2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3-30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister if he is yet at liberty to state to the House the terms of the communication in connexion with the New Hebrides question recently sent to tha Home Government ?
– The late Right Honorable Mr. Seddon and myself concurred in a cablegram to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, which has not yet received a reply.
– Is the Prime Minister in a position to inform the House when the report of tha Shipping Commission is likely to be presented?
– I understand from what I have read in the press that the evidence has been concluded, and the
Chairman’s draft report circulated. Without wishing to suggest that there has been delay on the part of the Commission, I should be very glad if the report can be presented very soon, to be considered in connexion with cognate subjects.
– In view of certain statements which have appeared in the Sydney press as to the unequal treatment accorded Australian ships in New Zealand waters compared with that accorded to New Zealand ships in Australian waters, and the unequal imposition of taxation, will the Prime Minister, as far as the powers of the Commonwealth extend, see that any arrangements entered into with New Zealand for the purpose of securing reciprocity are complete and not partial ?
– I am indebted to the honorable member for the first intimation that there is such, a difference of treatment. If he will oblige the Minister for Trade and Customs, within whose Department navigation comes, with references to the statements to which he has referred, the matter will, I am sure, receive the Minister’s best consideration.
– In view of the condition of the electoral rolls in some of the States, and the fact that new distributions have just been agreed to, will the Minister for Home Affairs consider the advisability of ordering a fresh collection of names in those States?
– The collection of names by the police was finished at the end of March of last year, and upon it the printed rolls were based. In New South Wales, Queensland, and some of the other States another collection has since been made by the police for the compilation of the State rolls, and I have consulted the Chief Electoral Officer as to the advisability of obtaining the names so collected, with a view to supplying omissions from the Commonwealth rolls. This information will’ be obtained, and we are taking other steps to the same end, which I will mention in replying to a question on the notice-paper.
– Will the Minister see that this information is obtained in regard to the State of Tasmania?
– And in regard to the State of Victoria?
– It is our desire to obtain such information in regard to every State in which it is obtainable.
– Omissions from the Commonwealth rolls should be made good even in those States where the police have not collected names for the State rolls.
– I am using all means to obtain additional information, but it is impossible to order a fresh collection of names by the police, because of the time required, and because the last compilation was made so recently as March of last year.
– Do the Government contemplate any action with regard to the report of the Old-age Pensions Commission, beyond laying it on the table of the House?
– In the absence of the Postmaster-General, who was Chairman of the Commission, perhaps the honorable member will repeat his question at a later date.
– I addressed a communication to the Minister of Home Affairs a little time ago’ with reference to a proposal of the Public Service Inspector to remove several postmasters from certain districts to other districts. It was brought under my notice that these removals may seriously impair the effective administration of the Electoral Department, since the postmasters concerned are also electoral registrars for the districts in which they are stationed, and I wish, therefore, to know from the Minister what steps he has taken, or proposes’ to take, to safeguard the interests of his Department.
– The honorable member’s letter was referred to the Public Service Commissioner, but before receiving it the Department had asked that electoral efficiency should be considered in connexion with all transfers of postal officials. The matter is now before the Commissioner.
– These officials could be removed to other offices in their present districts.
– Some of the changes are rendered necess’ary by the Public Service classification, but we have asked that the exigencies of electoral administration may be borne in mind in connexion with all transfers of postal officials.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Correspondence relating to preferential trade with South Africa.
Correspondence relating to preferential trade passed by the New South Wales Parliament with reference to the Federal Capital Site.
Report, &c, of the Conference of Commonwealth and State Premiers and Ministers, held at Sydney in April.
Report of the Royal Commission on the Navigation Bill.
Report of the Royal Commission on the Tobacco industry.
Report by’ Mr. W. J. P. Giddings on Dr. Danysz’s proposed experiments for the destruction of rabbits.
Regulations under the Immigration Restriction Acts 1901-1905 - Statutory Rules 1906, No. 10.
Transfers under the Audit Act approved by the Governor-General in Council, financial year 1905-6, dated 12th June, 1906.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Home Affairs, if practical steps have yet been taken to give effect to the desire of the Electoral Office that, to simplify administration, the Commonwealth electorates shall be groups of State electorates, the two sets of boundaries being coterminous ?
– The Prime Minister, at the last Conference of Premiers, asked if anything could be done in that direction to secure electoral uniformity, and the Conference consented to a meeting of (the Commonwealth and State electoral officials, who affirmed the desirability of securing electoral uniformity in this and other matters. The Chief Electoral Officer reported to me on the subject, while the State officers reported to the heads of their Departments. I have made public the report of my officer, and it now rests with the States to take such legislative action as may he necessary to give effect to the reports. T have not received any official information on the subject, but I understand that the matter is now receiving consideration in the States.
– I understand that letters posted on board the vessels of the Orient Royal Mail Steamship Company, when travelling between Australian ports, bear British stamps, but it seems to me that, as the company is under contract to this Government for the conveyance of its mails, that arrangement is a very strange one. I should like to be informed by the Acting Postmas ter-General whether it is in accordance with the regulations.
– I shall be glad to make inquiries into the matter, and may be able to give the honorable member some information on Tuesday next.
-I understand that notices of motion in connexion with the election of a Chairman of Committees have been given by the honorable members for Boothby and Wimmera; but it seems to me that it will be impossible for the House to express its opinion as to the suitability of the candidates for the office unless we commence by a motion affirming the desirability of proceeding to the election of a Chairman, when it will be open for honorable members to suggest the names of desirable candidates. If that step is not taken, I shall feel bound to give notice of a motion suggesting a third name.
– Notices of motion have been given in the interests of two honorable members, and it is conceivable that a difficulty might arise if similar notices were given in the interests of any larger number, because, during the discussion of the first motion, it might be found impossible to move the substitution of the name of a candidate proposed in one of the other motions, on the ground that such an amendment would anticipate the discussion of a. subsequent motion. I fancy that it will be found convenient - though I am not giving a ruling to the effect that this is necessary - to follow the procedure of last year, when I think it was moved that a ballot be taken, though the talcing of a ballot .became unnecessary^ because only two names were submitted. I suggest that the matter be looked into before the motions are brought on, so that some agreement may be arrived at.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
That the Queensland Government would not provide food and clothing for the kanakas about to be repatriated ; that the Federal Government must do it ; and that the same Government must bear the cost of deporting the kanakas to their native islands?
If it be a fact that the kanakas referred to were brought into Queensland by Queensland for the sole benefit of a Queensland industry, does he consider it equitable that other States of the Commonwealth should bear any share in the cost of returning such kanakas to their islands or of maintaining them in the meantime ?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions’ are as follow: - 1. No. 2-5. The Government are awaiting final replies from the High Commissioner of the Western Pacific and the British Resident in the New Hebrides.
As soon as possible after the receipt of these and of the report of the Queensland Royal Commission which is now inquiring into the situation respecting kanakas, the intentions of the Government will be communicated to Parliament. In considering the statement to be then made, regard will be had to the various matters referred to by the honorable member.
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Yes, on the 17th October, 1905, prior to the passage of the Papua Bill, in which no authority was conferred for giving .effect to cither of the proposals at present.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable and learned member’s questions: -
Particulars of all transactions connected with applications will be published in the Trades Marks Official Journal, copy of which will be available for inspection in each sub-office.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether he has received from Mr. J. R. Giddings, editor of Faulding and Co.’s Journal, South Australia, a report of Mr. Giddings’ investigations into the proposed experiments of Dr. Danysz re rabbit destruction; and if he has, will te lay it on the table of the House?
– I now lay upon the table a copy of Mr. Giddings’ report.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– I am informed that–
By Mr. Maxwell. - Did you remark, while this inquiry was open to any one, that you could see half-a-dozen discharges sticking out?- I said there would doubtless be discharges when we came to know who were the instigators of this matter, and it is my opinion now that any man-
By Mr. Maxwell (interrupting witness). - I say Captain Taylor’s opinion is not evidence, and I ask that it be not taken down, if he persists in expressing it.
– I rise to a point of order. [ think that I have a right to ask for direct replies to my questions.
– If, in the opinion of the honorable and learned member, any part of his question has not been answered, it will be competent for him to embody it in a further question, and have it placed on the notice-paper.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
It is desirable that the State Governments should themselves abandon all preferential or deferential rates, which would be abolished by an Inter-State Commis sion, and so save the expense of the appointment and maintenance of such a Commission.
From replies received to inquiries made of the State Governments, it is understood that such rates have been abolished, but the Queensland Government has again been asked as to certain railway rates upon wool between Longreach and Rockhampton, which it is alleged operate unfairly as far as South Australian railways are concerned. The matter was mentioned at the recent Conference of Premiers of States held at Sydney, and apparently none of the State Governments had then any grievance to put forward in connexion with the question. If any definite instances of rates inconsistent with the Constitution are brought under my notice, I will cause inquiry and representations to be made.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– I am informed by the Minister of Defence that -
.- I move -
That this House is of the opinion that, as the introduction of the microbes proposed ,by Dr. Danysz for the destruction of rabbits in the State of New South Wales may prove inimical to human and other animal life of Australia, it should not be permitted except for laboratory experiments.
This matter has been the subject of considerable discussion in the press of Australia - particularly of New South Wales and Victoria - and is of very great interest to the people of the Common wealth. It may be premised that the experiments which Dr. Danysz has been brought out from France to conduct are being carried out under the aegis of the Stock and Pastures Protection Board of New South Wales, and not under Government control. It was originally the intention of the State Government to conduct these experiments, but inquiry proved that they were likely to be rather costly, and the idea was abandoned. The Stock and Pastures Protection Board, which works under the Stock and Pastures Protection Act of New South Wales, then took up the matter, obtained private subscriptions amounting to a considerable sum, and’ made such arrangements with Dr. Danysz as resulted in his coming to New South Wales, and entering upon his work. I do not wish it to be supposed that I have any disrespect for Dr. Danysz. or that I cast the slightest reflection upon his scientific status. He belongs to the Pasteur Institute of France, which is known throughout the civilized world. He is, however, not acting for that body, but entirely on his own account. He has been paid a considerable sum to discover a disease that will prove fatal to the rabbit, and at the same time, harmless to other animals, and to human beings. I believe the Pasteur Institute conducted some experi ments in the Argentine Republic and in California with the object of exterminating some pests there. These experiments were not, however, successful ; whether they were wholly unsucessful, I am unable to say.
– Why did the honable member refer to them if he knows nothing about them?
– I know that the experiments were not successful. Practically the diseases used in the Argentine and California were more or less identical with chicken cholera, and, I understand from information supplied by Mr. Giddings, the editor of Faulding’s Chemical Journal, set up a disease closely resembling swine fever. The rabbit pest is an extremely serious thing for New South Wales. I do not know of anything more serious. The losses caused by the ravages committed by the rabbits can hardly be measured by any sum of money that one could set down. The rabbits do not confine their attention to the rich squatter, but inflict injury on all sorts: and conditions of men. I know that many of the poorer selectors have suffered very much indeed.
– The rabbits are Socialists.
– Perhaps so. Both the selectors and the squatters have suffered very severely, and are still suffering. The means adopted in New South Wales to cope with the pest include the use of wire netting which is prescribed by law, poison which is applied at the option of the pastoralists, and trapping. The use of wire netting has been attended with some success, and, in certain classes of country is, if thoroughly carried out, ali that is necessary. But, unfortunately, the lessees and owners of the land have not applied it with the degree of thoroughness that is demanded, nor have they resorted to the subdivision of paddocks that is essential to complete success. Poisoning is being carried on at the present time to a very considerable extent, and’ with results that are satisfactory enough, but which, at the same time, have their drawbacks. For instance, stock is suffering from the effects of eating, poisoned rabbits. I believe that the crows and other ‘ birds have been destroyed in thousands, and are now1 swearing off rabbits and resorting to a vegetable diet. Trapping, carried on for some time, has lately received an impetus which has placed the industry on a footing altogether different from that which it has hitherto occupied, and one which deserves the most serious consideration from an economic stand-point. On this I shall say a few words later on. It is now proposed to deal with the rabbit pest by the introduction of a virus which will be fatal to the rabbits, but harmless to other forms of animal life. It was proposed that these experiments should be conducted on Broughton Island - an island which is situated to the north of Newcastle, and separated from the mainland by a few miles - in one place, I believe, by only about a mile and a half. The Council of Advice, which has made the arrangement with Dr. Danysz, has erected suitable buildings, and conveyed animals of all sorts there, including a very large number of rabbits, so that everything was in a fit state of preparation for this scientist to commence operations when he landed, a few days ago. Up to last week the Government of New South Wales, apparently, had no intention of doing other than to permit him to carry on experiments upon the island. But a volume of public opinion was aroused in that State - for reasons which I shall presently set forth - which led the Government to realize that it was inadvisable for them to allow this course to be followed. It was shown that the public health might suffer, and that stock was likely to be infected, and a considerable and profitable industry destroyed as the result of these experiments. Now the Act under which noxious microbes may be introduced into New South Wales is known as the Noxious Microbes Act, and I understand that the Government of that State permitted the preparations on Broughton Island under the impression that sections 8 and 9 of that Statute were applicable, although it is very obvious, upon a perusal of its provisions, that section 11 alone governs the introduction of microbes for the purpose of destroying rabbits. Under that section it is not competent for the Minister of Lands, who is charged with the administration of that Act, to permit the introduction of any noxious microbes for the purpose of destroying rabbits or other wild animals, except certain conditions are complied wit,h. Briefly, these are, that experiments, must be made which prove to the satisfaction of the Minister that the microbes are not harmful to human or animal life. The Minister may then issue a proclamation sanctioning their introduction, but he must lay on the table of both Houses of the New South Wales Parliament a notification to that effect thirty days prior to the proclamation taking effect. After the lapse of that time, if Parliament is silent, or acquiesces in the notification, the proclamation may take effect, and such further experiments or inoculation may take place as may be deemed fit. The present position in New South Wales is that the experiments are to be conducted - so the Minister of Lands, Mr. Ashton, says - in a laboratory. I should) just like to say that it is essential, in the interests and welfare of the whole Commonwealth, that these experiments should be conducted in a laboratory, under such rigid conditions as the latest scientific knowledge has shown to be necessary, and under the control of such men as, by training and knowledge, are fitted to safeguard property and health. This is not a question which concerns New South Wales alone. It is very obvious that a disease which may prove fatal to rabbits and to stock in that State is very liable to cross the borders into Victoria and the adjoining States. Therefore, the question is no longer one which it is merely within the province of New South Wales to decide, or one which concerns that State alone. On the contrary, it concerns the whole of Australia. It has been pointed out that the proposed experiments which Dr. Danysz seems to enter upon with a very light heart, and without, apparently, having, considered exactly what effects may flow from them, are fraught with the verygreatest danger. Upon Thursday last Dr. Danysz, in an interview which was published in a Sydney newspaper, said) -
Microbes to scientists to-day were like what trees were to a botanist. They had them all classified. It was an ill-founded fear that in introducing disease amongst rabbits it might spread to stock.
That is very good so far as it goes. But Dr. Frank Tidswell, the microbacteriologist of the New South Wales Health Department, states that it is not a fact that these microbes have been classified. He assumes that they belong to one family, are not easily, if at all, distinguishable, and may introduce diseases which have different symptoms, although the bacteria are practically identical. It has been pointed out, too, that diseases of this sort, passing through various hosts, mav alter their form, their virulence, and their very nature, and that, consequently, a disease which in the rabbit mav assume a certain form, may in a sheep or a human being assume an entirely different form. Professor Anderson Stuart, a man of worldwide reputation, Dean of the Medical Faculty, and Professor of Physiology- at the Sydney University, and formerly president of the New South Wales Board of Health, and chairman of the Prince Alfred Hospital, in a recent interview is reported to have said -
This is not a matter for New South Wales to act in alone, for if the experiments should result in a spread of disease, no frontier will exist in which to confine such disease.
Speaking of the possible results of the proposed experiments - and I would like honorable members to pay particular attention to this - he says -
They will find no organism that will exterminate the rabbits. All they can hope for is something that will be a superior kind of poison - superior in the sense of being a living organism that will be passed on from individual to individual, till, like every other organism of the sort, it loses its virulence.
He gives an instance which is within the knowledge of honorable members who represent New South Wales and some of the other States, mentioning the effect of plague upon rats. He says -
What can be more fatal to rats than plague? But plague does not exterminate the rats, neither will any organism exterminate rabbits. And whatever happens on Broughton Island there will still have to be experiments made in the interior of the continent.
These are the words of a man who is at the very top of his profession in Australia. His statement stands against anything that Dr. Danysz can say to the contrary. Professor Andersen Stuart is a gentleman who - as I have said - has occupied an official position in New South Wales. Moreover, he has the advantage of an intimate knowledge of the peculiarities of the Australian climate, which is so different from that of other countries that it is at least probable that any organism which might perhaps have one effect in Europe and America would have an entirely different effect here. On this point he says -
This means that if they succeed in exterminating or greatly reducing the rabbits on Broughton Island, their methods may fail entirely when applied in the interior of the continent; but, on the other hand, if they fail at Broughton Island, upon the whole, they are more likely to fail in the interior. This is somewhat difficult to express, but putting it in other words, a negative result on the island is more likely to be associated with a negative result in the interior, than a positive result on the island is to be associated with a positive result on the mainland.
Here, then, it is proposed to engage in experiments, the result of which must be - according to the statements of scientific men - at least, extremely doubtful. These experiments may extend, so I understand, over some two years. The contract with Dr. Danysz is for two years, and may be renewed. It is not hoped that anything can be decided before that time. After that period has elapsed larger experiments must be made in those districts of New South Wales in which the rabbit is a real pest. Upon the New South Wales coast at the present time it is not a .pest. 1 Mr. Conroy. - It is fast becoming one.
– I knew that the honorable ;:nd learned member would say that. At the present time, however, we are not dealing with what may happen. As a matter of fact, upon the New South Wales coast the rabbit is not a pest at the present time.
– To what part of the coast is the honorable and learned member referring ?
– I am speaking of the New South Wales coast.
– Upon the coast of Victoria the rabbit is a very serious pest.
– So much the worse for Victoria. However, that is quite immaterial to my argument. My point is that those who are conducting these experiments are men whose whole interests are centred in the central and western districts of New South Wales. It is there that the pastoral industry is chiefly carried on. There the rabbits commit the greatest ravages, and it is there that the sparse population renders the spread of rabbits possible to any great extent. If the population of the Continent were anything like as dense as is that of England the rabbits would not be a pest at all. Where there are manypeople it is not usual to find many rabbits. They are a source of real benefit to the people, if they are allowed to trap them for the purposes of food. I understand that it is now proposed by the Government of New South Wales that the experiments of Dr. Danysz shall be conducted in a laboratory. It is to be noticed, however, that the Government of the State alone have the power of determining this matter, unless the Commonwealth Government chooses to take action to prevent them doing such things as will allow Dr. Danysz and those associated with him to conduct the experiments on Broughton Island. I wish specially to point out that we have a verv imperfect knowledge of bacteriology, and of what microbes are capable of accomplishing. The knowledge of to-day is the antiquated lumber of to-morrow. That which was yesterday accepted without question is to-day set on one side. I wish further to point out that hitherto inoculation has been used chiefly for the purpose of rendering certain organisms immune from specific diseases. In this instance, however, it is proposed not to render any animal immune from disease, but to impregnate one species with a virus which will destroy it. It is almost the universal result of inoculating one animal with a disease that the virus, when introduced in another organism, causes different results and sometimes exhibits different forms and characteristics.
– Speak of it as a polymorphous organism.
Air. HUGHES.- Take, for instance, the attenuated virus from which we get the diphtheria anti-toxin. I do not profess, like the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, to be a bacteriologist.
– I am not a bacteriologist, and I object to a Parliament which is not composed of bacteriologists laying down the law to scientific men.
– I am merely taking the liberty and the opportunity to set before honorable members the statements of a matured and reputable scientist like Professor Anderson Stuart against those of the Council of Advice of the Pastoralists’ Protection Board of New South Wales.
– And Dr. Cherry of Victoria.
– And other medical gentlemen, if honorable members please, whose knowledge of bacteriology is about as interesting and as valuable as would be the opinion of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa on an obscure point in ecclesiastical law. I was saying that heretofore it has not been the practice to use microbes for the purpose of curing disease or rendering an organism immune from attack. We do not know what will follow from these proposed experiments, but what we do know is that the probabilities are, first, that no culture can be produced that will exterminate rabbits. We have Professor Anderson Stuart’s statement for that, and Dr. Danysz’s admission, and the admission of all sorts of men, and I think it is not the hope of any section of the community, not even of the pastoralists, that anything will exterminate rabbits. All that can be expected is that their numbers may be diminished. On the one hand we have the chance of a partial diminution in the number of rabbits, and on the other we have the certainty that a disease will be introduced which mav affect the health of the community and the health of other organisms, such as sheep or cattle. The President of the Linneari Society of New South Wales, speaking lately on this project of destroying rabbits bv disease, said that -
Taking past experience .as a guide, it does seem desirable to be belter assured than we are that the disease in question will confine itself to the rabbit. We have a parallel case in the plague baccilus, as affecting man and the rat in common, the latter being, like the rabbit, a rodent. The disease only kills those individuals which are susceptible, leaving others sufficiently resistant to recover or to escape infection altogether.
I wish to point out that, so far as we know, there never has been a baccilus
– Will the honorable and learned gentleman use the term “ bacteria,” which will embrace all forms of microorganisms.
