10th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. J. Newlands) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented: -
Australian Imperial Force Canteens Funds Act- Sixth Annual Report, 1925-26. Defence. - Report, by Lieutenant-General Sir H.G. Chauvel,G.C.M.G., K.C.B., (for Inspector-General), on the Australian Military Forces (Part I., 31st May, 1926).
Railway Station-yard Fees.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
-The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers : -
Position of Public Servants
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the promise of the Lender of the Government that no financial loss shall be suffered by public servants by reason of their transfer to Canberra, will the Government undertake to provide public servants so transferred with homes at prices which, for rent or purchase, will not exceed the cost of similar homes in residential suburbs of Melbourne?
– The right honorable the Prime Minister has supplied the following replies: - -
The Government has not made a promise in the terms suggested by the honorable senator, but, as has been announced on previous occasions, steps are being taken with a view to protecting public servants from financial less in certain specific respects. For instance, the Government has formulated a scheme for the purchase of the Melbourne homes of officers who will be transferred to Canberra in 1927, and the Public Service Board has been requested to take into consideration the question of a cost of living allowance for ‘those officers.
Regarding the question of the prices at which homes will be available at Canberra for rent or purchase, the Public Service Board, to whom the matter was referred by theGovernment, has appointed a committee which is at present inquiring as to the differences, if any, which exist between the costs of construction of houses in Melbourne and Canberra respectively. Upon receipt of the committee’s report the matter will be considered by the Public Service Board.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
Question put. The Senate divided. Ayes … … 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
. I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
As honorable senators are aware, when the Estimates are presented in another place, the practice is immediately ‘ to introduce a bill to authorize the expenditure of. ‘money out of revenue on new public works and buildings, bo that no time may be lost and no break occur in the continuity of construction policy. The purposes of the bill are to grant and apply the sum of £296,734 out of the ConsolidatedRevenue Fund for the services of the year ended the 30th June, 1927, for the purposes of additions, new works, buildings, &c., and to appropriate such sum. The total amount which Parliament is asked to provide is £20,207 less than the expenditure of. last financial year, and £26,552 less than the amount voted for 1925-26. . The. amounts required for the various services are relatively small, and provision is made in the bill under three parts, as follows: - Part I., departments and services, other than business undertakings and territories of the Commonwealth; Part II., business undertakings; and Part III., territories of the Commonwealth. The principal items for which provision has been made are : - Reserve o f naval stores, including ammunition, ordnance, torpedo stores, and coal and oil fuel, £118,000; . machinery and plant for manufacture of munitions not now produced in Australia, £12,789 ; new buildings, alterations, and additions, and construction of launches and vessels for the Department of Health, £41,385; construction of buildings and roads, engineering services, and water boring, &c, in the Northern Territory, £66,500. It will be seen that relatively few new works have been provided for in this bill. It does not cover the works which are to be provided for from loan funds. A separate bill for works from loan will be submitted later. Ministers will be glad to furnish honorable senators with information concerning details of the works referred to when the bill reaches the committee stage. In view of the necessity to carry on ihe works programme without delay, I ask the Senate to proceed with the consideration of the bill forthwith.
– I realize that there should be no delay in the passage of this measure, the purpose of which is to appropriate certain sums of money from the Consolidated Revenue for new works and buildings; but I desire to take advantage of this opportunity to speak about one or two subjects that are provided for in the measure. Recently we passed a bill setting aside the sum of £250,000 for our air services. Within the past few months
Mr. Bowden went on to ‘say that a tremendous quantity of gift equipment had been obtained from Great Britain, but a good deal of it was still stored away in the packages in which it came to Australia. That statement may have an important bearing upon the fatalities which have occurred at Point Cook to which I have referred, and in which the lives of some of our brilliant young aviators were sacrificed. The Minister said that some of the gift aeroplanes, were not even unpacked, and possibly some are still lying untouched. The Government and its supporters have endeavoured to ridicule the ‘defence policy of the Labour party enunciated from every platform in Australia,, but notwithstanding all its. boasts concerning its defence policy, the Government cannot prove that it has a modern air service, although years have elasped since the importance of such a service was clearly demonstrated. The following statement appeared in the Melbourne Herald on the 6th January, 1926: - “ The weakness of the Air Force in machines, equipment, and trained airmen presents the accumulated result of neglect and starvation which is causing serious concern.”
– Who, said that?
– I am quoting from the Melbourne Herald.
– Who is the author of the statement?
– After reading the article I am convinced that the writer has a more intimate knowledge of the subject than even the right honorable gentleman who, for many years, was Minister for Defence.
– Without knowing the qualifications of the writer?
– I am quite prepared to accept the statement made by the expert writer in the Herald.
– The Herald employs experts to write such articles.
– Yes. A few days ago honorable senators representing Western Australia, and Western Australian members of the House of Representatives, asked the Minister for Defence (Sir Neville Howse) if the Government would grant financial assistance to the Western Australian Civil Aviation Service. Although the Minister gave the deputation a sympathetic hear- ing he did not give us much encourage ment. The Western Australian Air Service, which is doing excellent work in carrying passengers and mails, is also of great benefit to those resident in the more remote parts of that State. If a few thousand pounds were granted, as was suggested, to extend the service, the expenditure would be more than justified. Apart from the Western Australian service so ably conducted by Major Brearley for many years, there are other civil aviation services.
– There is a wonderful air service in Queensland which has been conducted up to the present without a single accident.
– Yes, and there are other services performing excellent work. I want to emphasize this point, and I appeal for the assistance of Senator Thompson. I think the Government should do more than it is doing to encourage those air services which are trying to assist people in the back-blocks by carrying their mails and materials.
– I have also been to the Minister to ask lor that assistance.
– The encouragement of civil and commercial aviation would be of vast benefit to the Commonwealth in the event of an- enemy attack. In order to show the progress made in the north-we3t of Western Australia, I quote the following from the Airways Bulletin: -
Aerial Mails and Freight.
Letters carried during the month of May totalled 22,465. Advice has been received:, supported by the actual covers, of what is believed to be a record for delivery of English mail in Broome, when letters posted in London were delivered by air at Broome thirty days later.
The weight of freight carried for the month was 6.041 lbs. and included several boxes of day-old chickens, which were carried to ports as far north as Broome.
We know how far Broome is from London. We should do well to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds to encourage civil and commercial aviation in Australia for the purpose of helping those people who are blazing the track in remote districts. The Airways Bulletin further says - passenger Traffic.
Striking testimony of the increasing popularity of air travel is afforded by the following record of passengers carried since 1923 : -
The figuresfor the first half of the current year show a still further improvement over 1925.
Vice-Regal Tour. “ A most comfortable and enjoyable journey. Am intensely pleased with great efficiency and kind attention of all pilots.”
In the above words His Excellency Sir William Campion telegraphed to Airways Limited on the completion of his trip from Perth to Broome by aeroplane.
