2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
RETENTION OF OFFICE BY MINISTERS.
Mr. WILLIS. - I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question, without notice. I direct his attention to a paragraph appearing in thisday’s Argus, under the heading “The Union’s Claims.” Referring to the speech of the honorable member for’ Dalley, the newspaper proceeds -
He was prepared to fight either outside or inside Parliament for the recognition of unions. His objection to the amendments was that all the- powerful unions would refuse to register under such a provision, and therefore they would not be controlled by the Court.
Mr. Wilks. - I am glad to see the. Prime Minister fighting for this principle. I believe he would rather lose the Bill and his position as Prime Minister than sacrifice it.
Mr. Watson. - Hear, hear;
Mr. Wilks. - I am glad to hear the Prime Minister say, “hear, hear.”
In view of that paragraph, I wish to ask the Prime. Minister whether it is a fact that he led the Committee to believe that he would rather lose the Bill and his position as Prime Minister than, sacrifice the provision for the recognition of preference to unions as they at present exist? I wish to’ ask, also, whether it is a fact that the honorable gentleman intends to retain the office of Prime Minister, seeing that the following amendment has been made in the Bill :-
Provided that no such organization shall be entitled to any declaration of preference by the Court when, and so long as, its rules or other binding decisions permit the application of its funds to political purposes, or require its members do anything of a political character.
Mr. WATSON.- I suggest to the honorable member for Robertson that he might get a legal definition of the position from his leader, the right honorable member for East Sydney.
Mn ROBINSON. - I desire, without notice, to ask the Prime Minister three questions relating to the Federal Capital. I wish, to ask the honorable gentleman, first, whether his attention has been directed to a’ telegram from Sydney which appeared in last- Saturday’s issue of the Age, to the following effect : -
Violent westerly gales and bitterly cold weather prevailed over a greater part of’ the State on Friday. In many places heavy rain and snow’ fell. Snow, in fact, was reported from some districts Where it had not been for years. At Tumberumba a particularly heavy storm occurred, it being the severest experienced in that town for several years. The falls of snow extended from Adaminaby in the south to Armidale in the north.
I find that, according to the telegram, snow, fell, amongst other places, at Tumut, and I wish to ask the honorable gentleman whether he has noticed that? I desire to ask, also, whether the honorable gentleman has noticed a paragraph appearing, in this morning’s issue of the Age to the effect that-
Sir William Lyne and the Prime Minister are arranging another parliamentary visit to the new Tumut site, Tooma, in the Upper Murray valley.
I wish to ‘ know also whether that statement, is correct? I desire further to ask whether it is the intention of the honorable gentleman to endeavour to consign honorable members tq these cold spots,” when so many of us are liable to -influenza.
– Any requests for information -as to whether another trip is necessary in order to enable honorable members to inspect portions of territory suggested .for the site of the Federal Capital should be addressed to the Minister of Home Affairs. I can only say with regard to other points referred to in the honorable and learned member’s questions, that I am not surprised to hear that there has been snow at Tumut. I do not know that that fact can be considered a disqualification of any place. I am not at all astonished to find that there has- been boisterous weather in New South Wales, seeing that we have also experienced it here lately.
– I should’ like the Prime Minister to give an answer to the question asked by the honorable and learned member for Wannon, as to whether .the honorable gentleman and Sir William, Lyne are organizing another trip for purposes of inspection. I should like also to ask whether the attention of the Minister of Home Affairs has been called to a telegram which appeared in the Age of the 4th inst., to this effect.: -
A Riverina paper has received a letter from Sir William Lyne, stating that there is no doubt that a majority in the Federal Parliament is against the sites near the town of Tumut. Sir William Lyne now states that he is endeavouring to get the area selected for Bombala so extended that it will take in Tumut. Members who visited the Murray with Sir William Lyne have impressed others with the suitability of that locality, and it is likely that there, will be a sufficient number to support the new idea.
The rest of: the telegram does not refer to this, matter.
– The honorable member should read the .whole of .it.
– The rest of the paragraph is very interesting..
– With reference to the extract read by the honorable and learned member, for Wannon, in so far as it refers to myself, I may say that I am riot arranging any trips. I understand that my colleague has indicated that he will facilitate, as was done by the previous Government, any inspection that honorable members may desire to- make within the territories held to be in the running when the matter was last before this House.
– The same as was done at Dalgety.
– Referring to the question asked bythe honorable member for Eden-Monaro, I suggested that the rest of the paragraph which he quoted was interesting. The honorable member might have read the whole of the paragraph. I happen to have read it. I should like to ask the Prime Minister, in view of the statement made in that paragraph that some underground engineering has been going on in favour of Bombala, and the charge made by Sir William Lyne, against some of his late colleagues-
– The honorable member can only ask a question.
– I am explaining the question; a certain charge has been made-
– I point but to the honorable member that at this stage he can do nothing but ask a question.
– I am endeavouring to give a reason for asking my question.
-The honorable member is not entitled to give reasons. He must simply ask his question.
– I shall put the question in another form. With reference to the statement appearing in the Age newspaper to the effect that Sir William Lyne has accused some of his late colleagues of underground engineering in connexion with the site for the Federal Capital, has anything with respect to that come under the notice of the honorable gentleman.
– I am not responsible for statements appearing in the newspapers, or even for statements put forward by members of this House, other than members of the Ministry. In any case, I may state that I do not believe the honorable member referred to is capable of underground engineering.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister, without notice, if he has any information respecting the very severe drop which took place in the Bombala thermometer at about 11.50 last night.
– I have no information on the subject.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
In reference to his reply to Question No. 8 of 29th June last (Hansard, page 2800), that “ the Colonial Defence Committee had not recommended the Defence Department to abolish the Volunteer Forces of the Commonwealth,” and to the following statement, signed by Colonel Altham, London War Office : - “ The Colonial Defence Committee have recommended’ the abolition of the Volunteers of the Commonwealth, and that, with the exception of a nucleus of permanent troops, the Australian Forces should be composed entirely of partially-paid troops’” (page 44, Papers of Colonial Conference, printed by order of House of Representatives, 28th May, 1903)-
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
President. - Inspector-General of Fortifications.
Members. - Director of Military Ordnance.
Assistant Under-Secretary, Colonial Office.
Assistant Under-Secretary, Treasury.
Assistant Quarter-Master General.
Director of Naval Intelligence.
Assistant Director of Artillery.
Under the recent organization of the administration of the Army, this Committee, it is Understood, is merged in the Imperial Defence Committee, of which the Imperial Prime Minister is President, the Secretary of State for War, the First Lord of the Admiralty, the heads of the Naval and Military Intelligence Departments are members; and Sir George Clarke, late Governor of Victoria, is permanent secretary. 3 and 4. No interference is permitted in the internal administration of the Forces. The recommendations of the Committee are secret and confidential, as a rule, and cannot he made public. Where, however, the remarks are of public interest, and are not considered confidential, they have already been laid before Parliament, as in the case of the memorandum by the Colonial Defence Committee on the Defence Forces and Defences of Australia, presented to Parliament On the 19th September, 1901.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The Public Service Commissioner reports -
– May I be permitted, sir, to speak upon, a question of privilege?
– The honorable member may do so if he desires.
– I wish to point out that the questions standing upon the business-paper in my name were placed there with a view to obtain the opinion of the Government, as advised by the AttorneyGeneral, upon the matters at issue, instead of getting the legal opinion of the Government upon those matters, I find that my questions have been referred to the Minister df Home Affairs, and that I have obtained only the opinion of the Public Service Commissioner. What I want ‘is the opinion of the Government as advised by the AttorneyGeneral. I cannot understand the reason why my questions have been altered and referred to the Minister of Home Affairs. I was quite aware that the matter came within the purview of the Department controlled by him, but as the question involved is a legal one it cannot be authoritatively answered by the. Public Service ‘Com,: missioner unless he has been advised by the Attorney-General.
-I scarcely think that the matter raised by the right honorable member for Swan is one of privilege. I would suggest that he should allow his questions to remain upon the businesspaper, and that he should take an opportunity to confer with the Prime Minister. He may then be able. to arrange to obtain a further answer to his questions.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Are the regulations, hours of service, remuneration, and classification applying to employes in the Post Office, Telegraph, and Telephone Departments the same in each of the State capitals?
– In this case, as in that of the previous question, it is the policy of the Government to give the opinion of the Public Service Commissioner. The Ministry have not accepted any responsibility for the reclassification scheme, and hence we can give only the opinion of that officer. He reports -
The regulations made under the Commonwealth Public ServiceAct apply to all State capitals. It is impossible, however, to obtain in an absolutely uniform time-table as regards the actual hours of service. A reasonable maximum, uniform in all States, has been laid down, and if an officer is obliged to work beyond that he receives compensation. In some places officers may not reach this maximum, but this is due to the peculiar circumstances of each city ; for instance, mails arrive and depart under dissimilar conditions - concentrated within a portion of the da)’ in one city, spread throughout the whole 24 hours in another, and in adjusting the staff to departmental exigencies in some cases the maximum may hot be reached. The officers “in each capital are divided under classes in the clerical division and grades, with distinctive designations in the general division. The rate of pay for each class in the clerical division, and grade and designation in the general division, is the same in each capital as far as Commonwealth classification is concerned. Officers under certain designations may be receiving higher pay in one State than in another, but this is because they were receiving such salaries when they came over from the States, the principle being adopted of not reducing any salary in classification. Officers so situated, with salaries disproportionate to the position they occupy, will be transferred as opportunities occur to positions commensurate with their salaries, and will be replaced by others, who will receive the Commonwealth rates of pay applicable to such positions. In other cases, officers with short service in a class or grade have gradually to work up to the maximum received by others with long years of service. Complete uniformity throughout the States will. thus eventu-‘ ally be obtained. Every endeavour is being made to give officers of corresponding merit and service, coupled with work of corresponding importance and volume, a similar classification.
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : -
Certain correspondence on the subject did take place, but the letter from the Premier of Queens land does not state precisely what facilities exist for the return of time-expired kanakas to their islands. A further communication will at once be sent requesting specific information on the point.
– I beg to move -
That in the opinion of this House, in order to promote the primary industries of Australia, a Federal Department of Agriculture ought to be established at an early date.
In introducing this motion, I might preface my remarks by expressing the hope that after the -high tension which has existed during the past few days upon matters of party politics, it may be a relief to Ministers, as well as to members generally, to have their attention directed to a matter in which the whole of Australia and its people are interested. I venture to express the belief that the desirableness of giving prominent attention to the development and organization of agriculture in Australia is a subject in which honorable members on all sides of the House may be heartily’ invited to join. I regret to say that, notwithstanding that the Commonwealth has been in existence for over three years, and although a considerable amount of time has been devoted by this House to matters of machinery and policy of more or less importance, very little attention has hitherto been given by it to the advancement of the primary- industries of Australia. I have heard it suggested that the reason for Federal inactivity in regard to this matter has been the want of Federal authority. I have heard it suggested in several quarters where I should have expected more information upon the subject, that the Federation has not been equipped with the necessary authority and power to deal with the subjectmatter of my motion. I desire, therefore, before outlining my scheme for the organization of a Federal Department of Agriculture, to draw the attention of honorable members, and more particularly of Ministers, who may be asked to advise the House upon this matter, to several sections of the Constitution, in which will be found mountains of legislative and administrative authority in relation to the subject which I am now bringing before the House. In the first place, I would direct attention to sub- section 1. of section 51, which relates to trade and commerce with other countries and among the States.
Under that provision the Federal authority has abundant power to deal with every matter of import and export associated with trade and commerce. Sub-section 111. of section 51 endows the Federal Parliament with power to make laws with respect to “bounties on the production or export of goods,” showing that this Parliament has the authority to pass not merely fiscal laws, but laws for the promotion of production, in the first instance, and of export in the second. Then sub-section ix. of the same section relates to quarantine, and shows that the Parliament may pass laws not only with reference to the bare importation- of goods, but dealing with . goods as well as passengers from a sanitary point of view, and may impound, quarantine, and isolate passengers or goods if it is necessary to do so in the interests . of public health. Sub-section xviii. of section 51 gives the Parliament the right to deal with copyrights, patents of inventions and designs, and trade marks, and under it the trade and commerce power previously referred , to is re-inforced.
– Order. Will the honorable and learned member resume his seat? I have again to call attention to the fact that there are many conversations being carried on in the chamber. I would ask honorable members either to refrain from conversing with each other, or to converse in such a tone that the honorable and learned member will not be interrupted.
– The power to deal with trade and commerce is re-inforced by sub-section xviii., so that in matters of export, as well as of import, we may pass laws providing that goods, wares, and merchandise shall be properly marked in some way or other for the guidance of importers and purchasers. Sub-section xxix., relating to external affairs, gives the Commonwealth authority not only to deal with trade and commerce and other matters within its own territorial limits, so to speak, but to provide for the representation of Australian commercial interests in all parts of the world, by means of agencies, if necessary. So much for the general legislative authority over matters relating to trade and commerce, production, and kindred subjects. We find that the financial power of the Parliament is unlimited under section 81, because wemay make appropriations for the purposes of the Commonwealth in any manner that we think fit. It is in that power of appropriation that I think we shall find embedded the greatest degree of constitutional authority to enable us to grapple and deal with this subject.
– Would not that power be limited by section 51 ?
– No; the power of appropriation is unlimited under section 81.
– I know that it has been said that it is, but I have some doubts as to whether that is so.
– I do not think it is limited. The power of appropriation is unlimited with reference to the purposes of the Commonwealth; that is to say, the Parliament may make an appropriation for any purpose that may be contemplated as necessary for the interests and advancement of the Commonwealth.
– Hear, hear; that is so.
