3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to know from the Acting Prime Minister whether, before the Commonwealth Salaries Bill is considered, he will furnish honorable members with the rates of income tax applying in the various States, so that we may be able to see how the public servants of the Commonwealth will be affected by the passing of the measure.
– I shall be glad to lay upon the table all the information obtainable on the subject.
– I wish to know from the Acting Prime Minister whether the inspection of sites for the Federal Capital, which was to have taken place at the end of the week, has been postponed for three weeks. If so, I should like to know why there should be this long delay ?
– The Government does not wish to take honorable members to Dalgety during the cold weather.
– It was first arranged that some of the proposed sites should be inspected last week; but when the time for the visit arrived, very few honorable members seemed inclined to go. Arrangements for going this week were practically completed when, yesterday, I received the intimation that, in consequence of what is to take place next week, and for other reasons, honorable members generally wish the visit to be deferred for three weeks.
– Is public business of special importance to come on next week ?
– There is a function, I understand, which some honorable members have promised to attend.
– My attention has been drawn to the following paragraph, which appears in this morning’s Age -
THE BOUNTIES BILL.
The Opposition Corner is, after all, to make an attack on the Bounties Bill. The demonstration in force is to. be on the third reading.
Sir William Lyne made the following statement to a representative of the Age last evening : - “ Mr.Irvine has informed me that he will propose some course on the third reading of the Bounties Bill, with the object of postponing the further consideration of the measure till after the budget. I understand he intends to take up a constitutional objection on the subject.”
There is in the statement about as much truth and as much untruth as is usual in connexion with the information supplied by this journal. The intention of the paragraph is obviously to place honorable members who sit on the Opposition corner benches in a false position by making it appear that we contemplate attacking the Government during the very regrettable absence of the Prime Minister, though it has been stated over and over again that that will not be done. The facts of the case are these : Yesterday in conversation with the AttorneyGeneral, I informed him that it was my intention, and possibly that of other honorable members, to take a further opportunity, before the measure leaves this Chamber, ‘to discuss the Bounties Bill from the general financial aspect. I thought it only fair that the Government should know that ; but in future I shall be more careful about treating Ministers with such candour.
– The Government Whip told me last night that he had been communicated with by the honorable and learned member for Flinders, who intended, on the motion for the third reading of the Bounties Bill, to move an amendment which would have the effect of postponing the further consideration of the measure until the Budget speech had been delivered.
– If that be so, then the honorable gentleman was absolutely misinformed.
– A statement on the subject was afterwards made to me by the Attorney-General. I gave this information to a representative of the Age, and I think that I was justified in doing so, seeing that it came to me through the Government Whip, and one of my colleagues.
– I do not doubt the accuracy of what the honorable gentleman says; but I decline to take responsibility for the information which he received from his colleagues. I have told the House exactly what occurred. The paragraph which I have read conveys an entirely false impression as to what took place. Whether that is the fault of the honorable gentleman or the press representative to whom he communicated his information I cannot say.
– Has the attention of the Acting Prime Minister been called to the following paragraph, which appears in to-day’s Argus -
SYDNEY, Wednesday.- Mr. G. M. Merivale, president of the Chamber of Commerce, in his annual address to-night, suggested that the Northern Territory might be handed over to Great Britain, to be populated with blacks from India. Never in the world’s history, he said, had a vigorous white population been reared in the tropics, and if the Northern Territory was to be kept for white men only it must be kept empty for ever. The danger of a black population was only real if that population was not under proper control, and the solution of the difficulty might be found if England resumed the government of the Territory as ‘provided when the grant was made to South Australia.
I wish to knowif the Government favours the introduction of Indians into Australia, and whether the British Government has the right to resume the Northern Territory ?
-I have read the statement. The matter has not been before the Government ; but Ministers have not the slightest intention of doing what is suggested.
– Has the British’ Government power to resume the Northern Territory ?
– If the British authorities exercised to the full the powers which they possess, they could do many things which they are not likely to do.
– They could resume the Commonwealth.
– They could resume the whole Empire; but that is not likely. I am satisfied that the British Government would not think of acting contrary to the wishes of the Commonwealth in regard to the control of the Northern Territory.
– Has not the Acting Prime Minister been advised that the effect of the Constitution is to supersede the Letters Patent of 1863, and to make the Northern Territory part of South Australia?
– The Prime Minister has been dealing with the questions affecting the Northern Territory, and it is only casually that I have received information in regard to it. The whole matter will be fully gone into when the proposed transfer is brought before the House, so that honorable members will be able to exactly understand the position.
– On the 18th July a deputation of members of this Parliament, of the Victorian Parliament, and of the Trades and Labour Council of Victoria waited on the Prime Minister in reference to contract labour. When will he be able to give the reply which he promised ?
– I have not been idle, but have consulted the Prime Minister in regard to the matter, and late last night received a report from Mr. Hunt, which deals with the whole subject. I have not had time to go through that report, but I shall be prepared in a few days to make a statement in regard to it.
– Has the Acting Prime Minister noticed the report in this morning’s Age of a speech made by the Premier of New South Wales, in which he says that 2,000 miners are needed by that State? This is the exact number mentioned in the advertisement which has been published in England. Can the honorable gentleman take action to contradict the statement, in view of the fact that, in consequence of the introduction of coalmining machinery, many men are unable to obtain employment in the coal mines of New South Wales?
– I read the report, and was struck with the fact that the number mentioned was practically the same as that stated in the advertisement referred to. I promised yesterday that I would endeavour to ascertain how these advertisements have appeared, that is, such as I think extreme in their terms, and I shall do so if possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The Public Service Commissioner reports as follows: -
asked the At torney-General, upon notice -
Has he definitely decided to refuse to allow the several public bodies representative of the commercial and trading classes of the Commonwealth an opportunity of perusing the Draft Bankruptcy Bill after it has been dealt with by the officials who are to administer it?
– I cannot promise that I will forward a copy of the draft Bankruptcy Bill to any particular public bodies before its introduction into Parliament ; but I again repeat that I will be pleased to consider any representations that may be made by any public body in connexion with the proposed Bill, the draft of whichhas not yet been completed.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether, in the proposed Customs Tariff Bill, he will see that provision is made that in every protected industry fair wages, hours, and conditions of labour are provided ?
– The matter referred to is receiving the earnest attention of the Government.
asked the Acting
Prime Minister, upon notice -
– It seems to me that any statement made should be in connexion with the policy of the Government at the time of making the Budget speech.
.- I move -
That, in order to effectively defend the Commonwealth against possible enemies, it is imperative that all able-bodied adult males should be trained to the use of arms and instructed in such military or naval drill as may be necessary for the purpose.
This is the fourth occasion upon which I have had the honour of submitting a motion substantially similar to this. Upon the first occasion, the Defence Bill then before the House embodied a principle which was - though not new in itself - for it is one inherent in all Governments - new to the statute law of this country. It made provision for calling all able-bodied males to the defence of the country in time of emergency. I thought then - and I think now - that that is a very excellent thing in itself, but it represents only the half of what it is necessary to do. I took the opportunity of saying then - the right honorable member for Swan, who was in charge of the Defence Department at the time, was unable to agree with my suggestion - that to call out the adult males of our population, men who have had no training in the use of arms, no experience in military movements, who were unfamiliar with discipline, and unable to use a rifle, was merely to call to our aid the services of an undisciplined mob. It is admitted, I assume, that every country must be defended. We in Australia have been accustomed for many years to rely upon some sort of imitation of the system in force in Great Britain. That system - if we are to believe the testimony of experts, and to profit by our common sense, experience and knowledge - has proved lamentably deficient. When Great Britain was called upon some six years ago to commence warlike operations against a people - very nearly the smallest independent Government in the civilized world - who were not all trained in the use of arms, or familiar with discipline - it was not until some 450,000 troops had been transported to South Africa, and every part of the Empire had been called upon to render assistance, that she succeeded in subduing them. That certainly does not reflect credit upon the system nor upon us as a nation. Of course I am not now speaking of the merits of the war. The circumstances to which I have referred show that the system then obtaining, and still in vogue, is quite inadequate for the purposes of defending a great Empire like ours. In Australia, I know very well that there are some who regard our position with equanimity, and who say that if it were not for the quarrels in which Great Britain may embroil us, we need never fear war, or make any preparations for our defence. They say that we are a peaceful people, that we desire to live at peace with all the world, and that consequently no- nation would dare to become the aggressor. It is quite true, no doubt, that criticism does lie against the British Empire in that it has never hesitated to stretch out a predatory hand to gather fresh territories into its already over laden arms. But it appears to me that it does not lie in the mouths of Australians to make such criticisms. We have a population of less than 5,000,000, yet we live in a country little less in size and not less fertile than Europe or the United States of America- a country which, I venture to believe, is able to sustain a population not less numerous than that supported by the territories I have mentioned. We make a claim to call the whole of this great continent ours, and to dictate terms upon which any person may enter it. That is a bold claim, but it is one which has my cordial approval. The policy which actuates very nearly the whole ofAustralia in this matter is, I think, a salutary and wise one. But it is certainly a policy which does not tend to make friends outside our borders. It is a policy which tends to antagonise some nations, at any rate, and one which, unless backed up by some adequate display of force on our part, is likely to embroil us in quarrels which may lead to disaster. Then there are others in the com- munity content to rely upon the might of Great Britain, although they know very well that the Empire may at any moment be precipitated into a struggle which will necessitate the forces available for the defence of this country being withdrawn to some more vital spot, or dissipated to the four corners of the earth. When that day comes we shall have 1o depend - as we ought to depend now - upon ourselves alone. I do say that both those who look to the future of this country as a part of the British Empire, and those who, perhaps, have other aspirations, ought seriously to consider the necessity of putting our house in order. At present we live in a fool’s paradise. We have a system of defence neither adequate nor effective in any! way. No doubt, individually, the units of this force are everything that can be desired. I do not know whether they- are now armed as they ought to be, but individually - as men I mean - they are most excellent. But to defend a country possessing a coast line of 8,000 miles, a country committed to a policy certainly irritating to the last degree to some nations, no longer to be despised or spoken of as barbarian, and outside_.the pale of civilized peoples, we must rely upon some much more effective means of defence. Some day, unless I am much mistaken, those nations will inevitably adopt other means of enforcing those desires already made known to us. No one, who is not deliberately blind, can fail to recognise the quite acute position now existing between the inhabitants of the western slope of the United States of America and those of Japan. Nothing but the fact that America possesses a population of 80,000,000, and that any attempt to crush such a country would demand the forces of a nation at least similarly numerous, does, I believe, cause Japan to hesitate to declare war. We have a population of 5,000,000, we are isolated from the rest of the world, and we have here a second rate, or third rate, naval detach-‘ ment, which, under the terms of the Naval Agreement, may, at any moment, be withdrawn. I wish to say nothing about the obvious necessity of having a first line of defence. Honorable members will see, by perusing the terms of my motion, that I do not propose to confine universal training to military purposes - I desire it to extend to all purposes, both military and naval. And when I speak of universal training, I wish to emphasize the fact that it is a system of universal training, and not of universal service, which I am advocating. It is particularly a system of universal training for home defence - for home defence only. We are not now - and I hope that we never shall be - an aggressive nation. We desire nothing more than to be left in peace. But to secure peace it is necessary, I think, to be prepared in some measure for war. It does certainly seem that it is necessary to set forth this fundamental fact: that it is the primary and sacred duty of every citizen to defend his country. Because it is a primary and sacred duty, it ought not to be delegated. It is a personal duty which can be delegated only with the very greatest amount of risk. I have said before - and I say now - that I defy any honorable member, or any citizen in the Commonwealth, to cite one case in ancient or modern times in which a country ever maintained its national independence, and the freedom of its demo- .cratic institutions, when once it handed over the business of its defence to a mercenary or professional soldiery. There are some democrats who seem to imagine that democracy is the last word in government - that it is the natural and inevitable result of evolution, proceeding from the least to the most effective method. But instead of that being so, democracy is most unnatural - using the word to connote the uncommon. It is a pyramid, so to speak, which is no longer on its base, but upon its apex. Government has, wherever free to do so, always tended to pass into the hands of those persons who possessed the most determined character, and who had, perhaps, the most force behind them. Primitive government is government by one man, and we can only maintain the equilibrium of the pyramid upon its apex by the most jealous care and ceaseless vigilance. The French revolution showed that conclusively. In France the most perfect System of democracy existed, but it merely paved the way to a military despotism. Rome had a most perfect system of democracy, and yet fell a ripe plum into the hands of Caesar. The Grecian States were not less fortunate. None of them were able to stand against the Macedonians who were governed by a king. The Athenians, whilst under an oligarchy, occupied a position very superior as a fighting nation to! that which they occupied under a pure democracy. As we have gone so far in establishing an order of things in which every man and woman has an equal right to all the privileges and . benefits conferred upon any person in the country, we must at least do ‘ something towards fitting, ourselves to maintain this happy but unusual state of affairs. It must, then, I think, be admitted, that it is the duty of every man in a democracy to defend his country. And I think every citizen in Australia is quite ready to play his part, should occasion arise, manfully. The defence of one’s country, however, calls for something more than the display of patriotism and courage, lt requires training. A man may be courageous by nature, but he certainly will not shoot well unless trained. His ideas of discipline are naturally very vague and primitive. lt is not when the tocsin sounds, that a wise people begin to prepare for war. They prepare long before. In Great Britain, where perhaps they have less need of an effective land defence force than we have, all those men, who, like Lord Roberts, have given this subject their best consideration, and the two Commissions appointed to inquire into these matters, have united in condemning the present system. . Mr. Haldane’s Bill is a complete condemnation of it. Yet those who are best qualified to judge declare that if there be anything that is good in Mr. Haldane’s Bill it will yet fail to be effective, and for the same reason - it lacks that principle of compulsion which alone can insure success. Only the other day, too, we were informed that the British Government had sent a Commission to Switzerland to examing and inquire into the working of the Swiss system. In effect, the proposal I put before the House means the adoption of that system, with such modifications as are demanded by our different circumstances. Let me say, first of all, that I admit at once that there is compulsion in the scheme which I advocate ; we desire that every person of a certain age shall submit himself to certain training. A great number of people object to the system because it is compulsory. I believe that the Victorian National Defence League, by a quite original tour de force, managed to declare itself in favour of compulsory military training upon a volunteer basis ! Unhappily, my mind is incapable of grasping such a proposal. Compulsion, to which my critics take exception, is the very essence of the government of these States, a-nd indeed the very essence of civilization itself. Those who object to compulsion are recruited chiefly from two schools - the Socialists and the Individualists. It is difficult to understand how either school can consistently object to. the proposal . merely because it is compulsory in its nature. The socialistic theory depends absolutely upon1 compulsion, the individualistic upon absolute freedom. But the individualist is not less illogical in this matter than is the Socialist, because the whole system of law which regulates and orders all things in a civilized community is based upon compulsion. Absolute freedom is a chimera. All men are bound in their actions by the law. A citizen is not told to do something merely because it is right, but because it is the law, and if he does not do it something happens to him. A law without a penalty is usually of no effect-, and is not regarded seriously. Let us consider for a moment what is the position in regard to every other important social duty in addition to that of which I am now speaking. Take that of education. Every person in this community is compelled to have his child educated. It is not for him to say that he is unable to have that child educated, or that he prefers that he shall not be taught. He is required to educate him. If he has no children of his own, he is taxed to provide for the education of the children of others, and even if he sends his own children to a private seminary, he has to contribute to the education of other children in our State schools. No man is asked whether he will agree to take this step ; he has to take it. Then again, although a man may have a library of his own, he is taxed to provide a public library for the whole of1 the citizens. Although he may have no cause to resort to that library - indeed, he may be living in Bourke or Mildura, and have few, if any, opportunities to visit the National Art Gallery or the National Library - he is taxed in common with those who live close at hand, to provide for the maintenance of those excellent institutions.
– So far as all those institutions are concerned, every man recognises that that is a right thing to do.
– The great point is that no consideration is given ‘to the question of whether the individual citizen thinks it right or wrong to do this. The State has decided that the people shall contribute towards the ‘ maintenance of these institutions, and so we have in operation in all these cases the principle of compulsion. We have the same principle in the law which requires infectious diseases to be reported to the Board of Health, and in that which rer quires that every. child in this State shall be vaccinated. Although a man may be perfectly convinced that, for the best of reasons, his child ought not to be vaccinated, the law requires that it shall be. It appears to me, therefore, that to urge that a proposal involves compulsion is not to say anything against the proposal itself. The arguments of those who oppose it must be directed against the principle. The question of whether it is bad or good must be considered as well as that of whether there is any other method by which these ends may be served, quite apart from the principle of compulsion, which may be necessary to give effect to it. The principle of compulsion in itself is odious and intolerable. No man ought to be compelled to do anything unless it is for the benefit df the community, or himself or his family. But when once it has been determined that something is essential to the well-being of the community, civilization never hesitates to apply compulsion in order to secure it. It must be generally admitted that it is necessary to defend one’s country ; and it is equally clear that the present system does not provide an adequate system of defence. With the forces at present at our disposal, we cannot view with equanimity the possibility- of an invasion of a serious character. No man can say that /with these forces we could defend ourselves from such an invasion. The present system then stands condemned, and not an unnecessary hour should elapse before we replace it with an effective one. There are three, if not more, alternatives by which we may secure an effective defence force. One of these is to create a sufficiently large standing army to meet all probable contingencies. There are at least two reasons why we cannot do this. In the first place, it would be an enormously expensive undertaking. A regular army capable of coping with all probable and possible invasions would involve an expenditure which the Commonwealth is not in a position to meet. In addition to that it would mean the creation of a military caste most undesirable in this country. It would be impossible to have a sufficiently strong standing army without withdrawing from production the very flower of the nation, and by keeping them engaged in an unproductive avenue we should lose the product of their labour and at the same time create amongst ‘these men a desire for war. A professional soldier sees nothing in peace. He wants war. War offers him an opportunity for advancement and distinction, and sometimes for profit. The professional soldier is always for war; he hopes to gain preferment by it. The maintenance of a large standing army stimulates too that spirit of jingoism, which at times is already too noticeable. Lastly, such a proposal is impossible, because it would be a dangerous menace to democracy. The people of this country for thai, if for no other reason, would never . agree to an augmentation of the regular forces sufficient to cope with any emergency. Then we have the volunteer system. From the mouths of many excellent men, both in this country and in others, a continuous flow of eulogy of the volunteer system comes from time to time. Such a system is an excellent one. It is true that one volunteer is often worth two - perhaps ten - pressed men, but he is certainly not worth fifty, and sometimes he is not worth two. As a matter of fact, the volunteers offering are quite insufficient in numbers to do what is necessary. In England they have been steadily diminishing. Notwithstanding the fact that during, the Boer war the patriotism and the courage of the English were inflamed to fever heat, the war strengths of the volunteer regiments were never made up. Only 19,000 volunteers were accepted for active service in that war. Some of those who offered their services were physically unfit for duty, the majority did not volunteer. The whole of the volunteer forces are very much depleted, and recruiting is becoming more difficult. In spite of these facts one can understand how it is that the volunteer system is so popular, since it affords to those who do noi volunteer some excuse for their failure to do their duly. It is from the mouths of such men that we hear the greatest eulogy of the system. The volunteer who deliberately determines to give his time to his country - who spends every Saturday afternoon in fitting himself by drill and rifle practice to defend his country - is regarded as little less than a fool by those who go to football matches or spend their Saturday afternoons in other ways. But when the time comes to oppose a proposal for universal training, these unpatriotic or short-sighted citizens one and all declare themselves very much in favour of that system, because by it alone are they able to evade their plain and obvious duty. The third alternative, and to my mind the most effective, is that which I advocate.
