter remedied.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon.
Senator ELLIOTT brought up the report of the Public Accounts Committee on the work of the War Service Homes Disposals Board.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and Bill (on motion by Senator Pearce) read a first time.
Debate resumed from 16th August (vide page 2871), on motion by Senator Crawford -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– There are, perhaps, very few questions which are more worthy of our consideration than that relating to the provision of homes for members of the Australian Imperial Force. When this matter first engaged the attention of the Senate a very large number of Australians were abroad. It was recognised that, owing to the depletion of the ranks of the men engaged in the building trade, . hot only was there then a great scarcity of housing accommodation, but that as soon as these men returned the difficulty would be greatly accentuated. Some reluctance was expressed at that time by many honorable senators to the Commonwealth Government entering directly into the business of supplying homes to the returned men and their dependants. I think that wiser counsels prevailed when the decision was arrived at that the Commonwealth should directly take in hand the provision of more housing accommodation. It was a very big undertaking, and one to which the Commonwealth up to that time had been a complete stranger. I think it was recognised by the Minister who was then in charge of the Repatriation Department, that that Department would find itself up against very firmly entrenched organizations, and would be confronted at numer-
*ous points with strong opposition. As a matter of fact, the Department had not been .long operating under the first measure which was passed - I think in 1918 - when it was very clearly seen th”at it would have a rough spin. Even during the passage of the Bill, it was quite evident to those who closely followed the trend of events that existing homes were being purchased, land was being tightly held, and that the Combines and Trusts which had possession of the materials for the erection of homes were holding on to those materials, and taking the necessary steps to legally increase their profits. Up to that time it is well known -that the average cost of building a home ‘did not run into- more than £100 per room at the very outside. No sooner did the Commonwealth step into the business, and show that it was prepared to vote a large sum of money for this purpose, than the price of land increased, there was a slight increase in the cost of labour, and the price of building materials rose enormously. The result was that the average cost of a house very quickly jumped from £100, or thereabouts, per room to a very much higher figure. Houses soon became scarce and extremely costly. Many of those who before enlisting had been engaged in the building trade made the supreme sacrifice, while others, who had been apprentices prior to their departure from Australia, found on their return that they were not the skilled tradesmen that they would have been had they remained in Australia. There is no doubt that at that time there was a shortage of labour, but more especially in the building trade. Private contractors and the Commonwealth competed with each other, not only for men, but also particularly for materials. I had grave doubts then as to whether the Department should be permitted to purchase existing homes.- The purchase of an existing dwelling house does “ not increase the number of homes available. I quite agreed that the Commonwealth should discharge existing mortgages, and to that extent help the returned men to obtain their own homes; but when it became a question of purchasing existing homes the matter assumed a different phase, which assisted very largely to increase the price of housing accommodation. When the first Commissioner was appointed, he was confronted with the fact that in some of the States steps had already been taken, under arrangements made with the various State banks and other institutions, to construct homes, not only for the returned men, but also for other citizens who found themselves unable to provide their own requirements. He realized that those institutions objected, to some extent, to his entry into the field.’ I believe that at a later stage the Commonwealth decided to hand over large sums of money in some of the States. I think in South Australia nearly £2,000,000 was handed over to the Savings Bank, and the Commissioner ultimately retired from the business of building homE in that State. That would have, been a very,.good arran.gem.ent to make in the ;early stages. The same practice has been adopted in some of the other States. I have studied this matter very carefully from its inception up to the present time, and I am not at all satisfied with the progress that has been made. I do not wish to comment adversely upon the work of either Colonel Walker or the Acting Commissioner, Colonel Semmens. I contend, however, that better results should have been achieved, in view of the unlimited amount of capital the Commisson had at its disposal. I think that Parliament voted something like £20,000,000, or gave the Commission to understand that that sum was available. Very few restrictions were placed upon the officials. I think every honorable senator will agree that the number of houses which have been provided for returned men is not sufficient. Notwithstanding the number of houses that have been purchased or built, the scarcity in the Commonwealth to-day is as great as ever it was, rents are higher, and the overcrowding is more prevalent than it has been at any other period inour history. I desire to read to the Senate the following statement furnished to me by the Acting War Service Homes Commissioner, which shows the total number of War Service Homes provided up to 30th June, 1923 -
Taking into consideration the large number of unemployed in Australia, and the vast amount of money placed at the disposal of the War Service Homes Commissioner, it is a deplorable condition of affairs to find that the total number of homes built for returned soldiers is only 7,966,. and that a very large amount has been spent in purchasing houses already built. I have tried very hard to secure a return showing the total number of applicants for housing accommodation, but I regret that I have not been able to get that information. I should like to know how many applications have been received in the various States. When we remember that about 400,000 men voluntarily left these shores to go to the Great War, and that many returned desirous of securing homes, I think we can naturally assume that a great number have not been satisfied in this regard.
– Although 400,000 men enlisted only 300,000 left Australia, and only 240,000 came. back.
– No doubt a large number of those who returned were anxious to obtain homes for themselves, yet with the very large sum placed at the disposal of, first, Colonel Walker, and later, Colonel Semmens, only 21,238 homes have been provided for them. It represents an effort which must be absolutely unsatisfactory to the soldiers. Had the matterbeen placed in the hands of a competent firm of builders and architects, every man who desired a home would have had one long before this.
– Where would the skilled labour have been secured?
SenatorGRANT.- There may be a temporary shortage of bricklayers at the present moment.
– There has been a shortage for five or six years past.
– When a start was made to build Canberra, the Commonwealth Government refused to pay the fares of bricklayers from Sydney to Canberra, and they were told that when bricklayers were scarce they would have to pay a little higher wages. I am glad to say that the Government have been compelled to do so. At the time of which I am speaking, it was considered right to pay the fares of permanent officers going to work at Canberra, but it was considered wrong to pay the fares of workmen. I am glad to say that that stage has past. Undoubtedly, there has been, for a year or two, a temporary shortage of bricklayers, but a complete revolution has taken place in the building trade. Up-to-date buildings in Melbourne “and Sydney, costing hundreds of thousands of pounds, are now being built of reinforced concrete. It is not necessary for those who are employed on reinforced concrete work to serve the long period of apprenticeship that a bricklayer must serve to become a competent workman. I disagreewith those who say that a competent bricklayer can be turned out after, two or three months’ intense training. It is an occupation that requires a very long and careful course of tuition. Any man can put in rough inefficient work, but the untrained person who takes on the task of building a house will find that it will tumble down long before he gets up to the first story. While there was a temporary shortage of bricklayers and one or two other classes of men engaged in the building trade, it was not as serious as some people would have us believe. To the end of June, 1922, no less than 46,504 applications were received for War Service Homes, but as up to date only 21,238 have been provided, of which number only 7,966 have been built, the housing difficulty has not been greatly minimized by the operations of the Commission.
– I call attention to the state of the Senate. [Quorum formed.’]
– By an examination of the report furnished by the War Service Homes Commissioner, I find that the total number of houses provided, to the 30th June, 1922, was 19,145. Consequently the total number purchased and built within the past twelve months has not exceeded 2,093. The progress is altogether too slow. It is not giving the men who fought for this country, and who are entitled to homes, a fair deal. Some time ago I brought a case under the notice of the Commissioner. The applicant was very anxious to secure a home.
– I call attention to the state of the Senate. * [Quorum formed.]
– This applicant was anxious to live in one of the salubrious localities near Sydney. He wished to purchase, an existing home at Coogee, a choice locality, where the value of the land is very rapidly increasing. He selected this suburb partly because he wished to have the benefit of seaside life, on account of the state of his health, and also because the excellent tramway service maintained between Sydney and Coogee would have enabled him to travel to his work with a minimum amount of discomfort. The Commissioner complained that the frontage of the block was too small, and the depth too shallow. The block measured 33 feet by 120 feet. As a matter of fact, the Commissioner was empowered under the original Act to purchase areas of such dimensions, and he was given authority to subdivide land into blocks of any size, he might desire. When the original Bill was under consideration, I endeavoured to prevent the subdivision of land into blocks of less than 32 perches in area, owing to my objection to very small frontages. Many homes, however, are to be seen in the suburbs of Sydney on smaller blocks than the one to which I am referring. Although the Commissioner refused to purchase this allotment, he was willing to build a home in an outlying suburb where gas and sewerage were not available. I could cite a number of similar cases. The financial aspect of the War Service Homes administration might very well engage our attention for a considerable time. The original Act made- the sum of £20,000,000 available, and during the time it has been in operation, two Commissioners have held office. The expenditure to which they have committed Australia is as follows: -
The repayments to date in respect of interest, rents, sales, and miscellaneous receipts amount to £3,977,499, leaving a balance outstanding of £13,045,408. To a very large extent the trust reposed in the ex-soldiers will be honoured; but there is one phase of the matter that should not escape attention. We were informed by the Minister who introduced the Bill that the losses that have accrued amount . to £1,103,088, and that the estimated further loss is £525,808, making a total of £1,628,896. That amount, I take it, is not included in the total expenditure of £17,022,907. If private contractors had made a loss of that magnitude they would have had to go through the Insolvency Court long ago. I am aware of some of the difficulties that have confronted the Commissioners, and I hope that as time goes on every possible assistance will be given to the officer now in charge of the Department. With the resources of the Commonwealth at his disposal he ought to be able to do very much better work than has been done hitherto
We have been told that to the sum of £1,628,896 already mentioned, representing losses accrued and estimated, the amount of £541,488, which has been taken from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, must be added. It did not occur to me at the time the original Act was passed that any money was to be taken from the Consolidated Revenue for the purpose of administering it. This goes to show how carefully such measures should” be scrutinized before they finally receive our approval. I suppose it is intended that in future the administrative costs of the Department shall be met from the Consolidated Revenue. I do not object to that course being followed, for we cannot be too generous to the returned men. Excluding administrative costs, the total average cost of each home works out ‘at £801, which is not excessive when every factor in connexion with building to-day is taken into account. If the amount of £541,488 for’ administrative costs is added, the cost of each home is increased to £825 ; but even that is not a very large sum to pay for a home. If we add to that total cost the losses estimated and accrued, the average cost is then brought up to about £900.
– The losses are included in the amount of £17,022,907..
– I accept that state-; ment. It leaves the average cost of each home at £801, which is certainly a very reasonable figure. If the amount appropriated from the Consolidated Revenue is also taken into account, the average price is only £825. I should like to know why the South Australian Government, working through the State Bank, has been able to provide homes there at an average cost of £646 18s. 3d. I fail to see why it should be possible to build more cheaply in Adelaide than in any other part of the Commonwealth. I should also like to know why the Government entertains the idea of limiting the Commissioner’s tenure of office to three years. Some time ago the Government . was opposed to the appointment of a Commissioner for a short term, and the tenure of office was fixed at seven years. The proposal now is to make it three years, and it is one of which I approve. When considering the question of whether the Commonwealth Government should be liable for the payment of State taxation the Government decided that in certain cases Commonwealth property should be taxable by the States, but in connexion with the War Service Homes that policy has been reversed, as it is intended to exempt the Commissioner from the payment of any State taxes in respect of any unoccupied property owned by him. I do not agree with the principle of giving the States the right to tax Commonwealth property, . but at the same time I should like to know why a change has been made in this connexion, particularly when we recall what was done quite recently, in relation to Cockatoo Island Dockyard. It was provided in the principal Act that the cost of homes, including the land, should not exceed £700, but it was subsequently decided to increase the amount to £800. I do not think the figure is mentioned in this Bill, but there is an important clause which, if adopted, ‘ will possibly necessitate increasing the cost of homes, as the Commissioner is to be given the power to _ add the cost of sewerage, water and gas services, which will amount in some cases to probably £100 or more. We ought to have some information on that point. It is an exceedingly objectionable, offensive, and utterly wrong idea to give the Commissioner a right to charge against the cost of the land the value of constructing roadways necessary to provide access to a dwelling. It would be decidedly advantageous if the Government entirely separated the cost of con- *structing roadways and streets from the value of the land. I do not know what is done in the other States, but iri New South Wales, owing to. the extraordinary attitude of some aldermen,, and probably in consequence of the provisions of the Local Government Act, the construction of a roadway or street is regarded as an improvement, and the cost is added to the unimproved value of the land.
– Does not the making of a roadway add to the unimproved > value of the land fronting it?
– I do not regard the street as part of the la*nd, and I cannot agree with Senator Payne’s contention that the cost of constructing a roadway should add to the unimproved value. If an energetic land speculator acquires land worth £20 an acre, at which price it is valued by the local authorities, surely no one will suggest that if the owner constructs roadways or pathways through the estate,he should be compelled to pay a higher tax, which is imposed not once, but annually. In Committee, I shall endeavour to move anamendment to prevent the Commissioner from adding to the cost of the land the value of work performed on street construction. Another peculiar feature of the Bill, and one which ought not to be countenanced, is the provision which makes it retrospective to 1919. Retrospective legislation is always exceedingly dangerous, and the Honorary Minister (Senator Crawford) has not explained why this unusual course has been adopted. It is also proposed, under clause 2, to amend section4 of the principal Act by omitting the definition of “ dwelling house “ and inserting instead the following definition: - “ ‘Dwelling-house’ includes: -
The definition of “ dwelling house,” which it is now proposed to insert, is identical with that originally embodied in the principal Act, and I cannot understand why it is being re-introduced. Generally speaking, I favour the Bill, and shall endeavour during the Committee stage, without in any way attempting to delay its passage, to amend it in the directions I have indicated. Parliament should support the Commissioner in order that he may, so far as is within his power, erect as many homes as passible. I am glad that it is. the intention, in effect, to cease purchasing homes, and thereby to enable those for whom provision is being made to receive a fair deal. The enormous rents returned soldiers have to pay, and the manner in which they are crowded into unsuitable localities, aresuch that this Bill is not only necessary, but ought to be passed into law as soon as possible.
– I fully expected that the debate on this important Bill would be continued by a Government supporter. Senator Grant has closely studied the provisions of the Bill, and has suggested certain directions in which he thinks it ought to be amended. There is no doubt that he has analyzed it, and referred to previous legislation in a way that has enlightened honorable senators. In another place this Bill was not allowed to be discussed. It is a class of Bill that personally I do not like discussing. Because it was “ guillotined “ in another place, I have received a sheaf of proposed amendments to it. Every mail which arrives from New South Wales includes for me matters with which members of another place were not able to deal. These come from the Soldiers’ Welfare Associations and other people, who ask me to endeavour to insert amendments which should have been made in another place.
– The Returned Sailors and Soldiers’ League accepts the Bill as satisfactory.
– I have not the slightest doubt that the Soldiers’ Leagues anywhere could be induced to accept the Bill as satisfactory. I shall move these amendments, so that honorable senators may be made aware of the views of at least some soldiers. The Soldiers’ Welfare League at Rockdale sent me a lengthy communication, informing me that it had forwarded amendments to Mr. P. McDonald, in another place, and, as he had been prevented from moving them, itasked me to endeavour to have them incorporated in the Bill. Clause 3 of the Bill proposes to reduce the term of appointmentof the Commissioner from seven to three years. I do not know whether there is any good reason for that, for if we have a good man the more permanent his position the better. The question therefore arises, Have we the right man for the position? Whenthe original Bill was before the Senate, I said that the salary of the Commissioner could hardly be too high. I have very much respect for the first Commissioner as a gentleman and a soldier, but I am sorry to say that he did not make a success of the Department.
– Does the honorable senator think it would be possible to obtain the right man for £1,000 a year?
– There are thousands of men in this country who are mot getting £1,000 a year who could have done quite as well as those who were placed in charge of this business. The trouble in making all appointments where the salaries are big is that it is the habit of Governments to go to certain people of position, standing, and .influence in the community, instead of to the ranks of -the workers, where the brains are to be found. Among the workers they, would be able to find the right men. They go, instead, to men who have a “ pull,” or a claim. For instance, a lieutenantcolonel would be chosen in preference to a private who applied for the same position.
– We had a lieutenantcolonel in Western Australia who was formerly a sleeper hewer.
– I hope the Government has at last found the right man.’ I have never indulged in any captious criticism of the construction of War Service Homes. I foresaw the difficulties and dangers, and I endeavoured to impress my views upon the Senate; but very few honorable senators at that time seemed to see any difficulties. It was a matter of voting money for soldiers, and it was thought that if the money was freely voted all would be well. All has not been well in the construction of War Service Homes. There are a number of reasons for that, but the chief one is that the basis upon which the community exists is wrong. The basis of this community is private enterprise, and as soon as the Government announced that it would spend untold millions in building soldiers’ homes, the leaders of private enterprise got to work, and said, “ We will make a few thousand pounds by getting possession of the things the Government will require for the buildings.” I give the Government credit for its good intentions towards the soldiers. Immediately its building programme was announced, the timber combines, the brick combines, and business men belonging to every section of the community, took care to corner supplies.
– And yet the Government did not use its own timber mills.
– I am prepared to say that that was due also to the “ pull” and interference of private enterprise. Although timber to-day is cheaper than it was twelve months ago, it is twice the price it was before the war. The announcement by the Government that it was about to build a large number of homes gave speculators in timber an opportunity to put their heads together, and, without considering the men who fought, they determined to get their reward. They did get their reward. The houses that are being built to-day for £700 could have been built before the war for £500. That is not an over-statement. In every State we have seen an enormous rise in the cost of building materials.
– The honorable senator knows the reason for the rise in prices.
– The principal reason is the curse of combines created for the purpose of making extortionate profits.
– The rise in the price of timber is due to the conditions existing all over the world.
– No condition can justify ‘a rise of 100 per cent, in the price of American Oregon or New South Wales hardwood.
– The honorable senator can buy hardwood to-day at almost pre-war prices.
– If the honorable senator will tell me where, I shall buy a considerable quantity of it. It is double its pre-war price in Sydney. Judging by the utterances of certain classes of people on such occasions as Anzac Day and Empire Day, with their love and admiration of the soldier and the Old Flag, and everything else thrown in, one would think that when there was a chance of doing a good turn for the soldiers, every one of them would go out of his way to do it. Instead, however, of the War Service Homes being built on fair business lines for £500 or £600, they are costing UT to £700 or £800. That is principally because the flag-flapping, soldier-praising section of the community is making extortionate profits out of the business. I do not blame them.
– Wages in the building trade are 50 per cent, higher than they were before the war.
– Wages are a little higher. While under our present system a few people can combine to raise the cost of living, I am proud to think that we have sufficient organization among the workers to enable them to combine also, and obtain enough to live on. That is, in fact, all they do obtain. The in» crease in both wages and the cost of materials is due to the same .cause, to the power-holding class getting possession nf the means by which the people live and exist. Wages have been chasing the cost of living all the time. The” tradesman is getting 24s. to-day where he was receiving 12s. twenty years ago. That is because the -section of the community which can command the things upon which he lives has such a grip of them that it requires 30s. to buy what could be bought for 20s.. a few years ago. If the worker ever slackens his grip on unionism, Australians, free as they claim to be, will find themselves ground down to a level they have not previously reached. By the public utterances of these people on the occasions to which I have referred, one would assume that they would be anxious to do everything possible for the soldier, the soldier’s widow, and the soldier’s orphan. After they had obtained their profits on bricks, timber, ironmongery, and everything required for the building of War Service Homes, they took a further “ cut “ out of the constructional work, in which direction there have been some very grave scandals. When honorable senators on this side attack those who have been making money out of the soldiers by selling them houses on bad pieces of land, there is always some one who will defend them. I shall always be found attacking them. When the Government put forward . its proposals five years ago, for housing returned, soldiers, one would have thought that every man, woman and child would have co-operated to make the scheme a complete success: I do not usually favour harsh measures, but I would have court-martialed, by the rank and file of the soldiers, those who have been guilty of the crime of profiteering, and I would not care how extreme the penalty was. It is a great scandal that the men who took so many risks, and came back wounded and crippled were subjected to exploitation by this powerholding section which combined to secure possession of the materials necessary to erect soldiers’ homes.
– Does the honorable senator contend that the saw-millers in Australia make as much profit to-day as they did before the war?
– The Timber Combine in New South Wales has probably driven out of the trade many wellmeaning saw-millers. If the honorable senator is not aware that a Timber Com bine exists, he does not move about with his eyes and his ears open. This rotten system is taking it out of almost everybody. Even the combiners themselves find that some other combine is levying toll upon them. It is a wicked system. The Government of the day received generous support from the Opposition when it introduced its War Service Homes legislation. One might have been pardoned for thinking that the millen*nium was close at hand, and that the Government was prepared to do the right thing by the soldiers. Do honorable senators- think that that has been done? I do not.. I am a builder by trade. I went to the opening of the first soldier’s home in New South Wales. Some very nice speeches were made. After the function I saw Colonel Walker, then Commissioner for War Service Homes, who had been present. I said to him, “ I do not want to say anything about that cottage, but in my opinion, the man has been charged £200 too much for it.’’. I asked him to send one of his most competent officers to take out the quantities, estimate the time necessary to erect the building, and see whether a fair deal had been given to the soldier. A little while afterwards, I received from Colonel Walker a letter stating that he had had the matter attended to, and that one of his most competent officers considered that the house had been erected at quite a reasonable cost in view of the high prices that were then ruling. I had built similar cottages in pre-war days, and I calculated the amount for which that cottage should have been erected. Because he had tq increase his capital outlay by the extra £200, the soldier was saddled with an additional £10 per year in interest. The profiteer has been lifting up prices everywhere. As soon as prices are lifted to a certain level, their whole weight falls upon the shoulders of those whose burden should be lightened.
– When the carpenter and the bricklayer received an advance in wages to 26s. per day, were they profiteering?
– I think that 24s. per day is the average rate of wages for those artisans in. New South Wales. Bricklayers and carpenters receive that wage because it costs them as much to live.
– Houses cannot be built to-day for the price at which they could be built before the war.
– I realize that. Fortunately for the bricklayers, the carpenters, and unionists generally, they also have a combination sufficiently strong that, no matter how high prices are lifted, they receive a sufficient wage to enable them to live. I desire to impress on the community the inequity of the. present system. A sympathetic ear is lent to complaints that soldiers are being victimized by exploiters, but no notice is taken of such complaints when they are made on behalf of the ordinary indivi-dual. Unionists have never asked the Arbitration Court to grant them more than, a living wage. I agree that the wage today is about twice what it was twenty years ago. It will not, however, purchase twice as much, because other commodities have risen correspondingly in price. A bricklayer who rented a house before the war for 12s. a week is now paying 28s. The complete outlay of the owner of that house has not been increased, yet he is getting a return which is more than 100 per cent, in excess of that which he previously got. Can honorable senators justify increases in the rents of dwellings that were built before the war! The soldiers’ houses were built during a period of inflated prices. Some persons say that high rents are due to the keen demand that exists for houses. I am quite aware that if there were two houses for every person who desired to become a tenant, the present rents would not be obtainable. That, however, is not the case. The Government started out to build houses for soldiers, yet in five years only 8,000 have been erected.
– Do not forget that each farm on which a soldier was placed had a house erected on it.
– I do not think Senator Elliott will deny that the house? are being built at such a slow rate that most of the soldiers will die of old age before they occupy them.
– In Victoria as many houses were built as. the labour available would allow.
– It is only during the last six or seven months that there has been a scarcity of artisans. Even now the scarcity is only temporary. Never in our history has there been such a wicked and successful attempt at exploitation as that which was witnessed as soon as it became known that a number of soldiers’ homes were to be built. Instantly there was a combination of those who controlled the building materials, and the prices rose to such an enormous extent, that the soldiers will be compelled to carry a heavy burden for the next forty or fifty years. That is the gratitude which was displayed by private enterprise towards those who fought so well for it. It is exactly what I expected. I realize that the exploiters are the most loud-mouthed on the platforms on Anzac Day and Empire Day. Senator Elliott wears his honours modestly. He does not go out waving flags and boasting of what he did. But when one finds oneself alongside a member of the profiteering class on a platform and attempts to tell the truth, one finds that an attempt is made to stir up public anger. When we attempt to tell the truth, we are termed disloyalists. I can, see nothing in the Bill which will prevent exploitation in the future. Senator Foll pointed out that forests and saw-milling plants have been purchased by the Commission. Who prevented their working? Timber of first-class quality could have’ been obtained cheaply from these valuable forests. Amongst the returned soldiers there are men who would have worked the mills profitably. Their services should have been enlisted in order that the mills might be worked instead of being allowed to remain idle.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 jj.m.
– When I mentioned that I had received communications from the War Service Welfare Association in New South Wales, some honorable senators seemed to doubt my word. Among a number of letters that I have received, is one from the Bexley No. 1 Branch, which is located in a suburb of Sydney. It asks that I should endeavour to delete the provision making the measure retrospective to March, 1919. I also have a request from the Grand Council of the Association pointing out necessary amendments, so that honorable senators will realize that the Bill should be very carefully considered in this Chamber. It is wrong in principle to back-date legislation. If the Government finds itself in a difficulty it should overcome the trouble by means of amending legislation. Clause 8 of the Bill reads -
After section eighteen of the Principal Act. the following section is inserted : - 18a. - (1) The Commissioner may, with the approval of the Minister, enter into an arrangement -
– The object is to allow an advance to be made for those services and to spread the repayments over the same period as those respecting the’ dwelling-house itself.
– Exactly. But if a soldier has contracted for a house at £700, I do not intend to assist the Government to back-date legislation, so that it may be able to charge him £750 or £S00.
– Only if the soldier receives those services.
– What about cases where these services already exist?
– The extra charge would be made only where there was a written contract that .the extra services should be paid for.
– The statement by the Minister makes me suspicious. The danger in ante-dating this legislation is that a soldier may be asked to pay £750 when he thoroughly understood that his liability was only £700.
– Although he signed a contract to pay for the extra services when supplied?
– I should not care if there happened to be a few soldiers who would receive that slight advantage.
If so, they would simply be getting a small concession in return for the high cost of their houses owing to the maladministration of the Department. There appears to be a desire on. the part of the Government to get some money back from the soldiers.
– That eis not the position.
– I am glad to hear it, but honorable senators should question every point that is open to doubt. I have reasonable grounds for doubting the necessity to- back-date this provision to 1919.
– Does the honorable senator think that the Government would take advantage of a legal point?
– I, at any rate, am not prepared to take advantage of a technical point and back-date this provision. Owing to the inflated cost of building, a house worth £500 now costs £700, and I do not intend to assist the Government in increasing the charge for a soldier’s house to, perhaps, £750 or £800. There may be cases where the Government can quite clearly show that roadmaking and other improvements have added to the cost. In Committee, I intend to propose the deletion of the provision for dating this legislation back to 1919. I shall not assist in passing legislation which will mean that a returned soldier who undertook to purchase a property for., £750 will be compelled three or four years afterwards to contribute an amount which will increase the price. This Bill should be beyond party cavil dr party question, and I promise that I shall not move any amendment which has not been submitted to me by some returned soldiers’ organization.
– Even at the risk of the soldiers losing the benefits conferred in the Bill ?
– There is uo chance of their losing them, because the Government, their supporters, and honorable senators on this side of the Chamber are only too willing to see that they get fair treatment.
– The honorable senator should not overlook the fact that time is limited, and that any amendments adopted in the Senate will ‘have to be considered in another place.
– That may be so, but the honorable senator should remember that the Bill came before the Senate only late this afternoon.-
– The soldiers are anxious that it should be passed as soon as possible.
– No doubt. They want everything in a hurry.
– The soldiers’ organizations are satisfied with the Bill.
– Even if they are, I do not think the honorable senator has the right to say that there are not members of some branches who think amendments necessary. ‘
– The official body has said that this is all it wants. I have been assured of that by the official representative of the League.
– Quite possible. I am only saying that I have been requested to move certain amendments. It is my duty also to see that the legislation passed is fair and in the interests of all. The mere fact of ‘ Senator Elliott saying that the Returned Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Imperial League of Australia if satisfied does not relieve me ‘of my responsibilities. There are a number of clauses in the Bill which require grave and serious consideration, and if legislation is to be rushed through, it is only natural that mistakes will occur. Probably, the representatives of the League who considered the Bill did not compare its provisions with the sections in the principal Act. 1
– They assisted in drafting the Bill.
– One or two may have done so, but the great bulk of returned soldiers have not had the opportunity of making a close comparison. I had to secure a copy of the original Act to see in which direction it was being amended.
– The League speaks for the soldiers just as the honorable senator speaks for his constituents.
– I do not think it does. Although I represent 300,000 electors in New South Wales, I do not think Senator Drake-Brockman would have the temerity to suggest that I speak for the whole of the people in that State. No doubt, Senator Elliott, Senator DrakeBrockman, Senator Cox, and Senator Sir Thomas Glasgow imagine that they are the representatives of the soldiers in this
Chamber. They are nothing of the kind. They are representatives of the wealthy and privileged class and, judging by their utterances in this Chamber and the votes they record on different measures, one is right in assuming that their interests are those of the class to which they belong.
– All of whom have risen from the ranks.
– The trouble a that they have not remained in the ranks. They imagine that their titles and commissions entitle them to speak on behalf of the soldiers. If they had remained in, the ranks fighting with the men whom they so bravely led, they would, perhaps; have been able to render better service.
– The honorable senator has not remained in tha ranks.
– I am as much in the ranks of labour as ever.
– The honorable senator should concede the same consideration to us.
– I would, if the speeches and votes of these honorable senators would justify me in so doing. On all occasions when class legislation has been under consideration they have voted as one man against the masses.
– And!, so do the members of the honorable senator’s party vote as one man for one class.
– Ours is not a class. We represent the whole community.
– I voted with the honorable senator on one occasion.
– If the honorable senator did, I doubt very much whether I was in the right. The honorable Minister stated that 8,000 houses had been built in five years, and I think that he said that about 14,000 more had been purchased. If the present rate of construction is to continue some men will be fifty years of age before they are in possession of a home of their town. Why cannot we expedite the rate of building ?
– Because skilled labour is difficult to obtain.
– If I were placed in charge of this business, I would provide constant employment for every man who fought at the war in constructing War Service Homes, and I would not care whether he was earning his full day’s pay or not. I would be satisfied in knowing that the work, was in the hands of men who had served.
– “What would the homes cost?
– I would not care what they cost. Some one has to foot the bill, and if any one is to derive benefit it should be those who made great, sacrifices. There are thousands, of unemployed soldiers all over the country, and if a system is introduced under which the work will be expedited, I believe there is sufficient loyalty and comradeship amongst returned soldiers to enable them to work with skilled men, who, I know, would give them every chance. There is a bond which links these men together, and it cannot be said that construction has been delayed because there is an absence of skilled labour. -I shall not delay the Senate longer, but when in Committee I shall move the amendments which I have mentioned.
Senator Grant (By leave). - I desire to make a personal explanation. During the . course of my. remarks on the second reading I stated that the number qf applications received by the War Service Homes Commissioner up to the 30th June, 1922, was 46,504, and that I had received certain information from the Secretary to the Commissioner. In effect, I claimed that I was unable to secure from the Department the number of applications received up to the present time. I have since ascertained that the gentleman with whom I was conversing on the telephone was not the Secretary to the Commissioner, and, in justice to that gentleman, I wish to correct an inaccurate statement.
.- I do not wish to enter into a discussion of the merits or demerits of .the clauses in the Bill at this stage, because whatever information is desired will be supplied in Committee. I am satisfied that the object of the Government in introducing the Bill is to improve the conditions of returned soldiers. After consultation with the representatives of the returned soldiers’ organizations, the Government have drafted a Bill which, if passed, will remove a great many anomalies which now exist. Notwithstanding what Senator Gardiner has said, as to the injustice Which will be done to some, I feel confident that the Honorary Minister (Senator Crawford) will be able to show that the honorable senator is wrong in his assumption, and that no one will be penalized. I rose particularly to deal with one particular aspect of the question, in the interests of the returned men, who should have substantial homes constructed as cheaply as possible. I am quite satisfied that the operations of the War Service Homes. Department, from its inception, have not tended towards that object being attained. The Department has had offered to it, more than once, a means by which good, sound, substantial buildings can be erected at a lower cost than the buildings which have been provided. The main cause of high building costs is not the high prices of materials, but the scarcity of skilled operatives. Every year the number of skilled bricklayers, carpenters, and other artisans decreases, and the army of unskilled labourers grows larger. That increase in the number of unskilled labourers has greatly aggravated the unemployed problem recently in the city of Melbourne. The suggestion was made to the War Service Homes Department a long time ago that, instead of confining its operations to the building of weatherboard and brick houses, it should ascertain whether concrete buildings could be erected more speedily and cheaply. Some time ago, the Department arranged with certain gentlemen to go to New South Wales and erect a number of shells of homes - that is to say, walls and chimneys - in ferro-concrete. The plant was obtained and operations were started. I have seen those homes, and I make bold to say that they will stand comparison with any homes built by ‘the .War Service Homes Department. The ferro-concrete house is cooler in summer, and warmer in winter, than a brick house, and is at least quite as, if not more, durable. The shells of the fifteen houses erected in New South Wales cost £167 0s. 5d. The same type of building in brick costs £218 18s., representing a saying of £50 on. each home, by using ferro-concrete. These figures are official.
– What about painting the walls afterwards ?
– That has no bearing on the subject. It has been proved, beyond the possibility of a doubt, that a five-roomed dwelling of ferro-concrete can be built for £50 less than a similar dwelling of brick.
– The honorable senator is talking only about the walls.
– The roof and fittings of a f ferro-concrete house cost slightly less than those of a brick house. We hear a great deal about the delay , in providing War Service Homes. It is said that applicants are waiting for months for their turn, and they have no prospect of being provided with a home in a reasonable time, because there is not sufficient skilled labour available in the building trade. A bricklayer or a carpenter cannot be made’ in a day; and if there are only 100 carpenters available in a certain town, and 500 could be employed in building War Service Homes, only one-fifth of the homes can be undertaken at one time. For ferro-concrete buildings a supervisor is necessary, and he is easily obtained, because an intelligent man can be trained to become an efficient supervisor in a few weeks under the system of using steel boxes for the sections. All the labour required for building the walls and chimneys can be supplied from the ranks of the unskilled labourers. If that were done the unemployed problem would disappear entirely. I am confident that if the Minister will give serious attention to my remarks, and will refer to the information on the official files, he will be astounded that the opportunity offered two years ago was not seized by the Department. If it had been, I have no hesitation in saying that hundreds of thousands of pounds would have been saved. Not only would a much larger number of buildings have been completed, but there would not be the outcry that there is to-day from disappointed returned soldiers who cannot obtain homes. I shall be very pleased to provide honorable senators with an opportunity to look through the album I have in my possession, containing photographs of the plant used in the erection of the homes and of the different types pf homes. One photograph shows fifty homes erected by the Electrolytic Zinc Company in one of the suburbs of Hobart. There are also photographs of numerous houses, ranging from War Service Homes to palatial residences.
– There are hundreds of those homes in. Sydney.
– I was on the spot when the first batch of War Service
Homes was completed on this system at Belmore. I believe that seventy-nine’ have been erected in Sydney under this new system.
– It is only one of many systems.
– I am not advocate ing any particular system. If we can erect a comfortable, durable building, which is as good as those constructed of brick, and save £50 in the process, we ought to provide that class of building in the interests of the soldiers of the country. If I had not spoken on the motion for the second reading, I should not have had an opportunity of referring” to this matter. I offer no apology for having brought it under notice. I hope the Honorary Minister (Senator Crawford) will bring my remarks under the notice of the Minister in ‘charge of the Department.
., - Senator Payne has one panacea for all evils, and especially for the evil of unemployment. If the apprenticeship question were settled in the way Senator Payne would like to settle it, there would, he says, be no unemployment. Senator Payne’s idea of increasing the proportion of apprentices to journeymen means, in plain English, cheap labour. Whenever in my experience here’ the honorable senator has addressed himself to any subject relating to employment, he has reiterated that there are not sufficient apprentices allowed for the number of journeymen. If the example set by the State which that honorable gentleman represents was followed by the rest of Australia, the wages of artisans would be poor indeed. There would, in fact, be no tradesman at. all. It would be a “ catch as catch can “ method, and any man who could lay a brick or put a slate on a roof would be allowed to do it.
– Any one who can throw a brick, let him throw it! The honorable senator is throwing bricks now.
– I have a very bad hand, and I would need a very good eye to hit the honorable senator. I would not, however, waste a brick by throwing it at him. I am speaking of the laying, not the throwing of bricks. The trade unions are protecting the boys who are apprenticed to the different trades. If Senator Payne’s son was apprenticed to a trade he would like that boy to be protected as other apprentices are. Senator Payne. - If I had a son at the present moment, I could not get him apprenticed to a trade.
– That is not correct. If there is not a trade to which the son can be apprenticed that is the fault of not the Labour party but the Governments that have been supported by Senator Payne in the Tasmanian and Commonwealth Parliaments. Senator Pearce interjected while Senator Gardiner was speaking that the men employed in the building of War Service Homes were receiving 50 per cent, more to-day than before the war. I am aware that Senator Pearce is an eminent carpenter, and I believe that if he were engaged in building houses instead of attempting to force Bills through the Senate he would grasp with both hands that 50 per cent, increase. Even though carpenters are getting that extra wage it must not be forgotten that they are paying 75 per cent, extra for their living. The wages of workmen have to go much higher before the increase will equal that which has taken place in the cost df living. It is idle for any honorable senator to place on the shoulders of the men who are building the homes the whole of the blame for the extra cost that is involved. The man who occupies a soldier’s home will not be fairly dealt with if the Bill is passed in its present form. Senator Gardiner pointed out that the original contract provided for an advance of £700, and it is now proposed to make the amount £750. Honorable senators forget the bungling that has taken place in connexion with the War Service Homes administration. If that bungling had not occurred there would have been no need for this retrospective legislation. The men who went away to fight for Australia are being asked to pay more for their homes than they should pay, because of the fact that for a number of years combines have been operating. We should say that the price will be £700, and we should not attempt under any conditions, by retrospective legislation, to pin the soldier down to another £50.
– No such attempt is being made under this Bill.
– I presume that the honorable senator has read’ the Bill. If it is passed in its present form the occupant of a War Service Home will be penalized to the extent of an additional £50. Will Senator Drake-Brockman explain that?
– If the honorable senator honestly desires information, I shall be glad to give it to him. If he is merely “ stone-walling,” he does not draw me.
– Senator DrakeBrockman has accused me of “ stonewalling,” and I ask that he be made to withdraw the remark.
– The practice in the Senate is that if an honorable senator regards as offensive anything that is said about him, the honorable senator who makes the observation withdraws it. I ask Senator Drake-Brockman to withdraw the remark.
– I am only too pleased to withdraw at your instigation, Mr. President, although I think that the honorable senator has not quite fairly stated the position. I said that if he honestly wanted information, I should be pleased to give it to him, but if he were only “ stone-walling “ I would not be drawn.
– The honorable senator said that I was “stone-walling.” If he does not see fit to withdraw the remark in a gentlemanly way, I shall let the matter stand at that.
– The honorable senator has withdrawn the remark.
– If I were to withdraw a statement in a similar way I should be asked by you, sir, to withdraw without equivocation.
– Order ! The honorable senator may not dispute my dictum. Senator Drake-Brockman withdrew the remark.
– With a qualification.
- Senator DrakeBrockman said that the position was not quite as the honorable senator represented it to be. That was not a qualification of his withdrawal.
– I shall let it go at that. If I were in a similar position, you, sir, would insist upon my withdrawing unreservedly.
– Order ! That is a reflection upon the Chair, and I ask the honorable senator to withdraw it.
– If I tell the truth must I withdraw iti
– The honorable senator is making his conduct more offensive by those remarks.. I ask him to withdraw.
– I withdraw everything, and return to the stone-wall mentioned by Senator Drake-Brockman. If Senator Drake-Brockman had not made the interjection I should by now have completed my speech.
– I ask honorable senators not to interject. Senator Needham is entitled to be heard in silence.
– We, on this side, are endeavouring to assist the Government to make this a perfect Bill, and to reach the end of a very imperfect session. When Senator Payne tells me that unemployment is due to the fact that the Trade Union organizations of Australia have dared to combine to protect themselves and their principles; and when Senator Pearce tells me that the men engaged in the building of houses are today getting 50 per cent, more than they were getting in pre-war days, I .emphasize the fact that every man who to-day is- assisting in the construction of these houses, is earning every penny he gets, and that even that amount is not sufficient to enable him to keep himself and his family. It is well known that the exPrime Minister, Mr. W. M. Hughes, appointed a Royal Commission to inquire into the basic wage. That Royal Commission comprised representatives of both the employers and the employees. When it unanimously decided on the basic wage, the Government refused to put its recommendation into operation.
