3rd Parliament · 4th Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Report (No. 3) presented by Mr. Edwards, read by the Clerk, and adopted.
– The Minister of Defence is. reported in to-day’s Age to have said, regarding a proposal to construct the third torpedo destroyer in Victoria, that -
The report is distinctly favorable. They say they can do the work. The matter does not press for an immediate settlement. It is not likely that anv decision as to where the third destroyer is to be constructed will be arrived nt till Captain Creswell returns to Australia.
Are we to suppose that the honorable gentleman intends to accept the report referred to as an accurate presentment of the capabilities of the Melbourne dockyard, and proposes to have the vessel built in this State?
– The honorable member is not warranted in supposing more than the words imply. I repeat that no decision has’ been arrived at, and that the whole affair will be further considered before any determination is come to.
– With regard to a statement in to-day’s newspapers as to the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow, I wish to know whether the plans and specifications for the building are to hand; and. when a start will: be made with the work ?
– Commander Clarkson is visiting works in America’ where the machinery will be made, to obtain material on which to draw a sketch plan whereon a more detailed plan may be based for the housing of the machinery when landed here.
– It is stated in to-day’s Argus that a clerk in the employ of the Electrical Branch at Perth took 101 coils of galvanized iron wire from the local Stores Branch, using it to fence a selection, and that the wire would not have been missed had not the man, becoming consciencestricken, given himself up for stealing it? Does not the Minister think that that fact shows extreme lack of supervision in the Stores Branch at Perth ?
– The facts as represented, indicate lack of supervision. I shall cause an inquiry to be made, and announce the result when the Estimates of my Department are under consideration.
– Has the Minister of Defence caused negotiations to be entered into, either- at the Imperial Defence Conference, or since, for the supply of cordite - if necessary, manufactured under Admiralty supervision, so that it may be up to standard - from our proposed factory to the. new naval unit in the South Seas? That arrangement would cheapen the cost.
– No such proposal was made to the Conference. We are proceeding with all possible dispatch to provide ourselves with cordite.
– Some time ago, the Prime Minister, in anticipation of a vote of Parliament, gave £1,000 to the Women’s Work Exhibition. As its trustees have just given £500 of their surplus to the State Government, I wish to know why this Government has not asked for the return of its contribution.
– The Commonwealth has not lost by the transaction referred to. I shall make inquiries as to what has occurred.
– Is it the intention of the Government to place on the Estimates a sum to reimburse the Agricultural ImplementWorkers’ Union the costs incurred in fighting the Excise harvester case on behalf of the Commonwealth?
– To place a sum on the Estimates for these costs incurred by private persons would involve similar consideration in all cases in which it may be held by a Court that, in consequence of some addition or omission, some expression or want of authority for an Act, any person has been prejudiced. Such a far reaching precedent should not be established, and therefore such a sum cannot be placed on the Estimates.
Telephone Instruments : Telegraph Messengers’ Half Holiday
– Is it a fact that no Australian manufacturer has tendered for the manufacture of telephone instruments, and, if so, will the Postmaster-General exhaust every possible means of having them manufactured, either in Government, workshops, or elsewhere, before he places any large order with a foreign manufacturer?
– I regret to say that it is a fact that there has been no response to advertisements, under two sets of conditions, calling for tenders for telephones to be made in Australia. I have requested the professional officers of the Department to advise as to whether the conditions and specifications should not be considered, arid put into some shape or form that will facilitate a response - whether there is any difficulty in the existing form of the tenders or. conditions, plan or pattern, to prevent tenders.
– Surely, we have brains enough in Australia to construct telephones ?
– Whether we have brains or not, it is a fact that no tenders have been received, and I am endeavouring to reopen the matter. Every desire is felt by the Department to facilitate the manufacture of these instruments in Australia. When a report has been received from the professional advisers, I hope it will be possible to so frame the specifications, as to offer better inducements to persons to engage in the manufacture of these important instruments.
– Does the PostmasterGeneral know, or does any official ofthe Department know, any reason why these telephones cannot be manufactured in the Department ?
– At present, we have neither machinery, work-shops, nor expert workmen at the disposal of the Department ; and it would certainly seem that, if private manufacturers cannot enter into this business under existing conditions, there would be great difficulty in the way of the Government doing so.
– Having a knowledge of the attitude of experts in regard to Australian manufactures, I should like to know whether the Postmaster-General will go a step further, and, when he gets the advice of his officers, consult with representatives of manufacturers and workers in each of the States, and obtain their opinions as to why tenders have not been submitted, and not allow any professional technicalities to stand in the way of these instruments being made in Australia ?
– I have already indicated that I am obtaining reports and suggestions on the subject from the professional advisers of the Department. When I see the reports, it will be my duty to come to a decision on the subject, and I shall inform honorable members as to what my opinion is.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that firms are now advertising that they are manufacturing telephone instruments in Australia? Is the honorable gentleman further aware that I purchased two instruments that were supposed to be manufactured in Melbourne? If these instruments were not manufactured here, I was “ had.”
– In view of the establishment of a small arms factory, will the Postmaster-General consult the Defence Department, with a view to having the metallic portions of these instruments constructed, if possible, at that factory, and ascertain the comparative cost?
– I am not able to answer that question; and shall be glad if the honorable member will give notice of it.
– Would the Department not be in a better position to undertake the construction of these telephones than would a private manufacturer, seeing that the Department would always be sure to repeat orders, while a private firm would not ?
– I am not able to express an opinion now on such an important question of policy, and I must ask that notice be given of the question.
– I am informed that the telegraph messengers are not permitted to have a half-holiday per week. If this be so, will the Postmaster-General endeavour to give them the same holiday as is given to every other public servant?
– I shall be pleased to inquire into the matter,and inform the honorable member what is the practice.
Sir JOHN QUICK laid upon the table the following paper : -
Colonial Navy Bill
– The Prime Minister, in answer to a previous question, informed me that he had no information except that given in the newspapers, in regard to the Colonial Navy Bill, now before the House of Commons. That measure, I understand, is to be imperative in its operation in regard to seamen who enlist in the Australian Navy; and I ask the Prime Minister whether he has made any further protest against the non-submission of the proposal to him, seeing that it affects a large number of our own people?
– I have been unable yet to obtain a copy of the Bill, or read a clear statement of its contents, though I expect to have the measure soon.
– Does the Prime Minister regard compulsory enlistment or control by an outside authority as a trivial matter, or does he not think it is the duty of our representative in London to communicate with him? Will the Prime Minister endeavour to find out something about the Bill, which is undoubtedly being passed by the Imperial Parliament, and which mav bind Australian seamen?
– I cannot assume, and fail to find grounds for assuming, that the Bill can go to such a length as to interfere with proposals for the establishment of the new unit. If the Imperial
Bill does not apply to the new unit, it does not seem to apply to anything that affects us.
– But if it does go further ?
– Then, of course, we can take action.
– Can the Minister of Home Affairs say when the police will be instructed to collect the electoral rolls in New South Wales, or, if they have already commenced, when he expects the work will be completed?
– The chief electoral officer has just returned from New South Wales, and I understand that satisfactory arrangements have been made. The canvass will be entered on in the course of a few days, and the rolls will be completed by the end of the year.
– Have the police yet started on the work in Victoria, and, if so, when is it likely to be finished?
– A start has not been made in Victoria, but will shortly be entered on, with a view of having the rolls absolutely completed not later than the 31st December.
– Has the amending provision in the Old-age Pensions Act, reducing the period of residence from twenty-five to twenty years been communicated to the magistrates who have to deal with applications ?
– If I were to answer the question without notice, I should certainly say that the decision has been so communicated, but I shall be glad if the honorable member will give notice.
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
On the suggestion of Mr. Deakin, and by leave of honorable members, the Hon. Sir Langdon Bonython was accommodated with a seat on the floor of the House.
– I move -
Although this question is one which I have brought under the notice of the House on previous occasions, I feel that no apology is necessary for again directing attention to it, in view of its supreme importance as affecting the future advancement and security of Australia, and of Australian trade with the British Empire and the rest of the world. I wish honorable members to understand that there is no fiscal intention underlying the motion. I approach this question, not from the fiscal stand- point, but rather from the point of view of its national importance as affecting the interests of the whole Empire. Apart from the fact that these islands offer a tremendous field for commercial exploitation, withimmense potentialities of wealth to tempt speculators and settlers ; the necessity is urgent and imperative for establishing effective British occupation of them as a prelude to opening up negotiations for their absolute annexation by Great Britain at a later date. Naval considerations render such a course not only desirable, but highly necessary. Some thirtyyears ago the whole of the north and south Pacific, so far as the islands were concerned, was practically terra incognita to European nations, and it is only within the last quarter of a century that the eyesof the great European Powers, especially those which are Great Britain’s most formidable trading rivals, have been turned towards the Pacific as a field for profitable trade expansion and general exploitation for commercial purposes. But what is more important still, they recognised that the possession of islands in the Pacific would give them an important advantage in the matter of establishing coaling stations and naval depots for fleets which might be necessary either for raiding British commerce or protecting their own in time of war. We have to consider the situation of the New Hebrides group of islands, in their geographical relation to Australia, in the light of the expected opening of the Panama Canal within the course of a few years. That canal is no longer a merely imaginary project, for the work has not only been commenced, but has been greatly developed, and is practically nearing completion. Some of the gravest difficulties have already been overcome, and others which have presented themselves are being met in a way which promises well for the early opening of this new avenue of traffic. Any honorable member who studies the mapof the Pacific between the coast of Australia and the coast of America will see that the construction of that canal means the opening up of a new and more direct route from Europe and eastern America to Australia, and that it will shorten the distance considerably, and be a powerful factor in. transforming what has hitherto been almost a trackless waste of water into one of the world’s busiest commercial highways. In time of war the new route will enable merchantmen to avoid the European coasts and enjoy a larger measure of security in the wide expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. Great Britain, unfortunately, seems to have been very slow to recognise the importance of this question. Up to a few years ago such an amount of apathy was exhibited by the Colonial Office as to well nigh cause despair to eat into the hearts of the various Colonial Governments which had from time to time represented to the British Government the importance of securing possession of the principal islands in the Pacific. Some twenty-three years ago I addressed a public meeting in Sydney on the subject. I was a very, young man then, but I had travelled a great deal and had visited many of the South Sea groups of islands. I was thus able to realize the importance of Great Britain retaining control over the more important Pacific Islands and New Guinea. As a result of that meeting a deputation laid before the then Premier of New South Wales certain proposals, of which he approved. He subsequently made representations to the Colonial Office as to the importance of bringing the islands entirely under British control. Unfortunately, in accordance with the apparently established custom of the time, all, he received was practically a snub for his pains. He was informed bv the gentlemen then in charge of the Colonial Office that there was not the slightest indication that any European Power had designs on the islands, and that so far as they were able to ascertain, the islands would remain in undisturbed possession of the naked savages that inhabited them, for the next 200 years at least.
