2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General if the contract for the construction of the telephone line from Hopetoun to Woodford, Queensland, has been let, and, if so, who is the successful tenderer, and when is the work expected to be completed ?
– I hope to be able to give the honorable member the information later on.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister when the proposed reciprocity treaty between the Commonwealth and New Zealand will be laid upon the table.
– In a few moments.
– I desire to know whether the Minister of Home Affairs has yet received the information for which I asked yesterday with reference to the number of contingent votes polled in the constituencies of Brisbane and Moreton at the Federal elections in 1901.
– The information was telegraphed for yesterday, and I have received a reply stating that some difficulty has been experienced in obtaining the necessary returns. Further efforts are being made in that direction.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
As the Chief Electoral Officer has certified that the preparations for the General Election can be all completed so that the polling can take place on the21st day of November next, will the Government fix that date as the date of the Elections?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The Chief Electoral Officer did not certify that the preparations for the general elections can be completed so that the polling can take place on the 21st November next, hut estimated that this would be the case. He is not yet in a position to fix the date more definitely, and until he is it would be premature for the Government to consider the fixing of a particular day.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable and learned member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral upon notice - .
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The information required is not available in Melbourne. Steps are being taken to obtain it, and it will be placed on the table as soon asit is received.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether he is yet in a position to inform the House when the Auditor-General’s report will be available to members?
– It is hoped that within a fortnight the Treasurer’s statement will be ready for transmission to the Auditor-General, who, I am informed, within a month thereafter will be able to report upon it to Parliament.
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister of Defence, upon notice-
Are not the following, consequently, facts : -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
These Regulations were superseded on the 31st January, 1902, by Commonwealth Regulations which do not provide for the payment of any gratuity.
Sergeant Conyers enlisted in the R.A.A. on 4th December, 1885, i.e., twelve years before the publication of the Regulations under which Long Service Medals were awarded. 3. (a) This is dealt with in my reply to question 2.
No. It was considered inadvisable by the Government, on the ground of expense, to provide for such gratuities throughout the whole of the Commonwealth. 5, 6, and 7. The answers to these questions do not come within the province of the Minister for Defence.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether he will inform the House as to when he intends to give it the information asked for several times as to the Government’s intention with regard to the reduction of Telephone rates worked on the condenser principle?
– I will give the information referred to on Tuesday next.
– Yesterday, the honorable member for Lang asked the following questions: -
The Acting Deputy Postmaster-General,. Sydney, has furnished the following information : - .
– The honorable and learned member for Corio asked on 16th August how many officers and men were borne in H.M. ships of the Australian Squadron. The Vice-Admiral, ComnanderinChief, reports that on the 1st August, 1906, 187 officers and 3,164 men were borne. The following is a detailed statement: -
Motion (by Mr. Mahon) agreed to.
That all papers of whatever character in connexion with the erection and opening of the post-office at Gwalia, in the State of Western Australia, be laid upon the table of this House.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to alter the Constitution with respect to the appropriation of Special Duties of Customs and of Excise.
-Ithinkthatthe Prime Minister might give us some inkling as to the object of his proposal. . He might tell us, for instance, whether it has anything to do, as has been suggested in some quarters, with the old-age pension scheme, or the paucity of the funds in possession of the Treasurer, or whether it is contemplated to bring down another schedule of bounties, in order to place at the disposal of the Minister of Trade and Customs further funds for distribution throughout the Commonwealth. He might explain why he proposes to take the grave step of altering the Constitution for the purpose of appropriating special duties of Customs and Excise. Is it contemplated, for instance, to raise additional duties which are to be ear-marked, and, if so, to what special purposes are they to be ap preprinted ? I should like to know whether the Prime Minister has the slightest notion that he will be able to deal with such legislation as that now proposed during the few remaining days of this Parliament. I find that on the business-paper we have already nine proposals, some of which are of a very important character, whilst other proposals, which will require the serious consideration of this House, are before the other Chamber. In. fact, the notice-paper is glutted with business, and now two most important proposals are sought to be added. It strikes me that neither the Prime Minister nor the Treasurer anticipate that they will be able to deal with the two important measures which they are now bringing forward. It may be that the Prime Minister is adopting a novel way of publishing his manifestoes to the country. If so, I congratulate him upon his ingenuity, because, all that he will require to do will be to take the business-paper with him when he goes to the country. One cannot imagine a proposal of more urgent and supreme importance to the Commonwealth than that of the Treasurer relating to the States debts. We know what that means, but we have not had the slightest indication as to the nature of the Prime Minister’s intentions.
– It is not usual to object to or criticise a motion asking for leave to introduce a Bill, but when we have placed before us a proposal which indicates that steps are to be taken to make a series of alterations in the Constitution, I think that honorable members are entitled to ask for information. I am puzzled to know what the motion of the Prime Minister really means. If what I consider to be the vicious policy of ear-marking certain duties of Customs and Excise is to be adopted, that course could be followed without altering the Constitution. I suppose that it is intended to make an appropriation - in advance of special duties of Customs and Excise for some specific purpose. I do not wish to discuss the policy of such a proceeding, but I think that it has special drawbacks, and is most vicious. I think that it would be better for the Prime Minister to tell us what he is really aiming at. There is nothing in the Constitution to prevent the appropriation of the proceeds of a particular duty for a special purpose. After October next we shall be in a position to appropriate the surplus revenue from Cus- toms and Excise revenues, as we think fit. As I have said, although it is unusual to object to a motion for leave to introduce a Bill, there is some justification for asking for information, seeing that this motion is apparently the beginning of a series of amendments of the Constitution. The House ought not to approve of any casual tampering with the Constitution. In the United States a series of amendments have been embodied in the Constitution, owing to the adoption of methods similar to those proposed to be followed here. At the beginning they were constitutional amendments, but now the majority of them are really legislative amendments. As a result, the State Constitutions of America are really a long series of provisions upon general matters as well as instruments declaring the fundamental relations of the people to the Government.
Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat- Minister of External Affairs [3.46]. - It is not usual to make a statement of this kind, but I may reassure my honorable friends by saying that both the Bills which we desire to introduce will be found simple in the extreme. I expect to see the measure which will be introduced by the Treasurer unanimously adopted almost without discussion. It would not be in order for me to allude to its provisions beyond saying that every Treasurer of the Commonwealth, every leader of the Opposition, and almost every member of this House has declared himself in favour of enabling the whole of the debts of the States to be taken over by the Commonwealth if Parliament should decide to do so. That is all that the Bill ‘has reference to. It will not accomplish anything, but it will simply enable what I have indicated to be done. The measure which I desire to introduce will not deprive the States of anything which, they now possess; it simply provides that any revenue derived from new duties which may be imposed by this Parliament or by succeeding Parliaments for any special purpose shall be capable of being devoted entirely to that purpose, instead of three-fourths of it being, as at present, returned to the States, and onefourth of it being retained by the Commonwealth. The measure does not appropriate anything, but it enlarges the powers of the next Commonwealth Parliament. Should it be assented to by Parliament and the people it will enable the next Parliament to deal either with the question of old-age pensions, or with any other scheme which would make a large demand upon the funds of the Commonwealth.
– It provides for the imposition of special duties for a special object ?
– It will enable a new duty to be imposed for a special object. Only that, and nothing more.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
(PUBLIC DEBTS OF STATES) BILL.
Sir JOHN FORREST (Swan- Treasurer [3.48]. - I move -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution relating to the public debts of the States.
I may remark that the sole object of this Bill is to enable the electors of the Commonwealth to decide the question as to the wisdom or otherwise of empowering the Commonwealth to take over the whole of the States debts instead of taking over only the debts which existed at the time of the establishment of the Federation.
.- I should like to know whether the Treasurer has submitted to the Attorney-General the question which I raised during the course of the Budget debate as to whether the amendment which he himself has outlined in the Constitution will be sufficient to empower this Parliament to take over a maturing loan in any State without at the same time being compelled to take over an equal proportion of the debts of every other State. I am convinced, not merely from my own reading, but from opinions which have been- obtained from legal gentlemen that it will be necessary to acquire some such power if the Treasurer is to have that free hand which, in my view is essential to the economic treatment of this question. I should like to be assured that the Bill will be sufficiently far-reaching, to permit of action of that kind being taken.
.- I desire to know if there is any reason underlying the introduction of two separate Bills for an amendment of the Constitution. Are they introduced merely as a matter of practice, or is it an absolute necessity that a separate Bill should be introduced in connexion with every contemplated amendment of the Constitution?
– In reply to the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Corio, I merely wish to say that two Bills are being introduced so as to provide for an easier reference of each question involved to the people. The course that we are following will afford the electors an opportunity of saying whether they are in favour of one amendment and not in favour of the other. I am glad to be able to give the honorable member for Bland my assurance that the Government propose to take the widest power to meet the case which he suggests, so that this Parliament may be empowered to take what action it may choose in regard to all previous as well as all future loans.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat- Minister of
External Affairs) [3.52]. - In laying upon the table of the House a copy of the provisional agreement which was entered into between the late Prime Minister of New Zealand and the Commonwealth Government, which has now been indorsed by the successor of Mr. Seddon, I do not intend to detain the House except to offer a few words of explanation. My colleague, the Minister of Trade and Customs, will submit, as the next business of the House, the customary resolution in order to protect the revenue in consequence of any effects which the proposed treaty may have upon our existing Tariff. Honorable members will recollect the untoward circumstances which have been responsible for delay in the presentation of this agreement. The sudden and most regrettable decease of the great statesman who, for so many years guided the fortunes of our sister State, necessitated a reconstruction of its Government, and the return of its present able leader from the old world. Until the new Cabinet had an opportunity of perusing the agreement and of considering their obligations in regard to it, it was impossible for us to present it to the people of this country. I am happy to say. however, that the Government of New Zealand have to-day taken the necessary steps to submit this agreement to its Parliament. Only a moment ago, whilst I was in the very act of rising to my feet, I received from the Prime Minister of New Zealand a cable which informs me that the reciprocal resolutions - that is to say the re solutions providing for this reciprocal Tariff - have passed the House of Representatives, and now have the force of law prior to the introduction of a Bill. I learn from the message that in the New Zealand Parliament the treaty has been referred to the Industries and Commerce Committee to report upon it within one week. The cablegram is, signed by Sir Joseph Ward, the trusted Prime Minister of New Zealand. One reason why I have intervened prior to the submission of the resolution is because honorable members will notice that the agreement includes a reference to some duties not to be found in the resolutions when submitted. That is the case where our duties have not been altered, but are embodied in the agreement, because it binds both New Zealand and ourselves not to alter them, except with proportional concessions to each other, unless the assent of the other party is first obtained. There is a compact between us which involves no Tariff alteration. That has been omitted from the resolution’ which my colleague will presently propose. The covering portion of this provisional agreement sets out upon its face - as no resolution submitted in Committee of Ways and Means need do - both its purport and character. Our agreement reads -
The Governments of the colony of New Zealand and of the Commonwealth of Australia desiring to promote trade and intercourse between their respective countries as a means of closer union have agreed to recommend to their Parliaments reciprocal and preferential concessions in certain Customs duties upon the following conditions : -
The respective Tariffs to be amended so as to impose duties at the rates named in the schedule hereto on articles of produce or produce and manufacture of and imported from New Zealand and Australia respectively.
No reductions or increases or impositions of duties on articles named in the schedule are to be conceded by either Government to any other country until the consent of the other Government has been obtained. In the event of any such reductions or increases or impositions of duties being insisted upon by either Parliament, this agreement shall be terminable by the other Parliament on twelve months’ notice.
Provided, however, that this agreement shall not be affected should Australia or New Zealand or both make the reduction of duties necessary to take advantage of the recent South African Customs Convention.
The proportion between the special rates of the schedule and the ordinary Tariff is to be maintained should either party alter its ordinary Tariff.
This arrangement is to come into force on a date to be proclaimed by the Governor-General and Governor of New Zealand respectively after both Parliaments shall have accepted it, and shall remain in force for three years, and thereafter until one year’s notice be given by either party.
– The honorable member’s question will be legitimate directly we get into Committee of Ways and Means, but I am suppressing detail in order not to complicate the consideration of the principles to which I desire to draw attention. I do not propose to detain honorable members, as the importance of this step would well justify me in doing, by offering any exposition of the real significance of the agreement. That can well await the detailed consideration of the proposals themselves, and would perhaps appear better as a summary of their consequence than as an anticipation of what is now offered in this Parliament. But I do not think that the agreement should be laid upon the table without a recognition of the fact that this is the first step of the kind taken by this Parliament - almost the first step of the kind taken by any Parliament in Australasia - that it marks the initiation of a most important movement towards a. closer relationship with that community, which is both geographically nearest to us and united to us by the most intimate ties. In itself, therefore, it marks a new departure in the history of the Commonwealth and of Australasia. Indeed, at this moment I do not recall any such reciprocal treaty in existence between any two portions of the Empire. The Canadian treaty and the South African treaty both extend special advantages to the mother country, without those countries receiving anything in return. In the present instnce our two communities - neighbours in the Pacific - have come together for the purpose of endeavouring to enter into commercial relations of a wider character than those which have hitherto obtained. I need not remind honorable members that the very fact that we are such neighbours - that our circumstances, both of climate and production, are so similar - renders the making of a treaty of this kind more difficult in most aspects than others into which we could enter. We are people of the same stock, living, working, and producing under conditions so simitar that we are necessarily more or less competitors with each other here and in the world’s markets. The exchange between two communities at the same stage of development, and living under the same geographical and climatic conditions, is necessarily much more restricted than one made with dissimilar communities in other parts of the world. Under these circumstances, it need be no matter of surprise that the preparation of this treaty involved a long series of very anxious discussions with the late Prime Minister of New Zealand. As far as those discussions dealt with fiscal particulars in this agreement, the Commonwealth was principally represented by my honorable colleague, the Minister of Trade and Customs. He knows, as I do, how often during the course of those debates, and of examinations of the opportunities which we possess, it appeared as if we had reached the breaking point, and that an agreement of a practical character was not possible. We know the extraordinary ability, mastery of detail, and grasp of the whole circumstances of trade, possessed by the late Prime Minister of New Zealand, who knew, if any man did, all the prospects and circumstances of his own Colony. The patience of that honorable gentleman, and his anxiety to arrive at this agreement, were , equal to his knowledge, and, as the outcome of it, we are able to lay before the House an agreement that, in our opinion, ought to meet with acceptance both in the Parliament of New Zealand and in the Parliament of the Commonwealth. We do not claim that it represents in any respect a triumph on our part at the expense of New Zealand, any more than it exhibits concessions and advantages to New Zealand without counterbalancing advantages to the Commonwealth. It was in the adjustment of these mutual concessions that our whole task lay. Recognising the necessary imperfections of every work of this character, we yet submit it with confidence as the result of a resolute determination on both sides to make a legitimate agreement on behalf of our respective peoples. We are now laying a foundation, in the first place, for an extension of trade exchanges between New Zealand and the Commonwealth, and in the next opening possibilities of commercial extension in regard to the rest of the Empire - possibilities for which without such a treaty we could not hope. This proposition is a practical illustration of the fact that protection, as we under- stand it, is not the inelastic and mechanical scheme its opponents are accustomed to picture. On the contrary, it is elastic and adaptable to the circumstances of each particular people. We recognise that a Tariff which embodies the protectionist ideas of any one community is likely to differ from the Tariff of another community exactly in proportion to the economic and racial differences which separate them. But we also recognise as one of the fundamental features! of our policy that it is possible, while amply safeguarding the interests of our own people, to serve those interests by an expansion, on fair terms, of our trade with other communities. Particularly do we believe this to be not only a possibility, but an obligation, in regard to our sister communities within the Empire. This agreement is distinctive since it is the first of its kind submitted in Australasia - the first in the history of the Commonwealth - and, as far as I know, the first within the Empire. Honorable members may recollect, however, that it is not the only proposition of the kind that has engaged our attention. Some time ago we received, through the Secretary of State for the Colonies, a genena I invitation from the Dominion of Canada to make such a mutual arrangement. . We replied asking for a more specific proposal, and suggested an exchange of information. That overture has not been followed up.
