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Thursday, 28 May 1914

Senator PEARCE - Is this the case of a man who told another man' something while the Vice-President of the Executive Council was standing by?

Senator McCOLL - No. I repeat that it is impossible to lay down an absolute rule as to which system is preferable. In some cases, day labour is best, and in other instances the contract system is to be preferred. I wish now to refer to another matter of which we have heard a good deal in this chamber, namely, the sleeper contract. It was initiated in an atmosphere of mysterious secrecy. No information could be obtained about it. To all inquiries we got the answer, "You will know all about it after the contract has been signed." The contract was bungled, both in the drafting of it, and also in its execution. The Western Australian Government sent in a tender on the 23rd April, 1912. The Fisher Ministry took five months to consider it. They accepted it on the 6th August of the same year. The first delivery of sleepers should have taken place in June, 1913, but the date was extended to November of the same year. The present Govern ment then called attention to the urgency which existed for the supply of the sleepers. A little later they stated that a further extension of time could not be granted, and a cancellation, of the contract would follow failure to supply. No sleepers were supplied, and the contract was cancelled. The statement was made a night or two ago in this chamber that not a sleeper had been purchased by the Government since the cancellation of the contract.

Senator Oakes - What were the penalties provided for in that contract?

Senator McCOLL - There were penalties provided, but no deposits were paid. Hence, when the contract failed, there was nothing to draw upon. We were informed the other evening that not a single sleeper had been purchased by the Government since the cancellation of the contract, and that, as a matter of fact, there were sufficient sleepers at both ends of the transcontinental line to permit of construction proceeding for months. It was further stated that the contract was cancelled because a Labour Government were in power in Western Australia. Nothing could be farther from the truth. But the needs of the line must be supplied. When it was seen that the contract would fall through, steps were taken to enter into another 'contract for the supply of 300,000 sleepers. It seems as if my honorable friends opposite desire to make this railway a sort of field in which experiments can be tried at the expense of the Commonwealth. At the present time there is a Commission investigating the process of powellising, which was to be applied to the sleepers under the contract with the Western Australian Government, and in a short time I hope we shall have its report before us. I may mention that there are some interesting figures in connexion with the contract and day-labour systems contained in a report which I have received from the Northern Territory. There are two items in it which can be compared. One relates to the employment of the forest devil and the other to hand-grubbing. Clearing with a forest devil under contract cost £5 15s. per acre, whereas with a forest devil by day labour it cost £11 10s. 6d. per acre. Fencing of exactly the same character was also carried out by day labour and contract. Under day labour it cost from £57 to £42 per mile, whereas under contract it cost from £29 to. £25. These figures cannot be ignored; they are official, and can be vouched for.

Senator Gardiner - The contract fencer often does the work much more cheaply by sawing off the. bottom of the post.

Senator McCOLL - That can only happen if there is no proper inspection, and, I am sure, there is not much of it. It is not worth while doing it. It is as much trouble to saw the end of a post off in that sort of country as it is to sink a hole to a proper depth, most of the sinking now being done with augers. A charge has been made that the Government are out to destroy old-age pensions.

Senator Gardiner - Hear, hear !

Senator McCOLL - The charge is now repeated by the honorable senator. It was the Liberals who introduced old-age pensions in the Commonwealth and in every State in which they were in force. The measure was first introduced in the House of Representatives by Mr. Deakin on June 2, 1908.

Senator Story - Under compulsion.

Senator McCOLL - There was no compulsion whatever. That is the way the Labour party try to take the credit away from others. They claim everything for themselves, and when they are given the actual facts they say, " Oh, it was done under compulsion ! " The measure was passed by the Senate on June 4, 1908, and assented to on June 10 of the same year. At that time it was well known that, owing to the operation of the Braddon section, the Commonwealth was straitened for money. While the Act was assented to on the date mentioned, payments did not commence until 1st July, 1909. Invalid pensions were prevented from being paid owing to financial stringency, and their proclamation was delayed. The first payment took place during the term of office of the Fisher Government, who had ample money available, owing to the operation of the Braddon section coming to an end. The £450,000 deficit, which has been thrown in the teeth of Liberals all over the country as being a deficit left by the Liberal Government, was caused mainly through putting money aside to provide for the payment of old-age pensions. One would think that old-age pensions were never paid until they were paid in the Commonwealth. As a matter of fact, they were paid in three States for some years before.. The first Government in Australia to laybefore the people proposals for paying old-age pensions was the McLean Government in Victoria, the Attorney-General of which was Mr. Irvine, who is now said to be out to destroy old-age pensions. To. say that the Liberals are going to destroy their own handiwork is to make a. base and slanderous insinuation. It is a. contemptible thing to play on the fears of these old people, for a party advantage,, by telling them that their bread and butter "will be taken away from them if a certain party come into power. Very unjust attacks are being made on the Government, both inside and outside Parliament, on the question of the revision, of the Tariff. There was a general consensus of opinion after the last revision of the Tariff took place that never again would we have such an unseemly scramble for duties. Duties were put on in an absolutely unscientific fashion, without information, and without regard towhether they were required or not. Parties all round expressed the opinion that, before any further revision of the Tariff took place, there should be an inquiry by a non-political, disinterested board.

