20 February 1929

11th Parliament · 1st Session

The President (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

page 348



Senator NEEDHAM:

– I ask the Leader of the Senate if it is a fact that, in September last, the Prime Minister gave a promise to the Australian Rotarians that Parliament would be adjourned in March of this year in order to enable them to hold their annual conference in Canberra?


– About September of last year the leading members of the Rotary Club in Canberra informed the Prime Minister that it was proposed to hold an all-Australian conference of the Rotarians, which would be attended by many visitors from other countries, and that they thought it would be very appropriate if this gathering took place in the Federal Capital. “With that sentiment the Prime Minister was in entire accord, as, I think, every honorable senator would have been; but, in view of the fact that about 500 delegates would be attending the conference, and that accommodation in Canberra is limited, he was asked if it was possible that Parliament would not be sitting at the time. The Prime Minister replied that he could not, at that stage, say whether Parliament would be sitting. He said, as a matter of fact, that since an election would intervene, he did not know whether he would be in Parliament at the time, but he told them that if his Government were returned to power again, and if it wore possible to adjourn Parliament, in order to enable the conference to be held in Canberra, he would be delighted to meet their convenience. Of course, he could not foresee what the present position was likely to be. On coming back after the elections to prepare to meet Parliament, Ministers at once saw that if both Houses were to rise at Easter it would not be practicable to ask Parlia ment to adjourn for a week to enable the Rotarians’ conference to be held. Consequently, the Leader of the Government got into touch with the representatives of the Rotary Club here, and pointed out that it would bo inconvenient for Parliament to adjourn for a week so close to Easter. The Rotarians are displaying a most excellent spirit over the matter. Readily recognizing the impossibility of asking Parliament to rise for a week, at some inconvenience to themselves they have made arrangements to secure accommodation at Queanbeyan and elsewhere, as well as in Canberra, and I am pleased to be able to say that the conference is still to be held at Canberra. The Government regrets having caused the Rotarians some inconvenience, but expresses its high appreciation of the way in which they have met the situation.

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Senator HOARE:

– I ask the Leader of the Senate if it is the intention of the Government in the future to ask both Houses to meet on Tuesday, instead of on Wednesday, in each week?


– I have not heard of any such immediate intention. It may become necessary later on in the session to have Tuesday as an additional sitting day.

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The following papers were presented : -

Railways Act - Report on Commonwealth Railways Operations for the year ended 30th June, 1928.

Ordered to be printed.

Land Tax Assessment Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1929, No.19.

Public Service Act - Appointments - Department of Postmaster-General - L. B. Nicholls, R. G. Dodds, W. H. Walker, H. R. Adam, R. M. Osborne.

Papers relating to the Coal Industry.

Nationality Act - Return showing the number of persons to whom Certificates of Naturalization were granted during the year 1928, and the countries whence the applicants came.

Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1929, No. 18.

Naval Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1929, No. 13.

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Food Supplies - Transport Charges

What does the Government allow per day for the food of each trainee of the Citizen Forces whilst in annual camp?

I am now in a position to inform the honorable senator that the daily scale of rations is as follows: - l½ lb. fresh meat, or 1 lb. preserved meat, or 1 lb. salt fish. 1/3 oz. coffee. 1/32 oz. pepper. 8 oz. mixed vegetables, or 2 oz. cheese. 1 lb. potatoes. 3 oz. sugar. ½ oz. salt. ½ oz. tea. ¼ lb. jam.

Food supplies are provided under contracts. The price varies in different districts, but the average cost per man per diem throughout the camps in Australia is approximately1s. 5d. Formation, &c. Commanders may, to suit local conditions (climatic, &c.) vary the above scale by substituting any equivalents in articles of food up to the contract value of the above ration scale.

On the same date, Senator Needham also asked the following questions: -

  1. Is the Minister aware whether trainees of the Citizen Forces have to defray the cost of their transport from their homes by trains, trains, &c, to the respective drill halls?
  2. In view of the fact that members of the Citizen Forces are training for the defence of Australia, will the Minister see that the cost of such transport is defrayed by theCommonwealth Government?

I am now in a position to inform the honorable senator as follows : -

  1. and 2. Trainees, except those allotted to technical units, such as artillery, engineers, &c, are normally trained in the battalion areas in which they reside and are not entitled to refund of train or tram fares, except when they are required to compulsorily attend parades at drill halls beyond three miles from their homes.

Trainees allotted to technical units outside the battalion area in which they reside are entitled to refund of train or tram fares if the distance travelled exceeds three miles.

Fares are not refunded where trainees are permitted at their own request to join technical units outside their battalion training area, as normally they should train near home.

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asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice -

Have the South Australian Disabilities Commission completed their inquiry, and when is their report likely to be available?


– The inquiries of the commission have been completed. The report is at present being revised, and is expected to be available at an early date. .

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Bill (on motion by Senator Sir William Glasgow) read a third time.


Motion for Disapproval.

Vice-President of the Executive Council · Western Australia · NAT

[3.15]. - I move -

That Determinations Numbers 33 to 36 (inclusive) of 1928 made by the Public Service Arbitrator under the Arbitration (Public Service) Act 1920-1928 be disapproved.

It is advisable that I should make a short historical survey of the relationship of the Public Service of the Commonwealth to the question of arbitration. Up till 1911 the Public Service of the Commonwealth did not possess the right of approach to the Arbitration Court. In many of the Public Services of the States to-day such a right does not exist. In 1911, however, the Fisher Labour Government passed an act which gave public servants the right of appeal to the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation -and Arbitration. There was not at that time a public service arbitrator. In 1920 that, act was amended to provide for the appointment of a public service arbitrator, to whom was transferred the power which was then held by the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration to deal with claims instituted by the Public Service. I shall refer to two sections of those acts. First of all, I direct attention to section 15 of the Arbitration (Public Service) Act of 1911. When that act was passed there was a Labour majority in both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament. Section 15 reads -

  1. Except as provided in this section, this act shall not’ empower the court to make any award or order, or give any direction which is not in accord with the laws of the Commonwealth and the regulations made thereunder.
  2. The court may, where it thinks proper to do so, moke an award, which, in the opinion of the President of the court, is not, or may not be, in accord with a law or regulation of the Commonwealth relating to the . salaries, wages, rates of pay or terms or conditions of service or employment of employees; but in that case the President shall send to the Prime Minister, and to the Attorney-General, with the certified copy of the award, a statement of the laws or regulations of the Commonwealth with which, in his opinion, it is not, or may not be, in accord.
  3. Tho Prime Minister shall, within fourteen days after its receipt, if the Parliament is then sitting, or if not then within fourteen days after the next meeting of the Parliament, cause the award, and the statement (if any) of the President, to be laid before both Houses of Parliament.
  4. If, before the award is laid before the’ Parliament, the Attorney-General advises the Prime Minister that, in his opinion, the award is not in accord with any law or regulation of the Commonwealth referred to in the opinion, the Prime Minister shall cause the opinion to be laid, together with the award, before both Houses of the Parliament.
  5. If, in the case of an award accompanied by such a statement of the President, or opinion of the Attorney-General, as is above referred to, either House of the Parliament, within 30 days after the award with the statement or opinion has been laid before both Houses, passes a resolution disapproving the award the award shall not come into operation.
  6. Except as provided in the last preceding subsection, but subject to the Constitution, the award shall, from the expiration of those thirty days or such later period as is specified in the award, have full force and effect notwithstanding the provisions of any law or regulation of the Commonwealth.

I invite honorable senators to ask themselves why that provision was inserted in the law. In the first place, the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration did not then, and does not now, possess the power, without restriction, to make any award that contravenes a law of the Commonwealth. There is a very good reason for that provision. The Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration is the creation of this Parliament. Parliament will not give to an authority which it has created a power greater than that possessed by itself. The position was that the Parliament had always had control of the Commonwealth Public Service, its salaries and its conditions of employment. It was now proposing to give to a court created by itself authority to alter and adjust those salaries and conditions of employment - a power that affected the public revenues and expenditure of the Commonwealth which ought to be within the control of Parliament. It was passing on to a body of its own creation a power which would affect the revenues and expenditure of the Commonwealth over which it is assumed to have control, and, therefore, Parliament said: “Although we give to you, the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, the power to make an award which may clash with or override a law which we have made, we retain to ourselves the right to disallow that award in so far as it transcends or cuts across any law or regulation of the Commonwealth.” Parliament did that in order that it should retain within its power the final determination of questions which would affect the revenues and expenditure of the Commonwealth. The obligation was placed upon the court itself to draw the attention of the Commonwealth Government, in the first place, and, through the Government, the attention of Parliament, to the fact that, in a particular award, it had made provisions which were inconsistent with a law or regulation of the Commonwealth. Parliament provided further that such an award, together with the statement, should be laid before both Houses to enable any member, if he thought fit, to move for its disallowance, and should not become operative until it had been before Parliament for- thirty days without such action having been taken. The only alteration made in the act of 1911 is that the limitation, which was placed upon the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, is transferred to the Commonwealth Public Service Arbitrator. From the time when the Public Service Arbitrator began to function, he has on numerous occasions given certificates to the Government to the effect that determinations made by him are in conflict with certain sections of an act or regulation under an act of Parliament. To one particular section of the Public

Service Act I think it convenient at this juncture to draw special attention. I refer to section 90, sub-section (3) of which states -

Payments of money to officers, other than for salaries or prescribed transfer or travelling allowances or expenses, or other prescribed allowances, shall be made only under the authority of the board.

I direct the attention of the Senate to the fact that that provision was not made by the Public Service Board, but by Parliament itself. It laid down in this act that the Public Service Board should be the only authority to make payments to officers in the way of allowances or expenses. When the Public Service Arbitrator came to deal with this particular case he cut across that provision which Parliament had deliberately made; and he draws attention to that fact in the certificate that he presents. He cites this particular section of the Public Service Act as one of those with which his determination is in conflict. In other words he says to Parliament, “ You provided in the Public Service Act that the Public Service Board should be the authority to decide the question of allowances, but in this determination which I have made I have taken the authority to make an allowance which the Public Service Board has not made and I direct your attention to it.”

