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Thursday, 28 June 1906


Mr SPEAKER - In the Standing Orders there is nothing to prevent discussion up to that point when a motion to adopt the report of the Royal Commission has been placed upon the notice-paper. That would, of course, preclude any reference to the subject-matter of the report, but until that stage is reached there is no reason why it should not be debated in the way in which the honorable member for Parramatta is doing.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member for Coolgardie does not appear to be aware of the fact that this is grievance day. He sits there like a Rip Van Winkle, and does not appear to be aware of what is going on in these modern days.


Sir William Lyne - But what is the honorable member grieved about now ?


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am grieved at the waste of public money in the investigation of proposals which cannot be carried out. I hope that that is a fair matter for complaint. We are told by the Prime Minister, the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, and the leader of the Labour Party, that there is no power in the Constitution to nationalize these industries. It is one of the complaints to-day of the leader of the Labour Party that he cannot get the Prime Minister to say whether he will help them to get the power to nationalize one or two of these monopolies.


Mr Mahon - Did the Prime Minister ever say that the Commonwealth could not carry its own mails?


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - He has said that there is no power in the Constitution to nationalize this industrial enterprise.


Mr Mahon - Did he ever say that we could not carry our own mails, and make provision -for doing so?


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member had better ask him.


Mr Spence - The leader of the Labour Party has not made the statement which the honorable member is attributing to him.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The leader of the Labour Party did, at Crow's Nest, as I quoted the other night.


Sir William Lyne - I remember he said that the honorable member did not quote it all.


Mr Spence - The honorable member is dependent upon newspaper reports for all his statements.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes, and it appears that I cannot now rely upon theWorker. According to the leader of the Labour Party, even the Worker cribs its reports from the capitalistic press. I believethat the honorable member is chairman of the board of management of the Worker, and' heard the statement of his leader that they do not fret reports of their own, and pay for them as thev should do, but get them from the capitalistic press for " nix."" The honorable member ought to look into that matter. In his speech ,at North

Sydney the other night, the honorable member for Bland challenged the Prime Minister to say what he was going to do about the land tax, and, moreover, he referred to the Prime Minister's statement that we had not the constitutional power to nationalize these industries. Here is the quotation I made the other night, and which I suppose I had better give, because it seems to be quite a rule with honorable members belonging to a. certain party now to dispute or deny anything which is quoted.


Mr Spence - But what the honorable member is about to quote is only a newspaper report.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If there is a conspiracy in the press to misreport them. I cannot help it. But it is a great pity that they do not correct the reports which so misrepresent them upon these vital matters.


Sir William Lyne - If I were to do that I could do nothing else.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - At any rate, here is the statement, and I do not know yet that it has been repudiated by the leader of the Labour Party. If the honorable gentleman wishes to repudiate this again I have no more to say. Speaking at Crow's Nest, he said -

Mr. Deakin'sprogramme at present was in a state of transition, if, indeed, it existed at all. That being so, the Labour Party had a right to be informed as to Mr. Deakin's intentions before it entered into any agreement. The. party had had no clear statement on this matter from Mr. Deakin. Mr. Deakin had declared that the question of Socialism was one for the States, and that before the Federal Parliament could deal with it there would have to be an alteration in the Constitution. Under those circumstances it was fair to ask Mr. Deakin whether he would alter the Constitution in order to make it possible to nationalize one or more existing monopolies.

Is that clear enough for the honorable member ?


Mr Spence - It is not Mr. Watson's statement that it could not be done under the Constitution.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is the statement of the honorable member for Bland. It is one that was quoted the other day in the House, and the honorable gentleman did not deny it. I may fairly take it to be his view, in the absence of any denial to the contrary. Would the honorable member for Darling be prepared to repudiate that book, which he wrote a little while ago. containing his ideas and definitions of Socialism ? Now that the official organ of the party has1 repudiated the honorable member's praiseworthy method of communicating through its pages, perhaps he will repudiate his own book next? In the meantime, I must try and interpret the views of these honorable members. I wish to do them no injustice in this matter. All that I am doing, and it seems to be the cause of the whole trouble, is to try to quote what they say. The moment one begins to quote them it appears as though one insulted them. I do not know why they should get up in protest in this way.


Mr Mahon - I quoted some of the honorable member's letters some time ago that did not seem to please him.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Not at all.


