3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. ARCHER presented a petition from the Bundaberg Chamber of Commerce, 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.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Home Affairs whether, in view of the fact that all existing official sheet maps of the world place Australia in the extreme right-hand bottom corner, and thus convey an erroneous impression as to its true geographical relation to other countries, he will consider the advisability of having a Commonwealth sheet map of the world prepared, taking the 135th meridian of east longitude as the centre, and thus giving a more accurate idea of the true position of Australia in relation to the world’s trade routes.
– The honorable member’s statement that all existing sheet maps show Australia in the manner indicated is not correct, because the latest maps show this continent in the position in which he desires that it shall be shown. The matter will receive careful consideration.
– Can the honorable gentleman tell us when the official map of the Commonwealth, the preparation of which was to have been taken in hand two or three years ago, will be published?
– When acting for the Minister of Home Affairs I gave instructions that the work should be proceeded with as quickly as possible. I shall ascertain what progress has been made, and on Tuesday next communicate to the honorable member the result of my inquiry.
– As it is stated in such a reputable newspaper as the Argus that the Acting Prime Minister has lectured the Postmaster-General, I wish to know if the statement is correct?
– He ought to have done so, if he did not.
– The statement is another Argus canard. There isno truth in it.
– Following up my question of yesterday, I wish to know whether the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs will now cause to be laid upon the table the papers in connexion with the making of Melbourne the head centre of Australian meteorology.
– I said yesterday that I saw no reason why they should not belaid on the table, and I will take steps to procurethem.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral recommit clause 2 of the Bounties Bill to enable me to move an amendment in it of which I gave notice, and which I had no opportunity to move yesterday?
– I had no idea that the honorable member had intended to move an amendment to the clause, which was fully’ discussed last night. I must consider the effect of the proposed amendment before giving any promise to recommit.
– The matter should be raised in ‘Committee on the Bill.
In Committee - (Consideration resumed from 25th July, vide page 1022).
Clause 3 -
Provided that, in the case of fish preserved in tins or casks, and of fruit dried or candied, and of combed wool or tops, the manufacturer shall be deemed to be the producer, and the bounty shall be payable to the manufacturer only.
In order to entitle growers or producers to bounty the. goods in respect of which the bounty is claimed must be grown or produced, and the claim for bounty must be made within the periods specified in the second column of the First Schedule.
The bounties shall be payable at the rates specified in the third column of the First Schedule. .
The maximum amounts of bounty which may be paid in any one year in respect of any goods specified in the First Schedule shall (subject to the power of alteration by regulation) be as specified in the fourth column of the First Schedule.
The total amounts which may be expended under this Act in the payment of bounties from the commencement of this Act up to the several dates specified in the first column of the Second Schedule shall not exceed the amounts set opposite to those dates in the second column of that Schedule.
Mr.KELLY (Wentworth) [10.38].- I think that the proviso to sub-clause 2 should be deleted. We are calling certain manufacturers producers, and, ipso facto, treating them as such. But I understand that the object of the measure is to encourage the producer.
– The manufacturer is a producer in some cases.
– Then why is this proviso necessary ?
– To avoid giving work to the lawyers.
– I think that it is likely to make work for them. All provisions of this kind, which are in the nature of limitations, will require to be defined later on. If a manufacturer is a producer, the proviso is not necessary. I therefore move -
That the words “ Provided that, in the case of fish preserved in tins or casks, and of fruit dried or candied, and of combed wool or tops, the manufacturer shall be deemed to be the producer, and the bounty shall be payable to the manufacturer only,” sub-clause 2, be left out.
– The honorable member has not properly studied the clause. It provides that the bounties shall not be payable to manufacturers.
– If manufacturers are producers, and the object of the measure is to benefit producers, that object is not being attained by the exclusion of a class of producers.
– The object of the proviso is to exempt certain classes of manufacturers from the general prohibition regarding the payment of bounties to manufacturers, and is necessary in the design of the Bill. It is not practically possible to pay bounties to the men who actually catch fish which are to be dried or canned. Of course, if honorable members are opposed to the giving of bounties for the manufac ture of dried or canned fish, they can effect that object when we come to the schedule. Similarly, in regard to dried fruit, the bounty is offered, not for the growing of the fruit, but for its drying or canning.
– The honorable member for Wentworth, to accomplish his object, should have moved the omission of the words “and not to manufacturers,” in sub-clause 2. The bounty is offered for the preparation of these goods rather than for the production of them in the first instance. It is easy to produce many of them, but it is difficult to prepare them properly for market. The Bill offers . very little to the actual grower or primary producer. It will benefit almost exclusively those who manufacture or make-up or manipulate these products. In regard to most ofthe items contained in the schedule, I dare say, that that is the trouble. The preparation of fibres, for instance, is the one process which is all important. No difficulty is experienced in growing them. There is abundant evidence that they will grow in every latitude in Australia.
– And grow profitably ?
– I think so. Perhaps this is the wrong stage at which to discuss the reasons why ramie fibre . has not been included in the schedule.
– I will explain that matter when we are considering the schedule.
– The farmer or producer who expects to receive much assistance, as the result of the passing of this Bill, is, in my judgment, doomed to disappointment. We were told last night that the measure represented an effort to stimulate immigration to Australia, and to bring into a greater degree of cultivation the lands of Australia.
– The honorable member must not at this stage enter into a general discussion of the principles of the Bill.
– It seems to me that upon this clause the whole question as between production and manufacture is raised. I am entitled to (point out that the producer will derive very little benefit from the Bill - that the manufacturer will get more. If the farmers allow themselves to be persuaded into the belief that this measure will help them in their industrial enterprises, they are deluding themselves.
– Will it injure them? .
– I have never suggested that. I hope that the honorable member has not arrived at that stage when he feels that the fact that we shall not injure any one is a sufficient reason for us to legislate for an expenditure of halfamillion sterling.
– The honorable member “ mixed “ me up a little, and I wanted to understand his position.
– I do not think that this measure will help the producers of Australia very much. It will rather tend to assist those who make up these products into marketable commodities. But since the principle of the measure has been affirmed, and it now only remains with us to make the best use of it, I would strongly suggest the withdrawal of the amendment.
.- I am not quite sure that this clause will give effect to the desire of the Government. The first sub-clause says that the bounties shall be payable “on the production in Australia of the goods specified in the first column of the first schedule.” In’ other words, the bounty is to be paid upon the production of the goods, and not upon the growth of the material. If we turn to the first schedule, we find that in the case of oil materials supplied to an oil factory for the manufacture of oil, the bounty will be payable upon the oil materials, which may not be produced in Australia at all. That will defeat the very object of the Bill. It seems to me that under the clause in its present form it is possible that the materials used in the production of certain goods may be imported from abroad, and the goods produced locally. If a bounty were paid upon goods so produced, the very purpose of the Bill would be defeated. Under the first portion of this clause the bounty is made payable on the production of the goods, but later on a distinction is drawn between the growth of the material and the production of the goods.
– I am of opinion that the clause gives full effect to the intentions of the Government, but the fact that a legal member of the standing of the honorable and learned member for Angas entertains a doubt upon the point will induce me to again look into the matter with the Parliamentary Draftsman with a view to satisfying ourselves upon it. If the clause be passed, I will see that all room for doubt is removed.
– My experience is that the local manufacturer can generally be trusted to look after his own interests. It is the producer who really requires assistance if assistance is to be given. Let us take the particular article which is more immediately under consideration - I refer to fish. If there be one class of the community to whom public sympathy is extended it is not the persons who can the fish, but those who go outin boats and catch them. The experiment of preserving fish has already been tried, but has not proved a; success. My own idea is that when these bounties are paidvery little of them will find their way into the pockets of the men who ought to receive them. How can we expect to stimulate any industry if these bounties find their way, not into the . hands of the producers, but into those of the men who purchase from them and who generally purchase at theirown price. I understand that we shall have another opportunity of discussing the merits or demerits of the measure, but I do not wish the public to imagine that this isa Bill the effect of which will be to develop production.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
.- Sub-clause 3 of this clause provides -
In order to entitle growers or producers to bounty the goods in respect of which the bounty is claimed must be grown or produced, and the claim for bounty must be made, within the period specified in the second column of the first schedule.
That provision means that trees or fruits for the production of which a bounty is to be paid, must be planted within the period over which the operation of the bounty extends. It seems to me that under it a bounty will not be payable in respect of plants or fruits which are being grown at present. Take the case of dates, for example. As we are all aware some eight or ten years must elapse before date palms come into bearing. Will this bounty be payable upon the production of dates obtained from trees which were planted before the passing of the Bill?
– Yes. The bounty will be payable upon the “ produce,” not upon the plant.
– The provision makes no reference whatever to planting.
– No: but the goods must tie “ grown or produced.”
– Then it does not necessarily follow that more planting will <be done as the result of the payment of these bounties, because in some instance!) years must elapse before the trees would come into bearing.
.- If effect were given to the views of the honorable member for Franklin, the bounty proposed in respect of combed wool would be payable to the pastoralist who owned the sheep from which the wool was obtained. I venture to say that any such proposal would command very little sympathy indeed. Wool combing is an industry quite distinct from that of wool growing, and in the same way fish canning is carried on quite apart from the catching or selling of fish. We need to establish a fish canning industry. “Vast hauls of fish are frequently made’, and In the absence of such an industry the local market is glutted, and, as happened quite recently in Melbourne, tons of ‘fish are often throw away. The middle meru take care to keep up prices in respect of fresh fish, by not putting too large a supply on the market, and I think that the fishermen would be materially benefited by the establishment of a canning industry. ‘ We have magnificent fish supplies, ‘ and if we intend to proceed on the lines adopted by New South Wales in regard to the fishing industry, we ought to take a step further, and do what we can to encourage the canning of fish in Australia.
– Whilst T sympathize with the remarks made by the ^honorable member for Franklin as to the position of the fishermen, I would remind him that the object of the Bill is to stimulate new industries, and that whilst
Ave have many fishermen in Australia we have not at present a well-established fish canning industry. Last year the honorable member pointed out in this House that an attempt had been made in Tasmania to found such an industry, but that it had not proved profitable. The object of the Go- vernment is to enable such an industry in the Commonwealth to be placed on a profitable footing. I am afraid that, although anxious to benefit the fishermen, the honorable member for Franklin would really inflict an injury upon them by securing the ‘elimination pi the item relating to the canning of fish. The fishermen would have a more regular market for their fresh fish if their surplus catches could be canned.