Senator Kingsmill:

– Legislative power.

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCEYes, and he directs the attention of Parliament to it. The determination with that information is laid upon the table, and Parliament’s attention is invited to it. Now two courses are open to Parliament. It may if it pleases take no action. In that case it will have tacitly agreed to two things - to another authority, the Public Service Arbitrator, being set up to do these things, although it has said in the act that the Public Service Board shall be the authority to do them, and it will have agreed also to these particular determinations.

I stress this point again, because it is a most important one. The Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration does not have, and never has had the power to override or cut across any law or regula tion made by this Parliament or under the authority of this Parliament. I wish that fact to sink into the minds of my honorable friends opposite, because of the attempt that has been made to contrast the action of the Government in moving to disallow these determinations with the action of certain people outside in disobeying an award of the Arbitration Court. There is that vital difference between these two cases. The next point which I emphasize is that a determination of the Public Service Arbitrator is not an award at all until the procedure that I have mentioned has been observed. His determinations are entirely different from awards of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. Once the latter are given they immediately become operative. It is true that the court may say that an award shall operate from a date in advance of the day on which the award is given, but it is in all senses an operative award. The determinations of the Public Service Arbitrator are of two kinds. There are those that do not cut across any law or regulation of the Commonwealth, and those, like awards of the Arbitration Court, are effective when made. They are as a matter of practice laid on the table of Parliament for the information of the Parliament, but they are at once effective.

Senator O’Halloran:

– Cannot they be disallowed by Parliament just as it is proposed to do in this case?

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.No, not in the same way as determinations of the other class. The provision for the disallowance of determinations made under the Arbitration (Public Service) Act relates only to those which contravene some law or regulation of theCommonwealth.

Senator Daly:

– Is that notsomewhat begging the question.

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCENo, and the honorable senator will notaccuse me of having begged the question when I conclude my remarks. I am dealing with these two phases of the subject to show that there is a distinct difference between an award of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, such as that which should be operating in the timber industry to-day, and a determination of the Public Service Arbitrator which is in suspension until the procedure laid down in the act has been complied with. Parliament must be informed of these determinations. It is then for Parliament either to acquiesce in the determination by taking no action within the time fixed or to exercise the power it has reserved to itself, and disallow the award. There is that vital difference between the two classes of awards or determinations.

Senator Needham:

– How many determinations by the Public Service Arbitrator have clashed with a Commonwealth law or regulation under it?


– Fifty or sixty, or probably as many as 100.

Senator Needham:

– Have they all been disallowed?

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.No. The Government does not say that this award should be disallowed merely because it happens to clash with a law or regulation of the Commonwealth.

Senator Needham:

– Then what is the reason for its action ?


– I shall come to that presently. I am only saying now that where they so clash they are not awards until Parliament has been’ given the opportunity to declare its will - either by its silence or by taking definite action. There is, as I have said, that vital difference between the two kinds of awards. In this case the Public Service Arbitrator has drawn attention to the fact that his award does contravene, a law of the Commonwealth as well as a number of regulations. That brings us to consider how and by whom those regulations were made. I have already directed attention to section 90 of the Public Service Act. The regulations which have been contravened by the Arbitrator’s award were drafted in the first place by the Public Service Board, and by that body referred to the Government. Having received Cabinet consideration, they were presented to, and approved by the Governor-General in Council, after which they were laid before both Houses of Parliament. Thereupon, any member of Parliament had the right to move that they be disallowed. Unless Parliament exercises its right to disallow them, such regulations are tacitly accepted by Parliament. In that way do regulations generally receive the imprimatur of Parliament. To attempt to make it appear that for a government to ask Parliament to disallow a determination made by the Public Service Arbitrator, is to offend against the principles of arbitration, is, in my judgment, to exercise a very wide stretch of the imagination. The course of action taken by the Government was deliberately provided for in legislation introduced by a Labour government - the first government to give to the public servants of this country any right to arbitration at all. That Government apparently saw the necessity for some safeguard. This provision must have been inserted in the act for some definite purpose; and evidently the Government of that day foresaw that the time would arise when Parliament would need to exercise its prerogative.

Another dissimilarity between an award or determination of the Public Service Arbitrator and an award of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration is that in one case Parliament has deliberately provided for the right of appeal while in the other there is no appeal. It is true that on a point of law an appeal can be made to the High Court against an award of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration ; but there cannot be any appeal on the merits of the award. In that respect the court’s award is final. An award of the Public Service Arbitrator, however, is not final; Parliament has deliberately made itself the final court of appeal in such cases.

In order to examine this attempt to draw an analogy between the attitude of the Government in this case and the action of those who are defying an award of the Arbitration Court in connexion with the timber industry, let us assume that there is an appeal from an award of the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, that it is not final. In such circumstances, would honorable senators opposite utter one word of criticism of the members of the Timber Workers’ Union if they appealed against the finding of the court? Not only would they justify an appeal in such circumstances, but they would assist the union. In the case before us, the Government is simply exercising the power of appeal which Parliament itself has provided; and because it does so, it is said by some that its action is on all fours with that of those members of Parliament who are advising a section of the workers to break a law of the country. Surely those who speak thus experience difficulty in finding arguments.

Senator Needham:

– In the case referred to by the right honorable gentleman an applicant can get before the court, whereas the public servants affected by this award cannot appear before Parliament to present their case.


– The applicants who appeared before the Public Service Arbitrator were not the employees who would be affected by the granting of these allowances, but their representatives.

Senator Needham:

– Are they here now ?


– On the benches of the Senate sit representatives of the people of Australia. They, I feel sure, are capable of seeing that justice is done. The Government is appealing to Parliament as it has an undoubted right to do. It considers that these determinations of the Public Service Arbitrator should be disallowed, and it now asks Parliament to disallow them. Various reasons for the Government’s action could be given. First, the Government considers that it is unwise to have two authorities set up by Parliament to deal with the same matter. The question of allowances is complicated; it is not confined to any one portion of the Commonwealth, but affects the whole of Australia. It, therefore, calls for examination by an organisation which is in a position to make inquiries throughout the Commonwealth. The Public Service Board is in such a position. It has an organization specially framed to give it a full knowledge of the conditions of public servants throughout the Commonwealth. It has inspectors and officers in every State and can gather information as to the cost of living, the climatic conditions, and other matters in any portion of Australia. The Public Service Arbitrator has no such organization at his disposal. It is true that he can call witnesses; but they are generally interested persons who give ex parte evidence. The body which Parliament has set up to fix these allowances is much better equipped to deal with them than is the Public Service Arbitrator. For that reason the Government considers that the determination of allowances should be left to the Public Service Board.

Senator O’halloran:

– Does the Government maintain that its employees should have no right of appeal against the decisions of the Public Service Board?


– That matter is provided for in the Public Service Act. Every public servant has a right of appeal from a decision of the Public Service Board to another body upon which he is represented.

Other reasons advanced in support of this motion are that the determinations will cause confusion, and are unfair in their incidence to other public servants. I shall cite facts in support of those contentions. First of all it is “claimed that this is a cost of living allowance. The grounds upon which it has been granted are that certain public servants who were compulsorily transferred from Melbourne to the Federal Capital on the transfer of the central administrations of the various departments, were given a cost of living allowance, and therefore all others who are transferred from any other parts of the Commonwealth to Canberra for any reason should also receive that allowance. Let us examine that position. When it became apparent that the time had arrived to transfer the central administrations of the Parliament and the various departments from Melbourne to Canberra it was obvious that the officers of the departments concerned in the transfer were to be put not only to serious inconvenience, but also to considerable financial loss. The transfers of those departments followed as. an act of policy on the part of the Parliament, and the officers so transferred had either to come to Canberra or leave the service.

Representations were made to the Government through the various public service associations, and by members of Parliament from both sides, that some special provision should be introduced to compensate those compulsorily transferred. The Government and the Public Service Board examined the problem and were satisfied that the position was as stated, that the men compulsorily transferred would be subjected to considerable inconvenience and expense, and that some allowance should be made to them. The Public Service Board suggested an allowance, which was approved by the Government, a regulation providing for it was laid on the table and meeting with no dissent from Parliament, became law. Contrast those compulsory transfers with other transfers of public servants throughout Australia, to Canberra or elsewhere. Assume that the position of postmaster becomes vacant in some town in New South Wales. Every such position has a certain salary and grade attaching to it, and the officer vacating it probably moves up to another position with a higher salary and grade. The vacancy is filled either by some officer already of that grade and salary or, as more generally happens, by an officer of a lower grade and salary, which means for him promotion and an increase of salary. But there are certain places in the Commonwealth where district allowances are granted, because of the existence of three factors - remoteness, climatic conditions - such as exprienced in tropical areas - and excessive cost of living. As examples I mention Thursday Island, Broome, Eucla, in the Great Australian Bight, Darwin, and Cobar in New South Wales. In each of those districts one of those three factors exists, and public servants transferred to them receive a special district allowance. But it must be remembered that if an officer is called upon to transfer to such districts, he has the right of appeal. The transfer is not compulsory. A man living in Perth may receive a notification that he is to be transferred to Marble Bar, in the north-west of Western Australia. . He may appeal to the Public Service Board stating that he has a young family about to enter the secondary schools, and that it is proposed to transfer him to a centre where no facilities exist for the proper education of his children. The facts would be considered by .the board, and the vacancy might be filled by another appointee more suitably situated. Again, an officer may receive notice of transfer from the Victorian metropolis to some country town, and may appeal against it. If he advances sufficiently sound reasons against the transfer, the Public Service Board will not press it. Therefore, these officers are not compulsorily transferred. The acceptance of this award would import a new principle into our Public Service administration: the principle that allowances shall be governed by the cost of living. If that were accepted it would mean that if a man were transferred from Sydney to Canberra he would have to be paid an allowance, as the cost of living is greater in Canberra than in Sydney. Likewise, if he were transferred from, say, Dead Dog Valley to Sheoak Flat, and the cost of living was greater at Sheoak Flat, he would be entitled to receive an allowance.


