3rd Parliament · 4th Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
The Clerk laid upon the table the following paper : -
Postmaster-General’s Department - Yearly Expenditure and Revenue Statements - Year 1907. Return to an Order of the House, dated 1st April,1908.
Ordered to be printed.
Mr. GROOM laid upon the table.
Manufactures Encouragement Act - Return of Bounty paid during year 1908-9.
– On the 13th August, the honorable member for Fremantle asked for information regarding the expenses of the members of the Postal Commission.I am now able to add to the replies already given the following details: - 2. (a) Amounts claimed or paid to each member of the above-named Commission as expenses for Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays, . whilst sitting in Melbourne during the present session : -
Senator de Largie
Saturdays - 29th May ; 26th June.
Sundays - 30th May; 27th June. Mondays - 31st May; 28th June.
Saturdays - 29th May; 26th June; 10th July;17th July; 31st July;7th August.
Sundays - 30th May; 27th June;11th July;18th July; 1st, 8th August.
Mondays - 31st May ; 28th June ;12th July ;19th July; 2nd, 9th August. (Expenses were paid for Sunday only when the Commission sat on both Saturday and Monday.)
Right to Criticise. - Perth High School Cadets
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, ufon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister of Externa) Affairs, upon notice -
Whether an agreement has been made with the various States allowing potatoes from clean districts to be admitted as before?
– No agreement has been made in respect of this matter between the Federal and State Governments, nor has the former any official knowledge of such as between the States. It is presumed that the references that appeared in the daily press in regard to the matter are correct.
Maitland Hospital Telephone - Claims Unpaid at Death.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether, seeing that the Maitland Hospital, which is supported by voluntary contributions, is compelled to provide board and lodging and treatment for old-age pensioners, free of charge (the pensioners being debarred from drawing any pension while residing in hospital), and seeing that this charitable institution receives no support from the Commonwealth in the form of subsidy, but is entirely dependent on the State Government in this respect, he can see his way to grant the use of the telephone free of charge?
– The Maitland Hospital, in common with other charitable ‘institutions supported wholly or partly by public subscriptions, is, in accordance with the telephone regulations, entitled to be charged only half rates for its telephones. I cannot see my way to recommend that such telephones should be supplied free of charge, nor that exceptional treatment should be given in any particular case.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether any decision has been arrived at as to the method of disposing of any unpaid portion of a pensioner’s claim under the Commonwealth Old-age Pensions Act at the time of the death of such pensioner, and whether the pensioner’s friends would be entitled to collect the unpaid amount?
– The regulations under the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act provide that an undrawn instalment of a pension due at the’ date of a pensioner’s decease, if applied for within twenty-one days after such decease, may be paid to such person as, in the opinion of the Deputy Commissioner, has an equitable claim thereto, provided that no payment shall be made of any amount of pension accrued after the last pay-day preceding the pensioner’s decease.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The Deputy Postmaster General, Sydney, has supplied the following information : -
Time off in lieu is given for work performed on public holidays.
Debate resumed from 29th July (vide page 1800), on motion by Mr. Hall -
That, in the opinion of this House, it is desirable to so amend the Commonwealth Constitution as to confer upon the Federal Parliament power to own and control monopolies.
.- Apparently, the desire of the mover of the motion is, not to abolish monopolies, but to place them under the control of the Federal Parliament, giving their ownership to- the Commonwealth. In my opinion, State-owned and controlled monopolies would be worse for the public than privatelyowned and controlled monopolies. The latter are almost invariably wellmanaged, being the creation of men of brains and ability. If it were otherwise, they would soon fail, for want of support and because of the competition of better managed concerns. State-owned monopolies, on the other hand, can be kept going at the expense of ihe public, however inefficient the service which they may provide. If the time is to come when the Commonwealth will own and control huge industrial concerns, I say, “ God help the people of Australia.”
– Does not the honorable member think that the people can manage their own affairs?
– That is what I claim, though not in the sense in which the honorable member uses the words. Private persons can manage their affairs better than Parliament can manage them, and with “greater advantage to the public. The community will, regret it, if ever the ownership and control of monopolies is given to the Commonwealth. In support of this assertion, let me mention my own experiences in Western Australia. Some years ago we had in that State numerous timber companies, such as the Canning; the Gill-McDonald; the Jarradale; Millar’s Jarrah Karri Company; the Imperial Jarrah Company; the Jarrah Wood Saw Mill Company; the M. C. Davis Karridale Company, and the J. C. Ports Collie Company, which were all competing with each other, and not one of them making substantial progress. Until the so-called timber combine was created, continuous employment was not available in the industry ; but, as the result of its formation, these companies have all been conducted on similar lines by Millar’s Jarrah Karri Company, and the men have received better treatment than was possible before. Instead of being a curse, the co-called monopoly has been beneficial to the very members of the community who are supposed to be represented by the Opposition. The fact that few dividends, if any, have been paid, proves that the men* have been securing most of the returns from the enterprise. Yet it is one of the alleged wicked monopolies to which objection is taken. Like, many others, it is, as a matter of fact, really in the interests of the men.
– Does the honorable member expect us to believe that?
– I do; because the statement is true. In submitting this motion to the House, the honorable member fox Werriwa made many wild statements. It is difficult to understand how an honorable member of his training and intelligence could expect the House to believe the assertions that he made. They were absolutely ridiculous. One statement made by him was that, as the result of the Beef Trust in Western Australia, certain butchers there had been refused a supply of meat. I interjected at the time that in Western Australia beef was as cheap as in any other part of the Commonwealth. The honorable member replied that if meat were cheap in Western Australia, it was shameful that it should be so dear in Victoria and New South Wales. I do not hesitate to say that, at the very time he made that statement,- meat in -Victoria and New South Wales was cheaper than it had. been for five or six years. I have seen, this morning, mutton exposed for sale in butchers’ shops at id. and 2d. per lb., and legs offered for sale at 3d. per lb. As a matter of fact, mutton can be obtained from the cool stores to-day for less than the cost of storing it. When the honorable member declared that meat was dear in Aus tralia, sheep were being sold in the Flemington yards for the price of their skins, and their carcases to-day can be bought for id. per lb. at the cool stores. Since no importance can be attached to the honorable member’s statement as to the price of meat in this State, I invite honorable members to place no greater value on his general statement that monopolies are a curse.
– Would the honorable member hand over the Coolgardie water scheme to private enterprise?
– Two years ago, when meat was at a high price in this State, it was cheap itf Kalgoorlie and Perth. This morning I traversed one of the main streets of Richmond and saw in butchers’ shops carcases of the finest mutton that could be produced in Australia ticketed at 2d. per lb. Yet we are told that combines have caused meat to be dear in Australia. .
– The low price of meat in Richmond is due to the fact that there is no Meat Combine in Melbourne.
– If a combine was necessary to bring up the price of meat to the rate at which it is being sold at present in Australia, then I can only say, “Heaven help the producers without the assistance of such a combine.” The statements made by the honorable member were ridiculous; yet because I dared to interject that meat was cheap in Western Australia he took rae to task and suggested that I knew nothing about the matter.
– I did not say that.
– I have before me a report of the speech made by the honorable member. On the day on which he said that meat was dear in Victoria and New South Wales, I and another honorable member went out to Prahran in order to see for ourselves the prices at which it was being offered there, and we found that it was cheaper than anywhere else in the world. One honorable member interjected while I was speaking, ‘ ‘ What about the Metropolitan Gas Company, Melbourne?” I should like to know what honorable members have to say about it. Such enterprises are often controlled by municipal councils the members of which in many cases have proved themselves to be shrewd business men. These men are prepared to devote much of their time to the municipal works, and can supervise such concerns much better than a State monopoly could be controlled. It is for that reason that they are so successful. Would any one object to a municipality owning gas-works? Even if a profit be made by a municipality from such an undertaking it is for the benefit of the ratepayers, and it is preferable to allow a monopoly to secure a good profit provided that it sells its products at a reasonable rate than “for the people to have to pay high prices as the result of bad State management. Indifferent management often leads to high prices, and a well-managed monopoly which treats the consumer fairly is certainly not injurious. I propose to substantiate my statements in regard to monopolies by making a few quotations. On the title page of a book written by Mr. W. M. Flinders Petrie, D.C.L., LL.D., F.R.S., and F.B.A., the statement appears : “ Fools only learn by their own experience ; wise men learn by, the experience of others.” Mr. Petrie points out that we may see in France how centralized management by the State accompanies a lack of private enterprise. That surely is clear enough; and the writer, referring to the railways of France, says -
The enormous monopolies of railways in England are, on the whole, far more beneficial to the public than the State railways of other countries. The evils of corporate monopoly, checked by law and supervision of the Board of Trade, are less than the evil of stagnation by official atrophy. In the Republic of France the principal line runs its best trains slower than, and at three times the cost of, the best trains on great English lines.
This shows unmistakably that private monopolies are often less harmful than State monopolies. If a man spends the best part of his life as an employe in a State monopoly, and he happens to offend some official of the State, he has no other chance of obtaining employment, whereas, in the case of private firms, no questions are asked, and he can get employment elsewhere.
– Has the honorable member never heard of a “black list”?
– There may be “black lists” in Queensland, but I do not know of any in Western Australia. Such a workman as I have indicated may find himself dismissed at an age when it is very hard to find employment in another sphere of life. I contend that it is the splendid system of private enterprise, with its individual and interested supervision, that has, in many cases, created the so-called monopolies to which objection is now raised. We never hear of any proposal to take over a monopoly that does not pay, though the shareholders may have lost heavily in the venture. Perhaps one in twenty of the investors “come out on top”; but, in any case, the workmen are paid even if the money has to come out of the pockets of those who are losing their capital. If the motion be carried and a successful monopoly is taken over by the State, that monopoly will undoubtedly cease to pay. I would rather, live in a country where there is successful private business than where the people, as a whole, are trying to do something that.they have not the ability to do. I prefer a country where there are good healthy business concerns, managed by the brains of individuals of the community, because there we find the workmen treated well and always sure of their wages, whether the enterprises are monopolies or otherwise.
– Let us have a private Post Office!
– The Post and Telegraph Department is, perhaps, the biggest of State monopolies, and, in order to see how it is managed, we have only to read the report which was presented to us last session. That report is supposed to be a sort of balance-sheet showing the cost of each Post Office of each State, and, though it was presumably for our guidance, if the object had been to completely “ fog “ us, it could not have been better prepared. Such a report would not have been accepted by. the board of directors of any private company. Just imagine a balance-sheet of the kind being made out for each State ! This again is an illustration of how- the State would conduct the monopolies which were mentioned by the mover of this motion. We never hear of a private monopoly appointing a Commission to inquire into its affairs ; but, in the case of the only monopoly we have, there is a Royal Commission which only harasses the employes, and, in the end, will possibly cause dissension and trouble to the officers who are endeavouring to conduct the business in the light of their past experience. In my opinion this Commission can do no good, and will certainly do harm.
– Could any private company run the Post and Telegraph Department at the same cost?
– No doubt the honorable member for Bass objects to my mentioning the Postal Commission, but I shall have to refer to it further presently.
– Ever since the honorable member commenced his speech, there has been a constant hum of conversation which makes it impossible at times for me to hear what he is saying. The honorable member is, therefore, addressing himself to the subject under great difficulty ; arid I ask that there shall be extended to him that courtesy which every honorable member is entitled to receive.
– Before we consider the taking over of other monopolies we should try to conduct the one we have in a perfect manner. As an instance of the inefficient management of the Post and Telegraph Department, I may point out that even the telegraph forms are different in the various States, and that the rules for filling in the forms are not all the same. If honorable members could come to the House with complaints of private monopolies, similar to those which we hear about our own monopoly, more consideration might be given to the proposition now before us, but the fact that the only monopoly which, we have is not run to the satisfaction of the country does not seem to carry any weight with those honorable members who are now in Opposition. What they really want is to take over the business of the country and run it themselves. The Opposition, being a monopoly itself, and wishing to extend its operations, desires to monopolize not only the Government, but the business of Australia. That is shown by the motion now before the House. If we were to place all these business propositions under State management, we should be placing all the employes in the different industries directly under State officialism, and under the laws of unionism. The small tradesmen would then be simply wiped out, and they represent, in a sense, the backbone of the country. If such a thing were brought about, where should we get people from for our townships?’ They would be all put in Government institutions, and the natural corollary would be that large institutions would be needed in which to keep them and feed them. This sort of thing is not new. Unionism tried this game centuries ago and failed, and will fail again. I should like to read an extract taken from the little book from which I quoted before written by Mr. W. M. Flinders Petrie. He says, regarding the declining years of the Roman Empire -
By 270 A.D. the’ Emperor Aurelian had made unionism compulsory for life, so as to prevent the able men from withdrawing to better themselves by free work individually.
Honorable members opposite are there, fore doing nothing new. This has all been fried before, as is shown by the date given in the extract.
He also gave a wine dole, and gave bread in place of corn, to save the wastrel the trouble of baking. In the fourth century every member, and all his sons, and all his property, belonged inalienably to the trades union.
That is what the Labour party are aiming at now. They want to own the people, body, soul, business, and everything else -
By 369 A.D. all property, however acquired, belonged to the union. Yet still men would leave all they had to get out of the hateful bondage -
They did not like it in those days - and so the unpopular trades, such as the moneyers, in 380 A.D:, and the bakers in 408, were recruited by requiring that every one who married the daughter of a unionist must join his father-in-law’s business -
I suppose that is what honorable members opposite want us to come to again. The author does not mention what wages such a man received. He goes on to say - and thus the Roman Empire was an immense gaol, where all worked, not according to taste, but by force.
The only trouble I see about it is that there are numerous people running around who could not be made to work, even by force. Evidently in those days the Romans had discovered something that we know nothing about. They found out how to make men unionists, and to force them’ to work, whereas unionists nowadays will not even obey the award of an arbitration court, and I know of no means of forcing them to do so -
There was but one end possible to this accumulation of move upon move, on the false basis of compulsory trade unionism, and work under cost for the protelariat. The whole system was so destructive of character and of wealth that it ruined the Empire.
If t this sort of thing ruined the Roman Empire, so far back as that, what guarantee have we that it would not ruin the British Empire now ? Perhaps that is what honorable members opposite wish to see, as they are advocating exactly what was advocated in those days -
The one movement which grew steadily as Rome declined, and which was intimately connected with every stage of that decline, was the compulsion of labour and the maintenance of the wastrel as a burden on society.
Only a few weeks ago I pointed out in this House that unionism took the wastrel or the non-competent man by the hand, and said “.Join the union.” No inquiry is made as to his competence.
If private businesses are taken over by the Commonwealth, and run by the members of the Labour party, the same thing will happen. Men will be kept on, not because they are competent, or needed, but because they will have votes to cast at election time. The writer continues -
It was that which pulled down the greatest political organization by the crushing of initiative and character, and by the steady drain on all sorts of wealth.
That is undoubtedly true. It would be only the flourishing industries that the Labour party would seek to acquire. An industry which was hardly paying wages would be left severely alone. I commend to honorable members the concluding passage in the pamphlet from which I have quoted -
Australians should read, mark, learn, before it is too late. Fools only learn by their own experience. Wise men learn by the experience of others.
A healthy business concern, directed by men of capacity and experience, is something to be admired. By it there is transmitted to the succeeding generation a system of administration, management, and commercial method, of which the community should feel proud, because it is these things that tend to success, and unsuccessful enterprise is all too common. The methods of unionism do not make for success. Yet they are advocated by the members of the Labour party, who, by trying to apply them universally, are injuring the industries of this great country. As I said on another occasion, unionism would be a good thing if it made for competence. But injury must be done to both private and State-owned concerns if the same treatment and wages are demanded for the incompetent as are earned by the competent. Australia would suffer a crushing blow if the Commonwealth were empowered to take over and controlher successful industries.
Mr.CHANTER (Riverina) [3.18].- The House has just been treated to a most extraordinary address by the honorable member for Fremantle, who has posed as the champion of monopolies. During his speech he was careful to refrain from replying to interjections, although I and others very pertinently asked him, when he said that State-owned concerns cannot be as successfully managed as private concerns, “ What about the railways?” He read to us the statements of a Professor Petrie. Who that gentleman is I do not know. Whoeverhe may be, we should not be wise in accepting his advice in opposition to our experience. The honorable member for Fremantle has used the motion as a vehicle for an attack upon the Labour party and unionism, though what it is intended to provide for is the nationalization of injurious monopolies, should that be necessary. No sane man would imagine that Parliament would dream of interfering with a business concern which was being properly conducted, and by which the public was being well served. Where monopolies are injurious to the community, Parliament should have the right to interfere, in the interests of the public.
– The motion says nothing about injurious monopolies.
– It affirms that this Parliament should be given power to own and control monopolies generally.
– No Parliament would interfere with a private monopoly which was being managed in the interests of the public. By way of replyto the statements of the honorable member for Fremantle, let me contrast the privately-owned and controlled tramway system of Melbourne with the State-owned and controlled tramway system of Sydney.
– Does the honorable member think that this Parliament could manage the Melbourne tramway system better than it is now managed?
– Undoubtedly. The honorable member has fallen into the pit which he has dug.
– The fares charged on the Sydney tramways may be lower than those charged on the Melbourne tramways, but the latter service is the better.
– New South Wales owes money on the Sydney tramways, whereas the Melbourne tramways have been so well managed that they will eventually be handed over to the municipalities free of all liability.
– The Melbourne tramway system is not comparable with that of Sydney, in respect to either the service given to the public or the management of the employes, who are treated in a way in which the State would not treat its servants. If a passenger boards a cable car, to make a journey between, say, Spencer -street and Spring-street, and asks what the fare is, the conductor will demand 3d., instead of telling him that he can buy eight city tickets for a shilling, one of which willsay for the ride.
– Yesterday, as I was coming to the House, I heard a conductor advise a lady passenger that it would be cheaper for her to buy tickets than to pay a cash fare.
– Were the honorable member to report that conductor’s conduct to the company, the man would not remain long in the service. I hold that tickets which have been purchased from the company should be legal tender for rides on its cars to the value represented by them ; but on certain holidays the conductors refuse to accept city tickets, and charge a cash fare of double the price.
– The Melbourne tramways are to be handed over to the metropolitan municipalities in about eight years’ time.
– The system will then be worn out and obsolete. When the tramways of Melbourne are taken over by the municipalities, they will have to be electrified.
– The Sydney tram service, which is State owned, also had to be electrified some time ago.
– That is not the point. The contention raised by the honorable member for Fremantle is that privately controlled enterprises are more advantageous to the public than are those conducted by the State. The tram service of Sydney is owned by the people, and one may travel upon it anywhere within the city for a penny. So great are the advantages of that service to the people of Sydney, that I venture to say that it carries three times as many passengers as does the Melbourne Tramway Company.
– Then there is the Silverton Tramway Company.
– The Silverton Tramway Company is really a railway line. In every State there are Government monopolies, in the shape of railways, owned and controlled by the States in the interests of the people. In some partsof the Commonwealth there are also privately-controlled railway lines which offer us an object lesson in this regard. There is, for instance, a privately-owned railway line running from Moama, oh the Victorian border, some 50 miles inland to Deniliquin, which has been in existence for over thirty years; and a comparison will show that the fares and rates charged by the company are 50 per cent. higher than those charged for a like mileage on any of the State-owned railways. Then there is the Silverton tramway, which runs from the South Australian border into New South Wales. It is, as I have said, in reality a railway line, and the freights charged in connexion with it are higher than are those charged on the State-owned railways. There is also a privately-owned railway line in Western Australia, and the honorable member for Fremantle must admit that the service it provides is neither as comfortable nor as cheap as that supplied by the State.
– The rates on the Midlandline are the same as those on the Government lines.
– The honorable member cannot refute my statements. The same state of affairs prevails in connexion with the privately-owned railways of Tasmania. The reason for this difference in fares and freights is that in the case of the State the railways are only expected to pay, working expenses, interest on capital, and the necessary contribution to a sinking fund, and nothing more has to be added to the charges, whereas aprivately-owned railway has to provide dividends for shareholders.
– The railways of New South Wales and Victoria alone pay interest on working expenses.
– All the State-owned railways of the Commonwealth, with the exception of those of Tasmania, paid last year.
– During the great drought in New South Wales, when millions of stock were starving, fodder was carried practically free over the Stateowned railways from the seaboard to the drought-stricken country.
– And we put a duty on fodder.
