2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and’ read prayers.
– In view of the fact that the present contract for carrying the mails between Australia and Great Britain will terminate in January next, will the Postmaster-General inform honorable members what the Government propose to do to secure the regular and prompt delivery of mails when the present contract expires ?
– I should like the honorable member to give notice of the question in order that I may give the matter proper consideration. In the meantime I may state that nothing has been done beyond inviting tenders.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister what is the present state of the negotiations pending between the Commonwealth and the States with respect to the establishment of a Federal weather bureau ?
– What may be- termed the negotiations commenced with a proposition submitted by the Queensland Government, with a view to secure the assistance of other States in maintaining their meteorological bureaux. The other States, however, -declined- to contribute, and the Queensland Government then made arrangements of its own, which, I believe, have since been terminated. These were the only negotiations worthy of the name, and the net result has been that the State of Queensland alone has ceased to present its local weather reports from data generally derived. In connexion with the correspondence which took place with the various States last year, we obtained from them a statement of the work undertaken by their observatories, and an expression of their wishes with regard to the future establishment of a meteorological bureau by the Federal Government. They were not in complete agreement upon the matter, and the figures submitted evidently needed a good deal of analysis in order to determine the reasonable cost of maintaining such a bureau. In view of the fact that all the States, except Queensland, have continued to publish their local forecasts, the establishment of a Federal bureau has not been regarded as a matter of immediate urgency, and as it would involve further expense, it would have to be carefully looked into. I fully admit that a weather-forecasting bureau would be an essential part of an agricultural bureau such as we intend to establish.
– I desire to know if the Minister for Home Affairs will, on the next sitting day, lay on the table all the papers relating to the acceptance of Q votes at the Wimmera election ?
– I shall be glad if the honorable and learned member will indicate what he requires. So far as I know, all the correspondence has already been laid upon the table. If the honorable and learned member will particularize the information he desires, I shall do what I can to meet his wishes.
– If there are any further papers in the shape of correspondence and telegrams which have not yet been brought before the House, will the Minister undertake to lay them on the table?
– I shall look into the matter, and see if there are any papers which have not already been presented to the House.
– I cannot tell what they are.
– The honorable and learned member has threshed this matter to death. So far as I am aware, he already has all the information that is of any use.
– There has already been an attempt at concealment, and I. desire to have all the papers laid before the House.
– I deny that absolutely. There has been no such attempt, and I do not think that the honor- 2 d able and learned member should make that statement.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether the landing waiters who perform identical work in all the States are treated on a uniform basis with regard to salary. If not, what is the explanation ?
– I presume that the honorable member is referring to the salaries paid to the landing waiters in South Australia, which were not so high as tho-e provided for in some of the other States. I have inquired as to the reason of this, and find that it is not proposed to disturb present arrangements until the re-classification which is now proceeding is completed. I presume that all inconsistencies will then be” removed.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether, in view of the fact that there has been apparent bungling on the part of the officers charged with the administration of the Electoral Act, it is the intention of the Government to defray the expenses incurred by candidates in cases where the irregularities which have been the subject of inquiry were not due to any fault of the electors or to the candidates ?
– To what elections does the honorable member refer?
– To such elections as those in the Wimmera and Melbourne divisions.
– The petitioner abandoned his petition iri the Wimmera case.
– Nevertheless the inquiry showed that the irregularities were caused by mismanagement on the part of the Electoral Department officers.
– That might apply to the Melbourne electorate, but not to the case of the Wimmera.
– The instructions given to the returning officer to use his own discretion were quite sufficient to justify the claim that the expenses incurred by candidates in connexion with the inquiry should be borne by the Government.
– I presume that if any one has a claim to make he will bring it forward in the ordinary ‘ way, and that it will be dealt with on its merits. So far as
I am aware no representations have been made to the Government with regard to the Wimmera election.
– When the stations on the Port Darwin telegraph line were under the control of the South Australian Government, the far-away stations were supplied with medical chests, which were found of great service in cases of sudden illness amongst members of the telegraph staff, travellers, and the aborigines. I wish to ask whether it is a fact, as reported,’ that these medical chests have been withdrawn?
– Speaking from memory, I am not aware that there has been any change in the practice which has hitherto prevailed. I believe that medical chests are still supplied to the far-away stations.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, itf on notice -
– The answers to the ‘honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
The attention of the Postmaster-General has been directed to this matter.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : -
Information is being obtained, and a reply will be furnished in due course
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : -
Information is being obtained, and a reply will be furnished in due course.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
In dealing with this matter I hope to be able to compress what I have to say in as short a space as possible, principally because on a previous occasion, the right honorable member for Adelaide moved the second reading of an ‘almost identical measure, and, in the course of his speech, dealt with numerous points. In submitting this Bill, however, it is impossible to avoid touching upon some of those points and its salient features. It is, perhaps, scarcely necessary for me to recapitulate what has occurred in connexion with it. It will be remembered that when the Tariff was under review in the first Parliament, the consideration of this particular portion of it was not completed. I refer to the matter now, because some honorable members urge that in introducing this Bill, the Government are re-opening the fiscal question. I think I may fairly claim that we are not doing so. When the measure was originally submitted by the right honorable member for Adelaide, he spoke in these terms -
The Bill which honorable members have before them is intended to complete the scheme of encouragement to local manufactures, which was foreshadowed and discussed in connexion with Division’ VIA. of the Tariff.
These remarks show conclusively that at that time it was fully intended that this matter should be dealt with in order to make the Tariff complete. I hold, therefore, that we are not reviving the fiscal issue, but simply fulfilling a promise.
– The Minister has already stated that the Bill forms a part of the Tariff.
– I have, but other honorable members declare that it is not, and that is why I am again referring to the matter.
– The honorable gentleman is flogging a dead horse.
– I am doing nothing of the kind. I am rather surprised at the attitude of the honorable member for Maranoa, because if ever there was a case which should appeal to free-traders it is one of this character. To a very large extent a bounty is a free trade inducement to establish industries. Throughout the Commonwealth - and, indeed, throughout the world - free-traders have advocated the granting of bounties in preference to the adoption of a protective Tariff. I am astonished to hear free-traders speak of a bounty as if it were a duty-
– This Bill raises the financial question as well as the fiscal issue.
– the honorable member is perfectly aware that the measure is necessary to the completion of the Tariff, and the Government would be to blame if they did ‘not submit it. Its consideration was not completed last session, chiefly because the Select Committee which was subsequently converted into a Royal Commission, the right honorable member for Adelaide being chairman, had not completed its labours when Parliament was prorogued. Its report is favorable to the passing of a Bill of this character.’ The only new provision in the measure is one which was recommended by the Commission.
– The right of purchase provision ?
– Yes. That is the only feature in which it differs from the Bill which was submitted by the right honorable member for Adelaide. The report of the Commission, to which I have referred, contains -some very useful suggestions. It states -
Your Commissioners do not lose sight of the fact that the bonus system in Canada was accompanied by a duty on imports. Your Commissioners, however, do not recommend the immediate imposition of a Customs duty, as, pending 2 d 2 a local supply sufficient for Australian requirements, the result might be to temporarily raise the price to the consumer, which should be avoided.
In this connexion I would further point out that in 1891, when the New South Wales Tariff was introduced, a duty was imposed upon pig iron, but, realizing what was evidently in the minds of the Commissioners who recently investigated this matter, the State Government of the day did not make the duty effective until twelve months later. The delay in bringing it into operation was intended to enable those who contemplated the establishment of ironworks to carry out their purpose. The object thus sought to be attained was to avoid the price being raised before the works had been established. The works, however, were not established, and at the expiration of twelve months the fear that the imposition of the duty in the event of the non-establishment of works would cause the price of pig iron to be raised was realized. The duty remained, and as there was no local output, the price was no doubt increased. This Bill will obviate the possibility of the repetition of such an experience. When the matter was before the last Parliament, the question of the power of the Commonwealth to embark upon the industry was raised, and was subsequently considered by the Commission. The Commission obtained the opinion of the Attorney-General, and that opinion, which is given in an appendix to the report, is to the effect that the undertaking is one which the Commonwealth Government could not enter upon. The question first arose in connexion with the proposal that the industry should be a State monopoly, and that if any of the States refused to establish the necessary works the Commonwealth should step in and commence operations. In the opinion of the Attorney-General, however:, the Federal Government could not take action in that direction. The report of the Commission, which is a very valuable one, is signed by the Chairman, the Right Honorable C. C. Kingston, as well as by Mr. Littleton E. Groom, Mr. J. Whiteside McCay,. Mr. Samuel Mauger, the late Sir Edward Braddon - who dissented from paragraph b of section 20 - and Mr. David Watkins. There is also a minority report.
– Signed by the same number of members.
– Quite so. I cannot refrain,, however, from expressing my surprise that the honorable member for
Bland should have attached his signature to the minority report, which is also signed by Mr. W. M. Hughes, Mr. Samuel Winter - Cooke, Mr. J. W. Kirwan, Mr. George W. Fuller, and Mr. Joseph Cook. That report practically seeks to prevent the establishment of the industry save by a State Government.
– Do the Government propose to raise the money necessary for the payment of these bounties by means of direct taxation ?
– When the honorable and learned member puts a pertinent question to me I shall be prepared to answer it. I am not dealing with the point raised by him at the present time, but at a later stage I shall place before him and honorable members generally some interesting particulars relative to the history of the industry in other parts of the world. lt appears to me that there are some persons in this community who decline to take cognisance of what has been done in this direction in other parts of the world, and who refuse to recognise that it is only by the giving of bounties, or the imposition of protective duties, that we can foster and encourage an industry which is perhaps second to none. Before going into details as to the history of the industry elsewhere, I would point out that the report of those who dissent from our proposal sets forth that -
There can be no guarantee that the bonuses proposed would permanently establish the industry, though it is probable the inducements offered might be instrumental in forming speculative companies.
The only parallel case to which we can turn shows that the industry can be established only in the way proposed bv us. In Canada the iron industry was created by the giving of bonuses as well as by the imposition of a duty, and I intend to place before honorable members some information as to the present output of pig iron in that part of the Empire, as well as the number of persons now employed in the industry there, as the direct result of the fostering influences of a system of bounties. Although free-traders may object to the imposition of a duty on pig iron, in this they cannot base their opposition to the Bill, inasmuch as we simply propose for the time being to give bounties.