Mr Mahon - I quoted some declarations the honorable gentleman had made.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable gentleman may quote what he pleases about me. So long as there is no misrepresentation, I think that honorable members should be glad rather than otherwise that I am helping them to propagate their views in the same way that they do themselves, When the present Prime Minister was AttorneyGeneral he declared in a reasoned judgment that there was no power in the Constitution to nationalize these industries. "Well," says the Labour Party, "you must have the Constitution altered!" What I complain of is that the Government should set up these socialistic Commissions, knowing beforehand how they are going to report, not from any corrupt motive, but knowing that they are setting out to make a case for Socialism. I say that when you set out to make a case for anything you can go a long way towards finding "the means to do it. I heard a man, say the other night that those who lived on grievances acquired finally the happy knack of manufacturing them. So when you set out to make a case for Socialism you go a long way along the track towards finding the means with which to do it. Accordingly, as was predicted when this Commission began its inquiry, it has reported in favour of nationalizing the mail services to and from Australia. I say again, and I do them no injustice that I know of, when I make the statement, that it was a foregone conclusion as to what the nature and character of their report would be. That was our whole complaint at the time the constitution of the Select Committee was debated here. We objected to its personnel. I was at first in favour of the appointment of that Committee, but when I heard from the mouth of the leader of the Labour Party that they were only going to pursue their inquiry in order to make a case for Socialism, the matter assumed a very different aspect. While ordinarily a Royal Commission reports first of all to the Governor-General, it seems that the Chairman of the Shipping Commission reports first to the public newspapers, and we read this morning that the Commission have arrived at a report recommending a scheme for nationalization, and that that report will be signed so soon as word can be received from the only two members of the Commission who do not favour this proposal of nationalization.


Mr Spence - The honorable member seems to know more than do the members of the Commission. I am a member of the Commission, and I do not know that the members referred to are not in favour of the proposal.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am telling the honorable member-


Mr Spence - I do not know that the two members the honorable member speaks of are not in favour of the proposal.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I did not say so. I say it is reported that the report has been sent on to them for consideration, and as soon as they reported either for or against it, the report would be submitted to the Governor-General.


Mr Tudor - The honorable member stated that this report was sent on to the only two members who were opposed to this proposal.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - There is some misunderstanding. What I said was, that information had been given to the newspapers, and that the statement was there made that it would be signed and forwarded to the Governor-General when word was received from the only two members on the Commission who are not Socialists.


Mr Lonsdale - It is also said that they might furnish a minority report.


Mr Spence - That has never been sent to the newspapers.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is in the newspapers.


Mr Spence - Honorable members should not rely upon the newspapers.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does the honorable member for Darling deny the accuracy of the newspaper report to which T refer? However, I am not on that point particularly, except that I think that it is worth mentioning that a grave departure in the methods of these Commissions has been set up in connexion with this matter. What I am concerned about now is to' ask the Government, now that they have set up all these socialistic Commissions, what they propose to do about them? The Prime Minister has instituted a Commission for the purpose of inquiring into the nationalization of the shipping industry.


Mr Deakin - No.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes. I know what the honorable and learned gentleman is- attempting to quibble about, but it is only a quibble.


Mr Deakin - No.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Prime Minister was told by the Chairman of the Commission that he did not want the Select Committee in the first instance unless for the purpose of inquiring into the possibility of a nationalization scheme.


Mr Deakin - He said that that was one of the things he intended to inquire into.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - He said that was the main reason, and that he did not want the Committee except for that. The honorable and learned gentleman will find that in Hansard. Then there is the Tobacco Commission. It has also recommended a scheme of nationalization. I say that the Prime Minister has a right to explain why he has gone to all this expense and trouble in the setting up of these socialistic Commissions.


Mr Deakin - Does the honorable member think that his statement about the Tobacco Commission is a fair one? He knows that the members of it completed all their work, except for one sitting and the report, as a Select Committee, and that in accordance with the usual custom, the Select Committee was made a Royal Commission in order that it might complete its work; it cost nothing, and took practically no evidence afterwards.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Even so, there is all the difference in the world between the appointment of a Select Committee of either House of Parliament, and the constitution of a Royal Commission by the Governor-General.


