10th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read, prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
Copies of Immigration Act. 1901-1925, and Peace Officers Act 1925.
Deportation Proceedings under section 8AA of Immigration Act 1901-1925 -
Reports of Board appointed to inquire into cases of Thomas Walsh and Jacob Johnson.
Reasons for Judgment of High Court on Appeals by Thomas Walsh and Jacob Johnson.”
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Minis ter representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The right honorable the Prime Minister has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– Mr. Canning did not claim fees as chairman of the Deportation Board, pending a decision as to whether he was entitled to receive such fees. It has now been decided that Mr. Canning will be paid fees at the same rates as the other members of the Deportation Board.
– On the loth instant Senator Gardiner asked that certain papers relating to the Deportation Board might be placed on the table of the Senate. I now have these papers, but, for departmental reasons, it is better to lay the papers containing transcript of shorthand notes on the table of theLibrary. I lay on the table of the Senate the judgment of the High Court, together with reasons for judgment, and copies of the Immigration Act and Peace Officers’ Act.
Motion (by Senator Foll) agreed to -
That two months’ leave of absence be granted to Senator Reid on account of urgent private business.
– I move -
That the bill he now read a second time.
This measure was introduced in the last Senate prior to the recent election, and had passed its second reading without a division, but since this is a new Parliament it is necessary to re-introduce it. I trust, therefore, that those honorable senators who were members of this Chamber in the last Parliament will forgive me if, in the course of my remarks, I am guilty of repetition. Certain important facts concerning the history of the Northern Territory should be stated in the presentation of this mea sure, so that we may appreciate the extent of the difficulties encountered in the development of that portion of Australia. Its rate of progress has been infinitely slower than that of any other part of the Commonwealth. For thisthere must be some cause. It is as well, therefore, that we should look at the historical facta, and endeavour, if possible, to ascertain the cause. It is 100 years since the first British settlement was formed at Port Dundas in Melville Island. Northern Australia was then attached to the then colony of New South “Wales; and was administered from Sydney until 1863, when it was transferred to South Australia, which colony controlled its destinies until it was transferred to the Commonwealth Government in 1911. It is interesting to note that the constitution granted to the colony of New South Wales in 1823 provided for an advisory council partly elected and partly nominated. At that time the population of New South Wales,which, of course, comprised a much greater area than the present State boundaries, was something under 40,000 people. It is sometimes assumed that the decline of population in the Northern Territory has happened entirely since the Commonwealth took over control. That is not so, although I have often noticed, in reading South Australian newspapers particularly, that it is assumed that before the Commonwealth took over the Territory it was at least not retrogressive, but has since declined in prosperity. The facts, as shown by the Commonwealth YearBook, are that from 1891 to 1911, a period of twenty years, while the South Australian Government had control, the European population decreased by 1,600, or 31 per cent. Whatever may have been the causes of that decline, and whatever may be the causes of the decline since, they are certainly not due solely to the fact that the Territory was transferred from South Australia to the Commonwealth. There isalso the further fact to be borne in mind, that the Commonwealth took over the Territory in 1911, and had control for only three years before the outbreak of war in 1914. From 1914 to 1918 all the energies of the Commonwealth Parliament and Government were concentrated on the war, and it is fair to say that from 1918 until 1920 or 1921, all the energies of Parliament were concentrated on ‘the problems of reconstruction and repatriation. If honorable senators will take these facts into consideration, they will realize that there were only three years before the war, and, Bay, four years subsequent to 1921, when the Commonwealth had any real opportunity to devote itself to the problems of settling and developing the Territory.
I have had the privilege of being for some time the Minister controlling the Northern Territory, and I have learned at least this, that he is a very foolish man who dogmatizes about the problems of the north of Australia. I have also learned that, while we may form opinions about how to develop the Territory, we must be very charitable and lenient to those who differ from us. Many earnest Ministers of the Commonwealth have endeavoured to put the Territory on its feet, but their efforts have not been crowned with success. Their failures, which have been costly, and in some cases disastrous, point to certain things that we can avoid, and teach us lessons that probably had to be learned. In future, with the experience of the past to guide us, we should be able to avoid similar disasters and failures. I shall give the Senate Some figures to show the present condition of the Territory. Its financial position is shown in the following figures: -
The Commonwealth has redeemed loans raised by the State of South Australia to the amount of £2,738,667. Tha transactions for the year 1924-25 were : -
Looking at those figures, one can realize that at any rate the Commonwealth has not been niggardly in the expenditure of money. The Northern Territory has been a heavy financial burden for the Commonwealth to carry. That the position is not without some hope is shown by the population figures for the period since the Commonwealth took over the Territory. Those figures are interesting as showing that the population, from the time the Commonwealth took over, began sloWly to increase, following the continual decline for the previous twenty years while the Territory was under the control of the State of South Australia. The European population of the Territory increased from 3,271 in 1911 to 3,648 in 1914. In that year Vestey’s Meat Works were installed, and that caused a comparatively large increase in the population, which amounted to 5,062 in 1918-19, the -last year during which the meat works were operating. After the meat works had been closed, the population gradually decreased until, in 1921-22, it was 3,291 ; but I am glad to say that from 1922 there has been a slow but gradual increase, until it now stands at 3,406. The significant fact is that from 1911 to 1925 the Asiatic population decreased by 492 and the European population increased by 627. Although the net crease is only 135, it is satisfactory to those who hope to see the north developed by a white population that there has been an increase in the European population and a decrease in the Asiatic population.
– What is the present Asiatic population?
– I have not the figures with me, but I believe that it is about 1,000 or 1,200.
– How does the Minister account for the decline in the Asiatic population?
– Under the operation of our White Australia policy Asiatics are not now permitted to enter the Commonwealth, and a number of the male Chinese who were in the Territory prior to the coming into force of our restrictive legislation are gradually dying out. On the other hand, there are Chinese families who have obtained Austraiian domicile and Chinese of the second generation born in the Territory.
– It is said that some Asiatics are being smuggled in at the present time.
– Not “so many as the newspapers would have us believe. I shall now give honorable senators some figures in regard to the pastoral laud settlement that has taken place since the Commonwealth took over the Territory. A considerable portion of the pastoral leases are held under laud acts passed by the State of South Australia. Others are held under a Commonwealth Crown Lands Ordinance. The respective figures, are : 210 held under the South Australian laws, with an area of 96,640 square miles, and 229 held under the Commonwealth Crown Lands Ordinance, with an area of 76,695 square miles. The total number of leases is thus 439 covering an area of 173,335 square miles. A little while ago this Government submitted to Parliament a proposed new Crown Lands Ordinance for the Territory. The Government’s purpose in drawing up this ordinance was to induce pastoralists who held their leases under the South Australian laws to surrender them and ‘ come under the Commonwealth ordinance. The intention was to obviate a difficulty which the South Australian legislature- had created by inserting in the leases a provision that they could not be resumed except for agricultural purposes and which had been accentuated by a provision in the Northern Territory Acceptance Act which bound the Commonwealth not to alter the terms of those leases. The result was that until the leases expired the Commonwealth had no power to resume any portion of them for pastoral purposes. The new ordinance offered to the lessees under the South Australian acts terms which the Government hoped would induce them to surrender their holdings and bring them under the Commonwealth ordinance, which gave them certain powers of resumption. I am pleased to say that sixteen pastoral leases held under South Australian acts, with an area of 5,780 square miles, have been surrendered and brought under the new Commonwealth Crown Lands Ordinance, while 58 leases, with an area of 22,627 square miles held under the original Commonwealth Crown Lands Ordinance, have also been surrendered. Furthermore, quite a number of the other leases held under South Australian acts are now before- the Land Board for consideration, and I have every hope that before long practically all the leases held under South Australian acts will be surrendered and brought under the operation of the new ordinance. We shall then have the power to resume a very large area of the land that was formerly held under conditions which did not permit of resumption except for agricultural purposes. Since the Crown Lands Ordinance of 1925. came into operation, 76 grazing licences, with a total area of 20,752 square miles, have been taken up.. These are interesting figures, because the Government believes that the line of development which is most likely to succeed in the Northern Territory is the development of the pastoral industry, and that attention should be concentrated upon that industry. At the same time, every encouragement is to be given to the mineral industry as will be shown in a bill which will shortly be brought before the Senate. The Government thinks it would be premature to spend money in endeavouring to develop agriculture at the present time. Agriculture may develop in years to come, but only out of the development of the pastoral industry. This bill will set up in the Territory itself a body that ‘will have the power, and also the financial ability, to encourage the pastoral industry.
It is just as well at this stage to dispel some illusions that honorable senators may have in regard to this portion of Australia. I have obtained from the Meteorological Department a map of the Northern Territory which shows how favorably circumstanced it is, in regar’d to rainfall, for the development of the pastoral industry. The map shows the rainfall statistics over a period of many years. Just below the 25th parallel of south latitude, almost down to the South Australian border, the average rainfall is between 10 inches and 15 inches. Below that line the average is below 10 inches. A glance at the map will show what a small portion of the Northern Territory has an average rainfall of less than 10 inches - a very much smaller portion than is to be found in South Australia, Western Australia, or Queensland. To the north of this belt, with a rainfall of between 10 inches and 15 inches, there is another belt, where the average rainfall is between 15 inches and 20 inches. This belt runs right across the famous Barkly Tablelands and the Victoria River country. Further north is another belt, which also covers portion of these tablelands, and has an average rainfall’ of from 20 inches to 25. inches. Still further north is a belt with an average rainfall of 30 inches. This averagereally determines the area of the good land from a pastoral point of view, because the land north of the 30-in. rainfall line is inferior pastoral country. The good pastoral country can be said to be contained in the area lying between the 30-in. and 10-in. rainfall lines. There is also other good pastoral country in the vicinity of theMacdonnell Ranges, which is within the- 10-in. rainfall belt. For the moment, however, I am not referring to . that area. In the Northern Territory, to the north of the tropic of Capricorn, there is a larger area with a suitable rainfall than there is in the corresponding territory of either Queensland or Western Australia. That is a feature which is well worth remembering. The following is a comparison between Western Australia and the Northern Territory : -
Then there are also in the Territory about 60,000 square miles that have a rainfall exceeding 40 inches.
