1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. HUME COOK presented a petition from John Robertson, M.A., of Moonee Ponds, praying the House to take into consideration the state of the money laws, with a view to their reform.
Mr. TUDOR presented a petition from the cement manufacturers of the Commonwealth, praying the House to retain the duty upon cement at 9d. percwt.
Mr. R. EDWARDS presented a petition from certain residents in the electorateof Woollongabba, near Brisbane, protesting against the removal of the post-offico from Logan-road to Stanley-street, South Brisbane.
Petitions received and read.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs considered the advisability of introducing a short Bill to amend the Customs Act, so as to ameliorate in some degree the position of those who commit errors in connexion with the transaction of Customs business, without impairing the power of the Minister to deal as stringently as passible with those who are guilty of attempts to defraud the revenue 1
-A number of matters connected with Customs administration now form the subject of ministerial consideration, particularly in connexion with communications which I have recently received from Chambers of Commerce and other bodies in reply to my request for information. I have not finally dealt with those communications, and am unable at this momentto give my honorable friend the answer he desire; ; but if he will give notice of his question, I shall be glad to answer it at a later date.
– I wish to know from the Acting Minister of De- fence whether he has received from MajorGeneral Hutton replies to his questions as to the employment of the ten drill instructors who were recently sent to South Australia? I ask the question because I have been told on very good authority that there is a real danger of the men taking to drink as the result of sheer want of employment?
-I do not think there is the danger which the honorable member fears. The General Officer Commanding has been in Sydney for the past ten days or a fortnight, and perhaps for that reason I have not yet received replies to the questions which I have asked.
– Yesterday, being a State holiday in South Australia, was observed in the Defence and Customs departments there, but the men belonging to the Post and Telegraph departments were, through some blunder, compelled to attend at the various offices, and were kept at work for about two hours. A similar mistake occured in regard to the observance of Easter Saturday. I should like to know how the blunder happened, and what rule is to be adopted by the department in the future ?
-The Postmaster-General has inquired into the matter, and has ascertained that the mistake occurred because, while the regulations issued by the Post and Telegraph department make provision for the observance of certain holidays only, these have been overridden by the determination of the Government that all holidays proclaimed by the Government of any State shall be observed by the Commonwealth officers in that State. The two holidays to which the honorable and learned member for South Australia has referred arc statutory holidays which should have been, and, in future will be, observed by the Past and Telegraph officials in that State.
– Is it intended to give the men who were compelled to work yesterday another day?
– Some concession may be extended to them but I understand that they were kept at work for only two hours.
– Has the ActingPrime Minister received any communication from the Governor or Premier of New South Wales in regard to the condition of affairs at Norfolk Island, and, if so, does he object to lay it on the table ?
– So far as I remember, we have received no communication on -the subject from the Premier of New South Wales, but a few weeks ago an enquiry was made through the Governor of that State - in whom, and not in the Government of New South Wales, the control of the island isvested - as to the willingness of the Commonwealth to take charge of Norfolk Island if he desired to transfer his authority to the Commonwealth. Our reply was that the Commonwealth is willing to accept the responsibility.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General aware that some of the men of the telegraph construction branch are paid their wages at the beginning of the month, and others not until many days afterwards?
– Does the honorable member refer to men working at the same place?
-Yes ; and engaged upon the same job. I am referring to what has taken place in Sydney. This practice has been in existence for several months. I wish to know if the Postmaster-General will see that it is discontinued. I havealready brought it under the notice of the Government.
-The attention of the Postmaster-General will be called to the matter. This is the first occasion upon which it has been mentioned, so far as my knowledge goes.
-Will the Acting Prime Minister make a short statement to the House in regard to the business for the remainder of the session ?
– It is absolutely impossible to deal with either the Judiciary Bill or the High Court Procedure Bill this session ; but my former statement on the subject has been misunderstood. I did not attribute to the House the desire not to pass those measures, nor did I assert that there is a majority opposed to them. What I said was that at this period of the session a large number of honorable members, especially on the Opposition side of the Chamber, consider that time will not permit of their being dealt with. The Loan Bill, Loan Appropriation Bill, Government Inscribed Stock Bill, and Interim Payments Bill are Bills which depend upon the acceptance by the House of the Budget proposals of the Treasurer. In addition to those, I know of no measure of importance remaining to bo dealt with, except the Bonus Bill, which is set down for consideration this afternoon. We have been asked to introduce a measure to amend one section of the Public Service Act, to provide for greater convenience in administration, and another minorfinancial measure has been mentioned, while the acting leader of the Opposition this afternoon asked the Minister for Trade and
Customs if he intends to introduce an amendment of the Customs Act. With similar exceptions, the notice-papers ofthis and the other Chamber contain practically the whole of the business with which we intend to conclude the session. Although the message of the Senate relating to the Customs Tariff Bill cannot be received until tomorrow, it has, I believe, been published in extenso in the press, and I hope, therefore, that as time is extremely valuable, honorable members will be prepared to enter upon its consideration directly it is received.
-If we can dispose of the Bonuses for Manufactures Bill, the Customs Tariff Bill, and the Electoral Bill this week, there will be only the financial Bills to deal with, and if the Treasurer will not be prepared until this day fortnight to proceed with those measures it might be possible for the House to adjourn for a week.
-Providing that we do dispose of the Bonuses for Manufactures Bill and the Customs Tariff Bill, and that the Senate does not this week dispose of the Electoral Bill, it might be unnecessary for us to meet next week, but we have to recollect that under our most inconvenient standing order both Houses must be sitting in order that a message may be transmitted from one to the other, so that any arrangement will have to be subject to the progress made this week.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– As the honorable member is aware, the preference or discrimination alluded to can be determined only by the Inter-State Commission. He is also doubtless aware that that commission can deal with only Inter-State trade.
– Does the honorable and learned gentleman say that this is not InterState trade?
– No ; but as to how far any traffic under section 102 may be InterState trade, I am not sufficiently informed to be able to. say.
– Cannot the Government proceed under section 117?
– I think not.
– It is just as well to test it as regards railway rates.
– The honorable and learned member refers to a disability or discrimination.
– I think that the Victorian and South Australian rates are bad under that section.
– They would then be bad for a very special reason, and in a very special way. It would not be possible to rely on that section to the extent that the honorable member for Coolgardie evidently desires in the questions which he asks. For their solution the creation of the commission is necessary, and then the scope of its authority is limited to following what it may determine to be or the courts may hold to be Inter-State trade.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether his attention has been directed to a letter signed “Mercator,” published in the Ben- digo Advertiser on Kith August, in which complaint is made of the irksome regulations and formalities insisted upon in connexion with the transit of goods from one State into another ; and whether, in view of the long lapse of time since the commencement ofuniform Federal duties, and thegradual and probable exhaustion of stocks imported into Australia before that date, he can see his way toreduce and mitigate the severity of some of the bookkeeping forms and rules at present enforced ?
– The answer to the honorable and learned member’s question is as follows : -
The Government have under their most serious consideration the provision of further facilities in relation to Inter-State trade, and they propose before the end of next week to issue the necessary regulations. They have the utmost sympathy with the proposal to remove all restrictions on Inter-State free-trade, which can be removed consistently with proper regard to the Constitution Act. This removal is now snore possible and desirable than originally, because of the smaller amount receivable under section 92. The amount collected under this section of the Constitution is also rapidly diminishing. It only totalled £9,130 for the half-year ending June 30th, 1902. Further, its rapid decrease is indicated by the fact that for July, 1902, it was only £1,126, as follows : -
Also as regards New South Wales and Tasmania, the two States in respect of which only it has been possible to yet obtain the August figures, the amounts fell from £68 and£226 to £54 and £125. Figures such as these induce consideration of the question whether future collections under the section are desirable in view of the small results as compared with the trouble involved, but the rights of the States chiefly interested must of course be specially considered.
Our wish is to make Inter-State free-trade a matter of fact at the earliest possible opportunity.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable and learned member’s questions, I have to state -
asked the Acting Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Referring to the reply given in the Senate on the 8th July last, to the effect that the members of the Head-Quarters’ Staff have not been attested -
Has the Federal Military Commandant been sworn in ?
If so, under what Act or Acts ?
– In reply to the honorable and learned member’s questions I hare to state -
Nos. 1 and 2. - No.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable and learned member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Acting Minister for Defence,upon notice -
South Australian Militia Pay.
The local military forces expected that under federation their pay would be increased so as to bring it up to that in the other States ; but instead, a General Order just issued announces that “ special pay “ will be stopped. Hitherto the men received special pay for guards of honour and other special duties, the buglers and band men for practising, and non-coms for giving instructions outside their own company, and officers for various duties. Under the new regulations a captain who subscribes to the Military Club will be about 10s. better off than a private, and a lieutenant will be £1 worse.
– In reply to the honorable member’s questions, I desire to state -
Sergeant, £9 15s.
Lieut. -Colonel, £40.
In regard to the respective rates of horse allow ance, it is pointed out that in Victoria, officers drawing same require to be in possession of horses available for duty during the period for which the allowance is claimed, whereas in South Australia officers have only to provide suitable horses for parade purposes.
Private, £7 8s.
Corporal, £8 12s. 8d.
Sergeant, £95s. 2nd Lieutenant, £.15 8s. 4d. 1st Lieutenant, £18 10s.
Captain, £24 13s. 4d.
Major, £30 16s. 8d.
Lieut. -Colonel, £43 3s. 4d.
Forage allowance, £17 (horses to be the bona fide property of officers entitled to forage allowance).
asked the Acting Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable and learned member’s questions, I have to state - 1.Under the Imperial Army Act.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : - 1 and 2. Only upon monolines and outside packages. Monolines were held to be entitled to the same treatment as linotypes. The amount is not at this moment available, but will be furnished if so desired. The refunds in respect of outside packages were as regards duty paid before loth November. Wines, in bond or on the water and over the prescribed strength at the time of the Tariff introduction, were allowed to be treated similarly with spirits.
asked the Acting Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable member’s questions, I beg tostate : -
The General Officer Commanding is not in a position yet to recommend any change in the existing establishment. Many other applications besides this are involved, and consideration will be given to all of thorn as soon as possible.
– Several questions have been asked in reference to what action has been taken regarding a railway connexion between the eastern States and Western Australia, and I now lay upon the table a precis of the information which has been obtained up to the present time. Other questions have been asked regarding the aetion being taken concerning the torpedo boats and obsolete ammunition in New South Wales, and also, I think, in Victoria, and I now lay upon the table a report from the Admiral, which is being acted upon.
– Referring to the order of the day for the further reconsideration of this Bill, I move -
That the standing orders be suspended in order to enable a motion to be moved that the Bill be referred to a select committee.
