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Wednesday, 13 April 1921

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - All the jobs worth having had gone.

The iSecretariat is a permanent body, while the Assembly, to which it is theoretically responsible, meets only once a year for a month or so, and will of a certainty present each yeaT a changed personnel. It is, therefore, doubtful if cither effective or continuous supervision can be expected unless some radical changes in the system are brought about

The effect of this absence of control was revealed in the pointed reluctance, amounting almost to refusal, to supply certain detailed information regarding the staff and salaries. An effort was made, supported by the majority of British-speaking delegates, to submit the estimates to close scrutiny, and to devise means for more effective control over expenditure, but time was too limited to permit of this being done effectively. However, it was decided to recommend the Council to appoint a Committee to inquire into and report upon the organization and work pf the Secretariat; and a further resolution was adopted, at my instance, affirming that the salaries now being paid were not to be regarded as permanently approved until the report had been received.

Senator Rowell - "Who fixed the salaries ?

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The "Big Four," as they were known, appointed a Secretary-General at the salary I have mentioned, and he is the gentleman who fixed the other salaries, and, apparently, in doing so was guided by the standard of his own remuneration.

This matter is of special importance to Australia, because this country is called upon to pay a most unfair proportion of the League's expenditure. This arises from the fact that the Covenant distributes the cost of the League among its members according to the scheme of distribution employed by the Postal Union. Under the scheme Australia is required to pay the same amount as Great Britain and France, namely £55,000, much more than many countries of bigger population and trade. I made a very persistent effort to secure some immediate amelioration of this state of affairs, but it was not easy to rouse enthusiasm in those delegates whose countries had every reason to be satisfied with the existing system. However, it was decided at the eleventh hour to authorize the preparation of a more equitable scheme to be presented to the next Assembly, with the further proviso that, should this scheme be adopted, there should be retrospective adjustments for the year 1921. If, therefore, a new scheme is adopted at the next Assembly, Australia will receive in 1922 a rebate to the extent of her overpayment this year.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Have all the nations paid up?

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I cannot answer the question as referring to the present moment, but I do know that one delegation that made somewhat of a sensation by withdrawing had, up to the time of its withdrawal, not paid a single penny.

Senator Bakhap - It was going on the no liability principle.

Senator Benny - Was that the Argentine delegation?

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I should not like to conclude this statement without a recognition of the services of the staff which accompanied me. Those services were marked by great ability, and were rendered ungrudgingly and with untiring energy. The work of the Assembly was apportioned out amongst six Committees, and it was the common practice for two or more of these to meet simultaneously. It would have been absolutely impossible for me to have kept myself informed as to their proceedings' but for the active assistance of the gentlemen to whom I refer. I wish to express my personal obligation to them, and to tell this House that no country could have been better served than Australia was by Mr. Knowles, of the Attorney-General's Department, Mr. Collins, of the Treasury, and Mr. Gourgaud., of the Works and Railways Department, who accompanied me as Secretary.

I have dealt with the matters which I regarded as constituting my principal task as Australia's delegate. To those I almost entirely devoted myself to the best of my ability, and with a result that I hope will be regarded with satisfaction. I should not, however, be discharging my duty if I did not tell my countrymen that I have come away from the Assembly a little disappointed, a little depressed. I hope that statement will not be interpreted as indicating a want of sympathy with the object for which this League was created. There is no justification for such an interpretation. I consider it the duty of every individual, as of every nation, to strive to make this League an effective instrument for the discharge of the high purpose for which it was designed. I earnestly wish that I could tell Australia that I rhad the most complete confidence in the League and its future - that I could tell Australia that with perfect safety it could beat ite swords into ploughshares and its spears into pruning hooks. But I cannot, and I conceive it to be my duty to say so plainly and" definitely. Let us work for the strengthening of the ideals which the League represents; meanwhile let us not be lulled into the sleep of a false security, nor neglect those precautions which our circumstances require and which prudence suggests.

Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear!

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I lay on the table of the Senate: Copy of Agreement with the Imperial Chancellor of the Exchequer, Copy of the Mandate, Copy of the Memorandum by the Belgian Representative which was adopted by the Council, and a copy of my Statement. I move -

That the papers be printed.

Debate (on motion by Senator Gardiner) adjourned.

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