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Wednesday, 31 July 1912

Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) . - I move -

That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till to-morrow at 12 o'clock noon.

The justification for taking this course is the fact that serious charges have been made against an officer of the Commonwealth, and ought to be refuted at the earliest opportunity that is presented. I think that all the members of the Senate will agree that when the character of a man is attacked, especially when he is in the employ of the Government, and is to some extent prevented from defending himself, it is the duty of those who know that he is innocent to take advantage of the first opportunity to refute statements which have been made freely in.another place. I think that there has been no appointment made by this Government which calls for less outcry than does this appointment. Never, so far as I know, has there been a case in connexion with the Commonwealth where there has been such a tremendous outcry - in my opinion most unwarranted. I hold that the record of Mr. Chinn is such that the appointment will justify itself if it is dispassionately considered on its merits. I think that very good reasons, indeed, can be advanced in favour of the appointment. The charges of which I complain, and which I heard made in another place, are - first, that the appointment was not justified by the efficiency of the officer ; second, that Mr. Chinn's private character is such as may be termed unsatisfactory; and, third, that it was a political appointment.

Senator Millen - Are we at liberty to discuss what has taken place elsewhere?

Senator DE LARGIE - I do not, as a rule, object to interjections, but when my time is limited I think it is only reasonable to request that it should not be taken up by interjections. These charges have been niade against a man who cannot very well reply, and I take it upon myself to defend him, because I know that the appointment can be justified on all the grounds I have indicated.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - Where were the statements made ?

Senator DE LARGIE - In the House of Representatives.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - Have we a right to debate what has taken place there?

Senator DE LARGIE - I think that we have a right to debate charges made elsewhere about an officer, and I shall be surprised if the honorable senator tries for one moment to prevent the defence of a man who has been shamefully traduced on such flimsy ground. I shall now make quotations. First -

As a matter of fact, Mr. Chinn is not qualified as an engineer.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - If these are charges made in another House, is the honorable senator entitled to answer them here?

Senator DE LARGIE - The second, charge is -

There is not a single proof that he was ever engaged in any of the works which he indicates in his letter of application.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - It is a pity that there is nobody in the other House to stand up in his defence.

Senator DE LARGIE - Evidently the honorable senator is trying to " gag" me, and to prevent this man's appointment being justified.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - I do not want to take a point of order, sir, but I do object to the honorable senator charging me with trying to " gag " him.

Senator Barker - ignore interjections, and you will get your time.

Senator DE LARGIE - On any other occasion I would -reply to honorable senators, but my time is so limited that I must refuse to recognise any interjections. The third charge is -

Mr. Deanedid not favour Mr. Chinn's appointment. I challenge the Minister to deny that statement.

Another charge was -

To start with, he was unknown to him, and he had no testimonial from an engineering authority.

Senator Millen - Where were these statements made?

Senator Chataway - Is the honorable senator in order in quoting from statements made in the other House during the present session?

The PRESIDENT - I do not know that what the honorable senator was quoting was from a debate in the other House. Our Standing Orders do not permit an honorable senator to allude, to any debate in the current session in the Houseof Representatives on any measure pending therein.

Senator Needham - This is not a measure.

The PRESIDENT - Nor can an honorable senator quote from the Hansard report of a debate in another place.

Senator DE LARGIE - I am not saying where the statements were made.

Senator St Ledger - Oh, let him- go on.

Senator DE LARGIE - Yes, the honorable senator cannot block me. Another statement made was -

Further than that, he had never given any satisfaction wherever he had been employed.

That is a pretty mean sort of thing to say about a man.

I know that from several sources. I think it has been proved that Mr. Chinn's appointment was not justified by his career as an engineer, that he has never won his spurs, and that those for whom he has worked have not a good word to say for him.

Another spiteful and vindictive statement.

Senator Millen - That is from page 1096 of Hansard, , I think.

Senator DE LARGIE - Is that so? Is it there too? The attacks were reported in the Argus and the Age, but apart from that I was present and heard them myself. Again -

I want to know whether the Minister made inquiries regarding Mr. Chinn's general character. The character of a man counts _ for something. I trust, therefore, that the Minister will give us very satisfactory proofs that he has made inquiries regarding Mr. Chinn's character, and that the replies are of a thoroughly satisfactory nature in all respects. I have no hesitation whatever in saying that the man is totally unfit to occupy this position.

This is the last quotation-

Senator Millen - Quotation ? From Hansard again?


Surely it would be better to appoint such men than to employ people of whom we know nothing, and for whom no one has a good word to say.

Now, in reply to these charges, I should like to read certain testimonials which were given to Mr. Chinn some years ago, and some of them at a more recent date. They bear out fully his professional character, and also show his private character to be in all senses satisfactory. The first testimonial which I shall quote is dated August 15th, 1885, and is signed by Mr. E. O. Moriarty, Engineer-in-Chief Harbor and Rivers Department, New South Wales. That gentleman ought to be an authority as to whether an engineer is competent or not, and this is what he says -

Harbors and Rivers Dept., Sydney, 15th August, 1885.

Mr. HenryChinn, in severing his connexion with my Department, gives me the opportunity of testifying to his ability and zeal as a civil engineer and surveyor during the six years he was an officer under me.

