16th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator theHon.J. B. Hayes) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– For the purpose of assisting the lamb and pork export trade, does the Government intend to provide additional cold storage in the States concerned, in order to maintain supplies until increased overseas shipping space becomes available?
– The subject of extending the presentcold storage facilities in all of the States is under consideration, and considerable progress has been made in that direction.
Having regard to the importance of tobacco-growing and manufacturing in Western Australia, and the importance of the Commonwealth effort towards the conservation of dollar exchange, will the Minister assisting the Minister for Trade and Customs reconsider the personnel of the newly formed Tobacco Board, and urge the appointment to that body of a direct representative of the Western Australian growers and manufacturers?
– I realize the growing importance of the tobacco industry in Western Australia, and I shall have a consultation with the Minister for Trade and Customs to see if anything can be done along the lines suggested by the honorable senator.
– Will the Minister assisting the Minister for Repatriation inform the Senate what percentage of men returned from overseas for discharge have been placed in employment by the Repatriation Department? While awaiting appointment do these men receive any allowance or other consideration?
– I recently made a statement in regard to this matter, and a report of my remarks appeared in the press. Up to the end of April, 411 discharged returned soldiers had registered for employment in the different branch offices of the Repatriation Commission, and at that date all had been placed in employment with the exception of 51. Since the inception of the scheme for assisting these men, the sum of £3,146 has been paid by way of sustenance to them whilst awaiting suitable employment. This measure of assistance, as honorable senators will be aware, is extended to men discharged after service abroad with satisfactory service records, and the measure of sustenance ranges from £2 2s. a week, in the case of single men, to £4 2s. 6d. a week for a man with a wife and three or more dependent children. In addition, the commission may provide up to £10 for the purchase of tools of trade by way of gift, and in special cases the commission may advance an additional amount up to £40 by way of loan for the same purpose. It is considered that the great majority of men who have been placed in employment will continue in their positions either permanently or for lengthy periods, subject, of course, to the usual percentage of changes common to the particular occupations in which they have been placed; but, as far as practicable, every endeavour has been made to secure for these men classes of employment which will afford every opportunity of permanency. The commission is to be highly commended for the enthusiasm it has displayed in this branch of its work. It desires to secure suitable employment for these ex-soldiers with a minimum of delay, and to this end the Deputy Commissioners report that considerable success has resulted from personal interviews with the men themselves. With the encouragement held out to them, they look upon the commission and its officers, in all of the States, as genuinely desirous of doing everything possible to enable them to take up the threads of their normal civil lives. By far the largest number of men has been registered in the New South Wales branch of the commission, where 235 had registered at the end of April, and only 27 were then awaiting employment. In Victoria 169 men had registered, and all had been placed in employment except eighteen. Honorable senators will realize that, for various reasons, it is not easy to place certain individuals in employment. Generally, however, the position is satisfactory.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services aware that under the law it is a mathematical impossibility for child endowment to be drawn on account of any child up to the age of sixteen years, except in respect of twins, triplets, quadruplets or quintuplets?
– ‘Child endowment payments will not be made only in respect of twins, triplets, quadruplets or quintuplets ; payment at the rate of 5s. a week will be made in respect of every child in a family, except the first, which is under the age of sixteen years.
– In the event of the Government deciding to construct a motor road from Port Augusta in South Australia to Norseman in Western Australia, will the Minister for the Interior consider starting work at both ends simultaneously? I refer particularly to the country between Norseman and Balladonia, which is of great importance to Western Australia.
– I shall bring the question of the honorable senator under the notice of my colleague, the Minister for the Army.
– Has the Minister for Information any information in respect to Nazi No. 3, Herr Hess, other than what has already been published in the press?
– I have no other information to give to honorable senators.
SenatorFOLL (Queensland - Minister for Information). - by leave - Last night, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan), in a speech which he delivered in the House of Representatives, referred to a number of articles which had appeared recently in Smith’s Weekly in connexion with the export of lead from Mount Isa in Queensland.
– The reason I now refer to this matter is that the honorable member made a serious statement in connexion with certain transactions between the Department of Information and the proprietors of Smith’s Weekly. At the outset, I wish to make it clear that the whole of the output of lead from the mine at Mount Isa has been at the disposal of the British Government since soon after the outbreak of war. None of the lead from that mine has been sent to Japan.
