9th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) if it is a fact that the Government have decided to build abroad one of the two 10,000-ton cruisers which they contemplate constructing.
– As I understand that the bill dealing with this matter, which is now before another place, will be before the Senate shortly, I would suggest that the honorable senator wait until that measure is before this chamber, when the intentions of the Government will be known and the whole matter will be open for discussion.
The following papers were presented : -
Audit Act - Transfers of amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council - Financial Year 1923-24-Dated. 25th June, 1924.
Lands Acquisition Act - Notification of land acquired for Postal purposes at Coff’s Harbor, New South Wales.
Assent to the following Bills reported : -
Supply Bill (No. 1) 1924-25.
Main Roads Development Bill.
National Debt Sinking Fund Bill.
Vacancy in the Representation of Victoria.
-I have to inform the Senate that on Monday, the 30th June, I received a formal certificate of the death, on the 2lst June, 1924, of Senator Stephen Barker, and that in accordance with the provisions of section 21 of the Constitution I have notified the Governor of the State of Victoria that a vacancy has happened in the representation of that state in the Senate.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Commonwealth Shipping Board was communicated with by wire regarding the points raised by the honorable senator. A reply has not yet been received, and a further telegram requesting early advice was despatched to-day. I hope to be in a position to inform the honorable senator more fully at an early date.
Debate resumed from 27th June(vide page 1699), on motion by Senator Crawford -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– In view of the provisions of this bill it would appear that we are to have a continuation of the agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. I do not altogether agree with the policy of the Government of linking up its fortunes or misfortunes with those of outside companies. The Anglo-Persian Oil Company is an enormously wealthy concern, and the Commonwealth of Australia Unlimited is also fairly strongfinancially, but I do not think that the Government can afford, not only in regard to agreements of this nature, but in connexion with any others, to link up its reputation with companies. Personally, I think that all agreements with companies are distasteful and objectionable, and it is not the function of the Australian National Parliament to meddle in such matters. I would much prefer to see the Government make a determined effort in the direction of oil development by paying a substantial reward to those who discover oil in payable quantities. I would not even limit the payment to the first discovery, but favour the payment of rewards to persons who discovered oil in- different parts of Australia. The Government could very well1 give handsome rewards because, in view of the way in which oil is being used and is likely to be used. there is no direction in which encouragement is more desirable.
– A reward has already been offered.
– I’ realize that; but we can go much further. It should be the policy of the Government to organize experts to direct’ the operations of prospectors all over the Commonwealth. If a few thousand of the unemployed, particularly those with a knowledge of mining, were scattered’ all over Australia to search for oil in those parts where expert authorities1 believe there is a possibility of supplies being found in payable quantities, much good might result. In Tamworth, Mew- South Wales, I have seen samples of very excellent oil. In some instances where the indications seem favorable the reports of experts appear to be most discouraging. It may be that a layman- is- not competent to determine’, either by the appearance or by the smell,, whether what he has discovered is oil, and’ that consequently it is only reasonable to expect discouraging report’s concerning’ discoveries made by prospectors who have very little knowledge of the .subject. It may be that Australia has no’ really profitable oil-bearing strata, although, on- the word! of Queensland Ministers, which I accept, there have- been; most promising, developments in their State. This agreement with the Anglo-Persian’ Oil Company is not a farm of business in which the Australian Government, should participate, but it is one out of which it may be most- difficult to emerge. It may, perhaps,, be profitable for the Commonwealth to remain in it. I cannot claim that the directors- of this oil company do not know how to manage their business, because if I did put forward such a claim the figures of their successfuloperations would easily prove that they know how to manage their affairs to somepurpose and profit. After deducting administrative expenses, debenture interest, royalties, and depreciation, they have shown during the undermentioned years, ending the 31st March,, the following- results.: - 1913, no trading account available;. 191:4r £26,711 loss?;. 1915,, £90,431 profit; 1910, £85.708 profit; 1917,. £344,050 profit; 1918, £l,308..5o8 profit;. 1919, £2;.010,805 profit;, 1920, £2,611,165 profit.
I can imagine many people saying that surely the directors of smh a company are the very type of business men we want to help to run .”‘Australia Unlimited.” Strange as it may seem, I do not hold that view. I think, that the interests of these’ people in world oil- are too great to permit them to participate in the development of. oil in Australia. The time is certainly ripe for a> more active policy in regard to the possible development of oil in Australia. 1 know that something has been don& in. recent years-,, and that, a little Commawealth money has been spent. in Papua and New Guinea, with very meagre results; but in the early stages of oil development there are always many disappointments.,, and the’ hopes, of those who believe that oil- will be discovered’ w Australia may eventually be fulfilled. I shall have very little to say about the oil agreement itself, because the figures I have read’ indicate that a big corporation like the> AngloPersian Oil Company must have some purpose to serve by linking itself in an. agreement with the Australian Government- I may be accused of entertaining unwise suspicions against big corporations.. I admit freely and. candidly that I am always afraid that when they are proposing something to help the Commonwealth they generally anticipate hel’ping. themselves to something.
– The Commonwealth holds- the majority of the shares’ in the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited.
– We may hold a majority of the shares, but. because of their experience m profit making the AngloPersian Oil Company may hold’ the position of advisers and controllers, and so be able to see that any development in oil in Australia suits their own interests and not. those of the Commonwealth. That is,, at any rate, apossibility. I would rather have the development of oil in Australia absolutely free- from the possibility of interference on the part of any of the1 established oil companies,, and,, to my mind, our agreement with the Anglo-Persian Oil Com- pany will not lend, itself to that end. I would give these people every encouragement to pursue* the search for oil in Australia, but I would not bind the Commonwealth to take 250,001 shares in a company in which the Anglo-Persian Oil Company holds 249,996 shares and the nominees of the oil company three shares between them. It is a very small majority of shares.
– It must be remembered that the British Government have the majority of the voting power in the parent company.
– In a matter of this kind a Government cannot be as well equipped as is a company with all its officers and everything else necessary for managing a concern of such magnitude.. Therefore, although it may not have an actual majority of shares, the company will always have the “ pull,” because it will have all the expert advice on its side.
– Half the profit of the refining company must be paid to the Commonwealth Government.
– That is quite true.
– It would be of little use to discover oil in Australia if it could not be refined here.
– The agreement provides -
The Refinery Company shall forthwith, after registration’, erect, equip, and operate in Australia a modem refinery.
The company will, until the refinery is in operation, use its best endeavours to secure adequate supplies of oil products to Australia at reasonable prices.
The Commonwealth shall supply to the Refinery Company indigenous oil for refining up to 200.000 tons per annum as it becomes available to the Commonwealth.
I realize that the company may be equipping an up-to-date refinery.
– The refinery is now in operation.
– Tie other day when travelling between Melbourne and Geelong, I saw huge tanks, on which, in big letters, the company announced what it was doing. It seemed to me to be more like advertising a circus than developing a refinery. Such obvious advertising increased my suspicion that there was something behind it all.
– Every oil refinery must have huge tanks.
– With huge letters on them announcing to the general public that the company is doing something ? It may be on my part the suspicion which is due to ignorance, but I look upon everything in connexion with oil development in Australia with great suspicion. Suspicion is bred in the minds of those who realize that wealthy companies in other parts of the world will benefit by the prevention of oil development in Australia, and their profits will be greater so long as they can retard that development. The profits of a company, which can afford to incur expense merely to display big oil tanks outside Melbourne, are so huge that it can prevent the real development of Australia’s oil resources. Oil may be discovered in Papua in payable quantities. There are high hopes that discoveries will be made in Queensland. If those hopes are fulfilled, Australia will be fortunate in having in power, in Queensland, a Labour Government that will protect the interests of the public. If oil is discovered in Queensland, particularly in the Roma district, there is no limit to the possibilities of development, because it will extend right across to the western coast of Australia. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) has informed me that there are excellent prospects of discovering oil in the Territory. I understand that an officer has been sent there to make an inspection and to furnish a report. I view with very grave suspicion the proposal that the Commonwealth shall enter into an agreement with * wealthy company for the development of oil. Maybe this company possesses correct estimates of the future possibilities in regard to oil discoveries in Australia, and is taking an early’ opportunity to arrive at an agreement that will be most suitable to it, and most profitable to its shareholders. I am not in a position to Say that that is so. I merely discuss the measure- from the point of view of one who feels inclined to await developments. But, at the same time, I protest against the Commonwealth entering into contracts .with any company for carrying on developmental work of this kind. If such work is to be done, the Commonwealth is big enough, it is strong enough, it is wealthy enough to do it. If there are opportunities for development by companies, the Government has the power not only to allow those companies to avail themselves of those opportunities, but to’ ,encourage them in their development. No one would take exception to encouragement being given to any company, the efforts of which might lead to the discovery of oil in payable quantities for the use of the people of Australia. There I Heave the matter. Possibly, I may have some further remarks to make in committee.
– I support the bill, but I should like to see some provision made whereby, if the Government thought fit, in the future, it could increase the share capital very greatly, and continue to hold the controlling influence.
