2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. EWING presented a petition from certain Indian cane-growers, farm labourers, and genera] labourers, resident on the
Tweed River, New South Wales, praying that the House will protect them from the treatment to which they are subjected in being refused the bounty on cane, and in other ways.
– On behalf of the honorable member for Moira, I desire to know whether the Minister of Trade and Customs has any statement to make with regard to the deputation which waited on him this morning with reference to the grading of butter?
– A deputation waited upon me this morning with a view to ascertain whether the description of butter under the grading system was to be of an exact character so far as the percentages were concerned. I have since looked into the matter, and have decided that the words “ not exceeding “ shall be used.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Home Affairs what number of contingent votes were polled in the Queensland constituencies of Brisbane and Moreton at the first Federal election in 1901 ?
– The honorable member intimated that he intended to ask this question. I have ascertained that the returns are not in Melbourne. They were retained in the Queensland office. The information desired has been telegraphed for, and will probably come to hand during the afternoon.
The Clerk laid upon the table the following paper: -
Return to an order of the House, dated 261b July, giving particulars concerning Royal Commissions.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable member’s questions I have to state that inquiries are being made, and answers will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The matter with reference to which this question is asked concerns the Departments, and not the Commissioner. The information can only be obtained in the form of a return which I fm informed by the Postmaster-General would cost about .£200.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable member’s questions, I have to state that inquiries are being made, and answers will be furnished as soon as possible.
– In reply to a question of the honorable member for Parramatta, in reference to the Lithgow Post-office, I have to state that the following information has been furnished by the
Acting Deputy Postmaster-General, Sydney : -
Lithgow in September last was 5,800.
Postal, £1,868; telegraph, £471; money order commission, and postal-note poundage, £181 ; Savings Bank commission, £66; a total of
I may add that steps have been taken with a view to obtain a valuation of the existing building and site.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the proceedings in Committee on the Bounties Bill, which lapsed on Friday last, be resumed, and that the House do now resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole for the further consideration of the Bill.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 24th August, vide page 3383) :
Clause 2 -
There shall be payable out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly, the sum of Fifty thousand pounds per annum during the period of ten years commencing on the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and six, for the payment of bounties on the production of the goods’speci- fied in the Schedule.
Upon which Sir William Lyne had moved by way of amendment -
That the word “Fifty” be left out, wilh a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ five hundred,” and that the words “per annum” be left out.
– I understood from the Minister who was in charge of the Bill last Friday that the amendment was to be withdrawn, and that it was intended to adopt the suggestion of the honorable member for North Sydnev, and provide that a maximum sum of £75,000 might be spent in any one year.
– I have a further amendment to propose. The amendment now before the Committee is only a part of my proposal.
– I am entirely opposed to placing . £500,000 at the disposal of the Minister for expenditure as he may please. I should place the least possible amount within his control, and I should like him to be watched very carefully whilst he spent even that small sum. I am astonished at the importance which Ministers appear to attach to this measure. The Prime Minister was recently airing his eloquence in the country, and endeavouring to persuade the electors that the Bill would have the effect of making all of them rich - that it would confer wonderful advantages upon the primary producers. He represented that it was intended for the benefit of settlers in the country, and that the residents of the towns would not derive any advantage from it. He stated that the Bill would save our primary industries from ruin, but I wish to know how the country is to be prevented from plunging headlong to destruction by the production of pea-nuts. The Prime Minister, when he visits country centres, is accustomed to make the most remarkable statements. His hearers frequently become entranced by his eloquence, and are thus likely to pay some attention to his utterances. The Treasurer indulges in poetry, and the Prime Minister in music. When the latter talks to thje farmers they evidently taike in all that he says. I may tell them, however, that the Prime Minister is simply taking them in.
– He is merely following the example of the honorable member.
– No. I am accustomed to say exactly what I mean. There is. no poetry about my utterances. I wish that the Minister of Trade and Customs would explain how much of the £500,000 proposed to be expend.ed by way of bounties he intends to allocate to the encouragement of the growth of rubber trees? That is one of the industries which is to save the primary producer from ruin. From the printed document which has been placed in the hands of honorable members, I learn that the rubber tree would take from nine to fifteen years to reach maturity. When a man has sat under that tree for a period of nine years watching it grow, he will be able to get from it a pound of rubber, which is worth 6s. 6d.
– Who told the honorable member that yarn? The Queensland Government tell quite a different tale.
– I am pointing out what the Minister himself has said.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– But the Minister has caused the statement which I have made to be put into a printed document, which has been circulated amongst honorable members. If the honorable gentleman has issued wrong information, as he frequently does, I am not responsible for that.
– There is a statement to that effect in a certain document.
– The Minister issued that document, and is, therefore, responsible for the statement.
– I am not.
– That is an extraordinary position for the honorable gentleman to take up. I say that if the information be incorrect it is the fault of the Minister himself. I do not believe in the payment of bounties, and I will not be a party to voting £500,000 to encourage the cultivation of peanuts, of rubber trees, and of” olives. The ‘honorable member for Grey has pointed out that the manufacturers of olive oil are already making a large profit out of that industry. He has shown that 1 cwt. of olives will produce about 2 gallons of oil, which can be sold for 16s., whereas the cost of picking the olives amounts to only 2s. 6d. I claim that if we are going to sanction the payment of any bounty whatever, we ought to see that it is granted to those who are engaged in our agricultural industries. I hope that the Minister will indicate how it is proposed to distribute the money which is to be expended in the payment of these bounties. To my mind, the measure is the greatest farce that has ever been placed before this Parliament. The Minister knew so little about the facts of the position that he actually included in the Bill a proposal to grant a bounty to encourage the growth of chicory. That proposal is still embodied in the measure. I should like the Prime Minister to explain how he can justify his statement to the farming community that the Bill will immensely benefit them. He is accustomed to talking to country electors in musical tones and rounded periods, and as a result he frequently misleads them. I maintain that there is nothing practical in this measure, and I should like him to show in what way it will benefit our primary producers. The statements of the honorable and learned gentleman in regard to the attitude of members of the Opposition towards the primary producers are not borne out by facts. If the measure be passed, it will be no use whatever to the primary producers, but will simply levy a contribution upon them for the purpose of assisting industries which are already in existence.
.- I trust that this Bill will be discussed to-day in a) business-like way.. I do not know whether the Minister of Trade and Customs is thoroughly seized of all the circumstances connected with the discussion of the measure on Friday last. Honorable members will recollect that an amendment was suggested’ by the honorable member for North Sydney - an. amendment which provided that the total expenditure upon bounties in any one year should not exceed .£75,000. The suggestion was accepted by the Minister, who was in charge of the Bill at the time, and I should like to’ know whether the Minister of Trade and Customs is prepared to indorse the attitude adopted by his colleague upon that occasion.
– The statement of the honorable member for Echuca is quite correct. After this clause had been discussed for some time, a suggestion was made by the honorable member for North Sydney, the adoption of which would have the effect of limiting the yearly allocation of the bounty to £75.000. The Vice-F resident of the Executive Council, who was in charge of the measure, stated that he was perfectly willing to accept a proposal of that character. I do not know whether the Minister of Trade and Customs is aware of the position of matters at the time when the count-out occurred. Here is the Hansard report upon the subject : -
– Honorable members are directing my attention to all portions of the Bill. I have no desire to discuss clause 3 at this stage. I wish to confine my remarks to the suggestion of the honorable member for North Sydney, who wishes to add a proviso to the clause under consideration which would have the effect of limiting the expenditure in any year to ^75,000. Tr> Government are perfectly willing to accept tha” suggestion.
– I have an amendment to submit.
– Upon Friday last I pointed out that even the adoption of the course proposed was not necessary, since we can always fall back upon the Estimates in case we require to spend anything in excess of the amount which is mentioned in the Bill. For that reason I think it would be better to allow the measure to pass in its present form. I quite agree that it is necessary to provide for some elasticity so far as the allocation of this money is concerned. It will readily be seen that an industry may earn nothing during one year, and that the following year it may require the payment of a double amount of bounty. That condition, however, can always be met by placing the necessary suan upon the Estimates, and Parliament may always be trusted to deal fairly with any industry in accordance with the terms of the contract which. will exist after the passing of this measure. Upon the other hand, I would infinitely prefer to see the amount of elasticity which is proposed in the yearly allocation of the bounty to the granting of the original sum proposed by the - Minister. If the honorable gentleman is prepared to make the alteration suggested, I am quite willing to allow it to pass unchallenged.
– Before the honorable member for Echuca spoke, I was seized of what had occurred in Committee upon Friday last, and I have amendments to propose, which, if adopted, will make the clause read as follows : -
There shall be payable out of the consolidated revenue fund, which is hereby apropriated accordingly, the sum of £500,000, to be distributed during a period not exceeding ten years, commencing on the 1st July, 1906, for the payment of bounties oi the production of the goods specified in the schedule. Provided that not more than the sum of £75,000 shall be paid by way of bounty in any one financial year.
– That proposal is all right.
.- The proposal of the Minister, if adopted, would practically vest him with power to distribute the sum of £500,000 as he chose, so long as he did not expend more than £75,000 in any one year.
– It must be expended in accordance with the conditions prescribed in the schedule.
– Exactly. This clause opens up the consideration of the whole question of bounties. Only a few months ago, when the Manufactures Encouragement Bill was under consideration, the Minister proposed that this House should authorize the expenditure of the sum of £340,000 by way of bonus upon the production of iron. That sum was to be distributed over a term of seven years. Upon that occasion I opposed the Bill, although it related to an industry infinitely more substantial than any of those which are specified in the schedule of this measure. I am now asked to assist the Minister to pass a Bill which provides for the payment of a bounty of £500,000 to encourage the production of such articles as cocoa, coffee, . chicory, cotton, various kinds of oils, rice, and rubber. No one will contend that these industries would provide anything like the employment which the iron industry would afford. If honorable members are prepared to support the application of the bounty system to the industries named in the Bill, then the proposal to grant a bounty for the encouragement of the iron industry should have been treated with greater respect. I and others opposed the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, believing that it was not right to expend the moneys of the people in the interests of any particular firm or industry. This, however, seems to be an age of mental re-adjustment, so far as fiscal questions are concerned, and if any mental re-adjustment is to take place in reference to this proposal, I shall be prepared to do that which I find other freetraders are ready to do. Having regard to the spirit of the times, I should be prepared to favour a bounty for the encouragement of ship-building- an industry that would give employment to thousands of operatives all over Australia.
– The honorable member is slipping.
– I would rather slip in the direction of a bounty for the shipbuilding industry than in the direction of encouraging by that means the salt or the condensed milk industry. If this is a device on the part of the Minister of Trade and Customs to establish a protective policy, let him at once say so. We have yet to learn whether the bounties proposed under this Bill would enable the industries concerned to carry on without other assistance. It seems to me that when the bounties ceased the industries would have to be buttressed in some way or other, and that it might be urged that since we had devoted such a large sum to their encouragement, we ought to- grant them protection through the Customs, rather than allow them to pass away. I see in this Bill a scheme for the protection of the industries to which it applies. Some say that the bounty system is preferable to protection bv way of Customs duties, since one can tell exactly what the cost will be; others again favour the system on the ground that it does not mean that an increased cost of goods will be passed on to the consumer. I do not pro- pose, however, to deal with that phase of the question. I entered this House as a free-trader prepared to fight for freetrade principles, and I fail to see how, in the circumstances, I could vote for a bounty system of this character. If I am to accept the proposals contained in this Bill, then my opposition to the iron bounty may well be regarded as having been unjustifiable. The Minister has not explained the source from which this sum of £500,000 is to be obtained. The bounties are to extend over a period of ten years, but the Minister may exhaust, within six and a half years, the total sum that we are asked to vote. We are thus brought face to face again with the financial problem. The Treasurer, in his Budget statement, told us that certain services still remain to be taken over from the States, and that the proportion of Customs and Excise revenue which we are permitted under the Constitution to retain is almost exhausted in providing for existing Federal services. Despite that fact, we are asked to vote £500,000, which may be expended within six and a half years. The Government have not propounded a scheme for raising the necessary fund, and it seems to me that this expenditure will seriously disarrange the finances of the smaller States. According to this morning’s newspapers, the Premier of Queensland stated yesterday that the Federal expenditure was putting a serious strain upon the Union. Although most of the industries dealt with by this Bill relate particularly to Queensland, we have the assurance of the Premier of that State that the losses it has sustained as the result of Federation more than counterbalance the advantages which it has derived from the sugar bounty.
– He was speaking merely from the point of view of the Treasurer of Queensland.
– He was speaking on behalf of the people of that State, and, so far as this question is concerned. I am prepared to accept the assurance of a gentleman controlling the finances of Queensland in preference to that of the honorable member. In view of the statement made by Mr. Kidston how can the representatives of Queensland claim ‘any support for these proposals ?
– Does the honorable member think that Mr. Kidston bosses us?
– No; but he presents to us the facts regarding the finances of Queensland.
– We have to face our constituents.
– I think that before long the honorable member will have to face something more serious. I fail to see that there is sufficient justification for the expenditure proposed under this Bill. As soon as the bounties cease, we shall be asked to assist these industries either by continuing the system or by imposing protective duties. If it be the desire of the States that these industries shall be encouraged, why do they not make special grants to their agricultural departments ? In the absence of anything in that direction, we ought to establish a Federal bureau of agriculture which would superintend experiments on the lines proposed in the Bill. I notice that a bounty is to be offered for the production of rice. Surely honorable members do not wish to see in Australia marsh fields such as those in which rice is raised in China. Surely thev. do not wish to subsidize an industry which can give employment only to cheap labour. I shall avail myself later on of an opportunity to move the omission of some of the items in the schedule, with a view to substitute a proposal for the granting of a bounty to encourage ship-building. Such an industry would give employment to thousands of men, and we might, in that way, form the nucleus of dock yards in which the vessels of the proposed Australian navy could be constructed.
– What about a bounty for the production of wool ?
– If we encourage one industry we might as well encourage all industries in this way. As one who voted against the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, I shall oppose this measure. Sir Joseph Abbott, when Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, was taunted by the press with having changed from a free-trader to a protectionist, and he replied, “ Surely this is an age of mental progression.” We must have mental progress in all matters. I have not failed to observe the appearance of a cloud on the political horizon, and I say candidly that if I find other free-trade members - from my leader downwards - stating, when they visit Queensland or other places, that, despite their free-trade principles, thev are prepared to favour the granting of certain bounties, I shall no longer fight for my free-trade views on purely academic grounds. If honorable members who are flee-traders can see some virtue, at convenient seasons, in the granting of a bounty, then I can see something in the granting of a bounty to assist the shipbuilding industry, and shall avail myself of the opportunities offering to secure such encouragement.
– The honorable member knows enough to come in out of the wet.
– I can generally tell when a shower is likely to fall. My eyesight is not so impaired that I am unable to detect a cloud on the political horizon.
– “ Wait till the clouds roll by.”
– I do not wish to do so. When I find that some free-trade members are “ rocky “ on salt, while others are “ rocky “ on trawlers, or condensed milk’, then I shall be “rocky” in the direction of granting encouragement to such a substantial industry as is the shipbuilding trade. That time, however, has not yet arrived. If we empower the Minister to expend £500,000 in this way, we shall have increased his power to control by regulation nearly every industry -in Australia. I do not wish to speak unkindly of the Minister, but he appears to desire to have a hand in every business. What do the antisocialists in this House think of a measure which will enable the Minister to extend the principle of State interference with private enterprise? This is the thin end of the wedge. It means the introduction of a system of State-owned industries. I am not prepared to empower any Minister to interfere in this way with every industry. I and others have been returned to resist State interference with private enterprise. The bounty system is the twin sister of protection, and when a free-trader is asked to support it, he is asked to do that which he ought not to do until the system has received the sanction of the electors. At he next general election I shall not be so foolish as to fight on purely academic grounds for a position which I know cannot be maintained in this House; and I shall ask the electors to give me an opportunity to fight for their rights just as I find honorable members - whether thev be protectionists or free-traders - are prepared to fight in respect of the rights of others.
– That means that the honorable and learned member is coming back’ as a protectionist.
– I am coming back to support the principles which ‘the electors re turn me to maintain. I wish to remove from the political situation the mask of humbug. If I am forced to vote for a bounty system, I shall vote for its application to an industry that is likely to prove substantial and benefit thousands of workers - not only in my own electorate, but in other parts of the Commonwealth.
– What does the honorable member for New England think about that?
– I do not care what he thinks, because yesterday he went back on his free-trade principles by insisting that whisky should be made from malt only, and we know that barley is grown very largely in his electorate. I intend to resist the introduction of the bounty system, but if the Committee determines that £500,000 shall be set aside for the payment of bounties, I shall move the insertion of shipbuilding in the schedule, so that that industry may be put in the same position as the other industries which appear there, and which are of a tin-pot character in comparison with it.
.- I shall test the feeling of the Committee on this question, because I altogether disapprove of the bounty system. I opposed the proposal to grant a bounty for the production of iron, and I shall oppose the present proposal to spend not more than £75,000 per annum in bolstering up or fostering industries, because to do so would be to waste money. At the present time the prices of our staple products are on the down grade. Except in Russia, where there were severe rain storms while the harvest was being gathered, there has been an extraordinarily good yield of wheat all over the world, so that the production this year is likely to exceed that of any previous, year, and we know that when production is in excess prices fall. The prices of wool are also falling, the present prices, compared with those of May, showing a drop of 2 1/2d. per lb., and, while it is estimated that our production this year will exceed that of last year by 200,000 bales, it is morally certain that we shall get less for it. That means that there will be much less money to distribute amongst the community, and consequently the _ public will have much less to spend. Owing to their reckless extravagance, the Government have practically reached the end of their tether, . and in a very short space of time will find that their share of the Customs and Excise duties will be insufficient to cover their expenditure. That being so, we are justified in urging economy, and, in the interests of the smaller States, which require every penny that can be returned to them, I shall resist this proposal to fritter away ^£500, 000 in bounties.
– I understand that the Minister has agreed to accept an amendment providing that not more than £75,000 shall be spent on bounties in any one year, and that the total amount to be so expended shall not exceed £500,000. There is, however, an aspect of the matter to which I should like to allude, and which escaped my recollection when I spoke last. I am informed that it takes an olive tree ten years to come to maturity. Consequently the granting of a bounty for the production of olive oil under the provisions of the Bill would not encourage persons who are not now growing olive trees to enter into the Industry, because they would know that their trees would not be bearing until the end of the period for which the bounty is to be given. If any such bounty were given, the money would be paid to persons who are now growing olive trees and making a profit by expressing oil from the fruit. In my opinion, we should reserve the bounties for plantations established after the passing of the Bill.
– Would the honorable member do the same in regard to coffee plantations?
– Yes, and in regard to cotton plantations, too. The avowed object of bounties is to encourage new industries. According to a statement appearing in the Age of Saturday last, Dr. Thomatis has been offered isd. per lb. for the cotton which he has grown. That is a splendid price, and why in addition should he or any other grower receive a bounty from the Government? Let us exercise some common sense in this matter. If bounties are to be given as gifts to those engaged in profitable industries, why should they not be given- to the dairymen and the potato-growers of mine and other districts”? If the measure is really intended to encourage new industries, we must reserve its benefits for those who enter upon such industries after the measure comes into law. If a provision to that effect be not agreed to2 it will be obvious that the Bill has been introduced . merely to placate the electors, and that, instead of being en titled “An Act to provide for the payment of bounties,” it should be called “An Act to bribe electors.”
– The honorable member should withdraw the word “bribe.”
—Why should I do so? There is no other term to use if it is intended to pay bounties to those engaged in profitable industries now in existence in Australia. If the measure be amended to prevent the payment of bounties in connexion with existing industries, or if its operation be postponed, for some years, to give time for the establishment of new industries, I shall withdraw the word, because it may then be regarded as an honest attempt to foster new industries.
– The use of the word “ bribe “ is unparliamentary.
– I do not wish tobe offensive, and if it is disorderly I shall withdraw the word “bribe” and use some other term to express my meaning. Take the case of the bounty offered for the growth of cotton.
– How many cotton growers in the electorate of the Minister of Trade and Customs could be bribed by offering a bounty for the production of. that article ?
– The Minister has supporters behind him, and he has to keep up their strength-
– Order ! I must ask the honorable member not to proceed in that strain.
– When I am asked for an explanation, I always endeavour to make my meaning plain. Any one who realizes that a number of the articles for which bounties are offered are already being produced in the Commonwealth must look for some reason other than that put forward to account for this proposal. For example, the condensed’ milk industry has been in_ existence in Victoria and New South Wales for years past, and yet it is proposed to offer a bounty for the production of condensed and powdered milk. What is the reason? The bounty cannot have the effect of bringing a new industry into existence. The olive oil industry is also in existence, and the same thing may * be said of the cotton industry- I believe also that rubber plantations are to be found in Northern Queensland. I am not sure about that; but if plantations are not already in existence, the bonus can have no good effect in the direction of establishing the lubber, industry, for the reason that the bonus period will have expired before the plantations have become productive. I do not think that rubber trees can be grown at Mount Macedon. If they could, it would be easy to understand why the bounty was being offered. We are being asked to vote money, not for the purpose of promoting the establishment of new industries, but in order to confer advantages upon those who are already carrying on various undertakings with a fair measure of success. I am opposed to the Bill, and shall vote against it. I realize that it is only an election placard, and that money is being offered by way of bounties as a bribe-
– The honorable member must withdraw that expression.
– I shall withdraw the expression, and content myself by saying that the Bill is merely an election placard, and that it has been brought forward in order to please the electors, and bring the Government into favour with certain sections of them.
.- Sometimes the honorable member for New England makes useful and valuable suggestions, but, unfortunately, the violence of his language sometimes prevents honorable members from giving to them that fair consideration to which they are ten titled. I thoroughly approve of the principle underlying the measure, and I do not think that there is any justification for the imputations of unworthy motives which the honorable member for New England has so freely hurled at Ministers and their supporters. Whilst approving of the system of granting bounties in certain cases, I think that a measure such as this should have been preceded by careful inquiry and investigation as to the products in respect to which bounties are to be offered. Whilst it would appear from the memorandum submitted to the House that some Departmental inquiries have been made by able officers, their investigations do not appear te have not been sufficiently complete and comprehensive. I believe, further, that a Bill such as this should be associated with proper safeguards in the direction of supervision an’d administration. As it stands, the measure contains no provision of that kind. Two sessions ago this House unanimously passed a resolution in favour of the organization at an early date of a Depart ment of National Agriculture. In submitting that resolution, I mentioned specifically that such a. Department would be useful in formulating schemes such as that contained in the Bill, and in conducting the necessary investigations, and supervising the granting of bounties. Yet we have placed before us a scheme involving the expenditure of £500,000 without any provision for safeguards such as might reasonably and naturally be expected. Such a Department as I have indicated might very well have been established as a condition precedent to the introduction of the present scheme, or it might have been associated with the proposal in some form or other. I sincerely hope, therefore, that before the Minister brings this important measure into operation he will carefully consider the question of organizing the nucleus, however moderate, modest, and inexpensive it may be, of a Department of National Agriculture. How could such a measure as this, which deals with a large number of industrial and technical matters, be administered bv the Minister or the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs, without the assistance and guidance of experts in the shape of agriculturists, chemists, and other scientific advisers? I presume that the large amount of money which is to be devoted to the payment of bounties is not to be scattered here., there, and everywhere without observing ordinary precautions. T am not very familiar with many of the items in the schedule, but I know a little about one of the products referred to, namely, olive oil. As a matter of fact, the production of olive oil has been most successfully carried on for many years in one of the States, and a very fine industry has been established. Whilst the Tariff Commission were sitting in Adelaide we had evidence of this fact from a witness representing Sir Samuel Davenport, who is the pioneer of olive culture in Australia, and who has placed the’ industry upon a sound and scientific basis. For this he deserves the greatest credit. I am not in a position to say whether he obtained a bonus, but, bonus or no bonus, he has undoubtedly been most successful.
– No bonus was granted in South Australia.
– I am very glad to hear it. I believe that at present there are many olive plantations at Mildura - I do not know whether there are any at Renmark - and that large quantities of olive oil have been turned out there and in other parts of Victoria. I am informed, however, that the production of olive oil in Victoria has hitherto not been a payable industry, and that a large number of persons who went to the trouble and expense of planting olive trees have since uprooted them.
– Some persons were doing that at Mildura when we were up there.
Sir- JOHN QUICK. - Some years ago I bought some olive truncheons from Sir Samuel Davenport, and succeeded in growing them at Bendigo. The trees fruited splendidly, and there was abundance of material from which to manufacture oil, but no market was available, and I uprooted my trees. Other persons did the same, and possibly, in common with myself, made a mistake. - My point, however, is that we could naturally look to ‘ a Department presided over by experts to give reliable advice as to whether it would be justifiable to spend money in growing olives, cotton, or sunflowers, or other such products. If an Agricultural Department, or bureau, were equipped with the proper means of obtaining information, and circulating it, and advising those who were disposed to enter upon such enterprises, we could support a scheme such as that now before us with some safety and confidence. What is required is not merely money, but systematized knowledge and information, and proper means of placing it at the disposal of the men on the soil.
– There- is an Agricultural Department in Victoria, from which farmers could obtain the necessary information.
– Yes” but that Department is not offering bounties such as those now proposed. I hold that the Government should not rest content with offering bounties for tha production of the articles enumerated in the schedule, but that they should make it a condition precedent to the granting of those bounties that the industries must be initiated under circumstances which are likely to result in success. In other words, people should not be lured on to plant trees merely in the expectation that they will be able to participate in a bounty, and without any hope that they will be able to carry on operations when the bounty has been withdrawn. A Department such as I have mentioned would be able to afford valuable assistance in that direction, and would be in a position to warn people against the insensate folly of embarking upon an industry in which they could not continue after the bounty had ceased. Some years ago the Victorian Government offered large bonuses to encourage the establishment of vineyards. Their action imparted an artificial stimulus to the vineplanting industry. The result was that a large number of people planted valueless, nondescript vines for the purpose of earning the bounty, and when it ceased to operate the vines had to be uprooted. That bounty was a delusion and a snare to many who embarked in the industry, because it was not associated with the dissemination of the necessary knowledge for their guidance. The scheme proposed in this Bill will be equally futile unless it is associated with some method for imparting proper instruction to those who are likely to be induced to commence operations under it. I beg the Minister not to bring the Bill into force until he has proper experts at his command who are capable of affording that information. He himself cannot be expected to prevent people from committing mistakes. Whatever is done must be done in accordance with a wellconsidered scheme. There is certainly some force in the remarks of the honorable member for New England concerning the advisability or otherwise of allowing those who have already established plantations to participate in the bonus. The point which he has raised is worth considering. Something is to be said in favour of assisting those who have already established olive plantations, as well as of affording help to new adventurers and investors. But certainly the individuals who incur the trouble and expense of planting new trees, and who have to deal with the uncertainties and difficulties incidental to a new enterprise should not be forgotten. Thev should be specially provided for, and it would be a mockery to them, if, in the hope that they would share in this bounty, they were induced to plant trees, which, according to the testimony of Sir Samuel Davenport, require to be seven, eight, or nine years old before they will yield a gallon of olive oil, and it was found at the end of that period that there was no bonus available for them, because it had been appropriated by those who had already established plantations. These are matters which should be thoroughly threshed out and properly dealt with before the Bill is passed, or else some undertaking should be given that they will be dealt with in a comprehensive manner before it is brought into operation.
.- I was very pleased to hear the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo upon this Bill. He has given utterance to exactly the ideas which had occurred to me, though he has expressed them in a very much better way than I could have done. I agree with the statement that this Bill shows signs of hasty preparation, and I am perfectly satisfied that the Minister who is in charge of it possesses very little information relating to. the conditions attaching to the industries the establishment of which he desires to encourage. I cannot understand why the Bill has been brought forward at the present’ juncture. It affords another example of the hasty legislation in which this Parliament has indulged, and which has brought the country into such bad repute outside our shores.
– That is a matter of opinion.
– It is my own opinion, and that of thousands of persons outside of this House.
– That is the cry of the “stinking fish” party again.
– If an honorable member sees what he conceives to be a wrong, surely it is his duty to point it out. I repeat that the Bill bears evidence of hasty preparation, and that it should not have been brought forward at this late stage of the session. I should like to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs if he is aware of the time that is required to enable the gutta percha tree to attain maturity. I venture to say that if he were to plant one to-day he would not live long enough to see it reach maturity. In this connexion I hold in my hand a verv able report upon the Federated Malay States and Java, which has been prepared by Senator Staniforth Smith. Speaking of the gutta percha tree he says -
The yield per tree is not nearly so large as in the case of rubber, and it is a particularly slow-growing tree, no gutta percha being obtained until it is twenty-five years old, and sometimes fifty. For private enterprise gutta percha growing is out of the question, but a Government plantation is advisable.
Evidently the Government have in their eye some particularly objectionable form of socialistic legislation. Later on Senator Staniforth Smith, in speaking of various, fibres - and fibres are specified in the schedule of this Bill - says -
There is an immense number of fibrous plants that grow well in the tropics, many of them yielding most valuable fibres; but the amount of labour required to extract this and prepare it for the market makes the cultivation generally unprofitable.
So that honorable members are asked to> grant a bounty upon the products of cheap labour ; and if there is one thing more than another which we do not want, it is the introduction of habour of that description. In speaking of sisal hemp, Senator Staniforth Smith says -
Sisal hemp does not grow well near theequator, as it requires a dry climate. It grows, best 20 degrees from the equator, or just inside the tropics. This is an industry that might becultivated with success in certain parts of Australia. At Rigo, in Papua, there is a smallplantation of sisal hemp. While it may behoped that this will result in success, the probabilities are against it, as, in the opinion of the most competent experts, the climate is altogether unsuitable. Dr. Treub, Director of Agriculturein Java; Mr. Ridley, Director of the Singapore Botanical Gardens, and Mr. Carruthers, Director of Agriculture for the Malay States, were all of opinion that the climate of Papua is unfitted for its culture. This is probably another illustration of the necessity of expert knowledge in starting new industries.
