9th Parliament · 2nd Session
The Deputy President (Senator Newland) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Following upon the receipt of the report from Sir John Monashon the cost of constructing cruisers in Australia, I desire to ask the Leader of the Senate whether the Government have yet come to a decision on the matter, and if so, what is the decision?
– The Government have not yet been able to come to a decision. The matter is still receiving consideration.
– Will the Leader of the Senate announce the de cision of the Cabinet as to when and where the second cruiser is to be built?
– Assoon as the Government have come to a decision on the matter they will make it known. In reply to Senator Duncan I have already said that it is still receiving consideration.
– Has it been definitely decided to build one of the cruisers abroad?
– The decision to build one of the cruisers abroad was made known by the Prime Minister in another place, and by the Minister who introduced the Defence Equipment Bill in this chamber.
– I should like to know if it was originally the intention of the Government to have both of the cruisers built abroad, and if Ministers have changed their opinion because of the opposition displayed in both chambers to such a proposal ?
– No. It was stated clearly and unequivocally that one cruiser would be built abroad, and that the Government were making inquiries with a view to seeing whether the other could be built economically in Australia.
– On the 22nd August Senator Grant asked what acta of the Commonwealth applied to -
The information desired by the honor able senator is contained in the following statement : -
Air NavigationAct 1920.
New Guinea Act 1920.
Patents Act 1903-1921.
Removal of Prisoners (Territories) Act 1923.
Service and Execution of Process Act 1901-1922
Trade Marks Act 1905-1922.
Treaties of Peace (Austria and Bulgaria) Act 1920.
Treaties of Washington Act 1922.
Treaty of Peace (Germany) Act 1919-1920.
Treaty of Peace (Hungary) Act 1921.
Acts Interpretation Act 1904-1916, sections 1-8, and 11.
Commonwealth Bank Act 1920. Division 1 and Division 5 of Part VIa.
War Precautions Act Repeal Act 1920, sections 9, 11, 12, 13, 20, and the schedule.
Acts Interpretation Act 1904, sections 1 to 8 inclusive.
– Has the Minister representing the Prime Minister noticed in the press that 25 law givers are about to be appointed in Moscow for the government of the world, and that Ireland is to have representation on that body to the extent of one twenty-fifth ? In view of the fact that Australia was very much earlier than Ireland in proclaiming its “ adhesion “ to the Moscow model of universal freedom, will the Government make representations in the proper quarter to see that it has adequate- representation on this new law -giving world-governing body, and that some measure of gratitude is shown to this country for its early loyalty and fidelity to the Moscow “reforms”?
– I am afraid that at present the Government are too busily engaged in doing their best to govern Australia - some people say, with very little success - to bother themselves about the government of the rest of the world.
– Has the Leader of the Senate seen in a report issued, by the Federal Country party parliamentary committee the following paragraph : -
The amendments made by, the Senateto the Commonwealth Bank Bill were dealt with in the House of Representatives this week. The amendments were mostly verbal. . . .
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newland). - The honorable senator is notin order in quoting from a document in submitting a question.
– It is a. short paragraph, and, as the standing of the Senate is involved, I trust that I may be permitted to bring it under the notice of the Minister. Later on we have the statement -
By the adoption of these amendments there has been completed what is regarded as the most constructive and comprehensive piece of legislation Parliament has dealt with for many years.
I want to know if the Minister, in one of his many capacities; will see that some consistency is observed in issuing such reports, and that a modicum of merit is bestowed upon the Senate for proposing amendments which are regarded as vital to a most important piece of legislation
– I am not aware, that the Government can exercise any control over the issue of, reports by the Federal . Country patty’s parliamentary committee, but Itake it that the honorable senator’s purpose is served by drawing attention to the lack of knowledge displayed by those who have been guilty of treating the Senate in the way the honorable senator Has mentioned.
asked the Ministerrepresenting the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will the Government lay on the table of the Senate copies of the communications which have passedbetween the Imperial.Government and the Australian Government in relation to the General Treaty and the Commercial Treaty recently entered into between the Imperial Government and the Russian Soviet?
– It is not customary or desirable that confidential communications of this nature should be laid on the table of the Senate.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Will the Minister lay on the table of the Library all the papers in the departments bearing on the case of Mr. Dunk?
– It is not deemed desirable to lay files of papers, of this description on the Library table; unprotected, but the papers will be made available for the honorable member’s inspection at the House at any time convenient to him.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
-The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister Tor Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Will he lay on the table of the Library all papers in connexion with thebuilding and sale of the s.s. Gunemba atBrisbane?
– Portion of the papers relating to the building ofthe Gunemba are in the possession of the department,and will be made available there for perusal by the honorable senator if he cares to call. The papers relatingto the sale of this vessel,and balance of the file in connexion with the building of the Gunemba are with the Department of Defence.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act-Deter- minations by the Arbitrator -
Nos. 32, 33, 34, and . 35 of 1924 - Commonwealth PublicService Clerical Association, Australian Postal Electricians’ Union, AustralianPostalLinemen’s Union, Line Inspectors’ Association, and Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
Commonwealth Acts - Extended to or applied to Territory of New Guinea, Papua, Norfolk Island, Lord Howe Island, and Nauru Island.
Land Acquisition Act - Notifications of land acquired for Postal purposes in New South Wales at- Bexley, Carlton.
Public Service Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1924, No. 116.
War Gratuity Acte - Regulations amended - StatutoryRules 1924, . No. 118.
Assent to thefollowing bills reported : - Loan Bill.
States Loan Bill.
Defence Equipment Bill.
Debate resumed from 22nd August (vide page 3512)., on motion by Senator Pearce -
That the bill be now read afirst time.
– I desire to refer briefly to the rinderpest epidemic that affected Western Australia some monthsago. I shall not go into the details of the whale matter., since they have already been threshed out in both branches of the legislature. Numerous deputationshave waited on the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) and the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), but the present position is notsatisfactory either to the Government of Western Australia or to those people who have suffered direct losses as a resultof the epidemic. It de quite true that the Federal and State Governments, as soon as the presence ofthe disease became known, acted in concert with the desire to rapidly eradicate it. I think that honorable senators are well aware of what was done. The Federal Government sent officers to the western state, and they acted in collaboration with the officers of the State Govern- ment.Since then representations have been madecontinuously that it is the duty ofthe Commonwealth Government to bear the whole of the cost entailed du the suppression of this disease which, if it had spread, would have not only jeopardized thegreat pastoral industry of Australia, butwouldhave almost ruined it The Treasurer., when in Perth inFebruary or March last, received a deputationthat was introduced by WesternAustralia members.The spokesman, Mr. A. McCallum, the member forSouth Fremantle in the State Parliament, . andnowMinister for Works in the present Western Australian Government, in the courseof his statement, remarkedthat Mr.. Robertson, the officer of the Federal Government, had stated that, if there was opposition to the board’s order for thewholesaleslaughter of herds, he could promptly gettrain- loadsof stock-owners from the other states to assist in enforcing it. The board decided that, in order ito eradicate the disease, this slaughter should take place.
– Does notthe honorable senator think that was the right course to take?
– Yes, and for that season I think that theCommonwealth Government should bear the full cost of that action, whichwas taken on the advice of its own officers. Allthe sufferers obeyed the order.
– When they were compelled to do so.
– There was no compulsion, but there was an idea among many people that the disease was not rinderpest. When the Commonwealth authorities determined that it was rinderpest, all the stock-owners assisted the department in every possible way. The statement by Mr. Robertson showed that this disease had broken out, and that there was a national danger. Mr. McCallum further, said that he believed the northern stock-owners had stated that they were so relieved to know that the disease had been suppressed that, if the Government did not pay for the suppression of the outbreak, they were prepared to give substantial support to the settlers who had suffered. I do not consider that any private individual in the Commonwealth should be called upon to bear any of the cost of the suppression of such a disease. Whilst it was a generous offer on the part of the northern stock-owners, we must realize that there was a national danger, and thus there must be national responsibility.
– Was not the trouble brought about by the carelessness of the state authorities in. Western Australia?
– Neither Senator Cox nor the officers of the department can substantiate such a suggestion. All we know is that the disease entered Western Australia and threatened the great pastoral industry of the whole continent. When Senator Pearce,, as the representative of the Commonwealth Government, returned from Western Australia, he stated, in an interview with the press, that the position had been saved, and that had prompt action not been taken we should have had to say farewell to the pastoral industry of Australia.
– Then how did the disease reach Australia?
– I am not in a position to say.
– Nor is anybody else.
– I do not think that even the experts are able to explain the origin of the disease. A similar outbreak might have occurred in any of the states. We need not bother to inquire how it entered Australia. The main consideration was the prevention of the spread of the disease to the other states. That was the position that faced the Commonwealth and State Ministries. Up ta the present the Commonwealth and State Governments have shared equally in the expenses. Shortly after the last debate in the Senate, the Commonwealth Government advanced another £10,000 to Western Australia as additional compensation for the sufferers, and the Prime Minister suggested to Mr. Collier that Western Australia should likewise pay another £10,000. That is the point upon which we differ. There is general agreement that, at the time of the outbreak, the Commonwealth Government took effective, if drastic, measures to stamp out the disease, and we claim that the Commonwealth should bear the whole of the loss. I doubt if the £10,000 recently advanced will be sufficient to meet all the losses.
– It may not meet all the claims, but it will certainly help in meeting the losses.
– There is a belief that many of the claims were made unfairly.
– Possibly the honorable senator is right, but we take the stand that the whole of the loss should be borne by the Commonwealth. To find out what the losses amount to, we suggest that a board should be appointed to make the necessary inquiries. Its recommendation should be regarded as final. I have here a letter, dated the 24th May, 1924, from the Premier of Western Australia (Mr. Collier). It was written prior to the payment by the Commonwealth Government of the additional £10,000. The letter is as follows: -
With reference to the outbreak ‘of rinderpest in this state, you are probably aware that all claims for cattle slaughtered have now been settled on the basis of fifty-fifty payment by the Commonwealth and the State Government.
In addition to claims for loss of stock, a great number of claims have been sent to the Commonwealth Compensation Committee for economic losses. These amount to £40,000. These losses were occasioned because of the restrictions imposed through the outbreak, under which the movement of stock, vegetables, fodder, bags, or similar things used for the carriage of fodder was restricted; also, in the case of owners of stock slaughtered, by their being deprived of their means of livelihood. It will therefore be seen that these people were caused tremendous loss because of the drastic measures necessary for the stamping out of the disease. As an instance, dairymen were re- quired to keep their stock in paddocks in which there was no feed, the consequence being that they had to hand feed the animals, and, in many cases, these animals dried off because it was impossible to make arrangements to milk them. In the case of fodder, many merchants were, of course, unable to market the produce they had in their stores, the consequence being that they suffered great loss. This also applied to bag merchants, who were unable to dispose of their stock, and, consequently, lost their business for the season.
Numbers of instances could be quoted, but these are sufficient to show that these people are entitled to be compensated in exactly the same way as owners who had their stock slaughtered.
The cause of the outbreak has not yet been ascertained, -
That is a reply to Senator Cox’s interjection - although a special officer was appointed to make investigations. It can, however, be safely said that it was through no fault of this state that the disease arrived here.
As you are aware, the action taken under the direction of Mr. Robertson, the Federal officer, to prevent the spread of the disease was particularly drastic, and its effect practically ruinous to a great number of Western Australians. It is believed that this was in the interests of this state, but it must be realized that had the disease not been controlled and confined to the small areas which were infected, there is no knowing the distance it might have travelled, and the consequence would have then been disastrous, not only to this state, but also to the whole of Australia.
I am, therefore, strongly of opinion that it is a national question, and not purely a state one, and consider that the Federal Government should shoulder the whole responsibility and cost. I am aware that the late Government agreed to acept the offer of the Federal Government as far as compensation for loss of stockwas concerned, but, as stated previously, I believe that the whole cost should be borne by the Commonwealth. In any case, if this desideratum is not possible, I shall be glad if you and the other Federal members representing this state will make strenuous endeavours to obtain from the Commonwealth a recognition of their liability to pay the whole of the amount claimed by those unfortunate people who suffered economic losses because of the rinderpest outbreak.
The contents of that letter ought to receive serious consideration at the hands of the Government. The additional £10,000 will in no way compensate the owners of stock for the losses they have sustained. I have here also a communication from the general secretary of the Australian Labour party, Perth. A similar telegram was addressed to other honorable senators and members representing “Western Australia. It is as follows: -
My executive dissatisfied Federal Government’s proposal re compensation rinderpest epidemic. Strongly urge you do your utmost obtain full compensation for loss due to epidemic.
The following telegram was sent to the Prime Minister by the state executive of the Labour party : -
My executive very dissatisfied your Government’s proposal re rinderpest compensation claims, and strongly urge full payment for losses due to epidemic.
Replies to the above telegrams were received by the executive as follows
From Senator Graham -
Telegram re rinderpest received. Will act with colleagues in moving for reductionitem Estimates or Supply Bill, whichever first.
From Senator Needham -
Telegram re rinderpest compensation received. My last letter to Premier pointed out next action would be reduction item Estimates or Supply Bill whichever first. This course will be followed.
From Senator Kingsmill -
Have already suggested Commonwealth pay whole direct losses, leaving state adjust indirect losses their discretion from money as released.
From Senator Pearce -
I am in receipt of your telegram of the 5th instant reading as follows: - “My executive dissatisfied Federal Government’s proposal re compensation rinderpest epidemic. Strongly urge you do your utmost obtain full compensation for loss due to epidemic.”
Your telegram is receiving consideration, and I hope to be able to advise you further in the course of a few days.
From Mr. E. A. Mann, M.H.R.-
I beg to acknowledge receipt of your telegram of the 5th instant in connexion with rinderpest compensation. This matter has engaged my close and constant attention for months past, and while I regret that the compensation was not greater, I do not think there is any possibility of increasing the amount granted.
From Senator Lynch -
Your wire received. We will doubtless make still another effort for adequate redress. Meantime badly want list of cases of hardships, also reliable details of most pressing ones in order to see how short ten thousand is of covering legitimate claims. We have never had any such information.
From the Prime Minister -
I am directed to acknowledge the receipt of your telegram of the 5th August expressing the dissatisfaction of your executive in connexion with the Commonwealth Government’s proposal regarding rinderpest compensation, and to inform you that the representations contained therein have been noted.
Owing to his temporary absence from Melbourne, no reply was received from Mr. A. Green, M.P. The following letter from Mr. E. H. Barker, the general secretary of the Australian Labour party, was sent to Senator Lynch : - 20th August, 1924.
Senator P. J. Lynch,
Yourwire of the 7th instant in reference to rinderpest duly to hand,and I was pleased to see that you intend to make another effort for adequate redress for those who suffered in this state for the benefit of the community at large.
In reply to your request for a list, of cases of hardships, also reliable details of most pressing ones in order to, see how short £10, 000 is to cover legitimate claims,” I have to inform you that all the claims have been sent along to both State and. Federal Governments and should be on the Federal Goyernment file, so that you will be able to get all this information therefrom.