– The Commonwealth can take over the whole of the business at the end of fifteen years.
– I am glad to hear it. I rose merely to refer to the precarious position in which Australia is placed through having to depend upon external sources for oil - one of the foremost necessities of our industrial life. Those external sources are controlled, as Senator Gardiner has well said, by two or three combines with world-wide ramifications. The Anglo-Persian Oil Company, with which it is proposed to enter into an agreement^ is setting itself in opposition to those huge concerns. It is worth while recalling what, is the financial strength of those other companies, and the profits that they have been making. One concern against which the Anglo-Persian Oil Company proposes to do battle is so powerfully entrenched that it seems almost hopeless for us, with the small capital of £250,000, to set ourselves up against it. I refer particularly to the Dutch company, which is operating in the islands north of Australia, and in other parts of the world. I have here some figures which indicate the strength of that company, and show what its profits have been up to date. I quote from the West Australian, which has taken the figures from a paper that represents the automobile interests in the United Kingdom. The Shell Transport Company, which is known as the Dutch Company, in 1915 had a capital of £6,000,000, and its profits for that year were £1,600,000. It declared a dividend of 35 per cent., and carried to reserves the sum of £400,000. In subsequent years its capi tal was further increased until in 1922 it had reached a total of £26,000,000. What I wish to direct the attention of honorable senators to is the folly, if not the hopelessness of the Commonwea.lth Government, in conjunction with any company with a capital of less than £1,000,000, setting up in opposition to a concern which has a capital of £26,000,000.
– The honorable senator overlooks the fact that the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, the parent body, is behind this subsidiary Australian company, and that it possesses a very large capital.
– I understand that it has a large capital, but it is handicapped in that it has only Persia upon which to draw for its supplies; whereas the Shell Transport Company and the Standard Oil Company have the wide world upon which to draw. My complaint is that, if we are in earnest in supporting this company in its search for oil and in its endeavour to make the other two combines do their duty as it should be done, the investment of only £250,000 on behalf of the Commonwealth is only playing with the matter.
– The capital of this subsidiary company formed in Australia is £750,000.
– The business of this company is merely to refine and distribute oil, not to prospect for oil.
– I understand that the Commonwealth is putting its money into a subsidiary company of the AngloPersian Oil Company.
– The Commonwealth has already put £250,000 into the company.
– I am quite aware that the original capital of the company was £500,000, and that a controlling interest was placed in the hands of the Commonwealth. It is now proposed to advance a further £250,000, and to still retain that controlling interest. The capital of this subsidiary company is, therefore; only £750,000.
– That is right.
– As compared with a concern which has a capital of £26,000,000.
– It cannot be compared’ with a concern with a capital ‘ of £26,000,000. This is only a refining and distributing company.
– So also is the Shell Transport Company.
– Has not this company the power to prospect for oil in Australia if it so wishes ?
– No, its business is only to refine and distribute.
– Is it not correct to say that part of the duty of this company will be to prospect and search for oil in the Commonwealth?
– Will it not have the right to do so? I should like to have a declaration from the Minister on that point.
– What is to stop the company from doing it?
– Has it no right to prospect for oil in Australia?
– The company is under no obligation to do so.
– I take it then that this is a subsidiary company of one of the three great oil companies, that it will be dependent for its raw material upon one of them, and that it is to have no right to prospect within the Commonwealth. I say at once that this limits to an unwarranted degree oil prospecting in the Commonwealth, and should not be permitted, especially in view of the fact that we are paying for petrol three times the price that is paid in the United States of America. Immense fortunes are being made by these combines. According to its report, the Standard Oil Company, within the last fifteen years, has made a profit of something like $5500,000,000. Taking into consideration the huge financial strength of the two combines against which this fledgling, so to speak, will have to contend, I ask once again what hope is there of its success t It certainly may attempt to do something, but it is idle to suppose that it can do any effective work against the two powerful concerns which, with huge capital, are entrenched throughout the world. I support the bill, at the same time, in conjunction with the Leader of the Opposition, directing attention to the necessity for encouraging prospecting for oil in Australia. Such a discovery would re lieve Australia of a heavy burden. Until oil is discovered here in payable quantities, we shall continue to be at a great disadvantage respecting motor transport, and shall certainly fall behind in the race to establish ourselves as a great producing country. If the Government sees the necessity to come to Australia’s ‘ rescue in the matter of oil prospecting, with even more money than is now asked for, it will have my support, because I believe that we cannot successfully and effectively compete against the two strongly entrenched combines unless we have sufficient money behind us. I support the bill in the belief that it will do some good.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Authority to borrow moneys to gay Commonwealth’s share of increased capital). <
.- I ask the Minister what is the necessity for authorizing the borrowing of money to pay the Commonwealth’s share of increased capital, especially as the revenue is so buoyant, and we have for the financial year , just closed a surplus approximating practically £11,000,000. I am against borrowing altogether unless it is for some work that in the near or distant future will pay interest upon the capital expended. It is wrong, and unfair and unjust to the. taxpayers .of this country to borrow money to bolster up this company.
– The honorable senator knows that it is quite unusual to apply revenue to a purpose such as that proposed in this bill. In any case, it would not be a legitimate charge upon revenue. A great deal of our accumulated surplus has already been allocated to purposes, approved of by Parliament. There is no attempt on the part of the Government to bolster up the company. The bill only provides the additional capital required to carry on the business of distributing the refined products, which the company is turning out at its works.
Clause agreed to.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment: report adopted.
In committee (Consideration resumed from 20th June, videpage 1499) :
Clause 13 (as amended) -
Theappointment of all permanent officers required for the purposes of this Act shall be made under and in accordancewith the provisions of the Public Service Act 1922.
Uponwhich Senator Pearce had moved by way of amendment -
That the following new sub-clausebe added - (2) The Chairman of the Commission shall have all the powers of a permanent head under the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1922, in relation to permanent officers employed for the purposes of this Act.
– I wish to know exactly what this new sub-clause means. I admitthat the language is clear, but it is proposed togive to the chairman of the commission, who may not be a member of the Public Service, all the powers that are to-day vested in a permanent member of the service. I think this is a new departure. If it is Ishould like the Minister to say so. No other man,so far as I am aware, is clothed with such powers as it is proposed to give to the chairman of the commission. ‘The othermembers of the commission may ‘be mere ciphers, so that the chairman -will be the only man wholly responsible to the people of Australia for the work done at Canberra. He will have authority to suspend an officer. Actually he will be in the position of a Czar in the Federal Territory, and if there is anything that the Labour party is opposed to, it is despotism in any shape or form. Up to the present the Minister has advanced no reason why the chairman of the commission should be vested with such powers as are proposed. In all probability he will not be drawn from the Public Service. If so, I can understand the feelings of officers trained over a long period of years in a certain atmosphere, when suddenly they find themselves up against a new “ boss “ who, lacking experience of the Public Service, may think it about time that a change came over the scene.
– He might be drawn from the Public Service after all.
– He might, but if there is anything in current rumours, the chairman of the commission has already been selected. Of course I do not take notice of all suchrumours, but J know that many supportersof thisGovernment are very anxious to getthe position. Many of them at the present timeare out of jobs, andprobablythere will be many more in the same unhappy position after the next elections.
– And there will be no chance for them then?
– Not much. We shall want good service fromgood men. For the reasons I have stated, I intend to vote against the amendment. I want reasons advanced to convince me that there is no other course. As amatter of fact, there are other courses open. Earlier in the debate, I pointedout that thebill was super fluous in that a commissi on was unnecessary, andthatif wehad not a commissionwe would not need a chairman, but would input thewhole business on a different footing altogether. Iam satisfied that if thechairman is to be vested with the powersproposed, it willi notbe in the best interests of the Territory or of the Public Service.
– Iam wondering if the honorable senator’s criticism of the proposed new sub-clause is due to the fact that he is opposed to the appointment of a commission altogether. I have explained why this amendment is necessary. If the commission is tobe a success, it must be vested with authority giving it fairly untrammelled control of the officers who are to carry out its policy. If this provision is not inserted the officers in the Federal Territory will be under the control of the permanent head of the Home and Territories Department. He is an excellent officer, and one of the finest types of public servants in the Commonwealth; but as responsibility for carrying out the work at Canberra will restupon the commission, it is essential that the chairman shall be the head of all public servants in the Federal Capital. They should look to him for their instructions. Otherwise the chairman of the commission might direct that certain work be done, and the officers - if they were not- responsible to him, but to the Secretary of the Home and Territories Department - might feel disposed to ascertain if the latter approved of the instructions. Mr. McLaren is too well trained a public servant to allow that kind of thing to be done, but it is conceivable that, in the course of time, we might have as permanent head of the Home and Territories Department an officer with a disposition to interfere with the commission and its work. It is clear that if the commission has not control of its staff, it cannot be held responsible for the carrying out of the work. The bill has passed its second reading, and the clause which constitutes the commission has been agreed to. We may therefore assume that the Senate is in favour of the appointment of the commission. This being so, it is logical that the chairman should have control of its staff. That is what this clause proposes to do. If is absolutely necessary, for the efficient working of .the staff, that the chairman should have’ the powers proposed to be vested in him. Senator Findley indulged in all sorts of dismal prophecies as to the way in which the chairman might use his powers. If he were such a fool as to misuse his authority, clearly he would not be fit for Ms position1, and he- would probably be equally foolish’ even if he were a permanent head in any other department… We must assume, of course, that he will use his powers- wisely, if he wants to get the best results from the 40 or 50 public servants who .will be under his direction. The Government can be trusted, to select a man. who will exercise his authority with discretion. I ask the committee to pass the amendment.