– The same Commission said that it was wholly impracticable to give effect to its recommendation.
– That is not a fact. That was a foot-note by Mr. Piddington, as the result of pressure exerted by Mr. W. M. Hughes. That foot-note did not represent the considered opinion of the members of the Royal Commission. If the other members had had a chance to consider Mr. Piddington ‘s memorandum, it would not have caused them to alter their original recommendation. Very few men in Australia to-day are receiving the basic wage which that Royal Commission recommended.
– If it were paid it would have the effect of closing down the whole of the industries of the country.
– I remember the time when Senator Lynch was an advocatebefore the Arbitration Court’ in Western Australia, and used very effectively theargument that, if an industry could not pay proper wages, it should close down.If the honorable senator will allow his; mind to travel back along the halls of memory; and will read the speeches which lie then made he will realize that I. am now ‘ speaking the truth. The Commonwealth has not reached the stage when it is necessary to close down all building operations in connexion with soldiers’ homes. The Commonwealth of Australia is not a languishing industry; it is a very virile entity, and it can afford to treat these men in a more generous spirit.
– Some1 critics of the Bill seem to be under the impression that the erection of War Service Homes is very much in arrears. They will,’ doubtless, be somewhat surprised - and, I. hope, pleased - to learn that these building operations are quite up to date inevery State except New South Wales, where they are two or three months in arrears. Having regard to all the circumstances, I do not think there is room for very much complaint. It must be remembered that several thousand homes, have been erected for soldiers in con:nexion with another branch of the activities of the Repatriation Department, and that is land settlement. In one district in my State very nearly 1,000 homes have been erected on land settlement areas. It is not correct to say that only 20,000 soldiers have been provided with homes. The purchase of existing houses has been carried out at the instance of the soldiers themselves. Many soldiers were offered homes which they considered were suitable, and made application to the Wax Service Homes Commissioner for the neces- sary funds to be advanced to enable them to purchase. I desire to reply to the re- marks made by Senator Payne with reference to ferro-concrete construction. While that honorable senator was speaking I interjected that the soldiers chose the material from which their homes were to be constructed. They certainly have shown a decided preference for either brick or wood. There is nothing “in the Act or the- regulations to prevent soldiers who desire to have concrete homes from obtaining them”. The soldier is entirely free to make his own choice.
– Have they an objection to concrete homes?
– They have not expressed a preference for them. If they did, they would secure them, provided that the accommodation could be given at a price within the amount set down in the Act.
– The Department knows that these houses could be constructed at a lower cost than brick dwellings.
– A couple of contracts were let to a firm for the erection, not of complete homes, but merely the shells of houses, and the remainder of the work had to be done either by day labour or under a separate contract. The Government has already decided that no soldier shall be charged a higher price than that stipulated in the Act. The provision to which Senator Gardiner took exception has been inserted, not with the idea of charging more for these homes than the amounts originally agreed upon, but for the purpose of authorizing the Commissioner to make certain additions and improvements which could not be made when the houses were erected. In some cases they were built at a time when there was no public lighting or sewerage services. The other points raised by honorable senators can be better dealt with in Committee. The representatives of the soldiers themselves have expressed com- plete approval of the measure. Senator Gardiner questions the competence of the executive of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia to express an opinion regarding theBill; but I should say that the men who have had practical experience of the operation of the Act should be the most competent to speak as to the effect of its provisions, and to say in just what respects those provisions should be amended. I hope that the Bill will be given a speedy passage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Definition of dwelling house).
– In view of the similarity between the definition in the clause and that in the principal Act, why is there a necessity to amend the existing definition ?
– The section in the principal Act is considered to be somewhat faulty. It is a definition, not of a dwelling house, but of a hospital or sanatorium. The amendment will remove any doubt there may be as to the application of the definition to a dwelling house.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 (Determination of cost of lots in subdivision of land).
– In this clause it is proposed to amend section 16 of the principal Act by providing that where land acquired by the Commissioner is subdivided into lots the Commissioner shall have regard to the size of the lot and its position in the subdivision, and shall apportion to the lot its share in the cost of draining, and making streets in, the land subdivided, but the total value so determined of the lots into which the land is subdivided shall not exceed the cost to the Commissioner of that land, together with the cost of subdividing, draining, and making streets in the land. In New South Wales it is the custom of the municipal and shire councils, and I am sorry to say of the Valuer-General also, to add to the cost of a block of land the cost of making a street on which it abuts. If, for instance, the value of the land is £20 per acre, and it is assumed that when the roads and streets are completed the value of the block is, say, £50an acre, it only requires a moment’s consideration for one to see that this is really a revival of the exploded idea that improvements should be taxed.
– We cannot regulate the methods by which municipal taxation is levied.
– No ; but we can charge the soldier a separate amount for such improvements made to his land. This should be a separate item, because it would be wrong to allow a soldier to be taxed year after year at a higher local rate than he would otherwise be charged, merely because a roadway has been made in front of his property.
– There is not a word about taxation in this clause.
– No; but the question of taxation will arise later on. I should like the clause to be recast in such a way that the cost of roadmaking will be regarded as a separate item, and not added to the cost of the property.
– When an improved property is sold, there is only one transaction.
– That may be so; but I desire the Minister to recognise the practice in New South Wales of increasing the tax on a vacant block of land when a roadway is made opposite it
– It would not have any effect. A valuation is placed on every piece of land by the official local Government valuator.
– That would, not make the slightest difference. It is dealt with in that way by the valuator because, when the vendor sells it, he does not dispose of the land by itself, but adds on the cost of the roadway. If he sold the vacant land, and gave the purchaser a separate account for his share of the cost of the street or roadway, he would not be liable for an additional tax every year on account of the added value. I trust the Honorary Minister will have the clause re-drafted, so that an account of the cost of roadways or streets may be rendered separately, and be regarded as part of the improvements on the land.
– I cannot agree to the amendment suggested by Senator Grant, and, if I did, I am sure it would not have the effect he desires.’ The purport of this clause is to enable the Commissioner to sell land to returned soldiers at less than it cost, because there are instances in which land is not worth the price paid for it, and under the existing Act the Commissioner has to charge full cost. Under this clause - although not able to charge more that the cost - the Commissioner may, if he thinks the dost excessive or beyond the present value, reduce the price to the purchaser.
– The Honorary Minister (Senator Crawford) appears to have missed the point raised by Senator Grant. If the cost of road-making is added to the cost of land, particularly in New South Wales, where taxation is based upon unimproved land value, the purchaser is burdened for all timewith additional taxation. If a road were constructed through a subdivision, purchased for constructing soldiers’ homes, at a cost of £700. each, the price of each home would probably be increased to the extent of £100. If 400 yards of road cost £1,500, each of the cottages on that particular road would have to pay its share of that cost, which, in the event of ten cottages being constructed, would amount to £150, and that amount would be taxed by the local governing authorities. It should be made impossible “ for a returned soldier who has been in occupation for three years to have taxation imposed on that £150.
– Would not the improvements enhance the value of the holding?
– No doubt. I can quite understand some honorable senators saying that a soldier who is in possession of his house should be made to pay for it; but Senator Grant has shown that on thousands of homes increased taxation will be levied, because of the action the Government is taking. The Government, doubtless, is buttressed by the recommendations submitted by certain associations which say that the Bill is all right; but I join’ with Senator Grant in endeavouring to protect the interests of a large number of men in New South Wales. The honorable senator has shown very clearly that to add the cost of road-making to the value of an allotment is unfair, and will result in saddling returned soldiers with additional burdens. I am placing the responsibility on the Minister and the associations which have not, objected.
Amendment (by Senator Grant) put -
That the following words be added to subclause 5 - “ The cost of street making shall be apportioned and rendered as a separate account to each purchaser.”
Question put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 -
Section 18 of the principal Act is amended -
byinserting therein, after the word “erected” (second occurring), the words “but not including any cost incurred under section 18a of this Act”:
by omitting the words “the. next suc ceeding”: and
by inserting after the word “section” the words “nineteen of this Act”.
Paragraph (a) of sub-section (1) of this section shall be deemed to have commenced on the 6th day of March, 1910.
Section proposed to be amended -
The total cost to the Commissioner of any dwelling -house acquired or erected in pursuance of this Part, together with the cost of the land on which it is erected, shall not exceed £700:
Provided that where a dwelling-house is sold to two or more persons jointly under sub-section (1a) of the next succeeding section the total cost to the Commissioner may exceed £700, but shall not exceed the sum of the amounts which the Commissioner could have expended if a house had been sold to each person separately.
.- I move-
That the following paragraph be added to sub-clause 1: -
That amendment has been proposed by the soldiers themselves. It came to me from the Bexley No. 1 branch of the War Service Welfare Association, Regentstreet, Hurstville. I am in favour of these people having an independent board to which they can appeal in disputes be tween them and the Department. I have in my possession a copy of a letter, sent to the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Stewart), which makes some startling statements regarding the treatment of the returned soldiers. One case is mentioned in which a man has been proceeded against, and is to be evicted from his home. Thecause in this case is unemployment. I also wish to bring under notice the case of E. Eawkner. His case is as follows: -
This man has been out of work for months during the period of greatest depression since the memorable 4th August, and he has just restarted work, which is likely to be continuous. He has a wife and two children, and the Canterbury Court made an order for eviction. He now promises to pay 25s. weekly. The offer is to be made to-day to the Deputy, but he is threatened with arrest if 25s. costs is not paid by the 27th.
This illustrates the cases of hardship which come under the notice of the association, and there will continue to be cases of hardship which cannot be avoided. That is one of the reasons which induced the association to ask me to urge that provision should be made for an Appeal Board. I do not think that even among Government supporters there is any desire to deal harshly with a man who, through no fault of his own, cannot pay. I also recognise that undue leniency might spread the habit of not paying. I do not think that there is one person in the community who would be willing to put a man out of his home for no other reason than that he was unemployed.
– Is the honorable senator sure that the man referred to did not have a large number of boarders in his house?
– The war service homes built in Sydney would not accommodate boarders, unless they slept on the roof. The paper published by the War Service Welfare Association in Sydney cites the hard case to which I have referred. These cases should be dealt with by something more sympathetic than the ordinary Courts. If a man has not paid according to his contract, a magistrate has no option but to order his eviction. In such cases there ought to be a Board to take the matter in hand, and relieve the Minister and the Government from the necessity of dealing harshly with the defaulter.
– Would it not be desirable to have direct Ministerial responsibility without a Board for a buffer?
– It would lb excellent. Before it comes to a question of Ministerial responsibility, there is in many of these cases the necessity for informing the Minister so that he will be able to act with a full knowledge of all the circumstances. When a man is brought before a Court for not paying amounts due, the adverse evidence about him is given, and on that evidence he is evicted. The Court does not take cognisance of the fact that he is unable to pay because he has been out of work for several months. All the magistrate knows is that the Department has proceeded against him. A Board such as that proposed could provide for many hard cases which exist to-day, and for others which will occur in the future. It would make for the smoother working of the Act. I do not expect any better result from moving this amendment than was obtained in another place, where it was not allowed to be discussed. I ask honorable senators to measure it on its merits, and ito support it if they wish to benefit the soldiers.
– The Government cannot accept the amendment. I am surprised that Senator Gardiner should make such a proposal. On a number of occasions recently we have heard him speak very warmly against Boards, and now he proposes to create six of them. Boards were appointed in all the States in December, 1921, for the purpose outlined by Senator Gardiner, and they completed their investigations in June, 1922. On each of those Boards there was a nominee of the soldiers’ organization. The findings of the Boards did not give anything like general satisfaction to the soldiers. I think the proposal would make the administration of the Act more cumbersome. I can, without any hesitation, assure honorable senators that the Act is administered in a very sympathetic way, that the utmost leniency is shown to returned soldier owners df homes, and that no action is taken until the fullest investigation has been made. There is a right of appeal, first to the Deputy Commissioner in each State, then to the Commissioner, and afterwards to the Minister. Thus ample provision is made for appeal in cases where soldiers think there are good grounds for. it. I cannot see that the Bill will be improved by the amendment. There has been no general demand for these Appeal Boards. Senator Gardiner himself says that the request has been made by only a single sub-branch.
– I realize that the Minister gets one back on me when he- refers to the fact that I am generally opposed to Boards. Those that I have always * opposed, however, have been the highlypaid Boards, such as the Tariff Board, and others which trespass on the rights and privileges of Parliament, and stand between the Government and its responsibilities. The Minister says that such a Board ‘as this was in existence until 1922, thereby proving that somebody else believed that it could be of some use. I suppose that when it was abolished it was considered that the need .for it had passed. The persons who have sent along the request for this amendment have, no doubt, given a good deal of consideration to the need for such a Board. Not much sympathy is to be obtained from Government Departments when cases of hardship are brought before them. They take the line of least resistance, and adhere to the letter of the law, making no suggestions that may cause them trouble. What matters it to them if a man here and there is put out of his home ? They simply say, “ He has not kept up his payments and he -must, therefore, face the penalty.” The soldiers would look up to such a Board as this. It would save considerably more money than it would cost, and would lead to a smooth working of the Act.
Question - That the proposed new paragraph (Senator Gardiner’s amendment) be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … . . 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I shall now deal with sub-clause 2, which provides -
Paragraph (a) of sub-section (1) ofthis section shall be deemed to have commenced on the 6th day of March, One thousand nine hundred and nineteen.
This deals with the total cost of lands and buildings. The opportunity will be given to again value the land that has been taken up since 1919. I object to legislation being made retrospective. If difficulties have been created by the principal Act, the Government ought to introduce an amending Bill. It should not make its legislation apply, to anything that happened in the past. Quite a number of honorable senators believe that this is all right. I, however, consider that legislation of such a character as this, which dates back for three or four years the operation of an Act, is bad in principle and should not be tolerated by the Senate. It is not possible for any one to foresee what cases will be affected by this proposal. I hope the Minister will tell us the purpose of the sub-clause. I want to be quite sure that it will not adversely affect any one who is already in possession of a house.
– The purpose of the sub-clause to which Senator Gardiner objects is to legalize what has already been done in connexion with the provision of lighting, sewerage, etc. These services are regarded as something in excess of what was provided for the statutory limit of £700 in the original Act. These services were provided under separate arrangements with the soldiers.
.- I am obliged to the Minister for his explanation, but I think that the matter should be carried a little further. The Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Stewart) was asked in another place whether the clause was to operate retrospectively in regard to houses, where electric light, road making, and such services had been provided, and the Minister replied “No, provided the applicant did not agree in the first place in writing to the price covering these services.”
– The charge should be made where the soldier with his eyes open agreed to pay for these additional services.
– I maintain that a soldier would have in mind what the maximum cost of his dwelling was to be, and I shall not be a party to back-dating this legislation in order to make soldiers responsible for what they did not expect to have to pay. The Government now advances the excuse that the soldiers may have agreed in writing to pay for the additional services, but if they had signed agreements which could not previously be legally interpreted to cover the extra amount, I do not feel inclined to agree with the proposal to make this provision retrospective.
– Perhaps I have not been sufficiently explicit. A number of homes were erected at the full cost allowed by the Act, at a time when it was impossible to provide sewerage and lighting services. Subsequently, when these services became available, specific contracts were made with the soldiers for their provision. The extra cost was not included in the general contract for the erection of a home, but a separate contract was entered into. This was very necessary, because under the Act the soldier obtains his home on the rent-purchase system, and he cannot borrow on the property, and a municipality or a company will require some security before furnishing these services. The Commission, “therefore, undertook responsibility for the payments, allowing the soldier to make repayment over a period of years.’ This clause gives statutory authority to what has been done in many cases at the express wish of the soldier as declared under a separate and specific contract.
– Senator Gardiner professes constant solicitude for the returned soldiers, and scarcely gives honorable senators on this side of the Chamber credit for the slightest interest in the returned men. The original cost of, say, £700, was to cover land and buildings, but there was a collateral agreement with respect to improvements, such as roads, lighting, water, &c. The soldiers themselves rightly acknowledge that they, and they alone should pay for these additional services, and Senator Gardiner, in seeking to benefit these men, is going too far, because there is a power inherent in all local governing bodies to levy such conditions upon property owners as will compel them to pay for such services in a very short space of time.- Under the Government’s proposal, however, the payments are extended over a period of . thirty years or so. If it is possible to conceive of a clause drafted in the soldiers’ interests, this one certainly is. The soldiers do not ask that they should enjoy these services at the expense of their fellow citizens. The clause places them in a much better position than they would be in if Senator Gardiner had his own way
– In addition to sharing the argument advanced by Senator Lynch, I cannot agree with the suggestion of Senator Gardiner that the soldiers did not understand the agreements when they signed them. I have a higher opinion of the intelligence of the returned men than the honorable senator evidently has. I cannot support the amendment. . <
– I still maintain that many a soldier would sign an agreement for a house to cost £700 without bothering his head about details. Even if “he agreed in writing to pay for the extra services, he probably did’ not realize at the time exactly what the agreement meant. The main fact that he would have in his mind when, signing the agreement would be that the cost of the house was not to exceed the statutory limit, whether it was £700 or £800.
– The extra services are to be charged for only where there have been separate agreements.
– If that is so, «this clause should not be made retrospective. Returned soldiers who acquired homes were in some cases informed that the total cost would not exceed £700,- and it is quite possible that the purchasers , would have sufficient “confidence in those with whom they were dealing to sign an agreement, believing that no additional expenditure would be involved. Instead of under-estimating the intelligence’ of. the purchasers, as Senator Kingsmill suggests, I believe in this case it has been a question of the returned soldiers overestimating the confidence which should be placed in officers of the Department. Senator Lynch does not appear to. understand the purport of my amendment.
– The honorable senator does not wish this provision to be retrospective.
– If agreements have been entered into, they should be honoured, and if there is occasion to indemnify men from further liability, a Bill should be introduced for that specific purpose.
– There ‘ cannot be statutory authority unless it is provided in this form.
– If a case should go to Court, it would be useless to submit a mere Ministerial statement as evidence; the Court would be guided by the Act. If a man were brought before the Court for refusing to pay the cost of road making, it would be useless saying that the law was intended only to apply in certain cases ; but in this provision we are making it apply to all. I have a very clear conception of what is of benefit to a returned soldier, and I am so clear that, in moving for the deletion of these words, I ‘am not taking any risks. I have already stated that my object is not to make the provision of the Bill apply to those cases where specific agreements have been entered into. If we are to legislate in this way, we may ‘confer benefits upon a few, but may possibly endanger the rights of a number, and, if that ‘is the intention, I object.
– The Government have written off £200,000 in cases where Appeal Boards found that* returned soldiers were not getting value for their money.
– Spasmodically, even this Government can be generous, and the interjection of the Minister shows that we should proceed with great caution. Senator Lynch was quite astray in imagining that I was moving for the deletion of a portion of the Bill that would prove of value to any one. I cannot see that any advantage will be gained by making the provision retrospective, which may mean that thousands of men may be brought to law, when Senator Lynch and I cannot be called as witnesses. It will be the cold, hard Act which will guide the Court, and nothing else.
Amendment (by Senator Gardiner) - That sub-clause 2 be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 8 -
After section 18 of the principal Act the following section is inserted: -
This section shall be deemed to have commenced on the 6th day of March, 1919.
– Does the clause mean that the Commissioner, with the approval of the Minister, may enter into certain arrangements with special authorities or municipal bodies?
– With those whose function it may be to supply the services required in areas where they are essential.
– Services may be required in areas where there are other than soldiers’ homes. I should like to know if it is the intention of the Government to make roads in such areas, and, if so, will definite arrangements have to be made before the work is proceeded with?
– The Commissioner will have to guarantee the payment of his share of the cost of such services.
– Those occupying War Service Homes in what may be termed a mixed area will be charged the same rate as other property-owners.
– They will be allowed a longer period in which to pay.
– That will be an advantage.
– Unless the Commissioner guarantees the payment, public bodies or companies will not install the services.
– I read a statement made by returned soldiers to the effect that in one district the Commissioner had promised to undertake the construction and maintenance of a road which in winter time was impassable, and thus a controversy had arisen between the Commissioner and the local governing body. No decision had been reached.
– This provision is to overcome that difficulty.
– Then I have no objection to the clause.
– I wish to invite attention to sub-clause 2 of this clause. It appears to me that with a very small alteration it could be made to convey the idea which I wished to engraft on clause 6. It should be made quite clear that accounts for water, gas, and other services should be rendered separately to the purchaser. The local councils ought not to be encouraged to place excessive taxation on soldiers’ homes, and they ought to be prevented from taxing improvements. It is not usual to impose heavier taxation on land because it is connected with a water supply or a gas service, but the cost of road-making is generally added to the cost of the land. I suggest that the Minister should agree to amend the sub-clause by inserting the word “ separate “ before the word “ charge.” The cost of a road is sometimes as much as £1 per foot run, and that is a substantial addition to the cost of the site.
– The Government cannot accept the suggestion.
– I would like to move it as an amendment, but in view of the decisions already arrived at, it would be futile for me to do so.
.- I move-
That sub-clause 2 be left out.
The arguments which I used on a previous clause apply equally to this. I shall press the matter to a vote, because I wish to place on record the names of all honorable senators who wish to make this provision retrospective for four years.
– This amendment is exactly the same as that moved by Senator Gardiner to the . previous clause, and. all I said in opposition to it on that occasion applies with equal force in this instance.
Question - That sub-clause 2 be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Will the Commissioner under this clause have absolute discretion as to the period over which the repayment for services shall extend? Could he spread them over a very brief period?
– The discretion of the Commissioner is not restricted in any way. The period over which the repayments are spread may beas long as the repayments of the principal loan, and may be -shorter. There may be cases in which the applicant would desire to pay back the money in less time than is allowed for the principal repayments. Some arrangements have been made for shorter periods than ten years.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 9 agreed to.
Clause 10 (Only one house to be sold to each eligible person).
– What does this clause really mean ? It says that “ The Commissioner shall not, except with the approval of the Minister,” erect more than one dwelling house,&c. It would seem that the Minister could give his approval to the erection of more than one dwelling house for a person coming within the scope of the Bill. If it means that, I do not approve of it.
– The clause is designed to meet cases in which an occupant of a War Service Home moves from one State to another. He may sell his first home, and seek approval to build a new one. That often happens to Commonwealth servants.
– If that is the meaning of the clause, it is a wise provision.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 11 (Advances to all eligible persons to be in respect of one property only).
– Has this clause a similar application ?
– This clause deals with houses that are purchased, the preceding clause deals with those which are erected by the Commission.
– I hope that as many homes as possible will be erected, because of the acute shortage that exists at the present time.
– That is the policy now. Only in special cases are the houses purchased.
– Some time back houses which were already erected were purchased in large numbers. Whilst that was a convenience for the returned men, it was not a convenience for the general community. I hope that the policy will be not only to satisfy the returned men, but also to relieve the acute house shortage that exists by erecting as many houses as possible.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 12 and 13 agreed to.
Section proposed to be amended -
– What is the maximum amount which can be advanced for the purpose of a soldier’s home?
– Where is that made clear ?
– In the principal Act. Under the original Act the amount was £700, but an amendment was made increasing it to £800 at the discretion of the Commissioner.
– I move-
That the following words be added to section 28a of the principal. Act, after the word “ pounds “ : - “ But in no case shall the price charged to the soldier exceed the actual cost to the Commissioner of the dwelling house and land, and any cost incurred under section 8 of this Act.”
If those words are added it will prevent the house and land from being saddled with the cost of road making.
– That conflicts with portions of the Bill which the Committee have already passed, providing that the cost of lighting, sewerage, and road making may be added to the cost of the building.
– I ask whether the amendment is in order. The Committee has agreed to provisions under which the cost of making roads, connecting drainage, water, gas, &c, may be charged to the applicant. It is now proposed that the cost of those services shall not be added to the cost of the dwelling house.
– That difficulty is got over by the words in the amendment reading, “ and any cost incurred under section 8 of. this Act.” If the amendment is carried the Government will not be able to charge the soldiers more than the house costs. It wants to charge as much as it . can get. I feel quite sure that the amendment will not be accepted, and the Bill will empower the Government to charge more than the actual cost of the land, the building, and the services provided for in clause 8.
– Even if the amendment is not carried the Commissioner will have no authority to charge more than the cost of the land, the buildings, and the other services mentioned.
– I rule that the amendment is in order.
Question - That the words proposed to be added (Senator Gardiner’s amendment) be so added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority …. … 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.-
Clauses 15 to 19 agreed to.
Section 36 of the principal Act is amended -
Amendment (by Senator Gardiner) proposed -
That the following new, paragraph be inserted - “(c) by inserting the following words after the word ‘ thereto ‘ . in paragraph(b) of sub-section (1) -
Provided that before action is taken under this section the purchaser or borrower shall be requested to state the reason for the arrears, and, if considered satisfactory, the Commissioner shall have power to suspend action.
– If that is so, there is ho harm in making it Statute Jaw.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 21 agreed to.
Clause 22 (Immunity of Commissioner from certain rates under State law).
– I am not enthusiastic over the right of the States to tax Commonwealth utilities; hut why has the Government changed its front, seeing that a short time ago it decided to make the Cockatoo Island Dockyard subject to State taxation? It is only fair that the same policy that is applied to the returned soldiers should be applied to the Cockatoo Island Dockyard.
– It is only when the land is unoccupied, and is not revenue producing, that it is to be free from State taxation.
– I quite understand that it is intended that, when the Commission buys land that it is unable to dispose of, the taxation should not be levied. The Commission now owns land worth £439,778 on which it pays no taxation. It is asked that it shall continue to pay no tax, and that the provisions shall be made retrospective to the 6th March, 1919. I see no reason why the Commission should not pay the tax just as a soldier does.
– The Minister in charge of one measure advocates a certain principle with respect to taxation, and another Minister adopts an entirely different principle.
– This land is not used for trading purposes, as the Cockatoo. Island Dockyard is.
– The Government shouldbe consistent. Commonwealth lands should not be subject to taxation by inferior bodies. As the operations of the Commonwealth Government extend, I quite realize that it may be very inconvenient for many municipalities to be prevented from taxing Commonwealth property ; but the principle is a sound one.
– If this clause were not embodied in the Act, there would be two or three years’ rates added to the cost of the land, and the soldier would have to pay it.
– Honorable senators opposite have added as much as they can, so that a little extra, such as is to be imposed in this instance, will not make much difference. I have moved amendments to relieve the occupiers of War Service Homes. It is amazing to find that while, the Honorary Minister (Senator Wilson), who represents the Country party, introduced a Bill in relation to the Commonwealth Government Shipping; Line, in which provision is made for Cockatoo Island to be taxed by the municipal authorities, the other Honorary Minister in this Chamber (Senator Crawford), who represents the Nationalist section of the composite Government, has submitted a measure in which it is provided that land held by the War Service Homes Commissioner shall be free of municipal taxation. The worst feature of legislation of this character is that municipalities where they have power to tax will eventually decide that they may place whatever impost they like on Government property. In this instance I am not offering any opposition to the proposal.
– This provision is not altogether an undisguised blessing.
– If the honorable senator is in the unusual position of having no objection to offer, why not allow the Bill to pass, and thus benefit the returned soldiers, whom he says he is anxious to assist?
– One would imagine, to hear the interjection of the honorable senator, that careful consideration had been given to the Bill, which is not only being rushed through this Chamber, but which was not even considered in detail in another place. According to a report furnished on the 30th June, 1922, the Commissioner held £439,778 worth of land which was not being utilized. The Commissioner when purchasing land in and around various towns and suburbs realizes that he has not to pay taxes, and is therefore in a position to pay a higher price than any other buyer. That means a direct gift. to the vendor.
– In the future, the Commissioner will not be able to speculate.
– He has done so in the past, and it is desired to exempt him from taxation. I do not oppose the principle, but merely point out that it is not the undisguised blessing which some appear to think.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 23 (Power of Commissioner to enter land and take his property).
– I should like to know why these extraordinary and extremely drastic powers are to be conferred upon the Commissioner ?
– This is a protective provision.
– It seems unusual, and I do not think a similar provision will be found in any other Act of Parliament. Unless some satisfactory explanation is given by the Minister, I am not prepared to support the clause in its present form.
– As I have already stated, this is merely a protective provision. A similar section appears in the Lands Acquisition Act, but it cannot become operative in connexion with War Service Homes activities; It is considered necessary that the Commissioner should have this power ; and, while it gives the right of entry, provision is made for the payment of compensation should any damage be done.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 24 and 25 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment. Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through its remaining stages without delay.
– Even at this late hour I am loath to interfere, for even a minute, with the business of the Government. ‘ The Senate met at 11 o’clock this morning, and although some of the amendments which have been ; considered in Committee may have been debated somewhat tediously, Ministers cannot claim that there has been any wilful obstruction. The Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) has now moved the suspension of the Standing and Sessional Orders to enable the Bill to be passed v through its remaining stages without delay, which means that this important measure shall be disposed of in one sitting. In the ordinary course of events, honorable senators would have had time to give further consideration to its provisions, and, if necessary, to speak on the third reading. After all, we are only human, and I ask the Leader of the Government if he is not deliberately inflicting a very heavy and unnecessary burden upon those honorable senators who are endeavouring to do their duty. It is the intention of the Minister before we rise to move the first and second readings of the Appropriation Bill, which is the most important measure that comes before Parliament, and then to carry it to the Committee stage. There ought to be a commonsense rule of dealing with the work of this Parliament, and seeing that we have been sitting for ‘more than twelve hours, and that there has not been anything like organized opposition, the Government should meet us. Although the Minister may have been somewhat impatient, I can only repeat that the amendments I have submitted and debated in connexion with the Bill just passed, were forwarded to me by recognised organizations, the members of which considered them to be of great importance. If the Minister (Senator Pearce) attempts, at this late hour, either to prevent honorable senators from speaking on the first reading of the Appropriation Bill, or to compel them, on the motion for the second reading, to discuss many matters of great importance to their constituents while they are in practically an exhausted condition, I shall take it as an open declaration of, war to the knife, and he will find in me a most relentless opponent. There is a limit to all things, and surely the Minister should realize that the abuse of patience leads to fury. The motion which he has moved gives me a further opportunity of voicing my protest against conducting business in this manner. He has no cause to complain of the attitude of the Opposition. On Friday he publicly expressed his thanks to the Opposition, and to-day two Bills have been passed without undue delay or opposition on our part. When the honorable senator asked me on Monday, in the unfortunate circumstances that prevented our conducting business on Tuesday, to meet at 11 o’clock this morning, I readily agreed. Having now sat continuously since 11 o’clock this morning, with adjournments only for lunch and dinner, it is “a long way over the odds “ for the Minister to try, by a sheer test of physical strength, how far we can go. His unreasonable persistence will have a boomerang effect, on not only himself, but also the party which supports him. I am not in favour of the suspension of the Standing Orders at nearly 12 o’clock at night, and after a twelvehours’ sitting. There are some honorable senators who would pass every Bill without discussion. There are some who think that we should get through the business without debate, and that the Government is all right. I hold that the Government is far from right. From the point of view of my electors, it is very far wrong. I welcome it getting into recess. It will do less harm in recess, looking after administrative matters, than it will do iri conducting the business of Parliament under the conditions of to-day. Personally, I do not complain. I have a little of the spirit expressed by Senator McDougall when he said, “ If you want to do business this way, go on day and night, and finish it off.” I can stand as much fatigue as most, people, but I shall probably pay the penalty for it later. The Minister is not justified in placing this strain upon us. Since the Senate met this morning, I do not think I have been out of the chamber for more than five minutes, and to ask me, after a continuous, strenuous, and close application to the business of the Senate for twelve hours, to discuss the question of Supply, upon which 1 particularly want to speak, is to ask me to do more than I am capable of doing. If Ministers and honorable senators persist in that kind of thing, we shall make it unpleasant for them in the not very distant future. We have done a -reasonable day’s work. If the object of suspending the Standing Orders was to pass this Bill, I would not say anything about it, but I protest because I know the Appropriation Bill will come next, and then three or four other important Bills. I suggest that the Minister should make his second-reading speeches on those Bills, and his firstreading speech on the Appropriation Bill, and then give us the right to discuss them under fair conditions. I cannot do justice at this later hour, after applying myself to every line and every clause of the Bills that have gone through to-day, to the most important legislation of the session. I take this as a declaration of war from the Minister for Home and Territories and those supporting him, and I promise him that when war is declared there will be no quarter given, either to individuals or parties. We shall make it unpleasant for those who find other means of enjoyment, and while we are here the public will know of it. The war will be unrelenting, such as we have not had for some time. The pleasant conditions which I have laid myself out to bring about in the conduct of this Senate will end if the Government tries to force me to do the impossible. . We have seen men break down under the strain, but the Minister simply says, “ Government business must be continued.” I do’ not, want to be driven into an attitude of ill-feeling towards any ‘ honorable senator. I shall continue to voice my protest, and use all the means the Standing Orders give me, to see that effective opposition is put up bo designs of this character.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) has been anything but fair to the Government in the remarks he has just made. I intended on the first reading of the Appropiation Bill to indicate to the Senate the business with which the Government desired the House to deal, and to some extent to outline the order in which Bills should be passed. When the honorable senator asked me what I proposed to do, I indicated to him the Government’s intentions. He proposed that we should be content to pass two or three purely machinery Bills which, in the ordinary course of business, would be disposed of in an hour. He suggested that that should be a day’s work, knowing quite well that the effect would be to make it impossible to dispose of business which has to be dealt with before the end of this week. In that event the honorable senator would claim the kudos of having blocked the Government. He is unfair to the Government in another particular, for there has never been a session since the creation of this Senate when so much time has been made available for the discussion of the financial proposals of the Government. Every senator who wished to speak on the motion for the printing of the Budget-papers was given, not only his full time, but often an extension of time. Yet the honorable senator would make it appear that’, because I am asking that the first reading of the Appropriation Bill should be taken to-night, I am doing something to deprive honorable senators of their full opportunity to criticise the financial proposals of the Government. If Senator Gardiner will recall what has been happening during the last few weeks he will see that his criticism is not justified. I do not wish to say anything about the proceedings of to-day, because if I did I should transgress the Standing Orders. Senators on this side who have curbed their desire to speak share my opinion about some of the speeches that have been delivered. It will be quite possible this week to give every one ample time to debate the Bills that we desire to pass, and which I shall shortly outline, but not if one honorable senator gets up repeatedly and reiterates the same arguments. The Senate has already had a full opportunity to deal with the general financial proposals of the Government, and all it is asked to do now is to discuss those financial proposals in detail.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Motion (by Senator Crawford) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– Unfortunately for honorable senators on this side, the Government has held a caucus and has explained to its obedient following that no amendments of any kind are to be agreed to from now until the end of the session; that they have to take whatever the Government give them, and dare not vote against any measure. The organization and discipline of the Caucus are so excellent that that course has been adopted. I cannot, therefore, complain if this report is adopted. It is regrettable that the interests of the country are handled in this way. There is no doubt that the Caucus system is most pernicious when it is carried as far as the Government is carrying it. The Labour party has a rule, which is never departed from, that it is not required to vote as a party on any matter outside the party platform. The Government Caucus has robbed honorable senators opposite of their consciences. Realizing that the Government has made up its mind Chat its followers shall swallow thirty-six Bills in thirty-six hours, it would, perhaps, be wise for us to let them do it as quickly as possible. I hope the time will come when those who have sacrificed their consciences to their Caucus will have meted out to them the justice which they deserve. In Committee the details of this Bill were worked out with a great deal of care, but no honorable senator can follow a Bill when the clauses are so worded as to entail the hunting up of the provisions of the original Act to ascertain the manner in which the proposed amendments will operate. We will be departing froma wise system if we adopt the report forthwith. I have many times voiced my disapproval of short cuts. Senator Lynch looks at me as though he would question my right to speak at this stage, despite the fact . that during this session he, as an individual senator, has up to the present time occupied a greater amount of space in Hansard than I have as Leader of the Opposition. I advise the Senate to keep to the well-blazed track along which safety lies. I view with alarm and concern the indifference with which men of mature judgment are willing to depart from the course which their forefathers found to be good and wise. In new systems there may be dangers of which we have no knowledge. Is it worth while physically exhausting honorable senators in order to get business through in this way? If the report is adopted to-night it will prove very difficult to make an alteration should it be found that a mistake has crept into the measure. I realize that the officers who drafted the Bill are perfectly satisfied with their draftsmanship, that the Government is satisfied with its officers, and that the supporters of the Government are satisfied with the Government. No matter how many mistakes are discovered in the future, they will accept the responsibility for those mistakes. If I were as subservient to the Government as honorable senators opposite are, I should suggest that the Standing Orders be amended to enable Bills to be passed without debate. It would be a simple matter to let the Government accept full responsibility for their measures.
Question - That the report be now adopted - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
discharge from military forces : Report of Select Committee.
. -I bring up the report of the Select Committee appointed by the Senate to inquire into the discharge of Warrant Officer J. R. Allen from the Australian. Military Forces, and I move -
That the paper be printed.
– Mr. President
– There can be no discussion on a motion to print a report from a Select Committee.
Question - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 12.15 to 1 a.m.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and Bill (on motion by Senator Pearce) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a first time.
I desire to make a brief statement in regard to the business to be transacted. There are before another place the following Bills which the Government desire to pass this session : - Tariff Board Bill, Wool Tops Agreements Validation Bill, 1 Income Tax ^Compensation Bill, Taxation of Loans Bill, Wheat Pool Advances Bill, Air Force Bill, Invalid and Old-age Pensions Bill, and Income Tax (Rates) Bill. In addition to the measures be- fore the House of Representatives there are before the Senate the following Bills which the Government also desire lo pass: - River Murray Waters Bill, Sulphur Bounty Bill, Customs Tariff Bill, Shale Oil Bounty Bill, Special Annuity Bill, Appropriation- Bill 1923-24, Loan Bill, and the Land Tax Assessment Bill relating to the taxation of Crown leaseholds.
– In what order are they to be taken?
– I cannot say at present, but we are now dealing with the Appropriation Bill, after which the Loan Bill will be considered. I have submitted the titles of sixteen measures, an examination of which will show that there are six which can be said to be purely formal. The Tariff Board Bill is not a measure of “great importance as it is merely extending the term of the Board for another year, and increasing the personnel by one member. The Taxation of Loans Bill is simply to provide that in future no loans shall be issued free of taxation. The Wheat Pool Advances Bill is to re-enact the Bill passed last year. The Air Force Bill does not contain anything new; it merely provides for the establishment of the Air Force on a permanent basis. ,
– Are the provisions of the Army Act embodied in it? ‘
– No. The Income Tax Bill is an annual measure under which the rates to be charged are imposed. Of the Bills before the Senate, the River Murray Waters Bill is solely to give effect to a technical amendment in the agreement existing between the three contracting States and the Commonwealth. The Sulphur Bounty and Customs Tariff Bills both deal with the duty on sulphur. The Shale Oil Bounty Bill continues the present bounty for a further twelve months. An examination of these measures will show that they contain nothing really debatable, and if introduced in a session of greater length, would doubtless pass both Houses with very little discussion. The other Bills are debatable, but there is still sufficient time for ample and fair discussion. In view of these circumstances, I believe honorable senators will admit that it is quite possible to give these measures proper consideration, and yet rise this week. We “propose to go on now with the first reading of the Appropriation Bill, and as honorable senators have had a- general discussion on -the financial proposals of the Government, I would suggest that we now get to close quarters with the Estimates, which can be more effectively dealt with in Committee.
.- May I be permitted to continue my remarks tomorrow t I have been closely engaged with the measures which have been before the Senate since 11 o’clock yesterday morning, and I am mentally and physically incapable of intelligently discussing Bills at this juncture.
– Let us get on.
– For some weeks past I have been obtaining considerable information in regard to defence and other matters which I thought were of sufficient importance to discuss before the recess. I have collected certain information from the highest authorities on general defence proposals, but if the Minister (Senator Pearce) thinks he can have his own way, I suppose that the constitutional parliamentary procedure, as we have it at present, will debar me from doing as I desire.
– The honorable senator has had several opportunities.