The outstanding feature of the request of these people for further assistance is that they are anxious that the matter should be inquired into by a board which could deal with the whole of the details on their merits, thereby proving that there is no desire to secure from the Federal Government anything but legitimate recompense for the loss incurred.
We trust you will do your best to have this board appointed for the purpose of redressing a, grievous wrong,, and that your efforts will be crowned with success.
– Does the honorable senator endorse the proposal for a board ?
– I believe that if a board were appointed to inquire into all the legitimate claims the main point involved in the request of the. Western Australian Government would be met. Rinderpest is a national danger and if an inquiry were con-ducted’, the Minister forHome and Territories (Senator Pearce), who visited Western Australia inconnexion with the outbreak, and made- the. statement I have already quoted, should be placed in the witnessbox. The Commonwealth Government have already rendered considerable assistance,, but the State Government, should not be expected to incur a loss The then Premier of Western Australia (Sir James Mitchell) entered into an arrangement with the Commonwealth Government, and if Sir James Mitchell made a mistake, which I believe he did, the: Western Australian Government and those who suffered as a result of this scourge should no be compelled to pay the penality. If the Minister intimates that the Government realize their obligation, and intend to appoint a board to conduct an investiga- tion, I shall be satisfied. But if that assurance is not forthcoming, it is my intention, when the bill is in, committee, to. move a reduction in the proposed vote for the Department of Health to test. the opinion of honorable senators. I believe that the Government are only wait- ing for a direction from Parliament. I do not wish to embarrass the Government, because the situation which has arisen is unprecedented in Australia. Parliament,, however, should give a lead to the Government, so that in the event of a similar outbreak occurring there would be no need to occupy the time of Parliament in debating the matter.
– I desire to direct attention to the scandal associated with the steamer Huddersfield. Honorable senators mayremember that I brought up this matter some weeks ago, when a contract was letby the Government to the firm which now operates the vessel. At the time I directed attention to the fact that themembers of the firm were not Britishers, and that, the vessel which the Government had taken over was quite unsuitablefor the trade in which she was to be. engaged.. I also mentioned! that. the.Huddersfield had been lying in Sydney Harbour for a considerable time, and that, apparently, no one wished to have anything to do with. her. It is true thatcertain structural alterations have been made, but they are of such a nature that they have prevented her from rendering, efficient service.. Originally, theHuddersfield had both steam and sail power, and the structural alterations involve the erection of large deck-houses which resulted in her spread of canvas being, reduced by one-half, and a. consequent reduction in speed.Under the contract, the vessel was supposed to travel at. 6 knots an hour, but over a measured knot in Sydney she was. able to do only 4½ knots. Notwithstanding this, she left for the Northern Territory to take over the running in a particular trade.. At the outset, considerable trouble waa experienced with her engines, and this is supported by the, entries in the ship’s log, extracts from which I have inspected. On the trip to Darwin, her engines broke down on four or five occasions, and, in consequence, she was delayed for days. On her. voyage to the Northern. Territory, she averaged about4½to5 knots an hour, and when she reached her destination was out of commission for some time. When it was announced that she had left as a relief ship to search for survivors from the wreck of the Douglas Mawson, I asked the Minister (Senator Pearce) if it was a fact, as reported in the newspapers, that the vessel had taken from twelve to fourteen hours to cover 8 to 10 miles, and, if so, whether he considered she would be of any real value in the work upon which she was engaged. The Minister informed me that it was most unfortunate that the vessel was experiencing engine trouble, as on previous occasions she had given every satisfaction. I am now informed that this voyage is the first undertaken since she reached Darwin, and that she has crawled along at a knot or two per hour. No one knows where she is to-day, because she is not equipped with wireless. She has been crawling along like a glorified snail.
SenatorFoll. - The honorable senator means a petrified snail.
– The rate of progress has been such as would make any snail ashamed of itself. Whether this vessel will ever reach her destination, Heaven alone knows. This notorious vessel has, in some quarters, been named the “ Shuddersfield.” It is, indeed, enough to make one shudder to think that such a vessel is engaged in important government work. The time has arrived for us to determine whether or not the contractors who control this vessel have not broken their contract, and whether the Government should invite fresh tenders and obtain another vessel to do the work efficiently and with satisfaction to the people of that far-distant portion of the Commonwealth. To them reliable shipping is an absolute necessity. If the contract for the maintenance of a shipping service has fallen into the hands of people who cannot carry it out, or who are employing vessels unsuitable for the trade, it isthe duty of the Government to at once institute an inquiry. If the facts are as alleged - and I have seen nothing to indicate otherwise - the Government should end this contract and call for fresh tenders, so that the people of the Northern Territory and the Gulf country may have an efficient service. I hope that the Minister has some information to give to the Senate of a more reliable nature than that which he supplied in response to the questions I raised previously. I realize that, in these matters, the Minister must rely largely on the reports of his officers. E realize also that those officers are themselves sometimes misled. In this case I have no doubt that they were misled, and that they, in turn, misled the Minister.
– I desire to know what steps were taken by the Government to make known to prospective London purchasers of leasehold sites at Canberra the true position of affairs. We were informed some time ago by the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) that full particulars had been supplied to prospective buyers in London. In that case, I should imagine that they were at least supplied with a lithograph plan, or a rough sketch of the area, or that sufficient information was furnished to enable them to realize exactly the situation of the land for which they might bid. If these people in London Save had the necessary information supplied to them, why has there been such delay in making similar information available to the citizens of the Commonwealth? The Minister informed us some time ago that the first sale of building leases at Canberra would take place on the 25th October. That leaves now only the limited period of two months for the residents in the remoter parts of the Commonwealth to ascertain particulars of the sites that are to be leased. Por my part, I do not blame the officers of the departments concerned for the delay which has occurred. The Minister is to blame if his officers are not in the position to supply the information more expeditiously. In view of the fact that very large sums of money have been voted from time to time for the development of Canberra, no serious objection . would have been raised by Parliament if the Minister had made an appeal for more funds to enable him to promptly place before prospective leaseholders in the Commonwealth full particulars regarding these areas. The Minister has been much too slow in making available the information respecting Canberra. I have again referred to this matter, because I believe it would be to the advantage of this Parliament, and to the people of the Commonwealth, if the Seat of Government were firmly established at Canberra., but it is impossible for any satisfactory progress to be made there until these building sites are made available. We hear sometimes from ill-informed senators on the other side that the bricklayers at Canberra have been “ going slow.” I ask those honorable senators how they can expect bricklayers to build homes for themselves when they cannot obtain a lease of sites for the purpose. The Government’s first duty was to make sites available; but, up to the present, not one building site in the whole of the Federal Capital Territory has been leased and made available for the building of homes. It is true that the Government has completed about 74 cottages at Canberra, but that is a very small number. In the adjoining town of Queanbeyan, greater progress has been made than at Canberra. The slow progress at the Federal Capital is due to the inactivity of the Government, and to its refusal to make building sites available. During this session it is intended to amend the Income Tax Assessment Act. I would welcome the complete evacuation by the Federal Government of the field of income taxation. I do not know that the present Government are prepared to do this, but I understand that they contemplate increasing the ordinary exemption to £300. The exemption should be considerably higher. It should be at least £1,000. It is not realized that a tax on incomes is a direct tax on industry. While the Government seek to encourage industry by the payment of bounties, and by other devices of that kind, at the same time they lay themselves out to penalize individuals whenever they do anything of value to the community.
– If the honorable senator would abolish the income tax, how would he raise the necessary revenue ?
– Before I conclude, I shall give some indication of where I think the revenue can easily be secured. Taxing incomes is such an ancient method of raising revenue that I have not been able to ascertain when it was first instituted. So far as the Commonwealth is concerned it was first adopted during the war, and, at that troublesome period, many extraordinary provisions were inserted in the Income Tax Assessment Act, For instance, it was decided that if any one dared to employ bricklayers, carpenters, plumbers, or any other members of the building trade to build a house for him, and thereby increased the wealth of the community, he was immediately to be pounced upon by the Taxation Commissioner and compelled to pay an annual fine by way of income tax. .The more homes hs built, the more he was fined. I took every possible opportunity to denounce that extraordinary provision, and I am pleased to say, that a considerable time ago, the Senate and the House of Representatives agreed to eliminate it. It was a step in the right direction. The Treasurer is at a loss to understand why the revenue derived from the income tax was reduced by £2,000,000 last year. I can tell him that it was entirely due to the fact that Parliament had the good sense to exclude the building industry from the payment of this tax. The more the income tax is reduced the better I shall be pleased, since taxing a man simply because he renders a service to the community is the very worst method of encouraging industry. I am rather puzzled sometimes to describe our system of taxation. , I rather like to call it our “ glorious system of protection.” Our method is to impose a tax on goods made in low wage foreign countries under the plea that in doing so we are encouraging Australians to manufacture the goods required in Australia. But when we get Australians steadily at work manufacturing these goods, and rendering a real service to the community, by another system of taxation we fine them, not once, but annually in proportion to the amount of the service they render to the community. It is undoubtedly a marvellous system, and I wonder how long it will be continued by this Parliament. However, I am glad that the Government contemplate reducing the income tax in various directions. We are seriously’ informed that the entertainments tax is to be slightly modified, but surely the time has gone by when, for the sake of a paltry £400,000 a year we should continue to tax every person who goes to a picture show. Every- one who renders a service to the community, for which he is paid over £300 a year/ is to be fined for his efforts. It is a marvel to me that this method of taxation has survived as long as it has. I welcome very warmly this little section of work the Government intend to perform before the termination of this session. Every proposal to reduce the income tax will have my support. In fact,
I would welcome the complete disappearance of the Commonwealth from this field of taxation. Some time ago when the taxation offices were amalgamated we were assured that costs would be substantially reduced, but we find they have been substantially increased, and that at the end of the last financial year, despite all the efforts put forward, 279,000 people had not received notice of their assessments. I do not know whether they were large or small taxpayers. The Treasurer has not disclosed that information, but I hope he will do so later.
Senator Thompson seems to be a bit disturbed at the prospect of- not having to pay income tax, and has inquired how I would raise revenue if I had my way. I have on two or three occasions explained what I would do, and I think the time is opportune to make a few remarks in that direction at the present moment. No subject is of such pressing importance as the raising of national revenue. It appeals to every citizen, . because in most cases taxation falls most heavily on the poorest section of the community. We are told sometimes that in so-called freetrade Great Britain conditions are not all they ought to be. It is far from truthful to describe Great Britain as a freetrade country. It has a Customs House which collected large- sums of money last year, and is estimated to collect this year no less than £101,800,00.0. The British Chancellor of the Exchequer anticipates raising during the present financial year the following revenue: -
We are told that there are in Great Britain, as there have been for many months past, millions of men who are unable to secure employment, and yet those persons who dare to employ labour or to render a service to the community are immediately pounced upon by the income tax collector and -fined to the extent of £326,000,000 a year.
It is no wonder that the people of Great Britain are suffering very acutely from unemployment. The “owners” of Great Britain are being called upon to pay only the insignificant and microscopic tax of £1,250,000. We raise more than that amount by the Commonwealth land tax. This year we expect to derive about £2,000,000 from that source. The British Government have decided to make substantial reductions in the breakfast duties,, which, fortunately, are not so heavy in Australia. For instance, it is proposed to reduce the duty on tea from 8d. to 4d. per lb. I am glad to say that, despite all the efforts made in this Parliament by tory reactionaries, the Commonwealth has not yet imposed a tax on tea. It is also proposed in Britain to reduce the revenue from the inhabited house duty by £2,000,000, and from the entertainments tax by £4,000000. There are various other reductions proposed, making a total of £47,943,000. In addition to reducing income taxation, the Commonwealth Government should consider the advisability of substantially increasing the progressive land tax. Unimproved land values have advanced so rapidly in Australia that nobody knows to what the present values amount.
– In Sydney they amount to £44,000,000.
– That is merely an assumption.
– The honorable senator himself is my authority for that statement.
– That, no doubt, is the assessment of the Sydney City Council,, but it is well known that land values in the New South Wales metropolis have increased by leaps and bounds of late years. It is interesting to note that the land-owners in my state contribute next to nothing to the state revenue. There is no land value tax in New South Wales except a nominal one in the western division, which returns something under £3,000 a year. The Commonwealth Government collects about £64,000,000 a year in revenue, and the sum obtained from the owners of land is only about £2,000,000, which is altogether out of proportion to the total revenue. In my opinion, the Government should,, at an early date, bring in an amending land tax bill as a result of which it would be able to reduce income tax substantially and secure, by means of a- straight-out land tax, the revenue thus lost. One of tha first results would be that land would be very much cheaper than it is to-day, since it would not pay to speculate in land values. Instead of the Government having to resume large estates compulsorily for settlement purposes, the owners would be willing to dispose of them at reasonable prices. But that is one of those things which this Government, like all others, is afraid to do. I notice that an effort was made in New South Wales recently to pass a bill for the levying of local rates for water and sewerage in ihe Hunter River district. It was impossible, of course, to get a majority of members of the state legislature to do anything so sensible as that. It would have meant that the people whose land was increased in value by those services would be required to .pay in proportion to the increased value given. It has always been next to impossible to impose taxation on land values, whether for local, state federal, or imperial purposes. Thanks to the excellent work of the late Henry George, and such other advocates of the single tax as Mr. Huie, of Sydney, the principle of land value taxation is fairly well understood throughout the Commonwealth, but reformers are faced with the difficulty that the policy of the country is to obtain revenue through the Customs House for the alleged purpose of providing employment for the workless. The trouble is that it is easy to impose an indirect tax, and direct taxation is distasteful to> governments. It must be recognized that the unemployment problem is just as pronounced to-day in Great Britain as it is in the Commonwealth. There are tens of thousands of able-bodied men in Australia, who are unable to dispose of their labour ou almost any terms, and it is due exclusively to the fact that the lands of this country are held by people who are nob obliged to use them. It ought to bo taught in the public schools that a person who holds land is under an obligation to the rest of the community to put it to fha highest possible productive use. No legislation apart from the taxation of unimproved land Tallies can attain that result. Our glorious policy of protection has always failed to solve the unemployment difficulty, and, in my opinion, it will continue to fail to do so. If it is desired to permanently cure the evil of unemployment, the Government should take steps to see that the value given to the land by the people is annexed for communal purposes. A direct tax on unimproved land values would! mean the return to the people of what they had helped to create. I suggest that the Government, when it bringsdown its taxation proposals in the near future, should limit the present income tax as far as possible - wipe it out, for preference - and bring forward a measure of land values taxation having for its object the making available at a reasonable price of the lands throughout the Commonwealth now held out of use.