.- I would remind honorable members that fish canning has been carried on in Queensland, and also in other parts of the Commonwealth. A few days ago I received a letter from a resident of Broadmount, who was under the impression that the bouncy relating to fish canning was already in operation, and who, with others, is now engaged in catching and canning fish. So far their operations have not resulted in a loss, and it would thus appear chat the industry can be made a profitable one. The bounty would serve a useful purpose, in enabling our fish canners to overcome the difficulties incidental to securing a footing in the trade. It would tide them over the early years of their industry during which they are seeking to get their brands on the market. As honorable members are aware, the public favour well-known brands, and the grocers who sell tinned fish always stock them, with the result that it is very difficult to place a new brand on the market. This bounty is admirably calculated to tide our fish canners over such difficulties. Whilst we all recognise the desirableness of endeavouring to make the work of the fishermen a profitable one - and from a fishing population we should largely recruit the men required for an Australian Navy - I fail to see how we could provide in this .clause for the payment of a bounty direct to them. As a matter of fact, in many instances canning operations will be carried on along the coast by bodies of men who are also concerned in the catching of the fish. Many fishermen receive so much’ per ton for the fish supplied to canners, and it would be very difficult for us to stipulate the price that should be paid to them. The canners must give the fishermen a remunerative price in order tosecure supplies. I do not think it would be wise to alter the clause in the direction suggested by the honorable member for Franklin.
– On. looking more closely into the point which I raised a few. minutes ago, I feel fairly confident that my contention is correct. Under the clause as it stands we should make payments - in one case as much as .£5,000 - in’, respect of materials which were not grown in the Commonwealth, and! also upon the production of goods made in Aus1 tralia from materials produced abroad!. In other words, we should really be paying a bounty to the producers of materials elsewhere, and- to those who worked upon those materials in Australia. I do not like to propose an amendment, because one of the duties of a draftsman is to see that the Bill which he frames is consistent. I find, however, that in clause 4 the word “ goods” is alone used, whereas in clause 3 we have the words “ the goods or the materials.” It would be possible to cover the point raised by me by inserting after the word “goods,” in clause 3, the words “ or on the growth of the materials in Australia. “ If the Attorney-General is satisfied that my point is a good one he will probably have the matter looked into by the Parliamentary Draftsman, and make the amendment necessary to secure consistency.
– I have already given instructions to have a draft amendment prepared, and if the consideration of the clause is proceeded with, I shall see that any necessary amendment is inserted.
.-I should like to draw the attention of the Attorney-General to a suggestion made last night that we should also provide for the payment of a bounty on smoked fish.Fish so treated are suitable for export, and are less likely to be affected by climatic conditions than canned fish. Another point isthat smoked fish are very easy to handle. The establishment of a smoked-fish industry would be of considerable value to our fishermen, and also to the public generally. We could meet this proposal by inserting the words “Smoked fish and” before the words “ Fish preserved in tins or casks.” The proposal that we should pay a direct bounty to the fishermen is, I am afraid, impracticable. The object of the Government in proposing a bounty on preserved or canned fish is largely to encourage the investment of capital in such an industry, the establishment of which would materially benefit the fishermen. Canning might be carried on by co-operative parties of fishermen, but I am afraid that at present some difficulty would be experienced in applying that system to such a work. I think there is a good deal in the objection raised by the honorable and learned member for Angas. We ought to be careful to see that the Bill will carry out our intention that goods that are not produced in Australiathat products that are not raised here - shall not receive a bounty. We should have proof that the goods in respect of which bounty is claimed are of Australian origin. Our object is to secure the growth of the raw material as well as the produc tion of the manufactured article in Australia.I am sure that the Minister will recognise the wisdom of the suggestion made by the honorable and learned member for Angas.
– I have promised to give effect to it.
.- I would remind honorable members that large quantities of smoked fish are already being produced in Australia. In Melbourne and Sydney, fish sellers - many of them in a small way of business - cure fish by smoking them, and they might be seriously affected by the payment of a bounty which would encourage large companies to enter upon the work.
– These small men would be entitled to the bounty.
– There are hundreds of fishmongers who cure fish, but not in quan tities sufficiently large to entitle them to this bounty.
– They should co-operate.
– The honorable member has already pointed out that co-operation in connexion with the industry might not be readily brought about. Recent inventions have made it possible to hermetically seal tins without the’ use’ of solder or acids, and thus the keeping properties of tinned fish have been largely improved. There are firms in Sydney which employ a number of men and a lot of machinery in the manufacture of tins, but no such industry is necessary in connexion with the smoked-fish trade.
– The desirableness of making provision for the payment of a bounty on the production of smoked fish was not overlooked, but after consideration it was considered inadvisable to do so. We have acted on information obtained from the best experts in Australia. Amongst others who were consulted when the Bill was inpreparation, was Mr. Dannevig, who has a world-wide reputation, and is a man whom the State ought to be proud to have in its service. The imports of fish preserved in tins amounted in value in 1905 to£288,371, showing that there is an enormous Australian market, if it can be captured by Australian producers.
– We shall have to introduce the salmon here.
– I believe that people buy preserved salmon, simply because they cannot get other kinds of fish. If hon orable members study the report of the. expertsthey will see that there are in Australia enormous stores of fish for preserving purposes.
– There is a big canning factory on Keppel Island.
– I made inquiries as to Queensland, but could obtain no information. The imports of smoked fish and fish preserved by the cold process amount in value to about £16,505, of which £14,511 worth comesfrom New Zealand, most of the latter preserved by the cold process. It will be seen, therefore, that in regard to these two classes of fish, the importation is comparatively slight; at any rate it was not deemed sufficient to justify the experts in including those commodities in the items. It is true, as pointed out by the honorable member for Darling, that the smoked-fish industry is already carried on in Queensland, New South Wales, and, I believe, pretty extensively in “Victoria, where New Zealand blue cod is used. There appeared no necessity to include smoked fish in the items; and, technically, I doubt whether we could alter the schedule now, seeing that we have made an appropriation for a specific purpose.
.- The smoked-fish industry is very largely carried on by the fishermen themselves, on the northern rivers and coasts of New South Wales, the waters of which are teeming with the best of edible fish. The only market for the fresh fish caught by these men is Sydney, and the transport’ is exceptionally bad on account of the harbor bars. The result is that very often, after the fresh fish has been packed, it is found impossible to get it shipped, and it has then to be unpacked and smoked for the market. I support the Bill in the interests more of these men than of any other; and, if a bounty is given,I believethat the schnapper, whiting and flathead of the best quality caught in the waters I have mentioned, will form the basis of a profitable canning industry, because the market for dried fish is more limited than for fresh or canned fish. Canning has been tried in one or two instances, but I regret to say that owing to the keen competition of imported fish, a taste for which has probably been cultivated in the people, the efforts failed. If the canning industry can be established thepeople of the Commonwealth will be supplied with Australian fish of much better quality than that imported. Experiments have been made at different times by the New South Wales Government in order to ascertain the quantity and quality of the deep-sea fish on the coast, and it has been proved, in this connexion, that there is a mine of wealth to be exploited.
– Mr. Dannevig believes that still greater stores of deep-sea fish will be discovered.
– Quite so. I daresay that honorable members who recently visited the Northern Territory heard something of the fish along the north coast of Queensland. Before we left Palmerston, we were informed that a gentleman engaged in salvaging a wreck on the coast, had his work much interfered with by the shoals of schnapper in the neighborhood. Certainly, something should be done for this industry. We all know that one of the greatest treats of the meal table is a good boiled schnapper-, though very oftenwhat we are given as schnapper is jew fish.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 (Conditions of bounty).
.- I understand that the draftsman will make the necessary amendment to this clause, because I see that the word “ goods “ only is used. I do not wish to move an amendment.
– I shall see that the Bill is made harmonious throughout.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 (Regulations).
– An additional sub-clause is, I think, necessary. When I was speaking on clause 3, it struck me that there is no provision in the Bill for the apportionment of the bounty between the growers of the materials and the manufacturers of the goods therefrom. It seems to me that the whole context of the Bill displays an intention that there should be such an apportionment that, in other words, if. the materials are grown here and the goods from those materials are manufactured here, the bounty will not be paid to the grower or producer only, but, in a certain proportion, to be prescribed by regulation, will be divided between the producer and the manufacturer. I think that is a very fair interpretation of the Bill, and a very fair principle to be observed; and, if that is the intention, it will be advisable to add another sub-clause to the effect that a regulation shall be. made prescribing the proportion in which the bounty shall be divided between the grower of the materials and the manufacturer of the goods.
– The recommendation of the. experts, and the opinion expressed in the House nearly unanimously on a previous occasion, were that the bounty should go to the grower or producer ; and if the honorable and learned member looks at the Sugar Bounties Act, he will see that “ production” of sugar cane means the growth of sugar cane. These terms are well known, and have been used on all occasions when dealing with sugar bounties. The scheme of the Bill is that certain products shall be grown by farmers, and that on the growth of those products the bounty will be paid to. the farmers under certain conditions. For instance, the cotton must be ginned at a factory, but the bonus will be paid, not to the owners of the factory, because only a comparatively small plant is necessary, but to the growers on the amount of ginned cotton. That is a matter easy of adminis tration, as in the case of sugar. Flax, hemp, jute, and so forth, must be converted into fibres, but the farmers or producers will get the bounty. In the case of oils, the plant necessary is comparatively cheap, but the difficulty is the supply of the raw material ; oil mills in Victoria are idle, simply because they cannotget the necessary supplies.
– I do not desire to insert a sub-clause, if the Government have decided on the policy.
– I am merely explaining the position to the honorable and learned member. There are items in which manufacture must be encouraged, in order to get the production undertaken. For instance, in the case of wool tops which means the installation of plant, probably worth £100,000, the bounty will go to the manufacturer. That scheme has been followed throughout the Bill ; and, therefore, the point referred to by the honorable member has not been overlooked.
Clause agreed to.
.- I have a suggestion to make which, if adopted will, I think, put this schedule in better form. In the second column there are the words - “Period dating from 1st July, 1907, during which bountymay be paid.”
I suggest that there should be an alteration in this column, so that we may know definitely that the bounty will be paid only when the various crops are borne. For instance, no rubber is being grown for commercial purposes in Australia to-day ; and, therefore, at least seven years must elapse before the rubber trees begin to bear. In such case, the Minister ought to be authorised to start paying the bounty seven years hence.
– The Minister cannot pay the bounty before the rubber is produced.
– But there is no reason why we should vote large sums which cannot be used.
– The money cannot be used until the material is produced.
– Then why should we pretend that we are voting a bonus of £530,000, when it may turn out afterwards that nothing like that amount is required ?
– Only a very small part of the £530,000 is voted in one year.
– It is not such a small part. If the honorable member adds up the various maximum amounts in the First Schedule, he will find that they amount to about £620,000.
– But all that cannot be spent in one, two, three, four, or five years.
– If one-half of the period during which a bounty is payable in respect to certain kinds of production must pass without it being possible for claims to be made, the total expenditure on bounties cannot come to anything like £530,000. By way of illustration, I have referred to the fact that no bounty can be claimed, for at least seven years to come, for the production of rubber.. It would be more sensible to vote the exact amount which we anticipate will be spent than to hand over to the Ministry a large sum, trusting that they will not spend more than is actually needed.
– How can we vote an exact expectation ?
– We ought not to do our business in the dark, and, in regard to the production of rubber, experts on whose opinion the proposal of the Bill has been based, state definitely that it is not at present being grown in Australia for commercial purposes. Therefore no bounty for the production of rubber will be payable for the next seven years.
– Rubber is being grown in New Guinea.