– Is the chairman of the commission to have absolute- control over all public servants in the Territory?.
– No; only over those who are on his staff. He will not have absolute control’, but similar authority to that of any permanent head working under the Public Service Act.
– But departmental heads’ may be in the service of the commission.
– That is not so-.
– It is quite- possible that two or three” Government departments may be involved’ in connexion with the work to be* carried out by the commission, as’ the- operations now proceeding are under the1 control of the Horn© and. Territories Department and the Department of. Works and Railways. When the commission has been, appointed, it- is1 reasonable to> assume that certain officers- now employed, by these, two de partments will come under the control of the commission. Surely the Minister does not suggest- that certain departmental heads at present engaged there will not be transferred to the control of the commission.
– Mr. McLaren, of the Home and Territories Department, and Mr. Bingle, of the Department of Works and Railways will not come under the commission.
– No, but others may.
– It is possible that certain subsidiary officers may.
– There is nothing in the bill to prevent the commission taking over a departmental head.
– A head of a department will not be placed under the commission.
– Supposing the chairman of the commission said, that in order that the work might be done in a manner satisfactory to the commission and the taxpayers, a certain officer holding an important position should be taken over by the commission.
– That could not be done without the consent of the GovernorGeneral in Council.
– Certain public servants are engaged at Canberra at present. ‘ When operations are taken over by the commission, may not those officers be placed under the control of the commission, preserving at the same time all their rights’ as public servants?
– Yes, with the consent of the Government.
– There might- be a Government in power which would, agree to the men. going over.
– I cannot imagine any Government allowing a departmental head to be placed under the control of the commission.
– An officer could not be transferred! without the sanction of the Minister’.
– The Minister is not going to be Bothered with detailed work of this- description. The chairman of the commission will take over the most suitable, officers’.
– He- must consult the Public Service Board.
– The Public Service Board will, be superior to the chairman of the commission in. the matter of appointment, and officers in the Territory will retain the rights and privileges which they now enjoy; but they will be under the jurisdiction of a gentleman who may not have worked under the Public Service Act, and who may not be familiar with its provisions. The chairman may not be cognizant of the duties public servants perform. He may probably be more concerned with the development of the Territory.
– The commission cannot take over any public servants without the consent of the Minister.
– There may be a Minister in power who is willing to allow the officers to be transferred.
– The Public Service Board would then have to be approached.
– Yes, but we are told that it is probable that a gentleman with executive ability and driving power will be appointed as chairman. I am not at all satisfied with the clause, and I believe that it would be better for the people, and the public servants in particular, if the chairman of the commission were not clothed with such extensive powers as is proposed.
– I opposed the appointment of a commission, but even although a commission has been approved by the committee, I still believe that the clause as it stands is, without- improvement, quite inadequate. If Senator Findley can submit an amendment better than that moved by the Minister (Senator Pearce), I will support it. It appears that under clause 13 and other clauses to which the committee has agreed the commission will not be subject to the Public Service Board.
– It will be.
– If the chairman of the commission is not to be subject to the Public Service Board we must do something to give him full authority over those under him.
– The fact that the chairman will be in the position of a permanent head places him in the same position as any other permanent head under the Public Service Board.
– So far as I can see, the amendment of the Minister places the chairman in the position of a permanent departmental head.
– The fact that the chairman is to be recognized as a permanent head places him, in so far as public servants are concerned, in the same position as any other permanent head. In the Public Service Act and its regulations, the powers of a permanent head in relation to his officers and the position of officers in relation to him are clearly set out, and these powers must be exercised by the chairman as they are by any other permanent head.
.- I wish to put a hypothetical case to the Minister (Senator Pearce). What would be the position of a public servant employed partly by the commission and partly outside the commission under a departmental head. The work might be similar, but a difference might arise between the chairman and the departmental head, who was not in the service ‘ of the commission. What would be the position of an officer at the Territory in such circumstances?
– The hypothetical question submitted by Senator Findley is easily answered. Whilst a public servant was performing duty for the commission he would be under the control of the chairman in all matters relating to status or discipline, but if he committed an offence he would be dealt with by the chairman of the Public Service Board, as is provided for in the Public Service Act.
– It is possible for ;t public servant to be employed partly under the board and partly under the commission.
– Yes, it is possible for an officer from, say, the Department of the Treasury to be loaned to the Defence Department. That was frequently done during the period of the war and after.
– But those are Government departments.
– From the point of view of a public servant the commission will be a Government department.
– This clause postulates that no one outside the Public Service will be employed by the commission. During the debate on the second reading I directed attention to the extra expense of the Commonwealth m appointing the commission, and mentioned that that body would collect a staff from outside the Public Service. The Minister (Senator Pearce) scouted such an idea.. Does clause 13 mean that the commission will not engage any one at all outside the Public Service ? If if does employ outside persons, will those persons so engaged at once come under the provisions of the Public Service Act and receive the emoluments and benefits for which it provides? If that position does arise, will not the question of temporary employment have to be considered? There are men engaged in the Public Service to-day as temporary hands, .who ‘ may be dismissed at any time. Will the commission, in carrying out its work, always select officers at present in the Public Service, or will it be able to employ outsiders, and if so, will they obtain all the benefits enjoyed by those working under the Public Service Act?
– If the commission wishes to make any permanent appointments they mustbe made under this clause; and in accordance with the provisions of the Public Service Act. If it wishes lo employ casual labour on, say, sanitary work or the construction of roads and footpaths, it will deal with employees in the same manner as they are dealt with in other departments, such as the Post and Telegraph Department, where casual employees are engaged for a few days or a few weeks. Such men will be appointed, not by the Public Service Board, but by the commission.
– I do not think this clause goes far enough. A number of honorable senators have displayed a good deal of concern in regard to the welfare of highlypaid officers who are to be permanently appointed, but such gentlemen can most effectively look after their own interests. It is time the committee gave attention to the welfare of the army of men employed in doing the actual work in connexion with tho development of Canberra. Clerical members of the staff and others who are holding down good jobs are continually being catered for, but the men doing the actual hard work are as usual being ignored.
– Are not the clerical officers doing hard work 1
– Their work is very light when compared with the hard work being done by those who have to handle a pick or a shovel. Clerical work is not comparable with hard manual work, but, apparently, the men engaged in excavating the site of tho provisional Parliament House, or in constructing sewers, are to be taken on and put off at the will of the commission. It is time that sort of business came to a stop.
– What is the good of talking rubbish? These men will be under their foremen or gangers.
– I dare say my proposal is a novelty to the honorable senator now that he has a perch on the other side of the chamber, but I see no reason why those who are doing the actual work in the Territory should not have the advantages enjoyed by the clerical section.
-(Senator Newland). - The committee is now dealing with an amendment submitted by the Minister providing that the chairman of the commission shall be a permanent head of the Commonwealth Public Service.
– The Minister’s amendment does not go far enough. It should provide that all employees at Canberra must be permanently employed. Why should tho men who are doing clerical work be permanently employed and those who are doing the actual hard manual work be denied that right?
– Because they have passed examinations to enter the Service.
– The expense incurred by a man who is doing manual work goes on just the same as does that of a man engaged in clerical work. I have not heard of men on the clerical staff losing time: their pay goes on whether time is lost or not. If it is good that this should be done in the case of clerical workers, it is also a very excellent principle to apply to everybody. I remember the time when a man would be ridiculed if he suggested that a worker should have a holiday on full pay.
– The workers at Canberra get a fortnight’s leave on full pay, and their pay goes on whether the day be wet or dry.
– Thanks to the development of public opinion, bricklayers at Canberra have full time.
– Yes, wet or dry.
– That is quite right.
– No one is saying a word against it.
– It is a most excellent development of public ©pinion that men employed in occupations of that kind should have full time, because it .must be evident, even to Senator Reid, on .a moment’s refection, that although men may be idle owing to the inclemency of the weather, or the shortage of material, their .expenses go .on all the while. Therefore, all employees at Canberra should he put in the f aver able position that the clerical staff will occupy.
– The Minister (Senator Pearce) evidently misunderstood my question, or else ho evaded it. .1 want to know whether the commission will be empowered to appoint its own staff, independent of the other employees referred to by .Senator Grant.
– If members of the staff are permanent, they cannot be appointed except under the provisions of the Public Service Act. On the other hand, the commission may employ temporary assistance.
Senator NEEDHAM. I want to know whether ;the commissioners must choose their assistants from the existing Public Service of the Commonwealth or whether they can go outside the service and employ whom, they like.