– I have a ,sheaf of correspondence from various people in Perth regarding the subject of rinderpest, butT in view of what has been said by Senator Needham, whose remarks I heartily endorse, I do not propose to weary the Senate by reading the letters. It must be patent to the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce), who went to Western Australia to assist in checking the disease, that the sufferers have not been ‘ adequately compensated for the losses . sustained. Much credit is due to Senator Pearce for. what he did ut> to a certain point, and his services are recognized by the people of Western Australia ; but it is felt that the Commonwealth should bear the whole of the cost of- stamping out the outbreak, including compensation for the cattle arid property destroyed. When only one animal on a farm was affected, the whole herd had to be destroyed, although it might have taken 25 years for the owner to reach the -point attained by him. Not only were cattle slaughtered, but sheds, fences, and fodder also were burnt. While I agree that it is difficult to arrive at what is an adequate sum to be set aside for the economic losses, the sum already paid by the Commonwealth is inadequate. I notice that the Premier of Western Australia has stated that £40,000 would be required to cover those losses. But the . sum paid by the Commonwealth Government falls considerably short of that amount. If the disease had spread to the other states, no one can .say what it would have cost the Commonwealth Government to stamp it out. Fortunately, it did not get beyond the narrow confines of the proclaimed area in “Western Australia. No one can say from whence it came, though various theories, have been, propounded. Some1 people hold that it was introduced by cattle others, think, that, the source of infection was imported fodder; others, again, believe that it was introduced in bags, or possibly on the clothing of some persons who had been in contact with cattle infested by rinderpest. Happily it w.as. checked in. Western Australia, but it is quite unfair that the people of that state should be called upon to bear the principal portion, of the burden. Every member representing Western Australiaia the Senate and the House of Representatives believes, that the whole of the cost should, be borne by the Commonwealth.. Several deputations, waited upon Dr.. Earle Page to discuss, the question of compensation. At the time of’ the outbreak, Sir James. Mitchell, then Premier of Western Australia, was prepared to share the expense equally with the Commonwealth, but the Treasurer stated that if the Commonwealth took full charge of the arrangements to stamp out the disease it would be regarded as a national matter, and responsibility for the- payment of full, compensation would then fall upon the. Commonwealth Government.. I trust that other honorable senators will see the justice of this claim,, and do what they can to induce the Commonwealth Government to pay compensation for the whole of the damage done.
Gold-mining in. Western Australia has received a. serious setback in’ recent years, largely because during the. war period those engaged in the industry were. Unable to take full, advantage of. the open market for- the product.. This, subject has been debated on many occasions-. *Ilansard contains speeches, by several honorable senators, including the Minister for Home- and Territories (Senator Pearce) and Senator Lynda,, who had practical Experience on the eastern gold-fields of Western Australia during1 those years when the industry was! flourishing-. If the amount, stated approximately at £2-.000,000’, had’ not been improperly withheld, from the industry as the result of government, action during the war’, it would’ have- been! possible for many companies to develop their properties, amd, by the introduction- of up-to-date: michinery, to work, profitably am£ immense quantity of low grade- ore:.. People engaged ki. other industries, throughout: the Com monwealth were no t hampered as the- mining industry was-. By taking’ advantage, of every favorable turn? in the market, they were- allowed-. to» pile- up huge profits. Some assistance, is. urgently required to enable the. gold-mining industry in> Western Australia to carry on. Although the production of. gold is diminishing, there are still immense lodes of- low-grade ore which, with up-to-date machinery, may be worked’, and provide employment for many thousands of men. Western Australia stands alone as a producer of minerals. The Lake View mine-, which it was thought- had ceased to be a profitearning concern, has once -more become one- of the best mines, in- Western Australia;. With new machinery, it. is now working- new lodes and treating low-grade ores at a profit. Similar assistance to other minding companies adjacent te the Lake View mine- would enable them, to cany on, and’ provide employment for many thousands of men. The other states owe a great deal to the Western. Australian gold1 mining industry. The discovery of the eastern gold-fields of Western Australia did much’ to make Perth’ the city it is to-d:ay. Many of the mines- that are not! now working1 are not beyond redemption1. I have- not the slightest doubt that with a little assistance from the Government most of the mines right along the line of lode could be worked’ again1 at a profit.
.: - The standing, order that enables honorable senators;, on tine- first reading of a Supply Bill, to- deal, with any subject has much, to commend, it’. It enables us to. express’ individual- opinions on subjects which- sooner our - later find public acceptance. Sometimes it takes years of public: discussion to produce- at much-needed reform. Every reform1,, ifr has been well said!,, was once the opinion of a single individual. I propose to take advantage1 of the standing order, and; refer to the way in1 which we are situated, particularly with regard’ to Our. heavy commitments in- the island’s1 iti the far-flung north-eastern seas that’ were thrust upon the1’ Commonwealth a- few years- ago. In my opinion if would have been more- to the advantage of Australia if’ that responsibility . had’ been placed on other shoulders’ than- ours, and I hope, before I resume ‘ my seat, to explain the reason. Our Australian coast line is approximately 12,000 miles, and the fact that we are a mere handful of people should limit our notions about expansion. The Commonwealth should hand over responsibility for the islands in the north-eastern seas to some European power in order that the problem of the Pacific might be faced by people with broader shoulders, longer purses, and greater resources than are possessed by Australia to-day. This may seem a novel proposal. Possibly it does not commend itself to those who labour under the imperialistic idea that to be great we must have more and still more territory - more territory than we have any need for. I feel that, in accepting responsibility for the islands referred to, we made a mistake, and that the burden should be carried by some European power along with ourselves. I speak of a European nation, because I believe a European power is best entitled to grapple with this problem. In the first place, Europe stands for a higher degree of civilization than does any Asiatic power; and, in the second place, strange though it may seem, Europe is one of the most densely-populated parts of the world. We hear a good deal about the over-population of China, Japan, and India. Figures which I have extracted from the Canadian YearBooh put a different complexion upon the situation. They show that, as compared with Europe, Asiatic and African countries are by no means over -populated. The density of population of Europe is 126 per square mile, whilst Asia, which is always brought forward as the extreme example in the matter of over-population, has only 59 persons per square mile, or less than one-half. In Africa there are only twelve to the square mile, or a fractional part of that of Europe. In North and Central America and the West Indies there are 18, in South America 9, and in Australia and Polynesia, there are only a little over two persons to the square mile. Turning to the individual countries of the world, we find that in China the density of population is 111 per square mile; in British India, 225 ; and Japan and her dependencies, including Korea, 297. Taking China as an example of over-population, and comparing that country with European nations, we find that Germany, for instance, has a density of population of 326 per square mile, as against 111 in China. The figures for the other European countries are: - United Kingdom, 388; Italy, 362; France, 184; Poland, 180; Rumania, 142; Czecho-Slovakia, 250; Jugo Slavia, 118; Hungary, 219; Belgium, 654; Netherlands, 543 ; Austria, 199 ; Portugal) 167; Greece, 129; Bulgaria, 119; and Switzerland, 242. In comparing the supposed density of population in China with that of over-populated European countries, we find that there are no less than sixteen which have a greater population per square mile, thus showing that the so-called density of population in China is grossly exaggerated. If we compare Japan, concerning which we hear much regarding over-population and need for room for expansion, we find that that country has a smaller population per square mile than Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Belgium, or the Netherlands. British India has a population of 225 persons per square mile, so that the bugbear of over-populated Asia, compared with over-populated Europe, does not stand. If there is overpopulation anywhere it is in Europe and nowhere else. Australia is closely linked up with Europe, as this continent in a sense owes its existence to European civilization, -research, and adventure. Were it not for the efforts of the hardy navigating Portugese, Dutch, Spanish, French, and British pioneers, who came to the southern seas, and brought forth this continentout of a night of gloom, so to speak, Australia, although under the shadow of the supposed over-populated countries of Asia, would not have been discovered for years. In speaking of Australia I include, of course, New Zealand and the adjacent islands under British control, which territory accommodates only a trifle over two persons per square mile. I find that the total population of Europe is 447,575,000, whilst the European population of Australasia is, approximately, 7,894,000. The combined area of Europe and Australia is about six and threequarter million square miles. If we combine the population of Europe and Australasia the density is about 66 persons per square mile, which is greater than is the case in quite a number of other countries. _It is certainly greater than that of Asia, Africa or America, and most of the countries contained in those continents. We have ample space, and a country discovered and developed, of course, as the result of European grit, foresight, and knowledge, and we have by all acknowledged axioms and standards the right to occupy it. But at the same time while we claim our right to possession because we were the first to discover and develop it, and bring it, comparatively speaking, to its high standard of usefulness, we must not be unmindful of the fact that the burden now entrusted to us. is too great to bear. That is one reason why I am urging that some power, a European power - including America, - for preference, should shoulder some of our problems in the Pacific instead of expecting a handful of people to guard coast lines extending probably, in the aggregate, over 20,000 miles. I am aware of the protection of the British Navy - if it is available. But there’s the rub ! Will it always be available)
I have asked for a return showing the extent to which these islands are a burden upon the Treasury of the Commonwealth, which is, of course, the burden of the taxpayers, and I find that Papua, a rich country, has ever since we have assumed control been left almost neglected. It has not yielded anything to the Commonwealth, and it has been our responsibility to find money to maintain a hitherto profitless possession. I wish honorable senators would carefully consider this question, and ask if it is wise for us to continue to stagger under the heavy burden of keeping guard over that tremendous tract of country in the north-eastern seas. If an enemy were to land in that territory, it would be as necessary and fitting for us to defend those islands as it would be to defend Melbourne or Sydney. We must, therefore, ask ourselves whether it is not fair to invite some European power to assume control of these possessions, and relieve the taxpayers of this country of such a mighty burden, and at the same time ensure their protection. A continent comprising 3,000,000 square miles is quite large enough for us and the generations to follow. From computations made, it has been shown that the Commonwealth is capable of supporting 200,000,000 people, and I seriously ask any person who supports .foolish imperialistic notions, and who is capable of displaying commonsense, if our territorial responsibilities are not already sufficient. In the present circumstances, it is impossible for the Commonwealth to adequately defend such a far-flung frontier, and it is unreasonable to be asked to undertake such a proposition when we are already in possession of a continent capable of maintaining 200,000,000 people.
Is it not about time we faced our present obligations and endeavoured to give serious attention to the question of preparing this country for additional population ? Why should not some European nation, the representative^ of which discovered this continent, be asked to undertake the control of the islands to which I have referred? The nations represented by navigators who. visited this country before Captain Cook raised the British flag at Botany Bay are entitled to some recognition. What the womb of time has in store for us no one knows. The last great war proved that anything may happen, according to the throw of the national dice. The sparseness of our population is not overlooked by other nations, who must say, “ How long are these people to enjoy possession of this empty continent?” They say that we will not allow them to mingle with us, and that we are determined to prevent them from sharing our prosperity. They consider that we have no Godgiven right to remain here. We came here because we found that those small islands in the North Sea were too small for us. We came in search of more elbow room. We said, in effect, to those who are still primarily the owners of the soil, “ You stand aside. You are not turning this continent to its best use.” We told them that, owing to our higher civilization, we could turn the country to better account. But, unless we had had that force in the North Sea behind us, we could not have held it. Even those coloured men, with tomahawks, boomerangs, and poisoned spears, could have held us in check, and probably have driven us into the sea if we had not had the power behind to support us. We occupied this continent only by virtue of the power mentioned which still stands behind us. The people of another nation may come to us and say, “ You have here a vast area of country which you yourselves did not discover. Although the British people have done muchintheway of exploring new lands and climbing high mountains they have not carried the white man’s burden through the whole of the seven seas or through all the continents. You have certainly done your share; but when you drove back the original owners of this country, and showed them how to make a better place of it, you only did what we now propose to do. You have no pre-emptive right to ocoupy this land for all time. We propose now to deal with you as yow dealt with another section of the humanrace at an earlier date.We should not further continue to extend our boundaries by taking, under our control thousands of square miles of additional country unless we, at the same time, take into account the possibilities of the future. The only remedy is to seek another power - one of the European stock - to help us in sharing the huge responsibility that to-day is borne by a mere handful of people. I have spoken in a similar strainon previous occasions, and’ while I have received a little encouragement,I have met with great discouragement. Something should be done to ensure our future safety, and to meet the charge that will eventually be laid against us, namely, that we sat down on our inheritance when we had no right to do so.
If the question of the continuance of the present state of affairs were raised to-morrow at a meeting of the League of Nations, I. doubt whether we would get a favorable verdict. Many European countries arenot so opposed to the colour line as we are. France, our ally on. the battlefields of Europe in the recent great war, does not look on the colour problem as we do. The members of the League of: Nations are not all corn-posed of the Caucasian race, and even among that race there are many nations which arenot friendly to ourideals. Ever since the time of Abraham, men have gone in search offresh woods and pastures new” when the inexorable necessity has arisen. Artificial barriers hold only so long as no determined attempt is made to break them down. If we are to be guided by the experience of the centuries, we must realize that the barrier which we are erecting may prove ineffective when assailed. If I had the power. I would hand over a section of these islands in the northeast to some European nation, and invite it to assist, us in bearing the burden of. the. Pacific. Because we have colonized this country we are entitled to remain here, but only so long as we livesup to our responsibilities .
I desire now to refer to the outbreak of rinderpest in Western Australia. In this connexion, I believe that the Government should loosen its purse-strings, and pay a little more to the people who. have been affected . Western Australia is peculiarly situated] in that she has a long coast-line, and. is. nearer- to those countries from which this disease is most likely to be introduced than are the: other parts of Australia.. For that reason she should have special consideration-. If it is conceded that the Federal Government should bear the whole of the direct losses,, a little more money is needed to discharge its obligation. The Minister in. charge of the House told. us. that ha understood that in. England, and America the direct losses from, rinderpest were paid by the central government..
– Not losses, front rinderpest, but from foot and mouth disease.
– I think that the honorable senator referred the losses through quarantine. On the 25th July, I asked the Minister the following- question : -
The Minister replied -
That shows that, according to the infor- mation then before the Government, the governments of both the United Kingdom and the United States paid for the direct losses incurred, through the. outbreak of, infectious diseases amongst stock.
– Those governments also had direct control.
– I am dealing with direct losses. Senator Wilson, when dealing with this question on the 16th July, said -
The expenditure under ‘(3) and (4), up to the 29th February of this year was £28,896. This has been increased since, and at the 30th April it was £41,106. The Premier of Western Australia estimates the complete total at £45,000, of which the Commonwealth share will be £22,500.