– f will use the word microbe.” which I understand is a generic term. There never has been a microbe which has exterminated any spe cies. The plague in the Middle Ages swept over Europe, and people who were not immune, as the result of previous attacks, were killed in considerable numbers ; but I do not suppose that it will be contended1 that more than 50 per cent, of the people subjected to that visitationwere destroyed. In the Fijian Islands some forty or fifty years ago an epidemic of measles broke out amongst the people who had never had measles, and who were consequently susceptible to the disease, and some 40,000 of them were swept away. This was the effect of a disease which amongst ourselves, who are practically immune from its attacks, is considered a small matter.
– Under similar conditions of exposure many of our people would have died.
– It does not matter. The disease swept, off a great number of the Fijians, but it did not exterminate the whole of the Fijian nation.
– All were nol exposed in the same way.
– The point I am making is that no microbe we know of in any disease, whether it be consumption, cancer, if cancer be caused by a microbe, plague, or any other disease, has ever exterminated a whole species. I point out that during the recent recurrence of plague in Sydney the rats, though affected to a very large extent, recovered, and so far as I know there is no appreciable diminution in their numbers. The number of rats now brought to the destructors is as great as ever, and I do not think that the ravages of the plague have appreciably diminished their number, and at all events it has not affected them to the extent of extermination. It is proposed then ‘to introduce ‘ this disease, and there is no prospect of the extermination of the rabbit. A considerable period of time must elapse before it is possible to discover anything which will seriously iessen their numbers, and in the meantime there is the economic side of the question to be considered, and that I now come to. The extent of the rabbit trade at the present time is extraordinary. I am given to understand that the number of persons employed in New South Wales in connexion with it is not less than 10,000. That is the number directly employed, and includes those engaged in trapping, in connexion with cold storage, the following of the carts, and so on. I believe that some 4,000,000 of rabbits are handled every week in the Commonwealth, and this represents the payment of wages amounting to about .£33,000. I understand that £,1, 716,000 represents the value of the trade of this industry for the last year ; that the industry is growing every day ; that the prices obtained for skins is very high; and that there is no more sign of a reduction in their price than there is of a reduction in the price of wool.
– The honorable and learned gentleman is advocating the protection of the rabbit.
– I do nothing of the sort any more than- I advocate the destruction of the honorable member’s constituents, who are threatened equally with the sheep in his electorate with this microbe, and the putting of rabbits in their place, although if that were done it might, or might not, be fatal to the honorable member’s representation of the electorate. What I do say is that here we have a definite fact, namely, that the industry employs 10,000 persons in New South Wales, and some j 5,000 or more in the Commonwealth. ‘The employment of 15,000 persons is a very big thing. I ask honorable members to remember that the wages paid in the industry are not starvation wages. They are very good wages. I should like to ask every honorable member whether, if * it were proposed that an industry should be started in. the Commonwealth that would give employment to, say, 20,000 people, every legitimate effort would not be used to start it?
– At the expense of another industry?
– Every industry is started at the expense of some other industry. When a railway is run, it is at the expense of the industry of the carriers previously engaged’ in doing the trade to be done by the railway. But it is very easy to show that that objection does not apply here. If the Danysz experiment had for its purpose the absolute destruction of this industry, and the destruction of the pest, as the price of’ the destruction of the industry, that would be a good argument. But when there is only the problematic destruction of the pest, and the certain destruction of the industry, I say that puts the matter in a different light. If I am asked whether I would prefer to have rabbits or sheep, I would say that I would prefer sheep. If, by waving my hand, I could wipe out all the rabbits in Australia, I would do so because sheep would be more profitable. But I say that to enter into an experiment which, in its nature and conclusion is uncertain, but which will assuredly destroy an industry which gives employment to from 15,000 to 20,000 people, and pays ;£33i000 Per week in wages, is a very serious thing, and we should hesitate before we assent to it. Supposing ‘ we had an industry which did employ that number of persons, and it was proposed to destroy it, what would, be said? We can remember that when the Tariff debate was in progress, and it was proposed to destroy an industry employing from- twenty to thirty people, there was a tremendous outcry against such a proposal. At that time it was my privilege to sit with the honorable gentlemen opposite, who alone have the truth in them, as they always have when Ave sit together, and we heard the statement made, “ Here we have an industry employing 1,000 or 1,500 people, and the whole community should be taxed to prevent it being destroyed.” Here we have an industry that employs 20..000 people, and it is proposed to destroy it on the off-chance, not of exterminating the rabbits, but of materially diminishing their numbers. I say that to do that would be a crime - an economic and social crime, a crime against the community. What is the particular trouble which now concerns all Governments in the Commonwealth ? Is it not the question of finding work for the unemployed? In New South Wales to-day the unemployed question. is> largely, though not completely solved owing to the existence of this rabbit industry. Lately I had an opportunity of seeing at first hand the extent to which this industry has gone.I have been through various towns in the country districts of New South Wales, where, had it not been for the rabbit industry, there would be verv great distress. I venture to say that in those places an unemployed man is, comparatively speaking, a rarity.
– Men cannot be got for work on the farms ; they are all rabbiting.
– AH I can say is that the immediate effect of the industry is to absorb a very large number of persons who would probably otherwise be unemployed. I was told by, perhaps, the largest storekeeper in the city of Bathurst, which is by no means in the centre of th« rabbit-infested district, that 500 persons are directly employed in the rabbit industry in and around the town, and that but for that fact things would be in a very bad way there, because of a partial drought from which the locality has suffered. Rabbit trapping is in full swing round towns like Dubbo, Wellington, Mudgee, Parkes, and Forbes, the trappers making £e, £3, £4l and often more’ a week. They are earning that money in destroying a pest for the destruction of which the pastoralists declare themselves prepared to spend a large sum of money in mere experiments, extending over a lengthy period of years. The rabbits are now being destroyed at the rate of 4,000,000 a week, and in rabbit trapping we have a certain and sure means, not of extermination., but of keeping down the pest, which gives employment to a large and increasing number of persons.
– But how many men has the rabbit pest put out of work?
– Those engaged in the rabbit-trapping industry would be a burden on the community if thev were not so employed, and yet it is calmly proposed to destroy that industry. Because it would be the easiest thing in the world to show that, by reason of the present proposal, the industry is trembling on the verge of absolute destruction. It must be admitted’ that, before the proposed experiments can be of any value, they must be conducted in the open air. The most careful laboratory experiments will not determine the effects of inoculation upon rabbits living in the open, air, because the difference between the two sets of conditions would be as great as that between the condition of a patient lying on, his back in a room maintained at a certain temperature, and hia condition when on his feet and in the open. Even if it be demonstrated by laboratory experiments that the proposed inoculation can be made safely, we shall not know what would happen if inoculation took place in the open air.
– That is why .it is proposed to make such careful experiments.
– It is obviously better to have laboratory experiments upon scientific principles than to have no experiments at all. Although they mav not demonstrate anything of industrial value, they will not work any particular harm to the community if certain safeguards are taken.
– Is the honorable member aware that, if experiments had not been made upon animals, an anti-diphtheric serum would not have been discovered? -Mr. HUGHES.- That is an altogether different matter. If any one wished to disseminate a disease in Australia, he could not do it more effectively than by infecting rabbits with it, because they are to be found everywhere that there is grass or crops to eat.
– What about the pleuro experiments? They were made by the class of men who now wish to experiment in the direction of rabbit destruction, and found a remedy for that disease.
– What about cancer, or cacocthes loquendi? It is certain that experiments conducted within the four walls of a laboratory can prove only that, under the conditions under which they are carried out, certain results will follow. But before any knowledge of value can be obtained as to the result of action of the kind proposed, experiments must be made in the open air, and once rabbits living in the open air are inoculated, disease may be disseminated widespread, while, from that very moment, the destruction of our export rabbit trade will commence. If it be thought that any one in England would buy rabbits when it had become notorious that they were being .destroyed by a disease of a wasting character similar to influenza, he altogether misapprehends the credulity of the English public.
– Even if the rabbits were destroyed by a safe method, the rabbit export trade would also be destroyed.
– If only 2 par cent, of the rabbits in Australia are destroyed by the proposed disease, none of the remaining 98 per cent, will be saleable in any of the markets of the world. If there were a chance that one rabbit in every joo was infected with disease, would the honorable member eat rabbits? He, no doubt, has read of the Chicago meat scandals, and probably ois reason convinces him that, in nine cases out of ten, it is perfectly safe to eat American meats ; but I guarantee that be does not take any chances, and I am quite ready to buy as much potted American meat as he will eat.
– I am ready to buy and eat what meat I require.
– The American Beef Trust says that these scandals have meant a loss of ^35.000,000 to Americs. and the practical destruction of their trade, while, on the other hand, the Queensland Meat Export Company and other Australian meat works are reaping a golden harvest because of the exposure of the terrible methods of the Chicago packers. Similarly, directly it is known that Australian rabbits are being destroyed by a disease, no one will buy them. There are persons on the Continent of Europe who breed rabbits for the market - Ostend rabbits they are called. Will it not be to their interest to spread the news that Australian rabbits are being infected with disease, in order to destroy the Australian rabbit export trade ? Would it not be easy to destroy the Australian butter export trade if it could be shown that the Australian dairies are infected1 with a disease which can be communicated to the consumers of Australian butter?
– Millions of rabbits are now poisoned everyyear.
– Would it not affect the Tasmania n apple trade if it could be said that diseased apples are being sent from Tasmania to England? The greatest precautions are now being taken to keep apples infected with comparatively harmless parasites from coming into this market. Not only the rabbit export trade, but the whole of our meat export trade, may affected if it becomes known that Australian rabbits are being killed by the communication to them of an infectious disease.
– The New Zealand trade will be affected too.
Air. HUGHES. - The honorable member for Oxley sent Home a statement to the effect that the Immigration Restriction Act excludes, and was intended to exclude, white British subjects. That was published in the press, and the statement accepted by every person in the United Kingdom, and in other parts of the civilized world. Similarly, gentlemen who call themselves Australian citizens, have made other statements about the intentions of that Act, and of other Acts, and of the intentions of the Labour Party, and of other parties, which, having been accepted, have had the effect, so we are told, of seriously damaging our credit on the English money market. The circulation of contemptible and cowardly slanders of that sort has had the effect of depreciating our securities, so we are told, and of thus injuring Australia. Is it not then obvious that the circulation of the statement that; Australian rabbits are being killed by the com munication to them of an infectious disease would ruin our rabbit industry, and affect our export trade in chilled and frozen mutton? If cablegrams were inserted in the Home press to-morrow to the effect that our rabbits have been infected with a communicable disease, that sheep have taken the disease, and that some of the carcasses sent Home are infected with it, would not that seriously injure, if it did not entirely kill, both our rabbit export and our meat export trade? Furthermore, if the proposed disease proves effective, the skins of. the rabbits which die from it will be useless, because rabbit skins, to be of commercial value, must be the skins of good healthy rabbits. The skin of a rabbit’ which dies in a very short time from phosphorous poisoning is not injured; but it will take some days, and perhaps a fortnight or three weeks, for rabbits to die from the proposed disease, and, in that time, they will lose condition, so that their skins will become lustreless, dull, and thin, and altogether useless.
– The same thing happens when rabbits become subject to chronic phosphorous poisoning. They fall away, and the skin becomes useless,
– How long does that take?
– Sometimes three weeks.
– If the honorable member swallowed as much phosphorous as is contained in the ordinary pellets of pollard sprinkled along the rabbit tracks of New South Wales, he would suffer, not from chronic phosphorous poisoning, but from a poisoning which would cause him in a very short space of time to lose all interest in human affairs. The rabbits in New South Wales do not suffer from chronic phosphorous poisoning ; they have not time. I believe that in New South Wales and Victoria the hat industry is taking, and will take, all the rabbit skins that can be procured. I do not think any rational freetrader will object to that.
– Apparently, the honorable member thinks that the rabbits are a grand asset to Australia.
– The honorable member is very humorous.
– I do not pretend to be humorous.
– I wish to point out that there are very many unfortunate people in Sydney and elsewhere who would never be able to obtain flesh food if it were not for the fact that rabbits are being sold at low prices. If the honorable member for Parramatta proposes to feed the unemployed of Sydney with rabbits that have died of the disease with which they are to be inoculated; he will soon be able to settle the unemployed question in much the same way that Dean Swift proposed to deal with another matter.
– Why does not the honorable and learned member talk sense?
– I recognise that this is not a matter for humorous treatment but for earnest consideration. The evidence given by the squatters before the Western Lands Commission was to the effect that rabbits could’ be kept down bv the use of netting, by trapping, and toy poisoning.
– That is absolutely absurd.
– There is proof that it can be done, and it ought to be done. The rabbits are now being destroyed by trappers, who are earning good wages, and in my opinion the pest can be kept down sufficiently by the present methods. At any rate, on the one hand, we have a certain remedy, which finds employment, for a large number of men, whereas, on the other hand, we are offered an uncertain and dangerous remedy which, if it were successful, would destroy an industry that at present provides employment for 20,000 persons.
– At whose expense?
– I should’ not think that it was at the expense of the squatters of Tasmania.
– It is at their expense - in conjunction with others.
– That toeing so, the whole thing is settled. I venture to saythat there are more rabbits on one run in New South Wales than in the whole of Tasmania.
– That is no reason why the squatters of Tasmania should not endeavour to destroy the rabbits upon their properties.
– I think it is altogether improper to suggest that the rabbit industry is kept up by contributions from the squatters of Tasmania. The interjections which have been made show conclusively where the shoe pinches. The squatter wants the rabbits killed - he wants to get rid of the pest. Is he paying too high a price for the destruction^ of rabbits ? If he is, why does he not lower his price, or devise some other means ? If he is not paying too high a price, what is he complaining about ? The squatters of New South Wales say that it d’oes not matter what they pay - no price would be too high to pay for getting rid of the rabbits. Therefore, thev surely cannot complain of the price they are now paving. The whole point is, however, that the squatters of New South Wales, and doubtless of Tasmania, fine? that men are not available for employment by them at 5s. or 10s. per week when they oan make, say, £2 per week at trapping rabbits. Certainly that is an annoying circumstance. When I was travelling through New South Wales lately, I found that employers experienced difficulty in securing labour at 10s. per week, and had’ to give more. Of course, that is a serious matter; but I do not think that such a consideration weighswith the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, or the honorable member for Parramatta.
– I regard it as a good thing that the rabbits have proved of some value.
– I do not think that the consideration to which I have referred actuates the honorable member for Wilmot. He would rather pay a decent price to the trappers if they could remove the pest.
– That is the point.
– He would prefer to doas I have described, rather than to enter upon a dubious experiment such as that now contemplated. From the stand-point of the honorable member, the whole question is, “ Can the trappers remove the pest ?’r I say that the rabbits are now being got rid6 of at the rate of 4,000,000 per week.
– And they are breeding at the rate of 5,000,000 per week.
– If the honorable member is an authority on rabbit breeding, I arnnot.
– The rabbits cost me more in one week than they have cost the honorable and learned member during the whole of his life.
– I have no knowledge that rabbits are increasing at the rate of 5,000,000 per week. Whence did the honorable member derive his information?
– My own common sense is sufficient.
– I believe that if men. are given a sufficient incentive, they will destroy the rabbits, or, at any rate, keep down the pest to a convenient level.
– Why have they not doneso during the last thirty years?
– Because they could not be expected to destroy their own industry.
– I merely wish to emphasize my argument that the proposed remedy is an uncertain one; that its application will have the effect of throwing out of employment some’ 15.000 or 20.000 men; that it will destroy the export trade in rabbits, and the export trade in skins also, because the skins will be practically valueless if the disease proves effective; that it may seriously affect the export of meat, and imperil the health of the stock of the country, and probably also the health of the people. Under these circumstances, the Federal Government ought to use every power at their., command to confine the experiments to the laboratory. In my opinion, it will be found, after exhaustive experiments, that no safe method of outside experimentation can be ventured upon. The Federal Government should be represented ‘ in connexion with the experiments by a competent scientific man. If the New South Wales Government are not willing, at the conclusion of the experiments, or during their course, to take such steps as are considered necessary for the safety of the health of human beings, and the reputation of Australia, the Federal Government should exercise such power as is conferred upon it by the Constitution. Whether the Constitution confers sufficient power it is for the Attorney-General and the Government to say. Under sub-section 1 of section 51, power is given to regulate all matters connected with trade and commerce, but I shall not venture to sa.y that such powers enable the Government to deal with this matter, even though it certainly affects trade and commerce. Under sub-section ix.. the Government is empowered to take control of quarantine matters.
– I have given notice of a Bill, with that end in view, to-day.
– If the Government’ can bring such a measure into operation before the experiments pass beyond the laboratory stage, and beyond scientific control, they will be in a position to exercise the powers conferred under sub-section ix. Failing everything else, thev may avail themselves of the powers which they are permitted to exercise under sub-section XXVII It must not be forgotten that Dr. Danysz is an immigrant, and that he has introduced, or is about to introduce, certain undesirable things, and that possibly the powers conferred under the section ! have mentioned might be exercised. However, it is not for us to do more than call upon the Government to exercise every power at their command in dealing with this matter. In conclusion, I would say that the matter is one that, viewed from the health standpoint, or from the economic stand-point, is of very great importance. I admit that it is very important to the pastoralists of Australia that the rabbit pest should be dealt with, but it is also important to the whole of Australia to prevent the introduction of diseases that will imperil any considerable industry. It would, in my opinion, be a mistake to attempt to achieve an end by uncertain and dubious means whilst an effective, although, perhaps, not a complete remedy, lies at hand. I would suggest to those honorable members who may not see eye to eye with me, that the whole question depends upon one thing only. If it could be shown that the virus would exterminate the rabbits there would be an end to the question, because this country is too deeply committed to the wool and meat industry to allow anything to stand in its way. lt has, however, been stated both by Dr. Danysz and Professor Anderson Stuart that the extermination of the rabbits is not to be hoped for, and that that, so far as science is concerned, is not possible. Under these circumstances, T contend! that we should discourage the introduction of an uncertain remedy which would destroy an industry that, after all, is making the best of a bad job, and throw out of employment 15,000 or 20,000 men, precipitating upon the market a large number of unemployed at a time when we are unable to deal with those we have.
– I wish to explain exactly what has been done in reference to this matter. When it was announced that Dr. Danysz was coming here, the matter was placed in my hands by the Prime Minister. I felt some difficulty in dealing with it, because, personally. I have a strong dislike to the idea of introducing any disease here, and I am fully aware of the ravages that have been committed by the rabbits in the past, and of the injury that they will inflict in the future if they are not checked. I adopted the course which I thought was best for all concerned. Having been intimately connected with Dr. Tidswell during the first plague outbreak in Sydney, I asked the «New South Wales Government to allow him to come to Melbourne, in order that he might meet Dr. Danysz, and form an opinion as to the nature of the proposed remedy, and the prospects of its success, and act for the Federal Government. Dr. Tidswell came to Melbourne, and had an interview with Dr. Danysz, and made a _ report, upon which I have since acted. I have the report here. It is a report, I think, that should cause honorable members to reflect before hastily sanctioning the introduction of a disease ‘“>f which we know but little. In that report, which there is no necessity for me to read, because it is available to honorable members if they desire to peruse it, Dr. Tidswell states that a confrere of Dr. Danysz - I refer to M. Chamberland - disagrees with the statement of Dr. Danysz, that this disease cannot be conveyed to other animals.
– He does not mention that this particular microbe cannot be communicated. Hie says that the whole family r.f microbes are alike.
– I do not wish to enter into details connected with bacteriology, although I confess that I have learnt a great deal from Dr. Tidswell in reference to this particular pasteurella family. He says that ifc’ is practically the same microbe, but fostered in a different way, that produces swine fever, chicken cholera, and appears in several other forms. He declares that it may be conveyed to other animals besides rabbits.
– He also says that there is’ no need to apprehend disastrous consequences from its introduction.
– The point which appealed to me most was that a confrere of Dr. Danysz - a member of the Pasteur Institute - says the opposite of Dr. Danysz. In such circumstances, it is necessary for the Government to be exceedingly cautious as to what course they shall pursue.
– Has the Minister obtained expert advice?
– I am acting up” on the advice of Dr. Tidswell.
– Does the Minister intend to follow it throughout?
– Yes, absolutely.
– But Dr. Danysz, in making his first application, safeguarded himself against the dangers to which the Minister refers.
– He says that he did, but I do not think that we should accept his mere assurance. He might conceivably make a mistake. I wish honorable members to understand1 that I am not speaking either for or against the destruction of the rabbit. I know what the rabbit is perfectly well, and I am thoroughly familiar with the troubles to which its presence gives rise. I am aware that in some parts of the country, which are closely settled, the rabbit is not much to be feared. Indeed, some of my own constituents do not desire to see it destroyed. In the mountainous portions of the country, i’t is difficult to destroy it, and on the plains its destruction would involve the expenditure of a good deal of money. Acting upon tha advice of the Attorney-General, a proclamation has been issued bv the Government. As a matter of fact, that proclamation was drafted bv hi:mi. The clauses to which the honorable and learned member for West Sydney has referred, were considered by the Government, in conjunction with the preparation of that proclamation. In my opinion, there is but little doubt that the Commonwealth Government have power to deal with this matter, so long as thev retain the microbe germs in their own hands. But when once they allow them to pass into the hands of any State, it is very doubtful whether power will continue to vest in them. I instructed the Collector of Customs at Sydney to meet Dr. Danysz upon his arrival there, to take possession of the microbes under seal, and to hand them over to Dr. Tidswell in his laboratory. Dr. Tidswell, is acting not on behalf of the State of New South Wales in this matter, but on behalf of the Federal Government, and, therefore, the microbes are absolutely under the direction of the Federal authorities. We do not intend to allow them to be taken out of the laboratory.
– Nobody has ever suggested that they should be taken out of the laboratory.
