14th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. F. J.
Lynch) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
International Sanitary Convention - Copies of Notes exchanged between the Government of French Indo-China and the Commonwealth Government constituting an Agreement, dated 20th May, 1936. Arbitration ( Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c, - No.5 of 1936 - Fourth Division Officers Association of the Trade and Customs Department. No. 0 of1936 - Commonwealth Temporary Clerks’ Association. No. 7 of1936 - Commonwealth Public
Service Artisans’ Association. No. 8 of1936 - Commonwealth Public
Service Clerical Association. No.9 of 1936 - AustralianPostal Electricians’ Union. No. 10 of 1936- Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia; Australian Postal Electricians’ Union; Australian Third Division Telegraphists and Postal Clerks’ Union; Commonwealth Postmasters’ Association ; Commonwealth Public Service
Artisans’ Association; Commonwealth Public ServiceClerical Association ; Federated Public Service’ Assistants’ Association ; Fourth DivisionOfficers’ Association of the Tradeand Customs Department: Fourth Division Postmasters, Postal Clerks and Telegraphists’ Union; and Postal Electricians Supervisors and Foremen’s Association, PostmasterGeneral’s Department, Commonwealth of Australia.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointment - Department ofHealth - e. A. Rogerson.
Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statu tory Rules 1936, No. 122.
Norfolk Island Act -
No. 12 - Mortgagors’ Relief.
No. 13 - Sanctions (Exports and Imports)Repeal.
No. 14 - Administration.
No. 10 - Judiciary.
No.16 - Motor car.
No. 17 - Probate and Administration.
No.18 - Crown, Lands.
Exportation of Fruit Ordinance - Regulations.
SeatofGovernmentAcceptanceActand SeatofGovernment (Administration) Act - Canberra University College Ordinance - Report of the Council of the Canberra University College for the year 1933.
Copyright Act - Regulations amended - StatutoryRules1936,No.123
Navigation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules1936, No. 120.
Peace Officers Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1936, No.115
WhalingAct - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1936, No. 114.
Detentionquarters atgarden island
The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answers : -
The statement is misleading. Detention quarters have been established to obviatethe necessity of sending naval men to civil prison*. then aresent to detentionfor seriousoffences only. The regulations have been carefully drawn up, and were revised five years ago. They provide for a louse canvas restraint jacket and for irons, tint these may beused only in case of urgentnecessity-forexample, to preventa man who is sufferingfrom a mental affection from injuring himself. Further, close confinement is a punishment which is awarded only for seriousoffences committedbyamanafterenteringdetention quarters, it is not correct tosay that it is awarded for the slightest deviation from the rules.AllMen undergoing detention areunder the supervision of a medicalofficer, and have ample opportunity to lodge complaints.
What was the strength of the Commonwealth Military Forces (Militia) by arms on the 30th June, 1936?
What were the enlistments during the year ended on that date, and what was the number of resignations from the Forces?
The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answers : -
Is it a fact that applications have been made to his department for approval for sixteen new rifle clubs in Western Australia, including some clubs in the isolated northwest of that State, but that approval for these new clubs has been delayed?
ls it the intention of the department to expedite the establishment of these new rifle clubs?
The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answers : -
There arc at present 28 applications foi new rifle clubs in Western Australia, Normally approval is given for the formation of new rifle clubs after the Estimates have been passed.
Approval has been given- in the past to military districts for a limited number ot clubs to be formed provided the cost of range construction, fares and freight* of the district allocation in not exceeded. Applications are dealt with in order of priority of receipt by the District Commandant concerned.
Senator A. J. McLACHLAN laid on the table the annual report of the Tariff Board for the year ended the 30th June, 1936, together with schedule of the board’s recommendations.
– Is it a fact that Japanese newspapers have published regularly news concerning the trade negotiations between Australia and Japan and, if so, what is the reason for the “ hush-hush “ policy of the Austra’ian Government in this connexion?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.At the earliest moment that it considers it advisable to do so, the Government will inform Parliament fully of any agreement with Japan which calls for ratification by Parliament.
– In the meantime wo shall have to send to Japan for information?
– The honorable senator is incorrect in saying that. It is true that statements on the subject of trade treaties appear from time to time in the Japanese press, but some of them are not in accordance with the facts. Such statements emanate from persons and bodies who assume the right to speak for the Government of that country - a habit which is not confined to Japan. So far, neither the government of Japan nor the Government of the Commonwealth is in a position to make a statement as to the stage which the negotiations have reached.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the disturbed and disquieting position of world affairs and the consequent need for increasing the extent and speed of industrial development within Australia, will the Government consider the necessity and wisdom of prohibiting entirely the export from the Commonwealth of iron ore and/or scrap iron, particularly to those countries with which Australia has a Bo-called “ unfavorable balance of trade “ ?
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question : -
It is not considered that present circumstances warrant the taking of action in the direction suggested by the honorable senator.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce has furnished the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following replies to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The following information has been furnished by the Prime Minister : -
Associate-Professor G. L. Wood, M.A., Litt.D., the University, Melbourne.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What was the total amount of glucose manufactured in Australia during theyears 1933-34 and 1934-35?
– It is the invariable practiceof the Government not to disclose the trading operations of individual manufacturers. At present there isonly one manufacturer of glucose in Australia, and as the furnishing of the particulars sought by the honorable senator concerning local production would, therefore, disclose the business of this manufacturer, the Government is not prepared to supply such information.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following replies to the honorable senator’s questions : - 1 and 2. For the five-year period 1931-1935 inclusive, the United States of America exports and imports were -
United States of America exports to, $2,230,300,000.
United States of America imports from, $2,135,658,000.
United States of America exports to, $4,102,471,000.
United States of America imports from, $2,727,640,000.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The following information has been furnished by the Minister for Defence:-
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
CanhegivetheSenateanyinformationwith regardtothenegotiationsbetweentheDefence DepartmentandtheHobartCityCouncilon the subject of the suggested removal of the Sandy Bay riflerange?
– The Minister for Defence has furnished the following reply to the honorable senator’s question : -
About four years ago, in deference to the wishes of the Hobart City Council and other interested parties, the Defence Department agreed to transfer the small arms range from Sandy Bay to Glenorchy. The terms and conditions of transfer, concerning which the honorable senator was fully advised some time ago, were accepted by the council during 1935. These were reduced to a formal deed of agreement between the two parties the draft of which the council submitted to the Defence Department during April, 1936 Minor aspects of this agreement are now being adjusted prior to completion of the deed by the parties.
Damage at Minding Station.
Has he received a report of the destruction by gale of the new mast at the Minding (Western Australia) broadcasting station?
If so, will he state, what steps are being taken to ensure the speediest possible completion ofthe station?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
SenatorBROWN asked the Minister representing the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties, upon notice-
What were the final results of Sir Henry Gullett’s negotiations for trade treaties in Europe ?
Were any trade treaties arranged with any European countries?
– The Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s questions: -
Any trade treaties resulting from the negotiations carried out by Sir Henry Gullett in Europe will be submitted to Parliament for approval during the current session.
– As the reply furnished by the Minister to the second part of my question is evasive, I ask you, Mr. President, if, in order to secure the information, it will be necessary for me to repeatmy question to-morrow?
– Order !
– As the reply furnished by the Minister does not answer the question, I have no course open to me but to repeat itto-morrow.
– The honorable senator may decide that for himself, but he is not in order in debating the matter now.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Prime Minister has furnished the following replies to the honorable senator’s questions: -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Prime Minister has supplied the following replies to the honorable senator’s questions: -
[3.24].- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The first Supply Bill for this financial year, passed in May last, provided for the ordinary annual services of the Commonwealth for the first three months of the financial year. The appropriation under that bill will be exhausted at the end of this month, and a further appropriation of revenue is therefore necessary to meet ordinary requirements, pending the passing of the Estimates for the current financial year. This bill provides for an appropriation of £4,404,750 from revenue;- this amount is estimated to cover expenditure up to the end of November next. Provision i3 made for certain increased expenditure in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, due to normal expansion, for certain urgent defence services, and for a few minor urgent new works for various departments to be temporarily charged to Treasurer’s Advance. The bill also provides for increased expenditure ob salaries based on the budget proposals for the restoration of salary reductions. Increased salaries will, however, not be paid until Parliament has signified its approval by passing the financial relief legislation which will shortly be submitted. Apart from these relatively minor matters, the Supply Bill is based on last year’s expenditure and does not provide for anything involving alterations of policy.
Whilst Supply is sought for two months, I remind honorable senators that they
Will have an opportunity to debate the budget and the Government’s proposals therein at as early a date as is possible, consistent with the passage of urgentlegislation on specific matters. It is confidently hoped that well before the end of November honorable senators will have had full opportunity to debate in detail the general Estimates of expenditure for the year. In view of the comprehensive financial information submitted in the budget, I trust that honorable senators will consider it unnecessary for me to furnish further particulars at this stage. I submit the bill for the favorable consideration of the Senate.
SenatorCOLLINGS (Queensland) [3.28]. - I do not propose to say very much at this juncture, as at the committee stage of the bill honorable senators will have an opportunity to discuss the various items in the schedule; but I do emphasize that the granting of Supply is an important act which should engage the very serious attention of the Senate. In the last Supply Bill provision was granted to carry on the ordinary services of the Commonwealth until the end of September. It was thought at that time that there would be no occasion to keep Parliament in recess for so lengthy a period. Now, however, we are asked to grant Supply until the end of November. It seems to me that there is no justification for requiring Supply for so long ahead, because the Government will not have to meet before the middle of October any commitments not covered by the Supply alreadygranted.Ifthisbillbepassed, Parliamentwillhaveassentedtothe expenditure of public money by the Government over the first five months of the financial year without having had an opportunity to scrutinize it. The Opposition does not intend to oppose the granting of Supply at this stage. Whatever we have to say will be said at the committee stage of the bill ; but it should be recognized, I think, by every honorable senator that the right which the Senate possesses as a branch of the legislature to scrutinize the expenditure of public money should be very jealously guarded.
SenatorE.B.JOHNSTON(Western Australia) [3.31]. - I wish to refer to the- controversy which has occurred between the Commonwealth Government, the Western Australian Government and the Swan Roads Board, in connexion with the re-naming of a new Royal Australian Air Force aerodrome in Western Australia. In referring more particularly to the historical aspect of the name of Bu lsbrook, I quote a paragraph from the West Australian of the7th September,1936, which deals with the work of Lieutenant Henry Bull, R.N., who settled in the locality in the early days of the State’s history.
– Is any item of expenditure in the schedule related to this particular work?
– Yes; there is provision for the payment of the salaries of officials. The paragraph reads -
Lieutenant Henry Bull whose name it has been suggested should be obliterated from the map by the re-naming of Bullsbrook was described by a writer of 1835 among the most valuable settlers of the young colony. In association with Mr. Leake, a Fremantle merchant and an extensive landlord, he worked a farm, a dairy and a horse mill at Upper Swan with remarkable success.
– I cannot permit the honorable senator to deal with the subject from an historical viewpoint. If he were permitted to do so a discussion irrelevant to the bill might develop, and unduly delay the work of the Senate.
– What is the real grievance?
– The name of the township of Bullsbrook is to be altered by the Federal Government contrary to the wishes of the State Government and the local authority.
SenatorFoll. -Irisetoapointof order. I have perused the schedule and I cannot find that any appropriation is proposedin connexion with the work to which the honorable senator is referring.
– If money is expressly provided for the aerodrome mentioned, the honorable senator will be in order in referring, say, to the suitability of the site. Is any money being appropriated under the schedule for the aerodrome mentioned?
– Yes; under the Department of Defence, there is an item covering the salaries of the officials in the permanent air force.
– If the name of the aerodrome is specifically mentioned, the honorable senator will be in order in dealing with the subject under the appropriation for air services.
– Lieutenant Henry Bull was in the navy and had some farming experience in Bedfordshire.
