9th Parliament · 2nd Session
The Deputypresident (Senator Newland) took the chair at3 p.m., and read prayers.
-In view of certain unrest in South Australia, will the Government introduce a measure this session to restore the Northern Territory to that state? If not, will opportunity be afforded to a private member to introduce the necessary legislation to achieve that object ?
-No suggestion of the kind has been made by the only authority that could make it, namely, the Government of South Australia.
– Is Senator
Wilson the member of the Country party referred to at a gathering in Collins-street as sitting down with a concertina and playing “Love me and the world is mine “?
Question not answered.
The following papers were presented. -
Audit Act- Transfers of amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council - Financial Year, 1923-24- Dated 17th September, 1924.
Central Australia - Report by Dr. V. Stefansson.
International Labour Organization of the League of Nations - Sixth Conference, held at Geneva, June-July,1924- Reports by Australian Delegates.
Lands Acquisition Act - Notifications of land acquired for Postal purposes -
Gladstone, New South Wales.
Kimba, South Australia.
Papua - Ordinance No. & of1924 - Post and Telegraph.
Public Service Act - Appointments -R. G. Casey and W. Henderson, Prime Minister’s Department.
Railways Act - Reporton Commonwealth Railway operations for year ended 30th June,1924.
WarService Homes Act - Notification of land acquired at Peachurst, New South Wales,
– Has the Government recently considered the advisability of giving in the Senate and the House of Representatives direct representation to the people of the Mandated Territories, Papua, and the islands in the Pacific administered by the Commonwealth?
– The form of government for the Mandated Territory and Papua is a matter that will he considered by the Government during the recess, which it is hoped is not far off.
– Is it the intention of the Government to go into recess before Christmas ?
– With the friendly co-operation of the party opposite, we hope to do so.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers : -
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Wilson) read afirst time.
In committee (Consideration of House of Representatives amendments resumed from 19th September, vide page 4552):
Clause -4 -
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears - “ Registrar “ means’ a registrar in bankruptcy or deputy registrar in bankruptcy. House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit “ or deputy registrar in bankruptcy,” insert “ and includes a deputy registrar in bankruptcy when exercising any of the powers or functions of the registrar.”
Upon which Senator Wilson had moved -
That the amendment be agreed to.
And upon which Senator Gardiner had moved, by way of amendment -
That the words “ or deputy registrar “ be re-inserted.
-(SenatorKingsmill). - The position when the Temporary Chairman (Senator McDougall) left the chair on Friday was that the Minister had moved to agree to amendment No. 1 of the House ofRepresentatives, which amendment is to omit certain words and insert other words. Senator Gardiner had moved to re-insert the words proposed to be omitted, viz., or deputy registrarin bankruptcy. “ I have now toput the question on Senator Gardiner’s motion, The carrying of his motion would not, in effect, be an amendment of the amendment made by the House of Representatives, but a disagreement with that part of such amendment as omits the words “ or deputy registrar in bankruptcy.” The correct and most direct way to arrive at a decision is to put the question - “ That the committee agree to that part of amendment No. 1 of- the House of Representatives which omits the words ‘ or deputy registrar in bankruptcy.’ “ If the committee decides that question in the affirmative, Senator Gardiner’s motion is defeated. The committee can then proceed to a decision on the second part of the amendment of the House of Representatives, which is to insert certain words. I shall now put the question - That the committee agree to that part of amendment No. 1 of the House of Representatives which omits the words “ or deputy registrar in bankruptcy.”
Motion agreed to.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
– If my memory serves me rightly, the committee had decided that the question be now put; therefore, I could not speak upon the question. In what way can I place my view of the amendment before the committee?
– I thought that the honorable senator had presented his view of the amendment proposed by him.
-not in the form in which it has been stated to-day.
– The question now is that the amendment made by the House of Representatives inserting the words “ and includes a deputy registrar in bankruptcy when exercising any of the powers or functions of the registrar “ be agreed to
Motion agreed to.
Clause 6 -
This act shall not affect-
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit “ in, or within the scope of,” and insert “ either expressly or by necessarv implication, in”.
Senator WILSON (South Australia-
Honorary Minister) [3.13]. - I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Paragraph a in the form in which it left this chamber was considered to be too vague. The insertion of the words proposed will more clearly express the intention of the clause.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 12- (4.) Where an official receiver is remunerated by fees and commission only -
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit paragraphs (a) and (b), insert the following paragraphs: - ” (a) if, in respect of any estate, the official receiver is appointed trustee or no trustee is appointed, he shall receive commission as trustee of the estate; and
Senator WILSON (South Australia-
Honorary Minister) [3.15]. - I move -
That the amendmentbe agreed to.
This amendment is consequential upon another amendment to be proposed in clause 133. It is obviously useless to limit the rate of commission payable to an official receiver in the manner specified in the existing clauses if no limit is finally fixed as regards the trustees’ remuneration.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 12 - (8.) The Registrar shall distribute the receiverships of the particular estates among the official receivers in the prescribed manner.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. -
Omit “Registrar,” and insert “Court”.
Senator WILSON (South Australia-
Honorary Minister) [3.16]. - I move -
That the amendment he agreed to.
The court when making a sequestration order appoints an official receiver for the estate. It is therefore incorrect to speak of the registrar as distributing the receiverships. Hence the necessity for the amendment.
Motion agreed to.
Amendments in clauses 15 and18 agreed to.
Subject to section six of this act, all bankruptcy matters pending in any state court or court of a Territory exercising bankruptcy jurisdiction at the commencement of this act may -
in the case of a state court be transacted and disposed of by or under the direction of such one or more judges of the court as the GovernorGeneral with the concurrence of the Governor of the state appoints for that purpose; and
) in the case of the court of a Territory such one or more judges of the court as the Governor-General appoints for that purpose.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit all words after “act”, and insert “may be transacted and disposed of byor under the direction of -
the judge or judges of the court; or
in the case of a state court, such one or more judgesof the court as the Governor -Generalwith the concurrenceof theGovernor of the state appoints for that purpose; or
in the case of a court of a Territory, such one or more judges of the court as the Governor-General appoints for that purpose.”.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
This is an amendment to correct one of those errors which frequently occur in the discussion in committee of so many lengthy bills. Paragraph a was omitted in error when the clause was amended in the Senate.
– The committee is entitled to know why this error occurred. It is impossible for every honorable senator to carry in his mind the effect of a clause upon other provisions in the bill, but the Minister should make a more definite statement. Unless it was intended to leave out paragrapha I cannot understand how it could have been left out. I think that the Minister should say who moved to have it omitted.
– I stated that it was omitted in error. If the honorable senator desires to place the responsibility upon me, I shall take no exception to that being done. Since this bill was first introduced there have been so many alterations that it has been impossible for anyone to follow them all. When the bill was before the Senate, 50 amendments were made, and we have here about 80 made by another place. Possibly 65 of them are of very little more importance that the crossing of a “ t “ or the dotting of an “ i “..I agree with the honorable senator that having regard to the time that this bill has been before us it should be perfect when it finally leaves us.
– It is because I want the bill to be perfect that I desire to know the reason for the omission. I am not desirous of placing the blame upon the
Minister,but I do not know howso serious an error as to leave out a whole clause could have occurred.
SenatorWilson.-It waspart of a clause only.
SenatorGARDINER. - I accept the explanation which the Minister knows, but which he will not tell us.
Motion agreed to.
Clause . 22 - (2.) Subject to rules all barristers-at-law, solicitors and attorneys admitted to practise in the High Court or in any Supreme -Court of a State or Territory may practise and be heardin every Court exercising bankruptcy jurisdiction.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit “barristers-at-law “, insert “ barristers “.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
This is another technical alteration. There is no explanation other than that it is desired by the department.
– Will the Minister explain the difference between “barristersatlaw” and “barristers”?
– I am informed that the meaning is virtually the same, but that the correct word to use in a bill is “ barristers “.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 23 -
The court may delegate to the registrar such of the powers vested in the court (except this power of delegation) as the court deems expedient to ; be delegated to him.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After “ powers “ insert “ of an administrative nature “.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
This clause has been carefully considered from the constitutional aspect: Section 71 of the Constitution provides that the judicial powers of the Commonwealth shallbe vested in a Commonwealth Supreme Court, and in such other federal courts as the Parliament creates, -or courts which it invests with federal jurisdiction. The courts having jurisdiction in bankruptcy under the bill will have certain judicial powers which could only be exercised by the registrar in violation of the Constitution. As clause 23 stands at present, it purports to empower the court to delegate any of its powers, including presumably its judicial powers, to a registrar. It is considered advisable to place the matter free from doubt, and to insert the words referred to in the amendment.
Motion agreed to.
Subject to rules, it Registrar shall have, in addition to the powers which may be delegated to him by the Court under the provisions of this Act, the following powers, duties, and jurisdiction of a Court, namely -
Bouse of Representatives? Amendments. - Omit “ a,” insert “ the,” in sub-clause ( 1 ) ; omit all the words after “ opposed “ in paragraph (c) of sub-clause (1.)..
– I move -
That the amendments be agreed to.
The first of these amendments requires no explanation. It is deemed advisable to omit any provision which purports to give to the registrar judicial powers. With the exception of the first amendment, which is purely an error in drafting, all the amendments proposed in this clause are made with that object.
. The Minister’s explanation appears to be that after this bill has been fifteen years before Parliament, and has passed through this Senate, some one finds out that something which has been passed is probably un constitutional, and for that reason amendments must be made in another place. I. know that the Minister is quite clear in his own mind as to the necessity for agreeing with the amendments of another place, but I am not quite so clear on that point. How could a matter of such importance have escaped the draftsman in the first place, and, later, the legal advisers of the Government? The error must have been detected by some of the keen legal minds of the Labour party in another place. Evidently the various governments during the last fifteen years discovered nothing of a doubtfully constitutional nature in the bill.
– It is seldom that lawyers agree. In a lengthy measure such as this, it is possible that a number of further alterations could be found. A careful scrutiny of these amendments will show that for the most part they affect only the phraseology of the bill. While I agree with the honorable senator that it is a pity that so many alterations have been found necessary, I do not attribute that to any negligence on the part of any one. In none of these amendments are there any alterations of the principles which were discussed and agreed upon by us; all the amendments refer to small details which were discovered on the re-printing of the bill.
Motion agreed to.
Home of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit paragraph (d).
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
The same explanation that applied in the other cases to which I have referred applies also in this case.
Motion agreed to.
Bouse of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit paragraphs (n), (p), (q), and (r), insert the following paragraph: -
Motion (by Senator Wilson) proposed -
That the amendment be agreed to.
– I should like the Minister (Senator Wilson) to give the committee some information concerning the effect of this amendment. Clause 24 relates to the powers that the registrar can exercise, but the amendment made in another place is to include a paragraph reading: - “ To exercise the powers of the court under section 62 of this act.” Clause 62 deals with the powers of the official receiver, and I am wondering whether there will be any conflict between the powers of the official receiver and those of the registrar. The amendment before the committee gives the registrar all the powers contained in clause 62, and if the amendment is accepted, possibly the duties of the registrar will conflict with those of the official receiver.
– I am informed that the insertion of the proposed paragraph is deemed advisable in order to prevent delay when it is necessary to appoint an interim receiver immediately upon the presentation of a petition.
– The functions of the registrar have already been restricted to administrative duties, and this amendment is to give effect to that. It is the policy of the Government to restrict the powers of the registrar to administrative duties, and clause 62, to which attention has been directed, reserves that power to the court, except where the court gives the power to the official receiver.. In order to properly safeguard the position, paragraphs p, q, and r, which relate to judicial capacity, excepting where expressly delegated by the court under clause 62, have been left out.
– I have not yet been definitely assured that there will be any conflict between the duties of the official receiver and those of the registrar.
– There will not be.
– According to Senator Benny’s interpretation of the amendment, it is a question of the delegation of power from the courtto the official receiver. I can understand the delegation of power for the time being, but I should like to know whether there is likely to be any conflict of power.
– I can assure the honorable senator that there will not be.
Motion agreed to.
Amendments in clauses 47 and 52 agreed to.
Clause 66 - (1.) Where a sequestration order is made against a debtor, he shall make out and file . . a statement. . . . (4.) Any person who, by untruthfully stating that he is a creditor or the agent of a creditor of the bankrupt, inspects the statement without payment’ of the prescribed fee, shall he guilty of an offence.
Penalty : Five pounds.
House of , Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit sub-clause (4.) and insert the following sub-clause : - “ (4.) Any person who untruthfully statesthat he is a creditor or the agent of a creditor of the bankrupt and is allowed by virtue of thatstatement to inspect the statement filed pursuant to this section without payment of the prescribed fee, shall be guilty of an offence.
Penalty : Five pounds.”
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
This is a drafting amendment, but those made in clauses 68 and 69 extend the privilege of inspecting the notes of the examination without payment of fees to the official receiver, the trustee, and the bankrupt.
Motion agreed to.
Amendments in clauses 68 and 69 agreed to.
A bankrupt shall not be excused from answering any question put to him on any examination by reason only that the answer thereto may expose him to punishment under this act.
House ofRepresentatives’ Amendments. - Before “ A bankrupt “ insert “ Unless the court otherwise directs “ ; omit the words “ under this act.”
– I move -
That the amendments be agreed to.
It is desirable that the court should have a discretion to excuse a bankrupt from answering any question that may be put to him when the answer may incriminate him.
Motion agreed to.
Amendments in clauses 77, 79, and 80 agreed to.
Clause 84- (1.) Subject to the next succeeding subsection, sections 93, 112, and 122 of this act, the trustee shall apply the estate of the bankrupt in the following order of priority : -
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After “ land “ at end of paragraph (h) insert “ or the aid, development or encouragement of mining.1’
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Mining is of national importance, and it is desirable that the activities of the states should be subject to no checks. It is considered that advances made for the purposes referred to in the amendment should be in the same favoured position as advances made for land settlement.
