15th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - I regret to have to inform the Senate of the death of the Secretary of State for the Dominions, theRight Honorable Lord. Stanley. Hu was a distinguished politician, and he had a brilliant career in England, but it is in respect of his occupancy of the office of Secretary of State for the Dominions that we, iri Australia, will remember him best. He succeeded to that office on the reconstitution of the British Cabinet early this year. His experience as Secretary of State for India and Burma fitted him to assume control of the Secretaryship of State concerned with the other dominions of the British Commonwealth. Commonwealth Ministers who came in contact with the late Lord Stanley refer in terms of high commendation to the tact and courtesy displayed by him in the discharge of the duties of his high office. We remember him, too, as a gallant soldier, who served with distinction and was wounded during the Great “War. As the result of those wounds we have to-day to regret his early demise. Whilst mourning his untimely death, we must not be unmindful of his widow and children. I am sure that I may speak for all honorable senators in expressing profound sympathy with his widow and family in their great bereavement. I move -
That this Semite expresses its deep regret at the death of theRight Honorable Lord Stanley, Secretary of Stale for Dominion Affairs, places on record its appreciation of his distinguished service to the’ British Commonwealth, and tenders to his widow and family its profound sympathy in their sad bereavement, and also to the United Kingdom Government in the loss which it has sustained.
– I desire to associate the Opposition with the remarks of the Leader of the Senate with regard to the death of the Right Honorable Lord Stanley. As the Minister has said, Lord Stanley died at a comparatively early agc. He had rendered distinguished service to his country, and I am sure that every member of the Senate extends his sincere sympathy to the widow and family.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
recruits for Permanent Forces - CompulsoryTraining.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Defence been drawn to a statement, referring to militia quota increases, pub-, lished in the Brisbane Courier-Mail of the 14th October, that it is not likely that any opportunity willbe afforded in Queensland for entrance to the Permanent Forces, as most of the recruiting is dono in Sydney? Is this the considered policy of the Government, and, if so, will the Minister for Defence take steps to make facilities available in Queensland to provide for the enlistment of young men who desire to enter the Permanent Forces from that State?
– I saw the statement in the press to -which the honorable senator has referred, and I discussed the matter with the Minister for Defence, who assured me that equal opportunities would be given to young men in all parts of Australia to enlist in the Permanent Forces
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Defence seen the statement appearing in the Canberra Times to-day with regard to compulsory military training, and will he inform the Senate what official authority, if any, that newspaper has for its statement that 20,000 youths, who will attain the age of 18 years next year, may be called up after the 1st July, and that these youths will be drawn from capital cities and huge country towns?
– The newspaper mentioned has no authority to mako that statement. The defence policy of the Government provides, at the present time, for voluntary military service, and, should there be any alteration of that policy, an announcement will be made by the Government in due course.
, - by leave - read a statement which was made simultaneously in the House of Representatives by the Acting Leader of the House (Sir Earle Page) (vide page 903).
– Will honorable senators be given an opportunity to discuss the statement just made?
– Honorable senators will have ample opportunity to discuss the statement when legislation embodying the proposals enunciated in it is brought before the Senate. I point out, further, that notwithstanding the very lengthy discussion that has already taken place on the motion for the printing of the budget papers, honorable senators ‘will have a further opportunity to discuss these matters when the Appropriation Bill is before the Senate.
– Is it because of the success of the Labour party in the New Zealand elections on Saturday last that the Government has put forward this programme, which, I might add, the public of Australia is sure to regard as mere propaganda ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is “ No “. These proposals were submitted to the States some weeks ago.
Expenditure in Tasmania.
– On the 14th October, Senator Aylett addressed to me, as Minister representing the Minister for Defence, the following questions, upon notice: -
The Minister for Defence has now supplied the following answers: -
– On the 14th October, Senator Aylett asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Defence, the following questions, upon notice: -
With reference to H.M.A.S.’ Hobart and H.M.A.S. Perth, bought by the Australian Government from the Royal Navy -
What is the cost of each?
How long have they been built?
Were they in commission when purchased?
The Minister for Defence has now furnished the following answers: -
– I ask the Leader of the Senate whether there is any truth in the press report that the Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Stevens, has been invited to join the Commonwealth Cabinet ? If so, was this decision made by a vote of the tory caucus, or is Mr, Stevens being inflicted upon Federal Cabinet by outside interests, or is Mr. Stevens’ own ambition the driving force behind this invitation?
– I suggest that the honorable senator should address that question to Mr. Stevens himself. I have no knowledge of the matter.
– Early this session, I asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior certain questions regarding assistance to prospectors in Commonwealth and State territories. When will the Minister he able to supply answers to those questions?
– I have not yet been able to secure answers to the honorable senator’s questions owing to the fact that their compilation involves the examination of a huge mass of detail, but I promise the honorable senator that they will be expedited.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
In view of the ever increasing public expenditure, will the Government give immediate consideration to the question of reconstituting the Public Accounts Committee so that the former practice of sucha committee scrutinizing public expenditure maybe restored ?
– The Acting Leader of the Government has supplied the following answer: -
The necessity for considering other more urgent mattershas made it impassible for the Government to give attention to this matter. It will; however, be considered at the earliest possible opportunity.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The following answers to the honorable senator’s questions have ‘been supplied by the Minister for Trade and Customs: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
The -above figures include provision for renewals, repairs and maintenance. The establishment was run at a loss after charges for depreciation and interest were raised.
Life ASSURANCE Policies.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Has the Government considered the effect of national insurance on life assurance policies, in view of the figures disclosed in the report of the Industrial Assurance Royal Commission in Victoria, to the effect that between the years 1922 and 1935, out of 965,209 policies discontinued, 405,277 had been surrendered?
– The following reply to the honorable senator’s question has been supplied by the Treasurer : -
The Government is at present considering the position to which the honorable senator has invited attention, and hopes to be in a position to deal with it when the Government’s proposals for legislation on life insurance arc introduced later in this session.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Acting Leader of the Government has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: - 1 and 2. No, but, arising out of certain approaches made by the Netherlands Government through its Consul-General in Sydney, the Commonwealth Government informed the Netherlands that it welcomed the proposal to encourage the migration of Dutch subjects to Australia.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
What are the amounts (if any) of net profits for the financial years ended 30th June, 1935, 1936, 1937 and’ 1938, which have accrued as the result of the operations of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following information in reply to the honorable senator’s question : -
The aggregate net profits of all departments of the Commonwealth Bank for the financial yearsmentioned were as follows: -
asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
In view of the fact that there are about 200 South African war veterans throughout Australia in necessitous circumstances, will the Minister ascertain what has become of the patriotic funds raised in each State ‘ during the war 1899-1902 for the benefit of Australian soldiers engaged in that campaign?
– The necessary inquiries will be made.
Motion (by Senator Foll) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act to amend the Science and Industry Research Act, 1920-1937.
Bill brought up, and read a first time.
In committee (Consideration resumed from the 14th October (vide page 825).
Department of Defence.
Proposed vote, £1,618,768.
.- I should be glad if the Minister representing the Minister for Defence (Senator Foll) would inform the committee of the proposed allocation of the sum of £189,950, division No. 15- “Arms, armament and ammunition, mechanization, equipment and reserves - £188,300 of this amount to be paid to the credit of the Defence’ Small Arms Ammunition Trust Account.” I am concerned about the report that the reduction of the number of employees at Lithgow Small Arms Factory is due to lack of funds. Can the Minister say if that establishment is controlled by the
Munitions Board in Melbourne? Also what allocation of money has been made for the factory this year?
– The information supplied to me by the Defence Department doesnot set out the allocation of money to the various defence works to be undertaken. Earlier in the debate the honorable senator made representations with reference to the Lithgow Small Arms Factory, and I spoke to my colleague, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby) in order that he might give consideration to the matter.If at a later stage of the present sitting I am supplied with the information I shall pass it on to the honorable gentleman. I may add that of the amount of £189,950 provided under this item, £188,300 is to be paid to the credit of the defence Small Arms Ammunition Trust Account, so it is apparent that a considerable sum will be spent on the small arms factory at Lithgow.
– Can the Minister give me any information with reference to the item “Defence Works, Darwin, £7,800 “?
– Expenditure under this item is allocated as follows: - ‘Cost of barracks for the permanent military forces, £31,500 ; electric light, £500 ; steel tower, £1,150; magazines and shell stores, £600; plotting room, £150; married quarters for troops, £1,200; plant, £1,810; sundry services, water supply, electric light, communications, &c, £3,090.
.- Can the Minister say if, in the allocation of money for land and sea plane equipment, the Government is giving consideration to the Avro Anson bombers, conconcerning which some complaints have been made lately?
– The Government is naturally much concerned about the recent accident to an Avro Anson bomber, and other accidents tothe same type of machine that have been reported in recent months. I assure Senator Keane that a very full inquiry will be made with regard to the last tragic happening. All the investigations made by the expert committee of the Defence Department have convinced the department that the mishaps have not been due to any structural defect.
– Last year* the allocation under this head was £588,470 and the expenditure £468,3S9. The people of Australia look to the Royal Australian Air Force as one of the main arms of defence, and are very concerned about the serious accidents that have occurred lately. The amount to be provided this year is only £260,000 - less than half of the allocation last year. In the present state of world affairs, I feel sure that the people would gladly give the Government practically a blank cheque in connexion with expenditure on air defence, so long as it was assured that the money would be wisely expended. I understood that there was to be considerable expansion in all arms of defence this year. Yet the figures now before us indicate that for this most important arm of our defence, the allocation under this vote is to be less than half what it was last year. This reduction is amazing and disconcerting, and calls for some explanation.
– I remind the honorable senator that the bill provides only for “additions, new works, and buildings, &c.” The purchase of new aircraft will come up for discussion under the general estimates, which will include expenditure from loan moneys as well as from revenue. Apparently the total allocation last year under this division was not spent, because some of the works had not been completed by the end of the financial year.
– I should like to know- whether the money allocated is already earmarked for expenditure on various items, or ‘if the allocation is made later.
– The till refers only to expenditure in connexion with aircraft at present in commission, or for which orders already have been given. It has no reference to the supply of aeroplanes, or to the typo which is to be purchased.
– I understand that the allocation under division 19, providing for “ Buildings, works, sites, fittings and furniture “, will include expenditure on Pearce aero drome at Bullsbrook, Western Australia; also that the Public Works Committee has no jurisdiction with regard to some defence expenditure. With that _ I agree, but there is need for a better check on such expenditure in order that we may be sure of getting value for the money. Representations were made some time ago with regard to the cost of officers’ flats at the Pearce aerodrome which, incidentally, I consider will, when the premises are occupied, cause more social unrest than exists at present. I have been informed that these flats are costing 50 per cent, more than similar accommodation in the cities. I submitted the matter to the Minister, and I obtained a perfectly good reply, but the following paragraph from it is rather ingenuous : -
Inquiries also were made of several contractors in Perth as to whether any clauses or conditions in the document associated with tenders had the effect of increasing costs, but in no case did the contractor offer any objection to this, or suggest alterations.
There was a plan for providing a water supply for the aerodrome, although the main government scheme was in the vicinity. The plan for a private water supply was developed to a considerable extent, and at no small cost, but it was subsequently abandoned. Later, a tender was accepted, I am told, for the provision of quarters for the commanding officer at a cost of £9,000. Tenders have also been accepted for the provision of single officers” quarters at a- cost of £23,000. I would like it to be understood that I think that it is essential to provide this accommodation in every detail, but, in my opinion, the cost is far too high.
– The remarks of the honorable senator are welcomed by the Government, and I shall see that they are immediately brought under the notice of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby), in order that a prompt investigation may be made.
.- The vote under Division 19, under the control of the Department of the Interior, for “Buildings, works, sites, fittings and furniture “ was £162,630 last year, and only £14,069 was expended. I take it that that vote is now cancelled, and that, as the new vote for 1938-39 is £87,195, the expenditure even in the two years, will not equal last year’s vote. Have some of the works that were contemplated been abandoned? I think that the committee is entitled to an explanation of this discrepancy.
– Can the Minister say whether any money has been expended in assisting gliding clubs? On several occasions I have brought this matter forward. A request was made by the Brisbane Gliding Club for a hangar. Has the Government, in a new burst of enthusiasm with regard to the defence of Australia, decided to expend money in encouraging these clubs, since gliding is considered to provide valuable training for future airmen? Great interest in aviation is being shown by the members of these clubs.