Senator Gardiner - And a lengthy inquiry, too.

Senator McCOLL - Any inquiry .must, to a certain extent, be lengthy, because an enormous number of interests have to be dealt with, and a great number of people must be given a hearing. No pro-; per recommendation can be made simply on what is said in one State, and as there were as many applications from New South Wales as from Victoria, it would not have been right to make a recommendation after hearing only Victorian witnesses. I am not going to say anything about the Labour Government not carrying out Tariff revision. We have had quite enough of that sort of talk; let us make the best of things as they are. They know they got into office through promising to revise the Tariff, and they know that they did not do it. At the last election, a sort of death-bed repentance took place, and they promised to inquire into the question of Tariff revision if they .did not carry the referendum. Their plea was, " We want the new Protection, protecting manufacturer, worker, and consumer." It was extraordinarily interesting to see how the question of new Protection was taken up by Free Traders everywhere. They welcomed it, "because they saw in it something that would shelve true Protection for a long time. Sir George Reid, and a number of others, were, consequently, strongly in favour of it. It certainly answered the purposes of the Labour party admirably. It gave them three years of office with nothing done, although they had ample time, opportunities, and a majority to do it. It is generally understood that the matter was the subject of a very serious discussion in the Labour Caucus. It is said outside that " no Tariff revision " was only carried there by one vote. One or two members, such as Senator Russell, Senator Givens, and Senator Stewart, battled manfully; but the Caucus decided against them, and they had to follow. The Cook Government have been perfectly honest and straightforward right through with regard to this question. In their manifesto they stated -

Party to have common ground on the Tariff; conceding that the people have declared for Protection as the national policy. Taking the question out of the arena of party conflict by means of inquiry by a board, non-political, noninterested, with full powers of inquiry, which shall report to Parliament preliminary to any general revision of the Tariff. In the meantime, such anomalies as have not been rectified, to be adjusted, and an increase of duties given to those industries that can show their suffering from over importation of the products they manufacture, causing unemployment of the workers in such industry. Revenue duties that do not assist production, but increase the cost of living, to be reduced. Any revision of duties to give preference to the Empire over, foreign countries.

That is the pledge on which the Government were elected. That is the view of the people who supported them and placed them in power ; and for them to go back upon it would be to betray their promise.

Senator Story - You are not carrying it out.

Senator McCOLL - We are. Immediately we took office, there was a delay of scarcely a week before inquiries were made to get suitable Commissioners. This was not easy. Many men who would have been eminently desirable could not be obtained; but no one here will say that the Government made anything like a party choice, or an unwise 'choice. Not a single word of criticism' has been uttered against the three men who compose the

Inter-State- Commission. They were sworn in on the 11th August, 1913. A great deal of preliminary work had to be done in securing offices, organizing the office, drawing up regulations, getting officers, and preparing schedules. The public had to be advised as to procedure. Temporary offices had to be used, and the permanent offices were entered on the 11th December, 1913. Meanwhile, the Commissioners inspected factories and manufacturing processes in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and South Australia. The public sittings began on 12th January, 1914. The Commissioners sat on each working day, except Saturdays, from 10.30 a.m. to 4 p.m., taking evidence almost continuously. When not taking evidence, they were collating and collaborating the evidence and exhibits. I do not- think any body of men could have done the work more- conscientiously or expeditiously than the present Commissioners . have done.

Senator Henderson - Of what value will the evidence be, seeing that no record has been kept of it?

