2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and readprayers.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence a question with reference to a statement which appears in to-day’s newspapers to the effect that the Minister of Defence intends to obtain an expression of opinion with regard to the Canteen Bill from the officers and men affected, and, further, . that he has already obtained the opinion of the officers and men in Victoriaand New South Wales. I should like to know whether the Minister will permit a referendum to be taken by secret ballot?
– Speaking from memory, I believe the opinion expressed by the officers and men in New South Wales was given voluntarily, and without Ministerial action. However, I shall bring the matter under the notice of the Minister, and shall probably be able to give the honorable and learned member full information tomorrow.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister : -
– As I have not had an opportunity to see the questions, I should be glad if the honorable member would give notice for to-morrow.
– I desire to make a personal explanation with regard to a statement which appeared in this morning’s Age in connexion with the Tariff Commission, and which is, for the most part, a series of misrepresentations. The freetrade members of the Commission have asked for no concessions from the protectionist members, and, so far as I am aware, have received none. Instead of the freetrade members having been engaged, as is stated, in ‘giving the finishing touches to their adverse conclusions, which have been in preparation for some days past, they have been co-operating loyally with their colleagues in the preparation of the reports, and expect to continue to work in cooperation with them until their labours are finished.
– I desire to sa that the statement of the honorable member is quite correct. So far as I am concerned, as chairman of “the Commission, I made no communication to the press that would justify any of the inferences to which the honorable member has referred.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence if any decision ha.s vet been arrived at with regard to the claim of Ex-Driver Fay, and other kindred cases?
– The Minister of Defence fell that any action taken should be in connexion with some general scheme, instead of in respect to an individual case. The matter has been taken into consideration, and the Minister is now endeavouring to arrive at a solution of the whole difficul tv.
– I find that the Treasurer has not included among the Budget papers a table showing the liability of each of the States with regard to the payment of the sugar bonus. I should like to know whether he will supplement the information he has given us bv including such a table?
– I think that there is among the Budget papers a statement showing the amount’ that each State will have to contribute, but, if not, I shall be very glad to supply the honorable member with the desired information to-morrow.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Home Affairs whether it is a fact that competitive railway rates, against which special provision is made in the Constitution, are still in existence in some of the States. For instance, the charge made for carrying wool from the Darling River districts, from Echuca to Melbourne, is 25s. per ton, whereas the charge made in respect of Victorian wool carried over the same line is 42s. per ton. Then again, the charge made for the carriage from Broken Hill to Port Adelaide of wool that might otherwise go to river ports, is 46s. pd. per ton, whereas ^4. 13s. 4d. per ton is charged for the carriage of wool from Oodnadatta to Port Augusta approximately the same distance. I should like to know, further, whether anything is toeing done to do away with these discriminations ?
– We have been assured by the railway authorities of the States that there are no rates in existence which conflict with the principles of the Constitution. The matter was incidental lv referred to at the Premiers’ Conference recently held in Sydney, and no complaints were made. One allegation was made with reference to certain rates charged in Queensland, and we wrote to the Queensland Government with reference to it. No reply was received, and a further communication has been sent to the State authorities. The honorable and learned member has now directed attention to further specific cases, which I shall have inquired into at once.
– I should like to know from the Minister of Home Affairs whether he is making arrangements for the printing of the South Australian electoral rolls in Adelaide?
– I think that a decision was arrived at whilst I was away during the last fortnight.
– Nothing has yet been done?
– If the honorable member will give notice of his question, I shall obtain an answer for him to-morrow.
– A statement is made in one of the newspapers this morning that there has been no collection of names by the police in Victoria for the purposes of compiling electoral rolls since 1901. I should like to know why Victoria should receive treatment different from that meted out to other States, where the police are now collecting names im connexion with the compilation of the Federal rolls. Does the Minister of Home Affairs think that Victoria is entitled to a special collection of names by the police, or does he intend to leave the work to certain moneyed leagues, which seem to be able to employ canvassers to make a house to house collection ?
Mr. GROOM. I have not seen any paragraph such as that referred to by the honorable and learned member. The statement is certainly incorrect. My predecessor, with a view to having the rolls in readiness for the general election, had a collection) of names made by the police in Victoria, and, speaking from memory, the work was completed about the end of March, 1905. In view of the fact that the rolls had been so recently collected, no fresh collection was ordered ; but instructions were given to the officers of the Department to take advantage of the State’s rolls, or any other sources of information, with a view to bringing the Federal rolls up to date. In only one State - viz.. in New South Wales - is there an annual collection of the names- of electors, and we take advantage of that in order to supplement our rolls. Otherwise all trie States are treated upon a uniform basis.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Home Affairs- -
– Instructions were given to the police several months ago, in anticipation of the redistribution of seats in New South Wales, and, in fact, in all the
States concerned, to carefully allocate theelectors to their proper polling places. In addition to that, the Department are having prepared! maps of each electorate, which will indicate exactly, the position of the various polling places. These mapswill be exhibited to afford electors every opportunity before the general election tohave their names placed upon the rc.Usfor the polling places at which they desire to record their votes.
– I desire to ask theMinister of Home Affairs what steps havebeen taken to overcome the difficulty of obtaining witnesses to the signatures of applicants for enrolment. At present, thepolice are unable to witness such signatures, and I wish to know whether any adult resident entitled to be enrolled iscapable of acting as a witness?
– In reply to the honorable member, I mav say that a claim for enrolment has not to be attested at all. It is only an application for a transfer which requires to be attested, and any elector in any part of the Commonwealth can attest that, irrespective of whether heis a member of the household or not.
– That fact does not seem to be clearly understood by the police.
– As there seems to besome doubt about the matter, I will see that a special’ instruction is issued, so as to prevent the possibility of any mistake occurring.
– Do I understand the Minister to say that the person who attests the application need not be an elector?
– No. He must be anelector.
– Suppose that he is anadult member of a household in which thereare no electors?
– I have never heard of a case of that description.
– I wish to direct the attention of the Postmaster-General te the fact that letters posted in the pillarboxes in Melbourne after 5.30 p.m. arenot cleared iri time for despatch, by the newspaper train, and are consequently not delivered in Bendigo before the midday delivery, and to ask if the Minister can see his way clear to arrange for the pillar clearances to fit in with the early morning: mail, in accordance with the rule established by his predecessor, which was found to work very conveniently, not only for the residents of Bendigo, but for other country towns ?
– I shall be very glad to give attention to the matter mentioned by the honorable and learned member, and meet the wish expressed as far as possible.
– I wish, to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether the Government intend to take over the control of navigation, as well as of the light-houses? My reason for asking the question is that on Tuesday last thePremier of South Australia stated that the Government did not desire the Commonwealth to take over one part of the service, and not the whole. They thought the light-houses and navigation ought to go together. If they did not machinery and expense would, he said, simply be duplicated.
– It is the intention of the Government to take over the control of navigation by-and-by. At present they propose to deal only with lighthouses. The question of talking over navigation is one entirely apart from that relating to the light-houses, and the report of the Navigation Commission, and a number of important considerations, will have to be carefully weighed before action is taken.
– To what extent are the light-houses to be taken over? For instance, will the Commonwealth take over the light-houses inside Port Phillip Bay, or only those outside?
– Speaking from memory, I think we shall take over only those that are outside Port Phillip.
– In view of the fact that no provision has been made upon this year’s Estimates for paying the salary of the Deputy Adjutant-General of our Military Forces whilst a new office - that of Assistant Adjutant-General - has been created, I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence whether the office of Deputy Adjutant-General is to be merged in that of the Inspector-General, or whether it is to lapse?
– With the permission of the honorable member, I should like to be afforded an opportunity to get a statement from the Minister himself upon the question. Probably I shall be able to do that to-morrow.
– I wish , to ask the PostmasterGeneral whether the inquiry which he has made into the question which I put to him a week ago regarding the employment of boys as letter carriers has resulted in the decision] of the Department to cease their employment, and whether he is aware that in North Sydney - the district to which I particularly directed his attention - the employment of lads has, and is, resulting in delay in the delivery and despatch of letters?
– In reply to the honorable and learned member, I shall be very glad to obtain a full answer to his question to-morrow. I may inform him that boys are not employed by the Department, except in cases of emergency. I believe that the conditions which resulted in their employment in the district to which the honorable and learned member specially refers has now been remedied. I will look into the matter and see if there are any special circumstances connected with it.
LETTER RATE IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. Mr. AUSTIN CHAPMAN. - Upon
Tuesday last the honorable member for Coolgardie asked the following questions : -
The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
– Upon the 18th July the honorable and learned member for Parkes asked the following questions: -
The replies which have been furnished are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– In answer to the honorable member’s questions, I have to say that inquiries are being made, and answers will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the T PostmasterGeneral. upon notice -
With reference to the hours of service required1 from certain postmasters in Sydney and suburbs -
– In reply to the honorable member’s questions, I wish to say that inquiries are being made, and answers will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What is the object of the provision of ^650 in the Estimates under the Division “ Offices of the Commonwealth in London,” for the collection of Australian historical records, seeing that such records are at the present time being collected for the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library ? ,
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
For some years New South Wales carried on the work ofsearching for and transcribing the original official records concerning the early history of Australia, which are to be found in manuscript in the Public Record Offices in London and elsewhere, with a view to making them available in Australia for local historians, students, and others. That work is now suspended.
The subject is dealt with by Mr. F. M. Bladen, of the New South Wales Public Library, in a report prepared for this Government, and printed in Parliamentary Papers 1903, volume 2, page993.
It is now proposed that the Commonwealth should continue the work from the point at which it was left by New South Wales. An officer to be intrusted with the duties has not yet been selected, but it is intended to appoint some one with the necessary special knowledge and qualifications for the work.
It will be seen that the collection is not similar to that being undertaken by the Parliamentary Library, but it will form a valuable supplement thereto.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Memorandum by the Minister of Defence on the Defence Estimates 1906-7.
Statement of the amounts to the credit of clothing and contingent accounts of each corps of the Military Forces on 30th June, 1905, and the allowance for 1905-6.
Military Forces, addition to paragraph 224 (medical officers) of the financial and allowance regulations, Statutory Rules1906. No.53
Provisional regulations under the Commerce Act, Statutory Rules 1906, No. 52.
.- I move -
That, in the opinion of this House, in the interest of the health of the community of Australia, it is desirable that all patent or proprietary medicines, all infantile and artificial foods, all medical and surgical appliances which purport to cure or alleviate any disease to which the human frame is subject, should be critically examined on entry into the Commonwealth -
I do not think it is necessary for me to speak at any considerable length upon the present occasion, because I believe that public opinion is unanimous that some action should be taken upon the lines indicated in this motion. Although the vested interests of the proprietors of patent medicines are considerable, I think that the people have come to the conclusion that a great deal of fraud is perpetrated in connexion with the sale of such medicaments, and that much misery is produced by their consumption. I believe that honorable members are extremely anxious that everything possible shall be done to maintain the health of the community. I recognise that we cannot cover the whole of the ground in this connexion, because the Commonwealth cannot prevent the sale of any article which is manufactured locally. In other words, we can deal only with imports. I understand that during the past few months the Victorian Parliament has placed upon the Statute-book a law calling upon all persons engaged in the vending of patent medicinal lotions to advertise their contents.
– The second paragraph of the honorable member’s motion is complied with to the full nowadays.
– Is it complied with, so far as imports are concerned?
– Yes. Upon a box of “ bile beans “ or Beecham’s pills the virtues of those articles are clearly set out.
– But their contents are not declared, and that is what we wish to ascertain. If we pass a resolution affirming that everything imported in the way of patent medicines, drugs, &c, shall have its composition publicly notified, we shall bring about such a state of things that within a very short time every one of the States Governments will practically follow in the footsteps of Victoria. Outside of this State, I understand that there are other countries which have enacted similar legislation. For instance, in Germany and Japan persons wishing to vend patent medicines must openly declare their contents. If these medicaments were harmless their sale would not be of such importance. But from the evidence that we have read from time to time, we are forced to the conclusion that the consumption of many of them is very injurious to the general public.
– The honorable member does not suggest that they are all harmful ?
– I do not go so far as that. I say that some are exceedingly harmful. In this connexion I propose to read a few extracts from letters which have been forwarded to the Government by Mr. Beale. I think that we are indebted to that gentleman - who, I understand, is a citizen of Sydney - and who, during his recent trip to England, exhibited a great deal of interest in this matter, and collated some very valuable information. In answer to a communication which he sent to a very prominent physician at Home, he received the following letter : -
In reply to your questions re the effect of poisonous drugs sold under secret formula, I beg to give the following emphatic and decisive answers : -
I have not the slightest objection to these opinions being made as public as necessary. (Signed) Fred. J. Smith, M.D., F.R.C.P.,
Physician to the London Hospital, Editor of Taylor’s Medical Jurisprudence, Pathologist for fifteen years to the London Hospital.
In a letter which he sent to the Right Hon. Herbert J. Gladstone, Mr. Beale wrote -
To add to this, recently I received a report from a friend in Washington, showing that thousands of children died every year through these medicines, and the tragedy of it is all the more intensified because the stuff is administered by mothers who’ do rot know the effects of the mixtures they are giving their children. I am of the opinion that laws should be made that it would be required to show what patent medicines contained. It should be set down that all drugs containing alcohol and narcotics, and other patent drugs, should have the percentages of these drugs printed on the labels of bottles. If not, the shadow of the undertaker will mingle with that of the medical profession.
I propose to read one or two other extracts from some of Mr. Beale’s communications to the Prime Minister. For instance, in one of these he says -
It is an inflexible rule of the British Medical Association that no remedy shall be secret. Plainly that is to the public interest. More than that, it is an urgent demand on humanity. No such maxim could be upheld, still less enforced by a public body, through generations, unless it were an actuating principle in the common life of its members.
He goes on to state that -
Last evening I received information in a private note from the Governor-General of Canada relating to other matters, that the Dominion Parliament has appointed a Committee from both sides of the House to prepare legislation to remedy the evil of uncontrolled sale of secret drugs. He himself has addressed a medical society in strong denunciation of the homicidal traffic.
The following resolutions were passed at the semi-annual meeting of the Board of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of the Province of Quebec in July, 1904: -
That the attention of the Federal Government be called upon the mis-uses, serious accidents, and numerous losses of life resulting from the present trade of patent medicines and pharmaceutical preparations, and that the Government be requested to have Parliament pass the required legislation, so as to exercise an effective control on the sale of these medicines and preparations.
That, in the opinion of the College of Physicians, the sale of any such preparations should not be allowed unless each package or each bottle bears the name of the remedy, the quantity of each dose, as well as the name of the manufacturer, the seller, and the price.
It would be an easy matter to read further quotations from reports of commissions, which have dealt with this question, and also from the writings of medical men; but I do not think it is necessary to do so. It would certainly be highly advantageous to the public if these articles were plainly marked, so as to indicate of what’ they were composed. In the case of a sound preparation no difficulty would be placed in the way of the carrying out of this proposal, whilst no one should be permitted to publish “ puff “ advertisements calculated to foist on the public that which is valueless. When I was in Sydney - I think it was in January last - I received a letter from a man in the Cobar district, with whom I was not acquainted, inquiring as to the efficacy off a certain patent medicine. It seems that my name had been associated with an advertisement relating to Pink Pills. Some one in Broken Hill had stated that he was a life-long friend of mine, and that he had signed before me a statement that he had been cured by taking Fink Pills.. An advertisement to that effect appeared in the Evening News, and this resident of the Cobar district, who was, unfortunately, suffering from consumption, wrote to me inquiring whether the statement was true, saying that if it were he would test the efficacy of the pills. I at once replied that I had never met a man who had been cured of consumption by taking Pink Pills. It is simply scandalous that vendors of pills should be permitted to advertise that persons have been cured of consumption by using them.
– Quite so. It is tantamount to the selling of goods under false pretences. I trust that the day will come when punishment will be meted out to those who send such advertisements to the newspapers for publication, and also to those who actually publish them, for they must know that they cannot be true. If a man sells milk containing a certain percentage of water, he is liable to a penalty. It is only reasonable that he should be punished, for the lives of children given adulterated milk are undoubtedly endangered. But we need to do something more. If we allow infantile and artificial foods to be imported and used when they really contain no nourishment, the result must be very serious. These foods are given to children in good faith by their mothers and nurses, with the result that, in some cases, the little ones are practically starved. I have no definite figures as to infantile mortality in Australia, but a few days ago I read a very interesting speech delivered by the Right Honorable John Bums, before a National Conference which met in England to deal with the question of infantile mortality, and in that speech some remarkable figures were given. Mr. Burns stated that no less than 100,000 children die in England every year from neglect, carelessness, or thoughtlessness. He pointed out t’hat the details of children less than twelve months old were more numerous than those occurring between the ages of one year and eighteen years, and that from 30 per cent, to 40 per cent, died in the first five years, so that, in the words of Mr. Burns, the weakest, smallest, and dearest carried the burden of death. I have no figures-
– The time has passed when it is necessary to quote figures bearing on this subject.
– That is so. Although the infantile mortality in Australia is, perhaps, not so great as in England, I have no doubt that it is still very serious. I am not one of those who would lav at the door of patent medicines’ and infantile foods the deaths of all our children. There are other contributing causes ; but, at the same time, I think I am correct in stating that these foods play a very serious part in the massacre of the little ones. We hear in Australia a great deal about the need for encouraging emigrants from the old country to settle on our lands. That may be very desirable, but we can do a great deal in the direction) of increasing our population bv taking steps to save the lives of our children, many of whom die soon after birth. It may not be possible to give full effect to some of my proposals ; there may be a difficulty in ascertaining the exact value of some infantile and artificial foods, or the value of certain patent medicines as remedial agents. If that be so, it would be idle to press those matters. Doubtless, however, the medical men who are members of the House will be able to throw some light on that phase of the question. In any event, it is possible for us to see that all imported articles of the kind described in the motion shall have clearly set out on their labels what are their component parts. In addition to infantile and artificial foods, and patent medicines, there are other articles, alleged to alleviate suffering, with which we ought to deal. I regret that the Government should have given way some time aso in regard to the delivery of letters addressed to Messrs. Freeman and Wallace. It is a pity that they should have permitted letters of that firm to be transmitted through the post. I think that Messrs. Freeman and Wallace are even a greater fraud than “ Tattersall.” Some persons - perhaps one in 20,000 or 30,000 - obtain something for their money when they invest in a ticket for one of Tattersall ‘s consultations, but no one has derived the slightest benefit from the things advertised by Messrs. Freeman and Wallace. It would be well if the law required that such goods shall bear a label showing exactly what are their component parts. I believe that the public desire that infantile foods and everything in the way of patent medicines shall bear labels describing their ingredients, so that they may know what they are buying. It will be remembered that some time ago some condensed milk was imported into Victoria, and that, when seized by the authorities and analyzed, it was found that children fedon it ‘ would practically be starved. We cannot make our provisions in regard to the sale of foods too drastic A nation’s greatest asset is. not its silver and gold, nor its land and houses, but the healthy and’ strong men, women, and children who form its people. 1 believe that, if the examination suggested in the motion is strictly carried out by the Government, it will tend to make our population healthier and stronger than it is.
– I think that the Government already have power, under the Commerce Act and its regulations, to do all that the honorable member for Barrier wishes us to do, and if there is any weak point, the deficiency can be made good by the exercise of the powers conferred by section 52 of the Customs Act.
– I take it that the object of the motion is to insure that care will be taken to enforce the provisions of those Acts.
– I understand that that is the object of the mover, and it can do no harm for the House to pass the motion. Indeed, the carrying of it will probably do good, by emphasizing the necessity for strictly enforcing the provisions of the Commerce Act, and of the regulations made under it, in the particular cases to which reference has been made. The matter was brought under my notice before the introductionof the Commerce Bill, by Dr. Mackellar and Mr. Beale, who, in Sydney, as members of a Royal Commission, obtained very importantevidence in regard to it. I have not seen the whole of that evidence - some of it, I brieve, has not been published and distributed - but I have read parts of the report which showthe necessity for strictly promoting the importations of certain articles, because they are a menace to infantile life. Under the Commerce Act a trade description must certify, amongst other things, as to quality and purity. Great objection was taken to the use of the word “ purity “ ; but, in using it, I had in mind the need for prohibiting the importation of medicines and infant foods which were not pure and of good quality. Section 7 of the Act provides for the making of regulations to prohibit the importation or introduction into Australia of any specified goods unless there is applied to them a trade description of such character, relating to such matters, and applied in such manner, as may be prescribed. All goods imported in contravention of any such regulation may be detained by the Collector, and by direction of the Minister, seized as forfeited to the King. Under section 8 all imported goods to which a trade description is required to be applied found in Australia, in the package or cover in which they were imported, without the prescribed trade description, will, until the contrary is proved, be deemed to have been imported in contravention of the Act, or of the regulations under it. That is as far as the Constitution allows this Parliament to go. It therefore remains for the States to see that goods are not sold therein under false trade descriptions, or if they are injurious to the public health. I believe that in Victoria and New South Wales Acts are now in force preventing the sale of goods harmful to the public health. Section9 of the Commerce Act prohibits the importation by any person, under a penalty of £100, of goods to which a false trade description is applied When the measure was being consideredin Committee, it was held that trade secrets connected withimports should not be divulged, and therefore section 16 now reads -
The regulations under sections 7 and 11 of this
Act shall not prescribe a trade description which discloses trade secrets of manufacture orpre- paration, unless, in the opinion of the GovernorGeneral, the disclosure ‘is necessary for the protection of the health or welfare of the public.
