3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. HUGHES made and subscribed the oath of allegiance as member for the Electoral District of West Sydney.
Colonel FOXTON presented three petitions - from the Maryborough Chamber of Commerce, Queensland; from the Softgoods Warehousemen’s Association of Queensland ; and from the Commercial Travellers’ Association of Queensland - praying that the vessels carrying out the new mail contract be asked to call at the principal port of each State ; that that port be specified, and that Brisbane be such a port ; that provision be made for cold storage for perishable produce and other merchandise, and equal facilities for taking advantage of it given to each State ; and that Queensland be not called upon to pay more than her proper proportion of any subsidy granted by the Commonwealth.
Mr. GROOM presented a similar petition from the Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce.
Report (No. 2) presented by Mr.
Hutchison, and read by the Clerk, as follows : -
The Printing Committee have the honour to report that they have met in conference with the Printing Committee of the Senate. -
The following resolution was carried : - “ That it be a recommendation from the Joint Printing Committee to the Senate and the House of Representatives that, except in cases of extreme importance and urgency, no order be made for the printing of a document presented until the same has been referred to the Committee for consideration and report.”
The Joint Committee recommend that, in addition to the Papers already in print, the following Papers be printed : -
Return of persons employed in cigar, tobacco and cigarette manufactories of the Commonwealth (Presented to the Senate).
Wireless Telegraphy - Report of the Conference on.
Committee-room, 18th July, 1907.
Motion (by Mr. Hutchison) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
.- The Minister of Trade and Customs last week laid upon the table the report of the Imperial Conference. In addition to the report of the Conference, a blue-book containing appendices was published in England, making altogether over 1,200 pages of printed matter. I do not know if the honorable gentleman, when in London, inquired as to the cost of procuring a few hundred copies of these volumes. Had they been ordered then, copies would now be available for distribution among honorable members, and I do not think that the expense would have been one-tenth of what it will cost to reprint them here. I am not sure that it is not still possible to obtain them in England for less than it would cost to reprint them.
– The report of the Imperial Conference could not have been laid on the table any earlier.
– I did not refer to the laying of the reporton the table. I said that if copies had been ordered in England they would now be ready for distribution, whereas, as it is, we shall have to wait some time for them to be printed.
– Every endeavour has been made to expedite the reprinting, and the Government Printer of
New South Wales has undertaken that soo copies shall be ready within seven days pf that on which he received the original copy.
– What is to be the cost of the reprinting?
– Two hundred pounds odd.
– It is a waste of money.
– Another estimate which the Government received came to .£300 odd.
– I wish to know, Mr. Speaker, if the adoption of the report will prevent the House from ordering a document to be printed without reference to the Printing Committee. Will the adoption of the report take from us the power to say what documents shall and what shall not be printed?
– The powers of the House in regard to the printing of papers are defined in its Standing Orders, and the adoption of the report will neither increase nor diminish them
– Do I understand that if the report is adopted the House will be unable to order the printing of a paper without reference to the Printing Committee? The Committee recommend that no document shall be ordered to be printed until the advisability of printing it has been referred to them for consideration.
– I understand the recommendation of the Printing Committee to be that no paper be ordered to be printed without reference to them; but the adoption of the report will not prevent the House from ordering the printing of any document which honorable members think should be printed.
– Under the conditions which have existed in the past, Ministers, on laying papers on the table - and sometimes other members - have moved that they be printed, when, perhaps, on the same afternoon, their printing is also ordered in another place ; with the result that they have been twice printed, and the expense nf printing thereby doubled. The desire c f the Printing Committee, I take it, is that the House shall not lightly order papers to be printed, but shall first refer them to the Committee to consider the advisability of printing them. Our powers will be in no way diminished by adopting the report, because they are defined in the Standing Orders.
.- If the adoption of the report will mean that the advisability of printing must invariably be determined by the Printing Committee before any document can be ordered to be printed, I -shall not support the motion. To my mind, it would be absurd if a Minister could not, without referring the matter to the Printing Committee, move for the printing of a paper which he had. laid upon the table. The printing of a paper might be of the greatest urgency ; but reference to the Committee would inevitably cause delay, however desirous of facilitating expedition its members might be. Furthermore, the House would be placed in an invidious position, if such a course were adopted, and I trust that honorable members will not agree to it. Members have ample opportunity fo ascertain whether the papers which they lay upon the table have, in another place, been ordered, or will be ordered” to be printed, and if the Government Printer and the officers of the two Houses cannot work together to prevent the waste of money involved when documents are printed twice, they should be replaced by others who will do so. I trust that the interpretation placed upon the motion will not be that it limits the powers of the House. I do not think that that interpretation should be placed on it.
– Perhaps I did not express my meaning as clearly or as fully as was necessary. Not only the powers of the House, but the powers of Ministers and of members, too, will be undiminished by the passing of the motion. If the motion is agreed to any Minister, or any member, under certain circumstances, may still move for the printing of a paper; it merely adopts a recommendation of the Printing Committee, to which the House can, when it thinks fit, give effect. Standing order 322 provides for the appointment of a Printing Committee, and sets out the course to be followed in regard to the printing of papers.
.- Unless some very much better reason can be assigned than has yet been put forward, I do not think that there is any need for the presentation of this report by the Printing Committee. All parliamentary papers must pass through the Government Printing Office, and I cannot conceive that the head of that Department would be so intensely stupid as to print the same paper to the order of each branch of the Legislature.
– What is objected to is the unnecessary printing of papers.
– Even if that be so, according to your ruling, sir, any Minister or private member is quite at liberty to move that a particular paper be printed. The matter would go before the Printing Committee.
– Let us suppose that the House orders a certain paper to be printed. Its decision will go before the Printing Committee.
– That is not so.
– Then of what use is this report?
– In New South Wales the practice in the majority of cases was to refer the question of the desirableness or otherwise of printing papers to the Printing Committee, but in special cases the House ordered that the papers should be printed.
– If the honorable member for Franklin will permit me, I will read the standing order upon which we have acted during the past six years. It is as follows -
A Printing Committee, to consist of seven members, shall be appointed at the commencement of each Parliament, to which shall stand referred all petitions and papers presented to the House, or laid upon the table, the Committee to report from time to time as to what petitions and papers ought to be printed, and whether wholly or in part; provided that when a paper has been laid on the table, a motion may be made at any time, without notice, that the paper be printed.
So that when papers are laid upon the table of the House - as they are almost every day by Ministers - without remark and without a motion being submitted, they of necessity go before the Printing Committee, which presents a report recommending that certain papers should be printed and that others should not.
– If there be a joint Committee of the two Houses charged with the duty of recommending the printing of papers, I cannot understand how any duplication in the printing of documents has occurred. Even if the Senate ordered a particular paper to be printed, and this House, upon the same afternoon, ordered the same paper to be printed, surely the Government Printer would not be stupid enough to print the document twice.
– It has been done scores of times.
– I am aware that it has been done. I remember several cases of duplication which occurred in the course of a single week. Such duplication involves a great waste of energy and expenditure. I think that a good deal of money might be saved in connexion with the printing of our parliamentary papers.
– The whole of this question was carefully considered by the Printing Committee, which has no desire to curtail any of the powers belonging to members of either House. It has been discovered, however, that Ministers very frequently lay upon the table of the House papers with the contents of which they are not familiar, and move that they be printed. A Minister is now at liberty to lay any paper upon the table and to move that it be printed just as any private member is free to move that a particular document be printed. Consequently, there has been no attempt on the part of the Printing Committee to curtail the powers of Parliament. But we do expect that in future no Minister will move that a paper be printed without special reason, unless it has first been referred to that Committee. I am quite satisfied that a vast sum of money will be saved by adopting that course of procedure. We all know that occasionally it is necessary for a Minister to move that a paper be printed in order that he may discuss some important question-
– He gives the House his reasons for doing so.
– Yes. That, however, may be done by moving the printing of a paper which would not involve very much expense, or by submitting a similar motion in regard to a paper which has to be printed. There are papers which have to be printed under an Act of Parliament, and these do not come before the Printing Committee. There are other papers which may be printed under instructions from the heads of Departments without any reference to this House, or to the Government. The Ministerial heads of Departments may see them, or they may not, and the Printing Committee think that under all the circumstances, the only step which it is necessary to take is that which is embodied in the report submitted to the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I desire to ask the
Acting Prime Minister whether it is a fact, as reported in the Age of to-day, that
Federal Ministers have subsidized in a small way Dr. Arthur’s Immigration League, and further, whether that league is responsible for the following advertisement, which. I take it, is being circulated throughout Great Britain : -
For farm hands and domestic servants to Queensland. Assisted passages, very low rates, to Western Australia, the land of sunshine. Two thousand miners and general labourers wanted for New South Wales. For which a limited number of assisted passages is now available. Write or call for full information to John Craigs, authorized Immigration Agent for all the lines, 13 Station-road, Ashington.
I should also like to know whether this money is to be used to import men into already overcrowded industries like that of coal mining? The introduction of coal-mining machinery has been displacing scores of practical miners in New South Wales during the last year or two, and men are now looking for, but cannot get, work. If this money is to be utilized in the way I have indicated, will the Minister see that no attempt is made to bring out immigrants to be placed in industries which are already over-supplied ?
– This matter has been sprung upon me without notice.
– It has been mentioned in the press for two or three days.
– The whole of the question has not been brought before me, nor have I been asked before to take any action.
– I did not know before that Federal money had been used.
– I have not sufficient information in my possession to be able to give a complete answer to-day. I should like the honorable member to give notice of the question for to-morrow, so that I can furnish an answer then, because at present I am not aware how much money, if any, has been spent.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence a question, without notice, and, in explanation, I desire to say that no later than last night he attended a meeting at Lithgow. He was there practically representing the Government, as he was the only Minister who attended, and he spoke in the presence of the Governor-General. He is reported in this morning’s Argus’ to have made use of certain words in the course of his speech, and I simply desire to ask him whether he has been properly reported?
– It was a festive occasion, anyhow.
– If any mistake has been made in the report, it is only right that the Minister should have an opportunity of repudiating the remarks which have been attributed to him. In tm course of his speech, he is reported to have said -
Above all, they should, on all occasions, counsel patience in industrial matters, so that trade catastrophes would be averted. He instanced the good effect -
This is the part of the speech to which I desire to call particular attention - which Mr. W. M. Hughes, M.H.R., had had in connexion with the coal-lumpers’ difficulty, and said more men like Mr. Hughes were needed, and fewer of the Mann and Tillett type, who were bent on propagating ideas which, if realized, would be a disfigurement to the whole Commonwealth.
I ask the Minister to say whether those remarks were uttered by him on the occasion I refer to?
– We all have a great deal of difficulty, at times, in explaining our speeches. I have experienced that difficulty more than once. But it is hardly reasonable that I should be called, upon to explain another person’s speech. In point of fact, I am not called upon to express any opinion or approval of what was said, except the approval of our colleague, Mr. Hughes.
– Colleague ?
– I made no reference to any political question or leaders, or to any industrial matters of any description. I know, however, who did make the statement. I presume that in transmission the statement referred to has been added to my speech as a very excellent peroration. I cannot explain the statement, sir, because I did not make it.
– I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister, without notice, whether, in view of the answer given to my question of the 17th July, concerning the importation of patent medicines, he is prepared to introduce a Bill empowering the Government to compel the importers of patent medicines to have the component parts thereof stated on the label or box?
– The honorable member was kind enough to give me notice of this question, but it reached me rather date to-day. It is a question of considerable importance, and if he will be kind enough to give me notice for to-morrow I shall then give reasons why a promise I made has not been carried out.
– Shall I move the adjournment of the House to-morrow?
– No. I wish to let the honorable member know why the law does not carry out what I expected- it would do. It will be very much better for the honorable member to renew the question tomorrow than for me to give now an answer which might not be complete.
– I desire to ask -he Acting Prime Minister, without notice, whether he will give an opportunity to the new members of this House, as well as of the Senate, to visit the best Capital- Site in New South Wales - and that, of course, is Tooma - before any legislation is attempted in connexion with the decision of the question?
– I should be very glad, indeed - more so, perhaps, than I can express here - if honorable members would investigate the site to which the honorable member has referred. Before I take any action, I wish to know whether there is any strong desire on the part of a reasonable number of honorable members to visit the site. Already an application has been made by a’ number of honorable members to have an opportunity of visiting the Canberra Site.
– And Dalgety?
– That has been agreed to, so far as the Government can assist them, and I should be glad indeed if they would visit the other site to which the honorable member has referred ; but I do not wish to take the initiative, simply because I never like to press anything I desire past a certain point.
– I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether he is aware that the Government of New South Wales think so highly of the Canberra Site for the purposes of the future Federal Capital, that they are prepared to afford every facility to the members of this Parliament to visit it, as I was assured on Friday by the New South Wales Minister of Public Works.
– The honorable member for Hunter says that he dis covered on Friday that the Government of New South Wales are prepared to afford facilities for honorable members to visit the Canberra Site. How can I know that that is so ? I have not seen the Premier or any other member of the Government of New South Wales, and at present have not heard officially whether they are prepared to give the facilities referred to.
WEBB v. OUTTRIM.
– I desire to ask the Attorney-General, without notice, whether he has any objection to printing, for the information of honorable members, the decision of the Privy Council in the case of Webb v. Outtrim?
– I asked that copies of the decision of the High Court in the recent income tax cases should be circulated amongst honorable members, and that, I believe, has been done. The other judgment was a short one, which is contained in the English Law Reports. If it can be made available to honorable members, I shall see that it is printed and distributed.
– I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister, without notice, whether he will communicate with the States Governments, and inquire whether, if the Commonwealth Government should decide to run a Federal line of mail boats, they will give the fleet the first call in the matter of State importations, as Queensland does to-day to the Orient Steamship Navigation Company and New Zealand does to the company that it subsidizes for mail purposes; also, whether he will write to the Government of New Zealand, asking if they will let him know the amount of freight which they pay annually in that way ?
– At the present moment I see no objection to the first part of the honorable member’s question, but I think that it would be very much better to answer an important question of the kind as a whole. Though the honorable member knows my sympathies in regard to the matter, I should like him to give notice of his questions, so that I may be able to answer “them completely.
– I should like to ask the Postmaster-General whether, in vIew of the courtesy which the newspaper offices of Melbourne extend to telephone subscribers in answering questions, with reference to the arrival of vessels in port, he will instruct the officers at the Telegraph Office to give similar information to the public who make inquiries over the telephone? As private firms like the newspaper proprietaries, and especially the Age, have the courtesy to give this information when it is asked for, I do not see why it should not be given to subscribers by public officers, especially on Sundays, when information so given may save people the trouble of coming into the city. I ascertained from the Telephone Exchange when I made such an inquiry recently that they had received orders that they were not to answer such inquiries.
– I ask the honorable member to give notice of his question, but I can assure him that the desire of the Department is to afford every convenience we can to the public. I shall do my best to obtain information with regard to the question to-morrow.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Orders for dress and clothing, Military Forces, embodying amendments made up to 30th June, 1907.
Transfer of amounts under the Audit Acts approved by the Governor-General in Council - Financial year 1906-7 (dated 19th July, 1907).
Provisional Defence Acts Regulations, Military Forces - Nos. 516, 526 amended - Statutory Rules 1907, No. 78.
Notification of the acquisition of land at Singleton, New South Wales, for a rifle range.
Motion (by Mr. Johnson) agreed to -
That the Memorandum of the Conference of Premiers, dated Melbourne, 3rd February, 1899, bearing the signatures of the Premiers of the six federating States, and dealing with the following matters, viz. : -
Representation in the Senate;
The “Braddon” Clause;
The Capital of the Commonwealth;
The Boundaries of the States;
Inland Rivers, Money Bills, and Judicial Appeal from States;
Alteration of Constitution;
The Senate, be printed for information and reference as a Parliamentary Paper.
Return to the foregoing order laid upon the table by the Clerk.
– I move -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act relating to Postal Rates.
I suppose that there is no necessity for me to make a speech at the present stage. I can say what I have to say with regard to the Bill in moving the second reading.
– The Minister may as well do it now, seeing that a similar Bill was rejected last session.
– This measure is on all fours with that which was before the House last session. It relates to postal rates and also proposes to amend the rates for the postage of newspapers. There is a schedule attached to it. It differs but little from the schedule to the last Bill. Honorable members know pretty well the contents of the Bill. The main item relates to penny postage. I take it that the better plan would be to lay the Bill upon the table now, so that honorable members may consider it for a few days, after which they will have an opportunity of discussing it. I have every hope that the House will see its way to pass the measure.
.- I am sorry that the Postmaster-General is so urgent in this matter. We have not yet a uniform postage stamp. The estimated loss amounts to over£300,000 a year. On the question of urgency,nearly every member returned to this House declared himself in favour of the adoption of a system of old-age pensions as an urgent matter of policy. Yet nothing has been done. It is quite right that this Bill should be introduced, but I must express my regret that Ministers are apparently exceedingly anxious to be able to institute penny postage during their term of office rather than to conserve the interests of the old people of Australia. This Bill particularly concerns the commercial community. I admit that the Postmaster-General has manifested his eagerness to afford facilities to the country districts in the matter of the extension of telephonic communication, but at the same time, I must remind him that there are people living in parts of Australia who would willingly pay a shilling on a letter if they could get mails regularly. But they are denied such facilities, and while that is so, it appears to me to be idle to talk about penny postage. This matter was decided last session distinctly against the Governmnent. When the Bill comes before us for its second reading we shall be able to deal with it in detail; but I desire to express the opinion that Ministers would have shown better taste had they conserved the financial interests of the country and proposed to carry out that necessary piece of legislation providing pensions for the aged, which has been promised at the last two general elections.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented and read a first time.
– In moving -
That the Bill be now read a second time,
I desire to remind honorable members in the first place that the power of the Parliament to deal with this question is conferred by section 51 paragraph 111. of the Constitution, which provides that -
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to . . . . 111. Bounties on the production or export of goods, but so that such bounties shall be uniform throughout the Commonwealth, whilst under section 90 it is further provided that -
On the imposition of uniform duties of customs the power of the Parliament to impose duties of customs and of excise, and to grant ^bounties on the production Or export of goods, shall become exclusive. ft will thus be seen that the power to grant bounties on the production or export of goods is vested exclusively in the Parliament of the Commonwealth. The items in the schedule to the Bill, and in respect of which bounties are to be paid, are products the growth and production of which can he encouraged in this way only by the authority of the Parliament of the Commonwealth. This House last year passed a Bill affirming the principle, and sent it on to the Senate, where it was net carried beyond a certain stage. Honorable members are now invited once more, under the measure before us, to indorse the principle. There are various ways in which communities give assistance to the agricultural industries. Bounties have been granted upon the production of -various commodities by Canada, France, Russia, Brazil, Columbia, British India, and various other countries, to which I need not specifically refer.
– Can the honorable and learned gentleman instance a case where a general Bounties Bill has been introduced in a Legislature just prior to the submission of general Tariff resolutions?
– I may not be able to give the honorable member that information ; but I can show that in countries where the policy of protection has been adopted the two systems of protection go side by side.
– Is this Bill intended to go side by side with the Tariff resolutions ?
– The Tariff will deal with proposals of a certain kind. This measure is complete in itself.
– Will the honorable and learned gentleman say that there will be no overlapping?
– I am submitting this Bill on its merits to the House, and shall presently give the reasons why I think it is highly desirable that we should encourage in the way proposed the production of the goods set out in the schedule. The principle of making grants to those who engage in new industries is a well-known one, and has been adopted in various countries, including some of the States of the Commonwealth. The power to grant such encouragement having now passed to the Commonwealth, honorable members are invited to exercise it, and I believe that in the end the adoption of this system will be found of material benefit to the people. When a Bounties Bill was submitted to this House last year the fullest information was circulated with respect to the items to which it related. Since then the Government have thought fit to cause a further investigation to be made with a view of ascertaining wrist products can best be encouraged in this way. A conference of experts representing the States was convened in April last, and the schedule to the Bill presented last year was submitted to it. The members of the Conference were invited to consider the schedule in detail, to comment upon it, to point out omissions, if any, which in their judgment should be made, and also to recommend the addition of any items which they thought should be covered by such a measure. With the exception of one item, this Bill is practically based upon the recommendations made by that Conference. The representatives were as follows : - New
South Wales, Mr. H. V. Jackson ; Victoria, Dr. Cherry ; South Australia, Dr. Holtze; and Western Australia, Mr. J. Dreyer. The Government of Queensland had not an officer available, but the questions put before the Conference were submitted to them, and they very courteously supplied some valuable information, which honorable members will find in a memorandum that has been distributed. The Government of Tasmania was also communicated with, but could not see its way to assist. It will be seen, however, that the matter has been dealt with by the representatives of no less than five of the States. In taking this action, we have anticipated the course of procedure that will be adopted when we have, as I hope we shall have, at no distant date, a Federal Department of Agriculture. The object of such a Department is, not to supersede those of the States, but rather to federalise the great and useful work which each is doing in its respective sphere, and to cause the information so obtained to be scattered throughout the length and breadth of the Continent. In this way, we hope that infinite good may be done wherever the experience of one State can be of assistance to another. We have, to a certain extent, anticipated what would have been done by a Federal Department of Agriculture. Had such- an institution been in existence, the head of it would probably have presided over the Conference, and would have sought, just as the Government have done, the experience of each State regarding the products for which the various soils are adapted, and the most effective means of encouraging their production. It is upon that principle that the Agricultural Bureau of the United States of America, as well as that of Canada, is conducted. As a matter of fact, we are already following in some respects the lines pursued by the United States Department of Agriculture. For instance, the United States Department of Meteorology has an important bearing on agricultural work there. We have already established such a Department, and hope that it will be found of inestimable value to producers, farmers, and stockowners.
– In the United States, the lands belong to the Federal Government.
– Whilst that is so, the United States Government have only a central bureau. Each of the States has its own experimental farms and technical schools for imparting a knowledge of agriculture. In connexion with our statistical branch we are beginning now the compilation of statistics relating to production, importation and exportation. This is a branch of knowledge that is at present being pursued in Canada and the United” States in connexion with the Departments of Agriculture of those countries. Another thing which should be stated is that in the Commonwealth at present we are trying to preserve as far as possible a high quality for the agricultural products of the country under the provisions of the Commerce Act, by means of their inspection. In that direction we are already working upon linesthat must ultimately develop into a Federal Department of Agriculture which will be one of the most useful institutions we can establish.
– They are spending a lot of money on these objects in America, but there they have the land, and are able te* sell land for these purposes.
– It is true that in the United States a very large amount of money is being spent on these objects, but I might mention that in connexion with one particular branch, that of meteorology, by being in a position to give reliable forecasts, the United States Government were able to save in one year in the value of property alone a far greater sum than’ the total cost for the year of running the whole Department of Agriculture. I have nodoubt that- we shall have a similar experience in Australia. This Parliament has the power to grant bounties, and at present we are giving bounties for the production of sugar. In this Bill we are asking Parliament to do all that is possible to assist agricultural production in Australia. The object of the measure is tobring into being new industries which, at the present time, have absolutely no foothold in this Continent, but which, as I think I shall be able to show, are, from their very nature, suitable to Australia. They can be carried on under white labour conditions, and, when established, their products wilt find an ample market within the confines of the Commonwealth, and we hope will’ ultimately be exported to the great benefit of the people engaged in them. We believe that by this system we shall encourageland settlement, and shall be able to induce people who are not engaged in agriculture at the present time to enter upon the cultivation of the land. We also wish to induce those engaged in certain of the agricultural! industries which are more or less profitable to them at the present time to take up the growth of certain agricultural products side by side with those which they are now cultivating, to their great advantage ultimately. That is to say, there is no reason why men who are engaged at present in the cultivation of certain products should not undertake the cultivation of some of those, the growth of which we hope to foster bv this Bill, and, by so doing, greatly add to their material welfare. It will be interesting to honorable members to know just how land settlement stands in Australia at the present time. In this connexion, I have asked the Statistician to prepare certain returns for me showing the possibilities of cultivation in Australia. I am informed that in the State of New South Wales there are 18,000,000 acres of good virgin wheat land, within the 20-inch rainfall belt, at the. present time suitable for agricultural occupation. <
– There are only about 3:1,000,000 acres under agriculture in the whole of Australia at the present time.