– Is not that still the attitude of the Colonial Office?
– Not to the same extent, but very largely. Within four years considerable ‘ activity was shown in the Pacific by Great Britain’s immediate European neighbours and trade rivals, France and Germany, as well as by America. This illustrates how little was the interest taken at the time by the British Colonial Office in any matter appertaining to Australia and the Pacific. There seemed to be a disposition on its part to regard the Colonial possessions as somewhat of an encumbrance, and anything relating to them was airily brushed aside as being of no practical consequence. I am pleased to note that of later years a slight change has come over the spirit which seemed then to prevail, but even now the British authorities do not appear to be anything like sufficiently alive to the interests of Australia, and of Great Britain, in the Pacific. Foreign nations are not so apathetic. They have realized the importance of these islands, and what their possession means, not only commercially, but strategically. We see foreign powers now gradually distributing themselves all over the Pacific. The islands of that ocean are practically shared by the Americans, the Germans, the French, and the British.
Some of the groups of islands at present entirely under British control have been brought under that control only as the result of continuous watchfulness and repeated representations on the part of Australian and New Zealand Governments to the British authorities. As the result of such representations British annexation has followed in the most tardy fashion after having been in most cases more than once refused. It is for this reason that I urge the consideration of a rebate of duties or some other equivalent to encourage British settlers. When I speak of the British settlers I have in mind more particularly Australians, because it will be largely from Australia, that these islands will be settled. The trouble is that once having induced Australians to settle there, we treat them as aliens, and impose prohibitive duties on their produce, so as to exclude it from the only market available to them. I realize that any Government that takes action in the direction desired by me may have to face opposition offered from the protective as well as from the colour point of view, on the ground that maize and other cereals produced in these islands would come into competition with Australian-grown produce if no duty were imposed, and that they should, therefore, be shut out under what is the present policy of the Commonwealth. It is for that reason that I suggest that something in the nature of a rebate or its equivalent should be allowed. I thus leave the way open to the Government to devise a means by which the difficulty may be removed without disturbing their fiscal policy, although for my own part I would have all our white settlers in the islands treated as Australians.
– The honorable member’s proposal means anything or nothing.
– I hope it will mean that an earnest attempt will be made to deal with what is undoubtedly one of the most important questions that confront us. It, will presently assume an aspect of such grave significance that we shall be able no longer to ignore it, and what I fear is that when we do awake to the necessity of taking action we shall find that it is too late to do what we ought to have clone years before. I, therefore, ask honorable members, in dealing with this question, to put aside all considerations as to fiscalism oor local labour; to approach it from a broad national stand-point, to face such difficulties as confront them, and to consider how it affects the welfare of Australia, more especially from the point of view of defence. It will be for the Government to devise some means of meeting the difficulty that the white settlers from Australia and Great Britain have to encounter in having excluded from the Australian market their maize and other small crops on which they have to depend while waiting for their cocoamit plantations to reach the stage at which they will produce a marketable commodity.
– Their products are not different from those of Papua, which is Commonwealth territory.
– That is so, and I contend that we should treatthese islands as being practically Commonwealth territory. Every additional British settler there constitutes a further safeguard to the security, not only of Australia and her commerce, but of the Empire.
– The Colonial Office does not think that.
– The Colonial Office is slow to realize the importance of the question, and I want the Government to persist in drawing its attention to its urgency. This work, I trust, will come within the scope of the High Commissioner’s functions. There is great ignorance in the Old Country regarding these matters, and I shall presently relate some startling facts that will open the eyes of honorable members to the dilatoriness and supineness of the British Government in respect to this question. I hope that in any scheme for advertising the resources of Australia the advantages which these islands offer for the investment of British and Australian capital will not be overlooked, and that we shall endeavour in that way to build up a Greater Britain in the southern seas. Any scheme which would have the effect of removing from the British settlers the disabilities under which they now suffer would have my support. Some time ago, a shipping firm which . has acquired large areas of land in the New Hebrides offered special inducements to young men with families to settle there, to cultivate the cocoanut, and other tropical trees, and a number of persons accepted! the invitation in the hope of thus making their fortunes. The Commonwealth’ Tariff, however, prevented them from sending their produce to Australia, and they were ruined.
– The Islands trade commenced to decline while New South Wales was under a Free Trade policy.
– The special attempt at British colonization to which I refer was defeated by the operation of the Commonwealth Tariff. I would like, without raising the fiscal question, to get rid of the disability which the Tariff has imposed. Honorable members may be able to devise some scheme such as the giving of bounties for counteracting the effects of our import duties.
– That has been done to a certain extent.
– Only in a very small way, and it has failed to accomplish its object.
– New Caledonia consumes, and cannot grow, the products which the New Hebrides export, whereas Northern Australia can grow them.
– That is quite true, but it must be remembered that the French authorities allow to the French settlers a rebate of about 50 per cent. of all duties on produce, the rest of the revenue collected being spent on making roads, and creating other facilities for communicating with markets, and this practically amounts to a rebate of the entire duty. British settlers can take advantage of these arrangements by transferring their allegiance to the French flag, but the offering of this inducement to our people to become French citizens is a menace to us. And the more such inducements are availed of the greater is the certainty of the ultimate extinction of British interests within the group and the passing of the Islands entirely under French control. The following statement contains a brief review of the history of the colonization of the South Pacific -
Tahiti (Society Islands). 1797. British missionaries reached Tahiti. 1825. Queen Pomare asked for a British Protectorate. Refused. 1837. French missionaries reached Tahiti (40 years after British missionaries). 1838. (A year later) Admiral Dupetit Thouars forced a treaty upon Queen Pomare, who appealed again to Great Britain. 1839. The British Government declined to interfere. 1842. France established a Protectorate over the Group. 1843. The Tahitians protested against French rule and declared a desire for British rule. Dupetit Thouars, however, deposed the Queen, and it is stated imprisoned the British Consul.
Fiji. 1804. First British settlers reached Fiji. 1835. British missionaries reached Fiji. 1858. King Thakambau asked for British annexation. Refused. 1869. The white settlers appealed to the United States for Protectorate. President Grant refused. 1870. A Conference of Australian Premiers was held, and as a result advised annexation. Dr. Lang urged annexation by New South Wales. 1872. German traders had firmly established themselves, and a German warship visited the Group. 1874. Fiji again sought British annexation. “ Blackbirding.” 1875. Great Britain at last consented to annexation.
Tonga. 1797. British missionaries reach. 1842. (45 years later) - French missionaries arrive. 1842. King Josiah asks for British Protectorate. Refused. 1847. King George renews request for British Protectorate. Refused. 1870. (23 years later) - Germany acquired coal ing station at Vavau. 1883. New Zealand negotiated with Tonga. 1884. Lord Granville agreed to Bismarck’s proposal to make Tonga neutral territory. 1899. A German warship attempted to seize Taulanga harbor. 1900. British Protectorate at last declared.
Samoa. 1830. British missionaries landed. 1854. (24 years) - The Goddefroys of Hamburg established themselves. 1872. The United States got a coaling station at Pago Pago. Same year New Zealand offered to annex group. 1874. Steinberger, a German-American, prevailed upon the chiefs to ask for annexation by United States. Refused. 1883. New Zealand renewed negotiations for annexation. 1884. Lord Granville agreed to neutralize the Territory. 1885. Malietoa, supported by New Zealand, offers Islands to Great Britain. Refused. 1886. German Consul annexed Apia, and the United States Consul declared Protectorate of the Group. Both of these acts were subsequently annulled. Germany then supported Tamasee and brought on civil war. 1880. Three Powers formed joint Protectorate. 1898. Second civil war. 1900. Islands shared between Germany and United States.
New Guinea. 1828. Holland annexed western half. 1864. Sydney company proposed exploit eastern half. Great Britain forbade. 1870. British missionaries landed. 1874. Sir H. Parkes urged annexation and settlement. Refused by Colonial Office. 1878. Gold rush set in. Annexation again urged. Refused. 1879. Baron Maclay asked for establishment of British Protectorate of North-East Coast. Refused. 1882. German attention attracted to New Guinea “ as the foundation stone of a Colonial Kingdom.” 1883. Sir Thos. Mcllwraith, Premier of Queensland, annexed the eastern half - repudiated by Colonial Office. Colonial Convention urged annexation and offered to pay expenses. 1884. Lord Derby was willing, but Gladstone and Lord Granville refused assent. Germany then annexed North-Eastern New Guinea and all the adjacent islands.
New Hebrides. 1839. British Missionaries landed - British Sandalwood traders years before. 1849. Melanesian Mission founded. 1863. Presbyterian Missionaries petition for British annexation. Refused. 1875. Planters petition for French annexation. British Government interposes objection. 1880. All white settlers British. 1882. “ Societe Française des Nouvelles Hebrides “ founded. 1883. Britain and France agree to joint control. 1884. Germany urged French Protectorate. 1886. France urged concession of Islands to herself in consideration of offer to send no more convicts to New Caledonia - not entertained. 1887. Joint British and French Naval Commission appointed to protect white settlers. 1901-4. France renewed efforts to obtain sole control. Colonial Office apparently favorable, but restrained from giving way by strong representations of Federal Government. 1902. British and French residents appointed at Vila. 1905. Britain and France agreed to a Conference on question of disputed land titles in Group. 1906. Conference extended to embrace other outstanding questions. Draft Convention Agreement sent to Federal Government for opinion and suggestions if desired. Germany attempted to intervene in Conference. Agreement hurriedly signed and Australian suggestions ignored.
The draft convention agreement was submitted to the Federal Government in order that they might make any suggestions they thought desirable.
– The matter was settled first, and then we were consulted !
– I am not quite sure on the point. However, Germany, in the meantime, took a hand and interposed in a way that was thought likely to retard settlement, and, so far as I remember, the agreement was hurriedly signed and the suggestions of the Federal Government entirely ignored. That is the position now regarding the New Hebrides; and it is a most unsatisfactory position. The British settlers are complaining loudly ; and only recently a letter appeared in the London Times, and has been referred to in the newspapers of Australia. In the A,gus of yesterday there is the following cable: -
The Times this morning publishes a letter from its Sydney correspondent, which sets forth the grievances of British subjects in the New Hebrides. The writer alleges that the British Resident has been holding aloof from the settlers and traders, and that his chief concern is to avoid doing anything that may hurt the feelings of his French colleague, M. Noufflard. It is said that he makes no endeavour to secure a modification of regulations which press with undue severity upon the British.