– I was not prepared when those opportunities arose. I shall, therefore, content myself by ventilating a few petty matters which have come under my notice in the ordinary way. A good deal has been said concerning immigration, and for the information of honorable senators I shall quote from the Adelaide News of the 20th August, 1923, to show what is happening on the other side of the world. The paragraph reads -
Criminal Given a Chance.
There is at present no effective way of counteracting the latest practice of English magistrates remanding undesirables so that they can be sent to Australia.
The latest case to come under notice is reported in the London Weekly Despatch of 26th February. The report says : Walter Tower, aged 20,. who was said by a detective in the Croydon police court to be crafty and overwhelmed with vanity, pleaded guilty to the theft of a dynamo worth £18. He had been in a reformatory, and had been sentenced for burglary, and his father informed the court that he had been in trouble all his life. The magistrate remanded him to enable him to go to Australia.
What the law of the Commonwealth says about it is that any person who has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of twelve months or over, and who has not served the sentence, cannot enter Australia. And if be has been sentenced to twelve months or over, and has served his term, he cannot enter, either, unless five years have elapsed since the sentence. If that five years has elapsed his case may be considered on its merits, and if it is shown that he is not a dangerous criminal and is likely to cause no harm he may be allowed to enter.
All this is in the Immigration Restriction Act, administered by the Customs Department.
But the Customs Department has no machinery of its own to carry this law out. It generally gets information about dangerous types of criminals coming to Australia, and is able to block them; but it has no means of picking out such undesirables as that lad from Croydon.
He cannot be classed exactly as a criminal, and would not be known well enough for the Customs Department to hear about him; but he is not the kind of youths we want out here, anyway.
– I am glad to have that assurance. I know the Minister so well that I realize that he always has an answer for any charge that is made; but I am not able to say that his statements are always correct. I brought the matter under the notice of the Minister because this paragraph has appeared in a London paper, and also in an Australian publication. Whether the writer i3 a “know-all” or not it is very necessary that attention should be called to such decisions, and the position is so serious that the Commonwealth Government should communicate with the Imperial authorities directing them to indicate to those who are administering justice in England, that Australia is not- to be regarded as a dumping ground for criminals. Personally, I take no very great exception to them. _ I realize that under our present system many a man who manages to make a fortune while keeping within the law is very little different from the one who gets a fortune by robbery - outside the law. The Minister’s statement that the Customs Department knew about this man and prevented him from landing is satisfactory.-
– The Department prevented him from leaving England.
– That is still more satisfactory. The parliamentary axiom that there shall be a redress of grievances before a grant of Supply has become a parliamentary fiction. No opportunity is given, owing to the attitude of Ministries, to voice grievances in this Parliament. The first and foremost grievance of the people of this country is unemployment. Thousands of men are unemployed, and neither the State Parliaments nor the Commonwealth Parliament is doing anything to alter that condition of things. The problem has existed -in other countries for centuries, and in this country since the early days. We are told thatsome men will not work. I have no doubt that some will not. I overheard Senator Grant saying that it was economically unsound that he, a mason, Senator Pearce, a builder, and I, a builder, should be employed here when we could be engaged in the more useful and productive occupation of “building. Parliament in the near future will have to face squarely and settle properly the unemployment problem. We have a number of people in this country who are fearful for the future defence of Australia. They say that the one thing necessary . for the defence of this country is population, and -that, as Great Britain has a surplus population, a large number of whom are unemployed, they should be brought to our vacant spaces. Much can be said for that argument from a defence point of view ; but can we . honestly say to the unemployed people of Great Britain, ‘ ‘ If you come to Australia you will be certain to get work if you are willing to do it”? We cannot. Are there not in this country millions of pounds worth of work that will have to be done sooner or later, and, on which the unemployed could be’ employed to their own and the country’s advantage? When the Labour Government was in power it did not tackle the problem of dealing scientifically with unemployment; but it did seriously endeavour to provide work for those who were willing to work. One example, of what it did is the East-West railway. That work was estimated to cost £6,000,000, and I think it was completed for an amount fairly close to that estimate, notwithstanding that when the war occurred its construction had not been completed. If that work had to be carried out to-day, the cost would be twice what it was when the Labour party undertook it. I can see in that action of the Labour party an immense economy to the people of Australia. Some people can see ho advantage in such a work, because it does not at present pay working expenses and interest on capital. Notwithstanding that, I hold that it was properly carried out by the Labour Government. In a few years it will be past the non-paying stage. One sees great strides made in the development of our cities within even the short span of one’s own life. Yet many people, instead of being provided with the best and most uptodate sanitary systems, are, in many cases, living under conditions not fit for savages. The work necessary to effect the improvements required could be carried out by the unemployed men who are walking our streets. The Government should apply itself, seriously to that problem. If a’ sufficient number of members of Parliament would become, interested in the scientific solution of the problem, it would be solved. It was said centuries ago that “The poor always ye have with you.” Because of that statement, some people think we are fated never to have a country without poor. I believe that we shall yet reach that stage of development when no man willing to do work he is capable and fit to do, will be able to complain that no work is found for him. The solution is quite simple. In the suburbs of Sydney, for instance, a large amount of sewerage work is still required to be done. Why cannot arrangements be made for that work, to be done by the unemployed? Its reproductiveness is beyond question. There is not in the mind of any one a suspicion that such work will not. give an ample return for the labour and money put into it. Is there a State in Australia where an active railway developmental policy could not be undertaken with advantage? Then there is the need for good roads to provide for the more scientific method of carrying goods by motor transport. Would not these things be profitable and reproductive to the Australian people? What, after all, is the difference between keeping a man alive unemployed and keeping him alive employed? When he is in employment he maintains himself and his family, but when he is unemployed, the maintenance of his dependants falls, if not upon the State, at least upon some one. They may be submitted to the spur of want every day of their lives, on the ground that it is really necessary to this competitive system of ours. I do not believe that it is necessary. I believe there is an evil in unemployment. When a man has tramped the streets day after day, and week after week, seeking for the right to earn a crust for his family, he loses some of his ‘manhood. The man who is in employment feels that those who belong to him are dependent upon no one but himself, and he renews his efforts week after week to earn the means of life for them. Suppose the best type of working man suddenly found that his capacity to earn a living had gone from him, the result would be moral deterioration. At the start he would take his unemployment as a matter of course. He would probably tell himself that he must take the bad with the good, and he would hope that something would turn up. Nothing would turn up, and he would begin to realize that he was being crowded out. During the first week he would probably be the first to hurry down to be engaged. The next week he would be more hopeless, and would let others get in front of him. The third week he would be so inured to the hardship that he would ask himself, “Is it worth while ? “ That sort of thing should not be tolerated in a country as new as Australia. The public men of Australia should seriously direct their attention to this problem, and declare that they will not permit this economic waste to continue. No man ought to be allowed to remain in public life who is indifferent to such a serious problem. Every city in Australia is confronted with ‘ the growing problem. It is a dangerous cancerous growth, which more or less affects every class of worker in the country. There is to be a change in the method of collecting taxes. What does that mean to the persons employed in the Taxation Departments? One aspect of the matter makes it neces-sary to adopt a better method for effecting savings in expenditure. What will happen to the public servants in the Taxation. Department? They are welleducated men who had to pass an examination of a high standard before they obtained their positions. Through no fault of their own, but merely because of achange in methods, they are to be thrown on the unemployed market. Already some of the ‘more alert and active are wondering what they will do when the change takes place. I have seen an estimate that 2,000 public servants will be affected. Some men are reluctant to make changes for the benefit of the State when such changes bring about a corresponding injury to many deserving people. Are we really seized with the seriousness of the position to these people who are affected ? I do not think there is, in the public life of Australia, a man who is so ill-natured as to wish to do any wrong to such people. * Unfortunately, however, in the public and the ordinary life of the community there are thousands of men who are so indifferent that they do not concern themselves with what happens to others. These are the everyday happenings to which we have grown accustomed by-habit and tradition, and we are not able to find a way out. We should find a way out. Private enterprise has not done so. Quite a number of persons, including myself, believe that private enterprise does not want to find a way out. The employer of labour thinks that it acts as a spur to a man if he is confronted with the fear of want. I think that under the system of private enterprise, it is possible that we have developed a type of man on whom fear of want acts as a spur to harder and more regular work. If that spur were removed - if every man were allowed to earn his own living when he w.as willing to do so, and when unable .to obtain employment were maintained under conditions similar to those he would enjoy if he were at work, it would not be very long before we would develop a community as superior to ours as it is possible for the mind of man to imagine. We would develop to its highest degree all that is best in human nature. Under the competitive system that which is worst in human nature is developed. I am determined to continue to deal with this question of unemployment until those who are responsible realize that it is their duty to find a permanent remedy for this evil, which is worse than war. We spend millions willingly in preparing for and engaging in war, but we spend very little in attempting to overcome the evils of unemployment, which are working havoc among our people. Fifty years ago quite a number of persons believed that the imposition of a high Tariff, by developing .industries, would be the means of finding work for a large number of persons. The Tariff has not yet had that effect. On the contrary, the higher the Tariff has been raised, the greater has been the unemployment. In March, 1920, the Australian Parliament passed the highest Tariff that has ever been imposed. It was estimated that at that time 16,000 persons were unemployed in Australia. Last year the number was 27,000. By means of this enormously high Tariff £30,000,000 a year has been taken out of the pockets of the people. The people have paid it in the belief that a greater amount of employment was thereby being provided. Had that been the result, in the last three years there would have been no unemployment, yet the evil has continued unabated. I can forgive those persons who say, “Do the work in your own country, employ your own people, and do not trade with outsiders. That is quite a feasible proposition if you shut your eyes to the fact that you cannot trade with outsiders unless you earn the wherewithal to trade. Then you are confronted with the problem of deciding whether a greater amount of employment is found by placing a high Tariff wall round your country than by inviting to your shores the ships of the world, and carrying on trade with the other nations. The question of unemployment will be solved when there is in- Australia a community which will realize that more work can be given to Australians by trading with the other nations of the* world. Then someone will come along and say, ‘ ‘Would you trade with the coloured races ?” Personally, I would; I would trade with every nation on the earth. The commodities that can be. produced, better in Japan than in Australia I would take in exchange for those which we can produce better, thus giving more employment to both our own and the Japanese people. I would adopt the same attitude towards China, United States of America, Prance, Italy, Germany, Great Britain, and all the other nations. Look at the immense fillip that would be given to trade if ships were continually carrying our goods to the other ports of the world and fetching back their products. We hear references made from time to time to the balance of trade being in our favour or against us. I venture the opinion that the balance of trade is like water, in that it find’s its own level- If this year we export more than we import, next year we will have a credit which will enable us to import to a larger extent. Every year our outside trade is regulated by the quantity of goods or products that we send away from Australia. The only method by which we can hope to successfully develop Australia is by cultivating trade with every nation. Unfortunately, in this Parliament, and particularly in this Government, there are members who will not even trade with Great Britain unless the British goods are subjected to a very high duty. On the very things that we require most urgently, the average duty is thirty to forty per cent., which amounts to a fine of from £30 to £40 on every hundred pounds worth of trade that we carry on with Great Britain. There are many persons who refer to Great Britain as “ Home “, because their fathers, their grandfathers or their great grandfathers were born in Great Britain. They were willing to fight for their homeland because they thought they were called upon to make that sacrifice. I venture to say that the world will applaud their action. They do not, however, display a willingness to trade with Great Britain, and enable her to employ her people in manu- facturing the things which we want, we in return sending our products, to her.
– There is every willingness to do that.
– With the restriction that they pay a duty .of thirty per cent.
– To make up for the extra amount which we have to pay our workmen.
– The payment of the workmen does not enter into the consideration of the matter. That fal- lacy was exploded a century ago. There is very little difference in the wage paid in manufacturing industries in England and Australia. Since the war the wages in the engineering shops in Great Britain have compared very, favorably with those paid in Australia.
– They have gone down with a slump.
– They may slump when there is unemployment. That unemployment is brought about by our refusing to trade with’ Great Britain. The slump hits us in the’ most tender place because most of the goods that we can send to Britain are the product of men who are not skilled tradesmen. Just as we limit that trade and throw out of employment the mechanics in Great Britain, to a corresponding degree we limit the employment in, Australia by throwing out of employment ‘ the nontradesmen. I said in my opening remarks that I had some serious proposals to put before the Senate. It is not, however, possible to bring them forward in the circumstances dictated by the Leader of the Government. I shall make a few brief references to the defence of Australia, because I believe that the Government should turn its serious attention to that matter.
– It has placed £2,000,000 into a reserve fund to deal with the matter.
– I feel sure that the effectiveness of our defence preparations cannot be measured by the amount of money we spend. I should read a recent report by General Chauvel if I had it with me. It is most interesting. My complaint against the Defence De*partment is that it will not follow the advice given by such recognised authorities as Generals Sir John Monash, Sir
Brudenell White, and Sir Harry Chauvel. In 1916 General Sir John Monash advised that recruits he sent to England immediately upon enlistment, because the training they were receiving in Australia was practically useless for service in France.
– Most of the staff with any great knowledge of training had then gone overseas.
– The training being given in Australia at that time was looked upon as obsolete for the purpose of . active warfare. I think that our troops are to-day being trained with the aid of the same text-books that were used before the war.
– The text-books were proved to be correct in most cases.
– They were found wanting in connexion with the siege or semi-siege warfare then being waged in France; but the general principles of the training in Australia, which was for war movements, still hold good.
– I am satisfied that our pre-war ‘defence preparations were of little or no value.
– They were very sound.
– Then why were our troops sent abroad for training ?
– Generals Sir John Monash and Sir Thomas Glasgow received their training in Australia.
– Yes. Without the aid of the Duntroon College, Australia turned out such men as Sir John Monash, Sir Brudenell White, Sir Thomas Glasgow, Senator Elliott, Senator DrakeBrockman, and Senator Cox.
-. - They might have been even better men if they had been through that College. The Duntroon boys were said to be- worth their weight in gold.
– I do not desire to be drawn away from the statement of General Monash that our troops should be sent to Great Britain for training in the conditions of modern warfare. He said that the training in Australia was practically useless. General Sir Brudenell White returned from the war with a policy for the training of Australian soldiers, and he should have been kept at the head of the Defence Department. What became of his scheme to give the troops eighty, days’ continuous training in camp? Did the fact that he left the Defence Department have anything to do with the recep tion, given to his proposal ? If it was a sound scheme, why was it not carried out ?
– The Labour party said that the officers cursed it.
– Instead of being allowed to carry out his scheme, he was transferred to the position of Chairman of .the Public Service Board, just at the time when he was admirably fitted to take charge of the Defence Department. The Labour party would naturally object to General White’s proposal, because its members are not a war-loving section.’ I can imagine a drill instructor teaching, say, sixty men - half a company - how to stand in a soldierly position with head erect, hands to the sides, fingers pointing downwards, feet at an angle-of 45 degrees, eyes open, and mouths shut. Then I can picture the same instructor teaching his squad to march in true military fashion, and upbraiding them for taking 110 steps instead of 120 in covering 100 yards. He then attempts to teach them to salute, and with the aid of a spirit-level he discovers that, in some instances, the forefinger is not in exact line with the eyelash. It is important, of course, that men should know how to salute a superior officer. I do not know how many hours are wasted in instructing men how to bring their heels together, to raise their arm, to salute, and to stand in a proper soldierly fashion. We have spent thousands of pounds in that kind of training, and are told that this system is necessary in the defence of .Australia. I know that Senator Elliott, for instance, would be most particular concerning the salute. We have reached that stage when we should adopt different methods of training our men. The instructors with whom I have come in contact know their business, but nowadays there is the good old system under which a man must occupy a position in society before he can obtain a commission. Commissions are granted whether an officer has brains or not; men have been granted commissions before they have even been asked to sit for an examination. The instructors are the men who have the brains, but they are not allowed to rise. The men who did the work in the last great conflict were not part and parcel of the Defence Department, because we organized a new army practically without its assistance.
– Many men rose from the rank of private to lieutenantcolonel.
– I realize that, unfortunately, during the war so many gaps were made in the commissioned staff that there was room for thousands of men to rise, and Australians were not Blow to take advantage of the opportunities which were presented.
– There was no class distinction as the honorable senator suggests:
– Commissions were’ granted by competition. *
– Unfortunately, the competition in many cases was insufficient. Human favoritism enters into all walks of life.
– Even into politics.
– Yes, I can remember Senator Elliott telling us that he was paying the penalty for his conduct towards the staff.
– That is quite a different proposition.
– Yes ; but the point I am making is that, although we trained thousands of men, these generals or the officers of the Defence Department were either incapable or unable to do what should have been expected of them. It is all very well for show purposes, but it is only so much money wasted when it comes to real war. A man who drives a motor lorry, a horse-drawn vehicle, or one who shoes horses or builds bridges is the best trained for war. I can imagine myself training a football team, which I used to do forty years ago, and I can picture myself saying, “ You forwards must start on the run, the left foot must first be moved, the stride must be 36 inches, and your eyes must be kept to the front.” A team could not play under those conditions. I can understand a community so dull, or so unaccustomed to obeying commands, that, a certain amount of training would have to be given to insure discipline and obedience to the commands of superior officers; but that is not necessary in Australia.
– The honorable senator does not want to face the enemy.
– I do not. As far as facing the enemy is concerned, we know that untrained men who had never handled a rifle until they went to the war were not very much behind when the. time came.
– They were not untrained.
– They were.
– When they had to face the enemy ?
– Yes. I ‘have already quoted the statement of General Sir Brudenell White that many of the men who were landed on Gallipoli had never fired a shot.
– Some reinforcements which landed on Gallipoli were absolutely untrained. They had to be trained there.
– They would not represent one-half per cent, of those who went to the war.
– Perhaps not. The really intelligent members of the Forces never rose to be colonels. It has been freely stated that the early training in Egypt was nothing short of murder. It was an endurance test, and nothing else. ‘
– But it justified itself.
– The men could not have landed at Gallipoli if it had not been for the training received in Egypt.
– They survived from the 25th April to the 25th December, 1914, and during that period I do not know how many men went under. I do not think any one could give a full measure of credit to the bravery displayed by our soldiers in hanging on to that small strip of territory under such awful conditions. No one can estimate the sufferings and difficulties endured during the whole of that time. I have endeavoured to touch upon military training, and have shown that although General Sir John Monash says that one system is all right another officer of high rank says that a different method should be adopted.
– They do not differ.
– Their methods are at variance. The system in force in 1916 was unsatisfactory to General Monash when in France, and he said that he wanted raw troops sent at once so that they should be trained under the conditions under which they would have to” fight. General Sir Brudenell White said that he wanted men to undergo eighty days’ training.
– General Monash and Sir Harry Chauvel, with Sir Brudenell White, were members of the Committee which made certain recommendations.
– Why were they not adopted?
– Because the Government of the day did not see its way clear to do so.
– If the Government will not adopt the proposals of military officers of such high standing, what is the good of our present defence system? We are retaining the services of the best trained men, and in disregarding their recommendations are wasting money.
– If the honorable senator’s party was in power, would it carry out the eighty days’ training proposal ?
– We would either carry or count’ out the whole Defence; Department. There are two points which should be considered in this connexion. The first is whether we can justify the expenditure and prove that the money is being used to defend Australia, and the second is whether we are prepared to accept the best advice that is available? Senator Elliott cannot shirk his responsibility by asking what the Labour party would do if it were in power. We are using the taxpayers’ money for the defence of Australia, and if it is being expended contrary to the advice of the best men who fought for us, we are recreant to our trust. In my opinion, the defence of Australia can best be provided with the means at our disposal by manufacturing munitions to defend ourselves. What is the use of having perfectly trained men who can march and stand to the salute, if when the day comes to fight we have neither the arms nor munitions with which to combat the enemy? Instead of paying generals and conducting an expensive Defence Department, we should spend the money in factories in which guns, munitions, transport vehicles, flying machines and engines are manufactured. What would be the use of engaging in a conflict, however well organized our Forces might be, if we had not the material with which to carry on ? As we cannot have both an expensive staff and an ample supply of the necessary material, we have to decide between the two.
– Both are equally important, and an effort is being made to preserve both branches.
– What would be the use of having skilled generals at our command, and well trained troops, .if we had not any munitions or arms?
– What would be the use of munitions without men?
– The most unskilled men under experienced generals with ample weapons for defence would be a factor to be reckoned with. To a certain extent all these things are necessary for defence purposes, and that is why I am anxious that the Defence Department should get down to manufacturing aeroplanes, and establishing workshops in which the type of engines particularly required could be manufactured. We could then secure disciplined leaders and improve . our organization while war was proceeding. What is Australia’s position to-day as compared with ten years ago? At present we have 10,000 trained officers in “ the Commonwealth, and if Australians were called to the colours we should not have sufficient ammunition or arms to equip them. We have 100,000 trained men who, if’ called to the colours, would be able to respond during the next five years, if we had the material available for them to fight with. Even’ Senator Elliott should agree that the urgent problem at the present moment is to provide factories where munitions can be made. Operatives should be trained in these factories so that everything would run smoothly, from the making of a rifle to the biggest guns, shells, and bombs. These men, who are following their ordinary occupations, have been trained for war as Australians have never been trained before. Five years have been wasted, and the men will be too old for . service after- another five years. The money we are spending uselessly on our defence scheme should be devoted to preparing .for the manufacture of the materials for war. These matters are of great concern to the people of Australia. I know the military mind is very prone to imagine that if the staff is all right everything is all right. There is th* story of the eye witness in Mesopotamia who, when some one said “ The Turks are shelling the General Staff Office,” replied, “ They are not such blanky fools.” That campaign is well worthy of study by Australians. There is a story of a beleaguered city. The Turks were between two armies, and for months about 20,000 Turkish rifles prevented those two forces junctioning. This illustrates the marvellous efficiency of small arms in defending and holding a country. I believe we should build aeroplanes and submarines. They are essential for naval defence. The real essential in Australia, however, is the means of defence. I believe that cities can be destroyed without much loss. I am quite serious in that statement.
– Let the honorable senator wait until a bomb lobs on his own house.
– It would be a little inconvenient, especially if one happened to be inside at the time. In the life of a nation the destruction of a city here or there is not a disaster from which the nation would have difficulty in recovering.
– Suppose Newcastle and the Newcastle coalfields were destroyed.
– That would be serious. Many troubles would follow the destruction of the arteries that supply the needs of industry in the community. Senator Pearce was long enough in charge of the Defence Department during the most serious period of its history to know how disastrous would be a stoppage of our supplies of coal or other necessaries of industry. Having that knowledge, the Government is all the more blameworthy for not having done something to provide for the defence of Australia. It has done nothing. It is no use for honorable senators to say that Australia is now spending 17s. 4d. per head, and that it spent 19s. 3d. per head in 1913. That 19s. 3d. supplied the Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide, which’ were of real use during the war. What is now spent on the staff is so much money thrown away, because when the war. finds us we shall form a new army, which will be put in charge of men who are not now in the Defence Department.
– All the men in command at the beginning of the war were trained under the partially paid’ system.
– I think that is a very excellent reason why I should say something about Duntroon College. We are spending £70,000 a year on that institution, and the number of officers turned out by it is nothing like as large as was expected. As to the kind of training given, I take no exception to it. It is excellent, even for nonmilitary purposes. I remember reading in my boyhood a story of General Garfield, afterwards President of the
United States of America. One of the West Point officers had been besieging a place for three months, when he was moved elsewhere, and Garfield took control of the attacking force. In about three months he succeeded in doing what the West Point trained man had failed to do. The West Point man asked how Garfield had accomplished it, and Garfield’s reply was, “ I suppose it was because I was not trained at West Point.” That might have been only the clever byplay of a quick-witted man, but, after all, a text-book does not make a soldier. Regarding naval defence, Australia, with only 5,000,000 people, cannot provide a scheme of defence on water or land that will satisfy the military and naval mind.
– So we say we must join with the rest of the Empire.
– It would be worse than not having any defence at all to be dependent upon defence supplied from the other side of the world. Britain would make any possible sacrifice for Australia, but if war came Britain itself would be the vulnerable point. While the Government of Australia was prepared to sacrifice men against their will, and to say that their lives were a rightful forfeit to the State, Great Britain was keeping millions of men in her factories for the land defence of that country.
– No fear!
– The figures published since the war prove the truth of that statement. The great fear of naval and military people in Great Britain up to the time of the signing of the Armistice was of the landing of a force from Germany. Britain could not afford to take the risk of being undefended, and she always had large reserves at home.
– But not “ millions.”
– Yes, millions.
– There may have been millions in the munition factories.
– Of course, they were in the munition factories. They were quite rightly kept there. Britain is so close to her enemies that she will do in the next war what she did in the last - keep all her forces for the defence of herself. I am not complaining of that, but am merely stating a fact.
– The honorable senator is not stating a fact. Britain did not do that.
– The enemy was knocking at the English door, and, because of that, forces to repel an enemy had to be maintained at home.
– The next war may be nearer Australia.
– It may, but that is very doubtful. With the nations of the world in the restless condition they are in at the present time, we are more likely to have European trouble than an isolated attack upon Australia. Australia’s defence depends upon Australians, and we must not build on any other nation helping us. Most Australians, when considering this subject, regard it through English spectacles. They see it as the English mind sees it. England, owing to its smallness and its huge population, is peculiarly weak because its food supplies must come from abroad. Therefore, its natural defence is on the. water. Australia, on the other hand, could not be starved even, if all the navies of the world were . around its coast. This country is rich enough in food supplies to maintain itself no matter how many navies were riding inside or outside its harbors. There is an important and essential difference between the dangers confronting this country and those confronting Britain. We have a huge area, a small population, and unlimited food supplies; Britain has a small area and a large population, which is dependent for its food supplies upon imports from other countries Private enterprise may be all right in times of peace ; but during war we had to fall back on Socialism, and every man worked in the position in which he was placed. Australia is different from Britain in that respect. We possess a huge area of country, which will provide the necessaries of life for millions of people. If we had the food supply for our people, and could get the non-combatants over the mountains into the interior, the danger of an enemy advancing for any distance in Australia would not be great.
– Would the honorable senator be prepared to give up to an enemy the richest parts of the country ?
– I should not give up anything.
– The Turks have a greater population than Australia, and a smaller coastline; yet the Australians effected a landing on Gallipoli.
– Although their landing was covered by the biggest and most modern war ships firing the heaviest shells, the bravest Australians did not advance more than a mile inland. In the early stages the armaments of the Turks were not of a very elaborate nature. The combined resources of Great Britain, Italy and France could not provide support of any value. I think I am perfectly safe in saying that during the four years of the war, although at one period the navies of France, Great Britain and America were combined, a landing was not effected on hostile territory. Yet some persons talk about a navy being despatched from Japan, China, or somewhere else, and landing troops in Australia !
– Australia with its long coastline and sparse population is in a very different position.
– It is also a different proposition to be attacked by the combined navies of Great Britain, France, Italy, and America. Senator Elliott knows what was said regarding an attack on the Eastern instead of on the Western Front. The nations of the world could not transport the food and munition supplies necessary to enable an attack to be effectively carried out on that Front. Yet it is urged that troops can be brought thousands of miles in large numbers and landed in Australia. I have been addressing myself to these matters in a spasmodic way. I Should have liked the business of the Senate to be conducted in such a manner that we could give serious consideration to problems that are. of pressing importance. A tyrannical Government, however, has willed otherwise. It has said that physical stamina, and not intellectual capacity, is to be the deciding factor. It is not wise to work such long hours in any circumstances. Why should- that practice be adopted in the present circumstances?
– Order ! The honorable senator has exhausted his time.-
– Senator Gardiner has enlightened the Senate on many very important points. I should move “ that the debate be adjourned” in order that we might have an opportunity to digest his speech, if I thought I should be able to carry it. I realize, however, the futility of taking that action. I listened to Senator Pearce’s statement of the Bills which are to be passed through the Senate before Parliament adjourns. I heard him mention an amendment of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act. That will be a very welcome measure. I asked him in what order the Bills would be passed. He said that he would inform the Senate later. I do not yet know whether the amendment of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act will be introduced. It should be placed right in the forefront of the Bills to be dealt with. Senator Pearce also mentioned that a Bill is to be introduced dealing with the taxation of Crown leaseholds. I believe that more attention will be devoted to that matter than to increasing the Invalid and Old-age Pensions. The matter of taxing Crown leaseholds is a very important one. I believe it was the intention of the Government to make a. gift of about £2,000,000 in this connexion, and I am glad that it has relented. I should have been much better pleased if this amount had been devoted to the worthy purpose of increasing the invalid and old-age pensions to at least £1 per week, and making the increase retrospective. I hope the time will come when there will be a universal pension - that it will be payable at a certain age to every man and woman, irrespective of whether he or she has abank balance of £1 or £1,000,000.
– I draw attention to the want of a quorum. [Quorum, formed.]
– Here we are, at 10 minutes to 3 a.m., endeavouring to pass legislation which affects every person in Australia. A sum of over £60,000,000 is involved. Honorable senators are jaded and weary, and no business man would conduct his affairs in such an unbusiness-like fashion. Thank goodness the guillotine is not in operation in this Chamber, and every honorable senator has an opportunity to speak. I take it that Parliament will not reassemble after this week until next February or March. In the mean- time, there will not even be a Caucus meeting of honorable senators opposite, although, while Parliament is sitting, they have such sittings every week.
– No attempt is made to bind us.
– You, Mr. President, know that that statement is not in accordance with fact, because, when the division bells ring, honorable senators opposite have to obey the party Whip, no matter what their personal views may be. During the discussion on the Budget-papers, the Minister (Senator Pearce) referred to a statement that I had made with respect to immigration. According to Hansard of this session, page 2760, Senator Pearce said -
Senator Needham made certain statements regarding the alleged existence of unemployment amongst immigrants in Western Australia. Those statements were afterwards repeated by other honorable senators who had not first-hand knowledge of the subject.
– I had first-hand knowledge.
– The honorable senator had very misleading information. I have here the West Australian of 8th inst., in which appears a report headed -
Opened by the Premier.
Senator Pearce remarked that he thought Mr. Clements on was the assistant secretary of the Trades. Hall in Perth. That statement shows how far the Minister has got away from the Labour movement that made him. Had it not been for the old Trades and Labour Council in Perth - now referred to as the Perth Trades Hall Incorporatedhe wouldnever have entered this Chamber. Mr. A. Clementson is the assistant editor of the Worker in Western Australia, and he is a delegate on the metropolitan council of the Australian Labour party. He and Mr. T. Butler are the Trades Hall delegates on the New Settlers’ League, Mr. Butler being the organizer of the Australian Workers Union. The Minister quoted practically the whole of the report read by Mr. Clementson at the conference of the New Settlers’ League. He quoted the following paragraph, among others : -
Mr. Clementson introduced a heated discussion on the subject of agricultural apprentices. At the present time, he said, farmerswere employing immigrants at a rate of approximately 8s. a day, and so long as they were training the men and boys he had no objection to that rate of pay. It appeared, however, that while they could employ those men at apprentice rates, they were not bound by the usual terms of apprenticeships, and could dismiss them at a moment’s notice.
It is because Mr. Clementson endeavoured to obtain justice for those invited to our shores that the Minister said that the Labour party in Australia was in favour of immigration in accordance with the present policy of the Government. He quoted Mr. Clementson as moving - “ That the Government be asked to bring immigrant farm apprentices under theprotection of the Arbitration Court, or to pass special legislation so as to provide farm apprentices with at least three months’ continuous initial work.”
Mr. Doherny, a member of the Trades Hall, seconded the resolution. There is nothing wrong with that. It merely proves that Mr. Clementson, Mr. Doherny, and the members of the Labour party were, and are, anxious to improve the conditions of those people who have been invited from Great Britain, and to see that they participated in the benefits provided by the Arbitration Court. I know that men are being brought to Aus- tralia whose conditions cannot be controlled by industrial legislation. When a man comes to Australia he should receive union rates of wages; but migrants are not receiving those rates. People from abroad are being employed on the land at the princely rate of 16s. per week and keep.
– I can inform Senator Lynch of a case that came under my notice where a married couple were receiving only 15s. per week and keep. When the Honorary Minister (Senator Wilson) arrives in London, as one of Australia’s representatives at the forthcoming Economic Conference, he should inquire into the accuracy of certain newspaper reports which are being circulated, of which the following is an example: - (The Sun Cables.)
London,Sunday Night. The allegations of Mr. Charlton, Leader of the Opposition in the Commonwealth Parliament, have been published here under the heading “ Shanghaied in London.”
Miss Ettie Rout, a prominent social worker, who attended many Australians in Paris during the war, while not admitting that shipping companies are scouring the poorer quarters and taking emigrants at 20s. a head, asserts that mentally deficient and diseased emigrants are accepted. Her campaign principally is among women, and is chiefly aimed against the Society of Oversea Settlement of Women, which, she alleges, is flouting the Australian laws by permitting unfit girls to emigrate.
She says she did so much to help Australian soldiers to steer clear of disease during the war that they trust her now, and know she will not allow any girl to embark who is unfit to become an Australian’s wife.
Two recent applicants were’ educated and refined women. One, who was married, was found to be innocently diseased.
She deplores the Ministry for Health’s circular to the workhouse authorities urging them to get rid of the pauper inmates by paying their fares to Australia.
I desire to emphasize the fact that our immigration policy is on an unsatisfactory basis. When speaking on the motion for the printing of the Estimates and Budgetpapers, I directed the attention ofthe Senate to the fact that the method of selecting migrants was very defective. Senator Drake-Brockman interjected and said that scores of the people arriving here are mentally deficient. I have also an extract from last night’s Sun, which reads -
Back from the Farm. An Immigrant’s Wail. “I am not a PIONEER.”
I love those cows and chickens. This is the life!
So goes the song, “but Henry Bloomfield, a farm labourer, seventeen years of age, from London, is violently opposed to the. sentiment thus lyrically expressed.
He says that a north-coast farmer ejected the pigs from a sty to provide an apartment for him.
This is his story to TheGuardian:
Bloomfield arrived in Sydney on the P. and O. steamer Ballar at, on 23rd July, and has found that Australian farm life is not as delectable as it appeared in the pictures exhibited in Australia House.
For three weeks he has lived in a renovated pig-sty, worked from 5 a.m. till 8 or 8.30 p.m., and when fed on bread, butter, and tea, with an occasional change in the way of an egg, some rice or scones. His pay for the three weeks totalled 30s. “ I lived at the People’s Palace until this morning,” he told The Guardian, “ but I don’t live anywhere now. I suppose I’ll have to walk round to-night.”
This new citizen of Australia was formerly a painter’s apprentice in East London. _ He succumbed to an alluring advertisement in a London paper, inserted by Ridgeway’s shipping agency, and decided to give up the paint brush for the separator handle.
Arriving in Sydney on 23rd July, he obtained £2 cash advance from the State Immigration Office, and was given a letter of introduction to a north-coast farmer.
When Bloomfield reached the farm, he discovered his employer putting down a floor in a pig-sty. The walls of the building had been stuffed up with paper, and other than some harness and a bed, there was no furniture. “It was a pig-sty,” said the young immigrant. “ He kept pigs, but after I came there he used to run them in a paddock. The pigsty in which I. had to sleep was about halfamile from the farm house. “ At 5 o’clock in the morning I started work. I was taught to milk cows. I had never done it before, and at first could only milk with one hand; but I soon learned to milk very well, and milked fifteen cows morning and night.” “ We then separated the milk, and after washing up, had breakfast. It was always bread and butter and tea for me, with an egg once in a way.”
The first of these newspaper reports contains the statement of a reputable woman, published in a well-known English paper, who says that the Minister for Health in Great Britain has circularized the workhouses asking them to get rid of what? All their pauper inmates by paying their fares to Australia. I do not say that the statement is correct; but it is the duty of the Government, and particularly of one of its representatives at the forthcoming Conference, if he is a true Australian, to probe this matter to the bottom. I have already stated that it has been announced that certain persons in Great Britain have been receiving 20s. per head for securing migrants. I was told that possibly it was the shipping companies that were responsible, but even if such is the case, the Imperial and Commonwealth Governments can prevent the practice by saying that no person shall be paid a commission for sending people to our shores.
– I am not dealing with those who are unfortunate enough to be in a penniless condition, but am referring to those men and women who are mentally or physically unfit. A man who pays his passage to Australia and who arrives without a penny, provided his health is good, which is his chief asset, will always be welcome. It is not my intention to support the policy - buttressed if not subsidized by the Imperial, Commonwealth, and State Governments^ - of paying a commission of 20s. per head for securing migrants of the type I have mentioned. The charge is sufficiently serious to warrant the closest possible investigation.
– That will be done.
– I trust it will, because it is of the utmost importance to Australia. Now I come to the question of unemployment, which I cannot separate from that of migration. Close our eyes to the facts as we may, unemployment is rife in this country. It is at our very doors. Within a stone’s throw of this parliamentary building there are homeless, foodless, and shelterless people. We see in the newspapers every day instances of the poor helping the poor. The other day a mother of seven children, whose husband was out of work, took into her humble home a woman and three children without a father.
– A land of plenty, and nothing to eat.
– It should be a land of plenty.
– So it is. .
– There are plenty of people starving in the land.
– It is time the honorable senator started to “ crack up “ Australia, instead of “ putting the boot “ into it.
– I am not “ putting the boot “ into Australia. My honorable friend knows quite well that there are people starving in this country. If he does not, he should take a walk and use his eyes. The real reason why he is getting annoyed is because the Government of which he is temporarily a Minister is being attacked, and that hurts his pride. I do not lay the blame altogether at the door of the Ministry, but I place it upon the system under which we live. There is a trinity of subjects in this connexion - migration, unemployment, and land settlement. . We have everything in this country that is necessary for the life of man. It only remains for us to put our hands to the material and use it. We have any quantity of the most fertile land on the face of the earth. Alongside the railways, which are paid for and maintained by the people of the different States, there are vast tracts of virgin country. We should bring that land into cultivation. There are two curses in Australia to-day - land monopolists and those landlords who will not allow their houses to be occupied by people who have children.
– There are 4,000,000 acres of Crown lands in Queensland. Where is the land monopoly there ?
– And there are millions of acres of land, other than Crown lands, alongside the Queensland railways, which are not being put to their full use.
– That is not so.
SenatorNEEDHAM.- Then Queensland is unusually fortunate. Alongside the railways of Australia there is much virgin land which should be cultivated. On the one hand is the land monopolist, and on the other the man who is starving for land. I ask Senator Wilson and Senator Crawford to mention any State in Australia where blocks of land have been offered for sale, and the land hunger has been satisfied.
– I offered 460 blocks for sale, and sold only. 130.
– They were residential blocks. I am speaking of country blocks. Apart from the land monopolist, the next greatest danger to the community is the landlord. If I go to him and say, “ Can I have a house to let?” he replies, “ Yes, have you any children?” If I reply, “Yes,” he will say, “ You cannot have my house.” While the Commonwealth Government, in conjunction with the Imperial Government, is endeavouring to bring people to these shores to populate this country, we have men here who will not allow children in their houses. The natural-born Australian is the best kind of immigrant. Until we rid ourselves of the land monopolist and the landlord who will not let houses or rooms to people with children, we should not go abroad looking for population. Having got rid of those two dangers I would say, “ Bring to this country every man available from overseas. Prepare the land for them. There is room for them. Give them the very best conditions possible.” The following appears in the Sun News Pictorial of to-day -
Bruce will tell this to Economic Conference.
No “ Mad “ Immigration
Britain must Respond with Trade Preference.
Declaring that the Commonwealth wanted more overseas markets for its products, and that it did not intend to indulge in any mad immigration ventures until these were secured, the Prime Minister addressed the Empire Development Union in the Town Hall yesterday.
If that is the policy of the Government it looks as if it has become sane. I want to know the meaning of “ mad “ immigration. I should like the Prime Minister to outline his ideas of immigration. Will there be a proper selection of immigrants in Australia, and will the Government take steps to abolish the present system of paying commission ?
– I do not believe the Minister means that, and I do not believe he could do it if he tried, because there is a higher power to be consulted. I mentioned the subject of superannuation when I was speaking on the Budget, and I brought under notice a specific instance of injustice. Only five persons are affected, and they happen to be five widows of deceased officers formerly in the Public Service in Western Australia. Senator Pearce asked me to give him the report of that portion of my remarks. I am taking the present opportunity of refreshing his memory on the matter.
– I sent the report to the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), and asked him to give the matter consideration.