– The rainfall has. a different significance in the two places.
– I grant that. I. am dealing with this matter somewhat extensively, because I want to show what great prospects there are for the development of the pastoral industry on the tablelands in the Northern Territory if means of communication are given. I have in my hand another very interesting map which gives the records relating to the rainfall at various stations. Some of those records cover a period of 52 years. That applies particularly to those relating to places on the transcontinental teleT graph line. The shortest period covered is about 32years, which furnishes a fairly good test. The map shows that in the area which has a rainfall of between 10 and 30 inches the fall is more regular and less subject to variation than is the case in country of a similar character in Queensland or Western Australia. Let me give some points to illustrate that. I take a typical place on the Barkly Tablelands - Bnuiette, where the average annual rainfall over a period of 28 years has been 1,536 points. The highest rainfall was 32 inches, and the lowest 3 inches. Compare that with Boulia, a town in the western part of Queensland. It is the centre of a very successful pastoral district, which carries both sheep and cattle.
– It is much further south than Brunette.
– It is in good pastoral country. Boulia has an average rainfall of 11 inches. The highest fall in any one year has been 27 inches, and the lowest 95 points. Take Winton. The average there is 15 inches, the highest fall 30 inches, and the lowest fall 341 points. Richmond has an average of 18 inches, the highest having been 45 inches, and the lowest 4 inches. At Hall’s Creek, in the Victoria River country, the average is 20 inches, whilst, the highest fall has been 42 inches, and the lowest 8 inches. At Victoria Downs station the average is 23 inches, the highest fall 47 inches, and the lowest fall 10 inches. The significance of the figures lies in the fact that the herbage in the Victoria River country and on the Barkly Tablelands is exactly similar to that upon which the prosperity of Longreach, Winton, and other Queensland pastoral towns has been built up. I refer to the Flinders and Mitchell grasses, which extend right across the Barkly Tablelands into the Victoria River country. The Northern Territory, however, has the added advantage of a rainfall which is more reliable than that which is met with either to the west or the east.
– The areas in Queensland to which the Minister refers do not depend wholly and solely on rainfall; they have artesian and sub-artesian water.
– The Queensland areas certainly possess the advantage of artesian water. Western Australia does not possess a similar advantage, so far as is known. There are surface waters in the Kimberly country, in rivers, creeks and water holes, but those sources of supply aremet with also in the Victoria River and Victoria Downs country, which are well watered. On the Barkly Tablelands, which adjoin Queensland territory, artesian water has not ‘ so far been struck, but whenever a bore has been put down to a depth of from 200 to 400 feet water has been struck, and the records do not disclose any failures. The only difference between the Barkly Tablelands and the Queensland areas is that in the’ former the water has to be raised to the surface.
– What class of water do they get ?
– It is not always potable, but, invariably, it is good water for stock.
– It rises to the surface as far south as the Hamilton bore.
– When you get down to the Macdonnell Ranges you are in the proved artesian basin. No artesian bore has been put down on the Barky Tablelands, but it is quite possible for such water to be struck there. They have not gone beyond the sub-artesian supply, because it has met their requirements. Competent judges who know Australian country, and what can be done with sheep, are quite confident that sheep-raising can be established on a large scale both on the Barkly Tablelands, and in the Victoria Downs country. The question arises as to why sheep are not placed there. One has only to travel through the country to realize the reason for it. I visited places on the Barkly. Tablelands where I was shown the station accounts, and I found that flour purchased at £12 a ton in Sydney cost £52 a ton on arrival at its destination. In other words; the freight and other transport charges amounted to £40 a ton. If sheep are to be placed on these areas, vermin-proof fences will be necessary, because the wild dog abounds there. Imagine what the cartage would he on the necessary fencing material. It is well known that in cattle raising the station buildings that are required for sheep are not needed. Cattle can be walked off a station to the market, whereas the wool has to be carted. The transport charges furnish the reason why sheep-raising would not pay there under present conditions. If sheep had to be taken to a market they would need to be driven many miles before reaching the rail head. Many of these stations are 400, 500 and 600 miles from the nearest rail-head, which would be probably 600 miles from the nearest port. In my own journey through that country I left the rail-head at the Katherine River, and travelled in a south-easterly direction to the railhead at Longreach, a distance of 1,400 miles.
– And through good country.
– Yes, good country practically all the way, but country that under present conditions, owing to lack of communication and the means of transport, cannot possibly be put to its full use.
– Is it to the Barkly Tablelands that the Minister is now referring?
– I came through that country, but the rainfall returns I have quoted relate to both the Victoria Downs country and the Barkly Tablelands.
The question naturally arises as to why it is impossible . under the present system of government to get the necessary things done in the Northern Territory. First of all, let me point out that the various States developed under quite different conditions from those now obtaining in this territory. Each of the States was first a Crown colony under the British
Colonial Office. Then a nucleus of population was established at some centre within easy, reach of fertile lands near the coast. From that nucleus, settlement gradually spread towards the interior, and when there was sufficient population the colonists were given a certain measure of self-government. In nearly every instance, in the early stages, the colonies received grants from the British Government to enable them to proceed with developmental works. As the settlements grew the people gradually established themselves in the hinterland, but, in the case of the Northern Territory different conditions have prevailed. It stands in very much the same relationship to the Commonwealth as the Crown colonies in those days stood to Downing-street. The Commonwealth Government is the governing body, and it has placed in the Northern Territory an Administrator who is responsible to the Minister who controls the particular department under which the Territory happens to be placed. While the primary interests of members of the Federal Parliament is to their constituencies, if they are in the House of Representatives, and to their States if they are members of the Senate, each of them has a secondary interest in the Northern Territory. The Commonwealth Government has at all times found a continual and pressing demand for the expenditure of public money on various forms of development, such as defence, and the provision of postal and telegraphic services in already settled areas. This is not surprising, especially when one remembers that for more than half the period of Commonwealth control the Government has been faced with the great problems of war and reconstruction. No Government, therefore, has been able to devote the whole of its attention to the problem of developing the northern portion of Australia, and so rivetting the attention of Parliament upon it as to obtain the necessary supplies of money to enter into a big developmental scheme for the construction of railways and roads, and the provision of water supplies and telegraph facilities in the quantities and in the places where they are re* quired.
Then, Mr. President, there is another factor that may seem to honorable senators, until they examine it, to be of no great account, but which is, in reality, of the utmost importance. It is singular to find that the climate of- Australia, has in one respect1, a disastrouseffect upon, our financial system; nevertheless it has. The rainfall in the north falls in the summer months. That is to say, the wet season is from the end of November or the beginning of December until the end of April or the- beginning of May. It will be- remembered that our financial year commences on- the 1st of July and ends on 30th. of June. What happens is this : A zealous Minister, desirous of doing something to grapple with the Northern Territory problem’, conceives ideas by which he hopes to achieve substantial results. He has a> furious struggle in the Cabinet room with his colleagues, who look upon his schema as fanciful, and probably doomed to go the way of all the rest that have been previously mooted. They are suspicious of everything he does, because some Minister before him attempted to do something and failed. But eventually he succeeds in securing a grant of some money for this unfortunate Territory. Then, after his proposals have run -Iia gamut of Cabinet discussion, that awful individual, the Treasurer, comes, along with his axe. After he has gone through the draft estimates of all departments, lie finds that there is not enough money for the purposes of his budget, and the axe has to fall somewhere. If it should fall, on the Post Office the Treasurer knows that every member’ of the House of Representatives and every member of this Chamber also would be after him. But here is a country that has had no representative in Parliament until recent years, and even now its constituents have no effective vote. Therefore, down comes the axe on theNorthern Territory estimates. After this turmoil and struggle, the unfortunate Minister for Home and Territories emerges with some small morsel. Then his proposals h;ive to be submitted to Parliament. As we all know, the budget is seldom introduced before the end of August.
– What an admission of failure !
– No. I am telling honorable senators about our parliamentary machine, and how unfitted it is to deal with this problem. I am not responsible for it; it is here. About August the budget is presented. No money can be spent under the estimates, because, as yet, Parliament has not approved of them. All that one can do is by means of the usual Supply Bills, which carry the departments on the basis of the previous year’s expenditure. It may be that the budget is not passed until the end of the year. This is January, and we have only just got the estimates before us. It means that if there is any new expenditure - any new idea - one cannot begin to expend money on the Northern Territory until the end of the wet season. Even if Parliament voted the money now, it would be impossible to proceed with the work in the Territory, because the wet season has started. It would be April or May at the earliest before the Government could commence works there, and as the financial year ends in June there would be practically only two months within which to expend money on any new scheme initiated.
– If the close of the financial year were altered, would there not be the same difficulty in the south ?
– My purpose is to explain the difficulty that confronts the Government, and to expose the faults of the present system of finance when an attempt is made to apply it to the task of developing a State. This system works quite satisfactorily in the southern portions of Australia, where it is possible to carry out public works all the year round, but it hampers us in Northern Territory administration.
– The winter season is the best for road making work in the southern portions of Australia.
– Yes, but it is impossible to carry out works in the Northern Territory during the wet season. Under our present system, if the expenditure on any proposed public work is estimated to exceed £25,000, it must be referred to the Public Works Committee for report. The committee is an estimable body, but it happens to be located in Melbourne, and it is called upon to report on various other public works throughout the Commonwealth, unless they are specially exempted by Parliament. Therefore, any proposal involving expenditure of money in the Northern Territory, assuming the amount to be more than £25,000, would have to take its turn with others in the inquiries to be held by the Public Works Com mittee. If members of that body are to investigate Northern Territory proposals on the spot, they will have to travel practically to the other end of Australia. As there is only one steamer a month to Darwin, at least three or four months would elapse before their report could be presented to Parliament, that is if they spent any time in the Northern Teritory. If Parliament were not sitting the work would have to stand over until the next session, when it would come forward with the recommendation of the Public Works Committee. If the wet season set in before parliamentary approval had been secured the work would be further delayed. I ask honorable senators to visualize the difficulties confronting any administration in attempting the development of a State under these conditions. The task is infinitely more difficult than it was in any of the States of the Commonwealth. In Victoria, for example, there was fertile land within easy distance of the capital, and although the discovery of gold led to a big influx of population the pastoral development of the colony commenced quite close to Melbourne and on areas contiguous to the sea-board. It so happens that in the Northern Territory the areas contiguous to the sea-board comprise the poorest land. To reach even the fringe of the country where pastoral development is most promising, you have to go at least 200 miles inland.