Knowing the need for the passage of this bill I should not have delayed it by speaking but for my anxiety to emphasize the importance of developing the air branch of our defence system, and at the same time call attention to the regrettable accidents at Point Cook. I hope that the Government, through its responsible Minister, will take every precaution to prevent a recurrence of such accidents by making use of the very best aeroplanes it is possible to obtain, and providing the most competent instruction for those who are being trained. Again I emphasize the need for the encouragement of civil aviation in its commercial aspect, so that in cases of emergency we shall have at cur service a considerable number of welltrained aviators.
[11.36]. - In connexion with the regrettable accident at Point Cook, I should like to inform the Senate that the machines used for training purposes there are similar to those used abroad for the same purpose. They are Avro machines, which are regarded as the most suitable for (he training of young pilots. The aircraft in use are not obsolete; they are certainly a gift from the Imperial Government, but they have all been thoroughly overhauled and re-conditioned, and in all cases have been certified to by technical experts as being thoroughly airworthy. The instructors are very capable pilots. Honorable senators must be aware that during the war the Australian Air Force comprised a splendid body of men who were able to hold their own, not only with the members of the allied air forces, but also against the enemy air forces. Most of the accidents which have occurred in Australia have occurred during landing practice. The young pilots are first of all taught to fly at a high altitude, and when they become expert at that they are, at a lower altitude, taught landing practice. Most ofthe accidents occur at this, which is the most difficult portion of their training. The last accident is the subject of an inquiry. I can assure honorable senators that every possible care is taken, not only with the machines, but also with the training of pilots. Anyhonorable senator who has the time to spare should pay a visitto Point Cook, where he will see not only the precautions taken in training, but also the care which is exercised in re-conditioning the machines. They are constantly being examined, and very often are taken into the workshop tot have necessary repairs effected. I have been to the depot on a couple of occasions, and noted the thoroughness of the training and the work done in the workshop. Many honorable senators appear to think that an air force is capable of independent action against an enemy. That is quite wrong. An air force is subsidiary to both the Army and the Navy, and could not exist at the front without the infantry to protect it. To a certain extent cavalry have been replaced by aircraft as the eyes of a military force. It is used as a scouting as well as a fighting force, and is frequently employed to bomb areas at the enemy’s rear. The Australian Air Force should be capable of dealing with any air force any enemy can send here. The moral effect of a well-equipped air force upon infantry during warlike operations is extraordinary. During the recent war it was very noticeable that when the allied airmen had the supremacy of the air it had a marked moral effect on the infantry. The supremacy of the air fluctuated very much; on some occasions the enemy had the upper hand, and on other occasions the allies were supreme in the air. In regard to what has been done by the Defence Department in extending the air force, the following shows the organization and establishment for the current year: -
Head-quarters, Melbourne, Victoria. Liaison Office, Air Ministry, London, England.
No. 1 Flying Training School, Point Cook, Victoria.
No. 1 Aircraft Depot, Laverton, Victoria.
No. 1 (Composite) Squadron, Laverton, Victoria.
Wing Head-quarters, Richmond, New South Wales.
No. 3 (Composite) Squadron, Richmond, New South Wales.
No. 101 (Fleet Co-operation) Flight, Richmond, New South Wales.
Experimental Section, Randwick, Sydney, New South Wales.
Honorable senators will thus see that the Government is extending the activities of this branch of our defence system. The general defence policy of the Government is to have, first of all, a capable and efficient general staff, and also a trained nucleus of officers and non-commissioned officers sufficient to man five infantry divisions and two light horse divisions. We have now a very efficient general staff, and in process of training a very capable, efficient, and enthusiastic lot of young officers and non-commissioned officers. We have in course of construction the following factories for the manufacture of munitions : - .
High explosives factory for manufacture of T.N.T., shell-filling, &c.
Engineering factories for manufacture of 18-lb. guns and carriages.
Fuse and cartridge case manufacture. Proof range, Wakefield.
There are already in existence the following factories : -
Small arms factory, Lithgow.
Small arms ammunition factory, Footscray.
Research laboratory, Maribyrnong.
Inspection branch for inspection of all stores, &c.
Clothing factory, South Melbourne.
We have also ordnance depots with equipment and material for arming the forces on a war strength. At present the equipment is not quite sufficient to meet war requirements, but it is gradually being built up to that strength. The training of the boys is being proceeded with on sound lines. Although at the expiration of three years’ training the boys may not be highly trained soldiers, they are probably better trained than is any similar force in the world.
It is not a fact that the gift aeroplanes are stillin the cases in which they arrived. The whole of the material has been unpacked, and it will all be re-conditioned by the 1st August next.
– Is any of it being used ?
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.It has all been unpacked, and, with the exception of some of the material comprising spare parts, most of it has been used. If honorable senators would take the trouble to visit Point Cook, they would see the material in the workshops and stores, properly tabulated, and also a great proportion of it in use daily.
Honorable senators are probably aware that regular air services are maintained between Perth and Derby, once a week in each direction, the total distance flown annually being 149,968 miles. Between Charleville and Camooweal there is a service once a week in each direction, the annual mileage being 85,800. Between Adelaide and Cootamundra also there is a weekly service in each direction covering a distance of 60,112 miles per annum. A service is also maintained between Broken Hill and Mildura, twice weekly in each direction, the total flying distance being 39,312 miles a year. Between Melbourne and Hay also there is a service twice weekly in each direction, the distance flown each year being 48,464 miles. There has been considerable expansion of the service during repent years, and it is possible that there will be further extensions in the near future. Honorable senators will agree that those services are very efficient. So far there have been no accidents, with the exception of one in Western Australia, in the early stages of the service there. That there have not been more accidents speaks volumes for the organization and management of the services and the efficiency of the pilots. I have a personal knowledge of the Queensland service, and know that not only is great care taken in the selection of pilots, but also that the pilots, when selected, are very careful in carrying out their duties.
– Will the Minister give practical evidence of his sympathy with civil aviation by acceding to the request which has been made ?
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.I can assure the honorable senator that the request is receiving consideration.
– There is very little comfort in that.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.The instructors at Point Cook are a particularly careful and capable body of men, who exercise great care in carrying out the very important duties of instructing young pilots.
– I desire to direct attention to the unreasonable delay which has occurred in connexion with the unification of the railway gauges throughout Australia. Practically the whole of the Queensland railway system is of 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. In New South Wales it is 4 ft. 8½ in.; Victoria and South. Australia have both 5-ft. 3-in. and 3-ft. 6-in. gauges, whereas in Western Australia, with the exception of the transcontinental line, the gauge is 3 ft. 6 in.
– I rise to a point of order. There is no vote in this bill for the unification of the railway gauges throughout Australia, nor is there any vote for any railway proposition. I ask whether the honorable senator is in order in discussing the unification of the railway gauges. He will have an opportunity to refer to that matter when the Loan Bill, which has already been dealt with in another place, is being considered in the Senate.
– The honorable senator will not be in order in discussing railway items in connexion with this bill.
– What is the reason for the item, “Under the control of Department of Works and Railways - purchase of properties and sites, £5,767.”