– I shall give honorable members the complete figures presently. I am further informed that, with the advantage of a permanent water supply, by means of irrigation, it is very difficult to say how much even of the western districts of New South Wales could not be made fit for agricultural occupation.
– The Government do not propose to give bounties to bring that about.
– I am pointing out to honorable members that there are practically unlimited possibilities for agricultural development in the Commonwealth. In Victoria the lands available for occupation have been classified, and I am informed that in the Mallee districts, country, at present unoccupied to the extent of 6,574,000 acres, might ultimately be made available for settlement. In Queensland the area suitable for agricultural occupation is practically unlimited. Mr. Daniel Jones, of the Queensland Department of Agriculture, writing in a paper entitled Tropical Life, and referring to the land available in Queensland for cotton cultivation, says -
We have 400,000,000 acres of crown lands still unalienated, the half of which may be regarded as suitable for cotton cultivation. Of this a vast area is lightly timbered land within easy reach of rail or water transport, either system being economical in the matter of cost b’y reason of the State ownership of the rail ways, whose traffic managers realize keenly the propriety of so adjusting the railway charges on agricultural produce as to meet the needs of the case.
I am informed that in South Australia there is a stretch of country at least 500 miles long by an average of fifty miles broad, in which agricultural pursuits can be followed. In Western Australia the report of the Royal Commission on Immigration issued in July, 1905, states that there are 21,000,000 acres of Crown lands in the south-west of that State suitable for agricultural purposes. As regards Tasmania, it is well known that the lands of that State are admirably adapted to agriculture, but I have not exact figures as to the quantity of land available there.
– There is a great deal.
– I believe that is so. The present position as regards cultivation in the various States is that in New South Wales the area at present under crop is 2,840,235 acres; the land in fallow being 506,341 acres ; and under permanent artificially-sown grasses, 627,530 acres. The total area under cultivation is 3,974,106 acres, out of a total area of 198,638,080. These figures show that the area under cultivation in New South Wales forms but 2 per cent, of the total area of the State. In Victoria the total area of land is 56,245,760 acres; area under crop, 3,219,962 acres; area in fallow, 1,049,915 ; area under permanent artificially-sown grasses, 1,040,335 acres; area under cultivation, 5,310,212 acres. The percentage under cultivation in Victoria is therefore 9.44 per cent, of the total area. In Queensland the total area1 is 429,120,000 acres; area under crop 522,748; in fallow, 100,239; area under artificially-sown grasses, 40,802 acres; or a total of 663,789 acres under cultivation, which is 0.15 per cent, of the total area of that State. In South Australia the total area is 578,361,600; area under cultivation, 3,368,708, or 0.58 per cent, of the total area. In Western Australia the total area is 624,588,800 acres. There are 472,570 acres under cultivation, the percentage of the total being .08 per cent. In Tasmania the total area is 16,777,600 acres. There are 670,107 acres under cultivation, or 3.99 per cent, of the total area. The total area of the whole Commonwealth under cultivation is .76. These figures show practically the position of our agricultural development at the present time.
– Of what use will it be to offer bounties for the settlement of the land unless the States Governments do something in the matter?
– I believe that most of the States Governments are desirous of throwing land open for settlement. In Queensland, I am glad to say, the Government are taking active steps in that direction ; and during the last twelve months or so the returns have been exceedingly encouraging. But, of course, as the honorable member very properly suggests, in order to get the best results in a matter of this kind, involving land settlement, the Commonwealth and the States should co-operate heartily. Let us exercise the powers which we can exercise, such as the power of granting bounties, and let the States provide liberal land laws and easy methods for the carriage of produce; and then, I believe, we shall get the best possible results. The return to which I have referred will give honorable members an idea of what is being done at the present time. On this great continent we have, in my opinion, as yet only scratched the surface; and the possibilities of expansion are unlimited. There are thousands of acres .which’ are sometimes lightly spoken of as desert land, but which, in years to come, will, I believe, carry a large producing population. It is in the experience of nearly every honorable member that within quite recent years, lands, which were previously condemned, have been put to very profitable uses ; and so, I believe, they will be in the future. But ‘ we must have a progressive policy by which we may promote the opening up of lands and the introduction of suitable people as settlers, and give every possible aid to those willing to engage in production. There is no class in the community that is more deserving of encouragement than the agricultural class. That is a belief on which we on this side, and, I believe, the House as a whole, have always acted, though we may differ as to methods.
– I thought the Melbourne manufacturers were the special care of the Government ?
– The honorable member has limited views as to methods of encouragement ; and I do not desire to anticipate a discussion on the fiscal question. We have a care for all classes in the community. We are all agreed that the agricultural class should receive every possible assistance. Agriculture is, year by year, becoming, more of a scientific pursuit. Every invention and? scientific discovery is being applied moreand more to the purposes of production and those engaged in agriculture are becoming as scientific as others engaged in» manufacture and kindred industries. As a. result, we find that in some universities the authorities have gone so far as to grant degrees and diplomas in> agriculture. Our desire in introducing, this Bill is to assist those who are engaged in that pursuit. We desire, as I said before, to open up certain new industries,, which at present are neglected or have not yet been entered upon. We desire, also,, to encourage those who are settling in the great northern part of the continent to> continue their work, and to do what we can to have those parts occupied by whitepeople. At present, with those northern areas practically unoccupied, Australia isundoubtedly subject to considerable menace .; and the means to be adopted to encourage white settlement there will become an increasingly urgent problem. The Government believe that the bounties offered for products of a tropical nature will be the means of furthering that class of settlement, and so bring on to the northern lands a sturdy race of people, who, in the hour of peril, will stand up in defence of this continent.
– Is the Bill going to bring; about all that?
– I hope the Bill will be found to do so. It takes many streams to make a mighty river, and the Government believe that this Bill represents a stream which will be one of the purest contributions to that river. The Bill, as it was introduced last session, has been modified in several respects. Some of the items included in the previous Bill have been omitted on the recommendation of experts. We have omitted, for example, cocoa, ramie, pandanus, condensed milk, kapok, and colza, sesame, castor, and essential oils.
– Was the item of unsweetened milk considered?
– Yes; the whole of the items were considered, as they appeared inthe previous schedule, and amongst them was sweetened and unsweetened milk.
– It is not referred to in the report.
– But the item was submitted to the experts. The additions in this Bill consist of tobacco of a high grade, copra, palm fruit, dates, mohair, jute, dried or candied fruits ; and combed wool or tops have also been added by the Department. At the present time large quantities of the products mentioned in the schedule, amounting to considerably over £1,000,000, are imported into Australia ; and it is hoped that, following on the passing of the Bill, they will be produced within the Commonwealth. For instance, at the present time, there is imported 1,141,133 lbs. of ginned cotton, of the value of £22,894; flax and hemp to the value of ,£167,281 ; jute to the value of £5,265 ; copra to the value of £175,329; cocoanut oil to the value of £286; cotton seed oil to the value of £4,445 ; linseed oil, to the value of £105,309; linseed to the value of .£5,670 ; and olive oil to the value «f £6,437-
– The bonus on cotton seed oil will be more than double the value of the consumption.
– Yes; but ultimately there will be a wider use for the oil, and it may probably be exported. As to palm fruit I have no figures ; but peanut oil is imported to the value of .£19,513; rice, uncleaned, to the value of £117,910; raw coffee to the value of £46,745 ; tobacco leaf of high grade to the value of £285,106 ; fish preserved in tins or casks, to the value of £340,385 ; dates to the value of £25,018; and dried or candied fruits to the value of £28,730. “These items in themselves exceed £1,000,000 in value, and there are other articles, which, if included, would represent an amount almost double. Honorable members will see, therefore, that there is a very large Australian market which we can capture. If these items are produced in Australia, and we capture the Australian market only, we shall have done a great deal indeed in connexion with the production of material wealth. The first item in the schedule is that of ginned cotton. We know that cotton can be grown, not only in the State of Queensland, and in the Northern Territory, but also throughout many parts of New South .Wales. Cotton has even been produced experimentally as far south as the River Murray, but I do not know to what extent successfully I am not prepared to say whether it can be grown for marketable purposes so far south, but, beyond do”t>t, we have in Aus tralia a practically unlimited area capable of growing the very best quality of cotton. Reports that have been obtained from the old country and from the Continent upon Queensland cotton - because it is in Queensland that the production of cotton has been mostly undertaken lately - have been of the most eulogistic character. For the last four or five years, the cotton industry has been receiving, increased attention in Queensland. The supply of cotton is becoming a very serious question from an Imperial aspect, and the cotton people in the old country have been looking abroad for new sources of supply. They have looked to Queensland. The Cotton-Growers’ Association have had a representative there, and I am glad to say that there has been a recent and continual expansion of the industry in our State. In 1904 there were only 30 acres under cultivation for cotton in Queensland. In 1905, the area increased to 171 acres, and at present there are over 500 acres.
– Has the honorable gentleman the figures as to the original planting of cotton some forty or fifty years ago?
– I can give those figures. There was a considerable area planted away back in the sixties.
– There was never a large area under crop in Queensland.
– Relatively speaking, there was a fairly large area.
– There was cotton grown on the Logan when I was there forty years ago.
– Why are they not growing it now ?
– For certain local reasons, which I need not go into, cotton growing was abandoned in Queensland, but there is every prospect in that State now of a revival of the industry, especially if we encourage it by the very moderate bounty proposed in this Bill. Recently, the Queensland Government erected a ginning plant. The cotton was tested, and came out remarkably well. Messrs. J. Kitchen and Sons have now started a ginning plant in Brisbane, and are doing the ginning as a’ matter of private enterprise. I also see by a recent paragraph in a newspaper that Messrs. Joyce Brothers, of Sydney, have purchased the Queensland Cotton Mills. I think the honorable member for Brisbane can tell honorable members that there was turned out formerly from those mills a cotton fabric of a quality equal to anything that has ever been imported to this continent. There were certain conditions connected with the working of the industry in those days which caused that mill to close. The cause was not the impossibility of growing the cotton, but certain conditions to which I do not wish to refer at this stage. All I desire to show honorable members at present is that the cotton industry in Queensland is now beginning to grow. The evidence I have in my hand shows that the Conference, in making the very modest report which they have made, have hardly done justice to Queensland cotton production. Honorable members, if they look at that report, will see that the Conference do not speak of the industry there with that degree of confidence which I think the facts absolutely warrant. There will be found in the report an excellent article by Mr. Jones, of the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Stock. The most encouraging feature of Mr. Jones’ statements - a feature which will be of great value to New South Wales, as well as Queensland - is that in the western parts of Queensland cotton promises to flourish. The chief advantage of cotton in the western parts of Queensland over wheat and other products is that, in the words of Mr. Jones, “ it is a dependable product.” Cotton can resist drought better than any other plant which flourishes in the west of Queensland. That is the great value of it. Mr. Jones’ report appeared in the Brisbane Courier of 13th March of this year. I will read one paragraph from it -
My investigations indicate conclusively that in cotton we have a valuable asset by reason of its simple cultivation, its short period of maturity, its hardihood in its ability to stand drought, its high value, which permits its transport for long distances without materially adding to the cost of production. These advantages make it a safer crop to depend upon than any other that I have observed in cultivation in these districts. The quality of the staple examined was, in both varieties of Sea Island and Upland, well up to the standard of their respective types. I feel assured that when the merits of this crop are realized, a large influx of settlers will be drawn to these fertile and cheap lands, which are also easily accessible to the railway.
Then, speaking of the fibres from the western part of Queensland, and indicating that it was quite possible that cotton might displace wheat, Mr. Jones says -
The quality of the fibre showing is in every respect equal to the high standard of quality characteristic of Queensland cotton. A feature of the cotton crop is its hardihood under drought conditions, thus the inland districts here referred to will suit this crop extremely well.
Any one who studies the map of Australia, and considers the large areas which have a less reliable rainfall than the coastal districts, can realize what it would mean to this continent from the point of view of closer settlement if those large areas, including the western parts of Queensland, could be successfully brought under cotton cultivation. The cotton which is being grown in Queensland at present is being grown not in large areas, but as a sort of subsidiary crop. Let honorable members think what it would mean to the men away in western Queensland if the wheat crop failed, and if there were returns coming in from cotton grown alongside it. The evidence shows that there is a trend of agricultural settlement out towards the west, and if we can only relieve the hardships of those engaged in pioneering by giving them bounties which will encourage them to grow crops that must be profitable to them, we shall be doing them a good turn.
– Did not the State of Queensland give a bounty for the production of cotton?
– It did many years ago, but certain local troubles caused the decline of the industry. The conditions today, however, are quite different from those of many years ago. In those days the growers in Queensland had to face great difficulties in the way of getting their goods to market. They could not utilize the byproducts. When the Civil War broke out in America, the exceptionallyhigh prices of cotton gave them a great advantage, but when the war was over the difficulties of shipping long distances, of financing the industry, and getting cash returns, as well as other difficulties to which I do not wish to refer, caused the crop to decline.
– Did not the price of cotton fall to a very low rate about 1870?
– As soon as the AmericanCivil War ceased the price of cotton declined.
– The price fell to normal.
– It fell a long way below normal.
– In spite of what happened then, the experience in Queensland is that cotton is undoubtedly a good paving crop, and I would ask honorable members to study the figures given on page 6 of the report of the Conference.
– It pays so well that they do not produce any.
– The honorable member is making a statement which is not correct. I have already shown that the tendency in Queensland is towards increased production.
– Men are making about £9 per acre from cotton this year.
– Here is a case reported in the Brisbane Courier -
COTTON AT MACKAY.
A local firm has received information that a farmer in the Mackay district has obtained 11 cwt. of cotton from a small area, the yield turning out at the rate of 1,368 lbs. to the acre. This would give a return of£8 11s. per acre - “ which pays better than cane,” the farmer says in his letter. The varieties grown were Sea Island and Upland, and the farmer is so satisfied with his returns that he proposes to plant more land.
– Has that man a large family of children to help him to pick the cotton ?
– Fortunately, the average farmer in Australia has a large family, and our experience is that that is the way cotton is picked in Queensland. If, as the honorable member for Hunter believes, the granting of bounties to cotton will have the effect of increasing the size of families, he will be indirectly doing a good thing for Australia by voting for this Bill. Mr. Donaldson, the Queensland manager for Messrs. Kitchen and Sons, in an interview, gives his opinion, as follows -
I think, of course, that to develop the industry and to encourage those who have ventured into it to greater efforts a small Federal bonus is necessary. Once the cotton is produced there is no difficulty in disposing of it in Australia. We do not need to send it to England. At present we are sending the seed to Melbourne to be pressed and used in the making of soap. The cotton seed cake is used for cattle. The fibre is rapidly sold in connexion with the flannelette and other industries in Australia and New Zealand. When we have supplied - as we shall not for many years - our own market there is the great Japanese market at our doors. Japan imported 151,000,000 lbs. of cotton in one very recent half year.
Honorable members will, therefore, see that there are immense potentialities in cotton growing. If this bounty is granted we shall, I am sure, greatly promote that industry, and do much good for the continent of Australia. There are also proposals to grant bounties on the production of fibres, such as New Zealand flax, hemp, jute, and sisal hemp. We are importing large quantities of flax at present from
New Zealand. The imports to Australia of flax and hemp together amounted to £167,281 in 1906. That does not include the figures for the importation of linseed oil. There are many parts of Australia where New Zealand flax could be grown to advantage. The Conference, in their report, stated that in Western Australia success has attended its experimental cultivation in the coastal country south of Fremantle, and it is believed that it will thrive there. It has been successfully grown experimentally in Queensland, and there is everypossibility, by a proper system of encouragement, of its cultivation being further increased. There is at present a limited amount of cultivation of flax in the Commonwealth, but it bears a very small proportion to the possibilities of the continent. Its cultivation is well within the reach of farmers of all the States in districts possessing a fair average rainfall. I notice in the Agricultural Gazette of New South Wales of March last, an interesting article on the subjectby Mr. J. Lintott Taylor, who refers to the great possibilities of this industry in Australia, and quotes letters from the firm of Messrs. J. Miller and Co., of Melbourne, showing the great market there is in Australia both for linseed and flax fibre. It is, therefore, a profitable crop, for which there is a market here.
– Why do the farmers not grow it?
– Simply because the at-‘ tention of a great many of the farmers has not been properly directed to it.
– Lectures on the subject have been given for years.
– In a few places they have, but in others they have not. We believe, however, that by a system of bounties the attention of cultivators is drawn towards the possibilities of particular articles. In concurrently distributing information about their production,we believe that we shall be drawing the attention of farmers to them, and that the farmers will undertake the growing of them.
– Does not the honorable gentleman think that Agricultural Colleges would be a better means of circulating that information ?
– Agricultural Colleges are valuable aids, but, after all, they only influence those pupils who pass through them.
– Those pupils ultimately become farmers.
– At the same time, there are thousands of men engaged in agriculture who do not come under the influence of Agricultural Colleges. By offering a system of bounties such as this we induce those men to turn their attention to the cultivation of these products; and if they read these reports, which are prepared by experts, they will see that it is greatly to their advantage to enter upon new forms of cultivation. Particular emphasis is laid by the experts on the cultivation of jute. They point out in their report the difficulty that agriculturists are faced with at present through the high price of bags.
– That is through the protective duty imposed by the honorable gentleman’s Government.
– There is no duty on jute.
– On this subject the Conference reports -
It was the unanimous opinion of the Conference that the cultivation of certain fibres is worthy of the most, generous encouragement. Prominence was given to the matter of jute production. As the raw material of which bags are made, the question of jute supply vitally affects most producing interests in the Commonwealth. The recent heavy increase in the price of all bags and sacks has caused some disquietude amongst farmers who are naturally concerned when they find the price of the bag holding their wheat equal to an impost of 2d. per bushel.
They draw attention in their report to the tremendous demand for articles made from jute, and point out that the plant will grow readily over all the moister portions of northern Australia. Experiments indicate that the soil and climate of Queensland are suitable for the cultivation of this fibre.
– Experts say that the plants which have been referred to by the Minister will grow in most parts of Australia.
-It has been estimated that if the growing of jute is undertaken by our farmers there will be a clear net return of £fi 15s. per acre.
– - If white labour is employed ?
– Then why is it not grown now ?
– I have already replied to interjections of that kind. Would the honorable member ask in Tasmania, “ What is the use of our Department of Agriculture?” Would he question the advisability of appointing commercial agents abroad ? Although a farmer may be working day and night, and doing everything that he knows of to obtain the best results from his labour, his land is often situated at a great distance from cities, so that he cannot afford the time or expense of visiting his local market in Brisbane, Sydney, or Melbourne, and is without means of ascertaining the conditions of the markets in the old country to which his produce is sent. Does the honorable member ask, “ Why give such a man assistance by State interference? Why not let him alone, allowing him perfect freedom of action? “
– My experience is that the farmers know what crops pay best, and grow them.
– Most farmers are so engrossed in the immediate labour of cultivation that they must have a very limited range of action unless the State, through its Department of Agriculture, by the visits of its experts, and the publication of its. gazettes, gives them the fullest information on the subjects in which they are interested, and offers them every legitimate encouragement to attempt new methods and to grow new crops.
– The work of the Agricultural Departments is of more importance than the giving of bounties, though in saying that, I do not speak against the Bill.
– I am with the honorable member in believing that the establishment of a Commonwealth Department of Agriculture is necessary, and I hope that such a Department will be established.
– Do the Agricultural Departments of the States give financial assistance to the farmers?
– No. The States, through their Departments of Agriculture, are doing all that they can for their producers ; but they cannot encourage new productions by offering bounties, and therefore this Bill has been introduced. We hope to have their co-operation in it’s administration just as we have had it in the preparation of the schedule. It is highly probable that sisal hemp will be extensively grown in the Commonwealth. At present there are between 300 and 400 acres under this crop in Queensland, though only one of the larger plantations is sufficiently advanced to allow of the manufacture of fibre from the hemp. This fibre is used in the making of ropes, binder twine, and similar manufactures, and the Queensland experience shows that fibre of the best quality can be grown in the Commonwealth, and with profitable results. The industry is therefore deserving of encouragement. The Conference points out that we should do all we can to encourage the breeding of angora goats within the Commonwealth, with a view to the production of mohair. It reports that in parts of Australia, where the soil is not adapted for sheep raising or for agriculture, the angora can be profitably bred, the animal prospering under what for sheep would be adverse conditions, and its fondness for scrub being a strong point in its favour.
– Angoras have been tried in Tasmania for the last twenty-five years, and have done very well.
– I am glad to hear that. They are beginning to do well in Queensland, too. I hope that the g’anting of a bounty for the production of mohair will stimulate this industry to still greater success. ‘Bounties are offered to encourage the manufacture of oil from copra, cotton seed, linseed, olives, palm fruit, peanuts, and sunflower seed. Rice has been included in the schedule, on the recommendation of the Conference, it being thought that very large areas in Queensland and in the Northern Territory could profitably be devoted to the cultivation of that plant.
– Can rice be profitably grown by white labour?
– Yes. In a recent work, published in the United States, and entitled The New Agriculture, it is stated that in that country vast areas are being brought under rice by entirely new methods.
– Is not the industry only in the experimental stage in the United States ?
– No; it has gone far beyond that stage.
– Is rice grown in the United States outside the black belt?
– I refer the honorable member to the passage in the book in which the operations are described. The House knows that the market for rubber is an expanding one, and that, although chemists have been trying to invent substitutes for rubber, they have not yet succeeded in doing so. Rubber trees will grow well in many ‘parts of Northern Queensland and in the Northern Territory ; they are, in fact indigenous in the Territory. The Conference was, therefore, of opinion that there are great possibilities before the rubber industry in the Northern Territory. A bounty for the production of coffee is again proposed. The report of the Conference in regard to the coffee industry is not as encouraging as it might be, but a bounty upon the production of coffee is recommended. Mr. Howard Newport, the Queensland Instructor in tropical agriculture, says, in his report for 1905-6 -
That coffee culture, even as an auxiliary product, pays well is shown beyond all doubt. In many instances it pays in spite of neglect and but meagre attention in the matter of even weeding, and is a standing indication of what it would do with due and reasonable attention.
– It is a question of quality.
– Yes. Mr. Newport points out -
The average price last season was between 65s. and 80s. per cwt., which is very fair. In some cases, mostly for private sales - i.e., to retailers - and in small quantities, picked coffee samples obtained as much as 96s. to 112s. Seeing or hearing of such sales, the ordinary grower is still very apt to lose sight of the fact that qualities in coffee differ very materially, and that a little carelessness in ‘ preparation often makes a great difference in price, and to blame everything but the obvious cause of his own coffee not obtaining top prices.
We propose a bounty of id. per lb. on the production of coffee. The Conference recommends a bounty for the production of high-grade tobacco. The Queensland tobacco expert considers that State very suitable, so far as the three main types of highgrade tobacco, namely, wrappers for plugs, wrappers for cigars, and bright or aromatic tobacco, are concerned. There are, indeed, in Australia large areas suitable for the growing of the best kinds of tobacco. Mr. Neville, the Queensland expert, says -
I consider the outlook for the future of the tobacco industry in this State as most promising, and, if farmers can be induced to take the necessary care, both in cultivation and handling, we will gradually displace much of the imported article.