Under it every adult male would have an opportunity to be trained to defend his country… Honorable members have recently had an opportunity of reading some very excellent articles by Colonel Reay on the Swiss system. Those articles will shortly be available in pamphlet form, and honorable members will find in them a full description of that system. I need not then say any more in explanation of it tha.i that in Switzerland every male, with some very few exceptions, is liable to service from his twentieth to his fifty-fifth year. He is required to devote a certain number of days in the first year to drill, and then falls into another division the members of which have to devote a smaller number of days to the work. He first of all enters what is called tha Elite division. He then passes into the Landwehr, and finally into the Landsturm. Every Swiss who has attained the age of twenty is required, if in the infantry, to devote forty-seven days to continuous training. The English militia put in forty days, and no man who has seen the effect of this training can ever doubt that short as that period is, the physical and moral effects upon those who undergo it is anything less than remarkable. In the cavalry the period is eighty-two days ; in the artillery fifty-seven days ; in the engineers fifty-two days; and in the fortress troops fifty-seven days. After this training is completed, they have to undergo a repetition course, which means, in the infantry, eighteen! days’ training every second year for five years. This cannot be said to be an undue demand on the time of any one. Yet the result of the system is that the Swiss have an army, including the Landsturm, of some 500,000, of whom 250,000 are in the Elite and ‘the Landwehr. These men are all in the flower of their youth, and, in addition to military training, they are trained by these means, supplemented by a most extensive and excellent system of rifle clubs, to be very effective marksmen. Experts who are qualified to speak say that the Swiss army is an excellent one; and that it will bear comparison even with the great army of Germany. I do not for one moment say that we can make as good a soldier in forty-seven days as in three years, but I do say that the shorter period will make the better man. It is not a nation of soldiers we desire, but a nation of citizens who are trained to perform their chief primary duty of defending their country. In Australia every man has the franchise, and we insist as a natural corollary that every man shall be educated ; to permit the constituency, which has the full power of the franchise, to be ignorant and unlettered, would be to invite disaster, and we who advocate universal training, demand as a further corollary, that every man should be able when called upon to effectively defend his country. In Switzerland there is no reluctance on the part of the young men to undergo this training ; on. the contrary, they are profoundly dejected when they are declared medically unfit. And a very large percentage are declared unfit by reason of the very rigorous inspection to which they are subjected. Yet I do not think that so large a percentage of the whole of the Swiss nation, is rejected as there is of recruits who voluntarily offer themselves for enlistment in the regular army and militia of England. The number of men rejected in the Midlands of England is simply phenomenal, and that in spite of the fact that of recent years the height and the chest measurement have been reduced. Even in the small proportion of citizens who volunteer, there is a larger percentage of rejectments than in Switzerland, where the whole nation is practically subjected to examination. The young Swiss goes to his training, as I have said, with feelings of elation and joy. The employers, so far as I understand, take no exception to the training of their men, because they themselves have been subject to, and are a product of, the system. Rich and poor alike are sub,ject to the training; no men are exempt except in a few cases .which are set forth, but with which we need not trouble ourselves. Members of. Parliament are exempt from training or tax during the period they are in session, and Judges and some others are also exempt. Speaking general lv, however, the vast mass of the nation is liable, and those who do not pass the examination, or are, for any other reason, exempt, have- to pay a tax, so that every man either serves directly himself or makes a contribution which goes in part, if not wholly, to defray the cost of the training of others. I need hardly point out that Switzerland offers an example of the most perfect system of democracy ir> the civilized world. In that country they have the referendum. There government by the people exists to an extent of which we even here fall short. There is not one democrat there, so far as I can learn, who does not regard the system of training not only as quite compatible with democracy, but as necessary for its safety. The Socialists of Germany and France never confuse, as some do in Australia, the Swiss system with conscription.’ There is hardly a German Socialist in Parliament or outside it who is not agitating for the abolition of the existing system in Germany and the substitution of the Swiss system; for they realize that there is all the difference in the world between the two. The German system takes a man away from civil life for two or three years, and makes a professional soldier of him. The period of training is long enough to unfit many a man for peaceful and industrial pursuits. In Switzerland the period of training is, practically speaking, a holiday of six weeks, at the end of which a man returns . to civil life, physically and morally, benefited, and better able, by reason of improved health and strength and self-control, to compete in the industrial world. One is essentially the system of a nation of peace, and the other the system of a nation of war. Each country, judging by the policy of its rulers, has that system which best suits it. The army in Switzerland, is not a dear one. To maintain this army of altogether some 500,000 men-or without counting the Landsturm - of some 250,000 men, there is involved an expenditure of ,£1,500,000, inclusive of the amount contributed by those who are exempt. It is a cheap and effective system, and no army is better prepared ibr mobilisation.
– What does the expenditure amount to per head?
– I do not know. From an article in a German Encyclopaedia, written by a German who was formerly one of the heads of the Defence Department in Switzerland, it appears that in 1904 the military receipts of the Confederation amounted to 3,431,171 francs, and the disbursements to 29,192,536 francs. Deducting from this the military receipts, which I take to be the amount of the taxes paid by those who are exempt, we have a total of 25,761,365 francs, or £1,073,390 as the yearly expenditure. In addition to the ordinary expenditure there is a system of pensions to the widows of those who have died, or to those who have been injured in health or otherwise during military service. I have no figures as to the number of persons who served in 1904, but in 1906 the total was 539,109, of whom 262,138 were in the Landsturm, or that unarmed section of the community which has passed through certain active stages, leaving a balance of, say, 276,960 persons to be paid. Of course the amount that each man is paid is very small. During the instructional course a private is, roughly speaking, paid 7fd. per day, and in addition receives food, clothes, and lodging.
– Has the honorable member any statement as to the respective values of money in Switzerland and in Australia?
– Even if we regard the standard of living as, in fact, making a difference in’ the purchasing power, it must not be forgotten that the Swiss has not so many wants, or, at all events, that his wants are more easily satisfied ; and, therefore, 7fd. a day with him will be worth more than a similar sum would be here. But, even so, this payment is regarded by the Swiss as mere pocketmoney, and not in any sense of the word wages. He willingly, and with elation, serves his country, and, I say, is dejected to the last degree if he is exempted as unfit. If by reason of special expertness or activity he is selected as an officer or noncommissioned officer, he has to undergo additional preparatory training, and, although this involves! greater loss of time and money, he accepts the post with alacrity, simply because of the honour attaching to his selection. To show how this service is regarded,’ I may say that any person who has committed a penal offence is not allowed’ to serve, and any officer or noncommissioned officer who has contracted bad debts, or who is bankrupt, is relieved of his command until there is produced documentary evidence as to the settlement of the claims against his estate. It will be seen that it is an honour to serve in the Swiss army - that no one is allowed to serve who is not physically, mentally, and morally above suspicion. That is a lofty and inspiring ideal, and one which we might well aim at. I wish, not to labour the details of this system, but merely to outline so much as is essential to set forth the main features. The fullest information is at the disposal of honorable members, the excellent pamphlet written by Colonel Reay giving a complete description of the system. The National Defence League of Australia, with which I have the honour to be associated, advocates a system which, in essence, is based on that of Switzerland. I do not bind myself to details; it is to the principle which I have set forth that I am attached. I believe - and all will admit - that every man should be ready to serve his country in an emergency ; but not all are prepared to say that preparatory training alone will make our citizens capable of doing so. The scheme which I outlined on a previous occasion is this : The Act passed to bring about the proposed change should apply only to those who, at the time of its passing, are under the age of twenty-one years. Every youth on reaching the age of eighteen years should, if physically fit, be liable to undergo within the year forty days continuous training, and twenty-one detached drills, to perfect him in rifle shooting, discipline, and drill. This training should continue, with such modifications as particular cases might call for, until he reached the age of twenty-one years. Once a man is fit for service, it will be unnecessary to subject him to any red-tape system requiring attendance at drill for long periods, all that would be necessary being to keep him efficient. What is desired is the creation of a body of men sufficiently numerous and expert in the art of warfare to be able to defend their country. Therefore, subsequent training might easily be given without unduly interfering with civil occupations. It would, for instance, be easy to arrange that in those parts of the country where the ordinary avocations of shearing, harvesting, and the like leave slack times during which there is not a great demand upon those who follow them, the training should take place during such intervals of comparative leisure. A man having reached the age of twenty-one years, and having attained efficiency., seven days of continuous training a year would be sufficient to keep him efficient. The time so spent would be an enjoyable holiday, beneficial alike, to the men and to their fellow citizens The system I advocate is neither more nor less than the revival of the ancient and salutary legislation that made the name of England respected throughout the known world ; I ‘ refer to that which compelled English yeomen to submit themselves to military training, and to make themselves efficient in the use of the bow. When this training in marksmanship was compulsory the bowmen of England were able to hold their own against the best armies of the Continent. Unfortunately we have now got into a way which, though easy and pleasant, is,- dangerous. We intrust the defence of our country to a mercenary army and, as a democrat, I fear that this will prove the beginning of the end unless we recognise our national and political danger and prepare to undertake the duty of fitting ourselves for the defence of the country. This service is essential to the maintenance of our free institutions, and indeed, to our national ‘existence. In this morning’s newspaper it is reported that a petition, signed by a number of excellent Melbourne gentlemen, has been presented to the Hague Convention. They eulogize the efforts of the Convention to promote universal peace. That the world should lay down its arms is a consummation, to be devoutly wished. Singularly enough, many of those who signed the petition, and are desirous that, in the interests of international peace, international quarrels should be submitted to a tribunal of arbitration, bitterly opposed the erection of Arbitration - Courts to settle industrial disputes in their own land. We shall be very old men if we live to see the day when the world will lay down its arms. A great deal has been spoken lately about’ the rights of private property in war time. An endeavour is being made to introduce into warfare the amenities which are proper in times of peace. But war is a brutal and bloody game, which cannot be conducted on art afternoon-tea-party basis. Because it is so serious, we should be prepared for it. A declaration of war should affect every member of the community ; it should not concern only the paid soldiery, who, between periods of national tribulation, are despised and scorned. War is a business which should be brought home to every member of the community. Jingoism will die a natural death under the system I advocate. Those who pursue peaceful arts suffer loss in war time; but soldiers hope to gain promotion through active service. Now, our citizens throw up their hats and cheer when war is announced, because they hope it will not affect them ultimately, while the accounts of victories and defeats make the reading of their daily newspaper more interesting. If they themselves had to go and fight, their sensations would be different. Those who will not defend their country should have no voice in its government. They should not be regarded as citizens, they should not even be denizens, or, at most, only pariahs and outcasts. In olden days, every citizen of Rome was willing and anxious to defend his country. So it is’ in Switzerland to-day. We, too, in spirit are ready to do this ; but we are not prepared to undergo the training necessary to make us capable of doing it. Strangely enough, those who cry for peace are generally most pugnacious in disposition. They will have peace even if they have to kill off half the population of the world to get it. They speak of the brotherhood of man as a reason why, as a nation, we should not take precautions against injuries which are regarded as necessary in connection with our private affairs. If a man breaks into my house, I have him arrested, or, if he is a small man, look after him myself. It matters not to me whether he is an Englishman, an Irishman, or an Australian, a brother or a foreigner. If he’ tries to rob me, I protect myself against him. Similarly, those who are always crying “ peace, peace,” call the police to their aid if assaulted. It is useless to cry “peace” when there is no peace. We should be prepared for the serious contingency of warfare, which will inevitably overtake us sooner or later. Our population is less than 5,000,000, and we propose to maintain the policy of excluding coloured persons from the country, although Australia is within a few days’ steaming distance of countries inhabited by nearly 1,000,000,000 of coloured people. We can maintain this policy only by preparing to defend ourselves by an armed force. There are one or two other points upon which I wish to touch briefly. The system I advocate will not, I think, involve very great expenditure, though it will cost more than our present system of defence. But whatever it costs, it must be adopted, or some equally effective alternative chosen. To go on as we are going will be impossible once our citizens become alive to their interests and the dangers which confront us. It is merely my business to bring forward this scheme, and to ask the Minister of Defence to make the necessary inquiries in respect to its details. I have pointed out the dangers which we have to fear, and I believe that there is no effective alternative to my proposal. There is in Switzerland, and we have here, a cadet force which can be made a stepping-stone to adult training. The preparatory training of school boys between the ages of ten and fifteen will do much to fit them for the further training which they should be required to undergo at the age of eighteen. During that interval something might be done with a quasi-compulsory system - I mean a system under which some reward or some encouragement should be given to those who did submit themselves to it - inducing them to continue to do so. Then when a lad reached the period at which he would be liable for training, instead of having to serve forty days for three years, he would probably become so proficient during the first year that he would not be required to give up more than one quarter of the prescribed time in any subsequent year. The effect, too, of this training upon the physical health of the nation can hardly be exaggerated. Both here and in Great Britain - perhaps in Great Britain- particularly - there is a very great and obvious degeneration in the physique of the people. Perhaps it is due to the chaotic industrial system which prevails in both countries. But I am very sure that the physical training which men would get under the system which I have outlined would be’ immensely beneficial to them - that it would re-act upon the moral and mental sides of their nature, that it would make them better men, more effective citizens, more capable industrial units, better able to compete with foreign nations, and more alive to the duties of citizenship in which perhaps more than any other people, they fall short of perfection. I have heard a good deal of criticism in regard to the number of persons who record their votes at our elections. Their apathy in this respect can only result from a complete inability to appreciate the very great privileges of - citizenship. These privileges are not sufficiently valued because they cost nothing. The duties of citizenship are entirely disregarded because of that fact. Every privilege ought to carry with it a correlative duty. The system which I have advocated would have a marked effect upon the morale, the physique, and the tone of the nation, and, I am satisfied, would do a great deal for us nationally and industrially.
.-! am quite sure that honorable members will desire an opportunity to peruse in Hansard the remarks of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney, and therefore I move -
That the debate be now adjourned.
Motion agreed to; debate adjourned.
– I have to inform honorable members that, in accordance with the arrangement announced last evening, I presented the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General, who was pleased to express his thanks.
In Committee. (Consideration resumed from 31st July, vide page 1230).
First schedule (vide page 1062).
Fish - preserved in tins or casks, 5 years, ½d. per lb.,£10,000.
.- Do I understand that the Government seriously intend to persevere with this item?
– Why not?
– I should like to ask the honorable member what fish it is intended to preserve?
– There is an unlimited quantity of fish in Queensland which can be preserved.
– It seems to me that there is no possibility of the proposed bounty of £50,000 conferring any benefit upon the Commonwealth. In the first place, we must catch the fish before we can tin them.
– What about the Government trawler ?
– The trawler has not yet been built.
– The Government have not even accepted tenders for its construction.
– Exactly. We do not even know whether in the building of the vessel union rates are to be paid. I believe that there has been some dispute upon that point.
– The honorable member would believe anything against the unions.
– Not at all. I believe in many of the objects of unionism, but I do not think that preference should be grantedto unionists. The tinning of fish, I would point out, has been tried in different parts of Australia for many years, and the consensus of opinion, on the part of those who have engaged in the trade, is that it is absolutely valueless unless they tin a spurious article. If honorable members will refer to the debate which took place upon the Bounties Bill during the last Parliament, they will find that when the Minister of Trade and Customs was asked what fish he thought would be tinned under the Government proposal, he replied that in New South Wales fish which were not sardines were being tinned as such. These fish, he said, were being palmed off upon the people of the Commonwealth as the true sardine. That was the only instance in which he thought the bounty would prove a success. I believe that the fish to which he referred were pilchards.
– What is the difference between the fish which were being tinned in New South Wales and sardines?
– I leave that to the honorable member to decide. The fact remains that we have no sardines in Australia. I wish that we had fish suitable for tinning purposes, but we cannot get away from the position as it exists.
– Will the honorable member give us the benefit of his professional knowledge by informing us what is the difference between pilchards and sardines?
– It is not the function of a medical man to decide the difference between pilchards and sardines. He has more important matters to attend to.
– Are not pilchards as good as sardines?
– That is a question of dietetics. I cannot answer it at the present moment. But if pilchards are as good as sardines, why not tin them under their proper name? Why not call them “tinned pilchards “ instead of attempting to impose upon the public by inducing them to believe that they are eating the true sardine when they are really eating pilchards which have been preserved probably in cottonseed oil?
– May not the same statement be true in respect of imported fish?
– That may be so; but I have always shown myself desirous of punishing persons who attempt to gull the people in the matter of their food supplies. One of the most important functions of government is to insure that the food supplies of the people - particularly of the poorer classes-are pure. I repeat that when this Bill was under consideration in the last Parliament, the only instance which the Minister of Trade and Customs could cite in which the bounty was likely to exercise a beneficial effect was that of tinning pilchards.
– They tin barramundi on Keppel Island.
– I suppose that they tin them in the same way as barracouta were tinned at Portland?
– They are also tinning turtles.
– I suppose that the fish are being tinnedby large companies ?
– No. They are being tinned by small parties of men.
– Those parties I presume are making a commercial success of the industry?
– They are just struggling.
– Some honorable members appear desirous of showing that these small establishments are tinning fish in Queensland to-day. If that be so, they are not doing it from philanthropic motives.
– Does the honorable member do professional work from philanthropic motives ?
– Very often.
– The honorable member is not very philanthropic just now.
– I desire to be just, and to prevent a wasteful expenditure of the taxpayers’ money. I take it that in the few cases in which fish are being tinned in Queensland, the work is in the hands of small companies. The industry is more or less a commercial success. Exactly similar operations are being conducted at Port Fairy and Warrnambool. The honorable member for Wannon will perhaps know that it was the experience of the factory established at Port Fairy that it was useless to undertake the canning of fish unless a better class of fish were forthcoming. At that port and at Warrnambool a large quantity of barracouta were tinned. But it was impossible to induce people to purchase these fish, I believe that the largest portion of the trade done by these factories was with the interior of Queensland and Western Australia.
– What is the use of sending inferior fish to Queensland when we have good fish there?
– If that be so it is a pity that residents of the southern portion of the Continent are not afforded an opportunity of tasting them.
– We merely require the assistance of the honorable member and we will see that the people in the southern parts of the Continent are supplied with them.
– The honorable member wishes to squander the public money until the proposed bounty is exhausted, and then allow the industry to go the wall. Honorable members will recognise that, since we have canning factories in our electorates, it would be to the interest of the honorable member for Wannon and myself to support the granting of this bounty. I am satisfied, however, that although this might temporarily revive the industry, these factories would close down again as soon as the bounty closed. Barracouta, trumpeter, and other fish are to be found along the southern coast, and we have heard to-day that other fish suitable for canning are also plentiful on the Queensland coast. The people, however, prefer the imported tinned fish. Much has been said as to the very large importations of fish, and if honorable members had an opportunity of analyzing these importations, they would discover that they consist largely of fish that are not to be found in Australian waters. For the most part they comprise salmon, herrings, sardines, and bloaters, and, unfortunately, we have in Australian waters nothing to compare with them. It would be better for us to make an effort to stock our waters with fish suitable for canning than to spend money in this way. Mr. Dannevig, the New South Wales fisheries expert, recently stated that Port Phillip, among other Australian bays, was eminently suitable for the establishment of hatcheries, with a view to the stocking of our waters with flounders, turbot, sole and other fish of that description. Such fish, however, are not suitable for canning. Fish of the sardine and salmon type are most largely treated in that way. Having regard to the varieties of fish at present in our waters, there is no justification for this proposal.
– We do not know what fish we have in Australian waters.
– The honorable member knows that from time to time efforts have been made in Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania, and, I believe, to some extent in South Australia, to add to the varieties of fish to be found along our coasts, and that many attempts have been made by deep-sea fishing to discover new varieties. Many years ago a trawler was sent out to Victoria to fish in Bass Strait for new varieties, but the efforts of the crew were unsuccessful. When, as the result of creating hatcheries for stocking Australian waters with fish suitable for canning, we had secured a ‘ good supply of such fish along our coast, we might well be asked to grant bounties for the encouragement of the industry of fish canning, but I do not think the time is yet ripe for this proposal. I therefore move -
That the item be left out.
.- In speaking to the motion for the second reading of this Bill, I pointed out that fish canning had been undertaken in Queensland with a certain degree of success. Canneries have been started along the coast of that State, and have been carried on fox some time, but the great difficulty experienced by those conducting these establishments has been that of securing a market for their product. The trouble has not been due to the inferiority of the fish available for canning purposes, because we have a number of excellent varieties along the coast.
– Mr. Saville Kent has pointed out that we have remarkably good fish along the Queensland coast.
– That is so. As honorable members are aware, many well-known brands of canned fish have been on the market for a number of years, and retailers naturally stock those for which there is the greatest demand. In these circumstances, it is difficult to place a new brand on the market, and many obstacles bestrew the path of men with moderate capital who band themselves together with a view of carrying on this industry. I should like this bounty to be granted with the object of assisting such men to place their products on the market. It would help to tide them over a difficult time. I am satisfied that the proposal is a justifiable one, and, as I said the other day, I think that, from the stand-point of defence alone, we should be quite justified in assisting our fisheries, since we should thus create a valuable recruiting ground for the manning of our future Australian Navy. The fishermen of England were originally the base of Great Britain’s naval strength. I heartily support this item.