Motion agreed to.
The property of the bankrupt divisible amongst his creditors . . . shall not include -
House of Representatives’ Amendment. -
Omit paragraph (b ) , insert the following paragraph : - “ (b) policies of life assurance or endowment, except to the extent of a charge on the policies in respect of the amount of the premiums paid on the policies during the two years next preceding the date of the order of sequestration;”.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
It is felt by another place that unless this clause is amended as proposed, it will enable a debtor to defeat his creditors. It has, therefore, proposed to limit the debtor’s contribution to a life assurance policy taken out prior to the sequestration, which may not be divisible among the creditors.
Motion agreed to.
Further amendment in clause 91 agreed to.
Amendments to clause 93 agreed to.
Clause 95 (Avoidance of preferences).
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Add the following sub-clause: - “ (4.) For the purposes of this section a creditor shall not be deemed to be a purchaser, payee or encumbrancer in good faith if the conveyance, transfer, charge, payment or obligation were made or incurred under such circumstances as to lead to the inference that the creditor knew or had reason to suspect that the debtor was unable to pay his debts as they became due, and that the effect of the conveyance, transfer, charge, payment or obligation would be to give him a preference over the other creditors.”.
Motion (by Senator Wilson) proposed -
That the amendmentbe agreed to.
– I regret that the preference provisions inserted by Sir Samuel Griffith in the Queensland act against fraudulent practices have not found a place in this bill. However, this clause is a step towards the prevention of fraudulent preferences, and that fact modifies very considerably my regret that it does not go further. We are certainly not getting all we want in this legislation, but I think it highly desirable that it should be enacted without further delay. If in the course of time it is not found to work too well, or if anomalies are discovered in it, an amending bill can be brought down.
Motion agreed to.
Amendments in clause 97 agreed to.
Clause 98- (2.) After the expiration of twenty years after the date of the sequestration of the estate of a bankrupt, no claim shall be made by the trustee of the estate, to any estate or interest in any land belonging to the bankrupt, and that estate or interest shall, subject to the rights (if any) of any person in possession of the land, be deemed to be vested in the bankrupt or any person claiming through or under him; as the case may be. (3.) Where a banker has ascertained that a person having an account with him is an undischarged bankrupt, then, unless the banker is satisfied that the account is on behalf of some other person, it shall be his duty forthwith to inform the trustee in the bankruptcy or the Attorney-General of the existence of the account, and thereafter he shall not make any payments out of the account, except under an order of the court or in accordance with instructions from the trustee, unless by the expiration of one month from the date of giving the information no instructions have been received from the trustee orthe AttorneyGeneral.
House of -Representatives’ Amendment: - After sub-clause 2 insert the following Bubclauses : - (2a.) Where a doubt arises as to the identity of any person appearing in the title to any property with any bankrupt, any intending or actual vendor, mortgagor or lessor of the property or applicant to bring land under the provisions of any act or state act relating to the title to land, or any resuming or constructing authority under any act or state act may give, to the official receiver or trustee of the estate of the bankrupt as to whose identity the doubt arises, a notice, accompanied by the prescribed fee, containing particulars of the property in question and of the person whose identity is in doubt, and a statement of his intention to sell, mortgage or lease, or complete the sale, mortgage or lease, of the property or to bring the property under the provisions of any act or state act relating to title to land, or to pay compensation in respect of the resumption of the property. (2b.) The official receiver or trustee may, within such time after the date of the notice as is prescribed, file with the Registrar of Titles or Registrar-General or other proper officer of the Commonwealth or the state in which the property is situated, a memorandum in the prescribed form claiming the property in respect of which the notice was given. (2c.) If the official receiver or trustee does not within the prescribed time file, in accordance with .the last preceding sub-section, a memorandum claiming the property in respect of which the notice was given, he shall not be entitled at any future time to assert his title thereto- or make any claim in .respect thereof as against the vendor, mortgagor, lessor, applicant or the resuming or constructing authority, or as against any person claiming under or through the vendor, mortgagor, lessor or applicant. (2d.) The official receiver or trustee may file with the Registrar of Titles or RegistrarGeneral or other proper officer of the Commonwealth or the state in which the ‘property is situated, a notice, in the prescribed form, of withdrawal of any such memorandum.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
This amendment provides a means whereby a vendor may call on a trustee to state whether certain property he has under his control forms part of the estate of a bankrupt. The provision is taken from the New South Wales Conveyancing Act.
– I think we should have a. little more information from the Minister as to why a comprehensive provision of this character was omitted from the bill, and why it has now been found necessary to insert it.
Senator WILSON (South AustraliaHonorary Minister) [3.581.- This bill attempts to bring the bankruptcy legisla tion of six states into uniformity. It ha* been thoroughly discussed by the Crown Law Offices of the Commonwealth and the states, and every endeavour has been made to meet the wishes of the states wherever it has been possible to do so. When the bill was drafted, and submitted to the states, further requests were made by them for ‘the inclusion of provisions. The new sub-clause with which we are now dealing is one of those. It is taken in its entirety from the New South Wales Conveyancing Act.
Motion agreed to.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit all the words after “ information,” line 13, sub-clause 3; insert “no order has been made by the court and no instructions have been received from the trustee”.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
The clause as it stands is incomplete. It ignores the fact that an order of the court may be made within a month after information of the bankruptcy has been given. . The amendment is designed to cure that defect.
Motion agreed to.
Further amendments in clause 98 agreed to.
Amendments in clauses 99, 100, 103, and 106 agreed to.
Clause 119- (1.) A bankrupt may, at any time after be has been publicly examined, or at such time as is prescribed, and shall, whenever ordered so to do by the court on the application of the official receiver or the trustee or in pursuance of this Act, apply to the court for an order of discbarge releasing him from his debts.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After “ trustee “, sub-clause 1, insert “ or a creditor who has proved his debt “.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
The creditor who desires the opportunity to examine the debtor is by this amendment permitted to apply to the court for an order to do so.
Motion agreed to.
Further amendment in clause 119 agreed to.
Amendment in clause 121 agreed to. Clause 133-
Provided, however, that in the case of two or more trustees acting in succession the commission shall he apportioned in such manner as the Registrar determines. (3.) If one-fourth in number or value of the creditors dissent from the resolution, or the bankrupt satisfies the court that the remuneration is unnecessarily large, -the court shall fix the amount of the remuneration.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - At end of sub-clause (1.) insert the following sub-clause: - “ (1a.) Notwithstanding anything contained in the last preceding sub-section the remuneration of the trustee shall, if the creditors so resolve, be a sum of money fixed in accordance with the prescribed scale.”.
– I move -
That the amendment be. agreed to.
This sub-clause will enable creditors to fix the remuneration of a trustee in accordance with the duty he has to perform in small estates for the administration of which he would otherwise not be adequately remunerated.
Motion agreed to.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After sub-clause (3.) insert the following subclause: - “ (3a.) Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, the court may order that the remuneration of a trustee be increased, and may take into account in allowing the increase -
Motion (by Senator Wilson) proposed -
That the amendment he agreed to.
– There appears to be some anomaly as regards the fees. In clause 57 it is stated that the remuneration of the trustee shall, if the creditors so resolve, be in accordance with the prescribed scale, but under clause 58 the court may order the remuneration of a trustee to be increased if special services are rendered, or if special circumstances increase the difficulty of realization. It would be quite easy for a trustee to put up a very good case in support of a request for special remuneration. In my opinion, it would be safer for the fees to be as prescribed in clause 57.
– I think the honorable senator will realize that if a trustee has to travel extensively he should receive extra fees. We may, I think, safely leave this matter to the court.
Motion agreed to.
Amendments in clauses 157, 160, 162, 163, 175, and 177 agreed to.
The trustee of a deed may retain out of the estate, as a remuneration for his care and trouble in and about the execution of the trusts thereof, such commission as is fixedby the creditors, the commission not to exceed Five pounds per centum on the amount realized by the trustee after the deduction of the expenses of realization, but the creditors may fix a higher commission on the collection of book debts.
House of Representatives’ Amendments. - After “ thereof” insert “ such a sum of money or”; omit all the words after “exceed” and insert the following paragraphs: - “ (a) Five pounds per centum on the amount realized by the trustee after the deduction of the expenses of realization, subject to the creditors, by resolution, fixing a higher commission on the collection of book debts; or
where the trustee carries on the business of the debtor, one pound per centum on the turnover of the capital of the business.”
Motion (by Senator Wilson) proposed -
That the amendments be agreed to
– This amendment is faulty in construction, and, in practice, may be capable of wrong application. I can conceive of a case where the expenses of realization might be so heavy that there would bevery little prospect of the trustee getting his commission, but I think that is provided for in other clauses, and I dare say that no serious disability will be suffered by a trustee. But paragraphb is not well expressed. It provides that the remuneration of a trustee who carries on the business of a debtor shall be £1 per centum on the turnover of the capital of the business. The following form would be much better: -
In practice what has been done hitherto will, I have no doubt, be adhered to, so the trustee will not suffer. If I were to move the amendment I have indicated, though I dare say it would be accepted, it might jeopardize the passage of the bill. Therefore, I shall content myself by directing attention to the matter.
– I have considered the clause very carefully, and I am satisfied that it will meet all requirements. For the realization of a business the trustee’s remuneration will be £5 per centum, and for the conduct of the business, £1 per centum on the turnover. There is also the collection of book debts, for which it is customary to allow 10 per cent., but this commission will not be paid in addition to 1 per cent. on the turnover of the capital of a business. The amendment I think is an equitable arrangement.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 191 (Bar to proceedings under part XI.).
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Insert the following new clause : - “191a. - (1.) A deed of arrangement to which this Part applies shall comply with the following conditions : -
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
After careful consideration the clause, in the form in which it left the Senate, was found to be unworkable. There is no new principle involved in the new clause.
– I consider that this amendment is not warranted, and call attention particularly to sub-clause a. Bankruptcy sometimes overtakes the artisan as well as the wealthy man. To put down the sum of £50 to cover all the contingencies referred to in the sub-clause is ridiculous. The kit of tools required by a carpenter could not be purchased to-day under £75 or £100. If £50 only is allowed, a man may have his tools of trade taken from him, and he will thus be unable to recover himself. He may have become bankrupt through circumstances entirely beyond his control, but under this new clause he would have no means of remedying his unfortunate positon.
– In some of the states a man is allowed to retain tools to the value of only £30.
SenatorNEEDHAM.- This is a national bill, and justice should be meted out to all concerned. I appeal to the committee to make the sum £100so that an artisan may have an opportunity to recover himself should he unfortunately become bankrupt. In addition to tools of trade, household furniture, and wearing apparel are included in the sub-clause.
– This clause deals only with deeds of arrangement, and not with ordinary cases of bankruptcy.
– The effect is the same, even if it is a deed of arrangement. A man should be given a chance to make a living and to meet his liabilities. Honorable senators will recognize that to allow £50 for household furniture and wearing apparel for the debtor and the members of his family, as well as for tools and implements of trade, is altogether imadequate. I move -
That the House of Representatives’ amendment be’ amended by leaving out the word “ Fifty,” paragraph o, sub-section 1, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words ‘’ One hundred.”
– I ask the honorable senator to read the latter portion of paragraph a, especially the words “ and such other household furniture as a majority of the creditors may by resolution determine “. I have attended many meetings of creditors, but I have never yet seen a man who has become insolvent through misfortune interfered with so far as the articles mentioned in paragraph a are concerned. In my experience creditors have always dealt leniently with a man who has been overtaken by misfortune. We should not, however, protect a man who is not “ playing the game.”
.- The words “ household furniture “ do not include tools or implements of trade. A man may have a piano worth more than £50.
– Does the honorable senator think that a man who becomes .insolvent should be allowed to retain his piano ?
– I .remind the Minister that tools or implements of trade are not household furniture. While creditors may not deal harshly with o debtor, I do not want him to be left to their mercy to the extent that he will bo unable to make good. If we accept the argument of the Minister we should not mention any sum at all, but leave it entirely to the creditors to deal fairly and leniently with the debtor. But having stated a sura, it could as well be made £100 as £50. The Minister has adduced no solid argument against my amendment. It is my intention to test the feeling of the committee on this matter.
– The amount provided in the paragraph is a liberal allowance. If it is doubled, as desired by Senator Needham, there will be nothing left for the; creditors in. many instances. The amendment opens the way for abuses to creep in. I know the class of debtor which the honorable senator has in mind, but there are very few cases of bona fide workers appearing before the Insolvency Court. Where they have so appeared, my experience has been that their tools of trade have been granted to them. In an estate where the assests are not -large - say, £150 or £200 - to exempt goods to the value of £100 would leave little or nothing for the creditors.
– I ask the Minister to accept the amendment. I do that because of an interjection by Senator Benny, that in some of the state acts the amount allowed an insolvent in respect of tools of trade is £30. When those acts were passed, £30 would purchase more than £100 to-day. What a tradesman could buy 25 years ago for 5s. would cost him 25s. to-day. At the close of my apprenticeship, after having served my . employer day and night for five years, I purchased a Mathieson smoothing plane for 4s. 9d. Recently I went into the establishment of one of the biggest firms in Sydney, and saw a similar plane offered for sale for 23s. 9d., and it was marked in the window as being specially cheap. That shows that we should not be acting generously iu making the amount £100, as compared with the provision of £30 when the acts to which the honorable senator has referred were passed. The clause does not exempt tools of trade to the value of £50, that amount also covers furniture and wearing apparel. It’ will operate most harshly on the man with the largest family. To provide furniture and clothing for a large family would cost a great deal more than £50, to say nothing of the value of a man’s kit of tools. What is left of my own kit could not be purchased to-day for £100. I da not see why the Minister should hesitate to accept the amendment. I admit that some insolvents are “ crooks,” but because of that we should not penalize the man who is endeavouring to “play the game.” Our present competitive system gives an advantage to the man who is not “playing the game.
