1st Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question, without notice, in reference to a reply which he gave to the honorable member for Grampians last night in regard to the collection of the electoral rolls. He is reported to have said that -
The franchise of New South Wales closely approximated -to that of tho Commonwealth, and the rolls of that State were being utilized by the Minister for Home Affairs at a trifling expense.
Is the right honorable gentleman aware that there are very important differences between the State franchise and the Commonwealth franchise, and that fully 15,000 persons who, under the Commonwealth law, would be entitled to vote, are disfranchised’ under the State law ? In view of that fact, will the. Minister take prompt steps - I am told that it will not cost more than £1,000-to see that the Federal rollsare so collected as to secure the names of all entitled to vote at the Federal elections, in order that proper data may be given to the Commissioner for the division of the Stateinto electorates 1 I should also like to know from the right honorable gentleman if hewill arrange with the Premier of New South Wales to obtain information from the Statistical department there - -and, I believe, it can easily be obtained - as to the number of adults, male and female, in the variousState electorates, and in the Federal electorates, and the number of names, male and female, on the State rolls.
– It must b& obvious to the honorable member that questions of so intricate a nature would have been better asked upon notice of theMinister in charge of the Department which they concern. It cannot be expected that I shall be prepared with the necessary details when such questions are sprung upon me without a moment’s notice. I shall, however, suggest to tho Minister for Home Affairs that inquiries be made on the points indicated by tho honorable member.
– That is all I want. The matter is an important one.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether it is considered that the InterStatecertificates demanded with importations of goods, the produce of the Commonwealth States now serve any necessary or useful purpose, and, if not, will he arrange at an early date to do away with them, and relieve the trading community from unnecessary trouble and delay.
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
So long as the bookkeeping clauses continue, accounts of Inter- State transfers of dutiable goods, must be kept, and the particulars supplied by the present certificates have been reduced, so far a& at present appears to he practicable, consistently with the proper administration of these clauses. If on further consideration further simplification is found to be possible consistently with the dueexecution of . the Constitution, the Government will not hesitate to arrange accordingly, and they- sire now negotiating with a view to the cesser with the financial year of collections under section H2 on Inter-State trade, instead of waiting till the 8th October next.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Whether a decision has yet been arrived at with reference to including the linemen in the “Postal Department in the list of permanent employes under the Commonwealth Public Service Act?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question, supplied to me by the Postmaster-General, isas follows : -
Yes. All such employes who were in the service at the establishment of the Commonwealth have been appointed to the permanent staff, except in a few cases where they are over the statutory age or have not been recommended by :the responsible officers.
Ordered (on motion by Mr. G. B. Edwards) -
That the following paragraph be.added to the return giving particulars of prosecutions under .the Customs Act ordered by this House on the 12th inst :- (7i) The raine of the goods.
Ordered (on motion by Mr. McColl) -
That the petition received by the House on 55th June, 1003, relating to the Murray and other rivers be considered in conjunction with the motion on the same subject, set down for discussion on the 7th August next.
Mr. WILKINSON (Moreton).I move
In asking the House ‘to agree to the motion, I think t may claim that I am making a modest and moderate request, particularly in view of the dimensions to which ihe cotton industry may grow if established within the Commonwealth. Several attempts have been made to foster the industry in Queensland, and honorable members may ask why they have failed. A variety of reasons may be given for their failure. When we remember that it took the Americans nearly 100 years to bring their cotton industry -to anything like the stage of advancement in which it is now, we should not be too hard upon the one or two little efforts which have failed in Queensland. Moreover, we should have regard to the possibilities of the industry in other parts of the Commonwealth than those in which it has been already tried. There are districts in Western Australia and in the more northerly portion of Queensland, where cotton has not been tried to any great extent, which, I believe, offer profitable fields for its growth, and I think that, with the experience which we now possess, we should be more likely to succeed in growing and manufacturing it than we were when those who, without knowing the rudiments of agriculture, first undertook its cultivation were induced to enter the industry by the very heavy bonuses offered by the Government of Queensland. Since then agriculturists have made their homes amongst us, and they are more likely to give a good account of themselves, if they are offered inducements to enter upon cotton-growing, than were those who left the mechanic’s bench and other occupations to try to earn the bonuses offered by the Government. But, perhaps, the chief reason why the industry did not succeed when first it was tried was the slowness of transport between Australia and the places where cotton is manufactured into fabrics. My motion goes a little further than providing for the granting of a small bonus for the growth of cotton ; I wish also to see its manufacture stimulated. When we look back at the history of the great manufacturing towns of Lancashire, and note their marvellous growth within the last GO or 70 years, due to the manufacture of this staple, which we are able to produce as well as to manufacture, I think we should be encouraged to give the assistance for which we are asked. Since placing my notice upon the business-paper, I have received communications from many parts of Queensland, urging me to impress upon this Parliament, as forcibly as I can, the need for giving the industry this start, and complaining that I am asking for too little. ‘ I have made my request moderate, however, so that I shall not be accused of being greedy on behalf of Queensland. I place the cotton industry with the iron, the wool, and the sugar -industry.
– I class the cotton industry with the other industries which I. have named because of its possible magnitude. Wool brings a higher price in the markets of the world than does cotton, while the superiority of Australian wool enables it to command higher prices than are obtained for wool from other countries, so that the wool-growing industry needs no protection here. I am convinced from the evidence which has been put before me that Queensland can produce a cotton which will take a place in the cotton world similar to that which is held by Australian wool in the wool world. I have here a sample of a new variety sent to me from Cairns, which I should like those interested in the matter to examine. Those who do so will agree with the opinion of experts in such manufacturing centres as Manchester, Liverpool, London, and Italy that nothing hitherto submitted to them is nearly equal to it for quality, fibre, and fineness. The gentleman who produced it has been experimenting for a considerable time, and he calls this new variety the Caravonica cotton. Instead of growing on bushes, as we were accustomed to see cotton growing in the sixties, this cotton grows upon trees which are described to me as almost as large as fair-sized orange trees. The grower in question has received an order from the Associated Spinners’ Institute in Italy for 6,000 bales. He is not able to supply that quantity yet, because the area that he has under cultivation is too small, but he writes to say that he has 10 acres of this particular kind of cotton under cultivation, and 50 more planted, and that he has made arrangements to lease ]00 acres to a number of families. All the labour engaged in the industry is white. He does not employ Asiatics or other coloured aliens. That in itself should commend the motion to those who believe in a white Australia. An honest endeavour is being made to promote an industry which will provide occupation for those of our own race in parts of the Commonwealth which the enemies of a white Australia have said it is not possible to people with white men. I should like to quote the opinions of a few authorities with regard to the particular kind of cotton to which I have referred. Dr. Thomatis says -
This variety has been declared by the best experts at .Liverpool, Manchester, Oldham, London, Havre, Genoa, Turin, &o.., as the best known in the whole world, and valued the highest of all. The Liverpool Daily Post had a most flatteringarticle, also other leading journals. . . . The Italian Associated Cotton Spinners declared it really excellent in every respect, and better than the best of American cottons, and they, gave me. an order for 0,000 bales at the highest price.
One of the greatest scientific experts in the Empire, Dr. Morris, who was at one time-, curator of the Kew Gardens, in London,, and who is now the Imperial High Commissioner for Agriculture in the West Indies,- has been cultivating certain new varieties of cotton, but he has not achieved such great success as Dr. Thomatis. ‘The cotton raised by the latter gentleman has been subjected to competition with the varieties produced by Dr. Morris, and it has been adjudged of superior staple.
– Then why is it necessary to offer a bonus ?
– The bonus is needed to give the industry a start, inasmuch asunder the Tariff we have left very little protection for the growers of cotton or themanufacturers of cotton goods.
– But cotton-growing hasbeen started without a bonus, and is being: successfully carried on.
– Many of those whoadvocated low duties under the Tariff said they would prefer to give bonuses for the encouragement of industry, and I submit that we now have an opportunity of. stimulating an industry which, in a few years, will rank in importance with our largest enterprises. A Royal Commission has been appointed to report upon the Bill which was introduced last session to providea bonus for the encouragement of the manufacture of iron from our native ores. Weknow that a great many cf the industries of Great Britain owe their very existence tothe production of iron in the old country and, further, we are aware that some of themost important industrial centres in GreatBritain and other countries owe their prosperity to the manufacture of cotton goods. If,/ therefore, we can afford to offer a fair bonus for the production of iron, I think that we might very well see our way to give the more modest one for which I ask to encourage the growth and manufacture of cotton. I am quite aware that the House has not yet agreed to grant a bonus for the manufacture of iron, but a good deal of favorable consideration has been given to the proposal even by those honorable members who do not believe in a protectionist policy. The object I have in view is to stimulate for a little while an industry which is capable of assuming very large dimensions, and causing the settlement of tens of thousands of people, upon some of the lands of the Commonwealth which are at present unoccupied. One of the results of the cotton-growing rage in Queensland in the sixties and seventies was that people rushed on to the land, and many failures followed, but some of the best settlers we now have were induced to enter into agricultural pursuits by the hope that they would be able to make a success of cotton-growing, and though they have had to turn their attention to other pursuits, the reward offered for the growth of cotton has not been altogether misspent, because it has undoubtedly very largely .promoted the settlement of our agricultural lands. One of our greatest objects should be to make Australia selfsustaining and self-contained. Whatever we can produce we should produce, not only in its raw state, but in the manufactured form required to meet the needs of our people. As far back as 1871 South Sea Island cotton produced in Queensland competed at the Paris Exhibition with similar products grown in other parts of the world, and was awarded a gold medal. Therefore, the adaptability of Queensland for the growth of cotton other than the special variety which I have mentioned has been proved beyond all doubt. Owing to a series of unfortunate events, however, the industry gradually dwindled away after the exportations had reached the volume of 2,750,000 lbs. of cotton in 1876. The failure of the industry was largely due to the destruction caused by a pest called the boll-worm. It may be objected that, as the industry did not respond to the encouragement formerly given, we shall simply be repeating an experiment which is foredoomed to failure ; but the boll-worm which destroyed thousands of acres of cotton just as the crop was maturing can now be coped with, because science has come to the rescue. More than that, whatever cotton was grown here in the old days had to be sent away in sailing ships, which occupied from 1 20 to 130 days in making the voyage to Europe. Railways had not been extended very far then, and the cotton had to be brought to the wharfs in slowmoving bullock drays, or by means of horse teams, so that the farmers could not afford to wait for their returns until their crops were placed upon the market. This threw them into the hands of brokers, who bought the cotton in the unginned condition, and, after extracting the seeds, claimed the bonus which was offered for ginned cotton. Then a series of wet seasons, just when the cotton had to be picked, militated against success. Notwithstanding all these adverse conditions, the industry was carried on with profitable results for many years. The American war- caused the price of cotton to reach a very high point, and the Queensland industry therefore was very considerably helped on its way. At the close of the American war, however, prices again fell, and then the boll-worm caused trouble. These circumstances, together with the other influences which I have mentioned, and the discovery of gold in Queensland, which diverted a large amount of labour from agricultural pursuits, tended to interfere with the continuance of the industry. Later on another effort was made, and a cotton manufacturing company was started at Ipswich. A fairly complete and comprehensive plant was laid down, and it is now standing idle. A bonus of £5,000 was given by the Queensland Government for the manufacture of the first £5,000 worth of calico.
– To whom’ did the money belong ?
– The money granted by way of bonus belonged to the people, and I cannot conceive of any important industry being established without conferring benefit upon the whole community. I should not advocate the granting of the bonus for the sake of the growers only ; but because I believe that the Commonwealth as a whole would benefit from the establishment of an important industry. It is the people’s money which pays for the maintenance of the defence and police forces.
– But that money is spent for the benefit of all the people, and not for a section.
– Exactly ; and my argument is that an industry like that of cotton-growing, which is capable of expansion to enormous proportions, is one which would confer benefit upon the whole of our people.
– Did the £5,000 bonus offered in Queensland do any good ?
– The factory was closed up.
– Shortly after the bonus was paid.