To overcome the difficulties I have outlined., the Government proposes’ to. appoint a commission which will be charged with the task of initiating developmental schemes and raising the necessary money with the consent of, or through the Treasurer, for the carrying out of approved public works. It is not proposed to continue the present system. The commission to be appointed will be vested with the same authority as that given to the Federal Capital Commission or to the River Murray Commission, and, like those bodies, it will be called upon to present its proposals for the development of the Northern Territory to the Minister. These will go before Cabinet, and if endorsed will be submitted to Parliament for approval. If parliamentary authorization is secured, the Treasurer will find the necessary money for the year’s programme. If, however, the works contemplated are not of any great magnitude, but represent what may be regarded as ordinary expenditure such as is carried out to-day by the Home and Territories Department, including boring for water, and providing improved means of transport and communication, they will not be brought before Parliament item by item. We- are not experimenting in the dark, because, as I have shown, this procedure is adopted in the case of the Federal Capital Commission. That body submits its programme of new works, and if the proposed eexpenditure is less than £25.000 and within the estimates submitted to the Government, it has authority to go ahead and carry out the works.
– Will the Northern Territory Commission be expected to redeem loans raised for public works ?
– It is proposed to ear-mark the debt against the Northern Territory, which will be expected, eventually, to shoulder the liability.
– Are we to understand that the commission will have authority to go on to the loan market ?
– It will have authority to adopt the same procedure as is approved for the Federal Capital Commission and the River Murray Commission. Probably it will be some time before it will be in a position to raise loans on its own initiative. The Treasurer will find the money, but it is possible that some day he may prefer that the commission should raise loans on its own account.
– Will the commission have authority to carry out public works involving the expenditure of over £25,000 without an inquiry by the Public Works Committee ?
– Yes, in a way which I propose to indicate presently, but not without the consent of. Parliament. The commission will really take the place of the Public Works Committee in regard to all expenditure for the development of the Northern Territory, unless Parliament decides that certain works shall be referred to the committee.
– Is the commission to have greater power in this respect than is vested in the Parliament ?
– No, because Parliament will have reserved to it the right to refer any work to the Public Works Committee. In the ordinary course, the Northern Territory Commission, subject to the approval of ihe Minister, will have authority to prepare and carry out developmental schemes, and Parliament will be asked to vote the necessary money out of revenue or out of loan. When the River Murray Commission was appointed, the representatives of the three States Governments concerned and the Commonwealth came together, and had placed before them a scheme of operations extending over a period of many years. They agreed to the general scheme, and undertook to provide their proportion of the proposed expenditure. Each year the commission remits to the responsible States estimates of their proportion of expenditure for the forthcoming year, and carries out theprojects, which have previously been examined and reported upon by experts attached to the commission. The expenditure appears every year in either the loan or revenue account of the Commonwealth Department. This has been found to be the only satisfactory method of ensuring a continuity of policy and expenditure on works essential for the proper development of the river Murray. There may be from time to time some slight variation in regard to details, but the original policy has been adhered to throughout, notwithstanding all the changes of government in the States and the Commonwealth since the appointment of the Commission. This is what we are aiming at in the future development of the Northern Territory. We wish to ensure continuity of policy, and we believe that the appointment of a commission vested with the authority I have outlined will result in the initiation of useful developmental schemes extending over a period of years.
Unless this is done I despair of any development or progress in the Territory. Parliament, as constituted at present,’ is not. the proper instrument to deal with so great an undertaking. I am convinced that if the framers of the Constitution had visualized the future obligations of the Commonwealth they would have fashioned a different administrative machine for the development of a new State. It has been said that the present method of Northern Territory administration is cumbersome. It is. Some critics urge that a solution of our difficulties lies in giving the Administrator more power, and almost in the same breath they declare that the Minister should not be allowed to dodge his responsibilities. All I can say is that if we give the Administrator full power to incur expenditure without reference to the Minister, then the Minister cannot be held responsible. Parliament to-day holds the Minister responsible, and the Minister being responsible, he must be allowed to give or withhold his approval. It is no reflection on the members of the administration to say that under that system they are hampered. Of course they are, and I fail to see how that can be altered, unless not only the power to spend the money, but also the responsibility, is placed on the shoulders of those who carry out these various schemes. If the responsibility is placed on some one in Melbourne, we may depend on it that, human nature being as it is, the man who is responsible will shelter himself by insisting that, his authority must be obtained before anything is done. I urge that we should give the commission the power and clothe it wiT-h the responsibility. If Parliament feels that the commission is abusing its power, and not discharging its responsibilities wisely and well, then let Parliament remove its members and substitute others who will give more satisfaction. That policy is essential when dealing with a country so far from the Seat of Government as the Northern Territory. The Northern Territory itself is a vast country. Do honorable senators realize that Darwin is 1,100 miles from the southern border of the Territory? There is telegraphic communication, but no railway communication between the two points. The only means of transit is by pack horse and camel team. At Alice Springs there are Government officials who are under the Administrator at Darwin. If the authorities in Melbourne wish to deal with something affecting an official at Alice Springs and write a letter through the Administrator at Darwin, it will take at least three months, under the most favorable conditions, for it to reach its destination.
– Could not such matters be dealt with by telegram ?
– Sometimes they can, but the element of cost has to be considered. A large part of departmental work is done by correspondence Another aspect of this bill is that it proposes to separate administration ‘from development. The primary duty of the commission will be the development of the country, but there are administrative duties also to be performed, such as those connected with the police force, education, justice, aborigines, health, and certain other matters. It is not proposed to burden the commission with those administrative duties. There will be a government resident officer at Darwin and another at Alice Springs. If we can obtain a suitable man, the government resident officer at Darwin will be a police magistrate with legal training, and will thus be able to occupy a dual position. As there is no doctor within 1,000 miles of Alice’ Springs, and there will shortly be railway development there, it is intended that the government officer resident there shall be a medical man and act, also as chief medical officer. The Territory will be divided into two districts, to be called North Australia and Central Australia, in the hope that some day they will become states of Australia. It will be divided in this, way for administrative purposes. In the north administrative services will be carried out by the government resident, functioning much as the administrator at Darwin does to-day, but dealing only with minor services. The government resident at Alice Springs, instead of functioning through the administrator in Darwin-, will deal direct with the Minister in Melbourne. Improved railway communication will very much expedite the work of administration in the south of the Territory. When sufficient population has been attracted to the Territory the full grant of local self -government will be justified. We are now commencing with the germ of self-government, by giving to the people a partly elected and partly nominated advisory council, which will advise the Government residents in administrative matters. This is only a small beginning, but it is a beginning, and will promote interest by the people in those matters that more closely concern them. The Developmental Commission will concern itself with the development of that portion of the Territory lying north of the 20th parallel of south latitude. The development of the southern portion will be carried out from Melbourne, aB at present. When honorable senators consider that development will consist largely in the building, of the railway from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs, and the necessary works radiating from it, they will see that the development of the south, with railway communication with Adelaide and Melbourne, can be more conveniently carried on from the south than from Darwin. Furthermore, there is not in the south the difficulty that arises in the north from the wet season, interrupting public works. In the north, which is isolated, the Developmental Commission., with funds made available by Parliament, will exercise executive power, thus avoiding the need for. referring all matters to Melbourne for Ministerial approval.
That, in rough outline, is the scheme the Government presents to the Parliament, and it asks the Parliament to give the proposal an early trial. It isfelt that the time has arrived when we must do something definite with the north, of Australia. We cannot allow it to remain empty and idle. I do not say that this bill is the final word in the development of the Territory; it is merely a commencement. If means of communication are provided, I am quite confident that before many years are past we shall see a great development in the tableland country. I never was: so heartened by anything during my travels in Australia as when I saw the fine town of Longreach, in Queensland. There are people who. think that pastoral development means a very scanty population. In the centre of Queensland there are two fine, prosperous towns - Longreach and Winton - which have fair populations, and are doing a thriving business.’ They exist entirely on the pastoral industry, for there is no cultivation withinhundreds of miles of them.
– And they are typical of many other towns in Queensland.
– Quite so. if we can get millions of sheep on to the tableland country, withproper means of access, I am quite sure that it will support a large, thriving, and healthy population. We need not concern ourselves with what are called “ the problems of the tropics.” The tablelands have the same climate as the north-western district of Queensland, where healthy, happy and prosperous white people have lived for a long time. There is no tropical health problem in that part of the Northern Territory. The health of the people who live there is as good as that of- the people who live anywhere in Australia. I met a man who had lived there for 40 years, and I saw others who were healthy, strong, and vigorous, and did not look their age. They scoffed at the idea of there being any drawback to white people living in that part of the country. In the coastal belt there is a different problem’. It is low-lying, with a humid climate. On the tablelands, even when the temperature is high, the air is dry, and even in the wet season is not humid. In the coastal belt the atmosphere is humid, and the wet bulb thermometer registers high records. That part of the Territory is not so suitable for pastoral development. It may be suitable for agriculture, but only tropical agriculture. The development of tropical agriculture presents a problem which, in view of the high cost of production, seems insoluble at present, but it is being demonstrated that, with all the difficulties, some kinds of agriculture can be developed. Cotton is being successfully grown by white people, and peanuts are being profitably grown by some settlers, while others are engaged in the cultivation of tobacco leaf, rice, and various other things. Parliament need not worry itself about these matters ; let it first provide the means of development for that part of the country where we are absolutely certain the white race can live and thrive.
– Does not the Minister think that it would be better for the Government to construct the proposed railway through the glorious country he has just described, instead of wasting money in building it from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs ?