– Does not the Minister know that all reputable firms disclose the nature of the contents of the proprietary medicines which they sell ? It is the quack firms which do not do so.
– I am merely directing attention to the powers which the Government possesses under the Commerce Act.
– If thev are not sufficient, (he Government should ask to have them increased.
– They are ample.
– I think that they are ample. In Part II. of the provisional regulations under the Commerce Act, regulation 6, clause 2, paragraphs a and b, it is declared that -
In the case of medicines prepared ready for use, and containing 10 per cent, or more of ethyl alcohol, if the average dose recommended exceeds one teaspoonful (60 minims), the trade description shall set out the proportion or quantity of alcohol in the medicine.
In the case of medicines prepared ready for use, and containing any of the following drugs (or the salts or derivatives thereof), viz. : - opium, morphine, cocaine, heroin, stramonium, mix vomica, cannabis indica, bromides, sulphonal, trional, veronal, paraldehyde, or any synthetic hypnotic substance, phenazonum phenacetinum, or acetanilidum, or any allied synthetic substance, chloral hydrate, belladonna, cotton root, ergot, or any abortifacient, the trade description shall set out the names of all such drugs so contained.
If such medicines are imported, and their trade description does not) comply with those provisions, their importation may be prohibited, and they may be forfeited, while, if they have been imported, the laws of the States can, in the interests of the public health, regulate their sale.
– We’ wish the Government to exercise these powers.
– They will be used, and. if thev are found to be deficient, we can fall back on section 52 of the Customs Act.
– What is needed is, not so much the prohibition, of undesirable imports, as the ascertaining of what the imports actually are.
– It is necessary that we should have power to prohibit the importation of undesirable goods. It would 6e of no use to be able to ascertain their nature, if we could not prohibit the importation of any likely to be harmful. Under section 52 of the Customs Act, power is given to prohibit the importation of a number of classes of goods set out in paragraphs numbered a to /, and, under paragraph ,e, of “ all goods the importation of which may be prohibited by proclamation.” I feel that it would not be proper to use that power except when the public health was menaced. The honorable member for Barrier has done right in the public interest in directing attention to this matter, and the passing of the motion will strengthen me in. giving effect to the wishes of Parliament in this respect.
Motion (by Mr. McColl) negatived -
That the debate be now adjourned.
– I listened with, interest to the speech of the Minister of Trade and Customs, and, although I agree with him that the powers given under the Customs and Commerce Acts are very stringent, I have not seen evidence of a desire, on either his part or that of the officers under his control, to put them into operation, with a view to effecting the objects which the mover of the motion has in, view.
– The regulations under the Commerce Act have not yet taken effect.
– I do not think that the Minister is prepared to use the powers which have been conferred upon him unless he is backed up by a resolution of the House, similar to the motion under discussion.
– When the measure was before us he said he would do so.
– I hope that by means of this resolution we shall be able to induce him to take the necessary action. This is another socialistic proposal of the honorable, member for Barrier.
– Not at all. It merely provides for State control.
– It is distinctly and entirely socialistic, but. notwithstanding that, it has mv strong sympathy.
– And mine also.
– I do not think that there will be the slightest difference of opinion in this matter among the members of the profession to which I have the honour to belong. Any one who has been in practice for any length of time in this country must have been, horrified by the effects produced bv dosing people, and especially young children, with so-called patent medicines. Under the laws of most other countries, it is necessary to disclose the ingredients of any concoctions for which protection is sought, but under the so-called patent medicine regulations it is not necessary to divulge the contents. In England the makers of patent medicines are protected upon the payment of a certain fee in respect of every parcel offered for sale. The fee is generally paid by affixing a British revenue duty stamp. Honorable members and the public generally can have no idea of the extent to which the trade in patent medicines is carried on. The honorable member for Barrier Kas wisely brought within the scope of his motion, not only patent or proprietary medi.cines, but artificial foods used for invalids and infants, and medical and surgical appliances. It is in connexion with the last two of these that the greatest amount of fraud takes place. We have a number of so-called remedies in the form of patent and proprietary medicines which are unmistakable frauds. Even their names are deceptive. In some cases they are intended to indicate that they contain an ingredient which is entirely absent from their composition. I do not intend to act as an advertising medium for these frauds upon the public, but I shall describe some of them sufficiently to indicate their general character. The most largely-advertised preparations are the most fraudulent. They are rarely, if ever, innocuous. Some of them contain deadly poisons, and in other cases alcohol is distributed to an extent of which the revenue officers can have no conception. A case recently occurred in Queensland.
– The same preparation is being sold here, but we happened to catch the guilty parties.
– Every credit is due to the officials who took action. A well-known firm of general providers, who have establishments in Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland, were brought before the Court for selling liquor without a licence. They were supplying a so-called remedy, which upon” examination was proved to contain over 42 per cent, of proof spirit, and less than 5 per cent, of any other traceable constituent. The bottle bore directions to parents to administer the so-called medicine to infants in doses of a teaspoonful three times per day before meals. I would ask any father of a family whether he could without dismay contemplate the idea of giving a child of tender age ai teaspoonful of proof spirit three times per day. The constituents of these patent medicines are not sufficiently well known. They frequently contain drugs for which a taste is rapidly acquired, and much injury is done by inducing a craving for a very injurious nar cotic. We have done something recently with a view to remove temptation from persons engaged in one branch of the Commonwealth service, but we are not taking, any action to prevent injury to our young children by so-called medical preparations,, inducing in them a taste for alcohol or drugs which it may be difficult to shake off. A number of preparations on the market which are widely advertised, are supposed, to contain certain ingredients and to possess certain magical properties. The coldblooded analyst has, however, brushed’ aside many of the pretensions put forward by the vendors of these concoctions. One solution which is widely used, and is freely advertised, has been shown to contain 99 per cent, of distilled water. This preparation is sold at a very high price, and’ contains no ingredient of any value. In the United States of America, where the drug habit has undoubtedly become established far more firmly than in Australia,, and where fraudulent preparations ‘have an even wider, although, perhaps, a’ not more lucrative, market than, here, certain investigations have been made by officiate of the Post Office Department and the Bureau of Chemistry. In regard to one preparation, “Aquamiel,” the following1* particulars are given: -
This remedy was exploited by the Mexican Remedy Company, claiming it to be “ TheMiracle of Nature.” “ A magical bust developer and the most marvellous flesh-producing, bloodenriching, tissue-forming preparation the world” ever knew.” “ Permanent development guaranteed.” “ Aquamiel is a product of the famousMaguey plant of Mexico . . .” An analysisshowed that it consisted of -
The solution was coloured with caramel and sweetened with saccharin. An investigationshowed that the product was not manufactured from the purported Mexican plant, but was a concoction of some laboratory. It cannot fulfil the remotest claim as a bust developer. “ Aquamiel” is absolutely worthless, and the representations made concerning it are false and fraudulent.
Then, in regard to “complexion, tablets.” the following is stated: -
A remedy under the above caption was analysed, and found to contain a deadly poison known as “ nux vomica.” The unfortunate incident connected with this case is that the remedy was not marked as to the poisonous nature of itscomposition, and a mother into whose possessionthe remedy came, carelessly placed it within? reach of her two and a half year old child, with-: the result that the child consumed a number of the tablets, and died as a result of strychnine poisoning.
We have in the Commonwealth a very much advertised preparation, which contains podophyllin, senna, and ginger. Podophyllin is one of the active poisons, and only within the last two or three days a case was reported in which a man lost his life through taking an overdose of the drug. The preparation to which I refer is “ Califfornian syrup of figs.” It contains no preparation from figs, but merely the ingredients I have mentioned. Then there is the so-called consumption cure, which is described as follows: -
The chief active agent in this compound is claimed to be “cannabis sativa,” but an examination showed that the active agent in reality is opium. The only possible virtue that resides in opium as a cure for consumption is that it frequently affords the unfortunate patient some relief, but as far as a cure is concerned this agent is absolutely worthless. It is not only worthless so far as a cure for consumption is concerned, but it tends to make an opium fiend of the person who uses this “ consumption cure.”
I can imagine no more lamentable spectacle than that presented by a person in the last stages of consumption flying to remedy after remedy in the hope of being cured. One of the most distressing features of the disease is the optimism which induces patients to fly to so-called remedies, and these are frequently of a particularly dangerous character. It is high time that the Government stepped in and protected them. Here we have an instance in which use is made of a drug which we have expressly excluded from the Commonwealth. Another so-called remedy, called liquid electricity, is described by the experts who have examined it as follows : -
The company dealing in this remedy used a number of essential oils in its preparation, together with capsicum and a small amount of alcohol. The chief ingredient in this mixture was capsicum. On this undoubtedly was dependent the value of the remedy, which was probably the basis for calling it “liquid electricity.” Red pepper in itself is a very good medicinal agent, but it is wide from the truth to claim that with such a simple mixture as this it is possible to cure consumption and similar affections.
I have had myself an experience in this connexion. A so-called electrical apparatus was submitted to me. It consisted of a small cone which was, apparently, made of aluminium,. This cone, it was asserted, merely required to be clipped into a liquid and then inserted in the ear to cure deafness. I had the liquid examined, and found that it was composed principally of red pepper. Honorable members can readily understand that the cone thus prepared, when inserted in a sensitive organ like the ear, would produce a certain warmth. That warmth was supposed to be engendered by the application of electricity. I believe that the cost of the article is about 30s., whereas its commercial value is 3d., and its remedial value absolutely nil. Then there are such articles as methylene blue, radiumite, star pennyroyal pills, and magic foot drafts. The last named consist of pieces of oilcloth covered on the unfinished side with a border of adhesive mixture, whilst the central portion is covered with a plaster composed of poke root, 30 per cent. ; pine tar, 62 per cent. ; and cornmeal, 8 per cent. These drafts are said to be “a great cure for rheumatism,” and it is alleged that “ 100,000 people from every State and Kingdom on earth have been cured of rheumatism of every kind, and from whatever cause, by magic foot drafts.” Any one with any knowledge at all will understand that there is absolutely nothing in these pads to warrant such claims and representations. There is no curative element whatever contained in the pads which, when absorbed into the blood will neutralise the poisons which cause the rheumatism, and so effect a cure. Then there is another alleged remedy for rheumatism known as vibro discs and tablets. This remedy is claimed to be the only sure cure for rheumatism. It is alleged that it differs materially from all other remedies inasmuch as it is made up of rare and costly agents, one of which is stated to cost $40 per ounce. An examination showed that the remedy consisted of nothing but ordinary drugs, none of which is recognised as having, any material curative effect for rheumatism. The method of applying the medicine was by fastening to the sole qf each foot a pad which contained in one case a disc of copper, and in the other a disc of zinc, and it was the claim of the promoter of this ‘remedy that the two discs so placed would generate a current of electricity which would course through the blood of the system and in this way carry with it, to the soles of the feet, the poisonous elements secreted in the body which produced the rheumatism. Upon testing this alleged claim, it was found that no current of electricity was generated, and that the scheme and alleged remedy were nothing but a device to defraud. There are a number of other so-called remedies, but I do not propose to weary honorable members by reference to them. There is one which has a very large vogue in the Commonwealth, and which is manufactured in Australia. This, of course, will not come within the scope of the motion under consideration. But I trust that the time is not far distant when the States will take up this matter and insist that articles in the way of medicines which are manufactured in the Commonwealth shall also bear a proper description of their contents upon the label. For the remedy to which I refer, marvellous results are claimed. It consists of broom and the spirit of juniper. The broom of course is a very good bitter, and we all know what the spirit of the juniper tree is. A good teetotaller taking a dose of this medicine is really drinking gin and bitters. Of course there are some patent preparations which are undoubtedly valuable. I do not wish honorable members to imagine for a moment that I condemn all patent medicines. But, inasmuch as I refrained from advertising those which are valueless, I shall also abstain from advertis-ing, those which’ are valuable.
– Is it not a fact that the best patent medicines contain upon the label a description of their composition ?
– Yes. The best artificial foods also supply chemical analyses, many of them being conducted in Government laboratories. I feel sure that legitimate traders will not resent an attempt on the part of this Parliament to have the formula of their various preparations made public. In Chicago a leading drug journal recently stated -
People who are being dosed with recognised poisons have a right to a knowledge of the kind and quantity, which should be made to appear on the label. All other preparations should, as a condition precedent to their sale, be submitted to the State Board of Pharmacy for registration, as required under the law of France.
It has been said that the American States are the only places where we can point to legislation of this character. But I would point out that there is a very effective law operating in France, and we’ also know that similar legislation was enacted in New Zealand some time ago. The journal in question continues -
We do not believe in the rule of secret monopoly preparations, because neither a secret nor a monopoly in medicines is conducive to medical progress or independence, and, hence, to the welfare of the people.
I have here certain suggestions which have been made in America, an’d which I think would be valuable to the Minister and his officers in framing the necessary regulations under those portions of the Commerce Act which deal with this particular matter. With regard to artificial foods, I think that the greater portion of them are imported, and might be dealt with by the central authorities. Repeated analyses have proved that in a very large number of cases those foods really produce starvation. Instead of partaking of the nature of foods, they constitute a drain upon the system. The attempt at assimilation causes an amount of waste which is worse than actual starvation. That is> to say, the infant which is fed upon them loses its life, more rapidly than it would if it were not fed at all. In a country like Australia, to which we are striving to attract population, it is of vital importance that the children who are born into the world shall not be murdered- for that is what it really amounts to - bv ‘ the use of the fraudulent patent foods which are now placed upon our markets. The records of our coronial inquiries show that children are done to death ignorantly by those who are responsible for their care and well-being, although not ignorantly by those who supply these socalled foods. The proprietors must know that these artificial foods are worse than: valueless. Not only do they fail to sustain life, but they cause death. To my mind, we can do nothing more important thanenact legislation which will have the effect of preserving the infant life of the community. Unfortunately, we are living under such conditions that many mothers do not find it convenient or necessary to suckle their children. As a result, the latter are deprived of the food which nature has intended for them, and the chemist has entered the field in an endeavour to supply the deficiency. But where one man is attempting to build up a perfect synthetic food, we have a number of consciencelessadventurers who are thrusting upon the market all sorts of so-called artificial foods which are nothing less than poisons. It is in this direction specially that the Government should take immediate action. One has only to read the dai.lv press te bi; apprised of that fact. Whilst I honour the press, I do think that our large newspapers abuse their magnificent opportunities bv allowing their columns to be utilized for* the purpose of advertising abuses of this character. Where it is shown by criminal prosecutions that certain articles, are being placed upon the market, the consumption of which is detrimental to the health of the community, I think that the proprietors of these great journals should pause before accepting advertisements extolling the alleged virtues of such articles. In Victoria, mainly through the action taken by the honorable member for Bourke, who represented the Australian Natives’ Association in .that regard, Parliament passed a short Act to suppress obscene advertisements. That legislation got rid of a great plague spot upon our national character. It prevented the publication of advertisements which, in many cases, constituted an inducement to do evil. In my opinion., the Post Office might render a great service to the community by causing a more careful scrutiny to be made of the various publications which pass through’, it from year to year. I hope that something will be done in that direction. The testimonials which are published regarding the curative properties of many patent medicines are in most instances fraudulent. The honorable member for Barrier has quoted some cases in this connexion. But he is not the only honorable member who has had an experience of that character. Within the past few days another honorable member was waited upon by a canvasser who desired him to supply a testimonial in favour of a particular remedy. His reply was that he knew nothing whatever of the composition of that remedy. He was then asked if he would verify the statements of a number of his constituents who had supplied testimonials, and he declined to do so. A couple of days later he was once more waited upon by the canvasser, who showed him the testimonials in question, and requested him to verify them, offering him, as an inducement to do so, the sum of two guineas. When the honorable member requested the canvasser to leave, the latter, who possessed a distinctly American accent, said, as he made for the door, “ If you will supply your photo as well, I will give you three guineas.” That individual was shown off the premises at once ; but, in my opinion, he should have been lodged in gaol. The incident which I have related actually occurred within the precincts of Parliament itself, and it merely goes to show how these testimonials, which are disseminated broadcast, are obtained. It is well known that any struggling, country newspaper reporter who wishes to make a guinea or two has merely to visit some out-of-the-way place and induce one of its residents to declare that he has tried a certain remedy with most marvellous results. He very frequently gains his object. Having interviewed the alleged patient, he is required to write a glowing account of the latter’s personal appearance, and of his residence - indicating, possibly, the colour in, which his front garden gate is painted-and his restoration to health through the patent nostrum - and for this service he receives a couple of guineas. That is the amount which is regularly paid to reporters who procure such testimonials. Such a practice should not be tolerated. Unfortunately, under the law as it stands, we cannot deal with these cases ; but I hope that the time is coming when the health and well-being ‘of the community will be our first care, and we shall place upon the statute-book a law providing that such things shall not be permitted. We have no higher dutv to perform. I trust that the outcome of this motion - which, I am sure, will be carried unanimously - will be that we shall enter upon a new era. so far as this system is concerned, and that our people will be protected in a verv different way from that which has hitherto prevailed.
Mr. FISHER (Wide Bay) [4.3J.- This debate has opened most auspiciously. /
– What is the honorable member’s experience of patent medicines ?
– It is that they are what some colonials would describe, with many adjectives, as “ frauds.” I am afraid, however, that if we proceed on the lines that have been suggested this afternoon, we shall be seriously interfering with the rights of private enterprise.
– The law against murder interferes with private enterprise.
– It certainly limits the opportunity of the offender to repeat the offence. I thank the honorable member for his interjection, since it reminds me that the man who commits murder generally does sr> in such a. way as to lead to his detection, whereas the pious frauds, who. in some cases, spend thousands in advertising their nostrums, and so delude unfortunate invalids, manage to escape.
– Some of them recover in spite of the medicines, which, as. the result of such advertisements, they are induced to take.
– If the advertisements were confined to facts no objection could be taken to them. That, indeed, is all that we ask. We say that these articles should bear labels showing exactly what are their ingredients. It is well to know. from the speech of the honorable member for Laanecoorie, and also) from interjections that have been made, that the medical men in this House are unanimous in regard to this question.
– I do not think that there has ever been a difference of opinion in regard to it.
– Then we .are unanimously of opinion that the evil is a great one. That being so, why should we permit it to continue?
– There is no opposition to this motion, and I do not know why the honorable member should delay its passing. He is obstructing the proposal of one of his own party.
– I took occasion recently to speak very strongly on this question in the State of which the honorable member for Parramatta is a representative, and I am prepared to back up the statements I made. We have no power to interfere with the administration of the health laws of the States ; the Minister knows that, unfortunately, we have practically no power to deal with this matter within any one State - that our action must be confined to importations.
– And to transfers from State to State.
– That is one reason why this question should be discussed. I am pleased to say that. Queensland has done good work in preventing the sale of adulterated foods and of patent medicines which are worse than useless. I hope that all the States will take similar action. The people themselves desire that this step shall be taken, and it is difficult to understand why these evils should be allowed to continue year after year. The Minister says” that lie has ample powers to deal with these articles. I believe that his powers are certainly greater than thev were prior to the passing of the Commerce Act, but at the same time I would point out that it is not sufficient for him to say that we have the right to stop importations. By the exercise of that power, he will, in my opinion, do only half the work that is before us. It is necessary that almost every doubtful article shall be examined. Although wi indirectly employ a State analyst, we have no Government analyst for the Commonwealth. We require a much larger staff to attend to these matters, and such an expenditure would be fully justified.
– We employ ananalyst in each State in connexion with the Customs Department.
– We have no Commonwealth Government analytical laboratory in which this work could be carried out, although it is true that we have analysts - and very capable men they are - in each of the States, who could make the necessary analyses. The Minister will agree with me that so far there has been no systematic attempt to analyze these patent medicines and foods. It is true that when special attention has been directed to a particular article action has been taken, and a great work has been done in this regard by Victoria. The Government of this State, as well as their analysts and other public officers, deserve the greatest credit for what they have done to preserve the health of the people, and under the Pure Foods Act, recently passed by the State Parliament, they will be able to do still better work. It becomes us as the Parliament having control of the Federal side of this question to see that we do not lag behind any of the States Legislatures in embodying in our laws the public sentiment in regard to it.
– I wish to address myself briefly to this question. The Minister of Trade and Customs has told us that he has ample power to regulate the importation of patent medicines, and he referred to section 2, subsection b of the Commerce Act regulations, under which it can be made imperative for the ingredients to be stated on each package, but it seems to me that we need to do something more than require that such preparations shall bear labels showing the drugs used in their composition. The labels should indicate their pharmaceutical composition. “ If a provision to that effect were passed, and occasional analyses were made, the health of the people would be fairly protected, so far as the use of these articles is concerned. I think that it would be well to omit from the motion paragraphs b, c, and d. Doctors differ, and if we made an inquiry as to the value of ar. v of these articles as remedial agents, we might have one medical man expressing one view as to their curative properties, and another giving an entirely different opinion. What we need to provide is that the people shall have a knowledge of what they are using when they’ take these patent medicines and foods. If we prescribe that the packages and labels shall bear a statement as to their pharmaceutical composition, I think that the system will be found to work satisfactorily.
.- I desire to support the suggestion of the honorable member for Brisbane. It is very desirable that the people should be allowed an opportunity to ascertain what these patent medicines contain, but I do not think that their judgment should be in anyway fettered. It is rather a curious commentary on the profession to which my honorable friend belongs that after three or four thousands years of continuous experimenting upon their unfortunate fellow citizens, they have to admit that some medical men believe in one thing and some in another. Unhappily, that admission does not rest upon the honorable member’s bare statement. It is a fact that all those who do not belong to the medical profession have learned to their cost. I am very sorry that the Minister has not power to insist upon another very necessary reform - and that is that all prescriptions shall be so written that an ordinary human being may know what they are. At the present time the quantity of aqua pura-
– I should like to know, Mr. Speaker, if the writing of a doctor’s prescriptions has anything, to do with the question before the Chair?