Mr Deakin - It was done simply in order that the Select Committee might be able to send in its report.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Here is the Shipping Commission, which now reports in favour of nationalization. They said beforehand that they were going to see if

Supply[28 June, 1906.] (Formal). 823 they could make out a case for it. It is in Hansard. If the Government spend public money in this way for the purpose of ventilating socialistic schemes, it is only fair to ask what responsibility they propose to assume with regard to the whole question. If they do not believe that we have any constitutional power to nationalize these industries it is a criminal waste of public money to set these Commissions going. We might as well throw the money away as set up a Commission on a question which the Prime Minister knows, as a result of a reasoned judgment, can,have no effect. I say again that it is a very remarkable thing, and I am glad to be able to make the statement in the presence of the Chairman of the Shipping Commission, that the newspapers should have been given the finding of that Commission before it was sent on to the Governor-General.


Mr Thomas - Who gave it to them ?


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not know. It is in the newspapers.


Mr Thomas - I understand that the honorable member said that I gave it to them ?


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - No, I do not think I said that.


Mr Tudor - The honorable member for New England stated it.


Mr Lonsdale - Yes, I said it. Where did the newspapers get it from?


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - What I said was, and what I say now is that it is a very remarkable thing that we should find the report of that Commission in the public newspapers before it has been presented to the Governor-General.


Mr Lonsdale - They must have got it from one of the Commissioners.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - We have all the names, details, and everything concerning the finding published this morning.' It ought to be explained!. I think it is not the rule of Royal Commissions to make their proceedings known in the public press before their report is sent on to the Governor-General, and presented to Parliament.


Mr Tudor - I suppose the information was telegraphed from Sydney from one of the honorable member's crowd.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not know. It is equally wrong wherever it came from.


Mr Lonsdale - How would our crowd get to know it?


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is equally wrong wherever it comes from, but the honorable member for Yarra might as well make that accusation as any other. He does not know anything about it.


Mr Tudor - I know as much about it as does the honorable member for Parramatta.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am quite sure the honorable member could not know that, but it was good enough to make the accusation; it does not matter what it is, so long as it is an accusation.


Mr Thomas - Still, I understand that the honorable member for Parramatta has been making accusations all along.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I cannot help what the honorable member understands. I stated the facts about the matter, and, with the permission of Mr. Speaker, I will state them again for the honorable member. They are, first, that the honorable member declared from his place in the House, when the Select Committee was being appointed, that he wanted it for the purpose of inquiring into the feasibility of nationalizing the industry.


Mr Thomas - Decidedly.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is that a fair accusation, or is it an unfair one?


Mr Thomas - Not that; but I understand the honorable member has been accusing some one of giving information to the newspapers.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am complaining of that having been done.


Mr Thomas - How does the honorable member know that what is in the newspapers is correct?


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I ask the honorable member, when he puts that view tome, if he denies its correctness?


Mr Thomas - I see, that is the idea.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I presume that he does.


Mr Spence - The honorable membercharged the chairman of the Commissiondistinctly with giving the information to the press. He did so in his speech several' times.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I did?


Mr Spence - Yes, several times.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not think the honorable member will find that that is so.


Mr Thomas - So long as the honorablemember does not accuse us of giving something to the newspapers which' we ought not to give them, it is all right.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I say that it is peculiar to find it in the press this morning with the alleged finding.


Mr Spence - Supplied by the chairman ?


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - With the names of those who subscribed to it.


Mr Thomas - Did the honorable member say that the chairman of the Commission gave that information ?


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not know who did it. I should like the honorable member to say.


Mr Spence - The honorable member said that the chairman of the Commission gave it.


Mr Thomas - I have not the slightest idea whether any such information was given to the press or not.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member saw the report this morning, I presume.


Mr Thomas - I saw some of it.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I fancy that the chairman of a Commission of that kind should make some inquiry, if it were a true report, as to how it had leaked out. However, that was not my main point. I protest against the waste of public money on Royal Commissions, when the Prime Minister has declared we have no power to give effect- to their reports. It is time enough to inquire into, these matters when we know that we have power to carry into effect recommendations which may be made. The Prime Minister may say that he is not a Socialist; but this is the kind of socialistic work he is doing. The Prime Minister is using public funds for the purpose of prosecuting socialistic projects.


Mr Deakin - To get information and knowledge.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - To get knowledge with the expressed intention beforehand to use it in a particular direction. The Prime Minister has no right, in view of the judgment he gave as AttorneyGeneral, to. dip his hands into the Treasury for the purpose of a socialistic inquiry of this description. The honorable gentleman may say he is not a Socialist until he is black in the face, but the kind of work he is doing is Socialism. The name does not matter - it is the thing that is important. I have no quarrel with the chairman of this Royal Commission.