– Have any Japanese vessels loaded lead at Townsville?
– No. The only product of the Mount Isa mine which has been sent to J apan is a shipment of about 1,500 tons of zinc concentrates each month.
– That is one of the matters to which the honorable member for Reid referred in his speech last night.
– Those shipments are made under an arrangement with the British Ministry of Supply. I rose more particularly to refer to the following statement in the speech: -
By action through the Department of Information, Senator Foll attempted to “blanket” the press by causing a certain censorship instruction to be issued. He also, I understand, sought practically to bribe the newspaper. The Department of Information causes advertisements to be published in the press from time to time at the expense of taxpayers, and certain advertisements were sent to this newspaper, which was asked to publish them’ at a price.
To-day, I received the following letter from Sir Victor Wilson, who is chairman of National Press Proprietary Limited, which controls Smith’s Weekly, and who once was a member of the Senate: -
This morning I had brought under my notice a statement made by a member of the House of Representatives with regard to the activities of your department with Smith’s Weekly.
As chairman of the National Press Proprietary Limited, who control the publication of Smith’s Weekly, I was astonished that the word “ bribe “ had been used in relation to any transactions or interviews that had taken place between the Department of Information and Smith’s Weekly.
This paper is quite capable of taking care of itself and the member who made the speech had no authority whatsoever from this paper to make any such statement and neither is such statement true.
Any transactions in relation to advertising between the Controller of Government Advertising and the representatives of Smith’s Weekly had been carried out in accordance with ordinary business methods and at ordinary commercial rates.
I regret this term has been used andI think it is most unfortunate.
The advertising section of the Department of Information is under the control of Mr. Hutcheson, who was appointed some time ago to consolidate all government advertising in Australia. Mr. Hutcheson’s appointment was discussed and approved by not only the Government, but also the War Advisory Council. In the conduct of his duties he has been able to adopt tried business methods.
-Where did Mr. Hutcheson come from?
– His services were made available by Lever Brothers Proprietary Limited to the Commonwealth Government without cost for the duration of the war. In releasing this highly capable officer in these circumstances, Lever Brothers Proprietary Limited have shown a very commendable spirit.
– Lever Brothers Proprietary Limited continue to pay his salary?
– Yes. Mr. Hutcheson gives his services to his country in exactly the same way as do a number of other prominent men engaged in munitions production. Mr. Hutcheson has been entrusted with the control of advertising and publicizing war loan activities, recruiting for the Royal Australian Air Force, the Australian Imperial Force and the Royal Australian Navy, and the war savings certificates campaign. In addition, he controls advertising for government commercial enterprises, such as the Apple and Pear Board. By consolidating the whole of the advertising work of the departments under the Controller of Government Advertising, we have been able to secure from publishers what are known as master contract rates, which are very much lower than ordinary advertising rates. In this way considerable savings have been effected.
– What is the total cost of Commonwealth advertising this vear?
– I have not the information before me, but I should say that it would amount to approximately £200,000.
– There is a schedule rate.
– Yes. In some cases the schedule rate is only three-quarters of the casual rate.
– Would the lower payment restrict the quantity of editorial space given to governmental activities?
– That does not enter into it at all. The Government would not be justified in loading all advertising rates because of some other advantage it might get. The decision to place the control of advertising under one authority ensures that the Government pays no more for its advertising than would be paid by private companies which conduct large advertising campaigns. I make this personal explanation to correct any misunderstanding that might arise as the result of the statements made in the House of Representatives last night by the honorable member for Reid.
– In view of the reduction of the wholesale price of lamb by approximately Ss. a’ carcass, will the Minister assisting the Minister for Trade and. Customs request the Prices Commissioner to undertake a further review of the retail price of lamb ? The retail price was recently fixed at a figure which represented a reduction of only ½d. per lb., or approximately ls. 10-Jd. a carcass.
– The price of meat is constantly under review by the Prices Commissioner. Only yesterday the prices of certain cuts of beef and lamb wore fixed at a figure which represented a considerable reduction of the prices formerly charged. I can assure the honorable senator that if there be a further reduction of the wholesale price of lamb, the Prices Commissioner will immediately take action to ensure that the consuming public gets the benefit.