I have referred to the large importation of high-grade tobacco. The Government think that by the giving of a bounty, our farmers will be induced to cultivate this grade of tobacco, and that in time the locally-grown product will meet the Australian demand.
– The duty killed the tobacco industry in my district.
– In Queensland it was the want of a proper duty that injured the industry. But, at the same time, we have here the possibility of an industry, and n”* doubt we can produce a quality of lear equal to the very best with a profit to ourselves. As regards fish, our proposal is the same as that which was submitted last year. The Conference strongly recommend its adoption. It has been pointed out that it would be a great advantage to Australia from a naval point of view, if we had a large population engaged in fishing pursuits. In all other civilised countries every possible encouragement is given to such persons. We have already appropriated a sum of ^8,000 for the provision of a trawler to go round and examine different parts of the Australian coast in order to ascertain the value of our fisheries. The project is well advanced, and if tenders have not already been called for the construction of the trawler they will shortly be invited. When fresh fisheries are discovered, wc wish them to be utilized, and we feel that by offering a bounty for the production of tinned fish, we shall be able to give employment to a very large maritime population.
– There is a fair duty levied on fish.
– Yes; but apparently it is not sufficient to encourage persons to embark upon the industry. We believe that when we have discovered new sources of supply, and also offered a bounty, men will, engage in what we are confident will ultimately prove to be a very profitable undertaking. If honorable members will refer to the report of the Conference, they will see that’ a large number of persons are employed in fishing pursuits in various parts of the world, but in Australia the number of such persons is very few indeed. In time to come we shall want a strong naval reserve, and if we have a number of fishermen we shall have the best possible source of supply. In Queensland, fishermen have been successfully trained for the purposes of naval defence. They have been set to practical work on the gun-boats, and have been found to be exceedingly efficient. We believe therefore that it is highly desirable to encourage the fishing industry. Dates are not produced to any great extent in the Commonwealth. Date palms will thrive in the western parts of Queensland and New South Wales. The palms which have been planted are doing very well, and the report shows that when once the industry is established it will “become very profitable.
– Where are date palms being grown to any extent in Queensland?
– There are date palms at Barcaldine, and in parts of southern Queensland.
– I know Barcaldine very well.
– Then the honorable member will confirm the information that the palms there have yielded as many as eight bunches per tree, and that each bunch usually carries 200 dates. We are informed that date palms do particularly well in the west, that, so far, the production has not yet reached the commercial stage, and that if the industry were undertaken the net return per acre would amount to £100 clear.
– Then the growers ought not to want much bounty.
– How many years is allowed for a date palm to bear?
– From ten to twelve years. Of course, those who entertain the same feeling towards posterity as does the honorable member, know very well that it is highly desirable that we should look to the future, and try to secure now, if we can, the planting of date palms, so that those who come after us may reap the benefit of our labours, just as we are reaping the benefit of the labours of those who preceded us.
– A pear tree takes from ten to twelve years before it bears.
– In Tasmania I believe an apple tree takes seven or eight years before it bears.
– About eight years.
– I think that the growers will have to go in for something more profitable than that.
– The Conference also recommend a bounty on dried and candied fruits. Currants and raisins have not been included because we found that at the present time there is rather a profitable export of raisins taking place. The returns show that we are succeeding now in getting more raisins put on to the English market. I have the returns which I can give honorable members at a later stage if they should so desire.
– We have not exploited the Australian market yet.
– As regards currants and raisins I think we have pretty well cap-: tured the Australian market, and we are now exporting large quantities of raisins. In 1906 the export of raisins amounted to 3,152,000 lbs., so that honorable members will see that the industry is on a wellestablished basis. The last bounty that is recommended is one on combed wool or tops, which are exported.
– Does anybody make tops here ?
– Yes, they are being made in Australia.
– By only one man.
– At the present time tops for worsted yarn are being made by several manufacturers of woollen goods at Melbourne, Ballarat, and Geelong in Victoria, and at Sydney in New South Wales. The consumption in Australia is about 15,000,000 lbs., and the output of the combs is estimated at about 1,560,000 lbs. But it is believed by the authorities who have advised us that the industry can be successfully undertaken here. They say that-
The factors in favour of making tops in Australia are -
By treating the wool whilst fresh, and avoiding the hard pressing of wool (which causes deterioration) a better product will be obtained.
The climate and the quality of water available are much in favour.
The uncertainty (as to yield and quality) in buying will, to a great extent, be overcome ; instead of purchasing thousands of bales, and having to wait months for the result, tests can be made and the buyers’ judgment supported from time to time. This would commend itself to all firms buying in Australia, and if an up-to-date works were erected, would be much availed of by buyers.
Contracts for supply of a standard article would be easier to negotiate, thus regulating the market.
Saving in freight.
The favorable position to secure Eastern markets.
The local trade in manufacturing cloth that might be developed as a result of the establishment of large topmaking establishments from which spinners and weavers could draw supplies more economically than manufacturing themselves in a small way.
If honorable members will turn to page 38 of the report of the Conference, they will see that the advantages and disadvantages are reduced to a “pence” basis in the following table: -
The temporary disadvantages are 4d. per lb., whilst the permanent disadvantages are1½d. per lb., as against, to our credit, 2d. per lb. Honorable members, if they will read the report, will see that by the establishment of the industry we shall be able to do a great deal to assist the woolgrowing industry, give employment to hundreds of men, and in various ways gradually add to the national wealth. In addition to those items the Conference refer to two matters in respect of which they do not recommend a bounty, but which we consider to be of such great importance that they should be brought under the notice of Parliament. The Conference presented two reports, one dealing with afforestation, and the other dealing with the export of flour. In the former report, they draw pointed attention to the necessity of developing various departments of forestry. They refer to the absolute need for each State to conserve its forests, and provide for future requirements, especially in connexion with soft woods. They could not see their way to recommend any bounties, but they passed the following resolution -
We are strongly impressed with the urgent necessity for effective action to conserve the timber resources of Australia, and to make provision for future requirements. We believe that much might be done by action on the part of Slates Governments adapted to the needs of their respective States.
In view of the terms of the Constitution the matter is respectfully submitted for consideration by the Commonwealth Government.
In this report, it is pointed out that, as an exporting country, Australia will in the future require more and more casing, and that for building purposes an increasing demand will be made upon our soft timbers. At the present time we are denuding our forests without adequately attempting to provide for the needs of those who are to come after us. If our industries continue to expand as they are doing at the present time, a serious difficulty will arise in the years to come as to where our soft timbers are to be obtained. We know from experiments made by the Forestry Department that our forests are capable of being restored very quickly. The plantation near Ballarat, and the experiments which have been conducted in South Australia, demonstrate that. But what is necessary is that some intelligent progressive action should be taken in connexion with the timbers of Australia by way of conserving them, and of establishing a proper system of planting with a view to insuring future supplies. Another matter to which reference is made by the Conference is the export of flour. The document which I hold in my hand states -
The Conference begs to direct the attention of the Government to the national loss involved in the continued export of whole wheat from Australia, and urges that inquiry be made with a view of devising, should the evidence justify the step, means whereby the export of flour may be stimulated.
They point out that by exporting flour as we are doing we are involving ourselves in serious loss. The report states -
In the first place . the phosphoric acid absorbed from the soil by the wheat plant is located almost entirely in the husk of the wheat grain. Seven-ninths of the total phosphates are found in the bran and pollard, the flour containing the other two-ninths. The export of flour instead of whole wheat would therefore mean . that the bulk of the phosphoric acid in the raw material remains in the country, and in one way or other ultimately finds its way back into the soil.
The report declares that the average annual loss to the Commonwealth from this source during the past four years has amounted to at least £125,000. The Conference further affirms that under our present system we are losing two alternative supplies of food for stock. This is a matter which requires careful consideration, but it is recognised that at the present stage nothing further can be done in connexion with it. As regards the provisions of the Bill itself, I ask honorable members to examine the way in which we propose that the bounties shall be allocated. The measure provides that, for the purposes of paying bounties upon the items enumerated in the schedule, the sum of .£530,000 shall be appropriated. That is the total expenditure to which we are limited, and it is intended to cover a period of fifteen years. The bounties are to be payable upon the production of goods specified in the schedule. Honorable members will find the rates of the bounties clearly set out in the third column of the first schedule. As far as possible the bounties are to be payable to the growers and producers, and regulations will be framed under the Act to secure this object.
– We are to have no more of the methods adopted in connexion with the payment of the butter bonus in Victoria ?
– No. The manufacturers of dried and candied fruits, who in most instances are the growers themselves, wil1 constitute one exception to the rule, that t’.ie bounties are to be payable only to the producers.
– In very few instances are the manufacturers of dried and candied fruit the growers of it.
– I am informed that many, families are engaged in the manufacture of dried fruit. I repeat that the manufacturers of dried and candied fruits, those persons who are engaged in the tinning of fish, and in the manufacture of combed wool or tops, will provide the only exceptions to the rule that the bounties are to be payable to the producers or growers. The maximum amount of the bounties payable in respect of the various articles is set out in the first schedule of the Bill. Of course, we recognise that in no one year will the maximum in all articles, be required. Power is conferred by the Bill to vary by regulation the maximum so as to enable the requisite sum to be paid for the production of any particular article. If the claims for the payment of bounties grow so rapidly as to absorb more than the amount fixed for the purpose, there is power by regulation to reduce the rates of bounty. The conditions sur- rounding the payment of bounties are set out in clause 4. That clause provides -
The bounties under this Act shall be payable in respect of goods which -
are, in the opinion of the Minister, of a merchantable quality, or, in the case of food-stuffs, are of the prescribed quality, and
have been grown or produced in not less than the prescribed quantity and subject to the prescribed conditions, and
have been grown or produced by white labour only.
Provided that the employment of any aboriginal native of Australia in the productionof the goods shall not prejudice the claim to bounty in respect thereof.
Where labour is employed, the minimum rate of wage must be paid - as in the case of the sugar bounty - except so far as regards the members of a family. The provision relating to this matter reads -
Every grower or producer who claims a bounty under this Act shall specify the rates of wages paid in respect of the labour employed by him, other than the labour of members of his family, in growing or producing the goods, and the Minister, if he is of opinion that the rates so paid are below the standard rates paid in the place or district in which the goods are grown or produced, may withhold the whole or any part of the bounty payable.
Penalties are provided for breaches of the Act, and the Governor-General is given power to make the necessary regulations. This scheme of bounties is one which has not been settled hurriedly. The particular items were very freely discussed in the House last year. At that time the Department of Trade and Customs went to a great deal of trouble to procure the necessary information. The items enumerated in the schedule have been again inquired into most closely by the experts of the States, and I appeal to honorable members to pass this Bill in the form in which it is presented, in the confident belief that if they do so they will greatly assist in the production of new forms of wealth in the Commonwealth.
– At this stage I wish to ask the Minister to assent to the adjournment of the debate for some days.
– The memorandum relating to the items included in the Bill was circulated for the information of honorable members some time ago.
– May I submit that to-day the Minister has touched upon a good many matters which are not referred to in the memorandum in question.
– Will the honorable member proceed with the discussion upon this Bill, or would he prefer that the consideration of the Quarantine Bill should be resumed?
– Is that the only alternative? After a recess extending over nine months is there nothing else upon the business paper with which the Ministry are prepared to proceed, save the Bounties Bill and the Quarantine Bill?
– Let us adjourn.
– In view of the state of public business, I think that the suggestion of the honorable member for Yarra is the most sensible one of which I have heard. But in all seriousness I do ask the Minister, in view of the speech which he has just delivered - a speech which was full of interest, and which traversed ground that has not previously been trodden - and of the great importance of this matter, to consent to an adjournment of the debate for a reasonable period. I submit that the adoption of that course is usual in such circumstances. If the Minister declines, I must proceed, but it is most unfair,in view of the lengthy statement of the honorable gentleman to-day. But one understands how bankrupt this Ministry are when, after cogitating over these measures a whole nine months, it seems that they have no real solid business with which to proceed. And that leads me to make my first remark with regard to this Bounties Bill. It is to suggest to the Government in all seriousness, that the Bill should not be proceeded with at present pending the passage of their Tariff through this House, or at least pending the consideration of the Tariff by honorable members in connexion with the proposal for granting bounties. It is possible that there may be no need for some of the items in this Bounties Bill after the Tariff has been considered by the House. Is the Government prepared to say that they do not propose to deal in their Tariff with any of the items contained in this Bill?
– The Government surely would not answer that question one way; or the other.
– I hope my honorable friend knows all about it.
– The honorable member must know that what I say is reasonable.
– I am quite sure that I do not.
– The honorable member knows that the Government would not be so mad, or so stupid, as to answer the question he has put to them.
– I am suggesting that they are doing a very mad and stupid thing in proceeding with a Bill like this, apart from general proposals with regard to the industries of Australia.
– The suggestion was that they should disclose what they intend with regard to the items in the Tariff.
– It is a fair inference, I think, that since they are proposing to deal with certain items in this Bill, they do not propose to give them special treatment in the Tariff. Take the case of dried fruits. Is the duty on dried fruits to be increased or decreased in the Tariff? Is it proposed to increase or decrease duties for the benefit of the valuable industries mentioned by the Minister, or is this an alternative method of giving them further stimulation? We do not know. Ministers, says the honorable member for Laanecoorie, would not be so mad or so stupid as to let us know clearly what they propose to do. But why should not we ask for a postponement of this matter until we know what they are going to propose in their Tariff with regard to the items mentioned in the Bill? Who can say that the discussion of the Tariff may not reveal a method of proceeding by bounty instead of by Customs duties with regard to many of the items? I take it that when we are discussing the Tariff the whole question of stimulating our industries will be brought under review; and if it be found that the efforts of the House so far, by increase of duties, have not had the effect of stimulating Australian industries as it was thought they would do, it might be a fair proposal to make that instead of proceeding by way of duty, we should proceed further by way of bounty. These things dovetail into each other inextricably in some cases. I venture to suggest that the Minister is not able to point to any country in the world where, just on the eve of the introduction of important fiscal proposals in the way of complete Tariff revision, a Bounties Bill such as this has been thrown upon the table of Parliament, to be debated in total ignorance of what the other proposals of the Government are. Therefore, I ask the Government to postpone the consideration of this measure until we know exactly what their whole policy is - until we can say how far these proposals do dovetail with or curtail, or- in any way interfere with, their general proposals with regard to Australian industries. We are to proceed in the dark it seems, and any suggestion for a little light on the matter - for a little reason - is characterised byone of their devoted followers as silly and stupid. I hope that my honorable friend did not mean that, because if he did he will allow me to say that the interjection was a very silly and stupid one to make. Does the honorable member mean to say that it is stupid to ask for information concerning the intentions of the Government? In connexion with the important industry of dried fruits alone, it may very well be that there will be further proposals in the Tariff schedule. If that Le so, we ought to have from the Government the whole of the information which is at present locked up in the safe and sacred repository of their minds, and is not vouchsafed to us on the floor of this Chamber. Again, I strongly urge the deferment of the subject until the Tariff has been placed before honorable members so that they may consider the subject as a whole and not proceed in the ignorant way in which we are now compelled to proceed, without complete information regarding the mind of the Government on these subjects.
– How is the Tariff likely to affect these proposed bounties?
– I pointed outprobably before the ‘honorable member came into the chamber - that it is just conceivable that the consideration of trie Tariff as a whole may reveal many items as to which it might be considered better to proceed by way of bounty than by Customs duties. I instanced dried fruits - an item included in this Bounties Bill. The question will arise whether there is any need for a bounty at all on dried fruits. The Minister has told us that the Commonwealth is already producing 3,000,000 lbs. per annum, and we are exporting considerable quantities. On the other hand, it is a fact that we are importing intoAustralia over 4,000,000 lbs. per annum. If that be so, the whole subject ought to be brought under consideration when we are dealing with the industry as a whole in connexion with the Tariff schedule ; or at least the Minister should “ say, -if that is not to be, what has influenced the Government in submitting this proposal’ . - whether this is the whole of the encouragement that it is proposed to give to the industry, or whether something remains behind in connexion with the Tariff schedule. Taking the matter broadly, it is a fair thing to ask the Government to postpone consideration of these bounty proposals until the Tariff is at least placed before the House. Again, I hold very, strongly that the Minister has given us another reason for asking for the postponement of the matter not merely for a week or two, or until the Tariff shall have been submitted, but until an agricultural bureau has been set up - an educational institution which shall supply the requisite knowledge of these and allied industries, and so make the payment of bounties a measure that will be entered upon with some reasonable prospect of success.
– Surely the honorable member has confidence in the States Departments of Agriculture?
– I confess that my confidence is beginning to slacken since hearing some of the reports which the Minister has read this afternoon. May I remind him of the statement which he made regarding flour - that one reason that is given as to why we should not export wheat from Australia to be manufactured into flour abroad was, that the offals that remained in Australia would find their way into the soil again. Bran and pollard, I believe, are the things to which he alluded. But I venture to say that the fact that those things remained in Australia would not, by the very indirect method in which’ they would perforce find their way back into the soil, make either the soil or the’ people very much richer or very much poorer. The reason given by the Minister as to why condensed milk is no longer included in the schedule was because milk may be made into butter and exported in that form. I understand the reason given to be that the making of condensed milk interferes to some extent with the dairy farmers of Australia. Could anything be more absurd? Is not condensed milk made out of that produced by the dairy farmer’s cows? If these are the representations which the Minister has received, and is acting upon, we have the best of reasons for postponing the further consideration of the Bill until we have set up a highly trained scientific institution which shall be able to advise us upon tropical industries and matters relating to general agriculture in Australia. I know one or two of the experts who have advised the Minister, and have not a word to say against their ability or calibre. I submit, however, that some of them have not the knowledge which ought to be, and must be, pressed into the service of these most important undertakings, if they are ever to be of lasting benefit to the people of Australia.
– Should we get much better experts if we had a Federal Bureau of Agriculture?
– I see no reason why we should not. There is surely obtainable better talent than that of some of the gentlemen who have been advising, the Minister, and nothing should prevent us from securing the best in the world before we - embark upon these new enterprises, so important to the people of Australia. The interjection made by the honorable member for South Sydney leads me to remind him of the failures which, so far, have characterized all our efforts in this direction. That consideration is allimportant. Where have we in Australia to-day an instance of beneficial results attending the payment of bounties?
– There is the butter industry.
– I know that the people of Victoria claim that the butter industry in this State was benefited bv the system, but I have not sufficient knowledge to enable me to express are opinion on the point. Allowing, however, that we have an exception in that case, where have we in Australia another proof of the assertion that the system can be successfully adopted in Australia? We have the failures associated with the application of that principle to the Maffra sugar-beet industry in Victoria, the cotton industry in Queensland,’ and, I believe, vine culture in South Australia. Attempts have been made before to-day .to stimulate these industries, and they point to the inadvisableness of proceeding on the lines proposed by this Bill. If they have a lesson at all to teach us, that is the moral they convey. We might just as well throw this £500,000 into the sea unless we decide that it shall be distributed with the greatest circumspection, and that we shall secure the greatest degree of skill that we can press into our service. As was pointed out when the Bounties Bill was under consideration last year, if men who have not the requisite skill are induced to embark upon these enterprises, far more harm than good will be done. The honorable member for Gippsland in the last Parliament, Mr. Allan McLean, pointed out that a bad farmerexhausts not merely himself, but the soil that he tills, and leaves matters very much worse than they were before. In such circumstances, therefore, before we induce people to embark in these enterprises, we should be able to convey to them the requisite instruction and education; we should be able to provide them with information as to the kind of seed to sow, the best areas in which to sow it, and all the minutiae concerning the cultivation of the tropical products with which this measure -deals.
– Excellent articles relating to the cultivation of one or two of the products dealt with in this Bill have appeared in some of the journals of New South Wales.
– I hope that the honorable and learned gentleman is not so foolish as to attach too much importance to a’ stray article in a magazine.
– I am referring to articles which have appeared in an official publication.
– Although I know very little of tropical agriculture, I <3o not hesitate to say that I could write some interesting articles on the subject. We must not run away with the idea that a.n article in a magazine is a final settlement of any question.
– An official article in an official magazine, published by the State of New South Wales, is worthy of some consideration.
– When the honorable member for Parramatta was a member of a New South Wales Administration he thought that journal an excellent one.
– Ah article appearing in such a publication is worthy of consideration, but I have yet to learn that, in the absence of further skilled knowledge on the subject, -we should embark upon enterprises like this merely because of an article published in the Agricultural Journal of New South Wales, or that of any other State.
– The honorable member was referring to our knowledge of certain methods of cultivation, and I simplypointed out that such information was contained in excellent articles appearing in an official publication.
– Some of the very men who came over here to supply the Minister with some of these foolish sug gestions write such articles. It is impossible for a contributor to an agricultural journal to be an expert on everything connected with agriculture. As in many other walks of life, the great feature of agriculture to-day is the principle of specialization. The fact that a man may contribute an article to a magazine does not prove that he is an expert in these matters. The point I wish to emphasize, however, is that before we determine to spend in this way £500,000 of the people’s money, we should have the best expert skill available to insure that it will not be thrown away.
– Would the honorable member establish experimental farms ?
– If we are going to encourage the cultivation of these tropical products - and I shall deal presently with the whole question of whether we should do so or not - we ought first to secure the best expert obtainable. I believe that Java has one of the best experts in tropical agriculture to be found, and that he is paid a salary of ,£2,000 or £3,000 a year to direct tropical agriculture there.
– We have a good man in charge of tropical agriculture in Queensland. I refer to Mr. Newport, who is stationed at Cairns. We have also Dr. Holtze, of South Australia, who is another wellknown expert.
– Let them be grouped together in a scientific bureau, set up for the specialization of tropical agriculture in Australia.
– That is the work in which Mr. Newport is engaged. He is in charge of an experimental farm at Cairns.
– Have either of these gentlemen advised the Government?
– Dr. Holtze has. He attended the Conference.
– What about Mr. Newport ?
– His reports have been sent in, and are referred to in the memorandum which has been distributed amongst honorable members.
– I have not read the report of the Conference, and the honorable and learned gentleman would not give me an opportunity to do so.
– It has been circulated for several days.
– But I have been away on a visit of inspection to another important industry - an industry which I venture to say is not less worthy of consideration than are some of those which are dealt with in this Bill. I insist, however, that we are proceeding on wrong lines. In the last Parliament the honorable member for Echuca, Mr. McColl, who has made this subject all his own, pointed out that the two countries which have reached the highest stage of agricultural development, do not pay bounties. The honorable member instanced the work done in the United States of America and Germany. No bounties are paid in those countries, and yet the people there have attained a degree of special skill with regard to most of these cultivable products which is not to be found elsewhere. How have they done it? By education. They have spent their money on education, instead of paying it over to the farmers who, after having done their best, may perhaps in ignorance make great failures of these matters. This is the way not to do it, and until we know that we have the requisite knowledge with which to guide our people in these enterprises, it is far better that we should not proceed in this way.
-Does the honorable member disapprove of a bonus on the export of wheat?