I have had an opportunity of consulting with those who are entitled to express an opinion on the question, whether, under existing circumstances, the standing orders would allow of a second attempt being made to refer the Bill to a select committee.
– Is this a motion of censure?
– I do not know whether the honorable member is attempting to help the Government by making a remark of that sort, but so far as I can see it is not a motion of censure, particularly as I do not think that the House was fully aware of the circumstances which might occur when the standing order was passed. It provides that no proposal to refer a Bill to a select committee can be entertained after it has been ‘reported by the Chairman. We all know that this Bill was reported by the Chairman for the purpose of assisting the Government and the House to reconsider certain proposals without the formal necessity of coming to a decision in the meantime upon the clauses subsequent to the third one, on which considerable debate had taken place. Seeing that it was done for the convenience of the House, it seems to me that the Government ought to offer no opposition to a proposal, which, under other circumstances, would have been quite in order. It may be remembered that on the last occasion the proposal to refer the Bill to a select committeewas not voted upon.. The proposal to create a blank was negatived, and, therefore, we did not get a decision on the main question. It seems to me that every stage of the debate on the Bill goes further to show the necessity of holding an inquiry before a final decision is arrived at.
– Had not the honorable member better address himself simply to the suspension of the standing orders ? .
– If the Government are willing to allow this motion to go, I do not desire to occupy the time of the House at this stage in discussing it, but’if I do not now give some reasons’ for suspending the standing orders the debate may proceed, and I shall not have a chance to speak until I rise to reply. If it had been thought that the standing orders would debar a resort to any course which was open previous to the Chairman reporting the Bill, probably the reporting stage would not have been reached so easily as it was. In view of all these considerations, I think it would be a proper thing for the Government to agree to the motion. In any case, I submit that the House is entitled to take a vote on the question whether the Bill should not be reconsidered. I defer any argument as to the necessity for the appointment of a committee until the House has decided this motion. If the debate does take the wider range I shall have an opportunity in reply of saying something in regard to it.
– The Government do not propose to oppose the motion for the suspension of the standing orders, because they think it is an easy way of getting the opinion of the House. I point out also that it would be competent for the honorable member after we had thrashed out the Bill in committee, and probably upon the motion for the third reading, to move a similar motion to that which he now proposes to submit, and, if the course were adopted, we should have lost thetimeoccupied in the discussion of the Bill in committee. The Government will, therefore, consent to the suspension of the standing orders in order that the motion to refer the Bill to a select committee may be moved, and to that motion we shall be happy to give our hearty opposition.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Mr. WATSON (Bland). - I move-
That the Bill be referred to a select committee and that such committee consist of the Minister for Trade and Customs, Sir Edward Braddon, Mr. Joseph Cook, Mr. Winter Cooke, Mr. L. E. Groom, Mr. Hughes, Mr. Kirwan, Mr. Mauger, Mr. Watkins, and the mover.
First of all, with regard to the composition of the proposed committee, I may say that it is at all times a difficult thing to propose any committee of members which will be satisfactory to the whole of the House from the variety of points of view that must necessarily be taken into consideration in respect to a matter such as this. I have attempted to provide that each State shall have some representation upon the committee, and I have attempted also to fairly divide the committee in the matter of fiscal opinion so that no undue preference shall be given to one side or the other in that regard. So far as possible, of course, I submit the names of honorable members, who from other associations have had an opportunity of hearing or knowing a little of the subject. I may further say that if the House chooses to adopt the course frequently adopted in dealing with motions of this description, the first portion of the motion may be voted upon separately, and should it be carried the composition of the committee can be arranged in the usual way. With regard to the main idea of referring the Bill to a select committee, I may in the first place point to the fact that on the last occasion when a similar proposal was made, it was confined principally to the establishment of State iron works. On this occasion I propose that the range of the committee’s investigation should be very much wider. Since that time the debate in committee on the measure has disclosed, to my mind, the necessity for further detailed .information : this has been more emphatically impressed upon honorable members at every stage of the Bill. If it is assumed that: the House
Or the country is justified in granting bonuses to private individuals, the amount necessary to be set aside for that object must be a matter of moment and a matter for inquiry so far as this House is concerned. To arrive at a correct conclusion in that regard it seems to me that we ought to know first the cheapness as compared with deposits in other countries, with which the iron deposits in Australia can be worked j the amount of capital which it will be necessary to invest in the undertaking, and the probability, or otherwise, with the assistance of a bonus, of the industry being carried on without any large amount of duty in the future. All these considerations should be taken into account before we say what bonus, if any, ought to be paid. We cannot in this matter accept ex parte statements. We have already a number of statements from those who are promoting these companies as to the cost of installing’ the necessary plant, and I must say that there is a considerable difference of opinion as to what the amount necessary will be. It is, therefore, all the more desirable that we should have evidence, so far as it is obtainable, from all sides of the question before accepting the suggestions and statements of those immediately concerned. On the strength of a statement made to me by a gentleman who should know something of the subject, I have myself put forth the statement that £250,000 should be quite sufficient to thoroughly test the iron deposits of Australia. But against that it is slated by the Blyth River Company that they wil 1 ha ve to spend £ 1 , 0 0 0, 000 before they can hope to carry the matter through successfully. In view of the fact that all these statements are made ex parte, and without that criticism which will be afforded by evidence on both sides of this question, it is idle for this House to say - even if it is granted that bonuses are desirable - how much per ton the bonus should be or for how many years it should be maintained. This is one view of the matter which shows the necessity for some such inquiry as I propose. Again, there is the proposition put forward by the section of the House with which I am associated with regard to the establishment of State ironworks. I know that in this connexion the Sydney Morning Herald of a few days ago, referring to the motion discussed in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, the other evening, stated that I had assured the Minister for Trade and Customs that the Premier of New South Wales, Sir John See, knew nothing of the feeling of his own Legislative Assembly in this matter, and that I was able to express a more reliable opinion on this subject than himself. I need only recall to honorable members the fact that what I did say was that I did not take the assurances of Sir John See against the establishment of State ironworks as expressing the opinion of the people of New South Wales, a very distinctly different, thing from the opinion of the Legislative Assembly in which Sir John See has the honour to lead a Ministry. This is an aspect of the matter which any such committee as I ‘suggest will, if appointed, require to consider. There was a division taken the other evening in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales upon the motion dealing with this subject, and, as I anticipated, there was a. considerable majority against the proposal to establish ironworks. The Speaker usually does hot vote, but reckoning the full numbers, and counting pairs, 33 honorable members out of 125 voted for the establishment of State ironworks. I know of several instances in which the body of support for a particular proposal has at that stage been much smaller, and yet it has been carried by an overwhelming majority in the Parliament of New South Wales within a couple of years. For my part, therefore, I am quite satisfied with the amount of support such a proposal has received in the New South Wales Parliament, and I feel that there is every reason to believe that, notwithstanding the result of the motion recently decided there, once the people of that State have the question thoroughly debated, they will be more than likely to return a majority to the local Parliament pledged to carry this proposition through to its conclusion. Possibly the same thing may be said for the other States, of which I am not so well able to speak. I may be considered optimistic in taking this view, but I have so frequently seen changes in the personnel of the State Legislative Assembly, under pressure from outside, that I am quite prepared to believe that if another Parliament is elected, and if, in the meantime, agitation is carried on in that State for the undertaking of this work by the Government, a majority may be found in favour of the proposal. From all these points of view I think it is necessary that a committee should be appointed to report to this House before any further action is taken in the matter. Now, as to the question of delay, some of those who opposed the proposal for a committee on the last occasion argued that its only result would be to secure the defeat of the Bill, and to indefinitely postpone the consideration of the question. But it seems to me that if a select committee is agreed to under these circumstances the members of it should take every reasonable means to arrive at a report - I do not say a unanimous report, because I do not suppose it is likely, whatever committee is appointed, that we shall get a unanimous report upon such a debatable question as this ; but at any rate they should be able to obtain useful information for the benefit of member’s of this House and of the other Chamber within a comparatively short period. We have, I am sure, quite ‘ a number of gentlemen interested iri promoting these projects, who will be only too. anxious, to give to such a committee every information as to what their intentions are, and what their plans amount to. In addition to that, I am satisfied that we can get evidence from people who are not directly interested, but who are yet qualified to speak on the subject and to offer criticism of these proposals. All this , need not take more than a few weeks, even though it should be found necessary to visit one or other of the States in order to secure evidence which may not be obtainable here.
– If it is to be done at all it should be done thoroughly.
– I admit that ; but I say that a very large proportion of the evidence can be obtained in Melbourne, and at first hand from those directly interested. Of course there are other questions which the committee will require to consider, but in any case I at present see no reason why such a committee should not be able to report before we adjourn. So far as I am concerned, even if it were found necessary to extend the inquiry with a view to having some decided action taken, I should still consider this the proper course to adopt in view of all the circumstances. There is another matter to which, if in order, I think I am justified in referring. There has been a provision accepted in another measure by both Houses of the Federal Parliament that contingent upon this Bill going through and certain developments taking place, the Minister for Trade and Customs may by proclamation bring into existence certain duties. This has an important bearing upon other duties which are still in dispute, which in the total do not amount to a great deal, but which are for the benefit of those who have to use iron for their raw material. I say that the degree of difference it is necessary to maintain between any encouragement given to the producers of the raw material and that given to the producers of the manufactured article is a matter for very careful inquiry, and one upon which it seems to me it’ is necessary for honorable members of both Houses to have definite information before coming to a decision. Would it be a proper thing, from the point of view of those who are in some degree protectionists, to allow a duty of, say 10 per cent., on the raw material, and a duty of 12 J. per cent, or 15 per cent, only on the manufactured article? I do not want to transgress the bounds of order, but I suggest that that would be the position if the present proposals were carried out. There would be a difference of only 21/2 per cent. or 5 per cent. in favour of the manufacturer who would be compelled to use locallyproduced iron, or import it at the slightly higher price which must obtain for some years in the early stages of the industry.
– Are not duties said to make articles cheaper ?
– I have never used that argument. In the early stages of an industry duties do undoubtedly raise prices almost to the extent of the duties ; but if there be a large local production and no monopolies, it is possible and probable that the articles will be as cheap as those imported from outside.
– At the millenium !
– I do not think there is a millenium in regard to manufacturers any more than there is in regard to importers. I am glad to see that the honorable member for Wentworth has become a manufacturer as well as an importer, and that he is pointing to the ease and cheapness with which local productions can be placed on the market. I do not wish to delay the House unnecessarily, I have submitted a few reasons why some inquiry should be made before we enter upon a vast expenditure on the part’ of the Commonwealth. We are asked to vote between £300,000 and £400,000 for the encouragement of a certain industry. The smaller States are already complaining of the dearth of revenue - of the small amount of customs and excise balance which is at present returned to them. If this extra expenditure is placed on the finances of the Commonwealth, we I shall either have to cut down unduly the amount which the States now receive - a reduction which, it is said, is practically impossible - or we shall have to impose additional taxation. That is a further reason why there should be an inquiry into the whole of the circumstances. I trust, therefore, that the House will see the wisdom of having an inquiry which will not be limited as to the aspects of the matter which have to be taken into consideration - which will not be constrained to consider only the question of State enterprise - but which will be allowed to investigate all circumstances directly or indirectly affecting the handing over of such an immense sum to private individuals.