.- As I mentioned during the debate on the motion for the second reading of this Bill, the Government of Victoria some years ago expended ^,230,000 by way of bounties for the encouragement of new industries. The fish-canning industry was among the number assisted in that way, but the effort proved unsuccessful, and I think that we should be guided by the experience of this State.
– What sum was appropriated for encouraging the fish-canning industry ?
– Speaking from memory, it was a larger sum than is provided for in this item.
– Was it expended?
– It was. Fish canneries were established in three towns, viz., Warrnambool, Port Fairy, and Portland. They carried on for a short time, but with the cessation of the bounties, closed down. I aim in favour of the prin ciple of granting bounties, but think that the Government, by pressing such items as these, are doing that which is .calculated to prejudice the system). They are making rather too great a demand on their supporters, and those who wish’ to assist them in building up new industries, by making proposals that must necessarily involve a great waste of money. We should not grant bounties to assist industries which we have no reason to believe can be successfully established. I would point out, as one objection to this proposal, that those who can obtain fresh fish are not likely to eat canned fish. When we have supplies for canning, we shall have plenty of fresh fish available in our market. In country districts the canned fish most favoured are salmon, herrings, and sardines, all of which are unknown in Australian waters. Those who have seen the enormous hauls of salmon that are made at Vancouver and canned for export, will know that it is unreasonable to anticipate that we shall be able to catch in ‘Australian waters the quantities of suitable fish necessary to insure success. From time to time, from eighty to one hundred trawlers, laden with tons of herrings, are to be seen entering different English ports. The position is the same on the French coast, where large hauls of sardines are made, and along the coast of Newfoundland, where immense quantities of cod are caught. These are the varieties of canned fish most favoured by the public. They have been tested and have hit the public taste. At Port Fairy, large quantities of barracouta were canned, and were found to be more palatable than when fresh. The public, however, prefer fresh fish, and barracouta is the only variety that we are likely to be able to catch in sufficient quantities for canning for export purposes. Reference is made in the report to catches of flounders and trumpeter. The last-named variety is a rich man’s fish, and flounders may be similarly described. It would be interesting to learn how many flounders would be necessary to fill a can after they had been boned. The proposed bounty, I repeat, would be of no service io the Australian fishing industry. It would not even be sufficient to advertise the industry. Thousands of pounds would have to be expended in advertising a new line in opposition to the well-known brands that have long been on the. Australian market. In these circumstances, therefore, it appears to me that it would be better to strike out this item, and apply to the assistance of the. cotton industry the amount proposed to be set apart under it. It would be preferable to add this sum of .£50,000 to some of the other bounties included in the schedule, rather than to waste it upon an undertaking which every one must admit would be unsuccessful. I am told that in South Australia a factory was established for the canning of mullet and other fish which could be caught in abundance; but that factory did not pay its way, owing to the fact that the public refused to buy the product. Where people can get fresh fish they will not purchase canned fish ; or if thev take the latter they insist on tasty fish such as sardines or salmon, which are better for canning purposes than any fish in Australia. Let us apply this money to developing the fish industry, so that fish may be placed on the market at a reasonable price, because, at the present time, people are complaining very much about the dearness of what ought to be an ordinary article of food. We ought not to bring the system into disrepute by adopting such items as that before us, especially when a bounty on the manufacture of iron is so much required.
– And on ship-building.
– I think that a bounty on ship-building is also a very good idea. If the Japanese can build ships in their country, I do not see why we should not be able to build ships in Australia. Such am industry would give a large amount of employment; and money ought not to be wasted on products which experience has shown cannot be successfully manufactured.
.- I am in favour of bounties on well-selected items likely to result in t:he establishment of industries ; but I do not think that the item now under consideration is likely to have that result. I had an interest’ in a factory at Warrnambool, where rabbits were dealt with on a large scale; and the fishermen, when they had an over supply, used to bring their fish to be preserved. The trouble was, however, that the people would not have the canned, fish, and it had to be sold at most unremunerative prices. Distaste for the Australian canned fish might be got over in time, but we must have regard to the present surroundings of the fishing industry. There are fishermen in considerable numbers catching fish, but not supplying the market, and the prices are much higher than, they ought to be. In my opinion, the money for this item ought to be added to the £8,000 which has been voted for a trawler. I used to see nice paragraphs in the newspapers about this wonderful trawler, and I fancied that it was going to be a substantial addition to the Australian Navy. Nothing, however, appears to be doing in the matter now.
– Oh, yes.
– I am very glad to have the assurance from the PostmasterGeneral that the Commonwealth trawler has not entirely disappeared. Something ought to be done to encourage the important industry of fishing. As the honorable member for Corangamite pointed out, there ought to be hatcheries organized, and efforts’ made to improve the quality of the fish, not only on the coast, but in the inland rivers. As I say, I should be in favour of increasing the vote for the trawler, but I cannot see that the item proposed would result in any permanent benefit to the industry. I am in favour of granting bounties to three or four industries which offer real promise of permanent success. Later on, we shall deal with the item of wool tops, which is connected, of course, with our great industry; and if the money now proposed for the canning industry were added to that for tops, it would, in my opinion, result in immense benefit to Australia. There are fishermen and manufacturers already without a bounty ; and I think the Minister would do well to withdraw the item, and expend the money in a more promising direction.
– My views on this item- have been very fully expressed by honorable members who have preceded me. I indorse the opinion- that if this money is to be expended in connexion with the fishing industry, it should be in establishing hatcheries and extending trawling operations. In America there is a saying in regard to the fruit, “ We eat what we can, and we can what we can’t ;” and it may be that the same will in the future apply to Australia. The information in the report on this item is very meagre, although the experts enlarge on the advantages of encouraging the fishing industry generally. The report speaks of the value of the trawler, and the good work it is going to do, with the possibility that our supplies of fish may be greatly augmented. It is a sound contention that this money would be better expended in developing the fishing industry in some other direction than that of canning; at any rate, there is nothing in the report to justify this item, for if you must first catch your hare before you can cook it, you must also first catch your fish, and the right kind of fish, too, before you can can it.
.- Like other honorable members, I cannot find in the report any satisfying information. For instance, we are told a good deal about the advantages of deep-sea fishing; but all the deep-sea fishing that I know on the coasts of Australia, with the exception of that for mullet, and, sometimes, barracouta, is line-fishing. Surely line-fishing for canning purposes would never pay. The position clearly proves that before we start’ to make arrangements for a canning industry, we ought to be quite sure we have the fish to can. I suggest to the Minister the advisability of granting this bounty, if he must grant it, in an indirect way. Let the Attorney-General, if he so desires, add this money to the £8,000 already provided on the Estimates for trawling operations. By that means, the fishing grounds of Australia could be explored, and honorable members would be provided with sufficient data to enable them to intelligently deal with the subject. We are asked to provide no less than £10,000. a year for a considerable period; and I ask whether we ought to do so without further data than that before us ? I do not think that we can be so false to our trust as to do anything of the kind. ‘Surely it is getting more than a joke when we can pass appropriations of the public funds for hare-brained schemes of this character. My constituency borders the sea, and contains a number of fishermen, who, I feel sure, would be the first to ridicule a proposal to can the fish caught in the seas about Port Jackson - expensive fish caught by deep-line fishing. These fishermen would be the first to realize, the absurdity of any project of the kind, and, as taxpayers, they would resent the encroachment on the public purse. The Attorney-General should have told us why it is necessary to provide so large an amount. This item is the largest in the list ; and, appropriately enough, it is the item about which there is least’ information. Do we always pass these measures by contraries? Are we to pass this large amount simply because it is unexplained ? The Committee must be forgetting its duty to the public of Australia, as the trustees of the public purse, if we pass a large annual payment of this character without further information than that before us.
.- There are two or three points which honorable members have not noted in reference to the industry of canning fish. We were told by the honorable member for Capricornia that this item, if passed, would be of great benefit to fishermen, and would create a class of longshore men on the northern coast of Australia. If that were the result, it would be of great service; but, according, to clause 3, sub-clause 2, it is provided that the manufacturer shall be deemed to. be the producer, and the -bounty shall be paid to the manufacturer only. It will’ be seen, therefore, that this £10,000 for five years’, will not go to the’ fishermen, but to the manufacturers. In the case of the’ Warrnambool factory, the bounty would go to the manufacturer, and so at Port Fairy, while in the case of the Portland factory, the money would go to an. English firm who carry on the business. We know that fishermen all over Australia are, unfortunately, a very poor and’ deserving class; and they should be encouraged in every way. When they docatch any fish, they can always get a market.
– Can they?
– There are exceptional! instances in which the fishermen get large hauls of barracouta, which have to be thrown away ; but if the honorable member for Gippsland had his choice between canned barracouta and canned salmon, which would he take? We do not desire by means of this Bill to give bounties to industries which have proved admitted failures in the paSt. Let us first proceed with our trawling operations, and develop the fish industry, so as to create better classes of fish. When we have done that, and our waters are teeming with fish, as are the waters of other countries, it will be time enough to talk of a bounty for canning. By that time, however, there will be any amount of capital forthcoming: to start the industry.
– I ask the Committee to reject the amendment. With all due respect to the opinions which have been expressed, I say that the fish preserving industry is deserving of all the encouragement that we can give to it. The development of the Australian fisheries is to some extent: a complicated matter, because the States have territorial jurisdiction within their boundaries, while the Commonwealth has jurisdiction in all Australian waters. The matter was discussed at the last Conference of Premiers. We are intrusted with matters appertaining to defence, and, therefore, the Government take the view that we should encourage an occupation which will create a hardy ‘body of men whose services would be of the greatest value in time of national trouble. For defence reasons alone we think it highly desirable to encourage the fishing industry. I believe in the Lytton district, in Queensland, the fishermen have proved themselves splendidly fitted for naval defence, while at Queenscliff, in Victoria, fishermen are enrolled in the Defence Force. Australia will have to look more and more to her coastal defence, and we must do what we can to encourage the creation of a body of fishermen who will best serve us in time of need. In 1906, the Commonwealth imported preserved fish in tins to a value of £310,656.
– What sort of fish?
– Mostly sardines, herrings, and salmon.
– The varieties imported are not mentioned in the official return. The importation from the United Kingdom was valued at £119,000; that from Canada at £38,000; that from Germany at £13,000; that from Portugal at £15,000; and that from the United States of America at £94,280. Those figures show that in Australia there is a large demand for fish, and, as honorable members will recollect, during the drought the possibility of obtaining a cheap fish supply for our poorer classes became a matter of serious moment. The fish supply of South Africa, before a trawler was engaged to explore the adjoining waters, was very limited ; but now large supplies are available. The Commonwealth arrangements for trawling are practically complete. The Government is acting upon the advice of Mr. Dannevig, amongst others. Mr. Dannevig is not only one of the best fish experts in Australia, but has also a European reputation, and I am glad that our consultations in regard to the trawler have given us an opportunity to appreciate his capacity. He informed me, in a conversation which I had with him relative to the preparation of this item, that he believes that the trawler will discover large sources of fish supply, the existence of which has been indicated by the researches which have already been made. The Government desires to encourage the people of the Commonwealth to take advantage of those resources. Ministers hope that the result of the bounty will be that large numbers of men will engage in deep sea fishing, and that considerable employment will be given in connexion with the canning of fish. The President of the New South Wales Fisheries Commission states -
With regard to seine fishery, the sea mullet, the pilchard, the herring, mackerel, and garfish abound in countless millions. The question of the supply of fish available for the industry is not open to dispute.
Mr. Dannevig concurs in that statement. As regards Queensland, Mr. Saville Kent, who is admittedly a man of high attainments, has made this report -
Queensland possesses a fish fauna remarkable both for the abundance of its species and for the structural variety of its constituents. All told, the number of combined marine and fresh-water species authoritatively recorded up to date falls but little short of goo. In other words, it embraces two-thirds of the entire marine and freshwater fish fauna of the Australian Continent. Out of the foregoing total number, over 300 species may be classified as of more or less value for human food. They present almost unlimited possibilities of profitable employment. The waters abound with shoals of fish akin to the European mackerel, herring, anchovy, and pilchard, which up to the present date have been literally allowed to run to waste.
– At the present time many poor people cannot afford to buy fish.
– I do not think that fish can be said to be the food of the poorer classes in Australia.
– That is because of the action of a combine. In Melbourne tons of fresh fish are sometimes destroyed.
Mr.GROOM.- That is an unfortunate occurrence, but we hope, by increasing competition, and opening up new sources of supply, to make fish more generally available to our people. The honorable member for Corangamite doubts whether we possess large supplies of fish, but the statements which I have read should convince him that there are immense stores of useful fish in Australian waters. According to the report -
On the coasts of Tasmania and Victoria, such fish as trumpeter, trevally, barracouta, kingfish, rock cod, flounder, and many others are caught in abundance, and owing to the absence of fish curing establishments, large quantities are at times wasted, or are merely utilized as manure.
There are now known to exist in Tasmanian waters some of the best edible fish that we possess, and possibly the trawler will discover and make available still further supplies. Great efforts are. made . in most countries to encourage the fishing industry, by establishing hatcheries, employing “trawlers, and giving financial assistance. Australia is one of the last countries to take action in this matter.
– What is being done about the trawler?
– Flans have been drawn up, and carefully studied. The Department of Home Affairs is proceeding as rapidly as possible in connexion with the matter.
– Where will it be built?
– I hope that it will be built in Australia.
– There is only one place where it should be built.
– The zeal which the honorable member has shown in his advocacy of protection almost entitles him to claim that it should be built in the electorate of Dalley. In the United Kingdom, 106,000 persons are engaged in the fishing industry; in France, 147,000; in Italy, 100,000; in Norway, 120,000; in the United States, 210,000; and in Japan, 2,500,000. Japan has become one of the naval powers of the world.
– Has the Minister ever seen fish tinned in Japan?
– I have not had the pleasure of visiting Japan. Strong efforts are being made in all countries to encourage the fishing industry, and it behoves us in Australia to .take similar action. We should do all we can to stimulate an industry which .will breed up a race of men who will be at the service of the country in the’ hour of national per-il, and one which must prove of great commercial value.
.- I have already spoken of the Minister as a special pleader, and in listening to his various speeches, I have found that he invariably describes the proposals in the schedule as essential to the development of the most useful industry we could establish. That impresses one as a very fine phrase when it is heard for the first time. But the Attorney-General has used it in connexion with every item with which we have dealt - and there are eighteen of them. He further stated that’ the effect of the bounty would be the production of a number of hardy men who would man our navy in the hour of danger. So that’ it now. appears that the naval policy of the Government is represented by a proposal to grant a bounty upon tinned fish.. According to theAttorneyGeneral that is the only way in which we can secure a trustworthy naval) “force in time of national emergency. May I point out to him that this bounty is intended to develop the canning industry, and* in that business the soldering iron is theonly implement handled by the employes. These individuals, I presume, by constant use of the soldering iron, are to be transformed into the brave jack-tars of the Austalian Navy. The Attorney-General went further, and touched upon the commercial’ aspect of this proposal. Apparently he thought that if he could show that millions of pounds could be made out of the canned* fish industry I would support this proposal. But I would remind him that the fishmongers of the old world are one of the wealthiest corporations in Great Britain, and if the prospects of the industry had; been in any way alluring they would have embarked upon it long ago. The honorable member for Fawkner has been looking after well-earned interest in the fishing industry, but, so far, has failed to find it. The Attorney-Genera! went a little further, and quoted the views of certain experts upon piscatorial matters, including those of Mr. Farnell, the Chairman of the Fisheries Commission of NewSouth Wales. That gentleman is an enthusiastic fisherman. While serving in the New South Wales Parliament some years ago, he visited Great Britain for the express purpose of floating a company to exploit Australian waters for the canning of fish. He endeavoured to induce the fishmongers of Great Britain to invest their money here, but without success. Then at his own expense he conducted trawling experiments outside Sydney Heads, and for a couple of hundred miles upon either side of it, but the results were .very unsatisfactory. TheGovernment have not yet even called for tenders for the construction of the proposed’ trawler for the Commonwealth service.
– It might be built at Mort’s Dock.
– The place where thetrawler is constructed does not interest me. I am not an advocate of the claims of Mort’s Dock. That particular firm does not require any State assistance. I know that it charges very high rates for any work that it undertakes. That statement, I hope, wilt dispose of the suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Parkes. The- firm to which he has referred fights me upon every possible occasion, and I right it. As the honorable member for Corangamite has already pointed out, the proposed bounty would not find its way into the pockets ot the sturdy fishermen, and I am not disposed to sanction this expenditure simply upon the statement of the Attorney-General. If he really desires to build up a class of sturdy sons of the sea, the way to do it is not bv voting £10,000 to operatives who fly round the edges of a tin can with a soldering iron. It cannot be contended that Australia to-day possesses any fish fit for canning. The masses, indeed, cannot secure even fresh fish at reasonable prices, owing to the action of the fish combine. That combine is intent upon maintaining prohibitive prices, and would rather allow tons of fish to be wasted than permit the masses of the people to be supplied with a cheap article. In my opinion, the Government would be better engaged in framing a Bill to break down combines of that character, so inimical to the interests of the people.
– There are plenty of places in Australia where the people cannot obtain fresh fish.
– I admit that. The AttorneyGeneral has stated that ,£300,000 worth of fish are annually imported into the Commonwealth, of which ,£120,000 worth come from Great Britain. For the sake of securing the bounty under consideration, he practically asks honorable mem.mers to stop the importation of that £120,000 worth of fish of British origin. Yet we shall probably hear him in the not distant future dilating upon the desirableness of cementing the ties which bind us to the mother land, and declaiming in favour of preferential trade. I maintain that if there had been any prospect of the tinned-fish industry proving a success in Australia, private enterprise would have embarked upon it long ago. I admit that I have not read the report of the experts who inquired into this matter, and I do not propose to do so. The honorable member for Gippsland told us, in a very loud tone of voice, that that document was full of information. He specially referred to a Mr. Jackson, who he said was an expert from New South Wales. I will undertake to say that not a single representative from that State has ever heard Mr. Jackson’s name before. When I made inquiries as to who he was, the only information which I could obtain was that he was probably the son of Mr.s. Jackson. I repeat that the class of fish to be found along the Australian coast is not suitable for canning. I ask you, sir, if your gastronomic taste could ever be tempted by tinned schnapper? You, Mr. Chairman, have the welfare of your constituents at heart, and must recognise that many of them, living as they do, in the interior, would forget the taste of fish but for the supplies of tinned fish that are available. For the most part, the people living inland, and unable to obtain fresh fish, prefer tinned herrings, salmon, and sardines, to Australian varieties. But, as a matter of fact, the genuine sardine is rarely seen here. It never goes beyond the rich man’s table, and usually occupies a prominent place on the supper tables of the gilded youths who frequent Piccadilly. The so-called sardines that are sold largely in Australia may be identical with our mullet or with the sprats caught off the coast of Norway, but whether they come from Norway or France they are certainly . not sardines. I wish to treat the arguments of the Attorney-General with all deference, but must say at once that they are not sufficient to induce me to vote for this item.
– I have been listening to some of the fishy arguments of my honorable friend, who has just resumed his seat, and am bound to say that I agree with them.
– With those relating to the Balmain works ?