– I am not at present discussing the matter of bonuses fo: export, but the method of procedure under this Bill. I come to the consideration of the question of bounties in no doctrinaire spirit. I take it that, no matter what our fiscal beliefs may be, there is nothing in the whole range of political economy which would prevent any man, whether free-trader or protectionist, devoting ‘his consideration to the best means of stimulating industries such as those enumerated in the schedule to this Bill. The question is should we do it, and how far ought we to do it, in the present development of Australia? I have very grave doubts in my mind as to the length to which we ought to go in specializing these tropical cultures in this country. What I mean is that Australia is a very young country, and is very sparsely populated, and we have scores of millions of acres of good land yet unoccupied in the temperate regions, land on which we might grow wheat under the best conditions, and might develop a hardy nation of people, who would have opportunities to avail themselves of all the resources of a high and healthy civilization. The question arises in my mind as to how far we should try to induce our people to go into the tropical regions whilst our temperate regions are yet almost untouched. The Minister referred to the cultivation, of wheat, and compared the industry with that of the cultivation of some of the fibres that have been referred to. He said that the cultivation of some fibres, would give a larger yield than wheat, and a better return. If so, why do not our farmers undertake their cultivation instead of growing wheat? Presumably, the reason is that they can grow wheat under better conditions, and prefer to grow wheat on that account. Have we reached the limit of our wheat production? The Minister of Trade and Customs was in London the other day, and his one complaint wasthat we are not sending very much wheat to England. Why do we not grow more wheat, and send more to England? We should have more people here growing wheat, and should capture that legitimate market for our products in London.
– I think we shall have to give them cheaper land.
– We have that market for a product which can be produced under the best conditions, without any possibility of the deterioration of the race, and without raising any of the difficult problems which we must face when we try to induce our people to go into tropical regions. I repeat that the question arises in my mind as to how far we are justified in stimulating these tropical industries.
– Who is trying to force people into tropical districts?
– I know that the honorable member for Wide Bay is in favour of the Bill, and perhaps he wilt permit me to proceed. The question is, how far we should indulge in the stimulation of this kind of agriculture whilst our temperate regions are empty of people, and practically untouched? However, there is one argument, which I admit should have great weight with honorable members in dealing with this question. There is the argument which concerns the defence of Australia, and the effective occupation of our unoccupied tropical lands. If we can, bv any legitimate means, lead to their successful occupation, we should avail ourselves of those means to the greatest possible extent. That is the only argument I can find to justify our proceeding in the way proposed with regard to these matters. I confess that it is an argument which should have great weight, in view of our state of total unpreparedness as a nation to resist the inroads which at some time - and perhaps at no great length of time - might be made by the hordes of Eastern peoples who are close to our shores.
– Many of the products referred to’ in the schedule are more suitable for temperate than tropical regions.
– I am aware of that; and in so far as they are, I submit that there is no reason why we should pay the huge sums proposed by way of stimulation for these industries, at least until we have taken steps to insure success.
– That does not follow.
– Particularly as we shall be dealing with a general Tariff revision, affecting the industries of Australia as a whole. We should at least know how fair we can proceed by means of the Tariff, and’ how far by means of bounties. We can deal better with the subject after the Government have told us what is in their minds with regard to some of the enterprises carried on in the temperate regions of Australia.
– The Tariff reports are not all in.
– Will they ever be in?
– Let the honorable member ask the gods.
– I do not know that I should ask the gods, but I might ask some of the members of this House who have been returned with a special mandate to settle the Tariff. If they are content to allow the matter to drift on from week to week I do not know that I have any right to complain ; but I do submit that the matter is being dealt with in a most dilatory way, and we ought not to be asked to proceed in this piecemeal fashion, and in the dark, or before the Government have explained the whole of their plans concerning these matters. Referring to the Bill itself, I have not much to say, except that it seems to be very little Bill and nearly all regulations. It is a skeleton Bill, and the rest is left to the Minister. It may be that it is necessary, in connexion with these matters, to leave to the Minister large powers for regulating these industries. Under the Bill he takes power to prescribe the conditions under which they shall be conducted, and under which the proposed bounties shall be paid. That reminds me of another matter in connexion with these bounties, and that is that when we have agreed to pay them, and have induced men to enter upon these tropical cultures, we shall still have to reckon with people outside who are engaged in these enterprises under no such conditions as will attach to them here. We shall have to compete with Java, for instance, where I believe labour costs 6d., 7d., or 9d. per day at the outside. We shall have to deal with all the Eastern peoples whose standard of civilization is far different from our own. I revert once more to the point as to whether we in Australia have reached such a condition of things that we should induce our people to embark in industries which are carried on successfully elsewhere only upon a plane of civilization to which I hope Australia will never descend. Let us do what we can to maintain our present standards intact. In this connexion, the best course is to undertake such cultivation as will naturally contribute to that end. I am not quite sure that we shall be doing that if we induce our people to enter upon these competing enterprises which, it has been proved all over the world, can oni, be conducted on a basis of low wage labour and a low condition of civilization. There are many schemes to which we might address ourselves in Australia, and which, I think, would pay us better than some of the projects dealt with in this Bill. There is, for instance, ‘ the question of the proper treatment of our arid regions. In this discussion we are traversing old ground, and there is quite a familiar ring about the speech of the Attorney-General. One consideration which struck me when we were last dealing with this matter was that raised by the ex-member for Echuca, Mr. McColl, who pointed out “that with all our available water resources we could hope to irrigate only 10 per cent, of the lands of Australia. That is to say, when we have done our best by science and skill in the direction of conserving the moisture, there will still be 90 per cent, of the lands of Australia entirely dependent upon the rainfall. This consideration opens up a question of supreme moment in connexion with the cultivation of the arid parts of Australia. Here we have a statement by an expert, that, having done our best in the way of water conservation, we shall still have an area much larger than Europe absolutely dependent on the rainfall.
– A good deal of that land could not be irrigated.
– But a good deal of it could; and yet we have this statement by the ex-member for Echuca, namely, that 90 per cent, of the lands of Australia must depend on whether the skies yield their bounty or withhold it. Clearly, this fact points to the advisability of stimulating production by dry farming and like enterprises, as a much better object for our expenditure than the endeavour to encourage production in the tropics, where white people find the conditions difficult and irksome. No honorable member has a keener desire than I have to see this Continent possessed by a white people.
– Honorable members who visited the Northern Territory are looking better than ever.
– Some are looking better, but some are not ; the honorable member forgets the condition of the only Minister who accompanied the party.
– He was wrecked.
– That Minister, at any rate, looks as though a little stimulation of a medical kind would do him good after his trip. It seems to me there are other directions than those indicated in the Bill, in which we might more advantageously spend the money, and I submit the encouragement of dry farming as one of them. I do not intend to labour the matter, because this is largely a Committee Bill. But I submit that unless we take some steps to insure that ‘the expenditure will be under the most favorable conditions, we had far better leave the money in the Treasury to be devoted to some other useful object, as to which there would be a better chance of success, and less possibility of the outlay being thrown away. So far our experience has been an unfortunate one, because, after many attempts, we have no success to show. Are we going to do better in the future ? We can only do better with improved equipment, and greater knowledge and skill; and we have had from the Minister no indication of any steps to that end. I urge that we are proceeding in the wrong direction - “ putting the cart before the horse “ - and that, before we undertake any step of the kind proposed in the Bill, there should be established a Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau, which would bring to bear the best available skill in the world. For these reasons I again urge the Government to consider the advisability of postponing the Bill until what, in my judgment, are the pre-requisites of success, have been attained. If the Government turn a deaf ear to this suggestion, this would appear to be the -only Bill in which they are prepared to proceed after a recess of nine months - they are absolutely bankrupt of a programme.
– We shall have the Tariff very soon, and that will make the honorable member talk !
– Did the PostmasterGeneral say “very soon”?
– I am glad to hear it; the sooner we have the Tariff before us the better. I submit that the Tariff ought to be considered in conjunction with the proposals before us, so that we may see how far the latter are supplementary, and how far in substitution of the duties ; in short, in order that we may know all that there is to know about the proposed stimulation of industries. I protest against the second reading of the Bill being proceeded with under the present circumstances.
– The honorable member for Parramatta seems to have been unduly inoculated with the policy of his leader, as enunciated at the last general election. That policy was universally recognised throughout Australia as one of marking time; there was nothing positive, but all was of a negative character.’ This afternoon the honorable member for Parramatta, as deputy leader of the Opposition, has enunciated a policy with a true regard to the principles advocated by his leader some time ago.
– May I ask what the. leader of the Labour Party is doing in regard to the effectuation of his programme ?
– As soon as an opportunity occurs to get any of that programme through Parliament, the Labour Party will, I assure the honorable member, quickly take advantage of it. As it is, the honorable member tells us that in regard to this, and, apparently, every other question, we are to wait - that the time is not ripe. We are told that we should do nothing, and keep on doing nothing, until that golden moment comes round, when the political wheel has turned, and there is a new set of gentlemen on the Treasury benches ; and then I suppose they will be able to bring down a programme to astonish the nation. As the first reason, we are told that we should wait until the Tariff is considered. How, in the name of fortune, there can be any particular relation between the proposals before us and any likely outcome of the Tariff Commission’s reports I, at any tate, cannot understand.
– There is not an item in the schedule of the Bill that may not be made a subject of protection under the Tariff.
– There are a number of articles in the schedule which cannot become the subject’ of Tariff alteration or treatment, because they are for export; and the honorable and learned member knows enough to know it is not usual, as a preliminary measure, to impose a Tariff in order to encourage export.
– Certainly not.
– That might be the ultimate result, but, in the meantime, some of the articles mentioned in the schedule cannot be dealt with in an effective manner by a Tariff proposal ; and it seems to me there is no relation between the two measures. A curious thing I notice about the freetrade attitude, ‘as put forward by the honorable member for Parramatta, is that when it was proposed, some years ago, to encourage industries and production by a Tariff, there was a suggestion on his side of the House that industries should be dealt with by way of bounties. I remember the right honorable member for East Sydney putting that forward in the broadest possible fashion - that the proper way to deal with industries not yet in existence, or industries requiring encouragement, was by way of bounties, and that cry was taken up by other honorable members on that side of the House.
– The right honorable member for East Sydney advocated bounties in preference to protective duties.
– It seems to me that, so far as the encouragement of new industries is concerned, when a Tariff is proposed the opponents of it suggest bounties, and when bounties are proposed they suggest that we should wait for a Tariff ; they are not satisfied with either course. I should prefer each proposal and item to be considered on its merits. We ought to consider whether it is worth our while attempting, even in this small fashion, perhaps, to stimulate industries into existence - whether if they were brought into existence they would be worth the expenditure to the people of Australia.
– That is precisely what I have tried to do.
– I do not think that the honorable member has done that. He went on to say that, if we would not wait for the introduction of the Tariff, we should at least wait for what, to all appearances, will be still further delayed - the establishment of a Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau. Of all the flimsy reasons for inaction, I have heard few to equal that.
– The same suggestion was made last Parliament by Senator McColl, who knows more about the subject of agriculture than the honorable member will ever know.
– I do not regard Senator McColl as an expert on all agricultural matters. He has shown himself to be a very industrious collator of the opinions of other persons, and I have the greatest respect for his work; but I do not think that he has ever pretended to be an expert.
– We must depend on some Department to administer this measure.
– Let us consider the pretended wisdom of delaying action until a Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau has been established. In the first place, I ask what work would that bureau undertake? Would it absorb the functions of the existing Agricultural Departments of the States ? Surely no one contemplates that. It is not intended that the Agricultural Departments of the States shall be absorbed by a Commonwealth Department which will undertake the testing of soils and the advising of the agriculturist in every State upon every detail of his work. It would be insane for the Commonwealth to attempt that. I know something of the work that has been done by the Agricultural Department of New South Wales, over which the honorable member for Parramatta presided for a considerable time with, as every one admits, marked ability.
– That Department does good work.
– Undoubtedly ; but there is no likelihood of the Commonwealth ever undertaking similar work. What ought to be done by the Commonwealth in regard to agriculture generally, and the encouragement of production, is to establish a bureau on the lines of that of the United States, which concerns itself with the broad aspects of agriculture, without entering into the details to which the States Departments pay attention. Therefore, even if there were a Commonwealth Bureau now in existence, we should have to go to the Agricultural Departments of the States for advice as to the probable success or failure of the propositions in :he schedule.
– Does the honorable member know that the American Federal Bureau sends out inspectors to teach farmers all about their work?
– I am not aware that the Central Agricultural Bureau of the United States sends out officials to instruct the farmers in the various details of their work.
– The work of the States Departments is co-ordinated by the Central Bureau.
– We should not be a step further forward so far as the consideration of bounty proposals is concerned if there were a Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau now in existence. Of course, if the honorable member for Parramatta advocates the establishment of a Commonwealth Bureau, whose functions will be the same as those of the existing States Departments of Agriculture, the people of the country should be told of it, because the sooner they know the exact views of an honorable gentleman in his responsible position the better. I think he will find many objections raised to the establishment of such a Department by the Commonwealth.
– It would mean the taking over by the Commonwealth of all the States experimental stations, agricultural col leges, farms, &c.
– No one has ever suggested that.
– If the honorable member does not suggest that, why does he ask us to delay the consideration of the proposal now before us until a Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau has been established? The Bill is one to be considered chiefly in Committee. What we have to decide now is whether, taken as a whole, the proposals put before us are, on their merits, worthy of support. I think that they are. The honorable member for Parramatta spoke of the proposed expenditure of £500,000; but that is to be spread over a period of fifteen years, and, in my view, the Commonwealth can afford to risk a few thousand pounds a year to secure the object we desire to attain.
– We shall not be able to stop once we begin with the bounty system.
– We shall not be able to stop in regard to any particular industry during the term specified in the Bill.
– We shall be committed to the expenditure provided for.
– Yes; if advantage is taken of our offers.
– Advantage wil> be taken of them. Similar proposals havealways found favour in Victoria.
– We desire that advantage shall be taken of them.
– Yes. If only one-half of the industries mentioned in the schedule can be established by the granting of bounties, the Bill will do a great deal of good. I do not say that there are not other industries which should be encouraged, and that the schedule exhausts the possibilities of the case; but the establishment df half of the industries mentioned in the schedule, taken as it stands, would mean a great deaf to’ Australia as a whole. The honorable member for Parramatta talked about the inadvisability of encouraging our population to settle in our tropical regions ; about the danger of forcing it north. To my mind, he should have placed more emphasis upon the argument which he subsequently adduced that, the defence of Australia requires that we should not leave large areas of country unpeopled.
– I admit that we should not do that.
– More stress should have been placed upon that argument. Vast tracts of unpopulated country are a standing invitation to other nations to people them.
– The northern partsof Australia have been without population for the last hundred years.
– Yes; but there were not the disturbing factors in existence 100 or even 50 years ago which we now have to fear.
– From the defence point of view, the south-eastern portion of the Continent is not sufficiently populated.
– I admit that ; but, unfortunately, we have there allowed the evil of land monopoly to grow to such an extent that it is an obstacle to settlement, making it difficult for us to attract population to our shores.
– In what State does the monopoly to which the honorable member refers exist?
– It exists in Victoria as much as in any State. The best of the manhood has been driven from this State by land monopoly. During the last ten years Victoria has lost 100,000 of the bone and sinew of the country. That fact alone is a disgraceful commentary upon the legislation of the State. Her young people have been driven to other parts of the Commonwealth, and to other countries.
– How does the honorable member propose to deal with this evil ?
– If the Labour Party were in power, we would tell the honorable member.
– In Victoria they are proposing to take back the lands, but they propose to do so honestly, and to pay for them.
– Having allowed the land-owners to secure the unearned increment, they now propose to make the prospective settlers pay for it. There was a time when the honorable and learned member believed in the communally-created value being owned and held by the community.
– The honorable member is entirely wrong. There was a time when I was in favour of the imposition of a land tax for ordinary purposes, and for certain purposes I should be in favour of its imposition now. I was opposed to using the land tax as an instrument of confiscation.
– The honorable and learned member can rest quite easy in that regard, because, so far as I am aware, there is no one in the Chamber who believes in confiscation.
– What about the proposed progressive land tax?
– That is not a confiscatory proposal, and it is the inclination of honorable members on the other side to so speak of the proposal in order that it may alarm the ignorant in the community, the only support which, as a rule, they are likely to get.
– I ask the honorable member to come back to the question before the House.
– The honorable member for Parramatta drew me off the track when he asked what I proposed to do. A few years ago he knew what he was going to do about the matter; he was very anxious then to do something, but his anxiety seems to have vanished.
– In my time, I have been as simple as the honorable member is now.
– I am afraid that the honorable member is correct; his simplicity has disappeared. But whatever be the remedy, there is no doubt that land monopoly, which is admitted by all to be an evil, exists in a very large measure in all the south-eastern States. It is also admitted that it is more difficult to get land suitable for settlement in Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia, particularly in the two first-mentioned States, than it is in the more northerly regions.
– In Victoria and New South Wales there are millions of acres of good land to sell.
– Mostly rocks or sand. In the northern areas there are opportunities that are not to be had in the south-eastern districts of Australia. If we can, by a comparatively small expenditure, encourage persons to take possession of those lands, and make comfortable homes there, the sooner we do that the better will it be for the welfare of Australia.
– Where shall we get the people from?
– I do net think that there will be very great difficulty in getting the people. I know that from- the district which the honorable member represents men are departing by the dozen for New South Wales in search of a piece of cheap land, and I dare say that a fair proportion of those persons are young fellows, who, growing up and not finding an outlet around their old homes, would be very glad indeed to go north if reasonable facilities and opportunities were afforded.
– Why not bring them from across the water?
– I do not object. Let the honorable member find the land, and I shall assist him to carry out his idea, but I do not believe in bringing men from across the water to add to the already enormous profit which land-owners are getting from the forcing up of land values. Apart from the question of encouraging tropical agriculture, I want honorable members to recollect that the schedule to this Bill deals with a number of industries which are best fitted for establishment in the more temperate climates. The honorable member for Parramatta seemed to me to be under the impression - I suppose only very temporarily - that the schedule referred to only tropical products ; at any rate, he argued for some time as though that were the case, but as a matter of fact a great proportion of those products can be best grown in temperate climates. Take, for instance, flax. New Zealand flax grows in the coldest climate. Flax and hemp grow in a very wet climate as every one knows. The flax from which Irish linen is made is grown in Ireland, and that is certainly a cold climate.
– Only a little of it; most of it is grown in Russia.
– Russia is still colder. I want to prove that the schedule contains a number of items which relate essentially to products of cold climates. Take again mohair. Although the Angora goat will do well in a sub-tropical climate - and we are told that it is found in very hot places –still, it also does well in a temperate climate. Those parts of South Africa where the Angora goat is now acclimatised are just as cold as -is any part of Australia. Linseed, of course, is pro.duced from flax. The olive, certainly, is the product of a temperate climate. So is the sunflower. Tobacco is grown successfully as far south as Tumut - in fact, further south. We are more likely to bring about a development of the fish-preserving industry in the Southern seas round Australia than elsewhere. So far as I can see, there is more likelihood of the successful establishment of fisheries round the coast of Victoria, of part of New South Wales, and of Tasmania, and perhaps of South Australia, than there is in the northern waters.
– Is there no means of paying the proposed bounty to the fishermen instead of to the canners?
– I do not see very well how that could be done.
– In the Bill there is rot much proposed for the benefit of the farmer.
– If the honorable member can suggest anything else we shall see what we can do to meet his view. As regards dried fruits a number of these articles, such for instance, as apricots and peaches, will be grown in temperate climates. Dates, too, are mentioned in Ihe schedule. These are now being grown in very small experimental plots in New South Wales, but we would not regard the climate of that State as tropical. The proposed bounty on the export of combed wool or tops refers to Australia generally. On the whole it seems to me that there 5s nothing in the suggestion that the schedule is confined to tropical products. When we come to consider whether it is worth while to make an effort in this direction, I think it will ,be recognised that we should do something, even if it should cost money. Let it always be remembered that nowadays a thing which is worth anything cannot be secured without spending money. If for an annual expenditure of £70,000 or £80,000 - >and as far as I can see the maximum expenditure is to be about £80,000 a year - the Bill will secure the establishment of even two-thirds of the lines of industry which are mentioned in the schedule it will do good.
– If it does.
– I admit that I’ am not in a position to speak with any certitude of the prospects. I am in just the same position as are other honorable members in that regard. None of us can do more than exercise his common sense after having weighed the evidence of those who have some acquaintance with these industries.
– We can take such steps as will insure the movement being a success if success be possible. That is all I am pleading for, but I say that the honorable member has not done that yet.
– What further can be done? The Minister has given way to the criticism that was levelled at the Bounties Bill of last year, and, as a consequence, he consulted the experts, as far as they were obtainable from the States Agricultural Departments. Those men gave the best advice they could. Of course, they are not infallible; they may be absolutely mistaken, but so far as evidence can be obtained, it is favorable to the Bill.
– Let the honorable member read what the experts said about cotton. On a broad review of the whole situation, there did not appear to be very much prospect of cotton being profitably grown in Australia, and yet they recommended a bounty on its production.
– That is just a case where experts differ. I have had the pleasure of meeting quite a number of persons who call themselves experts, and who say that there is no country in the world which, in their opinion, is naturally more suitable for the production of cotton than is Australia.
– Yet all those experts say that the outlook for cotton production in Australia is a very poor one.
– Against that I have to put a very interesting fact which I do not think is generally known with regard to cotton. I was very much surprised indeed when I read in an official journal from the United States that over one-third of the cotton production of that country was harvested by white labour.
– At what wages?
– I have no means of knowing the wages.
– At paying rates, anyway.
– The lowest wages obtain in America.
– They were in competition, I suppose, with coloured people in the South; but I do not know what the wages were. I should be very glad indeed to have that information, but it was startling to me to find that such a large proportion of the cotton was produced by white labour. I had never previously had any indication of that kind.
– Was it an authentic paper in which that statement appeared ?
– Yes; an official journal. It is a fact that one-third of the cotton produced there is harvested by white labour. I do not suppose that they set out with any “ white American “ policy in view, but as a mere incident it was mentioned that in the southern States of America white people did the harvesting of the cotton to the extent of one- third. The mere fact that although cheap labour is available there - seeing that the negro is established to such an enormous extent - white labour performs the harvesting to the extent indicated is distinctly encouraging -
– The white labourers in the cotton plantations of America are looked down upon by the negroes. They are called the “ mean “ whites.
– With all respect to the honorable member I doubt the accuracy of his statement. My idea of a “ mean “ white man is a man who will not work at all - one who thinks that the labour usually performed by negroes is beneath a white man, and who makes that an excuse to loaf upon the rest of the community.
– The “mean “white is the man who works with the negro.
– I am under the impression that the “ mean “ white is a man who will not work at all. The harvesting of the cotton in the United States by white labour to the extent of one-third indicates that there is a chance of Australia succeeding in that industry if proper steps be taken. Admittedly we have a country which is well suited to its production, and we hope some day to have sufficient population to be able to carry on operations without interruption.
Colonel Foxton. - Is the honorable mem- ber referring to harvesting operations?
Colonel Foxton. - It is largely done by children.
– I am aware of that. I have seen a few bolls of cotton picked, but I do not pretend to know much about it. I think that upon the whole the Government are to be commended for making an effort to establish some new industries even if the attempt involves the risk of a certain amount of cash so far as the Commonwealth is concerned.
.- In the speech which he has just delivered the honorable member for South Sydney, like a good many other honorable members of the party which he so ably leads, has taken occasion to refer to those who sit in the Opposition corner as a party which is opposed to land settlement, and which is in favour of a continuance of an existing monopoly which, we are told, prevents settlement. Under most circumstances, we can sit quiet and listen to such statements without hitting back. But upon this occasion the references which he made to myself will perhaps warrant me in asking the indulgence of the House to make a reply. The honorable member, if he had followed my political career - as he seems to have done to some extent - would have known that I have always maintained that no private right, no matter how created - whether it be in landed property or in any other form of property - can be allowed to stand for one moment in the way of the best interests of the community.
– The honorable and learned member never attempted to carry out that doctrine.