– That does- not agree with the adage that “honesty is the best policy,”
– Honesty is not honesty if it is exercised only because it is the best policy. To be honest because it is profitable is not honesty at ali. This clause will not prevent a “crook” beating his creditors. Such a person will have neither tools of trade nor furniture. The “ crook “ gets off because he makes provision for escape. The person who will be affected is the honest man who is overtaken by misfortune, and who pays to his creditors all that he can. Most of .the poor are honest. We often hear it said of a person that he is “poor, but honest,” but wo never hear the term, “rich, but honest.” Many are poor because they are honest, and I think I can say that others are honest because they are poor. The amendment should be accepted by the committee because to-day £100 would not purchase more than could be purchased with £20 or £30 fifteen or twenty years ago, owing to the increased cost of commodities. It is easy to imagine the cost incurred by a father of seven or eight children in providing household furniture, clothing, and tools of trade. Some deserving men have failed because they have backed a bill for a friend, believing that it would be met when payment was due, and others because they have been depending on a crop which proved a failure. If we were to make the amount £100 instead of £50 the debtor would be in about the same position that a debtor was in some years ago, when commodities were obtainable at a lower rate.
– It was originally £20.
– Even if that were so, in view of all the circumstances, there is no reason why the amount should not be increased five-fold.
– Other amounts would have to be increased correspondingly.
– I do not mind what increases are made in other directions. I do not think honorable senators realize that this sum of £50 covers household furniture, wearing apparel of the debtor and his family, as well as tools or implements of trade, and other like necessaries;
– The honorable senator should peruse the remainder of the proposed new clause.
– I understand that the creditors can permit, a debtor to retain furniture of - a higher value, but with a limit of £50 to cover wearing apparel, household furniture, and tools of trade, very little assistance is being afforded him. Under our present wicked system of society the frail in our midst are comparable with the weakest cattle in periods of drought - they are forced to the ground. A few years ago working men could rent a dwelling for from 12s. to 14s. a week, but to-day the cost of a similar habitation is 30s. or 40s. per week. In these circumstances a debtor should not be stripped of everything likely to be of any value to him. Under our bankruptcy and other laws, little protection is afforded the wife, who I think, should possess one-half of these assets because she has done her share in endeavouring to get the home together. There is, I know, a provision whereby the creditors can allow the debtor more if they so desire, but the needy or the greedy creditors will in some instances outvote the others, and extract the last shilling from the unfortunate debtor. I trust the Minister will agree to the amendment submitted by Senator Needham, particularly in view of the extra cost involved in replacing furniture and tools of trade. It will, of course, be said by some that debtors should exercise due precaution, and avoid getting into financial difficulties, but many people get into difficulties in endeavouring, to avoid them. I intend to support the amendment because I think £100 to-day represents only a little more than did £20 or £30 some twenty years ago.
– Senator Gardiner has apparently overlooked the fact that in this instance we are dealing only with a deed of arrangement, and that a deed of arrangement cannot be enforced without the debtor’s consent. This clause does not take away the protection afforded the debtor by other provisions of the bill ; it must be assumed that anything done under this provision must be done with the debtor’s consent. A debtor can safeguard himself by saying that he requires certain tools of trade and other articles to enable him to earn his living and to provide for his family. If thecreditors do not protect him in that way he can refuse to enter into a deed of arrangement. If that were done the creditors would then have to take proceedings in bankruptcy. The debtoris protected in another clause which deals with tools of trade and furniture, which do not enter into the distribution. I direct Senator Gardiner’s attention to the fact that an alteration of the amount is not so important when we remember that under a deed of arrangement the debtor has the right to say what shall and what shall not be included.
.- The Minister (Senator Pearce) stated that the proposed new clause deals with a deed of arrangement, but it is clearly stipulated that furniture, wearing apparel, and tools of trade to the value of only £50 shall be protected with a view to prevent bankruptcy court proceedings. To all intents and purposes the person concerned would be a bankrupt as he would be seeking an arrangement with his creditors. The debtor informs his creditors that he wishes to retain furniture, wearing apparel, and tools of trade to the value of £50.
– He could say that he wished to retain tools of trade to the value of £70.
– Not according to this new clause.
– The amount stated is the minimum.
– He then has to be left to the tender mercies of his creditors.
– He need not enter into a deed of arrangement if it did not suit him.
- Senator Gardiner has already shown that the amount should be increased owing to the increased cost of commodities.
– That does not enter into this question at all.
-I think it does. This measure is to codify existing acts and we are supposed to be benefiting by the experience in the various states. In the matter of a deed of arrangement it is as necessary to protect the debtor as if he were appearing in a bankruptcy court. I do not think the proposed new clause will have the effect suggested by the Minister (Senator Pearce), and I intend to divide the committee on the amendment I have submitted.
– In ordinary circumstances I should have supported Senator Needham, because I think it necessary to protect a man who has been so unfortunate in his business that he has to enter into some arrangement with his creditors. We have to remember, however, that thisbill has been before another place, and if the committee does not accept the amendments now ‘before it it is possible that we shall lose thebill, and I do not wish to assist in doing that. I agree with what the Minister (Senator Pearce) has stated, that this is a voluntary matter under which a debtor is enabled to bargain with his creditors before he signs a deed of arrangement which is vital or binding upon him. Whilst I have every sympathy with an insolvent debtor, we have also to consider the unfortunate creditors who have to be protected against fraudulent acts on the part of a debtor. Senator Gardiner referred to the paltry sum of £50, and the extent to which such an amount could be employed in purchasing commoditiesat present-day value; but 1 remind Senator Gardiner and Senator Needham that these commodities would be taken at their second-hand value, and furniture for which £100 or £200had been paid would probably be coveredby the amount stipulated in the proposednew clause. The debtor would get the £50 worth of tools of trade, andwhatever household furniture a majority of the creditors determined to allow. I think we should leave the clause as it stands.
.- Senator Pearce’s remarks had no bearing on the point at issue, because a deed of arrangement is practically an act of insolvency. The fact that this chamber originally provided for an amount of £25, which was increased by the other place to £50, is a proof that the Parliament considered that it should have a voice in the fixing of the amount. I want to show how little an insolvent will get. If a man, his wife and six children are left with one pair of boots each, the value of which is £1 a pair, £8 of the £50 will be absorbed. Suppose that they are left with a suit of clothes for the father and sons, and one outfit for the mother of the value of £5 each.
– The articles would not be valued on that scale for the purposes of this provision.
– A woman would be poorly clothed on £5. At that figure the valuation for clothing would be £40, and nothing would be left for tools and implements of trade.
– The honorable senator has to remember that they would be regarded- as second-hand clothes. I have seen a double bed sold for 3s. in an auction mart.
– Five pounds would be at most one-fifth of the value of a man’s clothes. What furniture would one get for £50? I know that some persons will say that a man who goes insolvent cannot expect to keep his piano.
– Why not?
– I am wondering why he cannot.
– The credit that a man gets is very often based upon the assets that he holds. His household furniture and effects are regarded as a part of his assets.
– I do not want any honorable senator to think that 1 have not as much sympathy for the man who gives the credit as for the man who receives it. I am endeavouring to show that we can give a little consideration to the debtor without really injuring the man to whom he is indebted.
– Every increase in the exemption will further restrict the credit that is given.
– The difference between £50 and £100 is so slight that it will scarcely have any effect in a bankrupt’s estate. I recognize the force and the cogency of Senator Pearce’s argument, but I point out to him that it applies equally to the creditor as to the debtor. The creditor need not enter into the arrangement if he thinks that too many things are exempt. I want to leave the margin a little wider, to enable a deed of arrangement to be entered into in cases in which it is not now possible. Special provision having been made in relation to household furniture, it must be quite clear that in these deeds of arrangement it will not be possible to make an additional allowance for tools and implements of trade, clothing, and matters of that kind. I think that if the amount were fixed at £100 there would be a greater number of deeds oi arrangement and fewer insolvencies. I know that honorable senators realize that in this bill are incorporated the insolvency laws under which the states’ are now operating. I do not see the necessity for adhering strictly to the provisions that were originally passed by the states. They have been in existence for very many years. One of the best acts that Queensland ever had was passed in 1885. A great deal of water has run under the bridge since then, and there has been an appreciable change in public opinion. There is now a better understanding between the creditor and the debtor. Measures such as this will receive only passing notice, because we are within measurable distance of the time when the Labour party will govern this country, and there will then be no more insolvents. When we make provision that production shall be for use and not for profit, insolvencies, with a great many other unpleasant things, will cease. When that happens I should like to be able to point to the fact that in this chamber there were ten men who were sufficiently kindly disposed to the unfortunate insolvents to leave them a reasonable amount of clothing, their implements of trade,- and a few sticks .of household furniture. What furniture will be left in the house if the amount is limited to £50 ? Do honorable senators want to clean up a household to that extent? This misfortune very frequently strikes a most deserving section of the community, whose one offence has been that they have met with ill-health. I can picture sturdy, independent ‘men who have lost their health by working harder than their fellows in order to get together a few sticks of furniture. The extra work has so weakened their systems that they have been stricken with a lingering illness, which has deprived them of their resources and finally has driven them into the insolvency court. Take the case of a small business that is depending for its prosperity upon the energies of one man. If by reason of illness he is removed from control for a few months the business may be mismanaged, and when he returns he is faced with insolvency. That is a frequent occurrence. Such a case has come to my knowledge. One of the finest business men that I have ever met died early in life. He had a big business, but his manager in a brief period brought it to insolvency because he bought old.-fashioned articles which he could not sell. These facts came to light after the insolvency. He did not suffer, because he received his commission on the goods that he bought. “Why should the wife and family of a man suffer because he becomes insolvent? We ought to fix the. amount at £100. That would permit a deed of arrangement to be entered into whereby the tools and implements of trade, and the clothing, would be allowed to remain in the possession of those to whom they belonged, without opening the door to wrong practices. Those who set out to defraud will not come under this provision; they will operate in a bigger way. They have experience of laws, and they know how to keep within the law. If they are not themselves acquainted with the law they consult a lawyer, and he instructs them how to keep within the law.
– I make a final appeal to the Minister to accept my amendment. Part XI. of the bill deals with bankruptcy, when the debtor is actually in the insolvency court. I find that clause 163 has the same wording in relation to bankruptcy that the amendment proposed by another place has in regard to a deed of arrangement. My request is not unreasonable. I think we should give these men a chance to make a fresh start in life. It cannot be contended that £50 will cover the value of household goods, wearing apparel, and implements of trade.
Question - That the word proposed to be left out be left out (Senator Needham’s amendment of the amendment) - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . . . 4
Question so resolved an the negative.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Motion agreed to.
Amendments in clauses 192 and 193 agreed to.
Clause 197 (Contents of Register).
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Add the following sub-clause: - “ (2.) Notice of the registration of every deed stating the particulars mentioned in the last preceding sub-section shall be lodged in the office of the Registrar of Titles, or Registrar-General or other proper officer of each State and in such other places as are prescribed.”.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
As a deed of arrangement may affect the title to a property registered in a State Titles Office, it is desirable that notice thereof shall be given to the registrar of titles. The amendment provides for this.
Motion agreed to.
Amendments in clause 199 agreed to.
Clause 200 (Provisions for protection of trustees under void deeds).
House of Representatives? Amendment. - Add the following sub-clause: - “ (2.) When a deed of arrangement is void by virtue of this Act for any reason other than that it has not been registered within the time allowed for the purpose by this Part, the trustee shall, as soon as practicable after he has become aware that the deed is void, give notice in writing thereof to each creditor whose name and address he knows and file a copy of the notice with the Registrar, and, if he fails [to do so, he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding Twenty pounds.”.
Motion (by Senator Wilson) -
That the amendment be agreed to.
– I notice that the words “ not exceeding £20 “ appear in the amendment made by another place. In other parts of the bill the words “Penalty, Five pounds” are used. A little while ago, when I endeavoured to provide in a bill that a penalty should “ not exceed “ a certain amount, I was informed that other legislation provided that where the words “Penalty, Five pounds” occurred in an act, it was to be interpreted as being the maximum penalty only. I want to know why the words “not exceeding” are used in this clause and not in other penalty clauses.
– It is provided in the Acts Interpretation Act that where the words “Penalty. Five pounds,” or whatever the amount may be, occur in a separate line at the end of a section, the amount mentioned is to be interpreted as being the maximum penalty. I am informed that if the amount of the penalty is. provided in the body of a section the words “ not exceeding” must precede it if it is intended that the amount mentioned is to be regarded as the maximum penalty.
SenatorFINDLEY (Victoria) [5.18]. - The explanation is clear enough, but are we to understand that in all the legislation we have passed this fine distinction has been made? Are we to understand that if a prosecution is taken in hand, it may break down because a lawyer can point to the omission of the words “ not exceeding.”
– The case would not break down. If the magistrate convicted the person accused, he would have no discretion, but would be compelled to impose the penalty provided in the body of the section.
– Would a case break down if the words “ not exceeding “ were omitted, not from the actual section, but from another part of theact?
– The Acts Interpretation Act provides for such cases.
– Then it would appear that to prove a case in court it will be necessary to produce the Acts Interpretation Act. The verbiage is unnecessary, and should be eliminated.
– I drew attention to this matter with the object of getting an explanation from the Minister, but up to the present that has not been given. The measure has been before the Senate for about seventeen years, but it passed through another place like a flash of lightning. It was my intention to move to strike out the words “not exceeding,” because I was told in connexion with another bill that the words were unnecessary, and that the Acts Interpretation Act covered the point that I had raised. All I have to say is that if the words are not necessary when the penalty is stated at the end of a clause, they are not necessary in the body of a clause.
Motion agreed to.
Further amendment in clause 200 agreed to.
Amendments in clauses 201, 203, 206, and 208 agreed to.