I have quoted those passages with a view to showing how they bear out the contention of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo that if we are to embark upon legislation of this sort we should establish some kind of organization for the purpose of instructing growers in the methods of cultivating the products upon which we propose to pay a bounty. Ire the absence of such a Department we cannot hope for success. Yet without any preparation of that kind, the Government ask us to sanction the expenditure of £500,000. Other matters into which a Department of the character suggested’ might inquire are the conditions of the soil, climate, and rainfall. The report of Senator Staniforth Smith confirms the statements of the honorable and learned’ member for Bendigo, and I merely desire to emphasize them. - Mr. BROWN (Canobolas) [3.56].Inmany respects the speech delivered by the honorable and learned member for Bendigowas a valuable contribution to the debate, especially with regard to the need whichexists for establishing a Federal Department of Agrculture to deal with matters; of this character. I also am strongly impressed with the necessity for establishing a Department of that description, quite apart from the question of the proposed payment of bounties. I believe that such a Department need not trench upon the very useful work which is being done by the States Agricultural Departments. On the contrary, I think that its existence would simplify their work, and prevent its duplication. I agree with the honorable and learned member for Bendigo that the distribution of money by way of bounties should be undertaken only under the advice and supervision of expert authorities. We ought to be very careful not to spend any money by way of bounty in developing an industry which has no hope of success. Before any bounty is allotted to an industry, it should be demonstrated that it . possesses sufficient possibilities of success to make it worth our while to try the experiment. Otherwise there is a* danger that the money will be wasted, and that a number of wellintentioned people will be induced to embark their money in industries in which they would have been prevented from doing so by the exercise of a little foresight. Therefore. I hope that the question of the establishment of a Federal Department of Agriculture will receive very serious attention. I do not mean to suggest that it should be established as a prelude to the granting of bounties. I quite recognise that this Department may authorize the payment of bounties upon a number of commodities upon which the bounty could not be claimed until after the industries had been in existence for some years. But I do think that this important work should not be undertaken in the absence of supervision such as has been suggested by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. I ask the Government to seriously consider the position which he has put before them. I do not take up the attitude of some of mv free-trade friends that we should regard the policy of encouraging the establishment of industries by means of bounties as an interference with private enterprise. I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that quite a number of very desirable industries may be assisted in that way.
– Is not that what is claimed for protective duties?
– There is a verv great distinction to be drawn between the two methods. The payment of bounties is completely under the control of this Parliament and the Government, whereas it is extremely difficult to determine exactly who benefits by Customs duties. The Government can definitely state what industries are to be encouraged by bounties, and the extent of the assistance to be given. They, . can also take steps to insure that some benefit shall be derived from the system by those employed in the industries. No such control can be exercised under a system of Customs taxation. I am not prepared on the score of resisting State interference with private enterprise to join an effort to prevent the Government from encouraging industries by a reasonable expenditure under the bounty system. On the motion for the second reading of this Bill I pointed out that a mistake was being made in proposing a bounty of only £d. per lb. on condensed milk, whilst a bounty of d. per lb. was to be given for the production of powdered milk. I think that the higher bounty should be paid on the production of condensed milk, since that industry is the more important one. I have been informed by those engaged in it that some serious difficulties yet remain to be removed, and it .seems to me that if the dairying industry succeeded in placing on the market a condensed milk equal to that imported from Switzerland, substantial benefit would accrue to the Commonwealth. When the schedule is under consideration, I shall move in the direction I have indicated. I am prepared to deal with these proposals in a reasonable ‘way. I certainly think that we ought to seriously consider the desirableness of creating a Bureau of Agriculture to which experts capable of dealing with various questions relating to primary production should be attached, and I also agree with the honorable and learned member for Bendigo that the success of these proposals will largely depend upon the way in which thev are handled.
– I. like many other honorable members, feel that we have not yet reached a stage at which we should be justified in sanctioning this heavy expenditure. We have not yet received any information as to the way in which these bounties. are to be distributed, or as to whether it is intended that the producer of the raw material shall receive any benefit. In the memorandum circulated by the Minister, it is stated that 500,000 lbs. of raw coffee were imported last year, whilst over 2,000,000 lbs. of manufactured coffee were also imported. I should like to know what proportion of the bounty to be given for the production of coffee will go to the grower of the beans, and what proportion of the bounty on cotton will be received by the grower.
– At the proper stage I shall explain the whole matter. I have all the information that can be obtained with respect to these questions, and have also framed an amendment relating to the very point which the honorable member has raised.
– I think that the Bill ought to be referred to a Select Committee.
Sir William Lyne. Anvthing to block it.
– I make this suggestion in no hostile spirit.
– I fail to see how it could be regarded in any other light. ‘ It is a proposal to destroy the Bill.
– It would be far better to reject it than to pass it in the absence of satisfactory information. It could be revived next session. We should certainly be justified in appointing a Select Committee to deal with the Bill.
– Would the honorable member place any members of the Opposition on that Committee? None of them will be here next session.
– Every one knows that all parties in the House would be represented on any Select Committee that might be appointed. It has been said that this ‘ Bill is something in the nature of a bribe to the electors. I would point out, however, that the number of electors who would benefit by its passing is so infinitesimally. small that such a suggestion is absurd. It might just as well be said that those who are opposed to taxation of any kind are holding out a bribe to the electors, since nine out of ten believe always in taxing “ the other fellow.” This Bill will not benefit more than 200 people.
– Then they will have a substantial “ cut in.”
– I do not know about that. I understand that some of the industries named in the schedule are alreadywell established. The honorable member for New England said that I was anxious to support the Bill because it provides for a bounty on the production of olive oil, as T represent a district in’ which olives are produced. As a matter of fact, there is not an olive grove in my electorate. In some parts of it a few trees may be grown, but they are certainly not cultivated for the production of olive oil. I have not heard that there is any strong demand on the part of South Australia for a bounty to promote the olive oil industry. I trust that the Minister will consider mv suggestion that the Bill be referred to ‘a Select Committee. I should like to test the question.
– If the honorable member’s proposal be carried, the Bill will not be further proceeded with.
– So much the better.
– Surely the Minister knows that if my proposal were carried the Bill would be referred to a Select Committee.
– No, it would be dropped.
– Why should the honorable ‘gentleman take up that attitude?
– Because the proposal, if adopted, would destroy the Bill.
– The Minister has no right to threaten the Committee.
– I am not frightened by anything he may say in that regard. I should be prepared, if I thought fit, to vote against the Bill, although I certainly am prepared, if the Minister is reasonable, to vote for it. Should I be in order, Mr. Chairman, in moving that, contingent on the passing of clause 2, the Bill be referred to a Select Committee?
– There is already an amendment before the Committee.
-I shall not bind myself to move the amendment I have indicated, but I know that even the supporters of the bounty system will require much more information than has been afforded the Committee before they will vote for these proposals. We need from, the Minister an explanation as to the .method of distribution - as to who will receive the bounty, the machinery to be devised to carry out the object of the Bill, and as to who is to supervise its general working.
– During the last few weeks I have had the pleasure of visiting Queensland, and, whilst in Brisbane, I was very much interested in the magnificent display of cotton at the National Society’s Exhibition. The display was a splendid one, and the exhibit of cotton, which was a feature of the exhibition, was examined by a great many visitors. I was informed that the cotton industry could not succeed in Queensland if high wages had to be paid to those employed in it, but that it would be successful if the children of the farmers were allowed to pick cotton, . just as the children of our dairymen, in many cases, have to milk cows. That being so, I fail to see why the cotton industry, any more than the dairying industry, should be assisted by means of a bounty. We should not try to bolster up industries, in this way. We shall be perfectly justified in opposing the Bill until the Minister has placed before the Committee more satisfactory information in support of it. Two years ago, on the. motion of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, the House unanimously affirmed the expediency of establishing a Commonwealth agricultural bureau ; but nothing has been done in the matter. Now the Minister ‘has sprung this Bounties Bill upon us, without being able to give us the information necessary for an intelligent consideration of its provisions. It is proposed to grant a bounty for the encouragement of the olive oil industry, but, to my knowledge, that industry was in a most flourishing condition ten years ago.
– It is not flourishing now, and at Mildura persons are digging up their olive trees.
– Because it pays them better to grow raisins.
– Yes, and growers always try to use their soil to the best advantage. If olives pay better than raisins, growers will keep on planting olive trees. Ten years ago the warehouse which I represented in Newcastle handled hundreds of gallons of South Australian olive oil which was equal to the best Italian olive oil. and competed there in a free-trade market with all other oils. Why then should it be necessary to cive a. bounty for the encouragement of the olive oil industry? If the honorable member for Grey were able to move that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee, I should support the motion, because we certainly want some more information about the state and prospects of the various industries to which it is proposed to give assistance. I have no desire to kill the Bill, because it contains proposals which I am ready to support : but we are entitled to receive from the Minister more information in regard to it. I shall not oppose the granting of a bounty for the encouragement of industries which we have not here now, and for which we have a suitable climate, and soil. It would, however, be absurd to pay such bounties as would encourage persons to grow coffee in Tasmania, for example.
– Does the honorable member believe in the bounty system ?
– I do not object to the gran) ing of bounties to bring about the starting of new industries.
– The sugar industry was not started by means of a bounty.
– The growers of sugar pay their own bounty, since it is provided out of the Excise. I have no objection to the giving of assistance for the starting of industries for the production of fibre of various kinds, and shall support similar proposals which I consider justifiable; but I am altogether opposed to going further until we have obtained, either by means of a Select Committee, or through an agricultural bureau, the information which is absolutely necessary to enable us to deal wisely with the whole question.
.- I shall support the Bill, and I hope that before it reaches its final stage its provisions will have been so safeguarded that the evils which have resulted from the granting of bounties in some of the States will not follow the bringing of its provisions into effect. I take a broader view of the measure than do those who look upon it merely as one for the encouragement of production of certain, kinds. One of the big problems facing the Commonwealth is how best to people our territory,, and especially those lands which are most open to attack by the populous nations of Eastern Asia. It has been objected that the Bill is directed largely to the encouragement of tropical productions, but, while I admit that that is. so, I contend that it is to the advantage of the Commonwealth, because we cannot hope to be always secure from the aggression of nations which are continually seeking outlets for their surplus population, if we leave our waste lands at their mercy. It is, however, one thing to throw land open for settlement, and another to help those who try to settle upon it. Acts have been passed for settling people on the ° land which have resulted in settling many under it, and it is not always the pioneers, who have borne the heat and burden of the day, who have reaped the profits of their industry. One of the merits of the Bill is that it will make it more likely that the pioneers of new industries, will get the reward of their enterprise, instead of having to sell out to others for perhaps less than they had expended in bringing their land into cultivation. The honorable member for Dalley referred to the complaint of the Queensland Treasurer that, notwithstanding the advantages his State has gained from the sugar bounties, it has suffered more than any of the other States since the institution of Federation. I interjected at the time that he. was speaking merely as Treasurer. There is another point of view. Although the Queensland Treasury has. lost something over £2,000,000 by the establishment of Federation, the people of Queensland have largely benefited. For instance, so far as the sugar industry is concerned, not only have they benefited in the manner to which reference has already been made, but they have benefited also by having their market extended. I have already pointed out that, had Queensland remained out of the Federation, her sugar would have been treated by it exactly as. the sugar of Fiji and of Java would have been treated. Had the remaining States federated, Queensland standing out, she would have been fiscally a foreign State, and her sugar and other products would have been admitted into the Federation only on the terms under which the products of other countries would have been admitted, whether dutiable or free. But, having joined the Federation, she has obtained free access to the markets of Australia, and is able to supply a population of nearly 4,250,000, instead of a population of only 500,000. The Queensland Treasurer’s complaint might be answered’ in many other ways ; but as we are not now discussing the financial position of the States, I shall not proceed further in this direction. The honorable member for Wilmot says that the prices of our primary products are on the down grade. If so, that is a reason for fostering new productions. If the markets of the world are being glutted with, our exports, we should try to diversify them, and not depend wholly on one or two lines. The honorable member for Cowper says that growers will always put their labour and capital into such crops as will return the greatest profits, and no doubt that is so; but even he will admit that the olive can be grown in many places where the vine cannot be profitably cultivated.
– Olives are already grown extensively.
– I have seen olives growing, though I do not know much about the industry. I am, however, acquainted with some of the other industries mentioned in the schedule. The Minister has put before us a statement showing what a large amount of money is annually expended to purchase commodities which might very well be produced locally, if their production* were encouraged by means of bounties. If that were brought about, we should reap the double advantage of keeping our money in circulation amongst our own people, and of settling our waste lands, and providing protection in time of need. I may take credit for having already moved in the direction of securing encouragement for the cotton industry. That has been designated a Queensland industry; but cotton can be produced in every State of the Commonwealth except Tasmania. I have seen samples grown in Echuca, and to-day I saw a very good sample which was .grown at Coolamon, in New South Wales, while the plant is almost indigenous in the Northern Territory, and will grow in other parts of South Australia, and there is in Western Australia as large an area as in Queensland where it will grow to perfection.
– Can rice be produced in Australia ?
– Yes’; and for some time past small quantities have been grown in the neighbourhood of Cairns.
– Then why should a bounty be given for its production?
– No doubt many of the industries mentioned in the schedule will be established without the aid of a bounty, but before they can become of any importance they will, if not encouraged, fall into the hands of Japanese and Chinamen. One of the arguments in favour of the Bill is that, by encouraging tropical production, it will bring about the settlement of waste lands, which are now a source of danger to us, and, like expenditure for the encouragement of immigration, by settling people on them, will not only give us a larger population to bear the burdens of taxation and to repay our loans, ‘ but will increase the number of those who, in time of need, will be ready to defend their homes and the country.
– But what about those persons in other States who start industries without assistance?
– They will not be excluded, from the benefit of the bounty. I think that if any one deserves to be rewarded, it is the man who has been struggling along and making experiments with results profitable to those who follow him. Such a man should not be excluded from the benefits conferred by a Bill of this kind. Although Dr. Thomatis, of Cairns, who has spent a great deal of money in cultivating and advertising his cotton, has placed his small plantation on a satisfactory footing, he should derive the benefit of the bounty to the same extent as the settler who for the first time embarks in the industry. I do not think that we shall ever have in Australia large cotton plantations such as used to be a special feature in -the Southern States of America. I should not like to see similar conditions brought about here, because the planters would have to employ a class of labour that we have no desire to encourage.
– If the industry is to succeed, it will have to be carried on by farmers with small families which can perform all the work on the plantation.
– That is my idea. If cotton is to be grown under the’ conditions that we desire, the small farmers will have to cultivate small areas, and rely upon their families for all the labour required in harvesting their crops. I hope that by multiplying the number of small farms we shall bring about an aggregate production - not only in Queensland, but in all other States, with the single exception of Tasmania - which will add very considerably to the wealth of the Commonwealth. Reverting to the statement that this measure is intended mainly to confer benefit upon Queensland, I should like to refer to the fact that flax can be produced in Tasmania to greater advantage than in any other State.
– It is being produced there now.
– In small quantities.
– It will be found by reference to the import returns, that in 1904 the flax and hemp imported into the Commonwealth were valued at £145,000, whilst last year the imports of those commodities were valued at £128,000. Besides this, in 1904, we imported linseed oil to the value of £108,000, and in 1905, to the value of £80,235. Surely there should be sufficient inducement for the extension of flax cultivation in Tasmania.
– Exactly, without a bounty.
– I dare say that in the natural order of things flax will be produced in localities which are adapted to its cultivation, but, whereas under natural conditions it may be fifty or 100 years before the industry reaches appreciable proportions, we may by stimulating it bv bounties, bring about highly satisfactory results within a very short space of time.
– Flax is being grown now.
– Yes, but the progress is very slow, and by means of bounties we may within ten or twenty years bring about a development equal to that which would take place under natural conditions in fifty or 100 years. I do not pretend that the industries which it is sought to encourage will not be established without the aid of bounties, but my point is that if they are left to themselves their development is likely to be very slow. I do not think that it is any argument against the Bill to say that certain commodities which are included in the schedule are now being produced in the Commonwealth ; nor is any weight to be attached to the fact that bounties have previously been offered. I agree with the honorable and learned member for Bendigo that any bounty system should be surrounded bv proper safeguards, and that the bounties should be distributed under proper supervision in order that the grower, whom it is sought to benefit, shall receive the fullest possible advantage. In ‘ some cases where bounties have been granted, those who have been exploiting the industry’rather than the growers of the product, have derived the advantage. In Queensland, in the sixties, the Government offered a bounty for the growth of cotton, but instead of the money passing into the hands of the growers, it was appropriated by those who bought the cotton in the rough state, and cleaned it for export. The cotton buyers were, no doubt, able, owing to the bounty, to give the growers a slightly higher price than otherwise would hnve been the case, but the latter received only an infinitesimal share of the bountv.
– What happened when the bounty period expired?
– The American Civil War was in progress when the cotton growing industry was started in Queensland. At that time a cotton famine had been caused owing to the ravages of the war in the Southern States of America, and Queensland cotton brought a very high price.
– Did not something similar occur in connexion with the production of worsted in Victoria? As soon as the bounty was exhausted, no’ more was heard ot the worsted. ‘ ,
– I’ know nothing whatever about that. I have made it a point to confine my remarks to matters with which I am acquainted.
– Did the Queensland cotton growers continue their operations after the bounty period had expired?
– Yes ; they did in later years. As I have already explained, the conditions at the time of which I have spoken, were altogether unfavorable to the cotton growing industry. Similar conditions do not exist now. I have explained why the cotton industry failed, and why we may expect to achieve a greater degree of success under existing conditions. The total amount that is being asked for to encourage the growth of cotton is £22,500. Not more than £4,500 is to be distributed in any one year. When we consider the immense possibilities of the industry in a country like ours, I think that the amount proposed to be spent is trifling. I have here a copy .of a letter from Mr. John E. Newton, the Chairman of the Council of the British Cotton Growers’ Association, containing his report upon various samples submitted to him. If the honorable member for Franklin will mark what he says, he will understand why the cotton industry failed iri the sixties. Mr. Newton says -
British Cotton Growing Association. Report on cotton samples from Queensland, 28th July, 1905.
Sample, unnumbered. Very white, bright and perfect preparation ; short in staple and rough, but suitable for mixture with wool. Probably worth to-day 6d. per lb.
No. 5. Brown in colour, probably grown from Egyptian seed. Shorter in staple than Upper Egyptian. Very clean and free from waste. Worth about 5fd.
Sample No. 2. Good staple, full i£ long, fairly silky, equal to good middling Texas or Orleans. Value about 6£d. This is a most useful style of cotton.
Sample No. 3. ‘About good middling in grade. Rather coarse in fibre, and about 1 in. in length. Worth about price of fully middling Uplands. Value about 6£d. to 6£d.
Sample No. 4. Owing to mixture of seed, both long and short staple mixed in planting or picking ; impossible to value it. The small black seed, which apparently is from Sea Island cotten, gives best results.
Sample No. 5. Brown in colour, probablygrown from Egyptian seed. Shorter in staple than Upper Egyptian. Very clean and free from waste. Worth about 5fd.
Sample No. 1. Very imperfect in preparation, which renders it most difficult of sale, and therefore most difficult to place reliable value upon. Very irregular in length, probably grown from mixed or Peeler seed. Worth about efi..
Value of Mid. Upland cotton to-day, 28th July, 1905, 1 in. staple, 6d. per lb.
Value of Mid. Texas or Orleans, i£ in. staple, 6*d.
I have explained before that no care was exercised bv the planters in selecting their seed. The seed was taken from the heap as it was thrown out from the gins, and beyond that which was used for sowing purposes, it was not turned to any account. Thousands of tons were swept away down the rivers by the flood waters. The variety and the length of the staple, its variability as to fineness or coarseness, and curl, and in, every other respect, rendered the cotton almost unmarketable. It brought the lowest possible prices, because it was suitable for the manufacture of only the most inferior goods> If we were to send our wool home under similar conditions, we should receive very poor prices for it.
– -What the honorable member has quoted is an argument against the payment of bounties.
– No. It is proposed to pay the bounties at the rate of 10 per cent, upon the market value. That will encourage the production of high quality cotton. As a matter of fact, an endeavour is now being made in Queensland to grow special classes of cotton in the localities best adapted to their cultivation. The experts of the Agricultural Department are advising the farmers as to the particular: kind of seed which they should sow upon their plantations, and the result is that a very much better class of cotton is being sent to the old country. Some of our cotton has realized as much as is. 2d’, to is. 3d. per lb. Dr. Thomatis, of Cairns, recently sent home some cotton which was so fine in staple that the brokers in England did not care to touch it. He forwarded the commodity to Italy and France, where it was eagerly bought, and now the Italian brokers are sending, out for far more than he can supply. I should like to see a bounty offered for the production of cotton, because many persons are now inclined to look back and ask the same question that has been put by the honorable member for Franklin, namely, why did the industry fail in days gone Sv. They do not take all the surrounding circumstances into consideration, and are thus deterred from embarking upon the enterprise. Besides the drawbacks to which I have referred, the cost of transit and the insurance in the old days involved much heavier charges than at present. The cotton had to be sent home by sailing vessels, which used to occupy from 80 to 120 days on the voyage, whereas the product can now be forwarded to the home market within six or seven weeks. Then, again, the insurance rates were very much higher than at present, because of the danger of spontaneous combustion, and of the fact that more than one ship was burnt through carrying damp cotton. The facilities for land carriage have also been greatly improved. There are other pertinent reasons which might be advanced as to why the industry did not .succeed there. But of course persons who are unaware of the conditions which operated in those days naturally feel reluctant to embark upon the industry. I believe, however, that under the conditions which are embodied in this Bill many would be induced to enter upon it. Everybody will admit that it is an industry which is capable of very great expansion. By virtue of our geographical position we possess advantages for the disposal of cotton which are possessed by no other countries in the world. For instance, 1 find that during the first half-year of 1904 the importations of cotton into Japan alone amounted to 151.693,259 lbs. Of that quantity 76,000,000 lbs. was imported from India, nearly 16,000,000 lbs. from the United States of America, 51,000,000 lbs. from China, 3,000,000 lbs. from Egypt, and about 3,500,000 lbs. from other countries. The Japanese product itself totalled only 226,000 lbs. In that one country, which is populated by a cotton- wearing race, we have a large market for the Australian commodity. We could find an additional market in India, and we have the 400.000,000 people of China, as well as those, of the Malay Peninsula and ‘the Eastern Archipelago at our door. In moving the second reading of this Bill, the Minister quoted the quantity of raw cotton imported into the Commonwealth, but neglected to state the vast sum which we send out of the country for the purpose of paying for cotton manufactured goods.
In addition to providing a bonus for the cultivation of cotton, I should like the Government to offer a small bounty to encourage the manufacture of that commodity into articles of wearing apparel. We might thus secure the establishment of the primary and secondary industry side by side. However, I have no desire to labour that aspect of the question. I have collected much information upon this subject, apart from my own personal knowledge of it - and I claim to possess some little knowledge, having been engaged .in the industry during my youth.
– In Queensland. I have been asked by some honorable members whether, if the industry were encouraged, it would be likely to prove remunerative. In reply, I can only quote returns which have been supplied to me since the recent revival in the growth of this staple in Queensland - that is, within the past two or three years. Mr. Daniel Jones, of the Agricultural’ Department of that State, who was asked what it would cost to grow cotton at Charleville, which is some 500 miles west of Brisbane, estimated the total outlay required at £3 16s. 2d. per acre. This estimate included two ploughings, two harrowings, drilling, and sowing, three scufflings, thinning and hoeing, carriage te Brisbane, seed, and the cost of picking .1,000 lbs. of cotton. When he made that estimate the price of cotton was from 5d. to 7 1/2d. per lb., but his calculations were based upon a cost of 5 Jd. ner lb. . at which figure the commodity would yield a gross return of £7 5s. lod. per 1,000 lbs., or a net profit of £3 9s. 8d. per acre. In my own district, not far from Ipswich’, some farmers have realized as much as from £11 to £13 per acre for the cultivation of cotton. Of course, it was grown in small plots, and every possible care was exercised.
– It ought not to require the aid of a bounty if it will yield that return.
– If persons could be induced to enter upon the industry it would succeed, but the proposed bounty is to be granted for the purpose of encouraging them to embark upon it. Australia is not the only country in the world which offers bounties for the establishment of its industries. Every other nation which has developed its industries has granted bounties not only upon its primary- productions, but also upon its manufactured products. If the Minister had followed this particular staple from the field to the factory, and had offered a small bounty for its manufacture, he would not have departed from the spirit of this measure. In the case of fish, we are asked to follow them from the markets to the canning factories. In the same way, we intend to follow olives from the fields into the crushing mills and refineries. Therefore, it would not have been at all inconsistent with the objects of the Bill if the Minister had acted in the way that I suggest. I have already stated that, in my opinion, the China oil industry would not succeed in any part of Australia with the labour that we have at our command, seeing that the oil is produced in the New Hebrides, where there is an abundance of kanaka labour available, and in India, where coolies are employed in its production. It has been said that the employment of machinery would overcome the difficulty, but I would point out that a machine which would gather the nut, from which the oil is extracted, would also harvest little lumps of earth, which are instinctively rejected by the human hand. We do not wish to degrade the labour conditions of Australia to the level of those which obtain in India and the New Hebrides. In the case of castor oil, however, the position is a very different one. The castor oil plant grows as a weed in every part of Queensland, and in numerous portions of New South Wales. I have seen it flourishing even in rubbish heaps. It will grow in almost any part of the Commonwealth. It is a crop which is easily harvested, and there is not very much hard labour involved in the operation. In the past the difficulty experienced has been the lack of a crusher. But an enterprising firm in Victoria - I refer to Messrs. Kitchen and Sons- in anticipation of the expansion of the cotton industry in Queensland, have not only sent their cotton gin there, but have arranged for the installation of a plant to crush the seed into oil, and to make oil cake as well. This machine will not only make use of the by-products of the cotton plant, but of other crops. Some years ago an attempt was made by coolies in Queensland to grow the castor oil plant, and in this they were very successful. They could produce almost any quantity of seed of first-class quality, but their difficulty was to get it pressed into oil. At a later stage, another individual commenced the production of castor oil in a very small way. The article which he produced was very superior to the castor oil of commerce, inasmuch as it was almost entirely free of the nauseous smell which is usually associated with it. It was sold by chemists astasteless castor oil.
– That should have insured its popularity.
– But the demand for castor oil for medicinal purposes is very limited. To become of any great commercial value it would require to be used as a lubricating oil. There is no better lubricant obtainable - and I speak as an enginedriver. I am anxious that this Bill shall pass, and I do not think that the charge that it has been introduced for electioneering purposes has been substantiated. To my mind, it simply represents another step in the policy which the Government have professed for years past. I refer to the encouragement, not only of secondary, but of primary, industries/ the settlement of the people on the land, and the encouragement of immigration. I believe that Australia has great potentialities, and that any crop grown elsewhere can be raised in some part of the Commonwealth. All that we need to do is to encourage these industries in their infancy. I believe that all those mentioned in the schedule will, if given reasonable assistance, become great national assets, and that one of them, at all events, will be more valuable even than is the wool industry of Australia.
– I am surprised at the sudden change of front on the part of some honorable members. During the second-reading debate no opposition was raised to the Bill.
– I opposed it.
– No opposition of any consequence was raised to the Bill. We now have a proposition on the part of those who pose as the friends of the primary producer that it shall be shelved. Their attitude is certainly inconsistent. It is said that a Select Committee should be appointed to inquire into these proposals. I fail to see that such a body could obtain any more information than is already in the possession of the Minister, who will, I am sure, be prepared, when the schedule is under consideration, to give full details as to the present position of the industries; proposed to be encouraged. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo appeared to think that the establishment of a Federal
Bureau of Agriculture should be antecedent to the passing of this Bill. I do not believe, however, that he would desire to retard its passing. I am heartily in favour of the establishment of a Federal Bureau of Agriculture, but I do not know why we should delay the passing of this Bill until such a department has been created. Are we to say, as was urged, in effect, by the honorable member for Cowper, that those who propose to earn these bounties shall not be permitted to make a start unless a Department of Agriculture approves of the locality, or localities, in which they propose to commence operations? The suggestion made by the honorable member is only one remove from a proposal that the Commonwealth should itself undertake the production of some of these articles. We have in New South Wales a splendid Agricultural College, with 5,000 acres of land under its control, whilst there are scattered over the State fourteen experimental farms, capable of thoroughly testing the producing qualities of the soil. Victoria has also several experimental farms, and a very large Agricultural College, with 4,000 or 5,000 acres of ground surrounding it. Western Australia has, I think, six experimental farms, as well as an Agricultural College, and sixty-five agricultural halls, which are subsidized by the Government, and in which lectures are given from time to time by experts appointed to assist the farmers in acquiring a thorough knowledge of their industry. In Queensland there is an Agricultural College, and something like ten experimental farms and fourteen sub-stations, whilst South Australia has an Agricultural Bureau, with over 100 branches. All these institutions publish from time to time official reports. The New South Wales Agricultural Gazette - a very valuable publication - gives information relating to various primary industries, and similar publications are issued in .most of the States. # The States Departments of Agriculture also go so far as to select good seed and plants for the farmers. Is it the desire of honorable members that the work of these institutions shall be duplicated?
– There is no proposal to hand over to those Departments the supervision of the industries named in the Bill.
– I shall tell the Committee later on what I propose to do in that direction.