– Yes. I do not wish to go into the details of a private concern of that kind, because opinions differ upon many matters connected with it. My own impression, however, is that the company was badly managed in the beginning, and that it had not sufficient capital to carry on business upon anything like the scale necessary to success. Too much of the floating capital that was available in the beginning was put into bricks and mortar, instead of being used to pay the farmers who delivered cotton at the mills. It was found necessary to give the farmers orders on storekeepers instead of paying them the ready money which they most required. The consequence was that at first the farmers grew more cotton than the factory could consume, and later more than the company could pay for, and some of their product had to be exported to Japan. This did not prove profitable,, and the farmers eventually refused to grow any more cotton for the mills, and the company had in the end to import cotton from abroad to keep the mill going.
– But did the people benefit from the granting of the bonus of £5,000 ?
– The benefit was not apparent in this particular instance, but it does not follow that because that venture failed there is nothing inherently good inthe industry itself. As I have already stated, it took America nearly 100 years to build up the cotton industry. On one occasion a small steamer was seized in Liverpool on some pretext, because the Customs authorities believed that the whole of the United States could not have produced as much cotton as was represented by the cargo said to have been brought from that country. Almost every newspaper which deals with industrial matters contains information to the effect that the manufacturer’s of Great Britain are . greatly concerned as to the future cotton supply. I noticed in one of the magazines that the imports of cotton into Great Britain from the 1st January to the 7th May of this year amounted to 1,887,000 bales. Russia is trying to supply her own demands, Italy obtains cotton from Egypt, America, and other countries, and France and Germany also require that staple. Why should not the people of Queensland endeavour to take a share in meeting these requirements 1
– Cotton can be grown in other parts of the Commonwealth besides Queensland.
– Certainly. Perhaps I sometimes use the name of Queensland when I really intend to speak of the Commonwealth as a whole. It seems to me that we ave favorably situated so far as the cotton supply is concerned, because we are within such easy reach of the densely populated countries of the east. The clothing of people in these Eastern countries, I gather, consists more of cotton articles than of woollen. The people are very numerous, and would probably become large customers for cotton grown in Queensland. In the endeavours which have been made to foster the industry in the northern portion of the Commonwealth, none of the subsidiary products of cotton were utilized. Thousands of tons of valuable cotton seed were absolutely thrown away, whereas today the seed forms one of the most important products of the industry. I have in my hand a paragraph extracted from an article which appears in a trade journal upon the manufacture of cotton-seed oil. It reads as follows : -
According to the census of cotton-seed oil mills in the United States last yeal-, there were fiftysix. The amount of seed used is about 400,000 tons yearly. After being dusted and stripped of lint, the seed goes to a revolving cylinder set with knives, -which cut it very fine. Then the hulls are separated from the meal, and the latter is pressed between rollers and packed in woollen bags which are placed between horsehair mats and subjected to a hydraulic pressure of about 200 tons. The expressed oil is either barrelled in the crude state, or pumped to a refining room, where it is treated with caustic soda, obtaining 82 per cent, of fine oil. The first product derived from this process is the lint, which amounts to about 5 per cent, of a crop ; that is, the country “gin “ takes 95 per cent, of the crop, and the seed retains 5 per cent., which the mills secure. The cotton is very white and clean, but very short, and the best of it sells at 8 cents per lb. It is used to make cotton “ batting.” The crop of the oil mills amounted to 5,000 bales last year. Second, the hulls constitute about one-half of the seed. They are used for fuel to run the mill, and thus the mills do not need to, buy any coal. The ashes make a valuable fertilizer, and they are also “leached” for the purpose of obtaining lye, to make soap. Third, the oil amounts to about .15,000,000 gallons in the United States; and ab6ut 10.000,000 gallons are yearly exported to Europe, where it is used to adulterate olive oil. Three gallons of cotton-seed oil and one gallon of olive oil make four gallons of the average (so-called) olive oil, and the cotton oil can hardly be detected. Fourth, the oil-cake is of a rich yellow colour, and is used principally to feed stock, for which use it is ground, and fed like corn meal. It is shipped in sacks, each weighing 200 lbs. Fifth, the deposit left, when the oil is refined, is used to make soap, and also for making dyes.
There are a number of subsidiary products connected with the manufacture of cotton, not one of which was used when the previous attempts were made to grow cotton in Queensland. These by-products would have made the industry successful, but ewing to lack of knowledge they were allowed to go to waste, either on the fields or in the ginning establishments. In the hope that this Parliament will afford some slight encouragement to the industry, the gentleman who has written to me from Cairns is already making arrangements for the purchase of machinery, by means of which he will be able to utilize these subsidiary products. There can be no question as to the demand which exists for cotton grown within the Commonwealth. Its superiority has been admitted. In support of that statement, I should like to quote the opinion of Mr. Thomas Bazley, a member of the House of Commons, who is one of the largest cotton spinners in Manchester. That gentleman said -
He had used Queensland Sea Island cotton, and it was the best that had ever been imported into England. He had paid 2s. 3d. per lb. for that cotton, when bulk of cotton was selling for Bid. It was so fine that no looms in England or France would spin it, so it was sent to India, and it produced a fabric so fine in texture that it was regarded as a curiosity, and was exhibited alongside the Victorian gold nugget at the Paris Exhibition.
I would remind honorable members that last session I tabled a similar motion upon this subject, but it was not reached, and as a result some of the evidence which I have collected may appear to be somewhat out of date. But that it is equally applicable to-day, is evidenced by a paragraph which appears in the Age of this morning having reference to the anxiety expressed in Great Britain with regard to the cotton supply. The present is a most opportune time for us to embark upon the industry if we wish to take advantage of a market which seems to be begging for the very article that we are so well fitted to produce. The Liverpool Journal of Commerce, of 27th December, 1901, in an article headed “Our Cotton Supply - Possibilities in Queensland,”says -
The fidelity with which the operations on the cotton market follow the fluctuations of opinion anent the American crop with the present flat State of quotations awaiting developments, shows how dependent we are for our Supply upon our Transatlantic neighbours. Any shortage in the American crop reflects itself with the worst effect upon Liverpool, and in turn upon the great army of operatives in Lancashire in general. Viewing the great increase in the number of spindles during the last few 3’ears, we will see that it will become a more and more serious problem to obtain a reliable supply equal to the increasing demand. To this end we might turn our attention to our colonies in search of a suitable locale for a new and permanent source of supply.
The writer goes on to recall the fact that -
At the time of the cotton famine during the American war 35 countries rushed in hot haste into the cultivation of cotton, not as a legitimate enterprise, but as a wild speculation. Of these, the greater number quickly failed, and abandoned the effort. Some few established a lucrative and lasting commerce in inferior types. But the finest varieties, the Georgia Uplands and the Sea lsland cotton, which alone could supply the place of the American product, were more difficult of culture. Queensland succeeded in producing them to perfection.
The history pf our own cotton-growing is then briefly sketched, showing that, in spite of many drawbacks, the export in 1868 had reached 6,032 bales ; but under the combined influence of the stoppage of the Government bonus and the ravages of the boll-worm the yield was reduced in 1870 to 1,884 bales. Prices fell from their abnormal inflation owing to the renewal of the American supply, and with the outbreak of the Gympie gold-field the cultivation practically died out. The article continues -
Now that capital is flowing- into the State, and business is being established on a sounder basis, would be the suitable juncture to enter into a most profitable investment. The soil and climate which produced results so excellent in times past are still there. But drawbacks which operated adversely are no longer existent. Land is obtainable on favorable terms, and the plant is easily and cheaply grown. The bollworm, the only insect enemy of the plant, is no longer to be dreaded. Experiment has demonstrated that its depredations may be entirely prevented by the dissemination of Paris green.
I am indebted to the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs for having brought under my notice a few weeks ago the fact that, as far back as the early fifties, Dr. Lang, one of the greatest Australian statesmen, declared that the cotton industry could be carried on by white labour. The article continues -
The old process of hand-spinning, which was laborious, nay, almost impossible, is superseded by invention and steam-power, and new improvements have disposed of the difficulty of ginning. Cotton picking can be best done by women and children, and it has none of the injurious effects upon health of work in the cane-fields.
– What about the ginning?
– The new form of gin makes that occupation very different from what it was when the honorable member for Capricornia and myself had something to do with this industry. I am quite aware that the honorable member brings a practical knowledge to bear upon this matter. So do I. With the new gin, instead of the cotton flying about in the blow-room, and the dust getting down the throats and into the lungs of the operatives, it now comes out in the form of a wad. The article proceeds -
Families could be settled on the land either as labourers or on a co-operative principle, growing the cotton themselves, and supplying it at a price to a central gin-owner. The cotton produced is of the finest quality, and the by-products are of exceptional value in Queensland. The seed, reserving a certain proportion for replanting (though best results are obtained from a change of seed), produce an oil of good standard, for which there is a ready market. The residue, compressed into oil-cake, would form a valuable asset as a cattle or pig feed. The stalks are utilized in the manufacture of a kind of coarse gunny-bag, and, in the event of the establishment of an industry in olive oil, would be of value for containing the marc. The proposition is one well worth consideration. Not only does it offer large profits on small outlay, but, if undertaken on anything like a large scale with attendant success, it would render our market, and one of our staple industries, less dependent upon America, and less subject to the extremes of depression and undue inflation. The needs of the market aref ully appreciated by foreign countries, and Russia is continually putting larger areas under cotton in her Asiatic possessions. Even so, the product is akin to the Indian cottons, and, even by skilful hybridizing, cannot be made to take the place of the Sea Island cotton, with its unrivalled strength, length, and beauty of staple. Germany, too, is seeking amongst her foreign colonies suitable districts for cottongrowing. We have the land and climate within our reach, and shall be remiss if we neglect to take advantage of it.
If any excuse were needed for asking the House to considerthis subject, itis to be found in the opportune time at which the motion is submitted. There is a market awaiting the industry, and within the borders of the Commonwealth we have many people who can scarcely be said to be remuneratively employed, and who are a tax on the rest of the community. The cry of the unemployed is urgent in all our large cities ; and one object to which we could most wisely direct attention is that of bringing idle lands and idle hands together, in order to produce that which will benefit not only the people immediately engaged, but the whole of the Commonwealth.
– I have much pleasure in seconding the motion. I am in sympathy with all industries which tend to the development of the productive resources of Australia. This great continent depends almost entirely on production, and every effort made by this Parliament to stimulate our natural industries will have my hearty approval. The whole paraphernalia of Parliament, of which we have lately heard so much, should be directed to this one particular purpose. I feel that we are not doing enough at the present time towards the utilization of our resources and the development of industries throughout the Commonwealth. If assistance of the kind proposed has to be given, it should, in the first instance, be given in connexion with industries the productions of which are of world-wide use, such as iron, copper, coffee, tea, and silks, but which we can scarcely expect private enterprise to develop as they should be developed. The cotton industry is one which will not only afford enormous employment on the soil, but will absorb labour in the manufacturing centres, and help to make Australia a self-contained, self-supporting country. A year or two ago an effort was made by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo to have a Bureau of Agriculture established, and I hope something will be done in that direction, because such an organization would be able to make researches, and guide Parliament in such matters as are dealt with in the motion before us. I do not bind myself to all the details of the motion, but, for the reasons I have stated, I second it with pleasure.
– Personally, I am opposed to the motion, which, I presume, is submitted with a view of encouraging the cotton industry in Queensland. I may inform the House that the
State Government of Queensland have already given a bonus of £5,000 for the encouragement of this particular industry, and it is a notable fact that the moment the stipulated amount of cotton had been produced, the company which received the bonus went into liquidation, or, at all events,’ ceased operations. It is very satisfactory to learn from experts that the cotton grown in Queensland is equal to that grown any where else in the world. I, with others, am very pleased to think that in Queensland it is possible to grow cotton of such a line texture as that which has been produced up to the present; but the fact remains that it does not pay to produce cotton in that State. The honorable member, for Moreton has told us that the discovery of gold in various parts of Queensland was the means of diverting attention from the cultivation of cotton. If that be so, it affords strong proof that it is not wise to establish any industry which is a means of bringing about a large influx of cheap and servile labour. The same argument used in regard to the sugar industry is used in regard to the cotton industry, namely, that there is no country where it can be carried on except by the employment of servile labour. That is one of the strongest arguments used by those who favour the employment of cheap coloured labour in the cultivation of sugar in Queensland. The fact is that the price obtained for the cotton produced is not sufficient to benefit the farmers ; at all events, the farmers can find more profitable employment in the cultivation of maize and other agricultural products. Further, the farmers in Queensland resorted to the cultivation of cotton merely as an alternative, cotton being more easily cultivated in very dry seasons than are most of the other agricultural commodities. In Ipswich and neighbourhood there is an even rainfall, and further north there is the heaviest rainfall found in any portion of Australia. Iam now speaking of the coastal districts about Geraldton.