Mr. KINGSTON (South Australia - Minister for Trade and Customs). - I think there is a desire on the part of the House generally to come to a conclusion without any unnecessary repetition of arguments which time and again have been advanced during the course of this measure. I confess that at this moment it seems to me there is even more to be said than ever before against pausing in the course we have set before us. Having, as it were, “ set our hands to the plough of encouragement, by way of bonus, to’ industrial enterprise, this is a time, above all others, when we should not attempt in the slightest degree to turn back. It is highly desirable at this stage of our development to do what we can for the purpose of fostering our own industries, and let it be seen that we are willing, not only by protective means, but by other fiscal means, such as the adoption of a bonus system - which has already been tried with good results in different States, though not, perhaps, to the extent here proposed - to encourage our own people to produce what they require. In my opinion, nothing is more worthy of encouragement than the iron industry. What does the appointment of a select committee now mean?
– More light.
– More light ! What do we want to know in order to induce us to embark on the course proposed by the Government.First, whether we have the material ; and secondly, whether we have men capable and willing to undertake the enterprise. As to the material, honorable members are in possession of full information, and we have men able, I venture to think, of doing anything of which Britishers are capable. What has taken place in the sister federation of Canada should dispel all thoughts of hesitation, and determine us to tread the path which there has been taken with such success and consequent prosperity. What more do we want to know of the history of Canada in this respect? Are we to go into the highways, and here, there, and everywhere searching for information? Is it not possible for members of this House who have given considerable attention to the subject, from both points of view, to sift evidence and bring it forward? Has that not been done ? Has the subject not been thoroughly thrashed out? I will tell honorable members of what I am afraid. There are those who are entirely against the encouragement by bonus of any industrial enterprise. These honorable members acknowledge that fact freely ; and all honour to them. And their honour I hope will induce them to refrain from voting for a proposition with which they do not entirely agree, simply for the sake of wrecking that to which they strongly object. On the other hand, there is a large majority of honorable members in favour of a bonus for the establishment of the iron industry. These honorable members would do anything in reason to attain that object, but they are unhappily split into twosections, oneof which strongly favours the enterprise being undertaken by the State, and the other of which is not yet driven to any such conclusion, but would, in default of the State undertaking it, prefer to see the industry started at the earliest opportunity by any persons willing to embark their capital. It is said that information is required as to whether there are people ready to take advantage of the bonus ; but is there any doubt on the subject ? We read the newspapers, and our ears are open ; aad there appears little room for doubt that if a Bill be passed somewhat on the lines suggested, there are people only too willing to invest their capita] in the industry. Why should these people not be permitted to do so ?
– With our money?
– To what extent? The amount proposed is £250,000.
– In order to provide £250,000 taxation to the amount of £1,000,000 will have to be imposed.
– It will not be our money, but money invested here in fostering Australian enterprise, by Australian capitalists or capitalists from elsewhere, and itwill bemoney spentwith advantage by those who have it. If I recollect rightly, the honorable member for Bland said he wanted to know what money would have to be spent, and what would be the likely profit. But the party which the honorable member leads here, and of which he is the representative in Australia - and which, I understand, is, and properly so, almost onein the variousStates - are haunted by no doubts as to the success of the enterprise. Last week in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, . the labour party, properly, but unsuccessfully, sought to induce the Government of that State to pledge themselves to undertake the enterprise. Does the honorable member for
Bland suggest that under these circumstances the party with which he is associated have any doubt as to the success of the industry ?
– If the industry is going; to be a success, there is no need for a bonus.
– The labour party would not ask for such a pledge from the NewSouth Wales Government if they did. not believe in the success of the industry. I previously contended that New South Wales opinion is properly represented by the Governmentof theday - that the possession of the Treasury benches is generally indicative of the power to express the popular will. I am strengthened in that opinion by the recent division in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, where by 46 votes to- 27, which represents a majority of nearly two-thirds over the lower number-
– Not at all ; one- third.
– Compared with 27, the figures 46 show a majority of 19, and. 19 is more than two-thirds of 27. Under the circumstances, am I not right in saying that the majority was more than twothirds ?
– Does the honorable gentleman double his Customs figures in that way ?
– The honorable member knows perfectly well that I place the figures in the most attractive way from my own point of view, but, at the same time, I use them with absolutely mathematical precision. We have the declaration of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly that they are not ready for a State undertaking of this character. Are we to wait, or are we to go on? If we could define precisely when the enterprise would be undertaken by a State, there might be some reason for pleading for delay. But the Governments of the various States have informed us that they will not have anything to do with the matter, and we have been told that the New South Wales Government prefer the Bill as proposed. When that opinion is expressed by the only State likely to take advantage of the bonus, I appeal to honorable members, who really desire the early establishment of the industry, not to allow delay to be used for the purpose of defeat. I ask honorable members to look at the matter fairly andsquarely, and if they cometo a conclusion that the early establishment of the industry is desirable, not to play into the hands of those who do not want the industry at any time or at any price, but who will be only too ready to associate themselves with any project in order to bring about its defeat. Any possible doubt as to the attitude of New South Wales at the present moment is dispelled by the division in the local Parliament last week. What is. the position today 1 Was there ever a more favorable occasion for bringing about an early accomplishment of the scheme for establishing the industry?
– I think not. The scheme was never nearer its accomplishment than it is to-day. AVhen I last spoke, not so much had been done. The scheme proposed is double - a bonus in the first instance, and a duty after the establishment of the industry. How does the second part stand now ? The Senate has given its assent to every word of the provisions in DivisionVIa. of the Tariff, and it now remains for us to pass this Bill and send it on to the other Chamber, where I believe it will be accorded a hearty welcome. Contrast that for a moment with the proposal for delay to enable a search to be made after information already obtained. “We have ransacked all possible sources of information, and what more ean we learn? Shall we, for the purpose of investigation by a select committee, retrace our steps over all the work that has been done, and waste the time that has been devoted to the consideration of this measure? The scheme which we propose is of such a character that it must pay. The. Commonwealth will contribute only 20 per cent, of the marketable value of the iron produced. We shall give £1 for every £5 worth of iron produced, and we shall obtain a return of five times the money we spend. Under such circumstance, how is it possible for us to gain any advantage by delay ? I ask those honorable members who really believe in the iron industry to vote for carrying still further the good work that we have partly done, and not to be led away by suggestions which would involve the loss of a golden opportunity and wreck the scheme for years and years.
– I think my right honorable friend is rather lacking in the sense of humour. He began by saying that it was absolutely unnecessary to go over the old ground again, and yet he has spent nearly half-an-hour in restating the principles of the measures. If honorable members will cast their memories back to the debates which took place upon Division VIa. of the Tariff, they will come to the conclusion that either the present time is inopportune for the granting of the proposed bonuses, or that at any rate the measure requires a great deal more consideration.
– The time will always be inopportune in the view of the honorable member and his party.
SirWilliammcmillan. - The question where the money is to come from must occur to all of us. Our finances are now in such a condition that the Treasurer can scarcely forecast results from month to month. We are under certain obligations to the smaller States, and this fact has been made use of by the Ministry as a political cry. Yet, notwithstanding the manifesto of the Prime Minister that we should provide for revenue without destruction, and maintain tottering industries, it is proposed to appropriate £250,000 for the encouragement of an industry which was not in existence at the last general election, and in connexion with a scheme which, I venture to say, has never been before the people of the Commonwealth. I hope the proposal of the honorable member for Bland will be agreed to, and that the select committee will consider a great many matters connected with the scheme. 1 have listened very attentively to the special pleading of my right honorable friend, and I have noted the arguments based on the conditions of the Canadian iron industry - which are not at all on all-fours with the proposed scheme - and also his special reference to the iron industry in the United States - a country populated by 80,000,000 of people. But I have not heard anything that will convince me that, at this stage of our national life, with a population of only 4,000,000, it would be to our interests to spend a large amount of publicrevenue upon the establishment of a new industry, for . which the chances of success are very doubtful, and which if once supported by the State, especially by bonuses, would require more and more assistance until it became an absolute monopoly.’ The establishment of a monopoly would mean one of two things. If the industry were taken up by the State of New South Wales the people there would have to pay for the reduction in the price of iron, to the consumer, or the State Government would require from the Commonwealth larger and larger import duties until the imposts became absolutely prohibitive. In view of the interests of the manufacturers, themselves - which the protectionists are supposed to conserve - and bearing in mind that iron enters largely into almost every one of our important manufacturing concerns, this is not the time at which we should contemplate an increase in the price of the raw material. On’ several occasions we have lacked information such as could be obtained only by means of exhaustive inquiry, and this is a matter upon which - putting aside my fiscal faith, because I do not believe in bonuses of any kind - we should be placed in a position of much greater advantage if a patient investigation were made by a committee of this House. Why should we rush matters in connexion with this industry? We are half way through this Parliament, and the proposed industry cannot be placed upon its feet until the next Parliament is elected. Why should we commit our successors to such an enormous expenditure as that contemplated 1 I consider that some time might well be spent in investigation, and that the Ministry - after the tedious debates which have dragged through weeks, and which have shown that there is no determinate opinion one way or another - ought to be glad of an investigation that would throw some distinctive light on the question. Although I am opposed to bonuses, I recognise that a majority of honorable members are in favour of the bonus system under certain conditions, and I shall therefore vote for the appointment of a select committee, which will at any rate place in our hands an authoritative statement as to the actual position of affairs.
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).The honorable member for Wentworth was right in spying that a majority of honorable members are in favour of the granting of bonuses under proper conditions. At the same time it is curious that the majority should not have their own way. As a matter of fact, the triangular duel which has been proceeding is being made use of by the minority to impose their will upon the House. A majority of honorable- members are in favour of the granting of bonuses subject to proper precautions, but that majority have unfortunately, allowed themselves to be split into two divisions, ‘one of which insists that the bonus shall not be granted, except upon certain conditions With all respect to the honorable member for Bland, I think that he and those associated with him are making a great mistake in their own interests. The honorable member has led his party with great ability and industry, and has paid great attention to the debates in Parliament, but I cannot help thinking that he has been illadvised in this matter.
– We always think that about “ the other fellow’s “ opinion.