– To tax the many for the benefit of the few.
– The honorable member, if I may be allowed to say so, has not been long enough in the world of politics, nor has he sufficiently studied questions of political economy, to enable him to express an opinion on that point. The question is one that is exercising larger minds than that of the honorable member.
– Do the Government say that direct taxation will be necessary in order to provide these bounties?
– I contend that in the end the adoption of this policy will reduce taxation - that the majority will not be taxed for the benefit of the few. The result of the giving of bounties is similar to that which follows the imposition of any properly applied protective duty - as soon’ as the industry which it is designed to foster has been established, the general body of the people are benefited, and the riches of the few are certainly not increased.
– What does the minority report say?
– It is useless for the honorable member to interrupt me, for I do not propose to allow him to lead me off the track. The question is a serious one, and demands something more than the mere smiles of honorable members of the Opposition, who evidently do not care what happens to the labouring classes.
– The Government will find it a very serious matter before thev have finished with it.
– Not in the sense suggested by the honorable member.
– The leader of the Labour Party is opposed to the proposal.
– I have already expressed my surprise that the leader of the Labour Party should have signed the minority report.
– I think that the honorable member showed his wisdom by signing it>
– If the honorable member will restrain himself I shall esteem it a favour. I propose to put forward facts which will show that, although the honorable member for Bland may be doing what he believes to’ be right in assenting to the minority report, he is really inflicting an injury on the class that he represents.
– The Labour Party represents not a class, but the masses.
– Whether the honorable member chooses to say that lie represents the labouring classes, or that lie represents the masses, the fact remains that he and his party represent a class. I have touched on the main features of the report, which strongly advocates the establishment of the industry on the lines proposed in the Bill placed before the last Parliament, but suggests that provision should be made to enable a State Government to take over the industry. We have adopted that suggestion, which is to be found embodied in clauses 8 and 9. Clause 8 provides -
Then in clause. 9 it is provided that -
The Minister for Trade and Customs may, so soon as he is satisfied that the manufacture of any goods mentioned in section six has been sufficiently established in the Commonwealth within the meaning of Division VIa. of the schedule to the Customs Tariff 1902, certify accordingly.
This is a slight departure from the provisions of the first Bill, and the only other alteration relates to the dates in the schedule. I referred just now to the establishment of the iron industry in Canada, where for a considerable time past the authorities have been dealing with this question. It was in 1883 that the Canadian Government introduced a system of bounties; and they continued to pay certain bounties up to the year 1899. At the end of that period it was proposed that they should be continued until 30th June, 1907, at a yearly diminishing rate; that 90 per cent, should be paid in 1902-3, and 75 per cent, in 1903-4, and that further reductions should be made every year until in 1906-7 only 20 per cent, should be paid. But by an Act passed in the year 1903 it was decided that the bounties should be continued until 30th June, 1907, subject to annual reductions as follows : - Ninety per cent, to be paid in 1903-4 ; 75 per cent, in 1904-5; 55 per cent. 1905-6; arid 35 per cent, in 1906-7. It. has been urged that the proposal to assist investors to establish a great undertaking of this kind is a most improper one. But during the whole of the period I have named - from 1883 to 1902 - the total money paid by way of bounties in Canada was only £642,840. If honorable members give the matter a moment’s consideration they will recognise that, spread over so long a period, the sum thus paid away by the Canadian Government, in order to establish the industry, was not a very large one. For very many years I have taken a great interest in the establishment of this industry in New South Wales. An agreement was practically entered into between the Blythe River Company and the Government of that State to get a certain large order, so as to enable the works to be started ; but at the last moment the company said that they could not proceed with any degree of success, or certainty, or security, unless they got something more. That I declined to give, and the result was that the document was not signed.
– What was the something more?
– They asked for an order to supply not only steel rails, but all manufactured iron and steel required by the Government of the State.
– No. I declined to give them that privilege. But the argument which was used then, and which is used now with very great force, is that not only do the company require to have an incentive to carry out these works, but powerful companies in other parts of the world should not be able to swoop down upon them at any moment with a view to destroy them, and to get the trade here.
– The Blythe River Company offered to erect works if the Government would give them certain conditions.
– What that company were willing to do was to take their chance to a certain extent. The offer was made, just before the Commonwealth was established, and of course at that time we could not deal with the Tariff in New South Wales. The company were prepared to enter into negotiations, and expected that the Commonwealth Government would protect the industry. I shall give the honorable member for North Sydney another reason why it is necessary to help the starting of this industry. No doubt he is aware that the works at Lithgow were started by Mr. Rutherford, of Cobb and Co., many years ago. He spent between £100,000 and ^200,000 in attempting to establish it. When he tried to sell his iron to the various houses in Sydney he was threatened that if he attempted to proceed they would import iron and sell it at a loss df £2 a ton until his works were crushed. They carried out their threat, and that is the reason why the works at Lithgow are not the great success they should be to-day.
– A fortune has been made out of the works since that time.
– I happen to know something about the financial position of the works, and I do not know that a fortune has been made out of them. What we desire to do now is to prevent a repetition of that failure. In Canada the payment of a bonus was commenced in 1883, and it was increased to as high as 12s. 6d. per ton for pig iron. It is now reduced to ns. 3d., I think, and it is falling each year. The following table shows the production of pig iron in Canada and the United States for the years 1884 to 1902, the particulars being taken from the Canadian Year Book for 1902, page 471 : -
The annual consumption of iron and steel and their products in Canada is between 800.000 and 820.000 tons. The united investment at Sydney, Hamilton, Deseronto, Midland, New Glasgow, Radnor, Drummondville, and Ferrona, amounts to nearly ,£5,000,000, which will be increased to £7,000,000 bv new plant now building. Within five or six years the total investment will aggregate, approximately, £10,000,000 Honorable members should not forget that Canada is placed in quite a different position from Australia in this regard. The Dominion adjoins a country that is producing the most iron to-day. The Americans have simply to send their iron or steel across the border, with .the result, it may be, to sweep the industry out of existence in the Dominion.
– They exported over 100,000 tons from Canada to England last vear.
– I believe that they did. I know that they exported a great deal more from the United States.
– It was a case of overproduction.
– No, the production in Canada is not equal to the requirements, as I shall- show the honorable and learned member presently. In the United States the iron industry was started under the fostering influence, not so much of a bonus, as of a very high tariff, which honorable members opposite, as freetraders, would object to very much more strongly than they , would to a bonus.
– They had 100 per cent, in
– The United States produced 7,120,362 tons of iron ore in 1887, 16,036,043 tons in 1890, and 24,6831173 tons in 1899 - not double, but a third more than any other nation in the world - under the strong, influence of a high protective policy. If any nation is competing with other nations successfully, it is the United States, whose iron industry is not only supplying local requirements, but is undercutting, selling, and destroying the industry in other countries in which there is no bonus or duty to protect it.
– This is raising the fiscal question.
– It is simply raised in connexion with the completion of the Tariff. The honorable member is fond of a joke, and he is only joking now.
– The Government will not find that it is a joke when a vote is taken.
– We shall see about that. If honorable members are determined to destroy or stop the establishment of the industry that is not my fault. The Government are compelled in the interests of the people of this country, more particularly the labouring classes, to see that an opportunity is given to deal with an important question of this kind. I have not been able to get the returns for the United States since 1899, but I have no doubt that during the last three or four years the figures for that year have been very much added to. In 1899 Germany produced 17,970,679 tons, Great Britain only 14,461,330 tons, France 5,067,500 tons, Spain 9,234,302 tons,’ and Russia 4,871,461 tons. I have quoted the returns for the principal iron-producing countries. I think that the figures ought to show honorable members what a danger the industry might run here if it were not protected or assisted in some measure against a nation like the United States, producing as it does that immense quantity of iron each year. There is great necessity to deal with a question of this kind. The production of pig-iron in Canada amounted to 341,554 tons in 1902. I have stated the production in the United States in 1902 to be 19,959,856 tons; and the world’s total production for the same year was 49,072,065 tons. It is well known to honorable members that the right to grant bounties is vested in the Parliament of the Commonwealth. If we could say to the States, “ You have the power to give this industry a bounty,” there might be some reason in any one saying that the Federal Government should not deal with the question, but under the terms of the Constitution that cannot be done. Therefore the grave responsibility is thrown upon this Parliament of seeing that the apathy that has hitherto prevailed does not continue. In regard to the employment which would be given, some years ago I ‘ had some interviews with a large iron manufacturer in Great Britain, Mr. Carson. He told me that the amount of employment would be larger in connexion with even one established iron works than has been stated in the evidence given before the Royal Commission. He also said that the output would be greater than was there stated. I find that the importation of iron into Australia amounts to about 150,000 tons a year; in addition to which, there is a further expenditure upon imported machinery. In America, 24,000,000 tons of iron ore are produced per annum, and 145,000 hands are employed. Consequently, I calculate that the number of hands employed in Australia would be 3,000. But the information I obtained from Mr. Carson in regard to the iron industry was greater than I have been able to gather from any other quarter. As he pointed out, we have not only to consider the number of men employed in producing the raw material and the manufactured article, but also the . number of hands who would have to be employed in the industries which assist in its production. They include the hands engaged in the production of coal, iri the development of lime deposits, and in obtaining the minerals for flux purposes. Mr. Carson assured me that the amount of employment would be more- than doubled - indeed, I think he said more than trebled - by the extra works which would have their nucleus in the iron industry. So that honorable members can estimate that at least 10,000 men would be employed in connexion with one iron works to produce sufficient iron for consumption in Australia in any one year.
– How long would the men be employed ?
– As long as the works continued ; and if the works developed, as would be the case, the amount of employment would increase.
– Should we not rather say - “ As long as the bonuses are paid “ ?
– No; and I think that honorable members are ridiculously unfair in some of their remarks as to the bonus.
– There is no harm in asking a question.
– The insinuations sometimes made in connexion with the bonus are unworthy of honorable members.