For the whole of the above mentioned period he has been engaged in connexion with the new Sydney Water Supply scheme and Sydney Harbors and Rivers works under my immediate control, which brought him in direct contact with me, and it affords me the greatest satisfaction to place on record my appreciation of his abilities as a professional gentleman, and, at the same time, my regret at losing an officer whose services I greatly .value, and who has always been a distinct gain to the Department over which I preside.

E.   O. Moriarty,


The next testimonial which I shall quote is signed by Mr. J. F'alkingham, a wellknown railway contractor in Victoria, who built some of the biggest works in this State, as well as in other States. He built, for instance, the Korumburra line, which cost something like a million pounds. He says - "Warleigh" Brighton, Victoria, 23rd April, 1903.

Mr. HenryChinn, civil engineer, has been employed by me during a great number of years as engineer in charge of construction, &c, on almost all the large contracts I have engaged in, and I can, without the slightest hesitation, speak of him in the very highest terms as a professional gentleman.

I have carried out some of the largest contracts in New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania, under both the Governments and Harbor Boards of these States, also many of the underground contracts in connexion with the sewerage scheme of Melbourne, and I owe a deal of my success to the untiring energy and marked (ability displayed by Mr. Chinn as my engineer in all these works.

To hear of .his further success will give not only me great pleasure, but the great body of contractors, with whom he is deservedly popular, and it is due to him to state he is an engineer of exceptional ability, and that no more competent and popular gentleman in his profession is known to me.

J.   Falkingham,

Railway Contractor.

The next testimonial which I shall quote is from Messrs. Garnsworthy and Smith, railway contractors, Victoria, who have built some of the most difficult lines in the Commonwealth. The Tasmanian senators may know some of the railways which this firm has constructed, and will be able to refer to them more intimately than I can. For instance, the North Mount Lyell line was built by this firm, and nearly all the scientific work for it was drawn up by Mr. Chinn. The firm wrote on the 14th August, 1898-

Collins-street West, Melbourne, 14th August, 1898.

Dear. Sir, -

At your request, we have much pleasure in committing to paper our appreciation of the valuable services rendered by you as our engineer in connexion with various contracts carried out by us under the Public Works and Railway Departments and Melbourne Harbor Trust.

The construction of the new entrance to the Gippsland Lakes was a work that necessitated more than the ordinary amount of foresight and skill, and we are confident the successful issue was only brought about by the untiring energy and exceptional ability displayed by you.

So much were we impressed with you on the above works that we determined to engage you on all future contracts, and, in every instance, for a period of about eleven years, your professional knowledge on all classes of works proved invaluable to us.

It would be hard to single out any particular branch of engineering to eulogize you on, for you are equally familiar with harbor and river works, sewerage, and railway construction, and as the sewerage works of Melbourne were some of the most difficult ever carried out ia

Australia, the successful issue you brought our contracts to demands the highest praise from us.

We trust your career will be a prosperous one, and feel confident, if the opportunities only present themselves, you will do full justice to your office and continue to earn further distinction in your profession.

Faithfully yours,

Garnsworthy & Smith,


The next document which I shall quote is dated 1901, and is signed by a gentleman who was known to many of us. I challenge any of those who knew him to say w hether he was at all likely to give a testimonial unless he was perfectly sure of his man. The gentleman to whomI refer was no less a person that the late Senator Sir William Zeal, who signs himself "civil and consulting engineer." In this letter, Sir William Zeal wrote -

St. James' Buildings, Melbourne, 15th October,1901..

For sixteen years or over I have been closely connected with Mr. H. Chinn, civil engineer and licensed surveyor, during which time I have had every opportunity of gauging his abilities, through being associated with him professionally.

I consider he ranks amongst the foremost of his profession, and from my knowledge of the works undertaken and carried out by him (which include railway, sewerage, harbors and rivers, and water works), I am warranted in speaking of him in the highest terms, and I am sure that in whatever capacity he may be employed his energetic and painstaking abilities will be recognised as those belonging to a high standard of efficiency.

W.   A. Zeal,

Civil and Consulting Engineer.

This is the last of these testimonials which I intend to read, though it does not by any means exhaust the list of such testimonials to which reference might, be made. I have here a testimonial from a gentleman occupying a very high position in Victoria. I allude to Sir John Madden, LieutenantGovernor and Chief Justice of the State. His word will not be challenged by any one who knows him. He writes -

Judges' Chambers,

Supreme Court,

Melbourne, 20th July, 1903.

Dear Mr. Chinn.

I send you herewith a testimonial which I hope is such as you desire and will prove in every way satisfactory.

John Madden. [Testimonial.]

Mr. HenryChinn, civil engineer, has been personally known to me for many years in Melbourne as a gentleman of high integrity and good professional standing.

His ability as an engineer and surveyor is undoubted, and his large experience in that direction thoroughly qualifies him to hold the position of engineer, for which he is an applicant.

He is also of good address and well informed of business ways, and is held in high esteem by those who have been associated with him.

John Madden.

Senator Vardon - Has the honorable senator a testimonial from Mr. Justice Hood?

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