– I agree with all his arguments It seems to me that he has put forward a contention which ought to be answered by the Government before this item is agreed to. The report of the Conference upon the fish-canning industry seems to follow the usual course. The less that can be said in favour of a bounty the more cordially is the granting of a substantial bounty recommended. That seems to be the rule which the experts have adopted. What do they tell us in this case ? They simply say that there is a difficulty in catching fish along the Australian’ coast, and in placing them before the. people in a cheap and popular way. Is this bounty likely to assist to facilitate the placing of fresh fish on the tables of the people? Will it help them to obtain supplies of fresh fish more freely than they can at present? The way in which the people are at present supplied with fish is not a great credit to the Commonwealth. If the Attorney-General could show that, as the result of this bounty, a means of increasing the facilities for the supply of fresh fish to the people would be devised, I, for one, would vote for it without the slightest compunction. But this proposal will not do anything in that direction. Some bounties for the disposal of our surplus fruits, the manufacture of our cotton, and the distribution, upon a profitable basis, of other products of that kind, have been provided. There is some reason for the application of a bounty to such purposes in a Bounties Bill, but although we are told by the experts that there is a dearth of fish to meet the necessities of our own people, we have before us a proposal to grant a bounty on fish, canned, and preserved, so that they may be sent to other countries. This is not the way in which to expend a large sum of money. Then why has the canning of fish been singled out for so large a bounty ? I think that the appropriation to be made in connexion with this item is the largest provided for in the schedule. We are asked to devote £50,000 to the payment of bounties to encourage the canning of fish, and yet1 the great trouble in Australia is that we cannot obtain the necessary supplies for canning purposes. We have already voted a sum of £8,000 for the purchase of a deep-sea trawler. That expenditure was agreed to nearly twelve months ago, and the proposal is a very proper one. I should like to know, however, what has. been done in connexion with the experiment. It seems to me that we are as near to the obtaining of a trawler as we were when we agreed to the vote. Had there been the slightest disposition to embark upon this profitable field of enterprise, the trawler would have been in operation before to-day, and a goodly portion of our coast-line would already have been explored. Having regard to our engineering works, it should not be difficult to secure a trawler worth £8,000. The Minister and others are constantly telling us of the dearth of employment in the engineering trade, and yet notwithstanding all the facilities for ship-building in Australia, no attempt appears to have been made to proceed with the construction of a trawler, authorized practically twelve months ago. This indicates a want of enterprise on the part of the Government in respect of an industry which they profess so strong a desire to encourage. There is a great deal in the report of the experts as to the value of fresh fish as a food, and as to its commercial value in various countries, but there is only an incidental refer- ence to the canning industry. Any one reading the report would come to the conclusion that the problem that confronts usin this connexion relates, not to the preservation of surplus fish supplies, but to theobtaining of the fresh fish necessary as a food for the people of Australia. We need! to take action very speedily in this direction. In some of the suburbs of Sydney, planted directly on the sea-shore, fish today are as dear as they are 100 miles from where they are caught. There is something wrong about such a condition of affairs. Those who know anything of the suburbs of Sydney will confirm my statement in this regard. I believe that fresh fish are not cheap to-day in any part of Australia, and the fishermen are not toowell paid. If fish is to be pressed intothe service of the people as an article of” diet in the way that it is used in other countries, the processes of distributing itwill have to be cheapened very materially.. To vote £50,000 for the canning and preserving of fish in these circumstances would be to agree to an absolute waste of public money. It would be an expenditure justifiable from no point of view. I cannot imagine what has prompted the Government to rush to the assistance of this industry in the way proposed. In my judgment, we can never succeed unless we start at the beginning, and, instead of proposing a bounty in connexion with the treatment of the surplus of an industry, endeavour to stimulate the fisheries themselves.. Our first requirement is a supply of freshfish. We may very well leave the canning and tinning of fish until we have an abundance of surplus to treat in that way. ‘ This shows what1 an ill-digested mass of proposals we have before us. I hope that the item will be struck out, and that the Committee will agree in this way to save an expenditure of £50,000 of the money of the people. If the Government mean to spend this money in an effort to make fish more available to the people, surely they can devise a simple scheme to stimulate the distribution of the fish. We are told in the report that in Canada there are 73,000 personsengaged in fisheries. We cannot hope to succeed to the same extent, since we have not at hand such markets as they have. Thefishermen of Canada have the great British market as well as those of the United. States and the Continent of Europe to exploit. We can never hope to compete withthem so far as fresh, or even canned, fish are concerned. That being so, the figures in the report are misleading, in so far as they are made to apply to Australia. I repeat that the great problem before us is how to secure a sufficient quantity of fresh fish at a reasonable rate for the tables of the people. Fish to-day for the working man of Australia is a luxury. The passing of this item, instead of overcoming the dif- ficulty, would involve an absolute waste of money.
.- I am deeply concerned about the attitude of the Opposition. Our honorable friends opposite are so adept at opposing each and every proposition submitted by the Government, that when their turn comes to occupy the Treasury benches, I should not be surprised to find them opposing some of their own measures. The Government find it impossible to obtain from them any support for a proposal to establish a new industry. On the one hand, they will tell us that an item in the schedule relates to an industry that has never been tested, and that we have ho evidence that it will be successful, whilst on the other, if aproposed bounty is designed to assist a. struggling industry, we are assured by them that the industry is in reality well established and needs no bounty to assist it. If an industry has declined in the absence; of any support or encouragement, it is said to have proved itself unworthy of assistance. But honorable members seem to forget that the underlying idea of a bounty or bonus is the encouragement of an industry which is languishing under the present system of competition in the commercial world. We know, of course, that the ordinary housewife, when she purchases tinned fish, has to decide on salmon, sardines, or herrings. But that is because Australian tinned fish has not been placed on the market in sufficient quantities, and for a sufficient length of time, to allow a taste for it to be cultivated. In the case of whisky, or any other article of commerce, when it is placed on the market for the first time, it has to be continuously advertised and kept before the public if a demand is to be created. Of course, we know that this canning industry has been tried and failed ; but that was really through the want of a bounty to tide it over the initial difficulties. I do not profess to be a man off any great business ability, although if I were to enter into any new enterprise tomorrow I should not expect it to prove a success for one year, or possibly, three years ; but if my capital were sufficient, I could hold out, and perhaps ultimately create a fair business concern. Of course, in such a case I should get no Government assistance; but fish is a very necessary article of food, and if its preservation could be made an Australian industry, it would be of great benefit to the Commonwealth as a whole. In Victoria there are times when, unfortunately, the fish market is glutted and catches have to be destroyed. If there were ‘ canning facilities in the seaport towns a fresh outlet would be open to the fisherman, and the salesmen, who at present are spoiling the industry, would feel the salutary effects of competition. There is hardly a successful industry in Australia to-day, including the great mining industry, that has not, at some time or other, received State assistance. In view of the fact that the consumption of fish is large, and that the creation of a taste for Australian fish is possible, I shall support the item:
.- Will the Attorney-General consent to smoked fish being included in the item ?
– The honorable member for Gwydir made a similar suggestion, but I am not able to agree to it.
– Then I shall have to ask the Committee to see if they cannot induce the Government to give way. My desire is that the amendment before the Committee should be withdrawn, in order that I may move that after the word “ preserved “ the words “in tins or casks” be omitted, so as to allow the item to embrace smoked, dried and other preserved fish. The report of the Conference of Experts largely supports the view I take of this item. Who are the experts who recommend us to give this large bounty on the tinning of fish? I do not know Mr. H. V. Jackson, and, I suppose that Dr. Holtze is the botanical expert at the Adelaide Gardens. Then we have Dr. Cherry, who is a lecturer on butter for the Agricultural Department of Victoria. I do not know what Dr. Cherry’s knowledge is of fish, or how he comes to be able to recommend this large expenditure in connexion with it. According to the report, the experts suggest the tinning of fish which cannot be tinned. The experts tell us that on the coasts of Tasmania and Victoria trumpeter, trevally, barracouta, and rock cod can be found. Now, rock cod cannot be caught in nets, but must be caught by line, and the catches, therefore, are so small as to be useless for canning purposes. The report goes on to say that these fish are caught in abundance, and that owing to the absence of canning establishments, large quantities are wasted. It is because of the presence of enormous1 quantities of barracouta on our coasts that I shall ask the Committee to accept the amendment I have, foreshadowed. Occasionally there is a large glut on the Victorian market, and at Queenscliff, Geelong, and Port Fairy thousands of barracouta have to be thrown into the sea simply because it does not pay to send them to Melbourne. Fishermen have from time to time endeavoured to carry on smoking operations, and they would meet with much success if it were - not that they cannot afford the initial capital. I hope that the Attorney-General will not tell me that my amendment would only lead to the creation of numerous small industries, because one of my main reasons for submitting it is that it will encourage the establishment of a large number, of small co-operative smoked-fish factories in the smaller fishing towns. If that be not the result of this bounty, then -the money will simply go into the pockets of one large’ manufacturing firm, and the fishermen will reap no benefit. It is small industries that have made Switzerland the prosperous country it is to-day. There, in addition to the daily labour of. the head of the household, in every home there is carried on a small industry. We do not desire to have all the manufacturing and industrial pro-‘ cesses centralized in the capital cities of the States, but rather that they should be spread over the Commonwealth, and thus add to the prosperity of the seaside towns. The Attorney-General was gratified to think that cotton could be grown by small farmers ; and he will make a great mistake if he does not accept this chance to develop small co-operative smoked-fish factories.
.- One honorable member has placed himself in a ridiculous position in the course of the discussion. The honorable member for Dalley spoke at some length, and with some force, as an- opponent of the bounty on fish, but I find that at an earlier stage he said -
There ure one or two industries in Australia, such as the fisheries industry, the establishment of which those who believe in the bounty system might advocate with some degree of reason.
Of course, we expect the Opposition to haggle over proposals made from this side, but when, after considerable waste of time, thev press questions to a division, they are found to have only six or seven votesThe honorable member also spoke of the application of the bounty system to, amongst other industries -
Deep-sea fisheries, in connexion with which it might meet with some success.
Later on, in forecasting the position which. he might take up, he said -
A political Ishmaelite is one who fights for his own hand, and if I find honorable membersadvocating the claims of producers in their electorates, it may be taken for granted that themember for Dalley, who does not, as the members of the Labour Party insinuated, fight in hisown personal . interests, will, on every occasion, see that the industries in which his constituentsare engaged are not neglected. That, of course,, is a most miserable position to have to take up, but I find honorable member after honorable member on both sides of the House showing, by, their speeches that, when any proposed legislation suits their own constituent’s, they say goodbye to principles, and I should be a traitor tomy trust if I did not look after the interests of those who sent me here.
The honorable member has a large number of constituents who are interested in fishing, yet now opposes the proposed encouragement to the industry. I rose merely to point out that the time of the Committee is being wasted by unnecessary arguments, and to draw attention to the ridiculous and inconsistent position in which many of the members of the Opposition have placed themselves.
.- The remarks which we have just heard from the honorable member for Cook are unbecoming to one who addresses the Committee with a smile of self-satisfaction and amusement. We realize that he did not mean what he said; but, unfortunately, the smug smile which indicated his inborn sense of humour cannot be transcribed in the pages of Hansard; and lest his words may create misapprehension in the minds of those who read his speech, I have risen to say’ that, in resisting encroachments upon the public revenue, the members of the Opposition are actuated only by the highest motives. It is with these that we are prepared to credit the honorable member and our opponents.
.- Last year Parliament voted the sum of £8,000 for the purchase and equipment of a trawler to open up our fishing grounds. It is believed that the waters of Australia contain vast stores of very valuable food supplies ; but the proposal to vote £10 000 a vear, for a period of five years, for the encouragement of the canning of fish, seems to me to be premature.
The granting of a bounty to this industry should be deferred until trawling operations have made it certain that our waters possess fish suitable for canning, and in quantities sufficient to justify the proposed expenditure.
.- I understand that the smoking of fish is an industry now in existence, and that many hawkers smoke the fish which they are unable to sell during their daily rounds, and cannot keep until the next day, as well as such fish as they may buy very cheaply when the market is glutted. I believe, too, that many fish are destroyed in the places where they are caught, not being sent to town. To my mind, the possibilities of the fish-canning industry are better than those of the fish-smoking industry ; but it remains to be discovered whether we have fish as suitable for canning as those which are imported from other countries. I hope that the Minister will give us information on the subject generally, so that we may know how to deal with the suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Corio.
– As I explained at an earlier stage, the advisability of offering a bounty for the production of smoked fish was carefully considered, but it was found that there were many practical difficulties in regulating the industry, because there are so many small men engaged in it in all parts of Australia.
– Are not bounties intended to assist the small men?
– Yes. But the honorable member knows What an immense coastline Australia has. On all parts of the coast, men are engaged in smoking fish, and if a bounty were offered for the production of smoked fish, it might be necessary in their interests to appoint excise officers at all these places. However, there is a constitutional objection to the amendment suggested by the honorable and learned member for Corio, in that it would extend the area over which the bounty would be payable. I should like, if possible, to meet him, because I am in full sympathy with him ; but I am afraid there is no practical way of doing what he wishes to be done, and therefore I must oppose his amendment, if he moves it.
– One of my objections to the proposals of the Bill is that the money which we are voting will not be paid to the actual grow ers and producers, and I have no desire to assist the middlemen. Probably no producer makes less profit from his labours than does the fisherman, the retail price of fish being very much greater than that paid to him. In Tasmania the operation of fish-smoking is a very important part of the fisherman’s industry, as he can by snicking, his fish often turn to profitable account a surplus catch which would otherwise be unsaleable. Any bounty that is offered should go to the men who spend days and nights at sea endeavouring to catch fish; not to those who make their profit by selling it. No doubt there will be an immense amount of administrative work in connexion with the payment of these bounties, but no class is so deserving of sympathy as are the fisherfolk.
– The encouragement of the canning industry will not assist them.
– I do not think that it will assist them to any great extent; though it would be of advantage to them to encourage the smoking of fish. Honorable members know my opinion in regard to bounties. But if we are going to pay bounties, we should pay them to the actual producers.
– Are there any fishermen in the honorable member’s electorate ?
– I do not think that there are in my electorate half-a-dozen persons whose business it is to catch - fish for the market. Surely my honorable friend is not of the opinion that the members of this Parliament are actuated only by the desire to placate those who have votes ?
– I think that some honorable members are. Some of the honorable member’s colleagues have said that they will support proposals because they are in the interests of their own constituent?.
– The honorable member seems as capable as any member of the Committee of fishing for votes. The amendment suggested by the honorable and learned member for Corio is worthy of attention. I shall support it, leaving it to the ingenuity of the Attorney-General to discover a way out of the difficulties to which he referred.
.- I shall vote against the item, even if the amendment suggested by the honorable and learned member for Corio is carried ; but I do not wish to deprive him of the opportunity to move an amendment applying the bounty to the production of smoked as well as of tinned fish. Therefore, my best course is to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
.- I move -
That the words “in tins or casks” be left out.
The effect of my amendment will be, to give to the word “ preserved “ a more extended meaning. If any proposal be adopted, that word will cover smoked or dried fish, or fish preserved in tins or casks. I am assured by those who have had experience in the beche-de-mer industry that if a bounty were offered for drying that article, the Japanese would be driven out of a very profitable industry by white labour, and the Commonwealth would be largely benefited. That, I suggest, is one way in which we might play up to our White Australia ideal. I understand that the AttorneyGeneral has stated that my proposal would lead to a lot of small men engaging in the preserved fish industry.
– I said that it would be very difficult to regulate and control the operations of those men.
– I am very glad to think that my amendment would have the effect of inducing a number of small men to embark upon the enterprise. I believe that under its operation co-operative factories would be established in different parts of Australia for the purpose of smoking and preserving fish. If this bounty is to be granted, we should, at least, endeavour to insure that it shall benefit those who undertake the dangerous work of fishing upon the sea and not the individuals who exploit them. We should not permit it to be disbursed in such a way as will enable the latter to pay the fishermen practically any price they choose to fix. If the amendment has the effect of establishing co-operative factories amongst small men a very good result will have been achieved.
– I hope that the honorable and learned member will not press his amendment, the real effect of which would be to increase the expenditure under this item.
– That is too thin.
– It would be almost impossible to give practical effect to his proposal. How can we undertake to pay the proposed bounty to every individual who may preserve or dry fish in Australia?
– The honorable and learned gentleman might meet the difficulty by applying the provisions contained in paragraph b, of clause 9.
– If we are to pay the bounty, it is idle to suggest that we should prevent those whom we wish to benefit from participating in it.
– The co-operative system would come into operation at once.
– As a matter of fact, a large quantity of fish is smoked in Australia at the present time. New Zealand cod is being imported and smoked in Australian factories.
– Bounty would not be payable in respect of that.
– A large quantity of Australian fish is being smoked and dried in all parts of the Continent.
– In Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne. The smoking and drying of fish is being carried on at the present time, and the local demand is being fairly well supplied. Under the proposal of the honorable and learned member, we should practically require an Excise officer in every little place along the coast of Australia, and the cost of administration would be excessive. I sympathize with the object which the honorable and learned member has in view, but I would point out to him that the adoption of his amendment would mean increasing the expenditure under this item.
– The expenditure cannot exceed £10,000 a year.
– We have power by regulation to vary the amount.
– Then why fix a maximum ?
– The maximum amounts for one year have alone been prescribed. Those amounts may be increased by regulations, which must, however, be laid upon the table of the House.
– If the Minister has the power of allocating this money, how can he increase the expenditure beyond the maximum ?
– We have power by regulation to vary the maximum, either by increasing or decreasing it.
– Then what is the object of having a maximum?
– It is necessary to have a working basis. The honorable and learned member is touching upon another principle.
– It is a very important one.
– And it is one which this Committee has affirmed. I ask the honorable and learned member for Corio not to press his amendment, the adoption of which would give rise to all sorts of difficulties.
– I made an earnest effort to appreciate the point raised by the Attorney-General, but I confess that I cannot see how the omission of the words “ in tins or casks” will have the effect of increasing the amount of the appropriation.
– I said that the amendment would have the effect of increasing the amount expended under the item.
– I cannot see how that would be so. In the form in which the item stands at present, the bounty will find its way into the pockets of those persons who are engaged in a large way in the industry of preserving fish. I should like to see the cases mentioned by the honorable and learned member for Corio and the honorable member for Wannon met. To my mind, the difficulties outlined by the Attorney-General might be overcome by stipulating that the bounty shall not be payable unless the fish are presented in certain quantities for the purposes of examination and checking. I admit that it would be quite impossible for the Government to initiate a system of paying bounties to every fisherman along the coast of Australia. But the fishermen engaged in particular centres might easily form a cooperative association, and agree to smoke their surplus fish.
– All that the amendment asks is that they shall not be excluded from participating in the bounty.
– Exactly. It stipulates that it shall not be necessary for the fishermen to put their fish into tins or casks before they are able to claim the bounty. Personally, I cannot see any insuperable objection to the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Corio.
– How should we be able to ascertain the quantity of fish upon which the bounty was claimed ?
– Probably the Acting Prime Minister was absent from the Chamber when I stated that I thought the difficulty might be overcome by allowing fishermen in certain centres to unite for the purpose of smoking their surplus fish.
– Would they bring their fish to a particular place, where an officer might see it ?
– They should be required to do so. We ought to stipulate that in certain centres there shall beunited action on the part of those who are engaged in the industry-
– That there shall be a preference given to unionists ?
– It is a preference to common sense.
– There is no insuperable difficulty in the way of the adoption of this proposal, and I hope that the AttorneyGeneral will not allowany imaginary constitutional or administrative obstacle to prevent his agreeing to a proposition that would put beyond doubt the possibility of this bounty being shared By all who are entitled to participate in it. I trust, there fore, that he will accept the amendment.
.- I am opposed to the item as it stands, and wish to define the attitude that I take up in regard to the amendment. If the item is to be carried, I think that the proposal made by the honorableand learned member for Corio is one that deserves consideration. The proper distribution of these bounties will necessarily involve the creation of a lot of administrative machinery. Regulations will be necessary to safeguard the system, and I think this is shown by the fact that it has been suggested that the fish hawker who returns home with his barrow at the close of the day and proceeds to cure, by smoking, the fresh fish that he has been unable to sell, should be entitled to claim bounty in respect of the fish so treated. I do not think that a case has been made out for the passing of this item. It certainly would not lead to the establishment of the industry upon anything like a satis-‘ factory basis. A much larger sum would be necessary. The total of £50,000 which it is proposed to expend in connexion with this item would be sufficient only to assist those engaging in the industry along the Victorian coast. It certainly would not be anything like enough to establish the industry on a sound basis in every State. Some time ago I was approached by. persons who desired me to take part in a scheme to assist the fishing industry in the southern parts of Tasmania, where large hauls of fish are sometimes made. It was demonstrated, however, that it would be impossible to make a financial success of the undertaking without large expenditure. This bounty would not be sufficient to give adequate assistance to the industry in Tasmania, to say nothing of the fisheries in the other States. I am prepared to support the proposal made bv the honorable and learned member for Corio, because if we -are to pass the item, I do not see why the bounty should not apply to the preservation of fish in the manner indicated by him. But if a division is taken on the whole item, I shall certainly vote against it.