– I do not think that the honorable member has departed from legitimate argument.
– I am very pleased that my remarks are so apropos as to cause the honorable member to rise to a point of order. I regret that the Minister has not power to insist that all prescriptions shall be written in English so that we may know what they are. I speak with some degree of feeling, since I had occasion to notice how prescriptions ‘written for my family varied from day to day. One thing alone was constant, and that was the price. The effect owing to my foresight was happily not quite what the medical attendants expected, because I placed the medicines dispensed according; to these prescriptions where they were likely to do the most good - on my lawn - with the result that they apparently withered the rising grass to art. extent that to a man with an artistic eye was absolutely appalling. What we need to provide is that the people shall know what these preparations contain. It is notfor us to consider what they do with them. If a person who has reached adult years chooses to think that the taking of a certain quantity of chloroform or of podophyllin will do him good, let him do so. IF he passes away, as the result of using these things, that will be an excellent reason why his wife and family should not kill themselves from the same cause. And so such a man will, in his own littleway, raise one of these monuments which do some service to. mankind. As to thedesirability of passing this motion, one only needs to go into a drug store tosee the enormous quantity of drugsof various kinds that are taken - and taken, so far as I can see, with absolutely no beneficial result. But I am notgoing to condemn all patent medicines. I understand that the Minister pins hisfaith to one particular brand to which heflies upon occasions, with the most gratifying results. I do not know whether he is inclined to make known the brand, but if” he is, now is the time for him to do so. I notice that the honorable member for Kooyong is looking with a certain degreeof anxiety and hope towards the honorable gentleman, but, although I haveendeavoured to induce the Minister todivulge the brand, he has hitherto refused to do so. There are, happily, patent medicines which db a great deal’ of good. In spite of what the honorable member for Laanecoorie has said” about patent medicines and quack practitioners, I venture to assert that on the whole the medicines that are dispensed bv regular practitioners will bear as little examination as will those ;handed’ out by quacks. I am inclined to think, however, that the practitioner relies more upon water and on the beneficent interference of the Deity than he does upon drugs. That isa comparatively recent innovation. Formerly, it was the custom of medical practitioners to barbarously mutilate a man by bleeding him. That was considered to be the only method by which one could1 achieve anything likea reasonable degree of health and strength. Nowadays, if a medical man suggested suchtreatment, he would be regarded as a barbarian. No doubt the day will come when? the present generation of doctors will be considered to have been little further skilled in the science of medicine than were the medicine-men of the Red Indians. While surgery has made startling strides, medicine is in its swaddling clothes, and is kept there by such silly practices as the illegible writing of prescriptions in words, supposed to be Latin, which no Latinist could decipher or understand. Three words alone stand out plainly in the ordinary prescription - the word recipe - and, if the patient is foolish enough, he follows the advice, and takes the medicine - and the words aqua pura, that element always being present in liberal quantities. I know that the Minister holds the views which I am now uttering, and has that contempt for the medical profession - of course, not for the individual doctors who compose it - which it deserves. No doubt, the profession is a beneficent one. It has done a great deal of good. Our cemeteries are proof of that. But it is obvious that its members have yet a great deal to learn. That is shown by the statement of the honorable member for Brisbane, who, after a lifetime of experiment, tells us that if a patent medicine contains aloes, or calomel, or soap- which I believe .to be, the foundation of certain pills - there is room for difference of opinion as to its probable action. I should have thought that there could be no difference of opinion on that subject, but, after his pronouncement, shall not venture to express mv views on the point. I hope that the honorable member for Barrier will accept the emendation suggested by this eminent authority, so that we may do what will be at once desirable and sensible.
.- I can hardly conceive that there should be any difference of opinion as to the need for action such as is contemplated by the motion ; but, although the subject has been discussed rather fully, I wish to direct attention to a particular phase of it, in the hone that the Legislatures of the States will profit bv our example, as they did in connexion with the Commerce Act, and db their part towards the removal of a great evil. There are patent medicines1 made up on very effective formula, and I know that the chemists who had to make up the prescriptions of a leading medical man connected with certain friendly societies charged more for doing so than they charged for making up other prescriptions, because he was in the habit of prescribing proportions of patent medicines, holding them to be compounds of value. Such patent medicines, however, are very few. I believe, too, that the patent medicines which are harmful in themselves are also few. But the advertisements by which patent medicines are recommended tend to mislead the public, and there is associated with them an element of fraud. Mention has not been made during the discussion of the systematic manner in which the Australian people are raiued by American patent medicine firms. These firms often carry on business under the name of some doctor, whose prescriptions they profess to sell. These doctors may or may not have an existence; it is not worth any one’s while to go to America to investigate the matter. The companies send out circulars, offering to those who receive them certain inducements to send back the addresses of friends or neighbours who may be suffering from any ailment given in an accompanying list. These lists are so comprehensive that scarcely any of the ills to which flesh is heir are omitted from them. When addresses have been secured in this way, cleverly -worded letters are sent out, for the writing of which special staffs are engaged. These’ letters are calculated to appeal strongly to sensitive persons, and to excite their imagination in respect to their physical condition. By these means, a large sum of money is annually extracted from our people for the purchase of drugs and compounds, which are probably useless, and in many cases exceedingly harmful. No doubt, many of the compounds sold for internal as well as for external application contain large quantities of alcohol. The costly advertisements which appear in our newspapers, the pamphlets with which the country is flooded, and the scale on which the business of the patent’ medicine companies is conducted, are indications of the immense profits which, must be made in the business, and, no doubt, a great deal of misery is caused to sensitive persons by descriptions of symptoms which make them think that they are suffering from diseases. The health of thousands is ruined, and their pockets emptied, by those who sell these much-vaunted cures. The practices of these firms are virtually fraudulent, and as such should be put down by law. What the honorable member for ‘Barrier wishes to do is to enlighten the public. I hope that the Legislatures of the States will make it a misdemeanour to deceive the public in regard to statements the truth of which the average man cannot determine for himself. Very few persons are capable of analyzing a” patent medicine, and the average man cannot pay to have an analysis made for him. No doubt, the Australian public needs educating on the subject of drugs. There seems to be a wrong impression as to their value in ‘securing health. I had some years of experience in hospital management, and am satisfied that many of the outdoor patients who came to be examined and prescribed for had practically nothing the matter with them. In some cases their discomfort may have arisen from having eaten too large a dinner on the previous day: I know that one medical man had the courage to tell many of his would-be patients that this was the case, but, as his outspokenness seemed likely to produce a diminution in the subscriptions, another doctor was procured, who used to prescribe largely what was practically only coloured water. He was able to run the ‘hospital for twelve months at an average cost of 10 1/2d. per patient, indoor and outdoor, and, of course, the indoor patients were really sick. Those who got the coloured water were perfectly satisfied, and, no doubt, in conversation with their neighbours, enlarged upon the beneficial effects of the medicine given to them. I remember a case in which for years a lady received a bottle of medicine from the chemist every week, paying him 2s. 6d. for it. One day she called at the shop for it, and, as the chemist himself was out, the assistant made it up for her from the original prescription; but, on taking it, she became quite angry, and said that she had been given the wrong medicine. What she had really been having was something quite harmless. No doubt, many druggists’ shops are licensed poison shops. Leading medical men admit that they do not believe much in drugs. They consider their use beneficial upon occasion, but condemn the practice of taking them generally. No doubt, if the public knew the ingredients of patent medicines, they would often refuse to buy them, because they would say, “ We will not pay 2s. 6d. for what does not cost twopence to make.” The results of investigations in the United States of America have proved that, in many instances, prescriptions are not properly made up by the chemists. Although the medical men who prescribe have ordered the use of certain drugs, these drugs are often not used, sometimes to the serious injury of the patient. However, as it is desired to take a vote on the question before the notices of motion are called on, I shall not prolong my remarks, although I should like to say a good deal more on the subject.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
. I move -
That, in the opinion of this House, all necessary steps should be taken, before any general election, to pass a Bill for the alteration of the Constitution, to enable the Commonwealth Parliament to enact uniform industrial laws, so that at the time of the election the Bill may be inexpensively submitted lo the electors, as provided in section 128 of the Constitution.
I brought forward a similar motion last session, when I directed the attention of honorable members to the fact that opinion had undergone a considerable change since, the holding of the Federal Convention, at which it was decided not to bring industrial legislation under the control of the Commonwealth. Sir William McMillan, when he occupied the position of leader of the Opposition, acknowledged that he had very considerably changed his views, and expressed himself in these words: -
I hold generally that everything that affects the rights and liberties - especially the industrial rights and liberties - of the community ought to be in the hands of the National Parliament.
At another stage of the same speech he said -
I do not think these great subjects should be settled, except by the National Parliament.
I contend that the same Legislature that has the power to protect the manufacturer by imposing effective Customs duties, should also be in a position to protect the employes by enacting industrial legislation. In other words, protection is only half effective if it secures the home markets to the manufacturer, without providing for adequate wages, fair conditions, and clean environment for the whole of the employes. This is being recognised to a fuller extent every year. It is quite true that in Victoria, industrial legislation has been fairly effective, but even in that State it has many limitations. I find that in forty trades employing 44,000 operatives Wages Boards have been appointed ; but there are still 19,000 factorv operatives to whom no protection has been afforded bv means of industrial legislation. The latter employes are, for the most part, engaged in industries that are protected, and are carried on mainly in shires and boroughs where the Factories and Shops Act cannot reach them. Others are employed in trades in respect to which no application has been made for the appointment of Wages Boards. The application of industrial legislation in Victoria has been considerably hampered duringthe last two years by the very farreaching amendment recently adopted by the State Legislature. When the honorable member for Gippsland was at the head of the State Government, a resolution of the Assembly was sufficient to insure the appointment of a Wages Board, but now, it is necessary for both branches of the Legislature to approve of an application. The result is that since the amended Act was passed not a single new board has been brought into operation.
– Because of the difficulty of obtaining the approval of the Legislative Council. I believe that, from the time the Act was brought into operation, less than half-a-dozen applications for the appointment of Wages Boards have been approved by the Legislative Council. The late Sir Frederick Sargood was instrumental in inducing the Council to agree to the appointment of a few boards at the outset; but the greater number were appointed during the time that a resolution of the Assembly alone was required. At present the operatives engaged in some thirteen trades desire to be brought under the operation of the Act, but the Victorian Government do not seem inclined to take the steps necessary to secure compliance with their wish.
– Have the Legislative Council rejected any applications ?
– No proposals have been made recently on account of the difficulty of securing the approval of both Houses. Another great drawback is that the Wages Boards are under legislative instruction to be guided by the average wage paid in the industry, and upon that basis to fix the minimum wage. Honorable members will understand how objectionable, and even unworkable, this provision becomes in a case such as that of the tobacco industry. The honorable and learned member for Wannon stated some little time ago that the operatives in the tobacco factories had refused to agree to the appointment of a Wages Board. As a matter of fact, however, they have not done anything of the kind, but have reported that in the present condition of affairs a Wages Board would be absolutely useless. A large combine has a practical monopoly of the whole trade, and there is no employer outside of the combine whose operations are sufficiently large to justify a Wages Board in adopting the remuneration paid to his workers as a basis upon which to fix a fair or minimum wage. If the Board were required to take the average wage ruling in the trade at present they would very closely approach sweating conditions. I have here a list supplied to the operatives by the officials of the tobacco combine, from which I learn that men of 23, 38, 32, 26, and 44 years of age, are receiving an average wage as low as £1 16s. per week. I call that a very unfair wage, especially in view of the fact that the tobacco combine is making enormous profits.
– Do the operatives work full time for the wages indicated?
– Yes. The list to which I refer is most interesting and instructive, and I should like honorable members to examine it. The tobacco operatives have been trying for a long time to secure something like reasonable wages, and honorable members will see by reference to the list that there is no ground for the. statement of the honorable and learned member for Wannon that they are being fairly paid. There are about (halfadozen men who receive from £2 2s. to £210s. per week, but the average wage is under £2 per week.
– In 1904, only one operative earned sufficient to render it necessary for him to pay income tax. At that time the amount exempted was , £125.
– Whilst much good has been accomplished by the Wages Boards, and whilst the very persons who at first opposed them now strongly support them, the present machinery is not sufficient to insure full protection to the workers. Therefore, even in Victoria, which is in the very van of progress, there is reason for transferring the duty of enacting industrial legislation from the State to the Commonwealth Parliament. If protection is given to the great tobacco trust, we ought to see that the operatives are paid reasonable wages. No one can say that they are being fairly paid at present. Upon one occasion a mayor of Melbourne urged that the wages paid to miners in Victoria should be reduced. I suggested that if he put his robes on one side, donned moleskins, and worked in a mine for a time, he would probably change his opinion. When the honorable and learned member for Wannon speaks of £1 16s. per week as a fair average wage, he cannot appreciate what he is saying.
– The payment of low wages enables the tobacco combine to make larger donations to the anti-Socialists’ fighting fund.
– Whether they donate or not, they ought to be compelled to pay reasonable wages. In the other States far stronger reasons exist why industrial legislation should be taken in hand by the National Parliament. I have received a communication from the secretary of one of the trade societies in Sydney, who informs me that in the clothing, millinery, and other trades, where there is really no fiscal protection, the condition of affairs is exceedingly bad. He states that sworn testimony shows that in a large clothing factory in Kent-street the employes complain bitterly not only of the insanitary condition of the factory, but of the fact that for months and months they have averaged only 7s. 6d. for forty-eight hours’ work. It is also stated that sweating of a pronounced character obtains in factories, warehouses, fashionable millinery and drapery establishments. It is mentioned, moreover, that the Arbitration Act works slowly -so slowly that some workers are tired of waiting for it to become operative so far as they are concerned. Proposals have been made there to adopt a system of Wages Boards, similar to that existing in Victoria.
– When the Arbitration Act was under discussion, it was stated that the Wages Boards were a failure.
– There was some diversity of opinion as to which was the better method of settling trade disputes. There is no doubt as to which is the more effective and prompt means of settlement at present. There are dozens of trades in Victoria which are fairly well protected, whereas those engaged in similar callings in New South Wales have little hope of securing redress for their grievances under the slowly operating arbitration legislation in force there. As Mr. Harrison Ord points out, in Victoria, the Wages
Boards do not depend upon trades unions, but in New South Wales, if there are no trades unions, there is no protection to the workmen. In Victoria, there are a number of trades which are fully protected, but in which the employes are not organized into unions. In my opinion, the first essential is strong and effective organization. But the next best thing is reasonable hours and conditions, and fair wages. I do not know that it is wise to make those conditions depend entirely upon the existence of trade unions. At any rate, it is a fact that in New South’ Wales, the operatives - especially in the clothing trade - are averaging considerably less than are the employes who are engaged in that trade in Victoria. Not only should this Parliament deal with this question in the interests of the employes, but also in. the interests of the manufacturers. I contend that the manufacturers all over the Commonwealth should start off from scratch. The manufacturer in New South Wales should not be allowed to pay his employes low wages, and work them long hours under bad conditions, as against his competitor in Victoria. All manufacturers ought to pay the same minimum wage, and work their operatives the same number of hours in those clean surroundings which are necessary to a healthy industrial life. That is not the condition which exists in New South Wales, where the machinery for remedying these evils exists, although, unfortunately, it cannot be applied. But what is the condition in those States which possess no machinery of that sort? It is even worse. In South Australia, I find that since I last addressed the House upon this question, a considerable development has taken place - the employers having expressed their willingness to agree to the establishment of Wages Boards upon Victorian lines. Why have they consented to do this? Because, at the present time, the Wages Boards in Victoria are inoperative. The Factories Act is really a dead letter. To establish Wages Boards under those conditions merely means placing upon the statute-book legislation which will be inoperative. Therefore, the employers of South Australia are really prepared to concede nothing. Only this week representative operatives informed me that in the clothing, boot, and milling trades in South Australia sweating is rampant.
– That evil is not peculiar to South Australia.
– It is peculiar to all countries in which there is no industrial protection. I am sorry that it is not confined to South Australia. I mentioned that State because of the very remarkable change which has recently taken place there. Its Chamber of Manufactures has expressed a desire to adopt Victorian legislation upon what it calls “ safe lines.” I have shown what that expression means. In Queensland, I regret to say, the position is no better. In New South Wales, the Chamber of Manufactures recently directed the attention of its members to the fact that most unfair competition was taking place betwen Queensland and New South Wales manufacturers, because, whilst many of the latter were working under the awards of the Arbitration Court, in Queensland the manufacturers were free to pay just what wages they chose, and to work their employes very long hours. I am not here to plead the cause of the manufacturers. I am pleading for what is known in Victoria as the “ new protection.” That is the only protection that any reasonable man can advocate. A system of protection which merely protects the manufacturer is worth nothing either to the country or to the industry in which he is engaged. It is because I want to see this “ new protection “ applied to Queensland, for example, where sweating is rampant, that I urge this Parliament to take the matter up. In Tasmania, I am sorry to say, there exists no legislation of. an industrial character. Quite recently, that was made very evident. A bishop of that State emphasized the fact that in many protected trades a large amount of sweating is carried on, that inordinately low wages are paid, and that the conditions under which the operatives labour are most unfair to Victorian manufacturers.
– Victoria is dumping goods into Tasmania every week.
– I am speaking of the industrial life of the operatives in the island State. I have already quoted a striking instance in regard to brush making. In the jam industry in Victoria, employers pay the miserable minimum wage of 30s. per week to adult males.
– That is much lower than the wage which is paid in Tasmania.
– The honorable member will find that it is nothing of the kind. If it were he ought to welcome legislation which would bring the industry in Victoria up to the standard which exists in Tasmania. In this State the wages paid in the jam industry are as follow : - Adult males, 30s. perweek ; males over eighteen, but not more than twenty-one years of age, 17s.; males over sixteen, but not more than eighteen years, 12s. ; lads under sixteen years of age, 9s. Females of eighteen years and upwards receive 14s. per week. These are the wages paid in a protected industry - an industry out of which large fortunes have been made in Victoria.
– The manufacturers enjoy a protection of £14 per ton.
– Some of the most wealthy men in Melbourne to-day are jam manufacturers and before this law was enacted they were paying shameful wages.
– The present rates are not very liberal.
Mr.MAUGER. - Of course they are not, but they are infinitely better than they were.
– The reason that the employes in the jam industry receive a low minimum wage is that one of their representatives upon the Board went wrong.
– The men are not blameless in these matters. I know of operatives at the present time who are contracting themselves out of this very law. I do not for a moment affirm that the employers alone are to blame. If men were alive to their own interests they might do a great deal to assist the administration of the Act. But my point is that there are jam manufacturers in Victoria who are amassing fortunes, and who, nevertheless, pay miserable wages. I am sorry to say that in some instances they give freely to the churches and to charitable institutions money which would be far better employed in the payment of reasonable wages to their operatives. But, although the wages current in the jam industry in Victoria are so low, the position is still worse in Tasmania. The operatives there receive no protection whatever. I wish that the honorable member for Franklin would read the account of the insanitary conditions which are alleged by reputable citizens to. exist in the industry in Tasmania.
– Their statements are not correct.
– If they are not correct the honorable member will not object to the industry in Victoria being brought up to the level of the industry in his own State.
– The honorable member is making statements in regard to something of which he knows nothing.
– I know quite as much as does the honorable member.
– Here is the evidence bearing upon the matter.
– Let the honorable member read it. In the office of the Antisweating League I have sworn testimony showing that the conditions which I have outlined, actually exist in Tasmania.
– From whom was that testimony obtained ?
– From some dismissed employe such as the honorable member usually gets his information from.
– My honorable friend is wrong. We have positively refused to accept the sworn statement of any person who was not actually engaged in the industry of which he speaks, at the time that his affirmation was made. This particular affirmation was made eighteen months ago.
– Did the honorable member read the evidence which was tendered to the Tariff Commission in Hobart?
– The Tariff Commission did not deal with this matter exhaustively.
– Four members of this House went through the Tasmanian jam factories, and they are in a position to speak of their sanitary condition.
– I am not speaking particularly of their sanitary condition. If the Tasmanian employers are paying fair wages, and if their establishments are sanitary, they have no more reason to fear factory legislation than I have to fear a policeman. To me a policeman means nothing, and to a fair employer industrial laws mean nothing.
– We have only the honorable member’s statement as to the position in Tasmania.
– I have referred to statements that have appeared in the newspapers.
– The honorable member did not say that they had.