– There has been a reduction of the wholesale price of 8s., but the reduction of the retail price amounted to only ls. 10½d
– Within the last two days the Prices Commissioner fixed the price of lamb. As the honorable senator knows, lamb prices vary greatly from week to week, largely on account of matters beyond the control of any price-fixing authority. I can assure the honorable senator that the Prices Commissioner has his eye on the whole question of meat prices and will see that no exorbitant charges are made.
– I have asked that the Prices Commissioner be requested to undertake a further review of the price of lamb. The Assistant Minister has not answered my question.
– The Assistant Minister has answered the honorable senator’s question.
– As I simply asked the Assistant Minister whether he would take steps to have the price of lamb reviewed by the Prices Commissioner, his reply is not only unsatisfactory but also, if I may say so, evasive.
– An honorable senator has the right to ask a question, but he must accept the Minister’s reply.
– Will the Assistant Minister endeavour to have the wholesale price of lamb increased in order to bring it into conformity with the present retail price of lamb?
– If the honorable senator asks that question seriously, I can only reply that the Prices Commissioner has endeavoured to fix retail prices in conformity with wholesale prices. However, should any inconsistency be found to exist between the retail and the wholesale prices of lamb, I shall ask the Prices Commissioner to look into the matter again.
– Will the Leader of the Senate supply the names of the members of the Commonwealth Government who are directors of companies and manufacturing concerns contracting with the Government for the supply of raw materials ?
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes). - I have received the following letter from the First Federal Members Association dated the 9th May, 1941, which it is suggested I should read to the Senate : -
This day, the 9th May, 1941, the undermentioned members of the First Federal Parliament of Australia met to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the initial meeting of that Parliament.
From the First Senate. - The Hon. W. G. Higgs. the Hon. Hugh de Largie and theRight Hon. Sir George Pearce.
From the House of Representatives. - The Hon. James Hume-Cook, the Right Hon. Sir Isaac Isaacs, and the Hon. J. B.Ronald.
In accordance with the desire of those named, we, the undersigned, tender greetings and good wishes to the members of the Sixteenth Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia. We have also the honour to state that the following resolution was unanimously approved, and the request made that a copy be sent to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives: -
That we members of the First Federal Parliament here assembled -
– I ask the Min ister for Munitions whether it is the policy of his department to encourage decentralization in the building of new munition factories? Will he take into consideration the suitability of the district of Redbank, near Brisbane, for this purpose?
– The answer to the first part of the honorable senator’s question is “ Yes “ ; and in respect of the latter part, I shall give consideration to the claims of the district he has mentioned.
– I ask the Leader of the Senate whether the Government will consider cancelling all contracts under which private enterprise pays the wages of men employed in the Commonwealth Public Service, and itself pay these wages ? Does the Government consider it right and proper that men doing Commonwealth Government work should be paid by private business interests?
– I shall bring the honorable senator’s question under the notice of the Prime Minister.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice-
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answers . -
SenatorFRASER asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answer : - 1 and 2. The arrangement provides that, in May of each year, either Government may seek a review of the conditions governing the acquirement of the wool. It is hoped, however, that the United Kingdom Government will be prepared to continue the arrangement in its present form.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answers: -
Motion (by Senator McLeay) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Wednesday, the 25th June next, at 3 p.m., unless the President shall, prior to that date, by telegram or letter addressed? to each senator, fix an earlier day of meeting.
Lease of Offices in London Stores Building, Melbourne - Collie Power-house - Child Endowment.
– In moving
That the Senate do now adjourn -
I intimate to honorable senators that they are invited to attend a meeting of senators and members in the House of Representatives forthwith.
– I bring under the notice of the Senate the position that has arisen with regard to the proposed leasing by the Government of offices in the premises of London Stores Limited at the corner of Bourke and Elizabeth streets, Melbourne.
– I rise to a point of order. Several questions have been addressed to the Treasurer on this matter, and he has promised to supply all the information regarding it. Would the honorable senator be in order in further discussing the matter at this stage ?
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes). - On the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, a senator may discuss matters not relevant to the motion.