Senator McCOLL - The Commission have some record, but have not seen fit to have the minutes of evidence taken in full. I am not prepared to pass an opinion on that matter. It might have been wiser to take the evidence fully. At the same time, they have their notes, and for whatever recommendations they make, they will have to advance reasons which will appeal to Parliament as sound. I do not know that many people read these reports when they are printed. As a matter of fact, in past Tariff revisions, very little notice has been taken of reports. . No fewer than 469 subjects have been sent in for consideration from different States, and the witnesses examined number 340. Tasmania was visited; and on 11th May, sittings began in Sydney, as the Commissioners did not think it right to bring in recommendations without affording persons in New South Wales a chance to give evidence. The Government have not been lax or remiss on this question. They have pressed the Commission to try to give them a list of anomalies that require to be rectified, and of cases where suffering has been caused through the want of increased duties.

Senator Gardiner - Will the Government strike off duties if the Commission recommend that to be done?

Senator McCOLL - No, this Parliament only can do that. The Government cannot place a Tariff Bill before Parliament until the Commission has presented a report.

Senator Gardiner - Will the Government accept the Commission's report a ad place it before Parliament, and give effect to it?

Senator McCOLL - That remains to be seen when the report is received.

Senator de Largie - When will we have a report ?

Senator McCOLL - The honorable senator had better ask his friend, Mr. Piddington. Of course I can understand that to an Opposition who are desirous of blocking the business of the country and talking ad libitum, the Tariff would be a splendid subject to get before them. It would play into their hands well, but that is not the reason why the Tariff is kept back. We are simply waiting upon the Commission who are working with all due diligence; we hope that they will be able to report at an early date. Senator Stewart asked last night " Why do not the Government bring in a Tariff"? It is not a very easy matter to frame a Tariff, as we have to study all parties who are interested. It is a matter requiring time and care in order to deal justly with all interests. We hope that when a Tariff is submitted it will be one which will last and will be of very great benefit. In his speech Senator Ready, who, I am sorry to see, is not in the chamber, made certain charges against the Government. He denominated a certain paper as a " pimp." I am not concerned with the language he used; that is a matter for himself - .1 matter of taste.

Senator McDougall - Brother Cook called money " spondulix."

Senator McCOLL - Senator Ready alleged that a political advantage had been given to a certain newspaper because it was a Liberal one and supported the Government. The offence of this newspaper, as far as he was concerned, was that it did not support him. Had it done so, of course it would have done everything which was good. His charge was that the Government had taken 5,000 copies of the newspaper and had given a penny more per copy than the published price. It was a special issue which was brought out. Perhaps I had better read the explanation which I have received from the Secretary to the Department, and which will place the Senate in possession of the facts. The explanation reads -

In compliance with the request contained in your letter of even date, the facts in regard to the purchase of copies of the Fruit World by this Department are furnished herein.

The Department has, each year, for three or four years past, purchased copies of a special issue of this paper. The late Mr. Batchelor gave the first order, in 1910. It has been found, to be a useful and effective publication, and the bulk of the copies purchased by us have been posted direct to the homes of farmers either in Great Britain or America.

This year we purchased 5,000 copies at £30' per 1,000, or a little over 7d. per copy. Of this number 3,000 copies were posted direct to farmers in America, as special efforts are being made to attract suitable settlers for the: irrigation areas in New South Wales and Victoria. The balance - 2,000 copies - were distributed in equal numbers by the Government agents of New South Wales and Victoria in San Francisco.

Senator Beady,I believe, desires to know why the Government paid 7d. per copy for a. publication sold for 6d. per copy in Australia,, especially as the matter is almost the same in the "ordinary" and "Commonwealth" issues, and the Government is so largs a purchaser.

Hitherto we have paid £25 for 1,000, or 6d.. per copy. This year £5 per thousand more was paid, as we were furnished with a signed statement by the printers that their factory costs had increased by 30 per cent.

Senator Ready - That is not correct.

Senator McCOLL - The honorable senator was not in the chamber when I mentioned that this is the official statement.

Senator Ready - It is like the statement which was put on the cover of the book - absolutely untrue.

The reason why 7d. per copy is paid when the ordinary issue is sold for 6d. is this : Although the matter in the ordinary issue is used for the Commonwealth issue, the matter for that particular issue is, to a large extent, specially prepared, and it is profusely illustrated. It is the Commonwealth order that makes this possible.

