10th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
Railways Act - Report on Commonwealth railways operations for the year ended 30th June, 1927.
Ordered to be printed.
Canberra - Sale of business sites. Particulars of upset prices and prices realized at auction.
Canberra - Particulars of building, sites, rentals, number and cost of residences, &c.
Canberra - Land sales - Operations of estate agents and others.
Public Service Act - Appointments, Department of Health- H. V. Golding and C. H. Kilian.
Sale of Leases: Commission Paid to Agents - Shareholders in Local Investment and Trading Concerns - Residences - Pastoral and Farming Leases - Swimming Baths -Fly Screen Doors.
With reference to a promise given by the then Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Sir William Glasgow) on the 24th March last, in reply to a question relating to the sale of business sites in Canberra, that he would discuss the matter with the Federal Capital Commission, will the Minister concerned inform the Senate of the result of such discussion ?
What were the number and upset prices of business sites offered for sale by the Federal Capital Commission at its last sale?
What number was sold, andat what prices ?
How is the great excess over the upset prices accounted for?
In view of the result, what modifications of the Federal Capital Commission’s policy is proposed ?
I am now in a position to advise the honorable senator as follows: -
The matter was discussed with the Chief Commissioner, Federal Capital Commission;, but it was not considered that there shouldbe any alteration in the method of assessing the upset prices of business blocks. The upset prices, put on the allotments in the 1928 sales were arrived at by expert valuators, after consideration of the results of the 1924 sales and other factors which affect laud values. At the last auction sale in April, 1927, the upset prices were exceeded in practically all cases. The results of the April sale indicate that the number of blocks then offered amply met the existing demand, no private requirements being shut out as far as could be ascertained by the Commission.
Twenty blocks offered - Civic Centre, Section 1 -
Motor Service Station, Eastlake -
Minor Industrial Sites, Ainslie. -
Section 28, Block 2.- Upset, £1,500.
Section 28, Block 3. - Upset, £1,500.
Section 28, Block 4. - Upset, £1,500.
Section 28, Block 5.- Upset, £1,500.
Boarding House Sites -
Section 18, Block 1.- Upset, £1,000.
Section 19, Block 1. - Upset, £1,000.
Section 57, Block 1.- Upset, £1,000.
Motor Service Station, Eastlake -
Sold at £11,300.
Minor Industrial Sites, Ainslie -
Section 28, Block 2.- Sold at £2,200.
Section 28, Block 3.- Sold at £2,000.
Section 28, Block 4.- Sold at £1 , 800.
Section 28, Block 5.- Sold at £1,900.
Boarding House Sites -
Section 18, Block l.-Sold at £1,100.
Section 19, Block 1.- Sold at f 1,100.
Section 57, Block 1.- Sold at £1,100.
Yesterday Senator DUNCAN asked the following questions: -
Is it a fact that practically all sites in Canberra, whether residential or business sites, have been disposed of through one firm or company of agents?
If so, what is the amount of commission which has been paid, and/or which is now due and owing by the commission to such agents?
What is the reason for granting such agents a monopoly in this respect?
Is it a fact that a member or members of such firm of estate agents is or are also a director or directors and/or large shareholders in certain buildingsand/or investment companies which have purchased or dealt very largely in lands acquired from the commission through such agents?
Is it a fact that a number of public servants and/or servants of the Federal Capital Commission are also large shareholders in one or more of such concerns?
How many blocks in the “ Civic “ Centre were submitted for sale at the last Bale of business sites?
How many of such blocks were purchased by any, and which of the aforesaid concerns in which public servants or servants of the commission are interested?
Is one of such concerns carrying on a motor garage firm or company ?
Is it a fact that a rival motor garage, the site for which was purchased at a very large price, has been notified by the commission that it will not bc permitted to carry out repair work?
If so, will this prohibition have the effect of giving a monopoly of such repair work to the concern referred to in Question No. 8?
The following particulars have now been received from the Federal Capital Commission : -
. The agents for the first sale were a Sydney firm of auctioneers acting in conjunction with a firm established at Canberra. Subsequent sales have been carried out by the Canberra firm.
Yesterday Senator GRANT asked the following questions: -
How many building sites have been leased within the Capital area?
What is the total annual rental received for these?
How many residences have been erected by the commission?
What is the total cost of the residences erected ?
How many of these are occupied?
How many are in course of erection?
What is the total rental as fixed by the commission for the completed residences unoccupied ?
How many of these have been allotted?
What is the rental as fixed by the commission for the residences allotted and unoccupied ?
How many residences have been erected by private enterprise?
What is the total - (a) number, (b) area, (c) rental, of the (a) pastoral,(b) farming, (c) other areas leased by the commission ?
What is the area of - (a) the Capital site, (b) Federal Capital Territory not leased ?
The following information has now been received from the Federal Capital Commission : -
£10,813 per annum.
£3,291 per annum.
Pastoral and farming and other areas leased by the commission -
Number 360 447 city blocks,
Area 186,000 acres £13,549
Rental £39,900 12. (a) 50,960 acres; (b) 339,040 acres exclusive of unlcased lands within city area.
Yesterday Senator Needham asked the following questions: -
Will the Prime Minister now take into consideration the request contained in my letter to him, dated 6th April last, that swimming baths be erected at Canberra?
In view of the fact that summer is rapidly approaching, will the Minister, if he favorably considers the matter, see that the work is put in hand immediately, in order that the baths may be completed this year?
I desire now to state that this matter has been taken up with the Federal Capital Commission, which has advised my colleague, the Minister for Home and Territories, as follow: -
That it is quite in sympathy with the proposal, which it already had in mind as a future work.
That the provision of swimming baths has had to be deferred in view of the necessity for the design and construction of many other urgent works. The commission regrets that it will not be able to complete the baths in time for the summer months, but will put the work in hand as soon as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Statement Made by High Commissioner.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
Murray River Vineyards - Damage by Frosts.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Markets and Migration, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: - 1 and 2. No. The Commonwealth Oil Refinery transacts its business with the Commonwealth Bank, and has done so for a considerable time.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
Will the Minister furnish the Senate with a statement showing the different boards, commissions, tribunals, &c, brought into existence by the Commonwealth Government, and which were in operation during the year 1026-27, together with the annual cost of each board, &c. ?
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Will the Minister give the amounts of bounty paid by the Commonwealth to each industry in the Commonwealth for the year 1926-27 ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
Allocation of Commonwealth Grant
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained and will be supplied as soon as possible.
In committee (Consideration resumed from 5th October, vide page 207).
Clauses 2 to 4 agreed to.
– In discussing the proposed vote of £11,720, for the Parliament, I desire to direct the attention of honorable senators to the unsatisfactory nature of the answers I received to-day io certain questions submitted to the Minister representing the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) in this Chamber. Health is paramount to wealth, and, irrespective of opinions which may be expressed to the contrary, I contend that we cannot have a healthy and happy community unless we do all that is humanly possible to suppress the blow-fly pest which is - an absolute menace to the people of Australia. It has been said by the most eminent authorities that flies are more deadly that snakes. They come into existence in filth. I am astounded to find that in order to cheapen the houses erected in the Federal Capital city, which ought to set an example to all cities throughout Australia, the Federal Capital Commission is providing only the kitchen and. dining-rooms of the houses with flyproof door and window screens. Are the flies to be trained in such a way that they will seek to enter only the rooms which are so protected? Flies enter at every possible point of access. Expense is a secondary consideration when compared with health and comfort, and in my own home I have provided every door, window, chimney, and ventilator with fly-proof screens in an endeavour to prevent the spread of disease. I have not resided in Canberra long, but those who have been here for some time have told me that at certain periods of the year blow-flies are a severe menace. It m’ay be that now that a good deal of ploughing has been don,: there will he fewer opportunities for this pest to thrive. The cost of supplying flyproof wire is infinitesimal. Personally I like Canberra, and have always spoken favorably of it. I want the people who are to permanently reside here to be happy and comfortable, and to assist in doing this such a necessary convenience should be provided. The Government should issue instructions to the commission to provide this necessary protection to all buildings erected or in course of erection. The cost will be a mere bagatelle. If what I suggest is not done I shall appeal to the health authorities, and I feel sure that my appeal will not be in vain. In the interests of the health of the people in the Federal Capital Territory, steps should be taken immediately to provide fly-proof screens for the doors and windows of all dwelling-houses. Some people may be indifferent to the menace of mosquitoes and flies. I am not. I believe in health laws and hygienic conditions generally for the people. I declare war on all pests. I speak strongly on this subject because I feel strongly about it, and I hope it will not be necessary to raise my voice again in respect to this important matter.
[3.27]. - I remind the honorable senator senator should discuss this matter under the division dealing with the Department of Health. At present there is no ordinance in the Federal Capital Territory and no law in any State of the Commonwealth making it compulsory for persons to affix fly-proof gauze to the windows or doors of dwellings. In my reply to the honorable senator this afternoon, I stated that instructions would be issued for the provision of fly-wire screens to bedrooms and chimneys where after experience of the summer months in Canberra, a public servant decided that it was necessary to have such screens fitted.
– That is altogether too ambiguous.
– It is a question for the public servant himself to decide.
– Fly-proof doors and windows should be provided for all dwellings irrespective of whether the occupiers ask for them or not.
– I wish to direct attention to an anomaly with regard to the classification of certain officers by the Public Service Board. It is the custom of the board to place officers in the smaller States in a lower classification with a lower salary than in the larger States, notwithstanding that they and officers filling them may be carrying out the same duties. I refer particularly to heads of departments and citeas an illustration the Deputy Director of Posts and Telegraphs in Hobart and the Sub-Collector of Customs in the same city. Their classification and salary are lower than the classification and salary of officers performing the same duties in Western Australia, and the latter, so I understand, are classified lower than similar officers in Victoria. I see no good reason for this differentiation because the responsibility resting upon officers in the smaller States, is just as great, and it is possible that their duties are more onerous. This grievance has been felt by heads of departments in the smaller States for a long time and I should like to see it removed.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Defence) [3.27]. - I remind the honorable senator that the Public Service Board, before making a classification of offices, conducts careful enquiries, and therefore, must have full knowledge of the value to be placed upon the various positions in * the Public Service. Parliament deliberately placed the Public Service under the control of the board in order to deal fairly with all officers in the Service.
– I desire to direct the attention of the Minister of Defence (Senator Glasgow) to a matter of vital importance to a number of miners recently working in the Protheroe lead mine, Northampton, Western Australia. I have received the following letter from Mr. L. J. Triat, the organizer of the Australian Workers’ Union at Meekatharra : -
The mine was loaned a sum of money by the Commonwealth Bank and the bank closed on the assets of the company with the result that the employees did not receive the wages due to them as the company had not cash enough to meet wages due, or at least we are given to understand such was the case. We findthat the property, being freehold, we cannot come under the Mining Act which entitles wages to come first and as no attempt is made to pay these wages which are due since May, our only hope is to have the matter placed in the hands of our Federal members. The total amount of wages due to the men employed, is £943 2s. 9d. wages, and £97 10s. salaries,’ making a total of £1S40 12s. 9d. We are in hopes that, if the facts are placed before the Federal members, they will see how unjust it is to take from the men the bread and butter that this money represents. I will be pleased to forward the time sheets, giving details of pay, should you desire same.
On receipt of this letter I immediately got in touch with the Federal Treasurer, and after a considerable volume of correspondence had passed between me and the Cornwealth Bank, I received certain replies, one of which was from Senator Pearce and read as follows -
I desire to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 27th September, enclosing communication received by you from Mr. Triat, Organizer of the Australian Workers Union, Meekatharra, Western Australia, in regard to matters connected with the Protheroe Lead “Mine, Northampton. Enquiries are being made of the Commonwealth Bank, and a further communication will be addressed to you.
The matter was referred to the Treasury and the Treasurer replied, stating, inter alia -
The security held by the bank will not be sufficient to pay its debt; the bank has instituted criminal proceedings against the manager of the Fremantle Trading Company Limited, and that case is sub judice - it is therefore not desirable to make further com ment upon it. For your information I am enclosing copy of the correspondence which YO. forwarded to me in connexion with this case.
The manager of the Fremantle Trading Company Limited was convicted of the offence with which he was charged. Subsequently I again communicated with the Treasurer, repeating the contention that the men should be paid the wages which were legitimately due to them. 1 then held, and I still hold, the view that the Commonwealth Bank should make payment; because, when the judge delivered his judgment in the charge against the manager of the Fremantle Trading Company Limited, he said that the Commonwealth Bank would not lose the £20,000 that it had loaned to the company. Despite that intimation, Dr. Page replied on the 15th of December, 1926, as follows: -
With reference to your further representations concerning the position of the miners at the Protheroe Lead Mine, Northampton, I have now been advised by the Deputy Governor of the Commonwealth Bank that the statement that the bank had sintered no financial loss in its business with the Fremantle Trading Company Limited, is erroneous. The bank will suffer a loss to the extent of soma thousands of pounds. The Deputy Governor adds that in the circumstances the bank will have no funds out of which the wages of miners could be paid.
– Is the honorable sentor aware that we on this side cannot hear a word of what he is saving ?
– I can assure the honorable senator that the fault is not mine. I am speaking more loudly than is customary with me on a public platform. If it is so difficult to hear in this chamber we should adjourn until the. acoustic properties have been improved. I have in my hand a long list of the names of the men to whom salaries and wages are owing, and the amounts that are due to them. According to the strict letter of the law, the attitude which has been adopted by the Commonwealth Bank and the Treasurer may be unassailable; but it is not right that these men should be deprived of their wages, particularly as the bank is in a position to pay them as an act of grace. Under the laws of the State of Western Australia, the men would have redress, but under Commonwealth law they have none. With all due deference, I submit the matter to the Minister who represents the Treasurer in this chamber with the request that it be re-opened with a view to justice being done to the men concerned.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland) - Minister for Defence) [3.34].- I shall bring before the Treasurer the matter raised by the honorable senator, together with his remarks thereon.
