House of Representatives
5 July 1906

2nd Parliament · 3rd Session



Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

page 1043

BALLARAT TRAMWAY ACCIDENT

Mr McCAY:
CORINELLA, VICTORIA

– I wish to know from the Postmaster-General if he will lay on the table of the Library all papers relating to a tramway accident which occurred at Ballarat on the 23rd December last, whereby post office property was damaged, and one Mrs. Bowden injured.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:
Postmaster-General · EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES · Protectionist

– Yes.

page 1043

PERSONAL EXPLANATION

Mr MAUGER:
Melbourne Ports

– I desire to make a personal explanation. When the honorable member for Lang the other night was referring to the firm of Thompson and Son, of Castlemaine, as authorities on the Tariff question and the state of the engineering trade, I interjected that it pays its employes1s. a dayless than the current rates of wages. I had obtained my information from the very best source, but I was not able to give my authority. Since then, however, I have been in communication with the secretary of the United Iron Workers Union and Engineers, and I think the following statement made by him shows that I had ample ground for saying what I did, although thelie direct has been given to my remark: -

There are very few union men in Thompson’s establishment, they only being allowed to work conditionally on their getting the union rate. Union men have been offered9s. a day when the ruling rate was10s., and had to refuse work. Others have been paid that amount, and had to leave. This for years past. Theypay nothing extra for overtime - union firms having to pay time and a half - they pay nothing extra for night work. City firms pay 12s. for eight hours night work, this firm geting off with 70s. or 95. per night. They have a few union “moulders”’ because the “Wages Boards” compel equal payment. They have had no union boiler-makers fox years, owing to the fact that they do not pay union rates.

It can be easily understood that when a firm undercuts in this way, it can obtain work where others are not able to do so.

Mr Johnson:

– I shall make further inquiries to test the value of those statements.

page 1044

QUESTION

EASTERN EXTENSION TELEGRAPH COMPANY

Mr HUTCHISON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

– Is it the intention of the Government to allow the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company to open an office in Melbourne?

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:
Protectionist

– The matter is under consideration, and I shall, at the earliest possible moment, give the honorable member the information for which lie asks.

Mr MAHON:
COOLGARDIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

– Will the PostmasterGeneral, before coming to any agreement with the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company allowing it to open an office in Melbourne, submit his proposals for the approval of the House?

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:

– There is no proposed agreement with the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company, so far as I know at present.

Mr MAHON:

– Will the honorable gentleman please answer my question?

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:

– Perhaps I did not catch it correctly. Will the honorable member be good enough to put it again, or to give me notice of it?

Mr MAHON:

– As the IostmasterGenera[ seems to have misunderstood my question, I “desire to repeat it. I wish to know whether, before he comes to an agreement with the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company about the opening of an office in Melbourne, he will submit what he proposes to do for the consideration of the House?

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:

– I do not propose to come to any agreement with the company, but immediately any fresh developments take place, I shall Se very glad to put the matter before the House.

page 1044

QUESTION

CONSTITUTION OF PAPUA

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Twelve months ago the Prime Minister informed the House that the granting of a Constitution to Papua was a matter of the greatest possible urgency. He declared that already heavylosses had been suffered by the islanders by reason of the absence of a proper Constitution, and urged that there should not be delay in passing the Constitution Bill. That measure became llaw nine or ten months ago, but I understand that it has not vet been brought into operation. I therefore ask the Prime Minister why it has not been brought into operation ?

Mr DEAKIN:
Minister for External Affairs · BALLAARAT, VICTORIA · Protectionist

– The establishment of the w.-iv Papuan Constitution would have taken little time, if it had not been necessary to carry out the will of Parliament as expressed in the Act. That required the revision of the whole of the existing laws of the Possession. They have been redrafted by the present local Government, and revised and returned by us. We hope to give final instructions in about three weeks for the proclamation of the new Constitution. ‘ When the Constitution is proclaimed, the Ordinances of the Territory, particularly those affecting land tenure, will have been entirely altered to meet the new conditions provided for by the Act. There has been no avoidable delay, because it takes between two and three months, and at some seasons of the year over three months, to send a letter to Papua and receive a considered reply.

page 1044

QUESTION

OVERSEA MAIL SERVICE

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– I wish to know from the Postmaster-General if any deposit has been lodged to bind the contract which is said to have been arranged for an oversea mail service? If so, what amount has been lodged, and is it forfeitable on non -completion of the contract?

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:
Protectionist

– At the earliest possible moment a statement giving that, and whatever further information on the subject is desired, will be made to the House-

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– Is the Postmaster-General unable, or unwilling, to answer my question ? The giving of this information would not amount to a disclosure of the terms or conditions of the contract. I wish to know whether those with whom he is negotiating have been placed on the same terms as other Government tenderers, and an answer can be given to the question without any disclosures affecting the contract itself?

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:

– A deposit has been made in accordance with the conditions of the tenders, but at the present time it is not considered advisable to give any definite information beyond what has already been afforded to honorable members. At the earliest possible moment a statement will be made, giving all information concerning the contract, but, at the present time, it is considered wise in the public interest not to give much of the information asked for. The tenders laid down certain conditions, which are. being observed. A partial deposit has been made, and, when a statement is given to the House, I think that the honorable member will consider it satisfactory. If he will look at the tender, he will see what is there provided for.

Mr BRUCE SMITH:
PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Is the press correct in declaring that the contract for a new mail service is actually concluded, or is it still in abeyance?

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:

– It is practically, but not legally, concluded.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– May we take it that the usual course will be followed in regard to this contract, and that it will be concluded only tentatively pending the approval of Parliament?

Mr Deakin:

– That is one of the conditions.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– As the Postmaster-General seems strangely reluctant to name the amount of the deposit–

Mr Deakin:

– It is named in the tenders.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– Then why is there this reluctance?

Mr Deakin:

– The public know it. Information of that kind is being published every day.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– Then why does the Postmaster-General refuse to answer my question ? In doing so he is guilty of an act of discourtesy at least. The information for which I ask is not in my possession, but if it is in the possession of the public, why should the honorable gentleman refuse to give it to me? If he will not name the amount - though I cannot understand why he should not do so - will he say what percentage of the amount of the tender is required to be deposited, and whether the condition of the tender has in that respect been complied with by the tenderers ?

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:

– If the honorable member will look at the terms of the tenders, with a copy of which I shall be glad to furnish him, he will see that the deposit of . £2,500 is required under certain conditions, the deposit of £25.000 under other conditions, and the deposit of a second £25,000 under still further conditions.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– Have any of the deposits been lodged, and, if so, which ?

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:

– The information will be given to the House in a general statement at the earliest possible moment.

Mr BRUCE SMITH:
PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Can the PostmasterGeneral say whether the Peninsular and Oriental and Orient Companies are parties to this “ practically concluded “ contract ?

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:

– I ask the honorable and learned member to possess his soulin patience a little longer. We shall be pleased to give the fullest information as soon as possible.

page 1045

QUESTION

LIFTS, GENERAL POST OFFICE, SYDNEY

Mr FULLER:
ILLAWARRA, NEW SOUTH WALES

– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that the principal lift of the Sydney General Post Office has not been working, for the last four months? Will he find out who is responsible for this, and see that that lift, which is a great convenience to the public, more especially to women, who have to go to the cashier’s office to make payments, is put into order as scon as possible?

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:
Protectionist

– Directly the honorable and learned member called my attention to the matter, I wired to Sydney to ask the cause of the stoppage. I understand that there are three lifts in the building, and that those fronting, Martinplace and Pitt-street are now being repaired, the George-street lift alone being at work. Immediately I am informed as to the reason for this state of affairs, I shall furnish it to the honorable and learned member. I think that all three lifts should be put in working order as quickly as possible, so that the public may have every facility for the transaction of business with the Department.

page 1045

QUESTION

REMOVAL OF POSTMASTERS

Mr HENRY WILLIS:
ROBERTSON, NEW SOUTH WALES

– Has the Postmaster-General seen a notice in the press to the effect that a number of postmasters who are now acting as electoral officers are to be removed from the Robertson division? Are these removals to take place immediately?

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:
Protectionist

– I presume that the honorable member refers to the proposed removals which have been gazetted. I understand that these removals are being made to carry out the reclassification of the service, and that the matter is entirely in the hands of the Public Service Commissioner.

Mr JOHNSON:

– In view of the fact that many of the postmasters who are to be removed from their present offices are electoral officers for the divisions in which they are now stationed, will he arrange that they shall not be transferred until after the general election, in order to prevent a great disturbance of our electoral machinery. I understand that the carrying out of the classification is a matter for the Public Service Commissioner, but that the PostmasterGeneral can say whether removals shall be effected at once, or be postponed for a little while.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:

– The matter to which the honorable member refers has been brought under my notice. It has already received the careful consideration of the Commissioner, to whom it has been again referred.

page 1046

QUESTION

MILITARY TRAVELLING ALLOWANCES

Mr PAGE:
MARANOA, QUEENSLAND

– I desire to know whether the Minister representing the Minister of Defence can say what amount has been paid by way of travelling expenses to the Inspector-General of the Defence Forces and his staff during the year 1905-6. Further, I should like to know how much has been paid to the members of the Military Board and to the State Commandants and their staffs for travelling allowances during the same period, (and also whether anyother allowances have been granted to the officers indicated?

Mr EWING:
Vice-President of the Executive Council · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · Protectionist

– I shall take a note of the questions asked by the honorable member, the answers to which will almost require the compilation of a return. As soon as the information can be furnished, it will be laid upon the fable of the House. The work will probably take; some days.

Mr Page:

– The Minister said that I could have the information within a few hours.

Mr EWING:

– If the Minister stated that, the honorable member will have the information in a few hours.

page 1046

QUESTION

COMMONWEALTH OLD-AGE PENSIONS

Mr KING O’MALLEY:
DARWIN, TASMANIA · ALP

as asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

Whether it is the intention of the Government to bring in a Bill this session establishing Commonwealth Old-age Pensions on the lines recommended by the Royal Commission?

Mr DEAKIN:
Protectionist

– The report of the Commission is now under consideration.

page 1046

QUESTION

REVENUE RETURNED TO THE STATES

Mr TUDOR:
YARRA, VICTORIA

asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

Whether he will prepare a return showing -

  1. The amount returned to each State for each year since the Commonwealth hasbeen established in excess of the threefourths provided by section 87 of theConstitution ?
  2. The amount spent on works and buildings out of revenue in each State for the same years?
Sir JOHN FORREST:
Treasurer · SWAN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · Protectionist

– The answersto the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. The information is shown on pages70 to 78 of the Budget papers 1905-6, and it is proposed to insert a concise statement in the next Budget papers.
  2. The information is shown on pages 49. and 50 of the Budget papers 1905-6, and will be inserted in a concise form in next Budget papers.

page 1046

QUESTION

GUNS: NORTH FREMANTLE FORT

Mr CARPENTER:
FREMANTLE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -

  1. Has a report been received from the Imperial Defence Committee with reference to the calibre of guns, to be used on proposed fort at North Fremantle ?
  2. If not, is provision being made for the work to be proceeded with immediately the report is received ?
Mr EWING:
Protectionist

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. No. It is expected within the next fortnight.
  2. Plans and specifications of emplacementsfor 7-5 guns have been prepared, and if that type of gun is decided on, everything is ready for the work to be proceeded with. If another type of gun is decided on, new drawings and specifications will have to be prepared. The site has been acquired by the Commonwealth, and money to pay for the guns has been remitted to England.

page 1046

QUESTION

NORTHERN TERRITORY

Mr POYNTON:
Grey

.- I move -

That, in the opinion of this House, all possible steps should be immediately taken to acquirethe Northern Territory from South Australia.

I am pressing this matter upon the attention of the House because I think it is decidedly unfair to the State of South Australia to permit it to remain in abeyanceany longer than is necessary to enable us to arrive at a definite decision.

I think, furthermore, that it is essential for us to consider what control of the Northern Territory may mean to Australia as a whole in the future. I wish to correct any misapprehension that may exist in the minds of honorable members that the Northern Territory is a barren and profitless waste. Judging from the statements of those who have had experience of the Territory, its prospects from a mineral stand-point are exceptionally bright ; it possesses fertile tracts which are second to none in Australia, and certain areas outside the tropical belt which are eminently adapted for agricultural purposes. In order that honorable members may realize the immense area of the Territory I would point out that it is twenty times as large as Tasmania, six times as large as Victoria, four and a half times as large as Great Britain, two and a half times as large as France, and that it embraces an area of 325,000,000 acres. In an article recently published in the Australasian Traveller, the position of the Territory is indicated in a very few words. The writer says : -

The Northern Territory may almost claim the distinction of being regarded as the problem of the Commonwealth. The very hopelessness o£ always ignoring it has led - paradox as it may seem - to its having been practically ignored up to date. For our statesmen of the preCommonwealth era it was, from any serious point of view, n.n impossibility. They lacked the apparatus to deal with it - perhaps, considering the magnitude of the issues involved, not altogether to their regret. Its control by South Australia has never been more than a makeshift, undertaken by the Central State in the best spirit n<j doubt, but, still, with “tentativeness” writ large over it from the beginning. It now confronts our Commonwealth statesmen as something that insists on adequate handling. From the defence stand-point, it is the “ Achilles’ heel “ of the Commonwealth, and this fact, in itself, would make it of paramount interest.

I think that the difficulties which South Australia has experienced in dealing with the Territory would disappear if it were brought under the control of the Commonwealth. The State referred to, with a population of only 360,000, has found it impracticable to embark upon enterprises which could well be undertaken by the Commonwealth with its population of 4,000,000. I find that in March last the population of the Territory was 3,791, the Europeans numbering only 1. 313. Compared with the previous year, the European population showed an increase of only 308. Between 1880 and 1905 the exports of minerals from the Northern Territory represented an aggregate value of £2,186,000. Gold represented £1,922,702, silver £52,575, copper £87,753, ti” ore £100,390, and the other minerals exported included wolfram and mica. The exports of pearl in 1905 were valued at £14,000, and the 21,000 cattle exported were valued at £107,877, whilst the 378 horses exported were valued at £4,364. I may mention that in the Territory to-day there are 247,000 head of cattle, 16,760 horses, and 64,000 sheep. I venture to say that no part of the Commonwealth presents greater facilities for the breeding of horses than do various parts of the Territory. Some of our protectionist friends argue that the prosperity of a community is to be measured by the extent to which the value of its exports exceeds the value of its imports. I find that the imports into the Territory last year represented a value of £86.878, whilst the exports were valued at £22.1,97.1. Thus the imports represented a value of £22 16s. per head of population, whilst the exports represented a value of £58 5s. 2d. per head.

Mr Johnson:

– What are the exports?

Mr POYNTON:

– Gold, silver, copper, tin, wolfram, horses, cattle, and a number of other things. Honorable members will probably be specially interested to learn that the revenue collected during 1904-5 was £73,125, whilst the expenditure was £61,675. The latter amount does not cover the whole of the outlay for the year, because interest charges have to be added to the sum. Recently Mr. Brown, the Government Geologist of South Australia, reported upon various phases of the back portion of the Territory. In his report, he deals with the auriferous, the coal-bearing, the metalliferous, and alluvial country. In the coastal region he estimates that there is, approximately, a metalliferous area - that is, an area in which gold, silver, copper, tin, and lead are to be found - of 4,336,000 acres. He further sets out that there are some 5,400 square miles, or nearly 3,500,000 acres, of coal-bearing country, in addition to a tract on the Gulf coast, which has not yet been fully defined, but which is probably of vast extent. Speaking o’f the interior of the Territory, Mr. Brown states that the metalliferous area embraces something like 21,000 square miles, and he estimates that the alluvial, or river flats, which are suitable, for cultivation, comprise 25 pei cent, of the total tropical area, and 10 per cent, of the remainder of the Territory. In addition, he says that upon the tablelands, consisting chiefly of open downs, there are, approximately, 30,000 square miles of alluvial country. He further estimates that there are 5,000 square miles of volcanic origin. In connexion with the commercial possibilities of the Territory, I wish to quote the views of a few gentlemen who have had some experience there. Not having been there myself, I cannot speak from personal knowledge, and hence I have to fall back upon the opinions of others who have had experience of the country. Mr. J. G. Knight, a one-time Government Resident at Port Darwin, wrote -

There can be no doubt that, as the wildly luxurious indigenous grasses of the more tropical part of the country are fed down, the character of the herbage will be completely changed, and that horses, cattle, and probably sheep will thrive prodigiously. It is hardly to be feared that the climate will be found too hot for the growth of good wool, as .fine fleeces are produced in Queensland in corresponding latitudes.

Mr Johnson:

– Is it also at a corresponding elevation ?

Mr POYNTON:

– In many parts it is. Mr. Chas. Winnecke, who has had thiriyfive years’ experience of the Territory, says -

I have been astounded at the frequent mention of desert country. My experience is that some of the finest pastoral country in the world is found in Central Australia. Water, principally artesian, is more abundant than supposed. Gold is scattered all through this vast area, one quartz range showing gold for fully thirty-six miles. The Orabarra reef, in the Jervois and Tarlton Ranges, has never been visited by any white man but myself. Professor Tate and Experts Watt and Achimovitch (members of the Horn Expedition, of which I was commander) all stated that the best indications of diamonds exist to the west of Charlotte Waters. Coal of good quality is found in the McDonnell and more northern areas. It speaks for itself that more than a fourth of the territory is settled with stations, mines, &c. I have no hesitation in declaring that it will be the finest and most remunerative country in Australia. The extent of auriferous country is simply unknown, and a railway would increase all these resources a hundredfold.

Mr Kelly:

– How far are the McDonnell Ranges from Oodnadatta?

Mr POYNTON:

– About 400 miles, approximately. Mr. H. B. Percy, a Queensland pastoralist- -probably some of the representatives of that State know him - speaking of the Territory, says -

I have seen nearly all the best coast country in Queensland, and I can safely say that I have seen none that I like so well. I was surprised to find it so good, as, previous to my visit here, I had heard the Northern Territory so often run down that I looked upon it as a foregone conclusion that I should see inferior country ; but it is nothing of the kind, and it is destined, sooner or later, to be made use of for agriculture, and to carry a large population. It seems quite a pity to leave it lying idle. In the meantime, however, if good markets can be found for cattle or beef is China, India, or Java, or somewhere in that direction, this and any good stations on the northern coast must become some of the most valuable in Australia.

Mr. Percy, I may add, was. reporting on a station property in the Territory when he formed the opinion which I have just read. In a letter to the press, under the signature of “ Overlander,” the writer also bears testimony to the value of the Northern Territory. He says -

Our impressions of the Northern Territory are very favorable. Here we see the same things going on that happened in Queensland 30 and 40 years ago. We see the usual conquest of civilization, and the same indifference to recognise it on the part of most of our practical men. We have the same rough life, the same difficulties with the natives. The pioneers are the same - some prosper, some soon die. Some return to abuse the country in which, as a rule, through their own incapacity they have failed. There is a great future before this country; its mineral resources, I believe, are enormous. Rich deposits have been found of copper, iron, lead, also silver ; and not only is there a large area suitable in the highest degree for pastoral purposes, but also land specially adapted for tropical agriculture.

I might quote much more testimony of a simitar character. In this connexion I desire to refer honorable members to a report which was obtained quite recently from Dr. Holtze, who was formerly in charge of the Botanic Gardens in the Territory, and who, whilst resident there, carried on a number of experiments with a view to determining what it was possible to grow. Of course, his report deals chiefly with tropical products, but in justice to him I must say that, whilst he holds that those products will grow most luxuriantly in the Territory, he maintains that the employment of a suitable class of labour is necessary to make them profitable.

Mr Wilson:

– What class of labour?

Mr POYNTON:

– He does not mention the particular class of labour in his report ; but I think that he believes in the employment of the same class of labour that is engaged in the Queensland sugar industry.

Mr Wilson:

– Is the honorable member in favour of the employment of that class of labour?

Mr POYNTON:

– I am not. That is pne of the reasons why there is a great obligation upon the part of the Commonwealth to do something with the Territory. Speaking of the cultivation of cotton, Dr. Holtze says -

This plant is doing so well in the Territory that it has escaped from cultivation, and fruits freely in a semi-wild state.

He also deals with india-rubber-producing plants, viz., Hevea or Para rubber, Maniliot or Ceara rubber, and Ficus elastica or Assam rubber. He says : -

These india-rubber-producing plants, together with several others, have been cultivated quite successfully.

He also deals with the suitability of the lands of the Territory for the cultivation of tobacco. He then makes reference to oil-producing plants, and in this connexion writes -

This group contains cocoanuts, African oilpalm, Sesame oil, peanut oil, castor oil, lemon, and citronella oil. All these plants grow so well that not the slightest doubt remains that the Northern Territory soil and climate is quite suited for their cultivation.

He goes on to say of rice -

This plant is specially suited for the swamp plains of the Northern Territory, where rice is found truly indigenous. My observations in China and Cochin China enable me to state emphatically that with suitable labour, the Northern Territory could produce all the rice required by the Commonwealth.

Speaking of the cultivation of maize, millets, &c, he says -

Other grain-producing plants are maize, of which I have produced three crops in one year. Millets of all kinds, sorghums, pigeon-peas, soybeans, and various grains were all grown successfully.

Dealing with the production of arrowroot and sugar-cane, Dr. Holtze remarks -

Arrowroot of excellent quality was produced from the Maranta arundinacca and Canna edules, and tapioca from Jatrofha manihot. The growth of the sugar-cane grown in the Botanic Gardens at Port Darwin, and the density of its juice, has always been very satisfactory, and it must be regretted that through no fault of the Northern Territory sugar plantations have not been a success.

In passing, I may mention that when some years ago the attempt was made to grow sugar-cane at the experimental plantations in the Territory, the land selected was altogether unsuitable for the purpose. I think it was the present Minister of Defence who reported upon the matter, and he clearly demonstrated from his own agri cultural knowledge that a worse selection could not havebeen made. Dr. Holtze further deals with the adaptability of the land of the Territory to the production of indigo, logwood, ginger, pepper, and a variety of other articles, all of which he has tested there. If honorable members will consider the proximity of the Northern Territory to several densely populated countries they will understand that if ever an attempt is made to seize any portion of Australian territory, it is likely that it will be made in the Northern Territory as offering the greatest prospects of success. A glance at the map will show that within six or seven days’ sail of Fort Darwin we have Singapore; within eight days’ sail Hong Kong, and within nine days’ sail Japan, and a little further to the north, Manchuria, which now, of course, is in the hands of the Japanese. Then quite close to the Northern Territory, we have Java, with some 30,000,000 people. It must be recognised by every member of the House that South Australia has done her duty in connexion with the Northern Territory, in preventing its, being inundated by an alien class of labour.

Mr Mahon:

– Not always.

Mr POYNTON:

– For many years past.

Mr Mahon:

– The South Australian Government introduced 200 Chinamen themselves. They were the first to introduce them.

Mr POYNTON:

– I am well aware of that, but for many years past, when, over and over again, propositions have been submitted involving the introduction of a class of people who would not be the best kind of settlers for Australia, the South Australian Governments have refused to listen to them. You, sir, will bear me out when I say that South Australia could have sold the Northern Territory for a sum vastly in excess of what it has cost her, if she had been prepared to permit those who desired to purchase the Territory to introduce any class of labour they wished. When Senator Playford was Agent-General for South Australia he received an offer from a substantial syndicate in London to take over the whole of the Territory at a price largely in excess of its cost to South Australia. But there was a stipulation that the syndicate should have the right to use any class of labour they wished, and though they might have netted millions in cash from the transaction, the South Australian Government refused to allow the Northern

Territory to be sold on such terms, because they objected to the introduction of a race of people who would be detrimental to the interests of Australia generally. In 1901, you, sir, were Premier of South Australia, and on behalf of your Government, you offered to hand the Northern Territory over to the Commonwealth. The conditions then stipulated were that in return for the Territory the Commonwealth should pay a sum equal to the total indebtedness of South Australia in respect of the Territory to date, which, at that time, represented £2,852,495. On 1st July, of last year, the present Government of South Australia, of which Mr. Price is Premier -

Mr Mahon:

– Is- the honorable member stripping Mr. Jenkins? Why does he not tell us what Mr. Jenkins did?

Mr POYNTON:

– I do not know that it is necessary to do so, but I have no wish to conceal anything that Mr. Jenkins did. At the time when the matter was under consideration two members of the House of Assembly, representing the Territory, and one member of the South Australian Legislative Council, moved resolutions, which were carried, to the effect that all negotiations with the Commonwealth should be cut off. They then introduced a Bill to provide for the construction of the Transcontinental Railway on the land grant system, and up till recently, and even during last week, we have had various rumours of offers made for the construction df the line. So far as I can understand, no substantial offer has so far been made to construct it on the land grant system. But the present South Australian Government has again offered the Territory to the Commonwealth.

Mr Mahon:

– What is Mr. Jenkins’s position in connexion with the construction of the line?

Mr POYNTON:

– Perhaps I am wrong, but I was- under the impression that it was the Price Government that submitted the proposal.

Mr Deakin:

– The Price Government submitted the last .proposal. I think that Mr. Jenkins’ proposal was the first offer.

Mr Mahon:

– No, Sir Frederick Holder’s was the first offer.

Mr POYNTON:

– An offer was made in 1 901, and there is one now before the Commonwealth Government.

Mr Johnson:

– What is the amount asked for under the present offer?

Mr POYNTON:

– The amount asked for under the present offer is a sum to cover all the indebtedness of the Territory, equal to £3,450,298, or an increase of £597,803, as compared with the indebtedness “of the Territory in 190 1. In submitting this offer the statement is made -

The increase is £S97 appromixately, and is. on account of payments for interest on loansand in the maintenance of the Settlement, and money expended in the development of thecountry’s resources ; large expenditure being made in the endeavour to open up the mineral wealth of the Territory by exploration, examination, and the introduction of boring plants for coal and minerals - good indications of coal have already been struck - and for the opening, up of water supplies with a view to stock waters, being made available to the pastoralists.

I may mention that it has since been ascertained that there is no doubt about the existence of coal deposits.

Mr Henry Willis:

– In what part of the Territory ?

Mr POYNTON:

– Very good coal has-, been got not far from the McDonnell Ranges. But in the absence of a railway its distance from any port makes it of very little present use.

Mr Henry Willis:

– It is a great distance from the seaboard, is it not?

Mr POYNTON:

– Yes, it is. In submitting this proposal, the South Australian Government intimate to the Commonwealth Government that -

The proprietorship of the Territory does not imply annual deficits if in the hands of a Government unhampered by restrictions, such as are imposed upon the State by Federal legislation in the shape of the bar against the importation of white labour under contract, or the admission of railway plant duty free.

Of course, under the Commonwealth Tariff, all imports, whether belonging to a State Government or to private individuals, must pay duty. The statement continues -

These and other disabilities, coupled with our sparse population, and limited ‘funds, render it very difficult for a small State to work theTerritory, rich, as you observe, “ in the potentialities of wealth,”’ at a profit.

Mr Henry Willis:

– But the South ^ Australian Government would get backnearly all the dutv referred to.

Mr Deakin:

– Three-fourths of it.

Mr Henry Willis:

– And more.

Mr Deakin:

– Yes, probably more.

Mr POYNTON:

– What would they get back?