– If the honorable member understood the Bill, he would know that its provisions do not apply to New Guinea. We should restrict the opportunities of the Government to spend money to a reasonable estimate of what will be required by the operation of the measure.
.- The heading to the second column of the first schedule reads -
Period dating from 1st July, 1907, during which bounty may be paid.
Now sub-clause 3 of clause 3 enacts that-
In order to entitle growers or producers to bounty the goods in respect of which the bounty is claimed must be grown or produced, and the claim for bounty must be made, within the periods specified in the second column of the first schedule. *
No doubt it is intended that if the goods specified are produced, and the claim for bounty made within the periods dating from 1 st July, 1907, during which bounty may be paid in respect to their production, the producers will be entitled to payment, even though the money may not be available until later. But, according to the strict reading of ‘ the provisions to which I have drawn attention, no payment can be made after the expiration of the periods named. In other words, the producer of ginned cotton may make his claim within eight years from the 1st July last, but, if it is not paid within that period, it cannot be paid without a special vote.
– The honorable and learned member suggests that if a claim were made on the 30th June, eight years hence, the Minister could not pay it, because he would not have time to do so before the period during which the bounty may be paidwould have expired.
– That is so. At the end of the periods mentioned in the second column, the bounties payable in respect to the productions mentioned in the first column will expire, and if the schedule is not amended, money will have to be voted to meet claims put in towards the end of those periods. Imperfect drafting of this kind makes trouble in the law courts, and while, as a lawyer, I am glad to render assistance in improving the measure, as a politician I take exception to the phraseology employed.
– There is certainly something in what the honorable and learned member for Angas has pointed out, and I shall look into the matter.
– Recommit clause 3.
– I shall do so if necessary. It was not intended that the provisions of the Bill should be construed so strictly as it appears they may be construed. The honorable member for Wentworth, however, hardly conceives the scheme of the measure. The amounts mentioned in the fourth column of the first schedule are the maximum amounts which may be paid in any one year, and most of the goods mentioned in the first column can be produced within a year. That remark applies to cotton, flax, jute, hemp, mohair, peanuts, sunflower seed, rice, tobacco leaf, fish, fruits, and combed wool.
– Does the Minister know the total of the maximum payments to which he has referred, spread over the periods named?
– Yes. The total comes to £620,000; but we should be exceedingly optimistic if we thought that the maximum amounts would be claimed in every year from the coming into force of the Act. There are many industries already established in regard to which bounties could be claimed almost immediately. For instance, there are herds of angora goats in the Commonwealth, and therefore the producers of mohair can take advantage of the measure immediately it becomes law. So, too, can the producers of olive oil. Then there are cocoanut plantations in Australia ; at Mackay, and the mouth of the Johnstone River, for example.
– Will those who produce olive oil from trees now growing be entitled to claim a bounty for its production?
– Yes. I do not wish to discuss now the merits of the proposals, but I would point out incidentally that it would not be fair to give no bounty for the production of olive oil, seeing that we are proposing to subsidize by means of bounties the production of other oils which compete with it. The honorable member for Wentworth says that rubber is not now being grown in Australia; but plants have been distributed from the Kammerung State Nursery in Queensland.
– I said “ grown for commercial purposes,” and the report bears out my statement.
– Rubber is not yet being produced, because the trees which have been planted have not yet reached maturity, but some of them were planted some time ago.
– Were they planted in anticipation of the bounty?
– The bounty is not necessary to encourage persons to embark in the rubber industry if they have already done so.
– Seeds and plants of the Para rubber, which is supposed to give the best commercial yield, have been distributed from a Queensland State nursery. The scheme of the Bill is determined by column 2 of the second schedule. A certain sum is to be voted each year, and the unexpended balance will accumulate to provide a fund to meet future engagements ; but the expenditure is regulated so that there shall not be a heavy drain upon the Treasurer in any one year.
– The schedule shows that the Government anticipate having to make smaller annual payments at the end of the period than at the beginning.
– We contemplate that there may be unexpended votes in the early years which will be available later on.
– My objection would be met by inserting in the heading of the second column, after the word “ during,” the words “or in respect to which.”
– I am willing to propose that amendment.
.- The heading of the second column of the first schedule provides that the periods during which bounty may be paid are to date from the 1st of thepresent month.; but I think it desirable, for two or three reasons, to extend them for twelve months. In the first place, before the Bill has been passed, about eight months of the first year will have gone. What we desire is, not to assist persons who are already making more or less of a success of certain industries, but to induce our population to enter upon new productions. The reports which we have received in regard to the prospects of the cotton industry are not very encouraging, and, notwithstanding what the Attorney-General has said, I think that that industry is not likely to prove a success. With regard to the production of olive oil, several honorable members have stated that in South Australia olive oil is now being largely produced on a commercial basis, and therefore the giving of a bounty for its production seems to me equivalent to handing over public money to persons who are already doing very well out cf their industry. But to induce our (population to enter into new fields of production is a different matter. I favour the granting of bounties with that object. These annual payments should be made to induce persons to enter upon new industries which are likely to prove profitable. It appears to me wrong in principle to subsidize industries which are already well established. But, in any case, before bringing the Bill into operation, we should allow a sufficient time to producers to perfect their arrangements. Many persons will enter upon the industries which we propose to encourage, if sufficient time is given to them in which to gain the necessary information and experiefl.ee. With the inducement offered by these bounties, I apprehend that many industries will be started, and that we shall accomplish the object which we have in view, namely, the production in much larger volume of commodities which are likely to be of advantage to every member of the community. Therefore I move -
That in the heading .to the second column the figures “ 1907 “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figures “1908.”’
This amendment, if carried, will of course necessitate the recommittal of clause 2 for the purpose of substituting the word “ eight” for “ seven.”
– I ask the honorable member for Echuca not to press the amendment, which simply embodies another phase of the argument for delay. I earnestly desire to see this scheme brought into operation as soon as possible. I am confident trial if the Bill be carried, it will offer a great incentive to people to embark upon these new industries. When we are inviting immigrants to Australia, if the news goes forth to the world that we can produce all these commodities, and that the Government are prepared to assist those who are willing to settle upon our lands by giving them these bounties, I am satisfied a great impetus will be given to the movement. The honorable member for . Echuca wishes to postpone the coming into operation of the Bill till 1908. But many of these new industries will, I believe, be established within the next twelve months should the Bill become law. We all know that in Queensland, cotton is planted in September or October, and if this’ measure be carried I imagine that some growers will take advantage of it during the present season. But even if full advantage be not taken of it during the current year, it will be known that the scheme is in operation, and as a result it will- be availed of more each year. Last night one honorable member advocated delay in the passing of the measure on the ground of the expenditure which is involved. If we bring it into operation this year, I do not think that we shall require to expend the full amount which is specified in the schedule. But no matter how little of the bounties mav be claimed there will at least be evidence of the fact that the Bill is doing some good. I ask the honorable member for Echuca, who is a supporter of the principle of bounties, not to postpone the scheme indefinitely.
– I did not suggest that.
– Then I ask him not to attempt to postpone the coming into operation of the scheme till next year. I -know that, although the Bill has not yet become law, some persons are actually about to begin operations in the full belief that it will be approved by Parliament. It would be a great disappointment to those engaged in agricultural pursuits if their hopes in this connexion were not fulfilled for another twelve months. I again ask the honorable member not to postpone the coming into operation of a measure which, I am sure, will be attended with highly beneficial results.
.- I wish to be perfectly clear as to the position which these industries will occupy if the schedule be agreed to. I would point out that in South Australia the olive oil industry is firmly established-that at least four large firms are manufacturing the oil - and T desire to know whether the proposed bounty in respect of that article will be payable to those firms?
– It will be paid to the growers of the olives.
– I understand that it will be paid upon the oil materials.
– It will be paid upon the oil materials supplied to the oil factory just as we pay a bounty upon the sugar cane which is supplied to the sugar mills.
– What means do the Government propose to adopt to insure that the bounty shall find its way into the pockets of the olive growers ?
– Its payment will be safeguarded in exactly the same way as we safeguard the payment of the sugar bounty.
– Then I would ask the Minister why a distinction has been drawn in this connexion between the olive oil industry and the condensed milk industry? The experts point out that if they had recommended the payment of a bounty to encourage the condensed milk industry, a very large sum indeed would have been required to satisfy the claims of existing factories which are in the hands of strong commercial firms. Why is this distinction made between these two industries? It appears to me that if a regulation can be framed which will insure the bounty being paid to the growers of olives, a similar regulation might be framed to insure the bounty finding its way into the pockets of the producers of milk, and not into the hands of proprietors of the existing factories.
– The condensed milk industry is an expanding one.
– So is the olive oil industry. In South Australia, there are four large firms manufacturing olive oil, and they are unable to meet the demands of the Australian public. For years they had only the small market of South Australia open to them, but, now that the Commonwealth market is available, they are unable to meet the popular demand. Those firms, by reason of the splendid article which they manufacture, are able to command from 8s. 6d. to 9s. per gallon for their olive oil, as against 6s. 6d. for the imported article. Why the Minister draws a distinction between the two industries I have mentioned, I utterly fail to see. In my judgment, he is doing an injustice to those who are engaged in the dairying industry, which is one of our big national industries.
– What about the Standard Dairy Company? Did not the honorable member get a circular from them? They do not want the bounty.
– They do not want further competition, and in all probability some of the olive oil manufacturers of South Australia entertain a. similar view. I should like the Minister to point out the reason why this distinction has been made between these two industries.
.- I hope that the honorable member for Echuca will not be induced by the sophistry of the Attorney-General to withdraw his amendment. It is very evident that a considerable time must elapse before persons who are about to engage in new productive enterprises can get the soil into a thorough state of preparation. In addition, a further period must elapse before their crops reach such a state of maturity as to enable them to obtain any; benefit from the payment of these bounties.. Absolutely no argument was adduced by the Attorney-General to show why the operation of the Bill should not be delayed for twelve months. I hope that the honorable member for Echuca will press his amendment to a division.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [11.56].- I entertain a good deal of sympathy with the idea which prompted the remarks of the honorable member for Echuca. But I feel very much inclined to the opinion that we ought to achieve his object by a different process. I suggest that we should postpone the payment of these bounties until the new growers are in a position to come in and compete with those who are already engaged in established industries. Take the case of the bounty which it is proposed to pay to olive growers. The honorable member for Echuca has submitted that these bounties were intended to benefit, not those who are already engaged in established industries, but those who may be encouraged to come in and compete with them. The AttorneyGeneral admitted the soundness of that contention. That being so, it seems to me somewhat anomalous that those who are at; present engaged in the olive oil industry should, during the six or seven years which must necessarily elapse before new men would be able to’ claim the bounty, reap the whole of the benefit conferred by the Bill.
– No new man could possibly obtain a bounty in respect of the production of olives.
Colonel FOXTON.- Why ?
– Because the money would be absorbed before his trees were in bearing.