– The honorable member for Melbourne must know that only a year or two before I retired from the position of Premier of Victoria I embodied in a Bill, provision for the compulsory purchase of land upon fair terms as part of the policy which I advocated. But the difference between myself - and I think I am voicing the views of most honorable members who occupy seats in this corner of the Chamber - and the leader of the Labour Party is that while we acknowledge the right of the State for the purpose of carrying out public works, or of promoting settlement, to purchase back, compulsorily if necessary, any landed rights which have been acquired, we’ desire that it shall do so honestly by paying full value for them, whereas he wishes to see a land tax imposed for the purpose of sweating down their value-
– That statement does not happen to be true, but it is near enough for the honorable member’s purpose.
– It is quite true that that refined spirit which is doled out upon the platform by these gentlemen to their worshippers is qualified by a large admixture of pure water when they come here, but nevertheless it exists, as was demonstrated by the speech which the honorable member for South Sydney has just delivered. He declared that we are not in favour of people being settled upon the land, but desire to keep large areas in the hands of a few, because we are not in favour of the imposition of a land tax, presumably for the purpose of depriving “them of their holdings.
– “ Presumably.” Has the honorable and learned member gone back upon the land tax now?
– No; I am entirely opposed to this Parliament, under ordinary circumstances, levying direct taxation, but if I am allowed to discuss the question generally, my position to-day is exactly what it was thirteen years ago. I recognise the unimproved value of lands as one of the principal and most just subjects «f direct taxation. But I do not believe that a land tax, or taxation in any other form, can be justly used as a lever to level down and gradually destroy the value of titles which the State has created.
– Neither do we.
– The honorable member says “ neither do we.” Perhaps I should be trespassing, upon the indulgence of the House if I allowed myself to be drawn into a general discussion upon the platform of the Labour Party.
– Does the honorable member approve of the land tax which is at present levied in Victoria?
– I would remind the House that the matter which the honorable and learned member is discussing is not directly associated with the Bill, and ought not to be introduced into this debate. I could not prevent the honorable and learned member for Flinders from replying to the remarks which had been addressed to him, but- 1 shall not permit any other honorable member to deal with that subject, because it is so entirely distinct from the Bill which is now under consideration.
– I shall respect your expression of opinion, sir, and confine my remarks entirely to the Bill. For my own part, I am in favour of a judiciously administered system of bounties. But I wish to point out one or two distinctions which it is desirable to keep in mind in connexion with this subject. It ought not to be assumed for the purpose of encouraging any kind of production, that we simply have to take a spoon and ladle out bounties. As the deputy leader of the Opposition has remarked, the history of most of the States has shown that that is an absolutely false hope to entertain. I could quote instances ‘in this1 connexion from the history of Victoria, but I do not propose to do so. I shall leave that to those who follow me. What I want to impress upon honorable members is, that unless we are very careful indeed, the encouragement of our primary industries by the payment of bounties, is apt to be a very fallacious process. The bounty which we intend shall benefit the producer, or the principal portion of it, almost invariably finds its way, not into the pockets of the producer, but into those of the manufacturer to whom he has to sell his goods, or into those of the dealer who is more immediately in contact with the markets of the world.
– Just as the butter bonin did.
– I do not think that I could get a more striking example than is afforded by the butter bonus. It is quite true that the butter bonus gave a fillip to the butter industry throughout Victoria.
– Swindling ! Robbery !
– I. quite admit it had that effect. But how did it give that fillip? Even in that particular case the effect of the butter bounties was not to put money into the pockets of the dairymen, and the farmers, but of the middlemen, the agents, and the dealers. Indirectly, of course, it did give a fillip to the industry which, at that particular time, was ripe for such assistance. We cannot deny that in that particular case the bounties did some good. Probably the butter industry would have grown to as great an extent as it has done without them. although its development might-have been retarded. But in this Bill, in clause 3, it is provided that -
The bounties shall be payable to the growers or producers only of the goods or the materials of which they are made, and not to manufacturers.
That reminds me very much of the edict which the old King Canute issued to the waves of the ocean when he drew a line along the sand, and said, “ Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther !” It will be remembered that he did that for the purpose of rebuking his courtiers, who flattered him by attributing to him omnipotent power. The prohibition in that case was just about as effective as the prohibition under this Bill would be. Let us take a single instance. Take the case of olive oil. There are two or three manufacturers of olive oil in Australia. What would take place? Say the Government gives a bounty of 10 per cent, to the growers of olives for making olive oil. What would be the inevitable result? If it had any effect at all it would have the effect of encouraging the growers to put in more olives, and of encouraging other producers to grow them. So that the result would be to increase the production of olives. Immediately it would follow that, seeing that there would be a limited demand - the demand of two or three manufacturers - they would be enabled to decrease the price paid to the growers exactly in proportion to the bounties which the Government pay. Now, that is inevitable. It might have the effect of encouraging the manufacture to some extent of olive oil, but it would do so not in the way the Bill suggests, by putting money into the pockets of the growers of the olives, but inevitably by putting money into the pockets of the persons who buy those olives, either for manufacture or for sale. The only way in which that could be obviated would be by limiting the output of olives, or fixing the price at which they should be sold ; neither of which things the Government of the Commonwealth could do or proposes to do. I do not say that that in itself constitutes a condemnation of this Bill. I quite agree with the honorable member for South Sydney in his statement that even if the Commonwealth wastes some amount of money by these means, if we can succeed in establishing one-half - I would go further and say if we could succeed in establishing a third or a quarter, or an eighth - of the industries that it is attempted to establish by means of this Bill, we could put .up with the alleged waste of public money. But I am very doubtful whether that result would be achieved. However, I am not going to oppose the Bill on those grounds. The principal reason why I address myself to it at all is of a very different character. I think that the Government is not treating the House fairly in bringing forward this particular question at the present moment without giving us the least inkling or idea as to what their general financial proposals are. This is apart altogether from the objection which the honorable member for Parramatta took with regard to the consideration of bounties preceding the Tariff proposals, as to which I intend to say nothing. But i do say that this House occupies the same position as every other lower House in all constitutionally-governed countries occupies, and that is that it is its privilege and dutv to control, scrutinize, and keep its hands on the finances of the country. In order to enable the House to do that, the invariable parliamentary practice has been - there have been occasional departures from it, I regret to say, in some of our Parliaments lately, but I am sorry to see it in this Parliament - the best practice has always been, and always ought to be, that before the Government asks the House to authorize it to embark upon large expenditure of any kind, the Treasurer should come down and make a general statement, both as to the general estimates of the revenue which the House, will have to expend, and as to the competing claims upon that revenue for expenditure. Without such information the House is absolutely handicapped in dealing with such questions as this. Is it a straightforward course, toask us to deal with this proposal as at matter of urgency, before the Treasurer has attempted to give us an estimate of the expenditure involved in the general financial projects of the Government?
– So the leader of the Labour Party says.
– I think, to do him justice, that he said the expenditurewas comparatively small in comparisonwith the enormous benefits which might arise ; and in that aspect of the case I agree with him, if, indeed, those benefits are likely to arise. But what I do say isthis : When we look at this Bill, we find that it commits Parliament to ah expenditure inthe first year of £80,000, and in the first five years to over £70,000 per annum. without one word being stated to the House either as to the probable revenue that we are to derive from. Customs or from our other sources of revenue, or as to the probable intentions of the Government as to how that revenue, which will be available for us to expend, will be expended.
– The Government looks upon those as unimportant details.
– But they are not unimportant. To enable this House properly to discharge the important function which rests upon it, the Treasurer - where is the Treasurer now? - should have made a general financial statement. But instead of that, the Attorney-General comes down and makes what I believe will be considered to be a clear, carefully prepared, and logical speech in support of the Bill, and asks us, on behalf of the Government, to authorize the expenditure of £70,000 a year for five years, hypothecating the revenue of ‘.the Commonwealth to that extent, without the House being given a single line to show what are the general financial proposals of the Government.
– The Bill commits us to £45,000 per annum for fifteen years
– It ‘is to be £70,000 for five years, the amount diminishing afterwards. The expenditure is to be £80,000 during the first year, and £[70,000 during the following four years. Apart altogether from party questions, I should like honorable members sitting on all sides of the Chamber to consider this mattor from a parliamentary point of view. What is our revenue? Honorable members know that we have for the whole support of this Government - unless we impose direct taxation - the surplus, revenue from Customs and Excise. It is quite true that that surplus revenue has this year largely increased.
– There was a large surplus last year; £300,000 was saved because we rejected the penny-postage proposals of the Government.
– The honorable member is right. There was last year a considerable surplus.
– I am not going into the figures, I simply invite the attention of honorable members to the principle. Even assuming that we have a large surplus, we must not forget that we are going to be asked to revise the Tariff, which is l>7j the chief source of our revenue, in the direction of making the protective duties more effective.
– To secure effective protection.
– That is so. Protection, if it is effective, must necessarily decrease the revenue we obtain from a very considerable portion of our revenue producing items. That being so, a good deal of the surplus to which the honorable member for South Sydney has referred must necessarily dwindle away. That is one side of the question. On the one hand we are left absolutely in the dark as to the revenue we may expect. We have not even an approximate estimate. On the other side what do we find ? What are the competitive demands that we may reasonably expect to be made on the available revenue? Are these not questions which honorable members might fairly put to themselves before dealing with a large financial proposal of this kind?
– The Labour Party already proclaim their intention to destroy revenue in order to force the States to impose direct taxation.
– I am not appealing only to honorable members of the Labour Party. I am inviting the House generally to deal with this as a parliamentary question, and quite apart from party considerations. We have on the one side an absolutely uncertain revenue, and we have on the other, demands upon that revenue which are supported bv at least a considerable section of the House, and all of which ought to be taken into consideration before we deal specially with any one of them. Amongst these demands we have first of all the proposal for the encouragement of the iron industry, which comes more nearly into competition with those now before us than does any other. No doubt the production of peanuts and palm oil and sunflowers is very important. Their production is, perhaps, that fo* which Australia has been waiting for some time, but I venture to submit that the establishment of the iron industry, which is the basis of all manufactures in Australia, is infinitely more important. Have the Government given us any indication of the way in which thev propose to assist that industry ? Is this encouragement to be given by means of a protective duty or a bounty?- We have no information on the subject. We are left absolutely in the dark. Then again, one of the proposals of the Government is that we should establish a High Commissioner’s Office in London, and inaugurate that which I think every party favours - an. effective policy of advertising Australia and making known its resources to the rest of the world, with the object of encouraging immigration. Have we any indication of what will be spent in that direction ? We have not even a hint. The Government have left us absolutely in the dark as to their intentions in that respect. The position is the same in regard to defence expenditure. It is admitted by every one that we shall have gradually, but certainly, to spend more than we have yet done on the defences of Australia. The taking over of the Northern Territory is another Government proposition. Are we expected to administer the affairs of that vast Territory without making very large demands on the ordinary revenue of the year ? It would be ‘impossible to do so. I recognise that the Government are unable to give the House any accurate information as to the probable cost until we have authorized them to take over the Territory ; but we have not even an indication that the Treasurer has ever taken the matter into consideration in connexion with his financial proposals. Another proposition involving a large expenditure, and one which may perhaps appeal particularly to my honorable friends of the Labour Party, is the inauguration of a Federal system of o/d-age pensions. We are told that that will probably be one. of the demands made on the revenue of the Commonwealth. Is that step to be taken ?
– I hope so.
– Can such a system be carried out at a cost of less than £500,000 per annum, after making allowance for the amount paid by way of oldage pensions at the present time by New South Wales and Victoria?
– Under the bookkeeping system, those amounts cannot be taken into account. We have to make a separate calculation since the sum required must come from our one-fourth of Customs and Excise revenue. It will mean a large increase in our expenditure.
– It will mean an addition of not less than £500,000 per annum. Is it in accordance with the best traditions of Parliament that we should be called upon to consider this matter and to hypothecate £70,000 per annum for the next five years, together with further sums in respect of succeeding years, when we have not an indication from the Government of what its financial proposals really are?
– Penny postage is also proposed by the Government. That will mean a further reduction of revenue.
– The honorable member is quite right. I do not wish to further occupy the time of the House, but I must say that this haphazard happygolucky system of financing is, of all things, most likely to lead us deeper and deeper into the quagmire.
– We are not in a quagmire.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs always takes a happy, airy view of financial questions, and has resting upon him a fine sense of financial irresponsibility. I do not think, however, that we are doing our duty as members of this Parliament in quietly consenting to deal with these great financial questions without having before us at least some outline of the financial proposals of the Ministry.
Sitting suspended from 6.28 to 7.4.5 p.m.
.- I think it would be well if the Minister took into consideration the suggestion made by the honorable and learned member for Flinders as regards taking our financial bearings before sanctioning, in anticipation, a very large expenditure under this Bill. I take it that the honorable and learned member for Flinders did not expect that the Ministry should bring down their Budget before dealing with bounties, because, of course, in dealing with bounties, we have to appropriate for periods of years. In fact, we have to some extent to disregard Supply. We affirm a policy, and take the risk of raising the necessary revenue to give it effect. In this case, we are asked to sanction for a period of fifteen years an average annual expenditure of about £35,000. But we ought not too easily to sanction these appropriations of money unless we are sure that, without embarrassing the States Governments on the one hand, and the Federal Government on the other, we can indulge in this very considerable increase in our annual expenditure. Penny postage has been referred to as probable, and we know that the Postal Rates Bill was introduced to-day. If *I remember aright, the Postmaster-General, when previously sub- mitring that measure, gave two estimates, one to include penny postage throughout the Empire, which we were informed would, after making all allowances, cost us £’35>°°° a year, and another by which, assuming that we confined the benefits of the system to the Commonwealth, it was shown that the cost would amount to £119,000 a year. As I have said, we are sanctioning an expenditure under this Bill of from £34,000 to £35,000 a year, and if the Iron Bonus Bill is again introduced, and passed, with provision for something like the appropriation provided for in the Bill previously submitted, this additional expenditure per annum will have to be increased by about another £50,000. So that, in connexion with these three matters alone, we shall have to find about £200,000 a year, which, so far as one can at present see, would have to come out of the surplus returnable to the States. For that reason, this is a matter which in duty to the States we should carefully consider, and we should take our financial bearings for a few years in advance before incurring the risk of large expenditure on purely experimental policies. I acknowledge tHat in the settlement of a young country we must take some risks. If we were to be guided solely by certainty of success, of course there would be no advance at all. But we ought to see that the value of the risk is to some extent proportioned to the extent of the outlay. In the case of bounties, we can make the statement, based on experience, that there is a very great chance of failure in connexion with most of the items dealt with in this Bill. The Minister, in introducing the measure, appealed to our imagination as to the prospects of the settlement of Australia. He mentioned that there were 18,000,000 acres of land in New South Wales at present unsettled, but which we were invited to believe would, by the inducement offered by a bounty of the meagre proportions provided for in this Bill, be made to yield abundant harvests.
– What! I said was that there was that area of suitable land available for the growth of wheat.
– There is no bounty given on wheat, but if the measure were made applicable to wheat, the Minister’s expectation seemed to be that lands to the extent of 18,000,000 acres, which at present have not tempted settlement in New South Wales, would, within a reasonable period of time, be under the plough, and under cultivation of some sort. Australia has been a long time founded, but at present there are Jess than 12,000,000 acres in the whole continent under intense culture and general farming. In Canada, within three years, 81,000 homesteads, covering an area of 13 000,000 acres, were settled. It is clear, therefore, that there must be some serious drag, which is not likely to be overcome by the comparatively moderate bounties proposed in this measure, to account for the disproportionate ratio in agricultural settlement between Australia and Canada. The Minister also forgot to tell the House as a qualification of his rosy estimates of probable success that whilst in the three years ending 1903 our population showed a net decrease of 8,000, in four or five years there was an actual increase of 661,000 in Canada. Those figures relate to a few years ago, and since that time there has been a large advance in population in that country. If we go to Canada to test the chances of success and possible developments of a policy of bounties, we shall have an experience before us that ought to make us pause. For instance, I believe that in Canada the policy of bounties for the iron industry, which has been referred to, was instituted in 1884. It was a policy that was to expire in five or seven years, I forget which, and under which moderate inducements were offered for the production of iron. I find that Mr. Fielding, a Canadian Minister, in the course of his Budget speech, in December, 1906, made three statements which it would be just as well for Ministers to remember as they touch three policies with which we are at present dealing. One statement was that he did not approve of the claim that everything that can be made should be made i« Canada. That was the .policv of extreme protection towards which our Government are, at all events, approximating. I’ ani sure1 that honorable members will see that if the high duties which are now expected to be imposed here are put on, a very considerable shrinkage must take place in our at present rather buoyant revenue. Our revenue has been much better than was expected under a comparatively moderate Tariff, and a much bigger surplus will be available for return to the States this year than was expected by the Treasurer last year. But if the protection is to be as high as the :policy of the Government would lead one to assume, we must look for a very considerable shrinkage in the total revenue, and, consequently, in the amounts to be returned to the States. This must be borne in mind in connexion with these policies involving large outlays for the encouragement of industries. Mr. Fielding also said that in offering Great Britain a preference it was not intended to ask for a return from Great Britain of any preference granted. He went on to deal with the bounties for the production of pig iron, and mentioned that the bounties on Canadian pig iron and steel, which were to expire in the following June, were retained for four years longer at the rate of 6s. 8d. per ton. As I have said, that system commenced in Canada in 1884, and was to last for from five to seven years. But five or six times since the amount has been increased, and there is not the slightest prospect of the bounties being withdrawn. The figures for 1884 showed a total production of 37,000 tons in Canada, and if I am not mistaken, it has now reached 500,000 tons. There is, therefore, no necessity for the continuance of the policy which seems to be interminable in Canada, except that Ministers are too weak to resist the importunities of the producers. Our experience here may prove to be the same. If we consider the sugar bounty we find the same experience, and in connexion with wheat there has been a similar experience in France. The universal history of the bounty policy is over-production, and then a demand for a bonus on export. The bounty on wheat offered by France so encouraged production that after five or six years had elapsed there was overproduction, and a demand was then made for a bounty on export, and it was given. It took the shape of a remission in the form of allowances made on the importation of certain goods, but the principle of a bounty on export was acknowledged. I therefore say that we .ought to be cautious in entering upon risky expenditure that possibly will not be successful as regards some of these items, and consider that the policy is only the beginning of a very large outlay, and that at the end of ten or fifteen years we shall, not stop at the figures represented by clause 2 of this Bill. As I spoke on this matter last year, I do not wish to labour the question ; but I have mentioned a few particulars which it is just as well should be submitted for the consideration of honorable members. In some points, the report of the Conference of State officers, as mentioned by the honorable member for Parramatta, rather damns the imposition of bounties. The report is certainly against a bounty on cotton, and, even when such a bounty is recommended, it is hedged with all sorts of conditions, the Conference evidently not being of opinion that the industry will be a success, followed by any export trade. The local consumption of cotton is very small, being only about £22,000 in value last year, while the bonus, at the end of fifteen years, even- if it be not increased, will amount to £50,000. That seems a very large outlay for the encouragement of an industry not even sanctioned by the Conference. I, therefore, say we ought to hesitate a good deal before we adopt the principle of bounties, of which this Bill is merely the inauguration. The States may clamour against the expenditure ; and I am certain there will be no stop if we once establish the system. We know what has occurred in Canada in connexion with the pig-iron industry, and in the United States in regard to duties. In 1789 the first duty imposed on cotton in the United States amounted to 7 per cent. That duty was to be imposed for a few years to tide over the difficulties at the commencement of the industry ; but in 1812 the duty was 35 per cent., and it has remained in force ever since. Practically the same figures apply to woollens; and right through the American Tariff we find a beginning made with small duties, which have continually increased, until, a few years ago, the average import duty was 45 per cent, ad valorem. Under the circumstances, while I do not wish to oppose the Bill - because a young country takes some risks - I am not particularly hopeful of success, at all events to the extent mentioned bv the Minister.
.- I do not share in the misgivings expressed by some of my honorable friends around me this evening with regard to the principle, and certain of the details of this Bill. Whilst I concur in some of the criticisms which have been offered, and I am prepared to support it to a limited extent, I wish it to be clearly understood that my attitude towards this Bill is one of friendliness and not of hostility. I remind honorable members that the power to deal with the granting of bounties and bonuses upon the production and export of goods is a power which has been taken away from the States, and exclusively vested in the Commonwealth. Even though some of the States Parliaments might feel disposed to pass laws granting bounties for the promotion of industries, they could not do so withoutthe express authority of this Parliament. This is one of our powers which should be exercised, no doubt with care, caution, and discrimination, but, at the same time, with liberality, in all cases in which a fair proposal, supported by fair evidence, has been submitted to the House. As to the position of the Bill upon the Ministerial programme, and the remarks thereon by the deputy leader of the Opposition, I am disposed to concur with that honorable member in the opinion that it would be more convenient if the final settlement of this scheme of bounties were postponed until after the Tariff proposals have been considered by the House; at the same time, I see no objection to this preliminary discussion. Personally I have no hope of this Bill being finally disposed of here before the Tariff is brought before us ; indeed, I trust that the Tariff isnot so distant as the attitude of the Government towards this Bill would indicate. As a friend of the Bill, I may say that, in my opinion, it would receive additional support from the reports of the Tariff Commission, coupled with the voluminous evidence which has been gathered by that body in reference to trade, commerce, and industry in every shape and form throughout the Commonwealth, and which will shortly be available for honorable members. To some extent, I confess1 I feel embarrassed in dealing with this matter, because I do not wish to in any way enter upon the discussion of any item so as to possibly indicate the contents or tendency of any particular report. I certainly think that if this Bill be passed in its present form, it is possible that it may have to be reconsidered later on, when the full reports, recommendations, and evidence of the Commission are before us. Instead of the case for the Bill being weakened by fair time being allowed for. consideration, it would rather be reinforced, because a mass of evidence will be available when the reports of the Tariff Commission are fully and properly before the House. On this occasion, it would be premature on my part, in anticipation of the Tariff Bill, to draw the attention of honorable members to passages in the evidence or to the large masses of information which will then be open to them. I also concur in the opinion expressed by the deputy leader of the Opposition as to the desirability of formulating a scheme for an Agricultural Bureau or Agricultural Depart ment in connexion with, or as part of, the scheme of bounties. I do not mean to say that this Bill ought to be indefinitely postponed, or that a scheme of bounties cannot be dealt with in the absence of a national Department of Agriculture ; but I certainly think such a Department would facilitate matters, and assist the House in the consideration of a scheme like that now before us. Whilst I am a firm believer in the system of bounties for the development of industries, I certainly am not prepared to support the indiscriminate granting of bounties. The House ought to be placed in possession of the very best evidence and the best scientific recommendations available on such matters. We ought not to take a leap in the dark, and decide to grant bonuses or bounties to industries merely because of a sympathetic regard for them. Every such question should be a matter of duty and business consideration - should be threshed out and dealt with on business grounds, as well as on national patriotic grounds. This Bill has been brought down in circumstances more favorable than those of the Bill of last session. The scheme of that Bill was certainly most haphazard, ill-prepared, and ill-digested, and was not supported by evidence or any authentic recommendations. When it was before the House, we were presented with certain printed memoranda or statements, which had been gathered and compiled, no doubt, in the offices of the Customs Department, but bearing the signatures of no responsible officers or persons who could be accepted as guides by this Parliament. The present scheme further has the advantage of the debates of last session, and it has also had the additional advantage of being threshed out and considered by certain agricultural experts from several, although not all of the States. At the Conference which assembled during the month of April, 1907, New South Wales was represented by Mr. H. V. Jackson, Victoria by Dr. Cherry, South Australia by Dr. Holtze, and Western Australia by Mr. J. Dreyer. The great State of Queensland, which is probably more interested in this scheme than any other State of the Commonwealth, was not represented there. It is true that written! reports from Queensland officers are embodied in this memorandum, but the fact cannot be lost sight of that Queensland was not represented on the Conference by any expert or any witness.