– That refers to sites for post offices.
– Another item refers to the installation of equipment for printing and reproduction of plans.
– On a point of order. I draw attention to the fact that the item referred to by the honorable senator is merely- a statement of a vote that was made last year. Under the heading to which he has referred there is no vote for this year.
– The honorable senator will not be in order in discussing that item under this bill.
– Should I be in order, Mr. President, in drawing attention to the absence of an item of that nature?
– Then I shall have to take advantage of the opportunity mentioned by the Leader of the Senate and refer to these matters later. From what the Minister has said, I take it that the sitesreferred to are solely sites for post offices. We are asked to vote the sum of £8,018 for new buildings, alterations and additions, and construction of launches and vessels in connexion with the Department of Health. I should like to know the reason for that vote.
– Particulars can be given in committee.
– It was stated recently at a public meeting in Sydney, that of the persons alive in Australia today 750,000 would die of cancer, and that since the termination of the Great War, cancer had claimed more than 70,000 victims in Australia. The mortality from that disease in this country is greater than that caused by the war. Yet the Government, in this bill, proposes to set aside only the nominal sum of £8,018 for the Department of Health. The mortality caused by cancer, and the ravages of that disease are such as to arrest the attention of every thinking person in the community. That about 10 percent. of the persons now living in the Commonwealth are destined to die of cancer is appalling. In view of the immense revenue collected by the Commonwealth, more might be done to prevent the spread of that disease. In New South Wales an effort is being made to collect £100,000 for the purpose of . establishing an up-to-date research laboratory. Having regard to the enormous number of deaths that have resulted from this disease, the number of people who are suffering from it, and the certainty on the latest figures that 750,000 Australians who are at present alive will succumb to it, the Government is not doing its duty when it provides a merely nominal sum for research work in connexion with it. Any financial assistance that the Government might give to those who in Sydney are endeavouring to collect £100,000 for the establishment of an uptodate laboratory would be warranted. It might go even further and, if it thought it desirable, establish laboratories in every captal city in the Commonwealth. It may be that Australia has done all that can be done at present, and that the expenditure has been undertaken judiciously. In Great Britain, the United
States of America, and European countries, research institutions are endeavouring to locate the cause and the cure of the disease. Yet the Commonweal Lh proposes to place at the disposal of the Department of Health the nominal sum of £8,000.
– The honorable senator is wrong; the amount is £41,385. The figures to which he refers represents the expenditure from the vote for last year.
– I stand corrected. The fact that more than five times as much as was expended last year is placed upon the Estimates this year is an indication that the Government appreciates the importance of the matter. But even that provision is not sufficient. It is proposed under this measure to expend upon the defence of Australia a sum of £168,469, and various other items will raise the total expenditure to £296,734. No subject is more worthy than this of the attention of the Government, and in no direction could public money be more advantageously expended. An enormous number of returned men, and other members of the Australian community, are suffering acutely from tuberculosis. The Government would render a very great service, not only to the Commonwealth, but probably to the whole world, if it directed its attention to the location of the cause and the cure of the disease along lines that are recommended by experts. The matter is of such importance, not only to the present, but also to future generations, that we should not allow a day to pass without making the most strenuous efforts to grapple with the problem. If fa foreign enemy came to our shores and -murdered a few thousand Australians every year., no stone would be left unturned to adopt remedial measures; but because this insidious disease does its work quietly and attacks persons individually, no public outcry is raised. When a member of our community is foully murdered, the whole community is immediately advised through the press and by other means. We seem to have become callous to the insidious ravages of this disease, and regard with comparative equanimity the fact that it sweeps away thousands every year. It does not matter where money is expended, so long as a remedy is discovered. It is wrong of us to permit the present state of affairs to continue year after year. A Department of Health has been established for the benefit of the natives in the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, and excellent results have accrued. I admit that we have gone a long way towards discovering a cure for this disease, but I claim that we are not doing sufficient, and are not proceeding at a rapid enough pace.
– If the honorable senator will look at page 252 of the budget-papers he will find under “ Miscellaneous “ the item “ Subsidies and expenditure in connexion with the control of venereal disease and tuberculosis, £15,000.”
– The matter is of sufficient importance for the Minister to make a definite statement as to what is being done, what action is contemplated, and particularly whether the Government is prepared to make a contribution to the research committee in Sydney to which I have referred.
– This is the second occasion, Mr. President, upon which I have had the privilege of addressing you. I have to apologize for the fact that on the previous occasion I did not avail myself of the opportunity to compliment you upon your elevation to your present high office. Naturally, .being human - and preferring to be human rather than inhuman - I should like to be the’ congratulated instead of the congratulator. That, however, is by the way. I feel that in my attempted flight to the exalted pinnacle upon which you rest I was stricken down and made to feel a piercing humiliation. From my lowly position I now express the hope ‘that you will have a long and prosperous career in the Chair. Using words as a vehicle for conveying my thoughts towards you, I assure you that I better showed my appreciation of your qualities by supporting you to the fullest extent of my powers in your effort to obtain your present position. I did so, not only personally, ‘but also by giving advice to those who sought it from me regarding your fitness for the position. I now leave the matter by wishing you all good luck.
– I thank the honorable senator for his very manly explanation. I accept it cheerfully.
– Under this measure it is proposed to spend £296,734 on new works and buildings, and we are afforded the opportunity of showing where in the past public money has not been expended to the best advantage. I refer particularly to the cost of the erection of houses in the Federal Capital Territory. I hope that you, sir, will not rule that I am out of order in referring to that matter. If you have any doubts I call your attention to the fact that the schedule to the bill contains numerous items that are applicable to the erection throughout the Commonwealth of new works and buildings that may have been the subject of inquiry by the Public Works Committee. It is regrettable that a greater amount of wisdom and common sense has not been displayed in providing houses- for our public servants at Canberra. It was reported that a contract for 300 houses involving an expenditure of over £500,000 had been let by the Federal Capital Commission. That report, I may add, was, within certain limits, contradicted officially. We were given to understand that the ministerial interpretation of the position was not that a complete contract had been let, but that contracts in groups of six cottages, and costing from £1,600 to £2,000 each, had been entered into for the erection of homes for public servants. It is clear, however, that the interests of the public servants - that body from which I have always demanded 20s. worth of work for every 20s. received - have not been conserved in this transaction.
– I am afraid that I cannot allow the honorable senator to discuss the erection of cottages at Canberra. The bill contains no item covering works at the Federal Capital. The honorable gentleman will be in order in referring incidentally to that subject, but may not discuss it at length.
– Very well, Mr. President, I accept your invitation to discuss the matter incidentally. I hope that the Government will not again depart from the established practice of referring all public works of any magnitude to the Public Works Committee for investigation and report. Failure to do that in this instance will involve public servants in substantial loss, because they will have to pay more for the rent or purchase of their houses at Canberra than otherwise they would have to do.
– The public servantsare not compelled to accept those houses.. If they wish they may build homes for themselves.