– There is really no opposition between the two proposed lines of railway. The hope of development in the southern portion of the Territory lies in two tilings. There is a. possibility of great mineral development in the Macdonnell Ranges and other ranges in the vicinity. There, is also good pastoral country there, which, if it is tobe developed, must be tapped by a railway. The nearest point from which a railway can be constructed into that country is Port Augusta, which is the natural port for the MacDonnell Ranges. There is no reason why we should place the two schemes in opposition to each other. There is no doubt that the problem of each of those places is the same - communication - but there is no reason why, because one believes in giving communication to the north, he should refuse to give it to the south.
– Why not give the more profitable scheme preference?
– I am not prepared to say that one scheme will be more profitable than the other. No man can predict what may happen in the way of mineral development in the Macdonnell Ranges. There may be startling developments in that direction.
– We are assured of a good result in the Barkly Tablelands, but the result of the other proposal is problematical.
– No, it is not problematical. The Burt Plains to the north of the Macdonnell Ranges are said by competent judges to be equal to any other country in Australia.
– So they are. I know it, because I have been over those plains.
– I am quite sure that with railway communication these things can be done. I apologize for taking up so much of the time of the Senate, but the matter with which I am dealing is one of the most important that could come before the Senate. The Government is iii earnest in its desire to do something practical and immediate for the Territory. It recognizes that there is a weakness in endeavouring to carry on development at such a distance from the seat of government under - the existing parliamentary governmental and departmental methods.
– The Minister spoke of the people up there having a voice in the control of the territory. Is the commission to be an elective body ?
– No, it will be appointed, but the advisory committees will be partly elective and partly nominated. Their responsibility will be to give advice to the government residents only, and solely on questions dealt with by the government residents, such as administration, education, health, justice, police, and aborigines. They will have no v(.ice in regard to developmental questions.
– Then there will be a government resident and an advisory committee in each territory.
– Yes, but the advisory committees need not meet very frequently. They need not meet more than once or twice a year, but it is. advisable to have them brought together occasionally to get their views on questions of administration. By that means the government residents will secure valuable advice which, in turn, they can supply to the commissioners and, through them, to the Minister. The people who have their homes in the Territory are entitled to some voice in the control of their affairs. The Government’s proposal is really the germ of local self-government, which we hope will later on, when there is sufficient population in the Territory, develop into a fully qualified local governmental machine to which we can hand over the task of development. That is the Government’s view.
The time has arrived when we should review the whole question, and ask ourselves whether we really think that the parliamentary machine as it is constituted today is the proper means of carrying out development. We have already realized the great advantage there is in placing the development of the Federal Capital Territory in the hands of the Federal Capital Commission. The records in the Home and Territories Department show that this step has already resulted in very large economies, has expedited the rate of building, and has cheapened the cost of construction. I have every confidence that the commission will continue the good work it has commenced. The record of the River Murray Waters Commission is also one that, will well bear investigation. The success that has- attended the appointment of these commissions is justification for the Government and the Parliament delegating some of their business powers to men selected because of their special fitness .to carry out such duties, and Parliament, without depriving itself of the ultimate power of the control of the purse, will have some guarantee that the tasks it wants carried out will be “carried out effectively and promptly by men competent to. undertake them.
When this bill is passed it is proposed to select the very best men for the commission.
– Then they will have to be paid more than is proposed at present.
– If that be the only drawback, we shall not hesitate to ask Parliament for more money, because we believe it is necessary to get good men. The success of the development of the north will depend largely upon the kind of men who are chosen. The Government has no one ear-marked for appointment. It intends to make the best and wisest selection possible, and it hopes that Parliament will give it the power to do so, so that something definite may be done for the development of the Northern Territory.
Debate (on motion by Senator Needham) adjourned.
.- I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is technical in somerespects, but involves a matter of principle. There are two amendments of the existing law, for which it provides. The first is merely a drafting amendment to the definition of “ Minister,” which is not quite correct as it stands in the Act to-day. The second repeals section 11 of the existing act, which prohibits the sale of land as freehold. The Government desires to be able to give a grant in freehold for agricultural and town lots. It is not proposed to give grants of freehold for pastoral or grazing land, but it is realized that agricultural development in the Northern Territory can only take place on a freehold basis. People will never be induced to go there and develop it on a leasehold basis.
– ‘Since when has the Minister come to that conclusion ?
– Experience has taught me the absolute failure of the leasehold system: I have never denied that there was a time when I believed in the leasehold system, but I do not believe in it to-day. Nothing has helped to convert me more than the experience of the Northern Territory. In more attractive areas we may be able to settle an agricultural community under the leasehold system, but I am quite sure that people will not take up agricultural lands, under the leasehold system, in the least attractive and most difficult part of Australia, so long as they can get freeholds in any other part of Australia. They can go to the neighbouring State of Western Australia and get freehold lands. That is the principle contained in this bill. It is a straight-out issue. The Government believes that the freehold system should apply to agricultural lands and town lots. It is just as well for honorable senators to know that a considerable number of town lots in the Northern Territory are now held as freeholds. There is not much to be said on this bill. I do not propose to enter upon a long discussion of the merits of freehold as compared with leasehold tenure. All I wish to say is that if the leasehold system, in its application to agricultural lands, is to be judged by its success in the Northern Territory it will be discarded very quickly. The Government feels that any one who tackles agriculture under the conditions prevailing in the Territory should have the best security of tenure which can be given for his pluck in doing so. It wants, therefore, the power to grant freeholds, but it does not propose to use it indiscriminately. It proposes to base the grant of freehold only on the actual cultivation of the land. That is to say, each area will first of all be held as a leasehold, but when the holder has complied, with certain conditions as to cultivation and improvement of a certain portion of it, he will be able to convert it into freehold. Therefore, it will not be an absolute freehold grant irrespective of what is done by the holder. It will be a freehold grant conditional on the carrying out of a certain amount of improvements and cultivation.
– Will this bill give power to the Government to grant a freehold in connexion with the construction of a land grant railway.
– I do not know that it will do that, but it will give power to grant freeholds to land settlement companies. Under an ordinance proposed to be drawn up under the provisions of this bill if it becomes law, the Minister will be’ empowered to enter into an agreement with. any company which undertakes to spend a certain amount of money on the cultivation and settlement of land for agricultural purposes, and asthe settlers it secures are placed on the landand established there, freehold titles can be issued to them. It is ‘hoped bythat means that land settlement companies will take up larger areas thanthey were entitled to under ordinary conditions, and that settlers brought from Great Britain and elsewhere will settle on these areas and improve them. When a certain amount of improvement has been done, the freeholds will issue.
SenatorFoll. - That should introduce capital.
SenatorPEARCE.- We hope that it will be possible to introduce capital in that way.
Debate (on motion by Senator Needham) adjourned.
SenatorPEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for Home and Territories) [4.31] . -I move : -
That the bill be now read a second time.
I hopethat honorable senators will not expect me to go through the mass of figures which, as a matter of fact, were given by me when last session I submitted the motion for the printing of the budget papers. The billcovers the same figures. They are unaltered. Already seven months of the financial year have expired. During that period at various stages Parliament has had an opportunity to discuss the principal items contained in. this bill, and in various forms has given sanction to the expenditure for which it provides. Therefore I do not propose to go into an elaborate explanation of the financial position. That is set out in the bill itself. I content myself by moving the second reading.
– I agree with the Leader of the. Government in the Senate that much time need not be occupied in discussing ‘the second reading of this bill, since the money provided by it is pretty well spent. But, when speaking on ‘the firstreading yesterday, I mentioned ‘the case . ‘ofthe officials on Willis Island, and asked -that -some little consideration should begivento them.
– Will the honorable senator raise that case during the committee stage ?
– I prefer to mention it now. When Senator Foll and I were on Willis Island we saw three men, one a meteorologist, and the other two wireless operators. I think the meteorologist was an officer of the Home and Territories Department. The wireless operatorswere employed by the PostmasterGeneral. The three men had been on the island for six months. We were the first visitors -they had had, and on the vessel which took us to the island were two men, one of whom was arelieving operator, and the other a caretaker who was to take up his residence on the island. ‘ Senator Foll and I realized ‘the great work these men did during the cyclone period in giving out wireless warnings to ships. As a result of their work, lives and valuable property were saved. But these three men were there, far removed from other human society, and I think the Commonwealth Government should do something to make their lot easier. Senator Foll and I waited on the Ministerfor Home and Territories and told him of the position. We told him that the men on the island had not asked us to do what we did, but we felt impelled to draw attention to their case. Senator Pearee was sympathetic, but a letter which has been supplied to Senator Foll and myself indicates that the Department of Home and Territories has no money to do anything for these men, and that the PostmasterGeneral’s Department will not provide any. I ask the Minister to make arrangements with his own Department, or to consult his colleague the PostmasterGeneral, to secure theexpenditure of £50 in providing a gramophone and an uptodate library. These men we found to be very fine specimens of . Australian manhood. Their . library has become depleted. At one “time they had a lawn tennis court, but the . mutton-birds destroyed it. Their only recreation is to occasionally listen in to Farmers’, of Sydney.
SenatorPEARCE (Western Australia -Minister : for Home and Territories) . - I apologize for nob having replied to Senator Needhamat theprevious stage of the bill. Irememberhis having broughtthe matter before . me, in. conjunctionwithSenator Foll.I thenendeavoured -to have -provision made for these men. I think that it should be made, as there is no doubt that they are leading a very lonely life. There is not inthe Estimates of my Department any vote from which we can make this expenditure. I applied to the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) for a sum from Treasurer’s Advance account, but he could not see his way to provide it. I have asked the PostmasterGeneral to ascertain if there is in the wireless branch of his Department an item from which £50 or £60 could be provided. “When I receive a reply from him, I shall communicate it to the honorable senator. I shall doeverything possible to have this sum made available.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
First schedule agreed to.
Second schedule -
Proposed vote, £68,341.