– I have spoken from our past experience of bonuses in Queensland.
– Such has not been our past experience in connexion with iron works, because they have not been established by means of bonuses in Australia.
– It has been our experience in relation to other bonuses.
– Bonuses have been improperly given in some cases. I know perfectly well that, for instance, in New South Wales a great deal of the money that- was voted by Parliament for the development of mines went into the pockets of the companies instead of to . the miners, as was intended, for the purpose of inducing prospecting and the development of new mines. But that is a question of administration. The provisions of this Bill are such that until the Minister is satisfied, no bonuses will be paid. He has to have good reason for believing that the industry is firmly established, or he need not do anything whatever. If a mere bogus industry is started, is it likely that the Minister will pay money to its promoters? I think that honorable members treat the integrity of the Minister and of the Government very lightly when they imagine that a Government would hand over a bonus to any company until justified in doing so. I believe that the particular company with which I was negotiating will start the works if they get the opportunity. I observe in the speech made by the right honorable member for Adelaide in moving the second reading of the Bonus Bill last year, that he stated that it was estimated that the cost of establishing the industry would range between £800,000 and ,£1,100,000.
– Evidence was given to that effect.
– Quite so. But I happen to have seen particulars of the actual amount required in one case. It was £1,100,000. The £125,000 which was stated by Mr. Sandford, of Lithgow, in his evidence, as being sufficient was simply for the production of pig iron ; whereas the £1,100,000 would be required for the production of the best class of manufactured iron - of as good a quality as that imported into the Commonwealth.
– Mr. Sandford says the amount is ,£250,000 for manufactured iron.
– I do not know whether Mr. Sandford has given that evidence; but I am assured - and in this I am supported by the statement of Mr. Carson, who I know was connected with one of the largest firms in England - that works could not be erected and made to pay properly for less than £1,000,000. He said further, that the iron industry was one which must be carried out on a large scale to make it pay, because the company would have to take small profits, and therefore would require to have a large output. That being the case the amount estimated by the right honorable member for Adelaide is fairly correct. The work may possibly be done cheaper. As low an estimate as £800,000 has been given. But experts who have had to deal with iron manufacture in the way that the Carsons have had gave a higher estimate. In addition to that, Mr. Carson told me that, though one works would supply Australia, it would be necessary to manufacture iron and steel for export, or else the works would not pay. He said that he would be prepared to run the chance of exporting iron to the western States of South America in order to keep the mill going all the year round. Under those conditions it is of vast and grave importance that we should deal with this question as early as posible. I cannot understand why there should be any objection to doing so, especially in view of the provisional clauses which I have inserted, giving a State power at any time, either by arrangement or at a valuation, to take over the iron works which may be established. But for Heaven’s sake let us do something, and not remain apathetic and lethargic. We have untold riches buried in the earth producing nothing whatever. What would happen, suppose we were cut off by an enemy from the old world and could not import the iron which- we require? We should be in some such predicament as will be the case if we do not mind what we are doing in regard to our ammunition and our guns. We require iron and steel for the manufacture of these things. At present we should be almost helpless, so far as the manufacture of armament, ammunition, and other things, in which iron and steel are required, is concerned.
– Does the honorable gentleman think that any company would erect works, if the State had the power to take them over as soon as they were a success ?
– I think they would.
– I think they would not.
– I think they would, because I do not think the State would interfere with them. If honorable members are prepared to wait until the States, take up this question, and establish iron works, men who, are looking for work in the industry will be greyheaded before they get it, ‘ even although they should be young men now. It is for the Commonwealth Parliament to pass a measure of this kind to give some impetus to the establishment of ironworks
On the Blythe River, in the electorate of the honorable member for Franklin, and elsewhere. I have seen the iron mines in that district, and I am aware, from the analysis of ore sent to England, that the Blythe ore is the second richest in the world.
– Why spoil the Bill by introducing the option referred to? Mr. Mcwilliams. - As soon as the works are a success the State will take them over.
– I do not think the State will touch them, and if the State does take them over, it will be in a way which will not injure the company.
– There would be no confiscation.
– Nor should there be. If men were to invest their money, and make the establishment of the industry a success, they would in any case have to put up with what the- Parliament of the State thought best in the interests of the public. One reason why this provision is inserted in the Bill is because such a strong feeling was evinced that the establishment of the iron industry should be taken up as a matter of State concern, instead of Being left to private enterprise. To meet, so far as possible, the objections of honorable members who wish the establishment of the industry to remain in abeyance until that particular time it was thought wiser to insert this provision.
– I think it was agreed to on the suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, Mr. Higgins, before the Commission dealt with the matter.
– The provision inserted in the Bill is recommended bv the Commission.
– I think we had almost agreed to it before the question was referred to the Commission.
– Who are “we”?
– I believe that the right honorable and learned member for Adelaide had practically consented, if he brought in the measure again, to introduce such a provision. It would take up too much time to go generally through the report of the Commission and the evidence taken, but I propose to make some reference to the evidence given by Mr. Jamieson, Mr. Sandford, and Mr. Franki. In answer to question 664 and following questions, Mr. Jamieson said that if the Bill were passed the company proposed erecting machinery and plant, probably in New South Wales. In answer to question 670, he explained that this decision was arrived at on the recommendation of the well-known expert, Mr. Darby, from Great Britain, who reported upon’ the v/hole business. I happened to meet Mr. Darby, who was brought out to Australia at the time negotiations were going on between myself and this company. What was agreed to was that 75 per cent, of Blythe River ore should be used, and 25 per cent, of a certain New South Wales ore, described in the report of Mr. Jaquet, and which was to be used to assist as a flux. According to the answer to question 673, the contemplated expenditure was ^1,109,000, to provide for the starting of works capable of an output of 500 tons of metal per day, or 150,000 tons per annum. So that’ the output of this one establishment would supply the raw material required for the iron manufacturers of Australia. In answer to question 684, Mr. Jamieson said that a 15 per cent, duty all round on pig iron and steel would suit the company as well as the granting of a bonus only. That would go on after the industry was established, but, as I said previously, the object of doing it in the way proposed, is to prevent any increase of price to the manufacturer of iron, through his having to pay too high a price in the first instance for the raw material, scrap, and pig iron. Honorable members must see that that is so, because the bonus is to continue only for a certain period, and for a very short period.
– Is the honorable gentleman going to give the industry the benefit of a duty after that?
– When the bonus ceases. It will be in the discretion of the Minister to say when the industry is established, and then, by proclamation, a duty can be put on. In answer to question 688, Mr. Jamieson said that the annual consumption of pig iron in Australia amounted to 30,000 or 40,000 tons, and in answer to question 757 he said that the total consumption of iron in Australia was about 450,000 tons annually. In answer to a question in connexion with freight, 689, he said that the freightage rates were nothing in favour of the company. In answer to question 701, Mr. Jamieson said that Canada is going ahead enormously in the matter of the development of her iron resources. I have proved that by the figures I have given, showing the increased output which has taken place in Canada under the bonus and the duty also. ‘ In answer to question 736 he said that if ironworks were established, the local consumers of iron would probably get the material, they require as cheaply as they do now. In that connexion I -wish to point out that it is the intention of the Government - in fact a Bill is drafted now - to introduce a Bill to deal with trusts and rings. If a trust or ring were formed in Australia in any industry to increase the price in the way honorable members seem to think prices may be increased, it would come under the provisions of the proposed Bill.
– Then the Government will be able to deal with the tobacco business straight away?
– I may be going a little off the track, but, apropos of the interjection, 1 may be allowed to say, in regard to the tobacco trust, that if anything proves the necessity for legislation in regard to trusts and rings, it is the tobacco trust. ‘ I believe the circumstances connected with that trust will help me materially in passing through Parliament the measure to which I refer.
– Will the shipping rings, which now exist, also be brought under the Bill ?
– I cannot tell the honorable member just now. I may say, however, from my experience that you scratch a Russian to find a Tartar when you touch the shippers, because they have a great deal of power. In answer to question 777, Mr. Jamieson estimated that 3,000 men would be employed during the first four months after the establishment of iron works, and that the average wages paid would be about £3 per week. On looking at the evidence, however, I find that Mr. Jamieson did not use those exact words, but said that after being in “ full swing “ for four months the works would employ 3,000 men. I have compared that with the number of men employed in the United States, and I find both almost exactly the same in proportion to’ the number of tons produced. Mr. Jamieson was evidently quite correct in his estimate, but. as I have already pointed out,, he omitted to mention all the additional men who would find employment in the other industries necessary to make the iron industry a success. In answer to question 987, Mr. Jamieson said that the works would be in full swing two and a-half years after the passing of a law which suited the promoters; and that, I think, is as short a time as can be stipulated. I dare say that the honorable member for Kooyong knows well that works of the kind could not be established under two years, or probably two years and a-half ; and it may be taken for granted, in view of the provision in the Bill, that there will be no unnecessary delay. These are the principal pertinent points in Mr. Jamieson’s evidence. Mr. Sandford is another gentleman who is, or should be, well versed in this matter, and he said, in reply to question 11 48, that with a bonus or an alternative duty the works could be started but that there was no hope of the industry being commenced without a bonus. Mr. Sandford doubtless meant that the works could not be started without a bonus or a duty, and he went on to say that a duty of 20 per cent, on iron from outside, and a duty of 10 per cent, on iron from the mother country, would enable the industry to be at once started - that if the market was guaranteed for five years, either by a bonus or by a duty, he would be willing to at once put down the plant. In answer to the last question put to him, question 1197, Mr. Sandford said if the duty and bounty disappeared, he should not be able to continue operations.
– Are there any wealthy people in treaty with the Government now? Suppose this Bill be passed, will the Minister guarantee that the industry will be started ?
– I do not like to guarantee anything ; but I believe that both Mr. Sandford and the Blythe River Company will start, one in a. small way, and the other on a large scale, if the inducements are sufficient to protect them - and that is the main point - against powerful ironmasters outside.
– The bonus will not protect them.
– Yes, it will ; if the local manufacturers have a bonus in addition to their profit, outside ironmasters will have to reduce their prices very considerably in order to compete.
– The bonus ought to enable the local manufacturers to sell more cheaply.