What truth there may be in that statement I am unable to say ; but it is very evident that complaints have been made, and equally evident, on information which reaches me privately, that there is cause for widespread dissatisfaction amongst the British settlers. It is urged that France is leaving no stone unturnedto minimize British influence, and reduce British claims to practically nil, thus placing British settlers in such a position that, when the respective claims of the French and the British come before the tribunal to be appointed, the French will have a preponderating advantage by reason of their much stronger position, and their laudable keenness and determination to see that no point is neglected that will tell in their favour. In this connexion there recently appeared in the Age, the date of which I regret I omitted to note, the following : -
Keen disappointment was expressed in Presbyterian circles yesterday at the announcement which appeared in The Age that the Federal Government had found it impossible to take action in regard to the land question in the New Hebrides, where the French authorities are actively engaged in preparing their claims for the Anglo-French Land Court, while little or nothing has been done to assist the British settlers in the group. Information has reached the Presbyterian Church authorities that over twenty French surveyors are at present surveying land in the islands, and that a large number of the British settlers has been served with notices that certain areas are claimed by the French.
That is a most serious matter as affecting the interests of the British settlers. It seems that while we - and by “ we “ I mean both the British and the Federal Governments, though, perhaps, the latter, in a lesser degree - are largely sleeping on our rights, and permitting the French, as time goes on, to gradually acquire greater hold on these lands and to establish a much better claim to effective occupation than, under present conditions, is possible for British’ settlers. It must be understood that I am not speaking of the present Federal Government particularly but of Federal Governments in general. The report in the Age proceeds -
In the island is a large tract of mission land, which is held in trust by the missionaries for the natives, and the fear is entertained that if assistance is not rendered in some direction that this will be handed over to the French, as well as other areas which in the future would be useful for cultivation and planting. The Presbyterian Church of Victoria, with a view to conserving as much as possible the interests of the British and Australian missionaries and natives, has, as forecasted in The Age, been compelled in the circumstances to seek the assistance of private enterprise, and yesterday negotiations were completed with the agents of Burns, Philp and Co., the well known Queensland shipping firm, whereby a qualified surveyor and assistant surveyor shall proceed to the New Hebrides by ist September, for the purpose of surveying and mapping out all mission lands and the holdings of all British settlers who may avail themselves of their services.
While the Presbyterian Church people are to be highly commended for their action, this responsibility ought not to have been placed upon them ; it is not work for them, but for the British Government, in justice to the British settlers. And while only one surveyor, with an assistant, is being sent - and then only as the result of private individual effort - the French Government are sending twenty surveyors to the group. The report in the Age continues -
The expenses incurred will be borne conjointly by Bums, Philp and Co., who, it is understood, are also interested to a large extent in the islands, and the New Hebrides mission authorities connected with the churches.
The surveyors _ will begin operations at the Island of Efate, where a large area is in dispute, and the work is expected to occupy over two years. As soon as the survey is completed the mission will arrange, also with the assistance of Burns, Philp and Co., for a legal expert to proceed to the islands, in order that the claims of the British may be properly presented to the joint court. The French judge has not yet been officially appointed, although it is regarded as almost certain that Mons. Collone, who is resident on the island and watching operations, will be chosen for the position. The joint court will not sil for some time, and up to the present the King of Spain has not nominated a -president, whose residence will also have to be erected before proceedings are commenced. . 1 think, speaking from memory, that that article was published in May last. These reports, coming to hand from time to time, show a serious condition of things so far as British settlers are concerned, and ] strongly urge that further representations be made to the Colonial Office, that they should carry out their portion of the agree- ment with the French Government, and that they should also provide a sufficient number of surveyors to adequately cope with the work that must be taken in hand to protect the interests of British settlers. I do not l.now whether that work would come within the scope of the British authorities solely, or whether the Colonial Office would expect the Federal authorities to bear the cost, either in vhole or in part. The Federal Government might, perhaps, be asked to share the expense jointly. . I place particular stress upon the New Hebrides, apart from their commercial value; because I know, from a visit I paid to the islands a few years ago, that they are very advantageously situated in close proximity to the direct trade route between Australia and the Panama, and possess two of the finest harbors in the world. The” harbor of Port Sandwich in the Island of Mallicollo, and the harbor of Havannah in the Island of Vate, or Efate are two of the finest that anybody could wish to have. Unlike many other harbors in the Southern Pacific, they are unobstructed to any serious extent by those outlying coral reefs which are such a serious source of danger to navigation, especially in the hurricane months. Those two harbors are not only capable of giving safe anchorage to the largest battleships afloat, of giving shelter, in fact, to the combined heels of any two of the largest naval powers in the world, but they are always approachable in all conditions of weather, “either for in- gress or egress. I think the entrance to the harbor of Havannah is about a mile and a half wide. It has a depth of. v>;;1er, even in the entrance, of upwards ox 90 fathoms. For some distance up, o’.i can get 30 and 40 fathoms, and quite close in shore, from 5 to 8 fathoms. It is practically land-locked, because the two islands of Deception and Protection practically form the harbor, and make it absolutely safe. They are easily fortified, and the position could be made as absolutely secure and impregnable as Gibraltar. ‘ It would be to. the Pacific route what Gibraltar is to the eastern route through the Suez Canal ; and, if fortified, it would be equally impregnable and unassailable by an enemy. The French realize the importance of these harbors, p.nd so do other European nations. The only people who appear absolutely indifferent about them are the officials in the Colonial Office of Great Britain. Yet, from this centre, raiding cruisers could operate with the most destructive effect upon commerce passing between the Panama Canal and Australia. With those islands as a base of operations, they could cut off our supplies and raid our commerce in every direction with absolute security to themselves; because they would be able to establish a naval base there, with a .coaling station and repairing arsenals. And Great Britain could do very little to check the operations of a hostile fleet so favorably circumstanced, in the absence of naval bases adjacent to . the great trade route. Any nation holding them could have a fleet in the Pacific detached from its own home fleet. The possession of the islands by a foreign power at any time, and the establishment of a naval base there, would mean either that Australia would have to keep up an immense navy of her own for effectively policing the trade route between here and Panama, .and even between here and the New Hebrides, or that Great Britain would have to detach a fleet from her home fleet for that special purpose. But a fleet could not, in any case, be maintained constantly at sea, with no naval base and no coaling stations within many hundreds of miles. “If the islands had passed under British control, they could have been fortified, and a naval base could have been established. This would have effectually prevented any foreign power from doing serious damage to our trade along the Pacific route.’ 1 suppose we may look to Germany more particularly, and perhaps earlier than to other nations, as a possible, but let us hope, not probable, belligerent in the not far distant future. We know that her commercial interests are growing to huge proportions, that she is Great Britain’s most formidable trade rival, that, if report speaks truly, she aspires to oust Great Britain from the -proud position of mistress of the seas, that she is developing naval strength with feverish rapidity, that she is trying to out-distance” Great Britain in the construction of battleships, and of a formidable fleet generally, and that we have to reckon on the possibility, of commercial rivalry between her and Great Britain reaching a point at which friendliness may be strained to the breaking point. We can only live in hope that that point will never be reached, but we must regard not only possibilities, but reasonable probabilities, considered in the light of clashing interests and national ambition’s. It may be argued - and I think there is something in the argument - that we can rely largely upon the assistance of the United States, which is also developing into a formidable naval power, to hold other nations in check if there is developed an aggressive tendency, and it is to be hoped for the sake of the peace of Australia and of the Pacific generally, that a cordial alliance will always be maintained between Great Britain and America as a means of insuring the mutual protection of the interests of each in the Pacific. But we have in what is familiarly known as the East, but what to Australia is really the North, to reckon also with China and Japan. I do not consider the Japanese as a likely disturbing element at present. I do not think there is any serious intention on their part to invade Australia. I believe that, for the present, they have means of providing for a large surplus population which render it unnecessary for them to turn their attention _ to Australia as a new field for colonizing enterprise, but we must take China very seriously into account. While she remains asleep, we may. regard ourselves as reasonably, safe, but we must not forget that China is now largely following the example of Japan in westernizing her ideas. She is sending her students to British colleges and universities, and all over Europe, to pick up a knowledge of the latest developments of science, and commercial, industrial, and educational advancement, and I look forward to the not far distant future when she will have constitutional government on British lines. When China wakes up, then will be the time for Australia to look out, for with her teeming millions, .already overrunning her territory, and continuously increasing, she will have to look elsewhere for new lands to occupy, and Australia, with! its empty spaces, presents a very inviting field for an Asiatic invasion, peaceful or otherwise. And we have not been over tactful in our attitude towards our Asiatic neighbours. That is another danger which renders it all the more important that we should establish, wherever we can, and as fast and extensively as we can, British settlement and occupation of as many islands in the Pacific as we can possibly manage. Every encouragement ought to be given to such settlement. I have been unable to ascertain from the Statistician’s Office exact figures regarding our trade with the New Hebrides, and the amount of British-grown produce which comes from there “to Australia, but, from the nature of things, it must be a very small and rapidly diminishing quantity. I can, however, lay before honorable members the total amount of trade. The Department informs me, that according to Whitaker, the native population im 1906 was about 100,000, and that the British settlers numbered 225, and the French 417. In 1902, the British numbered 162, and the French 226. Those figures, however, are very ancient, and it seems remarkable that we cannot obtain more up-to-date information regarding the islands than that with which I have been supplied. We know that the British population there is diminishing very rapidly.
– Did the honorable mem ber obtain his figures from the Department of Trade and Customs?
– No. I obtained them from the office of the Commonwealth Statistician, which, I thought, would be in possession of the latest figures. The total trade in 1908 is stated to have amounted to about ,£96,000, of which £53,000 represented imports, and £4,3,000 exports. The trade with the Commonwealth, in 1908, was as follows : - Imports into the Commonwealth from the New Hebrides, £28,867 ’? exports from the Commonwealth to the New Hebrides, £49,088. That trade is chiefly with New South Wales. The imports into the Commonwealth from the New- Hebrides, in 1903, were to the value of £18,678, and exports thereto were of the value of about £30,000. It will be seen that a comparison is drawn only between the returns of 1903, and those for 1908. I have no details of the trade to lay before the House. On receipt of this information a couple of days ago, I immediately applied for details as to the quantity and character of the imports from the New Hebrides into the Commonwealth, and the duty collected on them, but that information has not yet been supplied. The bulk of the trade shown by the Government Statistician to have taken place, indicates that the duty collected cannot be a serious item, and that the competition with our local products is not very material, I am proposing, not a permanent, but a temporary arrangement, by which the British and Australian settlers in the islands will be able to find in Australia a market for their intermediate products, whilst they are waiting for their cocoanut plantations to become productive. I wish, in conclusion, to give one or two more illustrations of the way in which British inte- rests in the Pacific have been neglected. I have paid several visits to the Hawaiian islands, and it is within my recollection that at one time there was a wellestablished and extensive trade between those islands and Australia, as well as with other parts of the world, which was carried on by means of British ships. America, at that time, coveted the possession of the islands, and King Kalakua, who had been educated in an English university, and was a thorough statesman, realized that, sooner or later, the United States would annex them. Desiring to anticipate such action by securing the establishment of a British Protectorate over them, he made a special journey to England to interview Queen Victoria on the subject. His mission, however, was unsuccessful. I cannot say whether or not Great Britain contemplated, at a later period, annexing the islands, but negotiations were proceeding for some time to establish over them a joint American and British Protectorate. Whilst they were in progress, King Kalakua died, and was succeeded by Queen Liliukalini. American settlers and traders were credited with having managed to stir up an internal revolution, with the result that the Queen was dethroned, and the United States stepped in and annexed the group. As the result of that annexation, Great Britain lost, in Honolulu, a fine naval base. The American flag waves over the group, and no trade is permitted to be carried on with them to-day in British bottoms. British trade with those islands is now, I believe, practically a minus quantity. Then, again, close to our shores, are the Philippine Islands, now occupied by the United States of America. Great Britain owned an important naval base at Manila, but she handed back the island to Spain, with the result that it is now occupied by a foreign naval power. These facts serve to show that the question I have submitted to the House is of serious concern to Australia, and that we cannot afford to shut our eyes to the developments that are going on around us. Territorial acquisition on the part of foreign powers is going on apace in the Pacific, and will constitute certainly a most disturbing element as affecting the peace and security of the Commonwealth. Germany’s outports now stretch out from Pulo Laut, near the south-eastern end of Dutch Borneo to the Island of Chiloe, off the South American coast - a most valuable timber and coal preserve.