– I should like honorable senators to understand that a rather vital change has been made in the parliamentary Estimates for the current year. The change was made deliberately by Mr. Watt, as Speaker in the last Parliament, and myself, and it is but right that the committee should know what it is, and the reason for our having made it. If honorable senators will peruse the Estimates relating to the Senate and the House of Representatives for the year 1924-25, they will notice that the Chairman of Committees in each House had provided for him the sum of £500. In the present year’s Estimates that has been increased to £700. I shall briefly state the reason for the increase. When the allowance to honorable members of the Parliament was first raised in 1907 from £400 to £600 a year, an exception was made in the case of Ministers, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Chairmen of Committees. The ostensible reason was that they were salaried officers, who did not require and should not receive the increase. That differentiation has continued ever since. I have never agreed with that view. On the contrary, I have always considered that there should be no injurious differentiation in the allowance paid to honorable senators or honorable members of another place. If honorable senators will familiarize themselves with the remuneration of Ministers of the Crown and responsible officers of Parliament in other great dominions of the Empire, they will find that Australia pays her leading men who undertake the responsibility of government less than any other dominion. I do not think that that is either in keeping with the dignity of Australia or in accordance with the wishes of its people.
– Does the honorable senator include the allowance to ordinary private members of Parliament?
– There should be no injurious differentiation between the allowances paid to honorable members of the Parliament.
– We shall have to increase our salaries before we go to Canberra.
– That matter does not arise on this bill. Mr. Watt and I thought that we were in an excellent position to make this suggestion to Parliament. We both had made up our minds not to again submit ourselves for election as presiding officers, and, therefore, the charge could not be levelled against us that we were endeavouring to bring profit to ourselves. Unfortunately, Mr. Watt was unable to state the case in another place, because the Estimates went through on the voices, and practically without discussion.
We could not take the responsibility of rectifying the injurious differentiation as it affected Ministers - they must take that action on their own behalf - but we considered it to be our duty to rectify it in relation to . the officers of both Houses. We would have gone further, and also have increased the vote for presiding officers by £200, had it not been for the possibility that we might have been charged with an attempt to bring profit to ourselves. That argument would carry very little weight with me, because I believe that that which is right should be clone, no matter whom it affects or what criticism it raises. Hostile criticism of such a proposal would have been quite unjust, because no one will say that a man like Mr. Watt could not make infinitely more than his parliamentary salary if he devoted to a . business outside the attention, time, and ability that he was compelled to give to the office of Speaker.
The same may be said of other officers. “When the Commonwealth Parliament first fixed the allowance of its members, it laid down the principle that there should be a difference of £500 a year between the allowance of private members and that of the Chairmen of Committees. I agree with that principle, because the Chairman has long hours and strenuous duties to perform. He must always be in attendance. He has not anything like the amount of liberty that is enjoyed by other honorable senators.
In the ordinary course it will be my duty to assist in framing the Estimates of the Parliament for the next financial year, since they will have to be prepared before the expiration of my term of office. I assure honorable senators that if they authorize this increase, to which another place has already agreed, I shall have no hesitation in providing on the next Estimates for an additional £200 a year for the President. I hope that Mr. Speaker’s views will coincide with my own, and that he will make a similar provision.
Honorable senators will notice that slight increases have been given to the officers. Those increases are entirely in conformity with awards that have been made, either by the Public Service Board or the Public Service Arbitrator. In every case we have awarded our officers the highest amount that has been given to any other branch of the Service.
Honorable senators will also notice that there is a large increase iu the proposed vote for the Joint House Committee on account of travelling expenses and repairs to and maintenance of this House. Some of the officers have had to go backward and forward to Canberra to make necessary arrangements in- connexion with the establishment of the Parliament there, and that has accounted for the increase in the amount provided for travelling expenses. “We were given an estimate by the State Public Works Department of what it will be necessary to do in order that, when we vacate this building in about twelve months’ time, it may be handed back to the State Parliament in the condition in which it was handed over to us. It was, therefore, necessary to make greater provision for maintenance and repairs in accordance with that estimate. I do not think that honorable senators will cavil at that, in view of the generous treatment which we have re- ceived from the State Government during our occupancy of this splendid building.
.- I should like to ask, Mr. President, why there is such a large difference between the salaries paid to the Secretary of the Public Works Committee and the Secretary of the Public Accounts Committee? I have had an opportunity of seeing a little of the work done by these officers, and I can say that each ha<j a difficult position to fill. Their work is of a varied nature, entirely different from that of ordinary departmental officers. It is necessary for them to become acquainted with many different activities, and their duties entail a good deal of travelling. They have responsible work such as the investigation of various proposals submitted to Parliament, and they often have long hours. In fact, I know of no two men associated with the Commonwealth Service whose duties are more arduous, especially when the committees are closely engaged. I notice that the staff of the Public Works Committee is much larger than that of thu Public Accounts Committee, but what I am more particularly concerned about at the moment is the fact that while the Clerk of Papers in the Senate has received an increase in salary from £500 to £589 a year, the Secretary of the Public Accounts Committee, who prior to these Estimates was the senior officer of the two, has received an increase of only £29 a year - from £530 to £559. I am in no way cavilling at the increase granted to the Clerk of Papers, who, by the way, i3 now to be designated the Clerk of Records and Papers, but I regret that the Secretary of the Public Accounts Committee has been placed in an inferior position to that of an officer who was previously his junior. I think Senator Kingsmill will bear me out when I say that the Secretary of the Public Accounts Committee has proved a most capable officer, who is entitled to better treatment than having a junior officer placed above him in salary for apparently no reason whatever.
– I welcome the increase from £500 to £700 in the allowance to the Chairman of Committees in each House, but I wonder whether, or not, the action of Mr. President and the exSpeaker will in any way conflict with the provisions of the Parliamentary Allowances Act.
– No. That measure deals only with the allowances of honorable senators and honorable members in another place. It has nothing to do with the salaries of the presiding officers and the Chairmen of Committees.
– lt is provided that honorable senators occupying certain offices shall receive a certain salary only, but if Mr. President and Mr. Speaker are within their rights in suggesting this increase I have no objection whatever to offer. What Mr. President said in regard to the matter is quite right. An extra £200, at least, should be paid to the. Chairman of Committees, who not only has a trying time towards the end of the session, but, on occasions, is required to relieve Mr. President. To my mind, the Chairman of Committees has more arduous duties to perform than Mr. President himself.
As to the matter raised by Senator Poll I, as a member of the Public Accounts Committee, realize how ably the secretary of that body discharges his duties. Having had experience on both the Public Works and the Public Accounts Committees, I am of the opinion that the secretary of the latter committee is well worthy of a salary equal to that of the Secretary of the Public Works Committee. I make no comparison of the work of these officers. Both are good men, and their salaries should be equal. Their duties entail a great deal of research, travelling and organization, and they must be capable of assisting their committees in .the collection and analysis of evidence. Some time ago. the Public Accounts Committee waited on the ex-Speaker and put the case of its secretary before him, but, owing to some idea about procedure or preferment, this officer has not been justly treated. I am not speaking of the present occupant of the position, personally, but of the position itself. The office is worth more than is now being paid, and I hope that if Mr. President has any jurisdiction in the matter he will give it further consideration.
– In regard to the ‘ complaint voiced by Senator Foll, who was supported by Senator Needham, I may point out that the secretary of the Public Accounts Commiteee does not come under my supervision as President of the Senate, but is under the jurisdiction of Mr. Speaker. The ex-Speaker’ (Mr. Watt) and I took the precaution, when framing the parliamentary Estimates, of convening a meeting of the heads of the various departments of the Parliament to ascertain if there were any anomalies in the salaries of the officers of the two Houses, or as between different departments. I need scarcely inform honorable senators that the heads of the departments are very zealous in safeguarding the rights of their officers, and honorable senators may rest assured that those interests are not overlooked. It is not correct to say that the secretary of the Public Accounts Committee ought to receive a salary equal to that of the secretary of the Public Works Committee, since he is much junior to him, and for many years was a junior clerk on the staff of the Public Works Committee. It took the secretary of the Public Works Committee many years, and several rises in salary, to reach his present position. It would not be reasonable to expect that an officer on promotion should reach the same position except by the same process.
– He should be paid for the work that he now does.
– I do not propose to argue that matter. The ex-Speaker, who was acquainted with the whole of the circumstances, together with the heads of the various departments took the matter into consideration, and I think that they are the best judges of the case.
– It seems to me that members of the Public Accounts Committee should be the best judges.
– There is always a tendency for individual members who come into close contact with an officer to try to push the interests of that officer. I recognise that, and I do not begrudge any officer the full salary to which he is entitled, commensurate with his .services. For many “years the secretary of the Public Accounts Committee has been junior to the Secretary of the Public Works Committee, but possibly in the course of time he will receive practically the same salary.
– But he was in the service before he joined the staff of the Public Works Committee.
– For many years he has been the junior officer. The exSpeaker, in whom I have the utmost confidence, considered that the proper salary had been fixed.
– He was badly advised.
– Both the exSpeaker and I in framing these estimates were fortified by a consultation with the chairmen of the two committees. I have almost invariably consulted the chairman of the Public Works Committee, Mr. Gregory, as to what is the proper course to adopt, and in every case the consultation has resulted in practical agreement. It is not correct to say that the Secretary of the Public Accounts Committee was ever senior to Mr. Edwards, the Clerk of Record’s and Papers.
– He received a higher salary
– The title of Mr. Edwards’ position was changed to bring it into conformity with that of the corresponding office in another place. We have always tried to maintain the dignity of the Senate by putting our officers on a level with those of another place. The duties are similar and the responsibilities equal in all cases. We would not be parties to any injurious differentiation between the officers of the two Houses. That is the reason why the title has been changed and the salary increased.
– I do not take the same view as Mr. President. The Public Works and Public Accounts Committees are appointed by Parliament for the purpose of investigating- different branches of public activities and the two committees are,. I contend, equal in standing. Even if the secretary of the Public Accounts Committee was junior at one time to the secretary of the Public Works Committee, by reason of the fact thathe was deemed a fit and proper person to be appointed secretary of the Public Accounts Committee, he is now, I think, on the same. level. It is making what Mr. President would call an injurious differentiation between the two positions to allow a difference in the respective salaries..