– That is so, and it will make the. outside “ring,” which is going to flood the market at cheap rates, sell still more cheaply.
– An iron industry is carried on without a bonus by Mr. Ellis, of Penguin, South Australia.
– Where, I believe,” a few horse shoes, and articles of that kind, are produced.
– The works employ thirty or forty men, at any rate.
– I know that the works are doing no good in regard to the manufactured article; at any rate I did not know that the proprietor smelted iron, but understood that he sent it as flux to the Illawarra works. Another witness before the Royal Commission was Mr. Franki, who, in answer to question 1435, said that the capital invested in Mort’s Dock, of which he is -the manager, was nearly £500,000, and that he was prepared to pay 2 J per cent, more for the locallymade iron than he paid at the present time, because ,of the greater convenience and greater certainty of the local supply. Those three men, whose evidence I have cited, should know more of matters connected with the iron industry than the other witnesses, and their testimony all tends to show that there is necessity for either a bonus or a duty. For the reasons I have already given, it is not proposed to have a duty at first - that is a step which neither I, nor, I think, the right honorable member for Adelaide favours.
– Hear, hear.
– If a duty were imposed during the period of two and a half years, it would cause an increase in the price of raw material to those who require pig and scrap iron for their processes of manufacture.
– I thought the Minister was of opinion that a duty does not raise the price of an article?
– It is proposed to first give a bonus, and, later on, to extend protection ?
– That is the provision in the Bill. The honorable member for Macquarie talks very wildly on matters of this kind. What I have always said, and what any one who thinks the question out would say, is, that if a duty be placed on articles which cannot be produced in our midst, the price is raised; but that when the article can be manufactured amongst us, the price is not raised.
– Internal competition regulates the price.
– Internal competition, as a rule, reduces the price.
– Is this part of the Minister’s preferential trade scheme?
– The honorable member for Macquarie does not seem to be serious enough or to have sufficient brains to understand a very important but very simple question. I do not think that the honorable member ought to seek to defeat, by jeering and jibing, a Bill which is introduced in. the interests, of working people in his own electorate. The honorable member either talks nonsense or says what he knows to be untrue.
– The best proof of the contrary is that those people elected me in preference to the Government candidate.
– Why, the honorable member for Macquarie himself told me that he would not have been returned but for the ladies’ votes in. Bathurst.
– I am proud of- the ladies’ votes.
– The honorable member admitted that if he had to depend on the votes of the miners of Lithgow and the men employed in the Portland cement works he would not have been returned.
– What has that to do with the question before us? At any rate, I beat the Government candidate at Portland, and all round about Lithgow.
– I have not been able, as I hoped, to obtain the exact figures regarding the importations of iron last year, although I telegraphed to the various States for the information. I have no doubt, however, that an increase will be shown on the figures given by the right honorable member for Adelaide, when he dealt with this question during the year before last. According to the figures then presented, the importations amounted to about 150,000 tons; and that only goes to confirm what has been stated previously with regard to the practice of other countries.
– The Minister has just said that there was a lesser importation of iron last vear.
– I did not say so.
– But that is shown by the Customs returns quoted.
– That may have been a time when the Government of New South Wales, which usually imports largely, was not importing so much.
– But the Minister said that the importation might be higher last year.
– I am only giving an estimate. The average importation for years past has been about 150,000 tons, which,” I imagine, would not be reduced, but rather increased during last year. I quite admit that if loan works are stopped by a Government which is usually a great importer, there must be a temporary decrease. One important question which hinges on the establishment of the iron industry is at present before the High Court- - the question whether States have to pay duty on their importations. If duty has not to be paid by the States, a still greater difference is made to the iron industry, and there is greater reason why the Commonwealth Government should step in, with a view to assist the people who have invested their money in this direction. Of course, if the decision of the Court is that the States have to pay duty, the case is not so extreme. I have heard honorable members contend that this industry could be started by the States giving an order to a particular company. I do not deny that the industry could be started in such a way; but the order would have to be a large one, and, considering the present state of the money market, it is not likely, probably for many years to come, that any large orders will be given. Railway construction, in connexion with which there is the largest consumption of iron, has practically ceased, unless, of course, we decide to build the railway to Kalgoorlie, so favoured by the Minister for Home Affairs.
An Honorable Member. - And a line to Bombala ?
– Yes ; and to Bombala as well. If the construction of those two railways were authorized1, we might be able to give a good order for the supply of railway material. I imagine, however, that nothing will be done in this direction for a few years, and we may reasonably dismiss from our minds any idea that the States are likely to be in a position to give such an order as would induce any company to start works of the kind desired. A great deal has been said lately with regard to the absence of immigration. In regard to that matter, I differ from some of my colleagues. I do not believe that we shall ever induce a large stream of immigration to Australia until we offer special inducements to settlers, by breaking up the large estates into small holdings, and by protecting our manufactures, and thus providing increased work, not only for the people who may come here, but for those who are already amongst us. I believe that by establishing the iron industry, we should afford employment to at least 10,000 men.
– Is there not already an iron-works established at Lithgow, New South Wales ?
– No. It is true that there is an iron-works there, but not one pound of iron has been manufactured from the raw material obtained in New South Wales. The only iron I ever saw made from native ore in New South Wales took the form of two horse-shoes, which were made by a Mr. Davis, at Illawarra. He found an iron deposit, and managed, in his little forge, to smelt a sufficient quantity of iron to make the horse-shoes. He presented them to me, and I still have them in my possession. I never saw any iron produced from native ore at the Lithgow works.
– Why does not the Minister insert a clause in the Navigation Bill which would have the effect of preventing vessels from bringing pig iron here as ballast?
– Perhaps that would be a good thing if we could not otherwise protect the manufacture of pig iron. That, however, is not the question we are now considering, and I do not know that we shall have to deal with it. We know that in the Illawarra district, at Port Stephens, Lithgow, Carcoar, and Orange, and other parts of New South Wales, there are immense deposits of iron ore. I believe that the two richest deposits in Australia are to be found at the Blythe River, in Tasmania, and at the Iron Knob, in South Australia. The people of Australia have allowed their Parliaments to slumber upon this question. In New South Wales, the free-trade policy adopted has destroyed whatever prospect there might have been, of developing the iron resources of that State. I do not know that there are any great iron deposits in Victoria.
– Yes, at Ballarat.
– I do not know anything about them. I venture to believe that if any extensive iron deposits had existed in Victoria, where a vigorous policy of self-preservation has been adopted with a view to increase production and stimulate manufactures, every effort would have been made to promote the development of the iron industry. The community has suffered great loss owing to the neglect of our iron resources, and the labouring classes have been placed at a special disadvantage. It would be nothing short of criminal on our part to allow the present state of affairs to continue. I intend to do my best to secure the adoption of this measure, and I ask honorable members not to put it aside without due consideration. The proposal now made is fraught with the greatest importance to the Commonwealth. It is made, not in the interests of one- particular section of the community, but in the interests, first of the labouring classes, and secondly of those who are engaged in iron manufactures. In the . event of a European war we should not be able to procure from abroad the iron required by us for manufacturing purposes, and it is therefore necessary that we should at the earliest moment become self-supporting. I regret to say that through the policy of free-trade adopted in New South Wales, that State is the least self-dependent of all the States.
—–It is not by any means the least prosperous.
– I would urge upon honorable members the importance of adopting a policy which will enable us to supply . all our own requirements in connexion with the manufacture of iron. If fair consideration be given to this measure, I do not see how it can be thrown aside. Despite the Tumours that the Bill will probably be rejected, it is my duty and that of the Government to take every possible care that no blame shall attach to us for having failed to do everything within our power to stimulate the manufacture of iron and steel, and provide work for the people.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Dugald Thomson) adjourned.
In Committee :
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to-
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act relating to bounties for the encouragement of manufactures.
Resolution reported and adopted.