– The honorable member really asks that Australia should inaugurate a foreign policy.
– Exactly. This is one of the most important questions which the Federal Parliament has to face. It has been too long neglected. I have tried, on various occasions, to arouse interest in it, but my efforts have not been to any extent successful. I hope, however, by constantly pegging away, to induce action to be taken.
– The honorable member is doing the usual work of the missionary.
– Some day, perhaps, my efforts will bear fruit. I must admit that some, at least, of the members of the present Government, have taken a very great interest in this subject, and the Prime Minister - Mr. Deakin - has more than once tried to arouse the attention of the British authorities to its significance.
– Would the honorable member favour Australia establishing a Protectorate over the New Hebrides?
– I was about to say that, since Great Britain is so far removed from the Pacific, and, apparently, takes so little interest in all matters concerning it, I believe the best plan would be for the British Government to wash their hands of all responsibility in connexion with these islands and their development, and to hand over their administration to the Commonwealth.
– That would provide some work for the new Australian Navy.
– Quite so. We should make all these islands Australian territory, and try to do away with the prejudice against the temporary introduction into Australia of products grown by British or Australian settlers in the group. I hope a larger interest will be taken in this subject in the hear future, and have much pleasure in submitting the motion to the consideration of the House.
.- Mr. Speaker-
– The honorable member is a black labour man.
– I am surprised that the honorable member should insinuate that I am a black labour man when he knows that I am not. The statement is most unfair, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– The honorable member for Hunter regards as offensive the insinuation which the honorable member for
Hume has made against him, and I ask the honorable member to withdraw it.
– I withdraw the remark.
– The remark made by the honorable member was grossly offensive, but quite in keeping with his reputation. I am surprised that the Government have not already taken action in regard to this important matter, and that it should have been left to a private member to urge that something should be done with respect to it. The honorable member for Lang has clearly and concisely explained the position. He has pointed out the value of these islands from a strategical point of view, arid has made plain the neglect of the Colonial Office in regard to them. I could, if necessary, supplement his observations by quoting speeches made by British Ministers, showing that to them the subject was of no moment. The honorable member for Lang has clearly established that the New Hebrides are a most important group of islands, from the point of view of our defence, and are capable of providing a very satisfactory naval base, which might be used against Australia, if they fell into the hands of an enemy. I certainly favour the honorable member’s suggestion that action should be taken to encourage British settlement in the New Hebrides, and also that preference should be given to the products of the Britishers who are endeavouring to colonize them. I propose to quote from a book written by Miss Beatrice Grimshaw, who has only recently travelled through the islands, ip which she deals with this question in a very satisfactory way. Referring to the work of the missionaries there, and the progress of the islands, she writes : -
But one would certainly wish to see it carried on hand in hand with the work of a strong and able Government, which could forbid the sale of poisonous spirits to the natives, disarm the tribes, compel traders to cease selling rifles and ammunition, and impartially punish all offenders, white or black. This has been done to a great extent in the British Solomons, and could be done in the New Hebrides without any real difficulty, if they were once annexed or partitioned. Various proposals have been made by Australia and New Zealand from time to time with the view of settling this long unsettled matter. Australia has certainly little right to talk, since she has, of recent years, practically ruined British trade in the New Hebrides, by imposing heavyduties on all island produce that enters her ports. However, one of her propositions, made a couple of years ago in an unofficial manner, was that New Zealand should give over the Manihiki Islands to France, for the undisputed possession of the New Hebrides. No one seemed to be aware that the suggestion was entirely impracticable, and even insulting to France- since the Manihiki Islands consist simply of two small coral atolls, each a mere strip of barren land, circling about a central lagoon some four or five miles long. Mr. Seddon, just before his death, suggested the exchange of Mauritius for the group. This was a better idea, but it missed the main point of the difficulty - that the New Hebrides and New Caledonia must be considered dependent on each other, and that any offer of exchange should be based on an acknowledgment of this fact. In any case, the French refused to consider it.
The French are fully alive to the value of these islands, and would like to own them. Miss Grimshaw says, on this point -
Whatever the official utterances of France may be as to absence of all desire to annex, they are not upheld by the colonists,” by authorities in New Caledonia, or by the local press. All these are loud in urging annexation, and jubliant over every move that tends towards’ the desired end. A pressure of an unobtrusive sort has been put upon British colonists of late. The English or Australian settler often finds his way a hard one, unless need or greed drives him to discard his nationality, and take out French papers of naturalization.
It is greatly to be regretted that Australian and British settlers should find themselves under such disabilities as to be practically compelled to become Frenchmen. French settlers enjoy a preferential tariff, and are able to import, and to sell to the natives, gin, rum, ammunition, cartridges, dynamite, and guns, notwithstanding that the Convention of last year, between Great Britain and France, stipulated that the importation of these things should be prohibited. Great Britain has enforced the prohibition upon her settlers, but the French apparently have no legal machinery of a like kind-. Now, the natives will sell their souls for gin, and refuse to trade with Englishmen who have only goods or money to offer. Thus, while English vessels have difficulty in getting cargoes, French vessels, bv trading with gin, are able to fill up easily. Miss Grimshaw says that once French papers of naturalization are taken out -
All is smooth. Duties are in his favour, instead of against him, subsidies help him out, enemies become friends - the astonishing thing is that the British colonists, so far, have taken next to no advantage of this state of things. Their flag is an expensive luxury, but the v stick to it - generally.
They are true sons of John Bull. Lel me make another quotation -
Successful as some of the New Hebridean planters have been, one cannot conscientiously recommend British youth to emigrate to these islands at present. Business is certainly not on the up grade.
Yet we are asked to make known, in advertising Australian resources, the value of these islands, with a view of attracting to them the youth of Great Britain. The writer continues -
The murderous Australian duties, imposed at the cry of the “White Australia]’ party, have ruined many, and are only too likely to hand over a number of citizens to France, in the course of the next few years, if naturalization continues to be made as easy and as profitable as it is at present.
This lady throws mud at our White Australia policy, which I do not think she ought to do, seeing that she is now visiting New Guinea at the Commonwealth expense, to write a book advertising the resources of Papua. No doubt it will be distributed by the Minister of External Affairs, and I hope that he will carefully censor it to see that nothing of a debatable character in relation to our local politics is published in it. Miss Grimshaw says further -
The waste lands made available for use by the gradual lessening of the native population cannot be touched, since the New Hebridean will have none of the white man if he can help it. The island fever - a bad form of malaria - is a considerable handicap, though it could be much reduced by proper precautions and by an anti-mosquito campaign similar to that at present being carried out in West Africa. On the whole, settlers must be recommended to keep away, until something further has been done about the vexed matter of ownership. When that is once settled, one can honestly advise enterprising young Britons to secure whatever may be available of the rich island lands. If not developed by the purchaser, they will at least sell again at a profit later on.
The islands appear to me to be an El Dorado. Their soil is very rich, and suitable for the production of copra, tobacco,” coffee, bananas, and other valuable crops, so that they present a great field for enterprise. The natives are barely civilized, and, unfortunately, there is little hope of civilizing them, because consumption has made ravages in their midst, and they are also falling victims to the gin habit. This Government should recognise the disabilities of English settlers there, and endeavour to induce the Colonial Office to insist upon the enforcement of the Convention. Until the English settlers are treated as well as the French there will be constant complaints. Messrs. Burns, Philp and Company are subsidized by the Commonwealth for the monthly mail service to the islands, and besides carrying mails and cargo to anr! fro, do a trading business there. They are thus at an advantage compared with other traders, and I think an inquiry should be made - indeed, the appointment of a Commission seems justified - as to whether the latter are fairly treated in regard to the carriage of mails. I should like to know whether Burns, Philp and Company neglect to give to other trading firms as frequent a service as they are entitled to.
– If not, the firms aggrieved have only to complain to the Postmaster-General .
– Has the honorable member a specific case in his mind?
– I do not intend to make any specific charge, but wish to point out to the Minister the possibilities of the position. No doubt, if inquiries were made, cases of the kind would be brought under his notice. Although Burns, Philp and Company complain that the service is not profitable, they carry the goods of missionaries at half rates, and the latter, as traders, come into competition with others. However, a new mail contract will soon be made, and I hope that, before the Minister signs it, the whole question will be carefully considered, with a view to prevent injustice. I can only say that I cordially support the motion, and must express regret that the Government should have left it to a private member to deal with a subject so important. .
Debate (on motion by Air. Bowden) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 17th July (vide page 1795), on motion by Sir William Lyne -
That, in the opinion of this House, the Government should proceed without delay to introduce a Bill for an Act to remove the anomalies existing in the present Customs and Excise Tariff Acts, and to add such other duties as may be deemed necessary.
Upon which- Mr. Fairbairn had moved, bv way of amendment -
That all the words after the word “House” be omitted from the motion with a view to the insertion of the following words in lieu thereof : - “ the Government declaration that Consideration is being given to the adjustment of anomalies in the Tariff, and any Bill on the subject would, as a matter of course, safeguard the interests of the producers and manufacturers of the Commonwealth. Each anomaly will be dealt with according to its character; the general policy of the existing Tariff being maintained,’ is satisfactory.”