– That may be, but I am saying what I really think. I take it that the motion for the appointment of a select committee is intended to shelve the Bill, and I think it would be better for the honorable member for Bland to frankly say so. This session of Parliament is nearly at an end, and if the motion is carried providing for an inquiry with a wide scope such as the honorable member has suggested, the Bill will be shunted for this session, and we. shall not know when the next session will begin.
– That will be the fault of the Government.
– The honorable member said that he desired that the committee should enquire, not only into the immediate details of the proposed scheme for the granting of bonuses, but into the whole of the circumstances of the iron industry.
– That is the only way in which a proper investigation can take place.
– I contend that we have a committee in the responsible Government which alone can give the bonuses. I feel that it would be of the greatest advantage to us if we could secure the establishment of the iron industry at a time like the present when industries are sadly needed. The primary producers have, to a large extent, failed us, and there are hundreds and thousands of men who are anxious for work, and who cannot secure it, and if there ever was a time at which it was important to develop new industries it is at present. It is not in times of stint that we should close up our purse ; at such times, . we should open it as far as we can. lt is true that this expenditure will fall upon all the States in proportion to population, and that some of them may find it hard to pay their way. I recognise that £250,000 is a large sum. .
– That refers to only the iron industry ; the total expenditure will be more than that - it will be £300,000.
– That is not so, but it is a very unimportant detail. The extraordinary position is that whilst the principal expenditure in connexion with this scheme will probably take place in New South Wales, the representatives of that State are most keenly opposing it.
– That shows our honesty.
– Victoria has nothing to gain directly from this scheme, and yet I feel that it is regarded by some of my honorable friends on the Opposition side as a sinister deep-laid plot for the purpose of securing wealth to Victoria.
– I never gave the suggestion a thought.
– The honorable member for Wentworth also spoke of the money that would be taken out of the pockets of the taxpayers of New South Wales, but I would point out that the amount spent in connexion with the proposed scheme would be new expenditure, which would have to be borne by all the States upon, a population basis, and that Victoria would therefore have to contribute one-third of the whole amount. We are anxious to afford an opportunity for the establishment of the iron industry. We draw no lines between Australians. We feel that it will be good for Australia to have the iron industry established, because our people move about from place to place in search of work. The iron industry is an industry of industries, and is not to be compared with any other. We cannot foretell the number of industries that it will bring in its train, if it is once well established. Free-trade and protection have nothing to do with this proposal, because the best of free-traders are advocates of the bonus system. This is not a question of imposing protectionist duties, but of granting bonuses, and the best men of the Cobdenite school are strongly in favour of bonuses.
– Does the honorable and learned member wish the representatives of New South Wales to depart from their principles, because their State will benefit under the scheme proposed ?
– No ; the honorable member said that he was opposed to the granting of bonuses, and I think that his stiff’, starched, and pedantic attitude on this question is to be deplored. We cannot be guided solely by theory in these matters. It should be remembered that in a new country we have to deal with new conditions. Although I should prefer to see the iron industry controlled by the States, and although I voted in favour of giving them the exclusive right for one or two years to embark upon the enterprise, I feel that we cannot expect them within that period to nationalize the undertaking. Bather than that the industry should not be established, I favour encouraging private individuals to engage in it. At the same time, I think that Parliament should insist that’ any company or syndicate which may be induced by the payment of a bonus to eater upon the work of iron production should pledge itself to sell its undertaking to the State in which its operations are being conducted, upon a valuation, after the lapse of a reasonableperiod.
– The Government would be willing to agree to a fair right of purchase.
– The representative of one company told me that that company would not agree to any provision being made in regard to resumption unless at the expiration of a very long period.
– I think I can understand any company making that statement ; but when it comes to a choice between being granted a bonus and being denied it, the company will very quickly change their tune. If the Bill be passed, the money for the payment of the bonus will belong to the taxpayers, and therefore it would be only fair to insist that, if the people of the State in which the industry is established wish to carry on the undertaking they should be allowed the opportunity to do so. I regret that a sort of “ dog-in-the-manger “ attitude is shown by the House at the present time. I do not think that the Minister will carry this measure unless there is a considerable change of front on the part of those who are. anxious to see the iron industry developed, even at some little cost. However, I shall assist him as far as I possibly can. I feel, however, that a great mistake is being made by a section of this House. Having regard to the vote which was taken in the New South Wales Parliament the other night, it is utterly absurd to expect that State to nationalize the work of the production of iron. After all there is a good deal to be said in favour of allowing private individuals to experiment with a new industry at their own expense, instead of at the expense of the Commonwealth. This is a very different case from that of the railways. Supplies of iron can be obtained from abroad, where the industry is controlled by trusts, but no syndicate or trust can run the Australian railways in parts outside Australia, and therefore it is safe to assume that they will be carried on by the States Governments. But, considering the huge industrial movements which have their centre at the present time in America, it by no means follows that the States will be able to supply iron and steel in sufficient quantities to satisfy the wants of our railways and our people. Our efforts in regard to iron production would be very puny as compared with those of the great iron industries abroad. But we can render this industry very valuable service here. If private individuals, with the aid of a Government bonus, are prepared to risk their money in the enterprise, either at this or any other time, I am willing to give them the opportunity of doing so. Of course, it must be clearly understood that the States can always ask for a bonus if they desire it, and I am quite sure that the Government would give them a preferential claim. But I think honorable members ought to recollect that it is a distinct advantage to Australia to have people who are prepared to risk their money, time, and labour in a novel industry of this sort. Any bonus in which they may participate will be really a small thing as compared with the good results to the Commonwealth. In the event of the Bill being carried, stringent regulations could be imposed by the Government, and I am quite sure that in framing those regulations, which have to be submitted to Parliament, we may trust the Government to protect the interests of the inhabitants of Australia.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has read those who do not support this measure a lecture upon their attitude.
– They deserve it.
– Probably ; I hope they will deserve it still more. The honorable and learned member has’ said that there is a majority of this House in favour of the bonus system.
– A section of the House is bringing the whole thing into contempt.
– It is not those who are opposing the Bill who are bringing it into contempt
– Then the honorable member admits that he does oppose the Bill?
– Of course, I do.
– I am glad of that, because I now know the way in which I shall vote.
– The honorable member knew quite well the way in which he was going to vote before I opened my mouth. He understands full well what my attitude is upon this measure. I fought it from its introduction, and as I cannot prevent it from passing, I intend to fight for, delay. But, apart from that consideration, I support the motion in .favour of the measure being referred to a select committee in order that the full facts may be placed before the public. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne declared that there is a majority in favour of the bonuses. On the other hand, I am quite satisfied that a majority of honorable members are opposed to this Bill. It is only owing to the persistent whipping on the part of the Government that it has had such a long life.
– The leader of the Opposition, admits that there is a majority in favour of the bonus system.
– I think that the leader of the Opposition is in error. To my mind, the honorable member for Bland has made out a very strong case indeed in favour of delaying the passing of this Bill till the matter has been thoroughly investigated. What is known in connexion with the proposal ? We are told that certain individuals are prepared to embark upon the iron industry. On the one hand we are assured that to do so will’ require the expenditure of £1,000,000, whilst on the other we are told by experts that the cost of setting up an efficient plant would be £600,000.
– About £900,000.
– In the Minister for Home Affairs we apparently have1 still another expert. Surely honorable members ought to be given some idea “ of whether the cost of establishing the iron industry is likely to be £600,000, £900,000, or £l”,000,000. . .
– The total nominal capital of the new company which was floated in England to take over Mr. Sandford’s works at Lithgow was £750,000.
– In view of the conflicting nature of the evidence before us, surely it is not too much to ask that the House should be placed in possession of definite information as to the real cost involved in the establishment of these works, so that we may know whether or not it is necessary to spend £250,000 to aid in its accomplishment. There is a difference of 40 per cent, between the estimates which have been submitted.
– For every penny expended should we not obtain a return of five times the amount ?
– If that be so, there is no necessity whatever to sanction the payment of a bonus in order to encourage private enterprise to undertake the work. The field is absolutely open. While we have been discussing this matter, private individuals, had they so desired, could have established iron works in our midst. I protest against the money of the Commonwealth being handed over to assist a number of individuals to establish monopolies. That is the sole ground of my objection to this measure. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne expressed surprise at the action of the honorable member for Bland who, he said, was making a great mistake from the point of view of the interests of the party with which he is associated. But if the labour party was created for any special reason, it was to prevent the establishment of monopolies.
– Is not a union one of the biggest monopolies we can have ?
– Certainly not, every man is eligible to join it.
– We will admit the honorable member if he. chooses.
– One of the chief reasons for the existence of the labour party is the necessity which exists for fighting against monopolies. Consequently, there is nothing inconsistent in the action of its members in refusing to lend themselves to a proposal to vote away the people’s money in order to firmly establish a monopoly in Australia, and probably to hand over to it not only the production and supply of iron, but ultimately the control of our railways. 44 iI 2
That is too big a contract to ask the labour party to indorse.
– There are several mem bers of the labour party who oppose the honorable member’s view upon this matter.
– I am simply expressing my own view of the case. Certainly, the bulk of the people of the State to which I belong are with the labour party in this connexion. One very important point has been referred to by the acting leader of the Opposition, although, of course, it may not appeal so strongly to other honorable members. I refer to the question of the condition of our finances. From where is the £300,000 which it is. proposed to expend by way of bonus to come? It is to be taken from the whole of the Commonwealth, and given to a number of speculators. South Australia’s proportion of that amount would be about £30,000; whilst Queensland’s contribution would be £50,000.
– The proposed expenditure is to be extended over three years.
– What is the difference between an enterprising man and a speculator ?
– This is not the place for conundrums. Private enterprise often builds up monopolies, to which I am certainly opposed. Apart from the financial question, which, as the Minister knows, is of serious importance to the State of South Australia, I would point out that if the second part of the Minister’s proposals is carried into effect, and an import duty of 10 per cent, is placed upon pig-iron, the manufacture of machinery, and of iron and steel implements in Australia will be ruined. . The import duty upon manufactures of iron will probably be 15 or 12^ per cent., but an import duty of 10 per cent, upon pig-iron would reduce the protection of local manufacturers to 5 or 24j per cent., which would be a ridiculous margin. There is another matter which should be inquired into. The Minister did not propose the payment of butter bonuses in South Australia until a select committee had inquired into the advisability of doing such a thing. We have been told that there is room in Australia for several establishments for the making of iron and steel, and that, therefore, the granting of these bonuses cannot lead to the creation of a monopoly. In my opinion that statement is incorrect, but the matter forms another subject for ari inquiry. Why should this Parliament, in its first session, commit itself to the expenditure of £300,000 of the people’s money, when we cannot find time to deal with machinery Bills and other legislation which is urgently needed 1
– Parliament will commit itself to the expenditure of only so much as the Government may think fit to authorize.