Mr Deakin:

– Under the Braddon sectionat least three-fourths of the revenue derived from Customs is returned to the States, and the honorable member for Robertson is pointing out that probably more than three-fourths of the duty referred to would be returned to South Australia.

Mr POYNTON:

– The statement I was reading proceeds -

Our reasons for asking a larger sum than was named in 1901 are the additional cost incurred since that date, and the fact that we are offering a greater area than was then offered. Moreover, we have now to construct the railway from the present terminus, Oodnadatta, to our northern border. . .

We are quite seized of the immense possibilities of the Northern Territory, and regard it as likely to become a valuable asset.

We feel, however, that, handicapped by the difficulties already alluded to, this comparatively small community cannot easily convert such a vast territory into the great uses we believe it capable of.

Honorable members will have noticed that in my motion I do not stipulate in any hard and fast way what we should do. My object is to try to get the House to consider the question, because it is unfair that so important a proposition should be hung up without due consideration. If it is the final decision of the Commonwealth Parliament that we do not want the Northern Territory, the sooner the Government of the State I represent are made aware of it the better for them. Only last week cable messages were sent to the Premier of South Australia in connexion with some offer. Whether or not it was of such a character as would warrant acceptance, he could not accept it in view of the fact that the Territory has been submitted to the Commonwealth, and the South Australian Government are awaiting the decision of the Commonwealth authorities.

Mr Deakin:

– We are awaiting the reply to our last letter. We have replied to the letter from which the honorable member has just read, and are awaiting the answer of the South Australian Government to our letter sent on 30th April last. So that at the present stage it is for the South Australian Government to respond.

Mr POYNTON:

– -I should mention that the offer made only this last week, and cabled out to the South Australian Government, covered the right to employ coloured labour.

Sir Langdon Bonython:

– Which prevented the South Australian Government from doing anything in the matter.

Mr POYNTON:

– As I have already mentioned, under “the Constitution South. Australia cannot accept such an offer, because the question involved is one which is outside her jurisdiction altogether.

Mr Mahon:

– So would be the taxation of that land.

Mr POYNTON:

– To what taxation does the honorable gentleman refer?

Mr Mahon:

– If a syndicate acquired the land we could tax it.

Mr POYNTON:

– There is no doubt about that. In addition to the amount asked for last time, the following resolution was carried in the South Austraiian Parliament : -

That, in view of the expressed desire of the Commonwealth Government to reconsider the proposal to take over the Northern Territory, the Government should re-open negotiations with the Commonwealth Government, for the purpose of ascertaining the terms upon which they would be willing to take over that Dependency.

That in such negotiation, the Commonwealth Government should be given to understand definitely that South Australia will stipulate the following terms : -

Payment of the total amount expended by South Australia in connexion with the settlement and administration of the Territory up t« the date of its transfer.

That is the amount I mentioned.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– How much is that?

Mr POYNTON:

– The amount is £3>45°>000> which represents 2fd. per acre for the land.

Mr Mahon:

– Is all the land worth that?

Mr POYNTON:

– It is poor country if it is not worth 2f d. an acre.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Have the Commonwealth Government to begin by buying land?

Mr POYNTON:

– The further stipulation was that the Commonwealth Government should agree to construct a transcontinental line from the southern boundary to the present terminus at Pine Creek - that the line of route of the proposed railway should be from the terminus at the South Australian border to the terminus of the northern section of the line at Pine Creek - while the South Australian Government undertook to construct their portion of the line from Oodnadatta to the border of the State, within twelve months of the agreement being arrived at.

Mr Henry Willis:

– What distance is that?

Mr POYNTON:

– About 400 miles, I think. I do not know whether I ought to occupy any further time at the present stage, seeing that I shall have another opportunity when replying on the debate.

Mr Henry Willis:

– Will the honorable member give us his opinion of the proposal ?

Mr POYNTON:

– My opinion is that the Commonwealth ought to take over the Territory.

Mr Henry Willis:

– On those terms?

Mr POYNTON:

– I do not think that the Commonwealth will get any other terms. The Federal Government made a great mistake in not accepting the previous offer, when the terms were very much better ; and the time will come when we shall be sorry that the Commonwealth has not control of the Northern Territory.

Mr Mahon:

– Why should there be any alteration in the terms ? Has the Territory improved since?

Mr POYNTON:

– The South Australian Government have expended a large amount of the taxpayers’ money in the development of the Northern Territory by boring and various other kinds of work.

Mr Mahon:

– How much have the South Australian Government spent since the Commonwealth was established?

Mr POYNTON:

– A sum of £500,000 odd.

Mr Mahon:

– That is on the general administration.

Mr POYNTON:

– The general administration of the Northern Territory, I may mention, is paying its way.

Mr Henry Willis:

– Is there not a loss of £100,000 a year?

Mr POYNTON:

– I mean that the general administration is paying its way, having regard to the receipts and expenditure during the year. There is, of course, a loss to the extent of the interest, but that does not represent anything like the amount mentioned. I am strongly of opinion that, L’f for no other purpose than that of defence, and the protection of Australia, the Northern Territory should be under Commonwealth jurisdiction and control.

Mr Henry Willis:

– It is now.

Mr POYNTON:

– It is nothing of the kind.

Mr Henry Willis:

– Yes, it is.

Mr POYNTON:

– I must say that it is not very encouraging to hear some of the interjections of honorable members. If South Australia had done what Queensland did, and imported coloured labour, the Commonwealth would have had to pay, as in the case of the northern State. The SouthAustralian Government, however, have refused to dispose of the Territory to any syndicate under conditions which might prove inimical to the general interest ; and the Commonwealth Parliament, if honorable members *ill adhere to the vote already given, may be taken to strongly approve of a “White Australia. But for the action of the South Australian Government, the Northern Territory would have been occupied and utilized to a very large extent, and then the Commonwealth, as in the case of Queensland, would have had to pay an enormous premium in order to get rid of coloured labour.

Mr Wilkinson:

– There are more Chinamen in South Australia than in any other part of the Commonwealth.

Mr POYNTON:

– There may toe more Chinamen, but there are no kanakas. It is not on account of Chinamen that the Commonwealth is paying in Queensland. No Federal legislation has been found necessary as a. result of the introduction of Chinamen, but solely as the result of the importation of cheap kanaka labour, which was deemed necessary in Queensland for the development of the sugar industry. And because Queensland ignored the other States, and did not take into account the evil effects which might be felt later on, the Commonwealth Parliament, in its wisdom or otherwise, has since passed legislation, for which every taxpayer in the Commonwealth is paving to-day. I trust there will be no quibbling over a few pounds, but that the motion will be dealt with on its merits, and a. decision come to as quickly as possible. What I desire is something like promptitude. I was unaware that a reply had not been received to the letter spoken of by the Prime Minister, but I promise that he shall have, a reply very promptly. I trust that the House will come to a decision at once, because it is unfair to South Australia that this matter should- remain hung up as at present. I hope that the motion will foe discussed earnestly, and, at a later stage, I shall have an opportunity to deal with the criticisms of honorable members.

Mr MAHON:
Coolgardie

.- The honorable member for Grey is, to be complimented on the manner in which he has presented the motion to the House. The honorable member, who represents this great Northern Territory of South Australia, has evidently taken great pains to make himself master of the subject, and I think we may all congratulate him on having placed its affairs and stated his case” in a very able and comprehensive way. The honorable member is deserving of the more credit for his action because, if the motion succeeds, he will find himself minus a constituency. That is to say, if the Northern Territory becomes a dependency of the Commonwealth, the honorable member for Grey will have to look elsewhere for a seat ; and the submission of this motion shows, therefore, a very fine spirit of self-sacrifice on his part.

Sir Langdon Bonython:

– The Northern Territory is only a part of the electorate of Grey.

Mr MAHON:

– I take it that in the event of the Northern Territory being made a dependency of the Commonwealth, the remainder of the electorate of Grey would be merged with, perhaps, the electorate of Barker; at any rate, I think there would have to be a new division of South Australian seats. However, I rose chiefly to direct attention to the fact that on the 19th October, 1902, Mr. V. L. Solomon, who was one of the representatives of South Australia, submitted a motion to the effect that it was expedient that the Government should take over the Northern Territory. An amendment was moved, and the motion was passed in the following form : -

That in the opinion of this House it is advisable that the complete control and jurisdiction over the Northern Territory of South Australia be acquired by the Commonwealth upon just terms.

The motion now before us declares that, in the opinion of this House, all possible steps should be immediately taken to acquire the Northern Territory. To my thinking, the terms of the motion are rather peremptory; at any rate, that is the first impression one receives from a proposition couched in such terms. The honorable member for Grey must be aware that the Commonwealth Government, for the last four or five years, has been actively negotiating with the South Australian Government for the acquisition of this territory. He must also be aware that the chief difficulty has been raised, not by the Federal Government or Parliament, or by the other States of the Commonwealth, but largely by the Parliament of South Australia; or, perhaps, to be more accurate, by a section of the wealthy classes in Adelaide. On the 1.8th April, 1901, when you, Mr. Speaker were Premier of South Australia, you submitted to the Prime Minister of the day the advisability of the Commonwealth taking over the northern portion of Australia known as the Northern Territory, and you then described the position of affairs there, and gave information bearing on the export of the staple products, and so forth. The communication which you, sir, then sent to the Prime Minister, concluded as follows : -

I have now to intimate that the Government of South Australia is prepared to take the necessary steps to offer to the Federal Government the territory known as the Northern Territory, including the railway and all other assets, on the Federal Government also assuming the liabilities of the Territory.

That was a business-like proposition, and one entitled to fair consideration by the Federal authorities. Later, on the 16th July of the same year, your successor in the Premiership of South Australia intimated his willingness to continue the negotiations on the terms which you had offered. These negotiations continued for some time; but suddenly the attitude of South Australia changed ; and the offer of 1 8th April, if not positively withdrawn, was suspended.

Sir Langdon Bonython:

– That was the result of action taken by the Parliament rather than by the Government of South Australia.

Mr MAHON:

– That may be; but. so far as the Federal authorities were concerned, the result was practically the same. At any rate, Sir Edmund Barton, towards the close of that year - in November - desired to learn from the South Australian Government - whether the offer “of the Territory to the Commonwealth could now be considered to have been abandoned or whether it remained open, but invested with new conditions. If the latter alternative were the case, to what extent did the South Australian Government desire or understand the conditions to be altered?

These were proper questions to put, and it seems to me that any person who wished to deal in a straightforward way with this question could easily have answered them. Sir Edmund Barton simply wished to know whether the South Australian Government had withdrawn its offer of the Territory, or whether it desired to submit the Territory with new conditions. I may state that I am quoting from a precis, for the use df which I am indebted to the Prime Minister. Instead of answering those questions straightforwardly, I find that the then Premier of South Australia, Mr. Jenkins - well, I do not like to say that he shuffled, but I cannot remember any English word that so well expresses my meaning. He shuffled over his predecessors promise to introduce a Bill authorizing the construction of a transcontinental railway to Western Australia in the same manner. In this instance, instead of answering Sir Edmund Barton’s questions by a plain “ yes “ or “ no” he replied that - this Government had decided that the acceptance or rejection of tenders for the construction of the transcontinental railway - that is, the railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek, not the railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie - was a matter of such vital importance to his State that they did not feel justified in committing the decision thereon to the Federal Parliament, which might possibly be hostile to the scheme. Until, therefore,the time allowed by the Act for the receipt of tenders for the construction of the railway had expired, the Prime Minister might consider that negotiations concerning the transfer of the Northern Territory were suspended.

Sir Langdon Bonython:

– That reply cannot be considered to be a shuffle. The South Australian Government could not do otherwise than give that answer under the circumstances.

Mr MAHON:

– The reply certainly lacks candour. What had the Federal Parliament or the Commonwealth to do with the acceptance or rejection of tenders for the Pine Creek railway ? That matter was put forward as a blind, to enable Mr. Jenkins to gain time for some ulterior purpose.

Sir Langdon Bonython:

– The South Australian Parliament had passed an Act for the construction of a railway on the land grant system.

Mr MAHON:

– In the hope that some syndicate would take up the Territory, which was to be free for all time from taxation.

Sir Langdon Bonython:

– I do not wish to defend the South Australian Government in that matter, but they could not have given any other answer than the one which the honorable member has quoted.

Mr MAHON:

– At any rate, there was a withdrawal of the offer. The main point, after all, is not to be found in these side issues. It is that there was a withdrawal by the South Australian Government of their offer, made on the 18th April, 1 901, to the Commonwealth Government to take over the Northern Territory on the Commonwealth assuming its liabilities.

Sir Langdon Bonython:

– That is unquestionably so.

Mr MAHON:

– Undoubtedly. That brings me to the question which was discussed at some length in this House in 1901, and on the 10th September, 1902, when the matter came up again for consideration. We then found that the mover of the motion, Mr. V. L. Solomon, was not prepared to go on with it, because the South Australian view had changed in the meantime. The offer of the Territory was withdrawn, and something more was attempted to be extracted from the CommonWealth. So clearly was that the case, that on the 10th December the Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton, wrote the following minute : -

It seems clear that Mr. Jenkins’ desire is to keep the Northern Territory, for the present, on the chance of its being turned into a profitable asset by the construction of the land grant railwa. If this plan fails - and that is exactly what happened ; the little plan failed ; for after hawking the project all over the world no one could be found to take it up - we may expect the renewal of the proposal to the Commonwealth to take over and saddle all the States with the losses on a territory which, in such an event, will have been shown to be a losing concern.

There is a number of statistical details which follow on the file. While complimenting the honorable member for Grey on the way in which he presented the subject to the House, I wish to take exception to one of two or his statements. For instance, he has taken great credit for the fact that South Australia has preserved the Northern Territory for the white race, and has kept out Asiatic and black labour. But that statement is historically inaccurate, because the first introduction of Asiatic labour into South Australia occurred, not through the efforts of any private individual, but as the actual and direct result of a proposal of the Government of the day, which introduced 200 Chinamen shortly after the mines were discovered, about 1863 or 1864.

Sir Langdon Bonython:

– That was before there was any definite public opinion on the subject in Australia.

Mr MAHON:

– Oh! I undertake to say that there was always a definite public opinion in Australia against the introduction of Chinamen to work on the mining fields.

Sir Langdon Bonython:

– Not at that time.

Mr MAHON:

– Does the honorable member say that no antipathy to the introduction of Chinamen was manifested at Lambing Flat and other places before that period ?

Sir Langdon Bonython:

– Not so far as the northern portion of Australia was concerned.

Mr MAHON:

– What is the difference? What does it matter whether the mining fields in question were in the northern portion of Australia or elsewhere? There has always been a strong feeling in this country that our gold-fields should be reserved for exploitation by white men, and not by Chinamen. It was in connexion with the working, of the mines that the South Australian Government introduced these 200 Chinamen. Then, again, when building the line from Pine Creek to Port Darwin, in order to save £80,000 on the construction of the railway, the South Australian Government actually allowed Millar Brothers to bring in Asiatics under the seductive phrase of “optional labour”; and under that guise thousands of Chinamen were introduced, though it is true that the country did not offer them much encouragement to remain; and that, happily, they cleared out.

Mr Wilkinson:

– To Queensland.

Mr MAHON:

– Possibly; I do not know where they went. On a subsequent occasion the South Australian Parliament actual ly passed a Bill to encourage the immigration of Indian labourers to work agricultural areas in the Northern Territory.

Mr Hutchison:

– They were to be brought out under the express condition that they were to be sent back again.

Mr Tudor:

– That is how the kanakas came to Queensland.

Mr Hutchison:

– There was no Labour Party in South Australia then.

Mr MAHON:

– I recall these facts to show that the claim of the honorable member for Grey, that South Australia has kept the Northern Territory for the white race, is not historically accurate.

Mr Poynton:

– It is a fact nevertheless that South Australia has refused good offers because she would not permit any kind of labour to be employed.

Mr MAHON:

– I have often heard of these good offers, but when one analyzes them, it is generally found that they come from some enterprising but impecunious person who wants a concession to hawk round to the brokers in London, so that he may make some commission out of it.

Mr Hutchison:

– All the same, South Australia has kept coloured labour out of the Territory for many years.

Mr MAHON:

– I am free to admit that. I think it is only right that South Australia should receive credit for the fact that for many years she has done her best to keep out Asiatic labour. Nevertheless, it is scarcely fair, even on the terms which were originally offered, to ask the Commonwealth to take over the responsibilities of the Northern Territory, because in the early days there were examples of very bad financing there. For instance, I find, on reference to a speech made by Mr. V. L. Solomon, that in the land legislation and in land financing of the Territory in the early days a system prevailed whereby 160 acres could be obtained for 7s. 6d. per acre, and under that system no less than 400,000 acres of land were disposed of. The total receipts from those land sales, I believe, amounted to £104,000, and the cost of maintenance and survey in connexion with the system between 1864 and 1873 was £225,000. These figures show a ner loss in cash to the State of South Australia of £121,000 in addition to the alienation of 400,000 acres of the best land of the. Territory, including town sites. I do not see why at this time of day the Commonwealth should step in and pay for the blunders of South Australia, or for the blunders of any other State. I am unable to see why the Commonwealth should be called upon to take over a liability of that kind. I find also that the purchasers of some of these town blocks demanded an annual rental of from £70 to £100 per annum, having paid for the fee-simple only a little over 3s. per half-acre. So that the whole arrangement has been rather a bar to settlement than otherwise. So far from having tended to facilitiate settlement, as we have been led to believe, the policy of South Australia operated absolutely in the opposite direction. I do not see why we should assume the responsibility for mistakes of that kind. I do not deny that, potentially, the Northern Territory is a very rich country, that it contains great mineral resources and large possibilities of pastoral and agricultural development. Nor do I fail to recognise the necessity from a national stand-point of the Territory being under the absolute control of the national Parliament. But what I do say is that we ought not to be asked to take over the Territory, except as it stood on the 1st of

January, 1901, when the Commonwealth came into existence. I maintain that we have no right to go back and take over all the liabilities of the Territory, covering a period when it was palpably mismanaged.

Mr Hutchison:

– The Commonwealth would get assets along with the Territory.

Mr MAHON:

– That may be ; but these great assets have yet to be proved and developed. ‘In any case, if South Australia is unable to make a profit out of them, it is very doubtful whether the Commonwealth would be able to do so.

Mr Hutchison:

– South Australia has only a handful of people in a very large province, apart from the Northern Territory.

Mr MAHON:

– That may be so ; but the Northern Territory has to be developed by private enterprise, much as we dislike it; and private individuals would be just as ready to take up land owned by a State Government as land owned by the Commonwealth Government. We are not contemplating establishing a co-operative settlement in the Northern Territory. We cannot do it just yet. We cannot work the Territory by day labour, however much we might like to do so. Therefore, we must rel v on its being developed by private individuals or companies. I come back again to the point front which I started - that, in my opinion, we have no right to go back so far into the past as we are asked to do, but that we should be on a perfectly sound footing if we decided to take over the liabilities of the administration of the Territory as from the inception of Federation to date. Therefore, I desire to move, as an amendment to the honorable member’s motion : -

That- all the words after “ House “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words : “ The Government should negotiate with the Government of South Australia for the acquisition of the Northern Territory on terms just to the Commonwealth.”

This language is substantially identical with the resolution passed bv this House in 1902. I propose, further, that the following words should be added-

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable member will recollect that he seconded the motion of the honorable member for Grey, and it is not competent for an honorable member who has seconded a motion to move an amendment upon it.

Mr Deakin:

– I think that’ the honorable member for Barker seconded the motion.

Sir Langdon Bonython:

– Yes.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Perhaps it will meet the desire of the honorable member for Coolgardie if I accept the seconding of the honorable member for Barker. This will enable him to move his amendment.

Mr MAHON:

– Thank you, Mr. Speaker. If I rose to second the motion, I intended to do so only formally, to enable it to be discussed. I move -

That all the words after the word “ House “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words, “ The Government should negotiate with the Government of South Australia for the acquisition of the Northern Territory on terms just to the Commonwealth. That the Commonwealth should not assume responsibilities for any sum beyond the actual loss sustained bv South Australia in administering the affairs of the Territory since the inception of Federation on 1st January, 1901.”

Mr Kelly:

– Is this to block the northern railway proposal?

Mr MAHON:

– I have said nothing about the northern! railway proposal. A railway from Pine Creek to Oodnadatta could not now be used as a mail route to any considerable degree; and, in the present state of our knowledge, should be treated as a proposal for the development df South Austraiian territory only. I do not think that the Federal Government should make or accept any condition in reference to the construction of that line. It may be fairly claimed, however, that the proposal does not stand on the same footing as that to construct a railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta, inasmuch as in the Northern Territory there are about 4,600 persons only, the total population in 1901 being 4,320, of whom 620 were Europeans, 2,180 Chinese, and 520 Malays, Japanese, and people of other races ; whereas, on the Western Australian gold-fields, there are 50,000 white people earning good wages.

Mr Kelly:

– Would not a railway through South Australia cross better country than would be crossed by a railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta?

Mr MAHON:

– Neither the honorable member nor myself knows much about the country between Pine Creek and Oodnadatta, and therefore a discussion of the subject would be fruitless at present, though probably the land alone both routes is capable of much more profitable development than most persons now imagine. I submit the amendment in the hope that it will receive the consideration of honorable members, and will give the Govern-* ment a basis for negotiation with the South Australian Government for the acquisition of this territory.

Mr JOHNSON:
Lang

.- We are all much indebted to the honorable member for Grey for the information which he has given concerning the Northern Territory, and for the able manner in which, from his point of view, he lias put the case for its acquisition. Most of us have little knowledge of the character and potentialities of this part of the Commonwealth, and must rely mainly upon reports and other information supplied by persons who are more familiar with the country. We can, nevertheless, discuss this proposal on general business principles. One of our first considerations should be whether it would be profitable for the Commonwealth to take over the Northern Territory. I I should like the Commonwealth to acquire territory wherever in Australia it can do so under favorable circumstances, and develop valuable possessions; but, as the custodians of the people’s money, we must pay regard to the financial responsibilties connected with any proposed acquisition, and satisfy ourselves that there are reasonable prospects that the returns from it will justify the necessary expenditure. Unfortunately, the information available to us in regard to the’ Northern Territory is yet hardly sufficient to allow us to fairly determine whether it should, or should not, be acquired by the Commonwealth. According to the figures supplied by the honorable member for Grey, its indebtedness in 1901 was £2,852,495, which Kas been increased since by about £597,000 ; so that it is now about £3,450,000. Our first consideration then must be whether, in view of the many failures of attempts to establish various branches of production there, the Commonwealth is justified in undertaking a liability of that amount in order to acquire the Northern Territory, with, I understand, some new liabilities added to the conditions of taking it over.

Sir Langdon Bonython:

– Does the honorable member realize that the’ Commonwealth will acquire, not only the Northern Territory, but the railway whch has been constructed there? The value of that line is some set-off against the debt to which He refers.

Mr JOHNSON:

– Even with “the railway thrown In, we mav make a bad bargain by taking over the Northern Territory.

It does not necessarily follow, because a certain amount has been expended upon the railway, that it is an asset whose value is equal to that amount.

Sir Langdon Bonython:

– Is not the Northern Territory part of Australia, and must not the Commonwealth, therefore, be eventually responsible for its liabilities?

Mr JOHNSON:

– At the present time the Northern Territory is part of South Australia, and, while the Commonwealth is, within certain prescribed limits, responsible for the administration of the affairs of the whole of Australia, it has no control over some matters which are exclusively within the powers of the Governments of the States.

Sir Langdon Bonython:

– The debts of the States constitute the debt of the Commonwealth.

Mr JOHNSON:

– The Commonwealth has not yet taken over the debts of the States.

Sir Langdon Bonython:

– It must do so eventually.

Mr JOHNSON:

– No doubt this matter will be considered when we come to deal with proposals for taking over the debts Qf South Australia. I have admitted that the Commonwealth is, within certain limits, responsible for the administration of the affairs of the whole of Australia. It is, for instance, responsible for naval and military defence, and the Northern Territory, because of its proximity to the naval stations of Powers which, in the future, may possibly be hostile to us, it may be more liable to invasion than other parts of the Commonwealth. I have no feeling aif hostility towards the motion, but I cannot vote for it until much more information has been afforded to show the advisability of the proposed acquisition. I do not know of any urgent reason why steps to this end should be taken “immediately.” At all events, I am not inclined to precipitate action. In my opinion, nothing should be done until we have a fuller knowledge of the circumstances than is how, available to us. At the same time, it is doubtful whether an invasion of the Territory would seriously affect any of the other portions of Australia. Of course, there is a verv long line of seaboard to be protected, and it is as well to bear that fact in mind when considering the question from the standpoint of Australian defence. .There are so many difficulties surrounding the whole question, that it is impossible for those who are unacquainted with the general character of the country and its capabilities of development to decide what is best to be done. We have been informed by the honorable member for Grey that the Territory contains large areas of auriferous country, and that there is every prospect of valuable mineral developments. After all, however, the reports which have been made under this head have very largely been founded upon mere opinion and conjecture, and it would be well for us to wait until further information is available.

Sir Langdon Bonython:

– Does the honorable member think it fair that the hands of South Australia should be tied, and that the Commonwealth should still refuse to take over the Territory?

Mr JOHNSON:

– I do not suggest that the hands of the South Australian Government should be tied.

Sir Langdon Bonython:

– But they are tied. There would be no difficulty in securing the extension of the transcontinental railway upon the land-grant system, provided that the South Australian Government could agree to the introduction of coloured labour. The Government cannot, however, do anything of that kind, and I ask whether, under the circumstances, it is fair for the Commonwealth Government to refuse to take over the Territory ?

Mr JOHNSON:

– The same difficulty would occur in any other State that desired to extend its railway system under similar conditions. Therefore, I do not regard that as a very serious argument in favour of the Commonwealth immediately taking over the Territory. The honorable member for Grey told us that in the Territory were to be found large areas of good grazing country suitable for cattle, horse, and sheep breedings and that there were in the Territory 247,000 cattle, 16,760 horses, and 64,000 sheep. These figures are not very large when we consider that they relate to a territory which is two and’ a-half times as large as France, four and a-half times as large as Great Britain, six times as large as Victoria, and twenty times as large as Tasmania.

Mr Poynton:

– It must be remembered that there is no outlet for stock in the Territory.

Mr JOHNSON:

– Of course. I know that allowance must be made for that as also for the lack of any considerable European settlement.

Sir Langdon Bonython:

– Do not the honorable member’s remarks suggest that the Commonwealth should take steps to develop the Northern Territory - steps which the South Australian Government cannot take?

Mr JOHNSON:

– Certainly, if they take over the Territory. i’ think that possibly the development of the Territory might be promoted by introducing immigrants of the right stamp. I understand, however, that a certain section of honorable members are strongly opposed to. the immigration of even Europeans whocould find profitable employment in rural occupations. We may, therefore, find ourselves confronted with an obstacle in that direction.

Mr Storrer:

– Who entertains the ob- ,jection referred to?

Mr JOHNSON:

– Several members of the Labour. Party have expressed themselves to that effect at various times. However, I think that the general feeling prevalent among honorable members is that we should preserve Australia as far as possible for the white races. The report which was recently made by Sir George Le Hunte, the Governor of South Australia,, and ordered by the Senate to be printed,, on 13th September, last year, seems to indicate that the development of the Northern Territory cannot be carried out bv means of white labour. Sir George Le Hunte says -

The evidence of nearly all who have studied the subject on the spot is unanimous that tropical products cannot be grown to pay in any large quantity in the Northern Territory without the introduction of cheap labour suitable for the climAte and suitable for the industry for which they would be required ; in other words, that coloured imported labour is a necessity.