In summing up, he made the total £43,367. The headings, Nos. (3) and (4) referred to by the Minister, dealt with the following: -
On Senator Wilson’s own showing, the total of the direct losses was £45,000, as half the expense of the country patrol officers would be only a trifling sum. The honorable senator said that the Commonwealth had already paid, or had made available, the sum of £7,000, and had promised another £10,000 to meet the economic losses. The whole of the payments actually paid and promised amounted to £39,000, whereas the direct losses,, according to the Minister’s own statement, represented £45,000. That leaves a balance of £6,000, which, I maintain, the Government should pay. Already there has been too much haggling by the Government over this matter. I recognize that a good deal of the blame rests with Sir James Mitchell,, who said that his state would bear half the expense. No doubt the representative of the Commonwealth Government was strengthened in the attitude he adopted by the statement by the then Premier of Western Australia. That statement was, however, an indiscretion. Sir James Mitchell was moved to that decision by his pride in his own state and his wrongheaded hostility to federal action. He merely expressed his own view, and not the .view of the ‘ people of Western Australia. Because of the indiscretion of -their Premier at the time, are the direct sufferers from the outbreak to lose £6,000? That amount should be paid by the Federal Government. ‘If payment is not made and satisfaction given, I shall feel strongly inclined to vote with Senator Needham on this question. There has been no effort to over-state the case, but the position has been set out in the plainest possible terms. That is to say, if the Commonwealth Government are prepared to do what the governments of Great Britain and ‘ the United States of America have done, there is nothing to be said, except to ask them to pay the balance of £6,000. They would then be entitled to declare, “ ‘We have covered the whole of the direct losses. The burden of paying the economic loss amounting to £43,000 will fall upon the State Government; so proceed to your task!” I could labour the case by pointing to the position of the western state, and by repeating that its small population is paying an altogether disproportionate share of the charge. As a matter of fact, they are paying more than is being paid by the more populous state of New South Wales. No one will contradict the assertion that, if the outbreak had spread, the whole of Australia would have suffered. Therefore, it is most unfair to thrust upon the shoulders of 350,000 people a burden which the rich and more populous states of New South Wales and Victoria are not called upon to bear. Every state benefited by the steps taken to bring the rinderpest disease under control, and, asa matter of equity, each state should stand its proportionate share of the expenditure incurred; but, instead of that course being followed, one state only, with a very small population, has had to bear half the expense. I shall vote for Senator Needham’s amendment unless the Government show a more sympathetic attitude, and are prepared to recognize their duty, and stand at least the whole of the direct losses incurred. No other attitude could be taken up by one whose endeavour it is to represent in this chamber the interests of the state that has sent him here. I have always tried to reconcile state interests with federal interests; but in this matter the Government, acting, as I believe, ill-advisedly, because of the attitude taken up by the state Premier at the time of the outbreak, have approached a solution of the trouble in a very penurious fashion. Pressure has had to be brought to bear upon them from time to time to induce- them to give a little here and give a little there, and even with the last £10,000 given in this way . there still remains, in my opinion, a balance of £6,000 to cover the legitimate claims of sufferers from rinderpest in Western.
Australia. I understand that a board of inquiry is now investigating the matter, and if it ascertains that the £10,000 is not sufficient to cover the reasonable and rightly assessed claims of these sufferers, there will be nothing for the Commonwealth Government to do but to meet the balance of £6,000 in respect of direct losses.
– Should we not await the presentation of the report of that board before attempting to force the hands of the Government rather than now, when we do not know that the amount mentioned is sufficient?
– I might be inclined to wait if we had an assurance from the Government that they were prepared then to go into the matter, but if we are to be forced into the position of wringing concession after concession out of the Government under pressure, and if it is a question of proving my allegiance to the state or to the Commonwealth, I must necessarily stand by the state that gave me political birth, and provided me with the opportunity of coming here to be a mouthpiece of public opinion.
-Brockman. - My view is to get the final facts before taking action.
– But if the door is, as I understand, absolutely barred by the Commonwealth, I shall vote with Senator Needham. As I have nothing substantial or authentic to assure me that such is not, the case, and as I regard it as unfair to withhold this money any longer from the sufferers, I feel inclined to vote for the amendment.
– I do not want to look upon the question of compensating sufferers from the rinderpest outbreak as a purely Western Australian matter, or to have regard merely to rinderpest alone. To my mind the point is, “ What should be the future procedure of the Federal Government in connexion with introduced diseases?” Constitutionally, the administration of quarantine is within the sole control of the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth Government should accept the responsibilities that accompany its powers. It behoves Ministers, therefore, in this the first really big case, at all events as regards quarantinable stock diseases, that has come under their purview, to adopt the procedure they intend to adopt in the future. When steps which, as in this instance, cause loss to private individuals, are taken by a central government acting for the good of the whole of Australia, that government should bear the’ whole of the direct losses. But I stop there. I certainly do not think that the central Government should be burdened with the economic or indirect losses.
– What about control?
– If it is the duty of the central Government to keep these diseases out of Australia, it should certainly have control.
– Absolute control?
– Yes, absolute control, and in no place more than in Western Australia, which, as Senator Lynch has pointed out, is peculiarly liable to the invasion of these diseases. As a member of a deputation which waited on the Prime Minister some weeks ago, I suggested that the obvious course to adopt in the present state of affairs was for the Commonwealth Government to bear the whole of the direct losses occasioned by the rinderpest outbreak, and that they should not take into consideration the indirect losses. The direct losses, I understand, amount to £45,000, but, owing to the heroic independence, of. not alone the then Premier of Western Australia, Sir James Mitchell, but more particularly the then Minister for Lands, Mr. Maley, who wanted the state to bear the whole of the direct losses, a compromise was arrived at. I do not think that a compromise is wise in the present instance. It certainly is not, in the light of possible future outbreaks, and because of that I think the time has arrived when a definite line of policy should be adopted by which the Commonwealth should bear the direct losses occasioned by outbreaks, leaving the state concerned to bear the indirect losses, if they are to be borne at all by any government. In this case, as Senator Lynch has pointed out, if the Government pay up the balance of the direct losses there will still be £6,000 to be distributed, at the discretion of the state, among the more deserving cases. Certainly the State Government, because of their knowledge of local conditions, are in a more favorable position to arrive at the justice or injustice of any claims put forward than is the Federal Government, operating, as it has to do, at a very great distance. To my mind, what I have suggested is a fair solution of the problem, not alone in this instance, but in other instances, some of which have already come under my notice during the brief time I have been a member of this Senate. It should be, I think, the duty of the Commonwealth Government to recoup people who, for the good of Australia, have suffered injury in their own private businesses.
I listened with a very large amount of surprise to the remarks of Senator Lynch upon the best method of dealing with those very valuable island possessions of Australia of which he was speaking. It must be evident to any one who thinks on the matter that practically the greater part of the development of the world in future will occur in tropical countries. I think, digressing for a moment, that the man who discovers a preventive or a cure for tropical diseases, particularly malaria, will do a greater economic good to this world than any one else has ever done. As practically the whole of the centre of the northern part of South America, a wonderfully rich, country, and a tremendous portion of Central Africa, also a wonderfully rich country, are awaiting development, and awaiting also those health measures’ which will render their development possible, and as both these countries far outweigh in importance Papua and the Mandated Territories of Australia, I do not think we can be blamed, any more than can the various governments who hold those areas, for retaining possession of them, not for this generation, and possibly not for the next, but, at any rate, for the children’s children of Australia. I venture to say, from what I have already heard, that not this year, nor next year, but in years to come, the Mandated Territories, if we still have control of them, will be one of the most valuable possessions of Australia. Nowhere are there in the tropical regions mountain ranges 10,000 or 12,000 feet high that do not carry on their sides magnificent forests of valuable timber. I have no special reason for saying it, but I believe that the gentleman who has just concluded a forest survey of New Guinea will have news of the utmost importance to give to this country of ours. It will, perhaps, increase a hundredfold the value of that possession to us; and in the interests, not only of the Empire, but also of the descendants of those who inhabit Australia to-day, it is essentially wise that we should not consider for a moment the modern Monroe doctrine that Senator Lynch has put forward for Australia. Rather should we develop as our resources permit those countries which are now within our grasp, and keep them for the use of those who come after us.
– If my proposal were adopted the islands would not be closed to Australia.
– But we should lose control of them. To do so might not be disadvantageous to the islands themselves, but it would certainly be disadvantageous to Australia. As an Australian and a citizen of the British Empire, I do not think it would be advisable to let these lands go - any further beyond our control than they are now. I have nothing more to say on the first reading of this bill. There will be ample opportunities, it appears, for dealing with all manners of subjects later on between now and the end of the session, if indeed the session is to have an end.
– I should like to reply to a few points raised during the debate. First of all, I desire, in reply to Senator Duncan, to place on record a few facts from the file in order to assure that honorable senator that the department has not been quite so stupid as he seems to think it has been in regard to the Hud.dersfileld. Among the gentlemen who recommended very strongly the employment of this vessel in the service of the Northern Territory, and who inspected her - I am not now referring to expert inspection, to which I shall come later - was Mr. Nelson, the honorable member for the Northern Territory, who may be expected to have some knowledge of the class of vessel required for the Territory. He sent me a telegram from Sydney dated the 27th February, 1924, as follows r -
Inspected Hudderfield as possible vessel for Territory trade. Worked in conjunction with launch and barge think her highly suitable. Further, it is a condition of No. 2 tender that the company also supply small vessel 30 or 40 tons. This would secure service to settlers in case of ‘breakdown. It is not intended to navigate rivers with Huddersfield, and prob- ably was on that ground Deputy Director of Navigation reported unwieldy. Necessary accommodation will be installed.
Then again on the 29th February he telegraphed -
I am perfectly satisfied Huddersfield very suitable. Can you spare an bour Tuesday -
I was then about to visit Sydney - to have a look at vessel with me ? Please reply Saturday morning care of your department.
I was unable to inspect the vessel. I do not pretend to be an expert on shipbuilding.
– What experience has Mr. Nelson had in such matters?
– He knows the requirements of the district in the way of shipping, but I am not putting him forward as a shipping expert. I shall read the reports of the experts at a later stage. I point out, however, that Mr. Nelson, who should know something about the requirements of the Northern Territory, was perfectly satisfied. He called on me when I was in Sydney, and he stated that, in his opinion, the vessel was of the exact type required, and he urged that I should obtain a report by experts on its behaviour under way. He suggested Thursday, 6th March, as the date for a trial, and I said that I should try to arrange to have a representative . of the Commonwealth Government present. I instructed the secretary of my department to get into touch with the Navigation Department. At that time the contract had not been let. In due course an inspection of the vessel under way was held, not by private persons, but by our own Navigation Department, whose report, dated Sydney, 12th March, is as follows: -
The Director of Navigation,
Auxiliary Schooner “Huddersfield.”
With reference to the Director’s telegram of the 5th March, it is desired to report tha* the vessel has now undergone speed trials under supervision of officers of this service, nautical and engineering, over the measured mile between Fort Denison and Bradley’s Hoad, Port Jackson. At the time of the trial, the wind wasE.S.E., force 4, and tide two-thirds flood, approximate strength 1 to1¼ knots. Against wind and tide the vessel covered the distance in 10 minutes 50 seconds, that being equivalent to 5.54 knots per hour, and on the return journey with a following wind and tide, the same distance was covered in 8 minutes 30 seconds, equivalent to 7.06 knots per hour. The vessel had a clear run during the trial, and no engine trouble developed. The engineer surveyor reports engines to be in good condition, but fuel tanks are of light construction, and will have to be renewed, this work being now in hand. It is further reported that engine trouble need not be anticipated, provided a skilled engineer is placed in charge of the engines.It would appear that engine trouble previously encountered was caused by the person in charge being unskilled and uncertificated.
The vessel has not yet completed our survey, but on completion a further report will fee forwarded. (Sgd.) G.D.Williams,
Deputy Director, N.S.W.
– Is the vessel fitted with oil engines ?
– Yes. There is also on the file an affidavit as follows: -
I, Henry Charles Bowen, of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, master mariner, being sworn, make oath and say as follows: -
Signed and sworn at Sydney, this 12th day of March, 1924, before me - (Sgd.) E. R. Mosey,
A Justice of the Peace for the State of New South Wales.
We also have on the file the report of the survey made by the Navigation Service, and the pertinent parts of the report,’ bearing on the results of the survey, are as follow: -
NewSouth Wales Branch.
Sydney, 26th March, 1924.
The Director of Navigation.
Auxiliary Schooner “ Huddersfield.”
The survey of this vessel has now been completed, and a certificate on Form S. & S.-3 has been issued to her present owner, Mr: Sidney Moore, 5 Young-street, Sydney.
Deputy Director,. N.S.W.
– I contend that the two reports of the Navigation Department are perfectly satisfactory, and I ask Senator Duncan or any other honorablesenator whether he would not regard them as such, knowing the class of service; required. There is-, no necessity for a fast service. Very few passengers are. carried, and the cargo consists mostly of goods of a, non-perishable nature. It is, therefore, necessary to have a cheap service, and the cost is determined by the cheapness, of the running of the vesselOwing to the reports, being, satisfactory, the tender submitted by the owners of the Muddersfield, which was the lowest tender received,, wass accepted..
– It is only surposed to be an auxiliary vessel.
– That is all. The other vessel is the JohnAlce, which waspreviously in- the service of the Common- . wealth Government. I, therefore, suggest that the strictures by Senator Dunearn! were not: quite fair’ to the department.
It was stated by Senator Grant that full’ particulars had been supplied to London’ buyers concerning building leases at- Canberra. I do not know from what source that information was . obtained, but. it has certainly not come from me or from the Home and Territories Department.Up to. the present no> information has been furnished’ to London buyers. Some time has been spent in the preparation of. the plans, and they are not yet ready. I can assure Senator Grant that the leases will not be sold until sufficient time has elapsed to make the plans: available in. every state of - Australia and also in London-.. If there is any delay in making the plans so available it will only mean that the date of the sale will be put off, for I shall make sure that the sale is not held until the plans have been available for some time. There is another good reason for delaying the sale. Honorable senators are aware that the accommodation available at Queanbeyan is limited-, and there is practically no accommodation at Canberra for the- general public. Since it is proposed tohold the sale on a Saturday, it will benecessary for some- accommodationto be provided. I have tried to find out when the hostel will be ready for the reception of visitors, and I am now informed that it will be available at the end of November: I propose that when- the exact date is known the sale shall be fixed for some subsequent date, so that prospective buyers will be able to obtain accommodation at the hostel as well as at Queanbeyan. It will not be possible to hold the sale on the 25th October, but I do not propose to name a definite date until I can say that it is final. Senator Grant can rest assured that the sale will not take place until there is time for the plans to reach those interested in all parts of the Commonwealth, as well as in London.
– The date of the sale is at present indefinite?
– Yes. I remind honorable senators who do not come from Western Australia, that my colleagues from that state have a slight advantage over me in connexion with the subject of rinderpest, and some of them are quite prepared to take the fullest advantage of their position. I do not blame them. They have not to shoulder ministerial responsibility. They can take up any and every attitude they please on this matter. They will probably score a point, and embarrass me when the next election takes place, but that sort of conduct will not influence me. I have a clear conscience in the matter. If the whole story were told it would probably be found that I had done very much more than any of them towards the stamping out of the scourge. I certainly put forth my best efforts, and, even if the electors of Western Australia do not recognize it, I feel satisfied that I did something in the direction of eradicating the disease.
– The honorable the Minister has been credited with that.