– Is it to be thought that the Minister will not see fit to sanction the expenditure of the whole amount ? Once we pass the Bill- the matter will be taken out of our hands.
– The regulations which must be framed to carry out the intentions of the Bill will have to be laid before Parliament for approval.
– I regard that as a quibble. Does any one believe that any harm can result from the postponement of the consideration of this matter for perhaps twelve months, so as to permit of an inquiry being made into the whole subject ? There are many important questions connected with it, upon which the House to-day has no information, and upon which it should be informed before authorizing the proposed expenditure.
– The Government allowed the standing orders to be suspended so that this motion for the appointment of a committee might be moved, as though they intended to agree to the appointment of the committee ; but now they are objecting to its appointment. The only new reason that the Minister gave for his present attitude is that he has discovered with deep regret that the Parliament of New South Wales has refused to agree to a proposal for the establishment of State ironworks. I think that I shall save the time of the House if I direct my remarks principally to that argument. The Parliament of New South Wales certainly vetoed the proposal to establish State ironworks, but I may inform the Minister that they would with equal directness have vetoed this Bonus Bill. The New South Wales Opposition, which numbers about 35 members, gave its support, with one or two exceptions, to the Ministry to defeat the labour party on the proposal to establish State ironworks, but sis free-traders they are opposed to a bonus system of any kind at all.
– But the New South Wales Ministry are in favour of bonuses.
– Yes, because they are protectionists. They are the unused wing of the protectionist party here. The people of New South Wales, however, as represented by their Parliament, are opposed to the bonus system. The Minister would have us believe that they are opposed to the adoption of State ironworks, but have signified their willingness to accept the Bill as it now stands. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, who spoke as an Australian, with a capital A, said that he approached the consideration of the question from the Australian stand-point, and asked us, in the interests of Australia, to pass the Bill. As an Australian, and in the interests of the people of Australia, I am opposed to the Bill. No doubt, the honorable and learned member, from his training and associations, is disposed to look with favorable eyes upon judicial bodies, and what I ask is that a select committee may -be appointed as a judicial body to decide between the conflicting statements which we have heard from honest men on both sides of the Chamber in regard to the matter now under consideration. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has spoken about the “ dog in the manger “ policy of those who refuse to vote for the Bill, but, if I may be permitted to use a similar metaphor, I would refer to the policy which he advocates as a “ pig in the poke” policy. We, as the representatives of the people of Australia, cannot be expected to vote for this Bill without further information. I wish for the appointment of a select committee, not to settle the Bill, but to settle the vexed questions which its consideration has raised. I should like to know a little more about the stringent regulations to which the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has referred. Are they provided for by the Bill ? That is another reason why this judicial committee composed of honorable members selected from all sides of the Chamber, and representing all fiscal views - a purely Australian body in its personnel - should be appointed. What more could the honorable and learned member require than an Australian select committee to inquire into this great Australian question ? It takes a good deal to annoy me, but when the honorable and learned member appealed to the representatives of New South Wales and, as a representative of Victoria, asked - “ What have we to gain 1 We are simply bursting with a desire to assist New South Wales. We are consumed with an anxiety to carry this Bill so that the people of New South Wales may have a noble and powerful industry established in their midst,” I marvelled at the exhibitio not of this new concern for the interests of that State. I wish that the honorable and learned member had shown the same degree of concern for the interests of New South Wales a few days ago when the question of the suspension of the fodder duties was raised. Am I to be blamed if I look askance at his appeal 1 But supposing that it is made in the interests of New South Wales, I, as an Australian, have to say that New South Wales does not require patronage at all - does-not ask for the assistance of Australia at the expense of the Australian people to build up any of her industries. Why should these honorable members be so concerned for her interests to-day ? The honorable member for Bland believes in a’ State-owned iron industry, and the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor, said with marked emphasis - and the Minister for Trade and Customs did not deny it - that the bulk of the people of his State were at the back of the proposal he believes in. The Minister, a representative of that State, by his silence, practically affirmed that idea. The honorable member for Bland made a very strong case when he said that in New South Wales the people had not considered the question of a State-owned iron industry, that the vote in the Legislative Assembly was practically a catch vote, and that the supporters of the principle had done very well in their first effort. Without committing myself to the idea of a State-owned iron industry, I submit that a proposal of this character could not have been, made at a more inopportune time, in the affairs of New South Wales, because they are tired with regard to the management of certain State industries, and are afraid of proceeding further, and involving themselves in a larger expenditure. I do not understand the finances of this question. Both in this debate and in previous ones, it has been said that it involves an expenditure of sums ranging from £250,000 to £350,000. It has been stated, too, that four times that amount of money will have to be collected from the people of Australia before the required bonus can be obtained. When I, who closely follow the proceedings of Parliament, do not clearly understand the position, I am satisfied that thousands of persons in Australia, who may like to see the iron industry established, are not aware of how much money is required to insure its establishment. For that reason, what better body could we have than an Australian select committee to seek for full information ? The appointment of a judicial body of that kind is an admirable idea. Probably, except in the case of those whose freetrade views are very strong, the information it would collect would set at rest all doubts. The Minister for Trade and Customs, who is generally pretty calm and judicious, is allowing his enthusiasm to carry him away in this matter. I refuse to be carried away by his enthusiasm. He possesses a most magnetic power, and it is with the greatest difficulty that I am opposing him. His enthusiasm is not a sufficient justification for the House to hastily sanction the expenditure of £350,000. That is a very good reason for appointing a select committee which could seek for reliable information from all quarters. I have read in the press that certain persons are bursting with a desire to establish industries foi- the benefit of Australia - pure philanthropists, who have no idea of seeking for profit or gain. Everybody has his own peculiarity, but their peculiarity is to place in some part of the Commonwealth an industry involving the expenditure of, as they sa)’, £900,000, so that the people of Australia shall benefit by its operations. If that is so, sir, you can hardly wonder at my doubting the statement. I am fairly gullible, but when I read the statement I doubted it. A select committee could prove its accuracy or otherwise. If there are gentlemen with large national characteristics desirous of establishing industries purely for the gain of Australia, I should like a select committee to be appointed to thrash out the question. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne thought it was outrageous for a free-trader to oppose a bonus. While I may not be the “ real Mackay,” so far as economic principles are concerned, I should like to know how he stands in regard to bonuses all round. If it is good enough for the iron industry - our very own industry, as the Minister said - to receive a bonus at the expense of the great Australian public, is the honorable and learned member prepared to give a bonus for shipbuilding- to a portion of the Commonwealth in which I live, and which has to use iron ‘in the construction of ships ? I wish to know whether a select committee could obtain information on the point ? We can never estimate how much information the members of a select committee can collect. If you, sir, refer to the names of the proposed select committee, you will not discover the name of one honorable member who is not most industrious in political life, or who is likely to be caught by chaff. It is proposed that it be constituted of phlegmatic, judicial characters. Surely the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne is not going to insult those honorable members whom the honorable member for Bland would not think of nominating without their consent? Apparently, they all think that it is right to appoint a select committee. Is the honorable and learned member, with others, prepared to give a most violent slap in the face to honorable members who are willing to sacrifice their time in the public interest, and to undertake a most arduous political work which meets with little publicity? Surely the Minister is not prepared to slap in the face some of his most ardent supporters when they are anxious to ascertain the rights and wrongs of this question ? Is he a very good judge of character ? I am told that he is. Therefore, I ask him, in the most abject manner, is he prepared to leave me in this quandary - that I shall have to vote against the Bill, because I require further information than he has given ?
– If I am a judge of character, the honorable member will.
– The Minister is very flippant. That is exactly how he is with the Bill. He says to the House - “ Vote this sum of £300,000 ; never mind about the raising of £1,200,000. It will be a success.” We hope that it will be a success, but we prefer to adopt Scotch caution and to obtain more information, so that Australia may ‘ not be placed in a more awkward situation, and her people may not be at a loss. I appeal to the Minister, and all those who believe in the bonus system. If their belief in its efficacy to establish, industries for the benefit of Australia is so great as they represent, surely they are not afraid of going before a select committee of the House? If they are afraid of going before a select committee, then it is an admission that the bonus system is very weak, and that they are going to trust to time and chance to put the industry in a healthy condition, and the demands which may be made upon it in the future to strengthen what would otherwise be a most weak concern. If they do believe in the efficacy of the system, why are they now fighting here and trying to obtain a catch vote, which probably another place may not respect as they ought to do ? It is a question of hastening slowly. There is no killing of the measure involved. If the select committee came back to the House armed at all points with information as to finances, stringent regulations, power of resumption, and all the other matters which have been mentioned in debate, then I could readily understand that .many objections could not be raised to the Bill. I have not heard any reason to induce me to remove my opposition to a Bonus Bill. I trust that the Minister will not resist the motion. If his idea is to continue to resist the proposal, then he should have opposed the suspension of the standing orders. I again ask the honorable member for Northern Melbourne, has he so little faith in the efficacy of the bonus system that he is unprepared to give a select committee the benefit of his calm, deliberate judgment? I think that this great Australia has much to gain from the exercise of that judgment. I should like to see the calm, deliberate judgment of the advocates of the bonus system placed before a select committee, clothed with power to make a searching investigation. If there is anything in the system they will come out of the inquiry triumphantly. I am not afraid of a select committee. I believe that the members of it can obtain information which will guide not only the Commonwealth Parliament, but the Parliaments of the different States ; and that it will be shown that at the present day, and for some years to come, the iron industry in Australia cannot be made a payable one. I believe that, in that way, the people of this Commonwealth maybe saved the expense of a very costly experiment. It is not a question of £250,000, or even £1,000,000, because once the industry is started, it must be continued. Under all the circumstances, I plead with the Minister for Trade and Customs that, in the interests of the Commonwealth, he should not take action which will burden the people with more taxation, and that he should allow this select committee to be appointed in order that, irrespective of party. considerations, we may know really how the question stands.
Mr. KENNEDY (Moira). - It was hardly necessary for the honorable member for Dalley to take up time in supporting the proposal for a select committee, when he has told us that, no matter what the finding of the committee may be, he will be against a Bonus Bill.
– I did not say anything of the sort ; I would not be so foolish.
-The honorable member stated distinctly that he was opposed to a Bonus Bill .
– At the present time, without further information.
– Then the honorable member says that he will support this proposal for referring the Bill to a select committee, which is to make investigation.
– In order to get more light upon the subject.
– The acting leader of the Opposition accused the Minister for Trade and Customs of a lack of humour in taking so short a space of time to review the salient arguments as to the necessity for a bonus in order to secure the establishment of this industry. He also told us that he was opposed to the Bonus Bill, and would support an inquiry by a select committee.
– For the benefit of honorable members opposite. The ignorance displayed during the debate is so great that I think honorable members require further information.