.- I certainly think that some member of the Government should have addressed himself to this question before now. I understand that the Minister of External Affairs is prepared now to speak, and I should gladly give way to him but for an intimation that he prefers to wait. If this Parliament was elected on any question, it was the fiscal question. Perhaps onefifth of the members were returned independently of their fiscal belief, or did not place that belief in the forefront of their election programme ; but, as a whole, the House was elected on the fiscal issue. We have dealt with the Tariff, but we all know that there remain a number of anomalies in the Customs duties. When the Tariff was under discussion, and we approached the Christmas adjournment, honorable members who desired to recommit items in order to remove anomalies were not given the opportunity, and were told that all that was necessary in this connexion could be done in the Senate. I admit that the Senate did excellent work, particularly from the fiscal stand-point which I take, inasmuch as, in many cases, the duties were increased by another place. But, as the honorable member for Hume pointed out the other night - and no one can speak with greater authority, seeing that he was in charge of the Tariff measure-
– The Senate could only make a suggestion.
– Quite so; but had the Senate not made suggestions, the question would never have been re-opened. The honorable member will agree that, in the great majority of cases, the suggestions of the Senate were for increased duties, whereas, in the case of the previous Tariff, the bulk of the suggestions were, in the opposite direction. For instance, in the case of blankets and flannels, when the first Tariff was before us we fixed the duties at 25 per cent, and 20 per cent., and I disagreed with this reduction ; but the Senate suggested that they, be increased to 30 per cent, and 25 per cent. The honorable member for Hume has pointed! out many anomalies, and, .during my brief stay in the Department, I found a number. Honorable members have only to study the returns published in the newspapers from month to month, giving the imports, in order to see that, in some lines, the Tariff is not operating in a protective sense, while in other lines it is; that is, in some cases the imports are increasing, while, in others, they are gradually decreasing. Speaking from memory, I think that the imports of all sorts of confectionery and of cement are increasing, whereas I am pleased to note they are decreasing in other lines. The newspapers of to-day, while noting the increase in the Customs and Excise revenue during the last two months, are careful to point out that the reason probably is the expectation that other duties would be imposed. I understand that honorable members have expressed an opinion that in the case of some of the anomalies, revenue duties . should be imposed ; and, after all, a motion of this kind re-opens the whole question. I take it that once the Tariff is before us, it is within the province of every honorable member, as in the case of a schedule to a Bill, to move amendments.
– Were the anomalies that the honorable member found when he presided at the Department, all included in the list read by the honorable member for Hume?
– I cannot say without carefully going through the list/ but I do not think that the honorable member for Hume will claim that the whole of the Tariff anomalies are there included.
– A number of other anomalies have since been brought under my notice.
– Anomalies must be found from time to time, because a Tariff is not imposed for ever. The present Tariff, which will have to be reopened, in some cases for the purpose of increasing duties, and in other cases, where duties are operating merely as revenue duties, to increase them, in order to make them protective, or to abolish them. There are honorable members who feel that they were not given an opportunity to vote on the Tariff on fair lines. Several have distinctly stated that they voted for duties, on the express understanding that what is known as new Protection would be coupled with the Protection given to the manufacturers. In yesterday’s Sydney Daily Telegraph the Chairman of the Chamber of Manufactures of New South Wales is reported as saying
New Protection is settled, for which manufacturers are thankful as they have always felt disquieted at the thought of new Protection being forced on them.
Honorable members who voted on such an understanding are of opinion that they thereby created anomalies in the Tariff. Today I asked the Prime Minister whether it was the intention of the Government to pay the costs incurred bv the Agricultural Implement Workers’ Union in fighting their case before the High Court. If those workers had. been successful, not only would the wages have been paid from the date of the award, but the revenue would have been materially increased by the Excise collected from the manufacturers. I have on many occasions stated that I am a Protectionist, because I desire goods to be manufactured here, so that we may keep watch over the conditions of the various industries; and there are honorable members who desire an opportunity of altering their previous votes, in view of present, circumstances. Personally, I do not desire to see the Tariff reopened for that purpose, but rather for the purpose of affording Protection to some industries which at present reap no advantage from the fiscal policy. One notable case is that of the manufacture of gas meters. It was decided by one vote in both this and, I believe, in another place, that gas meters should be free ; and the result has been that a great number of men are thrown out of work. The honorable member for Hume gave several instances of similar goods being classed under various heads ; and such cases have come under my own notice, not only when at the Department, but both before and since. A knife and a fork, to give an example, are considered cutlery, whereas a spoon is not; and the latter has to pay, perhaps, 5 per cent, more or 5 per cent, less duty than the knife and fork. One result of this anomaly is that children’s sets of knife, fork, and spoon, which are very often given on birthdays, and are imported all on one card, have to be separated for the purpose of fixing the’ duties. The honorable member for Maranoa has brought before the House cases where certain goods are classified as fancy goods ; but, simply because they have a word written across them, as is done with pin trays, or celluloid pin boxes, they are classified under a different rate of duty ; although used for the same purpose. It was not the intention of honorable members, when passing the Tariff, to create such anomalies. As the Tariff which we settled last year is superior to that which we passed in 1902, so, by the reintroduction of certain items, we can make the Tariff infinitely better than it is now. Another question which causes a great deal of trouble and confusion, not only to the Department, but to the importers and manufacturers, is the classification of machinery. The dividing line is sometimes so fine that you cannot tell whether an article falls under the heading of machines and machinery, n.e.i., - item I 6 2-Or under an other item, which I cannot place for the moment. All the machines that are not specified in the Tariff fall under item 162, and are liable to a duty of 25 per cent., whereas, under some of the other items, they would be free. The same thing applies with regard to metals. Some items of metals are specified, but, if they are not, they come under manufactures of metal, n.e.i.
– Bedsteads, which should have been classified as manufactures of metal, were brought in under furniture.
– That was decided by the Attorney-General. The more articles we specify, the better; because then we know under what item they will fall. Another article brought under my notice was the ordinary ice chest, which, in many houses, is as much an article of furniture as a chair or table. Yet, ice chests come under a lower rate of duty, on account of refrigerators being specified in the Tariff; although the item of refrigerators was never meant to include them. The result is that the firm of Cox and Son, in the Maribyrnong electorate, engaged in the manufacture of these articles, find that they cannot compete with American ice chests.
– Who gave the interpretation in that case?
– The Department, backed up by the Attorney-General. That was about six or seven months ago, while 1 was at the Customs Department.
– The honorable member should have decided the other way.
– I could not. No Minister can enforce his own individual opinion. He must administer the law as he finds it, as he swears that he will do.
– It is a question as to whether the law is properly interpreted by the responsible legal advisers.
– That question can only be fought out in the Courts. The honorable member for Maranoa has referred to bedsteads. He obtained from the honorable member for Hume, when Acting Minister of Customs, a promise that they would come in under manufactures of metal at 25 and .30 per cent. ; but, on the matter being gone into, after bedsteads had been charged duty as manufactures of metal for a certain time, a decision was given that they should be treated as furniture. The duty on furniture being 5 per cent, higher, they had thenceforth to pay that rate. I candidly admit that, as we can make bedsteads here, we have the right to impose a higher duty on them. The honorable member for Maranoa, however, contends that the House decided the other way, and that the decision of the House was ignored. The promise made by the honorable member for Hume on that occasion cannot be found; but that honorable gentleman admitted that he did make it to the honorable member for Maranoa. I think it is right that bedsteads should be charged as articles of furniture, and so I do not complain on that point; but I had a distinct promise from the then Minister that resin oil would be considered pine oil, and pine oil was free. Yet, when I was Minister of Customs, 1 had to sign an “order making dutiable the very oil which I had asked should be made free.
– That order would be made in accordance with the decision of the Attorney-General.
– Yes. The honorable member for Fawkner has moved an amendment to this motion, affirming that the declaration regarding anomalies in the Ministerial statement, placed before the House shortly after they took office, is satisfactory. That declaration says that “ consideration is being given to the adjustment of anomalies in the Tariff, and any Bill on the subject would, as a matter of course, safeguard the interests of the producers and manufacturers of the Commonwealth.” I am waiting to see what the Government will do to safeguard the interests of the producers. Everything done in this Parliament to safeguard the interests of the worker has been found to be wrong. Of course, the worker goes by the board now, for the President of the Chamber of Manufactures in Sydney says, “ New Protection is settled. Hurrah !”
– I ask the honorable member not to refer to that matter.
– What I am saying bears on the amendment of the honorable member for Fawkner. Not a word is said in the Ministerial memorandum about safeguarding the interests of the worker. Every. Chamber of Manufactures and Employers’ Association is jubilant, because they think that Protection for the worker is doomed.
– The difficulty is only temporary.
– Once the people have an opportunity to express their mind on it the position will be very different.
– Who said that Protection for the worker was doomed ?
– The opening words of an article in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph are “ New Protection is settled.” Are the Government to introduce a new form of Protection by which the interests of the producer will be safeguarded? Has there ever been, in any Tariff introduced into this Parliament, a provision giving Protection to the producer? No. All the Protection has been given to the manufacturer.
– Every Minister of Trade and Customs in the past has always considered the interests of the producer in framing the Tariff.
– Then this declaration means that the Government are not going to do anything more for the producer than has been done in the past.
– I said nothing of the sort.
– Then what does the interjection mean ?
– How have the honorable member’s party considered the producer in the past?
– If we had an opportunity of bringing in our scheme of new Protection, the interests of the producer would be better safeguarded than they are likely to be by this Government. I am, however, prevented by the terms of the motion from discussing that question. This is neither my motion nor my amendment.
– Is the honorable member going to support the motion, which omits Protection for the producer?
– I shall support what I think is best. The sooner we consider these anomalies, the better I shall be pleased, and the less some honorable members opposite will be pleased. I hope we shall have an opportunity of dealing with anomalies before the next election.
– Let us get at it to-morrow.
– Why not to-night? “Now is the accepted time.”
– We shall have a tune on pianos then.
– I should vote as I did before to make the duty on pianos as high as possible, so that they may be manufactured here. On the previous occasion Mr. Beale was held up to scorn and ridicule by the present Minister of Defence.
– That is absolutely incorrect. I challenge the honorable member to find a sentence of mine that was ever said against Mr. Beale.
– If the honorable member did not, many other honorable members who were then sitting on this side did.
I do not suppose that we shall be called upon to deal with the duties on pianos in any rectification of anomalies.
– I voted for the piano duties, but others opposed them.
– The duties on pianos affected an industry in the honorable member’s electorate, and, to use a phrase of his own, he “ put up his umbrella” so as to be ready for the fiscal storm which he said was approaching.
– What about the record of the Minister of Defence?