– It has been held that under the appropriating power vested in Congress by the Constitution of the United States, Congress may grant money for any purpose that may be deemed necessary for . the peace, welfare, and good government of the Federation. The Department of Agriculture, which during the last few years has grown up in the United States, and constitutes the most prominent feature of the political and industrial organization of that country, has attained its present positio 1 and been vindicated through the appropriating power of Congress. Under that power Congress has of late years passed appropriations amounting to over $1,000,000 a year to promote the advancement and encourage the development of industries generally throughout the United States - to promote internal trade as well as trade with countries beyond the seas. In this Department we find the model upon which we ought to lay the foundations of a national Department of Agriculture in Australia. I do not say that we should start the Department on the magnificent and gigantic lines of that which exists in the United States. It may be- wise to begin within moderate and modest dimensions, sufficient, probably, to give a direction to this great movement which, sooner or later, is bound to demand and arrest the attention of public men in Australia. It has been said by competent authorities that the Department of Agriculture in the United States is the best organized and the most practically conducted institution existing in any part of the world, and that it has been a most potent factor in developing every branch of agricultural industry throughout the States. It has added immensely to the wealth and the prosperity of the country. With a capable working head, it is conducted in a number of separate bureaux or branches, and each branch is charged with the duty’ of attending to a certain specific subject relating to agriculture. To give honorable members an idea of the magnitude of the Department, I may summarize the various branches, showing its wide range and its practical nature. There is, first. of all, the Bureau of Animal Industry ; then come the divisions of chemistry, of forestry, of entomology, of botany, of soils, of seeds, of agrostology, of biological survey, of statistics, of publications, of dairying, and of experimental stations. Finally, there is the section of foreign markets. I have been informed by competent authorities - Australians who have investigated this Department on the spot, and who may be regarded as experts - that the section of foreign markets alone is a most valuable and useful adjunct to the Department. It makes investigations and disseminates information concerning the possibility or feasibility of extending the demands of foreign markets for the agricultural products of the United States. It is said that the section is carried on in the most effective manner, and is of great assistance to the trade of the United States. Mr. J. M. Sinclair, who was for some time the representative of the Victorian Department of Agriculture in London, paid several visits to America in order to study the Agricultural Department, and in a letter addressed to me upon this subject, and having reference to my motion, the following passage occurs: -
At the time of my last visit to. Washington in July, 19.01, as one of the representatives of the Victorian Department of Agriculture, I .found that representatives of the American Department who were travelling in the East, had forwarded a report to the Central Department, in which all products sent from other countries to the principal ports of China and Japan were dealt with, together with samples and prices of them. The prices of Australian flour, butter, canned meats, fruits, &c, were given, with information relating to freights, packages, distribution, extent of trade, and its possibilities; and these reports were ‘furnished as a guide to American exporters.
Mr. Sinclair goes on to say that he not only found that the Department of Agriculture for the United States had representatives in China, Japan, and the East, but also that it had representatives in Great Britain and foreign centres ; and that from these representatives reports were received by the foreign markets section, which dealt with the subjects investigated, so that exporters in the United States, upon application, could receive information which would be of value to them in connexion with their over-sea trade. I said that I did not propose that we should establish a Department of Agriculture of such magnitude or extent as the Department of the United States.
– Have the separate.States in America their Agricultural Departments ?
– They have no such Departments as exist in the Australian States. The States Departments have been largely absorbed by the Central Department, but the States have their experimental stations and their local . experimental organizations. They have nothing to do with agriculture, however, so far as it relates to Inter-State and foreign trade. I will briefly sketch the plan which I suggest for the consideration of Ministers as an outline for an Agricultural Department for Australia. Ii is not feasible to launch a Department on such a large scale as that of the United States, but we may begin in a more limited manner. The first division which I propose would be the division of animal industry, dealing with the importation and exportation of animals and animal products. The second division would be the division of the fruit and plant industry, dealing with the export of fruit and plant life and the importation of plants. Thirdly, there would be the division of original scientific research; and fourthly, the division of foreign markets and intelligence. Those are the four branches of this subject to which I invite the attention of honorable members. It will be seen that these four subjects are clearly and undeniably within our authority. I desire, in making these suggestions, to offer one preliminary observation; and it is this. I do not in any way propose to interfere with legitimate State activities. I do not wish to impair the usefulness of Departments of Agriculture as constituted in the States dealing purely with State agriculture. I do not wish to make any suggestion that would alarm the States, or induce them to entertain the idea that we were encroaching upon matters which are purely local or purely Inter-State. But I desire that the dormant Federal power shall be brought into action, and that that power should be so utilized as to constitute a Federal organization of agriculture, forming, as it were, the crown and apex of the agricultural organization of Australia. We may have a graduated system of agricultural organization beginning with, say, the local village society. Next we shall have the town agricultural society; the next higher grade would be the district agricultural society ; still higher would be the State agricultural society; then would come the State Agricultural Department. But presiding over all these various organizations, cooperating with and assisting them, but not supplanting or in any way interfering with them, I would have a national Department of Agriculture, in constant communication with these various State organizations, agencies, and instrumentalities, advising them, and whenever occasion arose, being available for the purpose of carrying out suggestions or’ hints received from them, having in view the promotion of the interests of agriculture generally. I only wish this Department to preside over InterState trade so far as it relates to agriculture, and oversea trade and commerce so far as relates to the development of agriculture. I think that within those limits, and within the limits of the Constitution, a large amount of useful work may be done without in any way interfering with any of the State instrumentalities. The national Department would constitute, as it were, a new agency, and a new power that would add largely to the promotion and development of our agricultural industries. In the export trade alone I consider that a vast amount of good may be done in the supervision of the export of our primary products; and in undertaking that work we should not in any way be interfering with any State activity or authority.
– -Some of the States do that now.
– They do it in a sort of way. But I venture to observe, without saying anything that would affect State sensitiveness, that I think the work in many instances is not being done in a manner that is entirely satisfactory-
– It is absolutely rotten.
– It may no doubt be capable of improvement.
– In the case of some of the States, that is true.
– From information I have received in correspondence, as well as from information recently published in the press, and from the revelations now being made in Victoria, it appears to be high time for the
Federal authorities to interfere and undertake the supervision and control of our export trade. It is all very well for the States Governments and authorities to say that this is a matter of interest to the States only. That, I deny; the export trade is a matter in which the whole of Australia is interested. No State has a right to monopolize control of the export trade or to carry on that trade in a manner which will probably lead to an ill-reputation being attached to pur exports.
– No State has yet attempted to exercise such a power.
– That is because the States have not the power to make uniform laws and regulations, or to provide for uniform administration. I have it on distinct authority that not only from Victoria, but from other Australian States, a great deal of butter has of late years been shipped to the United Kingdom under the sanction and patronage of States certificates and stamps, and that that butter, on arrival in the old country, has been found” to be of inferior quality.
– Does the honorable and learned member think that a Federal brand will be any better than the States brands?
– That exportation of inferior butter has had the effect of bringing Australian butter into ill-repute in the European markets.’ What is the cause? The cause is the lack of proper and uniform supervision and inspection on the part of the States authorities.
– That is not the cause; the cause is the objection that was raised by the alleged representatives of the dairymen, who opposed legislation designed to deal properly with the question.
-It is to be hoped that their eyes have been opened to their want of foresight and want of consideration and regard for their own interests. It is of no use to say that regulations for the inspection and certification for the purpose of export are irksome. It has been found in the United States that the regulations for the export of produce are worth all the trouble and expense they may involve. Those regulations have provided a guarantee of the good quality of exports from the United States. I have it on the authority of experts who have seen the products of the United States in the markets of London that wherever the stamp of the United States Department of Agriculture is seen, whether on meat or other produce, it is accepted as a guarantee of quality. But I regret to say that has not been so in the case of exports from Victoria and other Australian States. A large quantity of exports from the Australian States which bear the words “ approved for export,” have, on arrival in the London market, been found to be inferior, and, in some, cases, unfit for human consumption. I shall give a few examples. A short time ago, an effort was made to promote the export of fruit pulp from Victoria, and, to that end, the Government of the State offered a bonus.
– That is what killed the export trade.
– I shall not say anything about bonuses at the present stage ; I am not advocating bonuses in connexion with this question, but merely desire to regard the matter as purely one of govern- mental regulation. A large quantity of fiuit pulp was exported from Victoria under the sanction of the Government Inspectors, but before it arrived in London it was found to be in a state of putrefaction - absolutely unfit for human consumption. A quantity of raspberry pulp, amounting to 40 tons, was, on arrival in London, found to be in a state of fermentation ; in fact, the fermentation had the effect of bursting the tins within which the pulp had been packed, and the stuff had to be taken out to sea and destroyed. What was the cause of that?
– The bonus.
– I hope the member for Franklin will not keep harping on bonuses ; they have nothing to do with this question. This fruit pulp had evidently been packed and canned in a sort of way, but evidently by persons entirely ignorant of their business. Yet it was sent away, bearing the Government stamp, to meet with its inevitable fate of decay and destruction. Some time ago it was found that on one of the great steamers engaged in our export trade, a quantity of tinned rabbits bad gone bad on the voyage, indeed, they had gone so bad that the passengers made the discovery. A search had to be made, and the putrid rabbits had to be hauled from the hold and thrown overboard. I am informed that that was a disaster which might have been prevented if the packing had been carried on under proper inspection and supervision. Then as to meat, I am informed that many cases of carcases of Victorian and New South Wales beef and mutton, exported under State sanction, and bearing the Government stamp, have, on arrival in London, been seized by the sanitary inspectors and condemned.
– The meat may have been good when it was shipped.
– It may have been good when it was shipped, but evidently it was not properly preserved.
– The machinery may have gone wrong.
– But steps ought to have been taken to prevent that meat being placed on the London market.
– That is true.
– The result was. as I have been informed by an official who was in London at the time, that the news, of this importation of bad, beef and mutton spread throughout London and the provinces; and when my informant went into the country in search of orders for Vic torian meat, he was told by butchers that a large quantity which had arrived from that State was not fit to be placed in the first-class shops. As to frozen rabbits, I have been informed of large losses which have occurred through want of proper supervision. Improperly preserved rabbits have been sent from Australia, and have been carried under improper conditions, with the result that” they arrived in London in a rotten condition to the great -injury and deterioration of Australian trade. I shall now give a few illustrations in reference to the fruit-growing industry. When I first brought this subject before the House I received a letter from Mr. James Brewer, of Burwood-, who is a prominent member of the Fruit-growers’ Association of Victoria. He informed me that he was particularly interested in the matter, because, owing to the carelessness of the company, he lost over£300 by a shipment of fruit sent from Victoria by the Orizaba. He enclosed me an extract from a paper which he had read before the Farmers’ Agricultural Convention, at Colac. In that paper he referred to. some of the difficulties which had been encountered by Australian fruitgrowers in exporting their fruit, and pointed out the manner in which Govern ment supervision and assistance would benefit them. The following passage is so interesting that I think I am justified in read ing it to the House: -
In our oversea trade the positionbecomes intensified, for we are completely at the mercy of the carrying companies, who take no risk, and often not ordinary care, white we, on our part, have to pay an exorbitant rate of freight, and pay it before any of our produce is shipped. We have also to make our freight engagements some three months before our season begins, and deposit half Hie freight. If, from any cause, we do not fill the space we have engaged, we have to pay dead freight; but if the ship. happens to be full- before our freight is put in, it is left behind, and we have no redress. In. the face of this one-sided agreement, wc might reasonably expect that our fruit would receive fair treatment after it was slowed in the ships’ chambers, and yet the way in which the mail companies have landed some of their cargoes this season is simply disgraceful, and reveals gross carelessness on the part either of the companies or their officers.
He went on to point out the losses Which have occurred in connexion with the export of fruit. It may be asked : What have the Federal Government to do with .’this matter? My reply is that they have a right to look after the export trade in every reasonable and legitimate way in order to encourage the development of Australian industry. The Federal authority has the right to do here what the Department of Agriculture is doing in the United States. That Department looks after the steamers which offer themselves for the carriage of produce. It supervises the steamers engaged in the export trade of the United States, and will not allow every steamer to participate in that trade. Steamers engaging in the trade must comply with certain conditions and requirements. The Department say, “ You are carrying our produce, and if it is not properly carried, because of the defects in your accommodation, so that it arrives in the European market in an inferior condition, we suffer. Therefore, we have a right to supervise your arrangements, and to dictate the terms under which our fruit, our meat, and our other produce shall be carried.” The matter is one which should not be left to private enterprise. What can the farmers or fruit-growers in the country districts do to bring influence, to bear upon the great carrying companies which supply accommodation for the export of their produce? Individually, they cannot take effective action. They must, therefore, rely upon their organizations. They may bring pressure to bear upon the local agricultural societies, and these in their turn may bring pressure to bear upon the State Department, which may make representations to the Federal authority. The State Department, however, cannot take the comprehensive grasp of the situation which the Federal authority is in the position to take. The Federal authority can enter into a collective bargain on behalf of the fruitgrowers and other producers with the great carrying companies, like the P. and
– There is first the opportunity,, and next, the opportunity with a swift and regular service.
– The regularity and swiftness of the service are of the utmost importance. It will be a distinct advantage to connect the export of perishable produce with the mail service. Sir Edmund Barton gave a most favorable and emphatic reply to the deputation to which I have referred, and, after a consultation with the Postmaster-General of the day, he decided to ask tenderers for the mail contract to give particulars as to the accommodation which they could supply for the carriage of perishable produce, and the cost of such accommodation.
– He made it compulsory. He joined the two conditions together.
– That may be, but I do not think that the effect was to prejudice the tendering. It was reported in1 the Sydney Daily Telegraph that Mr. Anderson, who represents the Orient Company in Sydney, stated that the condition requiring Brisbane to be made a port of call, and the arrangements for the carriage of perishable produce, did not increase the price of the tenders, nor add to the difficulties of the tenderers.
– He said white labour did not.
– Nor perishable products.
– He also referred to perishable products, but whether it does or not is not material to this question. This Parliament has a right to insist that any conditions it pleases shall be attached to a mail contract. We have a right to say that a certain industry is of sufficient importance to warrant us in providing facilities for its external development. We can never hope to add to our external development unless we make provision for the expansion of our export trade. We can never have expansion of our export trade unless we provide proper facilities in the shape of over-sea carriage. I ‘contend that it is a legitimate function of Government, and of the .Federal Government in particular, to take this question in hand. We should not leave it to the States Governments, because the Federal Government can make the better bargain.
– The States Governments can co-operate.
– Of course they can co-operate, and they can be consulted. I know, as a matter of fact, that there is no antagonism on the part of the States Departments to this proposal. Thev have practically agreed to ask the Federal Government to undertake this business. I have in my hand absolute proof and demonstration of that. I have here a memorandum of a Conference of States Ministers of Agriculture, held on 28th July, 1903, comprising the Honorable J. W. Taverner, Minister of Lands and Agriculture, Victoria, and the Honorable John Kidd, Minister of Mines and Agriculture, New South Wales. A telegram was received from Mr. Butler, Minister of Agriculture of South Australia, expressing regret at not being able to be present, and stating that he was in full sympathy with the objects of the Conference. The object of the Conference was to consider the terms, conditions, and . accommodation in- connexion with the export trade; and first, in reference to butter, this resolution was carried -
That it is desirable, in the interest of the dairying industry of Australia, that butter, for export should be carried by shipping companies on their vessels at a temperature not exceeding 20 degrees Fahr.