– No provision is made in this bill for a subsidy to gliding clubs, or for the provision of hangars for such clubs. A few days ago, in the course of my reply to a series of questions by an honorable senator opposite, I enumerated the sums to be made available to the various clubs. Queensland is to receive a substantial proportion of that money. I shall bring the matter of a hangar for the Brisbane club under the notice of the Minister for Defence.
– I shall .be glad if the Minister will inform the committee as to the sums to be expended this year at the Pearce aerodrome.
– The provision is £10,000 for additions to the workshops and store, £800 for recreational facilities, and £2,420 for engineering services.
– I hope that it will not be necessary for the Opposition to draw a line of demarcation between work done by permanent men of the Air Force at the Pearce aerodrome and that done by civilian workers.
– Senator Leckie referred to the vote under the control of the Department for the Interior, for “ buildings, works, sites, fittings and furniture “, and commented on the fact that a large proportion of the vote for 1937-38 was not expended. I point out that £87,195 is to be expended during 1938-39 from revenue, £305,205 from the trust fund, and £440,800 from the loan fund, making a total of £833,200. The reason why the whole of the money voted was not expended last year is that it was impossible for the Defence Department to prepare its plans and obtain the services of skilled tradesmen to the extent desired during the financial year. Under the present system of finance, votes not expended up to the 30th June revert to the Treasury for re-allocation, and are shown on the Estimates as “not expended “.
.- What I remarked was that, although £162,630 was voted in this division for 1937-38, only £14,069 was expended. The total expenditure proposed for this year, added to that of last year, amounts to £101,000, which is much less than last year’s vote. I can understand that certain works could not be carried out, but I desire to know which works have been abandoned.
– I have not the full details in my possession, but I shall look into the matter. I understand that some of the money previously taken out of revenue has on this occasion been charged to loan fund.
– In division 20, under the control of the Department of Defence, the sum of £8,000 is provided for “ buildings and works - country aerodromes - grants to councils towards cost of establishment and improvements Can the Minister inform the committee whether the newlyconstructed or partly-constructed aerodrome at Albany is under the control of the Defence Department, and, if so, is it the practice of the department to subsidize a local-governing authority, such as the Albany Council, to repair and improve the aerodrome?
– The following details show how this vote will be expended in Western Australia : -
Argyle Downs - Felling on approaches to landing area, £200.
Kalgoorlie - Lopping of trees, £200.
Mogumber - Extension and improvement of landing ground, £500.
Improvement to landing grounds on PerthWyndham route, £600.
The Civil Aviation Department and the Defence Department inspect municipal aerodromes throughout Australia from time to time, and decide which aerodromes are considered necessaryfrom a defence point of view. Once they are declared so, certain assistance is made available. No provision is made in this vote for the Albany aerodrome, but, if such provision is made in the general estimates, I shall be glad to give the honorable senator the information he desires.
.- The sum of £61,900 is proposed to be voted for “provision and installation of wireless and directionfinding apparatus, aircraft, engines, equipment, and stores”. What information has the Minister at his disposal with regard to the number of stations now furnished with direction-finding apparatus, and what is the condition of this apparatus? Some time ago there was considerable controversy regarding an incident at Darwin, which is one of our most important aviation stations on the Australian coast.
– Provision of £233,736 is required to cover the cost of the following services : -
Supply and installation of radio communication facilities at Mascot, Canberra, Essendon, Western Junction, Brisbane, Kempsey. Nhill, Adelaide, and Hobart, Salamaua, Port Moresby, Cooktown, Cloncurry, Perth, Kalgoorlie, Forrest, Ceduna, Holbrook. Darwin. Townsville, Rockhampton.
Supply and installation of ultra-high frequency beacons at Holbrook, Mascot, Canberra, Western Junction, Adelaide, Hobart, Essen-don, Brisbane, Kempsey, Nhill.
Supply and installation of power-generating plants at stations on internal routes.
Provision of high frequency directionfinding receivers on the Perth-Adelaide, Brisbane-Rabaul and Brisbane-Darwin routes.
Control transmitters for Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide.
The proposed vote also covers the supply and installation of radio telephone facilities for the trans-Tasman route, and the supply of fire-fighting equipment at aerodromes in capital cities.
– Provision is made for the expenditure of £49,936 on buildings, works and sites, for the Empire air-mail service. Is appropriation being made in this bill for the erection of proper landing facilities at Darwin? The existing equipment is not only primitive, but also very dangerous. At present the landing stage, over which passengers have to walk from the launch to the shore, is only 2 feet 8 inches wide, and consists of slats. As there is a tidal rise and fall of 28 feet at Darwin, the landing stage is sometimes extremely steep and slippery, and liable to cause serious accidents. When the monsoon season commences about two months hence, the danger will be accentuated. The Government should erect a floating pontoon similar to those provided for flying-boat passengers in other parts of the world. As Darwin is the first port of call for passengers travelling by air to Australia, it is essential that the landing facilities there shall be at least equal to those in other countries visited by flying boats.
– I am pleased to inform Senator Cooper that £4,491 is being appropriated to carry out the works which he says are necessary at Darwin. The works to be undertaken out of this proposed vote include: - Retaining wall, £400; erection of control buildings, £3,523; and extension of hand rail at Darwin jetty, £28. The Government is aware of the difficulties now experienced at Darwin, and when these additional works have been completed there will be uo further cause for complaint.
– For the Civil Aviation Branch, it is proposed to appropriate £140,264 for buildings, works, sites, fittings and furniture. Will the Minister state the amount to be expended in each State?
– I have a document consisting of four pages of typewritten matter setting out details of the proposed expenditure, but perhaps it would meet the wishes of the honorable senator if I give the principal items of expenditure in the State which he represents: - At Bordertown, alteration to the water tower. At Parafield, the erection of radio transmitter, ‘new entrance gate, building for radio beacon, reconstructing and widening roadway, and undergrounding telephone lines at the western boundary. At Tintinarra, £689, preparing a landing ground; and at Ceduna, £2,771 for the erection of radio and meteorological buildings and a power bouse.
.- The Aero Club of Western Australia, which is doing excellent work, is now utilizing accommodation provided at the Maylands Aerodrome. The officials of that club have asked the Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby) that the present accommodation be increased and ‘ improved to facilitate the activities of the club. Can the Minister say whether provision has been made in the proposed vote of £149,264 for the Aero Club of Western Australia to be assisted in the direction desired ?
.- I cannot see that provision has been made under this vote for the Aero Club of Western Australia, but £1,965 is being appropriated to meet the cost of erecting a radio and meteorological building at the Maylands Aerodrome and £1,079 for an equipment shed. There are other minor items amounting to several hundreds of pounds.
.- In the Munitions Supply Branch, provision has been made for the expenditure of £121,700 for machinery and plant for the manufacture of munitions. Does that amount include the cost of installing machinery in annexes to buildings controlled by private manufacturers, and, if so, what amount has been allocated to each State?
– That amount is to cover the purchase and installation of machinery in the munition factories at Maribyrnong, Footscray and Lithgow, and does not include the cost of machinery to be installed in private establishments. At the ammunition factory the items include: - Small arms ammunition. £23,000; tool room, &c, laboratory, £49,028; fuze and primer manufacture, £35,022; cartridge case manufacture, £39,667. At the ordnance factory there are various items .totalling £183,29S, and in respect of the small arms factory the appropriation totals £116,727. In the Munitions Supply Laboratory, provision has been made for plant for chemical, defence £2,000, and scientific equipment £S00. In the inspection branch £5,835 is provided for the Wakefield Proof Range, and £8,348 for inspection stations in Victoria. The whole of this vote is divided between the explosives factory, the ordnance factory, small arms factory, munitions supply laboratory, and the inspection branch. It does not apply in any way to private firms.
– In the Munitions Supply Branch under the control of the Department of Defence, £98,750 was voted last year for buildings, works and sites, fittings and furniture, but only £1,191 was expended. Will the Minister say why there has been so much delay in constructing the buildings for which provision was made -in the last financial year ? Although excavations have been completed at the small arms factory at Lithgow with money provided two years ago from Christmas relief funds the erection of the buildings is only now being commenced. It appears that defence works are being erected on the layby system, and that two years must elapse from the time when the money is appropriated until the work is commenced. I believe that some of these works are under the control of the Department of the Interior and others under the control of the Defence Department. I should like an assurance from the Minister that the construction of the buildings Will be expedited.
– I cannot say why there has been so much delay. Plans have to be prepared, tenders invited, contracts let and men engaged. Subject to these preliminaries, construction will be expedited.
.- I agree with Senator Ashley that we should be told why such a small portion of the amount voted ‘last year was expended. The Government is asking authority to expend a similar amount this year. In Divisions 26 to 29, the amount actually expended was considerably less than that appropriated. This is an unfair position in which to place the legislature.
Parliament does not hesitate to appropriate the money required, but it is useless to authorize the expenditure if the funds provided cannot be utilized.
– It is due to some extent to the fact that authority is not given until a portion of the financial year has elapsed.
– Some explanation should be given, because the Government may again be asking for a larger amount than it can expend. If that is so, these items should be scrutinized with great care. When measures such as this are placed before the committee, we naturally assume that the amounts for which appropriation is sought are necessary, but it appears that last year the Government was given authority to spend a much larger sum than it needed.
– As was stated by Senator Collett, the Government does not receive authority to expend the money until a portion of the financial year has passed. So far as defence expenditure was concerned it was necessary to purchase equipment of many kinds, some of which was not obtainable in Australia. In those circumstances it was found preferable to proceed with more urgent work for which the equipment was available. I emphasize that at present the Defence Department is coping with an unusual rush of work. So far as the iron and steel industry, particularly, is concerned, we have been unable to secure prompt delivery of some material. I believe that Senator Leckie, who watches the activities of the Government very closely in order to see that no wasteful expenditure occurs, will agree that rather than incur expenditure, irrespective of whether the work can be done economically or not, it is preferable to carry over to the following financial year a certain amount of the money already voted. The Government is following that policy. It does not spend merely for the sake of spending, but endeavours in all cases to get an adequate return for expenditure. Honorable senators would be astounded to learn of the amount of work that is now being carried out by the Works and Services Branch. The drafting staff has been trebled during the last twelve months. The preparation of plans for proposed new buildings, the purchasing of material, and thesecuring of skilled artisans have been a formidable task. In these circumstances it is not surprising that portions of the amounts voted in respect of certain items remained unexpended at the end of the financial year. I assure honorable senators, and particularly Senator Leckie, that no work has been held up merely for the sake of saving money. For the reasons I have already given, it has been found impossible to carry out all the authorized works simultaneously. Now that the staff of the Works and Services Branch has been increased, all of the works covered in this section of the Estimates will be expedited.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote - Department of Trade and Customs £29,000 - agreed to.
Department of Health.
Proposed vote, £47,000.
.- Will the Minister supply details of the main items covered in this section?
– The largest item is the erection of a serum laboratory at Broadmeadows, which is estimated to cost £27,S00. There are also additions to the animal experimental laboratory at Parkville, and various items such as the increasing of water storage at Torrens, South Australia, and the erection of a cold room at the serum laboratory at Parkville.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vole, £78,000.
– Is any provision made in this vote in respect of improvements, or additions, to the Rosemount Hospital, Brisbane?
– Recently I visited the Rosemount Hospital and had an opportunity to realize the necessity for providing an improved operating theatre at that institution. Provision is made in this vote for a new operating theatre. The remainder of the amount of £78,000 is in respect of general improvements at the Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick, and the Caul- o field Military Hospital, and work at various military hospitals and institutions under the control of the Repatriation Department, including additions to wards, provision of lavatory accommodation, and improvements for the handling and cooking of food. The vote also includes an amount of £2,359 for the erection of an X-ray plant, and. an amount of £2,235 for the installation of an ironing machine at the Caulfield Military Hospital. Both of those plants, I might add, have been manufactured entirely in Australia. Provision is made also for the installation of a sprinkler system at the Repatriation offices, Melbourne, whilst an amount of £4,946 is provided for the erection of a tuberculosis ward at the McLeod Sanatorium in Victoria, and an amount of £9,100 for the erection of nursing staff quarters at the same institution. Honorable senators for Victoria will admit that that work is long overdue. An amount of £11,500 is allocated for the provision of additional accommodation for the nursing staff at Keswick Hospital, South Australia. This building is already well under construction. The remaining items under this head, include amounts for the reconstruction of the kitchen at t)he McLeod Sanatorium and various minor works at other institutions.