– Ls it likely to be, after the way in which the Government have dealt with the harvesters from Canada ?
– I do not apprehend that it would afford the slightest obstacle ; it might offer an inducement if they thought that they could persuade us to make a concession. Communications have also taken place between the Commonwealth and our other sister community, in South Africa. These had to be postponed in the first place because of the holding of the periodical Customs Convention; but when we had an opportunity to examine the schedules framed by that Convention we made a proposal to South Africa, which it appears must be submitted to the several States that form the Customs “Union. The cable acquaints us with the fact that, in those parts of the Empire, very serious questions have arisen, which are apparently absorbing the attention of its Governments and peoples. At all events, we are without that practical response to our proposal that would enable me to say to-day that we expect to be able, within a short time, to lay upon the table an agreement for more familiar trade relations with the people of South Africa.
– They say that they are waiting on us.
– I beg the honorable member’s pardon; they have never said so. Certain agents of Australian States have made such an assertion. We have submitted a proposal specifying the exact concessions that we offer, and have been for some time, waiting for a response. The delay which has occurred in no degree results from either any action or inaction on our part.
– What was the legislative authority there?
– The Customs Convention, whose conclusions have to be accepted by the four Colonies. One or other of those Colonies is at present the cause of the delay. I hope - although I cannot say that I expect - that before the close of this Parliament we shall be able to lay upon the table a Tariff proposal of mutual advantage to South Africa and the Commonwealth. In entering into this proposed reciprocal agreement with New Zealand we felt ourselves necessarily pressed both by the example of New Zealand itself and also by our own sentiment, which made it in some respects repugnant to us to exclude from the scope of our consideration of a question of this kind our own relations in the mother country. Although the political circumstances of the United Kingdom are not at present such as to encourage us to believe that we are likely to receive a proposition from the Imperial Government for a mutual Customs agreement based upon principles of reciprocal advantage, we realize that in the course of time, at all events-
– A long time hence.
– It may be long or short, but some of us feel that probably in a short time the complexion of thought in that country will change in this regard. We feel that there must be such a change when once its people are satisfied that our object is not to make a raid upon their industrial life, or to invite them to make a raid upon our local development. Our aim is to examine our trade with other countries, with whom we have no political relationship or any racial tie, in order to determine whether we cannot, for our mutual advantage, divert that trade to each other, and, by sharing it, add to the development of the Empire.
– And perhaps increase the cost of food to the people of Great Britain.
– I do not hold that result to be at all necessary, and believe it can be avoided in every practical sense. In any case they have the entire control of their own affairs in this regard, just as we have of our affairs. No agreement can be accepted unless the electors of Great Britain as well as those ofl the Commonwealth consent to it. Both parties require to be satisfied that the bargain to be struck is a fair one. Proposals of this nature partake of two elements - that of the business bargain and that of the racial tie. My honorable colleague to-day will submit, in addition to the motion consequent upon our agreement with the Government of’ New Zealand, a motion of our own covering a grant to the mother country of an advantage over her commercial rivals in the markets of our Commonwealth. We believe that this advantage can be conceded by Parliament without the sacrifice of the local interests that we are pledged to protect. We believe that it will beget a better understanding between ourselves and the mother country; that it will be an earnest of the possibilities we possess of ultimately entering into mutual trade relations of a much larger and much closer kind. We do not put forward this .preference as more than the mere forerunner of complete preferential trade with the mother country ; we put it forward as only an earnest of further advances that we are prepared to make providing we are met in the same spirit and with the same motive. Desiring to take no advantage of our kinsmen in the old world, we are prepared to wait until they are convinced, as we believe they will be, that it is to their advantage, as well as to our own, that we should enter into closer and more intimate trade relations. With the awakening of a true national consciousness, we shall sound the death knell of many of the fiscal superstitions that now obscure the future of our peoples on both sides of the world. We hope a clear vision will follow in due course. In the meantime, this is a preliminary overture. It is no more than a first short step on the road we desire to travel, and along which we hope and believe we shall proceed in amity together for all time.
– The overture of a brass band ! 1
– Our overture is hopeful. Compare the response made to our former appeal to individual States. Today we find a most remarkable change of front on the part of those who formerly would have opposed us bitterly if we had made such a proposition. After the evidence of an awakening that we have had during the last few days in our Bounty Bill, we have no doubt that little more is necessary to induce honorable gentlemen opposite to adopt these and similar proposals as cordially as thev are adopting others which hitherto they have spent their political lives in denouncing. I have been diverted in my purpose, which, when I rose to make these remarks, was in no sense controversial. I have allowed a cross fire of interjections to pass by unnoticed, and propose to leave them with this brief, and, as I believe, sufficient, answer for one and all. I lay this agreement upon the table with great anticipations that it will prove a seedling, hereafter to attain proportions nobler than any of us can foresee. It is an agreement with New Zealand, based upon considerations of a business character, of the potencies of trade exchanges between us. The preference to the mother country is not reciprocal, and merely a preliminary, made as an earnest of our hopes and aspirations in regard to the establishment of closer relations with her and with other parts of the Empire. In considering this reciprocal agreement with New Zealand, we must be prepared to determine what reasonable reductions as well as what reasonable increases may be made of our existing duties. We are not called upon to make the same reductions to the United Kingdom, because this is not a. bargain. It is a one-sided advance, if regarded merely from a commercial stand-point. It is something more concrete than the open offer we have already made. , That offer is repeated here and now, with additional emphasis, in. order to show that we adopt a policy of protection for Australasia which, is capable of fostering a policy of protection for the whole Empire. We believe that the strength and influence of the Empire depend upon the ties which unite it. and upon the power and capacity to make the best use of our peoples and their powers. While we do not exaggerate, we are far from ignoring the importance of the commercial ties essential to national life. What unity of sentiment we possess in the Commonwealth has been brought about chiefly by the creation of a uniform Tariff. When that Tariff has been thoroughly and completely modelled, as it has not yet been, upon the principles of protection, it will make our people so absolutely one that the idle suggestions of secession which we occasionally hear now will dissipate like the thinnest mist. In deepening the unity of Australia, we hope to extend its patriotic impulses to embrace our fellow countrymen in New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, the United Kingdom, and, indeed, wherever the flag flies. Our ships are part of our territory in truth and in law. Our union will be parti y_ based upon practical considerations which should never be neglected. Of these the greatest is the stimulus of hope in each other, and the steadying force of mutual assistance. We can and ought to enhance the wealth, the resources, the reserve powers, and the intercourse of the peoples who to-day hold Australia with the fleet, and by whose help we shall, if necessary, standing together, be able to face a world in arms. But we shall not be able to do so if we continue to share as recklessly as we do to-day the wealth and opportunities which we possess with foes and strangers, without demanding those equivalents which we can obtain from our own race and our own stock all round the world. This fiscal step, short as it is, marks an advance upon the high road of the modern world which leads to true national greatness. The full development of Australia is to be won and retained within the full development of an united Empire. I move -
That the paper laid upon the table be printed.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta) [4.19I - I congratulate the Prime Minister upon having taken advantage of this opportunity to deliver his pronunciamento to the electors of Australia. It was a shrewd move to deliver a carefully-prepared speech of this character before the proposals with which he dealt are available to honorable members, thereby placing- those who desire to reply to him at the disadvantage which ignorance must entail.
– I assure the honorable member that I did not come with a note for the speech just delivered.
– I congratulate the honorable and learned member on his -
– Slimness would Le the better word, and upon the high sense of fairness which appears to dominate him in discussing these controversial subjects. He began by disclaiming any party intention in connexion with the mak ing of these proposals, but he ended by delivering a party speech meant, not for this House, but for the electors. There are ominous signs of a speedy appeal to the constituencies, and the sooner that appeal is made the better, if in the meanwhile the time of Parliament is to be occupied by the making of election addresses. While we are here, we should attend to the business of the country, instead of wasting our opportunities in empty political pyrotechnics such as have just been indulged in by the Prime Minister. Having thus referred to his foreword, which I regret to say was a purely political word, I wish to add that we on this side welcome any proposal for reciprocity with New Zealand, or any other portion, of the Empire. The thought occurs to one, why should there not be absolute free-trade between New Zealand and Australia? Why should there be a fettered trade, the difficulties of which it will take a supreme effort to overcome? Why should these difficulties exist? Clearly they arise from the determination of the Government to keep our doors closed against New Zealand in regard to most of the commodities which we in common produce.
– The feeling in New Zealand is just as strong.
– It may be so, and no doubt is ; but that does not make it the more righteous that members of the same race, separated from each other by only a narrow strip1 of sea, should erect the barriers which now divide us. Honorable members ought to realize that New Zealand is much nearer to Australia than are some of our States to each other. The distance from Australia to New Zealand is only about 1,300 miles, whereas, I am told, that from Queensland to Western Australia there is a distance of over 3,000 miles bv sea. Would it not be infinitely to our advantage to have absolute freedom of commercial intercourse between New Zealand and Australia?
– Let New Zealand join the union.
– The people of New Zealand are not such fools as to do so.
– They have kept out of the union because of their isolation, not because of their distance. Manyefforts were made to induce them to join with us. They sent representatives to the first Convention, and it was then understood that they would be part and parcel of any’ Federation. The way can be paved to fuller and completer union by unionising the trading routes between New Zealand and Australia. There is no reason why we should shut our doors against New Zealand, or why she should .shut her doors against us. Union between the two countries will come along the lines of the commercial routes, and it is worth while to consider whether we cannot bring about a closer commercial union than exists now. We are, of course, in ignorance of the extent of the limited commercial unity aimed at by the proposal which has been made. But is it necessary to protect ourselves from the competition of New Zealand? Have we to fear the competition of pauper labour, or of those on a lower plane of civilization there ? The ordinary arguments for protection which may apply to the competition of foreign nations do not apply in this case. There is no reason why there should not be full and complete unity between the two countries, so far as trading relations are concerned, and a proposal for such unity would have been a better one for the Prime Minister to herald with such a flourish) of trumpets than the modified system now proposed. The honorable and learned gentleman gave us no particulars. While speaking of this greater brotherhood, of this larger degree of amity, concord, and unity of sentiment and purpose, he failed to say whether the intention is to reduce or to increase duties. What is the basis of the proposal ? Is this another effort to sneak in more protection? We have had too much sneaking in of protection in this Parliament. It is time that more straightforward methods were adopted in regard to the imposition of duties. A series of sinister proposals has been laid before us, having “for their supreme object the placing of further restrictions on the trade of Australia. I am not now arguing whether that is a good or a bad thing; but I denounce the paltry methods which have been .adopted. If we are to have protection, let us bring it about by methods which are fair and aboveboard. Let the Government make their proposals for the imposition of duties straightforwardly, relying on the strength which they profess to have behind them. Do not let them, under cover of this and that proposal, try to foist further restrictions on our. people, without reference to the electors, and in a Parliament pledged to fiscal peace. The Prime Minister referred to some criticism supposed to have been made by those who do not subscribe to the same fiscal faith as he professes, about the want of elasticity in the protectionist theory ; but no one with whom I am acquainted has ever denied that protection is a very elastic policy. It is stretched by the honorable and learned gentleman to cover every industrial and social virtue. By a sort of spurious and empirical reasoning, he makes it the be-all and end-all of everything that is good, true, high, and holy. I do not at all subscribe to his methods of argumentation, than which none are easier, more fallacious, or misleading. Protection is an economic theory which has to do with certain phases of our industrial existence, but it does not stretch away into, nor is it concerned with, all the social functions of the States, as the Prime Minister is always preaching from the housetops. There is a good deal of elasticity about protection, and I am anxious to see how elastic the ideas of Ministers are in connexion, with the proposals for bringing about a closer union ‘between the Commonwealth and New Zealand. Is the stretching of the duties to be up or down - that is the point? Is it proposed to stretch the duties in an upward direction, to keep them as they are, or to bring them down below the present rates, in order to favour the mother country ? Is the Prime Minister, under covet of the reciprocity treaty with New Zealand, going to erect a still higher protectionist wall- around Australia? If so, he proposes to be generous at the expense of the people of Australia.
– That will depend upon this House.
– I know that, but I am obliged to make these remarks in ignorance, because of the conditions under which the speech of the Prime Minister has been delivered. There will be no difficulty in entering into reciprocal relations with the old country if the Prime Minister is prepared to adopt the only means by which thev can be brought about. He is so generous in his attitude towards the old country that he wants the people of the United Kingdom to upset the whole of their trade relations to accommodate Australia. They say that they cannot afford to do so. That is the verdict of the electors of Great’ Britain. Because of the problems confronting them affecting questions of Empire and their relations with the rest of the world, thev are not able to do what he suggests. Yet the Prime Minister can do nothing more than ask 40,000,000 people in Great Britain to make a great and grave departure from the theory of industrial life which has so long stood them in such good stead. He wants them to throw that theory overboard, or to cripple and maim it, before he will treat with them at all, with a view to bring about what he calls a closer brotherhood. There is no generosity in that. If the Prime Minister were to say to the people of England, ‘ ‘ You are of the same race that we are, you belong to the same blood and have the same ideals. Come, let us trade together for what it may be worth for each of us “ - that would be a generous attitude to adopt towards the great mother country. But there is nothing generous in the position taken up by the Prime Minister. He stands with the walls of protection built high around Australia, and will not take them down. He talks about brotherhood and loyalty. Let him show that he is sincere by adopting an attitude of self-sacrifice. Surely there are abundant reasons why we should be generous towards the old country, even to the point of’ making considerable sacrifices. I am making these remarks without knowing anything as to the proposals to be submitted, and I say again that the Prime Minister might have reserved his speech until the House was in a position to know something more of the matter regarding which he has spoken in such eloquent terms. He expressed the hope that these proposals relating to reciprocity between the Commonwealth and New Zealand would prove to be of the nature of seedlings. Whilst some seedlings are good, others are bad. Some seedlings develop into beautiful trees. Others become stunted, or cancerous and loathsome growths. The result all depends upon, the nature of the seed that is sown. I hope that the seeds that are sown in this case will germinate, and that the resulting growths will bring; forth fruit in abundance - the fruit of a closer union of the peoples in these seas, and inducement to follow a common pathway in the realization of a common ideal.