– -The .commissioners can go outside the Commonwealth Public Service for their staff, but their permanent officers must be officers .of the Commonwealth Public .Service. .Senator NEEDHAM. - It is quite apparent that the contention of honorable senators that this commission will be able to build around itself an additional .staff, thus adding to the expense of the Commonwealth service, is correct. .It is wrong to suppose that the Government will simply Appoint a commission which will .do its own work. The commission will ham power to engage assistants, particularly in the clerical line, from outside the Commonwealth service.
– As the financial powers of the commission are limited, the Government will always have a check upon the commissioners.
– Each year the «om- . mission will be- obliged bo submit its estimates for temporary clerical assistance and obtain the consent of the Minister to whatever expenditure it proposes in this direction.
– But the fact remains that the cost of the Public Service will be increased. On the second reading of the bill we contended that the Capital could be built and completed as it is now. ‘being built by the Department of Works and Railways and the Department of Home and Territories.. Our opposition t» the appointment of a commission to do .this work was based on the fact that it would entail additional cost, and now we have an admission from the Minister (Senator Bearrce) -which justifies our attitude.
– The Minister can engage temporary assistance at the present time.
– That is true, bat there is bow no payment of j£3,O00 to the chairman of a commission and £2,000 each to two other commissioners. Our contention is that the work of the Federal Capital is now being done well under the guidance of Senator Pearce in one department and Mr. Stewart in .another,, and we therefore object to the unnecessary .appointment of a commission to do what is already being done well.
– The Minister (Senator Pearce) .should thank the honorable senator for the compliment that line work is being well done.
– I mention it as a fact, .and not .as a compliment. In addition to the money which must be provided out of the Consolidated Revenue for the payment .of the salaries of the three commissioners, money will also haw to be provided for a secretarial staff appointed outside and independent of the Commonwealth Public Service.
– The commissioners must do that.
– Then why -was not the Minister honest enough to admit it when we pointed this out on the second reading? There is certainly an amount provided in the bill for the payment of commissioners, but no OWe knows what the additional expenditure will .be by the time .all the clerical assistance is paid .for. .The expenditure wall already - have been incurred by the time it .comes before Parliament as an item in the :a»u-al Estimates, However, I am glad that the Minister now admits the justification of the statement made by honorable senators on this side of the chamber.
.- The Government wish to vest in the chairman of the commission all the powers of a departmental head in the Commonwealth Public Service, which presupposes that officers working under the Public Service Act will be employed by the commission. TheMinister(Senator Pearce), however, has also admitted that the chairman of the commission will have power to employ temporary officers. I want to be on safe ground. If there are to be at the Eederal Capital good positions carrying good salaries they should be made available for the permanent officers of the Commonwealth Public Service.
– Will that not be the case?
– I do not think there is anything in the bill to prevent the chairman of the commission from employing his own friends for a period of three years. He could say tohis brother commissioners, “There is no certainty about the continuance of this commission. There is a whisper abroad that our period is for three years only. We, therefore, would not be justified in taking from the Commonwealth Public Service men who are now well placed when weknow that there are suitable men outside the service who would give satisfaction to us and would be glad to fill all the vacant positions.” I do not want the commission to have that power. It is true, as the Minister has said, that the outside labour is working under arbitration awards or wages boards decisions, and is, in a measure, protected. But there is no protection afforded to the officers of the Commonwealth Public Service. There is nothing to prevent the commission from employing temporary officers for three years to fill all the posts available. Any one who wishes to enter the service of the commission on a permanent basis must pass the examinations required by the Public Service Board; but no such examination is required in the case of a temporary officer, and no one ran tell me that the provisions of acts of Parliament are rigidly observed. During the period of the war, and immediately afterwards, it was found necessary to employ a good deal of temporary assistance in the different Commonwealth departments, but when our men returned from overseas an agitation, for which there was every justification, started, and the claim was made that whatever casual work was available in the different departments should be given to returned soldiers. Accordingly, an instruction was issued to the departmental heads that all temporary hands other than men who had been overseas and had taken part in the world war should be dismissed and their places filled by returned soldiers. I am correctly informed that this instruction was not rigidly carried into effect, and that temporary hands who had not been on active service were kept in employment while returned soldiers remained out of work. The same thing may be done at Canberra. If the Minister can satisfy me that the commissioner will not have the power to employ officers from the ranks of those who are not in the Public Service, I shall not strongly oppose the provision. It would be a dangerous power to place in the hands of any one man, especially when positions carrying high salaries are frequently being filled. The chairman may think that some one outside the service would perform the duties as satisfactorily as a man who is already in the service. When positions are being filled those who are in the service of the Commonwealth should be chosen, because in the service there are highly qualified and efficient officers.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I move -
That after the word “all” in line 1-
-(Senator Newland). - I point out to the honorable senator that the committee agreed to clause 13 on the last sitting day. It has now agreed to an amendment by the Minister that an addition be made to the clause, and it cannot retrace its steps.
– You, sir, have just submitted the question” That the clause, as amended, stand part of the bill.”
– The honorable senator knows that he cannot go back to the early part of the clause.
– I think I shall be in order in proceeding.
– No. I again point out to the honorable senator that if he consults the amendment moved by the
Minister he will see that it provided for the addition of certain words at the end of the clause. Any amendment now must be subsequent to the last word of that added portion. As a matter of fact, the committee has already amended the line which the honorable senator now desires to amend, by inserting the word “ permanent “ after the word “ all.”
– There is nothing to prevent an honorable senator from, moving a further amendment to the clause itself ?
– A further addition to the clause would be quite in order.
– I have no desire to disagree with your ruling, sir, but I was eager to give effect to the point raised by Senator Grant. I desired to have inserted the word “ employees “ in order to give the commission full power to engage all labour necessary for the construction of the Capital city.
– I am opposed to that proposal.
– I am endeavouring to obviate dual control.
– Does the honorable senator desire that they should be made permanent employees?
– No. I want to give the commission the right to employ all these people, and to determine tho nature of their employment. If the commission is not given full power there will be two or three different tribunals to which an appeal will lie.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 14 - (1.) Subject to this act. and to any ordinance made in pursuance of the Seat of Government (Administration) Act 1910, the powers of the commission in relation to the Territory shall include the following : -
– This is probably one of the most important and most far-reaching clauses in the bill, but to me it appears to be defective in one or .two respects.- I should like to see the commission clothed with power to control education - primary, secondary, and technical. I also think that sub-cluase a is not sufficiently comprehensive. I move -
That after the word “purpose” sub-clause a the following words be inserted : - “ and the valuing, subject to appeal, and notwithstanding the provisions of any ordinance or regulation for rating purposes, of all rateable lands at periods not exceeding three years, and on the values so ascertained the - rates shall be imposed.”
There is a vagueness about the powers which it is proposed to give the commission, and I think it ought to be rectified. It is very doubtful whether the commission will not be obliged to regard as the value of the building sites .that which is fixed by auction, and will not be able to adjust those values until the termination of the first period of appraisement. In the local government areas throughout the Commonwealth, so far as I am acquainted with them, it is provided that the local authorities shall value the land for taxation purposes at periods of approximately three years. In New South Wales a ValuerGeneral was appointed and, adopting a uniform method, he has valued large areas in that state, very much to the annoyance of some ratepayers who for a number ‘ of years were allowed to escape with a nominal valuation. I do not for a moment contend that the ValuerGeneral in New South Wales is free from all blame. I daresay he has made mistakes, but I submit that, notwithstanding any such mistakes, he is likely to ascertain the true value of the land and to act in a fearless manner. I think it is altogether wrong that people who are directly concerned should have the right to appoint the valuator. One so appointed would be liable to hesitate to increase values when the ratepayers had the right to discharge him. They have not the right to’ discharge the Valuer-General, although, as part of the compact entered into between the different anti-labour forces, it is now proposed to circumscribe his powers in certain directions. No provision has been made for the appointment of a Valuer-General at Canberra, and there does not appear to .me to be any provision for tho valuation of those lands for rating purposes at the existing value. Let us assume that some of those building sites are leased at a capital value of £400 at the auction sale of leases to be held on 1st October next. It appears to me that the values then fixed will have to be accepted by the commission, and on those values the rate will nave to be levied for the full period of 20 years. I referred some time ago to what took place near Coolangatta, in Queensland. I showed conclusively that land sold on the leasehold principle only two years ago had increased in value so rapidly that, when submitted to auction recently the advance was at least 400 per cent. Now the Coolangatta’ shire is able, under the Act, to levy its local rates on- the values so ascertained. It is, I believe, empowered by the Act to value these blocks every three years. It is not definitely stated that the commission will have- the right to value the land at Can- ‘ berra within a’ specified time. Tho rent, and the local rate which the commission will have the right to levy, will be expended largely at Canberra. The surplus may have to be paid into the Consolidated Revenue, but that is not n matter of. very great importance. What concerns me is that, in all probability, the rateable value of these building sites will substantially increase in a limited number of years. . They may decrease in value, but that is not likely. The commission will not have the option to levy on any value other than that fixed at the auction sale. I find, on looking through the provisions of sub-section 2 of -section 3 of Ordinance No. 3 of 1911, that the following paragraph appears - . The unimproved capital value of Crown lands held under a louse under which there is no right of conversion to a freehold, or under licence from the Crown, under the laws in force in a territory relating to the occupation and use of Crown lands, is a sum equal to 20 times the yearly amount of the rent payable to the Crown under the lease or licence at the time when the assessment is made.