Colonel FOXTON. - Exactly. One honorable member has stated that ten years must elapse before olive trees are in bearing. Another honorable member said that the period is five years. When people disagree, it is a sound principle to strike a mean as between their statements, and, therefore, I say that for eight years we may assume that the persons who are already engaged in the olive oil industry will derive all the benefit conferred by the bounty payable in respect of olive oil. Those who may be encouraged to embark upon the venture as a result of the passing of this measure, will only reap a benefit for a very limited period, perhaps less than half that over which the bounty will operate. It seems to me that the proper way to give effect to the idea of the honorable member for Echuca, is to postpone the payment of the bounties in respect of olives and other products until the new men are in a position to step in and take advantage of the Act.
.- The Attorney-General, I understood, in answer to an interjection which I made, stated that he proposed to spend the money accumulated by reason of the full amount of any bounty not being claimed-
– I showed how the Act would operate.
– The Attorney-General said that sums which were unexpended would accumulate, and that these amounts would afterwards be disbursed as occasion arose.
– I will explain the position.
– The Minister stated that the ordinary procedure would be to accumulate unexpended funds, and afterwards to expend them as occasion arose - as the trees began to come into bearing.
– The amounts unexpended in one year are available for distribution during the next, within the limits of the second schedule.
– And within the limits of the fourth column of the first schedule, which fixes the maximum.
– Exactly; I said so.
– The whole point is that, having regard to the proportion of the total time during which the trees would bear, we must recognise that the Government could not expend anything like half the maximum, and that the Minister is, therefore, asking for very much more than is necessary in respect of the total appropriation.
.- The amendment moved by the honorable member for Echuca has a very important bearing, and before it is put I should like to ask the Attorney-General whether the Minister will have power under the Bill to transfer a bounty not claimed in respect of one item to another in the schedule.
– That can be done only, by regulation. The regulations must be laid upon the table of the House, and are, therefore, under parliamentary control.
– The House should have some control.
– The regulations could be disapproved by Parliament.
– Would the House have an opportunity to prevent any transfer that it thought to be undesirable?
– The House could, by resolution, nullify the regulations.
– Would the whole of the regulations have to be nullified in order to prevent a transfer to which exception was taken? We might consider that the amount appearing opposite each of these items in the schedule is the maximum that should be paid, and that it would be wise to prevent the Minister from being able to use unclaimed bounties in respect of certain items to swell the maximum amount fixed in respect of another item.
– That will be provided for by regulation.
Question - That the figures proposed la be left out sitand part of the schedule - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 27
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– The honorable and learned member for Angas has questioned whether, under the Bill as it stands, a bounty might not lapse if it were not paid during the year in which it was earned. To make the position clear, I move -
That after the word “ during,” in the heading of the second column, the words “or in respect of,” be inserted.
Amendment agreed to.
– The first item in the schedule relates to “cotton, ginned,” and I see no reason why a bounty should not be given for the production of that commodity. As I mentioned the other evening, the fact that white labour is employed extensively in America, gives us some encouragement in proposing to adopt this bounty. It would appear, however, that a bounty equal to 10 per cent. on the market value of ginned cotton is to be given as well as a bounty equal to 10 per cent on the market value of the seed extracted from that cotton. In order to determine what would thus be paid on the value of the whole product, we need to have a clear idea of the relative value of the cotton seed quite apart from that of the ginned cotton. The proposal of the Government means the payment of double bounty in respect of what is practically the one product, because the ginning of cotton is simply the extraction of the seeds from the cotton bolls.
– A work that must be done in any case.
– It must be done before the cotton can be marketed. We know that cotton seed has a marketable value, the oil extracted from it being used not only in preparing cattle feed, but also, I am sorry to say, very largely for human consumption.
– The seed is simply a by-product.
– I believe it is. We ought to have from the Government a clear estimate of the total amount of the bounties to be paid upon the production of ginned cotton and the seed. We should then be able to understand what this proposal really amounts to. When the bounty is divided up in this way, the intention of the Government is in a measure disguised, and one cannot fully appreciate what it means. It is unwise to pay two bounties in respect of really the same product.
. I intend to move the omission of this item. I need not repeat the arguments I used last night ; but, in my opinion, there are a thousand and one other directions in which we could spend the money with infinitely more hope of success. If we are to be guided by the Conference of experts as to the most essential factor in the successful production of cotton, I refer honorable members to page 6 of the report, where they may read -
Authorities appear unanimous that cotton will be unprofitable to. Australian growers at a price under11/2d. per lb. for seed cotton.
Then in reference to the British Cotton Association, which is a large buyer, the report states -
The British Cotton Growing Association, Manchester, stated in 1904 that they were willing, to purchase all seed cotton of any quality for 1d. per lb. The Association stated that this would be about equal to5d. per lb. for ginned cotton in the Liverpool market.
My contention is that, even with the bounty offered, we cannot successfully establish the industry. No doubt it is an industry which might be assisted when we have more money available, and when we have successfully developed some of the more promising enterprises ; but the proposed expenditure is not now justified in view of the facts related in the report of experts. In that report we read -
The Conference, after considerable discussion, recognised that the cotton industry is deserving; of encouragement.
That is the first impression of the expert. When a Conference of the kind is arranged, those who have the selection of the members naturally and unintentionally lean to those who they think may possibly favour theirviews ; and the words I have read would seem to indicate the exercise of such a discretion. But the report continues -
At the same time, the members agree that the prospects of the industry in Australia are; not specially promising.
That expression of opinion is corroborated by the views of the largest buyers of cotton in the world. The report further says -
We find that in the year 1882 - and under the stimulus of a bounty and high prices - 717 acres of ‘cotton were planted in Queensland, the yield being 212,370 pounds, of ginned cotton, or a return, at ordinary market price of £S per acre, which allowing for ‘he work involved in growing and marketing the produce, leaves a very slender margin for the producer.
That referred to an exceptional time when prices were high, and all the conditions favorable; and yet they could succeed only in producing cotton to give the grower a very slender margin. What are we to expect when there are no boom prices? Another opinion expressed in the report is -
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.
– The cotton seed is taken into consideration.
– Cotton without the seed is worth id. per lb., and seed cotton cannot be produced, under the most favorable conditions,, at less than 1½d. per lb. No doubt the separation of the seed from the pod, and the picking of the cotton, entails a certain amount of labour, though in the latter operation, especially when the plants are smail, the stooping is very trying. There is a further reference in the report which ought to be a caution to us -
The bonus offered was ^5,000 for the first 5,000 yards of cotton goods, but the manufacturing company ceased business very soon after the bonus had been paid over.
In my opinion, the same result will follow any. experiments of the kind undertaken now. We have no right to spend money in order to induce people to experiment in the growing of cotton, if we have no reasonable prospect of establishing a permanent industry. We are anticipating the future too much when we endeavour to develop industries which should not be undertaken until the more fertile lands of the Commonwealth can be utilized by the people and put to their best use.
– Does the honorable member not think that an effort should be made to populate northern Australia?
– If any honorable member desires to assist in populating northern Australia, I have no objection to their making the attempt. I move -
That the item “Cotton, ginned,” be left out.
.- I support the position taken up by the honorable member for Gwydir, but for an entirely different reason. It has already been abundantly shown that this industry is a flourishing one in some parts of Australia, and is highly -profitable. When we consider the character of the reports placed before us, we cannot but be astonished that a bounty on the production of cotton should be proposed. It is proposed that the bounties shall commence from the 1st July of this year; and this simply means making a present of the bounty to growers who are already making immense profits. It is a shocking condition of affairs when the money of the taxpayers is wasted in this indefensible manner. According to the report, this is largely an industry for the employment of boys and girls of thirteen or fourteen years of age. On page 8 of the report, Mr. Jones says -
I found from inquiry that several prospective planters failed owing to continuous wet weather at sowing time to get under crop the area they anticipated when applying for seed. This is the more to be regretted for the reason that the wheat being a failure no alternative crop was sown, thereby making their losses more acute. Many of the farmers intend sowing next season areas as far as their ability to gather the crop will allow. This is to be commended, as until the crop is sufficiently large to induce the immigration of city juveniles to undertake the employment, it is wise to move cautiously.
We see that the industry is recommended as: one in which child labour can be extensively used.
– What does the honorable member call child labour?
– The labour of boys and girls of fourteen years of age, who ought to be at school. This is actually a bounty brought forward in the interests of sweating in one of its most objectionable forms, and the employment of child labour.
– Does the honorable member think that a farmer should not use. his family in this industry?
– I think that children of tender years should be kept at school, and not at laborious occupations.
– What is the age limit at school in New South Wales - fourteen years ?
– I am not concerned about that ; I am expressing my opinion on this item. It does not follow that, because a child may leave school at the age of fourteen, he should at once be put to manual labour. At .any rate, it is proposed, that children, fresh from school, are to be engaged under the influence of a bounty, in work which should be undertaken by the adult population. If bounties are to be given, they ought to provide employment for adults, and let them look after the wellfare of the children.
– Would a young child, of fourteen years of age be injured by working in an open field, instead of in a factory ?
– I remind honorable members that we are in Committee, where each may speak as often as he chooses.
– I have a strong objection to using the money of the . taxpayer to bolster up industries which are spoken of as affording opportunities for the employment of children, because I think that children should not be expected to earn their living’ while of tender ages. I prefer to see girls of fourteen still playing with their dolls. It is a - healthier condition of things for the adults of the community to labour, while the children stay at home and play, or fit themselves by study for their future avocations. But, passing from this aspect of the question, I would point out that cotton growing is already an established industry in Queensland, and therefore needs no bounty for its encouragement. In support of this position, let me read one or two extracts from the report of Mr. Daniel Jones, of the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Stock. Speaking of his recent, visit to the Darling Downs and Maranoa districts, he says -
By reason of the unsatisfactory yield of the wheat crop for some years past, I found most of the farmers, particularly in the Maranoa districts, anxious for information as to the value and treatment of cotton crops. This information, by reason of our coastal experience in growing this plant, I was enabled to furnish. As a quantity of cotton seed of both Sea Island and Upland varieties had been .distributed ‘ free of cost by Messrs. J. Kitchen and Sons for this season’s sowing, I had a favorable opportunity of observing the growth of the shrub in many localities, also its behaviour under different, methods, of tillage. For the most part the interest shown has been on the lines of experimental work, hence the areas in no instance exceeded five acres, but a large number of growers are proving the suitability of their land by growing small plots of cotton.
Dealing with experiments which have been made, he says, in paragraph 4, 011 page 7-
At Warra I also found several growers experimenting with cotton. The lands here for the most part are dark, sandy loam of great depth, with excellent drainage, and easily tilled; and will, I think, prove to be eminently adapted for the growth of cotton. Here for the first time I observed the Sea Island cotton flourishing. It has always been understood that Sea Island cotton will only profitably grow on coastal areas. However, it seems that our
Queensland experiments are going to show that this valuable variety will be found to adapt itself to inland regions in such a manner hitherto unsuspected.