– That is an irrelevant interjection. We were told by the honorable member for Fremantle that the people were better served by privately-controlled enterprises than by State-owned undertakings. In answer to the honorable member, I am pointing out that in a time of great emergency the State-owned railways of New South Wales proved to be in the interesfs of the people, and did much to save the stock and trade and commerce of the State. Not only was fodder carried over them for practically nothing, but starving stock were carried free to districts where food supplies were available.
– Was not the loss so incurred made good out of the consolidated revenue?
– That does not affect tha point I am endeavouring to make. I anc putting certain broad facts before the House as illustrating the advantages derived from the State control of our railways. Whilst the State services were helping stock-owners and others who suffered by reason of the drought, the privatelyowned railways in the State would not reduce their freights on stock or fodder.
– They had not the consolidated revenue of theState behind them.
– The directors had reserve funds at their disposal, and might well have said : “If, as the result of our failure to reduce freights, thousands of stock die, our returns later on will be materially reduced. In the circumstances, therefore, it will be well for us to reduce our freights, even if we have to entrench upon our reserve funds, because later on the bread thus cast upon the waters will return to us.” As long as the Government railways pay, the State is satisfied; but privately-owned railways have not only to provide a service, but to earn good dividends.
– The privatelyowned railways at the time in question refused to reduce the freights, just as this House refused to remove the duty on fodder.
– My honorable friend desires to draw me off the track. He knows that the House could not remove the duty without the consent of the States.
– The honorable member moved that it be removed, and was beaten.
– I did not go quite as far as that, but the honorable gentleman ought to know that the present Prime Minister on that occasion appealed to the States to agree to the remission of the duty on fodder for the time being, and that four out of the six States refused to do so.
– They could not prevent our remitting the duty.
– The honorable member ought to know better than that. He knows that I did my best to meet the special conditions that had arisen, but that the Government had to keep in mind the requirements of the Constitution. ‘ A comparison of the State-owned railways of Australia with those controlled by private companies is altogether in favour of the Government monopoly. The honorable mem ber for Fremantle referred to the privatelyowned railways in England and France, but forgot to point out that there is no monopoly in Great Britain. There a number of private companies are competing with each other, and that competition acts as a check against high freights. It is only when a monopoly is created - when all those engaged in a certain industry are brought under one central control - that danger arises.
– Would the honorable member nationalize an industry in which that state of affairs existed?
– If I found that there was in Australia an industry so controlled by a combine as to destroy competition, and unduly to inflate prices, I should not have the slightest hesitation in giving my vote for State control in the interests of a better service, because that is what I call an injurious monopoly. I have no objection to two, three, or more traders combining in the interests of their trade, so long as, in the absence of competition, they do not endeavour to bleed the public.
– How would the honorable member nationalize the Inter-State shipping of Australia?
– By owning the ships.
– Would the honorable member not allow private companies to compete ?
– No one objects to competition of a healthy character, because then there can be no injurious effects on the community.
– We could not conceive of a State allowing private companies to run railways parallel with the State railways.
– But I have to consider that, because such is the state of affairs in New South Wales, where there are private companies which carry traffic that otherwise would be carried on the State railways. As to the Post and Telegraph Department, the honorable member for Fremantle must recollect that, prior to Federation, we had to pay much more for the transmission and delivery of our communications in the several States ; and people have gained immensely by Federation in this connexion.
– That is another matter.
– But the whole speech of the honorable member for Fremantle was directed against the Post and
Telegraph Department as an injurious monopoly. The honorable member girded at the members of the Postal Commission, and took it for granted that the fact that such a body was in existence proved that State control had been a failure, and that the best thing would ‘be to allow private capitalists to provide the services. Before Federation, it cost 3s. and 4s. to send a telegram from New South Wales to Western Australia, and in Sydney the charge was 6d. within a certain radius, and is. beyond. Similar conditions prevailed in Victoria ; but now it is possible to send a telegram anywhere within the Commonwealth for is. The former high charges were caused by the fact that each State through which the message was conveyed required payment; and the change since Federation has undoubtedly been to the benefit of the people. There could be no greater proof that under proper control by the State many advantages are gained by the community. I am sure that the PostmasterGeneral and the late PostmasterGeneral will agree with’ me that if the telephone system had been under private control, we should not have had one-tenth of the mileage that now exists in the Cornman wealth.
– I do not think it would have been possible to have such an enormous service as there is at present at such a cheap rate.
– That is another fact which should carry a great deal of weight. Privately-owned enterprises are moneymaking from their initiation, and the moment they fail to return profits they die. In the case of the State, however, it is not the desire to observe strictly commercial lines ; the work is regarded as national and in the interests of the people; and, so long as it pays, and provides for the redemption of loan moneys, and so forth, nothing further is demanded. All country members know how difficult it is to get the telephone service extended; but, at the same time, numbers of connexions are being made which have no prospect of paying interest for years to come. It is recognised, however, that the telephone system is a national service for the purpose of developing the country, and it could not possibly be adequately provided by a combination of capital. In the Old Country the post and telegraph services were originally in the hands of private individuals, but even there the trouble, inconvenience, and cost were so excessive that it was found necessary to resort to’ nationalization.
– And the same will be done in regard to the English railways byandby.
– Undoubtedly. What reasonable man can object to the motion, which simply asks the people of Australia to give this Parliament certain powers? We know that if a power be given it need not be exercised, unless the evil is present; but the mere fact that there is such a power prevents the injury which it is the object of this motion to prevent. We may look, on control by the States, as compared with Federal control, as a kind of private enterprise, and the honorable member for Wilmot .and others who are interested in the question of the potato blight have seen how easy it is for the States to utilize their laws to prevent the importation of products under a system of inspection. If there were one central control, the introduction of produce or stock would be permitted to any part of Australia under certain conditions - that is, not a whole State, but only certain districts, would be quarantined as the necessity arose. My experience teaches me that every service that the Commonwealth has undertaken has been vastly to the benefit of the community, as compared with the results under the control of the States, and vastly more than could possibly be hoped for under private enterprise. The honorable member for Fremantle denies that there is any combination in the meat trade, and asserts that mutton can be bought for id. and 2d. per pound. 1 should like the honorable member to tell us where meat can be purchased at that price, because I know that, for months past, in Victoria and New South Wales, the butchers have been charging up to lod. and is. per pound for very ordinary meat. I do not assert that the stock-owners have reaped the benefit of the high prices, and I do not deny that possibly sheep or cattle may have recently been sold in the yards at lower prices than previously ; but I do know that the housewife, who has to foot the butcher’s bill, is not getting her supplies at anything like the prices quoted by the honorable member. I do not know whether there is a combination amongst those engaged in the meat supply business, but, if there is, and it has the effect of placing a burden on the people, it would be better to have State intervention than to allow the people to be crushed. If the power asked for were given to this Parliament, I should never be found attempting such, silly action as that suggested by the honorable member for Fremantle, when be said that, under nationalization, every little shop would be taken over by the State. When we find the Government failing to get sufficient evidence to make our industrial laws effective in the matter of monopolies which are known to exist, it is quite time that this Parliament had more power. In the one or two test cases which have been tried by the Courts, we have been told that our legislation is not constitutional. We can make it constitutional only by asking the people to give us the necessary power. ‘If the people, who are the controllers of their own destinies, say that they want that done, it -ought to be done. If they do give the Federal Parliament that power, it will be the duty of the Parliament, whenever an injurious monopoly is found, to take it over and control it for the benefit of the people and the commerce of Australia.
.- We should be in a better position to gauge what is really meant by this motion if honorable members opposite would say definitely what they mean by the term ‘ monopolies. ‘ ‘ A monopoly is the exclusive right to sell or produce a certain article, and that exclusive right nowadays can be obtained only by some control of the means of transportation, or by a direct Government privilege given to the producer or seller.
– The Colonial Sugar Refining Company have neither, and yet they have a monopoly of the trade in Australia.
– It may be possible at any given moment to decide that a. person or corporation is the only one dealing in a certain article within the confines of Australia; but there is nothing in the constitution of the particular corporation referred to which will enable it absolutely to control the market in Australia and exclude from it any competitor who chooses to enter the lists. Only a short time ago, there was a large competing firm of sugarrefiners in Melbourne which was also putting up works in Sydney. I believe it has since been bought out by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, but still that incident shows the possibility of competition.
– It shows the impossibility of competition.
– If competition was impossible, where was the necessity for the Colonial Sugar Refining Company .to buy the other company out when it could have let it die out?
– The other company had to sell out, or be crushed out.
– My honorable friends are now trying to show that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, which .has been referred to as an octopus, is really a philanthropic institution, which is prepared to buy out firms that it could choke out ! The present target of honorable members opposite is the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. A year or two ago, it used to be the Tobacco Monopoly, which was held up to universal execration. We do not hear so much of that now since my honorable friends have discovered that it is really a beneficent institution. In those days, when, like the Sydney Bulletin, they thought the Tobacco Trust was an obnoxious institution, they instituted a Commission to inquire into its operations. That body, whose report was signed by Labour members, decided that the Tobacco Monopoly was not a complete, but a “ partial monopoly.” Are we to understand from the motion now before the House that honorable members opposite wish to take power to nationalize “ partial monopolies,” for it is made clear by the report of their own Commission that we cannot find a complete monopoly in Australia ? If they propose to take power to nationalize partial monopolies, they will be able to nationalize any of the successful business institutions that are the very proper subjects for greed and envy. I take it that my honorable friends are honest men. They are certainly honest in all their private dealings, and I presume they are going to be honest in their public enterprises. Being honorable men, therefore, I presume that they are going to pay for whatever industries they nationalize. Am I right in that assumption of their honesty ?
– Hear, hear !
– Then let me assume that we take the power to nationalize partial monopolies, and that my honorable friends opposite are going to pay for them. Here, then, is a bill in the first year for between £20,000,000 and ,£30,000,000. My honorable friends have sufficient confidence in Australia to know that that sum will be a mere bagatelle if it pays us to run those industries.
– Of course, there are no assets !
– If the honorable member intends to realize on the assets, he will put them again into private circulation; but surely he wants to nationalize those industries, not to provide billets for friends, but in order to run them for the national benefit? If so, he must hold those assets, and, although they are realizable, he must raise money to purchase them, and that will mean in the first year the raising of between twenty and thirty million pounds for a start. Now, my honest and honorable friends opposite have recently declared themselves before the people of Australia as being prepared to die in the last ditch rather than borrow a cent on behalf of the Commonwealth. It is only fair, therefore, that we should analyse their platform pledges.
– The honorable member knows that that is- not true.
– The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it. I meant that the statement was not correct.
– My statement may be incorrect, but it was based on a plank in the Labour party’s platform, which declares against any borrowing whatsoever. My honorable friends may have some mental reservation when they go before the public on a no-borrowing policy.
– - Does it not also say “except for reproductive works?”
– Not in the Commonwealth platform, but I admit that the honorable member has made a closer, and perhaps more interested, study of the Labour platform recently than I have. If he will refresh his memory on this point he will find that the platform says baldly and simply “ no borrowing.”
– It does not. It says “ restriction of public borrowing.”
– Then I am to understand that my honorable friends are prepared to borrow? There is no borrowing by the Commonwealth at present, and they propose to initiate borrowing, and in doing so they say they are honouring their pledge “ to restrict public borrowing.” My honorable friends’ methods are rather casuistical. They have a singular contempt for the intelligence of the Australian electors if they think that that sort of thing will go. down. They suggest that there is an excuse for borrowing to nationalize - industries, and their platform says that there must be restriction of public borrowing. They will therefore see that the sooner they are quite honest and open with the public the better for themselves as well as for the representative character of a House of this kind.
– We are going to spend on monopolies the money that honorable members opposite propose to spend on Dreadnoughts.
– I understand that there are certain considerations which prevent my honorable friends from supporting anything of an Imperial nature like the Dreadnought gift, and compel them to subscribe more particularly to subjects of a “national” brand, in the sense of the “nationalist” brand that is disturbing the public peace in another part of the world. My honorable friends opposite, with all their manifest qualities and virtues, apparently do not possess the business instincts which would enable them to run great enterprises like the various large combines and trading combinations that have been referred to. The only time I ever heard them really anxious and excited about the value of private enterprise was when a suggestion was put before the House some time ago to nationalize in an indirect way the business of a union secretary. The honorable member for North Sydney proposed on that occasion that, as the cost for arbitration to the employ^ through his union, varied from 66. to is. 6d. per week, while the actual cost of the Arbitration Court to the community generally, was something like a farthing or a half-penny a week, we might do a beneficent action to the poor worker by starting a bureau before which any man whose wage receipts were stamped every week would have the right to appear and have his grievance heard. When we proposed thus ‘ indirectly to nationalize the monopoly of the union secretary, honorable members opposite pointed out, as we might very easily point out now, that no Government Department could ever hope to carry out an agency that was so intricate, that had such ramifications, and that required such a high order of intelligence and business capacity as that of a union secretary ! I listened to my honorable friends opposite with great respect upon that occasion, and I hope they will hold the same views now that somebody else’s job is proposed to be nationalized. As I was saying, they are hardly business men. 1 hold in my hand a proposition, signed by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, who was one of the Ministers in the late Labour Administration, on a very excellent subject. With alarge portion of the report I am completely in accord ;but I wish to draw attention to the particular part of it which is Socialistic, in order to show what business men we have among my honorable and distinguished friends opposite. The proposition was for the acquisition by the Commonwealth of horses for military purposes. The Commonwealth was to buy horses, according to the honorable member’s proposal, and let them out from week to week to people who cared to use them, at 7s. 6d. per week each. From the point of view of the horses, I do not think that proposition will meet with much indorsement. In his report the honorable member for Hindmarsh says : “ There will beavailable for hire 1,011 horses, whose total earnings, at 7s. 6d. per week, would be£19,000.”
– Is not that report signed bv two departmental experts as well?
– Theywere not departmental experts on the subject of hiring out horses, or on business enterprises. The report generally is on the question of the ownership by the Commonwealth of horses for military purposes.
– Read the whole of the signatures.
– I shall read them after explaining the subject. The report is on the horsing of the artillery, and, associated with the honorable member for Hindmarsh, who was probably the only Socialist on the Board-
– And who certainly wrote the report.
– And who certainly wrote the report - were two departmental officers, who were there to inquire into the question of horsing the artillery, and not into the question of hiring out horses for public use.
– They signed the report.
– They did ; butI suppose they could not very well score a blue pencil through the Minister’s own words on a subject upon which they were not called upon to advise.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh was not on that Committee as a Minister.
– The ex-Minister’s colleague is naturally anxious that I should not be allowed to proceed withthis matter ; but I hope he will permit me to do so. The only section of the report at which I am cavilling dealt with the hiring out of certain horses bought by the Government, and it is ridiculous to suppose that two officers of the Defence Department have any views on the business merits of a proposal of that character. The report is signed by the Hon. James Hutchison, member for Hindmarsh, and Minister in the late Labour Administration. It contains this statement -
It is proposed that no horse belonging to the Defence Department shall be hired to any person unless such person can satisfy an officer that the hirer has good stabling, good feed, and that the horse will be properly cared for. A regular inspection will be made to see that the horses are in good health, free from lameness, and in good condition.
Then comes this passage, which I particularly commend to the attention of honorable members -
Any horse showing signs of sickness or overwork will be spelled at the various depots, and a horse from a unit will take its place until the horse is fit for work.
This is an encouragement to hirers of Government horses to get as much work as possible out of the animals, because they are told that when one set is knocked up they can get a fresh relay. That is a fine business arrangement !
– Is it provided that horses used in bakers’ carts shall not be driven faster than 4 miles an hour?
– If there were such a provision, it would only show that the honorable member for Hindmarsh had regard to the interests of the Commonwealth in the control of its business !
– Is the honorable member aware that Switzerland hires out its military horses?
– I am not aware that Switzerland lets out its public horses to private individuals on the understanding that animals driven to death will be replaced with fresh horses. Noother illustration would better serve to show the absurdity of allowing honorahle members opposite to manage the business enterprises of Australia. Until information is forthcoming as to what is meant by the term “ monopoly,” on what conditions it is proposed to acquire monopolies for the Commonwealth, and what guarantees as to capacity for management can be given by honorable members opposite, the House will be wise to have nothing to do with the proposal of the honorable member for Wer- riwa. Honorable members opposite may well be allowed to win whatever applause they may by bringing forward suggestions of this kind, where such clap-trap will go down without contradiction, and where approbation may be secured from those who have not the time or ability to properly study these questions for themselves.
.- The speeches of the honorable members for Fremantle and Wentworth contain large admissions of the strength of the case of the honorable member for Werriwa. If nothing more can be said against the motion than they have said, the House must carry it by an enormous majority. Many of the remarks of the honorable member for Fremantle seemed to have no connexion with the subject. Had he studied the history of the Roman Empire more closely, he would know that, in its most brilliant period, its business affairs were conducted by unions, which were held responsible for the laches of their members. Still, these facts are only remotely connected with modern social conditions, and have no bearing on the proposal for the nationalization of monopolies. The shareholders and directors of our combines, trusts, and monopolies, will read with great amusement the statements of their champions. They will laugh when they hear that it has been said that their great aim is to increase employment and to better the conditions of labour, and will think the members of the House very silly persons for listening to such remarks. Every one knows that the chief object of combination is the increasing of profits by the perfection of organization. When the whisky mills of the United States fell into the hands of a combination, only twelve of the forty-nine were kept open, the industry being centralized where the largest returns could be obtained, the number of its employes being consequently lessened. We, who favour, the nationalization of monopolies, recognise that their success is due to superior organization, but if they were State-owned, they would be managed by brains similar to those which now manage them, which would be a guarantee of future success. The honorable member for Wentworth spoke flippantly, because be knows that the facts are against him. He suggested that we, on this side of the House, should personally supervise and control all State-owned industries, and he asked what business knowledge we have. Honorable members opposite associate business enterprise wholly with profit-making.
They would have a new light on the subject were they to read what the workingmen of Belgium - a very poorly-paid class of employes - have done, not with the aid of thousands or of millions of pounds of capital, but by the economical management of their pence and shillings.
– Honorable members opposite are against the co-partnership to which the honorable member is referring.
– We are not, though our point of view differs from that of the honorable member. We consider, first, the interests of the community, not those of individual shareholders. Co-operative concerns in Belgium and England have a turnover of ^125,000.000 per annum, and a profit of over ^10,000,000. They were commenced with very little capital, and I claim that it would not be necessary foi the Commonwealth to borrow largely to secure the ownership of such monopolies as it might wish to acquire. There is not yet a majority in favour of putting under Commonwealth control such monopolies as may be deemed injurious to the public, but when there is, we, on this side, will be prepared to show how it can best be done. The honorable member for Wentworth condemned the proposal on the strength of some regulations apparently drawn up bytwo military officers. The honorable member for Fremantle, having heard the honorable member for Werriwa mention the word “beef” in his speech, rushed round Melbourne to ascertain its local price, and then told us exactly what it can be bought for. He failed to understand that the honorable member foi Werriwa was referring; to the Beef Trust of the United States.. That Trust is getting a grip of Australia,, and 1 can say from absolute knowledge that, but for the existence of the socialistic abattoirs of the municipalities of Melbourne and Richmond, the meat supplies of the metropolis would be controlled by a combination. That is now prevented by the fact that butchers can get animals killed at the public abattoirs. The honorable member for Wentworth admitted that trustshave not been able to grow up quickly in Australia because the States own most of the means of transit. Where State-owned lines can be compared with privately-owned lines, the comparison, from the point of view of the public interest, is always in their favour. For instance, the second class fare from Deniliquin to Echuca, a privately-owned railway is 9s., while for the same distance - 45 miles - on the Victorian railways a passenger is charged only 4s. 4d. In Tasmania, ‘ the passenger rate ‘ on the State-owned lines is 7s. 2d., as against 22s. on a private line. A similar comparison could be made in Queensland, and like remarks apply to goods rates. Furthermore, the rates on the State-owned lines are low, notwithstanding the almost entire absence of competition. If State management is a good thing in connexion with railway control, why should it not be a good thing in other matters, and especially in regard to sea transit? At present, the public is being overcharged by a ring of ship-owners.
– Freights are always cheapened where there is the competition of water carriage.