That conveys to my mind, and I think correctly, that the commission will have no right to value the land up to its valuation at the time of assessment, and that it will be obliged to accept the value placed on building sites at the time of their disposal. If bo, tho principle is altogether wrong. The lessees, whoever they are, should pay local rates in accordance, not with the value ascertained at the auction sale, bat with that ascertained, say, at three years’ periods. It is fairly difficult to keep in touch with the provisions of the ordinances and the regulations that have already been issued for the control of Canberra, and, therefore, it would be wise to include in the clause the words “ notwithstanding the provisions of any ordinance or regulation.” If that is agreed to, it may be possible at a later stage to amend any conflicting ordinances or regulations so ‘as to make it dear- that the commission shall have the right, and shall be obliged when it makes an assessment, to assess the land at the then value. As far as I know, it is. the universal practice of local or other authorities throughout the Commonwealth to value -land about every three years. Notwithstanding that we have decided to re-appraise at the end of 20 years for rental purposes’, I contend that fo? local purposes the commission should be clothed with this power. Under the clause as it now stands, it is quite possible that the value of some of the blocks leased at tho first sale may be very much under the price brought by the other blocks leased at a later date. It would be very unfair if tho lessees at the later auction sale were required to pay in local rates perhaps two or three times more than the first lessees.
– The amendment proposed by the honorable member is entirely unnecessary. Clause 14 reads -
Under the clause, the commission will frame ordinances for submission to the Minister and to the Governor-General in Council, setting out the basis upon which it will value the land, how it shall be valued, and upon what principle the rate3 shall be levied. Tho honorable senator quoted from au ordinance that regulates the selling of the leases of the land, and that has nothing to do with the ordinance for. the valuation of land for municipal rating. Many ordinances will have to be- framed, to enable the commission to state the principles on which its powers will be exercised. Under this bill an ordinance will have to be framed dealing with the method of levying rates. The honorable senator’s amendment if included in. the bill in its presents form would be anencumbrance, as it provides only for the method of valuing, and does not say how the rating shall be carried into effect, and upon what principle it shall be levied.
– HaveI the assurance of the Minister that, then value for local rating purposes will not necessarily be the value placed upon the leases at auction?
– I do not say that at all. There will be an ordinance settingoutthe method of arriving at values andthelevyingofrates.
SenatorGRANT (New South. Wales) (4.43). - I realize the great difficulty in securing the inclusion of such an amendment, but at the same time the explanation, of the Minister is:unsatisfactory.It ought to be clearly stated in the clause that thelandshall be valued for local rating purposes at not lessthan three years’ periods.
– Thebill would then bea local governing bill.
– It is a local governing bill. Paragraphl provides that the powers of the- commission shall include “ generally the municipal government of the Territory.” The bill lacks essential vital clauses explaining exactly what are the powers of the commission in matters of detail relating to land valuation.
SenatorFINDLEY (Victoria) [4.44].. - What real objection can the Minister have to the amendment moved in the most friendly way by Senator Grant? This is a matter of great moment to the people, not only of the Territory-, but of the whole of Australia.
– It is a prohibition upon the passing of an ordinance setting out the values of. the land.
-There is no more important question than that of the land. It is anticipated that as soon as the Federal Parliament assembles at Canberra there will be a large increase in the population there, and, consequently, an increased value attaching to the land of the Territory. It is very likely that within a period of three years the value ofthat land will increase materially. Senator Grant’s proposal to make the period of reapparaisement not less than threeyearsis averyworthyone.
SenatorPearce. - If the honorable senator will look at the powers of the proposedcom mission,he will see that for each of them there will have to be an ordinance setting out the manner in which it shall be exercised.
SenatorFINDLEY. - Ordinances are all right in; their way. They have to. be presented to Parliament, and remain on the table of the. House for acertain period, and if. no exception is taken to them, they then become operative.
– The honorable senator does not wantto turn Parliament into a municipal council..
– I donot want to see encouraged at Canberra a system that will enable speculators to exploit the people. There is no doubt that there are great possibilities for exploitation unless proper protection is given to them.
SenatorReid. - The lands are public, not private.
– They are public lands, the leases of which will be submitted to auction.
Senator- Reid.- And the valueof which will or should accrue to the Government.
SenatorFINDLEY. - It should accrue to the Government, but Parliament has, unfortunately, decided that the first reappraisement shall not take place until twenty years have elapsed, and that thereafter there shall be a re-appraisement every ten years. There is no obstacle in the way of accepting the amendment. The Minister’s explanation that ordinances will be framed to give effect to the commission’s powers, is not sufficient. If, wecan define its powers now, by accepting the amendment, so much the better.
Question - That the words proposed to he inserted be so inserted (Senator Grant’ s. amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
– At present the Education Department of New South Wales is in control of schools in the Federal Capital area. I d;o not offer any serious- objection to that arrangement, but I think the Commonwealth should make its’ own provision for education in the Territory.
– At this juncture!
– Yes. I anticipate that, in the near .future Canberra will be a city worthy of the Commonwealth.
– Let us wait until it is.
– There was no objection on the part- of honorable members supporting the Government to clothing the commission with extensive powers in other directions,, but apparently the Government is not prepared, to do so with regard to education. There are now two schools in the Federal Capital area, and their accommodation will soon be taxed to its utmost There i3 no particular reason why was should not,, at this, stage, make provision for the commission to take over control of education. I am not conversant with the details of the present arrangement, but I am under the impression that the Commonwealth paid for the erection of the schools.
– And we pay the salaries of the teachers.
– But the schools are under the control of the New. South Wales department. It would be better even if they remain under the control of the New South Wales department for’ some time, to clothe the commission with the necessary power. I therefore moy -
That the following, new paragraph be inserted to follow paragraph. (6)’: - (bo) Education - primary, secondary and technical^ - free.
– If the proposed new paragraph be not added, it does not follow that the. Commonwealth, will not have full power to legislate in respect o$ education. The Commonwealth Parliament has power to legislate in respect of any matter affecting the Federal Territory. The amendment will’ not add to that power. I am not quite sure that, when- the time arrives, Parliament will approve of education being under the control of the commission. I think it probable that Parliament will legislate directly in regard to education in the Territory. It is not wise at this juncture, when there are only two or three small schools in the Federal Capital area, to place education under the control of the commission. Certainly there is not sufficient population to warrant legislation for secondary and technical education. In the circumstances,, I ask Sena-tor Grant to withdraw his amendment.
– It appears to me that the amendment is not only unnecessary, but also inadvisable. I think that when the’ time comes for the Commonwealth Parliament to- legislate in regard to education at Canberra, it will, do so in a general bill governing all Commonwealth Territories. It is– inadvisable- at. this- juncture to place education) under- a commission already somewhat- overburdened with regard to the diversity of subjects for which it will be responsible. Although I have said that the commission is somewhat overloaded, as soon as Senator Grant’s- amendment is disposed of I intend, to call the Minister’s attention to an omission in another direction, and will seek to place another duty upon the commission.
– Before the amendment is dealt with,, I. should like to know the true intent of paragraph o, which vests the commission with control and management of lands which the Minister notifies the commission: are not required for the erection of buildings or for any other, public purpose. Does it mean that Commonwealth, public buildings will not be vested in the commission ?
– It excludes lands required for public purposes such as, for instance, the war memorial site.
– Then that would preclude the right of the Government to erect buildings, as is done to-day in certain parts of the Commonwealth, and receive the rents.
– In the Territory the commission will erect those buildings.
– Then we may take it that buildings, other than public buildings, in the Territory, will come under the control of the commission?
– Another matter upon which I require information is in regard to facilities and accommodation for aerial transport and communications. At present there does not seem to be any authority for the commission to maintain suitable areas for such purposes.
– There is a general power in paragraph h.
– (Senator Newland). - I ask the honorable senator to confine his attention to the amendment moved by Senator Grant.
– I intend to vote against the amendment.
– It appears to me that, in view of the fact that motors are likely to be very extensively used for a long time in Canberra, wo should give a definite power to the commission to acquire and maintain motor services. Owing to the distances between the various centres it is impossible to get about the Federal Capital area without a motor.
– The power mentioned by the honorable senator may be taken under paragraph k.
– It is not necessary to give tho commission specific power as suggested by the honorable senator.
– Does the Minister say that paragraph k is sufficient? That provision is fairly wide, and I think it will be found that the commission after it has been appointed will not be prepared to engage in services . other than those specifically mentioned. I intend to move to insert after “tramways” the words “motor services.”
– Provision is not specifically made for the commission to conduct a motor service, and in order to make it quite clear that the commission will have the power to conduct a motor or any other transport service, I move -
That after the word “ tramways “ in paragraph c the words “ and other means of transport “ be added.