– Nevertheless the burden on them must necessarily be heavier as the result of this foolish departure from the policy which has been in force for the past fifteen years of referring all such works to the Public Works Committee.. . I have personal knowledge of the case of an eight-roomed house erected in my own State 200 miles north of Perth. That building will last for 100 years, and although it cost less than £1,000, it is good enough for any person.
– Is ?t a wooden or a brick house?
– It is a wooden house built on a very sound foundation. I speak of it because I am personally interested in ‘it. Homes of that description would have been more satisfying to public servants at Canberra. I regret that Mr. Murdoch, one of the most capable officers in the Commonwealth Public Service, has not been retained at least in an advisory capacity in connexion with the erection of houses in the Federal’ Capital. That is all I shall have to say on that point.
I endorse what my friend the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) said a few moments ago about the need for extending our air services, and I note that the Minister in charge of the bill (Senator Pearce), is not unfriendly towards the suggestion. If any further grants or subsidies are to be paid the Government should stipulate that heavier types of machines capable of carrying the simpler commodities so necessary for the people who live in the north or north-west of my State, and in other isolated portions of the Commonwealth, should be provided. These things make for the contentment of the people, and we should bend our energies to seeing that they get them in a larger measure.
– There is nothing like the divine discontent; a contented man will never strive for anything.
– Our. ex-President, as we know, lives in the empyrean regions where’ he may in his moments of leisure- reflect upon the virtues flowing from a condition of divine discontent. I am speaking . of the ordinary .work-a-day affairs that come within the region of practical politics. I am dealing with the ordinary discontent of mankind. I am dealing with a utilitarian subject. I am endeavouring to persuade the Government to make it possible for people who live away in the north and north-west to obtain some of those commodities so essential for their comfort. In other words, I am speaking for the pioneers, . to whom we owe so much, and who, I regret to think, are so often forgotten.
I turn now to the subject of rifle ranges. There is provision in this bill for the same vote as last year. It should be substantially increased, so that those men who devote so much of their, time to perfecting themselves in the use of those weapons so useful in time of war, may be encouraged to a reasonable extent. I should like to see an increase of 50 per cent, in the vote for rifle clubs. I know that I am not allowed to refer to the debate on the measure that was before the Senate last night, but I should like to say that I deprecate the expenditure of so much money on a Migration Commission whilst such ‘ useful institutions as our rifle clubs are clamouring for further assistance. I hope that the Supplementary Estimates will provide an increased vote for these clubs. A voluntary man, as - we know, is worth ten pressed men. A citizen who voluntarily sacrifices so much of his time in this useful occupation should be encouraged. In my State, where sturdy men have to work six days a week in the battle for a crust, they cannot afford to indulge in rifle practice on Saturday afternoons as is the custom in these “festering” cities like Melbourne
– Keep off the grass!
– I am only quoting Thomas Jefferson, the man who wrotethe Declaration of Independence of the United States of America, and who declared that the sores of our civilization are the festering cities that abound. I am surprised that an admirer of the classics like Senator Findley, one of the notables of the Labour party, should register dissent. I think I have said all I intended to say when I rose. Let me, in closing, repeat that I hope there will in the future be a thorough investigation into all public works involving the expenditure of a considerable sum of money. The Public Works Committee, which was created by this Parliament, is one of our most valuable institutions. All shades of politics and all States have representation upon it. Every proposal is looked at from every angle, and as a result, in very many cases unnecessary expenditure is avoided. I believe that the Government has shown some contrition in the matter. I am led to believe that, what I am suggesting will be done. I am glad to think that Ministers, who are not all hard-hearted, have relented to some extent, and that we may confidently anticipate that hereafter there will be no departure from the well-established practice of referring such proposals as house construction at Canberra to the Public Works Committee for investigation and report.
– I had not intended to speak on this bill but for the fact that there is provision in it for expenditure on certain works in the Northern Territory. Some months have elapsed since Parliament passed a bill for the development of that portion of the Commonwealth. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce), when he was Minister for Home and Territories, visited many parts of the Northern Territory. During that visit he obtained first-hand information, and on his return, in introducing a bill relating to the development of the Territory, he became quite enthusiastic. He then appeared to be earnestly desirous of advancing the interests of the Territory, which, of course, would mean advancing the interests of the whole Commonwealth. But since the introduction of that bill the right honorable senator has adopted a go-slow policy. He has done little or nothing to encourage the development of that vast area. We passed a bill with very great haste, and we were informed that no time would elapse before the North Australia Commission would be appointed. Some months have elapsed, and the Government has not yet made any appointments to that commission. The peopling and development of the Northern Territory should be the first duty, of any Common- . wealth Government, and the appointment of the North Australia Commission should precede the appointment of the Development and Migration Commission. But this Government does not work in that way. Interested persons are extremely anxious that a greater number of migrants should be induced to come to Australia and are, apparently, more concerned about the unemployed in Great Britain than they are in making land available to and finding employment for the Australian people. The Government should appoint the North Australia Commission before the Development and Migration Bill is assented to. This Australian-born Minister led myself and others to believe that he was in earnest in regard to the development of the Northern Territory. He was associated with the Department of Home and Territories for months after the bill was passed by Parliament, but he has fallen down on his job. The department is now in charge of another Minister, and although we were told that the North Australia Commission would supersede the Land Board then and now in existence in. the Northern Territory, that commission has not yet been appointed, and the Land Board is still in existence. I am reliably informed that for months the Land Board has been handicapped because no regulations have been framed under the act which brought it into existence.
– Who told the honorable senator that?
– I have been reliably informed. In the absence of regulations, leases and licences have not been issued, and those engaged in pastoral and other pursuits, being unable to obtain leases or licences granted by the board, cannot make fencing and other necessary improvements.
– The honorable senator’s informant is an awful liar.
– I have also been informed that as a surveyor has not been in the Northern Territory for two or three years pastoralists and others cannot obtain leases or licences, and it is impossible for them to effect improvements in the way of fencing, because their boundaries have not been defined.
– The person who made that statement is a liar.
– Some of the communications from the Northern Territory to the ex-Minister for Home and Terri tories, if published, would be a revelation. No doubt the Minister will say that such communications are more or less confidential, but 1 venture to say that complaint after complaint has been made because of the neglect and ineptitude of the department controlling the Northern Territory.
– Perhaps the honorable senator would be interested to know that regulations were issued in December last.
– I would not be surprised to learn that they have not yet reached Darwin.
– If the honorable senator’s informant would lie in speaking of one matter, he might be suspected to do so when referring to another.
– How long prior to the issue of the regulations was the act in existence?
– The regulations were published in the Government Gazette in December, 1925.
– But it takes several weeks for communications to reach Darwin. The act had been passed many months before the regulations were drafted.
– The old regulations were still in force.
– Yes, and like many other documents pigeon-holed in departments of state, had become old and musty.
– The statement of the honorable senator is quite inaccurate.