– No one would be better pleased than I would to see the bounds of freedom widened bv the proposed reciprocity treaty. The Prime Minister referred to the fact that there had been an awakening of members on this side of the House, but we who have sat here in direct opposition to the Government have always been ready to give the greatest assistance to the old coun try. The Prime Minister talks beautifully about the advantages that he is prepared to confer upon the old land. He .gets on the stump, and makes the most eloquent pronouncements on the subject. He says that he loves the old land, and is prepared to make immense sacrifices for her benefit. He tells the people what he is prepared to do in this direction, and girds at honorable members upon this side of the Chamber, whom he represents as being hostile to the fulfilment of his high aspirations. That, however, is not a correct view of the case. He knows full well that honorable members on this side would be willing to bring about the greatest possible freedom of trade with the old land. I would ask the Prime Minister whether he has ever made any proposals that would confer any advantage upon the old country? I challenge him to mention amy benefit that he ever offered to extend to the people of the United Kingdom regarding whom he speaks so beautifully, and whom he professes to love so much. What we desire is some direct proposal that will give to the old country some advantage in return for what we ask her to do upon our behalf. The proposals that the Prime Minister has made in connexion with reciprocal trade with the old country have been of the meanest possible character. Thev have been absolutely destitute of generosity. He seemed to indicate that the proposals which are to be submitted in connexion with reciprocal trade relations with New Zealand mav- lead to some increase of duties as against the outside world, although not against the mother country. Does the Prime Minister suppose that that will benefit Great Britain? He must know very well that it will not. If he wishes to place the mother country in a position of advantage, let him remove the duties now levied upon the goods sent to us by her. If he does not care to abolish altogether the duties levied upon British imports, he should propose some reduction. If he moves in that direction he will find me supporting him. because I desire to bring about greater freedom of trade between the Commonwealth and the old country. I would be prepared to reduce the duties to the lowest possible degree. In the past the Prime Minister has asked Great Britain to impose duties upon her food stuffs. He has asked her to raise her Tariff wall, and to make it harder and more difficult for the poorer classes to live. He has suggested that they should take out of their mouths some of the bread that they now have to eat, that they should take off their backs some of the clothing that they now have to wear, and that they should voluntarily submit to more miserable conditions than those which now obtain. He has done this out of what he calls love for the people of England. If he were to propose to give some advantage in return for all this, I should say that even though he might be mistaken in his methods, he was actuated by some feeling of generosity. But he has never stated that he would make any reduction of the duties imposed on the goods sent to us from the old land. I cannot help thinking that the declarations of the Prime Minister have been so much hypocritical pretence.
– Order. The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw the remark. I would say, however, that when any man stands on the platform, and says that he wants to help the old land, and then proposes that she should increase the duties upon her food stuffs without receiving any concession in return, he must know that what he is proposing is a mere sham. The Prime Minister beats the big drum, and talks very glibly about the advantages of protection. That policy has cursed Victoria, and Ave must do our best to prevent the Commonwealth being doomed to the same fate. I think that I have succeeded in exposing the absolute insincerity of the Prime Minister when he professes love for the old land, and at the same time makes the most mean proposals under the title of a generous sacrifice.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move-
That, in order to give effect to an agreement entered into between the Governments of the Colony of New Zealand and of the Commonwealth of Australia, with the object of promoting trade and intercourse between their respective countries as a means of closer union, in lieu of the duties of Customs imposed by the Customs Tariff 1902, there shall be imposed from the 30th day of August, 1906, at 4.30 p.m. Victorian time, duties of Customs in accordance with the Schedule attached hereto.
That any exemptions, as also all reductions of duty, in the said Schedule, though provisionally taking effect on and after the aforesaid date, shall not be actually allowed unless and until the said agreement is ratified and brought into operation pursuant to statute, but in the meantime the duties heretofore chargeable shall continue to be levied and paid subject to refund or adjustment when such statute is passed.
The schedule of duties which I have read sets out the concessions which the Commonwealth is making to New Zealand, and the schedule which was laid upon the table of the House by the Prime Minister, and which accompanies a copy of the agreement, shows the concessions which New Zealand is making to the Commonwealth.
– Does the third column in the schedule which the Minister has just read represent the increased rates of duty upon imports from countries other than New Zealand?
– That column sometimes represents increases of duty, but not always. In some cases there has been a lowering of the duty as against imports from New Zealand, and the old duty remains operative against the outside world, but in others there has been a lowering of the rates against New Zealand and an increase against the outside world.
– Do the rates in the third column of the schedule apply both to the Commonwealth and New Zealand?
– In nearly every instance they do.
– I must confess that it is a puzzle to me.
– How many alterations have been made in the Tariff as against outside countries?
– I think it would be very much better for honorable members to permit the resolution to be printed. They will then be able to see the position for themselves. I would direct special attention to the fact that, under the agreement, Australian sugar is to be admitted into New Zealand “free of duty. Then an alteration which has been made in the date after which Australian fruit was formerly excluded from that country, will operate greatly to our advantage. The old New Zealand Tariff practically prohibited the importation of Australian fruits, but we induced the late Prime Minister of that country to alter the date, so as to admit them at such seasons of the year as we shall be in a position to export them. The concession which New Zealand has made to the Commonwealth in regard to the admission of sugar is a very important one, as will be seen by reference to the paper which the Prime Minister has laid upon the table.
– I desire to know whether it is proposed that the reduced duties on New Zealand produce shall come into operation immediately, or whether they will require statutory authority for their collection ?
– They require statutory^ authority.
– In reply to the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, I would point out that duties which have been increased against countries other than New Zealand begin to operate immediately, but where reduced duties are imposed the difference between the old rates and the new will be credited to the importer. They cannot be dealt with finally. On.lv this morning a cable reached the Prime Minister asking that the collection of such duties might be held in abeyance until the Bill had become law.
– But the increased duties proposed will come into force at once?
– I would point out that in New Zealand a bounty is paid upon the export of fish. Similar State assistance may be extended to other commodities which are exported from that country. It will thus be seen that - unless consideration has already been given to the point - our fishermen, in addition to having to compete against free imports, will have to face the competition of bounty-fed exports from New Zealand.
– The point raised by the honorable and learned member was con- sidered, and the rate prescribed in the schedule relates only to fresh fish. The importation of fresh fish from New Zealand, apart from oysters, is practically nil.
.- I think that we have been placed in a very awkward position just on the eve of a general election. Honorable members may regard it as a joke, but the serious discussion of the formidable list of new duties proposed under this reciprocal agreement would mean that no general election could take place this year. The proposals of the Government do not represent protection at all, but total prohibition.
– When the honorable member sees them in print he will find that they are not embarrassing.
– The statement made by the Minister of Trade and Customs was something in the nature of a Chinese puzzle.
– The honorable gentleman has only stated the concessions we propose to make. The concessions which New Zealand proposes to make will be dealt with in the Legislature of that colony. If the honorable member turns to the agreement, however, he will see that both sides are stated.
– If the half which we have not heard is as clouded as that which has been put before us, heaven knows what will be the result. I can see that there is a lot of trouble ahead - that these proposals will cause party lines to be once more sharply defined. They mean not protection, but prohibition.
– The lowering of duties, in some cases.
– In a nutshell, they mean a re-opening of the Tariff. It is all very well for honorable members who can. travel all over their constituencies in twenty-four hours to say that they are prepared now to deal with these matters. They can remain here until within a few days of the general election, and continue, as some of them are now doing, to address public meetings. But in bringing these matters forward at this stage, are the Government giving a fair show to those who represent large and far distant electorates?
– They will not be affected.
– I accept the Prime Minister’s assurance, but I feel that I am placed in a very awkward position.
– At the moment, we seem to be in a state of inextricable confusion. I have no doubt that when we see the proposals, and the Minister’s statement in print, the position will be far clearer than it is at present. I would strongly suggest to the Minister that a single document should be prepared-
– - Honorable members will receive two documents - the agreement, which shows the concessions made on both sides, and also a copy of the resolution which shows our side of the bargain. When honorable members compare the two they will easily unravel the proposals.
– I particularly desire that the reciprocity proposals on each side should be embodied in the one document.
– They are embodied in the agreement, but not in the motion.
– I wish’ to know when the Government propose to proceed with the debate on these proposals ?
– As soon as honorable members have had time to familiarize themselves with the details.
– I made this inquiry for the reas’on that as mentioned by the honorable member for Maranoa, a number of honorable members representing distant electorates are already arranging to leave Melbourne.
– We are ready to proceed whenever the House is.
– I hope that the Prime Minister will give due notice of when he intends to proceed with these proposals so that honorable members may not leave Melbourne under a misapprehension.
– It is practically a new Tariff.
– The honorable member will find that the matters dealt with are chiefly of a minor character.
– I have always understood that the policy of the Government is “Australia for the Australians,” and that they have invariably advocated the adoption of the policy of pro tection as being advantageous to farmers and others. I find, however, that under the proposed agreement with New Zealand a considerable reduction is to be made in the grain duties.
– There are no imports of those products from New Zealand.
– New Zealand is the only competitor which the farmers of New South Wales ‘have to face. I should like the Minister to explain whether under this reciprocity arrangement the farmers of the Commonwealth are to receive a quid -pro quo.
– The honorable member will see what we propose when we reach the items relating to rural industries.
– I should like to know when the adjourned debate will be proceeded with. If we have an intimation on the subject honorable members will be able to come prepared to deal with the question.
– We shall be ready . to proceed with the debate on Tuesday. Let us say, however, that it will be taken on Wednesday, but that, if honorable members are not then prepared to proceed, the debate will be resumed on Thursday.
.. - I am not going to find fault with the proposed reductions . of duties, since I am a free-trader, and believe in promoting free-trade wherever possible. There are many farmers in my electorate ; but I am still prepared to support these reductions. It is- said that there are no imports of grain from New Zealand. As a matter of fact, at the only time when, under the Tariff, our farmers have an opportunity of making a little money - in a time of bad seasons - we have imports of grain from New Zealand.
– What are the products with which New Zealand floods our market ?
– Maize, oats, flour, and other things are imported at such times from New Zealand. I did not say, however, that New Zealand was flooding our markets with this produce. At the last general election T had to face farmers who had made a lot of money as the result of the protective duties against New Zealand grain imports. When there is a recurrence of bad seasons, our farmers will not have ari opportunity to obtain former prices, since under these proposals we shall probably have from New Zealand large imports of maize and other products. I am not going to sacrifice my principles, however, and I shall vote for these reductions. I believe that we are here to legislate for the whole of the people ; but last night we were asked to legislate in the interests of certain sections as against those of the community generally. The Prime Minister is always very generous when he has nothing to give away. He tells us first of all that the Government are proposing generous reductions of duties in favour of New Zealand, and then in an aside he says in effect, “ There is nothing in these proposals, since we do not import any of these products from New Zealand.”
– I do not know whether honorable members have agreed to entirely adopt these proposals.
– Certainly not.
– I am advised that if we agree to the motion now before the Chair, we shall practically adopt the whole scheme.
– As far as the schedule goes we shall do so.
– But it is not proposed to adopt the motion to-day.
– No; although I should not oppose its adoption to-day.
– I only wish to put the position plainly before honorable members. I am advised that if the motion were carried we should noli, be able to make one alteration in the agreement.
– No; not till we came to the Bill. The Opposition are aware of that fact.
– I am expecting the Prime Minister to keep the agreement which he made when, on rising, he said he would only lay these proposals on the table.
– Exactly ; but I cannot prevent discussion.
– As there seems to be a misapprehension as to the course to he pursued, I would explain that if the Minister does not intend to proceed further to-day with the motion, he should move that progress be reported.
-That course will be adopted as soon as honorable members have concluded their inquiries.
– In view of the good feeling which prevails, I should not have been surprised if the motion had been carried this afternoon.
– I understood the Prime Minister to say that the agreement and these resolutions would be laid on the table as one document-
– We are not asking that any further step be taken to-day.
– If the motion had been passed this afternoon the Prime Minister would not have objected.
– I should not.
– The Government nearly caught the deputy-leader of the Opposition napping.
– Does the honorable member think that I am caught napping when I rely on the definite statement made by Ministers that the debate would not be proceeded with today. My honorable friend must be napping when he gives expression to such an idea.
The Clerk laid upon the table the following paper: -
Return to an order of the House, dated 22nd August, relating to the Pacific Islanders engaged in the sugar industry.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That in lieu of the duties of Customs imposed by the Customs Tariff 1902 on the items shown in the attached schedule, duties of Customs shall from the 30th day of August, 1906, at 4.30 p.m., Victorian time, be imposed as follows : -
– My hearty congratulations are extended to the Minister of Trade and Customs, to the Prime Minister, and to the rest of the Government, for being able to absolutely put from their minds the policy declared by the Prime Minister at Ballarat prior to the last election, when the first article of their programme was fiscal peace.
– And preferential trade.
– Preferential trade whichwould be consistent with fiscal peace.
– Then the honorable and learned gentleman attempted to play a trick on Australia by telling the people that there was to be fiscal peace during the lifetime of this Parliament, while he had it in his mind to raise the fiscal question, and to increase duties at every opportunity. The proposal now before us is one for building still higher the Tariff wall round Australia.
– Hear, hear.
– This is not following the policy of fiscal peace. Such a proposal is, in its nature, warlike.
– I do not desire fiscal peace, and never did.
– No doubt. My complaint is that the honorable member tried to play a trick on the people of Australia by mouthing fiscal peace at the last election.
– He said at Cootamundra that he was in favour of fiscal peace.
– We heard from the honorable member for Ballarat that there was to be fiscal peace until we could get our bearings, and the trading community had accommodated itself to the present Tariff. But ever since, efforts have been made to elaborate further proposals for keeping out the goods of both the old country and other countries.
– Not of the old country.
– The people of Great Britain will not thank us for this offer of so-called preference. No response will be made by them to the proposals of the Government. We shall see in the sequel who is the better prophet, the Prime Minister or myself. I congratulate the Government on the easy, though scandalous, way in which they are able to treat their solemn election pledges, tearing up the treaties which they made with the people on the eve of the last election.
– So far from the honorable member’s statement that we have departed in any way from the programme laid before the people at Ballarat in 1903 being correct, I could quote statement after statement from the speeches of the absent leader of the Opposition, made in this Chamber and on the platform, to the effect that fiscal peace was our proposal, except in regard to preferential trade, about which he recognised that we had an entirely free hand to make any propositions we pleased.
– Did not the honorable and learned member say, in connexion with the preferential trade proposals, that they were to await proposals from the mother country ?