– I am surprised that those who appeared at the outset to favour 5»: j the Bill are now raising obstacles to its passing. I understand that the work of a Federal Bureau of Agriculture would be altogether different from that carried out by the States Departments of Agriculture. Its province would be, amongst other things, to collect from the States Departments information which it would distribute from one central office. It is certainly unnecessary that such a Department should be established before these bounties are granted. The States have made very creditable provision for the needs of the farmers. As a matter of fact, no one entering any other industry is so fully supplied with information to assist him as is the man who* is about to settle on the land. Any one proposing to embark upon one of these new industries could readily obtain from the States. Departments all the information necessary for his guidance. The States Departments of Agriculture can Supp v details as to analyses of soils, and the districts best fitted for the raising of certain products. The honorable member for New England insinuated that this Bill was only a political placard. We might with equal reason say that electioneering tactics are at the bottom of the opposition to the Bill, and that it is the desire of the Opposition to reduce the volume of good work done by the present Government. I could understand straight-out opposition to the Bill, but I cannot understand a proposal to shelve it.
– Does the honorable member believe in the granting of bounties to existing industries?
– I do not think that any one does. No such proposal is contained in the Bill.
– Some of the industries mentioned in the schedule are already established.
– -Any one who occasionally glances at the agricultural statistics of the Commonwealth knows that some of the industries mentioned in the schedule are not yet established in Australia. I am not quite clear as to the position of the olive oil industry, but I was under the impression that it was fairly well established in South Australia a few years ago. I should not oppose the payment of a bounty to those who have done pioneering- work in any industry that is not yet properly established. When the Minister was absent last week we had a constant . demand for more information in regard to this Bill; but now that the Minister is present some honorable members have changed their cry.
– If the honorable member had not been absent during part of the afternoon he would have heard a demand for information from his own side of the House. .
– Having regard to the way in which it was received when first introduced, I am surprised that so much opposition should now be shown to the Bill. If it were shown that the cotton industry was already firmly established in Australia we should have to strike out the bounty proposed to be given to encourage it, but we know that although cotton can be grown in Australia the industry is not yet established. We are told that it has already been demonstrated that all the products mentioned in the schedule can be grown in Australia. It would be foolish to offer bounties for the raising of crops if we did not know that they could be grown here. I believe that Australia can produce almost anything that is grown elsewhere. As to the administration of the Bill, we know that expert assistance is already obtainable, and that the experts in the States Departments of Agriculture could make all the tests necessary under it. Experts attached to the agricultural colleges of the States are always ready to afford information. They are enthusiasts, and would be quite willing, if allowed by the States’ authorities, as I think they would be, to cooperate with the Federal Government, and thus save the money of the taxpayers. Because, we must, of course, avoid duplication. One of the objects of bounties is to prevent too big a burden from falling on any one S’tate. There are some productions which could best be undertaken in some States, and others in other States, and the proposed distribution would, no doubt, establish industries in those places where the conditions are best suited for their establishment. I do not think that the bounties will be sufficiently large to induce persons to enter upon production merely for the sake of obtaining money from the Government. Persons seeking to take advantage of the provisions of the Bill will be wise enough to look ahead and see what the future prospects of an industry will be. By encouraging production, the Bill will lead to closer settlement than we have now, and to the more thorough use of land which is now not being employed to the best advantage.
I hope, therefore, that the opposition which has been shown to the measure will be withdrawn. I have no fault to find with honorable members for asking for information, because it is not desirable to give bounties to industries which are already prosperous concerns; but I do not think that anything of the kind is intended, and I hope that, having obtained the information they think desirable in regard to the details of the measure, honorable members will allow it to pass.
.- In the first place, I should like to congratulate the Committee on having the Minister of Trade and Customs present to-day. It is a refreshing change to see him at his post when a measure of which he has charge is before us.
– Where is the honorable member’s leader and the honorable member for Macquarie?
– Mv leader is not in charge of the Bill. Now that the Minister is here, I hope that he will give us the information to which we are entitled in regard to its proposals. If I had had any hesitation about opposing this infamous scheme of bounties, it would have vanished after the statement of the Prime Minister at Maryborough on Saturday last. He has confirmed me in my opposition by declaring that this bounty scheme is part and parcel of the protectionist proposals of the Ministry. When, on a previous occasion, I declared it to be so, some of the Ministerial supporters attempted to persuade me that it was not; but the Prime Minister, in the speech of which I allude, said -
We have before Parliament a Bounties Bill, which sets aside £500,000 to be spent over tenyears, at the rate of £50,000 a year, to encourage farmers, cultivators, producers, and fishermen. This proposal does not touch, except” in a remote degree, any town industry. When, we speak of encouraging rural industries we are1 not using a figure of speech. We are backing: it up with a Bill and half-a-million of money, and that by way of a beginning. This is outside the scope of Customs duties. It supplements them, but when we do these things we are flying the flag of protection all the time.
– Surely the honorable member is not frightened by mere words !
– I take it that the Prime Minister was not joking, and his declaration plainly shows that free-traders are right in opposing the Bill. I am still further justified in mv opposition by the fact that no measure of the kind has been demanded by any section of the producers.
– The policy of the Bill was affirmed when the second reading was carried, and the honorable member must now confine himself to giving reasons why the sum asked for should or should not be voted, without going into the fiscal question.
– The clause provides for the appropriation of money for the payment of bounties, which involves a principle with which I am not in agreement. I do not wish to discuss the relative merits of free-trade and protection ; I merely wish to point out that I am justified, by the statement of the Prime Minister that the Bill is part of the protectionist policy of the Ministry, in voting against the proposed appropriation. By doing so, I shall correctly express the views of those who returned me as a free-trader, while I should be false to my principles if I did otherwise.
– The honorable member does not require to be told bv the Prime Minister that the bounties system and protection are twin sisters.
– No; but the justification for my opposition is further fortified by the statement to which I have referred. Ever, if I thought the granting of bounties justifiable, T should decline, on the eve of a general election, to place in the hands of the Minister a power for corruption and bribery which would enable the Government to say to the electors, “ We have at our disposal the sum of £500,000, which we can disburse practically at our discretion during the next .ten years.” That would allow them to improperly influence the electors. If this were the beginning of the first session of a Parliament, instead of the end of the last session, the position would be altogether different; but, under the circumstances, the suspicion that the Bill has, been brought forward in order to win for the Government by undue influence the favour of a certain section of voters is not without ample justification. Another reason for postponing the consideration of the measure is that its policy is one upon which the electors have a right to be afforded an opportunity to express an opinion, and an opportunity for doing so will be provided within a very short space of time. In my opinion, the money asked for would be better expended in establishing a Department of Agriculture, for the purpose of widening the sphere and scope of tech nical agricultural education, than in- the manner proposed. I congratulate the honorable member for Moreton upon the very informative speech which he has made. He, however, failed to prove that there is need for granting bounties for the encouragement of the production of the articles to which he referred, because, according to his own showing, they can now be profitably produced without State aid. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo pointed out a short time ago that olives have for some time past been grown successfully in South Australia, and that the olive oil industry is a very flourishing one; while the honorable member for Grey has informed us that no bounty has been paid by the South Australian State Government to foster it. The remarks of the honorable member for Darling, although intended to bolster up the Bill, also showed that there is no need for bounties for the encouragement of this and the other industries to which he referred. Where industries are now in existence, and likely to continue without the aid of bounties, it is altogether absurd to vote bounties Tor their assistance. I aim in favour of the proposal of the honorable member for Grey to refer the Bill to a Select Committee to inquire into the whole subject, and, if he does not press it, I shall be prepared, if I can do so under the Standing Orders, to move in that direction myself. I shall not be deterred by threats from the Minister as to the probable fate of the measure should such a step be taken. If the Government were to abandon the .Bill, the result would be that the country would save a very large amount of money which would otherwise be boodled away. In view of the grave financial problems which we shall have to solve in the near future, we have no- right to expend money in the manner proposed. I shall support the honorable member for Grey if he brings forward an amendment in favour of ‘referring the Bill to a Select Committee. If he does not take action in that direction, I shall move in the matter myself.
.- I shall oppose the Bill, because I thoroughly agree with the honorable member for Grey and others that not the slightest effort has been made to afford the Committee the information which should be furnished before such a large sum of money as that now contemplated is voted. It may be a trifling matter for the Minister to propose to spend £500,000, but in view of the fact that the proposed appropriation would impose further heavy burdens upon the States which are already subjected to a severe financial strain, I do not think that the proposal is warranted. The honorable member for Moreton made a most interesting speech, but unfortunately for him, almost everything he said in favour of granting a bounty for the production of cotton, amounted to a condemnation of the proposal. He showed us that forty years ago a bounty was given in Queensland, and that when the bounty ceased at the close of the American civil war, the production of cotton was practically abandoned. I do not know whether the honorable member expected that the American war would be continued, or that the bounty would be granted for an indefinite time, in order to maintain the industry. The honorable member also told us that men of enterprise like Dr. Thomatis, of Cairns, had succeeded in profitably producing cotton without the assistance of a bounty. I have read with the -greatest interest the reports upon the work carried on by Dr. Thomatis, and, in my opinion, it is to men of his character, and not to bounties such as those now proposed, that we have to look for the successful establishment of new industries. The Bill has been prepared with so little care, that it actually contains a proposal for the payment of a bounty for the encouragement of the growth of chicory. Some years ago, one of the enterprising farmers of Tasmania went in largely for the production of chicory, and found that the produce from his farm was more than sufficient to meet the demand for that article in the Commonwealth. As a result, he has. for some years, been trying to get rid of the chicory plants which are now nothing more than troublesome weeds. If the Minister had made any inquiries before framing the Schedule, he would have ascertained that it was absurd to propose to grant-a bonus for the production of chicory. The question with which we are mainly concerned is, whether the finances of the Commonwealth are in such a condition as to warrant the expenditure of £500,000 upon the objects defined by the Bill. _ If we were to fully discharge all our obligations in connexion with transferred properties and in other directions, we should absorb the whole of our surplus, and, in all probability, have to face a deficit. In all likelihood, we shall before very long have to look to new means of raising revenue, and yet we are being asked to practically throw away £500,000. It would be absurd for 11s to spend money in encouraging the development of the cotton-growing industry without paying regard to what is passing in other parts of the world. Quite recently it was announced that the principal English cotton manufacturers had formed a large fund with the object of growing the cotton necessary to meet their own requirements in India, West Africa, and Egypt, where the cheapest labour in the world is available. They propose to make themselves independent of the American cotton crop, .and to place themselves beyond the influence of American manipulators of the cotton market. If the cotton-growing industry in Queensland were developed to the extent that some honorable members seem to think is probable under the stimulus of a bonus, the product would have to be sold in the markets of the world in competition with products of cheap labour in the countries I have mentioned. Therefore, we should probably find ourselves compelled to abandon the industry, or to introduce cheap labour to enable our planters to carry on.
– Isi there no possibility that labour-saving machinery will render planters independent of the cheap labour?
– For the last thirty years very large rewards have been offered in the United States of America for the production of machines capable of superseding the cheap labour which now has to be employed in the cotton-fields. Although the planters have equipped themselves with the most up-to-date appliances, they cannot dispense with cheap labour, and the lowest wages current in America are paid to the negroes and mean whites employed upon the cotton plantations in the southern States. Honorable members have not been furnished with the information which they have a right to demand in connexion with the various products which are to be made the subject of bounties. I thoroughly agree with the view of the honorable member for Grey, that the Bill should be referred to a Select Committee, in order that the whole question may be thoroughly investigated. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo has given us some information with regard to the olive oil industry. When I recently visited Mildura, I found that the residents were cutting down their olive trees, not because they were not bearing, but for the reason that it was found to be more profitable to grow grapes. Moreover, there is not a sufficient market for olive oil. The honorable member for Cowper, who, as a business man, has had some experience in handling olive oil, told us that the failure of the local industry was due to the want of a sufficient demand for the product. If the industry were stimulated by means of a bonus, the producers would have to seek a market overseas, and would have to compete with the products of cheap labour countries such as those of southern Europe. The Minister has thrown the Bill upon the table as he would throw a bone into a hen-yard. He is apparently content that honorable members should pick the measure to pieces, and is willing to accept any remnant that may be left. I think that it is time that we took a firm stand against, an expenditure such as that proposed. If the Bill is passed in anything like its present form, a gross injustice will be done to those States which have as much as they can do at present to bear the burden of Federal expenditure. I shall support the proposal to refer the measure to a Select Committee.
– I wish to obtain some information from the Minister. I would point out, in the first place, that if bounties are granted to the full extent of £75,000 per annum, the total sum proposed to be appropriated will be exhausted in seven years. But the number of articles which are specified in the schedule are not being produced to anyappreciable extent, and a considerable period must elapse before they can be produced in any quantity. I refer to such commodities as rubber, kapok, &c.
– The discussion upon that point took place under a misconception. For a considerable time the bonus will be paid to develop the rubber industry by making use of the product of the rubber trees which are already planted.
– If the Minister can show that there is a sufficient number of trees planted-
– There are forests of them.
– Where ?
– In Northern Queensland.
– I did not know that the rubber tree was indigenous to Northern Queensland. If the Minister can assure me that it is, he will overcome the difficulty which has presented itself to my mind. I should like to ascertain from the honorable gentleman what period must elapse before we can obtain a crop in the case of many of the commodities which are enumerated in the schedule to the Bill.
– I can give the fullest information when we reach the schedule.
– But the information should be forthcoming now. The Minister’s amendment will have the effect of limiting the expenditure by way of bounties in any one year to £75,000, and if the commodities specified in the schedule cannot be produced in sufficient quantity, he may be prevented from spending that amount.
– That is very likely to occur.
– I am glad that the Minister appreciates the difficulty-
– There is no difficulty whatever.
– I think that there” is. The Minister would then regret his anxiety to obtain as much money as he can lay hands, upon. Upon the other hand, if he merely asks for what he will require, he will be in a position - should he be called upon at a later stage to request a further bounty contribution for other industries - to say, “ I have not exceeded my allowance in reference to the production of tropical commodities.” I hope that the Minister will give the information which I seek, otherwise I shall be reluctantly compelled-
– Do not threaten.
– I have no desire to do so. I hope that the Minister will impart the information for which I have asked. I wish him to tell me the quantity of the commodities enumerated in the schedule which is at present being produced, and the time which must elapse before new plants will yield a crop.
– It is impossible for me to give that information. I would willingly give it if I wete able to do so.
– The Minister should be in a position to give us reasonable information. If he cannot do so, it is about time that we referred this Bill to a Select Committee.
– A Select Committee could not furnish the information which the honorable member desires.
– A Select Committee would be able to ascertain the quantity of these commodities, which is at present being produced and how long a period must elapse before new plants would begin to yield crops.
– That information is embodied in the printed paper which, is before the honorable member.
– It is not. If the Government cannot supply me with the data for which I asik, it is about time that a Select Committee was appointed to obtain the information.
– Do not keep threatening. Let the honorable member move to refer the Bill to a Select Committee.
– I have no desire to’ augment the number of Select Committees which have been appointed from time to time, but the Government cannot give me the information which I seek, and I think that they ought to appoint a Select Committee to obtain it.
. -The Minister of Trade and Customs has acted most unreasonably in this matter. A case has been made out for the presentation of certain information, and the Minister confesses that he is unable to afford it.
– I do nothing of the kind.
– I am speaking of the matters to which reference has just been made. The honorable gentleman has stated that he cannot supply the information sought by the honorable member for Wentworth.
– And no one else can.
– Does the Minister mean to tell me that no one can tell what is the ordinary life of the rubber tree?
– That information has already been given in Hansard.
– Then what information was sought?
– The honorable member for Wentworth wanted me to say the amount which I should annually require to disburse by way of bounty upon each product specified in the schedule to the Bill.
– I am afraid that, even at the risk of incurring the Minister’s anger, I must make a few observations.
– Do anything to delay the passing of the Bill.
– The Prime Minister made some most unwarrantable charges last week when he declared to a press representative that Opposition members had been wasting time the whole of Friday morning.
– So they had.
– I am surprised that the Prime Minister should talk so recklessly, and make statements which are so absolutely devoid of foundation. He is becoming even more reckless in his statements than is the Minister who is in charge of this Bill, and I think that it is about time he took himself in hand. He is evidently losing his senses, of he would not make wild charges against honorable members who are seeking to establish some reasonable basis for the disposition of the money proposed to be granted under this Bill, and for its allocation when it shall become due. I find that the Minister of Trade and Customs knows absolutely nothing about this matter. This bounty system is to be administered by al Minister who tells us that he knows nothing whatever about tropical industries. Yet he should have concentrated in his Department the whole of the technical Knowledge required for a proper and wise distribution of this money. So far from the free-traders upon this side of the Chamber having originated this demand for knowledge, I would remind the Prime Minister that it emanated from two protectionists who, from long experience of the bounty system, foresaw that the money might as well be thrown into the sea unless its expenditure were wisely supervised.
– The honorable and learned member for Bendigo said the same thing.
– I am speaking more particularly of the honorable member for Echuca and the honorable member for Gippsland. . They know a great deal more about this subject than does the Minister of Trade and Customs, or the Prime Minister, and they have preferred a request for information concerning some plan which ought to be formulated before this money is expended. Let us put the matter upon a purely business basis. If a proposal were made to annually spend £75,000 of private funds in any trade or business operation, what would be the first step taken ? Would, not a committee of management be appointed to deal with the allocation of the money, and to ascertain all particulars connected with the industry in which it was to be embarked? Would not a complete scheme be drawn up showing how the money was to be expended, and what return was likely to result from it? In other words, in any private business undertaking the expenditure of £75,000 annually would necessitate the expenditure of £3,000 or £4,000 in the same period for expert advice and supervision. But when we come to deal with’ public money it seems that its expenditure is to be controlled only by a Department which is confessedly in total ignorance. I am now making no accusation against the officers of the Customs Department. They cannot be expected to possess the necessary expert knowledge upon all these matters, and, therefore, I say that, prior to the voting of this money, we should inaugurate a branch of tropical industry, no matter how modest its dimensions may be. There should be some system of supervision organized before the money is even allocated, much less expended. As I pointed out on Friday last, the industries, the establishment of which it is proposed to encourage, will have to come into competition with similar industries outside of Australia. In Java, for instance - as Senator Staniforth Smith has pointed out - there exists a most highly organised bureau of tropical industries, and the best experts in the world are engaged in teaching the people how to grow and develop the products of those industries. Our own people must come into competition with these coloured people who have not attained the degree of civilization and comfort which we have set up in Australia. We are asked to embark upon an industry without the special knowledge which they possess, and which is provided for them by a Government whose very existence depends upon the encouragement of these tropical enterprises. That being the case, ought we not to do something to insure the ‘success of this experiment ? What have we to show for the money which has been expended in the form of bonuses throughout Australia up to the present time? What has Victoria to show for the expenditure which she has incurred in that direction? There is not a Victorian representative in this Parliament who will not acknowledge that, outside of the butter bonus, that expenditure has been absolutely fruitless. If we turn to Queensland, what do we find ? The cotton industry has gone down. For the past forty years - off and on - bonuses have been granted with a view to encourage its establishment, but these have failed in their object because they were allocated in the same haphazard way that the Minister proposes the money made available under this Bill shall be allocated. In other words, they have been doled out with a political object, and not for the purpose of benefiting business enterprises which have been bond fide entered upon by those engaged in them. That is the outstanding feature in the history of tonuses all over ‘ Australia. Under this Bill, we are apparently going to repeat the same process, only upon a much more extensive scale. We are told that the Minister and his officers will exercise supervision over the amount of bounty to be distributed from time to time. If we are going to sanction the payment of money for this purpose by all means let us start under the most favorable conditions. Let us see, for example, that the kind of cotton grown is the best, and that it is cultivated in the places most suited to its production. And so with the proposals in regard to the production of coffee and milk. Let us see that the environment of those industries is such as will commend itself to those who have had long experience and . possess the most expert knowledge concerning them. That experience and knowledge is available to us; but apparently we are going to make no effort to avail ourselves of it. Of the sum proposed to be appropriated under this Bill, £3,000 or £4,000 per annum ought to be expended in obtaining the most expert knowledge that can be secured with regard to these industrial enterprises. The speech made the other day by the honorable member for Echuca appeals StronglY to me. The honorable member pointed out that in America - that go-ahead, successful country - a man who has the slightest difficulty in any of these enterprises receives the assistance of an expert who teaches him how to overcome it. The expert teaches him what is the best kind of seed to sow, and how to tend it, and bring it to maturity in the most successful way. Here, nothing of the sort seems to have been thought of. All that we know is that we are on the eve of a general election, and that the Government find it convenient to throw out halfamillion of money ‘to the far-back farmers of Australia. So far from helping the farmers of the Commonwealth, if we induce them to enter upon these enterprises, and they fail when the bounties terminate, we shall strike a. blow at the best interests ‘ . of the country, and do no good to the people we have allured into these industries. Are we going to see that some success shall result from these efforts? I presume that in granting bonuses the intention is that they shall not be a constantlyaggregating quantity, extending in perpetuity, but that at some time or other those to whom they are given must be left to make their way in competition with the industrial enterprises of the world. If these industries are to be kept alive by the bounty system, and if, owing to defective cultivation or want of the latest and best knowledge concerning them, they are to collapse the moment the bounties cease - and that is the history of the bonus system in Australia - we shall do a great wrong to the people who will be induced to enter them, and shall do no good to the Commonwealth. All that I ask is that business methods shall be applied to the allocation of these moneys, and the inspection of the industries to which they are devoted. If we are going to pay away this large sum every year, let us see that it is expended under the direction of the best available expert talent. If we expend a proportion of it in acquiring that expert assistance, we shall make a wise beginning, and insure a wise termination to the whole series of experiments about to be made. This is the plea I put to the Minister. I ask him to tell the Committee whether he or his officers have in mind a plan with this end in view. We might as well throw this large sum into the depths of the sea as distribute it without any guarantee that the best expert knowledge will be available to see that it is well expended.
.- We have heard a good deal as to the undesirableness of the Government proceeding with this Bill. We are told by one honorable member that we shall seriously affect the financial position of the States if we expend anything like this sum of £500,000 within the next ten years, and that the proper course is to establish a Federal Bureau of Agriculture.
– I did not make that statement.
– The honorable member for Dalley did.
– And the honorable member for Bendigo supported it.
– I am dealing with the statement madeby the honorable member as to the effect which this expenditure will probably have on the States.
– A Federal Department of Agriculture is provided for under the Constitution.
– I have yet to learn that the payment of bounties for the establishment of industries is not within the province of the Commonwealth. Some of the States had such a system in operation when the Constitution was passed ; but the power is now vested in the Commonwealth. I venture to say that the cost of conducting a bureau of agriculture on Federal lines would far exceed the sum proposed to be expended under this Bill. Some honorable members appear to think that this money is to be thrown away in a haphazard fashion. We have been told that it is necessary to educate the farmers before we induce them to embark upon these new enterprises. Having regard to their peculiar conditions, and the state of their finances, the States have done much in the direction of agricultural education. Victoria alone is spending something like . £100,000 per annum on this work.
– And I think that New South Wales is spending even more than that.
– That is so, and the expenditure is justifiable. I would remind the representatives of New South Wales who oppose the bountv system that that State is already granting to those engaged in primary industries bounties in the shape of a large annual expenditure on agricultural education, and also in the form of special rates for the carriage of their produce - rates below the actual cost.
– Then the honorable member would describe a prospecting vote as a bounty to encourage mining?
– The honorable member may call it what he pleases, but such a vote is certainly of assistance to the mining industry. The steps taken by the States to so educate the miners as to make them better fitted to prosecute their work, is also of assistance to them. We know as a matter of fact that the Reid-McLean Government sent representatives to the Hobart Conference of Premiers with a proposal, so to speak, “ up their sleeves” - it was a plank in their platform - that a Federal Department of Agriculture should be established. As the result of that Conference, however, the proposal was dropped.
– That was owing to State jealousy of the exercise of Federal functions.
– I have yet to learn that human nature has altered in any way. Under this Bill the Government practically propose to avail themselves of the public offers then made by the Premiers of the States. They stated that they were prepared to work in harmony with the Federal Government, and to assist them in every way in the work of establishing primary or other industries. In asking the Committee to agree to this large expenditure, the Government doubtless contemplate working in harmony with the States Departments of Agriculture.
– When I have an opportunity to speak, I shall show that that is exactly what I am proposing to do.
– The Government do not know what they are going to do.
– I am not in their counsels, but I believe that, like the Opposition, they are endowed with common sense. Some of the reasons advanced by the Opposition for objecting to the Bill are very “groggy.” There is a great falling away from grace. The honorable member for Dalley, for instance, desires to get under the protectionist umbrella.
– Order ! That question is not before the Chair.
– I am simply pointing out, sir, that the honorable member for Dalley said this afternoon that he would ask his constituents to give him an absolutely free hand to support the granting of bounties for the encouragement of industries.
– To obtain a bit of loot for my constituents before other people take the whole of it.
– To dip their hands into the pockets of the Treasury. When honorable members opposite are after loot, why should we not be after it?
– I deprecate the statement constantly made in this House that honorable members who support a proposal which thev sincerely believe will be advantageous to the people, desire to dip their hands into the Commonwealth Treasury. Such a statement is deplorable. Those who make assertions of that kind seem to be under the impression that those who differ from them are either scoundrels or hypocrits. They are not prepared to make a direct charge, but they insinuate-
– I have made such a charge straight out.
– Why should they insinuate that honorable members, when sup porting principles in which they believe, are doing something of a hypocritical character.
– Does the honorable member believe in granting bounties to existing industries?
– I have yet to learn that under these proposals - which the Committee will have an opportunity to re-shape - industries already established are to be assisted.
– What about the olive oil and coffee industries?
– Those are mere matters of detail. The honorable member for Wilmot said that in his judgment a number of our industries had reached the highest level that they were likely to attain, and that the probability was that as the result of a tall in prices, they would, to some extent, die away. He gave two illustrations in support of his statement. But, in my. judgment, if there were one reason more than another for which we should seek to establish new industries, it would be provided by the existence of the facts he mentioned. assuming them to be true. The Commonwealth has not yet made provision for the establishment of an educational agricultural Department, and it is not within the bounds of probability that such a Department will be established in the near future. No one appreciates more than I do the advantages which are to be derived from giving to those engaged in primary production the latest scientific information, but, at the present time, the Agricultural Departments of the States are doing all that can be done in that direction, and I think that the Commonwealth, instead of duplicating their work, should take advantage of it, if necessary assisting it by annual grants. I have not yet heard a statement of the intentions of the Minister in regard to the method of distribution which will be adopted under the Bill ; but I incline to the opinion that most satisfaction would be obtained by taking advantage of the existence of Departments in the States.
– If honorable members will give me’ an opportunity I shall make a statement.
– It has been objected that bounties are proposed for industries already in existence, but, in my opinion, members, having determined to vote for or against the bounty system, should deal with questions like that as they arise in connexion with the consideration of the schedule. I shall support the policy of the Bill, and leave myself free to deal with the various proposals of the schedule as I think best.
– I was surprised to hear the Minister say that if honorable members will give him an opportunity he will explain his position. If he has an explanation ready,I wonder that he has allowed the afternoon to be wasted. After the discussion which took place on Friday, I expected him to give honorable members information directly the Bill got into Committee in regard to the various questions which were then raised. I have no sympathy with the direct opposition to the measure, which I shall support, and try to make as perfect as possible, although it is not quite as I should like to have it. The Minister asks us to place at his absolute disposal, without any check at all, the sum of £500,000. That is virtually the meaning of the clause, read in conjunction with clause 7. But, as trustees for the public, we have a right to see that expenditure is properly safeguarded, and we should not be fulfilling our obligations to those whom we represent if we did not ask how it is proposed to distribute the bounties. The honorable members for Darling and Moira say that it is reasonable to assume that such and , such things will be done, to which the Minister assented, but why does he not tell us what is to be done. I should like to ask him a few questions in regard to this matter. In the first place, what is to be his system of administration? Has he any scheme in his mind ? Who is to supervise the proposed expenditure? Is it to be done by the Customs officials or by the officials of the States Departments? If it is to be done by the latter. I should like to know whether they have been consulted as to the lines to be followed? And I desire information as to the probable division of duties between Commonwealth and States officials ? To-day the Minister resented very strongly an allusion to a promise made by him to consult the Victorian Minister of Agriculture on a certain matter, saying that he would not consult any State Minister.
– I did consult him.
– I know that the Minister showed resentment when the matter was mentioned. Have the authorities, of the States been consulted in regard to these proposals, and, if so, have they promised to work in harmony with the Commonwealth Government? Furthermore, we should know, what are the conditions under whichthe bounties will be paid. It is all very well to say that these are things to be arranged hereafter; but we should have some information before voting the money. Judging from their attitude towards the measure, the Government do not care whether it passes or not. On Friday last the Minister of Trade and Customs left it in charge of a colleague who, although ready to meet the Committee, knew little about the details concerned, and had not the necessary authority to commit the Government in any direction. I was a member of the Victorian Legislature when £250,000 was voted for the encouragement of agriculture in various ways, and as the greater part of that sum was absolutely wasted, only the bounties for the encouragement of dairying being a success, the experience makes me cautious on this occasion. I deprecate the action of the Prime Minister, the Attorney-General, and others in referring to those who have asked for information in regard to the Bill as being actuated by the desire to waste time and to postpone the passing of the measure. Tf the Government had given honorable members a fair statement of their intentions in regard to the measure it would have been passed without trouble. Nine out of every ten honorable members are in favour of the Bill, and yet we have been discussing it for several days, because of the crude, unprepared manner in which its proposals have been submitted to us.
Question - That the word “ Fifty,” proposed to be left out, stand part of the clause - put. The Committee divided.
Aves .. … 4
Noes … 23
Majority … 19
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from 6.32 to 7.30 p.m.