– I- move-
I have to acknowledge the courtesy of the Government in affording me an opportunity to launch this motion. The Minister for Trade and Customs has earnestly requested honorable members to help him to do some practical work in the direction of encouraging the iron industry. I desire to make an appeal no less earnest to honorable members to give their serious consideration to a subject which is quite as important as that which we have just been discussing, and which will be attended with results more farreaching. I refer to the question of water conservation as it applies to the arid districts of Australia. I .know that it is difficult for a private member to accomplish much; but I trust that the question with which I am now proposing to deal will be recognised as so important that honorable members will be induced to devote their best efforts to bring about some practical result. I know that some honorable members have taken a great interest in this question, and I hope that when the adjourned debate takes place, they will assist to thresh the matter out, in order that we may ascertain the extent of our powers, and induce the States to cooperate with us in carrying out a great national enterprise. The GovernorGeneral’s Speech makes several references to primary production.. In the first place, the passing of the drought is mentioned; but nothing is suggested with a view to prevent a recurrence of the disastrous consequences of such visitations. Reference is also made to the recent bountiful harvests, to the necessity of establishing an agricultural bureau, and the desirableness of assisting farmers by encouraging them to grow new crops, and by offering increased facilities for marketing their produce. Paragraph 7 also refers to the vast undeveloped resources of this great continent, to the very small increase in our population, and to the necessity of securing desirable European immigration, with a view to making the best use of the facilities which nature has placed at our disposal. Unless we also take into consideration the great question of the utilization of our water resources, the words last referred to constitute merely an empty phrase. They are almost entirely devoid of significance, unless we have in view some steps for the development of our water resources. Water plays the most important part in our national economy.’ .The provision of a water supply is the first question which obtrudes itself upon our attention in connexion with the settlement of population upon the land. If no water supply is available, no settlement can take place. A good water supply is essential to the success of all mining and farming enterprises. Its abundance or otherwise has a marked effect upon our financial position, because in order to afford the best security for our loans, we must increase our production, and we cannot hope to do that unless we devise means for making the best use .of our wearer resources. Apart from these considerations, however, the question is one intimately connected with the principles of democracy, because the spreading of water over the land must tend to break up large estates, and to settle small land-holders in comfort upon the soil. It also has a bearing upon the White Australia question, because, unless we can insure the settlement of the land upon a sound basis, a White Australia will be impossible. In short, it means the rearing of homes all over this continent, which is synonymous with the upbuilding of cities and general prosperity. Honorable members having recently come from their constituents are fully seized of the feeling which exists in regard to Federation, and towards this Parliament. To a large extent that feeling is one of grave disappointment that more has not been done by us in the way of practical work. Of course, it is possible that the people expected too much from Federation, but it is idle to deny ‘that the disappointment which prevails is partly justified. The Commonwealth looks to this Parliament for practical work, now that we have disposed of our machinery measures and got our departments into working order. We require to justify our existence, and to justify Federation by devoting ourselves to practical work, which will uplift the country and cause it to progress. People are already asking whether Federation was established merely for the purpose of creating another Parliament, an additional Civil Service, fresh Government Departments, and all the paraphernalia connected with new institutions. They declare that Ave are spending more of the taxpayers’ money without assisting them to earn it. The situation reminds me very forcibly of the parable of the fig-tree. The people are exclaiming, “ For three years we have come seeking fruit and found none.” They are therefore beginning to say, “ Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground ?” Fiftythree years ago a portion of this continent was subdivided into Colonies, because it was felt that, as separate units, they would progress much more rapidly than they would working under one Constitution. As a result, they have made wonderful advancement. We have now joined together in a Federal bond, in order that our progress may be even more rapid. It was felt that, united in one bond, we could do work which the States in their separate existence could not possibly attempt. It was expected that our progress would be proportionate to the bulk of the new authority which has been created. So far, those aspirations have not been realized. During the last Parlia-ment we passed no less than forty Acts, only one of which touched industry. I refer to the Tariff, which incidentally aided industry to a certain extent. All our other statutes involved the expenditure of money, but did not assist in the earning of it. The Vice-Regal Speech, I am glad to say, gives promise that we are now going to accomplish something in the way of practical work, and in his earnest address to-day, the Minister for Trade and Customs has submitted the first proposal foreshadowed in that direction. I have been asked what the Commonwealth can do in the way of water conservation, seeing that the States own the land. It is said that we cannot interfere with the lands of the States. That is so; but it ‘is equally true that we have control of the main streams. When Federation was established, it was never intended that the States and the Commonwealth should work upon parallel lines. It. was expected that they would co-operate with each other for the common good. To those who hold the view that because the States possess the land, we can do nothing with it, I would point out that we can request the States to join with us in making the land more productive, and thus bringing about closer settlement. We have control of the main water courses, and the prosperity of the States very largely depends upon how those waters are utilized. I hope that this House will avoid further reproach in connexion with this matter. I trust that by its treatment of it, the Commonwealth Parliament will become a real, life-giving, potent force. A nation is built up by three great factors, the national trinity of land, water,, and people. Unfortunately, in some of the States our lands have been alienated in the most shameless manner, and we have allowed our water resources year by year to flow wastefully to the sea. Any one who travels through the three eastern States at the present time cannot fail to be impressed by the difference which a supply of water will make in a country. As the result of the eight years’ drought from which we have recently emerged, the. whole of the northern country a year ago looked as if grass would never grow there again. Six months later, where previously there was no sign of verdure, the grass was knee-deep. That experience shows that the application of water to our lands will make them respond, and become .fruitful. In the past we have neglected this precious gift, and, as a result, have paid the penalty. The drought has left its dire impress on the country - an impress which will continue for years to come. In many places our flocks and herds have entirely disappeared. But the loss of so many sheep and cattle is not the most serious evil. In numerous instances these flocks and herds had been carefully selected year after year. Special attention had been paid to’ their breeding, in order to obtain certain strains. All these have now been swept away, and will have to be replaced at an enormous cost. It is estimated that the loss to Australia which was occasioned by the recent drought is not less than £130,000,000. Last year alone the people of New South Wales paid £500,000 in the effort to keep their cattle and sheep alive, every head of which could have been saved if the rainfall had been conserved in good seasons. The way in which we have neglected ordinary common-sense precautions in Australia justifies the statement with which Mr. Wilcocks closes his book - The Assouan Dam. That work, I need scarcely add, is a monument to his ability and to the enterprise of the people who carried it out. In the closing pages of his book Mr. Wilcocks says -
Fortunately for Egypt, as for India, her destinies have been in the hands of men to whom irrigation has always represented the foundation stone of permanent prosperity. Well would it have been for the permanent prosperity of the arid and semi-arid regions of Australia and South Africa if their statesmen had been educated in Egypt and India, and had spent on irrigation works one-half of the sums which they have spent on communications and railways. We should have been spared the sight of the arrested prosperity we see on every hand, and which we shall continue to see until a .wise departure is made from the past policy, and the same liberality is shown towards the development of irrigation which has been shown towards the development of railways and communications.
That is the opinion of a man who, from afar, views with a clear eye what is retarding the progress of this country. The first proposition which I wish to submit to the House affirms -
That the prosperity of Australia as a whole, and the development of the interior more especially, depends on the utilization of its waters.
If we turn to countries which are situated in similar latitudes to our own, we find that where they make use of water they flourish, and that where they neglect it they decay. We know that the earlier civilizations were not to be found in moist, well-wooded countries, but in the middle of arid deserts, which were rendered habitable by waters that flowed down from mountain ranges or equatorial uplands. These wastes, fallowed for years bv the sun and wind, and absorbing all the elements of plant life from the atmosphere, were made fruitful and reproductive bv the application of water, and people who settled there succeeded in becoming strong, conquering nations, dominating all around them. To-day history is repeating itself. In America, during the past 100 years, settlement has been mainly confined to the East. Down the United States, a line drawn from the 93rd meridian divides the arid from the waste areas. Formerly, the territory to the west of this line was regarded as a place to be dreaded. Many persons, in seeking to go through it, had left their bones there. To-day, however, the aspect of affairs is entirely changed, and people are leaving the* eastern lands to settle in the western, which are made bountiful and reproductive by the water from the ranges of that’ great continent. In Australia similar conditions prevail. Originally our people settled upon a fringe o’f the. coast-line, and upon the banks of our rivers. Our iniquitous land laws, however, have driven them back from the watered districts to the interior, where agriculture and tillage, nay, even existence itself, is very little more than a gamble and a lottery. In these districts the settler is the mere sport of the weather. In America there are 9,000,000 acres which are under irrigation channels-. In Australia, however, we have acomplished comparatively nothing in the way of irrigation. The Crown lands still available for settlement possess a rainfall which ranges from 15 inches to nothing.
If these great areas are to be utilized, water is a prime necessity. Round two-thirds of the circumference of Australia we have mountain ranges within 100 or 150 miles of the sea, and ranging in altitude from 7,000 feet downwards. From these ranges manystreams flow, both towards the sea and towards the interior. It is, so far as regards the great Murray basin, an immense arterial system of water supply. We have a fair rainfall over one-third of the continent. Of course, we have been told rather contemptuously that we are a mere fringe of a continent, and that our interior can never be utilized to any great extent. I wish to show that the possibility of developing that interior is very much greater than most people imagine, because upon the ranges to which I have referred, from 20 to 50 inches of rain fall annually. That rain can be utilized, both on the outward and the inward slopes. The land in itself, though apparently arid,, is rich in all the essential elements of plant life. We require only to conserve these mountain rains in seasons of plenty, to make it fructify, and produce to an enormous extent. In Australia we have several river systems. Some of the streams on the west coast flow into the Indian Ocean, others on the north, east, and south into the Gulf of Carpentaria, and the Pacific, and some of these systems extend over several States. For example, the drainage area of the Murray system extends into three States, and thus it is only by Federal action that we can cope with the question of the utilization of these great river systems. What is necessary is a great central power, clothed with proper authority, and able to take upon itself the financial responsibilities associated with the effective utilization of these streams. I propose to-day to deal only with the Murray River system; but, although I am not familiar with ,the details of other river systems, I shall be pleased at any time to lend what assistance I can to secure their utilization for the benefit of other parts of the Commonwealth. I shall always be prepared to join heartily and strongly with other honorable members in any proposal in that direction ; but, meantime, I desire that these propositions shall be affirmed. I am not putting them forward as a mere advertisement, for I feel very strongly on the question. Australia is different altogether from other continents. When one looks at the map he is struck at once by the apparently enormous area of arid country in the centre of Australia, while on turning to the maps of other countries he discovers that, without exception, all are traversed from end to end by one or more high mountain ranges. In those countries moisture is generated on the ranges, and carried down to the plains. In Australia, however, hot winds are generated in the interior, and, sweeping over the country, destroy our vegetation instead of supplying it with the moisture that it needs. We may not be able, therefore, to have an ideal system of irrigation, but that is all the more reason why we should utilize to the fullest extent the resources that we possess. Those resources are not to be despised. In the far north of Victoria, as well as in Riverina, we have excellent pasture land. Even in its natural condition - in the absence of moisture supplied by artificial means - it is good pastoral land, but with irrigation it would be equal to any that we have. Those who visit the northern parts of Victoria for the first time are astonished to see how well many crops grow there, and how favorably they compare with those produced by the rich fat lands of Gippsland and the Western district. Those who advocate the development of our country are absolutely agreed that it is to be secured only by settling the people on the land. In no other way can we hope to make this country what we desire it to be. We must utilize the Crown lands that remain unalienated, but we may do more. The Federal Parliament has yet no power to deal with the lands, but the States Governments should exercise the power of resumption to the fullest extent. Where they find it impossible to voluntarily resume areas in the water districts, and .close to main lines of communication, they should adopt the compulsory system of land resumption at the earliest date. If the people are to be settled on the land in this way, the work must be carried out under proper conditions. In speaking on the Address in Reply, I showed what had been done in the way of land settlement in Victoria. I pointed out that the State Government, of which my honorable friend, the member for Gippsland, was the head, was absolutely successful in this direction ; that large estates were purchased by that Government, and that the arrears of principal and interest due by persons settled on the land so acquired, at a cost of about £200,000, now amounted to only 1 per cent. These facts show what can be done by the resumption of private lands, and the settling of the people upon them. Land settlement must be carried out under proper conditions, and the most important is to take care to provide a proper water supply. That point brings me to my second proposition, which is -
That this great question should receive the early attention of the Government of the Commonwealth.