– I said that I was reliably informed, and in that ornate language characteristic of the Leader of the Government in the Senate——
– The honorable senator’s informant is a liar.
– That ornate language is characteristic of the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
– I stand by what I said.
– The honorable senator should not exhibit temper.
– Sometimes I am outwardly calm but inwardly volcanic. At present I am not at peace with the members of this Administration, and particularly the Minister (Senator Pearce), because he has not done for the Northern Territory what I really believed he would do. I thought he was going to be different from any other Minister and would be a “ doer “ in the interests of the Northern Territory.
– Will the honorable senator inform the Senate when this Northern Australia Act was enacted ?
– I know that the bill passed this Chamber in January last.
– When was it assented to?
– I cannot say when it became an act. It went through this Chamber early this year.
– It became an act on the 4th June, 1926.
– The bill passed the Senate long before that.
– Yes, but it had to be considered in another place.
– Before the passage of that bill, preparation would have to be made for certain developmental works.
– Last night the honorable senator was denouncing the Government for allegedly anticipating the appointment of the Migration Commission. He said it was wrong to anticipate a decision of Parliament.
– I have never condemned any Government for making proper provision for the development of the areas under its control.
– There is an item in the schedule for £56,000 for the Northern Territory.
– Let us examine the items in the schedule. There is one, “ Construction of building and roads, engineering services and water boring, towards cost, £53,000.” The amount voted for 1925-26 was £40,500 of which amount only £19,488 was spent. Does not that confirm my statement?
– It confirms what I said.
– If the Government is really earnest in its expressed desire to develop the Northern Territory what prevented the expenditure of the amount voted last year.
– The wet season.
– There are wet seasons in other parts of Australia.
– But the conditions are not the same as they are in the Territory.
– I know that the Northern Territory is a tropical part of Australia, but it is not the only tropical part. I know there are periods when it is difficult to vigorously proceed with necessary work, but the obstacles to bo overcome in this way are no greater in the Northern Territory than they are in certain parts of Queensland.
– The same thing happens there. They cannot work in the wet districts in certain periods of the year.
– The total expenditure in connexion with construction of buildings and roads, engineering services and water boring, is estimated at £106,000, so if the Government proceeded with work in its usual go-slow manner it will take five years to spend £106,000. There is another item, “ Construction and filling of petrol tank, £3,000. Although it is the usual practice to obtain detailed information when the bill is in committee, perhaps it would not be out ofplace to ask the Minister at this stage in what manner and for what purpose this money is to be expended. The vote last year was £17,300 for the construction and filling of petrol tank - there must be only one - and the expenditure was only £14,141. This year’s vote is £3,000. Why the disparity?
– It is to finish the job.
– For what purpose is the tank used?
– For the storage of petrol.
– Is the petrol sold?
– Yes; to users of motors. It is provided for the purpose of supplying people in the Northern Territory with cheap petrol.
– That is all right. Provision is made for the construction of buildings and roads, engineering services, and water boring in Central Australia. The estimatedcost is £52,000, and the amount appearing on this year’s Estimates is £30,500. I should like to know who has recommended these works, and whether they have been reported upon by the Public Works Committee.
– I suggest that the honor- able senator should ask for these details in committee.
– Am I out of order’ in asking for them now ?
-.- Then I shall ask for them now.
– The Minister for Home and Territories has already spoken, and will have no opportunity of replying on the second reading. If the honorable senator asks for this information in committee, the Minister will be able to supply it.
– I thought that the Minister who moved the second reading of the Bill would reply generally to points raised during the debate. However, I rose mainly to direct public attention again to the fact that little or no work is being done in the Northern Territory by the administration, and to stir the Government to greater activity. I am sincerely desirous of helping in every possible direction all efforts to people and develop the Territory, and I am pained and grieved that hitherto no Government has brought forward a bold, progressive and comprehensive developmental policy for the Territory. I have time and again risen in the Senate, not to embarrass Ministers, but to stimulate them in that effort that, irrespective of party, ought to be made by every administration. I regret that the Minister in whom I had faith and confidence in respect to this matter has proved a disappointment. I thought that, having taken on the task of propounding a progressive policy for the development of the Northern Territory, he would have seen it through, and would do what no other Minister has yet attempted to do. If he- had come forward with such a policy, I am satisfied that no honorable senator in the Labour party would have taken strong exception to it so long as it spelt progress for the Territory.
– I wish to say a few words in reply to the personal attack which has been made on myself by Senator Findley, based on rumour and gossip by some person whose name the honorable senator had not the courage to mention, so that <ro might form some judgment as to the value of his testimony. I have already demonstrated that this unnamed slanderer has conveyed an untruth to Senator Findley in the allegation repeated by the honorable senator that although the Northern Territory Crown Lands Ordinance was passed some time ago, and a land board appointed, there were no regulations yet in existence, and consequently no leases or licences could be granted, and settlement in the Territory was held up. As I wa3 the responsible Minister, that was an attack on my ability, not only to hold office^ but also to carry out a promise I had made to Parliament. In fact, Senator Findley said that he intended it as such. He said that he had had confidence in me, but- that because of these allegations that confidence had been misplaced. Although I have already shown that these regulations have been in existence for six months, and that, therefore, the allegation of the slanderer quoted by the honorable senator is untrue, .Senator Findley proceeded to criticize me on further information apparently given to him by this slanderer whose name he will not reveal. It was unworthy of the honorable senator to retail here, without giving the source of his information, the gossip of some one who apparently wishes to damage me. That sort of conduct does not raise the tone of the Senate.
– We shall see about that later on.
– Senator Findley says that there has been unduedelay in giving effect to the provisions of the Northern Australia Act. Last night he and others were vigorously criticizing the Government, and alleging that Ministers had already appointed1 members of the Development and Migration Commission before the bill authorizing their appointment had been passed. They have condemned the Government for doing so, though the’ statement ‘made is not true. Now Senator Findley tells us that the North Australia Commission should have been appointed.
– I rise to a point of. order. No honorable senator on this side during the course of the debate last night said that Senator Pearce or his Government had appointed members of the Development and Migration Commission. I ask the honorable senator to withdraw his statement.
– I shall not withdraw it.
– The statement of Senator Pearce was personally offensive to myself and to honorable senators on this side of the Senate. We did not say that members of the Development and Migration Commission had already been appointed. I ask Senator Pearce to indicate which honorable senator on this side made the statement that members of that commission had been appointed. Mr. President, as the right honorable senator does not see fit to withdraw his statement at my request, I ask you to exercise your authority, and compel, him to withdraw an assertion which is personally offensive to me.
– The Minister knows that when a statement is denied, and a withdrawal asked for, it is customary for a withdrawal to be made.
– I did not say that Senator Needham had made the statement, but if he thinks that I made it in regard to himself, I withdraw it, although I repeat that the statement was made in this chamber last night.
– Who made it?
– Among others Senator Lynch said that he had been informed that the Government had already appointed the chairman of this commission, and he proceeded to criticize the Government for having done so before the bill had been passed.