If my amendment is adopted the commission -will have the power to operate a motor or even an aeroplane service.
– The amendment moved by Senator Grant is quite unnecessary, as.the commission as a local governing body will have the power to do what he suggests. At present, a motor service is being conducted, but even if there were any doubt in. that regard one could be established under paragraph k, in which general powers are given. The amendment is very wide, and would include a railway. We do not propose that a railway shall be operated by the commission. We have a Railways Commissioner, who . would naturally be in control.
– The Government could exempt a railway if the construction of a line were proposed.
– That would exempt the construction, but the operation of it would be under the control of the commission. The paragraph provides for the construction, maintenance, and operation of tramways, and if Senator Grant’s amendment were adopted it would also include “ any other means of transport.” I am satisfied that the commission will have the power to operate a motor transport service without the addition of the words proposed by Senator Grant, and it is almost certain that this authority will be exercised from the commencement, because means of transport are to-day provided for school children, and will, of course, be continued. Any one who has visited the Territory and noticed how widely the residential areas are scattered’ must recognize the necessity of a motor transport service. The commission may decide to negotiate with private firms or to conduct its own motor service.
– As it is specifically provided in paragraph q that the duties of the commission shall include the destruction of vermin and noxious weeds, I do not understand why it is considered unnecessary to add the words I have suggested. On the assurance, however, of the Minister (Senator Pearce) that the commission will- have the power to operate other transport services, I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
.. - I intend to move to add a now paragraph fa to read - (fa) Planting, conservation of forests, and the preservation of fauna and flora.
I am somewhat in doubt as to the area which the commission will control.
– The whole area of the Territory.
– If that is so, I am surprised to find that paragraph I provides that the commissioners shall have control generally of the municipal government of the Territory.
– That is usual. “Municipal” is used in its broad sense.
– It is so broad that I think the clause would be better without the word “municipal.” I was rather in sympathy with the amendment submitted by Senator Grant, which seems to me to bo desirable, and I trust that I shall not be informed -that what I desire is covered by paragraph k, because, if all these powers are included in that paragraph, I do not see why the other paragraphs should stand. It seems to me that the regulations which can be made are governed by this clause, and that any regulation made outside this clause would be liable to be considered ultra vires of the act. .As is usual, the clause dealing with regulations provides that any regulations may be made “ not “ inconsistent with this act. It appears to m.c that, in the words of the late Sir Henry Parkes, there are “ too many injurious differentiations” in this clause. The commission should not neglect this most important feature of governmental activity.
– If the honorable senator will make his amendment read “ forestry and afforestation “ I shall accept it, as I think the honorable senator means more than the first planting.
– Planting and conservation of forests practically covers afforestation.
– The term is usually “ forestry and afforestation.”
– I am prepared to amend my amendment in the direction indicated by the Minister, but I still wish to retain the words “ preservation of flora and fauna.”
– I am agreeable to that.
Amendment (by Senator Kingsmill) agreed to -
That the following new paragraph be added : - (fa) forestry and afforestation and the preservation of fauna and flora.
– Is it the intention of the Government to issue ordinances and regulations thereunder from time to time in connexion with the various powers set out in the bill?
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 15 agreed to.
Clause 16 (By-laws).
– This clause provides that the commission may, subject to the approval of the Governor-General, makebylaws not inconsistent with the act, and may prescribe penalties not exceeding £50, or imprisonment for three months, for any contravention of the by-laws, and that all such by-laws shall be notified in the Gazette. I should like to know if there is not any other way of broadcasting information at little expense other than by a notification in the Gazette. When a person is liable to a penalty of £50 or three months’ imprisonment for a contravention of the by-laws, it seems reasonable to suggest that there should bo some means, other than in the manner proposed, of notifying the by-laws. A person may unintentionally commit an offence, and may not have had an opportunity of seeing the Gazette.
– Every one in the various suburbs of Melbourne incurs that risk.
– Yes, but we are providing for the control in a new capital, and I should like the Minister to suggest an improvement in this respect.
– I do not know any other way in which, notice can be given.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 17 -
The revenue of the Commission shall consist of the following moneys : -
– I move -
That after the word “ services “ sub-clause 1 paragraph (b) the words, “ but the services conducted by the Commission shall be run for use but not for profit “ be inserted.
In many of the older cities of the world such as Glasgow and Belfast, and other out-of-date places run :by conservatives, a practice has grown up which is approved even by a limited number of people in Australia. One would hare thought that when the Glasgow tramway services were taken over by the municipality some years ago, the council would have run them at the lowest possible cost to the users, but ‘ nothing of the kind occurred. It is true that the fares were substantially reduced, and that the .conditions of employment and the wages of the employees were improved, but the fares charged are still so high that a considerable amount of profit is made each year, which means that the user3 of the tramways not only find all .the money required to pay all charges in connexion with the tramway service, ‘but also pay an annual contribution to the relief of the property owners of the city. The same objectionable system has been in operation in Belfast .and also various cities in Great Britain for many years, and it has made its appearance to some extent in Australia. Until Richard Denis .Meagher became mayor of Sydney, and with the aid of labour councillors imposed taxation on unimproved values, it was the practice of the .municipality to levy rates upon the rental value of property.
-(Senator Newland). - The paragraph does not deal with rating.
– I shall connect my remarks with the paragraph. Largely owing to the agitation of Alexander Gordon Huie, secretary of the Single Tax League, and another organization, the offshoot of that body, the system of rating on la-nd values was adopted in Sydney, but since then, unfortunately, the Labour party in the Sydney Council has lost its majority, and the old .conservative aldermen have decided to divert some of the profits derived from the sale of electricity to the relief of the city laud-owners. This, to my mind, is an entirely objectionable method of adding to the municipal revenue. Unless we provide that services which may be conducted by the commission at Canberra shall be run for use and not for profit we shall find out presently that instead of the fare charged being just sufficient to pay the expenses of the tramway services, it will be high enough to allow of a substantial profit being paid into the revenue of the city, just as is now being done in Sydney from the sale of electricity. One would have thought that with land values in Sydney as high as ?44,000,000, a sufficient revenue would be secured from the rates: but, following the practice adopted by many cities of Europe, the users of electricity are compelled to pay, riot only sufficient to meet all expenses in connexion with the proper conduct of the supply of light and power, but also a substantial profit for the relief of the city land-owners. I take it that when an in*telligent Labour party gets control again in Sydney it will make a refund from the general revenue to the users of current, but in order to prevent what has been done elsewhere from being done at Canberra, we should amend the clause in the direction I have indicated . There is a widespread opinion that rating at Canberra should be on the unimproved values of land, in accordance with the principles laid down by Henry George..
– The committee is dealing with charges for services, and not with rating.
– In order to give piactical eff ect to the .suggested method of rating, as provided for earlier in the clause, and to ensure that the principal revenue shall be derived from that source, so that the services supplied by the commission may be run for use and not for profit, my amendment should be agreed to,. The old conservative crowd in Sydney are anxious to secure control of the Sydney ferries and the water and sewerage .services.
– The honorable senator is getting right away from his amendment. If he does not confine his remarks to the amendment I shall be compelled to .call upon him to -resume his seat.
– I promise you, sir, ‘that if you sit me .down you wild be very sorry for it. I was proceeding, when interrupted, to demonstrate what is done i.ia Sydney, because I cannot make my position quite clear without these illustrations to show that the method usually adopted is not working satisfactorily .elsewhere. At any r, ate, I think I have made out a case for preventing the commissioners from charging for services at Canberra more than -is required to meet .all expenses in connexion with them. I have no desire to say that these services . sham be free or that -they shall foe provided at the expense -of the ratepayers generally, but with the .experience of Belfast, Glasgow, and Sydney before m - I could multiply these illustrations if necessary - ;it is -fake .duty of the Senate, in fairness to the users of .services , at Canberra, to lay .down (the safeguard that the commissiomers shall be empowered to. charge a fare (sufficient -.only to pay all .necessary expenses.
– There is ‘very amuck to be said in favour of the amendment. ‘The Melbourne tramway service is fairly up-to-date, but people are .called upon ‘to pay extra fares on holidays or Sundays, <when they may be disposed to enjoy themselves and get .a little fresh air. Public services should be run for use amd mot for profit. If -we did .nob carry out ,that principle in connexion with .our public department, little or no progress <would be »ade in many parts .of the Commonwealth. T/he community at largo pay* .the large sums of money spent on the construction of new roads. Many services for which considerable .suras of money .are expended by Parliament are not .expected to pay expenses for .some years. Parliament does not ask itself whether a service to ‘be provided is ‘likely to -show an immediate profit. Why should not Canberra .’be a model city? Why .should we not be the first to lay down “the principle that -as the land in the Territory is communityowned, public services in the Territory should fee run in the interests of the .community in ‘general, and the fares charged should be less than those charged in -any other part of .the -world? No <9m.e asks that the services should bp absolutely hee. but it is not a new proposal bo make railway and, incidentally, tramway travelling free. I remember reading, .in my youthful days, a most interesting pamphlet published in Great Britain by a body called “ The Free Travel League.” The members of that league were .composed ‘-of scholarly, cultured gentlemen, whose one idea was that the health of the people was paramount, and whose object was .to buy up all the privately-owned railways im Great Britain and to run them absolutely free to the community. Some .honorable senators may regard this .as an impossible proposal. Nothing .nowadays is impossible if we set .about it in the right way. What objection can the Minister have to providing that these services shall be run, not for profit, but in the interests of the residents of the Territory ? It is not desired that they should be run at a loss, but we consider that the commission should not have the power to do what the management of (She Melbourne tramway system does - change extra, fares on holidays and Bund-ays. The ‘fares that aire charged in Melbourne .enable the Tram.ways Board to -show fairly bag surpluses. We ..ought -not to concern ourselves with’ surpluses, although ‘this Government seems to -be a. “ whale “ on them, and Acts as though it considers that big surpluses are an indication of good government.