– I did. I said that I was referring to a statement which had been given to me, and to the sworn affirmation of operatives who were employed there. The honorable member for Yarra has pointed out, that when the Factories Com mission took evidence in Tasmania, these statements were placed before them, and I have documentary evidence of a confidential character which, proves my assertion. If the position is not as I have indicated I am very glad to hear it. I am sure that my honorable friend will support me in urging that the industrial laws that apply, or should apply, in Victoria should also apply to Tasmania and all the other States. I should be sorry if the honorable member for Franklin imagined that I consider Tasmania is, from an industrial point of view, worse than any of the other States which have no industrial legislation. I do not think it is ; but many of its industrial features ought to be immediately improved, although we cannot hope for an improvement except through the national Parliament giving the employer protection. The same statement can be made with respect to Western Australia. That is, so to speak, a new country ; it is immensely rich, and its gold mines are developing in a way that is little short of marvellous. But there exist there all those conditions which go to make up a bad, sweating, industrial life. What is the reason? It is due to the fact that the laws are inoperative. Why should the national Parliament give an employer an opportunity to command the whole market, and to make a fortune - as it is doing in connexion with the jam trade - without at the same time insisting, by means of industrial legislation, that the worker shall have a fair and reasonable share of the result of that policy? That is all that I ask, and I fail to see why my proposal should be opposed. We fix the duties; why should we not alsofix the wages? We deal with the industrial life, so far as the manufacturer is concerned, and we should also be in a position to deal with industrial life in relation to the employe. We have made great progress, but much more remains to be done. Although Victoria is in the very forefront so far as industrial legislation is concerned, a great deal remains to be done here. The policy of protection has reached in Victoria a higher standard of perfection than it has in any of the other States, and yet we find that in some of the best protected industries here men are being paid a miserable wage. For these reasons I urge that the Parliament should have the power to see that fair wages are paid, not only by the tobacco combine, but by every manufacturer. We should be able to see that no manufacturer is allowed to evade industrial legislation by establishing a factory in a shire or rural district, or removing to an island within our control. Where we afford protection to the manufacturer, we should afford protection to the operative in regard to wages, sanitation, and environment.
.- I regret that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports should have cast a reflection upon Tasmanian manufacturers. Before referring to the sanitary conditions of a jam factory in that State - and the question of sanitation has an important bearing on such an industry - the honorable member should have been sure of his facts. When the Shipping Service. Commission visited Tasmania recently, several of its members - the honorable member, for Darling, the honorable member for Riverina, the honorable member for Barrier, and I - visited Messrs. Jones and Company’s jam factory, and although we went there unannounced, I am quite prepared to allow my fellow members of the Commission to decide whether or not we found the establishment in a sanitary condition. It is to be deeply regretted that an honorable member should see fit to reflect upon any industry or business when he is not in possession of the actual facts. The industry in question is not in my constituency, but I am always ready to stand up for that which I believe to be right. I do not think that any manufactory should be injured by unfair criticism.. I am opposed to the amendment of the Constitution. We already have many powers, and we should proceed to exercise those powers before we seek to obtain others. If we proposed to secure an amendment of the Constitution in one direction, we should have a demand for many other amendments. I hope, therefore, that the wisdom of the House will cause it to reject the motion. Surely the members of the States Parliaments have sufficient intelligence and ability to enable them to deal with industrial legislation. If the members of any State Parliament refuse to take action, it is for the electors of that State to bring about a change by returning those who will be prepared to support up-to-date legislation. I ‘wish now to deal with the statements that have been made with reference to the wages paid by jam manufacturers at Hobart. When the Tariff Commission was taking, evidence there, the following statement was presented to it by a witness, relative to the number of hands employed and the wages paid by H. Jones and Company Limited : -
Employes only, exclusive of cost of management Number of hands employed ranges from 150 in midwinter to 700 in midsummer. Hands now employed, 170. Total wages, ^214 6s. 6d. ;. average, £1 5s. Labellers (girls), piece-work, average 20s. to 30s. per week all the year round. (Victorian rate, 14s. per week). Solderers (boys and men), piece-work, 45s. to 50s. all the year round. (Victorian rate, 42s. per week). Case makers, piece-work, 35s. to 50s. a week all the year round. Total wages paid in Hobart by H. Jones and Company, ^.15,000 to Z ,8,000 per annum. In addition to factory hands, in January of each year it takes some 2,500 pickers all that month to gather raspberries and black currants alone for the use of our factory, at a cost of about ,£9,000 for labour alone, and exclusive of cartage and steamers or rail freight.
Messrs. Jones and Company did not hide anything. They threw open their books to the Commission and allowed it to inquire into the whole of their business.
– Is there only one jam factory in Tasmania?
– That conducted by Jones and Company is the largest one in the State.
– But is there only one such factory ? I did not refer to any individual jam factory.
– There are other factories, and they are just as up-to-date as that carried on by jones and Company. The statement I have read will apply to all the. jam factories in that State. It was decided that a witness from the firm of Jones and Company should give evidence before the Commission, as their factorv is the largest in Tasmania, and, (hat being so, I am unable at present to quote other evidence bearing; on this question. I certainly am not picking and choosing. It will be seen from the statement I have read that the wages paid in Tasmania are higher than those paid in Victoria, notwithstanding that a Factories Act is in force here. For the reasons given I intend to vote against the motion.
– I hold that the reasons given by the honorable member for Bass in support of his intention to vote against the motion will be found, upon examination, to be insufficient. It is true that the States Legislatures are competent to db all that is necessary from their own point of view, but the honorable member has failed to keep in, mind the very important fact that it is this Legislature which determines the degree of protectionnecessary to enable an industry to prosper.
Thus under the conditions at present prevailing, six separate authorities deal with the question of the wages to be paid in industries which may be brought into existence or wiped out of existence by an Act of this Parliament. One of the States Legislatures might decide to protect employes by fixing rates of pay considerably below the average prevailing in the other five States. The inevitable result of that would be unfair competition of the very worst kind. When an anomaly of that kind can exist, and does exist, it is a matter for serious consideration whether, having the power to impose protective duties, this Parliament is not the very best authority to declare what the industrial conditions shall be, and particularly what shall be the remuneration paid in certain industries. That is a logical position to take up. I am not here to say that the States Parliaments, with their local knowledge, -may not foe ;ab.le, by means of WA,GEE Boards, to do better work than the Commonwealth can do by passing certain laws. But the larger issue confronts us, and will continue to confront us as long as we avail ourselves of the power to give facilities for the creation of new industries. I shall support this motion the more cheerfully, because I find that in a speech delivered recently at Adelaide, the Prime Minister declared that the policy of the present Government in the future would be of such a character as would enable fair industrial conditions - and I presume fair wages - to prevail throughout the Commonwealth. I took occasion, in making reference to that speech on the following morning, to say that, while the idea of the Prime Minister was a fair one, in my opinion, this Parliament has not, under the Constitution, the powers necessary to enable it to secure to the workmen in protected industries their fair share of the results of protection. We may increase duties as much as we please, but we have no power to declare that those engaged in protected industries shall be fairly remunerated. That being so, I think that the Government, if thev sincerely hold the views enunciated by their leader, must support the motion. In my opinion, it is inevitable that this power will be given to the Commonwealth. In this Parliament there is a fuller and broader representation of the people than there is in the Parliaments of the States, because there is not uniformity of representation throughout Australia, and some of the State Legislatures are, from a radical point of view, not as truly representative of the popular mind as it is ‘desirable that they should be. Every adult in Australia, however, has a right to cast a vote for candidates to this Parliament, and it is by this body that I hope to see passed the measures necessary to ameliorate the conditions, and to assist the labours, of those whose industry is the back-bone of our national welfare. I do not agree with the honorable member for Bass that we should confine ourselves to the exercise of the powers we possess under the Constitution. It may be a fair argument to saythat the time has not yet arrived when we should seek to ‘deal with this question.
– I say that we have not yet dealt with man,v of the matters with which we have been specially empowered to deal.
– .No doubt that is so; but, when we have dealt fully with all the matters referred to us by the Constitution, we shall have largely exhausted our usefulness, and there will not be much left for us to do but to’ pass Supply ; and no doubt the demands upon the Commonwealth exchequer will go on increasing. The fact that we had not exercised many of our powers woul’d not prevent us, if a crisis arose, from asking for power to deal with it. The honorable member for Bass is one of the most sensible men in the House, and, if a crisis arose with which the Parliament had no constitutional power to deal, he would be one of the first to say that we should appeal to the people for the power required for the protection of the public interest.
– Let us deal with the crisis when it comes.
– That is well enough in its way ; but it is better to provide machinery which will prevent the happening of crises, to the national injury. It is not proposed that the States shall be asked to hand over their powers to a foreign authority. It is merely suggested that they should transfer them to a Parliament elected on the widest suffrage by the people of the States, so that we may so frame our legislation that the manufacturer in one State may not have an undue advantage over manufacturers in other States. The just, honest, and respectable manufacturer or producer is always anxious for laws which will prevent competitors from unfair dealing, for which opportunity is given by the cutting-down of wages. Right laws, honestly administered, are for the protection of the upright and the just. It is not wise to leave to six separate authorities the passing of laws relating to wages, when the adjustment of the whole matter can better be transferred to one authority, and that the Commonwealth.
– - The importance of the motion, as a corollary or concomitant of our protectionist policy, to provide for uniform legislation in connexion with industrial matters, cannot be overrated. The proposal to submit to the people, by means of a referendum, an alteration of the Constitution which would enable the Commonwealth to exercise a real and’ not an imaginary, jurisdiction over industrial matters, deserves the best consideration of the House. Therefore, I heartily support the motion. If the powers asked for are given, we shall have a double-barrelled piece of democracy, and shall be able to remove the great cause of division now existing between the protectionist pure and simple, and what may be called the labour protectionist, by being able to secure to the workers a fair distribution of’ the benefits accruing from the adoption of protection. The experience oE this country, as of other countries, is that the protection given by the imposition of Customs duties is onesided, and tends to the accumulation of wealth and privileges; in the hands of employers and manufacturers, the employes benefiting very little. If, however, the Commonwealth had power to pass laws which would secure the fair distribution of the benefits of protection among the workers, there would be few, if any, socalled free-trade democrats. The giving of these powers to the Commonwealth is highly important, and, indeed, essential, and I trust that the Government will earnestly consider how best the matter may be submitted to the people. When these powers have been secured, we shall be able to impose a rational fiscal policy, which will commend itself to the common sense of the democracy of Australia. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is to be congratulated for having brought the matter before us so clearly, and I hope that a vote will be obtained from the people which will enable the Commonwealth to pass uniform industrial legislation. Tt seems to me that the fairness of the proposal will commend itself to honorable members generally, and secure the support of those who consider that, not only the manufacturing capitalist, but also the workers, should benefit by protection. If, in addition to the ‘imposition of Customs duties, laws are passed securing to the workers their fair share of the resulting benefits, there should be no difficulty in commending protection to the public in such a way as to .obtain for it, hearty, if not unanimous, support. Therefore I shall do all I can to assist in passing the motion, so that the necessary steps may be taken for securing an amendment of the Constitution, and the enactment of industrial legislation which wil) operate uniformly throughout the States.
.- During the speech of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports I interjected that the report of the Victorian Factories Commission showed that the conditions existing in Tasmania were worse than those prevailing in Victoria. I was speaking from memory, and I have not yet been able to find any statements in proof of my assertion. Although the Commission went to New Zealand, I am doubtful whether thev took evidence in Tasmania. I am confident, however, that evidence was given before the Commission - whether by a Victorian manufacturer I cannot say - as to the serious competition to which Victorian employers were subjected from States in which no effective industrial legislation was in force. Very soon after the first Federal Parliament met, the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne brought forward a motion to the effect that we should ask the States Governments to hand over to the Commonwealth Parliament the work of passing industrial legislation. That resolution was agreed to in June, 1901 ; but the States either ignored pur request or declined to accede to it. I think that it is now time that steps were taken to ascertain the feeling of the people of the Commonwealth as to whether this Parliament should deal with legislation of that character. Sir William McMillan, when He was a member of this House, was not noteworth v as an extreme advocate of labour legislation, but, in speaking to the motion to which I have referred, he said -
Since we met in the Federal Convention, which framed this Commonwealth Constitution, there has been a very considerable evolution of thought with regard to certain matters that were then discussed. I confess myself that by reflection, and by listening to arguments, to be more convinced than previously of the necessity of in- eluding certain powers in the Commonwealth which we decided to leave in the States.
At a later stage of his speech he remarked -
I do not think those great subjects should be settled, except by a national Parliament.
He supported the motion. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports stated that some doubt existed as to whether Wages Boards or the Arbitration Court afforded the best means of settling trade disputes. Personally, I favour the Arbitration Court, although I am prepared to admit that it is slow in its operation. Its great virtue is that it affords protection to every employe’. Those who have had experience of Wages Boards know that time after time the workmen who have represented their fellow employes upon the Boards have been dismissed for standing up for their rights. The whole of the workmen who sat upon the first Wages Board in the butchering trade were dismissed, and the same thing took place in the fellmongery business. Some of the employers in that business who are now complaining that their trade has fallen away - and I regret the fact as much as any one - were the very first to close down their works, with a view to defeating the object of the Act. They declined at first tobe represented upon the Wages- Board of their trade, and when they were compelled to be represented on the Board, and wages and hours were fixed, they shut down their works and locked out their employes, as they desired to work them more than the eight hours per day fixed by the Wages Board, and threw the whole of their business into the hands of foreign buyers. These outsiders have now obtained such a firm hold of the market that the local manufacturers are very sorry that they ever took the unwise step to which I have referred. I consider that this Parliament, which has power to protect the employer, should also be able to take the employe under its sheltering wing. The honorable member for Bass urges that we should first exhaust all the powers we .now possess before we seek to obtain others, and he also suggests that if we ask the people to consent to one amendment of the Constitution, others, perhaps less desirable, will be brought about. Personally, I think it would be very difficult to bring about any amendment of the Constitution, because the electors will require a good deal of persuasion before they will vote in favour of any alteration. I shall certainly vote for the motion, because I think that it is in the last degree desirable that we should have uniformity in our industrial legislation.
.- When the- honorable member for Melbourne Ports first brought forward a proposal of this kind, it was my privilege to second it, and I have very much pleasure in supporting him now. But whilst I thoroughly agree with the- motion, I am not insensible to some of the difficulties which will have to be overcome before it can be rendered effective. In the first place, we shall have to secure the support of a majority of the electors in a majority of the States before we can exercise the power indicated in the motion:. Seeing that this Legislature deals with Customs legislation which has an important bearing upon the industrial life of the country, I am .satisfied that the electors will not hesitate to hand over to us the responsibility of dealing with industrial legislation in order that it may be made uniform throughout the Commonwealth. It is true that efforts have already been made by means of an Arbitration Act to assist the workers to obtain fair wages and other conditions ; but it is necessary that we should have further powers than those now conferred upon us in order that we may give to the workers complete protection. From the commencement, we should have been in the position to pass all the laws necessary to insure the protection of the employe as well as of the manufacturer, and we should now seek to render our control over the industrial affairs of the Commonwealth as effective as possible. The honorable member for Yarra reminds me that representations were made to the States with a view to securing their consent to the transfer of the control of industrial matters to the Commonwealth. The replies received from them were not, however, of the most satisfactory character. Nevertheless, they were what might have been fairly expected at that early stage of our history as a Federation. Even now, the States authorities are more or less jealous of the power of this Parliament, and it is not unusual to hear State Premiers and other gentlemen complaining bitterly, but without reason, of our actions. In these circumstances. I do not know whether we should, even at this stage, obtain. a very much more satisfactory set of replies than were vouchsafed upon the former occasion. The unfavorable attitude of the States should not, however, deter us from doing what we conceive to be our clear duty, namely, to pass such legislation as is necessary for the welfare of all those who are engaged in industrial pursuits. It may be said, as was stated in pre-Federation days, that if we pass legislation such as that contemplated, all sorts of ruinous results will be brought about! I have heard statements of that kind so frequently that I no longer attach any credence to them. Honorable members opposite have said with regard to almost every measure submitted to the House, that it would bring about disaster and ruin. If we had believed them, we should never have enacted any legislation of a progressive character. But we did pass the measures, and the result is that we have become more prosperous than ever. In the Victorian Legislature, in the old days, it was stated by many honorable members that Wages Boards and factory laws would result in undue interference with industrial concerns, and bring ruin in their train. It was represented that money would leave the State, that the workers would be thrown out of employment, and that the most awful cataclysm would ensue. But none of these things happened. 0,rt the contrary,’ from the very inception of these laws, a steady improvement took place, both in respect of the condition of the employes themselves, and that of the employers. Not one of the evil prophecies was fulfilled, but everybody was benefited. In Victoria the effect of such legislation was very good indeed, and from that fact, I am bound to argue that the ‘result would be equally beneficial in the case of the Commonwealth. The competition which can at present ensue between State and State on account of a lack of uniform industrial laws is bound, sooner or later, to bring a certain amount of inconvenience, if not of suffering, in its train. Let me give a simple illustration : Prior to Federation, Victoria had established a considerable trade in boots and shoes, and she still does the bulk of that trade. The industry was built up by reason of the protection which the Victorian Parliament had given it.
– New South Wales built up a considerable trade in boots without the aid of a protective Tariff.
– But her trade was not nearly so large as was that of Victoria. To-day, however, the condition of things is changing. As we all know, Queensland is a State which deals largely in cattle.
Every year she exports an enormous quantity of tinned meat. All the hides which* come from beasts slaughtered for that purpose, could be converted into leather, andi when the Queenslanders realize that, they will turn them into leather, and will convert the leather into boots and shoes.. When that time comes - if the Queensland? manufacturers are not placed under the same or similar industrial conditions tothose existing in Victoria, more particularly with regard to Wages Boards - they will easily be able to command the market of the Commonwealth. If, for argument’s sake, they are in a position toemploy operatives in the boot trade at £2 per week, whilst the average rate in the other States is £3 per week, they wilt enjoy a most decided’ advantage. What istrue of that particular trade is equally trueof other industries which might be named. Consequently, the necessity exists for making our industrial laws uniform throughout the States. But when I speak of uniform laws, I do not say that they necessarily involve the payment of uniform rates of* wages. It is quite possible to have uniform* laws in respect of industrial pursuitswithout having uniform rates of wages. There are quite a number of things whichwill require to be taken into account indetermining the rates of wages. For instance, there are climatic conditions, the differences which exist between the rate* of interest payable upon capital borrowed, and the price of living in the various States. Everybody is aware that in Western Australia, money is dearer than it is in NewSouth Wales and Victoria; that rent ishigher, and that living costs more. Consequently, it is absolutely necessary, if weare to preserve an equilibrium - that therate of wages paid in that State should behigher than it is in Victoria or New SouthWales. These matters will need to be taken into account when we come to consider the question of uniform industrial’ laws for the Commonwealth. I do not shut my eyes to the difficulties which surround that proposition, or to the dangerswhich will arise from any attempt to institute uniform laws for the Commonwealth .
– Is the honorablemember attempting to block the temperancemotion of the honorable member for Cowper?
– Obviously. It is a great pity. I am surprised at the honorablemember.
– I am surprised at the zeal which some honorable members display in advocating the cause of the honorable member for Cowper in his absence.
– There is an. honorable member present who has received instructions from the honorable member for Cowper.
– No “doubt. In the meantime I have a right which I propose to exercise on behalf of my constituents, and I am not to. be drawn off the thread of my argument by the rude interruptions of the honorable member for Wentworth. It is more than probable that when we come to enact uniform industrial laws for the. Commonwealth, the Wages Board system will have to give way to the Arbitration Court. If that be so, we shall require to be very careful that the great advantages which have been won for the workers of Victoria are not wrested from them, and that the. benefits, which they enjoy are extended’ to the whole of Australia. Of course, I am aware that there are other methods of settling this difficulty besides those provided by awards of the Arbitration Court or of Wages Boards. Upon a memorable occasion, the right honorable member for East Sydney told us how he would settle all the. industrial differences of the Commonwealth. His statement was that, “ in the plentitude of time, when our millions of population have become tens of millions, we shall have a crop of misery which will solve the difficulty in regard to cheap manufactures.” That is not the way in which we propose to settle the difficulty.
– Does the honorable member call that a fair quotation?
– lt is an absolutely true one.
– In the way in which the honorable member puts it, it is absolutely untrue
– I call your attention, sir, to the fact that the honorable member has declared that my statement is untrue.
– If the honorable member for ‘Bourke regards the remark as offensive, I am sure that the honorable member for Parramatta will withdraw it.
– I withdraw it.
– I made a quotation from the records of Parliament - a quotation which can be verified - and if the honorable member for Parramatta- says that it is untrue he places me in a very awkward position.
– The way in which the honorable member put it amounts to an absolute misrepresentation.
– The honorable member did not say that at first. If it is a misrepresentation, he will have an opportunity of putting the matter right when I resume my seat. The method proposed by the right honorable member for East Sydney to effect an improvement in the conditions of Australia is not our method.
– Neither did he say that it was his.
– He proposes no other method, and the consequence is that until we enact uniform industrial laws throughout the Commonwealth, fiscal legislation will not confer very much benefit upon the workers generally. It would be all very well if the employers who benefit by the protection extended to them would grant a corresponding measure of advantage to their employes. But, unfortunately, we know from experience that many employers are too prone to take advantage of their workmen. For years I have been connected with the Anti-Sweating League of Victoria, and I have known many instances in which employers have not scrupled to take advantage of their employes.
– Will the honorable member let me have the quotation which he made ‘from the speech of the right honorable member for East Sydney ?
– Certainly. I desire to build up in Australia a sturdy set of people whose prospects will be even better and brighter than those which are now enjoyed. That end can in part be accomplished by the enactment of uniform industrial laws, and, although I recognise the many difficulties which lie in the way of securing an amendment of the Constitution, I am net to be deterred from performing my duty in making an honest effort to improve the conditions of those persons throughout the Commonwealth who live by their labour.
– This is not a question upon which I have consulted my colleagues, and, consequently, address myself to it from my own individual stand-point. The proposal is not simply that uniform industrial laws should be adopted as to which we should probably all agree, but further, that all necessary steps should be taken before the next general election to pass a Bill to secure an alteration of the Constitution. I am not blind to the fact that in supporting the motion - as I shall certainly do - I am indorsing the first proposition. I do not know whether the honorable member who has submitted it - and who hasevery right to be heard upon a question of this kind, to, which he has devoted many years of patient study and practical work - has any intention of proceeding further in the second direction. He must recognise that at this stage of the session, and under existing circumstances, his opportunities of doing so are likely to be very limited.