I have already pointed out that the Commonwealth Government control the main streams of Australia, and I would remind the House that unless the River Murray can be utilized, two States, South Australia and New South Wales, cannot provide their lands in that river basin with a proper water supply. Victoria, however, is in a different position. She has a mountain range stretching across her territory, and from that mountain range nine rivers flow down to feed the Murray. I believe that’ Victoria has power to stretch bars across those streams, and divert their waters over her own land. If she chose to exercise her full powers, she would be absolutely independent of the River Murray. I do not think, however, that there is any intention on the part of any public man in Victoria to adopt such a policy. The idea is rather that the whole system should be used for the benefit of all the States concerned. The Commonwealth has power to take over the Meteorological Departments of the States, and I would urge the Government to avail themselves of that power as soon as possible, and to establish a system of Federal hydrology, so that we may have the fullest information in reference to the river systems of the Commonwealth. Some time must necessarily ‘be occupied in carrying out such a scheme; but once the information has been collected, it will always be available, and we shall be able to ascertain what basis there is for works that may be contemplated in connexion with our rivers. The individual States will never settle this great question, and it is, therefore, the duty of the Commonwealth to endeavour to bring them into agreement. If the Commonwealth cannot use its influence in bringing the States together to settle a great issue of this kind, then the Federation is simply a sham, and should never have been brought about. From time to time attempts have been made to deal on equitable lines with the momentous questions relating to the Murray waters. So far back as 1863 a Conference was held in Melbourne, at which representatives of New South Wales, South Australia, and Victoria were present. Important resolutions were passed, but the Conference had no practical result. Since then each of the States have appointed one or more Commissions to inquire into this matter, and various schemes have been formulated - more particularly by Mr. McKinney and Colonel Home - for the utilization of the Murray waters, at moderate expense and to the great benefit of the country. But, as in many other cases, there has been no practical outcome. In hundreds of cases reports of Commissions are received and thrown aside, and no tangible result follows from the expense and’ labour incurred in their preparation. In 1902, however, as the result of the long protracted drought, interest in this great question revived, and the Murray River Main Canal League, in April of that year; convened a large Conference at Corowa. The Conference - which was one of the most important ever held in Australia - was presided over by the president, Mr. E. J. Gorman, and was attended by fifty-six accredited delegates. Leaders of the States Governments interested, as well as representatives of the Commonwealth Government, and members of both the Commonwealth and States Legislatures, were also present. The deliberations of the Conference extended over three days, and the following resolutions were carried : -
These resolutions were placed before Sir Edmund Barton, who represented the Commonwealth, Sir John See, who represented New South Wales, Sir Alexander Peacock, the representative of Victoria, and Mr. Gordon, the representative of South Australia, and were discussed by them. The outcome of the discussion was a promise to appoint a Royal Inter-State Commission to deal with the whole question, and to report at the earliest opportunity. The very finest Federal feeling was shown by all concerned at the Conference. No desire was manifested by any representative to take the slightest advantage of any other State. All that was wanted was that each State should be fairly and justly dealt with. But in order that some tangible result might follow the holding of the Conference, it was necessary that the facts, so far as they were ascertainable, should be obtained, and a Royal Commission was therefore considered necessary. It is worth while, perhaps, to place on record the remarks which were made by the representative of the Commonwealth Government, and the representatives of the States Governments concerned, for they convey some idea of the feeling which prevailed. Sir Edmund Barton said -
Believe me, I feel deeply interested in it, as a great internal question of Australia - the question of the conservation and utilization of river waters. It is a question that has received scant recognition in legislation of the past, yet it should have been one of the first - the first, in the laws of the country and in the thoughts of the people. It becomes us all to take to our hearts the lesson taught us’ by past experience in loss, and pain and suffering, to prevent a repetition of such, and to build upon our past difficulties and dangers a happy and prosperous future.
Then Sir John See gave expression to the following opinions:-
I regard the resolution which has been unanimously adopted in private conference as a practical and business-like outcome of the Conference, up to its present stage; and if I be in power at the required time, you.mav rest assured that I can be relied upon to accord it the recognition its great importance warrants, and, if there be any defects, on having them put right. Per-‘ sonally, I am sanguine and confident as to the issue, believing that it will be favorable to all concerned. I must again compliment the Conference as a thoroughly practical and not a theoretical one. It has not been a failure, but a very great success. You have revived a great question, which, although in abeyance, has not altogether been lost sight of. Parliament is always busy, but in future it will not be so busy that this question will be overlooked. The matter will be dealt with in a thoroughly practical and energetic manner. So far as I am concerned, not even a visitation of floods will delay the issue. In conclusion, I desire to compliment the fighters against this terrible drought. Providence has done a very great deal for mankind ; it becomes mankind’s duty to also do a great deal to put to practical use the advantages the Almighty has placed before us.
Sir Alexander Peacock, the representative for Victoria, said -
We will secure the information that should have been secured long since.. My express instructions to my Government, and to the members of the Commission, will be to the effect that there must be no delay in this matter. In this respect I am sure that I- can also speak for Mr. See and Mr. Gordon. It is not to be interfered with bv any other work. We shall have much necessary information almost at once, and then we shall know exactly what the scheme is likely to cost. We have made many mistakes in the past; we can now profit by them. If there be any delays I shall lend my voice and influence to have the work transferred from the three States to the Federal Government -because I know that the temper of the people would speak and say, “A plague on your Houses ! Transfer the matter to the Federal Parliament.” If such a contingency arise, I, for one, shall not object to the transference. We must recognise the fact that settlement is being seriously affected by these adverse climatic conditions. The country is going back, and all the time tremendous bodies of water are running to waste. Those on the land call for the most serious consideration. We must fight to retain population; we must also fight to extend it. I feel certain within mv own mind that all who sit here to-day may go back to their homes confident in the ultimate successful issue of this great and important scheme.
Mr. Gordon, representing the Premier of South Australia, said -
Unless I am a bad judge of public events, I recognise in the results of this Conference the first-fruits of Federation. The first working of the great Federal machine had not been accomplished without a considerable amount of discord, mistrust, and discontent, which, I am bound to say, was not by any means absent from South Australia. But now, I believe, from the bottom of my heart, that the results of this Conference will be the forerunner of a great and glorious harvest. We are now experiencing the better running of the machine in the amity and good-will pervading the Commonwealth. I shall go back to South Australia with a message that, I am sure, will materially assist in promoting that ideal of mutual concession, self-help, and whole-souled devotion to the Federal idea and to the Commonwealth - the Federal spirit which has been so palpably manifest throughout the deliberations of this important Conference, and that I sincerely hope will continue, resulting in everlasting prosperity to the continent of Australia.
The outcome, as I said before, was the appointment of an Inter-State Commission, consisting of Mr. J. Davis, the Chief Engineer of New South Wales, Mr. Stuart Murray, who holds a similar position in Victoria, and Mr. Burchell, one of the ablest engineers in South Australia. They were appointed on the 13th May, 1902, but they worked so extremely hard that they were enabled on 9th December of that year to submit to their respective Governments a most comprehensive report dealing with all the features of this great Murray basin. That report was a monument of industry, and will enable this question to be discussed with a knowledge of the ascertained facts. They describe the Murray and its basin. It is some 1,500 miles from Albury, down to the sea. There is no river in the world that lends itself in a greater degree to irrigation than does the Murray River. It is practically the Nile of Australia. Out of a continent of nearly 3,000,000 square miles this basin occupies 414,253 square miles. But, in consequence of open places, and many other ways by which water escapes, only one-third of that area is actually effective in the way of catchment. The peculiarity of this great river basin is that, if it were possible forall the rain that falls to run, it would gather at one point, and that point is the junction of the Murray and the Darling. The catchment area extends to Queensland. The effective catchment area in square miles is 67,690 in Queensland, 75,499 in New South Wales, and 15,310 in Victoria, or a total of 158,499 square miles. But the wide distribution of the catchment does not correspond with the water that comes from it, because a very gre”at quantity of the water that flows into the Murray comes from the Victorian Ranges. Absolutely no rain falls in South Australia that feeds the Murray. The fall of the river down to Tocumwal is about 9 inches, to Echuca 7i Inches, to Euston 4J inches, to Wentworth $f inches, and thence to the sea 3 inches per mile. In order to give honorable members an idea of the magnitude of this great river, I shall have to quote a few figures. The volume of water was taken by the Commission for the highest known and the lowest known years. At Albury 264,000,000,000 cubic feet of water passed in the highest year, and 91,000,000,000 cubic feet in the lowest year, “ the mean being 144,000,000,000 cubic “feet. At Echuca 403,000,000,000 cubic feet passed in the highest year, and 157,000,000,000 in the lowest year, the mean being 254,000,000,000 cubic feet. At Mildura 763,000,000,000 cubic feet passed in the highest year and 218,000,000,000 in the lowest year, giving a mean of 371,000,000,000 cubic feet. At Morgan 971,000,000,000 cubic feet passed in the highest year and 318,000,000,000 in the lowest year, the mean being 455,000,000,000 cubic feet. The area of land commanded by the waters of the Murray is 4,620,160 acres in New South Wales, 4,000,000 acres in Victoria, and 2,500,000 acres in South Australia. In South Australia, however, they labour under the drawback that they cannot get a gravitation supply. The banks of the river are high, and whatever water was required would have to be pumped from a depth of no feet to supply 1,000,000 acres, and a depth of 160 feet to supply 1,500,000 acres. Altogether there may be irrigated from the Murray, provided that the supply of water is sufficient, no less than 11,120,160 acres. The ascertained available water, provided that it could all be used, would cover the following areas: - The highest flow at Albury would cover 4,600,000 acres, and the lowest flow 1,516,000 acres.
– Is that by taking all the water?
– The volume which passes would cover that area of land, 12 inches deep, allowing for waste.
– Would 12 inches be enough ?