Senator Oakes - Will the Minister say how many copies the Labour Government got in three years?

Senator Ready - They did not pay 9d. per copy.

Senator McCOLL - No, they paid a little over 7d. The official explanation continues -

We are given a good issue for circulation abroad - an issue which costs more than the ordinary one in normal circumstances would cost - but it is, of course,, quite true that the publishers use that specially prepared and well illustrated matter fbr their ordinary issue. If the publishers did not do this they could not afford to sell us copies at anything like 7d. per copy. It is also quite certain that the Department could not compile and issue a publication of the same size and style for so low a figure as £30 per thousand for 5,000 copies.

So it is thought that we obtained a useful advertising publication at a reasonable price. The publishers also place at the Department's disposal their list of American farmers' names and addresses, which they have collected at their own expense. We, as has been said, had 3,000 copies posted direct to farmers, and there is no doubt that there is no better method of reaching the class we are looking for.

I might add that the matter was fully discussed with thu publishers of the Fruit World at the time, and no better terms could be arranged.

I have not had the benefit of reading Senator Ready's remarks, but will do so as soon aa Hansard is available.

I believe that it is possible to issue a special number of a periodical or journal for profit up to a certain point, but the money to produce the profit has to come from advertisements and subscriptions. If the proprietors go beyond that point and issue a larger number it is done at a loss. That is the statement made in regard to the cost of this publication. I have gone through a copy, and I must say that it is a very fine publication. The illustrations are splendid. I think that there could be no better advertising medium or nothing more attractive to catch the attention of growers and orchardists in other countries. The amount paid for the copies is paltry ; it is scarcely worth while to squabble about a few pounds.

Senator Ready - It was well worth squabbling about when a few advertisements were given to a Labour newspaper.

Senator McCOLL - Did the honorable senator raise a protest when £60 was given to the Labour Gall for one advertisement, and a thousand ' copies of a " rag " such as that? There was no protest raised then by the honorable senator, because the newspaper happened to support him.

Senator Russell - Did the honorable senator take that tale round the country ?

Senator McCOLL - No, I am not like the honorable senator who carries tales round the country.

Senator Russell - Thank you.

Senator McCOLL - I tell the truth when I go out.

Senator Russell - What sort of tale? Be a man for once, and give us one instance of anything that I took round the country which was not true.

Senator McCOLL - Any number of them.

Senator Russell - That statement is absolutely untrue. It is quite characteristic of the honorable senator. Give me one fact.

Senator McCOLL - There was another matter brought up by Senator Ready. .

Senator Russell - One more exhibition of the manhood of Senator McColl.

Senator Millen - Talk about something you understand.

Senator Russell - It fits the honorable senator, too. Why has he not manliness enough to say what is wrong in any statement of mine ?

Senator McCOLL - The honorable senator may get it before he is done.

Senator Russell - Let us have it now.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - I ask Senator McColl to proceed with his speech.

Senator McCOLL - Senator Ready was very disappointed at the Government not having proposed the establishment of a steam -ship service to Tasmania. He said that higher freights are paid to Tasmania than to other parts of the Commonwealth. Now freights everywhere depend upon the volume of traffic. If the traffic is low and the passengers are few, then, of course, the freights increase. The more back cargo there is, the lower are the charges. Senator Guthrie contradicted Senator Ready when he made a remark. He said that the freights here are the lowest in the world.

Senator Ready - No; he referred to the freights from Hobart to Sydney only.

Senator McCOLL - I have had an opportunity of going through the freights. I think that they are reasonable. In some cases they are on a par with, and in other cases lower than, the freights to other States. The honorable senator was very sore because this Government did not start a nationalized line of steamers. I think that after the experience of Western Australia this Government would have deserved to be run out had they done such a foolish" thing. The Government in Western Australia made an experiment, but what was the result? Great things were expected from the establishment of State steam-ships there, and it was thought by the Premier that the venture would result in magnificent gain to the State. It was said there that -

A few big owners used to control the cattle trade and had squeezed the smaller men out of shipping space and market. In short, there was a beef ring which operated to the detriment of the producer at the' one end and the consumer at the other end. The Government decided that the only way to compete successfully against the ring was to step in with State-owned steamers to carry the stock from the pastoral areas in the north-west down to the metropolis.