– We have the honorable member for Bland, and the honorable member for South Australia now proposing most strenuously the appointment of a select committee, though within the last two months they were prepared to vote the money embodied in the Bonus Bill without any question whatever, provided that the States undertook the development of the industry. They had ample information ; they had no doubt as to the deposits being valuable ; no doubt as to the skill and knowledge of the people, and, no doubt, that some of the States could find the capital necessary to successfully establish the industry. But being defeated for the time upon that score, when the Government now propose that private capitalists may embark in the enterprise, and may take advantage of the bonuses proposed under this Bill, those honorable members press most strenuously for information that apparently they did not atall require under what were exactly similar circumstances only a little while ago.
– Because the State would make an inquiry before taking up the industry.
– Is it likely that we are going to take any further risks in paying this money to private capitalists rather than to a State ? Is it likely that one shilling of the bonuses proposed is going to be paid to private capitalists unless the material for which the bonuses given is produced ?
– There is still an important distinction.
– I should like to know what it is. Surely, none of us is guileless enough to believe that capitalists, any more than a State, are philanthropists, pure and simple; and that they will venture their money for the benefit of the whole community, and without hope of return. Their first object will be to secure a return upon their investments. We know that the results to labour and industry will be practically the same, from whatever source the capital is derived. Surely, no honorable member will for a moment admit that the fear of a monopoly by private enterprise is the governing consideration, deterring him, at the present time, from supporting this Bill ? Surely, Parliament will be a sufficient guarantee as between the citizens of Australia and the possibility of a monopoly by any private enterprise. “We read from time to time, and have some knowledge of the condition, of trusts in other lands ; but we know that they are not altogether an unmixed evil ; there are some good, as well as some evil results accruing from their operation, and in a self-governing community such as we have here, where we have the control of such operations in our own hands, are we going to be deterred from wealth production because of the fear of a monopoly being created in connexion with this industry? Honorable members must not lose sight of the fact that we have only a section of the British navy standing between Australia and the destruction of her national interests to-day. If from any cause, which it is not difficult to imagine, the supply of iron and steel for manufactures in Australia were cut off, what would be our position ? We should not have sufficient metal to manufacture a gun or a rifle for our own requirements.
– Is not that a strong argument for a State undertaking the enterprise and not leaving it to private enterprise 1
– That is not the question now. The object now is to get the industry established, and the information we have to date is that the States will not undertake the enterprise.
– Ought not the States to be compelled to do so under the circumstances ?
– It is a peculiar thing that the all powerful State of New South Wales, in which there are large iron deposits, lias not developed the industry. The three chief reasons given by the mover of this motion for referring the Bill to a select committee at the present time were the cost of working the deposits, the amount of capital required for the development of the industry, and the possibility of its development by a bonus without the necessity for a high duty. As to the first point, surely no honorable member who was privileged to listen to the address of the honorable member for Parramatta on the second reading of the Bill can overlook the fund of information which he gave to the House with regard to the deposits available, and the estimated cost of working them given by reliable authorities? Then as to the amount of capital required, we have information from different sources, and the total capital involved appears to be entirely a question as to the quantity proposed to be produced by the different companies supplying estimates. The honorable member for South Australia laid great stress upon the point that we can establish the industry without any bonus at all, and that there is a possibility of its being established merely by the imposition of a slight duty. The difficulty of dealing with the matter from that standpoint is that we all know that by the imposition of a duty at the outset, before the production of iron is established here, the cost of the raw material to the users of iron and steel will be at once increased. That is a difficulty the Government and the community generally are interested in avoiding, by giving a bonus upon the material produced until such time as iron and steel are produced in quantities approximating closely to the amount required for the Commonwealth. Personally, I regret to see the small trivia] differences that divide those who are earnest in their desire to see this industry established. The difference of opinion simply amounts to this : that there is a section of honorable members who are very desirous that the States should embark in the enterprise. Personally, I have no objection whatever to that. I should be very glad indeed to see the States embark in this enterprise. But failing that, no action of mine will be taken to prevent private enterprise being .allowed to develop this industry, because seeing that we have the raw material available, I look upon it as one of the most important and beneficent industries that could be established for the welfare of the community. I am prepared to support this . Bill without any further enquiry whatever.
Mr. RONALD (Southern Melbourne).Having to vote in this instance contrary to the party with which I generally vote, I must explain why I do so, and my explanation shall be brief. I believe in the bonus system, and so long as it appeared possible to secure that this industry should become a State monopoly, I worked in that direction. I was inclined to support this motion for a select committee so long as I believed that it was sought to be appointed in the interests of the bonus system, and in the interest of the industry being undertaken by the State. But the mover of the motion confesses that he believes in bonuses, and that this committee is simply a proposal to find out what is the best means of getting the greatest amount of good out of the bonus system.
– I did not say that I believed in bonuses ; not at all.
– I understood the honorable member in his speech to-day to say that he proposed the committee in the interests of the bonus system. If I remember aright, there was first an effort made to give the States a monopoly of the industry ; then an effort was made to give the States a monopoly of the industry for two years, and then an effort was made to give the States a monopoly of the industry for one year. Finally, in order to put the matter into the hands of the State, as I understood it, this select committee was to make enquiries as to what it would cost, and as to how a State could raise the money necessary to start ironworks. So long as the final object and aim in view is to carry out the development of the iron industry, whether by a State or by an individual, by the assistance of bonuses, I have been in favour of the line of action proposed. But when we have it avowed that this select committee is to be appointed to stifle and destroy the bonus system altogether, I say that I am against its appointment.
– Then the honorable member has not much faith in an enquiry.
– So long as it is an honest, bona fide enquiry into facts that will help us to get the greatest amount of good out of the bonus system, I am for it, but when it is proposed as an inquiry into everything that will tend to destroy the bonus system, and is confessedly proposed for the purpose of delaying and destroying the Bonus Bill, I think I am justified in opposing it. I am against all kinds of hypocrisy.
– Is the honorable member the only pure man in the labour party ?
– I speak only for myself.
– Then the honorable member ought to leave the party. We do not want a saint.
– I was explaining that I am against the proposed committee of inquiry, because it turns out to be a committee of destruction. Its avowed purpose is to kill the Bill. Honorable members have said that they desire only delay, but delays are dangerous, proverbially, and in this case delay will be very dangerous. The honorable member for South Australia asked where would be the danger and evil of delay in this case 1 It lies in the fact that at the present time we have hundreds and thousands of unemployed with whom we do not know what to do. Meanwhile there are a great many works which are depending upon the iron industry, and I say that at the present time, when we have the assurance of the Government that capital is ready to be launched in this great venture, it is criminal and sinful for us to stand in the way, in view of the present state of affairs in the industrial world. I am honestly and earnestly in favour of going on with the work without a moment’s delay; and, therefore, I am against the appointment of a select committee. I do not believe in needless delay or in subterfuges. So long as there was an honest effort in the direction of a State monopoly, I was in favour of it ; but I am against any subterfuge which has for its object the killing of the Bill. The bonus offer has been unfairly stated over and over again this afternoon. It has been stated that the proposal is to here and now vote away £250,000 or £300,000 of the public money. The fact has been obscured and hidden that payment is by results, and that not one penny of the taxpayers’ money is compromised. The terms are - no iron, no bonus ; and if we are to get our money’s worth from the raw material brought from the bowels of the earth, we are, by opposing the Bill, standing in the way of the development of a native industry. It has been asked where the money is to come from with which to pay the bonus. But how much would it require to meet the initial expenses of a State monopoly. I favour a State monopoly, but I see no chance of that until we have money of our own to embark in the industry. Under the present circumstances, State monopoly would simply mean a monopoly of financiers in London, seeing that we should have to borrow the money in order to undertake the enterprise. That would be simply handing the industry over to capitalists in London, and leaving us as far as ever from State monopoly. If a select committee be appointed, will it make inquiries, and set, side by side, the expense of initiating a State monopoly, and the expense of giving bonuses to private individuals? If that were done, I believe it would be found that the initial expense of making a State monopoly would be infinitely greater than that of- a bonus system which, from beginning to end, safe-guards the people’s money by the principle of payment by results. I regard the bonus principle as the supplement or complement of the protectionist principle, of which I am an avowed advocate. On the hustings. I told the electors that the two went hand in hand, and I am only carrying out my pledges to my constituents, who are largely interested in the iron industry, when I endeavour to expedite the establishment of the bonus system by every possible means. The iron industry is the parent of a hundred and one other industries, and I shall do everything in my power to prevent one moment’s delay in the realization of a proposal which will be a fruitful source of development throughout Australia.
– As a member of the labour party, I deem it my duty to protest against the charges which we have just heard made by a member of that party.
– I have made no charges.
– It is a sad case, if out of the 24 members of the labour party, there is only one angelic saint. ‘
– The question which we are discussing is the appointment of the select committee to inquire into the bonus system.
– That is so; but an aspersion has been cast on the labour party. The honoured leader of that party has submitted a motion which has for its object the acquisition of knowledge on the subject now before us. Without inquiry we should be darting “out in the blind.” Like men drawing certain deductions from certain inferences, we should never be certain as to the result. A select committee is required in. order to hear evidence from men who are thoroughly proficient in the iron business. By some people we are told that the establishment of the industry will mean the expenditure of £1,000,000, and by others we are told that the cost will be less ; and inquiry is needed to clear up this and other points. Are we to allow a few private syndicators to use this bonus for the purpose of floating, in London, companies which it is admitted they cannot float now ? The Hebrew children of London will not take on the speculation unless £250,000 is granted by this Parliament. I have offered to erect the works for £250,000, and I am so confident that I now repeat the offer. The proposal is to have a select committee composed of members, half of whom are from each side of the House. There are gentlemen living in the Commonwealth able to come before the committee, and, by their evidence, put us in possession of knowledge which we require. The honorable member . for Southern Melbourne declared that he opposes a select committee, because the proposal looks like a conspiracy to defeat the investment of private capital. That honorable member charges the labour party with being conspirators ; and I object to any honorable member, however humble in morality or intellectuality, being so charged by a man who is over-loaded with morality.
– The honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. O’Malley, must confine himself to the question before the House.
– I made no charge.
– The honorable member for Southern Melbourne declared that he would have voted for the appointment of a select committee, but for his belief that a committee meant a conspiracy to prevent iron works being established.
– The honorable member for Southern Melbourne states the truth.
– I should like to know where the honorable member for Melbourne obtains his knowledge.
– The fact is avowed here.