– I am inclined to think that *here was- a slight misunderstanding in the mind of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney upon that point, because he spoke of the doubt which, he said, existed, as to whether the Commonwealth Government has power to act. According to the Attorney-General we have that power, and we are acting accordingly. We do not intend to allow the microbes to pass out of our power, lest we might lose control of them. At the present time they are in the hands of an officer who represents the Commonwealth Government.
– Does the Minister intend to allow laboratory experiments to be conducted ?
– If the resolution be carried, even in its present form, “ Yes.’” Those’ experiments, however, will be under the direct supervision of Dr. Tidswell.
– The motion, if carried, will prevent anything beyond laboratory experiments being undertaken.
– I was coming to that point. What is the object of having experiments conducted in a laboratory unless we are prepared - assuming that they result satisfactorily - to go “further? I would suggest to the honorable and learned member for West Sydney that he might add to his motion words which - if honorable members do not. desire to leave the matter absolutely in the hands of the Government - will have the effect of leaving it in their hands if Parliament be not sitting. Should Parliament be sitting it would then be in a position to decide the matter itself.
– Why should not the Government accept the responsibility of taking action?
– I am quite prepared to accept that responsibility if Parliament will give me the power to do so. I am merely throwing out a suggestion that an addition might be made to the motion so that should it be demonstrated that the microbes are not a source of danger to animal life other than .rabbits, we need not stop at experiments, in a laboratory. If any further action is taken it is intended to conduct experiments upon Broughton Island. I regret very much that the New South Wales Government did nob select an island which was further distant from the mainland. It has been stated that Broughton Island is six or seven miles from the coast. I have been fishing in its vicinity often enough, and I know that if is only about a mile! from the coast.
– What about Lord Howe Island ?
– What would the settlers of that island say if the experiments were conducted! there?
– The rabbits can almost swim -from the mainland to Broughton Island.
– The other day when I was asked the distance between the mainland and Broughton Island, I said that it could not be more than a mile, or a mile and a half. Since then I have taken the trouble to ascertain the precise distance, and I find that it is about a mile . from the island to the first rocks on the coast, and a mile and a-half to the coast proper. In my judgment, the motion, in its present form, is too conclusive. I give the House the assurance that the Government will not relinquish possession of the microbes until we are absolutely satisfied, acting on the advice of Dr. Tidswell, that their dissemination will not be fraught with harm )to the community. Should that officer desire that we should get further advice we shall secure it.
– What power has the Commonwealth to prevent Dr. Danysz from experimenting in a State, and propagating these microbes?
– The Commonwealth Government has no power, .if Dr. Danysz once gets away with the microbes.
– Suppose he propagates the pasteurella within a State?
– If he has not the microbes, how can he do that? I am speaking of this matter purely from a practical stand-point.. The Government can only do their best, and they are doing their best .in the interests of the country. As far as New South Wales is concerned, that State can deal with this matter only after it gets control of it. If we once relinquish our power I do not know that we can subsequently step in and interfere. The proposed experiments, however, will extend over a pretty long period before New South Wales will allow the microbes to be broadcasted. After the proclamation has been issued by the Minister, it has to lay upon the table of the New South Wales Parliament for thirty days before it can take effect. Everything, therefore, is pretty secure. In conclusion. I would again suggest to the honorable and learned member for West Sydney that he should add some words to his motion such as I have indicated, in order that we may go further should it be found that the microbes are not injurious to human or animal life other than rabbits.
Mr. DUGALD THOMSON (North Sydney) [4.10J. - I quite appreciate the serious results which may follow the introduction of disease of any kind into the Commonwealth; but I also recognise the serious nature of the rabbit pest throughout Australia in connexion with the pastoral and agricultural .industries. In addition to the injury which might be wrought by the introduction of any disease if it passed from the rabbits to other animals, there is the further objection that it is very repugnant for us to do anything which is calculated to destroy enormous quantities of animal life. But in the case of rabbits the destruction is already going on. The effort is to kill them, generally by poisoning.
– In rather a painful way, I think, so far as poisoning is concerned.
– Yes, the method of destruction by poisoning is cruel. In some portions of the Commonwealth, nevertheless, there seems to be no hope for our agricultural and pastoral industries if the rabbits are allowed to increase and multiply without being kept in check by poisoning or disease. That being so, we have to face the situation as it stands, and, whilst exercising every care to prevent the introduction of a. disease that is communicable to other animals or to man, we have also to be cautious, lest in excluding from our midst any destructive microbes we deprive our pastoralists and agriculturists of their one hope, so far as large areas of our country are concerned. Then we must remember that the Commonwealth power is very restricted. For example, we as a Commonwealth mav possess certain power which the Minister of Trade and Customs claims, but if any scientist chooses to develop particular microbes in a State our power will be gone.
– Suppose the microbes to be carried over the borders of any State.
– The rabbits would do that, I suppose. I repeat that in such circumstances our power would be gone. Further, it is almost impossible to keep out the virus of the disease which Dr. Danysz wishes to introduce, because any one who chose to do so could conceal a phial containing it in his pocket: Consequently, if dancer is to be prevented, there must be not only Commonwealth, but State action. The Government of New South Wales, where the proposed experiments are to be conducted, consider that they are taking sufficient precautions to avert all danger to human life or to animal life apart from rabbits. Whilst I do not object to the Minister insisting that, in the first instance, the experiments shall be confined to the laboratory, -I do not think that’ this motion should be carried, because it implies that only laboratory experiments shall be undertaken. If, after due precautions have been observed, it is proved to the satisfaction of scientists - and it is only scientists who can decide this question - that the disease which Dr. Danysz desires to propogate is not likely to prove injurious to other forms of life in Australia whilst it will be efficacious in destroying the rabbits, we should allow further experiments to be made outside of a laboratory. I certainly admit that I have not too much hope of the results. ‘ I fear that, in view of the large area over which the pest is spread, and the nature of our ‘climate, it will be very difficult to propagate a disease that will seriously reduce the number of rabbits in Australia.
– In his letter of a few months ago, Dr. Danysz himself was not at all hopeful on the subject.
– The importance of the destruction of the pest is so great that it is desirable that we should not restrict any experiment, so long as we get the strongest assurances that no danger will accompany it. The honorable and learned member for West Sydney who has moved this motion evidently wishes to go much further than its terms indicate. He wishes to prevent any interference with what he describes as a large industry. We are agreed that a great many men are supporting themselves by the killing of rabbits. No one desires to see men thrown out of employment ; if it be such as is good and helpful for the country. That can hardly be called a satisfactory industry which is dependent upon the existence of a pest. . It -would be infinitely better for the Commonwealth, and, in the long run, even for those engaged in the rabbit-killing industry, if we could entirely exterminate the pest. The honorable and learned member for West Svdney says that laboratory experiments cannot prove that there would not be danger resulting from more extended experiments. The honorable and learned gentleman went on further to say that in any circumstances he is absolutely against experiments outside the ln.bora.torv, in the interior of a State. From these statements it is perfectly evident that he wishes no interference with this industry, as he calls it, but which I think can hardly be so described, and yet it can only exist and flourish if a large portion of New South Wales and of other States is abandoned to the rabbits. The effect of that abandonment would be that rabbits would become so plentiful, and the supply sent to foreign markets so enormous that the demand could not absorb it, and there must be a heavy drop in the prices now paid for rabbits and for rabbit skins. That is inevitable. It would then cease to pay even the rabbiters, and the industry which had been there, and (which the rabbit industry had replaced, would not remain to provide employment for those now engaged in rabbiting. I have lately been in some of the rabbitinfested districts, where men are making excellent wages from rabbit catching, though I wish those wages were derived from a more productive occupation. As a result of all the work being done in connexion with this so-called industry, there is no sign of a decrease in the number of rabbits, except on a few holdings, and for a short time. On holdings on which rabbiters are not at present operating, the rabbits go on increasing at a rate that seems equal to the rate of destruction on other holdings. Honorable members will understand that it pays rabbiters well, to destroy rabbits on holdings where they are numerous, and where they can secure very great numbers ; but when the number secured is reduced, though there may still be large numbers remaining on the holding, the rabbiters naturally pass on to other places, where the pest is more plentiful.
– And those left breed up again.
– Of course breeding goes on amongst those that are left, and in dry seasons the grass required for sheep is reduced so very considerably that it is a question in some places whether the sheep-growing industry can long lie continued. Those in occupation of small holdings also suffer greatly from the rabbit pest. It must be remembered that against the amount of money derived from the export of rabbits we must put the enormous outlay on wire netting by sheepgrowers, small and large, and by pastoralists generally.
– And the amount of bonuses paid by the Government for rabbit destruction.
– No one can reckon the total cost of the wire netting which has been erected, but it must have cost an enormous sum. This must be set against any profits derived from the rabbitkilling industry. But above that there is the reduction in the carrying capacity of the country, and the loss to settlers by the raids of the rabbits on their crops. The . evil is becoming so serious that every effort ought to be made to exterminate it, unless we are going to turn portions of the country into rabbit warrens, and go in for the export of rabbits, and their products, instead of the products of sheepgrowing. I have already pointed out that were we to do that, owing to the enormous increase in the numbers of rabbits exported, the value of rabbits and rabbit skins would be so reduced that the industry would cease to be a paying one. The Minister might be expected to, and I am sure he would, take every, precaution in connexion with these experiments, and we should leave the matter in his hands. There is, in my opinion, not nearly so much danger to be expected from that as there is from permitting Dr. Danysz or any other scientist to develop the microbe within a State. That can be done, and we are unable to interfere.
– If the matter were sufficiently serious we could block him under the Immigration Restriction Act.
– But he is here already, and he, and other scientists under his instructions, can carry on the development of the virus in any State. Honorable members must know that we cannot keep it out, because it could be brought into Australia in a small tube which any one might put in his pocket. Remembering that there are so many loopholes by which this virus might be introduced, I believe that it is not right to attempt to tie the hands of the Government in the matter by a motion such as this, which practically says that there shall be no result from any experiment made, since it would limit the experiments to the- laboratory, and would give no authority for carrying it beyond, the mover of the motion stating that the experiment will be useless if it is confined to the laboratory. Surely we are not going to put ourselves into so false %a position? Agreeing as I do as to the necessity for caution and care, and regretting as I do the many evil things which’ have been unnecessarily introduced into Australia, and with one of which we are now trying to deal, I still think that this matter would be better left to the Minister, who will be actuated by a sufficient sense of responsibility. In any case, we should not pass a motion of this kind, which means that there shall be no experiment beyond the laboratory, ‘and that the whole of the labours of the men engaged in this matter, and the expenditure in connexion with it will be rendered useless to the community. If there is to be a motion carried on the subject it should provide that the experiment should not take place beyond the laboratory until such times as scientific men appointed by the Commonwealth and States Governments are agreed that it would be harmless to extend it. The honorable and learned member for West Sydney supplies me with a proposed addendum to his motion.
– I think that the amendment I suggest will meet the honorable gentleman’s objections to the motion.
– I have just said that I think the matter can be safely left ir. he hands of the Government! They are fully alive to the danger, and I am sure are desirous of protecting the country from any liability to injury from the introduction of a serious plague. The honorable and learned gentleman suggests the addition of the words -
Until such time as Parliament is satisfied, or the Government, if Parliament is not in session, that outside experiments will be harmless.
I would prefer it to say, “ Until such time as the Government are satisfied that outside experiments will be harmless.” Parliament could then interfere at any time if it were thought that the Government were acting without sufficient grounds for believing that the virus would be harmless. The honorable and learned member is aware that the Minister is at one with him as to the necessity for caution. I agree, with both that the laboratory stage should precede the outside stage of the experiment, but I would? not favour any motion which, if the test had passed the laboratory stage, would prevent a further test in the larger field where the actual operations would have to be carried on if the introduction of the disease is to be successful for the purpose desired. I have pointed out that after all our power is very limited, and scientists in any of the States ma« experiment if th»y choose to do so. As a matter of fact, in the laboratories of the States at the present time, I believe, there are, if we may so describe them, uncontrolled microbes of a variety of descriptions - uncontrolled by
Governments, that is - which have been experimented with in connexion with disease in our own species.
– I trust that the honorable member is misinformed.
– I know that microbes have been experimented with here, and I feel certain that these microbes are still in some of the laboratories. I do not say that Dr. Danysz’s microbe has been experimented with, though that is quite possible; but I believe there are in our laboratories microbes which may be as dangerous, or more dangerous. Therefore, I think that we should request only that precautions will be taken to insure experiment within the laboratory before the microbe is tested abroad, and, if properly appointed scientists approve of an open-air experiment, we should not pass a resolution prohibiting something being done to get rid of. or reduce, this terrible pest.
.- After hearing what the Minister of Trade and Customs has said, I feel that there is a chance of the proposed experiments being carried out. I do not intend to. discuss the matter from a scientific point of view, by debating whether the use of this or that form of bacteria would or would not be inimical to the best interests of the country ; I merely wish to’ point out that in New South Wales something like .^£700,000 has been spent by the Government of the State in trying - unsuccessfully - to get rid of the rabbits, while probably ten times as much has been spent during the last ten years by private individuals, and the total loss to the community entailed by the pest is almost immeasurable. Eighteen or nineteen years ago, before the rabbits became so plentiful, the New South Wales Government received over £250,000 a year in rent from the Crown lands in its possession, but, because of the damage wrought by the rabbits, it now receives only £70,000 a year, in spite of the fact that settlement has taken place which would otherwise have made the land more valuable, and should have nearly doubled its rental.
– Rabbits breed more freely on the Crown lands of New South Wales than thev do on the privately held lands.
– No doubt; but it is impossible to destroy them on the Crown lands. We are told that the rabbit industry brings in about ,£500,000 a year to those concerned in it; but, even if that be true, the amount so earned does not make up for the loss which the State Government of New South Wales alone has suffered, to say nothing of the expense to which private individuals have been put. . I rent a farm in one of the settled districts of New South Wales, and the farmer next to me, whom I will call C, rents another 120 acres, which, two years ago, kept him and his two sons in comfort. But, as the landlord would not wire-net the place, this man lost two crops last year, and told me he was going to give up the farm, because the rabbits were too much, for him, although three years ago they were hardly ever seen in the district. Another man there, whom I will call T, and who, like C, was engaged in dairying, finds himself unable to grow food for his cows. C’s two sons have had to start rabbiting, and T tells me that he is practically in the , same position as C. Then, whereas I had five men engaged in farm work on my own holding, I have now only one man so engaged, because my landlord will not wire-net the place, and the rabbits are too numerous for me to cope with. If any one doubts my statement, my books are open for his inspection. Thus, within a mile of my house, eight men have been thrown out of employment by the rabbit pest. It may, perhaps, be fortunate that rabbit skins and carcases have some value, and that the cost of reducing the pest has been somewhat lowered for this reason.
– But, still, how great is the loss to the farmers !
– The loss to the farmers is such as no one not engaged in farming can estimate. Then, at Cowra, where last year I had 200 acres under wheat, we took a crop off only forty acres, and this year I would not put on men because I felt sure that I would lose my wheat again, and the expense of wirenetting the place has hitherto been too heavy for me to undertake. But for the rabbits, three or four men would have been engaged in farming that land. In the same district, a man, whom I will call R., who holds 600 acres, put about 150 acres under crop, and harvested from only 25 acres. Then a man named H., holding 220 acres, has not put a single acre under wheat, because he thinks it useless to do so, after the experience of his neighbours, until he has wire-netted his holding, and I am joining with him in wire-netting. Thus, where there should be a number of men employed in agriculture, there are only a few rabbiters, who, instead of being en gaged in adding to the wealth of the country, are only destroying a pest, and earning money which would be better spent in reproductive, investments.. The drought of 1902 would not have been so destructive as it was if it had not been for the rabbits. Dr>’ as the year was, I think that the bulk of the stock would have managed to get through if it had not been for the rabbits.
– That was not so in Queensland.
– My remark may not apply to Queensland altogether, but in many districts there would have been enough grass - dry and inferior though it would (have been - to enable most of the stock to weather the drought. Some people are rejoicing because the rabbit pest has given them access to land which they could not otherwise have obtained, but the distribution of weal tin is not involved in this discussion.. It is obvious that the production of wealth is being hampered by the rabbit pest, the loss to individuals being enormous, notwithstanding that a certain value attaches to the rabbit industry. But if the value is put against the loss done to the pastoral and agricultural industries by the rabbits, the case for the rabbiters fs not arguable. If the 120 acres of land belonging to C. were wire-netted, and used solely for breeding, rabbits, he could not get a living from his farm during more than three weeks a year, or say one week every four months. The profitable occupation of land is the main source of the production of national wealth, and u Aether Parliaments like it or not, experiments will be made by land-holders for the destruction of rabbits. Men will not sit down and allow themselves to be ruined if they can prevent it, and, as experiments for the destruction of rabbits will be made in any case, it is better that they should be made under Government supervision than without proper safeguard. Do not honorable members know that various forms of disease have already been introduced among the rabbits? One or two forms of contagious disease, which are certainly communicable to mankind, are not communicable to the rabbit, and it is reasonable to assume that diseases which are communicable to raibbits may not be communicable to mankind. If it had not been for the work done by the members of tha. Pasteur Institute, we should never have been able to inoculate our cattle to protect them against the ravages of pleuro, and our losses might have been as great as those which were inflicted upon Poland and Russia before Pasteur went there.
– Bud it is now proposed to introduce a new disease to destroy life, instead of saving it.
– If it had not been for the experiments conducted by Pasteur at the cost of a considerable amount of animal life, he would never have enabled us to save our flocks and herds. Before Pasteur was able to produce a serum suitable for inoculation against pleuro, he had to communicate the disease to hundreds of forms of animals. These would certainly be under supervision, but it would be ridiculous to say that they were in his laboratory. The diphtheria anti-toxin would never have been produced’ if disease had not been communicated by Pasteur to horses and other animals. We know of the thousands of lives that have been saved by treatment with diphtheria anti-toxin. The death rate from diphtheria has been reduced from 70 or 80 per cent, to 17 or 18 per cent. Experiments have been made by Pasteur in the course of which he has communicated disease to hundreds and thousands of animals ls.
Air. Hughes. - But he did not turn them loose.
– Nor is it intended to turn them loose here.
– But thev will get loose.
– No more than they got loose in France, Germany, or Russia.
– But the experiments were conducted in the cases referred to with a view to saving life, whereas it is now proposed to destroy life.
– If the experiments are successful, will not the destruction of the rabbits result in saving the lives, of millions of sheep? The honorable and learned member says that we should not permit the introduction of any form of microbe that may be injurious to animal life. The same line of reasoning might have been pursued in opposition to many of the experiments which were carried on by Pasteur, and which have resulted in such great benefit to humanity. The honorable and learned member also said that Pasteur’s experiments were conducted for a good purpose, whereas it was now proposed to introduce disease for a bad purpose.
– I did not say that. I was drawing a’ distinction between beneficent and injurious microbes.
– But the honorable and learned member must recognise that it was only by experiments, in the course of which much animal life was destroyed, that certain microbes were rendered beneficent. We must recognise that the rabbits have cost the country an enormous sum of money, and that if we can bring about a cheaper form of destruction than that now followed, we should adopt it. It is not for us, as unscientific men, to say what is or is not dangerous, because that is a matter outside our province.
– On which side is the weight of scientific authority to-day ?
– At present scientific authority says notihing. Scientific men are very careful. They say, “ We have no data to guide us, and therefore we are unable to pronounce an opinion with regard to a matter which has “not been the subject of experiment.”
– What does Professor Anderson Stuart say?
– He says that very great care should be exercised in the introduction of any fresh microbes into the country. Of course, we are all fully aware of that.
– Is it certain that the microbe which is to be made the subject of experiment is not already in the rabbit in Australia ?
– We are told that it already exists in Canada, and possibly here also-. It is now proposed to cultivate the microbes, and make them more virulent. Whilst we are talking about the danger of destroying rabbits by means of microbes, the people of the outside world who consume our rabbits are running a far greater risk of poisoning. The danger in the case of phosphorus is avoided by the removal of the entrails, but arsenic and strychnine, which are coming into more general use for rabbit destruction, are particularly dangerous. Moreover, the poisons which are now being used to get rid of the rabbits are very destructive of bird life, and I am afraid that serious results to our farmers will follow, because many insect pests are now flourishing to an extent that they have not hitherto done. It would be infinitely better if we could devise some means of destroying the rabbits that would not be attended with fatal results to our insect-eating birds.
– Why not adopt trapping and netting?
– Because those means are not sufficient. The honorable and learned member has a small farm, and the rabbits are moving down towards him. He will probably have a very painful experience within a short time, because the rabbit’s are already within twenty-five miles of his property. I fear that serious results will follow the present destruction of birds by poison. Insect life may increase to such a degree that all our crops will be destroyed. Where the crop grows, various forms of insect life may destroy the whole of the results of the farmer’s work. In my opinion that is one of the contingencies that we shall probably have to face within the next half dozen years. When we come to weigh the pros and cons of this question we must inevitably see that for us to pronounce judgment upon it without entering into a.r. examination of all the facts would be unworthy of any intelligent body of men. In one State alone we know that the decrease in the carrying capacity of the country, owing to the ravages of rabbits, has been estimated at from £8,000.000 to £10.000,000 per annum. From that stand-point it would pay us to give every individual engaged in the rabbit industry a bonus of £10 per week to remain idle if we could absolutely rid ourselves of the pest. In my opinion this motion goes much too far. It objects to the -proposed experiments, because they “ may prove inimical to animal life.’”’ I maintain that experiments, to be of any use, must be conducted outside the laboratory. I would further point out that the microbes with which Dr. Danysz wishes to experiment can easily be introduced in another form, and cultivated here, so that by taking the action suggested by the honorable and learned member for West Sydney we shall be merely depriving ourselves of the services of a skilled bacteriologist.