– Water carriage is always cheaper than land carriage, though on the Australian coast it is not as cheap as it should be. If the people of the States owned the steam-ships as they ought to do, the public would be advantaged. When interrupted, I was about to mention that the carriage of stock and fodder /over our railways is of the utmost importance to stock-owners, and the people generally of New South Wales and other parts of the Commonwealth. During the last great drought, we lost 50,000,000 stock, representing a value of £25,000,000, to say nothing of the. loss of their progeny and the annual value of the wool, of which we were thus deprived, tin times of drought, the lives of thousands of stock are saved by their removal from one district to another, and the State-owned railways materially assist in that work by a substantial reduction in freights. Then again, in the Cobar district, which is within my electorate, during the drought people were supplied with water carried over the railways for a distance of 1 20 miles. That water was conveyed almost free of charge, in order that the people might be kept there. Would such a thing have been done by a private railway company? I think not. Private enterprises take advantage of the difficulties of the people, and when they are cornered, make them pay for it. If they did not do so, they would not know how to manage their business. The honorable member for Wentworth says that the Labour party are not business men ; and we are glad to say that in that sense we are not. We desire to introduce an entirely new system of conducting business enterprise, and Labour has shown, in the management of friendly societies and great co-operative enterprises, that it is far more successful in business than is the capitalist. Capitalists can manage to pull along when they talk in millions, but their enterprises are often absolute failures. The whole system of private enterprise is wrong. I recognise that isolated cases are not to be cited as substantial evidence one way or the other, but I would remind the honorable member for Fremantle that in dealing with this question he overlooked certain illustrations which might well have been drawn from the experiences of his own State. He did not mention that the people on the goldfields there had to pay 25s. per 100 gallons for their water until the Government, of which Sir John Forrest was the leader, carried out the great Coolgardie water supply scheme. With the completion of that scheme, the price of water on the gold-fields was at once materially reduced.
– It is now supplied to some of the mines at 3s. 6d. per 1,000 gallons.
– Three shillings and sixpence per 1,000 gallons, as against 25s. per 100 gallons ! That, indeed, is a record. As the time allotted for the consi’deration of Orders of the Day has almost expired, I ask leave, Mr. Speaker, to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
.- I move -
That, with a view to securing the most accurate information for Parliament in relation to anomalies in the present Tariff - the continuous watching of the operations of the Tariff as to preference, and questions relating to the effect of duties on industries - the relationship of duties, on raw material to the manufactured article - the inauguration and encouragement of new industries, or the development of natural resources for manufacturing and agricultural purposes, a permanent competent body on the lines of the British Board of Trade, which shall include representatives of the principal staple interests affected by Customs Tariff Acts, should be at once appointed by the Government.
I do not for one moment desire, in submitting this motion, to postpone the consideration and rectification of anomalies of which the Government are already aware, and which can be remedied without anyparty strife or industrial or commercial upheaval. I am- also anxious that it should be clearly understood that I do not anticipate by this motion a tearing-up or wholesale revision of the present Tariff.
– It would seem that the honorable member is trying to anticipate Government action.
– I do not know that that is of any importance. I certainly thought of this scheme before the Government mentioned it, so that, if they accept mv motion, I shall be well pleased. I do not anticipate an immediate change or a complete revision of the present Tariff, but, as a Protectionist, I am thoroughly convinced that even the present Tariff, which represents the high-water mark of Protection yet reached by the Commonwealth Parliament, will be shown by experience to present many anomalies.
– It includes many revenue duties.
– Experience will prove that it includes many revenue duties which ought not to exist, and omits a great manyrevenue duties which might be imposed with advantage to the Commonwealth and injury to no one. I voted for the remission of the duty on tea, and subsequently told my constituents that I deeply regretted having done so. By the removal of that duty, we have deprived the Commonwealth of a large amount of revenue, and have not benefited one consumer.
– We do not grow tea.
– That is so; but we are talking now of revenue duties.
– We cannot say what Australia will grow till it has been fullydeveloped.
– Quite so. As a teadrinker, I fail to see why I should not bear some burden of the cost of government by means of a duty on that commodity. I am convinced that the remission of the duty has not benefited any one. I learn from tea blenders that by means of judicious blending they can secure is. 6d. per lb. for a certain tea, just as easily as they could obtain is. pei lb. for it. They can so manipulate the blends as to pocket the amount of the abandoned duty.
– If we agree to impose a duty on tea, will the honorable member be prepared to remove the duty on hats?
– That interjection is neither relevant nor personal. The removal of the duty on hats would not affect me in the least degree. A duty on kerosene might prove burdensome, but it is certainly open to discussion. As the honorable member for Melbourne has suggested there are in the Tariff a large number of revenue-produc- ing items, which ought not to be revenue - producing. Take, for instance, the duty on cotton goods. I have yet to learn that one person has benefited by the reduction of the duty on that line to 5 per cent.
– The white workers have since gone ahead “by leaps and bounds.
– I do not think so. It cannot be said that any one has, by reason of that action on our part, obtained cotton goods cheaper than before. I am assured bv large distributors, both in Sydney and Melbourne, that it has meant for them a handsome increase in profit, and no benefit to the consumer.
– One can hardly get an English shirt here now owing to the advances made by the local white workers.
– But that is not (he only line covered by the item of linen piece goods. We might arrange for a drawback in the case of goods required (or manufacturing purposes. To conclude that the Commonwealth Parliament has settled the Tariff issue for all time ; that it is no. again to become an important factor in legislation- and that before many years have passed - is to overlook the experience of Canada, Germany, and America.
– Then why do not the Government do something in the direction of Tariff revision?
– Because the time is not ripe for action. The honorable member knows that the honorable member for Hindmarsh, as a member of the Labour Government, stated that it was not the intention of his colleagues to interfere in any way with the Tariff until we had had a three years’ experience of its working. That was a reasonable statement to make.
– The Government dare not touch it.
– They dare do anything that becomes a man, or else I shall not support them. During the last fifty years there have been no less than five important revisions of the Tariff in America. In 1861. as the result of the first Tariff, only about £8,000,000 was derived from Customs duties. In 1866, however, a year after the close of the Civil War, the revenue from that source amounted to no less than £35,000,000. I am well aware that special revenue duties were imposed for war purposes, but it was ascertained that man)’- of those duties were legitimate, that they imposed no ‘burden on any section of the community, that they were easily collected, and that while they were not protective in their incidence, they did no injury to the consumer. The same argument will apply to items to which I have referred. There are on the free list many items which might well be made revenue-producing, without doing injury to any one.
– That is Revenue Tariffism, not Protection.
– I shall show that I am ns” much in favour of Protection as any honorable member on the other side. I do not think that my position as a Protectionist can be challenged ; and what I am suggesting is quite compatible with absolute Protection. When the Victorian Tariff was the most scientific and the most highly protective, it produced more revenue per capita than it did under other conditions; and revenue-raising duties are quite in consonance with even prohibitive duties. Then followed in the United States the Tariff Commission Law of 1883. American experience appears to have been very like Federal experience. There was a Tariff Commission which visited “a~ great number of the States, and called some thousands of witnesses ; and in the main it proposed considerable reductions. The Government; however, completely ignored the report” and recommendations of the Commission, and put on all-round duties something like 20 per cent, higher than was suggested. This was done with the assistance of many Democratic votes. Then followed the McKinley Tariff of 1890, the Wilson Tariff of 1894, the Dingley Tariff of 1897, and the Payne-Aldrich Tariff of this year. The last mentioned is one of the most farreaching, powerful, and scientific Acts that, according to the Times New York correspondent, has ever been considered by the American Legislature.
– The duties have not been reduced much.
– Very little. A large number of duties have been reduced, but a still larger number of duties have been increased ; and the Tariff has been made more scientific.
– In a most deceptive way.
– That is a matter of opinion. At any rate the Tariff and the regulations have been, according to the Times correspondent, made more protective and effective, and, at the same time, more revenue producing, than under any Act ever placed on the statute-book of the United States.
– A Tariff cannot be both protective and revenue producing.
– There, I say, the honorable member is wrong. Apart from the inauguration of what many think will be a permanent system of direct Tariff law, this Act will impose 25 per cent, additional duties on all importations from countries which discriminate against the United States.
– Hear, hear !
– I do not think the honorable member would say “ Hear, hear!” if that Act applied to Australia. However, the Act does not discriminate against countries which are dependencies or part of an Empire ; and so long as we make our preferential duties apply only to Great Britain, the extra duties will not be imposed on Australian products. But if, in our preference, we go beyond Canada, New Zealand, or the Empire generally, we shall be subject to. the discrimination. The most drastic provision in the new law, and one of great interest to Australia, is that relating to invoices, methods of valuation, and the increased powers of the Board of General Appraisers. The amendments on these points occupy about fifty pages of the Act ; and the duty of the nine appraisers will be to constitute themselves a Court of Appeal in regard to disputes. From their decision there will be no further appeal.
– By whom are they appointed ?
– The President is empowered to appoint them immediately on the passing of the Act. Another interesting innovation is what is called a new method of direct taxation in the form of a graduated income tax on all the profits of industries over £1,000. In other words, the large monopolists and manufacturers of America will be called upon to pay a very considerable tax on the whole of their profits over that amount. This is said to be a most remarkable measure for using the Customs revenue machinery, for the purpose of direct taxation. The amount to bc raised is, of course, largely conjecture ; but it is said will run into millions of pounds per year, and that no one will be injured; while the revenue of the United States will be largely benefited. This is a matter thai is worthy of very serious consideration. U we could get for the public, by means of taxation, a part of the handsome profits that accrue in some lines of manufacture, it would be one means of raising revenue for defence or old-age pensions that should commend itself, at any rate, to the earnest thought of the Government.
– The Denton Hat Company might contribute 5 per cent, out of their 15 per cent, profit.
– Unfortunately, I am not a shareholder in that company ; but, if I were, I should not offer the slightest objection to a moiety of the profits going to the Government of the country, nor do I think the shareholders would object.
– Does the American law apply to the profits of importers?
– No; only to the profits of manufacturers. This provision was inserted in the Tariff Act, but at the request of the President it was withdrawn,, and embodied in a separate measure. Another fact that experience evidences is that in the United States the people are beginning to realize what national protection means. We in Australia have not realized its meaning yet. The Tariff debates in this House - the haphazard decisions that were arrived at, and the State jealousies that crept in - indicate clearly that we have not the faintest idea of what national protection is.
– Or nationality.
– Or nationality. This idea has been put very excellently by General Wm. F. Draper, president of the largest textile machine manufacturing establishment in America. General Draper is said to employ some 7,000 high-class mechanics, and to be one of the best employers in the iron industry of the United States. This gentleman has conceived an idea of national protection, which we have not anything like attained as yet. When we were discussing the timber duties, for instance, a large number of votes were given against, simply because the timber was grown in far-off Queensland, or because the duties hit some of the Melbourne manufacturers who refused to use Australian timber. The absence of a national spirit or national idea was evidenced in quite a number of ways, of which this is just an illustration. General Draper, speaking on the question to his constituents, said -
Now, ladies and gentlemen, it is evident that if Protection is to stand as a principle, it must be fairly and impartially applied. If Massachusetts asks Protection for her products consumed by other States, it is no more than fair that she should agree to Protection on the products of other States that she consumes. If woollens made in Massachusetts demand Protection the wool of Ohio and the far West is also entitled to it, and if the machines which manufacture it are protected I see no reason why the iron of Pennsylvania and Alabama which we consume should not be also - if it needs Protection to insure the profitable continuance of the business of making iron and the payment of American wages in that industry. More than this, the senators and representatives from other States will never agree that the products of Massachusetts shall be protected and theirs open to free foreign competition. They would rather have free-trade all round, and they would be perfectly right in taking this position.
I am quite convinced that a great many of the duties in our own Tariff were opposed from want of knowledge. Had we had expert opinion on the nature and capabilities of the various Australian woods, duties would have been imposed in many instances where we failed to secure protection. For instance, we were applied to time and again to impose a duty on spokes and rims used in the manufacture of vehicles; but it was urged by local manufacturers that, if that industry were protected - an industry which employed hundreds of men, and under the old Victorian Tariff enjoyed a fair duty - the carriage trade would be killed. One side affirmed and the other denied ; and, in the absence of expert evidence or practical demonstration, the duties were removed, with the result that the works are now absolutelyclosed. I am informed on the best authority that the very wood from which these spokes and rims were manufactured in Australia is. being cultivated in California. In nearly all the American magazines there ^ are advertisements offering land, said to * be specially adapted for the growing of this particular . kind of wood, and a large number of vehicles, exported from the United States, are made of the wood that we disdained and refused to protect.
– The honorable member is speaking of Australian wood planted in California?
– Yes. Another illustration is afforded by the discussion on the question whether there should be a duty imposed on medical instruments. It was said that instruments could be manufactured in Brisbane, but there was some doubt as to just the kind of instrument that could be produced there.
– It was an instrument produced by the glass industry.
– And also the silversmith industry.
– A number of Protectionists voted against the proposed duty.
– I am in the happy position of never having voted against any duty that has been proposed. I told my constituents, in regard to the timber duty, that Queensland growers had quite as much right to Protection as had the manufacturers of the finished article.
– The honorable member does not call that an anomaly? It is a new duty.
– It is also an anomaly for the reason that, in particular instances, we imposed a duty on articles that are not being manufactured here, and we have not yet protected articles that are being manufactured here. That is so in quite a number of cases. This particular proposal was sprung on the House ; and neither Ministers nor members had any information in regard to it. The voting, was entirely haphazard, and the result is an anomaly and an unscientific Tariff. The same remark applies to dozens of cases which arose during the passage of the Tariff, when the want of knowledge on the part of every one of us was most lamentable.
– The honorable member told us that he knew all about it.
– I did not say that I knew all about everything. I did not speak more than three times during the passage of the Tariff. No one will attempt to assert that the House placed the Tariff on the statute-book with a full knowledge or with anything like adequate knowledge, of every item that it dealt with.
– It never will.
– It never will, unless we take steps to obtain proper information, and appoint a tribunal to collect the information, which is quite possible and reasonable, and practicable, as I shall show directly.
Mr.Page. -What was the Tariff Commission appointed for but to get that information for us ?
– The Tariff Commission demonstrated clearly the need for a body constituted as I propose. What should we have done without the Tariff Commission? We did not altogether follow their proposals, but they certainly gave us an amount of information and guiding without which we should have been in a sorry plight. My contention is that the principle underlying the investigations and reports of the Tariff Commission should be permanent - that we should have somebody continuously at work ascertaining the benefits of the Tariff, anomalies in the Tariff, and the possibilities of establishing and encourag ing new industries. Take the vexed question of the relationship of rawmaterial to the manufactured article, which brings me to the anomaly mentioned by the honorable member for Melbourne. There hasbeen a great agitation in reference to the duties which we put upon piece goods. Our decisions were of a drag-net character. We put duties not only upon woollen piece goods used by men, and manufactured in our own factories, but on dress piece goodsthat we thought came into competition with woollen piece goods. That is said to behaving, and I believe is having, a very detrimental effect upon a number of our manufacturers.
– It is causing more cotton goods to be made and used, and so doing our own trade an injury.
– At a deputation which waited upon the Minister of Customs recently, it was urged that the effect of the duty has been really, as the honorable member for Melbourne says, to prevent the better class of piece goods being used by the average working woman, and not in any way to protect the Australian manufacturer. The woollen mills declare that if there can be secured to them the manufacture of tweeds - woollen piece goods wornby men - they will have a market that they will not be likely to overtake for a considerable time unless new factories arestarted, and I believe that they offer no opposition to women’s piece goods being considerably reduced in duty, if not made free altogether. But the difficulty is in discriminating. Even the cotton piece goods are manufacturedin pattern, and style, and thickness, in such a way that it is extremely difficult to discriminate between them and the lower classes of woollen goods manufactured not only in Australia but in other parts of the world. It is a matter for expert advice, decision, and vigilance, because there is no doubt that as the result of this anomaly a very great amount of woollen goods come into Australia designated as cotton goods. The Minister of Trade and Customs, Senator Sir Robert Best, said, in reply to the deputation that waited on him -
I must confess I am very sorry to hear the rather gloomy tale told in connexion with this industry. Of course, the representations that are made are entitled to the most serious consideration. As to the statements regarding dumping, I know, from what you have said and from other inquiries I have made, that there is much room for complaint in this direction. I am sorry, indeed, if the provisions of our law at present are not sufficient to deal with the cases that have been made out.
He appears to admit that a very strong case had been made out -
It will be my duty to further take into consideration this question of dumping, wilh the object, if possible, of granting some relief. Stress has been laid on the very low prices at which the goods are invoiced, but X would point out that the duties are not necessarily charged on the prices set out in the invoices, but on what would be the real value of the goods at the port of export.
The mode of arriving at the value of goods in Australia under our Customs Act has proved inoperative and ineffective in America, where a very radical and farreaching change has just been made. These goods are exported, say, from Berlin, at the’ end of the season, when their value in Berlin is nothing like their real market value. It is on their value at the time they are exported that our Customs House has the right to base the duty. In America, as I say, a radical change has now been made, and a description of it is given in the London Times of 20th July, which contains a special supplement devoted entirely to the new American Tariff and its incidence and effects. The new provision in the American Tariff Act is as follows :-
The actual market value or wholesale price, as defined by law, qf any imported merchandise which is consigned for sale in the United States, or which is sold for exportation to the United States, and which is not actually sold or freely offered for sale in usual wholesale quantities in the open market of the country of exportation to all purchasers, shall not in any case be appraised at less than the wholesale price at which such or similar imported merchandise is actually sold or freely offered for sale in usual wholesale quantities in the United States in the open market, due allowance by deduction being made for estimated duties thereon, cost of transportation, insurance, and other necessary expenses from the place of shipment to the place of delivery, and a commission not exceeding 6 per centum, if any tas been paid or contracted to be paid.
And it is added that -
The President is authorized to appoint a Board of nine general appraisers of merchandise, the salary of each to be $9,000 (£1,800) per annum, who shall possess all the powers of a Circuit Court of the United States. To these genera] appraisers all cases of dissatisfaction with the amount and rates of duties levied by the appraisers and assistant appraisers at the various ports will be referred. This Board will exercise both judicial and inquisitorial functions. Appeal must be made by the importers to this Board within 15 days, or the original duties and charges will stand.
The article goes on to show that the marked difference between the new and the old practice is that, instead of taking the article at its supposed value in the market from which it is exported, the value must be taken in the wholesale warehouse in the country in which it is being distributed. A large importing house, some three or four years ago, imported a big line of mantles from Berlin, that were invoiced at something like 9s. 9d. each. That was ascertained to be their selling value at the time they were exported from Berlin, but when they reached Australia they were soli! at no less than 25s. 6d. apiece. There were hundreds of dozens of them, so that a very handsome profit was realized by the importer. Under the Australian Act all that the Minister of Customs could do was to see that the duty was appraised on the value in Berlin at the time they were exported, which was 9s. 9d. each.
– That is not correct. The_ honorable member will find that it is the value at the port of shipment with all the charges added.
– Berlin was practically the port of export in this case.
– Hamburg is the port of export.
– For all practical purposes that makes no difference. The mantles were valued at 9s. 9d. each, and on that value, and no higher, the duty could be fixed.
– Some were sent here at 5s. 1 id. each, and that was the value on which the duty was paid.
– That is another illustration which proves my point conclusively. That case happened since the last Tariff was passed.
– The honorable member is wrong.
– A mere assertion by the honorable member for Hume that my statement is wrong does not make it wrong.
– It shows how well women could dress if it were not for the Tariff.
– As the honorable member for Melbourne has told the House, blouses, skirts, and mantles have been imported at .ridiculous values, because they were the end-of-the-season’s goods in the countries from which they were exported. In America, however, power has been taken to value importations at the rates prevailing in the country of importation.
– It seems to me that the honorable member is discussing the
Tariff of the United States, whereas I submit that he must confine his remarks to the desirability of establishing a Commission here for the purpose of inquiring into the matters to which he has referred.
– I have followed the honorable member very closely. He is quite justified in seeking to obtain support for his proposal by outlining the work done in the United States by a body similar to that which he wishes to have created. I rule that he is in order.
– I am citing American experience merely by way of illustration.
– Why give a thousand illustrations ? I intend to support the motion, but I cannot speak upon it, if the honorable member talks it out.
– There is not much in it, if the honorable member for Parkes intends to support it.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh intended to wait for three years before doing anything to rectify the anomalies in the Tariff. I propose that there shall be a tribunal to collect information in the meantime.
– I am ready to go on at once.
– The honorable member changes his opinions as often as his clothes.
– During the debate on the Tariff I suggested what the honorable member for Maribyrnong is proposing, the appointment of a permanent Commission. He is stealing my thunder.
– I have no desire to do so, and was not aware that I was taking action which was contemplated by the honorable member. The members of the Labour partyhave stated that they do not intend to interfere with the Tariff, but I propose that steps shall be taken to ascertain its effects.
– The Minister can obtain information without the assistance of a Board.