– The honorable senator must not go into details of that nature. If he were permitted to do so similar latitude would have to be extended to other honorable senators.
– The name of this pioneer is to be found on the original maps of this portion of Western Australia, and Bullsbrook was named after him over a century ago.
– Does the honorable senator intend to obey the direction of the Chair?
– Yes. If I am not permitted to deal with the subject at this juncture, I shall merely express the hope that the name of the township of Bullsbrook will not be altered without the consent of the State Government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Proposed vote, £17,680.
– Under the head of “Miscellaneous “ there is an item “ Maintenance of Members’ Rooms in Capital cities, including furniture, also salaries and attendants - £2,200.” I do not know whether any of the members of the Ministry, who attended the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held in Adelaide a few weeks ago, visited the rooms allocated to federal members in Parliament House, Adelaide. If they did so, they will agree with me that the accommodation provided for federal members to attend to their correspondence and peruse parliamentary and other literature is totally inadequate.
– The existing rooms in Adelaide are hope.ess.
– 1 agree that the existing rooms are hopeless. That faithfully describes them.. Only two rooms, and those are in the basement, are provided for us. There is absolutely no laying out of parliamentary literature. If we want books of any description, even Ilansard, we have difficulty in finding them.
– And there are twelve South Australians to be catered for.
– And visiting members from Western Australia have also to be accommodated.
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.Yes, but when visiting members arrive in Adelaide we are ashamed to show our rooms to them. I ask that something be done to remedy the situation. The rooms should be brought up-to-date, so that we may no longer have cause to be ashamed of them.
– I endorse the remarks made by Senator James McLachlan, and supplement them by saying that only in Brisbane is the accommodation provided for members of . the Commonwealth Parliament worse than that in Adelaide. Since I entered the Senate four and a half years ago, I have added my agitation to that of my colleagues in this Parliament for improved accommodation in Brisbane, and shortly it will be provided. Any one who is acquainted with the ‘accommodation available in Adelaide knows how pitiably inadequate it is. Members of the Opposition hope that our fellow members from South Australia will gain some considerable improvement of the rooms allotted to them. The provision of accommodation for members in the capital cities is of greater importance than may be apparent on the surface. I have never missed an opportunity to emphasize the fact that with all its faults our present system of government, that is the British parliamentary system of constitutional government, is easily the best the world has to-day. Every time we ask visitors or students of politics to come to federal members’ rooms like those in Brisbane and Adelaide, we are, to put it mildly and in parliamentary language, showing something which is not adequate or fit and we are, therefore, belittling the parliamentary positions we occupy. Consequently, I do hope that the Government will see that the accommodation available in Adelaide is vastly improved.
– I direct the attention of the Government to what appears an anomaly regarding telephone services for members of Parliament. . If a member has his home in the city, and is near to the Commonwealth rooms, he is able without charge to communicate with any part of the State in which he resides, and I think with any part of the Commonwealth on official matters. It h legitimate for a member to enter the federal members’ rooms in Sydney and communicate by telephone with the Commonwealth, departments in Canberra to obtain any information he may desire, but the country member is at a disadvantage in that he has no such facilities. He may be situated in his home town 300 miles from the capital city and be unable to make any official call except at his own expense. He cannot communicate with the Commonwealth departments unless he actually pays for the call. Why give this privilege of making official calls free of charge to members who live in the cities, and at the same time deny the privilege to members who are compelled to use their own telephones in country towns? The mr-..n in the country areas should have the same rights to communicate with Canberra as are given to those who live in the cities. As for the possible objection that there could be no means of differentiating between private calls and official calls, those members who cannot bc trusted to make a truthful declaration of official calls are not fitted to be in the Parliament. Honorable members have telephoned from Sydney to my home in Wagga to discuss parliamentary business; yet, when I wish to get into touch with the departments or other honorable members on official business, I have to pay the ordinary telephone rates.
[3.45]. - I find myself in considerable agreement with the point raised by Senator James McLachlan. I have seen the rooms in Adelaide, and I agree that they are not suitable for the work which South Australian senators and members have to do in the capital of their own State. I am glad to say that in Western Australia we have somewhat better rooms than we used to have. I hope that in Queensland also the rooms will be improved. I shall certainly bring under the notice of the Minister who controls the accommodation for federal members the remarks that have been made on the subject. The matter of telephone calls of members from the country is one that should be looked into and I shall bring it under the notice of the Minister.
– I direct the attention of the authorities to the unsatisfactory method of conveying members of tins Parliament to the Federal Capital. The railway department provides a train, which meanders slowly between Goulburn and Canberra. I believe that there are not many worse trains in the British Empire. I suggest the advisability of providing a more modern system of transport for honorable members and senators. Provision, should bc made, at any rate to a limited extent, for the conveyance of members of Parliament to Canberra by air. J. realize that that would involve expense additional to the amounts now paid . to the railways commissioners in the various States for the transportation of members to and from various parts of the Commonwealth, but the objection that extra cost would be involved could perhaps be surmounted if air transport were allowed to members on a limited scale or in cases of emergency. At least, provision could be made for members of this Parliament to be entitled to so many trips by air to Canberra each year, so that on occasions of emergency, they would not have to pay the full charge levied by the air transport companies.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [3.49] . - I agree that we have been very badly treated in the matter of railway services to the Federal Capital, but that is not the fault of the Commonwealth Government. We have made continual and forceful representations to the railway department of New South Wales which, in the past, at any rate, has not shown anything like a generous spirit in its treatment of U8 I am, however, glad to be able to inform honorable senators that very shortly a change for the better will occur. A new type of carriage i3 to bo provided for the Canberra train and the “ dog box “ is to be abolished. I understand, also, that another train to be known as “ The Canberra Express” is to be put into daily service. There is a little complication in respect of the use of aeroplanes for the conveyance of members. The Commonwealth pays to the State Governments so much per annum in respect of each member of this Parliament, for conveyance on their railways. That amount has to be divided among the States. Obviously if, in addition, provision were made for members to travel by air, unless a deduction were made in respect of the amount paid to the States, the cost to the Commonwealth would be very largely increased.
– Perhaps an arrangement could be made to deduct a portion of the charge made by the States.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.That may be possible. If a satisfactory arrangement can be made something may be done in the direction indicated.
– What about the transcontinental railway?
– I cannot understand any one, excepting perhaps a man who wishes to get through his life quickly, desiring to avoid travelling by the transcontinental railway, especially when we have the connexion through to Red Hill. It is the most comfortable train in Australia. If the Melbourne to Canberra and Sydney to Canberra trains were its equal, there would be no complaints about travelling by rail.
– ‘Kings in Europe travel by aeroplanes in these days.
– I am aware of that; but in my somewhat hectic life I regard the two days spent on the transcontinental railway train between Port Augusta and Perth as a god-send. It provides me with much needed relaxation from official duties.
– If arrangements cannot be made for regular air transport of members to and from Canberra, it may be possible to make such provision in cases of emergency.
– I shall bring the matter under the notice of the Minister for the Interior.
.- The principal difficulty in respect of senators travelling from Melbourne, is that unless they make the journey on days when both Houses are sitting they have to come on from Goulburn by a slow goods train. Surely an arrangement could be made to convey members from Goulburn more speedily by bus.
– That was tried for a time, but members were reluctant to leave the train.
– On one occasion when I travelled from Melbourne, no fewer than forty members left the train at Goulburn and came on to Canberra in the bus. The existing train arrangements are not a credit either to the Commonwealth or the New South Wales Railways Department.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Prime Minister’s Department.
Proposed vote, £83,000.
– I direct attention to the item “ High Commissioner’s office, salaries and payments in the nature of salary, £4,520, general expenses, £4,480.” I have, on other occasions, stated that in respect of overseas payments we should know whether the amounts set out are in sterling or Australian currency. I assume that payments to the High Commissioner are in sterling. If so they must cause a good deal of confusion to any person trying to ascertain the total cost of government expenditure. There should be some distinguishing mark opposite such items to indicate whether payments are in sterling or Australian currency. Since we have adopted the princip7e of treating exchange as a separate item, we should be able to tell at a glance whether payments are in Australian currency or in sterling.
– I understand that all the amounts set out in the bill are expressed in Australian currency and that there is separate provision covering exchange in respect of payments made outside Australia.
– I should like the Leader of the Senate to examine the items to which I have directed attention and to ascertain definitely whether the payments are in sterling or Australian currency. In the previous year, at all events, they were not expressed in Australian currency.
– I should like some information with reference to the items - “salaries and payments in the nature of salary to the Australian Commissioner-General in the United States of America, £700; general expenses, £360.” Are we to understand that we still have in that country an official representative in receipt of a salary of approximately £2,800 a year,- and that the general expenses of the officer bring the total expenditure up to about £4,000 a year? In view of the trade relations between the Commonwealth and the United States of America, does the Government consider it wise to continue this expenditure? It has been suggested to me that the office is being retained in order to get back some of the trade which we have lost in recent years; but my impression is that, because of its present unsatisfactory nature, increased trade with that country is not desired. In the circumstances, this expenditure would appear to be unwise. At least, the methods and objects of the representative should be altered.
[4.0].- The salary of the Official Secretary in the United States of America is £970, and the salary of the Accountant is £552. Each official has an allowance of £216, and the Official Secretary, while acting as CommissionerGeneral, gets a special allowance of £500. Notwithstanding our adverse trade balance with the United States of America, the Government is of opinion that it is advisable to retain this link with that country.
– In times of difficulty we should strengthen it.
– The Government has under consideration the desirability of adequate representation of Australia in all countries bordering the Pacific. For some years we were represented in the United States of America by a Commissioner-General, and, although our exports to that country have declined in recent years, we are not without hope that, in the not distant future, trade will be improved as the result of some reciprocal arrangement. Recently, Mr. Cordell Hull, the United States Minister for Commerce, has made statements which, if translated into action, would certainly justify that hope. In the circumstances, the Government thinks it inadvisable to weaken the existing slender link with the Government of the United States of America.
– I direct attention to the item, “Animal health and nutrition, £7,500,” and ask the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) if there is any chance that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research will erect a laboratory in the cattle country in the northwest of Western Australia, similar to the laboratory near Townsville, Queensland. I had occasion to visit this laboratory last year, and was impressed with the extent, nature and value of the experiments that were being carried out in connexion with cattle diseases, notably red water, pegleg, and pleuro. In our valuable north-west cattle country there i3 grave danger from pleuro, hence the need for laboratory experiments. I have discussed this matter with Mr. M. P. Durack, who is convinced that a laboratory would render valuable service to the cattle men of Western Australia.
– I suggest that the honorable senator should discuss this matter when the works Estimates are under consideration. This bill deals only with salaries for the staff.
.- I should like some information with respect to the amount of £830 for investigations in connexion with prickly pear. I wa.3 under the impression that the prickly pear had been eradicated some time ago.
[4.4] . -Although experiments for the eradication of prickly pear have been highly successful, the pest has not been entirely eradicated. By an agreement between the Commonwealth and the Queensland Governments, we are still liable for our share of the cost of investigations.
– I direct attention to the item, “ Shipping and mail services to the Pacific Islands,£6,830 “. Can the Minister say if the subsidies paid to Burns Philp and other companies trading to the Mandated Territory and Papua are borne solely by the Commonwealth? I have raised this subject because of a press statement attributed to Mr.F.H. G. Simcocks, the Acting-Treasurer of the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, that the Treasury was overflowing and the authorities hardly knew what to do with the money. That state of affairs appears to exist notwithstanding that whilst goldmining companies in New Guinea have been severely taxed other interests have been allowed to go tax free. In view of the healthy state of the finances of NewGuinea, the Commonwealth Government should not be called upon to pay the whole of the subsidies.
Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [4.6]. - The present Estimates show that this year, instead of a surplus of £20,000 or more, the surplus of the Mandated Territory of New Guinea is estimated at only a few hundred pounds. A subsidy is paid in respect of the shipping service to New Guinea in the interest, not of that territory, but of the Commonwealth. If there were no adequate shipping service between New Guinea and Australia, trade would be diverted from that territory to the East. The withdrawal of the subsidy would not perturb the people of New Guinea ;. they would still be able to secure adequate shipping service to and from other parts ofthe world. The subsidy is paid by the Commonwealth in order to maintain a shipping service manned by white crews and in the hope that the existing trade between the mainland and the territories will be expanded as time goes on.
SenatorBROWN (Queensland) [4.8]. - The sum of £570 is set down under the heading “ Fisheries Investigations “, probably for the salaries of the officers engaged in such investigation. According to the Sydney Morning Herald the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) has announced that Dr. Harold Thompson, the Director of Fisheries Research in Newfoundland, has been appointed to take charge of the investigations at a salary of £1,000 per annum for a period of five years, and will arrive in Australia next January. I do not doubt that Dr. Thompson possesses high qualifications, but I desire to know why an officer connected with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, who has been engaged in these investigations for several years, or some other Australian possessing the requisite knowledge, has not been selected for this position.
[4.9]. - The investigations to be undertaken under the direction of Dr. Harold Thompson relate to only one branch of the fishing industry - a branch which has not ‘been developed in Australian waters hitherto, although considerable developments along such lines have taken place in other countries and have proved most profitable. It is only natural, therefore, that there is no one in Australia with asufficient knowledge of the general direction of the industry to undertake this work; and consequently, the Government has made an appointment from outside Australia. Dr. Harold Thompson has been appointed to advise the Minister on the general direction of the research into this industry. It is true, as Senator Brown has stated, that several Commonwealth officers have knowledge of some phases of the fishing industry ; and the Government intends to utilize their services fully. It will not go outside Australia for its officers if suitable men canbe found in this country; but only a man with a wide experience of the fishing industry generally would be capable of advising the Government.
– I am of the opinion that funds should be made available to enable the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, which is doing service of great value to the community, to undertake research into tropical agriculture. A large portion of Australia is within the tropics, and although for many years there was a general belief that white men could not live in such areas, we now know that some of the finest specimens of Australian manhood are to be found in the tropical parts of Queensland. I think it was Lord Birkenhead who said in his book that in 2030 most, if not all, of the agricultural products of the world would be grown in tropical regions. Australia needs population; and in no part of this country could the population be increased to greater advantage than in the tropical north. In my opinion, an organization should be established to investigate, not only the problems connected with tropical agriculture, but also the means by which tropical areas at present without white population could be made healthy and suitable for whites. Australia’s future is, to a great extent, bound up with the development of its tropical areas, and I should like to see more attention given to the investigation of problems connected with them.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [4.13]. - The field of investigation mentioned by the honorable senator has not been neglected by the Government. The School of Tropical Medicine, which is investigating tropical diseases, is pursuing a line of research which is of great importance to the northern portions of the Commonwealth, and also to the territories under its control. Those territories haveagricultural problems different from those of the mainland of Australia. The agricultural departments of the States contain officers competent to deal with the problems which arise on the mainland in areas under their control; but the Commonwealth is responsible for “ dealing with these problems in Papua and the Mandated Territory of New Guinea. The honorable senator may be interested to know that only to-day I approved of an advertisement calling for applications for the position of Adviser on Tropical Agriculture in the Mandated Territory of New Guinea. The advertisement will at first bo confined to newspapers circulating in the Commonwealth; but should a suitable applicant not be forthcoming from within Australia, it will be extended to other places. There are great possibilities of expanding the agricultural industry in both Papua and the Mandated Territory of New Guinea. Already some useful work has been done in this connexion. Honorable senators and others who may be interested should read the latest reports of the Administrator of the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, and of the Lieutenant-Governor of Papua. Those reports show that a good deal has already been done; but the Government recognizes that the time has arrived for a more active policy in this connexion.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote - Department of External Affairs, £3,140 - agreed to.
Proposed vote, £136,130.
– The sum of £7,000 is set down for salaries and expenses associated with the Bureau of Census and Statistics. Our statistics relating to unemployment and the distribution of incomes are not reliable. Before either a business concern or a nation can plan its programme satisfactorily it must have on hand reliable and sufficient data to guide it. The statistics relating to unemployment are based on figures supplied by reporting trades unions.
– The information is most inaccurate.
– That is so. It does not cover workers who are not members of trades unions, or those engaged in rural industries. I have discussed this subject with officers of the department, and I believe that, at no great cost, it would be possible to obtain more reliable figures in relation to unemployment, and as to the classes of people who are employed, than those which are now published. Should Australia embark upon a policy of expanding its secondary industries, we should know in what directions to direct our efforts, but at present it i3 impossible to obtain reliable information on which to base a sound system of apprenticeship. We are, as it were, flying blind. In regard to the distribution of the national income, it is most important that we should know whether or not conditions are improving from year to year. These figures arc relatively more important than those relating to unemployment. The census returns of 1933 showed that, including pensioners and children, over 3,000,000 people in this country possessed no taxable income whatever. In my opinion, that figure is unreliable. It is based on information obtained when this country was in the depths of a depression. Greater co-operation .between the taxation authorities and the statistical bureaux of the States would give much better results than we are now getting. I sincerely trust that the leader of the Senate will give serious consideration to the representations which I have made, and even if the compilation of additional statistics should prove expensive, I believe the expense will be fully justified because of their. value in the planning of our national economy.
– It is true that the method at present adopted in the compilation of statistics covering a number of matters such as those to which Senator Hardy has referred, including unemployment and incomes earned and not earned, leaves much to be desired. In regard to the unemployment figures secured from the trade unions it is contended that they show only a proportion of the persons employed or unemployed as the case may be, but such particulars are valuable as providing a means of comparison, because they are the only basis upon which figures relative to unemployment arc obtained. As the basis is always the same the percentage increase or decrease over a given period can always be ascertained. It is true also - and this is a vital pointthat in obtaining figures in that way no notice is. taken of the tens of thousandsof youths who are approaching manhood, but who, since leaving school, have never had a job, and consequently are not members of trade unions and cannot be counted in the lists of unemployed supplied by them. Senator Hardy made a mistake in the figures which he cited regarding the number of breadwinners.
– I did not use the word “ breadwinners “ ; I said persons.
– The honorable senator at any rate said that there were over 3,000,000 persons who were not in receipt of any income at all.
– The figures which I cited are shown at page 11 of the census return for 1933.
– According to the Commonwealth Year-Booh for 1935, in which the census figures of 1933 are published, Senator. Hardy has greatly exaggerated the position. Does the honorable senator seriously suggest that of a total of 6,500,000 persons in Australia, half are not earning anything? Whilst the compilation of statistics in Australia is a discredit to this Parliament, I think it would be unwise to allow the figures cited by Senator Hardy to go unchallenged.
– I agree with Senator Hardy and Senator Collings that considerable improvement could be effected in the method of compiling statistics. In this respect Australia lags behind countries such as the United States of America and Germany, in which very elaborate statistics of all their activities are kept. Senator Collings has referred to breadwinners. Great difficulty is experienced by reason of the varying definitions of breadwinner used in the various States and by the Commonwealth. In one State, breadwinner is deemed to be a person, either male or female’, who earns money for his sustenance; in another case the breadwinner is the head of the family. The result of this confusion in the definition of breadwinners is to destroy to a great extent the value of the statistics relating to them. To give another illustration of the defects of our statistical records, I point out that recently I endeavoured in vain to ascertain figures relating to the manufacture and consumption of bread’ and certain other goods, in New South Wales. There are no statistics showing the number of men and women employed, their occupations, or their earnings, which would serve as reliable data for economic planning.’ The same state of affairs exists in connexion with statistics relating to foreign and empire trade with Australia. It is true that statistics are compiled relating to our trade with Great Britain, and they are both informative and useful, but when we leave unilateral trade and turn to bilateral trade with countries like Japan, we can get no reliable statistics at all. Any attempt to ascertain the facts regarding bilateral trade results in only problematical figures being supplied, and in regard to multilateral trade, in which several different countries are involved, no figures whatsoever are kept. The time is not far distant when a complete and compact record must be kept of the trade between the various nations. It is imperative that there should be accurate figures showing the balance of trade. Accurate figures relating to trade balances and rates of exchange are very necessary in any system of planned economy. Owing to the vast complexity of international trade it is very difficult to obtain accurate information on these matters. It is time that the nations of the world began a complete compilation of statistics covering international trade, and Australia should adopt this practice, in relation to its trade not only with Great Britain, but also with other countries. International trade is becoming largely a form of barter. Some countries, including Germany, say frankly that that is the only basis upon which they will trade with others, and it behoves Australia to know, by the aid of scientificallydissected statistics, just how it stands in relation to international trade.
– Senator Hardy is to be commended for bringing this matter before the Senate, and I am sure that every honorable senator will strongly support him and the Government in any effort to improve the value of our statistical records and the methods of their compilation. Many trade unions do not keep complete records of their members who are unemployed. As a matter of fact, one of the biggest unions in Australia could not say how many of its members were out of work. A person belonging to that organization mav lose his employment and drift’ into some other avocation, whereupon the union loses trace of him. I was a mem ber of an organization, and often recall with amusement the methods adopted by certain individuals who sought to ascertain now many of its members were unemployed. The union did not keep a record of its unemployed members, but it did its best to get work for them.
– But it kept a .check of its financial members.
– If a member was unfortunate enough to be unemployed, and subsequently found a job, the organization waited several months before it asked him to pay his dues.
– That is an example which all unions should follow.
– It would be well if other organizations could adopt such a policy, but all are not in the happy position of the one to which I have referred. I mention this to show how false some statistics regarding unemployment may be, not because of a lack of interest on the part of the organizations, but because it- is impossible for them to keep a record of every member who may become unemployed. As Senator Hardy has cogently remarked, these are days of social and economic planning, and governments are steadily moving in the direction of controlling national industries. But can any one ascertain with certainty the details of production in Australia? Have we any industrial statistics that correspond with an army’s record, which shows, the number of persons of all ranks in each arm, as well as the material. Some time ago, I made investigations relative to the ability of Australia to maintain itself, but I learned that there are no complete statistics in regard to food, clothing, and shelter, for instance. Can any one say with any certainty how many suits of clothes we can produce in Australia, and the number of people engaged in the making of them? How far can we increase the production of clothing, boots, blankets, house utensils, and the like? What are the numbers of carpenters, plumbers and other artisans, and of operatives in the various factories?
– There is no difficulty in ascertaining the number of politicians.
– But it is difficult to discover how many of them are statesmen. It would be a statesmanlike effort on the part of the Government, however, if it improved the compilation methods adopted by the statistical bureau in order to make a complete inventory of the nation’s resources. I support the request of Senator Hardy, because such information would be of great advantage to the country.
– In my opening remarks I said that there were over 3,000,000 persons in Australia who were not in receipt of any income; but, as that figure includes not only adults, but also children, it is not reliable as an indication of the number of unemployed. Moreover, there is a good deal of difference of opinion as to what constitutes a breadwinner. I again bring before the Government the desirableness of appointing a select committee, with power to confer with the Commonwealth and State statisticians. Such a committee could submit a report to the Senate on the practicability of obtaining reliable figures on unemployment and the distribution of income. Failing the appointment of a select committee, will the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) undertake to bring the matter before Cabinet and advise the Senate of the result? It would not be expensive to convene an informal conference of the members of a select committee and the Commonwealth and State statisticians, in order to formulate a scheme to bring about the desired result.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [4.38]. - The inquiries now being made into the subject of national insurance have impressed upon the Government that Commonwealth statistics are inadequate. The Treasurer (Mr. Casey) is at present going into the matter of improving our machinery for the collection of statistics. It is not within my province to bring the matter before Cabinet, but the remarks of honorable senators will be brought under the notice of the Treasurer. The figures relating to the distribution of income are most misleading. The term “ bread-winner “, apart from its statistical worth, does not convey anything. Persons who regard a bread-winner as one responsible for the maintenance of a home, are appalled when told that hundreds of thousands of bread-winners receive less than £2 a week. An examination of the Year-Booh or the census figures discloses that bread-winners include all those who earn anything at all, including even apprentices earning 5s. a week. The term also includes invalid and old-age pensioners, who do not earn any income at all, but receive payment from the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth Statistician realizes that false deductions can be drawn from his figures, and on page 554 of the Commonwealth Y ear-Book for 1935 he states -
The census figures have not so far been analysed separately for employers, those working on own account, wage and salary earners, those in part-time employment, unemployed persons, apprentices, and pensioners. Consequently, conclusions can as yet be drawn only with respect to the incomes of all breadwinners as a group, and not with respect to the incomes of wage-earners, or any other individual section of bread-winners.