– A “big surplus is as bad as a !big deficit. .Senator FINDLEY. - I think so, too. For that reason, I do mot want the commissioners to be able to show big surpluses at the expense of the community. I hope that the committee will .see the wisdom of protecting the future residents of the Territory against excess fares and freights. That can be done by voting for the amendment. .Senator REID (Queensland) [5..3S].- I am (Surprised that an amendment Od .this nature should be moved and supported by honorable senators opposite. Neither Senator -Grant nor Senator Findley has .used a .convincing argument. It lias been proved conclusively that the profits derived from ma.unici.pal ventures in different pants ,of the world have been devoted to the making of all kinds of improvements which .otherwise would not have been undertaken. Sometimes that is the best rand moat reasonable way of providing a municipality with revenue to carry out such work. I do not expect that the commission, will make handsome profits, but I do believe that any profit that may be made will be devoted to the improvement of the Territory. “Why prevent the commission from making any profit? Many services are made exceedingly cheap to the community because the profits derived from them are utilized in conferring other benefits on the people in improving the streets, in planting trees, and in making better footpaths. Canberra, it is hoped, will be a model city; yet honorable senators opposite expect those who will be charged with its administration to run these services merely at cost price. It cannot be done. This commission will be different from the Tramways Board in Melbourne, or the Railways Commissioners in Sydney.
– Both the railways and the tramways belong to the people.
– I know that they do. If the railways were run at cost price the commissioners would not have sufficient funds to carry out extensions of the service. Profits are essential for the building up of a reserve fund.
– The honorable senator knows that there is another source from which funds may be obtained.
– The only alternative is to tax the people. A service may be rendered too cheaply. Full value may be given, even though profits are made, because those profits are utilized in conferring other benefits upon the people. In a, climate like Canberra, to what better use could a surplus from a service be put than in subsidizing bands to entertain the people in the public parks? To. restrict the powers of the board and prevent it from making profits would be a. most conservative, retrograde step. Honorable senators opposite call themselves socialists. They do not know the meaning of municipal socialism. Senator Grant referred to Glasgow as being out of date. No city has done more than Glasgow in effecting improvements for the benefit of its people, and those improvements have been made possible by the profits derived from its public services. The trams are in the hands of the people, and one may ride long distances for a halfpenny. Workmen’s tickets are available during certain hours. The improvements which the municipality has been able to carry out because of the profits that have accrued from its undertakings are too numerous to mention. Had that municipality been restricted,- it would have been necessary to increase the rates to provide revenue with which to carry out improvements. Therefore, the profits made did not impose any hardship on the users of the trams, but, on the contrary, they conferred a great benefit upon the city. I am surprised that Senator Findley should support this amendment.
– The post office is not run to make huge profit^, but for the convenience of the public.
– Any profits made by the post office should be utilized in cheapening the service. I am unable to support the amendment.
– The amendment is worthy of support. It embodies many fine principles, but I am very much afraid that it . would not give Senator Grant what he desires. He is under the impression that, on a holiday, passengers using the services at Canberra will have to pay an extra charge. To arrive at his ideal he should amend subclause b in such a way as to limit the charges which the commission can make for any service. There would then be no chance of extra expense being passed on. Mention has been made of other cities, such as Glasgow. I worked in Glasgow when it was necessary to pay 1 1/2 d. to travel 2 miles on a horse tram. At that time the tramways were run by a private company. The municipality of Glasgow bought out the company and built electric trams. Within twelve months passengers were, able to travel 2 .miles for 1/2 d.
– The reduction in fares was made possible by the profits derived from the running of the trams.
– Yes. As a matter of fact, it cost £165,000 to buy out the private company. That sum was paid in twelve months, and the whole of the profits went to what in Glasgow is known as the “ common good.” The passenger was not asked to pay more because the employees received a little higher wages than were given them by the private company. We have been a long time waking up to the fact that the Postal Department and other departments . are being run for profit, and, sometimes, not for ‘use. It i3 necessary to pay a greater sum to send a telegram after 8 o’clock at night than at five .minutes to 8, because the employees are paid a higher rate for working after that hour. In every service of the Commonwealth and the states, when the employees are given better conditions or higher wages, the increased cost is passed on to the public. The. cost of the services at Canberra ought not to b.e passed on, and, if Senator Grant wishes to prevent this, he should insert his amendment not in the way suggested, but after the word “ charges.”
– I was highly amused by Senator Needham’s reference to something that happened in Scotland 25 years ago. He hag been talking a lot of balderdash and utter rot. His remarks are a little out of date. I was in Scotland about 24 or 25 years ago, and at that time adequate and perfectly satisfactory electric ‘tramway systems were in operation there. There were no horse trams. Senator Grant spoke about running services for profit. Does he mean that the general public should pay for services used by a favoured few ?
– They should be run for use only.
– Who is to pay for the wear and tear? Why does not the honorable senator talk sense rather than howl :md whine like a child in his endeavour t> waste the time of the committee? I deplore his arguments. He knows perfectly well that a sinking fund must be provided for depreciation of services. For days both he and Senator Needham have been acting childishly. It is a waste of time and public money.
– I agree with the remarks made by Senator Cox. There is nothing very serious in Senator Grant’s mind when he makes the suggestion that services should be run for use and not for profit. I listened with a great deal of interest to Senator Reid’s remarks .and appreciated his glowing picture of future band performances at Canberra. When at Canberra F hope that I shall have the pleasure of hearing such a band, but I do not think that there will be the profits that he hoped for to provide funds for this purpose. I am quite certain that there will be no profits from the services in that city. As a rule sufficient rates are levied to cover expenditure on such services, and that will be the objective of the commission at Canberra. Senator Grant need not worry about his amendment, since its inclusion would not improve the clause. He will find that in actual practice in years to come there will be no profit from these services, and that the revenue will be sufficient to cover the expenditure. I shall oppose the amendment.
– I am glad indeed that we have had small contributions to this debate by Senator-General Cox and Senator-General Thompson. It is to be regretted that both these gentlemen gave such exhibitions of mental obtuseness, that they conveyed in the clearest possible manner their complete ignorance of the subject they attempted to discuss. I have no objection to either of them making personal remarks about honorable senators on this side, but when we make similar remarks about them I hope that they will receive them in the spirit displayed by us.
– I shall have no objection to that.
– I made no personal remarks.
– I did, and, if necessary, I shall do so again.
– It is a matter of personal opinion. An adequate transport service at Canberra will be of first importance to the people who ultimately reside there. I attempted in a few words, and in the clearest manner possible, to illustrate what I meant by referring to happenings which, to my “certain knowledge, took place in Glasgow and Belfast, and in the city of Sydney. Senator Reid suggested that <the people who use the tramway or any other service that is provided by the commission at Canberra should pay sufficient not only to cover the cost of its establishment and operation, but to provide for other services. That is what was done for many years in the cities of Glasgow and Belfast. The people who should have paid the rates passed them on to the people who used the tramway services. I do not argue that these services are not wellconducted, but I do say that the fares charged on them could be a great deal cheaper, and that certain circumlocutory methods of imposing taxation to make tramway users pay for the provision of music in public parks should be discontinued. The expense should be met by those who patronize the bands. Coming nearer home, is it not ridiculous that in Sydney, theland values of which amount to £44,000,000, the people who use electric current generated by the city council are required to pay more than the cost?
– The honorable senator told us that two or three minutes ago.
– It was not thoroughly impressed upon the honorable senator’s mind, and I should not have re peated it only for the fact that he has failed to understand the position.
– Use some fresh argument.
– What is the use of using fresh arguments when the honorable senator cannot understand those that I have already used ? Why should the persons using the services provided at Canberra by the commission be required to pay any more than the cost of running such utilities? I do not say that those services should be conducted free of charge. Senator Cox seems to have misconstrued my remarks.
– Would the honorable senator favour the provision of a sinking fund to meet wear and tear ?
– Certainly. Any service conducted at Canberra by the commission should be run in such a way as to pay all expenses.
– Why did the honorable senator not say so previously?