Then, in the first paragraph on page 8, he gives us a good idea of the profits to be made from cotton-growing. He says -
At Chinchilla, the next place visited, a five acre plot owned by Mr. Horsewood and two acres owned by Mr. Witt, both Upland varieties (Russell’s), are very promising fields, judging by the mass of pods and bloom on these plants, a return of from £6 to £& per acre ought to be realized. The soils here are of a chocolate, sandy nature, and a class well suited to the cotton plant. These small plots are very valuable from an experimental aspect, inasmuch as they are representative of thousands of acres quite as well adapted as these on which the shrub thrives so luxuriantly. At several places the railway lengthsmen are growing quite a number of shrubs, all of which look well.
Not only are the Queensland farmers going in for the cultivation of cotton, but the men working on the railway lines have been attracted by the prospects of the crop, and are cultivating small areas in their spare time. That is the kind of thing that we desire to see; but the giving ot bounties is obviously not necessary to encourage it. To quote again from Mr. Jones’ report -
Generally . speaking the growers were unfamiliar with the varieties of cotton sown. I was able to determine these, and also advise as to selection of the best plants’ for seed purposes, which should help in improving the quality of fibre. 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 varietiesof Sea Island and Upland well up to the standard of their respective types. I feel assured that when the merits of this crop are realised, a large influx of settlers will be drawn to these fertile and cheap lands, which are also easily accessible to the railway.
Thus it will be seen that the attention of farmers has been especially directed to the importance and value of the cotton crop, and they are seriously considering whether it would not pav them better than the wheat crop. On these reports it would be foolish to spend public money for the encouragement of the cotton industry.
Therefore I shall support the amendment, and I suggest that, instead of dealing with the schedule as a whole, the various items in it should be put separately.
.- The honorable member for Gwydir proposes the omission of the bounty for the production of ginned cotton, on the ground that cotton cannot be grown successfully in Australia; but I have seen it growing wild in the Northern Territory, in rocky, barren ground, and samples which I gathered and brought to Melbourne have been pronounced by experts to compare favorably with samples of cultivated cotton. What will grow wild in this way is sure to prove a profitable crop if cultivated, assuming it to be of commercial value, as cotton is.
Colonel Foxton. - Cotton is indigenous to the Northern Territory.
– Yes. The honorably menrber. forGwydir speaks of it being absurd to grow cotton to sell to Great Britain at a price offered by a Manchester dealer, namely,1d. per lb. But we contemplate manufacturing the cotton grown in Australia into goods to be used here. I anticipate that that will be one of the results of the bounty.
– We have manufactured cotton goods from cotton grown in Queensland.
– Yes, and what has been done in Queensland can be done in other parts of Australia. The honorable member for Gwydir takes the view that it is absurd to try to grow cotton for sale to British firms at1d. per lb., seeing that the reports say that it cannot be profitably produced for less than11/2d. per lb. But, as a matter of fact, the Queensland firm of Messrs. Kitchen and Company were paying what was equivalent to13/8d. per lb. So that, if the honorable member had quoted the whole of the report instead of merely those portions which suited his particular argument, he would have entirely dissipated his own contention. Another amusing feature of the debate is that the honorable member for Lang supported the honorable . member for Gwydir upon the ground that the cotton industry was an established industry, and that, consequently, there was no necessity to offer a bounty for its encouragement. The honorable member for Lang also stated that the cotton industry could only be conducted by child labour.
– I did not say “ only.” I said that, according to the experts’ re port, it was an industry in which child labour was employed.
– The honorable member means that it is chiefly a childlabour industry. But he and those who are associated with him do not appear to be very, much disturbed when they find child labour employed in other industries.
– That is not so.
– Only the other day, I found a number of little boys, who from? their appearance had been at work for some time, engaged in the iron industry. I asked several of them their ages, and all of them were most careful to assure me that they were over fourteen years. They even told me how many months and days they were in excess of that age.
– Yet the honorable member will probably support the proposal to pay a bounty to the iron industry in order to continue that state of things.
– I shall vote for a proposal to place the iron industry upon i footing which will enable it to become established by the employment of adult labour. Before the argument of the honorable member can be accepted as worth anything, he should show us that the cottom produced in Australia has overtaken our own consumption, whereas last year I find that we imported considerably over 1,000,000 lbs. of that commodity, valued at £22,000. I think that the honorable member for Lang completely demolished the argument of the honorable member for Gwydir that this item ought to be eliminated from the Bill. Both have supplied me with ample reasons why I should support it.
.- I am very much surprised that this amendment should have been proposed, because I regard cotton as one of the commodities which we ought to produce, and the production of which might very well be encouraged by a bounty. But the whole of the criticism which has been levelled against this Bill irresistibly reminds me of that which was offered in regard to a certain book. A number of persons who had gathered together admitted that the book was an excellent one. But the anatomist of the party said - speaking of the author - “His anatomy is simply horrible;” whilst the geologist exclaimed - “ And his geology is pre-historic. He is not uptodate at all.” When we are informed by the honorable member for Gwydir, who I presume knows something about the matter, that the cotton industry is not likely to be benefited by the payment of a bounty, it rather tends to shake one’s confidence in the future of that industry. Still, I am in favour of a bounty being granted upon the production of cotton, because the industry is a good clean one, and ought to take root in the Commonwealth. But I am not in favour of a bounty upon mohair.
– Are we not going to discuss the schedule item by item?
– It is competent for any honorable member to move an amendment upon any item.
– But” I understand that there is an amendment before the Committee ?
– Yes. The honorable member for Gwydir has moved to omit the first item of the schedule.
– Then must not the debate be confined to that item?
-Upon a point of order I submit that the better plan would be to permit honorable members to discuss the schedule generally. Afterwards-
– We have had a general discussion already.
– The honorable member for Fawkner wishes to discuss other items in’the schedule than that immediately under consideration. In a debate of this kind we cannot avoid comparing the items one with the other. Moreover we have already appropriated the necessary money to cover all the items set out in the schedule, and if any of them are. eliminated I apprehend that the balance of that money will be spent upon other items.
– If any alteration be made in the schedule I have promised to recommit the Bill.
– May I remind honorable members that I have been requested to put each item separately. After that has been done, I shall have to put the question. “That the first schedule be agreed to.” Then the whole schedule will be open to discussion.
– As we are at liberty to speak at present upon only one item, and as I know nothing about cotton, I will not trespass upon the time of the Committee.
– The honorable member will not vote for the item?
– Yes ; I am in favour of granting a bounty upon the production of cotton, as I have already stated.
.- The honorable member for Lang has urged that the cotton industry is an industry which is conducted chiefly by child labour. In my opinion, it is equally wrong to sweat either adults or children. But if the employment of child labour in itself be a reason why anindustry should receive no encouragement, we oughtto abolish quite a number of industries in the Commonwealth. I do not think thathis contention is a reasonable one. I would call his attention to the fact that in this Bill we make provision for the prevention of sweating by declaring that a standard wage shall be paid. I am altogether in sympathy with those who would prohibit the employment of children in any industry. There are one or two phases of this matter which, I think, are worthy of attention. The report of the experts states that it was the use of the byproducts of the cotton seed which induced them to recommend the granting of a bounty upon the production of cotton. Upon the face of it, it seems to me that bounties should be given only to industries which hitherto have not become established.It is but natural that some drawbacks and difficulties should have been met with in the few experiments that have been made in cotton-growing. The experiments which have been made in Queensland date back to 1882, and very many things have occurred since then. In the United States, which is a cottongrowing country, a large quantity of cotton has annually to be imported from Egypt to mix with the home article. Seeing that in Australia we have such a vast variety of soils it is quite possible that we may be able to grow cotton equal to the Egyptian article. If we can do so, it will be a very profitable thing for us. I would further point out that recejntly a machine has been invented for cotton-picking. I object to the employment of children in any industry, but if boys from school must be employed I prefer that they should be employed in the open fields rather than in factories. Whilst I am not prepared to say that the cotton-picking machine can do the whole of the work required, it is, a matter of common knowledge that in the American cotton plantations a largeamount of white adult labour is employed. Surely Australians are as good as are the Americans.
I have no sympathy with those halfhearted creatures who imagine that we are a poor miserable crowd. The cotton industry is one. which ought to be fostered by means of a bounty, and I believe that if the necessary Stateassistance be forthcoming it will be permanently established in our midst. I repeat that the circumstances of to-day are more favorable for cotton-growing and manufacture than they were in 1882, when the Queensland experiments were carried out.
Sitting suspended from 1 p.m. to 2.15 p.m.
– I think that if we do not strike out this item we ought at least to reduce the number of years during which the bounty shall be paid. Cotton is already grown to a small degree in Australia, and I would urge the Minister, if he is not prepared to strike out the item altogether, to agree to the operation of the bounty being limited to five years.
.- I intend to support this item. I am not hopeful that the operation of the bounty system will prove successful ; but if the experiment is to be made it ought to be applied to the production of cotton which, according to all the reports . I have seen on the subject, grows wild in the Northern Territory. Dr. Holtze has fair hopes of its successful cultivation there.
– If it grows wild, where is the necessity for a bounty ?
– I imagine that the bounty is to be paid on cultivated cotton. Whilst I am not hopeful of its success, I am not prepared to differentiate in the case of cotton, which is one of the chief products that can be grown under suitable conditions in the Northern Territory. The labour difficulty will be the chief one, but, considering that the Northern Territory has suffered under Federation, I think that if we are to grant bounties we should agree to this item. South Australian revenue from the Territory suffered to the extent of over £30,000 per annum by the imposition of the Federal Tariff. Prior to that she had a special tariff so framed as to apply to the chief articles of consumption in the Northern Territory - to rice and other products which, owing to the great proportion of Chinese in the Territory, were largely consumed. In these circumstances, I shall support the retention of the item.
.- Like the honorable and learned member for
Angas, I intend to support the granting of a bounty on cotton since it can be grown successfully, not only in Queensland, but in other parts of Australia, and particularly in the Northern Territory. “’ It does not require a great deal of moisture, and its production in Australia therefore may well be encouraged. We have at a comparatively short distance from Australia a market that will take as much cotton as we choose to send to it. A few years ago I travelled in some of the eastern countries, where I found that cotton, utterly unfit for manufacturing purposes, was being grown. It was too short in the fibre to permit of its being manufactured into piece goods, but was used for mattresses and cushions. I found there factories quite as large as any. existing in Manchester or Glasgow, and was asked by some of the manufacturers why Queensland did not grow cotton. They explained that they were aware that wo could produce it, as at one time they had obtained cotton from Queensland, and found it equal to that grown in Egypt, from which the best class comes. I was told that supplies were obtained from America, Egypt, and India, and that if we raised cotton in Queensland, we should find a’ ready market for it in the East. I hope, therefore, that honorable members will pause before they decide to reject this item. Cotton can be grown by white labour, although it is doubtful whether some of the other industries proposed to be encouraged under this Bill would be very suitable for the employment of our own people. The attempts made to grow cotton in Queensland in the early days were not unsuccessful, and the fact that the industry was not firmly established was due to failure to make use of the by-products. Thirty or forty years ago, when cotton was first grown in Queensland, the seed was treated as refuse, although, as honorable members are aware, valuable oil can be extracted from it, and there are now other valuable by-products that were then unknown.