– Then he should withdraw the motion.
– That is a matter for his judgment and not for ours ; but, meanwhile, the motion reads -
That, in the opinion of this House, all necessary steps should be taken, before any general election, to pass a Bill, &c.
Speaking for myself, I concur in the rest of the motion, though not binding my colleagues to its exact terms. It appears to me to be one of the inevitable developments of Federation. There are a series of provisions in the Constitution which, taken together, render necessary some such addition as the motion suggests, to give them their full force and effect, and to round off the industrial portion of our powers. For instance, there is that great and almost indefinable area which is covered under the heading of “ trade and commerce,” the most immediate effect of which has been attained by the passing of Tariff laws. But, in addition to that, which enables us to control the general conditions under which Australian industries are carried on, we find ourselves, in conciliation and arbitration matters, introduced further into the arena. Here we are faced with problems with which it is impossible to cope except by a study of industrial conditions, and by determinations having an industrial effect. The exercise of any power relating to conciliation and arbitration necessarily forces the Commonwealth into the industrial field - and, indeed, has done so already. Then, again, the control that we exercise overall trading or financial corporations, is another point at which we touch - and are likely in future to touch even more closely - many branches of production.
The tendency to transfer great undertakings from the control of individuals to that of limited companies marks a familial developmentin industrial affairs. Nor can we exclude from our view the more indirect relation between old-age pensions and the subject under discussion. Altogether, without looking at our remaining powers, such as those relating to taxation, or the granting of bounties for industrial development,and a number of others which more or less impinge upon this question, an examination of the present position of the Commonwealth in relation to industrial affairs will show that it is, as yet, imperfect. It points clearly to a greater, though gradual, assumption of authority, in order that we may give full effect to the powers which the Commonwealth already possesses, and exercise effective control from an Australian point of view. This Parliament has been by no means blind to its obligations in this regard. Quite recently, we passed a measure in which direct reference is made to the industrial conditions obtaining in Australia. Under the heading of “ The Commonwealth Trade Mark,” we have in the Trade Marks Act, passed last session, recognised the present unsatisfactory want of uniformity in our industrial affairs, requiring us to proceed in a very indirect manner to accomplish a very plain end. Under section 78 the Commonwealth trade mark may be applied to all goods, in respect of which, in the opinion of Parliament - the conditions as to the remuneration of labour in connexion with their manufacture are fair and reasonable.
Under sub-section 2, it is provided that where the conditions are laid down by the States as to the remuneration of labour - prescribed, required, or provided in relation to the goods, by an industrial award or order, or an industrial agreement under an industrial law the Commonwealth trade mark may also be applied. Where those conditions do not exist that trade mark cannot be applied. This cumbrous form had to be adopted by the Parliament, because of the present limitation of its power. It is, nevertheless, an indication of its intention, as far as its authority permits, to mark its sense of the necessary imposition of certain industrial conditions everywhere which shall be equitable to the labourer as well as to the employer. There is also before another place at the present time a measure which recently left this Chamber, the Australian Industries Preservation Bill. Its keynote may be said to be the distinguishing between industries in which civilized industrial conditions have been established, and those in which they are not in force. The inadequate remuneration of labour disqualifies appeals to it. It preserves industries which merit preservation because of the conditions under which they are carried on. Its provisions against unfair competition are amongst its most prominent features. Thus in the exercise of our existing powers we have found ourselves from time to time confronted by the necessity of dealing with the different conditions that obtain in the different States. I am far from assuming that an attempt should be made to rigidly apply precisely the same industrial regulations to the whole of Australia. We have to recognise that, in this vast Continent, there are already manifest certain variations of various kinds, which would render different remuneration necessary, in order that there should be an actual, instead of a merely nominal, equality in the wages paid in different parts of the Commonwealth. Other conditions as to hours and times of work might also be varied without any departure from a fair rule. We have to recognise that, even with our present population, the simplicity of municipal control is not possible federally, since our people live under widely different conditions in several parts of Australia. At present, top, we are faced bv something beyond these natural contrasts; we are faced by contrasts in policy, and in the manner in which industrial conditions are sought to be regulated, or, in some of the States, by an absence of regulation of any kind. In dealing with industrial measures we have been confronted with the difficulties created by the existence of- these marked contrasts in States laws. I have always held that, in the circumstances peculiar to our Constitution as it is - accepting the responsibility which it places upon us - we are and shall be compelled, in discharging our duties to ‘our constituents, to face industrial conditions and circumstances. Evidently it is not possible for us to deal adequately with the problems already presented while we are faced with six different sets of industrial conditions in as many different States. I look forward in the future to the inevitable assumption by the Commonwealth - as an agency for the people of Australia - of a greater control over any industrial conditions at present beyond its reach. It does not. rest with this Parliament to say when it will be conferred, nor the extent to which it will be given. Both these questions require to be decided by the electors at a general election when thev have been distinctly appealed to, and when a definite proposition has been submitted to them. I do not know that as yet this question has been discussed outside the Parliament in any systematic or persistent manner. Although in this Chamber it has recurred from time to time, this is the. first occasion on which an attempt has been made to push it to a directly practical issue. The honorable member who fathers the motion and has commended it to the House is probably more closely in touch with the industrial conditions of this State than is any one else in or out of it. I do not know, however, whether his knowledge of the industrial conditions in other States, and the sentiments of those affected bv them, approaches that which he undoubtedly possesses of those in “Victoria. I question whether there has yet been sufficient public elucidation of the necessity for this advance, or a clear delimitation of the change proposed. I do not know whether there has been such an exposition of the case for a change as would entitle us to expect to put this question at the next general election, with that certainty of receiving a favorable answer which the honorable member must desire. I make this statement lest my ‘support to the motion be misunderstood. I am in hearty agreement with its principle, because I regard it as the necessarily logical development of the Constitution. The Constitution is to-day imperfect on its industrial side, and can be completed only by an advance in this direction. I also approve of the principle, because I share the considerations which have affected honorable members who have preceded me, and adopt many of their arguments, which, to save time, I shall not repeat. I agree with them that, having regard to the uniformity of conditions we are establishing as far as possible under the Tariff, the Trade Marks Act, and the Australian Industries Preservation Bill, the people of Australia ha.ve a special .claim upon this Parliament for uniformity of industrial legislation. These Bills deal, and are bound to deal, from our stand-point, with Australian industry. That term covers the whole of the manufacturers and employers of the Commonwealth. They all are Australian, and we are able only by the most cumbersome methods to distinguish between the diverse conditions under which they are now working. We can continue to exercise our present powers fruitfully only when dealing with Australian industries established on the same basis, and conducted in the same manner. Until some change is brought about, our industrial efforts may be crippled, and the discharge of the powers we already have, impeded. It therefore appears natural that the electors of Australia, when more fully informed on this subject - and when more united in taking the necessary action towards its achievement - will press upon their representatives, as no doubt some of them have already done, the necessity of bringing about this uniformity without further delay. When that time comes I shall be well content, if it is my fortune to be able to join, in recommending to them an extension of the Commonwealth powers that will permit of our making uniform industrial laws. The movement is at present in the educational stage. The education of the people must continue some time longer before we can hope that an appeal to -them will receive the overwhelming support which I think it should get. The honorable member’s motive is excellent. My honorable colleagues will exercise their right of private judgment in regard to the motion, though I believe all of them are in accord. Personally, I shall support it as necessary to the completion of the Constitution, and’ essential to the exercise of the industrial powers which our people wish to be employed on their behalf, and for their benefit.
.- Seeing the importance of the motion, I am astonished that during the past two years the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and the Prime Minister have taken so little interest in the matter with which it deals. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports moved a similar motion in the session before last, and brought the matter forward again at the end of last session. Now he asks us, a third time, to deal with it when, we are within two months of a dissolution, ar.d the Prime Minister, who says he is in favour of it. admits that it is impossible to give effect to it. If the education- of the people is needed, why has the subject not been seriously discussed before this, seeing that the motion has been on the business-paper - and practically buried* - for nearly two years ?
– It has been brought forward for discussion at the earliest possible moment; it has not been buried.
– The attitude of the honorable member and of the Prime Minister in regard to this matter of great national importance is the most extraordinary piece of make-believe that I have ever heard of in connexion with an. Australian Parliament. Both honorable gentlemen admit the importance of the question, and yet it has been allowed to slumber for two years, and is row brought forward at a time when the Prime Minister says that it is impossible to give practical effect to it. I am in sympathy with attempts to make the Federation more productive of good than it has been so far. I am not one of those who wish to restrict the powers of the Commonwealth, but, as was hinted by the Prime Minister, this is a most inopportune time to ask the people of Australia to extend our powers. Their disposition, at present is - perhaps, unfortunately - unfavorable to any such extension. But, notwithstanding the importance of the subject, and the fact that it has been before Parliament for nearly two years, the Ministry have never considered it, and the Prime Minister has had to declare that he can speak for himself alone, because he does not know what the views of his .colleagues are. A proposal for am amendment of the Constitution cannot be entertained until the Ministry have arrived at a decision in regard to it, and are prepared to introduce a Bill to give effect to it ; because it is a ‘condition precedent to any such alteration that a Bill proposing it shall be passed through both Houses of Parliament before its submission to the electors. Surely it is the dutv of a Government, when a motion of this importance is placed on the notice-paper, to consider what action they shall take in regard to it. The position of the Ministry is-
– Go as you please.
– I do not say that. I do not say that the Government will not ultimately consider this matter. But they have not hitherto paid the honorable member for . Melbourne Ports the compliment of considering it, although he believes that it affects the welfare of thousands of our working men. The Government have not given considerate treatment to this vastly important subject. One of the difficulties connected with the proposal is that fit is too vague. It is impossible to say what legislation would not be embraced -within the term “ industrial laws.” Legislation affecting the management of the agricultural industry and the land problems of Australia might be so embraced. The Prime Minister raised one of the greatest difficulties when he suggested that the vastness of Australia makes it almost impossible to apply uniform laws to our industries. That view of the subject must receive consideration. No doubt, uniformity of law is, under ordinary circumstances, extremely desirable.
– Uniformity of law does not necessarily mean uniformity of conditions.
– Where conditions are not uniform, I do not see how you can fairly have uniformity of law. If we pay regard to the differences of conditions “throughout Australia, we cannot have uniformity of law, because we must distingush between the conditions of an industry in one part of the Continent and those of an “industry in another part: The course proposed by the honorable member would be valueless if the Common wealth obtained power to make only uniform industrial laws, (because it would be impossible for us to pass industrial laws which did not take into account the difference in the conditions prevailing throughout the Commonwealth, and the mandate of the people would have been -to pass uniform industrial laws.
– We might pass a uniform law creating Wages Boards, and those Boards would take into consideration local conditions and circumstances.
– That is a very fair answer -to my objection. The law might be uniform, and yet its application might differ according to conditions. But the difficulties to which the honorable member for Bourke” has referred would still remain. He pointed out that in Queensland^ where they have marvellous pastoral resources, factories may be established to make hides into boots, and contended that the Commonwealth should pass a law to place the bootmaking industry of Queensland under the same regulations as govern the bootmaking industry of Victoria. That would be the application of a uniform law- in a uniform way. The Minister of Trade and Customs has had a good deal to say about dumping; but. when I was in Queensland the other day, I found that, although the “honorable gentleman considers that the Commonwealth suffers from the dumping in Australia of goods produced in distant parts of the world, the people of that State complain that they suffer from the dumping, not of foreign, but of Victorianmade goods. I was told by leading business men there that their factories have suffered, owing to the increased importation of goods manufactured in Melbourne, and possibly in Sydney, too, where, the markets being larger, the manufacturing is on a bigger scale than is possible further north.
– I ask the right honor, able member not to discuss the subject of dumping.
– Then I shall postpone my remarks in regard to- it until another occasion. I wish to take the opportunity which the honorable member for Bourke has given me to repel one of the meanest and foulest slanders which has ever been uttered against a public man in Australia. My words have been quoted with a view to show that I anticipate with pleasure and desire the time when we shall have pauper labour in Australia. No viler or fouler injustice has ever been done to a public man. The workers of New South Wales have never had that opinion of me, as has been shown by the support which I have received from them. I referred merely to the difficulties of which Australian protectionists are speaking at the present time. Why is protection asked for? Is it not in order to keep out of Australia the goods produced by the cheap labour obtainable in the overcrowded countries of the old world? Is not the barrier of protective duties alleged to be necessary to keep out the cheap labour not only of Belgium and of Germany, but even of England? In dealing with that argument, I have based my free-trade views on the principle that we should avoid competition with the pauper labour employed in the industries of overcrowded countries, by devoting ourselves to the development of the great natural industries which our enormous resources and advantages enable us to carry on so profitable, leaving it to time to gradually produce the industries which bring into play the riper forms of human ingenuity. I have pointed out, not as something to look forward to with pleasure, but as an evil attendant upon overcrowding, that as our population increases, and labour becomes superabundant, we shall suffer as other countries have suffered, and our working people will not be able to command the wages which we desire that they shall have.
Consequently poverty, such as we see among the growing millions of the United States to-day, will be created here. In that country labour, is already in many places in a degraded state, because of the enormous surplus available. My complaint is that my statement, that the condition of things which I have described is one which we should try to avoid, has been tortured to make it appear that I would greatly rejoice if it should come about, and that I wish to see human suffering.
– I shall have to make further quotations from the same speech, in order to prove my case.
-Surely the honorable member does not think that I have any such desire. Surely he does not carry his political differences so far as that?
– They are mean enough for anything on that side.
-I do not take that view; but my words have been ingeniously twisted in order to make it appear that I am anxious to bring about a condition of suffering for our people, when I have really tried to prevent it by advocating the development of our natural resources, which will give Australian labour the highest rewards.
– America, with her eyes open, imported cheap labour.
– It is a reproach to protectionist America that the manufacturers, and not the workers, have received the benefits of the Tariff.
– The importation to which I refer has brought about a great deal of the poverty there.
– What I complain of is that my expression of regret that poverty will come as our millions increase has been tortured into the expression of a desire to reduce Australian labour to a condition in which none of us would like to see it.
Debate (on motion toy Mr. Carpenter) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.30 p.m.
– I move - .
That in lieu of the following duties of Customs -
Spirits and spirituous compounds, n.e.i., when not exceeding the strength of proof, per gallon … 14s.
Dutiable goods. Duties
Case spirits in cases of two gallons, and under to be charged as two gallons ; over two gallons, and not exceeding three gallons, as three gallons; over three gallons, and not exceeding four gallons, as four gallons, and so on.
– This motion has been sprung upon the Committee.
– Such motions always have to be.
– It is not usual to spring business on honorable members in this way. It is usual to give honorable members notice, even when the Tariff is to be dealt with, but, of course, I understand that no revelations can be made beforehand as to the nature of the duties to be imposed. Before the Commonwealth Tariff was introduced an intimation was given as to when it would be dealt with, although nothing was said as to the nature of the duties. So in this case I think that, without making any unnecessary disclosures, the Minister might have given us some intimation as to his intention.
– Then we should have had large clearances made in the meantime.
– I do not think so. The Prime Minister has been asked from time to time as to his intentions with regard to the reports of the Tariff Commission. He has never been called upon to give information as to the method in which they were to be dealt with, because it has been recognised that it would be improper for him to comply with any such request.
– In this case the public knew exactly what duties were to be dealt with.
– It does not follow that they would know what was intended to be done. They could not know what would be done by Parliament, and they have received no indication as to the intentions of Ministers, who were not bound to adopt the report of the Commission.
– Some members of the Opposition stated that they were willing to adopt any unanimous recommendation, of the Commission.
– That had nothing to do with the Ministry, who were not bound in any way.
– The proposal I have brought forward differs from the recommendation of the Commission.
– That in itself is an indication that Ministers were not bound by the report. Plenty of publicity has been given to the recommendations of the Tariff Commssion, and of the intention of the Government to deal with them at some time or other. If there had beenany intention on the part of importers or manufacturers to make clearances out of the ordinary, they would have got to work long before this.
SirJohn Forrest. - This action on our part is intended merely to protect the revenue.
– I am quite aware of that; but I think that we should have had some notice of the intention to bring the business forward. I do not know how far the Minister intends to proceed.
– I proposemerely to submit the motion.
– I hope that, the other reports of the Commission will not be sprung upon us as this one has been.
– They will be, ifthey are all like this.
– I still think that we should have had some intimation that it was intended to deal with the matter to-night.
– The Government intend to make certain proposals for the alteration of the duties on spirits, and in order to protect the revenue they have to suddenly come down and submit a proposal which will be their constitutional warrant for collecting the duties to-morrow. Of course, no one can possiblyobject to that. It is one of the difficulties of our system of Government that if that course be not adopted all sorts of frauds on the revenue may be perpetrated.
– It would not be a fraud.
– The honorable member is perfectly right in correcting me. I have been on an electioneering tour, and my language is, perhaps, a little too strong for my present environment. It would be a perfectly legitimate operation for merchants to increase their clearances if they knew what was going to take place. In support of the remarks of the honorable member for North Sydney, I would point out that, whilst for obvious reasons the Government could not allow any one outside the Cabinet to know what their intentions were until the Customs House was closed, I think that it would have been courteous for them to subsequently communicate their intentions to the leader of the Opposition or his representative. No harm could ensue from any such action on their part. It stands fairly to reason, and is in accord with precedent, that when the Government propose to make any alteration in the Tariff they alone have the right to make such a proposal, and that the House must, for the protection of the revenue, allow the resolution to be tabled. I feel sure, however, that my suggestion will be adopted in the future.
– Hear, hear !
– If notice is given, as I suggest, all the requirements of the case will be satisfied. As one of those responsible for the appointment of the Tariff Commission - I see that it has cost a considerable amount of’ money, which, I think, has not been mis-spent - I desire to saw that I am absolutely sure that the Commission will make a number of valuable suggestions which can be acceptedby both sides. I feel no sensation of regret at the appointment of the Commission. Honorable members on this side of the chamber have a sincere desire to facilitate the removal of any anomalies that the Commission may bring to light, and so far from the Government encountering any obstruction, I believe that, upon all matters that do not raise serious fiscal controversy, they will find the Opposition prepared to cheerfully assist them in improving the Tariff.
– I do not intend to say anything in criticism of the action of the Government, but I should like to know whether the Minister of Trade and Customs has, had prepared an estimate of the increased or decreased revenue that will result from the proposed new duties?
– I have the whole of the particulars ready tomy hand, but do not propose to lay them before honorable members until we proceed with the motion.
– The question is that the motion be agreed to.
– I cannot allow the motion to be agreed to, because that would close thediscussion. It is quite enough for the Government to submit the proposal, because that course, of itself, will give them the necessary authority for the collection of duties.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That in lieu of the duties of Excise imposed by the Excise Tariff 1902, on spirits, duties of Excise shall from the 2nd day of August, 1906, at 4.30 p.m., Victorian time, be imposed upon spirits as follows : -
Dutiable Goods. . Duties
– Before the resolutions are put, I should like you, sir, to consider the point that no proposal has been made to defer discussion upon the first resolution. Is it strictly in order to submit separate resolutions?
– One proposal relates to Customs duties, and the other to Excise duties.
– I am quite aware of that. All I desire is that our position shall be made perfectly clear. The ordinary practice is for the Treasurer to deliver his Budget speech, and then to submit a series of resolutions which are practically one resolution.
– In this Parliament two resolutions have always been submitted, one relating to Customs and the other to Excise duties.
-But I doubt whether it is competent for the Minister to move a second resolution, seeing that the first resolution has neither been postponed nor rejected nor adopted. It is merely a question of procedure which I desire to have settled. I hope that there will be no difficulty created, because I do not wish to make any trouble.
– I think that, so far as the Government are concerned, it is merely a question of taste as to the particular form in which they shall bring down these resolutions. I take it that they are practically one resolution. The practice which has been followed is that which has always been observed in this House, and the proposals of the Government are perfectly in order.
– Speaking to the resolution, I should like to point out that the Treasurer’s Budget was delivered only last week, and it is to be regretted that at that time these pro- posals were not tabled, so that honorable members might have been informed of their probable effect upon the revenue. If the Government have made any calculations of that character, it would materially assist the Committee in considering the resolutions at a later stage if the Minister at once gave honorable members the benefit of them. I do not ask the Minister to make a long speech ; but, as he must know, the public to-morrow will be very anxious to learnthe bearing of these resolutions upon the revenue.
– The recommendations of the Tariff Commission in respect of spirits would, if adopted in their entirety, have involved the Commonwealth in a loss of revenue ranging from £75,000 to £90,000. One reason why the Government have not adopted those recommendations is that we could not afford to lose that amount of revenue. Accordingly, we have raised the import duty upon spirits from 14s. to 15s. per gallon, and we have increased the Excise duty by1s. per gallon, so as to preserve a proper proportion between the two imposts.
– Do I understand that the Government proposals will not involve us in such a large loss as might otherwise arise?
– They will not involve the Commonwealth in nearly such a large loss of revenue, if, indeed, they involve it in any loss at all.
.- The right honorable member for East Sydney has stated that a great deal of good will result from the recommendations of the Tariff Commission, but it seems to me that the position taken up by that body and the Government in regard to the subjectmatters of these recommendations will lead to a great deal of manoeuvring. The procedure which’ has been adopted to protect the revenue will make certain individuals in the community even more prone to indulge in. speculation the moment it is known that the Tariff Commission has arrived at a particular conclusion in regard to any other matter. I take it that the Minister of Trade and Customs, during the past day or two, has been feeling the pulse if the commercial community upon the items enumerated in his resolution.