– I also rise to a point of order. Senator Pearce made the definite statement that some one had said that the Government had made the appointment. He is now qualifying that statement by saying that Senator Lynch declared that he had been so informed. There is a great difference between the statement now made by the Minister and his previous statement.
– Senator Pearce has withdrawn his statement as applying to Senator Needham, and so has complied with the Standing Orders.
– I am not satisfied simply because the Leader of the Senate says that his remark did not apply to Senator Needham. It applied to every honorable senator, and as one humble senator I ask the Leader of the Senate, if he implies that I made this statement, to prove his assertion or else withdraw it.
– Does Senator Findley take exception to the statement made by Senator Pearce?
– Yes, I take very strong exception to it.
– Then I must ask Senator Pearce to withdraw his statement as applying to Senator Findley.
– I did not say that Senator Findley had made the statement ; I said that Senator Lynch had done so. I cannot withdraw something I did not say.
– I appear to have been dragged into this controversy in quite an innocent fashion. I have not yet touched the Hansard proof of my speech last night. If Senator Pearce cares to do so he can look through it, and if he finds in it that I said that the Development and Migration Commission had been appointed, I shall apologize. That is playing the game by the Minister, a thing that he has never done by me.
– The statement I made was that Senator Lynch, in the course of the debate last night, said that he had been informed that the chairman of the commission had been appointed, and that he had then proceeded to censure the Government for having made that appointment. If Senator Lynch says now that he did not make that statement I am prepared to withdraw what I said.
– I made no such statement, as the Minister can see from the proof of my speech.
– Another statement made by Senator Findley was that there had been undue delay in regard to the appointment of the North Australia Commission - that although the act had been passed, and had been in force for months, the Government had made no appointment. By interjection I said what I repeat now, that the bill was assented to on the4th June, 1926, only a month ago. Of course. Senator Findley could pick these commissioners in a few minutes, but Ministers are not so gifted, and require time to make a careful choice.
– You picked the Development and Migration Commission before the bill was passed. The PRESIDENT. - Order ! A few moments ago Senator Findley asked the Minister to withdraw an allegation ‘ that honorable senators had said that the Government had chosen the Development and Migration Commission before the Development and Migration Bill was passed, yet now he makes the very assertion which he denied having made last night. I must ask him to withdraw it.
– If my memory does not betray me, what I said was that the Government had probably picked the commission before the bill was passed ; but if you, sir, say that I made a straight-out assertion I withdraw it, although I still hold my own opinion about the matter.
– The honorable senator’s withdrawal must be without qualification.
– -I withdraw, abjectly.
– Perhaps I had better not pursue the subject of the appointment of the North Australia Commission, which seems to perturb Senator Findley. The honorable senator has referred to the unexpended balances on public works. He wil] remember that in introducing the Northern Australia Bill I explained that owing to the wet season intervening in the middle of the financial year there is always in the Northern Territory at the end of the year a large unexpended balance on works. Tt was partly to overcome that difficulty that the Government introduced the commission form of administration for the Territory.
Senator Lynch has suggested consultation between Mr. Murdoch, the Government Architect, and the Federal Capital Commission in connexion with the construction of buildings at Canberra. As a matter of fact the commssion has been consulting Mr. Murdoch, but in order to put the matter on a proper footing it has recently asked the Minister for “Works and Railways for formal’ permission to do so. That permission has been given, and in the future, as in the past, the commission will from time to time consult Mr. Murdoch on various works being carried out at the Federal Capital.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2 p.m.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) tion regarding the item, “ Erection of and additions to meteorological buildings, £7,000.” On the north-west coast of Western Australia, and probably in the Gulf waters also, there is a large area which is lia’ble to cyclonic disturbances. The people there have no information of the approach of these storms ; they only know that they are the result of air currents. At one time a suggestion was made that the Meteorological Department should exchange meteorological information -with the Dutch authorities in Timor or Java with a view to obtaining advice of approaching storms in order that whatever preparation was possible might be made. On the Queensland coast similar conditions prevail, excepting that there are no neighbouring stations from which advice of approaching storms could be obtained.
– There is a station at Willis Island.
– The Willis Island station is occupied for a portion of the year only.
– Lack of information regarding the approach of these cyclonic disturbances has caused a great deal of damage to property as well as loss of life. Honorable senators may remember the loss of the Koombana and the Yongala, some time ago, the former off the western coast, and the latter off the coast of Queensland. While the loss of the Yongala has not been attributed to any cyclonic disturbance, in the case of the Koombana, a valuable ship, and more valuable lives, might have been saved had Port Hedland, or some other station, been advised by the Dutch authorities of the approaching storm. T should like the Minister to inform us what has been done towards co-operating with the Dutch authorities in this matter. If nothing has been done, no further delay should occur in seeking this valuable information.
[2.10]. - I regret that I am unable to give the honorable senator the information for which he has asked, but T shall consult with the Government Meteorologist in the matter. I agree that we should avail ourselves of all possible sources of information regarding cyclones and other storms, and weather conditions generally.
– Is the Minister satisfied that the signal station at Willis Island is doing good work,, and can he inform us whether the area referred to by Senator Lynch comes within its ambit? I understood that that station was brought into existence in order to give advice as to the approach of storms to Australia. Some time ago Senator Foll and I, as members of the Public Accounts Committee, visited Willis .Island. I believe that the staff there is doing good work, but I should be glad io know whether that station can cover the area referred to by Senator Lynch.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Home and Territories) [2.13].- The Willis Island station off the east coast of Queensland gives excellent information regarding the approach of storms, but only to the east coast of Australia.
– For- the provision of aircraft equipment and plant, including spare parts, machinery, tools, ordnance, and engineering supplies, and ammunition, and preparation of aerodromes, the sum of £8,000 is set down. I should like to know whether provision has been made for housing officers at Point Cook in order that they may not have to travel long distances from their homes to the aerodrome. The Minister will remember that one of the victims of the recent aviation fatality had .to motor from his home, leaving at T o’clock in the morning, in order to reach Point Cook to take part in aerial instruction work. The Government ought to provide at Point Cook quarters for members of the Air Force, so that they would be alongside their work, and not have to undergo a strain to reach it.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Home and Territories) [2.16]. - The honorable senator will remember that a- few days ago the Defence Equipment Bill passed this Chamber. It provided that an amount of £250,000 should be set aside for air services. The department is endeavouring to secure a portion of that amount for the purpose of providing quarters at Point Cook for the married personnel.
.- I rise merely to obtain from the Minister information respecting the works that are in progress and those that are contemplated in the near future, in the Northern Territory.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Home and Territories) [2.20]. - Of the sum of £53,000 that is provided for the construction of buildings and roads, engineering sendees, and water boring in Northern Australia, £10,000 is required to meet liabilities that were outstanding at 30th June last, and the balance of £43,000 will go towards the cost of the following new services: -
An amount of £30,500 is provided for the construction of buildings and roads, engineering services, and water boring in
Central Australia. Of that sum, £12,000 is required to meet liabilities on works in hand but not completed at the 30th June last. The balance of the provision will go towards the cost of the following new services: -
– By whom are the recommendations made that those works should be proceeded with?