Mr Thomas - The honorable member has accused the chairman of that Commission of giving some information to the newspapers. If the honorable member says he did not make that accusation, I shall accept his statement.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - All I can say at the moment is that I do not recollect saying it in that way.


Mr Thomas - I accept the honorable member's word,


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If I did say so, I withdraw it at once. I am alleging nothing wrong ; but I do say it is peculiar that the report of the Commission, with all these details, should have been published before its presentation to the Governor-General.


Mr Page - In what newspaper does the report appear?


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - In either the Melbourne Argus or the Melbourne Age of this morning, It is stated in the newspaper that the Commission have arrived at a decision to recommend the nationalization of the shipping industry, so far as the carriage of mails is concerned, and that the cost of this nationalization will be about £3,000,000. The newspaper goes on to give the names of those members of the Commission who have signed the report, and of others who are going to sign it as soon as word is received from Messrs. Smith and Gibb, to whom a copy of the report has been forwarded at Sydney. The newspaper account even say's that the chairman of the Commission telegraphed to those latter gentlemen last night.


Mr Thomas - I myself gave the infor- 'mation to the newspaper that I had telegraphed to those gentlemen.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then some of the information came from the chairman of the Commission, and I suppose that the rest was obtained somewhere else.


Mr Thomas - I gave the information to the press that six members of the Commission had signed the report.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I know that the honorable member is sincere in his desire to nationalize this industry, and no one can have any quarrel with him on that account. The honorable member declares that he would alter the Constitution so as to give the power to carry out this nationalization ; and the inquiry has been conducted with a view to that end. What I complain of is that the Prime Minister, who ostensibly does not believe in that kind of thing, and who, as Attorney-General, declared that we have no power to nationalize the industry, should spend public money in the prosecution of those objects.

The following is the statement which appeared in the Melbourne Argus of this morning, and it is very circumstantial : -

At a meeting of the Shipping Commission held yesterday, a report embodying the recommendations of the majority was adopted. It is signed by the chairman (Mr. Thomas), and Messrs. Spence (N.S.W.), McDonald (Q.), Chanter (N.S.W.), Storrer (T.), and Mahon (W.A.), who were present at yesterday's meeting.


Mr Spence - It has not been signed.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The statement proceeds -

Messrs. Gibb (V.) and Sydney Smith (N.S.W.) have not yet seen the report. They are both in Sydney, and a few days ago copies of the recommendations in skeleton form were sent to them by post. Last night Mr. Thomas telegraphed to them, asking if they would sign the report. If they reply that they are willing to sign, the report will be presented to the GovernorGeneral to-day.


Mr Thomas - I gave that information to the newspaper.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The report, continues -

If not, an opportunity will be given to them to express their dissent, either by rider or in a separate report.

The report recommends the establishment of a Commonwealth national fleet of eight steamers for the carriage of mails to England.


Mr Thomas - No one got that information from me.


Mr Mahon - That came by telegram, I think, from Sydney.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Let the honorable member for Coolgardie make another guess or another allegation or two - it is quite easy to say things.


Mr Mahon - My allegations are quite as good as those of the honorable member.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - However, I am only pointing out the difference between the conduct of this Royal Commission and that of the Tariff Commission, the members of which are so close that we have to pursue them very carefully and persistently in order to get any information as to their proceedings. But all this is immaterial. The main question is what the Government are going to do about the report, after spending money in the investigation, in view of the fact that they know beforehand the object in view. Is this money to be purely wasted? I do not know what the cost of these Commissions has been, but I suspect that in the case of the tobacco project and the shipping project, it runs into some thousands of pounds. Before money is wasted in this war. the Government ought to have some clearly-defined intention to do something with the reports when presented ; thev ought to have an idea that the reports will be of use to them in some legislation which they contemplate. That is the only object, so far as I know, of inquiries of the kind.


Mr Thomas - Let us hope that that will be the result.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It matters but little what the Prime Minister may say on the public platform, as to whether he is Otis not a Socialist, or as to whether or not he favours nationalization ; but his actions in this House matter everything. In supreme control of the resources of the Commonwealth, he lends these to socialistic ends and purposes, and helps those who desire to get constitutional power to nationalize industries. That is what I have ventured to call, on the public platforms of the country, working for Socialism ; and the Prime Minister will be judged, as we all shall be, by his ultimate actions rather than by his words.