– Such a body as the honorable member proposes is not needed.
– The honorable member for Hume was not personally informed in regard to one-twentieth of the proposals submitted in the last Tariff, and had to admit his want of knowledge times without number. That statement is not a reflection tion upon him. It would be impossible for any man to grasp the thousand and one issues involved in a Tariff, but the experience of Canada, America, and Germany, shows that careful investigation is needed. Dumping can be properly dealt with only on the lines I have indicated. I suggest the need of watching for possibilities for encouraging new industries. No doubt, the honorable member for Hume was as desirous as any other honorable member of protecting existing industries and of encouraging the development of new ones, but an industry at Warburton, in which thousands of pounds have been invested for the utilization of wood, which is now wasted, was unable to obtain encouragement or protection, because there were no means for laying its claims before Parliament, and party and personal interests triumphed.
– To what industry does the honorable member refer?
– A wood-distilling industry, whose operations . have reduced the price of charcoal from £4 10s. to 35s. The concern is not a profitable one, and is not likely to pay without encouragement.
– Has it competitors?
– Yes; and could be effectively protected without injury to anyone. Then, we learn that in America, an enormous amount of work has been done by the experts under the Tariff Board. No fewer than 2,000 persons are engaged in the study of soils, and directing the employment of special seeds and fertilizers, so that nothing may be left to chance, and the maximum results may be secured.
– Those experts are doing the work done by the officers of our Agricultural Departments.
– Agriculture, and other primary industries, forestry, and mining, are so intimately connected with manufacture that all these questions must be investigated and dealt with by controlling bodies, if a Tariff is to be imposed which will benefit all and injure none.
– The work of which the honorable member speaks has nothing to do with Tariff reform.
– It has everything to do with it. These researches show how and where labour can be best employed, and how industries can foe protected without injury to the community.
– It would be dangerous to give a few men the powers which the honorable member proposes to give to a Board.
– I propose to give to the Board merely the power to ascertain and collate facts in a scientific manner, placing them before the Minister.
– To report to Parliament.
– Under this Government, nothing will come of the reports.
– The merits of the proposal are not to be judged by the opinions held regarding the present Administration. Honorable members must ask themselves this question : vis our present mode of dealing with Tariffs adequate or complete ? The best-informed Minister must be ignorant of the far-reaching character of many of the proposals contained in a Tariff, and we should try to profit by the experience of Canada, Germany, and America. Should this, or any other Government, refuse to comply with the will of the House, it could be dealt with.
– The honorable member proposes the establishment of a Board, whose duty will be to perpetually shelve proposals.
– That would be better than a perpetually ignorant Parliament. At present Parliament deals with Tariff proposals without the knowledge necessary for proper and scientific action.
– The reasons which the honorable member has advanced for the appointment of the proposed Commission would support a proposal for the appointment of a similar Commission for advising Parliament in regard to every important matter that comes before it.
– lt might be well to refer important measures to a Select Committee of experts for analysis and report. The members of the Labour party are always talking about progress, but when anything out of the ordinary course is proposed, they object that no good will come of it. Parliamentary methods, like the methods of all human institutions, are susceptible of improvement. Although we occupied months in dealing with the last Tariff, anomalies have already appeared, and that despite the fact that a Royal Commission’s investigations preceded its introduction.
– The reports of a Board would not have affected the votes of some of the Victorian members.
– They made a party question of the matter.
– The greater the pity. I have never done so, and have never voted against any duty proposed in regard to any industry in any part of Australia.
– If the honorable member intends in the future to vote for every duty that is proposed, he does not need information of the character for which he is providing. 1
– Will the honorable member say that Tariffs are submitted to us in a way of which he approves? When the last Tariff was under consideration, he was frequently urging the honorable member for Hume, who was in charge of it, to explain the effect of his proposals, and could not get the information he asked for.
– Had we known what some of the proposed duties meant, we should not have carried them.
– The interjection supplies a reason for supporting the motion. I do not desire that duties shall be carried unless they can bear the light of day.
– But the honorable member says that he has voted for all that have been proposed.
– Because I should have been charged with inconsistency had I not done so. Honorable members should be given the fullest information, and if the1.’ put aside their prejudices, they will be convinced that the establishment of a Board such as I propose is necessary in the interests of the community, and will benefit trade, being in every respect helpful, and in no respect injurious.
.- I should not have risen at this stage but for one or two observations made by members of the Opposition, and made, I think, without sufficient, if . any, consideration. They seemed to me to be based upon the assumption that no one could support this motion who was not in favour of protective duties. I have- no hesitation in saying that it is a motion of which every thoughtful Free Trader and Protectionist can well approve. I remarked jocularly in the course of the honorable member for Maribyrnong’ s speech that he was “ stealing my thunder.” I have no objection to the theft.
– I had no idea that I was doing so.
– I am sure that the honorable member is quite innocent of any such intention, ‘ and am glad that he has taken up this matter. I suggested more than once during the consideration of the Tariff that such a body as he proposes should be created, and I did so because of the example we had of the difficulty of having fiscal questions brought frequently before the Parliament upon insufficient consideration. We all remember that as the basis of the last Tariff struggle in this House a Commission was appointed, very fairly and, I think, well balanced. It comprised men eminently qualified to deal impartially with the questions submitted to it. They were equally balanced in their fiscal views, and it was hoped that, as a result of the Commission, this House, which is supposed to legislate, would be saved the perusal of barrowsful of printed or written documents sent to them by interested parties, and containing statements which were, in many cases, not only biased, but untrue. I have always seen great difficulty in dealing with ex parte statements made by manufacturers on the one side and by importers on the other, the manufacturer crying “havoc” as regards the importer, and the importer crying “havoc” as regards the manufacturer. When the Tariff Commission was being appointed I requested the then Prime Minister, the right honorable member for East Sydney, to take care that the innocent consumer was represented upon it. It seemed to be assumed that all that was necessary was to ascertain what the manufacturers of the States wanted, and, with a reasonable check upon their aspirations, to introduce a new Tariff without remembering’ that, after all, the consumer had to pay, and that it was our duty as representatives of the people to consider what effect any new Tarin5 might have upon them. That Commission was appointed. Its personnel, and the circumstances under which it was created, were in every way satisfactory ; but what was the result? The Commission spent months in investigating the circumstances surrounding the different industries with which we were going to deal ; yet we were inundated with all sorts of statements as to the merits of particular industries - an inundation from which we ought to have been saved. I placed almost the whole of those documents in the waste-paper basket, because I found that many were full of misrepresentations, and I hardly knew which to believe and which to distrust The honorable member who was then Minister of Trade and Customs, and who had the charge of the Tariff Bill in this House, instead of using the reports of the Commission for the purpose of throwing an impartial and judicial light upon the problems that we had to determine, in many, cases ignored its findings. In others he adopted the findings of only the Protectionist section of the Commission, but insisted, from time to time, in speaking of them as being those of “ the Commission.” That was of little consequence, so far as we were concerned, because we knew what were the findings of the Protectionist wing of the Commission and what were those of the Commission as a whole. The recommendations of the whole Commission were very often a compromise between the two extremes ; and should have been used as aguide; but the Ministers’ statements, so far as they were published in the press, went forth to the public as if that Commission, consisting of Free Traders and Protectionists, had actually recommended the ex parte proposals that he was putting before the House. I regret that many Protectionists in this House too willingly allowed1 themselves to be persuaded to adopt such proposals as if they were recommendations of the Commission, although only the findings of the Protectionist section of it. That was my reason for proposing that we should have a permanent body of unbiased men to watch the operations of the Tariff in the various aspects that have been dealt with by the honorable member for Maribyrnong, so that Parliament could be informed from time to time whether it was necessary to make alterations.
– Where would the honorable member obtain those unbiased men?
– I should not choose the honorable member as one.
– Nor should I choose the honorable member.
– I do not propose anything of the kind. We all remember - and this is only one instance of what may occur unless this Commission is appointed - the case of the ‘Panama hats. Some years ago the firm of Henty and Company, one of the most respectable ir> this city, imported certain hats from the Island of Formosa. That importation was: held up by the Department of Trade and Customs, and the firm was subjected to the humiliation of having it forfeited and sold in the public market. This House has never been able to ascertain the correctness or otherwise of the statement of Messrs. Henty and Company that the Customs authorities had exercised an arbitrary and biased opinion in forfeiting those hats. without taking the trouble of ascertaining whether their statement was correct or not.
– The Department acccepted the firm’s own valuation of the hats.
– The honorable member does not see the logic of my contention.
– There ought to have been an investigation.
– Quite so. An investigation was demanded, but could not be obtained. If such a body as is now proposed had been in existence all the facts would have been placed before us, and we should have known whether or not the Minister had merely persisted in his contention because, being wrong in the first place, he did not wish to undergo the humiliation of confessing his error when the truth came to light. Another reason why I think the proposed Board or Commission is necessary is that, as honorable members will have noticed, there is too much legislation, if I may so describe it, done to-day by regulation. It has become the habit of this Parliament to pass Bills in such a form as to give the Minister of Trade and Customs power to make regulations to do that which this Parliament itself ought to do. We are constantly being supplied with sheafs of regulations which prove on examination to be practically legislation with regard to our Customs. The Minister has been given great powers to alter the Tariff from time to time in relation to what he thinks are inconsistencies or anomalies. In the exercise of that power he has dealt with many matters which ought to have come before this House if we could have conveniently dealt with them without interfering with the ordinary routine of our business. In my opinion, no Minister ought to have such a power. Nothing should be done by a Minister which ought really to be dealt with by Parliament. I am sure that if some of the regulations which have been passed were inquired into it would be found that they depended very much on the fiscal belief of the Minister at the head of the Department at the time they were framed. The power to make regulations should be so limited as to make it immaterial what view the Minister of Trade and Customs held on the fiscal question. The appointment of the proposed Commission would obviate the present difficulty in that regard, for I take it that no regulation would be made having the effect of modifying exist ing Customs legislation except on Parliament’s recommendation. The Commission will have to be of an unbiased character. It must consist of men disconnected with political affairs, and with the manufacturing and importing industries - of men sufficiently above suspicion as to be fit for the high altitude which they will occupy.
– A little less than angels.
– I do not know how the honorable member thinks many high positions are filled at the present time. I do not know whether he would suspect our Judges of taking bribes or suppose that heads of public Departments can be influenced by backsheesh or commissions ; but I have a much higher belief in human nature than to imagine anything of the kind. Just as we can obtain, for our Bench and our public Departments, men of unbiased character - men above suspicion cf selling their judgments or their official powers - so I think we can obtain men to form this Commission who would be quite above suspicion. I have no sympathy with any honorable member who is constantly insinuating that we cannot get men with honest, well-balanced minds to fill these positions, and sufficiently honorable to enable us to accept their recommendations with confidence. I can only say that those who make such suggestions must have a low estimate of human nature.
– I think a quorum would be benefited by hearing this speech. [Quorum formed.]
– I was endeavouring to give reasons which seem to me capable of presentation in support of this motion ; and now I shall refer to the extraordinary interpretation which this House has puton the word “anomalies.” We know very well that prior to the appointment of the Tariff Commission, which led to ten or twelve months’ debate in the House, the complaint made by the honorable member for Hume and two or three others associated with him was that the Tariff was full of anomalies, which required to be amended. That was the spark which lighted the fire - the movement that led to a new Tariff and to the many months of discussion. The word “anomalies,” correctly speaking, has a very much more restricted meaning than that placed upon it in this House. But I venture to say that a Commission of the type of men which the honorable member has suggested would never by their recommendations stir up such a great fiscal struggle as was experienced two or three years ago. It occurred to me, in the course of the honorable member’s speech, that his proposal borders very much on the proposal which the Government have already made to establish a body in the nature of a Board of Trade. Honorable members opposite, when the honorable member for Maribyrnong was speaking, insinuated that it was very unlikely r.hat a Fusion Government would ever bring in such a Bill. I should like to say, without desiring to specially champion the Government, that I think they have already made a suggestion of legislation which will cover the proposals submitted by. the honorable member for Maribyrnong.
– Hear, hear !
– The Government propose, in the first place, an InterState Commerce Commission to which the question of new Protection is to be referred, and which I think should be invested with a number of other functions. If I am not mistaken in my recollection, the proposals of the Government include a body, the functions of which are in the nature of those of a Board of Trade. Any one who knows anything of the history of the British Board of Trade must be aware that during the last twenty years that State Department, which began in a very small way, has developed a number of functions and duties which were hardly contemplated at the beginning. I have had occasion to study the history of the Board of Trade; and any one who does the same will fee astonished at the multiplicity of the State energies which it is exercising at the present time. Such work as has been indicated this afternoon would come quite properly within its jurisdiction ; and I hope that when the Minister addresses himself to the question he will be able to tell us that what is now suggested in a separate motion is part and parcel of the comprehensive proposals which the Government intend to make in some Bill in the near future for the appointment of an Inter-State Commerce Commission. The difficulty will be the choice of men, if a separate body for the purpose be appointed as suggested by the honorable member for Maribyrnong ; not because there are not men honest enough for the position, but because they must be men not directly engaged in commerce or industry. They will have to oc cupy the same impartial position in regard to commerce and industry that Judges occupy in regard to the interests of suitors. Every business man knows that frequently in a Court a Judge has said, “I cannot deal with this case, because I happen to be a shareholder in such-and-such company.” That is only one instance of the very great care which men who sit on the Bench exercise in order to keep their minds in- a proper state of balance, so that there shall be no possible suspicion of their judicial and impartial attitude on any question that comes before them for trial. Lately, in a very important matter in the High Court, two Judges expressed their disinclination to sit, because some years ago they had been interested in certain legal proceedings which intimately, touched the issues they were being called upon to try. I hope that honorable members, who are not as familiar as I am, perhaps, with the personnel and morale of the different Benches of Australia, from that of the magistrates up to the High Court, will believe me when I say that I think there is no country in the world in which a finer, more impartial, and more judicial body of men sit on the Bench than in Australia. I quite believe that outside the legal profession, mercantile, or commercial people could be obtained who would apply the same impartial and judicial treatment to any question concerning the Tariff.
– The honorable member’ said just now that the Commission must not be men engaged in commerce.
– Quite so, not directly engaged; but they must be men with commercial knowledge. I possess commercial knowledge, having had many years experience as a ship-owner and merchant ; and if I were disposed to accept such a position - though I wish my suspicious fellow members to understand that I am not a candidate - I think T could hold the scales fairly. I commend the honorable member for Maribyrnong for submitting this motion, though I claim to be the godfather of it - if he will allow me to say so - seeing that it is exactly what I proposed when the Tariff was before us. The treatment of the recommendations of the last Tariff Commission by the honorable member for Hume was one of the chief causes why I made the proposal. I did not think that the honorable member dealt properly -or fairly with the Commis- sion on the report of which the Tariff was founded. Whether the suggestion in the motion be carried out as part of a more comprehensive scheme to be introduced by the Government, or whether it be done on a separate proposal bv the honorable member for Maribyrnong, I wish it all success. I shall be very glad to help in passing it into law in order that we may have a permanent and impartial tribunal to deal with difficult questions and thus relieve the House of detail. Every day it is becoming more apparent in the Parliaments of the world, that legislative bodies must cease dealing with details and confine themselves to general principles of legislation^ delegating the duty of collecting information to Commissions and Boards, which need not, but may be, embodied in the laws of the country
. - It is almost amusing to witness this newborn zeal displayed by the honorable member for Maribymong regarding the Tariff at the present time, and it is remarkable to find him and the honorable member for Parkes so much in agreement. I altogether disagree with the honorable member for Maribyrnong when he says’ that the Tariff is not in the satisfactory state it ought to be in because of the absence of information. There were hundreds of items on which we had all the information that was necessary. ‘.Information had been collected from all parts of the world by the very best experts; but what was the result? The reason that the Tariff is unsatisfactory is,’ principally, the action of the Victorian friends of the honorable member for Maribyrnong. Members of this House who went before the country pledged to Protection came here, and, time after time, voted, at any rate, for revenue duties; and those honorable members would do precisely the same if there were- a. hundred Commissions. It will be admitted, I think, that on the Tariff Commission there were not only able men from inside Parliament, but at least two from outside, of the character described by the honorable member for Parkes - business men of wide knowledge and high character, on whom we could rely. Did their reports influence honorable members? Not a single whit. It seems to me that the moment this Fusion Government are faced with something that should be done, they seek to relegate it to a Board or Commission, and thus provide a few more billets for some of their supporters. There is a great analogy between the proposal before vs and the proposal of the Prime Minister ; and each covers so much that it would require about fifty years before much information could be got on any one subject. The motion of the honorable member for Maribyrnong proposes the appointment of men who are to continuously watch the operations of the Tariff, consider its relations to preference - that is, they are to get information from Great Britain and all other countries - and deal with all questions relating to manufacturing and agricultural industries in view of our commercial relations, throughout the whole civilized world. 1 could understand a proposal to have a Board to report on anomalies, so as to leave the House no excuse for doing nothing. The honorable member for Maribyrnong has persistently tried to misrepresent my views in regard to the Tariff.
– I quoted from Hansard.
– It is one thing to quote, and another thing to give a wrong interpretation. I do not think that I voted for every duty proposed, because, in one or two cases, I thought the duty would be iniquitous; but there are very few duties that I did not support, and I am prepared to support higher ones. The honorable member for Maribyrnong, in reading a quotation from Hansard, gave the House the impression that, when speaking for myself, I was also speaking for my colleagues. What I said is absolutely correct, for does the honorable member believe ‘That any section of the House is going to deal with the Tariff - I do not say the anomalies - within three years? Nearly half of that time has expired now, and I am sure not- a single . honorable member is ready to open up the whole Tariff in the last session of this Parliament, unless it is the honorable member for Maribyrnong himself, and he will not be able to induce the Prime Minister to support him. But I do not think that even he is willing to open up trie whole Tariff within three years from the time of its passage. There is, however, no reason why we should not deal with anomalies now. Let me read from Hansard precisely what I did say -
– Does the honorable member or any one else believe that it was the desire of even the Protectionist section of this House that the Tariff should be re-opened until after the next election?
– That is not the point.
– We include in our programme, not shams, but schemes that can be carried out. After the Tariff had been in operation for three years - after we had been able to ascertain its anomalies and how it worked - we should undoubtedly have been prepared to give our industries the “protection they deserved and needed to encourage their extension.
I think it will be admitted that no one wanted to open up the whole Tariff. So far as anomalies are concerned, I am not aware that any member of the late Fisher Government, at the present moment, knows of any particular anomalies that require rectifying. We know of several small matters, but if the honorable member for Maribyrnong thinks anomalies ought to be dealt with now, and brings forward anythai ought to bc dealt with, he will have my support, and, I am sure, the support of every Protectionist in the House ; but I doubt if he will get that of the Ministerial side of the House. Certainly, if he tries to rectify anomalies, he will not have the support of those honorable members who used to sit iri the Opposition corner, who come mostly from Victoria, and who, when the Tariff was being considered, went against their professed principles.
– Did the Fisher Government’s inquiries lead to the discovery of many anomalies?
– We tried to do our work properly and conscientiously, but we had scarcely time to get in touch with our Departments. Several anomalies did come before the late Minister of Customs. and I saw some of them when 1 was acting in the Department, but they were not of sufficient importance to bring before Parliament at the moment. If it can be shown that there are anomalies working injury now to any of our manufacturing industries, why should we not deal with them? If the honorable member for Maribyrnong had produced any cases of that kind, instead of trying to obtain a good “advertisement for use at the next election, he would have done some good. Let him come down with anomalies, and ascertain whether honorable members on this side will help him to rectify them, before he says that we do not want to touch the Tariff for three years. Although the honorable member for Yarra was Minister of Customs for only a few months, he proposed, in the most practical way, to deal with the subject embodied in this motion. His method was far more satisfactory than that proposed by the honorable member for Maribyrnong. It was to ask the British Government to call an International Conference, in order to adopt a scheme that would protect the revenue, not only of Australia, but of the Old Country, and all other countries.
– That had no reference to Free Trade or Protection. It was only to protect the revenue.
– If it had embraced the whole of the proposals in this motion, it would not have effected anything at all.
– It would not have helped this House to decide whether there should be a duty or no duty in any particular case.
– I admit that; but ive ought to take these subjects by themselves, because no body of men could possibly expect to be experts on all of them.
– We can never get the work done unless the Government and the House do it.