– How do the Queensland samples of cotton compare with those of American cotton?
– I believe that the cotton produced in Queensland, though not on a large scale, is as good as that produced in any part of the world.
– How about the quantity that can. be produced?
– I cannot say, but the manager of the Queensland company, just about the time operations ceased, told me that it had been necessary to import cotton that season in order to carry on the industry.
– Was that not due to the contracted character of the industry ?
– It was due to the fact that the cotton-growers could find more profitable employment in other branches of cultivation.
– It was due to the fact that the funds of the company were mismanaged, and there was no money to pay for the local cotton.
– The price offered for the cotton was so low that, as I say, farmers could find more profitable employment in other directions. The fact stares us in the face that the production of cotton in Queensland is an absolute failure, in spite of the bonus of £5,000. The motion proposes to offer½d. per lb. on’ all ginned cotton, that is, on cotton after the seeds have been taken out. The honorable member for Moreton has informed us that the person engaged in this industry in Queensland has an order for 6,000 bales of cotton, and if we presume that there are 200 lbs. in each bale, although I believe there is more-
– There are generally 300 lbs. in a bale.
-But taking the quantity at 200 lbs., the proposal of the honorable member means the givingof a bonus of £3,750 to the particular person whom he mentioned. If there be more than 200 lbs. in each bale the bonus will, of course, be increased accordingly ; and when it is admitted that the person who will be benefited has an order for 6,000 bales, the whole case for a bonus is really given away. Then, again, who is to receive the £2,500 to be given on the manufactured article’s The company at Ipswich ? It may be said that the bonus is open for any one ; but the fact remains that the machinery and the property of the Ipswich company are worth £10,000, and operations could be commenced to-morrow, with the result that the stipulated quantity of cotton could be produced, and the bonus earned within twelve months.
– The property of the Ipswich company is for sale.
– That is quite true. I make bold to assert, however, that if this motion be carried, the property will not be for sale, but that a strong desire will be shown to continue operations. Who carries on the industry ? The honorable member for Moreton states that it is an industry well adapted for women and children.
– I meant the picking of the cotton.
– That is the operation to which I am referring; but 1 hope the time will come when in Australia women and children will not have to toil in order to provide the living of the family. There has been’ too much of that in the past. The employment of women and children in many industries has so reduced wages that those who were the breadwinners can now barely earn sufficient to keep themselves. In a large number of cases the wages of the head of the household are so low that the women and children have to turn to some form of industry, in order to assist in maintaining the family. It would be far better to see that our children are educated to the highest possible degree before they are allowed to work. By that means we should obtain a class of citizen better fitted to carry
On the various industries and duties of life. There are plenty of industries in Australia without creating others which enter into direct competition with cheap and servile labour in other parts of the world. Then comes the question which is the better material for our people to wear, wool or cotton?
– Wool at one time, and cotton at another.
– We are told by medical men that even in tropical climates wool is a better and healthier material than cotton to wear. However, as I do not wish to occupy the time of the House unduly in discussing this matter, I will content myself with saying that I am opposed to the motion because I believe that if it were passed, and a bonus were granted, it would simply mean that£3,000, £4,000, or £5,000 would begiven to an individual who happens to have a contract for the supply of a certain quantity of a particular kind of cotton ; and because I do not wish to see an industry established which will require the employment of our women and children in the cotton-fields.
– I wish to say a few words in support of the motion. I think that the honorable member for
Moreton has made out a good case. It is quite true that cotton was largely grown in Queensland 30 or 35 years ago.
– What labour was used?
– White labour. The industry is one which is suitable for the employment of white labour, but the advocates for the employment of white labour do not appear to be present this morning. I wish to see the industry reestablished, because of the employment which it will afford to white labour. I am not prepared to say that it has been entirely a failure in Queensland. One reason for the stoppage of cotton-growing there was that prices fell, and the farmers turned their attention to sugar-growing, believing it to be more profitable. Another reason was the distance of Queensland from the cotton markets of the world. Thecotton then had to be sent away in sailingships, and the growers, if they did not sell to local agents or storekeepers, had to wait a long time for their returns. That, of course, was not encouraging. The cotton market of the world is now in a very disturbed state. In the commercial columns of to-day’s Argus the following statementoccurs : -
The American cotton markets have lately been the scene of one of the most notable speculations known for a long time past, and the high prices! which have been established are seriously disturbing manufacturers both in America and Europe. The 1902 crop was fairly large, and the movement to May 22 amounted to 10,433,904 bales, against 10,046,850 bales for the corresponding period of 1901-2, but consumption has increased considerably of late years, while the production has been little more than stationary. The planting for the 1903 crop is twoto three weeks late, so that delay is to be expected in receipts of new eotton towards the close of the year.
Then follow a number of figures with which I shall not weary the House, but the article concludes with the following passage : -
A further effect will no doubt be to encourage the cultivation of cotton in every part of the world adapted to it, and, while this will take time, it may be expected that in a few years the production will become adequate to the world’s requirements.
The following cablegram also appears in the same issue: -
In consequence of the high price of cotton, caused- by the increasing demand for American cotton in the United States, 80,000 operatives in Lancashire are seriously affected.
All the mills are working shorter hours, and. in Manchester the mills are to be closed on Saturdays and Mondays until further notice.
There are now 80,000 workers in England who are nearly idle because of the insufficient supply ‘of cotton in the world’s markets, so that this is a most opportune time for bringing forward a motion of the kind we are discussing. The honorable member for Moreton has, in my opinion, made out a case which deserves consideration. In many respects our conditions now are different from what they were 30 years ago. For one thing, we have markets which are much nearer than the only markets to which we could send then. In the early part of this year I had the pleasure of visiting Japan, and I was amazed to see the progress which that country has made within the last three decades. One finds there immense factories, employing from 1,000 to 3,000, or 4,000 operatives. .One of the large factories which I visited was kept going day and night, 2,000 men, women, and children working there during the day-time, and as many at night. I made inquiries as to where the cotton came from, because I thought that it would be a splendid market, for cotton grown in Australia - and Queensland is not the only State in which cotton can profitably be grown. I was told that it came principally from America, India, and Egypt, and, knowing that I came from Queensland, the people there said to me - “ Why do you not go in more largely for cotton-growing in Queensland 1 We could take all you would produce. We1 grow cotton in Japan, but it is not suitable for manufacturing purposes. It i3 too short in the staple, . and is used by <us only for mattresses and cushions. We now take nearly all the wool we manufacture from Australia, buying it either there or through our agents in London.” I contend that the motion has been brought forward at the most opportune time, and I hope that honorable members will pass it with a view to the establishment of a new industry, which will give employment to a great many workers.
– No exception can be taken to the manner in which the honorable member for Moreton has introduced this subject for our consideration, and we are under a debt of gratitude to him for the information which he has placed at our disposal. At the same time the Government cannot see their way -to accept the motion on this occasion. We propose to limit our efforts in the direction of bonuses this session to the sugar bonus, which we have already provided for, and to the iron bonus proposals, which are now under the consideration of a Commission, and which we hope to introduce shortly to the notice of the House. Inasmuch, therefore, as in the natural order of things, the granting of a bonus on cotton is a matter which must be left to a subsequent Parliament; we think that it would be a. pity to attempt to pledge its members in any way by passing this motion. We are not in the slightest degree oblivious of the importance of bonuses. We know the stimulating effect which they produce in regard to industries which cannot be ‘encouraged in any other way, though many of those industries are now being aided, so far as the home market is concerned, by the benevolent assistance of a protective Tariff.
– The Tariff has become a benevolent institution now !
– Yes; for the deserving and capable. I was very much struck when in Queensland with the capabilities of the country. In many respects, what I saw there was a revelation to me. I think that industries can be successfully established there of which few dream now. Queensland is one of our greatest States, and though she was at the time of my visit suffering under a depression from which some of the other States were also suffering, she appeared to me to be endowed with resources and potentialities which are not second to those possessed by any other State. I was particularly interested in what I saw and learned of the cotton industry while there. One of the saddest sights I ever saw was the deserted factory at Ipswich. A considerable amount of money was expended in erecting that factory, and in purchasing the many machines which now stand idle there. I was shown specimens of cloth which had been produced there, and it seemed to me that the capabilities of the State for the growth and manufacture of cotton were fully demonstrated. But how do matters stand there ? A bonus was given, and yet the final result is this deserted factory and unused machinery. We do not want a repetition of occurrences like that. The experience of the past warns us to be careful. In Queensland the offer of a bonus was made, the bonus was earned, and not long afterwards, because of the fall of the price of cotton, consequent upon the ending of the American war, the industry practically ceased to exist. How does the matter stand to-day ? The capacity of Queensland for cotton production has been further demonstrated. There are gentlemen in Queensland who devote much of their time to work of a highly creditable character in connexion with the investigation of the possibilities of developing new industries. Chief among these, perhaps, is Dr. Thomatis, to whom the honorable member for Moreton has specially referred, and to whom the Government of Queensland have at various, times been much indebted for valuable information. I was very interested to read - and there is no doubt about the fact - that the cotton which he has produced in Queensland from, I think, South Sea seed has been submitted to the judgment of experts of the highest character in Europe; with the result that it has been adjudged not only equal, but far superior, to anything previously seen. We therefore need entertain no doubt as to the capacity of Queensland for cotton production. Further, we are encouraged by the fact that the price of cotton to-day is higher than it has been for a long time. We are informed by the newspapers that about 80,000 operatives in the Lancashire cotton mills are working on short time - only four days a week - because, owing to increased consumption in America, the supply of cotton is not sufficient to keep them fully occupied. On the other hand, we know of the difficulty which arises when it is suggested that we should be able to supply foreign markets in competition with the cheapest labour in the world. I do not intend to speculate as to the results which may follow from the latest fiscal proposals of some members of the Imperial Government. While we recognise the capacity of Queensland to produce cotton, we must not ignore the effect of the market on the industry, but must proceed, I will not say slowly, but carefully at least, before we pledge ourselves to a repetition of the attempt made by the Queensland Government, with a possibility of the same undesirable result. It must not be assumed that I am at this moment indicating finally what our intention is. We have given some proof of our belief in the system of bonuses. We do not say that that principle is inapplicable to the encouragement of cotton-growing or anything else ; but we do not propose to deal with the matter during this session. J do not think that we are called upon to indicate our possible attitude, beyond saying that we shall give the subject our best consideration, and that in connexion with the system of bonuses, we shall at the right time take an opportunity of declaring whatour intentions are. I ask honorable members to say that we have neither time nor opportunity to finally dispose of a matter like this at present. It should be left to thenew Parliament to deal with, and, under all the circumstances, I suggest to the.honorablemember that he should not ask the Houseto decide the matter now, because his object may be prejudiced by a decision at this* stage.
Motion (by Mr. L. E. Groom) negatived -
That the debate be now adjourned.