– Does the honorable and learned member think that the pastoralists would endeavour to defeat the intentions of Parliament in that direction ?
– I am sure that I would. Does the honorable member suggest for a moment that I care two perce for a resolution of this Parliament if it is in defiance of what I conceive to be right?
– The honorable and learned member is an anarchist.
– I am when I reflect upon some of the doings of this Parliament. I think that any well-directed explosion amongst the members of this House, ever, if it worked injury to myself, would do more good than harm. We meet so frequently that apparently we have nothing to do but to be meddlesome. If we proceed to extremes in this matter we shall arouse a large body of public opinion against us on the part of men who are now suffering so keenly from the rabbit pest that they will, if necessary, carry on the work of its destruction by means of disease, secretly. It is only seventeen or eighteen years ago that the New South Wales Government absolutely offered a reward of £25,000 for the discovery of a means for the eradication of the rabbits. The science of bacteriology has advanced so much during the past fifteen or sixteen years that its future can scarcely be calculated. It is true that all the great principles in connexion with that science have been enunciated since 1856. The work of development, however, ha,s progressed slowly, and it is only within the past fifteen years that any considerable strides have been made. I feel verv strongly upon this matter. I am extremely thankful that rabbits and rabbit skins are realizing their present high price, because that induces mien to aid in the destruction of the pest without being paid to do so. If, under proper safeguards, it is found that anything can be done to mitigate the curse of the rabbit, I shall be delighted indeed. But, after all, the public health should be our first consideration.
– How far is Broughton Island from the coast of New South Wales?
– About a couple of miles.
– Complete experiments cannot be carried out in a laboratory.
– Certainly not. The rabbits will require to be under close observation, and will need to be handled every three or four hours. It is idle to suggest that they might swim from Broughton Island to the mainland.
– But a bird might carry the germs of the disease.
– If the germs were destructive the bird would drop dead before if reached the mainland.
– A bird would carry a rabbit that distance.
Mr. CONROY”__ It is necessary that the rabbits shall be kept under the closest observation. There must be no chance of escape for them. If honorable members are familiar with the work which has been carried on by the Pasteur Institute in France, they will know that the dreaded disease of hydrophobia can absolutely be cured in all cases in which the serum is introduced at a sufficiently early stage. But before that discovery was made, an enormous quantity of work had to be undertaken by way of experiment. If the honorable and learned member for West Sydney intends that the proposed experiments in New South Wales should be confined to the four walls of a room-
– The term “ laboratory “ is a well-defined one. ‘
– It was a well-defined term at one time, but it is’ not so to-day. In conducting experiments upon animals, it is necessary that they shall be kept under close observation, but it is not necessary that they shall be confined to the four
Avails of a room, in which the scientist is perhaps preparing his microscopic slides and cultivating the particular form of bacteria which, he wishes to introduce into some other .animal. I altogether object to the form in which this motion has been brought forward. Had it merely expressed the advisability of Parliament appointing some officer like Dr. Tidswell, in conjunction with, others, to see that we incurred no risk of introducing some fresh disease as the result of the projected experiments, it might be worthy of serious’ consideration. But we are merely asked to allow experiments to be conducted by scientific men, who are not likely to sacrifice their reputation for any pittance that they may receive from us. What to them is the approbation of the public? When I see a scientific man striving to win public applause I know that he is not imbued with that love of truth and the spirit of inquiry which alone make the scientific life worth pursuing. He does not understand that to ascertain facts is of much more importance than the consideration of whether or not the truth will please the public. To a man imbued with the proper scientific spirit no’ reward can be offered which is so dear to him as is the approbation of his brother scientists when he is successful.
.- As a general rule I listen with great pleasure to the remarks of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney. Upon this occasion, however, I disagree with the action that he proposes we should take in regard to the destruction of rabbits in Australia.. I was a little bit hurt at the sneering observation which he made towards the close of his address in regard to Tasmania. Let me tell him that I am no more responsible for the smallness of that State than he is for the extent of New South Wales or Queensland, and it is deeply to be regretted that any honorable member should introduce into his speeches references which are calculated to ^engender unpleasantness between the representatives of the different States.
Air. Wilson. - He was not serious.
– That does not matter. The sting was present in his remark, irrespective of whether or not he intended it. The question of rabbit destruction has been before the people of Australia for a very long time.. At various periods the different States have offered rewards for any disease which would effectually combat the rabbit plague, but up to the. present, success has not attended their efforts. As honorable members are aware, the Pastoralists’ Association of New South Wales has expended a very large sum in inducing Dr. Danysz to come to Australia to pursue his researches here. From the moment it was known that negotiations with him had been completed a howl was raised in the various capitals throughout the Commonwealth by persons who are interested in preserving rabbits for export, and also by those who are engaged in securing their skins. Any man. who has detvoted any attention to the subject, must be aware that the rabbit industry is a parasite industry, existing at the expense of industries already established amongst us. If there were no rabbits in Australia, the output of wool, frozen meat, corn, and various other produce, would be enormously increased. The presence of rabbits in the country has been for many years, and still is, a standing menace to the prosperity of Australia. While I should be prepared to prevent the introduction of any disease which might affect human beings or domestic animals, it seems to me that when we have this rabbit pest in Australia, it is our duty to try to find some means of exterminating it as speedily as possible. It must not be forgotten that
Dr, Danysz is a member of the Pasteur Institute, and has already done yeoman service for France. He is the man who only a few years ago cultivated1 a microbe by which, in the course of a very short time, he succeeded in destroying a plague of mice and rats which were practically eating out the farmers in the large district of which Marseilles may be described as the centre, and which threatened to overrun the whole country. This was accomplished without any harm being done to human beings, or to any animals other than mice and rats. Having regard to the character of the man, and his ability, is it likely that he would recklessly attempt to spread a plague abroad amongst rabbits in Australia which would not be confined to them, but which would destroy other animals, and perhaps human beings as well? It is hardly li kiely that he would do anything of the kind. For the reasons I have given, I cannot support the ‘motion, which I look upon as neither more nor less than an electioneering move, an attempt to pander to the large vote controlled by those ad present engaged in catching rabbits for the sake of their skins, and in the export of rabbits.
– How many rabbiters are there in West Sydney ? How can tfe honorable member’s suggestion apply to that constituency ?
– The ramifications of the Labour Party are very wide spread. The rabbiters may be affiliated with labourers in the West Sydney electorate, for all I know to ‘the contrary. Even supposing they are not, we are aware that in Sydney, and also in Melbourne, there are large numbers of persons engaged in connexion with the factories established for the freezing of rabbits for export. As the honorable member asks me for motives, it may be quite possible to trace, in the agitation which has sprung up so quickly against Dr. Danysz’s proposed experiments, a connexion between the establishments in the cities referred to and the rabbit trappers. I have no doubt that this motion was moved for a purpose.
– Shippers in the West Sydney electorate will be affected.
– Is the honorable member judging the matter by the standard of the pastoralists ?
– I believe that the pastoralists are actuated by a desire to destroy the rabbits. It is human nature to desire to make the best of one’s land, and when we find, as I have found, that year after year, in spite of trapping, poisoning, and the erection of wire netting, rabbits continue to increase, or at least that their numbers are not diminished, we are surely entitled to welcome Dr. Danysz, or Dr. anybody else, who is able to provide us with a means, not prejudicial to human life or domestic animals, by which we may rid ourselves of a pest which is as great an incubus to us as the Old Man of the Sea was to Sinbad the Sailor. I have tried every means to destroy rabbits without being able to get rid of them. If those who are taking the side of the rabbiters in this matter could assure us that they will carry on their operations, not only in winter, when the pelts and carcases are valuable for export, but in summer, when they are not so valuable, putting the high prices obtainable in the one season against the low_ prices obtained in the other, I might be prepared to agree with them. Every owner of land knows that the trappers carry on their operations only when the prices of skins are high, and the carcases of rabbits are valuable. At other seasons the owners of land must pay so much a dozen for the killing of rabbits. I ask honorable members to remember that the owner gets no return. While it might be said that his grass is saved, that argument would be good only if he got rid of the rabbits. He cannot get rid of the rabbits, because, unfortunately, in Tasmania, and no doubt the same thing applies in other States, there are enormous areas of Crown lands of an inferior description unfitted for agriculture or grazing, but well fitted for the breeding of rabbits; and when the trapper ceases trapping for a short time, because he has got the numbers down, and complains that he cannot make a living at trapping, the rabbits from the poor Crown lands enter upon the lands of the pastoralist. It may be said that that can be prevented by wire netting, but my experience is that rabbits will climb over a 3 ft. 6 in. net with very little trouble. If it is found that they cannot climb over the netting the trappers assist them by cutting holes in it That has been my experience, and I have no doubt it is also the experience of very many others who have erected wire netting. I suggest to the honorable and learned member for West Sydney that he should accept the very reasonable proposal of the Government, and leave the matter in their hands. So far from throwing any obstacle in the way of Dr. Danysz, if it were in my power to do so I would give him every assistance to enable him to conduct his experiments. I need hardly point out that experiments conducted in a laboratory, and experiments conducted on a wholesale scale, are not always followed by the same results. We might, by means of microbes, succeed in destroying a certain number of animals kept in confinement, when, if we were dealing with the same animals outside, it would by no means follow that their inoculation would be so successful in destroying them. The House, in the best interests of Australia, might very well instruct Ministers to give Dr. Danysz every opportunity to conduct his experiments. We might, as we do in the case1 of an epidemic of smallpox, establish a quarantine station. We might take some island five, ten, fifteen, or twenty miles from the mainland! - I care not where it is, so long as Dr. Danysz could be giver, a free hand to conduct his experiments there.
– What about taking him over to Tasmania?
– I happen to be one of those who possess a fair interest in Tasmania, and, so far as I am personally concerned, I am quite content that Dr. Danysz should try his experiments in that State. I have no fear that a man with his reputation will do anything which would be likely to imperil human life, or other animal life than that of rabbits, in carrying out his experiments in Tasmania or elsewhere. Only three years ago, when a disease broke out in Tasmania amongst my own stock, I had experiments conducted to meet it. We were, to a certain extent, groping in the dark, but I inoculated every sheep I owned in Tasmania with certain germs, to see whether it was possible to cure the disease by that means, and I am happy to say that I was successful. I have no doubt that others would be prepared to :do what I did. However, there is no necessity to select Tasmania, which, although a small island, as compared with the mainland of Australia, is as large as Ireland, and is capable of producing as much intelligence, man for man and woman for woman, as can be found elsewhere. Leaving that aside, I point out that there are a large number of islands on the coast of Tasmania from twenty to sixty miles away, and comprising from twenty-four to 300,000 or 400,000 acres. Some of these islands are let on a three years’ lease by the Tasmanian Government to the highest bidder, and I have no doubt that if the Commonwealth Government, with the liberality which always distinguishes them, chose to do so, they would find it easy to hire one of those islands for three, four, or five years, as the case might be, for the conduct of these experiments, after the removal of the tenants in occupation of it at the present time. J
– The honorable member would not agree to that.
– Why not?
– I thought the honorable member was an anti-Socialist.
– I am not an antiSocialist or an anti anything else. I am for the good of the multitude, as against the minority. It appears to me that the minority in this case represent the freezing companies, of Sydney and Melbourne, and* the rabbit trappers, whilst the majority represent the great producing interests of Australia. The honorable member for Maranoa is a worthy representative of one of the largest pastoral constituencies in Australia. His interests and mine in this matter are identical, and1 he will agree that any proposal to conduct experiments for the purpose of destroying a pest which has existed for thirty years in Australia, is worthy of the best consideration of this Parliament.
Mr. KENNEDY (Moira) [5.30]. - I hope that the honorable and learned member for West Sydney will agree to the amendment of his motion. While I admit that it is essential that all experiments with microbes shall be safeguarded in every way possible, to prevent the communication of diseases to mankind and to animals, I am not ready to go so far as fo vote for the prohibition of such experiments, which is what the motion, as it stands, would do. I suggest, therefore, that the words “ for laboratory experiments “ be left out, with a view to adding the words, “ under the supervision of a board of scientists appointed bv the GovernorGeneral in Council.” It cannot be doubted that the rabbit pest has caused an enormous loss to Australia, and that we have not yet reached the limits of that loss. Notwithstanding the money already expended on rabbit destruction, and the enterprise displayed by those engaged in the rabbit export trade, the number of rabbits is increasing every year, and each year a larger area of country becomes infested with them. It is well known to those engaged in pastoral and agricultural pursuits that the rabbit pest has caused’ ruin to hundreds of people. It has been said that we should consider the value of the rabbit export and fur trade, but I say, after due consideration, that that is not a circumstance to the loss which the rabbit pest has caused to Australia. Notwithstanding all that has been done to destroy the rabbits, the carrying capacity of a great portion of Victoria, and’ of a still larger portion of New South Wales, has been reduced by from 20 to 40 per cent.
– By 20 per cent, in Victoria, and by 40 per centi. in New South Wales.
– Any one who doubts my statement has only to make inquiry for himself to have it confirmed. I can mention numerous districts in Victoria where, notwithstanding the amount which landholders have spent each year in keeping down the rabbits, and the improvements which they have made by clearing, cultivation, and the application of manures, the productiveness of the land, either in crops or in food for stock, has been reduced by from 20 to 40 per cent. It has been said that in inoculating the rabbits with a microbe we shall take risks. Undoubtedly we shall; but if the proposed experiments are conducted subject to proper supervision and control, the risks will be very small. Are we to assume that the Pasteur Institute would send to Australia a representative likely to injure its reputation by taking unnecessary risks; or that the Government of New South Wales would allow the proposed experiments to be carried out without the observance of all due precautions? We have had the assurance of Dr. Tidswell, a man of considerable qualifications, that there are precautions which can be taken to avoid risks. We know practically nothing of the microbe which it is proposed to introduce. Dr. Danysz says that it is already in existence in Canada, and in some countries of Europe, and’ it cannot be definitely said that it is not already present among the rabbits of Australia.
– It has not killed many of them, apparently.
– Possibly it may be here, and may not be active. What is proposed is to experiment, first, to see if the microbe proposed to be introduced is efficient for rabbit destruction, and, secondly, if infection is liable to be conveyed to stock, or to human beings. I would remind those who are opposed’ to these experiments of the great boon conferred on Australia by the experiment conducted with spores or microbes with a view to counteracting disease. It is not intended to inoculate rabbits in the open with the microbe brought here by Dr. Danysz, so long as there is reasonable doubt that it may affect other animals or human beings, and one of the questions to be answered is whether such infection is possible. I am ready to vote for every reasonable safeguard, but it may be that, after the experiments have been carried out, it will be seen that the microbe is unsuitable, and it will not then be used. We know what the scientific investigation of, and experiments with, diseases have done in other directions. We know whathas been the effect of the application of the virus of vaccine for the prevention of anthrax, and how efficaciously that dread disease can now be controlled. I trust, therefore, that Parliament will do nothing to prevent proper experiments with this microbe, always under restrictions which will safeguard human and other animal life, except rabbits. Personally, I cannot conceive that the Pasteur Institute would send an unqualified man out here, or that the health authorities of New South Wales would allow the public health of the State and the Commonwealth to be endangered by the prosecution of experiments without proper safeguards, and I trust, therefore, that the honorable and learned member for West Sydney will allow his motion to be amended in some such way as I have suggested.
.- The honorable member for Wilmot has suggested that the motion has been moved as an electioneering dodge, but, as one of those who intend! to vote for it in an amended form, I wish to say. that there is not a scintilla of truth in that suggestion. What we have to consider is, not whether certain pastoralists will gain by the ‘destruction of the rabbit pest, but whether the introduction of a certain microbe will endanger the health of the people of the Commonwealth, and the stock belonging to them. I intend, therefore, to move an amendment. I have been interested- in the statements made by Dr. Danysz, and those primarily responsible for his presence amongst us, and, while I am not in a position to express a scientific opinion as to whether the microbe which he has brought will serve the purpose intended, and kill rabbits without injuring other animals-
– No one can say that yet.
– Quite so; but Parliament should take up the position that there shall be no introduction of disease among rabbits until a competent tribunal is assured that it will not affect other animal” life. The object of the motion is to prevent the Commonwealth Government from issuing a proclamation sanctioning the introduction of a disease before this Parliament has declared itself satisfied that that disease can be introduced without injury to the community. One reason why we should be very careful in dealing with this matter is that Dr. Danysz has stated that the effect of inoculating rabbits with the proposed disease will be to set up in them an acute form df influenza, which will kill them within a period varying from a few days to three weeks, during which time there will be a discharge from their nostrils, which will taint the pasture upon which they are feeding, and, in this way, be conveyed to other rabbits. From the point of view of an ordinary layman, it is impossible to imagine a more disgusting method of distributing disease than that proposed. I do not say that other means are available, but certainly the method proposed appears to me to be accompanied with the maximum of risk that the disease will be communicated to other forms of animal life.
– That is not for the honorable member to discuss, because he is not an expert.
– I am discussing it, but whether or not my opinion is of any value is another matter. I do not pretend to be a scientist, but I might point out that even those whose opinions are entitled to weight are not satisfied that the microbe proposed to be introduced into the rabbits will not attack other animals. Another aspect of this question has been touched upon by the honorable and learned’ member for West Sydney, and has been rather lightly dealt with by honorable members: opposite, namely, the importance of the rabbit industry to Australia. I do not for one moment claim that the rabbit is a desirable addition to the animal life df the Commonwealth, but, according to reliable figures. 20,000 people are earning their living by destroying rabbits, and a large number of persons would have no flesh food at all were it not that they can procure rabbits cheaply. If we were assured by a scientific committee that the introduction of a certain microbe would result in ridding us of the rabbit pest, a strong inducement would be offered to us to adopt that means of destruction. But when we know for a certainty that the introduction of the microbe would ruin an industry, whereas Ave cannot feel assured that it would rid us of the pest, or even part of the pest, we should certainly look for more information before committing ourselves
– How could’ the industry be destroyed if the rabbits were not killed ?
– The honorable member for West Sydney quoted the case of the (Chicago meat packers, which is at present occupying the attention of the whole world, as an indication of the injury that could be wrought by disclosures such as have recently been made. It is stated by those most directly interested that they will probably lose about £30,000,000 worth of trade. I notice that some British soldiers have refused to eat the products of the Chicago meat packers.
– A great deal of the information that has been published is absolutely untrue.
– If mv honorable and learned friend takes that view, he must admit that there is so much more force in mv contention that if disease were introduced amongst the rabbits as proposed, the rabbit industry- would be ruined at once and for all time.
– What about the arsenic and strychnine that are now being used ?
– The poisoning of rabbits is being carried on in areas other than those in which rabbits are being procured for human consumption.
– Rabbits are being picked up on the phosphorus poison trails and conveyed to Melbourne, but are being rejected by the Government expert.
– The dangers to which the community are now exposed owing to the poisoning of rabbits is a mere nothing compared Avith those which it would have to face if disease were introduced among them. The honorable member for Wilmot stated that for twenty years he had been looking for some effective means of getting rid of the rabbits. I had a good deal of experience in Victoria and New
South Wales prior to my going to Western Australia, and I believe that the rabbit difficulty in Australia would be overcome if the large partially unused areas in the western districts of New South Wales and the magnificent lands in Victoria and Tasmania that are now being used merely for running sheep were brought under closer settlement.
– I quoted the cases of five farms, not one of which has an area of more than 600 acres.
– Yes, but the honorable and learned member spoiled his illustration by stating that the men who have rented the land were not in a position to erect wire netting fences, and that their landlords would not do it. If those farmers had been placed upon land under a Closer Settlement Act, they would have taken all the necessary precautions to keep the rabbits off their holdings. I am perfectly sure that there is no difficulty in keeping down the rabbit pest upon small farms, and that the remedy lies in the direction I have suggested. The amendment that I intend to propose will meet the objections that have been raised bv some honorable members opposite, and will, I think, prevent any action from being taken to disseminate disease among the rabbits until satisfactory evidence has been afforded that such a step can be taken with safety. I move -
That the following words be added to the motion : - “ until such time as Parliament, or the Government, if Parliament is not in session, is satisfied, by the investigation of a duly appointed scientific committee approved by the Parliament, that outside experiments will be harmless.”
– I think that the amendment renders the motion more acceptable. We may rest assured that the New South Wales Government will take every precaution against the introduction of disease that would prove harmful to animals other than rabbits. I gather from conversation with several members of the New South Wales Legislature that they are determined that no undue risk shall be run, and, therefore, the motion, as proposed to be amended, should- meet their views. A great deal has been said in. regard to the importance of the rabbit industry, and it must be admitted that a number of persons are making a living by trapping rabbits. It would, however, be a good thing for Australia if the industry were nearer to being ruined. Then the squatters would have to employ men to keep the pest down, instead of allowing matters to take their course, and leaving the trappers to make a living as best they can. We all know that a great many experiments have been conducted with a view to getting rid of the rabbits. Some little time ago a very high Government official approved of a suggestion that a strip of canvass 200 yards long should have painted upon it a representation of luxuriant grass and other vegetation, and should be so displayed as to attract rabbits into enclosures, from which they could not escape. In my opinion, Dr. Danysz will not succeed in his present endeavours, but I think that those who are interested in getting rid of the rabbit pest should have every opportunity afforded them to put the proposed scheme to the test. Effective safeguards should be adopted to prevent the dissemination of disease until we can feel assured that no harmful results will ensue. I believe that, although rabbits are to be found in South Africa, they have not yet become a pest, because a particular kind of ant makes his way into their burrows and destroys them. Perhaps it would be a good plan to introduce some of these ants into Australia.