.- The honorable and learned member for Angas and the honorable member for Oxley agree that a bounty should be paid on the production of cotton, and up to a certain point they use practically the same arguments in support of this item. The honorable’ and learned member for Angas said that cotton did well in the Northern Territory and the northern part of Queensland, and, on (that ground, seemed to think that we should be justified in asking all the States to contribute to a bounty to promote its cultivation. Apparently both honorable members think that the funds of the Commonwealth should be wasted in encouraging, the production of that which already grows wild in some parts of Australia. Then, again, we were told by the honorable and learned member for Angas that the “bounty would be something in the nature pf a sop to the Northern Territory, which Iliad suffered under Federation. What “State has not suffered under Federation ?
– New South Wales has not.
– She has suffered more severely than has any of the States.
– If this item is to be supported on the ground that it will benefit a part of the Commonwealth which has suffered under the Federal Tariff, I have a aright to argue that consideration should b»: given to certain industries in New South Wales which have also suffered severely under it. If the Government are determined to distribute money in this way they should be prepared to grant a substantial bounty for the encouragement of the iron and ship-building industries. I may well be pardoned for the persistency with which I have put this view before the Committee, when such ardent advocates of -freedom of commerce as the honorable and learned member for Angas and the honorable member for Oxley support a bounty on cotton. When the Tariff was under consideration some honorable members of the Opposition refused to ask for any assistance for industries in their own constituencies. Prominent among those was the’ honorable member for Parramatta, who had in his electorate industries that were much interested in the proposals of the Governmnent. No one ever heard him pleading for a bounty for the iron industry in his electorate, nor did I plead, during the consideration of the Tariff, for special treatment for the engineering trades in my constituency. lc is just as well, however, that the mask should be torn away. When I find :an honorable member prepared to affirm the principle of bounties, by supporting a bounty on cotton, it is just as . well that 1 should say at once that I do not “cotton “ to his argument. The honorable member for Oxley has told us that cotton is grown in Egypt, and I might add that the labour employed in ks production there is that which would have to be used here to make the industry a success. I can well imagine, Mr. Chairman, how you and the honorable member for Maranoa would view a proposal to build up the cotton industry in Queensland on the lines of the Egyptian system. The honorable- member for Oxley thinks that white labour could be successfully employed in cotton raising in Australia. If it were, it would be white labour of the character to which I referred last night. Although I have not travelled as the honorable member for Oxley has done, I have met those who have, and have learned from them that the lowly-paid workers in ‘some countries are not merely coloured persons, but white men. In many Cases they are nearer the Caucasian race than are the yellow or copper-coloured peoples. If it be true that cotton grows wild in the Northern Territory, why should we not- allow private enterprise unaided to take up the industry ? My plea is that, if the bounty system is to be adopted in Australia, my electors should receive some benefit from it. I shall, therefore, have much pleasure in voting against this item, so that the £6,000 per annum to be set apart under it may be devoted to the two great industries to which I have previously referred.
.- I intend to support this item, although I think that the amount allocated to it is far too low. A bounty of £6,000 per annum, or a total of £48,000, is, in my opinion, totally inadequate. . If the amount were made more commensurate with the possibilities of cotton growing in Northern Australia, I should have much more confidence in assisting the Government to carry the measure. The value to the United States of the cotton crop of last year was over £80,000,000, while the importations of raw cotton into Great Britain, in 1906, amounted in value to £56,000,060; and, when we consider the enormous possibilities of the extension of the manufacture of by: products, it seems to me that we are only playing with the question when we propose such a paltry sum as I have mentioned as a bounty.” .Instead of allocating a certain amount per annum, there ought to be placed in the hands of some competent authority at least £100,000 for the purpose of ascertaining the prospects of this industry in Northern ‘ Australia. It is quite recognised that between 40 degrees north and 35 degrees south the possibilities of cotton growing are great. So strongly was I impressed with the idea that this indus- try might become an important source of revenue, that, some three years ago, I placed myself in communication with what is known as the British Cotton Growing Association in Lancashire. To that association were sent specimens of Australian cotton, and the reply we received was that the cotton was exceptionally good - that there was no doubt about the quality, and all they were anxious about was the quantity that could be supplied. That association originated with a number of cottonspinners of Lancashire, who, in the first instance, contributed sums amounting in the aggregate to £50,000 ; but, so desirous werethey to render British cottonspinners independent of even the American supply, that they subsequently subscribed over £500,000, which has been diverted principally in an Egyptian direction. I have read the report of the experts, and know what are the opinions of such an experienced man as Dr. Thomatis ; and, moreover, I am aware that other competent opinions have been obtained in South Australia and Queensland. Nevertheless, I say that to properly and systematically treat this problem on business-like lines on a bounty of £6,000 per annum is absolutely impossible. I presume that the iron industry will be dealt with in some comprehensive way, possibly in a separate Bill.
– Why should the iron industry be dealt with in a separate Bill? That is the way the matter has been evaded for six years and a half.
-I do not know what the proposals of the Government are in regard to the iron industry at the present time; I have in my mind the proposals made in the past, when the iron industry was dealt with in a separate measure, which the Government were not successful in carrying through. I supported that Bill, because I am strongly in favour of the iron industry being assisted. In my opinion, in view of the magnitude of the possibilities of the cotton industry in our tropical areas, a proper step would have been to deal with any proposed bounty in a separate Bill. As the proposals are at present, a few growers here and there throughout the tropical areas of Australia, who produce a little cotton, will have the right to claim a proportion of the bounty ; and that I regard as trifling with a great question. The most competent and expert advice should be obtained, and an adequate sum placed at the disposal of the Government, in order that they may deal with the question in a. way. likely to produce fruitful results. This is no new industry, because cottons has already been grown in Australia; and the honorable member for Brisbane has pointed out how much has already been done in this direction in the State of Queensland. If there is any possibility of increasing the amount devoted to the encouragement of the cotton industry proposed in this Bill, that step ought to be taken, and it should be quite competent for the Ministry to use the £48,000 in one lump sum if they deem such a course advisable. It is idle to suppose that the proposed bounty will put this industry on a permanent basis, because, with the amount named, it will be impossible for the Government to obtain the experience, advice, and technical knowledge necessary to a successful issue. I hope that the bounty, such as it is, will have the support of the Committee ; but I also hope that the Minister, at a later stage, willshow us how he proposes to arrive at any effective result under the circumstances. The cotton spinners of Lancashire, from patriotic motives, contributed half-a-million of money within ten days in order to assist the production of cotton in Egypt.
– Do I understand? that there is this English market waiting for cotton grown in Australia?
– They will take any quantity.
– Then, why on earth is a bounty required?
– Assistance is required in the establishment of the industry in Northern Australia. It is urged that cottons growing involves cheap labour; and certainly that is a matter for serious consideration. It has been suggested, however, that cotton grown in tropical areas might be made an addition to existing crops, and that the members of the farmers families should, at the proper time, assist in the picking, which, in the southern hemisphere, is done in the cooler months of May, June, and July. I earnestly ask the Government - if one may do so without one’s motives being misinterpreted - to seriously consider whether the bounty should not be altered from a mere percentage allowance to a large sum of money to be applied in such a way as to obtain the best and most reliable information in connexion with what ought to be a great national industry.
– Does the honorable member think of going in for the business himself ?
– I am quite prepared to assist in that direction. When I went into the question I came to the conclusion that, if a quarter of the consideration which has been given to the sugar industry had been given to the cotton industry, the latter could have been made a pronounced success. But it is trifling with the question to talk about a bounty of £6,000 per annum - to dole out small sums like that in the hope of capturing a great marked of the kind in view. The suggestion has been made that these bounties are merely little “ sops.” The object and purpose of the measure should.be to establish industries which will be effective in our midst.
– The honorable member really does not think that the bounties are “sops”?
– Well, I think that this bounty is a “ sop.” In this, our initial effort to assist in establishing industries, we ought not to go about the business in a retail fashion, but approach it from a broad national point of view. Those interested in this industry in America will laugh at the idea of offering such a bounty, in view of the magnitude of the operations there; and we shall also earn the laughter of the Cotton Growers Association in Lancashire.
– How was the cotton industry established in South America?
– By the importation of black labour; and that is a difficulty which has to be overcome. Such a subsidy as that proposed is a mere drop of water; what is required is sufficient means to enable us to determine whether the industry can be successfully established under white labour conditions.
.- MightI, with all humility, suggest to the Opposition that they should adopt one line of argument, rather than two lines, which are mutually destructive.
– But which all prove the same thing.
– No doubt, but for entirely opposite reasons. Some honorable members urge that this industry does not need a bounty, because it is already successfully established, while other members of the Opposition object to the bounty on the ground that under no conceivable circumstances can the industry be profitably undertaken.
– Who said that?
– The honorable member for Lang said that there was no necessity for a bounty, because the industry was already established.
– That is what the report of the experts says.
– The only honorable member who said that cotton could not be profitably grown in Australia is the honorable member for Gwydir.
– Both propositions cannot be true. When an honorable member, in opposing a proposal, condemns it for two quite opposite reasons, his criticism cannot be as seriously regarded as if he had pursued a consistent line of argument. The honorable member for Lang objects to the giving of a bounty for the production of cotton on the ground that it would lead to the employment of child labour, yet two or three years ago, when the Arbitration Bill was before us, he objected to, and voted against, bringing the dairying industry within the provisions of the measure, although its inclusion was sought on the ground that the employment of child labour in dairying made it necessary that the industry should be tinder the supervision of an Arbitration Court.
– I opposed the proposal on quite othergrounds.
– This morning the honorable member shed crocodile’s tears at the thought that child labour might be employed in the cotton industry. He argued first, that the cotton industry could not be established in Australia ; then, that it is already in existence here; and, lastly, that if it could be established, its establishment would not be desirable, because the employment of child labour is. essential to its success.
– The honorable member misrepresents me…..
– Then I misunderstood what the honorable member said.
– Children are better employed on farms than in factories.
– The honorable member has anticipated what I was about to say. So long as their education is not interfered with, children are better employed in the open air. I live in a district in which there are a large number of vineyards, and in the grape cutting season a large number of children, mostly young boys, are employed there; but a special arrangement is made by the Education Department, under which the school holidays are concurrent with the grape season, and the conditions under which the children work do not call for any great ebullition of sentiment.
– In the dairying industry the children are expected to milk cows every morning before they go to school.
– The employment which I speak of is not nearly so hard as that in the dairying industry. Many of the children of dairymen have to rise long before daylight to bring in and milk the cows. We all regret the employment of children during their early years. It would be much better if the whole of their time could be given either to school work or to recreation. But we must take things as they are, and for those children that have to be employed, it is better to find work in the open air, cutting grapes or picking cotton, than in factories. If any industry stands out as being particularly worthy of encouragement, it is an industry which is on the borderland of success. It is not probable that the demand for cotton will decrease.
– Does the honorable member know the rates of wages ruling in the cotton industry elsewhere?