– Does the honorable senator suggest that the Public Service Arbitrator fixes wages solely on the cost of living, and does not also take into consideration the amenities of a place or district?


– I am dealing not *with cost of living, but with special allowances.

Senator O’halloran:

– Is this not a wage allowance?


– No; it is based not on wages, but on the cost of living. Let me instance the confusion into which we ‘should be thrown if this principle were accepted. The following are some Victorian cities and towns, and their cost of living index numbers -

In St. Arnaud, which is not more than 200 miles from Melbourne, the cost of living is considerably more than in Melbourne, yet officers there do not receive any cost of living allowance. As a matter of fact, no cost’ of living allowance is paid anywhere in Victoria, notwithstanding the disparity that exists in the cost of living, as shown by the index figures I have just given. If the principle enunciated by the Public Service Arbitrator in these determinations were established, how could its application be resisted in any of these cases ? Again, the index number for Canberra is 1159 - lower than that of three of the Victorian towns I have named - yet, according to the determination of the Public Service Arbitrator, any officer transferred from Sydney to Canberra would receive £34 a year as a cost of living allowance, whereas, if he were transferred to St. Arnaud in Victoria, he would receive no allowance, although the cost of living would be greater there than here.

Senator O’Halloran:

– Do those index figures include house rents?

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.No. A special housing allowance is paid in Canberra.

There are many towns in New South Wales where the cost of living is higher than it is in Canberra. Whereas the index number for Canberra is 1159, for Blackheath it is 1232, Coonia 1233, Katoomba 1159, Kiama 1145, Nowra 1180, Port Kembla 1166, and for Queanbeyan, just on the border of the Territory, 1169. For Yass, which is close to the territory, if is 1149 and for Sydney 1129. There is no district allowance for the portion of New South Wales that surrounds the Federal Capital Territory, nor are postal officers given a district allowance in any of the towns within easy reach of the Territory. Although the index figure as to the cost of living in Cooma is 1233, compared with 1159 in Canberra, an officer transferred from Sydney to Canberra would under these determinations get £34 more than an officer transferred from Sydney to Cooma. Two postal officials on exactly the same grade and salary have been transferred within the last month or six weeks from district towns in New South Wales, the one to Canberra and the other to Queanbeyan. If the Public Service Arbitrator’s determinations stand the officer transferred to Canberra will get £34 a year more than the officer transferred to Queanbeyan, although according to the index figures, the cost of living in Queanbeyan is greater than it is in Canberra. If an allowance is to be paid on the basis of the cost of living one would think that it would be paid to the officer in Queanbeyan and not to the officer in Canberra.

Senator Daly:

– The index figures are not of much use if they are not comparable. Does the Queanbeyan figure include clothing and housing?

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The officer in Canberra, whether he has been compulsorily transferred or not, gets a housing allowance.

Senator Daly:

– Do the Statistician’s figures take into account the same items in both districts?

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.They do. In fact these figures were submitted in evidence when the case was before the Public Service Arbitrator and were not disputed. When the Arbitrator made his determinations he stated that the cost of living in Canberra was higher than in Sydney, and, assuming that all officers to whom the claims related were transferred to Canberra from Sydney, he granted an allowance for housing and cost of living. But that assumption of his was erroneous. More than 50 per cent. of the postal staffs, far from being compulsorily transferred from Sydney, come from provincial towns in New South Wales. Special allowances to meet the conditions of officers compulsorily removed from Melbourne to Canberra, if extended to’ all employees here, would create anomalies and place officers who receive no allowances in provincial towns of New South Wales and other States in an unfair position. The cost of living in Canberra, bearing in mind the fact that rental does not come into consideration, as all officers in Canberra receive a housing allowance, is not as high as in many towns in New South Wales. Acceptance of the determinations of the Public Service Arbitrator would involve an extension of the allowance system to those towns and to other localities throughout the Commonwealth, where, up to the present no allowance has been considered justifiable. There are no district allowance post offices in Victoria, although there are several towns, such as those I have mentioned, where the cost of living, exclusive of rentals, is higher than it is in Canberra. Of 422 post offices in New

South Wales, there are only 51 whose staffs receive a district allowance. The highest allowance payable is £40 per annum, and this amount applies to seven offices only. Tho allowance’ falls as low at £10 in some cases, whereas in Canberra it is £34 in all cases. There are offices in many towns in New South Wales, in which the cost of living, exclusive of rentals, is higher than in Canberra, but in respect of which no district allowance is payable. I refer to such places as Blackheath, Cooma, Nowra, Port Kembla and Queanbeyan. The present postmaster at Canberra was formerly postmaster at Coonamble. Immediately on his transfer to Canberra he received an increase in salary amounting to £54 per annum and, as is usual in such cases, he entered a higher grade. The- cost of living, exclusive of rental, is higher iu Coonamble, where he received a district allowance of £20 per annum, than it is in Canberra. Thus if the Public Arbitrator’s determinations stand although this officer was transferred from a town where the cost of living is higher than it is in Canberra, and although he received a promotion involving an increase in salary amounting to £54 per year, he will get an additional £34 per year as compensation for the alleged disadvantage he will suffer through his transfer to Canberra.

Senator Guthrie:

– It seems farcical.

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.It does. I am quite sure there is a great deal of misconception in the minds of the general public in regard to this matter, but I trust that when the real facts of the position are fully grasped, it will be seen that the Government had no other course than to adopt the action it is now taking.

Senator Guthrie:

– There has been a lot of misrepresentation of the facts.

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.There has been. The Government and the Public Service Board fully recognized that houses provided for public servants in Canberra cost an excessive amount. Owing to the determination to remove the Seat of Government from Melbourne to Canberra within a certain period, there was a rush to get the buildings erected in time, and the work had to be done at a time when labour and material costs were high.

The occupiers of the houses were not responsible for those excessive costs. They did not build the dwellings. They did not even have a voice in the letting of the contracts for them. In these circumstances, the Government and the Public Service Board made a uniform rental allowance, applicable to all Commonwealth officers in Canberra, whether they were compulsorily transferred or not. The rental position, therefore, does not enter into consideration in assessing the cost of living here. I feel confident that, with these facts before them, the Senate will agree to the motion for the disallowance of these determinations of the Public Service Arbitrator.

Debate (on motion by Senator Needham) adjourned.

page 356


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 15th February (vide page 310) on motion by Senator McLachlan. -

That the bill be now read a second time.

Senator NEEDHAM:
Western Australia

– As this is simply a machinery measure to fulfil the laudable object of extending to the territories of the Commonwealth, including the mandated territories, the same laws as obtain in other parts of the Commonwealth in relation to designs, I have no objection to offer to the second reading.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate.

Report adopted.

page 356


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 15th February (vide page 309) on motion by Senator McLachlan. -

That the bill be now read a second time.

Senator NEEDHAM:
Western Australia

– I do not intend to discuss this bill at any great length, because when a similar measure was before us towards the end of the last Parliament, I dealt with it in detail. With one or two slight alterations, the bill is the same as that which lapsed last session. It is to these alterations I shall confine my remarks. When the bill of last session was introduced I said that it was not before its time, because the Commonwealth lagged very much behind the States in respect to this class of legislation. I pointed out that every State in the Commonwealth had workmen’s compensation laws vastly in advance of the Commonwealth act. I alluded to the fact that, even in the case of conservative Great Britain, legislation had passed the House of Commons to award compensation for injuries received in the industrial battle field whether the result was partial or total incapacity, or unfortunately, death, and that such legislation was much ahead of the law on the statute-book of this youngest member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Yet we boast that in regard to social legislation we are in advance of the rest of the world!

When the original bill was before us towards the end of last year the Government saw fit to reject certain amendments that were moved by honorable senators who sit on this side of the chamber. It gives me pleasure to find that the majority of those are included in this measure. We all know perfectly well that one of the first essentials to industrial peace in the Commonwealth is the contentment of the worker. In the election campaign of 1925, the Prime Minister said that one of the main causes of industrial unrest was the everpresent dread which haunted the workers, of the privation and suffering that would be brought upon their dependants in the event of their being stricken down by sickness. That can be easily understood. The worker knows not from day to day when he may be stricken down by injury in the occupation which he follows or incapacitated as a result of disease contracted by him while engaged thus. He is ever anxious as to what will befall those who are dependent upon him during the period of his incapacity, and more especially as to what the consequences are likely to be should the accident or illness end fatally. Therefore, it is imperative that legislation of this description should be so framed as to either remove that dread entirely or, if that is not possible, at least give him some sense of security, so that, should he be stricken down, those who are dependent upon him will not be left penniless. The Government of the Commonwealth should set an example in this regard. The statute-books of the States contain workmen’s compensation acts which, in many cases, are in advance of even that which is now proposed by the Commonwealth. The measure that was brought down in 1928, I admit, was markedly in advance of the act passed in 1912. An attempt was then made to get into line with the times. The desire- of honorable senators who sit on this side was that we should be ahead of the times. Although the Government has embodied in this measure certain of our suggestions, I still think that, by comparison with State legislation, we are behind the times. I refer particularly to the question of compensation in the event of death, and, in the case of some of the States, the weekly p’ayments for total or partial incapacity.

One of the most contentious subjects dealt with during the debate that took place last year was, whether or not the bill should provide for the payment of compensation in respect to occupational diseases. I had the honour to move an amendment in an endeavour to have embodied in that measure a second schedule providing for compensation for certain occupational diseases. It was my wish that we should make provision similar to that which is made in the West Australian act. . But the Minister who had charge of that measure (Senator McLachlan), on behalf of the Government, declined to accept any such amendment. I am glad that the Government has now reached a better frame of mind, and realizes that amendments which emanate from this side of the chamber are not wild or rabid, but that, on the contrary, they are reasonable. We believed that our request that provision should be made for occupational diseases was a reasonable one; but the Minister contended that there was no need for the Commonwealth to embark on that larger field. He said : -

The matter was investigated by officers of the Department of Health, to see if there was any need for provision to be made in the direction he then suggested, and in a most exhaustive report which was furnished, it was stated that -

Provision in the bill for certain occupational diseases is of little moment, because there arc practically no Commonwealth employees subject to such diseases. The only branch where such disease might occur is the serum laboratory, and the only instance which appears to have arisen is in connexion with some cases of pneumonic influenza during the 1910 epidemic.