Amendments agreed to.
Amendments (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the words “ in Australia “ be inserted after the word “ production,” line 7, and that the following proviso be added : - “Provided that not more than the sum of £75,000 shall be paid by way of- bounty in any one financial year.”
– I should like to know whether the Minister intends to explain how the bounties are to be paid. I think that he might as well give us the information at this stage as at a later period of the discussion. Honorable members should be informed as to the conditions under which the bonuses will be paid, what precautions will be taken against fraud, and so on. I remember that in South Australia a large sum was paid by way of butter bonus in respect of butter made from cream brought over from Victoria. Something of the same kind will happen under the Bill unless reasonable precautions are taken. We may, for instance, have coffee’ beans or other materials imported and ground up with some colonial product in order to enable the manufacturers to claim a larger share of the bonus. Some idea should be given of the share of the bonus which will fall to the producers and manufacturers respectively.
– I do not know whether it would be possible to make any explanation that would satisfy some honorable members opposite.
– But an honorable member sitting behind the Government is now asking for information.
– Yes; but several honorable members of the Opposition have submitted questions that it would be impossible for any Minister to answer. The honorable member for Echuca wanted to know if I had approached the States Governments with a view to ascertain whether they would assist in carrying out the work that would have to be per formed under this measure. He also asked whether I had arranged for the administration of the Act by officers of the Customs Department or by persons outside, and so on. I do not, in the ordinary way, appeal to the States for assistance or cooperation until I am prepared to take some action ; and it will be time enough to take the step suggested, if I think it desirable to do so, when the Bill has been passed.
– The Minister wishes the money to . be voted before he has ascertained whether or not the States will give him the necessary assistance.
– If the States do not co-operate with us, we shall manage to administer the Act without their assistance. We shall employ properly qualified persons to perform all the work that is required. My desire all along has been to work harmoniously with the States, and I shall enlist their assistance as far as possible. Some honorable members appear to think that we should establish a Federal Department of Agriculture before making any provision for the payment of bounties. I thoroughly agree with the honorable member for Moira that we should incur great expense if we created a Federal Department of Agriculture specially for the purpose of enabling, us to carry out the provisions of the Bill. Moreover, I think that it would be unpardonable for us to duplicate the good work now being performed by the States Departments of Agriculture, under which model farms and instruction depots are being conducted. In time perhaps the States may agree to allow their Departments of Agriculture to be superseded by a Federal Agricultural Bureau, which could make available to the producers of the Commonwealth the information gained at the various experimental stations and model farms. I shall give honorable members as much information as I possibly can with regard to the manner in which it is proposed to administer the Bill. We shall frame regulations prescribing the area which must be cropped in any one year, and the minimum quantity that shall be produced from such area. We shall also specify the proportion of the bonus to be paid to the producer of the raw material and the manufacturer of the merchantable article respectively. In some cases, the bonus may be paid wholly to the producer, whereas in other cases, in which the product will be of no value until it is converted, into a marketable article, it may be necessary to distribute the bonus between the producer and the manufacturer. I am only putting this forward as a possibility. In some instances, the producer may convert his raw product into a marketable article, and thus become entitled to the whole of the bonus payable in respect of his production. We shall prescribe the quantity of the merchantable article to be produced from a given quantity of raw material. We shall require due notice to be given of the intention of any person to claim the bounty, and stipulate that the notice shall give full particulars as to the area, locality, site of the factory, works, &c. Inspection will be provided for from time to time, and provision will be made for carrying out certain conditions in regard to factories and other works. In cases where certain manufacturing operations may be necessary in order to produce a marketable commodity, we shall probably prescribe that the grower shall receive his proportion of th’e bounty upon the delivery of the raw product at the factory.
– That is not provided for in the Bill.
– No; that is to be dealt with by regulation.
– Provision should be made in the Bill.
– It is impossible to provide for all such matters of detail in a Bill. Regulations will be made relating to the inspection of factories or works for the treatment of products upon which bounties are payable. With regard to the administration, every effort will be made to avoid increased expenditure. If we had to create a new Department, and to appoint additional officers, we should have to incur considerable expenditure. But, as far as ‘possible, the services of the Customs officers, cane inspectors, revenue inspectors, and officers employed in connexion with the supervision of vignerons and distillation will be availed of. The States Governments will be asked to render assistance in much the same way as in connexion with the Commerce Act. It is anticipated that this assistance will be cheerfully given, and that the services of officers connected with the Agricultural Departments, and of factory inspectors, will be placed at our disposal. In connexion with the Commerce Act, I have asked the States to allow their officers, who may technically become Federal officers, to see that, the regulations are carried out.
I have received a reply from the New South Wales Government, but I have not received any answer from the other States Governments, although I am aware that a reply from the Tasmanian authorities is in transit, because I received a telegram to that effect this afternoon.
– How long is it since the Minister communicated with the States Governments ?
– It is some three or four weeks. The New South Wales Government are willing to undertake the whole of the management if we so desire it. However, I do not intend to entirely abandon control of” the matter, but I do propose to meet the wishes of the New South Wales Government as far as it is possible to do so. In the same way, I desire to meet the other States Governments if they are prepared to agree with the proposals which I have submitted. The only question reserved for consideration has reference to the proportion of the salaries of State officers who are performing Commonwealth work which the Federal Government should pay.
– Does the Minister propose to divide a certain proportion of the bounties payable under the Bill amongst the different States ?
– I do r.of propose that all the bounties shall be disbursed in one State.
– Take the case of preserved milk as an illustration. That article is produced in the various States. Would the Minister divide the amount of the bounty payable upon it upon a -per capita basis?
– If the production of an article is suitable to several States, and persons enter upon the enterprise, a regulation will be framed to prevent the whole of the bounty payable in respect of that article from being distributed amongst the producers of one State. I wish to effect as reasonable a distribution as possible amongst the various States.
– Should not the bounties be divided between commodities produced in tropical regions and those which can be produced only in temperate zones ?
– That will be done.
– In Tasmania, the bounty will be practically limited to preserved milk.
– Some of the fibres specified in the schedule can be grown in Tasmania.
– Exactly. The factory inspectors, who are in touch with the producing community in the States, will be in a position to render efficient service. Where necessary, we shall ask permission to utilize the services of the police to collect information. It is anticipated that by this means full compliance with the regulations and conditions will be secured. Every care will be taken to insure that the articles to be produced are such as will command a good selling price in the open market, and that no means shall be adopted to produce any article merely for the purpose of securing the bounty, and subsequently of abandoning the industry. I do not know that there is any other point to which honorable members may desire me to refer. The departmental officers and I myself have had considerable experience in. the framing of regulations under the Commerce Act and the Trades Mark Act - experience which will be of value in drafting suitable regulations under this Bill.
– How long will it take to produce a crop of cotton?
– I should much prefer to give that information when we are considering the separate items enumerated in the schedule. By following that course, I can best conserve the time of the Committee.
– But if we eliminate several items, we shall then be devoting the full amount of the bounty to encourage the production of the remaining articles.
– The Bill can always be recommitted. I tell honorable members that if many items were excised from the schedule, I should be quite prepared to insert in the clause an amount proportionate to the remaining items instead of the full £500,000. At the same time, it would be much more convenient to deal with the separate items, when the schedule is under consideration.
– Does the Minister propose to make any distinction between the products of existing plantations and those of new plantations?
– That is a question which requires serious consideration. For instance, a good deal has been said in reference to the payment of a bounty upon the production of olive oil. I know that in some places that industry cannot be made to pay. To my mind, that is a good reason why we should do something to assist those engaged in it to make it remunerative, so that they will not destroy the plantations which are already in existence. In the case of olives, if new plantations were laid out some time must necessarily elapse before the trees would come into full bearing. I am inclined to think that we should be acting wisely if we offered a larger inducement to those persons who lay out new plantations than we offer to those who have already established plantations. I speak more particularly of the case of Mildura.
– The Minister will need to be very careful how he differentiates.
– I quite admit that. When I was at Mildura recently, the olive growers were threatening to uproot the whole of their olive trees. A company which bought the olives for the purpose of producing oil had commenced operations, but it declared that the industry did not pay. I should like to prevent that sort of thing. No doubt there was some justification for its complaint in that there were fruits such as raisins, currants, &c, the production of which paid very well, and, perhaps, that was one reason why the company did not invest as much in the olive oil industry as it otherwise would have done. It is proposed to appropriate £11,000 annually for the payment of bounties to the fishing industry. In addition, a sum of £8,000 has been placed upon the Estimates for the purchase and equipment of a trawler to exploit the fishing grounds along the coast of Australia. The object is to prove that a profitable industry can be developed. The question will then arise as to whether there should be a bounty paid upon the production of tinned fish, or whether the Government - for a time at any rate - should not embark upon that enterprise with a view to developing the fishing industry of Australia. I do not know whether honorable members are aware of the fact that at certain seasons of the year the pilchard, which is really a herring, passes along the eastern coast of Australia in shoals which are just as numerous as those to be found in the North of the British Islands.
– When the rivers are flowing, they keep three or four miles off our coast.
– But, as a rule, they enter our bays and harbors. They come in myriads, and if the attention of our people can be directed to it, I am satisfied that as profitable an industry can be established in this connexion as exists in any . part of the world. The intention of the Government in providing and equipping a trawler, and proposing to assist the preserved fish industry, is to develop the fishing industry of Australia, and to let people know whether they can trawl with some prospect of success.
– They do not trawl for herrings.
– But they catch them with trawling seines. The Treasurer has suggested that it might be possible to charter - and, if necessary, to alter - sufficient ships to undertake this work, and thus to avoid the expense involved in the purchase of a trawler.
– But trawling requires a specially constructed vessel.
– We have already received a communication from a man in New Zealand who possesses several trawlers-
– Why import a trawler ?
– We shall not be importing one if we obtain it in Australasia. Another matter which has been debated at some length has reference to the cultivation of the rubber tree, and to the years that must elapse before newly-planted trees can attain maturity. But I would point out to honorable members that for some time the bounty proposed in this Bill is likely to be devoted to inducing persons to utilize the existing rubber trees. Those who. have not visited the North of Queensland can scarcely realize that forests of rubber trees exist there. I have seen them.
– Is there not a danger of those forests being destroyed by being too frequently tapped?
-If that be the case the matter would have to be regulated. I cannot say that I understand the method of tapping, or that I know how much rubber should be taken away.
– The Commonwealth has no control over the forests of the States.
– But we might obtain control from the States. We could refuse to pay the bounty if any great destruction of the trees was going on.
– The Minister will see that there is the chance of the Bill being destructive in its effect.
– There is a verylimited chance. I have given honorable members all the information that I possess upon the points which have been raised, and I hope the remaining provisions of the Bill will speedily be agreed to.
.- The Minister of Trade and Customs spoke of somebody” having placed the cart before the horse, but, in my judgment, he fell into a somewhat similar error in his remarks concerning the establishment of a Federal Bureau of Agriculture. I understood him to say that the time might arrive when the detailed work of the States Departments of Agriculture should be taken over by the Commonwealth .
– No; I said that the time might come when the States would not desire to maintain their Departments of Agriculture on their present basis - that they might desire only to retain their experimental farms, and that the Commonwealth would then be justified in establishing a central bureau of agriculture.
– Then I misunderstood the honorable gentleman. A good deal has been said as to the expense that would be incurred in establishing such a Department. If we established a central office, which would collect all the information obtainable from the States Departments, and( make it readily available to the public, no great expense would be incurred. As far back as July, 1901, the honareble and learned member for Bendigo proposed that, in the opinion of the House, a Federal Bureau of Agriculture should be established.
– And the AttorneyGeneral very strongly supported that proposal.
– That is so. I then held the view that I hold to-day - that the proposal could not be effectively carried out unless with the assistance of the States Departments of Agriculture. I moved an amendment in that direction, but, although five years have elapsed since that proposition was submitted, nothing has yet been done.
– Although the motion was carried unanimously.
– I thought that it disappeared from the business paper.
– It was carried during the second session of the first Parliament.
– And was not amended as I originally proposed. Very little expense would be incurred in establishing a central agricultural office in which all the information obtainable from the States , Departments would be focussed. If such a Department had been established, we should have had at our disposal to-day much information that would prove useful to us in dealing with this Bill. It would be well for the Minister to ascertain whether the works issued by the States Departments could not be collected by an expert and revised for Federal use.
– I propose to take action in that direction as soon as this Bill is passed.
– I thought that the honorable gentleman considered that it would be necessary at the outset ‘ to establish a complete bureau of agriculture.
– Certainly not.
– Then the Minister proposes to establish a central office which will collect all the information obtainable from the States Departments, and make it available to the public.
– The chances are that the States Departments will work in harmony with us, and practically take over the administration of the Bill.
– I believe that they will; but I do not think that the States would agree to completely transfer their Departments of Agriculture to the Commonwealth.
– I do not propose that they should do so.
– I am glad to have that statement from the Minister, for his speech conveyed to me the impression that he considered the Commonwealth should eventually take over the detailed work now carried out by those Departments.
.- I am surprised that the honorable member for Grampians should advocate the creation of another Department. We have already incurred a large expenditure in connexion with new Departments, and if we are to have an expensive staff to administer this measure, we shall have practically nothing left of this sum of -£500,000 to distribute amongst the growers.
– The cost of administration would not be deducted from the amount voted for the payment of bounties.
– If I thought that these bounty proposals would not be selfcontained, I should not vote for .them. From what I have heard during the last two or three days, it seems to me that the freetraders have fallen from grace.
– The honorable memberslipped on a banana skin.
– That was years ago. Oneof the most ardent free-traders in theHouse slipped to-day over condensed milk ; another one slipped over sugar ; and another over the iron industry. The leader of the Opposition, when at Charters Towers, slipped over sugar, and at Ipswich he slipped over cotton.
– What is the position of the honorable member in regard to this Bill?
– I, too, am slipping. When I see the honorable member “ coming in out of the wet,” I feel that it is time for me to do so. If it is good enough for the honorable member for Dalley to “ slip “ in connexion with this Bill, it is . good enough for me to do so. As long as I stand by him, I shall be on the safe side of the hedge. If he has enough nous to “come in out of the wet “ for the sake of the farmers of Balmain, then it is good. enough for me to do the same for the sake of the artisans of Maranoa. The point I wish to emphasize is that we should not have a duplication of Departments. I should vote against this Bill if I thought that it would have such a result. There is a Department of Agriculture in every one of the States, and I am satisfied that the Queensland Department will afford every assistance to the Minister in his efforts to promote the interests of tropical agriculture.
.- I do not think that the honorable member for Maranoa has studied the operations of the central Departments of Agriculture in other countries.
– I have not been to the United States of America.
– If the honorable member had studied the working of the United States of America Central Bureau of Agriculture, he would know that the people glory in it, and that it works hand in hand, so to speak, with the States Departments! in promoting the welfare1 of the industries of the country. We shall do well if we follow the excellent example set us in that regard by the United States of America. Its central bureau has been a pronounced success, and we should not delay the establishment of a similar institution in the Commonwealth. I should be sorry if it went forth that, in the opinion of this. House, a Federal Bureau of Agriculture should not be established at an early date. We shall never arrive at a proper understanding of the science of agriculture, or secure proper relations between our agricultuial experts and the people, until we have such a Department.
– I think that the Committee will be disposed to be satisfied with the statement of the Minister ; but one wonders why it was not made when we entered upon the consideration of this Bill this afternoon.
– It would have been, but that I was interfered with by the honorable member for New England, who rose as I was about to speak.
– That means that the Minister in charge of the Bill would deliberately waste the time of the Committee in order to give a display of his stubbornness and his vindictiveness towards an honorable member.
– That is what his statement amounts to.
– I did not intend to convev such an inference.
-Both the Minister and his colleague would do well to dismiss such ideas from their minds. We are here to help them to push on with business, but they do not promote that object when they begin hurling across the Chamber accusations in reference to criticism that has been offered. I am not yet quite satisfied with the Minister’s- explanation. It is clear that he has in mind the idea of almost solely employing the various States Departments of Agriculture in connexion with this Bill. The question arises whether they have the requisite expert knowledge of these matters. I do not suggest that a Central Bureau of Agriculture should be established at this stage, or in connexion with this Bill. That does not appear to be necessary; but the Minister should satisfy himself that we have the requisite expert knowledge to wisely direct the operations of those who embark upon these industries.
– Does not the honorable member think that the authorities of the Wagga experimental farm could give us some useful information?
– They would know all about the production of olives.
– And perhaps they could give us information with regard to other matters.
– I have in mind several instances where the requisite knowledge was not available, with the result that serious consequences accrued. I remember that when we started a tobacco plantation in New South Wales we obtained from America an expert, to whom we paid a high salary, and that eventually, when the tobacco leaf was produced, we had some of it made up. When Minister of Agriculture I had a box of this tobacco in my room, and handed specimen plugs to members and others who called on me; but I never met a man who could smoke a pipe of it. That was the result of our experiments in tobacco-growing in New South Wales. If we are going to do something similar in connexion with the industries to be encouraged under the Bill, this money will be thrown away. We need to have expert advice available before these operations are commenced. Similarly, if a bounty is to be given for the production of rubber, we must have an expert to direct operations who will know the best kinds of trees to plant, how 1o cultivate them, how to tap them, and all the other details of the industry. Not only is it necessary that the individuals who engage in these enterprises shall be furnished with information as to the best way in which to conduct them, because if they fail it will mean ruin, but the Government will also be interested in insuring success, because failure will mean a blow to the whole bounty system. I hope, therefore, that the Minister will see that the best expert knowledge is available, and that opportunities are given whereby it may be made use of. It seems to me likely that the Queensland Agricultural Department has specialized in regard to a number of the productions mentioned in the schedule. The Queensland Government, for example, pays an expert £2,000 or £3,000 a year to advise in connexion with the cultivation of su ear-cane.
– We have several agricultural experts in Queensland.
– The Government propose to grant , £500,000 in bounties, and probably another £500,000 will be spent by those who enter upon the industries which are to be encouraged. To insure the success of the large expenditure thus involved, the Minister should see that the best expert knowledge is obtained, because such knowledge is essential to success. My desire is that the best scheme which can be devised shall be adopted in connexion with these proposals.
.- The honorable member for Echuca seems to think that I am opposed to the establishment of a Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau, but in that he is entirely mistaken. I would vote for the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo to-morrow. What I am opposed to is any duplication of the work of Commonwealth or States Departments. I should like to see a Commonwealth Bureau established on the lines of that in the United States, and, no doubt, if its establishment were proposed by the Government, the proposal would be quickly assented to by the House.
– The consent of the States would be necessary first.
– They will not move until we do so. It must be recognised that agriculture is the backbone of our prosperity, since all our wealth comes from the land. Therefore, in the interests of the community, we must adopt means for obtaining the bust expert knowledge, and provide for its dissemination. No one is more, in earnest in regard to this matter than I am.
.- A very pertinent question occurs to me in regard to this proposal, and that is, where is the necessary money to come from. Except in Victoria and New South Wales, the States Treasuries .have been nearly depleted. In private life, a man sometimes feels that a, certain thing is absolutely necessary, but, on looking at his bankbook, or examining his pockets, finds that there is no money with which to obtain it, and that the probability is that his income will not allow him to secure it for, perhaps, some years. When that happens, he, perforce, does without for a time. We should act in the same way in dealing with the money of the taxpayers, and, if we cannot afford certain expenditure, should not undertake it. The Treasurer’s Budget shows that we have no money to spare, and, therefore, while it may_.be desirable to give bounties for the encouragement of production, and to establish a central agricultural bureau on the lines laid down by the honorable member for Echuca, we have no right to increase our expenses.
– The Government propose to throw away ,£200,000 a year on’’ penny postage.
– They have no chance of carrying that proposal. No doubt Victoria and New South Wales could pay their share of the proposed expenditure, but have we a right to ask Tasmania, whose finances are in a very serious state, to do so?
– Tasmania was never better off than she is now.
– The representatives of that State say that the position is otherwise, and that the direct taxation borne by its people is higher than that borne by the residents of any other State.
– Yet every one is well off.
– Surely the Minister does not suggest that the more the State takes out of the pockets of the people the better off they are ! Then Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia are not in a position to pay their share of this expenditure.
– Queensland will not grumble.
– No, because the greater part of the money will be spent in that State.
– In Australia. There is no mention of Queensland in the Bill.
– That is so, and no doubt we must look at the proposal from a Commonwealth stand-point ; but what the honorable member for Moreton suggests is that most of the money proposed to be spent in bounties will be given for the encouragement of industries which can be carried on only in Queensland.
– The’ honorable member is mistaken.
– Can cocoa be grown in any but a tropical climate?
– It cannot be grown in Victoria.
– It can be grown iri New South Wales.
– We know that cotton has been grown experimentally in the northern parts of Victoria, and can be grown in New South Wales and South Australia, but it is being grown chiefly in Queens^ land, and that is the State in which the industry would be most likely to develop under suitable labour conditions.
– What does the honorable member mean by suitable ‘labour conditions ?
-By the employment of labour such as we do not allow to enterAustralia.
– And never will’, I hope.
– And never will. The production of cocoa, coffee, cotton, and rice are industries for black labour.
-Not the production of rice.
– Most of the rice grown in the world is produced by means of cheap coloured labour.
– A great deal’ of rice is now being produced by white labour.
– Most of the rice grown in the world comes from countries where cheap coloured labour is employed. Bounties are to be offered for the production of fibre from flax, ramie, sisal hemp, New Zealand flax, and pandanus.
– Most of those are industries which will have to be carried on in the southern parts of Australia.
– Yes. There is a fairly large quantity of flax growing on my own farm.
– The honorable member may be able to get part of the bounty.
– I do not intend to compete for it, though I shall be glad to give anv one who wishes to do so a few plants.
– Does it pay to cultivate this flax in New Zealand?
– Most of the flax used there grows under natural conditions, and I believe that, owing to the discovery of anew process for treating it, the, flax industry is ‘paying handsomely; but, on a place owned by my father-in-law, it was a long time before profitable use could be made of the plant, although a large area of land was covered with it.
– I am under the impression that it does not pav to cultivate New Zealand flax.
– I doubt if it does. Most of the flax now used grows naturally.
– Good luck to those who are making the industry a profitable one.
– I am glad to know of their prosperity. A bounty is also proposed for the canning of fish. At Port Fairy, in the Wannon electoral division, a large canning factory was established a year or two ago to deal with rabbits, and, in the off season, with fish, and a similar factory has been established at Warrnambool. But at both places it was found that a supply of fish which would make their operations successful was not available.
– Wait until the Commonwealth trawler gets to work.
– I think we shall find that, instead of getting fish, we are losing sovereigns as the result of having a Commonwealth trawler. I say with sorrow that, in my opinion, there is not in Australian waters a fish supply which would justify the establishment of fish-canning factories. We cannot compete successfully in the canning of fish with other countries.
– Our herrings are as good as, and as plentiful as, those in the north of Scotland.
– We have magnificent fish of many varieties.
– Experiments carried on from time to time in the various States by means of trawlers have not proved successful.
– The right honorable member for East Sydney says that these experiments have been successful.
– My recollectionis that they have not been successful. A bounty is to be offered for the production of sweetened and condensed milk.
– Victorian producers would be able to take advantage of that bounty.
– Have we a right to offer a bounty for the production of condensed milk ?
– Yes, seeing that we now import nearly £200,000 worth per annum.
– No doubt we do; but we have been manufacturing condensed milk for many years.
– And we cannot compete with the imported article.
– The industry is now a profitable one. Only recently a private company, the members of which came from New Zealand, bought out a co-operative milk company at Rosebrook, in the Western District of Victoria, in order to start the condensed and powdered milk industry. This took place long before the public, at any rate, knew that any bounties were to be offered for the production of such com- modities. The company embarked upon the enterprise as a purely commercial undertaking, and if the proposed bounties are granted, they will receive a very handsome present . at the expense of the general taxpayer. Any advantage derived from the bounties will not go to the producers of milk, but to the company.
– Does not the honorable member think that the bounties will lead to the establishment of other companies ?
– No. I think that if the company in question are successful, that fact alone will induce others to engage in similar undertakings.” The Commonweal thhas no money to spare to devote to such purposes as those contemplated by the Bill. We are not in a position to take up any fancy schemes at present. I should be very glad to assist the industries mentioned in the schedule if we had plenty of money ; but our financial position is such that we should hesitate to incur any additional obligations. The olive oil industry has been carried on for many years with great success in South Australia and in other parts of the Commonwealth, and we have no ‘right to take money out of the pocketsi of the people and give it to olivegrowers and others who are now making a satisfactory profit. Linseed oil and essential oils have been successfully manufactured in Australia, although I do not know that we have produced any appreciable quantities of castor, colza, or sunflower oil. It is an open question as to whether we should throw away any money in endeavouring to grow rice under the conditions which prevail in the Commonwealth. The Minister had something to say with . regard to the large number of rubber trees that are now growing in Queensland. I should like to know whether the Minister referred to native or cultivated ‘rubber trees.
– I referred to the native rubber tree.
– The Minister should know that the native trees do not produce an article so suitable for commercial purposes as that produced bv thecultivated rubber trees. I think that the Bill should specify that the bounty will be payable only in respect to rubber suitable for commercial purposes. As the honorable member for New England has pointed out, many years must elapse before a plantation of rubber trees can become productive. The Para rubber is the best, and I should like to know whether we have in any part of Australia a climate suitable for the production of that commodity. Probably the most suitable land would be found in the northern parts of Queensland and in the Northern Territory, and by offering the bonus we might encourage some persons to give up the cultivation of sugar cane in favour of rubber. It must be remembered that the present Government will not have to find the money required for the payment of bonuses, and I do not see any reason why we should hamper future Ministries by passing a measure such as that now before us. In view of the financial position of the States and of the Commonwealth, we should not entertain a scheme such as is now submitted to us, but defer its consideration until we have more money at our disposal.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 3 -
The bounties payable under this Act shall be at the rates specified in the schedule, and shall be payable in respect of goods : -
Bounties shall be payable to the grower or producer of the goods in the manner prescribed and subject to the prescribed conditions.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That after the word “ producer,” in sub-clause 2, the words “or both” be inserted.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the following words be added : - “ For the purposes of this section, ‘ producer ‘ shall include any person who manufactures or treats the raw material in such manner as to produce therefrom goods of a merchantable quality.”
– Do I understand that the manufacturer and not the producer will derive the benefit of the bonus under the Minister’s proposal ?
.- No. The grower may be also the manufacturer. He may convert the raw material into a merchantable article, and, in that event’, he will be entitled to claim the whole of the bonus.
Amendment agreed to.
. -I move -
That the following proviso be added : - “ Provided that the bounties shall be divided, as prescribed, so that they will be paid to the grower on production of a product fit for treatment, and the person who converts such raw product into a finished article.”
The amendment adopted at the instance of the Minister does not provide that the bonus shall be paid at any particular time, and my object is to secure that the producer of the raw material shall obtain his reward as soon as his work is done. There is no provision of that kind in the Bill. The Minister in charge of the measure, on Friday last expressed the opinion that my amendment would be an improvement, and agreed to accept it.
– I accept it.
– I think that we should satisfy ourselves that the amendment is worded in such a way as to convey what is intended. It seems to me that, as it now stands, it would be open to a manufacturer to claim the bonus before he had converted the raw product into a finished article.
– I think that my amendment would meet the point mentioned by the honorable member.
Mr. WILSON (Corangamite [8.44].- I think that, in order to place’ the matter beyond all doubt, it would be well to substitute the words “ has converted “ for the word “converts.” If the Minister will accept the amendment which I have suggested, I will move in that direction.
– I am quite agreeable to accept it.
– Then I move-
That the word “ converts,” line 5, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ has converted.”
Amendment of the amendment agreed to.
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 4 -
The owner, occupier, or lessee of any land or factory in which the goods were produced, or in which the goods have undergone any process, shall be deemed to have been employed in the production of the goods.
– I trust that the Comimittee will not agree to this clause. In its present form the owner of any land” upon which the articles mentioned in the schedule have been produced will be entitled to share in the proposed bounty. He may simply let his land, and he will be able to participate in the bounty. I think that we should bring the provision into harmony with the previous clause by insuring that the bounty shall be payable only to the producer and the manufacturer.
– It is not intended that the owner of the land shall share in the bounty.
– But that is what the clause, in its present form, means. In my judgment, the provision should be struck out. Evidently it requires to be redrafted.
.- According to the statement contained in the marginal note, this provision has been copied from the Sugar Bounty Act of 1905. But I would point out that in clause 4 of that Act the word “ owner ‘ ‘ does not appear, and I see no reason why it should be employed in. the provision under consideration.
– If the honorable member for Hindmarsh will allow the clause to pass in its present form I promise to consent to its recommittal at a later stage. I think that he is probably correct in his contention, and that the provision is not required ; but I cannot satisfy myself upon that point until I have seen a clean copy of the Bill.
– I am quite satisfied to accept the Minister’s assurance.
.- We all regret the impasse at which we have arrived owing to the fact that the Minister has not sufficiently considered the provisions of this Bill. But I hope that we shall not hesitate to rescue the honorable gentleman from his awkward predicament.
.- I am very glad to notice the new-born zeal of the honorable member for Wentworth. But it is our duty to enact legislation upon proper lines. I hold that the clause under consideration should be omitted, and that, should it be found necessary, it should be reinserted at a later stage. We have no right, on the mere assurance of the Minister, to allow a provision of this character to pass. Under its operation, as the honorable member for Hindmarsh has very properly pointed out, the owner of land might participate in the bounty payable upon any particular product. I feel that the Committee is not doing the right thing by permitting this clause to be retained for a moment longer than is necessary.
.- I sincerely hope that the Committee will not indorse the attitude taken up by the honorable member for Corangamite. I have carefully watched the progress of this Bill through the House, and the more closely I have done so the more I have been satisfied that it is altogether too much to ask the Minister to understand his own measure upon a sudden emergency.