– His is indeed a splendid record, as far as the reduction of duties is concerned. There are in the Tariff many glaring anomalies in respect of items on which I endeavoured to secure the imposition of higher duties. No one can say that I have wobbled on the fiscal question. I have invariably supported the imposition of the highest duties. Seeing that the duties on some articles are not affording the protection which it was said they would insure, and that imports coming under them are increasing, it must be admitted that the Tariff cannot be finally settled for all time. Many new articles are being manufactured from time to time that are not specifically dealt with in the Tariff, and they either come in free or, under some general heading, are subjected to a rate of duty that is wholly inadequate. I am very anxious that we should have from the Government a statement as to whether they favour the motion or the amendment. I have no doubt that the Minister of External Affairs will intimate that he intends to support the amendment, which is in reality an extract from the Ministerial memorandum. It embodies a statement to the effect that they intend to consider the interests of the producers and the manufacturers, and I presume that in speaking of the producers they have in mind primary producers, and do not mean the producers of manufactured articles. Apparently, therefore, they are going to place the producers in rural districts in a different category from that in which they will place producers in our cities. We ought certainly to have from the Government a declaration of their intentions. I did not have an opportunity to examine the list of anomalies which the honorable member for Hume submitted to the House,, but whilst I held office as Minister of Trade and Customs, and even before then, I had a .general knowledge of the working of the Tariff, and realized that the duties placed on certain items were insufficient. If we are afforded an opportunity to reconsider the Tariff I shall vote to impose on those items duties high enough to protect the local manufacturers. When we talk of Protection we mean the imposition of duties that will adequately protect the industry to which they relate. When we speak of defence we mean a real system of defence, and not one that is purely imaginary in its effectiveness. In the same way I think that the Protection granted should be such as will protect the industries to which it relates.
– We must have a big duty on machinery, for the present duty is an anomaly. What will the honorable ‘member for Kalgoorlie have to say on that subject?
– I agree with the honorable member for Dalley that the manufacturers of machinery and the artizans in the engineering industry generally are in a worse position than are many others in the community. Their ‘manufactured products are the raw material of the miner and the farmer, and consequently many are ready to oppose the imposition of protective duties on them. The honorable member for Dalley, however, cannot say that I ever refused to support duties that would protect the engineering industry. Whether we are afforded an opportunity to re-open the Tariff, or merely to deal with anomalies. I shall vote to make the Protection granted as effective as possible in the interests, not only of the producers, but of the people generally.
.- In reply to the honorable member for Yarra, who has asked that I should explain my attitude towards this motion, I may say at once that it is intended to support the amendment, for it is in harmony with the announcement made by the Government on taking office that anomalies discovered in the Tariff would be examined, classified, and dealt with in due course. It was also announced by the Minister of Trade and Customs on behalf of the Government that consideration would be given to any anomalies in the Tariff, and that any Bill upon the subject would, as a matter of course, safeguard the interests of the producers and manufacturers of the Commonwealth. My honorable colleague made it clear that each anomaly would be dealt with according to its character, the general policy of the existing Tariff being maintained. This motion, however, asks for something more than the removal of anomalies. It seeks the reopening of the whole Tariff lately settled by this Parliament.
– It asks for the imposition of protective duties on items that have been omitted from the Tariff.
– It aims at the reopening of the whole of our recent Tariff. The honorable member for Hume, in the course of his speech, urged that decisions which, in some cases, were arrived at by large majorities, and in others on the voices, should be departed from.
– Is it not an anomaly if an industry cannot be established simply because protective duties have not been imposed ?
– Not in the light of the facts. Where this Parliament has said deliberately that it will not grant Protection to a certain industry, a request that that Protection shall be granted cannot in the ordinary sense of the term be said to be one for the removal of an anomaly. But where, owing to an oversight, some part of an industry which Parliament had intended to protect had not been protected, an anomaly would according to my view exist.
– What has the honorable member to say as to many items in respect of which the duty we proposed was lost by one vote, or by the voting being equal ?
– The cases cited by the honorable member do not necessarily come within that category. In many cases, duties to which he objects were carried by overwhelming majorities, and a number of duties that he now regards as anomalies were imposed at the request of the Government of which he was then a member. In submitting this motion the honorable member for Hume read a list of some sixty-seven items in connexion with which he ‘ declared anomalies had arisen. What is alleged to be a complete list of Tariff anomalies has been prepared by ths Department.
– lt was not alleged to be a complete list.
– I am speaking now of the ‘ departmental list of anomalies, and I find that, after consideration by officers of the Department, no less than thirty of what were supposed to be anomalies, no longer exist.
– What are they?
– I may cite two or three by way of illustration. For instance, item 79d, which relates to advertising on match boxes, was referred to by the honorable member for Hume as an anomaly ; but a working rule has been framed which obviates any alteration of the item.
– Both the local manufacturers and the importers have complained a great deal as to that item.
– That was before the Department framed a satisfactory working rule in regard to it.
– When was that working rule drawn up ?
– I cannot say definitely; but I am inclined to think that it was promised some nine or ten months ago. The point, however, is that, as the result of it, what was said to be an .anomaly no longer exists. The honorable member for Hume also alleged that there was an anomaly in regard to the items dealing with invalids’ diabetic foods and infants’ foods. In reality, there is no anomaly, but a suggestion was made by the Department that, to secure symmetry, it would be advisable to deal with tha two classes of food under one heading, and so obviate the necessity for two by-laws instead of one.- The alteration suggested in regard to items I06A and j 07, dealing with apparel, were also proposed only to secure symmetry. Item 165, dealing with punching and shearing machines, was referred to as an anomaly ; but all that was suggested was the insertion of the words “up to and including.” It has been found, however, that there is no necessity to make that amendment, and the item is now working smoothly. The amendment suggested in respect to item 177, dynamos, was merely a verbal one, designed also to secure symmetry ; and the item as it stands does not interfere in the slightest degree with the smooth working of the Tariff.
– Will the honorable member tell us what is proposed in regard to the item dealing with high-speed engines? There is a difficulty in respect to it which is at present engaging the attention of the Law Courts.
– It is under the consideration of the Department. The point that I wish to make is that many of what were alleged to be anomalies are found now to present no difficulty. No difficulty has arisen. Many of the alleged anomalies have been removed by departmental action. The items in the list read by the honorable member for Hume do not all repre- sent anomalies needing immediate action. When the Tariff was passed, the officers of the Customs Department were instructed to list what seemed to be anomalies, with a view to their consideration whenever an alteration of the Tariff might be proposed. Some duties were noted as not giving sufficient protection, but in many of these cases it was subsequently discovered that no change was necessary.
– Will Ministers submit this session a list of the anomalies which they think should be rectified?
– We have directed the compilation of a list of anomalies with a view to their examination.
– Will it be dealt with during this session?
– That must depend on the state of public business, and the extent to which honorable members are disposed to assist us. We shall take advantage of any opportunity that offers itself. So far the indications are that they are not ready to afford us facilities. An instance of an anomaly affecting a protective duty which has been rectified by departmental action occurs in connexion with tapioca, items 34 and 104. Tapioca flour for paste is now exempt, as a minor article.
– Can a Ministerial decision override an Act of Parliament ?
– No; but the interpretation of matters of this kind is left with the Minister of Trade and Customs. I could give the House several similar instances.
– How many items are there in the list of the honorable member for Hume?
– About sixty-seven, including all mentioned. In regard to thirty of these items, no anomaly exists, in the view of the officers of the Customs Department. Ten other items at present are under consideration. There are nine items as to which it is uncertain whether action is necessary. Twenty-five of the items were in the amended proposals of the Government, and twenty were carried by sweeping majorities, voting on fiscal lines, so that if the questions which they affect were re-opened, we should probably have long debates culminating in similar results. A careful investigation is being made with a view to enabling Parliament to deal properly with the Tariff items which need reconsideration. I hope we shall be able to deal with them this year. The Government do not intend to abandon the policy of new Protection.
– Do they intend to submit this session proposals for giving effect to that policy?
– I hope that the honorable member will have the opportunity to assist us in carrying such proposals this session. The proposals will come with the Inter-State Commission Bill. The amendment of the honorable member for Fawkner will receive the support of the Government.
.- The Minister of External Affairs has never made a poorer attempt to justify the position of the Government, though I admit that he had a hard job, because it is difficult for a lawyer to make a good case out of nothing. What did he tell us? Those who read his speech will find in it no definite statement of the intended attitude of the Government regarding the Tariff. He merely asked us to trust the Government. “ We intend to do something regarding the anomalies, though we do not admit that there are any. ‘ ‘ He told us that the anomalies mentioned by the honorable member for Hume have been disposed of by the administrative action of the Minister of Trade and Customs. But since the Tariff was passed, important changes have’ occurred in this House, and honorable members opposite have forfeited the confidence of the electors. Is there now any reasonable hope that the promises regarding new Protection, which were made when the Tariff was being considered, will be fulfilled? The Minister of External Affairs says that certain items were carried by large majorities, but does he not know that the voting would have been different had we been aware that the policy of new Protection would be abandoned? Many votes in connexion with the Tariff were the outcome of a desire to do justice which cannot now be realized.
– The result shows the danger of voting against one’s principles.
– A day of retribution will come for that, and I hope that it will dawn soon. The Free Traders on the Ministerialist side claim that they have hobbled the Protectionists. According to the Minister of External Affairs, the policy of Protection is absolutely secure. It would appear that when men secure office, they become blind to the dangers that beset them in their own camp. A person who tells me that the Tariff of to-day is safe, in view of the history of honorable members opposite, is not a good judge of human nature.
– Were not half of the Labour Government Free Traders, and half Protectionists?
– No; but in any case, those who were Free Traders voted, many of them, for Protection, in the hope that it would mean Protection alike to the manufacturer, the worker, and the consumer.
– The honorable member must not discuss that question.
– I am discussing how the anomalies may have arisen, and if I am out of order. I am sure it is not intentionally. The honorable member for Fawkner, with other honorable members opposite, has done much to render the anomalies more numerous than they otherwise would have been.
– That is hot the fact, and the honorable member knows it.
– I attended to my duties in the House, and I watched the acrobatic performances of the honorable member, and those who sit with him in the Opposition corner. I unhesitatingly say that, because of the uncertainty as to how far they would travel on the lines of their electioneering promises-
– I kept my electioneering promises to the letter.
– I do not know what they were.
– Then, the honorable member should not talk about them.
– If the honorable member’s electioneering promises were as variegated as his votes in the House, I can well understand that his constituents never know whether or not he carries them out.
– The honorable member must discuss the question before the House.
– Only yesterday, the Sydnev Daily Telegraph, a Free Trade iournal of the mother State, had the following in its leading columns, showing how those who desire no change in the fiscal administration view the matter - “ New Protection is settled,” the President of the Chamber of Manufactures complacently announced at the annual meeting on Monday, “ For which,” he added, “ manufacturers were thankful, as they had always been disquieted at the thought of New Protection being enforced on them.”
– The honorable member must not discuss that question.
– I am not discussing it, but merely trying to indicate-
– I point out that it is just as disorderly to read a statement which discusses a question not in order as it is to discuss the question itself.