– I shall support the honorable member for Moreton if any guarantee can be given that theestablishment of the cotton-growing industry in Queensland will not result in an appeal being made to us at a later stage to permitblack labour to be employed upon the cotton plantations, in order that competition may be successfully carried on with the cotton-growers in the SouthernStates of America. I am afraid that when the industry reaches a certain stage we shall have the planters coming to us and askingpermission to employ black labour, and thatthose who oppose the proposal will be accused of killing a great natural industry. At onetime cotton-growing was the principal industry of America, and that staple represented almost the total export from thatcountry. Hence it was said that cotton wasking. I desire to guard against any repetition of the trouble in America in connexion with the employment of black labouron the plantations. I should like also tosee some provision made against the operations of rings, trusts, and combinations. There is no shortage of cotton in America,, but the present condition of affairs has been brought about by the operation of two greatopposing combinations of “bulls” and “bears.” One of these parties is led by Daniel Sully, of Rhode Island, and the other by Mr. Brown, a well-known operator on the Stock Exchange. They have locked’ up all the cotton, and their operations, which are backed by Rockefeller on the oneside and Keane on the other, have assumed enormous proportions. The New York Stock Exchange has been very excited, and the two combinations are fighting to keep-. back the supply of cotton in order to meet a break in the market. That is the cause of the scarcity. If the cotton industry is to be established in Australia, I do not wish to see it bring evil in its train, or to lead to the employment of young children in factories. Only lately, the cotton mills of New Jersey were being worked by the employment of children night and day, and Governor Franklin Murphy of that State declared that if the factory-owners did not reduce the working hours and dispense with children under a certain age, he would close them up.
– I thought protection would stop all that.
– No. Protection in some cases unfortunately aggravates the evil.
– Order ! The honorable member is going beyond the scope of the question.
– In the southern States of America the owners of cotton plantations let out blocks of 5 or 10 acres to a coloured man and his family, who raise the cotton, and who, when they bring it in, are allowed a certain percentage of the proceeds, or some equivalent. If our growers have to compete in the open markets of the world they will have to employ a class of labour similar to that now engaged upon the cotton plantations in the southern States. I desire to utter a word of warning now, so that if I live for another fifteen or twenty years I can say to those who desire to employ coloured labour that I entered my protest against Australia taking to her bosom a political viper to poison the whole community.
– I happen to know something about cottongrowing in Queensland. I was in that State in 1876, the year mentioned by the honorable member for Moreton as that in which the largest quantity of cotton was produced. The maximum export was only 2,750,000 lbs. What is the use of asking for a bonus to encourage an industry which, assumed only small proportions under conditions of considerable encouragement? The value of the bonus would be about £5,750, and supposing that under encouragement by the Government we were able within a year or two to export an equal quantity, the salaries of the officials employed in the new Department which would be created would probably more than absorb the total value of the bonus. Some of the arguments used by the honorable member for Oxley seem tobe opposed to his view. He has told usthat cotton is scarce, and that pricesare rising. If so, why should a bonusbe required 1 I could make myself very popular if I were to advocate a bonus. upon coffee, and I should rise ten timeshigher in favour if I were to propose a. bonus to encourage the growth of pine-apples. A very cute and clever American gentleman at Rockhampton, who is endeavouring toopen up a large trade in pine-apples, would be very well suited with a bonus, but I donot intend to oblige him. It has recently been discovered that snake poison is of theutmost value for medicinal purposes, and we might as reasonably propose to grant a. bonus to encourage the production of thatfluid. If during a period of good pricesand strong demand for cotton Queensland could not compete with Egypt and India, how will she be able to do so now t Thefailure of the cotton-growing industry in Queensland was due to the fact that thosewho were engaged in it did not know enough about it. They had not the capitalnecessary to enable them to pay mcn whoknew the business, and they failed. Thesame reason is at the bottom of half thefailures which take place in the Commonwealth. In the old days of cottongrowing in Queensland, the cotton seed wasthrown away, until a smart dairymanin Victoria discovered that it was good fodder for increasing the yield of milkHe bought this stuff for about 10s. a ton.. He was not imbued with any fanciful ideas about fostering the industry in Queensland.. The fact is that, whilst the cotton-seed oil caused the cows to yield an enormous quantity of milk, it was milk of an inferiorquality from which butter could not bemade. It is very interesting to hear about, the experience of the cotton mill in Ipswich. I lived in that town for several1 years, and I know that the mill there closed up soon after its establishment. If we- i grant the proposed bonus, history will repeat itself. In order to help that very j company, I was one of its biggest customers. The manager approached me, and said that a bonus would be of great assistance to him if he could get the necessary orders. I replied that it was merely aquestion of price which was involved, adding that if he could compete with England he could have the orders. As the result- of our conversation, I agreed to give him 5 per cent, above the English price. But after he had received the order and turned out 30,000 or 40,000 yards of cotton, the mill suspended operations and could not supply more. The same result would follow any attempts made to establish the industry by the payment of a bonus. If industries cannot flourish in the open market. they are not worth bolstering up.
– I entirely agree with the attitude which the Government take up in regard to this matter. In my opinion the question is not so much a fiscal as a social one. The attitude which any Government intends to assume towards tropical industries is a subject worthy of the most serious consideration. So far, the experience we have had of such industries is anything but encouraging, and I maintain that any Government possessed of a proper sense of their responsibility would hesitate greatly before embarking upon such enterprises. We were told by the honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. O’Malley, that the inevitable result of any attempt to cultivate cotton in Australia will be the introduction of cheap labour, and in saying so he merely voiced what we may all read in any book dealing with the- industrial history of America. We can establish these tropical industries only by getting down to the tropical standard of living. Therefore, altogether apart from fiscal considerations, this question is of grave importance. The establishment of tropical industries in Australia can lead only to future trouble. It may happen that when ‘we have 200 or 300 inhabitants to the square mile we shall have to embark upon what I choose to term these marginal industries. But whilst we have an abundance of uncultivated soil, unlimited opportunities for the production of articles which pay much better and allow of better social conditions obtaining, any Government should be very wary before entering upon tropical industrial pursuits. One industry in the north of Queensland ought to form a sufficient object lesson to Australia for a long time to come. There is the sugar industry, for example, which has to be kept upon its feet by an expenditure that is more than equal to guaranteeing the whole of the capital that has been invested in it. When the Government has to find the necessary capital to support such industries, it is questionable whether it should not nationalize them. I do not see the marginal line between industrial socialism and these tremendously heavy imposts. I understand that if the honorable member for Moreton were successful in carrying this motion, the proposed bonus would be paid to one firm. There is only one firm in Australia possessed of a plant which is worth £10,000, or which could produce immediately £5,000 worth of .cotton, goods, and consequently that firm only could claim the bonus. I do not think that any honorable member, protectionist or free-trader, will consent to the payment of a bonus to one particular company which has already received large bonuses from the Queensland Government. I am surprised that the honorable member for Oxley, who is a commercial as well as a much-travelled man, should support this audacious proposal. We are told that there is a rising market for cotton, and that the conditions in Queensland are eminently suitable for its successful growth. We have the soil, climate, and indeed everything which makes for an environment favorable to the growth of cotton. We are told that there is an abundant and constantly increasing market for that article at our very doors. Honorable members have also been informed that this particular company has already received £5,000 from the Queensland Government by way of bonus - an amount that is equal to one-half the capital that has been invested in. the industry. Why has it not succeeded 1 Why does it not succeed under ;such circumstances? Will it succeed if we make the proposed deed of gift - -for that is I what it practically represents - of £2,500 to it 1 In my opinion, the Government is acting, wisely in fighting shy of a step of that kind. No one has cause to complain of the efforts made by the honorable member for Moreton to convince the House of the desirableness of sanctioning the motion. But I repeat that this is ‘ not merely a fiscal question. If I were a supporter of the fiscal policy of the Government, I should do all that I could to prevent them from embarking upon the encouragement of an industry which can lead only to future trouble in Australia. I venture to say that even America, as a whole, would be stronger and better industrially than she is to-day if she were minus many of her tropical industries, which have been described as a gnawing cancer within the bosom of the body politic. The
Government are taking up awise attitude upon this question. If we are to have our fights as to what is the best industrial policy for the Commonwealth to follow, let us have them in regard to industries which are common to all civilized peoples. But do not let us be led away by references to Japan and the Southern States of America. Let them work out their own destiny under their own industrial conditions and standards of living. We ought not to transplant such conditions to Australia.
– I entirely differ from the honorable member for Parramatta in the view which he entertains of this proposal. What is the attitude which he adopts ? In effect, he says that we should not sanction the payment of any bonus to encourage the cotton industry, because it is a tropical industry. He alleges that in other countries all such industries lead to trouble because they are carried on by coloured labour. His statement is practically equivalent to a declaration that, in the framing of a Tariff having a protective incidence, the whole of the northern portions of South Australia, Western Australia, and Queensland should be accorded no consideration. Apparently we are to look only to the southern portion of Australia - to those regions south of a line extending from Brisbane across the continent. We are to bring allthe people to the southern districts and to let the north go hang. Was that his idea in advocating a white Australia policy?
– That is a figment of the honorable and learned member’s own fancy.
– I am very glad to hear that it is not the honorable member’s idea. Here is an industry which we know from experience can be successfully carried on by white labour.
– What was the experience in Queensland?
– I will give the honorable member the figures -
Beginning in 1862, when 14,344 lbs. of cotton were exported, of an average value of1s.11d. per lb., and up to the year 1871, during which period 20,000,000 lbs. were exported, the cotton industry flourished. Then came a gradual decline, and finally abandonment of production.
Special reasons contributed to that result. What I have read is an extract from an article in the Queensland Agricultural Journal of 1st February, 1901, by Mr. D. Jones, on the cotton industry, and it shows the growth and expansion which took place in Queensland. I think I am right in saying that at that time the industry was carried on almost exclusively by white labour, to which it is our desire to give every possible employment. I have in my possession a book written by Dr. Lang, and published in 186 1, in which awhiteAustralia policy was advocated. Amongst other questions Dr. Lang asked was as to what was to be the mission of Queensl and as a com ponen t part of the Empire, the writer, even at that early stage, standing out as an Imperialist. He regarded Queensland as a desirable field for immigration; and he endeavoured to prove that there was a possibility of successfully establishing in Australia, even in what are called tropical regions, a white population engaged in the production of such staples as cotton and sugar. Dr. Lang devoted a great deal of time and energy to this matter. He went to the old country and published pamphlet after pamphlet, and in his book there is a long chapter on the question of cotton growing. The result of his effort was that a large number of immigrants came to Queensland from Great Britain and engaged in the cotton industry, and these people now form some of the best colonists possessed by that State. I am sure that it is the desire of the honorable member for Parramatta to have as many white people as possible settled in all parts of Australia.
– Under good conditions.
– -My position is that cotton-growing is an industry which can give employment to white people, and that if it can be promoted by a small bonus, sympathy and encouragement ought to be extended to it. It has been proved that cotton can be grown in Australia if encouragement be given.
– Pine-apples could be grown at the North Pole with “ encouragement.”
– I trust we are speaking within the bounds of reason, and not resorting to exaggerated or absurd arguments. We hear a good deal at the present time about trade reciprocity, and in England there is a great demand for cotton, which may open the way for trade reciprocity. In the London Daily Mail, of the 23rd March last, there is an article on the question, in which the following occurs : -
There hits been a scarcity of raw cotton for three years past, although the demand is constantly increasing, and most of the Lancashire mills hare hari to work short time for a part of each year, because they could not get cotton enough to spin, and, for that which was to be had, exorbitant prices were demanded. This caused great loss to the employers last year, and the Operatives’ Society spent £10,000 in outofwork pay in Oldham alone.
That shows clearly that in England there is a shortage, and the article, which gives the reason, proceeds -
In 1890 the cotton crop was 7,311. 302 bales : of that Great Britain took 38 per- cent, and the States 32 percent. In 1902. the crop was some 10,700,000 bales, of which the United States took 37 per cent, and Great Britain 28 per cent.
Then come the significant words -
The greater the demand America places on her own crop, the greater is the anxiety of the English manufacturers to protect themselves by finding fresh sources of supply, for while cotton consumption has increased by only 3’G per cent, in Britain in the last ten years, the increase in the States has been 00 ‘75 per cent.