Resolutions reported; report adopted.
In committee (Consideration resumed from 18th September, vide page 4489) :
Department of Works and Railways.
Proposed vote, £936,618.
– I desire to direct the attention of the committee to the conditions under which motor-car drivers are employed in the Federal Capital Territory. I am informed that, as compared with departmental drivers in Melbourne, they suffer certain disabilities, both as to wages and working conditions. Melbourne drivers get £4 5s. per week, with ordinary overtime at the rate of 2a. 6d. per hour; and 3s. 6d. per hour on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. In addition, on five days a week they get time and. a quarter for all time worked before and after ordinary working hours, also a child endowment allowance of 5s. a week for each child. Motor drivers in the Federal Capital Territory get ordinary time for five days a week, and time and a half on Saturdays and Sundays. They are paid £411s. a week, with overtime at1s.10¾d. per hour, except on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, when the overtime rate is 2s. 10¼d. per hour. They are only paid for actual driving time. They claim that they should be paid from starting time to finishing time, as in Melbourne. I am not complaining of the wages and conditions enjoyed by motor drivers in Melbourne. I wish drivers in the Federal Territory to be placed in the same position. At present they are unjustly treated. If a man is instructed to leave Canberra for Yass to meet the train coming from Melbourne, he has to get up early in the morning,, long before the ordinary starting time, and on the outward journey he will leave Canberra after the ordinary knock-off time for the day. He should be paid for all waiting time. Frequently, although he. may be only driving for an hour or an hour and a half after the ordinary knock-off time, he does not reach his home until 9 o’clock at night. I ask the Ministerto ascertain whether or notthe position is as I have stated. I have been very careful in making my inquiries, and have no reason to doubt the accuracy of the information supplied to me. I hope that the Minister will at least give to the motor drivers in the Federal Capital Territory the same conditions as obtain in Melbourne.
– I shall certainly make the inquiries which have been suggested, but I desire to disabuse the honorable senator’s mind of his misconception of the position. The wages at Canberra are not fixed in relation to wages in Melbourne, but in relation to the wages paid in New South Wales. If we commence with the chauffeurs, and place them on the same footing as men similarly employed in Melbourne, the result may be beneficial to them, but I am inclined to think that the innovation would not be looked upon with favour by others employed at Canberra. In many occupations the wages paid in Sydney are higher than those paid in Melbourne. The question is : Are these men receiving the rate of pay that is recognized in New South Wales, or in Sydney, as the rate of pay for that particular class of labour?
– What about child endowment and payment for overtime?
– Those matters will also have to be looked at from the same point of view. It must be remembered that these men are not permanent employees of the Commonwealth Government. If there is any discrepancy between the rates of pay, it does not follow that in adjusting them the rates will be fixed in relation to the wages paid is Melbourne. Further, I remind the honorable senator that there is an industrial tribunal appointed for Canberra. That tribunal was appointed by myself some time ago, after consultation with the union at Canberra. All workers at the Federal Capital other than members of the public service have the right to appeal to that tribunal. As these chauffeurs are not members of the public service, they have that right to appeal.
– I desire to refer to the Port AugustaOodnadatta railway. A few evenings ago the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) made a very interesting statement in this chamber regarding the future development of the Northern Territory. When the Commonwealth Government took over the Northern Territory, it also accepted certain obligations, one of which was to complete the North-South railway. The people of South Australia were under the impression that the Commonwealth Government was committed to the completion of the line from Oodnadatta to the line then running from Darwin to Pine Creek. That line has since been extended from Pine Creek to the Katherine River. Probably soma people in South Australia still entertain the hope that the line will eventually link Oodnadatta with the present terminus at the Katherine River, but I do not think that any honorable senator who heard the statement of the Minister will any longer be of that opinion. At any rate, the impression conveyed to my mind by his remarks was that some other route was contemplated. I understand that an arangement has been entered into between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of South Australia, whereby the Port Augusta-Oodnadatta line will in future be run by the Commonwealth Government, and that the rolling-stock,- as well as the workshops, will also be under Commonwealth control. Should the Government decide upon some route other than the linking up of Oodnadatta with the present terminus at the Katherine River, I should like to know what is its future policy regarding the line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta. Is it proposed to continue it as a separate line or are further extensions contemplated 1
– I have nothing to add to my previous statement in this connexion, except that the Government is at present negotiating with the Government of South Australia, and that those negotiations have now reached the stage which necessitates a further communication being sent to the South Australian Government before the Prime Minister can make a statement to Parliament as to the position. It is hoped that it will be possible for him to make a statement very shortly. Any proposal will, of course, require parliamentary sanction. One thing is clear, namely, that the Commonwealth Government is under an obligation to continue the running of the railway between Port Augusta and Oodnadatta. The present arrangement is that from the 1st January next the Commonwealth Government will run the railway instead of, as in the past, allowing it to be run by the South Australian Railways Commissioners, and merely meeting the loss at the end of the year.
– Why not give the Northern Territory back to South Australia ?
– I doubt if that state would take it, back. The question of the route and the various points arising therefrom will be dealt with by the Prime Minister when he makes his statement. I regret that the matter has not yet reached the stage that that statement can be made.
– I desire to bring under the notice of the Minister a matter affecting the trans continental railway, which now stretches from Townsville, in Queensland, to Fremantle, in Western Australia. My complaint refers to the refreshment station at Eurelia, in South Australia. It is the most disgraceful refreshment station on the whole route. People coming from other countries find at Eurelia a state of affairs which does Australia no credit. Something should be done to cause the South Australian railway authorities to make this refreshment room more in accordance with the demands of a civilized community, so that people travelling to and from Western Australia may be able to obtain a decent mealamidst reasonably comfortable surroundings. I have no complaint respecting the other refreshment rooms on the route, but for the sake of the travelling public, and especially in the interests of women and children, the existing state of affairsshould be remedied.
– It is the filthiest place I have seen in my life.
– In the early days in Queensland I saw some rough places, but for dirt, filth, and scramble they are outdone by the refreshment rooms at Eurelia. The portion of the transcontinental line under the control of the Commonwealth provides the best service in the world. That opinion has been expressed by many international travellers, but when that portion of the line is left behind and travellers arrive at Eurelia, the disgraceful conditions existing there stand out the more clearly. I trust that something will be done to remedy the existing state of affairs.
– I desire to refer to the unsatisfactory telephonic service provided in some of the rooms in this building. In nearly every department of the Commonwealth the telephones provided for the officials are installed on the tables, and are within easy reach of the men who use them, but that is not so in respect to many of the rooms in this building.
– I rise to a point of order. I draw attention to the fact that the provision of telephones in this building is a matter for the President and Mr. Speaker, and does not come under the vote for the Works and Railways Department. I think that the position was placed before the honorable senator when he ventilated the subject under the heading of “ Parliament.”
– The point of order is well taken. I ask Senator Grant to confine his remarks to the Department of Works and Railways.
– It is the experience of many honorable senators that the speeches which they deliver in this chamber, while containing, possibly, the concentrated wisdom of the ages, are occasionally suppressed by the daily press, although they find a place in Hansard.
– The honorable senator is not entitled to refer to that matter under this heading.
– Have the Government taken precautions to. ensure the installation of wireless at the Parliament House at Canberra to enable the speeches of honorable senators and honorable members of another place to be broadcast throughout the Commonwealth?
– I cordially endorse all that has been said by Senator Reid concerning the unsatisfactory arrangements at the railway refreshment rooms at Eurelia in South Australia. The fault does not rest with the Commonwealth, but with the South Australian Railway Commissioners, as Mr. Bell, the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner, informs me that he has on several occasions complained, and urged the South Australian Railway authorities without avail to provide better accommodation.
– It is dangerous to cross the lines at night when shunting is iu progress, as only kerosene lamps are available as an illuminant.
– It is a miserable place.
– The food supplied is of the “best quality.”
– It is of such an unsatisfactory quality that I understand passengers who have partaken of meals at Eurelia have in some cases suffered from ptomaine poisoning. On one occasion a passenger who, on reaching Kalgoorlie, was found to be in a state of collapse as a result of ptomaine poisoning, had to be taken to the hospital. The arrangements are disgraceful.
In regard to the point raised by Senator Grant concerning the installation of a wireless equipment at Parliament House at Canberra, I have no doubt that in view of the general demand, which I am sure there will be throughout the Commonwealth for an oportunity to hear the speeches of honorable members generally, and those of Senator Grant in particular, the Postmaster-General, whose representative is present, will see that provision is made whereby speeches can be broadcast throughout Australia.
– I desire to protest against the delay in surveying the land in the vicinity of the (rans-Australian railway within the borders of South Australia. I believe the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) and Senator Gardiner were members of the government which authorized the construction of the transAustralian railway. It was then understood that if the Commonwealth constructed the line the governments of Western Australia and South Australia would immediately survey the land on either side of the line to make it available for settlement.
– There would be a great demand for land on the Nullabor Plain 1
– There is along the line a large area of country, covered with saltbush and bluebush, which is capable of carrying sheep.
– And good mulga country.
– Yes. The Western Australian Government has to some extent honoured its obligations by surveying some of the land adjoining the line in Western Australia, but it has not kept its promise to broaden the gauge of the existing railway from Kalgoorlie to Perth.
– I think the honorable senator would be in order in dealing with the proposed railway from Kyogle in New South Wales to South Brisbane, towards which Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, and Tasmania will have to contribute largely in the interests of Queensland.
– As Senator Gardiner is always stressing the fact that New South Wales pays practically 50 per cent, of the taxation imposed by the Commonwealth, he should rejoice in the fact that the line he mentions will benefit that down-trodden state which he represents in this chamber.
– There is nothing in the bill relating to the proposed railway from Kyogle to South Brisbane.
– I regret that I have been led away by an irrelevant interjection.
– I do not know that it is irrelevant.
– A bill dealing with that line has already been introduced in another place.
– Senator Findley re- .ferred to the Government’s policy in connexion with the North-South railway, and whilst I realize that this is hardly a suitable occasion on which to discuss that matter, I may, perhaps, be permitted to “say that there is a diversity of opinion as to the best route to be adopted. I can assure Senator . Findley that Queensland is vitally interested in railway construction in the Northern Territory. I should like the Minister (Senator Pearce) to explain why the expenditure on the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta line for the . present year shows an increase over the previous year of £101,835. I have had the misfortune to travel over that section of railway, and I say, unhesitatingly, that the South Austraiian Government never conducted a better deal than when they handed’ that line over to the Commonwealth Government.
– Does the honorable senator think the Government would assume control of some of the Tasmanian railways?
– Tasmania would, I feel sure, be willing to hand over some of its unprofitable lines to the Commonwealth, and thus involve taxpayers in other states in the responsibility of meeting expenditure which should be met by the Tasmanian taxpayers. The Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railway will always be a, sink for public money, as it has been constructed through country which is never likely to provide sufficient freight to make it payable. I am pleased that I was not a supporter of the
Government which acquired it. Some time ago, when the railway was under discussion, we were informed that the system under which the railway was then operating waa unsatisfactory, and that the Commonwealth Government intended to make such drastic alterations that not only would the deficit be reduced, but the service would be improved. Notwithstanding this promise, three days are occupied in travelling from Adelaide to Oodnadatta, as the trains do not travel at night. The total deficit since the line has been under Commonwealth control amounts to approximately £1,500,000. If the railway were in any other state, the debt would have to be borne by the taxpayers.
– How long has the line been under Commonwealth control ?
– Since the Northern Territory was acquired by the Commonwealth.
– Since 1911.
– It seems outrageous that the Commonwealth should be compelled to carry this burden year after year. I ask the Honorary Minister (Senator Wilson), as a representative of South Australia, if he thinks it fair that the Commonwealth should be asked to conduct the unprofitable railway between Port Augusta and Oodnadatta ? Senator Wilson, at one time, when he occupied the seat that is now occupied by Senator Needham, severely criticized the then government on the ground that it did not exercise economy. No honorable senator would criticise more strongly than he would such an action as this if any state other than South Australia were affected. We should have from the Minister a. statement showing why we are asked to vote this year £101,835 moTe than was voted last year in. connexion with this railway, which properly belongs to the State of South Australia. South Australia is the only state that has had the audacity to foist on the Commonwealth Government its non-paying railways. The other states carry their own burdens. Western Australia, too, has not done badly out of the Commonwealth, because many miles of the transcontinental railway run through its territory.
– Does the honorable senator take exception to the Commonwealth Government assisting Queensland ?
– I have yet to learn where the Commonwealth has assisted Queensland. That state to-day is practically carrying the rest of Australia on its shoulders, and it is time that honorable senators who represent other states realized the position.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– There is no real increase in the expenditure on the Oodnadatta railway, because hitherto the Commonwealth, has been paying the loss on the railway, and thus its estimates did not show the revenue that was received. The Commonwealth proposes to take over the running of the railway from the 1st January next, and it is necessary to make provision in these Estimates. The loss incurred on the line is not received from South Australia until after the close of their financial year. We, therefore, have to provide for the loss on running for eighteen months, and also for the cost of running for six months. On the revenue side we are able to show the receipts. In the Loan Appropriation Bill the sum of £240,000 is provided for capital expenditure on this line. Of that sum, £200,000 will be required for the purchase of new locomotives and rollingstock when the Commonwealth takes over the line, which is- at present operated by the South Australian railway department on behalf of the Commonwealth. It is considered that a substantial saving will be effected when the line is worked by the Commonwealth railways branch. A conservative estimate of that saving is £22,000 per annum. Notice of the termination of the agreement between the two governments has been served by the Commonwealth. The saving that will be effected when the line is controlled by the Commonwealth department has been very carefully investigated. The Chief Engineer of Ways and Works, and the Chief Mechanical Engineer, Port Augusta, both of whom are acquainted with the railway and the conditions appertaining thereto”, have reviewed the cost of maintaining the permanent way and works, as well as the operating cost. An analysis of costs has also been made by the Comptroller of Accounts and Audit-
Interest at the rate of 5$ per cent, on the £200,000 which it is proposed to expend in the purchase of new locomotives and rolling-stock will represent £11,000 per annum. The interest that is at present being paid on the capital value of the rolling-stock the property of the South Australian railways is in the vicinity of £7,000 per annum. The line will be equipped with new and efficient rollingstock, and the net annual saving to the Commonwealth will be £20,000. It is also considered that numerous other savings, upon which it is difficult to place a money value, can be effected. The elimination of the handling charge of approximately 3 per cent, that is levied by the South Australian Supply and Tender Board upon all stores and materials that are used on this line, and the railage for 235 miles, from Adelaide to Quorn, on most of the issues, will be possible. The department has a stores suspense account, and could supply direct from Port Augusta all the materials that are required for the line.