– I hope that in the few hours that remain to us before the end of the session an amendment of the Superannuation Act will be made so that these five widows will get the compensation which the Act intended they should receive. If there was a possibility of such cases recurring, I should not press the matter, but only five people are affected, and there cannot be any more in the future. I hope the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) will impress upon the Treasurer and the Government the necessity for bringing down an amending Bill. The Chairman of the Superannuation Board admits that an amendment in this respect is necessary. I believe that the Bill to amend the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act, if it is put through, will increase the pension by 2s. 6d. per week. That is a very miserable dole. I might be satisfied with even that paltry increase if it were made to apply to the last three years. When retrospective legislation will do good I favour it; when it is harmful I do not like it. Honorable senators opposite intend to benefit their friends, Sir Sidney Kidman and Mr. Edmund Jowett, to the extent of £200,000 in respect to the taxation on leaseholds over a period of three years, for which they were liable. I do not think it would cost more than £500,000 to make this proposed increase to invalid and old-age pensioners retrospective for three years.
– The proposed increase will cost nearly £1,250,000 a year.
– The Treasurer’s surplus could not be better spent than by applying it to a retrospective increase to pensioners. Complaints are still being heard regarding the increase in the cost of living. Senator Wilson has been recompensed in that his salary has been raised. I also have been compensated. Why should we not think of the old and the invalid people? Can any one tell me that 15s. per week has been sufficient for them during the past three years ? As the cost of living increased we should have given them something extra. I should like to see the pension made at least £1 retrospectively over the last three years. I know that honorable senators opposite are sympathetically disposed towards these persons, but the Caucus has ordained otherwise, and they dare not break its sacred laws. It is bad enough to be aged and infirm, but of all the ills to which flesh is heir the lack of sight is the worst, particularly in the case of those who have had their sight and have lost it. Lack of sight is not so keenly felt by those who came into the world without vision, and could not see or revel in the beauties of nature, as it is by the man or woman, the boy or girl, to whom God gave sight, who saw and revelled in the beauties of nature, and suddenly were deprived of their sight. We cannot do too much for them. As the law stands to-day, if a blind person marries one who possesses sight, the pension ceases. I believe that it should continue to be paid. I would go further. In my opinion, a higher pension should be paid to the blind person than to the aged, the infirm, or the invalid. Senator Elliott knows perfectly well that during the war no greater catastrophe could overtake a man than for him to be blinded. I have met such men, and they have told me that they would rather have “ gone West “ than have lived in a state of blindness.
– We have triedto help them; they are now getting very good pensions.
– Our war pension to-day is no recompense for the loss of sight.
– Nothing could make up for that.
– I admit that that is so. We should go a little further. A greater amount should be given to those who, by reason of disease or accident, have been rendered blind, as well as to those who have been born blind.
Motion (by Senator Poll) put -
That the Senate do now divide.
The Senate divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the Bill be now read a first time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 11
– I appoint Senator DrakeBrockman teller for the Ayes, and Senator McDougall teller for the. Noes.
– I decline to act. You can get somebody else to dd the dirty work. I shall not do it.
– Then I appoint Senator Barnes teller for the “ Noes.”
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
I remind the Senate that, when I moved that the Budget-papers be printed, I gave figures showing the financial position, and those figures have not since been altered; but there is one announcement that I should like to make. The Australian War Museum is regarded by the Government as the Australian National War Memorial. There is a vote in the Bill for the establishment of that Museum, and the idea is that it shall eventually be established at the Federal Capital at Canberra, where it is hoped to have a building worthy of the magnificent collection that will be exhibited there. For all time this museum* will stand as the memorial of the nation to those who fought for the freedom of Australia and civilization in the late war. The collection, which consists of pictures, relics and the engraved names df every Australian who fought in the late war, will be dedicated to the memory of those who served the nation in the great world conflict. It will be added to from time to time, and when a suitable opportunity arrives, it will be housed in a building that I hope will be worthy of the collection itself and worthy of Australia. Those honorable senators who have seen the collection will agree that, when it is housed in a suitable building, it will indeed be a fitting national war memorial.
– I again ask the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) to adjourn the consideration of this Bill. It is the custom of the Senate, when a Bill reaches the second-reading stage, to adjourn the debate until a later period. If the Minister will not agree to the adoption of that course, I shall have something to say concerning the Federal Capital. The Minister wishes to have a museum built at Canberra. The Government is keeping a staff of men there, and that staff is to be increased. Judging by reports submitted to Parliament concerning the works proposed to be carried out at Canberra, the Committee that has been investigating these matters is prepared to. bring in reports of a discrediting nature concerning works contemplated at the Federal Capital. This Committee has travelled in many parts of Australia,, and it has taken much evidence. In its latest report to Parliament therewas a proposal that the design selected in open competition by the world’s greatest town planner, Mr. Griffin, of the United States of America, should be departed from. This Committee proposed,, and the Parliament apparently intends,, to adopt its proposal that that magnificent design should be discarded, and a provisional Parliament House ‘ erected. It has been pointed out that there is every probability of a provisional Parliament being retained for fifty years, or, possibly, for even a longer period. Nothing short of the best building possible will satisfy me as an Australian. There appears to be no intention on the part of the Government to do anything in the direction of establishing a Capital worthy of Australia. It is the evident purpose of the Government that the Capital shall be the product of the departmental mind. My idea is that, irrespective of the cost, Canberra should be built in accordance with the most beautiful design procurable, so that future generations may look ba.ck with pride upon what has been accomplished by Australian brains, and Australian workmanship with Australian materials. The present Government is prepared to accept a make-shift Parliament House with nothing to recommend it. In the report of the Public Works Committee^
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable senator is proceeding to discuss the report of the Public Works Committee on the question of whether a permanent or a provisional Parliament House shall be built at Canberra. Provision is made in the Loan Bill for the building of that particular structure, but there is no amount set down for it in the Bill now under discussion.
– I hope that I shall be in order if I can show by the evidence of the architects that the proposed provisional Parliament House would serve . excellently as a museum. The Minister, has already spoken of the establishment of a museum at Canberra.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newland). - The Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) has already assured the Senate that there is no reference in the Bill to a provisional Parliament House at Canberra, and, therefore, the honorable senator will not be in order in discussing the. erection of such a building.
– As you have ruled Senator Gardiner out of order, I should like to know why the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) was permitted to discuss the question’ of a national .war museum?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- If .the honorable senator dissents from my ruling he must take the usual course.
– I shall abide by your ruling, Mr. Deputy President, as I realize that if I am not allowed to discuss the provisional Parliament House, I shall be in order in referring to the national war museum. Mr. J. S. Murdoch, the Chief Commonwealth Architect, said in evidence-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.Order! The evidence to which the honorable senator is referring is contained in a report on the construction of a provisional Parliament House at Canberra, and does not refer in any way to the erection of a national war museum to which the Minister for Home and Territories referred.
– I am sure I shall be in order in making a passing reference to the evidence of a very distinguished architect. By quoting the evidence of Mr. Murdoch I intend to show that the proposed parliamentary building - which, in my opinion, will be totally unsuitable for the purpose for which it is designed - would be eminently suitable for a national war museum. I am sure that I shall be in order in making that reference, and when I have completed the quotation you will realize that it has a distinct bearing on the question. Mr. J. S. Murdoch said -
I am responsible, under the Departments, for the sketch plan of the (proposed parliamentary buildings at Canberra. The plan has been submitted .to and generally adopted ‘by the Advisory Committee appointed by the Government to deal with Canberra. It has been drawn up to meet the wishes of the Government and to comply with the recommendations of the Advisory Committee, and is designed to provide accommodation for the legislative activities of Parliament.
– I draw . attention to the absence of a quorum. [Quorum formed.’]
– The evidence continues -
Before reaching the stage presented to the Committee in sketch plan many sketches were prepared and consultations held with the President and Speaker.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- I cannot permit the honorable senator to read from the report of the Public Works Committee, because it distinctly relates to the construction of a provisional Parliament House, and not to a building in which war exhibits are to be displayed.
– You can have your opinion, Mr. Deputy President, but I intend to have mine. I shall discuss the question of a national war museum, and endeavour to show that the proposed provisional parliamentary building will be eminently suitable for the purpose I have mentioned. If you rule that I am not in order, and assert what you regard as your rights, I shall also assert mine.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - I cannot permit the honorable senator to continue reading evidence in the report in relation to the erection of a provisional Parliament House. The honorable senator will be quite in order in referring to the construction of a war museum.
-I am quoting the evidence, because I want to impress upon the Senate the necessity of using the proposed Parliament House building at Canberra as a museum, and I intend to continue irrespective of the consequences. I cannot possibly give way. I intend to assert my rights, particularly as the Minister introduced the discussion.
– There is an item in another measure on which the honorable senator will have an opportunity of discussing a national war museum.
– Surely I can discuss the suitability of the proposed Parliament House building for displaying war exhibits. If I am not in order, I have no desire to remain in the chamber, but while I am here I shall protect my rights, and do what I think proper.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- I have already pointed out that the honorable senator will not be in order in quoting from the report, and if he dissents from my ruling he must adopt the recognised course.
– I intend to continue quoting the evidence -
It is only a sketch plan. The permanent drawings have not yet been made, and the entire scheme is capable of modification.
In these circumstances, the building would be very suitable for a national war museum, and in the interests of economy consideration should be given to my suggestions.
– I rise to order. I direct your attention, Mr. Deputy President, to the fact that Senator Gardiner is defying your ruling by referring to the construction of a provisional Parliament House, which is not mentioned in the Bill.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - The honorable senator will not be in order in quoting from the report. There is a reference in the Bill to a war museum, and so long as he confines his remarks to that question he will be in order. He must not, however, read evidence in relation to another project.
– The Minister referred to a national war museum in his second-reading speech.
– Reference is made on page 272 of this Bill to the conveyance of members of Parliament to the Federal Capital.
– Yes ; if expenditure is to be incurred in conveying members of Parliament to Canberra, why cannot we discuss the whole question ? The Deputy President has ruled that I cannot quote from the report, but I do not think he will take exception to the exhibiting of the plan of the proposed structure.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - The honorable senator is again defying my ruling. I ask him not to refer to the report.
– If you will make your ruling clear, I shall not defy it. If it is thought that I am in a defiant mood, it is only because I am endeavouring to preserve my rights as a representative of the people. If I cannot continue the discussion, I shall now direct my attention to certain items in the Bill, to which I shall incidentally refer. For instance, the following amounts are to be paid out of revenue during the next twelve months : -The Parliament,£60,048 ; Prime Minister’s Department, £398,597; Department of the Treasury, £3,567,087; Attorney-General’s Department, £118,550; Home and Territories Department, £609,506. Under the heading “Department of Defence,” there is a small item of £3,425,829. Other items are Trade and Customs, £776,494; and Department of Works and Railways, £826,464. In connexion with the Federal Capital Territory there are two items to be paid out of Loan Funds - Public Works Staff, part salaries, £3,758; and Accounts Branch, salaries, £4,627. The railways to link up Victoria with Queanbeyan should be built before constructing the elaborate building for Parliament House. Whether any of the money mentioned in this Bill is for that purpose I cannot discover. The railway from Yass to Canberra will be a charge upon New South Wales, and is one of the conditions under which the Federal Capital is to he built. It seems to be the function of New South Wales in the Commonwealth to pay while the rest of Australia spends. If we had been given a fair opportunity to discuss this measure in normal and reasonable conditions, I would have been able to show that of the enormous amount of money expended by the Commonwealth, the State of New South Wales pays considerably more than the value of the benefits it receives. Every part of Australia has benefited by the States being linked up in a Federation. Honorable members of this Senate are being gagged by an unscrupulous and tyrannical majority of members who are compelled by the decision of caucus meetings to say nothing, and are imposing very pernicious conditions upon the rest of us.
– The honorable senator will see whether any honorable senators on this side want to speak in a few moments. Several of them are waiting for an opportunity.
– I realize that the other side is like a disciplined army. I admire discipline at all times. It is wonderful to see so many men accept the Ministry’s stipulation that there must be no amendments in the Bills submitted by the Government. I will test the accuracy of Senator Pearce’s interjection by making wayfor any honorable senator on the other side who cares to speak.
– I shall endeavour to confine my remarks to the subject matter of the Bill. Senator Gardiner has quoted the vote for Parliament, £60,048; and for the Prime Minister’s Department, £398,597. I am wondering how much will be added to that last figure by the time the Prime Minister and his staff return to Australia from their trip abroad. I am under the impression that there will be a considerable addition. The vote may be intended to include the expenses of that trip, both for the Prime Minister and his retinue. We realize the necessity for Australia being represented at the Imperial and Economic Conferences, but . I hope that when the next Appropriation Bill comes before us the amount now shown will not be increased. The Appropriation for the Attorney-General’s
Department is £118,550. I am not so much concerned about the amount as about what the Department controls. Among other things, it controls the Arbitration Court. A portion of the sum mentioned goes towards defraying the expenses of our arbitration system. Honorable senators ought to pause before they pass the whole amount. We have to-day a legal machine known as the Arbitration Court. It has been set up under the Constitution of the Commonwealth, and it has for its object not only the settlement, but the prevention, of industrial disputes. I would like to see that machine working much more smoothly, cheaply, and directly than it is working to-day. The cost of arbitration is almost prohibitive, not only to the organizations of employees, but also to the organizations of employers. Suppose an organization of employees is citing a case before the Court. It takes some time for the citation to be made. A further long time is required for the case to be heard,and the costs after it has been heard are almost prohibitive. If we did nothing more during the remainder of this session than discover a method whereby our arbitration machine would work more smoothly and cheaply, we would do good work. The Department does not realize that in many instances before the ink with which the Judge signs an award is dry a new award is necessary. The money voted for this Department could be very well spent in trying to perfect the machinery of the Arbitration Court. The Government should revert to the old practice of allowing one Judge, instead of three, to determine questions of hours. “ There was a time when an organization could go before the Court and place all its cards on the table in making a request for increased wages, better conditions of labour, and shorter hours; but the ex-Prime Minister of the Commonwealth (the right honorable W. M. Hughes), at the behest of employers’ organizations outside, determined that that system should cease. While one Judge was allowed to determine questions of wages and conditions, three Judges were held to be necessary to determine questions of hours. I ask honorable senators to say whether wages, conditions, or hours is the most important factor. If honor- able senators had an Arbitration Court to determine their conditions, we would certainly consider the question of hours. The vital question in industrial legislation is that of hours. I would rather work forty-four hours a week at reduced wages than forty-eight hours a week at an increased wage. It may be well to refresh the memory of honorable senators regarding the manner in which this change was brought about. The ex-Prime Minister was also at that time Attorney-General. He entered upon a newspaper controversy with Mr. Justice Higgins, the President of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. That controversy developed to such an extent that the position of Mr. Justice Higgins was made untenable. I do not wish to enter into the details, but it was said that some industrial organizations disputed an award of the Court, and thereby broke the law. I am a peaceable man, and I like to obey the law. I have always suggested to industrial organizations that they should obey the law. In this instance it was not a case of those organizations breaking the law or disregarding the Court, but it was a case of an attack being made on the Court by the Commonwealth AttorneyGeneral. It is well known that in the British Empire a Judge of a Court is, in a sense, sacrosanct; no one dare impugn his honesty or his integrity without proof; and rightly so. Should any one dare to impugn his integrity, that citizen is liable to be arraigned before the Court on a charge of contempt. In this case, it was not the ordinary citizen, but it was the AttorneyGeneral who impugned the integrity of the Court. Therefore the law-breaker was the man who should have protected, and not abused, the Judge. To-day we have three Judges determining hours and wages, when one could perform the work. If we are to continue to advise the workers of Australia to use arbitration rather than the drastic weapon of the strike, it will be necessary to make the path to our Arbitration Court as easy, as straight, as cheap, and as effective as we possibly can. It is proposed to expend £118,550. Let us devote a portion of that sum to the cheapening of the process. I know an organization which had to meet costs totalling £6,000 to obtain ah award from the Court. No sooner are these awards de livered than it is necessary for the parties to start de novo. There should be the simple process of one Judge, and no lawyers. The original intention was that the Court should be a Court, not of law, but of equity. I am sorry to say that the history of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court has shown it to be a Court of all law and little equity. When we have equity and less law, we shall be nearer tha day of industrial peace.
– I am glad of the chance to speak on the motion for the second reading of this Bill. This is an additional opportunity that is afforded us to express an opinion on matters that we consider arn vital. I had intended to speak at some length on the reduced vote for defence. Of the amount which was voted last year, £200,000 was unexpended. It may be all right to hearken to the voice of those who say that there is no danger of an enemy invading the sacred soil of Australia, and that the mere fact that we hoist a warning placard is sufficient to frighten them off. I am not fool enough to believe that we are in such a fortunate position.
– I call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– Nothing rankshigher than the necessity to secure the . safety of this country. I notice that the. proposed vote this year is less than it was last year. I direct attention to what is happening in other countries. We have considered ourselves fortunate in the advantages which were derived from the’ Washington Conference. Do honorable senators know that Japan, by virtue of its ardent supplications, succeeded in re-‘ taining for the defence of its country the battleship Mutsa, which is mounted with 16-inch guns? The chief argument used, in favour of the retention of that battled, ship was that the entire cost of its 6011struction was subscribed by the people of Japan. If the people of Australia were asked to subscribe to the cost of constructing a battleship, what would the response be? The whole programme of the Washington Conference had to be varied in, order to yield to the application of Japan to retain that battleship, and not to scrap it. I do not think that the people of Australia - patriotic as they may be, in a general sense - would respond with a tithe of the sum contributed by Japan, if they were asked to subscribe for an Austraiian battleship. That country emerged from a very backward state comparatively a few years ago, and it ill becomes Australia to refrain from spending the money voted by Parliament last year for defence purposes. I do not think there is any danger of conflict between this country and any other; but the contrast remains of one country being so jealous of its defence power, and of our country underspending its defence vote. I do not intend to traverse the various subjects referred to by Senator Gardiner. We should not hug the delusion that Australia can escape the envious eyes of other nations. History shows that when the people of any country need room for expansion, and when they find any obstruction to their progress, as soon as they have mustered sufficient power they break down all barriers. If our people do not turn this country to the best account, what answer can we give to other nations who may tell us that they ‘intend to treat us in the same way that we dealt with the aborigines a century ago. Until fifteen years ago, Australia was able to show a better record in development than any other nation could boast of; but since then we have proved ourselves less worthy than those who preceded us. The Government would not be justified in reducing the defence expenditure. If we do not defend this country we cannot develop it, and if we do not develop it we deserve to lose it. I should like to see an increased vote for immigration. Honorable senators opposite do not wish to see any outsiders brought here unless the last man in the labour market has obtained a job. Senator Gardiner must admit that population is a primal element in defence, and as such needs to be strengthened with all the power we can command.
I wish to again refer to the question of gold mining. The men engaged in mining have to send the fruits of their labours to the markets of the world just as do those who are occupied in the wide field of rural production. There is no attempt on the part of these workers to limit production. The Customs revenue is over £5,000,000 in excess of the sum received last year. I maintain that the Customs Department should be conducted with the idea of giving a fair deal to all industries, especially the mining industry, which has not received sympathetic treatment from the present ‘and preceding Governments. It has been saddled with so many charges that it has now reached a lower ebb than has been experienced for many years. Senator McDougall imagines that a stiff Protective duty is all that is required to make Australia prosperous, but the direct effect of that policy in connexion with the mining industry has been to bring about pronounced stagnation. Let me quote the following table showing the progress of the principal classes of Australian manufacturing industries, giving a comparison of the years 1913 and 1921-22: -
That relates to one side of the industrial life of the Commonwealth, and shows how protected industries have thrived. I shall now show how the gold-mining industry has fared from 1913 to 1922-
There is not an industry in Australia which should command more sympathetic respect and the friendliest policy that we can possibly afford on its behalf than the gold-mining industry which has declined to the extent of one-third of what it was nine years ago, whilst other industries, except in regard to the number of men employed, have more than doubled their figures. Is it not time that the Government very seriously considered the position ? I need not remind honorable senators of what the gold industry has done in attracting people from the sea-coast to the untrodden wastes of the interior by assisting them to engage in remunerative occupations. When the mining industry prospers new undertakings develop, and so in the development of a country, particularly one with such vast resources, there is no industry which can compare with gold mining. This applies with equal force to Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales, and particularly to Western Australia, which produces 75 per cent. of the gold mined in Australia. It may be inferred that I have a personal interest in the industry, and I have, in so far that if this industry receives sympathetic treatment through the Customs Department, it will mean a revival of trade in the interior, and provide profitable and accessible markets for the products of every other industry in the Commonwealth. There is nothing produced which cannot be used by those engaged in the gold-mining industry. During the last nine years as shown it has declined to an alarming extent. The time has arrived for something to be done. It may be said that our gold resources are exhausted, but that is a foolish assertion. Only yesterday the members of the Public Works Committee were informed by the honorable member for Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) that there were enormous auriferous fields in close proximity to a railway awaiting development, and it requires only some consideration-I do not mean special consideration - by the Department of Trade and Customs to enable the mining industry to recover its position. I thought it worth while to briefly refer to the position in which the industry is placed, and I trust the Government will consider the facts Ihave brought before the Senate. On a former occasion when I made a similar appeal in this Chamber, I received sympathetic assistance from honorable senators, and I can only trust that, as the result of my efforts on this occasion, a determined attempt will be made to revive an industry which is of inestimable value to the Australian Commonwealth.
– I desire to assure the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) that he is under a misapprehension if he imagines that it was decided, at a caucus meeting of the party to which I belong, that our rights were to be curtailed in regard to the discussion of Bills brought before the Senate towards the close of the session. If Senator Gardiner’s followers were a little more considerate we should be able to exercise our rights; but that has been denied us by the tedious repetition and senseless arguments of honorable senators opposite.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newland). - I ask the honorable senator not to continue in that strain.
– In referring to the question of military training Senator Gardiner said that expenditure was being wasted, but when I look at the honorable senator’s stalwart form, and realize the physical strength which he possesses, and couple that with the intimate knowledge of elementary drill and the methods by which it is imparted, I have come to the conclusion that he must in his youth have undergone military training. It is a fair deduction from these facts that he owes his bodily fitness and the energy which he displays in leading his party in opposition to us to that very instruction and training which he now affects to despise. Northing could have been more ridiculous than the honorable senator’s description of elementary drill. Let us try to visualize an army such as Senator Gardiner would train going into action.
– I rise to order. I do not object to the honorable senator criticising any statements I have made, but I would like to know if he is in order in making a speech on defence matters at this stage ?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - The honorable senator is in order, as there is a defence vote in the Bill.
– Apparently other honorable senators can say what they like without being called to order.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- The honorable senator must not reflect on the decision of the Chair. Whilst I occupy this position I shall always act impartially.
– Can any one imagine an army such as Senator Gardiner suggests marching out of step, the tall man outstepping his shorter neighbour, the rear-rank man overstepping his comrade in the front rank and treading on his heels at each step. No one compelled to observe the silence necessary to insure that the leader’s commands be heard, and the whole rushing in a state of utter and indescribable confusion, tumult, and noise to attack the enemy. I recommend the honorable senator to read the history of the early battles in the American Civil War, and to recall the incidents which occurred in the battle of Bull’s Run, where 100,000 men, when at the moment of engaging-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- I ask the honorable senator not to pursue further that line of argument. He will not be in order in referring to what happened in the American Civil War, but he can deal with the defence vote in the : Bill.
– I am merely endeavouring to show that in engagements where the men have not been properly trained disaster has resulted from the outset. I shall endeavour, as I proceed, to prove the value of elementary training. When at Broadmeadows Camp I was in control of elementary drill, and on one occasion, when I found the members of a company misbehaving themselves, I punished them by compelling them to march at the rear of the battalion, where they realized the disadvantages of marching behind untrained troops. In the process of training, men are taught to march and to charge together, and nothing is more terrifying to an enemy than to see a great wall of men charging together, sweeping upon them in silence - till the proper moment comes - with every eye fixed upon the enemy, with stern set faces above, and line of flashing bayonets below. Confronted and terrified by such a sight, armies have been broken by the wild cheer that greeted the order to close without awaiting their actual onset. I have commanded brigades and many battalions, have seen them triumph in battles, and have greeted them beaten, but never disgraced, returning from a stricken field - they were proud moments ; but I have never been prouder than when, on one occasion in France, we marched, at night, 26 miles through heavy rain owing to the staff arrangements for motors having failed. When I arrived at General Sir John Monash’s head-quarters, and informed him that between 8 p.m. and 3 a.m. the men had to march 26 miles, his staff officer said, “They will never get here.” But at the appointed hour, to his astonishment-, at 3 a.m. the whole brigade marched in intact, in close and beautiful order, no man or horse missing from his place nor as much as a round of ammunition or a haversack missing, and without the loss of more than 100 yards in the length of the column. That was a great achievement, one of which one may well feel proud, but such results can only be achieved by the close observance of the rules which appear so ridiculous to Senator Gardiner. Saluting has also been ridiculed. Facing death is one thing, and most men can do it, but there are worse things than death - such as mutilation. When a man is faced with heavy gunfire it takes every resource he can call upon to steel himself to it. Saluting is only a habit of obedience to the will of another. It is like any other habit, good or bad, and it grows on a man until he automatically obeys the word of command and marches, if need. be, straight to certain death. Such obedience can be taught only by attention to simple rules, just as a boy, in learning to smoke, starts with a cigarette. If men were permitted to follow their own will in these matters, nothing could be accomplished in war. I do not know what Governmental action in regard to defence would satisfy the honorable senator. General White’s scheme would be an admirable one, if we were faced with the danger of immediate war. The honorable senator’s idea of training no one would be an excellent scheme if we were never to be engaged in war. The Government has endeavoured to strike a mean between those two extremes by training a nucleus which can expand, when necessary, into an efficient force. This has been their policy, both as regards the training of officers and men and the provision for munitions. Senator Gardiner has said that it is easy to improvise an army. Let him study what happened to the Americans when they tried to improvise an army during the recent war. Men with only a remote training in their youth found themselves transformed to brigadier-generals, and after months of training they admitted frankly that they knew nothing of their job. When the American brigadier in front of me had to make an attack on the Hindenburg Line towards the end of the war, I sent to him, not for his guidance, but for the guidance of his junior officers in the line, a few of my officers. They were to go to the front line troops and show them “ mopping up “ and other ‘ tricks of the trade “ that experience had taught us were so necessary. When the Americans met with disaster through not following the methods that experience had taught us, it was found that instead of my officers having been used, the brigadier-general had kept these second lieutenants on his staff, and was relying on their experience, such as it was, to teach him his job. That is what happens in the absence of a nucleus of trained men. It is because Australia had a nucleus of trained officers and men in 1914 that we were able to expand our forces much more successfully than were the Americans. Therefore, I am in entire agreement with the policy of maintaining a cadre of trained men. If we dispensed with the trained staff we should get back to where we were in 1880 and 1890. We would have to obtain staff officers from England. Sir John Monash, Senator Glasgow, and I received our elementary training from British officers who were imported by the States to teach us our jobs and guide our steps in acquiring the knowledge we afterwards applied in the field. As a result of. that training, we were able to attain a certain amount of success, but we were conscious at times that we made blunders. Had we had a training at Duntroon College we might have avoided those blunders. We devoted much of our leisure to the study of war, but had we devoted the whole of our lives to it and had a better training, we might have accomplished more than we did. So much for defence matters. On the subject of immigration, I notice that Senator Needham was very much concerned over the difficulties of a young English boy who, arriving here at seventeen years of age, went on a farm and, after three weeks’ work, gave up the job.
In the Age newspaper of to-day Senator Needham will find an announcement of the death of Sir James Burns. By a singular coincidence Sir James Burns came out from Scotland, almost penniless, at the age of seventeen years. He took a joh as a jackeroo. Before he died he was able to give £100,000 to charities, and he died an extremely wealthy man. My father had a similar experience. Attracted by the lure of gold, he came from the Scottish borders when- he was seventeen years of age.
– He paid his passage out here.
– His father probably paid it.
– The Government did not pay it.
– It makes no difference if a boy’s passage is paid for him by the Government. Times have changed. A paternal Government in these days often undertakes the things which in the old days were left, entirely to the natural parent. Notwithstanding the decline in gold mining, there are greater opportunities to-day than ever there were for a man to make good if he has the energy and stamina. Sir James Burns and my father, and many other fathers of Australian citizens, on the one hand, made good; on the other, we get this failure. Why waste pity on a man who has not the grit and stamina to tackle a hard job? Senator Needham . told me that twenty-two years ago he arrived in this country with a bawbee. Look at him now. Yet he would deny the unfortunate people in England the opportunity which he has enjoyed, and of which he has made such good use. I am not altogether pleased with the Government’s action in pushing on with the Appropriation Bill in this way. If Senator Wilson were in my place, I am sure he would have much to say regarding the Government’s action. Yet now he keeps us up all night, and expects us to deal in an intelligent way with this volume of figures. If I had a week’s holiday before tackling it I should have a headache before finishing it. Jaded and worn out, however, as we are, the Government drives us to this task of dealing with millions of the people’s money, and expects us to do justice to it. My first ground of objection is that the Government is systematically denying, this Senate any rights in the government of the country, and its lead is being followed by others. Even the departmental heads are ignoring us. Invitations have been sent out to attend a function at Canberra. All sorts of arrangements have been made without the slightest attempt to consult the wishes of this Senate. Are we to become mere cyphers, or shall we make a stand? If we want to make a stand, now is the time. The limit, as far as I am concerned, is about reached. Either the Senate should be abolished and our salaries saved to the country, or we should stand up to our job and insist upon reasonable treatment in matters of this kind. I am well aware that the Leader of the Government (Senator Pearce), by his previous training in the ranks of the Opposition, is well fitted to deny all rights to the Second Chamber. There is no doubt that a systematic attempt is being made to undermine the authority of this Chamber, as a preliminary to abolishing it. While I continue to draw my pay and the Constitution provides for our functioning, I shall not let such actions pass without a protest on my part. A short while ago I asked for some papers relating to the case of Warrant-Officer J. R. Allen to be produced. After considerable difficulty I succeeded in getting a Select Committee appointed to examine the facts. It was then found that a most vital file of papers had been denied to us. A file of papers relating to Warrant-Officer Allen was not made available until the .Select Committee extracted it ‘on oath.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newland). - The honorable senator is not in order in discussing the case of Warrant-Officer Allen. A Select Committee has been appointed to deal with that matter, and the Senate is now waiting for its report.
– The report is on the table of the Senate.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Honorable senators have not yet had the report.
– It is available to them.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- It was laid on the table only last night, and it has been impossible for honorable senators to get it.
– Unless I refer to it now, when I bring the matter up in Committee it will be said that I have sprung it on honorable senators. I do not desire to see that report adopted. I have a minority report.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - The honorable senator will not be in order in further referring to that report.
– I had hoped to enlighten the Senate. I trust that an opportunity will be afforded me in Committee to refer to the matter at length.
– I desire to refer to a statement made by Senator Lynch with reference to a battleship that was built in Japan, carrying 16-inch guns, the cost of which was subscribed by the people of Japan. The honorable senator was doubtful whether the patriotism of the Australian people was sufficient to induce them to follow the lead of Japan, and provide England with a Dreadnought. I draw his attention to the attempt which was made in Western Australia just after the outbreak of the war. Sir John Forrest and one or two other persons endeavoured to raise funds for the purpose of presenting a Dreadnought to the Old Country. The persons who were standing behind the big bank accounts could not produce more than £500, and the highest individual donation was only £50. I wish to refer, also, to the amount which it is proposed to expend on invalid and old-age pensions. The payment it is intended to make is not sufficient to allow the old people to live in comfort. It is true that the Government proposes to increase the pension from 15s. to 17s. 6d. a week. In his Budget speech, the Treasurer pointed out that food, groceries, and housing, which in 1909-10 could be procured for 20s., in 1922-23 cost 34s. 4d. That shows the decrease in the purchasing power of the sovereign. When he has satisfied his requirements in regard to food, groceries, and housing, the pensioner will have the small amount of 9d. per fortnight with which to clothe himself. The Treasurer has such a surplus that it should be possible to raise the payment to £1 per week. Many of the big taxpayers are to be relieved of their burdens. I notice that a sum of £33,000 is provided for immigration. That is altogether inadequate. I believe that there should be immigration to Australia, but provision should be made to insure that the immigrants will be properly catered for on their arrival. There have been instances of bad selection of the immigrants.
– The Western Australian system is a good one.
– It has not panned out very well. A lot of persons come out as farmers, and they have had no farming experience. There are scores of instances in Western Australia of married people being paid 10s. per week. They signed on as farm labourers, but did not know anything about a farm, and have to serve an apprenticeship to become qualified to do the work. The ranks of the unemployed are swelled unless provision is made to place the immigrants on arrival. One honorable senator stated that millions of acres of land are available in Australia. There is a large area of land which is not worth 2s. an acre, and a settler would not be able to make a living on it. Until there is a proper selection of immigrants, our immigration scheme will not be a success.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
First Schedule (Grants out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, £18,930,606) agreed to.
Second Schedule - The Parliament
Proposed vote £60,048.
– There is a very great disparity between the salary of the President and the salaries of those who are employed in the Senate. I have had some experience of parliamentary life. I have found the messengers in the Senate to be always most courteous, and obliging, and attentive to their duties. The salaries which they receive are totally inadequate for the work which they perform, particularly when one considers the changed conditions that have come about during the last few years. Take the President’s messenger at £250 per annum, the senior messengers at£212, and the junior messengers at £190 and £182. The salary of a senior messenger amounts to about £41s. 6d. per week, and with the cost of living allowance, and the basic wage allowance, including child endowment, the wage would be about £5 4s. per week. The cost of living has increased in the last five year3, and according to a statement in to-day’s press there has been a noticeable increase in the last few weeks, particularly in Victoria. Goods that could be purchased for £.1 in 1910 now cost 35s. 10d., so that it will be seen at once that, although the salaries of the messengers may have been increased, they have not been raised in proportion to the increase in the cost of living. The allowances may be cut off at any time, and therefore these payments should not be taken into consideration. An officer who was in receipt of £4 a week a few years ago would now be receiving £7 a week, or more, if due considerationwere given to the increased cost of living. Some of the messengers are married men, and I feel sure that some of them have families. How they keep their homes going, live in decency arid comfort, and keep out of debt, is to me a mystery. I have had no conversation with these officers with respect to their wages, but I hope that serious consideration will be given to their claims.
– I think all honorable senators will sympathize with Senator Findley in asking that the lower-paid officers of Parliament should be well treated. I quite agree that Parliament should set a good example by the way in which it treats its employees, but there is another aspect of the matter to be considered. We should remember that the officers and servants of this House are servants of the Commonwealth. I fail to see any reason why we should set a very much higher standard than obtains in” the Commonwealth Public Service. It has always been the desire of Mr. Speaker, the ex-Speaker (Sir Elliot Johnson), and myself to take the claims of these officers into consideration. There is one class of messengers in the General Division of the Commonwealth Public Service that is not comparable with our officers. I refer to junior- messengers, under ^ the age of twenty-one years, who receive from £60 to £120 per year. We have no such junior messengers in the Parliamentary Service. Ministerial messengers in the Commonwealth Public Service have a’ total remuneration, including allowances, of £266. These are the special messengers attending on members of the Ministry. The special messengers at tached to myself and Mr. Speaker receive a total salary of £278 per annum, which is £12 more than the amount paid to similar officers in the Commonwealth Public Service. The senior messengers in the Parliamentary Service are paid £262, as compared with £230 received by the senior messengers in the Commonwealth Service. This comparison shows that our officers have not been unfairly treated. When next year’s Estimates are under review, we shall consider whether the allowances now paid should be included as part of the fixed salary of these officers. Personally, I think that they should receive a fixed salary, and that if the allowances are to be continued, they should be added to the salary, so that an officer would know exactly where he stood. We have no desire to treat them other than fairly, but we should not be expected to set up a very much higher standard of payment than is adopted in connexion with the Commonwealth Public Service. Such a differentiation would cause jealousy, and lead to friction, which is not at all desirable.
– The President of the Senate is, in a sense, the employer of the officers referred to, and I thought he would have given us some further information with regard to these officers. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the vote for the Senate, £9,891, by £1.
My intention is that the adoption of the request shall be an instruction to the House Committee, over which the President presides, that this matter is deserving of much more consideration than the President has given it this morning. Comparisons such as those made by the President are odious.I have no hesitation in saying that this Senate has complete control over its own officers. When the President was a private member, he always “ barracked ‘’ to get a higher wage for the “ under dog.” I say, advisedly, that, starting from the housekeeper, at a salary of £280 per annum, and going down to the lowest-paid messenger, they are not being paid an ade-‘ quate wage for the services rendered. The cost of living allowance is a variable amount, and it should . not be taken into consideration as wages. It reminds me of the tipping system, which is abhorrent to all decent-minded men. The Committee should lay down the principle that a living wage shall be paid to our staff, and that the allowances shall not be taken into account in assessing it. The Royal Commission appointed by the late Government and supported by Mr. President, established a basic wage. Let us provide that these men shall at least receive the basic wage and anything additional which may be granted. I do not know whether I should be in order in suggesting the amounts to which these officers’ salaries or wages should be increased. I should like to make such a suggestion. If the Committee will adopt the request I have submitted, it will be an instruction to the House Committee to see that these men receive a fairer deal than at present. The . President has said that he disagrees with the cost-of-living allowance, and that the question of a fixed rate will be considered when the next year’s Estimates are being prepared. What is to happen to these men and their wives and families in the meantime? Are they merely to wait for a further twelve months while the President, who has been in control of their destinies for ten years, further considers their position? This Parliament decided upon the allowance which should be. paid to its members. I was not in the Senate when the increased allowance was adopted, but had I been here I would have supported it. Just as Parliament has its own Arbitration Court, in the matter of determining the allowance to be paid its own members, so it should be a Court for those officers who so willingly and faithfully attend to the comfort and needs of its members. The President should con- sider the services rendered by these men, and recognise that they are not being adequately paid for the duties they perform. An amount of £212 per year for each of the three senior messengers is only . a miserable pittance. The term “messenger” might very well be dispensed with; those who are so designated are men, like the rest of us, and should be called officers. What can a man who has a wife and family to support do on a. miserable wage of £212 per year when he has to meet the increased cost of living and pay an exorbitant rent. Rent to-day is almost prohibitive ; a man with a wife and two or three children to support cannot secure a decent dwelling in Victoria at a rental of less than 30s. per week. If we deduct that amount from the miserable pittance paid to senior messengers there is very little left. I do not like the suggestion of the President that the matter will be dealt with twelve months hence. It can be settled now. If the request I have moved is adopted by the Committee, it will be . an instruction to the President and the House Committee to immediately determine the wages of these men. They are worth a lot more than they are receiving. We fixed our own salaries and should realize that these men, who have been on duty since yesterday morning, and are still at work, are entitled to adequate remuneration.. They do not receive overtime, and I believe they are allowed only ls. 6d. for an evening meal. I do not think the President can get a decent meal, inside or outside of Parliament, for less than 2s. That is theamount I always pay for a meal in the Parliamentary refreshment rooms.
– The messengers are supplied with a first-rate meal for ls. 6d.
– I have to pay 2s.
– We supply them with a good meal for ls. 6d.
– I shall leave that phase of the question. I shall conclude by saying that it is ridiculous and unreasonable to suggest that faithful and efficient officers should be’ compelled to wait another twelve months before their case can be further considered.
– Senator Needham has made out a very excellent case for the men to whom he has referred. The cost of living has been soaring to an unheardof extent, and although some were of the opinion a year or two ago that there would be a fall, their hopes have not been realized. The cost of food and clothing is so high that it is unreasonable to ask men to perform responsible duties for this inadequate remuneration. I think the President and the Government and those responsible for the maintenance of Parliament - the total number employed is small - might well have relieved us of the necessity of debating this item by treating these officers, who are responsible for the good order in which the building is kept and the comfort of honorable members, more considerately. They should not only receive what others in similar positions are being paid, but more.
– Including the allowance and fixed salary, every one of them is better off than men in similar positions in the Commonwealth Public Service.
– That does not meet the difficulty.
– There may not be any great disparity, but I am concerned, with the position in which these men are placed. It has been my firm conviction for a number of years that they are altogether underpaid.
– The senior messengers in the Parliamentary Service all receive £262 per annum, including allowances, whilst the senior messengers in the Public Service receive £230 per annum, so that our messengers are getting £32 per year more.
