Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Thursday, 19 October 1911

Senator MCDOUGALL (New South Wales) . - I move -

That, in the opinion of the Senate, all Government establishments for the manufacture or supply of goods for the Federal Public Service should (when practicable) be located in the Federal Capital Territory.

I do not intend to take up much of the time of the Senate in discussing .this motion. I have one or two reasons to put forward why the whole of the factories for the supply of goods for the Commonwealth should be established in Federal Territory. One reason is that we have spent, and are spending, an enormous sum of money in the rent and purchase of sites for factories, whilst we have land of our own in the Federal Territory on which they might be established. We have spent £139,100 in acquiring land for this purpose, and in renting warehouses to meet departmental requirements. No doubt it will be necessary to continue to have warehouses in all the capital cities of the Commonwealth. It must be obvious that factories for the manufacture of all the requirements for our military service should be established in Commonwealth Territory, whether in view of possible aggression from outside Australia, or of trouble which might arise within the Commonwealth. Such things have happened in other parts of the world, and they may happen in Australia. I do not say for a moment that they will, and I hope that they never twill happen; but he is a wise man who can foretell the future- Our factories for the supply of rifles, ammunition, and other requirements of our Defence Force could be easily cut off from the coal supplies which are necessary to keep them working. That will be admitted to be very undesirable. There are in the Federal Territory all the fuel and other requirements necessary to keep them going. Presuming the occurrence of trouble within the Commonwealth between States, or sections of States, the people in part of a State might be in- a position to control the whole of the Commonwealth by cutting off necessary military supplies, unless the factories are established in Commonwealth Territory, and can be guarded by the Commonwealth Forces. On the route of the proposed railway from the Federal Capital to Jervis Bay," there are valuable seams of coal ; and in the Federal Territory there is almost everything that would be necessary to equip our factories. At present, we are depending for the supply of coal for our factories upon sources from which it has to be carried many miles, and that coal supply might easily be cut off. We have a small arms factory in a part of one State; a cordite factory, a harness factory and a clothing factory in another State. We shall require to establish factories for the manufacture of electrical appliances for the Post and Telegraph Department, and of field guns and waggons; and I am of opinion that all our factories to supply Commonwealth requirements should be located as closely as possible to each other, and within the Federal Territory, that they may be controlled by the Commonwealth authorities. Another matter which has to be considered is that it is almost impossible to keep a. set of men working in one factory all the year round. We may be able to keep experts going; but as soon as we get a reasonable supply of the articles required by the Commonwealth, we shall find it very difficult to keep the generalhands and assistants going in our factories. If all our factories were established close together in the Federal Territory, the labour might be made interchangeable. Men might be worked in one factory until its output had met requirements, and they could then work in another. It would not be necessary for them to go, as they may have to do now, from one State to another, looking for work. It is necessary that we should adopt some means of keeping our hands constantly employed, and my idea is that we should have our factories established close together within the Federal Territory.

Senator St Ledger - The honorable senator would change the bootmaker of to-day into the gunmaker of to-morrow.

Senator MCDOUGALL - I am sorry that Senator St. Ledger does not understand the matter. I said that it would be necessary to keep the experts employed in these factories; but there will be many employed in them as assistants who will not be experts, and those are the people to whom I refer. It would not be necessary for them to be gunmakers to-day, bootmakers to-morrow, or lawyers the next" day. Another reason why our factories should be established together is that the cost of working may be reduced. We now have factories established in different parts of the Commonwealth at a working cost for each which would not be exceeded by the cost of working the whole of them together if they were established close to each other. An electric plant might be provided which would reduce the present working cost by two-thirds, and would result in the saving of many thousands of pounds to the Commonwealth every year. Now that we have lots of money, we need not think of the question of cost; but there may come a time in the history of the Commonwealth when we will be sorry that we did not look at the cost when our factories were being established. We might also, by the establishment of our factories close together in the Federal Territory, greatly reduce the cost of control. In all those now established, there are managers, bookkeepers, timekeepers, and paymasters. In each one of them a staff has to be employed. If these staffs were collected in the Federal Territory, the cost of control would be reduced by at least one-half. That is another consideration that should induce the Senate to vote for my motion. The cost of the maintenance of the small arms factory, the cordite factory, the harness factory, and the clothing factory, will be increased in the future.But that cost would be immensely reduced if the. work were concentrated in the Federal Territory. Another reason why I think these factories should be placed close together in the Federal Territory is that, in the near future, several thousands of men will have to be employed in the Federal Territory for the making of roads and bridges, and the erection of buildings. If we have 15,000 men at work there it is probable that there will be from 1,500 to 1,750 lads and girls, children of the workmen, requiring employment. If the heads of homes are located in the Federal Territory, employment will be required for their offspring. In cities like Melbourne and Sydney there are always plenty of avenues of employment for young people. But at present there are no avenues of employment for the sons and daughters of the workmen in the Federal Territory.I can see a grave danger in this. If we do not find employment for these people the lads and girls will have to be sent into the big cities to find work. That is most undesirable. It is true that we are suffering from a want of juvenile labour. Undoubtedly factories require juvenile labour to some extent. But, at the same time, there is a want of employment for parents. Parents have not sufficient work to do to keep them, and that is largely the reason why there are not enough of the offspring of the working classes to supply the wants of the factories. We should see to it that there is work for the young people to do at the Seat of Government. I say nothing now about the suitability of Yass-Canberra as a place to live in. Parliament, however, has determined upon the Capital site, and I am one of those who say that this Parliament should go into its home there as soon as possible. I believe, for my own part, that temporary accommodation could soon be provided to enable us to hold the sittings of Parliament there. It would be a good idea if, during the time when those buildings are being erected, Parliament could meet in the Northern Territory. It would be a good experience for all of us.

Suggest corrections