– We invited them.
– I know that, and it is to be regretted that the State Government did not respond to the invitation. It may be that the State Government, considered that they had given - enough evidence on the matters covered by this scheme to the Tariff Commission.
– They regretted that they had not an officer available at the time. That was their answer.
– It is true that very valuable information was given by Queensland experts before the Tariff Commission, about two or three of the items dealt with in this scheme. The evidence will be found in the reports of that tody, although” I do not intend to pause at present to dwell upon it. I simply draw attention to the fact that Queensland was not properly represented at the Conference.
– But we might go on holding conferences for a very long time, and always have one or other of the States absent.
– On such a scheme as this we want the opinions and advice not merely of departmental representatives, but also of practical farmers.
– Mr. Dreyer is a practical man.
- Mr. Dreyer is a journalist in Western Australia. He may have a little practical experience, as I understand he has recently gone on the land, but I certainly think we ought to have the evidence and advice of practical farmers and orchardists - in fact of those who have considered this matter from a practical and not from a sentimental or theoretical point of view. We should like to know the opinions and views of men who are prepared to sink money in these undertakings, because, after all, that is one of the strongest and best tests of the feasibility of schemes such as this. The advantage of the proposed national Department of Agriculture, to which reference has been made, is that the Federal Government would have access to responsible officers of their own, and in the absence of the evidence of practical men throughout the country, they would be able to take the advice and guidance of those officers, to whom they could look, and whom they could hold responsible for their evidence or recommendations. These gentlemen may be all very good in their way and in their own States, but they may be submitting recommendations biased by a regard for their own State point of view, and their own State interests. It would be a distinct aid to us if, in the absence of practical witnesses, we had Federal officers advising us. It is said that although we have no national Department of Agriculture, we can utilize the existing instrumentalities in the shape of the State Departments. What guarantee has the Parliament in this Bill for the proper earning of this money? Who is to decide that the bounties have been properly and legitimately earned before the money is paid over to those who claim it? It may be said in reply that we are going to utilize the States officers, but they again may be interested in their own industries and their own people, and may not occupy the independent and unbiased position of Federal certifying officers, who would owe loyalty and allegiance to this Parliament and the Federal Government, to whom they would be under a special obligation to give proper advice. Having expressed these opinions, I am not going to do anything to hamper or delay this scheme. A member does his duty if he expresses his opinion frankly and fearlessly, leaving the Executive to take the entire responsibility. Adequate and comprehensive precautions and safeguards will have to be taken in the case of a number of these items, about which I am not now going into detail, to prevent the waste of public money. Otherwise the intentions of the Government - the good and laudable intentions at the root of this scheme - will be absolutely frustrated, and a large amount of the money will be wasted. 1 may as well indulge in a word of warning also. Should this scheme - the first effort and experiment of the kind in Federal legislation - turn out a failure, it may be an utter and absolute disappointment, it will create a natural feeling of disgust and antagonism towards the bounty system, which it will probably take a quarter of a century to recover from. I would therefore strongly urge the Government not to show any unnecessary haste, not to push this Bill through for want of something else’ to do, but rather to take the advice of friends of the scheme, to hedge it about with’ every possible precaution, and, if they can possibly see their way to do so, to organize what may be regarded as the small beginnings of a national Department of Agriculture in the shape of a committee or commission of Federal public servants, selected from the Customs or some other Department, to advise them independently of States representatives. We must have independent advice. We must have the very best assistance available, and it would be a matter of the greatest regret if, through a desire merely to gain political kudos by pushing this Bill through at all hazards, and at any cost, proper consideration was not given to it, and proper safeguards were not provided. I do not entertain any misgivings about the financial aspect of the matter, which the honorable member for Angas has referred to. If the scheme is good and sound, if all these objects of Federal liberality are worthy objects, and if we feel assured that the money will not be wasted, then I, and I believe many other honorable members, will not begrudge even half-a-million expended over fifteen years. I believe, however, that a number of honorable members fear that the scheme is going to be rushed through without adequate precautions and safeguards. I apprehend that there will not be much difficulty, so far as the financial aspect is concerned, in so adjusting the revenue duties of the Federal Tariff as to obtain the amount of revenue necessary. That is a matter for the Executive to deal with when they bring down their Tariff proposals. The Government have been in office so long that they ought now to be in a position to advise the House as to what will be the financial result of those appropriations. There can be no doubt that if we are to launch out upon this scheme it ought to be an adequate and comprehensive one. The Government could not bring down a scheme of bounties for a few thousand pounds, because that might be open to the objection that justice was not done to all the States. In a scheme such as this attention should be given to the possibilities and requirements of each and every State, so that there could be no complaint of favoritism or injustice. So far as I can see, this scheme contains items which may be considered fairly representative of the industries and agricultural resources, not only of tropical regions, but also of temperate zones. As such, I am prepared at the present stage to give it a friendly consideration without indulging in any carping criticism, but I must warn the Government once more that they ought not to rush it through too hurriedly, but should be prepared to receive, and give independent consideration to, every friendly suggestion which may be made by honorable members.
.- I was very pleased to hear the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Ben- digo, because I am much of his opinion in regard to the Bill. I am not opposed to the offering of bounties to encourage agricultural production, if a carefully thought out scheme is brought forward ; but I agree with him that we should not unduly hasten this matter. We should not try to rush the Bill through regardless of all considerations but the convenience of a few. The honorable and learned member is chairman of the Tariff Commission, and he has told us, in so many words, that it is not advisable for the Government to press forward this legislation until the Commission’s reports are before Parliament, and the valuable information contained in them available to honorable members. His speech opened a clear path to those who, like myself, do not oppose the principle of bounties, but feel that this is not the time to enact a measure of this kind. Very little opposition will be shown to any measure calculated - to quote the memorandum which has been put before us - to widen the range of agricultural development, to encourage the cultivation of products suitable to the varied conditions of soil and climate found in the Commonwealth.
The electoral division which I represent contains large areas already entirely given up to agriculture, and others in which agricultural operations are rapidly extending. Therefore, any proposal for assisting the agricultural industry is of vital interest to my constituents. Throughout the recent electoral campaign, I made it a point to bring under their notice the advisability of establishing a Commonwealth Department of Agriculture. I heard it interjected this afternoon that the States authorities have objected to such a step. I do not know if that is so. If there have been objections, they were probably based on the supposition that work would be duplicated, and that the Commonwealth Department would only undertake what the States Departments are doing very effectually, so far as their means will allow. There is no necessity for the duplication of work. When we establish a Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau, it may be found that certain things which are now being done by the Agricultural Departments of the States could be better done by it. I am certain that that will be so. Perhaps one of the most important functions of the United States Agricultural Bureau is the collection, from all parts of the world, of information relating to agriculture. Similar work is being done here by our six States Departments ; but probably for a smaller expenditure we could get it done far more efficiently by one Commonwealth Department. While I am in favour of the payment of bounties, I think that we should first establish a Commonwealth Department of Agriculture. I know from personal observation what immense assistance has been given to the farmers of Canada and other countries, as well as to those in our own States, by the action of Government Departments in collecting and placing before them information which, acting individually, they could not obtain. What, in practical terms, is the object of the Bill? It is to encourage farmers. to enter upon new forms of production, to cultivate crops which they have not yet tried to grow, and which are not grown in the country, except, perhaps, in a few isolated instances, by experimentalists. What is it that deters farmers from trying to produce crops which they have hitherto not grown? Generally speaking, it is lack of knowledge. A farmer who wishes to cultivate some plant or vegetable which he has not hitherto grown, needs to know what variety to obtain, and what are the conditions of soil requisite to success, as well as the methods of cultivation to be pursued, the manner of harvesting, the implements necessary, the cost of production, marketing and other particulars. It is the want of such knowledge that keeps most men from embarking on new undertakings. The Agricultural Departments of the States are not able to acquire and disseminate information of this kind as well as it could be done by a Commonwealth Department.
– I think that such work could be better done by the Departments of the States. In this matter, we need decentralization, not centralization.
– At the present time we have six States Departments doing work which could be done by one Commonwealth Department. In America, the Federal Agricultural Bureau is not found to clash with those of the States. The latter have their own experimental farms and colleges which the Federal Department subsidizes, and works through. That is what we should aim at. The American Federal Department sends its men to experimental farms in different parts of the United States, to obtain practical training under the conditions which apply in certain districts, and it uses those men to instruct others. I believe that it employs something like 10,000 persons, directly and indirectly, many of them acting as correspondents, and sending from every country in the world regular reports 011 every imaginable topic likely to be of interest to the agriculturist. These reports are collated in the central office. What is not worth keeping is weeded out, but all useful information so supplied is published in pamphlet form, and distributed amongst the farmers of the country. There is also a Central Laboratory in which chemical experiments relating to agriculture are made. A man who is thinking of taking up land in any district can send samples of its soil for analysis, and the departmental experts will tell him what its deficiencies are, and what it is suitable for, assisting him so far as they can. This work, probably because of lack of funds, is not being done as it might be by the Agricultural Departments of the States here. The object of the Bill is the encouragement of new forms of agriculture, and my contention is that it is chiefly due to lack of information that our farmers have not undertaken the production of crops hitherto neglected by them. The giving of bounties is perhaps a needful step, but the first requisite is the supplying of information which will enable men to enter upon new industries with the hope of success. We should put the horse before the cart. It seems to me that the offering of a bounty now is equivalent to making this statement to a man - “ If you enter upon the cultivation of, say, rubber trees, and succeed in producing a certain quantity and quality of rubber, and the Minister should consider that you have paid the ruling standard rate of wages, you will be paid a certain sum to recoup you for any loss arising from your lack of knowledge in the experimental stages.” The amount of the bounty will depend on the number of the applicants, so that a man will start without knowing exactly what he will receive, and will be entirely at the mercy of the Minister in interpreting certain conditions. It is very well known that in the country, especially in the agricultural industry, it is very difficult for a man to state what the standard wage is. Everybody who has had anything to do with employing labour in countrydistricts knows that often and often menwill come along in search of work, especially in bad times. About drought time, I happened to be on a station near the coast of Queensland. I employed al! the men I could, and paid them good wages, because I do not believe in paying; low wages, although, perhaps, some of my honorable friends on the other side think that we here do. I believe in getting a good man, and giving him a good wage.
– What does the honorable member call a good wage - the price of a meal ?
– I went all through that when I was electioneering.
– The honorable member would not omit those provisions from the Bill?
– I am going to point out how, in taking certain precautions, we may cause hardship to some individuals. In the country districts, in a hard time, especially during a drought, there come along the roads a number of men who are looking for jobs, and possibly the person to whom they apply has not work for them to do. On the occasion I referred to, a number of the men who called upon me were decent fellows. They came to me and said - “ Will you give us a bit of beef, boss? “ I replied - “ Yes, I will give you rations, as we usually do.” They said - “ We cannot pay you now, as we have not had any work to do for some time, but we will send you the money along when we get it.” In three cases out of four, I got the money, showing that they were honest men looking for work. I had not work for the men to do. I was employing all the hands I possibly could. A land-owner in the country can always make work if he likes. It is probably work which, from an ‘economical point of view, he would not do for two or three months, that is, until his own hands were available. But to assist men in adverse circumstances he may be willing to let them have the work at a certain rate.
– What about immigration now?
– We are not dealing with immigration.
– The honorable member is showing very plainly that we do not want immigration.
– If we put in a provision regarding the standard rate of wage it will only handicap the object which Ministers ha.ve in view. Employers do not want to pay low wages ; they pay the wages which they can afford to pay, and there is only a certain amount of labour available. In bush work - which is generally rough work - it is not highly-skilled labour which is wanted. There is a number of men who cannot earn very high rates, but who are very glad to do such work at the rates which employers can afford to give. That is one difficulty I foresee. If the Bill were passed with a provision for the payment of a standard wage it might debar employers from giving work to men who really wanted it, because they would be afraid that if they did so they would lose the bounty. There is another very important matter which I think might receive attention from the Government. One reason why a great many of these industries cannot be undertaken without- a great deal of spoon-feeding is the cost of labour. Take, for instance, cotton. Cotton-picking is admirably suited for child labour if it can be obtained. From every point of view, especially from the stand-point of encouraging a White Australia, we should endeavour to do all we can to bring about such conditions as would permit these industries to be carried on with white labour paid a decent wage. One way in which we could undoubtedly promote that purpose would be by offering rewards or bounties for the invention and application of labour-saving machinery for work which cannot be profitably done with white labour under such conditions as we wish to maintain here. I believe that if the Government were to take that matter very seriously into consideration they- would find that they could do a vast deal towards establishing a great many of these industries. In many cases the only reason for their non-establishment is the cost of production owing to the ruling rate of wages. I presume that all matters of detail will have to be dealt with in Committee. But I hope that the Government will not attempt to press the Bill through at the present time. Many of us who are friendly to the principle of paying bounties, and anxious to do all we can in that way to encourage the growth of these industries, feel that this is not the time for taking the step proposed. In the first place, if it is possible, we should have a Federal Agricultural Bureau started to help us in carrying out the objects of the Bill; and secondly, we should have the information which will be afforded by the reports of the Tariff Commission to assist us in dealing with details.
– I favour the protection of our industries and bounties to encourage the production of such things as we can grow, or to assist in the growth of new products, but I think that we have something to learn from history. In Victoria, at the time of what was called Mr. Gillies’ Boom Budget, no less than £233,000 was voted in the Appropriation Act for the year 1889-90 for the payment of bonuses to promote the agricultural, dairy, fruit, and wine industries. In that appropriation I find sums voted for exactly the same objects as the Government have in view in submitting this Bill. The Parliament of Victoria voted £37,000 to be given to factories for fruit canning, fruit-growing, dairying, raisin and currant making, and vegetable oil making, and for preparing for the manufacturer flax, hemp, silk, and other products named in regulations, and £10,000 for the importation of new varieties of seeds and plants. I know that the latter sum was absolutely wasted, because it went into the hands of a couple of seedsmen ; there was not a shilling’s worth of gain to Victoria. Then £75,000 was appropriated for bonuses to growers of grapes, fruits, and general vegetable products, just as is proposed in this Bill. A large acreage was planted with vines; the bonus was paid ; but at the present time we have less acreage under vines than we had before it was voted. That experiment was a failure, and a number of persons were ruined by it. I may mention that a fish-canning factory was started at Warrnambool, and another at Port Fairy, in what was then my own electorate. Both are now in liquidation.
– They were started for the purpose of securing the bonus.
– Exactly. I am told that still another factory was established at Portland in the same electorate. All of these have been failures. It will simply involve a waste of public money if we attempt to foster industries which are not likely to succeed. But there are some industries which I think would be of general use to Australia. Personally, I would rather see the whole of the money which it is proposed to appropriate under this Bill spent in fostering’ two or three productions than frittered away in an idle attempt to encourage the production of a dozen or twenty articles. For instance, it is proposed to expend £5,000 annually by way of bounties upon the production of peanuts, and £1,000 upon the production of rice. I maintain that the expenditure of £1,000 annually to encourage the cultivation of rice would be absolutely worthless. But if, on the other hand, we can successfully establish the rubber industry in Australia - a commodity which is in universal demand - we shall create an industry of great value to the Commonwealth. Further, I believe that it is worth while spending money in an attempt to grow cotton.
– It is grown in Australia.
– It is; but I desire to see it grown in payable quantities, so that we may produce all that we require for our own use. Then I should like to see cotton as well as woollen mills established in Australia so that all the cotton goods that we need may be locally manufactured. Instead of frittering away small sums to placate the different States, it would perhaps be better to spend the whole of the money which it is proposed to appropriate under the Bill in the Northern Territory, which we desire to settle.
– It is questionable whether it would be better to spend the money in that way.
– I am satisfied that it is preferable to successfully establish one industry than to risk twenty failures. In Victoria, not a single industry has been established as the result of the expenditure of £233,000 by way of bonuses, because the butter industry was on a fair way to success before the bonus system was initiated here. The whole of the butter bonus found its way into the hands of the middlemen. It has been proved time after time that those who’ claimed the bonus were the Melbourne merchants, who were exporting the butter, and that the producer did not gain a single shilling from it.
– That is the worst feature connected with all bonuses.
– It was one of the greatest scandals in modern history.
– It was a scandal, and it is one that we do not want to see repeated. The tropical products that we can grow successfully in Australia are rubber, cotton, and tobacco. We have a climate which is admirably suited to tobacco culture, and I am firmly of opinion that we could grow all the tobacco consumed in Australia within our own borders instead of being obliged to import large quantities. Hitherto, we have not dealt with the iron industry. Would it not be a great thing - even if it involved the expenditure of the whole of the money provided for in the Bill - if we were successful in establishing that industry?
– It would be worth the whole of these small industries.
– In the States Parliaments it has been- the practice of Governments to endeavour to placate every honorable member in every electorate. This Parliament should be above that sort of thing. We do not want to fritter away £500,000 in an attempt to establish small industries which will confer no benefit upon Australia. There is just one other article which I think might be profitably grown in several of the States - I allude to flax. When I was a young man I resided in New Zealand, where they had just embarked upon flax culture. Now the industry is a big one, and is worth about £500,000 annually. There are large areas of swampy ground - heath land - in Western Australia, in the south-west of Victoria, and in many parts of New South Wales where New Zealand flax could be successfully grown. It is a profitable article to cultivate, being worth about £20 per ton, and it takes four or five years before a return can be obtained. If we can secure such a return from land which is to-day absolutely useless we shall be doing something of value to the Commonwealth. If the Government will confine their attention to four or five articles instead of attempting to foster the production of many commodities, which are unlikely to succeed here, I’ think that they would be doing some good. To my mind, it is idle to attempt too much. Another instance of the waste of public money in Victoria occurs to my mind. Year after year large sums of money have been placed on the Estimates for the purpose of assisting the mining industry. .Up to the present more than £[500, 000 has been expended in that direction by the granting of small sums.
– How much of that money went to Ballarat?
– A good deal of it went to Ballarat, and it has been wasted there. It would have paid the Victorian Government better to have expended £100,000 in opening up new districts.
– To have run a mine of its own.
– Yes ; even to have expended the money in a mine of its own than to have expended it in initiating half-a-dozen small schemes. I believe it would pay the State to establish experimental farms for rubber and cotton cultivation in the Northern Territory.
– That is good sound Socialism.
– The honorable member may . call it Socialism or whatever he pleases. My point is that we ought to spend the money voted by Parliament in such a way that we shall obtain a return for it. If we can encourage industries in which large sums will be invested we shall naturally cause more labour to be employed, and the money expended will have been well spent. But to spend it in an endeavour to foster the production of a number of small articles which will yield no return whatever, will neither be of use to Australia nor will it redound to the credit of this Parliament.
.- The honorable member who has just resumed his seat has put before the House in much more excellent language than I could have done, one or two points that I wished to urge upon the consideration of honorable members. I take up the same position now that I did when the Bounties Bill was under consideration in the last Parliament. Upon that occasion I said that had the total amount which it was proposed to expend by way of bounties been confined to one or two items, there might have been some prospect of success attending our efforts. I also informed the House that the quantity of cotton which is imported into Great Britain for the purpose of its manufactures aggregates over £80,000,000 annually. I was instrumental in sending some of the cotton produced in Queensland to England, and reports showed that it was of a superior character. It was so good, indeed, that I was convinced that we should be justified in spending a large sum of money in an effort to encourage the industry. I also illustrated on that occasion what my honorable friend the member for Balaclava has so graphically described - the manner in which money is squandered on the prospecting vote. As one who is interested in mining, and has some knowledge of how money can be spent in prospecting, I can say that the vote could have been much more serviceably applied in one or two other directions. References have been made to-night to peanuts, sunflower seeds, and similar matters. lt seems to me to be ridiculous for the Federal Parliament to be occupied with subjects of that kind. We ought to be told how the expenditure is to be administered. But instead we are asked to vote a large sum,- which is to be placed in the hands of the Minister for distribution amongst various persons who may try to take advantage of the bounties. I contend that the money would be thrown away.
I approach this question, as I did on a previous occasion, as one who is friendly in every sense of the term to the expenditure of money by the Commonwealth in assisting in the development of new industries by means of bounties. But we have not yet provided for the proper administration of such funds. I say, with all respect, that the gentlemen who have prepared the memorandum which has been put before us are not competent to furnish such a report as we require. Their knowledge and experience are not sufficient.
– They were nominated by their own Governments.
– I do not differentiate between the men and the Governments to whom I allude, though I have in my mind two officers whose opinion, I say, as a business man, I would not take in reference to the distribution of public money for such purposes.
– Can the honorable member mention better authorities?
– If the money is to be spent advantageously, we should obtain the views of specialists. At present we have merely a general report, which, no doubt, is the result of a good deal of trouble on the part of those who have prepared it. They unquestionably framed it to the best of their ability, and it may be regarded as a conscientious document. But if, as suggested by my honorable friend the member for Balaclava, it were determined to apply this money in one or two distinct directions, we could obtain the services of men who could speak with authority as to how the bounties could best be applied. We are asked to vote this large sum of money on a general report by Government officers who have not the knowledge which is necessary to be supplied to us before we sanction such a scheme. I am saying this as one who is friendly to the Bill and desirous of finding directions in which money may be properly applied to assist in the establishment of industries. My honorable friend the member for Flinders struck the keynote of this debate when he pointed out in the strongest way that we are asked by the Government to vote half-a-million of money, spread over fifteen years, when we have no information before us as to what the general financial proposals of the Government are. I wish to see an old-age pensions scheme formulated. I am solid on that point. The Government also propose to institute penny postage; and other propo sals are foreshadowed which involve the expenditure of large sums. Surely the House ought to have from the Government some idea as to what its financial arrangements are to be. We ought to know whether, as it is rumoured, they intend to bring forward a Tariff on a very much higher scale than that which at present prevails. If so, we must anticipate a diminished revenue from that source.
– Not necessarily.
– I was returned to this House on the understanding that I would endeavour to secure effective protection for the manufacturer and protection for the worker. So far as the Tariff can be used for the purpose, I wish to see it applied effectively for humane considerations. But instead of bringing forward their Tariff, the Government ask us to take up a Bill which is a mere stop-gap. It is rubbish to tell us that the measure is urgent. The explanation simply is that the Government have no other business to bring forward.
– We want the Tariff.
– We all want the Tariff. Throughout the length and breadth of Australia we were told that the first business to be handled by this Parliament would be the amendment of the Tariff. My electors regarded that as an important undertaking, and I am sure that the majority of honorable members regard it in the same light. We expected that the Tariff proposals of the Government would be brought forward at the earliest possible moment. The delay is unsettling business throughout Australia. I am constantly being asked, “ Cannot you tell us when this Tariff is coming on ? What is the range of the Tariff to be? Is it going to be much higher than the present Tariff?” It is time the document was laid upon the table so that business people may know how they stand. The Government are dislocating trade and commerce.It is time they took the House into their confidence. I believe that my honorable friend, the member for Bendigo, as Chairman of the Tariff Commission has discharged his duties, and sent in his reports. A reasonable time might be given to the other side to deliver their reports, and if they are not then delivered, the House should be given an opportunity of considering the wholequestion. The honorable member for Flinders deserves the thanks of the House for the views which he has expressed.
– Does the honorable member know that. I have not yet received the reports of the free-trade members of the Commission?