– Yes. Of course we would not use all that water. A man does not irrigate the whole of a property, but only one-fourth or; one- third. I am endeavouring to indicate the potentialities of this stream, and to suggest what it could do if properly utilized. At Echuca, in a high year, the flow would cover 6,71.6,000 acres, and in a low year 2,616,000 acres. At Mildura, in a high year, the flow would cover 12,716,000 acres, and in a low year 3,633,000 acres. At Morgan, in a high year, the flow would cover 16,000,000 acres, and in a low year 5,300,000 acres. These calculations are made on the basis of 60,000 cubic feet to the acre, an ample supply to -cover the land and to provide for waste in transit. I may be asked what is the monetary value of the water. It is difficult to say what it is. We can only judge by the value in other countries. Mr. Wilcocks reckons that each 1,000,000,000 cubic feet in Egypt is worth £30,000. In Italy the value of a cubic foot per second runs from £500 to £1,600 ; in France, from £500 to £2,550 ; and in America, from /.’800 to £8,000, according to where it is and what is to be served. In his Irrigation Investigations, Meade, who is perhaps the best authority in America, says that the area of land which a continually running cubic foot of water will serve is 54 acres. It will be seen that, even after allowing for an enormous discount in the volume and the value of the water, we permit every year millions of pounds worth of water to run to waste to the sea, which might be used, not only for irrigation, but also for stock. The raising of the levels of the river would back the water for hundreds of miles into the interior, filling up creeks and dams, lakes and billabongs. It would change the whole aspect of the country wherever the water was enabled to flow. But the provision of storage and diversion works to enable this result to be achieved, make locks absolutely essential. They should be placed in such a way as to aid not only navigation, but also irrigation. Thev should be of such a character that they would distribute the water over the land, as well as enable navigation to be carried on. This reference to locks brings me to the question of the degree to which South Australia is interested in this great undertaking. I do not propose to discuss the abstract rights of South Australia; the time for that has absolutely passed! We wish this matter to be settled in the fairest possible way. Although South Australia contributes no water to the Murray, yet by reason of the dependence which her people place on the river, and its value to navigation, it is entitled to the fullest consideration. Of course I recognise that irrigation is infinitely more important than navigation. But I am content to give navigation its proper place. There need be no dispute, because with a proper means of conservation and distribution there is enough water to supply every possible need of the, three States concerned. The Inter-State Commission made certain recommendations. One of them was to utilize Lake Victoria, in South Australia, for certain works, at a cost of £84,000, and to construct six locks from Blanchetown, in that State, to its boundary, and twenty locks from the boundary to Echuca, at an estimated cost of £1,330,000. The average length of a reach would be 31 miles. The Commission also projected certain head works, including the Cumberoona dam, at a cost of £787,500, and the Bungowannah weir at a cost of £550,000, which would raise the level of the water and run it away into New South Wales on the one side, and. into Vic- 1 toria on the other. Other works were projected, namely, locks on the Lachlan, Darling, Murrumbidgee, and Edwards Rivers, at an estimated cost of £2,571,750. Of course the construction of all the works would not be proceeded with at the same time. But, whatever is done in the way of utilizing the river should be done as part of a comprehensive scheme, so that in future interests may not clash in any shape or form. The next move was made at a Conference of Premiers, which was held in Sydney in April last. Among other matters, the Premiers endeavoured to come to an agreement with regard to the great River Murray question. They held eight meetings on that question alone, and I am sorry to say that their tone was on the whole different from that which was displayed at . Corowa. From a perusal of its proceedings, I find that the Premier of New South Wales exhibited a more Federal spirit than any statesman present on that occasion, and I desire to do justice to him to that extent. The whole question was discussed, and the points on which the Ministers differed were briefly as follows : - South Australia objected to the Royal Inter-State Commission’s Report, inasmuch as it left that State, during the summer months, only some 70,000 cubic feet of water per minute ; and also objected to navigation being restricted to five months in the year. South Australia also desired that the Commonwealth should do the locking, and that each State should attend to its own conservation and distribution of water. Victoria, which was represented by Mr. Irvine, objected to paying its quota of the expense of the locking, some £700,000 or £800,000; which, he said, would be of no use to his State. The engineers, Mr. Davis and Mr. Murray, were also called in and consulted, and they gave the Conference some very interesting figures. They stated that if locks were established on -the Murray, some 5,000,000,000 cubic feet of water would keep the locks going. That is to say, that quantity of water would keep the locks always navigable. That is really only about one-eighteenth of the lowest flow at Albury, so that the quantity of water required to keep the river navigable is actually very small compared with the volume of water that flows down the river.
– Would that quantity keep the river navigable right through the year?
M r. McCOLL. - Yes ; that is the estimate of the engineers. To show how the figures mount up, I may point out that South Australia objected to being allotted only 70,000 cubic feet a minute, yet that quantity would in the year run to no less than 50,000,000,000 cubic feet. As I have said, 5,000,000,000 cubic feet would keep the locks going, so that this 50,000,000,000 cubic feet would be more than ten times the quantity required for navigation purposes throughout the year. It must be admitted therefore that there is plenty of water to supply every one. The difficulty was with regard to the construction of the locks. There was a motion submitted by Mr. Jenkins, in which he desired the Conference to agree that the Federal Government should lock the river from Wentworth to Blanchetown; that each State should bear the cost of its own works for conservation and irrigation ; that South Australia should be allowed over and above the quantity required bv her for navigation, 70,000 cubic feet a minute ; and that the balance should go, two-thirds to New South Wales and one third to Victoria. This motion was submitted to the Conference, but it was not carried. Three voted in favour of it, Sir John See, Mr. Jenkins, and Mr. James ; and on the other side three voted against it, Mr. Irvine, Mr. Philp, and Mr. Nicholls. Consequently the Conference came almost to a dead-lock. Mr. Gordon suggested that there should be no further works carried out in New South Wales or Victoria unless twelve months’ notice were given, so that South Australia could test the matter as to her rights. It was finally agreed that the water to be allowed to South Australia should be increased from 70,000 cubic feet to 150,000 cubic feet per minute. How the engineers came to alter their figures in that way passes my comprehension, but an agreement was ultimately arrived at upon that basis. To show what these ‘figures actually mean, I may point out that 70,000 cubic feet per minute would give 50,000,000,000 cubic feet a year, and would irrigate 840,000 acres; 150,000 cubic feet per minute would irrigate 1,800,000 acres in the summer, and the allowance in the navigable months, from July to January, of 337,000 cubic feet per minute would irri gate 5,000,000 acres. All that South Australia was insisting upon was sufficient water to enable her to carry on her navigation ; yet she was getting this enormous quantity of water, that would be so beneficial if properly utilized, merely to keep navigation going ; whilst, by means of locks, 5,000,000,000 cubic feet would enable navigation to be carried on all the vear round. When this agreement of the Conference was published, it was not received -with favour in any one of the States. As a matter of fact, not one of the Premiers has submitted the agreement to his Parliament to have it ratified. The agreement is absolutely void, unless each of the States approve of it through its Parliament.
– Within what time?
– No time was mentioned ; but seeing that Mr. Irvine has gone out of office, and that Mr. Gordon, one of the representatives of South Australia has gone on to the Bench, it is not likely, in view of the strong opinions expressed against the agreement, that it will ever be submitted to any one of the Parliaments for ratification. The position now is’ practically that there is a dead-lock. The States have met together and appointed a Commission, and on their Commission reporting, the representatives of the States have met in Conference, but have absolutely failed to come to any agreement whatever. I now come to my third proposition. It is this : - That it is desirable that a scheme of conserving and locking the waters of the River Murray, in the interests of irrigation and navigation, should be formulated and carried out by joint action on the part of the Commonwealth and the States of “ New South Wales, South Australia, and Victoria, and that the Government should take such steps as it may deem necessary to bring about such joint action without delay. I should like to ask the question - Is this waste to continue for ever? Are we going to allow this great stream, with all its potentialities of progress and prosperity, to run, as it is now running, in waste to the sea every year? We federated for large matters. There is no question more important than the one to which I am now referring, and I would strongly urge the Government of the Commonwealth to make an endeavour to bring the States into agreement in reference to it. The Government ought not to stand upon niceties with regard to a matter of this kind. The Treasurer - and all honour to him for it–called together a Conference of the States Treasurers to discuss the important questions of the loans and debts of the States. If that can be done in the one case, surely it can be done in regard to this infinitely greater question. Why cannot the Government call the representatives of the various States together, so that the question can be discussed, and some definite propositions agreed to, which can be submitted to the Commonwealth Parliament and to the States Parliaments, and be ratified and carried out? What will Austra- Iia think if we, holding the position that we do, shrink from dealing with one of the most important questions which can come before us? We look around us, and find that’ other countries are using this great factor in production - irrigation - to its fullest extent. They are practically unanimous in regard to its value. If we do not make use of the gifts which Providence hasgiven us, we must fall behind. What is the opinion of the people who are more directly interested ? Let us see. My fourth proposition is that the petition received by this House from certain residents in the Northern district of Victoria and the Riverina district of New South Wales on 25th June, 1903, be taken into consideration in conjunction with this motion. The petition to which I allude was last year circulated throughout Riverina and Northern Victoria. It is signed by 1,937 land-holders and others who are immediately interested. The petitioners pray the Commonwealth Government to take this important question in hand. At the risk of being, perhaps, somewhat wearisome, I should like to quote their petition, in order that it may be placed on record. It is as follows: -
We, your petitioners, the people of the northern district of the State of Victoria, and of the Riverina district in the State of New South Wales, humbly approach your honorable House with the object of bringing before you the great loss and distress constantly recurring owing to the inadequate rainfall in the districts above named. These districts have passed through six years of an abnormally low rainfall, with the result that crops have failed, stocks of fill kinds have perished, and people are being driven from the occupation of the land. The money value of the direct losses in the districts named during the past six years cannot be less than thirty millions of pounds sterling, while the loss of increas will probably amount to ten million pounds. Further, the InterState rivers - Murray and Darling - are only navigable for five months of the year, with the result that steam-boats and barges are laid up for the other seven months ; many hundreds of men are idle, produce cannot be removed, the loss in the expenditure connected wilh the boats thereby being from thirty to forty thousand pounds sterling per annum.