– Is any provision made in respect of the laundry service at the Edward Millen T.B. Home, where, I understand, the laundering is now done by private contract?
– I understand that that institution is already equipped with a laundry. I have had a good deal of correspondence on this matter with the honorable senator and Mr. Curtin. No provision is made in respect of it in these Estimates, but I am not altogether satisfied with some of the reports I have received regarding this matter, and have asked for a full report from the Repatriation Commissioner.
– I ask the Minister for information concerning an estimated further liability of £140,000^ indicated in a footnote in respect of this item.
– That estimate refers to a certain amount of work which cannot be carried out during the current finan cial year. A suggestion now under consideration is that the Prince of Wales Hospital at Randwick shall be rebuilt. So far as this institution is concerned, the Commonwealth is under a very great obligation to the State Government of New South Wales, which placed this hospital at our disposal. Our period’ of occupancy has now expired, and I am negotiating with the Premier of New South Wales with a view to ascertaining whether his government is prepared to make an exchange of that property for a portion of Commonwealth land at the old Randwick rifle range, which the Government of New South Wales might find suitable for development under its housing scheme. If this exchange be brought about, this Government will secure absolute ownership of the Prince of Wales Military Hospital. If rebuilding is undertaken the new hospital will be erected on the site of the existing hospital. A start will be made on a spare allotment at the rear of the present staff building, and when that section is completed the demolition of the front section of the existing building will be commenced. This proposal, however, is still the subject of negotiation between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of New South Wales.
, - As some- of the expenditure under this item refers to the provision of kitchen improvements at various institutions under the control of the Repatriation Department, I draw the attention of the Minister to the great advantages of stainless steel cooking utensils as compared with aluminium utensils. Some years ago a controversy on this matter arose in England, and one doctor, in giving evidence, stated that the health of his children had declined a3 the result of the use of aluminium cooking utensils. A close inspection revealed that the stomachs of his children had been irritated by aluminium. Recently, I went through a factory in Victoria which specializes in stainless steel cooking utensils. This material costs a little more than aluminium, but it is certainly much more healthy for cooking purposes.
Senator FOLL (Queensland - Minister for Repatriation) [4.361. - Although there is no item here covering kitchen equipment, I shall bring the honorable senator’s suggestions under the notice of the chairman of the commission. In the purchase of new equipment, the department endeavours to secure the best materials available.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote - Department of Commerce, £22,250 - agreed to.
Proposed vote, £154,000.
– Does this sum contain any provision for housing railway workers on the transAustralian railway?
– The sum of £9,500 has been allocated for additions to employees’ residences, workshops, plant and equipment, improvements to reservoirs, &c. I do not know how much of that sum is for workmen’s houses, but some provision therefor is included in the vote.
.- The sum of £300 is set down for the Australian Capital Territory railway. It is time that this capital city had a better advertisement than the wretched railway station which now serves it. The present station is a blot on an otherwise beautiful landscape. I trust that my suggestion will be passed on to the proper authorities, and that something will soon be done.
– I shall be pleased to pass on the honoralble senator’s suggestion.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Postm aster-General’s Department.
Proposed vote, £3,938,000.
– Can the Postmaster-General say whether provision has been made in this vote for a broadcasting station at Cairns, and another in western Queensland?
– Half the cost of the Cairns broadcasting station is included.
– Are the officers ‘ of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department still of the opinion that it is impossible to allow the
Trade and Labour Council of Queensland to have a wireless station, because no wavelength is available?
– I can assure the honorable senator that it is not possible to give a wireless licence to the organization that he has mentioned, and that there are many other bodies in a similar position. Australia has only a limited number of wave channels, and in some instances the same channel is shared by two commercial stations. I frequently wish that the department had never agreed to the sharing of wave channels. With the exception of a few wave channels which are being reserved for regional or national stations, all the wave channels allotted to Australia have been taken up. Unless we agree to a greater amount of sharing - and on that subject I hold strong views - it is impossible, with our present scientific knowledge, to grant additional licences. I personally have no scientific knowledge of the subject, and cannot hold out any great hope that things will improve ; the only crumb of comfort that I can give to the Senate is that new discoveries are constantly being made in radio science. Honorable senators can rest assured that the pressure brought on the department to grant new licences is sufficient to keep all concerned on the qui vive.
– Is it not a fact that Licences were granted to other B class stations near to Brisbane after theTrades Hall authorities there had submitted their application ?
– I cannot answer that question, because the matter was dealt with before I assumed control of the department. I can assure the honorable senator, however, that all applications are carefully examined by officers who haveno axe to grind, and that no political considerations are allowed to obtrude.
.- The whole of the proposed vote is to come from revenue. Can the PostmasterGeneral say whether these new works will be financed out of profits made last year, or out of the profits which the department will undoubtedly make this year?
– Some of the money will come out of last year’s profits, and some out of profits which are expected to be made this year.
. - In my opinion, this increased expenditure from revenue is not justified, in view of the urgent need to expend large sums for the defence of Australia. New telephone exchange services are not urgent, and could easily be postponed, particularly as they do not provide a great amount of employment.
– It is easily seen that the honorable senator does not live in the outback parts of Australia.
– I assure Senator Wilson that these Estimates have been cut to the bone in order to make available for defence works every shilling that can be spared. It would, however, be most uneconomical to carry on under the conditions which exist in certain centres; in the long run, delay would mean added expense. Before the improved telephonic service between Melbourne and Geelong was provided, the cost of propping up the posts along that route, and of maintenance generally was tremendous. Honorable senators would be astounded to know the cost of replacing even one post. The department cannot allow services to be interrupted by causes within its control, and unless some of these cables are placed underground the service will not be satisfactory.
– The posts began to decay before the present year.
– For years the department has been propping up posts uneconomically. These matters have been considered in the light of the whole national economy. Honorable senators would be amazed at the difficulties associated with the central telephone exchange at Sydney. Only by the constant care of highly skilled men has it been possible to maintain the service, in order to give satisfactory service, a new exchange must be provided, and the post office accommodation will have to be extended.
– The more money that is expended by the department, the more its revenue will increase.
– I am glad to see that Senator Gibson, a former Postmaster-General, has sufficiently recovered from his recent illness to be again in his place. This expenditure is in the interests of Australia. The department wishes to give the best service possible; if these works be not undertaken, it will have to do its best with unsatisfactory equipment. Speaking by and large, I warn honorable senators of the effect of such a policy upon the postal services.
– Some of the expenditure for which the bill makes provision is quite unjustified. For instance telephone poles were erected less than five years ago at Hazlewood Park, a new suburb of Adelaide. These poles, being at the rear of residences, are out of sight, yet the department intends to remove them and place the wires underground. Residents of the district have protested against this extravagance. The people of Australia are quite ready to meet additional expenditure on defence, but they object strongly to the waste of money on such works as underground telephone lines. This expenditure will not increase the productivity of the country, nor will it provide any additional worth while employment. Such works could easily be postponed in a time of emergency such as the present.
– Can the Minister inform me whether the schedule contains provision for the erection of a telephone exchange at Bankstown?
– There is an amount of £3,500 for the Bankstown exchange.
– I am very pleased that this work is to be put in hand, because I appreciate the difficulties experienced by the people concerned over a number of years. It has been suggested that, in this matter, I have been voicing a sectional interest. That is not so. It will always be my policy to urge the modernization of telephone exchanges in all parts of the Commonwealth.
– There is a general belief in Hobart that B class or commercial stations are passing into the hands of a strong combine which is also representative of newspaper interests. I understand that when Station 7HT Hobart applied for a licence it was informed that the application would not be considered unless it was prepared to give the Hobart Mercury a half interest in the station. Believing that that was the only possible way to get the licence, the applicants intimated their willingness to do what was asked, and were then met with a demand by the Hobart Mer~cury for 51 per cent, of the shares. When the promoters refused to accept these terms they were informed that the newspaper interest would accept 50 per cent, of the shares if permitted to have full control over the news broadcast through the station.
– Order! The broadcasting service does not come within the scope of this discussion.
– I should like to know if provision is made for the construction of a new post office at New Norfolk. The present building is very ancient and although it serves the purpose, the employees are working under great difficulties. The steps leading to the post office are also a source of danger to invalid and old-age pensioners. I hope, also, that arrangements are being made to provide a post office at Flinders Island, because there is much dissatisfaction with the present facilities. «
. - With regard to the carrying on of existing services, if any honorable senator brings a complaint before me I shall undertake to see that conditions are tightened up. There is provision for the acquisition of a site for a new post office building at Flinders Island this year, and an amount of £7S0 has been set aside for expenditure on the post office building at New Norfolk. I know that conditions at the latter office are bad, but this sum is all that could be spared for expenditure there.
– It is almost like calling spirits from the vasty deep to urge the Government once more to do something in connexion with the Brisbane Post Office. For about 58 years the citizens have been agitating for a new building, and they are beginning to wonder whether it will ever be erected. Lately some people have suggested that instead of being called PostmasterGeneral, Senator A. J. McLachlan should be named the “ Minister for Postponement General “. I do not know whether the honorable gentleman has been postponing the work of the Postal Department generally, but he has certainly been postponing activity in connexion with the proposed new post office at Brisbane. It is time some definite undertaking was given regarding this building. If I were discourteous I should refer to the Minister as a political humbug; but not being discourteous I shall not do that. I maintain, however, that there has been a considerable amount of humbug in the Postal Department over this matter. Time after time a new post office has been promised, but nothing has been done. In 1925 Sir Donald Cameron, then a member of the House of Representatives. stressed the urgent need for a new building because of the bad working conditions and inefficient service provided in the existing office. Ministers visited Brisbane in 1936 and had a nice talk to the people. Among them was the present PostmasterGeneral, of genial manner ‘and jovial spirit. He treated the citizens of Brisbane to a speech in which he displayed his best form. The Minister’s remarks induced the Brisbane Telegraph to offer this comment in an editorial -
The difficulty with Senator McLachlan seems to be that his administrative faculty is hedged in by both the Old. and the New. Some matters cannot be dealt with because they are too old; and others cannot be dealt with because they are too new.
As a topic of interest, the Brisbane Post Office is both old and new. I also believe that Senator Gibson, who at one time very ably filled the office of PostmasterGeneral, offered the people of Brisbane a new post office. That gentleman has since criticized various Postmasters-General -in connexion with departmental expenditure generally, a.nd advised them to spend money in order to make more money. In the same editorial, the Brisbane Telegraph also gave this advice to the PostmasterGeneral : -
If he studies the history of the British post office in recent years he will find an illuminating example of what courageous enterprise can achieve in public service; he will find that both the Treasury and the people have directly benefited because nien with vision have rushed in where the McLachlans fear to tread. But if the Senator is unequal to envisaging the benefit of the Commonwealth as a whole, he might reasonably be expected to cope with a comparatively local position. Yet hia preliminary contributions to the settlement of the Brisbane post office question were disturbingly unimpressive.
That statement was made two years ago. The honorable gentleman is still unimpressive.
– Order ! I remind the honorable senator that the committee is discussing post offices; not the administration of the Postmaster-General.
– That is so. We have been discussing a proposal to build a new general post office at Brisbane since federation, and, if God is good to us, we shall probably still be discussing it 50 years hence. We have been informed, on more than one occasion, that the plans for a new building have been prepared and that the work will be proceeded with. In January of this year, the PostmasterGeneral gave an assurance to Mr. George Lawson, the member for Brisbane in the House of Representatives, that the work would be commenced before June. Unfortunately, he omitted to state which June he meant. I realize, of course, that defence is all-important at present and that much money which will have been spent in other directions will now have to be diverted to defence, which has been so grossly ‘ neglected by the Lyons Government. At last, Ministers have seen the light, and they now intend to do what is possible to ensure the safety of this country. In the circumstances one feels almost ashamed to discuss this matter, but the people of Queensland are complaining that the only States which can obtain anything from the Commonwealth are Victoria and New South Wales. Queensland is a Cinderella so far as the Postal Department is concerned.
– What did the Scullin Government do in 1930-31?
– Senator McBride knows that when, the Scullin Government was in office Australia was in the grip of an economic blizzard, so that the Government could not carry out this work. But for years now we have been hearing of the prosperity which we are assured has been brought about by the activities of the intelligentsia supporting the Lyons Government. We have been told about this ad nauseam, and I have come to the conclusion that those who are responsible for the continued delay with regard to the Brisbane Post Office are nothing but political humbugs.