– Where is the evidence? It may be rumoured that the honorable member for Southern Melbournewill turn a somersault to-morrow, but there is no certainty on the point. No honorable member should make charges which he is not prepared to support. The honorable member for Melbourne stands as the very essence of dignity and honour, and is always upbraiding honorable members for making charges of the kind to which I now object. The honorable member asserts that there is a conspiracy ; but I deny the statement, and contend that there is not an honorable member who would be guilty of such an offence. We hold that this is a matter which goes beyond private enterprise. The railways of the country are owned by thepeople, and iron works also ought to be owned by the people. Had I dreamt for one moment that this industry would get into the hands of a private syndicate - into the hands of Goulds, Vanderbilts, and Astors - I should certainly have voted against a duty of 15 per cent, on raw iron. It is proposed to tax thepeople of the country to the extent of £250,000 in order to enable a private syndicate to erect works. Then it is proposed to give a monopoly, and compel every man interested in primary production to contribute towards enriching a few syn.dicators. If ever Australia were at war, we should, under the proposals of the Government, have to go on our knees to these monopolists, as America had to do in her great war, and ask what they would take for their iron ; and the price asked would not be governed by the cost of production, plus the cost of the raw material, but governed by the rates in New York, Montreal, and London. If the giving of this bonus be agreed to, it will go down to history as a stupendous act of infamy which plundered unborn millions of their inheritance.
– In addition to the ordinary responsibility which Parliament always has in connexion with any legislation, we have a further responsibility in this particular matter. During the whole debate we have had the very haziest information, as to the exact standing of the gentlemen who are going to embark in this industry. Once before, on the floor of the House, I challenged those gentlemen to produce evidence that the money was actually available to carry on the work. I have had no reply to that challenge, which I now repeat; If the money be available, let evidence to that effect be produced ; and to that extent, at least, we shall then know where we stand. But we know perfectly well that the gentlemen interested are going to the markets of the world with their’ leases, and that they intend to dangle this bonus before the wealthy classes in order to bring about the formation of a company. We are responsible to the extent that we offer a bonus, and the assumption is that this Parliament considers the industry to be one with every likelihood of success. But are we in a position to say we believe the industry, if initiated by the company, will be successful to the degree which the company have a right to expect ? We have no evidence whatever to that effect. In the interests of the people who are prepared to enter into a bona, fide industry of this kind, it is our duty to appoint a committte of investigation. If the proposed company be sound, and have reasonable ground. for assuming that they will carry on the industry successfully, I fail to see what objection they can have to the appointment of a committee, which, if the evidence be thoroughly satisfactory, will materially assist them in obtaining the money they require. In this way the appointment of a select committee will accelerate the establishment of the industry, and on that ground alone the motion is justified. If the result of the inquiry is to satisfy this House that there is reasonable prospect of success, those who are floating the company will have no difficulty in inducing investors to subscribe the required money. For these reasons alone I believe a select committee ought to be appointed to proceed at once with the necessary investigation.
-I do not think it necessary at this stage to repeat speeches in which I have already shown my strong opposition to socialism. The proposal for a select committee seems to have been made in consequence of the debate which took place in the New (South Wales Legislative Assembly the other night on a motion that the Government of that State should pledge itself to take advantage of the CommonwealthBonus Bill. Mr. Fitzpatrick suggested, not only on that occasion, but also when a member of a deputation to the State Minister of Public Works, that m addition to the iron industry, coal-mining, gold-mining, clothes-making, and, infact, every other industry, should be brought under State control.. The design of the labour party in New South Wales has therefore been clearly indicated. The labour party in this House are following their example, and having failed to carry out their socialistic ideas, are only consistent in doing their best to defeat the Bill, by shelving it for three or five years. This will be the result of referring it to a select committee. I am not so well able to arrive at the motive which has led the leader of the Opposition to support the proposal to refer the Bill to a select committee. Some honorable members have not dared to vote against the socialistic principle embodied in the proposal for the establishment of’ ironworks by the States Governments. They do not like socialism, but they are uncertain as to how their constituencies would regard their actions if they directly opposed it. The proposal for the appointment of a select committee, therefore, affords them a means of achieving their end without directly committing themselves. Some honorable members of the Opposition have professed to be absolutely ignorant of the details of the Government proposal and of the consequences which would follow the passing of the Bill now before us. They therefore say, they favour the appointment of a select committee in order that the fullest information may be placed in the hands of honorable members. I would, however, ask those honorable members who are now so anxious to obtain every information upon the subject now before us, why they did not realize the same necessity for a full investigation in connexion with the Pacific Island Labourers Act and the Immigration Restriction Act. Those were measures which involved the most important considerations affecting the relations of Australia with the Pacific and the Empire ; the vast interests of sugar growers, merchants, ship-owners, and vast industrial and mer- cantile concerns, and yet when it was proposed that it should be referred to a select committee they argued that this House was quite competent to deal with the matter. In the present case honorable members should be just as capable of transacting the business before them without waiting for an investigation by a select committee. Their opinions are not likely to be altered by the conclusions arrived at by any committee. If honorable members feel that they cannot venture to openly vote against socialistic proposals, they are quite justified in supporting the appointment of a select committee, which will have the effect of shelving the Bill for some time. It would be preferable if they were to demonstrate that they had the courage of their opinions by voting directly against the proposal for the establishment of ironworks by the States Governments, and so at the outset crush a project which, if carried into effect, would create a monster that in time would swallow up every industry in the Commonwealth. Honorable members, whose sole reason for existence as members of this House is that they have devoted years to the study of political economy and social functions, should come out into the open and vote fearlessly in’ support of their opinions. I find that of those honorable members whom it is proposed to appoint as a select committee, the honorable member for Bland and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, the Minister foi’ Trade and Customs, the honorable member for West Sydney, and the honorable member for Parramatta have declared themselves strongly in favour of nationalizing the iron industry.
– The honorable member for Parramatta and the Minister for Trade and Customs voted against the proposal to nationalize the iron industry.
– Does the honorable member for Bland deny my statement that the honorable member for Parramatta stated that he was in favour of nationalizing the iron industry?
– He voted against the proposal on the ground that it was not opportune.
– Whether that be so or not, the honorable member is reported at page 13612 of Hansard to have stated that he was in favour of nationalizing the iron industry. The Minister for Trade and Customs also similarly declared himself. The honorable member for Darling Downs stated that he was in favour of State control of the industry for two years, and that he could not go any further. The honorable member for Newcastle, as a member of the labour party, must support State socialism ; and the honorable member for Kalgoorlie voted in favour of the State socialistic proposal of the honorable member for Bland. Therefore, eight members of a committee of ten have expressed- themselves in favour of having the iron industry established as a State enterprise. I have not been able to trace any expression of opinion by the honorable member for Wannon, or the honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon. I have some doubt as to the views held by the latter honorable member, but I should judge that the honorable member for Wannon would be opposed to State socialism. If a fair and honest inquiry is to be made into the merits of the Government proposal, and as to the desirableness of the iron industry being established under State control, the committee should be differently1 constituted, and should not comprise eight members who are already committed to support State socialism.
– Only four members of the proposed committee have voted in favour of nationalizing the iron industry.
– I should like to know which members of the committee are in favour of individualism ?
– No one in this House except the. honorable member is in favour of individualism.-
– The honorable member is mistaken. I should like to see the honorable and learned member for Parkes appointed to the committee, if for that reason only. He would prove a useful member of such an investigating body, because he has devoted a large amount of attention to the study of political economy. If the committee is appointed, and is constituted as now proposed, it will not serve the interests which the honorable member for Bland seeks to advance, because it will not possess the confidence of this House to the same degree as if it were evenly balanced.
– It is scarcely necessary for me to say that I am a firm believer in the importance of establishing the iron industry. I do not think that the appointment of a select committee, as proposed, will postpone the accomplishment of that object. In Victoria the application of the bonus system to the manufacture of beet sugar was followed by disaster, and the loss of a large sum of money would probably have been obviated if an exhaustive inquiry had been made prior to the establishment of the Maffra Beet Sugar Works. If the committee proposed by the honorable member, for Bland, after an impartial inquiry, recommend that we should adopt the bonus system, I shall support them. I do not agree with the honorable and learned member for Corio that the opinions of honorable members are fixed upon the subject of the establishment of the iron industry as a State monopoly, and I do not share his anxiety as to the results. Even if the personnel of the committee is not altered, only four members out of ten will stand committed to the nationalization of the iron industry, because the honorable member for Parramatta and the Minister for Trade and Customs voted against the proposal made by the honorable member for Bland. The honorable and learned member for Corio statedthat it was singular that honorable members had not been willing to refer the Pacific Island Labourers Bill to a select committee for the purposes of investigation. I would point out, however, that the voice of the Australian people had been raised unmistakably in favour of the abolition of the kanaka traffic, and that in passing the measure referred to we were carrying out the specific mandate of the people. . On the other hand, the question of granting bonuses for the establishment of the iron industry was not raised at one meeting out of fifty held in connexion with the Federal elections’. If the select committee is appointed, I hope that it will be able to bring up a report early next session, and I do not fear that the result will be to seriously delay the passing of the measure now before us.
– The question with which we are now dealing is a vast one, but I do not share the feeling of the honorable and learned member for Corio, with regard to responsibility which rests upon honorable members. Some few weeks ago I suggested to the Minister for Trade and Customs that it would be advisable to abandon this measure, seeing that the question of granting bonuses for the establishment of the iron industry was not brought before the public at the last election: The first I heard of it was in this Chamber some months ago, and I am sure that many honorable members are in a fog as to how they should deal with the present proposal. Personally I feel no responsibility in regard to it. How can any honorable member feel sure that he is representing his constituents by voting for or against the measure? He cannot possibly know what, their views are. I regard the sudden appearance of this measure upon the political horizon as utterly unreasonable. When I spoke regarding this measure a few weeks ago, one or two honorable members thought that I expressed myself very warmly. When I feel strongly it is natural I should speak with some warmth. But I have no desire to speak warmly tonight. I wish honorable members to understand that I am speaking as coolly as if I were dealing with a business matter of my own, or with one in which I was acting as a trustee, and I say that there is absolutely no warrant for intruding this vast matter upon the House, either during the present session or the next. The only solution of the difficulty which has arisen - a solution satisfactory alike to the labour party, to members of the Opposition, and to Ministerial supporters - is to drop the Bill. I ask the Minister to give honorable members breathing time - time to examine the question thoroughly in all its bearings. It is only reasonable that they should be allowed an opportunity of conferring during the recess with the leading people in their constituencies, and of informing themselves - by means of public meetings - of what the opinions of the electors upon this matter really are.’ Let us come into contact with those who take an interest in it. If the Bill be passed, is the payment of the bonus to be limited to one State ? From advices which I have received from experienced and reputable thinkers in Queensland, I know that they favour giving equal consideration to all the States which choose to embark upon this enterprise. I mention that fact to emphasize the desirableness of delaying the further consideration of this matter. If the Government refuse to drop the Bill - a course which I respectfully counsel them to follow - I shall support the motion of the honorable member for Bland.