The Premier of Western Australia said -

Our object is to relieve the smaller grower from the grip of these few firms, and while giving him a fair deal, at the same time enable him to put his produce on the market at a fair price to the consumer.

What has been the result of this venture ? Has it been an encouragement to start a nationalized line of steamers? The State Government bought three steamers, at a total cost of £67,000. The result of the first year's operations, ending 30th June, 1913, was a loss of £26,000; the revenue being £60,000, and the expenditure £86,000. To this amount must be added depreciation on the vessels and interest on capital expended, and it has been estimated by competent men that it would not be excessive to put the amount at from 10 to 15 per cent. per annum, as the vessels were old, totalling £14,000. It will be seen that the working of this venture for one year has cost the people of the State £40,000.

Senator Ready - That is absolutely incorrect, according to the Premier's last figures.

Senator McCOLL - The Premier of Western Australia is not very keen about going into any more speculation just now. Not only has the venture failed in that way, but it has not cheapened the cost of meat at all.

Senator Ready -Absolutely incorrect again.

Senator Lt Colonel O'Loghlin - It has cheapenedthe price by 2d. or 3d. a pound.

Senator McCOLL - The price of meat is higher in Western Australia than it is in other parts of Australia.

Senator McDougall - No; it is higher in Sydney.

Senator McCOLL - A Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into the working of the vessels, which was dropped when half-way through, and the Government, in despair, has now handed over the control of the vessels to the Harbor Trust. The whole enterprise has been costly and useless. On the one hand, the small farmers and the growers of cattle have not benefited in. the slightest degree, and, on the other, the consumer has not obtained meat at any cheaper rate than before. The vessels have been a failure in the two objects for which the service was inaugurated. It only shows that prices are regulated by laws of supply and demand, and cannot be adjusted by any system of nationalization or Government control. With regard to the Teesdale Smith contract, of which we have heard a great deal, I do not propose to speak at any length. I imagine that the contract will be inquired into by the Royal Commission that is to be appointed, and that it will get at the truth, which is what we want to elicit. Exaggerated statements have been made, and unworthy charges have been levelled against the Government. It has been said to us, "What did Teesdale Smith give you?" " How much did the Government get out of the contract?" What about side-door influence and back-door influence?" All sorts of infamous charges have been made by the Leader of the Opposition in another place and honorable members generally.

Senator Millen - And when they were pulled up, they said they had no imputation of dishonour to make.

Senator McCOLL - Yes. I believe that the transaction was an honest one on the part of both Mr. Deane and Mr. Kelly. Very soon we shall get the truth about the matter. I cannot refrain from commenting upon the very questionable taste of Senator de Largie last night in raking up a number of letters from Mr. Teesdale Smith to Mr. Chinn, and reading them, in order to try to damage the Government, which had nothing to do with the thing at all. After he read Mr. Teesdale Smith's letters- to Mr. Chinn, why did he not read the latter's replies, so that we could have had both sides of the matter?

Senator Oakes - If I was Chinn, I would say, " Save me from de Largie!"

Senator McCOLL - It seems to me that if it were not for the Teesdale Smith contract, the Beef Trust, and electoral matters, our honorable friends opposite would be absolutely "gravelled" to find anything to talk about. The crowning iniquity of the Government, apparently, is that they did not call for tenders for the contract let to Mr. Teesdale Smith. It did not matter what they paid for the job if they called for tenders. If they had done that, nothing would have been said about the matter. Did the last Go vernment always call for tenders? It is fitting that accusers should come into Court with clean hands. Let us see what the last Government did. There is a certain company here known as the Victorian Powellising Company, of which Mr. Gorton is the manager, or, at all events, he was the man with whom the late Government did business. The company was asked to tender for a lot of mountain ash and messmate sleepers. On 26th November, 1912, they were asked to submit a tender. They were again asked to tender in January of the following year. On the 7th January they offered to supply the sleepers at 7s. lid., but agreed to accept 7s. 6d. On the 26th March they were advised that their tender was accepted for 100,000 sleepers at £37,500. The agreement was settled on the 9th April, 1913. No tenders were called for this contract; no deposit was paid, and no penalties were provided for in the agreement. Mr. Gorton asked for no deposit to be demanded, or, at most, for £200, but no deposit was made. When our honorable friends say that tenders should have been called for the contract let to Mr. Teesdale Smith, I ask why the Labour Government did not call for tenders for this sleeper contract. It was found later that the sleepers Were not satisfactory, and in October, 1913, six months after the contract was let, it was annulled. I am sorry that Senator Ready is not present. He has recently been making a great deal of fuss about calling for tenders for the supply of Tasmanian sleepers. Let me inform him that at the time when this agreement was fixed up with the Victorian Powellising Company for the supply of sleepers of -mountain ash. and messmate, which are about the worst timbers that could be used for sleepers, the Huon Company of Tasmania tendered for a quantity of Tasmanian .sleepers, and deposited £500. with their tender. Later on the same company tendered for 300,000 Tasmanian sleepers, and deposited another £500. Neither of their tenders was accepted, and it was six months and twelve months later before the deposits were returned. Where was Senator Ready at that time? Why was the honorable senator not fighting for his State when this sort of thing was going on under the Government he was supporting? There was another contract entered into with the Western