In reply to the other question raised by Senator Foll, I may state that apparently the South Australian Government was not throwing open for lease the pastoral lands alongside lie line. The Commonwealth Government made numerous representations to the South Australian Government to have those lands surveyed and thrown open for selection. I am in the happy position that I can inform the honorable senator that at present those lands are open for selection, and are being taken up. Mr. Bell has informed me that the result has been an appreciable increase in the traffic on the transcontinental railway. That fact, combined with the development in land settlement that is proceeding in Western Australian territory, made the receipts from the line during the last quarter, for the first time in the history of the line, greater by a few thousand pounds than the working expenses. If honorable senators consult the railway report, which was tabled to-day, they will see that there has been a gradual improvement during the last two or three years. It is hoped that if that improvement continues, and land settlement expands, the line will before long be a payable proposition.
Senator Foll stated that the “Western Australian Government had accepted the obligation ‘ to build a 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge railway from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle. That is not quite the position. An offer was made by a Western Australian Government some years ago, before the transcontinental railway was authorized by the Commonwealth Parliament, that if the Commonwealth would agree to construct a transcontinental railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie within a given time - which was named - it would undertake to construct a railway of the same gauge from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle. The transcontinental’ railway was not constructed within the period fixed by the offer, which therefore lapsed.
– I should like some information from the Minister (Senator Pearce) with regard to the line between Yass Junction and Canberra. For a time I believed that it was the work of the New South Wales Government to construct a line from the main- southern line to the boundary of the Federal Capital Territory. From recent reports in the press, however, it; appears that there is .a probability of the Commonwealth being asked to defray the cost of the construction of that line. If the Commonwealth is- toconstruct it, is it proposed to impose what is known as a betterment tax - a somewhat one-sided scheme of land value taxation which, though unsatisfactory, is better than no land value taxation?
– On the one hand, the Government has the recommendation of the Public Works Committee that the line should not, at present, be constructed from Yass to Canberra, but that a continuation from Queanbeyan to the. civic centre at Canberra should be undertaken. On the other hand, there is the resolution of the House of Representatives- that the line from Yass to Canberra should be constructed. The Government has not yet had time to investigate these conflicting recommendations and to decide which it shall ask Parliament to approve. It has not concluded that the time has arrived for the construction of the line from Yass to Canberra. Whatever decision is come to, the Government will have to seek parliamentary authority before it can act.
.- The statement of the Minister (Senator Pearce) that there was not a direct promise by Western Australia- to continue the 4-ft. 8-in. gauge railway from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle -was a shock and a surprise to me. I believed that not only was a promise given, but that there was an understanding within recent years that the Commonwealth should find the money for the construction of that line. I was under the impression that when the Commonwealth spent from £4,000,000 to £6,000,000 on the transcontinental railway Western Australia would immediately link up.
I rose chiefly to refer to the extraordinary attack that has been made upon the South Australian railway refreshment rooms on the East- West line. I do not know the purpose of the. attack. I went over that line quite recently, and the food everywhere seemed good. There was nothing to justify the statements that were made in this committee to-day. I feel sure that when Senator Pearce reads the proof of his speech he will be surprised at the statements that he has made. I can quite understand that nothing seems good after the excellent catering provided on the Commonwealth section of the East-West Railway. Senator Foll seemed to think when I questioned him about South Australia having to contribute towards the construction of the Grafton to South Brisbane railway, that I was obliged to take part in the game of securing for New South Wales advantages at the expense of other states.
– I was prevented by the Temporary Chairman from . speaking fully on that point.
– I did not prevent the honorable senator from making an allusion to the railway to which he was referring. I allowed him to speak on it for fully two minutes before directing him not to discuss it further.
– These estimates provide for the salaries of quite a’ number of officers who will be engaged on building that railway.
– Those officers are nearly all employed at Canberra.
– Before proceeding with the construction of this railway, the Commonwealth will be guided by reports from these officers. Therefore, I think we are justified in discussing the proposed railway from Grafton to South Brisbane. I shall never participate in efforts made by honorable . senators to get from other states something for the benefit of their own states: New South Wales and Queensland are wealthy enough to build this projected railway themselves, and it is not fair that they should expect other states to share in the cost of a line which will prove of such advantage to themselves.
SenatorFoll. - I admit that, but it is not a new situation.
– The sooner we get away from the present system of calling upon other states to come to the assistance of any particular state the better. I see no reason why New South Wales should expect a small contribution from Tasmania, Western Australia, Queensland, or South Australia towards the building of a railway within its own borders, or the conservation of water in the Murray Valley. Commonwealth money should not be expended on such works. The Commonwealth Government has sufficient functions to carry out without embarking on such undertakings. If it devoted its energies to a reduction of the war debt it would be doing better work than by attempting to help the states out of their present difficulties, or to assist New South Wales and Queensland to build a railway. I could understand the Commonwealth intervening if the proposal were to make a military railway running from Brisbane through to Perth, but it is wrong for the states to ask the Commonwealth Treasurer for money for purely state purposes. My voice will always be raised against the continuance of such a pernicious principle.
.- I do not think it unreasonable to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Railways to give us some outline of the progress of the work that is now being undertaken at Canberra. Neither is it unreasonable to ask if it is possible for the Government to mention some date upon which Parliament is likely to meet in its own home at Canberra. Many honorable senators will be obliged to make considerable alterations in their arrangements to fit in with the new conditions, and, in the circumstances, we should like to have some notice from the Government of the day as to when we are likely to be called upon to effect those alterations.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– If this information can be supplied, honorable senators may be able to make their arrangements well ahead. I should also like to know what progress has been made with the erection of the hostels and the probable charge that will be made to those who will make use of that accommodation. Information supplied to the Public Works Committee, of which until recently I was a member, suggested that owing to the high cost of construction and expensive furnishings, the tariff would be very high; so high, indeed, that it may be necessary for Parliament, at an early date, to authorize substantial increasesin the allowances paid to members.
– I am able to report that substantial progress isbeing made with the erection of the public buildings in Canberra. Honorable senators will have seen in the Library a photograph of the provisional Parliament House. At the end of last month the walls were up to the roof level. I understand that the building is now ready for roofing, and that it will be ready for the meeting of the new Parliament. Concerning the hostel, I have recently been making inquiries in order to get a definite date for its occupation, because upon this will depend the date of the first sale of Canberra city leases. Accommodation must be available for intending buyers. The Works and Railways Department informs me that the hostel will be ready by about the end of November. We are now inviting applications for the leasing of the place. Until an offer has been accepted we shall not be able to indicate what the tariffwill be. I regret that I am unable to supply the figures dealing with the cost of the hostel. That is provided for in the Loan Bill, and as
I did not expect the question to he asked to-night I did not come prepared with the information. However, I shall endeavour to obtain it, and let the honorable senator know. The Public Works Committee has had the erection of the secretariat building under consideration. I understand that a recommendation has been made, and that the necessary steps to authorize its construction are being taken in another place. As thi3 will not be a very large building, it ought to be ready when Parliament meets at Canberra.
– I listened with interest to the remarks made by honorable senators about the various railways under the control of the Commonwealth, and I was particularly interested in the statement that the East-West line, during the last quarter for which returns have been made available, was paying working expenses. That statement, however, hardly sets out the position. The railway cost the Commonwealth over £6,000,000, upon which there is an interest charge of at least 4J per cent, or 5 per cent. It ought to be made clear that whilst the railway may be paying working expenses, it certainly is not paying interest on capital cost. In my opinion the time has come when the Government should seriously consider taking over control of the whole of the railways in the Commonwealth. It is unfair that we should be saddled with some of the worst-paying propositions, and that the best-paying railways should be in the hands of state authorities. There is now a proposal to vote a sum of £3,500,000 for the construction of a new railway line between Kyogle and South Brisbane.
– That will be a good investment.
– It would be a much better investment if the Commonwealth imposed a betterment tax, under which land-owners benefited by the line would contribute towards the revenue.
– What about a betterment tax on the East- West railway ?
– If the- principle were applied to that line, the tax imposed on land for 25 to 30 miles on each side of the railway would be only a nominal impost and would be amply justified, as also would a betterment tax on the suggested line from Yass Junction to Canberra. . Since the railways, at present controlled by the Commonwealth are likely to be non-paying for some considerable time, the Commonwealth should take steps immediately to take over control of all the railways in Australia and proceed with the unification of gauges, not in piecemeal fashion, but in a general way. When I was at Port Augusta some years ago, I saw in store there a large number of armchairs- of antiquated design. Since then several of the chairs have been placed in the Commonwealth offices in Sydney. I hope that the same kind of furniture will not be foisted on members of Parliament at Canberra. They are not to be found in any of the departmental offices. Apparently they are retained for the use of Federal members. I trust that when the furnishing of the Federal members’ rooms at Canberra is under consideration, furniture of a more up-to-date and more suitable design will be chosen.
– I was interested in the remarks of the Minister (Senator Pearce) concerning the progress that is being made with the erection of public buildings at Canberra. I have been there on one or two occasions as a member of the Public Accounts Committee. On the last occasion I was amazed at the evidence of all-round progress. The rate of progress on the provisional parliamentary building gives the lie direct to those who declare that day labour is slow labour. The same remarks apply to the work on the hostel. I believe that the provisional Parliament House will be ready by the end of 1925, but it must be remembered that we shall have to provide for a large number of officials. If the Government” intends that Parliament shall meet at Canberra immediately after the next federal election, it will have to expedite the work of providing the necessary accommodation.
– A large number of cottages and another hostel are being erected.
– Apart from No. 1 hostel,- the only other hostel is No. 3, which is intended for officers, and will accommodate only about 60 to 100 persons.
– A competition recently closed for a number of cottages.
– I saw the cottages provided for the workmen, but they are not very creditable from the point of view of the accommodation provided. A number of wooden huts built by Hudson have been brought from Sydney for the artisans engaged on the building of Parliament House, but those huts are no credit to the Commonwealth Government. As they have no brick chimneys there is no place for a fire in the winter time. While at Canberra, I visited the grave of General Bridges, and adjacent to it I noticed the residence provided for the five civil employees of the Duntroon College. These men had their wives and five children with them. The word “ hovel “ would be a dignified term to apply to their place of abode. It is wrong that the civil employees of the college should be housed in such a place. The establishment contains five families, but it is not fit for a man and his wife, without children. The Minister should see that something is done at once to provide healthy accommodation for these employees. Their present accommodation is not fit to house a dog.
– One cannot wonder that the EastWest railway does not pay. It practically starts nowhere, and ends nowhere. The Government should build a line from Hay to Port Augusta, so that the states conic connect their railways with it. As in a few years’ time the Murray valley will be. thickly populated, the line would soon be a paying one. We cannot expect any line to pay while it is incomplete. In a very short time we shall also have the KyogleBrisbane line, which will pass through some of the finest country in Australia. I do not agree with Senator Gardiner that that is not a national line. The states have a railway to Murwillumbah, and another from Coolangatta to Brisbane, which serve their purpose. The Kyogle to Brisbane railway, being a national line, should be constructed forthwith of .4 ft. 8^ in. gauge. Personally, I should never build the North-South railway, but should prefer to construct a line from Bourke to connect with the present line running south from Darwin. That line also should be of 4 ft. 8J in. gauge. The Queensland lines could then be continued out to meetit, and it would be only a short time be fore we had a 4 ft. 8J in. line to Darwin. Such a line would pass through some of the best sheep and cattle country in Australia. At present, because the line from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie is incomplete, the’ expenses are much greater than they should be. The Government should proceed at once with the line from Port Augusta to Hay.
– I promised the committee to give some information regarding the hostel at Canberra. The estimated cost of the hostel is £120,000, while the furnishings are estimated to cost between £15,000 and £20,000.
.- When I was at Canberra about ten months ago, I noticed that the Public Works Department was covering over some of the brickwork in the buildings with rough-cast, and then colouring it white. Judging by appearances, the bricks made at Canberra are equal to the best obtainable in Australia, and one would imagine that they could be used to make both a pleasing, and a satisfactory job. I cannot, therefore, understand why the Works and Railways Department should cover them with rough-cast. Looking down on the city f from the surrounding country, the houses appear to be like a lot of glorified cowsheds. Adb fu from their unsatisfactory appearance, the upkeep of these whitewashed houses is greater than if they, were constructed of struck brickwork. I consider that handsome brick cottages have been spoiled by this action of the department.
– Bungalows and cottages, when constructed of bricks, should have cavity walls and struck brickwork. These abortions - I can call them nothing else - which have been foisted upon Canberra by the officers of the department, are a standing disgrace to the Federal Capital. I can find no words strong enough to condemn them. Brickwork, when properly struck, is always pleasing to look upon. We know that rough-cast is frequently used to cover up poor materials or bad workmanship, but that is not the case at Canberra. Apart from their unsightly appearance, the cottages have been badly designed, both as regards their external appearance and their internal arrangement. I shall welcome the day when the Government makes building sites at Canberra, available, so that other people may have the opportunity to show what can be done with the bricks produced there. From the way in which they are covered up, one would imagine that they are of inferior quality, but we know that that is not so. I trust that the “Minister will see that work of this kind is stopped immediately.