With reference to that resolution, there is abundant authority to be found -in the official papers, as well as in the newspapers from time to time, that a great deal of the joss of butter that has arisen in transport has been due to the variation of temperature in the cool chambers of the vessels. What is wanted is uniformity and regularity of temperature, and we have crystallized, so to speak, the result of years of experience, in this resolution, placed on record by the States Ministers of Agriculture. The second resolution carried was -
It is desirable that self-registering thermometers be placed in the cold storage chambers on board such vessels.
These self-registering thermometers, are insisted upon as necessary to prevent neglect in securing regularity of temperature on board the steamers during the voyage. It is but fit and prop.er that the Government should have the necessary evidence to prove neglect of this kind. The next resolution was -
That butter for export should be delivered to the shipping companies at a temperature not ex.ceeding 32 degrees Fahr.
Those are three resolutions with reference to butter, and the memorandum to which
I refer gives also a series of resolutions dealing with the carriage of fruit. The first is -
I now come to the material part of (hese resolutions, to which I desire to invite the special attention of honorable members as showing that the States Departments invite Federal co-operation.
That resolutions Nos. 1 (a) and 1 (b), and 2 (a) and 2 (b) - those are the resolutions relating to the export of butter and fruit - be presented to the Federal Government through the Premiers of the States of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania.
Those resolutions have been presented to the Federal Government. They were in the possession of Sir Edmund Barton when he received the deputation of fruit-growers, and he was in a position to say that in any action he ‘ was invited to take he would not be running counter to any State authority, and that he would not be taking the wind out of their sails by taking the initiative in a matter in which the whole of Australia w.as interested, and in which he had the hearty good-will and co-operation of the States Governments. I therefore specially urge upon the present Government that in dealing with this question of the mail contract, which is a matter likely to demand executive decision sooner . than will the establishment of a Department of Agriculture, they should take’ some action of a definite character in accordance with the resolutions of the Conference to which I have referred. I hope that they will negotiate with the large shipping companies now that they have the opportunity,in a business-like manner, and will insist upon those companies making provision for the carriage of perishable products at reasonable rates. Above all, I desire that something should be done to hold these companies liable, to those who pay them for the transport of ‘ their perishable products, for any loss arising from provable negligence on their part.
Under existing arrangements, as pointed out by Mr. Brewer in his letter to me, whilst the shipping companies will take these perishable products, and will accept substantial remuneration for their carriage, they will not allow any representative of the exporters to accompany the consignments, to supervise, the cold storage chambers and advise, if necessary, as to the manner in which they should be regulated. They take the whole matter into their own hands,, and I am told they will not- allow any one to go below even to peep at the cold storage chambers. It is a matter of great difficulty even for a Minister of the Crown to gain access to them. Notwithstanding this exclusiveness and this dictatorial attitude which they assume, they claim absolute immunity from any liability, though the whole cargo may be destroyed through the provable negligence of their officers. They will not even refund the freight. These matters are differently conducted in New Zealand. I find that in that Colony decisive action has been taken in the interests of the producers. Mr. Seddon knows how to work these things. He is not the man to allow the companies to dictate terms to the producers of New Zealand. In a valuable paper which he read at Kyneton recently, Mr. Crowe, making reference to New Zealand, writes as follows: -
The butter was carried at 25 degrees for¾d. per lb., and the shipping companies collected the cargo at the several shipping ports. He believed’ the next contract would be at½d. per lb. Moreover, they have a system of making the shipping companies liable for damage sustained to produce in transit.
That is a most important matter.
– Does he state that that is done under a statute law?
– No ; under a contract. In New Zealand, apparently, they say to the shipping companies, “We ask you to enter into this contract; we guarantee regularlv a certain volume of trade. We make arrangements to give you a certain amount of wo’rk if you will do it on our terms. We will pay you so much, but we shall not allow you to run things according to your own sweet will. You must conduct the business under the conditions we impose, and if any produce is lost, you will have to pay for it.” That is only equitable. It is a subject of grievous complaint on the part of the fruit growers of Australia that, notwithstanding the high prices they are charged by shipping companies, they are treated with the utmost contempt when they ask for compensation for ruined or damaged fruit.
– No care, and no responsibility.
– That is so. I have said sufficient on the subject of the export of fruit and live stock. I should now like to say a few words with reference to another arena, in which there might be judicious, and I think useful Federal activity. I refer to the imports of live stock into Australia, and the encouragement of the development of the live stock industry in Australia. There can be no doubt that the Federal authority has full and, if necessary, exclusive power to deal with the importation of live stock. This is a most important power. It is impossible to overstate its importance.
– The Quarantine Conference now sitting is examining that ques- tion.
– I am very glad to hear it. I think the time has come when the Federal Government must take over the question of quai an tine, not only with reference to human beings, but with reference also to other animal life.
– That question is now being considered.
– That would necessarily form a part of the duties of the Federal Department of Agriculture, under the heading of animal industry. As the question is now being considered, I shall not dwell upon it at length ; but I do say, that unless there be some uniformity in the laws, regulations, and administration affecting the importation of animal as well as plant life into Australia, the time may come when a di-‘ versity of laws may lead to the importation of the most dangerous plagues, scourges, and diseases, working infinite ruin and calamity to the flocks and herds of Australia. It does seem absurd that when we are federated, and have a uniform Tariff, we should not have a uniform law of quarantine, affecting dumb animals, as well as human beings. I am told by a medical authority that the same principles of quarantine apply to both classes- of animal life. It is of the utmost importance that this question should be taken in hand, and .that there should not, in Australia,, be halfadozen different laws dealing with the subject. One of the most prominent defects and imperfections of existing arrangements for the supervision of the importation of live stock, is that we have no staff of scientific men to deal with the question. I am informed that the States have for the most part laymen in charge of this department.
– They have good men, as good as can be found.
– I desire to say nothing against them as laymen and practical men, but the. contention is that there should be some scientific men in charge of this Department. As illustrating the necessity which exists for some scientific provision being made in this direction, I would point to the recent outbreak of swine fever . in Australia. Perhaps honorable members would like to be reminded of some of the circumstances connected with that outbreak.
– There, the mistake which the Government made was in placing it under the control of scientists.
– I do not know that scientists have had control of it up to the present time.
– In Victoria, the outbreak was placed under the control of the best veterinary surgeon in Australia.
– I should like to ask the honorable member whether it was placed under the control of the best veterinary surgeon in New South Wales?
– The Victorian outbreak was under the supervision of the best veterinary surgeon in Australia.
– I have been informed that swine fever existed in New South Wales for a long time before it was discovered. What is the explanation of that? I do not say that the knowledge was deliberately suppressed, but the fact remains that it was not made known. This fever continued to develop unchecked over a long period, and was actually diagnosed in Victoria and Queensland, and traced io New South Wales sources before any information was received from that State as to its existence there. It had then begun to spread all over Australia.
– ^1 do not think that its existence was known to the New South Wales authorities.
– Then they must have been very ignorant, and incapable of dealing with the disease. When it was diagnosed in Victoria it was soon placed under scientific control and proper veterinary inspection.
– In New South Wales it did not extend beyond the county of Cumberland.
– It is a pity that it ever originated there, and that when it did it was not immediately localized. I have it on scientific authority that if the infected area had been quarantined, and the disease had been vigorously attacked, it need never have extended beyond that area. But, instead of localizing it and then grappling with it, the authorities jumped to the conclusion that the only remedy for the outbreak was to be found in the stoppage of Inter-State trade. Accordingly an embargo was placed upon the frontier, under which no stock were allowed to enter Victoria, New South Wales, or South Australia, even after the disease had spread all over the States. All authorities are agreed that after it has become well rooted in a country it is absurd to impose harassing conditions upon trade. The only way in which the disease can be suppressed is by localizing it, and then attacking it. These are matters which should- be dealt with by a central authority, which has the necessary time and opportunity to study them, and to advise the States Departments - not necessarily by taking the matters out of their hands, but by co-operating with them, and by securing the best information. If these precautions were adopted by a central authority, I believe that the live stock industry of Australia could be protected from infection by foreign diseases, and that, in course of time, some of the local diseases might be rooted out, or at least kept under control. I need scarcely point out the magnificent results which have .been achieved in the United States by the Federal Department of Agriculture in controlling diseases amongst live stock. The subject, however, is too big to enter upon in detail at this stage. Speaking generally, I may say that, as the result of scientific treatment on the part of that Department a few years ago on an outbreak of pleuropneumonia occurring, the disease was absolutely eradicated in the United States. ‘ It is true that the cost involved was ,£370,000, but the action taken by the Department was so effective that it resulted in the saving of millions of pounds’ worth of live stock, and consequently the money was well spent. In i860 a similar outbreak occurred in Victoria. It raged with great severity for twelve years, during which period the value of the live stock which succumbed to it represented nearly ten millions sterling.
– It is not stamped out yet.
– No, it still exists.
– It always will exist.
– Not necessarily. Surely the limits of science are not so narrow as that. If the disease has been stamped out in the United States, why can it not be stamped out here?
– Practically it has been.
– Has it been stamped out in New South Wales?
– Practically it has.
– I am informed that it has not. I- say that the organization and appliances necessary to attack this disease should always be in existence. In Queensland in the early nineties the losses in live stock aggregated an almost fabulous sum - nearly ^600,000 annually for a number of years. These diseases should be controlled by a centralauthority. They ought not to be dealt with by the States, under different systems, different regulations, and different sets of officers. We ought to establish a central Department, manned by the best official’s whose services money can procure, for the protection of our live stock. Probably the operations of some of these officials would come within the scope of the division which I outlined as the division of original scientific research. As an essential part of a National Department of Agriculture, I think that we .should have a central scientific stronghold, so to speak, where the most able scientific men available should always be at work studying Australian problems relating to live stock and perishable products. There is a vast amount of labour to be done in connexion with the preservation of perishable products. In itself it is a very big subject, the full discussion of which would occupy hours. I merely throw out the suggestion and invite the representatives of farming constituencies to deal with it during the course of this ‘debate. In this connexion I have received a most valuable memorandum from Mr. S. W. Wallace, the Director of Agriculture in Victoria, who, in conjunction with Mr. R. Crowe, manager of the Government Cool Stores, and Dr. A. A. Brown, Inspector of Food for Export, and Dr. S. S. Cameron, M.R.C.V.S., has contributed a mass of useful information upon this subject. From what they tell me, I believe that science is upon the eve of the discovery of methods which will enable us to pack’ and store our- perishable products in a safe and efficient manner, to transport them over long distances, and to land them at their, destination in a condition that will not impair either their value or utility as articles of human consumption. That is a great and most important question. It is true that cool storage has made vast strides during recent years, and that it has enabled Australia to obtain a large slice of the meat market of the old world. But much work yet remains to be done. There are still fields for investigation and discovery. Cool storage does not supply the only means of preserving perishable products. Certain results which have been achieved by Dr. Brown seem to justify the belief that there are certain chemical methods by which fruit can be preserved for long periods, such for example as by being exposed to certain chemical fumes, such as hydrocyanic acid gas, and then being packed in hermetically sealed chambers ; this method prevents decomposition. I merely mention this in order to outline the possibilities of the work which may be accomplished by a division of scientific research and investigation. Some time ago I suggested, in this House, that a reward of,, say, .£5,000 should be offered by Australia to the whole world for the discovery of “ some new method of preserving our perishable products. If such a reward were offered by a National Department of Agriculture, it would provide an, incentive to all the scientists of the globe to attack this vast and important problem, just as .they did the question of horse diseases in South Africa, until a great German scientist discovered a method for ameliorating their terrible effects. If Australia desires to obtain the best scientific expedients, why should it not offer some inducement to the scientists of the world? There are undiscovered fields of science. Indeed, we live in an age of science. We cannot carry on trade and commerce without its aid. I say, therefore, that scientists should be invited to discover some method that is even superior to the cool storage system. Chemistry is a potent agent in this connexion; light is another. Indeed it may be that in some of the new forms of light” which have recently been discovered the great .secret of the preservation of perishable products will yet be found. Then let lis hold out every inducement to the scientists of the world fo dis cover something that will add millions of money to our Australian trade from year to year, that will increase our production, and impel the men upon the soil to develop its resources. Let honorable members reflect upon the labour which such a discovery would unlock to the working classes of Australia. The more the resources of the soil are developed, the more is the field of production expanded, and the better is it for the workers of the Commonwealth. The more wealth we gain from the soil the more wages will there be for distribution among the working classes. Consequently I invite this Labour Ministry to take the question in hand. Amid the storm and stress occasioned by discussion upon Arbitration Bills, I ask them to bestow some attention upon the development of Australia, with a view to provide employment for the working classes, seeing that we must recognise that labour will be enhanced by the opening up of any new field of industry. In that direction, therefore, the Min,istry can accomplish some good. I. have reason to believe that this subject is regarded sympathetically by the present Government, and I can assure them that if they grapple with it in a statesmanlike, practical manner, they will receive my support, as I feel sure they will that of every other member of this House.-
– I regret that I overlooked the fact that this motion was set down upon the business paper for to-day, because otherwise I should have been able to supply some information upon the subject, which might have proved useful to honorable members, seeing that it is one to which I have given a good deal of attention for many years. However, I am glad to say that the honorable and learned member for Bendigo has dealt with the various branches of the department which he proposes to- create, in such a practical and complete manner, that it will not be necessary for me to do more than offer a few general remarks. I believe that there is more scope in this direction for the Commonwealth Parliament to improve the conditions of the people of Australia than there is in any other. I know that there are many honorable members who regard any legal interference with questions affecting production and distribution as grandmotherly legislation. They consider that such matters might very well be left to private enterprise. As the result of the attention I have given to the operations in this direction of other countries, I venture to assert that the Central .Government could do much that it would be impossible for- private individuals to accomplish for themselves. The results achieved by countries in which private enterprise in relation to these matters has been allowed to work out its own salvation, in no way compare with those secured by countries in which Government attention has been given to them. Let us take, for example, the position of Great Britain and the United States. I am aware, of course, that this is not, in all respects, a parallel case, because the United States has an enormous territory to work upon. I would ‘ point out, however, that the area under cultivation in Great Britain, where production and distribution has been practically left entirely to private enterprise, dwindled away from 22,000,000 acres to 20,000,000 acres during a period extending over forty years. The value of land decreased in astill greater proportion. Notwithstanding that Great Britain had over 40,000,000 of people to feed, land went out of cultivation, and was turned into deer parks, whilst the people were importing their food from other portions of the globe. During the same period in the United States, where the magnificent Department of Agriculture, to which reference has been made by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, was in existence - a Department that has done splendid work in collecting and disseminating useful knowledge in regard to every branch of production and distribution - the area under cultivation increased, from 50,000,000 acres to 200,000,000 acres.