.- The proposed vote for the Home and Territories Department furnishes me with an opportunity to refer to a promise that was made by the Leader of the Government in the Senate in reply to questions that I asked regarding the development of the Federal Capital Territory. The answers I regarded as entirely unsatisfactory, particularly in their relation to sales of leases that were made in the Territory in April last. I was informed that 20 leases were then offered for sale, the upset prices ranging from £1,000 to £3,000 in the Civic Centre, and being lower in other centres. Each of those 20 leases was sold, that on- which an upset price of £3,000 had been placed realising £5,100. The lowest upset price in the Civic Centre was £1,000, and the realization was £2,200.
– What is the area of the blocks?
– They have a 20- ft. frontage with a depth of approximately 108 feet. It must be realized that the sum offered has not to be paid, but that it is adopted as a basis for computing the rental to be charged. The block for which £5,100 was accepted will carry an annual rental of £255. It has been stated that the upset prices placed on the allotments at the 1926 sales were arrived at by expert valuators after a consideration of the prices realized at previous sales. Notwithstanding that fact, those upset prices were practically doubled at the sale. It has actually been contended that the results of the April sale indicated that the blocks then offered amply fulfilled the existing demand. If that is so, why did people pay double the upset prices? It is apparent that the offerings were not in any way commensurate with the demand, and if a greater number of blocks had been available, the upset prices would not have been exceeded. It is obvious that the Federal Capital Commission is adopting a forcing policy just as would a private land-holder who held a monopoly. As a friend of the Territory, I suggest that the Government should obtain the services of outside experts to advise it as to the proper policy to pursue. It is obvious that the Minister accepts without question whatever is placed before him by the commission. One block for a motor service station at Eastlake was offered, the upset price being £2,000. Because of the keen competition for the block the price realized’ at auction was £11,300.
– What is the b’ize of the block?
– I do not know exactly; it is a little larger than the shopping sites at Civic Centre. I do not know how the lessees will be able to pay an annual rental of £568 for that block unless they charge their customers enormous prices. It must be remembered that that amount paid was for the land without buildings. The excessive price realized was due to- only one site in the city being made available for the purpose of a motor service station.
– There are other sites in the Territory on which garages may be erected.
– At Ainslie there is a motor garage site, but it Avas already occupied at the time of the sale. Intending bidders were given to understand that no further sites for motor service stations would be made available, and thus to obtain the block the present lessees were compelled to pay a price far in excess of the upset.
– Has any building been erected on the block ?
– So far as I know, no building has yet been erected on it.
– A structure of some kind has been erected there.
– Is the block near the railway station ?
– It is not far from the present railway terminus at Eastlake ; but it should be remembered that eventually the railway station will be situated near the Civic Centre. The only inference that can be drawn from the high prices realized at the sale is that the number of sites offered was not sufficiently large.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Defence) [3.44]. - I shall see the Minister for Home and Territories personally, and acquaint him with the position as set out by Senator Elliott.
.- I support the remarks made by Senator Elliott, as to the insufficient number of business sites made available in the Federal Capital Territory, in consequence of which excessive prices are forced from lessees. Transport facilities in the Territory are far from satisfactory, and if competition is not to be allowed-
– There is more than one motor garage in the Territory.
– Even so, I do not know how lessees who are required to pay rental on such high values can expect to get a return for their money. This question does not affect honorable senators personally ; but it does affect the residents of Canberra. I do not know how any business in this city can afford to pay a rental of £500 per annum for the land it occupies.
– Could not the lessees construct offices over the garage and let them to tenants?
– They cannot build anything except a motor service station on the block.
– This undue inflation of prices at Canberra will affect the residents. The upset prices at the next auction will no doubt be based on those realized at the last sale; and thus further fictitious values will be realized. Like Senator Elliott, I claim to be a friend of Canberra. For that reason I do not agree with land values being raised fictitiously, thus increasing the difficulties of the residents of the city. With such high rentals, business firms in Canberra will he unable to compete with firms in Sydney and Melbourne. I endorse Senator Elliott’s suggestion that outside experts should be obtained to value the land. The success of Canberra depends to a great extent on the prices realized for land, and, therefore, I hope that the Minister will give this matter lis careful attention.
– Is not the price forced up because of the competition?
– It is forced up because the number of blocks made available is not sufficient to meet the demand. The result will be that the people of Canberra will be required to pay high prices for the commodities they require. Laud values in Canberra are extraordinarily high when compared with values in the other cities of the Commonwealth. Not long ago the freehold of a. large and valuable piece of land, almost in the centre of Brisbane, was sold for £2,500, whereas to obtain a lease of a motor service station site in this city with but a small population, the lessee was compelled to pay £11,300. I want to see Canberra progress. I am not here to complain about flies and lack of wire doors; but I think that the values of the city land ought to be fixed in a proper way, so that when people come here they will get a return for their investments. With the rentals they are called upon to pay, it seems to me that the Canberra shopkeepers cannot get a fair return on the stock they have to keep. I am afraid that they will get into trouble financially, with the result that a bad impression will be created about Canberra. I hope that the question will be satisfactorily dealt with, because it is of the utmost importance to the future development of the Federal Capital.
– If we permit an extraordinary boom in land values in this city, allowing land to be sold at 300 or 400 per cent, higher than the upset price, the extra charge will have to be borne by the general public. As a State Government auctioneer I have sold Crown lands in Victoria for many years past. The system in that State is to fix the upset price and give ^ applicants a chance to buy privately at a price 10 per cent, in excess of the upset price. That method does away with speculation and prevents booming of land values. I suggest that in Canberra a certain number of blocks should be allotted in certain positions for particular trade areas, and sold one at a time. Where there are several people competing for certain blocks, they should be given the option of acquiring them at the upset price. There need be no fear of the Commonwealth sustaining a loss. No one knows better than the officers of the commission the value of the land in the Territory, and it is they who fix the upset price. For my part I think it is wise to stop the land boom in Canberra as soon as possible.
– A little while ago I brought under the notice of the Minister for Defence the case of Trainee Foley, who lost pay through going on parade on the occasion of the visit of the Duke and Duchess of York to Perth. On that occasion an order was sent out for the cadets to parade, and it was so worded that it was construed as a call to a compulsory parade. When, however, the cadets claimed pay for the time they had Jost from their employment, the military authorities in Perth said that it was not a compulsory parade, and refused their claim. The matter was taken up by the United Furniture Trades Industrial Union of Perth, and the Defence Department was sued for a breach of the United Furniture Trades Award. The award covering this industry shows that an apprentice shall receive pay for all time lost through attending compulsory military training except training imposed through failure to attend compulsory parade. An officer of the Defence Force who went into the witness box said -
At the time that order was written, it was fully anticipated that we would have a public holiday, and generally, when we call a voluntary parade for a public holiday, we get few attendants. It was incumbent on us at the time to get sufficient men to form a guard of honour, and the order was worded, as near as possible, in such a way as to make it a compulsory parade, without calling it a compulsory parade….. A man who absents himself from a compulsory parade is liable to prosecution.
I brought the matter before the Minister in connection with Trainee Foley, and the Minister agreed to pay the difference between his military pay and the wages he had lost. But there are other trainees similarly situated. I- ask the Minister now, seeing that he has made payment to one trainee who attended that parade, to extend the same consideration to others who are similarly situated.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Defence) [3.59]. - I remember this case which Senator Needham submitted to me. The order for the parade was worded in such a way that it might be construed as a call for a compulsory parade. I saw at once that the officer responsible for it had made a mistake, as the result of which this trainee had suffered. If others were similarly situated they will certainly be treated as was the trainee whose case was brought under my notice.
– I understand that about two years ago the Public Accounts Committee recommended that something should bc done by the Commonwealth Government to help to develop the large deposits of shale at Newnes, in New South Wales. It is very necessary for us to have as much petrol as possible.
– We cannot hear the honorable senator.
– Something should be done to improve the acoustic properties of the Chamber. Honorable members, whom one could hear quite plainly in the old Senate Chamber in Melbourne, hears now with the greatest difficulty. I shall be glad to know if the Minister for Defence has any report on the possibility of developing the shale oil deposits at Newnes.
I should also like to know whether the seaplane carrier now in course of construction -at Cockatoo Island will be delivered within the contract time.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Defence [4.3]. - I understand that the Public
Accounts Committee inquired generally into the possibilities of oil production in the Commonwealth, and in the course of its report suggested the advisability of research into methods of distilling oil from shale deposits. I think that it also recommended that these deposits should be reserved for defence purposes. Officers of the Defence Department are now investigating the oil supplies of the Commonwealth with a’ view to making supplies of oil available in time of war, and in the course of their investigations they will undoubtedly take cognizance of the shale oil deposits of the Commonwealth and the report of the Public Accounts Committee upon them.
The last information I received concerning the seaplane carrier being con1structed at the Cockatoo Island dockyard was to the effect that it was hoped to launch it in November of next year. That is a little beyond the contract time.
– The most important recommendation of the Public Accounts Committee was that oil shale deposits in Australia should, if possible, be treated as they are in America. Even at the present high prices charged for American and foreign petrol, shale oil cannot be extracted at a price which will enable it to compete successfully with flow oil. For the future safety of Australia it is therefore deemed essential that no such competition should be entered into; but that the oil shale deposits in Australia should be conserved for use in times of emergency, as is being done in America. That country, which is wonderfully rich in petroleum products, possesses millions of pounds’ worth of flow oil, and has also large tracts of country carrying deposits of oil shale which are jealously conserved by the American Government in case the supply of flow oil should become exhausted.
– Petroleum is much . cheaper in America than in Australia.
– Yes, the extraction of oil from shale, and the” production and carriage of flow oil are also cheaper in that country, but the American authorities have found it necessary to pursue the policy I have mentioned. If that is the case, it is of greater urgency that Australia, which up to the present has not any flow oil, should conserve its oil shale deposits against emergencies which may arise, and when supplies of flow oil may be cut off. I sincerely trust that the committee mentioned by the Minister may he influenced to some little degree by the recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee.
– I endorse all that has been said by Senator Kingsmill. As a member of the Accounts Committee at the time the investigation was conducted, I may say that the committee went very carefully into the whole question of oil shale deposits in Australia. We ascertained that unless the shale deposits at Newnes were preserved and the plant protected much of the work already done would be valueless. The timbers in the workings were collapsing, and if operations were to re-commence in the event of an emergency, a good deal of preliminary work would have to be undertaken. Realizing the seriousness of the situation, the committee recommended that the Government should, as soon as possible, endeavour to obtain control of the shale, but not necessarily with the intention of working the deposits to full capacity. A number of expert witnesses gave valuable information to the committee concerning what is being done in America. As mentioned by Senator Kingsmill, the American authorities have already taken steps to preserve the shale deposits in that country, although, we understand, there is practically an unlimited supply of flow oil available. Competent authorities stated in evidence before the committee that at that time there was no indication of any diminution in the supply of flow oil. The American authorities evidently think it essential to place the large deposits of shale under government control, so that they mav be available for future use. Up to the present flow oil is not available in Australia, but there are some very valuable deposits of oil shale. In these circumstances it is necessary to obtain control so that if necessary oil may be extracted with the least possible delay. I assi.ro honorable senators that the members of the committee were much impressed by the large oil shale deposits in the different States, which should be placed under the control of the Government, so that supplies of oil shale may be available should they be needed.
Senator COX (New South Wales> [4.12].- When in the Wolgan Valley a-, few weeks ago, I was sorry to find that a. considerable amount of damage had been, done to the plant at the Newnes shale deposits. A good deal of machinery costing thousands of pounds, has already been removed.
– And the company has lost £1,000,000.
– And for four years the company has been “black.”
– Yes, and it is “ black “ to-day. Everything easily removable has been taken away, and locomotives used for hauling goods over 30 miles of railway through the mountains, are lying in the open. The houses of workmen have been demolished. Whilst I was there I saw one being hauled up the mountain side by a team of horses. As such a lot of valuable work has been done, it seems a pity that the works should be deserted.
– The treatment of oil shale is a rather important subject. I read very carefully the recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee, and I believe that if the Government should’ attempt to do anything of the nature recommended by the committee it will be confronted with a very large order. Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been spent in New South Wales and Tasmania. There are two companies operating in the latter State, one of which is this month giving a demonstration of its process of extracting the oil. I remind the Minister and honorable senators that the correct commercial process for the extraction of oil from shale has not yet been discovered.
– It is different on every field.
– Neither in New South Wales nor in Tasmania has the most suitable commercial process been discovered. Another difficulty is that the land belongs to the State. No doubt the Commonwealth could resume it in a time of crisis; but it cannot reserve these areas without compensating the companies for the large amount of money which they have spent. The Government should assist those who are endeavouring to discover a successful process, even if in the future the oil may be required for defence and other purposes. The oil shale is practically useless until a proper commercial process is discovered. What will be the use of conserving such supplies if in a few years a superior motor spirit is discovered? It is unwise to recommend conserving supplies for future use. The position is quite different in America, where motor spirit can be bought for ls. to ls. Id. a gallon, whereas it is approximately 2s. a gallon in, say, Melbourne and Sydney. It is an easy matter for America to conserve her* supplies of oil shale. The Bronder process is being tried out iri Tasmania, and it is hoped that it will be a success. Experiments are being made with another process, at Southern Cross, and those associated with the undertaking say that the product will be able to successfully compete with motor spirit now in use.
– I think I am correct in saying that a good deal more than a million pounds has been lost by the Commonwealth Oil -Corporation in the Wolgan Valley, because up to the present it has not devised any scheme of successfully extracting oil from shale. This is the trouble in Tasmania.
– Why have the works been declared “black?”
– I am not aware that the Commonwealth Oil Corporation has been declared black. One outstanding fact is that although the Common- wealth Government offered the company a subsidy of so much per gallon, it has failed to discover a satisfactory method of extracting oil from shale.