Sir Langdon Bonython:

– If South Australia were inclined to adopt that policy, she would be powerless to carry her wishesinto effect.

Mr Deakin:

– The Commonwealth would” also be powerless, unless its laws were altered.

Sir Langdon Bonython:

– That is noreason, why the responsibility of the Northern Territory should not pass to the Commonwealth.

Mr JOHNSON:

– Still, we must consider that difficulty when we are dealing with this question. If it be true that theTerritory cannot be developed except by the introduction of coloured labour, and our laws preclude us from taking steps in that direction, we might find a very expensive white elephant thrown on our hands. Of course, His Excellency the Governor of South Australia may be wrong.

Sir Langdon Bonython:

– There are many good opinions on the other side.

Mr JOHNSON:

– I have not had an opportunity of reading them. The report from which I have quoted is a comparatively recent one, and I have not seen any others of a more recent d’ate, nor do I know of the existence of any. I notice that the cold, clammy digits of the land monopolist have already been spread over the map of the Northern Territory, with a view to getting ahead of settlement and production, and of reaping the results of the labours of others. In paragraph 66 of Sir George Le Hunte’s report he says -

The success of the pastoral industry in the Northern Territory is undoubtedly assured, and will be capable of indefinite extension. As I have shown we only saw the beginning of the good country, in the driest year they have had for many years, and the cattle we saw were -well bred, in splendid condition, and fast increasing. I regret very much that the time, would not permit of another trip to the Roper River, on the east, and from there overland to the Katherine, especially as this part of the country is being brought into notice by the Roper River Concession Syndicate (Melbourne) who are offering lands for settlement by Scotch families on the Roper, and intend to assist them by making a railway line for transport to the places of shipment on the river. This would have taken us across the tableland, which is part of the best stock country. Should I ever be given another opportunity I should like to do this. We did not get far enough south to see the sheep country, which, I hear, is excellent. There should l)e a great future for the cattle and horsebreeding industry if proper facilities are given for reaching the internal and foreign markets. What is wanted, also, are not only large runs in the hands of capitalists, but smaller ones occupied by resident families.

If the “Commonwealth take over the Territory, I hope that measures will be adopted to safeguard the interests of the smaller settlers, and to prevent the land from falling into the hands of mere speculators1, who will operate to the disadvantage of the real .pioneers, who are the active agents in the development of the country. Even this remote portion of Australia has not escaped the attention of speculative land-grabbers ; although I am glad to say that up to the present the enterprises of such persons do not appear to have been verv successful. The honorable member for Grey referred to certain tropical productions grown in India, which, he said, could be cultivated with very great advan tage in the Territory. He mentioned cotton, jute, hemp, fibre, kapok, and! rubber. I am not in a position to say anything authoritatively as to the capabilities of the country, but I am informed that experiments in the growing of rubber have not been particularly successful. Where the rubber has been grown under artificial conditions, it seems to have thriven all right, but under natural conditions, and subject to ordinary climatic influences, its cultivation has proved a rank failure. Therefore, it would appear that we cannot reckon upon rubber as one of the articles that could be produced with good commercial results! in the Territory.

Mr Poynton:

– A Mr. McPhie, who was interviewed in Adelaide only last week, intends to start an industry in the Northern Territory, and considers that he will be able to work it with white labour.

Mr JOHNSON:

– It is- to be hoped that he will succeed. In paragraph 67 of Sir George Le Hunte’s report upon the agricultural industry of the Territory I find the following, : -

This is a much more difficult problem to solve. The pastoral question has solved itself into a mere matter of good stock, numbers, and markets ; the labour question has not to be considered. But it is very difficult in the agricultural problem. In this, two factors are of primary importance - the suitability of the soil for the cultivation of products of commercial value, and the production of these at a cost which will enable them to be placed on the markets of the world on a level footing with those of other countries.

These are two very important considerations. The report continues -

With regard to the first, it is constantly said that the Northern Territory “ can produce anything.” I do not know a more dangerous advertisement, unless the greatest care is exercised in finding out which particular product is suited to each particular place.

There seems to be good sound reason underlying that contention. At any rate, the present Governor of South Australia has visited and toured the Territory, and has thus been in a position to make local inquiries. Consequently, any opinions which he may offer upon such points as those to which I have referred, are entitled to consideration and respect at the hands of honorable members.

Sir Langdon Bonython:

Sir George Le Hunte has had great tropical experience. He lived for many years in the tropics, and. therefore, speaks as an expert.

Mr JOHNSON:

– Exactly : and that affords additional reason for giving due weight to his opinions. That gentleman goes on to say -

The establishment of a sugar factory at De Lissaville, on Douglas Peninsula, to the northwest of Port Darwin, some years ago, was a disastrous failure, as, after its erection, it was found that the land there was unsuited to sugar cultivation. Again, things that thrived wonderfully well in nurseries may often turn out a failure when cultivated on a larger scale.

That is said to have been the case in regard to the production of indiarubber, to which I have already referred. Sir George Le Hunte continues -

Nothing but the most careful examination by experts in each particular industry, and a favorable report of the result, will justify any one in inducing others to take up land for tropical cultivation. There is, no doubt, a great deal of land that can be cultivated in cotton, rice, sugar, rubber, &c. ; but each must be carefully examined, and the fitness of each for its proper product determined by practical experiment. Otherwise disappointment, failure, and an undeserved bad name for the country will be the result. It cannot alford any more failures in this direction.

As I have previously urged, statements of this character coming from such a source should certainly carry very great weight with honorable members. I have also heard it rumoured that amongst men, and amongst cattle, there is a very peculiar and distressing .disease prevalent throughout that country - a disease which nobody seems to be able to account for. I do not know whether this fact has come to the knowledge of other honorable members, but I presume that it has. The matter is one into the details of which I cannot enter on the floor of this Chamber, but certainly, if the disease exists to the extent that has been represented, it may constitute a very serious bar to anything like successful white settlement in the Territory. At any rate, it is a matter upon which we should have some reliable information before finally dealing with this question.

Mr Liddell:

– What is the disease?

Mr JOHNSON:

– I cannot tell the honorable member the name of it, but I can privately explain its character. In paragraph 73 of his report Sir George Le Hunte, after dealing with racial considerations, and the objections which are entertained by Australians to the admission of coloured aliens into the Commonwealth, says -

I am not advocating here the alteration or modification of any existing law ; that is not my province : but I have endeavoured to show how, should the time ever come when an alteration or modification may be considered, there need be no real fears of the results which, at the present time, are so commonly expressed.

The foregoing remarks have reference to the importation of coloured labour for the development of the Territory. Sir George Le Hunte adds -

I share, however, the opinion that tropical agriculture in the Northern Territory cannot be developed with white labour. It is for the people of Australia to decide whether it shall ever be given a fair chance. Under whatever restrictions it may be found advisable to adopt as to a limit of the geographical field of employment, the definite nature of the employment and the exclusion from others, the duration of the residence and the absolute condition of return at the expiration of the contract, with all these, I believe that, by the employment of coloured labour under indenture upon the lines of the organized systems in other tropical British possessions, Australia would find an immense source of agricultural wealth in its tropical north which, without it, will never be developed.

If that be really so, we shall be taking a very serious responsibility upon our shoulders if we accept the control of the Northern Territory. Of course, it may be that Sir George Le Hunte is wrong in his conclusions, and that it is possible to develop that country by means of white labour. But if that cannot be done, by accepting control of the Territory we are likely to saddle the Commonwealth with the expense of administering a vast area from which it is, in the light of what little knowledge is at present at our command, very doubtful whether we shall obtain anything like a satisfactory financial return.

Sir Langdon Bonython:

– But should not the Commonwealth accept the responsibility of administering- the Northern Territory, seeing that it determines the conditions to be observed in that territory ?

Mr JOHNSON:

– Not necessarily. The same argument would apply with equal force to any other portion of the continent which was subject to the same conditions. I do not see that the Commonwealth is under any obligation to accept the control of the Northern Territory merely because certain conditions as to alien labour have been made to apply to it in common with the whole of Australia.

Sir Langdon Bonython:

– What other portion of Australia is being offered to the Commonwealth for similar reasons?

Mr JOHNSON:

– The advisability or otherwise of the Commonwealth assuming control of the Northern Territory depends-, first, upon the financial consideration - which is the main consideration ; secondly, upon the question of defence, and, thirdly, upon the question of whether it is possible to populate the Territory with our own people with a view to develop its resources upon the best possible lines, thus insuring a return to the Commonwealth upon the investment itself, whilst assisting in the development of Australia as a whole. These are the views which I hold upon the matter. So far as the question of taking over the Territory -per se is concerned, I have an open mind. I am dealing with this proposal not in any hostile spirit, but rather in a spirit of inquiry. I should like to be placed in possession of more definite and accurate data than is at present available to honorable members, and I have no doubt that, before the Government take practical steps to acquire the Territory, every possible source of information will be tapped, with a view to obtaining the fullest and most reliable information upon all points upon which it is necessary that they should have knowledge.

Mr DEAKIN:
Minister of External Affairs · Ballarat · Protectionist

– The submission of this motion is a very proper proceeding on the part of the honorable member who has introduced it to-day, and it is but natural that it should receive the cordial support of the honorable member for Barker, who, during the present session, has already addressed himself to the question upon the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply. In looking up the first discussion in 1901-2, I was not surprised to find the names of the honorable member for Grey and the honorable member for Barker bracketed together, or to observe that upon that occasion both displayed the same knowledge of the subject, and the same interest in pressing it upon the attention of the House, that they have exhibited to-day. If I may be permitted to digress by referring, to an interjection on the part of the honorable member for Coolgardie, I notice that he also spoke during the first discussion; and, although the honorable member for Wentworth had not at that time the inestimable privilege of being a member of the House, he seems, by some mysterious process, to have inspired another honorable member to make the same interjection which he made to-day, and to which practically the same answer was given by the honorable member for Coolgardie.

Mr Tudor:

– It is a matter of history repeating itself.

Mr DEAKIN:

– Without detaining the House too long, may I be permitted to reca pitulate briefly the various steps which have brought us to our present position, because I think that, naturally, and yet unwittingly, the honorable member for Grey has conveyed an impression of backwardness on the part of the Commonwealth, which is not justified, if we take into account the various intermediate stages through which this question had to pass. I find that it was on the 18th April, 1901, that you, sir, as Premier of South Australia, submitted the first offer of the Territory to the Commonwealth Government. As you will doubtless recollect, owing to the loss of certain papers which you had ordered to be transmitted, some five or six weeks elapsed before they were traced through the Post Office to another destination, recovered, and placed in the hands of the Commonwealth Government. Copies of your letter were made, and the Cabinet took the matter into immediate consideration. Then, consequent upon your acceptance of a seat in this House, you retired from the Premiership of South Australia, and your successor, Mr. Jenkins, indorsed the views of the Cabinet of which you had been the head. In other words, it was not until July of that year that we were really faced with this proposal in a definite shape. In the same month one of the representatives of South Australia in ‘this House, Mr. V. L. Solomon, tabled a motion favouring the transfer of the Territory to the Commonwealth. Having lived for a length of time in the Northern Territory, the honorable member was peculiarly qualified from personal experience to speak with regard to its conditions and prospects. He moved a motion which was debated at various intervals until the following year. It was in July that Mr. Jenkins agreed to the proposal, and as early as December, 1901, the Legislative Council of South Australia closed a debate upon this subject with a declaration that not only the liabilities of the Northern Territory should be paid bv the Commonwealth Government, if it accepted the Territory, but that the boundary of South Australia should be altered, and that’ the Commonwealth; Government should guarantee to complete the Transcontinental Railway. This was followed shortly after by the introduction of a measure into the South Australian Parliament providing for the construction of a transcontinental railway on the land-grant system. This was debated, and its effect was that in September, 1.Q02 - and I refer honorable members to Hansard of that year, page 15898 - the honorable member for Grey said -

Both in the Legislative Council and in the House of Assembly of that State a resolution has teen carried which, if it does not altogether repudiate the offer made on behalf of that State by you, sir, when you were Premier, certainly approaches very closely to it.

At the close of his remarks On that occasion, the same honorable member said -

Undoubtedly South Australia has repudiate*! the offer then made, and is attempting to dictate terms which were never mentioned when this proposal was before the State Legislature some years ago.

The honorable member for Barker, entirely in sympathy with that view, said -

It is true that the offer made by you, sir, as Premier of South Australia has not actually been -withdrawn, but practically it has been withdrawn. That is proved, I think, by the action which has recently’ been taken by both Houses of the South Australian Legislature. Under these circumstances, I am not at all sure that it is wise for this House to further debate the question.

The actual position which the Commonwealth then occupied was that, while the acceptance of this Territory was under discussion, though no limitation had been imposed as to the terms on which it might be taken over, the South Australian Government and Parliament thought fit to alter their view, and to take action which, as was pointed out at the time, was quite inconsistent with the offer which had been made to us. Correspondence followed in which the then Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton, put the question plainly to the Premier of South Australia, and after the interchange of a letter or two the Premier of South Australia made an admission which he put in “terms that were not altogether complimentary to the Commonwealth. Writing on the 1st December, 1902, he said -

The construction of the Transcontinental Railway is a matter of such vital importance to the State of South Australia that the Government does not feel justified in committing the decision thereupon to the Federal Parliament, which may possibly be hostile to a scheme which has the almost unanimous support of the people and Parliament of this State. Until, therefore, the time allowed by the Act for the receipt of tenders for the construction of the railway has expired, you will please consider that all negotiations concerning the transfer of the Northern Territory are suspended.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Did they get any tenders ?

Mr DEAKIN:

– There were, I believe, some inquiries, and some speculative offers, but no tenders worthy of the name were received. I am not contradicting the honorable member for Grey, but pointing out that unless his sketch of the history of this transaction were supplemented by a knowledge of the intermediate facts, it might be assumed that the Commonwealth had been remiss in not dealing more expeditiously and favorably with the original proposal from South Australia. As a matter of fact, directly the offer was made, it was taken into serious consideration, and directly it was re-indorsed by a new Government who had come into office its discussion was commenced by this House. Before we could arrive at a decision upon the subject, the attitude of South Australia was altered. Still we persisted in our endeavour to carry a resolution, and succeeded in leading this House to express the willingness of the Commonwealth Parliament to accept the Northern Territory on just terms. I venture to submit that in view of the fact that this was done in the very earliest days of the Commonwealth Parliament, when we were overburdened with legislation for Federal organization, in connexion with the Tariff, and a number of other urgent questions, it cannot be said that any undue deliberation or any unwillingness to deal with this matter was exhibited. On the contrary, the feeling of this Parliament was entirely in favour of the proposition being reduced to a business basis. South Australia alone is responsible for the withdrawal of the offer made in 1901.

Mr Poynton:

– I never suggested otherwise.

Mr DEAKIN:

– I know the honorable member did not, but honorable members fresh to the consideration of the subject, and thinking merely of the time that has elapsed, might infer that this delay was due to us. The question did not come before us again until within the last few months. There was a break, for which we were not responsible, from the dose of 1.902 to the close of 1905. At the end of 7905, the House of Assembly of the South Australian Parliament carried a resolution, practically repeating the very resolution passed by the Legislative Council of South Australia in 1902, that caused an honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Solomon, to desire to withdraw the motion he had moved in this House. It also led to the honorable members for Grey and Barker to use the remarks with reference to repudiation to which I have already referred.

Mr Johnson:

– There was an interval of three years.

Mr DEAKIN:

– Yes, but after that interval the South Australian House of Assembly carried practically the same resolution as that which I have shown was not favoured by the honorable members to whom I have referred. The South Australian House of Assembly first advised the South Australian Government to re-open negotiations with us. In the second place, they asked for the payment of the total amount expended by .South Australia, not only in connexion with the settlement, but with the administration of the Northern Territory up to the date of its transfer. The next condition they proposed was that the Commonwealth Government should agree to construct the Transcontinental line from the southern border to the present terminus at Pine Creek, which, as honorable members will recollect, is the inland terminus of the line! constructed from Port Darwin. They then went on not only to ask for the construction of the railway, but to say what the line of route should be - within 1.00 miles east and west of the present Overland Telegraph line, and to recommend where the termini should be. They finally sought to impose a condition that the construction of the line must be commenced within twelve months from the passing of the necessary Acts by the State and Commonwealth Parliaments, and that the results of such negotiations should be submitted to the South Australian House of Assembly. Consequently, they asked for more than the South Australian Legislative Council had previously asked.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– “ Ask and ve shall receive, that your joy may be full.”

Mr DEAKIN:

– I think their joy would have been very full and even overflowing, if they had obtained an acceptance of those terms.

Mr Poynton:

– I think the Legislative Council’s resolution limited the area to be handed over.

Mr DEAKIN:

– Yes; in their resolution they asked that the boundary should be extended northward to the 21st parallel of latitude. Of course this was only the commencement of negotiations, and every one knows that a preliminary offer of this kind is not intended to represent the final minds of the parties. The last resolution was passed in December, 1905, and was forwarded to us on the 3rd February this year, with a statement from the leader of the South Australian Government -

I shall be glad lo receive an expression of the views of your Government, as Ministers may feel disposed to submit the question for discussion at the forthcoming conference of Premiers in Sydney.

So far as I am aware, it was not submitted at the Conference. An appendix, containing a very valuable statement, appears at page 214 of the proceedings of the Conference, to which honorable members car* refer if they so desire, showing the prospects of the Territory, according to Mr. Brown, the Government Geologist of South Australia, on the nth April in this year. But no proposition, so far as I am aware,, was made to the Premiers, and certainly not to the Commonwealth Government at that Conference. The South Australian Government wrote on the 3rd February, and on the ‘23rd February we replied in a letter to which reference has been made. We pointed out that in 1901 they offered us the Territory, including the railway and all the other assets, for the liabilities, which then amounted to £2,800,000. That offer this year meant the taking over of liabilities amounting to £3,400,000. We said that during the five years which had passed since the original offer was made, the price the Commonwealth was asked to pay had been increased by over £500,000, and, in addition, a new obligation was introduced binding the Commonwealth to construct a railway estimated to cost several millions) sterling. We said, further, that -

Under these circumstances, it is natural to inquire what has happened to justify this remarkable enhancement. When the Government of your State in 1902 withdrew the offer of the Territory to the Commonwealth, it was in the belief that private enterprise would be prepared to construct the railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek on the consideration of grants of land tothe extent of about 75,000,000 acres, and in addition any profits which might be made from running the line. That project was extensively advertised throughout the world, but, so far as this Government is aware, no offers were made to undertake it on the terms proposed.

Then we proceeded to concur with them that the settlement of the Territory was an enterprise of national importance. We supposed that it would1 involve a very large investment of public money to make it thoroughly remunerative, and to populate it. but we recognised the obligation to consider it in the interests of Australia, and said -

Any transactions in relation to it ought not to be entered upon in a narrow spirit of barter, but with due regard to the interests of the whole of our people.

We then put to them one or two questions as to whether they indorsed the proposal for transfer, and the extent to which they adoptedthe terms of the resolution passed by the House of Assembly, and also the pertinent inquiry -

Why should the proprietorship of an area apparently rich in potentialities of wealth and progress imply annual deficits?

The 6th of April is the date of their reply. from which the honorable member for Grey has made some extracts. In this letter they point out that -

The proprietorship of the Territory does not imply annual deficits if in the hands of a Government unhampered by restrictions such as are imposed upon the State by Federal legislation, in the shape of the bar against the importation of white labour under contract, and the nonadmission of railway plant duty free.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Who wrote this letter ?

Mr DEAKIN:

– This is a letter from the Government of South Australia, signed by Mr. Kirkpatrick, as Acting Premier.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Does he raise the white labour difficulty?

Mr DEAKIN:

– He points out that-

This Government has conditional offers to construct a railway on the land grant system. The conditions relate to the prohibition of the importation of contract labour, and exemptions of Customs duties on plant and material.

Having shown the reasons why he alluded to these conditions, he says, further -

Our reasons for asking a higher price than was named in 1901 are : - The additional cost incurred since that date, and the fact that we are offering a greater area than was then offered. Moreover, we have now to construct the railway from the present terminus, Oodnadatta, to our northern border.

Then he says that they are particularly desirous of having the overland line from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek completed. On the 30th April we replied in a letter which does not appear to have reached the honorable member for Grey, and which, perhaps. I ought to read -

In continuation of my letter of the11th inst. acknowledging the receipt of yours of 6th idem., on the subject of the Northern Territory, I have the honour to inform you that the second paragraph of that communication contains the first reference which has reached this Government to the alleged disabilities placed in the way of successful administration of the Territory by reason of Federal legislation.

  1. There appears to be some misunderstanding with respect to the difficulty of importation of white labourers under contract. I enclose a copy of the Contract Immigrants Act, passed during the recent session, and invite your attention to its terms.
  2. If the proposed immigrants are of British birth or descent, all that is necessary is that the contracts relating to their employment shall be filled before their admission, and that such contracts shall show that the men are not brought here in contemplation of an industrial dispute, and that the terms of their agreements are not unfair.
  3. If the proposed contract labourers are not British, there is an additional proviso to the effect that it must be shown that a sufficient number of men suitable for the work are not to be found in Australia.
  4. No application has been received by me for the registration of any contract for labourers to work on the proposed railway, nor has any application of a preliminary character been made to ascertain whether Ministerial approval would be given to any special terms.
  5. Under the circumstances, therefore, this Government cannot admit that the Federal legislation with regard to contract labour has any effect whatever on the Northern Territory or the proposed railway..
  6. Similar remarks apply to the admission of railway plant duty free. No request has reached this Government for any concessions in this direction, and in any case the amount of money involved would surely be a comparatively small item in the very heavy expenditure which the construction of the railway would involve.
  7. Further, the force of your argument that the difficulties imposed by Federal legislation, presuming them to exist, bear more hardly upon the State than upon the Commonwealth is not apparent. Because the Commonwealth Government is charged with the duty of administering the laws which have been passed by the Federal Parliament, it is not therebyrelieved from the obligations of complying with those laws in precisely the same manner that is obligatory upon every other Government, corporation or individual within the Commonwealth.
  8. I shall be glad to be favoured with par ticulars respecting the conditional offers which I learn have been made to your Government to construct the railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek.
  9. I regret that in response to my request for the reasons which have induced your Government to require higher terms from the Commonwealth than were named by your predecessor, Mr. Holder, when making an offer of the Territory in 1901, the only contentions you now put forward are : -

    1. That additional cost has been incurred since 1901 ;
    2. That a greater area is now offered ;
    3. That you have to construct a railway from Oodnadatta to the northern boundary of your State ;
    4. That your Government is particularly desirous of having the overland line completed for the reason that it will enhance the value of the Crown lands passed through, and will improve the earning capacity of existing lines.
  10. In considering these I shall be glad to know in regard to -

    1. Whether the additional cost referred to has improved the facilities for the settlement of the Territory ; i.e., has it been expended in promoting development, or has it not rather been in the nature of payments of accumulated interest on previously existing debts?
    2. What greater area is now offered? Mr. Holder in 1901 intimated the readiness of his Government to offer “the territory known as the Northern Territory.” Your letter of 3rd February refers merely to the Northern Territory. Will you kindly say whether the boundaries have been altered in the meantime, and if so, by what means and to what extent.
    3. In what way the position of the State has altered ? In the 1901 offer there was no mention of any railway, and consequently no obligation of the Commonwealth to construct one either wholly or in part. Any benefit to your land or railway revenues is hardly a ground for enhancing the price you now ask from us.
  11. The figures showing revenue and expenditure in the Territory have not yet been fully considered. It appears possible that further information may be required by the auditors in regard to the practice of crediting the proceeds of land sales to revenue, and also as to the extent of the allowance, if any, made for depreciation of plant, &c, on the Pine Creek railway.
  12. I shall be glad if your Government will give further consideration to the question, and submit an offer more nearly on the lines of the one made by Mr. Holder. If you can see your way to take that step, this Government will undertake to bring the proposal before the Parliament without delay, with a view to ascertaining whether it is willing, on behalf of the whole Commonwealth, to undertake the important and onerous duty of attempting to develop the resources of the Northern Territory.

We wrote that, as I have said, on the 30th April, and more than two months have elapsed since. I am not complaining of the delay, because the questions we asked are searching, and this is a matter involving a great many other considerations besides those mentioned. The Government of South Australia are quite justified in not committing themselves hurriedly to an offer to which it would not feel sure of obtaining the’ support of both Parliament and people. We were always anxious to be prompt, and at no stage has there been any delay on our part. Our replies have not only been quick, but, as I think the House will see, they have been direct.

Sir Langdon Bonython:

– I do not think there is any accusation of delay on the part of the Commonwealth Government.

Mr DEAKIN:

– I rather understood that was implied.

Sir Langdon Bonython:

– I do not think so.

Mr DEAKIN:

– Within the last few days the South Australian newspapers have published a cablegram, containing the following : -

A number of strong financiers have made a proposal for the completion of the Transcontinental Railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek, to connect Adelaide with Port Darwin. They are willing to pay down a deposit of ?50,000 as a guarantee for the satisfactory carrying out of the work, and ask for a twelve months’ option. They are anxiously awaiting the decision of the South Australian Government. They are confident of a successful issue for their scheme if the consent of the State is not delayed.

On this Mr. Price was interviewed and reported by the newspaper asfollows: -

Mr. Price cannot understand the statement that the financiers are anxiously awaiting the decision of the South Australian Government, because it was cabled to the Agent-General last week. The reply was that the offer could not be entertained because of the negotiations which are going on between the Federal and the South Australian Governments for the Commonwealth to take over the Northern Territory. When reminded of the fact that the Transcontinental Land Grant Railway Act is still on our statutebook -

That is the South Australian statute-book -

Mr. Price pointed out that its operation had virtually expired, and that its provisions are in force only at the discretion of the Government.

Mr. Price went on to say

However, I have laid this and other proposals before Mr. Deakin, so as to prove to him that in taking over the Northern Territory the Commonwealth would be acquiring no dead horse.

It will be observed that the Premier of South Australia has been cabling to the Agent-General of that State with reference to a large financial proposal connected with the Northern Territory, and, consequently, one reason for his delay in replying can be understood. I have not yet received any information as to this offer, but fail to see anything in the negotiations now proceeding with the Commonwealth which ought to really embarrass the Premier of South Australia in dealing with any offer as to the railway which he thought he ought to entertain. Apparently there is an option for twelve months, because there has to be a deposit within that time of ?50,000 as a guarantee for the satisfactory carrying out of the work. As I read the cable, this money will have to be returned if the operations are not undertaken -within twelve months.

Mr McWILLIAMS:
FRANKLIN, TASMANIA · REV TAR; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; CP from 1920; IND from 1928

– Is it not the other way - that the syndicate shall forfeit the money if they do not carry out the agreement ?

Mr Poynton:

Mr. Price referred to the fact that there might be failure after the twelve months, and he wanted the £50.000 first.