He went on to say -

I have also discussed the subject with the Minister for Health (Sir Neville Howse) who is of the opinion that there is no justification for the inclusion of a schedule such as tlie

Leader of the Opposition suggests…..

I ask honorable senators not to load the measure with matter which may be of little or no use.

Yet despite the report of the officers of the Department of Health, and the statement of the Minister for Health, the second schedule to this measure makes provision for about 80 per cent, of those occupational diseases for which I then wished to provide. ‘One or two others should also be included, and in committee I shall move in that direction. Provision is made for arsenic, phosphorous, lead,, mercury, or other mineral poisoning; poisoning by benzol, homologues or their nitro and amido derivatives (dimitrobenzol, anilin and others) ; poisoning by carbon bisulphide ; and a number of other occupational diseases. We on this side can at least claim that in the period that has elapsed since the measure was previously before the Senate the Government has recognized the necessity which we then stressed of making provision, for occupational diseases.

It is not customary in a second-reading speech to deal in detail with any measure ; but there is one clause which appeared in the bill of 1928 and also finds a place in this measure, to which I must refer. That is clause 18, which provides for the reduction of compensation where a pension . is payable under the Superannuation Act. I consider that that clause ought not to have been included. I want the Superannuation Act to stand alone in its relation to the Workmen’s Compensation Act, just as the War Pensions Act stands alone in relation to the Invalid and Old Age Pensions Act. The income derivable from one should not be used as a set-off against the income derivable from the other. Let me assume that an employee of the Commonwealth is killed during the course of his employment. Under the provisions of this measure his widow would be entitled to a compensation payment of £700. Let me assume further that the capitalized value of the pension the widow would be entitled to receive under the provisions of the Superannuation Act would be £200. This measure cannot have the effect of reducing the amount to which the widow would be entitled under the Superannuation Act. It is, therefore, proposed to reduce the amount of £700 by a sum equal to one-half of the capitalized value of the Superannuation payment. - which, on the figures I have given, would mean a reduction of £100. Thus the widow would receive £600 plus £200 instead of £700 and £200. A similar principle is to be applied to the weekly payments. Paragraph a of clause 18 states -

In the case where the injury causes tlie death of the employee and he leaves a widow, the total amount of compensation that would be payable in accordance with the First Schedule to this act, and also the share of that total amount which would be so payable to the widow, shall he reduced by an amount equal to the capitalized value at the date of the death of the employee of one-half of the pension payable to the widow under the said act.

Similar words are used in paragraph b, which deals with the weekly payments in the event of total and permanent incapacity. The widow of this employee has contributed to the superannuation fund, through her husband, and as the result of such contributions she has perhaps denied herself some of the comforts and recreations of life, in the hope that in the event of being left a widow she would be in a position to care properly for herself and children. Now the Government says to her: “No, you will not receive the total amount to which the Workmen’s Compensation Act entitles you. We shall deduct 50 per cent, of that, because of the money to which you are entitled under the Superannuation “ Act.” That is not equitable, and it is a direct tax on thrift. Let us compare the attitude of the Government to this matter with that adopted by it on other occasions to pensions. We have made legislative provision for pensions for judges of the High Court upon their retirement. The pensions amount to half their salary, and in some cases the payment is as much as £40 u week. If members of the High Court deserve those pensions because they made monetary sacrifices when they relinquished their practice at the bar in order to go on the bench, is it right to tax the widow and children of the unfortunate employee who may lose his life while in the service of the Government? Our compensation law should stand alone, and so also should our Superannuation Act. Shortly after the War Pensions Act was introduced it was customary for persons who had availed themselves of the provisions of the Invalid and Old Age Pensions Act to have set off against the amount of their pensions the money received under the War Pensions Act. As time went on that deduction was recognized to be wrong, and an alteration was made. We are now starting out to improve our workmen’s compensation law, and I recognize that this bill represents a great advance from the 1912 measure; but if clause 18 remains it will be a blot upon our legislation. I ask the Minister to think seriously about the abolition of this provision. When the bill reaches the committee stage it will be carefully considered by the Opposition, who, without any desire to embarrass the “Minister, will endeavour to include one or two additional provisions.

Senator DALY:
South Australia

– I did not intend to speak on the second reading of this, bill, but I find it desirable at this stage to refer to certain alterations, which I consider should be made. I refer the Minister to clause 6, and I invite him and the Senate to consider workmen’s compensation as we know it in Australia. The growth of our workmen’s compensation law, both statutory and judicial, is a most fascinating study, and it will be regrettable if this national Parliament places in this measure something which no other British Parliament would attempt to justify. This clause takes away from the workmen the right of having his grievances inquired into by a judicial tribunal absolutely removed from the control and influence of Parlia ment. It is proposed to vest in the Commissioner, a public servant, appointed by a Minister, the right of deciding not only the nature but the extent of the employee’s injuries, and the amount of compensation to which he is entitled. The Minister may tell us that against that decision there is an appeal, the appeal being to a tribunal exercising County Court jurisdiction ; but I invite honorable senators to consider the powers of this Commissioner. Imagine the prospects of upsetting his decision before any appellate tribunal. Sub-clause (3) of clause G states -

In the determination of matters and questions, the commissioner shall be guided by equity, good conscience and the substantial merits of the case, without regard to technicalities or legal precedent and shall not be bound by any rules of evidence.

If it had been the intention of the Government to create a chaotic state of affairs in connexion with our compensation system, it could not have invented a more effective provision than that: In the light of the opinions of authorities such as Willis, and others, I appeal to the Minister to ask himself whether it is fair to place this blot upon our system of workmen’s conpensation, in which Australia has led the world. I ask him to hesitate before allowing this clause to become part of the statute law of the country. There are other matters to which I could address myself, but I propose to reserve them for the committee stage of the bill. I suggest that the Minister should agree to the adjournment of the debate in order that the matter which I have raised might be considered. If this clause became law it would make the position of the responsible Minister himself intolerable. Whatever party was in power, the rights of the workman would not be dependent, as they are to-day, on the judicial interpretation of the statutory laws of this country but would depend on the caprice and whim of the particular public servant who might be appointed by the Minister to the office of commissioner.

Honorary Minister · South Australia · NAT

– Apparently, after the thorough examination that the bill received during last session, honorable senators are satisfied to allow it to go into committee. I should like to remind the

Leader of the Opposition that while he may lay the flattering unction to his soul that the efforts of the party opposite are responsible for the proposed amendment in regard to occupational diseases, honorable senators on this side of the chamber assisted in the matter. It will be recollected that Senator Greene and another honorable senator on this side pointed out to the Minister, who always welcomes suggestions for the improvement of legislation, particularly when they are backed by common sense, that one department which deals with meat inspection and in which the employees sometimes contract anthrax, had apparently been overlooked. The Leader of the Opposition will recollect that I undertook that while the measure was passing through the other branch of the legislature, a further examination would be made under this heading. I do not wish the Leader of the Opposition to have the idea that this alteration is due entirely to the exertion of himself and his party. The reports that I had before me when introducing the bill pointed to the fact that there was no necessity for the amendment to which reference has been made, and the point mentioned first of all by Senator Greene in regard to anthrax, opened up a new line of investigation. I am afraid I shall not be able to yield to the wishes of the Leader of the Opposition for the deletion of clause 18. As to clause 6, I point out to Senator Daly, whom I was glad to hear to-day for the first time in this chamber, but from whom we shall no doubt hear a good deal in the future, that this provision has been inserted with a view to assisting in the administration of workmen’s compensation. The number of cases that come forward for compensation in the Commonwealth service are remarkably few, and the Government desires to adopt a simple method of procedure. The Secretary to the Treasury is quite independent of ministerial influence. I am glad that the measure has been so well received by the Senate.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In committee:

Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.

Clause 4 (Definitions).

South Australia

– If this clause, which contains a definition of commissioner, is agreed to in its present form, will it preclude an amendment being made later to give effect to the suggestion just made by Senator Daly to provide for a different basis of administration from that set out in clause 6?

Senator McLACHLAN:
Honorary Minister · South Australia · NAT

. - In the event of the Senate agreeing to the suggestion of Senator Daly, I undertake to move for the recommittal of this clause.

Senator NEEDHAM:
Western Australia

– This clause gives the following definition of “ County Court “ : - “ County Court “ means a county court, district court, or local court of any State, or territory being part of the Commonwealth, or any court exercising in any part of the Commonwealth a limited civil jurisdiction and presided over by a judge or a police stipendiary or special magistrate.

As in Western Australia there is no county court, would any of its courts of limited jurisdiction come within the definition of “ County Court “.

Senator McLACHLAN:
Honorary Minister · South Australia · NAT

– The language of the clause is sufficiently wide to cover all courts. In Western Australia the judges or magistrates of the local courts would have jurisdiction.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Progress reported.

page 360


Debate resumed from 15th February (vide page 318), on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce -

That the paper be printed.

Senator PAYNE:

– This motion provides honorable senators with an opportunity to express their views regarding the important document which was signed in Paris in August of last year. Every one who has the interests of the world at heart must welcome any action along the lines taken by Mr. Kellogg in framing that document. The older a man becomes the more he is convinced not only that the settlement of disputes among the nations by means of war is barbarous, but that the effects of war are so far reaching, even among non-combatant nations, that every effort towards world peace is more than justified. The Minister, in moving his motion, said that there were fifteen signatories to the Treaty, representing the following countries : - Germany, United States of America, Belgium, France, Great Britain and the British Dominions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Irish Free State and India, and Italy, Japan, Poland and Czecho- Slovakia.