Question - That the clause as read stand part of the Bill - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 (Minimum rate of wages to be paid).
– I should like to know whether the rates of wages to be paid to those engaged in any industry are to be the same all over Australia, or whether those carrying on operations in districts where low wages are paid are to have equal opportunities with those living in districts where high wages prevail to secure the bounties?
– I think that the course that will be adopted under this clause, and which will be in accordance with the law, is that we shall require those engaged in any industry in respect of which a bounty is paid to receive the standard rate of wages prevailing in the district or place in which the goods are grown or produced. It may be that in Tasmania the standard wage is . lower than that paid in Queensland, but the clause does not provide for an average wage to be paid all over Australia. The grower or producer claiming bounty will have to pay the standard rates of wages in the district in which the goods are grown or produced.
.- It seems to me that under this clause producers residing in districts where high wages naturally obtain, will not be able to obtain such a profit as will be secured by those carrying on operations in districts where low wages are paid.. It will mean that these bounties will practically be paid to low-wage industries.
– There is no lowwages about these proposals.
– The honorable gentleman knows that the rates of wages vary in the several States.
– What constitutes a “ district” - a State or part of a’ State?
– The clause is very vague. “ District “ may mean a municipal district or a whole State.
– It would mean, for instance, the Cairns district or the Melbourne district.
– After that lucid explanation, I think we are in a better position to appreciate the meaning of this clause. The point, however, is that it must be interpreted, not according to the views of the honorable member, but according to the law. How does the Minister propose to cope with this difficulty ? Unless he endeavours in some way to meet it, he will find that these bounties will foster industries in places or districts where low instead of high wages obtain. If the Labour Party are content with that state of affairs, then the responsibility must rest with them.
– I should like to know whether a farmer who, for instance, employs, his children in picking cotton, will be eligible to receive the bounty ?
– But this clause provides that standard rates of wages shall be paid.
– The honorable member would not expect us to require a farmer to pay the standard rate of wages to one of his children who, say, is ten years old, and is engaged in picking cotton.
– No; but I wished to have the point cleared up.
.- This clause is more or less governed by clause 6.
– It governs clause
– Clause 6 provides that any aboriginal native of Australia may be employed in these industries. The honorable gentleman must know that under this clause, aborigines, or half-caste Chinese, or kanakas will have to be paid the same wage as is paid to full-blooded white men.
– Why should they not receive the same wage?
– Surely the honorable member would not say that aboriginal natives of Australia should receive the same wage as full-blooded white men?
– In the shearing industry they receive the same wages.
– It has been the custom for centuries to pay coloured men a lower wage than is paid to white men. How is the Minister, under these conditions, to determine what is the standard rate of wages ?
– There is a similar section in the Sugar Bounty Act, and no difficulty has arisen in connexion with it.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 (Employment of Aboriginals).
.- This clause, which reads as follows, needs to be amended -
The employment of any aboriginal native of Australia or of any coloured person born in Australia and having one white parent in the growing or production of any of the goods speci fied in the schedule shall not prejudice any claim to bounty under this Act.
It means that any half-breed can derive the benefits of this Act, but that the children of two half-breeds cannot
– The honorable member should read the first words of the clause.
– The Minister now wishes us to believe that the words “ aboriginal native “ apply to any half-breed who is born in Australia.
– Any half-breed, or any Australian native.
– Can the Minister say that the child of two half-breeds has one white parent?
– But has the honorable member considered the words “ any coloured person born in Australia “ ?
– They are governed by the words ‘” and having one white parent.” It is clear that the clause as it stands, whilst giving certain privileges to halfbreeds, does not exend those privileges to the children of half-breeds. I do not raise this question because of any desire to obstruct the passing of the Bill ; the defect is one that must be remedied. I could not ask the Minister to amend it on the spur of the moment - his mind moves hardly quick enough for that - but I hope that he will move the recommittal of the clause.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 7 agreed to.
.- The Minister secured a certain measure of support for clause 2 by the statement that when we reached the schedule he would make an explanation as to the operation of the Bill.
– I said that I would give any information that might be desired.
– Hansard will show that my statement is correct.
– If the honorable member had read the Hansard report of my second-reading speech he would know that further information is unnecessary.
– I think that in his secondreading speech the Minister explained almost everything but the measure. I asked the honorable gentleman this afternoon to give us clear information as to the time that is likely to elapse between the date of planting and the maturing of these crops. In the memorandum circulated amongst honorable members he has given us information with respect to coffee and cocoa, but not with regard to cotton and several other products mentioned in the schedule. The Minister will see that there is some reason for my request, since he has undertaken not to expend out of the total of £500,000 more than £75,000 per annum. He will have to expend the £500.000, if he spends it at all, within ten years of a certain date. We are told that the cocoa tree will not bear until four or five years after planting, so that the bounty to be given in respect of that product will be payable for only five years out of the ten during which this system is to prevail. Then, again, the coffee plant, does not come into bearing until three years after planting. It will thus be seen that in most cases these bounties will not come into operation for a number of years. Will there be a sufficient production in the concluding years of the period to allow of the expenditure of the £500,000 asked for? I think that the Minister will see that my request for information is such as can hardly be overlooked.
– I should prefer to deal with each article .separately.
– It will be quicker if the Minister deals with the schedule as a whole.
[9.T6I. - The first item in the schedule is cocoa, for which a bounty is to be given for a period of nine years. The - bounty is to be at the rate of id. per lb. on dried beans, and the payments are not to exceed £1,000 per annum, though possibly I shall ask the Committee to increase that amount, because I intend to move the omission of chicory, and to apportion the £2,500 now allotted as a bounty for the production of coffee and chicory to other articles on the schedule.
– Why was chicory included ?
– Because I was informed that there is not sufficient chicory grown in Australia to meet the demand.
– There is one place in Victoria which can supply the whole Commonwealth.
– Yes. I found that out afterwards.
– Did the honorable gentleman get his first information from his officials?
– The results of inquiries by other persons were conveyed to me through the officials. It takes a cocoa tree or shrub from four to five years to come to maturity. I propose to make the Act come ‘into force on the ist day of January next, and no bounty will be payable on cocoa until at least four years after that date, .so that the payments made will all take place within the last five years. I referred to that possibility when I spoke of the probable variations in the payments.
– How much cocoa is grown in the Commonwealth?
– Not very much.
– Can cocoa be grown in Australia ?
– Yes. My information about it is that -
The conditions especially suited to its culture are warm humid climate, plentiful rainfall, and rich alluvial soil. Its successful culture is, therefore, to some extent, restricted, but ample areas of eminently suitable localities exist on and about the northern rivers of Queensland to produce all the requirements of the Commonwealth.
The importation of raw cocoa was in 1903 valued at £29,008; in 1904, at £17,027/; and in 1905, at £19,441, the importation of manufactured cocoa for those years respectively being valued at £138,103, £i57,527, and £185,686. The importation of coffee in 1904 was 1,291,114 lbs., valued at £37,668, and in 1905 1,754,866 lbs., valued at £54,482. The importation of ground coffee in 1904 was 403,529 Mds., valued at £20,523; and in ^05, 324,558 lbs., valued at ^16,928.
The production in Australia amounts to 83,632 lbs. per annum.
– Then why should a bounty be given for the production of coffee ?
– Because of the immense margin between the local production and” the importation.
– It is not likely that coffee is being produced at a loss. If there were no profit on its production, the industry would soon cease.
– I do not think that there .is much profit, and some persons are ceasing to grow coffee. Norfolk Island is a place well suited for this industry ; but the plantations there have been given up.
– Coffee is still being grown in Norfolk Island.
– I know that some of the largest plantations in the island have been abandoned.
– We could not give a bounty for coffee produced in Norfolk Island.
– Now that Norfolk Island is under the control of the Commonwealth, we should, when we have imposed certain restriction in regard to labour conditions, provide for the encouragement of its industries.
– The Government might, perhaps, apply its preferential trade proposals to that island.
– The bounty of 1 d. per lb. to be given on coffee beans will be equal to about 10 per cent. Coming to cotton, the.verv lucid and instructive speech of the honorable member for Moreton will show honorable members what development may take place in regard to the cotton industry. In 1904, we imported 537,793 lbs. of raw cotton valued at £11,844, and in 1905, 1,049,306 lbs. valued at £20,962. In addition there was, of course, an immense importation of cotton goods. The honorable member for Moreton gave the history of the cotton industry in Queensland, and spoke of cotton plantations having been established there many years ago. ‘ I. had the privilege of visiting what I believe was the first cotton plantation in that State. It was an extensive plantation on the Logan River, cultivated by kanakas, and the cotton when I saw it in 186.4 was flourishing; as well as it could anywhere. Only a short time ago, I received from the Hawkesbury Agricultural Col lege some pods which show that the cotton grown there is as good as can be grown. 1 am informed that cotton can be grown even in the northern parts of Victoria with successful results.
– It has been grown at Mildura.
– Honorable members will thus see what enormous dimensions the industry might assume if it were sufficiently encouraged.
– Did the experts st (Le Hawkesbury College, in New South Wales, tell the Minister that cotton could be profitably grown in New South Wales?
– They did not tell me so. I did not have an interview with the principal of the college; but I am informed by others who have had conversations with him that he holds the opinion that cotton can be profitably grown in, that State. It certainly can be successfully cultivated in Queensland, and there is beyond doubt an immense area of country suitable for its production. I believe that many of the fibres enumerated in the schedule can be grown more successful iv in the southern States than further north. Honorable members will see, by reference to the general statement which has been submitted for their information, that the imports for 1904 and 1905 were as follow : -
– Is not jute merely the refuse of the flax?
-I do not think it is the refuse, but merely the coarser part of the fibre. It will be seen that 1 here is great scope for the production of these materials to meet our own requirements, if for no other purpose.
– A bonus has been offered in Victoria for many years past for thsproduction of flax; but, except in Gippsland, the result has not been encouraging.
– If flax is notgrown, no bounty will have to be paid.
– That is right. Iri the meantime, the elections will be Over. -
– The honorable member should not make suggestions of that kind. He ‘knows that I would be perfectly innocent of bringing forward any proposal that would partake of the character of an electioneering placard. Now, with reference to fish.
– Why is the Minister so keen on fish ?
– Because there is a great opening for the development of our fishing industry. Great apathy exists at the present time, and I think that the industry is one worthy of development. If the bounties have no stimulating effects, no harm will be done. I would refer honorable members to the particulars given, in the statement to which I have previously referred, with regard ro Mie importations of fish. The imports are given as follows: -
– The tinned fish imported includes many kinds that we cannot obtain here, such as salmon and sardines.
– We have plenty of fish used as sardines round our coasts, and we can procure in Australian waters as good fish as swim in the sea. A considerable number of the so-called sardines placed upon our market are caught and put up here.
– Thev are young mullet.
– Perhaps they are. They are certainly not as small as the sardines that are caught in some other parts of the world, but they are a very good article of food.
– Do I understand that socalled sardines are caught and preserved here and placed upon the market at present ?
– Yes. Mr. Wilson. - Then why should we offer a bounty for the encouragement of the industry, if it is now a financial success ?
– Because the industry has not assumed the proportions that it should do. Moreover, I do not know that it is a financial success. From the figures that I have quoted, it will be seen that the total amount of fish imported is about 16,000,000 lbs., valued at £320,000.
– And the Minister is proposing to provide for bounties in respect to the production of 5,600,000 lbs., or a quantity equal to one-third of the total importations.
– It is not proposed to make provision for the development of the industry up to the extent of fully meeting our requirements; but if we succeed in producing sufficient preserved fish to supply one-third of our needs, we shall do very well. With regard to milk, sweetened condensed, and powdered, I wish to point out that the imports of preserved milk in 1904 amounted to 11,196,882 lbs., valued at £197,253, whilst in 1905 the imports amounted to 10,895,469 lbs., valued at £194,658. I suppose that the imports consist principally of what is known as Nestle’s milk. I have been informed by the honorable member for Canobolas that the manager of one of the large butter factories in the northern part of New South Wales states that the local manufacturers have not discovered the secret of preserving milk with the same success that is achieved by foreign producers.
– Our milk does not keep as well as that which is preserved abroad.
– The condensed milk, locally manufactured, is valued at between £20,000 and £30,000 per annum. Representations have been made to me that, the proposed bounty of Jd. per lb. for condensed milk is not sufficient, and I intend to increase the rate of payment to Jd. per lb. I also propose to increase to id. per lb. the rate of bounty payable in regard to powdered milk. Powdered milk is much more expensive than condensed milk, and even at the higher rate of bounty the payment in regard to it will not be so great in proportion as that proposed for other commodities.
– What is the present rate of duty upon condensed milk?
– One penny per lb. I do not know what duty is levied upon powdered milk.
– I do not think there is any duty, because the product is a comparatively new one.
– I am informed that 100 lbs. of whole milk yield about 36 lbs. of sweetened condensed product, and that 100 lbs. of whole milk yield about 13 lbs. of powdered milk. The imports of oils in 1904 and 1905 were as follow : -
– I thought that the Minister desired to pass the Bill through to-night.
– So I do; but I have been asked for information, and I am merely complying with the requests of honorable members.
– Refer them to the printed memoranda.
-I did not desire to give this information, but I have been pressed to give it. The only other items to which I intend to refer are rice and rubber. I find that during 1905 the importations of rice, uncleaned, aggregated 259,000 centals, valued at £n3>554, and of rice, n.e.i., 253,319 centals, valued at £112,939. There is thus a large vacuum which requires to be filled up. In 1904 the importations of rubber manufactures, including crude rubber, were valued at £100,389, and in 1905 at £102,983, whereas the importations of rubber manufactures, n.e.i., in those years were valued at £100,275 and £1.29.482 respectively.
.- I should like some definite information regarding the intended destination of the bounty upon olive oil. I hope that it is not intended that it shall pass into the pockets of the rich growers and manufacturers who are already established and in the enjoyment of the proceeds of a lucrative industry. I have no objection to urge against the payment of the bounty, so long as it is limited to the production of new olive trees. But it is distinctly objectionable to put a bonus into the pockets of persons who have never asked for it, and who do not want it. When the Tariff Commission was sitting in South Australia we obtained some evidence respecting the olive oil industry in that State. We found that it was well established, and that it produced a splendid article. The only objection which the growers had to raise was against the proposed reduction of the duty upon cotton-seed oil. Under the existing Tariff there is a dutv of is. 4d. per gallon upon olive oil, and in reference to that matter I asked Mr. G. F. Cleland, who was a representative witness, the following questions : -
You contend that the abolition of the duty would lead to further importations of cotton seed, oil to compete with your olive oil? - Yes, and our olive oil would be adulterated with the cotton seed oil.
As to both items you wish the Tariff to remain as it is? - Yes.
Mr. Cleland spoke upon behalf of himself, Messrs. Thos. Hardy and Sons Ltd., the Waverley Vinegar Company, the Stoneyfell Olive Company Ltd., and Messrs. W. F. Auld and Sons. We were informed that the Stoney fell Company have 100 acres under olive cultivation, and that Sir Samuel Davenport had about fifty or sixty acres; also, that there were a great number of small gardens, of five or six acres. We were further told that the capital invested in the industry in South Australia was between £50,000 and £60,000, and that the total output of olive oil from the existing plantations was from 20,000 to 25,000 gallons per annum. The wholesale price realized for that product is from 8s. 6d. to 9s. 6d. per gallon, the imported article commanding only 6s. 6d. per gallon. According to the present output, therefore, I estimate the value pf the total production of olive oil in South Australia at about £10,000 annually. The gentlemen who are engaged in this industry, I think, would merely laugh up their sleeves if this bounty were forced upon them. Whilst strong arguments may be urged in favour of extending the industry and of encouraging the planting of fresh plantations, it is not necessary to offer a bonus to Sir Samuel Davenport and the other gentlemen who are engaged in this trade, who are well established, and who real Iv enjoy a monopoly of the olive oil production of the Commonwealth. I would seriously impress upon the Minister the need for considering the representations which I have .made, and I would urge that in the regulations which he frames he should limit the payment of the bounty to olive oil which is the product of new plantations.
.- I have very great pleasure in supporting the contention put forward by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. He has come to this Committee fresh from Tariff investigation, and is well supplied with information derived from those who are engaged in the olive oil industry. He tells us that the value of their output is about £10,000 per annum. Yet we are asked to sanction the annual payment of a bounty of £6,500 to persons who do not require it. Earlier in the debate we were informed that the olive plantations which formerly existed at Mildura had been allowed to pass out of cultivation, and that the trade in olive oil had drifted to South Australia. I have often heard the expression in reference to greasing the fat pig, but it seems to me that under the proposal of the Minister we are realling oiling the fat pig. Personally, I am opposed to the system of bounties, because I recognise the evils which are inherent in it. Every honorable member who supports the proposals contained in this Bill has to urge some excuse for his attitude. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo has emphasized the need for limiting the bounty to the product of new plantations. As a consumer of olive oil, I know that my medical advisers assured me that the best oil was that which is produced in South Australia.
– It is a first-rate article.
– The medical fraternity do not recommend the use of Italian oils because they are largely adulterated with cotton seed oil. It is the purity of the South Australian article that causes it to command such a ready sale. I trust that the Minister will agree to the elimination of this item, and thus save to the Commonwealth £6,500 annually. The argument of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo that the bounty should not be paid to a large corporation does not weigh with me in the slightest degree. The only point upon which I have to be satisfied is whether the industry requires the assistance proposed to be extended to it. I cannot differentiate between a large company and a small company, or between a large company and a private individual.
.- I do not rise to champion the payment of a bounty upon the production of olive oil, but I wish the Committee to be very careful in what they are doing. If we strike out the item under consideration, it will be necessary to strike out the proposals of the Government in regard to other oils. For example, I am- assured that linseed oil is used for the adulteration of olive oil. This is. a question which ought not be to hurriedlydecided merely upon the ground that the olive oil industry is paying in South Australia, because it is proposed to subsidize another industry which will detrimentally affect the olive oil industry, and which is already established. I suggest that the Minister should obtain further information before agreeing to strike out this item.
– I will not agree to strike it out.
. - I agree with the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo that it is not necessary to offer a bounty for the manufacture of olive oil. At the same time, it is necessary that more olives should be produced than are at present grown in the Commonwealth. I would point out to the honorable member for Grey that the other oils which are enumerated in the schedule do not compete with olive oil. As has al ready been stated by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, the olive oil which is imported is sold at a much cheaper rate than is the South Australian article, because the former is largely adulterated with cotton seed oil. We are legislating in this Parliament against adulteration, and the States Parliaments are taking similar action. A Bill is soon to be brought ‘before the.South Australian Parliament which will prevent the importation of oil of the character referred to by the honorable member. Thepoint is that “the public believe that they are buying pure olive oil, when in reality, they are buying cotton-seed oil. The difficulty is one that may readily be overcome.. Cotton-seed oil is valuable- for certain purposes.
– The Commerce Act will apply to such importations.
– Had it been amended as I proposed, it would have carried out what we desire in this direction. Under the Commerce Act, imported olive oil must bear a true trade description, but the moment that that oil passes from the custody of the Department the trade description may be removed, and unless the
States themselves pass laws to prevent the sale of adulterated goods, it cam be sold in an adulterated form. I do not think that we shall incur any risk in passing the schedule in the form suggested by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo.
– Will the Minister limit the bounty to the products of new plantations ?
– I dd not know whether the Minister has considered that point.
– An olive tree takes seven years to reach maturity
– It is true that South Australian olive oil competes successfully even against the cheap adulterated oils at present being imported, and as soon as the State passes a Law to prevent the introduction of adulterated oil, there will be an enormous increase in this industry. I do not think that it is necessary to grant a1 bounty for the manufacture of olive oil; but if there is an increased output, an increased supply of olives will, of course, be necessary. I therefore think it will be well to encourage new olive plantations by means of a bounty. If the Minister does that, I shall be satisfied.
.- I do not agree with the view expressed by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo that the granting of a bounty for the production of olive oil should be restricted to that which is the product of new plantations. It would mean that we should have new plantations springing up to compete with those already estaBlished. Ten years ago a Newcastle firm with which I was associated purchased olive oil prepared in South Australia, which then competed in the open markets of New South Wales. We should carefully consider whether we ought to grant a bounty to an industry that is already well established. The people engaged in the olive oil industry are well satisfied with the present Tariff; but, at the same time, I do not think that it would be fair to deny to those who have already done the pioneering work of the industry the right to participate in this bounty.
Mr. MCWILLIAMS (Franklin. [10,5]. - The discussion on the question has shown the absurdity of the proposals now before us. The olive oil industry is firmly established in South Australia, and has practically obtained control of the Australian market. There is a. duty of is. 4d. per gallon on the oil; but before the imposition of the Commonwealth Tariff the South Australian product was able to compete successfully in the markets of Australia. It has been shown that, as is the case in connexion with the payment of the sugar bounty to growers in New South Wales, the bounty for the production of olive oil will be paid to persons, not for establishing a new industry, but for doing that which they are doing in the absence of a bounty. If the intention is that the bounty shall be paid only to those who plant new plantations, the position will be even more absurd. It will mean that those who have had the pluck, skill, and enterprise to establish the industry in the absence of a bounty will not participate in this distribution. It has been suggested that, although the industry is established in South Australia, this bounty should be paid to encourage the production of /Olive oil in New South Wales.
– The farmers there have put their land to a better use.
– My experience is that the practical farmer is the best judge of the crops for the production of which his holding is best adapted. I firmly believe that Ministers have not given to this question one tithe of the consideration that it deserves, and that the information furnished during this debate is entirely new to them. On the occasion of the Parliamentary visit to Mildura we saw some of the settlers grubbing out olive trees, because there was no market for olives, and the honorable and learned member for Bendigo has told us that a similar course has been pursued by orchardists in his district. Is it reasonable to assume that, as the result of the expenditure of a few thousand pounds, we shall create an industry which practical experience teaches us cannot find a market abroad? If bounty is to be paid it would be better to grant it on the export of olive oil rather than to offer it as an inducement to others to enter into competition with those who have already established the industry. But that the Standing Orders forbid it, I should move that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee. I wish to enter my emphatic protest against a proposal that a few of the people of Australia shall dip their hands into the pockets of the. taxpayers to assist an industry which is already so firmly established in Australia that it is able to successfully compete against the imported article. If we are to give a bounty for the production of olive oil, there is no reason why we should not grant bounties for the production of wool, butter, potatoes, apples, and other products already being raised successfully in Australia. If the system is to be adopted it would be better to apply it to the creation of industries which are new to Australia., and which could be advantageously entered upon here. I shall vote against this proposal, and shall call for a division in order that we may know who are prepared to saddle the taxpayers of Australia with heavy expenditure in bolstering up industries that are already flourishing in the Commonwealth.
.- I do not think that it would be wise for the Committee, at this stage, to strike out this item.. Clause 7 gives the Minister a discretionary power to vary the amounts in the fourth column of the schedule, and it will enable him to deal with cases of the kind to which reference has been made. Whilst there is much force in the views put forward by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, I feel that the question is one upon which we should not arrive at a hasty decision. It may be that the Minister may see fit to grant the bounty to those who have already been growing olives, but who plant anew. There are many parts of the Commonwealth other than South Australia, where it may be desirable to encourage the industry, and, since the Minister has the discretionary power to which I have referred, I think that we should allow this item to remain in the schedule.
– I move -
That the item “ Cocoa . . . £1,000,” be left out.
The Minister has given the Committee certain information in regard to the importations of cocoa, and the conditions under which it can be produced, but, to my mind, it is not sufficient to justify us in voting for the proposed bounty, and, as I find that I am debarred by the Standing Orders from moving to refer the schedule to a Select Committee, I propose that the item be struck out.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Schedule - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 24
That the item “Coffee . . . £2,500,” be left out.
There is now a duty of 3d. per lb. on raw coffee, and of 5d. per lb. on roasted and ground coffee, which should surely give sufficient protection to all who wish to embark in the coffee industry here. At the present time the duty is equal to 60 per cent., and the production of coffee in Australia amounts to 83,632 lbs. per annum, showing, that the industry is firmly established, and that no bounty is needed to bring it into existence.
– I am n°t inclined to attempt to draw distinctions where the differences are not very marked. It is difficult to differentiate between the merits of the proposals for bounties in connexion with cocoa, coffee, chicory, and many other items, and for that reason I voted against the omission of cocoa. Eventually, I hope that an opportunity will be given to deal with the schedule as a whole, so that we may apply the same policy to all the items, and either accept or reject them.
– I understood that the proposal was to give bounties to encourage the establishment of new industries ; but it is clear that the coffee industry is already established in Australia, and, therefore, I am not going to allow the general public to be robbed for the benefit of coffee growers.
– Order !
– When something is taken from a person without a fair return being made to him, that is robbery. It is proposed to take from the public by force of law money which belongs to them, to give it to others who have no right to it. If that is not deliberate thieving by law, I do not know what would be.
– The honorable member must withdraw that remark. It is not in order to refer to any action of the Committee as thieving.
– In that case I withdraw it. Honorable members, however, cannot get away from the fact that we are asked to take a large sum of money out of the pockets of the people to give to persons who are engaged in a well-established industry. If bounties are to be given to those engaged in established industries, let us apply them all round. Why should we not give a bounty for potato growing?
– That is not a new industry.
– No; and coffee growing and olive growing are not new industries. On what principle do honorable members draw a distinction between these industries? I am ‘here to fight in the interests of the public, and to prevent their money from being given to coffee growers and others who are profitably engaged. The Prime Minister, when on the public platform, talks about trying to help the primary industries, but he makes no effort to do so when in this Chamber. I think that it is an outrage that we should be asked ‘to take money out of the pockets of the people of Australia and give it to the coffee-growers of Queensland. We know very well that coffee cannot be grown by means of white labour that has to be paid at the rate of 7s. or 8s. per day.
– Yes, it can.
– It can be grown by white children. Does the honorable member want his children to go into the coffeefields and pick berries ? Does he want to force women and children into an employment of that kind?
– It is better to give women and children employment in the coffee fields than to drive them into cow-yards, where they have to milk night and day.
– I do not drive them into cow-yards. My object has always been to make the conditions of life as comfortable as possible, and I do not believe in employing white children, in tropical industries. Let those who talk about their love of humanity give practical expression to their principles, instead of making it harder for the poor by imposing taxes upon them, in order to foster black labour industries in Queensland. I could understand the proposals in the Bill being supported bv those who believe in injuring the great bulk of the community for the benefit of the few, but I cannot conceive of free-traders giving any countenance to the scheme now under consideration. There is already a duty of 5d. per lb. upon roasted coffee, and or 3d. per lb. upon raw coffee. Surely the protection’ thus afforded should be sufficient, without taking money from the people to give to those who are engaged in an industry that is already established,1. If honorable! members had amv conscience, they would not for one moment support such a proposal. Coffee-growing is a Queensland industry, and consequently every representative of that State agrees with the provision contained in the Bill, whether it be right or wrong. Most of the industries intended to be encouraged by means of bounties are carried on in Queensland, ,and it seems to me that that State is getting hold of the big end of the stick, and that the representatives of other States should step in and protect their own people.
.- There is an old saying that the heart benevolent ,and kind most resembles God. The honorable member for New England professes to be animated by the most benevolent intentions, but he has no hesitation in casting the most serious reflections upon men who are working in tropical countries in a perfectly fair and honest way, and are growing commodities which have to enter into competition with the products of cheap labour in other parts of the world.
– I do not want to rob the poor.
-The honorable member has, in utter ignorance of the facts, cast reflections upon those engaged in coffee planting. Coffee is being produced in Queensland by means of white labour, and the men engaged in the industry are receiving the highest rates of wages. Neither women nor children are employed on the coffee plantations.
– What is the market price of raw coffee?
– About 5d. per lb.
– And there is a duty of 3d. per lb. upon the raw beans.
– The honorable member for New England may take it from me that white farmers in Queensland are producing coffee without employing any coloured labour whatever. Although, the honorable member has cast some reflections upon Queensland, I would point out that the representatives of that State have not asked for the measure now before us, and do not desire to derive any benefits, other than those which may be conferred in an equal degree upon other States. No reflection should be cast upon Queensland because she is successfully developing tropical industries by means of white labour.
– At the expense of the whole Commonwealth.
– Is it part of the programme of the honorable member, as an exponent of free-trade principles, to slander the white people of Australia who earn their living by producing tropical commodities? The honorable member should be careful not to make statements without authority or knowledge, and he certainly should not make wild charges against men who will not receive more than a fair share of the benefits proposed to be conferred bv the Bill.
– I do not intend to say one word against those men who have gone into the tropics to make their homes there. They have my utmost sympathy, and I would do everything I reasonably could to assist them. The position which I wish to put is that there is already a duty of 3d. per lb. upon raw coffee, which is equivalent to 60 per cent. I have always been prepared to give our local industries a fair chance, but I think honorable members will recognise that a 60 per cent, duty upon an article of food which enters into general consumption is a fairly stiff protective impost.
– How does it compare with the duty of £14 per ton upon jam ?
– The duty upon jam does not nearly represent a duty of 60 per cent.
– Do not the poor people eat jam?
– If the honorable member will assist me to reduce the duty upon sugar by one half, I am quite prepared to vote for the abolition of the impost upon jam. For all practical purposes we are asked to grant this bounty to men who have never asked for it.
– The honorable member for Herbert says that the industry in Queensland is in a languishing condition.