That is to say, there is such great demand for the raw material in the United States, that there is at the present time a shortage in the old country ; and the British Cotton Growers’ Association has been formed with the view of promoting the growth of cotton within the British Empire, their attention being directed to Australia, amongst other countries. As shown in another book which I recently read, the cotton industry is not only possible in Queensland, but, according to some experts, could l>e successfully carried on even as far south as Victoria, and in many parts of New South Wales. Undoubtedly, there is a large area in Australia where the commodity could be produced. The honorable member for Moreton has done valuable service in bringing this matter before us. The fact has been emphasized that there is a great demand for raw cotton in England, and we have had undoubted testimony, afforded in the samples submitted for inspection in the chamber, that the industry can be carried on successfully in Australia. The desire of the honorable member is not to give the subsidy to any particular company ; his desire is that some encouragement should be given to any factory in Australia, and that a market should at the same time be found for an additional product of white labour. Under the circumstances, however, I feel that the honorable member for Moreton cannot do otherwise than withdraw the motion, as suggested by the Minister for Trade and .Customs.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).The honorable member for Moreton is to be congratulated on bringing forward this question, and presenting to the House all the facts connected with the cotton industry. This is one of the many industries which cannot possibly be established in Australia without assistance, and the usual experience is that when such an industry has been set on foot, the required quantity of the material cannot be produced without the employment of inferior labour. We have enacted legislation to prevent the importation of inferior labour into Australia, and the people who are interested in this industry say that the next best thing for them is a bonus. There is no doubt that with the assistance of a bonus it is possible to fully carry out the undertaking made with the Government; but we may rest assured that immediately the bonus is exhausted the factory will be closed up, and, as was pointed out by the Minister for Trade and Customs, the whole of the .-610,000 worth of machinery left idle. The bonus of £5,000 offered by the Queensland Government having become exhausted, those engaged in the industry find that they are unable to proceed without either cheap labour or further financial assistance, and they therefore now appeal to the Federal Government for a second instalment in the terms of this motion. I am of opinion- that cotton-grow.ing, like many other industries, cannot be regarded as an industry native to Australia, seeing that it cannot possibly be carried on without inferior labour or a bonus ; and the bonus system is one of the most pernicious that can be introduced in a young community. I am further of opinion that this is not a social question, but purely a fiscal question. So long as the law against the importation of inferior labour remains, such labour cannot be employed in a cotton factory, so that no social question is raised in the sense expressed by the honorable member for Parramatta. It is purely a fiscal question - whether there shall be a bonus, or whether there shall be an excessive protective duty. The Queensland firm engaged in the cotton industry have found that the Minister for Trade and Customs has a weakness for bonuses, and they have been able to influence the honorable member for Moreton to bring forward this motion, believing that they are as much entitled to assistance in this shape as those engaged in the sugar industry or in the iron industry, whose cause the Minister for Trade and Customs has taken up so enthusiastically. It has been found in the case of the cotton industry, as in the case of other industries elsewhere, that immediately a bonus is exhausted, and employes are to be discharged, an application is made for an increased bonus or protection. . History is repeating itself in this country, as it has repeated itself in every other country where a bounty system has been established. I am pleased to find that the Government have no intention of supporting this motion beyond affording the cold and unsympathetic statement? that at some future time it may be considered.
– How does the honorable member know that?
– The Minister for Trade and Customs stated that there is no time this session to consider the matter, and that it might be brought forward in the next Parliament. But with our experience of the sugar bonus proposals there is very little likelihood of the next Parliament taking up the caseof the cotton industry with any enthusiasm. I congratulate the Minister in advising the honorable member for Moreton to withdraw his motion.
– There is a phase of the question that has not been presented to the House. I regard the motion as another attempt to insert the thin end of the wedge of protection in Brisbane and Queensland generally. Some few years ago the Queensland Government offered a bonus of £5,000 for the production of 50,000 yards of calico manufactured from cotton grown in the State; and the requisite amount of calico was manufactured. The State Government were under the impression, as had been foreshadowed in the speech of the Minister who introduced the Bonus Bill, that the measure would result in the employment of thousands of I pounds worth of locally-manufactured and imported machinery.
– And, of course, in “keeping the money in the country.”
– My impression is that the money went into the pockets of the shareholders of the Ipswich Woollen Company. I asked the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs when he was speaking to give the House the history of the cottongrowing and calico-making efforts to which I have referred, but he carefully evaded the point. Machinery for the manufacture of the 50,000 yards of calico was provided, but that was done by simply converting the old machinery in the woollen mill at the cost of a few pounds into machinery suitable for the production of calico; and as soonas the bonus had been secured the mill was closed. As a matter of fact, cotton-growers had left on their hands a lot of cotton which they could not dispose of locally, and they had to send it to England.
– How much was invested in the industry ?
– I do not suppose that more than £100 was required to convert the machinery. All the company did was to capture the £5,000 bonus, and shut up shop directly afterwards.
Mr.L. E. Groom. - A sum of £20,000 was invested in machinery for the cotton industry.
– The company spent £20,000 in importing machinery for their woollen mills in order that they might compete with the mills in Victoria. The fact is that the company wanted hew machinery, and the Queensland taxpayers helped to buy it. I wonder that the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, if he wanted to be perfectly honest, did not tell the House that fact.
– I have only just learned it.
– The matter was debated in the Queensland Parliament, and is fully reported in the Queensland Hansard. As soon as enough calico had been made to ea rn the bonus, the persons engaged in the industry shut up shop. If they had invested £20,000 solely in the cotton business, is it not apparent to every one that they would have kept at work a little longer, trying to get some return for that expenditure, in addition to the £5,000 they got from the Government ? Every one in Queensland knows that the machinery used was converted for the spinning of cotton merely to take the Government down for £5,000.
– A great deal more than the required quantity of calico was made.
– Of course, they could not limit the growing of the cotton to the exact quantity required to earn the bonus ; but as soon as they got the money, the price of cotton fell so greatly that growers could not continue to grow it. I applaud the honorable member for Moreton for bringing forward his motion, and if he can fool the House into granting the bonus, by all means let him do so. I shall, however, vote against his motion, because I consider it the introduction of the thin edge of the wedge of protection. In Victoria, the promoters of woollen mills told the people, “If you give us a little protection, say, 35 per cent., we shall not want a bonus.” I suppose the Queensland manufacturers would not want a bonus on cotton if they could get a duty of 35 per cent. I ask the honorable member for Moreton if he honestly believes that cotton can be grown and manufactured in Queensland as cheaply as cotton goods can be imported?
Mr. WILKINSON (Moreton).- In reply to the honorable member for Maranoa, I must say. that I do not think that cotton can be manufactured in Queensland as cheaply as it can be imported. I rise now to ask leave to withdraw my motion, because I see no hope of carrying it, although I think the discussion we have had will do good. I hope honorable members will believe that, in introducing the motion, I was not considering the interests of any particular firm or number of people, but that I brought it forward from honest motives, hoping to give a start to an enterprise which would grow into a very large and important industry.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).I move -
That, in the opinion of this House, section 41 of the Public Service Regulations should be amended by the deletion of the first sentence therein. .
The regulation to which the motion draws attention, and the first sentence of which I want the House to cause to be struck out, is as follows : -
Officers not to take part in politics. - Officers are expressly forbiddento publicly discuss or in any way promote political movements. They are further forbidden to use for political purposes information gained by them in the course of duty.
Then follow regulations to which I take no objection, and which are in these words -
Except in the course of official duty, no information concerning public business, or any matter of which an officer has knowledge officially, shall be given directly or indirectly by an officer without the express direction or permission of the permanent head or responsible Minister.
Officers are prohibited from seeking the influence or interest of any person in order to obtain promotion, removal, or other advantage.
To my mind, there are great objections to the first of the regulations I have read, and I should like to know what authority for it exists inthe PublicServiceAct. Ihavelooked carefully through the Act, and, although I do not profess to be able to give a legal opinion, I cannot see that it gives authority for such a regulation. Parliament discussed the terms under which public servants should work, and laid down a number. of conditions. Section 79 of the Act provides that -
Except with the express permission of the Governor-General, which permission may at any time, by Order in Council, be withdrawn, no officer shall
Accept or continue to hold an office in or under the Government of any State, or in or under any public or municipal corporation ; or
Accept or continue to hold or discharge the duties of or be employed in a paid office in connexion with any banking, insurance, mining, mercantile, or other com mercial business. . . .
Accept or engage in any employment other than in connexion with the duties of his office or offices under the Commonwealth.
Those provisions are the nearest approach to anything like an authority for the regulation which I have read. With regard to the making of regulations, section 80 provides that -
The Governor-General may make, alter, or repeal regulations for the carrying out of any of the provisions of this Act, and in particular for all or any of the following purposes.
Then are detailed very completely the purposes for which regulations may be made. There is nothing in that provision which suggests that the Governor-General may make a regulation for depriving public servants of rights of citizenship which they would enjoy if they were not in the employ of the Commonwealth. I have asked the Minister for Home Affairs what authority there is for the regulation, but I have not been able to obtain a satisfactory answer from him. Perhaps the Prime Minister can give me the information I require. It seems to me a very wrong thing that if there is no such authority, the Public Service Commissioner, the Minister, or the Ministry should have usurped the powers of the Legislature. We, as Members of Parliament, should be very careful that regulations made under an Act do not go beyond its scope. In this case that is undoubtedly what has happened. My chief objection to the regulation is that the prohibition it contains is so very wide. It is much further-reaching, I think, than any similar provision in any other set of regulations governing public servants in the States. To forbid an officer to in any way promote political movements means to prohibit him from joining any organization which is in any degree political. This regulation prevents officers from becoming members of temperance alliances, of effective voting leagues, of loyal Orange institutions, of single tax leagues, of protectionist associations, and of free-trade associations, and practically deprives them of all rights of citizenship, with the exception of the light to record their votes at elections. Under the regulation, a man would be unwise to discuss the advantages of tree planting by the Government.
– I admit that as a general rule a certain amount of discretion will be exercised ; but a difference of opinion must always exist as to what matters trespass upon the political domain, and should not be allowed to be discussed, and what are perfectly harmless. As a rule, the temperance question does not, in Australia, divide political parties, and it is not considered a question which is likely to affect politics very considerably. But any member of the Commonwealth public service who joined a temperance alliance, or who spoke on the public platform for or against. the liquor traffic, would be a fool, because he would thereby, under this regulation, render himself liable to dismissal. I know that it is objectionable for public servants to interfere in political matters, more especially those connected with the Department in which they may be employed, but this is not the right way in which to try to prevent such interference. We do not want to employ a steam hammer to crack a nut, but that is what the Government are doing. The regulation puts it in the power of any future Government to tyrannize over the public service of the Commonwealth. Some Governments tyrannize over their public servants, and stretch the regulations as far as they can against them. Therefore, we should see that the Government do not take more power under the regulations than is necessary to enable the work of the service to be carried on efficiently.
– There was the case of the Victorian schoolmaster who was recently brought to book.
– Yes ; that was a. clear case of official tyranny.
– The schoolmaster was. found not guilty
– Yes, because the criticisms which he passed upon members of the Government were uttered at a private meeting.
– And also because it was held that a Minister was not a superior officer within the meaning of the regulations.
– I do not wish to discuss the details of am7 particular case. It is quite enough for us to know that because a public servant criticised the actions of the Victorian Government at a private meeting, he was called to account, and made to show that he was not a fit subject for dismissal. The regulation was strained with a new to send the nian about his business, and prevent him frsm further discharging the duties which he was engaged to perform. Under the Commonwealth regulation, as it stands, no public servant could be a member of the Effective Voting League. Under ordinary circumstances, very little interest would probably attach to the subject which engages the attention of that body, but it might be brought into great political prominence, and the Government might hold that public servants had no right to take any active part in furthering the object of the league. We should really aim at preventing public servantsfrom doing anything that would lead to waste of time, or interference with the proper discharge of their duty. We have no right to prevent them from exercising their rights and privileges as citizens in connexion with associations such as” I have indicated. All we are justified in doing is to prevent them from criticising the administration of the Departments with which they may be connected. Public servants should not publicly, or even privately, do that, and they should not divulge information gained in the performance of their duties. If we take precautions against these abuses we shall do all that is required. I notice that during a discussion which took place upon this subject in another place, it was stated that the prohibition imposed by the Commonwealth Public Service regulations was to be found in all the States regulations. Reference was made to the South Australian regulations, which were passed in 1875, and to the Victorian regulations, which are very much the same.
– Do not quote the Victorian regulations ?
– The South Australian and Victorian regulations are very much alike.
– The Victorian regulation is much more stringent.