– Those honorable senators can, of course, detract from any credit given to me by saying that I have not done my part in securing that measure of financial assistance that is due to the western state. Let them take all the advantage they can get out of that attitude, but I wish to point out that what Western Australia has suffered by reason of the rinderpest epidemic may be the experience of another state to-morrow. One or two important underlying principles are involved, and unfortunately there may be diseases of a similar nature introduced into the Commonwealth on future occasions. If, when I arrived in Western Australia, I had insisted that as representing the Commonwealth Government
I had gone there to take complete control of the measures to be used in combating the disease, I should have met with bitter opposition from the State Government. I have not the slightest doubt in my mind upon that point. No matter what Senators Lynch and Kingsmill may say to-day, after the event, if I had made such a proposition to the Western Australian Government, they would have most strenuously objected to it. Therefore, I invite honorable senators to consider the position as it then was, and as it would be to-morrow, if a similar outbreak occurred in another state.
– This is the first time that an outbreak of rinderpest has occurred in 25 years.
– Had I taken up the attitude which I have just described, I should have received the same criticism from Senators Needham and Graham as they have now offered, for it would have been the popular card to play.. They would have said that I was interfering with state rights because the responsibility for dealing with the outbreak -had been taken away from the State Government. I can imagine how I should have been reviled had I done that, and how the whole of the blame would have been laid on my shoulders as the representative of the Commonwealth Government. It would have been popular now to criticize me and the Commonwealth Government if I had taken the business out of the hands of the State Government. We should have heard something about the “ arbitrary “ and “ cruel “ manner in which property and stock had been destroyed. We should have been told that, had the rinderpest outbreak been left to the State Government, it would have dealt with it in a more merciful way, and that hardships would not have been imposed upon the people concerned. I can imagine the criticism that would have been hurled at me and the Government if we had interfered with the State Government. But I was not concerned with the question of who should take complete control - whether the Commonwealth or the State Government should do so. I. was anxious only for the prompt adoption of the most effective measures to check the spread of the disease. I did not go to Western Australia for the purpose of getting votes. I knew that, by going across at that time, and by representing the Common wealth. Government in measures that might be deemed necessary for the eradication of the disease, I would lose votes. . I was well aware that whatever was done, nothing would reconcile my position and the position of the Commonwealth Government in the eyes of many electors of Western Australia. Therefore, if I had been concerned about my political safety, I would not have gone to Western Australia at that time, but Would have asked the Prime Minister to send another Minister. I was not the Minister for Health, and,, strictly speaking, it was not my job. It was not to my interest to go to Western Australia and accept what, from a political point of view, must be an unprofitable position. But I did not ask to be relieved. On the contrary, I volunteered to go because I recognized that, in the interests of my own state as well as in the interests of the Commonwealth, prompt action had to be taken to stamp out the disease. I invite those honorable senators who are trying to place me at a political disadvantage over this matter to think over these things, because they ought to be thought over.
– If the honorable senator’s remarks apply to me-
– I do not care to whom they apply. I wantmy position in this matter to be made quite clear.
– The Minister is placing a perfectly unjustifiable construction on the remarks of honorable senators.
– I am not. In justice to myself I must reply in detail to some of the criticism that has been offered to-day. In the first place Senator Graham spoke of the losses suffered by those people whose cattle were slaughtered, and whose property was destroyed. I remind him that they have been compensated. The present claim refers, not to the losses sustained by stock-owners for the slaughter of cattle or the destruction of property, but to what are known as the economic losses which, by the way, include claims for compensation for loss of time occupied in attending deputations to Ministers in connexion with the outbreak.
– An absurd claim.
SenatorFoll. - They are pretty “ hot “ over there.
– No one is standing for that.
– I ask honorable senators not to be led away too much by their- feeling of sympathy for the” people whose cattle or property were destroyed, because they have been compensated on a scale which, apparently, met with their approval. Senator Lynch, in his criticism of the Government, drew an analogy between the action taken by the governments of Great Britain and the “United States of America in connexion with the. stamping out of the foot and mouth disease, and action taken by the Commonwealth and the State Government in Western Australia with regard to the rinderpest outbreak. There is no analogy at all between the two cases. In the United Kingdom there is no division of authority. The Government of Great Britain had complete liberty of action, and when the foot and mouth disease made its appearance in the Mother Country it took all steps necessary to check the spread of the disease. There was no divided control, no divided authority, and no divided responsibility. In Western Australia, on the other hand, when action had to be taken to check the rinderpest outbreak there was divided control and divided authority.
– What about the United States of America?
– The position there was the same as in Great Britain. The Federal Government took all the necessary action.
– The Minister will find that the state governments of the United States of America shared responsibility.
– The state governments there do not occupy the same position as the state governments in Australia in regard to quarantine powers.
– They have concurrent powers’.
– They do not assert the power that the states here claim. Need I remind the honorable senator of what happened during the influenza outbreak in Australia? Will he say that any of the state governments in theUnited States of America would have dared to do what the State Governments did in Australia? During the influenza epidemic the Government of Western Australia seized a Commonwealth train, refused to allow transcontinental passengers to be taken into the coastal districts of that state, and detained them for a considerable time: in Kalgoorlie. ‘Can Senator Lynch quote a parallel case in the history of the UnitedStates?
SenatorFoll. - Did the StateGovernments compensate those people?
– DidWestern Australia pay compensation to the Commonwealth ‘Government for losses incurred through theholding up of a Commonwealth train and the dislocation of Commonwealth railway services? Not a penny.
– As the law stands, a State Government is entitled to do that.
-Iadmit that, but there is no analogy whatever between actiontaken and compensation paid in respect of the foot : and mouth disease inthe United Kingdom and theaction taken in Australia, where there wasdivided responsibility, to cope with the outbreak of rinderpest.. The principleraised in this discussion not only affects what was done during the rinderpest outbreak; it also impinges on the ‘whole question of quarantine. If the states are ‘going to have divided authority in quarantine, then they must also accept divided responsibility.
– A monetaryresponsibility.
– Yes; and the chiefresponsibility is the costof dealing with it. Inconnexion -withthe rinderpest outbreak, the State Government took the stand that, so faras measures for checkin the disease in Western Australia were concerned, it would take full responsibility, and that the Commonwealth should beheld responsible for measures to prevent the spread of the disease to the other states or overseas. Accordingly, within the state, everything was done under the state law by the State Government. The cattle were slaughtered a-nd properties were destroyed under the state law. Every order issued was signed by a state officer under authority of the state law.
– Did the Commonwealth Government issue any proclamation ?
– Yes. It issued proclamations relating only to interstate and Overseas trade.
– Where did Mr. Robertsoncome in?
– He was . a state officer.
– Appointed iy whom?
– By the State Government. He was not a federal officer at all, althoughsome honorable senators appear to think that he was. As a matter of fact, he is a Victorian officer. The CommonwealthGovernment asked the Victorian Government to release him from his duties here,and senthim to “Western Australia to report on the outbreak.
SenatorNeedham. - Undoubtedly,he was then a Commonwealth officer.
– Wait a minute. The honorable senator is over-confident. When Mr . Robertson arrived in Western Australia, the State Government intimated that, as it was dealing with the outbreak within its borders, it preferred to appoint him as its officer. We acquiesced, andaccordingly, Mr. Robertson wasappointed temporarily as a state officer by the Executive Councilof Western Australia. Thus, everythingthathedidwasdoneasastate officer. There wasno reason why the CommonwealthGovernmentshould not have dealt with the rinderpest as a Com- monwealth matter. If the State Government had said, “ This isgoing to be an expensive business. We prefer that you should deal with it,” I was authorized to stake the responsibilityof doingso. The State Government knew that. I told the Premier., Sir JamesMitchell, . but he informed me that the -State ‘Government preferred to deal with the rinderpest as astate matter.Sir James Mitchell has been criticized,but his attitude is quite defensible. He believed that the StateGovernment should maintain its powers undertheConstitution. I venture to say thathonorable senators may get over this little difficulty - they may earn, a little popularity by their stand in regard to the rinderpest outbreak-
– Suppose theMinister leaves that outside?
– I have no intention of doing so.
– Then I shall have to bringin something else, too.
-I, as well as Senator Lynch, have to justify my position, and I emphasize that, had we done as he now suggests we should have done, we should have raised another crop of trouble which, apparently, he does not see at present. We should have been obliged to ask the states to surrender a right which they will never surrender if they can help it, namely, state control over quarantine. Within the last few weeks deputations, including some of the very people who are making all this agitation’ about the rinderpest compensation claims, have waited upon the Minister for Agriculture in Western Australia to urge that the State Government should use its quarantine powers to prevent the introduction of potatoes from Victoria. The Victorian Minister of Agriculture had announced that, in order to relieve the glut in the potato market here, he was making arrangements for a. shipment to be sent to Western Australia, and a deputation of potato-growers - some of them, from districts within the rinderpest area, who have been crying out that quarantine within a state is a federal responsibility - urged the State Government to use its quarantine powers to shut these potatoes out of Western Australia.
– There is no analogy between that action and what was done in connexion with the rinderpest outbreak.
– The honorable senator may make himself right with the potato-growers by saying to them - “ So far as losses due to the rinderpest outbreak are concerned, we stand for federal’ responsibility,” hut when those potatogrowers want to shut out potatoes from another state by the exercise of the state quarantine power, they will not thank him for making this a federal responsibility. Apparently these potato-growers, who suffered as the result of state action during the rinderpest outbreak, and who now stand for federal responsibility in that matter, wish the State Government to take a. different stand in connexion with the introduction of potatoes. They ask the State Government to assert its authority in that case.
SenatorFoll. - They are dealing with the matter in a scientific manner .
– Apparently they take the stand that there must be full and complete federal responsibility in connexion with the rinderpest outbreak, but when itis a question of introducing potatoes or plant’s they say that the state authority must be supreme. I invite those honorable senators who say, off hand, that there was complete federal responsibility in connexion with action taken to prevent the spread of rinderpest, to bear in mind that in any case the Commonwealth Government would not be so foolish as to accept complete financial responsibility without, at the same time,, having complete control. That is the logical step. No responsibility, no control. With responsibility, complete control. Tt is a fact that the Commonwealth did not have control over matters that led to the introduction of the disease in Western Australia. It is quite clear that it was introduced from outside. How did it obtain a foothold in Western Australia except through some Western Australian seaport? The administration of the quarantine’ law in regard to animals was. in the hands of state officers, and there is on record in the departments two cases, within a short period prior to the outbreak of the disease, in which state officers permitted breaches of the regulations, by allowing the introduction of manure and skins from areas known to be infected with rinderpest.
– Was the state officer administering a Commonwealth or a state law?
– State officers were administering a Commonwealthlaw.
– If that is the. case, is not the Commonwealth responsible?
-It was at the request of the state that it had control.
– Is not the Commonwealth responsible?
– The state officers are administering both state and federal laws. There was no federal quarantine officer in Western Australia, and the state officers admitted that certain articles were admitted without reference to the federal authority.
– They were administering a Commonwealth law.
-. - Without seeking permission to waive the- regulations, they deliberately did so-. Senator Kingsmill said that it is not really a question of the position of Western Australia or of the introduction of rinderpest. He said that, as it was one of policy and procedure in respect to the introduction of a disease, the Commonwealth should pay all direct, losses. I asked whether the Commonwealth should have absolute control, and the honorable senator replied in the affirmative. In that respect I do’ not think Senator Kingsmill speaks for the state which he represents, as he will find that there is a strong and urgent objection on the part of the state to Commonwealth control. In some of the states where cotton growing is being undertaken, an insect known as the boll worm has appeared, and the Queensland Government has, under its quarantine powers, ordered the destruction of ratoon cotton. The growers were highly incensed at this order, and asked the State Government for compensation. Did they receive any ? Of course they did not. The Premier of Western Australia is indignant because the Commonwealth does not intend to compensate certain persons in’ Western Australia for economic losses, but I would suggest that he ask the Premier of Queensland if his Government intends to compensate the cotton growers not merely for the direct, but also for the economic losses. Nothing of the kind is to be done.
SenatorFoll. - The Queensland Government has definitely refused to do so.
– Yes. That is a case in point where a state government does nob recognize claims for compensation under state quarantine laws. I ask honorable senators not to commit themselves to this principle of full payment for economic losses without realizing what it involves. Before accepting the statement that the last amount made available is inadequate to meet economic losses, honorable senators should wait until the committee appointed has investigated the claims submitted. I read in the West Australian a statement to the effect that Mr. McCallum, when a private member of the State Parliament and a representative of one of the districts in which the outbreak occurred, attended an indignation meeting in the district, and asked those present to make their claims as large as possible. That gentleman is now a member of the Government. I have also seen the report of a meeting of dairymen and others which was called when it became known that the Commonwealth had made £10,000 available to meet economic losses. The chairman, in opening the meeting, said that a committee had been appointed to investigate the claims, and that he was of the opinion that some of the claims weie-not justified. As that gentleman is closely associated with the agitation, it is not saying too much to suggest that honorable senators should hold their hands until an investigation has been made.
– The Minister is referring to indirect losses.
– Yes. Before 1 left Western. Australia I came to the conclusion that the Commonwealth should pay more in direct losses than had been agreed upon. I therefore asked Mr. Robertson to endeavour to ascertain what amount was required to cover the losses incurred in the destruction of property. He did his best, and arrived at an approximate estimate of £7,000. I induced the Commonwealth Government to make that sum available, but it was found by the committee appointed to investigate the claims that the total amounted to only £4,500. It is quite possible that the claim of £40,000, which includes such items as “ Loss of time in attending deputations,” will be considerably reduced. It may be found that £10,000 will cover all the indirect, or socalled economic, losses. Unless it is desired by some to make political capital out of this question, no further action should be taken until an inquiry has been held. It is not unreasonable to ask honorable senators to wait until the committee, which is a local one, consisting of interested people, ascertains whether the £10,000 is ample to meet all requirements.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia-
Minister for Home and Territories) [5.58].- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
As the Supply granted at the beginning of this financial year to cover approximately two months’ expenditure is becoming exhausted, additional moneys are required during this week to meet the ordinary expenditure of the departments. It therefore becomes necessary to ask the Senate to grant further Supply pending the passing of the Appropriation Act. This bill will cover two months’ expenditure. The total of the schedule to the bill is £2,978,575, compared with the total of the Supply Bill (No. 1) of £4,076,175. The reduction is almost wholly caused by the provision under the vote for Treasurer’s Advance. In the Supply Bill’ (No. 1) £1,000,000 was included mainly to provide for the continuance of works in progress at the 30th June, pending the passing of the Loan
Bill and the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill. The latter has been assented to by the Governor-General, and the Loan Bill has been passed by the Senate. The necessity for financing these works out of Treasurer’s Advance has disappeared, and no provision is made under that vote in the present bill. Omitting Refunds of Revenue and Treasurer’s Advance, the total of the present bill compares with the Supply Bill (No. 1) as follows : - Supply No. 1, £2,826,175; Supply No. 2, £2,828,575; Increase in present bill, £2,400. There are certain periodical payments falling due in September, such as ocean mail subsidy, interest on Northern Territory, and Port Augusta railway loans, &c. Allowing for these payments which only recur quarterly or half-yearly, the provision in the present bill is really less than that granted in the first Supply Bill. The total of the two bills, omitting Refunds of Revenue and Treasurer’s Advance, which is to cover four months’ expenditure, is £5,654,750. One-third of the total Estimates is £5,698,715, so that the amount covered by the two Supply Bills is £43,965, less than one-third of the Estimates. Provision is made in the two measures for ten fortnightly pays, which is more than one-third of the total annual salaries. The total amount of this excess is approximately £430,000, so that the provision in Supply is really £473,000 less than one-third of *the Estimates. The provision made in the bill is wholly for the regularly recurring services of government, and does not include any service which Parliament has not already approved. All controversial items of expenditure are thus excluded from the bill.