.- If it were necessary to adduce any argument in support of the motion now before the House, it is to be found in the prevalence of rabbits throughout Australia. Thev were first introduced bv a squatter, and had some one in the Parliaments of that daytaken action to have their introduction prohibited, his name would be blessed by the pastoralists of to-day. Lack of precaution allowed the rabbit, the sparrow, and other pests to be introduced into Australia. I was under the impression that the proposal would command the unanimous approval of honorable members. Of course, I am well aware that at one time even the squatters themselves did not realize the harm that would ultimately be worked by the rabbit pest. I well remember one land-holder at Geelong, who would not allow anybody to trap or shoot rabbits upon his run. He regarded them as perfectly harmless little creatures, but very soon he became convinced of his error, and was glad that any one should destroy them. In Australia the rabbit is a verv different animal from what it is in the old-world, and Dr. Danysz, as a scientist, mav discover that the microbe which he has cultivated to destroy it mav behave very differently here, owing to the different climatic conditions which obtain, from the way in which it behaves in Europe. It may even refuse to meddle with the rabbits at all, and may attack some other form of animal life. Consequently, it is our duty to see that exhaustive experiments are conducted before it is let loose. Whilst the rabbit has become a serious pest in many parts of Australia, throughout a great portion of the Commonwealth the remedy required is plain enough. That remedy is closer settlement. But in the western part of New South Wales there is admittedly a large area which, under present conditions, is not suitable for that form of settlement. There the wire-netting of runs is impossible, because, owing to the constant drifting of sand, . the netting would be buried within the course of a few years. But, although the pastoralists themselves have sunk a large sum of money to induce Dr. Danysz to come to Australia, it would be madness on our part if we allowed him to conduct his experiments except under proper supervision. In the first instance, of course, those experiments should be confined to the laboratory. The rabbit in captivity in Australia is a very different creature - especially in regard to propagation - from the rabbit enjoying its freedom, and, therefore, it is essential that experiments should also be conducted in the open. Even if the result of the tests applied in the laboratory proves that the disease which Dr. Danysz wishes to introduce is communicable to rabbits and not to other animals, it should not then be allowed to be propagated, except under the closest supervision. For this purpose some island should be chosen which is more remote from the coast of New. South Wales than is Broughton Island, and the experiments undertaken there should be conducted by the same scientists. Even then, unless it could be established that the disease would have the effect of keeping down the rabbits to a greater extent than they are being kept down at present, we should prohibit its spread. I think that the most stringent conditions should be laid down by the Government. I do not believe that any scientist will declare that rabbits can be entirely eradicated by means of disease. That being so. we have to choose between carrying on the wool industry with the added cost ofkeeping down the pest, and the destruction of industries dependent on rabbit destruction by a disease which may contain an element of danger that is at present not recognised. We cannot be too careful in this matter. There is an almost unanimous opinion in New South Wales that Broughton Island is too close to the coast of that State to permit of the proposed experiments being safely carried out there. Those who have seen the Australian eaglehawk know that it is not much trouble for it to carry a rabbit. I have seen that bird carrying an opossum, which is much heavier than a rabbit, and I, therefore, maintain that he could easily carry a rabbit from Broughton Island to the mainland. I think it is right that the Government should, in the public interest, invoke the assistance of Dr. Tidswell to watch the experiments carried out by Dr. Danysz. I do not think that we are justified in leaving the matter to the pastoralists themselves, whose one object is to destroy the pest. I should further like to ask those gentlemen who have planked down£1 0,000 to induce Dr. Danysz to undertake these experiments why they are so tardy in contributing even £1,000 to assist the operations of a constituent of mine - Mr. Rodier, Tambua Station - who for a number of years has been successfully employing a simple and scientific means of combating the rabbits. He challenges anybody to visit his run, and to see for themselves the results of his method. Whilst other places are swarming with rabbits, his holding is practically free of them.
– What means does he adopt to get rid of them ?
– It is simplicity itself. He catches all the males he can outside his holding, and throws them over into his run, and he kills all the females which he traps upon his own land. He claims that this method of keeping down the pest has been successful for a number of years. Why do not the pastoralists assist Mr. Rodier? They declare that they know better than he does. Yet scientific men support the underlying principle by which he has been guided. Some of the money which the pastoralists have contributed to enable Dr. Danysz to carry out his experiments might very well be utilized in the direction I have indicated. Mr. Rodier’s run is near Cobar, in New South Wales.
– It would be very difficult to apply his experiment to the western lands of New South Wales.
– His run is in the western district.
– Pie has only tried his method upon a small wire-netted area.
– He holds a very large area - one which would absorb three or four Victorian runs. Whilst I have every confidence in Dr. Danysz, I claim that we are not doing our duty if we neglect to safeguard the public interest in the way that is proposed in the motion. I am certainly surprised that any honorable member should oppose it, seeing that it aims at making the projected experiments effective. It may not be generally known that in New South Wales an industry has recently been established for the manufacture from rabbits of a sort of bovril. and that this article is now being exported.
– Bovril would be a false trade description.
– It is manufactured in New South Wales. The industry has been in existence there for about twelve months. It has got beyond the experimental stage, and could be profitably carried on in the western district of that State.
– The honorable member is giving the show away verv badly.
– I do not say that the article in question is described as “ bovril.” It is called by another name. It is the essence of rabbit, and a market has been found for it in the old world. With the expansion of that industry, in conjunction with trapping, it is possible that the rabbit pest may be kept down. As the honorable and learned member for Werriwa has pointed out, in his own district the rabbits have increased because the land-holders did not use wire netting. In closely-settled districts we need not worry about the rabbits. Their skins are also used in some of our large industries. Mr. Anderson, of Sydney, is prepared to take all the rabbit skins that he can secure. A big trade is being established in that connexion, and if a higher dutv were imposed upon hats, probably it would attain still larger proportions. That the rabbits are being kept down upon the pastoral runs to-day at a less cost to the grazier than was formerly the case, is admitted bv all parties. Hence we must see to it that no disease is introduced which is not calculated to eradicate the rabbit pest. If it is not likely to do that I, for one, shall be opposed to its introduction. I therefore support the view that we should keep the matter under the control of the Government and Parliament so far as it is in our power to control it. We can reasonably appeal to the States Governments to adopt the same attitude, because of the danger involved and (the effect upon industries which might be productive of as much good as would the introduction of the disease, assuming that it be shown by experiment to be successful in achieving the object in view.
– I have listened to the debate with interest, though it has been somewhat outside the usual course, and we have been treated to dissertations on bacteriology, and to many illustrations of the pest which rabbits are admitted to be in Australia. Self-interest is involved in the question under discussion, because I find that the pastoralists and farming classes in Australia, at their own expense, have invited Dr. Danysz, an expert of world-wide reputation, to visit Australia to deal with the pest. It appears to me to be the duty of Parliament to intervene, if there is any necessity for intervention, on behalf of those who have no personal interest in the matter. We know that the expert has been offered a very large sum of money if, by the introduction of a certain disease, he can bring about the destruction of rabbits in Australia. That is the matter with which he is chiefly concerned, and he is not concerned with the question whether or not he mav be introducing to Australia a pest equal to, or even greater’ than, the rabbits. It is, therefore, the duty of Parliament to step in if it is believed that there is any reason to fear the introduction of a pest which may be injurious to persons who are not immediately interested in the pastoral industry. We have had the statement made that, as a result of the depredations of rabbits, there has been a shrinkage of capital values in the pastoral lands of New South Wales alone to the extent of from ,£8,000,000 to ,£10,000,000. That is the estimate presented only a few mont’hs ago bv the Minister for Lands in New South Wales. His Department estimates’ that the loss sustained by New South Wales from the existence of the rabbit pest amounts to from ,£8,000,000 to £10,000,000, and the further statement is made that the revenue derived from rents of lands in the western division of the State has decreased from £250.000 to ,£70,000 a year. Though there are thousands of people employed in killing the rabbits, and preparing them for export, the loss which would accrue if they should cease to be employed could not be compared with the loss suffered by New South Wales alone from the depredations of this pest. It is singular to note that the rabbit seems to have played rather an important part in the early history of Australia, as well as in its later history. In the early days we owed the introduction of many of our sturdy yeomanry to the fact that in the old world they had shot rabbits which did not belong to them. In my opinion they were unfairly treated in being sent to Australia as compulsory immigrants on that account. But it is clear that the rabbit has occasioned a good deal of distress at both ends of Australian history, and today we are very much concerned with their eradication. It is certainly the duty of the Government to see that all necessaryprecautions are taken to prevent the spread in this country of any disease likely to be injurious to human beings or to stock. The doctors themselves are not satisfied that the disease which it is proposed to introduce will be harmless to human beings and stock. Dr. Tidswell, the official expert in New South Wales, will not guarantee that the introduction of the proposed disease will be without danger to the community, and Dr. Danysz is not. satisfied that it will accomplish the purpose for which he seeks to introduce it. He has come here merely to experiment, and Broughton Island has been set apart for his experiments. I agree with those who believe that it will not be sufficient to conduct experiments in an ordinary laboratory. There must be outside experiments if the efficacy of the proposed disease is to be properly tested, and I think that Broughton Island is a most suitable place for conducting such experiments. I direct the attention of honorable members to the fact, that Rodd Island, which is within half-a-mile of some densely populated districts on the shores of Sydney harbor, was for four years the scene of experiments conducted by the Pasteur Institute to obtain a somewhat similar remedy for the rabbit pest to that which it is proposed that Dr. Danysz shall introduce. The island was, however, properly netted over to prevent the transmission of the noxious germs by means of bird life. Broughton Island is a few miles north of Newcastle, though only one and a half or two miles from the shore. But if it were properly caged in as Rodd Island was, I believe that no danger would be likely to ensue from the conduct of experiments there. I take it that the honorable and learned member for West Sydney merely desires that all necessary precautions should be taken to prevent the spread of an injurious disease. The honorable and learned gentleman has quoted Professor Anderson Stuart, the highest expert authority in Australia, and one who is unbiased, and is not in the pay of the pastoralists, as stating that he questions whether experiments carried out successfully in a laboratory would be found to be equally successful in the interior of Australia, and we know that if the efficacy of the disease is to be proved it must be demonstrated in the interior. The State Government of New South. Wales has provided Broughton Island for the conduct of outside experiments, and have undertaken considerable expense to prepare the place for the operations of the celebrated doctor who is visiting Australia from the old world. I see no danger from the- carrying out of experiments at Broughton Island, if it is netted in as Rodd Island was. It has been shown that a Pasteur element in the possession of scientists in Australia to-day can be made as virulent as that which Dr. Danysz proposes to introduce, and the Commonwealth authorities are unable to control experiments made with that element. Seeing that a number of people for their own protection have subscribed some thousands of pounds to secure a visit from a distinguished European scientist, I think that we should allow him to conduct the experiments which he desires to make, under the eye of the officials of the Commonwealth and States Governments. The Commonwealth Government are apparently inclined to adopt that’ course, and only to permit experiments in a laboratory until a committee of scientists are agreed that no possible danger can accrue from the use of the imported microbe. I agree with previous speakers that much of the difficulty we have experienced in connexion with rabbits has been due to neglect on the part of the people of Australia. Closer settlement would have had a great effect in reducing the ravages of the pest, and pastoralists should have been obliged to erect wire netting and employ labour to combat it. The pest is said to be increasing, and we can feel for pastoralists whose hold- ings have been destroyed. We can also recognise that the matter is one which very seriously affects the Australian export trade. There is another side to this question, because we must consider, not only the export trade, but also the number of persons in Australia who consume rabbits as an article of food’. If an experiment with the proposed disease should be carried out in the interior of Australia without any regulation, people who to-day depend a great deal on that kind of food would be afraid to partake of ft. The honorable and learned member for Werriwa, in dealing with the question, pointed out, as against this objection, that the poisoning of rabbits with phosphorus has had a serious effect on bird life in Australia, to the detriment of farmers, but in doing so the honorable and learned member has shown that injurious results might follow to bird life_ and other life in Australia from the destruction of rabbits by the dissemination of Dr. Danysz’s microbe. I should like to see the people of Australia eating wholesome, healthy mutton, rather than rabbits, but there are many persons of the industrial class in my electorate who are not sheep farmers or pastoralists, and who frequently take advantage of a cheap meat supply in the form of rabbits. They are deeply concerned in this matter, and would not wish to think that they might be eating rabbits inoculated with a microbe which, in time, might have an injurious effect upon them. Some honorable members mav consider that I am not justified in urging that argument, but I think it is my duty as the representative of those people to put it forward, in addition to the others I have presented, as a reason why extra precautions should be taken in connexion with this matter. I believe that sufficient precautions will be provided for if the motion be amended in the way proposed, and that the Commonwealth Government will have the power to protect the industries of Australia. When an expert authority like Professor Anderson Stuart will not guarantee that the proposed disease will bring about the destruction of rabbits in the way represented by those who are paying for the experiments, and Dr. Danysz, as I saw by the report of an interview with him, is not able to guarantee the efficacy of his proposed treatment for years to come, it is clear that something must be done in the interval, and it is the bounden duty of pastoralists to see that wire netting and other means are adopted to decrease the numbers of the pest. The States Governments who own the land must also take the matter into consideration. I have much pleasure in supporting the amendment, because I think it provides for the necessary precautions, and because I believe that the experiment’ should be conducted not only in a laboratory in Sydney, but outside.
– I shall be prepared to give an hour of Government time to this motion after tea, in the hope that honorable members willi be able in that time to close the discussion.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.30 p.m.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin), agreed to -
That the consideration of Government business be postponed until 9 o’clock p.m.
.- In concluding my remarks, I wish to say that the acting leader of the Opposition desired to speak on this subject, because of its importance to the State of - New South Wales, and would have addressed the House during the afternoon, if he had had an opportunity to do so, but another engagement prevents him from Being present this evening. He takes the view that the New South Wales Government have been represented as neglectful of the true interests of the State, and resents that aspersion upon them. I, as a citizen of that State, wish to emphasize my opinion that that Government and the Parliament of the State - which will shortly be in session - are able and willing to do all that is necessary to protect the people of New South Wales from any danger that might come from uncontrolled experiments of the nature of those proposed’ to be undertaken by Dr. Danysz. Dr. Danysz, however, is a scientist of world-wide repute, and is, I am sure,, ready to take every precaution. He has been brought out at the expense of a number of pastoralists, and Broughton Island has been handed over to him for the purpose of his experiments. Mv only concern is that the public health and interests shall not be jeopardized. At the present time, a professor of the Sydney University, who is an expert bacteriologist, refuses to say that the introduction of Dr. Danysz’s microbes amongst our rabbits would not be dangerous to the community, and Dr. Tidswell, the Government Bacteriologist of the State, refuses to advise the Minister of Trade and Customs, at this stage, that the introduction can be safely effected. That being so, it is prudent for us to prohibit any but careful experiments, until the fact is demonstrated that a disease can be communicated °to rabbits without injury to human health or the health of stock. In my opinion, the proposed experiments can be safely carried on at Broughton Island, because, as it is at least a mile and a .half from the shore, there is no likelihood of the germs being conveved from it to the mainland. While I realize the proportions of the rabbit industry, I know that the loss inflicted by the rabbits on the pastoral and agricultural industries is much greater. I am not a country representative, but I have travelled a good deal in the country, and I have often wondered why wire netting has not been more largely used to restrain the ravages of the rabbits, though I know that all sorts of schemes have been tried to reduce their numbers. The honorable member for Cowper has told us that, some time ago, during the drought, it was proposed o engage a. scenic artist to depict on an enormous canvas a landscape covered with luxurious vegetation, with a view to enticing the rabbits to enter a trap prepared for them, and although the idea.seems a preposterous one, I believe that a Sydney professor, who is at the head of one of the great Departments in New South Wales, took shares in the undertaking, and advised others to do likewise. We may form some idea of the value of some scientific opinions when a professor will support a scheme of that kind. In the past it used to be said that there were two great pests in New South Wales - the Abbott family and the rabbit family - and it was not known which was the worst. For the benefit of the uninitiated, I may explain that the Abbott family was a great squatting family in that State. I am not prepared to allow a scientist to disseminate a disease throughout Australia which may destroy other animals besides rabbits, and thus substitute a plague for a pest ; but if the experiments which Dr. Danysz has in view are carried out under proper safeguards, I see no objection to them, and if Dr. Anderson Stuart and Dr. Tidswell finally determine that the disease which he wishes to introduce can be safely disseminated, I shall riot object to its dissemination. Of course, those who eat rabbits have an interest in this matter; but I think it would be better for them to eat wholesome and cheap mutton, and, if we can benefit the pastoral and agricultural industry without doing injury to any other industry, or to the public health, we should take every means to do so.
– The motion appears to me to have been moved with a view to preventing the proposed experiments of Dr. Danysz, because it is feared that the experiments may be successful, and the rabbit industry destroyed. We are asked to affirm that the introduction of microbes for the destruction of rabbits may prove inimical to human and other animal life, and, therefore, should not be permitted, except for laboratory experiments ; but if we are not to go beyond such experiments, we shall gain nothing. The pastoralists who have subscribed to the fund for bringing out Dr. Danysz have acted in good faith, and any opposition tq the proposal should have been raised before he was invited to come out. He received his fee before he left France, and is now on the scene, having brought the microbe culture with him, ready to make his experiments ; but pressure has been brought to bear on the Minister of Trade and Customs, with a view to throwing obstacles in the way of these experiments. There is, however, in force in New South Wales an Act under which the authorities can take, and have taken, every precaution to prevent the reckless handling of microbes. Dr. Danysz is an eminent scientist, of wide experience, whose discoveries have effected the destruction of rodents within a hundred square miles of Marseilles, and who has written a very exhaustive report upon his work.
– He ought to be given the Sydnev plague rats to experiment with.
– The honorable member evidently does not take the matter seriously. It has been reported that there are 10,000 men engaged in the rabbit industry, but they are almost entirely men who have been thrown out of employment in the pastoral and agricultural industries, in consequence of the prevalence of the rabbit pest, and are making only a precarious living, many of them earning less than £1 per week.
– Any number of pastoralists do not pay their men £1 per week.
– Applications for permission to enter holdings in which I have an interest are made to me almost daily, for the purpose of trapping rabbits, and in most cases those concerned tell me that they earn less than £1 a week in that occupation. The pastoralists are, of course, taking every step which they think likely to be effective to keep down these rodents ; but even when they are able to reduce the numbers on their own holdings, there are so many bred on the adjacent waste lands of the Crown, that, even when wire netting is employed to keep them out, they burrow underneath. The rabbits must be eradicated, and ultimately the work must be taken up by the Government. Money has been provided by private subscription for carrying on the experiments, and it now remains for Dr. Danysz to produce a culture that will have the desired effect. He has brought out certain cultures, and if they fail he will endeavour to develop one that will answer the purpose. There is no difficulty in carrying on work of this kind, which, is an every-day matter in the laboratories of the Pasteur Institute, and even in those of the Agricultural Departments of New South Wales and Victoria. Dr. Danysz is an expert, and thoroughly knows his business. Should he fail to produce an effective culture he will not venture to disseminate a dangerous disease. So far, many impediments have been thrown in his way, and the Government are not to be complimented upon having yielded to the pressure of the Labour Party in. this matter.
– Would the honorable member like to see a. culture produced that would destroy the Labour Party?
– The Labour Party are all right, but they are acting unfairly in bringing undue pressure to bear upon a Government that is dependent upon them for its political existence. I think it is undesirable that undue restrictions should be imposed upon Dr. Danysz. If Broughton Island should not prove suitable. Lord Howe Island, or some other similar location might be chosen. There is no reason why a large area should not be enclosed with wire netting to afford the experimentalists the fullest scope. Some time ago experiments were carried on upon Rodd Island in Sydney Harbor, and areas similar in extent on the mainland could be used in various parts of New South Wales. If Dr. Danysz’s experiment prove success ful the work of spreading the disease will have to be performed quickly, because otherwise the rabbits may become immune. Dr. Danysz does not think it possible toabsolutely exterminate the rabbits, although he thinks that all but a very small percentage can be killed. If it be possible for the rabbits to become immune, any other r animal that might by chance be infected would also become immune. I do not think that we need be afraid of any special risk to human life in connexion with the dissemination of disease among the rabbits, because the experiments are to be carried on under the supervision of Professor Anderson Stuart and Dr. Tidswell. It appeared to me that the honorable and learned member for West Sydney did not devote sufficient attention to one aspect of the question. He told1 us that from fifteen to twenty thousand men found employment in the rabbit industry, and that the rodents were being destroyed at the rate of four millions or five millions weekly. No doubt the industry is of paramount importance to those who have embarked their capital in rabbit-freezing works, but some consideration must be paid to the pastoral industry, in which millions of money have been lost, and in which tens of millions more will be expended in vain unless the pest is got rid of. The rabbits are now spreading in all directions. They have already reached the more settled areas, including the wheat-growing areas- round about .Dubbo, Narromine, Trangie, and Wellington, and are becoming, such a pest that the livelihood of thousands of men is being jeopardized. Yet the Labour Party raise a plea on behalf of men who are now engaged in trapping. They represent that these men were previously unemployed, and that, but for the rabbit industry, they would be starving. I decline, however, to believe that the rabbit trappers are entirely drawn from the city unemployed. I know of scores of men who have been deprived of their living, owing to the ravages of the rabbits, and who have taken to trapping as the only means by which they can earn a crust, until the pest is effectively dealt with. It must be remembered that a large area of New South Wales is held under lease, or conditional purchase, and that the lessees or conditional purchasers are not able to keep up their payments to the Government, owing, to their properties having been overrun by rabbits. If the pest were effectively dealt with, the smaller settlers would be especially benefited, and it behoves us to give t:very encouragement to those who are now endeavouring to cope with the evil. When the experiments have been concluded, the Government should take, action without waiting for the approval of Parliament. They should not shirk responsibility, as the Minister for Trade and Customs seems ‘n,clined to do. They should not appeal to Parliament for a decision.