– I made no such differentiation.
SenatorKINGSMILL.- Quite so; but it exists at the present time. It is not a. personal matter.. I have had experience of the work of only one of: these gentlemen, but I can say that my experience of. the secretary of the Public Accounts Committee has been eminently satisfactory. I cannot imagine that any officer, could do the work better than he does it. At the same time, I regard the two bodies as being on an equal footing as parliamentary committees, and I consider that the officers concerned should also stand on an equal footing. If the Public Accounts’ Committee finds itself able, with difficulty, to manage with fewer officers than the Public Works Committee, it is to the credit of the Accounts Committee; and if that is so it seems rather an anomaly, which has not been removed, that its secretary should- receive less than the secretary of the Public Works Committee. In these circumstances I support the contention put forward by Senators Foll and Needham. As a matter, so to speak, of parliamentary symmetry, I think that these two positions should rank equal, and that the officers should receive the same remuneration.
.- I should not have spoken again but for the reference made by Mr. President to the salary paid to the secretary of the Public Accounts Committee. The President will remember that prior to the framing of these estimates the Clerk of Records in this Chamber was- receiving a salary of £500 a year. I have no objection to the title of the position being altered to bring it into conformity with that in another place, or the salary being raised in order to maintain the dignity of the Senate, but if we are to have the two branches; of the legislature fighting each other- in this way on the score of dignity it will be very profitable to the officers concerned, and very interesting to the recipients of the additional salaries. I. understand that in . the Commonwealth Public Service seniority is calculated according to the amount of salary received, and that an officer who is paid £530 a year is generally regarded as being senior to an officer in receipt of only £500. Evidently the President thinks so too. The Clerk of the Papers in the Senate was in receipt of a salary of £500 a year, and the secretary of the Public Accounts Committee was receiving £530. On this basis we were entitled to assume that the latter officer was. senior in. status, but the Clerk, of. the Papers, having received an increase in. salary of £89, compared with an increase of only. £29: for. the secretary of the Public: Accounts, Committee,we
Have the anomaly of a junior officer being raised in status over the rank of one whom we regarded as- the senior officer. All the officers of Parliament, irrespective of whether they are under the jurisdiction of the President of the Senate or the Speaker- of the House of Representatives, should have the right, of transfer from one department to another in Parliament. If the President and the Speaker believe that all tie officers should be placed on an equal footing, they should increase the salary of the secretary of the Public Accounts Committee to the amount paid to the secretary of the Public “Works Committee.
– Possibly he will reach that level when he has equal service to his credit. A few years ago he was a junior clerk in the office of the present secretary of the Public Works Committee.
SenatorFOLL. - I understand that the Clerk of the Papers in the Senate was junior to. the secretary of the Public Accounts Committee. Now, by his larger salary increases he becomes senior.
– He never was junior to the secretary, of the Public Accounts Committee.
– Then I cannot understand the way in which the parliamentary departments are controlled; I want to make it clear that I am not making any complaint against the President. I know that members of the Public Accounts Committee have, times out of number, approached the Speaker of the House of Representatives with the request to bring the salary of the secretary of that Committee on a level with- that of the secretary of the Public Works Committee. The President, I know, has always dealt fairly with the officers under his jurisdiction, and shortly he will go out of office, with the good feelings of those who have served under him; Nevertheless, this is an anomaly which, I think, should be rectified.
– The proper place to have the matter ventilated is in another place, and by members of the Public Accounts Committee there.
– I realize that, but if members of another place neglect their duty, that is no reason why I should. I have brought this matter up because I believe it should be ventilated, and though this may not be the proper place to deal with it, I hope it will be put right.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Prime Minister’s Department.
Proposed vote, £213,301.
SenatorFINDLEY (Victoria) [5.13]. - I should like to be furnished with some information with respect to the proposed vote for the Public Service Board. The amount voted last year for the central staff was £15,985, and the amount for this year, is £15,955. The salary of. the secretary and chief inspector is increased from £1,000 to £1,100. Last year there were two Public Service inspectors, now there are three, and their salaries total £2,447. Whilst there has been an addition to the staff of. the inspectors, there is- a reduction, of three in the number of clerks employed. I. should like the Minister to explain the reason for this reduction in the number of clerks and the increase in the number of inspectors. ‘
SenatorPEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for Home and Territories) [5.15]. - If the honorable senator will again study the division, he will see a footnote, which explains that there has been a rearrangement of the office as the result of a reclassification. The apparent increase in the number of inspectors is due to the fact that an officer who last year was an assistant inspector is now classified a Public Service inspector.
.- I desire to bring under the notice of the Minister the action of a’ number of employees of the Post and Telegraph Department in Queensland during the recent elections. At the outset I should like to say quite frankly that I recognize and willingly concede to every individual in the Public Service full liberty to exercise the franchise, and through party organizations to advance the interests of any candidates, provided, of course, the routine work of the various departments is not interfered with in any way. I have been informed that at a meeting of the executive of one of the professional officers’ associations in Queensland, funds were voted for the purpose of furthering the interests of the Labour candidates. Several members of the- association were very indignant at the action of- the executive, not necessarily, because they did not agree with the executive, but because they had not been invited to express their opinion. I understand that prior to polling day a telegram of SO words was sent by an officer of the Post and Telegraph Department in. Brisbane to practically every post office in Queensland urging employees who were members, of the organization to work and vote for candidates representing the Labour party. This statement should be investigated. I should like to know if the Minister will issue instructions for a complete inquiry into all the circumstances. I believe that the Deputy Postmaster-General in Brisbane is in a position to say a good deal about the matter. The Minister should ascertain if the telegrams were paid for as ordinary messages or whether they were sent at Government expense.
– The honorable senator’s statements appear to be a charge against certain officers of the Postal Department. I shall bring them under the notice of the Postmaster-General.
– Apparently the complaint is that telegrams were sent by an organization thatfavoured the candidature of Labour nominees.
– Oh, no!
– The honorable senator need make no bones about it. If the telegrams had favoured the candidature of the Nationalists, Senator Foll would not have mentioned the subject here.
– In that case it would have been mentioned by the honorable senator.
– I should not have made a statement like that made by Senator Foll unless I had been able to back it with proof.
– I saw one of the telegrams.
– Assuming that the honorable senator did see a tele- gram, the inference from his remarks is that the telegrams were not paid for.
– I merely want to find out whether they were paid for.
– I am extremely anxious to know whether all the telegrams sent out on behalf of the nationalist candidates were paid for, and, if so, by whom. If it could be proved that they were paid for by some of the candidates who were successful, it would probably show that they did not comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act in respect to the limitation of expenses. A lot of noise has been made because Publice Service associations, within their rights, publicly announced that they would give their whole-hearted support to Labour candidates. I have a more serious matter to mention. It was stated, just on the eve of the election - I cannot say whether the statement is correct - that the Government did what had never been done before in the history of the Commonwealth. At all previous elections, officers of the Public Service who filled responsible positions in the polling booths were paid for that service, and had deducted from their salaries payment for the time they were away from their departments. It has been said that for the first time the Government came to the aid of that section of the Public Service, probably because it was made aware, through the columns of the press, that they were inclined to support Labour, and paid them for the services they rendered in connexion with the election, without making any deduction for the loss of time in the departments.
– On behalf of the Government, I give that statement a flat and total contradiction. No instruction of that kind was issued by the Government.
– Was the instruction issued?
– Not by the Government.
– Will the Minister deny that the instruction was issued?
– I have no knowledge of such an instruction being issued by any one, but I do know that it was not issued by the Government.
– I was informed that the instruction was issued, and it is quite clear that no board appointed by the Government would dare to issue it unless it was satisfied that the money would be forthcoming.
– My statement stands.
– So does the statement I heard, not once but several times, outside. It will stand investigation, anyway. Is the Government prepared to inquire into that matter?
– Yes. I will find out if such an instruction was issued by any one, but I have already said that no instruction was issued by the Government.
– While we are on this subject, why should we not have a royal commission to inquire into various matters in connexion with the last election? Is one section of the community to be singled .out because some one told Senator Foll a roundabout tale concerning a telegram?
– The honorable senator himself has been talking from hearsay.
– I shall be in a better position than Senator Foll to prove my statements. Nationalist supporters were angry because of the activities, on behalf of Labour, of members of the Public Service, but they would have cheered whole-heartedly if members of the Public Service had carried a resolution in favour of them.
– Public Service organizations have no right to interfere as organizations in an election.
– Public servants have every right to take an interest in their own welfare and the welfare of the people of this country.
– Officers of the Public Service associations did not consult the members.
– That is an old gag. The officers of any industrial organization, whether it be a Public Service association or a trade union, never take action in a direction affecting members without first obtaining the approval of members. I hope that the Minister, when he busies himself’ making inquiries into Senator Foil’s statement, will also make inquiries in the direction. I have indicated.
– It is quite true that the Public Service organization announced its intention of supporting Labour in the last election. It is also true that the Public Service Board has lectured the members of the Public Service because they dared to exercise their rights as citizens. I am not so much concerned about that as about the statement made by Senator Foll. I have always advocated that every citizen in Australia should exercise his full citizen’s rights, and I do not say, as probably Senator Foll does, that because a man is a public servant he must shed his citizen’s rights. That is the attitude of the Public Service Board, as disclosed in its report, and it has taken up that attitude because some public servants dared to exercise their rights as citizens without consulting it. Senator Foll, in all seriousness, has made a deliberate charge against certain citizens of this community, and he has not brought forward a shadow of proof.
– I have not made a charge; I have asked for an investigation.