Speaking in South Australia, the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives disregarded that injunction, and used the ‘term “ bread-winner “ in its broadest sense in an endeavour to show the low wages paid in Australia. A better term is desirable, and a more extensive re-grouping of these statistics should be made, in order that reliable deductions may be drawn.
– The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) said that the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Curtin) used the term “ breadwinner “ in its broadest sense in order to show the low wages paid in Australia. I trust that the Minister will convey to the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) the desire of the members of the Opposition in this chamber in regard to Commonwealth statistics. A wealth and income census should be taken in Australia without delay, so that there can he no argument as to what the facts really are.
– Is the honorable senator preparing for a capital levy?
– The sooner it comes the better; when it is proposed I shall support it. There is no ambiguity at all in the figures published in the Commonwealth Year-Booh for 1935. The remarks of the Minister concerning the foggy nature of the term “ breadwinner “ cannot conceal the fact that there are 392,435 persons in the Commonwealth who do not receive any income at all.
– That was the number of unemployed in 1934.
– At that time there were nearly 400,000 who did not. receive any income. These figures cannot be watered down by suggesting that they do not mean what they disclose. I agree entirely with Senator Hardy, who advocates a better method of collecting statistics. We cannot afford to continue meeting the expenditure incurred by the Commonwealth Statistician’s Department if it. is incapable, unwilling, or is not allowed to compile statistics to enable members of this Parliament to support their statements.
– The honorable senator is quoting figures compiled three or four years ago.
– I am not. I know that the Government and the party which Senator Hardy leads in this chamber are attempting to discount these figures, which disclose such a shocking state of affairs, because they are afraid that the information will be used by their political opponents. We cannot deny the fact that m 1934 nearly 400,000 persons in this country did not receive any income. In addition to the number mentioned, there were nearly 750,000 who did .not earn 20s. a week, and over 500,000 who received less than £103 per annum.
– I do not feel inclined to become agitated over the remarks of Senator Hardy, because I feel that ai last he is realizing the truth of the arguments we have adduced. Although I cannot recall his exact words, I believe he wishes to be supplied with more accurate statistics concerning the inequitable distribution of wealth in this country. 1 am pleased that the subject has been raised, because, if the information desired is made available, honorable senators and the people of Australia will be able to
Bee how the wealth of the Commonwealth is distributed. At last the honorable senator is showing some consideration for those who have always been faced with adversity.
A census of the wealth of Australia, taken twenty years ago, showed that 4 per cent, of the people owned 60 per cent, of the wealth of this country.
– How does the honorable senator define wealth?
– By wealth I mean material assets, such, as money in the bank, stocks and shares, and land. There is also, of course, wealth of mind, pleasure in the arts and sciences and other noble things, in which politics and perhaps what is known as statesmanship do not share. But the wealth of which’ I am speaking is money or its equivalent, and does not consist of the reputation one has among friends or the disreputation one may have among enemies. If I had the time I could produce some propaganda issued by the Labour party at the time of the census, drawing attention to the disparity it revealed in the distribution of. wealth. Senator Hardy drew attention to the incompleteness of certain statistics, and much of his criticism wo members of the Opposition can endorse. For instance, I. should like to know how much each man in this country owns.
– How much he owes.
– What a man owes can be concealed and it is also a fact that a man can conceal what he owns. ‘ This is known by the income tax officials.
– In the case of Trautwein-
– Trautwein is to be forced to pay £162,000 to the income tax authorities.
– He was a good Labour man.
– If he was ever a good Labour man I am glad that we have lost him.
– At any rate he was as good a man as money could buy.
– He is the man whose gold pass is embellished with some of the finest diamonds in Australia. It is very interesting to know what he owes. I am quite willing to tell people what I own, and earn, and owe, but we cannot get that, information about the big financial masters. It is against the law for the Taxation Commissioner to reveal it.
– The information waa obtained from the wheat-growers.
– Most of the wheat-growers should know that they are in the position of working for masters, although they are certainly little capitalists.
– Who are their rn asters ?
– They certainly have masters in the banks and mercantile firms. We may deceive ourselves into believing that our 7,000,000 people own Australia, and that we have no masters, but there is no doubt that we have financial masters, who, in turn, have to take their directions from the bigger men in London and New York. I shall cite a passage from The New Era-
– Order! The item under discussion is “ Census and Statistics “. The matter to which the honorable senator is referring has nothing whatever to do with the question.
– I disagree with certain statistics published in the Commonwealth Year-Booh, because they are incomplete, and I agree with a good deal of what Senator Hardy has said regarding the necessity for the disclosure of further information. The first idea in Senator Hardy’s mind was to get some gauge of the wealth of the big people in Australia. We should like to know the earnings of, not only the small men, but also of big men like Trautwein, who can stud his gold pass with diamonds, and yet “ do “ the Commonwealth and State Governments for tens of thousands of pounds.
– The royal commission could not even find out what Trautwein got out of the fruit machines.
– More shame to the royal commission. More power should be given to the authorities to demand complete information about the wealth of every individual, institution, company, or bank.
– It would take a royal commission to find out why Trautwein was in the Labour party.
– There arp numbers of people in that party, as wf-11 as in other parties, who are members of it for the good of themselves rather than of the party. I should like to quote several passages 1 rom The New Era, but it is sufficient to say that the great masters of the world hold meetings which direct the financial policy of the world, and, as I have said before in this chamber, our great private banks receive their directions from London and New York. Although I am opposed to the theory of the Douglas Credit system-
The CHA.LIi.MAE.- That has nothing to do with the item.
– I am sorry to disagree, but it has a good deal to do with census and statistics.
– Tell us something about Alberta.
– I am glad that the government of Alberta has taken a new step forward. Senator Dein reminds me of a schoolmaster who knows nothing outside his text books. In order that the honorable senator may acquaint himself with his opponents’ case I ask him to read this article in Tha New Era.
– -The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– I agree with many of the remarks made regarding the insufficiency of the statistical knowledge that is collated; the analyses of the various branches of statistics are by no means perfect. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) laid stress upon the large number of people in Australia who are alleged to have no income. But I think that the figures are misleading in that they include people who, on account of age conditions, could not be expected to make an income. We all wish that wealth could be more equally spread, but I direct the attention of Senator Collings to the fact that in no country in the world is wealth so evenly distributed as in Australia, and also to the fact that in no other country aTe there so many savings bank accounts in proportion to the population as there are in Australia. More than 4,000,000 people in Australia have savings accounts. T counsel Senator Collings to look at the statistics and compare the conditions of employment, the wealth per capita, and the savings bank deposits in Australia to-day after the Lyons Government has been a few years in office with the condition of affairs when the Labour party was in power. If he did so, the honorable senator would be sorry that he spoke.
I he CHAIRMAN. - Order ! The honorable senator may not enter upon a dissertation on the Lyons Government or any other government.
– Perhaps the statistics are not so complete and up to date as we should wish to have them, but they do show an enormous increase of employment, and savings, and a wide distribution of wealth in comparison with what obtains in other countries.
– Does the honorable senator believe that wealth should be mors evenly distributed in Australia ?
– I do. The more evenly wealth is spread over the whole community the better for the country.
– If a man supports his wife, she is shown in the census as unemployed.
– The statistics should be more completely analysed so that we might have available to us all possible data to enable us to form our judgments and govern this country for the betterment of its people.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote - Attorney-General, £34,720 - agreed to.
Department of the Interior.
Proposed vote, £75,430.
– I should like some information from the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) as to the intentions of the Government regarding the future of the Australian Forestry School at Canberra. There has been a good deal of discussion concerning the Forestry School, and particularly as to whether it will be supported by the States. I understand that in the current year there are only four students at the school. If my memory is correct, the Leader of the Senate stated in an earlier period of the session that unless the States were prepared to give more support to the school, it would have to r.* closed. I ask the Minister to inform the Senate whether he has received any further promises of support from the States since he made that statement. Is there any likelihood of an increased enrolment of students? Is it the intention of the Government to continue the maintenance of a forestry training school at Canberra? This is an important matter, since there has been a good deal of controversy in the newspapers of the States on the subject. There has been much debate as to the merits and demerits of the school, and in view cf the attitude of the States, I should like to know the intentions of the Commonwealth Government in regard to it.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [5.5]. - This is a matter in which I also am keenly interested, and 1 am sure honorable senators will be pleased to learn that it is the intention of the Government to keep the forestry school open if sufficient students are provided by the States. The school was established on the definite understanding that the various States would send students in sufficient numbers to justify the capital expenditure and cost of maintenance. For a time the States did this. The Commonwealth did not ask the State Governments to share the expenditure.
– Have all the States declined to send students?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.No. New South Wales alone has taken up that attitude, but financial. difficulties in recent years have been mainly responsible for the majority of the States failing to send students. Some time ago, despairing of getting sufficient students, the Minister for the Interior announced that unless the States fulfilled their part of the agreement the Government would be obliged to close the school. Shortly afterwards, so the Minister informed .me, some of the States, realizing the unwisdom of allowing the school to be closed, reopened negotiations with a view to sending students to it. The Minister further informed me that, because of these overtures he was hopeful that it would not be necessary to close the school. It was established for the definite purpose of preventing further overlapping of Commonwealth and State functions, and in the confident belief that a central school of forestry, well staffed and properly equipped, would be able to do better work than six State forestry schools.
– I agree with what the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) has said as to the importance of keeping open the forestry school established at Canberra. On the authority of the Director of Forestry in Queensland, 1 can say definitely that the Queeusland Government will do its best to co-operate with the Commonwealth in carrying on this important work at Canberra.
– That was not the attitude of Mr. Swain when he was Director of Forestry in Queensland.
– Mr. Swain is now employed by the New South Wales Government. Possibly his transfer to New South Wales is responsible for the attitude of that State. The position which has arisen in connexion with the forestry school merely emphasizes the necessity for greater power being vested in the Commonwealth in order to prevent the overlapping of Commonwealth and State functions.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [5.9]. - I have just been informed that the only opposition to the Commonwealth school of forestry at Canberra comes from the New South Wales and Victorian Forestry Commissions. The Melbourne University is sympathetic and is arranging this year to send two students from Victoria. Professor Ewart has strongly urged that the school should not bo closed without giving the States at least two years notice. South Australia, I understand, has offered to send two students this year, Western Australia is sending one., and Queensland has intimated that it will give every possible assistance to the Commonwealth in carrying on the school.
– Queensland will send two students this year.
– How many students could the school accommodate?
– I should say that it could take an unlimited number, but I think the normal number is about fourteen.
].- I was very glad indeed to hear the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) say that it wa3 not the intention of tha Government to close the forestry school at Canberra. Such a step would be a tragedy to the Commonwealth, for I know of no activity that should be more helpful to the nation than the efficient instruction of students in forestry principles
– Does the honorable senator think that forestry can be conducted on a national basis ?
– As to the training of students, I believe it can, but sufficient students are essential in order to ensure instruction by the most competent experts.
– I understand that the principal objection of the States is that at Canberra opportunities for field work are limited.