Mr DEAKIN:

– I think the honorable member is right. Mr. Price, speaking to the newspaper said -

The proposal was that the financiers concerned should have, he believed, a twelve months’ option, and that during that period the£50,000 should be deposited.

Mr Johnson:

– So that the syndicate have twelve months in which to make up their minds.

Mr DEAKIN:

– I do not think that a proposal of that kind need be at all affected by the fact that there have been tentative negotiations with the Commonwealth. If a bona fide proposal for the construction of an overland railway on terms which either the State or the Commonwealth, or both, could accept were made, one would have supposed that it would have been communicated to us. Nothing more was nceessary. Taking into account the anxiety expressed for the railway, one would expect, whether the Commonwealth took over the Territory or not, that promising negotiations would be pushed on by so shrewd a business man as the Premier of South Australia. Therefore, I am as yet not personally impressed - though there may be a great deal more of which we have not been informed - with anything of which we are aware in connexion with the offers made to construct an overland railway. That, of course, leaves us still face to face with the original question. If I have established my first point, that any review of the various stages in these negotiations show that the Commonwealth has not been backward in any way, on the other hand the action taken in South Australia appears to suggest a divided opinion.It is part of our business, as Federal representatives, to read as many of the leading newspapers as we can, and I make it my business to keep an eye on the South Australian newspapers - one in particular - to learn what is transpiring in that State.Judging from letters which ap pear in that newspaper, the South Australians are not yet unanimous as to parting with the Northern Territory on any terms. There are South Australians who take a sanguine view of the material possibilities of the Territory.

Mr Watson:

– The Territory is a pretty big burden upon their finances.

Mr DEAKIN:

– Yes ; but those gentlemen who, so far as I know, have no financial interest in the matterbeyond that of taxpayers, take so hopeful a view of the possibilities of the Territory that, with evident sincerity, they declare that it should be retained by the State.

Mr Poynton:

Mr. Darling was strongly of that opinon, and he is a shrewd man.

Mr DEAKIN:

– Under the circumstances, the hesitation which has been displayed by the South Australian Government may be natural. Apparently, the people of South Australia, or their representatives, have not yet entirely made up their minds unless, indeed, they can get such terms as are suggested by the last resolution ; in which case, I cannot imagine there is a person in South Australia who would not jump at a settlement. That, however, does not dispose of the case put by the honorable member for Grey. For my own part, I do not wish to refer to the debate of 1902. when it was my fortune, in consequence of the absence of Sir Edmund Barton, to speak on this question, and to consider the undoubtedly great prospects of the Northern Territory. Of course, we are confronted by the difficulty to which the honorable member for Lang called special attention. Taking over the Territory would raise directly a problem, which, as yet, only affects us indirectly, that is, the question of the labour to be used in its development. But it is also true that such a difficulty is greatly exaggerated by most of those who discuss it. That part of the Northern Territory which is now utilized, and likely to be utilized, for pastoral pursuits, is a plateau.

Mr Watson:

– Where there is a splendid climate.

Mr DEAKIN:

– Itis admitted by all observers that the climate there, far from being likely to impair the vigour of the white man, is excellent. Then, again, I am told that mining with coloured labour in the Northern Territory is actually dying out - that mining with white labour, so far as the prospects admit, has not suffered, and that there is nothing to prevent the whole industry from being carried on without the assistance of coloured labour.

Mr Johnson:

– j was speaking in view of the report of the Governor of South Australia.

Mr Watson:

– The Governor of South Australia says nothing against the climate.

Mr DEAKIN:

– I am not disputing what the honorable member for Lang said, but merely narrowing down the problem to its actual limits. As in Queensland, the problem relates only to the low-lying coastbelt, where there is a moist heat, and where the land is, no doubt, peculiarlysuitable for tropical cultivation. Even there the problem in the Northern Territory is not that of coloured labour against white labour. Even in those parts which are suitable for tropical agriculture, the choice is between the northern European and the southern European. The question which will have to be considered is whether, if our own countrymen will not take the land up, it is not to the interests of Australia to people it with those inhabitants of southern Europe, who are accustomed to a climate, at all events, approaching that of the Northern Territory, and who are, by nature and practice, agriculturists. Many of those people, who are leaving for the United States and South America, have been agriculturists for generations, and are practically never known to turn to other occupations.

Mr McWilliams:

– The experience is that southern Europeans are not agriculturists in the United States.

Mr DEAKIN:

– I am perfectly aware of that, but am guarding myself bysaying that my statement refers to the present immigration of southern Europeans to the United States and South America. To my own knowledge, a proposal to bring similar agriculturists to this country has been made to one State, and is about to be made to another State. These immigrants are men of splendid physique, and of good character, and they are so thoroughly country dwellers that, as I say, they are scarcely ever known to leave the soil. Of course, like all other European people, they require to adapt themselves to Australian conditions, but, before we give up the idea of cultivating these low-lying tropical lands, it would be worth the while of any State, or the whole of the States, to try whether, if people from

Great Britain will not undertake the work, people from southern Europe will do so. If by those means we solve the one problem that remains–

Mr Kelly:

– How could we keep those people there?

Mr DEAKIN:

– We should not requireto keep them if they are agriculturists.

Mr Kelly:

– Land would be given to them ?

Mr DEAKIN:

– They would requireland. When the honorable member talks of keeping the immigrants there he must remember that probably a generation or twowould pass before there would be any movement among a people who, above all tilings, cling to the land, and satisfy their ambition in becoming landed proprietors. If their occupation is remunerative to them, one should not expect, in the light of the experience in South America, to see any movement on their part for some time.

Mr Liddell:

– - The Prime Minister does not object to the introduction of those people ?

Mr DEAKIN:

– I never have objected. Undertaken with caution and guardedly, and subject to reasonable conditions, I have always been in favour of the introduction of such people in a case of this kind. Indeed, as a last resort, anything would be better than to leave this territory entirely unoccupied as it is to-day.

Sir Langdon Bonython:

– The Prime Minister proposes to give effect to the suggestion of the President of the United States ?

Mr DEAKIN:

– Yes. The President of the United States, if I may say so, used words of wisdom when he told us to fill our cradles and our continent. Nevertheless the problem in the Northern Territory need not be nearly so severe as many assume. Yet the problem is there. and beyond it is the greater problem of increasing the white population there and everywhere in Australia. I do not think any one can complain of the South Australian policy, which has been spirited and liberal. One of the most discouraging features in connexion with the Northern Territory is the fact that, although land has been offered by the South Australian Government on the most favorable terms - although great encouragement has been given, and public money for many years has been spent liberally in the attempt to establish tropical agriculture - the effect of all’ this effort has practically resulted in next to nothing. The South Australian

Government may have made mistakes, and, no doubt, has done so; but, sofar as tropical agriculture and pastoral pursuits are concerned, I do not know any Government that has given more encouragement ; and yet the result has been unsatisfactory. It is no reflection on South Australia to-day that the Northern Territory is not a great success. In the time and with the means at their disposal, they have done everything that couldbe expected of them. Of course, different methods prevail to-day. We have made advances. We must believe that a country so obviously rich in mineral and agricultural resources, if settled in the right way, is capable of being utilised in such a manner as will be satisfactory to the people of this country, whose money will be spent in its development.

Mr McWilliams:

– Has any explanation been given as to why people do not go into the Northern Territory as readily as they go into Northern Queensland?

Mr DEAKIN:

– We must remember that Northern Queensland is less remote than the Northern Territory. It is easier to gain access to it, the shipping facilities are greater, and there is also the great advantage that at the back of, and close to, the low lying tropical country of Queensland, there is an elevated plateau, in which wage-earners can find employment in farming or mining, and can. with ease, transfer their services to a good climate, where they can be profitably employed. But we have always to recollect, as to the Northern Territory, when we are speaking of tropical agriculture, that we are quite close to some of the cheapest and richest countries in the world. I allude, of course, to Java and the Straits Settlements, about which Senator Staniforth Smith has recently written so interesting and valuable a report. At our very door, so to speak, we have countries possessed of the richest kind of soil, with the cheapest labour. In view of those facts, we must always bear in mind, in considering the possibilities of tropical agriculture in the Northern Territory, that the Commonwealth must consume nearly all that can be produced there, and must take care that special provision is made in our Tariff to give such aids as are necessary to producers in that part of the country. I do not wish to discuss the possibilities of the Territory from the point of view of meat export and horse raising, to which the honorable member who moved this motion re ferred. They are very encouraging at the present time. We are all glad to know that the great primary industries of the Northern Territory are prosperous, and believe’ they will continue to be so. Of course, there is a great deal that might be said upon the subject of the resources and possibilities of the Territory, but I need not discuss them now. It seems to me that we are entitled to ask the House to give sympathetic consideration to the motion which has been submitted. Even the amendment moved by the honorable member for Coolgardie does not appear in any sense hostile. The honorable member for Grey realizes, as we all realize, that this is a question that has to be discussed as a matter of business. I do not say that it is only a matter of business. We are justified in saying that it is a national matter, which should be looked at in national aspects. But when we come to deal with South Australliai - a State renowned for the great economy and the sound lines on which its finances have been conducted by successive Premiers and Treasurers of distinguished attainments - we have to remember that we are dealing with very competent business people indeed. The honorable member for Coolgardie takes up a position of cautious reserve towards the South Australian Government offer. Apart from its terms, I think that we ought to come to business, and that the sooner we do so the better. If the South Australian Government will reply to my letter of 30th April, and will furnish the information desired, we will not prolong the correspondence. If they come down with a practical proposal, we will with pleasure and promptness submit the matter to this House. What we want to get from them - if I may be pardoned for saying so, with every respect ‘for their previous letters on the subject - is a reasonable offer. I look upon the proposal, directing us to construct a railway, and dictating conditions with regard to it, as not being such an offer as we ought to be asked to consider. Whatever terms we may discuss with the South Australian Government, after we come into accord with them, will have to be submitted to both the State and the Commonwealth Parliaments. Neither of uscan be caught napping. No hard bargain can be driven by either. If South Australia will make up its mind that it really does wish the Commonwealth to take over this Territory on fair terms, and will submit a general offer to us, I believe that this House will authorize this Government to meet the South Australian Government, and to discuss those terms with a view to arrive at an arrangement. We believe that it is in the interest of Australia as a whole that the Territory should be under the control of the Commonwealth, and that we should be responsible for it. Even though in the beginning it may involve burdens, we must look forward, within a reasonable time, to its becoming self-supporting. In fact, in my opinion, it ought to become selfsupporting, under a vigorous policy of development, in ten years. We want, I say again, to get a reasonable offer from South Australia - an offer sufficiently reasonable to enable us to consider it apart from abstract questions like railway construction.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– That is not an abstract question.

Mr DEAKIN:

– I am referring to it as abstract or impossible, because it must be known we are not prepared to entertain them. If an offer is submitted to us without such conditions attached, we shall be ready to take action.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– If the Government is in agreement with it, what is the use of this motion?

Mr DEAKIN:

– I understand that it is submitted for educational purposes. The honorable member for Grey recognises that, unless he and those who sympathize with him bring this matter before the House - although it was previously brought under notice in the debate upon the GovernorGeneral’s speech - it will be apt to be dropped out of the memory of those who are not immediately interested. The people of South Australia hardly realize that our attitude to this question is favorable, and always has been. Under the circumstances, I hope that the honorable member for Grey will consent to some honorable member moving the adjournment of the debate, so that, in the meantime, we may have an opportunity of receiving a reply from the Government of South Australia. I trust that we shall soon be able to deal with a business question in a business-like manner.

Debate (on motion by Sir Langdon Bonython) adjourned.

page 1069

QUESTION

OUTRAGES IK RUSSIA

Mr STORRER:
Bass

.- I desire to amend slightly the motion of which I have given notice, and to move it in the following form : -

That this House expresses its deep regret at the news of outrages in Russia, and its confident hope that counsels of wisdom and justice will secure to those of its citizens who are suffering the effective protection of its laws.

It may be asked what the question with which this motion is concerned has to do with this Parliament. My reply is that, wherever we hear of outrages occurring in any part of the world, it is our duty to express our regret at such occurrences. That is all that I am asking the House to do now. The outrages in Russia warrant us in expressing our earnest hope that the evils from which they spring may speedily receive an effective remedy. I have no desire to cast any reflection on the great Russian nation. We are well aware that she has had great troubles internal and external during the last ‘few years. But, realizing those troubles as we do, it is at the same time our duty to sympathize with those who are suffering. Though they belong to a foreign nation, they are people of flesh and blood as we are. I have said that it is our duty to sympathize with them. I think it is also our privilege to take advantage of our position to express our earnest hope that the outrages will cease, and that peace and prosperity may soon be restored to the great country in which they have occurred. Although we may be but a small people, yet our sympathy with the Russian nation may be as a drop of water falling upon a mountain, which, joined with other expressions of sympathy, may become a mighty stream, and have a potent effect in the restoration of internal peace to a distracted country.

Mr DEAKIN:
Minister of External Affairs · Ballarat · Protectionist

– Without detaining the House, I wish to point to the exceptional condition of affairs out of which the unhappy occurrences in Russia have arisen. We have seen that great and gallant nation suffering a series of losses and reverses in a disastrous war which has left the country in a prostrate condition. An effort has been made, and is still being made, to bring its ancient forms of government more into accord with those liberal principles with which we ourselves are happily familiar. But the change from the former condition of things to that which is now being brought about is so great - the distance to be traversed in a few months from a system of government practically without any representative element to one in which for the first time the representative element is introduced on a great scale - has been so enormous that naturally a most severe and unprecedented strain is felt throughout the vast expanse of the Russian Empire. Under these circumstances the existing authorities have been placed at a most serious disadvantage. In many cases they have been powerless. Also, in a country so various, racial animosities - antagonisms of blood - persist which acridly embitter the transformation while it is proceeding. We must remember, too, that their people have not had the inestimable advantages which are enjoyed in most countries of Europe, and by means of which the great body of those affected have been prepared for understanding and sympathizing with the political movements of the times. Amazing changes in the institutions of this great nation are taking place, before our eyes. We know the responsibilities of its enormous territory, and the fearful burden imposed by the late war, which, however costly in money, was far more costly in blood - fathers, brothers, sons going to the East never to return, or coming back maimed and suffering. All these privations and miseries must be kept in mind. We may, therefore, be pardoned for expressing sympathy with the victims who are being sacrificed in the temporary disorganization accompanying a swift transition to a form of government far in advance of that which has hitherto existed. There are reactionary forces in every country, and they, no doubt, play their part in Russia ; but honorable members, without distinction of political opinion, may unite in expressing regret at the untoward incidents in what we are glad to believe is a great progressive march on the part of one of the most brilliant and courageous races of the old world.

Mr McWILLIAMS:
Franklin

.- So far as the motion expresses sympathy with the unfortunate Jews, who have been the real victims of outrage in Russia, I am completely in accord with it; but if it expresses sympathy for the Russian people generally, I have only to say that many of the victims of the present outrages have been, within the last year or two, the perpetrators of some of the greatest crimes which have darkened the annals of Europe, and for them I have very little sympathy.

Mr Deakin:

– The Russian people, as a whole, are not responsible for these outrages.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– The Russian people are responsible for the Jew-baiting which so constantly occurs, and the Students, and the men who have laboured hard for years to bring about reforms in that country, are sold by its wretched rabble for a few shillings. One has only to read recent publications to know that in some cases Jews have absolutely been nailed to crosses, while, in other cases, stakes have been driven through their eyes. These crimes have been committed, not by the rulers, but by the rabble of Russia.

Mr Deakin:

– We cannot believe all that we read

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– It has been proved beyond doubt that in Russia thousands of Jews are slaughtered by the Russian people almost every year. The Japanese knew what they were doing when they allowed Russia to make peace with them. They knew that the Russian armies, if they returned to their own country, would inflict a greater injury upon the Russian nation than the Japanese could inflict in five years of warfare. The history of Russia, so far as my reading has gone, shows that bad, tyrannical, and damnable as the Government of that country has been, its acts have been paralleled by the atrocities perpetrated by the Russian people. The history of the world contains nothing worse than the Jewbaiting of the last few years, not by the rulers, but by the people of Russia. I would go as far as any honorable member in expressing sympathy with the real victims of outrage in Russia - the Jews ; but I have practically no sympathy for the Russian people themselves. They have been spoken of as a brave nation, but the other day, when they had a considerable proportion of the. navy, and a very large proportion of the army, at their backs, they took care, whenever there was trouble coming, to place their women and children to the front, and these bore the burden of the atrocities of the Cossacks. If the Russianpeople had an ounce of pluck, they would not require sympathy.

Mr KELLY:
Wentworth

– I should not speak on the motion, but that I feel that the honorable member for Franklin has gone a little too far in what he hassaid against one of the world’s greatest peoples.

Mr McWilliams:

– I have said exactly what I think.

Mr KELLY:

– I do the honorable member the justice to suppose that he spoke from the deepest conviction. At the same time, we should be extremely cautious about accepting the highly-coloured, sensational statements of persons whose interests may lie in exaggerating what has taken place in Russia.

Mr McWILLIAMS:
FRANKLIN, TASMANIA · REV TAR; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; CP from 1920; IND from 1928

– That remark applies to the statements of both sides.

Mr KELLY:

– It is not necessary to go into the origin of the outrages which have taken place in Russia. The motion, it’ adopted, will be merely an expression of our deep sympathy with the victims of those outrages, and of our confident hope that the wisdom and justice of the. nation will speedily restore peace and the equal protection of its laws. I do not propose to offer any opposition to this proposal.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– - I wishtosaya word or two before the motion is passed, as no doubt it will be, practically unanimously.

Mr Thomas:

– Have we any right to interfere with Russia if we cannot interfere with England?

Mr Deakin:

– We are not interfering.

Mr Kelly:

– We are merely expressing sympathy with victims.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I take it that the motion has been framed to avoid the appearance of interference in Russian affairs. If I thought that it could be construed into an attempt at interference, in however slight a degree, I should not support it. There can be no harm in expressing our abhorrence of the atrocities which are reported to have taken place recently in that most unhappy country. The birth throes of national life are always painful, as our history, and that of every other civilized country, bears witness. So far as one may judge from the outside, Russia is struggling into a larger and more capacious national existence, which, we may all hope, will be blessed with the priceless heritage of freedom which we ourselves have acquired only by enormous sacrifices throughout long generations. The motion, I take it, has to do particularly withthe Jewish victims of atrocity. Whatever opinions we may have concerning the races of the world those who own allegiance to the Christian religion must have kindly feelings for that race which, although there are things in its history which might better have been otherwise was for ages the depository of our holy religion. No doubt the Jews of Russia are under enormous disabilities. They do not enjoy civil rights, and may not engage in any State occupation. They are suffering there, as in the past they have suffered in other countries, where their disabilities have long since been removed owing to the enlightenment of public opinion. For these sufferings they are entitled to the sympathy of the civilized world, and it is in that spirit that I express concurrence with the mover of the motion. I hope that it will have the best results. Whatever may be its defects, Russia is one of the great civilized powers of the world.

Mr.Mc Williams. - Russia is not civilized.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– It is a matter of extreme delicacy and difficulty, and even of danger, to interfere with the internal affairs of such a nation.

Mr Deakin:

– It is reported that the British. Ambassador has done so with the most salutary effect.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The difficulty and danger of interfering in Russia’s management of her own affairs are probably the reasons why President Roosevelt and Sir Edward Grey have declined to take any part in trying to bring the pressure of public and political opinion to bear upon her. We in Australia, however, are not so nearly concerned in the disposition of national affairs that we cannot safely, and without misunderstanding of our intention, express our sympathy for those who have suffered, and our earnest hope that there may be a speedy end to the atrocities which have shocked the nations of the world.

Mr CARPENTER:
Fremantle

– I wish to say, before voting for the motion, that I should have been glad if the honorable member for Bass had framed it in more specific terms.

Mr Crouch:

– At present it can mean anything.

Mr Deakin:

– It is an expression of sympathy.

Mr Crouch:

– Who are the “ victims of the recent outrages “ in Russia? The motion might be taken to refer to the governing classes, and even to the Czar himself.

Mr CARPENTER:

-As we have not before had a motion of this character before us, we are, to some extent, breaking new ground. I am not averse to an expression of sympathy in the event of anything like a disaster overtaking a nation, but we cannot express an opinion with regard to strife which has been taking place for some time past and is still going on, in Russia, without in some way allying ourselves with one or other of the parties. For instance, the motion asks us to express our deep sympathy with the victims of the recent outrages in Russia. No particular outrage or class of outrages is specified. I would point out that there have been outrages of a class which, although they may appear for the time being to the people of Russia as the outcome o’f the natural protest of one class against the domination of another, appear to us in democratic Australia as the manifestation of a spirit in which we all glory.

Mr Henry Willis:

– What ! - the outrages ?

Mr CARPENTER:

– No; but we glory in the spirit that is expressed in them.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– As I understand, the motion broadly expresses the hope that the law may soon supersede force.

Mr CARPENTER:

– Everything depends upon the point of view. According to the information communicated to us, some of the very worst of the outrages have been the result of the direct action of the Government. The honorable member for Bass has not enlightened us as to the outrages to which his motion refers.

Mr Henry Willis:

– To what outrages does the honorable member think it refers ?

Mr CARPENTER:
FREMANTLE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP

– I do not know. I am asking honorable members not to hurriedly pass a motion which may bring us into conflict with another nation.

Mr Henry Willis:

– Has not the honorable member heard of the slaughter of innocent men and women that has been going on?

Mr CARPENTER:

– I have heard of a good deal of that kind of thing; but I am sure that the honorable member does not want to do anything that would arouse the resentment of the Russian nation.

Mr Henry Willis:

– I do not care a jot for the resentment of the Russian nation.

Mr CARPENTER:

– I am anxious that we shall not in this broad way express an opinion which mav be misinterpreted and regarded as* offensive. If the motion had merely expressed regret at the outrages that have been, committed against the Jews, for instance; we should have known what to do. Even such a motion might have been open to objection. T do not think that the honorable member for Bass full v realizes the extent to which we should be going in passing a resolution which, might arouse the resentment of a people with whom we have no Quarrel . and with whom we want none.

Mr Storrer:

– The motion would not lead to any quarrel.

Mr CARPENTER:

– The motion, might be misinterpreted in such a way as to lead to complications of which the honorable member cannot even dream, and unless it is couched in somewhat more specific terms I cannot support it. I have every sympathy with the victims of the whole of the outrages, but I do not think that we should practically say that we hope that the law of Russia, which has proved too weak to prevent such outrages’, should be strengthened. I am glad to see the outbreak of a new spirit in Russia, and to notice that the students and more educated classes are taking up the work of reforming what I be,lieve to be a corrupt system of government. The motion would immediately project us into the political arena of Russia, and I think that we should hesitate before we vote for it.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 1072

QUESTION

REDUCTION OF TELEPHONE RATES

Mr PAGE:
Maranoa

– I move -

That, in the opinion of this House, the rates now charged by the Postal Department for the use of Trunk Telephone lines on the condenser system are excessive and should be reduced.

In the course of my tour through the Maranoa electorate during the recess, I found that the users of trunk line telephones generally complained that the rates charged by the Department were excessive, and that, instead of the telephone system being a boon to the residents of that vast electorate, it proved in many cases a curse, because persons often found, after using the telephone to communicate with distant stations, that they had to settle up at the end of the month an enormous bill. In Brisbane I ascertained that the rates charged on the trunk lines in Queensland were assessed on the presumption that services which actually cost only from .£150 to £250 had involved an outlay of .£4,000 or £5,000. In fairness to the users of the trunk telephone lines, which, are worker! on the condenser system, I think that the rates should be reduced considerably below those charged on the lines worked on the metallic circuit system, which is very much more expensive. I had an opportunity of speaking to the Postmaster-General upon this subject a day or two ago, and he led me to hope that the whole matter of telephone charges would be taken into consideration at an early date. He promised that if I would allow the matter to stand over until the toll system of charges was being dealt with, he would give the fullest consideration to my representations. The members of the Government claim that they always give consideration to the needs of the people in the country, and I gratefully acknowledge that they have done their best to remove any causes of complaint. I trust that they will endeavour to cheapen the rates for the use of telephones in outlying districts, so that settlers in the country may be granted facilities equal to those enjoyed by residents in the centres of population.

Debate (on motion by Mr. David Thomson) adjourned.

page 1073

ADMINISTRATION OF PAPUA : LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR

Mr WILKINSON:
Moreton

.- I move -

That, in the opinion of this House, the present administration of British New Guinea is unsatisfactory ; and, in the interests of good government and the effective development of the Territory, it is advisable that, on the issue of the Proclamation bringing the Papua Act into force, an Australian citizen, in close and recent touch with the aspirations of the Commonwealth and of the Territory, should be appointed LieutenantGovernor.

The Prime Minister has declared in favour of the policy of “ Australia for the Australians,” and I think that we might go a little further, and declareourselves in favour of “ Australians for Australia.” I do not wish to reflect in any way upon the officials who are now responsible for the administration of affairs in Papua, but I think that it will be agreed that the progress made in that territory has not been so great as we might have expected, in view of the large amount of money that has been spent upon it. One of the problems that is said to confront Europeans in connexion with the development of tropical countries arises out of the necessity of inducing the natives to adapt themselves to the conditions of European civilization. I maintain, therefore, that, if we desire to secure officials capable of dealing with natives in tropical countries, we shall have to select men who have been accustomed to the conditions of tropical life for a considerable time. There is not much chance of our being able to secure officials of the right class in Great Britain - men who would have to come out here as “ new chums.” One part of my proposition is that an Australian citizen in recent touch with the aspirations of the Commonwealth and of the Territory should be appointed as Lieutenant-Governor. I gather from Senator Smith, who has visited Papua, that there are great possibilities before the Possession. I have not had an opportunity of visiting Papua, but I know a good deal about Northern Queensland and of the possibilities of that portion of the Commonwealth. We have in Papua a native race which is more warlike, and, perhaps, more advanced, than are the Australian aboriginals.

Mr Kelly:

– There are many different races in Papua - the tribes are as different from each other as chalk from cheese.

Mr WILKINSON:

– Has the honorable member been there ?

Mr Kelly:

– No, but I have lead the reports.

Mr WILKINSON:

– So have I. The natives speak many different languages, and, from what we can learn, there have been many different races there. In times gone by the natives of New Guinea, apparently, attained a fairly high degree of civilization. If we can judge from the remains of their pottery and other works of art, they possessed a higher degree of intelligence and mechanical skill than characterize the natives of the present day, who have, presumably, degenerated. We have spent £300,000 or £400,000 in the administration of affairs in New ‘Guinea, and have not derived any adequate return for our outlay. I am free to admit that much has been done in the Territory by way of inducing the native tribes to entertain some regard for our own methods of civilization - in other words, to observe law and order. We have had to spend a good dealof money in compelling the native inhabitants to recognise our ideas of ethics, and to conform to the conditions of European civilization. If a Lieutenant-Governor be selected from Great Britain to administer the affairs of Papua, he will require to unlearn all that he has previously learned. That would not be the case if we chose for the position an Australian who has been used to pioneering conditions, either in the tropical, the semi-tropical, or the temperate regions of the Commonwealth. It stand to reason that a man who has spent nearly the whole of his time in Downing-street, or in the halls of the House of Commons, cannot be as well Qualified to govern a Possession like New Guinea as is an individual who has lived in the wilds of Australia. He cannot be as fit to deal with native races under tropical conditions as is the man who has been a pioneer in Northern Queensland. It is. perhaps, rather fortunate that practically the whole of this afternoon has been occupied in a very interesting discussion upon another Territory in which tropical conditions obtain. I followed that debate with considerable interest, because it had a. very great bearing upon this motion. We have men in Australia to-day who went to the northern portions of the Continent thirty, forty, and fifty years ago, in order to develop them, and I venture to say that few more hardy individuals can be found tb-day than these same grey -haired pioneers who have had to deal with native races under such uncongenial conditions. When we speak to these men thev tell us that there is no better climate in the world thaw that which is to be found in tropical Australia.