– It is the duty of the Government and the House to do it. While it is quite true, as the honorable member for Parkes said, that, in dealing with the Tariff, we were supplied by manufacturers with a great deal of information which was not reliable, we were supplied also with a great deal that was reliable. I took considerable trouble in some cases to verify the information sent in, and when I found that an attempt had been made to mislead myself and the House, I threw it into the waste-paper basket. It does not matter what information we get in regard to different items, because some honorable members will vote for party purposes, and others will vote in a certain way because they have a foolish idea that if they do what is right, their constituents will not approve of it. They do not look at the justice of the thing at all ; but simply ask themselves how they will appear before their electors if they vote in a certain way. If that were not so, scores of the votes given on the Tariff by honorable members who then sat in the Opposition corner, would not have been given at all. I do not know how they are going to fare with their electors when they do go to the country. If they do not get a bad time, they ought to. If the Tariff is not what it ought to be. it is in the power of the Department to get all the information necessary. The honorable member for Hume may remember that, when it was introduced, I said to him in a casual conversation that the wisest course had not been adopted, as I should have liked to see all the raw materials that could not be obtained in Australia placed toy themselves. As a high Protectionist, I had no desire to see any duty imposed upon articles that are not grown or produced here, or are not likely to be in the near future. If we had known what raw materials could not be got in Australia at present, we should have known what measure of protection we were giving to certain industries. Instead of that, we had to take the whole thing haphazard, with the result that, while we appeared to be giving a high duty in some cases, we were really giving only a revenue duty, although that was not the fault of the House. The Customs Department, before the honorable member for Yarra left it, had begun to take note of the anomalies, and, if the honorable member for Maribyrnong will approach the present Minister of Customs, and see that that work is carried on, he will find that we can rectify the anomalies in about one-tenth of the time that would be taken if a Board such as he suggests were appointed. While it may be necessary later on to appoint a Board of that kind, it is not at all necessary now. The anomalies have been so few that even such a zealous member as the honorable member for Maribyrnong has not mentioned one of them in his speech today. Does he know of any anomalies?
– He cannot speak.
– Will the honorable member for Lang help him to abolish anomalies by making the Tariff higher than it is at present? This motion is a mere piece of advertising on the part of the honorable member for Maribyrnong, because the question for the Fusion party is how they are to act in regard to rectifying anomalies. Half of them would refuse to rectify them in the direction desired by the honorable member for Maribyrnong. They would vote for reducing duties, but the honorable member for Maribyrnong would not go with them in that. If he finds an anomaly where the duty is too low,, the honorable member for Parkes will not help him to raise the duty. Consequently, we are in such a position, and will be until the Fusion is ended, that we can do nothing practical to encourage and extend our great industries. There is so little in the motion that it is needless to occupy the time of the House any longer upon it, and there are on the notice-paper two other motions of considerable importance. As the honorable member for Maribyrnong has had his say, and has not asked us to do anything practical, can he tell me any anomalies that require to be rectified? If I cannot get a reply from him, I must take it for granted that this motion is a display for electioneering purposes.
– He says he has already given a list to a member of the present Ministry.
– Why does he not give the list to the House? The present Ministry will not help him to rectify anomalies, whereas the House will. All the Ministry will do will be to give him a Board to look into them.
– I said at the beginning of my speech that ascertained anomalies would be in no way affected by this motion.
– Then a good many of us would be out of Parliament before a report was received from the Board on the anomalies that had not been ascertained. I am afraid that even the honorable member’s speech on this motion will not help him to get back, and I shall occupy no further time in discussing what is little more than an empty placard.
– I take it that the object of the motion is not only to deal with anomalies, but to secure a Board, on the lines of the British Board of Trade, which will include, as the motion states, representatives of particular staple interests affected by Customs Tariff Acts. It . should also include ‘ representatives of the commercial and industrial interests of the Commonwealth generally, because, if it is to be permanent, it should have very large functions, extending a great deal beyond those outlined in the motion. The question of anomalies has occupied the attention of the House for a considerable time. We have heard of nothing but anomalies since the Tariff was passed. In my opinion, it is full, of anomalies, from first to last. In fact, the whole Tariff is an .anomaly. An industry cannot be protected, except at the expense of the community, and while Protection may benefit certain classes of producers, it places others at a disadvantage. Therefore anomalies are at once created simultaneously with Tariff restrictions upon trade. There is hardly an item in the Tariff’ which cannot be correctly described as an anomaly, and, therefore, the rectification of anomalies means the opening of the whole Tariff. A Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into and report upon the anomalies of the first Commonwealth Tariff, and to make recommendations for their rectification. After many months of inquiry, it presented a number of progress reports, a further final report, and an immense mass of evidence. In most cases, the recommendations of the Free Trade members of the Commission were contrary to those of the Protectionist members, unanimity being secured in regard to only a few matters.
– Still Parliament had the benefit of the evidence.
– Members were forced to weigh the evidence for themselves, and drew different conclusions from the same premises, with the result that the whole Tariff was ripped open. I do not know whether that is proposed again, but there will be wide divergence of opinion when the rectification of anomalies is brought forward. Some honorable members will wish to raise duties, and others, of whom I am one, to reduce them. The greatest hardships inflicted under the present Tariff were inflicted by the Protectionist votes of Free Trade Labour members, and I can hope for no reduction in the process of rectification from this Parliament where the. reliableFree Traders are so few in number. My attention has been specially directed to the effect of Protection upon the clothing industry, and an employé in that business has written to me a letter in which he says -
I have been in the trade for seventeen years, eight of which were prior to Federation, nine years of which were since the foundation of that State and under Protection. During the Government of Mr. Reid it was usual for trade to look up for the new season in August, and by September full steam might be said to be the term right on to Christmas. Work would then bc slow until the completion of stock-taking at the end of January. February would seea fresh start made in the factories’, which would continue right on until the end of May. From August to Christmas it was common to work a considerable amount of overtime; indeed, I have known men to dispute with the employer for being asked to work on Saturday afternoon. After Federation, things, from the trade point of view, seem to have been reversed. For a couple of years there was absolutely nothing. Of course, there was the drought, which no doubt affected trade. But that unpleasant condition is at an end, but yet we have not recovered as far as clothing is concerned. Last year, October was on us before trade began to get way on, and even after that men did not get full time; also after Christmas it was well on to March before men were being sought for. All this time the factories have done practically no overtime.
Yet we were told by the honorable members for Maribyrnong, Corio, and others, that the industry was languishing, and needed higher duties. My correspon dent shows that business was flourishing in New South Wales under Free Trade conditions, and that since protective duties have been applied to it, there has been a decline. He continues -
I know that there are some in the trade who will dispute this, so I have got Mr. Hine to search the evidence of an employé of a member of the Cutters and Trimmers Union, named Ford, who before the Wages Board gives similar evidence. Cross-examined by Mr. Thom, he says, in answer to the following questions : -
Were you in Sydney five years ago ? - For about 12 months.
Did you find the trade verymuch the same kind of thing, so far as conditions were concerned, five years ago? - Something the same.
How would you describe the work conditions in factories of five years ago and to-day? - About ten years ago I came over from Melbourne. I put in ten months at Wallace’s as a stock cutter; I left there and went to Finlayson’s, and then went back to Melbourne. It was even better then than now. You could get more money, and you did not have to work so hard.
Why do you think it is worse now in that way ; is it competition is keener ? - I cannot say that.
Your view is that conditions have not changed for the better? - No, they have not.
When the matter was before the Court some five years ago they granted a minimum wage of 50s. Could you give me any reason why a higher wage should be granted now than five years ago? - The purchasing power of money is less now.
Put that aside - is theTe any reason you can suggest, supposing the Court was right then, they came to the conclusion that 50s. was a fair minimum, why it should be very much more now? - I cannot say. I was not here five years ago. Things were much better ten years ago.
What money did you get then? - I got 55s. at Wallace’s, and£3 10s. at Finlayson’s. I cut under agreement.
You get £3 now? - Yes. That is what I got when I was out of my apprenticeship.
Ford is employed at the State Clothing Factory. He has been there about twelve months. In answer to Mr. Beeby, he says -
How does work pan out at the Clothing Factory ; are vou constant ? - Since I have been there I have averaged about 35s. per week. I have put in about seven months. That is as well as I can remember.
Does the work vary at all there in quantity? - They have two permanent men and a permanent trimmer there all the year round. When the rush starts they out on three extra cutters and an extra trimmer. We are only practically temporary hands. My experience has been seven months in the year.
He refers to other evidence, and concludes with the statement that -
The clothing trade in Sydney is in a worse state to-day than it was ten years ago.
As the time allotted to private members’ business has almost expired, I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted: debate adjourned.
Motion (by Dr. Maloney) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act for the Legitimation of Children by Registration.
Sitting suspended from 6.28 to 7.45 p.m.
Federal Capital - Western Australia : Admission of Japanese Doctor : Influx of Italians - Size of Wheat Bags - Old-age Pensions Act : Administration - Electoral Rolls and Application Forms - Post Office Clock, Corowa - Payments for Telegraph Line Repairs - State Quarantine : Potatoes - Tasmanian Mail Service : Stanley.
Question - That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair, and that the House resolve itself into Committee of Supply - proposed.
– I desire to call the attention of the House to a matter which certainly affects my own constituency, but is more substantial than are most grievances which are ordinarily dealt with on this motion. I refer to the delay that has taken place in the negotiations relative to the Federal Capital. The failure to make progress with them certainly does not lie at the door of either the present Government or its predecessors. We have had laid upon the table a copy of the communications that have passed between the Commonwealth and the Government of New South Wales, and I propose to draw attention to the dates of the several letters in order to show that, whilst the negotiations on the part of the Commonwealth have proceeded with sufficient rapidity, . the Premier of New South Wales seems to be afflicted with the “tired feeling,” and to be quite unable to deal with this important and urgent question with that reasonable despatch that we might fairly expect. The first communication relative to the matter was addressed by the ex-Prime Minister to the Premier of New South Wales on 16th March last. In that letter the honorable member for Wide Bay pointed out that it was desired that there should be no further alienation of Crown lands, and no granting of long leasesof land within the area indicated by the surveyor, Mr. Scriviner. No reply was made to that communication until 30th April. It is true that the Government of New South Wales took steps to comply with the Prime Minister’s request, but, although on 31st March there was published in the State Government Gazette an order reserving from sale generally and from lease any of the lands within the proposed Federal area, the Premier did not advise the Commonwealth Government of that action until a month later. On 2nd April the ex-Prime Minister addressed a further letter to the Premier of New South Wales intimating that his Government was anxious to enter into negotiations as early as possible on this important subject, and. would be pleased to have a map showing the unalienated Crown landsin the district and the nature of the occupation, if any, of them. Save for a mere acknowledgment of its receipt, no reply to that letter was sent until 18th May, so that there was a delay of over a month.
– It would take some time to compile a map of the kind asked for.
– If the Premier of New South Wales had realized the urgency of the matter, the map could have been prepared within considerably less time than was actually occupied. On 20th July last, the present Prime Minister wrote to the Premier of New South Wales inviting attention to the correspondence to which i have already referred, and asking for certain information upon the subject. That letter was not answered until 5th August. The delay was considerable, having regard to the fact that we have, at our disposal, but a few months within which to deal with a mass of important business, and that if the next step in regard to the establishment of the Capital be not taken within two or three months, the whole subject may have to be re-opened by the next Parliament. I admit that the letter written by the Prime Minister involved some legal considerations, but I cannot help thinking that if Mr. Wade, or any other lawyer, were requested by an important clientto furnish an opinion upon an equally difficult question, he would not ask. him to wait so long to obtain it. The reply from Mr. Wade, dated 5th August, reached Melbourne on Friday, 6th August, and on the succeeding Tuesday the Prime Minister, in answer to a question which I put, said that he had considered the communication, and that he had obtained from the Attorney-General a memorandum on the subject which would be sent to the Premier of New South Wales. In other words, the letter from the Premier of New South Wales did not reach the Prime Minister until Friday, 6th August, and on the following Tuesday a memorandum in reply was prepared and ready to be sent to him. Under the heading of “An Unopened Letter” there appears in to-day’s Age a statement in regard to that communication. Mr. Wade apparently was so busy while in Melbourne that he allowed it to remain unopened for several days. The paragraph reads -
The Premier stated in the Legislative Assembly to-day, in answer to a question as to whether anything further had transpired regarding the granting of the territory for the federal capital, that while he was in Melbourne a letter reached him from the Federal Government in regard to the matter. The letter was in reply to one from him about ten days previously, but at Melbourne he had no time to open it. To-morrow or next day it would be laid before the Cabinet.
We have a right to complain of the funereal slowness with which the Premier of New South Wales has carried on his part of the negotiations. In one of his communications he has indicated certain difficulties which, on the face of them, appear to be absurd. He points out that the Federal Parliament has not declared the precise boundaries of the territory that it desires to acquire, and expresses the fear that it may not accept the area- which the New South Wales Government surrenders, with the result that the State will be placed in a most invidious position. To use his own words -
On the other hand, the State at present is in a most anomalous position. The procedure indicated by the Constitution is for the State to surrender by virtue of section in all lands which are Crown lands. The Constitution further provides (section in) that, on surrender, such part of the State becomes subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Commonwealth. The State thus is irrevocably divested of proprietorial and territorial rights in respect of lands so surrendered, and the Constitution contemplates that that land must be within boundaries which have been determined by the Parliament to be the territory within which shall be established the seat of Government.
His contention is that if New South Wales surrenders the land and we do not accept it, some shocking calamity may overtake New South Wales. If South Australia, which proposes to hand over the Northern
Territory to the Commonwealth, adopted the same attitude and said to the Commonwealth Parliament, “ You must show us the exact boundaries of the Northern Territory before we agree to hand it over to you,” we should not be any further forward with the negotiations. Of course, such a difficulty does not arise. South Australia will pass the Act surrendering the Territory to the Commonwealth, and if we do not accept, it will not matter, because South Australia will not be in any worse position. The same might very well apply to the State Government of New South Wales. The time is very short now within which to enable this Parliament to take the next step ; and there are a number of legal difficulties that may present themselves when the step is taken. A question has been raised as to whether the New South Wales Government are prepared to grant the Commonwealth power to generate electricity from the waters of the Snowy River, should it be subsequently required. A question has also been raised as to the powers of the Federal Government in erecting certain works at Jervis Bay, and making certain improvements to the harbor ; and a difficulty may easily arise as to the working of the New South Wales railways through Yass, Queanbeyan, and other places that may be affected within the Federal area. Each and all of these may become substantial questions, calculated to cause delay. If there is to be such a great deal of time occupied in preliminary skirmishes as to who shall make the first move-
– It is like chess !
– - It is more like two silly school-girls disputing as to who shall speak first after a quarrel.
– What does the honorable member propose?
– I am not proposing anything, nor am I blaming the present Government in connexion with the matter. I thought that when only ,£5,000 was proposed, it was too little; but, judging by the rate at which the negotiations are being carried on, I should say that £5 for postage stamps would have been sufficient. I can conceive of no way in which we can convey our . feelings to the New South Wales Premier ; but, unless an alteration is made, and the New South Wales Parliament is prepared to act promptly, this question will certainly be locked up for years to come. The late Government were prepared to carry out the behest of this Parliament, and indicated an area they were prepared to accept. The present Government have taken a similar step ; and if the Premier of New South Wales is going to stand off, and ask this Parliament to make the next move, he is taking a course which will inevitably re-open the whole question. It is true that Mr. Wade has asked for certain other information, and he has indicated that at the back of his mind is the idea that if we do not take the first step, he may do so; and we may fairly hope that we shall hear no more of unopened letters, or have any further delay in answering correspondence. If we could see the same expedition on the part of New South Wales that has been shown by the Commonwealth, we could hope for a substantial advance towards the creation of a Federal Capital within the life of this Parliament; but, otherwise, I shall have to own with regret that the fault does not lie at the door of honorable members here. I have no doubt that there is a section of this Parliament which would be very glad to see this question postponed until after the next elections, and there is also a section of public opinion, as represented by the Melbourne newspapers, which would move heaven and earth to block the matter for a few months. The Premier of New South Wales, by his action, is playing into the hands of those people ; but I hope that our next news will be that the New South Wales Parliament has set itself to seriously consider the question.
.- This question must be regarded as one entirely of a non-party character, and one in regard’ to which this Parliament, since it has expressed an opinion, has done its duty, and is now waiting with some impatience, I hope, and much dissatisfaction, to see what the other party to the contract intends to do. In the past New South Wales has, at intervals, delivered itself of many protests, which were entirely justified/ in regard to the delay, which had become almost intolerable, on the part of the Commonwealth, but now, although tardily, we have done our duty. I am really surprised that Mr. Wade should take up an attitude which might be entirely justifiable if he were acting for a client whose interests were threatened by some action of the other side, but which, in the leader and representative . of a great State, to which we are only anxious to do what we are pledged to do under the Constitution, seems to be altogether inexplicable. Mr. Wade says - and so far as I know, it is for him an entirely new discovery - that the proper procedure is for the Commonwealth to do something, after which, he, on his part, will do something - that if he takes any step which we ought to take, it will place him in an invidious and false position. I tell Mr. Wade that if he has the interests of New South Wales at heart, he must not hesitate a day in going on with this matter; and I warn him that, if he neglects to take this chance, he will never get another. He will certainly never get a better chance, and I db not think he will get so good a one. The circumstances under which this Parliament agreed to the Yass-Canberra site were almost unique. The factors” that made for that selection may at any moment disappear.
– Hear, hear !
– I am not speaking about individuals disappearing, but of the circumstances which actuated certain individuals. There may be no change in the personnel of Parliament, yet, there may be a very great change of opinions. This Parliament has no control over the next Parliament, which will enter into the performance of its duties absolutely untrammelled by any decision of ours. Mr. Wade is in danger of sacrificing the interests of New South Wales by insisting on a pettifogging interpretation of the Constitution ; his position is rather that of a police court solicitor than that of the leader of the New South Wales bar. I am very sorry that this should be so, because his attitude seems to reflect on the legal profession in general, and to give some colour to the continuous complaint that is made against an honorable, and, I hope, broadminded profession, that the members of it are unable to see in words that plain meaning which every intelligent man in the country can see. We knew what the Parliament intended, and what was meant, when we assented to the Yass-Canberra site. Mr. Wade at that time was perfectly cognisant of our intention, and ought to have been thoroughly seized of the purport of our enactment ; but, ^instead, he, at the eleventh hour - at a moment when he should be only too anxious to smooth away difficulties - raises this new point. Even if there had been any doubt as to who should make the next move, he ought not to have raised the point, because that was for counsel on the other side to do. Mr.
Wade has committed an error which, had it arisen in the exercise of his profession, would certainly not have endeared him to his client, or helped him to extend- his practice. While the present Minister of Home Affairs is in office, we may feel quite sure, though we differ from him in other matters, that he will throw no obstacles in the way of a speedy and complete settlement of this question. If diplomacy, and a sort of hesitant attitude were permissible or excusable, he is in a position in which it might be excused, but Mr. Wade, on the other hand, is showing a disposition to take something which he has said for a very long time he wants very much. This Parliament, after considerable delay, decided to do that which New . South Wales wished to be done, and it is now for New South Wales to do what is necessary, and to throw on us the onus of declining to proceed. I believe that this Parliament will not decline ; and it is for Mr. Wade to take that view which we must presume he took when the decision was made. The honorable member for Coolgardie, the exMinister of Home Affairs, knows very well that right through all the negotiations, quasi-official and official, the suggestion now made by Mr. Wade was never mentioned until the other day. I am not at all- criticising Mr. Wade’s intentions, for, no doubt, he means well enough. I simply say that he is making a mistake which threatens to be a fatal one for New South Wales. Upon that I take my stand as a representative of the State, who is very much .-interested in the matter, and wishes to see it well out of the road, because, in the hurly-burly of politics - and they threaten to be very hurly and very burly in the near future - goodness knows what may happen to a question of this sort, which is tame and domestic compared with the fierce untrammelled beasts that will walk the political earth in the near future. It is like exposing a sheep to the unfettered ferocity of the carnivora in the cages at the Zoological Gardens. I hope, therefore, that we may settle this question at once. I did hear that Mr. Wade had been so busy that he could not open the Prime Minister’s last letter. I trust he has got over that little difficulty. I do not know what the Prime Minister said in his letter, but I hope he put the view which we” took when we dealt with the matter, that it was the business of the Parliament of New South Wales to hand over to us such territory as we had indicated. The question of when the metes and bounds should be definitely fixed is one that the Department of Home Affairs might well be left to adjust with the New South Wales authorities, but I think we are entitled to receive at once from the Parliament of New South Wales authority to take within certain points as much land as is sufficient. From what I know of the Parliament of New South Wales, and the temper of the people of that State, if they had a chance tomorrow, and the question was made a nonparty one, I do not hesitate to say that the Bill would go through the Parliament at almost record rate, and that if it were submitted to the people they would adopt it without hesitation and by an enormous majority.