– Rough-cast increases both the cost of construction and of upkeep.
– It enables inferior or careless brickwork to be covered up, so that it will escape detection. I cannot understand how any officer who knows his business can tolerate such work. It is a wonder that rough-cast has not been used in connexion with the new Houses of Parliament. I understand, however, that some departure from clean struck brickwork is contemplated even there. If so, it is a very great mistake.
– - Parliament House is all struck brickwork.
– I am glad to hear that statement from the Minister. I hope that as a result- of the comments made this evening the Minister will see that the present practice is discontinued immediately.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Postmaster-General’ s Department.
Proposed vote, £8,208,930.
– Has the Postmaster-General (Mr. Gibson), since his return from Great Uri tain, given the Minister (Senator Crawford) any information in relation to the new agreement entered into with the cable companies? As the published reports concerning the proposed agreement do not appear satisfactory, I should like to have some authentic details from the Minister.
– I am not in a position to give the honorable senator any detailed information at this juncture, but I shall endeavour later to supply him with particulars. I understand an arrangement has been made for a reduction in the cable rates as from the 1st November of this year.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Health.
Proposed vote, £124,480.
– I desire to express my dissatisfaction with the amounts paid and promised by the Government for losses incurred in connexion with the rinderpest outbreak in Western Australia. As this is a national matter, there has been a considerable agitation to endeavour to get the Commonwealth Government to bear the whole of the loss incurred, as it is thought that the expense should not be borne by the people of Western Australia. The Commonwealth has agreed to pay onehalf of the value of the stock destroyed, and the amount paid to date is £14,448. Approximately £6,000 to £7,000 has still to be paid, the accounts for which have not yet been received. After the outbreak occurred an agreement was entered into between the Commonwealth Government and the then Premier of Western Australia, Sir James Mitchell, under which compensation was to be paid on a 50-50 basis. The sum of £7.000 was granted by the> Government, of which only £4,500 has been paid, leaving £2,500 which, in addition to the £10,000 also promised for economic losses, and which has not yet been paid, brings the total up to £12,500. The Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) was deputed by the Cabinet to visit Western Australia to assist in stemming the tide of this dread disease, in order to protect, not only the herds in. Western Australia, but also those in the eastern states. Up to a certain point the Minister rendered very valuable service, but the Government and the people of Western Australia consider that as it was a national matter the Commonwealth Government should have defrayed the whole of the expenditure in meeting compensation claims. The Government promised to pay £10,000 for economic losses, but the claims received by the department under this heading total £44,000, of which the sum actually paid to date amounts to only £19,000. Considering the unsatisfactory state of the finances of Western Australia, it is the duty pf tha Commonwealth Government to assist the people in that state by paying the full amount. In order to test the feeling of the committee, I move -
That Hie House of Representatives be requested to reduce the proposed vote by £1.
I submit this motion as an instruction to the Government to provide that the whole of the losses be paid by the Commonwealth authorities.
– Under item 3, in sub-division 3 of division 121 is an amount of £5,000 for “investigation of cancer disease.” Is the Minister (Senator Wilson) in a position to state the nature of the investigations to be made?
– Honorable senators will realize the importance of research work in relation to cancer. As this is a new item of expenditure, I cannot state definitely in what direction action will be taken. The procedure to be adopted will depend upon the advice of professional men.
The subject raised by Senator Graham has already been fully debated, both in this chamber and in another place, and Ministers have shown that the Government have endeavoured to do what is fair and just to the people of Western Australia. Many of the individual claims submitted are anything but just, and for the information of honorable senators I may state that the expense already incurred by the Commonwealth amounts to approximately £14,000.
– How much of that amount has been paid?
– It is a mistake on the part of some honorable senators to be continually fanning the flame of dissatisfaction and discontent, particularly as the Government have done what they consider to be just. The sum of £14,000 has already been paid. Provision has been made for the payment of £8,000 and also for the payment of £4,500 in connexion with the destruction of crops; although there was no moral obligation on the Government to pay anything. It is reasonable to assume that if the Commonwealth Government met the whole of the expenditure in this connexion, other claims of a far-reaching character would doubtless be made by other states from time to time. I repeat what I have already stated - that had I been administering the department when this matter was considered, I would not have been in favour of paying as large a sum as has been paid. As honorable senators are aware, the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) visited Western Australia and handled the whole situation in a very able manner.
– It is a matter of national interest, and should be dealt with on that basis.
– A committee was appointed to conduct investigations and to allot the money contributed by the Commonwealth, and although Senator Graham has said that those who have suffered loss are asking for additional money, he is not able to justify his statement, because the investigations have not been completed.
– The Government have not paid what they promised.
– It is easy to say that a further sum should be paid, but the Government have to consider the interests of other taxpayers in the Commonwealth. The Government in the first place appointed a committee to control the distribution of £10,000, but as that was considered unsatisfactory, the Government requested the Western Australian Government to appoint a committee to allot the £10,000. Notwithstanding this, a request was received from the Western Australian authorities to the effect that the Commonwealth should appoint the committee to allot payments. During the influenza epidemic, the Western Australian Health authorities quarantined the passengers and crew of a trans-Australian train and utilized the cars, including the dining car, for victualling arrangements. As a result of this action, the Commonwealth preferred a claim against the Government of Western Australia for £3,113 12s. 5d., the details of which were as follows : -
The matter was subject of much correspondence between the two Governments, and the Government of Western Australia paid £849 13s.1d., leaving a loss to the CommonwealthRailways Commissioner of £2,263 19s. 4d.
– An alleged loss.
– An actual loss. These figures have been taken from statements in the department. Cabinet directed that, although the Commonwealth was clearly in the right, no useful result would follow from extreme measures. I want honorable senators to see the inconsistency of Western Australia. That state took possession of a train and used our staff, saying “ We are doing this for quarantine purposes, and the Commonwealth will have to pay for it.” When the Commonwealth Government had to deal with animals in Western Australia, that state said, “You bear the whole of the expense.” I inform Senator Graham that an amount of £36,500 has been made available by the Commonwealth.
– Does that include the sum which the Western Australian Government has already received 1
– Certainly. I say to the honorable senator again that the Government and the department are exceedingly anxious to do the fair thing. The Government appointed a committee, but it was not acceptable to the Government of Western Australia. It then endeavoured, unsuccessfully, to induce the Western Australian Government to conduct the inquiry. I urge honorable senators to leave this matter with the department. It will have to make the next move. I give my assurance that it will do the just and the equitable thing.
, - This is not a question of whether Senator Pearce went to Western Australia to check the outbreak, or of. whether Senator Wilson would have been in charge of the operations had he been in Australia. Senator Pearce worked night and day whilst he was over there, and every one has given him credit for it. The whole question is, was this a national danger? To the press, when he returned to Melbourne, Senator Pearce said most emphatically that it was. He rejoiced because the disease had been checked and confined to one state; and in unmistakable language he said that had it got abroad it would have sounded the death-knell of the great pastoral industry of Australia. Senator Wilson, with heroic gestures, has told us that very nearly £40,000 has been made r available by the Commonwealth Government. As a matter of fact, Western Australia has so far received only £19,000. In addition to the £7,000 which the Commonwealth advanced in the first place, the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce_ offered a further £10,000, suggesting that Western Australia should “foot the bill” for an additional £10,000. The Premier of
Western Australia would, not accept that suggestion, and there the matter remained. When it was before the chamber recently, we were given information regarding a board of investigation. Particulars regarding that board have been supplied to us to-night also. That proposal is no further forward now than it was when it was first made.
– The Government of Western Australia turned it down.
– The Governin ent of Western Australia did not turn it down. It desires that the Commonwealth shall bear the full cost of saving Australia from this disease. If Sir James Mitchell were in power to-day, he would review his previous hasty decision, and realize the necessity for demanding that the Commonwealth should “ foot the bill.” If the amendment is carried’ by the committee, it will be an instruction to the Government to review the position. It is of no use Senator Wilson getting up and saying that he is sick and tired of hearing the matter mentioned. IL is because we know that our claim is just and unanswerable-
– It is an impudent claim.
– The honorable, senator is a judge of impudence. It is because we know that our claim is justthat we are pressing it. As the Government, when the bill is passed, will have full -control of the public funds until the 30th June, 1925, we take this opportunity to. give it another reminder of its obligations. I hope that the request will be agreed to.
– Ever since this matter was first discussed, I have taken the same view regarding it. My belief is that, when losses are due to action by the Quarantine Department to keep disease out of Australia, it is an Australian affair, and, no matter where the action is taken, the Commonwealth should pay for the whole of the direct loss. If the Commonwealth had conducted its quarantine operations upon any just system, if it had not made this a haphazard job. and made an act of grace of what should have been an act of right, there would have been no controversy. I believe that the direct losses amount to about £41,000
– They do not.
– What was the amount of the half share proposed to be paid by the Commonwealth?
– Would the honorable senator say that attendance at a deputation is a “ loss “ ?
– Certainly not.
– A claim has been made on that account.
– Every time I try to help the Leader of the. Senate, he endeavours, so to speak, to bite me. I am endeavouring to- help him out of a very real difficulty, but he refuses to be helped. As a matter of fact, I understand that he approves of my system, whereby these direct losses would be paid by the Commonwealth, and the indirect losses - some of which are extremely ridiculous - would be dealt with by the State Government. If that course were adopted it would be found that the Commonwealth had about £2,000 more to pay to cover the direct losses that have been approved by investigating committees. I do not want Western Australia to get any more than she is entitled to. My request is not an impudent one. I am rather inclined to resent the tone of certain honorable senators who, whenever a request is made for assistance outside their state, classify it as “ impudence.”
– The honorable senator has already shown the difference between what he claims and what Senator Needham claims. His is a reasonable claim.
– This should be a recognized practice; it should not be an act of grace, and there should be no necessity for deputations when a matter such as this arises. “Fancy” claims should be dealt with by the State Government, which, being on the spot, is in a far better position than the Commonwealth Government to decide the justice or the injustice of any claim that has been made. The present state of affairs is largely due to the fact that we have not a definite system for operating our quarantine legislation. I hope that that deficiency will be rectified by the bill which we passed the other day. I was really startled at the attitude that was taken up by Senator Wilson. I have never seen him so wildly aggressive or so fervently enthusiastic. It appeared to me that he ‘was very much annoyed because the information with which he was supplied contained so many gaps.
He worked himself into a state of the most horrible indignation regarding certain ancient history which, strive as I may, I cannot possibly connect with the present state of affairs.
– It was a quarantine matter, was it not?
– Exactly. But owing to the lack of system, and because these matters are kept in water-tight compartments, it is not possible to connect one with the other. There is no system, and until we get a system there cannot be that connexion to which I have referred. When I heard the Honorary Minister (Senator Wilson) say that if he had been here Western Australia would not have done so well, it occurred to me that it was the only possible occasion upon which his absence could give me pleasure.
– I should not have intervened in this discussion except for the fact that the Labour party in Western Australia, instead of being sincere in their desire to get some additional compensation for the people of the state for the destruction of cattle and other losses arising out of the rinderpest outbreak, have sought to use the outbreak as a club with which to belabour me and other honorable senators on this side of the chamber. The last issue of the Labour paper in Western Australia contains n cartoon depicting Senator Pearce, Senator Lynch, and myself as standing before the Treasury, “and preventing Senator Kingsmill, Senator Needham, and Senator Graham, representing the people of Western Australia, from getting at it. That is the sort of rubbish which is being circulated all over Western Australia, suggesting to the people of the state, that the senators who have to go up for election on the next occasion are preventing them from getting their just dues. If Senator Needham and Senator Graham are honest they will admit that no one in this Senate has worked harder than Senators Pearce, Lynch, and I have to try to get justice for the people of Western Austrafia in this regard. But when a comparatively unimportant matter is used as a club with which to strike me I propose to hit back. My view has always been very similar to that of Senator Kingsmill. The money already offered by the Commonwealth to the Government of Western Australia for distribution among the people who suffered from the outbreak of rinderpest is just about equal to the total amount claimed by those who suffered direct losses. Obviously, the Commonwealth, as Senator Kingsmill says, can have nothing to do with” fancy “ claims. Heaven knows where it- would end if it did. Excluding the balance of the £7,000 already mentioned, namely, £2,500, the actual amount placed at the disposal of .the Government of Western Australia is £36,500. Including the £2,500, the total is £39,000, whereas the total amount claimed is £41,000. The Commonwealth Government has given so generously in this regard that it has practically made available to the State Government, and the people of Western Australia the total amount of the direct losses. Tet my friends, Senator Needham and Senator Graham, allied with the Labour Government of Western Australia, endeavour to make political capital out of this question.
– What is wrong with that?
– The honorable senator has put his finger on the right spot.
– At any rate, he is honest enough to make the admission.
– He is honest enough to admit that the Western Australian Labour party is probably making political capital out of that which is not a party matter. If the figures are examined, it will be seen that a very large measure of justice has been done. Nov/, let me examine the position in regard to quarantine generally. The Government of Western Australia would resent very quickly any attempt on the part of the Commonwealth Parliament to exercise the powers which it undoubtedly has under the quarantine provisions in the Constitution Act, and deprive them of all their quarantine powers or their control over the administration of health. If they insist on maintaining their own control in these matters, then they cannot complain when they are asked to pay half the losses incurred in combating an outbreak such as that which has recently visited their state. That is all they have been asked to do. When Senator Pearce on behalf of tha Commonwealth Government asked the then State Government what they wanted in this connexion all they asked for was that the Commonwealth should bear half the cost.
– That is where they made the mistake.