– It cannot extract it « on a commercial basis.
– No. It is not a question of keeping the shale out of use. The trouble is the inability, up to the present, to devise any satisfactory scheme for the extraction of oil from the Wolgan deposits. We cannot possibly hope to compete, for the time being, with the oil producing companies in the United States of America. I understand that the shale in the Wolgan valley is exceedingly rich in oil, but so far no process has been devised for its extraction on a commercial basis.
.- The Minister for Defence (Senator Glasgow) said, so I understand that a committee of officers of the Defence Department had been appointed to investigate the problem referred to by Senator Grant.
– The object of the committee is to inquire into oil supplies generally and to take cognisance of the probable resources of the Commonwealth.
– I know of another shale oil deposit between Brisbane and Ipswich to which I should like to direct the attention of the Minister. Some of the people who are interested in it have made representations to the federal members with the object of securing assistance from the Government to carry on the work there. A considerable sum of money has already been expended and the prospects, I believe, are really goo ^ ; but unfortunately the company has not sufficient funds to continue operations. Apparently Senator Ogden is opposed to the Government becoming actively associated with these undertakings. He believes that more good will be done by financial assistance being given to the companies operating these deposits. There may be something in his argument. Up to the present all the numerous attempts to extract oil from the shale oil deposits in the different States have not been entirely satisfactory from a commercial point of view. I trust, however, that the Government will see its way to help the company I have mentioned.
.- I have a personal knowledge of the Wolgan Valley shale oil deposits and I know that, if the Government could be prevailed upon to grant financial assistance, a number of private citizens would be prepared to invest £100,000 in a company for the exploitation of the shale. I doubt, however, if that amount of capital would be sufficient.
– Are they still experimenting.
– No. At present there are only about twenty people there, and the position generally is most unsatisfactory.
– They are all “ broke.”
– I do not know that that is so.
– Why was so much machinery put in before the deposit was properly tested?
– The company worked the shale for several years. There is no doubt about the quality of the Wolgan Valley and the Capertee shale deposits. They are of enormous extent and are exceedingly rich in oil contents, but unfortunately, up to the present, it has not been possible to work them economically.
– What is the use of assisting concerns that cannot be worked economically ?
– I understand that distillation is the chief problem. ‘
– I am informed that but for the working conditions, the company could get all the oil it wanted from the shale; but as things are, the cost is prohibitive.
– Another subject which I desire to bring under the notice of the Minister for Defence (Senator Glasgow) is the decision of the High Court in October last in the action brought by the Defence Department against the English Electric Company of Australia, Limited, Sydney. It appears that some time ago a young apprentice, who, under the compulsory training conditions of the Defence Act, had to attend training camps, was penalized by his employers, who required him at the end of his apprenticeship term to serve an additional period to cover the number of days during which he was absent from his employment on military duties. The Defence Department brought an action against the firm for a breach of the Defence Act, and the magistrate imposed a fine of £10. The Supreme Court of New South Wales, to which the firm appealed, quashed the conviction, and the High Court, on appeal, on the casting vote of the Chief Justice, decided in favour of the firm. In view of the decision of the High Court, the Senate is entitled to know if it is the intention of the Government, to amend the Defence Act so as to protect other apprentices from being penalized in the same .manner. Theseyoung men are being trained to equip, themselves for the defence of Australia.. If, unfortunately, war broke out, they would be assisting to defend the property of some employers who might have penalized them during their apprenticeship. Certainly it was not the intention of Parliament, when the Defence Act was passed, to allow any trainee to be penalized in this way. I am sure that, as a whole, the employers of Australia will not take advantage of the High Court decision, which has disclosed a weakness in the law. The case put up by the company was that the trainee was absent from his employment without leave. I ask honorable senators to consider the position of apprentices, and, indeed, all young men in employment. They are obliged under the law to attend military training camps for a certain period each year. If they fail to do so they may be proceeded against and fined. If, on the other hand, they obey the law, they are liable to be penalized by their employers, who may require them to serve an extra period at the close of their apprenticeship. This state of affairs cannot be tolerated. The sooner the Defence Act is amended the better.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland) [4.31]. - I have no personal knowledge of the case mentioned by Senator Needham. I think the incident occurred before I took over the department.
– It occurred in October, 1926.
-When the next amendment of the act is being considered, I will see that the anomaly referred to by the honorable senator is considered.
.- £ should like to direct the attention of the Minister for Defence to the system oi territorial training in Great Britain, with a view to its introduction in Australia. We have it to a limited extent in connexion with our Light Horse, in which a considerable number of men are serving on a voluntary basis. In Great Britain the Territorials are regarded as volunteers, and they receive what is termed “.efficiency pay,” that is to say, pay based upon their degree of efficiency as the result of each year’s training. Under our present system the training received by the rank and file is not sufficient to equip them properly for actual war service. In point of fact, the purpose of the ordinary rank and file of the Australian army is to provide the material for the training of officers and non-commissioned officers. Obviously, officers could not become efficient unless they had a sufficient number of men to work under them. Under the old military system a great many men regarded their regiment as a sort of club. I feel sure that if the British Territorial system could be tried in the Australian infantry, as it is being worked in the Light Horse, and if an appeal were made to ex-service men to join their corresponding units on a voluntary basis, there would be a great response on the part of the citizens of Australia. For a period following the termination of the war everybody was heartily sick of war aud the training necessary to prepare for it. That feeling is now dying away to a marked degree and a great deal of valuable training is being carried on voluntarily in rifle clubs. It is gratifying to witness the enthusiasm displayed by young men at Williamstown on the first Saturday in each month. Much might be accomplished if the act were amended so as to permit those who have completed their training to continue to serve in the ranks. In a report on the British territorial forces considerable stress is laid on the fact that the men are no longer paid in the ordinary way, they are given what is called “ efficiency pay,” which does not amount to very much. The voluntary system exists to a large extent in our light horse unit, and very fine results accrue from it. The compulsory training system should be continued so that we would be in a state of preparedness in an emergency; but a big effort should be made also to induce voluntary enlistment. At each annual camp there would not then be so much of the tiresome elementary squad drill; the men would be able to devote themselves to advanced technical training. Voluntary enlistment as a non-commissioned officer is now permitted, but many men have neither the time nor the inclination to study for appointment as noncommissioned or commissioned officers. It might be possible to hold a conference of the men with a view to ascertaining what there is in the system that attracts and what discourages them. A systematic investigation of the position ought to lead to a solution of the difficulty. Under existing conditions only recruits are handled. I should like to see the force placed in the position of being able to engage in advanced training which would give a greater return for the money expended.
– (Queensland - Minister for Defence) [4.40]. - I have a certain degree of sympathy with the view of the honorable senator. I point out, however, that the position which exists in the light horse pertains also to the -infantry in relation to non-commissioned officers. It is competent under the act for a man to enlist voluntarily as a non-commissioned officer in the infantry. As everybody undergoes compulsory training, probably few would be available for voluntary enlistment in the ranks of the infantry. The system sets out to train a nucleus of officers, and non-commissioned officers, as well as the rank and file in elementary work. I do not know that we could adopt the territorial force system, and it would not be wise to revert to the old voluntary system. Although under that system wo had a. very efficient force and enthusiastic officers and non-commissioned officers, the number trained was very limited and no reserve was formed. When I as a commanding officer secured a good officer or non-commissioned officer I did my best to retain his services. We had a very large number of men with long service but did not train any reserves, and in the event of trouble arising it would have been impossible to expand our force. Although we do not now have the same enthusiasm and keenness amongst officers and non-commissioned officers I believe it will be generally admitted that we train a larger number of men and form them into a reserve force. I sympathize with those officers who are devoting their time to training the youth of the country, but are unable to make any advance in higher forms of training. They could overcome that to a degree by evolving tactical schemes in their schools even though such a method might not be as interesting as would he the case if they had units to handle. I do not believe it is possible to induce the older men to enlist in the ranks.
– Such a system was given a trial with returned soldiers some years ago.
– Only in the direction of inducing them to enlist as non-commissioned officers or accept commissions. That position still obtains; after a man has served compulsorily for three years, he can continue to serve voluntarily as a non-commissioned officer.
– A number of men would serve as privates if they were given the opportunity to do so.
– I am not as optimistic as the honorable senator on that point.
– Quite a number : serve in the Light Horse.
– That is so. That unit, however, is drawn from country districts, where the conditions are totally different from those which obtain in the cities. The man who lives in the country has not a very wide scope for amusement, and he joins the Light Horse to obtain recreation. The boy who lives in the city has a far greater number of opportunities for filling in his time, and docs not need to join a unit to obtain recreation.
– The voluntary system is in operation in Great Britain.
– It applies more particularly to the yeomanry units.
– There are territorial units.
– There is no compulsory training in England.
– They have a regular army.
– Exactly. In Australia every physically fit youth is compelled to undergo a course of training. I question very much whether we would succeed in inducing them, to remain voluntarily in the ranks when they had completed their three years’ service. I shall, however, have an investigation made to see if voluntary enlistment can be extended to’ include men who have completed their compulsory training, and are prepared to continue in the ranks.
– I should like to be furnished with information relating to civil aviation. Has the service been extended from Derby to Wyndham in Western Australia; also, what steps are being taken to extend it from. Camooweal to Brunette Downs in the Northern Territory, as well as from Charleville to Toowoomba and thence to Brisbane, thus completing a chain of stations that would encircle the .continent. The Government should grant every assistance that lies within its power to enable the service to be extended from Wyndham to Darwin, and from that place to Brunette Downs. If we had a network of stations, we should be in a position to take full advantage of any improvement in the service from England to Australia.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Defence) [4.49.]- The sum of £200,000 is to be made available out .of last year’s surplus for the extension of civil aviation. The first service to be put in operation will be that from Adelaide to Perth. It will bring Western Australia into closer communication with the eastern States, and will reduce by one week the time that is now occupied in the transport of mails between England and Australia and vice versa.
– Will they carry mails?
– It will be primarily a service to reduce the time of mails between the Old Country and Australia; but only mail matter, carrying a surcharge of 3d. per half-ounce, will be carried. It is also proposed to extend the service from Camooweal, on the border of North Australia and Queensland, to a point near Daly Waters, on a line running south from Darwin. That service will be of great benefit to residents in those remote parts of the country, and will reduce from two months to a fortnight the time occupied in the conveyance of mails from the eastern States to North Australia and return. Another service which will connect the Queensland system with the capital - a very important consideration - will run from Charleville to Brisbane. It is also proposed to institute a seaplane service between Brisbane and Sydney. A further service will be instituted between Sydney and Melbourne, via Canberra ; while yet another will connect Melbourne and Hobart. For the service across Bass Strait it is proposed to use the Southampton flying boats, which are expected to arrive in Australia towards the end of the present year. That service will, at first, be largely experimental. A further extension of the Western Australian airway services to connect Derby with Wyndham is also contemplated. I point out that it will take some time to establish these services, chiefly because the whole of the ground organization, such as the provision of aerodromes and permanent as well as temporary landing places, has yet to be prepared.
– Will the experimental service to Tasmania be carried out by the Air Force?
– It is proposed to use the new flying boats in the service to Tasmania; but, seeing that there are not as yet many seaplane services operating in the world, it will be necessary to carry out a certain amount of reconnaissance and experimental work before we can establish that service.
– Will the machines have triple engines?
– They will be dual-engined machines. Honorable senators will recognize that during the winter months Bass Strait will be difficult to navigate, because of fogs. It will take some time to get these services established on the same reliable and punctual basis as the existing services; but the Government is keenly desirious of utlizing this new and efficient means of transport to bring the outback portions of the Commonwealth into closer touch with the more settled districts, and to expedite communications generally. The service between Perth and Adelaide will be a very important link in the chain between Britain and Australia, seeing that it will reduce by one week the time in which replies to letters may be obtained. If a reasonable percentage of first-class mail matter be sent by the new service, it should not be long before it is almost self-supporting. So soon as the ground organization has been completed, tenders for these services will be invited. Care will be taken to give intending tenderers sufficient time to prepare their estimates, and also to ensure that the successful tenderers can be relied upon to carry out their contracts.
– Will the same apply to the service to Tasmania?
.- In common with other honorable senators representing Queensland, I have, during the last few weeks, received considerable correspondence from various rifle clubs in Queensland, which desire to know what provision will be made for them for the current financial year. Last year £40,000 was expended in connexion with rifle clubs throughout the Commonwealth, whereas this year a sum of about £2,000 less is to be provided. Senator Elliott pointed out that to a great extent the compulsory military training system is valueless, because the trainees, having completed the statutory period of three years’ service, receive no further training, unless they join rifle clubs. I know that the Minister for Defence recognizes the value of rifle clubs as a second line of defence. Both in Australia and in Great Britain they provided a substantial line of defence in the Great War, as well as a considerable number of expert marksmen. I should like to know how these rifle clubs are to be treated during the present financial year
.- Before I left Brisbane for Canberra several members of rifle clubs approached me regarding the provision to be made for rifle clubs for the current financial year. These men spend a good deal of their time and money making themselves efficient marksmen, and, although in so doing they derive a good deal of pleasure, it must be recognized that they are also establishinga valuable second line of defence. For some reason, the Government has decided this year to reduce the vote for rifle clubs. I trust, however, that they will be treated as generously as possible.
– (Queensland - Minister for Defence) [5.1]. - The Government recognizes the importance of the rifle clubs throughout the Commonwealth, and has assisted them to the fullest possible extent. It is true that the vote this year is a little less than it was last year; but included in the expenditure for 1926- 27 was an item which will not recur. Thp amount made available this year for distribution among the rifle clubs is practically the same as that expended last year. The Government does not propose in any way to curtail the existing concessions granted to riflfle clubs, namely, 5s., or 2s. 6d. per annum for each efficient member, according to whether the club has its own range, or uses a military range. To be classed as efficient a member must fire a prescribed musketry course. In addition, ammunition to the extent of 100 rounds for each new member and 200 rounds for each efficient member is issued free, while additional ammunition is sold at the reduced rate of £2 10s. per one thousand rounds. Towards the construction of a new range a sum of £75 is granted, and such grants as may be deemed necessary, to a maximum of £75, are made to assist in altering, repairing, or enlarging ranges after construction.