– That is not a solution of the difficulty.
– I am merely giving the facts.
– Why not increase the rates?
– It appears to me that any one engaged in official duty in this House is occupying a position that cannot be compared with that of even an underpaid official elsewhere. These positions have to be filled by men of sterling character and integrity, and so far as I can remember most of the officers in this building have held their present positions for a long time. One of the saddest features of their employment is the poor prospect of any marked improvement in their conditions. I realize that there are greater risks outside, and that although the permanent officers have not very arduous tasks to perform when Parliament is in recess, they are on duty and are not allowed to engage in any other occupation. Those engaged in other services have access to the Arbitration Court, and from time to time may have their wages or salaries increased. A week ago the Federal Arbitration Court made an award to the men employed in the New South Wales Railways Department, and I saw a statement in the press - I do not know whether it was correct - to the effect that an additional sum of no less than £1,000,000 would have to be paid annually to those engaged in that Service. That is an indication of the strength of unionism, and what men can Tlo when they band themselves together in an endeavour to improve their conditions. Even the salaries of members of Parliament, which were rightly increased a few years ago, do not. compare favorably with the salaries paid to others whose responsibilities are not greater than ours. We hardly ever hear of an officer in the Defence Department, or a man occupying an important position in the Commonwealth Public Service, who does not receive a higher salary than the allowance paid to members of Parliament. It will be said that in certain circumstances exceptional ability is required. The parliamentarian has been extremely modest in the estimate of his own value, but modesty is not the word to apply to the estimate of the value of the services rendered by officers of this Chamber. At the close of this session nice things will be said about those who have done so much to make us comfortable. A more whole-hearted form of praise would be a statement by the President that it was his intention to remunerate them in keeping with the dignity of this Parliament. Although I have always been a supporter of the proposal to abolish the Senate, I wish again to emphasize my view that while it remains in existence we should maintain it on a level worthy of the position we occupy and the nation which created this Parliament. The pay of its officers is a very poor advertisement for this Parliament. I cannot see much sense in reducing the item by £1. It would be more to the point if we reduced the President’s salary to the same level as that of other members. He does not stay in the chamber any longer than other senators, and he does not add to the dignity of Parliament. Senator Needham ought to have moved that that item be reduced by £800 or £900.
, - I desire to move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item,’ “The Senate - Three senior messengers, at £212 - £636,” by inserting after “ Senior messengers “ the words, “one at £262; 2,” and increasing the vote “ £636,” by £50.
My object is to provide for increasing the salary of the senior messenger, Mr. Butcher, by £50 a year. Nothing is to be gained by moving that the item be reduced by £1. The President’s messenger receives £250 a year, and he does not have anything like so much work to do as the senior messenger on the door of the Senate. I was on a small sub-committee which was appointed a year ago to inquire into salaries paid to officers of Parliament. It was then arranged that if any salary increases were granted to officers of another place, corresponding increases would be given to officers of the Senate. The members’ correspondence clerk on the other side has had his salary increased to £285, but there is no corresponding increase on this side. Mr. Butcher has to deal with all our correspondence, and he handles it well. He has to take messages at the door, and he does that well. He is a satisfactory officer. It is ridiculous to pay different salaries to two men who are doing precisely the same work.
– If Senator John D. Millen’s amendment will achieve something definite I shall be willing to withdraw mine. The object of my amendment was not to increase the salary of only one officer. I realize that Mr. Butcher is capable and courteous. All the officers of the Senate are capable and courteous, and all of them are underpaid. I said I would like to specify the amounts by which the salaries of those officers should be increased, and that I had £50 in my mind. If Senator John D. Millen is prepared to provide in his request that the £50 increase shall be granted to all the lower-paid officers, I will withdraw my amendment. Is there any more capable or more courteous officer than Mr. Aplin? Starting with him, a £50 increase ought to be granted to- all. I said I did not want to make this Committee an arbitration tribunal, but I wanted to issue an instruction to the House Committee, and particularly to the President, who, on the floor of this House, fought for the “under-dog,” but since he has been elevated to the position of President, has sometimes forgotten the man on the lower rung. I am prepared to follow any course which will achieve my object.
– It is very easy for a person to make himself a good fellow at the expense of others. Every honorable senator could propose increases similar to those which have been proposed. I do not suppose that we are less kind-hearted than is Senator John D. Millen or Senator Needham; but we are here to conserve the interests of those who have to foot the bill. The House Committee is charged with the important duty of regulating the remuneration, hours of labour, and conditions of the employees. It is beneath the dignity of the Senate to enter into an analytical consideration of the treatment of officers. The Senate, in a general way, can express its view, which will be taken as an instruction by the House Committee, that the officers shall not be less or more favorably treated than those occupying corresponding positions whose conditions are regulated by Arbitration Court awards. Senators Needham and John D. Millen will not pay these increases out of their own pockets. I claim to be as good a friend of the officers as any honorable senator, but I believe that the Senate will be acting beyond its duty if it does what is proposed.
– I have assured the Committee that all the representations that are made here will receive full consideration. Parliament is master of its own household. Let me again quote the figures relating to the salaries of officers, for the benefit of those honorable senators who were not in the chamber when I last spoke. We have always recognised that Parliament should be a model employer, and we have placed our messengers and other employees on a better footing than those occupying similar positions in the Commonwealth Public Service. Including all allowances, a messenger in the Commonwealth Public Service who is attached to a Minister receives a total of £266 per annum. The President’s and Speaker’s messengers each receive a total of £278 per annum. A senior messenger in Parliament receives a total of £262 per annum, while the senior messengers in the Commonwealth Public Serviceare paid £230 per annum. Honorable senators will see at once that messengers in the Senate are on a somewhat better wicket than are those in the
Public Service. We have ‘ always tried to preserve a . balance between the officers of the two Houses, and to see that no anomalies exist in the salaries that are paid tq the officers of each House. When framing the Estimates, the Speaker and I get the heads of the five Departments to consult and to preserve a balance, in order that one man will not get more than another who is doing the same class of work. If Senator John D. Millen’s request is carried, it will mean that the Senate doorkeeper will receive £50 a year more than the doorkeeper in the House of Representatives, and the balance will be destroyed. It is idle for Senator John D. Millen to say that the Senate doorkeeper has more responsible duties to perform. The duties are similar in each case. Mr. Butcher is not in charge of correspondence to any greater extent than is the doorkeeper on the other side. Mr. Sparks is really in charge of the correspondence, stamps, and things of that kind. The reason for the apparent anomaly in his case is that the officer doing similar work on the other side is in the clerical branch of the Service, whereas our officer is classified as a special messenger. It would disturb the whole arrangement of the Parliament and the Public Service if we were to raise his, office any higher. If an exception is made in one case, the whole scheme will have to be recast, and we shall be attempting to dictate to the Speaker as to the salaries that should be paid to officers in the House of Representatives.
, - I have risen to speak because of the remarks made by Senator Lynch, and the request moved by Senator John D. Millen. Senator Lynch contends that it is beneath the dignity of the Committee to discuss a matter of this kind.
– To discuss individual cases.
– I did not discuss individual cases. Senator Lynch said that we could well afford to be generous with other people’s money. We seek for these employees, not generosity, but justice. I contend that they have not received that consideration and justice to which they are entitled. Let us examine the positions of these men. The salary of one messenger is £3 10s. a week. It is true that he gets the cost of living allow ance, basic wage, and child endowment allowance, which increase his salary to £4 10s. or £4 12s. 6d. a week. The Committee should remember the statement made by Senator Givens, one of the employers of the officers of Parliament,, that he is not in favour of these allowances. Senator Pearce said that when allowances are granted by Parliament they are never taken away.
– Have you ever known of an allowance being taken away ?
– The President and the Speaker jointly adjust the salaries. Another messenger receives about £3 13s. and allowances, while a senior messenger gets, roughly, £4 ls. 6d. and allowances. I ask Senator Givens how it is possible for a married man, with even a small family, to pay out of that salary the rents that are demanded? It is not possible to get a five-roomed weatherboard habitation, within a reasonable distance of Melbourne, at less than from 30s. to 35s. a week; and one is very lucky to get one at all. The payment of rent and tram or train fares represents fully £2 a week. Some of these messengers, therefore, have only £2 10s. a week with which to clothe themselves, their wives and families, provide the necessaries of life, and keep up the dignity of their position as messengers in the Commonwealth Service. I am not influenced by the fact that messengers in the Departments are receiving a lower salary. If they are not being paid a wage that is commensurate with the work which they perform it is for them to move in the direction of getting a higher wage. I am not satisfied with the assurance that full and serious consideration will be given to the claims advanced. Senator John D. Millen has moved a specific request that makes an invidious distinction. Honorable senators on this side desire to see the wages of the messengers generally increased.
– I agree to that.
– Then let the honorable senator support the Opposition. I do not think the Committee will hesitate to grant another £1 per week to all the messengers. Some of them would then receive £6 per week, which in purchasing power would be about equal to £3 10s. in 1910.
– This Committee should set an example to those employing other men in a similar capacity. Any alteration made in the salaries of the’ messengers should apply generally. When Senator Lynch voted to increase his own salary from £600 to £1,000 a year he thought he was deserving of the extra amount. Without doubt our messengers are justly entitled to an increase that will place them on a living wage. As a member of the House Committee I endeavoured to obtain an increase in their meal allowance from ls. 6d. to 2s., but I was unsuccessful. They should be placed in a position to obtain a hot meal at the House for 2s., just as honorable senators are able to do.
– I regret that Senator Lynch, with his usual lugubrious irresponsibility, attempted to impute motives to certain honorable senators by insinuating that they were endeavouring to make themselves good fellows at the expense of other honorable senators. That is quite a misstatement of the case.
– Who would pay for this increase?
– The taxpayers, and I desire to see that the taxpayer not only obtains full value for his money, but also gives a reasonable wage for services rendered. I thought that this Committee by supporting the amendment I have indicated could announce to the House Committee that it desired the salaries of all the messengers to be increased.
– Senator Hoare spoke as though Parliament had a special responbility with regard to the Parliamentary staff, but not with respect to the Public Service generally. I remind the Committee that this staff is only a small section of the Public Service, and that whatever may be our responsibility for the messengers here, we have an equal responsibility in respect of every messenger throughout the Public Service. The only difference is that the Parliamentary messengers come under our notice, whereas the others do not. The figures referred to by the President, showing that the Parliamentary messengers receive more in wages than those in corresponding posi tions in the Commonwealth Public Service, speak for themselves. Is Parliament to constitute itself a Wages Board to deal with individual cases? An Act has been placed on the statute-book relating to Public Service arbitration in order that Parliament should not have to concern itself with the minutioe of details connected with salaries.
– The Committee has before it two requests. Senator Needham has moved to reduce the total vote by £1; and Senator John D. Millen has moved to increase a certain item by £50. The latter request cannot be considered until Senator Needham’s amendment has been disposed of.
– I have no intention of withdrawing my request. Any inclination I might have had to do so has disappeared since listening to the remarks of the Minister (Senator Pearce), who suggested that the Committee had no right to constitute itself a Wages Board. There is certainly room for it to do good work in that capacity. Can the officers in question appeal to the Public Service arbitrator ?
– If they join an organization there is nothing to prevent them from doing so.
– The Minister made the statement that they were part and parcel of the Commonwealth Public Service. If they were they could appeal to Mr. Atlee Hunt, the Public Service Arbitrator. The Minister now says that such is not the case.
– I say they can.
– By what means ?
– By forming or joining an association.
– Is there any association to cover them?
– Yes, the Public Service Association.
– We are the employers of these men, and the President of the Senate is their chief employer. In the President’s second speech he stated that if the salary of a certain messenger on the Senate side were increased, it would upset the balance between the payments of the officers of the two Houses. I am not concerned about upsetting the balance of parliamentary arrangements, but am more concerned with the bank balance of these officials. Senator Lynch, with his usual kindness, accused us of using other people’s money to make good fellows of ourselves, but he knows that we are all paid with the people’s money. When this Parliament constituted itself an Arbitration Court to determine what allowance its members should receive, Senator Lynch said, “ I am worth £1,000 a year, and I am going to have it.” The money with which our allowances are paid is contributed by the taxpayers. We are not making good fellows of ourselves, but trying to help other men from the same source from which Senator Lynch draws his allowance. Since these officers are not receiving a living wage, I shall take the risk of being a member of an Arbitration Court or Wages Board to determine whether or not they should receive more.
– Since I have been a member of the Senate, I doubt if I have ever participated in a debate of this character, because I have been “soft “ enough to believe that the President would do justice to the employees. That idea has gone out of my mind. The Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) and the President compared persons employed in this building with those engaged in the Public Service. A gentleman informed me a little while ago that some one who was now receiving a salary of £2,000 a year had at one time been a messenger, and I should like to know why the messengers employed here have not an opportunity of improving their position. They are not part and parcel of the Public Service, but are under the direction of the President. I trust that I shall never live to see the day when the Wages and conditions of Parliamentary officials are in any way interfered with by an Arbitration Court. In view of the enormous increase in the cost of living during the last ten years, the wages which these men are now receiving from the point of view of their purchasing power are actually less, owing to our ineptitude and carelessness, than they were a decade ago. I am somewhat in doubt as to whether I should sup port the request for a reduction of 20s. or wait until Senator John D. Millen’s proposal is before the Committee. I think I shall vote for both, and Senator Lynch will then be able to say that I am making myself a good fellow with the President and with the others who would be involved. There is no reason, however, why I should make myself a good fellow with the President, because for the last eight years he has made my life as unbearable as he possibly could by straining and practically breaking the Standing Orders in order to interfere with my right to discuss all business before the Senate.
– Order! I do not think the honorable senator is in order in referring to the actions of the President.
– Surely in discussing the President’s salary I can refer to the treatment I have received from him.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.As a new member, I am not yet fully conversant with the Standing Orders of the Senate, but I am under the impression that an honorable senator is not in order in reflecting upon the P resident *
– I understand the amendment is to reduce the President’s salary by £1.
The . TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN. - No; that a proposed vote for the Senate be reduced by that amount.
– The President’s salary is included in the total amount, and I think this is a favorable opportunity to repeat what I have already stated in this Chamber concerning the President’s action on one occasion when I had been addressing the Senate at considerable length. The usual time for adjourning for breakfast had arrived, and in accordance with custom I asked tha President if the time had not arrived to adjourn for breakfast. He assured me that, on account of the very lengthy sitting, for which he held me responsible, not having been anticipated, breakfast had been delayed, and although I waited until half-past 10 the Senate still continued sitting. Later, when the President returned to the Chamber, I asked if the Senate was not going to adjourn for breakfast, and the President, in the coolest possible manner said, “ I have had my breakfast.” The Standing Orders were completely ignored merely for the purpose of doing me a personal injury. Although the incident happened some years ago, I still resent that cruel, unfair, and brutal treatment meted out to me by the gentleman who occupied the chair on that occasion, and who is still the President of the Senate. On another occasion, when speaking on a motion for the adjournment, I was reading a letter addressed to me by a distinguished gentleman, who had been a member of another House, in relation to an important defence matter. When I had nearly concluded reading attention was directed to the absence of a quorum. Before the President had time to count the House I hurriedly concluded the remaining passages of the letter, but the President jumped up in a passion and instructed the officer in charge of the Hansard staff in the Senate not to include in the report that portion of the communication which I had read after attention had been called to the want of a quorum. The President, when armed with authority, under which he can make rules and regulations to suit his own convenience, is a tyrant of the worst possible type. He watches me like a cat watching a mouse, and at every possible opportunity calls me to order. I think it is time that honorable senators were in a frame of mind to see that the offices of President and Chairman of Committees were altogether lifted from the pettiness of party politics. Nothing would induce me more to support a reduction in this vote than the fact that the President walks into the Chamber and records his vote in every petty division taken in Committee. The President should be above that. He should not be a party hack and vote as does an honorable senator on the floor of the Chamber. This would be an appropriate occasion to reduce the salaries of the President and the Chairman of Committees, which, at the existing rates, are altogether too high. It may be true that in making a distinction in the salaries of some of the lower-paid officers, difficulties might arise, but it should be remembered that messengers have not the same opportunities of promotion as have officers outside. The Minister (Senator Pearce) has lost sight of the fact that the wages and conditions of persons employed in the precincts of this House are not controlled by the Arbitration Court, and I venture to say that the President - although I object to almost everything he does - would not permit the Court to interfere with what is our own business. No Arbitration Court has a right to interfere with the officers of this Parliament. There is enough ability in this Senate to manage the officers connected with it without calling in the assistance of an outside body. I am quite sure that Senator Pearce is wrong in saying that at law our officers have power to go to the Arbitration Court. Despite all the grudges I bear the President for his wicked treatment of me, I can say of him that I believe that if he was asked by the Arbitration Court to say how much money he paid to the staff of the Senate he would tell that Court to mind its own business. I believe he could be depended upon to do the right thing on such an occasion. Some time ago I wanted to quote a document, but the Deputy President (Senator Newland) ruled that I could not do so. We give this man, as Chairman of Committees, £500 a year above the ordinary parliamentary salary, and that is the way he interprets the Standing Orders. Another reason why the amount should be reduced is that I was under the impression that when the second reading of the Bill had been taken the Government would not proceed further with it until the next sitting of the Senate. Is there no method by which we could decide the merits of this question in a straightforward way?
Motion (by Senator DeakeBrockman) put -
That the Committee do now divide.
The Committee divided.
Majority . . 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the proposed vote, “ The Senate, £9,891 “, by£1 (Senator Needham’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item, “ The Senate - 3 Senior Messengers,” by inserting after the word “Messengers,” the words “1 at £262; 2 “ and by increasing the proposed vote of £636 by £50.
Motion (by Senator DrakeBrockman) put -
That the Committee do now divide.
The Committee divided.
Majority . . … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the proposed request (Senator John D. Millen’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item, “ House of RepresentativesThe Speaker £1,100, by £1,000.
I do this, not because I bear the Speaker any ill-will, but in order that I may have an opportunity of speaking on these Estimates. The practice - quite a new one to the Senate - of moving “that the Committee do now divide,” before any’ honorable senator has discussed a matter, drives one to certain expediencies that otherwise would not be thought of. I notice that Mr. Speaker, in conjunction with the President, controls the messengers and officers who are thought by honorable senators on this side to be underpaid. The fact that a request has been proposed in this Chamber to reduce by £1,000 the salary of Mr. Speaker will indicate to him that some one is interesting himself in the poorly paid attendants. I want Mr. Speaker to realize the huge disproportion that exists between the salaries of those who are on the lower rung of the ladder and those who, like himself, are at the top of the ladder. We do not desire to see a reduction in the salaries paid to those who are at the top of the ladder, hut we do desire to raise the salaries of those who are on the lower rung, and who do so much useful work in this Parliament. The difference between £1,900 and £212 is a big one. Notwithstanding the fact that they receive £1,900 a year, the Speaker and the President are not debarred from engaging in occupations outside Parliament, in which they may earn another £2,000 or £3,000 a year. If any one in the Commonwealth Public Service or the Parliamentary Service started in business outside, his position would very soon be taken from him. The President and Mr. Speaker have not managed the employees under their control in a way that is satisfactory to honorable senators on this side. The claims of certain individuals have been overlooked year after year. In order ‘to bring the claims of these men forcibly under the notice of Mr. Speaker, and for that reason only, we feel it incumbent upon us to suggest a reduction in his salary.
– I fail to see any justice in granting the Chairman of Committees more than any other honorable senator. His allowance should be reduced by £400.
– It would be a great injustice to do that, because the Chairman receives only £800 by way of member’s allowance.
– If I move for a reduction of £200, his total allowance will still be £100 above the ordinary allowance of a senator. I move -
That the House of Representatives ihe requested to reduce the item “House of Representatives - Chairman of Committees £500” by £200.
Motion (by Senator Drake-Brockman) proposed -
That the Committee do now divide.
– Would I be in order, Mr. Chairman, in moving “ That the Committee do now report progress”?
– No; the motion submitted by Senator Drake-Brockman must be put.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the motion “ That the Committee do now divide “ was not stated by you from the Chair.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.We revert automatically to the original question.
– I intend to discuss this matter and place you in the position of having to use your arbitrary powers against me.
– Will the honorable senator resume his seat?
– I shall resume it in order to obey you, Mr. Chairman, and I shall rise again to speak immediately afterwards.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable senator is out of order.
– You may be a big man in Western Australia, but you must recognise that honorable senators have rights in this Chamber.
– Order ! The honorable senator is out of order.
– The whole of the proceedings are out of order when such an absurd attitude is adopted. There is no such thing as order here when honorable senators are deprived of their rights to discuss matters coming before the Committee. An honorable senator can be put out of Parliament, but he cannot be prevented from speaking when he is still in the Chamber.
– Order !. I call on the honorable senator to resume his seat.
– I intend to speak for the people who sent me here, and I can only be silenced by the party opposite using its arbitrary powers. I do not intend to be put down by a few people from Western Australia, including the Leader of the Government (Senator Pearce) and the honorable senator who now occupies the* chair. The proper Chairman, had he been in his place, would have declined to take such action.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I now suspend the proceedings of the Committee for the purpose of reporting Senator Gardiner to the Senate.
– “What power have you to suspend the proceedings? You have no right to do that.
In the Senate:
– I have to report that I have suspended the proceedings of the Committee, under standing order 439, owing to the persistent and wilful disregard of the authority of the Chair by Senator Gardiner.
– I ask Senator Gardiner if he has any reasonable explanation to offer for disobeying the Chair, and I appeal to him, for the sake of the good feeling amongst honorable senators and the dignity of the Senate, to consider his position.
– I have a most excellent reason to offer. The Committee was proceeding to discuss in detail the items of the Estimates. I had submitted motions in. regard to two items–
– There is a proper way for an honorable senator to proceed when he is ruled out of order and takes exception to that ruling. The honorable senator could have moved that the Chairman’s ruling be disagreed with.
– The honorable senator was not ruled out of order. The Chairman left the chair.
– I am not acquainted with the circumstances.
– Will you listen to a statement of them?
– My desire is to preserve the dignity of the Senate, and I hope that Senator Gardiner will adopt a reasonable attitude. The Temporary Chairman has reported him to the Senate, and it is now for the Senate to take such action as it thinks fit. I ask Senator Gardiner whether he will adopt the usual course of withdrawing and apologizing for his wilful disobedience of the Chair? I trust he will not compel me to take extreme action.
– I feel sure that the Temporary Chairman of Committees has not explained the matter at sufficient length for you, sir, to appreciate exactly the position we were in. There was a conflict between him and myself on my rights in Committee. In attempting to preserve my rights, I may have used strong language. I do not want to cover it up or deny it. When my rights are threatened,
I am not particular about the language I use. But I wish to be candid and fair. While I was speaking on my rights, I was called to order by the Temporary Chairman. I considered that the whole procedure of the Committee had become improper, and that my rights, as one of its members, were being taken from me. I know that I have rights. As long as I am here I intend to assert those rights, and what action the Senate may take will not trouble me in the slightest degree. We were considering the first item on the Estimates. I had moved two amendments, and before I could move my third amendment Senator Poll moved that the vote on the whole Department should be put. When that question was put by the Temporary Chairman, I could see that my rights were being taken from me, and to prevent that I persisted in speaking.
– The honorable senator was not entitled, under the Standing Orders, to continue speaking after the question “ That the Committee do now divide” had been put.
– :Then you rule, sir, that my rights can be taken from me in such a way?
– No honorable senator has any rights which the Senate does not give him. The Senate makes rules for the proper conduct of its business, and the honorable senator has had a sufficiently long parliamentary experience to. know that the Standing Orders and practices of the Senate exist not merely to uphold the dignity of the Senate, but to provide proper methods for the transaction of business. In refusing to obey the Chair, the honorable senator was guilty of an offence for which ‘he was reported by the Temporary Chairman. I ask him to withdraw what he said and apologize, and so respect the dignity of the Chair.
– I have not yet exhausted all that I have to say. If, after I have fully explained the position to you, sir, you still rule that I was out of order, I shall .be prepared to fall in with your directions as far as possible, so that any unpleasantness may be overcome. After the Temporary Chairman had called me to order, he gave me as severe a look as such a genial gentleman could assume, and directed me to resume my seat. I resumed my seat, but when he put the question I again rose to speak. I did not desire to be offensive to him, but I was determined to maintain my right to debate matters. The Temporary Chairman again called me to order, and while I was endeavouring to explain my position he left the chair. Wo motion “That the Chairman do now leave the chair “ was put, as should have been done to comply with the procedure of this Chamber. The Chairman cannot of his own volition leave the chair and report an honorable senator.
– The Temporary Chairman’s action was quite in accordance with the Standing Orders; The honorable senator will see that if he reads standing order 439.
– If that is so, there is nothing left for me but to recognise the Standing Orders, and to submit to whatever punishment the Senate wishes to put upon me.
– I ask the honorable senator to apologize to the Temporary Chairman, and withdraw his remarks. That is the usual course. If he takes it, the dignity of the Senate will be upheld. It is essential that the authority of the presiding officer shall be recognised. I hope the honorable senator will conform with the customary practice.
– I wish to ask you a question, sir.
– The honorable senator is not in order in speaking at this stage.
– Why not?
– Simply because it is not in accordance with the Standing Orders.
– Surely an honorable senator has a right to speakon a question involving the removal of a member of this Chamber.
– I have the duty of maintaining proper order in the Senate, and I ask the honorable senator to resume his seat.
– It is hard to tell what is proper order these days.
– I ask Senator Gardiner whether he will take the usual course of withdrawing and apologizing.
– I think, sir, after the judgment you gave early this morning, and after your persuasive words now, I can hardly help relenting. You know, sir, that I have no ill-will against you or against the Temporary Chairman. I do apologize and withdraw for having asserted my rights. I felt that I had to make a stand to protect the rights of honorable senators. It appears that in so doing I was doing something more than the Standing Orders permitted. You, sir, have shown me in a judicial manner that technically I have been guilty of conduct which demands withdrawal and apology. Therefore, without any qualification, I apologize for having been guilty of an offence in refusing to obey the Chair.
Question - That the Committee do now divide - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the vote, “ Parliament House, £60,048,” be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . … 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of the Prime Minister.
Proposed vote, £398,597.
– In the administrative section of this vote there is provision for a secretary to the Department at £1,250, an assistant secretary at £650. In the professional division there is another item for the “private secretary to the Prime Minister,” and in the clerical division is an amount for a “private secretary/’
– The last-named is secretary to the Vice-President of the Executive Council.
– Can the Minister give me any information as to the number of secretaries who will accompany the Prime Minister on his mission abroad 1 I understand that the private secretary to the Prime Minister will go to London, and that Mr. Bruce, the citizen, will take another private secretary.
– The Prime Minister will be accompanied by Mr. Strahan, assistant secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department. Mr. Russell will accompany the Prime Minister in a private capacity.
– Will he take any part in public proceedings ?
– I do not know, but he is not being paid by the Commonwealth.
– If Mr. Russell is going to London as private secretary to Mr. Bruce, the citizen, and will take no part in the proceedings of the Conferences, I have nothing further to say, but we should be definitely informed that he is not going in any other capacity than as an unofficial secretary to Mr. Bruce.
– I ask the Minister to give serious attention to the matter raised by Senator Findley. A gentleman named Russell, whom I do not know, is said to have a free hand in the Prime Minister’s Department, and to have access to papers that are not available to the permanent officials of the Department.
– Is the honorable senator sure of that?
– No ; I only know what the newspapers have said. It is a grave matter if some one not responsible to the Government has access to official papers in the Prime Minister’s Department.
– I agree. If the honorable senator can. establish the fact, I shall be with him.
– I am repeating the information that has been published in the public press. I understand that Mr. Russell is having a run through the Department in order to make himself acquainted with public business, and so qualify himself for the position of semiofficial secretary on the other side of the world. That is a departure from the correct procedure. An amateur coming into a Department and lending a hand is an innovation. The Prime Minister has to. go to London on official business. He will go as Australia’s representative, and he should have ample support from secretaries and other assistants. He cannot divest himself of his public capacity. I ask hon*orable senators to consider an analogous case. Suppose that Mr. Charlton were Prime Minister, and I, in the position of Senator Wilson, decided to appoint a private secretary from one of the trade unions.
– Say “ Jock “ Garden.
– He has all the qualifications of character and capacity to make an excellent secretary.
– That would be all right, so long as he did not have access to official files.
– Even if I were willing to pay his expenses out of my own pocket, would I be taking the correct course? I would not. There are in the Public Departments trained officers of capacity who are responsible, not only to Ministers of the day, but to all Governments that may hold office. One of the society newspapers has said that Mr. Russell will go to England at his own expense, and will have the advantage of an introduction into social circles in Britain to which he would not have access if he were not in the train of the Prime Minister of Australia. This opens up a new question. Are social advantages to be a consideration. What may be the result if, in the course of the serious negotiations of the Conference, the one official private secretary falls ill, and the work devolves upon a gentleman not in the Commonwealth Public Service? I have not the slightest doubt that Mr. Bruce is helping his friend along by giv- ing him the best possible introduction into society circles. No one would have any objection to Mr. Bruce taking his private secretary in his private capacity, but I would like to know if, on this occasion, his action is debarring some official of the Public Service from accompanying the Prime Minister. I have no doubt that Mr. Russell has all the qualifications required of a private secretary. He would not be in his present position unless Mr. Bruce thought he had. But there is another phase of this matter, and referring to this I am on surer ground than merely a newspaper statement. I am advised that this gentleman already spends a good deal of his time in the Prime Minister’s Department, and has access to public papers. Tn my judgment this is improper. Our public servants are trained to secrecy. We do not know what public papers may be open to the perusal of this gentleman. If he is Mr. Brace’s private secretary, he ought to be employed in Mr. Brace’s private office. To my mind his presence in the Prime Minister’s Department is an unwarranted trespass. I realize, of course, that Ministers will see nothing in what I am saying, but it has to be said. I feel that I would be lacking in my duty if I did not join Senator Findley in protesting against a private individual being engaged in the Prime Minister’s Department.
– For fear that he may accuse me of discourtesy, I cannot ignore what the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) has said, but the manner in which the question has been raised suggests that his principal object is to occupy the time of the Committee.
– If the Ministerobjects to the maimer in which I say things, he must accept the responsibility for having put upon me an undue strain.
– Then I assume that Senator Gardiner is serious, and desires information as to the position of this gentleman. Mr, Russell will have no official status with the delegation at all. He will go as Mr. Brace’s private secretary. The secretary to the delegation will be Mr. Strahan, Assistant^ Secretary to the Prime Minister’s Department, and
I presume that all official business will be dealt with through him. But suppose Mr. Bruce does put upon his private secretary some of his political work. Will that be a serious crime? What is the practice in Great Britain? Honorable senators know, of course, that the practice is for Ministers to provide themselves with private secretaries from outside the Public Service altogether.
– Do they have access to official documents?
– Yes. They have access to papers that go before the Minister. In Great Britain this is the ordinary training, as Senator Elliott must know, for aspirants for Parliament. I suggest that we should not be disturbed by this ridiculous severity about secrecy. Temporary employees of the Public Service have access to public documents. I have had, at times, as private secretaries, a number of temporary officers who have not been confirmed in their appointment. They had access to papers that came before me, and perhaps in six months’ time they were out of the Service altogether. What is the difference between one of those gentlemen and a private secretary paid by a Minister himself?
– Would this gentleman be liable under the Official Secrets Act?
– Certainly. The Act applies to any person who makes improper use of information contained in public documents. Surely we can trust the Prime Minister in this matter. He is not likely to commit public documents to any person who is likely to misuse them. I take exception to Senator Gardiner’s reference to what, after all, is mere society chatter. I am surprised that the honorable senator reads that class of literature. I gave him credit for more sobriety of mind. I am surprised that ho should be led away by silly chatter in some of the society newspapers, and that he should see in the Prime Minister’s action some sinister motive.
– I made no suggestion of sinister motives. I simply said that the appointment of Mr. Russell was an invasion of the rights of the Public Service.
Motion (by Senator Needham) put -
That the Chairman report progress.
Ayes . . . . 8
Noes . . . . . . 17
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) put -
That the Committee do now divide.
The Committee divided.
Majority … . . 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £967,087.
– If the Government intend to pursue these tactics with the other divisions, they should do so at once. I dare say the Minister used the gag to cover up an item concerning the High Commissioner’s Office that called for criticism. An amount of £371 has been owing by a certain person to the Government since 1912, and although two or three Governments have subsequently been in power, the debt has never been paid.
– I put the question because there was no legitimate discussion on the previous vote.
– In the administrative division, the salary of the Secretary is shown as £1,500, and last year it was £1,400. In the clerical division, the Assistant Secretary is to receive £850 per annum, with an allowance of £100. Many of the lower-paid officials receive no more than do the attendants in this House.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the proposed vote by £1.
I do this with a view to pressing for the increase of the invalid and old-age pensions to at least £1 per week. According to the Commonwealth Statistician’s figures, the equivalent of the 10s. pension which was paid in 1910 is to-day about 17s.10d. ; consequently, if the Government increase the pension to 17s. 6d., as proposed, the oldage and invalid pensioners will be in a worse position than in 1910. The tendency is for the cost of living to increase, and already in Victoria it is higher, probably, than in any other State. I hope the Committee will extend their sympathetic consideration to these pensioners, and increase the pensions to £1 per week. Some people consider it a dole for paupers, but the aged’ citizens of the Commonwealth are justly entitled to their pension. They were the pioneers of this country, and they have a claim on the people for a pension, to enable them to live in some sort of decency and comfort. This they cannot do on 17s. 6d. per week. According to the Budget statement of the Treasurer, the accumulated surplus is over £7,000,000, and the sound financial position of the Government has already been indicated during the present session by the proposed large expenditure for specific purposes. Only a few hours ago the Minister stated that over £250,000 was to be paid to the various States to assist needy settlers. They cannot contend that the state of the finances will not permit them to adequately assist the invalid and old-age pensioners. If necessary, additional taxation should he imposed in order to help ‘these people. If a vote of the people were taken tomorrow, an overwhelming majority would be in favour of increasing the pension to at least £1 per week. I ask the Committee to accept the amendment that I have submitted.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) put -
That the Committee do now divide.
The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 3
– Order ! I ask the honorable senator to resume his seat.
– This is “ putting in the dirt.”
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - that the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the proposed vote by £1 (SenatorFindley’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from 9.8 to 9J/.5 a.m. (Thursday).
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the proposed vote for the Superannuation Fund Management Board, £5,677, by1s.
I have previously called the attention of the Minister for Home and Territories to the injustice that is being done under the Superannuation Act to five widows of former officers of thePost and Telegraph Department in Western Australia. The matter may be best explained to the Committee by reading the following correspondence : -
Australian Telegraphists Union,
Western Australian Bramch,
G.P.O., Perth, 5th June
Senator Needham, Melbourne
I have, by direction of the Western Australian Branch Committee of the Australian Telegraphists Union, to address you on the subject of the Superannuation Act, and the manner in which it has affected the dependants of some of our late members, with pension rights, in contradistinction to the way they would have been treated had they come compulsorily under the provisions of the Act, and not under a Western Australian State Act.
In a general sense the Superannuation Act provides (section 38) that where an employee, having ten years’ service, dies between 31st December, 1920, and 5th January, 1923, a pension is payable to his widow and children. This applies in all States. However, later on (section 51 to 58) the Act makes special provision for employees with pension rights, apart from, and existing prior to, the Superannuation Act, to transfer or convert their rights, or to come under the Act for the limited purpose of a pension for their widows and children.
This part of the Act was evidently designed to prevent employees being entitled to two pensions upon retirement, and it was thought wise to provide that persons with pension rights already in existence must convert same, or only come under the Superannuation Act under certain conditions. This is only just; but as section 38 of the Act provides that all employees dying after 31st December, 1920, and before having an opportunity of taking advantage of the Act, should leave a pension for the widow, it is thought to be only right that this should apply alike to those who had pension rights as well as to others.
However, section 51, which was designed to prevent payment of two pensions to one person, has had the effect of nullifying clause 38 as far as officers with previously existing rights are concerned, and hasaffected widows and families of some of our late members (who had long and meritorious service) in an ‘adverse manner, simply because the employees died before they had an opportunity of coming under the provisions ofthe Superannuation Act.
In Western Australia all officers who joined the Service prior to 1st January, 1901, are entitled to a pension at sixty, and during the prescribed period five such officers died. Their names were: - P. McKnight, supervisor; A. J. Besley, telegraphist; D. W. Thomas, clerical assistant; W. F. Cole, telegraphist; and G. T: Marks, clerical assistant. Had these officers not been entitled to a pension under a Western Australian State Act, their widows and children would have received benefits, but, as it is, their dependants get nothing.
Representations have been made, and we are informed it is proposed to amend the Act in the direction desired. As there are only five suchcases, and there can never be any more (seeing that the time limit has expired), we trust that you will use every endeavour, by strongly supporting such an amendment, to have these five Western Australian widows placed on an equal footing with widows in other States, whose, husbands may have died during the prescribed period, and who had no pension rights.
I remain, yours faithfully,
P.S. -I herewith enclose copy of letter re ceived by us from Mr. Ross, President of the Superannuation Board, in reply to representations made by us, stating the probability of the amendment mentioned.
The letter from Mr. Ross is as follows : -
Superannuation Fund Management Board, Melbourne
Australian Telegraphists Union, Western Australian Branch
I desire to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 2nd inst. on the question of the rights of widows of deceased employees to pensions under section 38 of the Superannuation Act.
The question as to whether section 38 of the Act applies to the widows of employees who during ‘their service had pension rights has been very fully considered, and I am sorry to say that I cannot agree with your contention that,both from the spirit of the Act and from its legal aspect, the right extends to the widows of employees with pension rights.
I agree with you in the view that the widow of an employee with pension rights who receives no consideration in respect of the death of her husband should receive the same treatment as the widow ofan employee without pension rights who dies in the Service.
The matter has not been lost sight of, and the question of amending the Act in the direction desired is now under consideration. .
Yours faithfully. (Signed) F. Ross, President.
I understand that no more claims of this nature can arise, and I, therefore, ask the Minister to give the Committee the assurance that these five widows will be provided for, either by an amendment of the Superannuation Act or in some other way. I would not press this claim if I thought that it would be a recurring or unlimited liability.
– Senator Needham raised this question some weeks ago, and I asked him to supply me with a proof of his speech. I receivedit only three or four days ago, and at once forwarded it to the Treasury. The honorable senator will realize that, in the circumstances in which Parliament has been working during the last few days, it is impossible for me to be armed with a reply for him to-day. The claim he has made in behalf of the five Western Australian widows is not covered by the law, and it needs to be considered in the light of other possible cases in other States. Investigations are being made by. the Treasury so that any amendment of the law that may be necessary will cover all similar cases. I hope the honorable senator will be content with ‘the assurance that the matter is under consideration, and that as early as possible he will be advised of the decision of the Department.
– I desire to briefly suggest two respects in which the efficacy, if not the amount of, the old-age and invalid pension may be increased. In the first place, the regulations should be amended so that the pensions will not be reduced because of some small further income that the recipient may earn. Liberalization of that condition governing the pension is very necessary, and I hope we shall have an opportunity of discussing it before Parliament goes into recess.
– That is dealt with in the Bill which is to come before the Senate later.
– The second amendment that I suggest is to remedy a hardship which came under my cognisance only two or three weeks ago. I have been advised of a case in Western Australia, in which the value of an insurance policy for a small amount was treated by the Department as property. A life insurance policy is, after all, evidence of attempted thrift on the part of the person insured, and should not be treated as property to the prejudice of his claim to a pension. I hope that when the Bill to amend the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act is before the Senate, the Minister will accep’t an amendment in this direction.
– I direct attention to the item £319 for the payment of the betterment tax in connexion with the General Post Office, Sydney, and I propose to ask the Committee to strike it out. I have no objection to the payment of a betterment tax in certain circumstances, but not because I believe in that tax. I regard it as one of those crude measures advocated by certain people who do not understand, and will not be instructed in, the glorious and well-known principles so ably advocated by Henry George in Progress and Poverty, and which every week are supported by my learned friend Alexander G. Huie, the editor of the Standard, Sydney. The action of this Parliament, in regard to section 114 of the Constitution, has been of an exceedingly wobbly nature. Only a few nights ago, when we were considering the position of the Commonwealth Shipping Line and kindred activities, the Government deliberately made Cockatoo Island Dockyard subject to taxation by the New South Wales Government. Last night, in order that the holders of vacant land might be able to get higher prices from the War Service Homes Commissioner, and thereby, later, compel returned soldiers to pay higher prices for their land, the Senate, by a large majority, decided that the land should be exempt from taxation. Now we are asked to pass this item, which gives the Government of New South Wales the right, under a State Act passed many years ago under the influence of Sir William McMillan, to impose this betterment tax on account of resumptions in connexion with the widening of Martinplace and Moore-street.