Mr Thomas - The honorable member is an anti-Socialist now. I have been promising myself, for a long while, to look lip the honorable member's speeches in the New South Wales Parliament; and I am going to do so one of these cold mornings.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - There is another matter to which I should like to call attention. This Government seems, to be very free in the way they disburse public fund's.


Sir William Lyne - I do not think so; they are the meanest crowd I ever came across.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The .Minister of Trade and Customs is quite right ; he has had large and spacious notions ever since he entered public life. Years and years ago I heard the honorable gentleman say the same thing to his chief, Sir George Dibbs, in New South Wales, and I remember that thev had some very warm words on the question of the expenditure of public money. The present Minister of Trade and Customs kept a Government in power in New South Wales, with a majority of one, for two- years, when he was Secretary for Public Works.


Sir William Lyne - For three years.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable gentleman then had the disbursement of ^2,000,000 or ^3,000,000 a' year; and he is quite true to his name and his character. I know no man in Australia who is more fond of spending public money than is the present Minister of Trade and Customs.


Sir William Lyne - I spend the money on good objects.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am perfectly certain that the honorable gentleman has an idea that the present Government is mean in the spending of money. The Government do not come up to his level at all; and in this respect he is pretty much the same as one of his late' colleagues in the State Parliament, Mr. O'sullivan.


Sir William Lyne - A good man.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - A good' man, yes.


Sir William Lyne - One of the best.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - But how easy it is to be good when rolling in money, particularly if the money is not one's own. There is nothing easier than to spend other people's money - to leave somebody else to foot the bill.


Sir William Lyne - That is what the honorable member's party always did in New South Wales.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Oh, no; our party did' not raise £i 7^000,000 in loan money in three or four years.


Sir William Lyne - They may not have raised £17,000,000, but they raised a great deal, and then blamed the Government of which I was a member for causing them to do so.


Mr Page - How these New South Wales fellows love one another !


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Who begins this sort of thing? I wanted to prevent the present Minister of Trade and Customs from coming to this Parliament and inoculating the good, innocent people opposite with his New South Wales notions. I know that honorable members opposite all believe in Spartan simplicity in public administration ; and my soul is vexed when I find this old' economic perverter coming over here and putting, his deadly virus into the veins of young innocents.


Sir William Lyne - I did more good with the money I spent than the honorable member ever did with the money he spent as Minister.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable gentleman always had a happy knack of clearing out and leaving some one else to shoulder the responsibility.


Mr Page - A good' idea, too !


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - At any rate, that is what is said in New South Wales.


Sir William Lyne - Not at all ; that is only said by the honorable member and his friends.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - All this comes of my not being accustomed to interjections. I have been led off the track of my remarks.


Sir William Lyne - Is the honorable member taking all the afternoon to himself ?


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - No; but I desire to make one or two remarks concerning some very important matters. I wish to refer to the .way in which officers of the Public Service are being sent on missions of various kinds at the public expense.


Sir William Lyne - Who are they?


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I refer to the officers lately sent to London. If anything could be more idiotic than the way in which the defences of Australia are being administered, I should like to know what it is. If any visitor from an outside country Game here, and saw what goes on in connexion with the Defence Forces, he could come to no other conclusion than, either that we were lunatics, or that we had plenty of money which we wanted to waste. After five or six years of Federal control of the Defence Forces, matters seem to be "getting no better very fast," if I am any judge. I hope to soon see something in the nature of efficient control and administration which will justify us in continuing the Defence Department as one to be relied on in the time of peril.


Sir William Lyne - Raise it to the standard of mv Department.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not know much about the Minister's Department; all I know is that it seems to be a prolific source of irritation to the traders of the country.


Sir William Lyne - Why, the honorable member has not asked me a single question regarding the Department this week !


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I never ask questions about that Department.


Sir William Lyne - That is because the Department is so well administered.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not mind the honorable member taking that little unction to his soul. But let me refer to the officers who are constantly being despatched to London. What is the position of affairs in connexion with defence? First, we obtained the services of, I believe, a highly competent man from London in the person of General Hutton. That officer propounded a defence scheme, but when his term expired he was sent Home again. Almost before he could have reached London, we sent a man away with that scheme to have it judged in England by people who are not on the spot, and who may know very little of our local circumstances. After bringing a highly expert man here to formulate a scheme on the spot, we follow in his footsteps to London, in order to have his scheme judged by others thousand's of miles away. I understand that Colonel Bridges has been sent Home to obtain the opinion of authorities there on the defence of Australia. Then we sent Home Captain Cresswell.