Mr Ewing:

– They were men of mature years before they went there.

Mr WILKINSON:

– I was born there. These men who have been pioneering the country possess better qualifications for developing a tropical territory than does any man who can be secured from Great Britain. I admit that Sir William McGregor, who was at one time the Administrator of New Guinea, performed good work. Since his retirement, however, instead of progression, there has been retrogression, and it is with a feeling of humility, if not of shame, that one compares what has been accomplished in the Eastern Archipelago, in German and Dutch New Guinea, and1 in the Malay Federated States, with what has been achieved in British New Guinea. The possibilities of that country, I believe, are indeed great. To me, it seems that there we shall find the solution of some of the problems which are going to trouble Australia. The Commonwealth has declared that Australia shall be a white man’s land. But there are some commodities that we cannot produce by means of white labour, if we are to successfully compete with eastern countries. Upon the other hand, if we grant a preference to the products of the Possession1 - and I do not see why we should not - we have there native labour, a rich soil, and tropical conditions, which will enable us to produce for ourselves the commodities which the brown and yellow races are pouring into Australia to-day. In this connexion, I may be permitted to refer to one parti cular item. Take the production of castor oil as an example. Every year tens of thousands of pounds worth of that article are imported into the Commonwealth. I am aware that it is not possible to profitably cultivate the castor-oil plant in Australia by means of white labour, because we cannot compete with the coolies of India and their wives, who engage in the same industry. As a matter of fact, in India this plant is more largely used for shelter purposes than for anything else. But in New Guinea, with the aid of native labour, I believe that sufficient castor oil could be produced to meet all the requirements of Australia. Then again, China oil, which is obtained from the earth nut, could be produced in abundance there. Castor oil is one of the best lubricating oils for machinery that it is possible to obtain, and I hope that the time is not far distant when a much larger quantity of it will be consumed in connexion with our industries. In New Guinea there is cheap labour that we must employ, because we cannot allow the Papuans to remain idle.

Mr Kelly:

– Would the honorable member give the Papuans a market for their products in Australia?

Mr WILKINSON:

– I would be willing to extend a preference to them. I repeat that in the production of castor oil we cannot possibly compete with India. China oil, to which I have already referred, is largely used for illuminating purposes. If we were to undertake the -production of these- commodities in New Guinea, with the aid of native labour, I believe that we should be enabled to successfully compete with India.

Mr Ewing:

– Does the honorable member think that in the production of China oil the cost of labour is an important factor?

Mr WILKINSON:

– Undoubtedly it is, because the nut which produces it grows in the earth. In India, I understand, it is planted in the ground, and ‘the coolie women gather the nuts with their finders and throw the earth upon one side. That is a very costly operation from a labour point of view. We could not employ white men and women to do that class of work. There are a number of other commodities such as kapok, and fibres of different kinds, which it will not pay to cultivate bv white labour in the Commonwealth, but which could be successfully cultivated’ by means of native labour in Papua.

Mr Ewing:

– Is not the cultivation of cocoanut the most profitable, after all?

Mr WILKINSON:

– When Sir William McGregor was Administrator of New Guinea, he passed a very wise ordinance compelling the natives to plant a certain number of cocoanut trees each year. That ordinance, however, except in the case of one residential magistracy, has been allowed to become a dead letter, and consequently, the natives have relapsed into a state of idleness. I am not quite sure that their last position will not be worse than their first. We are credited with attempting to rescue them from a state of savagery, and yet we are making it possible for them to become habitually lazy.

Mr Henry Willis:

– Perhaps they have heard of our policy in the New Hebrides. We will not admit the products of those islands into the Commonwealth.

Mr WILKINSON:

– The New Hebrides is not a British Possession.

Mr Johnson:

– It is partly peopled by British settlers.

Mr WILKINSON:

– That is so

Mr Henry Willis:

– We have lands there which are available for settlement.

Mr WILKINSON:

– Had the ordinance which was passed by Sir William McGregor been continued and enforced, I believe that, instead of the revenue of New Guinea having declined, we should be deriving a sufficient amount from that source to defray the cost of its government, whereas to-day the oosition is that, whilst the Commonwealth votes , £20,000 annually for its administration, the revenue amounts to only £19.000. Last year the production of the Territory was valued at £76,000, of which £56,000 represented gold alone. Seeing that the Possession has now been under British rule for eighteen or twenty years - it is eighteen years since it was annexed to the British Crown - I do think that better results ought to have been realized. I am therefore justified in saying that the present administration of the Territory is not satisfactory. I think that the value of the production of copra last year was only a little more than £5,000, or less than it has been for many years. Upon the other hand we find that, under wiser administration, the agricultural products of the Malay Federated States and of the Solomon Islands form the chief source of their revenue. I think that one reason why we have not obtained better results in New Guinea is to be found in the difficulty of acquiring: land there.

Mr Deakin:

– One great reason why industry in the Solomon Islands and other islands has survived is because it has been possible to secure large areas for the cultivation of the cocoanut.

Mr WILKINSON:

– That is so. I have to thank the Prime Minister for affording me an opportunity to see a copy of the new ordinances which were recently forwarded to New Guinea for approval. They are a very decided improvement upon any ordinances previously in existence, and when they come into operation I believe that we shall find a very great stimulus given to the occupation of land in Papua. The decision of this Parliament that all land in the Territory shall be held under a leasehold tenure has been urged as a reason why it has not been occupied by Europeans. As a matter of fact, the most prosperous tropical country, if not the most prosperous country in the world, is Java, where there is no freehold tenure of land. I am glad to see that Senator Smith, who has given a good deal of attention to the conditions of agricultural development in tropical countries, has said that he thinks the Commonwealth Parliament acted wisely in deciding that the system of land tenure to be adopted in New Guinea should be leasehold. What appears to have militated against the occupation of land in the Territory is that intending settlers had to wait solong before they could secure possession of the lands they desired.

Mr Deakin:

– Hear, hear ; the delay in the issue of certificates of occupation.

Mr WILKINSON:

– I find that under the new Ordinances that difficulty is to be overcome, and I should have had much more to say on this point if I had not seen those Ordinances. I believe the Government are going in the right way to remove the difficulties existing in the way of settlement on the land in New Guinea. Our chief object should be consideration for the native races.

Mr Deakin:

– That has been well attended to up till now.

Mr WILKINSON:

– I think it has. Every honorable member who has any knowledge of what has taken place in New Guinea will give every Administrator of the Territory credit for that, and will recognise that the rights of the native races have been well regarded. I was somewhat surprised on reading Mr. Hunt’s report to find that he speaks of the miners as being “ a rather rough lot.” He certainly qualified that description of them, by admitting that on the whole they are law abiding. If there is one class of men who more than any other are assisting to develop New Guinea, it is the miners, and I do not think they can be described as a very rough lot, when it is admitted that they have worked hand in hand with the Administrators of the Territory in the endeavour to prevent the natives obtaining liquor.

Mr Deakin:

– Hear, hear; every white man there has done that.

Mr WILKINSON:

– That shows that these men are not a rough lot, that they have not gone there to exploit New Guinea regardless of the consequences to the natives, and that they have been influenced bv considerations other than those” of immediate gain. In the early days of the settlement of Australia, we know that aborigines were bought for a bottle or even a glass of nun, and if the miners of New Guinea have rendered assistance to the Administrators of the Territory, and have been successful in keeping drink from the natives, they are not a rough lot, but are men fitted to be represented in the Legislative Council.

Mr Deakin:

– We are choosing two diggers to be on the Council, two out of three.

Mr WILKINSON:

– Who is to choose them ?

Mr Deakin:

– I think those chosen will have the universal approval of the diggers. I am assured that they are most representative men.

Mr WILKINSON:

– That is a question I intended to touch upon. The white population of New Guinea does not, I believe, number more than 600, and considering the hardships these men have to put up with, they should be given some voice in the selection of the members of the Legislative Council. The men who are doing pioneer work in the far-away jungles of New Guinea are, I think, entitled to more consideration than are men living here under conditions of perfect comfort. They have to put up with conditions of life perhaps harder than those to which, our grandfathers were subjected in Australia.

Mr Deakin:

– More .dangerous, certainly.

Mr WILKINSON:

– I do think that when we are constituting a body that is to make the laws under which these men must live, those who are doing the best pioneering work in Papua should be granted the right to say who shall repre sent them in such a body. I admit that, in the early stages of the colonization of the Possession, and in view .of the way in which the white population is scattered, it is, perhaps, not possible to have a Council entirely elected by those people. There must be some nominees at first. At the same time I think that the body which is to be responsible for the making of the ordinances under which these men must live, and which will deal with their relations with the natives, should, in part, be elected by these people.

Mr Deakin:

– They will have three representatives ; two of whom I have ascertained the miners would like to be appointed, and for whom they would vote if they had the right to elect’ them.

Mr WILKINSON:

– Who is to ascertain the wish of the miners in the matter? One of the reasons for which I desired to have an early discussion of my motion is that I am afraid that the Executive Council and Legislative Council will be appointed by those who are now administering New Guinea. I” am afraid that the nomination of the Executive Council and the Legislative Council has all been arranged by Mr. Barton, the present Administrator, and by Mr. Hunt, who recently visited the Territory.

Mr Deakin:

– Not by Mr. Hunt; the Executive there have sent down a recommendation.

Mr WILKINSON:

– The white population of the Territory, who must live under the laws passed by these bodies, and comply with their conditions, should have a voice in the constitution of the Executive Council and Legislative Council of New Guinea. I refer now, not merely to the miners, because I do not think that mining will be -the chief industry of New Guinea. I hope to see tropical agriculture take a leading place amongst the industries of the Possession. Mining is somewhat spasmodic. It may last a year or two, and then “peter out”; but agriculture, as we politicians are accustomed to say, is the backbone of a country. There is a tropical agriculture, which I believe will pav New Guinea, and which it will pay Australia to encourage in New Guinea. A number of agricultural products are mentioned in Senator Smith’s report that I think would do well in New Guinea, and also in the northern parts of Queensland. I look to the development of agriculture more than to the development of mining to make this Possession profitable rather than burdensome to the Commonwealth. I wish to say a word or two with regard to the climate. I have read with very much, interest the report of Dr. Elkington, who has had considerable experience in India, and who is now, I believe, connected with the Health Department in Tasmania. I entirely agree with what he has to say with respect to the climatic conditions in tropical countries. We hear a great deal of talk of miasmatic fever, fever and ague, and such diseases, but I know that it was possible sixty years ago for a man to get fever and ague in, Southern Australia as readily as it is at Cape York Peninsula to-day. I have known fever and ague to be as rife in the districts of Moreton Bay as it is said to be in New Guinea to-day. I say this decrying of the health conditions of the tropical parts of Australia and New Guinea is only the “ stinking fish “ cry in another form. If men will but conform to proper conditions of life in these tropical countries there is no reason why they should be any more unhealthy than are the people of the southern . parts of Australia and Tasmania, where consumption is a scourge.

Mr Deakin:

– People come here to be cured of consumption.

Mr WILKINSON:

– No; they go from here to the western parts of Queensland for that purpose. Forty years ago I knew of men trembling with fever and ague on the banks of the Hawkesbury. We had simple names in those days for what are now called miasmatic and tropical fevers, but these diseases, which are contracted in the jungles of New Guinea and in Cape York Peninsular to-day, were contracted in the Hawkesbury River, and in the districts around Sydney Harbor, many years ago. Wherever virgin soil is turned up, men who are living under pioneering conditions, and associating with natives who pay no regard to sanitary laws, are liable to contract these diseases, which, however, do not carry off anything like the number carried off in civilized communities by the white plague - consumption. According to Dr. Elkington, these diseases can very easily be dealt with.

Mr Deakin:

– There has been a great advance in the last ten years in the knowledge of their proper treatment.

Mr WILKINSON:

– They require merely the application of what we are gaining every day, and that is a better know ledge of the kind of life which men should live to render tropical countries as favorable to European life as countries possessing a more temperate climate. We hear to-day that it is suggested that Southern Europeans should be brought out to settle the Northern Territory, but I say that there is no spot on the face of the earth which the British people cannot settle as well as any people from Southern Europe. Men of the Teutonic stock from Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, and the British Islands, can stand any climate as well as can any white, black, brown, or yellow man, and can work where any of these men can work. They are doing the hardest work done to-day in tropical Australia. Who opened up these places? It was not the Chinese, the Japanese, the kanaka, or the Southern European. The men of the British race blazed the track, and these other people followed after. The men of the Teutonic stock have done this work, and they are capable of doing work to-day in any part of Australia or New Guinea that can be occupied by white men. As we have almost reached the dinner hour, I ask to be allowed to continue my speech when the debate on the motion is resumed.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.30 p.m.

page 1077

AUSTRALIAN INDUSTRIES PRESERVATION BILL

In Committee (Consideration resumed from 4th July, vide page 1039) :

Clause 6 -

For the purposes of the last two preceding sections, unfair competition means competition which is in the opinion of the jury unfair in the circumstances ; and in the following cases the competition shall be deemed to be unfair until the contrary is proved : -

If the defendant is a Commercial Trust or agent of a Commercial Trust :

If the competition would probably or does in fact result in a. lower remuneration for labour :

If the competition would probably or does in fact result in greatly disorganizing Australian industry or throwing workers out of employment.

Mr ROBINSON:
Wannon

– I should like some information in regard to certain aspects of this clause, which proposes to take a very great step in legislation, namely, to put the onus of proof, in certain circumstances, on the defendant. If the defendant is a commercial trust, or the agent of a commercial’ trust, and the competition probably will, or does, in fact, result in a lower remuneration of labour, the onus is placed on him of proving his innocence. That is an exceedingly difficult position in which to place a defendant, and I cannot see how this clause could be given any reasonable meaning in a court of law. If a competitor used up-to-date machinery and methods, his competition might be held to lead to lower remuneration! of labour. There is nothing in the clause providing that the person making the charge shall also use uptodate machinery and methods. The clause is so framed that an employer who used obsolete machinery and methods would have grounds for prosecuting another employer who was more up-to-date.

Mr ISAACS:
Attorney-General · Indi · Protectionist

– Perhaps it may assist the honorable member if I say a few words. Last night the honorable member for North Sydney suggested that somewhere in the Bill, but preferably in this clause, it should be provided that the tribunal must take into consideration the efficiency of the management and the machinery used in the industry affected. Such an amendment would operate as a corrective in the direction desired bv the honorable member for Wannon. I think the provision in the clause as it stands is ample; but, as I indicated last night, I could see no objection, nor can I. after consideration to-day, now see any objection, to the suggested amendment. I have had some amendments printed, which will be circulated presently, and amongst these is a new sub-clause as follows: -

In determining whether the competition is unfair, regard shall be had to the efficiency of the management, the plant, and the machinery employed or adopted in relation to the Australian industry affected by the competition.

Mr ROBINSON:
Wannon

– That certainly makes the clause better; and I hope that a similar provision will be inserted in other parts of the Bill.

Mr Isaacs:

– The honorable member means in the anti-dumping part?

Mr ROBINSON:

– Yes.

Mr Isaacs:

– I have no objection.

Mr ROBINSON:

– I am glad to hear that statement by the Attorney-General, because it removes a very serious objection to the Bill. Otherwise it would be possible for a man with antediluvian methods to allege that his industry was being disorganized, and his men thrown out of employment, by the more up-to-date methods of a rival.

Mr Isaacs:

– I do not quite think that would be so; but still, in order to make the matter clear, I willingly accept the suggestion of the honorable member for North Svdney.

Mr ROBINSON:

– I do not see why, in a case of this ‘kind, we should hold a defendant guilty until he proves his innocence. I am not aware, so far as my reading goes, that, there is any such provision in the Sherman Act.

Mr Isaacs:

– The Sherman Act does not deal with this branch of the subject.

Mr ROBINSON:

– Nor am I aware of such a provision in any of the Acts of the various States of the American Union. The onus of proof should be thrown on the defendant only in very grave circumstances. There is a provision to that end in the Customs Act, because the revenue of the country is at stake, and because of the difficulty of obtaining proof, which might have to be sought at the other end of the world. In the case of the present Bill, however, the provisions deal largely, if not entirely, with internal monopolies.

Mr Isaacs:

– This does not deal with internal monopolies.

Mr ROBINSON:

– It deals with the operations of people carrying on business within the Commonwealth.

Mr Isaacs:

– It deals practically with external attacks on internal industries.

Mr ROBINSON:

– I cannot see how anybody can get away from the fact that such external attacks are dealt with in Part III., the whole object of which is to prevent dumping and unfair competition. Clause 13 defines unfair competition ; clause 14 provides when competition is to be deemed unfair, and the second part of the latter clause actually uses the words of sub-clauses b and c of the clause under consideration. If there is any meaning to be attached to this particular clause, it must relate to the operation of trusts within the Commonwealth. I .cannot see why we should depart from the old practice of holding a man innocent until he is proved guilty. It is a practice followed in every portion of the Empire, and is only departed from, as I have said, in very grave circumstances. Why should the onus of proof be thrown on the defendant in a case of this kind? The defendant would be charged with engaging in a combination to restrain trade - with being a member of a commercial trust - and he would be called upon to prove that his competition was not unfair. Surely it should be for the person, who alleges that the commercial trust is injuring his business, to prove his case. If the charge were true, the proofs would be within his knowledge, and could, with very little trouble, be placed before the AttorneyGeneral, or whoever had the administration of the Act.

Mr Isaacs:

– The complainant would have to submit that proof ; there is no relief from proof as to that.

Mr ROBINSON:

– The position is set up that, as the defendant is a commercial trust, his competition is unfair, and that, therefore, the onus should be on the defendant company, or agent, to prove that the competition is fair. It has been admitted by the Attorney-General and every speaker that a number of agreements, such as the coal vend, offer perfectly legitimate competition ; and yet the onus of proving innocence is to be thrown on those who make such agreements. We get back to the question of where a particular trust or agent is to be tried. What earthly hope would the agent of the Newcastle coal vend, for instance, have of proving his innocence along the Gippsland line, or in any part of Victoria? It is all very well to take the view that if the competition were fair and reasonable such an agent would not be penalized ; but surely the onus of proof should be on the complainant, as in ordinary criminal cases. As I have said, if the agent of such a trust were tried in some portion of Victoria, in Western Australia, or in any other place where there are coal mines, what chance would he have? Absolutely none. In the first place, his guilt in regard to unfair competition would be deemed to be a fact, and, secondly, he would be put on his defence in a place where his competitors carried on business, and where there was a strong presumption of his guilt on the part of the public, who would see that the business of the particular locality might be injured, while the business of some other place, perhaps hundreds of miles away, might be improved. In America, certain contracts in restraint of trade are illegal under the Sherman Act and other Acts, and yet it has not been found impossible, as the Attorney-General showed in his most exhaustive speech on the question, to deal as effectively with commercial trusts, as it ought to have been. Of course, it has been possible to deal with a number of them. The cases which have broken down in America have not been in the majority of instances unsuccessful for want of proof that the competition was unfair; but because the Act of Parliament did not go far enough, or was unconstitutional in some respects. We are embarking upon new legislation which is admittedly of an experimental character, and we now have before us a provision that a commercial trust, or a man who is an agent for a commercial trust, say, a man in Flinders-street who has a plate upon his front door stating that he is agent for some one’s Newcastle coal - may be brought before a tribunal, and his guilt in respect of unfair competition be assumed until he proves his innocence. Surely it is most harsh and unnecessary to have such a provision in the Bill. As to the workableness of paragraphs b and c, I have doubts. Suppose that the man who complains of unfair competition goes into the witness-box, and says that if the competition is continued probably some of his men will be thrown out of employment, or wages will be lowered in his industry. Surely it is a very arbitrary proceeding to hold the defendant guilty until he proves his innocence. Every business man, be he trader, manufacturer, or merchant, looks with a certain amount of fear on any possible competitor. He knows that a competitor who takes away any portion of his trade may reduce his profits, disorganize his industry, or lead to the lessening of the remuneration of the labour which he employs. But to hold a man guilty for an act of that kind, which is one of the inevitable consequences of competition in trade, and not in itself a criminal act, is to my mind to go to lengths to which we ought not to go. I should like to hear from the Attorney-General some reason why he thinks the circumstances are such that we should insist on the onus of proof being upon the defendant. We have done it under special conditions in other cases. We have done it to protect the revenue in cases where it is very difficult to prove that the revenue has been defrauded. Here we are not throwing the onus of proof upon the defendant for the protection of the revenue, but we are making an act a crime which has not been a crime before, and we are calling upon a defendant who is charged with a new class of offence to prove his innocence, and it may be to prove it in a place where the presumption against him would be very strong from the start. We should have some weighty explanation from the Attorney-General as to why a defendant should be assumed to be guilty under the conditions referred to in paragraphs a, b, and c. I admit that there are departures from the ordinary principle in other respects ; but why should we depart from it in a criminal matter of this kind, and throw the onus of proof on a defendant?

Mr ISAACS:
Attorney-General · Indi · Protectionist

– It is a mistake to say that under this clause a man has only to be charged with an offence, when he will have to prove his innocence. That is not what the Bill says at all. It will have to be proved, first of all, that there is. a combination, and that it is a combination of a particular kind. That will be a very’ difficult thing, to start with, in the case of a commercial trust. Then it will have to be proved affirmatively that the competition complained of will destroy or injure an Australian industry; and, further, that such combination is engaged in the destruction or injury of an Australian industry, with intent. Finally, it will have to be shown that the industry is one which ought to be preserved, and that the individuals engaged in the industry concerned, are being attacked by the defendant - a huge body - a commercial trust -a combination of persons who have associated together for the purpose of crushing or injuring it.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

-But in the mean time, while these things are being proved, the business of the accused will be held up.

Mr ISAACS:

– That question is immaterial to the present issue. Perhaps the honorable member will allow me to keep to the point upon which I am engaged. Having proved all those things affirmatively, all we say is that, where a single individual is being attacked unfairly by a huge trust-

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The trust need not be huge.

Mr ISAACS:

– It would be huge in comparison with a single trader. If the trust is engaged in endeavouring with intent to injure or destroy an industry, we say that the defendant must show that the competition is fair. To start with, we say that it is not fair that individuals should have to meet the attacks of huge combinations. That in itself is repugnant to ordinary British fair play. Where a little man is attacked by a big man - and by the big man here I mean a trust - and attacked with the design of crushing him, orinjuring him - intent of which has to be proved by the prosecution - we simply say, “ Well, we do not say that your competition is necessarily unfair, but we do say that the time has arrived when you, as a huge combination, should show that you are acting fairly.”

Mr Poynton:

– Would it be considered unfair competition if the big trust employed machinery which was up to date, and was competing against obsolete machinery ?

Mr ISAACS:

– No, it would not.

Mr Poynton:

– That is generally the case when a big. man is fighting a little one in business.

Mr ISAACS:

– I have prepared and printed an amendment embodying a suggestion made by the honorable member for North Sydney, to insert in this clause the following words: -

In determining whether the competition is fair, gard shall be had to the efficiency of the management, the plant, and the machinery employed or adopted in relation to the Australian industry affected by the competition.

I think that will meet the view of the honorable member for Grey.

Mr Poynton:

– Hear, hear.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The Minister has omitted the word “processes.”

Mr ISAACS:

-I have no objection to put that in. We say to the Australian industry : “ Whatever you do, get the best machinery you can, employ the best men you can, have the most up-to-date appliances “ ; and if, notwithstanding that, the Australian industry cannot live, in face of the attack made on it, without reducing the remuneration for labour, we say that that shall be deemed to be unfair competition. We also say that if, notwithstanding that the best methods are employed, and the plant is brought up to date, the competition complained of would actually disorganize and injure an industry, which ought to be preserved in the interests of the producers, workers, and consumers alike, then those who are injuring it ought to be called upon to show that their competition is not unfair. I do not think there is anything wrong or un-British in that. We do not want to shut out fair competition. There is nothing in -this Bill to impede fair competition. But we have Australian industries, and we hope to have more. We seek to preserve those industries which are of advantage to the Commonwealth gene- ; rally, which are not hot-house industries, : and which, looking at the interests of producers, workers, and consumers alike, ought 1 to be preserved. If they are confronted with fair competition, they must take their chance. But they ought not to be subject to attack from unfair competition. We impose the obligation upon the prosecution to prove affirmatively the injury, the intent to do that injury, the character of the industry that is attacked - namely, that it is one that ought to be preserved in the interests of all ; and then, we say, in the case of an ordinary competitor, “ You have to prove from the beginning that the competition is unfair.” But if there is an aggregation of capital we say to it, “ You have to prove that your competition is fair.” I do not think that there is anything harsh or un-British in that. It meets even the test that the honorable member for Wannon has put. It would be impossible, in the case of a huge trust, to prove that its methods of competition were unfair. Its ramifications might extend in directions where we could not follow it. It is quite different from an ordinary single trader, whose business operations we can” predicate pretty well. If we have a huge concern to deal with, it is time, when we have proved all these things affirmatively, to say, “ You now have to show thatyou are dealing fairly : ifyou are,you are free, notwithstanding all the injuryyou are doing.” We propose to provide by the amendment which I have indicated, that the trust is not to be considered to be actinc: unfairly if the Australian industry which is being injured has not adopted efficient machinery and plant, and modern processes. I think we shall have gone far enough when we have done that.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The Attorney-General’s statement is a perfectly fair one from the point of view from which he puts it : but. as he said, in answer to my interjection, that he preferred to take one thing at a time, I want to point out that there is one respect in which this provision is decidedly unfair. While the burden is upon those who start the prosecution, or the inquiry to prove against the defendant all the thingsmen- tioned by the Attomey-General, vet the Billprovides that while those processes are going on theAttornev-General may holdup thebusiness of the defendant. Under clause 10, the Attorney-General, or any person authorized by him, may institute proceedings to restrain by injunction, not the commission of any breach merely, but the continuance of any breach.

Mr Isaacs:

– The Attorney-General has no power to deal with anything himself. He has only power to apply to the Court, and the Court will require all these things to be proved. It is not a Ministerial act. It is an application to the Court. These things would have to be proved just the same, although there is no criminal liability under the clause referred to.

Mr Henry Willis:

– But the industry of the defendant will be held up in the meantime.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The ComptrollerGeneral will have power to impound the goods of the defendant.

Mr Isaacs:

– The Comptroller-General does not come under this provision at all. He has no power.

Mr Robinson:

– How do the operations of a particular trust come under the clause?

Mr Isaacs:

– Under this clause.it is not a question of importing goods at all.

Mr Glynn:

– The Attorney-General could apply under this part of the Bill, as well as under the other part.

Mr Isaacs:

– The Attorney-General has no power to stop any one. He can only apply to the Court.