.- At an earlier stage I referred to what I consider is a serious menace to the health, comfort and happiness of the people of Canberra. I felt that I was justified in bringing it forward under the heading “Parliament,” because Parliament created the Federal Capital Commission, and that what Parliamentcreates it can destroy. I have yet to learn that any commission or any other body constituted by parliament can flout the will of parliament.I donot say that the Federal Capital Commission is doing so in this case, but I am surprised to learn that is clothed with such powers that it can say, in effect, that the residents of the territory go thus far and no farther in regard to protecting their homes and guarding their health - that it can say that under certain conditions no fly-proof windows and doors will be permitted.
– Anyone can put up fly-proof windows or doors.
– At his own expense.
– Of course.
– I should like to know at whose expense fly-proof doors back and front and fly-proof kitchen and dining-room windows were provided in the brick area. I understand that the commission has placed these health protectors in the buildings in the brick area. Thereshould be no class distinctions in Canberra. Are the people of the brick area of more importance than those who live in the area where there are wooden buildings, and where I understand there are not fly-proof doors or windows? If the commission considers it right to put these health protectors on brick buildings, what reason does it advance for not treating in the same way those who live in the area to which I have just referred? I hope that the Government will urge the commission to make all tenements in the city area as nearly as possible fly and mosquito proof, especially when we are nearing the summer months, during which I arn informed, I think correctly, that blow-flies are a serious menace.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland, Minister for Defence) [5. 10]. - If people in the brick area have fly-proof doors and windows, they pay for them. If they are in rented houses, they pay extra rent, according to the cost of the buildings, inclusive of flyproof doors and windows. No distinction has been made in this respect between the brick area and the wood area.
– I should like to know whether any report has been received by the Government from the North Australia Commission in connexion with developmental railways in Northern Australia. I understand that some months ago the commission undertook to report upon the future requirements of that portion of the Commonwealth, and the people of Queensland are anxious to know the result of the commission’s investigations.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland, Minister for Defence) [5.12]. - To frame a report on communications in the Northern Territory, and after all, the great problem of the territory is communications, would occupy the North Australia Commission for a considerable time. The commissioners have a large area to cover, and I am not yet aware that any report has been received from them in connexion with their proposals for developmental railways.
.- I am gratified to learn that the Commonwealth railways are paying not only working expenses, but also something towards interest on capital cost. I congratulate the commissioner and his staff on having reached that position. I should like to know if the Government is pushing on with the extension of the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge line from Port Augusta to Red Hill, and if the South Australian Government has begun to lay the third rail from Red Hill to Adelaide. Honorable senators will recollect that the Commonwealth Government agreed with the South Australian Government to build a railway from Port Augusta to. Red Hill, and the South Australian Government agreed to lay a third rail from Red Hill to Adelaide. Under that arrangement, overseas passengers travelling by the EastWest railway will make their journey in greater comfort, and will not be obliged to change from the comfortable transcon tinental train into inconvenient trains between Port Augusta and Adelaide.
– Like Senator Reid, I am pleased to note in the latest report presented to Parliament by the Commonwealth Commissioner of Railways, the progress made by the East- West railway. The bill introduced in the Commonwealth Parliament t ‘o authorize a survey of a route to link up the east and the west, was most unpopular in Victoria. There was much opposition to it; a lot of pessimists thought that if the line were built it would prove to be an everlasting burden on the shoulders of the people of Australia. The line was designated by many uncomplimentary names. When, later on, a bill for the construction of the railway came before the Commonwealth Parliament, I supported it, as I had supported the Survey Bill. At that time some people, conscientiously, perhaps, believed that those members of Parliament who gave their support to either bill would be well within the danger zone when they met their masters, the electors, at a general election. I told those who were of that opinion that I should do what I conscientiously believed to be right, and that if I lost my seat in the Senate as a result of my votes, I should bow to the will of the majority. Time passed, and to-day there is no one who will declare that the East- West line has not justified its construction, and is not in the best interests of Australia. No one in his wildest moments would anticipate that such a railway would pay at the commencement. No one anxious for the progress of the Commonwealth would anticipate that a big proposition like this, built for the development of the Commonwealth, and the convenience of its people, and involving considerable expenditure, would pay immediately. The direct and indirect benefit derived from the railway cannot be calculated in pounds, shillings and pence. If we looked at every big proposition from a financial viewpoint little or no progress would be made in Australia. The east-west railway has now turned the corner. During the last financial year it paid working expenses and provided a sum to meet a portion of the interest on the capital outlay.
I am disappointed, however, with the slow progress made in bringing about a uniform gauge between the east and the west.
SenatorReid. - Victoria is opposed to the gauge recommended by the commission.
– That may be so; but I have always been in favour of a uniform gauge, which will have to be adopted sooner or later. There are, for instance, three breaks of gauge between Adelaide and Perth, namely at Terowie, Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie, and it is easy to imagine the inconvenience and cost to travellers. Incidentally I may refer to the break of gauge at Albury. To attend the sittings of Parliament last week, I left Melbourne on the Monday preceeding the Wednesday on which the present session opened. TheRoyal Agricultural Show had been in progress in Melbourne and there were a number of interstate travellers and Federal Parliamentarians on the train. The Albury station, which is not well lighted, was overcrowded, and I found that it was most difficult to make any progress along the platform owing to space taken up by the mail matter being transferred from one train to another, by passengers handling their own baggage, and by dogs being led along the platform. All this inconvenience could be avoided if the Commonwealth Government in co-operation with the States adopted a uniform gauge.
– The commission appointed by the Government has already recommended the adoption of the 4 ft. 8½ in. gauge.
– I know there is a feeling amongst certain people in Victoria that that is the best gauge, but in other directions a different opinion prevails. These breaks of gauge are a bad advertisement for Australia especially when oversease and interstate travellers, are, by reason of them, subjected to a great deal of inconvenience and cost. Now a commencement has been made with the work of linking Brisbane with Sydney by means of a 4 ft. 8½ in. gauge line. I trust the Government will undertake the necessary work of linking the east with the west in the same way. If that were done, it would not be long before the construction of a uniform gauge line between Melbourne and Sydney would be undertaken.
– I am anxious to know what progress is being made with the construction of the Kyogle to South Brisbane railway. I understand there has been some difficulty in commencing the construction of a bridge over the Clarence River. The New South Wales Government has been promising to commence this necessary work, but up to the present very little has been done. It is essential that the completion of the bridge should synchronize with the completion of the railway, and I trust that if the New South Wales Government has not yet made a start pressure will be brought upon it by the federal authorities, so that the opening of the line may not be unnecessarily delayed. I join with other honorable senators in expressing appreciation of the manner in which the Commonwealth railways, particularly the east-west line, are being conducted. The Commonwealth Railways Commissioner has indulged in some self-congratulation by quoting the opinion of world-wide travellers I can, from personal experience, endorse all that he has said. On a journey to Perth I happened to be in company with an American globe-trotter, and incidentally remarked that the eastwest line provided the best service of any railway in Australia. He replied, “I have travelled the world, and know of nothing better anywhere.” That is sufficient to show that, in the opinion of that gentleman, at least, the remarks of the commissioner are fully justified.
– A bill will be introduced this session to provide for the construction of a 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge line from Port Augusta to Red Hill. In reply to the point raised by Senator Thompson, I may say that it is expected that the construction of the railway between Kyogle and South Brisbane will be completed within the next eighteen months.
– What is being done in connexion with the bridge over the river Clarence?
– I cannot state definitely; but I understand that the work will be commenced very shortly.
– I endorse all that has been said by Senator Findley concerning the excellent service provided by the eastwest railway. Many who scoffed at the proposal to construct the line now hold a- totally different opinion. I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Railways what is being done in connexion with the construction of the section of railway between Red Hill and Port Augusta? I believe the agreement provided that the work was to be completed by 1929.
– A bill -will be introduced this session providing for the construction of that line.
– Will the Minister consider the advisableness of installing wireless telegraphy on the trains on the east-west railway? During the time I have been travelling on that line I have heard nothing but approval of the comforts available, and the civility of the staff. A piano is provided in the lounge, and passengers have also the luxury of a shower-bath, which is unusual on trains. It should be an easy matter to provide a wireless set, with a loud speaker, so that passengers may be kept in touch with the world’s news. This matter, I believe, was brought under the notice of the Government by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green), who received a reply to the effect that it was impracticable to operate wireless on trains. That is not so. On one occasion when I was travelling between Perth and Kalgoorlie a passenger with a wireless set obtained good reception by fixing a broom handle on the footboard and running a wire as an aerial along the top of the carriage. The equipment was so effective that all the way to Northam passengers enjoyed a splendid programme, transmitted from Farmers’, in Perth. If that can be done with a primitive equipment, surely an effective wireless set could be provided, on the east-west trains.
– I shall bring the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham), concern ing the installation of wireless” on the east-west trains, under the notice of the Minister for. Works and Railways.
– In discussing the vote for the Postmaster-General’s Department, I ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral to see if the decision given by the Minister in relation to a mutilated telegram cannot be re-considered. The mutilated message caused not only considerable expense to the person to whom it was addressed, but also gave him a great shock. The message was despatched to a man named Thomas, at Lyall’s Mill, via Collie, and read - “Little girl discharged hospital returned home. Account No. 1,021 tickets other material forwarded McKenzie.” The message as received by Thomas read - “ Little girl just died hospit.il return home.” One can imagine the anguish of a father on receiving such a message. Thomas lost four days’ employment. It cost him approximately £17, I understand, for motor hire to reach the hospital, and all the time he was under the impression that his daughter was dead. This man put the matter before the secretary of his union, who got into touch with the DeputyDirector of Posts and Telegraphs in Perth, from whom he received the following letter under date 23rd May, 1927 :-
In reply to your inquiry regarding a telegram dated 4/5/27, to Lyall’s Mill. I beg to express regret for the mutilation which occurred in telephonic transmission from Collie during the progress of a thunderstorm, which rendered reception difficult. The circumstances and inconvenience occasioned are very, much regretted.
The secretary of the union then brought the matter under my notice, and I communicated with the Postmaster-General, who upheld the decision of the DeputyDirector of Posts and Telegraphs, and stated that there was no redress for Mr. Thomas. I realize that it ‘is almost impossible to conduct a vast telegraphic system, such as we have in Australia, without occasional mistakes, and that the service is an excellent one; but I venture to say that the case I have just mentioned should be reconsidered. Let any honorable senator put himself in the position of this man, working, as he was, some distance from his home, and knowing that his child was in a hospital. Let honorable senators imagine his feelings when he received a telegram to say that his child had just died; let them imagne, also, the mental agony which he must have suffered before he was able to reach the hospital, then to learn that his child was alive and well. The Postmaster-General was quite sympathetic in his reply to my representations, but I maintain that in such extraordinary circumstances the decision should be reviewed. Mr. Thomas should be compensated for the time lost from his work, and reimbursed the expenses which he had to incur in trying to reach the hospital as quickly as possible. I hope that the Honorary Minister will bring the matter under the notice of the Postmaster-General again, with a view to securing redress for Mr. Thomas.
– In reply to the honorable senator, I can only say that I shall bring his representations under the notice of the Postmaster-General.
– I direct attention to the items : administration staff, salaries, £17,500, and Administrative staff, contingencies, £10,250, under the heading, “ North Australia and Central Australia.” I should like to know if the Minister has any information as to what the North Australia Commission is doing, and if any recommendatons have been made by that body for the development of the Northern Territory.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Qupensland - Minister for Defence) [5.401- - The items mentioned by the honorable senator relate not to expenditure incurred by the North Australia Commission, but to the ordinary administrative costs of North Australia, and include such items as police, schools, medical, and other services. All expenses incurred by the North Australia Commission are met by special appropriation. As I intimated when replying to Senator Thompson a little while ago, I have no information as to the commission’s proposals. That body is confronted with a rather big task in travelling over the whole of the Territory. Owing to the wet season, its members were not able to start travelling until March of this year. It is anticipated that the commission will be in Canberra towards the end of the year, and will then furnish a report.
– Did I understand the Minister to say that the North Australia Commission was returning to Canberra towards the end of the year, and that until then the Government would not be in a position to announce its policy for the development of North and Central Australia?
– It is impossible for the commission to do any inspection work during the wet season, and during that period it will bo able to frame its proposals.
– It seems perfectly reasonable that the commission should do its inspection work during that period of the year when it is possible to travel through North Australia, and in the wet season, consult with the Government as to the general policy of development. I recognize that the commission has not had much time up to the present to determine what are the best lines of development to recommend; but I happen to know that certain work is being undertaken, with, I presume, the knowledge of the Cabinet. I refer to certain railway surveys, which I believe have -been undertaken at the instigation of the commission.
– That is so.
– I thought that the Minister might be in a position to inform the Senate for what pur-‘ pose the surveys are being undertaken, and when we are likely to have a report.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland, Minister for Defence) [5.45]. - The surveys referred to by the honorable senator are trial surveys, which are necessary before the commission can formulate any proposal. The commission deemed it advisable to have this work put in hand; but it does not necessarily follow that any railways, if constructed, will be along the route of the trial surveys. I knew that the work mentioned by Senator Greene was being undertaken, because the proposal came from the commission while I was Minister for Home and Territories, and arrangements were then made with the “Works and Railways Department to send out a survey party to make trial surveys.
– Is there any objection to stating what the surveys are?
– I am afraid I cannot tell the honorable senator at this stage, as we have not received a report from the commision.