– If that be the case, it is clear that a 60 per cent, duty will not enable coffee to be grown successfully in Australia, and if that be so, it is time that this Parliament refused to recognise the industry. It is not suggested that every grower of coffee throughout the Commonwealth hopes to derive assistance from the proposed bounty. How many individuals will be benefited by it? I repeat that if the industry cannot compete successfully with the aid of a 60 per cent, duty, any bounty which we may extend to it will be simply thrown away. It seems to me that the men who are already engaged in coffee cultivation are the only individuals who will be benefited by the payment of this bounty. The whole object of the Bill appears to be either to make a free gift to men who have already established an industry, and who have made a success of it, or to bolster up an enterprise which is languishing, notwithstanding the operation of a high duty. I shall vote in favour of excising the item.
– So far from having cast a slur upon persons who have embarked upon tropical pursuits in Queensland - as has been alleged - I did nothing of the kind.
– The honorable member cast a slur upon the members of this Committee.
– Some of them deserved it. What I said was that coffee was evidently a tropical product, which could not be successfully grown by means of white labour - in other words, that the industry could not afford to pay white men’s wages. If it is to be carried on by means of white labour, the cost involved will inevitably fall upon the Commonwealth, as was the case in connexion with the sugar industry. I object to the establishment of black labour industries at the expense of the Commonwealth The honorable member for Wide Bay implied that I did not know anything about this question. I may inform him that when I visited a coffee plantation in Queensland I had a long conversation with the manager, who informed me that it was impossible to pay white men’s wages to the persons employed in picking the coffee beans. When this statement was made I inferred that it would be necessary to employ women and children to pick the berries. I do not wish to see women and children enter upon such work, but it is only in that way that the industry could be established. Industries which cannot stand, as it were, on their own feet must be assisted by means of cheap labour. I am opposed to any proposal which will increase the burdens of the Commonwealth for the encouragement of industries that cannot live except by the employment of cheap labour. Some of the representatives of Queensland will, of course, vote for this item’, although they cannot believe that it will be of any value. Their sole desire, apparently, is to get a dip into the Commonwealth purse.
.- The honorable member for New England said that coffee could not be profitably grown in Queensland except by black labour. We know very well, however, that under this Bill bounties will not be paid in respect of products raised by cheap labour. If the Bill be successful, it will mean that, at a cost of £500,000, we shall establish industries which will enable us to obtain from local sources goods to the value of something like £1,500,000 per annum, that we are now importing. This result will1 be achieved at a cost of 3d. per head of the population per annum, or a total cost of 2s. 6d. per head of the population in respect of the ten years’ period.
– For the benefit of one particular party
– We hear those who cry “ stinking fish “-
– I do not raise that cry. I simply say that we cannot produce some of these things.
– We can assist to establish these industries-
– By robbing other people.
– Some honorable members are continually talking of the need to assist our primary industries, but when they are put to the test we quickly learn the true value of their protestations.
– I would remind the honorable member that the item before the Committee relates to coffee.
– I am endeavouring to point out that there is no foundation in fact for the statement of the honorable member for New England that coffee can be grown in Australia only by black labour. We know that it can be produced by white labour.
– At the cost df the community.
– The industry is already established in Queensland.
– Coffee can be grown in Queensland, but it has not been proven that the industry is an established one. As a matter of fact, it does not supply 25 per cent, of the quantity of coffee consumed in Australia. There is surely a possibility of diversifying our industries. We are constantly told by the Opposition that we should people the waste places of Australia, and so increase the avenues of employment. We now have an opportunity to do so, and, even if we do not succeed in establishing all the industries to be assisted under this Bill, the risk is one that we may well incur.
.- I sympathize with the remark made by the honorable member for Wide Bay that in dealing with this item honorable members should not be influenced by any consideration as to whether Queensland or any other State will be specially benefited by it. If any part of Australia can be materially benefited by means of this bounty we should do well to agree to its payment. I take exception, however, to the item solely on the ground that it relates to an industry that is already a success m Australia. The cocoa industry is not established, but it may become a success in this country. We have already a duty of 60 per cent, on coffee, and that impost has enabled the industry to be successfully established here. We are the guardians of the public purse-
– We should not agree to this expenditure if we were dealing with our own money.
– I do not sympathize with some of the remarks made by the honorable member for New England. I point out, however, that we are the guardians of the public purse, and that we are asked to pay away the money of the people to assist an industry which is already adequately protected and well established. I therefore purpose to vote against this item. Every line in this schedule should be carefully considered. We cannot vote for bounties for industries that are already established unless we are prepared to do an injustice to the people of Australia.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
.-Does the Minister propose to reduce the amount payable in respect of the production of coffee and chicory?
– do. I move -
That the item “Coffee, Chicory….. £2,500,” lie amended by reducing the amount to £1,500.
– Why this amendment?
– Because I propose to strike out the item “ chicory “ and to transfer £1,000 to the item “Milk. - Sweetened Condensed.”
– I wish to know why the Minister has submitted this amendment? If he proposed that £2,500 should be devoted to bounties for the production of coffee and chicory, I fail to see why that amount should be reduced after the item “ chicory “ has been struck out.
– The amount set down was that thought likely to be required to encourage the production of coffee and chicory and, leaving; out chicory, I might with reason ask for £1,250 to encourage the. production of coffee alone ; but I prefer to ask for a little more, and have therefore moved the reduction of the amount to £1,500. If another £1,000 is required, steps will be taken to obtain it ; but I do not think that that will be necessary for some time to come.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Johnson) proposed -
That the item “Coffee . . . £1,500,” be left out.
Question - That the words “ Coffee £1,500 proposed to be left out stand part of the schedule - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 23
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the item “ Chicory “ be left out.
– I move -
That the item, “ Cotton . . . £4,500,” be left out.
The honorable member for Moreton gave us a very clear and interesting history of the efforts that have been made to grow cotton in Queensland. According to a little pamphlet that was issued a short time ago, these attempts cover a long period. At the time of the cotton famine, when the American Civil War was raging, a bounty for the production of cotton wasgiven by the Queensland Government, and while cotton commanded famine prices, the industry nourished ; but long before the supply became normal again it practically came to a standstill. Various attempts have since been made to revive it, and I have been pleased to read that Dr. Thomatis has now succeeded in producing cotton which is admitted in Europe and even in America to be of first class quality. His plantation will thoroughly test the question whether cotton can be profitably produced in Australia, and the efforts he is making in this direction are very creditable to him. Some time ago an article appeared in one of the periodicals on the production of cotton in various parts of the world, and was copied in several of the newspapers. According to the writer, the great manufacturers of Manchester and other large manufacturing centres in England having been scared, first by threatened complications between the United States and England in connexion with the Canadian fisheries, and, later, by an attempt to increase prices by creating a corner, subscribed an enormous capital for the establishment of cotton plantations in Egypt, West Africa, and parts of India. Some of the cotton- grown in India is of excellent quality, while that grown in Egypt is said to be superfine. English manufacturers are now wisely endeavouring to protect their own interests by preventing a cotton famine arising should war break out with the United States, or a corner be made to unduly force up prices. In the countries I have mentioned, there is the verv. cheapest labour in1 the world; and we must agree that if the consumption of cotton were confined to the requirements of the Australian market, the quantity would be so small as to make it scarcely worth while our attempting to establish the industry. Even if in course of time large factories were established, and we were enabled to turn our own raw material into the finished article, and compete with the greatest factories in the world, the production here would still be limited. We must grow largely for the markets of the world, and, considering the labour conditions in Australia to-day, and the wages which we hope will be paid, and which must be paid under this Bill, it would be impossible to compete with the cheap labour of India, West Africa, Egypt, and that of the cottongrowing districts of the southern States of America. A fair effort is being made to start the industry without a bonus, and, believing, as I do, that no matter what bonus we give, the industry in Australia can never compete with the industry in the countries of cheap labour, I contend that, in voting this money, we shall only be throwing it away. To vote half a million of money for the purposes contemplated in the Bill may seem a trifle to some honorable members, but I am sure the taxpayers of the country will regard the matter in a very different light.
Mr. LONSDALE (New England) £11.15]. - Here is another proposal to grant a bonus .to an established industry. We know that” cotton can be grown successfully in Queensland, because Dr. Thomatis has informed us that he was offered isd. per lb. for his cotton, while prices for American cotton were 7d. and 8d.. In the face of this fact, it would be absurd to vote a bounty; we should hesitate to dispose of the people’s money in this unjustifiable way. To me it appears an absolute wrong to vote a bounty for industries which have already been established without assistance, and particularly for the cotton industry, when such a price as I have mentioned can be obtained for our product. I do not know why these proposals are being forced through at the present moment ; but the great bulk of the industries affected appear to be tropical industries. We know that the production of sugar by white labour has already cost the Commonwealth a large sum of money; and I do not see why we should endeavour to establish these tropical industries at such a cost to the community as a whole. I can understand Queensland representatives doing their best to promote these bounties ; but I do not think that the policy is right or fair. I have already expressed my opinion as to what is the real object of the Bill ; and I protest as strongly as I can against this expenditure. I am quite certain that honorable members would not devote their own money to such purposes; and, as- a matter of fact, they, ought to be more careful’ about public money. In this instance thev are deliberately doing a wrong. I shall take care that my electors, and the country generally, know that I have strongly protested against this deliberate waste of money; some of these bounties are really a pure gift to those engaged in industries already established. If I shall be i.ni order in proposing to add to the schedule, I shall endeavour to extend the benefits of the proposed bounties toas many as possible of our primary producers. If we are going to give away money in the manner proposed, I do not see any reason why every primary producer should not be permitted to plunge his hand into the pockets of the people.
Question - That the words “ Cotton . . . £4,500,” proposed to be left out, stand part of the schedule - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 25
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I should like to move -
That the item, “ Fibres . . . £6,000,” be left out.
It is proposed to grant a bounty at the rate of 10 per cent, on the market value of the commodities enumerated for a period of ten years, and, therefore, a total expenditure of £60,000 is contemplated. This is a matter which should receive the most serious consideration of the Commit- tee.
.- I should like to differentiate between flax and the other fibres mentioned. Flax has already been grown successfully in Gippsland and the Western District of Victoria, and therefore should not be made the sub ject of a bounty. The other fibres mentioned have not been grown within the Commonwealth except for experimental purposes, and therefore bounties may reasonably be offered to encourage their cultivation. I should like to know how the Minister intends to distribute the bounties. If, for instance, flax were largely cultivated, and none of the other fibres enumerated were grown, would the whole £6,000 be available for distribution among the producers of flax ?
– The honorable member will see that the bounty is to be granted in the proportion of 10 per cent, of the market value of the product.
– But the Minister will see that the whole of the amount provided for might be paid to those engaged in an industry that is already established. Flax is grown as an ordinary crop, although it has to be very carefully cultivated, weeded, and cut.
– Where did the honorable member see flax weeded?
– In the Victorian Western District. I know that the honorable member comes from a district where weeds will not grow; but still, it is weeded in the part from which I come. The point which I wish to urge is that flax-growing is already established. If some differentiation is not made, it is quite possible that the whole £6,000 will be spent in developing an established industry.
– It is quite impossible.
– At any rate, I move -
That the item “ Fibres- Flax . . £6,000,” be amended by leaving out the word “ Flax.”
– What is the difference between flax and New Zealand flax?
– Ordinary flax is the fibre from which linen is made, whilst New Zealand flax is the fibre from which cordage is made. The two products are quite different.
– I strongly support the amendment of the honorable member for Corangamite. What reason is there for voting a sum of money to encourage the growth of flax when the industry is already established? The honorable member, being a protectionist, deserves great credit for having directed attention, to the point.I understood that it was intended to include coir in the schedule, but it appears that the Minister has had a little bit of sense in that respect, and has dropped out the item. I understand that regulations have already been framed, and that the Minister, says that the money will be spent according to them. But it appears to me that if we depend upon departmental regulations, and not upon what we specifically put into the Bill, we shall find when the money is spent that we have “’ dropped in.”
.- -I wish to point out to the honorable member for Corangamite that, according to the statement of the Minister, whilst the imports of flax and hemp totalled £128,000 last year, the total imports of all other fibre did not amount to more than £11,000.
.- The Minister can hardly justify his silence in not making an explanation after the speech of the honorable member for Corangamite, who has shown that, at the Minister’s discretion, the £6,000 to be voted on account of this item may be paid to the growers of one particular article.
– Oh, no.
– How does the Minister propose to regulate these matters? Does he propose to frame regulations providing how the money shall be allocated amongst the various kinds of fibres mentioned ? The Minister appears to think that, simply because he is going to administer this Bill, we ought to be satisfied that it will be administered wisely. With the greatest admiration for the administrative capacity of my honorable friend, I think that it is altogether too much to expect us to do that. He will see himself that, although we could never for a moment doubt his wisdom in administering a measure of this kind, it is more than probable that he will not be here to administer it next session. I do not wish to touch upon a matter which must be painful’ to him, but will content myself with asking him whether, in view of the representations that have been made, he will assure the Committee that he will allocate the £6,000 amongst the various fibres in such! a way that the growers of no particular kind of fibre will obtain the benefit of the whole amount.
Question - That the word “flax” proposed to be left out stand part of the item Fibres” - put. The Committee divided
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
.- I rise to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs to explain how it is proposed to get the fish for the canning or tinning of which we are now asked to vote a total bounty of £55,000. This afternoon, he stated that the trawler for which a vote was taken on the Works Estimates would pave the way for the discovery of new fishing grounds.
– It will be used in that direction.
– This afternoon the honorable gentleman told us that while he wished an Australian trawler to explore Australian fishing grounds, he wanted to import it from New Zealand.
– No; the honorable member quite misunderstood me. What I said was that I wanted to charter one here, but that a fisherman in New Zealand who owns a fleet of trawlers had written a letter in which he offered to take charge of and carry out the whole of the work.
– And the Minister is considering the acceptance of that proposal?
– I have not seen it yet. I have only heard of it.
– If there is going to be any plunder in connexion with the establishment of .this industry, we ought to have a little .bit of it in Balmain. I take the view that if any industry is worth encouraging, the great ship-building industry, which is now in its infancy in New South Wales, is certainly one of them. I think that the Minister ought to give a satisfactory explanation of the statement he made here this afternoon in regard to the suggested impor ration of a trawler before we consent to the item of a fish bounty.
.- I am thankful to the honorable member for Wentworth for drawing the attention of the Committee to the fact that in an early part of this sitting the Minister of Trade and Customs said that a trawler would have to be imported. About ten days ago, we voted on the Works Estimates a sum of £8,000 for the purchase of a trawler,’ which the Minister said was required for carrying out a scheme in connexion with the deep-sea fishing industry of Australia. I, a free-trader, asked the Minister of Home Affairs, who was in charge of the Estimates at the time, whether it was intended to have the trawler built in Australia, and the Prime Minister interjected, “Oh, yes; this boat will be built in Australia.” I understand that it will be part of themachinery necessary to carry out the search for the fish in . respect of which we are asked to vote a bounty. Surely it will be built here?
– Certainly it will..
– I have a special justification for offering opposition to this item in a statement which the Minister of Trade and Customs made here this evening. He -said it was a very good thing for this country that a large number of what purported to be French tinned sardines, which were sold to the public, were young mullet or other fish obtained in Australian waters, thereby proving not only that the tinned fish industry was thoroughly established, but that it was really ousting imported sardines from the country. According to the Minister’s statement, a deliberate deception is being practised upon the public, and he applauds this trade deception. We are now asked to vote a. bounty for the purpose of enabling Australian pirates1 to foist Australian mullet upon the confiding public as French sardines. If there were any sardines in Australian waters, this proposal might be justifiable from the point of view of those who believe in taking public money for the purpose of encouraging private ventures. But in this case it is proposed to appropriate public money for the purpose of enabling a set of pirates to foist their wares upon an unsuspecting community as imported sardines. In view of all the talk in which the Minister of Trade and Customs and his colleagues have indulged regarding the necessity for protecting the public from imposition, it is astonishing that we should find him advocating a gross fraud of this character. I wish to move -
That the item “ Fish “ be left out.
– I cannot see how the tinned-fish industry is to be benefited by the payment of the proposed bountv. The annual production per head of those employed in some of these industries is very small. The product of the fishing industry in Italy is valued at £7,000,000, but 1,000,000 persons are engaged in it. It is, therefore, worth about £7 per head. Under the circumstances, I claim that the proposed’ bounty to such an industry will be of no assistance whatever, and, consequently, I shall vote against the item.
– I recognise that very great difficulty will be experienced in the allocation of these bounties. Therefore, I should like to know from the Minister whether the tinning industry is to get the whole of the bounty payable upon the production of tinned fish, or whether the fisherman is to participate in it. Personally I should like to see the latter obtain the lion’s share. There is no other industry in which the individual who is called upon to perform all the hard work receives such a poor reward as does the fisherman. Therefore, I should like the Minister to explain whether he is to obtain a share of this bounty ?
– If a fisherman caught onlv one fish, how could he share in the bounty?
– Then, is the tinning industry to absorb the whole of it?
– No. The fisherman will receive a reasonable share of the bountv, but not in the stupid way in which, the honorable member has endeavoured io put the position.
– Everv word that the Minister has uttered is stupid. He has not offered one intelligent explanation of anv item in the schedule. .
I notice that the sum of £11,000 is provided for the payment of a bountv upon fish. I wish to know why the Minister is plunging upon this item?
– Look at the importations, and see the lee-way that we have to make up.
– The Minister must know that most of the fish imported are of a class which cannot be obtained in Australia. Take salmon as an illustration.
– I would rather have a trumpeter any day.
– But people of refined taste prefer salmon to trumpeter.
– They do not.
– The other fish which are imported include the true sardine, herrings, cod, and salt fish, such as ling, which come from China. The Minister has told us that there is already in existence in Australia a bogus sardine industry, and that he intends to bolster up that industry.
– To a very large extent our fish will take the place of those mentioned by the honorable member.
– They will not. The bulk of the fish obtained in Australia are of a coarse kind, and are not suitable for tinning. In the southern parts of the Commonwealth the chief fish caught are barracouta, trumpeter, and jew fish. We have not a class of fish which is . suitable for canning for export. At the present time there is a duty of a1d. per lb. upon canned fish. Under the operation of that duty canned-fish industries were established at Port Fairy and Warrnambool, but owing to the fact that the fish procurable were not of a suitable character, and because the demand for them was insufficient, those industries have perished. The same thing occurred in Tasmania. At½d. per lb. the bounty proposed would cover an annual production of 5,280,000 lbs. of fish. I think that is too much. If a bounty is to be paid, the amount should be reduced, and, if necessary, an increase may be made later on. I think that the item should be. reduced by £6,000.
– I am prepared to reduce it by , £2,000.
– That is not sufficient. We should have a reduction of at least £4,000.
– I propose to reduce the item by £2,000, and to apply that amount to another item in the schedule.
– If the total amount were reduced to £7,000 it would provide a bounty of½d. per lb. on a production of 3,000,000 lbs. of fish, and would sogive the industry a very fair start. I feel that it is my duty to urge that the strictest economy should be exercised. We ought not to vote money as readily as some honorable members seem prepared to do.
– Let us push on with business before it becomes so late that I may not be able to carry out my promise.
– The honorable gentleman should not threaten the Committee in that way. If at one moment it is right to reduce this item to the extent mentioned by him, it is right to do so at any time. I should like to ask the Treasurer, who knows that the Commonwealth purse is not as full as it ought to be, ‘whether he thinks that this item should not be reduced by £4,000. If, in addition to the duty of id. per lb. on canned fish, we grant the industry bounties amounting to £8,000, we shall give it a chance of success that it has never previously enjoyed. I move -
That the item “Fish. . . £11,000,” be reduced by £3,000.
– I cannot accept that amendment.
Question- That the item “ Fish. . . . . £11,000,” be reduced by £3,000 - put. The Committe divided.
Ayes … … … 6
Noes … … … 27
Majority … … 21
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the item “Fish . . £11,000” be reduced to £9,000.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the item “Milk - Sweetened, condensed, rate id. per lb., £5,000,” be amended by increasing the rate to £d.
.- Sweetened condensed milk has been manufactured in the Commonwealth during many years.
– To a very small extent.
– The industry has not been a success.
– It has been entered upon in the Western District of Victoria by private companies, and has been carried on in Gippsland and in New South Wales. I saw condensed milk being made in Dr. Hay’s factory some years ago.
– It is not being made there now.
– There is already a duty of id. per lb. on sweetened condensed milk, and I fail to see why those engaged in the industry should, in addition, receive a bounty of id. per lb.
– The importation last year was valued at nearly £200,000.
– We have the best milk in the world, producing it as economically as milk can be produced anywhere. Private companies are making a success of the condensed milk industry in New Zealand, and it should be possible to carry on the industry here without assistance. As a matter of fact, it is already being carried on by private companies who are satisfied with their prospects apart from the proposed bounty. That is shown by the action of a private company in buying out a co-operative factory in the Western District. It is a public scandal that we should be asked to take action which will bring into existence iniquities similar to triose perpetrated some years ago when the Victorian Parliament voted bounties to encourage the dairying industry, and the money which was intended to aid the farmers and primary producers went into the hands of the export agents. This scandal was exposed, and honorable members must be familiar with the facts. But similar evils will arise if we give a bounty for the production of sweetened condensed and powdered milk. The money will go, not to the farmers, but to the manufacturers and the agents.
– Does the honorable member know what the machinery for making powdered milk costs?
– I believe that the cost is not very much ; but no farmer in the honorable member’s district, or in any other district, is likely to manufacture powdered milk. This- is a commodity which will not be made even by co-operative companies.
– There are co-operative factories in my district which could make sweetened condensed and powdered milk without any trouble.
– But they will not do so while they have such a good thing in the making of butter and cheese.
– That is another story
– It will not allow of argument. The making of butter pays better than anything else. Some years ago the Rosebrook factory commenced to make concentrated milk, and has since been bought out by a private company, which is quite satisfied with its prospects. I strongly urge honorable members not to accept the amendment. They have from time to time spoken against the scandals to which I have referred ; but if the proposals of the Ministry are agreed to; similar scandals will arise in the future.
– I desire to point out that this is no longer a question of fiscal principle. In this milk industry, a great factor is sugar, which is already heavily taxed, and therefore the industry is labouring under a very great hardship. The question thus becomes one of justice and equity, rather than of fiscal principle. If we tax the’ raw material, we must have a countervailing duty to be just, and for that reason alone I feel disposed to vote for this item. I know that already some of these factories are in existence, but I believe most of them are struggling to obtain a footing in the face of the great handicap caused by the imposition on sugar.
– And there is a combine.
– The best way to meet the combine, so far as I know, is to provide the raw material at as cheap a rate as possible. Ip,,+ since the raw material of sugar is taxed so very heavily under the Tariff, it is a question whether there should not be some countervailing conditions. Under the circumstances, I feel disposed to vote for the item, if it be taken to a division.
– There is a good dead to be said for the argument advanced by the honorable member for Parramatta. Sugar is undoubtedly a large factor in the preservation of milk, particularly of sweetened condensed milk; and, by reason of the taxation already imposed, the industry is to some extent handicapped. But there are still stronger reasons to be advanced in favour of the bonus. In consequence of a visit to a large condensing factory some time ago, I was led to make some investigation, and I was informed by the late proprietor of that factory that he found great difficulty in suitably condensing the milk, and therefore he was not able to place the article arn the market in a condition similar to that of the Swiss production. After considerable experiment, he decided to make a visit to the old country, to ascertain wherein his process was lacking, and he went not only to England, but to Switzerland, at considerable cost. As a result, he came to the conclusion that there is what is known as a trade secret in connexion with the preparation of condensed milk on the Continent, and, though he made every endeavour, he found that that secret was not purchasable. He thereupon entered upon a very extensive system of chemical analysis and treatment, with a view to remedying the defects in his production. In this he has succeeded to some extent, and he is now placing a very usable commodity on the market, though he admits that he is still unable to produce a condensed milk in all respects equal to that imported from Switzerland. Some encouragement should, I think, be given to a man who is so public-spirited as to establish here an industry of this importance, so nearly related, as it is, to the large and important interest of dairying. According to the figures presented by the Minister for Trade and Customs, there has been imported to Australia during the last two years £391,000 worth of condensed milk, which, as honorable members know, is the only milk available in the mining settlements and many farming centres in the hot country out back. If this condensed milk industry could ‘be made financially successful, it would prove a valuable addition to our already fairly extensive dairying industry. Only recently a large consignment of sweetened condensed milk, manufactured in Australia, was prepared for Queensland, and, although every precaution was taken to see that it was properly treated, it was found necessary, owing to some defect not determined, to withdraw the whole from the market, at a considerable loss to the manufacturer. If means of perfecting the manufacture could be found, it would be worth something to us to have the industry established within our borders ; .and I am glad to see that the Minister is prepared to increase the amount of the bonus. I cannot understand, however, why the Minister seeks to make a difference between the bonus for the production of condensed sweetened milk and the bonus for powdered milk.
– That is based on the milk contents.
– I have heard it s.aid that there is a large difference in the milk contents. I am not familiar with the treatment of powdered milk ; but, as the honorable member for Parramatta pointed out, sugar is a very important factor in the treatment of the sweetened variety. I am assured now by another honorable member that sugar does not enter to the same extent into the preparation of powdered milk. According to the information supplied by the Minister, from £1,000 to £5,000 is required to equip a factory for the production of sweetened condensed milk. The machinery necessary for the production of powdered milk can be provided for about £200. Therefore, there is a very wide difference between the capital outlay involved in one case as compared with the other, and I do not see that there is any warrant for the proposed increase in the bonus to be offered for powdered milk. Any differentiation between the two commodities should be in favour of thi? sweetened condensed milk.
– The Minister Has had the advantage of the best expert advice in the matter.
– I am glad that the Government desire to encourage the production of sweetened condensed milk, but I should like to obtain more definite information with regard to the production of powdered milk before the extra bounty proposed is approved of.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the item “ Milk, Sweetened, condensed * £s>°oo”* be increased to ^6,000.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the item “ Milk, Powdered, …. rate fd. per lb. . ,” be amended by increasing the rate to id.
– Why is this increase proposed ?
– Because the rate originally proposed is too low in proportion to that now provided for in the case of condensed milk.
– How does the increase in the rate affect the total amount of the bounty ?
– There will be no difference in the total amount involved.
Amendment agreed to.
– Olive growing is a fairly extensive industry in South Australia. So far as I can ascertain, an acre of olives will produce 64 gallons of oil, worth, according to the honorable member for Grey, about 8s. per gallon. That means that from an acre of olives the grower derives £25 12 s. I venture to say that there is no industry in the Commonwealth: that produces a better return. Let honorable members consider the primary industries, such as wheat-growing. Does the farmer derive any such return as is secured by the grower of olives?
– The olive-grower has to wait seven years before he gets anything.
– There are many primary industries in the Commonwealth that are better deserving of assistance from the Government. Then a bounty is to be given for the production of. China oil - -that is to say, peanut oil. It certainly does not take seven years to obtain a return from peanuts. The crop is not expensive to grow. I know something about this subject. Much of this scheme of the Government is ridiculous, but this is the most amusing proposal of all. We are told that the peanut makes excellent fodder for pigs and poultry. It is also very nutritive, and increases the milk of cows. It therefore appears that it is a magnificent crop to grow, and ought to be produced without any encouragement from the Commonwealth Government.. A crop will produce about 90 gallons of oil per acre, which), at 2s. 6d. per gallon, works out at a return of £11 5s. per acre. That is better than growing potatoes and wheat. Surely it would be better for the Government to propose a bounty of1d. per bushel for the growth of wheat. There would be some sense in that. I am satisfied that the peanut business can be successfully developed, if it is desirable, without any bounty.
– It may be expensive to grow.
– It is as easy as growing peas. I ask the Committee to rise to the occasion and vote against the proposal.
– The Committee will do nothing of the kind.
– No, because the elections axe coming on. In a new Parliament there might be an opportunity to knock out some of the items in this schedule, but there is a very slight chance when we are so near to a general election. I, however, intend to have my protest put on record, and to use it throughout my electorate.
– The honorable member will be doing himself harm wherever he talks.
– I am prepared to take all the risks, and shall not be deterred from doing my duty from anything that the Minister says. I move -
That the item, “Oils, Olive …” be amended by leaving out the word “ Olive.”
Question. - that the word “ olive,’ proposed to be left out, stand part of the schedule - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 24.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
. -I move-
That the item “ Oils, Olive, China . . . , “ be amended by leaving out the word “ China.”
It would need very little expenditure to bring this industry into existence. According to the document which has been distributed, a sum of about £200 would be required to provide the machinery for making the oil. It would be possible for two or three small men to start the industry by joining their forces. Peanuts are grown very much like peas, the only difference being that the former are grown in the ground instead of in a pod above the ground. They grow just like ‘potatoes, and yield a crop worth about £9 to the acre. If that price will not encourage men to grow peanuts, I do not know what would. Here sis the Parliament of this great Commonwealth wrestling with a proposal to develop industries which are of such a character that they can be successfully carried on without any assistance from the Treasury. I can understand protectionists resorting to this system of taking money from the pocket of one person to put it into the pocket of another; but that will not enrich the country. The experience of Victoria in this regard ought to have satisfied every intelligent Victorian that the system has impoverished the State, and kept it back far more than anything else has done. The freer industries are the better for the country, and certainly the money of the taxpayers should not be used to encourage persons to grow peanuts.
Amendment (by Mr. Johnson) proposed -
That the item “Rice . . . £1,500,” be left out.
Question - That the item “ Rice . . £1.500 “ proposed to be left out stand part of the schedule - put. The Committee divided.
Aves … … … 28
Noes … … … 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move-
That the item “ Miscellaneous, Rubber . .” be amended by leaving out the word “Rubber” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ Ship-building.”
To-day we have been sanctioning the payment of bounties for the purpose of establishing new industries.
– Why did not the honorable member vote against the payment of a bounty for the production of condensed milk?