Mr Glynn:

– He can institute proceedings.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– It appears to me that under this Bill the AttorneyGeneral or the Comptroller-General of Customs will have power to hold up the goods of the defendant and to impound them, whilst under another part of the Bill, application is made to the Court. This Part of the Bill deals with foreign corporations. It is expressly intended to do so.

Mr Isaacs:

– Certainly.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Part III. of the measure will operate concurrently with Part II., so that there will be nothing to prevent the Comptroller- General of Customs from impounding the goods at the time that application is made to the Court through the Attorney-General to restrain the commission or continuance of any breach of the law.

Mr Isaacs:

– The honorable member is dealing with the two parts of the Bill, which are separate and distinct.

Mr.JOSEPH COOK. - They are separate and distinct, but, I take it, may operateconcurrently.

Mr Isaacs:

– We are now discussing the question of personal liability, which has nothing whatever to do with the ComptrollerGeneral.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– We are discussing the question of unfair competition.

Mr Isaacs:

– Only in relation to personal liability.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– So far as that aspect of the matter is concerned, the explanation of the Attorney-General would be satisfactory if it were all contained in the Bill ; but it has occurred to me that, while proof is being furnished, and a charge is being sheeted home against a suspected offender, other provisions may be used to hold uphis business. The penalties which may be inflicted will be a mere fleabite compared with the loss which may be suffered by the dislocation of business, perhaps at a critical period.

Mr Isaacs:

– The provision relating to prima facie evidence does not concern the other part of the Bill, and would not help the Comptroller-General in the smallest degree. Clause 14 might; but it is independent of this provision. The ComptrollerGeneral could not rely on clause 6.

Mr Glynn:

– The Attorney-General could institute proceedings to prevent a man from entering into a contract under this clause.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– It seems to me that both parts of the Bill have been framed to be used, and that if one is found to be inapplicable the other will be brought into use. Wemay be sure that all the powers given under the Bill will be taken advantage of to prevent the unfair competition of foreign goods. The danger I foresee is that, while an inquiry is being made, the business affected may be held up, and innocent persons, such as farmers waiting for agricultural implements at a time of harvest, may suffer in consequence, while the affairs of the supposed offender will, in any case, be deranged.

Mr HENRY WILLIS:
Robertson

– I agree with the honorable member for Parramatta that, during a prosecution, the business of the party proceeded against may be held up. We are told by the marginal note that clause 10 is based upon section 4 of the Sherman Act, which provides that -

The several Circuit Courts of the United States are hereby invested with jurisdiction to prevent and restrain violations of this Act, and it shall be the duty of the several district attorneys of the United States, in their respec tive districts, under the direction of the AttorneyGeneral, to institute proceedings in equity to prevent and restrain such violations. Such proceedings may be by way of petition setting forth the case, and praying that such violation shall be enjoined or otherwise prohibited. When the parties complained of shall have been duly notified of such petition, the Court shall proceed, as. scon as may be, to the hearing and determination of the case ; and pending such petition, and before final decree, the Court may at any time make such temporary restraining order or prohibition as shall be deemed just in the premises.

Mr Isaacs:

– That has absolutely no relation to clause 6.

Mr HENRY WILLIS:

– Under clause 10, goods may be held up temporarily, pending the decision of the Court. It seems to me most un-English to provide in clause 6 that competition shall be deemed: to be unfair until the contrary is proved, because in British law a man is always held to be innocent until his guilt has been proved.. Under clause 6, however, an honest trader may be compelled to prove to the satisfaction of the Court that he has not been guilty of unfair competition, and, while the case is proceeding, a temporary restraining order may be obtained by the AttorneyGeneral to hold up’ his business. Honest traders are to be regarded as felons merely because they are dealing in wares which come into competition with similar goods manufactured in Australia. Unfair competition, according to the clause, is competition which, in the opinion of the jury, is “ unfair in the circumstances.” In what circumstances? In the circumstance, I suppose, that a man is trading in goods which come into competition with Australianmade goods. Apparently, any one who does that must, under the clause, run the risk of being proceeded against, and. if unable to prove his innocence, be fined heavily, or perhaps imprisoned, at the same time being made to suffer heavy financial loss by the impounding of his goods and the holding up of his business. Competition is to be deemed to be unfair until the contrary is proved, if the defendant is a commercial trust or agent of a commercial trust.” American lawyers who have written upon this phase of the question say that the tens of thousands of persons who have put their small savings into the companies which form part of trusts are individually liable to punishment.

Mr Isaacs:

– Certainly not.

Mr HENRY WILLIS:

– The AttorneyGeneral last night amended clauses 4 and 5 so that they now read “continues to en- gage,” instead of engages, in any combination. That makes the provision a little less stringent, but, nevertheless, any such person as I refer to, if he continues to be a member of a trust, will be liable to the penalty set forth in the measure,- although, perhaps, quite innocent of the operations of the trust. Competition is the very soul of business, and has achieved the comforts which we now enjoy.

Mr Isaacs:

– Fair competition is the soul of business.

Mr HENRY WILLIS:

– Competition is not unfair unless there is an attempt - as by selling goods at a loss - to destroy a trade rival. We, on this side, have said that we shall support legislation to prevent such competition.

Mr Isaacs:

– Then why did honorable members vote against my proposal last night ?

Mr HENRY WILLIS:

– We allowed a number of amendments to pass- without calling for a division, and the honorable member for Lang withdrew his amendment because the principle for which we are fighting - that there- shall not be unfair competition to the detriment of the public - has not vet been affirmed by the Committee. How could a widow who held shares in a company which was a member of a trust prove that she was not a member of that trust, if she were getting her revenues from it, however ignorant she might be of the nature of its operations? Competition is to be deemed unfair until the contrary is proved, also, if it “ would probably, or does in fact, result in a lower remuneration for labour.” The amendment of the honorable member for North Sydney, if it had been adopted, would have greatly improved the Bill. The Minister of Trade and Customs was informed by a merchant last week that articles essential to the manufacture of boots and shoes in Australia are imported, and are the production of a trust. If the importation is prohibited, the local boot and shoe industry will be crippled. It might be possible to establish in Melbourne a make-shift industry for the production of such articles as are now imported, but how could a local manufacturer compete successfully against the foreign manufacturer, with his larger output and his patented machinery, unless his employe’s worked longer hours and received lower wages than the hours and wages of the employe” of the foreigner? But if it is impossible for a local manufacturer to compete against the goods of a foreign manufacturer without employing his men for longer hours, and paying them lower wages than obtain elsewhere, the importer of the foreign manufacturer’s goods will be liable to a heavy fine, and even to imprisonment. This legislation is supposed to be necessary in the interests of Australia and of our native industries; but surely a native industry should flourish and be able to compete successfully against foreign rivals. This infamous piece of legislation has been originated by Ministers who have lived on their professed desire to keep the industries of Australia alive, and to make this a selfcontained community. Now they are taking steps which are calculated to stamp out all our industries, because they aim at preventing the introduction of the products of foreign trusts with which we cannot dispense. Paragraph c provides that competition shall be regarded as unfair “if it would probably, or does in fact, result in greatly disorganizing Australian industry and throwing workers out of employment.” How is it possible for our industries to escape disorganization if the importation of the raw materials necessary for their success is prohibited ? I pointed out .last year that, although we produced! a large quantity of leather, we had not a sufficient amount of that commodity in the higher qualities to meet the demands of the public. It would not be possible for our manufacturers to get along without importing the higher classes of sole leather, such as Kron’s, and that turned out by certain English manufacturers. Furthermore, our manufacturers could not dispense with French, English, and German upper leather such as is now used by them.

Mr Johnson:

– They would have to use in its place locally-produced barium-loaded leather.

Mr HENRY WILLIS:

– Unless our manufacturers have opportunities of introducing the raw material required to enable them to turn out first-class articles, our industries are bound to become disorganized, and our workers will soon be walking about vainly seeking employment. Many of the articles which are in daily use by the public will increase in price to. the extent of fully 50 per cent., and the whole community will be reduced to a state of desperation. Carnegie has pointed out that the American trusts conduct their operations in a country which has a population of 80,000,000, and that they can turn out their manufactures on a very large scale. For instance, in connexion with the process of clicking in the bootmaking trade, the operatives in Australia use a knife to perform an operation which is executed in America by means of stamps. The factories in the “United States are thereby enabled to turn out tens of thousand’s of articles in the one operation. How’ would it be possible for our manufacturers to compete with factories equipped upon such lines unless they had opportunities afforded to them to introduce and use up-to-date machinery? The Minister of Trade and Customs told us the other day that a certain manufacturer was permitted to use an American machine only on condition that he did not employ any English machines in the same factory. If the Bill came into operation, the manufacturer would not be permitted to introduce such a machine, and would thereby be handicapped in his operations. If up-to-date machines are not brought here, how can our mechanics improve upon them? I would! mention another case. Motors are coming’ very largely into use in connexion with shipping and other enterprises, and yet under the Bill it would be impossible to introduce naphtha, benzine, or petrol, the fuel principally used for driving such motors. This prohibition of importations would be brought about merely in order to assist the kerosene industry of Australia. The general public would be compelled to use the Australian product, that could not be purified1 up to the necessary degree except at a cost probably 500 per cent, in excess of that involved in America. Therefore, it is almost inevitable that a large number of the. motors and engines referred to will be thrown out of use. Then again, industry will be much hampered if those who desire to use as fuel residual oil, which is much cheaper than coal, are unable to procure that article. Mining operations cannot now be carried on in many parts of the back country, because of the expense attaching to the use of coal as fuel. If, however, plentiful supplies of oil were available, the difficulty would be overcome, and many of our mineral deposits which are not now being exploited would yield an appreciable addition to our wealth. Under the Bill, any person who attempted to introduce oil or naphtha would be punished. Moreover, the importation of motors would be prohibited, and this would operate to the disadvantage of the local manufacturers, who would have no opportunity of keeping themselves uptodate by observing the improvements effected by American and other motor makers. Buildings have been erected and plant installed at Double Bay, on the shores of Sydney Harbor, with a view to the manufacture of motor cars, but I am afraid that that industry will never be permitted to make a start, and .that hundreds of men will be denied an opportunity to obtain profitable employment. Moreover, the members of the public, such as bakers, butchers, laundrymen, and travellers, who would be inclined to use motor cars for commercial purposes, will be prevented from doing so. The Bill will prove an insurmountable obstacle to many persons who, but for the difficulties placed in the way, would take steps to establish industries which would prove advantageous to the community as a whole. What man would run the risk of being subjected to twelve months’ imprisonment and a fine of £1,000? Who would face the possibility of having his goods impounded, or forfeited, in the manner that the Bill provides for? It seems to me that this is ruinous legislation, and that the provisions of the Bill have never been properly thought nut. There is no precedent for them. If the Attorney-General had been content to work upon the lines of the legislation that has been passed in the United States, and to accept the suggestions that have been made from this side of the Chamber, the public would have been protected against injury at the hands of destructive trusts, and, at the same time, would have been left free to engage in legitimate trading operations without being hectored and worried bv a number of vexatious provisions. The Attorney-General, in his endeavours to improve on the American legislation, has lost sight of the fact that, whereas we have only 4,000,000 of people, the United States have a population of 80,000,000. The Americans are able to produce al! that they require, and are practically a self-contained community. Honorable members have only to read the speeches of Mr. Chamberlain in order to realize the great strides that America has made, and what she is doing to-day, as compared with what she was able to accomplish a few years ago.

Mr Isaacs:

– They would realize what is being done by the United States under protection, as compared with what was possible under free-trade conditions.

Mr HENRY WILLIS:

– The AttorneyGeneral is endeavouring to apply the principle of prohibition, but he should remember what prohibition has done for America. The Minister of Trade and Customs told us that the American manufacturers were making the home consumers pay from 10 per cent. to 50 per cent. more for their products than they charge to their customers in Australia. They are able to do this owing to the high protective duties to which the Attorney-General has referred’. This Bill is of a destructive character, and is no credit to the Attorney-General. I am surprised that a gentleman of his reputation should sit here and put forward such proposals, making concessions only when he is convinced against his will by members of the Opposition. The measure will inflict a grave injustice upon the very industries upon his solicitude for which the reputation of the Attorney-General has been largely based.

Mr KNOX:
Kooyong

.- Ministers promised that when we reached clause 6 we should have explained to us the exact meaning of “unfair competition.” I must admit that the Attorney-General’s explanation would remove a number of objections if it were possible to attach it to the Bill. Under this clause, however, unfair competition is to be determined by a jury, that is not to be even a special jury.

Mr Isaacs:

– An amendment has been circulated which provides for a special jury.

Mr KNOX:

– I was not aware that such ar. amendment had been . circulated. Will the Attorney-General inform me whether a person against whom a charge had been preferred would have the right to challenge any members of the jury which was to hear his case.

Mr Isaacs:

– Of course he would. Here is a copy of the new clause which has been circulated for several days

Mr KNOX:

– That disposes of my first objection. The only other point to which I desire to direct attention relatesto unfair competition. I find that under this clause competition is to be deemed unfair until the contrary is proved -

  1. If the defendant is a commercial trust or agent of a commercial trust ;
  2. If the competition would probably or does in fact result in a lower remuneration for labour ;
  3. If the competition would probably or does in fact result in greatly disorganizing Australian industry or throwing workers out of employment.

The Attorney-General, I suppose, more than any other honorable member of this Committee, is brought closely into contact with the business men of Melbourne, and he must know that the effect of these provisions will seriously hamper commercial enterprise. Whatever his political views may be he surely must recognise that to throw the onus of proof upon the individual or upon the commercial trust which is being attacked–

Mr Isaacs:

– The clause does not throw the onus of proof upon the individual, but it does throw it upon the commercial trust. How many commercial trusts are there in Melbourne, or indeed throughout Australia?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Hence the urgency for this Bill.

Mr KNOX:

– Seeing that both the AttorneyGeneral and the Minister of Trade and Customs have admitted that the legislation proposed is. of an exceedinglydrastic character, the course which is ordinarily followed in British communities, so far as accused persons are concerned, might surely be continued.

Mr Isaacs:

– It is being continued.

Mr KNOX:

– It is not. The clause provides that in the cases which I have cited, competition shall be deemed to be unfair until the contrary is proved. When a prosecution is originated, I maintain that its authors ought to be in a position to show reasons for their action. Nobody knows better than does the Attorney-General how much a business may be injured by the stigma which may possibly attach to it as the result of any action at law. It has been very well said by one honorable member that the fines which may be inflicted under the Bill - altogether apart from the penalty of imprisonment - constitute a very small matter as compared with the serious loss which may be occasioned by the dislocation of business consequent upon a charge being preferred against any particular individual. I therefore ask the AttorneyGeneral to consider the wisdom of excising “from this clause what is universally regarded as a grossly unfair principle. Under its provisions the onus is upon the accused person to refute the charge that is being preferred against him. If that principle were eliminated much of the fear and distrust which have been created by this Bill might be removed. The procedure contemplated is a most un-British one. I am perfectly aware that the same form of expression is embodied in our Customs Act, but there the reference is to specific articles. I appeal to the Attorney-General to remove from the Bill this undeniable blot, which would enable a charge to be preferred against an individual, to the permanent loss and dislocation of his business, without any justification whatever.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– As the Bill stands, any individual may sue for treble damages in the Court.

Mr Isaacs:

– The Minister of Trade and Customs has given an undertaking that he will remedy that.

Mr KNOX:

– In view of the marvellously complicated character of this legislation, and of the impossibility of following its ramifications to finality, I hold that more adequate provision should be made for the protection of defendants than that which is proposed.

Mr Isaacs:

– The defendants of whom the. honorable member speaks, are the commercial trusts which have banded themselves together for the purpose of destroying other people.

Mr KNOX:

– There is not a single member of this Committee who would defend the operations of destructive commercial trusts which were bent upon destroying local industries. But the AttorneyGeneral has already stated, by way of interjection, that these trusts are very few in number. That being so, they must be specifically known.

Mr Isaacs:

– They are not specifically known, but they are very few.

Mr KNOX:

– Is not that all the more reason why the Bill should contain a clear declaration as to the manner in which litigation shall be instituted, and malicious action prevented? The Attorney-General has said that Part II. and Part III. of the Bill, which relate to the repression of monopolies, and the prevention of dumping respectively, are absolutely distinct. If that be so, in view of the great magnitude of the interests which are involved, I claim that the matters in question should have been dealt with in two separate Bills. Either the whole measure is unimportant, or it is of the greatest importance.

Mr Isaacs:

– The reason why we em bodied the two parts in one Bill is that we wanted to preserve Australian industries.

Mr KNOX:

– But the measure is also intended to accomplish another purpose.

Mr Isaacs:

– Both portions of the Bill are necessary topreserve Australian industries.

Mr KNOX:

– My chief purpose in rising was to appeal to the Attorney-General to remove from the Bill the blot to which I have referred, which is calculated to do serious injury to many who are engaged in concerted work.

Mr Isaacs:

– The Bill merely throws upon persons who are bent upon attacking other people the onus of justifying their conduct.

Mr KNOX:

– When the action has been concluded, it may be found that the author of the attack is a man of straw, and, therefore, unable to pay damages, notwithstanding that he may have inflicted enormous loss upon the body which he has attacked. It is very difficult indeed for a lay member of the Committee to suggest amendments, but I maintain that we are justified in asking the Government to seriously consider the desirability of removing the impression which is abroad that this Bill is intended to crush successful organizations as such. At any time any person, however unimportant, may institute an action which will subject the persons charged to irritation and annoyance. If it is right that the persons charged should be subjected to such annoyance, there can be no objection, but the matter ought not to be left in such a way that the unfortunate man must himself justifyhis position. I respectfully submit that this is a point which the AttorneyGeneral, as the adviser of large commercial associations, will admit requires consideration.

Mr GLYNN:
Angas

.- I do not know of any amendments which will not really touch the foundation of the Bill, the acceptance of which can matter very much. We have carried a series of amendments which seem to modify the provisions of the measure, but which, in very few instances, affect them at all. Last night we substituted for the words “ with the design of” the words “ with the intent to.” There is no difference in the effect of these expressions, nor will it make the very smallest difference whether they are in or not. So long as the competition is proved to be unfair, design or intent will be presumed. We seem to be getting a number of concessions from the Government which really amount to nothing at all. The Attorney-General last night jumped at an amendment suggested by the honorable member for North Sydney. When he accepted it this evening, the honorable and learned gentleman seemed to be in a conciliatory mood, and to be giving us something, but it will not make the smallest difference in the clause, because the obligation is upon the jury to say whether the competition is unfair “ in the circumstances.” One of the circumstances they will have to consider is involved in the matters referred to in the amendment suggested by the honorable member for North Sydney, but all these matters are to be taken into account in determining whether competition is unfair, and the whole range of factors which might affect their decision are embraced within the words “ in the circumstances.” Looking at clause 6, I do not know that we can make very much difference in it without affecting the policy of the Bill. We might strike out paragraph a, which really contains the sting, though the other paragraphs may appear to be more noxious to us at first glance. . But if we do that we shall be hitting at the policy of the Bill, which is to assume that a combination is in itself bad, altogether apart from its operations; that is to say, a combination as defined in this Bill. “ Commercial trusts are bad,” is what the Bill practically says. It does not wait for their operations to prove that they are bad. It assumes it. The offence is entering into a contract. A commercial trust is denned as being established when you enter into a contract of a certain character, and it is assumed that everything else here dealt with will follow as the result of its operations. Assuming that that principle is right, I do not see how we can amend paragraphs b and c. The prosecuting, counsel will have to prove that the competition would probably, or does in fact, result in a lower remuneration for labour. That is to say, the jury will have to be convinced of that fact, and it is only then, or on evidence being given to the jury from which that deduction might - follow, that the defence that -it is not unfair competition comes in.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– But is it the contrary of that that has to be proved?

Mr GLYNN:

– I think that on a fair reading of the clause the Crown will have to prove that the competition would’ probably, or does in fact, result in a lower remuneration for labour.

Mr Isaacs:

– That is so, but that does not conclude the matter.

Mr GLYNN:

– No, there is then thrown upon the defence the onus of showing that the competition is not unfair. As soon . as a prima facie case is established by the Crown in the terms of paragraphs b and c, then the defence will have to be that the competition is not unfair. It is.- an extraordinary Bill, there is no doubt about that. It will lead to all sorts of perplexities and - and for this many of the lawyers may be able to say “Thank Providence !” - to all sorts of lucrative wrangles.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– It will be a good thing for members of the honorable and learned member’s profession.

Mr GLYNN:

– No doubt. This Bill seems to be incorrigible. You cannot touch, it without hitting it right in the centre. It is impossible to amend it. It seems to me that it is like a certain Shakspearian character, Parolles, of whom it was said: -

He hath out-villained villainy so far, that the rarity redeems him.

The ‘Bill secures itself immunity from amendment by its very absurdity. One has almost to get up and apologize for being critical when one does not come in with an armful of amendments. The only amendment I could suggest would be the striking out of paragraph a ; but if we were to do that, I am afraid the Attorney-General would consider that he had a lop-sided Bill. The word “ probably “ might be struck out of paragraph b. It is a tremendous discretion to give to the jury. I do not know what “ probably “ will mean. The phrase used is “ probably result in lower remuneration for labour.” Suppose that in the various States there are arbitration awards in force, or awards of the various boards appointed to fix wages; within what time must this ^probably” be effective by competition? What anticipation of the proximity or remoteness of its effect must the jury have where an arbitration award as to wages is in existence, or where the wages have been fixed by boards? The wages may be all right, But capital might be struck. There might be an attack upon some of its profits - but labour will be secured by the awards referred to. Is the clause, then, to be operative, or does the mere possibility that ten years, or two years, afterwards labour might be affected bv the competition in the meantime give jurisdiction to the jury to say that it is competition which will “ probably result,” some time or another, “ in a lower remuneration for labour ?” Then, again, to show what an extraordinary Bill this really is, the Attorney-General himself seemed doubtful whether clause 10, which he says applies to this part of the Bill, does not apply to the other part also.

Mr Isaacs:

– 1 have no doubt on the point.

Mr GLYNN:

– I thought the honorable and learned gentleman said that it did not apply to this part.

Mr Isaacs:

– No. Clause 14, I said, does not apply to this part.

Mr GLYNN:

– I must have misunderstood the honorable and learned gentleman. But it is due to the extraordinary way in which this Bill is drawn. Its application may be to the two clauses we have not yet dealt with which, as dealing with operations, bring us into the region of common sense, so far as common-sense may be alleged in connexion with this Bill. It might apply to clauses 4 and 5, which deal purely with entering into a contract and intending to do something, because the offence is entering into the contract. Under this, the Attorney-General might institute proceedings to stop a man entering into a contract, which is an extraordinary application to be made to a Court of Justice. I suppose we must be satisfied. We are here in a dual capacity.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The product or article is dealt with in precisely the same way in both clauses.

Mr GLYNN:

– However, there may be some means of amending this in such a way as to make it a little more palatable ; but, so long as the principle remains, one is dis-‘ armed by the futility of any attempt to amend it.

Mr JOHNSON:
Lang

– The honorable member for Kooyong very correctly described this clause as a. blot on the Bill, but he might ‘with even greater accuracy have described the whole Bill as a blot- It is a blot upon the intelligence of those who are responsible for its introduction. It would be a blot upon any Parliament that would accept it in its present form, and a blot upon the community that would return legislators capable of such a stupendous piece of blundering and idiotic legislation. In speaking on the second reading, I objected to this portion of the Bill on the ground that it would reverse an accepted principle of. British jurisprudence, by throwing the onus of proof of innocence upon the person accused.

A person accused under this Bill is deemed to be guilty until he is able to prove his innocence. Hitherto, under all accepted notions of British justice, even the greatest criminal has always been assumed to be innocent until his accusers have proved him to be guilty.

Mr Page:

– The same thing happens under the Customs Act.

Mr JOHNSON:

– In all the legislation with which the members of the present Government have had anything to do in this Parliament this fundamental principle of British justice has not only been ignored, but has absolutely been reversed. In these enactments we insist upon presuming guilt merely upon an accusation which there might not be the smallest tittle of evidence to support, and the person assumed to be guilty must rest under the stigma of guilt during the whole of the time he is under prosecution, and until his innocence has been established’ by himself. Clause 6 provides that -

For the purpose of the last two preceding sections unfair competition means competition which is, in the opinion of the jury, unfair in the circumstances ; and in the following cases the competition shall be deemed to be unfair until the contrary is proved -

If the defendant is a Commercial Trust or agent of a Commercial Trust.

In connexion with that, I should like to direct the attention of the Committee to the fact that it was emphasized yesterday by the Attorney-General, when we were dealing with clauses 4 and 5, that it is not only necessary that the defendant shall be a commercial trust or the agent of a commercial trust, or a combination, but as the honorable and learned gentleman pointed out to-night, it must be shown by the prosecution, first of all, that the defendant is a combination, next a combination of a particular kind: again its competition must be such as to injure or destroy, and the combination must be brought together with the intent to do something in the direction of injuring an Australian industry to the detriment of the public.

Mr Isaacs:

– No; “an industry the preservation of which is advantageous to the Commonwealth, having regard to the interests “ of producers, workers, and consumers.” The expression “ to the detriment of the public “ refers to the other clauses, and has nothing to do with a commercial trust under paragraph a of this clause.

Mr JOHNSON:

– But this clause operates in connexion with the two preceding clauses.

Mr Isaacs:

– Only with respect to the part that refers to unfair competition, and is only refers to the first sub-clause.

Mr JOHNSON:

– So far as I could understand the position yesterday the gravamen of the charge rests upon the question whether the competition is to the detriment of the public.

Mr Isaacs:

– No.

Mr JOHNSON:

– Then my recollection must be at fault. I can only say that it seemed to me that that was clearly the impression conveyed.

Mr Isaacs:

– I assure the honorable member that he is under a misapprehension.

Mr JOHNSON:

– I accept the AttorneyGeneral’s assurance, and I point out that if it were so it would be necessary, under this clause, for the defendant only to be a commercial trust or the agent of a commercial trust to be brought under the penal clauses of the Bill.

Mr Isaacs:

– The honorable member will recollect that when the matter was under discussion, and the honorable member for Echuca moved his amendment, it was pointed out that it would not make the slightest difference in the world under paragraph a of the clause then under discussion whether the defendant was a commercial trust or not.

Mr JOHNSON:

– The defendant, as a commercial . trust, or the agent of a commercial trust, will, by reason of that very fact, be deemed guilty of unfair competition.

Mr Isaacs:

– The honorable member will recollect that the honorable member for Wentworth very clearly pointed out that that question is not affected by paragraph a.

Mr JOHNSON:

– Then what is the meaning of the words - and in the following cases the competition shall be deemed to be unfair until the contrary is proved : -

  1. If the defendant is a Commercial Trust or agent of a Commercial Trust……
Mr Isaacs:

– That relates to paragraph b, and not to paragraph a of the preceding clause.

Mr JOHNSON:

– It relates, as far as I understand it, to the clauses dealing with unfair competition, and makes the defendant subject to the penalties attaching to unfair competition. I accept the explanation of the Attorney-General ; but in regard to this portion of the clause, which throws upon the defendant the onus of proving his innocence, I point out that, as soon as a commercial trust attempts to come into competition with any local industry, proceedings may be taken before the Court. As the Attorney General has pointed out, it then rests with the prosecution to show, first, that it is a combination, next that it is a combination of a particular kind intended to injure, destroy, or adversely affect an Australian industry.