Senator A. J. McLACHLAN (South Australia - Postmaster-General) [5.5). - On many occasions Senator Brown has brought this matter under notice. It is true that a certain pledge was given by the Prime Minister (Mt. Lyons), and the Government has been trying to find out how best to embark on this vast undertaking. Plans have been prepared and have been approved for the commencement of the rear portion of the new structure, without which it would be impossible to carry out the re-building scheme. The parcels office is already in course of construction. I agree that the Brisbane office is one of the bad spots in post office administration, but the sum of £50,000 is provided on the Estimates to make a start with this work.
– Has consideration been given to the provision of a post office at Inglewood, where nearly 3,000 people reside? They now have only a nonofficial post office, and, if a customer asked for ten shillings worth of stamps he would probably be told that there were not stamps in the office to that amount. The Bayswater Roads Board has offered a block of land as a site for a new post office as is shown in the following letter from the board, dated the 8th September. 1938 :-
The board has been in communication with the Postmaster-General, Perth, and offered portion of reserve A.l 8,958 for the purpose of building a post office, Postmaster General’s Department, file number being 35/212. This land is situated at the corner of Salisbury and Beaufort-streets, and is at present a class “ A “ reserve vested in the board. The board will be pleased if you will endeavour to have a post office built in Bedford Park on the portion of this reserve referred to, and is prepared to give the land for this purpose, that is, of course, provided the Government would agree to the transfer of it.
I can say without fear of contradiction that no difficulty would be experienced in obtaining the consent of the Government of Western Australia to the transfer to the department of the title to this land. At the present time, pensioners have to walk from a mile to a mile and a half in all weathers to collect their pensions from neighbouring post offices. It is only fair and reasonable that they should have the accommodation and shelter which an ordinary post office would provide. There is only one place in Perth where the pensioners are provided with a proper place in which to collect their pensions.
. - I am gratified tohear that an authority in Western Australia is prepared to present the department with a site for a post office, as I had placed a certain sum on the Estimates for the purchase of a site. I ‘believe that the sum of £300 was provided for this purpose, but in view of the gift to be made to the department, the contemplated expenditure will be unnecessary, and an additional sum will now be available for defence purposes. Provision has been made towards the cost of providing a new building at Inglewood to cost £1,600.
– From time to time I have brought under the notice of the department the need for reducing the cost of telephonic services in country districts. Every honorable senator will agree that the time has come when the residents in out-back areas should enjoy these facilities. One of the chief items in the provision of a new service is the cost of the necessary poles, and I suggest that poles much shorter than the standard height would meet the needs in the country districts, and would simplify the work of effecting temporary repairs in the event of breakdowns. By reducing the costof the poles the department could lower the cost of bringing telephonic facilities within the reach of thousands of persons who, in my opinion, should enjoy them. In the event of medical assistance being required, a telephone is of great assistance in an outlying district. I see no reason why the benefit of the telephone should be enjoyed exclusively by those who probably have other means of summoning medical assistance in the event of accident or illness. Poor people who are pioneering the outback districts should not be called upon to pay for a telephone service on the mileage basis. The present charges are prohibitive unless a number of settlers obtain a party service, and even then the cost to each individual is greater than it is in a capital city. The necessity for the subscribers to guarantee a return on the cost of construction is an irritating condition. It is not easy for a number of settlers to furnish a lump sum of £20 or £30 as a guarantee that they will continue as subscribers. It should be taken for granted that once they become subscribers they will continue to require the service.
– I was not present last year when these Estimates were under consideration, but, no doubt, a discussion similar to that now being heard took place. Whereas the proposed vote is £600,000 this year, the estimate last year was £500,000, and only £240,000 was expended. We have no guarantee that the Postmaster-General will give effectto this works programme. We are led to believe that the Postmaster-General is in earnest, and intends to give effect to a programme providing for the expenditure of £600,000, despite the fact that last year only about 50 per cent, of the vote was expended. The Minister occupies a unique position, for he is liberally supplied with revenue. He has an enormous surplus from year to year, which he smilingly and generously hands over to the Treasury.
– Not smilingly; I must correct that statement.
– He is generous to the extent of handing over to the Treasury, to be expended in some other direction, money that rightly belongs to his department. This results in the starvation of services which are essential to the people of Australia. The Minister is so far removed from those people who require additional postal facilities that he does this with a smile! Only recently I and other members of this chamber made an application to the Minister for a post office at Mullewa. The present building is a ramshackle wooden structure, not at all in keeping with the importance of the town, which has uptodate and efficient business premises. A courteous reply was received from the
Minister that he regretted that he could not make available the accommodation required. He added that he thought that this important town had a post office adequate to meet the needs of the district. No doubt the Minister overlooked the fact that this part of Western Australia is drought-stricken this year. The residents are experiencing hard times, and apparently the officer of the department who made a report on the request for this post office, stressed the hardship now experienced in the district. But this town is the stock centre of the Murchison district. Situated 65 miles due east of Geraldton, it is the centre on which the stock routes of the north country and an extensive railway system converge. For some years the residents have suffered the disabilities associated with the old wooden post office, and in view of- the lavish manner in which the PostmasterGeneral is supplied with revenue, one would expect him to put up a fight in the interests of the department instead of appearing before the committee with inflated estimates which raise hopes that are doomed to be disappointed. The estimated expenditure of the Postmaster-General’s Department is always inflated. The Minister presents a striking picture of what he proposes to do, particularly in country centres; but only 50 per cent, of the money voted for his department last year was expended. If we did not know the Postmaster-General so well we might say that his action in this respect is not altogether honest. He should submit estimates which are more accurate, and not make the people believe that he intends to provide needed facilities which, in fact, he will not provide. I trust that in future we shall not find that only 50 per cent, of tho money appropriated has been actually expended. The promises which the Postmaster-General makes to the people should be redeemed. I know that he will toll us that he appealed to the Treasurer for funds to give effect to his works programme, but that the Treasurer could not provide sufficient money. That is not very satisfactory to those who are looking for some response to their representations. Will the Minister say why he has not expended the amount which Parliament authorized him to expend?
– If the position were as stated by Senator Cunningham, his criticism would be sound. The honorable senator said that tho department submitted inflated estimates which led people to believe that they would get greater benefits than they actually received. Provision was made last year for the expenditure of £2,913,100 and of that amount only £12,585 remained unexpended. The department obtained from the Treasury a further £150,000 which is included in the Supplementary Estimates, yet to come before this chamber. The honorable senator directed attention to the fact that last year £500,000 was appropriated for buildings, works, sites, fittings and furnishings, and that only £246,000 was expended. The honorable senator also said that, willingly or unwillingly, I handed to the Treasurer all revenue received by my department. If he will refer to section SI of the Constitution he will see that the revenue received by the Postmaster-General’s Department, in common with that received by other departments, has to be paid into Consolidated Revenue. That impedes the working of the Postmaster-General’s Department to a considerable extent, but under the ‘Constitution we have no alternative. Only on one occasion - I think it was when Senator Gibson was Postmaster-General - was advance provision made to finance a programme of development over a period of years”. Of the total amount appropriated last year under the Works and Buildings Estimates and under the Supplementary Estimates, £93,000 could not be expended because of the delay which occurred in connexion with the acquisition of a site for postal purposes in Sydney.
I regret that provision has not been made for the erection of a new post office at Mullewa. I recognize the force of the arguments of Senator Cunningham and his colleagues ; but I have had investigations made by departmental officers, who say that whilst Mullewa is one of many deserving cases, there are others which have prior claims to consideration.
Senator Herbert Hays referred to country services. Honorable senators wb( have been in this chamber for some years have realized that it is the desire of the Government to provide additional country services wherever practicable. During the three years ended the 30th June, 1937, the Postal Department has lost over £1,000,000 on country services.
– That is not a fair statement of the position. That estimate is based, on a one-way service.
– It is the basis upon which we have to calculate, and, when he was PostmasterGeneral, it was used by the honorable senator.From whatever angle the subject is studied, it must be admitted that there is a considerable loss on some country services. The department endeavours to deal as fairly as possible with country residents, because it realizes that they are entitled to the best facilities that can be provided with the money available. We endeavour to reduce the cost of country telephone services by allowing applicants for telephonic connexions to cut the telephone posts and to dig post holes, but the technical work has to be undertaken by experienced officers.
– The Postmaster-General, who said that he cut his estimates last year to the bone, expended only £246,023 of the £500,000 appropriated for buildings, works, sites, fittings, and furniture. This curtailment of expenditure has been to the detriment of those in rural districts. I presume that “ fittings “ covers the installation of telephones, and I ask the Postmaster-General whether he does not consider that a reduction of telephone rentals should be made. A person who has had a telephone installed in his home or business place for a long period must have paid in rent an amount sufficient to purchase several instruments. I do not suppose that a telephone instrument costs the department more than £5 or £6.
– The honorable senator is not entitled to discuss telephone rents under this proposed vote.
- Senator Wilson was allowed to refer to telephone poles.
– . Senator Wilson was dealing with trunk-line services.
– . Senator Herbert Hays referred to three or four items that had already been passed by the committee, and I submit that I should be permitted to discuss telephone rents under “Miscellaneous services”.
– Telephone rents cannot be discussed under this measure.
– Reference has been made to country telephone services, and I am showing that the rents which subscribers are compelled to pay are partly responsible for the high cost of telephone services. I trust that the Minister will see whether a substantial reduction can be made in this respect.
Thepost office at Leeton was constructed when the population of that town was only 1,000; but to-day the town has over 10,000 residents. I saw that post office a few months ago, and I have photographs of it showing that it is an antiquated weatherboard structure. It is a discredit to adjacent buildings. I again ask the Postmaster-General to consider the construction of a new post office at Leeton. Some months ago, I referred to the Lithgow post office, and the Minister told me that he would send an inspector to examine that building. I understand that, an inspection was made, but so far no improvement has been effected.
– An amount of £1,425 is allocated in this vote towards the cost of remodelling the Leeton post office. I am afraid that it is impossible to provide a new post office in this centre, or, indeed, in many others. An amount of £400 is provided for alterations at the Lithgow telephone exchange.
– During the debate on the budget papers the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) pointed out that the department was losing about £400,000 annually on country telephonic services, and he stated that each department must be treated on its merits. That is not in conformity with the statement just made when he, to suit himself, treated the department as a whole. I have received letters from residents at Lakeside and Mount Monger, which are remote towns in Western Australia, requesting that post offices and telephone exchanges be provided at each of those places. This matter has already been considered by the department, and I understand that it was because of the Lakeside Woodline company not being linked up with the telephone system that the position of Mount Monger was not considered at the time. As the population at Lakeside has been stationary for many years, that centre is entitled to these facilities. At present residents at Lakeside and Mount Monger get their letters delivered by ore carters or grocers from Kalgoorlie. I agree with Sena to Herbert Hays that as the department as a whole is making a large annual profit, the claims of isolated communities for postal and telephonic facilities should be considered irrespective of the revenue estimated to be received therefrom. Under federation it was never intended that the Postmaster-General’s Department should be a revenue-producing department. It was conceived mainly as a. means of providing facilities for tho people as a whole. I do not suggest that it should not make some profit, but if any semi-governmental authority used its powers in the same manner as the Postmaster-General’s Department, either this Government, or the State Government concerned, would very soon enact legislation to curtail its profitmaking. As the department shows a handsome profit in the aggregate, I again appeal to the Postmaster-General to give more sympathetic consideration to the claims of remote communities for postal mid telephonic facilities. In judging such claims, the department should consider, not prospective profits, but whether the size of the community warrants such facilities. Lakeside is so isolated that possibly the only means available to residents to secure medical aid is by motor lorry.
– I shall bc only too pleased to give consideration to the representations of any honorable senator for postal and telephonic facilities in centres which do not now enjoy them. I receive many suggestions of this kind from members of Parliament, but many of them are of no value whatever. However, some of them are worth investigating, and if Senator
Fraser will submit his requests in respect of Lakeside and Mr Monger, I shall be only too pleased to refer them to officers of the department for investigation as to whether anything can be done to relieve those communities of their present disabilities.
.- Can the Postmaster-General give us any idea of the progress being made with regard to selective ringing on party lines? I understand that at present, when a call is made on a party line, all of the people on that line hear the ring and can listen-in to a call. In other countries selective ringing ha3 been adopted to overcome this disadvantage, and under that system an individual can answer a call in strict privacy.
– I discussed this matter with Sir Harry Brown, the Director of Posts and Telegraphs, and from him I gained the impression that some difficulty was being experienced in applying this innovation. However, in the meantime these difficulties may have been overcome. I shall make inquiries on that point and inform honorable senators of the result.