– On the 30th April, approximately 80 tenants in the premises of London Stores Limited received notices to quit. They occupied the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth floors of the building, and they were required to quit by the 30th May. It was stated in the notice received by them that their premises were required by the Commonwealth Taxation Department. The circumstances in which this notice to quit has been given are such that great injustice will be done to the tenants. Many of them are conducting small businesses which they have spent years in building up, and, in the event of their being forced to leave the premises, they will in all probability never be able to rehabilitate themselves. Among the businesses concerned are those of a chiropodist, a hairdresser, a dressmaker, a teacher of music, and an office cleaner. If no other suitable premises were available for the Taxation Department, there would be some justification for the action of the Government, which, I recognize, must have space for the accommodation of its departments; but other premises are available in Melbourne, and I suggest that they are more suitable, and are available at cheaper rentals than the offices proposed to be taken. I understand that the Government proposes to pay £12,000 a year as rent to London Stores Limited and to expend £12,500 in bringing about necessary structural alterations to the premises. Among other premises available are those of Advanx Automotive Industries. The following offer, dated the 13th May, 1941, has been forwarded to the Government : - 125 William-street, Melbourne, C.l, Vic., Aust.
I hereby offer a lease to the Commonwealth Government on my building known as Advanx Automotive Industries, No. 175 Queen street, Melbourne.
The building is situate one block from the General Post Office, Elizabeth street, Melbourne, and about fifty yards front Bourke street.
It is a modern, reinforced, concrete structure with five floors and a total floor space of 40,000 to 50,000 square feet. While it is at present used as a filling station, I have, in my possession, plans for its conversion to offices and would be pleased to let you see such plans. I should be glad to discuss details with you immediately to formally offer you a lease as follows: -
Yours faithfully, (Signed)R. S. Falkiner.
It is hard to justify the action of the Government in the light of that offer.
One of the most modern buildings in Melbourne, situated at 125 Swanstonstreet, could be leased by the Government. This is Century Building, which is eleven storeys high. It was erected only twelve months ago, is air-conditioned, and has two large passenger lifts, and 42,190 square feet of floor space. Within two days three floors could be made available, providing 12,000 feet of floor space, and from then onwards additional space could be provided, and the whole of the space could be made available by the 15th July next. The rent of these premises would be £14,263 10s. per annum. Ever since its erection, this building has been used for the administrative offices of the Royal Australian Air Force, which has a staff of about 800 persons. In my opinion the building is entirely suitable for the Taxation Department. If it were taken by that department no additional expense need be incurred for alterations.
– Is it stated officially that that building is available?
– I was in communication with the secretary of the defence committee, Mr. L. K. Allan, representing the tenants of London Stores Limited, who had arranged to send to me an official intimation regarding Century Building, but, unfortunately, his letter missed the post and I shall not receive it until to-morrow. However, I telephoned to him and he furnished me with the particulars that I have given to the Senate. He states definitely that Century Building is available. At a deputation which waited on the Minister for the Interior (Senator Foll), consisting of Senator Keane, representatives of the tenants, the secretary of the defence committee, Mr. L. K. Allan and myself, I understood the Minister to say that those premises would be suitable.
– My information at that time was that they were to be taken by the Department of Munitions immediately they were vacated by the Royal Australian Air Force.
– Apparently that is not correct. Mr. Allan has assured me that the solicitors representing the proprietors of Century Building are now prepared to allow the Government to have it for the use of the Taxation Department. I submit that the Government should not cause 80 tenants to have to leave their present premises in the building of London Stores Limited, because, in many cases, they would never be able to recover their businesses, even if other suitable premises could be obtained. In my opinion, Century Building is quite suitable for the purposes of the Taxation Department.
– What about Craig, Williamson’s building?
– The Minister has stated that his officers have reported that it is not suitable for the purposes of the Government. One of the many businesses conducted on the premises of
London Stores Limited is that of a chiropodist, where the equipment is worth up to £500, and it would be of no use elsewhere. If the owner of the business desired to take a room in another building the first question put to the owner would be “ What business do you follow ? “ and, when the owner gave its nature, the answer, no doubt, would be, “ We already have one chiropodist in the building, and we cannot let a room to you “, If she could not get a room elsewhere her equipment would be practically useless, and in the meantime she would lose her clients. Practically every tenant would be affected similarly to a greater or lesser degree. What does the Government expect to gain by adopting a policy of this kind? The yearly rental received by London Stores Limited is £8,458, and tho rent proposed to be paid by the Government represents a clear increase over that of from £2,500 to £3,000 a year. The manager of London Stores Limited, in a letter addressed to the tenants, stated, inter alia -
The Commonwealth wants the premises, and we feel that we must do our hit and co-operate with them as much as possible. “ Do our bit “ apparently means “ provide another £2,500 or £3,000 a year for the company “. The letter proceeds -
We feel sure you will agree’ that it is everyone’s duty to co-operate with the Government in its war effort. The sacrifice we are now asked to make is a small one. but it is quite obvious that if we had refused to do so the premises would have been requisitioned and you and ourselves would probably have been worse off.