– Although I have not been in attendance throughout this debate, I have heard sufficient to enable me to form one or two opinions which I think are worthy of expression. It has been contended that if the words “ in tins, or casks ‘ ‘ were omitted from the item, a great many men having surplus supplies of fish would be able to claim the bounty. I would point out, however, that apart from the mysterious regulations which are spoken of in such cryptic phraseology, it would be just as easy for a man to secure the bounty under the item as it stands as it would be if those words were struck out. All that a man desirous of claiming the bounty would have to do would be to fill casks with, say, barracouta, and, producing them to the officer administering the Act, say to him, “ Here are preserved fish in casks, and I claim bounty upon them.” It would be unnecessary for him to close the cask or even tin the fish he had preserved, and therefore the omission of these words would not make the provision any wider. I wish lo draw attention to the extraordinary form in which this Bill is framed. As it stands, the Bill will enable the Government to scramble half a million of money in any way they please. The Committee may be misled by the heading to the fourth column of this schedule, which reads, “ Maximum amounts which may be paid in any one year. ‘ ‘ When we turn to the body of the Bill, however, we find that it gives the Minister unlimited and unconditional power to make regulations to so increase or reduce the amounts appearing in that column ; that he could, if he chose, devote the total appropriation of £530,000 to any one of these items, and neglect the rest. There is no escape from that conclusion. If the Minister thinks that there is, I should like him to point it out to the Committee. One would naturally conclude, from the heading to the fourth column of the schedule, that £10,000 is the maximum amount which may be paid in any one year in respect of a bounty on preserved fish; but when we turn to clause 9, paragraph a, we find that it provides that -
The Governor-General may make regulations, not inconsistent wilh this Act, prescribing all matters which by this Act are required or permitted to be prescribed or are necessary or convenient to be prescribed for giving effect to this Act, and in particular for any of the following purposes : -
For varying the amounts set out in the fourth column of the First Schedule as the maximum amount of bounty payable in respect of any goods.
I assert, as a lawyer, that there is absolutely nothing in this Bill to prevent the Minister, by means of regulations, from giving £50,000 or £100,000 under the most insignificant item in this schedule. When some of my honorable friends have had, as I have had, a political experience extending over twenty-five years, they will recognise that this practice of giving a Minister power to make regulations by which he can stultify the opinions of Parliament, as expressed by its approval of a definite schedule such as this, should be abolished. I should like to point out that we have already struck out from the schedule four items - those relating to olives, palm fruit, peanuts, and sunflower seeds - covering a proposed total expenditure of £117,000, out of the total appropria-‘ tion of £530.000. Honorable members may imagine that we have thus reduced the amount at the disposal of the Government to £413,000, but we have done nothing of the kind.
– I have promised to recommit clause 2, which provides for the total appropriation, in order that proportionate reductions may be made.
– I am very glad to hear that statement. The Minister, however, still retains power to make regulations, by which he can distribute the total appropriation of £413,000 as he pleases over these different items.
– Did not the honorable and learned member take similar powers in connexion with Bills introduced by him as a member of a State Administration ?
– When I was Minister of Public Works and Colonial Treasurer in New South Wales, I never had a Bill of this kind in my charge.
– But did not the honorable and learned member take power to make regulations under various Bills?
– When I was a member of the State Administration of New South Wales the honorable member was in knickerbockers, and therefore does not know what I was doing.
– I have been able to refer to the honorable and learned member’s speeches.
– I shall be very glad if the honorable member will point to any instance of inconsistency on my part.
– I have no doubt a case could be found.
– Let the honorable member state a particular case. If I did as he states, I was wrong; but my opinion is that’ I never did anything of the kind, because I regard it as a very wrong practice. I am not here to stubbornly oppose anything proposed by the Government, bur I wish honorable members to understand that what they are passing is the schedule before them. It was never intended, I take it, that we should pass a schedule fixing a maximum for each . of these items, and that, at the same time, the Minister should have power to make regulations which we shall never see, and cannot possibly negative.
– We read the Bill, and thought we understood it.
– Several members have, I think, said that they do not understand.
– The point was explained several times.
– What is the good of stating in the schedule that these are the maximum amounts, when that is not the meaning of the Bill ?
– There is a discretion allowed to the Ministry to transfer amounts from one item to another.
– What does the honorable and learned member mean? Does he mean that we are to waste our time in surveying a series of figures, which, we are told, represent the maximum amounts, whilst, at the same time, those figures, are rendered worthless, by giving the Minister the power to render nugatory the whole of .them?
– The Ministry have the same power in regard to every item on the Estimates.
– No; the honorable member is perfectly wrong.
– The honorable and learned member, who has been in office himself, ought to know that that has been done.
– It may have been done before, and I am commenting on the practice.
– It is an absolutely essential practice. The savings on one item may be used to make up a deficiency on another.
– The honorable member does not help his argument by pointing out that a wrong practice has been followed in previous years. This is not a necessary discretion. If the Bill declared that we were taking power to allocate £500,000 among industries at the discretion of the Ministry, we should know what we were doing. But when we are told that these are the maximum amounts on each item, while, at the same time, there is power to alter .them by regulation, it is making a fool of the Committee. This is a discretion I shall always protest against placing in the hands of a Minister.
– The Committee has already decided to do so.
– The Committee has decided nothing, because theBill has not been passed, and on the third reading the whole measure may be negatived. The honorable member made an observation in regard to what he said I had done, although he could have no personal knowledge of any such event, and when I challenged him to name an instance, he merely said he had no doubt one could be found. It must be patent that we have wasted much time in considering this schedule. In regard to fish or any other commodity I am against the granting of a bounty ; but as it is possible this item may be passed, I shall support the amendment, which is less objectionable than the original proposal.
– Did the honorable and learned member, when a Minister in New South Wales, never exercise this discretion in regard to the Estimates of his Department ?
– Never under similar circumstances. o
.- I suggest that the point raised by the honorable and learned member for Parkes might be got over by providing that the regulations shall” not come into .force until after they have been laid before both Houses of Parliament. We have power to disallow regulations, but the difficulty is that the regulations come into force before they are laid before Parliament. If a date is not specified in the regulations at which they are’ to take effect, they take effect from the date of their notification in the Gazette. But we could prescribe under clause 9 that the regulations shall not take effect at an earlier date than that on which they have been laid before Parliament, or we could say that they should not take effect until fourteen days have elapsed after they have been placed before both Houses. In such case, according to the Acts Interpretation Act, it would be competent for any honorable member during the fourteen days to fable a motion disallowing the regulations. According to section 10 of the Acts Interpretation Act of 1904,. regulations are to be laid before Parliament, and they take effect from the date of their notification in the Gazette. If either House passes a resolution, of which notice has been given, within fifteen days after the regulations have been laid before each House, disallowing them, they cease to have effect. I suggest that no date be specified for the coming into force of the regulations until Parliament has had an opportunity, under the section to which I have just referred, to express its opinion as to whether or not they shall take effect. We should then see whether any substantial addition had been made to the maximum prescribed in each case. The House would thus be able to check the expenditure, and, at the same time, it would save the policy of the Ministry, which is to allow alterations to be made without the introduction of a new Bill in every case.
.- I had not the advantage of hearing all the remarks of thehonorable member for Parkes, but, coming from one who is usually accurate, or within a reasonable degree of accuracy, I must say that the latter portion of his speech somewhat surprised me. Considering the length of time the honorable member has been in Parliament, he should be aware that under the Audit Act there is power, in regard to the Estimates, to transfer votes from one item in a subdivision to another.
– I have admitted that that has been the practice for years, and I say that it is a wrong practice.
– From his experience as Secretary for Public Works in New South Wales, the honorable member should be aware that it is a common practice to transfer items from one heading to another, where one vote is exhausted, and another vote has not been used.
– Only in regard to railways and roads. .
– Where is the difference? The honorable member, as Minister, must have done this hundreds of times.
– I denounced the practice to which the honorable member now refers, and tried to have it altered in the New South Wales Parliament.
– It is not a new practice, and, moreover, it is one allowed under the Audit Act.
– I tried to alter the practice in the New South Wales Parliament.
– Evidently the honorable member was not successful, and I certainly do not remember his making any protest against the practice during his six years’ membership of the Commonwealth Parliament. With all respect to the honorable member’s judgment, I regard it as a very necessary practice.
– I do not agree with it.
– I do not expect the honorable member to agree; but, in my view, it is a very necessary practice. It is inevitable that in framing Estimates a number of possibilities may be overlooked, and, therefore, there must be some trust placed in the hands of the Executive ; and I regard it as a reasonable discretion within certain limits.
– Would the honorable member say that fish and mohair were in the same sub-division?
– I am not arguing as to the technical possibilities under this particular Bill, but I object to the suggestion of the honorable member for Parkes that the practice as a whole is a bad one. It is a practice which must be followed if we are to have Executive Government ; or, otherwise, the Treasurer’s advance account, which is only another form of trusting the Executive, will have to be much larger.
– The honorable member for Wentworth has just pointed out that under the practice it would be possible to divert a bounty from fish to mohair.
– I do not know that there would be any very great danger in that. The general policy of rendering assistance to industries by way of bounties is followed, and the rate per lb., or the rate per unit, as set out in the schedule, will not be exceeded. The sum total voted may be exceeded, but the proportion per unit cannot be altered. Therefore, in my opinion, the Committee are not parting with any large measure of their liberty in assenting^ to the practice of transferring from one item to another.
– This Bill differs very materially from the general Estimates, in so far as every item in the schedule is a separate and distinct Department, a separate and distinct sub-division, a separate and distinct appropriation. While it may be very proper under the Audit Act to transfer votes within a sub-division of a Department
– Within a division ; not a sub-division.
– At any rate, this Bill presents quite another case. If we vote £50,000 as a bonus to the fish industry, the money might by regulation be transferred to the rice industry ; and that would be much more serious than giving the Government power to manipulate the votes in the interests of a division under the general Estimates.
– The Executive could not increase the rate of the bounty, but only the total amount on any particular item.
– The Minister Could take money, which had been voted for one purpose, and apply it to a totally different purpose; it would not be merely manipulating votes with the object of securing the complete administration of the Department, but it would be devoting the money to quite a “distinct object. If the provision of the Audit Act referred to by the honorable member for South Sydney be applied to a Bill of this kind, it will open up a vista of strange and serious possibilities, unless we assume, as, of course, we have a right to assume, the administration is going to be honest. Another fundamental difference between this Bill and an ordinary money Bill, or the Estimates, is that once this Bill is passed we shall have absolutely no further control over the expenditure of these amounts. It may be a matter of amending the Audit Act, but there ought to be some distinction made in the direction- 1 have indicated.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– I agree with the honorable and learned member for Parkes that if our legislation is not to be farcical we should amend those provisions of the Bill which conflict with the fourth column of the schedule. The honorable member for South Sydney told the Committee that the practice of allowing Ministers to vary the amounts voted by Parliament prevails in regard to the Estimates, and I agree with him that it has obtained in the past, but the variation is confined to the amounts set down in each subdivision. I do not regard it as a hurtful practice within those limits. But in this case it is different; for it must be remembered that the sum set down as the “ maximum “ amount to be devoted to the encouragement of any particular industry seriously weighs with honorable members in coming >to a decision in regard to the items of the schedule. By way of illustration, let me point out that an important party in the Chamber has laid down the rule that the expenditure for defence is not to exceed a certain amount. If the amounts voted for various Departments could be so varied that the defence Estimates could be increased, in spite of this, honorable mem- ‘ bers would not agree to those Estimates without requiring that there should be no addition to the sum voted for defence. In this case, the same principle should apply, but at the present time, we do not know whether £10,000 or £30,000 is to be given for the encouragement of the fishing industry. Some of the items in the schedule were agreed to by a very narrow majority; but probably they would not have been agreed to at all if it had been known that the maximum amount, payable would be £10,000 instead of £2,000.
– Some of the members of the Opposition have said that they wish that the amounts shall be subject to variation.
– I am not in favour of that. I have always held that Parliament should keep as close a control as possible upon the expenditure of the country, and I am seeking to apply that principle to the Bill. I hope that the Minister will recommit such portions of the measure as will enable us to insure that the amounts given for particular items shall be those which we desire to give. With regard to the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corio, the declared object of the bounty is the encouragement of fishermen whose existence would form a valuable reserve for coastal defence. The Minister” has told us that if the amendment is carried, there will be so many applicants for the bounty as to make if difficult to meet all the demands. Therefore, it appears that a unique opportunity is given by the amendment to do what is desired. As what we wish to do is to encourage the fishing industry, and not the secondary industry of canning, I shall support it.
.- It has always been m,y opinion that the object of bounties is to encourage primary production;, and for that reason I desire, to see a bounty offered of which those engaged in the fishing industry can take advantage. The great objection to many bounty proposals is that they make it possible for a few large firms to obtain possession of large sums of public money, instead of giving legitimate encouragement to the primary producers. In my electorate, a large number of persons make their living by fishing. There are two important fishing towns in the electorate, but the fishing industry is not a very flourishing one, because of the difficulty of obtaining a market for the fish. I have seen quantities of fish left on the piers as unsaleable. If there were better arrangements for its transport inland, there would be a much better sale, and a consequent larger consumption of fish. The want of an adequate market now causes great loss, and those engaged in the fishing industry are often idle because there is no regular demand to supply. I have always desired to assist in the development of Australian industries, than which none is more important than the fishing industry. Many honorable members, whose sentiments appear to .me thoroughly anti-Australian, are continually speaking about the need for population. Let me draw their attention to the value of the fishing industry in other countries. In the United Kingdom, no fewer than 106,000 persons are engaged in that industry, the value of its products being £9,500,000, while in Canada, 73,000 persons are so engaged, their efforts resulting in products valued at £5,000,000. . I cannot see how those who say that we should increase our population can oppose the development of this industry.
– No one is opposed to the development of this or any other industry.
– The best way to develop an industry is to encourage it with a bounty and protect it with import duties. In the western districts of Victoria, we have had experience of what a bounty will do for the butter industry. No one will say that that industry has gone back because of the granting of the butter bounty. Seeing that so many persons obtain a livelihood in other countries as fishermen, surely in Australia we may expect that the fishing industry will give employment to a large part of our population, having in view the great extent of our coast line, and the possibilities of our coastal waters. I suggest the omission of the words “ in tins and casks “ and the substitution for them of the words “ as prescribed.” The bounty should not go to large firms, but should be paid “to small men. The statement of the Minister that the work of administration will be very great if a great number of small producers have to be considered, will apply to every item in the schedule.
– I compliment the ‘honorable member for Wannon upon the fact that in his first speech he has made a very sensible proposal for the amendment of this item. One could see that he had thought but the . subject upon which he spoke. But in suggesting that those who oppose the granting of this bounty are against the establishment of the fishing industry, he did an injustice to the free-trade members of the Committee, their policy being to establish every industry that is native to the country. Still, we wish to establish industries under healthy conditions! We think that it is useless to bolster up with bounties or protective duties industries which cannot existwithout assistance. It is not that freetraders are opposed to the establishment of industries, but that they desire the establishment of healthy industries. In Victoria alone does the view prevail that we are opposed to the establishment of industries, I desire the establishment of the fishing industry, and voted for a trawler to explore our coastal waters, with a view to discovering the possibilities of deep-sea fishingTrawling has been conducted experimentally by the New South Wales Government with very successful results. Here is an industry which, according to the Commission which investigated the matter in New South Wales, must succeedJust as it has proved a success in Canada, so will it be a success in Australia. The offer of a bounty, is not required to establish an enterprise of this kind. According to the report of the State experts, we have a home market for preserved fish which is worth £310,000 annually. All that we require now is enterprise, and that enterprise will be forthcoming when the trawler has got to work. The honorable member for
Wannon has demonstrated that the fishermen will not reap the advantage of the proposed bounty, because the Bill stipulates -
The bounties shall be payable to the growers or producers only of the goods or the materials of which they are made, “and not to manufacturers : Provided that, in the case of fish preserved in tins or casks .. . the manufacturer shall be deemed to be the producer, and the bounty shall be payable to the manufacturer only.
I quite agree with the honorable member that the proposed bounty will find its way into the pockets of the middleman, whereas the desire is that the primary producer shall receive it. The report of the Conference of State experts says -
Unquestionably, the careful and skilfully conducted surveys of our deep-sea fishing grounds, which will become possible when the fisheries’ vessel is completed and put into commission, will greatly enlarge and systematize our knowledge of the available fish supplies of the seas adjacent to our coasts.
Let us prove that the fish are here in payable quantities, and the preserving and packing processes will be no more difficult in Australia than they are in Canada and other parts of the world. In Tasmania, I understand, there are seasons of the year when a man has merely to stand at the water’s edge, and with a fork shoot out the fish which abound there. I have been assured by the honorable member for Denison that he has known tens of thousands of tons of fish to be caught in that way. The trawling experiments which were conducted in New South Wales have shown that the fish exist along our coasts in payablequantities, and therefore I say that the industry requires no artificial bolstering up.
– A little while ago the honorable member declared that we required the trawler to prove that we have the fish.
– The trawling experiments conducted in New South Wales by Mr. Farnell were a great success.
– Honorable members were informed earlier in the debate that they were a failure.
– They were a success, undoubtedly. At the same time that trawler was not equipped in the way that the vessel which the Government propose to have constructed will be. All that is required to make this industry a success is ordinary British enterprise, and we have plenty of that in Australia. If we can show the capitalist that he will obtain a fair return for his outlay, he will be only too pleased to invest his money in the enterprise. Millions of pounds are available for investment in remunerative enterprises. I say again that we should get our trawler to work and prove that the fish exist along our coasts in payable quantities, and the rest would follow naturally. The” report of the State experts also says -
With an adequate and regular supply of fish, arid with the financial stimulus offered by the liberal bounty provided for in the Bill, there is good reason to hope that fish canning will become a highly important industry.
We have the market already, and all that is now wanted is enterprise. That enterprise will be forthcoming when once the trawler has got to work, and consequently the proposed bounty might well be dispensed with.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. McDougall) agreed to -
That after the word “ preserved,” the words “as prescribed” be inserted.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Fruits - Dates, 15 years,1d. per lb.,£1,000.
.- I desire to know whether it is not a fact that a large number of date palms are yielding their fruit in Queensland at the present time?
– A limited number.
– Provided that we have a climate and soil suited to the cultivation of date palms, I think that this is one of the items which honorable members should support. But it must be distinctly understood that I throw the whole of the responsibility for the financing of this scheme upon the Government. If the item be agreed to, I wish to know whether the present growers of date palms will practically “ scoop “ the whole of the bounty ?
– There are so few date palms grown that the persons who cultivate them could not possibly “ scoop “ the bounty.
– Are they likely to get the greater portion of it?
– What we wish to do, I take it, is to encourage the establishment of fresh plantations. Would it not be possible to insert after the word “ dates “ the words “ from new plantations “ ? If those words were inserted the bounty would be far more satisfactory in its effect.
– We are not producing two tons of dates per annum at the present time.
– If we adopted the honorable member’s suggestion we should intro- . “duce a new policy, and deal with this item in a way different from that in which we have dealt with others in the schedule.
– As long as I receive an assurance that this bounty will encourage the planting of date palms, and so assist in developing tropical Australia by white labour, I shall be satisfied.
.- It is satisfactory to hear that the honorable member intends to support this item, and I am sure we all desire that date palms shall be largely and successfully cultivated in Australia. I wish to ask the Minister whether in inserting this item in the schedule he gave consideration to the question of the desirableness of granting a bounty to encourage the export of pineapples ?
– I shall refer to that matter when we come to the next item.
– There are great possibilities connected with the development of an export ‘trade in pine- apples grown not merely in one State, but in every part of Australia, and I would respectfully ask the Minister to give the matter his consideration.
.- There is a calculation in the report of the Conference of experts which I cannot understand. At page 34, under the heading of “Dates1,” we have a table showing that the “cost of cultivation, fecundation, drying and marketing, including purchase of suckers,” is £50, and that the average yield per acre is 300 lbs.
– I think the word “ tree “ should be substituted for the word “ acre.”
– We need some information on the point. The table proceeds to set forth that the price per cwt. is ros., and the gross return per acre is £150. A yield of 300 lbs. per acre at 10s. per cwt. would mean about 30s. per acre. I think that the statement “ average yield per acre, 300 lbs.,” is wrong, and that “cwts.” should foe substituted for “ lbs.”