– The honorable member can find that statement among my speeches in this sense : Preferential trade in the full meaning of the term implies reciprocal concessions on each side, concessions from, as well as to, the mother country. At Ballarat in 1903, and continually since, I have consistently said that I am in favour of a modicum of preferential trade by way of concession on our part, as an earnest of our willingness to enter into a greater treaty. Since 1903, I have never parted in the least degree with the right to make any proposals whatever in regard to preferential trade.
– I move -
That the Bill be now recommitted to a Committee of thewhole House for the reconsideration of clause 3, paragraph (b), page 2, and paragraph (b), page 3, clause 11 and clause 15, paragraph (A).
I have reconsidered the amendments that were made in the Bill when it was last before us, and, after consultation with the Comptroller-General, I have framed the following proviso, which I propose to add to clause11: -
Provided that this section shall not come into operation until the 1st day of January, 1908.
This will achieve the object . sought to be attained by the amendments which were inserted in the Bill in line 40, page 2, and in line 20, page 3, and which I now propose to strike out. The date mentioned in the proposed proviso was agreed to upon the previous occasion.
– I have no objection to that.
– Another matter was brought under my notice by the honorable member for Lang. Clause 15 provides that no person shall sell or have in his possession illicit methylated spirits or any articles containing methylated spirits. The honorable member for Lang desired to insert the word “ knowingly,” so that it would be necessary to prove that a person knowingly had spirits in his possession. I was quite willing to meet the desire of the honorable member, but I recognised the difficulty of proving that a person had acted knowingly. I have prepared the following provision, which I propose to add to the clause: -
It shall be a defence to a prosecution under this section if the defendant proves that he did not knowingly sell or have in his possession the goods forming the subject of the prosecution.
Mr. WaTSON (Bland) [5.37].- Unfortunately, I was not able to be present last Tuesday, and consequently I missed the opportunity to bring under the notice of the Minister of Trade and Customs the fact that in the Bill conditions are imposed in respect to locally-distilled spirits which are not enforced in regard to spirits’ imported from abroad. I think that that is wholly unintentional. I mentioned the matter to one Minister last week ; but, on glancing, through the Bill, I find that no adequate provision is made in the direction I desire. In regard to locally-distilled spirits we propose to insist that they shall be described as brandy only if they are made wholly of grape spirit. I think that that is a very proper condition to impose. With respect to imported spirits, however, no guarantee of a similar character is to be insisted upon. We shall know, with regard to locally-distilled spirits, exactly what they are composed of, because they will be made under the supervision of Excise officers, and there will be no difficulty in proving, to the fullest degree, their origin. In regard to imported spirits, the only provision in the Bill of any real value is contained in clause 10, which insists- that, after a certain date, no spirits shall be imported unless they have been matured in wood for a certain period. I think that we should insist upon the proof of origin in regard to imported spirits. Such proof could easily be obtained. I am informed that the British Board of Inland Revenue secures the placing upon every cask of locallymade spirits marks which indicate the distillery in which they are made, and the origin of the contents. Therefore, it would be verv easy to secure a certificate from the authorities in Great Britain in respect to malt whisky intended for export to the Commonwealth. The particulars are ready to the hands of the inland revenue officials, and it would merely be a matter of obtaining from them a certificate as to the origin of the goods. Then as to brandy, most of the good brandy that is imported into the Commonwealth comes from France, and I understand that a certificate is issued bv the French Government to exporters of brandy, giving particulars of the distillation, and thereby guaranteeing the origin of the spirits. Therefore, there should be no difficulty in securing certificates such as I have indicated in regard to French brandy. Paragraph b of clause 9 does not meet the case. It merely provides that no person shall describe as brandy any spirit not distilled wholly from grape wine. That will not adequately protect us, because I am informed that it is almost impossible to accurately distinguish wine brandy from synthetically adulterated spirits - that is, spirits which! may not have been distilled from, the grape, but may have been synthetically treated with a view to build up a. spirit resembling brandy. That being so. it would be beyond -the power of the Customs authorities to prove a case against persons fraudulently describing as brandy some spirit which had been produced from materials other than grape wine. The only way in which we can overcome the difficulty is by providing that after a certain date all imported spirits shall be accompanied by a certificate as to their origin. I would prefer to leave it to the Customs authorities to deal with the matter bv regulation; but we should certainly make some provision for insuring that imported spirits are up to the mark. We should at least insist upon the same standard in respect to imported spirits as we require to be maintained by local distillers.
– Would not that practically prohibit importations?
– Not at all. All British whiskies are produced under the control and supervision of the officers of the Board of Inland Revenue. They have all the particulars in respect of every gallon of whisky which is produced in the United Kingdom. All that they are required to do is to embody them in a certificate at the request of the exporter. There is no trouble experienced upon that score. In France it has been possible, for some time past, to obtain a certificate in respect of brandies under like conditions. In view of these facts, I do not think there need be any difficulty experienced in carrying out what I have suggested. It is a remarkable fact that in London, for years past, there has been sold as brandy spirit which has evidently not been produced from grapes. It has been sold for as low a price as 7d- per gallon, after all charges have been paid. It is manifest that it cannot be grape spirit, and yet in the auctioneers’ circulars it is guaranteed to contain a certain percentage of brandy ethers. Of course, these have been added after the spirit has been distilled, and it is known in the trade that these so-called brandies almost defy detection, so far as analysis is concerned. It seems to me that we shall only be doing justice to our local distillers if we insist upon a certificate being produced in connexion with imported spirits. I would suggest to the Minister that, in order to permit of this being done, he should agree to the recommittal of clause io. That provision deals with the condi- tions under which imported spirits may be delivered from the Customs, and I think it should prescribe - in addition to the maturity condition - that a certificate shall be produced as to their origin. If the clause were recommitted, it would be possible to insert an amendment which would allow the Minister lo prescribe by regulation the conditions under which imported spirits shall be freed from Customs control.
– I think that the suggestion of the honorable member for Bland is a very valuable one, and one which is worthy of every consideration by the Minister. Australian distillers certainly did contend, when they were giving evidence before the Tariff Commission, that they should not be subjected to any disability to which foreign exporters were not liable. Of course, there is a difficulty in identifying vast quantities of spirits either in bottle or bulk, although the evidence taken by the Commission proves that those difficulties are not insuperable. Under the Distillation Act - and I presume that the same law is operative both in Great Britain and France - a record is kept of the history of every cask of spirits which goes into bond. Every -cask bears a bond number which corresponds with an’ entry in a book in which is recorded full particulars of the origin of such spirits, of the date of their distillation, and of the materials which have been employed in their production. If importers of spirits were placed upon the same footing as our local distillers, it would be in the interests of the consumer. The latter are obliged to produce their spirits under the supervision of a Customs officer, whereas the imported article is necessarily manufactured under conditions which are beyond Commonwealth supervision. At the same time, I think that no difficulty need be experienced in giving effect to the suggestion of the honorable member for Bland, which I heartily support.
– The responsibility in this connexion is mine, as, in the absence of the Minister of Trade and Customs, the honorable member for Bland placed in my hand the proof, as it appeared to me, of all the statements which he has made to-day. Amongst other things he handed to me the copy of a French trade journal, which is published in the interests of vignerons, and which describes the system under which what ‘ are known as “ white “ certificates are issued - that is, certificates indicating the age and quality of the brandies and other spirits as well as the materials which have been used in their production - which are exported from France. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo has pointed out that it is comparatively easy to trace the origin of British spirit, and it appears - according to the statements of the journal in question, which is an authoritative publication - that it would be equally easy to trace the origin of French spirit. The honorable member for Bland also placed in my hand a catalogue issued by a London firm, which discloses a marvellous discrepancy between the prices which are paid for various brandies. Obviously, some of these articles are not brandies at all. They realized only 9d. or is. per gallon, whereas other brandies of high quality and age have commanded as much as 11s. per gallon, and in one instance us. 3d. per gallon. This discrepancy evidences a marvellous difference between the “ quality of these spirits. I placed the documents to which I have alluded in the hands of the Customs officers, but owing to the great pressure under which they have worked during the past few days, I have not been able to prepare, with their assistance, the requisite amendment. Mv colleague, the Minister of Trade and Customs, has asked me to write to the British Government requesting them to assist us - by means of their certificates - to trace the origin of spirits of British manufacture, and to identify them. It will be requisite for us to make provision in this Bill for dealing with spirits of French origin, and with spirits imported from other countries in which certificates are issued. I would prefer not to insert an amendment at this stage, but I undertake that provision of the character suggested will be made in this clause, or else that a new clause will be introduced to effect that object, when the Bill is before the Senate. The measure must come before this House for consideration again, so that I think my suggestion will meet with the approval of the honorable member for Bland. The interval will enable us to draft a provision which will cover the whole of the ground traversed by him
Question resolved’ in the affirmative.
In Committee (Recommittal) :
Clause 3 (Interpretation). “Australian blended wine brandy” means brandy which complies with the following requisites : -
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the words “ Unless . . . 1908,” paragraphsb, be left out.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Spirits distilled in Australia shall not be delivered from the control of the Customs for human consumption unless they have been matured by storage in wood for a period of not less than two years.
Provided that this section shall not apply to spirits which were subject to the control of the Customs on the 17th day of August, One thousand nine hundred and six, and which are entered for home consumption before the1st day of March, One thousand nine hundred and seven.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That all the words after the word “not,” line 6, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “come into operation till the 1st day of January,1908.”
.- I regard the amendment as a fair one, although it will postpone the enforcement of the provisions relating to the maturity of spirit. It appears that there is a large quantity of brandy in South Australia, of whisky in Victoria, and of rum in Queensland,which is not able to comply with the maturity condition, and if the law were brought into operation immediately, this spirit would either be rendered valueless, or would have to be exported at a sacrifice. Consequently, it seems to be only fair that we should postpone the enforcement of the maturity, condition for the period mentioned by the Minister.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended agreed to.
Clause 15 -
A person shall not -
sell or have in his possession any illicit methylated spirits; or
after the first day of January, 1907, sell or have in his . possession any article of food or drink, or anyscent, essence, tincture, or medicine, containing any methylated spirits.
Penalty.: One hundred pounds.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That after the word “spirits,” line 8, the following words be inserted : - “ It shall be a defence to a prosecution under this section if the defendant proves that he did not knowingly sell or have in his possession the goods forming the subject of the prosecution.”
– Various persons have been prosecuted for selling spirits below the required standard, but they have never been allowed to plead that they were not aware that the spirits were inferior.
– This clause relates only to methylated spirits.
– Some time ago an honest publican at Mount Gambier was prosecuted for having in his possession spirits below the required standard, and, although he was able to demonstrate that they were sold as obtained from the warehouse, and that he did not know they were not of the standard quality, he was fined. I fail to see why the amendment should be inserted. It would be a very easy matter for a defendant to say that he was not aware that he was committing an offence. Itis the duty of the retailer, when making purchases, to satisfy himself that that which he buys is what it purports to be. If the clause be amended as proposed, we shall give very little protection to the consumer. It seems to me that the amendment is a violation of a well-known principle of law, and I hope that it will be rejected.
.- The honorable member for Hindmarsh has voiced the objection I had intended to urge against this amendment. It appears to be a very dangerous modification of a principle which we wish to insist upon in connexion with legislation of this kind. There is no doubt that under cover of such a proviso a retailer would be able to sell with impunity the goods mentioned in the clause.
– And when detected he might not be subjected to a penalty.
– That is so. Under such an amendment there is not the least doubt that a retailer would take great care not to know the contents of goods which might be considered objectionable. The trend of legislation of this character is in the direction of compelling the retailer to safeguard himself when he purchases goods. It is only in this way that the consumer can be adequately protected. I think that the amendment is totally inconsistent with the Bill, and I shaH be prepared to vote against it.
.- Probably out of the goodness of his heart the Minister of Trade and Customs has yielded to the suggestion made by the honorable member for Lang, when the Bill was last under consideration, that an amendment of this kind should be made. I must admit that it is usual in British, as well as in Australian, legislation to make the bare fact of possession of goods which have unlawfully passed out of the control of the Customs an offence. That has hitherto been the practice. It is unnecessary to prove in prosecutions of this kind mens rea - a guilty, mind. The very fact of possession is regarded as an offence.
– Paragraph b covers articles of food.
– One would think that anything containing methylated spirits would be poisonous.
– That is the important point. The consumer should be protected.
– But under the clause as it stands even an intending consumer would not be allowed to have these goods in his possession. My suggestionis that we should so amend the clause that it would read, “ No person shall, without lawful excuse, sell, or have in his possession,” the goods named. That might meet the view expressed by the honorable member for Lang.
– I thought that it would be better to throw upon the defendant the responsibility of proving his innocence. The honorable member for Lang’s proposal was that the Department should prove that the defendant had knowingly sold, or had in his possession, the goods named.
– That is very often a difficult matter to prove.
– Yes. but the amendment I propose would throw upon the person charged the onus of proving that he was not knowingly in possession of prohibited goods.
– If the amendment is framed in that way. it is hardly worth while pressing the objection.
– When in Bundaberg last year I was told privately by a business man in the town that he was selling to kanakas what purported to be a temperance drink, although it contained a higher percentage of alcohol than- was found in beer. When he was prosecuted he pleaded that he was not knowingly selling a beverage containing such a percentage of alcohol, and the result was that the prosecution failed. I do not think that such an amendment as this should be inserted.
– I promised the honorable member for Lang that I would reconsider this clause. The honorable member proposed to move that the word “ knowingly “ be inserted in the first line, but I felt that it would be very difficult for the Department to prove guilty knowledge, and my desire was that an amendment should be framed throwing upon the defendant the onus of proof. The clause is a fairly drastic one. It would be a very harsh proceeding if a lady, who innocently purchased a tincture or a scent essence containing illicit methylated spirits, were liable to be prosecuted, and fined, unless she could prove that she was not aware of its contents.
– It would be very easy for a defendant to prove that he had no guilty knowledge. In the majority of these cases a man buys the goods not for what thev contain, but for what they can be sold for.
– I am as anxious as is any honorable member that the clause should be a stringent one, but I do not wish innocent persons to be prosecuted without having a reasonable chance of proving their innocence. Supposing a lady bought scent essence containing methylated spirit,, she might be prosecuted for it.
– The honorable gentleman knows that in such a case action would not be taken by the authorities. He cannot point to a prosecution in such circumstances.
– It would not be pleasant for a lady to know that, in buying a bottle of scent essence, she ran the risk of being prosecuted for having in her possession an article containing methylated spirits. If it is thought that the amendment suggested by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo would meet the position, I shall accept it.
– I am not pressing my proposal. I think, upon consideration, that the amendment proposed by the Minister will be sufficient.
– I think that my amendment will meet the case. I desire to shield innocent, persons from injustice without weakening the law.