– Under the heading “ Federal Capital Territory” I should like to direct the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories to the ‘bus service at present being conducted by the Federal Capital Commission. I am informed that some timeago tenders were called by the commission to enable the service to be carried out by private enterprise, and that the tenders were not considered satisfactory, with the result that the commission is still responsible for the service. Personally I believe in State or communityowned public activities, and I should be sorry to see private enterprise controlling the ‘bus service in the Federal Capital Territory. My complaint now is that the service is not frequent enough. Possibly the commission considers that an improved service is not justified by the returns; but from observations which I made a few days ago, I should say that unless better provision i3 made for the convenience of ‘the people living in Canberra, there will be risk of extreme danger to life some day. In all cities throughout Australia public conveyances are licensed to carry a certain number of passengers ; if those who run them permit overcrowding, they are liable to prosecution. At certain times of the day the buses plying for hire in Canberra are packed with people like sardines in a box. If anything happened to one of those vehicles when it was so overcrowded, many lives would be endangered. I should like to know whether it is the intention of the commission to provide a better service, or whether that body wishes to hand over the ‘buses to private enterprise. Meantime, the convenience of the residents should be considered. At present many of them have to wait long periods for ‘buses to convey them to their respec tive homes. The majority of public servants are employed at considerable distances from their homes. If for any reason they are obliged to walk, they are seriously inconvenienced, especially during such wet weather as was experienced last week. Men and women have to be at their place of employment at a certain hour each day, and at times it may not be convenient for them to walk. If the ‘bus is full when it comes along it is impossible for those people to reach their destination within the time desired. I hope that the Government will see that conveyances are provided for those who wish to use them and that they will not be so overcrowded as to constitute a danger to those who travel by them.
– (Queensland - Minister for Defence) [5.51]. - The ‘bus services in the Federal Capital Territory, with the exception of that to Queanbeyan, are run by the Federal Capital Commission. I am not acquainted with the intentions in regard to the future,- but I shall bring before the Minister the complaint that has been made by the honorable senator.
.- There is another matter that the Ministry would do well to consider. The government of the Federal Capital Territory is carried on under ordinances, into one of which an irritating provision has crept. If a person has business premises in the civic centre he can let the whole of them without reference to the commission, but if he should wish to sub-let a portion he must first obtain its consent. Considerable delay is thus caused, and a prospective tenant cannot be readily informed whether he may have the use of the portion he desires. The idea originally was that the shopkeeper would have his residence on the upper floor, and it was considered undesirable to allow him to take in lodgers, the benevolent intention being to obviate the creation of slum areas. I believe that the commission itself has found the provision unworkable and is anxious that it should be withdrawn.
– I shall have the attention of the Minister drawn to the matter.
– A complaint has reached me from servants of the adminis- tration in New Guinea. They have not the right of appeal in regard to salaries to either the Public Service Board or the Public Service Arbitrator. Their salaries have not been increased since the date of their appointment. A most glaring anomaly has occurred as the result of the appointment recently of a gold-fields warden - a junior officer with really no high professional qualifications. It was found necessary to appoint a Queensland man and the administration was obliged to offer him a high salary. He is receiving a salary greater than that which is. being paid to other officers who are his superiors. Neither in Victoria nor in New South Wales is a gold-fields warden or a magistrate in receipt of a salary greater than that which is paid to the head of the department. The salaries attaching to those positions in Australia have risen considerably since 1920, and they must be paid to any one who goes to New Guinea from Australia. Provision should be made whereby public servants in New Guinea would have access to either the Public Service Arbitrator or the Public Service Board.
SenatorReid. - We have nothing to do with them.
– We are responsible for the administration in New Guinea, and it is our duty to see that the officers there are given conditions comparable with those that exist in Australia.
– (Queensland - Minister for Defence) [5.58]. - The Minister for Homes and Territories (Mr. Marr) recently visited New Guinea and, doubtless, this matter was brought to his notice. I point out to the honorable senator that it was necessary to obtain the services of a very competent officer who possessed a knowledge of mining law, to administer affairs at Edie Creek, where trouble had occurred. At the time there was not in the Territory an officer who possessed those qualifications, and he had to be obtained from a mainland State in which there was a mining administration. The officer selected has succeeded in bringing about more contentment. I shall refer to the Minister the question that has been raised by the honorable senator.
Schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir William Glasgow) read a third time.
Bill received from House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Sir William Glasgow), agreed to -
That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir William Glasgow), read a first time.
[6.6]. - I move- -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is to grant and apply the sum of £317,649 out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the services of the year ending the 30th June, 1928, for the purposes of additions, new works, buildings, &c., and to appropriate that sum. The total amount which Parliament is being asked to appropriate is £101,202 more than the expenditure of the previous year, and £20,915 more than the amount voted for 1926-27. The amounts included in the bill for the many services are relatively small. The total amount of £317,649 is distributed under two parts, as follows : - Part I. Departments and services, other than business undertakings and Territories of the Commonwealth, £284,049 ; and Part 3. Territories of the Commonwealth, £33,600. The principal items provided for are: - Reserves of stores, including ammunition, ordnance, torpedo stores, and coal and oil fuel, £74,000; oil fuel storage facilities, £24,000; naval bases, works and establishments, £20,000; machinery and plant for manufacture of munitions not now produced in Australia, £39,681; acquisition of Small Arms Ammunition. Factory, Footscray, £19,153; erection of, and alterations and additions to, buildings, and construction of launches and vessels for Customs Department, £25,015 ; new buildings, alterations, and additions, and construction of launches and vessels for Health Department, £ 41,870 ; erection, &c. of buildings, construction and filling of petrol tank and construction of buildings and roads, engineering services and water boring in North Australia and Central Australia, £31,600. Ministers will be glad to furnish any information required as to the details of the works referred to when the bill reaches the committee stage.
– I realize that this bill is the complement of the measure with which we have just dealt. The Senate is asked to provide funds for the continuance of the various works already in course of construction. In the circumstances, I shall not take up the time of the Senate at this stage, but will reserve any comments I desire to make until the Committee stage has been reached.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 5th October (vide page 171) on motion by Senator Sir William Glasgow -
That the hill he now read a second time.
– I listened.yesterday with a great deal of interest to the speech of the Minister when moving the second reading of this measure. The honorable gentleman complimented the Joint Committee on Electoral Law and Procedure on the excellent work it had performed and the recommendations it had made in connexion with our electoral laws; but he intimated that the Government could not seeits way clear to accept some of those recommendations. In many directions our electoral laws could be improved. For instance, those sections which deal with elections to the Senate could, with advantage, be amended. I realize, however, that if I were to refer to many of the defects in our existing electoral legislation I should be discussing matters which are outside the scope of the measure now before us. I have carefully perused the bill, and realize that it embodies, to a greatextent, the recommendations of the committee to which reference has been made, and of the officers of Electoral Department. It is principally a machinery measure. I propose to refer to four matters with which it deals, namely: signed articles, the reduction in the hours of polling, postal voting and gifts, donations, and contributions by members of Parliament. Clause 25 provides
Section one hundred and sixty-four of the Principal Act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following sub-section: - “(3) This section shall not apply to the publication in a newspaper of -
This amendment opens up a question, which is not only important, but also very controversial. When the electoral law was altered to make it compulsory that all articles appearng in newspapers for a certain period prior to an election, and until the return of the writs, should be signed, I was a member of the Senate, and assisted in passing the amendment. Nothing has occurred in the intervening years to make me change my opinion. I supported the amendment of the law at that time to compel writers of leading and other articles in the newspapers during an election campaign to sign their names to them. My reason for doing so was that parties were subjected to a vast amount of misrepresentation in newspaper articles, and the members of the party to which I belonged were particular sufferers in that respect. The fact that the writers of articles have been compelled to sign them has, I think, been the means of reducing a great deal of the misrepresentation that previously existed. As a matter of fact, “misrepresentation” is a rather mild term to use. All sorts of statements were made to vilify the Labour party, and place the objects it had in view in a false light before the people. I have no reason to think that that particular antagonism has diminished in the slightest. I venture to say that if this check on newspaper writers is removed there will be scope for active writers in the interests of their parties and in the dissemination of their party propaganda to go beyond the bounds of ordinary f airplay, and to so put their case before the electors as to confuse them and prevent them from giving a really clear and intelligent vote on election day. There is certainly a qualification in the proposal containing the bill. If any comment is made on the subject matter of a report the article must be signed. But I am not at all in favour of either the recommendation of the Select Committee or the Government’s proposal. Evidence may have been brought forward in favour of it, but I know no just reason why the law should be altered in this regard. The provision in the act has helped to make political contests fairer; it has helped to put the views of all candidates clearly before the electors, and, after all, it is the duty of all parties to give to the great jury which on election day will decide the personnel of Parliament all the facts necessary to assist them in arriving at their verdict. I have come to the conclusion, therefore, that I cannot support the proposed amendment. In this regard I wish it to be clearly understood that whatever comments I may make on this measure, however I may vote, I am speaking and acting for myself. Honorable senators of the Labour party differ in their views in regard to this bill, and the electoral law generally. For my own part I cannot support an amendment which will mean the elimination of the obligation to sign articles in newspapers during an election campaign. Another important amendment seeks to reduce the hours of voting.
– “We find that the six o’clock closing hour works well in Queensland.
– Probably it does, and the Commonwealth system of having the poll from 8 o’clock in the morning till 8 o’clock at night has also worked well. I know no valid reason why the hours of polling should be reduced. It must be remembered that we provide for compulsory voting in our electoral law. Therefore, we should not restrict the facilities given to the people to comply with the law. I cannot see what those in charge of polling booths will gain by reducing the polling time by one hour.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
Private business taking precedence after 8 p.m.,
Procedure in the Senate on 9th May.
– I move : -
That the manner in which the proceedings in the Senate were conducted at its meeting on 9th May, 1927, was a grave breach of the privileges of the House, and must not be regarded as a precedent.
I submit this motion without the slightest particle of party or personal feeling. My only object is to preserve the rights, independence, integrity, dignity, and honour of the Senate, which I feel is an obligation not only upon me, but also upon every other honorable senator. The British are the only people I know of who, right down through all the centuries, have displayed a genius for constitutional government. They have taught the world the way in which constitutional and party government should be exercised, by maintaining the rights, independence, integrity, dignity and honour of that great Mother of Parliaments, the House of Commons, which is regarded as the principal parliamentary institution in the world, and sets an example worthy of emulation. In the fight for these rights the House of Commons has had to resist the aggression of the Crown, sometimes of the old feudal system, and also of governments; but it always has upheld its rights, privileges, independence, integrity, dignity, and honour. We have inherited these great traditions - we have adopted the practice of the House of Commons - and it is our bounden duty to see that every right and privilege handed down to us is passed on intact to those who succeed us. That is the only reason I have for submitting this motion. I contend that if the practice adopted in the Senate on the 9th May were accepted as a precedent, this chamber might as well be wiped out of existence, because it would be at the mercy of any government which chose to prevent the Senate from transacting its business in accordance with its rules of procedure. The procedure to be followed on that day was clearly laid down in a paper prepared for the guidance of senators, presumably by the Clerk of the Senate, and, sir, with your concurrence. The paper set out that after petitions had been presented, notices of motion and questions might be called on and papers laid upon the table. It further stated that a motion for the presentation of an address to His Royal Highness, the Duke of York, would be moved, and also that motion for leave of absence and that the Senate should rise until a date to be fixed would be moved. That was the correct procedure to be followed. But what happened? Petitions were not called for by you, sir; notices of motion and questions were not invited. The Government intervened before this business was transacted, and intervened, I believe, sir, with your concurrence. Leave to move a motion was obtained before the sittings of the Senate were properly opened. If the Government can do that on one occasion, it can do it On another.
– The Minister obtained the leave of the Senate to move the motion in question.
– The Minister had no right to obtain the leave of the Senate to do anything until the proceedings had been properly opened. No one has a right to intervene until that is done. The people of Great Britain have an incontrovertible right to approach Parliament by petition before Parliament can proceed to transact any business. That has always been the right of the British people. On this occasion petitions were not called for. No one has the right to ask for leave to do anything in the. Senate until you, sir, call for the presentation of petitions in the proper way, ask for notices of motion, and call on questions. After that has been done the Minister in charge of Government business can ask for leave to move a motion, but not before. I wish to direct particular attention to what actually happened. The chairman of a joint committee of both Houses was prevented by the procedure followed from presenting a report of the committee to the Senate, although he was present in the Chamber, and was not only willing but anxious to present it.
– Why did he not present it?
– Because he had not the right to do so - neither had the Government a right to transact any business - until the proceedings were properly opened.
– No one here prevented him from presenting it.
– I have stated the position. The chairman of the Public Accounts Committee expressed indignation at being prevented by the procedure adopted from presenting the committee’s report. After an interval of four and a half months it has now been presented to the Senate. The report was the result of a long and careful investigation by the committee, the cost of which has to be met by the taxpayers. The taxpayers, however, were denied the right of ascertaining the contents of the report for four and a half months, owing solely to the procedure adopted on that occasion. That is entirely wrong. Such a course has never been followed before in this Parliament, and never in the House of Commons during the whole of its existence. On this occassion the only business transacted was that which the Government chose to submit. I, in common with other honorable senators, was aware from the outset that the procedure was entirely out of order. You, sir, in speaking on the matter on that occasion, directed attention to the fact that no objection was raised at the time. I ask you, sir, what that has to do with the question. It is not so much our business to see that the procedure is correct as it is yours, although I admit that every honorable senator hasa responsibility. You, sir, also twitted honorable senators with having failed to direct attention to the matter at the time.If I may be permittedto say so, that was rather ungenerous on your part, seeing that, personally, I did not call attention to the manner in which business was being transacted, mainly out of consideration for yourself. It is absolutely distasteful and unpleasant to me to call attention to wrong procedure or to raise points of order. I intensely dislike doing such a thing to my successor in the chair. Wo find that not only did the Minister in charge of business. in the Senate on the 9th May, move a motion which he had no right to move when he did, although you sir, said that he had a right 10 move it by leave, but that you, sir, before calling on the business in the proper way, read a message from His Excellency the Governor-General containing a list of bills, which I shall not enumerate, to which assent had been given. That was done without asking for petitions or calling on notices of motion and questions. The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Sir George Pearce) presented a long list of papers.