– If that is so the States must be held to some extent responsible because of their neglect of afforestation hitherto. In recent years I have had an opportunity to visit other countries, and I have been impressed by the importance attached by them to the science of afforestation. In one country every acre of land that is not suitable for ordinary agricultural operations is devoted to afforestation, with the result that the country will, before long, be selfsupporting in respect of softwoods for its various industries. It is lamentable that vast areas of densely wooded land in Australia have been denuded of commercial timber. If thi3 short-sighted policy continues much longer we shall one day have to rely entirely on imported timbers for our industries. I hope that the importance of this subject will not be overlooked and that nothing will be left undone to keep open the forestry school at Canberra.
– I rise to add a footnote to what has been said on this important subject of afforestation. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) rather suggested, I think, that the States were not doing the fair thin ft by the Commonwealth which, he said, had established the forestry school for the general good. I do not think that his remarks adequately set out the real position. I have not the papers by me, but I know that for many years the leading universities in Australia - I think there were only three in existence at that time - were a good deal concerned as to how they could give instruction in what might be regarded as the minor subjects,- using minor in the sense that not many students were offering. Obviously, it was undesirable to have overlapping. As a result of an agreement between them it was arranged that Sydney should have anthropology, Melbourne veterinary science, and Adelaide forestry. That was the distribution; but, unfortunately, while Sydney University established a faculty of anthropology, and Melbourne I think got a chair of veterinary science, Adelaide lost the forestry school to the Commonwealth.
– Sydney University also has a school of veterinary science.
– What 1 said removes, I think, the objection that the States were under some obligation to the Commonwealth in connexion with the forestry school at Canberra. As a matter of fact they have supported the school, but I was a little surprised to hear the Leader of the Senate say, although I do not question the accuracy of his statement, that my State would be sending two students to the forestry school this year, because only a few months ago a State Minister informed me in writing that the State would not be doing so.
– My information comes from the department.
– Then probably the State Government has changed its mind. I do not wish to discuss the general merits of the case. I have no doubt that the forestry school at Canberra is doing good work, but I think also that we should consider how far we can go to keep open a school which in its way may be valuable, but which is not being adequately supported.
– Not sufficient is done in Australia to encourage afforestation and the proper utilization of our wonderful timbers. Recently I visited the Atherton Tableland, where I saw large areas of magnificent mountain timber. In order to show the remarkable value of some of our Australian timbers, I pass on to the committee some information which I learned when at Ravenshoe. A man who paid £1,500 for an area of land, a few weeks later sold one tree to a Sydney company for £1,150. Until a Japanese buyer bought some fallen timber, and even some ‘roots, which had been lying on the- ground for several years, this potential source of wealth was not recognized. Australian timbers, from which some of the finest veneers in the world are obtainable, are valued by other people, if not by ourselves. A school of forestry is necessary, not only to encourage the .growing of suitable timbers, but also to show how to make the best use of them, when grown. Logs which have lain on the ground for several years have recently been exported to the United States of America and Great Britain, where they are highly valued for the making of veneers. I regret that the Government of New South Wales has not seen fit to send its forestry pupils to the Australian School of Forestry, and, particularly, that the State Minister for Forests is reported to be hostile to the school.
– On purely technical grounds only.
– That is so. But this subject is too big for technicalities; it is of national importance. I should like to see greater interest taken by the States in the Australian School of Forestry.
– I should like some explanation of the amount of £8,670 set down under the heading “ Works and Buildings “ and of a similar sum for “ Rent of Buildings “.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [5.27].- The Department of the Interior acts as landlord for all departments. It is responsible for all painting, decorating, repairs and other maintenance of government buildings, and for the payment of rent for all departments.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Defence.
Proposed vote, £825,980.
.- Sums of £12,000, £22,000 and £7,000 are provided under the heading “ Exchange “. I cannot think that these amounts relate to salaries and payments in the nature of salaries, because I take- it that all salaries are paid in Australian currency. It would appear, therefore, that they have reference to purchases made outside Australia, but I should like to have some definite information on the subject.
[5.29]. - The amounts under the heading “ Exchange “ relate mainly to purchases made by the Defence Department overseas. For instance, although a special appropriation was made in respect of the cruiser Sydney, and the money placed in a trust fund, payments have still to be made. Exchange on such amounts must be provided. Moreover large sums of money are required to pay for the guns required for the protection of Sydney, Newcastle and Perth, and exchange on such payments is provided under this appropriation. The amountrepresented by exchange on salaries is small ; the greater portion of these sums is for exchange on the cost of guns, ammunition and materials purchased overseas.
– Unfortunately, the time has arrived when the people of Australia should be given instruction in the use of gas masks. It is not sufficient merely to issue masks to civilians; the people need to be instructed in their proper use. It is too late to give that training when a state of hysteria exists. I realize that the Government has done something in this direction, in cooperation with that splendid organization known as the St. John Ambulance Association; but it should do more. Recently, I attended a public meeting convened to impress on the civil population the wisdom of learning the use of gas masks, and I was amazed at. the lack of interest taken by the public. In the absence of the mayor of thu town, I acted as chairman of the meeting, and was astonished to learn that all the expenses in connexion with it had been undertaken by a number of public spirited members of the St. John Ambulance Association. I hope that the time will never come when the people of this country will have to wear ga3 masks because of an enemy attack; but it is well to be prepared. I have rot bren approached bv any officer nf the St. John Ambulance Association wir.ii [he view to seeking government as.«i. la::te for that organization; but I suggest ;hat some assistance be given to it, and also that definite instruction be given in the use of gas masks, if necessary, to the children in our schools.
– Training in tlie use of gas masks should be given as in the case of life-belt drill at sea.
– I ask the Government, to give this important matter its most serious consideration.
Barter Sir GEORGE PEARCE (West ern Austraia - Minister for External Affairs) [5.35]. - I assure the honorable seu £ tor that this matter has not been overlooked. On the contrary, it was taken up with the State governments at the recent Premiers conference at Ade aide and an agreement was arrived at as to the organisation, because it is obvious that State services, such as the fire brigade, the police force and the ambulance, would have to be used in cases of emergency. Therefore, it is necessary to secure the co-operation of the States and bodies formed under State laws. That has been done, and the Commonwealth and the States are in full agreement as to the plan and the manner in which it is to be carried out. The responsibility for organization will devolve upon the State governments. The Commonwealth Government will provide training equipment, such as antigas respirators, gas substitutes, hand books and instructional manuals, at a cost of approximately £2,500, and assistance will also be rendered by the Defence Department by providing a course of gas training and furnishing information and technical advice to the State authorities on the organization of protective measures. Preparation for the rapid distribution of the necessary equipment in the event of an emergency is also being taken up by the Defence Department.
– From newspaper statements, I understand that it is the intention of the Government . to establish inter-capital air mail services in the near future, and that, in o ‘der to expedite the carriage of mails between lV,e capital cities it ; proposed to subsidize a service of fast-flying aeroplanes which will travel at night. To that I have no objection, but I have a very definite complaint that the claims of intermediate towns between tue capital cities are not to be considered in that project. It seem: to me to be uneconomic to fly the mail from Sydney to Melbourne and not to serve the intermediate towns en route, many of which, such as Wagga, the capital of the Riverina, and Albury, are re-distributing centres for large” districts. The Government should seriously consider the adoption of a system of dropping mails byarachute at intermediate towns, as is one in the United States of America, or of providing intermediate stopping places at the more- thickly populated country centres. There is no reason why the proposed fast mail planes, which will also carry passengers, should be limited to inter-capital services. The service should be extended to any centre where a large population is concentrated.
My second complaint is one, the justice of which will be readily recognized by any one who has used the CanberraMelbourne aerial service. The route now followed between Canberra and Melbourne is definitely not compatible wilh the best interests of safety. The tragic disappearance of the air liner SouthernCloud a few years ago provided a striking instance of the unsuitability of this route. From all material evidence, it appears that the bones of the Southern Cloud are lying in the ranges between Canberra and Melbourne. That, at any rate, is the almost unanimous opinion of people who have studied the circumstances of that tragic disappearance. I am sure that anybody who travels in the Canberra-Me’ bourne plane over the Southern Alps which constitute some of the most precipitous and rugged country in the Commonwealth, will agree that such a route is not compatible with the best interest’s of safety. Under certain weather conditions the plants operating on that service have to fly as high as 12,000 feet, and fight their way through blizzards. Only six weeks ago, one of the mail planes engaged on that route, because the accumulation of ice on the wings rendered it unsafe to attempt the crossing of the ranges, had to be diverted from its course and make a landing at Cootamundra. Instead of crossing country in which emergency landing grounds can never be provided, the route should take in Wagga and Albury, following the chain of well-lighted towns on the southern railway. Only a few months ago the Dutch air liner was saved from certain disaster because, instead of taking the direct route to Melbourne, it followed the direct line of well-lighted towns. On that historic occasion, the promptitude and resourcefulness of the people of Albury guided the liner to safety. For the sake of a saving of fifteen or twenty minutes in travelling time, the Civil Aviation Department cannot ignore the desirableness of altering the route so that the aeroplanes will fly over open country instead of being forced to cross the rugged and precipitous mountains.
Another important mutter which comes under the heading of civil aviation is the provision of landing grounds at country centres. When a country town desires to construct a landing ground, the usual procedure is to ask the local governing body to set aside land for the purpose. But, because of the density of settlement in the large country towns, it is difficult to set out an area containing the one-half square mile required by the authorities for classification as an A-class aerodrome. The provision of A-class aerodromes is a matter, not for the local authorities, but for the national authorities, and the Commonwealth Government should not hesitate to come to the aid of any local governing body by resuming land, and providing the necessary funds for its preparation. Officers of the Civil Aviation Department will substantiate my statement that, in many country towns, the aerodromes are of all shapes and sizes, some triangular and some rectangular. Is it wise to permit this haphazard state of affairs to continue? Australia is about to embark upon a large civil aviation programme, and it is essential that we should have first-class aerodromes which conform to the strict specifications of the Civil Aviation Department, and which are in accordance with a national plan. I trust that the Minister will ‘ give an affirmative reply to my three requests - fir-t. that the Government shall seriously entertain the question of serving intermediate towns with fast air mails, and that it will hot reserve this privilege for the capital cities; secondly, that the direct air mail route between Canberra and Melbourne be further investigated, with a view to its deviation to cover the chain of well-lighted towns; and, thirdly, that the Government shall take a national view of the construction and selection of aerodrome sites, and that it will assist local governing bodies to construct landing grounds which may become a part of a national plan of civil aviation.
.- Senator Hardy has raised several interesting matters. The overseas mail is delivered in Sydney by aeroplane, and is then sent on to the less fortunate capitals by train. A short time ago when the Director of Civil Aviation was in Adelaide, a deputation waited on him to suggest that it would be reasonable that other capital cities should also be served direct,’ and not by train from Sydney. On behalf of the deputation, the president of the South Australian Chamber of Commerce suggested that the planes should fly direct from Darwin to Adelaide. The Director of Civil Aviation seemed to see a good deal of merit in the suggestion. I have no desire to misrepresent him, but I gathered from what I read that he was sympathetic towards the proposal, and he suggested that application should be made to the responsible authorities. On behalf of my State I therefore now bring this matter forward. I have no desire that the country should be involved in a great deal of expense which may be regarded as unnecessary, but it seems to me that it should be at least possible to link up the overseas mails from Sydney to Melbourne and Adelaide by air, and that the present system should be discontinued.
– And that the service should be extended to the intermediate towns.
– That is another matter. The second question raised by the honorable senator concerned the route between Melbourne and Sydney or particularly that between Melbourne and Canberra. I speak without real certainty with regard to this matter, but I think that the pilots in charge of the aeroplanes on that service adjust their route to weather conditions, that is to say, when they encounter good flying conditions they go by the straight route. I travelled over this route last week and we made the flight from Melbourne to Canberra, a distance of 320 miles, in two hours, arriving at Canberra half an hour before schedule time. On that occasion we travelled via Tea and Holbrook.