– In South Australia they had a regulation to the effect that public servants should not take part in politics, except by the exercise of the franchise. But an amended regulation relating to the matter under discussion was approved by the Governor in Council on 5th June, 1895, as follows : -
Officers ure expressly prohibited from taking any part in political affairs whilst on duty, other; wise than by the exercise of the franchise. Any officer who uses for political purposes information gained by him in the course of duty shall be summarily dismissed.
That is really a sensible regulation which lias worked extremely well.
– Under that regulation could officers write to the press ?
– Certainly not. No officer can as a public servant write to the press in South Australia.
– But as an individual he can.
– An officer is not allowed to write to the press, but he can take an)’ other part in political affairs, so long as the Department in which he is employed is not affected.
– Can a public servant criticise the administration of any Department other than that in which he is employed ?
– He can speak freely upon any political subject not connected with the Department in which he is employed so long as he does not use information obtained in the course of his duty. For instance, I do not see why a postman should not discuss the fiscal question with the utmost freedom without the slightest injury to the public service. Similarly the public interest cannot be adversely affected b)’ a Customs officer discussing the advantages of a posted union or penny postage. Yet under the regulation as it now stands, such conduct is expressly prohibited. A regulation framed upon the same lines as that now in force in South Australia would meet all the requirements of the case without unnecessarily imposing disabilities upon the public servants.
– Who framed the South Australian regulation 1
– The Minister for Trade and Customs, who was always regarded as extremely strict, and as ready to jump on any public servant who strayed from the path of his duty in the slightest degree.
– Who framed the Commonwealth regulation ?
– I do not know, but apparently some one who wanted to absolutely prevent public servants from being anything more than mere machines - absolute slaves without any of the ordinary rights of citizenship. In another place it has been recommended that the regulation should be altered by the insertion of the word “ publicly “ before the word “promote.” This amendment would make the regulation read as follows : -
Officers are expressly forbidden to publicly discuss, or in any way publicly promote, political movements.
That is not what is required. We do not want men to secretly and privately promote political movements - to do in an underhand way what they are. expressly forbidden from doing in public. Under this regulation, a man might belong to any kind of secret or revolutionary society, whereas he would be prevented from openly belonging to the least harmful organization.
– Then the present regulation is better than that proposed.
– The proposed amendment would make the regulation very much worse in some respects. I believe that the recommendation was somewhat hastily adopted in another place, and that if more time had been taken, the alteration would not have been suggested in that form. I would urge the Government to adopt the South Australian form of regulation, which has worked extremely well, and which would be in every respect preferable to the Commonwealth regulation now in force.
– I trust that the Government will see their way clear to adopt the proposal which has been put forward by the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor, in his usual reasonable and persuasive way. For my own part I see very little difficulty in supporting him in the most hearty fashion. The practice of differentiating between civil servants and other citizens of the State which has ‘been adopted by the various States has always been a matter of surprise to me. In one State at least we have just seen this policy carried to an extreme, which, I think, proves that the principle underlying it is radically bad. There is no doubt that the civil servant, in his relation to the State, occupies a dual position. He is first of all a servant of the State, but in addition he is a citizen of the State. That is a fact which has been to a very large extent disregarded, but which ought not to bedisregarded by the Government and the Parliament of our democratic Commonwealth. In his capacity as a servant of the State, the civil servant undoubtedly should not be allowed the exercise of criticism to an extent that would undermine discipline, and I am glad to see that my honorable friend fully recognises that. I believe that the civil servants themselves fully recognise the necessity for some restriction in this respect. But such a restriction can be imposed without depriving them of their rights of citizenship. Surely they are entitled, in common with all of us, to take an interest in the affairs of their country. Surely they ought to be able to stand up in a public meeting and express their views upon matters which cannot - by any process of reasoning - be held to include the administration of their own particular Departments. As the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor, has indicated, there are many matters of the mostinnocent character which a civil servant is precluded by these regulations from touching in any public way. I quite agree with him that if this restraint be imposed on civil servants, they will naturally take an interest in public affairs in other ways more liable to be abused. In these days we cannot prevent an educated man from biking an interest in the affairs of his country. I am proud that it is so, because it is upon this inalienable right of the people of the Commonwealth that our liberties are based. In all fairness the civil servant, in common with the rest of us, cannot be deprived of what is properly regarded as the birthright of Britishers. We all believed at the inauguration of the Commonwealth that federation would result in an improvement in many respects of the conditions which prevailed under the States Governments. I am very glad that that belief is being realized. We have already proof of it in the laws which have been placed upon our statute-book. It seems to me, however, that in acquiescing in this particular regulation we are adopting the practice of the States instead of supplying them with a precedent for their future guidance. Many of us anticipated that we should be able to bring about that condition of things which the poet indicated when he said that -
Freedom broadens slowly down
From precedent to precedent.
We hoped to establish many precedents, and I trust that the Government and honorable members will take into consideration the question of whether the creation of a precedent in regard to this particular matter does not properly devolve upon us. I believe that it does. I hold that the conditions which have obtained in the various States are unworthy of the best traditions of British freedom. I sincerely hope that before long we shall be able to point to the improvement of this particular regulation as a proof of the contention so frequently urged that the Commonwealth Parliament is decidedly in advance of the States Legislatures in bestowing that liberty upon the people which they have a. right to expect.
– I join with my honorable friend who has just sat down, in acknowledging the reasonableness in which the mover of this resolution has clothed his desire. It is a question which should be debated without heat, and I hope so to discuss it. It should be debated, I think, solely from the stand-point of the public interest, and from that stand-point I regret that I am unable to agree with the author of the motion. The regulation under discussion reads thus -
Officers are expressly forbidden to publicly discuss or in any way promote political movements. They are further forbidden to use for political purposes information gained by them in the course of duty.
These provisions immediately precede a regulation which says -
Except in the course of official duty, no information concerning public business or any matter of which an officer has knowledge officially shall be given, directly or indirectly, by an officer without the express direction or permission of the permanent head or responsible Minister.
There are- other regulations in this connexion, such as the one prohibiting officers from seeking outside influence in order to obtain promotion, but they all form part of the connected whole, which is based upon a desire to prevent purity in the administration of public affairs from being endangered by the public utterances or acts, of Commonwealth servants. I am sorry to say - and I do so without reflecting in the slightest degree upon the great body of civil servants - that occasionally instances do arise in which regulation 42 is broken, and in which it is almost impossible to trace the particular offender. Not once, but several times, since the present Government took office, cases have occurred in which public documents of a confidential character have appeared in the press under circumstances that rendered it totally impossible for them to have been published without the consent and connivance of a public servant.
– Surely that case could be met in a way other than by excluding civil servants from taking part in public matters %
– I am coming to that point. I do not suggest for a moment that these instances affect the general body of public servants.- Nothing is farther from my thoughts. But all these restrictions are part of one whole, the design of which is to prevent, either by public utterance or private information, the interests of. the administration of the public service from being in any way endangered. The honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor, has said that there is no suggestion in the Act that we have any power to make this regulation. But I would point out that the Act gives power to the Executive to frame regulations to carry out its purposes ; and though it contains a catalogue of matters iri regard to which particular regulations have been made, and does not specify political action as one of those matters, we must have regard for its whole scope. What is it? It is an Act which is intended to regulate the public service. Why? In order that it may be efficient and loyal. So far as it falls short of promoting that efficiency and loyalty, and so far as it leaves the door open by which failure may be brought about, so far it will fail. Consequently, I hold that it is within the scope of the Act to make regulations which will’ promote efficiency and loyalty. The Victorian regulation, which I should be sorry to copy, begins with the words -
In order that officers of all ranks may be enabled to render efficient and loyal service to the Government -
I think that beginning is a very good one, but the regulation goes on to say - they are expressly forbidden to take part in any political affairs other than by recording their votes for the election of Members of Parliament.
I do not think that any public service regulation need go so far as that. I believe there is a just mean in this matter. But while none of us would suggest going so far as the Victorian regulation goes, that doesnot do away with the necessity for promoting loyal and efficient public service by regulations of the kind we find here.
– I think that the Government go as far in these regulations.
– I do not think so. If my recollection be accurate, this regulation was framed with a knowledge of the regulations of other public services, and with the design that it should not be made so strict, because it was believed that less stringency would achieve the desired -end. Ithas been argued that the enforcement of this regulation will have certain very dire effects. It has been argued, for instance, that the public servants, if this regulation were enforced, would not be able to belong to a temperance organization, a Loyal Orange lodge, or any effective voting association ; but I am quite convinced that there is nothing in the regulation toprevent a public servant belonging to any one of such organizations. What the regulation prohibits is not the belonging to organizations which in their essence are not political, and which only become political when they take political action. It is quite compatible with the duty of a public servant to belong to any such organization ; but he is forbidden to publicly discuss or in any way promote any political movement which may arise in the organization. One object of this restriction must be to prevent a public servant from discussing such matters, even if they arise in an institution which in itself is innocent of any political design. A man may be a member of an organization of thekind without in any sense orin any way taking part in a public discussion ; and so long asa public servant takes that attitude and obeys the regulation, no Government, is likely to interfere. I admit, as has been suggested, that Governments may vary - that one Government may take a more stringent view than is taken by another “Government. But the possibility of this variation affords no reason why the regulation should not be made. Every Government is responsible to Parliament, and can be and will be controlled by Parliament in any attempt at tyrannical design in the enforcement of a regulation of the kind.
– Would this regulation preclude a civil servant from taking part in the ordinary debates of a debating society?
– I do not think so.
– The question is, how will the regulation be construed ?
– How would the regulation be construed 1 Reason must be exercised in the construction of such a regulation. The debates of a debating society are not promoted for political purposes, but as mere trials of skill in education and in public speaking amongst the members. Any one who looks down the list of subjects occasionally selected for discussion in such societies will find that while women’s suffrage may be one, the relative merits of Wellington and Napoleon may be the next.
– Or the relative merits of Barton and Blucher.
– Or the relative merits of the two Wilkses - the present Wilks and the Wilkes of the last century.
An Honorable Member. - There is not much difference between them.
– I am afraid there is a rooted difference - Wilkes was a democrat. Any one who has paid attention to the proceedings of an ordinary debating and literary society knows that the object is mainly training in public speaking, and the cultivation of literary talent and erudition. Questions are chosen for debate, not in order that the political parties in the society may have their say, because it very often happens that members who, perhaps, belong to “ the Government “ in a society, adopt propositions which some of them do not necessarily support, but which are discussed simply as trials of skill. Every one knows that that sort of discussion is not aimed at in the regulations. The public discussion or promotion of political movements aimed at in the regulation is Ihe kind of discussion or promotion which is designed to have effect in swaying and influencing public opinion ; and it is this swaying and influencing of public opinion by public effort which I, for one, think ought not to be permitted to a public servant. We are told that the regulation is a denial of the rights of citizenship, but I cannot adopt that view. Public servants are not prohibited from discussing public questions with their friends, so long as they do not indulge in public discussion.
– Public discussion is surely the right of a citizen 1
– A case which occurred the other day is positive proof of the soundness of the view which I am presenting. There was a discussion amongst public servants, and by some means or other a representative of the press gained admission and published a speech which the so-called offender made ; but it was properly decided by a board that the discussion was in its essence private, and was not intended to influence public opinion outside the service. For this reason, the person who indulged in the discussion was held to be in no way culpable or blameable. That case shows that there is no fear of an overstraining of a regulation of this kind, but that it may be enforced without in the slightest degree interfering with the liberty of a public servant in regard, to discussions with his fellows. But a line must be drawn somewhere. What effect could be expected from a regulation which forbade the issuing of public service information for political purposes, or forbade public servants from divulging information gained by them in the course of their official duty, if they were allowed to throw themselves into the whirlpool of politics 1 To what extent would such a regulation tend to restrain public servants, any more than it would restrain any other class of men, from divulging, in the heat of discussion, matters the secrecy of which it is part of their sacred duty to maintain inviolate? It must be recollected that there is no arena in which some of the passions are more tempted to ebullition than in the political arena. If we allow public servants to throw themselves into the contests of that arena, we must not be surprised if, in the heat of debate, they use any weapon that comes to their hand, even if it means the divulgation of that which should be kept secret. I am not” saying that such cases would frequently occur if the regulations were amended in the way proposed ; but one or two cases would be enough. If the amendment were adopted public servants would be at liberty to throw themselves into an arena in which they could scarcely resist the temptation of making use of the knowledge they possess.