– It is a mistake.
– It shows how carelessly this calculation has been prepared.
– I think it is a misprint.
– Put the blame on the printer.
– I have no desire to blame the printer.
– He would be a wicked printer who would substitute “ lbs.” for “ cwts.” It does not appear from this report that the industry to which this item “relates is likely to be a very large one.
– The right honorable member knows that dates are grown in a part of Australia that we are anxious to develop.
– I am greatly interested in attempts to develop industries of the soil. I do not wish to oppose this item, but should like . some information in regard to the figures I have quoted from the report.
– A mistake has been made, I shall have the original document examined.
Item agreed to.
Fruits - Dried (except currants and raisins) or Candied, and exported, 5 years, 19 per cent, on market value, ^6,000.
– In reply to the honorable member for Wide Bay who inquired a few moments ago whether the desirableness of encouraging an export trade in pine-apples had been considered by the Government, I may say that whilst the Bill was in course of preparation we received certain information with respect to this item, but not all that was desired. After the Bill had been circulated, however, we received fuller information showing, as the honorable member has said, that there are great possibilities associated with the export trade in preserved fruits.
– There is no reason why an amendment should not be made to provide for a bounty on pine-apples exported.
– That would be a new item involving an increase in the appropriation.
– We might add to this item certain words that would overcome the difficulty.
– I have made inquiries, and find that a special appropriation would be necessary.
– I shall appeal - to the Chairman.
– The honorable member’s proposal opens up a very big question. The case that has been made out for encouraging the preserving of pine-apples for export purposes is certainly worthy of consideration, but I am afraid that the honorable member’s suggestion could not be carried out in this Bill having regard to the stage which the Bill has reached. It has been suggested by the Queensland report that a bounty should be given not to the growers, but to the canners of pine-apples.
.- I desire to know, Mr. Chairman, whether I should be in order in moving that after the word “ dried “ the words “ and other “ be inserted. I fail to see that such an amendment would interfere with the proposal embodied in this item to grant a bounty on fruits exported. The fact that an appropriation has been made for the particular purposes named in the Bill surely does not necessarily involve strict adherence to the wording of the schedule to the Bill as introduced.
– The honorable member’s proposal would mean an appropriation of money for a purpose other than that named in the schedule as introduced. It would apply to all kinds of fresh fruits. His proposal would be narrowed down by inserting ‘after the word “ candied “ the words “ and pine-apples in tins.”
– If that could be done, practically any amendment could be made.
– I say that neither amendment could be made.
– I wish to move the amendment I have indicated, and believe that it is quite possible in that way to extend the scope of this item. There seems to be some doubt in the mind of the Minister, and I would therefore ask, Mr. Chairman, whether I should be in order in proposing to insert after the word “ candied” the words “and pine-apples canned”?
– If the honorable member desires to move an amendment, I would suggest that he should propose to insert after the word “ dried “ the words “ or tinned.”
– That would include all kinds of preserves.
– I think it would be wise to extend the scope of the item, applying as it does to fruits exported.
– If the item applied to all kinds of fruit, the £6,000 proposed to be expended in connexion with it would not go very far.
– I take it that our desire is to ascertain! what varieties of fruit can be preserved and exported with the greatest benefit to Australia.
– How far would this bounty go if it were applied to all the fruits that can be preserved and exported ?
– It might go further than it would if we limited the item to a particular variety of fruit, and our selection proved to be wrong. We should give the people an opportunity to ascertain for themselves what is the best fruit to be preserved for export purposes.
– If a trial were made of a dozen varieties, the £6,000 would be exhausted in a few months.
– If we discovered that a very large export trade could be done in a particular variety of preserved fruit, we could take steps later on to encourage that trade. This schedule does not prevent us from voting further sums for the encouragement of any new industry which may be opened up in the course of a year or two. We ought to make this item as wide as possible, since it relates to exportable commodities. There is no particular industry which requires to have expended upon it the whole of the amount proposed to be given by way of bounty under this item. I think the honorable member for South Sydney will agree that there is no specific commodity of which we desire to insure the export, and if the matter be left open, it will be possible to discover which is the most suitable for the export trade.
– At the present time jams are being exported, so that the bounty would go to those who are engaged in that trade. Is that the honorable member’s intention ?
– I would go as. far as we may, if we cannot get all we want. The Attorney-General says that we cannot do this or that under the appropriation, but I find that the Chairman is ready to take an open amendment’, whereas I should like to narrow the matter down.
– I suggest that the honorable member should narrow the matter down to the specific item of canned pine-apple.
– I move-
That after the word “Dried” the words “ and canned pine-apples “ be inserted.
– I should like to take your ruling, Mr. Chairman, as to this amendment. I do not wish to imperil the passing of a Bill by inserting a provision which we cannot carry out. The objection I have to the amendment is, in the first place, that it increases the expenditure, and, in the second place, that it diverts the appropriation. Although, by the amendment the amount of the appropriation is not increased, the amount of the expenditure under the appropriation is increased.
– I think the Chairman will have some difficulty in giving a ruling, because he must first determine whether canned pine-apples aire or are not dried fruit. There is nothing on the face of the amendment to show that canned pine-apples are not also dried, and while, as a matter of fact, I believe that they are not, the Chairman may take it that they are. Of course, the answer to that is that, if pineapples are dried fruit, the amendment is unnecessary, whereas if they are not dried fruit, I am afraid the amendment goes beyond our power. I think that the Speaker, on one occasion, ruled that at this stage of a Bill, involving an appropriation, we cannot vary the scope ; we may omit or reduce, but we cannot enlarge either the amount or the scope of the appropriation. As to that ruling, I speak only from recollection. I do not see why pine-apples should not be included, if that be. possible.
– Hear, hear; but the difficulty is as I have stated.
– Had I thought that the amendment was not in order I should not have put it to the Committee. In reply to the objection raised by the AttorneyGeneral as to the increase of the expenditure, I remind him that we propose by this schedule to vote £6,000, as the utmost that can be spent on this particular item in one year. If the Government go beyond that sum in this expenditure, they will be exceeding the amount allowed by the Bill. Regarding the objection as to the altering of the destination of the bounty, the Bill already allows the Government to fix any amount they think proper as the maximum. Under clause 9, the Government, if they so desire, may, by regulation, devote £400,000 to this particular item, and neglect expenditure upon all the other items. Under the circumstances I think the proposed amendment is quite in order.
– I do not, for one moment, intend any disrespect to the Chair; and I am anxious to help the honorable member for Wide Bay. in having canned pine-apples included. I am bound, however, by my position, to have regard to the constitutional aspect of the question. Would it be possible to take the Speaker’s ruling on the point? Otherwise, in the House, the point may be raised, and it may be necessary to recommit the Bill. I think that by consent the Speaker may be referred to.
– The Committee has full power to decide its procedure; and, although it has occasionally happened that the ruling of the Chairman has been referred to Mr. Speaker, it is much better that the Committee should arrange its own business. If every time a ruling is given in Committee, a reference is made to Mr. Speaker, there is likely to be conflict. Personally, I have no objection to the point being referred to Mr. Speaker. Had I known that this question would be raised I should have armed myself with the authorities necessary to enable me to put the matter clearly before the Committee. If the Attorney-General desires to move that my ruling be referred to Mr. Speaker, he will be quite in order in doing so.
– I hope, sir, that you do not take my remarks as indicating any want of confidence in yourself as Chairman. This is an important point which may be taken in the House at a later stage, and, as your ruling now appears to be in conflict with a previous ruling, I move -
That the point of order be referred to Mr. Speaker.
– I hope the Chairman will abide by his decision ; if it be not satisfactory to a majority of the Committee, let it be referred to Mr. Speaker.
– I point out to the Attorney-General that another amendment on all-fours with that upon which I have ruled was accepted this afternoon by himself and the Committee in connexion with the item of smoked fish. That being so, I felt bound to accept the second amendment. If there is to be a reference to Mr. Speaker, I think he should be appealed to as to both amendments.
– In my opinion, it is inadvisable to refer this ruling to Mr. Speaker. If we elect officers to conduct the business in the House and in Committee, we should leave them to conduct that business, especially in a matter of this kind in which you, Mr. Chairman, appear to have no doubt, while the AttorneyGeneral, on the contrary, does not seem at all certain. I regard the action of the Minister as a_ gross misuse of his powers in Committee. I trust that the Chairman’s ruling on a trivial matter like this, will not be’ referred to Mr. Speaker. It comes ill from a Minister to submit a motion of this kind when the Chairman has given a distinct ruling. On a previous occasion the Minister accepted a similar amendment to which he was favorable, but being unfavorable to this amendment, he desires to appeal to Mr. Speaker.
– I am afraid the honor-, able member is hardly doing me justice. I told him distinctly that, so far. as I could see, his amendment was one with which I sympathized, whereas now he says that I am against his proposal.
– It looks like it.
– I ask the honorable member for Wide Bay to take my word as to that.
– I take the honorable gentleman’s word ; but he told me he had already consulted the Speaker.
– The question was whether we should add this fruit to the item, and it seemed to me that to do so would be to divert the vote. That was the reason for my objection. There is nothing wrong or improper in looking into a proposal to see whether it is within our powers. My reason for suggesting a reference to Mr. Speaker is to attain uniformity in practice, and to have our powers defined. One or two other honorable members suggested the inclusion of further items, and I gave to them the reply I have given to the honorable member for Wide Bay.
– It will not meet my views to cramp the operation of a Bill like this.
– If there are certain constitutional rules which cramp the action of the Committee, I cannot be responsible for the existence of those rules, which are, presumably, based on sound constitutional principles.
– If a Minister thinks that an amendment may imperil the Bill of which he has charge, it is quite proper for him to try to put himself on firm ground in regard to it. Should it turn out that the Chairman has ruled wrongly, the Bill must be ruled out of order by Mr. Speaker. In the House the point might be .taken that the Bill had been so altered as to be no longer covered by the Governor-General’s Message.
– Could not the schedule be recommitted, if necessary?
– Mr. Speaker would have to rule on the point when taken, and if he sustained it, the Bill would be thrown out. The Attorney-General is taking the right course in the interests of the measure. I agree with the honorable member for Wide Bay that the exportation of pine-apples should be encouraged, if possible, but we must not insert provisions which may wreck the whole measure. I am sure that the Chairman will not regard the action of the Committee in wishing to refer this matter to Mr. Speaker as reflecting upon him, because the same thing has been done on many previous occasions.
– I agree with the honorable member for Wide Bay that something should be done to encourage the export of what seems likely to become one of our staple products; but it would be unwise to run the risk of the Bill being ruled out of order. For that reason I think we should take Mr. Speaker’s decision on the point now. The practice already obtains of referring important questions of this character to him, although the Standing Orders- in my opinion, unwisely - appear not to contemplate action of this kind. In New South Wales, the Standing Orders of the Legislative Assembly provide for references to Mr. Speaker, but under our procedure, these references are made only with the consent of the Committee generally. It is highly desirable that we should prevent the growing up of two practices - one governing procedure in the House, and the other governing procedure in Committee. The ablest men must differ on questions of this kind, and the only way to obtain finality and uniformity is by submitting them to Mr. Speaker.
– His decision lays down a rule for all time to come.
– Every decision makes the law clearer. The Chairman- will not take it as a reflection upon himself that we should take this action to secure a desirable uniformity of practice.
– Under the Standing Orders, the reference of this question to Mr. Speaker must be decided by the Committee; but, as the Chairman has consented to it, no doubt the course proposed will be followed. I am in sympathy with the proposal of the honorable member for Wide Bay, and was desirous of making provision in the schedule for the encouragement of industries which, in my opinion, should be encouraged, and for which no bounty is allotted. But I have refrained from moving amendments, because I felt that they would be unconstitutional. On one occasion, when I was Chairman, the right honorable member for East Sydney took action similar to that now proposed. I had ruled on the technical point whether a non-official member could increase an item in the Tariff, but I was quite ready and willing that my ruling should be reviewed by Mr. Speaker. He confirmed it, and it stands now for all time. We have now before us another point upon which we should have his ruling for our guidance.
Motion agreed to.
In the House :
– The honorable member for Wide Bay moved to insert, in the first column of the first schedule, after the words “ fruits dried,” the words “ and canned pine-apples.” I accepted the amendment; but the Attorney-General raised the point that it was not in order, and when I had ruled against him, moved that it be referred to you for decision. That motion was agreed to.
– The schedule provides an appropriation of £6,000 for the encouragement of the production of fruits, dried or candied, and exported. If the amendment were, agreed to, part of that appropriation would be diverted to an .object other than that specified. That, it seems to me, would be a departure from constitutional principles, and, therefore, the amendment, I submit, is not in order. I took the further point that the whole sum appropriated for a bounty for the production of fruits, dried or candied and exported, might not be claimed, and the inclusion of another item might, therefore, be tantamount to increasing the expenditure. On that point, I do not feel so confident.
– I regret that I had not an opportunity to consult the authorities on this point, but the question- was sprung upon me suddenly. The AttorneyGeneral, I believe, had gone into the matter in anticipation of an amendment of this kind. He first took the point that the amendment is out of order because it would increase the proposed expenditure ; but I ruled that as £6,000 is appropriated as the maximum annual bounty for dried fruits, the Government could not expend more than that sum in any one year, and, therefore, the amendment would not increase the expenditure. The AttorneyGeneral seems inclined now to waive that point, and says that he does not feel confident in regard to it. His second point was that the amendment would alter the destination of the proposed bounty. I pointed out that if that were so, we had already altered the destination of the bounty proposed for the production of fish, and that, if my ruling in this case does not hold good, the former amendment should not have been accepted. I also pointed out that under paragraph a of clause 9 the Government has power to alter the destination of every vote in the schedule. The appropriation covered by the message from the Crown amounts to £530,000, but the amounts in the schedule total nearly £600,000. Under the provision to which I refer, the Government could alter the destination of the various votes, giving nearly the- whole sum for the production of cotton or the production of preserved fish. I maintain that in accepting the amendment I was not accepting a provision conferring more power upon the Government in regard to the variation of expenditure than is conferred by the clause which I have mentioned.
– In considering this point, I think we may well have regard to the analogy afforded by the Estimates. They are covered by a message from the GovernorGeneral, but can a Committee of Supply change the destination of any amount therein set down? Can it appropriate part of a sum set down for a definite object for some other object? If it can, the ruling of Mr. Chairman must be upheld. My impression, is that a Committee has not the power to. change the destination of appropriations recommended by a message from the Crown. It may reduce an amount, but it may not increase it or change the destination of an appropriation. In this instance, several difficulties arise. If the amendment were agreed to the item would read -
Fruits - Dried and Canned Pineapples.
– It is a separate item.
– If canned pineapple is a dried fruit, then it is undoubtedly covered by the word which already appears in the schedule. “ Dried “ is a general term. There are two kinds of dried fruit excepted, viz., currants and raisins. I repeat that if canned pineapple is a dried fruit the term “dried” covers it; but if it is not, I am afraid that the amendment becomes objectionable.
– I presume that it is idle to debate the point, which was first raised by the Attorney-General, viz., that if we agreed to the amendment proposed we should be exceeding* the message of Appropriation. That objection, it seems to me, cannot be sustained. The more sensible reasoning to my mind was that of the right honorable member for East Sydney. I take it that in this particular item of the sche- dule the word “ dried “ has no special significance, because exceptions are made in the very line in which it appears, which reads -
Dried (except currants and raisins) or candied and exported.
It is easily seen that the proposal of the Government is a double-barrelled one, which is intended to cover both dried and undried fruits. In the first instance I sought to secure the omission of the word “ dried.” It seems to me that the accept:ance of the amendment involves no question of order. If that amendment is not in order at the present stage, I submit that I can move to include pineapples amongst the exceptions, where it will be perfectly in order under the Standing Orders of this and of every other well-governed Parliament.
– It appears to me that no restriction is imposed upon this Committee except in regard to the amounts specified in the schedule. With that one exception we are free under any rule of Parliament - except that relating to relevancy - to make any alteration that we choose regarding the destination qf any particular sum. There is no distinction made between these sums either in the title of the Bill, in its structure, or in the message which authorizes it. Seeing that it is only amounts which are limited, it seems to me that within that limitation we can dispose of any of the money voted just as we please.
– Upon the second reading of the Bill I pointed out that the meaning of the term “ Bounties” was contained in clause 3, which reads -
The bounties under this Act shall be payable on the production in Australia of the goods specified in the first column of the first schedule.
The particular item which was engaging the attention of the Committee when the question of order arose was that of dried fruits. The ‘only question to be determined is whether tinned pineapples come under that heading.
– I have no hesitation whatever in giving a decision upon ‘the point which has been raised, but, in orde to make clear the reasons why I give it, I would remind honorable members of the forms which have been followed since the introduction of this measure. In the first place, we received a message from the GovernorGeneral, asking that an appropria tion should be made for a specific purpose. That message, having been considered ir» Committee, it -was determined that the appropriation should be made, and permission was given to certain members of the Government to prepare and bring in a Bill. The Bill was brought in, therefore, in pursuance of the decision of the Committee. When it was brought in, it provided that certain bounties should be payable upon certain items. If, under the items as they stand, a bounty could be paid upon pineapples - as there is no suggestion that the amount should be increased - an amendment to that effect - which, of course, would be’ quite unnecessary under the circumstances - could be moved and carried. But if, under the items as they stand, no bounty would be payable upon pine-apples, then the Committee at this stage cannot make an appropriation for the payment .of such a bounty. As the right honorable member for East Sydney has said, the analogy of the Estimates constitutes a sufficient guide for us. Let us suppose that the Estimates contained an item of expenditure for the purchase of rifles. It would be quite incompetent for the House to apply the money appropriated for that purpose to the purchase of ammunition. That would be changing the destination of a vote. In the present instance, if the schedule contained provision for the payment of a bounty upon pine-apples, the words contained in the amendment might be inserted, but if not, it is clear that their insertion would involve an alteration in the destination of a vote. That, I think, absolutely rules the amendment out of order, even if it did not involve a larger expenditure. Regarding clause 9, to which aNtention was called by the Chairman, I take it nhat that clause can have no effect in the way of changing the destination of a bounty. It can only determine whether a larger or smaller sum shall be payable in a particular year. I .am not asked to give a ruling in reference to any amendment which may have been made in a preceding item. Should any question of the kind be brought under my notice at a later stage, I shall be prepared to give a decision upon it, but I rule now that no amendment can be introduced which would enable any bounty to be payable in respect of any item which is not already provided for in the schedule.
– Before you leave the chair, sir, I should like to ask your ruling upon a point cognate to that which yog have just decided. I desire to know whether it is not possible for the Committee to make amendments in the schedule, and - before it reaches the House which gives authority to the Committee to act - for the Government to bring down a recommendation of appropriation covering the amended schedule. As I understand the position, the Government can bring down a message :at any time.
– Such a course as that suggested by the honorable and learned member is not forbidden under our Standing Orders, but we have never followed it. Whenever any message has recommended an appropriation, that message has been at once referred to the Committee, and has been dealt with in what I conceive to be the constitutional way. I should not like to give authority to follow any such course as the honorable and learned member for Corio has suggested.
– In view of the decision of Mr. Speaker, I withdraw my ruling, and declare the amendment of the honorable member for Wide Bay to be out of order.
.- I understand that earlier in the day we made a few other alterations in the schedule of the Bill. I am exceedingly sorry to learn that we have been so forgetful of what was due to this Committee-
– Order ! The honorable member must not discuss the ruling of Mr. Speaker.
– I do not intend to do so. But it seems proper that at the present stage, I should point out that in allowing Bills of this kind to be introduced - seeing that the wisdom of the Committee cannot add to a single item in the schedule in the absence of another message-
– It is not the nature of the message which1 is responsible for that.
– Whilst we were in Committee we had an opportunity of altering the message so as to enable us to exercise the power which we undoubtedly possess.
– The only thing we can do is to reduce the amount.
– How can we widen the expression “ upon the production of certain goods “ ?
– Earlier in the day an amendment to insert the words “ as pre scribed “ was accepted. I desire to submit an exactly similar amendment, and I therefore move -
That the words “ as prescribed “ be inserted after the word “ Dried.”
– 1 do not know whether the honorable member appreciates the effect of his amendment. The insertion of the words “ as prescribed “ will not have the effect of extending the scope of the Bill. They merely serve to define the way in which the fruit shall be dried.