– I referred to night flying.
– HUGHES. - What the honorable senator said applied also to the day service and the desirability of not flying over country where no suitable landing grounds are provided. When weather conditions are unfavorable pilots make a wider circuit in flying to Canberra. When an aeroplane is flying at 8,000 feet the suitability of landing places is not of great importance, because if a machine were forced down from that height only a clever pilot could effect a satisfactory landing. I believe that an attempt is made by pilots to safeguard passengers by varying the route according to weather conditions.
– I am thinking more particularly of light beacons.
– HUGHES. - A great deal can be said in favour of the installation of light beacons at certain points, but when an aeroplane is flying above the clouds lights are of no help. At present, the bulk of flying is done by day, and not by night.
The only other point I wish to stress is that mentioned by Senator Hardy in connexion with the selection of suitable sites for aerodromes. Some time ago I read an interesting book by Professor Webster, of Cambridge University, on the subject of noise. Until I read it, I knew nothing of the technical side of the subject, although we all know something about it in a general way, and probably have all come to substantially the same conclusions. Objectionable noises are made bv some motor cycles, by rivetting and drilling machines, and by aeroplanes, particularly at night. Professor Webster deals with the subject in a brief and lucid way, awd I recommend his hook, which is in the Parliamentary Library, to honorable senators. He is fully conversant with what ha3 been said and done recently in this connexion. One of the conclusions which he . reached is that it is most desirable that there should be some well-considered plan for selecting landing grounds for aeroplanes. He puts it in this way: generally speaking, aeroplanes serve capital cities where there are great numbers of inhabitants, and the noise, particularly at night, causes trouble and unnecessary annoyance to many people. I passed on the suggestion to the Minister for Defence because I feel convinced that, although it may appear rather pernickety, there is a good deal in it. Greater care should be exercised in selecting landing grounds, otherwise hundreds of thousands of persons may be seriously and unnecessarily inconvenienced.
– I notice that provision is made for the expenditure of £20,000 on the development of civil aviation; but I do not know whether that is to meet the cost of the personnel, or if it is to be expended in equipping aerodromes. If for the latter purpose, the amount is totally inadequate, particularly as the encouragement of civil aviation in Australia has been seriously neglected. I have been flying since 1915, when I used what was known as a “ Farnham pusher “, and even then I realized the great dangers that were incurred owing to the absence of suitable landing grounds. Unfortunately, there has been very little development since that time. There is not one first-class aerodrome in Australia, and the number at present available is inadequate. There is not even a proper landing ground at Albury, a most important centre, with a large population, and if an aeroplane is forced down at that point, the only ground on which it can land is the racecourse, where pilots incur great risks in avoiding wire fences used in connexion with coursing. Even if an aeroplane succeeds in landing safely the occupants are immediately hunted off the ground. I do not know if a suitable landing site is now available at “Wagga, but when I landed there some years ago the conditions were most unsatisfactory. While we have the best pilots in the world, our ground organization is most unsatisfactory.
– It is beyond the means of local-governing bodies to establish efficient aerodromes.
– Australia is far behind other nations in the matter of equipment, and until the importation of aeroplanes from the United States of America recently our machines also were inferior. In Melbourne, which has a population of over 1,000,000, the landing ground at Essendon is not only unsuitable but is also dangerous owing to a water tower in the centre. The site at Fishermen’s Bend should be acquired by the Commonwealth and developed because it i3 suitable for both aeroplanes and seaplanes. The parochial spirit displayed by some in the protracted negotiations is largely responsible for the delay in the development of a landing ground at Fishermen’s Bend. The construction of an aerodrome there should be regarded as an important national work. I am pleased that the Commonwealth Government has made a straight out offer of £100,000 to the Victorian Government for the site, and I trust that before long Melbourne will have a properly equipped air port. I agree with Senator Hardy as to the advisability and practicability of dropping mails from aeroplanes at the more important cities and towns. ThiB system has already been adopted in other countries; and has resulted in efficient mail services. The other day I read that in Russia, a country which claims to be more advanced in aviation than any other, light tanks and guns were transported by air and landed behind the lines. Moreover, it is almost compulsory for the Russian people to become proficient in the use of parachutes and in that way. develop an air sense.
– The light tanks and guns were not dropped by means of parachutes?
– Perhaps not. Even children are trained in the use of parachutes to make them air minded and alert. In Australia, governments have not done sufficient to develop aviation, military or civil.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External senators should await the works estimates before discussing undertakings for the present financial year. In discussing the schedule of a supply bill, it is not desirable to deal with the civil aviation policy of the Commonwealth. The speech delivered by the Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill) in the House of Representatives on works estimates covers all the subjects dealt with this afternoon, including intercapital services. This measure does not commit the Government to establishing services, but only to the ground organization to permit services to be provided. Two subjects raised to-day are relevant to the vote and to the main estimates, and it is upon these that I should like to speak briefly. One suggestion is that the Commonwealth should provide aerodromes at every important town in Australia. If that suggestion were adopted the development of civil aviation in Australia would be retarded because the Commonwealth would have to provide such large sums of money that it would not have funds available for wireless direction control, lighting equipment, and other ground organization. ‘ If honorable senators refer to the Estimates they will find that a large proportion of the expenditure proposed this year is for bringing our aerodromes up to date. Senator Guthrie, who said that our aerodromes are inefficient, should remember that large sums are needed to bring them up to date. Money is being expended so that it will be possible for aeroplanes to engage in night flying. If sites are to be purchased at specified centres, money will not be available for work such as I have mentioned. The Commonwealth should not be expected to purchase land, because it would be expected to pay more than would be asked of local authorities. Local-governing bodies have a responsibility to themselves and to the country, and should make available areas suitable for development as landing grounds. Much of such land is held in reserve. In Western Australia and in South Australia, adequate reserves are provided, portions of which can be used for aerodrome sites. Why should the Commonwealth be asked to resume land at fancy prices ?
– Why cannot the Commonwealth loan the money to the local governing authorities?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Where would be the difference? The Commonwealth would have to raise the money. A tremendous amount of money would have to be expended, whereas the most sensible way to deal with the problem would be for the local authorities to earmark lands for aerodromes. In that respect Tasmania has set an excellent example to the rest of the Commonwealth. The State has, at its own expense, developed some very fine aerodromes, and only in few instances has the Commonwealth been invited to assist in the work. In one instance, I think, £100 was obtained from the Commonwealth, and, in another instance, £200. Those aerodromes are on the main routes, not on the spur lines. The Commonwealth has helped in the development of aerodromes in other parts of the Commonweath. It ia much better for the Commonwealth te spend money by subsidizing local effort, than for it to undertake the resumption of lands and the development of aerodromes throughout Australia. If local authorities in districts which are not at present on the main air routes wish to encourage aviation, so that some day regular services may come their way, they should set aside cheap land for the purpose of laying out landing grounds.
Another point on which I wish to speak is the suggestion made by Senator Hardy that stops should be made by mail planes at the towns along the routes. I was Minister for Defence when civil aviation began in this country, and I have some knowledge of its development. Senator Hardy, with characteristic devotion to Wagga and the other beautiful provincial towns of New South Wales, wants these aeroplanes to stop at all of them. I remind him that the tendency of the railways is to cut out unnecessary stops. For instance, between Melbourne and Albury the only stop made by the Melbourne express is at Seymour, whereas iu the early days of parliamentary sittings at Canberra the train conveying members from Melbourne to the Federal Capital made nine or ten stops. The abolition of the unnecessary stops is due to a desire to reduce the time occupied on the journey. The mail planes which travel between the capital cities are intended to distribute the mail quickly. If they were compelled to make halfadozen stops between the cities the time occupied on the route would be lengthened instead of being curtailed.
– Senator Hardy did not suggest that the planes should stop at those towns.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.At present I am dealing with what is practicable. The practicability of dropping and picking up mail by aeroplanes in flight has not yet been demonstrated; at present the only practical and safe way for aeroplanes to pick up and dropmail is for them to land. If a plane conveying mail between the capital cities had to land at even the important towns en route the service would be slowed down and we should have a reversal of the policy of fast mail deliveries. As to the alternative suggestion that instead of mail-carrying aircraft making definite stops at towns the mail should be picked up and dropped by some patent device - parachutes for example, I venture to say that tho adoption of such a method would be accompanied by considerable danger. These planes travel at high speeds and, if for the purpose of picking up or dropping mail, they came near to the earth we should have a few more jobs for the Air Accidents Investigation Committee. When the mail planes are approaching the end of their journey the engines are shut off and, losing speed, the planes glide to the ground. If honorable senators contemplate, what Senator Hardy suggests they must also contemplate the risk of machines keeping up speed on their route while endeavouring to pick up and drop mails.
– Does the Leader of the Government think that the present route from Melbourne to Sydney via Canberra is a good one?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.That is a matter upon which I am not qualified to express an opinion. I assure honorable senators that all representations made on the subject of civil aviation will be brought under the notice of the Minister. Senator Duncan-Hughes advocates the distribution of the overseas mails from Darwin to Adelaide direct, instead of via Sydney and Melbourne, being transported thence to Adelaide by train. When I gave up control of civil aviation the idea was that mails from overseas destined for Adelaide should be dropped at Cootamundra and thence carried by plane to Adelaide via Broken Hill. It was the intention that Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth would each receive their mails on the same day. Tenders were called for such a service, but some hitch, of which I forget the details, occurred in the acceptance of the tender. When that was overcome and we were ready to call for further tenders, the contract for the carriage of mail between the Commonwealth and the United Kingdom came under consideration. We thought it advisable, therefore, to defer letting the contract for the distribution of the Adelaide mail until we had come to a determination regarding the air mail services to and from the United Kingdom.
I assure honorable senators generally that the development of civil aviation, is occupying a good deal of the time of the Government, with a view to the full utilization of this valuable means of transport. We are also endeavouring to induce the States to recognize the necessity for the Commonwealth to have complete control of civil aviation in Australia. At the Premiers Conference in Adelaide a fortnight ago, the States indicated their concurrence in this, and indicated their willingness to co-operate with the Commonwealth Government.
I suggest to Senator Guthrie that Australia has no reason to be ashamed of what it has done in civil aviation. It was one of the pioneers in this field. For some time Australia had the longest subsidized regular air route-of any country in the world, and for some time had flown a greater mileage than had been flown in any other country. It was overtaken by the United States of America, but if honorable senators compare what Australia is doing to-day in the matter of civil aviation with what other countries are doing, they will see that it has no reason to be ashamed.