Air. Frazer.- - I think that they are taking up a very proper position.
– If the honorable member desires to retain responsible government, he will look to the Ministry to administer the Acts which have become embodied in the statute-book, without waiting for parliamentary approval.
– A truly responsible Government should carry out the wish of Parliament.
– A Government which awaits a decision of Parliament before discharging its administrative functions, is no more to be commended than one which appoints Commissions to report upon questions upon which it has not the courage to declare its policy. Some reference has been made to the necessity of cutting up large estates, arranging for their closer settlement, and’ having all the holdings enclosed with wire netting. Honorable members who indicate this as a means of coping with the rabbit pest cannot know anything of the great expense involved in erecting wire netting. Thousands of small settlers would have to throw up their holdings if they were called upon to enclose them with wire netting. The netting itself is very expensive ; the work of erection is costly, and a boundary rider has to be employed to keep the fences under close inspection.
Mr. T FRASER We are in favour of holdings around which a man could walk.
– For such holdings, so much more wire netting would be required. The only chance we have of using wire netting effectively against the rabbits is bv enclosing large areas. A ring fence round too square miles would cost much less than the fencing required to enclose 100 areas of one square mile each.
– The honorable member would prefer to see one squatter settled upon land that should support a thousand families.
– The honorable member does not understand that a large. proportion of the country in the Western District of New South Wales is suitable only for grazing purposes. It is absurd to talk about agriculture in the far western districts.
– I was born in those parts.
– Then the honorable member must have been a shepherd, because the agricultural holdings there are insignificant. They are confined to a few favoured tracts along the river flats or along the railway line, in the direction of Trangie and Narromine. The honorable member for Darling referred to Cobar, but from that district we get, not wheat, but copper, silver., and gold.
– Would the honorable member endanger the lives of the whole of the people in Australia for the sake of a few squatters at Cobar?
– The squatters and agriculturists are the life-blood of Australia. They have spent millions of money in developing our natural resources. They have leased’ land where they could, but have in many cases been compelled to buy it from selectors. Scores of men have gone into the pastoral districts, and have taken up land with a view to blackmailing the squatter. Under the land laws of New South Wales, a man could take up a holding under conditional purchase, and before any fences were erected by him, could impound any stock which strayed on to his property. Many selectors have taken advantage of the law to such an extent that they have compelled the squatters, in order to get rid of them, to buy out their holdings at fictitious prices.
– Many of the squatters have been made rich by dummying the land through selectors.
– The squatter did not want to buy the land’, but he was often, compelled to do so. Where a squatter could get a square mile of country for ?3 per annum, he would not elect to pay ?t or ?2 per acre by way of purchase money, and submit to an interest charge of 4 per cent. There are many bond fide small settlers in the eastern and central districts who could not afford to wire-net their holdings.
– What does the honorable member call a small ‘holding?
– These men may take up forty acres if they choose to do so, or they may occupy a square mile of country. The honorable and learned member for West Sydney was in the New South Wales Parliament when the Act was amended from time to time, and he is very well acquainted with its provisions. Although many respectable men are engaged in rabbiting, there are others whom it is undesirable to have on a run, and I have seen the carcass of a sheep, from which a leg has been torn, left on the ground to rot. As a class, rabbiters makes a precarious living at the best. Upon an average, I venture to say that thev earn less than £1 per week, notwithstanding the estimate of the honorable and learned member for West Sydnev that they make double that amount. t wish to protest against the Government shirking the responsibility of administering the Act which is in operation to-day. They have an expert to assist them, in the person of Dr. Tidswell. Let them abide by his advice if it is reliable, and if it is not, let them a.ct upon their own initiative. But by all means, let us know that we have responsible government. Even if the experiments to be conducted bv Dr. Danysz are successful, the author of this motion will still wish to prevent the extermination of the rabbits, because he claims that that would be tantamount to the stamping out of an industry. I say that it is most unfair for the Labour Party to endeavour to prevent the eradication of this pest, which is so destructive in New South Wales. In that State tens of thousands of pounds have already been lost as the result of the ravages of rabbits, and hundreds of people have been ruined bv them. I know of persons who have forsaken their former holdings along the railway line between Sydney and Melbourne, and who have gone to the Darling Downs to make another start, because of the havoc worked by the rabbits.
– There are millions of rabbits on the Darling Downs.
– Doubtless, there will be in the near future. The rabbit likes good land and sweet grass, and he will, find both upon the Darling Downs. I regret that the Labour Party should be found throwing obstacles in the way of the conduct of successful experiments for the extermination of the rabbits. Thev are endeavouring to bring pressure to bear’ upon a weak-kneed Government, instead” of giving the experiments a fair trial.
.- It has been suggested to me that the opinion of a member who has had a medical training may possibly carry some weight in a discussion of this character. But I think that the House is not concerned with the scientific aspect of this question at all. We are concerned, however, with its economic aspect. We have to consider that in Australia there is a veritable plague of rabbits. Alongside that plague it is urged by some that we have a valuable industry. Personally, I fail to see how we can. possibly weigh one thing against the other.
– We have an industry which is kept going at a ruinous cost.
– For once I agree with the honorable member. I d’o not think that we -should regard the rabbit as other than a plague, and if we can discover any means which will relieve us of that plague, we should certainly embrace it. It has been suggested that by the introduction of this disease it is possible that we shall find a remedy ready to our hand’s. I admit that to introduce into the country a disease of which we know absolutely nothing is a very serious matter. At the same time, if that disease will rid us of the rabbit pest, I think that we should at least encourage those who are endeavouring1 to introduce it. The gentleman who has come to Australia from Paris is not a charlatan or a quack. He is a man who, after years of careful study, has made a reputation for himself. We must recollect that in the action which he now proposes to take that reputation is at stake.
– And that of the Pasteur Institute as well.
– We have not the authority to say that Dr. Danysz actually represents the Pasteur Institute, although I believe that he is a student of that institute.
– He is more than a student.
– -We may rest assured that if he comes from the Pasteur Institute he is a man of indisputable honour. He proposes to make, after all, what is only an experiment. He does not claim that he can eradicate the rabbit pest. His object is to ascertain if certain experiments which have been successful elsewhere, will be equally successful in Australia. He comes to us and lavs his plans before the ‘Government of the country. He does not volunteer the nature of the culture that he proposes to introduce, but he gives us to understand that it is a culture in some way connected with certain diseases with which the scientific world is fairly familiar. I am perfectly satisfied, from what I know of scientific investigations, that Dr. Danysz will carry out his experiments in such a way that the interests of this country will be entirely safeguarded. It will be quite sufficient, I think, if the Government place officials of* their own to watch over his experiments. Surely, if a man has a case of extreme sickness in his family, although he may have an opinion of his own in regard to it, and in regard to the treatment that should’ be adopted, he will procure the services- assuming that he is wise - of an accredited physician and place it entirely in his hands. In the same way I contend that we should place our case in the hands of the scientists who are here. If Dr. Tidswell undertakes to supervise the experiments conducted by Dr. Danysz, we may be perfectly satisfied’ that no injury can possibly arise. But I object to this Parliament placing certain bounds upon the action of those gentlemen. I object to the House declaring that they shall conduct their experiments only within the walls of a laboratory, because it is impossible, under such circumstances, to carry them out satisfactorily. Further, I cannot agree with the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, who desires to secure - before the experiments are terminated - the appointment of a committee of scientific experts for the purpose of reporting whether there is any chance of the disease being communicated to other animals or to human beings.
– What is the honorable member’s objection to that proposal ?
– It would simply mean hanging the matter up for ever, because no scientific committee will ever decide whether the disease is communicable or not. Personally I do not think that any good is likely to result from these experiments. Under the conditions which obtain in Australia, it is almost impossible that any disease which we can introduce will eventually exterminate the rabbits, for the simple reason that diseases have a tendency to die out. The virus gradually becomes attenuated”, and the disease dies out of its own accord. But that is no reason why these experiments ‘should’ not be made. If Broughton. Island is within one mile and ahalf of the New South Wales coast, it seems to me that some more remote spot should be selected upon which the experiments should be undertaken.
– In France all the great experiments in the laboratory are conducted) within a mile of great cities.
– But we have suffered so much from the introduction pf what were apparently harmless animals that we must be very cautious in any action that we maytake. I entirely agree with the remarks of the honorable member for North Sydney, and I think that we might safely leave this matter in the hands of the scientific gentlemen to whom I have referred. . We might very well ask them to report upon the experiments, and at a later stage, if it is necessary to do so, we can take further action.
.- I do not altogether agree with the last speaker that this is a matter which should be left entirely to scientists. The Commonwealth Government is charged with the duty of safeguarding the lives and property of the. people, and if any action is calculated to do them an injury, undoubtedly the Ministry should intervene. In connexion with the proposed introduction of a disease for the extermination of rabbits, the Federal and States Governments, in view of the representative and responsible positions which they hold, will be doing only their duty in seeing that no undue risks to the communityare taken. I commend them for the action thev propose to take to secure supervision of the proposed experiments.
– Supervision by experts.
– Yes. At the same time, I ant not one of those who would throw obstacles in the way of experiments made, with the object of discovering a means for the extermination of the rabbit pest, so long as they are carried out under proper supervision. That is all that is being; asked for by the motion.
– It goes a little further.
– The honorable and learned member for West Sydney has agreed to an amendment to that effect, which renders the- motion acceptable.
– I was not present when the honorable and learned gentleman did so, but he assured me that he intended, by his motion, to insure that the lives and best interests of the people of the Commonwealth should be properly safeguarded in connexion with the proposed experiments, and to that extent, I am wholly in sympathy with him. No one denies that the rabbit pest has been a source of very great loss to the people of the Commonwealth, or, so far as one can see, that it will be a source of immense loss in the future. We wish to discover some means of eradicating the pest if possible, and if that be impossible, of bringing it within manageable limits. A great deal of money has. been expended in experiments of different kinds with that object in view, and I have no doubt that other experiments will be undertaken. For instance, considerable expenditure had been incurred before it was discovered that wire netting, was a means of dealing with the pest. Then there was a great deal of expenditure involved in the experimental stages, in the adoption of poisons and mechanical contrivances for cheaply and expeditiously distributing them, to say nothing of the expenditure which has taken place since those methods have been generally adopted as a means of dealing with the pest. Such experiments have been carried on without restriction, but when it is a question of introducing a disease for the purpose of eradicating the pest, we should look into the proposal very carefully, and should satisfy ourselves that the disease will be confined to rabbits, and will not affect other animal life, including that of human beings, as, in such a case, the effect of the remedy would be very much more injurious than the pest. The introduction of diseases of this character calls for the strictest supervision. I confess, in common with other honorable members, that I am not an expert in these matters, and I prefer that they should be dealt with by experts; but the knowledge which we have of the ravages of diseases, especially in new forms, and the fact that many epidemic diseases to which mankind are from time to time subjected may be traced to the lower animals, . is sufficient to warrant the exercise of extreme care in dealing with this matter. Some honorable members have spoken ‘as if the strong objection raised to the indiscriminate introduction of these disease germs, is due to selfish motives, and comes only from those who are interested in the continuance of the rabbit industry, and it is held that they have no concern for the welfare of their fellow citizens. I beg to differ from that statement. I have recently been requested to hand to the Prime Minister petitions bearing upon this matter from different centres of my electorate. I know the people from whom they have emanated, and who were the promoters of the meetings at which they were arranged. I have no hesitation in saying that they are actuated by no opposition to the pas toral industry, and by no desire to maintain the rabbit industry. They view the matter from the wider stand-point of the general benefit of the community, and of the danger to human life which might follow from the unwise introduction of diseases which, while they might be destructive of rabbits, might be equally destructive of human life. What they desire is merely that proper supervision shall be exercised by the Commonwealth and States Governments to prevent undue risks being taken in the introduction of such diseases. I have had to present petitions from the residents of Parkes and other important centres .in my electorate, which” were the outcome of public meetings formed for the purpose of dealing with this question, at which meetings those who favoured the exercise of some control, and also those who wish to have these experiments made without supervision, were equally at liberty to express their views. . Only a few hours ago I received a communication by post from the important centre of Orange to the following effect: -
At a public meeting, held in the Town Hall, Orange, on Friday, 1st June, convened by me, in response to a numerously signed requisition from the citizens and others, the following resolutions were passed, and in compliance therewith I have the honour to transmit them to you : - “ That this meeting of residents of Orange desires to enter an emphatic protest against any person being permitted to introduce into the State any unexplained disease for the purpose of rabbit destruction. Fearing the same may endanger the public health and welfare, we respectfully request the honorable the Premier of New South Wales and the honorable the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth to take immediate steps to prohibit the proposed experiments being carried out in New South Wales territory or m Australia.” “ That the foregoing resolution be forwarded to the Honorable J. H. Carruthers and the - Honorable A. Deakin through the State and Federal representatives of Orange respectively.”
Kindly forward to the Prime Minister as soon as possible.
Plowman, Mayor and Chairman of the Meeting.
I have not press reports of the meeting to hand, but the mayor of Orange presided at it, and the communication which I have just read is the outcome of the discussion which took place. I undertake to say that those who promoted that meeting and attended it were not actuated by any of the petty motives attributed in this House to the opponents of unrestricted experiment in this connexion. They were guided by a desire to see that the experiment shall be so conducted that no danger will be likely to ensue to the lives or property r.f any inhabitants of the Commonwealth from the spread of an unknown disease. There is great reason for this action, as we shall see if we look at the conditions which obtain here. Originally the Commonwealth of Australia was very highly endowed by nature in many respects. There was a remarkable immunity, under the old aboriginal conditions, from many of the diseases and pests from which we suffer at the present time. They have been introduced here from other places, and, although in those places they may not have assumed dangerous proportions, the climatic conditions of Australia have been so favorable to their spread that they have become very dangerous in this country. That is true of the rabbit pest, because so carefully were rabbits preserved as game in the old country that some of our population have been drawn from those who were sent here because they killed the landlord’s rabbits. In this country the rabbits are having their revenge, and land holders who found that, under normal conditions, and before the introduction of this pest, they could hold their land profitably by the employment of a few boundary riders, are now faced with a life-and-death struggle with the pest. The owners of small holdings are also suffering from it,- but chiefly because the large ‘ areas of private and Crown lands by which they are surrounded are breeding-grounds for the rabbits, which overrun their properties. This is an instance of the introduction of a pest for the gratification of some individuals who desired in Australia to ape the landlords of the old country in having game preserves. Another pest that has overrun New South Wales is the fox pest. Foxes were introduced into Victoria, as were rabbits by some landlords, for the purpose of hunting, and so forth. Not very long ago the fox was welcomed as an addition to the animal life of Australia, because it was claimed that foxes would destroy the rabbits, and would not prove to be nearly so great a pest. Recently, in travelling through a portion of my electorate, I found that the fox was considered as great an evil to the stock-owner as was the rabbit - that, instead of killing off the rabbits, he is killing off the lambs, and even the sheep, and is therefore another addition to our long list of pests. The reason why we have suffered from these pests is that, in the past, no proper supervision has been exercised in regard to the introduction of animals and birds. No doubt if, in the old days, objection had been taken to the proposed introduction. of foxes, rabbits, or sparrows, it would have been pointed out that these animals and bird’s do no great injury in the old land, and that it would be ah undue interference with the liberty of the individual to prohibit their introduction here. But we are now asked to permit something much more serious to take place, namely, the introduction of a disease. It is true that if this disease does all that those who advocate its introduction claim for it, it will kill off the rabbits, and thus put an end to the enormous expense now entailed by the means adopted to that end. But the experience of the past, as well as other considerations, justify us in looking upon the proposal with a considerable amount of suspicion. While it is contended that the disease which it is desired to’ introduce will affect rabbits only, competent scientific authorities, and even Dr. Danysz himself, say that that has yet to be demonstrated. Dr. Danysz does not claim that the disease which he has brought with him will realize the expectations of those who advocate its introduction. He says that there are germ (diseases which are very harmful to rabbits, but he admits that it is a matter for experiment whether the disease which he has brought with him is as destructive of rabbits as he supposes it to be, and whether its effects can be restricted to rabbits. Is it too much, then, to ask that the proposed experiments shall be so safeguarded that, if what is hoped for from them is not realized!, the disease will not be disseminated throughout the Commonwealth? In my opinion, those connected with the pastoral industry have made a mistake in their antagonism to all attempts to convert the rabbits into a commercial commodity. In the early nineties, the present Premier of New South Wales, who was at the time Secretary for Lands, convened a conference of those interested in securing the destruction of the rabbits, with a view to devising some effective means, by legislation, or in other ways, to cope with the pest.. The conference met in Sydney, and as the State electorate which I represented was within the affected area, I was a member of it, and1 took part in its proceedings. While it was sitting I had a conversation with the late Mr. Stevenson, then at the head of the Government Board of Exports, who brought under my notice the possibility of converting rabbits into a commercial commodity. He considered that if this were done it would help to deal with the pest more effectively than the methods then in vogue, and he had the experience of Victoria and New South Wales to justify him. I suggested that he should place his views before the conference, and he did so in an address which was listened to attentively ; but, afterwards, the representatives of the pastoral interest expressed themselves strongly against anything being clone in the way of making rabbits a commercial commodity, and it was even stated that any man who seriously brought forward a proposal with that object in view deserved to be sent to gaol for six months without the option of a fine. That attitude towards the rabbit industry has characterized the pastoral industry from the very beginning, and what has been done in the way of making the rabbits a commercial commodity has been done largely in ^ opposition to the pastoralists. Nevertheless, the rabbit industry has forged ahead, until now it has reached considerable proportions. Last year the export of frozen rabbits was so large that on some of the railway lines special trains had to be employed to cope with the traffic, and this year it is still larger. Of course, the traffic in rabbit carcases can be carried on only in districts within easy reach of the railways, and during the cooler months of the year; but during the last six or eight months rabbits have been largely trapped and killed for their skins and furs. Owing to the high prices now obtained for rabbit skins, the trapping of rabbits is taking place right through the central division of New South Wales, and, to show the extent of this business, I wish to read an extract from the last issue of the Peak Hill Express. Peak Hill is a farming and mining town in my electorate, which, though .not large, is fairly prosperous -
As furnishing some idea of the ready money put into circulation in Peak Hill and district by means of the rabbit industry, it might be mentioned that during the past month Mr. W. Roach purchased 16,441 lbs., representing about 128,197 rabbit skins, for which he paid £638 is. 10d. Messrs. F. and J. McAtamney, on an average, paid away ^100 a week during the past seven weeks. There are, also, several other big buyers in town, so that it is practically safe to say fully £2,000 was paid to rabbit trappers about Peak
Hill during May. There are few other industries at present showing a better turnover, but, will it last?
Peak Hill is in the same belt of country as Narromine, Parkes, Forbes, Grenfell, and other towns, where the same traffic is taking place. The men engaged in the industry are not, as the honorable member for Robertson would have us believe, ne’erdowells, who are a nuisance to the settlers because of their thievish proclivities, but respectable working men ; while persons of means are also going into it. I was told the other day, by a fairly representative settler in my electorate, that, during the past six months, he had been trapping rabbits on his land to save his crops, and received more for the skins than he had obtained for his wheat the previous year. Therefore, it is a mistake to suppose that the rabbits cannot be dealt with commercially, or that to deal with them commercially means the perpetuation of the pest. Every rabbit killed means a reduction of the pest, and there should be no antagonism between those engaged in the rabbit industry and the pastoralists who wish for the destruction of the rabbits. I unhesitatingly say that the rabbit pest has assumed such serious proportions that, if ;.t could be wiped out bv any reasonable means, the Commonwealth would benefit more greatly than it can benefit bv the presence of the rabbits in Australia. I protest against) the suggestion that those who are endeavouring to turn the rabbits to commercial advantage are disregardful of the best interests of the Commonwealth, and that they are actuated by unworthy motives in objecting to the introduction of disease. I think ‘that this discussion will result in imparting a great deal of useful information to the public, and that it will have a beneficial influence generally. If the rabbits are to be kept within reasonable bounds, wire netting must be largely employed, and strychnine, phosphorus, and arsenic must also be used. Where land is held in comparatively small areas, the pest can be kept under, but great difficulty must be experienced by large land-holders, and by those whose properties are contiguous to unoccupied Crown lands which have become overgrown with scrub, and practically useless, except as a breeding ground for pests. The large holdings should be subdivided, and the smaller land-holders should use wire netting to enclose their properties. I do not think it possible to introduce any disease that will entirely sweep away the rabbits. The most effective way of coping with the difficulty will be to assist the land-holders by giving them wire netting on easy terms. The settlers do not want the State Government to provide the netting for nothing, but, as has been pointed out, the erection of wire netting fences is very costly, and many landholders are unable to provide the ready money necessary to enable them to purchase the material. If the Government of New South Wales followed the example of the Governments of South Australia and Queensland in the direction of assisting settlers, much good work could be done. In the meantime, it is our duty to safeguard the community against1 the introduction of a disease which might prove a greater curse than the rabbit pest.
– This is a very important matter. The honorable member for Canobolas stated that the signatories of the petitions presented by him were not opposed to the experiments being carried on, but merely desired that they should be conducted under proper supervision. If the petitions were like the resolution he read to the House, they must have been directly opposed to the experiment under any conditions.
– I said that the persons who were protesting were not opposed to any reasonable experiment, but they wished to be safeguarded against the introduction of diseases which might prove a worse curse than the rabbits.