– I do not think that there is a single soul who knew anything whatever about the course which the Government intended to take.
– I dare say that the Customs officers felt that there were other people besides themselves who were keeping a sharp eye upon the recommendations of the Tariff Commission, and who, if they were not taking out of bond more goods than they would take under ordinary circumstances
– I do not think that any large quantity of spirits have been withdrawn from bond.
– If that be so, it is very creditable to the Government that they have been able to take action without sustaining a loss of revenue. I venture to say that the commercial community are watching the decisions of the Tariff Commission even more keenly than are honorable members.
– They will be a bit surprised to-morrow morning.
– I think that they will be more surprised when we come to deal with other items in the Tariff. If we deal with the Tariff in a piecemeal fashion, I fear that there will be a great deal of speculative action on the part of the commercial classes, despite all that we can do to prevent it. I am glad to hear that, so far, the revenue has not suffered.
– I heartily agree with the remarks of the honorable member for Wide Bay. It is a disadvantage to deal with the reports of the Tarff Commission in a piecemeal way. But I would point out that the lines with which the Government are now dealing affect our own people more than will any subsequent report of the Commission, because they deal with Excise duties. I quite admit that various importing firms are very carefully watching the progress of the Tariff Commission’s labours, and that they are closely noting what is being said from both sides of this Chamber regarding the attitude which will be adopted when the recommendations of that body are brought before the House. I am sorry that such statements have been made because there is no doubt that they injuriously affect the revenue. I think that the discussion which has taken place in this Chamber furnishes one of the most potent arguments against dealing in a piecemeal manner with such an important matter as the Tariff.
.- After all the clamour which we heard in favour of remedying the misfortunes of Australian manufacturers, it really takes my breath away to hear one of the champions of the distressed Victorian manufacturers deprecating a proposal to provide them with a remedy without delay.
– -That is not so. I am prepared to deal with the Tariff to-night.
– That is a wonderful sort of fiscal valour to exhibit. The honorable member knows perfectly well that it is impossible to proceed with the consideration of the Tariff proposals to-night, because we have not the reports of the Tariff Commission before us.
– I am prepared to deal with them in the absence of those, reports. The right honorable member has no right to misrepresent me.
– I never dreamed in my wildest moments that the honorable member would suggest that the Government should deal with the Tariff without having the recommendations of the Tariff Commission before them. That is an imputation which I would not level against even my bitterest opponent.
– I deprecated a piecemeal treatment of the Tariff.
– It is very singular that the honorable member does not welcome the efforts of the Government to deal at the earliest possible moment with subjects which can be dealt with. The reports of the Tariff Commission in reference to spirits have been in the hands of the Government for some time, and I think that the latter are acting sensibly in putting all the recommendations to hand in a business form before the Committee.
– The very fact that the adoption of that course suits the right honorable member is the greatest argument against it.
– That is worthy of the eloquence of the honorable member upon the subject of patent pills. I do not think that that is quite a dignified attitude for him to adopt in reference to my remarks. I should like to add to what the honorable member for Wide. Bay has said that there is no doubt a difficulty in the way of the Government - I refer to the danger of speculation in view of possible Tariff proposals. That danger, however, is one which is insuperable in connexion with any alteration of the Tariff.
– I referred to speculation consequent upon decisions of the Tariff Commission .
– That is one of the special difficulties of the position.
– It is a difficulty which has largely arisen from the declarations which have been made from both sides of the Chamber.
– But so far, the Minister has assured us that he has seen no movement at the Customs House in the direction indicated.
– Besides, the commercial community do not know whether or not the Government intend to accept the recommendations of the Tariff Commission.
– That is so. Very frequently the Customs Department gets the benefit of .these commercial speculations. It secures thousands of pounds that it would not otherwise obtain. If the Government contemplate any changes, and if they note any movement in the Customs in the direction of the withdrawal of goods from bond, I am quite sure that we can look to them to act with great promptitude. They can come down to this House upon any day - with the exception of the period between Friday and Tuesday - with proposals to protect the revenue, and I am quite sure that honorable members will support them in taking any such action. Even if they took action for the purpose indicated, upon any day between Friday and Tuesday, I am satisfied that honorable members would stand by them. We must look to the Government to watch the transactions at the Customs House, and if they detect any evidence of an attempt to forestall them we must rely upon them to put the matter upon a right footing. I am thoroughly convinced that honorable members would support the Government in giving, prompt attention to the public interests in such circumstances.
Debate resumed from 31st July (vide page 2053), on motion by Sir William Lyne -
Th.it the Bill be now read a second time.
– In the Bill now before us,’ we have a proposal to grant bounties for the production of a variety of articles, some of which already receive considerable encouragement under the Tariff Others receive a. smaller measure of encouragement from that source, whilst others again are on the free-list. I may say at once that I much prefer the granting of bounties to the imposition of protective duties as a means of encouraging production. In the first place, a bounty is not usually as permanent as a duty, nor does it increase the cost of the article to the user, although, in almost every instance, that is the effect of a protective Customs duty. My objection to bounties - and there is an objectionable side to the system - is that they often reach the wrong person, that they do not often effect their purpose, for even the production of articles after the determination to grant a bounty in respect of them is not always the direct result of the assistance so offered. Then, again, there is a danger of a bounty being followed by the imposition of heavy duties, which, when applied to materials entering into other manufactures, may necessitate an increase in the measure of protection granted to those manufactures. Honorable members, whether they favour or oppose the system, or are doubtful as to its efficacy, will have to consider on their merits the proposals of the Minister. They will have to examine this measure to discover whether the products which it is proposed to encourage are such as it is desirable to produce in Australia; whether the production of other articles might not be more worthy of encouragement ; whether the proposals will be effective; and finally, whether, the encouragement proposed will be as effective as other methods might be. In dealing with this question, I feel that we are indebted to the honorable member for Echuca, who made an admirable, interesting,, and instructive speech, on the motion for the second reading of the Bill. His recent visit to the United States of? America enabled him to give us first-hand information as to the latest methods adopted for the encouragement of production in that vast territory. The information he gave us as to the success of some of these methods, and the desirableness of introducing them here, should cause us to give very careful consideration to his recommendations. The question of the establishment of a Federal Agricultural Bureau, to which the honorable member referred, was debated at an earlier stage in the history of this Parliament. I quite agree with the honorable member that such a bureau, properly established, would be of great service to the Commonwealth, and would do more to encourage production - and especially the raising of products yet new to Australia - than would anything else. We should have to act in association with the States ; I should not be in favour of a Federal Department of Agriculture which would duplicate the work of the States. The field operations, as well as the work of practical cultivation, subject, of course, to scientific instruction, would have to be left to the experimental stations, under the control of the States. But the results obtained in the United States furnish us with an illustration of what can be accomplished in addition to the practical work by means of a highly scientific central staff dealing with matters that are not purely local. The difficulty with some of the States is that, whilst they have experimental stations and instructors to attend to the practical work of their Departments of Agriculture, some of them are unable to deal with the higher scientific work, which requires the attention of a considerable staff fully versed in the science of agriculture. Some of the States are either unable to add such a branch to their Departments of Agriculture or to employ a sufficiently large staff of high-class officers. Even if they were, the position would be- that we should have six separate staffs established at great cost, whereas one central staff could do the work which is not purely local, at much less expense. I think that the Commonwealth should assist the States in searching the world for trees and plants, not now growing in the Commonwealth, which would be likely to increase our productive assets, and largely benefit our producers. That would be a useful work, and the Commonwealth could undertake it. We could introduce such trees and plants, and send them to the experimental stations throughout Australia, where the results secured in different climates and in different soils could be noted. But, whilst the Parliament has indicated fairly strongly its desire that the Ministry should move in this direction, we find that the old method of granting bounties has been brought forward, and is to anticipate, at all events, a movement along the lines I have indicated. I do not think that any honorable member will say that the encouragement of the products mentioned in the Bill is undesirable, but I think there will be a difference of opinion on the question of whether or not their production is more desirable than that of other things, and whether some of really greater importance have not been neglected. In the report which the Minister has furnished the House, and on which, he has informed us,, the Bill was largely framed, there are some remarks about other products, one or two of which are of even greater importance than some of those which are to be the subject of bounties. For instance, we find, in regard to the introduction and planting of foreign timbers, the statement that “ This might stand over for the present.” There is nothing of more pressing importance to the Commonwealth than the replacing of those assets which we are so extravagantly sacrificing, first of all by the restoration of our Australian timbers, and secondly, by the introduction of foreign timbers which are yielding large revenues to the people of other lands. The fact that nothing has been done in that direction is a reflection on Australia, and if the Commonwealth Parliament can do anything to remove that reflection it should do so in conjunction with the States. It is a reflection on Australia that, in the course of settlement - and I admit that it cannot always be avoided - we destroy large quantities of magnificent and valuable timber, and that whilst we lose that timber and part with our asset in the shape of the land, we do nothing in the direction of replanting with similar timbers other lands of little use, so’ that our forests may be maintained for the use of future generations. Further than that, I think there is a vast field in Australia for the introduction of trees that have been found very valuable in other countries, and the products of which we are importing to a very large extent.
– As for instance?
– As for instance, the corkwood of Spain - a most valuable tree. We have a native cork of a similar species. The Spanish cork tree grows well in gardens and plantations in Australia, and we have, in various parts, a climate and soil similar to those of the districts of Spain in which it flourishes. The tree is one of the most valuable assets which the Kingdom of Spain possesses, and by its introduction here we could, in the course of time, not only supply our own needs, but also export largely to -other parts of .the world. The demand for cork is growing. The present supply is not more than equal to the demand, and bids fair to be unequal’ to it in the future. Then we import a large quantity of soft timbers. Why should we not plant on some: of our less valuable land the trees, from which these can be cut? B,y doing so, we should not only gain an advantage in not having to import our supplies of soft timber, but if the: trees were grown in the interior, close to towns, should also save the cost of conveying from the sea-board. In this way, we should obtain within twenty-five or thirty years an asset of enormous valueBut, instead of building up valuable resources, with a view to meeting our liabilities, we are parting with our assets, and piling up debts.
– There is a difficulty in the way of doing what the honorable member proposes; because the Commonwealth does not control the administration of land’ ‘ matters.
– The Government of the States, being the owners of the land of Australia, must, of course, aid in the action necessary to carry out the policy which I suggest. But the Commonwealth, by the establishment of a . central agricultural bureau, might give encouragement to the proposal, and- assist in carrying it into .effect by arranging for the importation of trees, and by providing for experiments in different places. There is no direction in which a central agricultural bureau could more profitably turn its energies than in endeavouring to replace our disappearing forests with useful timber trees. At Ballarat, the water reserve was, years ago, planted with pinus insignis, a tree of very little value as timber ; but when it was recently thought well to call for tenders for thinning out the forest which had sprung up, and purchasing the surplus timber, a firm of manufacturers in this State, of whom we have heard a great deal lately, gave, I believe, £6, 000 for it, and used it to their ownprofit for the making of packing cases, it being hardly suitable for other use. That is an instance of an advantage gained: by making a small plantation of trees POSsessing little- value as timber. If we successfully encourage the planting of really valuable timber trees, we shall do moregood for the Commonwealth than can. be hoped for from any of the. bounty proposals of the Government. An asterisk is placed before some of the articles- mentioned inthe report,, and. a note attached tothe effect that they are mostly tropical products, the giving of a bounty for whose production might be better left for consideration until the conditions of the Northern Territory and New Guinea are receiving special attention. That is rather a curious reason for omitting certain products, and giving preference to others which are equally tropical. Some of the products which have been omitted would better have been inserted than some of those which appear. The next question to consider is whether. the encouragement offered bv the measure will be really effective in establishing industries. I am afraid that in many cases it will not. I do not anticipate much from the giving of small bounties for the production of cocoa, coffee, cotton, canned fish, condensed milk, rubber, and rice. It is proposed to give a bounty of id. per lb. for the production of cocoa and coffee, which is small in comparison with the cost, the bounty offered for coffee being only one-third of the present duty. If coffee cannot be grown profitably under the present duty - I do .not say that it cannot - I do not think that a bounty of id. per lb. will make coffee- -growing a profitable industry. A bounty of £d. per lb. of seed1 cotton is offered for the production of cotton!; but, if I were favorable to the offering of bounties, I would propose a larger inducement.
– The proposed. bounty is equal to about 10 per cent.
– Yes ; but it must be remembered that cotton-growing is a new industry in Australia, and that comparatively low prices rule in other parts of the world. The bounty offered for the production of some of the articles mentioned will be given for only a year or two.
– That does not apply to the proposed bounty on coffee.
– The proposed bounty on coffee not yet .grown will have effect for about six years, but the proposed bounty on rubber will have effect for only a year or two, and I do not think that it will be a sufficient inducement for the establishment of the industry.
– A bounty of 10 per cent, is surely something. I should like to hear the honorable member discuss a proposal to impose a duty of 10 per cent.
– I might approve of 10 per cent, as a rate for a revenue duty, but I might not regard it as a. protective duty, and any one who advo cated it as a protective dutv would have to show that it would be sufficient to bring: about the establishment of an industry here.
– There is no analogy. A bounty is a direct incentive, and is givento the producer, while a duty may not goto the producer.
– Bountiesdo not always reach those for whom they are intended, and are temporary, whereas,, although duties may be temporary, if the policy of a country is protective they arelikely to have force so long as- that policy remains unchanged. A bounty of Jd. per lb. is to be given for the production of canned fish. I am acquainted with thecircumstances under which the canning of fish was undertaken: in New South Wales,, and I know that the cost exceeded what could be obtained for the fish by morethan Jd. per lb-
– Still, it amounts to 10 percent.
– Yes ; but I fear that the Ministry will find that thev have frittered away a great deal of money,, and have obtained very little practical result.
– The money cannot be spent: unless the articles for which the bounty is claimed are produced.
– The production may cease when the bounty ceases,, or even before. The proposed bounty on riceis to be £1 a ton. The present duty on undressed rice amounts to about £3 15s. per ton, and, as that duty has not encouraged the production of rice in Australia, I donot think a bounty which amounts to an increase of one-fourth will, have the effect of doing so. A considerable quantity of rice was produced in Queensland, but theindustry was commenced under a duty of about £9 per ton, or id. per lb. Cheaplabour was employed, because the work was taken in hand by Chinamen. I believe that the industry is now beinggradually abandoned. I am told that in spite of the duty of £3 15s. per ton, theproduction is decreasing. Therefore, a bounty of £1 per ton is not likely to afford any great encouragement. In respect to some of the items dealt with in the Bill, it seems to me that the bounty is; hardly needed. I think that it has already been proved that condensed milk can be produced profitably in Victoria - I understand1 that it has also been produced in other States.
– The local production is very small. We import £200,000 worth of condensed milk, and produce locally between £20,000 and £30,000 worth.
– I thought that we produced more than that. However, if the production is profitable, and I presume that it is, the difficulty of establishing the industry has apparently been solved, and the work of the original producers only needs to be followed up to result in an extension of trade. Then in regard to New Zealand flax, that commodity is being produced to some extent in Victoria. I believe that about 1,500 acres are under cultivation. It is also produced in New Zealand. It is known that it will grow satisfactorily in Victoria, and the growers are well acquainted with the processes followed in the production in New Zealand. Surely, therefore, a profitable industry can be carried on here as in New Zealand without a bounty. Then I notice that abounty is proposed to be given for the production of sisal hemp, which is supposed to be a very profitable article. It is now being grown in Queensland. According to the officer who has reported upon, the subject the crop is so profitable in Mexico that the growers there have all become enormously wealthy, many of them being millionaires. He says -
Roughly speaking, . what cost $1 to produce, sells for $4.
Thai is thereport presented to us by the Minister of Trade and Customs, and it shows that the crop yields a. bounteous result. That being so, I cannot see the necessity tor any bounty. Certainly in rela tion to the alleged profits, the proposed bounty is trifling.
– That report merely goes to show that sisal hemp is a marketable and valuable commodity in other markets of the world.
– There should be no necessityfor the payment of a bonus to encourage farmers to grow such a profitable crop. Olive oil, coffee, and rubber, are in somewhat the same category. Coffee has already been grown here, and olive oil is being produced successfully. I believe the imports of olive oil are decreasing, and as the olive tree grows exceedingly well here, there should be no difficulty in meeting the requirements of our markets by means of local production. The success ful production of rubber depends entirely upon the suitability of climate - and there is no doubt that our climate is suitable - the use of proper varieties and the adoption of proper methods of cultivation. Rubber is now being grown in Queensland, and as the price of rubber is high, and likely to increase, there should be no question as to the profit to be derived. Some of the articles in respect to which it is proposed to pay a bounty, will occupy ten years in production. In the case of rubber, fifteen years may elapse before any appreciable amount can be claimed by way of bounty. The Bill is intended to extend over only ten years and, therefore, the rubber industry cannot be benefited to any great extent by this measure. I am glad to see that one item has been eliminated fromthe measure. The very fact that it was included in the first instance, indicates the carelessness with which some of these measures are drafted. I suppose that the Minister acted upon the reports of his officers, although I see no allusion to chicory in the documents before us. For many years that article has been locally produced to an extent sufficient to meet all our local requirements. Therefore, if a bounty had been offered it would have passed into the pockets of men who have been carrying on the industry profitably for a long time. I believe that chicory was first produced here forty years ago.
– Is all the chicory we require produced in Australia?
– Very nearly all. A small quantity is imported for use in bond when mixed coffees are prepared for export. If duty is paid on the imported chicory, drawback is allowed upon its exportation. It is astonishing to me that any one should have thought of including chicory within the scope of a measure of this kind, and I am very glad that the Minister has withdrawn the item. Then I notice that the reports are contradictory in many respects. I shall not refer to that matter any further at this stage, but may allude to it in Committee. The last point with which I wish to deal is. whether better results could not be obtained by other means than that of offering bounties. I have no hesitation in saying that, in regard to some ‘ articles, and especially those that are difficult of growth and have to be produced in the more tropical parts of Australia, the offer of a bounty does not often result in successful production.
It may have the effect of causing the abandonment of an industry that might otherwise be carried on with profitable results. For instance, men who embark upon enterprises with a view of earning a bounty are not, as a rule, possessed of much capital. Those who acquire money by following agricultural pursuits generally devote their attention to the production of articles with which they are well acquainted, and in the cultivation of which they have made their money. They are very rarely prepared to enter upon experiments, particularly in tropical latitudes, for the purpose of earning a comparatively small bounty. The consequence is that the new growers who are attracted into an industry by the offer of a bounty very often find themselves in difficulties at an early stage. In the first place, they are not acquainted with the methods of production, but have to gain their knowledge from others or from books ; and secondly, the methods that are successful in other countries are not always adapted to our conditions. A system of cultivation has to be adopted that is suited to our climatic and labour conditions, and to the differences in soils and seasons
– Sometimes the methods adopted here prove more successful than those followed elsewhere.
– Very likely, but success is often not achieved until after numerous experiments have been made and liability to failure has1 been overcome. The abandonment of an industry by men not fully equipped very often gives the industry a set-back that it otherwise would not have received. I believe that, in connexion, with some of the articles the production of which it is proposed to encourage, we might make use of the experimental stations now carried on by the States Governments with a greater probability of success than would be the case if we offered a comparatively trifling bounty.
– Which of the products mentioned have not already been tested?
– I am not aware. If they have all been tested, there should be no necessity for offering a bounty. If, however, they have not been tested, and the bounty is to be offered for the purpose of ascertaining whether they can be grown here, I say that better results might be achieved by arranging with the
States Governments to conduct experiments at their farms.
– Products are not grown under ordinary conditions at the State experimental farms. The farmers constantly say, “ You can grow the products at your farms; but that is nothing. We cannot grow them under ordinary commercial conditions. ‘ ‘
– To some extent the honorable and learned member may be right. I think, however, that he will .admit that the experiments made at these stations have, in many cases, resulted in the adoption of methods which our farmers are now following with advantage. No doubt, in the first instance, the experiments conducted at the farms were carried out irrespective of the cost of production, but I think that those who are now in charge of the establishments in New South Wales, and, I presume, also in other States, recognise that they must be able not only to produce, but to produce on marketable lines. They must adopt processes which Will enable farmers not merely, to produce an article, but to produce it profitably. I think that thev have assisted - even where farmers had abandoned the idea of cultivating certain commodities - to establish the fact that certain commodities can be profitably grown by the adoption of certain methods.
– I do not think that there is anything which cannot be produced here.
– -I should not like to say that there is anything that we cannot produce in Australia. The question is whether it can be profitably produced.
– That is a thing which has to be demonstrated by persons who endeavour to produce it upon a commercial basis.