– Yet the honorable senator is now complaining, although the Commonwealth Government has conceded everything that the then Government of Western Australia asked for, and, in addition, as a consequence of representations made by Western Australian senators, and particularly’ Senators Pearce, Lynch, and myself, has placed at the disposal of the people of Western Australia sums amounting to’ £8,000, £10,000, and £7,000. Obviously, this move on the part of honorable senators is nothing but an attempt to make political capital out of a thing which gives no ground for such an attempt, and which in the interests of the people concerned should not be used for party purposes. I hope that when the people of Western Australia realize the true facts the action honorable senators opposite have taken will, like a boomerang, catch them in the comeback.
– I am sorry that Senator Drake-Brockman should have attempted to make a party question out of this matter. The Senate is not a party House.
– I entirely agree with the honorable senator.
– We represent states in this chamber. Although I have always been engaged in an endeavour to stop the states from dipping into the Commonwealth Treasury, I have never had the luck to be depicted in a cartoon keeping the people back from the Commonwealth Treasury. Every time that Stale Governments have put out their hands for assistance I have raised my voice in opposition. My friends opposite do not mind giving away anything from the Treasury. The latest move I have heard of is that they propose to give £5,000 to some “ loyalists “ who participated in an attempt to break down unionism in 1917. When that question comes before the Senate will Senator Drake-Brockman again be found defending the Treasury - preventing these men from helping themselves to £5,000?
– I shall be doing whatever is just.
– We all try to do what is just; but, unfortunately, we are biased. It is Senator Drake-Brockman’s opinion that it is not just for the Commonwealth to bear the larger share of the cost of combating the rinderpest eutbreak.
– I have already pointed out that the people of Western Australia got all they claimed.
– I have no desire to offend the honorable senator, but I am trying to draw a comparison between his attitude on this occasion and what it will be when this Parliament is asked to vote £5,000 for certain people who are called loyalists for the part they played in attempting to break down unionism, and take away the bread and butter of the children of unionists.
– And send bread and butter to the soldiers at the front.
– I understand that Senator Drake-Brockmanwas himself at the front in 1917, when several Australian governments entered into a successful conspiracy toforce a strike. Evidence was given before a royal commission in New South Wales that the Commissioners of Railways in that state actually employed persons to organize a union, and the wages of the people they employed appeared on the wages sheets under the heading of special duty. I recognize that Senator Drake-Brockman and I will always do justice as we see it: but, unfortunately, the honorable senator cannot see the justice of letting the people of his own state be recompensed for the slaughter of their cattle, or for business losses incurred by them.
– That is a very unfair and improper statement, which is, no doubt, also made for political purposes.
– The honorable senator is undoubtedly biased.
– So is Senator Gardiner.
– I admit that I am, and I think the honorable senator is. Very few of us can see the truth in anything, particularly if we allow ourselves to become bitter partisans. No one suffers in that respect more than I do. The honorable senator claims that an attempt is being made to put him in a false position by depicting him in a cartoon, but it will be the best advertisement he can have on the next occasion he is a candidate for election to this Senate. I.shall probably be in the same position as the honorable senator in a few days. I shall be forcing certain people of New South Wales back from dipping their hands into the Commonwealth Treasury. I shall lay myself open to be cartooned as a man who will not let £5,000 be circulated among good “ loyalists.” Honorable senators opposite call them loyalists, but we regard them as “ scabs,” although that is a term I do not like using. Senator Wilson has told us that when another outbreak threatened Western Australia the government of that state appropriated Commonwealth property and refused to allow the Commonwealth to interfere. He also told us that when the Commonwealth presented its bill to the state government, if was only met to the extent of onethird. But two wrongs do not make a right. There was a short-sighted National Government in power in the state at the time, and there was a National Government in control of the Commonwealth. In the circumstances, I can believe that both governments were wrong. In any case, I do not know that the state government is to be condemned for retaining the control of quarantine in its own hands, and taking drastic steps to protect the people of the state from a plague that originated in the eastern states.
– Did the Commonwealth Government recoup the New South Wales Government for all the expense incurred by the latter on that occasion?
– I do not think so.
– As a matter of fact, no claims were made.
– I do not think that the New South Wales Government had taken proper precautions to protect the people of the state from the invasion of the disease the suppression of which caused such a heavy expenditure. The first duty of the Western Australian Government was to protect the health of the people of the state, and incidentally the health of the whole of the Commonwealth.
– No one questions that.
– It looks as if we shall soon be in agreement. On the occasion referred to the Western Australian Government took charge of Commonwealth property and quarantined passengers on the East-West railway line in order to prevent the spread of the pneumonic influenza epidemic throughout Western Australia. The Government was perfectly justified in that action.
– And it should have paid.
– When it comes to paying we” are up against the same old problem. The time is long overdue when the Commonwealth and the State Governments should come to some arrangement acceptable to all concerned. I venture to say that, even after our experience of the rinderpest outbreak in Western Australia, if another outbreak occurred to-morrow, either there or in another state, we should have the same muddle owing to divided authority. I wish to make it quite clear that no one wishes to make political capital out of this matter at the expense of Senator Drake-Brockman. He will have a sufficiently heavy load to bear at the next election without any addition to it. The fact that he is Government Whip should alone be sufficient to destroy his chances of re-election.
– The honorable senator is criticising the Government because it is not prepared to spend more money without justification.
– No, but I take a different view from that stated by the Minister. Apparently Senator Kingsmill is also going to vote against the Government in this matter, because 1 understood him to say that he was in the same position to-day as on the last occasion.
– I did not say anything of the sort. What I said was that if this matter were looked at sensibly there should be no need for further discussion.
– I am sorry if I misunderstood the honorable senator. There is little difference between the figures given by Senator Wilson and those quoted by Senator Graham. The latter said that the amount involved was about £44,000, and Senator Wilson has informed us that the Government has already paid £39,000.
– No; £36,500.
– I understand that something more to come will bring the total up to £39,000, so the difference is hardly worth debating. But there is an important principle involved in this question. When the matter came before Parliament several months ago I contended, without any suggestion of party feeling, that the obligations of the Government should be so clearly recognized that self-interest would induce people to report immediately the outbreak of any disease that threatened the interests of the Commonwealth.
– Perhaps I may be permitted, as briefly as possible, again to explain my attitude to Senator Gardiner. I have spoken three or four times on the rinderpest outbreak, and possibly what I am saying now will not be the last word on this subject. This is a matter which, if properly arranged, should settle itself automatically. The direct losses in any case should be paid by the Commonwealth, but not the indirect losses, which in this case are referred to as the economic losses. All losses are economic. No Government should be expected to pay for indirect losses. A man who has had his cattle slaughtered or property destroyed is, perhaps, unable to pay his bills. His creditors are indirect losers, as also are their creditors. Thus the effect is felt to the uttermost edges of the community. This is a matter that should be simple of adjustment. As a last word, let me say to Senator Drake-Brockman, and also to Senator Gardiner, that I did not draw the cartoon in question.
.- Senator Gardiner’s attitude to-night is inconsistent with his statements during the afternoon. The honorable senator did not say definitely that he intended to vote for a reduction of the item, but we may assume that he will do so. Only a little while ago, when another subject was under discussion, he declared that he waa sick and tired of the states appealing to the Commonwealth Government for assistance. Now, apparently, he intends to support his colleague and vote for a reduction in the item as a protest against the
Government not finding more money for a certain state purpose. We have had a similar experience in Queensland. Not long ago the cotton-growers of Central Queensland were ordered by the State Labour Government to destroy their crops to prevent the threatened . spread of the boll worm. When they approached the Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Gillies., for compensation, he refused to pay a penny. What was done in Queensland .was on allfours with the action taken by the Western Australian Government to prevent the spread of rinderpest.
– Does the honorable senator believe that the owners whose crops were destroyed should bear the entire loss?
– No. The State Government should have paid reasonable compensation. I agree with the honorable senator that the Commonwealth and State Governments should decide upon some equitable scheme to deal with all such outbreaks. I venture to say that hundreds of thousands of pounds, have’ been spent by private individuals in combating the various diseases which have affected both crops and animals, but they have received not one farthing, by way of compensation. Only those who have raised cattle in the northern portions of Australia know of the thousands of pounds which have been spent in combating the cattle-tick pest. Similarly, only those connected with sheep raising know of the money which has been spent in dealing with the blowfly pest. The same remark applies to many other pests which have been introduced into Australia. We were informed that the Institute of Science and Industry was formed to deal with these things. Although I did not have much faith in the institution, because of the way in which it was created, and of those “who were connected with it, I hoped that it would do something of a useful nature. Unfortunately, our hopes in that direction have not been realized.
– The institute has done wonderful work in connexion with the blow-fly pest.
– I feel that Western Australia has been treated too generously by the Commonwealth Government in regard to this matter. Other states have spent thousands of pounds in combating pests, but they themselves have borne the burden. This is the first time that the Commonwealth Government hae provided public money to meet a claim of this- nature. If we are to recognize the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government, we should get down to bedrock and formulate some proper scheme, to be followed in the event of similar outbreaks in the future. We should not dip our hands into the public treasury, and hand over to a state large sums of money merely because some members of this Parliament ask for it. Senators Pearce, Drake-Brockman, and Lynch have been depicted in a cartoon circulated in Western Australia, as keeping back those who desire to raid the Commonwealth Treasury, and I say that, they are entitled to credit for so doing. When that cartoon is seen by the people of Western Australia it will not have the effect that some people anticipate. Instead of injuring those .honorable senators it will lead the people to realize that in them they have representatives in this Parliament who are determined to do their duty. The result will he that those honorable senators will retain their positions as .members of the Senate.
– I desire bo compliment Senator Graham on the reasonable manner in which he placed his request before us. I was, however, surprised at the righteous, or, to be more correct, the mock, indignation of the Minister (Senator Wilson) when replying to him.
– I . thought that I was candid in my remarks.
– - Senator Graham said that the claims amounted to approximately” ?44,000, whereas the Minister said that the amount paid by the Commonwealth was about ?36,000. That makes a difference of ?8,000 between the claims made and the amount that the Government ultimately considered was a reasonable sum to be paid. If those persons who suffered as a result of the introduction of rinderpest into Western Australia, and the action of the State and Commonwealth Governments in attempting to eradicate it, put in a claim for ?44,000-
– There was a further claim for ?43,000 for indirect or economic losses.
– In this matter I am accepting the figures given by Senator Graham, as I believe he placed the facta of the case “before us.
– The £44,000 mentioned by Senator Graham referred only to the direct losses. In addition, there was a claim for £43,000 for indirect losses.
– It is obvious that neither Senator Graham nor Senator Hannan knows the facts.
– I am quite certain that the honorable senator does not know them. He represents the state from which this claim was received, but, instead of giving the Senate the benefit of any knowledge he may have had in regard to this matter, he tried to make political capital out of it. For the first time during the debate, he raised the party issue.
– I was not responsible for that issue being raised. The honorable senator should spend more time in the chamber, and he would then know what took place.
– I spend as much time in the chamber as does the honorable senator himself. While I was in the chamber I heard him speak, and he deliberately endeavoured to make this a party issue. He accused honorable senators on this side of having brought the matter before the Senate, not in the interests of those who suffered as a result of the action taken, but merely in order that political capital might be made out of it.
– Senator Graham must have known that his effort would be futile and could not succeed. In that case, what other object could he have had ?
– Senator Graham was not in a position to know. I distinctly understood that Senator Kingsmill favoured the proposal submitted by Senator Graham, and I took his speech to be an indication of the manner in which he would vote.
– I am sorry that the honorable senator was disappointed.
– I believe that the Commonwealth Government established an excellent precedent when it decided to compensate the people who suffered because of the efforts taken to wipe out this disease in Western Australia. Some of the cattleowners in that state were almost ruined financially. The action taken was in order to arrest the spread of the disease, and to confine it to Western Australia. It was, therefore, taken in the interests of the people of Australia as a whole, and the expense should be borne by the Commonwealth .
– It saved the cattle industry of Australia.
– The action was taken to prevent the spread of the disease. If it was considered that there was no possibility of the disease extending, why was such drastic action taken? Was it only to get the state out of the difficulty in which it was placed? When the Minister (Senator Pearce) returned from Western Australia, he stated that the action taken was to prevent the disease from spreading to the other states. So long as I have the privilege of sitting in this chamber, I shall give the fullest and the most sympathetic consideration to requests that come from the different states. Had a request come from the Queensland Government on behalf of the cotton-growersof that state, who suffered loss by the action taken to prevent the spread of the boll worm, I would have given it my earnest consideration. Where a state government takes action to wipe out a pest which might possibly extend to the other states, we are entitled to compensate those who suffer loss thereby. I heartily support the request which has come from Western Australia. I do not think, however, that the Government is entitled to shovel out public money to the people who make the claims ; it should first make the fullest and most careful investigation into those claims.