– Does not the right honorable senator think that we have reason to be ashamed of our aerodromes t
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.No; I do not accept the honorable senator’s sweeping - condemnation of Australian aerodromes. There are places in Europe - London, Paris and Berlin for example - where the vast populations to be served enable the provision of aerodromes altogether beyond what are yet possible in Australia. I have read reports made by distinguished airmen who have visited Australia in which they have expressed themselves as being very well satisfied with what we have done in the provision of facilities for civil aviation. Nevertheless the Commonwealth Government realizes that the aerodromes have to be made more modern, and that is why we contemplate spending the money set out in the Estimates for the improvement of landing grounds and the provision of such refinements as wireless directional control, beacons and other modern developments of flying. Looking back on the past, we have every reason for pride; but that is no reason why we should stand still. We must not be content with what has been done. We must expend money on further developments, and we must get full value for that money.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– I agree with Senator Hardy and the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce), that government policy should not be directed to the establishment of a greater number of landing grounds but to the expenditure of a large capital sum on the resumption of areas in the large centres of population for the construction of aerodromes. I consider also, that, in view of the probable early developments in aviation, it would be wise to hasten slowly. The use of direction-finding apparatus for aeroplanes must revolutionize air navigation in the near future. [ understand that wireless beams from aerodromes ©quipped with modern appliances indicate on the dashboard in the pilot’s cabin his precise position, and at the same time give to the beam stations concerned accurate knowledge of the plane’s position thus enabling the pilot, in the event of any difficulty, and provided he has sufficient altitude, to make a safe landing, assuming, of course, that an emergency landing ground is within reasonable distance. Thus it would seem that, instead of spending huge sums on the erection of aerodromes throughout Australia, we should direct our attention to the preparation of emergency landing grounds along our main air routes at distances of not more than, say, 25 miles. It has also been suggested that, before many years have passed, it should be possible by utilizing some improved mechanical apparatus, for mails to be lifted by aeroplanes without the necessity for landing, thus ensuring greater speed. Actually this is being done even to-day in the United States of America. I read not long ago, that an American aeroplane, fully laden, took up three glider trailers, each carrying about five tons, transported them across the continent and dropped them at their appointed places. I understand that the glidertrailer is coming into general use in the United States of America, and I have no doubt that soon it will be adopted in other countries. All the evidence indicates that, just as the locomotive of to-day dwarfs the achievements of Stevenson’s “ Rocket “ so, in the near future will monster machines of the air dwarf the accomplishments of the aeroplane df to-day. Thus before incurring enormous expenditure on the construction of aerodromes, we should do well to lay solidly the foundations of our air policy by watching closely the developments in other countries, which in aviation matters are more advanced than Australia. I feel sure that by means of the trailer system, it will one day be possible to transport large numbers of passengers and considerable quantities of merchandise to places in the continent which, but for the aeroplane, would continue, in fact, to be remote from civilization. My suggestion may, to some, appear to be fantastic; but I assure the Senate that these things are being done to-day in the United States of America. By reason of its vast distances, Australia lends itself to the development of aviation. Already we have done much in this direction, and we have to pay a high compliment, not only to the companies which pioneered air services in Australia, but also to the large number of famous pilots - air navigators second to none - who have clone so much to promote aviation in Australia and the world generally. Recently, when I was in Nor- thern Queensland, where distances are being annihilated by the aeroplane, I was astounded to find that the majority of the people with whom I came in contact were definitely air-minded. In that part of the northern State they think nothing of travelling 150 miles or 200 miles by air to places which, but for the aeroplane, would mean a journey of many hours, and in some cases days, by motor car or train. It is reassuring to know that people of this country are becoming so keenly interested in aviation, which, I feel sure, is destined to solve some of our major transport problems.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed votes - Department of Trade and Customs, £104,930; Department of Health, £22,270 - agreed to.
Department of Commerce.
Proposed vote, £71,530.
– I should like to know if the item under “ Commercial intelligence service abroad, salaries and general expenditure, £4,730 relates to government activities in Great Britain or in other countries?
– That expenditure is on account of our trade commissioners and their staffs in Japan, Batavia, and Hongkong.
– I wish to bring to the notice of the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) certain aspects of the control of films depicting Commonwealth Government activities and produced for distribution under the direction of the Department of Commerce. This government activity I regard as a very wise one, and I pay the department the well-deserved compliment of saying that the films made have a high educational value. I understand that Universal Films has the contract for their distribution, and I regret to state that, up to the present, the agreement has precluded their screening in Australian schools. There is in Queensland at least one school equipped by the parents of scholars at great expense with an up-to-date projecting machine, the intention being to increase the efficiency of the curriculum by the screening of films having a definite educational value.
Unfortunately, the school committee is unable to obtain any of the films made by the Commerce Department, depicting Australian scenes and industries. I have taken the matter up with the Department of Commerce, and have been informed that the contract for the distribution of the films prevents their being made available to the Queensland school committee. I may add that the committee undertook to construct a fireproof vault and to have the films insured whilst in its possession. I have already mentioned the matter to the Minister for Commerce, and I refer to it now in the hope that I shall have the support of the Leader of the Senate in requesting that the application of the school, committee be acceded to. The committee is not asking that the films should be made available before they have been exhibited elsewhere. All that it asks is that when the films have been screened in the ordinary way, they should, because of their high educational value, be made available to any school committee which has a projecting apparatus and desires to screen them. We should not be told that Universal Films, or any other organization, has complete control over them for all time. The school committee to which I refer, having installed an expensive plant, should not be precluded from screening educational films made by the Department of Commerce.
[8.14].- The object of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) is a very worthy one. I shall certainly see that his request is brought under the notice of the Minister for Commerce, with my recommendation for its favorable consideration.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote - Miscellaneous services, £132,800- -agreed to.
Proposed vote, £216,060.
– I have not noticed in the budget any reference to the restoration of pensions to new wives and children of soldiers. I have received some correspondence from the Limbless Soldiers
Association, in this connexion, and should be glad to know from the Minister what is being done.
– The amounts set out in this bill are based on the expenditure for the previous financial year. A more appropriate time to raise the subject will be when the Appropriation Bill is before the Senate.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £80,840.
– Is the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) in a position to say what has been done towards eliminating the necessity for travellers on the trans-Australian railway to change trains three times in one day?
[8.17]. - Work in connexion with the extension of the existing railway from Red Hill to Port Augusta, on the completion of which the changes referred to by the honorable senator will no longer be necessary, is proceeding, and it is anticipated that the new line will be in use well within the time estimated.
S3nator DUNCAN-HUGHES (South Australia) [8.18]. - Some weeks ago I visited Central Australia by train, and was greatly impressed by the excellence of the service provided to Alice Springs. Although not luxurious the trains are comfortable, and provide all that any fair-minded man can expect. The food is plain, but good,” and the service is excellent; indeed, any one who complains about them either- has never experienced comfort or is not fairminded. But, like a good many other people, I found, on reaching Alice Springs, that the accommodation available is inadequate. I do not- desire to disparage the people of Central Australia, or, indeed, the keepers of hotels and boarding-houses there, many of whom are no doubt doing their best; but I point out that people will not be induced to visit the Macdonell Ranges - and they are worth going 1 000 miles to see - unless they have a reasonable prospect of obtaining comfortable lodgings when they get there. It may be that a tightening of the administration by both the health and the police authorities would produce good results, but I shall not, at the moment, proceed further along that line. I want to stress that the provision of reasonable comfort and cleanliness at the end of the forward journey would tend to encourage people to visit Central Australia in. increasing numbers, thereby making the railway pay better. For a great many years I have heard the complaint that people will not visit Central Australia because the accommodation provided at roadside hotels and in the Macdonnell Ranges is not adequate. I suggest, first, that a shower-bath be provided on the train, particularly during the summer months, as is done on the trans-Australian railway. The journey from Adelaide to Alice Springs occupies three days and two nights, and any one who knows that country in summer time will agree that it is most desirable that shower baths should be provided. I suggest, further, that unless the accommodation at Alice Springs be improved, passengers by train be permitted to occupy their sleeping berths in the train during the time that the train remains at Alice Springs - from late Saturday evening until early Tuesday morning. It might be necessary to employ a few additional men there, because the attendants on the train already have several heavy days’ work on each way of the trip. I am certain that if tourists could be assured of reasonable comfort at the end of their train journey more people would be inclined to undertake the trip than is now the case. Unless there is an improvement along the lines that I have indicated, many people will not willingly visit Central Australia, and the revenue will suffer ; but what is even more important, the people of Australia will not become acquainted with their own country to the extent that they should.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [8.23]. - I am indebted to tho honorable senator for having brought this matter forward, and I shall certainly bring his remarks before the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson). The Railways Department is endeavouring to popularize the Macdonnell Ranges as a tourist resort, but I agree with the honor- able senator that more than a comfortable train is necessary; there must be suitable accommodation at the end of the journey. I shall do all that I can to give effect to his representations, and to secure for tourists that accommodation which they have a right to expect, and which I imagine would not be costly to provide.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed votes - Postmaster-General’s Department, £1,803,150, and Northern Territory, £34,080- agreed to.
Federal Capital Territory.
Proposed vote, £51,670.
– The local press has contained some disquieting statements recently regarding health conditions in portions of the Federal Capital Territory. I refer to reports of the existence of the disease known as scabies, and also of those unwelcome visitors called bugs - a term which I use as applying, not to every insect as in the United States of America, but to the common household vermin. It is little short of disgraceful that such conditions should exist in this Territory. They are due to the failure of the Government to give effect to frequent representations made to it to get rid of those most unsatisfactory dwellings at Molonglo and Causeway, to which I have drawn attention in this chamber on many occasions. From such environments disease and vermin are inseparable. I understand that the local health authorities have made some inquiries into these complaints, and also that, as usual, attempts are being made to smooth things over by saying that the fault lies with individuals whose habits are unclean, rather than with the homes of the people. The word “ homes “ is a misnomer when applied to such dwelling.Unhygienic conditions such as exist at Molonglo encourage lack of personal cleanliness and associated evils. I hope that without waiting for any further investigation, the health authorities will let it be known that persons suffering from scabies and other diseases caused by unhygienic conditions will be treated free of cost at the hospital if they will submit themselves for treatment. It is the duty of the Government to instruct the authorities to clean things up at once and not wait until Canberra is given further undesirable publicity of this kind. I have a personal responsibility in this matter, as a member of the Parliament which controls this Territory, and I shall not be satisfied until every one of these miserable shacks to which I have referred has been demolished. Pending the abolition of the tenements themselves, the Government should at least assist the unfortunate victims of its ineptitude by instructing the hospital authorities that any person in the Territory suffering from scabies shall be treated at the expense of the nation, and compensated for loss of wages, if any, while being so treated, that the tenements shall immediately be fumigated, and, if necessary, new clothes substituted for the infected apparel of sufferers. I speak with some feeling on this matter. After four and a half years of complaining, nothing whatever has been done; every year I have been put off with the same sophistries. For my part, I am now reaching bursting point in regard to this matter. The latest revelations make me ashamed of the fact that I have anything to do with the Government of this territory.
[8.31]. - The honorable senator used extravagant language when he said that nothing has been done. I suggest that he must go about Canberra with his eyes shut. During the last eighteen months the Government has been pursuing an active policy of cottage building. It is unfortunate that people will not build homes for themselves in Canberra, as they do in other parts of the Commonwealth, but look to the Government to provide them. Some people say that this is a consequence of the leasehold system.
– The Government brought them here.
– In any other part of the Commonwealth a demand for housing accommodation would be met by private enterprise. In none of the capital cities and in none of the States, not even the State which Senator Collings represents, is it regarded as the duty of the Government to provide housing accommodation. A strange habit of mind is exhibited in Canberra; residents believe that the building of homes in this city is solely the responsibility of the Government. Unfortunately, with the financial position as it is, the Government is not able to build all the houses required. In the works Estimates, which will come before the Senate shortly, an amount of approximately £100,000 has been provided for cottage construction.
– Subject to a limit of £1,800, the Government even advances 90 per cent, of the estimated COSt of construction to persona wishing to build their own homes .
– In spite of that people are not anxious to build. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) is at present engaged in drafting a scheme which he hopes will induce private enterprise to build houses in Canberra, an object eminently to be desired. It is not a good thing that the Government should be the sole landlord, because such a position leads to all sorts of complications. The Government is encouraging private enterprise to build homes, and the sooner that can be accomplished the better. As rapidly as cottages are constructed, people are transferred from the wooden houses at Molonglo, which were -built only as a temporary measure. Because of the rapid development of the city in recent years, construction of cottages has not been able to overtake the demand. In regard to the outbreak of scabies, the discussion which took place during the proceedings of the Advisory Council revealed that, in the opinion of the medical officer, the outbreak was due, not to the class of buildings occupied, but to other causes ; the medical authorities are taking action to deal with the outbreak, i’ do not know that anything more can be done. The Government is engaged in the most active building programme it has ever undertaken in Canberra, and it embraces mainly cottages.