– If ‘ the honorable senator will allow me to make an explanation we may be able to save the time of the Committee.
– The inclusion of this item suggests to me that the Government are violating the provisions of section 114.
– Why does the honorable senator not allow me to make an explanation? Why does he continue to make such assertions?
– I am making these assertions in the light of information at my disposal.
– The honorable senator does not want the explanation.
– I do. This is the first time I have seen the item. I was under the impression that the betterment tax had been swept into oblivion.
There is another matter to which I invite attention. I find that for some inscrutable reason £3,653 was expended last year in the remission of fines under the Land Tax, Income Tax, and Estates Duty Acts. This year the sum provided is £3,700. Who . are the fortunate people whose fines have been remitted ? I undertake to say that they are not the poorer people of the community. I find also that the expenditure last year for interest on advances made by the Commonwealth Bank, pending the raising of loans for works purposes, was £99,633, which represents one-half of the profit made by the Bank. The. Commonwealth Bank should be able to advance money to the Commonwealth Government without the payment of interest at all, because, after all, it is merely a paper transaction. It would be far better if the profits of the Commonwealth Bank were devoted to the extension of its business, and the establishment of branches in the larger centres of population.
– Por the information of Senator Grant I should like to say that the betterment tax is payable yearly to the municipal council of Sydney under the Moorestreet Improvement Act 1890, under which property became liable for a special improvement rate for 100 years from the 1st January, 1892. The amount of the tax is deducted from the interest payable to New South Wales on the value of property transferred to the Commonwealth, so it is taxation on the State of New South Wales, not on the Commonwealth. In connexion with the item for the remission of fines, I may say that frequently, after a fine has been paid, additional information comes into the possession of the Commissioner. If this had been available at the time, the explanation would have been accepted and prosecutions would not have been instituted, therefore a special vote is taken in the Estimates to enable refunds of fines to be made. In regard to interest on advances made by the Commonwealth Bank, I have only to say that no loans were raised last year, and the loan fund for works was financed by means of an overdraft at the Commonwealth Bank. The interest charged was 3 per cent. per annum, increased in July to 3½ per cent. This year the sum of £45,000 is provided to cover further interest payable until a loan is raised to liquidate the overdraft. It is rather refreshing to hear Senator Grant, who is such an ardent advocate of the Commonwealth Bank as a competitor with private banking institutions, urging that it should provide advances free of interest. I can imagine what a rush there would be upon the institution if that policy were adopted, and I can also imagine Senator Grant leading the rush.
– I should like to direct the attention of the Committee to certain matters that have come under my notice in connexion with invalid and old-age pensions. In one case the daughter of a tradesman was in receipt of an invalid pension of 10s. a week. I have seen this woman, who was brought to my office in an invalid chair. Under an Arbitration Court award her father’s wage was automatically raised to £4 10s. per week to compensate for the rise in the cost of living, but, measured by its purchasing capacity, his income had not altered in the slightest degree. Nevertheless, the Pensions Department decided that under the regulations he was now receiving a wage that did not justify the payment of a pension to the invalid daughter. A housekeeper is employed to look after this unfortunate girl, who is capable only of feeding herself. The loss of 10s. per week was a terrible disaster to this family. I investigated the matter, and the Department informed me that they were very sorry, but could , not act otherwise under the regulations. I ask the Minister (Senator Pearce) to give the Committee an assurance that some amelioration to fit these cases will be provided in the new Bill.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia-
Minister for Home and Territories) [10.16 a.m.]. - I am informed by the official administering the Oldage and Invalid Pensions Act that the maintenance conditions were recently liberalized. Evidently this action has been taken since Senator Elliott made representations to the Department. I have not the proposed Bill before me, and I cannot now give an exposition of its full purport, but before it is introduced I shall endeavour to ascertain whether the conditions have been liberalized to meet the case mentioned by the honorable senator.
– I have a similar case concerning a Miss Walker, 38 years of age, who has been an epileptic from birth. The invalid pension does not apply to her to any extent. I believe she receives a pension of 5s. per week. A local charity in Perth subscribes a similar amount, and her parents provide an additional 15s. for her maintenance in a home in Perth. If the conditions of the Act were liberalized to allow the payment of the full pension in this case, it would confer a great boon upon the parents, who at present cannot bear the financial strain. The father is a railway ganger, receiving £4 5s. per week. He has to pay rent, keep the home, and contribute 15s. for the maintenance of his daughter. I ask the Minister to favorably consider this case.
Senator GARDINER (New South
Wales) [10.20 a.m.]. - I direct attention to the case of a person who has the misfortune to be addicted to drinking. Under our present taxation proposals the man who drinks will pay more to the revenue than possibly any one else, yet on the first conviction for drunkenness the pensioner is deprived of his only means of support. It is not a very serious crime to be convicted for drunkenness.
– The pension can be paid to guardians.
– If that is so, 1 shall bring this case before the Department immediately. This man is one of the old school who has worked hard and drunk hard, otherwise his character is excellent. Recently he earned a few pounds by rabbit-trapping, and he spent them in drink. To his horror he was brought before the Police Court, and because of a conviction he was notified by the Pension Department that his pension had been suspended. I am sure that this man would not have used his pension money for this purpose, but having earned a fewextra shillings he believed that he could spend them as he thought fit. The punishment is too severe for the offence. The man has to live, and I hope arrangements can be made to pay the pension to a guardian or to those responsible for his care. Another pensioner, during one shearing season, earned a little money about the sheds, and, in consequence, the Pensions Department discontinued his pension. This man is over 70 years of age, and has been eighteen months without the pension. An undue and unnecessary hardship is inflicted upon this deserving person because he earned a few extra shillings. A little time ago he wrote asking me whether his pension would be restored before the coming shearing season, and I advised him to earn as much money as possible, as this Government would not be likely to take a lenient view of his case. The Government show a decided preference to men of affluence compared with those who are penniless. A Bill has been introduced to remit taxation which has been owing by wealthy leaseholders to the Government for- years past. I shall supply particulars of these two Cases to the Minister for his favorable consideration. Honorable senators have heard of hundreds of these cases where unnecessary hardship has been inflicted upon people in straitened circumstances. If hundreds of the aged poor are being treated in this way it is time the Government altered their method of administering the Act.
– I have brought under the notice of the Department the case .of a man who was convicted of drunkenness in Perth last Christmas. It was his first straying from the path of rectitude, but I am advised that on account of this conviction his old-age pension has been suspended for twelve months. When I was speaking on the Budget-papers I referred to the necessity for an amending Bill to remove the stigma on unfortunate citizens who have at any time been inmates of hospitals for the insane, or a sanatorium, such as that at Woroloo, in Western Australia, and have, subsequently, entered an old-men’s home. Surely the man who, through contracting some disease, has been compelled to become an inmate of a certain class of sanatorium, should not be penalized to the extent of being deprived of his pension. This morning, when speaking on the first reading of this Bill, I dealt with the pensions for the blind. The Blind Workers Union of Western Australia have written a letter, in which they ask -
That the blind of Australia be granted a pensions of 30s. a week, irrespective of their earnings. ,
I shall not read the whole of this letter, because honorable senators have had a heavy strain imposed on them, but I ask the Minister to consider this request. These men are not blind as the result of war service. Some of them have been blind from their birth. Others have since lost their sight through disease or accident. It is time’ we gave greater consideration to those who are deprived of their sight. I would rather have brought this matter forward when honorable senators were in a better frame of mind to consider it, but I realize that if no mention is made of it now there may be no further opportunity to bring it forward until March or April of next year.
– The proper time to deal with the matter is when the Senate is considering the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Bill, which is to be brought forward at once. i
– I sincerely hope that when that Bill does come forward, honorable senators will have a better opportunity to deliberate upon it than they have had to consider the matters brought forward within the last twenty-four hours.
– I have to bring two cases under the notice of the Minister. I do so with, reluctance, because I realize that it is better to have these matters dealt with by the Department than to mention them here. But where citizens, after years of strenuous effort, havefailed to secure through the ordinary channels the redress to which they are entitled, it is only fair that in exceptional cases one should take the extraordinary course of bringing them directly under the notice of the Senate and the Minister. The first case is that of an O. C. Brown of 10 Rickard-street, Hurstville. He is a tuberculosis patient and a returned soldier. He has tried his level best, in season and out of season, to get a full pension, to which he considers he is entitled, and I ask the Minister to shake up the Department to such an extent that this man and his wife will get that to which they believe they are fully entitled. Another case is that of Captain A. C. Reid, late Commander of the Royal’ Australian Navy. For- about five years this man has been fighting his case strenuously without satisfactory results, and I mention it now so that the Minister may, in addition’ to the examination which his officers have no doubt given to the case, look into it himself, and see if it is not possible, for Captain Reid to secure the justice to which he thinks he is fully entitled. ‘
– In regard to the case mentioned by Senator Gardiner, in which he says a pension has been cancelled because the pensioner has been convicted of drunkenness on one occasion, I direct the attention of the honorable senator to section 51 of the Act. The honorable senator was critical of the administration, but I do not think that the administration is to be blamed for doing what the Act clearly lays down must be done. Section 51, sub-section 1, reads as follows : -
When a pensioner is in any Court convicted nf drunkenness or of any offence punishable by imprisonment for not less than,one month, then, m addition to any other punishment imposed, the Deputy Commissioner may, by order, forfeit any one or more of the instalments falling due after the date of the conviction.
I am informed by the officials that in practice the Commissioner does not forfeit a pension on the first conviction, and only does so when there have been two convictions, or in cases where sub-section 2 applies. Sub-section 2 reads as follows : -
When a pensioner is twice within twelve months convicted of any offence punishable by imprisonment for not less than one month, or where any pensioner is convicted of any offence punishable by imprisonment for twelve months or upwards, then, in lieu of forfeiting any instalment of the pension, the Deputy Commissioner shall, by order, cancel the pension certificate.
That is what Parliament has said. The section further provides that where a pension certificate is cancelled the pension is absolutely forfeited. If the pensioner referred to was convicted only once, I suggest that the honorable senator might take up the case again with the Department, because it is not the practice to cancel a pension for one conviction, although one or two instalments may be withheld. I am- informed that, in certain cases, the pension may be paid to a guardian who will see that it is not wasted. The honorable senator should not blame the administration for the case to which he referred, in which a man lost his pension because he earned money by working. Parliament has laid it down . that the pension is tq be determined by the income of the pensioner, and when a man earns income his pension is proportionately reduced. If he earns more than a certain amount, he is not under the Act eligible for a pension. The cases mentioned by Senator Needham can be more appropriately raised when- the Bill to amend the Act is before the Senate. In 1921, by regulation, the income which might be earned by blind persons was increased to £221 per annum, inclusive of pension, whereas in the case of other pensioners the pension is payable only if the total income, inclusive of pension, is not more than £65. The honorable senator has referred to these matters on two or three occasions within the last week, but I shall reserve what I have to say upon them until the amending Bill is before -the Senate. The case referred to by Senator Grant is a war pension case. I will bring the honorable senator’s remarks under the notice of my colleague, the Minister concerned.
– I wish to know whether the Government have considered the matters recently brought under their notice by the Returned Soldiers Association concerning anomalies in the pensions paid to returned soldiers.
– The representations made are being considered, and a decision will very shortly be arrived at.
– Do the Government intend to introduce a Bill to correct the anomalies, this session?
– The matter has been before the Cabinet, and I understand that the representations made can be met by an alteration of the regulations.
– The desire is to avoid putting the matter off indefinitely. Is it the intention of the Government to give effect to what the Returned “Soldiers Association has asked for?
– I am not now in a ‘ position to say what the decision of the Government will be.
– The Minister interviewed was impressed with the possibility of giving effect to the representations made to him. The principal difficulty is the absurd discrimination made under the War Pensions Act between total and permanent disablement.
– The matter to whicH the honorable member is referring should be considered on the Estimates for the Repatriation Department.
– The Committee has been discussing the whole matter of pensions, and in the last speech the Leader of the Government in the Senate referred to war pensions.
– I said . only that the case referred to by Senator Grant was a war pensions case.
– The question should be raised on the vote for the Repatriation Department.
– Perhaps I may be permitted to say that doctors refuse to declare that total disablement will be permanent. Some returned soldiers have been laid up totally disabled for four or five years. In these cases, unless the doctor is prepared to certify that they are permanently disabled, they receive a pension of £2 2s. instead of £4 4s. per week. The injustice is so glaring that I hope the Government will ‘rectify it by regulation if it is not done by an amendment of the Act.
– I wish to refer to the application of the Commonwealth Public Service Superannuation Act to< “ all other ranks “ of the Permanent Military Forces. I have written to the Treasurer on the matter, and I have herea letter, which the Minister for Homeand Territories may see later, in which: the writer contends that an amendment; of the military regulations is necessary to cover the requirements of the Act. It is a practicable and simple matter, and requires only the will of Parliament to deal with it. What is requested is that a retiring allowance be granted to “ all other ranks “ who have served with good character for twenty years and upwards. The allowance should be based on some scheme already in existence that has been found to be satisfactory, such as, for instance, the New South Wales police pensions system, or the Western Australian railways system. This matter has been before the Senate on other occasions during my brief absence from this Chamber. I find from Hansard that when the Superannuation Bill was under consideration, the following statement was made: -
The object of the scheme is to provide payment for those who have given long service to the State, so that on retirement they will not find themselves in a state of pecuniary embarrassment.
Later I find that ex-Senator Garling, referring to “ all other, ranks “ of the Permanent Forces, said -
Unless they are provided for. somewhere in the list of amendments that are being circulated in the Senate, grave injustice will be done to them. (
Senators Elliott and Drake-Brockman were members of the Senate when exSenator Garling was a member of it, and when this matter was discussed.’ I am sure that they would not like to see any injustice done to those who have given faithful service for twenty years.
– I may inform the honorable senator that a scheme has been prepared and is being reported on at the present time by the president of the Superannuation Board.
– I thank the right honorable gentleman for tbe information he has given me, but as the report of the president of the Superannuation Board may be delayed, I shall continue what I have to say on the subject. I find from Hansard, that Messrs. Groom, McGrath, West, Lister, and Watt, members of another place, three of whom are not members of the Labour party, realized the injustice done to these men. In view of the statement made by Senator Pearce, I can only hope for the best, and trust that ere long the grievance of these people will be removed.
Motion (by Senator DrakeBrockman) put -
That the Committee do now divide.
The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £118,550.
– I desire to obtain from the Minister (Senator Pearce), information in respect to the Commonwealth Investigation . ‘ Branch, which is understood to . be the Commonwealth Police Force under another name, and which we know came into existence because, a few years ago, some rude person at Warwick hurled an elderly egg at the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes). I am anxious to know the character of the work performed by the officers of this branch, and the necessity for it. It is a new departure in the Commonwealth, and the officers’ salaries are increasing year by year. Are they permanent officials of the Commonwealth, and do they come under the Public Service Act? In New South Wales last year the inspector in the Professional Division received £390, and this year he is apparently to receive £408.
– An adjoining column shows that he is a member of the Public Service, because the class or grade is mentioned.
– If these officers are in the Public Service they must have been appointed only within the last few years. Do they receive automatic increases as do other officers, and if they do not, what is the necessity of increasing the salaries of State inspectors ? I have not seen a report from the Investigation Branch laid upon the table of the Senate, and I am sure no one knows precisely what duties they perform. As custodians of the people’s money we have a right to ascertain the purpose for which money is being voted. It will be noticed that last year a sum of£50 was voted for travelling expenses, and £396 was spent. For this financial year the vote is £200 for the same purpose. Last year £645 was voted for services of unattached officers. Who are they?
– They are those who are not attached.
– Precisely. That is a lawyer’s argument. There are other amounts on which explanation should be given, and when the Minister replies I trust he will give the information to which we are entitled, and which I earnestly hope we shall receive. No one seems to know exactly why the branch was created, but now it is in existence I wish to know if. its continuation is justified.
– In the Crown Solicitor’s office there is an increase of £2,840 in this year’s expenditure over last year.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia-
Minister for Home and Territories) [11.9 a.m.]. - In reply to Senator Elliott’s inquiry, any increased expenditure under this item is provided for under Public Service Regulations. Apparently there has been no increase in the number of officers, but there have been in the salaries paid, in the cost of living allowances, and the adjustment of salaries. Substantial increases in these amounts will account for the larger vote. In reply to Senator Findley I may say that this may be regarded as a “ hardy annual,” concerning which honorable able suspicion. This branch appears to cause considerable concern, but the officers associated with it are performing valuable work in protecting’ the revenue of the Commonwealth.
– The inference is that the revenue was not protected before.
– Possibly not to the extent that was necessary, as the following table dealing with cases undertaken as the result of the investigations of the branch, will show: -
What has Senator Findley to object to?
– I think the activities of this branch require watching.
– The information I have given shows that the branch is doing very valuable work, as it recovered £1,188 more than it cost, and may possibly recover another £6,121.
Motion (by Senator DrakeBrockman) put -
That the Committee do now divide.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Home and Territories
Proposed vote, £609,506.
– There are a number of items in this Department of more than ordinary interest. The expenditure on the Electoral Office shows an increase of £116,000. I would like to know what has been done in regard to theproposals which have been worn almost threadbare in the daily press, if not on the floor of Parliament, for providing for one application for enrolment to cover both the Federal and State electoral rolls. The police of New South Wales, in addition to their other multifarious duties, attend to the enrolment of electors for the State. The electors themselves have to attend to it for the Commonwealth. That different method of enrolment has led to very considerable trouble, and has brought about the disfranchisement of large’ numbers of electors. Many people do not pay close attention to political matters, and often imagine that when they are enrolled for either the Commonwealth or a State they are automatically enrolled in both. The fact that a person is enrolled for the State of New South Wales does not entitle him to enrolment for either the Federal or the municipal council elections. I have listened on many occasions to speeches, and have seen articles innumerable and letters without end in the daily press, urging that the necessary practical steps should be taken to bring this chaotic and idiotic state of affairs to an end. I would like the Minister to state what the Commonwealth Government has done in the matter. It is almost a conundrum for people to discover whether they are enrolled, and for what purpose they are enrolled. I hope that in the near future steps will be taken to insure that one enrolment will be sufficient for every elector. There is another interesting item under the head of “ Solar Observatory.” A sum of £5,175 is set down to be expended during the current financial years. I would like the Minister to state in some detail how it is proposed to expend that money, and who will be employed in the spending of it. Lower in the schedule is a substantial item of £110,250 for rents of buildings. This matter ought to engage the. attention of the Government. If it is at all possible for the Government to provide its own offices, it should do so. I presume the money is being ‘spent mostly in Melbourne.
– Senator Grant might well direct his remarks regarding the Commonwealth and State rolls to the Government of the State from which he comes. The Commonwealth has done all that is. necessary on its part, and nothing stands in the way of any State having a joint roll with the Commonwealth if it wants to. The necessary Commonwealth legislation has been passed. Tasmania and South Australia have availed themselves of it, and negotiations are still proceeding with the other States. The subject was listed for consideration at the recent Conference of State Premiers, and I have since taken it up with the States. The Commonwealth does not lag behind in the matter. The Solar Observatory is a very important work. The Commonwealth Government have approved of the establishment of a Solar Observatory on Mount Stromlo, in the Federal Capital Territory, to link up with existing institutions in England, India, America, and certain European countries. The world chain of solar observatories will thus be completed, and the ideal of continuous solar observations brought nearer to attainment. The project, which has been warmly supported by the Royal Society, the British Association for the Advancement of Science, the International Solar “Union, and other scientific bodies, has been under consideration for some years, but its realization was seriously delayed by the out break of war. Professor “W. G. Duffield, D.Sc, of University College, Reading, an Australian by birth, and an enthusiastic supporter of the movement, has been instrumental in securing two valuable gift telescopes for the proposed observatory, and also in the collection of about £1,500 for the purchase of other equipment. The balance of the equipment required, and the necessary buildings for the housing* of instruments and staff, will be provided by the Government, which will also undertake the maintenance of the observatory. The staff will be engaged in the highest and most important branches of astronomical research, and in recognition of this fact the utmost care will be exercised in the selection of the personnel. One of the results hoped for from Australia’s participation in the international scheme of solar research is a better knowledge of the causes of weather changes, which, in turn, should lead to more accurate and longer-range weather forecasting. The existing Australian observatories are concerned with quite a different field of inquiry, and will remain under State control. The Government are at present considering the appointment of the staff. In connexion with the selection of a director, the Astronomer-General of England and another leading scientist have been consulted, and their views obtained as to the most suitable person for the appointment. I am hopeful that the Government will shortly be able to announce the name of the person put forward by both these scientists, and recommended by the Public Service Board. There is no mystery about the item for rentals. It is the ordinary item for rentals of buildings to accommodate various Government Departments.
– A week or two ago I asked whether the Government had considered a request that the native population of Papua be given representation in the Legislative Council, and what had been the result of its considerations. The reply which I received was that the request had been considered, and that the Government was of opinion that the native interests were fully conserved and protected by the Legislative Council as it at present existed. It is recognised that in Papua the natives contribute very considerably to the revenue. I understand that they pay one-half of the taxes which are levied, yet they have no direct representation in the Legislative Council, which is composed of members of the Executive Council and certain other persons. It has been argued that ample protection is afforded by the fact that no matter affecting the natives can be finalized by the Legislative Council until it has been ratified by the Commonwealth Government. That does not go far enough. There is not in the Legislative Council a direct representative who would have the opportunity of initiating any matter in the interests of the native population, and of Papua as a whole. I do not suggest that a native should have a seat in the Council, but I do contend that the natives should be given direct representation. It is a very wise provision that requires ratification by the Commonwealth Government of any matter directly affecting the native population before it is finalized by the Legislative Council. If the Government acceded to the request, it would not be establishing a precedent. I am assured that the last precedent set by the Imperial Government is strongly in favour of native representation. The provinces of North and South Nigeria have recently been amalgamated, and a Legislative Council has been established as well as a Nigerian Council. The former contains four unofficial members, of whom two are natives. The latter contains twelve unofficial members, of whom six are natives. In Papua the natives are npt sufficiently advanced to sit on the Council; but it would evidently be in agreement with the latest trend of Imperial policy that they should be at least represented on the Council, even though their representatives were allowed only to vote and speak on matters with which natives were directly concerned. I request that this matter be again considered, i We are anxious to develop, as far as we can, the wonderful territory of Papua. ‘ It has been demonstrated clearly that development has been proceeding, and the time must arrive when, in justice to the natives, they should be given direct representation on the Legislative Council. It may be many years before a native would be qualified to sit on the Council. There can, however, be no valid objection to the granting of direct representation. That would help materially the future development of Papua and inspire that confidence which probably does not obtain at the present time among a section of the natives. In New Zealand, the Maoris and their interests (are directly represented in the Legislature. Maoris sit in the legislative hall, and there is a Maori Minister in the New Zealand Cabinet.
– They are civilized.
– We hope eventually to civilize the Papuans. If this request is conceded it will have a greater effect than anything else on the ultimate civilization of the Papuans. They are more intelligent than many of the dark-skinned races in the South Seas. I feel sure that they would appreciate the concession which is being asked for by those who have taken a very keen interest in the problem. I hope that the Minister will confer with the Cabinet in order to see if the matter cannot be re-opened and some direct representation be given to the Papuans in the interests of the native population and of the development of the Territory.
– It appears to me that the salaries provided for the typists are decidedly on the low side. To be a proficient typist,- one must have a fairly good education, be able to spell correctly, and have a knowledge of stenography.
– The cost-of-living allowance is added to the amount which appears in this proposed vote, and brings the- salary to close on £200 a year. On page 99 of the Estimates, the honorable senator will see that £9,000 is provided for cost-of-living allowance.
– It appears that the Commonwealth Electoral Officer in New South Wales is to receive £550, while the corresponding officer in Victoria, who last year was paid £500, ,is to be paid this year only £460.
– It is not the same officer; there has been a change.
– Does not the officer in Victoria perform similar work to that which is delegated to the officer in New South Wales? I think that they should receive the same amount of salary. The officer in New South Wales does not appear to be receiving adequate remunera- tion for His services, even though he may be given a substantial share of the £9,000 mentioned by Senator Pearce.
– He gets £50 as a cost ofliving allowance.
– I hope that in future these documents will be prepared in such a manner that a person can see at a glance the total remuneration which officers are receiving.
Motion (by Senator Drake-Brock- man) put-
That the Committee do now divide.
The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the proposed vote be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …. 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Defence
Proposed vote, £3,425,829.
Senator GARDINER (New South
Wales) [11.40 a.m.]. - A request should be made to another place to dispense with this deliberate waste of the sum of £3,425,829. There used to be eight generals at military head-quarters, and no army for them to command.
– This money could be put to much better use than paying for a staff which is practically valueless in time of war. The services of a number of the high officers were certainly not made use of in the late war. We have had a good lesson as to the manner in which the Department has treated its non-commissioned officers on the instructional staff. These men were not permitted to retire under the very favorable conditions under which a number of the commissioned officers left the Service. The Government gave special consideration to its friends.
– A number of those who went out voluntarily left the Service.
– In many instances, men with twenty years or more of excellent service were not permitted to go out under the Defence Retirement Act. The object of this action was simply to draw the distinction that is always made in the Defence Department between commissioned and noncommissioned officers. Onecase that has come under my notice is that of an officer who was transferred from New South Wales to the’ Commonwealth Defence Department under conditions which entitled him on retirement to one month’s salary for each year of service. When he was within about a year of completing his full term, he retired with a very paltry grant, which was nothing like equal to that to which he was entitled under the terms of his transfer.
– British fair play !
– That is the way this Government has treated men of long service. This man had served for about thirty years.
– Was he an officer ?
– I thought you said that officers were always favored.
– Only when they are the special favorites of the Government. , I refer to men such as Senators Glasgow, Cox, and Thompson.
– The honorable senator makes assertions, but he does not back them up with facts.
– I shall produce all the facts in good time. An injustice was done to the man from New South Wales.
– Why did he not sue for what was owing to him?
– I think his rights as a transferred officer were taken away from him. If not, he will prdbably take action to recover what is due.
– He, no doubt, had the choice of retiring under whichever provisions were the more favorable to him.
– He had no choice. I shall take an opportunity, on a later occasion, to place the full facts before honorable senators, and I shall prove my case from the official documents.
– If the, man has been unjustly treated, I shall assist you to obtain justice for him.
– The honorable senator will do nothing of the kind.
– On the only occasion when the honorable senator previously invited me to assist him to get justice for an officer, I was able to help him.
– I gladly recognise the support that the honorable senator gave me on that occasion. That was a naval matter, but I venture to say that, in connexion with the case I have in mind, the honorable senator will support the Government, irrespective of the merits of the case. I might mention another case in connexion with the Defence Department where a very grave injustice was done to an officer with brilliant service at Gallipoli, and in France, and Great Britain. He came up for promotion side by side with another officer whom he had beaten at an examination, but the man with the inferior mark was awarded the promotion. The Department took the view that seniority did not count in the cases of men of higher rank than that of captain - quite an excellent idea when the Government desires to help its particular friends.
I feel sure it is useless to bring forward any cases when honorable senators are exhausted after sitting continuously for twenty-five hours. It is testimony to the absurd manner in which the present Government are prepared to deal with every one. I am sure that a prosecution would lie against Senator Pearce under the law dealing with the prevention of cruelty to animals. How long is this farce to continue ? How long is this Senate to be degraded by being compelled to carry on business hour after hour without a break ?
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
.- I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the proposed vote for the Department of Defence by £1.
My object in moving in this direction is to bring certain grievances under the notice of the Senate. First of all, I have to complain of the way in which the Department of Defence has flouted the Senate. In connexion with the case of Warrant-Officer J. H. Allen, I asked that the files relating to the case should be laid ton the table of the Senate, but the papers produced were incomplete. The really vital portion of the file was missing. I cannot agree to pass the vote for the Department if it does not recognise the authority of the Senate, and Obey its directions. Senator Gardiner has said that the warrant officer instructors are the backbone of the Defence Force. They are certainly a class of men who deserve every possible encouragement, and should be made secure in their positions by every reasonable means. I would not retain the services of a man who would not do his Job, but every man should hold a position for which he has fitted himself by many years of work without the danger of being jostled out of it without a reasonable and proper inquiry into the circumstances of his discharge. Let me show honorable senators what enormous powers the Commonwealth has over the conduct of these officers. Regulation 498, framed under the authority of the Defence Act, specifies 56 separateoffences dealing with the forces not on active service. Some of them are particularly applicable to a case I recently brought under the notice of the
Senate. It is an offence to disobey a command given by a superior officer, bo neglect to obey any regulation, written order or other order, to be guilty of any offence of a fraudulent nature not particularly specified in the Defence Act or Regulations, to lose by negligence any equipment or arms, to be guilty of any act, conduct, disorder or negligence, to the prejudice of good order and military discipline- that is the drag-net regulation, under which any conduct not punishable under any other specified offence, can be brought to account - to neglect one’s duty, to be or to have been negligent or careless in the discharge of one’s duty, not to comply by negligence, default, carelessness, or non-observance with any regulation, military order, or other instruction, or to cause, by the improper discharge of one’s duties or otherwise loss to a comrade, officer, regimental mess or band, institution, or the Government, of any money or goods. These are the wider and more common offences, and if a man is guilty of any one of them, on conviction by a court martial or by a civil Court, he is liable to suffer one or more of the following penalties set out in regulation 495 : - Imprisonment, with or without hard labour for a term not exceeding three years, detention for a term not exceeding three months, discharge with ignominy from the Defence Forces, reduction in rank, a fine or stoppage of pay not exceeding £20, or the payment of such amount as is sufficient to make good the loss or damage occasioned by any neglect or default on his part. These offences are taken from the King’s Regulations, and adopted by the GovernorGeneral in Council for the Australian Forces. The Manual of Military Law says that in addition to the offences specified in these regulations, the King may, by articles of war, make new offences not covered by the existing regulations. In Australia the Defence Department also has power by regulation to make new offences. The Manual of Military Law, however, says that since 200 years ago, when the Army Act was first passed, and the King’s Regulations first issued, it has not been found necessary to make a single regulation providing for an Additional offence, and that, in view of that experience, it probably will never be found necessary to do so. In these regulations, which have Deen incorporated in globo in the Defence Regulations of Australia, there is no power to enable a commanding officer to discharge a man summarily. A man may not be re-engaged at the end of his enlistment, he may be dismissed by the sentence of a competent court martial, and when if is found necessary to re-organize or reduce the Forces an Act of Parliament is required to make provision for the payment of compensation to those so retired from the Army, just as has recently been done in Australia. Otherwise, a noncommissioned officer has security of tenure. He can hold his position for the term of his engagement unless he is convicted of one of the fifty-six. offences specified in the Regulations. Contrary to the experience of the British Army for 200 years, it was apparently found necessary in Australia in 1917 to devise additional regulations, and therefore the Defence Act was amended to. provide that regulations not inconsistent with the Act might be framed dealing with the discharge of members of the Forces. Under that authority, a regulation was framed providing that the Military Board or certain military officers should have the power to discharge a man in certain circumstances. One of those circumstances was that if a man after enlistment was likely- to prove an inefficient soldier, he might be discharged within three months. Power was also given to prescribe that if a man’s services were no longer required, he might be discharged. As this amending Bill was passed in 1917, when the war was drawing to a close, its purpose was obviously to provide for cases of men who were perfectly fit for their jobs, but for whom, owing to the reduction in the establishment, there would no longer be any work. The regulation laid on the table of the Senate did not show that it intended to repeal or amend any of the fifty-six offences to which I have referred ; it was really intended to be something supplementary to them - that is to say, something to provide that when a man had a perfectly . good record he could be sent away after being given reasonable notice. But it is now contended that the regulation in question was in effect a repeal of all the other regulations which provide, amongst other things, that before a man can be dismissed for an offence he must be given a fair trial, at which he can obtain a hearing, and ‘can cross-examine, and so forth. instead of being accused behind his back of any of these fifty-six offences, without having an opportunity of knowing the charges laid, or being given the chance of refuting them. Purporting to act under the authority of that last-mentioned section, the Defence authorities recently accused a man of twenty separate offences, clearly within one or other of the fiftysix mentioned in the first-mentioned schedule, which provides that a man can be tried, and, if convicted by court martial, severely punished, for any such offence. They did not choose to deal with the case in that way, however, but simply stated that his services were no longer required, and he was discharged. Undoubtedly, there was a reduction in establishment pending, and it was quite competent for them to say that two instructors could do the work instead of three. That would have been perfectly legal and within the powers conferred under the section; but when he applied for compensation it was refused, and it was stated that his services were no’ longer required, as he was inefficient. He then’ endeavoured to appeal to the Military Board, but found that a man dealt with in that fashion cannot get justice - cannot even obtain a hearing. It was certified to by senior officers that this man had not exhausted every possible means of appeal, but there is no sworn evidence to contradict his assertion that he used every channel available, but appeal was refused or denied by the Minister. A grave abuse of power is open te officers under the Act. , The whole matter was clearly brought before the Minister, who, has, nevertheless, upheld the decision, and therefore, in my opinion, abused his powers”. I want the Minister to be clearly aware of the position in which he may eventually place the Commonwealth, as well as himself, ff this attitude is persisted in. It is laid down in the Manual of Military Law-
- (Senator Newland). - The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister for Home and Territories) “12.20’. - Dealing with the two subjects which i Senator ‘Elliott – has ‘introduced, I am quite sure that the Department has no desire or intention to flout either the Senate or the Parliament- in regard to matters of which he has spoken. I am informed that the explanation why the file was not sent forward is, as the honorable senator well knows, that there is a head-quarters file and a base file, which latter corresponds with the State file. The head-quarters file deals only with certain portions of the various cases as they .come forward from time to time, and does not deal with the minutioe of officers and non-commissioned officers.
– It should contain the charges.
– A report of the charge is sent forward by the Base Commandant.
– It did not contain that.
– It contained his report. When the file was called for from head-quarters, the file was sent, which included all the documents available. Later, when particulars wore asked -for, a reference was made to the base, and it was found that its file contained papers concerning which head-quarters did not know anything. It does not show that there was any malice or intention on the part of head-quarters to keep something back. It did not know that these papers existed, and how can it be said that Parliament was flouted because head-quarters did not send forward papers of the existence of which it knew nothing? The whole matter has been the subject of inquiry by a Select Committee of the Senate, consisting, I think, of seven honorable senators who have heard the evidence adduced. I understand that five members of the Committee take one view and two another. The report laid on the table of the Senate was ordered to be printed, but we are not yet in a position to pass judgment.
– The Minister knows that this is the only, opportunity I shall have of bringing the matter forward.
– I understand the honorable senator’s object; but I remind him that he will have another opportunity to discuss the matter, even if not before Parliament goes into recess, at least when we re-assemble again in March. It is not fair to me or the Committee to raise the matter at this stage. I have not seen the report or the evidence, and we should not be asked to pass judgment, for the reasons I have mentioned. I trust the honorable senator will withdraw his request.
– Without desiring to speak at any length, I wish to refer to the case of a man who, in my opinion, has been most unfairly treated. In order to put the matter clearly before the Senate, I shall quote the following facts, taken from the official correspondence: -
Compensation. - Captain H. Naghten. Retired as Honorary Major.
Joined New South Wales Military Forces as Staff Sergeant-Major, 9th February, 1889, under unlimited engagement.
Promoted Warrant Officer in July, 1897.
Appointed Adjutant and Quartermaster, with rank of Honorary Lieutenant, 1st April, 1913.
Before this latter appointment, had to sign an agreement for seven years, with pay at the rate of £300 per annum.
During the seven years (war time) for which he signed, no increment was granted, neither was high-cost-of-living allowance granted him.
Promoted Honorary Captain 1st January, 1918. No increase in pay.
Promoted Captain 1st January, 1919. No increase in pay.
On 1st April, 1920, the date on which the agreement expired, his pay was increased to £325 per annum.
On 1st September, 1920, it was increased to £350.
On 1st September, 1921, it was increased to £375.
At the time of his joining the New South Wales Forces, he was given to understand that any member of the Permanent Staff who would be retired, through no fault of his own, would receive compensation at the rate of one month’s pay for each year’s service.
Captain Naghten submits a list of thirty-three officers or members of the Department whowere granted this compensation by the Federal Government in 1902. This was also granted by the New South Wales Government prior to Federation.
Sir William Lyne, on 2nd October, 1902. stated, in the House of Representatives, “I have induced my colleagues to allow a sum to be placed on the Estimates which will enable us to give those men a retiring allowance, computed at the rate of one month’s pay for each year’s service.”
Captain Naghten was retired on 31st July, 1922, one month before reaching the retiring age, namely, 00 years, having served 334 years, and received compensation of one month’s pay, and a gratuity of 12 months’ pay, in all 13 months’ pay instead of 33, as expected.
The following will show how the Defence Act works out to the detriment of Captain Naghten (Defence Retirement Act 1922, second paragraph of section 5) : - “A” has served for 33 years, and has one month to serve before reaching the retiring age. He receives, therefore, one month’s pay, plus 12 months, making in all 13 months’ pay. “ B “ has served for 31 years, and has two years to go ‘before reaching the retiring age. He would, therefore, receive 24 months; pay, plus 12 months’ pay, making in all thirty-six months. But as thirty-six is greater than thirty-one, he would receive a month’s pay for each year’s service, namely thirty-one months’ pay. ““A’s “ case is that of Captain Naghten.
Captain Naghten has served thirty-three years in Australia. He served for ten years with the Imperial Forces (Egypt, 1882-1885). He is in possession of Khedive’s Bronze Star, Egyptian Medal, Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, and Meritorious Service Medal.
Those are the facts. Senator Drake- Brockman said that if justice were to be done, he would be prepared to assist. The only reason which the Minister can submit why compensation should not be granted to Captain Naghten is that he has no legal claim. I admit that. But since the last Act was passed a number of retired officers have received one month’s pay for each year of service. The man has a strong moral claim, if not a legal one. Why should retiring allowances be granted to other officers and not to this man? He has a most excellent record of character, and his promotions prove all that need be said in his favour. He passed out of the service with thirteen months’ pay, where,, if the conditions were as they were in New South Wales when officers were transferred, he would have received thirty-three months’ pay. I shall hand the notes to Senator DrakeBrockman, because he said that if a case could be made out he would see what could be done. The information I have given can be verified by an examination of the Defence Department’s files.
– I shall bring the matter under the notice of the Minister for Defence if the honorable senator will supply me with the particulars.
– I am glad the Minister is adopting that attitude. I shall hand him the papers.
– I was rather disappointed at the manner in which the Minister (Senator Pearce) dealt with the question raised by me in regard to Warrant-Officer J. R. Allen. I expected him to say that the new regulations passed in 1917 werenot intended to give such arbitrary or unrestrained power as is claimed under them. Is it intended to give a man a fair and a proper trial, or is unrestricted power to be given to an officer to rubberstamp any charge made against a man who, after thirty years’ service, is dismissed without any hope of redress or compensation. It is a matter that is worthy of very serious consideration, because it is clearly laid down in the Manual of Military Law that if there is any excess of jurisdiction, or if there is carelessness on the part of an officer intrusted with that jurisdiction, not only the officer himself, but also all officers - and I am not sure that it does not include even the Minister - may be liable for heavy damages. The matter is too serious to be lightly brushed aside. I propose to give the Senate some idea of the charges made against this man.
– The honorable senator must know that I cannot answer for the Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden) without being given an opportunity to get his view of the matter.
-I gave ample notice of my intention in this respect. I hoped the Minister would prepare a reply. I want to cite one or two of the charges that were placed on the file to give weight to the report against Warrant Officer Allen.. I say “ give weight “ advisedly, for the report must have weighed about 10 lbs. It was made up of twenty separate accusations. He was not charged; if he had been he would have been entitled to a trial. When I spoke to the senior officers who dealt with this man, they said, “ We regard each of the charges as trivial, but, in the aggre gate, they justify our action in discharging him.” It would seem that if thistledown is piled up sufficiently high and made to look substantial, it is accepted as substantial. The following charge is put forward seriously to prove that a QuartermasterSergeant is not capable of carrying out his duties: -
In January, a trainee reported that Warrant Officer Allen had rudely accosted him in a street of Warragul, and, in front of a number of elderly men, demanded whyhe had not been attending parades.