– I was not aware that the whole of the reports had not been sent in. I would impose a time limit. It is time the whole of the reports were received. I quite expected that the Treasurer would make some explanation as to the financial position. In regard to the administration of the bounties, it has been suggested that economy and efficiency might be secured by the establishment of an Agricultural Bureau. A project of that character was discussed in the last Parliament. It is desirable to create such machinery. But that an Agricultural Bureau would for many years to come be in a position to take the technical control of the distribution of so large a sum of money to so many industries is, I think, out of the question. Therefore everything points to the fact that if the Government are earnest in their endeavour to apply this halfmillion of money properly, they will carry out the suggestion made in the last session of the last Parliament when the Bounties Bill was before us, to take back their measure and bring forward three or four specific proposals as to which money may be serviceably applied. Then there would be something substantial before the House. We have been led to understand that the desire of honorable members of the Labour Party is to open up new avenues for employment in Australia. Do they imagine for one moment that the production of peanuts is likely to provide any substantial increase of employment? If we developed the various processes of carding and combing wool, and, at the same time, succeeded in establishing the cotton industry in the Commonwealth, we should do much to build up our national wealth, and create work for the people. The principle of this Bill will probably be affirmed, but I hope that in Committee we shall strike out all the proposals dealing with what may be described as rubbishy items, and leave in the Bill propositions relating only to three or four industries, the establishment of which will be beneficial to the Commonwealth and satisfactory to those whose earnest desire it is to see assistance given to undertakings worthy of the Commonwealth.
. - I desire at the outset to congratulate the Attorney-General on the fair way in which he submitted the Bill to the House, and I am sure that -the information supplied by him was welcomed by honorable members generally. Nothing, however, has been said during this debate to cause me to alter the position I took up when the Bounties Bill was before us last year. Some honorable members appear to hold that those who do not approve of a particular form of assistance for the agricultural industry must necessarily be hostile to that industry. That is an absurd position to take up. The electorate which I represent is devoted almost wholly to agriculture, and, during the last election campaign, I found that my constituents displayed special interest in the questions of preferential trade -and the granting of bounties. I do not believe, however, that the passing of this Bill would lead to the establishment of the industries which it is designed to assist. Of those to which it refers, the cotton industry would be the most successful if it were established here; but the experience of the cotton trade in all parts of the world proves, to my mind at least, that this Bill is not likely to establish it in Australia.
– Why not?
– Because cotton picking and cotton growing generally is, all the world over, a cheap labour industry.
– Cotton picking is not a cheaper labour industry than is hop picking.
– There is no labour cheaper than is white labour.
– The Conference, on whose report this Bill is founded, based the whole of its calculations regarding the success of the cotton industry on the assumption that the cost of picking would be id. per lb. During the present year, 24d. to 3d. per lb. was paid for picking hops, so that it will be seen that the Minister, as usual, knows nothing about the subject with which he is dealing. Cotton growing, wherever successful, is a black man’s industry - a cheap labour industry. As the honorable member for South Sydney has said, one section of the industry in the United States is carried on by white labour, but by what class of white labour? For the most part, it is a class of white labour which is despised even by the negroes - a class known as the “ mean whites “ of the southern States - of the black belt. The bounty system has already been applied to cotton growing in Australia. Half-a-century ago Queensland granted a substantial bounty for the production of cotton, and the industry flourished there as long as the American Civil War continued, and the bonus was paid. But when the war ceased, and the price of cotton, which was enormously increased during that struggle, returned to its normal level, the industry in Queensland failed.
– It practically ceased as an industry after the close of the American Civil War.
– It was subsequently revived without a bonus.
– It was, but again proved a failure. Can any one say that the bounty system has proved a success in Victoria ?
– Reference has been made to the butter bonus.
– Some honorable members attribute the success of the butter industry in Victoria to the bounty granted by the State Government, but can they explain why New South Wales has succeeded without a bounty in establishing the industry on an even larger scale ? I believe, also, although I speak subject to correction, that no bounty was paid to encourage the butter industry in Queensland. Certainly the system was not applied, to the industry in New South Wales, which now practically commands the butter market of Australia. The industry has been placed on a sound footing bv men who entered it, not in the hope merely of acquiring a bounty, but with the deliberate intention of making an honest living by it. That, after all, is the best way to found art industry. Wherever I go, whether it be to a large city or a mining centre, I invariably meet with men who think they can teach the farmer” how to run his selection. It is utter nonsense for experts to report to the farmer that he should cease growing wheat, potatoes, or other products by the raising of which he is making a fair living, and turn his attention to other branches of agriculture in which, according to them, he is bound to make a great deal more. There is not a more practical body of men than is the farming community, and we can leave them to select for themselves that industry which they think it will best pay them to adopt.
– Nor is there a more conservative section of the community.
– The honorable member is speaking for those in his own electorate. I can only say that, having regard to the choice which they made at the last general election, they must be exceedingly conservative. We can thoroughly trust the farmer to farm his land to the best advantage.
– Should not the Government afford him means of securing agricultural education?
– The Government can best assist the farmer by freeing him from restrictions by giving him, easy means of access to his market, by enabling him to secure his tools of trade as cheaply as possible, and by refraining from imposing excessively heavy duties upon him. If he is left to work out his own salvation, he will do it.
– But what about technical knowledge ?
– Much good can and is being done by means of technical education. Reference has been made to the desirableness of establishing a Department of Agriculture. The Department of Agriculture in New South Wales to-day is issuing monthly a Gazette which would be a credit to any bureau.
– And so is the Victorian Department.
– How does the honorable member reconcile that fact with his argument that we should leave the farmer to his own devices?
– I referred to the issue of the New South Wales Agricultural Gazette, in relation to the proposal to establish a Federal Department of Agriculture. It has been said that nothing is being done in this connexion by the States, and I am simply pointing out that the Agricultural Gazette of New South Wales gives much expert information to the farmer - that it supplies him with the technical education to which the honorable member for Wimmera has referred - and that it is largely availed of by the farmers of New South Wales and other States.
– Queensland also issues an Agricultural Gazette.
– I am very glad” to hear it. The honorable member’s statement supports my argument. An excellent spirit has been shown by the officers of the Departments of Agriculture in the several’
States. For instance, if a disease suddenly breaks out in one State, and the officers of the Department there think it advisable to secure the assistance and cooperation of departmental officers in other States, they have no difficulty in doing so. Tasmania has received expert assistance freely and generously, from both New South Wales and Victoria.
– Does not the honorable member think that we ought to postpone the consideration of this Bill, and proceed to pass an Old-Age Pensions Bill?
– I would infinitely rather see this money spent on old-age pensions than frittered away in bounties which, will go into the .pockets of a few individuals whom the Bill is not intended to benefit. Let us consider the production of olive oil, of palm oil - and that is a very suggestive industry in this connexion - and also the canning of fruits. I ask honorable members how much of the bounties offered for these productions will go into the hands of the producers? Not a cent. It is idle to say that these bounties are intended to assist production, when every member of the House knows that not a copper will go into the pockets of the producers ; that all this money will go into the pockets of the middlemen and manufacturers. t
– The honorable member cannot have read the Bill if he says that.
– As the honorable member for Flinders clearly pointed out there are clauses in this Bill through which we might drive a coach and horses. I take the article of dried fruits, and ask the honorable member for Laanecoorie to say how much of the bounty offered for the production of canned fruits will go to the producer.
– The” producer dries the fruit at Mildura.
– In that case he would get the bounty.
– So he would in every other case.
– With the knowledge which characterizes all his statements the honorable member for Maribyrnong says that the producer would get the bounty in every case, but I would ask him to mention another of the items dealt with in this Bill in connexion with which the grower of the article is also the manufacturer. In isolated instances a small amount of preserving will be done, usually by the wives of producers, but I say that the great bulk of the industries which are to be assisted under this Bill will be carried on by the manufacturers. It must necessarily be so. The man who grows the wheat is not the miller ; the man who grows fruit does not make jam ; the man who dries fruits does not grow them, and the man who grows olives does not manufacture oil from them.
– The grower does nearly all that in Mildura.
– I paid a very interesting visit to Mildura, and I believe the honorable member is correct in that statement, but a very great proportion of the drying of fruit at Mildura is done in the open air, and that system of preserving fruit cannot be generally adopted.
– The same thing takes place at Renmark, in South Australia.
– In almost every instance these bounties will go to the manufacturer. I sat in another place last year when Mr., then Senator, Staniforth Smith delivered a very instructive, and able address on the production in the Straits Settlements of many of the articles referred to in this Bill, and, speaking from memory, I think I heard him say that coffee plantations in the Straits Settlements on which considerable sums had been expended were going to ruin because it did not pay those engaged in the industry to pick the berries, although they had command of the cheapest labour in the world. How are we to compete with those outside in carrying on the industries referred to in this Bill, when in every other part of the world they are being carried on by cheap labour? This applies especially to the production of cotton. The great cotton producing countries of the world are the United States of America, Egypt, and India; and those engaged in the industry in those countries have command of the cheapest labour in the world. In Egypt, the wages paid are probably from is. 8d. to is. gd. per week; in India; 2d. or 3d. per day is the current rate of wage ; and with our standard rate of wage we could not hope to compete with those countries. If we are to assist the cotton industry, it would be much better to give a bonus on the local production of the manufactured article from cotton grown in Australia.
– The grower would not get that.
– Does the honorable member say that we should have coloured labour to produce cotton?
– No; the Minister is doing me an injustice. I did not suggest that we should have coloured labour. The point I am trying to make is that if we propose to export raw cotton, it will be impossible for us to compete with the black labour of the East, of Egypt, and of the United States. The only way in which we can hope to establish the cotton industry is by granting a bonus on the production of cotton goods manufactured here from cotton grown in Australia for use in Australia.
– That has been tried, and has been proved to be a failure.
– Personally, I am opposed to the bounty system altogether, and if a division is taken on the second reading nf the Bill, I shall be found voting against it. But if we are to fool away this money, let us adopt such a course that we may hope to do some good with it. In moving the second reading of the Bill, the Attorney-General gave us to understand that the Government based their proposals for bounties almost wholly on the report of a Conference of experts. The chief product dealt with in the Bill is cotton, and perhaps the greatest amount of good under this Bill is expected from the cotton industry. Let us see what the experts have to say on the proposed bounty on. cotton. This is the way in which they open their report -
After considerable discussion, the Conference recognised that the cotton industry is deserving of encouragement. At the same time, members agree that the prospects of the industry in Australia are not specially promising.
– Queensland was not represented at that Conference.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that we are being asked to pass a Bounty Bill on the opinion of men who know nothing of the industries upon which they reported ?
– I say that their report is an imperfect one.
– Before we are asked to pass a measure involving the payment of large sums of money as bounties, based upon the report of experts, we should have a perfect report.
– Let the honorable member move an amendment on the second reading.
– No; but I shall vote against the second reading if a. division is taken. The statement in the report to which I have referred is borne out by the experience of the cotton industry in Queensland, and of cotton production in all parts of the world. The people of Australia have decided that we shall not employ coloured alien labour. We are providing in this Bill for a standard rate of wage, and I am quite certain that if that rate is to be paid, the cotton industry in Australia must prove a failure from the start. Personally, I do not wish to see any industry established in Australia the success of which, apart from bounties,, must depend on the importation of alien and cheap labour. There is another very important phase of this question which should receive the consideration of honorable members, and it is this : Mr. Staniforth Smith has only recently obtained some tons of seeds and plants with the object of establishing in New Guinea almost every industry for which it is proposed to grant a bounty under this Bill. We are starting special industries in a Territory of the Commonwealth, at the expense and under the auspices of the Commonwealth. Is Australia to take a position unique in the whole history of the world, and place a barrier against the productions of our own Territory? Are we, by legislation, to encourage settlers to develop that new country, and when they have done so, shut the door and refuse to admit one ounce of their produce into Australia? If the industries of New Guinea are to be a success, and that Territory is to be treated as part of Australia, all the bounties we can offer will not establish tropical production in Australia. The rate of wages, which the Commission has set down for work done on the plantations in New Guinea, is £3 a year, and the Australian miners there pay the men, who are slaving to death in the mines, the magnificent wage of £6 a year, from which are deducted all fines. If these industries, as I say, are to succeed in New Guinea with black labour at £3 a year, they cannot succeed in Australia with a standard rate of wage. In my opinion, this Bill has not received the attention which ought to have been given to it. A good many of the items in the schedule, if passed, will simply mean money thrown away, because they will not have the effect of establishing the industries. The farmers of Australia generally have not asked for this system of bounties, and, speaking for my own State, I believe the producers there are quite prepared to go their own way. Certainly, they know what pays them best. If we are to have bounties, let us adopt a businesslike procedure. The position taken up by other Opposition members is a proper one, namely, that before we are asked to pass these bounties, we should be informed where the money is to come from.
– Supposing we knew where the money was to come from, would that be any justification for this Bill ?
– Not with me. But if we are to embark on this large expenditure - because, so far as some of the States are concerned, it is large - the Treasurer ought to tell us where he proposes to obtain the money. That has not been done; and I shall support the postponing of the Bill until we have dealt with the Tariff or the Treasurer’s Budget, whichever comes first. I think that both these matters ought to be first dealt with, so that we may know the exact position of Australian finance before being asked to embark on the expenditure contemplated in the Bill.
.- I rise to emphasize the point raised by the honorable member for Balaclava in his history of the experience of the Victorian Parliament in relation to bonuses. As that honorable member indicated, the Victorian Parliament voted a large sum of money, and the Ministry, who were called the “ Boom” Ministry, placated members of the House in order to keep themselves in power for an interminable period. The honorable member for Franklin expressed the opinion that this Bill has not been thought out by the Government, but with that I do not agree. On the contrary, I think that the Bill has been carefully thought out, and is a very clever piece of business from beginning to end. There have been three or four questions discussed since the session commenced. We have had the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill, which is the forerunner of the greater scheme for taking over the Northern Territory ; and I have no doubt that the Government desires to get the former measure out of the way. Now we have this Bounties Bill introduced prior to the Tariff, and I do not like the look of the situation; I do not like the idea of placing halfamillion of money in the hands of the Government to placate their supporters.
– That is a very dishonorable remark to make !
– I shall repeat the remark, if it be necessary. Perhaps the Attorney-General has not had the wide parliamentary experience that other honorable members have.
– The honorable member forgets that he is in the Federal Parliament !
– I hope honorable members will allow me to proceed, for it is not my intention to detain the House long. The encouragement proposed to te given to new industries under the Bill is of a very limited character. ‘ For instance, we are asked to vote sums of £6,000, £3,000, and £8,000 in one year for the respective items against those amounts. These votes will be found absolutely insufficient to be of any value to the Commonwealth in connexion with population and production. That being the case, surely the road is open to honorable members who support the Government to see that their States get properly treated.
– I suppose that is what was done in the State House of which the honorable member was a member.
– If the honorable member who interjects has been a member of a State Parliament, he will have had that experience, too.
– I have been in a State House, but that has not been my experience.
– I should like to see a better state of things obtain in the Federal Parliament. This is the third week of the session ; and it was clearly understood in the constituencies that the Tariff proposals were sufficiently forward to permit of their being dealt with. What does it mean? I am not breaking any confidence when I say that one honorable member, who occupies a high position in the House, seemed to hint, when I had a conversation with him the other day, that if we did not take care, the business of the Federal Parliament would run to Easter. Let me offer a word of caution to the Government. In the Victorian Parliament, if a Ministry trenched on a new year, it generally went out of office; and that would be such a lamentable thing to the present Government that I mention it as a warning. The other night we dealt with the Quarantine Bill - a contentious measure. The people have intrusted us with great powers for the limited exercise of legislative functions; and I venture to say that it was never contemplated that, under the Constitution, this Parliament would indulge, as it has, in the huge so-called humanitarian legislation that has marked the past six years. I could cite numerous instances in which the truth of the lines -
Man’s inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn, has been exemplified in connexion with! that legislation. Parliament might have occupied itself with greater measures which affect the social welfare of tho people. The question of irrigation was incidentally alluded to to-night; and, according to the Bill, we are going to give an insufficient bounty in the hope that the production of rice may be promoted. What chance have we in Australia to grow rice in competition with hordes of coloured people? I am not quite sure, but I believe that in the previous Bounties Bill there was a proposal to encourage the production of tea - a “most unlikely result. Honorable members acquainted with Victorian politics know that when a bonus was given for the production of wines, the result was to induce a number of people to plant thousands of acres with bad grapes, and that when these people got the bonus, they dragged up the vines. If that kind of thing happens - and it has happened in more instances than the cultivation of grapes, as indicated by the honorable member for Balaclava - what hope have we of keeping up the high class of production for which Australia is famous ? That is the principle that we should insist on. If we are to do anything in the way of granting bonuses to assist people in agricultural production, we should see that the products are kept up to a high standard. I have mentioned irrigation and water conservation, and I know that the States have agreed with regard to the waters of the Murray. Later on I hope to have something to say on the Capital Site with reference to the Murray River. I should like to see a determination on the part of the Federal Parliament to deal with those higher matters that require to be legislated for. Besides the important questions to which I have alluded there is the question of drainage. That is one that this House could well take up.
– Will the honorable member kindly connect his speech with the Bill?
– I am endeavouring to do so. I was trying to point out how deficient the Government had been in putting before the House the proposals in this Bill instead of other proposals. I am endeavouring to show - and it is perhaps necessary for me to have a little latitude in doing so - that it would have been better if they had devoted themselves to some of those greater questions, one of which is the drainage of the Commonwealth. I speak of the Commonwealth, because it must be a broad and comprehensive measure. The whole of the drainage of the towns throughout Victoria and other States is running into our natural waters.
– This Bill means the drainage of the taxpayer.
– The taxpayer will probably have something to say about it. I do not want to be led off the track, nor do I wish to take up the time of honorable members unduly, but I repeat that the statements made to-night regarding the financial position are important, and the experience we have gained in Victoria is also important. It is impossible to believe that this Bill is meant to do what we have been asked to believe it will do. I doubt very much if there is purity of motive in connexion with it.
– Shame !
– I know that is a serious charge to make. I am justified in saying what I have said when I consider what has been done so far. The Government bring in the Quarantine Bill, and we fight over that. Then they bring in other measures, and we fight over them, and now they have placed before us. this Bounties Bill. It clearly shows either that we are going to be kept here for an interminable period to deal with the legislation promised, or that the Ministry have not got ready the work they should have presented to the House.
.- The most refreshing thing to me during the course of this debate has been the open declaration, not by one, but by several of the representatives of Victoria, of the absolute failure of the bounty system in this State. The Victorian bounty system has been one of the things which we as freetraders have always had thrown at us in ‘ New South Wales. People have said, “ Look what a magnificent success the bounty system has been in Victoria. Look how it assisted the butter industry. Look how it helped the wine-growing industry and the beet-sugar business at Maffra.” We have had continuously to meet statements of that kind, and now it is quite refreshing to hear, in words which we can quote with- confidence to our constituents in New South Wales, the admission of the representatives of the State of “Victoria that all the bounties which have been given to such a large extent here, have been an absolute failure.
– They did not say anything of the kind on the hustings.
– I presume that men who occupy the position of representatives of the people in this House are sufficiently honorable not to come here and say behind the backs of the people a thing different from what they said to the people when seeking election.
– The fact remains that they did not oppose bounties in their constituencies.
– I trust that that is not the position of any honorable member of this House. I quite agree with the position as put by the deputy leader of the Opposition, the honorable and learned member for Flinders, the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, and the honorable and learned member for Angas. To every reasonable man it must appear that before money is set aside to pay these bounties, we ought to know the exact- financial position in which the Tariff, which, we have it on the word of Ministers, will be introduced shortly, will place the revenues of the Commonwealth. We are asked by this Bill to vote a very large sum of money for certain purposes, yet we are left absolutely in the dark on that important question.
– Here is the Treasurer now.
– This is the first time we have had the pleasure of the Treasurer’s presence during the debate. I should like to assure the right honorable gentleman that the proposition we are now debating is a very important one for his consideration in connexion with the Tariff proposals in his position as Treasurer of the Commonwealth. We are asked to vote this large sum of money for certain industries, and every honorable member is entitled to be told as nearly as possible the exact financial position to be occupied by the Commonwealth after. the Tariff has been submitted. For that reason, I would cordially support any amendment to defer the consideration of this Bill until the Tariff proposals of the Government have been passed. That would be fair to every honorable member, whether he agrees with the system of bounties or not. Throughout the whole of my political career, I have made no secret of the fact that I am strongly opposed to the system as embodied in the Government proposals. There .is . .nothing in its whole history in . Victoria, Canada Queensland, or any other part of the world to encourage any one who is not . very strongly inclined towards it to give it any support. One of the .proposals in the Bill is intended to help the establishment of the cotton-growing industry. We are all anxious that it should be established in Australia, if possible, but on two different occasions the Government of Queensland gave bounties to bring about that result. The first bounty, granted many years ago, was on the land-grant principle, so many hundred acres being given to per-r sons who entered into the industry. The second was a specific grant of £5,000 for the first 5,000 yards of cotton fabric manufactured. Many people in Queensland were thereby induced to go in for cottongrowing, and a mill was established at Ipswich, which, I understand, is. in the electorate of the Minister in charge of the Bill, for the purpose of ginning the cotton. Notwithstanding all this, the moment the price of cotton went down after peace was declared in America, the industry in Queensland went down also, and it has never been successfully revived there since. The Minister in charge of the Bill assures us that during the last few years very great interest has been taken in Queensland in the industry, yet many years ago there was absolutely more cotton grown and more land under cultivation .for that purpose in that State than there is -at present; I agree with what was said by the honorable member for Franklin in this connexion. Cotton growing is a cheap labour industry all over the world, and it will be impossible to produce cotton successfully in Australia . in competition with the cheap labour of other countries. A Bill similar to this was brought forward prior to the general election, as a sop for the electors, just as this measure has been introduced to encourage false hopes in the breasts of the primary producers who will have to bear the heavy burden of the Tariff. I find, on looking through the schedule, that an item which appeared in the schedule to the previous Bill has been omitted, no bounty now being offered for the production of preserved milk. We have been told that this schedule was framed after consultation- with agricultural experts appointed by the Governments of four of the States; but I have never heard of Mr.
– Then it was very wrong, of the Premier of New South Wales to appoint him.
– I do not know how the services of these gentlemen were obtained, but probably by application to the Governments by which they were employed.
– I know nothing of those who were appointed to represent the other States; but I ask the Minister why they did not consider the advisability of offering a bounty for the production of unsweetened milk?
– They did consider it. Such a bounty was among the proposals contained in the schedule of the Bill submitted last year.
– The manufacture of unsweetened milk was commenced by the Bacchus Marsh Company, which has now two factories in Victoria and two in New South Wales.
– If the honorable and learned member will turn to the full report, he will see that the question was considered, and that the omission of the proposal for a bounty was recommended.
– On what evidence?
– The grounds upon which the recommendation was based are given in the report.
– There is something- to b°. said for refusing a bounty for the production of condensed milk, because, as has been pointed out, that industry is being carried on by very strong and powerful firms, and a bounty would merely add to their profits. But the reasons given bv the Committee of Experts for recommending that no bounty be offered for the production of preserved milk, condensed 01 powdered, are ridiculous. The report says -
There are, however, other aspects of the position to be considered. The increase in con densed milk will not necessarily imply an increase in the milk production of the Commonwealth.
It seems to me that if a new means of profitably disposing of milk is found, it will lead to the production of more milk. The report continues - lt will more likely mean that milk now sent to local butter factories will go into the condensing plants. In other words, the encouragement of the condensed milk industry will mean a-i encroachment upon the already well-established butter industry.
The manufacture of condensed milk is to be discouraged lest the industry should encroach upon the butter industry. Do Ministers know the magnitude and importance of the butter industry in Australia? We annually export millions of pounds of butter to London and to other markets, and to suggest that the establishment of condensed milk factories within the Commonwealth will affect the butter industry is ridiculous.