– The area under cultivation in Russia is increasing quite as fast.
– Not in anything like the same proportion. My honorable friend will find on looking at the statistics that my statement is correct. I have inquired somewhat carefully into the history of production in every country, and my investigations have led me to the conclusion I have stated. We have a vast continent but partially developed, an enormous territory teeming with undeveloped resources, and I would remind honorable members that land is the great storeroom of nature where every element of primary wealth is deposited. In extracting that wealth it is possible to gradually exhaust the soil by imperfect methods of cultivation ; but, on the other hand, by resorting to scientific methods of agriculture, it is possible to extract almost unlimited wealth from the soil without in any degree impoverishing it or reducing its great store of wealth.
– We do not wish to send our soil out of the country.
– No. Minerals are, of course, permanently removed; but almost every element of wealth taken from the soil need not, under scientific methods of cultivation, exhaust or impoverish it. We are familiar with the great resources that are at the command of a Government, as compared with those available to private individuals, wishing to ascertain the latest and most improved methods of cultivation, packing, preserving, and distribution. It is’ impossible that any private individual, however enterprising he may be, should do for himself that which a Central Government might do in this direction. In the collection and distribution of useful information a Government has the resources of the whole world to draw upon, and information obtained by it is, unlike that secured by private individuals, distributed amongst’ the people. We are familiar with the difficulties with which a. private person is confronted when endeavouring to obtain information from other countries, as compared with the facilities which a Government enjoy. The work which a great Government Department could do in -this direction would be of the greatest value in promoting this most useful industry. - It is unnecessary for me to take up much time in discussing this question, but I might remind honorable members of the vast importance of the agricultural industry. I examined the statistics of the whole world a few years ago, and found there was no other industry comparing in magnitude and importance with that of agriculture. I was unable to obtain the statistics relating to China, India, Japan, and other eastern nations, but, leaving them out of consideration, I ascertained that the number of peasants actively engaged in agriculture in other countries, whose statistics’ were available, was 80,000,000, and that the product of their labour represented ,£4,000,000,000 per annum. The statistics covering a number of years showed that the number of persons engaged in, and the amount of wealth produced from, agricultural pursuits, was largely increasing from year to year. When we add to these enormous figures the almost countless millions engaged in agriculture in India, China, Japan, and other eastern countries, where families live on little plots no larger than an Australian cabbage garden, we gain some conception of the enormous extent of this great industry. There is no way in which we could do more to increase the wealth of Australia, and to provide profitable employment for its people, than by assisting, by means of a Department of the character proposed, to promote agriculture, and open up foreign markets for the sale of our surplus products. I would join with the honorable and learned member for Bendigo in pressing upon the Government the necessity of giving attention to this matter. I admit that industrial legislation can. do a great deal in regulating the distribution of wealth ; but it can do little or nothing in the direction of increasing the volume of wealth - increasing the output of produce. A little attention to this subject, and a very moderate expenditure, would enable us to largely increase, the volume of production and the material wealth of the Commonwealth. ‘It is by this means that we may find funds to provide profitable employment for the people. We have in. Australia a variety of soils and climates suited to almost every conceivable product. If the primary industries that are suited to our soil and climate received reasonable encouragement - if the people were advised of the kinds of production in which they might most profitably engage, room would be found for tens of millions where now something less than 4,000,000 reside. There is room for a vast amount of labour in this direction. I sincerely hope that the House will assist the honorable and learned member who has introduced this question, and who deserves our best thanks. I am very glad to know, judging by interjections from the Treasury benches, that the Government are in full and entire sympathy with this movement, arid trust that they will show their sympathy in a practical way. If they do so they will find that the good sense of .the community is behind them, and that there is more room for good work in this direction than in almost any other to which we could give our attention. I have very much pleasure in seconding the motion.
– I should like to join with the honorable member for ‘Gippsland in congratulating the honorable and learned member for Bendigo on the very able way in which this motion has been introduced, and to assure him and the House that, although I do not wholly agree with some of his remarks, or with the extent of his proposal, it is not because I have not the fullest and most complete sympathy with the object of the motion. In my opinion, however, it would be a mistake at the present time to establish a Commonwealth Department of Agriculture. We are now in the very early days of the Federation, and there can be no doubt that the complaints heard in some of the States that our expenditure is too large, and that we are going a little too fast, are not without considerable weight. I do not think it possible that any central Department, which we might at present create, would , supersede the States Departments, nor do I think that it is intended that it should.
– They should work together.
– Then the creation of the Department would simply mean a dual authority, a dual expenditure, and, in my humble opinion, the results would not be satisfactory.
– The desire is to obtain uniform action in relation to many matters on which diverse action is at present taken.
– We invariably accept the honorable member for Gippsland as an authority on matters relating to’ agriculture, and pay very great deference to his opinions. The honorable member has urged the House to compare what has been done in this direction under the fostering care of the State with that which has been accomplished in countries where- no State assistance has been granted. Now, let us come closer home. What has Government control done for the butter export trade of Victoria? Let honorable members read the evidence published in the newspapers of the day, and see if the butter export trade of this State is in the same healthy condition as the fruit export trade of Tasmania, which has never received one shilling’s worth of encouragement, no parliamentary assistance, and no Government aid whatever.
– The things that have happened in connexion with the butter trade have been caused by the fact that there has not been more control.
– We should not have a butter export trade in Victoria except for the State encouragement.
– I think that it is the intense desire of the Government to assist industries which has led them into the fatal mistake of granting bonuses, with the result that producers have been more anxious to gain the bonus than to ship a good article. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo has spoken of the export of pulp. That trade, in spite of the bonus system, has failed completely in Victoria. But the export of pulp from Tasmania without any bonus is a complete success. It is not necessary for us to go to the United States for facts. Let us look at the condition of things at home. What has been the development of the fruit trade of Tasmania within the last few years? The first time I sat in the Tasmanian Parliament House as a spectator, the then Premier, Mr. Giblin, was speaking to a resolution moved by himself, to grant a. subsidy of £10,000 a year to ‘a steam-ship company as an inducement to call once a month at the port of Hobart.
– Surely the honorable member does not think that Tasmania has made any extraordinary progress in that re:spect?
– I do think that it has made progress.
– It is called “ Sleepy Hollow “ all over the Commonwealth.
– I know that; but let us see if the term is just. I will tell honorable members what has been the development of our fruit export trade. The Government of which I speak failed to carry its proposal’, whereupon the people set to work to charter vessels for themselves. Last year, as the result of private enterprise, twenty-seven of the largest steamers trading with Australia called in at the port of Hobart- “ Sleepy Hollow”- to take away the produce of the men who had relied on their own enterprise, while the exalted Victorians were swindling the producers under the bonus system of part of the profits on their butter. These, are facts. We are shipping about 1,500,000 bushels of apples from Tasmania per annum - not a bad record for “ Sleepy Hollow.” The honorable and learned member for Bendigo has spoken about the necessity for a Federal Department of Agriculture, so that we mav send agents to Hong Kong, to Manilla, and to Europe. Private enterprise in little Tasmania has established such agencies already.
– We have had no butter bonuses in Victoria during recent years.
– I say that private enterprise in little Tasmania, in the interest of its fruit export trade, has its own agents at Manilla, at Hong Kong, at Vancouver.
The producers and shippers pay the expenses of these representatives out of their own pockets. Tasmania is developing an European trade in the same manner. The one thing that these people dread is Federal interference. There is one proposal in the way of Federal interference at the present moment in connexion with the Navigation Bill, and I warn honorable members that if we pass that measure we shall strike a very heavy blow indeed at the fruit industry of Tasmania. But I do not want to deal with that subject now, because we shall have another opportunity of discussing it. What I want to impress upon the House is that private enterprise can do and is doing a very great deal of what the honorable and learned member for Bendigo said is wanting; and I am quite confident that if the producers of Victoria were to send home their own agent to London, it would be the best step they ever took. It would pay them far better than depending on any Government officer, or receiving any Government assistance in developing markets.
– Has not the honorable member shown that dependence on private agents is rather disastrous?-
– No; I have shown that in Tasmania within the last few years we have built up an export trade of 1,500,000 bushels of apples per annum, wholly and solely from the enterprise of the producers themselves, without getting a penny from the Government. Within the next five years, if the producers are let alone, and have no Government interference, that quantity of exports will be doubled.
– The honorable member thinks that the people are all dishonest in Victoria and all honest in Tasmania.
– No, I do not ; but I say that the moment we have Government interference - the moment we have the people depending on the Government to do for them that which they can do better themselves - we have men exporting inferior articles, simply to earn the bonus. The producer who has to depend absolutely on the merit of his own goods will take care that he exports only a good article.
– I suppose the honorable member is aware that the abuses to which he has referred were the result of reliance on private agents?
– Distinctly private enterprise.
– Yes ; the Government had nothing to do with those cases.
– We want a little more Socialism.
– I think that the honorable . member for Kennedy is perfectly logical and consistent from his point of view, and I, on the other hand, maintain that I am consistent in claiming credit for what private enterprise has done in Tasmania. I am the- representative of a district which is wholly and solely agricultural, and which depends almost wholly on its oversea trade. When a man starts growing fruit the very choice of his trees depends, not upon what is wanted in Tasmania or in Australia, but upon what is wanted in England. From the commencement the fruit is grown for the export trade. The exporters are asking for no Government assistance whatever. They do not want it. The proposal of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo to dovetail the mail service with assistance to the fruit export trade, so far as Tasmania is concerned, would be practically worthless, because the mail boats do not carry a tithe of the fruit which we export. The people interested in the trade have had to charter their own lines of boats. Of course, if we choose to handicap our postal service with a secondary service which does not really belong to it, we can make certain terms with the mail companies. I candidly admit that that can be done. We can say to the mail companies, “ If we give you a contract to carry our mails we stipulate that you shall provide certain cool-storage space, and carry home produce at a certain figure.’,’ But, Mr. Speaker, what about those States which do not derive the same benefits from the mail boats as others do, and what about those States whose producers have to export in vessels which these terms will not affect? Are we going to say to them, “You may continue to make your own arrangements, but you must also pay a portion of the money to the mail companies in the interests of the States which are differently situated “ ? A great deal of what the honorable and learned member for Bendigo said about the treatment that is meted out by- the steam-ship companies is absolutely correct. Unfortunately there is not that care which ought to be bestowed by the companies in reference to the cargoes that are shipped to Europe. We have known cases where a whole cargo of fruit has been absolutely ruined by the engines breaking down, or by some mishap. I will not say that the steam-ship companies have robbed our producers, because we know from the start that they decline to accept any responsibility whatever for shipments of produce. But in many cases the shipper has not only had to lose all his fruit, but to payfreight on produce which has been ruined through a mishap to the engines on the voyage. How can that be prevented? No Department of Agriculture that we can create can prevent it. How are we to prevent rabbits or meat, which are shipped home, being ruined through the engines breaking down?
– There has been great carelessness in reference to keeping an equable temperature on some of the steamers.
– I do not think that the misfortunes have been the result of carelessness in all cases. They have been clue to mishaps. Very often some little injury happens to the engines, and if they stop for an hour, the damage is done. I do not think that has been due to negligence.
– In some cases it has been due to negligence.
– I believe that that is not the case generally. No Government interference can prevent accidents of that kind, nor can Government interference make the steam’-ship companies responsible.
– Science might overcome it.
– I do not think that any science that is likely to be applied by an Australian Department of Agriculture would be likely to overcome difficulties which are at present engaging the attention of the best experts in the world.
– Has the honorable member studied the work which has been done by the United States. Department of Agriculture ?
– Yes; I have studied it carefully.
– And the work which has been done in Canada?
– Yes; ‘but notwithstanding that I do not think that at the present time it is advisable or judicious for the Federal Parliament to create a Federal Department of Agriculture.
– Why not?
– The German Empire has made a great success of such a department.
– The German Empire has made a great success of many things which I regret to say we are not in a position to take up at the present time. Mr. Isaacs. - These agricultural departments have enriched every country where they have been established.
– We have at present Departments of Agriculture in most of the Australian States.
– In a very primitive condition.
– If they are in a primitive condition it is the fault of the Governments which have created them.
– The idea is that the control shall be only administrative, and not at all in the direction indicated by the honorable member for Franklin.
– The proposal of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo is so extensive as to reach almost all Departments.
– The honorable and learned member for Bendigo does not mean to do all in a moment.
– That I candidly admit. I think the honorable and learned member for Bendigo was speaking a little at large, although I quite agree with him as to very many of the benefits which arise from departmental supervision when the States are prepared to undertake and properly carry it out.
– The honorable and learned member for Bendigo .was showing the powers we have under ihe Constitution to take action if we desire.
– I never argue a constitutional point with the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, because he has made that subject his special study. I know, however, that exceedingly good lawyers in Australia are of opinion that some of the powers which the honorable and learned member for Bendigo says we can take over, are not within our province. I do not pretend to be a lawyer, but I know good lawyers who say that it is not within the province of the Federal Parliament to deal with the distribution of Australian products in England.
– Do those lawyers say that we have not the power, under the Constitution, to deal with that matter?
– They say that we have not the power to deal with the distribution of Australian products in England. According to the honorable, and learned member for Bendigo, Australian products sold in London are practically a disgrace to us, while no one has ever heard of inferior products from America. In the course of my business I have had to read the English and American papers largely; and it is news to me that the exporters of the United States are so exceedingly honest, and that their brands are superior to any others on the face of the earth. My reading leads me to an entirely different conclusion - to the conclusion that if one wants to be thoroughly, “ taken down “-
– The honorable member reads only the anti-Socialist newspapers.
– On the contrary, I think I follow the exceedingly good example of the honorable member for Kennedy, and read a good many socialistic publications, for some of which I have the highest admiration, particularly f<or one which I understand is a pet of the honorable member. At any rate, my experience is that the products exported from the United States are not so exceedinglysuperior to those exported from Australia. In the matter of tinned meats, for example, some of the produce sent out from the United States under army contract is equal to any sent from Russia during the present campaign.
– And nearly equal to some sent out from England.
– The American products were, I think, even worse than any which have been sent from England. At any rate, it is news to me, and will be news to some of those who have had to consume those American products - exported under the very system so lauded by’ the honorable and learned member - that they were so exceedingly good. I fear that we are interfering too much in State matters.