– Why should they not do so, if they feel like it ?
– I have been trying to show why they ought not to do so, but perhaps the honorable member may afterwards be able to show cause why civil servants should be allowed that liberty. In dealing with a matter of the kind, one cannot forget that, although instances of the breach of regulations of which this regulation forms a connected and inseparable part, are not frequent, one breach may be of the most serious character. It is a well-known rule, for instance, that diplomatic correspondence and representations are kept under the seal of confidence until a matter in negotiation is concluded, or until consent to publish is given by one of the parties to the other. Yet I have known a case in the Commonwealth Public Service - whether there have been similar occurrences in other public services I do not know - where negotiation’s of the most delicate character, and contained in private papers which had been forwarded to this Government, were published in the press without consultation with, or the knowledge of, the Government, thus giving even a clerk, unless he be detected, a power which does not belong to a Minister. I may be told that such a case comes under another regulation ; but I venture to say that the regulations are a connected whole, and that if we once loosen the obligation placed on civil servants - a relaxation which even in isolated cases may lead to great public disaster - it does not matter which portion of the chain we weaken, because the whole is rendered liable to breakage. In these remarks, I am speaking without any trace of feeling, but with every sympathy for the public service, which, I believe, is too often traduced. The public service is, in my opinion, very often insufficiently regarded in our political decisions, and, further, I believe that the service ought not to be subject to the many fluctuations in its regulations and its pay, which are experienced at the hands of some Parliaments. Therefore; with every sympathy with the public .servants, I desire to impose no restrictions whatever except those which are necessary in the public interest ; and, with one qualification, I believe this regulation to be fully necessary in the public interest. . I understand that elsewhere it has been recommended that this regulation shall bealtered by inserting the word “ publicly “’ before the expression “promote politicalmovements.” What I am arguing against is any licence, which may be created by the abolition of this portion of the regulation, to deal publicly with political affairs. I was ‘under the impression that the word “ publicly,” as used in the first part of theregulation, covered also the words “promote political movements,” and that the insertion of the word before the latter was not necessary. But as many people seem to think the word “publicly” is necessary in both places, and as a recommendation to that effect has been made from another quarter, I shall see if I cannot bring about its insertion, so as to make the regulation in this respect less stringent. The regulation would then read -
Officers are expressly forbidden to publicly discuss, or in any way publicly promote, political, movements.
I think a relaxation to that extent is sufficient. I cannot bring myself to agree with, the proposition or the train of reasoning of the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor, because I think that the destruction of this part of the public service regulations would not be in the public interest. While I do not wish to discussmatters which go beyond our sphere, I can quite understand that many may say that any proposal to take away an equal right to the franchise and an equal right to representation from the public servants of a country, whether they be employed on the railways or in any other Department, is one which is quite foreign to our notions of public liberty. While I do not wish to unduly discuss these matters, I should feel the very deepest reluctance myself in taking part in imposing any such restriction. But no such restriction is proposed here ; moreover, I doubt whether under our Constitution such a restriction of public liberty in the Commonwealth would be lawful. That question I am not going to discuss, and I have only mentioned it in order that I may not be confounded in any way with those who would go to the extent of interfering with the liberties of public servants - with their exercise of the franchise, or with their movements - except in so far as is necessary to secure loyalty and efficiency in the service. To that extent I go, and no further, and, going to that extent, I am inclined to oppose the motion.
– I do not desire to argue for a moment that the Government have not the power to introduce this particular clause into the regulations ; at the same time, it would have been better if such a provision had been placed in the Public Service Act itself. I do not consider this a mere regulation, because it amounts very largely to a great public policy ; and I do not think that in a small House, such as we have to-day, when private business is being dealt with, a matter so momentous to many people in the Commonwealth should be finally settled. A question of this kind, which really amounts to a public policy arising out of an Act of Parliament, ought to be debated in a full House ; and it would be better if the mover of the motion were to arrange with the Government to have an ordinary night set apart for the discussion of this motion.
– I do not want to take a snatch vote.
– What we want is to ascertain the public opinion of the country. We are all agreed that every public servant should have a vote, and that his liberty to hold private opinions, and discuss them with his family and his friends, and to fully measure the affairs of the country, ought not to be stinted in the slightest degree. But the difficulty is this: Is the public servant, especially at a time of great agitation, and in a matter which may materially affect, not only the interests of the Government under which he serves, but the position of the Minister at the head of his own Department, to go upon the public platform, and there give vent to his opinions in language perhaps inflamed by the excitement of his surroundings, and next day take his place in his office as though nothing had occurred?
– What about the position of a private employe?
– The public service is, after all, a great business concern, and, in reply to the honorable member for Maranoa, I say that no private employe, who took such a course as I am speaking of in regard to his employers, would retain his position long. The private employe can go to his principal for the redress of any grievance under which he is suffering, and Parliament has hedged the public servant in his individual position in the service with every safeguard. I do not pretend to be able to state the opinion of the public of Australia upon this question, but the public servant enters the service knowing well the conditions under which he must serve there. I know that it is very hard to prevent any individual from exercising his rights as a citizen ; but, democracy notwithstanding, we must not carry our logic to an extreme, and must modify it by practical considerations. If the British people had not done that in days gone by, the race would not now be occupying its present position. In dealing with the working of the public service, we must have regard to practical considerations, and unless we are ready to see extreme friction created, we cannot allow the public servants to enter into public and perhaps acrimonious discussions of political questions. The matter is one which, I think, should not be settled to-day.
– Because it is a great question of public policy. I would rather see it dealt with in aBill In any case, the Prime Minister could not be expected to take the vote of a small House like this as a direction upon the subject. Those who wish to make the change should ask the Government to set apart a night for its consideration, so that honorable members may be informed, and the country may have an expression of the opinion of a full House. Therefore, as I understand that the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor, does not object to the adjournment of the debate until a later day, I move -
That the debate be now adjourned.
– The honorable member, having moved the adjournment of the debate, cannot resume his speech on a later day, unless leave is given by the House without dissent. Do honorable members grant leave to the honorable member for Wentworth to continue his speech on a later day?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
Motion agreed to ; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Batchelor) proposed -
That the resumption of the debate be made an Order of the Day for Friday, 17th July next.
– I desire to make a suggestion to the Government on the subject of regulations generally. When Parliament provides that regulations may be made under a certain Act, -which are to be laid upon the table, and to have the force of law if objection is not taken to them within a certain time, I think that the Government should give honorable members an opportunity of discussing them, and pointing out anything to which they take exception.
– I hope that some different system will be pursued in the future in regard to regulations. A certain date in the regulations under the Customs and Excise Act was altered from February, 1902, by stages of three months, until it was fixed as February, 1903. That action of the Minister for Trade and Customs would have led to a great deal of discussion if the House had been aware of it at the time. But so far as I know, honorable members did not see the regulations in question. I think that to prevent misuse in the future of the power to make regulations-
– The question before the Chair is whether the debate should be made an order of the day for the 17th July, or for some other day. I understood that the honorable member for Macquarie intended to address himself to that question, or I should have called him to order. The honorable and learned member for Werriwa must confine himself to the subject of the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That, in the opinion of this House, it is desirable that immediate steps be taken to establish a Commonwealth Clothing Factory, wherein shall be manufactured all cloth and clothing required for the use of the several Federal Departments.
This morning we heard from various honorable members that there is now lying idle at Ipswich a factory full of machinery which is unused, and a large building adjoining it, where, no doubt, the clothing factory which I suggest could be established. I feel certain that I shall have the support of the honorable members for Darling Downs and for
Moreton. In England, all Government uniforms are supplied by Government clothing factories. I have some knowledge of the Pimlico factory, in London, where there are thousands of hands employed, and where the whole of the clothing used by the military and naval forces throughout the British dominions is manufactured.
– Cook. - Does the honorable member propose to import the necessary cloth, or to have it manufactured here 1
– I would give the protectionists an opportunity to manufacture it here. If cloth can be manufactured and clothing made up under Government supervision in conservative England, why cannot the same be done in democratic Australia ? The New South Wales Government have already set us an example in this matter. All the clothing required by the public officials of that State is manufactured in a Government factory, and I have received the following letter in regard to the conditions which prevail there : -
In reply to your inquiries re clothing factory, ours has only been started about six months. There are about 100 hands (men and girls) employed, and are at present making arrangements to extend. It is run on up-to-date factory lines, paying wages and working on union rules as laid down by the judgment of our Arbitration Court, and from reports from the various Government Departments, the work is giving better satisfaction than when done by contractors. I have visited the factory two or three times, and the manager tells me that the cost of the clothes to the Government will not be any more than …. when done by contractors, and although the wages are, of course, not too good, the miserable sweating carried on by the contractors and sub-contractors is done away with. All hands employed have to belong to the union in their branch of the trade. The manager receives, t’300 a year. The PublicService Board appoint all employes. Not being practical tradesmen themselves, I have no doubt they consult the manager in selecting the hands. This system has been adopted to prevent influences being used to get employed persons who would not be capable and, of course, would militate against the chance of making the factory a success. Of course when we get the report from the manager of the first year’s transaction, it would be more definite and reliable than this ex parte statement for Mr. Page’s purpose, but I ani satisfied than he can safely state that our experiment is a decided success.
I do not ask that the Commonwealth factory be established in Queensland ; I shall be willing to see it established in Victoria, so long as we have a Government factory for the manufacture of Government uniforms.
– Who wrote the letter ?
– A member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales. I can show it to any honorable member who may question its authenticity.
– An official report has been published which more than bears out the statements contained in the letter.
– I am satisfied from my knowledge of the Government clothing factory at Pimlico that we should find it greatly to our advantage to start a similar establishment here. Those honorable members who saw the clothing supplied to the soldiers who went away to South Africa from the various States must have noticed its want of uniformity and unsatisfactory character. With a Commonwealth clothing factory nothing of the kind could occur, but everything would work harmoniously, and the results would be generally satisfactory. I believe that it is intended to adopt a standard uniform for the whole of the Defence Forces, and in view of that fact the Minister for Defence could not do better than starta factory for the purpose of supplying the military with clothing. I understand that the Commandant recognises the advantage to be gained by adopting this course, and I trust that some notice will be taken of his recommendation. Last session the Minister for Defence said that it was impracticable to establish a Commonwealth clothing factory, but what has been found possible in the old country might surely be attempted here with every prospect of success. We have heard a great deal about the unbounded resources of the Commonwealth, and I am sure that we might very well embark upon an enterprise which has been attended with success under similar auspices in other places. The labour party desire that we should not only make up clothing, but that we should manufacture our own materia], and are willing to set aside all fiscal considerations if they can, by means of a Commonwealth clothing factory, promote economy combined with efficiency. We need have no better example than that afforded by New South Wales, and I might meet any possible objections on the score of economy by pointing out that there is at Ipswich a factory all ready to the hand of the Commonwealth if the Government care to use it. I hope that the honorable member for Wentworth will not tell us on this occasion that we are trying to snatch a vote, because the motion has been upon the notice-paper from the commencement of this session. If the present proposal is to be regarded as involving the principle of protection to native industries, I am willing to be called a protectionist to the extent to which the adoption of the scheme will commit me to that policy. I think that, all things being equal, we should in every case give a preference to local manufactures. When I first joined the Imperial Army some of the clothes served out to the troops were more like fustian than cloth, and were in many cases sewn with burnt thread, so that if they fitted tightly they were almost bound to burst away at the seams. For these and many other reasons the Imperial Government started the manufacture of clothing at Aldershot, in order to supply the requirements of the garrison, and they met with such success that they afterwards started the Pimlico Stores, for the purpose of manufacturing the cloth and making uniforms for the whole army. To-day those works stand as a monument to the superiority of Government as compared with contract work. I hope that the Committee will give this question the most serious consideration, and that the motion will be carried as a direction to the Government to enter upon the manufacture of the clothing required for the Commonwealth Departments.