.- Some time ago I drew the attention of the Minister of External Affairs to the proposal to admit a Japanese doctor to practise at Broome, in Western Australia. The honorable gentleman was good enough to say then that he would defer his decision in the matter until he had received the correspondence from the district which I had promised him. Since then he has received the correspondence, and now he informs me in a letter which I received recently from his office that, “ In view of the information that the doctor to arrive appears to possess the necessary qualifications, the exemption of three years officially promised to the Japanese Consul -General in April last to enable him to enter solely for the. purpose of practising his profession at the place mentioned cannot be withheld, and will issue subject to the qualification required by the law of Western Australia being established at the earliest possible date.” I have no wish to dwell upon the circumstances under which the official promise was given by the Department to the Consul-General for Japan. I believe it was given in the absence of the late Minister of External Affairs in Papua. I do not wish to cast any reflection on the official concerned, because it must be recognised that every Minister is responsible for the actions of his subordinates ; but I contend that a grave mistake was made in this case, and the Government might have taken some means to endeavour to prevent the results which will certainly follow if this gentleman is allowed to land and practise his profession. In the first place, I may state that nearly three-fourths of the inhabitants of
Broome are coloured people. The Western Australian Government, as the Treasurer is well aware, go to considerable expense in subsidising a medical man in outlying localities such as Broome. At present the local medical man is a highly qualified practitioner, and is giving the fullest satisfaction to white people and Japanese alike, according to my information - and I have letters here from the member for the district, the mayor of the town, and several other local people. It is pointed out that if this Japanese is allowed to practise his profession in Broome he will take away from the European doctor the bulk of his practice, and that will have rather unpleasant results for the white residents. It will mean, in all probability, that the European medical man will be obliged to retire, and the white residents of Broome - who include a large number of men owning pearling fleets - will be compelled if they fall ill or require an operation to intrust themselves to the skill of the foreigner. I say nothing against that gentleman’s medical qualifications, .but if any honorable member had to choose between a practitioner of his own race and a coloured practitioner, he would, of course, select the man of his own race.
– It is not so much the white men as the white women.
– Fortunately there are not many white women there, though the number is increasing. That white women should be driven to seek the aid of a coloured doctor strengthens considerably my case, but I think it is sufficiently strong as it is. In the opinion of the owners of the pearling fleets the presence of this gentleman in Broome will breed trouble between them and their crews. I am not in a position to say how far that statement can be borne out. Of course, they do not tell me in their letters the reasons why that should be so, but the statement appears in two of the documents which have reached me. It is stated also, as I have just mentioned, that the income of the local European medical officer must be largely diminished, and that that would cause a demand for an increased subsidy from the Government, or otherwise the residents would have to be satisfied “ with the services of a man of inferior capacity.”
– Consent having been given, what does the honorable member suggest can now fairly be done?
– It is a very unfortunate thing ; but the consent, I take it, has been irregularly given. The Government are in a position to retrace their steps. They can point out very fairly to the Consul-Genera] that a mistake wai made, and that they will be unable to allow the Japanese doctor to land.
– They would have to compensate him, would they not?
– I suppose it would be necessary to do so if he had incurred any expense, but the amount would be a mere trifle, and I believe the people of Broome would gladly contribute, even to the extent of saving the. Government from having to spend a single shilling.
– Does the honorable member think the officer who gave the consent would be liable to pay any of the compensation ?
– I would rather not touch on that point, because I recognise the responsibility of the Minister of the Department, although he was absent, for an) action of his subordinates. Mr. Male, the member for the district in the local Parliament, states -
As a resident of long standing in Broome, and one familiar with the pearling industry, I feel certain that the introduction of a doctor would lead to trouble between the master pearler and his crew. The master pearlers are, under agreement, responsible for providing free medical attendance to their men.
I ask the House to remember that. Mr. Male adds that satisfactory arrangements exist with the resident medical officer, who is also a Federal servant, holding the position of quarantine officer. That is another contingency that we have to take into account. If that gentleman retires from Broome, what will the Minister do? Will he confer the appointment of quarantine officer on the Japanese, or who is to represent the Department there? Steamers are continually calling at Broome from Singapore and other foreign ports, and if the Federal Government have no properly qualified quarantine officer there it will become a serious question. Mr. Male continues^ -
I cannot see that there exists any justification for the introduction of such a doctor, as the men have at all times received excellent attention, and are, when necessary, provided with beds in the hospital ; also, a special building has been erected for the treatment of .berri-berri cases. It appears to me, in granting such an exemption, the Government are committing an act for which they have no precedent, and, further, are creating a precedent of the most dangerous nature, for it stands to reason if a doctor is allowed to land then there is no logical reason why a Japanese lawyer or a Japanese priest should not also be required.
That is a point worth noticing. He points out also that there are a considerable number of Afghans located at Port Hedland, a little south of Broome, and that they and other Asiatic races wouid be justified in demanding the same consideration. And if it should be demanded, I do not see how a refusal can be logically defended after this precedent. I regret to notice that the Government attempt to throw upon the Western Australian authorities the responsibility of preventing this gentleman from practising.
– We did not impose that condition. It was imposed at the time permission was originally granted.
– The honorable gentleman said in his letter that the permission “ will issue subject to the qualification required by the law of Western Australia being established at the earliest possible date.” That is very unfortunate, because, according to the law of Western Australia, the Medical Board would appear to have no option but to admit this gentleman as soon as he applies, if he satisfies the Board that he possesses the qualification. Section xi. of the Western Australian Medical Act provides that -
Every person (male and female) shall be entitled to be registered under this Act, who proves to the satisfaction of the Board that -
He holds any one or more of the qualifications in the Second Schedule hereto mentioned ; and that
The testimonium, diploma, licence, certificate, or other document testifying to such qualification was obtained, after due examination, from some university, college or other body duly recognised for such purpose in the country to which such university, college, or other bodv may belong ; and that
He is a person of good fame and character, and still entitled to practise under the qualification by virtue of which he applies to be so registered in the place where the same was granted.
The qualifications contained in the schedule referred to are twelve in number, and, it seems to me, do not cover Japanese certificates.
– The Japanese diploma is a very high one.
– It is not mentioned in the schedule, which speaks of the degrees of-
Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.
And several other degrees, but there is no reference to a diploma of a Japanese University.
– Is there a general recognition of the diplomas of foreign universities ?
– No, unless it is covered by these words -
Any legally-qualified practitioner registered in the United Kingdom under any Act or Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland now or hereafter in force.
That might cover the case of this Japanese doctor if his degree was recognised in the United Kingdom. Now, the condition laid down by the Government calls for some comment. The Japanese doctor is to have permission to land “ subject to his entering solely for the purpose of practising his profession at the place mentioned.” What means will be taken to see that that condition is enforced ? Will the local Customs officer be appointed a detective to see that the Japanese doctor does not become the owner of a pearling fleet, or take up a grazing area? We are entitled to know whether a Japanese is now on his way to Australia, and whether, having reviewed all the circumstances of the case, the Minister of External Affairs will not recommend his colleagues to inform the Consul-General of Japan, without giving offence to his nation, that the permission to land has been revoked, taking care to see that no pecuniary loss is suffered by the doctor appointed, should he be on his way here. The people of Broome have a claim to the consideration of the Government. They, as well as the Government of Western Australia, will be placed in a difficult position if their representations are ignored. There is no reason why the Japanese pearlers should have a practitioner of their own race to attend to them.
Should their request be granted, other groups of aliens may logically and justly claim like concessions. I appeal to the Government to reconsider the case, and give due weight to the opinions and feelings of the people immediately concerned.
– I desire to direct attention to a matter of very great importance to our producers. The regulations framed last year, limiting the size of wheat bags, have proved very acceptable. Though at first many opposed the reduction which has been made, it has been found that the honorable member for EdenMonaro has benefited all concerned in the handling of wheat. But, while the intention of Parliament was that not more than 200 lbs. of wheat should be placed in one bag, the regulations have been so framed that the bags which comply with them will not hold 200 lbs. of “ f.a.q.” wheat. Therefore, an alteration is necessary to give effect to our intention. In view of another difficulty, I have already asked whether the Government cannot frame regulations which, while preventing more than 200 lbs. of wheat from being put into any one bag, will not prohibit the importation of bags of larger sizes to hold commodities of less weight. I have been approached by different public bodies in my electorate, which have pointed out that, as the original bags are getting worn out, it is found difficult to obtain bags which will hold a reasonable weight of oats and potatoes. Chaff, too, in the future, will have to be put into bran bags, unless the regulations are amended. The honorable member for Wilmot and others have referred to this matter.
– Would the honorable member suggest the branding of all bags, with a view to making it penal to use them for other than specified purposes?
– I think that that would be a good thing to do. The officers of the Customs Department could draw up suitable regulations, if they set their minds to the task, and I hope that this will be done to meet the needs of the farmers in the coming harvest.
.- I wish to draw the attention of the Treasurer to some matters in connexion with the administration of the old-age pensions law. The cases which I shall cite may be regarded as typical. In one instance, a pensioner lives 45 miles from his warranty, and has no convenient way of travelling that distance. Another pensioner, a widow, lives seventeen miles away, and is without a conveyance; yet she must be seen by her warranty about once a month. A third pensioner, also a widow, is physically unable to travel.
– Have these cases been brought under the notice of the Commissioner ?
– I shall bring them under his notice, but I think that if we let the Minister know the real state of affairs, matters will be expedited. It seems to me that the administration might be made more merciful in cases of this kind, by arranging for deputy warranties.
– Will the honorable member give me the particulars in detail?
-:-Certainly. In another case, which was brought to my notice today, doubt has been expressed locally as to whether a pension can be granted to an applicant born of British parents, during a brief visit to the United States, prior to their coming to Australia, where they have voted and exercised the rights of citizens for about seventy years, until naturalization has taken place.
– If he were born in America, of British parents, whose nationality still remained British, he would be British.
– Merciful treatment should be extended to the aged poor in the administration of the Act, and there should be no attempt to harass them. I would ask the Treasurer to issue an instruction that where an applicant for a pension has a little home of his own, the provision that an exemption up to ^100 shall be allowed must be observed
– The Commissioner has to decide that matter. I have nothing to do with it.
– From a complaint I have received, it would appear that this exemption is not always allowed, and I hope that the matter will receive the attention of the right honorable gentleman.
.- In regard to the admission of a Japanese doctor at Broome, to which reference has been made by the honorable member for Coolgardie, I would point out that his commencing practice in that town, which is largely occupied by Japanese, will place the European medical officer there in a very serious position. Broome is not a large centre of population, and the resident
Government medical officer must be allowed the right of private practice to supplement his official salary. No doubt the honor able member is voicing the democratic spirit of Western Australia in bringing this matter forward; but, while we have a perfect right to refuse to allow a Japanese to land in Australia, we must not forget that the Japanese are equally entitled to refuse permission to an Australian to land in their country. Certain merchants in Sydney sought to bring pressure to bear upon the Consul-General for Japan to prevent my landing in Japan on the occasion of a visit which I paid to that country some time ago, but he courteously refused to take notice of their representations, which were made, not in the open light of day, but in a most underhand manner. Had the authorities refused to allow me to land, I should hare had to kiss my hand to the shore, and to regret that I could .not obtain a closer view of the beauties of that country. If we say that this” Japanese medical man shall not be admitted, we must not complain if the Japanese exercise their right to exclude us from their shores. As one who believes in a White Australia, I am willing to accept the risk, but I urge that we should not resort to any subterfuge. Let us say straight out that it is in the interests of a White Australia that we are determined tq take this stand. No word of insult will ever leave my lips with respect to Japan or its people. It is a great nation of clever and ingenious people, and I know that the white man could not compete on equal terms with the Japanese. It is for the latter reason that I fear their entry into Australia. The Treasurer was Premier of Western Australia when I had the privilege of practising at Albany. I must say, however, that the State Government have some strange ways of administering the Medical Act, for I know of a medical man who paid two fees, of ^£2 2s. each, to be registered there ; and, although his application was refused, did not obtain a refund. On one occasion, I, with another Melbourne medico, was sent to perform a post-mortem upon a child at Albany; but, although we did the work, we were never paid for it. The Government directed another medical man to hold the post-mortem, and paid him, although, as a matter of fact, the work had already been done, and he could not make a second post-mortem examination. I am satisfied that, unless this Japanese doctor has the diplomas .which are set forth in the schedule to the Act, he will not be permitted to practise. If he has. not, we shall find a simple way out of the difficulty. If, on the other hand, he has the requisite qualifications, and we refuse to allow him to settle in Australia, we must not complain if any Australian is forbidden to enter Japan. .
– I wish again to bring before the Treasurer the way in which the Old-age Pensions Act is being administered in New South Wales. I have before me a letter, to which I referred on the motion for the adjournment of the House last night, and which shows that some one has issued instructions which, in my judgment, are entirely contrary to the provisions of the Act. The letter, which is signed by Mr. Clegg, the head of the Old-age Pensions Department of New South Wales, contains the following statement -
I have the honour to state that the improved capital value in this case was taken on the municipal valuation, the total value, including personalty, i.e., furniture, being set down as ^93.
I do not think it was the intention of the Parliament that personal property, such as furniture, should be taken into consideration in determining the pension that should be paid in any case. In New South Wales, the municipalities impose a tax on the unimproved value of land, so that their valuations do not afford a reliable basis for ascertaining the actual value of the small cottages owned by some of the aged poor. I take it that it was not intended that the value of the few sticks of furniture in these poor people’s homes should be taken into consideration in determining the pensions payable to them.
– Why do they not appeal ?
– In the case to which I have referred a letter was written to the chief officer of the Department in New South Wales, who replied that he was instructed to do certain things.
– The Commissioner, not -the Minister, has the settlement of such matters.
– The Minister should step in where the Act is being disregarded. The letter continues -
The police reported that the daughter (26 years of age), resided in the house, but was away nearly every day working, washing, &c, to earn a living, but that she did not pay anything for the accommodation received.
Here we have the case of a girl who lives with her aged father - evidently to look after him - and whose income, earned at the washtub, is taken into account, with a view of reducing the amount of the pension payable to him. Such an administration of the Act is a positive disgrace -
We are advised that in such cases, where the property is not used as the exclusive home of the applicant, but is shared by children or others, who either do, or ought to, contribute, for the accommodation they receive, a deduction of’£50 only should be made.
In other words, in such circumstances, a deduction of£50 instead of £100 is to be made from the valuation of an old man’s cottage for the purpose of determining what pension shall be payable to him.
– If an old-age pensioner’s daughter is earning her own living, and residing with him, should she not pay something for her accommodation?
– Is it not an advantage for old people to have some one to look after them?
– We have to carry out the law.
– This letter shows that the law is being disregarded. A young woman who earns her living, at the washtub must find it difficult enough to clothe herself decently, without having to pay for accommodation, and it is to the credit of the young woman in this case that she looks after her aged father. I know that instructions have been given with a view to the valuation of the homes of applicants for old-age pensions being placed at the highest possible limit, so as to reduce the amount of the pensions granted.
– Who issued such instructions ?
– I have just re.ad a statement on the subject contained in a. letter by Mr. Clegg, head of the Department in New South Wales. He states that he was “advised” that this course had to be followed, and I wish to know now by whom such advice has been given. In New South Wales there is in existence a Miners’ Accident Relief Fund, to which some old-age pensioners have contributed as a form of assurance. They are now receiving from that fund, in some cases, a small allowance, because they have suffered some permanent injury. The amount, or some proportion they receive from the accident fund, is being deducted from their pensions. This is purely a case of administration of the Act, the interpretation section of which provides - “ Income “ means any moneys, valuable consideration, or profits earned derived or received by any person for his own use or benefit by any means from any source whatever, whether in or out of the Commonwealth, and shall be deemed to include personal earnings, but not any payment -
Surely these words are sufficient to include funds of the nature I have mentioned?
– Is there not something in the Act about charitable allowances ?
– This is not a charitable allowance, but payment from a fund contributed to by the miners during years of employment ; and I submit that it is one of the exceptions contemplated by the Act.
– It is a matter of interpretation, and of the merits of the case itself.
– There are scores of cases, and they raise the question of the interpretation of the Act.
– Perhaps a man would get £50 from the fund, and an oldage pension besides !
– These interjections show how the Treasurer would like to administer the Old-age Pensions Act.
– I can give an opinion on anexparte statement, but the Commissioner is more likely to have done what is right than otherwise.
– This is not an ex parte statement, but a statement of. the real facts, which affect the whole of the mining fields of New South Wales. If it is shown that the Act is not being administered by the Commissioner as it should be, it is clearly the duty of the Minister to intervene, and see that the Act is interpreted as intended by the House. I shall hand the letter to the Treasurer as disclosing the most glaring instance of the misinterpretation of an Act of Parliament that has ever come under my notice.
– I should like to say-
– Cannot we have something done now?
– It is rather interesting to observe the desire of the Minister of Defence to get on with the work after nearly a fortnight’s adjournment to enable the Government to entangle Australia in one of the worst financial agreements that could possibly be presented to the House.
– Does the honorable member desire to block the passing of the Works Estimates?
– We have been discussing grievances for barely an hour and, a half, and yet we are accused of trying to block the passing of the Works Estimates ! Such an attitude on the part of the Government is miserable in the extreme, lt is well known that if the Government had submitted the Works Estimates prior to the adjournment for the Premiers’ Conference, no opposition would haw been raised to their passing after reasonable examination by honorable members. What I desire to say is that the White Australia policy is being endangered by the proposal to permit the landing of a Japanese doctor to practise in Western Australia.
– The authority was given when the Labour Government were in power.
– I know that the papers show that the conditional permission to land was given while the honorable member for Boothby was Minister of External Affairs, but it has not been shown that the authority of the Minister was ever obtained. The honorable member for Boothby has stated in the House that he never saw the papers, and that the responsibility of giving the conditional authority was taken by Mr. Atlee Hunt, as Secretary to the Department.
– Did the honorable member for Boothby, as Minister, not sign the authority ?
– He did not. The honorable member for Corio is always jumping to the worst possible conclusions against the Opposition, without troubling to acquaint himself with the facts. The conditional authority was granted by the Secretary to the Department after a conversation between himself and the Japanese Consul in Sydney.
– And after conversation with the Minister, no doubt.
– Is the honorable member for Bourke not prepared to accept the statement of the late Minister of External Affairs that he was not acquainted with the fact that the authority had been granted until the matter was mentioned in the House? The action of the Secretary to the Department is one which, in ‘my opinion, should lead to his removal from his present responsible position. A short time ago, this officer was sent to Western Australia to make inquiries into the suspected smuggling of Chinese from luggers on the north-west coast. A considerable number of Chinese, apparently new chums, had been seen in gardens and various business places around Perth, and it was thought necessary to have an investigation made. But, as soon as Mr. Atlee Hunt landed, nearly every newspaper had a personal paragraph about him, and interviews with him; and the object of his business and visit was disclosed. An official on such a mission, who announces his object from the housetops, cannot hope for much success in discovering the facts.
– Is the honorable member sure that what he says is a fact?
– I saw the announcement in the Western Australian papers.
– But did Mr. Hunt give the information ?
– The right honorable gentleman knows Mr. Hunt, and can say whether he was likely to give it. This appears to be a most serious attempt to break down the provisions of the Immigration Restriction Act. I take the gravest possible view of the matter. It is serious enough that one professional man should be admitted to practise at a certain place, but what makes it worse is that it creates a precedent for all future occasions. If the Japanese Consul-General makes a similar request regarding other places in Australia, are the Government going to refuse what they have granted in this case? The white residents at Broome are dependent upon one European doctor, who, in order to get a livelihood, has to depend, in addition to the Government subsidy, on the practice he secures from the Asiatics in that port. The prospect of those white residents being left without a white medical officer is sufficiently serious to justify the Government in reviewing their decision. Another point which I wish to bring under the attention of the Minister of External Affairs is the continued influx of Italians into Western Australia. The number who arrive in Western Australia, and go straight into employment ort some of the mines in the northern gold-fields and on the wood lines, seems to indicate that they are coming out under contract. If - so. they are infringing the contract immigration provisions of the Act.
– To what period is the honorable member referring?