– It is apparent that the amendment has been moved out of the largeness of the Minister’s heart, and that he would be the last to seek to do injury to any lady who might innocently have purchased scent or anything else containing illicit methylated spirit. But although my experience of life is neither so large nor varied as his, I have not known of a vindictive prosecution such as he fears. In my opinion, if the clause is weakened, would-be offenders would be able to transgress the law with the greatest ease. I presume that the clause as it stands was drafted in accordance with the best expert advice, and the mere suggestion th’at injustice may be done in the manner proposed is hardly sufficient justification for an amendment which may have a farreaching effect. Responsibility in connexion with the matter must rest with the Minister, anr! we are assured by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo that, if there must be an, amendment, that proposed is very well worded.
– I suggest that the amendment should apply only to paragraph b, leaving paragraph a standing as it is. That, I think, would meet the case. I agree with the Minister that we should make a way of escape for innocent persons who may unwittingly come into possession of articles containing illicit methylated spirit.
– Such persons would not be prosecuted.
– A prosecution might follow the action of an officious pei son in authority.
– Or might be due to some vindictive person.
– I know a man who was fined the other day because he was selling cotton-seed oil for olive oil. He is as honest as is any honorable member, and thought that he was selling olive oil1.
– If he is in business he must have had a suspicion in regard to what he was selling.
– I do not think that he had. I admit that it would be a serious matter to try to shield persons engaged in business from the results of their ignorance, and it is especially necessary to protect the public health in regard to the sale of oils and other commodities which may be used internally. I think, however, that persons innocently becoming possessed of scents, or any of the other preparations mentioned in paragraph b, should be protected, and that an amendment confined to that paragraph would meet the case.
.- I desire some information about the clause. It has been pointed out to me by one or two manufacturers that, under the Victorian law, they used to obtain spirit for the manufacture of tinctures, essences, scents, and other similar articles free of duty, and that until recently the same privilege was enjoyed under the Commonwealth! law. It would appear, however, that it is now to be taken from them, and they, point out that if that is done their businesses will be ruined. Last night we were dealing with the Bounties Bill, which offers inducements to persons to engage in the production and preparation of essential floral oils for the making of scents and perfumes ; but it would be absurd to grant a bounty for that enterprise if we took from those engaged in this business the right to use spirit free of duty. I understand that the privilege to which I refer has been somewhat abused ; but I should like to know from the Minister if he has anything to propose which will protect my informants from loss, or whether the Tariff Commission, which lias had the ‘whole scheme of commerce and business within its purview, will bring forward some new proposition to meet the case.
– Under a Customs regulation, those to whom the honorable member refers were permitted to methylate the spirit thev used in their own way.
– There is nothing in the Bill to interfere with them.
– Their fears may be groundless; but I ask for am assurance from either the Minister or the Chairman of the Tariff Commission that their business will not be injured.
.- I do not think much harm would be done if paragraph b were omitted. Chemists and druggists, and others who deal in tinc- tures and essences, use large quantities of methylated spirit. Methylated spirit is greatly used in liniments, and also in veterinary medicines for internal use. I possess a bottle of tincture of opium containingmethylated spirits.
– The honorable member does not suggest that he would be liable to’ prosecution.
– Under paragraph b, the possession of tinctures containing methylated spirits is an offence. A chemist or veterinary surgeon would not have these preparations in his possession except with a view to disposing of them. Methylated spirits are also used in the manufacture of perfumes and essences; but, of course, the methylation for that purpose could be done under special regulation. It seems to me that paragrapha would do all that is desired, and that paragraph b, if enforced in every case, would inflict a great injustice upon persons honestly in possession of tinctures, essences, and other preparations containing methylated spirit.
.- In their report on industrial alcohol, the Tariff Commission unanimously recommends that methylated spirit shall not be used for or in connexion with any food, drink, scent, essence, tincture, or medicine, and spirit methylated in conformity with its suggestions could not be so used, because, in the process of methylation, the spirit is mixed with a certain percentage of wood-naphtha and a certain percentage of pyridine, most obnoxious compounds, which render it so nauseous that it would destroy any food or scent with which it was mixed.
– Surely methylated spirit can be used in connexion with preparations for external application.
– It is expressly provided that the Bill shall not apply to liniments and veterinary medicines. Under the Victorian law, certain manufacturers were permitted to use spirit in bond, under Excise supervision, free of duty. That was an enormous concession to the scentmaking industry.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.30 p.m.
– Unmethylated, or pure spirits, intended to be used for manufacturing purposes should not be freed from duty, because of the abuses likely to creep in, and the opportunities that would be presented for defrauding the revenue. I may inform the honorable member for Bourke that the ques tion of the manufacture of scents and essences will form the subject of a special report, which has been drafted, and partly approved of, and which will, no doubt, be presented at an early date. The honorable member will then find that the industry to which he has drawn attention will not be permitted to suffer. Whilst not altogether agreeing with the proposed amendment, I think that when the Minister, acting upon the recommendation of his officers, proposes to modify a machinery clause, it is not for us to place any obstacles in the way. Therefore, I will urge honorable members to allow the amendment to pass without further challenge.
– I am quite satisfied that the Minister was actuated by the very best intentions in proposing his amendment. But it seems to me that neither he, nor the honorable member for Lang, realizes that the clause is not intended to apply to consumers, but entirely to vendors. I do not think that the Minister would be doing anything wrong if he allowed the clause to stand as it is.
– I propose to alter the amendment slightly by making it apply merely to paragraph b. I did not make any definite promise to the honorable member for Lang, but stated that I would consult the officers of the Department, and ascertain whether any serious consequences would ensue if an amendment in the direction he indicated were adopted. The Comptroller-General, does not think that any injury can, be done by adopting an amendment in the form proposed. If it be shown later on that the door would be open to fraud, I shall make a further alteration in the Bill. In the meantime, I wish to carry out my undertaking to the honorable member for Lang. I do not think that the honorable member for Bourke need fear that the persons on whose behalf he has spoken this afternoon will be placed at any disadvantage. Ample power is given to prescribe regulations which will meet such a case as he has mentioned. I desire to amend my amendment to make it read as follows : -
It shall be a defence to a prosecution under paragraph b if the defendant proves that he did not knowingly sell or have in his possession the goods forming the subject of. the prosecution.
Amendment amended accordingly.
– I should like the Minister to give his attention to the question of facilitating the use of denatured spirit for lighting purposes, and for producing power. This spirit is made absolutely unfit for human consumption, and should be free of duty.
Amendment agreed to.
Bill reported with further amendments, and passed through its remaining stages.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– - I desire once more to express my strong objection to this measure. As I stated before, it is not intended to encourage the establishment of new industries. Something might be said in support of bounties intended to encourage the cultivation of new products that would confer benefit upon the whole community. But nothing can be said in defence of a proposal to take money out of the pockets of the people and give it to those who are engaged in industries which are already established on a profitable basis. Most of the industries mentioned in the schedule are already in existence in the Commonwealth. Queens land is producing cotton equal to the best in the world. Dr. Thomatis, who has done so much to improve the productive power of the cotton plant, recently obtained for a parcel of his product 15d. per lb., or twice the amount realized for the average American or Egyptian product. Why, under these circumstances, should we call upon the general taxpayer to provide for the payment of bounties to those engaged in cotton cultivation. The fact that the article brings such a high price should, in itself, prove a sufficient inducement to persons to engage in the industry. We have the Treasurer’s assurance that the whole of the revenue available for expenditureby the Commonwealth will soon be required to meet our obligations. Yet we are deliberately expending public money for the purpose of benefiting those who may choose to engage in certain profitable industries. This Parliament appears to be absolutely reckless in its expenditure. Probably the reason for its prodigality is to be found in the fact that a general election is approaching. As I have already remarked, the price of cotton which has been produced here in itself constitutes a suffi cient inducement to persons to engage in the industry. The same remark is applicable to olive oil, in the manufacture of which large profits can be made. At the present time there is a duty of1s. 4d. per gallon levied upon that article. If that is not sufficient to encourage its production I do not know what is. I claim that, under this Bill, “we are increasing the burdens of the general taxpayer for the purpose of making a free gift to wealthy individuals likeSir Samuel Davenport. To my mind, it is high time that we exhibited a little sympathy with the poorer classes of the community, upon whom Customs duties fall more heavily than they do upon any other section. A hundredweight of olives,I am informed, will cost 5s., and will produce two gallons of olive oil, which can be sold for 1 6s. Surely that represents a substantial margin of profit. Nobody will seriously suggest that the cost of manufacture is anything like 5s. 6d. per gallon. Even assuming that it were 2s. 6d. per gallon, there would still remain a profit of 6s. to the manufacturer. What has become of the common sense of honorable members, I cannot understand. I have no hesitation in saying that it is a complete farce to enact legislation of this character. It is not merelyuseless, but is unfair to the people who have to provide the necessary funds. There is not a single honorable member in this House who would invest a penny of his own money in the industries enumerated in the schedule of the Bill, and I claim that it is our duty to still more carefully husband the money of the taxpayers. What return will the community derive from the proposed expenditure? It will not result in the establishment of a single new industry. In the case of olive oil the bounty will be in the nature of a free gift to those individuals who are already engaged in the industry. I am surprised at the attitude which has been adopted throughout the consideration of this measure by the Labour Party.They havesimply played into the hands of the wealthy. So far as China oil is concerned, I understand that peanuts, which are the base of that product, form a very good food for cows. They have the effect of increasing the quantity of milk supplied, and of making it richer. We have further been assured that a return of£9 per acre can be obtained from their cultivation, whilst the oil which is expressed from them will yield a return of £20 odd peracre. There are very few of our primary industries which will do that. During the course of the debate upon this Bill repeated reference has been made to the rubber industry. Anybody who turns to Hansard will find that, in discussing the proposed bounty upon the production of rubber, I made two contradictory statements. One of those statements was based upon information supplied by the Minister, and the other upon information furnished by the honorable member for Bland. The latter told us that the rubber tree had to be ten years old before it became reproductive. He stated that at the end of the first year of production the rubber which could be obtained from it was worth 12s. 6d., but that at the end of five years, when the tree reached its maximum productivity, the rubber which it yielded was worth £1. In other words, a plantation of rubber trees would finally return about £30 per acre. If that statement be correct, there is no need for us to offer a special inducement to persons to embark upon the industry. The Minister, 011 the other hand, has declared in the printed document which is before honorable members, that at the end of ten years the cultivator of a plantation of rubber trees would be able to obtain from each tree 1 lb. of rubber, the value of which would range from 3s. 6d. to 6s. 6d. If that statement be true the whole aspect of the case is completely altered. Butmy chief objection to industries of this character is that they must be carried on by means of cheap labour. We have no right to establish in this country, by means of State assistance, industries which cannot, live without cheap labour. Take the cotton and coffee industries as an illustration. Neither of those industries can afford topay white men’s wages for picking. That work must be done either by women or children, and I have no wish to foster in this country industries which willemploy only that class of labour. Unless the particular kind of cotton which Dr. Thomatis is introducing into Queensland is generally used, and continues to command a higher price than does ordinary cotton, how is itpossible for us to employ white labour in the industry, and to compete in the markets of the world with the product of cheap ‘ labour countries such as Egypt and India? I am afraid, Mr. Speaker, that if I continue further I shall weary honorable members.
SirJohn Forrest. - Hear, hear.
– I would remind the right honorable member thatI am here to do my duty to the people, and am seeking to soputthe facts before honorable members that they may yet be induced to reject the Bill. Honorable members opposite, however, appear to have no independence. They are prepared to agree to whatever the Government propose. Even at the risk of being charged with a desire to obstruct business, 1 am determined to voice my opinion upon the Bill, and to fight to the last against it. Honorable members opposite appear to be ready to “open their mouths and shut their eyes,” and, regardless of any consideration for. the interest of the people, to take whatever is given them by the Government.
.- The honorable member for New England has addressed the House in a judicial manner., and in neatly-turned sentences. When he expressed the fear that he might be wean - ing you, Mr. Speaker, he showed himself to be possessed of unusual modesty. I am sure that you are never weary of listening to the speech of an honorable member in defence of principles in which he believes. Last night in Committee we had a long and dreary debate on this Bill, and I have no desire to repeat any of the arguments then raised in opposition to it. I wish, however, to emphasize the point that the 6 position have rendered every assistance to the Government in expediting public business. They might have opposed this Bill on the report stage, but did not do so. As an earnest minority fighting againstthe overwhelming numbers of a well-discipline d force who believe that the imposition of bounties will tend to the welfare of the industrial classes, we desire, on the motion for the third reading of this Bill, to place on record the grounds on which we are opposed to it. My objection to the Bill is, in the first place, that under it a sum of £500,000 is to be taken from an almost depleted Treasury. The Treasurer has promised that we shall have penny postage throughout the Commonwealth, and that will involve an annual loss of something like £200,000. In these circumstances, therefore, future Treasurers will have to face a loss of £200,000 per annum in respect of one item of revenue, and also to provide the large sum payable under this Bill. The Ministry will secure the approval of a certain section of the community for having passed thismeasure while future Treasurers will have to overcome the difficulty of financing it. Those who from time to time air the grievances of the necessitous States have protested, against the inroads which the .Commonwealth expenditure is making upon their finances, and only a night or two ago the Premier of Queensland said that Commonwealth expenditure had so affected the finances of that State that he was afraid the union would fall to pieces. All the articles enumerated in the schedule to the Bill have hitherto been revenue-producing. They have been subject to Customs taxation for revenue purposes, and have returned something like £i, 000,000 per annum. As one who is well versed in national finance, you, Mr. Speaker, will be able to appreciate the position of future Treasurers who, with a reduced revenue and the expenditure proposed under this and other Bills, will have to make ends meet. We have practically exhausted our means of raising revenue by indirect taxation, and it seems that, for the sake of a Government fetish, we shall be confronted with proposals for direct taxation. The honorable member for New England has this evening poured olive oil on the troubled fiscal waters of the. Commonwealth. “He points out that the olive oil industry has not asked for assistance, and that, under this Bill, we propose to assist it and other industries that are already established, and have made no demand for bounties. When these bounties cease we shall be asked to grant an extension of the system, or else to impose Customs duties for the protection of these industries. The cry will be that we must continue the system or impose protective duties, since vested interests have been created under the Bill, and the cessation of the system would affect a number of workers. Under this Bill we shall commit Australia to the bounty system. Surely the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, in view of his experience, as Chairman of the Tariff Commission, should be competent to express an opinion on this question. Although he is a protectionist, he did not strongly advocate the granting of the bounties proposed iri the Bill ; but he certainly did say that not one witness examined by the Commission had asked for the imposition of a bounty to assist the olive oil industry. In these circumstances, it is not surprising that the honorable member, for New -England and other freetraders should so strongly resist ‘he passing of the Bill. The members of the Tariff Commission have been grossly insulted by the Government. The Commission was appointed to inquire into the position of various industries, and the Government should have sought from its. members information in respect to the various proposals contained in this Bill. The Chairman of the Commission pleaded last night that the bounty proposed to be paid on the production of olive oil should be applied not to the product of existing groves, but to that of new plantations. Thousands of pounds have been expended to enable the Tariff Commission to obtain information for our guidance, and the action of the Government in respect to this and cognate questions is an insult to the members of that body. Their work has been set at naught; and if I were a member of the Tariff Commission, I should, in view of the introduction of this measure, and of cognate legislation flaunting recommendations arrived at after eighteen months’ consideration, resign my, commission. One of the bounty proposals to which I take special exception is that offered for the production of rubber. I understood that the Government intend to establish the rubber industry in New Guinea, and with that object recently made arrangements for the planting of 100,000 Para rubber trees there. Senator Staniforth Smith, in his admirable report on Java and the Straits Settlements, points out that the rubber industry pays the enormous profit of 300 per cent, on the capital invested in it. The supply of rubber amounts to about 61,000 tons a year, while the demand is still greater, so that the price is high, being now 4s. per lb., and likely to increase. The industry is not one which affords employment for much skilled manual labour, being generally carried out by black labour. Yet we are asked to vote a bounty for its encouragement in Australia. The minority against the Government on this occasion is not a very large one, . and, having used all the forms of the House to prevent the passing of the measure, we cannot now do more than protest at what is being proposed. The journal which’ supports the Government speaks of the proposed bounties as an intended assistance to farmers. It makes that claim for them in its head-lines today. Such a claim is a piece of hypocrisy. What farmers are there in Australia who can take advantage of bounties for the production of cocoa, coffee, chicory, cotton, fibres, .fish) oils, rice, rubber, or kapok?