– The honorable member lays too much stress upon that point. Some time ago an eminent engineer and contractor, who has had charge of large works all over the world, told me that his estimate for labour for the making of railway cuttings, water-courses, and similar operations, is the same, whether the job is to be done in China or in America. He has a uniform price for labour wherever the work is to be done, and he told me that the reason for this is that, if the scene of operations is America, . he employs a comparatively few unskilled men, using them to supervise machinery, while in countries like China or India he dispenses with machinery, and uses a larger number of labourers. Practically the price of labour is the same all over the world. We have been told that the cultivation and picking of cotton is done with low-paid labour, and that may be so; but while labour exclusively is relied upon in those countries where it is cheap and abundant, it will probably be possible to equalize conditions here by the employment of madhinery. It is well known that machinery such as is used in the old country in the manufacture of cotton goods. is not used in India because of the cheapness of hand labour. If Australia enters upon the cotton industry, she must equalize conditions by using machinery in many operations. In the electorate of Boothby, market-gardening and vegetablegrowing was at one time, as now round about Sydney and Melbourne, chiefly in the hands of Chinamen, but, owing to the introduction of improved methods, the work is now being done by Europeans.
– What are the improved methods ?
– The honorable member is wandering from the amendment.
– I may be doing so, but I am trying to meet the argument that a bounty should not be given for the production of cotton, because the employment of cheap labour is essential to the success of the cotton industry. I am pointing out that cheap labour is not essential to the success of the industry - that machinery may be employed, as it has been in other industries which were formerly carried on almost entirely by cheap labour. I may tell the honorable member that one of the methods adopted in market gardening is that of conserving the water and using sprinklers, instead of carrying it - as used to be done - -upon the backs of the growers. Then, instead of turning over the ground with the spade and the hoe, a plough is put on to.it.
Mr.F owler. - But the Chinaman can do that upon a large scale.
– The Chinaman does not do it, and the result is that, although the market-gardening industry in South Australia was formerly in the hands of Chinese, there is not one Chinaimani engaged in it to-day.
– Some Chinamen plough their gardens.
– I am not aware of that.
– We should only be too glad to see all our vegetables grown by Europeans.
– I am quite sure that the honorable member would. But I do not propose to continue this line of argument. A large area in Australia is eminently suited to the growth of cotton and other commodities which are specified in the schedule. In my judgment, the payment of a small bounty is calculated to put these industries upon a sound footing, and under such circumstances, I shall support the retention: of the item.
.- It seems to me that those who support the payment of a bounty upon the production of cotton must be prepared to answer two objections. The first is that the industry has already been established, and, therefore, does not require the artificial aid of a bounty, and the second, that the industry can never be established upon a payable basis. I propose to show that neither of these propositions is applicable to the cotton industry. In my judgment, the cultivation of cotton will not be confined to any one State of Australia. Certain kinds of cotton will probably be grown only in Queensland,or, at any rate, in a very moist climate, but other kinds, which flourish better away from the coast, may be grown in any of the States. Regarding the contention that the industry has already been established upon a payable footing, I certainly do not know where that is the case. For some years past attention has been directed to cotton-growing in Queensland. Various farmers have tried to cultivate small plots. I know of one place where’ they eventually obtained a ginning machine, which the manufacturers assisted them to purchase. These persons are now growing cotton in a more or less experimental way, and are gradually ascertaining what class of plant is best suited to their particular lands. Thus there is every prospect of the industry being ultimately placed upon a payable basis. In this connexion, I should like to read a short extract from a newspaper in regard to a sample of cotton which was grown by Dr. Thomatis in Queensland -
Much has been written as to the merits of Caravonica cotton; a very fine variety grown by Dr. D. Thomatis in the Cairns district. The doctor has been for many years a most persevering experimenter in cotton-growing, and the value of his staple has been assessed by experts at is. per lb. and upwards. When he shipped a parcel to Liverpool a few months ago, however, it failed to reach the price anticipated. But he has lately had great demand for the seed, an’d some time ago refused an offer of a foreign buyer foi” all he possessed. But he perseveres in his attempt to establish the cotton-growing industry in Queensland on a mercantile basis, and it at length appears as though he has succeeded. In another column will be found a copy of- a telegram Dr. Thomatis has just received from his agents at Havre, France, which conveys the gratifying information that fifty kilos pf his product had been sold there at the rate of is. 3d. per lb., and that many thousands of bales of that kind were wanted by Belgian and Dutch spinners While it is undoubtedly a riskful business to try to grow cotton for the world’s market at 5d. or 6d. per lb., there ought to be no uncertainty about the remunerativeness of growing Caravonica cotton which will realize is. 3d. The probability is, however, that only on our tropical coast lands can cotton of that kind be grown to perfection. Still, there should be a large -area o”i country in the north suitable for the product.
That extract goes to show that earnest endeavours are being made to place the industry upon a sound footing, and I think we all admit - especially after hearing the figures which were quoted by the honorable member for Kooyong - that if it can be made successful it will be a very big thing, not only to the primary producers of Australia, but also to the secondary producers - that is to say our” manufacturers. ‘Upon that statement, and in view of other instances of which I have personal knowledge - instances in which persons are growing cotton and struggling towards success - we are quite justified in encouraging the establishment of the industry. To my mind the cultivation of this commodity, more than any other set out in the schedule, is worthy of State aid. I am further of opinion that it should receive much more substantial encouragement than it is proposed to extend to it under this Bill. We shall be acting very wisely if we appropriate some of the money which it is intended to expend in fostering the production of other commodities, and devote it to the encouragement of cotton- cultivation. There is another matter to which I desire to direct attention. Honorable members are aware that the Commonwealth hastaken over the administration of British New Guinea. We are responsible for the future welfare of the Possession. What I wish to point out is that there are certain commodities specified in this schedule which are the natural products of New Guinea. Copra is one of them, and I presume thai palm fruit would be another. It seems to me that, if by the payment of bounties we induce persons in Australia to undertake the cultivation of tropical products which are indigenous to the Possession, we shall eventually be landed in a very awkward dilemma. For example, as soon as the bounty upon the production of rubber is. withdrawn, that article must come into competition with the black-labour product of New Guinea, and the industry will be unable to stand. Shall we then have to raise a Tariff wall against our own Possession? There are certain commodities produced by black labour in New Guinea for the production of which by white labour in Australia, we are offering a bounty. It seems to me that the money which has been allocated to foster the production of these ai tides, might with advantage be appropriated to encourage the cultivation of cotton. The argument has been advanced during this debate that the cotton industry was started in America with the assistance of black labour. There is no doubt that that is so. It has also been said that the industry has failed in Queensland in the past. But I would point out that the position nOW is very different from what it was thirty -or forty years ago. At the present time we get a lot of by-products from the cotton, the value of which must be practically equal to that of the cotton itself. For instance, we get the seed, the oil, and the cake, which is made from the refuse. These by-products give the industry a better chance than it formerly enjoyed, of being profitably carried on by means of white labour. I heartily agree with the remarks of the honorable member for Boothby with regard to the employment of child labour. None of us wish to see children taken away from educational institutions to engage in any form of industry. But any industry which is calculated during the winter months of their holidays to attract them to the country, where they may possibly acquire a taste for rural life, is highly deserving of encouragement. I have nothing further to add, but I do hope that I have succeeded in proving to some honorable members that the cotton industry has been established with a fair prospect of success, although its success has not yet. been assured. There are many men like Dr. Thomatis, who have been trying to establish it for years at the expenditure of much capital, time, and labour, and who, I think, have a very fair claim upon the community for assistance.
– I am sure that, when the encouragement of the cotton industry is under consideration in this House, we all regret the absence of Mr. Wilkinson, who, during the last Parliament represented the electorate of Moreton. He had made this subject peculiarly his own, and was an authority on every phase of it. I make these remarks without desiring to reflect in any way upon the honorable gentleman whom the electors of Moreton have seen fit to return to this Parliament. I should like to know why the industry is not already well established. On. the occasion of our visit to North Queensland two years ago, we had evidence that cotton could be grown successfully in both the Mackay and Cairns districts. During the recent parliamentary visit to the Northern Territory, I gathered cotton which was growing wild on the Adelaide River, and on showing some of it -to a Mr.
Haig, a cotton-spinner carrying on business upon ain extensive scale in Manchester, was told by) him that the staple was long and of fair quality, although it was somewhat rough. He was surprised to think that such cotton grew wild in the north, and promised to bring the fact under the attention of the Cotton Growers’ Association of Lancashire. .This gentleman informed me that his firm had 200,000 spindles in Manchester, and that he had been specially commissioned to inquire into the cotton industry in Japan and India, with a view of ascertaining what effect its competition had on the mill-owners of Manchester. In the circumstances, I agree with the honorable member for Kooyong that a bounty of £6,000 per annum is insufficient to secure the permanent establishment of the industry. The honorable member somewhat marred his speech by referring to this item as a “sop.” I regard it as an honest attempt by the Government to establish industries that can be acclimatized in the Northern Territory, where we desire to secure a large population.
– I did not use the word “ sop “ in an offensive sense.
– I am sure that the honorable member did not intend to do so, but the expression seemed to me to be hardly appropriate. A bounty of more than £6,000 per annum is required to induce the investment of capital in an industry the returns from which may be very doubtful. Since visiting the Northern Territory, I have become more than ever convinced that the chief problem that we have to face in relation to this matter is the labour one. We shall have to make some sacrifices in the interests of a White Australia. It may be that we cannot successfully engage in certain forms of tropical agriculture in the Northern Territory or other parts of Northern Australia unless we employ cheap labour. Cheap labour is largely employed in the southern States of America, as well as in India and Egypt, from which the bulk of our cotton comes. The question is whether we can successfully combat such competition. I believe that the payment of a bounty of £6,000 per annum would not carry the industry beyond an experimental stage. Having regard to the labour problem, it is doubtful whether, after a total expenditure of £48,000 on the cotton industry we should find that we had placed it on a permanent basis. I think, therefore, that we ought to deal with it just as we have dealt with the sugar industry. A bounty Such as that granted in respect of sugar produced, by white labour would make a heavy demand on the Treasury, but we should have in return a permanent and extensive taxable community in the north.
– The so-called sugar bounty is not a bounty.
– It is a preference or advantage to the extent of £2 per ton, granted to the growers of sugar by , white labour. I am assured that in the southern States of America coloured labour on the cotton fields is being displaced by white labour. It has been found that black labour, which in the early days was thought absolutely necessary to the industry, and led to the continuation of slavery there for many years after its abolition in other countries is not in the end so cheap as is white labour, and large numbers of Italians and other Europeans are now being employed in the cotton fields. “That being so, we have some reason to hope that the industry may be successfully established here, although the reports that we have received on the subject are not altogether satisfactory. When I tell honorable members that a profit of one-sixteenth of a penny per yard on .made-up cotton is regarded by the largest manufacturers in Manchester as sufficient, they will recognise that a very slight increase in the rates of wages paid in connexion with the cultivation of this product would be sufficient to destroy, or, at all events, to hamper the industry. I trust that the Minister will pay careful attention to the demand that the proposed bounty should be increased. There is a possibility that during the first two or three years no claim may be made for the bounty, and, in that event, the amount set apart for distribution during the remaining years might be increased. I am sure that no one who thought of doing no more than qualifying for. the bounty would regard £6,000 a year as a sufficient inducement to make a start.