.- Honorable senators are entitled to some explanation regarding the subscription of £75,000 to Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited. Tho PostmasterGeneral, I suggest, might take this opportunity to refresh our minds as to the Government’s connexion with this company. I do not remember exactly the whole of the circumstances of its formation. 1 understand that the Government owns half of the stock, yet it has very little say in the management of the company. To illustrate that point, I doubt whether the Postmaster-General could tell me what salary is paid to its general manager.
– I could not tell the honorable senator at the moment, but I could do so by looking up my figures.
– Is it fair that the Government should hold half of the shares in a company of this kind, which is competing with other companies? Recently a company was established in Australia to engage in the manufacture of wireless valves, and it does not seem to be on so favorable a footing as is Amalgamated “Wireless (Australasia) Limited. In fact, it was penalized through the imposition of an excise duty. -For what purpose is this £75,000 required ? Does it represent fresh capital ? Is the Government buying more than 50 per cent, of the stock? Or, is this amount necessary for the expansion of the activities of the company in order to enable it to compete more effectively with other companies? Some explanation of the item as it appears here, is certainly called for. I should have thought that in view of the monopoly which this company practically enjoys in respect of wireless valves and wireless cabinets, it is making sufficient profits to enable it to provide for new plant and the expansion of its business without further assistance from this Government which, apparently, is quite willing to grant such aid irrespective of whether it receives dividends or not.
– The Treasury derives a dividend of 11 per cent, on stock which the Commonwealth holds in this company.
– Can the PostmasterGeneral assure us that this additional amount of £75,000 will earn 11 per cent., or can he justify so high a dividend rate in respect of an ordinary trading concern which, with Government assistance, is competing with other companies ? It seems to me that the Government, in fostering this sort of thing, is contradicting its political profession that it should not compete with private enterprise. Perhaps the Postmaster-General will accept this opportunity to refresh the minds of honorable senators as to where we stand in respect of this company.
– This amount of £75,000 represents calls on the 500,001 shares which the Commonwealth Government holds in Amalgamated “Wireless (Australasia) Limited. The Commonwealth has a controlling interest in the company. Our shares were paid up to only 14s., hut a call of 4s. a share was recently made, of which ls. was paid last financial year. Originally, I think, they were paid up to only 14s., but calls have been made from time to time as required. Last year representations were made that owing to expansion of business further capital should be called up, and, on my recommendation, the Government decided that this was justified. The Government held the view that it was better to put in the cash rather than pay perhaps as much as 5-£ per cent, or 6 per cent, interest on overdrafts. Judging by the past returns of this company, this further investment should prove profitable. The company, as honorable senators are aware, has practically complete control of wireless communication outside Australia, including communication with ships at sea. Its concessions were provided for under the Wireless Agreement made in 1922 and amended in 1927. The Beam Wireless branch has been very successful. Lately it has come into competition with reduced cable rates. Nevertheless, this £75,000, to be paid out of the revenue of my department for this year, is expected to yield to the Treasury a return of approximately ll£ per cent. Although the point raised by Senator Leckie is outside the ambit of this discussion, I point out that the original agreement under which Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited was constituted provided that it could engage in manufacture. I agree that there is substance in the honorable senator’s contention that this company may have an advantage over its competitors in that the Commonwealth Government is practically a partner.
– It is in a position to crush its competitors. .
– Far from having attempted that, the company has treated its competitors fairly. I remind the Senate that on one occasion, when certain valves were not available in Australia, the company rendered good service to the people. The company is subject to precisely the same taxation, including excise duties, as any other company, and enjoys no special privileges.
As to the control and management of the company, I point out that the Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department directly watches the interests of the Government. After every board meeting, he reports to me what has taken place. In ordinary matters, I consult with the
Prime Minister, but should anything of special interest take place, the matter is brought before Cabinet. At this stage, I cannot prophesy what will take place in the future; but honorable senators may rest assured that the activities of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited will be carefully watched by the Commonwealth Government. Should any question be asked regarding the transactions of the company, I can always deal with it, because, in addition to the records kept in the Prime Minister’s Department, a duplicate set is kept in my department in Melbourne.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £300,000.
– I should like to know whether the proposed vote for the Northern Territory includes any sum for the resumption of land in the town of Darwin for naval purposes. For over eighteen months, the business people of Darwin have been greatly perturbed by rumours that a large portion of the townis likely to be resumed. Some of them have deferred extension of their business premises pending the receipt of definite information on this subject. It seems most unfair that valuable business sites should be taken for naval purposes, especially when there is other land available. The people of Darwin would like some authoritative information on the subject.
– I endorse the remarks of Senator Cooper about the effect on the business people of Darwin of reports that land in the town is likely to be resumed for naval purposes. Disquieting rumours of naval “ brass hats “ saying : “ We want this land “ have almost paralysed business developments there.
I call attention to the great waste of money involved in building a new aboriginal compound at Darwin. This compound is being built within four miles of Darwin and within one mile and a half of Parap, which will become the centre of Darwin if the “ brass hats “ get their way. Thus the present site will be within about half a mile of this compound. Not only is money being wasted, but also the ideal of preserv ing the aboriginal race in its native state will not be achieved. The natives are degenerating through being placed in compounds. Some time ago, Judge Wells, in sentencing an aboriginal boy, expressed the opinion that the boy should be. given a good flogging, sent back to Bathurst Island and made to stay there. I do not agree with his remarks about flogging, but I believe that he was right when he said that whilst others had sown the wind, women of Darwin and their children are reaping the whirlwind. Judge Wells said recently -
The Parliamentary Public Works Committee, which was here recently, should have investigated thu proposed new £40,000 aboriginal compound. They must have concluded that the compound was the worst thing for the natives, and would attract more and more to the town where they would deteriorate and got into trouble.
That is the opinion of a judge who has spent many years in the Northern Territory. Mr. Xavier Herbert, the author of Capricornia, which was awarded a prize of £250 in connexion with the sesqui-ccntenary celebrations of New South Wales, who lived among the aborigines for ten years, says that the money expended by the Government on aborigines in and near Darwin has been fritted away. He speaks highly of aborigines as an intelligent and lovable people. They would be happier in their native gunyahs and bark huts, living according to their tribal custom, than in the wood and fibrolite dwellings which the Government is preparing for them. The Government is not helping these people, who are practically savages, by taking them from their native environment and herding them together in compounds.
TheCHAIRMAN. - Order ! The honorable senator is in order in discussing the buildings, but he is not in order in discussing the policy of the Government in regard to these people.
– The Government proposes to expend money on a compound for natives and I am tryiug to prove that it is making a mistake. I claim that my remarks are connected with the proposed vote now under discussion. Money is being wasted. I am trying to convince the Senate that it should not authorize the expenditure of money in the direction proposed, and arn giving reasons in support of my contention. If I am to be limited, as the Chairman suggests, why is this item here? I am giving not only my own opinion, but also that of Judge Wells when I say that this money will be expended wrongly if the Government’s proposals be agreed to. Mr. Herbert has lived in close association with the aborigines for many years. He has provided me with material which shows that a grave mistake is being made by the Commonwealth in spending money on this proposed compound. I have been to Darwin, and have seen the building, and I know the condition of the natives. I contend that as the committee is now considering the Government’s proposal to spend money on the Northern Territory generally, and, in particular, on the proposed new compound for aborigines, you, Mr. Chairman, should not rule my remarks out of order.
– I do not wish to stop the honorable senator. I merely point out that the committee is discussing proposed works and buildings, and not the policy of the Government in relation to the native population generally. The honorable gentleman must connect, his remarks with the item.
– Large sums are to he expended on new works at Darwin, yet I am to be prevented from discussing the purpose for which some of the money is to be applied. A new hospital is to be built on the site of the old compound, and new accommodation i3 to be provided for the aborigines. From information in my possession, and from my knowledge of Darwin, I am convinced that money spent on the new compound will be wasted.
– Is the honorable senator contending that the build ing is not suitable, or that it is being built in the wrong part of the town?
– In the first place, the site selected for the compound is unsuitable; it is too near to Darwin. Judge Wells, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph, stated -
A lot of people lire sowing tlie wind in aboriginal matters; but women and people of the territory are. reaping the whirlwind.
My second objection is that money should not be spent on n compound of this par ticular description, because it will not achieve the object that many friends of the aborigines desire should be achieved. The scheme proposed by the Government might provide cheap labour, but the result will be to exploit the aborigines economically “and ruin them morally. Certainly it will not save the native race. The aborigines should be housed further from Darwin. The camp could be established on Cox’s Peninsula, which is 4 miles from Darwin by water and 100 miles by land. A native settlement there could be effectively patrolled, the blacks could build their own gunyahs and preserve their tribal rites, and they could be supervised by men who sympathize with and understand them. Apparently, under the Standing Orders I am not permitted to discuss this very interesting position, but I shall be pleased to supply to the Government and to honorable senators, the suggestions made to me by Mr. Herbert who was for a time in charge of the Darwin compound. This gentleman spent several years amongst the native races and thoroughly under.stands them. I believe that if the Government understood the position as it should be understood, it would not continue to waste money in this direction. In the statement supplied to me Mr. Herbert says in connexion with his suggested scheme -
I outlined it to Dr. Cook, Chief Protector of aborigines in Darwin. He pooh-poohed it, saying first that he would not travel anywhere in a launch, and that he had enough trouble already in travelling to the leper station in that way. Then he said that such a scheme would rob the people of Darwin of their cheap black labour and that therefore it would not be done. He would not discuss it further, except to say that I ought to bo a missionary.
I then drafted a scheme for Professor Elkin of the Department of Anthropology of Sydney University. Ho thought it was a good one and put it before Canberra - that is, the Department of the Interior. The Department of thu Interior submitted it to Darwin and nothing more was heard of it. Now the Government is well on the way with its £80,000 stupidity, which is doomed to failure from the start. [ am sorry that, because of the ruling from the Chair, I cannot deal with this question at greater length. I hope that the Government will pause, and try to evolve some scheme which will have for its object the preservation, and not the exploitation, of the aborigines.
– I understand from the Minister that an amount of £19,000 is involved in the construction of a new compound at Darwin. Three weeks ago, upon notice, I asked if the Minister’s attention had been drawn to the statement by Judge Wells, and the reply given was that the matter was under consideration. I should like the Minister to advise the Senate whether or not, in view of the opinion expressed by Judge Wells; the Minister for the Interior (Mr. McEwen), who recently visited the Northern Territory, is satisfied that this sum should be expended. L” agree with the anthropologists that the building of a compound such as that proposed, will attract more natives to Darwin. It has been proved beyond doubt that once they make contact with white people they degenerate. If the Government has confidence in Judge Wells in his official capacity at Darwin, his statement that the money to be voted for this purpose is a scandalous waste, should have very serious consideration.
– The Government welcomes the criticism offered by honorable senators who, as a result of their recent visits to the Northern Territory, have seen fit to bring certain matters before the committee. I assure them that their representations with reference to the construction of a new compound for aborigines at Darwin is receiving consideration by the Minister. I shall submit to the Government the further representations made to-day. There will be a full investigation of Senator Brown’s allegations regarding the unsuitability of the site, and the design of the compound itself.
– Will the Minister place Mr. Herbert’s scheme before the Minister for the Interior?
– I am sure that the Minister will be very pleased to see it. I know that Mr. McEwen is anxious to serve the best interests of the people of the Northern Territory, and he is particularly interested in the protection and welfare of the native population’ of Australia. With reference to the complaint made by Senator Cooper regarding the resumption of land in Darwin, when a question on this subject was asked re cently I submitted the matter to the Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby) and asked him to make investigations. I understand that there is a good deal of dissatisfaction among the people of Darwin over the proposed resumption of land.
I assure honorable senators that I shall personally see that the matters which they have raised are placed before the respective Ministers in order that they may be fully investigated.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– I am glad to note that the sum of £14,000 is proposed to be voted for mining batteries in the Northern Territory, but I regret that the vote is not larger. I have had an opportunity to inspect some of the mining areas in Central and Northern Australia. The field at Tennant Creek, which is 60 miles long and 40 miles wide, is one of the largest mining areas in Australia, and up to the present time the surface has been merely scratched. It is gratifying to find that the Government is now prepared to prove this most promising locality. Some of the prospectors engaged there gave up good positions in the Department of the Postmaster-General. Most members of the committee are aware, no doubt, that the Tennant Creek mining district is a geological contradiction.