– The period extends over the last couple of years. These newchum Italians, who cannot speak a- word of English, land half-a-dozen or a dozen at a time. They seem to go straight off the boat at Fremantle to Kalgoorlie or the northern fields, and are employed almost immediately, while Britishers are walking round looking for work. The evidence appears overwhelming that they have an understanding, if not an actual contract, before they leave Italy, and the matter seems sufficiently serious to warrant an inquiry. I should like the attention of the Treasurer regarding the question of oldage pensions. There is no doubt that the section read by the honorable member for Newcastle was intended by Parliament to exempt persons who had been paying into a friendly society that granted an annuity at a certain age, or into a fund such as the Miners’ Relief Fund of New South Wales. A serious disability is now being imposed on them.
– What is the evidence that the Act has been ignored?
– The honorable member for Newcastle gave instances. If the Act has the effect of penalizing people, who have made small contributions out of an altogether insufficient wage, when they reach the age of sixty-five, that disability ought to be removed immediately from, the Act, and I hope the Treasurer will give immediate attention to the matter. ‘ I have heard from Western Australia that there has been considerable delay in the hearing of applications, and the payment of pensions.
– I think they have been very slow, and I have been trying to expedite the matter.
– I am glad the right honorable gentleman is doing something to wake them up. I hope he will continue to do so, because pensions have now been payable from the 1st July, and nearly two months have elapsed. To a person who depends on the pension for a livelihood, a long delay in payment is a very serious matter. There ought to be sufficient energy in the Department to have enabled most of the original applications to have been heard by this time. I should like to “ hear a statement from the Minister of External Affairs before the debate closes on the two issues that I have put before him.
.- No one desires to treat the question of the admission of a medical man to practise in
Australia more liberally than I do. At the same time, the Minister who so carelessly allowed a Japanese doctor to enter Australia is worthy of reprimand. I do not think he could possibly have given this case the consideration which it deserved.
– The honorable member knows perfectly well that I was not in Australia at the time.
– Somebody is to blame, for the matter is very serious, and its effects may be further-reaching than we at present suspect. I am not concerned with the question of whether a particular Minister was or was not in Australia at the time. All I know is that when this took place the Fisher Government were in office, and they have to take the responsibility of their administration. I see no reason why this Japanese doctor should have been admitted. If a British medical man, possessing even the best qualifications, wishes to practise in Germany or France, the doors of those countries are not thrown open to him. There are many English residents in France and Germany who would naturally wish an English doctor to. attend them, yet a British doctor with the highest qualifications must pass the whole of the examinations that a native German or Frenchman must pass Defore he is allowed to practise there. I therefore see nothing wrong in objecting to the admission of a Japanese doctor to Australia. When the Tariff was being considered, and any technical question arose, the members of the Government sought the advice of those best able to speak on the subject, but in this case no attempt appears to have been made ‘ to consult the persons best able to judge. If the Government had asked any medical man his opinion on the matter, they would have learnt that the refusal to admit this gentleman would not be an outrage upon international law, because the same thing is done in all. foreign countries with regard to British medical men. I understand that the late Minister of External Affairs was not in Australia when the permission was granted, and apparently some reflection is cast upon an official connected with the Department. I know nothing of that, but I should like to see Ministers sufficiently strong to have the courage of their own opinions, and not to be dictated to by the various officials that they find in the Departments. Personally I find myself seriously inconvenienced, and I believe that is entirely due to the fact that the reports of the officers in connexion with various matters are given too much weight by Ministers. With regard to the Old-age Pensions Act. we cannot expect it to work smoothly all at once, but I do not think it is being administered altogether in the way that it should be. There must be some friction between the various Departments. I came across a case the other day in one of the outlying setttlements on the coast. I refer to a place called the Tea Gardens. Several old-age pensioners are living there, who, through their infirmity, are unable to travel long distances, as they have to do, to collect their pensions, and one of the tradesmen who visits the place in his launch was good enough to undertake to collect the money on the Thursday on which the pensions were paid, and distribute it, when going his rounds in his . launch, to those who could not go for the money. Sometimes the weather is bad, and he is unable to get away on the Thursday.. In this case, he requested the postmistress to hold the moneyover until the Saturday. He was told - red-tape again - that that was “ contrary to the regulations,” and that the .money had to be sent back if not claimed on the Thursday.
– Why did not he take the money on the Thursday ?
– Because, I presume, he did not care to hold it in his house until the Saturday, and it seemed a reasonable request that the postmistress should keep it in the post-office for a couple of days. Another matter, that I have already mentioned by means of a question, is the payment of pensions to inmates of charitable institutions. The present system presses very hardly upon the institutions within whose walls old-age. pensioners take refuge, because the pensions are stopped, and the institutions cannot draw anything to recoup them.
– And yet the honorable member voted against a motion which would have allowed payment to be made.
– If I did vote against it, I am very sorry. I wish to draw-, attention to another matter in connexion with the electoral rolls, which also shows a certain amount of friction between Departments. The Electoral Act is administered by the Home Affairs Department, and the Post and Telegraph Act by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. I recently had occasion to travel through the country parts of my electorate, and was surprised, on asking at the post-offices for copies of the electoral rolls and application forms, to find that those in charge knew nothing of them. I discovered later that the papers had been sent out by the Electoral Department, but, as they were not accompanied with instructions from the Postal Department, they were merely thrown aside, like so much waste paper. The postal officials should be informed of the value of these documents, and told what to do with them. Another matter to which I desire to direct attention is the inconvenience caused by the want of reliable official clocks at postoffices. On one occasion, when I applied for a post-office clock for a town in my electorate, the application was refused, although a little later a post-office was erected at Corowa, with a tower containing a clock. On complaining about the matter, I was told that I had voted for the building. Surely that was an example of sharp practice !
– The tower was part of the building.
– And the townspeople supplied the clock.
– The Department built the tower for the clock. I am now asking, not for clocks such as are placed in towers, but merely for substantial, reliable timepieces.
– When the Minister of External Affairs was asked for information regarding the proposed introduction of a Japanese doctor for Broome, and replied that he did not know anything about the matter, but would make inquiries, I interjected that if it had come before him at all, he must know something of it, because such applications are unusual. To my surprise, I was informed that the application had been made to the Department during my own term of office. The Immigration Restriction Act makes the Minister responsible for the granting of permits allowing aliens to land, and it might naturally be assumed that such mat,ters must come before him. But I was absent in New Guinea when the first application was made. The Secretary to the Department, I understand, intended to mention it to me, or thought that he had, and, when a second application came, he, knowing my general views, assumed that I had not expressed any objection to it. Dr. Liddell. - Who acted in the honorable member’s absence?
– The honorable member for West Sydney; but the matter was not mentioned to him. I have no wish to shirk responsibility by throwing the blame upon the Secretary to the Department. I mention these facts in explanation of my interjection.
– Is the Minister’s signature on the paper?
– No ; no Ministerial approval of any kind.
– Is that necessary under the Act?
– That is a question for the Attorney-General; but I think that the admission of an alien could be stopped, unless there was Ministerial approval.
– Why was this application granted ?
– The Minister could tell the honorable member better than I can. I learned the facts subsequently to my leaving office. As I understand the position, the Japanese at Broome, of whom there is a considerable number, desire to have one of their own countrymen as a medical officer.
– So that he may understand what they say.
– Yes. Unfortunately, difficulty has been created by the fact that there is not enough work at Broome for two doctors, so that the admission of a Japanese doctor may mean the exodus of the European doctor, unless the Government of Western Australia goes to the rescue. Had the application come before me, I should probably have given the permission asked for.
– And very properly.
– Two’ or three considerations would have weighed with me. In the first place, the request came through the Japanese Consul General, who has been of the greatest service to the Department in assisting it to prevent the coming here of Asiatic labourers, and has used his influence, when applied to, in inducing Japanese residents of Thursday Island and Queensland to leave the country. Naturally, therefore, any request made by him on behalf of Japanese residents would receive great consideration. Of course, the interests of the European residents of Broome must be properly protected.
– If a Japanese doctor sets up there, it may mean the removal of the European doctor.
– It may mean that the latter will have to be paid a larger subsidy.
– Has the Japanese doctor had military training?
– I do not know. I have had only the same opportunities to obtain information as other honorable members enjoy. As the onus of granting or refusing admission to aliens is thrown on the Minister, the Secretary to the Department should be careful to obtain his approval in every case. A Minister can be held responsible only for acts of administration of which he has cognisance during his term of office. If they are unknown to him and are divulged only after he leaves office, then the responsibility for the action taken must rest with his successor, since with him alone rests the power of dealing with it. I certainly accept the responsibility for all acts of administration during my term of office. Speaking generally, I do not say that this was a wrongful admission, but it must be recognised that the only way in which I could rid myself of responsibility for a wrongful admission would be by reprimanding the officer who had permitted it, or by taking some other action in regard to ‘him. If, however, I knew nothing of the matter, I could take no action. Had the person in question been a labourer or a pearler, instead of a doctor of medicine, would there have been such an outcry as there has been ? We have had, for instance, medical men in the House protesting in the strongest possible terms about the admission of this doctor, although I do not regard his admission as of more importance than would be the admission of a Japanese pearler or labourer.
– It is only natural that the Japanese at Broome should desire the services of a doctor who speaks their own language.
– And it is equally natural that Europeans there who fear that as the result of his admission they may lose their own medical man, should endeavour to retain his services, either by inducing the State or the local residents to pro vide for an extra payment to him.
– This is an evidence of permanent occupation.
– I understand that the permission covers only a period of three years. There is not sufficient reason for the outcry that has been raised since not a word of complaint has been uttered in regard to the admission of other Asiatics who are not professional men. It is perfectly clear that technically the responsibility in this case rests upon my shoulders, although in reality it must lie with the Secretary to the Department of External Affairs, who believed that he would be carrying out my wishes in granting permission for the doctor to land.
– The honorable member is technically responsible, but no one would blame him.
– I have only to say that I trust that those who have taken so prominent a part in bringing forward this matter will be equally active when an Asiatic, occupying a more humble station in life, is admitted into Australia.
– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie referred to the introduction of certain Italians, and expressed the opinion that for the last two years a number of them had been entering Western Australia under contract, because as soon as they landed they found employment.
– It is a notorious fact.
– It is new to me. Under the Contract Immigrants Act, which has been in operation for some time, we have power to make inquiries where it is suspected that a person is coming in under contract. The Customs officers are supposed to be vigilant in the administration of the law, and I shall make inquiries in order to ascertain whether they have in their possession information bearing out the suggestion that these men are coming in under contract, and if they have, action will follow to remedy the trouble. As to the admission of the Japanese doctor at Broome, the honorable member for Boothby was correct in saying that I first heard of the matter when a question was put to me in the House, and I promised in reply to inquireinto the subject. At a later stage I informed the House, in reply to a question, that there was nothing on the papers to show that the admission of the Japanese doctor had received Ministerial sanction. On making inquiries I found that the question of his admission originated in a conversation which took place in Sydney between the Secretary to the Japanese Consul-General and the Secretary of the Department of External Affairs. The latter was under the impression that he had mentioned it to the then Ministerial head of his Department, but he had no distinct recollection of the subject, and he, of course, accepts the assurance of the honorable member for Boothby that he did not bring it before him.
– The Minister was not in the Commonwealth at the time.
– I am referring to a conversation which took place between the two secretaries in Sydney about February last. In the letter to the Secretary to the Department, in which the Consul-General applied for permission for the doctor to land, he refered to this conversation, saying -
When I had the pleasure of meeting you in Sydney last I made a verbal inquiry from you (through Mr. Foxall) respecting the admission to the Commonwealth of a duly qualified Japanese medical practitioner.
– Was it necessary to obtain a permit for a professional man to land?
– It was in this case, since the doctor proposed to practise in Australia. The arrangement to which the honorable member refers provides for the issue of passports to students, merchants, or tourists, but that arrangement does not extend to a professional man desiring to settle and practise here.
– What did the ConsulGeneral mean by a “duly qualified” medical practitioner.
– A man who was qualified according to the law of the State where he was to practise.
– Is the Japanese doctor registered in Western Australia?
– Not yet. In his letter to the Secretary of the Department, the Japanese Consul-General referred to the case of Dr. Hayakawa, a Japanese medical man who had been given permission to reside and practise at Thursday Island for a period of three years. As a matter of fact, that gentleman practised there for only a short time, and no more was heard of him. Probably the knowledge of that precedent also influenced the Secretary of the Department in writing the letter in which permission was granted without formally obtaining the sanction of the Minister.
– Does he not think that he should have obtained, first of all, direct Ministerial sanction?
– I think that the duty of the Secretary was to mention the matter to the Minister of the day. Those who have had experience of the Secretary, however, well know that he always submits to the Minister of the day every case involving the slightest deviation from the known practice. The Secretary has often to act on verbal instructions given by the Minister when a number of cases are submitted to him, and it is not necessary for him, in some cases, to obtain even the authority of the Minister’s initials.In the circumstances, therefore, it is impossible for the Secretary to remember what he did in every case. It is clear that the Minister was not aware of this case.
– He was out of the Commonwealth at the time.
– That is so. The Secretary of the Department wrote to the ConsulGeneral, Mr. Uyeno, on the 30th April last, a letter, in which he said, after referring to the conversation, that exemption would be given subject to qualification. The qualification reads -
Provided that you will inform me that the doctor who is to come is a qualified medical practitioner who intends to devote his time solely to the practice of his profession.
I presume that that was the effect of the conversation that he had with the Secretary to the Consul-General. The Japanese residents of Broome naturally desired to have their own doctor.
– They have an interpreter there.
– -That may be so, but for a very natural reason it appears that they desire to have the services of a medical man of their own nationality.
– Are not English residents on the south coast of France in exactly the same position?
– I am not prepared to discuss that matter now. At present large numbers of Japanese are admitted to Broome in connexion with the pearling industry, and there is a general understanding by which the number engaged there shall be continued and permits granted from time to time.
– Does “ duly qualified “ mean qualified under any State Act?
– I think it means qualified according to the law in Western Australia; and that, I believe, the Japanese Consul-General understood, because, I understand, he had been in communication with the authorities of that State. I am not prepared to state what the qualification required under the law in Western Australia is, but the Premier of the State, in writing to us on the 3rd August, said -
The application for registration has not been brought before the Medical Board, but I understand that provided the qualifications of the applicant are of such a character as can be recognised by the Board, that body would not be justified in refusing to register the applicant.
– Did the Japanese doctor ever go before the Board?
– Then how could he be duly qualified?
– I was asked what I thought was the meaning of “ duly qualified.”
– An applicant has to be admitted to practise if the authorities are satisfied that he possesses certain qualifications ?
– Quite so.
– I am a little interested, because I was acting for the Minister of External Affairs at the time, and I should like to know exactly whether the authority was given while I was in Melbourne.
– The letter from the Japanese Consul-General was written from Sydney on the 28th April, and was answered by the Secretary of the Department for External Affairs on the 30th. Obviously we must allow the applicant to come into Australia to give him an opportunity of presenting his qualifications to the Board.
– I do not agree that we must allow him in.
– We certainly should allow him to come in to appear before a Board to prove his qualification.
– We could allow him to come in, but he has no right to climb over the Act.
– A promise of permission was given, and this has been affirmed.
– Who gave the original permission ?
– It was given in the letter written by the Secretary on the 30th April. The Japanese Consul-General asked, if the exemption would be granted when an application was made, and he was officially informed in the affirmative.
– Did the Secretary subsequently give further exemptions?
– No; the Japanese ConsulGeneral was officially informed by the Secretary that the exemption would issue under the conditions mentioned.
– It is extraordinary that the Secretary did not lay the matter before me.
– The late Minister of External Affairs has explained that the Secretary was under the impression that he had mentioned the matter. After the Japanese Consul-General had been informed that permission would be granted, a telegram was received from the Premier of Western Australia informing us .that protests were raised to the admission of this Japanese doctor. On the 3rd August the ConsulGeneral wrote to the Department -
Referring to your letter of the 30th April last, on the subject of the admission to the Commonwealth of a Japanese doctor whom the Japanese residents of Broome wish to go there to practise his profession, and to my acknowledgment of the same, dated 4th May, wherein I stated that I had noticed the details which you said were essential, I now have the honour to inform you that I received a cable yesterday notifying that Dr. Mango Kitawaki, a graduate of the Medical College of the Imperial University of Kyoto, and a member of the Medical Staff of the Hospital attached to that College, will leave Japan by the s.s. Nikko Maru, which is due in Sydney on the 22nd September proximo. I shall be glad if, in the terms of your letter, you will be good enough to advise the proper officers so that the certificate of exemption for three years, which is the term of his engagement, may be ready for issue on Mr. Kitawaki’s arrival.
The Japanese Consul-General communicated at once with somebody in Japan, and the doctor was engaged for a period of three years. The question now was whether the promise that was given should be withdrawn ; and as Minister, I felt that I was bound to honour it, but no action was taken pending the arrival of the protests from Western Australia. We had no knowledge of what the protests contained, but when they did arrive from the residents, the mayor, medical officer, and others at Broome, none appeared to be sufficient to cause us to withdraw the promise officially given, accepted in good faith, and acted upon. A letter was accordingly written to the Japanese Consul-General on the 25th August, as follows -
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 3rd inst., respecting the Japanese doctor whom the Japanese residents at Broome wish to go there to practise his profession, and to inform you that arrangements will be made for the issue at Thursday Island of a certificate of exemption for three years in favour of Dr. Kitawaki to enable him to enter as arranged solely for the purpose of practising his profession there, provided that his qualifications to practise in Western Australia he established in accordance with the law of the State at the earliest possible date after his arrival.
– This is the first time we have heard anything about the law of the State.
– This is the first letter written for which I am personally responsible. At the same time, although the law of the State was not mentioned, the ‘ConsulGeneral appears to have understood what “ qualified,” in the previous letter to him, meant, because he had been in communication with the Western Australian Government on the subject. The only authority who could determine the qualification at law is, I presume, the Medical Board of the State. As a matter of fact, I am informed by those who are acquainted with the fact, that the Kyoto University is of very high standard, and that it is stated in the- Medical Register for 1909 - of which, unfortunately, I have not a copy - that, under the British Medical Act, the qualifications of Japanese institutions are recognised in the United Kingdom. The promise officially given must be honoured if the conditions are fulfilled; and that point is, I believe, thoroughly understood by the Japanese Consul-General. Of course, the qualification of the doctor has to be established.
– Does the Minister know any case in Australia of a Kyoto qualification being recognised?
– No, but I am informed that the qualification is a high one.
– Has the Minister any objection to more Japanese doctors coming ?
– We shall discuss that question when it arises. I should like to add to what the honorable member for Boothby has said, that the Japanese ConsulGeneral has assisted the Department very much indeed. Recently a rumour originated as to the rights of the Japanese at Port Darwin, under the pearling arrangement, to remain there after the expiration of their engagement; and directly his attention was called to the fact, (he Japanese Consul-General took action, and put the matter right. Then, again, in regard to admission under passports, the Japanese Consul-General has acted with us, and preserved, as far as possible, the spirit of the arrangement.
.- I desire to bring under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral the position taken up by the Deputy Postmaster- General in Sydney in regard to the payment to a man for work done in line repairing between Bourke and Brewarrina. This man was employed at 20s. a day to discover a fault in the telegraph line which a casual employe had failed to find at the Thirty-nine-mile peg. He was instructed by the postmaster at Bourke to go right through to Brewarrina, if necessary ; and when the work was done he, on the 27 th January, put in a fair claim for £7, but he did not get paid until June. This is one case amongst others; and such delays ought not to be possible. In an official report the excuse is made that, when the man’s voucher came down, it was not shown that he had been instructed by the postmaster to go through to Brewarrina, and it was referred back to him for details of each day’s work. The man could not sit down in Bourke and wait for the money. He had gone away to look for work. The account was passed by the Electrical Engineer eventually, on the 27th. April, but it took another eight days in the Department in Sydney before it’ was approved. It was approved on 5th May, but the voucher was not sent to Bourke until 2nd June. I wish to call special attention to the view of the Deputy Postmaster- General of Sydney, who says -
No unnecessary delay was caused, and there is little doubt had Curren not been absent from Bourke, and had furnished the necessary details earlier, payment could have been effected without delay. The voucher was forwarded to Bourke on 2nd June for payment.