– -The honorable senator has made a charge by insinuation, “and that is the grossest kind of charge. It is most unfair, for Senator Foll knows quite well that those against whom he has lodged his insinuation are not here to defend themselves. If he had been doing his public duty properly, he would have ascertained the truth or otherwise of the allegation before slandering these public servants. It is true that he has not given their names, and I suggest to him now that before the Minister starts an inquiry he should announce the names of those implicated, so that they may have a chance of defending their reputations. Every honorable senator has a duty to discharge, not only to his constituents, but also to himself ; and if he thinks that any one is misappropriating public revenue. - which is what the statement by Senator Foll means - it is his duty to prevent it. If Senator Foil’s “statement does not mean that some one is getting away with public revenue, it does not mean anything. I am surprised at a man of his political experience lodging a charge against people who have no chance of defending themselves,- and I am equally surprised at the mild way in which the right honorable the Leader of the Senate said he would make inquiries. The people of Queensland will know, when Senator Foil’s remarks are published, who is implicated. If I had been in the Minister’s place, I should have asked the honorable senator to state the names of the people against whom he made the charge. Senator Foil’s statement is a reflexion on the Public Service, not only of Queensland, but also of Australia. If we are going to start a heresy hunt to find out whether any one sent telegrams without payment, why not accept the suggestion of Senator Findley, and ask that a royal commission be appointed to inquire into the matter.
– As a matter of fact, I know the name of the man who sent the telegram, but refrained from making it known.
– The honorable senator would have been more manly if he had given the names of those of whom he complains, and thus have afforded them an opportunity to defend themselves.
– I undertake to bring the matter under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral, and, if a charge is made, whoever is charged will have an opportunity to defend himself before a board on which he will be represented.
– That does not lessen Senator Foil’s responsibility. If he were fair to those people whose names areknown in Queensland, he would give them an opportunity to defend themselves by mentioning the names. I am surprised that he should throw out an implication without giving people an opportunity to defend their characters.
– I hope that the Minister will cause inquiries to be made into the conduct of those public servants who, during the recent political contest, showed themselves to be partisans. I set on one side the claim for support that this Government or the National party has upon every ordinarily fair-minded man in the Public Service. That claim exists if the public servants are disposed to recognize it, but I set it aside.
– The honorable senator mentions it, and then sets it aside.
– Now that I- am challenged, I say that no other party in this country has done so much for the Public Service as has been done by the men who occupy the Government benches to-day.
– ‘The Labour Government made a pathway for the public servants to go to the Arbitration Court.
– By means of the several extra payments given to the public servants from time to time this Government has put the Commonwealth public servants in a position which is far above that of any State public servant. Had I rested on that . ground it would have been sufficiently substantial, but the point I wish to make is that we should see that the Public Service does not take a leading part in a political contest.
– Nonsense !
– Does Senator Findley believe in the American system, under which public servants become violent political partisans - that rotten system of “spoils to the victors”? If Senator Findley does not want the Aus tralian administration to descend to that level, one of the most effective steps he can take to prevent it is not to countenance public servants becoming partisans or taking an active part in political contests.
– Are they not to assert their rights as citizens?
– No one wants them to be neutral in politics or to divest themselves of their political views, but every well-disposed citizen wants to see them at least desist from becoming violent partisans in a political controversy. If, however, Senator Findley wants us to follow the American system, he is taking an effective step in that direction. Politics is a tangled business - I may even use the word “ ugly “ - for those who are obliged to engage in it. A public service that may operate today under one Government and tomorrow tinder another should remain aloof from politics so that the public, who, after all, are the chief consideration, may be given the fullest measure of satisfaction. If Senator Findley is anxious to satisfy the public and to see that public interests are properly administered and safeguarded, it is his solemn duty to see that the Public Service, as such, remains neutral in these contests. It is quite reconcilable for a public servant to be Labour or Nationalist, but one thing stands out in this discussion - that while one section of the Public Service came into the open and said that it would support Senator Findley’s party, despite the fact that the other party had proved to be the best” friends of the public servants, another section which supports the Nationalist party remained quiet. I warn the Nationalists who have remained quiet, as they ought to have done, that if they come out and openly express themselves as the other section of the servicehas done, they must beware, because if by any chance Labour comes into power, they will be marked. For promotion? They will get “promotion,” indeed! We know what has occurred in Western Australia.
– That is a dirty insinuation.
The CHAIRMAN (SenatorNewland). ; The honorable senator must withdraw that expression.
– I withdraw it.
– There is no insinuation about it. Men have been persecuted in several States. I hope that some good will issue from this discussion. Senator Findley knows that a Public Service, to render honest and honorable service, must be non-partisan in political contests. I hope that the inquiry which the Minister will make will have the effect of centering attention on the section of the Public Service which has acted so foolishly in the past.
– This debate has developed into a political discussion quite apart from the schedule the committee is considering, and I shall not permit it to continue unless some item is specifically dealt with.
– I hope, sir, that you will not visit your vengeance on me.” For quite a while you allowed Senator Lynch to entertain the Senate by a political attack, but I shall endeavor to keep to the item before the Chair. Labour Governments and the Labour Party, have always encouraged public servants to’ take part in political activities. When you, Mr. Chairman, Senator Lynch and I were in the same party from1910 to 1913 we helped that party to pave the way for the freedom which the public servant enjoys ‘to-day. He enjoys that freedom not ‘because of anything done by the Government which Senator Lynch is so loyally supporting to-day, but because of what was done bythe Government which Senator Lynch first supported when he
Game to this Parliament. We can quite reasonably question the report of the Public Service Board on this matter. I do not see why the boardshould threaten todeal with members of the PublicService who have taken part in political activities. When the ‘Public Service Bill creating . the boardwas before this Chamber and “in another placethe assistance and advice ofmembers of the Pub lic Service were sought and welcomed by both parties in this Parliament. Was not that taking political action?
– It had no connection with party political action.
– Does the honorable senator claim that the bill went through without party opposition ? I remember the stormy debate in this Chamber on the question of an appeal board in connexion with the Commonwealth Bank Bill. Was not that a political matter? We were endeavoring to insert in the bill a plank of the Labour party, and honorable senators opposite were opposed to it.
– Most of us on this side supported it. In any case we brought forward the proposal.
– Senator Duncan took a very prominent part in getting that appeal board, but others, on his side of the Senate were apposed to it. His; leader was opposed to it.
– The Government accepted the proposal and incorporated it in the bill.
– We cannot separate these matters from the political aspect, and, therefore, I claim that in its report the Public Service Board has gone outside its jurisdiction in censuring members of the Public Service who have dared to exercise their rights as citizens. Why should they be carpeted by the board ? They have their Public Service Arbitration Act. They can attend meetings. They can even stand as candidates for Parliament, and retain their positions if defeated. I know members of the Public Service who have stood for this Parliament and after their defeat have returned to their positions in the service. If a public servant can stand for Parliament, cannot he take sidesin a general election ? If some Public Service organizations had declared, in open meeting or through the columns of the press, that they would throw their weight on the side of our friends opposite, there would have been no question raised.
– We know what their fate would have been if the Labour party had got into power.
– That is just the point I wish to clear up. The fate that Senator Lynch warned these public servantswould await them could not be theirs, because it was Labourthat first encouraged the public servant to take part in political controversies. No citizen’ should be threatened or penalized because he has taken part in a political controversy. If Senator Pearce’s private secretary takes part in a political campaign, supporting his Minister or supporting Labour, will he afterwards be of any less assistance to the Minister because he has exercised his rights as a citizen ?
– But he should not make use of information gained by him in his capacity as private secretary to the Minister.
– There is in Australia faith in the probity and integrity of the members of the Public Service. It is an insult to public servants to say that if they take sides in a political controversy they are liable to besmirch their honour and debase their manhood by revealing secrets of state that have come into their possession in the discharge of their duties. I have a greater regard for public servants than to cast that aspersion upon them. I care not upon which side of politics they take their stand; that is their business. Every citizen has the right to hold whichever political or religious belief appeals to’ him. God forbid that we should reach the stage when it could be said that because a public servant espoused a certain political cause he was not worthy of the trust of any Government.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed votes, The Department of the Treasury, £623,953; Attorney-General’s Department, £122,967; and Home and Territories Department, £349,471 - agreed to.
Department of Defence.
Proposed vote, £3,608,045.
. - I should like to know what sum has been provided this year for expenditure upon the naval training school that I understand is to be established at Osborne House?
– The sum of £30,000 has already been passed in the “Works Estimates for expenditure this year.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, Special Defence provision to cover developmental programme, £1,000,000, agreed to.
Department of Trade and Customs.
Proposed vote, £864,129.
– In this proposed vote there is an item entitled “ Fisheries,” for which £415 is provided. I should like to know what that item is for, and whether the Government has any intention of resuscitating the research work into the fisheries on the Australian coast which it started some years ago, but subsequently abandoned. This matter is full of great promise for the citizens of Australia, and a golden opportunity is now provided for the Government to take action in regard to it. For too long has fishery research on the coast of Australia been delayed. “We have not the teeming supply about which some persons speak, but we have nevertheless a very fair supply. Other countries within the Empire, such as Canada, and even Great Britain herself, consider it worth while to spend considerable sums upon research into this most important source of food suPply- In Australia, the ratio of fish consumed per head of the population, compared with Great Britain, is as 1 is to 4. Every inhabitant of Great Britain has the opportunity to obtain four times as much fish as every citizen of Australia, and at a very much less price. In this matter price is the essence of the contract. It is because the price of fish to the people of Australia is so inordinately high that the present conditions exist. “We are neglecting one of our greatest resources, which is ‘ not only a source of food supply, but also a very big source of employment for our people. It is high time that the Government followed the lead that has been given by other civilized countries; but I hope that in any action it takes it will, keep the matter free from the pernicious and crippling influence of the Institute of Science and Industry that has hampered everything it has touched. In the United States of America, whose constitution corresponds more closely to our own than that of any other federation in the world, hundreds of thousands of pounds per annum are spent on research. They know what their resources are. In Australia, however, we are absolutely in the dark in that regard. Only one State has done any effective work, and that proved a most expensive experiment. ‘ I refer to the State of New South Wales, which on a state trading venture lost somewhere about £350,000. Honorable senators, no doubt have read of the way in which roast pig was discovered in China very many centuries ago to be pleasing to the palate. A pig was in a house that was burnt down. Subsequently its remains were found, they smelt, pleasant, and were tasted. Hence the inestimable boon of roast pork was given to many other races in the world. In New South Wales they burnt down an enormously large house, inside which they discovered the remains of a microscopic pig. That disastrous experiment was carried on as a business proposition.