The bounty for the production of powdered and condensed milk may indirectly benefit the farmers to a slight degree, but none of the other bounties will be of the slightest assistance to them. The action of the Government in regard to chicory shows howslovenly the preparation of the measure was. It was originally proposed to set aside ^2,500 a year for eight years for the encouragement of the production of coffee and chicory. But last night the Minister moved to strike out chicory, because he had discovered that his first information was entirely wrong, and that a large quantity of chicory is now being produced in Australia. Indeed, one farmer in the honorable gentleman^ birthplace - Tasmania - has found chicory, instead of a profitable crop, a source of expense, because he has had great trouble in eradicating it. The proposals of the Ministry are experimental, and the experiments could have been carried out much more satisfactorily under experts connected with the Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau. In my opinion, these proposals may be regarded as the thin end of the wedge of Socialism. Those who are prepared to place in the hands of the Government the right to interfere with private enterprise in regard to the matters dealt with in the Bill will have logically no reason for objecting; to proposals for still greater interference. In the ‘past I have opposed the granting of bounties for the production of iron, but, although as a matter of principle such bounties cannot be justified, they are, on the ground of expediency, much more justifiable than are the proposed bounties. The proposal to .grant bounties for the production of iron was, however, very badly received by the House. During the existence of the present Parliament I shall adhere closely to the principles which I advocated on the platform at the last election, but at the coming election I shall take my constituents into my absolute confidence, and ask them to give me discretion to do the best I can for them here.
– To get all the “ boodle “ the honorable member can for them ?
– Exactly. Let it be unmistakably known that we are engaged in a “boodle” hunt - a hunt for. plunder and loot. If that is to take place, I think that my electorate should have its share.
– The honorable member is coming round, well.
– It is a very bad thing that public men should have to admit that they are merely loot hunters. It does not redound to the credit of this Parliament that a representative should have to adopt that attitude in defence of his constituents. But, although I may look innocent, I am not so foolish as to be ignorant’ of my duty to my constituents in this matter. My electorate is very much concerned in the ship-building industry, and if we are to give bounties for the encouragement of one industry and another, I do not see why it should not get some advantage. A bounty for ship-building would not benefit merely my electorate. It would benefit many others, including your own, Mr. Speaker, if the people there took advantage of it. Ship-building is not an. industry depending for its success upon climate, as are most of the other industries which it is sought to encourage. The Bill practically makes a bid for the support of the people of Northern Queensland, and I can understand that the honorable member for Maranoa, the squatter of the far north, will be glad to take it back with him. But if national undertakings, are to be encouraged, shipbuilding, which affords employment for thousands, is of much more importance than any of the industries mentioned in the Bill. I regret to have to oppose the third reading, but I feel bound to do so, for the reasons which I have given. In the near future the Treasurer will find it difficult to obtain revenue sufficient to meet his expenditure, and will probably then cast about for fresh means of raising money. No doubt he will have to advocate a Federal land tax, tq which at the present juncture thousands of persons are opposed. As I desire to keep down expenditure as much as possible, il must oppose all proposals for adding to the public burdens.
.–! do not rise to oppose the third reading. If I had desired to block the measure I could have taken advantage of the opportunity which presented itself before the third reading was moved. But I have a few remarks to make before the Bill is sent to the other Chamber. In the first place, I am of the opinion that verv great care must be exercised if success is to result from the operation of the measure. It is now a mere skeleton, and I wish to see the regulations which will clothe it with a body. These regulations must be submitted to Parliament before they can operate, and I trust that thev will be laid upon the table before the end of the session, so that honorable members may have an opportunity to learn the intentions of the Government, which hitherto we have tried in vain to get at. Last night I submitted some proposals which I thought would improve the measure. When I laid them before the Minister’s colleagues on Friday last, they were of that opinion, and I understood that my amendments would be accepted. But last night they were treated by the Minister of Trade and Customs in the most churlish manner. Apparently, in order to secure an amendment in measures of which he has charge, one must either be a slavish supporter of the Government, or be ready to make things very uncomfortable for them. I do not wish to have my amendments accepted for either reason. I had no personal interest in what I did. My proposals were the result of what I learned in travelling through the United States last year, and my information was gained only at the expense of considerable time and money, and a great deal of trouble. My proposals were, however, received in the wrong spirit, and were very much misunderstood. I desired to provide for the granting of a bounty for the production of cereals and fodders oft arid country, whose rainfall is less than 14 inches. My amendment would have applied to all country possessing a lower rainfall than 14 inches per annum. If a man grows crops with a rainfall of 8 or 9 inches, he is entitled to more credit and greater assistance than the man who grows crops under a rainfall of 13 or 14 inches. Two-thirds of the Continent of Australia is either arid or semi-arid. In no part of that large area are any crops grown, or, if they are, they are raised only at wide intervals. Every man who sows seed in such country takes the risk of losing it, and obtaining nothing in return. He may obtain a crop, but only once in a while. In other countries where similar conditions exist, and where the soil is no better, and perhaps not so good, farmers are able to grow crops equal to those obtained in Australia in districts enjoying a rainfall of some 25 to 30 inches. This is being accomplished by the aid of science, perseverance, and the use of methods and implements with which our farmers are unacquainted. So far as I am aware, no State experimental farms have yet attempted to follow the system of cultivation adopted in America. Although some of the States authorities have imported special seed, and have adopted improved methods, they have not made substantial progress or achieved the same results that have been obtained in America. Since I first began to write upon this subject, I have received letters from Queensland and Western Australia, and even from the north island of New Zealand, thanking me for the information afforded. The Minister of Agriculture in Queensland is now in treaty with Professor Campbell, the soil culture expert, with a view to inducing him to teach the farmers of Queensland how to grow crops in arid districts, and is sending; to the United States for implements which will enable the farmers to put the new principles in some measure to the test. The success of the dry farming methods adopted in America is working an industrial revolution in the western States. The people in that portion of the Republic are on fire with this new idea. It is working important changes, and I am sure that similar results will ensue here if we encourage our farmers to adopt the dry farming methods that I have indicated. I do not know what the Minister was afraid of when he disapproved of my amendment. No great expense would have been involved in carrying out my suggestion. Certain areas could have been selected within which it would have been open for any enterprising farmer to try dry farming. The Commonwealth authorities might have encouraged such persons by sending for seed and by otherwise assisting them. If we succeeded in inducing only one farmer in each district to show what could be done by the methods referred to, a complete revolution would be brought about, and much benefit would be derived by the community as a whole. Of course, ordinarily, a farmer could not afford to conduct experiments, but if he received reasonable assistance from the State, and saw before him some chance of success and reward, he would probably be induced to make an effort in the desired direction. Last night the honorable member for Moira quoted certain figures with regard to rainfall, but I have not been able to find anything to indorse them.
– My figures were obtained from the authority Inamed.
– I have consulted the returns compiled by Mr. Baracchi, and I cannot find in them anything to bear out those mentioned by the honorable member, who has made his own district appear a great deal worse and more arid than it is.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– It is quite correct. I have taken my figures from the records, and I find that in the Riverina district, north of Kerang and Echuca, which is still further north than the tract of country referred to by the honorable member for Moira, the average rainfall is 14 inches per annum. In the Riverina district, north of Nathalia, the average rainfall is 16.90; in the Goulburn Valley, from Seymour to the Murray, the average rainfall is 21.43; in the central Mallee, 13.19; in the north Mallee, 11.33; and in the country between Bendigo and Echuca, 17.60.
– What is the use of sidetracking my statement? The honorable member should be fair.
– I am quite justified in defending my position.
– The honorable member shoudl not contradict my statement and then side-track the whole question.
– I am quoting from the official returns. There was no need for the honorable member for Moira to have introduced his figures; as to rainfall into the discussion, because I had in my mind, not merely Victoria, but the whole continent of Australia.
– It is a pity the honorable member did not obtain some practical local information before he spoke.
– I have travelled a good deal about the northern districts of Victoria, and I am merely stating the facts. I have endeavoured to’ indicate what is being done in other parts of the world, and all I desire is that an opportunity shall be afforded to our farmers to put to the test the methods successfully followed elsewhere.
– 1 shall give the honorable member something to chew before he has finished.
– I do not think there is any occasion for the honorable member to lose his temper over the matter.
– I do not care what the honorable member says, but I like fair dealing.
– I am merely quoting the records compiled by Mr. Baracchi him- :self .
– Why did the honorable member contradict my statement and then
Tun away to something else ?
– I am not running away to anything else. I am merely contradicting the honorable member’s statement, because the official figures do not bear it out.
– I fold the honorable member the source from which I obtained my figures.
– And I have done the same. I do not care whether the Minister makes provision in the Bill in the way I have suggested or not. He was good enough to say that he would be glad to see me next week, and to ascertain whether he could do anything to comply with my wishes. Irrespective of the Bill altogether, this question is big enough to stand by itself. It has assumed a position of the greatest importance in- America, and it will do so here, in spite of anything that may be done by the Minister in a nasty party spirit. I trust that the measure will be a success, although I have grave doubts upon that point. I am sure that a large amount of the money set apart for bounties will not be claimed. To insure success, the Bill must be most carefully administered, and I trust that the regulations will be laid upon the table before the session is closed, in order that we may judge as to whether they are likely to accomplish the purpose in view.
– I do not wish to delay the passage of the Bill. I am glad that the proposals of the honorable member for Echuca were not incorporated in it. The honorable member has placed his case before us with undoubted ability. I believe that there is a very great future before dry farming in Australia, although I am not able to say whether we at present know enough about our arid regions to enable us to systematically apply principles such as those referred to. In the United States of America they have one advantage not enjoyed by us. The whole of the territory of the United States has been subjected to an agricultural survey. The experts there have been able to tabulate their figures and thoroughly explore the ground, and it may be that we are not quite ready to embark upon the new methods proposed in the practical manner suggested by the honorable member for Echuca. Another thought occurred to my mind whilst the honorable member for Echuca and the honorable member for Moira were indulging in a small verbal duel. A 14-in. rainfall in Victoria would probably be equivalent to a 20-in. rainfall in the far western districts of New South Wales. Climate differentiates rainfall so far as its effectiveness is concerned. ‘
– Very much also depends upon the season in which the greater part of the rain falls.
– Yes; but the principal differentiation is due to the climate and the heat. Therefore, provision might have to be made for placing country in the western parts of New South Wales enjoying a 20-in. rainfall upon an equality with land in Victoria enjoying a rainfall of - 14 inches. For some years experiments in dry farming have been conducted near Nyngan, in New South Wales. They have not, however, resulted successfully, because a succession of drought years has rendered any reasonable growth out of the question. I am aware that, in the meantime, the science of dry farming has made a considerable advance. I understand that agriculturists working on the dry farming .principle have to cultivate double the quantity of land that is placed under crop in other cases. Half the ground must lie fallow, whilst <he other half is being cropped. The fallowed ground is cultivated to conserve- the moisture so that it may form a reserve for the next season when the land is placed under crop. I do not think that practice has been followed at Nyngan. There is no doubt that we are constantly learning, and I think that the information that the honorable member for Echuca has placed before us, as the result of his careful and patient investigations, will prove of the utmost value to the whole of Australia, and may yet bear a prolific crop Of good results in years to come. At present we are engaged in pioneering work but it seems that with the aid of science and the application of experience the desert may yet be made to blossom, not, perhaps as the rose, but as a wheatfield blossoms and fructifies. 1 think that the honorable member has rendered a distinct service to the agricultural industries of Victoria by ventilating this matter. I am sure that the honorable member for Moira, who is waiting to spring to his feet to engage in deadly combat with his old-time friend, will be the first to recognise that. After all,’ there is room for a difference of opinion in these matters. Both of these honorable members have had wide experience, and possess great knowledge of agricultural enterprises.
Therefore, this difference of opinion may ultimately lead to their standing upon acommon ground in advocacy of the proposals of the honorable member . for. Echuca, To my mind, we do not know sufficient about the question of dry farming to formulate definite proposals concerning it. But if we are going to spend) half-a-million of .the taxpayers’ money in the way proposed, I do think that it isenterprises which possess enormous possibilities which ought to participate in that expenditure. If ever there was a case for the payment of a bounty, the proposal of the honorable member for Echuca is one. I can see nothing in the schedule which is in any way comparable to it in its importance to Australia as a whole. I hope, therefore, that the Minister will keep his eye upon this question. I should like 10 see the time when, in connexion with our Federation, we shall have an expert and scientific staff which will investigate these problems, so that we may be able to ascertain whether we cannot reclaim a great portion of Australia for the production of food, instead of allowing it to lie unoccupied, and to become a breeding ground for vermin. I am bound to say that, in my opinion, a great deal of the money that will be expended under the Bill will be absolutely wasted. In regard to some of the articles mentioned in the schedule, I say that the payment of a bounty upon their production i9 not required. In regard to others, I am not sure that we are acting wisely - seeing that we have so much virgin land in the temperate parts of Australia - in pushing our population into tropical regions, where industries of the character proposed have only succeeded when they were worked by means of coloured labour, and under low conditions of civilization. Take coffee, cotton, rice, and rubber, as an illustration. Those commodities are produced in various parts of the world to-day by means of coloured labour. They are grown in countries where labour is plentiful and cheap. I repeat that, having regard to all the virgin land that we possess, it would be time enough to push our population into tropical spheres, and to stimulate tropical enterprise, later on when some of those lands had been brought under cultivation. In the meantime, some of this ^500,000’ might be better spent in stimulating enterprises in temperate zones. It might be spent where there is an abun- dance of land available, and in a good climate, where our people can expend their energies to better advantage.
– The leader of the Opposition did not say that when he was in Queensland.