The emphasis is put on the word “sacrifice “.
– That is all imagination.
– I am glad to hear the Minister’s statement, for the suggestion had been made to me that the management was threatened that unless it agreed to lease the premises the Government would take possession of them.
– That is quite untrue. No threat was made at all.
– The letter from which I have quoted is signed by the joint managing director. It appears to me that in this connexion the company cannot be said to be “ doing its bit,” but undoubtedly it is taking action to compel about 80 desirable citizens of Melbourne to make a quite unnecessary sacrifice. Many of these people have relatives abroad serving in our forces, and they are certainly doing their bit to help in the national war effort. Their feelings can therefore be well imagined when they found that the Government was taking action of this description.
The deputation which waited on the Minister was told by him that the matter was one between London Stores Limited and its tenants and not between the Government and the tenants. That, of course, is a pure quibble. If the Government had not taken action to obtain a lease of these premises the tenants would not have been given notice to quit.
– That may be true, but, at the same time, the risk was always there.
– I shall deal with that point. In effect the Minister said to the deputation, “Ladies and gentlemen, you should have safeguarded yourselves by securing a lease of the premises “. Some of them did; but I ask whether it is reasonable to expect struggling business people, as some of these individuals are, to lease their premises for any lengthy period, when they do not know, from month to month, what their business returns will be? The operations of a number of these people are more or less speculative. The Minister might just as well have told working people in more or less intermittent employment that they should lease the cottages in which they lived. Many workers who do not know how long their jobs will last cannot possibly lease property with any certainty. Most of these tenants are in the same position.
Several meetings of the tenants have been held and Senator Keane, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) and I have addressed them at various times. We have advised them to exhaust their. legal rights. I understand that the matter is to be argued in the Practice Court on Tuesday next, but I earnestly appeal to the Government not to lease these premises. It is not necessary for it to do so, for other suitable premises could be obtained at a lower cost and without calling upon the tenants in the London Stores building to make an unnecessary sacrifice. If the Government takes over the building as proposed, a good many of the tenants will undergo severe hardship. I admit that the Minister has said that the Government is prepared to consider sympathetically any claims by these tenants for compensation, but it is impracticable to compensate some of these people to the degree that would be necessary to really meet their needs. Even if compensation is granted in connexion with the removal of machinery, it will not go very far. No compensation will be payable in respect of the ]088 of goodwill of a business. Unfortunately, the , business that is so lost by these small traders may go to the Myer Emporium Limited or to some other big business concern. I emphasize that it is quite unnecessary to call upon these people to make the big sacrifice that will be involved in the loss of their business premises, and I urge the Government to reconsider the whole proposal on its merits, particularly in view of the fact that accommodation is available in the Century Building.
– I wish to emphasize the need for placing a guard at the Collie power-house. I should not have occupied time to discuss this matter at this stage except for the fact that the Senate is to adjourn this afternoon for several weeks. The Collie power-house is of considerable importance in Western Australia. Collie coal is transported all over that State, and if anything happened to the power-house production from the mine would have to cease, for no light would be available for mining operations. The mines would automatically be plunged into darkness. If that condition continued for some days the mines might be filled with water, and it might be impossible to put them into production again for years. That is the case from the point of view of Collie itself. But there is another aspect- of the subject which may be of even greater importance. Collie coal is used in very many parts of Western Australia, including Perth. It is the source from which power is obtained for many manufacturing and public utility operations throughout the State. If this source of supply were stopped operations in many parts of Western Australia would be seriously impeded. Collie coal keeps in operation not only the power-house of Collie itself but also power-houses elsewhere. Collie coal is necessary for the maintenance of the pumping station to pump water to Kalgoorlie and also for other pumping stations elsewhere. It is hard to imagine anything worse happening in Western Australia than for the supply of Collie coal to be stopped. There was a guard over the power-house from September, 1939, to February, 1940, and we do not know why it was removed. I was at Collie a week or so ago and the people there are extremely concerned about the present position. I therefore urge the Government to take prompt action to meet the situation.