– Will not the Senate get all this information in the Select Committee’s report?
-The report will not come before the Senate for probably six months.
– The Committee, and not the Government, is responsible for that.
– The following is another charge made against this man : -
On another occasion, I instructed Warrant Officer Allen to prepare communications to trainees, informing them of the number of days they were non-efficient. I signed these, but left the number of days to be filled in by Warrant Officer Allen. Subsequently, complaints were received from certain members.. Many were efficient, while others had one-half or one day added to the non-efficiency.
I have had a great deal to do with preparing these books for compulsory trainees, and I say here that, with the utmost care by our own staff at Essendon, and with every convenience for checking, we make mistakes. Men have been brought up and charged wrongly; and I have had to tell them that I was sorry a mistake had occurred. The accusation against Warrant Officer Allen was made not as a charge of neglect of duty, but to show that he was unfit to have the custody of stores and to issue them. How it could have been held to have any relevancy, I cannot understand.
– Cannot the honorable senator see that he is making a gross reflection upon the members of the Select Committee, which gave the man a fair hearing ?
– I cannot see that my remarks are a reflection upon the members of the Select Committee. I am bringing out the facts fairly. The Senate may, or may not, agree with me.
– Does not the honorable senator accept the verdict of the majority of the Committee?
– I do not. I think the finding of the Committee is a calamity which will expose the Commonwealth and a number of the officers concerned to the risk of having to pay heavy damages.
– That is a severe thing for the honorable senator to say about his colleagues onthe Committee.
– I do not agree that it is. The members of the Committee acted to the best of their ability. Much of the difference of opinion relates to the meaning to be attached to certain regulations. I had hoped that the Minister would not compel this poor man to waste money to fight the wealthy Commonwealth.
– Who nominated the members of the Committee of Inquiry?
– I did.
– Is the honorable senator not satisfied with them?
– I say they came to a wrong conclusion. I deliberately nominated two of my greatest opponents, so as to make the finding of the Committee as strong as possible.
– That is not a fair thing to say. Every member of the Committee went there to weigh the evidence in an unbiased way.
– The honorable senator says that they were biased before they sat on the Committee.
– I do not say that. I say that I deliberately placed persons on the Committee who were strongly opposed to my views. I thought this would strengthen the decision of the Committee. I did not think it possible to do anything fairer than that.
– It was more than fair; it was risky.
– I endeavoured to balance the Committee so that, like an unbiased jury, it could consider the case fairly.
SenatorFoll. - What is the use of a jury if the honorable senator will not accept its verdict?
– It sometimes happens that a jury makes a mistake, and a new trial is granted.
– The honorable senator is appealing against the decision of the jury before the verdict has been given. The Senate has not yet dealt with the report.
– The report has been tabled.
– What were the numbers in regard to the report actually presented ?
– They were five to two. In a report submitted with the object of showing that this man was unfit to be a quartermaster-sergeant, the following charge was made against him: -
When instructing cadets, Warrant Officer Allen adopts a manner which appears to have been developed during his Indian service. This is greatly resented. Recruits of various troops have lost that enthusiasm which was in evidence before Warrant Officer Allen began to visit these places.
– The honorable senator is picking out the minor items and not touching the major ones.
– I will read them all if the honorable senator desires.
– The honorable senator had better wait for the report. He is unfair in dealing with the matter now.
– I do not wish to weary the Senate. My object in submitting the motion was to bring home to the Minister the very serious position in which his officers and even he himself may be placed if the majority report of the Committee is allowed to stand and my view is correct. I would urge that the Ministry should present the evidence and the findings of the Committee to the best counsel it can find, and ascertain definitely his opinion. I shall not persevere with the matter now, but, having done my duty in bringing it under the notice of the Minister and the Senate, I ask leave to withdraw my proposed request.
– Is it the pleasure of the Committee that the honorable senator have leave to withdraw his proposed request.
Motion by Senator Pearce) put -
That the Committee do now divide.
The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the proposed vote by£1 (Senator Elliott’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Mr. Chairman
Motion (by Senator Pearce) put -
That the Committee do now divide.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the proposed vote (Department of Defence), £3,425,829, be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Proposed vote agreed to.
Sitting suspended from1 to 2.50 p.m. (Tlmrsday).
Departmentof Trade and Customs
Proposed Vote, £776,494
– This is one of the most important Departments, and at the. same time one of the most offensive, under the control of the Commonwealth. Back in the dark ages, trading with neighbouring countries could be carried on only under pain of penalties. I believe the Spanish were the originators of the Tariff system. It is patent to any thinking person, that Customs Tariffs constitute the greatest snare and humbug ever inflicted upon a suffering humanity. I recall the debates in this Chamber during the past week or so. They have been of a very tame nature, but, whenever the question of taxation arose, every honorable senator was on the qui vive. It is a common impression amongst working classes and others, that Customs Tariffs are imposed primarily for the purpose of providing employment in the country where the tax is levied. A cursory examination of the situation, however, always shows that Customs Tariffs do not result in the exclusion of foreign goods. There was never any intention that the Tariffs should have that effect. The main object has been to secure the maximum amount of revenue obtainable from that source with the object of preventing the adoption of an equitable system of direct land taxation, as advocated by Henry George and other economists, by appropriating the communal value of land for national purposes. Most people would scout the idea of Great Britain ‘being -a Protectionist country. As a matter of fact, a very large proportion of its revenue is collected at the Customs House under the guise of a revenue Tariff. A heavy tax is imposed on >the importation of tea and a hundred and one other articles in common use. We should be far more honest with ourselves if we abandoned the idea of characterizing the revenue derived through the Customs as resulting from a Protectionist Tariff. ‘The Customs revenue during last fiscal year considerably exceeded that collected in any past period. Honorable members opposite are always concerning themselves about the working people, but they never talk about the parasites. This fact ought to be an indication to honorable senators on this side of the Chamber that their political opponents have something up their sleeve that they do not desire to make public. Even the most enthusiastic Protectionist will agree that, despite all the efforts of the Customs Department and the Tariff Board, Australia is confronted with the problem of dealing with considerable armies of unemployed men who would be most willing to work if they could obtain it. It must be realized that our Protectionist policy certainly has not overcome’ the unemployed difficulty. In no country in the world has such . a policy removed or minimized that evil. We hear of people advocating conditions of society termed “ Brotherhood,” which, I understand, means that at all events they would not proceed to tax the production of their fellow-men, simply because they happen to live across an imaginary line, a range of mountains, a river, or any other boundary. “Under this socalled policy, the question arises of exchanging commodities, and they are then all anxious to maintain a system of col- lecting national revenue, which is, no doubt, a very prolific one, and which was, and is to-day, not for the purpose of creating more employment, but for providing revenue.
– The honorable member must connect his remarks with an item in the schedule.
– During the last fiscal year, the Customs Department, the proposed vote for which we are now considering, extracted from the people of this country the enormous sum of £32,000,000, in the form of Customs and Excise taxation.
– The officers whose salaries are mentioned in the schedule have nothing to do with the imposition of taxation. The honorable senator is not entitled at this stage to speak on the merits or demerits of Free Trade or Protection. He must confine his remarks to the items of proposed expenditure in the Bill.
– We are dealing with salaries of officers.
– The honorable senator would be quite in order in discussing any item of proposed expenditure.
– The principal portion of the proposed vote to which I take exception is Division 81, Central Staff, on which the estimated expenditure is £98,684.
– The staff does not impose taxation.
– No; but it collects it. The Customs House is the medium through which taxation is collected.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item *’ Salaries, £4,811,” Division 94, sub-division 1, by-fl0.
I do so for a triple reason. In the first place, I desire to point out that I consider a grave injustice has been done to the State which I have the honour to assist in representing. Secondly, the administration of the Institute of Science and Industry leaves, in my opinion, very much to be desired. Thirdly, although it seems somewhat paradoxical after moving for a reduction, I wish to direct the attention of the Government, and particularly the Minister controlling the Department, to the fact that there is an urgent need to increase the amount to be placed at the disposal of the Institute. Dealing with the first reason for moving this request, I claim that a great injustice has been done by some Minister or Ministers unknown, or unlocated, to the State of Western Australia. In 1916, a project was brought forward by ‘ the then Conservator of Forests in Western Australia, Mr. Lane Poole, for establishing a forests product laboratory in Australia. That project was referred to those who are undoubtedly the highest authorities on this subject in the Commonwealth - the Conference of the heads of the Forestry Departments in Australia. It was the . subject of a great deal of very earnest discussion, after which it was resolved that the necessity for the establishment of a forests products laboratory was extremely urgent, if we1 desired to come into line with other, shall I say, more civilized countries, and develop our resources, particularly our forest resources, to the utmost of our powers. In regard to the locality of the proposed laboratory, after a great deal of more earnest discussion, it was resolved by the highest authorities on the subject in Australia that the locality should be in Western Australia. Naturally, other States had a valid claim to the laboratory being established within their borders, particularly Queensland, and it is only natural that this should be so because Western Australia and Queensland have preserved the greatest remnants of the once magnificent forests which used to exist. The then Minister of Forests in Western Australia took uo the scheme very enthusiastically, and much credit was due to him for aiding it, The then Premier of Western Australia wrote to the then Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes) stressing the importance of the matter. At that time Dr. Gellatly was the Director of the Council of Science and Industry, but a national calamity has occurred, as that gentleman, who was a close personal friend of the then Prime Minister, and would have given us the benefit of the scientific attainments and the enthusiasm which he possessed to make it a great success, has died. Dr. Gellatly visited Perth, and arrangements were made on behalf of the Commonwealth and the State Governments as follow: - Western Australia, in order to encourage this . pro ject, was willing to supply a site of 20 acres situated at Crawley, near Perth, which site was worth £20,000. Western Australia was ready to supply £5,000 as a guarantee of good faith, and to aid in constructing the premises. The Federal authorities, on their behalf, promised to establish the laboratory, to equip and maintain it in working order, and pay salaries and incidential charges. Dr. Gellatly thought it would help his project if he had in Western Australia an Advisory - Committee of three gentlemen fairly well known in that State, and an Advisory Committee was appointed. The Committee consisted of Mr. Lane Poole, the originator of. the scheme, Mr. Nathan, who always occupied a prominent position in this and other States in connexion with scientific matters, and myself as chairman. Honorable senators will recognise that as chairman of the Committee I worked very hard in connexion with the project, and will realize that I speak with a good deal of inside knowledge. The scheme at first was fairly ambitious, and to this scheme, Dr. Gellatly and the then Prime Minister readily agreed. All arrangements were made concerning the procuring of the necessary information for the starting of the scheme we had in mind at that time, and Mr. Boas, a gentleman who was a pupil and afterwards a teacher in our Western Australian Technical School, and an accomplished and clever chemist, was appointed the first director of the laboratory. In this Dr. Gellatly and the Commonwealth Government again readily agreed. In order to gain the necessary information for the proper establishment of such a laboratory, it was also resolved that Mr. Boas should undertake a tour which would embrace all forest products laboratories throughout the world, with a view to obtaining the latest ideas on this subject. The cost of the trip, about £1,200, -was borne half by the Commonwealth Government, and half by the Western Australian Government. It will be seen, therefore, that already what might be called a partnership had been established in this project. Mr. Boas visited the United States of America, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Great Britain, and India, embracing in his tour all the forest product laboratories with any claim to distinction throughout the world. On his return he submitted to the Advisory Committee and the Commonwealth Government an extremely able and comprehensive report. Then some little difficulty arose because the Institute of Science and Industry was carrying on practically without legislative authority. A Bill had been prepared, but here was an extremely long time between its preparation and the time at which it passed through Parliament. Then, again, unfortunately, Dr. Gellatly died in September, 1919, and, although it is hard, to believe, nevertheless it is a fact that, with the death of Dr. Gellatly, passed away to an extent, I am afraid, the interest of the then Prime Minister in this project. An interregnum occurred during which the Institute was without a head for .eight months, and Mr. Boas, who had been retained as director of the Forest Products Laboratory, became absolutely tired of waiting for his position to be placed on a permanent and definite basis, and was obliged for his own sake, and that of his wife and family, to seek a position elsewhere. He came to Melbourne to obtain it. Thus we lost the services of a man who would have been, I feel sure, judging from his early work, eminently satisfactory as the first technical director of this laboratory. All this time letters had been passing between the Advisory Committee and the State Government, and between the State Government and the Commonwealth Government. The State had been given a definite promise, to which I have already alluded, for the establishment of a partnership between the two Governments in reference to this project, and the laboratory had already begun with considerable success to carry out its investigations. These were fairly varied, and I am justified in saying that, even with the small amount of money at our disposal, the laboratory carried out in this’ branch of science and industry as much as had been done in the same direction in the whole of the rest of Australia. Through this delay another calamity occurred. Not only did we lose the services of our director, but also, owing to the dilatory nature of the then Commonwealth Government, the chance of securing as Director of the Institute of Science and Industry a gentleman who now occupies a very high and responsible position in the service of the Victorian Government, and who was willing to become Director of the Institute. However, as time went on, and matters became more urgent, an appointment was made to the Directorship of the Council of Science and Industry, whose head office is in Melbourne, and whose activities since that time have become more and more concentrated, as I am afraid most Commonwealth matters become, in Melbourne. Among the subjects to which the Forests Products Laboratory in Western Australia devoted its attention was a research into the manufacture of paper and pulp for the purpose of making paper. ‘ We were faced with the consensus of public opinion throughout the paper-making world that it was impossible to make paper out of Australian hardwood, and with the fact that our staff - such as it was - had been trained practically in Western Australia, and had had no previous experience in preparing wood-pulp for the making of paper. It was, perhaps, a good thing that this was the case because the staff commenced without preconceived prejudices, and they were most successful in what they accomplished. They proved that paper of the most excellent quality could be made out of Australian hardwoods. The tests were by no means confined to Western Australian timbers, because the staff also treated at the laboratory timbers from Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, and South Australia. Thus it will be seen that it was a laboratory purely Federal in its scope.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
.- I shall deal with a few of the points raised by the honorable senator in case I shall not have a later opportunity of doing so. I am not satisfied^ with what the Commonwealth Government and the Institute of Science and Industry have done in the direction to which the honorable senator has drawn attention, but it must be recognised that in this connexion Governments cannot go ahead of public opinion. Had Senator Kingsmill been in Melbourne two or three years ago, he would have known that, although at one time public opinion was- decidedly in favour of the necessity of harnessing science to industry, there was a backwash of that opinion, largely due to the attitude taken up by a section of the Melbourne press, that made it very difficult even to get legislation passed for the estabishment of the Institute, or to get sufficient money for its upkeep. I look very largely to Senator Kingsmill to do a great deal of work in the eastern States of Australia in the direction of educating the public mind to the necessity for giving greater financial assistance to this valuable project. Neither can I feel any particular pride in regard to what has been done with the Forest Products Laboratory, in Perth. As a senator representing Western Australia, I made a very vigorous protest, and did all I could to prevent its removal. I urged upon the Commonwealth Government the necessity for carrying out what really was an honorable understanding with the Western Australian Government - the pushing on of the work commenced in that laboratory. Therefore, I find myself in a difficult position in attempting todefend what has been done in the past. All I can say is that I hope we shall do something better in the future. So far as the Estimates are concerned, the £21,356 provided this year for the Institute of Science and Industry is much more than was spent last year, so that at any rate we are not losing ground. Although I believe arrangements have been made for the removal of the laboratory, I am informed that the matter has not been finally decided upon, and therefore Senator Kingsmill’s protest may yet be in time. The experiments in the making of wood pulp for paper making were carried out on a small model machine at the Perth Laboratory, and were very successful, but they reached the stage when all that could be done with that small model machine had been done. That is to say, it was demonstrated on a laboratory scale that Australian timbers could be successfully converted into pulp for paper making. It then became necessary to demonstrate that this could be done on a commercial scale, and as there was no paper mill in Perth, it became necessary to continue the experiments at Geelong, where a mill was willing to allow this to be done. On the first page of the annual report of the Director of the Institute of
Science and Industry we find the following: -
This report is printed on paper made by the Institute of Science and Industry at Geelong (through the courtesy of the Australasian Paper and Pulp Company Limited).
It is the result of one of the Institute’s semicommercial tests onthe pulping and papermaking qualities of Australian woods. It is manufactured from pulp consisting of 60 per cent. “ soda “ pulp, made from the Victorian timbers, mountain ash (Eucalyptus regnans), silvertop (Eucalyptus sieberiana), and woollybutt (Eucalyptus delegatensis), and of 40 per cent. imported “ sulphite “ pulp.
So that all is not yet lost.
– Save honour.
– On page 9 of the report of the Institute is an interesting table of the work in progress in such fields as the following -
Prickly pear, pottery, paper pulp, blow-fly, Western Australian red gum (to get rid of objectionable colour in red gum tannin), Western Australian tannin survey, New South Wales and Tasmanian tannin surveys, cattle tick dips, carburettors and liquid fuels, viticultural investigations, and seed improvements.
These are all very important investigations, and although we may not be able to achieve all that Senator Kingsmill would wish, or to attain that very high standard he has set, I ask him not to be downhearted, but to realize that he has come into a Federal sphere, where he can do a very valuable public service in giving a lead as to the line in which we should go, and in educating public opinion. The honorable senator is an enthusiast, and I know that he has rendered a very important public service in Western Australia in connexion with this subject. I welcome him in the Federal sphere, because I believe that he will continue to do that valuable work which he has already commenced in’ Western Australia. I can assure him that whatever support I can lend as a member of the Government I shall be willing to give, and I believe that the Government will lend a friendly ear to any suggestion he may make, provided they know that the work they are doing, and the money they are spending, will have some definite and useful purpose in view. When we can educate the public opinion to support the expenditure of money in the direction in which Senator Kingsmill and others desire it to be spent, I believe the Government will be willing to spend it. I hope that the honorable senator -will accept that assurance, and not press his amendment.
– I trust that honorable senators will not mind my taking up their time for a little while again. I feared that when I started, my explanation would occupy a little more than the time allowed to me by the Standing Orders. I thank the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) for what he has said. I hope that he may not live to regret encouraging me in the wild course on which I have now started. He has said that there was a backwash of public opinion in Victoria in regard to the cultivation of our natural products, but I can assure him that that backwash did not extend to Western Australia, as is shown by the fact that the little machine with which we first started these experiments - although it was little, it was fairly expensive; it cost about £600 - was given to the laboratory. I do not know where it is now. It is presumably the property of the Federal Government, but it was given by the newspaper proprietors of Perth, free of any charge. If it had not been for the presentation of that machine we should not have been able to carry out the project. The very valuable assistance given to the project by the State Government and private individuals and firms in Western Australia, was due, not one jot or tittle to any effort by the Federal Government, but to the efforts of -the Advisory Committee and the driving force of public opinion. That is why we feel as a State, and why I feel, as a former member of the Advisory Committee, that a cruel thing has been done to Western Australia by robbing it of one of the few Federal advantages it had in this Forests Products Laboratory. I trust that what I have to say will not be said too late. If it be not too late, I am afraid the Leader of the Government (Senator Pearce) will have cause to regret that he has encouraged me in the efforts I am now making. Let me say one or two words with regard to the administration. I feel that the principal director of the Institute of Science and Industry should be a gentleman who is not too academic. He must not be a person who will sun himself like some Tibetan mahatma sitting on a high peak surrounded by a light-blue haze of higher mathematics which he has the faculty of increasing at will until the onlooker is driven to wonder whether, or indeed why, he exists. He must be one who has gone into the outside world, and is acquainted with it and its business methods, and who is devoted to applied, rather than pure, science. He must be a man of energy and enthusiasm. Such a man, I feel sure, we can get as a product of one of our universities. If we can avoid going outside Australia I would greatly deprecate doing so, because I feel sure that in the Australian products of our universities we can find men resourceful and clever, who will not be deterred by difficulties, and who will be as good scientists as Australians have proved themselves good soldiers. Therefore, I maintain that it is advisable that the directing powers of the Institute of Science and Industry should become less academic and more practical than they are. I do not know if the kind references of the Minister, which I confess have somewhat disarmed me-
– Beware !
– I shall take the honorable senator’s advice. I will beware. We were beguiled before with soft promises. One one occasion the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes), was on a visit to Perth at a time when the removal of this laboratory, or the partial destruction of it, was strongly suspected. He was met by a deputation, and he told us to be of good cheer, for we were unnecessarily frightened. He said, to use his own words, ‘ ‘I will do everything I can to see that this laboratory, which has done good work, is not side-tracked by any fanatical attempt to centralize things in Melbourne. I sympathize with you entirely, and I will support you as far as the finances of the Commonwealth will permit.” The Commonwealth Government could spend its funds on no more worthy, object than the encouragement of this laboratory under a proper administration. It seems paradoxical that I should move for a reduction in this vote in one part, and not for an increase of it in another part. I want to see £100,000 spent on this work, and that money could not be spent better ox more profitably. Let us take an example from America. No country has welded science and industry more successfully and systematically. .The Americans spend hundreds of thousands of pounds to reap millions. The same result is possible in Australia. I hope the encouragement of this work will become a permanent part of the Government’s policy. Because of my first claim that an injustice has been done to Western Australia, I do not feel inclined to’ withdraw my motion. I intend to ask the Senate to divide upon it in order that I may obtain some expression of opinion from honorable senators regarding their views. I ask them to promote the interest of Western Australia, which I claim is badly treated in this respect, by carrying my proposed request.
– I support Senator Kingsmill. I hope he will not be led away by the reply of Senator Pearce. Senator Pearce has said that he has done his best to assist the object that Senator Kingsmill desires to achieve. He says he is still desirous of assisting Senator Kingsmill. The proof of the pudding is in the eating of it. I hope Senator Kingsmill will not withdraw his proposed request, but will press it to a division. Then, if Senator Pearce is sincere in what he has said, and in his desire as a representative of Western Australia to see that this laboratory goes back to its proper place, he will vote for the reduction. T am very glad that after twenty-eight hours of debate on this Bill we have now a definite amendment. We have come to a definite pass, and I want to see on which side of it Senator Pearce will place himself. I am not acquainted with any man in this Parliament who knows more about this subject than ‘ Senator Kingsmill. That being so, I should like him to test Senator Pearce, and find out how he will vote. I shall support Senator Kingsmill, not because I am a Western Australian senator, not because I help to represent that great State, which sends such great men to the Commonwealth Parliament, but because the object Senator Kingsmill has in view is a national one. Senator Pearce, who has been in the Ministry for many years, pleads guilty to a deflection ; but he says, “ I have done my best.” Let him be put to a test.
– I wish very briefly to address myself to the item relating to he Institute of Science and Industry, and the small amount provided for carrying on its work. I agree with Senator Kingsmill that a great deal more money could be profitably spent in Australia by this Institute.’ It could carry out many useful experiments. The Institute requires extending and speeding up, and without reflecting on any one connected with it, I would like to see some young, vigorous, and practical men connected with it. I should like to draw the attention of honorable senators to the enormous losses occasioned in Australia by noxious weeds, such as prickly pear, Paterson’s curse, St. John’s wort, stinkwort, Bathurst burr, oxalis, &c.
As far as I know no scientific effort has been made to combat noxious weeds, with the solitary exception of prickly pear. They cost the country an enormous sum of money every year, and are, unfortunately, spreading rapidly. It has often occurred to me, when attempting in my own small way to combat some of these weeds, which I have not been successful in doing, that a scientific brain concentrated on the problem might achieve something of great value. As an alternative to the destruction of the weeds, there is the possibility of crossing a noxious weed with an edible plant, so as to produce a very hardy edible plant which would be of service to this country. I have often thought that oxalis, which I have found impossible to destroy even on a patch of land smaller than this chamber, has habits somewhat similar to lucerne. If a scientist could cross those herbs, and combine with oxalis some of the food value of lucerne, he would do a great service to Australia. The best natural grasses of _this Commonwealth, which have valuable fattening properties, produce a high class of stock and incomparable wool, have not, to my knowledge, been in any way developed, cultivated, or tested out. It is a lamentable fact that we know very little regarding our grasses and herbage. Look at the wonderful work which has been done by young Australians in the breeding and development of wheats, at which Australia probably leads the world. Farrar and such men have bred a wheat - such as “ Federation “ - which enables dry areas to’ give a satisfactory yield.
– Did they receive any aid from the Institute of Science and Industry?_
– None whatever. As far as I know, the Institute has done nothing practical. I want it to be given a chance. Instead of attempting to cut down the proposed vote, we ought to provide £100,000 annually for scientific investigation. A learned professor who recently visited Australia gave extraordinary advice to us in regard to sheepbreeding. In sheep breeding and husbandry Australia excels. In the last 100 years we have evolved a breed of sheep which is far ahead of any other sheep in the world in regard to both the quantity and the quality of the wool produced per head. If we were to take the advice of these professors and cross, with our merino sheep the wild sheep of Asia or India, we would go back in our sheep-breeding 140 years, to the time when the first sheep were landed in Australia. They were the extraordinary sheep which came from Bengal, in India. With the assistance of Captain Macarthur and the Bev. Mr. Marsden, the pioneers of the merino sheep industry in Australia, such masters of sheep husbandry were the people of Australia, at the end of the eighteenth century, that they have made this country world famous for its sheep and wool. I do not think any one realizes the loss occasioned by noxious weeds, and the increasing danger caused by their spread. Practically every noxious weed, animal, and bird has been introduced to Australia from other countries. The fox, the rabbit, and the sparrow were brought from other parts. The blowfly which plays such havoc with our sheep is supposed to have come originally from Scotland and to have crossed with our ordinary blowfly. I think 1 would be safe in saying that millions of pounds per annum are lost through the ravages of the blowfly, which is killing a vast number of sheep annually and having a prejudicial effect upon the ‘health and the wool of millions of our flocks. “The Institute of Science and Industry has made slight attempts in Queensland to investigate the blowfly pest and the depredations of the rabbits. Those attempts have been spasmodic, and, so far, have been of practically no avail. In Queensland, in the northern part of New South Wales, and in those portions of Victoria in which there are merino sheep, enormous losses have been incurred because of the blowfly, whilst rabbits have to be fought practically everywhere. We want young, progressive, practical men linked up with the Institute, and £100,000 should be placed on the Estimates annually instead of a paltry £21,000. I urge the Government to pay far more attention to scientific research, particularly in regard to measures for combating the evils of noxious weeds and animal pests.
– I have urged on more than one occasion that a greater amount of money should be made available to the Institute of Science and Industry. It was suggested at one time that the Institute was the proper body to advise in regard to mechanical or biological means of destroying prickly pear. I suggested that, if the owners of properties armed themselves with small mattocks and did some honest work, a greater amount of good would be done in one week than would result in twenty years from operations directed from Melbourne. The Institute of Science and Industry has done little or nothing to combat the prickly pear, which is one of the greatest menaces that confront the Commonwealth. I understand that in Queensland to-day there are more than 20,000,000 acres which are infested with prickly pear. Probably there are 5,000,000 acres of fairly good land in New South Wales which are infested, and at least 1,000,000 acres per year are being annexed by the pear. As far as I can see, the pear has defied all the efforts that have been made to eradicate it. It is quite an easy matter to deal with the pest in the early stages. Where one small bush or plant is found in, perhaps, an area of 100 acres, it is quite an easy matter for a man with a small mattock to destroy it and keep that area clean. Some little time ago I was at Moree. A station owned and run by Mr. McDonald - who, I believe, is one of our absentee landlords - is by some means kept absolutely free from the prickly pear at very little cost. On the Government lands adjoining his station, and on the public thoroughfares leading past it, a large amount of pear is visible. On some of the Government land it has made such vigorous growth that it will puzzle the most expert person to discover a means to bring about its eradication. Land which is thinly infested can easily be kept clean. A small plant, that can be removed to-day with very little effort, will develop with such rapidity that, within the course of a few years, many acres will be overrun. The Institute of Science and Industry should take immediate steps- to deal with the menace. Some time ago, this Parliament, in order to increase land values in the Richmond and ‘ other districts in the northern part of New South Wales, imposed a duty on the importation of Fiji bananas. When the banana plants in those districts began to bear, it was found that many of them were infested with a disease known as “bunchy top.” It ought to be an easy matter for this galaxy of intellectuals to deal with a small pest of that kind. We have not heard of anything having been done to minimize or eradicate it. I understand that it is of such a devastating character that the value of the land has been depreciated to the extent of 50 per cent. Farrar, the Australian wheat expert, has done more than all the members of the Institute of Science and Industry have attempted to do. He has given us a wheat standard which is probably unequalled in the world. He did not receive any assistance from those who were alleged to be scientific experts. As was mentioned by Senator Guthrie, the men who were responsible for the importation and the breeding of sheep in Australia received no assistance from the Government. I think theirs is the best kind of work that can be done. Recently I was travelling between Port Augusta and Adelaide. Looking out of the carriage window, I saw what appeared at first sight to be a field covered with “green : grass. Closer examination proved that it was St. John’s Wort, or some other weed. The Institute of Science and Industry has not done anything to have it eradicated, and. I venture to say that it will n nt, That job will be done by the farmer. Something more than talk is required to eradicate a weed of this description. Many noxious weeds are to be found along our highways. They should be eradicated by the local governing authorities, but unless the task is undertaken by the Federal authorities it will never be accomplished. The report of the Institute of Science and Industry should give us an indication of the work that body is engaged in from year to year.
– The Institute was established by a Labour Government, and it should be assisted in its good work.
Most of its investigations are carried out along negative lines, but they prevent the expenditure of public money in wrong directions. I suppose that the pricklypear, like the rabbit pest, has some advantages. I remember a settler telling me on one occasion that the prickly pear had -carried his stock through a drought. Senator Grant is a very practical man, and he suggests that this noxious plant should be attacked by means of mattocks. I remember him on a political campaign in New South Wales, when he exhibited a photograph of himself handling an axe to show that he was a working man. Some one has suggested that he has had an axe to grind ever since in regard to land value taxation. Valuable as the present debate has been, I venture to say that the time will come when honorable senators will realize that this is the most important measure with which Parliament has to deal. Although I have spoken somewhat frequently, the Ministry and its servile following have prevented me from addressing the Committee on the matters on which I most desired to speak. I hope that the Government and their supporters will return from the banquet to be tendered to-night to the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) prepared to conduct the business in a reasonable manner. I congratulate Ministers, after twenty-eight hours of continuous debating, upon having decided that there shall be freedom of speech for their own supporters.
– I do not desire my motion to be a vehicle for placing my honorable friends in an embarrassing position. I believe it is quite impossble for the Minister (Senator Pearce) to vote against his own Estimates, and, as I recognise his good intentions, I am prepared to withdraw the request.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
Senator LYNCH (Western Australia; [4.11]. - I draw attention to the folly of curtailing the vote in regard to the Trade Commisionership in China. Although the Government has had some ill-fortune in the selection of its Commissioner, it is not justified in reducing the vote for this item to a nullity. Last year £7,736 was expended, and this year we have only a miserable £1,590 set down as the estimated expenditure for 1923-24. There is no more important matter than that of finding suitable markets for our surplus production, and China to-day affords an almost unlimited field to be exploited? The report of the late Senator Bakhap shows that there is an unlimited market in the East for our staple products.
– In addition to the vote the honorable senator mentions, there is an amount provided for Mr. Sheaf, the Australian Trade Representative in the East. This sum is contributed conjointly by the States and the Commonwealth.
– I am satisfied from the Minister’s statement that steps are being taken to keep in touch with a market that is at present monopolized by other countries, particularly Canada. For eight years Canada has been pushing its Eastern trade, and the United States of America has quite an army of official representatives there.
– The Leader of the Government, in reply to a remark by Senator Lynch, stated that the item of £500 for the financial year 1923-24 was only a portion of the amount voted with respect to the Trade Commissioner for China, and that the Commonwealth Government supplemented the sum voted by the ‘ States. I understand there is a Trade Commissioner in China and an Australian Trade Representative in the East. Are they distinct ?
– Yes; but both were appointed for encouragement of trade.
– I understand that the amount of £500 covers only a portion of the year.
– Yes; Mr. Little has been dismissed, but Mr. Sheaf is still there.
– Is Mr. Sheaf the general representative of the Commonwealth and the States?
– There were two distinct positions. The amounts refer to the payments to be made to Mr. Little for portion of the year, and to Mr. Sheaf, who will now represent Australia in the East, for the whole of the year.
– It seems somewhat misleading, but I suppose it is all right.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote (Department of Works and Railways), £826,464, agreed to. ‘
Proposed vote, £7,997,131.
– Instead of the number of post-offices in the Commonwealth being increased, the number has been decreasing, because, according to the Commonwealth Year-Book, the number of postoffices and receiving offices which the Department maintained for the accommodation of the whole of the Commonwealth in the following years was - In 1916, 8,565; 1917, 8,483; 1918, 8,398; 1919, 8,384; 1920, 8,292; 1921, 8,369. There has been a reduction of 196, and one might naturally ask whether they collapsed or became superfluous owing to people removing to thecities and the towns. Mr. William Webster, an exPostmasterGeneral, was able to make the Post and Telegraph Department, which had always been a failure, a paying institution, but only in consequence of the reduction in wages paid to the working men and women engaged in the Department and by cutting down the efficiency of the service. Mr. Webster was responsible for the closing of quite a number of offices during his regime, with the result that the privileges of the people where considerably curtailed. Some time ago, I asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral what object the Government had in view in borrowing £3,500,000 for postoffice improvements when the Department was making a profit of £1,200,000 a year. Apparently this amount has been spent on fads and extravagances elsewhere, as £802,706 of loan money was paid to the service last year apparently to arrest the general decay. It is difficult to understand why loan money should be used on which interest has to be paid for extending our postal services, when the Department is showing a profit. Even in big cities, where ample provision was once made for the despatch of letters, one has now to walk half-a-mile or so to postoffices at which stamps can be purchased and letters posted. Previously stamps could be purchased almost anywhere, but that convenience has been lost. Perhaps the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral can give the Senate some information concerning the largely decreased number of post-offices.
– Owing to a recent interpreta- tion of the existing law, typewritten letters are not now regarded as printed matter, and although thousands are struck off by means of a Roneo machine, and are in every way similar to printed matter, they arenot permitted to go through the post-office at printed paper rates. My attention has been drawn to this matter by one of our enthusiastic reformers in Sydney, Mr. A. G. Huie, who takes a deep interest in the question of land values taxation, and who says that his efforts are severely handicapped by the latest interpretation of the regulations.
– They are regarded as personal communications.
– They cannot be regarded as personal communications, and as I have two specimen copies of these circulars, I shall hand them to the Minister for his perusal. This gentleman despatches these circulars to hundreds of newspapers throughout the country, and as they are in effect printed documents, they should go at printed matter rates.
-Each one is sent to a separate addressee.
– Yes. These circu lars are produced by up-to-date duplicating machines, and although the work of the printers may be somewhat interfered with, they are a convenience to the people. The Post Office should not be used to prevent modern inventions of this kind being utilized, and I trust that the Minister will see that duplicated circulars can be despatched at the rate imposed on printed matter.
– On the eighth of this month the Australian Letter Carriers Association was granted by the Public Service Arbitrator a variation of its award, which, I understand, has been forwarded by the Arbitrator to the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Gibson). The variation of an award must be laid on the table of Parliament for thirty days prior to becoming effective. Whatever benefits the members of the Letter Carriers Association gain from the variation of the award, unless that variation is tabled before the session ends, cannot become operative until Parliament reassembles some time in February or March of next year. I ask the Minister to see if this document cannot be tabled before we rise.
– An award dated the 14th August, made by the Public Service Arbitrator in the plaint made by the Australian Letter Carriers’ Association, will be laid on the table today. In regard to what has been said by Senator McDougall, I am informed that more post-offices have been opened than have been closed in the past twelve months.
– That is wrong.
– That is the information supplied by the Department.
– If the award referred to by the Minister is not the latest the members of the Letter Carriers’ Association will not get the benefit of it until Parliament reassembles. On the 23rd June last a letter was forwarded to me from Toodyay, in Western Australia, asking me to urge the provision of telephone facilities between Toodyay and Nungle. On the 31st July, I forwarded this request to the Postmaster-General, and on the 15th August was informed by the Department that the matter was under consideration. I now ask the Honorary Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral to ascertain whether this particular telephone communication can be provided.
– I shall bring the matter under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral, and endeavour to furnish the honorable senator with a reply before Parliament rises.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Public Health.
Proposed vote, £121,986.
– The expenditure in connexion with the Department of Health was £122,915 last year, slightly more than the amount provided this year. It is of supreme importance that every Government, Labour or anti-Labour, should pay serious attention to health matters. They are of paramount importance. Although Australia possesses a fine climate, and Australians have many advantages that people in other parts of the world do not enjoy, there are thousands of the people in the Commonwealth who are not as physically fit as they might have been if the Governments of the past had given serious and mature consideration to the health of the community. I noticed in a newspaper paragraph recently that there is a proposal to establish a sanatorium at Bendigo to deal with tuberculosis, and I think I read in that paragraph a statement to the effect that the Commonwealth Government were associating themselves with the State Government in establishing this institution. Some time ago, I read a statement to the effect that the Commonwealth Government had established a laboratory at Bendigo, which was’ to be linked up with the proposed sanatorium. If that is the case, I should like the Honorary Minister (Senator Wilson) representing the Minister for Health to indicate what lines the Government intend to follow. Undoubtedly tuberculosis is oil the increase in Australia, and miners’ phthisis is . a form of that dreadful disease. When I was in Bendigo a few months ago, I took a walk out in the billy country where I came across a man thirty-seven years of age, who looked to be fifty-seven years of age. I found that he was drawing an invalid pension, because he was suffering acutely from miners’ phthisis. I am anxious to know if the Government intend to extend this sphere of usefulness upon which they apparently propose to make a beginning at Bendigo, because, if such is their intention, the amount provided on the Estimates is altogether inadequate. Health, as I say, is a matter of supreme importance. If we have not a healthy community, nothing can go right. Will the Minister tell the Committee what the Government intend to do in regard to health matters, and particularly what is intended to be done at Bendigo for the treatment of tuberculosis.
– Many laboratories are proposed to be built in the future, but activity in this direction has been suspended for the moment, because of an understanding entered into at the recent Conference between Commonwealth Ministers and State Ministers that the senior officers of health throughout the Commonwealth should meet and come to a better understanding with regard to the division of work between the
States and Commonwealth Departments. That Conference will take place in October or November next, and when we have the result of the deliberations of these officers to guide us, we shall be able to lay down a more workable scheme for the whole of Australia instead of having each State carrying out a little task on its own without working in unison either with the Commonwealth or with other States.
– What is intended to be done in connexion with the’ establishment of a sanatorium at Bendigo?
– I cannot supply that information off-hand, but I shall see that the honorable senator gets it at a very early date.
– In subdivision 3 (Miscellaneous) we are asked to vote a sum of £37,300. There are a number of very interesting items in this subdivision, and the Senate has had no information regarding them. We are asked to vote a small sum for the International Bureau of Public Health. Do we get reports from that Bureau 1
– Those are the reports which the honorable gentleman receives in a yellow wrapper, and which he immediately throws into the waste-paper basket.
– I have not received any. Then there is the expenditure for the investigation of epidemic and industrial diseases. A considerable number of people, including miners and stonemasons, suffer from phthisis and other occupational diseases. What has the investigation disclosed regarding these maladies? There is a1 more substantial item of £7,000 for the advancement of the study of tropical diseases. Th;e Senate ‘is entitled to know what results have been obtained from that expenditure. The hookworm disease, towards the eradication of which a sum of £6,500 is provided, is reported to be very serious in some parts, of Australia. The report of the work done ought to be made available to us. I am perhaps more interested in the item “ Sanitary engineering investigations, £1,500.” The health of the people is seriously affected, particularly in the large cities, by unsatisfactory, out-of-date, sanitary appliances. I would like a copy of any report that is being made in this connexion.
– I shall send the honorable senator a complete set of the reports.