– He is now in Geneva.
– Yes, and I am exceedingly sorry that he is not present; I should have liked him to be here. “We cannot delay discussion on this subject until he returns, because the Senate cannot be permitted to sleep on its rights. I have no desire to censure any one; my only wish is to assist in preserving the rights of the Senate. The Honorary Minister (Senator Crawford) also presented a number of papers. He did not seek or obtain leave, and the business of the Senate was not called on in the proper way. A motion for leave of absence, and a motion concerning the next meeting of the Senate were disposed of before the business of the Senate was called on; as a matter of fact the business was not called at all during the sitting. I must beg leave to differ entirely from any one who says that that was not a breach of the privileges of the Senate. Why was it done? We were told that objection would be taken to the presentation of the Public Accounts Committee’s report to the Senate on that day as it might lead to an unseemly discussion. No discussion could have arisen on the day the report was presented. The Chairman of the Committee would have done the same as he did last week. He would have presented the report, and given notice of his intention to move “ that the paper be printed.” In any case an arrangement for the convenience of the other House should not concern the Senate, which is an independent branch of the legislature. - As I have said, no discussion would have taken place had the report been presented that day. It was brought forward last Wednesday week - ten days ago - and there has not yet been a word of discussion upon it. I submit that the whole procedure was a gross breach of the privileges of the Senate. If honorable senators will refer to the 13th edition of May, page 81, they will find the following : -
Wilful disobedience to any of the orders or rules which regulate the proceedings of the House is a breach of privilege.
That is the practice laid down in the latest edition of May. It is unequivocal. There is no escaping from it. The procedure of the House of Commons has established for us our parliamentary rights and privileges. The more I studied its rules and practice, which it was my duty to do during the thirteen years that I had the honour to occupy the chair in which you, Mr. President, are now sitting, the more impressed was I with the wisdom and sagacity of the men who had framed and maintained them. While they give the Government of the day full opportunity to proceed with its business in a proper way, they also protect the rights of minorities and of individuals. It should be the concern, as it is the duty, of every member of this Parliament to see that those rights and privileges are handed on to future Parliaments inviolate.
I did not draw attention to what I considered, at the time, to be improper procedure at the meeting of the Senate on the 9th of May, until the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) had moved the adjournment. I felt that although what was done was unquestionably wrong, it might have been due to the inadvertence of yourself or of Senator Pearce, caused by the unique importance of the occasion, and therefore excusable. I thought that perhaps you and Senator Pearce might have been affected by the excitement of that historic occasion, or might have been a little exhilarated because of the high honours which had been conferred upon both of you by His
Majesty the King. In such circumstances, the departure from correct procedure would have been understandable, and might have been excused. I should not have taken exception to it, and it might have been overlooked,- had not Senator Pearce, in moving the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, “ given the whole show away,” if I may be permitted to use a colloquial expression. He said that what had been done had been done deliberately. It could not have been done without your concurrence, Mr. President, since you are the custodian and guardian of the Senate’s rights and privileges. I thereupon directed attention to the fact that no one - neither you nor the Minister - had any right to interpose between the Chairman of a Committee of the Senate, and the Senate itself, in order to prevent him from presenting a report to the Senate. In reply to that statement Senator Pearce said - his remarks may be found on page 11 of Hansard -
I am not discussing any question of right; I am merely putting it- that the Government in the course it has taken to-day has not given the committee an opportunity to present its report.
What right had the Government to prevent any Committee of the Senate from presenting its report? The whole gravamen of my complaint is that the Government adopted a certain procedure to prevent a committee from presenting its report. If the Government can do that on one occasion, it can do it on another, and thus the privileges of the Senate may be destroyed.
– Was the little matter dealt with in caucus?
– I am not referring to anything that may have happened in caucus, nor am I speaking for any one but myself. I take a very serious view of the position that has arisen, because I realize that there is on every honorable senator an obligation to do all in his sower to preserve the rights, privileges, honour, dignity, and independence of our parliamentary institutions.
– I have known a Minister to do what the honorable senator complains of when he himself was in the chair.
– The honorable senator cannot point to any such occurrence during my occupancy of the chair.
– On one occasion, when a no-confidence motion had been moved in another place, the honorable senator, as soon as he took the chair in the Senate, called on a Minister, who wished to move the adjournment of the Senate. That was clone deliberately to prevent the transaction of business in the Senate.
– When presiding over this chamber I always took especial care to see that the procedure was in strict accordance with established parliamentary practice. The President has a right to “ see “ or call on a Minister first. That is a right which no one can deny. However, let me return to the proceedings on the 9th May. Senator Pearce went on to say: -
Notices of motions and questions were not called on because of the way in which the Government put certain motions before the chamber.
The Government had no right whatever to place any business before the chamber until petitions, notices of motion and questions had been called for by the President. ,
I do not wish to labour the question. Even if I felt so disposed, my physical condition would not allow me to do so. I should like to emphasize that if. in my view, the procedure, to which j take exception, on the 9th May had been due to inadvertence because of excitement natural on such a unique and important occasion or to exhilaration on the part of either you, sir, or the Leader of the Senate because of the honour that had been conferred upon you, the matter could have been overlooked; but since it has been admitted that the procedure was adopted deliberately, I feel compelled to submit this motion in order to protect the rights of this chamber. If honorable senators will look at Standing Order No. 412 they will find that when the mover of a motion has replied, the debate is absolutely closed. There can be no exception to that rule whatever. On the 9th May, however, that Standing Order was not complied with. The Hansard report of the proceedings shows that after Senator Pearce had moved his motion, and had replied, you, sir, also addressed the Senate. Your right to do that at the proper time and on any subject, and to vote on any subject is unchallengeable. But you have no more right than any other honorable senator to address the chamber after a debate has been closed as provided by the Standing Orders. However, that is a much smaller matter, and I do not wish to stress it. My chief concern is to sec that the rights and privileges, the independence, the honour, and the dignity of the Senate are not impaired, and 1 appeal to every honorable senator to declare that the procedure of the 9th May must not be regarded as a precedent. If it were, it would deprive us of those rights and privileges which have been fought for through the centuries by -the House of Commons.
[8.25]. - Honorable senators will agree that the proceedings in the Senate on the 9th May were extraordinary.
– That is so.
– On such an historic occasion the ordinary procedure of the Senate could not be strictly adhered to. After the opening ceremony, the proceedings were suspended, and on resuming, the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Senator Pearce) rose, as was his right, and asked leave to move a motion. The routine of business is laid down by Standing Order 66, which reads -
Tho Senate shall, unless otherwise ordered, proceed each day with its ordinary business in the following’ routine: - (1) Presentation of petitions; (2) Giving notices, and questions without notice; (3) Questions on notice; (4) Formal motions; (5) Postponement of business; (0) Motions and orders of the day, or vice versa, as set down on the notice-paper.
The Standing Order specifically lays down the routine of business to be followed, “unless otherwise ordered.” On the occasion referred to, when the VicePresident of the Executive Council asked leave to move a motion, there was no dissentient voice.
– If there had been he could not have moved the motion.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.As the honorable senator has said, if there had been an objection, the VicePresident of the Executive Council could not have submitted his motion. The permission of the Senate having been obtained, as provided for in the standing order I have just quoted, the procedure was altered. The first business was a message from the Governor-General. It will be admitted that under the Standing Orders, such a message may be reported at any time, so long as a debate is not interrupted. Then, in accordance with Standing Order 67, certain papers were presented. The presentation of papers also may be done at any time when other business is not before the Senate. Then came a motion by the Leader of the Senate, under Standing Order 65, which provides that any motion connected with the conduct of the business of the Senate may be moved by a Minister at any time without notice. After that came the motion for the adjournment, as provided for in Standing Order 63. This may be moved by a Minister at any time. Although the procedure of the 9th May may have been unusual, the departure from the routine of business was not made without the leave of the Senate, as provided/ for in Standing Order 66. This matter was discussed at some length on the motion for the adjournment on the 9th May, and I do not think that anything has arisen since then to alter the position. I hope that the Senate will not agree to the motion.
– I shall say but a very few words on this subject since I think it has been threshed almost threadbare. I intend to support the motion, because, in my opinion, the procedure adopted on the occasion referred to was most undesirable, and, I believe, was taken deliberately, in order to prevent an important report of the Public Accounts Committee from being presented. If I were at liberty, I could bring proof of that statement.
– Why does not the honorable senator produce his proof?
– Because I do not consider it right to introduce private interviews into a discussion in the Senate. I believe the procedure of the 9 th May was taken deliberately. In future I shall be very careful about granting leave for any statement to be made or motion to be moved, unless I know what is likely to be the outcome.
The fact that it was a tactical blunder has nothing to do with the case, and does not influence my judgment on this occasion. My very long experience of parliamentary procedure on the floor of the House, and in the Chair, convinces me that it is a precedent which ought not to be followed. If the motion is defeated, the inference will be that the procedure adopted on the 9th May should be regarded as a precedent. I ask honorable senators to bear that point in mind. Foi the reasons that I have endeavoured to express as clearly and shortly as possible, it is my intention to support the motion, although I regret that it has been moved, believing that we should “Let the dead past bury its dead.” I should not be true to my conception of the functions of this Senate, the Parliament as a whole, and the procedure that ought to be followed, if I did not support the motion.
– Senator Givens, President of the Senate for thirteen years, but now exPresident, has failed to establish his case. He has been supported by Senator Kingsmill, but that honorable senator has not had the courage to express his real opinion. It appears to me that the procedure qf which Senator Givens complains was the result of intervention by the Government before honorable senators had had an opportunity to ask questions or give notice of motion. Senator Glasgow has rightly pointed out that the procedure laid down must be followed only “ unless otherwise ordered.” It was “otherwise ordered.” If my memory serves me rightly, Senator Kingsmill had in his hands the report of the Public Accounts Committee in readiness to submit it. Why did he not submit it? What was the power behind the scenes that prevented him from doing so? Usually outspoken and courageous, Senator Kingsmill must have been “ got at “ by some unseen power that exercised its influence in the National caucus. He has cut a very sorry figure.
.- I agree with Senator Kingsmill that this question ought not to have been revived. A great deal of emphasis has been laid on the fact that the Senate permitted the usual procedure to be varied on the 9th
May. I do not know an honorable senator who was cognisant of what Senator Pearce was moving. I was listening attentively, but I could not distinguish one word that the right honorable gentleman uttered. I turned to Senator Thomas and asked, “What is Senator Pearce moving?” ite said, “I do not know.” The Senate agreed to the motion without knowing what it was doing. Honorable senators are aware that the acoustic properties of this Chamber are defective.
– That surely is not a question of privilege !
– It is a question of privilege, because the Senate was taken at a disadvantage. I resent being robbed of any of the rights and privileges that I, as an honorable senator, possess.
– The honorable senator does not suggest that it was done deliberately, does he?
– The action taken by Senator Pearce was deliberate. Honorable senators did not hear what he moved.
– If we agreed to it under those circumstances it was our own fault.
– It was our own fault in one sense but not in another. The majority of honorable senators thought that the Leader of the Senate was presenting unimportant business. I do not blame the Government for seizing an opportunity to avoid trouble; but the result was that the Senate was misled. I consider that Senator Givens has -made out a very good case in support of the charge that there was a grave breach of the privileges of the Senate. Senator Kingsmill, as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, endeavoured to present its report on certain matters, but was prevented from doing so by the action of the Leader of the Senate. Every honorable senator is aware that it was the desire of the Government to avoid the friction that would have been caused by the Labour party, which had issued a threat that if the paper were presented it would be debated that day. The contention that the rights and privileges of honorable senators were interfered with has not been disproved. If the occurrence were allowed to pass without a protest it might be repeated. I. therefore, support the motion moved by Senator Givens.
.– On the 9th May I was anxious that a certain report should he presented to the Senate, and when the procedure which was adopted did not allow of that being done I was greatly disappointed. I thought then, and I think now, that the procedure was wrong. I believe that Senator Givens has made out a ‘ very strong case. He has said that the traditions of the Senate should be preserved, and that what happened on 9th May should not be regarded as a precedent. I do not think it is likely to be so regarded. It must be remembered that the circum-r stances surrounding the sitting were exceptional; they are not likely to recur. A member of the Royal Family was in attendance to perform a specific duty, and the noticepaper was specially designed to enable the proceedings’ to be brought to a conclusion without the slightest hitch. .The report of the Public Accounts Committee has since been presented, and we might very well allow the matter to rest. After the splendid speech that has been delivered by Senator Givens, in his anxiety to preserve the honour and traditions of the Senate, no Government would dream of again departing from the usual practice. No good can result from the passage of the motion. The honorable senator has practically won the battle, and if I were in his place I should withdraw the motion. If he does not I shall vote against it.
.- The question before the Senate is a very simple one. Senator McLachlan interjected that there had not been a breach of privilege. That is directly at variance with the opinion expressed by Senator J. B. Hayes, and with the facts themselves. As an honorable senator I am at liberty to give notice of a question or a motion. On the 9th May that privilege was withdrawn from me. Senator J. B. Hayes has admitted that the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee was deprived of the opportunity to submit its report. That was another distinct breach of privilege. What harm would be done if the motion were carried? It would simply amount to a declaration that in the opinion of the Senate there had been a very serious breach of privilege. The passage of the motion can do no harm.
– Can it do any good ?