While in Europe in August last, I had an opportunity of attending a most important conference at Berlin at which the Kellogg Pact was discussed. It may interest honorable senators to know that at that conference, which was held under the auspices of the InterParliamentary Union, 505 delegates were present. They represented the following 38 countries: The Union of South Africa, Germany, United States of America, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, Danzig, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Esthonia, Finland, France, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, British India, Dutch Indies, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lativia, Norway, Holland, Peru, Poland, Roumania, Yugoslavia, San Salvador, Sweden, Switzerland, CzechoSlovakia, and Uruguay. For the first time, Australia was represented at the conference of the nations.

Senator Sir George Pearce:

– Not officially.

Senator PAYNE:

– I was there at the request and on the nomination of the British group as the representative of Australia. The representatives of the nations at the conference, although not appointed by any government, were, however, representatives of the people of the countries from which they came.

Senator Sir George Pearce:

– They were not appointed by the parliaments of those countries.

Senator PAYNE:

– No, but that does not detract from the importance of the conference. All the representatives present at the conference recognized that they were in fact, the representatives of the people of the several nations. Later, I shall deal with the formation of the

Inter-parliamentary Union. I have mentioned the representative nature of the conference to indicate how widespread is the feeling towards world peace.

Senator Hoare:

– How did the honorable senator get there?

Senator PAYNE:

– The honorable senator heard what I said, and I shall, therefore, not repeat my remarks. I desire to make my contribution to this important debate without heat, and I hope that I shall have the opportunity to do so. I consider it a great honour to have been associated with the representatives of so many nations in discussing matters of such importance to the world. The conference I attended was not the first of the kind. It was the twenty-fifth gathering of the Inter-Parliamentary Union of the world. That gathering unanimously, and amidst great applause, resolved to send the following telegram to Paris -

The twenty-fifth Inter-Parliamentary Conference, composed of the elected representatives of 38 countries, sends a sincere greeting in the name of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, to the authors of the Pact condemning war - Messrs. Kellogg and Briand - and to the other representatives of States who will to-day solemnly sign that treaty. It expresses the hope that every other State will adhere to the document. Already at its twenty-second conference in Bern in 1924 the Union proclaimed the principle of the outlawry of war. It considers that one of its chief tasks will now he to work in favour of the complete embodiment of that high principle in international relations and in the legislation and policy of every country. (Sgnd. ) Lange, Secy. General. (Sgnd.) Schucking, Presdt.

The following reply was received from M. Briand, and was read to the conference on Tuesday morning, 28th August -

I greatly appreciate the message sent by you to-day, to all the signatories of the general pact for the renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy and I thank you in the name of my colleagues as well as in my own for associating the Inter-Parliamentary Conference with an international demonstration whose strength must be based on the sentiments of all the people if it is to contribute efficaciously to the maintenance of peace. I note with profound satisfaction that the Inter-Parliamentary Union intends in the future to work for the application of all the principles which are at the base of the covenant signed to-day in Paris.

Mr. Kellogg’s reply reached Berlin too late to be read before the conference, but it was communicated to the InterParliamentary Council at its meeting held on the following day, 29th August. It was as follows : -

I have received your very complimentary message and assure you it is deeply appreciated. Please extend my thanks to the International Union and express my sincere hope that all nations will adhere to it.

Frank B. Kellogg

The attitude adopted by the conference in unanimously carrying such a resolution, is an indication that in every country there are men who are intensely interested in this latest move for peace; and the members of the conference will, on their return to their own countries, bring the subject before their countrymen in an impassioned and enthusiastic way. By such action they will help appreciably the successful carrying out of the objects of the League of Nations. That is something for which we should be greatly thankful. My visit to Europe has imbued me with the desire to awaken enthusiasm in my fellow men in the cause of peace. I deprecate the allusions that are frequently made to what is alleged to be the comparative failure of the League of Nations to date, and I shall deal with that matter later, when I have the opportunity. The necessity for world peace appealed to me most strongly when I and my wife took the opportunity to visit the devastated war areas of France and Belgium. Nothing could more strongly bring before one the realities of war than such a visit. I was fortunate enough to have as a guide a most excellent officer who piloted me over some 240 miles from Bruges down to the Somme and back again, zig-zagging along the Allies main line of defence. We first visited Ypres, inspected the Menin Gate; then Passchendaele Ridge and Armentieres, worked down through Arras, Albert, Corbie and Bray-sur-Somme. The Menin Gate, a wonderful memorial, is but a short distance from Ypres, and it stands as a fitting memorial to remind us of our obligations to those who died for us. On the walls of that wonderful structure, which is of granite, are cut the names of 55,000 men who were accounted missing in that area. Thence we went to

Passchendaele Ridge, only three and a half miles distant as the crow flies. There we had the privilege or inspecting the Tyne Cot cemetery. In passing, I wish to record the great debt that we owe to the War Graves Commission. No relative could exercise over the grave of the dear departed a more loving care than that lavished upon the graves of our men by the commission. Every grave is beautifully kept and the cemetery generally is a picture. In that cemetery lie the remains of 11,000 brave Britishers, while, at the rear of the cemetery, are inscribed on the wall, the names of 35,000 men whose bodies were not recovered in that area. These two account for more than 100,000 men. From the Passchendaele Ridge one overlooks some 20 to 25 cemeteries, all situated with an area of a few miles. And we saw similar cemeteries throughout our tour of the battlefields. Surely a visit to that hallowed spot is sufficient to make any man an enthusiastic supporter of a world’s peace movement. I realized fully the awful sacrifice of life that had been made for me and the people of the British Empire generally, and felt that no effort should be spared to impress upon the rising generation of this country its obligation to those brave men who died for us. Those areas are to be revered for all time. I could continue in this strain for an hour, but I shall refrain from doing so. I merely mention the matter as a strong reason why the Kellogg Pact should be accepted by all nations.

Senator PAYNE:

– Possibly, but I shall not touch upon such a contentious subject.

Senator Guthrie:

– I am confident that the honorable senator was proud that he was a Britisher.

Senator PAYNE:

– Very sincerely so. As I said last week nothing excited my admiration more during my visit to Britain, than the efforts of British manufacturers and workmen, operating under terrific handicaps, to regain the trade lost by Great Britain during the war. My tour made me prouder than ever that I came from such stock.

I feel sure that Mr. Kellogg and his associates have introduced this Peace Pact in. all earnestness, but I was very uneasy when I read the following statements, which were made at San Antonio, Texas, on 11th October last: -

Peace With Preparedness Theme at American Legion.

Long Applause Greets Speakers Advocating Permanent Peace, Adequate Defence. [By Associated Press]

San Antonio, Texas, Oct. 11. - Peace with preparedness was the theme of addresses by three distinguished speakers at the American Legion National convention Wednesday.

Prolonged applause greeted Major Georges Scapini, of France; Secretary of War, Dwight F. Davis, and WilliamR. Green, president of the American Federation of Labor, as they advocated universal permanent peace and adequate national defence.

The most prolonged and sincere ovation the delegates have given any one to date, greeted the eloquent plea for peace which Major Scapini delivered as a message from the French Chamber of Deputies.

In a strange tongue, which he learned for this speech, from notes printed in the Braille system, Major Scapini spoke so effectively and so intensely that he was interrupted again and again, and the demonstration at the end of his speech lasted ten minutes.

A promise that the administration does not contemplate any weakening of the national defence because of the recently signed anti-war treaties was given by Secretary of War Dwight F. Davis, in an address in which he praised the purpose and the statesmanship of the documents. “As Secretary of War,” he said, “I know the great value of the support which has been given by the American Legion to our national defence. Desirous of peace, you nevertheless have realized that we must not jeopardize our heritage of liberty during our search for a panacea for war. Therefore, you will wish to know that your efforts have not been misdirected. The government does not intend that there should be any weakening of the national defence as a result of these treaties.

National defence is to be commended. No one can, with impunity, leave his house unbarred and unbolted. He must protect his possessions and those who are dear to him. But the advantages of a universal peace are so great that one feels alarmed when the chance of their acceptance is jeopardized by an over-zealous attention to national defence. I support with all my heart the motion, “That the paper be printed,” because I regard it as an intimation thatwe are at one with those who are anxious to do all they can to assist in preventing war and in ensuring the future peace of the world.

Senator McLACHLAN:
Honorary Minister · South Australia · NAT

– I am sure that honorable senators will forgive me for interposing in this debate as a second string to the Ministerial bow. I had the honour to be the plenipotentiary of the Commonwealth at the signing of the Kellogg Pact, and I deem it a duty, not only to myself but also to my country, to express the opinion I formed of the occasion in the hope that it may lead honorable senators to give some thought to what is taking place in the great world outside. If my words serve no other purpose I shall be amply satisfied. It is a cold motion to which we are asked to speak - “ That the paper be printed.” It begets none of those emotions which should characterize a debate of this nature. It does nothing more than record, so far as Australia is concerned, the terms of the Kellogg Pact, signed on the 2’7th August last at Paris. But to my mind there is behind it all something that should appeal to us in this period of very rapid evolution through which civilization is passing. We are at last awakening to the responsibilities we owe to posterity. We have never had in the past any concerted effort on the part of the “nations to provide machinery or practical means of trying to avert for ever the tragedy of war as a means of settling international disputes or of overcoming the combatative instinct to which Senator Lynch referred. It is manifest that it is the intrusion of the League of Nations into the domain of higher politics, and humanitarian work among the nations, that has rendered possible the drawing up and execution of the Kellogg Pact.