– The powers of the States under their Constitutions are very much curtailed since Federation.
– But the States think - and in this view I agree - that there are some things which can be done better by the States than by a central government.
– But the powers df the States are cut down by the Federal Constitution.
– I am not questioning the power of this Parliament - all things may be lawful, but all things may not be expedient.
– Does the honorable mem- - ber recognise that the Federal Constitution takes away from a State the power to encourage production and distribution in various directions wherever there may be interference with another State?
– I recognise ‘ that the Federal Constitution takes away the power of the States to that extent. The Federal Government and Parliament may have the power claimed ; but there is nothing in the Constitution to say that if we do not think it judicious at the present time to exercise it, we must interfere with the States. I grant immediately that certain powers have been surrendered by the States under the Federal Constitution; but that does not mean that we may not allow the States to exercise powers, so long as they do not come in conflict with the Constitution, or do any injury to other States. It is not necessary for us to exercise the whole of our powers at once. I believe that the Spates Governments could, for example, deal with pests infinitely better than could any centralized authority. According to my reading and experience, the more we centralize the more costly is the administration, and the more friction there is created, as we have already found, even in the States. To create a Federal Department of Agriculture to carry on all the administration now suggested- to supersede the administration undertaken by the Departments of the various States - isa course which should not be adopted- without very serious consideration. In the United States, the Department of Agriculture takes over the whole control of local pests. If there is an outbreak of San Jose’ scale in South California the Department of Agriculture has to step in and take charge of the whole of the orchards, and, although the work is well done, it is done at enormous cost. . Some of this administration there has resulted in a cost that would simply paralyze this Parliament. We ought to remember that the United States has a population of 80,000,000 and an enormous revenue. Our position at the present time is that while the Federal Government may have plenty of money at its disposal, the States Governments, in the majority of cases, are very seriously embarrassed, and are casting about for new systems of taxation on the people, whom we represent as ‘much as do the States Parliaments. Before we create a new Department, and incur extra expense, it behoves us very seriously to consider the financial position, not of the Commonwealth alone - because, owing to our financial arrangements, the Federal
Treasury may be overflowing while the States Treasuries are impoverished - but also the financial position of the States. I believe that the proposed Department would prove one of the most costly it would be possible to create. To undertake such work as has been carried out in America- good as some of that work is - would necessarily be exceedingly costly. The States are not in a position to carry out work of the kind at the present time. So far as the encouragement of industries is concerned, in the way of attempting to find markets, I think those personally interested can do very much better for themselves. My electorate embraces nearly the whole of those engaged ‘ in the fruit export trade of Tasmania. I suppose that from my electorate there are from 6 to 10 bushels of apples exported for every bushel sent from the whole of the rest of Australia; and I am authorized by my constituents’ to say that they do not ask the Federal Government to make, on their behalf, a single stipulation in any mail contract for provision for the carriage of fruit to London. They do not ask the Federal Government to make any efforts to open new markets for them. They have established their own agencies, and- employ their own men, and their business is .transacted much better than it could be by the Federal Government. All my constituents ask is that they may be left alone - that they may not be embarrassed or taxed in any way. They are prepared to make their own markets, and stand or fall on the result of their own ability and enterprise.
– And they have never had Government assistance or aid in any way?
– Not to the extent of a penny that I can remember, and they prefer to do without assistance. At the present time they have created for themselves a splendid market, which is increasing as fast as the export can be increased ; and that is wholly and solely the result of their own enterprise. I may tell the Committee what the growers are doing now. The growers each give from five to ten bushels of apples, which are shipped away “ on spec,” and in this way markets have been opened at Vancouver, Manilla, and Hong Kong. Each of the growers in a certain locality supplies apples fit for export,, and the agent is told to send them wherever he likes, since they are given as an advertisement - in order to open up a market. If a vessel happens to be going to Hong Kong, the apples are shipped there, and the instructions are to sell them for what they will bring, or to give them away, with the information that there, are plenty more like them in Tasmania.
– Is there any cooperation amongst the growers?
– There is no cooperation “or union, apart from the exercise of their own good sense. Each grower lives on his 6 to 8 acres of orchard, and we have closer settlement in the best sense of the word, affording an object lesson to the whole of Australia. Though not personally interested, I have watched very closely the export butter trade of Victoria.
– Has the honorable member been watching the recent proceedings before the Royal Commission? Private enterprise again !
– I have been watching the proceedings of the Royal Commission, and I believe that if the dairymen of Victoria and New South Wales depended on their own enterprise, appointed their own agents, and paid them partly by salary and partly on commission, and sent their product at their own expense, the export trade would be very much better than it is to-day. No one can say, on reading the evidence given before the Royal Commission, that the bonus system in Victoria has been a success.
– In South Australia the export of butter is entirely a State enterprise.
– If the State took over the business altogether, probably that would be much better for the producers than employing as their London agent a State officer who has no direct interest in the business. Some of the purposes for which’ we are asked . by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo to establish a Federal Department of Agriculture have been achieved by the smallest and poorest State of the group -the “ Sleepy Hollow “ alluded to by the honorable member for Gippsland - without such assistance.
– Tasmania should not be poor if her people have done such a great work.
– It is poor in thus respect : that it has very few rich men ; but, on the other hand, it is rich in that it has exceedingly few poor men. Fortunately
Tasmania has very few large land-owners. They might almost be counted on the fingers of the two hands. Seventy-five per cent, of the land-owners of the State hold less than 200 acres each.
– But the big landowners hold about half the State.
– They hold all that is worth having.
– Honorable members are quite wrong. The Van Diemen’s Land Company is the largest land-owner in Tasmania, but while part of their land is good, I know from personal knowledge that by far the greater part of it is land which my honorable friends would not take up and fence if it were offered to them, if they had to live on it.
– The company will not lease the land for less than j£i an acre.
– Not much of their land is worth £t an acre to lease. I have travelled over a great deal of it.
– In the last Tasmanian Appropriation Act provision is made for the entomological and other inspection of imported and exported fruit.
– There is practically no inspection, of the fruit exported from Tasmania, but we have, unfortunately, to maintain an officer for the inspection of th* fruit sent from Victoria and New South Wales. We are frequently compelled to destroy imported oranges infected with the Mediterranean fly, especially oranges which have come from New South Wales.
– The honorable member appears to think that, on the whole, Tasmania furnishes a better object lesson in this matter than is furnished by the United States of America.
– As an example of what private enterprise will do, the fruit export industry of Tasmania should prove a valuable object lesson to those who depend, upon State assistance for the fostering of enterprise. The honorable member for Gippsland challenged a comparison by his statement that, whenever an industry which has been assisted by the Government is compared with one which has not received Government assistance, the latter suffers.
– I did not say exactly that.
– I took down the honorable member’s words in shorthand.
– I did not intend that a comparison should be made of individual industries. I had in ,mind an instance where a Government .gives general assist’ance to production and exportation.
– The honorable member threw down a fair challenge, and I have endeavoured to show that private enterprise has succeeded in establishing, in an exceedingly, small community, an export industry which compares more than favorably with the State-supported export industries of the mainland. I do not think that to stimulate the desire to run to the Government for everything is calculated to promote the real interests of Australia. Where there is dependence on individual effort and personal enterprise there is a healthier condition of things and a greater advancement of interests than where the Government is depended’ upon to make markets for the producers. In my opinion, the best way in. which to create an export industry, and to foster the well-being of the community, is to encourage private enterprise; and as I believe that we are not yet in a position to establish such a Department as has been outlined by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, and that the work which such a Department would undertake can be better and more cheaply done by the Departments of the States, I hope that the Government will seriously consider the matter before promising to adopt his suggestion.
– My views upon this subject are diametrically opposed to those of the honorable member for Franklin, and almost three years ago exactly, when seconding, in the first session of the first Parliament, a motion by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo similar to that now under discussion, I placed them before the House at some length. They are recorded on page 2498 and the following pages of the Hansard report of our proceedings of the 12th July, 1901, and I do not intend to repeat now, to any considerable extent, what I then said. Upon that occasion I took a good deal of trouble to set out in some detail the reasons which led me to support the establishment at an early date of a Federal Department of Agriculture, using the term not in a narrow sense, but as indicative of the general purposes for which such a Department would be established. The suggestion of the honorable member for Franklin, that we should consider the present and future welfare of Australia in its productive aspect from the stand-point of the small State of Tasmania, is hardly to the point. In dealing with a matter of such magnitude, and of such lasting importance, affecting the whole Commonwealth, we should seek for much more apposite illustrations, and I do not think we shall do wrong in endeavouring to ascertain what America has done in this matter. It is true, as the honorable member for Gippsland pointed out, that the United States of America now comprise a very large area of country, and contain a very large population ; but Washington, the first of the American Presidents, embodied in one of his earliest messages to Congress the advice that a national board of agriculture should be established, and that recommendation was carried out with a very humble beginning. I. do not counsel precipitate haste in this matter. We should walk warily and- carefully, seeking not to tread in the exact footsteps of any other country, but taking profit by the example of other countries, and proceeding cautiously, but yet fearlessly. If I remember aright, America began with an appropriation df about 1,000 dollars, and at the present day spends annually many tens of thousands of dollars on this work. Instead of the States resenting any action of the kind proposed on the part of the Commonwealth, I take it that they would be only too glad to welcome our participation on a large and beneficent scale in the work of developing this continent. In America the States work in thorough and active co-operation with the Federal authority, and the same thing occurs in Canada. Mr. Thompson, one of the high officials of the Canadian Board of Agriculture, has pointed out how the Dominion legislation and the Provincial legislation go handinhand together. The two authorities are inter-dependent and mutually helpful. That must happen here. The Governments of the States have certain powers which are not possessed by the Commonwealth Government; but, on the other hand, the Commonwealth Government have certain powers which the Governments of the States no longer possess. They must, therefore, work in harmony and unison. There ought not to be any jealousy in regard to the performance of a common work for mutual benefit. With all respect to the honorable member for Franklin, it seems to me that he utterly missed the points of the proposal. It is not a mere question of how to grow and pack apples and send them to London, but a much more complex and varied one. We have to accommodate our- selves to all sorts of conditions, climatic and otherwise. The avocation of farmers and dairymen, and producers generally, is largely a hazardous one. It is speculative in a high degree, because its results do not depend wholly upon the personal skill and assiduous attention of those engaged in such pursuits, but upon erratic conditions’ of seasons, and varying qualities of soils. We do not wish to coddle the producers, nor do they ask us to do so. They are content to labour to the best of their ability, and to the utmost of their power; but they cannot devote any considerable time to experiment and research, nor can they without assistance and guidance launch out to any contsiderable degree into new fields. What has, therefore, been .done in America and in Canada is to make parliamentary appropriations for the investigation of novel conditions and. the ascertainment of information. Experimental stations have been formed, and the requirements of various localities have been investigated to discover the products which will grow best and will prove most profitable
The occupation of farming has been elevated in the eyes of the community. It is no longer . looked upon as a sort of drudgery, suited to the dull and slow going, but is now regarded as a suitable field for the higher intelligence of cultivated minds. It is recognised as a calling requiring much skill to’ conduct it successfully, and as giving ample scope for the exercise of the most active and earnest minds, and one in which information of almost every sort may be turned to practical account.
But he does more than that. He does not confine himself to mere generalities. He tells us what the result of higher culture in farming is, and on his central experimental farm he has ascertained, and has j given to the world, the amount of increase of production in two sets of years. He took, first of all, three early years from 1889 to 1891, and he has compared the results of the comparatively primitive cultivation of those years with those which followed the adoption of more advanced systems in three later years, from 1896 to 1898. I shall refer to the results in the case of the three great cereals. He says that the average crop of oats in the later period showed an increase of 23 bushels 23 lbs. per acre. The average crop of barley showed an increase of 12 bushels 7 lbs., and of wheat 4 bushels 50 lbs. These wonderful results were obtained, as he points out, by the moderate and, of course, scientific use of fertilizers, the ploughing in of green crops, early sowing, the more thorough working of the land in a scientific way, and the selection of more productive varieties for seed. All this is within our reach. I do not deny that the States have of late years done excellent work. We have amongst us some men of whom we may be justly proud. There are names entitled to all honour. . I do not pretend to know them all, and I am sure that if I mention some of them it will not be assumed that I am purposely doing any injustice to others. One of the leading experimentalists of the world is Mr. William Farrer, of New South Wales. In the State of Victoria we have now Mr. Wallace, Mr. McAlpine, Mr. French, and others. We have the names of Marshall and Grasby and Professor Lowrie in South Australia. In other parts of Australia, also, there are men who hold very high positions in this Department. Consequently we can put our hands on suitable material. Although the States of late years have been doing very creditable, and indeed excellent, work - and in Victoria I am pleased to see that the experts are going right through the country, giving agricultural and other lectures, which must be of great advantage to men engaged in the great science of agriculture - still there are fields and avenues that are better open, and some of them solely, to a Federal Department, and in which we may with advantage engage. I thoroughly indorse what has been said by my honorable and learned friend the member for Bendigo. I am speaking particularly of giving encouragement to production. I also agree with him that the Federation ought to exercise a very careful supervision over the export of our products. It ought not only to jealously guard the good name of Australia, but to see that the greatest and fullest advantage is reaped bv the actual producers, who have to export. A great deaL of good could be done by the Federation under its power of dealing with trade and commerce with other countries, and even among the States in seeing that the profits of production reach the right hands, that men when they toil should feel that they are toiling for their own benefit. We should see that there is as little interception of profits as possible. A few days ago, through the courtesy of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, I had certain questions put to the Prime Minister. Amongst other matters I asked whether he would take steps to guard and protect the interests of Australian producers who have to export and dispose of their produce by means of agent?, either in the other. States of Australia or abroad. The Prime Minister favoured me with a sympathetic answer, but I think that, at an early date, it might be rendered a little more definite. The answer was -
I quite appreciate the importance of the inquiry as affecting the interests of the Australian butter producers generally, and I am prepared to take further action should necessity subsequently be shown.
I think that perhaps the Prime Minister’s attention was concentrated upon the particular Commission which formed the main subject of the questions, but I should like it d be extended to the much larger field with which we are now dealing. There are interests and productions in Queensland, New South Wales, and other States which go far beyond the butter industry, which can only be regarded as a type in considering this matter. There is one phase of the subject to which I should like to direct the attention of the Government, and that is a step that might be taken without any expense whatsoever, whilst it would be following a precedent of the Canadian Parliament. I refer to the establishment of a Standing Committee on agriculture and kindred avocations.