– The motion does not express any censure of the President or of the Government. Those who vote against it will practically condone the wrong practice that was adopted on the 9th May.
– Wrong practice is one thing and breach of privliege another.
– It was a distinct breach of privilege. The thanks of the Senate are due to Senator Givens for having attempted, without any personal feeling, to preserve the rights and privileges of honor-able senators. The motion should be agreed to so that it will be laid down definitely for all time that the Senate does not condone such a practice as that adopted on the 9th May.
– It has been obvious during this debate that many honorable senators who feel that the procedure adopted on the historic occasion to which reference has already been made, was not what it ought to have been - a fact admitted by the Government - are unwilling to vote for the motion in its present form because it carries with it some condemnation, inferred, if not actually expressed, of the President of the Senate, as well as of the Government. If, however, we fail to declare that the procedure adopted on the 9th May last must not be regarded as a precedent, we, in fact, agree that it must be so regarded.
– If we refuse to say that it must not be regarded as a precedent the only inference that can be drawn is that it can be regarded as a precedent, to be used as such by any one who in the future is in charge of the business of the Senate. We may not always have on the Government bench the highly estimable type of men who now occupy it. The day may come when a Leader of the Government in this chamber will seek to rob honorable senators of their rights and privileges by quoting the vote of the Senate on this motion as a precedent - as he would be entitled to do - and acting upon it with the support of the majority of honorable senators. It would not be wise for the Senate to run a risk of that kind. It is our duty, in the interests of the Senate, both now and in the future, to maintain all the rights and privileges which we enjoy to-day. But we can do that without in any way inferring condemnation of your action, Mr. President, and that of the Minister who was in charge of the Senate on the historic occasion in question. I, therefore, move as an amendment -
That the words, “ was a grave breach of the privileges of the House and “ be left out.
There is no need for the Senate to declare that the procedure adopted on the 9th May was a grave breach of the privileges of the House. The only concern of the Senate is that that procedure shall not be regarded as a precedent to be followed in the future. In its amended form the motion would carry with it no condemnation, actual or- implied, of any one; yet would make it clear that this Senate is of the opinion that the action taken on the 9th May must not be regarded as a precedent.
– The amendment does not take the sting out of the motion.
– I think it does. It will be admitted by all that the occasion to which reference has been made was an extraordinary one. Perhaps a similar occasion will never occur again. Every honorable senator on that day realized its importance, and was willing to do and to suffer things which he would not do or suffer on other occasions. Having in view the historic nature of the event, and its great importance, we should be prepared to overlook, to some extent, any departure from the ordinary practices of the Senate, provided that we make it clear that similar happenings must not occur in connexion with its conduct on other occasions. My amendment, if agreed to, would meet the occasion in every way, while carrying with it no sting. It would enable honorable senators to vote in the way they desire, but which they might not otherwise do for fear that they would be passing a vote of censure on the presiding officer and the Leader of the Senate.
– Every honorable senator with a true sense of his responsibility as a member of this Parliament, the highest tribunal in the land, realizes that the matter now before the Senate should not be decided lightly or with any personal feeling. As has already been pointed out, the protection of the privileges of the Senate, or of any other deliberative British assembly, is a matter of serious moment to all concerned. We all subscribe to the views expressed by Senator Givens as to the necessity of maintaining the honour, integrity, and dignity of this Chamber. This Senate like every other deliberative assembly in the British Empire is governed by certain standing orders, and parliamentary practices. Moreover, it is the right of every member of those tribunals to avail himself to the fullest possible extent of the procedure laid down for the conduct of business. The Leader of this chamber (Senator Pearce), who is unfortunately absent, admitted that on the historic occasion referred to he availed himself of the procedure of the Senate to prevent a certain event from happening. It has been suggested that the notice-paper was interfered with on the 9th May. I have the notice-paper for that day in my hand. There was no interference with it. Indeed, there could have been no interference with it, because it was open to the Minister to move to do anything, by leave, immediately the President entered the chamber.
– At the proper time.
– The Senate gave that leave.
– In ignorance.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that physical disability, such as deafness- or that ignorance or the bad acoustic properties of this chamber - should affect our judgment in dealing with a matter so important as the preservation of the privileges of the Senate? If, for any reason, honorable senators on the 9th May were lulled into a false sense of security, or a belief that certain things were happening, which, in fact, were not happening, is that to be regarded as a matter of privilege ? The course adopted was strictly in accordance with, our Standing Orders. Had any senator exercised his undoubted right to object to the Leader of the Senate making a statement, by leave, the statement which he did make on the 9 th May could not have been made, and the business of the Senate could not have been conducted in the way that it was conducted.
– “Would the Minister give an instance of what he considers would be a breach of parliamentary privilege ?
– While it is not for me to do that, I suggest that if honorable senators had cared to avail themselves to the full of their rights and privileges, objection might have been taken to the presence in this chamber on the morning of the 9th May of a member of the Royal Family. I am sure no honorable senator would dream of such a thing; but had that objection been taken, it would not have been for the first time in the history of parliaments. Honorable senators will recollect that when, on the 9th May, the Leader of the Senate asked for leave to do certain things, no voice was raised in dissent. That is made clear in Hansard.
– The Leader of the Senate “ put it over “ us all right.
– If, as Senator Sampson suggests, in the language of the Palestine or Western front, Senator Pearce did “ put it over us,” that does not necessarily mean that his action was a breach of, privilege. Senator Pearce has frankly admitted that he used the machinery of the Senate on that occasion to obtain a certain result, although honorable senators could have prevented him from doing so had they desired. The action of the Leader of the Senate in availing himself of that machinery to attain the object he had in view, was not a breach of privilege. It has been said that Senator Kingsmill, the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, had no opportunity on the 9th May to present an important report to the Senate. Whose fault was that? To agree to the motion would be tantamount to saying that the use of our own Standing Orders to bring about a * certain result constitutes a breach of privilege. On the 9th May no breach of the Standing Orders occurred. Standing Order 66, to which Senator Glasgow has referred, clearly contemplates that the procedure which Senator Givens evident ,’ regards as a rigid rule, can be departed from by order of the Senate.
– Where were the orders on that occasion?
– It is reported in Hansard that immediately the President entered the chamber and took the chair Senator Pearce moved a motion by leave.
– To move by leave is not an order.
– Is my friend raising this question of privilege on the technical point that if the Senate by its silence gives consent to the moving of a motion it is not equivalent to an absolute and definite order? Under Standing Order 135, if one dissentient voice had been raised there could not have been an order, but for the reason referred to by Senator Reid no dissentient voice was raised. Whatever the cause, no dissentient voice being raised when the right, honorable the Leader of the Government in the Senate asked for leave to move a motion, it became an order. The honorable senator asked for. leave to submit a notion not once, but on two or three distinct occasions during the afternon, and on no occasion did an honorable senator dissent.
– That will make us careful next tme
– It seems to me that we have been wandering through a realm of conjecture about privilege when privilege is no.t involved. If the procedure of the Senate has been used to “ put something over “ honorable senators - to use the words of Senator Sampson - the blame rests on the whole of the Senate for not being watchful. Perhaps on the occasion referred to honorable senators were less vigilant than usual - perhaps they did not ‘realize for the moment what Senator Pearce was doing - but I appeal to Senator Givens even at this late hour not to place this in the category of breaches of privilege. To do so is to attach too much importance to it, and to set up a dangerous precedent, quite unwarranted by the facts. Tho honorable senator claims that the right of the people to petition Parliament was violated. He asks why Mr. President did not inquire, as he usually does when he takes the chair, “Has any honorable senator a petition to present?” The President, did not do so on that occasion because the right honorable Leader of the Government in the Senate intervened. The same thing may happen to-morrow.
– The honorable senator has made the whole position as clear as mud.
– It is apparently a murky subject in my friend’s mind, but the Leader of the Senate kept within his rights. He obtained leave to do what he did without a dissentient voice being raised, and what he did was thus in accordance with the Standing Orders. If honorable senators were not alert enough, or if through some inadvertence on their part; they allowed the Leader of the Senate to proceed in the way he did, surely no one is entitled to regard it as a breach of privilege. One point in Senator Givens’ observations which struck me as somewhat important was that if the Government could do this once it could do it again. Certainly it could, and so could any honorable senator. But that does not constitute it a breach of privilege. The right honorable the Leader of the Government in the Senate simply exercised a right given to him under the Standing Orders. According to Senator Kingsmill, it is a practice that is undesirable, but that is a matter which the Leader of the Senate must from -time to time decide according to his own conscience and according to the exigencies of the situation. I have the notice paper for the 9th May. The charge that it was departed from is unfounded. Senator J. B. Hayes has had a long parliamentary experience, and I am sure he can distinguish between a breach of privilege and a breach of procedure. I want him to ask himself whether there is any breach of privilege in this case, or whether it is something that affects the rights of honorable senators. His answer must be that it is purely a question of procedure. Senator Ogden has pointed out that no opportunity was given to the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee to present a report of the committee. The opportunity to present that report was removed, not because there was any breach of the privileges of honorable senators, but because leave was given to the Leader of the Senate to proceed in a certain manner. To place what happened on the plane of. a breach of privilege would be to establish a wrong precedent, which would not redound to the credit of the Senate. It would be giving a simple matter an importance that it does not deserve.
– The objection is to the alteration of the business paper.
– The notice paper of the 9th May was not interfered with in any respect, but immediately the President took the chair the Leader of the Government said, “ By leave, I desire to move a motion.”
– He had no right to do so.
– That seems to be the kernel of the honorable senator’s argument. But leave was given to Senator Pearce in accordance with the Standing Orders, because no. dissentient voice . was raised. The procedure adopted on that occasion cannot form a precedent, for the simple reason that if leave is sought to make a statement, and honorable senators do not wish the statement to be made, any individual honorable senator can insist on the procedure laid down in Standing Order 66 being followed. Notwithstanding Senator Givens’s technical point, I submit that the Standing Order itself contemplates leave being obtained to alter the procedure it lays down.
– Does the honorable senator think that leave to move a motion was sought with a view to preventing an opportunity being given for the presentation of the report of the Public Accounts Committee?
– Senator Pearce does not disguise the fact that he used the forms of the Senate with a view to preventing that eventuality.
– That is a verydamaging admission.
– Senator Pearce has not disguised his intention. It is competent for an honorable senator to make full use of the Standing Orders. We play games according to rules. In this great game of parliamentary responsibility we have rules by which we are governed; but because in this case they were used in a manner that does not quite appeal to the technical mind of my friend from Queensland, he asks us to regard what took place as abreach of privilege. No question of privilege is involved. Senator Pearce simply availed himself of the Standing Orders in order to attain a certain end. He saw that a difficulty that most honorable senators would desire to avoid might arise, and he availed himself of the only means he had to meet the exigencies of the situation.
– I am a stranger here. I do not know whether or not honorable senators want to take me in, but after listening to this debate I have come to the conclusion that no good can result from it. There is no value in exhuming a body. Seeing the length of time that has elapsed since the happening which is the subject of this motion,I suggest to Senator Givens that having attained his end he should withdraw his motion. One honorable senator says that the Leader of the Senate did certain things; another honorable senator says that the Opposition used a threat. Where may I, a stranger in the Senate, look for finality? I am reminded of the old woman who, when shown two pieces of cloth by a salesman whom she thought was trying to impose upon her, said that the only difference between them was that they were both alike. In this case there seems to be very little difference between the opinions of those who support and those who are opposed to the motion. I think Senator Givens, who for a number of years occupied with distinction the position of President of the Senate, will realize that it is easy for an error to be made and that no law is perfect., I feel compelled to vote against the motion.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands). - I think that Senator Sampson gave the key to the whole situation when he interjected that the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Pearce), on the occasion in question, “ put it over “ the Senate. Certain honorable senators, believing that he did so, apparently desire now to “ put it over “ someone else. They are sorry that they gave the Minister leave to move a motion without notice on the day to which reference has been made, and wish to place the responsibility on someone else. It is not my desire to quarrel with any honorable senator ; but I take very strong exception to certain statements made by Senator Givens and Senator Kingsmill. They have inferred that I was in league with the Government to prevent Senator Kingsmill from presenting to the Senate a report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts on the 9th of May. That is absolutely incorrect. I was not in league with the Government then, nor am I to-day. The Leader of the Government in the Senate, on the day in question, asked me to “ see “ him as soon as possible. I had no more idea of what was in his mind than had any man a thousand miles away. That is all I can say of the incident. This motion has been moved ostensibly for the purpose of directing attention to some alleged omission on my part on that day, and really to censure me for it.For the information of honorable senators, I shall recall the facts. A function of great importance, the like of which will probably never occur again, was being held in Parliament House, and I was possibly somewhat excited, although not for the reason so ungenerously suggested by Senator Givens. Excitement was shown by honorable senators generally. I was not really excited, but anxious for the reason that my health was impaired, and I was afraid that at any moment I might collapse. I am not putting that forward as an excuse for any omission on my part ; I mention it only as an unfortunate fact. As I have said, Senator Pearce, the Leader of the Senate, asked me to “ see “ him as soon as possible, and I did so. If I omitted to call for the presentation of petitions, or questions without notice, in the usual way, I will show later that it was not the first occasion on which a President of the Senate had omitted to do so. Frequently the adjournment of the- Senate has been moved at the inception of the proceedings without notices of motion or questions being called for. For instance, when an adverse motion is moved in another place, it is customary for the Minister in charge in this House, before any business is transacted, to move “ That the Senate do now adjourn.” On such occasions petitions and notices of motion are not asked for, and, therefore, the procedure followed on the 9th of May did not establish a precedent. This question has been raised aa one of privilege. I consider it to be a question not of privilege, but of procedure under the Standing Orders. Notwithstanding the extensive knowledge of the Standing Orders possessed by Senator Givens, and his long experience in the chair, I venture the opinion that a minister in this chamber is entitled to rise in his place at any moment when there is no business before the Senate and ask for leave to move a motion. That is what Senator Pearce did on the occasion referred to, and the Senate granted him leave. There was not a dissentient voice. If the procedure was unusual, or in any sense irregular, then honorable senators who did not object to leave being granted were as much at fault as I was. While I may be censured by some for permitting an alleged breach of the Standing Orders, I say unhesitatingly that I endeavoured, notwithstanding my anxiety and illness, to carry out my important duties to the best ‘ of my ability, and that in my opinion nothing that was contrary to .the Standing Orders was done. Standing Order 66, which sets out the–routine of business, provides that the business of the Senate shall be taken in a certain order, “unless otherwise ordered.” Senator Givens, in effect, has told the Senate repeatedly that the words, “unless otherwise ordered” are not to be taken into account. I remind him that the routine of business provided for in Standing Order 66 has frequently been departed from. It is not imperative that the President shall call for petitions, notices of motion, and questons before any other business is transacted. For the information of the
Senate, I quote a ruling of a distinguished predecessor of mine, exPresident Sir Albert Gould, who held that a Minister may move the adjournment of the Senate immediately after the reading of prayers. That is to be found in the records of rulings provided for the guidance of honorable senators. Standing Order 65 lays it down that a Minister may at any time move a motion connected with the conduct of the business of the Senate without notice; he can intervene before notices of motion and questions are called for. Senator Givens and other honorable senators know that a Minister always has the right of call: that is a well-established principle, so far as I know,. in every Parliament.
