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Wednesday, 21 July 1915

Senator SENIOR - I am glad to hear that interjection. New occasions teach new duties. If we are going to send our young men to the front, we must have somepersons to take their places.

Senator Pearce - To obtain particulars from the 82,000 females we should have to distribute nearly 2,000,000 cards.

Senator SENIOR - We learn from the reports which have come to us that in Germany the places of the men who have gone to the front are being filled by women and the aged in cultivation and manufactures. It seems to me that no reasonable objection can be taken to obtaining the information with respect to females. The women of Australia will feel that they have an interest in this matter. It may involve the distribution of a great number of additional cards.

Senator Pearce - And delay.

Senator SENIOR - Provision is made under the Bill that the persons who are obliged to fill up the cards must procure them for themselves. This will mean the distribution of the cards only to certain centres.

Senator Pearce - Obtaining information from females will involve additional delay in sorting out the cards.

Senator SENIOR - If that be so, the cards filled up by females may be put aside until those sent in by males have been considered.

Senator Pearce - All the cards will come in together, and we should have to separate those sent in by males from those sent in by females.

Senator SENIOR - I am surprised at the interjection, because the separation will be easy enough in view of the fact that the cards will have to be sorted over a dozen times or more.

Senator Mullan - Cards of different colours might be distributed for males and females.

Senator SENIOR - That is .so. Those sent by females might be set aside until the others are dealt with.

Senator McKISSOCK - God forbid that Australia should see the day when it will be necessary to get women to do men's work.

Senator SENIOR - "We might just as well say God forbid that there will ever be another war like that in which we are now engaged. We are up against a tough job,, and it would be better to utilize the labour we have than it would be, for instance, to import coolie labour. There will be many men taken from our factories who might be replaced by women,and unless I have not read their character aright, I have little doubt that when their husbands and bro;hers are fighting for the country, the women of Australia will be anxious and ready to do their share. The first schedule might be considerably improved by requiring men to state what qualifications they have for employment in trades and callings other than those in which they happen at present to be engaged. If a man has a knowledge of telegraphy, or a knowledge of engines of any kind, we should have that information. If this census is to be carried out at all, we should make it as useful as possible. We do not want superfluous information, but we want all the information we can get, not for the mobilization of our forces, but for their organization in such a way as will best prepare us for the work we have to do.

Senator Keating - We want something more definite than would be supplied in answer to question 9.

Senator SENIOR - I agree with the honorable senator. I have done many things in the course of my life, though I do not think that my knowledge of any of them would be of very much value from the stand-point of the Minister of Defence.

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - It would be interesting reading.

Senator SENIOR - They would afford matter for a biographical sketch which might create some smiles. My fear is that a question so vague is likely to be answered in a frivolous or indefinite way, and if there is anything that we need in this connexion it is definite information. Wo want to be in a position to make the best use of the service of every man and woman in the Commonwealth for the benefit of the community as a whole. It is of infinitely greater importance to us at this juncture to know the capabilities of a. man than to know what was the nationality of his father or mother. I should raise no objection to requiring that information in a general census, but I cannot see that it will be of very much advantage in promoting the objects of the proposed war census. Looking through the second schedule, I have been at a loss to know how a man is to state the capitalized value of a partnership interest, which is a very variable quantity. A partnership interest in a business to-day might be worth very little, and in twelve months' time it might be worth a great deal. Partnership interests in businesses that have suffered by reason of the drought have shrunk in value to almost nothing, whereas twelve months or two years ago they were of considerable value. The value of partnership interests is as unstable as the price of shares. The questions proposed are not likely to supply the information we want as to the capital value of the wealth of Australia. It is strange that it did not strike the framer of question 4 of the second schedule that information in respect to the number of motor cars or motor cycles possessed by the people would not be nearly so useful as information as to the number of motor lorries in their possession. The information might be covered by the expression " other vehicles."

Senator Millen - Does the honorable senator think that "motor car" will not cover " motor lorry " ?

Senator SENIOR - I think it would have been better to have definitely mentioned motor lorries.

Senator Millen - The use of the expression "motor vehicles"would meet the difficulty.

Senator SENIOR - That would be much better. Knowing the usefulness of motor lorries, I mention this matter in order that we may obtain information of considerable value. It has to be admitted that the Bill was prepared inhaste, and there are many excuses for its defects. We are attempting an experiment, and are treading new ground. I tried to obtain the schedules used in connexion with the collection of income tax in South Australia, but I was unable to do so. If I had been able to get them, I think it would have been possible to have suggested several lines from them which would have served as a drag-net to reveal wealth, which, under the schedule proposed in this Bill, may be covered up. It is as necessary that we should know what the wealth of Australia is as that we should know the number of men we can place in the field. Those two matters are correlated-, and we cannot divide them. If a demand is made on the manhood of Australia, we shall then know that a demand will also be made on the wealth of Australia. If the one replies, as it has already done by such a gallant and unstinting sacrifice, I fail to see how the other can be kept back. The question raised by Senator Gould regarding the disposition to legislate by regulation is an important one. It seems to me that there is an everlasting tendency on the part of Governments, whether Labour or Liberal, to legislate in this manner. Nearly every Bill that comes in contains a clause that the Governor-General in Council may make regulations, and very often after those regulations are made, the time allowed goes by before objection can be taken to them. Regulations sometimes are so numerous, are spread over so many different subjects, and are made or altered so frequently, that it would take up a great deal of an honorable senator' s time if he set out with the object simply of watching them. Here is another case in point. This Bill even provides that schedules shall be provided under the regulations. The regulations may be good, but I say the schedules should have been in this Bill, so that we might have examined them more closely to see whether they are sufficient, or whether they are objectionable.

Senator O'Keefe - The question is whether Parliament shall frame the schedules or the Committee.

Senator SENIOR - The question has been raised as to whether we are acting wisely in regard to the Committee.It was never intended as a legislative Committee, but rather as an advisory Committee, and here we are practically expecting it to take up the work that should have been done in this Parliament. If the Bill had not been prepared in such haste it would probably have contained the schedules so that we could have examined all the particulars of information sought. I have nothing to say in objection to the spirit of the measure, or the desire of the Government to obtain information, but I hope that we shall not find, in a few days, that we shall have to amend the legislation that we are now considering.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In Committee:

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 (Operation of Act).

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