– The honorable and learned member refers to a Parliamentary Committee ?
– Yes. I do not see whythere should not be here, as in Canada, a Standing Parliamentary Committee, which could from time to time meet and consider the condition of the various national primary producers.
– Miners as well as others.
– Yes, I include all. I would have the committee deal with all Australian productions to the extent within which the Federation has power. The committee could sit, take evidence, and make suggestions, as they do in Canada, to the Minister. Those : suggestions might be dealt with, and, if necessary, formulated in more definite detail for the consideration of Parliament. If its reports were made public, attention would be concentrated upon the matters with which they dealt, and a large amount of information would be focussed and made useful that might otherwise be utterly lost. There is no expense involved in the establishment of such a committee, whilst there are possibilities in the proposal which we cannot estimate. Whether the Government intend immediately to establish an agricultural bureau or not, they might well consider the appointment of a Standing Committee of Trade and Agriculture, or whatever name they might choose to apply to a committee of the nature I have indicated. These motions, coming on from time to time, may for a moment arrest the attention of the Government, and sometimes of the community, but their effect passes away. They are very like the reports of Royal Commissions, which melt away like the snow. But if there is established a standing committee - an unpaid committee, because I am sure there are many members of this House who would be only too glad to serve upon such a committee - it would be constantly charged with the duty of observing the conditions of trade, commerce, and agriculture, and constantly on the alert for new ideas of benefit to the producers of Australia. The work of such a committee should greatly benefit our producers in perhaps some unexpected ways.
– The honorable and learned member would put the Home Affairs Department in commission? The Minister ought to do that .work.
– Can any one imagine that the Minister of Home Affairs could undertake the extensive investigation I am indicating. There is in Canada a Minister of the Department, and yet the Canadian Standing Committee of Agriculture has its sittings and makes its reports to that Minister, and if necessary he deals with the proposals submitted to him. But it is a patriotic committee that does not leave the matter committed to it to the red-tape of an ordinary Government Department. I should like such a committee to be established here, and composed of practical men who are members of both Houses, of the Parliament, because the matter is one in which members of both Houses should be engaged. I have no doubt that there are in this chamber at the present moment men whose opinions and attention to such matters on such a committee would be of the greatest value. I shall keep my promise not to go into details of the matter to be found in the speech I made on a previous occasion. The illustrations given by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo and by myself should strike honorable members as distinctly proving the advantage of Government intervention. We are always open to receive advances in scientific knowledge. I venture to say that there is no Department of our social life which is more receptive of advance in scientific knowledge than is the Agricultural Department. It is, comparatively speaking, only the other day since the question of cross-fertilization revolutionized the growth of cereals, and it was found that the ordinary selection of known types was not sufficient. It is only the other day that the fixation of nitrogen opened a new chapter in the growth of cereals,’ and in the prevention of the exhaustion of the soil. These discoveries should open our eyes to the necessity of following them up. The ordinary farmer, however skilled and experienced he may be, cannot possibly undertake the duties of a chemist and entomologist, and the other branches of scientific advance that are necessary to make a Department of Agriculture in the widest sense of success. ‘We have to compete with all the world. We must, therefore, increase our products, and increase their value. In the case of wheat, we have to some extent accomplished that by adopting the most ‘ scientific methods for improving its quality. When I hear the honorable member for Franklin exclaim, “ Leave the men to their own resources.” I look at the immense advance in the agricultural industry which has been made in Canada and the United States, and I say that the story of the progress, of those countries affords the strongest possible refutation of his theory. Indeed, that story reads almost like a romance. I sincerely hope that the Government will take this matter into their very serious consideration. In connexion with my own district, I have received several earnest proofs of their desire to advance country interests. I feel that a great opportunity now presents itself to them, and I ask them, not in a formal manner, but in all sincerity, to consider this question at the very earliest opportunity. I quite agree with the honorable member for Gippsland that, important as may have been other Bills which have occupied the attention of the House, there is nothing in which the future of Australia is more closely bound up than it is in this question. I believe that if the Government will make up its mind without delay as to its attitude upon this question, and will make an announcement of the right nature, it will receive the earnest and immediate gratitude of the producers of Australia.
– The observation of the honorable and learned member for Indi, that an abstract resolution of this character usually meets with the same fate as do the reports of Royal Commissions, contains a good deal of truth. I trust, however, that we have got beyond that stage in the Commonwealth Parliament. Everybody must admit that, no matter how great individual effort may be, the collection and dissemination of information by a central authority results in great gain to the community at large. In Victoria - and I believe in some of the other States - the Department of Agriculture has undeniably accomplished something in the interests of agriculture. But an enormous amount of work still requires to be done. In Australia it is only when the different States are confronted with the difficulties appertaining to the agricultural and pastoral industries that they realize how powerless they are as units. Within the confines of my own district, for example, is to be found one of the best agricultural colleges in Victoria. Yet I know of instances in which farmers in that district have been pursuing investigations on their own account, whilst concurrently similar investigations were being undertaken in that college by the State. Through some peculiarities of management the fact was not made known. It is true that of recent years a knowledge of the experiments which are being conducted in these institutions has been disseminated amongst the farmers. If is. a singular circumstance that although some forty or fifty students are being instructed in the practical and scientific methods of agriculture at the college, verv few farmers’ sons enter that institution, and fewer still devote their attention to farming pursuits after quitting it. Practically the same conditions prevail in the other States.
– All over the world similar conditions obtain. At the same time, I do not think that the knowledge acquired by students at the college is lost.
– It would be more to the advantage of the agricultural community if these young men devoted themselves to practical farming as soon as the opportunity presented itself. It is only since the appointment of Mr. Wallace, some two years ago, that the information imparted, at these colleges has been brought within the reach of the farmer and his son. During that period agricultural classes have been established at most of the large centres of population, and the avidity with which this source of instruction has been seized upon has been positively a revelation to me. The practice adopted by the Department is to visit the larger agricultural centres and .obtain a list of ‘intending students. The lecturer is afterwards sent round with specially, prepared data, which is imparted to the students. I notice also that prominent agriculturists are offering prizes to the pupils who exhibit the most proficiency in the matters which form the subject of the lectures.
– The lecturer travels from one centre to another?
– Dr. Cherry also visits the country districts.-
– I would remind those honorable members who fear that the establishment of a national agricultural college will engender friction between the States and the Federation, that after all we are dealing with the same people. If the Commonwealth can perform any work” better than the States can accomplish it in their individual capacities, I am sure that no State authority will raise any objection to our undertaking it. The States authorities admit that the Commonwealth Government can deal with the export of Australian products to other parts of the world better than they can.
– There is very great jealousy over that matter.
– Let me cite an instance to illustrate my meaning. Some seven or eight years ago, when I was a member of the Victorian Parliament, the butter exporters of this State felt that they were being charged more than was reasonable for the carriage of butter to England.
Representations were accordingly made to the Minister of Agriculture, who entered into negotiations with the authorities in New South Wales. From one cause or another, however, the Governments of the two States did not come into line, and it was impossible for the Minister to make an authoritative statement as to the quantity of produce which could be guaranteed to any company which might be prepared to make a reduction in the freight charges. Consequently, no reduction whatever was obtained from the steam-ship companies which then enjoyed a monopoly in the carriage of this product, namely, the P. and O. and the Orient Companies. But as soon as the Minister was able to submit a definite proposal to another company regarding the volume of produce that would be available, and the rate that he was . prepared to pay, what happened? He was informed that if he could offer the bulk of the butter then being exported from Victoria to one company, a reduction of a farthing per pound would be made in the freight charges. That reduction would have represented a very considerable amount during the year; but because he was unable to speak for the whole of the producers and because of the Inter-State jealousy which existed, the Victorian exporters of butter have been paying three farthings per pound for the carnage of their butter to the old wOrld, instead of a halfpenny per pound during the past seven years. The “same remark is applicable to the transport of stock from one portion of Australia to another. To me it is surprising that those who are particularly interested submit silently to these extraordinary conditions. Let me give an illustration of my meaning. I reside in a border district, and during six months in the year I am prevented from bringing any sheep, which I may purchase from an adjoining district in New South Wales, direct to my own place. If, however, I make a detour of some twelve or fourteen miles, I can bring them across the border without any restriction being imposed upon their movements. Until a few weeks ago, similar conditions obtained in connexion with the importation of pigs from New South Wales. They could be sent direct from the border stations there in trucks which are used in Victoria every day for the carriage of the same class of stock. They could also be sold in the metropolitan market, although they had to be slaughtered within a week. Victorian farmers who wanted bacon were compelled to purchase these pigs in the metropolitan market, and forward them to their destination, dead. But the most extraordinary feature in connexion with the matter is that simultaneously pigs from “ clean “ districts were being carried on the same trains, put through the same market, and forwarded without any restriction to all parts of Victoria. These anomalies convince me that it is absolutely necessary that a central authority should have control of such matters, so that some harmony may be introduced into the conduct of our daily business.- I am aware that there are those who object to State control, and upon whom the mention of a bonus has the same effect as has a red rag upon a bull, but it is beyond question that the Victorian butter industry was established by means of the bonus system adopted by the State Government. Had there been more State supervision the corruption that apparently exists to-day amongst some of the butter merchants in Victoria would not have had an opportunity to spring up. To those who might be influenced by the statement given in evidence before the Butter Commission, that the major portion of the bonus went to city merchants, I would say that it was due to the want of proper supervision that the whole of it did not go to the producers. I am satisfied, however, that a considerable proportion of the money that apparently went to the exporters filtered through them to the producers. Let rae give the House an illustration. My parents have given attention to dairying ever since they entered upon farming pursuits, and I have also devoted myself to it. When the butter bonus system was introduced, I was largely interested in the industry, but, unlike some of my neighbours, was not fortunate enough to participate in the benefits of co-operation. In the district in which I resided a co-operative butter factory was established, and those who supplied milk to it on the co-operative system eventually received the full’ benefit of the bonus. The company manufactured its own butter, and, shipping it through the Government stores direct to England, received a bonus in respect of it. During this period I was supplying milk to one of the largest proprietary companies in Victoria. That company, whose conduct is now being investigated by the Butter Commission, had a- branch factory in my district, and eventu- ally drew the bonus in respect of the butter which’ it exported ; but I received from it the same price for my milk as that which the suppliers of milk to the Co-operative Company obtained, and in both cases the milk was judged according to the same standard test. This proves that the full benefit of the bonus, which apparently went to the credit of the exporters, was received by the producers. It has been stated that products of inferior quality - butter and meat practically unfit for human consumption - have been shipped, under State supervision, from Victoria, and have damaged our reputation. A little inquiry will show that the statement is misleading. When the Perishable Products Bill was before the Victorian Legislative Assembly, what was alleged to be a Dairymen’s Association, controlled by a council which spoke presumably on behalf of the dairymen of Victoria, was in existence. The Government of the day, and those who were supporting the Bill, were anxious to provide that none but the best quality of butter should be exported under State supervision ; but this council, which was supposed to represent the dairymen of Victoria, stoutly resisted the proposal to embody within the four corners of the Bill provisions calculated to restrict the operations of those who desired to ship inferior ; butter. The honorable and learned member for Indi, as well as the honorable member for Gippsland, were members of the House, and can bear witness . to the truth of this statement. The sequel was recently disclosed before the Butter Commission. The men who were then alleged to represent the dairymen of Victoria were really acting as the mouthpiece Of the agents, and unfortunately for the producers attention was paid to their counsels. The same remark will apply to the export of meat. It is undoubtedly true that inferior butter has been shipped under Government’ supervision to England. It was supposed to be graded into three classes, and the third grade was certainly not of good quality. Merchants were also permitted to export butter or meat of any grade. If evidence were needed to prove the necessity of State supervision of the export of Federal products, the testimony given during the’ last few weeks before the “Royal Commission now sitting in Melbourne would be amply sufficient. I feel that it is- almost a waste of time to discuss an abstract motion bearing on this subject. What Ave require is information as to the attitude which the Government propose to take up. I am not one of those who would urge the Government to at once create an expensive and elaborate Department of Agriculture. It is open to them to move by easy stages. We have been told this afternoon of the enormous sums spent in this direction by the United States Government, and also of the enormous population of the States; but we know that the Department of Agriculture there had a modest beginning. It is open to us to begin on the same modest scale, and to deal with conditions as they exist. We require a Federal Department to assist our producers in the way suggested ; but it is unnecessary for us to entertain any wildly extravagant proposals. We have several object lessons, and the nucleus of a Federal Department of Agriculture is already in existence. Some of the States Departments of Agriculture are undoubtedly doing splendid work. In the district which I represent we have an Agricultural College that is second to none.
– The Dookie College?
– Yes. That college is controlled by men whose ability is beyond question. The honorable and learned member for Indi has mentioned certain names, and while I have no desire to make invidious distinctions, I say, unhesitatingly, that the record of the officials of the Dookie Agricultural College stands out prominently in the annals of the State Department, and the good work done by them will eventually be recognised throughout the length and breadth of Australia.
– There has been a great improvement during the last few years.
– That is so’ We at first made mistakes, but under the council now supervising the experts in charge of the college, splendid work is being done. What we need - and it is possible for the Federal Government to secure the concurrence of .the States Governments to this proposal - is a Federal Department that will be able to act in the interests of the whole of the people in matters relating to agriculture. Various Conferences have been held between representatives of the States Agricultural Departments in regard to questions relating to the export and import of produce, and the transmission of goods from one State to another, and the delays which have occurred in carrying out their proposals would have been obviated if we had had a Federal Department ready to take action whenever it was necessary to do so in the interests of the people. We require’ a Federal Department to collect information relating to agriculture that may be of interest to the people, but it is unnecessary to establish it on extravagant lines. At the present time,- a man who wishes to obtain information in regard to areas available for selection in Queensland, and the terms on which it may be acquired, cannot obtain assistance from the Departments of other States. He must go to Queensland, or enlist the services of a friend there to make inquiries for him. That is a condition of affairs that should’ not prevail. Although Western Australia forms part of the union, it is necessary, at present, for the State Government to send a lecturer to Victoria to inform the people of this State of the possibilities of agricultural and pastoral development there. The position is practically the same with respect to Queensland. Some twelve months ago friends of mine, who are farmers in the Northern district, were anxious to secure land for their sons, and wished me to make inquiries as to the farming districts of Queensland. I called at the Victorian Lands Department, but could obtain no information on the subject. The officers of the Victorian Department of Agriculture were courtesy personified, and said they would be delighted to make inquiries from the Queensland Government, but I recognised that that might mean a delay of some months. Through the courtesy of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, however, I was able to obtain the requisite information, and to send these men to Queensland, and they are now’ perfectly satisfied with their lot. Had a Federal Department been in existence, the required information would have been obtainable without difficulty. There should be a Federal Department able to give information relating to agriculture in all the States.