– The questions are so linked together that it is very difficult to discuss one without discussing the other. Have we any ground for expecting from the Government an immediate rectification of anomalies, when we find that they have abandoned - and those they represent are rejoicing at the fact - the promises they made on the floor of the House ? The Government say that they intend to remedy the anomalies that exist as early as the business of the House will permit. But they will not attempt anything of the kind; because they do not know yet what their commitments may be under the Premiers’ Conference scheme, which will either result in a revenue Tariff, or restrict the rectification of anomalies in the direction of new Protection in proportion to the necessities of the revenue. The Government dare not move until they can focus what the Premiers’ scheme means; and the Premiers have the Government and their supporters tied up. What is the meaning of the amendment of the honorable member foi Fawkner? Does it give any definite hope of the removal of anomalies? It is the old story that the Government intend to do something ; but when they intend to do it, we are not told - whether now, next year, or never. It is a Government of good intentions; but the Minister of Externa! Affairs has given no indication on which honorable members on this side can rely. I should have thought that, when a Ministerial supporter was put up to move an amendment with a view to defeating an honest effort to have anomalies removed, he would have suggested something capable of successful issue ; but, as a matter of fact, the amendment is neither more nor less than the repetition of a Government declaration made in a memorandum placed before us by the Prime Minister. The honorable member for Fawkner is practically playing with the House when he says he hopes for a rectification of anomalies on such an amendment.
– That means that the Government are “ playing with the House.”
– All that the Government desire is to postpone every proposal essential to the betterment of the laws and their administration.
– Is the honorable member a Free Trader?
– To that questionI can give a definite answer, and that is more than the Treasurer could do if it were put to him. My votes show what I now seriously declare, namely, that I have been a Protectionist ever since I knew what fiscalism meant to a young nation like Australia. I have never been able to define the fiscal faith of the Treasurer, and no page in the history of this Parliament can help us to the truth. On this subject, as on the question of anomalies, he has a confusion of ideas; but, at any rate, as a member of a previous Protectionist Government, he ought to know the members on whom he could rely to carry out the policy.
– Why is the honorable member stonewalling his deputy -leader’s motion ?
– The honorable member for Fawkner has had many leaders and deputy-leaders, and he naturally thinks that every other honorable memberis in the same position. I may say, however, that I have onlyone leader. There is an anomaly in relation to braids and trimmings. Laces can be termed braid, and other forms of trimming are brought in under that head. Then, in the case of ostrich feathers, there is room for improvement. It is known to the Department, or it is alleged, at any rate, that very large parcels of such feathers are imported, with very little investigation as to value; and in all probability the revenue loses a large amount in the absence of proper administration.
– That is a matter of administration.
– But there should be some provision in the Act to guide the Minister in the discovery of anomalies of the kind ; and I ask the Treasurer whether he, as the only Minister present, will take note of the suggestion ?
– I am not in charge of the Customs.
– This is a matter of serious importance.
– They always read the honorable member’s speeches.
– When I make a speech it is worth reading. It does not need to have junks cut out and others put in in order to make it readable. If the Treasurer is not prepared to take hints as to the loss of revenue that may ensue through lack of supervision, he must be indifferent to the welfare of the Government and the public. I ask the Minister of External Affairs to take a note of what I have said.
– Does the honorable member say that the feathers are being undervalued ?
– No effort is being made to properly assess their value for duty purposes.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the invoices are not correct ?
– I do not, but the consignments are not properly scrutinized to detect any evasions of the duty. I do not intend to follow this matter further. I could go through the anomalies in the Tariff one by one to the number of about a hundred, but sufficient has been said to convince honorable members that the Government ought to take immediate steps to rectify those that exist. The Government should know what anomalies do exist, because the Customs Department is the barometer which tells whether a Protective Tariff is working effectively or not. I always held that there was no need for a Royal Commission ‘on the question, as there were proper sources of information in the Customs Department itself as to the effect of any Tariff on trade. If we had a Government that I could trust as being Protectionist, I should be prepared to leave the anomalies to them, but I do not believe that the present Government can be trusted to be Protectionist. It is not because some Ministers are not Protectionists, but because they are overawed by others who do not believe in a Protective pol.icy, and, in my opinion, they will be outnumbered and out-voted whenever this question is brought forward.
.- I am sure it will be a matter of grave disappointment, especially to the people of this State, if not to those of other States, when they read the expressions of opinion from the Minister in charge of this matter. He came here as a Protectionist of a verypronounced type, and it is most unfortunate that his associations should have changed so much within the last few weeks that he is now a special pleader on behalf, not merely of delay, but of shuffle.
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw the’ word “shuffle.” I will say that the Minister’s want of sincerity in this matter is not at all characteristic of him. When dealing with other matters in this Chamber he has created the impression by his speeches, and the way he has delivered them, that his heart has been in the subject, but this afternoon his speech can convey no other impression than that he is not sincere, nor are the Government sincere in their professions with regard to rectifying anomalies in the Tariff. That there are anomalies every one admits, but the unfortunate part of it is that the conglomeration of political entities ‘ upon the Ministerial side of the House are actually afraid to do” anything, and the Government know perfectly well that if they were to try to rectify anomalies they would have trouble in the camp at once. What is an anomaly ? The honorable member for Batman would take one view of the question, and the honorable member for Lang would take an entirely opposite view. We cannot possibly get the men on the Ministerial side, who hold such different opinions, to come to anything like a unanimous conclusion as to what anomalies are. The Government are, therefore, merely beating the air in trying to delude the public, or to make us believe that they are sincere in this matter. In one or two cases industries in my own State are in most serious jeopardy, and some action should be taken as soon as possible to put matters right in regard to them. The other day I introduced a deputation to the Minister of Trade and Customs with reference to bananas. The Minister, although very sympathetic, gave the deputation clearly to understand that nothing would be done by this Government, because, as he said, the present Parliament had only recently dealt with the Tariff, and was not at all likely to handle it again. He indicated that the question would have to be tackled by a new Parliament. He made that statement in the most direct terms, and most definite manner. The banana industry may seem to some people rather a trifling one; but it is. very important to large sections of the public. I admit that up to the present principally Chinese have been engaged in growing bananas in Queensland ; but that state of affairs is happily coming to an end. A number of white men are now taking up land and engaging in the industry, to the exclusion of the Chinamen. It was rumoured, a little while ago, that a number of Chinamen were’ coming from the Northern Territory to be engaged on the north coast of Queensland in growing bananas ; but 1 believe there is no truth in the report. Apart altogether from the Chinese, there are other sections of the community largely interested in the industry. In the first place, there are the shipowners, whose interests will, I am sure, appeal to honorable members opposite. They derive sa considerable amount of revenue from carrying bananas ¥rom the north to Sydney, Melbourne, and other places. Another class of men who will, I suppose, not meet with such entire sympathy at the hands of honorable members opposite are the wharf labourers, who have the handling of these goods at various ports. There are also the carters, and a number of people who let their land on lease. I have not much sympathy with those who lease land to Chinese to grow bananas on ; but, at any rate, they are acting within their legal rights in doing so, and their interests should be to some extent studied and conserved. The deputation, although the Minister’s reply was sympathetic, were told as plainly as possible that the Ministry had no intention to touch the question of Tariff revision during this Parliament. There is another question of some importance to my own State; and I dare say honorable members have recently received a circular memorandum on the subject from some of the fruit-canners of Queensland. I refer to the canning of pineapples. Pineapples grow in some parts of Queensland almost like weeds, and it must appeal to honorable members as an absurdity to import canned “ pineapples from Singapore or elsewhere to Australia, which can and does grow almost unlimited quantities of the fruit. Any Tariff arrangement which permits that must be a serious anomaly. This is a matter to which the Minister of External Affairs would, I am sure, give his attention, if he had his own way. If he dared, he would undoubtedly do something; because both those matters affect his own State and its industries very seriously ; but he dare not do anything, and he knows it. I am sure that if he had colleagues of the same way of thinking as himself, he would try to put these matters right. Another deputation of which I had the honour to be a member, and which waited upon the Minister of Trade and Customs recently, had reference to the ready-made clothing industry of Melbourne. That does not concern my own State, but as an Australian, and a sound Protectionist, I see no reason why I should not refer to it. In company with other honorable members, I paid a visit some time ago to several of the factories. We were met with the same tale everywhere, that owing to the anomaly that existed through the duty upon the raw material being almost as high as that on the ready-made garments, the manufacturerswould shortly be under the painful necessity of closing down their works, and dismissing their hands. The deputation which waited on the Minister on that question was large and influential, and every member of it, except the honorable member for Fawkner, the honorable member for Melbourne, and myself, was deeply -and directly interested, but the Minister made the same statement to it as he had made to that which waited upon him about bananas. He said that this Parliament had dealt with the matter so recently that it was quite impossible for the Government to make any promise to take the matter into consideration at any early date. Therefore, when the honorable member for Fawkner moves an amendment such as he has put forward on this motion, I ask whether he is sincere. ‘
– He was put up to do it.
– -I am absolutely sincere. I believe the Government are the proper people to do this work.
– I am not in a position to know whether the honorable member for Fawkner was the instrument of the Government in this regard, as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports suggests, but it seems very like it, if he says that he is quite satisfied to leave the matter entirely to the Government. He knows perfectly well, because he was on that deputation, that the Minister said that this Parliament would do nothing in the matter. I cha. lenge him to deny that, and the Minister’s words were also reported in the press.
– -I was not there when the Minister replied.
– I was not there myself then, but I was present when he made the reply on the banana question, and I saw by the report of the deputation in the papers next morning that he had given exactly the same reply in this case. It is not merely an anomaly, but a very, serious matter indeed, that numbers of hands should be under pain of dismissal from their employment owing to this error in the Tariff, and should see no hope for the future, unless this Parliament is compelled to do something in the way of Tariff rectification before the dissolution. The honorable member for Hume was more than justified in tabling this motion. The Government would have done nothing in any case, but I am certain that we would not have got even so much as the reply made’ by the Minister this afternoon if the honorable member for Hume had not to some extent forced his hand.
– A statement to the same effect has been made before in this House, as well as in the Senate.
– What was the effect of the statement made this afternoon by the honorable gentleman? It was indefinite. He did not tell us that the Government were preparing a measure to rectify anomalies.
– The honorable member said that the statement was forced from me ; and I replied that it had been made before.