Mr Isaacs:

– And further, that the industry which the combination is affecting, or seeking to affect, is one that ought to be preserved. All that has to be proved affirmatively and substantively by the prosecution.

Mr JOHNSON:

– While all this is being proved) the defendant’s business is liable to be “ held up.”

Mr Isaacs:

– No.

Mr JOHNSON:

– But I say yes. In the meantime the defendant is to be put to all the annoyance, inconvenience, and expense of attending a Court, not necessarily because he is guilty of any offence, but simply because on him lies the onus of showing that he is not committing, has not committed, or does not intend to commit, a law-manufactured crime. It will be admitted that this is not a natural crime, but that whatever criminality there is in it is manufactured by legislation. The defendant is not only subjected to this inconvenience and less, but his business is liable to be “held up” under provisions in another part of the Bill.

Mr Isaacs:

– The defendant, of course, is a great commercial trust !

Mr.JOHNSON. - Or the agent of a commercial trust. It has been shown that a commercial trust does not necessarily exist for an evil purpose, but may have been formed withquite a different object, and be beneficial in its operations.

Mr Isaacs:

– Then it will not come withinthe Bill.

Mr.JOHNSON.- That has to be proved by the commercial trust or the agent: and while all this- is going on the Minister of Trade and Customs may take certain action under clauses 15 and 16.

Mr Isaacs:

– No.

Mr.JOHNSON. - I take it that this part of the Bill affects what is known as dumping, which, of course, is mainly dealt with in other portions of the measure. So far as I understand the matter, those other portions of the Bill, and the clauses now under consideration, will be read together. My object is to show what might be done under the Bill, and if I am wrong the Attorney -General will correct me.

Mr Isaacs:

– Those other portions of the Bill will not affect the question dealt with in clause 6.

Mr JOHNSON:

– While the Court is being moved for the purpose of making a defendant prove his innocence of unfair competition, further action may be taken in another quarter. Under clauses 15 and 16 the Minister of Trade and Customs may “hold up” the business of the accused person. Clause16 provides: -

From the date of the Gazette notice until the report of the Board has been dealt with by the Governor-General, goods the subject of the investigation shall not be imported except upon such security and subject to such conditions as the Minister approves; and those goods shall, if imported in contravention of this section, be deemed to be prohibited imports within the meaning of the Customs Act 1901, and the provisions of that Act shall apply to the goods accordingly.

Does that notrelate to the clause under discussion ?

Mr Isaacs:

– Not in the smallest degree.

Mr JOHNSON:

– Not while the defendant is the subject of a prosecution?

Mr Isaacs:

– No.

Mr JOHNSON:

– Well, I think it does. We are now practically dealing with the question of dumping, or, at any rate, ‘ with foreign competition. The Attorney-General shakes his head, but we have had experience of assurances, not only from the Attorney-General, but also from the Minister of Trade and Customs, which have not afterwards been verified. We were assured by those honorable gentlemen that under legislation passed by this House certain things would not happen - I refer particularly to the Commerce Bill, and yet those very things which we on this side prophesied have occurred.

Mr Isaacs:

– Have they occurred?

Mr JOHNSON:

– Yes.

Mr Isaacs:

– What has occurred?

Mr JOHNSON:

– I refer particularly to the question of grading.

Mr Isaacs:

– What has occurred ?

Mr JOHNSON:

– I have a very vivid recollection of the matter.

Mr Isaacs:

– What has occurred?

Mr JOHNSON:

– I shall tell the AttorneyGeneral what has occurred if he will not be so impatient in his interruptions. I am not a defendant under a legislativelymanufactured criminal charge. When the Commerce Bill was before us, the question was raised by the honorable member for North Sydney as to whether the measure did not aim at grading. The Minister of Trade and Customs then gave an assurance that there was no intention to do anything in the nature of grading, and the AttorneyGeneral expressed the opinion that the Minister would have no power under the Bill to grade - in fact, the AttorneyGeneral was sure there was no power.

Mr Robinson:

– The Vice-President of the Executive Council gave his word of honour that it would not be done.

Mr JOHNSON:

– At the time to which I am referring, the Attorney-General said that in his opinion the Minister of Trade and Customs would have no power to deal with the question of grading; and yet we have seen an attempt made by regulation with that object in connexion with the administration of the Commerce Act.

Mr Isaacs:

– Nothing has happened.

Mr JOHNSON:

– But it was attempted by the Minister. If nothing has happened, it is only because of protests by deputations of persons interested, who have shown the impracticability of the proposal - an impracticability which was pointed out by honorable members on this side when the Bill was under discussion. I am merely showing that, whilst the assurances were, I believe, honest expressions of opinion by the Ministers at the time, the Attorney-General, with all his legal knowledge and astuteness, is liable to the same mistakes as are some of us less fortunately gifted mortals. However, I am pleased that this clause is to be amended and improved in some respects, and that in the test of unfair competition due regard will be paid to superior processes, more efficient management, and so forth.

Mr Isaacs:

– Here is the new sub-clause which I intend to propose.

Mr JOHNSON:

– I see that the proposed new sub-clause reads -

In determining whether the competition is unfair, regard shall be had to. the efficiency of the management, the processes, the plant and the machinery employed or adopted in relation to the Australian industry affected by the competition.

Mr Kelly:

– The whole matter is covered by the words “ in the circumstances.”

Mr JOHNSON:

– Yes ; but I intend to submit an amendment which may get over the difficulty. I am glad that the AttorneyGeneral has accepted the suggestion of the honorable member for North Sydney in regard to these matters. Had that suggestion not been accepted, there is not the slightest doubt we should! have fast drifted into the condition of a nation of “troglodytes - we should have drifted back to the dismal depths of the dark ages, and, with the rest of the world advancing as the result of inventions and improved1 machinery, we should, at no distant date, suddenly have awakened to the fact that we were a thousand years behind the times. Happily, such a result is to be, to some extent, guarded against by a due regard to those developments and methods which make for increased production, so that their introduc- tion shall not be held to constitute unfair competition within the meaning of the Bill. As I said before, all competition, by its very nature, must be more or less regarded as unfair, if by “unfair competition” is meant competition which injures a rival. I know of no competition which does not in some way or another injure a competitor. For instance, take the case of motor ‘buses and motor cars, which supplant at once a mode of conveyance to which -we have hitherto been accustomed.. Motor ‘buses and cars replace vehicles drawn by horse traction, and by-and-by perhaps air ships will replace other existing modes of transit. On Thursday next, I understand, we are to be invited to witness an exhibition of wireless telegraphy. That system of telegraphy is a new invention, which comes into competition with the existing, system. I merely point this out in order to show that all competition might be deemed unfair under the Bill if it injured in any way existing trades, industries, professions, or, in fact, any means of livelihood. The very object of wireless telegraphy is to destroy ordinary telegraphy bv the use of wires. All the industries which depend upon wire telegraphy would be affected by it. Yet there is no honorable member but will welcome Marconi’s invention as one which will, benefit the” whole human race. Let us see how wireless telegraphy will affect other industries. It ‘will affect the industry of cutting down trees and the preparation of poles to hold the tele graph wires; the industry of putting those poles into position; the industry of extracting from the earth the metal from which the wire is made ; the industry of the wire-makers ; the industry of. those who stretch the wires on the poles ; and the industry of the maintenance men. Right throughout the whole gamut of industries which are associated with wire telegraphy, the new invention will have an injurious effect. Yet we who are legislating for the. purpose of preventing competition are next week going down to Queenscliff, at the invitation of a foreign firm,’ for the express purpose of seeing this new invention in operation, with a view to its adoption in Australia. We do absurd things. With the one hand we set up a system, and with the other we knock it down. An ordinary contractor who puts in a tender to do certain work injures his competitor who is unsuccessful. He has no desire to advance the interests of his rival. All competition judged by the same standard can be shown to be unfair. The very competition of schoolboys for prizes is in the same category. Competition in the football and cricket field have, the same effect ; and so it is in every walk of life. Let Honorable members consider paragraph c -

If the competition would probably or does in fact result in greatly disorganizing Australian industry or throwing workers out of employment.

How is the question of probability to be determined ?

Mr Isaacs:

– The object is that you are not to wait until the industry is absolutely destroyed, but that you are to prevent its destruction if you can,

Mr JOHNSON:

– Will it only be necessary for the complainant to state that he has reason to believe ?

Mr Isaacs:

– No; he will have to prove the fact. Whatever difficulty there is there would rest on the prosecutor.

Mr JOHNSON:

– It would not be a difficult matter to prove, by means of such dodges as we have already seen resorted to in Victoria, and yet there would be a considerable amount of justifiable doubt in the minds of some people as to whether a particular industry would really suffer as the result of the competition. And while the prosecutor is proving his case the unfortunate defendant will have his business hung up, and be subject to all the annoyance, inconvenience, and pecuniary loss attached to establishing his innocence.

It is an iniquitous and unfair proposal in every possible way. I desire to move, as an amendment -

That the words “ which is in the opinion of the jury unfair .in the circumstances,” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ in which unjust or dishonest means are employed for the purpose of destroying or injuring any industry.”

In order to test the point, I move, first of all-

That the words “ which is,” lines 2 and 3, be left out.

Mr KELLY:
Wentworth

.- I think that if the Attorney-General accepts the amendment which has just been moved bv the honorable member for Lang, we shall have done something to erase a blot upon this measure. As we are proceeding through this Bill, it becomes more and more evident that it has been designed for political purposes, and as a political placard. In this respect the Government seems to have followed in the footsteps, of the United States. I have here a work by Von Halle, who is recognised as an economist of the first order, on the recent anti-trust legislation of the United States. This is one of the conclusions at which Von Halle has arrived in this regard. He writes. -

Meanwhile, the repeal of the present antitrust legislation seems desirable. Passed as they were merely for political purposes, even those politicians who sought by their passage to soothe popular feeling did not expect them to be complied with. And the multiplicity of laws of such a character is a great danger to the community.

That is exactly what we are beginning to realize as we go through this Bill.

It explains to a large extent the astonishing immorality in politics and in the political thought of large classes.

I recommend this to the earnest consideration of honorable members -

The necessity of circumventing so many laws because they prescribe things simply impossible must in the long run undermine the sense of legality and respect for law.

Such are the well considered opinions of an American economist upon the United States anti-trust legislation, from which we have been told this Bill has been copied. We have now arrived, as honorable members who have preceded me have said, at a very crucial point in this Bill. Up to the present moment the ordinary English principle of considering a man to be innocent until he is proved to be guilty has obtained. We are now making a departure from this principle of British liberty. What causes are there for this change? Who is it that will have to prove his innocence? We are told that competition shall be deemed to be unfair until the contrary isi proved, if the defendant is a “ commercial trust or the agent of a commercial trust.” What is a “commercial trust” under the Bill ? We aire concerned, not with the usual acceptation of the term, but with its meaning as defined in the Bill. According to the interpretation clause, any combination of persons, any ordinary financial institution, any company, or, I might almost say, any partnership, is included in the term. Commercial trust “ includes a combination of separate and independent persons whose voting power or .determinations are controlled or controllable by an agreement “ - does not that include a partnership? - “or bv a board of management or its equivalent.” Does not that include a joint stock company, or any company or financial or other institution ? Any possible combina- ti6n of business men, however harmless, may be compelled, under clause 6, to prove their innocence of “ unfair competition” “in the circumstances-“ Who is to decide what is unfair competition in the circumstances? I suppose that by unfair competition is meant destructive and harmful competition. Is the Judge and jury to consider the effect of competition in all its aspects, or only in its relation to the industry which complains that it is detrimentally affected ? Let us take some illustrations, to show the difficulties which the clause creates. A merchant importing timber is undoubtedly detrimentally affecting the industry of the timbergetters of Australia, but, by lowering the price of timber in this market, he is benefiting a still larger section of the community - those interested in the building trades. If the timbergetters brought an action against an importing timber merchant, could the Judge and jury consider the effect of the competition upon the building trades? Apparently, under the clause, they would be bound to confine themselves to its effect on the industry of the timber-getters. In this world every one lives on some one else. Money does not pour down from the heavens, and the man who is doing well in an industry is prospering at the expense of some one else engaged in that industry. Therefore, under such circumstances, the Court must decide against the importer every time. Let us take another illustration. The importation of Javanese sugar- detrimentally affects the cane-growers of this country, though it is of advantage to certain refineries. I do not refer to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company in this connexion, because I understand that they do not use Javanese sugar.

Mr Page:

– How long has that been so?

Mr KELLY:

-I am not speaking from intimate knowledge, but I believe that, as a rule, they do not use Javanese sugar.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– They use it when the Australian supply does not meet their requirements.

Mr KELLY:

– No doubt; but that is not often. I would point out that there is a big Melbourne firm, which has lately extended its operations to Sydney, which imports Javanese sugar, and, in doing so, detrimental ly affects the cane-growers of Australia. If that firm were proceeded against for unfair competition, would the Judge and jury be compelled to confine their attention to the effect of the competition upon the local sugar industry, or should they pay consideration to its effect upon the jam and confectionery industry, which is, perhaps, benefited by the importation ? To give a third illustration, which vitally affects a Melbourne industry. Piece-goods are admitted on payment of a very low duty, and, no doubt, seriously compete with local manufacturers ; but, on the other hand, the large clothing factories of Melbourne reap an inestimable benefit from the arrangement. Under the clause, however, if the importers were accused of unfair competition, the Judge and Jury would have to confine their attention to the effect of the competition on the local industry, and, in pronouncing against the importers, would be injuring the clothing industry, while endeavouring to protect the piece-goods industry. This provision is an absolute blot on the measure. We require a definition of unfair competition. In the Bill it is left to a jury to decide what competition is unfair. No doubt the measure will also be used in a general way to strike at big concerns.Is it not likely that a jury, impanelled to try a case in which the defendant may be a large and wealthy corporation, on whom is thrown the onus of proving innocence, while the plaintiff is some person not so well off. will, following the usual practice of juries, give a sympathetic verdict against the richer party? The Attorney-General knows how railway companies and Governments fear litigation, not because of the merits of the claims brought against them, but because juries are always disposed to award damages against them, knowing that the losers are impersonal concerns. Similarly, juries will be likely to give their verdicts against the big concerns prosecuted under this clause. Is it fair, under these circumstances, to depart from the accepted principle of British law, and hold a party guilty until he has proved his innocence? It appears to me that we are not so much hitting at the harmful development of trade, as endeavouring to strike a blow at successful enterprise, for the mere reason that it is successful.

Mr Isaacs:

– We are endeavouring to strike a blow at the successful enterprise of the garroter.

Mr KELLY:

– The Attorney-General must imagine, for the moment, that he is on the public platform. He cannot think that an interjection of that kind will be treated seriously by the Committee.

Mr Henry Willis:

– The honest trader is being called a garroter now.

Mr KELLY:

– That is the cult of the Socialists.

Mr Isaacs:

– It is the man who is trying to strangle the honest trader that I call a garroter.

Mr KELLY:

– Yesterday, the AttorneyGeneral was anxious to insert words making it incumbent on a plaintiff, where action in restraint of trade was charged, to prove design, and I pointed our that such proof was practically impossible, and that if the amendment were agreed to, no commercial trust could be brought to book for having entered into a conspiracy in restraint of trade. Now the honorable and learned gentleman tells us that he desires to garrote the garroter. Such inconsistencies as that, appearing clearly in the pages of Hansard. will be a more effective argument against the Bill than any catch cry uttered by way of interjection.

Mr Isaacs:

– The inconsistencies are in the speech of the honorable member.

Mr KELLY:

– This legislation will have the effect of penalizing successful industry. I remarked with interest the difficulty which the honorable and learned member for Angas had in suggesting anamendment of the clause. In speaking on the second reading, I urged as a reason why the Government should reconsider the measure as a whole, that it would be found impossible to amend it in Committee in regard to any vital provision, because of the consequential amendments which would be necessary by reason of the manner in which the Bill had been drafted.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The AttorneyGeneral has had a difficulty in providing for amendments.

Mr KELLY:

– Yes. The Government have circulated about six pages of proposed amendments which they wish to move.

Mr Isaacs:

– We are trying to meet all reasonable objections.

Mr KELLY:

– The six pages of pro: posed amendments are to meet objections in regard to other than vital provisions.

Mr Isaacs:

– Does the honorable member object to our action?

Mr KELLY:

– Not in the least ; -but the fact that the Government have to propose pages of amendments in order to put the Bill into reasonable shape, shows how illconsidered the measure has been. I am glad, however, that they are trying to put it into a reasonable shape. If the Attorney-General will not abandon the clause, I trust that he will amend it so that it will not be open to the enormous abuses I have indicated. In the first place, I think that paragraph a should be omitted, because it would throw the onus of proving its innocence upon every kind’ of financial institution.

Mr Isaacs:

– If the honorable member turns to the definition of “commercial trust “ he will see that he is wrong.

Mr KELLY:

– I find that according to the definition “ commercial trust “ includes “ any combination of persons whose voting powers are controlled or controllable by an agreement.” I would ask honorable members whether any two persons acting in partnership would not have their voting powers controlled by an agreement. It is further provided that a combination whose voting powers are controlled or controllable by a board of management or its equivalent shall be regarded as a commercial trust. I ask whether any seven or more persons forming themselves into a company, and creating a board’ of management or its equivalent would not constitute an ordinary joint stock company, - and whether this interpretation of “commercial trust” does not show that absolutely any combination of persons, whether in the form of a company or otherwise, would be regarded ‘as a commercial trust, and be liable to be penal ized in the way I have indicated. If the Attorney-General will not delete paragraph’ a, I suggest that the word “ probably “ should be excised’ from paragraphs b and c. It is provided in paragraph b that competition shall be deemed unfair “if it would probably, or does in fact, result in a lower remuneration for labour.” We find by reference to the interpretation clause that - “lower remuneration for labour” includes less pay or longer hours, or any terms or conditions of labour or employment more disadvantageous to workers.

I think that the paragraph as it now stands is too wide, in that it includes any probable reduction of the remuneration of labour among the issues that have to go to the jury. I think that the word “ general “ might reasonably be inserted before the words “ lower remuneration foi labour.” The paragraph would then read -

If the competition would probably or does in fact result in a general lower remuneration for labour.

This would insure that competition would not be regarded as unfair unless it had a general effect upon Australian industry, as contrasted with affecting employment to only a microscopic degree. Then in paragraph c I should like to insert the word “ generally “ before the words “ throwing workers out of employment.” The paragraph would then read -

If the competition would probably or does in fact result in greatly disorganizing Australian industry or generally throwing workers out of employment.

I am not particular whether the word “ generally “ is inserted in the place I suggest or at the end of the paragraph. If the clause were amended in that form, it would be necessary for the plaintiff in the case to prove more than the mere fact that he had lost an apprentice because of competition that might have beneficially affected a large number of other Australian citizens. He would have to prove that more than his own few immediate employes had been affected by the competition. When one considers the wide range of competition, and its divergent effects, surely it is not too much to ask that before competition is regarded as unfair, and its beneficial results are set at nought, it shall be proved that its detrimental effects have been of a general character. In ecn- clusion I might perhaps quote another extract from Von Halle. He says -

It has become customary, within the last few years, to apply to all kinds of industrial combinations and coalitions indiscriminately the name of “trusts.” This is very significant; for it shows that the public has unconsciously recognised that, though different in their form and sometimes in their temporary aims, all these attempts at combination ore but manifestations of one underlying tendency. While theorists still discuss the advisability, lawyers attack the legality, and politiciansdoubt the constitutionality of the principle of combination, we learn daily of the formation of new combines throughout the civilized world. This seems somewhat to discredit the cheerful hopefulness of the disbelievers in the orthodox teaching that combinations are nothing but temporary aberrations from the natural law of free competition. At the same time, it becomes evident that mere legal prohibition has proved neither successful nor productive of any satisfactory results. Men who were among the strongest opponents of all sorts of combinations a few years ago now officially admit them to be in certain instances the lesser evil.

That is the mature judgment of a gentleman who has given many years of his life to the study of this question, which he has approached’ in no spirit of friendliness to these large corporations.

Mr Isaacs:

– I should judge that he was very friendly to them.

Mr KELLY:

– That is another platform interjection which will not weigh very much with theCommittee.

Mr Isaacs:

– Who is Von Halle, and what is he?

Mr KELLY:

– I handed his book to the Attorney-General, and he has bad an opportunity of looking at it. Yet he can do nothing more than ask questions.

Mr Isaacs:

– He is an unknown writer.

Mr KELLY:

– I am firmly convinced, after what the Attorney-General has said in regard to this Bill, that he will say anything. I do not wish to accept the invitation of the Attorney-General to discuss side issues. Do I understand that the AttorneyGeneral is not prepared to consider any suggestion from the members of the Opposition ?

Mr Isaacs:

– I think that the clause is all right as it stands.

Mr KELLY:

– I trust that the Minister will not persist in that attitude, but that he will adopt my suggestions, Which would meet, to a certain extent, the very strong objections which most honorable members, in their minds, entertain to the clause.

Mr.JOSEPHCOOK (Parramatta) respects the most important in the Bill. The more I look at it, the more I am amazed that the Attorney-General should have left it in its present form, and particularly in this part of the Bill. There is no clear distinction between the different parts of the Bill which contain a number of provisions common to all. I do not see why paragraphs b and c should be dragged into a portion of the Bill which professes to deal with the repression of monopolies. The provisions have nothing to do with destructive monopolies, but relate to the most ordinary commercial transactions of every-day life. The Attorney-General has told us that this portion of the Bill is intended to enable the Government to deal with goods that are already here. If that be so, what has the question of lower remuneration of labour to do with the matter?

Mr Isaacs:

– The clause relates to goods that have been imported here. The antidumping provisions would prevent certain goods from coming here, but other goods might be on the spot, and might be used in such a way as to injure Australian industry.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– One of my complaints against the Bill is that only one measure should be introduced to deal with entirely different matters. The AttorneyGeneral desires to stop the introduction of goods, but if they should manage to struggle through the obstructions which he is interposing, he will deal with them under provisions which are intended to repress monopolies. I do not see how this part of the Bill can ever be brought into operation against foreign trusts. Their goods will be shut out effectively enough under the third’ part of the Bill.

Mr Isaacs:

– Will the honorable member vote for Part III. ?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The Minister is a little premature. One thing is becoming more clear as we proceed, namely, that the real intent and purpose of the Bill, who is not aimed at monopolies, is summed up in the impressive phrase used in the title, “ The preservation of Australian industries.” The Ministry are doing, in the times of piping fiscal peace, what they pledged themselves at the last election not to do. This Bill is the means by which they intend to evade the solemn pledge made to the people of this country that during the currency of this Parliament they would not raise the fiscal issue. They are not raising it in the orthodox way, but are dealing with it in a much more drastic and effective manner by this Bill. Believing that to be the main purpose of the Bill, I propose to make a few observations in reference to this clause. I should like to know, for instance, how any Judge or any Court–

Mr Carpenter:

– Is there a “ stonewall ‘’ on?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I wish that the honorable member for Fremantle-

Mr Carpenter:

– What is the matter?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The honorable member spoke of a “ stone-wall.”

Mr Carpenter:

– It was a private remark.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– There is many a true thing said privately;

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– No doubt. There is also many a true thing said publicly. I am endeavouring to make a few true remarks, and I hope that the honorable member for Bourke will listen to them. I am bound to say that there are not many honorable members in the Chamber to listen, and the peculiar feature of the whole business is that those who axe supposed to concern themselves intimately with the industrial affairs of the community are conspicuous by their absence. They decline to take the slightest interest in this measure.

Mr Carpenter:

– They can see through the game the honorable member is playing.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– No doubt. They are very good hands at seeing through games, and at playing them too. That is one of the advantages of being in a solidarity combination.

Mr Culpin:

– The honorable member’s leader is also taking it very disinterestedly.

Mr.JOSEPH COOK.- That is one of the true things which are said publicly as well as privately. There is no doubt that my leader is taking a very great interest in this matter. He is endeavouring to incite public opinion against many of these absurd legislative proposals. I do not know that he could be performing a greater public service at the present time than in endeavouring to arouse the people of Australia to an appreciation of what is taking place in this Parliament.

Mr Page:

– He has started at the wrong end.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Judging by the warmth of the interjections which my remarks have provoked. I should say that he has started at the right end. The more I look into this . clause the more it seems to me that it is impossible to give effect to it. For example, one of the things proposed to be taken as indicating unfair competition is a lower remuneration for labour in any industry which comes into competition with an Australian industry. Now, “a lower remuneration for labour,” according to the definition clause, means “ longer hours, less pay, or any terms or conditions of labour or employment mere disadvantageous . to workers.” As an economic definition that is quite unexceptional, and because it is unexceptional from an economic stand-point, it seems to me that it is absolutely impossible to give effect to it. For instance is a Judge to be called upon to say what hours are worked in Canada where the harvester is produced?

Mr Isaacs:

– That provision has relation only to Australian industries.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– What is the use of the Attorney-General saying that? He has just told us that it is intended to deal with goods which have been imported.

Mr Isaacs:

– When we talk about unfair competition in that respect we are speaking of the disadvantageous results to Australian industry and Australian workers.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I am aware of that. The Attorney-General says that it is disadvantageous to Australian workers if they have to compete with goods which are produced at a lower rate of remuneration elsewhere.

Mr Isaacs:

– No, my honorable friend has misunderstood me.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The Bill says so.

Mr Isaacs:

– No.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The clause provides that competition shall be deemed to be unfair -

If the competition would probably, or does in fact, result in a lower remuneration for labour.

Mr Isaacs:

– That means in Australia.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Not at all. It means that competition is to be deemed unfair if a lower remuneration for labour obtains in the manufacture of goods which come into competition with our own, and which by that means disorganizes Australian industry. Is not that so?

Mr Isaacs:

– It is not.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I do not know what else it can mean. The Bill declares that a foreign trust or corporation, or an Inter-State corporation - either an Australian industry or a foreign industry if it is a commercial trust - shall be deemed to be unfair in their competition if that competition results in a lower remuneration for labour being paid. How is that to be determined if foreign trusts are not to have their conditions inquired into wherever they may exist?

Mr Isaacs:

– I donot think it is necessary, but if the honorable member desires it I have no objection to insert after the word “ labour,” in paragraph b, the words “in an Australian industry.” That will make the position perfectly clear.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I object to the whole clause as being absolutely unnecessary for the purpose of indicting a destructive monopoly. My object is to make the Bill what its title implies - a measure for the repression of destructive monopolies, and not for interfering with the normal competition of ordinary business. Therefore, I wish to have paragraphs a, b, and c of this clause eliminated if I can induce the Attorney-General to agree to that course. 1 desire to confine the Bill to its legitimate function, namely, the repression of trusts which prove to be an evil, and which threaten Australian industries, not purely from economic considerations, but because of the evils sometimes attendant upon large accumulations of capital, and because of the process of personal villainy which somehow seems to grow up around these aggregations of capital. Let us suppose, for instance, that patent rights exist in relation to the manufacture of harvesters. Let us further suppose that a new discovery were made which would improve the harvester, and make it a very much more efficient and economical tool than it is to-day. Would not that . be deemed to be unfair competition? Certainly it would have the effect of disorganizing Mr. McKay’s industry, and might lead to the lowering of his wages rates. At any rate, he would say that it probably would, and, under the clause, all that a man has to do is to say that, and the foreign concern may be indicted by the Attorney-General. We have already seen the facility with which individuals can move this Government. We have seenthe facility with which they can move its individual Ministers, and in saying that I do not accuse the latter of anything except that they may sometimes have a. little unconscious prejudice in favour of their own economic theories, as most of us have. Indeed, that seems to be inseparable from our ordinary human nature.