.- I do not ‘wish to repeat the arguments which I submitted on the motion for the second reading of the Bill. If there is one item in the schedule that appeals to me it is that relating to the cotton industry, but I have come to the conclusion, after mature consideration, that we shall not be able at the present time to successfully cultivate cotton, either in the north of Queensland or the Northern Territory. I recognise that Ave have areas available for the cultivation of the plant, and I think the Committee will admit that we are able to produce cotton, both in Queensland and the Northern Territory. The question that confronts us, however, is whether we can profitably produce it. That brings us back to the problem of cheap labour. The cotton industry is essentially a cheap-labour one. It is so in America, and the only countries that are competing with it in the growth of cotton at the present time are those which have .available an abundance of cheap labour, for the most part coloured, to do the work.
– Is not that what was said when the sugar bounty was under discussion ?
– I cannot say?
– With one voice the Opposition raised that cry.
– I am convinced that it would be a good thing, not only for Aus- tralia, but for the world, if the monopoly in cotton which is held by the Southern States of America could be broken down. But, as I have said, I have come” to “the mature conclusion that we cannot produce cotton at a price that would enable us to compete in the ‘ markets of the ‘ world against the American product, unless we are prepared to accept cheap labour ‘in its production. ‘ In Egypt,- India, the East Indies, and China, where cotton is grown, there is an abundance of cheap labour available for cultivating and picking it. I think it was the honorable member for Darling who said that a recent invention in America would do away with hand labour, in cotton picking. It is true that a cotton-picking, machine has been invented, but, as yet, its success or otherwise has not been proved. There has been no successful attempt to gather cotton except by humanlabour.’ In America, some of this work isbeing done by white labour - by ‘ Italians, and also by the American farmer, who cai* employ his own children in picking the staple. ‘ That may be a very good or a very bad thing, but I -dread exceedingly thecreation here of a greater problem of child labour that we have at present. I am willing to admit with the honorable member for Darling that if we are to. have child labour, it is very much better that children should work- in the open, rather than in. factories ; but I am exceedingly anxious that the lives of the children should be preserved from drudgery, and that they should; have time, not only to go to school, but for the physical development which they so much require.
– Up to what age? [
– I would fix a higher limit.
– I should favour sixteen years.
– Then let us say sixteen years. I would join with my honorable friends of the Labour Party in any movement calculated to assist in the physical development and the education of our young people. In Australia we are faced with a very serious problem of this kind. In some of the south-coast districts of New South Wales - and I am told the same obtains in the northern districts, and in some places in Queensland - little children are employed in the dairying industry. Sometimes these children have to rise at 4 in the morning, bring in and milk, perhaps ten or fourteen cows, before going to school. They walk home for lunch, and when they return in the afternoon from school, the cows have to be brought in and milked again, and then they devote what time they have left to home-lesson work. That is too great a strain on young minds and bodies ; and here is presented a problem which we shall be called upon to solve before very long. I am afraid that if the cotton industry were established, we might see a similar state of things in the picking season, and I am very anxious that there should be no such result. I emphatically protest against the insinuation which the honorable member for Cook made that there is sweating of child labour in the Lithgow ironworks.
– I did not say that there was sweating ; but that I have spoken to boys there, who did not appear to be over fourteen years of age.
– Under the State law, boys of that age are allowed to go to work. When I saw those same boys I made inquiries, not only as to their ages, but as to the rate of wages they were getting, and I found the latter to run from 12s. to 18s. per week. I ascertained, moreover, that the police were very strict in the supervision of this labour, and that there were in the works no children under the prescribed school age, unless they had complied with the education law, and had passed certain standards and classes.
– A child may pass an examination, and get a certificate to leave school at eleven years of age.
– That is so. I understood the honorable member for Cook - and it is on that understanding that I am protesting now - to say that child labour was sweated in the Lithgow ironworks.
– I said nothing of the kind.
– The honorable member for Cook has contradicted the statement.
– I accept the contradiction with great pleasure. We are told that the object of this bounty is the establishment of cotton mills in Australia; and I remind the honorable member for Cook, who expressed the hope that this might be the result, that it will be necessary to have very careful safeguards, seeing that for the last hundred years child labour in cotton factories has been a problem, not only in England and America, but throughout the civilized world. The honorable member for Capricornia quoted the experience of Dr. Thomatis, as showing that cotton could be profitably grown in Queensland, because that gentleman had received1s. 3d. per lb. for 1 cwt. of cotton in the French market. But, while 1 cwt. of cotton may be produced of sufficient quality to return 1s. 3d. per lb., we have to consider what it cost to produce the cotton. At the time of the American civil war, bounties were given for the production of cotton in India, and the cost of manufacture was something like 2s. 6d. per lb. Dr. Thomatis was further quoted as saying that the French spinners will take as much cotton as Australia likes to send. We know, of course, that the manufacturers, not only of England, but of Europe generally, and especially of France and Germany, are only anxious to avail themselves of fresh sources of supply, and will take as much good cotton as we can grow. But we cannot grow good cotton at a price which would pay in competition with the United States, especially the Southern States. We must remember not only that America has got the monopoly of the industry, but also that the manufacturers there have developed the byproducts to such a pitch that the profits on the latter suffice. And, further, I think I am within the mark in saying that only about one-fifth of the available cotton lands of the Southern States have, up to the present, been brought into cultivation, so that there is ample room for development to meet increased demands. When we are trying to build up the cotton industry, we must remember that it means competing with cotton grown by cheap labour; and cotton must remain a cheap-labour product so long as the nations at present producing it continue to do so. I repeat that it is with great reluctance I have to give my vote for the amendment. If I could be convinced that we could successfully -inaugurate this industry, I should be prepared to grant a bounty even greater than that proposed, but I am certain that the bounty would not have the result which its proposers anticipate, and, therefore, I must vote in the way I have indicated.
– I, too, would vote for the proposed bounty did I not see danger ahead. I can see in this proposed bounty the probable beginning of an industry which will mean slavery in Australia.
– I desire to make a personal explanation.
– -I remind the honorable member for Cook that the honorable member for Darwin has the floor. If the honorable member for Cook desires to make a personal explanation he may do so, but he should not rise for that purpose when another honorable member is on his feet.
– I rose to make the explanation some time ago; I am not quite accustomed to the rules of the House. If the- honorable member for Nepean were in the chamber when I was speaking, he could not have paid much attention to what I said. My remarks were in answer to the honorable member for Lang, who endeavoured to show that it was impossible to have the cotton industry without its becoming virtually a child labour industry.
– That is a misrepresentation, anyhow.
– That was what I understood the honorable member to say. What I did say was that the honorable member did not show as much concern about child labour in other industries. I mentioned that I had seen very young boys employed in the iron works at Eskbank, and that I had questioned them as to their ages, which proved to be about fourteen years. I did not insinuate that the boys are unfairly treated., or that fair rates of wages are not paid to them. I said I would help., not only the iron industry, but any other industry which required assistance.
– In the early days of the cotton industry in the United States, there was no idea that cotton would become king, and rest on slavery.’ It was only with the invention of the cotton gin, that cotton became the great export of the whole of the United States. I am afraid that we to-day may start the industry, and that years hence, when we are smouldering in our graves, some of the lineal descendants of Balaam’s ass, devoid of all the psychological attainments of their illustrious progenitors, will rise up in this House and demand that we have slavery or cheap or contract labour, simply because the industry is here. It is the duty of every democrat to remove any danger of slavery in the future. As the honorable and learned member for Corio pointed out, black labour in America is being displaced by white labour, which is found to be more constant and valuable.
– What is being done with the blacks?
– The blacks are going in to the cities and making slaves of the white people. Some honorable members express a desire to prevent child labour, but all over Australia to-day, in factories and in the dairying and other industries, child labour of all kinds is employed. Therefore, the fear of child labour is no argument against the proposed bounty, though, at the same time, I quite agree that we cannot justify one wrong by perpetrating another. The danger is that we may start an industry, and that, when the bounty is exhausted, another ‘kind of labour will be proposed in order to make it a success - that, under these circumstances, if we have not direct, we shall have indirect slavery, as amongst the Chinese in South Africa. On that account, I must vote against the item.
– - I have listened patiently to-day to a number of speeches ; but they all seemed repetitions of the argument that, because the cotton industry employs cheap labour in other parts of the world, we should not encourage its establishment in Australia. If that argument is to prevail, it can be used against the establishment of any industry here, because in some parts of the world cheap labour is used in connexion with every industry which exists. I shall vote against the amendment.
.- It seems to me that we have put the cart before the horse in voting £530,000 for the payment of bounties before deciding what bounties we shall grant. We should first have come to a decision as to how much it is necessary to give to establish each of the various industries which we wish to encourage. But in every case we should see that the amount voted is sufficient to do what we have in view. It is useless to fritter away comparatively small amounts in efforts which must prove abortive. I should like the Government to take into consideration the advisability of allocating£10,000 for the encouragement -of the cotton industry, reducing the bounty for the production of dried fish to£6,000.
.- I cannot allow the misrepresentation of the honorable member for Boothby to pass without reply, lest it be quoted against me on some future occasion. As I have already stated, it is quite reasonable to object to this proposal on two diametrically opposite grounds on the ground that the cotton industry cannot be established here - and also on the ground that it is now being prosecuted successfully, because, if it cannot be established, no bounty to encourage its establishment can’ have permanent effect, while if the industry is already a success, no bounty is necessary. In regard to what he said about my attitude towards the proposal to bring the dairying industry within the scopeof the Arbitration Bill, I find, by referring to Hansard, that in dealing with that proposal I made no reference to child labour, my opposition to it being based on other grounds. I have never advocated the employment of children in the dairying or any other industry. I repudiate, too, the assertion of the honorable member for Cook that, while many of us on this side have expressed a great deal of sympathy for the children who may be engaged in the cotton industry, we have no objection to the employment of young children in the iron industry. We have no desire to encourage the employment of young children in any industry.
– As I understand that it is the general desire to come to a division on the amendment, I will, on the understanding that no other honorable member will speak, forego my right to address the Committee.
Question - That the words “cotton ginned “ proposed tobe left out stand part of the schedule - put. The Committee divided
Ayes … … … 36
Noes … … … 9
Majority …. … 27
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the Senate, and (or motion by Mr. Groom) read a first time.
Mr. GROOM laid upon the table the following paper -
Report of the Conference of State officers . on the Bounties Bill, 16th April, 1907.
Ordered to be printed.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.-I should like the Acting Prime Minister to say what business it is proposed to proceed with next week, and also to inform the House as to the health of the Prime Minister, regarding which we are all very anxious to have the latest information.
– Upon Tuesday next the consideration of the Bounties Bill will be resumed, and if completed the Quarantine Bill will then be proceeded with. In reference to the other portion of the honorable member’s question, I am glad to say that I had’ a telephone communication from the Prime Minister this morning stating that his health has very much improved, and that he hopes to be in his place in the House the week after next.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.4 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 July 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19070726_reps_3_37/>.