Your petitioners believe that the condition of matters named can be very greatly obviated, if not entirely removed, by the utilization of the rivers Murray, Murrumbidgee, and Darling, through a system of weirs and locks on the rivers, and by irrigation channels through the areas commanded by such rivers. On the Victorian side, extensive systems of canalization have been carried out, which are shorn of much of their usefulness fur want of the water which the River Murray can supply. That your petitioners were devoted supporters of Federation, as the Constitution of the Commonwealth gave power to deal with InterState rivers, and because there was no other authority to deal with them. That it is imperatively necessary, in the interests of the. districts where your petitioners reside, and of the Commonwealth as a whole, that the utilization of the waters of the Murray, Murrumbidgee, and Darling Rivers should be carried out as speedily as possible, and if such is done the result will be that the settlement on this vast area will be made permanent, further extensive settlement will be induced, navigation will be maintained all the year round, production will enormously increase, and the general interest of the Commonwealth expand to an extent that it is almost impossible to estimate.
Your petitioners, therefore, humbly pray that your honorable House will authorize such steps to be taken as in its wisdom shall be deemed necessary to immediately obtain all the- preliminary information, showing capacity of the land for irrigation, situations for storage, amount of water available, situations for locks, estimated cost of works, with such other information as may be required, ‘and on such being obtained will thereupon proceed to carry out the construction of the necessary works of storage, diversion, channelling, and locking for the permanent settlement and prosperity of the Northern Victoria and Riverina districts.
– What would the scheme cost the Commonwealth ?
– That depends on the extent to which the Commonwealth took it up. If the Commonwealth constructed all the locks required at once, from Blanchetown to Wentworth, it would cost £730,000. Then there would have to be an agreement between the Commonwealth and the States as to how the money should be apportioned. .
– Are the States prepared to hand their rights over to the Commonwealth ?
– I am not prepared to say.
– Is not the Premier of the honorable member’s own State opposed to that proposal?
– The States have not made any move in that direction, and I do not think that the matter has been discussed in Victoria. South Australia was in favour of the Commonwealth taking up the locking question. But, as a matter of fact, the Commonwealth scarcely came into the discussions of the Conference at all. Throughout the whole of the debates, the Commonwealth was practically ignored. The States having come to a deadlock, I maintain that it is the duty of the Federal Government, as the guardian and trustee of these great InterState streams, to bring them together, and to endeavour to have an agreement carried out. The people who have signed the petition which I have quoted know what they have suffered. They know the enormous value of what is proposed. They occupy an enormous area. What does the settlement of this great question mean ? It means, first of all, permanency for the present settlers. It means an increase of population in this country on the soundest possible lines. It means an enormous amount of employment for the people who are at present workless ; and work of this description is not work that ends with the doing of it, because its accomplishment involves multiplied work in the future. It means work not only in the construction of the locks, . and so on, but work for all time to come, and for an enormously greater number of workers. It means cheap and good food for the people, and an enormous increase of production. One great fact is this : all the States are now desirous’ of doing something in regard to necessarily limited schemes of irrigation. The settlement of this River Murray question will enable them to proceed on sound lines. They will know what quantity of water they will have to deal with, and will be able to formulate schemes for utilizing it. They will know that they will have an absolute supply of water up to the limit allowed to them under any fair agreement. The Commonwealth only, it seems to me, can deal with these conflicting rights in our great Inter-State streams j and also with the construction of great reservoirs at the heads of streams for the benefit of the States concerned. Irrigation is much more than a mere matter of land and water, weirs and ditches. It means multitudes on those at present vacant and voiceless areas. It means higher ideals of work, of living, and of social intercourse in those regions. It means that we shall have small holdings worked by independent owners, because the owners of large estates will not pay water charges. We hear talk about the imposition of a land tax from those who desire to burst up large estates, but you will burst up your large estates very much more quickly by sending water through them, and charging the owners for that water. Irrigation means diversified farming, and it means, in the districts in which it is carried out, the settlement of a self-supporting people, raising almost all they require for their own use. It means that under proper systems you will have viliage centres in which will be combined all the health and benefit of country industries, together with all the advantages of town life. It means, from the commercial point of view, an enormously increased production, which must result in a great increase of business all round. And more than all this, it means the growth of a citizenship, democratic, patriotic, and absolutely independent. I say without hesitation that there can be no permanent prosperity for this country until we use our waters to the very fullest possible extent. When I consider what we have done here, and compare it with what has been done in Western Australia by our friend Sir John Forrest, I feel ashamed. A small community in Western Australia, numbering about 250,000 people, under Sir John Forrest’s leading, have carried out a scheme costing -^-without the expense of reticulation - ^2,600,000. They have carried an enormous pipe track 352 miles, on which they have eight pumping stations, having twenty separate sets of pumps of 300-h.p. each, and capable of pumping 6,000,000 gallons per day. When we see what a small community like that can do successfully, surely the Parliament of the Commonwealth can undertake this very much greater and more necessary work
– How are we going to do it under the Kyabram scheme, opposed as it is to the borrowing of money ?
– I do not propose to go into details which can be considered afterwards. I content myself at this stage with dealing with large principles. To show the importance attached to this great question in Amenca, I may say that President Roosevelt, in his speech to Congress in December twelve months or two years ago, strongly advocated further irrigation development. The following remarks which he made apply very strongly to us : -
The pioneer settlers on the arid public domain chose their homes along streams from which they could themselves divert the water to reclaim their holdings. Such opportunities are practically gone. There remain, however, vast areas of public land which can be made available for homestead settlement, but only by reservoirs and main line canals, impracticable for private enterprise. These irrigation works should be built by the National Government. The reclamation’ and settlement of the arid lands will enrich every portion of our country, just as the settlement of the Ohlo and Mississippi Valleys brought prosperity to the Atlantic States. The increased demand for manufactured articles will stimulate industrial production, while wider home markets and the trade of Asia will consume the large: food supplies, and effectually prevent western competition with eastern agriculture. Indeed, the products of irrigation will be consumed chiefly in upbuilding local centres of mining and other industries, which would otherwise not come into existence at all. Our people as a whole will profit, for successful home-making is but another name for the upbuilding of the nation.
These words I say apply very forcibly to us to-day, and if we are going to justify our position as members of the Federal Parliament, justify our existence as a Commonwealth, or justify Federation, it seems to me ‘ that this great question should be taken up. The Australian Natives have given a great deal of consideration to this question, and I think I may very fittingly close my remarks by quoting the following verses, written last year by one of them, Mr. Wm. H. Elsum : -
O ye in the halls of power, who move the helm of the Slate, Who make the laws for the masses, in the speech and the swift debate ; Ye have a mission to follow; a chapter of gold to write
On a page that is smirched with failure, and fouled with a paltry spite. They flouted the wealth of Nature; they trifled with quarrel and strife; While a whole land sickened and withered, and men cursed God for their life. From out of their worthless wreckage, your privilege appears, On a basement of foiled desires, cemented by strong men’s tears.
Make laws for our mighty rivers, frame Acts that will turn their flow In ladders of life to the hilltops, and flood to the vales below.
Pass motion and resolution, that shall steal from the ‘greedy sea A tithe of its mighty plunder for the good of prosperity.
And the dawn shall be bright with plenty in the light of the laughing day,
And the fears of a frenzied people with the midnight shall fade away.
The corridor of the Future will ring with a joyous shout,
As to regions of Death and Darkness glides, bafiled, the Spectre Drought.
– I beg to second the motion.
Debate (on motion by Mr. G. B. Edwards) adjourned.
– I moveThat the following be a Standing Order of this House : -
Parliamentary Privileges Committee. 328A. A Parliamentary Privileges Committee, to consist of seven members, shall be appointed, at the commencement of each session, to which shall stand referred for inquiry and report any complaint made to the House by a member, on motion or otherwise, that the privileges of the House, or of any of its members, have been infringed.
I understand from the Prime Minister that it is the desire of honorable members to secure an early adjournment to-day, and that being so, I shall be glad to postpone the discussion of the motion standing in my name, and now ask leave to continue my remarks upon it at a later date.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the honorable member have leave to continue his speech at a later date?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear. .
Debate (on motion by Mr. Mahon) adjourned.
Customs Administration. Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat- Minister for External Affairs). - In view of the fact that I have just been informed that a number of honorable members, who have made arrangements to visit the sites suggested for the Federal Capital, cannot be here by Tuesday, 1 2th April, I move - .
That the House at its rising adjourn until Wednesday, 13th April.
– I am sorry that there should not be a meeting of the House to-morrow, because I have a very important motion on . the notice-paper for that day relating to the administration of the Customs Department. It would appear as though the Minister for Trade and Customs is not willing to face the music. If the motion is not considered to-morrow, there will be no chance to consider it for perhaps another month. The motion is placed on the notice-paper, as honorable members are aware, because I was not accorded the courtesy ordinarily given to members of Parliament in the .production of papers.
– I do not think it -was understood. I explained the matter afterwards.
– If the Prime Minister will assure me that the papers for which I asked will be laid upon the table of the House, or placed in the library, I shall have much pleasure in withdrawing my motion.
– I cannot speak for the Minister for Trade and Customs now. As the honorable and learned member’s motion has been placed on the paper the Minister must speak for himself.
– We have agreed to an arrangement to take private members’ business on the Thursday, and on the very first occasion the Government departs from the arrangement made.
– I gave this afternoon for the discussion of private members’ business.
– I am sorry that the rules of the House do not permit of my bringing on to-day a motion on the paper for to-morrow, because I am quite prepared to discuss it. Perhaps the Prime Minister will assure me. that I shall be given an early opportunity for its discussion.
– –I do not know what an early opportunity may mean.
– I might be given some time when ordinary Government business is on the paper.
– I cannot promise Government time for it.
– I am sorry that the discussion of the motion should have to be postponed for a month or’ so. It is most unfortunate that it should have to appear on the notice-paper at all. Seeing that the arrangement with respect to private members’ business has not been adhered to, I hope that when we do come to discuss my motion, honorable members will consider that an additional reason for supporting me in the action I take, in the interests of good government and honest administration, to procure certain documents.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Sir JOHN FORREST laid upon the table the following paper: -
Notification of the acquisition of’ land at Mosman, New South Wales, for a post and telegraph office.
House adjourned at 5.9 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 March 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040323_reps_2_18/>.