– I voted against every item contained in the schedule. If there was no division called for in the case of condensed milk the fault is not mine. In regard to rubber. I desire to read a few extracts from the report upon the Federated Malay States and Java which has been prepared by Senator Smith. In that document he states -
At the present phenomenal price of rubber, the returns from a first class plantation of well-grown Para trees are something like 300 per cent, per annum, and there is, therefore, little reason for surprise that many tropical countries are smitten with the rubber fever.
Seeing that the industry ‘returns the extraordinary profit of 300 per cent, upon the capital invested, I hold that it does not require any artificial aid in the shape of a bounty. Senator Smith, in speaking of Papua, says -
So far as our information goes there is no country better suited for rubber growing than Papua. It possesses an immense area of rich, well drained soil, rising from the sea level to an altitude of 800 feet, and the rainfall is heavy and evenly distributed. Another advantage of rubber cultivation is that it does not require skilled manual labour, and when once planted the maintenance expenses are small.
It cannot, therefore, be urged that this industry will afford any considerable employment to labour. Upon page 31 of the same report an estimate “is given of the cost of clearing and planting 250 acres with Para rubber trees in Papua. It is from the Para tree, I may explain, that the best class of rubber is obtained. Senator Smith’s estimate for the clearing and planting of 250 acres with Para rubber trees, including the expenses of upkeep for five years, is £5.666. He then states -
At the end of six years, assuming that the trees each yielded 2 lbs. of rubber, at the pre- sent price the gross income would be £12,900, or over 220 per cent, on the outlay.
That is conclusive proof that this industry does not require the aid of a bounty. The countries with which we should have to compete if the industry were established in Australia are - Brazil, West Africa, Central America, Mexico, East Africa, Ceylon, and the Malay States. The world’s output of rubber for 1905 was, approximately, 61,000 tons, and Senator Smith states that this yield was apportioned as follows : - From Brazil (including Peru and Caucho), 34,420 tons; from West Africa (including the Congo), 17,500 tons; from Central America and Mexico, 3,200 tons; and from East Africa, Ceylon, Malaya, and all other sources, 6,000 tons. That output, it will be noted, was obtained from countries in which the trees are tapped by black labour. In other words, it is a blacklabour industry. Earlier in the debate the Minister of Trade and Customs stated that he had seen forests of native rubber trees in Northern Queensland. The point naturally arises as to whether the rubber which is obtained from the native trees is better than that which is produced by trees which have been cultivated. Upon that aspect of the subject, the honorable member for Corangamite delivered a very able address. He stated that the best rubber was obtained from trees which had been cultivated, but I find that Senator Smith entertains the contrary opinion. According to the Minister’s own statement, there is no necessity for experiments to be conducted in connexion with the rubber industry. I do not know, therefore, why he should not agree to the omission of the word “rubber” from this item, with a view to insert in lieu (thereof , the word “ shipbuilding.” The Minister has undertaken that the annual expenditure shall not exceed £75.000, and if the allocation of these moneys be made on a fro rata basis, we shall probably have a sum of £10,500 to devote to this item. I ask that that sum shall be given by way of bounty to an industry that has not yet been established in Australia, and which receives no protection in the shape of Customs duties. All the other items in this schedule are dealt with in the Tariff. Ship-building is practically a new industry in Australia.
– Are not ships built in Balmain?
– Wooden vessels are built there.
– Some of the Manly ferry steamers - which are iron vessels - were built there.
– But the industry is not firmly established. When the Tariff was under consideration, I and the honorable member for Parramatta voted for absolute free-trade. I now openly say that I fail to understand why honorable members should be prepared to grant bounties for the encouragement of small industries, having regard to the fact that they refused to grant a bounty for the encouragement of the iron industry. I do not believe in the bounty system, but if there are national industries which we need to assist, they are the iron industry, the ship-building industry, and deep sea fisheries. Ship-building is not governed by climatic conditions. It may be carried on in any port of Australia, and if I succeed in inducing the Committee to decide that the sum ofl £10,500 shall be devoted to its encouragement, instead of to the encouragement of the rubber industry. I shall certainly have done good work for the Commonwealth.
– I do not think that the amendment is within the scope of the Bill.
– I am prepared to argue that point. If honorable members wish to assist the artisans of Australia bv granting bounties for the encouragement of industries, they ought certainly to support mv proposal. I do not ask that the industry shall be assisted through the medium of the Tariff. When I find a free-trade member of the Labour Party slipping away from his principles, in order to vote for a bounty on the production of condensed milk, I think that I should be prepared to make a slip for the sake of the substantial industry of ship-building-
– Which is carried on in the honorable member’s electorate.
– It is not confined to my electorate ; but I would remind the Minister that he has been fighting for bounties to encourage industries which, for the most part, must necessarily be confined to one part of Australia.
.- Most honorable members will sympathize with the view o’f the honorable member that ship-building should be a most important Australian industry. It seems to me, however, that a primary consideration is the establishment of the iron industry.
– We can build wooden vessels.
– Many fine wooden ships have been built in Australia. A number of the smaller-sized iron vessels have also been built in New South Wales with excellent results so far as workmanship is concerned, although the cost of construction was greater than it would have been had they been constructed in the old country. I do not think, however, that the ship-builders of Balmain are likely to enthuse over a proposal that £7,000 or even £10,500 shall be distributed by way of bounty” amongst them. The principal ship-b’uilding company in that suburb of Sydney has a capital of several hundred thousands of pounds, and lately built a steamer for the Manly Ferry Company at a cost of about £25,000. In these circumstances, the suggestion that they shall participate in this bounty - not that they shall procure the whole amount - seems to be so supremely ridiculous that it is not likely to be seriously considered. The best way to encourage shipbuilding would be to .adopt after the elections such a Tariff as would insure to our shipwrights a fair chance of success. But I hope that the sympathies of honorable members with shipbuilders will not cause them to oppose the granting of a bounty for the production of rubber. During the trip which a number of honorable members made to Northern Queensland, we had an opportunity, particularly in the Cairns district, to learn something about the possibilities of the rubber industry, and I came away convinced that, if that industry were once established, great results would follow. It is all very- well to speak of the enormous profits obtained from rubber trees; but it must be remembered _that ten years must elapse before any return can be looked for.
– Not so much.
– It depends upon the kind of tree planted. The Para rubber tree takes from ten to twelve years to mature, while the Ficus elastica takes about ten years.
– By that time the bounty period will have come to an end.
– I am inclined to think that the period should be extended.
– A good many people would go in for mining if they could be certain of a profit of 300 per cent, at die end of ten years.
– Those who go in for gold-mining know that, at the end of tenyears, the price of gold will be as high as it is to-day ; but those who spend their capital in planting rubber trees have no guarantee that at the end of ten years there will not be a slump in the price of rubber which will render their enterprise profitless. I heard it said the other day bv a gentleman who has been connected with mining all his life, that the comparison of the word “ mine “ should be mine, miner, minus.
– Then a bounty should be given to encourage the mining industry.
– Fortunately the industry is already established, and people are willing to take risks in connexion with it. There are immense possibilities in the rubber. industry, and it would be wise for the Commonwealth and the Governments of the States to do all they can to encourage it. The statement that black labour is necessary is supremely ridiculous. I had a conversation with the expert in charge of the Kamerunga farm, near Cairns, whom the Queensland Government brought from India, and he told me that the rubber could be gathered from the Ficus elastica by the growers of the trees without any trouble.
– Would the operation be a commercial success ?
– Yes. Speaking from memory, he told me that the cost of planting the Banyan fig is not very great. Its rubber is not quite so good as the Para rubber; but after ten years a return of 12s. 6d. per tree could be looked for. and at the end of five years more a return of £1, while forty trees could be planted to the acre.
– Then the return per acre would be £40.
– It should not be forgotten that those who enter upon this industry must wait for ten years before they get any return.
– Orchardists have to wait seven years before they get a return ; but it is not proposed to give the fruitgrowing industry a bounty.
– The object of the measure is to promote the establishment of new industries, and to encourage industries which so far have made but little progress. I believe that if the rubber industry is established it will in a few years be of such importance as to justify a fair expenditure upon its encouragement. I am sorry that the Minister has not allowed a longer period for the operation of the proposed bounty on rubber.
– The honorable member has made out a good case for the extension of the period ; but I find that the average time in which a tree matures is eight years.
– I took a great deal of interest in this subject when in Queensland, and had several interviews with, one of the Ministers of that State in regard to it. I learned from those best’ able to express an opinion that the reallv good commercial rubbers were produced bv trees which did not bear until they had been planted for ten years.
– Is any money to be paid to the growers of rubber trees during the ten years in which they are getting no return ?
– That seems to me the period when they would be- most -in need of assistance.
– So far as I can ascertain, the only trees which are really of value commercially require at least ten years before they produce rubber in sufficient quantities to justify their being tapped. That being so, I think the period ought to be extended, because, if it be limited to ten years, it means that just as the trees become of value the owners will find that the opportunity to collect the bounty will have disappeared. I do not think that many are likely to be encouraged under this proposal to take up the planting of rubber ; and I urge the Minister to consider the question of extending the time.
– The only trouble is that I should have to amend clause 2, which lays down the period of ten years all through.
– I do not think it at all likely that any one would take up rubber planting under a bounty system limited to ten years.
– I am afraid not, but an endeavour might be made to make use of the existing trees.
– There are no rubber trees in Australia but indigenous trees, which are so scattered as to be hardly worth attention from a commercial point of view. If planting on a systematic scale were encouraged, people would start collecting, and the labour cost is very small.
– How many would get the bounty?
– I do not know.
– The honorable member knows how: much there is to divide.
– It would depend on circumstances. Personally, I do not see any reason why a considerable number of people should not undertake the cultivation of rubber, for which there is an immense demand. As to the suggestion to give some encouragement before the trees bear, I do not see how that could be done,
– That is the only way to give help.
– While in Queensland I suggested that the Government might undertake the planting of trees, and, after ten years, arrange, either directly, or as in India, by farming out, for the collection of the rubber. Apart from that, however, I think a great number of people would with proper encouragement undertake this industry.
– Why do they not undertake it now?
– They have to wait so long for a return.
– They have to wait nearly as long for a return from orchards - eight years for pears.
– In the case of rubber there is a wait of ten or twelve years, and, in such a period, the bottom may have fallen out of the market, and I suppose that is one reason why this industry has not been established. I was told only yesterday that about twenty years ago a person sold out a part interest in a rubber plantation in Central America, and that the man to whom he sold had last year made a profit of several thousands of pounds. It will be seen that there is money in the industry at the present time, and there is reasonable ground for supposing that there will be money in it some years hence, so that it is worth while to attempt to establish it.
– If rubber, oil, rice, and many other articles are to have the advantage of a bonus, why not fruit? In our fruit districts, particularly those devoted to the cultivation of the orange, there is at present a tremendous glut, much more being produced than the local markets can absorb. This has been the case for some years past, and something will have to be done to facilitate an export trade. Tons of fruit are rotting under the trees every year, simply because it does not pay to send it to market. At various times efforts have been made to send shipments of oranges to Eng,land, but the last shipment from New South Wales, in which the Government of the State took a prominent hand. was a total failure. It occurs to me that if we are going to provide bounties for all the industries contemplated by the Bill, we have in the fruit industry a sphere of action, into which we might very well enter - that is to say, export development might very well be made the subject of a bounty.
– An Adelaide exporter finds that his fruit arrives at Home in very good condition.
– I venture to say that the losses in this connexion have been very heavy on exports from Adelaide.
– There is no complaint on that score.
– It is of no use complaining. All I can say is that the best fruit is not exported as ordinary cargo, because it does not carry as cargo.
– The Adelaide exporter sends the best fruit Home because it is of no use to send any other.
– I rise to a point of order. On the amendment before the Chair, is it competent for the Committee to discuss the addition of fruit and other products?
– The amendment before the Chair is to strike out the word “ rubber,” with a view to inserting “ shipbuilding, “ ; but the honorable member for Parramatta may proceed with his argument.
– The superior fruit of the more delicate varieties is the most difficult to carry. Inferior oranges may be sent to London as ordinary cargo, but the difficulty is to get the better qualities carried. At the present time fruit is arriving from America packed in all sorts of fancy ways, and here, again, is a development which might be kept in view by the Minister in connexion with a proposal to grant bounties. The fruit industry in New South Wales is suffering severely owing to the lack of an outlet for the surplus product. If we are to provide bounties with the objects indicated in the Bill, there is no reason why a very old industry such as I have indicated should not receive assistance at the hands of the State.
– Why should the assistance te restricted to the fruit industry in New South Wales?
– I do not propose anything of the kind. I desire to encourage the exportation of fruit to markets outside of the Commonwealth - an object which I regard as more legitimate than many of those aimed at in the Bill.
– It is pleasing to notice the new-born zeal of the honorable member for Dalley for the encouragement of the ship-building industry. I do not know whether he has teen taken to task by his constituents, but he did not show any very special regard for the ship-building industry in New South’ Wales, and particularly for that branch of the work that is carried on at Mort’s Dock, when he recently travelled to Western Australia at the expense of the Commonwealth in a steamer manned by black labour, and owned bv a company which never spends one penny upon repairs in Sydney. I cordial lv welcome the honorable member as a convert to the faith of those who are anxious to establish and encourage native industry
– The honorable member should not rub it in in that way.
– I am rubbing it in because I. know why the honorable member ‘ for Dalley is moving his amendment. He has no special desire to encourage shipbuilding. I venture to say that if the proposal to grant bounties for the encourage ment of the iron industry were revived, the honorable member would vote against it. And yet it must be apparent to him, as was pointed out bv the honorable member for Bland, that it is ridiculous to talk about encouraging the ship-building trade unless we can produce iron in Australia. With regard to the proposal to grant a bounty for the production of rubber, I wish to point oi’* that the Northern Territory, which! I trust will soon be brought under the control1 of the Commonwealth Government, is eminently adapted for the production of rubber. Only recently a Scottish company proposed to take up a large area, of the Northern Territory, and intended to devote a large portion of it to the cultivation of rubber trees. I am sure that a bounty such as that-now proposed would afford them considerable encouragement, particularly if the period for the payment of the bounty were extended. We have often been told that we should do every- thing in our power to promote the settlement of the Northern Territory, and I think that we should go a very long way in that direction by offering bounties for the cultivation of tropical products such as rubber. The honorable member for Parramatta suggests that we should do something to encourage the production of oranges. It seems to me that that industry offers a splendid field for private enterprise, apart from any encouragement that might be afforded bv the granting of bounties. Oranges can be grown in almost any part of the Commonwealth, and there is no difficulty in obtaining land suitable for that purpose ; but the facilities offered for the production of rubber are of a comparatively limited character. I quite agree with the honorable member for Parramatta that we should offer every facility for the exportation of our surplus produce, and I am very glad to notice that the South Australian Government propose to ship a large quantity of eggs, irc order to ascertain whether that class of produce can be successfully forwarded to the home market.
– That can be done without any trouble.
– No doubt eggs ca.n be successfully exported if a proper system of collecting is followed. In the same way, other industries, such as that of rubber-growing, can be successfully carried on after the initial organizing work has been performed. I trust that the Committee will insist upon retaining the word “rubber” in the schedule, and that’’ the Minister will consider the advisability of extending the bounty period, so that those who lay out plantations in the immediate future may have some opportunity of reaping the reward of their enterprise before the bounty period has expired.
.- I am glad that the honorble member for Dalley ‘ ha® raised the question of encouraging the ship-building industry. I do not think that it is right to impute motives to the honorable member, or to question his sincerity, and I shall be very glad to support his amendment if it can be shown that it is possible under this measure to encourage ship-building within the Commonwealth. After listening to the honorable member for Bland, it appears to me that this Bill will not .assist the rubber industry very much. It will take practically ten years for the trees to produce rubber. Verv few people can afford to go in for the industry if they have to wait so long before obtaining a return for their capital. Immediately after the trees begin to bear, the returns are likely to be rather handsome. It appears to me, therefore, that the growers ought to be helped during the ten’ years, afterwards they will want very little assistance. I do not wish any one to suppose that I do not desire to help the rubber industry; but I fear that the Bill, as it stands, will te of no use to it.
– I quite agree with what has been said, and will frame an amendment.
– Will the Minister frame an amendment to enable the growers to be assisted before their trees begin to bear ?
– Then the rubber industry owes something to the honorable member for Dalley, because, had he not initiated this discussion, the Minister would not have seen the necessity for an amendment. I shall support the bounty to the rubber industry, though at the same time I hope something will be done to develop ship-building. If we can commence the building of large steam-ships in Australia, the industry will be far more valuable than the growing of a little coffee or cocoa. I was very pleased to hear what the honorable member for Hindmarsh’ said in regard to poultry. I am satisfied that a .great Australian industry can be developed in the export of eggs. Honorable members mav be surprised to know that in America the production of eggs is worth more to the people than any other industry. It is more remunerative than the production of iron, cattle, or wheat. If we could open up .a profitable market in England and Europe for our eggs, we should do a great work in assisting the primary producer. Is the Minister prepared to do anything in that direction ? I really think that those people who have expended their money in buying good fowls ought to be encouraged.
– I should not have troubled the Committee again had it not been for the personal attack made upon me by the honorable member for Hindmarsh. He attempts to measure other people’s corn bv his own bushel, which is a contemptible, low, and mean one. He asked. “ How can the honorable member for Dalley advocate this proposal seriously when he travelled to Western Australia in a boat manned by black labour ? “ The honorable member for Dalley travelled to Western Australia in a boat of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, manned by black labour, and so did a number of the colleagues of the honorable member for Hindmarsh, who Blacklegged upon them for the purpose of securing a low advertisement, for he took good care to have inserted “in the newspapers of Adelaide and Western Australia the fact that he, the only true and loyal anti-black labour man in the Labour Party, refused to travel to Western Australia in a boat of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company. He black-legged at the expense of all the other labour members who travelled with me to Western Australia.
– That is not so, because I had a ticket for another boat.
– Let me remind the honorable member that the labour members for Western Australia do not travel in a boat of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, manned by black labour, but in German-owned boats. The honorable member, for the purpose of getting an advertisement, travelled in a vessel belonging to the Adelaide Steam-ship Company owned in Adelaide.
– Was that against my principles ?
– The honorable member simply says, “ That company’ is established in my electorate.” If he questions my sincerity, let me now ask him this question, “ Is he so afraid of the Adelaide Steamship Company that he has to travel in their’ boats and to advertise the fact throughout the Commonwealth?”
– I supported the survey of a line from. Port Augusta to Western Australia, but the Adelaide Steam-ship Company is not in favour of that proposal, so that the honorable member is wrong there.
– The honorable member is the Simon Pure, and everybody else is tainted with insincerity. Let me tell him that in the first Federal Parliament, when we had some struggles over the Tariff, the enormous engineering establishments in my electorate, not tin-pot ones like those in Adelaide, did not receive one vote from me. I fought right through for the principles of free-trade. The honorable member for Parramafta, although he had in his elec torate large iron works crying out for an iron bonus, refused as a free-trader to grant a bonus to them. Yet it remains for the honorable member for Hindmarsh to stand up here and question my sincerity. For years I have contested my electorate as a free-trader, and for years I -have obtained an enormous majority against the candidate of the party to which the honorable member belongs.
– Why does not the honorable member stick to his principles now ?
– I stand here simply because I have had the courage of my opinions. I hold the representation of a labour electorate which labour men cannot wrest from me.
– Why does not the honorable member stick to his principles now ?
– Let. me remind the honorable member, that I voted against every item in the schedule until this one was reached. What I say is that now that honorable members opposite are out for loot, I am out for loot too. Every industry for which they have voted a bonus is already established. I admit openly that I do not believe in the bounty system, but as it is pressed upon the House, I shall see whether the honorable member for Hindmarsh will encourage the shipbuilding industry in preference to the rubber industry, which employs black labour.
– Why does the honorable member support a proposal in which he does not believe?
– This honorable member, who is always posing as the apostle of sincerity, boasted on the back bench, when the Labour Party were in trouble, that he would not go back upon his opinions, but on the same evening we saw him whipped, and sitting behind the Labour Party. He had boasted that he would not go back upon his expressed opinion in regard to a certain matter.
– When did I go back ?
– The honorable member went back the very same night.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– I wish to tell the honorable member for Hindmarsh that the rubber industry, in which he is so greatly concerned, is particularly suited to Papua. According to the report from which I have quoted the Commonwealth Government have had 100,000 seeds sent to the Territory for the purpose of establishing the industry, and it is stated that it can be run without skilled labour, and by the natives. Am I to understand then that this honorable member, who is so sincere in his professions about employing white labour only, is, because the Commonwealth Government have gone to some expense in this direction in Papua, trying by means of a bounty to encourage the establishment of an industry in which very little white labour is required? I am about to make the honorable member a present, which he can use all over Australia if he likes. I am not moving this amendment in view of the coming election, but to expose the inconsistency of the protectionists in that they do not look after industries of this character.
– Where is the sincerity of the honorable member?
– I declare openly that I do not believe in the bounty system.
– Here is the honorable member for Barrier, who says he does not believe in- it either.
– The honorable member for Barrier, as a free-trader, does not believe in the system, but he takes the same view that I do, namely, that when there is a bit of boodle going about he ought to get some of it. He is a free-trader, who represents a constituency with which he can take many liberties. We all know that his recent demonstration was merely mock heroics. When he pleaded for the encouragement of the egg industry, we could all see what a sad humorist he was, as he always is in regard to these matters. If I can get some loot, and the Committee is fool enough” to give it, I shall certainly take it for an industry which would yield some return.
– The honorable member is going to help a system in which hp does not believe.
– I tell the honorable member frankly that I intend to take as much loot as I can for. my electorate, the only difference between us being that I openly declare my intention. The honorable member says that he is acting in the interests of national industries, but the national industry which! he prefers to shipbuilding is the rubber industry. If there is to be robbery I prefer to assist the shipbuilding industry.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh is very good at mock heroics. He made an attack upon the honorable member for Parramatta in regard to the orange industry. He said that it was a splendid field for private enterprise, as it was already established. Yet to-night he voted for a bounty to the olive oil industry, it being already established in South Australia. He was against assisting the fruit industry because it was already established, but he was prepared to use the money of the taxpayers in assisting the olive oil industry, established in his own State. I should like to know where his consistency comes in.
– Why does not the honorable member state what I did say ?
– If the honorable member will say that he did not vote for a bounty to the olive oil industry, then I shall admit that I am wrong ; but he is not in a. position to make that statement.
– The honorable member implied that I was opposed to the orange industry.
– We have heard much argument about the rubber industry being in need of assistance. According to the honorable member for Bland, who seems to know a good deal about the industry, forty trees to the acre are planted, and each tree produces 12s. 6d. worth of rubber per annum in the first year of production, the value at the end of five years being £1 per tree.
– It costs a good deal to collect the rubber.
– That value is equivalent to a return of about £30 per acre for the whole period of five years, which is a splendid income.
– But that is the gross return.
– There are many primary industries from, which a similar gross return cannot be obtained.
– But the cost of their production is very much less.
– I say that the cost of collecting the rubber cannot involve as large an outlay as that which has to be incurred in the cultivation of wheat. But the unfortunate wheat farmer, who has to run the risk of the total failure of his crop, is to receive no bounty whatever. I say again that the rubber industry requires no assistance at the hands of the Commonwealth. For fifteen years, including the ten years when the trees are reaching maturity, the production from a rubber plantation would be worth £10 per acre. The proposals of the Government constitute an absolute wrong. We have no right,,to expend the public funds for the purpose of fostering tropical industries. Throughout the evening, the members of the Labour Party have been supporting the payment of bounties to industries which will employcheap labour. I shall support the amendment.
– The honorable member for Bland defended the proposal to pay a bounty upon the production of rubber upon the ground that those who engaged in the industry would be compelled to wait ten years before they obtained any return. He stated that the best rubber trees do not attain maturity until they have, been planted ten years.
– I said that the Para rubber tree, which is the best, takes twelve years to mature.
– The honorable member for Bland evidently forgets that those who ,a,re engaged in one of the most successful industries in Australia have to submit to the same disability.
– What industry is that?
– I refer to the cultivation of pears.
– The production of pearsis merely a side line.
– I can assure the honorable member that the production of pears is a very considerable industry. and that scores of acres are now being planted with a view to supplying the English market.
– Where is the man who attempts to make a livelihood out of the growing of pears?
– For every individual who will gain a livelihood from the rubber industry a good many will earn a living from the cultivation of pear trees. The honorable member addressed the Committee at considerable length in defence of an industry which is worked by black labour all the world over.
– It need not be so worked in Australia.
– The honorable member argued that because those who emhark upon the rubber industry will be obliged to wait a number of years before they can secure any return, this Parliament should authorize the payment of a bounty to them. . In other words, as soon as they begin to obtain a return upon the capital invested they should be granted State assistance.
– I wish that the honorable member would stop “ stonewalling.”
– The impertinent interjection of the Minister will not have the effect of curtailing my remarks. The argument advanced bv the honorable member for Bland applies with equal force to the fruit industry of Australia. There are men in the Bass electorate who are spending their money in laying out orchards.and who will not obtain any material return from their expenditure for seven or eight years. But because the industry in which they are engaged employs only white labour, thev are to receive no assistance from the State. Upon the contrary, they are to be taxed for the purpose of fostering tropical industries which can employ only black labour. Tasmania is about full up of being the milch cow to keep such industries going.
– We are getting full up of the honorable member.
– If the Minister of Trade and Customs were only as sure that he will be re-elected as I am, he would not need to neglect his duties so frequently as lie does, and he would not have been accorded the reception which he recently received at Wagga. He will find that he has quite enough to do to look after his own electorate.
– I intend to visit the honorable member’s constituency.
– if that be so,
I shall have no occasion to address meetings there. The Minister has only to visit a place to insure the condemnation of his own proposals. I am opposed to the bounty system, and if the question that a bounty be granted to ship-building were put I should vote against it. But if I have to choose between granting a bounty to the rubber industry, which is a black man’s calling, and granting one to encourage ship-building - a. white man’s industry which would give employment to men of our own race, and be beneficial to Australia - I shall certainly vote for the latter proposal.
Question - That the word “ Rubber “ proposed to be left out stand part of the schedule - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 19
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the item “Miscellaneous” be amended by the addition of the words “ cereals, sorghums, grasses, and other fodder plants, grown in a locality where the average annual rainfall for the five years preceding 1906 shall have been under 14 inches.”
I do not think that any item in this schedule is of greater importance than is my proposal. Possibly it may prove more important than a combination of all the others. Provision has been made for the payment of bounties to encourage a large number of industries, which will give employment to a great many people ; but if we can teach our farmers to grow cereals and other crops in districts possessing a very small rainfall, we shall bring about an industrial revolution.
– Wheat is now being grown in districts where the rainfall is less than 14 inches.
– About 85 per cent, of our population lives within 100 miles of the coast, the interior of the country being practically uninhabited, because of its aridity. If we can conquer this drawback, we shall bring about a state of affairs hitherto undreamt of. Immigrants are de terred from coming here by what they hear of the arid nature of our lands ; but if it can be shown that profitable crops can be produced under a rainfall of from11 to 12 or 14 inches - and this has been done in other places - thousands of square miles which are now practically deserted and unused will be peopled, and the country will be able to support millions more than it is now supporting. Is it the intention of the Minister to accept the amendment?
– I extremely regret that the honorable gentleman,’ who represents a dry district-
– I do not.
– I have had several letters from the honorable gentleman’s district, and I am very sorry that he will not accept the amendment. To show how dry the northern districts of Victoria are, I may mention that for eighteen out of twenty-six years the average rainfall in the Kerang district was less than 14 inches, and during those eighteen years the crops were almost a failure, and the farmers and the State suffered enormous losses.
– Irrigation is required there.
– The most important problem to be solved in Australia is how to use our arid areas. Our population clusters round the coast and we do not know the possibilities of our inland country. The outcry made against the proposed construction of the Western Australian railway was due to the belief that it would traverse arid country; but as that country supports a growth of mallee, blue bush, and numberless trees and shrubs of various kinds, it must possess a certain amount of moisture, and if properly cultivated might be made to produce commodities of great commercial value. In America they have faced this problem with great success. The American Continent is something like our own. It has an area of 3,000,000 square miles, of which a great portion is arid country, extending from, the 97th meridian of west longitude westwards for a distance of 500 miles, and from Canada to Mexico, a distance of about 1,100 miles. The demand for land in the United States is as keen as it is in Victoria, the population of. the country increasing at the rate of over 1,000,000 a year. The Governmenthas, therefore, made every effort to utilize this enormous arid area. Towards the end of last century they sent experts to the arid districts in other parts of the world to search for cereals, grasses, sorghums, and other fodder plants, growing under conditions similar as regards temperature and soil to those of the district of which I speak. Men were sent out to the plains of the Volga, to Siberia, to Algiers, and to other countries, and brought back with them wheat, maize, oats, grasses, and sorghums, which were experimented on with results so promising that the experiments have been persevered in. In this way they obtained the Durum wheat, which is .so called because of its hardness, and oats from Algiers, which will also do well in dry country. As the result wheat-growing has been successful under ordinary farming methods at a distance 200 miles further west than the districts in which it has hitherto been attempted. Experts have also searched the world for drought-resisting seeds, and only lately Secretary Wilson, the very able chief of the Agricultural Bureau, is reported in a United States newspaper to have said -
We will not admit we have a bad acre of land in the United States, because for every acre we have got there must be some useful product in some part of the world which will grow there, and we mean to search and search until we find that product, and have the whole of that country under cultivation.
That is the spirit which should actuate us.; but the Minister is not manifesting it tonight.
– Why not let us go home now, and discuss the matter reasonably this afternoon?
– I came prepared to discuss it, and shall do so at some length. My object is not to waste time, but to deal with’ one of the biggest problems which face Australia. I am sorry that I have to speak at such an untimely hour, but I shall not lose the opportunity which has come to me.