– I have for some time studied the subject of race preservation. Appalling evidence is cited by Dr. Rentoul in his book Race Suicide or Race Culture. The Australian race is suffering to an alarming extent from the effect of certain diseases. The Commonwealth should take . over the whole of the work of dealing with those diseases. I am disappointed at the salary paid to the Director of Public Health; £1,200 a year is not enough for a man who has the ability to tackle problems of this magnitude. At the time of the plague infection, I had an interview with Dr. Cumpston, and I thought him an excellent man. The diseases to which I refer were investigated by a committee of experts in New South Wales. The report of that committee was astounding. Something must be done in the interests of the people, or we shall become a race of degenerates. A menace to this country are those who refuse to do their duty to it, and who avail themselves of every means of getting rid of their progeny. The few fatal cases which occur may be read in the newspapers, but there are hundreds of others. The effect of the diseases and practices to which I have referred will have such a detrimental effect on the Australian race that money ought to be provided for discovering means of coping with the difficulty. An investigation should be made by the National Government. I hope there will be some improvement in the position when we next meet; if not, I shall tackle the subject myself. I intended to do so on the present occasion, but there is very little time in which to do so. I shall certainly endeavour to do something to remedy one of the. greatest curses and evils from which the country suffers. The eradication of rabbits and noxious weeds is a small matter when compared with this.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Was Services Payable cutof Revenue.
Proposed vote, £788,953.
– I would like to bring under notice the case of a man named McLeod, who left Australia in the early days of the war as a munition worker.
After arriving in England he joined a vessel called the War Wolf, and in carrying out his duties on that vessel he was killed. The mother of this deceased soldier is over 86 years of age, and she has made an application for a pension. I have communicated with the DirectorGeneral of Repatriation in Melbourne, and he has written to me asking if it is possible to get particulars of the son’s military number or anything else to enable the Department to identify him. That information I have not been able to obtain. My letter to the Department was as follows : -
Mrs. McLeod, of Boulder City, Western Australia, has brought under my notice the question of her claim for a war pension in connexion with the death of her son. I have not to hand the particulars, such as his military number, &c, but I think you can discover them on the file, as the matter has already been before your Department. It appears that McLeod left Australia as a munition worker and afterwards joined the s.s. War Wolf abroad. However, there appears to be some doubt as to whether or not, whilst on the War Wolf, he was serving in the - capacity of a member of the British Mercantile Marine or was a member of the British Naval Forces. To my mind the doubt which attaches to the latter part of his service should not count against the rendering of a pension when he enlisted as a munition worker and afterwards met his death, but if such doubt should be held against the pension, I respectfully suggest that it is the duty of. your Department to assist the aged mother by making the necessary inquiries.
I understand that Mrs. McLeod has been told that if it can be proved that her son, whilst on the War Wolf, was a member of the British Naval Forces, the difference between the Australian and the Imperial pension would be paid to her. Again I suggest that your Department has the machinery to make these inquiries which Mrs. McLeod has not in her possession. Acting on her behalf I would suggest that your Department make the necessary inquiries in order to remove this doubt, and so hasten the payment of either an Imperial or an Australian pension. I am very much afraid that the non-payment of either will be an injustice that ought not to be permitted.
I also wrote to the Imperial Pensions Paymaster, Perth, Western Australia, as follows : -
I have been requested to inquire from you as to whether or not Mr. McLeod, late of Boulder City, Western Australia, who met his death whilst aboard the War Wolf, and who during the war period was acting in the capacity of a member of the British Naval Forces is entitled to a pension. I regret that I cannot, at the present juncture, give you the details, such as service number, &c, but I know he left Australia as a munition worker, and afterwards joined the War Wolf. His mother is claiming a pension from the Australian authorities, but owing to the doubt existent in connexion with Ins actual position on the War Wolf, so far her request has not been granted. If you get into touch with the Repatriation Department they will give you further details. Trusting you will make the necessary inquiries and thanking you in anticipation.
Seeing that the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) will visit Western Australia shortly, I suggest that he should use his endeavours with a view to clearing up the matter and getting a pension for this aged woman. He may,indeed, be able to do it before he leaves Melbourne. If he left Australia as a munition worker he should come under the operation of the Pensions Act. I shall be glad if the Minister will inquire into this case to see if he can relieve this old lady in her hour of need.
– If the honorable senator will let me have the documents I shall go into the matter with the Repatriation Commissioners, and see what can be done.
– There is ample room for inquiry and complaint in connexion with the War Service Homes administration. The Senate the other night passed a Bill dealing with War Service Homes. There was a free and full discussion of that measure, and, therefore, one need not now enlarge upon the mal-administration of the War Service Homes Department since it was created. I understand, also, that a Commission has been appointed to deal with some of these matters. Presumably we would be going beyond the scope of reasonable debate if we discussed that which is practically sub judice. I shall, therefore, reserve for another occasion any further remarks I have to make.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Second schedule agreed to.
Preamble agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without request; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) pro posed -
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– I am very sorry to delay the passage of this important measure, but in the schedule I find there is a reference to expenditure in connexion with the administration of the
Navigation Act. It is generally understood that in October next certain sections of the Navigation Act which hitherto have been inoperative will be brought into operation. It has been represented to me that some injustice may be done to the local Marine Boards and harbor authorities, and that the Government might, with advantage, utilize as far as possible, the machinery and officers now controlled by those Marine Boards and harbor authorities. From the Hobart Marine Board I have received the following communication -
Marino Board, Hobart, 30th July, 1923.
I have the honour, by direction of my Board, to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 13th inst., enclosing copy of communication from the Honorable the Prime Minister, dated 6th instant. My Board is of opinion that the new proposals of the Commonwealth authorities to interfere with matters of local regulation are as undesirable as my Board is advised they are unconstitutional. It is noted that out of the eleven subjects mentioned, it is at present proposed to deal with six only, and to endeavour to bring into early operation Federal regulations with regard to these. I have therefore to deal with the six in order : -
Certificates of Competency for Masters, Mates, and Engineers. - In Tasmania these are dealt with under regulations (as to river, bay, and coasting ships), made by theGovenor in Council, after consultation with the Marine Board authorities. They are working well, and nothing whatever is to be gained (in the opinion of my Board) by the intrusion of the Commonwealth into a field which is not its own.
That statement refers to the Intra-State trade carried on in Tasmania by river, bay, and coasting ships. The letter goes on to state -
Generally, as to the suggestion that in these matters (or some of them) officers of the Commonwealth Navigation Service should act as agents for the State authorities, my Board considers that it can administer navigation laws in respect to Intro-State shipping, far more economically than, and as effectively as, the Commonwealth.
Under the Tasmanian Marine Board Act of 1922, every provision is made with regard to the granting of certificates of competency for mates and engineers, and also for the establishment of proper courts of inquiry and survey. The Department of Trade and Customs should see that there is no undue interference with the State authorities, if, on investigation, it is found that the provisions made by them comply with the Navigation Act as far as the safety of human life and the proper control of shipping within the waters of the Commonwealth are concerned. Where the local officers have had long experience in these matters, their services would be more useful, and could be more economically employed than those of a Commonwealth Department. The Federal Government would be well advised if it utilized the services of the State officers. I enter this protest on behalf of the Marine Board of Tasmania, and I hope that the Minister will have further inquiries made before the Act is put into operation; otherwise the State Department will be so interfered with that it will be eventually wiped out of existence.
– I propose to raise the subject of equal pay for equal work, which I think affects the Post and Telegraph Department more than any other, because that Department employs more women than any other Department does. A great injustice is now suffered by women employees, many of whom do practically the same work as men, but receive considerably lower salaries than those paid to male officers. I think every honorable senator will assent to the principle of equal pay for equal work. I have received a telegram from the Telephonic Officers’ Association in South Australia asking for my assistance in the maintenance of that principle. I have also received a circular which contains a number of self-evident propositions. It states, inter alia -
A gross injustice has been perpetrated, in that cost of living allowance has been incorporated in salary at the rate of£62 for married men and single men,and for women clerks, postmistresses, and women telegraphists, the large majority of women being granted only £27. We maintain the cost of living is the same for all and no distinction can be fairly made.
It is fundamentally dishonest to allow two persons to sit side by side, doing the same work, involving the same mental and physical wear and tear, and pay one more than another. To pay for sex is as illogical as to pay’ according to the colour of one’s hair, or the size of one’s shoe, or any other personal idiosyncrasy. Work only should earn money.
The first Federal Public Service Act gave a living wage to” all officers “ of the Service. We should never again have been referred to as male and female officers, but all alike designated for all time “ officers “ of the Public Service. Surely it is a retrograde movement to bring back distinctions that existed last century.
If single men are to be paid more than twice as much in consideration of cost of living as single women, is it intended to equalize things by arranging that the women shall work six half days per week and the men six whole days; or will legislation be introduced so that when a woman and a man go to buy a loaf of bread the woman will be told that the price to her is only half what it is to the man?
I ask the Government whether it is not logical to say that, irrespective of sex, employees doing equal work in the Commonwealth service shall have equal pay and similar conditions.
.- A few days ago I asked the Government if it would withhold the bringing into operation of any further provisions of the Navigation Act until the investigation by the Select Committee had been completed. The reply I received was that, as the Government had issued the proclamation it did not consider it wise to delay putting the measure into operation. I understand that the Select Committee now inquiring into the operation of the Act may be made a Royal Commission, and I urge that it would not be right to bring the further provisions of the Act into operation prior to the receipt of the report of that body. Despite the reply given on a former occasion, I ask the Minister not to bring the further provisions of the Act into operation until the report comes to hand.
– I recognise that my remarks earlier in the afternoon were uncalled for, and that honorable senators opposite who voted to “ gag “ the Opposition on every possible occasion have shown some independence. I now desire to withdraw the word used by me. Although the Government, with its’ majority, was able to check discussion in Committee on different Departments, it cannot curtail the discussion on the third reading of the Bill. When the Department of the Treasury was under consideration, honorable senators on this side were prevented from discussing the matter as fully as they desired. Had an opportunity been afforded it was my intention to obtain information on the question of coinage. When we realize how little coin we handle, we cannot fail to be surprised at the cost involved in this connexion. It will be seen from the schedule that the cost of the coinage of silver, including freight, insurance, distribution, and other expenses, not including the cost of bullion, will this year amount to £10,000, whilst last year the vote was £12,000, and actual expenditure £12,613. This is an extraordinary cost for coining silver, irrespective of the metal contents. On the coinage of bronze, including the charges I have mentioned in relation to silver coinage, the proposed expenditure is £7,500, whilst the vote last year waa £19,000, and the actual expenditure £19,352. It seems an extraordinary cost to incur in connexion with coinage, but a simple explanation might have been forthcoming if our rights had not been so ruthlessly interfered with. Probably the only costs incurred in coinage is in the working of the plant, deterioration on machinery, wages, and overhead charges; but, even if due allowance is made for these, the amount is preposterous. No reference is made to gold coinage. We are informed that Commonwealth notes are redeemable at the Head Office of the Commonwealth Bank, and it would be interesting . to test the value of the Commonwealth’s written word, that gold will bo paid ‘ for notes on demand. The Minister (Senator Pearce) may resent a general discussion on the main principles of the Bill at this juncture, but -I intend to exercise my rights. The affronts and insults to which I was subjected last night and early this morning when I was anxious to speak on matters of great importance to the people I represent, have left a wound which it will be difficult to heal. There is another extraordinary item under the Department of the Treasury that might have been cleared up if the Government had had the decency to extend to honorable senators that courtesy to which they are entitled. lt will be noticed that an amount of £329 has been set aside for services - speaking from memory - rendered in 1912 or 1913. It is exceedingly difficult to understand why expenditure incurred nearly ten years ago is now being met. Quite a number of Governments have been in office since 1913t but apparently no one has been sufficiently alert to see whether the money was owing and should be paid. There is ground for grave suspicion when an amount bo long outstanding, is now to be paid. Just as I rose to seek information the Minister moved - “ That the Senate do now divide.” One can easily realize the truth of the words, “ Suspicion ever haunts the guilty mind.” I do not think I have a guilty, mind, but I am inclined to think that there is some reason why this matter has been hushed up’. When I see votes such as this being submitted by a Government which will not permit discussion, and a Minister leading this Senate - a position which any man should be proud to occupy - closing the debate in such an unusual way, I am astounded. If there is suspicion in the minds of people in regard to this item the responsibility is upon the Minister because he would not give us the opportunity of removing that suspicion. This matter to which I refer may relate to another of those money-squandering methods which the Government are forcing through Parliament, such as the Bill to prevent certain leaseholders from paying the taxation imposed on them years ago by another Government. Ministers’ methods are illustrated by the way in which they have passed the Appropriation Bill through its earlier stages. It is useless for the Minister for Home and Territories to say that opportunity has been given to discuss it, and that at least two honorable senators of the Opposition were allowed to speak before the motion was moved, “ That the Committee do now divide.” I do not know that I am in order in referring to that aspect of the Committee stage of this Bill, but on the third reading one ought to be permitted to discuss any wrongs committed during the earlier stages.
– The only discussion permissible upon the third reading of the Bill is that which is strictly relevant to the question whether the Bill should or should not pass. There can be no reference, except in a casual way, to what has already taken place at other stages of the Bill.
– I felt sure that I would be in order in my references, but it was rather startling for me to find that even the Chairman of Committees was so anxious to get this Bill through that he would merely mumble when putting the votes to the Committee.
– The honorable senator is not in order.
– I thought that I should not be in order in mentioning this, but it seemed to me an unwise method of attempting to get the business through.
– Of course, I have a mumbling voice!
– Twice I called for a division, but my voice was not heard by the Chairman. As I would not be in order in entering into a discussion with Senator Newland I let the matter pass, except to say that I hope that when the honorable senator is next in the chair he will realize that it is his business to preside impartially, and not to help the Government. The vote for the
Treasury, on the declaration of the Chairman, went through without discussion. This vote covered thirty-nine pages of the schedule, and contained many items of considerable interest to the people whom I have the honour to represent. One honorable senator of the Opposition was permitted to speak, and he dealt with matters of most importance to himself, but others were prevented from speaking. I do not blame the Government in this respect, but I blame those who, by voting to suppress free speech, prevented honorable senators from discussing the items covered by the Treasury vote. If the Government had continued to conduct the .business of the Senate as it had been previously conducted we should have been a long way further ahead than we are now, and a great deal further ahead than we are likely to be to-morrow morning. Honorable members of the Opposition will take full advantage of the next two hours, and will give close attention to the Standing Orders, to ascertain how they can avoid being prevented from discussing that which they desire to discuss. I have no complaint to make in regard to the vote for the Department of Trade and Customs. I was given ample opportunity to discuss that Department, and if I missed any item upon which I had’ been most anxious to speak I have only myself to blame. I am not quite sure what happened to the vote for the Department of the AttorneyGeneral. I find that the Reporting Branch earned a revenue of £6,000 dur. ing the twelve months. I would have been interested to learn how a Government Department can earn so much by reporting. No doubt there is a simple explanation, but one wonders if Mr. W. M. Hughes, who has recently developed a taste for newspaper writing, started a Commonwealth organization to earn money for the Commonwealth by reporting for the newspapers.
– What has become of the Commonwealth police ?
– I think that Senator Pearce has told us that the Commonwealth police are now trading under the name of the Commonwealth Investigation Branch, and that that branch is earning in the various Departments all that it is costing the country.
– It was hatched out of the Warwick egg.
– If it is a chick hatched from the Warwick egg, all I have to say from the information at my disposal is that a miracle has occurred, because I am sure that the egg which struck Mr. Hughes had passed the hatching period.
– Did it strike him ?
– At this stage, it might be well to give the public a little historical information. When Mr. Hughes and his reporters returned to Sydney from the famous trip to Queensland, they went to the seventh floor of the Commonwealth Bank, where that now famous report of the Warwick incident was prepared. It fell to my lot on that occasion to learn who was in the bank building that night. Everyone who visits the building at a late hour must sign on, and when I entered the building that night I took so long to sign on thatI was able to learn the names of Mr. Hughes and the reporters who were with him at that moment. At any rate, as a result of the conference between the then Prime Minister and the Press reporters, the right honorable gentleman got all that limelight and notoriety which he so much desires and upon which he lives. Subsequently he brought into existence the Commonwealth Police Force to help him to hold his position, and now that he has been passed out, his police force has almost disappeared. All that remains of it is an Investigation Branch, comprising those very necessary secret service men, who are required in all departments to prevent private enterprise gentlemen, reared under our private enterprise system, from instituting attacks upon public funds, property or goods.
– The present Government do not want to stop looting by private enterprise. They are helping it.
– The honorable senator utters a truth, but one that will not stand close investigation. Looting within the law, it would seem, is all right, and, as private enterprise has made this composite Government, the Government are repaying private enterprise by handing money to it instead of allowing it to be stolen. We have had examples of this in the legislation introduced this session. I do not know that the intended hurrying away of Mr. Bruce has not underlying it the hope that they can get rid of the loot.
– “Drop the loot.”
– “Drop the . loot” was Dr. Earle Page’s classical reference to the actions of most of his present colleagues. At a rural conference he said that it was necessary for the policeman to turn on the electric torch and cause certain persons to drop the loot. I shall never forget the question asked in another place by Mr. Brennan, the member for Batman. He asked who was the person so lost to a sense of duty to his party as to “ drop the loot.” No one would own up to having done so. I know that at one time there was an idea that Dr. Earle Page should be compelled to withdraw his statement or drop out of Parliament, but as he showed some fight, evidently it was thought better to put him in the Government and drop Mr. Hughes. At any rate, now that certain gentlemen have come into control of “ the loot “, I do not know that they are not distributing it broadcast among their friends. This Appropriation Bill is being rushed through Parliament so that we may not have an opportunity to show where that loot is going. At least that must have been the intention of the Government when they adopted this new system of dealing with important legislation, by which the leader of the State or his Whip keeps on moving as we reach vote after vote, “ That the Committee do now divide.” That enabled the schedule to this Bill, by which the loot is handed out, to be passed in silence. We cannot discuss the Bill in detail. It is too great a mental and physical strain, after 31 hours’ of sitting, for senators to concentrate their minds on all the items in this Bill that look like looting. The Government is not going to be allowed to escape scot-free. There will be criticism before the Bill goes through. Attention will also be called on the public platforms of this country to their nefarious practices. There is an item in the Bill dealing with the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. In the State Parliament of New South Wales, about thirty years ago, I voted for the first Conciliation and Arbitration Bill passed in Australia. I well remember the attitude of capitalists at that time, and the fierceness of their objections. They met us with the question, “Are you going to take the business of the country out of the hands of the men who now control it? Are you going to let the wage-earners have a voice in managing industry?” We said -we intended to do nothing of the kind, hut would create a Court, presided over by an independent Judge, who would hold the balance fairly between the two sides. A man of the present generation cannot imagine the fierceness with which we were attacked for proposing a system which, it was said, would destroy the trade and commerce of this country in a very short space of time. What has been the result of thirty years of Conciliation and Arbitration ? If the only standard of success was the increase in profits of the business section of the community, success could be claimed on that ground alone. I could say to the capitalists, “Your dreaded fears of thirty years ago have vanished.” It is remarkable to find that thirty years after those crusted Tories have died, others have come on the scene. I see in Senator Elliott the identical type of the old Tory of thirty years ago. He has grown to manhood imbued with the ideas that then blossomed. I have heard the old Tories say that one must have brains to develop an industry, but the brains of all the industries in which I have ever worked belonged to the men who did the work. I want to convey to the younger members of the Senate an idea of the dread of the employing classes when conciliation and arbitration was talked of. thirty years ago. I was a member of the Shearers’ Union then, and there were disastrous fights between the pastoralists and the shearers from 1886 to 1894. It was not until a Government, supported by the Labour party, passed the first Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and an award was made by Mr. Justice O’Connor that peace was brought to the pastoral industry. A little while after that I went through the shearing sheds, and I saw the smile on the faces of the shearers when they called the toll of 89 sheep shorn, which they called “ O’Connor’s hundred.” During the period of peace in the industry the pastoralists ‘made large profits out of the wool on the sheep’s backs, and the men who sheared them. The harmony was recently disturbed by a desire on the part of the pastoralists to reduce the award rate, because they thought they had some one on the Bench who would be willing to grant their application. The pastoralists applied to the Arbitration Court to reduce the amount they would have to pay by one-twentieth of a penny per lb. of wool sheared. That fraction has been disastrous to them and to the workers. They estimated that they would sell their wool at ls. 3d. per lb. For some of the best, however, they got more than 2s. 3d., and for: much of it more than 2s. 9d. a lb. One of their pleas before the Court was that the price of wool could not be maintained at the war-time level. They got ready for the slump, and fought a valiant fight to save one-twentieth of a penny on every lib. of wool clipped from their sheep. At no time have the workers in any industry asked for more than a living wage. Honorable senators are aware of the diseases that are contracted by men as the result of shearing sheep when the wool is damp. There is a danger that the generation which is now coming along will not know of the struggles that have taken place to have the principle of arbitration established. The Single Purpose League is spending ah immense amount of money, and its one object is to secure a return to the old conditions. I well remember a State ‘ election in 1894, in connexion with which an anti-Labour candidate for the constituency adjoining my own, pasted up on all the trees, “ Vote for Green, and freedom of contract.” He was a squatter, and won the election because it was a squatting district. Arbitration was established, despite the opposition of the stalwarts who fought against it strenuously. There may be evils in the principle of arbitration. But weigh the benefits, against the defects, and the scale will go down heavily on the side of the benefits that have accrued. There has never been a time in the history of this Parliament when it was so necessary as it is now for us to be on the alert to prevent experiments being made with the system. Although the Government intends to vote the money to continue the system of conciliation and arbitration there may be sufficient influence behind the Single Purpose League to induce it to abolish the Arbitration Court.
– It will not appoint a sufficient number of Justices to enable the business of the Court to be handled expeditiously.
– Possibly it is thought that, by hanging up the .cases, the Labour organizations will become sickened with the delay and will advocate the abolition of the Court. I think there are as many good as there are bad employers; but one unsatisfactory employer can cause the ill-feeling which leads to strikes. I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate to see that the unions are given the opportunity of having their business dealt with expeditiously and at the least possible cost, even if it necessitates the appointment of half a dozen additional justices. I realize that it is very difficult to obtain the services of first-class men. In Mr. Justice O’Connor and Mr. Justice Higgins we had men who applied themselves closely to the question of arbitration. They brought a sound, logical mind to bear on every matter that came before them and always kept themselves free from any suspicion of partisanship. Their names will be honoured long after ours are forgotten.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) put -
That the Senate do now divide
The Senate divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 9 p.m.
The following additional papers were presented : -
Letter from the late Prime Minister of Australia (The Eight Honorable W:. M. Hughes, P.O., M.P.) to The Right Honorable V. S. Srinivasa Sastri, P.C., on subjects connected with the visit of Mr. Sastri to the Commonwealth.
New Guinea - Ordinance No. 30 of 1923 - Supply (No. 2) 1923-24.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator,&c. -
No. 14 of 1923- Australian Telegraphists’ Union.
No. 15 of 1923 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 16 of 1923- Postal Sorters’ Union of Australia.
No. 17 of 1923 - Australian Letter Carriers’ Association.
No. 18 of 1923- Australian Letter Carriers’ Association.
No. 19 of 1923- Commonwealth Postmasters’ Association.
No. 20 of 1923- Australian Telegraphists’ Union.
No. 21 of 1923- Australian Postal Assistants’ Union.
No. 22 of 1923- Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association.
No. 23 of 1923- Australian Letter Carriers’ Association.
No. 24 of 1923-Commonwealth General Division Telephone Officers’ Association.
No. 25 of 1923- Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 26 of 1923- Australian Postal Assistants’ Union.
No. 27 of 1923-Australian Telegraphists’ Union.
No. 28 of 1923- Commonwealth Telegraph Traffic and Supervisory Officers’ Association.
No. 29 of 1923 - Commonwealth Postmasters’ Association and Australian Postal Assistants’ Union.
No. 30 of 1923 - General Division Officers’ Union of the Trade and Customs Department.
No. 31 of 1923 - Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.
No. 32 of 1923 - Postmaster-General’s Department, State Heads of Branches Association.
No. 33 of 1923 - Commonwealth General Division Telephone Officers’ Association.
No. 34 of 1923- Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association.
No. 35 of 1923 - (Public Service Artisans’ Association.
No. 30 of 1923 - Commonwealth Legal Professional Officers’ Association.
No. 37 of 1923 - Commonwealth Storemen and Packers’ Union of Australia.
Bill received from House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
– I see no reason why an attempt should be made to rush this Bill through the Senate. It is one of the most contentious measures with which the Government desire us to deal. After a continuous sitting of thirty-four hours’ duration, it is unreasonable to submit motion after motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders. Could not the Bill be debated on the first reading?
– No; because it does not im-. pose taxation.
-I am prepared to debate it at every stage. It is asking too much of honorable senators to expect them to rush Bills through in this way.
Motion (by Senator DrakeBrockman) put -
That the Senate do now divide.
The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) put -
That the Bill be read a first time.
The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Bill received from House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
– I again rise to enter my protest against this method of conducting business. One can expect such conduct from gentlemen who have been enjoying themselves, but we should not anticipate such procedure as this when dealing with money Bills in a deliberative Assembly. I informed the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) on the 2Sth June that the suspension of the Standing Orders would not be as easy a matter as it had been for some considerable time past. I warned the Minister a few days ago that it would be better if the Government intended to dispose of the safeguards which the Standing Orders provide for the proper conduct of business, to be sufficiently honest to alter or repeal those which interfered with the hurried passage of Bills through this Chamber. Satisfied as the Minister is with the servility of his followers, he cannot expect the Senate to go beyond the bounds of common decency in transacting public business. The Minister’s hope lies in the fact that he has the numbers behind him, and because the Government has a majority it is depriving the minority in this House of its right to discuss money Bills. I know I would not be in order in referring to a Bill previously introduced, but it is one to hand out money to the supporters of the Government who assisted to place them in Parliament. The Government must allow a statement of its actions to be recorded in Hansard, and as the people outside find out what it is doing the position will soon alter. The Government realizes that the press of Australia is with it, and that nothing will filter through the columns of the daily press, and thus reach the ears of the people to show the way in which measures are being passed through this Chamber. Millions of pounds are being voted by men who are in an unfit condition to manage - their own affairs, quite apart from managing the business of the country. I do not wish to be misunderstood. Honorable senators should not be subjected . to the continual strain of sitting for over thirtysix hours. This morning we were allowed less than half-an-hour for breakfast after sitting here all night, but the Government supporters this evening were able to attend a dinner which occupied over two hours. Hours passed yesterday, and some of the people of Australia might as well have been represented by so many blocks of wood as by the supporters of the Government in this Chamber. The Minister who is in charge of the Senate ultimately realized that their position was becoming shameful, and spurred one or two of his supporters to say something, so that their speeches would be recorded in Hansard. It would be gratifying to see the Senate return and exercise its proper functions for about half-an-hour. I had hoped that the Senate had passed through its worst stages, but when I find honorable senators adjourning for dinner, and then returning to support the suspension of the Standing Orders, I am amazed. To show their strength, I suppose, to some of their friends in the gallery, to prove what mighty men and wise legislators they are, they adopt this course. The procedure we usually follow has been in force in Great Britain for centuries, and has also been the practice in this Senate for over twenty years. During this sitting there has been a shameful disregard of all those rules of procedure which safeguard the liberties of the people. An opportunity should be taken to convey to the people outside some idea of the intelligent way in which business is being transacted ! This intelligent majority may be intrusted with, perhaps, a little authority for a brief period only, because no matter how lightly honorable senators opposite may take their responsibilities, the future has to be considered. No matter how they degrade Parliament, this is still a House of Parliament. This is the Senate which was brought into existence by the framers of the Constitution, who came from all parts of the Commonwealth to bring into existence a constitutional machine for conducting business. You, gentlemen-
– The honorable gentleman must address the Chair.
– I must address the Chair. You, too, have been to the dinner. I will address you, sir, with pleasure, because your beaming face shows how well you have been enjoying yourself. The idea of hurrying through the business so that one might see a presiding officer arrayed like Solomon in all his glory-
– All this has nothing to do with the motion.
– I think it has.
– I say it has not, and I direct the honorable senator not to continue speaking in that way.
– With all due respect to you, sir, if you have attended a Caucus meeting, and are obeying a decision of the Caucus-
– The honorable senator is not in order in reflecting on the Chair.
– I realize that 350,000 people sent me here to legislate for them, whereas a few people in Queensland sent you here, and eleven honorable senators put you in the presidential chair.
– Order ! I direct the honorable senator to resume his seat. The honorable senator is indulging in irrelevancy, although I have warned him not to do so.
– I direct the honorable senator to resume his seat.
– That may be so, but-
– I direct the honorable senator to resume his seat.
– I am exercising my right to address myself to the Senate.
– I name Senator Gardiner for continued disobedience of the Chair.
– You have the power to put me out, and I invite you to do so.
– In accordance with the Standing Orders-
– Order ! Before the Leader of the Senate submits the motion which he was about to move, and which must be put without debate, I wish to afford Senator Gardiner an opportunity, which I hope he will take, to put himself right with the Senate.
– I realize your task is a most difficult one, and that these extended sittings impose a great strain on you, so that if any apology is necessary, I am prepared to make it.
– The honorable member must apologize for having disobeyed the ruling of the Chair.
– I do so, and I hope in such a way that you will not take offence. I am inclined to think that perhaps it would be as well to let Senator Pearce conduct the business without Standing Orders. I have great respect for the dignity of this Senate, but I am quite willing to sacrifice my rights as an elected representative of the people, because I see now why Senator Pearce is so anxious to suspend the Standing Orders. It seems to me that there is no such thing as order, and that the conduct of the business of the Senate in the way provided by the Standing Orders is just a mere, myth, because at the will of the majority every safeguard provided for freedom of speech and opportunity for debate can be set aside. I shall appeal to a higher court against this attempt to conduct business without law, order, or regulation.
– Or decency.
– Or dignity.
– At all events the honorable senator has not observed dignity.
SenatorGARDINER.- I know that Senator Drake-Brockman, upon whom the Order of the “ Gag “ has been conferred, is a gallant soldier, but his victories on the battlefield were nothing compared with those he has gained during the last thirtysix hours. His reckless daring and his determination to be the chief figure in all scenes are such that I am not surprised at his having won distinction on the field of battle. Despite his heroic figure, he rises like an automaton every time Senator Pearce pulls the wires, and tells him to move, “ That the Senate do now divide.” He cuts a figure that I have not seen on any other occasion during the thirteen years I have been in this Parliament. Some men come here who really believe themselves to be altogether above the ordinary dignity one would expect from a member of the Senate. The honorable senator has given very good reasons during this debate why the Standing Orders should not be suspended. Time after time when the representatives of the people wanted to voice grievances before granting Supply, in accordance with a right that comes down to us from time immemorial, the honorable senator grossly attempted to prevent the remedying of those grievances. In no previous Parliament to my knowledge has there been such a gross attempt to do so, and we are now asked to permit these indecencies to continue by suspending any Standing Orders that may interfere with the fitful will of a petty tyrant who is sitting on the Government benches. Because Senator Pearce is in control of a small army of eighteen or twenty senators who will do his bidding, a servile body who have no respect for the traditions of Parliament, no respect for a deliberative assembly, and who only seem to realize-
– Do not overdo it!
– It is not possible to do so. A caricaturist of the capacity of a Hopkins could not overdo Senator Lynch. He is such an extraordinary character that I feel sure I would be incapable of getting even near to a caricature of him.
– Cannot the honorable senator speak without being personally offensive?
– Nothing could be so indecently offensive as has been the behaviour of Senator Crawford to the party on this side of the Senate during the last thirty-six hours.
– The Standing Orders forbid any honorable senator speaking offensively. I shall protect the honorable senator against any offensive remarks.
– If Senator Crawford says that I have been offensive in my remarks, I am willing to withdraw them, because I am only too anxious to retain the slender grounds upon which I have the right to address the Senate. At the same time, I am equally anxious to re ply to irrelevant interjections from a caucus-ridden party that have no right to be made, and to statements made by a Minister of the Crown that likewise have no right to be made.
– I shall protect the honorable senator, if such interjections are made.
– I shall be pleased if you will do so, although there are occasions on which I can protect myself.
– That proves nothing.
– Order ! Senator Gardiner must be heard in silence.
– I thank you, Mr. President, and trust that you will protect me. I have been drawn off the track by these interjections. I do not think that I shall occupy even the time the Standing Orders allow to me in protesting against their suspension, because, although we could put up a fight for an hour or two, or perhaps for a number of hours, the final decision rests with the majority who have found their way into this Senate by the will of a majority of the people in the States they represent. I hope that I shall not be unnecessarily offensive to them. If I have, at times, been unduly strong in my expressions of opinion, I hope that they will realize that they have kept me in this Chamber continuously for thirty-six hours, which fact one might offer as a reasonable excuse for an occasional loss of temper. The Standing Orders of this Senate are to be suspended because Senator Wilson and the Prime Minister have booked their passages and are taking a trip to Great Britain as Australia’s representatives. On Friday last, Senator Pearce congratulated the Opposition on the manner in which we had permitted the Government to conduct their business, and, had he followed the course he previously pursued, there would have been no occasion for the suspension of Standing Orders, or, if such occasion had arisen, there would have been no protest, and the whole of the business of the Senate would have been concluded by to-morrow afternoon. One can easily misconstrue what is in the mind of an opponent. I realize that in party fighting we sometimes get on wrong grounds in imputing motives to opponents. I am always careful before I impute to Senator Pearce any unreasonable motive. I have been wondering all through the long hours of this sitting what has induced him to break the harmony that existed until last evening. We have met every demand for legislation in a way that was never shown by any previous Opposition. We submitted amendments hurriedly, although they had actually been submitted to us in type by constituents who asked us to move them, and notwithstanding that, if we had taken sufficient time to do so, we might have impressed on the majority the necessity for giving effect to them. Despite that fact, Senator Pearce has set out, deliberately, to walk over the Opposition, and we should be more than human .if we permitted him to do so. What is the reason for what the Government have done? Do they hope to gain some party advantage by exhibiting to the public, through a false press that only puts one side of the question, the fact that they are trampling upon the Opposition ? If so, I remind him that history has a very nasty method of repeating itself. In some subsequent session in this Parliament the majority that is now here may have dwindled to a small minority, and when that time conies, if I am spared to be a member of this Senate, I hope that I shall still have in my breast a sense of the rights of minorities. If I had to resort to the suspension of the Standing Orders, I should not do it with the levity displayed by Senator Pearce during the last thirty-six hours. I hope honorable senators on the other side will live to see that change. They will then become the minority, and the Labour party will wield the authority that honorable senators opposite misuse at the present moment. I believe they will yet live to see that we can set an example, and that, although we have a giant’s strength, we shall use it as was intended by the framers of the Constitution. A majority should refrain from trampling on the rights of a minority, particularly when money Bills are going through Parliament. It was foolish trampling on the rights of the people by tyrants who were much stronger than the Nationalist party which gave us, as a British people, the liberties we now enjoy. Men imagined that because they held high positions and temporary power, that power would continue with them for all time. They trespassed against what was right and just, and they, paid the penalty. The Nationalist party will also pay the penalty, although I hope it will not “be such a drastic penalty as that suffered by the tyrants of old. The suspension of the Standing Orders will be heard of later by outraged electors, who value liberty more than a trip to Great Britain. While the Nationalists are doing these things, there is a quick mind-to-mind telepathy which enables one to realize that they are not to be trusted with the custody of the liberties of a free people. I sometimes wonder whether I am wasting my strength in trying to show them the error of their ways. They are like the herd mentioned in Scripture which went down a steep place. They are making for that steep place very rapidly. They will not reach the brink of the precipice just yet. There will be the interval of a recess, and they will probably be able to do for another session what they are now doing. But periods of time that look distant approach with remarkable rapidity. The electors expected when they sent them here that they would protect and guard the liberties of the people. When they attack liberties which the British people have won, they sometimes imagine that the multitude outside is not alert to what is happening. I warn them that the people outside are keenly alive to what they are doing. Senator Pearce, who has survived in office ever since he came into this Parliament, and who holds the chief place in this Senate as Leader of the Government, attained to Ministerial office nearly twenty years ago by a magnificent piece of intrigue.
– That has nothing to do with the question before the Chair.
– When Senator Pearce submitted this motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders, I thought that if I stated what his record was, and stated it without offence, honorable senators would be able to judge whether they would be justified in following him. If you rule, Mr. President, that I can only deal with the motion, and not with the honorable senator who submitted it, I bow to your ruling. Having quietly, and, I hope, inoffensively endeavoured to depict to honorable senators opposite the direction these acts of tyranny are taking, I now leave the matter. I can do nothing more than plead with them in the most earnest and most forcible language at my command, to desist from trampling on the rights of a minority. The Opposition is powerless when Ministerialists have sat in Caucus and decided to remain silent while millions of pounds are voted and important legislation passed. To enable honorable senators to attend a dinner the Government allowed the Senate to adjourn for a period of time which it would not allow for breakfast after an all-night sitting.
Motion (by Senator DrakeBrockman) put -
That the Senate do now divide.
The Senate divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay - put.
The Senate divided.
Majority … … 8
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) put -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
The Senate divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
.- I move-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Clause 2 of the Bill authorizes the Treasurer to borrow the amount of £4,500,000. The total of the expenditure set out in the Schedule to the Bill is £19,024,874. There is, however, authority under previous Loan Acts to borrow £15,756,865, and by taking additional loan raising authority of £4,500,000, it is thought that a sufficient margin will be available to cover expenses of borrowing, including possible discounts on the flotation ofloans.
The total of the estimit edexpenditure, as shown in the Estimates recently submitted to Parliament, was£18,945,622. The difference between these two totals, namely, £79,252, represents the amount which it is estimated will remain unexpended at the close of the year out of the provision for Post Office buildings. As loan appropriations do not lapse at the close of the year, it is necessary to ask Parliament to appropriate the full amount required, notwithstanding that it is expected that £79,252 will not be expended at the 30th June next. “When dealing with the loan proposals of 1923-24 in my recent statement, I gave to the Senate an explanation of the chief items of expenditure. It is not necessary, therefore, to repeat this information at this stage. Full explanations are, however, available of the whole of the provisions of the Bill, and will be furnished, if so desired, when the items of the Bill are under the consideration of the Committee.
Clause 4 appropriates the amount of £6,126,404. This amount is made up as follows : -
Of the total expenditure of £19,024,874, £9,000,000 willbe recovered from the States for loans for immigration and soldier land settlement; and £3,000,000 from soldiers in respect of War Service Homes. In addition, a portion of the amount of £500,000 for immigration passage money will be recovered. The balance of the expenditure to be borne permanently by the Commonwealth is be- ‘ tween £6,500,000 and £7,000,000. This will be subject to an annual contribution of 10s. per cent. per annum to the National Debt Sinking Fund. Generally speaking, it may be said that the expenditure will result in the creation of a revenue-earning asset, which will earn sufficient to cover interest and sinking fund contributions; or in the creation of a permanent asset which will outlive the period covered by the sinking fund contributions for the redemption of the loan. This is a Bill which, because of the nature of its items, can more conveniently be discussed in Committee, when each item can be discussed separately. I ask leave to continue my remarks on the next day of sitting.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
conduct of Customs Officials, Brisbane.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I am surprised that Senator Pearce should desire to adjourn when the Senate has been sitting for only thirty-seven and a half hours. I congratulate him on the manner in which he has conducted the business during the last half -hour.
– Iam prepared to go on until to-morrow morning. I want to know whether I will be able to leave Melbourne to-morrow night, on Saturday, or on Monday. I challenge the Government to proceed with its business.
SenatorGRANT (New South Wales) [10.29] . - I wish to bring under the notice of the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs the contents of an urgent wire which I have just received from Matthews and Company Limited in regard to the conduct of some Customs officials at Brisbane. It reads -
Brisbane Customs Department are demanding about £18 per ton duty, instead of £10, as fixed by Parliament on Canadian Kraft bag paper; their excuse being some preposterous story of dumping. Beckoning on £10 duty landed coat is higher than Australian-made Kraft. Our new paper bag factory just started in Brisbane will be crippled. Please secure from Minister for Customs, to-day,withdrawal by Brisbane Customs Department of their outrageous demands.
This matter has evidently arisen suddenly.
– I call attention to the want of a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– The contents of the telegram I have read should be brought under the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.35 p.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 August 1923, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1923/19230822_senate_9_105/>.