– The Leader of the Government (Senator Pearce) suggests that I am suffering from either a physical or mental form of myopia. I assure the right honorable gentleman that I am not. It is sheer subterfuge to suggest that the (building programme of the Government has had the slightest effect on the two settlements to which I have referred. The Government undoubtedly has a housing scheme, but I ask the Leader of the Government how many houses have been built under that scheme.
– I ‘shall supply the figures during the discussion on the works Estimates to-morrow.
– Not one has been built.
– The honorable senator is wrong.
– That, at any rate, is the information given in the House of Representatives to-day. The Leader of the Senate said that it would be a bad thing if the Government were the only landlord. As a matter of fact, it would be an absolute blessing if nobody but the Government were permitted to be a landlord. We have no desire to see the spectacle of jerry-building private enterprise doing its fell work in this Territory.
– How does the honorable senator know that these cottages would be jerry-built
– Wherever the building of homes for the common people, or any other job, has been entrusted to private enterprise, the track has beon littered with tragic and disastrous failures.
– Private enterprise is responsible for the building of 90 per cent, of the cottages constructed to-day.
– I am not objecting to that. Private enterprise was not responsible for the building of the tenements at Molonglo; they were constructed by the Government during the Great War for the internment of suspected Germans. The Leader of the Government said it was never intended that they should be regarded as permanent buildings. The right honorable gentleman would have us believe that those tenements constitute some recent difficulty that could be easily overcome, but the fact is that they were erected over 20 years ago. Yet we are stilltoldthattheywereneverintended to be permanent buildings. When does a temporary building cease to be temporary?Iwouldnothaveaddedfurther tothisdebatebutforthefactthatthe LeaderoftheGovernmenthasendeavoured to put me off again with a statement of what isbeing done, but he does not touch the facts of my complaint. At present, there are 300 persons in the FederalCapitalTerritory, most of whom have been brought here by this Government, who are without accommodation, and people continue to arrive for whom no accommodation can be made available. Girls at Gorman House are living two and three in one room. Until complaint was made recently in the House of Representatives, a member of Parliament could have his wife and family quartered at the Hotel Kurrajong while he himself had to live in Queanbeyan. Yet the Leader of the Government expects me to be satisfied with his assurance that the Government has a building programme. If nothing more is done than is being done at present, and if moreprogressisnotevidencedduring thenexttenyearsthanhastakenplace during the last five years, the same congestion, dissatisfaction, unhygienic conditions, scabies and bugs, will continue. The right honorable gentleman said that a statement had been made to the Advisory Council by a medical officer that the outbreak of scabies is more a matter of persons than of buildings. I remind him that nobody living at the Hotel Canberra suffers from scabies, and I know of no cases of that disease outside the two settlements to which I have referred. Having said so much, once again I shall have to accept the Minister’s statement; but unless something more definite is done in regard to this matter than has been done hitherto, I shall not remain silent.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed votes - Papua, £10,670 ; Norfolk Island, £670; Refunds of Revenue, £200,000 ; Advance to the Treasurer, £500,000 - agreed to.
Schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without requests: report adopted.
[8.45]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill has a two-fold object. First, it provides for the appointment of returnedsoldierstononclericalpositions in the Commonwealth Public Service and. secondly, it contains a number of formal, amendments of the principal act. A perusal of the measure will convince honorable senators that thelast-mentionedamendmentscan bedealtwithmoreeffectivelyincommittee.However,itwillassisthonorable senatorsifIoutlinebrieflytheproposals containedinthevariousclauses.
Clause 2, -which amends section 11 of the principal act, merely confers the title of “ The Public Service Board “on the Board of Commissioners. Subsection 1 of that section provides for the appointment of a Board of Commissioners and while the title “The Public Service Board “ is generally used in reference to the Board of Commissioners, it does not appear in the act itself. It is deemed advisable, for the sake of convenience and to accord with the usual drafting practice, to make provision in the act for the recognition of the board by its popular title.
Clause 3 is designed to clarify the procedure in connexion with the creation and abolition of offices in the Commonwealth Public Service. Thereis some ambiguity in the language of existing section 29 which it is hoped will be cleared up by the proposed amendment.
Under clause 4, it is proposed that eligibility for appointment under section 42 of the principal act be extended to members of the police force of the Federal Capital Territory. This section empowers the board to appoint on probation, without examination, any officer of the Territorial Service or the. Commonwealth Railway Service to any office in the Commonwealth Service. The clause, if agreed to, will merely confer eligibility on members of the police force of the Federal Capital Territory for appointment to the Commonwealth Service, but, before any such appointment is actually made, it will be necessary for the Public Service Board to satisfy itself that it is desirable in the interests of the Commonwealth that the appointment should be made.
Clause 5 relates to section 47 of the act, under which appointment of persons from outside the Public Service may, in special cases, be made to a division, other than the Fourth Division of the Service. The Governor-General only makes such an appointment on the recommendation of the board upon report from the permanent head. It is now proposed that section 47 be amended to make clear the procedure to be followed prior to the board making a recommendation to the Governor-General under that section. The amendment is similar to that embodied in clause 3.
Clause 6, which amends section 48 of the act, and is complementary to clause 4, provides that service in the Federal Capital Territory Police Force shall, in the case of the appointment of a member of the force to the Commonwealth Public Service, be reckoned as service in the Public Service.
Section 62 of the act provides for certain action to be taken in the event of an officer being convicted of a criminal offence against the law of the Commonwealth or of a State. I understand that a criminal offence against the law of a territory of the Commonwealth is not a criminal offence against the law of the Commonwealth within the meaning of section 62. It is obviously desirable that appropriate action should be permissible in cases where officers are convicted of offences against territorial laws. Clause 7 of the bill is therefore intended to enable action to be taken under section 62 in respect of criminal offences against laws of the territories of the Commonwealth.
Clause 8 contains an amendment designed to facilitate the leave arrangements of officers desiring to engage on post graduate and other studies. Under section 71 of the principal act, not more than twelve months leave without pay may be granted to an officer, except in the case of those officers who intend to enter into the* service of the League of Nations or of certain governments specified in the act. Instances have occurred where the period of twelve months leave has been found insufficient to enable an officer to complete the course of study or research work for which the leave was granted. It will be admitted that reasonable facilities should be granted to officers to complete their studies. Further, it must be borne in mind that the Commonwealth would eventually benefit by reason of the knowledge acquired by the officers during their advanced studies and research work. In the circumstances, it is considered desirable that provision should be made for leave to be granted in such cases up to a maximum of three years. An amendment to give effect to this has been included in clause 8 of the bill.
Clauses 9 and 10 contain amendments of sections 73 and 74 of the act. Several instances have occurred where officers, eligible under these sections for long service leave or pay in lieu of leave, have, for some reason, ceased duty without giving notice of their intention to do so. Although they cannot be traced, there is substantial reason to believe that they are dead. In the ordinary course, a considerable time would elapse before a court would grant leave for the death of such an officer to be sworn. Meanwhile, the officer’s wife and dependants could not be paid moneys due to them under the act in the event of death being established. In some instances, the dependants have been in necessitous circumstances. The amendments embodied in clauses 9 and 10 are intended to enable the Public Service Board, without waiting for the leave of a court to presume death, to authorize payment to the dependants in such cases when, in the board’s opinion, it is reasonable to assume from the facts that the officer is deceased.
– Could an officer who re-appeared claim the money even if it had been paid to his wife?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Ho. The law authorizes payment to bis wife.
It is also proposed that returned soldiers who have given satisfactory continuous temporary service in a nonclerical capacity for at least two years should be eligible for appointment to positions of a non-clerical nature in the Public Service, notwithstanding the fact that they have not passed the prescribed examinations. Under the existing law returned soldier appointees must have been temporarily employed for a continuous period of not less than two. years. This provision has been interpreted to mean that the period of two years must he completed immediately prior to appointment. As a result of this interpretation, many returned soldiers who had served at least two yean continuously, but who, by reason of the financial depression, had their services terminated, would be required under the existing law to serve for a further period of two years before they would again become eligible for appointment. In view of the recent general increase of departmental activities and consequential expansion of staffs, the Government feels that action might reasonably be taken to restore the eligibility for permanent appointment of those soldiers, still within the prescribed age limit, who had lost such eligibility merely on account of the termination of their employment during the depression years. Clause 12 contains the requisite amendment of section 84 of the act which, if agreed to, will make it possible for the Public Service Board to consider these mon for permanent appointment as opportunity offers. It is estimated that about 150 roturned soldiers are affected.
Debate (on motion by Senator Collinos) adjourned.
– I move -
That the bill be now T&ad a second time.
The object of the bill, which consists of only one operative clause, is to effect an amendment of the Bills of Exchange
Act 1909-1933 to permit the Commonwealth, if it so decides, to accedo to a Convention on Stamps Laws in connexion with bills of exchange and promissory notes signed at Geneva on the 7th June, 1930. The Convention was signed by Great Britain, but provision is made in it by which non-signatory States may accede to it whether members of the League of Nations or not. The principal provisions of the Convention are contained in article 1, by which the High’ Contracting Parties undertake, if necessary, to alter their laws, so that obligations arising out of a bill of exchange or a promissory note or out of the exercise of rights that flow from these documents are not to be subordinated to the provisions regarding payment of stamp duty. Article 1 goes on to provide that this undertaking may be subject to certain conditions as to the suspension of the exercise of rights flowing from the bill of exchange until the payment of the prescribed stamp duties or penalties. Special provision may also be made as to instruments of a type designated as “ immediately executory but if a High Contracting Party so chooses, it may restrict its undertaking to bills of exchange only. In a Protocol to the Convention signed on the same date as the Convention, it was agreed that, insofar as concerns the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, the only instruments to which the provisions of the Convention should apply were bills of exchange presented for acceptance or accepted or payable elsewhere than in the United Kingdom. Non-signatory States proposing to accede subject to the same limitation as that applying in respect of the United Kingdom may notify the League of Nations to this effect, and, if no objections have been received by the League within six months of such notification, the limitation is deemed to have been accepted by the parties to the Convention. Legislation was enacted in the United Kingdom in 1933 to give effect to the Convention. Before Australia can accede to the Convention, it seems that the Bills of Exchange Act 1909-1932 would require to be amended along the lines of the British legislation of 1933. As existing legislation is based on the English Bills of Exchange Act, it seems desirable that amendments affecting an English law of this nature should be adopted in the Commonwealth in their entirely, if al all possible. The Government, therefore, proposes to avail itself of the limitation set out in the Protocol and to propose an amendment similar to that enacted in England in 1933.
Section TT of the existing Bills of Exchange Act provides, among other things, that a bill of exchange issued out of Australia is not to be invalid only by reason of the fact that it is not stamped in accordance with the law of the place where it was issued. This section is similar in terms to section 72 of the Bills of Exchange Act, 1SS2 of the United Kingdom. Honorable senators will notice that the existing law relates to bills issued out of Australia only. The amendment of the law made in England in 1933, which is embodied in section 42 of the Finance Act of that year, refers to a “ bill of exchange which is presented for acceptance, or accepted, or payable, outside the United Kingdom “. The legislation of the -United Kingdom thus provides both for bills issued in and bills issued out of the United Kingdom. Commou wealth legislation, however, refers only to bill? issued out of Australia.
Proposed new section Tin. covers this matter and is substantially similar in effect to section 42 of the Finance Act, 1933 of the United Kingdom. It provides that a bill issued in Australia and presented for acceptance, accepted, or payable, outside Australia shall not be invalid by reason only that it is not stamped, or is not properly stamped. It is provided further that any such bill may be received in evidence on payment of the proper duty and penalty, if any. Briefly, that is the provision proposed to be inserted in the Bills of Exchange Act, and the reason for the amendment of the law is the necessity for enacting legislation which will enable the Commonwealth to accede to the Convention of 1930 and thus bring Commonwealth law into line with similar legislation in the United Kingdom.
Debate (on motion by Senator Col-
Senate adjourned nt 9.1 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 September 1936, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1936/19360916_senate_14_151/>.