– The honorable member gave us to understand that the petitioners were not opposed to the experiments, but desired that they should be carried on under supervision, whereas the resolution he read was entirely opposed to any kind of experiment. The difference is very important. I believe that the introduction of a certain virus among the rabbits may result in their destruction within limited areas, but I do not think it passible to disseminate amongst them a .disease which will sweep through the country like a fire, and destroy every rabbit in it. I do not see any objection to the experiments being carried out under proper supervision. The New South Wales Government are to be commended for having enlisted the services of the very highest local authority-
– The Federal Government did that.
– Then the credit belongs to them. The New South Wales Government asked the other State Governments whether they had any objection to the experiments being entered upon, and’ so far as I am aware, no exception was taken to the proposal. If the experiments are conducted under proper supervision, there can be very little danger. If Broughton Island is to be selected as the locality for testing the virus, the experimentalists should be permitted to go beyond the four walls of their laboratory, and subject the virus to a practical test where the rabbits have made their burrows. The discussion upon the motion has turned principally upon the question as to which of two industries is entitled to the more consideration. The rabbit trapping industry has been spoken of as being of considerable importance, but as the rabbits are extending they are endangering two of the staple industries of the Commonwealth. Therefore it becomes a question whether we should foster the rabbit industry at the expense of the others, or whether we should show greater consideration for two of our greatest wealth-producing industries than for one which has no special value from a national stand-point. The rabbits have reached the district which I represent, and many small land-holders find it very difficult to comply with the requirements of the Stock Boards. They have been called upon to destroy all cover for rabbits, not only upon their own properties, but upon the adjoining roads. They have appealed to the Law Courts, but have been told that there is no means of escape, that the law requires that they should destroy everything that forms a cover for rabbits, whether upon their own property or upon the roads alongside.
– ‘Surely that is a fair thing.
– It may be fair enough, but I am pointing out how costly it is to deal with the pest. If it were possible to introduce a disease that would destroy all the rabbits at one fell swoop, and at the same time prove harmless to human or other animal life, it would be a grand thing. I do not think that it is possible to bring about any such result, but we should not stand in the way of any experiments that mav be directed’ to that end. We have been told that rabbits have ‘been preserved as game, and have proved very valuable in some of the older countries. That is because of the denser populations there, and if we could increase our population, as the Prime Minister has some dreamy notion of doing, the rabbits might be turned to considerable advantage here. I have no sympathy with those who seem to think: that because men are reduced to trapping rabbits they are criminals. There are many criminals living in higher circles, but they are clever enough to cover up their illdeeds.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Maloney) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Mauger) agreed to -
That he have leave to introduce ; Bill for an
Act relating to military canteens.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Sir WILLIAM LYNE laid upon the table the following paper: -
Digest of the evidence given before the Tariff Commission in reference to -
Spirits and the distillation of spirits.
The wine industry of Australia. (c) Industrial alcohol.
Ordered to be printed.
– I move
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Honorable members will recollect that in November of last year I moved the second reading of a Bill having a similar object to the measure which is now before them. This, however, is not the same Bill. In one or two particulars it is, if I may say so slightly more drastic than was its predecessor. It is not a long measure, and, therefore, I shall not occupy much time in explaining its provisions. But I think it will be recognised by honorable members that it is a rather important Bill, and one likely to command, not only their attention, but that of a large section of the public. Last night I was reminded by the deputy leader of the Opposition that he would like to hear some reasons advanced why this Bill had been introduced. Before I resume my seat I shall endeavour to supply some of those reasons. In the first place there are many persons who claim that legislation of this character is not re quired in Australia. I venture to say that if they will read the results which have followed the formation of the gigantic trusts which exist in other parts of the world to-day-
– In protectionist America.
– Yes, in protectionist America, and which will be created in protectionist Australia if action is not taken to prevent it. This Bill aims at preventing monopolies. If such a measure had been enacted in the United States early in the history of that country, there would not be the huge monopolies which exist there to-day. It is well, therefore, that we should deal with this matter at an early stage in our national life, because the Commonwealth is destined to make very rapid strides. If honorable members have taken the trouble to read’ the attempts which have recently been made to cope with certain monopolies in the United States, they must admit that it would be a sorry thing indeed if similar monopolies were created in Australia. This is not a question of free-trade or protection, but of whether capital shall be allowed to be accumulated to such an extent and applied so that it can dominate not only persons and companies as it does in America, but it is alleged even the Senate of that country.
– I do not know anything about corruption so far as America is concerned and I certainly do not for one moment imagine that there is any corruption to be found in our Senate.
– Corrupt as the United States Congress has been, it has never dared to bring forward a Bill of this nature.
– If the honorable and learned member will allow me the opportunity, I shall tell him what the legislation of the United States during the past few years has been.
– That legislation has encouraged the formation of trusts there, and so will this Bill.
– I am sure that the honorable and learned member will give us credit for introducing a. measure which is not intended to create trusts, but to enable us to dealwith them.
– I am sorry that it will have exactly the opposite effect
– We do not think so. The Bill is divided into three parts, the first of which, however, is
Any person who wilfully, either as principal or agent, makes or enters into any contract, or is a member of or engages in any combination to do any act or thing, in relation to trade or commerce with other countries or among the States -
Penalty : Five hundred pounds, or one year’s imprisonment, or both ; in. the case of a corporation, ^500. sf. Every contract made or entered into in contravention of this section will be absolutely illegal and void.
– Oh, dear.
– The honorable member may laugh, but the matter is a very serious one.
– What will the consumers think of the Minister’s action in putting up the price of goods? Sir WILLIAM. LYNE.- Commodities are cheaper now than they were under freetrade in New South Wales. Clause 4 must be read in conjunction with clause 5, which provides -
Any foreign corporation, or trading or financial corporation formed within the Commonwealth, which wilfully, either as principal or agent, makes or enters into any contract, or engages in any combination to do any act or thing -
Honorable members will note that clause 4 deals with the restraint of Inter-State trade. To-day I heard one honorable member declare that it is not competent for the Commonwealth to deal with this question as between the States. I have obtained the opinion of the Crown Law officers upon the matter, and they hold that the Constitution does confer this power upon us.
– Did not the honorable member refer to trade within the States ?
– No. The honorable member to whom I am referring said that we could not deal with the individual in a State.
– That is so.
– But we can deal with a corporation. If any honorable member disputes that, the Attorney-General will no doubt express his opinion upon the matter.
– We have the power under the corporation clause of section 51.
– The honorable and learned member for Corinella has rightly referred to the other portion of the section.
– This is a very ingenious application of that power.
– It is only a lawyer’s application.
– The two clauses which I have quoted deal with the question of restraint of trade. The Commonwealth is going as far as it possibly can in this regard. Clause 6 contains a definition of what is unfair competition. That provision is simply intended for the guidance of those who have to deal with and’ to administer this Act. Clause 7 is a very important one. It reads as follows : -
Penalty : Five hundred pounds,- or one year’s imprisonment, or both ; in the case of a corporation., Five hundred pounds.
– I can show the honorable gentleman a law on that very point which is 600 years old.
– Probably the law has improved since then. Honorable members will see that in the case of a corporation the penalty is£500.
– There is no imprisonment provided for them.
– I do not know how the Government are going to arraign a corporation.
– I do not know either. The penalty in the case of a corporation is£500, but while there is no provision for imprisonment, it should not be difficult to recover the penalty.
– For some of the acts which might be committed by a corporation £500 would be a very small penalty.
– I quite admit that. The penalty in the case of individuals is£500, or one year’s imprisonment, or both, and it may possibly occur to honorable members that in comparison the penalty in the case of a corporation is too small.
– Is the honorable gentleman criticising his own Bill?
– I am not ; but I think it is only fair to point out the difference in the punishment provided in the two cases. We know very well that we cannot imprison a corporation, and it may possibly be thought advisable that in that case the penalty provided for should be increased. I wish to impress upon honorable members that the clause I have just: read is taken from the Sherman Act of the United States, section 2. This is the provision contained in that Act: -
Every person who shall monopolizeor attempt to monopolize or combine or conspire with any other person or persons to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanour, and on conviction thereof shall be punished by fine not exceeding Five thousand dollars, or by imprisonment not exceeding one year, or by both said punishments, in the discretion of the court.
– Is that Act effective in America ?
– It will be effective as far as their actions here are concerned. I shall quote some cases from America later on. I am sure honorable members will permit me to proceed without interruption, because this is a very important Bill, and I desire to give the clearest explanation of it that I can give.
– Will the honorable gentleman explain the variation in this Bill from the Sherman Act?
– I have no wish to go into details at the present time, but I have read the two provisions, and honorable members will be able to see the variation between them. Clause 8 provides that -
Penalty :five hundred pounds.
– Clause 8 is less stringent than is the Sherman Act.
– I said just now that the Bill is less stringent in some respects than is the Sherman Act, but honorable members will, I think, agree that it is quite stringent enough. Clause 9 provides that-
Whoever aids, abets, counsels, or procures, or by act or omission is in any way, directly or indirectly, knowingly concerned in or privy to -
the commission of any offence against thisPartif this Act; or
the doing of any act outside Australia which would, if done within Australia, be an offence against this Part of this Act, shall be deemed to have committed the offence.
Penalty : Five hundred pounds, or one year’s imprisonment, or both ; in the case of a corporation, Five hundred pounds.
Clause 10 is a sweeping clause, and is likely to be considered a drag-net sufficiently wide to take in a good many offenders. It provides that -
The Attorney-General, or any person thereto authorized by him, may institute proceedings, in any competent court exercising Federal jurisdiction, to restrain by injunction the commission 01 continuance of any breach or contravention of this Part of this Act.
– I assume that the AttorneyGeneral will be prevented from practising if that clause is passed, otherwise he will be in a position to blackmail these people to any extent.
– I am sure that the honorable and learned member will not suggest that.
– As he knows perfectly well, I am not suggesting that the present Attorney-General would do so, but future Attorneys-General might not be so scrupulous.
– The next clause provides that -
That is taken from section 7 of the Sherman Act. Then sub-clause 2 provides that-
That, honorable members will admit, is also a fairly stringent clause. The sections of the Sherman Act from which these clauses are taken read thus -
Honorable members will see that there is very strong legislation in the United States, and the clauses I have just read are adopted from that legislation.
– The trouble is that that legislation has only increased the evil by putting the business into the hands of the big men, and wiping out the small men.
– It has not had that effect, because at the present time in the United States prosecutions against big men are going on. I have dealt with the restraint of trade and . monopoly of provisions. I come now to tha part of the Bill which is intended to prevent dumping. Under this part of the measure it is intended to create a Board of three persons. Under clause 15 it will be found that provision is made for the creation of a Board to deal with these matters. If a report is made to the Comptroller-General that certain things are being done which amount to dumping, he is tq make a report to the Minister, and the Minister, if he sees lit, is to have the power to appoint a Board to deal with the matter. I should have preferred the appointment of a permanent Board, but in the discussion of the matter that was found impossible, because it might, be necessary to deal with something which a Board of a permanent character would know but very little about. Mr. Dugald Thomson. - Are these Boards, then, to be composed of persons in the trade?
– They may be competitors of the persons accused.
– We shall have to avoid that as far as we can. When the measure was being drafted in the first instance the intention was to obtain the services of a Judge. Some of the Judges were appealed to by the Attorney-General in connexion with the matter, but it was pointed out that it might be unwise for a Judge to undertake to decide such, matters, as it would not be a judicial proceeding, and would perhaps be one of those things which it would be very inconvenient for a Judge to deal with. When we are considering the measure in Committee we shall be able fully and freely to discuss the question, and decide whether we should constitute a Board, or should secure the services of a Judge to deal with these matters.
– I suppose that the persons appointed to deal with such matters would occupy honorary positions?
– If a Judge were appointed the work would form a portion of his duty, but I do not think we could expect private persons to act as members of such a Board, and give their time in dealing “with such, matters without a fee. I refer honorable members to the following important clause, defining when competition is deemed to be unfair: -
In the following cases the competition shall be deemed unfair until the contrary is proved : -
– Disproportionate with what ?
– That means beyond the ordinary trade charges. It has been clearly and repeatedly exemplified in the case of the Massey-Harris Company and the International Harvester Company.
– Mr. McKay again !
– It has been stated that in pushing, the machines commissions to the extent of some £26 and £30 have been given for selling single harvesters, which it has been said only cost £40 each.
– Has that statement been substantiated?
– I think that the commissions given on the sale of harvesters were stated in evidence before the Tariff Commission.
– They amounted to 26 per cent, on the selling price.
– That seems to me a disproportionate amount. Who had to pay these commissions ? The farmer !
– Why did not the Minister seize these harvesters in the same way as he seized’ a shipment of Panama hats ?
– I put a stop to the practice, and burst up the ring. During the existence of that ring the farmers in the middle of my electorate, as I was told the other clay, had to pay from£90 to£100 delivered up country for a harvester such as they could buy now for from £60 to£65.
– The complaint now is that these harvesters are being sold too cheaply.
– I do not think that the farmers will say so. This reduction in price has been brought about by the action taken by me.
– It is the height of effrontery to say so.
– I have been so greatly abused for what I did in this matter that it is time the public learned that it was in consequence of my action that the ring was burst up, and the price of harvesters reduced to from£60 to £65.
– Has the price of locally-made harvesters also been reduced?
– I think that the price of the local article has also come down. I am informed that if the farmers combine under certain conditions, they can buy three harvesters for from£50 to £55 each. That reduction in price is due to the action which I took last year, for which I have been so much abused.
– The ring had been broken up before then.
– It was broken up because the importers left McKay. The Minister knows that. , The whole thing was a most dishonest business.
– The Bill provides that the Comptroller-General shall commence any action in connexion with the dumping of goods, and then a board is to be appointed by the Minister, acting on the information of that officer. Clause 16 provides that the report of the board shall be dealt with by the Governor-General, and goods imported in contravention of the measure are to be deemed prohibited goods within the meaning of the Customs Act of 1 901, and the provisions of that Act will apply to them accordingly. As honorable members know, the Customs Act gives the Minister great1 power, and I have been told bv legal authorities that he has now sufficient power, if he likes to exercise it, to prohibit the importation of harvesters or any other machinery ; but, as I do not think that it was intended b” Parliament that the Minister should exercise such power, I shall decline to exercise it until I am clothed’ with the powers provided for in the Bill now before the House.
– Has the honorable gentleman been asked to act under the section of the Customs Act to which he refers?
– It has been suggested to me that I should do so, but I have declined. Clause 17 provides the methods which the Board shall adopt in investigating and reporting.
– Has the Minister drawn any portion of the Bill from another Act?
– I shall read presently what has been done in Canada, where the Ministry and Parliament have taken action to prevent unfair dumping, such as is going on here. The provisions of the Bill were not taken exactly from the Canadian Act. They are practically the same in effect, but the wording is not the same. I have in my possession a full copy of the Canadian and United States legislation on this subject, which I shall lay on the table.
– I thought that the Government were going to print and circulate it.
– If must be printed, if it is to be circulated; but it is rather lengthy. In all cases of prohibition, the report of the Board must be laid before both Houses of the Parliament within seven days after the .issuing of a proclamation, or, if the Parliament is not then sitting, within seven days of the meeting of the next Parliament.
– What happens, if Parliament refuses to ratify the prohibition ?
– Parliament can refuse to’ allow the prohibition.
– But the Minister may have already acted.
– If it is not already provided in the ‘Bill, the Attorney-
General will, no doubt, draft a provision, enacting that Parliament may upset what the Minister ‘has done. There can be no other object, except the securing of publicity, for bringing the matter before Parliament than that honorable members may have an opportunity to express their opinions in regard to these transactions. I have the names of only a few of the trusts in other parts of the world, and it is hard to pick out, from the vast amount of information on the subject, exactly what it is most desirable to give to the House and to the public. I would point out, however, that the International Harvester Trust has under that name a capital of 120,000,000 dollars; the Standard Oil Trust a capital of 97,000,000 or 98,000.000 dollars; and the Steel Trust a capital of 2,000,000,000 dollars, or £400,000.000.
– There is a steel trust here which is going to get extra duties because its shares have jumped up under some promise made by the Minister.
– I know nothing about it.
– The Minister has promised duties on steel for something.
– The honorable and learned member $ not fair in saying that.
Mr. -Conroy. - The Minister must have done so. Otherwise there would not have been a jump up in the shares.
– Honorable members know from my utterances last session what I am in favour of in connexion with the iron industry. I have said nothing more to any one privately than has been stated by me more than once in my public speeches.
– Nonsense ! The shares have jumped up from £250,000 to nearly £2,000,000.
– The honorable and learned member must have been “specking.”
– No, unfortunately. No one told me.
– I have had occasion, twice or thrice, to ask the honorable and learned member to discontinue these frequent excited interjections, and to wait until he has an opportunity to say in a speech what he wishes to say.
– The Consolidated Tobacco Company has, so far as I have been able to ascertain, a capital of 186,000,000 dollars, though it is difficult to follow through the long lists of companies which hang, together under different names. I have a report here which shows the nature of that trust, and I want those who say that there is no danger from it to listen to the list of companies associated with it, I believe that the actual capital of the trust would appear more than I have stated, if the attachment of certain other companies to it could be demonstrated. The Consolidated Tobacco Company was incorporated at Trenton, New Jersey, in 1:901, and is composed of the American Tobacco Company ; the American Snuff Company ; the Havana-American Company ; the American Cigar Company ; the Murai Brothers’ Company of Japan; the Mustard Company of Shanghai, China; Black well’s Bull Durham Tobacco Company; the S. Anargyros (Turkish cigarettes) ; the American Tobacco Company of Canada; the S. Jamatzy Company of Dresden ; the American Tobacco Company of Australia. I think that great injury is being done by the linking of the Australian companies to this trust, which, under the name of Kronheimer Limited, controls the tobacco manufacture, output, and sales of Australia. If honorable members care to go more fully into details concerning these immense companies than I am able to do to-night, they will see that it is about time that some law was passed to enable this Parliament and Government to deal with such monopolies.
– Does the Minister think that the Bill will burst up the tobacco combine here?
– I am not prepared to say that it will do .that, but the probabilities are that its provisions will enable such an investigation to take place in the courts that it will assume a different aspect.
– A Royal Commission has recommended the nationalization of the tobacco industry here.
– This measure will not prevent the nationalization of the tobacco industry. If the measure fails to achieve its object, or even if it succeeds in doing so, it will be perfectly competent for this Parliament to nationalize the tobacco industry. In order to show the ex tent of the operations of the tobacco monopoly, I might inform honorable members that last year 2,045,394 lbs. of manufactured tobacco was imported into Australia, of which 1,319,728 lbs. came from the United States. Of unmanufactured tobacco, we imported last vear 5,371,534 lbs., of which 4,409,915 lbs. came from the United States. The total importations of tobacco, therefore, amounted to, approximately, 7,500,000 lbs. At one time, tobacco was grown to a considerable extent around about Tumut and the Upper Murray, but, at present, very little is being cultivated. I cannot ascertain the quantity that is produced now in comparison with that grown a few years ago, but I believe that the operations of the trust are proving injurious to the industry in Australia, and that they will utterly destroy it.
– Is not the local tobacco grower protected under the Tariff?
– Yes , to some extent?, but what can the grower do against a large combine such as that now operating? The tobacco trust has been formed outside of Australia, and we are; powerless at present to deal with it, whereas if we pass this measure, we shall be able to exercise some restraining influence upon it.
– What are our smokers going to do - will they not smoke tobacco?
– Of course they will. It is not intended to put an end to the production of tobacco in Australia. If the tobacco trust receives a check and finds that it cannot with advantage introduce such large quantities of imported tobacco, both manufactured and unmanufactured, the local production of tobacco must increase.
– But the people will not smoke the local article.
– The honorable member has not the remotest idea of the extent to which local tobacco is consumed. I have heard it complained that the tobacco leaf grown in certain districts contains too much saltpetre, but I have been told that if care is taken in the selection of the tobacco, and of the proper land upon which to grow it, we can produce as good tobacco as can be grown in any part of the world.
– Has the Minister smoked any locally-grown tobacco?
– Yes , I have, and I am still alive to tell the tale. The tobacco monopoly is gradually extending, its operations, and I think that some such measure as that now introduced is necessary to enable us to cope with it.
– How1 does the Minister propose to deal with the Standard Oil Trust ?
– In a few minutes, I shall tell the honorable member how we propose to deal with the Standard Oil T’rust and also with the Steel Trust. The two trusts mentioned stand in exactly the same position towards Australia as does the American- Austral ian Tobacco Trust. They are beyond our control to a certain extent, because they have been organized in the United States. We shall, however, under the Bill, be able to prevent them front’ bringing their manufactures here to unduly interfere with our own industries.
– But we do not produce kerosene ?
– We have produced it in New South Wales. A company with a very large capital - I think that the nominal capital amounts to £600.000 or £700,000 - is building a railway from near Clarence siding to shale deposits some miles distant at a cost of £80.000. The manager told me that if the company were protected he had not the slightest doubt as to the success of their venture, as they have enough shale to last them for any reasonable time. As many honorable members are aware, the Blue .Mountains cover one vast bed of shale, which I hope will be turned to some profitable account.
– Would the Minister force the well oil up to the price of shale oil ?
– If there is plenty of competition, I do not think the price will be forced up. Now I wish to deal with the Steel Trust. That gigantic combination has a capital of £400,000,000. In a report which I have before me it is stated : -
Tt controls through ownership of stock and “community of interest,” many other important iron and steel industries, such as the Bethlehem Steel Co., the Cambria Steel Co., the American Bicycle Co., and the American Can Co., which added about $100,000,000 to the capital. By its “pools” and agreements with competing firms dealing in steel, steel plates, steel sheets, steel billets, wire rope, Sec, about $200,000,000 more is under control. This makes the Steel Trust master of nearly $2,000,000,000.