It was out of the travail of war that the League of Nations sprang. The souls of a million dead cried aloud to us to guard the world in future against such a holocaust as took place between 1914 and 1918. The Kellogg Pact, which is not something to be discussed in the cold terms we are obliged to employ in the motion, “ That the paper be printed.” has been said to be a gesture. It is more than that; it is a revolution. Throughout the centuries judicial decisions have built up a complete body of law dealing with war. Under existing legislation prize courts are established and all the necessary legal machinery is available should civilized peoples spring at each other’s throats in an attempt to destroy each other and annihilate all that is brightest and most courageous among the respective nations engaged in the combat. But surely at this period of our civilization we who boast of our advancement and of our evolution as a human race must realize that we owe something to posterity for whom after all we are only trustees. Our actions to-day and our legislative efforts are only matters of fleeting moment. Civilization is slowly realizing that it owes it to posterity to do something to guard against such an awful period as was experienced from 1914 to 1918. It was, as I say, out of the travail of that period that the League of Nations sprang. The League was intended to accomplish something towards securing the world’s peace. I think it has succeeded. At any rate it has succeeded up to date in keeping the peace of the world, and but for the spirit that animates the League itself, suggested as we know it was by the head of the great American race, the Kellogg Pact, this evolution in our international system of jurisprudence, would never have come before the people of the world for consideration. Apart from all the other effective work done by the League of Nations the fact that it has made this great gesture possible - if we are content to call it a gesture in the light of what I have said - is a tribute to the League itself. But behind it all there is something that deserves the closest consideration and study of every public man and politician. If the sentiment of the people of the United States of America is rightly interpreted by some honorable senators who have spoken, this pact is a deception and snare, but in my opinion it was public opinion in the United States of America that brought it into existence. By far the greater number of visitors to the Assembly of the League of Nations, which I attended last year, came from the United States of America.

Senator Needham:

– Would it not be better if the United States of America joined the League of Nations ?

Senator McLACHLAN:

– I will come to that point if I may. The question for the moment is whether this pact is a gesture by Mr. Kellogg aloneor by his government, or a gesture of the American people as a whole. I say that it is the latter, and that the sentiment of the American people as a whole has forced the pact on the public men of their country.

Senator Payne:

– Oh, no.

Senator McLACHLAN:

– The attendance of the people of the United States of Amercia at the recent Assembly of the League of Nations, and the interest they exhibited in the proceedings left no doubt in my mind that there was a great body of public opinion in America favorable to the return of the United States of America to the League of Nations as a full member.

Senator Foll:

– It is satisfactory to hear that.

Senator McLACHLAN:

– It is satisfactory to every man who would like to see the League brought to full fruition, because, as it was put during the debate on disarmament, the fact that the two great nations of the United States of America andRussia stood out of the League constituted a menace to the peace of the world and rendered it impossible for the people who were agreeable to a reduction of armaments to come to a definite conclusion as to what they should do.

This pact is not a gesture; it is a revolution which will lead to some very definite move in the United States of America with reference to its future attitude towards the League of Nations. It is not for us in this chamber to criticize the United States of America at this moment, but I have not read of any body of public men or politicans who have been more subtle in connexion with this peace move than the Americans. I take the talk about the increase in the number of cruisers with a grain of salt; because I think things are heading at the present moment rather better than they have been for a considerable time past towards that time when America will be standing side by side with the civilized nations of Europe in an endeavour to substitute something for war.

Senator Payne:

– The Honorary Minister is an optimist.

Senator McLACHLAN:

– If we are not optimists in this matter what hope have we for the future of our civilization? Are the white people to go down by flying at each others throats as they did from 1914 to 1918? I believe that the white races represent the highest and finest civilization the world has ever seen. I believe in the process of evolution. But if we continue on the mad path of racial suicide, who will replace us in the future ? Honorable senators must remember that on the conclusion of the Great War they feared seriously that civilization might not really win out. We know that it was rocking on its foundations. If we are to allow another such . convulsion with the use of all the scientific weapons for the destruction of human life that can be employed, I tremble to think of the future. One should not be pessimistic when peace is concerned. The combative instinct referred to by Senator Lynch is one that we ought to be able to control. A man in his fiery youth when, as Senator Lynch put it, the “fizz” is in his blood, is a somewhat different human being from the man who has reached maturer years. The honorable senator drew on his knowledge of medicine to show that nature itself provides for warfare within the human frame. I suggest to the honorable senator that he is not quite correct. It is true that nature always comes to the aid of the human being and rushes organisms to the wound inflicted, but the organisms that injure the human frame come from without and not from within. There is every reason for supposing that in the process of time - it may be a long, lonely path some of the races in the world will have to pursue - this ideal may be reached. We know, of course, that it is an ideal, but it is one that is worth while in the interests of our race.

Senator Needham:

– Would not the “Kellogg Pact be more effective if America were not building more cruisers?

Senator McLACHLAN:

– I have endeavoured to indicate what is in my mind, as directly as I think it would be wise for me to do. I repeat now that I said at Geneva : What, after all, is disarmament? I remind honorable senators that it is not the power, but the will, to do ill deeds that makes ill deeds done. If the people of America have a right conception of what is their sacred duty to the future, it matters not how many cruisers that nation possesses. Notwithstanding all that has been said to the contrary, Great Britain has been and continues to be the greatest factor in maintaining the peace of the modern world. Considerations relating to her own safety and the welfare of the vast dominions that are associated with her make it impossible for her to step into the ring, as some would wish, and to say, “ We shall strip ourselves of this, and do away with that.” My forebears in the north of Scotland probably fought like naked savages. It is not a question of disarmament, but of altering the psychology of the peoples of the world so that they will view this matter in its true perspective. This pact is a gesture in that direction. The spirit which underlies it is the spirit that has always actuated France’s great Foreign Minister, M. Briand, to whose eloquence I had the pleasure of listening at the League of Nations, when in the strongest possible terms he denounced wars of aggression. At Geneva I heard the pact described as the Kellogg-Briand Pact, the pact of Paris, and finally as the Briand-Kellogg Pact. The mind of this man is more subtly attuned to the best means for obtaining some measure of world peace than is that of probably any other human being. He had previously endeavoured to secure the accomplishment of this ideal ; but it was the pressure of American public opinion that brought it to fruition through the person of Mr. Kellogg. How was this gesture received at Geneva? Honorable senators may be interested to learn that when the Kellogg Pact was executed a certain section of the European press, which either did not believe in or was definitely hostile to the League of Nations, endeavoured to use it as a weapon against the League, saying how much Kellogg could accomplish with a stroke of the pen and what little work the League had done compared with the amount of talk that was indulged in at its meetings. It appeared to me that the League’s conception of its function was so great, and its standing in public esteem so high, that it could afford to welcome the Kellogg Pact, or any other pact of a similar character, adherence to which by the nations of the world could be obtained. At the opening of the Assembly the President of the League delivered himself as follows: -

We greet the new treaty as a triumph for the cause, of peace and for our faith in the future of the League. The treaty is a great and precious help to us in our work, a new encouragement to press forward to success. Proof that the ideas upheld in this Assembly arc everywhere approved is furnished by this unanimous desire to register a solemn declaration, the same desire which, last year, was boldly embodied in the resolution - adopted on the proposal of the Polish delegation - condemning wars of aggression.

He might have added that it was the same arrangement that M. Briand had outlined three years previously. Then M. Politis, the representative of Greeceone of the most skilled advocates in international jurisprudence it would be possible to find - made the following observations : -

It filled the most important of the gaps in the Covenant of the League. It filled up the breach in Article 15, paragraph 6,- of the Covenant, and transformed into a positive law the fundamental principle of the Protocol of Geneva of 1024, namely, the prohibition of what had always been called in that Assembly the war of aggression.

He went on to say -

For the first time in the history of humanity, States had agreed to renounce war as a resort to force in order to push their claims. They consented to abandon what had hitherto been regarded as the most essential prerogative of sovereignty. This was more than a great innovation in international morality. It was a real revolution, and certain consequences of that revolution deserved to be noted.

Those are men who speak on behalf of Europe. I have already said that M. Briand is the most alert and, probably, the best-informed man, concerning peace, in Europe. For centuries his nation has lived under the shadow of impending wars. Shortly after the Kellogg Pact was signed, the fact was broadcast throughout France, and it was acclaimed in Paris on the anniversary of the signing of the armistice. It was said that, for the first time for centuries, the people of France now felt free. “We, in Australia, have enjoyed the security that arises from the fact that 12,000 miles of ocean separate us from the centre of hostilities, and we have also had the protection of the greatest navy the world has ever known. “We have not been subject to disturbing influences such as those that are begotten by the fact that your neighbour is sharpening his knife to deal with you, intriguing against you, plotting against you, using diplomatic means to bring about certain conditions for which he contends. That, however, has been the position of France for centuries. She has been the cockpit of Europe. Well might her people, taking the Kellogg Pact at its face value, exclaim, “For the first time for centuries we feel free.” M. Briand, the mouthpiece of France, dealt with the Kellogg Pact in a speech which had a vein of sarcasm, but at the same time was characterized by a good deal of sincerity. Referring to one European country, he said -

It was the country which was ready to make the most impressive theatrical gesture for the disarmament of the rest, and it desired that disarmament should be unreserved, complete and absolute. The signature of that country had been affixed to the Pact of Paris. It had. renounced war. What war? Was it merely war without further explanation, war which had in tlie past bespattered with blood almost every page of the history of the peoples? Was it war which under the impetus of national aspiration caused one country to attack another? That war had been condemned. But there was another kind of war which had not, it appeared, been condemned in the same manner. The country to which he was alluding regarded that sort of war as a holy war, whereby, believing itself the standard-bearer of the truth for all the peoples, it would be brought to employ its might throughout the world in order to impose that truth upon them. Was that war less heinous than any other? It might be so. But its effects upon those countries which withstood it or attempted to withstand it would be none the less terrible and bloody.

He concluded a magnificent oration by saying-

It was therefore an urgent duty to associate the peoples in the action of the League, and to bid them be of confidence.

Whatever may have been the power which moved the Government of the United States of America and Mr. Kellogg to bring about the execution of this pact, I am convinced that there is in America a great body of public opinion which is behind the gesture for which the pact stands.

Senator Thompson:

– I hope that the honorable senator is right in that belief.