– So was the Great Boulder field.
– -There is every prospect, I think, of another Great Boulder in Central Australia. Until gold was struck at Tennant Creek, geologists declared that it would never be won from ironstone reefs. This area is suitable for working miners, but not for large companies. Small parties are taking up mining leases and making a good living. I am told that, in many instances, after the prospectors have followed a reef and Have been successful in obtaining a certain quantity of gold, the lode has suddenly given out, but that, after fossicking about, they have picked it up again. Several government batteries are now in operation in the Northern Territory. They are used to a far greater extent than private batteries, and give far better returns. Apart from Tennant
Creek, mining is being carried on in the Maranboy, Pine Creek and other districts, and I am sure that, with the assistance of the batteries which the Government proposes to provide, the population of the Northern Territory will be considerably increased. Can the Minister indicate where the proposed new batteries will be placed ?
.- 1 also am anxious to know the proposed location of the new batteries. The pre. sent Government is to be commended for its work in promoting the search for gold throughout Australia. In the Bendigo field, within five miles of the post office, gold to the value of £20,000,000 was recovered between 1855 and 1932. The average return over the whole field was 9 dwt. to the ton, and- this was considered the richest field, on the average, in the world. From the Maldon field, a return of 19 dwt. to the ton was obtained. At Tennant Creek, with almost every possible disadvantage, including a lack of water and private batteries charging up to £3 a ton for the crushing and saud treatment of ore, the average recovery has been nearly 30 dwt. to the ton, or three times that from the Bendigo field. I agree with Senator Cooper that Tennant Creek is a small man’s field. Any companies that have operated there have not been successful, although the Melbourne Age of to-day states that 200 tons of ore from the mother lode had been crushed for 165 oz. of gold. Remembering that the cost of freight from Alice Springs to Tennant Creek is £9 a ton, and considering the difficulty experienced in obtaining water on the field, one realizes how great are the drawbacks to be encountered. The Government has done good work in its search for water.
The extent of the Tennant Creek field, including Tanami, is about 1,100 square miles. Promising prospects are also found at Arltunga and Winnecke. The Government should give serious consideration to the renewal of the grant of £500,000 previously made to assist the mining industry. Miners are self-reliant and courageous, and they deserve every encouragement. The temperature at Tennant Creek in October is 116 degrees in the shade, and the miners work in open cuts on the hardest stone in the world. But the work gives most gratifying results, ordinary cappings. from reefs nearly half as high as this Senate chamber returning 6 and 8 oz. of gold to the ton. Boring operations for water reveal that the gold extends to a depth of 412 feet. The length and width of the lodes are obvious, and as we now know how deep the gold is to be found we realize that enormous yields are possible in this area. I look forward to the day when the water problem will be solved, and when it will be possible “for the miners to work under healthy conditions, without the danger of their lungs being dusted. At Bendigo the miners carry on their operations thousands of feet below the surface, but at Tennant Creek the workers have blue skies overhead day and night. Ample drinking water is now available, and with Government batteries crushing the ore for small mining parties these men should obtain independence and a good standing in the community. I believe that, when the new batteries are erected, the operations’ will be rapidly extended, and that much attention will bo drawn to the extraordinary possibilities of Central and Northern Australia.
– The Government appreciates the remarks of honorable senators who have recognized the value of the work done by the Government in the Northern Territory. The vote of £14,000 is required to cover the cost of shifting batteries to Tennant Creek, and under another vote, provision is made for the maintenance of the batteries. The policy adopted by the Government in the past will be continued. Ministers recognize that probably no industry will bring population to a new district more rapidly than will the mining industry. We sincerely hope that this field will continue to progress.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Australian Capital Territory.
Proposed vote, £545,000.
– Will the Minister in charge of the bill (Senator Foll) say whether “ architectural services, fittings and furniture”, for which £401,000 is to be appropriated, covers the cost of demolishing the buildings now used as residences at Molonglo?
SenatorFOLL (Queensland - Minister for Repatriation) [8.16]. - I cannot see an amount to cover the cost of demolishing the buildings to Avhich the honorable senator has referred. A considerable portion of the amount to be appropriated is to be expended in constructing cottages in Canberra for public servants who have yet to come here, and to meet the housing requirements of Canberra people generally. At present there is a waiting list of 367, made up as follows : - Permanent officers, 26; other government employees, 105; persons in private employment, 82 ; persons engagedin the building trade, 49 ; relief workers, 98 ; and miscellaneous, 7. An amount of £170,000 has been provided on the current year’s Estimates towards a total cost of £250,000 for cottage construction. Tenders have closed for the erection of 64 houses at Ainslie, and further tenders will be invited shortly. It is estimated that the £250,000 will permit of the erection of a further 220 residences. In addition, 30 homes are in course of erection at Griffith, the cost of which will be met from last year’s appropriation. It is estimated that about 200 additional cottages will bc completed or in course of erection by the end of the current financial year.
– I am grateful to the Minister (Senator Foll) for the information he has given regarding the expenditure which the Government proposes to incur in order to solve a portion of the housing problem in Canberra; but it does not go far enough. At Molonglo, a condition of affairs exists which cannot be allowed to continue much longer. On numerous occasions I have raised this subject, but nothing has been done. Most of those who know Canberra are proud of this capital city; but the only features that detract from our pride are those horrible plague spots at Molonglo and the Causeway. I admit that conditions prevailing at the latter place are not quite so bad as those at Molonglo. I impress upon the Government that, in developing its housing scheme, it cannot dodge its responsibility much longer. People are at work in Canberra - I am not silent or inactive in the matter - who are determined that the Government shall take action immediately. The Government may, by speaking of its commitments in respect of defence, or by other subterfuges, seek to divert attention from this plague spot; its inactivity in this regard will not be countenanced much longer. There are people in this city who are prepared to take action to arouse public opinion to such an extent that the Government will be forced to do its job. The members of the Opposition and thousands of residents of Canberra, who have visited these places, are determined that action shall be taken to demolish these buildings. The Minister has informed the Committee of the thousands of pounds it proposes to spend to improve the housing conditions in Canberra. I know why that money is to be expended, and of the demand for additional accommodation ; but before one penny is expended to provide new homes for public servants the Government should get rid of these plague spots to which I have referred. I again ask the Minister to bring this matter under the notice of the Minister for the Interior.
– I appreciate the sincerity of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) concerning the conditions under which certain persons are living at Molonglo and the Causeway, and I assure him that the Government is as anxious as he is that everyone living in the Australian Capital Territory shall be properly housed-. Unfortunately most of the buildings to which the honorable senator refers were intended originally for an entirely different purpose, but when the population of Canberra increased at a rate greater than that at which housing provision could be made, the Federal Capital Commission, which was then controlling the activities in this territory, had to permit certain persons to occupy these premises until additional cottages could be built. I understand that the occupants of cottages at Molonglo and the Causeway will be allowed to move into new homes as they are erected ; but one of the greatest difficulties with which the Government is faced is that it is almost impossible to build houses rapidly enough to meet the demand. It is not altogether a matter of finance, because great difficulty is experienced in securing the services of skilled tradesmen. Recently I had a conversation with Colonel Evans, of Brisbane, who is carrying out certain constructional work at Captain’s Elat, and he told me that as fast as he obtained skilled men for work at Captain’s Elat their services were secured by the Government, i assure the Leader of the Opposition that the building programme will be expedited as rapidly as finance and general working conditions will permit.
– I again direct the attention of the Minister to the fact that not one pound of the money to be appropriated under this bill has any relation whatever to those who are living in those hovels at Molonglo and the Causeway. It is easy for the Minister to say that these people will be able to occupy new cottages when they are built, but the rents of the houses which the Government is erecting will be too high. For years I have raised this subject, and up to the present have displayed a good deal of moderation, but my patience is becoming exhausted. I do not wish to be told thatI have referred to this subject on numerous occasions; I want something to be done. These places are destroying not only the health, but also tlie character of the occupants. We cannot expect to produce decent citizens when people are compelled, to live under indecent conditions. In a territory such as this, the Government’s first responsibility should be to provide proper housing accommodation. The Government’s housing programme should be accelerated without further argument, not only in respect of those to whom I have referred, but also in the direction of providing accommodation for artisans and others. What is happening at .present? A great proportion of the wages the Government is paying to workers in this Territory is being spent in Queanbeyan merely because housing accommodation is not available here. The Government should be building up this Territory and not an adjoining township, which is doing nothing whatever to assist its development. Government expenditure in Canberra is entirely responsible for the recent expansion which is evident in Queanbeyan. In the past my voice has been the voice of one crying in the wilderness, but that day lias passed as there are thousands of others who intend to do more than talk on this subject. I again ask tlie Minister to bring this matter under the notice of the Government. Immediate action must be taken.
– An amount of £630,000 is to be appropriated to cover the cost of items 1 to 5 inclusive in this division, but £12.6,800, which represents the amount estimated to remain unexpended at the close of the year, is to be deducted, leaving a balance of £504,000. We are also informed that there is an estimated further liability of £444,800. Will the Minister state how the amount is to be apportioned between the various items with which the committee has just dealt?
– It must be obvious that it would be quite impossible this financial year to complete the buildings, the erection of which is about to be commenced. They are part and parcel of the main building programme for the Capital Territory. Obviously, it will be impossible to carry out, by the end of the financial year, the whole of the work provided for in ‘ these Estimates, particularly the more important works. Consequently, along with the total amount required, is shown a deduction amounting to £126,800 which will revert to Consolidated Revenue and be re-voted in the next financial year. At the moment 1 cannot supply details of the estimated further liability of £444,800, but I shall give a general outline of the work proposed to be carried out out this year for which provision is being made in these Estimates. Principally, it is proposed to erect cottages in various suburbs to meet the rapid expansion of Canberra. For uncompleted works authorized during the financial year 1937-38 an amount of £163,910 is provided, and for entirely new services for this financial year the following amounts are proposed: Cottages, £170,000; patents office, £30,000; additions and alterations to cottages, £15,000; a city garbage destructor, £9,750; Canberra Community Hospital, £0,000; minor miscellaneous works, £7,340. Provision is being made for cottages at Griffith, class-room at school at Braddon, work at the aerodrome, a fire station, an additional block at Ainslie school, cottages and garages at Forrest, and work on the new high school, for which an appropriation of £75,156 is being made. Engineering services include £20,000 for road and street construction in new subdivisions, £6,000 in respect of work at the aerodrome, and £2,000 for kerbing and guttering roads. Works outside the city area consist of additions to a cottage at Jervis Bay, a residence at Mount Stromlo, and garages and fuel stores. It would be quite impossible to complete all these works by the end of Juno next. Consequently, some of the money now being appropriated will be carried over as an unexpended balance. Generally speaking, it is proposed to spread the expenditure as far as possible over the city. I assure honorable senators that we are pushing on with the general development of the city as quickly as possible.
– Did I understand the Minister to say that a certain amount had been set aside for the removal of the slums at Molonglo?
– I explained to the Leader of the Opposition that, although no amount is provided in these Estimates for that particular work, it is the Government’s desire that housing conditions should bo improved wherever necessary.
– Concerning the estimated further liability of £444,800, it would appear from the footnote that these Estimates were prepared some months ago, and that subsequent to their being printed an additional survey was made of the possibilities, not only of the erection of buildings, but also of securing additional money. Otherwise one would have expected to have had the Estimates completed without the after-thought which this footnote suggests. That afterthought must have developed very rapidly and, [ suggest, some attention must have been paid to the planning of important engineering and structural works. I cannot understand why the Estimates are brought down for an expenditure of £504,000, plus this further estimated liability of £444,S00. Undoubtedly this item would have gone through without any explanation by the Minister, had I not raised the matter. In my opinion the Estimates have not been placed before the committee in a proper manner. We have not had an opportunity to discuss them as fully as we should like. I am content to let the matter pass on this occasion with this protest, but I hope that in future the Government will place the fullest possible information in respect of each item before honorable senators. We shall then be enabled to understand the proposals more fully and, what is. perhaps, just as important, to know what financial arrangements have been made in respect of them.
– I wish to remove from the mind of the honorable senator any idea that the Government desires to withhold any information from the committee. The footnote to which he has referred has been inserted for the purpose of supplying to honorable senators, as he requested, some information as to the future requirements of the Territory. If only the expenditure proposed to be undertaken in the ensuing financial year were shown, without any indication being given of the additional cost of completing works, honorable senators opposite would complain next year that they had’ not been told that the amounts voted represented only part of the cost of such works.