– We can omit the word “ dried.”
– But the honorable member has not moved in that direction. The word “dried” has the widest possible application. As the item stands, it covers any method of drying fruit, and the insertion of the words indicated by the honorable member for Wide Bay would not raise the issue that he desires.
– The insertion of the words “ as prescribed “ after the word “ fruits “ occurring a little earlier in the schedule, would have opened up the question of the possibility of the inclusion of pineapples, but the addition of the “words “as prescribed “ after the word “ dried “ would not do so.
– It will enable us to prescribe the kinds of dried fruit which should be the subject of a bounty; but I do not think the amendment will achieve the object which the honorable member has in view.
.- I have heard of dry gin and dry ginger-ale, and am not very much alarmed by what has been said as. to what might be the effect of the’ use of the word “dried” in this connexion. I am prepared to withdraw my amendment if the Committee will strike out the word “ dried.”
– That would open up the whole question.
– I have been compelled to take this step owing to the ruling of Mr. Speaker. It seems that the Government have the power to say absolutely what shall be done, and we must either accept the Bill as it stands or reject it. While I recognise that no useful purpose will be served by further discussing the matter, I wish to say that neither this” Government nor any of its successors will be permitted, if I can help it, to secure the passing of the resolution upon a message from the Governor-General recommending an appropriation unless the widest possible scope is given tothe Bill to which it relates. In the circumstances, I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– In view of the decision of Mr. Speaker, I presume that I cannot move the insertion of the words “ and fresh “ after the word “ dried “ ?
– Such an amendment would not be in order.
– That is most unfortunate. I, like the deputy leader of the Labour Party, desire to assure the Government that I shall take care in future that the consideration in Committee of a message recommending an appropriation of this kind is not treated as a for- ‘ mal matter. There seems to be no sensible reason why dried fruit should be included in a scheme of bounties such as this whilst no provision is made for dealing with the infinitely more delicate problem relating to the export of fresh fruit. This 5s a sort of bastard proposal.
– Is the honorable member trying to undermine the anti-bounty principles of the honorable member for Franklin by suggesting a bounty on fresh apples exported ?
– Not at all. If we are to apply this system to the fruit industry, I wish to secure a bounty not only on fresh apples, but also upon fresh oranges that are exported.
Amendment (by Mr.Fisher) proposed -
That the word “Dried” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ preserved.”
– I submit, Mr. Chairman, that the amendment is out of order. I cannot be expected to agree to such a proposal when I find it impossible to extend this item to fresh fruits.
– The honorable member could vote for the omission of the word “ dried,” and vote against the insertion of the word “preserved.”
– According to the ruling of Mr. Speaker, the item must be confined to dried fruits.
– It is quite competent for the Committee, should it desire to do so, to strike out the whole item word by word. The honorable member for Wide Bay is in order in moving the amendment.
.- I would suggest to the honorable member for Wide Bay that his amendment would not accomplish the object he has in view, since a bounty of £6,000 devoted to preserved fruits that are exported, would go entirely to the jam manufacturers, who are already exporting large quantities to South Africa and other countries. The whole of the bounty would be secured by the jam manufacturers, and not one penny would be available for the encouragement of the export of pineapples. It is very probable that if we created the blank which the honorable member desires, his proposal to insert the word “ preserved “ would be ruled out of order.
– The honorable member wishes to strike out the word “ dried “ so that the Government will find it necessary to bring down a new schedule in which provision will be made for a bounty on pineapples exported.
– That is quite another matter. If that were the honorable member’s object he could achieve it by a simpler proceeding.
.- I understand, Mr. Chairman, that you have ruled that the Committeehas power to strike out the word “dried,” and all the words which follow it in the item. If that be so, the honorable member for Wide Bay should be able to accomplish his object by moving the omission of all the words after the word “fruits.”
– The honorable member for South Sydney has put the case in a nutshell. If we substituted the word ‘ ‘ preserved ‘ ‘ for the word “ dried “ the whole of this bounty would go to the jam manufacturers at present engaged in the export trade ; the grower would not receive any portion of it. A considerable trade in dried fruits is now springing up, and certain varieties of apples, which are unfit for export to England, are in great demand for drying purposes. I was informed by Mr. G. B. Edwards, formerly member for South Sydney, that the demand is greater than the supply.
– There is a good market for dried apples in Australia.
– There is, and the industry is making great progress without the assistance of a bounty. If we are to choose between granting a bounty on dried fruit and one on preserved fruit, I think that from the stand-point of the producer, it would be infinitely better to select that which would encourage the export of dried fruit. In this way we should assist in opening up a market for what is otherwise an unsaleable commodity. The bounty provided for in this item, however, is so small that it would be impossible for the manufacturer to pass on any portion of it to the producer. Tens of thousands of tons of fruit are now being preserved, and if the honorable member’s amendment were adopted the bounty would go to the manufacturer, whilst the producer would get nothing, and a new industry would certainly not be established.
– I regard this item as one of very great importance. Fruit-growing is one of our staple industries, and should be fostered by every legitimate means. I do not think it would be wise to adopt the amendment, because in dealing with the prospects of the preserved fruit industry the Conference of experts’ report -
It was accordingly decided not to recommend 1 bonus as requested by the associations referred to. At the sams time careful consideration was given to the prospects of the fruit industry in Australia as a whole, and means were considered which might lead to its expansion. The highly favorable conditions of climate and soil which prevail over large portions of the Commonwealth point to fruit-growing becoming a highly important industry. Many of the choicest fruits bring a high price when dried or candied, and this work may be successfully carried out by families or small co-operative associations.
This is the point to which I desire to draw special attention -
The extent to which jams, jellies, preserved fruits, pulp and fruit juices are already produced in the Commonwealth, and the fact that these products are being exported indicate that the industries are already well established.
Jams, jellies and preserved fruits are already being exported on a commercial basis, and there is therefore no need for a bounty in respect of them. There are, however, important possibilities in connexion with the exportation of dried fruits, and I hope therefore that the Committee will pass the item as it stands.
.- It is evident there is no hope of ray securing the omission of the word “ dried “ from the item. I therefore ask leave to withdraw the amendment. I wish to say that’ I blame myself for permitting an opportunity to slip past by which I could have broadened the scope of the Bill.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Item agreed to.
Combed wool or tops exported, 2 years, 1½d. per lb., and thereafter, 3 years, id. per lb., £10,000
– I have been making some inquiries, and I understand that the industry which it is proposed to establish is a very important one. If it is possible to establish it successfully in Australia, which looks probable from the information available, it ought to assume very large dimensions, and have a great effect on our staple industry. The inquiries I have made impress *me with the idea that it will be impossible to erect a plant, or a number of plants, sufficiently large to carry on the in- dustry on a commercial scale, so as to permit of successful competition with exported goods, unless a considerable time is allowed. A very large plant is essential, and at least eighteen months or two years will be taken up in erecting the necessary buildings and machinery. That being so, unless the time at which the bonus is to commence be extended foi nearly two years, the bonus might lapse before it could be taken advantage of. As I am sure that is not the wish of the Minister; I suggest that he might extend the time for the coming into operation of the bonus to a year ahead, or the 1st July, 1908.
– Does the honorable member think the bonus is sufficient ?
– I have made inquiries, particularly from wool-buyers in Sydney, and one, who seemed to have a pretty good knowledge of this industry - he having, prior to coming out to Australia, had experience in all the detailed work of top making - said he thought that the bonus would prove sufficient. From inquiries he himself had made, on behalf of a continental firm, he had come to the conclusion that there was only a small margin, so- far as could then be seen, against the local manufacturer; in fact, he said that, after the industry was established, and the product became known in the markets of the world, he had no doubt it would be able to do without a bonus. But this woolbuyer was of opinion that a plant on a scale sufficiently large to enable Australian tops to compete with tops in other parts of the world could not be erected under two years. I suggested to him twelve months as a reasonable limit, and I now move -
That after the words “ two years “ there be inserted the words “commencing from 1st July, 1908.”
– The amendment proposed seems to me reasonable. If the Bill becomes law, it cannot come into operation for some time, and the amendment will leave practically nine months in which those who propose “to enter the industry could make preliminary arrangements in the way of purchasing land and erecting buildings and machinery. The intention of the Bill is to make an effective bonus for five years..
– I think it ought to go a little longer.
– The time suggested by the honorable member is, as I say, reasonable, and I am prepared to accept the amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Schedule, as. amended, agreed to.
– I promised that if reductions were made in the total amount of the appropriation, I should make proportionate reductions in the second schedule. I have had the amounts made up, and I find that the difference between the original appropriation and the amounts voted is as between the original amount of £530,000 and £412,500, or £117,500. That is the maximum amount; and I am assuming that in each of these years the maximum amount will be taken out. For instance, in the case of olives, I have allowed for the reduction made ; and so in regard to the other items, and have arrived at the result which I have just indicated. In other words, I have had the second schedule revised, so as to make it in harmony with the alterations made in the first schedule. For instance-, the total amount in the first year was originally £80,000, and that has been reduced to £68,000, and so on right through, until we arrive at the total appropriation of £412,500. I move -
That the second column of the schedule be left out, with a view to insert the following, figures in lieu thereof -
– I suppose these figures have been arrived at on an estimate of the effect of the maxima in the first schedule.
– That is so.
– There is no power to alter the figures just read?
– No; these are fixed by law.
– So that, instead of providing that in each vear so much money may be spent on each item, the arrangement is that the expenditure may have reached a certain amount at the end of the year.
– That is so.
– It may be that a number of the industries will not develop at the rate the Minister expects, and if that be so, a lot of money will accumulate unless the Minister has power to increase the maxima in order to absorb the money.
– We have that power.
– It is a very dangerous power. In the course of three or four years a large sum may accumulate which cannot be spent unless the maxima be altered. The Minister may find himself with ,£200,000 in hand, and he may use it to increase the bounty on items which are being produced. It seems to me that the Minister could increase the bounty to a greater extent than some of us anticipated when we were dealing ,with the power to alter the maxima in relation to the first schedule; and we shall have to watch with the greatest care the regulations which are made. I again suggest to the Minister that he ought to provide that the regulations shall not come into force, either on a date to be specified in the regulations or on notification in the Gazette until they have been laid before Parliament.
– Is there not a general provision to that end in some Act ? »
– The Acts Interpretation Act provides only that the regulations shall come into force only when notified in the Gasette, or on such other date as may be specified in the regulations themselves ; and the same Act goes on to provide that the regulations shall be laid before Parliament. But the regulations may have been eight months in operation before they are laid before Parliament ; and I suggest that clause 9 should be recommitted with a view to providing that the regulations shall not take effect until after they have been laid on the table of the House. Then if some honorable member challenges the regulations, no Minister will dare to specify a date until the question has been decided.
– The object of the second schedule is to prevent the appropriations in each year exceeding certain amounts. Originally the appropriation of a certain amount was provided for, to be spent at the rate of so much per annum. During the debate several honorable members have contended that the amounts fixed as the maxima for specific items are not sufficient, and have urged that the Government should, when necessary, take from one item to give to another. My reply to them is that the maximum appropriations for each year are fixed, but that power is given to the Government to vary these maximum amounts by regulation. It is not at all likely that, in the first years of the bounty period, when industries will be in the experimental stage, the maximum amounts set down will be claimed. For instance, it is not likely that £6,000 will be claimed this year for the production of ginned cotton ; but as time progresses, and the industry, expands, the demand will probably exceed £6,000. To meet it, we shall have power to increase the maximum by regulation. I cannot accept the suggestion that no regulation shall ‘have the force of law until it has been laid upon the table for a certain length of time, because it will be necessary in the case of many administrative regulations, that they should take effect at once.
– My proposal is merely that no regulation under paragraph a of clause 9 shall come into force until it has laid on the table for a certain period.
– Probably I shall be able to accept an amendment of that kind, and I shall be glad if the honorable and learned member will draft one. I thought h.s proposal applied to all regulations.
– 1 understood the Attorney-General to say that clause 9 empowers the Government to vary by regulation the maximum amounts in the fourth column by taking from one item, and adding to another. I should like to know in respect to ginned cotton, for example, for which the maximum amount which may be paid in any one vear is £6,000, if any part of that sum could be applied for the encouragement of some other industry.
– If the maximum amounts set down in the fourth column of the first schedule are multiplied by the years during which the bounties may be paid, they will be found to total something like £650,000, while the Bill provides for an appropriation cut of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of only £530,000. There is the further limitation that the expenditure in any one year shall not exceed certain amounts. Power is taken, however, to increase by regulation the maximum amounts annually payable ‘in respect to any item. For instance, we could increase the maximum payment for ginned cotton in any one year from £6,000 to £7,000, but we could not expend more than £530,000 during the period for which the bounties’ will be in force.
– Could the Government take money from other items and use it to increase the bounty on cotton?
– There will not be a transfer from one item to another, merely a; variation of the maximum amount payable in respect to any goods in any one year. We cannot, however, increase the total amount payable in respect to any goods during the period for which the bounties ave in force. Moreover, the total expenditure in each year is limited by the second schedule. It cannot exceed £68,000 in the - year ending 30th June, 1908 £128,000 next year, and so on.
– What is the use of setting, down maximum amounts if the Government is to have power to increase them by regulations? ‘
– The growth of any industry may make it necessary to increase the maximum amount payable to that in- dustry in any one year, while the maximum amount payable in regard to some other industry may not be claimed. If the claims for any one year do not equal the amount provided for that year, we can increase the maximum for the next year, using the unexpended balance to do so.
– Can an amount be transferred from one item to another?
– No. All that can be done is to vary the maximum amount payable in respect to any item in any one year. The honorable and learned member for Angas is drafting an amendment to provide that no regulation varying a maximum shall have force until it has laid upon the table of the House for a certain period. The power to make these regulations is similar to that given under the Audit Act. There is no power to transfer from item to item.
– Can a surplus be carried from one year to another?
– But it can be expended only in regard to the item in connexion with which it has accrued ?
– Not exactly. For instance, this year the claims for bounty in respect of ginned cotton might come to only £3,000. Next year they might total £9,000. In such a case we could, by regulation, provide that the unexpended balance from this year should be paid next year, making the maximum payment for the year £9,000.
– Suppose £10,000 were wanted.
– How would the additional £1,000 be obtained?
– We could not expend more than the maximum amount appropriated for the bounty on ginned cotton.
– Can an amount be transferred from one item to another?
– No. The Bill provides for certain maximum annual appropriations.
– Does the AttorneyGeneral suggest that the Government car run ahead of the yearly allocation?
– We cannot do that.
– The Government can only utilize savings which have beer effected upon particular items?
– Can they be applied to any other item?
– We have only power by regulation to increase the maximum.
.- The Acting Prime Minister has informed me that, under clause 9, the Government merely take power to themselves to spend moneys which have been appropriated to certain items, but which may have been unexpended during any one year, upon the same items during another year. He admits that the Government have no power to expend any money appropriated to a particular item upon another item.
– Not in that year.
– This is a most important point, and we had better have it made clear. Take the item of cotton as an example. We have authorized the payment of £6,000 annually for eight years to stimulate the production of that commodity. In other words, we have provided £48,000 for the purpose, and we are giving power to the Government to spend more than that sum in any one year if necessary. But if the Government have power to appropriate any of that money to another item, they may - notwithstanding that we have voted £48,000 to assist the cotton industry - spend only £40,000 in fostering the production of cotton, and devote the remaining £8,000 to the encouragement of the palm oil industry.
– It is not intended to do that.
– That assurance is quite enough for me.
– If we were to do as the right honorable gentleman suggests we might devote all the money appropriated under the Bill to the development of one particular industry.
– There is nothing in the Bill to prevent that being done.
– The Bill provides that we shall spend £8,000 annually for six years upon the cotton industry. But there is nothing to prevent the Government from spending a portionof that money in the development of another industry.
– But that is not our intention.
– If is well to make the matter perfectly clear.
.- The point to which reference has been made will have to be made perfectly clear by express words in the regulations. The scheme of the Bill is to fix a maximum expenditure in connexion with each item. In the form in which the measure now stands, if there were an unexpended balance upon any item, that balance could be expended by increasing- the maximum amount which is payable in any one year. It seems to be the feeling of the Committee that the expenditure upon the different items should be limited in some way. That being so, I promise to recommit the clause to give effect to the wishes of honorable members.
– Cannot the AttorneyGeneral do that in two or three minutes?
– No; it will necessitate some consideration.
.- It seems to me that the Attorney-General is ascertaining the opinion of the Committee from the Opposition, the members of which would be glad to kill the Bill.
– That is a very ungenerous statement to make, seeing that I supported the Attorney-General upon the point of order which he raised to-night..
– The whole opposition to this Bill has been upon the ground that the amounts which it was proposed to appropriate in respect of the various items were not sufficient to establish a great industry. Consequently, I am glad that power is reserved to the Government to vary the amounts which are payable upon the different commodities. Of course, any Government will have to administer the Act as they find it. It would be a very great pity to tie the hands of the Ministry and to prevent them - if they effected a saving of £6,000 upon one item - from applying it to other industries which have . a reasonable chance of becoming successful. If any of these unexpended balances can be profitably applied to the production of rubber andcotton,I hope that theAttorneyGeneral will remember the general desire which has been expressed by honorable members thatwe should confine our attention to one or two industries which have a reasonable prospect of being established permanently.
– Parliament meets every year.
– That is a reason why this clause should be retained, and why a sympathetic Government should have as free a hand as possible in making regulations. If those regulations do not succeed, and the Government are considered to have applied too much money under the Act, the same argument could be broughtforward - that Parliament meets every year - and it might even repeal the Act.
– It is not right to talk about repealing the Act after people have been induced to go into these industries.
– A free hand should be given in the matter of administration.
– But not to repeal the Act.
– I am not in favour of repealing the Act at all, but the honorable member for Bass suggested that as Parliament met every year the Act could be amended from time to time. That argument cuts both ways. Any wrong administration can be dealt with also when Parliament meets. We do not want legislation so much in this matter as careful administration to apply the bounty in the best possible way. I trust the Attorney-General, when considering the feeling of the Committee, will give weight to the views of those who favour the Bill rather than of those who oppose it. I am not saying that the Opposition do desire to kill the Bill, although they have expressed themselves as willing to do so.
.- The honorable member for Corio might seeanother side to this matter. If the Bill becomes law, the people interested in these industries will see that under an Act of Parliament a certain sum of money is set apart , for their benefit if they set about establishing them. They will then set to work on the faith of the action of Parliament in setting aside these amounts for them, but in the third or fourth or fifth year they may come along and find that some of the money which Parliament set aside for them has been taken under a regulation for the benefit of some other industry. What a monstrous wrong that would be. I look upon this as a sort of contract with the people whom we are asking to enter upon the different industries set out in the first schedule. We say to them, “So much money is there for you if you earn it.” Weought to make that money safe for them. If the Government in working this scheme find that the amount set apart for any of the items is not enough, and should be increased, it will be the simplest thing in the world for them to ask the House for an additional amount for that particular object. But do not let us put one of these bounties on an insecure footing. Let the people whom, we are asking to take up these industries be told, “ There is this amount of money for you by Act of Parliament if you earn it. If you do not earn it in the first year, but do so in any succeeding year, come along and you will still get it.” We are giving the Government power to meet those people in that way. That is all the Acting Prime Minister wants. Naturally the Government want power to that extent. We provide so much a year. Perhaps no application will be made in the first, second or third year; but in the fourth or . fifth year applications may be put in with a rush. The Government ought to have power in that case to use up the money that has been lying there for those people in the previous years. That additional power, which is the only one ‘the Government want, is a proper power to give them, because we intend the whole of the money appropriated by this measure to be used for the whole time, and we do not want to shut out any one during any year. If the Attorney-General makes that clear, we shall be acting fairly by all these people, and there will be nothing to prevent the Government from dealing with some special case. If they find they want more for a particular industry, they can come to this House for it, without tampering with the money belonging to other industries.
Mr. FISHER (Wide Bay) [10.14I- It has taken a great deal .of time and explanation to arrive at an understanding satisfactory to a member with an ordinary mind.
– The honorable member for Angas made it clear an hour ago.