Senator McLACHLAN:

– I hear a pessimistic voice behind me. Pessimism will not enable us to get anywhere. I am a pretty hard-headed Scotchman in matters such as this. I spring from a hot-blooded race that quarrelled and fought for centuries. But can any human being today justify war, and say that it is the right means for the settlement of disputes between civilized peoples? It is unthinkable; it is wrong. However little progress the League of Nations may have made so far, it has stood for a great deal which it is the duty of every public man to support so far as the safety of his nation will permit him to do so. We find men like M. Briand, the President of the League of Nations, and others, standing four square in an endeavour to secure a measure of relief for humanity. I ask honorable senators to try to look just a little beneath the surface, to show a little forbearance towards their great white brethren across the Pacific, to remember that this Kellogg Pact emanated from them, even though the spirit which underlies it was breathed at the Assembly of the League of Nations.

Senator Lynch:

– The League of Nations kept the peace fire burning.

Senator McLACHLAN:

– We who desire the peace of the world should take a serious view of our responsibilities to posterity, and should not do anything that might prevent our great American brethren from taking .their proper place in the League of Nations. Carping criticism will not do any good. They have the money, they have the population. If it is their wish to continue to arm, let them arm. But there will be a day of reckoning for any government that acts in defiance of the wishes of the great American people. If I have diagnosed the Kellogg Pact aright, it emanated from the hearts pf the people of America, and it had to be given expression by Mr. Kellogg and the party which was in power at the time.

If I have spoken somewhat heatedly, it is because I stand for the world’s peace and wish to do everything I can to help in the consummation of that ideal. The Kellogg Pact came upon us suddenly. I did not know when I left Australia that I should be asked to do anything in connexion with it, but before I reached the Old World I observed that arrangements had been made for its execution in August. It is interesting to us Aus tralians, far removed as we are from the centre of world affairs, to hear the way in which this pact was received by the older, and perhaps more subtle nations. Paris accepted the pact with great solemnity. It regarded the date fixed for its execution as a gala day, and observed the occasion with as much ceremony as possible in order to make it impressive. The people of Paris hailed it as a day of freedom. Those who wish to see the peace of the world secured without those horrors with which some members in both branches of this legislature are acquainted - horrors which caused some of the most courageous to have lumps in their throats, when in the late war they called upon their troops to “ hop over “ - would have been delighted with the reception that Dr. Stresemann, of the German Republic, was given by the people of Paris when he accepted the pact. As he stepped forward to attach his signature to it, cheers resounded to the roof of the classic building, and there was no mistaking the sincerity of the people. This was not surprising considering that they had lived under the shadow of war for so many years. I cannot let the occasion pass without trying to state, in its true perspective as I believe it, the result of the Kellogg Pact. It may be a “ scrap of paper”; but it has changed the whole outlook, and part of the fundamental basis, of our international system of jurisprudence. It has assisted the law of nations, and it has shown to the world at last that nations are thinking of the interests of posterity rather than in terms of present aggrandisement.

Debate (on motion by Senator Carroll) adjourned.

page 367


Cockatoo Island Dockyard - Federal Capital Territory : Leasehold System - Private Members’ Business - Primary Industries

Vice-President of the Executive Council · Western Australia · NAT

[5.40]. - As we have not a very full business paper, I do not intend to ask the Senate to sit after dinner to-night. I therefore move -

That the Senate do now adjourn.

I take this opportunity to reply to a question raised by Senator Duncan regarding the position of some of the staff of the Cockatoo Island Dockyard. I think that he referred particularly to the foreman and various other classes of men. This matter has been brought under the notice of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), whose reply I shall read. It is as follows : -

Every one would like to see the activities of a yard like Cockatoo going on and expanding, providing ample avenues of employment for the skilled workman, and also for the unskilled worker. Unfortunately, however, a position had arisen where the work available to the yard did not justify the retention of tlie whole of’the staff that had previously been employed there. As with other matters, the Government had to take this question entirely 011 the basis of the actual merits of the case, nml make sure that even justice was being handed out to everybody.

The first point was in regard to the war period, and the idea that from time to time was held of making a permanent staff at Cockatoo. That period was now a long way back, and anything that might have been contemplated then had been completely altered by subsequent happenings, because in 1923 the yard was handed over to the Commonwealth Shipping Board on the distinct basis that any old claims, prior rights, or anything of that sort had to be cleared up as at that date, so that the Cockatoo yard, under the new control, would be in exactly the same position as its competitors, and would not be handicapped in commercial competition by having placed on it any obligations that might have existed under the previous control. The whole basis of operations from 1923 was to be straight out commercial competition. The Government had even gone to the point of requiring the Commonwealth Shipping Board to take into account the income tax the yard would have paid if it had been a private show, so that there would be no longer any justification for the charge that they were engaging in unfair competition. The whole position had changed from 1923, and that was the actual and definite basis upon which the yard had been handed over.

The other point with regard to the recognition of the extremely valuable work that was done by the yard during the period of the war, and any special compensation to the men who gave that service, was, of course, a matter that should have been dealt with, if dealt with at all, during tlie period immediately succeeding the war, when war gratuities were paid to the soldiers and other matters were dealt with. This brought them up to the period of 1923, and they had to try to see the position as from that date. One thing put forward was that men were to-day being given a month’s notice who had rendered from eight to 39 years’ service, a great part of which was with the State or Commonwealth, and the suggestion was that these men were being thrown out without receiving any recognition. This whole question had, however, been gone into in 1924, and a basis of compensation had been laid down as to the past, in the endeavour to clear the position up as at 1923 when the yard was taken over by the Shipping Board. The basis was that the permanent men of the dockyard should receive furlough in respect of their service to 31st August, 1923, and the temporary men to 29th June, 1921. The first date was the date when the Commonwealth Shipping Board took over, and the second date was when it had come over to the Prime Minister’s Department, into the Shipbuilding Board of Control. The basis on which these payments had been made was that with twenty years’ service a nian received six months pay, or if he were over 00 years of age and had at least eight years’ service, he received three months pay, ranging up to five months according to the period by which his service exceeded eight years.

It would be seen, therefore, that in 1923 the long period of service which men had given was recognized, and that was all that was done in the Public Service. After a period of twenty years’ service, the permanent public servant was entitled to six months’ furlough, but he was not forced to take that furlough. He could continue his service and draw pay for the period of six months after his retirement from the Public Service. In addition to this long-service furlough, there was the ordinary annual leave of three weeks, but that was entirely based on the principle of maintaining the welfare of the individuals in the Public Service. An officer had to take his annual leave or his rights to it lapsed, but the furlough to which reference had been made was based on long service, entitling an officer to six months’ leave or the right to draw pay for it after the termination of his service. That had been done in regard to Cockatoo up to 1923, and any further recognition must be on something equivalent to the same basis as the Public Service. These employees would not claim to be more privileged than the permanent Public Service, and the situation visavis their service had been dealt with up to the date mentioned. From that date it was quite definitely laid down that this was to be an absolutely commercial show, run in competition with private enterprise, and that no rights to permanent employment or anything of that character were involved.

This brought them up to the -present position, which was that the Government, instead of carrying on this activity under a Board created by the Government, proposed to lease the activity to the highest tenderer, but the intention was that the Cockatoo Dockyard should go on exactly as it was at the present moment, with the exception that any private contractor taking over the dockyard -would be in the position that there was no limit to the work that he could undertake, whereas in the High Court judgment of 1926, in the case of the contract by the Shipping Board with the municipal council of Sydney for .the supply and erection of machinery, there were very denned and definite limits as to the work the yard could undertake in the future if conducted by some Government instrumentality. They had to look at it from the point of view that there was to be no cessation of an activity at all; the activity was going on and the only basis of any consideration that the Government might give was that there was some long service that had never been recognized and that the Government felt that it desired to recognize that service on the termination of the employment of the individual.

In the case of an old family concern that was proceeding to sell to some one else, where it was perfectly certain the business was going on, the heads of the concern might say : “ These people have been with us for a long time and we are going to give our old servants some compensation,” but that was an act of grace and was something that, unhappily, governments could not do. Governments had to go along the line of meting out strict justice, because they were dealing not with their own money, but with the taxpayers’ money, and the position in regard to this handing over of Cockatoo was that no activity of Cockatoo was going to cease. If Cockatoo had provided avenues of employment in the past for a certain number of .men, it was to be hoped and trusted that these avenues of employment would continue in the future. Had the position been that the Government was not selling at all but was going on, there was, unhappily, no question that, in existing circumstances, every notice of dismissal that had been given at the present time would have had to go just the same. There would not have been any difference in the position, whether they had been going on or handing over to some one else.

It was the economic circumstances of the moment that had forced the dismissals, not the fact that the Government was going to lease the dockyard. What he was saying had been illustrated by the case of the Sydney ferries. The ferries in question had been bought out at enormous cost and yet the chairman of the company had stated that he had saved £20,000 by doing that, and the point he (the Prime Minister) wished to stress was that economic Circumstances were responsible for the position that had arisen. The trouble had no relation to the fact that in three or four months time the dockyard might be handed ‘over to some one else.

The Government could not with any justice or fairness to all the other servants of the Crown in Australia give special compensation in these particular circumstances merely on the basis that it was handing over control. If there wore some other consideration which could bo put forward, dealing with what he hud said about the furlough period up to 1923, he was prepared to consider that. They might take, for instance, the fact that a public servant, while he received his six months at the end of 20 years, was entitled to a further six months if he went on for 40 years. There might be circumstances of that kind or some other parallel to the treatment that the public servant received after a certain period when his position became redundant. There might be some form of furlough rights, or other tilings to which he was entitled upon which it would be possible to base a. case; but he (the Prime Minister) was unable to take it on the basis merely that this transference was now taking place - some one else running the dockyard instead of the Government running it - and to say that that was a reason why all the staff which ceased to be employed by tlie Commonwealth because of economic circumstances should receive the concession asked for.