– Can the Minister inform the Senate how the export tax imposed on copra shipped from the Mandated Territory compares with a similar tax imposed by the Papuan Administration? I should also like to know whether the Government have given further consideration to the granting of some form of local government in the Mandated Territory, similar to that at present in operation in Papua. Is ii the intention of the Government to bring down a bill to give effect to such a proposal, and also to provide trial by jury in the Mandated Territory?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
– The telephones in the rooms used by honorable senators in this building are attached to the walls, whereas in the offices occupied by Ministers and attendants, table sets are installed. When a telephone service is defective, persons using the line are compelled to remain standing for a considerable period, and I should like to know why honorable senators have to submit to this inconvenience. Of what use is it to vote money if trifling accommodation of that nature cannot be supplied? In the office at Sydney, which is set apart for the use of federal members, it was originally intended to have only one telephone on the wall, and it was only after a great deal of trouble and expense that telephones were fixed on the tables in those rooms. In private offices the telephone is usually placed on the desk of the person who uses it. The expenditure for telephones should be doubled, and in every case the telephone for the use of members should be placed on the table. In the rooms in this building which are occupied by Ministers and the Leader of the Opposition, the telephones are on the table, but in the Senate club room the telephone is placed on the wall in a most inconvenient position, especially when, as frequently happens, an- honorable senator has to wait.
– One telephone only is provided for over 30 members.
– We should have a much more efficient service than is provided at present.
– What does the honorable senator think of the suggestion of a room for each member?
– If honorable senators realized the importance of their position to a greater extent than at present, they would see that better accommodation was provided. I am at a loss to understand why honorable senators do not demand that their services shall be properly recognized, and that the necessary conveniences shall be provided for them. It is a most difficult matter for honorable senators to get anything. - even an increase of salary. Parliament made an unpardonable mistake when it allowed the states to tax the salaries of federal members. Thousands of people inthis country are of the opinion that members of this Parliament do not pay any income tax to the states, but in that they are greatly mistaken. I bring the matter of the telephones forward in the hope that the position will be rectified at the earliest possible moment.
– This is a matter over which Ministers have no control. Parliament House is under the control of the President and Mr. Speaker.
– Then I take it that the sum of £10,610 with which we are now concerned comes under the control of the President or Mr. Speaker, or both of them.
– The honorable senator, shouldmake a speech on the third reading,, when the Deputy President is in the chair.
– The present is the proper, time to make the complaint. This matter affects nine-tenths of the senators in this chamber..
– Then Senator Greene must be. the remaining, tenth..
– I can understand Senator Needham’s views on this matter, ashe, being Opposition Whip, has the use of the table telephone in the room of the Leader of the Opposition. Other honorable senators in the club room, however, have not that convenience. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the proposed vote “ The Parliament, £10,610,” by £610, as a protest against the lack of telepbonic and other conveniences which should’ be supplied for honorable senators.
– Is the honorable senator satisfied with the stationery which is supplied for the use of honorable senators ?
-As one who uses a fair amount of the stationery supplied, I express the opinion that the paper is very unsuitable, especially for typewritten letters. It is far too heavy, and probably costs twice as much as it should. Although I am not an expert in this matter, I know that the paper supplied to honorable senators would not be tolerated1 by a private firm for one moment. I. hope that Senator Thompson will support the proposal to reduce this amount by £610.
– It would add: greatly to the convenience of honorable senators if Parliament House were fitted with a wireless set, in order that honorable senators who happened to be absent from the chamber might hear all of Senator Grant’s speeches, no matter in what part of the building they were in.
– It would greatly facilitate business if the Commonwealth Government could see its way to appoint a number of justices of the peace. A case came before my notice recently, where a document in connexion with a Customs matter required to be witnessed by a justice of the peace. Because the state government had not appointed any of the officers of the Customs Department as justices of the peace, the work of that department was held up. I am not greatly concerned that the work of that particular department should be held up, as I hold that it would not be a loss to the country if it were held up altogether, but I ask the Government to consider the advisability of appointing a number of justices of the peace to facilitate the transaction of business generally.
.- I dtesire to refer to the vessels that are being run by the Boucaut Bay Company to supply the requirements of the Northern Territory. The Minister quoted from a report concerning the Muddersfield, from which it. appears that the Administrator, in view of the report from departmental experts, was justified in assuming that the ship was in a fit and proper condition to go to sea.
– The. engineer may be at fault.
– I am coming to that. I do not wish to reflect on the department’ or on the Administrator, because it is clear that the report stated that the vessel was in a fit condition to go to sea. But in view of subsequent happenings, the Minister should cause an inquiry to be held.
– I shall do so.
– There is. another aspect of. this case. I refer to the supplies for the Macarthur River country, Borroloola, and other parts of the coast..
When tenders were ‘first received -for ‘this shipping service, it was .difficult for any company to submit a tender, ‘because the retirements were not then known. There is, however, one firm in Queensland whose vessels make about fourteen trips a year from Brisbane to Normanton and Burketown, in the Gulf. It would be only a short distance extra for their boats to run to these ports. When I raised this question previously, I pointed out that it was necessary, under the present system, for all merchandise to go first to Darwin, and to be unloaded -there - a matter of ho small expense - and’ then to ‘be ‘sent to the west or the east coast. It would have been better if the main subsidy had been reduced, .and a small grant made to the Queensland company I have mentioned to carry on the service. The company has good boats, and could easily carry the merchandise the extra distance. ‘That would be better than having it conveyed to Darwin, and then transhipped and taken back again. There is a fairly frequent service of boats from Perth to Darwin, which would meet the requirements of that portion of the coast. I should Tike to hear from. ‘Senator Pearce something of the shipping requirements on the Western Australian side .of Darwin. ‘My opinion is that most of the merchandise for that side travels .by rail to the Katherine. River, and thence overland to its destination. The tender submitted hy Burke and Company, of Brisbane, was a fair and .reasonable .offer. But I .am not advocating the acceptance of that or .any other offer. I am simply pointing ‘ out that these are the only people who maintain a shipping service to ‘the Gulf , and that it would have been better for the Home and Territories Department to give them a. small subsidy to extend their service to Borroloola than to maintain, at great expense, a service from Darwin. There would not then have been that shortage of supplies on the McArthur River which, according to the press,, is paid to exist there, although we cannot ascertain definitely whether it. does exist or not. However, we all know that there has always ‘been trouble in providing a satisfactory shipping service io Borroloola. The Minister had,, I venture to say, many sleepless nights trying to unravel the intricacies of the Rachel Cohen tender. It is always doubtful when the Huddersfield or the John
A lee are likely to ‘return to .a port. On the .other hand, the Kallatina and other :boats trading from Brisbane to Normanton get loading “both ways, and I am sua© they could easily extend their service to the McArthur River. and thus provide the settlers there -with fifteen or sixteen calls a year. Such a service would easily satisfy the requirements of that portion of the Northern Territory, and,, as a matter of fact, provide cheaper freights than have how to be paid toy the settlers, who are obliged to obtain their requirements from Darwin. -Senator GRANT (New South Wales) [G. ‘22]. -The Territory of New Guinea, which is controlled ‘ by ordinances approved by the Commonwealth Parliament, imposes an export duty of 25s. a ton on copra. It is a straight-out tax on industry. It is a fine on every one who works. The more a man works, the more he is punished. T understand that a promise was .given -to the planters that, when the price of copra ‘fell., this tax would he reduced. Copra, ‘before the war, was worth anything up to £45 a ton. To-.day it is not worth more than £23 or £24 a ton, but the export duty still remains at ’25s. a ton. On the other hand, copra exported from Papua pays a duty of only l’5s. a ton. No doubt this reduced rate is charged owing to the fact that the Papuan planters, having some little form of local ‘government, are in a position to- make their -voices heard. Unfortunately, the Senate, notwithstanding that it contains a large number of generals and other democrats, has persistently refused to give the pioneers of New Guinea any voice in the framing of the laws which govern them. It is an intolerable position, and I should like to see the present Government replaced hy one that would at least give some semblance of local government to New Guinea. ‘The people there do not ask for much. If they can have trial by jury in a few places, .and if other matters of -a like nature are attended to they “will be satisfied. According to a (communication I have received everything is taxed up. to the hilt. I .-should like the Minister te indicate what steps ‘are being taken towards .a redaction -of the export duty om copra ito .at least .the rate which now applies :in Papua.
I should also Tike to know why the Public Service “Board have paid increments, amounting to £20 each, to -men employed in the accounts branch of the Defence Department in Melbourne, while men holding similar positions in No. 2 division, Sydney, have been refused these increments. Why should men right close to the Public Service Board be singled out for special treatment, while those who are removed from the immediate vicinity of the board fail to get that to’ which they are justly entitled? This condition of affairs has continued for some time. With the millions of pounds placed ar his disposal, why does the Minister mete out this unfair treatment?
– I am sure the honorable senator cannot expect, offhand, an answer to his question. It is impossible for mie to telephone to the Public Service Board and ascertain the particulars of the matter to which he refers. The members of the board are probably at this moment having their dinners in their homes. They have certainly left their offices. If the honorable senator places his question on the notice-paper, I shall furnish him with an answer.
– Very well; I shall place the question on the notice-paper.
– I should like some information in regard to the Royal Military College at Duntroon. I understand that certain overtures have been made to the Government to widen the scope of the college, and turn it more into the nature of a subsidiary university within the capital area. I should like to know, in the public interest, if the Government have any intention of adopting the suggestions made. It seems to me a perfectly good idea to extend the scope of the college in this direction, if it is possible to do so without interfering with the real and actual work for which it was established.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I hope that the Government will give careful consideration to the suggestion that the scope of the Duntroon College be extended so that full advantage may be taken of the excellent educational facilities it is capable of providing. The professorial staff is qualified to a high degree to teach certain foreign languages, mathematics, certain branches of engineering, and quite a number of other subjects. The wider the knowledge gained of the Japanese «md Chinese languages and other foreign tongues, especially by those entering commercial life, the better for Australia. It is regrettable that the services of the staff at Duntroon are availed of only for the purpose of training embryo officers of the Australian Military Forces. When the Federal Capital is established at Canberra, numbers of young people resident there will have to go to Sydney or Melbourne for their higher training unless the door of the Duntroon College is opened to them.
– I can assure Senator Duncan that the subject to which he has referred is receiving the fullest consideration at the hands of the Government. I shall draw the attention of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden) to his remarks.
.- At this, the first, opportunity that has been presented to me, I desire to protest against the action of the Government in reducing the amount to be made available for rifle clubs. It is generally recognized that these clubs do much good from a defence point of view. During the late war there were many enlistments from the ranks of the riflemen, and the clubs throughout Australia offered their services for home defence. If it is not too late, I hope that, since it is intended to increase the expenditure on defence generally, the Ministry will increase the vote to the rifle clubs. . I think that I heard Senator McDougall remark recently that Australians, young and old, should be taught to shoot, and to shoot straight. I hope, therefore, that an adequate subsidy will be provided for the rifle clubs.
Senator WILSON (South Australia - Honorary Minister) T8.71. - I recently had occasion, on behalf of South Australia, to bring this matter under the notice of the Minister for Defence, who informed me that there was no occasion for alarm, since the necessary -provision would be made to encourage the rifle clubs.
– But the vote has been reduced this year.
– That is true. I shall bring the suggestion of the honorable senator under the notice of the Minister.
– I suggest that the most effective way to assist the rifle clubs is to let them have ammunition at less than cost price. The grant should be allocated in accordance with the number of shots actually fired, whether in matches or at practice. If half the money wasted on our “ pretence “ system had been devoted to tho encouragement of the rifle club movement, far better results would have been obtained than we have had under the present system of show and sham. In the old volunteer days in New South Wales, when free railway passes were granted and other encouragement was given, the greatest enthusiasm was displayed ; but since that time it seems to m© that the encouragement of defence has never gone past headquarters.
Senator WILSON (South AustraliaHonorary Minister) [8.121. - I understand that ammunition is now supplied to rifle clubs at much below the cost price, and that a certain number of rounds of free ammunition is also received by them. If it is a fact that the’ clubs are charged for ammunition at a rate above the cost price, I am inclined to agree with Senator Gardiner that it is not the way to encourage them.. It seems to me that it is desirable to have the members of rifle clubs voluntarily taking an interest in the defence movement. If it is not a fact that ammunition is supplied at less than cost price, I shall draw the attention of the Minister for Defence to the honorable senator’s suggestion.
– I desire to bring under the notice of the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral the total inadequacy of the Brisbane General Post Office for the work which it is required to do. I admit that the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron) is endeavouring to have the matter remedied, but it is so serious that unless considerable . improvement is brought, about at an early date, the office will drift into a most inefficient condition. The staff is overcrowded, and consequently there is inefficiency, because proper facilities are not available for the transaction of public business. I urge the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral to see that something is done at the earliest possible moment.
– In the Loan Bill which we passed on Friday, there is an item under the heading “Queensland,” totalling £100,874, and included in the item is provision for additions and alterations to the General Post Office, Brisbane. From this the honorable senator will see that steps are being taken to improve the position.
– I move -
That tlie House of Representatives be requested to reduce the vote, “ Department of Health,. £21,560,” by £1.
I submit the motion as a protest against the action of the Government in connexion with claims for losses in the rinderpest outbreak. Notwithstanding the Minister’s statement during the first-reading stage of the bill, I believe that he has not given that sympathetic consideration to the claims that was expected of him. It is regrettable, also, that he should have construed remarks made by me and other honorable senators as an electioneering placard, and an endeavour to put him in a false position in the eyes of electors of Western Australia. The right honorable gentleman should, and does know, that on every occasion when this matter has been mentioned, either in this chamber or in the other branch of the legislature, special mention has been made of his services as the representative of the Commonwealth Government during the rinderpest outbreak in Western Australia. We all recognize the difficult position he occupies, and I want to assure him that we who criticized the Commonwealth Government in connexion with that matter had not the remotest idea of placing him in a false position. We take the stand that as the stamping out of the rinderpest was a national responsibility, the financial burden likewise should have been borne by the Commonwealth. The right honorable gentleman stressed the point that the outbreak was the result of lax administration of the quarantine laws by a state officer in Western Australia. Every one knows that rinderpest, like any other disease, takes no account of geographical boundaries or quarantine laws. No matter how perfect the administration, the disease might still have entered Western Australia. Senator DrakeBrockman interjected, whilst Senator Lynch was speaking, that we should wait until a certain committee has concluded its investigations. “We have already waited too long, and so far as the main question is concerned, we have waited in vain. The deputation to the Prime Minister was representative of all political parties in the western state, and iu. addition, Mr. Manning, as a representative of the cattle industry in Australia, supported our request that the Commonwealth Government should accept full responsibility for the eradication of the disease.