– I have much pleasure in seconding the motion. This is noutopian scheme or wild experiment. The honorable member for Maranoa has mentioned the experience gained by the Imperial Government in connexion with their factory at Pimlico, and reference has also been made to the State clothing factory in New South Wales. The latter establishment was the outcome of the evidence adduced before a select committee which sat about three years ago, and of which I was a member. One of the witnesses was Mr. Anderson, of “ six hatters “ fame, who was examined with regard to the clothing supplied to some of the soldiers sent away to South Africa, and who emerged from the ordeal rather badly. If honorable members will take the trouble to look at the report of that committee they will find sufficient evidence to dispel any doubts as to the necessity for establishing a Commonwealth clothing factory. It was shown that the conditions were similar to those described by the honorable member for Maranoa, as obtaining when he was a recruit. The material used in the making up of the uniforms was so bad, that if our troops had been hard pressed at any time when the)’ were near a swamp or a river, they would have needed only to go into the water in order to cause their uniforms to shrink until they became invisible. It was also demonstrated that sweating was very largely practised at the expense of the State, and to the great disadvantage of the workmen employed. I am sure that economy will be served by the establishment of a Commonwealth clothing factory, and that our public servants who wear uniforms, and our soldiers, will have better clothing provided for them.
– It is well known that there are many conscientious Christian men who do not hesitate to take advantage of the Government in time of trouble. The equipment of our soldiers who went to South Africa was, in many respects, unsuitable and unsatisfactory. Their clothing was of poor material and badly made, and the saddles supplied were made of inferior. leather and came to pieces under the slightest stress. Similar experience has been gained in all parts of the world, and I am satisfied that the Commonwealth would do well to start its own clothing factory to supply uniforms for the members of the Defence force, and for postmen and others. We might even supply the police uniforms to the States Governments.
– The New South Wales Government already make their police uniforms.
– I am sorry to say that they have not followed the example in Tasmania. I shall heartily support the motion which, I think, is based on justice and common sense.
– I should have liked the consideration of the motion to be deferred until the capital site was fixed, but in the interests of economy I feel bound to support it. I have looked very carefully through the lists of prices paid for military clothing by the Commonwealth Government in the various States, and the results have been astonishing. In New South Wales, field service tweed jackets are supplied to six corps at varying prices which average 26s. 8d. In Tasmania the jackets are made of khaki, and the price paid is 27s. each. Queensland occupies a very favorable position. References have been made to the Queensland Woollen Company, and I find that they supply tweed frocks at the very reasonable price of 16s. 9d. each, whereas in. the model State of South Australia 43s. is paid for the same article. Cord pantaloons are supplied in New South Wales at an average price of 21s. 4d., in Tasmania at 21s. 6d., in Queensland at 1 7s. 10d., and in South Australia at 29s. 6d. The most extraordinary discrepancies, however, occur in the prices of greatcoats. In New South Wales the average price is 23s. 3d., in Queensland 27s. 6d., in Tasmania 50s., and in South Australia 63s.
– If the honorable member knew the rates at which the South Australian manufacturers paid their employes he would be still more astonished.
– I have looked very carefully through the papers, and it appears to me that the contractors have simply conspired to divide the business. It will be seen that John Smith has the contract for trousers, John Thompson the contract for jackets, and so on. I think that a want of business capacity is exhibited by the Defence Department. When I was engaged in business, if I wanted a contractor to supply me with any article that I required, I did not rest content with calling for tenders by advertisement. I wrote to every man that I knew in the trade. Other people adopt a similar practice. I hold that the Defence Department ought to take proper steps to secure the necessary supply of clothing for the forces of the Commonwealth at the lowest possible price. If it does not, it necessarily follows that it will be adversely criticised. I will support the motion in the interests of economy ; but it would be much better if honorable members knew where the proposed factory was to be established. I should certainly object to it being located at Bombala, where, it is true, one can obtain water, if nothing else. I hold that it ought to be centrally situated. I’ am very glad that the honorable member for Maranoa has raised this question, because I hold that it is one which Ought to be settled without delay.
– I think that honorable members may consider this proposal without creating those differences of opinion which usually arise in the discussion of questions of State socialism. We cannot charge the mother country with being prone to socialistic experiments, and yet her experience in connexion with the Imperial Army needs only to be mentioned to remind honorable members of what has occurred. We all remember the harsh treatment to which our soldiers had to submit in the Crimean war, and, more recently, we have learned that the contractors for the supply of army stores in South Africa failed in many respects to carry out their undertakings. Honorable members will also recollect the paper helmets supplied to our -own men, who volunteered for service during :that Campaign. As a matter of fact, I saw men in camp at Randwick who were wearing patched clothing prior ‘to their departure for the theatre of war.
– One would have thought “that some of them were wearing racing trunks.
– Exactly. Their clothing was made of all sorts of rubbish. It seems to me that in supplying the Government, contractors are usually influenced by a different code of morals from that which influences them when’ they are dealing with other people. If an opportunity is presented to them of fleecing the Government, they do not neglect to embrace it. ‘In the Soudan campaign, too, swords and bayonets of a very inferior quality were supplied to the soldiers. Indeed they were little better than if they had been made of lead. All these facts argue very powerfully in favour of the Government undertaking the manufacture of its own clothing. That position is also supported by the General Officer Commanding our Defence Forces, who in his report makes several recommendations in regard to the Commonwealth supplying its own arms, clothing, and practically everything it requires. From personal inquiries recently made in Sydney, I can confirm the statement in the letter read by the honorable member for Maranoa, that the New South Wales Government are entirely satisfied with the start they have made there in the manufacture of clothing. One of the -reasons why there is little risk in the State undertaking this work is that it calls for the exercise of only skilled labour. In the machinery used in the manufacture of clothing, we seem to have approached finality closer than we have in that used in any other trade. In equipping -an establishment for the manufacture of clothing, the Commonwealth would . not be undertaking the risks that would be incidental to the creation of other industries. From the point of view of efficiency and economy, and of insuring that our public servants shall be supplied with decent clothing, I think that this proposal ought to be carried. Of course, I recognise that the proposed factory could not be established in a day. At the Same time, we must make a start, and it is well to lay down a policy. That is all that the motion of the honorable member for Maranoa does. I trust, therefore, that it will receive unanimous support.
– -I am sorry to intrude upon the happy family which seems to. have formed itself around the honorable member for Maranoa in support of this proposal. But I do not think it should go forth to the people that the motion is to meet with unanimous support, even amongst the limited number of honorable members who are now present. I do not believe in socialism, nor can I approve of the proposal under discussion, which is the first step towards the establishment of a system which I abhor, and which if carried out must cause disaster not only to the cause of democracy but to the State. My first objection to it is that which was raised when the Bonus Manufactures Bill was under discussion, namely, that the Commonwealth has no power to enter into any trade or manufacture.
– Manufacturing its own clothing is not trading.
– It is proposed that the Commonwealth shall manufacture certain articles of clothing. Surely the honorable member for Darling, and the honorable member of Capricornia, who strongly supported the motion, must have devoted their attention to the first portion of it, and omitted to notice the inclusion of the words “all cloth,” meaning the manufacture of cloth as well as clothing ; otherwise they could scarcely have argued as they did.
– The Commonwealth can buy out the Geelong factory.
– If the Geelong factory were bought out, that would be only the first step towards meeting the difficulty which would then be created. The honorable member for Darling has referred to the experience of the British soldiers in the Crimea. But in that case the nien were principally in need of boots, although tons of them were rotting upon the seashore some miles away. Will this motion, if successful, be followed by another affirming that all the boots required by the Defence Department shall be manufactured by a Commonwealth boot factory, and that there shall be a Commonwealth tannery to provide the necessary leather? Then, is the cotton industry for the linen required for their underclothing, ite, to be created and fostered, not by a bonus, but by the Commonwealth? That is a necessary corollary to this proposal. The honorable member for Darling might also argue that because we are to provide clothing for the Defence forces we should therefore provide them with underclothing. If we are to take such a step as this in one direction, we might as well extend the principle in every direction.
– Why does the honorable and learned member not suggest that we should grow our own corn and raise our own beef to feed the troops ?
– I am- glad to find the honorable member for Maranoa so logical as to show definitely to what his motion might lead ; because it is certain that if we start with manufacturing cloth, we shall- eventually drift into the State owning all farms and raising all sheep and cattle. During last session part of the platform of the labour party was the nationalization of all forms of industrial production.
– The nationalization of monopolies.
– That is the amended plank in the labour platform, and is something altogether different to their policy of nationalizing all forms of industrial production. This alteration may be described as a great “ come down “ for the labour party in regard to the ideals they expressed when the Bonus Bill was before the House last session. The main argument used by the honorable member for Maranoa was found in the fact that, before federation or shortly afterwards, when there had been no opportunity for Commonwealth organization, it was difficult to get the same uniform throughout the Commonwealth, But it is quite possible now under private organization and contract to get uniforms which are alike. No doubt the Commonwealth could create a clothing factory, and even produce its own cotton or corn, and even make the military clothing and boots from its own wool and leather. The only difficulty is that of expense; and we have to ask ourselves whether the Commonwealth could do this work as cheaply as it can be done by a private employer. I venture to say that any commonsense man will say that the Commonwealth could not curry on these industries as cheaply as they could be carried on by private enterprise.
– Nonsense ! I can give the honorable member facts to the contrary.
– It is a pity the hon- orable member did not previously give us facts. The honorable member instanced a factory which has not yet been established for twelve months, and read a letter from a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council in support of his view. When I asked the honorable member for Maranoa whether that gentleman was a socialist, I received no reply.
– I have no knowledge as tothat, but I shall inquire.
– Whoever the gentleman, is, he says he has no idea of what the expense of establishing a Government clothing factory would be’; that that aspect of the case has not yet been considered. Only last year it was shown that the expense of constructing locomotive engines in the South Australian Government workshops was ever so much greater than that which would have been incurred if the work had been done by private enterprise. There is noquestion that every industrial enterprise which a Government touches is worked extravagantly and expensively.
– The very opposite is the fact, because the Government workshops in Victoria have secured a tender to build ten engines.
– And in South Australia similar work is done by the Government much more cheaply than it is done outside.
– If it be the desire to make every man a public servant, such motions as that before us afford the best means of bringing about that result. The ideal of the socialist party is to make all men public servants, with the object of dividing amongst them the whole of thefunds produced by the efforts of thecapitalists and manufacturers of the Commonwealth.
– Does the honorable and learned member really believe that ?
– I do.
– Then he is more stupid than I thought he was.
– I must ask the honorable member for Wide Bay to withdraw those words.
– I do not regard them -as offensive.
– I beg to withdraw the words.
– If any one chooses to investigate the question he will see that the intention I have indicated is that of the socialist party in the Commonwealth.
– The question under discussion is not that of the intentions of the socialist party, but a specific motion on the notice-paper.
– I am speaking of the intention of the labour party of which the honorable member for Maranoa is a member. That party is committed to the socialist platform, and thus becomes a socialist party, whose intention it is to produce as many public servants as possible. The intention -of that party is to do away with private employment and to divide the whole of the results of the producing forces of’ the Commonwealth amongst the army of public servants whom it would create.
-Does the honorable and learned member propose to connect those remarks with- the motion on the noticepaper!
– I am showing that the logical result of the establishment of a Commonwealth clothing factory is the creation of similar institutions. in regard to every productive industry. - that a Government clothing factory is the forerunner of the gradual realization of the socialistic ideal.
– Will the honorable and learned member explain how the “ producing forces “ of the Commonwealth can be divided 1
– I have shown how they can be hampered and exploited, and desire to enter my pretest against the motion, though in doing so I may find myself in antagonism to honorable members with whom previously I have generally been in agreement. My desire is to support all movements of a general radical tendency ; but I must protest against what I regard as an absolute injustice to the people of the Commonwealth - an injustice which may be the means of bringing catastrophe on every member of the community who has to earn his living with his hands.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Maucer) adjourned..
House adjourned at 3.25 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 June 1903, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1903/19030626_reps_1_14/>.