Australian Government for 1,400,000 powellised sleepers, for which no tenders were called.

Senator Pearce - That is not true. Tenders were called for that contract.

Senator McCOLL - Competitive tenders?

Senator Pearce - Yes. Tenders were advertised for throughout Australia.

Senator McCOLL - I withdraw that statement if I have been wrongly informed. There was a penalty provided for in that case, but as there was no deposit there was nothing upon which the Government might enforce the penalty.

Senator Millen - Senator Pearce need not be excited, as there were many matters connected with my own Department for which tenders were not invited.

Senator Pearce - Let the honorable senator mention them.

Senator McCOLL - Then there was a contract let to the Maritime Wireless Company for £24,348. There was no competition for that.

Senator Pearce - Where could the honorable senator get competition in Australia?

Senator McCOLL - No deposit and no penalties were provided for in that case.

Senator Oakes - Where would you get competition for powellising?

Senator Pearce - Yes. There was only one powellising company and only one wireless company in Australia.

Senator Millen - What is the use of saying that there was no competition with the wireless company, when they bought half the stuff they used.

Senator Pearce - There was no other company in Australia making the material they supplied.

Senator Millen - They were not making the material. They were importing it.

Senator McCOLL - They imported it, filed the names of the makers off, and put their own name "on.

Senator McDougall - That is not so.

Senator McCOLL - The great fault of this Government has been, apparently, that they did not call for tenders, and I mention these cases in which tenders were not called for by the late Government. I have said that accusers should come into> Court with clean hands. There was a survey contract in the Northern Territory given to Lawrence and Chalmers, and no tenders were called for that.

Senator Millen - Were tenders called for when the late Government bought privately property in Perth for £170,000?

Senator McDougall - It is wrong of Senator McColl to say that the Wireless Company filed the names of the makers off the material they imported.

Senator McCOLL - It is absolutely true. The Post and Telegraph Department had a sworn declaration to that effect, or I should not have mentioned it. The statement has been repeatedly made that since the present Government came into office they have done nothing whatever. I propose to mention a few things that they have done. No Ministers could have been more unremitting in their attention to the work of their Departments than have been members of the present Government. They have worked early and late, and have given honest administration.

Senator Pearce - That is a good testimonial to yourselves. The honorable senator should have asked Senator Oakes to say that.

Senator McCOLL - I have not the control of a Department myself, and I speak not for myself, but for other members of the Ministry.

Senator Pearce - What about the Electoral Department?

Senator McCOLL - It is only a branch of a Department, and let me say that no exception has been taken to anything I have done there, even by those who would be very glad to take exception if they could do so. There is the Defence Department. What have the Government done in connexion with that Department? They have tried to repair the bungle at Cockburn Sound, in Western Australia.

Senator Pearce - Repair the "bungle ?"

Senator McCOLL - Yes; things were found to be so very unsatisfactory over there that the Government had to get an expert out to report on the matter, and have so succeeded in saving a great deal of money.

Senator Pearce - I am glad the honorable senator agrees with me that it is a bungle.

Senator McCOLL - I need not say much about the Defence Department, as Senator Millen can speak as to his own work, and is well able to put his own case.

Senator Pearce - Give the honorable senator a pat on the back as well as the other Ministers. Why except Senator Millen?

Senator McCOLL - " Good wine needs no bush," and every one here is well aware of Senator Millen's merits without my saying anything about them.