– I do not think Mr. Manning advocated that the Commonwealth Government should pay the whole of the cost.
– I have not the slightest doubt about what was in Mr. Manning’s mind. I think his idea was that the direct losses should be borne wholly by the Commonwealth Government. I am satisfied also that if Sir James Mitchell had had an opportunity to reconsider his position, he would have done so. I believe that, without proper consideration, he agreed to share the cost with the Commonwealth Government, and I think he now regrets that decision.
– One of the ideals of the party to which I belong is that at the earliest opportunity the present system of federation should give place to unification. The debate on the rinderpest outbreak clearly indicates the necessity for that course. The appearance of the disease apparently followed on the lax administration of the quarantine laws by the Western Australian Government. Action having been taken by the Commonwealth and the State Government to stamp it out, the. people of Western Australia now desire to shoulder the whole of the cost on to the Commonwealth. Quite properly the Commonwealth refuses to be a party to that proposal.
– Did not the action taken benefit the whole of Australia ?
– Probably it did, but it must be remembered that the State Government, through its officers, was responsible for the introduction of the disease. At all events that is my opinion, and as the State Government, in the measures that were necessary to stamp out the disease, claimed complete liberty of action within the state, it should not now expect the Commonwealth Government to bear the financial responsibility. I do not mind the Commonwealth paying onehalf of the cost. That is not out of the way. These persistent demands on the part of Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania for financial assistance from the rest of the Commonwealth should be discouraged. We have been told that the East-West railway, during the last quarter of the financial year, actually paid working expenses, but nothing is said about interest on the money sunk in the construction of that line. I suppose we shall be told presently that the line is a paying proposition, notwithstanding that the other states have to be taxed to make up the interest charges. The Oodnadatta railway is another non-paying proposition, as also is the railway from Darwin. All these lines will involve the Commonwealth in huge annual losses for an indefinite number of years. In my opinion the Commonwealth Government has treated Western Australia, very fairly in connexion with losses incurred through the outbreak of rinderpest. It is absurd that a limited number of people in Western Australia should, in effect, have the power to permit the introduction of diseased cattle, and then having asked the Federal authorities to assist in stamping out the disease, should, at a later date, expect the Commonwealth to make a substantial contribution towards liquidation of the account. It is about time this sort of business came to an end.
– I am somewhat surprised to find that this matter has again been raised. While we admire the enthusiasm displayed by Senator Needham on behalf of certain Western Australian people, we must at the sametime consider the facts. From what I have learned since my return from, abroad, I say unhesitatingly that WesternAustralia is exceedingly fortunate that this matter has been in the hands of theMinister for Home and Territories^ (Senator Pearce), because those who* have suffered in consequence of the. rinderpest outbreak have received a much better deal than they would have if I had been in charge of the negotiations. If Senator Needham peruses the applications for compensation for losses incurred in consequence of the destruction of cattle, and studies the details supplied, I am sure he will admit that some persons are guilty of making false statements. The object of the request h to reduce the vote by £1.
– In order to express dissatisfaction.
– That may be so. The Commonwealth has placed £10,000 at the disposal of the sufferers, and honorable senators are not in a position to fully discuss the matter in the absence of details such as will be submitted to the local committee.
– You have had over a year.
– The State Government is to appoint, or has already appointed a committee. As I have stated, I admire the enthusiasm displayed by Senator Needham, but i trust that he will withdraw his request, and enable the committee to make a report, which I am sure will be a fair one. If its recommendations are not in accord with the wishes of honorable senators the matter can then be further discussed in Parliament. I trust the honorable senator will withdraw his request.
Senator LYNCH (Western’ Australia) £8.34]. - From the reply made by the Minister to Senator Needham, it would appear that the Government have not made up their mind to refuse further consideration of the matter. In view of that fact - if I am placing the right construction on- the attitude of the Government - I appeal to Senator Needham not to insist upon his request. If he adopts the drastic action he proposes, he will, instead of assisting the people whom he considers should be compensated, be placing a handicap upon them. Senator Pearce needs to be reminded of the fact that whenever we took a stand in Parliament or outside in advocating the claims of these people, it was not with the intention of embarrassing him. With regard to his statement that he has done more than his critics, I would remind him that I have behaved in a rather friendly way towards him, and that at the deputation which waited upon the Treasurer I made a special point of singling out the Minister as one who had done well for his state. I also saw that that remark appeared in the West ern Australian press. Following that, when Senator Needham and I discussed a report appearing in the Melbourne Argus, that the Government had come to a final decision - before the last £10,000 was paid - and when the question of the adjournment of the Senate was mentioned, I said that I would refrain from taking any action. When Senator Needham eventually moved the adjournment of the Senate, I said that I did not think it was right to embarrass the Government, and in a secondary sense to em-, barrass the Minister. During the discussion on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate I was surprised, although I- kept in the background, to hear the Minister state that he was pleased that the motion which I regarded as unfriendly had been submitted, because it gave him an opportunity to put the case for the Government before the Senate. If the Minister associates me with the’ critics to whom he specially referred, he is in error.
I appeal to Senator Needham to withdraw his request, because in doing so he will be consulting the best interests of those concerned. I believe this Government should do as the Government of- the United States of America does, and pay the whole of the direct losses, amounting to ;£45,000, of which the Government has paid, or has promised to pay, only £39,000. If the Government will come forward with the balance, and, say that they will bear the whole of the direct losses due to this effort on the part of both Governments, the difficulty will be solved right away. It would be just, and right, and would be holding the balance fairly between the two contesting parties. I remind the Minister that if the paying of this money resulted in the Federal’ Government having a larger share in the quarantine jurisdiction much good would be done. By meeting the expenditure we would be taking from the states the right to perform the work which they refuse to do effectively, and the quarantine power would then be placed upon a proper, intelligent, and enduring basis. The better course to pursue would be to liberally and wholly compensate the sufferers, and then go to the intelligent body of electors and say that as the Commonwealth Government have footed the bill, that Government as the central authority should have the right to claim full quarantine* jurisdiction. When we haggle over matters such as this we certainly warrant the states in asking what right the Commonwealth Government has to intervene. If we divide the responsibility the question of quarantine will be like Mahomet’s coffin, hovering between heaven and earth. It will never be decided.
– If we paid full compensation would we not create a precedent that later might involve the expenditure of hundreds of thousands 1
– Possibly so; but quarantine must be placed on a proper basis. The last £10,000 would not have been paid but for the exercise of pressure. No one is satisfied -with the presentquarantine position, and the matter must be settled. While the federal authorities are haggling over expenditure in this way they are forfeiting their right to administer quarantine laws. I trust Senator Needham will withdraw his request, because I believe that if he does so he will best serve the interests of those who have suffered as a result of the rinderpest outbreak.
Senator KINGSMILL (Western Australia) [8.401. - I think I have made my position in this matter fairly clear. It is not a question of Western - Australia, or an outbreak of rinderpest, and certainly not one relating to the criticism of any particular Minister. I was, unfortunately, absent when the Minister (Senator Pearce) referred to this aspect of the question, but if the Minister considers the incidents of the last few months he will, I am sure, acquit me of any desire to criticize him. I have expressed the opinion I uttered this afternoon on more than one occasion during the last two or three months. I have stated that in Western Australia we should have a proper quarantine system for keeping out rinderpest and other similar diseases, and that that system should be administered by the Commonwealth as the Constitution provides. If the arrangements which the Minister mentioned have been made for the sake of economy, the clashing of state and Commonwealth interests must result, and any direct losses incurred in the stamping out of disease for the benefit, “not of any particular part of Australia, but on behalf of the whole continent, should be borne by the Commonwealth. I have advocated this procedure for some time, and have stated that the whole of the direct losses should be borne by the Commonwealth.
– That is a logical conclusion when full control is given, but in this case we did not have full control.
– Why ?
– Because the state insisted upon exercising its powers.
– Economy was the motive at the bottom of the state having control.
– The state authorities said that they intended to handle the matter.
– Which is contrary to the Constitution.
– They were not legally entitled to do so.
– Yes, they were.
– They should not be. The Constitution provides that matters of overseas quarantine - and this was presumably such a matter - shall be in the hands of the Commonwealth. Surely the Commonwealth should have an efficient staff, particularly in Fremantle and the northwestern ports, to see that diseases of this character are not introduced. I am sorry that Senator Needham has submitted a request which to me appears somewhat ridiculous. If he does not withdraw it, I shall have to support it, but I would sooner he withdrew it, believing as I do that it is the duty of the Commonwealth Government to pay compensation for direct losses, and to leave the indirect losses to be adjusted as they should be by the state authorities. It is my duty as a representative of Western Australia to support the request, but I always endeavour to explain the reason for the votes I give. Iri recording my votes, I do not ask for advice or sympathy. Believing, as I do, what I have just told the committee, I am bound to support the request by Senator Needham unless it is withdrawn by him.
– I should not like it to be understood that the remarks of Senator Grant entirely represent the views of New South Wales senators. If Hansard were looked up, I do not think that it would be difficult to find that in the past I have made statements which coin- cide largely with, those of Senator Grant. If I have changed my views, I can only say in justification that since making those statements I have visited Western Australia. I realize now that the smaller states are at a disadvantage compared with the larger and more populous ones. The states which are deriving most benefit from the federation are those which are the most thickly populated and the farthest advanced. When that fact forced itself upon me, I concluded that in the interests of federation we must get clos,er together, and that the larger states should take a greater interest in the smaller and less populated ones. We should endeavour to avoid even the appearance of injustice, and, even though we may not agree with the representatives of some of the smaller states that injustice has been done to them, we should be willing to consider the case they present. I have not risen to speak on this matter with a view of gaining any party advantage from it. When this outbreak of rinderpest occurred, the Federal Government showed an alertness that I was pleased to see. I make that statement freely. The fact that Senator Pearce himself immediately visited the spot, so that he could deal with the trouble more effectively than from a distance, was proof of the Government’s desire to deal effectively with this outbreak. Nor do I blame Western Australia for insisting on her sovereign rights, and in refusing to hand them over to the Commonwealth Government. Nevertheless, I do not think that the responsibility of wiping out the dangerous disease of rinderpest should be borne by one state.
– Nor was it.
– I realize that. I hope that Senator Pearce will not take offence at my remark. I give the Commonwealth Government credit for what it has done. I think that at the time the Western Australian authorities were quite satisfied with the arrangement entered into at the conference with Senator Pearce, but they probably did not then realize the magnitude of the task before them. It seems to me, however, that the feeling of the people of Western Australia now is that they would be better out of the federation. They feel that, as things are at present, they have the heavy end of the log. I was surprised that Senator Wilson should think that because some extravagant claims were made the just claims should not be met. In this connexion I certainly think that the time is ripe for a law to be enacted to deal effectively with people who make unjust claims against the Government. I am not referring to this particular outbreak of disease only, but have in mind all unjust claims against the Government. Extravagant and unjust claims prejudice the just claims. If a person is tryingto get something to which he is not justly entitled, hoping that it will get through, he should not get off scot free, even though his claim is not upheld. Judgment and costs should be given against him because of the extravagant or false claim he has made. But, the fact that some extravagant claims were made does, not justify SenatorWilsonindealing unfairly with the other claims.Sofar as the stamping out of this disease’ in Western Australia is concerned, I have given the matter a good deal of thought. I have read most of the reports, and, in addition, have discussed the matter with the persons affected, and I still think that there is a possibility that the outbreak in Western Australia was not the dreaded cattle plague.
-If not, it was something just as bad.
– Whatever it was, it destroyed as it went.
– Notwithstanding that I think there is a possibility that it was not the dreaded cattle plague, I still think that the Government was wise in wiping it out, whatever it was.
– Hear, hear!
– There is a feeling on the part of some of those whose stock was destroyed that they were made the victims of the Government’s anxiety to clean the matter up. That being so, the next step for the Government to take is to clean the matter up still further, and pay compensation to the persons affected.
– Would the honorable senator compensate the mallee farmers who have been eaten out by grubs?
– Senator Gardiner will compensate anybody, so long as he is in opposition.
– I do not think my record justifies that statement by the Minister. All these questions I endeavour to discuss as they appear to me. Senator Pearce, because he is in the Government, will turn down the most just claim, even without investigating it. He will take the report of his officers as evidence.
– We did not wait for the officers’ recommendation in this case.
– The Minister has said that while I am in opposition I am willing to pay compensation to anybody. In this chamber I represent a state which comprises 38 per cent, of the population of Australia. Its people pay probably 50 per cent, of the taxes of the Commonwealth. Instead of advocating compensation in the direction indicated by the Minister, I have opposed compensation being granted to the sugar-growers, the banana-growers, and the cattle and beef growers.-. ..Instead of., being the one most anxious to ‘throw ‘money about, I have stood against the interests of my own state in an endeavour to conserve the public money, and to prevent its use to benefit a few private individuals. This . Government, of which Senator Pearce is a member, is prepared to squander the money of the people of Australia to compensate private individuals - provided those private individuals are wealthy enough, and hold sufficient- land.
– There is some compensation in the fact that the honorable senator is in opposition.
– I do not think that the side of the chamber on which an honorable senator sits should affect bis views on a matter of this kind.
– Hear, hear!
– I think that Senator Needham, now that this matter lias been discussed, would be well advised to withdraw his motion. I do not see in it any possibility of a party advantage, one way or the other. During the fourteen years that I have known Senator Needham, he has consistently advocated the interests of Western Australia with a care and a scrutiny that enables him to retain his position in this chamber. Western Australia has always been on the map whilst Senator Needham has been on the floor of this Senate, but that-state almost went off the map when, for a short interval, the honorable senator was not a member of the Federal Parliament. Now that Senator Needham again represents the western state, no matter affecting the interests of , that state will be neglected.
– The smaller states have to keep their end up.
– And to do so they must combine their forces.
– The best represented state in this Parliament is Victoria. She has about ten times the representation intended by the Constitution. The distant, and especially the smaller states, suffer a great disadvantage. I have travelled throughout the states recently, and realize that the larger- and richer states should take care now, before the ill-feeling grows too great, that they do not allow the impression to gain ground that the smaller states ‘are being neglected in the interests of the larger and more populous . ones. Although I am a representative of the largest state, whose people have to pay the largest proportion of the expenses of government, I consider that if the Government errs at all in its dealings with the smaller states, it should err on the side of generosity.
– The Minister for Health (Senator Wilson), and also my colleague, Senator Lynch, have asked me to withdraw my motion, their reason being that I should wait until the investigation committee has completed its inquiry. I point out, however, that had it not been for this debate this afternoon, we should have heard nothing about the investigation committee.
– The Prime Minister referred to it at the same time that he announced that a grant of £10,000 would be made, and that he had asked the State Government to make an investigation.