– That amount was shown, I suggest, as a measure of elasticity in respect of the total amount that may be expended by the department during this financial year.
– That is not so. Much of the work which will be started during this financial year may continue not only throughout the next financial year but also into the following year. In connexion with tho Patent Office, for instance, the total estimated cost of which is £130,000, an amount of only £30,000 is provided in this year’s Estimates. It would not be right, I suggest, merely to provide for £30,000 without informing honorable senators of the total estimated cost of the project. As the honorable senator has had experience as Minister for “Works in Western Australia, he must know that many public works have to be spread over years, and that it would be unsound to appropriate the total estimated expenditure if only from 25 per cent, to 30 per cent, of it could be expended during the year. For these reasons we are appropriating only one year’s expenditure in respect of the bigger works which will be commenced, or continued, this year.
– More than that is being appropriated, because the Estimates show an unexpended balance as at the 30th June next of £126,800.
– The amount is not being appropriated; it has been subtracted from the total of £630,S00, giving a net proposed vote of £504,000. From the total estimated cost of the work is deducted the amount which it is estimated will be unexpended at the’ end of this financial year. There is also a footnote showing the further liability which the Government must incur in order to complete the various works.
– I am concerned that twelve cottages will cost £13,000, and should like to know whether they will be occupied by members of parliament, public servants, or workmen. I should also like to know the approximate rent of these homes.
– The cottages will be occupied by public servants who will be transferred to Canberra. The rents will be about 30s. a week, which represents approximately 6 per cent, of the capital cost. That charge includes ground rent, rates, and water charges.
– They will not be workmen’s cottages?
– No; they will be occupied by departmental officers.
– I understand that ten cottages, to be built at Griffith, are to cost £11,000. As that sum represents over £1,000 each, obviously, the rents will be more than the ordinary working man or the average clerk can pay. I imagine that very few junior members of the Public Service can afford to pay 30s a week as rent for a home. I am astounded at the high cost of building in Canberra, as compared with South Australia, where workmen’s cottages can be erected for a total cost of £470, including the price of the land, and are let at 12s. 6d. aweek. Evidently, building costs in Canberra are higher than in South Australia. A house cost-‘ ing £1,100, without land, can scarcely be called a workman’s cottage, nor can it be said to be suitable for a public servant on a low salary. I should like the Government to erect homes for the lowerpaid members of the Public Service, as well as for workmen.
– I should like the. Minister to say what types of cottages will be erected. Will they be of one, two, three, four or more rooms?
– Each house will be of five rooms including the kitchen. As to providing homes for lower-paid public servants, I draw attention to the fact that £170,000 is to be provided for the construction of cottages which will average from £750 to £1,000 each, the rents of which will be correspondingly lower than for the more costly buildings. The Minister for the Interior has authorized an inquiry into the cost of living in Canberra, including rents, in order that this subject may be dealt with fairly. That inquiry is proceeding.
– A comparison on the basis of the capital value of houses would not be fair because in the other cities there are ruthless rack-renting landlords.
– I take it that the inquiry will cover such matters as the cost of building in South Australia to which Senator Wilson referred, and the homes which were built in Perth by the Government of Western Australia about 30 years ago and were mentioned by Senator Fraser last week. The desire is to vary as much as possible the types of homes to be built because, obviously, a man on a small salary cannot pay as much for a dwelling as can a man with a bigger income. The sum of £170,000 will be expended in building cheapertypes of houses. It is useless to disguise the fact that building construction costs in Canberra are high.
– What interest is paid on the money used for building houses?
– The money is taken from Consolidated Revenue, and no interest other than that paid-in respect of the national indebtedness generally, is paid. The rents of government houses include ground rent, rates and water rates, some of which charges would be additional to the rents paid by householders in the other cities of Australia. The Government is not satisfied with the cost of buildings in Canberra: that is one of the reasons why the Minister for the Interior has taken such a personal interest in this matter, and has authorized the inquiry to which I have referred.
– Will it be possible to ascertain whether the rule that rent should not exceed one day’s wages operates generally, with a view to applying it to Canberra ?
– The inquiry is merely one into the cost of living in Canberra.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill brought up by Senator Allan MacDonald and read a first time.
.- I move-
That the billbe now read a second time.
Honorable senators will remember that last year the Senate passed a Therapeutic Substances Bill which was designed to give control over the importation of that class of medical preparations commonly kuown as biological preparations. These preparations include antitoxins, sera, vaccines and such extracts as insulin, and similar glandular preparations which are used in the treatment of diseases, both human and animal.
The measure which was passed last year was based largely upon the similar act in force in Great Britain, and in view of the fact that some of these important remedies are imported, it is necessary to maintain a close association with the authorities controlling the manufacture of these substances in the United Kingdom, America and other countries. Subsequent to the passing of the act, the preparation of regulations was put in hand, but it was found that the necessary co-operation with the British authorities was defective by reason of certain minor details. of the act as then passed. The present bill is designed to rectify these defects, to make the co-operation between Australia and other countries effective, and to make possible a better system of administration than was provided for in the act last year.
The principal amendments are contained in clauses 3, 5 and 6 of the bill.
Clause 3 gives a more precise definition of what is included in the term “therapeutic substances “. This is to correct an uncertainty in section 7 of the principal act, which was revealed when the preparation of regulations was undertaken, and additionally, it provides for the inclusion of substances used in the diagnosis as well as in the treatment of humans and animals.
Clause 5 makes provision for the forfeiture of substances which are imported in contravention of the act.
The only other clause to which it seems necessary to call attention is clause 6. Section 11 of the principal act provided that samples should be taken of all substances imported or sought to be exported.- As a result of the co-operation with overseas authorities to which I have already referred, it becomes unnecessary to sample all consignments sent to Australia. Accordingly, it is proposed to amend section 11 so as to empower an officer to take samples, where considered necessary, instead of requiring him to take- samples for analysis as a matter of routine in all importations. This does not mean that some substances will not be examined at all. Examination in Australia will only be dispensed with if there is satisfactory evidence that the substances have been examined or passed by overseas authorities.
It may be mentioned that, in order that the act shall work efficiently, the draft regulations will be made known and principal importers and others consulted before they are brought into effect. A period sufficiently long to permit of adjustments by importers and others will be given before the legal provisions actually operate.
– As we would expect, the statement by the Minister is exactly in accord with the contents of the bill. The Opposition will not delay the passage of the measure. We understand that it is complementary to the bill passed last session, and that for administrative purposes it is essential that the amendments contained in this measure be given effect to.
Bill read a second time and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
SenatorFOLL (Queensland - Minister for Repatriation) [9.6]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill makes provision for the payment of grants to the States of South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania during the financial year 1938-39. The amounts of these grants are those recommended by theCommonwealth GrantsCommission. Honorable senators will find these recommendations in the fifth report of the commission, which was tabled on the 21st September. The proposed grants, compared with those paid during 1937-38, are as follows: -
In bringing forward legislation for the grants which were paid to these States during earlier years the general principles upon which the recommendations of the Commonwealth Grants Commission are based have been ex plained to honorable senators at some length. It is. not proposed, therefore, to give a lengthy disquisition on the principles involved in determining the amounts mentioned in this bill. An account of these is set out in the commission’s fifth report, to which I have already referred.
Some brief reference, however, seems necessary to a few important features which affect the recommendiations of the grants for this year. The attitude generally of the Commonwealth in the past with regard to grants to the States has been that there exists some degree of obligation on the part of the Commonwealth to render financial assistance to the States of South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania by way of compensation f or disabilities due to the effects of federation or the operation of Commonwealth policy. It has, however, been found impracticable to measure the financial effects of federation or federal policy on the States. Moreover, it would be necessary to assess also the value of the advantages accruing from federation and federal policy. Whilst it is not possible to assess these factors, the Grants Commission has given very careful consideration to this aspect, and in earlier reports has expressed the opinion that the necessity for grants tothese States is in no case due to any appreciable extent to the operation of federal policy.
As has been explained in earlier years, the commission has evolved aplan whereby theState grantsare arrived at on the basis of financial needs. The commission recommends grants to bring the claimant States up to what it considers to be a fair Australian standard, which the commission fixes in relation to the financial experience of the non-claimant States, viz., New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.
The commission considers that the grant should be sufficient to enable a State in difficulties tofunction at a standard not appreciably below that of other States. The State is required to make some effort itself in this regard. It will be appreciated that the adoption of a basis such as this, which requires a careful comparison of the budgetary results of the claimant States with those of the non-claimant States, present considerable difficulty; but a perusal of the commission’s fifth report will, I think, convince honorable senators that this comparison has been carried out carefully and equitably.
One difficulty arises from the fact that the accounts of all States are not compiled on a uniform basis. It therefore became necessary for tho commission, aa iu previous years, to make certain adjustments to tho figures in order to place the budgetary results on a comparable basis. Having arrived at the amount required to raise the claimant States to the budgetary standards of the non-claimant States, the commission then proceeded to make certain adjustments which it considered necessary.
In making these adjustments several factors are taken into account, including the relative severity of taxation in the various States, differences in the costs of social services, costs of administration, and other relevant matters.
This year, the commission has introduced a new feature in its work. It considers that, in times of prosperity, a claimant State should take action to improve its financial position which it cannot take in less prosperous years, and it should not incur expenditure which is unjustified or uneconomic. The commission, therefore, examined the finances of the claimant States for the year 1936-37 in the light of the general improvement of economic and financial conditions. In the exercise of its general judgment, it has made a nominal adjustment in each case to draw the attention of the claimant States to their duty in this respect; the items particularly examined being, in the <‘ase of South Australia, the failure to recover debts due to the Crown, and in the case of Western Australia, expenditure of loan moneys oh unreproductive projects. In the case of Tasmania, the commission took cognizance of the fact that the financial position of the railways of that State was steadily growing worse. As there was some evidence of unnecessary expenditure, the commission made a nominal adjustment to draw attention to the urgent necessity for a reduction of railway losses.
The only comments which I desire to make upon these special adjustments are these: the commission was set up as an independent body to investigate the claims of the States for financial assistance. There is ample evidence that the commission has discharged its duty with thoroughness and in a wholly impartial manner. The Government, therefore, feels that it must accept these special adjustments as a bona fide attempt on the part of the commission to ensure that grants of financial assistance to the States shall be based on sound, principles.
I now desire to refer very briefly to the variations in the grants proposed for the current year. Before doing so, however, I remind honorable senators that the basis adopted by the commission renders it necessary for the grants to be assessed by an examination of the budgetary results of the latest year for which complete data is available. In this case, the basic figures are those for the financial year 1936-37.
The grant proposed for South Australia, namely, £1,040,000, is a reduction of £160,000 on the grant recommended and paid last year. This reduction is mainly accounted for by improvement of that State’s finances for the year 1936-37 - the year of comparison, in that year, South Australia had a surplus of £139,000. Regard has also been paid to the fact that the relative burden * of taxation in’ South Australia has decreased.
Whilst the grant recommended for Western Australia, viz., £570,000, is £5,000 less than last year’s grant, actually the normal grant now recommended is an increase on the normal grant paid last year. The normal grant paid in 1937-38 was £439,000, plus a special advance of £136,000 on account of drought, to be adjusted in 1939-40, bringing the total sum to £575,000. The normal grant recommended for this year is £614,000, from which is deducted a special advance of £44,000, made in 1936-37. The normal grant recommended this year is, therefore, in fact, £175,000 greater than the normal grant of last year. This increase is accounted for by the effect of a drought on the State finances in 1936-37, which showed a deficit of £371,000 as compared with a surplus of £S8,000 in 1935-36.
The proposed grant to Tasmania, namely, £410,000, represents a reduction of £165,000 in comparison with the grant paid last year. The principal factor in bringing about this reduction is the lower burden of taxation in that State for the year 1936-37 in relation to the other States. The commission’s report indicates that in 1935-36 and 1936-37 there was a considerable increase of Tasmania’s community income, due to a great improvement in business activity generally. As a consequence, the relative taxable capacity of the State increased very appreciably, and Tasmania’s index of severity of taxation has fallen from 107 to 93, owing mainly to increased taxable capacity, low rates of income tax, low motor taxation and low local government taxation.