Senator Pearce -The honorable senator has said that the members of the Government have been working hard, but he will say nothing about Senator Millen. What is the inference?

Senator McCOLL - I will not say anything further about Senator Millen, except that he has been, as every one knows, unremitting in his attention to the duties of his office. I take the Post and Telegraph Department, and I ask whether any one who has filled the position has done better work or more work than has been done' by the present PostmasterGeneral. He has brought about many reforms in the staff and for the benefit of the public.

Senator Pearce - The honorable senator should not forget the new stamp.

Senator McCOLL - I can give honorable senators the following statement of what has been done in the Post and Telegraph Department: -

Staff changes. Postmasters alteration in cleaning allowances. Inspectors to confer. Money order hours - country and suburban altered from 5 p.m. to 4 p.m. Telegraphists - new schedule of hours introduced, Sydney, to obviate broken time and roster duty as far as practicable. Approval payment overtime - night staff on race-course duty in Melbourne. Letter carriers - earlier clearance pillar-boxes, Sydney, Saturdays, making second round earlier, giving Saturday half-holiday. Dining and retiring rooms - provision in new building, Sydney and Melbourne, for comfortable luncheon and retiring rooms. Increase of classification of post offices in charge of postal assistants. Payment in lieu of furlough to officers who voluntarily retire.Amendment Public Service Act - crediting officers from State service with time there where continuous with Commonwealth service; adult officers, General, Clerical, and Professional Divisions, advance by annual increments from £126 to £156 per annum without having to mark time, as previously, at adult minimum wage of £126 per annum; foremen carpenters, previous salary £168 minimum, £198 maximum, advanced from £198 to £210 maximum; carpenters previously £162 minimum, £168 maximum. advanced to £168 minimum and £186 maximum. Concessions to public by Postmaster-General - Introduction lettergram system ; transmission agricultural produce parcel post; alteration design Commonwealth postal stamp.

That is a matter in which Senator Findley has been very much interested..

As soon as the present issue is out, which I hope will be very soon, honorable senators will be able to stamp their letters without being ashamed every time they do so, and fearing that they are making Australia a laughing stock, and ridiculous in the eyes of the world. The statement continues -

Week-end cables to and from United Kingdom, minimum 18s. to 15s., and messages transmitted telegraphically throughout. System extended South Africa, India, Ceylon, Canada. Reduction rates wireless telegrams10d. to 6d. per word. Trunk line charges over lines 25 miles long reduced between hours of 7 p.m. and 8 a.m. Guaranteed telephone lines, surplus of one year allowed against deficiency of another year during guarantee period. Telephone lines, country districts, contribution to be refunded when shown after three years' experience that line is paying. Late fees abolished on correspondence posted on trains at other than capital cities. Charges for re-directed telegrams reduced half original charge, with minimum of 6d. Telephone subscribers at exchanges where no night attendant allowed to remain connected all night if desired; originally this only applied to medical men. Lines for public telephones in country places : Department agrees arrange with local residents for erection of lines at Department's expense where residents prepared to do work at the rate which will bring line within guarantee regulations or enable it to be erected without guarantee.

That will give people a chance to put up lines themselves, so that the work can be done more quickly and more cheaply than it could be by the departmental officers.

Subscribers allowed use trunk lines without deposit up to 10s. Code addressed published in Postal Guide for 2s.6d per annum. Visitors residing in premises where there is telephone allowed an entry in telephone directory for 5s. per quarter. Letter-boxes on electric trams in Melbourne. Delayed transmission of press messages precluding delivery in time for publication, messages cancelled, and fees waived. Approval transmission of weather messages by radiotelegram while vessels in port. Wireless messages accepted from ships in port until moored to wharf or pier. Reduced rate transmission special Christmas, New Year greetings by wireless. Adoption of scheme of inland wireless telegraph stations.

This shows the activities of the present Postmaster-General. The record does not exhaust the changes he has made, and, though many of them may appear to be small, they have been a great convenience to the people, and the record shows how active the Minister has been. Now with regard to the Northern Territory, the Government are endeavouring to encourage private enterprise there to establish freezing works. We do not care to nationalize that business, in view of the risks indicated by the failure of nationalization of certain businesses in

Western Australia. If private people can be got to do this work in the Northern Territory, and we believe they can, the country will get the benefit of it. In Western Australia a number of matters were nationalized, but so far as the returns go, every one seems to have landed the country in a heavy loss.