– I shall bring the request of Senator Clothier concerning the Collie power-house under the notice of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender).
As to the proposed occupation of the London Stores building in Melbourne by the taxation authorities, I have, as Senator Cameron has said, already received a deputation. I have also had a certain amount of correspondence on the subject. The negotiations were conducted in the first place by the property officer of the Taxation Department with London Stores Limited. When the matter was first brought to my notice and I was asked to attend a meeting of tenants in Melbourne, I knew hardly anything about the transaction. I have since ascertained, however, that on account of the extension of the operations of the Taxation Department due to war exigencies, and the introduction of the pay-roll tax, additional accommodation became essential. A proposal to add a temporary floor on a section of the General Post Office in Elizabethstreet, Melbourne, to meet the requirements was found to be impracticable and had to be abandoned. The department was therefore compelled to look elsewhere for space, and it met with great difficulty in finding any that was suitable. London Stores Limited found itself able to offer the Government the lease of six floors of its building, and arrangements have been made to enter into occupation as from the 1st June. Practically all of the tenancies affected are of a weekly or monthly nature, and, having regard to the limited space each tenant is occupying, no insuperable difficulties should be experienced in the tenants finding other suitable accommodation. A substantial number of the tenants has already moved out of the building or made arrangements to do so. I believe that 50 out of the 70 affected have already vacated their premises. The honorable senator suggested that the Advanx building in Queen-street would be suitable for occupation by the Taxation Department. That building was specially constructed for garage premises. It has been roundly condemned by the Works Department as totally unsuitable for office accommodation for it lacks lifts, lighting and conveniences. The Government is not prepared at present to erect additional offices in Melbourne, but, in any case, the urgency of the need for accommodation to meet immediate taxation requirements is such that it will not permit of delay while a new building can be constructed. All sections of the community must realize that during the war the demands of the Government in various directions call for some re-adjustment and citizens should be prepared at this time to subordinate their convenience to the paramount needs of the Government. I have given an instruction to the property officer of my department in Melbourne to look into any complaints that tenants may have, in order to decide whether some compensation should be paid by the Government in respect of reasonable removal expenses, especially in instances where machinery has to be dismantled and installed elsewhere.
Immediately after the honorable senator introduced to me the deputation to which I have referred, I submitted the matter to the War Cabinet, which happened to be sitting that day, and it was agreed that favorable consideration and reasonable compensation should be given in hardship cases, particularly where machinery had to be removed. The honorable senator made some reference to rental charges. I have obtained some information respecting the amounts that are to be paid. Senator Cameron stated that an amount of £12,000 would be necessary to meet the cost of structural alterations. I am advised - and I accept the advice of my officers - that the total amount that will need to be expended by the Commonwealth Government to make these six floors suitable for occupation by the Taxation Department will be £6,500. It is not possible to compare, in any exact way, the rent that has been paid by the tenants in this building with that which will be paid by the Commonwealth, for the Commonwealth is taking over an extra floor. London Stores Limited has vacated its own workshop on the top floor in order to make the space available to the Government. I am also advised that the statement that the Commonwealth Government will be paying a higher rent than that paid by the tenants is also incorrect. The rental paid by the tenants for an area of 38,085 square feet is at the rate of 4s. 7¼d. a square foot without cleaning. If cleaning be included the rental would be increased to 5s. 7¼d. a square foot. A charge of ls. a square foot is generally recognized in Melbourne for office cleaning. The rental to be paid by the Commonwealth for an area of 45,010 square feet is at the rate of 5s. 5id. a square foot, which includes passages which are being taken over as office space and also cleaning costs. The Government therefore will be paying l£d. a square foot less than the tenants were paying.
– The total payable by the Commonwealth will exceed the total that has been paid by the tenants.