– I repeat that had it not been for this debate this afternoon there would have been no statement about the investigation committee concluding its report, or-‘of the question of further .compensation being considered. Having heard the remarks of both Ministers, as well as those of other honorablesenators who have spoken in the Senate and in the committee, and despite the fears of my honorable colleague, Senator Lynch, -that if I pressed the motion to a division, I might jeopardize the interests ‘of those people who have suffered, and who are still suffering as a result of the epidemic, I shall take the risk of pressing the motion to a division. I have no desire to embarrass any one, and have no personal or political motive in taking this action. A prin- ciple is at stake, which is far greater than any personal or political advantage which might be obtained. I shall not deal with the matter further at this stage, but with all due deference to. the Minister I do not feel inclined to withdraw my request.
– I should like to know if the matter of compensating rinderpest sufferers is irrevocably closed, or if on further investigation it is shown that the additional sum of £10,000 will not be sufficient to cover legitimate claims, the Government will consider the matter afresh.
– I have already stated that the door is not closed, and that as an inquiry is now taking place the least we can do is to leave the matter alone while it is, as it were, sub judice. It will be time for honorable senators to take action if, when the report comes in from the investigating committee, they are not satisfied that Western Australia is being justly dealt with. Meanwhile I ask them to await the report of that committee with my assurance that the Government will be. prepared to deal with it on its merits.
Question - That the request (Senator Needham’s) - be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I should like some information upon the work that is being done by the Health Department. In round figures, about £5,000 out of £21,560 is to be spent under the authority of this bill on research work in connexion with venereal diseases, tropical diseases, the eradication of hook worm, and on various “sanitary investigations” whatever they may be. The rest of the money is apparently to be spent on salaries and on contingencies. I regard the amount proposed to be spent on research work as insignificant in proportion to the total amount of the vote.
– The serum laboratory at RoyalPark, which is doing excellent work, is provided for under the heading of contingencies.
SenatorGreen. - The laboratories throughout the Commonwealth and the quarantine services are also provided for out of this vote.
– I am glad to get that information, but I should like details of the amounts spent under the various headings.
– I am sorry that more money is not available for research work, and for establishing laboratories which have already been promised. One or two are required in Tasmania, and another one in Western Australia. Every state is expecting laboratories to be established, but they cannot be provided without more money. The serum laboratory, . Royal Park, which was established while Senator Greene was Minister for Trade and Customs, is doing splendid work.
– It is one of the best laboratories in the world, and is doing admirable work.
– This vote also makes provision for quarantine quarters in different parts of the Commonwealth.
– What money is being spent on quarantine and laboratory work?
– At the moment I cannot give the details. The research work carried out by the Health Department is in the interests of the public, and does not touch the medical side.
– A considerable time ago I had the honour to support the presentation to the Senate of a petition on behalf of the Presbyterian General Assembly of Australia, dealing with the New Hebrides condominium. The petition voiced strong objection to the continuation of the condominium as a means for the control of the islands.. As honorable senators are aware, Great Britain and France exercise joint control over the New Hebrides, but it is a most unsatisfactory arrangement from the British and Australian point of view. When the petition to. which I refer was presented, the petitioners were hopeful that some definite action would be taken through the British Government to bring about a conference with France in order to see if some arrangement could not be made by which that country would be induced to withdraw from the New Hebrides, and be compensated in some way for so doing. At least it was hoped that a more satisf actory arrangement would be arrived at than now exists, and I should like to know if recent representations have been made to France through the British Government for a reconsideration of the terms of the condominium. Ministers must know, what every one knows, that the present arrangement is derogatory to the natives of the New Hebrides, and prejudicial to the best interests of Australia. “
– I regret that I cannot give the information desired by the honorable senator. It is very easy to point out the difficulties and disadvantages of the present arrangement. If anybody could suggest a better arrangement than that in operation - an arrangement that would be satisfactory to both parties - the Government would welcome the advice. The position is that neither France nor Great Britain will give up its . claim. That is the difficulty, but what is the way out? I know that the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) had the matter under negotiation when in Great Britain, but up to the time he left the Old Country no satisfactory solution had been found. I am under the impression that he has continued the negotiations, but I am not aware that any finality has been reached. Missionaries and others who have pointed -out the disadvantages of the dual control have not offered a solution of the pro blem. The Government is giving attention to it, but short of asking France to give up her claim, which she will not do, what can be done? It would not do for us to abandon whatever claim we may have, and I suppose France takes the same view. I can only draw the attention of the Prime Minister to the honorable senator’s remarks, so that if any advance is made my honorable friend may be informed ^pf it. I do not think any advance has been made, otherwise that fact would have been communicated to this Government. I am afraid this is one of those thorny questions with which it is exceedingly difficult to deal successfully.
– I am anxious that the matter shall not be dropped.
– It is still being considered.
.- During the last few weeks I have visited some of the military hospitals where one sees patients who have been confined to their beds for as long as five years, and some of whom are hopeless cases. I suggest to the Minister representing the Treasurer that wireless receiving sets, fitted with loud speakers, should be provided at those hospitals for the entertainment of the unfortunate inmates. In the principal cities of Australia .continuous concert programmes are being broadcasted, and it would not cost the Government more than a few hundred pounds to supply listening-in sets such as those successfully installed at the Alfred Hospital.
– The suggestion of the honorable senator is an excellent one, and I shall have the greatest pleasure in bringing it under the notice of the Treasurer. I think I can safely state that all honorable senators will favour the idea.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear !
.- Is the item of £3,000- for the Australian War Museum the first contribution towards the establishment of the institution, and where does the Government propose to locate it ?
, - I think the honorable senator must have been absent from the chamber when on a previous occasion I invited honorable senators to proceed to the Melbourne Exhibition Building and inspect the admirable collection in the War’ Museum.
– I have been there.
– This is the vote for that institution.
– Why not have it at’ Canberra ?
– Before- that can be done, a suitable building is required, and the Government is now calling for competitive designs. A site has been selected at Canberra,, and it is hoped that, by means of an . architectural competition, a fitting design for a building in which to house the present collection will be obtained. .This institution will be the Australian National War Museum. Negotiations are now proceeding with the Sydney City Council for the lease of the Exhibition Building in that city, so that the exhibits may be on view there prior to being permanently housed at the Federal Capital.
– Will the Minister furnish some information in regard to the item, “ Refunds of revenue,, £150,000 “?
– I was hopeful that I should be able to inform the honorable senator that the refunds included refunds of Customs revenue, which is so objectionable to him, for I believe that there are occasions when even Customs revenue is refunded. At any rate, the representative of the Treasury informs me that sums of money paid into the Treasury are at times, for various reasons, refunded. Such repayments are, of course, subject to the scrutiny of the Auditor-General.
Schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without request; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator PEARCE) proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
– I desire to take this opportunity of placing on record my entire disagreement with the action of the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) in further postponing the sale of building leases at Canberra. This policy has been persistently followed. The Government is determined to postpone, as long as it can, any actual building work by private people at the Federal Capital. It is unfair to perpetually crucify Canberra as the Minister is now doing.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Order of the day read for the resumption of the debate from the 22nd August (vide page 3513), on motion by Senator PEARCE -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 22nd August (vide page 3514), on motion by Senator Wilson -
That the bill bc now read a second time.
– Although this is a small measure, from a commercial point of view it is one of the most important that we have been called upon to consider for a long time. The Government is to be congratulated for having brought the measure down. It is the result of long and close deliberations concerning the general terms of international bills of lading. This measure, save in one particular, is the outcome of a conference held at the Hague a considerable time ago, for the purpose- of securing international uniformity in this very important matter. The bill simply’ gives legal effect to the rules that were drawn up at that conference, and which are embodied as a schedule to this bill. The Minister (Senator Wilson), in his second-reading speech, and the Minister who introduced the measure in another House stated that Great Britain had introduced an identical measure. That statement is true, with one very important exception, namely, clause 7, which deals with receivedf or-shipment bills of lading. . Apparently, it was inserted at the last moment. The provisions of the bill which prevent or render null and void any provisions of a foreign bill of lading purporting to oust the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth or state courts are quite right; but I am exceedingly doubtful about the wisdom of including clause 7. The whole position is surrounded by such grave considerations that I hope the Government will not hasten the measure through all its stages, at all events not until, the people who are most deeply interested have had an opportunity to consider carefully its effect. This matter does not concern only Australia. The consequences of what is done may apply equally on the other side of the world. One of the objects of this legislation, which I believe is being adopted by quite a number of countries besides Great Britain and her dominions, is to get absolute uniformity, s.o that contractual obligations under bills of lading, and financial transactions in connexion with goods represented by bills of lading, shall everywhere be uniform. It was owing to confusion and difficulties that had arisen out of extraordinary conditions inserted in bills of lading that this demand for uniformity in our legislation arose. The obligation rests on the Government in a very special way to demonstrate the necessity for its departure from uniformity.
– Is there a special provision in this measure?
– It is not in the English Act, or in bills which are being presented to other Parliaments. It is a special provision which it is proposed toinsert in. our law. The clause reads as follows: -
A bill of lading issued in accordance with paragraph 3 of article III. of the rules shall., for all purposes, be deemed to be a valid bill of lading with the like effect, and capable of negotiation in all respects and with the like consequences, as if it were a shipped bill of lading.
In a nutshell, I think that means that the Government is trying to make what is known in commercial circles as a received for shipment bill of lading - for the purposes of negotiation of foreign drafts, which are drawn very often against letters of credit, but which sometimes are not as good - as good a negotiable security as a shipped bill of lading. I do not think it is possible to do that. I doubt very much whether, in all the’ circumstances, even if this Parliament assented to the proposal, in actual practice it would be of the least avail, for the simple reason that the banks, which are principally concerned with the negotiability of instruments, would not accept a received for shipment bill of lading as a good security. From my own experience, I know that for the last five and twenty years there has been an agitation amongst shipping people, and particularly amongst wool-buyers, to induce the- banks to accept a received for shipment bill of lading as being equivalent to a shipped bill of lading. The banks have systematically, and, so far as I know, uniformly refused to negotiate that class of document.
There is quite a mass of case law dealing with this subject. I am not a lawyer myself. Therefore, I shall leave the legal members in this chamber, who probably know a great deal more of the law than I do, to explain exactly what the case law actually is;’ but, briefly,. I think I can state the position in this way: About twenty years ago there was a case in which the Bank of Victoria negotiated a draft to which was attached a document which purported . to be a bill of lading, but which proved, in the long run, not to be a “ shipped “ bill of lading. It so happened that the goods, to which this bill of lading referred, did not go on the particular ship mentioned, but on another vessel, which went down with the goods. The Bank of Victoria naturally looked to the insurance company to make good the loss, but the insurance company pointed out that the ship mentioned in the insurance policy got to its destination, and that the company knew nothing whatever about any other ship. Consequently the insurance company refused to pay, and the Bank of Victoria lost its case and its money. There was another action very well known in commercial circles. No doubt Senator Drake-Brockman will recall the details. I refer to the Marlborough Hill litigation. In that case the Privy Council decided that a received for shipment bill of lading was a document against which it was possible to hold the ship responsible, but I think the Privy Council definitely refrained from expressing an opinion as to whether the consignee was also a responsible party under that bill of lading, or one of similar character. For the safety and security of those who have monetary transactions based upon bills of lading, it is absolutely necessary that the ultimate liability of the consignees to pay shall be established beyond all doubt. Another famous action, known as the Diamond Alkali case, came under notice about twelve months later.In that case the bank had negotiated a received for shipment bill of lading, and the goods had gone forward. “When the draft was presented to the consignee for sighting and acceptance, he promptly refused to sight it because the documents were not in order. That case did not go to the Privy Council, but it was tried in an English court, and the judge decided that the consignee was not liable to pay, because the document attached to the draft was not a bill of lading but a received for shipment bill of lading. Apparently that is the law, so far as the courts have decided. It is necessary for us to ascertain what a bill of lading really is. A bill of lading has’ certain definite characteristics, and a shipped bill of lading, to which I am particularly directing attention, always isprima facie evidence that the goods have been shipped in a particular ship. A received for shipment bill of lading is nearly always drawn for shipment in a ship or some other Bhip, as the shipping agents may determine. Consequently, it cannot bc regarded as prima facie evidence that the goods have gone in a particular ship. That is of major importance. The bills of lading accompanied by the invoices are attached to the drafts which are sent overseas. Our wool drafts, for instance, which perhaps relate to the greatest commercial transactions with which we have anything to do, are drawn so many days after sight. The object of giving that time is, of course, to enable the consignee, after the arrival of the wool, to make his financial arrangements. He has to pay for the wool, and he may desire to sell the wool for financial reasons, to enable him later to meet his draft. But if attached to the draft he has a received for shipment bill of lading, which is not evidence that the goods are on a particular ship, or even that the goods are actually shipped at all, is he likely to sight the bill .
– The position would be an unfortunate one or a falling market.
– Yea. In the Diamond Alkali case, the real reason why the consignee refused to sight the bill was that the markethad fallen, and, therefore, he did not want the goods. For that reason he took advantage of the technical flaw in the value of the security of the party who had negotiated the draft on him, and refused to sight the draft. If we once admit this uncertainty into contracts of the greatest commercial importance it is impossible to say where it will land us. A bill of lading is the basis of every important contract for the sale of goods internationally. There must be evidence that the goods are there. The shipped bill of lading is representative of the goods themselves. A bill of lading is very similar to a title deed of land. The man who has a legal right to hold a bill oflading has a legal right to the goods.
– It is a. certificate of ownership.
-brockman. - It is more than that.
– Yes, it is more than that. Consequently, it is of supreme importance that there should not be the slightest flaw in the title. If there is a flaw, it renders unsafe all the monetary transactions that take place upon the basis of its security. I do not think there is any doubt upon the point that a bill of lading is the most important document known to overseas commerce. If we introduce an element of uncertainty, risk, or doubt, as I believe we would under clause 7, we shall act very unwisely.
– Brockman. - It would certainly be very unsafe.
– I aeree with the honorable senator. The onus is on the Government to show tho necessity for the departure from the uniformity of the legislation which was the aim and object of the Hague tribunal. Personally, I am somewhat doubtful as to whether the rules, if accepted asthey stand, will change the law in relation to bills of lading. I believe there are some who hold that, for all practical purposes, these rules recognize the received for shipment bills of lading as a sufficient and negotiable security. As a matter of fact, I think the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten), in introducing the bill in another place, said that it was simply to make it perfectly clear that the new rule recognized a received for shipment bill of lading. Let us consider the particular rule referred to. I ask leave to continue my remarks at a laterdate.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
.- I move-
That the Senate do now adjourn.
As honorable senators are aware, the Estimates come before us in the form of the Appropriation Bill, and as that measure is kept back by another place as long as possible in order to retain control over the Government, I ask honorable senators to come to-morrow prepared to discuss the motion for the printing of the budget papers, on which motion they can debate the whole of the financial proposals of the. Government. At present, there is not much business era the noticepaper, but as there may be important bills before the Senate next week, I trust that afterthe Sea Carriage of Goods Bill is disposed of, honorable senators will avail themselves of the opportunity to debate the motion I have mentioned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 9.54 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 27 August 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1924/19240827_senate_9_108/>.