Senator Pearce - That is not correct.

Senator McCOLL - I have the published statement here which shows that the Socialistic proposals have resulted, in 1911- 12, in a loss of £121,111; in 1912- 13, a loss of £190,404, and the loss on this year's operations, 1913-14, is estimated at £135,206, or a total loss for three years of £446,721.

Senator Pearce - But the honorable senator says that they all show a loss, and that is not correct.

Senator McCOLL - The figures indicate an aggregate loss in connexion with these proposals. There is one important thing which we have done in the Northern Territory. We have abandoned the Government laundry. We have retired some unnecessary officials who were being paid £2,600 per annum, and have distributed their duties amongst other officers. We have called for tenders for rails and sleepers for the Pine Creek to Katherine River railway, and expect that operations will be commenced on that line in a short time. Dr. Gilruth, the Administrator of the Northern Territory, has been in Melbourne for some months in consultation with the Minister of External Affairs, and Mr. Glynn has prepared a scheme of works and settlement for the Northern Territory which he is awaiting an opportunity to place before Parliament. In Papua the External Affairs Department has obtained a report on wharf extension, which is now under consideration, and the railway line from Port Moresby to Astrolabe has now been surveyed. We were successful in getting Mr. Deakin to represent Australia at the Panama Exhibition. I am sure we are all glad that we have been able to secure the services of such an able and distinguished man. In the Department of Home Affairs a good deal of work has been done. To begin with, we have abolished preference to unionists in Government employment, and we are employing contract labour where it is more suitable than day labour. We have appointed Mr. Bell as Engineer-in-Chief of Commonwealth railways. We are rearranging our electoral system, and we have appointed permanent Divisional Returning Officers. This step was taken on my initiative, and I think all parties will be satisfied with it. The revision of the rolls is now proceeding in each State. At the Federal Capital the Government found a rather serious state of affairs when they came into office. They found that the design of the Capital had been varied considerably by the departmental officers. As a matter of fact, Ministers found that, from some aspects, very little of Mr. Griffin's plan was left. This circumstance was brought under the notice of the late Government in a letter addressed to Mr. King O'Malley on the 30th November last year. That letter reads - 15 Collins-place,

Melbourne, 30th November, 1912.


In view of the press quotations to the effect that the " amended " Federal Capital plan, on view at the House, embodies tha salient merits of the three premiated designs, and that it is based principally upon the first design, I deem it my duty to yourself, and to those whose work it was my function to assist in judging, to submit the following facts : -

Examination of the "amended" plan, and a direct comparison with the photographs, &c., pf the premiated and other designs- with the details of which I am intimately acquainted- discloses -

(a)   That no portion of the second or third premiated design is embodied in the Departmental plan.

(b)   That a resemblance, modified by the inclusion of features from nonpremiated plans, can be traced between about one-twentieth of the area of the "amended" plan, and portions of the first prize design, which otherwise, and in spirit, in concept, and in execution, differs from it absolutely.

(c)   Whilst actual comparison shows almost total dissimilarity between the premiated and the " amended " designs, it shows a marked identity in respect to the dominating features of the "amended" plan, and portions of the designs numbered (arbitrarily) 9 and 10. The former design was not placed, But was recommended in the minority report of the chairman. The latter was rejected by all the judges, and is not mentioned in either the majority or minority report.

I have the honor to be, &c., (Sgd.) Jas. Alex. Smith.

The Hon. King O'Malley,

Minister for Home Affairs,

Russell-street, Melbourne.

That means that after we had paid Mr. Griffin £1,750 for his plan, that plan had been departed from to the extent that only about 20 per cent. of it was left. Other plans had been brought forward and included in the design. In order that the matter might be absolutely settled, the Government sent for the author of the premiated plan - for Mr. Griffin himself. He is now here under an arrangement which is very favorable to the Commonwealth. The writer of the letter which I have just read was one of the arbitrators in the matter of the designs for the Capital, who deemed it his duty to warn the Government of the way in which things were going. In the Department of Trade and Customs we have appointed the Inter-State Commission and staff. We have collected £150,000 by way of sugar bounty, which, owing to the remissness of our predecessors, was not collected by them, and which they have endeavoured to make it appeal we desired to present to our friends - an infamous suggestion.

Senator Pearce - Nobody has said that.

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