– I said so in the clearest and most unmistakable manner, but evidently the honorable senator was not paying very much attention to me. I am not in favour of conducting these services for profit. Last year the Sydney City Council, in supplying electricity, made a profit of£75,000. Why should that sum, or any portion of it be used to reduce the rates payable by the landlords of Sydney? It is a direct contribution to them from the users of electricity in Sydney.. I can quite understand Senator Redd advocating the adoption of asimilar procedure at Canberra, as it is his businesstodo so, but I wish to prevent it.
– Thehonorable senator is referring to profiteering, which is another thing altogether..
– The honorable senator fully understands the position. The land-owners of Sydney can easily afford to pay the local rate imposed. People using municipal services should be charged only sufficientto make ends meet. I am not against making a nominal profit but the local authoritiesshould not be permitted to charge high rates so as to exempt land-owners from taxation. The principle is entirely wrong.
Clause agreed to:
Clauses 18 and 19 agreed to..
.- I move-
That the woods; “ Subject to parliamentary authority and “, line 1, sub-clause 1, be struck out.
I shall later move a further amendment. Although the amendments will alter the wording of the clause, the borrowing of moneys will still be subject to the authority of Parliament.
– Will the commission have power to borrow money without: having first the authority of Parliament? If that is soI can see the possibility of creating another borrowing authority in Australia.
– The commission must inform the Government of the amount they require, and obtain the Treasurer’s approval. In addition, under the further amendments I am about to propose, a resolution of both Houses of Parliament must be passed agreeing to the borrowing of such money:
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That after the word” may “, line 3, subclause (1), the words”in pursuance of a resolution, passed by bothHouses of the Parliament.”, be inserted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 21 to 25 agreed to.
Clause 26 (Preference to returned soldiers).
Amendment (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That the following new sub-clause be inserted : - “ (3) For the purposes of this section ‘ the war ‘ means the war which commenced on the 4th day of August, 1914.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 27 and 28 agreed to.
Clause 29 (Regulations).
– I do not know, and probably, with the exception of the officials concerned, very few other persons know how many ordinances and regulations have already been passed in connexion with theFederal Capital. At all events they are sufficiently numerous to make it exceedingly difficult for one to ascertain the alterations that have been made from time to time. Of late they have been making their appearance with a fair degree of regularity and at an increasing rate. If this goes onmuch longer it will be almost impossible for honorable senators to keep in touch with all that is being done at the Capital city. I suggest, therefore, that the Minister should givean undertaking that the ordinances and regulations be brought up to date and consolidated. The same course might be followed in connexion with the ordinancesand regulations dealing with New Guinea, the Northern Territory, Papua, and other Territories. I have taken the trouble to compile a complete list for my own purposes. I believe it is the only one in existence.
– I am not prepared off-hand to give an undertaking of such a sweeping character. All these regulations have been tabulated, and a very complete index of them has also been prepared. If honorable senators willlook at the shelves at each end of the chamber, they will see the volumes containing the statutory rules and regulations, and will find, also, that the index gives a complete reference to all the amendments that have been made. This arrangement is, in effect, the same as aconsolidation of the regulations. Obviously there would not be much advantage in consolidating the regulations now, because within six months there would be a further list, and we should have to consolidate again. If the present practice is continued, honorable senators, and any others interested, will be able to keep in touch with them. I may add that no State Government keeps, in this way, such a complete record of its regulations.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I desire, in as few words as possible, to direct the attention of the Senate, and the Minister implicated, to the extraordinarily unsatisfactory, and, in my opinion, evasive answers which I have received to certain questions asked by me in the Senate. On the 16th May last I asked questions with regard to the steamship Fordsdale,and on the 28th May I received the following communication from the Secretary to the Prime Minister’s Department direct, instead of through the responsible Minister in this chamber : -
With reference to the following questions asked by you in theSenate on 16th May last-
I amdirected to inform youas follows-: -
Island Dockyard, Sydney, under the direction of the following administrations, viz., Navy Board, Ship Construction Branch, and completed by the Australian Commonwealth Shipping Board.
Practically the whole of the steel bull was built by piecework, theremainder ofthe trades beingcarried out by day-labour.
I have said that those answers arc, in my opinion, evasive. I wish to repeat the charge. I asked plainly enough: “What was the delivered cost to the Federal Government?” There is- no answer to that question. Whoever supplied the answers - the management of the Commonwealth Shipping Line, I presume - stated that the “estimated” cost was £821,000. I did not want to know the estimated cost. I asked for the actual cost. If this cost is not shown on the books, it should be. Then, again, I asked: “Was this cost above or below departmental estimates?” In reply I was told that “ after making necessary allowance for market advances in material values, advance of wages, reduction of working week from 48 hours to 44 hours, &c, the cost is below the departmental estimate.” What are those allowances ? The answer on this point is absolutely nebulous and is of no use at all. The only conclusion I can gather from the replies furnished to me is that the ship, a vessel of 12,800 tons, cost £85S,500, plus the little item of £8,500, caused by industrial troubles. Of course, that is enough for my purpose, but it is not enough to satisfy the just demands of members of Parliament when asking to be supplied with accurate information on any subject on which they require information. On the 13th June I also asked the following questions: -
The answers supplied by the Minister (Senator Pearce; were as follow: -
I asked these questions because they deal with a very important matter, namely, whether this country is justified in paying about three times as much for ship construction in Australia as would be paid for vessels built in Great Britain. I wish to get at the cost of the vessels in order to ascertain whether the Government is justified in so doing, and I refuse to be hampered in this way by any board. As a matter of fact, the answers have materially influenced me in questioning the wisdom of creating so many of these boards, and placing so much power in’ their hands. I accepted the answer to the first question . with the humility which, after all, perhaps a mere senator should exhibit towards such a potent, puissant body as the Commonwealth Shipping Board ; but when I asked the second question, and was informed that the board did not think it desirable to reveal to its competitors the cost at which the ships stand on its books, that humility reached breaking point. I had to revolt. I strongly object to the Shipping Board placing information of the character quoted in the hands of the Minister, and to the Minister, passing it on to honorable senators. I do not think it fair. I dare say it was somewhat presumptuous to ask these questions; but I have always been accustomed to having fair questions answered correctly and clearly. The apparent inference that the Commonwealth Shipping Board does not think it advisable to make known to the competitors of the line the figure at which the individual ships stand on its books is unreasonable. Am I a competitor? Are other honorable senators competitors of the line? Has not Parliament, which created the board, the right to know what it is doing? If we have not, it is time we secured that right. I strongly object to the methods adopted by the board in this respect.
– I would not; but I wish to know what the procedure is. Further, I wish to ascertain the price at which this ship, which presumably cost approximately £858,000, appears on the books of the board. I want to know how much was written off.I have heard that the amount in respect of each ship is about £600,000.
– These are new ships.
– Exactly. Approximately £600,000 has been written off each ship. I do not know if that amount is correct, but I was so informed by a gentleman who should know. If my information is incorrect the Minister can contradict me; if it is correct, it is clear that the business of the board is not being conducted on proper principles.We should not expend £858,000 on a vessel and hand it over to the board at £260,000. It is not fair. It is ridiculous. From what I know of government control of state industries, the competitors of the Commonwealth Shipping Line probably know more about its operations than perhaps do members of Parliament. If I have spoken with a little heat on this subject, I hope, sir, you will pardon me, and I trust that the Minister will realize I am only doing so because I think I am being denied by the Commonwealth Shipping Board, not by the Minister, information to which I and other honorable senators are entitled. I trust it will not occur again. It is my intention to again give notice of these questions on the next day of sitting.
– I join with Senator Kingsmill in the complaint he has made concerning the manner in which questions are answered in the Senate. My complaint is of long standing, as for a considerable time the Government have failed to treat questions asked by honorable senators with the respect to which they are entitled. Early in the session last year I submitted a question - I was anxious to inform my own mind - as to the manner in which bank notes were issued to the private banks. I endeavoured on two occasions to obtain the information, but with as little success in the last instance as I had in the first. There is nothing in the questions sub mitted by honorable senators which cannot be answered by a Minister, but if there is a reason why the information should not be disclosed it should be given. The latest evasive answer I received was from the Acting PostmasterGeneral (Senator Crawford), when I asked if the Government had calculated the cost of the letter-boxes - which have now to be supplied by householders - to the whole of the people of Australia. The Acting Postmaster-General did not give the information sought, but stated that suitable boxes were obtainable from a certain firm at1s. 6d. each. I wished to know if the Government had calculated the cost of these boxes to the community, and the saving to the department by their introduction. I am joining in the complaint - I hold the Minister responsible - submitted by Senator Kingsmill, and repeat that when information on publio questions is sought honorable senators are entitled to a straightforward reply, or failing that, a reason why an answer is not forthcoming.
SenatorPEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for Home and Territories) [6.26]. - In regard to the point raised by Senator Kingsmill, I may mention that Ministers in this chamber only represent the Minister under whom the Shipping Board operates. I shall, however, bring the honorable senator’s remarks under the notice of the responsible Minister in another place, and shall ask that the matter be given attention.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 6.27 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 2 July 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1924/19240702_senate_9_107/>.