– I think that if tests were made at these experimental stations, a good many persons, after seeing them, and satisfying themselves that am article had been profitably produced, would be led to embark upon the cultivation of some of the commodities enumerated in the Bill. I would rather have seen our first efforts directed to working in association with the experimental stations of the States. I would have preferred to see, say, half the amount which is specified in , this Bill devoted to that purpose, and the other half utilized to establish a central agricultural bureau. This Bill proposes that we shall expend £500,000 in ten years by way of bounties. We know that the Treasurer has told us that we are rapidly absorbing the balance of our one-fourth of the Customs and Excise revenue. Within a very short period we shall expend the whole of that sum. If we are to pay £50,000 annually by way of bounties for ten years, that amount must come out of the proportion of our Customs and Excise revenue which we have a right to retain, but which, at the present time, is toeing handed back to the States, and the amount required for the establishment of an agricultural bureau will not be available. I am very much afraid that the expenditure of £50,000 per annum by way of bounties will have very little effect indeed. Even if it finds its way into the pockets of those whom it is intended to benefit, it will be distributed over so many items that the result yielded will be very trifling. In other words, I claim that we shall be spending in the aggregate a very large sum without securing any sufficiently favorable result. That is my opinion. I hope that it will not prove to be correct. I should like to see the articles which are enumerated in the Bill successfully produced in Australia, and above all I should like to see them successfully produced under natural conditions. If the payment of these bounties establishes the fact that they can be produced here profitably, and that such of them as are used in our own manufactures can be produced at a cost which will not increase the price of those manufactures, I shall be gratified. However, I fear that the results will not justify the expenditure proposed. I also fear that in. incurring that expenditure we may postpone the more effective assistance which would be afforded by the establishment of a central agricultural bureau, and the dissemination of knowledge, advice, and instruction, in association with the States - thus increasing the profitable production of Australia.
– I have listened with very great interest to the remarks of the honorable member for North Sydney, and I must confess that I cannot agree with his conclusions. I incline to the opinion that under a judicious system of bounties it is possible to achieve a great deal. The honorable member appeared to lay great emphasis upon his opinion that much more benefit would be derived from the establishment of a Federal Bureau of Agriculture than can be achieved under this Bill. I do not for a moment wish to detract from the enormous advantages which would accrue to the Australian producer from a better knowledge of scientific methods of production, but I would remind him of what happened when the present leader of the Opposition met the States Premiers in Conference at Hobart. Upon that occasion, although he had the enthusiastic assistance of the honorable member for Gippsland, he found it impossible tor the Commonwealth to get the States into line, so far as the establishment of a Federal Bureau of Agriculture was concerned. In every instance they were opposed to it. When we recollect that the agricultural departments of the various States are spending approximately £250,000 per annum in educational institutions and experimental stations, all that we can reasonably hope to accomplish by putting them under a unified control is to secure the dissemination of the information which thev collect throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth. Although in Victoria we have some splendid agricultural establishments which are controlled bv as good men as can be found in the world, the results of their work are not known to the public. This is not the first occasion upon which I have had to deprecate the methods which are adopted in governing our agricultural institutions in this State. I have not a personal knowledge of the conditions which obtain in the other States, but I do know what is being done here. We have some of the ablest men whose services it is possible to obtain, and vet, strange to say, some of their best work is not known outside the college boundaries. Our Council of Agricultural Education - although they have had about 100,000 acres vested in them bv the State - would not publish the results obtained bv their own experts.
– Had they no publication ?
– They had practically no publication until the last few years - until the Agricultural Department took the matter up. Even to-day the harmony which should exist between the Department of Agriculture and the Council of Agricultural Education, does not exist. Although I have lived for many years within an easy afternoon’s drive of one of the best agricultural colleges in Australia, if
I wish to ascertain what is being done there I am obliged either to visit the institution or to write for the desired information. Concerning the deductions of the honorable member for North Sydney, I would point out that it is useless to urge that the necessities of the situation would be met by the establishment of a Federal Department of Agriculture. I look for no help in that direction for many years. In the first place, there appears to be a difficulty in getting the State Premiers into line upon a proposal of that sort. They fear an encroachment upon their State functions, and I admit freely that it is the function of the State to do everything that is possible to educate their own people in the agricultural arts and sciences. Every one of the States is doing something in that direction, but each does not know what the other is doing. To my mind, it is possible - without encroaching upon the sphere of the States in the slightest degree, and without creating another Department - for the Federal Government to collate all the available information, and make it available to the public. For instance, if I required to know what is being done in the agricultural colleges of Queensland it would be idle for me to inquire at the Victorian Agricultural Department, and I venture to say that the same conditions would- apply in Queensland to any inquirer concerning the methods adopted in Victoria. I hold that those who are prepared to embark in the new industries in connexion with which, it is proposed to pay a bounty, will be materially assisted by’ the aid thus offered. At any rate, I believe that it is well worth our while to incur a little risk in that connexion. I have heard it stated that bounties do not always benefit those whom they are intended to benefit. For instance, that objection has been urged to the butter and the vine bonuses, which were paid in Victoria. That fact, however, is no proof that the bounty system is a bad one. Take the position in regard to the bonus granted for the establishment of the butter industry in Victoria. It has been said that the only persons who received it were the exporters. Those who make that statement forget that the regulations provided that only those who exported butter should receive the bonus. It was given specifically on the export of butter, and varied according to the price realized for that butter in the markets of the world. The maker of butter so exported could not procure the bonus on a mere certificate to the effect that he had manufactured it. I have proven- by personal experience that, generally speaking, those engaged in the production of butter at the time in question received the full benefit of the system. Let me quote a concrete case. I was engaged in producing butter during the currency of the bonus, and sold to 2 proprietary company. My neighbour, who was producing a larger quantity, and could ship on his own account to Great Britain, adopted that course. I had an opportunity’ of investigating the sale papers, and found that in every instance where I sold to the proprietary company. I obtained as good a price as did my neighbour who shipped direct to London, and obtained the bonus. That is a proof that the man who produced the butter secured the benefit of the bonus.
– If the bonus had been paid direct to the producer instead of to the exporter, would not the position have been improved ?
– No. At the time, Victoria was producing butter in excess of her own requirements, and the surplus was not of a standard that would enable it to hold its own in the markets of the world. Consequently, the bonus was given as an incentive to improve the standard.
– To improve the quality, not necessarily to improve the quantity.
– To do both. On butter sold in the markets of the old worlds at from 7d. to 9d. a bonus of one penny per lb. was paid ; on that sold at from 9d. to 10d. a bonus of 1 1/2d. was paid ; on that which realized from 10d. to is. a bonus of 2d. per lb. was paid ; and on that above is., 3d. per lb. That was a direct incentive to the dairymen to improve the quality of their output. Although the regulations did not, and could not, provide that the bonus should be paid directly to the producer, it cannot be gainsaid that in an indirect way it went to him. It has been argued that provision should be made in the Bill for the payment of these bounties to those actually producing from the soil. That contention will not hold good. It is not necessary or essential that thereshould be inserted in this Bill a provision making it imperative that the bounty shall be paid direct to those who produce from the soil - that the man who produces, say, a ton of flax shall receive the bounty direct - provided that it is paid on the production of the fibre for manufacturing twine or cordage. Let us turn once more to the experience of Victoria. In 1890, regulations were framed providing for the payment of a bonus at the rate of £2 per acre for the cultivation of vines and fruit trees, and even for the planting of forest trees. I have heard it said that men actually planted vines and fruit trees for the sake of securing the bonus, assuming that there would be a profit on the transaction. That was an absurd view of the position, since the bonus of £2 per acre was only payable in instalments1 extending over three years. As a matter of fact, many of those who planted orchards and vineyards found that the ordinary rental value of the land when used for grazing purposes was in excess of the bonus. The mistake was in failing to make provision for dealing with the produce of the vines and fruit trees when thev came into bearing. In the northern districts, where advantage was taken ot this bonus, many men, who had no knowledge of the manufacture of wine, and had to rely solely upon the guidance of the experts of the State Department of Agriculture, brought their vineyards to such a degree of perfection that they secured splendid yields, but had no market for their grapes. The small growers did not think it judicious to incur the expenditure necessary in setting up a wire-making plant.
– And many had no knowledge of the work.
– None whatever. The position was the same with regard to the orchardists. They had the fruit, but had no market for it. The small growers had not the knowledge, or the means, to enable them to manufacture wine from the grapes, and what was necessary was the establishment of wineries, where they could sell their crop, and a standard wine could be produced. The orchardists found in many cases that they had a splendid yield of fruit from selected trees, but they were not in a position to pulp or can that fruit, and there were no factories where that work could be carried out. The result was that the money paid in the shape of the bonus was wasted. Some men maintained their plantations for five or six years, and then realized that thev could do better bydevoting their land once more to grazing purposes. In these circumstances, it must be recognised that it is not essential to pro vide that a bounty shall be payable to the man who actually raises any of these products. We should take care to provide, however, that means shall be adopted by which the growers will be able to follow up their products - either by co-operation or otherwise - until they reach a manufactured state. So far, we have not given much attention to the minor products that may be considered to be a source of wealth. We have not far to seek for the reason. In the early days the land was devoted to pastoral purposes, and the man who. thought of going on the soil desired to obtain a run. From that we went by easy stages to wheat field areas, and, except in isolated cases, we have not yet got away from the system of having large wheat-fields and dairyherds. As- a producing community we give little attention to intense culture. The tendency to-day, however, is to develop cultivation on small holdings, and those who have been looking on recognise that an evolution is taking place. Take, for instance, the cultivation of flax, which is to form the subject of a bounty. In Great Britain and Ireland to-day farmers practically pull the plant by hand. That is an expensive process, and could not be adopted here. After pulling the flax they put it up in sheaves, and, in order that the fibre may be extracted from the woody pulp, they ret, steep, and dry it before it goes to the breakers, and then to the scutchers. We have revolutionized that proceSs in Australia, and have proved that flax can be successfully grown by ordinary farmers. This! is one of the advantages derived from the association of experts with the Department of Agriculture. It has been found’ that a farmer can cut his flax with a reaper and binder, and sheave it just as- wheat would be sheaved. The latest scientific achievement is such that, instead of the process of retting, steeping, and drying occupying weeks, the flax can be placed in the breaking machine within twenty-four hours of its cutting. Thi.-i proves that we are keeping pace with the times. A few enterprising men, finding that old-world conditions could not be observed here if they were to make a success of the industry, persevered under the direction of the experts, and, applying their intelligence to the undertaking, secured satisfactory results. Strange to say - and I think it is the result of environment - the average farmer or dairyman here is slow to take up anything new ‘in the way of production; but a gradual transition from large to small holdings is going on, and those taking up the latter are prepared to- enter upon the cultivation of products practically new to Australia, when it can be shown that they can be successfully grown. According to the information disclosed in the papers, very tempting results can be obtained from other products. But these statements require careful analysis. In regard to some of the productions mentioned, as, for instance, the production of canned fish’, r have no knowledge, and have had no opportunity to read up the subject. But there are industries which I am confident could be made a source of great wealth to Australia, if a little assistance were given by the Commonwealth, not only financially, but also educationally, to induce people to embark in them. We know that many of those whose avocations keep them within the densely populated areas, are sending their children to the agricultural colleges, and, when opportunity offers to obtain land under reasonable conditions, are assisting their lads to settle in the country. These youths have enormous advantages, if their position is compared with that of the men who, thirty or forty years ago, were combating the difficulties of agricultural and pastoral settlement. But we should not lose any opportunity to assist them, and to further the movement to which I refer. If an opportunity offers to co-operate with the States, by all means let us take advantage of it. It is not necessary to wait until we can establish an expensive Department of Agriculture, before doing something in the way of collecting information regarding the experiments of enthusiasts, and making it available in the different centres of population. That work might be done by some of the officials who are already in our employment. It is the duty of the Commonwealth, as well as of the States Governments, to do all that can be done to increase production. Although the man who is settled on the land has to put up with some disadvantages, my opinion is that, on the whole, he is much better off than are the dwellers in cities, while those who are producing wealth from the soil are performing work which is of enormous value to the community. Australia, however, has enormous areas which are practically unsettled, and the so-called settled areas do not produce half as much as they should. On the seaboard of Victoria, there are districts in which 100 acres should support a family, but where for miles there are nothing but sheep, although there are men unemployed, and in want of land.. In southern New South Wales and the northern parts of Victoria, it is a joy to live, and the sunshine will keep one alive, and none of the hardships have to be faced which are met with in other parts of the world where the climate is trying^ A neighbour of mine, a few years ago, went to Canada. He had been reared on the Murray, in New South Wales, and had an intimate knowledge of the conditions under which agricultural and pastoral pursuits were carried on there. But after a visit to Canada, during which he was not content to hurry through the country in an express train, or a. fast coach, but spent two harvests there, he thought that it was the paradise of the farmer. Now, however, he is back in- Australia again, and has put it on record that he would sooner follow a team on the worst road in New South Wales than be a farmer in Canada. The Canadian climate makes the life of a farmer in that country much harder than it is here, while he estimates that a man who wished to cultivate 500 acres of wheat there would have to embark twice as much money in stock and plant as would be necessary to carry out the same operation in the northern parts of Victoria or the southern parts of New South Wales. I do not think that we can employ our population more profitably and to greater advantage, from a health point of view, than in settling them upon the soil. The concentration of population in large centres is due, to some extent, to the increased manufacture of mechanical contrivances to ‘ aid the. agriculturist, and will be reduced only as our land is subdivided into a greater number of holdings. I have a knowledge of farming extending back twenty-five or twenty-seven years, and I say, without fear of successful contradiction, that, with the mechanical contrivances, now possessed by the agriculturist, one man can to-day grow more wheat than ten men could then. Some of the labour which has been displaced is, no doubt, used in manufacturing the mechanical contrivances of which I speak, but there must be a further subdivision of land, and more intense culture, if we are to give employment on the soil to all who should be there.
– How is the honorable member going to bring that about?
– By the imposition of a progressive land tax.
– This is a Bill for the payment of bounties.
– My justification for supporting it is that it’ will assist to diversify and widen the field of employment and production. There are districts in Victoria and in New South Wales, and, no doubt, in the other States, where the climate is a moist one, and where land which should be worth from £30 to £40 per acre is not producing a return making its capital value equal to £5 or£6 an acre. A great deal more could be done in the direction of intense culture. Many years ago I travelled down the Murray, over what was practically desert country, when one was fortunate if he met a boundary rider between station and station during the day’s travel; but, now that Mildura has been established, from 10,000 to 12,000 acres of that country is supporting a population of about 4,000 people in a state of comparative comfort. Many mistakes have been made at Mildura, and much money squandered there, not for want of intelligence or ability, but for want of knowledge of the local conditions. The results achieved, however, justify the expense. Before the application of water to that land, and the use of mechanical contrivances for its cultivation, it would not maintain 4,000 rabbits.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the Bill provides for the establishment of irrigation works ?
– No. I am pointing out that, in many places where now four or five acres of land support only a bullock, giving a return to the owner of, perhaps, £2 per annum, the return would be something like £40 per annum if a crop like flax were grown. Part of that sum would be spent upon, labour where practically no labour is now employed. Then, although we have not many great rivers, we have a considerable area of land close to watercourses which is well adapted for the growing of rice, and it is the opinion of experts that, by the application of water to it, rice could be grown in great quantities.
– How far south can rice be grown ?
– I am not prepared to say ; but we have the opinion of a specialist that it could be grown to perfection on the Murray, north-west of Echuca, if proper soil were selected and water applied. The Bill will have my hearty support. I do not say that I shall vote for all its proposals, because upon the probable effect of some of them I am not’ yet in a position to give an opinion.
– Which pays better, the growing of wheat or the growing of rice ?
– I have not grown. rice, but the information is that the returnsper acre from rice are greater than those: from wheat, though, of course, the cost of production is more, since rice cannot begrown unless water is applied to the land. You would have to know exactly the cost of the application of the water to the soil. What I desire to say is that there is alwaysa tendency when we want a specialist to get some one of whom we know nothing, and whose experience has been gained under conditions entirely different from our own.. No one knows better than the Prime Minister what enormous losses have been incurred by enterprising men who have comehere in the possession of knowledge of great value as applied to other conditions, but who, when they have attempted to adapt themselves to our circumstances, have miserably failed. That was the result at Mildura. If we had looked the world over we could not have selected men who werebetter equipped with knowledge, intelligence, and ability than the Messrs. Chaffey Brothers, who embarked upon the Milduraenterprise. Australians owe a great deal tothese men. Notwithstandinganything that may be said to the contrary, Mildura stands as a monument to their enterprise and ability, and, althoughthey lost their time and money, Australia is to-day reaping the reward of their energy. Those men amongst us who become enthusiasts,and who carry on their work under local conditions are best qualified to give us advice. We have in Victoria men whose reputationwill, in the future, become world-wide. Wedo not. however, seem to appreciate them. Very few men, even among those engaged3 in the pastoral industry are aware that it was an Australian who discovered a cure for fluke. Then, again, some time ago, webrought from the other side of the world a gentleman of high reputation from thePasteur Institute to instruct us as to thebest way of dealing with anthrax. What was the result? An Australian pastoralist. and chemist produced a vaccine which entirely superseded that of the French specialist, and which is now being used to-day as an absolute preventive of anthrax. Whilst the Government are offering thesebounties to encourage production,they should take advantage of any opportunities -that may present themselves for disseminating amongst those who are most in need of it the information that is now being obtained by scientists and experts who are experimenting in the various States. They have some splendid men in New South Wales, most of whom, I am pleased to say, came from “Victoria, and we have in Victoria many men who are equally good, if nor better. Unfortunately, however, the . results of their work are not made known to those who are most in need of information. I believe that good work is being done in Queensland also. We have heard sl great deal abou the cultivation and development of different kinds of wheats. Experiments were being conducted at the Agricultural College at Dookie for eight or ten years without the agriculturists knowing anything of the important results that were being arrived at. It is possible for the Federal Government, without creating an expensive Department, to collect the information which the State agricultural authorities do not think it worth their while to disseminate, and to make it available to -our agriculturists. I think that, without in any way encroaching upon the functions of the States, we can enter upon fields of labour in which we can perform much useful work.
– I think that we can fairly congratulate the honorable member for North Sydney and the honorable member for Moira upon the very valuable observations which they have addressed to the House in regard to this measure. It is rather a serious matter for me, now that I have come down to the House, to find so -few members present. When I was away, I had an id* that every one else was rushing here to perform his legislative duties. I think that the silliest thing that any one can. do is to travel hundreds of miles to Melbourne upon the pretence that he is doing so for the purpose of discharging his parliamentary duties, and then not to come into this Chamber. When I was away in Queensland, I had a very good excuse for not being here, but now that I am here, I am sorry to find that half of those members who have been abusing me for being absent are not visible themselves, although they are within reach of this Chamber.
– They do not realize that the right honorable gentleman is back, or they would be here.
– I do not know whether that is so. But I think that when honorable members travel hundreds of miles on the pretence of attending to their parliamentary duties, thev ought to be in the Chamber when a Bill of such importance as this is under discussion. This measure seems to have its melancholy side, after all. I cannot help remembering the gigantic measure that the Minister of Trade and Customs had in hand in reference to the establishment by means of a bonus of the great national iron industry, which was to give employment to hundreds of thousands .of men in the foundries of Australia. I have not heard anything of late about that great industry, and there is no doubt that it is the greatest of all national industries. The Minister of Trade and Customs used to tell us night after night that if we would only vote £250,000 of Federal money we could establish a mammoth iron industry that would employ hundreds of thousands of artisans. But now we are brought down to flax and cocoa.
– Will the right honorable gentleman support the iron bonus?.
– I do not say that I will, because what I have said has proved to be correct. By a very successful business arrangement arrived at between Mr. Sandford and the Government of New South Wales, a commencement has been made in the establishment of the great iron industry, without the expenditure of £250,000 out of the pockets of the Federal taxpayer. The amount proposed to be spent under the measure now before us appears, at first sight, to be very moderate, but it really amounts, in the aggregate, to somethink like £309,000.
– £500,000 altogether.
– The total amount would be £500,000 if the bounties were in every case to be payable over a period of ten years. In some cases, however, the period is limited to five years, and in others to eight years. Although I have just arrived from Queensland, I am in a position.. to correct the Minister to the extent of £190,000. I propose te help to find this £309,000 by not knocking down the postal rates as the Government propose. The Government propose to throw away £300,000 of public money bv introducing the penny postage system, and I propose to save that amount for the purpose of giving cordial support to this Bill, and finding the money for the payment of the bounties. That is something like economy in the management of public business. I think that the speeches that have been delivered this evening show how Ministers are absolutely groping in the dark in connexion with this project. A child could propose to spend money in order to bring about certain results, but grown-up men generally submit some precise scheme based on scientific information when they propose to conduct definite industrial experiments. I have in my hands a mysterious document, headed “ General Statement,” and bearing the imprint of the Acting Government Printer for Victoria, which does not seem to have been the creation of any one genius in the Customs Department. It seems to have been evolved by the Minister, the Comptroller-General, and all the other officers of the Department, and gives very valuable information collected from Year Books and similar documents in regard to the number of fish caught in distant seas, and so on. This document merely contains information that could, at a cost of £,io, be gathered by any person from publications such as I have indicated. Yet, i* is solemnly put forward as a statesmanlike warrant for the project upon which we are now invited to embark. If this is an electioneering placard, it is not half a bad one. We are told that bv means of the measure before us we shall be able to lay the foundation of eight or ten promising industries - industries that will contribute greatly to the future prosperity of the country. No doubt when the Minister of Trade and Customs gives his personal guarantee that these enterprises will flourish, a large number of persons will come forward and show their anxiety to lay the foundation of various national industries ranging from cocoa to pandanus. Some of the articles mentioned in the Bill are known only to some antiquaries. There is one point about the proposal which I like. It does attempt to do something to direct Australian enterprise into the channels of agricultural development. It is about time that the public men of Australia in both the States and Federal Parliaments began to recognise that the current of population in Australia is steadily and disastrously setting in from the country to the towns. This has been going on for many years. Our Continent has an area of 3,000,000 square miles, anr! our population numbers 4,000,000, men, women, and children. Yet more than onethird of the whole of our population is crowded into an area of about 200 square miles.
– That is the outcome of the free-trade policy.