As honorable senators are aware, the Duke of York was to open the first, sitting of the Federal Parliament at Canberra, and .in order to carry out the ceremony in a proper way, it was necessary to arrange a set procedure, which had to be followed as far as possible, according to a timetable, before any ordinary business was transacted. All that I know concerning any prior discussion between the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Sir George Pearce), the leader of the Labour party (Mr. Charlton), and the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (Senator Kingsmill) has been gathered, since the proceedings, from the Hansard report. At the time I knew absolutely nothing concerning any discussion between Senator Sir George Pearce and Senator Kingsmill, or any one else. Many senators who now appear to be thoroughly conversant with what occurred in that regard, obtained their information, as, I did, from Hansard. The Journals of the Senate show that at the outset of the proceedings on the day under review a message from the GovernorGeneral was reported. I think it will be conceded that under Standing Order 376 this can be done at any time unless a debate is proceeding. After that papers were presented. Under Standing Order 67 this can be done at any time when other business is not before the Senate. As the Journals of the Senate show, two Ministers presented a num- ber of reports and papers, so that
Senator Kingsmill could alsohave presented the report of the Public Accounts Committee. I am sure that Senator Kingsmill would not have considered that he was doing wrong had he followed the example of Ministers. Following the presentation of reports and papers by Ministers, the Leader of the Government in the Senate, asked for leave, as he had a perfect right to do, to submit a motion. Then followed a motion under Standing Order 65 connected with the business of the Senate, which may also be moved at any time. Followng that, the adjournment was moved under Standing Order 63, which may be moved by a Minister at any time. The whole question hinges upon the fact that Senator Sir George Pearce was given leave to move a certain motion, not a dissentient voice being raised. Even the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham), who is usually ready and anxious to take exception to leave being granted to submit a motion without notice, did not exercise his usual vigilance on that occasion. After studying the procedure very carefully, I have come to the conclusion that nothing was done which was contrary to the Standing Orders, and that since honorable senators did not take exception to leave being given to the Minister to move his motion, the responsibility rests with them as much as with me.I have stated the facts asI know them without embellishment - without any rhetorical flourishes in regard to the “preservation of the rights of the people.” The right of the people to govern themselves was not jeopardized by anything done on this occasion. I am not finding fault with the action of Senator Givens, but I think it would have been better if this discussion had been avoided. I appreciate the action of Senator Duncan in moving an amendment to “save my face,” as it were; but if the Senate considers I have been guilty of carelessness, and have jeopardized in any way the rights and privileges of honorable senators - and I deny that I have - I am prepared to acpept its reprimand.
– It is not a personal matter.
– It is. I have been hearing of this motion again and again during the last four months, and know a great deal more about it than do some honorable senators. On no account do I wish any honorable senator to vote against the motion merely because it may affect me. I leave the matter entirely in the hands of the Senate.
– I have given careful thought to the motion submitted by Senator Givens, and have come to the conclusion that it is intended as a deliberate censure upon you, Mr. President, for the manner in which the business of the Senate was conducted on the 9 th May. On that historic day we were privileged to have with us a son of His Majesty the King, who opened this Parliament. Naturally on such an important occasion many things were done which will never be done again. There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that if censure has to be meted out to any one, it is to honorable senators themselves, for whilst they may be in this chamber, frequently very many do not listen to or heed what is being done.
– Some times they are not here.
– If honorable senators are not here, then they will not raise their voice in protest against what may be attempted. We know that at times Ministers have to resort to a certain amount of camouflage to get the business through, and so long as they are acting within the standing orders they are perfectly justified in doing so. I intend to vote against the motion.
– I can promise honorable senators that I shall not occupy much time in replying to the debate. Senator Glasgow, the Acting Leader of the Senate, said a little while ago that the Senate had every right, under Standing Order 66, to depart from its usual order of business. That is admitted. But did the Senate on the 9th May “ otherwise order “ the routine of business on that occasion?
– Yes; it gave leave to the Leader of the Senate.
– Leave is not “ order.” “ Otherwise ordered “ can only be accomplished’ by motion. It is of no use for the Government now to try to camouflage the position. Senator McLachlan, being a lawyer, talked all round the issue with the object of confusing honorable senators and, as might have been expected, he succeeded in making it as obscure as was possible. The Senate on the 9th May, did not “ order “ the usual procedure to be departed from, notwithstanding what my friend Senator Glasgow has said. He stated that a message from the Governor-General may, be received at any time. My reply is that anything can be done in the Senate provided it is done at the proper time and in the proper way. I am not disputing that for a moment. What I am saying is that neither you, sir, nor the Government had any right to proceed with any business until the Senate had been opened in the usual manner. That is the point which I wish to impress upon honorable senators. If you had called for petitions and had asked for notices of motion and questions, then, undoubtedly, the Leader of the Senate would have been within his right in asking the leave of the Senate to adopt a certain procedure. My objection is that the departure from the recognized parliamentary practice was deliberate on the part of the Government. Senator Pearce admitted that at the time. He said that it was the intention of the Government to prevent a certain report of a Joint Parliamentary Committee from being presented. As a result of that action the public have been deprived of the report for a period of four and a half months. That is another point which I wish to make. In the course of your remarks you, sir, quoted a ruling by Sir Albert Gould, a former President of the Senate, that it is competent for a Minister to move the adjournment of the Senate immediately after prayers. I am not going to dispute that ruling. I have not looked it up, and, therefore, I am not -in a position to express an opinion. My point is* that if a Minister can move that motion at that stage the Senate can do no business, and, therefore, can do no wrong. But on the 9th May the Senate did transact business, and it was not done in the proper way. You have also said, sir, that if there was anything wrong with the procedure of the Senate on that occasion all honorable senators were equally guilty.
I remind you that whilst what you have said may be true, you, as President of this chamber, are not only the custodian of the rights and privileges of the Senate, but also primarily the guardian of those rights and privileges. Therefore, if it was our duty to protect them, it was much more your duty to watch over our procedure It is a strange doctrine that the proceedings may be conducted any old way without any responsibility on the part of the President if members do not object. I have already said that whilst I knew the procedure was wrong I thought it was due to inadvertence, and, because of the historic nature of the proceedings, excusable. But the matter assumed an entirely different aspect when Senator Pearce, in moving the adjournment of the Senate, stated that the procedure had been adopted deliberately. I should probably have taken definite action then but for the fact that it would have been distasteful to me to raise a point of order; and, moreover there was a general desire, out of consideration for you, that the proceedings should pass off smoothly. I merely wish to add that if your health was bad on that day I think mine was- very much worse. However, that is a personal matter, and need not be enlarged upon. If, as you contend, the Leader of the Senate had a right to move a motion by leave before the business was called on in the proper way, all I can say is that there is no precedent for that course in the records of either the House of Commons or this Senate. Senator J. B. Hayes has admitted that he thought the procedure wa3 wrong, and that the Chairman of the Joint Committee should not have been deprived of the right to present his report.
– I said that the circumstances were exceptional, and were never likely to recur.
– The honorable senator said also that the proceedings of the 9th May were not likely to be regarded as’ a precedent. Unfortunately, unless we pass this motion, those proceedings will be regarded as a precedent. It will be competent for Ministers or presid-ing officers in future Parliaments to quote the procedure of the Senate on the 9th May as authority for a similar course of action. Senator McLachlan said that
Senator Pearce took advantage of tho procedure. Se did nothing of the kind. He evaded the usual procedure of the Senate.
– What was the honorable senator doing to allow that?
– I took no point of order because I thought the unusual procedure was due to inadvertence on the part of the President and the Leader of the Senate.
– Whose fault was that?
– It was not my duty at that stage to intervene. If anything wrong was being done it was primarily the duty of the President to see that the proper procedure was followed. If I had thought that Senator Pearce was adopting the procedure deliberately - as afterwards he admitted - I should have taken a point of order at once. Like Senator Kingsmill, I shall be very cautious, in future, about granting leave to Ministers to depart from the ordinary procedure of the Senate, and I am afraid that the Government will find my objection at times exceedingly inconvenient. Ministers must understand, as Senator Sampson has said, that they cannot “ put it over us,” and hope to get away with it every time. The President has said that, when the Leader of the Senate rose in his place on that occasion, he called on the Minister to speak.In ordinary circumstances it is unquestionably right for the President to do that. It is a courtesy generally accorded to a Minister. But the President had no right to see any one, not even the Minister, until the business of the Senate had been called on in the proper way.
– It is a pity it was not mentioned at the time.
– I do not wish to labour the question, nor do I desire to censure or condemn any one in connexion with the proceedings in this chamber on the 9th May. I am willing to believethat if either you, sir, or Senator Pearce, had been seized of the gravity and the importance of that unusual procedure, it would not have been adopted. I drew attention to the fact that you di.d not intervene in the debate until after Senator Pearce had replied. You did not do me the honour to reply to the point which I had raised as to your right to do that. . You will find, that according to Standing Order 412, that in all cases the reply of the mover of the original question closes the debate. That is definite enough. I have no personal feeling in the matter at all; but I insist that it is the duty of every member of this Parliament to preserve those rights and privileges which were fought for and won for us down through the centuries, and to do all that lies in his power to ensure the independence and integrity of this Parliament.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
Governor-General’s Garden Party and Ball - Clock in Senate Chamber - Publication of Proceedings in House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Sir William Glasgow) proposed-
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– The other day I asked who had borne the expenses of the State ball and garden party which were given by the GovernorGeneral in Melbourne on the occasion of the visit to that city of Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of York. The reply was that they were borne by His Excellency, but that the Government had granted him£2,000 towards the cost. The Governor-General would have placed himself above all criticism if he had paid the total amount out of his Privy purse or his official salary orallowance; but having given those functions at the expense of the taxpayers of
Australia, with money that will have to be voted by this Parliament, he should have extended the courtesy of issuing invitations to members of this Parliament. That he did not do. Similar action was contemplated on a previous occasion, whilst the right honorable W. M. Hughes was Prime Minister. Immediately he became aware of it, he intervened and said, “ If we are to find the money, every member of the Commonwealth Parliament must be invited,” and invitations were issued to them. I understand that on this occasion only the society climbers and the aristocracy of Melbourne - genuine and shoddy - were invited, whilst members of Parliament, who will have to vote money to assist in defraying the cost, were ignored.. Apparently Mr. Bruce, who is a super-society man, is quite content to allow members of the Commonwealth Parliament to be ignored, so long as the genuine and shoddy society of Melbourne is entertained at the taxpayer’s expense.
. - I invite the attention of you, Mr. President, and of honorable senators, to the unsatisfactory time-piece in the chamber. The genius who designed its face ought to be told that he does not know his business, and steps should be taken to have it so altered that honorable senators will be able to tell the time by it.
.- I wish to bring before honorable senators adisability under which members of both Houses suffer. When we sat in Melbourne honorable senators could read in the morning newspapers an account of the business which had been transacted in another place on the previous day. Here we are not aware of what has been done until we can obtain a copy of either a Sydney or a Melbourne newspaper. That isa disadvantage to members of the Senate, and, possibly, also to members of the House of Representatives. Arrangements ought to be made for the publication each morning pf the proceedings in the House of Representatives. Frequently one does not have an opportunity to read the newspapers when they arrive, and consequently is not kept properly informed of the’ business that has been transacted in another place.
[9.56] . - I point out to Senator Givens, and to honorable senators generally, that the staff at Federal Government House have not been in Australia very long, but the practice is adopted which obtains all over the world of issuing invitations to those who observe the courtesy of entering their names in the Governor-General’s book. On a previous occasion, when there was an occurrence similar to that referred to by Senator Givens, the Clerk of the other House entered the name of every member in the book kept for that purpose at Government House. I do not know whether honorable senators consider that they should haveextended to them privileges that are not enjoyed by other members of the community. Every one is aware that certain courtesies are required in society. I use that term in a sense different from that appliedto it by Senator Givens. All that is asked is that the courtesy which is expected from the GovernorGeneral should be extendedalso to him. Senator Givens is fully aware that in every British dominion certain courtesies are extended to Vice-regal representatives. A further consideration of the matter, I am sure, will convince him that honorable senators shouldnot expect to be absolved from doing that which other members of the community are expected to do. I do not object to his having drawn attention to the matter : but I suggest that honorable senators should see that their names are entered in the book which is kept at Government House, or that which is available at No. 2 Secretariat.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Senate adjourned at 10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 October 1927, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1927/19271006_senate_10_116/>.