– Not only here, but in London.
– That is a phase of the question with which I do not propose to deal. It’ seems to me to be useless to discuss abstract motions. A similar proposal was discussed in this House two or three years ago, and we heard no more of it until to-day. What we require is a forward movement, and I hope that the Minister in charge of the House will give some intimation of the intentions of the Government in this direction. We do not wish the Government to commit themselves to any definite proposal, but we are certainly anxious to know how they view this matter.
Personally, I should not. view the possibility of any large increase of Federal expenditure with pleasure, but if any little expenditure is involved in a work of this kind, I venture to say that no taxpayer in Australia is likely to cavil at it, seeing that it will tend so greatly to the material development of the Commonwealth. We boast about the potentialities of Australia, but what have we done up to the present time? We have settled down on a little fringe on ihe seaboard, but we know practically nothing of the conditions that prevail in our own territories. When we are confronted with a drought we are powerless. When we are confronted with some stock disease that devastates our flocks and herds we have little or no knowledge of what remedial measures the other States are adopting. To give an illustration, which is typical, we had in Victoria, six or seven years ago, an outbreak of anthrax. I knew from my own experience in New South Wales that an absolute preventive of anthrax was available. Anthrax is a disease that will make a millionaire whose capital is invested in stock a -poor man within a fortnight. I naturally made application to the Stock Department of Victoria, but in the meantime I advised a friend and neighbour, whose interests were at stake, to take all the risks involved in importing the preventive and having- his stock vaccinated. He was fortunate enough to receive attention forthwith, which is not always the case when- one has to communicate with people in another State. Just two months afterwards I received an intimation from the Stock Department over the signature of the Minister that the Department had gone so far as to permit the vaccine to be introduced through the Customs at Albury. Was not that a terrible state of affairs? The same conditions prevail to-day, though probably not in so great a degree. If we had an out-‘ break of anthrax in Victoria, we should still have to apply to two gentlemen in New South Wales before we could take any preventive measures except isolation ; and people cannot always quarantine all the stock that are likely to -get affected through travelling over the pastures upon which diseased stock have been feeding. These are reasons why the Federal Government should make a move forward in the direction of establishing a Department of Agriculture to deal particularly with those larger issues where the interests of the people of the Commonwealth are at stake. I trust, therefore, that the Minister will give the House some intimation that the Government intends to be up and doing something in this direction for the welfare of Australia.
– When the honorable member for Franklin was speaking, I looked at the motion before the House to see if it contained anything about the granting of a bonus or anything of the kind ; but I found nothing of that sort in it. I was somewhat surprised at the attitude assumed by the honorable member in dealing so fully with an industry with which his own electoral district is so intimately concerned. In my opinion we have to regard matters of this kind as affecting the whole Commonwealth, and have not merely to consider their influence upon any particular district. If I were to follow the honorable member’s example, I might consider the question of the export of apples as affecting a portion of the district which I represent. But it is not my intention to do that, because the question is not merely one of local interest. We must all realize the great importance of the different branches of the agricultural industry mentioned by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, and must appreciate the efforts which are made by the American Government in these directions. Considering the importance of the subject, I am surprised at the small attendance. It appears to me that some honorable members are more stimulated by issues in which party politics are concerned than by those which affect the welfare, of the whole of the people of Australia. I am verv glad that I do not belong to the section that attaches so much importance to party questions. The honorable member for Franklin referred to the damage sustained by goods in transit to the old country. I have been recently informed that in some cases goods have been absolutely destroyed on the voyage through the carelessness of the shipping companies. I refer particularly to apples and rabbits. This destruction was caused in consequence of the owners of the ships having -in their cool chambers partitions that were not air-r proof. Rabbits should be put in one compartment and kept at a certain temperature, and apples should be put in another compartment at quite another degree of temperature. According to .the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, who speaks with authority, the producers whose goods are thus destroyed have no remedy against the shipping companies. But in New
Zealand the shippers have their remedy against the shipping companies if their goods are damaged. There is urgent necessity for some Federal action in reference to the shipment of goods to Europe, so that our producers mav have the same remedy that the shippers of New Zealand have. It is only fair and reasonable that when goods are destroyed through the neglect of the shipping companies they should be held responsible, or, at any rate, the shippers should not pay freight on goods which are destroyed. Mr. Seddon, the Premier of New Zealand, did noble work for his country when he was in England in connexion with the Coronation. He interviewed the shipping companies, and made arrangements for cheaper freights. If the Government of the Commonwealth could only make similar arrangements they would do most valuable work for our producers. There is one branch of the subject in which I take a particular interest, and that is forestry. I contend that if the forests of Australia are to remain of any value, the subject must be taken in hand at an early date. Some years ago, as one interested in the. furniture trade, I made a sideboard of English oak grown in Australia, I believe that it was the first article of the kind made in Australia up to that time. When we realize that our Tasmanian blackwood and Huon pine, which are of so much importance to the furniture trade, and for all inside building work, is being fast used up, and that practically no steps are being taken to replant the forests, it is quite evident that if the interests of the next generation are to be conserved, it behoves us, to whose charge are committed the interests of the Commonwealth, to take some steps in the matter. In Tasmania some excellent articles have been written by a gentleman who has interested himself in the subject of forestry, but very little notice has been taken of the subject, so far as practical issues are concerned. If those who possess land in our country districts would only plant English oaks and other valuable timber trees, they would yield a very profitable return for their families when they are dead and gone, as well as provide an adornment to their estates while they are living. I saw a statement in the Launceston Examiner, concerning a pig which when killed weighed 349 lbs. That pig had been fed solely on acorns. That fact shows that in this direction also land-owners will have a profitable investment, in the planting of English . oaks. I earnestly trust that this subject will be taken up, not only in the interests of forestry itself, but also in the interests of industries that depend upon timber. It is not desirable to prolong the discussion, so that I will not enter upon other matters upon which I had intended to speak. But we need, in considering subjects of this kind, to have regard to the welfare of Australia rather than of any particular district. If there is anything in Federation, surely- it is in matters of this kind by dealing with which we can do good for Australia as a whole. By means of such a Department as the honorable and learned member for Bendigo desires to establish, we can to a great extent promote the interests of those who are shipping produce to Europe. We know that unity is strength. We have been long divided, and now that we are united it is our duty to consider subjects of this kind in an earnest and practical spirit. Especially should we create facilities for our producers to send home their goods and to obtain better markets than are available in Australia.
– It is not entirely creditable to the Federal Parliament that a discussion of this kind should drag along in the way the present debate has clone. I have seldom listened to a debate which was carried on with less animation or listened to by so few members - though I must confess that by those present it has been listened to with very great attention.
– Some very good speeches have been made.
– I have no doubt as to the quality of the speeches, but unfortunately those speeches have been delivered to one or two enthusiasts, whilst the majority of honorable members have shown no interest in the question.
– Because there is such unanimity.
– I hope that it is correct that honorable members are unanimous upon the subject, and that there is practically only one opinion regarding the desirability of the Federal Government, doing something in connexion with it. Agriculture is the fundamental industry of civilization ; and speaking as one who, for the greater part of his life, has been intimately associated with that industry, I would very strongly urge upon the Government the adoption at the earliest possible” opportunity of the proposal embodied in the motion. As one who has travelled a good deal in Australia, I must confess that I have been very much disgusted at the backward state of agriculture generally. Any one who has any idea of what can be done by thoroughly scientific methods of agriculture must be surprised to find so many hundreds of miles of magnificent territory utilized only as sheep and cattle runs. The. people who have settled on the land are frequently to blame for their indifference ; but I am very much afraid that frequently also the inability to make proper use of the land arises very largely from ignorance of the most elementary principles of farming. There is no doubt but that in Australia large numbers of people who have gone on the land are not acquainted with farming as farming is understood in other parts of the world. They have followed the simplest, and it seems to me the laziest, methods of making a living - and often a poor living at that. I believe that when the land was being gifted away by the States, conditions ought to have been embodied in those gifts that would have made it imperative that people taking up land should utilize it in a better way than has generally been done. In the old country, for instance, we find that numbers of agreements between landlord and tenant embody conditions with regard to keeping up the fertility of the land and preserving its amenity. It is customary for a landlord to make conditions as to the necessary manuring and the rotation of crops, so as to keep the land in the condition in which the tenant usually receives it. I do not see why the State, as owner of the land to begin with, should not have introduced similar conditions into their grants. To me, when travelling throughout the various States, it has been absolutely pitiable to see dotted here and there in the midst of bare paddocks settlers’ homes, with neither an ornamental tree nor a patch of garden near. Those people are not only neglectful of their own interests, but are neglectful of the larger interests of the community. They certainly ought to have been called upon to make their holdings a little more attractive and more useful to themselves, not only for their own immediate benefit, but for the benefit of the country generally. Large areas of country are being denuded of timber in the most ruthless way, without a twig being planted or an attempt being made to restore or maintain natural , conditions. That is a deplorable state of affairs, and already we have complaints from those who have studied the question, that climatic and other conditions are being affected by deforestation, to the serious detriment of the farming community. I believe that the Agricultural Departments in the various States have clone very good work, but a great deal remains to be done by a more comprehensive Department, such as would be established by the Commonwealth Government. Attempts might then be made at acclimatization, and at the introduction of new products into the various States - such attempts as are not possible, or can be made only with great difficulty, under existing conditions. Australia very badly wants a few enthusiasts to interest themselves in the matter of supplying our natural deficiencies by artificial methods. I refer to the monotony of the natural conditions of the country - to the absence of those excellent features which we find in other parts of the world, and which could easily be supplied or created by artificial means.
– I refer not only to water, but to the planting of trees which are not natural to the country, and the cultivation of vegetables not at present grown here ; and, further, to the introduction of products from one State into another. Since the advent of Federation, we find in the fruit shops of Melbourne delicious fruits which were practically unknown to the people of Victoria prior to the breaking down of the tariff wall. Many of those products could be easily grown in districts in Victoria, and a similar interchange would take place with regard to other States. Speaking as a Western Australian, I can see where excellent work could be done in this respect in my own State. There we are, so to speak, only at the door-step of industrial development.’ We are only beginning to discover what can be produced on our lands with our climate. The Agricultural Department of Western Australia has undoubtedly done excellent work ; better work, perhaps, than has been done in the same space of time in any other State. But I contend that the work of that Department would be immensely assisted and benefited by the establishment of a central bureau, such as is proposed in this motion. I hope that the observation of an honorable member a few moments ago to the effect that we are all practically of one mind on the matter is correct, and that the motion will be carried.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) proposed -
That the debate be now adjourned.
– I have not spoken on the question, because I want the motion to have some practical effect. As was very well said by the honorable member for Kennedy, it is time something was done beyond merely discussing the matter in a general way. Some important proposals have been put before the House by honorable members this afternoon, and the Government want an opportunity to indicate their opinion regarding those proposals when the debate is resumed. In particular, there was a suggestion by the honorable and learned member for Indi that there should be a Standing Agricultural Committee. That suggestion seems well worthy of the serious attention of honorable members. I may say that the Government will undoubtedly -support that proposal, but whether in the exact terms suggested is a matter for consideration. I shall take an early opportunity to indicate the policy of the Government, for, of course, as I need hardly say, we are only too anxious to assist in developing agriculture to the very fullest extent. .
Motion agreed to; debate adjourned.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 6th July, vide page 3031) :
Clause 63 -
Any association may, on application to the President, obtain leave to adopt, and may thereupon adopt, any rules to enable it to comply with the prescribed conditions as part of its rules, and any rules adopted in pursuance of this section shall be binding on the members of the association.
Amendment (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to-
That after the word “ association,” line 1, the following words be inserted - “ applying to be registered as an association.”’
Amendment (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That the word “ leave,” line 2, be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ power.”
– What is wanted is not leave, but power to override rules which might otherwise prevent the speedy adoption of the rules provided for in the schedule and which may be essential for any organization registering under the Bill. It is desired to give power to insert those necessary rules as part of the rules of the organization. Legal power is wanted to override the rules of the organization.
– I am not quite clear about the clause even . now. If I understand it aright, it practically will give an association or organization power to register without complying with the conditions provided.
– We have already inserted words which make this amendment consequential.
– Is this a proposal to give an association power to register without rules other than those prescribed by the Bill?
– The proposal is to give’ an association power to do things which otherwise, under its own rules, it would not be able to do. It is usually provided in trades unions that rules may be altered only on giving a month’s notice in writing, and at a general or special meeting summoned for the purpose. But it might be absolutely necessary to alter the rules without giving a month’s notice, in order to prevent a dispute ; and, besides, there is no real reason why that should not be done. The fact that an organization desires to be registered proves that it wants to conform to the requirements of the Bill ; one requirement being that certain conditions which are provided in the schedule must be embodied in the rules. The only way that can be done is either by virtue of the power given in the rules of an association to alter the rules, or by the power given by the Court to override those rules if necessary.
– If I understand rightly, the amendment means that the Courtcan give power to alter the rules of an association.
– For this particular purpose.
– For the purpose of registration ?
– The particular purpose is to bring the rules of an association into conformity with the requirements of the Bill, as set forth in the schedule or the body of the Bill, as the case may be.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Hughes) proposed
That after the word “shall” the following words be inserted - “ notwithstanding anything in the constitution or rules of the association.”
Mr. ROBINSON (Wannon).- If I appreciate the point correctly, the objection raised last night on another clause, that the rules of some associations could not be altered to make them comply with the provisions of the Bill in less than a year, would not have been taken had honorable member opposite, who raised it, looked ahead to this amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 64 to 66 agreed to.
Clause 67 -
If it appears to the Registrar . . .
Amendment (by Sir John Forrest) agreed to -
That the following new paragraph be inserted after paragraph (c) : - “ (cb.) that the rules of a registered organization or their administration do not provide reasonable facilities for the admission of new members or impose unreasonable conditions upon the continuance of their membership or are in any way tyrannical or oppressive.”
Clause further amended consequentially.
– Under clause 66 the Registrar may refuse to register any association as an organization, and under this clause he may draw the attention of the Court to the fact that an organization has been wrongly registered, in which case the Court may review the registration. Might it not be wise, therefore, to allow the opinion of the Court to be taken, in some cases at all events, when the Registrar has refused to register an association?