The’ other point was that it could well bo said “That is all right; you say that about us, but what about the Australian Commonwealth Line and its people?” The position there was that the Government had adopted a policy (although there was no Public Service sanction for it that he knew of) that where there had been an activity going on which appeared to give to the people concerned permanent employment, and by an act of government policy, the whole position was changed, causing that activity to cease, compensation should be granted to the people concerned. There had been two cases where that had occurred during the time that his Government had been in office.

The Government had made drastic reductions in the defence activities of the Commonwealth about six years ago and had regarded the officers concerned as having a definite avocation which they were justified in regarding as a permanency. By its policy the Government had completely altered that position and it had seemed only fair and just that compensation should bo paid in these cases. In 1924 an arrangement had been made with the States by which taxation collections were dealt with on a common basis, Commonwealth and States, instead of two authorities carrying out the collections. That had meant a drastic reduction of the taxation staff of the Commonwealth, and the Government had agreed that tha.t was another case where compensation was equitable.

When the Australian Commonwealth Line was sold, that was a cutting off completely of an activity that the Government had created: it had ceased to be an activity altogether so far as Australia was concerned. The head office of the new line was in Britain. There was a great reduction in the employment offering in the line, and, though a limited number of the employees were taken over, the head office was in London and the staff was reduced. The Shipping Board had submitted certain proposals for payment of compensation. These had been gone into by the Government which, finding it to be within the competence of the board to pay the compensation, had come to the conclusion that the circumstances were really parallel to what had been done in the case of the taxation staff and defence force. The Government had accordingly agreed to the payment of compensation, provided the board was satisfied that it was fair and just in the circumstances to do so, the understanding being that the rate of compensation should not exceed that paid in the case of the taxation and defence staffs.

On examining the position of the Cockatoo employees, the Government was unable to see a parallel to what had happened in any one of the three cases referred to, by reason of the fact that Cockatoo was continuing. Cockatoo was going on. It would be necessary to employ people there in the same way as in the past, and, in these circumstances, the Government, after considering the matter, was unable to see how it could justifiably, and in fairness to all the other employees of the Crown, agree to compensation being paid. If, however, they could put forward any case based on long service and show that it was impossible to employ themat the dockyard and that they had not got the consideration that would have been accorded others similarly placed, he was quite prepared to consider that, but he saw great difficulties in their way in doing this, by reason of the fact that they had got to show that the cessation of employment was permanent and that that was the end of the thing. The redundant public servant went right out and he had no hope of getting back. He was afraid the only hope he could hold out was along those lines. He could not say, “ Yes, general compensation to the people who, because of the economic circumstances of the moment, have to go out of the service at Cockatoo dockyard. “

With regard to the point made that, in the event of compensation being paid, the Government should not take the definite date and definite moment of the handing over and say that only the people who were on the pay roll at that particular hour and minute would be entitled to consideration, he quite acceded to that. The Government would have to examine the whole of the circumstances and determine what was just and fair and who should be included in the compensation if people had gone off months before the handing over, but that would be only if they were prepared to consider general compensation at all. There would be full consideration of anything that might be submitted along the lines he had indicated.

Senator DUNCAN:

– I listened with a great deal of interest to the statement of the Prime Minister, which the right honorable the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) has just read. While it appears to be fair and reasonable, certain aspects of it are decidedly arguable. At this stage it is impossible for me to debate the matter, but I assure the Minister that at the earliest possible moment I shall obtain the views of those on whose behalf I acted upon the statement just read, and, provided they have a case, I shall be happy to pursue the matter further. Had the Prime Minister’s statement been made public some months ago when representations were first made on behalf of these men to the Government, a great deal of the trouble that has arisen would have been obviated. Last week the Minister practically charged me with discourtesy for having brought this matter forward without notice. I have in my possession a letter signed by the Honorary Minister (Mr. Marr), on behalf of the Prime Minister, informing me that the matter was receiving consideration. The letter is dated April, 1928. Since then I have not received any further communication from the Prime Minister’s Department as to the result of the consideration given to the matter. If a charge of discourtesy lies against any one, surely it lies against the Prime Minister’s Department. Had I been communicated with earlier, it might not have been necessary for me to bring this case before the Senate. ‘The action I took seemed to me to be the only way to get any satisfaction. I thank the right honorable gentleman for the statement he has read, and shall have pleasure in submitting it to the employees of Cockatoo Island dockyard principally concerned.

Senator ELLIOTT:

.- Some months ago I moved a motion in favour of the abolition of the leasehold system of land tenure in the Federal Capital Territory and the substitution of a system of freehold. Among those who on that occasion dissented from my views was Senator Cox, who cited Johannesburg in South Africa as an example of a city in which the leasehold system of land tenure had proved a great success. At that time I was unable to challenge the honorable senator’s statement, but later I communicated with the Town Clerk of Johannesburg and asked him to supply me, if possible, with a text book dealing with land tenures in Johannesburg and the Transvaal generally. I have just received the following reply : -


Land Tenture

With reference to your letter of the 10th

November last relative to the above matter, I have the honour to inform you that the township of Johannesburg, which is now the central area of the city, was laid out in 1886 by the Government of the late Transvaal Republic, At the original sale all stands were sold in leasehold for a period of 99 years, and were subject to the payment of a stand licence by the purchaser to the Government. As the town developed further townships were established by the Government and by private owners. In the case of Government townships, all stands were sold in leasehold, but private owners sold their stands both in leasehold and in freehold. All leasehold stands carried with them the obligation to pay to the township owner a stand licence which varied in amount, but, generally, the amount of a stand licence was £6 per annum per stand of an area of 5,000 square feet.

In 1908 the question of land tenure was con sidered by the legislature, and an act to provide for the establishment of new townships on proclaimed land and in municipalities and to effect conversion of title in certain townships waa passed. Under the provisions of this act no stands in Government or private townships arc permitted to be sold except in freehold. Facilities were also provided for the conversion of leasehold stands in Government townships into freehold either by a cash payment or by the continuation of the payment of stand licences for a specified number of months. The scales provoed were graduated and dependent on the amount of stand licence paid and the value of the stands at the date of the coming into operation of the act. For instance, the owners of stands of the value of £101 to £250 which were liable for the payment of 5s. per month stand licence obtained the conversion into freehold by the payment of £3 6s. 8d., whilst the owner of a stand valued at £1,451 or over had to pay £46 13s. 4d. In the former instance the owner was entitled to obtain conversion into freehold by continuing the payment of stand licence for a period of fourteen months, whilst In the case of the stand valued at £1,451 or over the licenses had to be paid for a period of 187 months before the freehold title was granted.

I am unaware of any text books dealing with the conditions of land tenure in Johannesburg or the Transvaal generally. I had hoped to forward you a copy of the act I have referred to above, but. unfortunately I have not a spare copy, and I find it is out. of print.

T hope the information given, brief as it is. will be of assistance to you.

Thus it appears that the leasehold system operated in Johannesburg for twenty years, but it proved so unworkable that even private owners of land were forbidden to grant these holding leases for 99 years. That is a different explanation of the development of Johannesburg from that given by Senator Cox. The system was in operation during the period of the South African war when Senator Cox was over there, but it was very soon afterwards abandoned.

Senator ELLIOTT:

– It is true that the leasehold system operates in London to a certain extent, but great disadvantages have accrued from it. During the concluding years of a lease, for example, buildings which otherwise would have been replaced by more modern structures, arc frequently allowed to remain. But London, the greatest city in the world, cannot be compared with Canberra. Here we must attract capital if we are to progress.

Senator Foll:

– When the developmental stage has been passed, land tenure in Canberra will be different from what it now is.

Senator ELLIOTT:

– Development in Canberra is at a standstill. A different system of land tenure is essential to the progress of the Federal Capital. I draw attention to the fact that the leases at Johannesburg contained very much better terms than those at Canberra. The lowest rental for land at Civic Centre, measuring about 20 feet by 108 feet, is £20 per annum, whereas in Johannesburg the rental was only £6 per annum for a block 40 feet by 125 feet. Yet the development of that city was retarded because of the leasehold system.

Senator Sir William Glasgow:

– The leasehold system is generally adopted in mining districts. Miners’ homesteads in Queensland are erected on land held under leasehold.

Senator ELLIOTT:

– A miners’ right does not extend for 99 years, but is renewable annually. The Minister will admit that usually only a poor class of building is erected on land held under a miner’s right. That, in my opinion, throws an additional light upon the subject. The difficulty in obtaining finance for any costly building constitutes a great drawback to the leasehold system. In the Johannesburg case a re-appraisement of the land occurred and the values were fixed for the remaining period of the leases, but after twenty years had elapsed the leaseholders became so exasperated that the authorities reverted to the system of freehold.

Senator LYNCH:
Western Australia

– I assume, from the intimation of the right honorable the Leader of the Senate, that we shall not resume after dinner to-night. I have an important motion upon the business paper and would like the Senate to express an opinion upon it. In the circumstances, I am loth to see time wasted which could profitably be turned to account. The motion is on the business paper with a definite purpose. The industries mentioned therein have not yet been inquired into and, so far as this Government is concerned, might as well be situated in the heart of Africa. It is time that their condition wasinvestigated, and I suggest that this evening presents an opportune occasion for the Senate to discuss my motion. I do not wish it to be one of the “slaughtered innocents” at the end of the session. Too often this Senate begins a session with a lean business paper and concludes with a paper so full that many matters do not receive consideration. I urge the Government to distribute the business of the session more evenly, and I should like the right honorable the leader of the Senate to make a declaration as to when I may obtain an expression of opinion on my motion.

Vice-President Executive Council · Western Australia · NAT

[6.8] - So far as I am personally concerned I am perfectly willing that the Senate should resume after dinner. I point out, however, that to-morrow night is reserved for the transaction of private members’ business and, as there is only one motion before that of which Senator Lynch has given notice, we should then have an opportunity to discuss his proposal. In the circumstances I do not think that it is necessary to ask honorable senators to come back to-night.

Senator LYNCH:

– That is quite satisfactory to me.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at 6.9 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 February 1929, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.