– This is because the Government is taking over an extra floor. Until the honorable senator mentioned the matter this afternoon, I had no idea that Century Building was available. Before the deputation of tenants waited on me, I had raised the question as to the availability of the building for use by the Taxation Department, because I knew that the Air Force authorities were leaving that building in order to occupy their own premises at Victoria Barracks. 1 shall make some further inquiries regarding Century Building and should I find that I have been wrongly informed there will be trouble. I discussed with Mr. Jackson, the Commissioner of Taxation, the possibility of using that building, and he said that it was not entirely suitable for the needs of his depart ment. I was told definitely that it had been allocated for use in connexion with munitions.
– Assuming that Century Building is available what will be the attitude of the Government ?
– I cannot say offhand, because this matter is already well advanced. To-day, I have taken two steps in regard to it; I have ordered fresh inquiries to be made in order to ascertain whether Century Building is available, and I have asked the chairman of the Valuation Board in Melbourne to supply me with an independent valuation and a report on the price that London Stores Limited propose to charge the Government for their building. The valuation already received was made by the Taxation Department’s valuer and by my department’s property officer in Melbourne. The valuation for which I have asked will be a further check. I hope to have information on the subject later this afternoon, but at this stage I cannot say whether or not there will be any alteration of the arrangements. The transaction has practically been completed, and the Taxation Department desires to become established in suitable quarters as quickly as possible. Like the honorable senator, I deplore the necessity for disturbing the tenants of the London Stores Building. Some of them are particularly unfortunate in that they have installed expensive machinery without taking steps to protect themselves by means of leases. Others, who took the precaution to obtain leases, will have to be given adequate compensation for the termination of those leases.
– This afternoon I asked a question in relation to child endowment, and if the reply of the Assistant Minister (Senator Leckie) was right, then the department administering the scheme is wrong. I asked whether it was not a mathematical impossibility for child endowment to be paid on account of children up to the age of sixteen, except in respect of twins, triplets, quadruplets or quintuplets. I have in mind a family in which there are three children aged 15, 10 and 5 years respectively. When the first child reaches the age of sixteen, the second child will be eleven years of age. It then becomes the first child, and no further payment will be made in respect of it. That is to say, no endowment will be paid in respect of that child after it reaches the age of eleven years. If my reasoning be correct, child endowment will not be paid on account of any child up to the age of sixteen years except, as I have said, in the case of multiple births. After the Assistant Minister had replied to my question this afternoon, I rang the department and was informed that my interpretation of the scheme was correct. Many members of Parliament areof the same opinion as is the Assistant Minister.
– When a child becomes the first child, no payment will be made in respect of it.
– Throughout the country there is a totally wrong impression regarding the child endowment scheme ; thousands of people believe that child endowment will be paid until each child in a family, except the first, reaches the age of sixteen years. The form of claim for child endowment gives certain information for the guidance of claimants. Clause 7 states -
Endowmentis not payable in respect of any child for any period after -
the child reaches the age of sixteen years.
There are two interpretations of the scheme. A friend of mine, Mr. Ben Taylor, has prepared a table showing what would be paid in respect of his children under the different interpretations. Mr. Taylor says that if endowment be not paid in respect of all children over sixteen years of age, it should be paid in respect of all children up to sixteen years of age. The table, which I have his permission to use as I wish, is as follows: -
I ask the Minister to give to this matter his earnest attention.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
National Security Act - National Security (Rabbit Skins) Regulations- NoticeSuspension of Regulations.
Nauru - Ordinance No.1 of 1941 - . Cemeteries.
Air Force Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, Nos.68, 106.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
No.6 of 1941 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia.
No. 2 - (Medical Benefits and Hospitals Ordinance).
No. 3 - (Medical Benefits Tax Ordinance).
No.5 - (Aboriginals Ordinance).
Quarantine Act- Regulations - Statutory
Rules 1941, No. 83.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinance No. 3 of 1941- Scaffolding and Lifts.
Superannuation Act - Eighteenth Annual Report of the Superannuation Board, for year 1939-40.
Wine Grapes Charges Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, No. 101.
Senate adjourned at 4.28 p.m. till Wednesday, the 25th June next, at 3 p.m., unless the President shall, prior to that date, by telegram or letter addressed to each senator, fix an earlier day of meeting.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 May 1941, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1941/19410529_senate_16_167/>.