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- Mr. Speaker, I wish to ask if you will be good enough to put my motion in two parts - the first portion affirming the desirableness .of referring the Bill to a select committee, and the second relating to the personnel of the committee.
– If that is the desire of the House I shall do so.
Question - That the Bill be referred to a select committee - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- With the permission of the House, I should like to add to the committee the names of the honorable and learned member for Corinella,land the honorable and learned member for Illawarra. I understand that the Ministry have no objection to that course being adopted. If we do not add these names, there may be some difficulty about obtaining the attendance of a quorum at the sittings of the committee.
– I wish to ask whether any further debate can take place at this stage ?
– No. The motion as a whole would have been put just now, but at the express desire of. the House it was divided into two parts. It is competent, however, if six honorable members so desire, to require a ballot to be taken in connexion with the second part of the motion.
Question - That such committee consist of the Minister for Trade and Customs, Sir Edward Braddon, Mr. Joseph Cook, Mr. Winter Cooke, Mr. L. E. Groom, Mr. Hughes, Mr. Kirwan, Mr. Mauger, Mr. Watkins, Mr. McCay, Mr. Fuller and the mover - resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
There is no other measure upon the business paper with which we can proceed this afternoon, and, under the circumstances, it is necessary for me to submit this motion, although I regret that we cannot employ the hours of an ordinary sitting which still remain to’ us upon the consideration of the measure that we shall receive from the Senate to-morrow. I again invite honorable members to make themselves familiar with that measure by consulting the proceedings in which the proposals that will be brought before us in regard to the Customs Tariff Bill are to be found, so that when the message is presented we may be able to proceed at once with its consideration. In this connexion it is very important that there shall be no more delay than is absolutely essential; and if honorable members will do the Government the favour of consulting those proceedings, I think that they will be fairly equipped for dealing with the Bill when it comes before us to-morrow afternoon.
– I wish to ask the Acting Prime Minister if he does not shortly intend to- set apart a day for the consideration of private members’ business ?
– Next session.
– I may be dead next session.
– Others will be left.
– But others will not undertake my work. I have important motions upon the business paper relating to the adoption of a system of old-age pensions and to the establishment of a reciprocal treaty with New Zealand. It is time that these matters were discussed. Another question which ought to be debated has reference to foreign steam-ships which are not paying their crews the same rate of wages that is being paid by the Australian steam-ship owners with whom they are competing, by carrying goods between. Australian ports. Unless prompt action is taken in connexion with this matter, I fear that the Australian steam-ship owners will be compelled to reduce the wages of their hands to the level of those paid by their competitors.
– I again wish to direct the attention of the Acting Prime Minister to the question of the prorogation. It appears to me that an effort might be made to close the present session before the close of the current month. It is possible that, apart from the financial Bills, we may get through most of the measures remaining to be dealt with during the current week. I know that we shall be glad to bring that about. I have learned, too, in an unofficial way, that the Treasurer will not be able to make his Budget speech until nearly the close of the month, but it seems to me that a big effort should be made to close the session this month. Paragraphs have appeared in the newspapers which speak of the possibility of the session being prolonged until the end of October, but that would be a great calamity. We have now been sitting for a longer period than any House of Parliament with which I- am acquainted has sat during late years, and, therefore, I think that a supreme effort should be made to close the session this month. Ihope that the House will help the Government to do that.
– This afternoon I asked the Acting Minister for Defence whether the salaries of the drill instructors who have been sent to South Australia are to be regarded as new expenditure, since the officers in question have been transferred from New South Wales to South Australia without being re-enlisted under the laws of the latter State. As a matter of constitutional principle I wished to know whether the salaries of these drill instructors are to be debited to South Australia as the salaries of transferred officers or as new expenditure. The Minister replied that the salaries were to be regarded not as new but as transferred expenditure, and were to be debited, not to New South Wales, but to South Australia, although the officers have not been reenlisted under the South Australian Act. The view I hold is that if the officers have not been re-enlisted under the South Australian Act, they remain under the New South Wales Act, because there is no Federal Act. If they do not remain under the New South Wales Act, they are not enlisted at all, because they have not been re-sworn under the South Australian Act ; but if they remain under the New South Wales Act, and the expenditure is not ‘new expenditure, it must be debited to New SouthWales. If they have been transferred to South Australia without being re-enlisted, and the expenditure is not to be debited to New South Wales, it must be regarded as new expenditure, because it is expenditure, not for the maintenance of the department as it existed in South Australia at the time of its transfer to the. Commonwealth, but expenditure in addition to that. I do not know how the Minister came to the conclusion that the expenditure is not new expenditure, or that, if transferred expenditure, it can be debited to South Australia instead of to New South Wales. I mention the matter because I am not satisfied that the opinion given by the Minister is correct in law.
– When it was arranged in May last that a trip, as it was called, should be taken to view the suggested sites for a federal capital, many honorable members declined to go, because they felt that by going they would risk their health. It was understood, however, that a subsequent trip would be arranged to meet their convenience, and I should therefore like to know from the Minister for Home Affairs, not later than next week, what arrangements he intends to make with that object. There are about 50 honorable members who were not able to take part in the last trip. The average number of those who took part in that trip was eighteen or twenty, the maximum number present at any one time being 28, while only thirteen or fourteen visited all the sites.
Under these circumstances, I ask, on behalf of myself and other honorable members, if the Minister will take the matter into his consideration, and .let us know as soon as practicable what conveniences he proposes to place at the disposal of the 50 members who have not yet visited these sites.
– I can reply to the question of the honorable member for Brisbane without waiting until next week. A great deal of trouble and some expense was undertaken to give members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate opportunities to visit the suggested sites for the federal capital, and at the time I tried to induce as many as I could to take advantage of it. A larger number of honorable members have visited those sites than the honorable member for Brisbane appears to think, and there are not many who have not visited some of them.- That being so, I do not think it should be expected that another trip will be arranged for. But if a few honorable members who have not visited the sites desire to make an informal visit, facilities could be given to enable them to do so in their own time. I am disappointed that more honorable members did not make it convenient to take advantage of the opportunity which was provided for them in May. All sorts of wild statements as to the cost of the inspection, by the Senate and the House of Representatives have appeared in the newspapers, but my secretary informs me that the amount expended upon the last trip will be considerably under the sum voted by this House. The honorable member for Gippsland is, of course, unable to get about as easily as most other honorable members, and he told me that he would like to visit the various sites in company with six or seven other members in a quiet way. I think that under the circumstances I should be quite justified in affording an opportunity for seven or eight members to do that.
– If facilities are provided for any, they should be provided for all.
– I do not think it can be expected that arrangements should be made for another series of special trains. What I suggest is that, if honorable members who have not visited the proposed sites, are willing” to avail themselves of the ordinary trains, facilities can be provided for travelling from the nearest railway stations to the various sites. The honorable member for Gippsland wishes to travel from Bombala to the border, and thence to Sale. I do not think it would be possible to drive a coach and four through that district. For the examination of that country the lightest and strongest vehicles obtainable would be required. However, if honorable members will inform me when they wish to go in the way I describe, I shall try to make the necessary arrangements. The work of my department and of Ministers has been very heavy of late ; but I intend to submit at the next meeting of the Cabinet, or at the following meeting, a proposal for dealing further with the capital site question. What I desire to do is to get my colleagues to agree to a reduction in the number of the proposed sites. There are only three or four which are really open for consideration. I should like to see those sites placed before Parliament for consideration, in such a way that honorable members can add to their number any they think fit. That being done, I propose to submit the names of certain experts to form a committee to report upon various subjects connected with the question - with which only experts can deal - and to have the whole matter ready for submission to Parliament next session. With regard to the comments of the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, upon the answer to his question this afternoon, I may say that I took legal advice upon the subject. So far as I can see, there is only this in his point, that the instructors, not having been sworn in under the South Australian Act, there is a doubt as to which State - South Australia or New South Wales - should pay their salaries at the present time. But the difficulty he raises can be overcome at any moment by swearing in the men under the South Australian Act. Personally, I do not suppose that New South Wales would object very much to have to bear the whole charge herself.
– The people of South Australia do’ not ask for that.
– They are making a lot of trouble over what seems to me a small matter. I think the question might fairly be left alone now, because I have asked, in as emphatic a manner as I could, for certain information in regard to it. which has not yet been obtained.
– When does the honorable member expect to get it?
– The General Officer Commanding has been in Sydney for some little time past, so that I have not had an opportunity to speak with him on the subject, but I hope that this burning question to South Australia will be settled without undue delay. I have armed myself with all information available, and it appears to me that if the defence forces of Australia are to be put upon one footing - and that must be done sooner or later - the services of extra drill instructors are necessary in South Australia to bring the men of that State up to the same standard as exists in the larger States.
– We deny that that is necessary.
– In point of strength the instructing staff in South Australia is materially below that in Victoria and New South Wales. There is no desire on my part to force upon South Australia this terrible outrage of sending these instructors there, and I shall be only too glad to find that her forces are so highly instructed that there is no necessity for them to have further instruction, and that I can remove some of the men to whom great exception has been taken. I venture to think, however, that it will mean their discharge, because they could not fairly be taken back to the other States. Already 40 odd have been discharged, and some seven or eight have just returned from South Africa. I have given instructions thatthelatterare to be continued in the offices which they hold, and that as vacancies occur among the present instructors they are to take the vacant places. I do not wish the men who went to South Africa in answer to a call to find on their return that their places are taken, and that they are to be thrown upon their own resources. By the non-filling in other ways of vacancies as they arise, I hope to absorb in a legitimate way the men who have come from South Africa instead of discharging them as they otherwise would have to be.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).No complaint was made by the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, about what the Acting Minister of Defence was doing. I think that honorable members are quite satisfied that the honorable and learned member is taking a right course in endeavouring to get an answer to the queries which he put. We are waiting until the answers are given.’ I protest against the suggestion in the Minister’s remarks that South Australia asks New South Wales to pay these drill instructors.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable gentleman insinuated that if South Australia was not prepared to pay the men, he had no doubt that New South Wales, out of her large-minded generosity, would do so. No objection has been made by South Australia to the payment of the men if it can be shown that it is desirable that they should stay there. The objection has been to what is believed to be an unnecessary expenditure. If the Minister would not make these somewhat’ taunting suggestions he would do something to allay the irritation which has been caused by the action taken so far.
Sir William Lyne (In explanation). - The honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor, has accused me of using taunting expressions. There was nothing further from my mind than that. What I said was that if an objection were taken by South Australia to the payment of these instructors, and as the honorable and learned member, Mr. Glynn, held they really belonged tp New South Wales, the latter State might not object to pay them for the time being.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 5.49 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 September 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020902_reps_1_12/>.