Mr Kelly - Was he sent Home at the invitation of the Home authorities?


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - We do not know. He was sent Home, I presume, at the public expense, to discuss the advisability of establishing a fleet for the defence of Australia. These two gentlemen were sent Home, notwithstanding that Captain Collins, the secretary of the Defence Department, was in London at the time on a holiday, and could have laid these schemes before the Imperial authorities, because he is supposed to know something about military matters, and a great deal about business' matters. After Colonel Bridges and Captain Creswell had gone to London, Captain Collins1 came back; but he had hardly set his foot on Australian soil before he was sent again to London, to open a bureau there for the transaction of Australian business. There are; six Australian AgentsGeneral in London transacting Australian business; but the Commonwealth, apparently, cannot trust any of them to do its business, and has therefore sent a seventh man, employing a seventh staff, to open a seventh office for the purpose.


Sir William Lyne - We ought to send Home the honorable member as AgentGeneral.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am afraid that it is not of much use to speak about these things just now; but it is time that attention was called to them* and our protest put om record. The Minister deals in a light and airy way with objections to the wasting of public money as it is being wasted by the duplication of offices, for the maintenance of which our taxpayers have to pay the piper. We were told that Federation, by providing for one control, would save the expense of Australian representation in London, but, instead of a saving, there has been increased expenditure, because of the duplication which has taken place. The Government should not have sent Captain Collins to London to open another office until arrangements had been made with the States whereby a saving could be effected in their representation. According to the best information which. I possess, it was not necessary to send Home at all, because our work was being done well by the Agents-General of the States. I am afraid that the Commonwealth action in this case is of a piece with its action in other directions. Instead of economizing by concentrating control, we have been increasing expenditure by establishing additional offices. When the Estimates are before us, I shall be anxious to find out what this new Lond'on office is costing the Commonwealth. It may have been established preparatory to the appointment of a High Commissioner, but I think that the Commonwealth should not provide for representation in London until arrangements have been made with the Premiers of the States whereby their expenditure there may be minimized. I was surprised to hear the Acting Postmaster-General say that we need not trouble ourselves as to whether the private publication which has been sent through' the post in a wrapper on which was printed the letters O.H.M.S. was or was not of a political character. In my opinion, everything depends upon that. If it had been an innocent publication, issued for purely departmental purposes, I could understand the arrangement, but it was a specially prepared political pamphlet.


Mr Frazer - Hy whom was it prepared ?


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not know. The Minister should inquire into that.


Mr Frazer - Was it connected in any way with the Commonwealth Government?


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not know. The Minister should try to ascertain who is responsible for it.


Mr Frazer - Has not the responsibility been traced to the Agricultural Department of Victoria?


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not understand that to be so. I gather that certain publications have received the imprimatur of the Agricultural Department of Victoria ; but we have not been informed that the Department approved of this pamphlet. Things would be .coming to a pretty pass if an Agricultural Department set itself to disseminate political literature, and to US. the Post Office to advocate certain, political views. That would be worse than what is done in America, where they adopt without disguise the theory of the " spoils to the victors."


Mr Johnson - The publication in question was issued in the interests of McKay's h ci rrvesters


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister should sift the matter to the bottom, to ascertain who are concerned. I could understand an innocent publication of an agricultural character being allowed to go through the post bearing on its wrapper the words " On His Majesty's Service." but the Post Office should not be used in that way for the dissemination of political views. In the old country, recently - I think in connexion with the late general elections - the House of Commons censured some one who issued an address under the letters "O.H.M.S," and diligent inquiry should be made to ascertain why a partisan political pamphlet has been allowed to pass through the post here bearing those letters on its wrapper. The matter is a more serious one than the Minister seems to think, and I hope that he will ascertain who has attempted to take advantage of an innocent precedent for personal and political party ends. It is a very different thing from letting an agricultural publication pass through the post under the imprimatur of a Department to permit a publication, crammed from cover to cover with electioneering matter in the interests of one of the political parties of the Commonwealth, to do so. I hope that the case will be thoroughly investigated, and that 'the Post Office will never again be prostituted in this way to serve the ends of any one political party







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