Whilst the facts that I have just stated broadly explain the variations of the grants now proposed from those which were paid last year, the fact that, in respect of two States, the grant is reduced to an extent which, perhaps, may not appear to be in accord with the present budgetary trend of those States, calls for further comment. As I have already said, the grants are arrived at by comparison of the results of all States. Consequently, the grants should normally be reduced when the relative budgetary results of the claimant States improve, and should be increased if the relative budgetary results of those. States show some retrogression. As already mentioned, the commission’s calculations are based upon the financial results of the year 1936-37. There is thus what is now generally described as a “time lag” of two years, and, as the commission pointed out in one of its earlier reports, if conditions are changing rapidly in the States concerned, the grant recommended may prove to be in disharmony with the needs of the State for that particular year. However, the error, if any, is not cumulative, and the differences will balance out over a term of years. Some might argue that the conditions which the States are facing this year do not justify any reduction of the grant. The grants recommended, however, are the automatic effect of the application of the commission’s principles based on the results of 1936-37, and it would not be possible to depart from the procedure which has now been followed for four years without to a large extent nullifying the principles which have been laid down by the commission *nd accepted by the Government.
I remind honorable senators that the Government did not hesitate to accept the recommendations of the commission during the last four years. In the first two years of that period, the commission recommended an appreciable increase of the grants, notwithstanding that the States’ finances were then generally improving. Following the same policy, the Government now feels that it is quite reasonable to adopt the recommendations of the commission for reduced grants this year, even though in some quarters it may be felt that the present financial position of the States concerned does not appear to justify such a reduction. It is not reasonable, to form a judgment in regard to these grants on the. basis of one year only. A proper appreciation of the effect of the commission’s recommendations can be obtained only by taking a long-range view. If the grants recommended by the commission over the last five years, including those now proposed, are examined in comparison with the State finances for the same period, it will be agreed that the grants are in accord with the general trend of those finances.
Perhaps I should add’ that the commission’s recommendations are based upon known facts. That is to say, the grants recommended are based upon the actual financial results of the States. The most serious objection to this method is, of course, that the effects of important changes in State finances are not reflected in the grants until two years after. I submit, however, that this objection is far less serious than the objections that would necessarily follow any attempt to assess grants in any year on the basis of the estimated results for that year. As honorable senators will agree, estimates are not always reliable. On the whole, it is much preferable to base grants on actual results.
In conclusion, I refer honorable senators to a table appearing in the commission’s report showing the effect of special grants and advances on the budgetarypositions of the claimant States. As hon- orable senators will see, these figures indicate that the grants have had the effect of restoring the finances of the States concerned to what may fairly be called budgetary equilibrium. This result, reveals, I submit, that the policy of the Commonwealth Government in accepting the recommendations of the Commonwealth Grants Commission has proved very satisfactory to the States concerned. I recommend the bill to the favorable consideration of honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Collings) adjourned.
Senator A. J. McLACHLAN (South
Australia - Postmaster-General) [9.22] . - I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 11 o’clock to-morrow.
I desire to inform honorable senators that it is proposed that the Senate shall not sit on Friday of this week, because the Premiers Conference which will meet on that clay, will have a heavy programme of business, which will require the attendance of several Ministers. The Senate is asked to meet to-morrow at 11 a.m.. and to sit until 6.15 p.m. This arrangement will meet the convenience of Ministers, particularly, and I hope that it will not cause inconvenience to any honorable senator.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
On Thursday, the 13th October, Senator Brown asked me a question, without notice, in regard to the Commonwealth fisheries investigation vessel. I am- now in a position to inform the honorable senator that the vessel was commissioned in May last, and commenced its first experimental cruise during that month. The cruise ended on the 9th June. It covered the coastal waters of Victoria from Port Phillip Bay to Wilson’s Pro*montory; eastern Bass Strait from
Wilson’s Promontory via the Kent Group to Flinders Island; the east coast of Tasmania; and the southern waters of Tasmania as far west as South West Cape. An important object was to test the boat and gear, and the vessel proved to be a good sea boat in the somewhat heavy seas experienced. It was found, however, that a little modification of some of the gear was required for maximum efficiency. During the cruise, fairly large quantities of tuna were encountered in various localities, and it was demonstrated that they could be caught - by means of comparatively inexpensive fishing outfits.
The second part of the first cruise began at Melbourne on the 22nd July, and ended at Sydney on the 19th August. It covered the coastal waters of Victoria from Port Phillip Bay to Wilson’s Promontory; eastern Bass Strait from Wilson’s Promontory via the Kent Group to Flinders Island; the coastal waters of the Furneaux Group; the coastal waters of Victoria from Wilson’s Promontory to Gabo Island, and the coastal waters of New South Wales as far north as Sydney. Tuna were again encountered, and observations were made regarding other fish, such as barracouta, salmon, and anchovies. Some dredging -for shell fish - scallops - was also carried out at times. Once again the vessel provided further evidence of its sea-worthiness. Following the very successful first voyage of the Warreen, when large shoals of tuna were observed in the south-eastern area, it was found that the shoals had taken off. Pending their anticipated return in October a rapid survey of the waters north of Port Hacking, taking in the New South Wales and southern Queensland coasts as far as Hervey Bay, was made in September. This was largely a cruise designed to determine the presence or absence of tuna and pilchards at this season off this extensive section of the coast. Actually it was not anticipated that large shoals would be found, 3ince observations made from the air in July and August of last year indicated only local groups of pilchards. This may, in fact, be a season of migration, when few fish are to be caught.
The vessel travelled approximately 2,000 miles without sighting any shoals which might bc considered of commercial importance, this fact tending to confirm the theory that this is an “ off “ season. Only one fairly large shoal of pilchards was encountered off Coffs Harbour, but small lots of four different types of tuna were noticed all the- way north of Port Stephens, and samples were caught. It is almost certain that larger quantities are to be found at other seasons, and this is a point to be investigated. Meanwhile it is important to note that at least four kinds of tuna - bonito. little tunney, skipjack, and yellow-fin - occur off this coast. A particularly important find is the yellow-fin tuna, which is the backbone of the great Californian industry. Further investigations in the more tropical regions may show that commercially important quantities of this species arc present at certain seasons, and that off Queensland we have a counterpart to the large runs of blue-fin tuna already known to occur in the south-east. The vessel is at the present time engaged in investigations in the south-eastern waters of Tasmania. It is emphasized that the work being undertaken by the vessel is of a fairly long-range character. Movements and distribution of fish must he studied over a period in order to furnish reliable information upon which an industry could be based.
– I desire to refer to a statement which has appeared in the press concerning which certain remarks have been made in and about the precincts of this Parliament. These are to the effect that the Premier of Queensland, the Hon. “William Forgan Smith, made statements concerning individuals in Queensland which, it was said, could not have been made unless the Premier had had access to the income tax returns of those persons. Comments were made regarding the undesirability - and that was not the strongest term used - of a Premier disclosing from confidential returns the condition of anybody’s income. Knowing the Premier of Queensland as I do, I was sure that ho had done nothing of the kind. I took the opportunity at once to make inquiries into the matter, and I found that the Premier had given a categorical denial in. the Queensland Parliament of the charges made. I propose to show how these canards are invented, circulated and emphasized in Parliament by those who have nothing against the Premier of Queensland except that he is a Labour man; they hate him because of that fact. In no State of the Commonwealth, except Queensland, and in no other country, as far as I am aware, could any Premier or any other individual have the right of access to the- income tax returns of individuals; but in Queensland it is possible to do that because of action taken by men who were previously in this National Parliament.
– One of them is a judge now.
– That is true. A few years ago a desire was evinced to pull down a certain Minister in this Parliament when the treasury bench was occupied by the Labour party. Emissaries were sent to Queensland from this Parliament, and, because a tory government was then in office in Queensland, they had a fertile field in which to do their sowing. I shall indicate what was done between 1929 and 1931 when the Moore Government was in office in that State. The following amendment was made, bv regulation, to the Income Tax Act:-“ lt shall bc the duty of every officer and person appointed and employed under the act, or engaged in its ‘ administration, to make prompt, full and faithful answer to anr inquiry by the Treasurer, and when so required by the Treasurer, to furnish him promptly with all documents in thu possession and control of such officer or person relating to the affairs or income of or income tax payable or paid by any person or body, notwithstanding that that information in respect thereof has been in any way acquired by such officer or person or any such document lias come into his possession or control or has been made by him in connexion or in consequence of his employment on official duties under the act.
That regulation was promulgated by a tory government in Queensland, to get at one man in the National Parliament. No charge such as was made last week could have been made against any person in Queensland but for the fact that that regulation is now the law in thatState. No other parliament has ever made it possible for a. Treasurer or any person appointed by him to go to an income tax commissioner and demand the production of any individual’s income tax return.Ido not wish to detain the Senate by citing the Premier’s reply contained in the QueenslandHansard, and accepted by the House, that he did not get the information directly or through tho Treasurer in the manner suggested, but that he obtained it in a legitimate way and without reference to the Income Tax Department or the Taxation Commissioner. Categorical denials are contained in the Queensland Hansard, which reached me only to-day. I think it only fair to take this opportunity to deny such a slander against Labour representatives.
Senator KEANE (Victoria) [9.34’.- 1 again ask the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) if he will endeavour to expedite a reply to certain questions I submitted to him some time ago concerning wireloss broadcasting. On Friday last, he said that when speaking on the Estimates and budget papers he would reply to the points I raised, but, owing to certain criticisms which have been levelled against me by the Melbourne Herald, I should like to know if the Minister can answer my question tomorrow.
. - in reply - It is to be regretted that any parliament saw fit to sanction a regulation such as that cited by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings). Both in the Federal and in the State spheres the private affairs of an individual, as disclosed in income tax returns, have always been regarded as confidential. Tho only statement I have heard was to the effect that the Premier of Queensland has been accused of violating some provision of the Income Tax Act. The honorable senator has explained the position; but I cannot overlook the fact that the party now in power in Queensland has not seen fit to repeal the obnoxious regulation. That seems most unfortunate.
I had prepared some notes on the subject mentioned by Senator Keane, and I proposed to deal with it at some length ; but in order to save time, I may perhaps be permitted to give from memory an answer to the questions which hesubmitted. Two classes of news are broadcast from Daventryto Australia. That received throughReuters is copyright, having been bought and paid for by a group of newspapers in Australia. As it would be impracticable for Daventry to broadcast such news, we were informed to that effect. Daventry has no right to transmit such news to us, and we have no right to broadcast it. It is only fair, however, to inform honorable senators - I am now speaking from memory - that within a few days of being informed of the position that Daventry could not let us have news to broadcast to the Australian public, the organization which had purchased the broadcasting rights offered the contents of the messages to the Postal Department. I do not think that it is dignified for Australia to accept gifts from any organization, and as we were getting from other sources what, was required by the people, I informed the Deputy Director of Posts and Telegraphs that we had no desire to avail ourselves of the proferred service. The honorable senator was so rude as to say that I had given an impudent answer to his questions.
– I accused the responsible officer.
– If that is so, the honorable senator has been misreported. The information which he gave fairly demonstrates the fact that he knew that this copyright exists, and that he was having a “ go “ at the press. The news was offered voluntarily to the Government; but the Government, in declining the offer, said that it was able to make its own arrangements. There are other considerations which I am not at liberty to discuss, but which would answer the points raised by the honorable- senator. He may have noticed that at the recent Cairo Convention provision was made to send cable messages to broadcasting bodies at press rates, and the Australian Broadcasting Commission will see that full advantage is taken of that provision immediately it becomes effective so that we shall not be under any obligation in respect of nows. While Daventry was quite willing to broadcast everything that was available it was the duty of the Government, owingto the legal difficulty in respect of copyright, to act as it did.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. The PostmasterGeneral (Senator A. J. McLachlan) did not put the position accurately when he stated that I had said that his reply was impudent. I said that the whole reply was impudent, and I reminded him that although there were once 33 Government supporters in this chamber and only three honorable senators in the Opposition, there are now only nineteen Government supporters and sixteen in Opposition. Had the Minister, following my remarks, given the information which he has now disclosed, it would have been decidedly helpful to me. I said that news was coming over the air and that the associated newspapers wished to suppress it because it was interfering with the sale of their newspapers.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Papua Act - Ordinances of 1938 -
No. 10 - Appropriation 1938-1939.
No. 11 - Prisons.
No. 12 - Superannuation.
Tariff Board - Report and Recommendation - Radiator Assemblies for Motor Vehicle Chassis.
Australian Imperial Force Canteens Funds Act - Eighteenth Annual Report, for the year ended 30th June, 1938.
Senate adjourned at9.42 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 19 October 1938, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1938/19381019_senate_15_157/>.