– In Queensland the Government put up a building costing £70,000,’ with results that very closely approximated to those of New South Wales.
– Evidently they are also keeping pigs in mansions in Queensland. The scientific results of the New South Wales experiment could have been obtained for the odd £50,000. The result of it was that private individuals commenced trawling off the coast of New South Wales, and the price of fish in Sydney is now not more than half what it is in Melbourne. The public, therefore, derived some benefit from the experiment. I want the Commonwealth Government to take action similar to that which has been taken by the government of the United States of America. There can be no infringment of state rights, because it is a matter not of the control of the fisheries, but simply of stocktaking to ascertain what our resources are. No avenue of research would pay better the people of Australia. I feel certain that our fisheries can be improved. I speak with a knowledge of the subject. Our methods are 100 years behind the times. Our fishermen, especially those in Victoria, do not use ships that can go to sea, but they potter about the bays and estuaries, and refuse to go away from shelter.
– That is not altogether correct. Quite a number of the boats go right out to the open .ocean, where they stay for a week at a time.
– They go to Tasmania to get crayfish. That is the only deep-sea fishing of which I am aware. Their methods are in striking contrast to those adopted in some of the other States. The Victorian fishermen find that they need not go outside the bays and estuaries to get the quantity of fish that will enable them to sell at a most exorbitant price, and they do not handle any more than that quantity. That is not good for the community; and it is on behalf of the community that I am now speaking.
– I do not think that the honorable senator is quite fair to the fishermen, who have to work hard to make a living.
– The wholesale price is about twice as high as the public should be asked to pay.
– But the demand is greater than the supply.
– I want the supply to equal the demand.
– I agree that there is room for improvement.-
– -There is practically nothing upon which to improve: the structure must be rebuilt. The honorable senator will learn a lesson if he studies the conditions relating to the capture, the transport, and the distribution of fish in civilized countries which have a thorough understanding of the matter and in which the governments are anxious to provide this necessary food supply in sufficient quantities. Even if action by the Commonwealth Government interfered with the state departments, I should still urge it, because, with one or two exceptions, those who are in charge of the Fisheries Departments of the States are not skilled or trained men. I am acquainted with a fishery inspector who cannot distinguish one fish from another, and if he went to sea to investigate any of these matters he would become so extremely ill that his investigations would be confined to his own interior. Under these circumstances, it is high time that the Government took steps to raise the industry to the level it has reached in other countries whose advantages dp not surpass our own. It can scarcely be called scientific research, because there is very little science connected with it. It must be placed in charge of a skilled man who knows the work, such as the gentleman who, unfortunately, was lost when the Commonwealth “trawler Endeavour disappeared.
We must- be provided: with efficient equipment to complete the work that the Endeavour began. I feel sure that a rich harvest would thus be reaped for the people.
– Senator Kingsmill has referred to the work which was done by Captain. Danniveg whilst he was in charge of the Commonwealth trawlerEndeavour. The small amount of £415 does not make provision for working along the lines suggested by the honorable senator. I shall see that his remarks are brought under the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs, who, I am sure, will give them very careful consideration.
– The Department of. Trade and Customs apparently has within it the majority of the smaller sub-departments that deal with governmental activities. Where can I find the vote relating to the Forestry Department, which has lately been established?
– It is included in the estimates of the Home and Territories Department.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, Department of Works and Railways, £254,974, agreed to.
Department of Health.
Proposed vote, £135,709.
. - Will the Minister representing the Minister for Health (Sir Neville Howse) state what arrangements have been made between the Government and Dr. Smalpage with regard to his serum treatment for tubercular patients? The matter is of great importance not only to Australia, but also to the whole world, and I am not aware that any complete statement of the position has been made in either branch of the Legislature. What activities are being pursued? Are any patients being treated? What is the source of the supply of. the serum, and what opinion, if any, has been given by independent medical experts as to the value of the treatment? If a full statement cannot be made at, the present stage, will the Minister promise that an announcement will- be made at the earliest possible moment?
– The Minister for Health will make a. full statement on the matter in another place next week. ‘
– Will a similar statement be made simultaneously in the Senate?
– I shall consult the Minister,, but I cannot undertake that a similar statement will be made in this Chamber at the same time.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Markets and Migration.
Proposed vote, £110,866.
, whom I take this opportunity of congratulating upon having received the well-earned honour of knighthood, is not present to receive also my commiseration, upon the things that have been happening in the council of this institute. I do not propose to repeat some remarks that I have made on various occasions on this subdepartment. Time heals all things, and it. has even healed the resentment- that I have felt at the scandalous action of this body in connexion with a matter in which I was personally interested. That resentment is now replaced by a kind of indifference. It is impossible for me to take much further interest in a department that has been so disappointing to everybody who has been connected with it. Steps were taken last year to put. it in order. Suggestions were invited,, and the Government was kind; enough to ask me to offer . advice. This I did, and horrified, I presume, at the suggestions I made, the Government called a conference to deal with the matter. But on the conference were the very men who had in the first place killed the institute! How could a decent result’ be expected, from such an action? Then this conference made an absolutely impossible suggestion under which £23,000 a year would have to be paid in overhead expenses before any tangible result could be obtained. I presume that the Government will, if it has not done so already, turn this impossible suggestion down. Now I understand that the Government is about to bring in a bill . relating to this department, I am anxious to see the measure, although I am somewhat doubtful as to whether anything can be done at this stage, especially under the present management of the institute. I promise the Government my active support in licking the measure into shape, if it does not accord with the views I expressed in the first place. I have had some personal experience of the operations of this particular body. It has always taken up far too academic a view, and has failed signally to carry out what I think should be the objects of such an institute. It should be called, not the Institute of Science and Industry, but the Institute of Applied Science. Pure science may well be left to the investigation of the universities, but applied science has proved successful in the United States of America., and is being adopted in India, more particularly, under the aegis of the British Empire. By taking advantage of the experience of other countries, Australia may reap the undoubted benefit awaiting us if we adopt judicious administrative methods. I do not know whether the Minister will give any information as to how this institute stands, or any indication of the Government’s intention with regard to it. If he is able to do so, I shall be grateful, more particularly if the Government will be guided, as I hope it will, by the experience of the past, and avoid the pitfalls that have led to the waste of a considerable sum of money.
.- I agree with all that Senator Kingsmill has said. Naturally, when the Institute of Science and Industry was first established, honorable senators looked to it to accomplish good work in the interests of Australia, and one cannot but regret that there has not been a greater advance than the department hitherto has made. In many branches of industry it will bo necessary, in future, to adopt more scientific methods of production than have been employed in the past. During recent years the Commonwerflth Government has spent a large sum in endeavouring to find mineral oil in Australia. While I do not deprecate the expenditure of money in the attempt to discover flow - oil, thefact remains that the expenditure up to ‘date has nod practically no result. On the . other hand, weknow . that there . is in Australia an unlimited quantity of oilbearing shale , of . varying values. It is known to exist to the extent of millions of tons, and some of it is rich in oil. It is reasonable, therefore, to suggest to the Government that a special effortshould be made in the direction of giving assistance, whereitcan be gi vento the greatest advantage, in -discovering an economical way of -extracting the oil from the shales. Once that difficulty can beovercome - the trouble that has confronted all those who have put money into shale oil propositions - this country will be assured of a large supply of oil. One company - in in Tasmania has spent on experimental work -what, in view of the number . of its shareholders, are large sums, in endeavoring to evolve aretort which will economically extract the oil from the shale.
– In the Latrobe district?
– Yes, but I am not thinking only of that district. I am referring . to another area,’ where it is known that there are millions of ions of rich oil-bearing -shale. I suggest that the Government . should supplement the amount set down for the encouragement of the discovery of flow oil by providing a sum to be used in the direction I have indicated. It seems to me that the recovery of oil from -shale is as much of national importance as the discovery of flow oil.
– Except that it cannot . compete with -flow oil.
-Flow oil hag not. been discovered in Australia in payable quantities.
– -But there is a bounty for shale oil.
– I admit that, but it has been impossible to devise a method of extracting the oil on a commercial basis.
– Does the honorable senator ask for a -subsidy 1
– I think that the Government should use the Institute of Science and Industry, if it is efficient, to assist in discoveringa method of economically treating the shale.
– It is not advisable to do that if results are expected.
– I have no desire; -to deprecate the value to the community of the Institute of Science’ and Industry, although up to the present it may not have done all that was expected of it. Surely there is some method by which the Government may secure the services of the best men available to solve the problems to which I have referred. We have almost unlimited supplies of the raw material, the commercial .exploitation of which should be possible. Oil fuel is our most imperative need. In this respect we all want to see Austrafia a self-contained nation. If by investigations such as I have suggested we can devise a scheme for the utilization of our vast shale oil deposits, the money will be well spent.
– The reorganization of the Institute of Science and Industry is at present under consideration bv the Government and will probably be the subject of legislation during the present season. On page 273 there is a foot-note to the effect that funds will be provided by a special act to meet expenditure for certain investigations being undertaken by the Institute.
Senator ABBOTT (Kew South Wales) [6.231. - I should like, in dealing with the proposed vote for the Institute of Science and Industry, to recommend the Ministry to expend a larger amount, not only for tha eradication of the prickly pear, but for scientific research work as to the possibilities of extracting power alcohol from the same source.
– There is every prospect of such research work being successful.
– Much good land in both Queensland and New South Wales is every year being rendered valueless by the spread of the prickly pear. The New South Wales Government has set up a board to deal with the pest, but it is a colossal business, and I am afraid that unless this huge undertaking ‘ can be placed on a commercial basis, the cochineal bug and the other remedies that have already been tried, will never be able effectively to check its spread. I understand that in other countries power alcohol has been extracted from the leaves of the pear, and I hope that something will be done in the same direction in Australia. For this reason I suggest that, in addition to money being voted for its eradication, a sum be set apart for scientific investigation as to the possibility of utilizing it as a commercial commodity.
Senate adjourned at 6.261 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 January 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1926/19260121_senate_10_112/>.