Until I investigated1 this matter, with a view to affording honorable members some information, I had no idea that this trust had behind it such an immense amount of money. On a previous occasion, I quoted figures showing the value of the iron, steel, machinery, and other manufactures of metal imported into the Commonwealth. Perhaps I may be permitted -to repeat them. In 1899 we imported iron and steel and manufactures of metal to the value of £6.061,157. In 1900 we imported £8,045,673 worth; in 1901, £8)377>788 worth; in 1902, £8,142,154 worth; in 1903, £7,209,259 worth; in 19,04, £6,989,876 worth, and in 1905, £7,140,825 worth.
– Do those returns embrace the value of all kinds of manufactures of iron ?
– Yes. From Canada we received imports valued at £97,520, and from the United States iron and steel products valued at £1,599,769.
– And the balance came from Great Britain?
– No; it came principally from Belgium. The imports for 1905 are given in the following table: -
Imports of Steel and Iron (in all forms) during 1905.
Note. - As regards the following items, metals other than iron, via., copper, tin, zinc., &c, must necessarily form a part, but there are no means of distinguishing such : -
Electrical appliances, Machinery, Mixed metalware, Plated ware, Tin Plates, Metals, n.e.i.
Department of Trade and Customs, Melbourne, 5th June, 1906.
In connexion with the great American Steel Trust, of which the Massey-Harris Trust is an offshoot, it is fitting that I should mention that we imported last year £85,114 worth of harvesters, other dutiable agricultural implements to the value of £189,040, reapers and binders to the value of £14,549, and other implements free of duty, to the value of ,£43,455. Altogether we imported agricultural machinery to the value of £332,156, of which the United States sent us £228,243 worth, and Canada £39,324. The trust which is at present trying to grasp our trade and destroy our manufactures sent us agricultural machinery valued at upwards of £250,000. In order to show how the trust is operated, I should like to quote a declaration which was submitted to the Tariff Commission. The declaration is as follows: -
The avowed intention of one of the great American Trusts, viz., the International Harvester Trust, represented here under the name of the International Harvester Company, to wipe out the Australian agricultural implement manufacturer in Australia, is clearly shown in the sworn declaration by Mr. Edward Coxon, of Numurkah, which was put in evidence before the
Tariff Commission by Mr. H. V. McKay. Mr. Coxon declared as follows : -
Numurkah, I was interviewed by Mr. Beale, one of the travelling representatives of the International Harvester Company of America, and that the following conversation took place : -
Mr. Beale said, “ The International Harvester Company is determined to get hold of (he trade in harvesting machinery, and it’s only a matter of a little time till we knock out all the local men.”
I said, “ You can’t beat McKay.” “Yes,” he replied, “We’ll beat McKay. We have unlimited money behind us, and even if we worked at a loss for three years, we are bound to beat him. Say that McKay’s agent at Numurkah is getting the trade, we shall put on two men to beat him. If they don’t succeed we shall put on three, or a dozen if need be. We don’t care what money it costs, we shall secure the trade. McKay had an offer from us to buy him out, and he will live to regret the clay that he refused that offer. We are going to close him up.”
And I make this solemn declaration, &c.
– I could get a Domain dosser to make a declaration that that statement is a pure invention.
– That may be so, but I am sure honorable members will believe Mr. Coxon’s statement. When I tell honorable members that this gigantic steel trust has £400,000,000 behind it they will not wonder that the agents who come here are well paid, and that the trust in endeavouring to sweep our manufacturers out of its road. What would happen if it were allowed to monopolize our trade? The farmers would have to pay through the nose. If it captures our trade and deals with it as it has done, in conjunction with Mr. McKay, in the past, and puts up the price of harvesters, we must look out for squalls, so far as the farmer ip concerned, and for destruction so far as our manufactures are concerned. Therefore, I think that it is high time that we took action, such as that contemplated in connexion with this measure.
– The Minister mentioned the total quantity of iron and steel imported - does he intend to stop all importations of iron and steel under the Bill?
– No; but I believe that if it had not been for the dread of the American steel trust on the part of those who were prepared to establish the iron and steel industry in our midst, we should have our own iron works by this time. Although we should probably have found it necessary to import some iron and steel, we should not have been called upon, to introduce manufactures of metal valued at £7,000,000 or £8,000,000, according to me year.
– Does the Minister intend to prevent that sort of thing under this Bill ?
– If a trust comes under the provisions to which I have referred, either by1 reducing the wages, bydestroying our manufactures, or by generally injuring the public, this Bill will no doubt take effect.
– -If iron works are started in New South Wales, will the Minister stop the iron trust from dumping its goods here ?
– If it injuriously interferes with and disorganizes the trade of Australia most certainly 1 shall. I think that we have been silently tolerating that sort of thing long enough, It is about time that we took steps to preserve our own country, which has already been devastated sufficiently through the want of a better Tariff. 1 do not agree with the leader of the Opposition that the cry of “Australia for the Australians “ is an unpatriotic one. I beLieve in that cry. I wish to do all that I can to develop the industries of the Commonwealth. There is no nation in the world which has become great without the aid of a protective Tariff. But no Tariff, unless it were absolutely prohibitive, would prevent these wealthy trusts, with millions of capital behind them, from placing their goods upon the Australian market. They could ride through any Tariff that we might frame. I now wish to say a word ‘ or two in reference to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. There are some honorable members who know more about that company than I do. Only the other day I had a long conversation with one of. its directors in Sydney, and I am assured that the company hold that it is now supplying the public with cheaper sugar than it did previously. I have asked for a certain statement in writing, showing how that can be the case, seeing that, as far as I can gather, the price of colonial sugar is within about 15s. per ton of the price of the imported article, which has to pay a dutv of £6 per ton.
– Does not the company pav duty upon its refined sugar?
– It pays all that it is called upon to pay under our excise laws. When the Sugar Bounty Bill was under consideration last year, I was informed that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company were reaping the benefit of the bulk of the bounty. That was the statement of the sugar-growers. Whilst the Bill was going through the House I sent for the representative of the company in Melbourne to ascertain whether that statement was true, but I could not get the information which I desired.
– Did not the Minister say that the grower and the refiner might halve the duty? 1
– But I did not say that they should do so, as far as I can remember. I do not understand why the price of colonial sugar is being kept up to its present standard. The object of granting the additional bounty for the production of sugar was to enable the growers to pay the extra wages necessary to employ white labour without increasing the price of cane to the company, so that the latter should not be called upon to increase the price of the manufactured article to the consumer. If the company obtains a portion of that bounty, I say that that was not the. intention of this Parliament.
– It is a pity that the Minister did not listen to that argument when it was urged in the House. Sir WILLIAM LYNE.- I listened to it, but I do not suppose that it had sufficient effect upon me.
– Is the Minister assailing the Colonial Sugar Refining Company as a trust ?
– I say that if it commits a breach of the provisions of this Bill, the measure will extend to that company, as well as to any other monopoly which may arise in the Commonwealth.
– If the Bill does not touch the Colonial Sugar Refining ‘Company it ought to be made to d’o so.
– The AttorneyGeneral will, I believe, assure the House that it does touch that company.
– Will this Board be able to say what price the Colonial Sugar Refining Company should pay to the cane growers? The latter claim that they do not get the advantage of the bounty.
– That is a matter of arrangement between the growers and the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. Personally I have no feeling against that company, because I believe that it started operations at a time when its aid was sadly needed. Attempts to establish sugar refining works in Queensland had resulted in great failures. The company took advantage of the opportunity which then presented itself, and invested its money in the enterprise. Since then it has grown into a monopoly. The time has now arrived’ when we should consider whether we should not insist upon a cheaper article being given to the public. At this stage I wish to say one or two words in reference to the Australian shipping combine. Honorable members will doubtless recollect that in Queensland evidence was given before the Shipping Commission that merchants were not allowed to buy goods which were carried by any vessel outside the combine without being deprived of their rebate by the shipping companies. That sort of thing has been given effect to in the United States, and has worked very serious harm. The power of the shipping companies, if they band themselves together to ruin, or make, a port, is only paralleled by the power that is exercised by the railway companies of America. The chances are that this Bill will deal with any trust where there has been a combination to the injury of the general public. Before concluding, I wish to quote a few lines in reference to Canada. There a Tariff Commission was appointed, which travelled through a great portion of the country, and I find that-
When the Commission reached Toronto it learned that the Provincial Crown prosecutor there had discovered in Ontario seventy “combines “ in restraint of trade, and instituted proceedings against many of them in the criminal courts. Owing to these exposures Mr. Porritt anticipates that there will be a clause in the new Tariff Act constituting a bureau in the Customs Department, with a lawyer at its head, for the express purpose of conducting at the public expense prosecutions of combines. … In the case against a number of principals and officials of beef-packing corporations associated with the American Beef Trust, charging them with combining to restrain commerce by illegally monopolizing trade, the hearing of which has occupied the attention of a Chicago court for the past five months, the judge yesterday directed the jury to return a verdict favorable to the defendants as individuals, but not in their joint capacity as corporations.
Therefore, as corporations, they were adjudged guilt-, whilst as individuals they were not. I quote this to show that in Canada, as in America, Parliament is alive to the necessity of dealing with these combines.
– But the President sent a message to Congress declaring that that decision was a farce.
– The meatpacking companies of America are a huge monopoly, and’ if it had not been for the manner in which their methods have been exposed recently by a certain writer, I do not know how long they might have continued.
– The statements of that writer, so far as the great meat works of Chicago are concerned, are absolutely untrue.
– Even though I should occupy a little more time, I desire to show again how necessary it is, in connexion with present importations to this country, that we should protect wages, and also to show the effect of the operations of combines on operatives. I find from the report of the Tobacco Commission that -
I should not have troubled honorable members with that reference but that the matters dealt with are, in mv opinion, of verv great importance as bearing upon the reasons for the introduction of this Bill.
– Were not those effects due to the change of duties in New South Wales. ?
– It is since the imposition of the duties in New South Wales that there has been such an extraordinary increase of female, as against male, labour in the trade.
– A short time ago, a deputation of iron-moulders assured me that the system adopted in connexion with the trade with which they are connected was, in a private way, to buy up some of the most approved ploughs and other farming implements manufactured in Australia, to test them without the knowledge of the Australian manufacturers, and then to take them away to America, where they are reproduced by this huge combination for the express purpose of exportation to Australia, with the object of destroying the local industries. That kind of thing is stated to occur in more cases than one, but I mention specially the cases in reference to which a deputation waited upon me. I have here a list showing the prices of various articles in America, and the prices at which they are distributed here. The following is the list: -
Referring to the home and foreign price of Standard oil the Hon. W. H. Douglas in the House of Representatives on 6th February, 1903, said -
No one believes that the extra cost of the crude oil has warranted or justified those advances ; and it is a well-established fact that the Standard pack the same oil, or a better grade (as many foreign nations protect their people against explosions by regulating the test of the oil that can be imported) in tins, then in cases, pay the freight, insurance, loading, and cartage charges, necessary commission, and sell it to the heathen at the other end of the world at from 20 to 30 per cent, less than at home.
In this connexion I make the following quotation from a statement made by the Hon. J. B. Crowley, in the House of Representatives on the 14th January, 1903 : -
Mr. Charles Thulin, a Pennsylvania contractor, recently (in1901) secured a contract to supply rails for Russia’s great Siberian Railway. He asked the leading steel trust companys here for bids. They all asked him about $35 per ton, with freight to be added. Mr. Thulin went over to England, sublet his contract to an Eng lish firm, and one of the same companies that had asked him $35, plus freight here, sold the rails at $24 a ton, delivered in England, to the English sub-contractor. Afterhavinginvestigated this subject for more than ten years, I have reached the conclusion that practically all your manufactured products are sold to foreigners for less than to Americans. The minimum difference is about 10 per cent. The average difference in price is probably 20 per cent., and on our really protected products about 25 per cent.
This shows that these trusts in America, with the huge capital that is behind them, are prepared to distribute goods in Australia at less than the manufactured price, and how are our local manufacturers to pay local wages and carry on their factories in the face of such competition?
– Do not the high protective duties in America prevent any one else from competing ?
– That is not the case. I have a paper before me showing that a prosecution has been instituted by the United States Attorney-General, or the Attorney-General for the State of Ohio, against these combinations for practically enforcing the buying up of almost every small manufacturer in the United States. I forget for the moment what proportion of the total trade this huge concern has got into its own hands, but it was gradually absorbing all who were in competition with it. This is just in keeping with what was said by a man at Goulburn Valley to the effect that Mr. McKay had been offered a price, and that if he would not take that price they were going to crush him out. In the same way, the smaller factories of the United States were offered a price by the combine, and if they would not accept it the combine proceeded to crush them out.. New legislation dealing with the matter was passed in the United States in1903, and it is now being put into operation.
– The fact is thehigh protective duties of the United States shut out the competition of the world.
– Itis the high protective duty in America that enables Americans to manufacture iron and steel. They would not have been able to do that without those duties and would have been in the doldrums, as we are here in regard to the manufacture of iron and steel, though we have rich deposits; of iron ores that could be utilized. In Canada the same state of things applied, and if it had not been for the introducing of highprotective duties, and the granting of bonuses, they would not have been able to establish their manufactures in that country.
– And they could not have built up these trusts.
– Trusts can be built up under free-trade. If I had the time, I could show honorable members where it is stated in the very able report which the late Mr. Seddon obtained in New Zealand, that it is not a question of monopoly under free-trade or under protection. There are monopolies even in free-trade England. In response to the request of the honorable member for North Sydney, I wish to give honorable members a brief summary of the legislation on this subject which has been passed in the United States, in Canada, and in New Zealand.
– I desired more particularly to know the sources of the provisions of the Bill.
– I referred to them in dealing with the clauses of the measure. Referring to the legislation passed by the United States, the first Act I should mention is the Inter-State Commerce Act of 1887. The provisions of this Act relate to the rights, liabilities, and duties of common carriers engaged in Inter-State traffic, and its principal objects are to secure just and reasonable charges for transportation ; to prohibit unjust discrimination in the rendition of like services under similar circumstances and conditions ; to prevent’ undue or unreasonable preference to persons, corporations or localities; and to abolish combinations for pooling freights. This Act created the Inter-State Commerce Commission. The purpose of the Sherman Act of 1890 is to prohibit every contract or combination in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, whether made by carriers, manufacturers, producers, or shippers, and every attempt to monopolize any part of trade or commerce, or to contract, combine, or conspire in restraint of trade. Breaches of the Act are punishable by fine not exceeding 5,000 dollars, or by imprisonment not exceeding a vear, or by both. A remedy by injunction is also provided, and there is provision for confiscation of property in the course of transportation, if it is the subject of illegal contract, combination or conspiracy. Parties injured in their business or property by ‘reason of anything; declared illegal under the Act mav claim treble damages. Then there is the Wilson Bill of 1894. This Act forbids unlawful restraints and monopolies by and between importers or persons or corporations engaged in importing goods into the United States, when designed to operate in restraint of trade, or to increase the market price in any part of the United States of imported articles, or of any manufacture into which such imported article enters. The penalties and remedies under this Act are similar to those under the Sherman Aci. Then comes the Expedition Act of 1903. The object of this Act is to minimize delay in litigation under the Commerce Act and Sherman Anti-Trust Act. It allows appeals direct to the Supreme Court of the United States, and gives them a’ right of preference over other pending litigation. Next there is the Commerce and Labour Act 1903. This Act established the Department of Commerce and Labour, and gave it power to secure full information in regard to the organization, conduct, and management of any corporation - except common carriers, subject to the Commerce Act - engaged in Inter-Stale or foreign commerce. Then there is the Elkin Act 1903. This Act applies specially to corporations being common carriers, and is supplemented to the Commerce Act in respect to publicity of Tariff rates and charges. It declares rebates, drawbacks, and unjust discriminations unlawful, and increases the powers of the Inter-State Commerce Commission in regard to instituting proceedings or obtaining evidence, both against carriers for the practice of unjust discrimination, and against all persons receiving rebates. No imprisonment follows any breach of this Act. The fine provided for unjust, discrimination is - minimum. $1,000; maximum, $20,000. Upwards of twenty-seven of the States and territories of the United States have passed legislation, exclusive of corporation laws, with a view to preventing the formation of combinations and monopolies. Fifteen States have articles in their Constitution with a similar object. Records and law reports indicate also that many States have relied upon the common law to protect their people against monopolies. I shall now shortly state what has been done in Canada. In 1904 an Art was passed amending the Customs Tariff, and containing provisions directed against the practice of dumping. Under those provisions, if the Minister of Customs is satisfied that the export price in another country, or the actual selling price to the importer in Canada of any dutiable goods of a kind produced in Canada, is less than the fair market value thereof, he has power to impose a special duty of Customs equal to the difference between such fair market value and such selling price. It is provided, however, that the special duty on any article shall not exceed one-half of the ordinary duty, except in regard’ to pig-iron and cast scrap-iron, iron or steel ingots, and other forms less finished than iron or steel bars, &c, rolled iron or steel plates, the special duty on which is not to exceed 15 per cent, ad valorem, or more than the difference between the selling price and the fair market value of the article. Provision is made to meet any attempt at evasion of a special duty by shipment or. consignment without sale, and the Minister may, by regulation, also provide for the temporary exemption from special duty of any articles, if he is satisfied that they are r.ot made in Canada in substantial quantities, and are offered for sale to all purchasers on equal terms; or may allow exemption, from special duty in cases where duty is equal to 50 per cent, or upwards, or when the difference between the fair market value and the selling price is only a small percentage of the market value. As I told honorable members just now, one part of this Bill follows the spirit of the Canadian Act dealing with dumping.
– It is prohibitive.
– No, it is not, because the matter, in certain circumstances, may be dealt with by the Minister under section 52 of the Customs Act, and the effect need not be prohibitive. In reference to the New Zealand legislation, I may say that a temporary Act was passed in October, 1905. expiring ist August, 1906. That Act relates to the following implements, viz. : - Ploughs, harrows, drills, rollers, cultivators and scrubbers, chaffcutters and seed cleaners. The Act provides for the immediate compilation of a description of each implement, and the current price thereof at the date of passing the Act. On complaint by twos or more manufacturers that the price of any implement on importation has been materially reduced, leading to unfair competition, the Minister shall refer the complaint to ai Board, which, if satisfied, may recommend that relief be granted. On such recommendation, the
Commissioner may grant the manufacturers a bonus not exceeding 33^ per cent. There is provision also for relief in another form - that is, on proof to the Collector that duty-paid materials, such as cannot be advantageously manufactured in New Zealand, have been used in the construction of any implement, a refund of the duty is made. Relief may be granted to the manufacturers also on the report of the Board, if the manufacturers agree to reduce the price of the whole, or not less than half, of the implements mentioned in the Act to at least 20 per cent, below the price current at the passing of the Act.
– Is it not a condition of getting the bonus that they must make the reductions’ ?
– I am relying, upon information placed in my hands by my officers.
– I think the Minister will find that I am not in error. The intention is to protect the consumers.
– It may be so. I am not certain about that. However, I have given the information to the House so that honorable members may be able to know exactly what has taken place elsewhere. I have a variety of quotations with which I need not trouble honorable members to-night ; but, if necessary, I can lay them upon the table and they can be printed as a paper. Part of this information relates to the Beef Trust.
– Is not the power of the Beef Trust traceable to the fact that it captured the means of transport?
– Yes, that was in consequence of the railways in the United States being privately owned. As I have explained, we, having’ no privatelyowned railways in Australia, cannot be affected in that way. But we have private shipping companies which can act in a precisely similar manner, and it is in respect to them that the Act will apply. I do not know that there is anything further that I need say in reference to the Bill. Perhaps it would be advisable, if the House is agreeable, to have the extracts in my possession, and which have been furnished to me by the Law Officers regarding the provisions of the law in the United States, Canada, and other parts of the world, printed as a separate paper.
– We shall all require them.
– I will ask Mr. Speaker to allow me to lay them upon the table after I have moved the second reading of the Bill. I hope that honorable members will take this Bill earnestly’ into their consideration, with a view to passing it as soon as possible. Although it is a short Bill it was debated at length last ‘session, and if the same spirit were manifested towards it on the present occasion its passage might take a considerable time. We have got on very well with our work up to the present.
– Does the Minister think that the Bill will effect all that he says it will ?
– I am sure that it will do all that I have said it will do and more beside.
– Then where is the necessity for a Tariff Bill ?
– Honorable members opposite say that 1 have too much power already. I certainly think that I have too much responsibility upon my shoulders. This measure, when passed, will be a protection against persons riding through any Tariff enactments that Parliament may pass. It will effectually prevent attempts to establish monopolies. More than that, the fact that such an Act is placed upon the statute-book will instil into the minds of those who might be inclined to promote monopolies a fear of the penalties that would fall upon them if they did so. It will have a good moral effect in that respect. But T do not wish honorable members to make any mistake in relation, to my intention. This Bill does not take -the place of a Tariff. I want some one else to be the adjudicator in cases that may arise, so that no one can say that I have been harsh or have done anything of which honorable members opposite do not approve in putting it into operation. I hope honorable members will make use of all the information which I have placed a: their disposal, and I trust that the Bill will be brought into operation before the end of this year.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Dugald Thomson) adjourned.
Sir WILLIAM LYNE laid upon the table the following paper: -
Summary of the scope and objects of the principal Acts dealing wilh trusts, pools, and industrial combinations in the United States of America.
Order of ‘Business.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I desire to say that I hope that to-morrow, at an early hour, we shall be able to finish the debate’ on the matter to which Ave have devoted a good portion of to-day’s sitting. On that understanding I propose to give precedence to that subject- over Government business. It is one of urgency, and I hope that it will be disposed of very soon. When the House has dealt with that, it will have disposed of one of the most immediate problems facing us at present. Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned ut 10.39 P-‘”-
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 June 1906, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1906/19060614_reps_2_31/>.