The facility with which Ministers may be moved by outside bodies is wonderful. That facility exists to a greater degree in connexion with this Parliament, and the present Government, than it has existed in relation to any Parliament or Government of which I have had experience. I am bound to say that. It may be a feature which is common to the Victorian atmosphere, but it is one to which I have been unaccustomed in New South Wales. The fact remains that under this clause, no matter how an Australian industry may be disorganized - whether it be by a new process or by patent rights - so long as that disorganization continues, the operations of the competing party are to be investigated, and possibly an injunc tion taken out against him. Who has not heard of the shutting down of works temporarily ? That is not a very uncommon experience. I have known of it, and the Attorney-General has known of it. Only a little while ago it was threatened in connexion with the . harvester industry. We were told by the press that Mr. McKay intended to discharge 150 hands, and that he alleged as his reason for doing so that he could not stand up against the competition from abroad. A man who is engaged in an industry only requires a Prime Minister into whose ears he can pour these tales of woe, and whom he can make believe that the industry is already in a state of disorganization, and the way is easy to bring about the prohibition of outside competition.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– That is a very unfair insinuation.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I make no insinuation. I simply say that if an honorable member represents an electorate in which there is an industry which threatens to discharge 150 men, he is very likely to lend a sympathetic ear to complaints of that kind.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– The honorable member did not put it that way.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The Government Whip had better get up and make a speech.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– The honorable member used the words “ Prime Minister.”

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– What is the dif ference between the two statements?

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– A vast difference.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I say the Prime Minister now.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– And I say that it is an improper insinuation to make.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– There is no improper insinuation, and none was intended. I am merely alleging that the Prime Minister would do what any other honorable member would do, save that the Prime Minister possesses a great deal more power and influence than does any private member. Only a little while ago the threat was made that 150 men would be turned out of employment at Ballarat because of the alleged disorganization of this industry by reason of the operations of foreign trusts. When we have cases before us as matters of actual experience, it is clear that if these provisions be passed we shall be within a reasonable distance of prohibitive protection sofar as these competing industries are concerned. Under this clause all that Mr. McKay will have to say is, “ I cannot go on,” and shut his works down, it may be, when the whole thing will come before a Judge. What can he do or say if he finds that these men are out of work, and the door shut on them? Will not that be conclusive proof, so far as he is able to get it, that there is disorganization? The thing will be complete and accomplished. I say that we should not do what is sought to be done by any such legislative means as this. If we wish to give Mr. McKay greater protection for his harvesters, let the proposal be brought before the House in a straightforward fashion. It has been before us, and the House declined to give him any further protection. A proposal was made I believe for a duty of£10 on each machine, and the House in the interests of the primary producers of Australia decided not to accept any such proposal. Here we have a measure to confer’ the power to give effect to such proposals on persons outside of Parliament. We are asked to surrender one of the main functions of Parliament, which is to control the right to impose taxation upon the people, and to regulate the trade and commerce of the country.

Mr Watson:

– Parliament may delegate power of that sort.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Of course, Parliament may, and the more it does delegate that kind of power the less useful it will become. The mind of the honorable member for Bland has, as we know, been moving in that direction lately. That is the socialistic trend of events, and the honor able member welcomes anything of the kind.

Mr Watson:

– I do not know that there is anything particularly socialistic or antisocialistic about it.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Make no mistake. The honorable member knows where he is going.

Mr Watson:

– I hope I do, but I cannot say that the honorable member does.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– He is following the inevitable tendency, and he is hastening it by every legitimate means in his power. I set far loo high a value on the powers and privileges of Parliament to surrender them lightly. However much Parliament may be criticised by those outside, however clumsily it moves, however imperfect its methods may be, I see nothing yet that can take its place, and give equal satisfaction to the people outside. I see that other nations are trying to abolish the personal powers of government which have led to despotism and the wrecking of their countries. When we know that this is the trend of events in the older countries of the world we ought to take care of our Parliament, and until a better machine is suggested with which to preserve the liberties of the people as a whole, I shall stand by the Parliament of the country, and guard its powers as jealously as I can. Is there a power which requires more sacred or jealous guarding than the right to impose taxation and determine the conditions under which our competitive enterprises shall be carried on? We are asked in this Bill to surrender that power, and to set it outside Parliament altogether, and that is what I object to in this measure. All this is: being done under cover of a proposal to repress trusts, and the Attorney-General has admitted time and again in our debates that there are only a few things this Billcan do, because there are, in Australia, only a few evils, even latent, in respect of which it can by any possibility become operative. I therefore say that this machinery would be better out of this Bill, and that it should be confined to a simple provision for the repression of trusts. Let us repress them as completely as honorable members please when, first of all, we find out that they are deliberately destroying our industrial occupations and putting the people of Australia out of work. But we should not do by this means what we ought to do by ordinary Tariff proposals. Paragraph b of this clause refers to competition which “ would probably, or does in fact, result in lowering remuneration for labour.” It must be a common experience to any one in whose electorate industrial enterprises are carried on to hear the statement made - “ I cannot compete unless I can get some higher Tariff duty, or unless I can get better conditions or concessions from the Government. I am being knocked out by labour Operating in other parts of the world. I am being knocked out because of some disability under which I labour, as compared with my competitors who send their goods here.” Under this Bill such things have only to be alleged, and the whole paraphernalia of the law is to be brought into operation, with a view to prevent what is complained qf. I say that the only proof which any Judge can get in support of such complaints is that of interested parties, who stand to gain bv the proceedings which they institute. One of the evils of this Bill is that a man may manufacture his own proof. As I have already shown, all that he has to do is to shut down his works, and there is the disorganization of the industry, and the men thrown out of work. All the conditions precedent to conviction required by this clause are complied with, and who is to say that this is not done in a bond fide manner. The Judge will be almost compelled to take the evidence as it is furnished to him. He can get no evidence to the contrary, and he must believe the statements made to him. This clause leaves it open to any enterprising manufacturer to look well after himself by a little sharp practice, which is frequently adopted nowadays, and particularly just before election time. I do not say that it is a common thing, but I do say that it has taken place, and may take, place again. Another case occurs to me. I know an individual who is starting an industry, and is importing certain patent boilers in connexion with it. This main is a great protectionist, and, like most high protectionists, he prefers to get his wares in the cheapest possible market, and so he has been importing these boilers from abroad. There are boilermakers in New South Wales who turn out excellent boilers. They may not be exactly the same as those which this man is importing, but I am informed that they can be made to do the work which has to be done very well. Yet, here is the fact that these boilers are being imported from abroad, and is not that dislocating the industry of the local boiler-makers? Under this Bill the local boiler-maker can go to the AttorneyGeneral and say, “ Boilers are being imported that are disorganizing my trade.” So he will get a case for inquiry and investigation, and .the Judge will be asked to decide the question whether we shall take advantage of the ingenuity and skill of men in other Darts of the world, and of which the community has guaranteed them a monopoly for a certain time by the issue of a patent _right. It is difficult to discover exactly what are the facts as to wages, and conditions of employment in the various trades. Frequent differences of opinion are expressed upon the commonest aspects of these industrial matters. In the discussion of a matter affecting the conditions of labour in Victoria, the Argus and Age, of the same date, will produce a report differing as widely from each other as chalk does from cheese. These differences occur even amongst our statisticians. Competent official statisticians differ in the widest possible manner on questions of wages and conditions of employment. We are going to ask a Judge to decide such matters under this Bill, though he may have no special industrial training. He may be disinterested and skilled in analyzing evidence, but he may have no special skill in dealing with questions affecting our industrial conditions. Again, I am speaking of a matter of which we have practical experience.

Mr Isaacs:

– Does the honorable member not think ‘ that the Arbitration Court has a good deal to do with the question of the rates of wages?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I know that it has, and I do not know that the Arbitration Court is a remarkable success. Many of the workers, and certainly a great many employers, do not believe that it is a success. In the Newcastle district, the opinion is prevalent amongst those who have had most to do with the Arbitration Court, that it is not doing at all what was expected of it. For many years before the compulsory Arbitration Court was created, there were voluntary arbitration boards in Newcastle.

The CHAIRMAN:

– Is the honorable member going to connect his remarks with the question before the Chair?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I am, as you will see in a moment, Mr. Chairman. Those arbitration boards, which were in existence for twenty or thirty years, were presided over by all kinds of men, including eminent barristers. I remember, for instance, that Sir Edmund Barton had a period of presidency. The experience of those boards - and in this I should be borne out by the honorable member for Newcastle, if he were present - was that the decisions of the laymen were always more satisfactory than those of the barristers and other professional men. That is not to the derogation of the professional men, who simply had not the actual outside business experience of which the laymen had had the advantage. Such courts as these are not law courts in the strict sense of the word ; their . duty is simply to inquire as to facts, and to act as courts of equity and good conscience. Under the Bill, a Judge. will be asked te investigate questions relating to the hours of labour, the disorganization of industries, and, in fact, all the ramifications of trade. Is there any guarantee that in all cases a Judge will be able to come to a determination with unerring accuracy ? In the conflict of opinion which operates in a House like this, representative of every section of the community, we are much more likely to get near the truth, as to actual industrial conditions than we should by any set process of law such as is laid down in the Bill. We ought not to surrender these industrial matters to any outside authority, but should keep them within the purview of Parliament; above all, we should keep in our own hands the regulation of our commerce. As. bearing on the impossibility of getting, at the actual facts of the position, I may say that Mr. Shackelton, one of the best mem in the. Labour Party of the House of Commons, recently visited America and Germany, as a member of the Commission appointed to inquire into certain industrial operations supposed to have a deleterious effect in the industry in which he was interested at home. When he returned, he reported that the British workman was better off than the workman in those countries, that his production was more efficient, and that there was nothing to fear from dumping from Germany, or from the supposed greater skill in the United States. Mr. Shackelton had satisfied himself by investigation on the spot as to the facts of the case as they affected his own industry. About a week ago we read that a similar Commission from Germany, consisting of what are known as Christian Trade Union - ists, had paid a visit to Great Britain, and that they had reported that, in their opinion, the conditions in Germany were much better than those in, Great Britain. Here were two Commissions investigating the same facts and conditions, and arriving at diametrically opposite opinions. If that is the result when investigations of the kind are handed over to an outside authority, I say that we are more likely to arrive at the actual facts regarding an industry -in a Chamber like this, where every section of the community, every kind of skill, and every point of view, is represented. The Bill would set a Judge an impossible task; at any rate, a task which he could not carry out with any satisfaction to himself, or to the community as a whole. I should not be making these statements if I did not believe that we are taking a radically wrong course. I appeal to honorable members, who have any respect for the authority, scope, and function of this Parliament, not to surrender these powers to any outside body. It would, I believe, be a departure made for the first time in any British community, to permit the ordinary competition in industrial enterprises of the country to be determined by a body altogether independent of Parliament. I do not know where we are going to land. We seem to be encircling the whole of our industrial and social life with the processes, sanctions, and penalties of law. For several hundred years we have been trying to g;et out of the meshes of the law, and attain greater individual freedom ; and now, as the result of further enlightenment, or experience, or whatever it may be, we seem to be once more creating laws which threaten to control every action and occupation in the community. The very disabilities which people in such countries as Russia are endeavouring to free themselves from, we are in danger of establishing by law in Australia. As to some of our modern conditions, such legislation may be necessary, but where that is the case let us proceed with the greatest circumspection and caution. Let us not rush into it pell-mell, as this Federal Parliament, above all other institutions in Australia, seems to be doing. Otherwise, we may wake up to find that it is too late to retrace our steps. I appeal to the AttomeyGeneral to consent to limit and circumscribe this clause, so as to cause the Bill to carry out the popular intention. No one will say the Attorney-General nay, so long, as he aims at repressing destructive monopolies ; but when he introduces a Bill to give Ministers power to regulate the competition of this country with other countries, he is undertaking a function which, from time immemorial, Parliament has always guarded as one of its most sacred privileges and rights, because of the greater degree of facility which Parliament has of disposing of such matters, with justice to the industrial community at large.

Question - That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause - put.

The Committee divided.

AYES: 24

NOES: 7

Majority 17

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Amendment negatived.

Amendment (by Mr. Isaacs) agreed to -

That the words “ in the opinion of the jury,” line 3, be left out.

Amendment (by Mr. Johnson) proposed -

That the words “ unfair in the circumstances,’’ lines 3 and 4 be left out, with the view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ proved to have for its object the injury or destruction by unjust or dishonest means of any Australian industry.”

Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta) ter in a negative way, and nothing is to be gained by testing it again affirmatively. I therefore suggest that the honorable member for Lang might withdraw his amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn,

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– I do not intend to enter into a further discussion of this clause, as I have already referred to it incidentally. It represents one of the most important provisions of the whole Bill. It touches, or may touch, a large portion of the trade of Australia - import trade, Inter-State trade, and even some trade within a State. It declares to some extent what is to be the unfair competition which is to be established, and it also imposes the very repugnant condition that competition shall be considered unfair in certain cases until it is proved to be fair. It is of no use to call for a division, but I would ask the Attorney-General whether he sees reason to adhere absolutely to a provision which is so repugnant, as that a man’s innocence must be proved before he can be held to be not guilty ? I see no occasion for it. J f the Crown has a case, I see no difficulty in proving the unfairness of the competition, because it is on that very ground that the Crown would take action. I am aware that, in some Acts, the principle of making a man prove his innocence is adopted, but that is because there is extreme necessity for it. But when the Crown acts on evidence - and I do not suppose that it would act without evidence - it should be able to put that evidence forward in Court. There seems to be no occasion in this case, as there may be in others, to deem that a man is guilt. until he himself proves his innocence. I shall be satisfied if the Attorney-General will take the matter into consideration before the Bill reaches its third reading stage, and while there is an opportunity to recommit ; because I do think that such an extreme requirement is absolutely unnecessary. I would also suggest to the Attorney-General that the word “ until “ is less satisfactory than the word “ unless.” It is a very serious thing to take power, or apparently to take power, to interfere with a man’s business. - to stop it for the time being - “ until “ he proves that his competition is not unfair. It may take a considerable time to prove that.

Mr Isaacs:

– I have no objection to substitute “ unless” for “ until.”

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– That will be a much better word if the AttorneyGeneral insists on retaining the provision. But I hope that, on fuller consideration, he will realize that it is neither necessary nor desirable.

Mr Isaacs:

– I must be candid with the honorable member, and state that I do think the provision necessary. I have considered the matter thoroughly.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– This clause is the hinge upon which the whole Bill turns.

Mr Isaacs:

– I think the honorable member is attaching too much importance to it. It is an important clause, but it is not so important as that.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– I think that it is almost the most important clause in the Bill. It takes power to deal with almost the whole trade and commerce of Australia where there is supposed to be unfair competition. Then we come to the gist of the matter - what is “ unfair competition “ ? Certain things are named, and then there is a provision that under certain circumstances competition shall be deemed to be unfair until it is proved to be fair. I am quite aware that it is useless to take a division on this point, though the Attorney-General has been urged by a number of honorable members to excise the provision. The same danger will arise under paragraphs a and b. To some extent the danger is reduced by the acceptance of the suggestion of the honorable member for Bland, that a Justice instead of a jury shall deal with a first offence. That amendment offers some safeguard, and removes some uncertainty. But still paragraphs a and b are so dangerous that if a Judge chose to consider the evidence on those points as really establishing unfairness - and some Judges might be easily satisfied on that point - we could have no competition whatever in the industries of Australia. While I am strongly opposed to this anti-British system - for it is anti-British, in that it imputes guilt until innocence is proved - if the Minister will not accept an amendment, I recognise that under present conditions it is useless to press my objection.

Mr. ISAACS (Indi- Attorney-General) the honorable member for North Sydneyhas put his case, and I think he will recognise that I have endeavoured, as far as I could, to meet any suggestion made by him or by any other honorable member, so long as it did not strike at a vital principle. I have no objection to alter “ until “ to “ unless,” and I will move an amendment in that direction later on. As to the allegation that the provision is un-British, I desire to say that it is not so in any sense. The same principle has been applied toy Judges of the English Bench of high repute to labour organizations. They have held that what one labourer may do with impunity is unfair if a number of labourers unite together to do it, because it brings a greater amount of pressure to bear upon employers. I am asking the Committee to put the same principle into operation here. If a number of individual traders are carrying on their business, and they find arrayed against them a huge commercial trust, which has the design and. intent to crush them, I say that, when those things are proved - because they will have to be proved affirmatively - the trust will have nothing to complain of if it is asked to justify its action and show that it is fair.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– It is not proof that has to be made ; it is evidence that has to be given.

Mr ISAACS:

– Evidence has to be given ; but it has to be proved absolutely that this aggregation of capital and of capitalists, has been formed with the intention of destroying or injuring individual traders engaged in occupations that ought to be preserved in the interests of Australia. On the other hand, the trust will only have to show that, in its efforts for this undesirable purpose, it is exhibiting fair play to the individual traders. I do not think that there is anything unBritish in that. I have given reasons for thinking that this clause is necessary. We are all subject to the possibility of error, and I do not pretend to any greater immunity from that than any other honorable member. I move -

That the word “until,” line 5, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ unless.”

Mr McWILLIAMS:
Franklin

– I shall not detain the Committee long, because I have realized for some days past that it is practically impossible to make amendments of any importance, seeing that the numbers are against those who wish to restrict the operations of the Bill. I wish, however, to know from . the AttorneyGeneral whether considerable difficulty may not arise in determining what is unfair competition. The products of one State may be sold in another at prices at which the local products cannot be sold, but which give a reasonable profit to the producers. Would that be unfair competition ?

Mr Isaacs:

– No. We are not now dealing with competition between one Australian firm and another, but with the destruction of Australian industries by combinations which are r.ot combinations of persons engaged in Australian industries.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment (by Mr. Isaacs) agreed to -

That the words “or agent of a commercial trust,” line 8, be left out.

Mr KELLY:
Wentworth

.- I wish to know from the Attorney-General whether he will agree to the omission from paragraph b of the words “ would probably or,” in order to make the question one of fact instead of probability?

Mr ISAACS:
Attorney-General · Indi · Protectionist

– I cannot agree to that amendment, because without those words we should have to wait until the operations of the trust had resulted in lowering the remuneration for labour, whereas we do not intend, if it can be prevented, to allow the process of destruction or injury to proceed to that stage.

Mr Crouch:

– Would not the word “ will “ lie better than the word “ would “ ?

Mr ISAACS:

– I do not ‘ think so. What is meant is, “ would if it were permitted to continue.” These words were introduced for the purpose of prevention, which is proverbial lv Letter than cure.

Mr HENRY WILLIS:
Robertson

– The Attorney-General has made very clear what we have assumed all along, that he desires to treat as criminals men who will “probably” commit offences.

Mr Webster:

– He wishes to warn them.

Mr HENRY WILLIS:

– Before a man has committed an offence he may be given twelve months’ imprisonment because he would “ probably “ commit it.

Mr Isaacs:

– To come under the clause he must have entered into a combination to do certain things. The honorable member, apparently, would not punish a man for attempting to commit murder, but would wait until he had murdered some one.

Mr HENRY WILLIS:

– Surely the Attorney-General would not hang men because they might probably commit murder ! But by this clause he proposes that men shall be imprisoned for twelve months, and fined £1,000, because they may probably compete unfairly. This is infamous legislation. Men are to be punished because they will probably destroy industries. They are to be proceeded against before they have done anything, and to be punished because they will probably commit an offence. If he says that that is British law, I defy the Attorney-General 10 prove the statement.

Mr Watson:

– The honorable member should not defy him.

Mr HENRY WILLIS:

– The honorable member for Bland may have some small knowledge of Socialism, but he has not the faintest notion of business matters. Indeed, he appears not to have a shred of intelligence in dealing with commercial affairs.

Mr Watson:

– How is it possible for any one to have knowledge when the honorable member assumes it all ?

Mr HENRY WILLIS:

– There is room for more than myself, but. we have heard very little from the honorable member. He has taken no part in amending the Bill.

Mr Watson:

– “ I have taken part’ in several amendments.

Mr HENRY WILLIS:

– The honorable member is really impotent. The press puffs him up, and tells him that he has power,; and he believes the statement. In reality, he is getting his leg pulled. These statements are published to make little of the Government. Does he not know that this is an old dodge?

Mr Storrer:

– Is the honorable member speaking to the amendment.

The CHAIRMAN:

– Honorable members are themselves to blame if the honorable member for Robertson is out of order, because their continual interjections make it difficult for me to follow the speaker.

Mr. Watson. - Is it possible for you, Mr. Chairman, to follow the honorable member for Robertson, even when no one is interjecting?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I should like to know whether the honorable member for Bland is in order in addressing, to you a question which reflects upon another honorable member?

The CHAIRMAN:

– I did not understand the honorable member for Bland to do that.

Mr HENRY WILLIS:

– I take the AttorneyGeneral’s own words “ would probably commit an offence.”

Mr Isaacs:

– Those are not my words.

Mr HENRY WILLIS:

– Those are the words of the Bill, “ would probably or does in fact result in a lower remuneration for labour.” That is an offence.

Mr Isaacs:

– No, it is not.

Mr Crouch:

– That must be first proved.

Mr HENRY WILLIS:

– No. It is provided that until the contrary is proved, competition that would probably, or does in fact, result in a lower remuneration for labour, shall be deemed to be unfair. The Attorney-General explained that the words “ would probably” should be retained, because, otherwise, an offence would be committed before action could be taken. In other words, he wishes to act before an offence is committed. He wishes to punish an innocent person by sentencing him to twelve months’ imprisonment, and fining him £1,000, because he would probably commit an offence. He says, “ We will not wait until the offence has been committed, or until the injury has been done to our industries, but we will nip the thing in the bud.” This seems very silly. It is so ludicrous that all honorable members are laughing at it. Can it be pretended that this is in accord with British law? The AttorneyGeneral is much too clever and experienced a lawyer to willingly father such a proposal. There must be something at the back of his conduct. Is he being led bv the Minister of Trade and Customs? If so, I hope that he will break awav from the shackles of his colleague and meet the reasonable requests of honorable members.

Mr KELLY:
Wentworth

.- Am I right in supposing, that under paragraph b the onus would be on the plaintiff to prove that the competition “ would probably or does in fact result in a lower remuneration for labour.”

Mr ISAACS:
INDI, VICTORIA · PROT

– U - Undoubtedly.

Mr KELLY:

– Then he would be compelled to produce his books.

Mr Isaacs:

– The Crown would act in a prosecution.

Mr KELLY:

– Assume that the view of the harvester manufacturing question taken by honorable members on this side is correct, and that the local firms, although making large profits, are threatening to throw their men out of employment, in order to bring pressure to bear on the Government. In the event of the harvester manufacturers making a complaint, and of the defendant stating that they were making large sums of money, would it be incumbent upon the Crown to examine their books and ascertain if that statement were correct ?

Mr Isaacs:

– ‘That would depend largely upon the way in which the case was conducted. I presume that the Crown would call experts to prove that the industry would have to be carried on at a lower remuneration for labour. The witnesses who testified to that effect would be crossexamined and, if necessary, called upon to produce documentary proof.

Mr KELLY:

– That would to some extent, meet the case. I suggest that the word “ general “ should be inserted before the words “lower remuneration for labour” because I presume that the provision is intended to apply to Australian industries generally, and not to the circumstances of any particular firm.

Mr Isaacs:

– It is not intended to favour individuals, but to have a general application.

Mr KELLY:

– Then, perhaps, the AttorneyGeneral would consent to make the intention clear in the way that I have indicated.

Mr Isaacs:

– I could not insert the word “ general “ in the way suggested, but I should be willing to insert at the end of the paragraph the words “in an Australian industry.”

Mr KELLY:

– That would probably meet the case.

Mr McWILLIAMS:
Franklin

– I should like to have a distinct assurance from the Attorney-General that this clause does not apply to Australian trade. I understood the Attorney-General to state that it was intended to apply only to foreign trade.

Mr Isaacs:

– I say that it does apply to Australian trade, but does not discriminate between Australian competitors.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– My point is this : There are commodities which can be produced in some States at a cost much lower than that involved in other States. For example, the boot trade of Tasmania has been very severely hit by the competition of the manufacturers of Victoria, who, owing to their larger turnover, can produce their goods at prices which the smaller manufacturers of Tasmania cannot equal.

Then take the case of butter, which is imported from New South Wales into Tasmania and sold at prices with which the local producers are not able to compete. Then, again, New South Wales can send her coal into Victoria and sell it at a price which defies all competition. We produce potatoes, fruit, and other commodities, which we are able to send to the other States, and there, owing to our climatic conditions, we are in a position to undersell the local producers. The point that I wish to raise is, “ What will be considered unfair competition “ ? A jury sitting in New South Wales to investigate a complaint in reference to the coal industry

Mr Watson:

– This provision will not be interpreted by a jury.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– It must be interpreted by some tribunal.

Mr Watson:

– It will be construed by a Justice of the High Court.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– It must be interpreted by some tribunal.

Mr Watson:

– By remitting the matter to a Justice of the High Court, we shall get rid of the influence of local prejudice.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

-I am not speaking of a case in which any local prejudice is present. What I wish to ask is, “ Would it be unfair competition to sell Newcastle coal in Melbourne at a price which would result in the closing down of the Victorian collieries?” Actually, it would be.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– That is not what theBill provides.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– Under this clause, a very serious position may arise as to what constitutes unfair competition in trade as between the States. A very great deal will hinge upon that. I am not speaking of a case in which a deliberate attempt is made to knock out an industry–

Mr Isaacs:

– The clause only relates to cases in which an attempt is made to knock out an industry.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– If Newcastle coal could be sold profitably in Melbourne for 17s. 6d. per ton, it might be distinctly disastrous to the colliery proprietors in Victoria, despite the fact that the Newcastle miners were receiving a fair wage. Would not such a condition of affairs be calculated to reduce the wages paid in the Victorian collieries? Undoubted it would. Whilst I desire to prevent anything in the nature of a destructive monopoly flourishing in our midst, I hold that we must be exceedingly careful lest we create a machine which will have a disastrous effect upon the trade between the different States.

Amendment (by Mr. Isaacs) agreed to -

That after the wont “ labour “ in paragraph b the words “ in the Australian industry “ be inserted.

Mr KELLY:
Wentworth

.- I would suggest to the Attorney-General that after the word “throwing” in paragraph c, the words “ in considerable numbers,” be inserted.

Mr Isaacs:

– [ think that the term “ throwing workers out of employment “ has a general meaning,

Mr KELLY:

– If the Attorney-General says so, I am quite prepared to accept his assurance.

Amendment (by Mr. Dugald Thomson) agreed to -

That the following new sub-clause Be inserted : - “ 2. In determining whether the competition is unfair regard shall be had to the efficiency of the management, the processes, the plant, and the machinery employed, or adopted in the Australian industry affected by the competition.”

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Progress reported;

House adjourned at11.29 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 July 1906, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1906/19060705_reps_2_31/>.