– It seemed quite clear to me until I heard the Attorney-General and the leader of the Opposition. . Another difficulty that presents itself to. me is this: Are we allowed under the Constitution to. have an accumulation of money? No doubt that, point has not escaped the. notice of the Attorney-General. If we have to divide the whole of our surplus every year among the. States, will it be possible to retain these unexpended balances from year to year? There might be a consider able accumulation at the end of a financial year of money appropriated by this measure, but if, under the financial provisions of the Constitution,- the States de-‘ mand the return to them of the whole of the surplus at the end of the year, what will be the position?’ I do not think it would be wise to transfer amounts from one vote to’ another. If, as the honorable member forAngas said, such a thing has been provided for,’ it “was done unwittingly by the Committee, and the Attorney-General ought to have the clause altered. I know he has promised to do so.
– Then why all this fuss?
– It took a very long time before the facts were wormed out, and I think the honorable and learned gentleman had something else in his mind than the interpretation of the honorable and learned member for Angas.
– I promised to meet the honorable and learned member.
– I may be wrong in saying that pf the Attorney-General, and ‘f so I do not want to do him an injustice. When I am legislating here as a member of the Committee, I desire to know exactly what I am doing, and .so I should like the legal members to tell us the meaning of the proposal in the” fewest possible words. We cannot help it if we make a mistake unwittingly. I am very glad that this discussion has taken place, and that these, long explanations have “been given. For” my own information, because it will be useful hereafter, I should like to know how the constitutional, difficulty regarding the accumulation of unexpended votes appropriated by this Bill is to be- met.
.- The Attorney-General is making a mistake in making this concession to the leader of the Opposition, the honorable member fpr Maranoa, and the honorable member’ for Wide Bay. This is a time when the Government should not have followed the line of least resistance. That is - what they have done. I wish to reply to the arguments advanced by the leader of the Opposition. I understand that the Ministry originally intended to adopt another course, and I wish they had adhered tr> that determination. ‘
– -I have explained several times that under the Bill as it originally Stood an unexpended balance in respect of one item could be used if the maximum had been increased by regulation.
– I understand that the Attorney -General first proposed that if the amount set apart for distribution in respect of an item were not distributed in any one year, it should be added to the amount available for distribution in respect of that item during succeeding years.
– I said that the maximum could be altered.
– I hope that the AttorneyGeneral will not propose an amendment which will render it impossible for the Minister administering this measure to use the unexpended balance in respect of one item for the encouragement of an industry for which provision is made in another. The leader of the Opposition said that it would be unfair to allow money to be diverted in this way from one item to another, because in some cases three or four years would necessarily elapse between the inception of an industry and the time when the bounty relating to it could be claimed. If the Committee had had power to increase the amounts set apart in respect of these items, I am satisfied, from the tenor of the debate, that additions would have been made to the bounties on cotton, rubber, and rice. I look to this provision as being likely to afford an opportunity to supplement the amounts set apart to encourage those industries.
– By sacrificing other items.
– No. What would be the result if, for a period of five years, no claim were made for the bounty under one of these items ? For instance, it is proposed that £25,000 shall be expended in an effort to encourage the production of linseed, and that sum is to be distributed over a period of five years. Are we to understand that a man is to be permitted to refrain from claiming the bounty until the last year, when there would be an accumulation of £25,000? He would thus be able to scoop the lot.
– It would be a good thing for the country if the whole amount could be claimed.
– If that system is to be adopted, and these amounts are to be specially ear marked, a good many people will wait until practically the last moment before stepping in to claim the bounty.
– In the case of linseed, to which the honorable and learned member has referred, a certain quantity must be produced. It would be impossible for any one in one year to raise sufficient linseed to entitle him to claim the whole sum of£25,000.
– It was said that the Williamstown Woollen Mills set to work to secure the bounty granted by the Victorian Government, and closed down as soon as it had obtained it.
– There is nothing to prevent the Government from guarding against! that which the honorable and learned member suggests. It is in their power not to add to the amount yearly payable in respect of any bounty if they think that anything of the kind which he suggests is being attempted.
– Some honorable members wish to prevent the Government from applying the unexpended balances in respect of some of these items to others relating to industries that are taken up, and should be encouraged. I do not think it is reasonable to suggest that the Government would attempt to cripple any of the smaller industries in their desire to encourage the larger ones. If they did not desire an industry to flourish they certainly would not provide for it in the schedule. The Parliament itself cannot do much to encourage an industry. It can empower the Government to expend a large sum of money with that object in view, but the success of the movement depends entirely upon the administration of the law. The greater the trust we repose in the Depart; ment charged with the administration of this measure, the better it will be, and I hope that the Minister will carefully consider the point I have endeavoured to make.
.- I am somewhat surprised at the argument which the honorable and learned member for Corio has advanced. Business men must know that any one who desired to earn one of these bounties would have to set to work at onceto secure it. When the honorable and learned member suggests that a man might wait until practically the last moment before taking steps to earn one of these bounties, and thus secure a lump sum of £25,000 in one year, he must imagine that this Bill is to apply to an island like that on which Robinson Crusoe lived for some time - to a country where competition is unknown. I take it that competition in Australia is so keen that any one who saw a prospect of earning £5,000 in one year would not think of waiting for five years in the hope that he would thus secure the accumulated bounty of £25,000.
– In some of these industries to which the schedule applies trees would have to be planted for five years before they would bear.
– I recognise that fact. Any one desirous of earning one of these bounties will set to work as soon as possible to secure it. We may have implicit confidence in the capacity of the present Government to administer this measure, and to distribute the moneys voted in connexion with it in an equitable manner ; but we have to remember that the appropriation under it will extend over a number of years, and that during that time many changes of Government may take place. Honorable members in the Opposition corner have urged that the total appropriation under this Bill should be devoted to one or two industries, so that if they entered into possession of the Treasury tench they would probably be disposed to devote the amount set apart in respect of some of the smaller items in the schedule to one or two of the principal ones. That would be unfair to those who, on the passing of this Bill, took steps to establish some of these smaller industries. We must have finality in this matter, and I contend that the various amounts in the schedule should either be used for the purposes for which they are appropriated or not at all. When the honorable and learned member for Corio was speaking, I interjected that the matter would have to come before Parliament if the suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Angas - a suggestion which the AttorneyGeneral accepted some time ago - were acted upon. I understood that the honorable and learned member for Corio thereupon pointed out that the matter would bein the hands of Parliament under any circumstances. It will be seen, however, that Parliament would be in a different position from that it now occupies in relation to the Bill. If I do not approve of an item in a Bill, I can vote against it without any injury to the Government, but if it be thought the Government are spending money in a wrong direction, and I vote against them, it amounts to a want of confidence vote. Under such circumstances the independence of honorable members sitting behind the Government is taken away ; and it is far better not to allow such questions to become party matters.
Amendment agreed to.
Schedule, as amended, agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Mr. SPEAKER announced the receipt of the following message -
The Senate requests the concurrence of the House of Representatives in the following resolution, which has been agreedto by the Senate this day, viz. : - “ That in the opinion of the Senate -
That a departmental inquiry should at once be instituted, and exhaustive tests made of such machines as may be submitted to the Department, with a view to the adoption of one of them, if it is found effective.”
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- In reference to the repatriated Australians, I desire to read the following letter which I have received -
It is now a long time since the Government dumped down some twenty-seven returned Australians from South Africa here. They were informed by some one in the office of the Closer Settlement Board that work would be waiting for them on their arrival in Rushworth. The whole thing was a sad bungle both for the men and the public of this town, on whose charity they were cast. A public subscription was made, but this was insufficient to provide for them until the Government (State) agreed to give them a fortnight’s work at Waranga Basin. Three gentlemen here had in addition to what they did before, to guarantee six or seven publicans the cost of the keep of most of these men for a time feeling that when the authorities were made aware of their action they would reimburse us for this outlay : indeed, possibly return the public subscription in full, seeing that the fault lay solely with the authorities who sent the men here. I communicated with Mr. Jenkins, of the Closer Settlement Board, and the usual printed P.C. reply came to say that the matter should receive due attention. After a considerable lapse of time and nothing further arriving, I again wrote Mr. Jenkins, and two others signed the letter; but no reply has as yet come to hand. Will you kindly see Mr. Jenkins or whoever is responsible and acquaint them with the fact that we are far from being satisfied with the manner in which our communications are being treated, and urge upon him the reason and necessity’ there is for complying with our request? - I am, yours respectfully, on behalf of Messrs. O’Brien, McNamara, Raynor, and self, F. C. Vian.
Is the Acting Prime Minister prepared to take any action in regard to this matter?
.- It would be a good idea to have a “copy of the letter which the honorable member for Echuca has read sent to Dr. Arthur, and also to other persons who are anxious to see immigration, although, according to the information now before us, it is impossible to find work for twenty-seven men in a part of the country where we have been told there is employment for all who are willing to accept it. We have been assured by honorable members in the Opposition corner, time after time, that there is plenty of work for all who come into the country ; but now the latest acquisition to that corner party has informed us that a small band of twenty -seven men has been left stranded at Rushworth for want of employment.
– I am glad that the honorable and learned member for Flinders has just entered the chamber, because he, along with the honorable member for Wimmera, the honorable member for Corangamite, andothers, is a strong advocate of immigration. We now hear the latest acquisition to the Opposition corner party - who was led in by the honorable and learned member for Flinders and the honorable member for Kooyong, as their little pet bantam chick - standing up during his first fortnight in Parliament, and condemning the action of the Government in introducing immigrants.
– They are returned Australians.
– Many who say they are returned Australians are not Australians. If in the great State of Victoria it is impossible to find work for twenty-seven men, I invite the honorable member for Echuca to send them to the western blocks of Queensland, where they will find employment very quickly. Or these men might be passed over to the honorable member for Wimmera,. who, no. doubt, will be able to find them work. However, I do not see what this Parliament has to do with finding work for men in Victoria ; perhaps the honorable member for Echuca can tell us.
– I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether heis aware that the Intelligence Department of New South Wales is importing assisted immigrants, who, having been unable to obtain work, have had to return to the Old Country, thereby bringing this country into discredit; and also that assisted immigrants, when they cannot get work in New South Wales and go to another State, are threatened with actions at law?
.- I am rather astonished at the stand which has been taken by honorable members in the Labour corner. The letter which has been read by the honorable member for Echuca is quite pertinent to the work of this Parliament, because it voted a sum to assist to repatriate Australians from South Africa. It appears that there has been a mistake made here and there with regard to some men. Some men have been returned who cannot be described as desirable immigrants, and many men who were so described are not Australians. These men were landed here, in most instances, quite penniless. Through some mistakes on the part of the authorities in Victoria, the men were sent into country districts without any preparation having been made for their reception, and the consequence has been that such cases as those described inthe letterjust read have arisen. Certainly such mistakes are to be deplored, but I cannot see how the general question of immigration is affected in the slightest degree. The. honorable members for Maranoa and Yarra have pointed to this corner as being specially interested in this question.
– As being in favour of unlimited immigrants - cheap labour.
– If the honorable member, with his usual inaccuracy, says that we are in favour of cheap-labour immigrants, that is a foul libel on any honorable member in this corner, or on any one inthe House. No honorable member has atany time advocated the immigration of cheap labour, of immigrants who are to reduce the value of labour in Australia.
– The products of cheap labour, he should have said, perhaps.
– From time to time, honorable members in the Labour corner have alleged that the operation of an immigration scheme would affect the labour market in such a way as to bring down wages.
– We have not had an opportunity to do so until to-night.
– All advocates of immigration whom I have heard have advocated the introduction of suitable immigrants, and not men to be brought into large congested centres.
– Is Rushworth a large congested centre?
– I have just explained to the House, and any honorable member can see that it has been quite by an accident that those men, who have been brought back under exceptional circumstances, have been dumped down on Rushworth without any preparation having been made, whereas every advocate of immigration I have heard has spoken in favour of the immigration of suitable immigrants.
– What about Dr. Arthur?
– We in this corner are not responsible for the statements of Dr. Arthur, and no man regrets more than I do the substance of his letters, which were read to us the other night by the honorable member; they certainly misrepresented the. position. The only way to bring about the proper settlement of persons in different parts of Australia is to tell them the truth. A system of immigration has been advocated only for the purpose’ of opening up undeveloped territory, and it is only a special class of men who can be brought in as suitable immigrants for that purpose. The Government sympathize with a system of immigration. If honorable members in the Labour corner have any objection, why do they not attack the Government ? There would appear to be no necessity for doing that. They simply attack honorable members on this side, whereas we are above suspicion in this matter. Our intention is, as it always has been, to open up the undeveloped portions of Australia on lines which would bring about happiness to those persons who come out, and still secure happiness to all those who are already here.
.- No doubt the reverend gentleman who was good enough to communicate with the honorable member f or Echuca in favour of distressed men who have been repatriated did so out of the goodness of his heart, and with a view to render a service to persons in need. The honorable member, in bringing that letter before the House, has rendered a far greater service than I think was anticipated. It will be widely published that Australian money has been spent to bring men to these shores, but that in Victoria - the State which is boomed, and rightly boomed in some respects, as having the largest surplus, the most wealth, and the best administrators
– Do not rub it in too much.
– The two great journals of Melbourne claim that Victoria has an excellent Government, equipped with a labour bureau, and that any one who is desirous to work can get a fair living. Several publicans rendered aid to needy persons at Rushworth, and some goodcitizens were willing to guarantee to the publicans that they would not be allowed to go short ; but the State Government has stood by, and allowed an affair of that kind to be brought before the Federal Parliament rather than spend a paltry sum to insure that the men were properly received.
– It would be a great deal wiser if we were not to discuss States Governments, and they werenot to discuss us.
– The honorable member, if he heard the letter read, knows that a clergyman has mentioned that appeals were made to an officer of the Government of this State. I should be the last to cast a reflection on any other Government; but I am bound to state the facts as they are narrated in the letter. I have no other source of information. I dp not believe that the honorablemember for, Echuca would bring forward a letter written and signed by a clergyman of the district unless thefacts it narrated were reliable. According to the letter an appeal has been made to the proper authorities, but no relief has beengiven, and the men are still in distress. An appeal is now made to this Parliament. It is a warning to the Government that when the late Treasurer, in a speech to the Immigration League, lauded up Dr. Arthur and his friends, and promised to give Commonwealth money to assist in the promulgation of information which was wilfully wrong andmisleading,he committed a great error. An advertisement of the worst kind will be given to the Commonwealth when everything is stated by the newspapers and by the assurance of each State Treasurer that everything is prosperous. These men who have been brought here with Commonwealth money find themselves absolutely in distress and in need, and the persons who have expended their money in assisting them have been left without the means to recoup themselves.
– Itisverymuch to be regretted that the persons who have been brought back to Australia are unable to find employment. Amongst them, it appears that a number of dead-beats who are not Australians have been brought here.
– It is not fair to say that.
– According to the press some men have appeared before the Courts who have found their way here from Russia.
– It is to be assumed that these distressed men are not dead-beats.
– Others have come from South Africa. Most of these men are Victorians. But the Victorian members have, nevertheless, denounced loudly the efforts made to find work for them.
– Who denounced the efforts?
– The honorable member for Yarra did.
– I simply said that I thought the letter should be sent to Dr. Arthur.
– We have been informed that a number of Victorians have come back to their own State, and are not wanted by the Labour Party.
– The honorable member excels in misrepresentation.
– Have they not as much right to be here as the honorable member for Yarra has ? They are as much Victorians as he is, and have, perhaps, done more for their country. They have gone out and fought for it, and some of them have bled on the field of battle.
– Two minutes ago the honorable member said that they were dead- beats.
– I was very cautious in the language that I used. I said that amongst them were a number of dead-beats, and I instanced a man who came from Russia. If there is no room for these men in Victoria let them be sent over to New South Wales. Mr. Carruthers says that he can find employment for numbers of decent working men on a Government job. I believe the work is in the electorate of the honorable member for South Sydney. A very pertinent remark on this question has been made by the leader of the Opposition in answer to the question - what kind of men are wanted here. The right honorable gentleman very well said, “ Men like your fathers were.” We want men of the stamp of the pioneers who have made Australia what she is, not dead-beats. Victoria has gone to the expense of bringing put from South Africa a number of men, some of whom, no doubt, are “ ne’er-do-weels “ ; and now we are told that she cannot find employment for them. Well, I repeat that there is any amount of room for industrious working men in the State from which I come. It appears also from the statement of the honorable member for Maranoa that there is plenty of employment in Queensland so long as the men are distributed with some amount of judgment.
– I do not feel inclined to admit the claim of honorable members in the Opposition corner that they are the only supporters of the policy of immigration to Australia. I am very proud as a supporter of the present Government that they are seeking to get white Europeans to come to this country. We have heard much against the immigration of Italians and Spaniards, but when it comes to the objecting to the return of Australians to their own country, we have a right to point out that they are the very people we require. Statements have been made to the discredit of Dr. Arthur. I do not defend him ; certainly I do not defend the statements which have been recently made on his authority. But I remind honorable members that at the Imperial Conference the Prime Minister did very good work for Australia in securing the passage of a resolution to the effect that every effort should be made to divert immigration from the United Kingdom to other parts of the British Empire. I do not want the impression to go abroad that there is any considerable party in Australia that objects to British immigration to our shores, nor do I wish to leave it to be understood that honorable members opposite are the only representatives of the people in this House who are in favour of that policy. There is plenty of work in Australia for men to do, and if we are to defend Australia, we shall require plenty of immigrants. The arguments of the honorable member for Maranoa are answered by himself. He acknowledged that in the western districts of Queensland Immigrants are wanted. If I desired to send any speech to England to prove that immigration to Australia is desirable, I should send that of the honorable member. Although the honorable member for Echuca has given the date of the letter which he quoted, he has not mentioned the date on which the immigrants arrived.
– The letter says “ some time ago.”
– I remember the arrival of the first batch of immigrants from South Africa. The number of them coincides with the number mentioned in the letter quoted by the honorable member. Paragraphs appeared in the newspapers stating that they had been landed in Rutherglen and Rushworth. An explanation was given in the public press by CaptainJenkins, and if the clergyman who sent the letter read by the honorable memberfor Echuca did not see that explanation, it was his own fault for not reading the newspapers. It was explained, if I remember rightly, that arrangements bad been made for the men to be profitably employed at the Waranga Basin reservoir.
– In regard to the letter which has been read by the honorable member for Echuca, I desire to say that I presume that he referred to some of the men who were brought back from South Africa by the Commonwealth Government. That was done at the instance - or rather upon the information - of the States, who were informed by their representatives in South Africa that there were there stranded Australians who desired to return to their own country. Surely no one can blame the Government for bringing them back. I think that the House has always commended the Government for what it did in that respect. I am aware that there were amongst the returned immigrants twenty-two men who, had not been in Australia before. But that is a very small proportion. Mr. Valder, who looked after the shipping of the men from South Africa, did his work very well, in my opinion. I know him personally. He was selected by the Prime Minister at the time when it was determined to give these stranded Australians an opportunity to return, because he was well known, had done good work in
South Africa, and could be trusted. The Federal Government has really nothing to do with the men once they arrive in the States. The States Governments take charge of them. We never undertook that duty. The States Parliaments are the places in which to bring this matter forward, although, of course, if the Federal Government knew that these persons were starving it might take action. I hope that the information having been made public and the matter having been ventilated as it has been, the State Government will see that something is done, and that the men referred to are not left stranded. They have got into their present position by some mistake, and they should be looked after.
– The question really is whether the Government are prepared to do anything to pay the bills.
– If it is the duty of any one to pay the bills, it rests upon the State Government rather than upon the Federal Government. An honorable member asked whether I was aware that the State Government of New South Wales was assisting immigrants to come out to that State?
– The Federal Government cannot prevent that.
– I was going to say that we could take no action if the assisted immigrants were not improperly brought out under contract, and were not’ undesirable immigrants. With those exceptions the State Government are free to bring as many assisted immigrants to New South Wales as they please. The Federal Government has no control over the action of a State Government in that respect. I believe that the State Government of Queensland is adopting a similar course. The Federal Government has no power to. interfere with the introduction of such immigrants unless they are introduced improperly under contract, or are for any. reason prohibited immigrants. There is so far no necessity for the Government to take any action. From what I know of the members of the State Government of Victoria they will not let the matter mentioned by the honorable member for Echuca rest, but will at once see that the men who have been referred to shall not be allowed to starve or, indeed, to have occasion to beg.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.2 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 August 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19070801_reps_3_37/>.