– The boring has been recommended by Mr. Keith Ward, Government Geologist in South Australia. The other works have been recommended by the Works and Railways Department.
– I should like to know whether the stock route from Brunette Downs, of which bitter complaint was made some time ago, has now a sufficient number of wells; also, whether the dips have been put in order, so that stock may travel freely and safely between Brunette Downs and Longreach?
– The stock route had a sufficient number of bores at a distance of 20 miles apart, but the complaint was that they were not kept in order. A more efficient system of patrol now exists, and they will not be allowed to get out of order in the future. Complaint was also made in regard to the dips. I understand that one dip was too narrow to take wide-horned cattle, but that it has now been widened. The ether dip has been repaired; and a stock inspector has reported that both are now in good order.
– I should like to know what practice is being followed by the Government in the carrying out of different works in the Territory. Is the contract system adopted, wherever possible? When works are carried out by day labour abuses are apt to creep in. In Western Australia particularly the Government is not getting value for the money that it is expending on road construction. In this distant Territory every effort should be made to see that a pound’s worth of work is given for each pound that is expended.
– Very little roadmaking, in the sense in which we understand it in the southern part of Australia, is undertaken in the Northern Territory. The expenditure is almost entirely confined to the crossings of rivers and creeks, or sandy patches. In the majority of instances it is carried out by the Works and Railways Department in co-operation with the pastoralists whom the roads will serve. In some cases the pastoralists themselves engage the labour and carry out the work, and they undoubtedly see that it is done economically. In the central portion of Australia the work is carried out mostly by the police, with native labour. It has been found that spinifex makes an excellent crossing, which stands well, whereas a metal crossing would probably be swept away by the first flood. There is no day labour in the true sense of the term in either the north or the centre of the Northern Territory.
.- I should like the Minister to inform me why the cattle require to be dipped, and whether the dips belong to the Government or to the owners of Brunette Downs.
– The dips are on the stock routes that lead into South Australia and Queensland. As there are very few Government officials in that part of Australia, they are erected at or near a head station, and the pastoralist on whose run they are placed undertakes to keep them in order. They may be used by any travelling stock. All stock that travels along those roads has to be dipped before passing into other States. These are Government dips.
– What clean country do the stock come through to account for their having to be dipped?
– Unfortunately the Northern Territory has the tick pest, and, as the cattle travel into clean country, they mustfirst be dipped. Practically the idea is to establish a quarantine area.
Schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
– In view of the necessity to push on with the works programme, I trust that honorable senators will not object to the suspension of the Standing Orders to enable the third reading, which usually is a’ formal stage, to pass. The adoption of this course will enable the money to be made available at once.
– Does the Minister want the bill to be passed now?
– Yes. Has the honorable senator any objection?
SenatorPEARCE.- Then I move—
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the bill from passing through its remaining stage without delay.
– I do not offer any objection to, but I regret the necessity for, the suspension of the Standing Orders. If the bill had been presented to the Senate earlier it could have been passed in the ordinary way. I deprecate this practice of moving for the suspension of the Standing Orders to expedite the passage of bills.
– If the honorable senator has any objection, I shall ask leave to withdraw the motion.
– I do not intend to divide the Senate on the motion. I am merely putting it to the Minister that these bills should come to us in sufficient time to allow of the ordinary procedure being followed. Almost every second week during the present session we have been asked to suspend the Standing Orders to allow measures to pass all stages without delay.
Question put -
– There being an absolute majority of honorable senators present, and no voice being heard in the negative, I declare the motion carried.
Bill (on motion by Senator Pearce) read a third time.
– I move–
That the bill be now read a second time.
The first provision of this bill is necessitated by the impending removal of the Seat of Government to Canberra. Section 10 of the Judiciary Act provides that-
The principal seat of the High Court shall be at the Seat of Government. Until the Seat of Government is established, the principal seat of the High Court shall be at such place as the Governor-General from time to time appoints.
It follows that when the Seat of Government is removed to Canberra the principal seat of the High Court will be Canberra. At present the arrangements made for the transfer of the Seat of Government to Canberra do not include any provision for the High Court. It will be impossible for the High Court to function there until proper buildings, including a proper library and other accommodation, are provided. Accordingly, to meet the position, it is proposed by this bill to amend section 10 of the existing act to read -
On and after a date to be fixed by proclamation the principal seat of the High Court shall be at the Seat of Government. Until the date so fixed, the principal seat of the High Court shall be at such place as the Governor-General from time to time appoints.
The other provision in the bill is for the payment of pensions to the justices of the High Court, present and future, upon the basis set forth in the bill. The basis proposed is the same as that which has already been put before the Senate in connexion with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, except that in this bill there is a provision relating to the pension position after “ a judge has attained the age of 70 years. The bill proposes that a pension shall be payable only to a judge who has served for fifteen years, or retires on permanent disability or infirmity after five years’ service. The pensions provided for are on the same scale as in the case of justices of the Supreme Court of New South Wales’. In Victoria pensions are provided for Supreme Court judges and County Court judges. In Western Australia and Tasmania, also, there are pensions, but they are not provided for judges in Queensland or South Australia. Judges in England, Canada, and New Zealand enjoy pensions, and in several cases upon a more generous scale than is provided in the bill. The justices of the High Court are the only public servants of the Commonwealth for whom pensions are not provided. The salaries of the justices were fixed in 1903, and have not since been increased. It has been calculated that these salaries are now worth about £1,700 per annum as compared with the ante-war living conditions. No one would have dreamed before the war of asking a member of the legal profession to accept a position on the High Court Bench at a salary of £1,700 per annum. The present proposal does not deal with the salaries of the justices of the High Court. It is difficult to justify the absence of pensions for Federal justices, in view of. the general principle that pensions are payable to highly placed judges, and the fact that most of the State judges have pension rights. In some respects, the positions of the State judges are more comfortable; they can live more at home, while the Federal judges have to travel very considerably. This bill is, of course, founded upon general considerations of a public character. The present members of the High Court accepted their positions subject to well-understood terms. They cannot claim anything more from the Commonwealth than the terms of their contract give, and have not claimed any more. Accordingly, it is not on any contractual grounds, or on grounds affecting the individual right of members of the High Court, that the bill is brought forward. Under the Constitution, the judges of the High Court, as I pointed out in dealing with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, hold office for life. The decision of the High Court, given in 1918, that High Court justices must be so appointed, did not affect the present members of the bench, who were appointed for life. Accepting the decision that justices of the High Court under the Constitution are necessarily appointed for life, Parliament must face the position that the efficiency of the court may require that it should be possible for judges to retire from their positions with dignity and a relative amount of ease. That’ the provision of pensions is ‘ desirable from this point of view is obvious. At present, judges are more ready to accept positions under a State Government than under the Commonwealth Go vernment, for the reason that the State positions carry pensions, and the Commonwealth positions do not. The High Court judgeships should not be in any sense less attractive than any other judgeships in Australia. In this way only can the best men be secured. The bill has been introduced, not for the purpose of honouring any supposed moral or legal obligation to the present members of the High Court, but in order that the High Court shall attract men of the highest ability and standing, and shall enjoy the absolute confidence of the whole of the people of Australia in the discharge of its high and important functions.