– The New South Wales Act does not provide for an appeal to the Court, and declares that the decision of the Registrar shall be final; and, in view of that deficiency, it is provided in clause 25 that the President may rescind, review, or vary any decision of the Registrar in any manner in which he may think fit. That clause should meet the objection of the honorable and learned member.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 68 to 74 agreed to.
Clause 75 -
All fines, fees, levies, or dues payable to an organization by any member thereof under its rules may … be sued for and recovered in the name of the organization in any Federal or State Court of competent jurisdiction.
– I move-
That the words “Federal or State Court of competent jurisdiction “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “ Court of summary jurisdiction constituted by a police, stipendiary, or special magistrate.”
Considerable trouble has arisen under the New South Wales Act because the jurisdiction of a police and stipendiary magistrate is confined to that provided for under the Justices Act. In South Australia there are also what are known as special magistrates. The Government intend, however, that the special magistrates referred to in the amendment shall be magistrates specially appointed to get over the difficulty which, in New South Wales, has been caused by such a number of petty matters being referred to the Court as to practically prevent it from dealing with major matters.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 76 consequentially amended and agreed to.
Clauses 77 to 80 agreed to.
Clauses 81 and 82 negatived.
Clauses 83 to 88 agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That the House at its rising adjourn until Tuesday next.
– I take this opportunity to enter my protest against the manner in which the business of this House is being conducted. I do so because it appears to me that a number of honorable members who desire to get to their homes are in the habit of making arrangements by which, so far as they are concerned, the sittings of this House are limited to two and a half days a week, since they leave Melbourne on the Thursday afternoon. One result of these proceedings is that some of us who are compelled to remain here altogether are placed in an unfortunate position. The session extends for very much longer than it should, and we cannot get back to our constituents at all, whilst other honorable members are able to visit their constituents at frequent intervals. By the time we get through the Estimates and have waited for the Senate to deal with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill’, we shall probably have been here this session until November. Of what use is it to ask a man who represents a constituency in Northern Queensland to visit it in November, when the rainy season sets in, and may last until’ the following April ? He is compelled either to stay in Melbourne or to visit one or two places in the other States, and possibly the ‘Southern portion of Queensland, and he is unable to go round his electorate. Apart from the inconvenience which this custom imposes upon .myself and Queensland members generally, there is another feature which I deprecate even more, and >that is that arrangements are made between members of this House that a certain amount of business shall be done. In order that they may get away they are prepared to arrange that so many clauses of a Bill shall be dealt with.
– That is bad government.
– I am not blaming this Government for it. It is a common practice that has grown up in the conduct of the business of this House, and it may lead to very disastrous results. No honorable member present can conscientiously say that the clauses of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, which we have passed this afternoon, have been thoroughly understood.
– They were purely machinery clauses.
– They were all examined and accepted previously.
– I am inclined to think that when some of those clauses are thoroughly scrutinized some honorable members will be very sorry that they agreed to the arrangement.
– I think so too.
– And they will not be members sitting on this side of the House.
– We can recommit the clauses if necessary.
– What I object to is that honorable members should say, “ We will allow the Government to pass so many clauses of a measure, provided we are allowed to go home this afternoon.” If any honorable member took exception to one of those clauses, and called for a division, it would be found that there was not a quorum present, and he, therefore, is compelled to hold his tongue, and swallow the clause to which he objects, or accept responsibility for putting the Government and the House in a very awkward position. The time has arrived when this kind of thing should be stopped. It has been my lot on several occasions in past sessions to direct attention to the fact that hon-
orable members who come from long distances, and who naturally desire to visit their electorates occasionally, should receive some consideration. The practice which has been adopted is a very selfish one on the part of honorable members who are continually absent from the House. There is one honorable member who has attended only eleven out of forty-five sittings which we have had this session. That is not very creditable to the honorable member, and though some may say that the matter is one between’ him and his electors, I ask honorable members to consider what would follow if we all adopted the same course. The practice which has been adopted may lead to a state of affairs which will not be creditable to this House. I could not allow the motion to be passed without entering my protest against the adjournment until Tuesday next. I am aware that I can do nothing in the matter, because the position is as I have stated it.
– I direct the attention of the Minister of External Affairs, who is now in charge of the House, to the fact that when the Government have these little surprises in store, they might let their friends into “the know.” I give the honorable and learned gentleman fair warning that, so far as I am concerned, I shall lose no opportunity of springing a surprise on the Government if they are going to make arrangements behind the backs of honorable members, as has been done this afternoon, and not for the first time. It would have been very convenient for me if I had been made aware two hours ago that the House would adjourn at 6.30 o’clock.
– I think this is done with the cognisance of the honorable member’s leader.
– Well, then, I have not that confidence in leaders, or allegiance to leaders, at the present time which would induce me to accept everything they do, and to agree to any arrangements they may make for their convenience behind my back. The sooner we understand each other the better,, and I am giving fair warning now, that when a fitting -opportunity arises, I shall attempt to -spring a small surprise on the Government if this procedure is repeated. They probably know what that means. I do not care to take any unfair advantage, and it might not be convenient to do anything of the kind now.
– Is the honorable member to be considered a new leader of the Opposition ?
– No. I am leading a party that, so far as I can judge, has been fairly well led for a good many years in Victoria, and that is a party of one. I do not intend to allow that party to be dragged at the heels of any other party (hat goes on its own without considering me. It is a matter of surprise to me that when the Government finds the House in a humour to do business, evidence of which we have had to-day, they do not proceed with it. We have now been four months, if not more, in session ; we have got partly through one Bill; we have disposed of one Government, and we have had another on the grid-iron. If the members of the present Government desire to get on to the coals, I may be permitted to’ say that they are going the right way to get there, because they are practically on strike’ to-day.
– Of what use is it to blame the present Government for this arrangement ?
– It is all very well for the honorable .member for Melbourne Ports, of No. 66 Bourke-street, to say that this is a matter of no moment ?
– I did not say that. I said it was a matter of arrangement.
– The honorable member has evidently been “ in the know,” and he may have some special appointment for to-morrow. I have business in view that it would be very convenient for me to deal with to-morrow, arid which I could have dealt with if I had been made aware that the adjournment was intended. I was left stranded in the same way a fortnight ago, kicking my heels about in the city. As a matter- of fact, I cannot get to my home now until Saturday morning. It is but fair to ask that the Government should consider ‘honorable members who sit here regularly to help them through with business. ‘ They must be aware -that they could have done no business this afternoon, if honorable members had been inclined to foe ‘captious. Surely, when they recognise >t)he position, it is not too much to claim that they should have made some, statement last night on -this subject, suggesting that .urgent business would not be taken. They need not publish their intentions in large capitals ; it is sufficient to give honorable members a hint. We are prone to take ‘even very mild hints in this House. I am practically in the .same position as honorable members coming from other States, because I come from an outlying portion of Victoria. The Minister of External Affairs can realize what it is to honorable members to be six, eight, or nine months away from their districts and their homes, and’ to have to make a second home in Melbourne. Under the practice adopted, we waste one day in each week. We sit nominally for four days a week, but in effect for only three. Honorable members were aware that during this and past sessions we have practically done nothing on the fourth day of the week. We have sat here and looked at each other, arid honorable members have very often talked against time. I venture to say that, as commonsense business men, we should put an end to that sort of thing. If the intention is that we should sit three days a week only, let us know it in time. If we are to sit four days with the intention of doing business on those days, let the Government clearly intimate to the House that that is to be done. In any case, I give fair warning now, that I may spring a little surprise upon the Government if they are not very careful, and if they do not deal more fairly with honorable members than they have done during the last fortnight.
Mr. L. E. GROOM (Darling Downs).I rise to support tine protests which have been made’ by the honorable member for Kennedy .and the honorable member for Moira. In these matters I think that consideration ought to be extended to members who come from distant States. In this Chamber there are some representatives who were members .of the last Parliament, and who during the past three years have not been six months at their own homes. I do not think that this Parliament should be perpetually in session, thus keeping representatives away from their- homes. In my judgment a .great disadvantage attaches to long sessions. Honorable members do not know what is transpiring in their own constituencies. They get out of touch with local matters. They are practically isolated. I do not believe that Parliament should sit only two and a half days ‘a week. Of course, I understand that there are occasions upon which the convenience of hon orable members ought to be studied. I have no desire to inconvenience the representatives of New South Wales or of any other State; .but I claim that when an adjournment of this nature is contemplated, some previous notification of it should be given. Only last week the Electoral
Committee, of which I have the honour to be a member, refused to hold any meeting on the Friday in order that honorable members might be free to attend the sitting of the House. Had we been apprised of the intention of the Government we should have been able to sit all that .day, and should probably have completed our examination of witnesses here.
– But it was not known then that the Prime Minister was unwell.
– I think that these adjournments, by arrangement, are becoming too frequent. When we decide to sit regularly upon four days a week, we ought to adhere to that understanding in order that legislation may be facilitated. It now appears that it is quite possible for the Government to make arrangements by which the machinery clauses of a Bill can be carefully considered by both sides of the House within a very brief period, thus effecting a great saving of time;, If that plan can be adopted in connexion with other Bills, tie length of our present sessions will be reduced by two-thirds. In the future, I trust that members from the distant States will receive some consideration, and that the convenience of some of the Victorian representatives will also be studied.
– The remarks of some of the previous speakers would lead listeners, who are unacquainted with the facts, to suppose that Victorian members have been a party to this arrangement for an adjournment.
– Many of us were not aware of it until a little while ago.
– Many Victorian representatives attend here very regularly, at great personal inconvenience, and do their best to meet the objections which have been urged by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs.
– It affords the honorable member a little recreation.
– The right ‘ honorable member does not do much work himself. These adjournments, by arrangement, appear to be made for the convenience of those- representatives from the other States who can return to their homes. Certainly, they are not made for the convenience of Victorian representatives. I shall assist those honorable members who reside in distant States to complete the work of the session as speedily as possible, so- as to enable them to return to their homes.
– I am- indebted to all those honorable members who have
expressed their sympathy with the representatives from distant States, and especially am I indebted to the honorable member for Moira. As he is so intensely desirous of proceeding with the business of the House, I suggest that he should join with me in urging the Government to proceed with the discussion of some purely non-contentious matter this evening,, such, for example, as the morion relating to the survey of the proposed railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta.
– I quite agree with what has been said, by honorable members, but I would point out that such a great deal has’ been left unsaid that the case has not been fairly presented. In the first place, the Prime Minister is unwell, and, speaking for myself, I am not very much better. When the honorable member for Kennedy and the honorable member for Moira declare that clauses, have been passed without due consideration-, I would remind them that, the consideration given to one clause extended over a fortnight. We have exhausted the. whole gamut of possibilities in connexion with that provision, so that scarcely anything remains to be said in reference to other clauses for some time. In a House which contains such a multiplicity of parties, I think that we ought to do what we can to facilitate business. I agree that if we intend to- sit four days a week, we. might as well adhere to the arrangement, so that we may speedily complete the business of the session. Personally, I have been absent from home for some five or six weeks. I trust that we shall always be able to- pass- twenty-six clauses in a quarter of an hour. If so, we shall do well, irrespective of ‘whether we sit one day or four days weekly. I would, further point out that if a single honorable member of the Opposition had chosen to make a speech this evening, we could not have passed more than one clause.. Personally, I am prepared to proceed with the Bill until a reasonable hour this evening. The temper of the House, however, is such that though every honorable member has been free to discuss these clauses, not one has availed himself of the opportunity to do so. I shall lay before’ the Prime Minister the representations which have been made, and possibly a similar arrangement will not be arrived- at in future without notification being given to all parties in this House.
Question resolved in- the affirmative;.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I wish to enter my protest against the suggestion that certain clauses in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill have been passed without due consideration being given to them. There are a number of honorable members in this House who devote a large amount of their leisure to a study of the various measures submitted for their approval. We were perfectly aware of the attitude which they would have assumed towards those clauses had they been present in this Chamber. On behalf of myself and others, I entirely resent the suggestion that the provisions in question were passed without due consideration. The statement is not correct.
– This afternoon [ asked the Prime Minister a question in reference to certain communications, which he admitted the General Officer Commanding our Military Forces had received from the Colonial Defence Committee. I asked him -
Does the General Officer Commanding receive communications and advice from this Committee, or from any other ex-Australian Military Authority, without the knowledge pf, or submitting such communications to, the Minister or the Secretary for Defence?
In reply the Prime Minister stated that the General Officer Commanding received no “official” communications from the Colonial Defence Committee. He laid such emphasis upon the word “ official “ that he evidently intended his answer to imply that unofficial communications were received by that officer. Personally, I do not think that the General Officer Commanding should receive communications from any external authority, such as he evidently is receiving, unless they are official.
– The honorable and learned member says, in effect, that he should not receive a private letter.
– I say that he should not receive any communications from a public body which is organized for a special purpose. Every such communication, I think, should be of an official character. I do not understand why the Prime Minister laid such emphasis upon the word “official,” or why the General Officer Commanding should be allowed to receive any communications from the body referred to, without first submitting them to the Minister of Defence or the Secretary of Defence. There is a very important principle involved in this matter. A democracy has to be jealous of military interference. We have an Imperial officer commanding the Commonwealth forces, and we now find that he is receiving recommendations which he does not regard as official. I should like the Prime Minister to inquire further into the matter.
– I have never heard that he receives any such communications.
– A minute or two ago the right honorable member interjected that it was quite right that the General Officer Commanding should receive private letters from the Colonial Defence Committee.
– From private individuals, I said.
– Then the right honorable member did not understand the subject about which I was speaking.
– The honorable and learned member asserts that the General Officer Commanding has no right to receive communications from the Colonial Defence Committee unless the Minister knows all about them?
– Yes. There is another matter to which I desire to direct attention. Upon the first day that the present Government met the House I complained of the difficulty which is experienced in obtaining from the Civil side of the Defence Department replies to correspondence relating to any matter which is referred to the Military side for its report. I instanced communications which were forwarded as far back as March last, and to which no replies have yet been received. I should like the Prime Minister to repeat his promise that these communications will be attended to.
– I’ shall bring the matter of the communications which the honorable and learned member alleges are being received by the General Officer Commanding under the notice of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence. The principle that is involved is a very important one, and I shall see that the statements made by the honorable and learned member are brought under their notice. Regarding the other matter to which he alluded, I will undertake to say that if such a promise was made by the Prime Minister it will be respected. * Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 7 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 July 1904, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040707_reps_2_20/>.