– We import large quantities of preserved milk.
– Yes; very large quantities. Even the States in which condensed milk is manufactured import a large part of their requirements.
Colonel Foxton. - The only milk obtainable in the Northern Territory is condensed milk.
– I discovered that when I visited the Northern Territory, and should have been better pleased had the condensed milk used there come from the Queensland factory instead of from Switzerland and other foreign countries. The fact that such large quantities of condensed milk are imported should lead a protectionist Ministry to encourage the local manufacture of that article. Apparently the Minister cannot explain why the Conference recommended the omission from the original schedule of a bounty on unsweetened milk. He told us that the object of the Bill was to encourage the establishment of new industries, and I presume that the industries referred to are those mentioned in the schedule. If that is the position which the Minister assumes, I only wish to pick out one industry to show how ill-considered the Bill is. On page 14 of the report of the experts, I find this paragraph -
In South Australia the number of olive trees is 85,433, and the oil produced 15,202 gallons per annum. Notwithstanding the perfection to which the olive grows in Australia, the demand for pure olive oil is greater than the supply.
The annual importations of olive oil into Australia represent a value of ^3,500.
What is the position of the olive oil industry in South Australia? There are at least four large establishments which have been running there for years, and which are conducted by Cleland and Sons, Thomas Hardy and Sons Limited, the Waverley Vinegar Company, the Stonyfell Olive Company Limited, and W. P. Auld and Sons It is a well-known fact that the proprietors of those industries are in a very strong financial position. Without our offering a bounty, there is every inducement to those men to go on increasing their output, and to other men to engage in the industry because at the present time it is unable to meet the demand of the people in the Commonwealth. The position has been changed in South Australia because, whereas prior to Federation the manufacturers had only the comparatively small population of South Australia to supply with olive oil, now they have the run of the markets in the ‘Commonwealth. The representatives of South Australia will, I feel sure, bear me out when I say that in that State the olive oil industry is in a very flourishing condition indeed. In that case what necessity is there to offer a bounty on the production of olive oil ? The granting of a bounty would simply be making a present of so much per year to the big firms already in existence in South’ Australia. I can understand that where men have an idea that new industries could be started, a bounty might be thought to be necessary. But, in view of the very flourishing state of the olive oil industry in South Australia, I cannot see any necessity to offer a bounty on the production of olive oil. That, however, is only one example out of several which I could name, but it serves to show that the Bill has been ill-considered. If any honorable member should see fit to move an amendment to the effect that the consideration of the Bill should be deferred until after the consideration’ of the Tariff - which, we understand, is to be introduced shortly - I should be very glad to vote for it. I cordially recognise what has been said by the honorable member for Kooyong concerning the vast amount nf work which has been done on the Tariff Commission bv the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. I wish to tell the Minister of Trade and Customs, who by an interjection has shown that he is anxious to see the reports of the free-trade members of the Commission, that all the reports have been sent in todaywith the exception of four, which will be supplied before the end of this week. In conclusion, I have only to say that I, trust that the honorable gentleman and his colleagues will give the recommendations of the free-trade members of the Tariff Commission that consideration which they deserve.
– Some years ago, when the campaign in favour of the acceptance of the Constitution Bill was going on, one of the most striking leaflets issued in each Colony was one issued specially to the farmers. Recently I have had an opportunity of seeing some of the leaflets, and I was struck with the very strong arguments which were used in order to induce the farmers of Australia to vote in favour of Federation. One of the chief reasons given to them was that the Commonwealth would exercise the right of granting bounties.
– Who issued the leaflets?
– Those who were in favour of Federation.
– I do not remember seeing any, leaflets in New South Wales.
– I saw a New South Wales leaflet only three days ago. It was a very fine one, and I believe that it had a very potent effect there. Many thousand copies were issued in the country districts. In the promises which were then held out we have another reason why the matter should be favorably considered by the House at the earliest possible moment. Honorable members from New South Wales have been telling us about the promises which were made regarding the Federal Capital, and honorable members from Western Australia have been telling us that the people in that State were induced to enter Federation because of the chance of getting a transcontinental railway constructed. I ask honorable members to remember some of the other promises which were made, for instance, the promises to the primary producers that they would be assisted by means of bounties. There are other methods by which Parliament could assist those who are on the land, but this is one way in which it can render real assistance to them. I do not agree with those who advocate that the Government should take over this matter and spend large sums in respect of one or two products. I believe . that the honorable member for Balaclava was not on the right track when he made that suggestion. What we desire to see - and this of course is an anti-socialistic doctrine that I am propounding - is the individual stimulated to use the opportunities which nature gives him in the best direction. What we do not desire to see is the Government taking up the growing of cotton or the growing of olives for the purpose of producing cotton or olive oil. I believe that the results of the past - and Victoria has been referred to - need not make us despair of the future. In the Bill we take means - and I hope that they will be adopted - to provide that the producer shall receive consideration. I am told that the honorable and learned member for Flinders has said that a coach and four could be driven through the clause; but I feel quite satisfied that in Committee he and other legal members will see that it is so drafted as to carry out what I believe is the general desire of the House, and that is that the producer, not the manufacturer, shall in each case receive the full benefit of the bounty.
– It is specially mentioned in the Bill that the canners of fish shall get the bounty.
– Yes; and that of course refers to a part of this State which the honorable member knows more about than I do. I believe that he has a very large number of constituents who reside on the southern coast, and who probably would have a very live interest in that proposal.
– No; they found that the people would not take tinned barracouta.
– Perhaps the people found that tinned barracouta was not good. Under any circumstances, I hope that the Government will assist the farmer in the way which, in the past, has been found to be the most effective. I trust that the Government will not ask the farmer to carry out stereotyped rules with regard to cultivation, but will ask him to test whether certain products can be raised in his locality. If, with a country so variable in its climate and other conditions, we were to lay down a hard-and-fast rule, we should probably find our people trying to grow rice in the southern districts and sub-tropical and extra-tropical products in the northern districts. What we desire to do, I think, is to show the settler that there are certain by-products out of which he may make a little money. We know that most farmers go on the land now for the purpose of growing wheat. They desire, in the off season, to have a catch -crop ; and they might be induced to plant olive treeswhich the report of the Conference shows are most remunerative - and in that way to provide a very substantial addition to their incomes, besides having possibly a means of actual subsistence in those times of drought and scarcity with which our continent is periodically afflicted.
-The whole of the bounty proposed to be allocated in respect of olive cultivation will be absorbed by the olive growers of South Australia.
– I do not agree with the honorable member. No preference is to be granted, and every olive grower within the Commonwealth will be able to claim his share of the bounty.
– But olives cannot be taken off the trees the very first year that they are planted.
– That is why I am so anxious that the Commonwealth should make the earliest possible start to establish these industries. In respect of some of the articles enumerated in the schedule, a crop can be secured during the first six months, but in the case of others a yield cannot be obtained for years. Eight years must elapse before a remunerative crop can be gathered from the rubber tree.
– How many years must elapse before a crop of olives can be obtained ?
– I cannot say. I should think that the trees would be bearing at the end of two or three years.
– It takes nearer nine or ten years.
– That is an additional reason why we should take this matter in hand at once. Does not the honorable member for Grey, and the honorable member for Wentwortb, who laughs - and we are told upon good authority that the loud laugh betrays the vacant mind - recognise that the Commonwealth should take the readiest means at its disposal to secure the cultivation of these crops in the future ?
– The olive growers of South Australia are doing very well without the aid of a bonus.
– I quite realize the position taken up by the honorable member. I am aware that he has that absolute distaste for the bounty system which is shared by other honorable members who have addressed themselves to the question from the free-trade side of the House. But I ask honorable members to treat this question as a parliamentary, and not as a party, one. Let us remember that there was a distinct promise made to the producers that they should receive special treatment at our hands. To those honorable members who still belong to the rapidly vanishing Freetrade Party, I merely wish to say that they are leading a forlorn hope. They ought to be grateful that they are not asked to consider the Tariff as a whole. We propose to lead them quietly up to the protectionist trough, from which they will have to drink.
– The protectionist trough?
– Of course, the honorable member is accustomed to using a smaller vessel. He will find, however, that the protectionist trough will not only afford him an exhilarating draught, but his physical attributes will also allow it to serve him as a bath. I repeat that the free-trade members of the House ought to be gratified that they are being called upon to take their medicine gradually. With respect to the request for delay, I would point out’ that they have shown a desire to postpone every measure which has been brought’ forward by the Government during the current session. Not a single Bill, has been discussed concerning which the Opposition has not urged that the time for its introduction is inopportune, and 1hat further time for its consideration should be granted. It is rather amusing to hear these arguments advanced by honorable, members who, upon two previous occasions, have had opportunities of studying the bounty system, and who are prepared to vote against it every time that it may come before them, because I recognise that the free-trade mind is of a very conservative character. Concerning the financial proposals of the Government, I do think that the honorable and learned member for Flinders was justified to a certain extent in the attitude which he adopted in criticising this measure. But he will realize that at the close of the financial year there are difficulties in the way of immediately disclosing the Ministerial proposals for the ensiling year. I am perfectly sure that the Treasurer has made ample provision for the additional call upon the Treasury which this Bill will involve. I do not think that we are entitled at the present juncture to learn the nature of the Government’s financial proposals, especially in view of the delicate matter with which we shall presently be called upon to deal - I refer to the Tariff. Whilst the deputy leader of the Opposition was speaking this afternoon, I interjected in the most friendly spirit, that in a trade community like ours it would he a criminal act if the Government allowed any leakage of their intentions regarding the Tariff.
– Everybody agrees wilh that statement.
– If honorable members agreed with it they would not ask for information, the disclosure of which a moment’s consideration would show them might lead to serious national loss.
,- As a. new member I am not familiar with the forms of the House, but it has been suggested to me that as this is Tuesday night, and the hour is ten o’clock, I may reasonably ask the Government to consent to an adjournment of the debate.
– It is too early yet.
– Unlike the honorable and learned member . for Illawarra, I am one of those who favour the application of the bounty system to certain commodities of great commercial value, which we. may hope to produce, so long as :t is hedged around with proper safeguards and restrictions. The idea which was embodied by the Government in the Manufactures Encouragement Bill was the correct one. They proposed to grant a bounty for the purpose of “assisting une particular industry. I experience no difficulty whatever in approving the wisdom of that policy, which I think should be adopted upon the present occasion. Those honorable members who have spoken ibis evening have called attention to the fact that the number of items enumerated in the schedule to the Bill is too large. In my judgment each item should be dealt with in a separate Bill. In order to illustrate the difficulty surrounding the present Bill I may instance the proposal, of the Government to pay for the production cf cotton. That in itself offers a big field for investigation and discussion. I hold in my hand a copy of the report of the Conference of ‘State experts, which investigated the question of granting bounties to agricultural industries during the current year, to which the Government seem to attach a great deal cif importance. In’ it I find the following statement -
After considerable discussion the Conference recognises that the cotton industry is deserving’ o; encouragement. At the same time the members agree that the prospects of the industry in Australia are not specially promising.
That is a very important statement for us to consider in the light of the fact that we are now asked to grant a bounty to encourage the cultivation of cotton.
Colonel Foxton. - Read what the Queensland representative said upon that matter.
– Will the honorable member allow me to proceed in my own way ? The report continues -
Except for the fact that cotton seed has recently become valuable because of the oil that can be extracted from it, and the cake which can be manufactured from the residues, the cotton industry would be utterly without hope in Australia.
These facts demand careful consideration at the hands of honorable members. In regard to the bounty which it is proposed to pay for the production of coffee, I find that the world’s consumption of coffee is 15,500,000 sacks per annum. In 1901-2 the Brazilian production of coffee amounted to 15,496,000 sacks. That is to say, Brazil itself was able to supply the whole of the world’s consumption of coffee. The report goes on to say -
It is also an ominous fact that, according to the Tropenpflanzer - a recognised authority on all tropical matters - the planters of Brazil have not only destroyed large quantities of coffee berry because of the low prices prevailing, but have also pulled up the bushes growing on large areas of coffee plantation, and are using the land for other purposes.
I submit that in view of this statement, it is questionable whether we can legitimately sanction the granting of a bounty for the production of coffee in Australia. It is of no use to seek to put upon the shoulders of the people of Australia anything in the nature of a burden or a tax, unless we are able to establish an industry which is likely to be profitable. There is such a thing as paying too much for our whistle; and I apprehend with regard to some of the matters .contained in the schedule that we are likely to pay a good deal more than the industries will be worth. I have before me the Hansard report for the 29th August, 1906, when a similar Bill was discussed. Amongst the items in the ‘schedule was, “ fish, canned or tinned, one half-penny per pound.” In the report, I find the following passage forming part of the speech of the Minister of Trade and Customs -
We have plenty of fish used as sardines round our coasts, and we can procure in Australian waters as good fish as swim in the sea. A considerable number of the so-called sardines placed upon our market are caught and put up here.
– They are young mullet.
– Perhaps they are. They are certainly not as small as the sardines that are caught in some other parts of the world, but they are a very good article of food.
– Do I understand that so-called sardines are caught and preserved here and placed upon the market at present?
– Then why should we offer a bounty for the encouragement of the industry, if it is now a financial success?
– Because the industry has not assumed the proportions that it should do. Moreover, I do not know that it is a financial success. From the figures that I have quoted, it will be seen that the total amount of fish imported is about 16,000,000 lbs., valued at ^’320,000.
It is quite clear to my mind that every one of the items in the schedule requires special consideration, thought, and investigation ; and for that reason I apprehend that a Bil J embodying a schedule comprising so many articles, is too extensive for the members of a deliberative body such as this to grasp without ample time being given for its consideration.
– What will the honorable member do when the Tariff is before us? Would he treat every item in the same way ?
– He will have to do what the Government’s followers do - shut his eyes and bolt them.
– I apprehend that what it is desired to do is to establish industries that are likely to prove profitable and beneficial to the community.
– Hear, hear,!
– What does the honorable member think of the recommendations regarding flour?
– I happen to know a little about flour, and if there is no more wisdom displayed in regard to the other matters mentioned in the schedule than there is concerning flour, I cannot attach much value to the report which has beenplaced before us. But I do think that the officers know a little more about some of the other items than -thev do about the flour-milling industry. I should also like to say with regard to the second schedule, that I think that it would be advisable, if it is to be carried, that it should be brought into operation at least twelve months later than is proposed. It is impossible to expect producers to enter profitably upon the production of some of the items mentioned in the schedule without having time for preparation. The cultivation of some of the crops might be initiated in nine months’ time, but such a period is, in my judgment, altogether too short. I do not intend to occupy the attention of the House at great length with regard to a matter which has been discussed very pertinently and forcibly by other speakers ; I refer to the delay in producing the proposed amendments of the Tariff. I am surprised to find that no definite proposals have yet been made by the Government. I remember that at the general election the cry of the supporters of the Ministry was, “ Save the strangled industries.” Therefore I expected that we should be asked to proceed with the work of Tariff amendment. What we have to do with regard to bounties, however, is to take care that they are granted only in regard to things which can be profitably, and to a very large extent, produced in Australia. It is of no use to go in for small twopenny-halfpenny concerns. We need to encourage the production of commodities which will prove to be of great commercial value. It is for that reason that - though I am not sufficiently familiar with the usages of Parliament to know whether my suggestion can be given effect to - I think it would be wise to attach some proviso to the Bill whereby from time to time the benefit of bounties might be applied to different articles which might be suggested to the Government, and the cultivation of which would be for the advantage of the Commonwealth at large.
.- I rise to support this Bill, not only because I believe in the principle of the establishment and development of Australian industries by means of bounties, but also because, having listened attentively to the speeches of honorable members opposite, I find that the only thing in which they agree is that the measure ought to be postponed. With the exception of two honorable members, who are free-traders, and who expressed themselves as consistently opposed to the bounty system throughout, every other honorable member who spoke from the Opposition benches, while professing to support bounties, has dammed with faint praise the proposals of the Government. One and all of them, although professing to be very much concerned for the welfare of our producers, have contended that this measure should be postponed. Some have given one reason, some another. One honorable member went so far - and I am glad to think that he was the only one - as to suggest improper motives in connexion with the framing of the schedule by the Government.
– Probably because palmoil is mentioned !
– He may have been used to that kind of thing in another Parliament, but that is no reason why, in a speech in this House, he should have attempted to impute improper motives to the Government of the day.
– He is only a young member.
– I suppose that is the reason, but he ought to have learnt by this time that none of the older members of this House have imputed improper motives to the Government of the day in connexion with any measures which they have brought forward. We have been told that this matter should be postponed in order that reports of the Tariff Commission may be considered in connexion with it. Another honorable member has suggested that it should be postponed until the Budget speech has been delivered, and we know what amount of money is available.
– Surely that ought to be done.
– It may be fairly assumed that the Government, in introducing this Bill, know that they will be in a position to provide £70,000 or £80,000 per annum for the payment of these bounties.
– Do the Government know what is their own financial policy ?
– The Government know their own mind, and that is what the Opposition do not. When the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill was introduced last week, the Opposition did not raise this objection to the proposal to expend £20,000 on the survey. I recognise, of course, that that will not be a recurring vote, but the fact remains that it was not suggested that the Bill should be postponed until the Budget statement had been made.
– The Opposition proposed to throw it out.
– It was not thrown out. By a large majority the House agreed to the Bill, and the honorable and learned member for Flinders, who voted for it, did not raise the question of where the necessary funds were to be obtained.
– Throw away the money, and hang the States.
– That is not the point. The point which some honorable members of the Opposition have sought to make to-night is that we should not agree to any proposed expenditure until the Budget had been introduced, and we had ascertained where we were to obtain the necessary funds. Then, again, another honorable member suggested that the consideration of the Bill should be postponed pending the establishment of a Federal Bureau of Agriculture. We were told this afternoon that the information supplied by officers of the States Departments of Agriculture respecting the industries to which this Bill relates was not to be relied upon. Last week, however, when the Quarantine Bill was under consideration, it was said that the same Departments of Agriculture were far better fitted to deal with the exclusion of animal and plant pests than a Federal Department would be.
– So they are.
– Other honorable members then found fault with the Quarantine Bill because they thought it was suggested that officers of the Customs Department would be called upon to exercise functions under it. And yet one honorable member of the Opposition to-night suggested that the assistance of Customs officers should be sought in connexion with this Bill. Taken as a whole, the speeches from the Opposition simply amounted to a cry of “Postpone the Bill.” Any stick was good enough for the Opposition to beat the Government with - we had from them everything save a straight-out opposition to the measure. Another honorable member - I think it was the honorable and learned member for Balaclava - spoke of the disastrous consequences that had followed the distribution of bounties in Victoria, but he was prepared, nevertheless, to support the payment of a large bounty for the establishment of the cotton industry. Still another honorable member belonging to the same party declared that it was useless to give a bounty for the production of cotton, inasmuch as we were not likely to establish the industry here. He even went a step further, and hit upon a unique means of securing the postponement of this measure. W» have often heard the cry of “ One man one vote,” but his suggestion was “ One idea, one Bill.” If we adopted such a principle, the passing of a Bounties Bill would be postponed until the close of the present Parliament.
– “ One idea, one Bill,” is better than “ One Bill, no idea.”
– In this case we have one Bill with a good many ideas. The honorable member for Echuca evidently wished to say that he was not prepared to grasp so many ideas on the one occasion. No doubt he will become accustomed to that kind of thing after he has been a member of his party for some time. We also had the honorable member for Kooyong declaring that the Bill should be postponed in order that we might deal with the question of old-age pensions. The honorable member desired the Government to establish large experimental farms where they could expend this money in seeking to establish the several industries dealt with in the Bill. I quite expected to hear that at the close of his speech he intended to cross the floor of the House, and take a seat with the Labour Party in the Ministerial corner, since he was in favour of so many socialistic schemes. Taken as a whole, the various arguments advanced by honorable members opposite were simply designed to secure the postponement of the Bill. I fail to see why we cannot accept the position and say that we are prepared, irrespective of what other expenditure may be necessary, to expend at least £70,000 a year in trying to establish new industries or to further develop existing rural industries. If we have reached a stage when we have to consider whether it is possible for us to agree to an expenditure of £70,000 a year in assisting our rural industries, the Commonwealth must be in a very bad state. I was under the impression that those honorable members who profess a special solicitude for the producers, instead of opposing the Bill, would have congratulated the Government on the fact that they had seen fit so early in the session to propose this expenditure regardless of what funds might be left for other schemes. I do not intend, in a second-reading speech, to refer to the various subjects mentioned in the Bill, because I think that they should be dealt with in detail when we are in Committee. I should like, however, to allude to one matter to which reference was made by the honorable member for South Sydney, and to the reply made to his observations thereon by the honorable member for Franklin. The honorable member for South Sydney, spoke of the number of whites employed on cotton plantations in America, and was told in reply by the honorable member for Franklin that they were only the “mean whites.” In Cotton, a work by Charles William Burkett, Professor of Agriculture, North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, and Clarence Hamilton Foe, I find a paragraph, dealing with the employment of negroes and whites in the cotton industry, in which it is pointed out that -
As a result of all this, the average northern reader would probably be surprised to learn of hundreds of thousands of small, white farmers with their families who make cotton, from planting, to picking, almost or entirely without negro labour.
These are the people whom the honorable member for Franklin describes as white trash.
– Does America grant a bounty on cotton ?
– I do not care whether a bounty is paid there or not. I am dealing just now, not with the payment of a bounty, but with the statement of the honorable member for Franklin that the white labour employed in the industry there consisted only of “mean whites.” The paragraph’ continues -
On many farms a negro is never employed; on many others, negroes are called in only for a few days’ work in the height of a busy season.
– Will the honorable and learned member point out what are the conditions of living, and the wages there paid?
– I do not see what the question of wages has to do with the paragraph I have just read. If small white farmers with their families can raise cotton, from planting to picking, in America, they can do so here
– Cook. - No doubt anything can be done, if we like to do it at any cost.
– I do not know what are the rates of pay in the cotton industry in the United States of America; but speaking generally, we know that the wages paid in all occupations there are high.
– They are notoriously low in the cotton industry.
– I refer to this phase of the question only because of the disparaging way in which the honorable member- for Franklin spoke of the white people engaged in the cotton industry of the United States of ‘America.
I am prepared to support the Bill, and I hope to see it proceeded with. I am tired of the proposals that are made to postpone business. Quarantine is an important matter, which should be taken over by the Commonwealth, and honorable members ask that its consideration should be postponed, These bounties are important - postpone them. We are to put everything off, and alt to satisfy the intense eagerness shown by free-traders and recentlyconverted protectionists, that we should deal with the Tariff at once. I am as strong a protectionist as any that has ever been in this House. I wish to see the Tariff dealt with, but I do not desire that there should be any unreasonable rush in dealing with it. I hope that when the revised Tariff is introduced it will be put before us in such a way that we can go on with its consideration until we have finished it. In the meantime, I wish to see the Government, not postponing and adjourning, but getting on with practical measures which will be of use to the country as I think this Bounties Bill will be.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Sampson) adjourned.
Error in Division List.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- In the division taken in Committee on Wednesday, the 17th instant, in connexion with the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill, I voted in the negative. I find that a mistake has been made by the tellers. My name was omitted from the division list, whilst that of the honorable member for Macquarie was inserted, though the honorable member .was not present, and did not take part in the division. I take this opportunity to set the matter right, and to place on record the fact that I voted with the “ noes “ in the division on the introduction of that -Bill.
– I may inform the honorable member that in the official List of Divisions in Committee, the error to which he refers has been corrected. - Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at ‘ 10.28 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 July 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19070723_reps_3_36/>.