– May I remind -the Minister of Home Affairs that I am expressing my own opinions, i nope that the money which will be expended under this Bill will be well spent. If it does some good to Queensland I shall be delighted. When the Minister interrupted me. however, I had not Queensland in my mind. I was concentrating my thoughts upon what would contribute most to the peopling of Australia, and upon what was most calculated to fix our farming population in a climate where they can enjoy comfortable conditions, and strive to attain die ideals which are common to our race. We must be careful how we stimulate enterprises which in other lands and under other skies have led to the establishment of industries which, instead of advancing people in the social scale, have led to their impoverishment. If, by means of these bounties, we can foster tropical enterprises which will employ white labour, I admit that it will be a good thing. But it has never been done in the history of the world. As I pointed out last night, the moment these industries begin to flourish we shall have to engage in keen competition with outside races who occupy a lower position in the -social scale. In Java, for example, which possesses a population of 30,000,000, and which is situated almost at our doors, the people have to depend upon these industries for their national existence. I say that the Bill contemplates an experiment which ought not to be entered upon lightly. As surely as we come into successful competition with outside inferior races so surely will they menace us in return for our aggression upon them and their civilization. The same remark applies in a lesser degree to New Guinea. We have taken into-‘the Commonwealth half-a-million of savage people. “Here begins another very serious problem iri government for Australia. I therefore think that some of the money proposed to be expended under this measure might very well have been spent in Papua, if it is to be spent at all, believing as I do that Australians can do better than compete in all these black labour industries. We shall, have to do that perforce, some day, when the fringe of our population is, by reason of our increasing numbers, pushed north-, ward into the tropical regions. I have quite an open mind upon this question, but I speak from such knowledge of the history of the world as 1 have been able to gain. It is impossible to point to a single instance where these tropical industries have been successful except under a state of civilization which I hope we shall never witness in Australia. I have a lingering doubt in my mind whether this money could not have been spent to infinitely more advantage in developing the resources which are common to our temperate zone, and in assisting to build up there a prosperous people, living and working under conditions which would lead to the maintenance of the ideals of our race - a happy and contented civilization in these southern seas.
.- I fully appreciate the sentiments expressed by the honorable member for Parramatta when he declares, that it should be our aim to build up a nation which will labour under conditions which will maintain the ideals of our race. But he appears to forget that in Australia, the land which is most favorably situated from the stand-point of the climatic conditions which obtain, is not available for occupation in the same way as are our unoccupied areas.
– Surely that is not an insuperable difficulty.
– But it is one of those problems with which the Commonwealth cannot directly grapple. The lands of the States are practically under the control of the States Governments, and the honorable member himself is an advocate of the principle that it is undesirable for the Commonwealth to infringe States rights. Consequently an effort has to be made to settle the unoccupied spaces in our ‘ territory. However, I rose chiefly to refer to the statement which has been made by the honorable member for Echuca regarding some utterances of my own last evening. I quite appreciate the desire of the honorable member for Parramatta to act as peacemaker between us, but he will permit me to assure him that there is no estrangement between the honorable member for Echuca and myself. We have too intimate a knowledge of each other to quarrel about an honest difference of opinion. I merely desire to remove an erroneous impression which the honorable member for Echuca seems to “entertain regarding my statements. He ‘ appears to have thought that I said something to disparage the districts to which I have referred. Seeing that I live in the Goulburn Valley and that I possess a full knowledge of the conditions which obtain there, it is , not likely that I would make a public statement which would be in any way derogatory to it. I dealt last night with the proposal made by the honorable member for Echuca that a bounty should be paid on the production of cereals, sorghum, 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 have an experience of the northern district of Victoria extending over thirty years, and, before speaking last night, I took the precaution to secure from the Observatory a return showing the rainfall registered at four typical stations in that part of the State. I said that, roughly speaking, half, if not more, of the total wheat yield of Victoria was at present grown in districts where the average rainfall during the last five years was under 14 inches, and that the area in which wheat was so grown could be roughly taken as being all the country fifty miles north and west of the Dividing Range, with the Murray on the north, and the South Australian border on the west. I repeat that statement, and base it on my personal knowledge of the country. I may briefly explain how the misunderstanding between the honorable member for Echuca and myself has arisen with regard to the rainfall registered in these districts. The honorable member, when putting before the House the average rainfall in the Goulburn Valley district, included practically the returns relating to the Seymour and Murray stations. Any one who is familiar with that part of the country is aware that the climatic conditions prevailing at Seymour, which is practically at the foot of the hills, are entirely different from those obtaining at the mouth of the Goulburn, near Echuca. The letter which I received from the Observatory, giving me the information on which I relied, is the property of the House. I stated last night that the rainfall registered at the Kerang station during the years 1901 to 1905 inclusive totalled 63.14 inches, or an average annual rainfall of about 12.60 inches.
– What was the rainfall in 1901 ? .
– The rainfall registered at the Kerang station was as fol lows: - 1 901, 9.52 inches; 1902, 9.47 inches; 1903, 17.76; 1904, 13.12; and: 1905, 13.27 inches. It will be observed that during four out of the five years in. question, the rainfall at Kerang was actually below 14 inches. These figuresshow that the proposal of the honorable member for Echuca would have applied to all cereals and sorghums grown in theKerang district as well as to the north of it.In the Echuca district, which is a. wheat-raising and, to a limited extent, a. sorghum-producing area, the rainfall during the five years 1901 to 1905 inclusive, totalled 72.95 inches, or an average of alittle over 14 inches per annum. In theNathalia district, with which I am intimately acquainted, the rainfall during thesame period totalled 70 inches, so that thewhole of the wheat and sorghum produced in that district would come under the amendment proposed by the honorable - member. I say without hesitation that it would have been absurd to apply such a proposal to that part of Victoria. Forthirty years wheat has been successfully grown there. The farmers there originally selected and turned what was a box forest into well cultivated country. We have there now a fairly well-to-do farming community growing wheat, sorghum, and other grasses. I have a personal knowledge - of the district extending over thirty years, and I know that during that period there has been only one season which by any stretch of imagination could be regarded as a failure so far as the production of cereals is concerned. The general prosperity of the farming community is an evidence that wheat-growing and pastoral pursuits are being successfully carried on in Victoria and New South Wales in areas where the average rainfall for the last five years has been under 14 inches. With a seasonable rainfall of 14 inches per annum the. northern district of Victoria and the Riverina have nothing to fear. It is only when we have a rainfall of but 9 or 10 inches during two successive seasons that there is any possibility of disaster overtaking the farmers there.
– Everything would depend upon the distribution of the rainfall over the year.
– That is so. I repeat that, given a seasonable rainfall, there, is no likelihood of disaster overtaking the northern districts of Victoria or the Riverina. I recognise the fact that I havetaken the rainfall returns for only five years, whereas the honorable member for Echuca quoted those covering a ten years period, which may make a material difference in the average; but I thought that if was quite sufficient to quote the returns’ in respect of the period mentioned in the amendment. My figures come from an official source, and 1 trust that any misunderstanding that may have arisen will be removed. When we discuss any question, it is desirable that we should clearly understand the basis upon which we are working. We should not attempt to fight mere shadows. I fully appreciate the enthusiasm shown bv the honorable member for Echuca in his desire that our arid districts should be further developed. We have a vast area of dry country in the north-western part of Victoria and the western district of New South Wales, and if the Government, bv means of a bounty or by assisting the Agricultural Departments of the State’s, when funds are available, can do anything in the direction indicated by the honorable member, I shall be glad to support their efforts in that direction. My experience of the wheat-growing districts of Victoria led me to believe, however, that the proposition made last night by the honorable member was unnecessary, for it has been proved beyond doubt that the cereals and sorghum can be successfully grown in districts having a rainfall of only 14 inches per annum.
.- I appreciate most heartily the kindly remarks made in reference to myself by the honorable member for Moira, and fully reciprocate them. I endeavoured last night to check the figures that I gave, and I admit that they related to a ten years period. Finding that the two returns did not tally, I felt that I was in duty bound to place these facts before the House to-night. The honorable member for Moira and I have been friends for years, and I hope that nothing will occur to disturb our harmonious relations.
– The more I consider the provisions of this Bill the more firmly convinced I am that it is one that we are not warranted in passing. At an early hour this morning, when honorable members, by reason of the long sitting, were physically unfitted to give the items in the schedule that close attention which, in other circumstances, thev would have received, the deputy leader of the Opposition moved an amendment, the effect of which, as the result of [t3t] conversations with several honorable members, I am satisfied was not fully appreciated. The amendment was that a certain portion of the amount set opposite the item “ Miscellaneous “ should be devoted to an endeavour to encourage the export trade in perishable fruits. I was requested by some honorable members to move for the recommittal of the Bill in order that this proposal might be further explained. I do not wish to do that, because I have no desire to further delay the passing of the Bill ; but it will save time if I briefly explain the provision, since I believe that the object which we desire to attain will be accomplished by other means. The proposal was not. as several honorable members believed at the time, to increase the vote, but to allot part of it to the encouragement of the export of perishable products. The Committee might very well have given assistance to the export trade in perishable products. The State of Tasmania will have to provide from ,£4,000 to £6,000 a. year as its contribution to the proposed bounty fund, but its people will receive no benefit from the bounties.
– They will be able to take advantage of the proposed bounty for the production of condensed and powdered milk, and of other bounties.
– After a careful examination of the situation, I feel convinced that the people of the State of which I am a representative will get no advantage from the bounties. Many of them have at their own expense - in some cases successfully, and in other cases unsuccessfully - endeavoured to find markets outside the Commonwealth for their perishable products, and if it is right to grant a bounty for the assistance of the olive oil industry, it would surely be right to grant a bounty for the assistance of the fruit industry, not only in Tasmania, but in all the States. The people of Tasmania have, at considerable expense to themselves, obtained an outlet for some of their fruit;’ but if the Government gave a bounty for the encouragement of the fruit export trade generally, it would benefit, not only them, but also the people of the other States, because each State produces fruit of one kind or another. A number of honorable members informed me that they voted under a misapprehension, and that had they thoroughly understood the proposal they would have been found voting on the other side. Had the proposal been understood, the representatives of the temperate parts of Australia would have secured for the people of those parts some share of the benefits of the Bill. As the measure stands, these benefits go almost entirely to Queensland, and those, who will have to contribute the greater part of the £500,000 to be spent in bounties will get no return, except as they may be indirectly benefited by expenditure benefiting Northern Australia. The one proposal which would ha ve given them an opportunity to participate in these benefits was rejected. Honorable members who desire to explain their position in this matter should, I think, take advantage of the opportunity to do so, because such action would have a decidedly good effect. It must be remembered that the Bill has not yet reached its final stages, and we may yet be able to reconsider the vote which was given at an earlyhour this morning. I emphatically protestagainst the selfishness of those who, having obtained large benefits for the States which they represent, refuse to allow othersto participate.
– I have saidvery little upon this measure since introducing it, but I have listened to so many misstatements and misunderstandings 111 regard to it that I wish now to say a few words in explanation. Dealing first with the remarks of the honorable member for Franklin - and the placard speech which he has just made was practically the twentieth repetition of his original utterances regarding the measure - I would point out that he knows perfectly well that it is impossible to apportionany part of the money provided in the Bill for the encouragement of the export trade in fruit.
– Because the proposed appropriation is not large enough. We could’ not give a bounty to encourage the export of fruit from Tasmania only ; and to encourage the export of fruit from all the States, would require as great a sum as that provided in the Bill for all the bounties specified. Moreover, there is not much reason for trying to encourage the export trade, because, especially in Tasmania, it is already a most active and lucrative one. Except in one year, the export of fruit has paid better than anything else there, unless it is the mines. Had I proposed a bounty for the encouragement of the export of fruit, honorable members would have taken the Government to. task for proposing assistance to a wellestablished industry. In Tasmania, the business is so sound that a comparatively small extent of country is able to produce a sufficient quantity of fruit to induce the large ocean-going steamers to make regular visits to Hobart for a period of three months to take it away. Last night the deputy leader of the Opposition moved an amendment to include fruit among the productions to be encouraged by a bounty, and, according to the honorable member for Franklin, many members of the Committee did not understand the object of the amendment. In my opinion, there was no misunderstanding.
– I was under a misap prehension in regard to the matter.
– I think that only one other honorable member was in that position. I was accused of having made a promise, but I did not do so. Directly the amendment! was moved, I said that I could not accept it.It would cost a mint of money to give assistance to the export trade in fruit from all the States. Such assistance is certainly not needed in Tasmania, from which apples are exported in large quantities. The other States produce softer fruits, requiring more care in handling and quicker transport, and, no doubt, the export of such fruit might be improved.
– Small fruits rot in tons in Tasmania.
– How far can such fruit be sent?
– Cannot it be sent long distances in pulp?
– One year Tasmanian pulp took possession of the New South Wales market ; but that was stopped, because pulp is not very good for jammaking when it has travelled any distance. I have yet to learn that the smaller fruits, such as raspberries and strawberries, could be satisfactorily exported from Tasmania, except to the mainland. The honorable member for Echuca made a long speech early this morning, when we should all have been in bed, telling what he saw in his travels in the United States regarding the success of dry farming. While I indorse what he said as to the desirability of improving our methods, I could not accept his amendment, because it would cost a mint of money to give effect to his proposal.
– Could not the cultivation of 100 acres be regarded as a satisfactory experiment ?
– The New South Wales Government is already doing more in experimenting in dry regions than could be done by any private individual.
– But neither Victoria nor Queensland is doing anything in this direction.
– If the honorable member had a farm in Victoria, and wished for information on this subject, he could easily visit the New South Wales experimental stations. What is needed is, not the granting of a bounty, but. the carrying out of experiments by the State. A great deal has been said regarding the advisability of establishing a Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, and no one is more in favour of that step than I am. But it would not be justifiable to duplicate the work now done by the Departments of the States. We might perhaps collect the information obtained by the States, and take means to publish it.
– The honorable member suggests the establishment of an information bureau ?
– Yes. That is all that the Government would be justified in doing until some arrangement could be made with the Governments of the States for putting all the Agricultural Departments under Commonwealth control. When the States agree to some such arrangement, I shall support it as strongly as I can. What the honorable member for Echuca proposed was the giving, of a bounty for the production of cereals and other crops in districts where the rainfall does not exceed 14 inches. Considering the large area of such country, there is in all the States of the mainland, the expense of carrying such a proposal into effect would be enormous. If the honorable member’s proposal had been adopted we should not have been able to place any reasonable limit upon our expenditure. I may be in a position to carry out in some limited degree the wishes of the honorable member, because under the head of “ Miscellaneous” in the schedule, provision is made for various articles which are mentioned, and “ such other goods as are prescribed.” It might be possible to frame regulations with a view to partly carrying out the suggestion of the honorable member for Echuca.
– What about fruit? ‘
– There would not be sufficient money available to enable any sum to be devoted to the payment of bounties upon exported fruit. I have no objection to the principle, but a large sum of money would be required to provide for the payment of a bounty upon the export of, say, apples from Tasmania. That State is the last that requires a bounty upon its fruit export.