– The honorable member is thinking of himself, and of no one else.
– I do not think that that is a proper remark for the Minister to make. I have stayed all night to help the Government to pass the Bill, and have not hitherto had an opportunity to deal with this matter. The Treasurer has made an unworthy reflection upon one who is actuated only by patriotic motives in his present action.
– Is this not an electioneering speech?
– The whole Bill is nothing but an electioneering appeal.
– My speech has nothing to do with electioneering. Not only have there been experiments with these new varieties of seeds, but experts have been employed to test the quality of the soils and the amount of moisture they contain, to ascertain the rainfall and how far a scant fall is capable of producing a crop. The result is that, by an improved system of cultivation, the invention and the introduction of new implements and methods, and the conservation of the moisture, good crops have been produced with a rainfall of 11 and 12 inches. That is a wonderful achievement, and an object lesson from which Australia, more than any other country, may benefit. Professor Campbell has - devoted his whole time to this work for the last fourteen years, and the results of his experiments, which I propose to lay before honorable members, are most extraordinary. When I was in Denver I heard a great deal about this dry farming, and for the first time, because in the eastern! portions of America:, where there is a rainfall of 30 or 40 inches, that method is not necessary. I ascertained that the nearest experimental farm was at Cheyenne, in Wyoming. I took the opportunity to visit the farm, and found that it was just ready for seeding, under the charge of Mr. J. H. Gordon, a very experienced farmer, who had done well himself under irrigation. Mr. Gordon is cousin to the late Rev. Mr. Gordon, of Brighton, and he took a great deal of trouble to show me the method of operation. , The ground was. being -got ready with good tilth, and was being seeded with all varieties of crops; and by the last American mail, I received a letter from Mr. Gordon informing me that, although he had been growing cereals under irrigation for thirty years, and had taken, a gold medal for wheat at the St. Louis Exhibition, he had never seen a finer crop than that produced under a normal rainfall of 13 inches. The Cheyenne newspaper of 26th July contains a leading article setting forth what has been done, and advising every one interested in the welfare of the district to visit the farm. I may add that Dr. Cooke, of Portland, in Oregon, who’ has had charge of the Agricultural Department for fifteen or sixteen years, was then going through the country, under the supervision of a committee, instructing the people in the problem of dry farming. The result of the experiments at Cheyenne, together with Dr. Cooke’s teaching, is that nearly the whole of the people in that part of the country are entering upon a distinct system of cultivation, and looking forward to an entirely new state of affairs in the State of Wyoming.
– In my day, that country was looked upon as a desert.
– The same sort of thing is going on in Nebraska, where Professor Campbell has been working, and also in the State of Utah, which is one of the dry States of the Union, where, when the whole of the rainfall has been conserved, only about one-tenth of the territory can be irrigated. In 1903, those in charge of the experimental farm in Utah sent a letter to Governor Heber, suggesting that five experimental dry farms should be formed in that State. The Governor sent the letter on to the Legislature, which received the suggestion in favour. A Bill was introduced and passed in a very few days!, and the committee, consisting of’ Dr. Widstoe, Chief of (Logan Experimental Farm, Professor Merrill, Agronomist, and Senator Whitmore, were appointed to select the sites. These gentlemen acted with expedition, and in less than two months had selected not five, but six sites, which, according to agreement, were fenced by the countyauthorities. The sites were selected in, the driest parts, and embraced every variety of soil, from gravel and sandy dry to fair loam. The soil had had no previous fallowing, but it was placed under a certain system of cultivation, with the result that it produced from twenty down to five bushels of wheat per acre. The report of the experimental station of the Utah Agricultural College states: -
Soon after the farms had been secured a most elaborate soil survey of each farm was made. This was thought “advisable in view of the important relations which soils sustained to plants, both as regards plant food and capacity for water storage. The detailed report of the soil surveys, which will emphasize many important arid farm principles, will appear in a later bulletin. The following table shows the amounts of gravel, sand, silt, and clay found in the most characteristic soil variety occuring in each farm.
Then the percentages of sand, silt, gravel, and clay in the soil of each farm are given. The report goes on to say -
This wide range in the composition of the soils of the farms is very desirable, for it admits of a comparative study of different soils for the purposes of arid farming. It was ex plained in bulletin No. 75, that as far as could be learned from a study of arid farming in Cache and Boxelder counties, the physical composition of the soil made little or no difference in its power to yield crops without irrigation. Undoubtedly, however, the plant foods found in a soil, determine, in a measure, the ease with which plants having at ‘their disposal a limited amount of water, can accomplish their life cycles.
The report also deals with the soil treatment. It is stated -
In each instance the county fenced the forty acres selected by the Committee and cleared the ground from sage brush. As soon as the sage brush was removed the ground was ploughed, the instructions being - to plough to a depth of ten inches. Some difficulty was experienced in ploughing the ground to the required depth, and on one farm (Washington County) the ploughing was not over five or six inches, but on the remaining farms the ploughing was done quite uniformly to the depth of eight inches. The harrow followed the plough, the ground being harrowed over until the surface soil was loose and fine. In some instances it was found necessary to disk the ground before it could be brought into, the proper state of tilth, but the smoothing harrow always followed the disk.
About one half of the plats were summer fallowed during the season of 1904, these plats being kept free of weeds and under constant cultivation, in order to conserve the moisture for use during the season of 1905. Most of these plats were seeded during this fall (1904), and the remainder will be seeded early next spring. The results already secured are the products of but one year’s precipitation, and the station workers have never maintained that, with present culture methods, large yields could be secured with but one year’s precipitation, but that the rainfall of two or even three years may be necessary for the production of profitable crops. Wilh this condition in mind, it is not surprising that better yields were not secured on the less successful farms, and the marvel is that such satisfactory yields were secured under the existing conditions, even with the best farms.
Some of the results obtained with regard to wheat are given as follows : -
Variety test of fall wheat, Juab and Tooele counties.
All these results were obtained in country having a very limited rainfall, and the yields of wheat were estimated upon the basis of 60 lbs. per bushel.
– Can the honorable member state the rainfalls for the different localities ?
– I have the particulars here, but I cannot place my finger upon them just at the moment. Tests were also conducted with Spring wheats, which yielded 19, 11, 21, and 20 bushels per acre respectively. With regard to oats, the report states -
We have not considered oats as among the possibilities for arid farming until very recently. Numerous inquiries have reached us concerning a fall variety of oats, but we have been unable to secure such a variety. The “ sixty day “ oats is a Russian variety imported by the United States Department of Agriculture several years ago, especially for the arid region. It is a vigorous but not a rank grower. The straw is very short, but in our variety test at the home station this variety has proved to be an exceptionally good yielder. This variety gave best results, taken as a whole, on the arid farms.
Seeing that the morning is so far advanced, I move -
That progress be reported.
– I should not have raised any difficulty about proceeding with my speech at this stage, but for the fact that on last Friday I was informed that the Government would accept the amendment.
– The honorable member never heard me say so.
– The Minister was not then in charge of the Bill. With regard to barley the report states -
Yields of barley were quite satisfactory for the first year, especially when we take into consideration the fact that we were compelled to use seed from irrigated farms, as we found it impossible to secure varieties from the “dry” farms. The yields given then, represent the first year removed from irrigation, and on land recently ploughed, and in which there had- been no opportunity to conserve moisture to an-‘ appreciable extent.
Yield of barley on arid farms : -
Juab County - California, 34.9 bushels; California prolific, 32.3 bushels; Success, 26.8 bushels. Iron County - California, 10.00 bushels; Manshury, 6.15 bushels. Washington County - California, 5.13 bushels. No attempt was made to grow barley on the other three farms this year, but the success of this crop on these farms will warrant us in encouraging its growth on arid lands.
The results obtained from drought-resisting rye are given .as follows : -
Yield of rye on arid farms : - Juab County - 14.04 bushels per acre. Iron County - 11.55 bushels per acre. At Washington
County the rye yielded probably at the rate of 12 bushels per acre, but as the birds destroyed the yields on the plats, no absolute results can be given. Rye was not sown on the other three farms, but there is no doubt but that rye is one of the best drought resisting cereals, and in localities of limited rainfall one of the crops most likely to succeed.
Experiments were also conducted with “ Emmer “ wheat, regarding which the report states -
Emmer, sometimes known as “ Spelz,” “ Speltz,” or “ Spiltz,” is a species of wheat, and has special drought resisting qualities. There is both a fall and Spring variety, but the variety grown on these farms was the Spring variety. It is said of Emmer that “ It will produce a fair crop under almost any conditions of soil and climate, but thrives best in a dry prairie region, .with hot summers, where it gives excellent yields.” Emmer is used as a stock feed, and compares well with oats and barley for this purpose. It is eaten readily by all- kinds of stock, but it has shown ‘itself to be especially well adapted to milk cows. The hulls remain attached to the grain after threshing, and this fact renders Emmer less dangerous as a stock feed than wheat. It weighs 38 to 40 lbs. per bushel.
It is mentioned, with regard to lucerne -
Lucerne was planted on all of the arid farms, part of the plats being planted in the fall and a part in the Spring; the fall planting was a failure whenever tried. The Spring planted plants were all successful ; that is, a stand of lucerne was obtained without a single failure on any of the farms. . . . We are assured of a good crop of lucerne next year, and much valuable data on the crop will doubtless accumulate in a few years. On many arid farms throughout the State, a good crop of lucerne is secured for hay ; the second crop gives a heavy and profitable yield of seed. Lucerne growing, especially lucerne seed production, is a reasonable possibility of the Utah desert.
With regard to the experiments conducted with maize, the report states -
The growing of corn on arid lands has been practised for many years in the arid farm districts of the State, and has been regarded feasible even where ‘other crops were failures. Corn, which permits of intertillage, has come into quite general favour as an arid farm crop, but the fact that a very small amount in corn, either on irrigated or arid farms, is grown in the State, would seem to indicate that this crop is not regarded in the light of a money making crop. Yet, corn can be successfully and profitably grown in this State, either on irrigated or arid lands, but more especially on arid lands.
The corn used for seed on these farms had been grown on dry land under the supervision of the station, for three years, and was in consequence adapted for this test. The yield in Iron County (25.93 bushels of ear corn per acre) was the best yield obtained, but it is thought that with less seed and with more experience in growing the crop, this yield can be materially increased, especially on summer fallowed land.
Nearly a ton per acre of corn stover (excellent feed for cattle and sheep) was obtained, in addition to the corn. With the exception of Sevier County, where early frosts prevented the corn from maturing, a crop was obtained on each of the farms.
I know of no more important question that can be dealt with in this Bill than this great question of bringing under cultivation great areas of our arid land, and success to large numbers of our struggling people. I should like to see the Federal Government do what has been done in Utah - start experimental farms.
– There are experimental farms all over New South Wales. Evidently the honorable member does not know what has been done there.
– We have heard of no results from them.
– We have had great results. What nonsense the honorable member is talking !
– The New South Wales Government publishes the returns.
– Does not the Minister think that it is desirable to extend the system to Western Australia, South Australia, and Queensland?
– This is good Socialism !
– It is not Socialism at all. These farms would only cost about ^£500 each.
– The amendment would bring in every squattage in the west.
– It would do nothing of the kind. In the country to which I am referring they have also grown various grasses, the particulars of which I need not recapitulate. The result was that at the end of the first year an exhibit or fair was held in Salt Lake City. I wish to quote the following passage about that fair -
It was thought that an exhibit of the actual products of the first year’s work on the dry farms at the State Fair would reach a large number of people, and stimulate an interest in the industry, and an exhibit was therefore made. Each of the stations was represented at the fair by samples of the grains, grasses, and miscellaneous crops grown thereon, affording object lessons of the greatest worth to every intelligent farmer who took time to study the exhibit. The Salt Lake daily papers commented on the exhibit, and of the thousands who visited this section during the week, not one was heard to make an adverse criticism. Many encouraging and helpful suggestions were made, and the sentiment that the State was expending money wisely in this desert reclamation work, was, seemingly, universal. The Deseret Evening News, discussing the exhibit, has this to say : - “ One year ago the farms were turned over to the Experiment Station, fenced and ready for the plow. They were covered with sagebush, and looked as uninviting from the stand-point of agriculture as could be imagined. The transformation from a desert to a fruitful field borders on the miraculous, and the result of the first season’s work - only one year removed from sagebrush barrens - is most incredible. The crops of various varieties of wheat, oats, barley, rye, speltz, Indian and Kaffir corn, sorghum and alfalfa, show surprising yields, while the growth of potatoes and sugar beets, the only vegetable tested, promise wonderful possibilities.”
On three successive days the Salt Lake Tribune called attention to the exhibit, and made the following editorial comment : - “A feature of this Fair never before seen is the extensive exhibit from the several dry faim stations of the State. The result of the present season’s work on these dry farms will prove an eye-opener to the farmers generally, as the yield of grain from them without any irrigation at all, and in a time of less than the normal precipitation during the growing season, is above the average from irrigated farms. We trust that all the farmers will pay especial attention to this exhibit, for it is likely to mark the introduction of a new era in the farming of the whole arid regions. The exhibit is in the southwestern corner of the building. “ Some excellent specimens of flint corn ears more than 18 inches long, and over’ which the corn was uniformly distributed-; lucern two feet in length; brone grass’ 1 5 inches in length, and cereals fully the equal of anything that can be grown on irrigated lands, were on exhibit. Such crops were the means of convincing many farmers and prominent business men of the State of the practicability of arid farming.”
I wish to ventilate this question in order that it may be properly investigated later on. I have been asked what the rainfall is in Utah, and I will give the particulars. In the northern portion of the State, the highest rainfall was 16 inches, and the lowest, 4; in the middle portion, the highest rainfall was 14 inches, and the lowest, 4.6 ; in the southern portion, the highest rainfall was 20 inches, but that was only in one spot ; over the remainder of the district, the rainfall ranged between 13 inches and 5. So that the average rainfall would not warrant us in calling the country anything better than arid.
– What was the actual rainfall where these crops were growing?
– Not more than 12 inches.
– How many falls were there per annum?
– That does not matter, because the water is stored in the soil. That is a matter which I shall probably discuss on another occasion. I now submit my amendment, and trust that the Committee will be iri sympathy with it, and will help me to carry it.
.- Whilst the idea of the honorable member for Echuca is good in intention, sufficient, in my opinion, is Being done in Australia at present in the direction of experimental farming. The honorable member seemed to be unaware that anything of that nature is ,now being done with cereals and other plants adaptable to Australian conditions. It does not follow because certain crops have succeeded in Utah, that the same plants would grow in Australia. Another consideration is that the rainfall in a particular district is no indication of whether particular crops will grow there. I believe that Australia has a larger area of good soil than has any other country in the world. Certainly, it has far more good soil than has America, where the area is limited, and science has to be applied to poor lands. In the arid portion of New South Wales we have a magnificent soil to a great ‘ depth, and it only needs rain to become productive. What I suggest to the Government is that a reward should be offered for the discovery of an invention which would bring down the rain. In my opinion, it would be far better to adopt that suggestion than to carryout the proposal of the honorable member for Echuca.- The New South Wales Astronomer told a Commission 1 of which I was a member that the moisture travelled about 400 or 500 miles, generally eastward, every twenty-four hours. He said that there is a sufficient quantity of mois ture passing over the continent every day to give an ample rainfall, and that it only remains for science to find a way to bring it down. It is more important to Australia than to any other country that this moisture should be brought down. The Government might very well consider the question of offering a reward, not only for 0 that purpose, but to encourage the invention of a machine for the cutting of . sugar cane and for the eradication of the fruit pest, as well as the tick. ‘ In Australia, we have, within the rainfall limit, a large area of country now unused but suitable for agricultural purposes, to which our attention should be directed before we seriously consider ‘a proposal of’ the kind just submitted. It would. he absolutely -cruel to ask a poor man to go into our arid districts and attempt to grow sorghum and other foddercrops. In New South Wales scores of men. have been ruined through being tempted to go west. In the rainfall districts there are millions of acres of land which are locked’up. When we have unlocked these lands near to the coast - and that will take some years- then it will be time enough to touch the arid districts in the west. Take, for . instance, my electorate. What chance would a farmer have to grow wheat at a distanceof 500 miles from the coast, to pay freight to the seaport, and to compete in the world’s market? It would be a hopelessundertaking on his part. Indeed, it would be absolute cruelty to encourage any one to make the experiment. In New South Wales we have carried on many experiments, although, unfortunately, the fact does not seem to be generally known. The honorable member for Echuca/ who recently had a most interesting trip, acquired much information inother countries. Apparently he did not . know of what was being done in Australia in some directions. For some years in New South Wales, the late Mr. Farrar experimented in producing a grain which would grow in the drier districts. Suchmen are almost invaluable to a country. In New South Wales, too, we have had somegreat enthusiasts in connexion with State- experimental farms. Of course, it is only . the Government who can afford to continuethese experiments, and it is their duty to do so. When it has been proved that in different districts a certain thing can be done, then it will be time enough to encourage settlers, to try their hand in that direction. A man might be ruined in experimenting on the lines which have been suggested by thehonorable member for Echuca, because,. , although the experiment might have succeeded elsewhere, climatic conditions in Australia might militate against it. In thewestern district of New South Wales, for instance, there is an average rainfall of 8 inches. If the rain came in -two falls the district would never be short of grass, but when it comes in a fall of half-an-inch now and again it is of no use for any purpose. In the great wheat-growing districts of California the rainfall is small, comparatively speaking, but it falls at the right time, whereas Australia is specially noted for the irregularity of its rainfall. In my electorate, for instance, there was an occasion when there was not a drop of rain for seven years. But within eight weeks of its- fall the grass was seven feet high. I do not believe that there is any other district in the world which could produce a similar result. The native grasses grew luxuriantly, and, of course, made magnificent fodder. That shows the quality of the soil. If the rain would only fall in a sufficient quantity once or twice a year anything could be grown in that country. I believe that a means will yet be discovered to make the rain fall when it is wanted, and when that discovery is made there will be no country in the world like Australia. We have richness of soil, though not, of course, to an unlimited depth. It has all the necessary chemical properties, and only wants moisture. If we have been able to bring water from below, surely we shall eventually be able to bring moisture from above. I do not think that, at the present time, we are called upon to expend public money in the way proposed by the honorable member for Echuca. The States are now carrying on experimental farms. New South Wales, for instance, established an experimental farm at Coolibah, on the border of the western district, and Mr. Peacock, who is now in charge of the Bathurst experimental farm, did much good work there. Unfortunately, he went there in a “drought, but he grew a great variety of salt bush, which, I regret to say, is not used for fodder as extensively as it should be.
– - In the dry areas of New South Wales we have had various experiments made, and some of them have been very successful Whether they have been carried out to the same extent as the American experiments I- am not prepared to say ; but I know that by cultivation Mr. Valder, who had charge of the experimental farm at Wagga Wagga, and who is now in South Africa, did succeed in producing very much more per acre bv dry farming, as it is called,- than did outside farmers. I asked him whether it was a commercial success, and he said that it was, and that he would be prepared to carry on the farm as a commercial concern if the Government would allow him to act on commercial lines. I made these remarks because it might be thought that the expenditure of time involved in the process would be greater than was warranted by the increased vieldobtained. He informed me, however, that such was not the case. It would have been a splendid thing if some of the money which it is proposed to expend by way of bounty upon the production of the com modities specified in this schedule had been spent in conducting experiments in dry farming upon some of our arid areas.
.- The honorable member for New England has remarked that any money which may be expended in the form of bounties should Le devoted to the development of new industries. I desire to point out to him that the proposal of the honorable member for Echuca would have the effect of granting a bounty upon the production of wheat to the majority of our Victorian wheatgrowers.
– 1 have no objection to their .getting it.
– The peculiar feature connected with agriculture in Victoria - and to a large extent the same remark is applicable to New South Wales- is that whilst we have an enormous area of good arable land in districts in which there is an assured rainfall, the great bulk of our cereal production comes from the drier districts. The honorable member for Echuca will agree with me that the bulk of the wheat produced in Victoria is grown within an area which might be defined by a line drawn forty miles north and west of the Dividing Ranee to the Murray and the South Australian border. Through that area the average rainfall during the past five years has not exceeded 14 inches.
– It has averaged from 16 to 20 inches.
– I have taken the precaution to obtain the .official figures from the Observatory: The officer in’ charge writes -
The quantity of rain recorded during the past. five years at each of the following stations is forwarded in response to your request received to-day by telephone.
The stations in question are Kerang, Echuca, Nathalia, and Numurkah, which, are typical of the midland and Goulburn Valley districts. At the Kerang station the average rainfall for the years 1901 to 1905, inclusive, was 12.60 inches. At Echuca the total rainfall during the same period was 70.95 inches, an average of a trifle more than 14 inches, and at Nathalia it aggregated 70 inches, or an average of .14 inches per annum. In the year 1901, when the wheat yield was a large one, the rainfall at Nathalia was only 12 inches. The same remark is applicable to the Echuca district. The returns for the Numurkah district for the years 1904 arid 1905 are not available, but for the three preceding years they were practically the same as the Nathalia record. That goes tq show that the average in the Numurkah district was about. 10 inches. Anything which can be done in the direction of imparting to our farmers a higher scientific education than they possess ought to be undertaken, and the honorable member for Echuca is justified in directing attention to the necessity for adopting better methods of cultivation with a view to conserving any moisture which may fall. But I would point out that what is known as “ dry farming “ has been practised in all the older settled northern districts of Victoria for many years, There the system of “ bare fallowing “ has been adopted. I fail to see how the payment of a bounty upon the production of cereals, sorghums, and grasses in our arid areas can be of the slightest possible benefit to our primary producers.
– It has already been proved that they can be produced here.
– Certainly. In supporting the Bill, my desire is to assist in making a commercial success of certain industries in connexion with which experiments have been made in Australia. That remark will apply to the production of rice, coffee, and certain other products included in the schedule. A good deal is being done by the States to promote new industries. We have experimental plots scattered all over Victoria– - even in the Mallee, where the average annual rainfall is about 8 inches- and experiments are being made to determine whether cereals and grasses can be successfully grown in arid districts.
– The State Department supplies the farmer’ with seed wheat.
– And also provides him with manures. The best expert advice is also provided by the State, and the same course is being followed by the Agricultural Department of New S’outh Wales. A Federal Bureau of Agriculture is necessary to collate the information obtained by the States Department. It is true, as has been said by, the honorable member for Echuca, that a Victorian farmer cannot be enlightened by the local Department as to what is being done by the agriculturists of other States. Let me relate an experience which befel me some years back. I live within, two hours’ drive df one of the best agricultural colleges in the Commonwealth. It is fairly well equipped, and is well controlled by a most enthusiastic body of capable men. In the early days, when
I first settled in the northern districts of Victoria, I conceived the idea that it was possible to grow lucerne there. I spent a good deal of money that I could not very well afford to lose in conducting experiments, and ultimately proved that lucerne could be successfully grown in the district. On visiting the Dookie Agricultural College, I found that the experts there, like myself and other farmers in the district, had been groping in the dark. It was only by going to the college that I was able to ascertain that fact. Unfortunately, at that time, full de, tails were not published of the work car.ried out by the Council of Agricultural Education of Victoria, an institution which is quite distinct from the Department of Agriculture. We have now got beyond that stage ; but if we had a Federal Department which would collect and disseminate the information obtained as the result of experiments by the States Departments, great good would accrue to the farmers. We live too much to ourselves; the farmers have not time to investigate all these matters for themselves, and if the results of the experiments conducted by the States Departments were collected by a Federal bureau, and disseminated amongst the people, inestimable good would accrue to the community.
– Over twenty years ago, I travelled through Utah, which was visited recently by the honorable member for Echuca, and at that time, the leading men in the country despaired of ever accomplishing in connexion with the agricultural industry, that which has been achieved of recent years. The honorable member has put before the Committee a practical proposal which he has supported by facts that can be readily verified. Shortly after Nevada became a State, its mines worked out, and its population was reduced to such an extent that had it not joined the Union during the great mining boom, it would not have been declared a State; but, as the result of dry farming, its population has increased three-fold during the last seven or eight years. In South Utah, rain sometimes does not fall during a period of five years, and yet, under the dry farming system, wheat can be produced there. These are facts that are worth knowing. There is no doubt that the great drawback to the progress of Australia is that some of her people - like other small communities - think that they know everything that is worth learning.
– How is it that we can raise good crops?
– Some of the farmers here are fifty years behind the farmers in Canada and the United States. We make a great mistake by isolating ourselves. The Minister has been asking the Committee to agree to the payment of bounties to encourage industries which may never be successful, but the proposal of the honorable member for ‘ Echuca is undoubtedly one that can be carried to a successful issue. Why should the Minister object to the amendment? I have not made more than three speeches during the session, and yet this morning, when I am advocating a system which I know to be an accomplished fact in America, honorable members are impatient. Australia is a mighty continent, almost as large as the United States of America, including Alaska, and dry farming will enable our arid lands to be profitably cultivated.
– Not all the best land is cultivated yet. Thousands of acres of the best land in the Western District are not being utilized.
– The land tax proposed by the leader of the Labour Party will cause the land to be utilized. Why should not the farmers enjoy the benefits of the bounty system? They are the foundation of our prosperity. If Melbourne were burned down, the farmers would rebuild it very; quickly ; but if our farming population were destroyed, the people of Melbourne would starve.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 17
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I move -
That the item “ Miscellaneous . . £7,000,” be amended by increasing the amount to £17,000.
– I cannot accept the amendment, because, if it were carried, it would exceed the amount sanctioned in the message of the Governor-General.
– May I remind you, Mr. Chairman, that if your ruling is right, the Minister of Trade and Customs is in a similar difficulty. According, to the Bill, the honorable gentleman is supposed to spend not more than. £75,000 a year, which, of course, means that he may expend that amount each year.
– But the total amount expended must not exceed £500,000 in the ten years.
– Will the Chairman kindly tell me what was the message of the Governor-General ?
– The message practically covered an expenditure of £500,000, and if another £10,000 per annum be now added to that expenditure over the ten years the total expenditure will amount to £600,000.
– Not at all. My idea is to have an increased expenditure for only a few years, with the object of covering some trial shipments, with a view to reaching the markets of the world with our fruit.
– The honorable member is slipping.
– There is no question, of “ slipping “ ; it is a matter of allocating the money, the expenditure of which has already been decided upon by the Committee. The object I have in view is infinitely more worthy than are many proposals of the Government. If this money has to be spent, Jet us spend it to the best advantage; and I think that if ever there was a fair field for bounties, it is that suggested by the honorable member for Echuca. I now suggest another experiment, which, if successful, would give a return a hundredfold above that which might be expected from many of the other items in theschedule. May I ask the limit to which I can go?
– The limit to which an increase may be made is £9,000.
– As I cannot submit a proposal of the nature I desire, I ask the Minister to take the matter into consideration. I now move -
That the item “Miscellaneous” be amended by the insertion of the following words : - “ and fruit exported to markets outside Australia.”
.- I understand that we are committed to an expenditure of £500,000, and that that amount is to be distributed as bonuses in relation to a certain number of articles. I understand that the amendment of the honorable member for Parramatta, without attempting to increase the vote in the total, means ‘that another article is to be added to the list which shall receive its share.
– Which shall receive its share of the £9,000 now available.
– If the proposal of the honorable member for Parramatta means the increase of the total expenditure by one sixpence I shall oppose it, but if it means that the fruit industry shall receive a portion of the amount we have already voted, then I certainly see no reason why that industry should not be given some encouragement, in face of the fact that we have voted bounties to the oil, coffee, and other industries already established. If we are to spend £500,000 in this way, all primary producers should be placed on the same footing; and I do not see why the producer of potatoes or fruit should not receive the same encouragement as the producer of olive oil, coffee, or cocoa.
– We are beginning to reduce the proceedings to a farce. There are a number of industries which members of the Opposition have forgotten to mention, such as the production of lemon peel. If we grant a bonus to the industry I have just mentioned, and to others, we shall reduce the amount to about £1 per industry. I think we have had enough of this discussion.
Mr.JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta) [3.59]. - The honorable member for Hindmarsh is very anxious to describe as farcical any proceedings which may be outside his particular sphere. The proposal before the Chair, so far from being farcical, will, if carried, facilitate exchange in one of the largest industries of Australia - an industry which certainly needs assistance. No other industry is suffering from such disabilities, particularly in regard to difficulties of export. The proposal is to allocate a little of this money to facilitate exchanges, and if honorable members desire to do some good they now have an opportunity.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the item “ Miscellaneous . . £7,000,” be increased to £9,000.
– I understood the Minister to agree to do what he could to secure a trial shipment of the kind suggested by the honorable member for Parramatta.
– I certainly understood so, or I should have had a few words to say in support of the suggestion of the honorable member for Parramatta, which I regarded as a very proper one.
– I wish to know whether the Minister has considered the question of making provision for .a bonus for the encouragement of the cultivation of the date palm?
– We have passed the stage at which it is possible to include a provision of that kind in the schedule.
– If the appropriation be increased in the manner proposed, the Minister may see his way to provide for trial shipments such as those suggested by the honorable member for Parramatta. ‘ The South Australian Government have arranged to make a trial shipment of eggs, and have undertaken the work not only of grading the eggs, but of selling those rejected, and returning the proceeds to the producers. The shipment is being made with the object of ascertaining whether it is possible to successfully export eggs from the Commonwealth to the old country. The honorable member for Parramatta suggested that a similar course should be. adopted with regard to oranges. 1 think that if his proposal were adopted, it would be a good thing for our producers, and that is the reason why I voted for his amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Schedule, as amended, agreed to.
Preamble agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
SUPPLY BILL (No. 2).
Bill returned from Senate without request.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) agreed to -
That the House at its rising adjourn until half-past 3 o’clock to-day.
House adjourned at 4.13 a.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 August 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1906/19060829_reps_2_33/>.