After six months’ delay, the Deputy Postmaster-General calmly says that no unnecessary delay was caused, and that if this man, who had done his work well for the Department, had sat down in Bourke and waited for his money he would have got it. The PostmasterGeneral should rouse up the Deputy and the whole Department in Sydney, if it takes them so long to make provision for the payment of these small sums for outside work. If the officials had to wait as long for their salaries, they might take a different view of the matter. I have mentioned this case because other cases, although not quite so glaring, occur from time to time, and I suggested, a long time ago, that an arrangement should be made for prompt payment to be made on the spot by the local postmaster for these small jobs. The Deputy promised to act on that suggestion at the time. Bourke has a large post-office, with an experienced man in charge, and he could be trusted to make payments of that kind. I am assured by those who attend to the repairing of telegraph lines that if prompt payments were made., they could secure more efficient men for the jobs. Under the present arrangement, by which they have to wait for vouchers to be sent from Sydney, they have to get local men who are not so competent, because they can remain on the spot and wait for pay- ment. That sort of thing tells up into thousands of pounds spread over the Commonwealth. In this case, it took from the 27th January until 2nd June before the man got his money, and he might have waited still longer if I had not kept stirring up the Department in the meantime. I am sure the Postmaster-General does not approve of the delay that took place, and I hope he will do something to insure the adoption of a better system with regard to these casual jobs. The work is important, and it is essential that the best men should be got to carry it out.
– From the facts stated by the honorable member for Darling, it would appear that there has been an extreme delay, from the 27th January to the middle of June, in the payment ofthis small amount of £”], but this is the first intimation that I have had of the complaint, and I shall take steps to cause an inquiry to be made into the honorable member’s allegations. One would think that it must have been the result of an extraordinary pressure of work in the Sydney General Post Office. Mr. Young, the Deputy Postmaster-General, is a very courteous and industrious officer, and, I believe, there has been a great pressure of work of late. I can hardly conceive of such a delay being attributable to negligence. If the honorable member willi hand me the letter, I shall cause inquiry to be made at once, and inform him of theresult.
– I wish to call the attention of the Minister of External Affairs to a few passages in the Constitution, and to assure him that, if the States possess the power that they have exercised lately, to place an embargo on the products of other States, then there is no Federation, and all the money we have spent and the speeches we have made for the adoption of the Constitution have been absolutely useless. If the States have that power, we are simply as we were prior to Federation, a segregation of wrangling political nonentities. Section 51 of the Constitution provides that-
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth, with respect to -
Trade and commerce with other countries, and among the States.
If those powers were transferred by the States to the Commonwealth, then the States abrogated their power to interfere with the products of other States, so long as those products are healthy, and do not violate the laws of the Commonwealth. It is the Commonwealth that has to exercise the quarantine powers. We spent some time last year in passing the Quarantine Act. That is now part of the law of the Commonwealth, and yet the States of New South Wales and Victoria, without consulting the Commonwealth, have placed embargoes on the products of Tasmania.
– It is a dodge to put up the price.
– Of course, it is. There is no question that there is a potato ring in Melbourne, and a potato ring in Sydney. There is as much Irish blight in Victoria as in Tasmania. It is to be found in several parts of Victoria and New South Wales. Since it appeared in Ireland in 1846 and 1847, no part of the world where potatoes have been grown permanently and continuously has escaped the disease. Yet New South Wales and Victoria assert that the blight exists only in Tasmania. It exists in different parts of Australia, and there was never any intention of shutting out the Tasmanian potatoes until it suited the ring to do so. I am told that potatoes are now£25 a ton in Western Australia, while they are from£9 to £10 a ton here. The poor people of Melbourne and Sydney are deprived of the opportunity of purchasing the Tasmanian red skins, and have to pay twice as much for spawns grown by Chinese on the mainland. The great States of Victoria and New South Wales are exercising an unconstitutional power to protect the Chinese growers of potatoes. Section 54, sub-section 2, of the Quarantine Act provides -
If the imported plants are found to be free from disease, and the quarantine officer is satisfied that they can be delivered to the importer without danger of introducing any disease, he may, subject to the regulations, authorize their delivery to the importer.
It is the Commonwealth quarantine officer, and not the Victorian or New South Wales quarantine officer, who has to decide. Subsection 3 of the same section provides -
If the imported plants are found not to be free from disease, or the quarantine officer is not satisfied that they can be delivered to the importer without danger of introducing some disease, he shall order the plants into quarantine.
It is the Commonwealth officer who has to do that.
– Is the Commonwealth officer satisfied ?
– The States have no power to interfere in the matter.
– I should think they had a right to be consulted.
– The States did not give the Commonwealth officer an opportunity to decide. In other words, the States have invaded the Commonwealth Constitution, but the Government of the Commonwealth are afraid to exercise their great powers, and to tell Victoria and New South Wales that they are violating the Constitution. Section 99 of the Constitution provides -
The Commonwealth shall not, by any law or regulation of trade, commerce, or revenue, give preference to one State or any part thereof over another State or any part thereof.
– A number of men outside want work.
– That is not a fair remark. The Ministerof Defence must be labouring under a multiplicity of delusions when he cannot see the necessity for helping us to do justice to the potato growers of Tasmania.
– I desire to do good to men who want work.
– It is high time that attention was called to the violation of the Constitution by the States of Victoria and New South Wales. If Ministers look to the United States, whence most of our Constitution was derived, they will find that no such thing as Victoria and New South Wales have done would be possible there. No State in America could, by a subterfuge, raise a barrier to shut out the products of other States. Surely it will be admitted that the State of Tasmania has suffered enough already. She suffers by reason of her separation from the mainland, and from the operations of a throttling shipping ring. Let me quote a letter which I have received to-day from a business man in Melbourne. He says - 414 Flinders-lane,
Melbourne, 26th August,1909.
King O’Malley, Esq.,
House of Representatives, Melbourne.
I am pleased to see that you are taking an interest in the action taken by the Agricultural Department here with reference to the prohibition of sound Tasmanian potatoes. I am enclosing the copy of a letter I sent to the Age yesterday, but they have not inserted it.
I hope that the Tasmanian Government can be induced to give financial assistance to the Tasmanian shipper to test the legality of the action of the Victorian Department.
The following is the letter which this gentleman sent to the Age, but which was not inserted -
The Editor, Age Office, City.
I do not believe the heavily burdened consumer in Melbourne can be aware of the outrageous action contemplated by the Victorian Minister of Agriculture in insisting upon the destruction of some three hundred (300) tons of magnificent Tasmanian potatoes passed by his own inspectors as being absolutely free from disease. And why? To make a market for the Victorian farmer at the expense of the consumer for the purpose of putting extra money into the Victorian farmer’s pocket.
I trust, therefore, you will use your influence to prevent such a scandalous waste of good food.
Melbourne, 25th August, 1909.
I have also received a letter from a farmer on the north-west coast of Tasmania. I know how these farmers have to work. In the present case, an absolute wrong is being done to thousands of them. The writer says -
Melbourne, 26th August, 1909. The Hon. K. O’Malley, M.P.,
On 12th August I had landed in Melbourne 1,140 bags of potatoes. These were inspected and passed before shipment at Stanley, Tasmania. On arrival, in Melbourne on Thursday, 12th inst., the inspectors proceeded to reinspect in which work they took up the balance of the week, it being on the following Monday when I was notified that 835 bags were condemned. During this time the market collapsed, and I had to take fully £2 10s. per ton less than I would have received had the potatoes been inspected more expeditiously. This morning I was on the wharf and found two inspectors cutting open my potato sacks, and on inquiry I was told that they were looking for samples of Irish blight for their chief. I then emptied out on the wharf two bags out of a lot of 189, two bags out of a lot of 109, two bags out of a lot of go, and the inspector who condemned them and another who accompanied him failed to find one infected potato in the three lots examined, notwithstanding that they had lain on thewharf exposed to the weather for a fortnight.
Had I received a fair inspection, I could have placed all these and other lots of potatoes now on the wharf which I know to be quite free from disease previous to the embargo being placed on them.
This is a serious matter, not only for the farmers of Tasmania, but for the con sumers of Australia. It is a serious matter for the miners of Western Australia, and for the thousands of industrial workers of Melbourne and other cities, who are being deprived of these splendid potatoes, just because Ministers do not insist upon the law of the Commonwealth being paramount. They are allowing the States to exercise powers which they have no right to assume. A cruel wrong is being done to the Tasmanian farmers whose potatoes were landed on the wharfs in Melbourne long before the embargo was raised. They had the assurance that their potatoes would be allowed to be distributed. But the Victorian Minister of Agriculture has now shut them out. He has exercised powers which pertain to the Commonwealth only. I wish we had but one courageous Minister, who would throttle this secession movement, this flagrant violation of the Commonwealth Constitution. We are returning to the conditions that prevailed in the old days, when trade was thwarted by political nonentities. I only wish that for two days I could be Minister of External Affairs. This matter could be quickly ventilated, and a test case would soon settle it. We have certain powers under the Constitution and the Quarantine Act, but have not the courage to exercise them. But we should not sit ona stone wall like Mr. Facing-both-ways, or be like the blank leaf between the Old and New Testaments, which belongs to neither dispensation. Sometimes I wonder whether Parliaments are not a mistake, and dictators the right thing. One may make out the best case in the world from every point of view, only to be told that there will be an inquiry, and that ends the matter. I am sure that the Minister wishes to obtain justice for the producers of Tasmania. That State joined the Federation without making any bargains, trusting that she would receive fair play. But, while the others have gained, she has lost. I wish also to bring to the notice of the Postmaster-General the following letter -
Council Chambers, Stanley, 20th August, 1909.
The Hon. King O’Malley, M.P.,
I have been directed to forward you the following resolution passed at the last meetingof the Circular Head Municipal Council : - “That this Council, as representatives of the people of Circular Head, do respectfully urge the Federal Government to have Stanley included as a port of call for the subsidized steamers carrying mails between the north-west coast and Melbourne, at least once a week, and that this resolution be forwarded to the proper authorities through the Hon. King O’Malley.”
I lately presented a petition, signed by hun dreds of farmers and traders, whose prayer was of the same tenor. There are over 10,000 persons dependent for communication on steamers like the Orion, which disappeared seven or eight months ago without leaving a trace. At the present time, the boat from Melbourne to Burnie passes within 5 of 6 miles of Circular Head every trip, carrying the mail 50 miles further than it need travel. The letters have then to be brought back by coach to Stanley, and sent another 50 or 60 miles to Marrawah, and 40 miles further to Balfour. This great farming country, whose people, I am sorry to say, are still a little Conservative, though there is hope for their salvation, is almost isolated. Before the last mail contract was signed, the Flora used to go into Stanley, I have been told on good authority that the Union Steam-ship Company has a controlling interest in the smaller lines of vessels which trade to that part of the Commonwealth, or an honorable understanding with their directors. The vessels of the line are good enough for river work, but too small for the trade between Tasmania and Melbourne. While the residents of our big cities have libraries, theatres, large churches with eloquent pastors, and splendid entertainments of various kinds to enliven their leisure, those in the country districts have none of these things, and it is not too much to ask that their means of communication be improved. I hope that the PostmasterGeneral will insist, in connexion with the next mail contract, that the Oonah shall go to Stanley at least once a week, either in coming from Burnie to Melbourne or on the return journey.
– It is a matter of cost.
– It would not delay the vessel half an hour to make this call, and could not increase the cost of the service very much. If the shipping company does not treat the public better, giving them the communication to which they are entitled, the seven-leagued boots of Socialism will trample them out of existence.
– I wish to direct attention to a matter affecting the administration of the old-age pensions law. From replies recently given to questions which I asked the Treasurer, I gather that the complaints which have reached me from my State have been caused by the difference between the property allowance under the State Act and that under the Commonwealth Act which has superseded it. There is no doubt that the Federal enactment confers a very great boon upon a large section of the community, especially in the States where oldage pensions are now being paid for the first time. In a matter of this kind, we should aim at achieving uniformity, and, in this connexion, it is worthy of note that the legislation enacted by the various States differed in several very important particulars. I extract the following from Knibb’s Year-book of Australia, in reference to New South Wales -
The pension is diminished by £1 per annum for every £1 of income above £26 in the case of a separate pensioner, and for every £1 above £19 10s. in the case of husband and wife living together, and by £1 for every£15 of property owned by the pensioner in either case. In Victoria the pension is diminished by1s. per week for every shilling earned over 2s. per week, and by 6d. per week for every£10 of property, other than furniture and personal effects to the value of£25. In Queensland the pension is diminished by £1 per annum for every complete pound of annual income above £26, and also by £1 per annum for every complete £15 of net capital value of accumulated property. The maximum income that may be received, inclusive of pension, is, therefore, £52 per annum in New South Wales and Queensland, and £31 4s. per annum in Victoria, and the maximum amount of property that may be held is£389 in New South Wales, £159 in Victoria, and£259 in Queensland. In Victoria possession of money above the amount of £10 acts as a disqualification.
That passage shows that New South Wales treated her old-age pensioners very much more liberally than did the other States in the matter of their income, and of their accumulated property. The Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act passed by this Parliament provides for a deduction of £1 for every £10 of income in excess of £50. whilst in New South Wales and Queensland the law formerly sanctioned a deduction of £1 for every£15 of income. The effect of Commonwealth legislation upon this subject is that a number of pensioners upon being transferred from State to Federal control have been notified of deductions in their pensions, and naturally they cannot understand the reasonwhy those deductions are made. It would be a graceful aet on the part of the Commonwealth to fall intoline with the more progressive States by diminishing the amount of old-age pensions by only£1 for every £15 of property owned by the pensioner. In that way, a great deal of the existing friction might be removed. Some time ago the Premier of Queensland intimated that if the Commonwealth did not reduce the residential qualification of applicants from twenty-five to twenty years, so as to bring its legislation into harmony, with that which obtained in Queensland, he would see that that State provided pensions in the case of claims disallowed by the Commonwealth. It will be seen, therefore, that he recognised the justice of those claims. The matter was also brought under the notice of the Premier of New South Wales, and his recommendation was that representations be made to the Federal authorities. The Commonwealth, I am glad to say, has reduced the age limit, tout, so far, it has not effected any change in the amount of the accumulated property which1 a pensioner may possess. I would strongly urge upon the Government the desirableness of effecting a levelling up in this matter. I do not know to what extent it would involve the Commonwealth in additional expenditure, ‘ but from correspondence which has reached me from my own electorate, I gather that a considerable number of deductions have been made. Under the State regulation, if the accumulated property happened to be a deposit of £100 in a bank, the owner was allowed an exemption of £50, and on the balance a reduction was made at the rate of £1 for every £15, or he “was reduced by the amount of about £$ 6s. 8d. on the accumulated property. The interest drawn was, I understand, treated as capital. .1 am told that under the Commonwealth a different principle has been instituted, and that the deduction on account of a deposit of £100 in a bank, allowing for an exemption of £50, amounts to £5, and if £3 is received as interest, that is treated as income, so that on the £100 there is. a deduction of £8 per annum as against the pension allowance. This is a matter of very serious moment to many persons. Again, in New South Wales, it was customary to pay pensions monthly, and to meet the position of applicants as far as possible. A number of applicants were so located that it was not very convenient for them to get to the paying office, but the Department endeavoured to convenience them as far as possible, and, so far as I can gather, very little injustice was done. Under the Commonwealth, however, fortnightly payments are made. In some cases applicants would prefer to receive their payments monthly, because of the inconveniences which I have indicated. But another trouble has arisen. The payments are not made through every post-office, but only through post-offices which are authorized to issue money orders. The other day there was brought under mv notice a case in my electorate where the applicant resided 20 miles from the paying office, although there was a post-office in his near neighbourhood. He cannot draw his pay at the local postoffice, because it is not authorized to issue money orders, and he has to travel 20 miles fortnightly to’ the paying office. Not having any conveyance of his own, he is compelled to utilize the coach, ‘which means a fare, and the coach so runs that it involves the passing of a night in the town. I do not see why there should be a hard-and-fast rule laid down that payments can only be made at. post-offices which are authorized to issue money orders. I think that any postoffice should have the power to act on behalf of the Commissioner, and to make these payments. The aim of the Department should be to make it as easy as they can for unfortunate people to draw their pensions. In that way a considerable amount of convenience could be afforded. The invalid section of the Old-age Pensions Act provides that in certain cases a pension may be paid to a person under sixtyfive, but over sixty, years of age. I am told that that section is administered in such a way that practically only those persons who are physically unfit and incapable of work to an extent which a doctor can certify is permanent can secure the benefit of a pension. I do not think, that that was the intention of the Legislature. If, by reason of premature age or physical defects arising from age, any person is incapacitated from earning a living, that fact ought to be sufficient to enable him to qualifyunder the section. That was, I think, the intention. A more liberal interpretation might reasonably be given to the section, and by doing so a number of very deserving persons could be benefited. The other day I had a case brought under my notice where an aged lady was unable to earn a living because of rheumatism in her hands and arms, but because the doctor could not see his way to certify that she was physically incapable of earning a living, not only for the present, but for the rest of her life, apparently she is debarred from getting the benefit of the provision. I am told that the stringency of the administration is such that very few applications have been approved, and very few are likely to be approved while such administration is continued. I submit that the intention of the Legislature is being frustrated, and the Government are doing a grave injustice to a large number of very deserving persons, who ought to receive fairer treatment at their hands. A few nights ago I brought under the Minister’s attention the matter of the administration of his office in Sydney. I pointed out to him that, according to the information I received, the office was required to do considerable additional work, compared with what had to be done under State control. Many more applications have been put in, but no provision has been made to meet the extra demands upon the office, with the result that the officers are working overtime, and there is a danger of the Department getting into a chaotic state. The Treasurer promised to look into the matter and have it remedied. I shall be glad to know that he has done so, and that the increased staff which is necessary for the proper execution of the work will be provided at a very early date. I cannot conceive of anything more detrimental to the proper administration of this humanitarian legislation than to allow the administrative staff to get into a disorganized condition. I have no more to say on the matter, but I felt that I should not be doing justice to the aged people in the State from which I come if I did not bring their grievances before the House.
– Why not. bring up specific cases, which can be looked into?
– When specific cases are brought up, the only reply is that they are not provided for in our legislation. I hope the Minister will look into the question of administration to which I have referred, and see that the branch of the Department in Sydney is properly equipped to carry out its work in a satisfactory manner.
Question resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I see the Prime Minister is reported in the press to have said that the recommendations of the Imperial Defence Conference having been made, an early opportunity would be taken to bring the matter before the House. I wish to ask the Minister of Defence whether he will take advantage of the opportunity, when speaking to-morrow, to give honorable members some idea of the approximate cost of carrying out the proposed recommendations of the Conference, so that we may be able to discuss the proposals of the Premiers and the Budget effectively ?
– In reply to the honorable member for West Sydney, I have only to say that I am not in a position to give him any detailed information. With the honorable member, I see what is appearing in the press from day to day, and that is practically all I know about the matter. I know nothing of the details and probable cost involved in the recommendations referred to. I should be glad to give the honorable member any information I could, but I have no information to give at present. I should like to congratulate my honorable friends opposite on the success with which they are so evidently blocking the Works Estimates.
– We had a good lesson in that respect from the honorable gentleman.
– The honorable member will not find that I ever attempted to block the Works Estimates. They have always been dealt with in this House with the greatest possible expedition.
– Does the honorable gentleman not think that it is presumption on his part to say that we are blocking them?
– The object in setting aside the ordinary discussion of the Budget was to enable the Works Estimates, to be put through, so that there should be no delay in the carrying out of public works.
– The Government refused to go on with therm yesterday.
– The Works Estimates were before the House yesterday.
– Yes, when the Opposition made a stand.
– And, having insisted upon the Government bringing them on, nothing has been done. Is this not a piece of hypocritical pretence? Honorable members insist that these works should go forward, and when an effort is made to consider the Works Estimates, they will not touch them. I think it is time to expose this hypocritical pretence. Here we have been for two days discussing Works Estimates, and not a penny provided for in them has yet been passed.
– Whose fault is that?
– The fault of those who are frittering away the time of the House.
– At what time did the Government adjourn last night?
– Th-j honorable member knows that we adjourned when, at a very late hour, honorable members opposite told us that they, were going to put no more business through. We are again adjourning to-night, and there is still nothing done. In the meantime, public works, involving the expenditure ot £1,000,000, are waiting to bo proceeded with. Honorable members opposite profess to be the special guardians of the working men, who are chiefly interested in the speedy passage of the Works Estimates, but the working men are being left outside to starve.
– The working men I
– Yes, the working men. 1 wish that the working men outside could see what goes on inside this House.
– Order I I have several times called order, and I appeal to honorable members to permit the Minister to continue his remarks without interruption.
– I say that there are men outside who are being turned away-
– I call attention to the fact that there is not a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– I have no more to say.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11. 15 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 August 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19090826_reps_3_51/>.