– The worst case is that of Victoria, which has known nothing of freetrade for twenty years.
-r- Her case is not the worst in proportion to her population.
– It is more closely settled than is New South Wales.
– Of course it is. Probably that is why 120,000 persons had to clear out from it during the past ten years. The same trouble exists in New South Wales and South Australia - indeed, in every State in Australia. We have an overcrowded population in the capital cities, and instead of a current of settlers flowing from the towns into the country, there is a steady current from the country into the towns.
Mir. Mauger. - That is the case all over the world.
– It is a misfortune wherever it happens, but it is particularly a misfortune in the case of a young country like Australia, with its enormous possibilities. We ought to feel - even if we make mistakes in our endeavours to open up new fields of enterprise - that the object is a thoroughly good one, and so far as this Bill aims at that object, I have no criticism to offer upon it. As the honorableand learned member for Northern Melbourne has pointed out, there is all the difference in the world between encouraging industries by means of bounties and encouraging “them by means of protective duties. When we offer a bounty we know how much we are voting, and the period over which it is to extend. Further we do not interfere with the ordinary market value of the commodities and their price to the consumer. The proper source of the burdens of national policy is the national exchequer, and not the particular person who is encouraging industries by purchasing the products which they manufacture. I have not the hostility to projects of this kind that I entertain to protective duties. With reference to chicory, that article furnishes ait illustration of the wisdom with which the Commonwealth is governed. I have no doubt that in the little compilation which I hold in mv hand there was at one time a beautiful paragraph about chicory. Probably it was stated that the payment of £2,500 annually for eight years would enable us to establish an industry which flourishes in other countries - that of the production of chicory. No doubt the experts put into this Bill a solemn proposal to include chicory, when, as a matter of fact, all the chicory which is consumed in Australia has for years past been produced locally. A similar mistake was made in the Manufactures Encouragement Bill in connexion with the production of zinc. In that measure it was proposed to expend £12,500 by way of bounty to encourage the production of spelter, when, as a matter of fact, the wealthy Broken Hill Proprietary Company had already solved the problem, without the aid of a bonus, and was actually engaged in exporting zinc. If we had passed that measure, the richest proprietary company in Australia would have been presented with £12,500 for doing something which it had accomplished years before. Now we find that the item of chicory has been eliminated from the Government proposals, although we are still confronted with pandanus and some other articles. I throw the responsibility of these proposals upon the Government. Their object is a good one, and if we can only establish onethird of the industries enumerated in the Bill by the payment of the bounties proposed, the measure will be worth all the trouble and the expense which it will involve. But I seriously doubt the success of these experiments, arid that is where W: should obtain some advantage from the establishment of an agricultural bureau, such as exists in the United States. At the present time the Minister of Trade and Customs is our agricultural bureau. He is the gentleman who works out all abstract questions in reference to the different climates and soils of Australia, from the Northern Territory downwards. My hope is that the cotton industry, which is one of the greatest industries in the -world, will be established by the proposed expenditure of £4,500 per annum. If the Minister can establish the industry for that amount, he ought to have a monument erected to him in every part of Australia - a monument of clay. If he can establish the great cotton industry in Australia by means of this small expenditure, there will be no bounds to the admiration and gratitude we shall feel for him. We shall forgive him not only pandanus and sisal fibre, but many other things, if he can only establish this industry. In his political movements he is already a large manufacturer of sweetened condensed milk. But I do not object to that. The practical point is, has the Minister the remotest idea of any spot in Australia where any one of the plants specified in the Bill will take a healthy root? I will guarantee that he has not. The paper by virtueof which we are asked to agree to this Bill is published by Mr. J. Kemp, the ActingGovernment Printer of Victoria. That is the authority we have for all these schemes, the Minister of Trade and Customs,, backed up by Mr. Kemp, the ActingGovernment Printer. However, I recognise that it is useless to protest against the proposals which are embodied in the measure. Doubtless they have all been submitted to the caucus. What I do like about the Bill is that it recognises one of the great wants of Australia, at the present time, and that it makes an endeavour to attract enterprise, industry, and settlement from the towns into the country. The honorable member for Moira has pointed out that one of the gravest evils from which we suffer is that enormous estates, held by a few individuals, make national development impossible. But we cannot pull down the rails! of those estates and subdivide them. We have no more authority to deal with the land problem in the States than the honorable member and myself have to subdivide a large estate whenever we come across it. The honorable member for Gwydir interjected some time ago that we ought to impose a Federal land tax. That is the one panacea which is now offered by the Labour Party. I wish to point out that we have no more right to impose a Federal land tax for the purpose of bursting up large estates than we have to close up the public schools of Australia.
– I rise to a point of order. I wish to know if the right honorable member is in order, upon the second reading of this Bill, in discussing the incidence of a Federal land tax, or our power to levy such an impost?
– The reference was out of order for two reasons, first, because it dealt with a matter which is already upon the business-paper, and, secondly, because it was not incidental to the measure under consideration. But I permitted it because of the statement of the honorable member for Gwydir, to which an answer was admissible.
– I quite agree that I was going much further than the ridiculous interjection of the honorable member warranted. Here is a gentleman who is always talking, with a strong Yorkshire twang, of Australia for the Australians. It is one of the silliest things in the world to hear persons with such a twang clamouring for “Australia for the Australians.”
– Captain Cook came from Yorkshire.
– Then why does not- the honorable member for Gwydir go and join him ?
– The right honorable member is not now addressing an audience of Queensland “ yokels.”
– 1 do not think it is right of the honorable member to speak of the people of Queensland as “ yokels.” I addressed many thousands of persons in the different districts of that State - including thousands of miners - and I do not think that thev ought to have an epithet of that sort hurled at them. Now I come to the point which was mentioned by the honorable member for Moira, namely, that all these industries should be established by Australians. All I have to say is that Australians have verv much easier tasks upon hand than the establishment of these fibre industries in a frizzling climate. So far, they have not been compelled to go in for the hardest forms of industry - forms which enable them to eke out a bare existence. These industries, if established at all, will probably be established by persons who are familiar with the growth of the commodities which thev produce in other countries. The cry of “ Australia for the Australians “ is to my mind one of the meanest possible character. Nobody wishes to see an Australian pushed aside for a person from another country but ‘nobody desires that we should obtain worse service by declining the services of an expert from abroad. No Australian is built upon those lines. We want to’ secure the best man obtainable, and even if he is not an Australian there is still room enough in the Commonwealth for him.
– We will make him an Australian.
– By his adoption of our country. But that is not what is behind this proposal.
– lt is.
– No. In this instance, we have not the glorious cry of preferential trade, and we are not to see the mother country arm in arm with Australia. We have a new and a very narrow and miserable cry on the part of a sinking, politically shipwrecked party.
– It looks very much like it!
– Which party can I possibly have in mind?
– Where is that party now ?
– I certainly have not referred to the Labour Party as being in that position. I have too much sense to underrate their strength. I am referring to another party over whom the executioner’s axe is suspended, waiting for the dissolution. 1 am glad that the Postmaster-General is present, and must congratulate him upon his evident improvement since his visit to the south of Europe. There are one or two features of this Bill that do not commend themselves to me. In view of the fact. that clause 5 provides for the payment of the standard rates of wages in relation to the production of any goods on which a bounty is to be payable, it seems unnecessary in this matter to draw the colour line against people already in Australia. Clause 5 will prevent anything below the Australian rates of wages being paid in these industries, and to bar a coloured resident of Australia who might be eminently suitable for planting any of these crops from engaging in this work, seems to me to be drawing the colour line altogether too tightly. We have one little glimmer of humanity in clause 6, which permits of the employment of aboriginal natives of Australia in any of these industries. Why should we’ stop at that? It is also quite true that any coloured person having one white parent will not be debarred from employment in these industries. What does that provision mean? Does it refer to a coloured person having one white parent living or to a person who had one white parent not now living. Abstruse points of law with respect to the use of the word “ having,” may engage the attention of the High Court. Such, provisions as these only tend to bring, the principle of a White Australia - which is a great one - into utter contempt. To provide that a poor coloured person living in Australia w.ho has two coloured parents, is to be absolutely debarred from employment in any of these industries, whilst, if he has one white parent he will be eligible under this great scheme to promote industries in the tropical parts of Australia-
– Must he produce that one parent?
– That is the point. One sees the advantage of a little legal education. My honorable and learned friend jumps at this point like a lawyer. I wonder whether the Attorney-General has given consideration to this provision. As long as the Government carry the clause relating to rates of wages, it seems to me that it is drawing the line altogether too finely to impose this restriction as to a person having one white parent and one coloured parent. How is it to be determined that a man has one white parent and one coloured parent? Is the question to be decided according to the complexion of the individual? The VicePresident of the Executive Council is evidently competent to decide such questions, since he represents a constituency in which there are, I believe, a large number of coloured persons in various degrees who have intermarried . But I suggest to the Government that this is a little bit of politeness to the labour corner which is rather beneath the dignity of an Australian Ministry.
– Does the provision in question mean that a half-caste willbe eligible for employment in these industries, whilst the children of half-caste parents will not?
– That is so.
Mr.REID. - In paragraph a of clause 7 power is given to the Governor-General tovary the amount set out in the fourth column in the schedule -
As the maximum amount of bounty payable in respect of any goods, but so as not to increase the total amount of bounty which may be paid in any one year.
The fourth columnin the schedule is not that in which is set out the maximum amounts payable in respect of these goods ; so that paragraph a is inaccurate. The fourth column in the schedule gives the maximum amounts payable in any one year, and there is provisionin paragraph a of clause 7 to vary the amount in the fourth column, so long as the total amount which may be paid in any one year is not increased.
– No; supposing the amount opposite the word “cocoa” were increased ?
– Might I suggest to the honorable and learned member that the heading to the fourth column is not the maximum amount of bounty payable during the ten years’ period, but “ Maximum amounts which may be paid in any one year.” I fail to see how the maximum could be varied so as not to increase the amount, unless the Minister means to take power to reduce the amount of a bounty.
– If it be the wish of the House that more power be given to the Minister, I shall be glad to consider it.
– We should first of all understand what the Bill means.
– I thought that the honorable member was explaining it very well.
– I fail to see how the amounts in the fourth column could be altered without being increased, but perhaps it is intended to take power to reduce any bounty. It would not be right to offer a bounty, and then for the GovernorGeneral, after people of enterprise had competed for it, to reduce the amount. I maysay however, that I do not propose to offer any opposition to this Bill, and my earnest hope is that it will lead to the establishment of some of the industries to which it relates. If as the result of it any oneor two of them are established the Bill will have done a great deal of good. It has one good feature, which I wish to acknowledge. In some cases Bounties Bills have provided for the payment of a bounty on the production of a certain quantity of a given article. For instance, a Bill passed by the Victorian Legislature provided for the payment of a bounty on 5,000 yards of worsted locally produced. I understand that the 5,000 yards were produced, that thebounty was paid, and that nothing more was heard of the local production of worsted.
– That was the experience of Queensland in connexion with the cotton industry.
– That would be an abuse of such a provision.
– Thebounty would have to be very considerable to cause an industry to rise and then fall.
– Quite so; but I am pointing out that one of the commendable features of this Bill is that the bounty in each case is to range over a given number of years.
– And is not sufficient in any case to induce any one to enter an industry merely for the sake of securing that bounty.
– I admit that, and it is one of the best features of the Bill.
– I do not know the opinion of honorable members, but, holding the fiscal views that I do, I think that we ought to accord to the right honorable gentleman some small measure of thanks for his candid and plain declaration of his intentions with regard to this Bill. On the’ other hand, one can only regret that, since he has apparently benefited so materially by his tour through Queensland, he’ has failed to give us the advantage of that knowledge which, through the daily press, he assured the people in all parts of that great State he was every day acquiring. The right honorable gentleman, when told during his tour through the northern part of Queensland, that cotton was growing in one place, rice in another, and coffee and sugar in others - and we want the right honorable gentleman’s own word that he actually saw sugar growing in Queensland - was simply amazed, and told the people that he was learning something every day. That being so, it is a matter for legitimate complaint that in this, the bounden duty of the right honorable gentleman, he has failed to impart to us some of the knowledge so gained by him. We have not been away - - we have not been learning something every day. I have never seen cocoa or coffee growing - I have never even seen a rice-field. The right honorable gentleman, on his return to the House, should have dealt with these industries one by one. He ought to have been able to say, “ When I was on the Johnson River, or the Cloncurry, I saw cocoa growing, and was approached by an old and respectable resident, who told me that if he secured a bounty of Jd. or id. or 3s. per lb. he would be able to grow enough cocoa to satisfy the wants of all Australia.” But the honorable gentleman comes back, and runs the whole gamut of the Bill - from cocoa to the unmentionable pandanus - without telling us anything that he has ‘ learned with regard to these industries. The honorable member for Moira admitted that he knows nothing about the production of tinned fish, though he seemed to know something about other matters dealt with by the Bill ; but the right honorable mem ber for East Sydney appeared to be totally ignorant about all of them. He sees, however, one good thing in the measure, because he thinks that it will encourage agriculture and primary industries; but, although he has been up north, and deputation after deputation of enthusiastic, though misguided people, has waited upon him, to inform him of the resources of this great country, and has been received with that genial smile which I am “happy to see that he has brought back with him, it is but too obvious that he has learnt nothing, and has returned practically as dry as a squeezed sponge. I thank him for solving for me the question how a free-trader should vote on the Bill. As I said the other evening, I shall follow my illustrious fiscal leader to the end. I do not know where he will lead me. So far as he has gone, I see little difference between the position of those with whom I now find myself temporarily « associated, and the members of the party to which he belongs, though, of course, one cannot say where he will be in the future.
– The honorable and learned member will know that after the elections.
– If the right honorable gentleman has his way, there will be no “ after” for me. He is the leader of a great party, and visited Queensland to make himself acquainted with the resources of that State - which he says, doubtless correctly, that every honorable member should do - but he is, nevertheless, unable to furnish one good and sufficient reason for supporting the Bill. Of course, he has political reasons ; but I speak of reasons such as he would care to make known to his friends. My position does not call upon me to furnish such reasons. I do not ‘ belong to a great party round whose standard every respectable person in Australia is being asked to rally.
– I have never talked in that w.a,v ; I have never drawn the line of social distinction.
– The party to which I belong has not been consulted bv the Minister in regard to these proposals. Some of the bounties deal with productions of which I had never heard until the honorable member for North Sydney spoke this evening. However, they have my cordial approval, since there must be some reason for their inclusion, seeing that the Minister of Trade and Customs has given us his assurance to that effect in the pamphlet to which the leader of the Opposition has taken exception, but which appears to have much to recommend it, in addition to the imprint of Mr. Kemp at the foot, while the right honorable gentleman also says that there is a great deal to be advanced in their favour. By way of general criticism, I might say that, although I know very little about fish, except through eating it, I think that if there is one industry more than another which might well be encouraged by the bestowal of a bounty, it is the fishing industry. But the proposal to pay a bounty not exceeding £1,000 a year with this object is absurd.
– The payments are to amount to £11,000 ayear. There is a printer’s error in the Bill.
– I am glad to find that even Mr. Kemp is an authority whom one can criticise with some degree of hopefulness. Whatever may be said for the proposal to encourage tinned and canned fish, it appears to me in the highest degree desirable to encourage the building of a fishing fleet, and to provide for the subsidizing of, or the acquisition of, a trawler for experimental purposes. Mr. Farnell, an expert in regard to the fisheries of New South Wales, or, at any rate, a gentleman who has had opportunities for making himself acquainted with the subject which others have not enjoyed, has declared that the possibilities of trawling on our coasts have not been thoroughly exploited. What has first to be done, therefore, is to discover suitable trawling grounds.
– No bounty is offered to encourage trawling.
– There is to be an amount on the Estimates - £8,000.
– The Government are going to build and own a trawler.
– I shall be perfectly satisfied so long as the industry is properly encouraged. With regard to the proposed bounty for the production of condensed and powdered milk, I say that1/4d. per lb. will not be sufficient to induce farmers to cart milk four or five miles to a factory where it will be made into sweetened or powdered milk, when, by selling cream, they can get an equal profit. At Pitt Town, in New South Wales, there is a factory where condensed milk is made, but only 41/4d. or 41/2d. per gallon, is given for the milk taken there, whereas in Sydney fresh milk brings from 6d. to 61/2d. per gallon. Farmers will not send their milk to condensed milk factories when they can, withone-tenth of the labour involved in cartage, get as much from the butter factory, unlesstheyare paid a greater bounty than1/4d. per lb. In my opinion, the payment of bounties amounting annually to £5,000 for the production of condensed milk, and to the same amount for the production of powdered milk,, will be inadequate for the encouragement of the industry, and, if the Minister will not recognise the advisableness of increasing the bounty, I shall in Committee propose a higher rate. There is at present a good market for all the cream that can be produced, and the farmers will not sell their milk to be used for any other purpose than the making of butter, unless they can get more by doing so.
– We import nearly £200,000 worth of condensed milk per annum.
– That does not matter to the farmer, so long as he can sell his own milk and cream. He will not take it an additional five or six miles for another 1/4d. per lb. It must be remembered, too, that the bounty will have to be apportioned between the farmer and the manufacturer of condensed or powdered milk. On the whole, the Bill is a desirable one; and therefore I shall vote for the second reading.
.- I wish to say a few words in reference to the measure, though it is hardly worth while to discuss it in detail, because honorable members seem unanimous as to the advisability of passing it. I am glad that the Government have introduced it, as their action will dispel the false impression which has been created by some honorable members, and a portion of the press, regarding their intentions with respect to the development of the country. I can understand ‘the chagrin of some honorable members at the bringing in of the measure at this particular juncture; but I am glad that, notwithstanding their free-trade professions, and their denunciations of bounties in the past; they are now prepared to assist in enacting a measure which, I hope, is the beginning of an effective bounty system. The leader of the Opposition - I am about to refer only to what he has said in this Chamber, and not to his actions outside - very adroitly. though with some hardihood, drew attention to the state of the House at a time when there were nineteen members present on the Ministerial side of the Chamber, and only four on the Opposition side. I might saythat that is quite the usual state of affairs.
– It is quite unusual.
– The honorable member, at 10.30, has made his first appearance since the dinner hour.
– I have been in the Chamber far more frequently than has the honorable member during this session. He has been conspicuous by his absence since the election of Chairman.
– I will leave it to those honorable members who attend regularly to judge whether there is the slightest truth in that statement. I should not have devoted the slightest attention to the honorable and learned member but for his intrusion into a matter with regard to which he was not competent to speak. The leader of the Opposition spoke from quite a Socialistic stand-point when discussing the Bill, because his complaint was that the matter had not been dealt with upon the principle of State control. During the whole time he was discussing the item, and carping at the amount set down for the encouragement of the respective industries, he argued as if a series of Government farms were to be established for the cultivation of the enumerated products.
– I never referred to Government farms.
– The right honorable gentleman spoke of the proposed bounties as being utterly inadequate to secure the establishment of the industries. I would point out, however, that it is not expected that the industries will be established by the outlay of the amount set down in the Bill. The bounties are to be granted merely for the encouragement of industries, and should have the strongest support of the Opposition, because they are intended to aid individual effort. The Bill represents merely a small beginning, and I think it is desirable that we should begin in a small way. The leader of the Opposition referred to the disastrous effects that had followed the granting of large bounties in Victoria and Queensland, and I think that, by encouraging small individual effort, we shall accomplish very much more than has hitherto been achieved. For this reason, I entirely disagree with the leader of the Opposition. The honorable member for North Sydney spoke of the necessity for doing something in the direction of reafforesting the country. No State has suffered more than has Victoria from the devastation of valuable forests. I am glad, however, to say that work in the direction of reafforesting is now being carried on and that, within the next five years, a veryconsiderable area of country that has been denuded of trees will again be producing valuable timber. The leader of the Opposition referredto the desire of certain honorable members to secure public appointments for Australians, and he specially criticised the remarks of the honorable member for Moira. I believe that we cannot do better than study an industry on the spot, and that those who have been born and bred amongst us ought to be the best judges as to what methods of cultivation are best adapted to our conditions. I have never been opposed to the introduction of experts from abroad when we have not had the necessary material amongst us from which to make a proper selection. I think that it is desirable, in such cases, to bring experts from abroad, and to make them Australians. That is one of the reasons why I hope that, at no distant date, the Commonwealth will be able to act upon the advice of the President of the United States, and offer inducements to capable men who have beentrained in the higher forms of certain cultivation to come here and utilize our soils, some of which are undoubtedly eminently suitable for raising products such as we desire to encourage. We have had here in Australia, and especially in Victoria, where the genius for invention has been stimulated to a higher degree than in other parts of the Commonwealth, opportunities for testing the capacity of our own people to carry on such work as that contemplated in the Bill. It was an unknown farmer who invented the stump-jumping plough which subdued the Mallee, and added a new province to the State of Victoria.
– That sounds very familiar.
– I trust that its familiarity has not brought it into the contempt of the honorable member. We have men in Australia who are capable of meeting all our requirements in regard to ‘he cultivation of the land. I might refer to the inventor of the Wolesley sheep shearing machine, and also to that bete noir of the other side, the complete harvester, which is also an Australian invention.
– Were those inventions the result of bounties?
– No; I am merely mentioning those cases by way of indicating that we have men capable of meeting the requirements of the situation, and of doing everything that” is contemplated by the Bill.
– Every one knows that.
– Then I hope that we shall employ them, and, all things being equal, give them preference over outsiders. That is all we desire.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Kelly) adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.41 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 August 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1906/19060802_reps_2_32/>.