– I have listened with considerable interest to the speeches that have been delivered on this subject. I cannot but feel that our quarantine methods in Australia are very unsatisfactory. We have had the misfortune to have an outbreak of rinderpest in Western Australia. Had the tsetse-fly, with its capacity for inoculating our people with the trymponosome - the causative agent of that dread scourge known as sleeping sickness, which produced such devastation in South Africa - come among us, the position would have been much worse. It is absolutely essential that, in matters of quarantine, we should be in the position to deal with any outbreak. The Govern ment should immediately take this matter in hand, and place the quarantine on an effective basis. One step has been taken, but, if necessary, 100 steps should be taken to make the laws effective. I agree with the statements that have been made from the Ministerial bench regarding payment for the direct losses sustained by reason of the rinderpest outbreak in Western Australia. That is a sound economic principle. I remember that, some years ago, I did some analytical work for a milk vendor, and had to attend a case in the court. In making certain observations in relation to the case on behalf of my client, I showed that one of the biggest dairying industries in England adopted the practice that, where any of their suppliers had a cow in his. herd which showed a positive result from a tuberculin test, and he immediately notified the factory, he was then credited with the amount of milk or cream he would have obtained from that cow. so that he should not be the loser by his action, and the factory would maintain the purity of its supply. That is a sound principle. I know of a person in Tasmania who had an orchard of peach trees from which he obtained his livelihood. An inspector said that the trees were affected with the San Jose scale, and that the trees must all be rooted out. He was an old man, but he received no compensation at all. I do not think that that was right, nor do I think the sugges-. tion made by Senator Poll is right. If a man’s capital invested in the cotton industry is destroyed, as the result of action taken for the eradication of a pest, he should be compensated. We need to be very careful how we deal with this matter. I can readily understand that, if it were dealt with in a wholesale way, the £62,000.000 which the Commonwealth annually receives in revenue would not be sufficient to compensate the whole of the people of Australia for indirect losses due to these visitations. In determining the compensation to be paid in connexion with the outbreak of rinderpest in Western Australia, those who suffered as a result of it should not be over-generously treated, but they should be justly treated in respect of their direct economic losses. The Senate should be concerned, not so much with the payment of a few thousand pounds to sufferers from the outbreak of rinderpest in Western Australia, but with the far more important question of whe ther or not the Government is going to make quarantine effective in Australia. Many pests might be introduced inimical to life, to economy, to agriculture, and other industries, and unless such matters are dealt with carefully, soundly, . and strongly, apart from anything which the Government may have to pay in the way of compensation, the results may. have a very serious effect upon the commercial life of Australia and upon Australian civilization. I could quote many instances from history of the disastrous effects of the admission into a country of pests and diseases. We know what happened to the Greeks, andhow they went down as a nation. God forbid that we should go down as a nation in the same way. Our people must be prepared to do the right thing, and should demand from the Government an effective system of quarantine and public health administration. The rinderpest outbreak in Western Australia was a. very serious matter for those who suffered directly because of it, but surely it should be regarded as an important lesson to Australia. It might be Tasmania’s turn to-morrow, and New South Wales’ turn next day. One cannot tell where a similar outbreak may occur. We need to consider whether we are making use as we ought to do of all the resources of science to protect us in these matters. If we were prepared to deal with them in a thoroughly scientific and economic way, it would be unnecessary for the Senate to consider such votes as that now under discussion. I repeat that we are not so much concerned with the outbreak of rinderpest in Western Australia, as we are with the way in which the whole question of quarantine is dealt with, as it affects Australia as a whole.
Question - That the proposed vote, “ The Department of Health- £124,480,” be reduced by £1 (Senator Graham’s request) - put. The committee divided.
Majority. . 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
– There is one matter to which I wish to call direct attention in connexion with the vote for the Health Department. We have had a report from General Sir Neville Howse against the Spahlinger treatment for tuberculosis. No one questions the ability of Sir Neville Howse, but he has himself admitted that he is not qualified to speak very definitely about the treatment. Since his return to Australia there has appeared in the public press certain letters from a young man who was suffering from tubercolosis, but who, at his own expense, put himself under Mr. Spahlinger. His letters are full of hope and promise, and in connexion with them I wish in a very few woras to put a proposition before the Government. I suggest that it should agree to have six persons in different stages’ of the disease carefully examined here, and should then pay the expense of sending them to Europe to undergo the Spahlinger treatment and have them examined again on their return in order that we may know what results have followed from the treatment. That would be a simple, practical, and common-sense method of testing its efficiency. The letters to which I have referred were written by a young man who was a resident of the town of Parkes, in New South Wales. He went to Europe at considerable expense to undergo the Spahlinger treatment, and he writes in glowing terms of the effect of the treatment on himself and on others. Australia should not lag behind in this matter, as it seems to do in many others. We can understand that when scientists have to report upon the discoveries of other scientists they feel pretty safe in turning them down.If they turn out to be valuable, well and good, and if they do not, those who have adversely criticized them are justified. Amongst the many persons who suffer from tuberculosis it should not be very difficult to find half a dozen who would volunteer to go to Europe to undergo the treatment if their expenses were paid. If it were proved, as the result of such a test, that the treatment is a failure, that would in itself do an immense amount of good. If, on the contrary, it were proved, as the letters of the young man to whom I have referred would lead one to believe, that the treatment is successful in combating the disease, the hope and promise cif benefit which it would give to sufferers from the disease would justify the expenditure involved a. thousand times over. I do not expect the Minister representing the Minister for Health to stand up and say that the Government will accept my proposal, but I do ask him to undertake that the Government shall seriously consider it. If selected cases of various stages of the disease are carefully examined by medical men here, and are again examined after they have undergone the treatment on the other side of the world, we shall have something definite to go upon in coming to a conclusion as to the efficacy or otherwise of the Spahlinger treatment.
– The Government has already seriously considered the matter referred to by the honorable senator. It is exceedingly anxious to do all that is possible in connexion with it. I mentioned on a previous occasion the action we took in London. I had seen the honorable member for Calare (Sir Neville Howse), who had made certain inquiries in connexion with the Spahlinger treatment, and had reported to me. I freely admit that I am not personally qualified to express an opinion upon such a matter, but I went into the case carefully with Sir Neville Howse. Some time later I had an interview, lasting about an hour, with Mr. Spahlinger himself. I must admit that it was not very satisfactory. It was very difficult to get anything very definite from him. A few days later the Prime Minister from New Zealand brought the matter up at the Imperial Conference. The same anxiety waa exhibited there to do everything possible to secure an effective investigation of the treatment. It was not a question’ of money, but merely one of proof, that Mr. Spahlinger could substantiate the claims he made for his treatment. The matter- was not treated lightly. A committee was appointed to investigate it thoroughly and exhaustively, in the interests of the Empire. I was privileged to attend the meetings of the committee, in company with the High Commissioner. Many of the leading medical men of London were present at the meetings of the committee. The chairman made a statement as to the action, which he thought the committee should take. It was decided to adjourn for two or three days, to give him anopportunity to get, into touch with Mr. Spahlinger, and ask him to put his case before the committee. The expense was not in question. Australia was ready to defray its share of whatever expense might be incurred, as also were the other dominions. This man absolutely refused to attend the committee, to state his case, and put the facts before it. It was then definitely decided, and to this I agreed on behalf of Australia, that if the committee of health authorities of Great Britain made any progress in the investigation of the matter it should communicate with Australia. The British Government has authority to act for Australia in any financial arrangements which may be made, and if Spahlinger is willing to conduct test cases on our behalf, the British Government will be willing to make the necessary arrangements at the earliest possible moment. Dr. Cumpston, who will be visiting Great Britain in the course of a few weeks, will conduct further investigations, and continue the work already commenced, in the hope of obtaining necessary supplies of the serum to enable the authorities in Australia to conduct tests, even in a small way, in order to ascertain its efficacy.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £766,433.
.- In division No. 128a it is shown that £14,109 was spent last year in printing pamphlets, &c, in connexion with the British Empire Exhibition. Under the present system of advertising in the Commonwealth Gazette, many who would quote for printing contracts are unaware that tenders are being sought. As all the states are equally interested, greater publicity should be given.
– There is no expenditure under that heading this year.
– No. But expenditure on printing is incurred under other headings.
I should also like the Minister to explain whether it is the intention of the Government to make any overtures to the British Government in regard to the continuation of the Empire Exhibition. I understand there has been a certain amount of controversy in the British press concerning the re-opening of the exhibition. The Australian pavilion at Wembley has been of wonderful value to Australia as an advertising medium, and I trust that the Government will do everything in their power to influence the authorities in the direction I have indicated.
– It would, I think, suit the convenience of the committee if these services were taken in departments. On page 341 there is a number of items upon which I think we should have some information from the Minister. For instance, item No. 2, “ New Hebrides - Grant for special services, £1,300.” Although the amount is small, we should have some information as to how the money is expended, particularly as we receive reports from the islands that the administration is not all that some desire.
There is also a re-vote of the amount agreed to last year of £500 for the British Chamber of Commerce in Paris. Under our policy of protection, we impose heavy import duties upon goods arriving in this country from France, and it seems absurd to appoint commissioners to increase trade with the Commonwealth when we tax the goods from that country at a much heavier rate than those received from Great Britain.
– We want them to purchase our goods.
– The honorable senator knows that owing to the present exchange position it is necessary to import goods in order to square the ledger. Under item No. 7, £800 is to be paid to the International Agricultural Institute of Rome. If we are to vote this sum we might reasonably ask why it is not necessary to vote a sum to similar institutes at Madrid, Vienna, Constantinople, and Moscow.
The sum of £1,000 is also provided in item No. 12 to assist the boy scout movement. I was under the impression that this association was developed and encouraged without Commonwealth or state aid. If we examined the different items in the Appropriation Bill we would probably find substantial sums proposed to be appropriated under other headings for the same purpose.
It is also proposed, under item No. 15, to pay £137,697 to the Central Wool Committee in respect of wool supplied for the local manufacture of wooltops. The action of the Commonwealth in connexion with the wool business has been most unfortunate, and this final payment which was not agreed to by the exPrime Minister is now to be made by the present administration. I trust the Minister will be able to give the committee some information upon these items.
, - In regard to the points raised by Senator Grant, I may explain that item No. 2, “New Hebrides grant for special services,” is to cover the salary of £750 and tropical and house allowance of £150 to the legal representative in the New Hebrides, Mr, Wallace, who watches the interests of the Commonwealth in connexion with land matters, and assists in the preparation and presentation to the joint courtof the New Hebrides of the claims of British settlers. It also covers rebates of one-half the Customs duties which the Commonwealth grant on maize grown by British settlers and imported into Australia from the New Hebrides. It will be noted that only £875 was expended in 1923-24, while £1,300 is provided for 1924-25. This is due to the fact that certain claims for reimbursement of Mr. Wallace’s salary were not received in time to permit of their payment during the last financial year, and it has been necessary to provide for them this year in addition to the current year’s commitments.
In regard to the grant to the British Chamber of Commerce, Paris, I may explain that the Australian Commercial Agent in Paris, Mr. C. H. Voss, occupies accommodation at the offices of the
British Chamber of Commerce. The. grant of £500 paid to. the Chamber of Commerce is in respect of his office accommodation and staff assistance rendered to him.
– What does he do?
– He encourages trade between France and Australia.
– Does he submit reports ?
The amount of £800 to be paid to the International Agricultural Institute at Rome is to cover the. Australian contribution for the year. This institute carries out research work on all matters pertaining to agriculture, and issues bulletins and other publications of great interest to Australia as an agricultural country. The large excess of the expenditure for 1923-24 over the provision is accounted for by the payment of arrears for the previous financial year.
The amount of £1,000 provided for assisting the boy scout movement is to meet any expenditure that may be incurred in connexion with the issue, including packing, cartage, cleaning, &c, of stores and equipment loaned by the Defence Department to various boy scout organizations together with the return of the goods to the store.
In 1920 an agreement was arrived at by which certain wool from the then existing pool was supplied to the Colonial. Combing, Spinning and Weaving Company Limited for the manufacture of wooltops. A promise was given that the Government would allow the Australian wool-growers in respect of this wool the same proportion of profit as would have accrued had it formed part of the wool sold to the Imperial Government. In redemption of this promise it was agreed during 1923-24 to pay to the Central Wool Committee an amount of £275,394. Half of this amount was paid last year from the Treasurer’s Advance pending the supplementary Estimates, and the remaining half is provided on this year’s Estimates. A full statement of the circumstances in connexion with this transaction was given in the Prime Minister’s speech in Hansard of the 6th June, 1924, vide pages 1111-1119.
Senator WILSON (South Australia-
SenatorFollthat as much as possible of the printing work for the Empire Exhibition Commission is done in Australia.
– My suggestion was that the work should be distributed throughout the states.
– The Commonwealth, Gazette circulates throughout the Commonwealth, and business men who are looking for government contracts refer to it. The cost of advertising in all the principal daily papers throughout the Commonwealth would be enormous.
– The period during which tenders remain open might be extended.
– If the contract is big enough we advertise it in the different states, but the advertising of all work for the commission in the daily press of the capital cities would be both cumbersome and costly. A fair quantity of work has been done in New South Wales.
– Queensland received none of the printing.
SenatorWILSON. - Adelaide printers tried to get some of the work, but were beaten in open competition. In regard to the continuanco of the exhibition, I agree that it has done a great deal of good and has given a wonderful advertisement to Australia. Everybody who visited Wembley was astonished by what had been achieved for the credit of the Commonwealth. We have now to decide what shall be done with the Australian pavilion, which covers four acres of ground. Cables have been exchanged with the Imperial authorities, and only this week we asked for a concrete proposal for a continuation of the exhibition next year. If the exhibition can be continued at reasonable cost, and the British Government gives substantial support to the proposal, the Commonwealth Government will seriously considerwhether such a prolongation would be desirableon account of theadvertisement which Australia wouldreceive.
-What is the attitude of the other dominions’?
– It is similar to thatof Australia. Some months ago we decided that we could not recommend the re-opening of the exhibition, and I think that Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, “and Newfoundland took the same view. Since that date there has beena change of opinion;. Australia occupies probably the most advantageous position at Wembley, and it would be a great pity if our pavilion had to be pulled down or lot before further use was made of it ‘for the benefit of this country. However, before we can seriously discuss the future- policy in regard to it, we must have a concrete -proposal before us. I hope to receive information on the subject next week, and to be able to make a statement to the Senate later.
– There is an item of £500 for relief work at Kendenup. Where is that place, and to what purpose is the money being applied?
– The grant is for the relief of returned soldiers who were rendered destitute through difficulties experienced in connexion with the settlement at Kendenup, in Western Australia.
SenatorGardiner. - The committee should have full opportunity to discuss the payment of £137,697 to the Central Wool Committee, and I suggest that progress should bc reported at this stage.
. -In moving -
That the Senate do now adjourn
I remind honorable senators of the possibility that business from another place may make it necessary for the Senate to meet on Tuesday of next week.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.23 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 September 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1924/19240924_senate_9_109/>.