Debate (on motion by Senator Needham) adjourned.
[2.40]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The object of the bill is to amend the Petroleum Prospecting Act 1926, to enable the expenses incidental to the administration of that act to becharged against the moneys appropriated by the act. Under the act, as it stands, administrative expenses cannot be so charged. The regulations provide for the recipients of a subsidy in aid of boring to enter into an agreement with the Government, which requires them to carry out boring operations in a manner satisfactory to the Minister, to make satisfactory provision for the shutting off of water from the bore, where necessary, and to do other things which the Minister may consider necessary to safeguard the public interest. To enable effective supervision to be exercised over boring operations and a proper check made of claims for reimbursement of expenditure, it is proposed to appoint an inspector, with practical experience of oil fields in other parts of the world, who will be required periodically to visit the various sites at which subsidized boring is being carried out, look into the methods being employed, examine the well logs and other local records, and report thereon to the Minister. The appointment will, of course, be of a temporary character only, and will terminate when subsidized boring operations come to an end. As the act stands at present, the cost of the inspector’s salary, and other similar administrative expenses, cannot be charged against the petroleum prospecting trust fund. It is considered that such expenses are a fair charge against the fund., and the amending bill will make it possible to charge them to that fund.
– Having examined the bill, and having listened carefully to the speech of the Minister (Senator Glasgow) I shall offer no objection to the passage of the measure. I agree that it is desirable to keep a watchful eye on the expenditure of all departments, and that, accordingly, it may be necessary to appoint an inspector to inspect and report upon drilling operations, so that we may be sure that the best results are being obtained from the expenditure of Commonwealth money. The principal act does not include this necessary safeguard.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment. Report adopted.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia -
Vice-President of the Executive Council) [2.45]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time, .
The bill covers the loan programme for 1926-27, as recently submitted with the budget. It will be seen that -
That is the amount covered by the bill now before the Senate, full particulars of which are set out in the schedule. The chief items of expenditure included in the bill for Commonwealth works, &c., are -
Asalreadyexplained,thebillalsoincludes£90,320forloanredemptionpurposes,and£2,000,000fortheFederal CapitalCommission..Ashonorablesenatorsareaware,theunexpendedbalances ofrevenueappropriationsatthecloseof eachfinancialyearlapse.Theunexpended balancesofloanappropriations,however, donotlapse.Asaresultofthispractice’ therewas,untillastfinancialyear,a largeaccumulationofliveloanappropriations,manyofwhichcouldnotbe used.Itwasconsideredadvisabletoclear upthepositionbyprovidingintheLoan Actoflastyearforthelapsingofthe unexpendedbalancesthenexistingunder theannualloanappropriationsofformer years.Atthesametime,provisionwas madeforthefullamountoftheloan expenditureoflastyeartobeappropriatedintheLoanActoflastyear.It isproposedtocontinuethispractice.In thisway,eachyear’sloanprogrammecan bedealtwithasawholebyParliament whentheannualLoanBillisunderconsideration.Inaccordancewiththis practice,provisionismadeinthebillfor thelapsingoftheunexpendedbalancesof theappropriationsmadeinlastyear’s LoanActs.Inaddition,authorityis soughtinthisbillortheexpenditureo the full amount of loan money required for the loan programme of this year. This provision regarding lapsing relates only to the appropriations of loan moneys. It does not relate to the authority given by existing Loan Acts for the borrowing of money. The effect of this is that authority still exists for certain moneys to he borrowed under the Loan Act of last year, but moneys so borrowed can bo spent only for the purposes set out in this bill. Towards the programme of loan works for 1926-27, there is a considerable amount of loan money in hand or in sight. These moneys consist of the present loan fund balances and the amounts payable, up to September next, as instalments of the recent London loan of £6,000,000. It will suffice, therefore, if Parliament now gives authority for the Treasurer to borrow £3,500,000 for the purposes of the loan programme for 1926- 27. It is not possible to state now the terms and conditions under which further moneys will be raised for works. I may say, however, that it has been definitely decided to borrow in Australia the amounts required for the Federal Capital, but the time for the raising of this money has not yet been decided. The bill does not provide for conversion or redemption operations in respect of war loans. Authority for dealing with these conversion operations is contained in existing laws, and it is not necessary to include such redemption operations in the annual Loan Bill. The loan requirements under the Migration Agreements are not dealt with in this bill, but are provided for in the bill relating to development and migration, which has passed the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Needham) adjourned.
Appointment op the Development and Migration Commission.
Motion (by Senator Peabce) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– During the debate on the Appropriation Works and Buildings Bill, the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Pearce) complained that, during the discussion on tihe Development and Migration Bill, I had said that I had heard that the commission to be established under that measure, to carry out the work of development and migration, had already been appointed. At the time I informed the right honorable gentleman that, if he read my uncorrected Hansard proof, he would see that’ he had made a mistake. I find that I used these words -
I Bay emphatically thai if any arrangement has been entered into by the Government for the appointment of any person to act as chairman of the commission that action is tantamount to ignoring this legislative chambei.
Further on I stated -
I do not say that the Government has entered into any such arrangement, but, according to press reports, it would appear tfaat it has done
Those are the statements of which the right honorable gentleman complained. There is no qualification whatever in the rest of my speech. If there is, I cannot see it. I now wish ‘ to direct the attention of the Senate to the statement of the Minister in replying to the debate on the second reading of the bill. He. said that the Government had entered into no legal obligations in connexion with the matter, leaving the dear inference, by a process of exclusion, that some obligation had been entered into. He went further, and said that, in embarking upon a project of this kind, it was necessary that the Government should have in mind some suitable persons for the positions. I do not say that they are the Minister’s exact words, but they contain the substance of what he conveyed to the Senate.
– That is quite correct. Senator LYNCH. - Then wherein lies the ground for complaint?
– I did riot complain. Senator LYNCH. - Then I have nothing more to say. Senator PEARCE (Western Australia- 1 Vice-President of the Executive Council) [2.55]. - The honorable senator is under a misapprehension concerning the circumstances in which I made the statements to which he has referred. That is borno I out by the honorable senator’s quoted i statement that he had been in- 3 formed. I referred to his’ statement because the Government had been - criticized, on the one hand, for delaying i the appointment of the members of the [ North Australia Commission, and, on the other, was also being criticized because it had practically entered into an obligation to make a certain appointment under the Development and Migration Bill before it had been passed. That was the sense in which 1 referred to the honorable senator’s statement. I did not make any complaint.
– Then I cannot understand the Minister’s reference to my remarks.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 2.58 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 July 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1926/19260716_senate_10_114/>.