– It is the last State to obtain any benefit.
– It is the first State to obtain a good many things.
– The Minister will have a margin of £25,000.
– I do not know what I shall have. In view of the success with which the export trade is being carried on in Tasmania, it would have been absurd to grant an export bounty upon apples. If any export bounty is granted it should be provided for in respect of softer fruits. Of course, Tasmania produces a few pears, but the softer varieties of fruit are not grown upon a large scale.
– Nonsense; the Minister does not know anything about it.
– I was bom in Tasmania, and know a good deal about it. The honorable member is now making statements; equally as rash as those uttered by him with reference to barracoutta, which were ridiculed in all parts of the Commonwealth.
– All the same, I was quite right.
– The honorable member stated that the apple industry would be ruined through the operation of the Commerce Act. and asserted that under, the State law apples intended for export were not subjected to inspection. I find, however, that the restrictions upon the export of apples and potatoes are very much more drastic than any imposed by regulations proposed to be carried out under the Commerce Act.
– That statement is absolutely absurd.
– The honorable member can, if he likes, go across to the Grand Hotel, and interview the Chief Inspector of Ta’smania.
– I know all about that.
– Under “certain conditions, I should not object to an export bounty in respect of soft fruit. Tasmania produces very little soft fruit that could be exported, with the exception of a few pears. It would be impossible to convey raspberries, currants, gooseberries, and similar small fruits for any great distance. When I speak of soft fruits I refer more particularly to citrous products, which require expeditious transit, and which might very well be made the subject of an export bounty. The fruit export trade of Tasmania, is being carried on under the most satisfactory conditions, and has assumed such proportions that the mail boats proceed to Hobart regularly in order to convey apples to the London market. The honorable member for Franklin represented that Tasmania would receive no benefit from the proposed bounties, but I would point out that the Tasmanians are not a. lazy people. They have a fine country, eminently adapted for dairying purposes, and I believe that, under the incentive of the proposed bounties, the manufacture of condensed and powdered milk will be established in that State. Further, I believe that the cultivation* of many of the fibres mentioned in the schedule will also be engaged in by Tasmanians, who have a country and climate eminently adapted to their production. In view of the fact9 I have mentioned, I do not think that the honorable member for Franklin has much to complain of. I hope that my remarks have served to clear away some of the misapprehensions with regard to the provisions of the measure.
.- -I think that if any honorable member is under a misapprehension it is the Minister. He entirely misunderstands the object which the honorable member for Parramatta has in view. The Minister states that it will be impossible for him, with the funds at his disposal, to carry out the suggestions of that honorable member. But nothing more was suggested than that experiments should be conducted in connexion with the shipment of soft fruits, such as oranges, which, so far, have not been exported with satisfactory results. These experiments, instead of costing £500,000, as the Minister would have us believe, might not involve an outlay of more than £250. When I was a member of the Export Board in New South Wales, a number of experiments were carried out, with a view’ to ascertain the exact temperature, at which eggs could best be preserved. At times of glut in the market large quantities of eggs used to become rotten, and the Board, with a view to overcoming the difficulty, rented refrigerating chambers, and after a number of experiments ascertained that by keeping eggs at a certain temperature they could be preserved for six or nine months. Tasmania has never asked for an export bounty upon apples. The apple export trade has been firmly established, and nc bounty is required to assist it.
– Then why is the honorable member for Franklin complaining?
– The honorable member merely indorsed the suggestion of the honorable member for Parramatta. But for his density, the Minister would have understood that.
– That is not correct.
– What I am stating is quite correct. It was desired that experiments should be made in connexion with the shipment of oranges. The want of success in connexion with the export of oranges has been largely due to the fact that the fruit has been carried in cool air charged with moisture, which has caused the oranges to become mouldy and rotten. There are, however, methods of refrigerating with dry air, and it is highly desirable that experiments should be conducted with a view to ascertaining whether oranges could not be carried to London under those improved conditions. The Minister objected to granting a bounty to assist the apple industry of Tasmania on the ground that it was already well established. Why, then, should the olive oil industry be made the subject of a bounty? No assistance of that kind is required, because our olive oil has already been brought into successful competition with the products of other countries in outside markets. On the one hand, we are endeavouring to get rid of black labour in order that we may establish a White Australia, and on the other hand an attempt is being made bv means of bounties to foster the production of commodities which in all other countries are grown bv black labour. I believe in allowing a black man to do a black man’s work, and I think that we might more profitably develop our resources by restricting our people to occupations which white men can advantageously follow. It has been stated that the Bill will confer more benefit upon Queensland than upon any other State, but I am not influenced by that considera- tion. I would point out, however, that Queensland has no need to resort to cottongrowing in order to make use of her vast tracts of highly productive land. The dairying industry is making rapid strides in that State, and within a few years will undergo a wonderful development. Queensland possesses millions of acres which are suitable for dairying purposes, and there is no reason why many thousands of persons should not engage in that occupation there. I do not see why we should induce people to grow cotton, which yields a return of only about £2 1 os. per acre, when far more satisfactory results can be obtained by putting the land to other uses. , We might be content to allow the cotton, coffee, and rubber industries to be carried on in Papua. If we encourage the natives in that Possession to follow a life of industry, and to supply us with commodities such as I have mentioned, we shall confer benefit upon them, and at the same time promote our own welfare. If the Bill brings about the development of industries to the extent anticipated by the Minister, our Customs revenue will be diminished to the extent of £1,250,000. When the States come to examine this Bill, they will be alarmed, because they will realize that under its operation their solvency will be endangered. The Labour Party will then be in a position to urge the imposition of a progressive land tax, because direct” taxation will be necessary. I can readily understand why that party has so consistently supported this measure. They realize that, should it prove a success, our Customs revenue will be depleted, the solvency of the States will be imperilled, and we shall be obliged to resort to direct taxation.
.- I do not intend to reply to the remarks of the honorable member for Cowper, who has alleged that successful tropical industries are necessarily associated with black labour. That statement has been refuted time and again. As a matter of fact, in Queensland it has been conclusively proved that cotton can be successfully produced by means of white labour. But I rose merely for the purpose of making, my position clear in regard to the vote which I recorded last evening upon the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Parramatta. I voted against that amendment under a mis: apprehension. I was present in the Chamber whilst the discussion was in pro gress, and left a few minutes before the question was put- When the bells rang, I returned to the Chamber. My impression was that the honorable member had proposed that ia bounty should be paid to encourage the production of fruit. I am aware that in my own State the fruit-growers do not know how to dispose of their surplus product. As a matter of fact, they have subscribed considerable sums and have been aided by the State to do the very thing which I now find that the honorable member for Parramatta desired the Government’ to do, namely, to engage in an experiment in transporting that fruit to the other side of the world, in the hope that a market would be found for it. At the present time, the orchardists have to suffer considerable loss by reason of the fact that they have no market for their surplus. Had I understood the question which was before the Committee last night, I certainly should have voted upon the other side. However, I hope that when the Bill is returned from the Senate, honorable members will be afforded an opportunity of reconsidering the position.
– No portion of the bounties provided would have been spent to better advantage.
– The statement of the honorable member for Franklin is quite correct. Although I have loyally supported the Bill throughout, I believe that the amendment of the honorable member for Parramatta would have had the effect of improving the measure. In speaking as he did to-night, I think that the honorable member for Franklin exhibited a rather unselfish spirit, because he realizes, perhaps better than do most of us, that Tasmania does not require the aid of any bounty to provide her with a market for her fruit.
– I wish to say a few words in reply to the remarks which were made yesterday by, the honorable member for Franklin. He declared that the whole of the proposed bounties would be absorbed by States other than Tasmania. I entirely dissent from that view. It is true that the fruit industry in Tasmania does not require the aid of any bounty, but there are other industries which W]11 be benefited by the Bill. I find that the value of Tasmanian fruit and jam exported has, during the first five years of the Federation, increased by £95,000. I am glad to say that in the district which I have the honour to represent some persons commenced to grow flax last year, and under this Bill, I hope that they will participate in the bounty. Although I invariably champion the claims of Tasmania, I recognise that no good object is to be served by making it appear that that State occupies a worse position than she really does. The truth is that since the establishment of Federation, the value of her exports to other States has increased by from £1,000,000 to £3,000,000 annually. It will thus be seen that, although the Tasmanian Treasury has suffered, the State itself has not been damaged in the way that the honorable member for Franklin would have us believe. I hope that the Bill will prove the success which its most ardent supporters anticipate.
.- I regret that the honorable member for Cowper has suffered from a bad attack of antiSocialism to-night, causing him to look upon this Bill as an insidious attempt on the part of the. Labour Party to injure the revenues of the Commonwealth so as to force a resort to direct taxation. In his calmer moments, I am sure he will admit that there is not the slightest justification for his statement. I have always held that it is the legitimate function of the Government to develop industries. For that reason, I supported the establishment of the Agricultural Department in New South Wales, and of various agricultural farms and colleges. As the outcome of the discussion upon this Bill, I trust that the Government will see their way to inaugurate a Federal Agricultural Department. I can see very great possibilities in an institution of that character, lt has been urged that the tropical products mentioned in the schedule of the Bill can be successfully cultivated only by means of black’ labour. I need scarcely point out that the same statement was made in reference to the sugar industry - a statement the fallacy of which is now being demonstrated. I claim that it is possible to carry on tropical industries and to pay white men’s wages. Last evening, some reference was made by the honorable member for Echuca to the. system of dry farming. I think that under a Bill of this kind something might have been done to assist those who have been experimenting in that direction. In New South Wales, some very valuable experiments have been conducted by the Government at Wagga, and at other places by Mr. Farrar, with the result that the far mers throughout the arid districts have been immensely benefited. The expenditure which has been incurred in that direction has been returned many hundredfold in the form of profitable production.. I supported the proposal of the honorable member for Parramatta last night, hot because I desired to see the Government exporting fruit from the Commonwealth, but because I thought that experiments should be conducted by the Commonwealth to teach the fruit-growers the best way to prepare their products for foreign markets, and to overcome the failures of the past. A small expenditure in that direction might be attended by invaluable results to the fruit-growers of the Commonwealth. Provision might reasonably have been made in the Bill for experimental work in these directions. I trust that, as the outcome of this debate, such experiments will ultimately be undertaker; by the Commonwealth. I do not look upon this proposal as dangerous, or as one that should not have been submitted. I believe that .good work can be done under the Bill, and hope that it will lead, not only to the establishment of certain industries on a substantial footing, but to the creation of a Federal Bureau of Agriculture, which will join with the States Departments in doing everything possible to advance the ‘producing interests of the Commonwealth.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This is a Bill to provide the machinery necessary to enable a referendum to be taken in connexion with a proposed alteration of the Constitution. Section 128 provides the conditions under which there may be an alteration, and that when a proposed law is submitted to the electors, the vote shall be taken in such manner as the Parliament prescribes. It is proposed under this Bill to provide permanent machinery for taking a vote relating to a proposed alteration. The desire of the Government is, by permanently laying down the requisite machinery, to obviate the necessity to introduce a separate Bill to enable a referendum to be taken on every proposed alteration of the Constitution. The scheme embodied in the Bill is, shortly, to utilize as far as possible the existing electoral machinery under the Electoral Acts, in the taking of a vote on a proposed alteration. The provisions of the Electoral Acts relating to polling and electoral offences are to be applicable to the taking of a referendum. After a proposed law has been adopted in the manner provided by the Constitution, the Governor-General will, under clause 5, issue a writ for the submission of the proposed law to the electors. The writ is to be in the form prescribed, and will name a date for the taking of the vote, and for its return. Clause 6 is a rather important provision. It is proposed ur.der it that there may be attached to the writ a copy of the proposed law, or a copy of a statement - certified to be correct by ai Justice of the High Court - setting forth the text of the proposed law, the material parts of the Constitution proposed to be altered, and the material parts of the Constitution as they would be if the proposed law were passed and assented tq. The desire is that there shall go out to the people of Australia a statement of the proposed law, certified to by an absolutely impartial person. A copy of the writ, and a copy of the proposed law or statement, will be forwarded under the Bill to the Governors of the several States, for it is recognised that an alteration of the Constitution concerns, not only the Commonwealth, but the States. The original writ will be forwarded to the Chief Electoral Officer, who will send a copy of it, and a copy of the proposed law or statement, to the Commonwealth Electoral Officer in the several States. Upon receipt of the writ, those officers will cause the particulars relating to it to be advertised in two newspapers circulating in each State. The advertisement will also embody a copy of the proposed law or a copy of the statement attached to the writ. With a view to giving the fullest publicity to the proposal, copies of the proposed law or of the statement, are to be exhibited at the post offices and Customs houses in each State, and- at such other places in the State, as the Chief Electoral Officer may direct. The duty of the Commonwealth Electoral Officers will be to forward copies of the writ arid the proposed law to each Divisional Returning
Officer and Assisting Returning Officer, who will forthwith take all steps necessary to carry the writ into effect. Under the Bill, an elector may vote by ballot or through the post, or he may avail himself of the “ Q “ form foi absent voters. The vote will be taken throughout Australia on the same date, and the existing polling-places ur.der the Electoral Act will be the poll ing- pi aces for the referendum. An elector will be allowed to vote only once, and it is provided that the election shall be by ballot. A schedule to the Bill sets out the form of the ‘ ballot-paper. The elector will be asked one simple question -
Do you approve of the proposed law for the alteration of the Constitution entitled -
The title of the proposed law will follow, and the elector will record his vote by making a cross in the square opposite the word “ Yes “ or “ No.” As I have already said, it is felt that the States have an interest in the taking of the poll, and provision is therefore made for the appointment of scrutineers by the Governors of the States. The result of the referendum will be ascertained by a scrutiny, amd the Governor of a State may appoint persons to be present to supervise the scrutiny. After the poll has been taken, the Divisional Returning Officers will return their copies of the writ, giving the result of the scrutiny, to the Commonwealth Electoral Officer of ‘ the State, who will make up and count the returns, and forward them to the Chief Electoral Officer. The latter will then make a complete count,, and a statement of that count will be indorsed on the original writ and published in the Gazette. It is provided in clause 24 that the statement so published shall, subject to the Bill, be conclusive evidence of the result of the referendum. A referendum may be disputed, either by the Commonwealth or by a. State, through its AttorneyGeneral, and any dispute in relation to a referendum will be dealt with by the High Court. It is recognised that such disputes should be settled by ar. impartial tribunal, and as the High Court is appointed to adjust disputes arising as between State and State, or the Commonwealth and a State, as to the interpretation of the Constitution, it is considered that the decision of these matters should be left to that tribunal. These are, briefly, the provisions in the Bill, which simply provides for the application of the general principles of the Electoral Act to the taking of a referendum.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Joseph Cook) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed - That the House do now adjourn.
– What will be the order of business to-morrow?
– We shall take the Preferential Ballot Bill, and afterwards the Referendum Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.13p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 August 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1906/19060830_reps_2_33/>.