– The Minister has given us no satisfaction ; and I, being, as he is, a sound Protectionist, am sorry that a definite step to remove Tariff anomalies is not being taken. The honorable member for Gwydir has referred to the item of ostrich feathers, which, although not nearly so important as others to which I have alluded, is certainly deserving of consideration. It is an anomaly that ostrich feathers should be subjected to only a low duty, when it has been demonstrated that we can produce an unlimited supply if a little encouragement be given the industry. We have ostrich farms in South Australia, and one near South Head, Sydney, and the industry ought to be encouraged. It is to be regretted that action on the part of the Government has not beep definitely promised. True, experience has shown that their promises are not worth much - we have been deluded by them again and again - but even a vague, ambiguous announcement such as they have often made, that they intend to do something to rectify anomalies at an early date, would have given the country something to look forward to.
– Will the honorable member assist us?
– I shall do all that I can to assist the Government to rectify anomalies from a Protectionist stand-point, but certainly not from the view-point of the majority of those behind the Government, whose opinions on the Tariff are very “ wishy-washy.”
– They are all “ revenueTariffists.’ ‘
– I did not say that they are all revenue-Tariffists ; but the representatives of Queensland on the Government side of the House are very “ wishy-washy “ in their views on the m fiscal question. Their votes are not to be “depended- upon to bring about Protection, and their attitude should be a lesson to the people of Australia that if they desire the imposition of protective duties, they must return to this Parliament Protectionists who are prepared to stand by their guns.
– The honorable member’s remark applies to some of the representatives of Queensland on his own side of the House.
– Not now. The most pronounced Free Trader from Queensland in the Opposition has said that he has abandoned his Free Trade views, and that henceforth he will vote for solid Protection. Every other honorable member on this side of the House may also be relied upon to cast votes for Protection.
– And to protect the worker.
– I was about lo qualify my statement by adding that they would see that the Protection afforded the manufacturer was extended to the worker.
– Several members of the Labour party have expressed regret for having voted Protection.
– Is it any wonder, having regard to what has happened in connexion with certain industries? I should like to refer, in that connexion, to certain cases that have come before the Conciliation and Arbitration Court ; but, since I am not at liberty to do so now, I have only to express once more my regret that the Government are paltering with this question.
.- A Tariff passed under circumstances such as attended the passing of that now under consideration must necessarily be full of anomalies and defects that require to be remedied at the earliest opportunity. In many cases, proposed duties were reduced on division by a majority of one vote, or were lost because the voting was equal, while in others duties agreed to in this House were reduced by a majority of one, or as the result of a casting vote, in another place.
– And that would be done again.
– I think not, because if fuller information had been obtainable in more than one case the proposed duties would not have been reduced. On one occasion honorable members had pledged themselves, owing to the representations that had been made to them, in respect of a certain item, but on the morning on which the vote was taken, the honorable member for Batman submitted a great deal of information which would certainly have led to a different decision had there been a full House to hear it. It appears to me that it should be the duty of a Protectionist Government to compile a list of anomalies as well as of the duties that were lost by one vote as soon as a Tariff comes into force, and, having ascertained what anomalies could not be dealt with by Ministerial action, to lose no time in introducing a Bill to rectify them. The way., in which anomalies are dealt with bv Ministerial action depends largely upon the fiscal views of the Ministerial head of the Department. The Minister of Trade and Customs may vary the effect of duties in a Free Trade or Protectionist direction just as he happens to be a sincere Protectionist or a “ wishy-washy “ one. The present Tariff has been in force for over twelve months, and many anomalies have teen discovered which can be remedied only bv legislative action. If we had had in power the Protectionist Ministry that introduced the Tariff I am satisfied that a proposal to remove those anomalies would have been submitted’ and dealt with before now. If the Government intended to deal promptly from a Protectionist stand-point with the anomalies that have arisen, they would offer no objection to the first part of the motion. If they feared that the concluding words, “ and to add such other duties as may be necessary.” would mean the reopening of the Tariff, they might readily say that it is their intention to introduce a Bill dealing only with anomalies. Instead of making any such announcement, however, they have determined to support an amendment moved by one of their supporters, embodying a statement taken from the Ministerial manifesto which has already been departed from, and from which they propose to depart again within the next few days. T. recognise that the Ministerial whip has been cracked, and that the numbers are up. Instead of absolutely negativing the motion, the Government seek to placate Protectionists outside by agreeing to an amendment containing a general statement that something is to be done, and that any Bill dealing with the subject would, as a matter of course, safeguard the interests of producers and manufacturers. Not the slightest hint is given as to when a Bill dealing with Tariff anomalies is to be introduced. The Government have failed to submit such a measure, because of the difficulty that confronts them in carrying out their promise that the general policy of the existing Tariff will be maintained. The Protectionist section of the Government stated that to be the policy of the Fusion, but we know equally well that the Free Trade section of the Cabinet dissent entirely from it.
– And they predominate.
– They do, and that is why the Government will not deal with this subject. It was gratifying to find one Minister prepared this afternoon to speak to the question, because, as a rule, Ministers, when they have the numbers in their favour, are not prepared to discuss any question.
– The Minister of External Affairs really said nothing.
– He did very well as an advocate. I do not charge him any more than I charge the Prime Minister with insincerity, because I recognise that both honorable gentlemen are only advocates in ‘he Government. They cannot shape its policy. They are in a minority, and when they speak they merely put forward, as advocates, the views of the Government. That being so, one cannot charge them with insincerity. Had the Minister of External Affairs been called upon to deal with this question as a member of the last Deakin Government he would have spoken very differently. I feel, as a Protectionist, that the matter is being trifled with, but that is all that we can expect from the present Ministry. They have no intention of dealing with it, because they know that they cannot dispose Qf it in a manner satisfactory to Protectionists. The majority of the Government consists of Free Traders or weak Protectionists who render it impossible to carry out. the policy introduced in the Lyne Tariff. Amongst their supporters there is a still larger majority of the Free Trade section of the House. In the circumstances, therefore, it is not difficult to understand why they will not introduce a Bill to deal with Tariff anomalies, while at the same time they are not prepared to negative this mo tion. They desire the adoption of an amendment in general terms, so that they will be able to tell the people that they are considering the matter. They will go on considering it until further orders. On two occasions I have asked when the Electoral Law Amendment Bill will be introduced, and the only reply I have received is “ The Cabinet is considering it.” That Bill is by no means so complicated as a Tariff Bill would be, and it is only reasonable to assume, therefore, that the Government will go on considering this matter until after the next general election, and that on the result of that election will depend any definite action.
– It could hardly be expected that the motion of the honorable member for Hume would meet with the approval of the Government. The honorable member for Fawkner has moved an amendment to it. At the time of the elections he may have been spoken of occasionally as a Protectionist, but he has never shown himself to bo one, and, when the Tariff was under consideration, all his votes were those of a revenue tariffist. Therefore, it is not strange that the Government is willing to accept his amendment. He would like to allow the Tariff to remain as it is, but how do his wishes square with those of the Protectionists of the Ministerial party? The Prime Minister has always been regarded, in Victoria, at any rate, as the leading Liberal Protectionist. Even the workers have looked to him for Protection. He must admit that industrial Protection will be a thing of the past, if we are to have a revenue Tariff; but he is now content to rely for his support largely on those who were the direct opponents of Protectionist duties, and of others who, sitting in the Opposition corner, stated that their desire was, not to reduce rates, but to keep to the old Tariff lines.
– The honorable member has a good Protectionist on his right hand now. I refer to the honorable member for West Sydney.
– It was the vote of the honorable members for West Sydney and Dalley which saved the proposals of the last Deakin Government in reference to the iron industry.
– Does the honorable member say that the honorable member for West Sydney is a Protectionist?
– The honorable member for West Sydney is able to defend himself, particularly against two such strong men as the honorable members for Franklin and Batman. How the Prime Minister can make his Protectionist ideas coincide with the views of the honorable member for Fawkner, I do not know, nor do I understand how the honorable member for Batman, who, during the Tariff discussions, was often spoken of as the lieutenant of the honorable member for Hume, can sit alongside revenue tariffists, who have no desire to rectify anomalies in the interests of the workers and manufacturers of Australia. The honorable member for Bourke is another who fought strongly for Protection, and is now content to join with the Free Traders. As a matter of fact, the two parties which compose the Ministerial following think that they can trust each other in this matter. I do not know what arrangement has been come to between the honorable member for Fawkner and the Government ; though no doubt it suits both parties not to have the Tariff reopened. But the Ministerialists do not represent the whole community. We, on this side, represent a large section of public opinion.
– The larger section.
– I believe so, because we have remained true to our election pledges, while honorable members opposite have abandoned theirs to bring about the “Fusion.” We cannot accept theview of the honorable member for Fawkner that the Government declaration that consideration will be given to the adjustment of anomalies is sufficient. There has recently been a secret meeting of Premiers, at which the Prime Minister was present, when an arrangement was come to under which the Commonwealth will have to pay to the States for all time 25s. per head of population. To provide the revenue necessary to carry out that compact, it will be necessary, not merely to leave the Tariff as it is, but to impose new revenue duties. The latest returns of the Commonwealth Statistician prove the existence of Tariff anomalies. Although Parliament spent so many months in fixing the rates of duty in the last Tariff, the importations now are almost as great as they were before it was introduced. Let me take one. line alone, apparel, and all descriptions of soft goods.
– Including stockings?
– No. Stockings are not dutiable. In the first six months of 1909 there was imported£5,808,721 worth of manufactured wearing apparel, orwithin£300,000 worth of the quantity previously imported. This I regard as one of the greatest anomalies in the Tariff ; and the cause of it is the fact that the raw material of this industry bears a duty nearly as high as that on the manufactured article.
– What about bottles?
– I voted for the highest possible duty on bottles, because they are not only manufactured in my own electorate but elsewhere in the Commonwealth. Considering the immense area over which the manufacture of boots and shoes is carried on in Australia, and the artistic character of the finished product, it is surprising to learn that in the same period that I have mentioned there was imported £143,953 worth.
– Is the honorable member blaming the late Treasurer for all this?
– No; the late Treasurer when in charge of the Tariff, sat night after night and endeavoured throughout to have the duties made as high as possible ; and I heard him chide the honorable member for Balaclava often when the latter, although he came here as a Protectionist, “ slipped “ continuously.
– I rise toorder. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is charging the honorable member for Balaclava with doing something of which that gentleman was not guilty.
– If the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has charged an honorable member with conduct unbecoming a member of the House, I ask him to withdraw the charge.
– The honorable member for Balaclava knows that he is the last man against whom I would think of making such a charge. If, however, my words bear such a construction I am quite willing to withdraw them. I ask leave to continue my speech on a future occasion.
– Is it the pleasure of the Committee that the honorable member have leave to continue his speech?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
In Committee of Supply: (Consideration resumed from 1st September, vide page 2902).
Department of External Affairs
Division 11(Administrative), £11,648
.- Does the Prime Minister intend to proceed with the Estimates from day to day, as part of his financial scheme, while the main part of that scheme is unknown to the Committee?
– I propose to proceed with the Estimates to-day and to-morrow.
– It is proposed to discuss Estimates for very considerable expenditure, amounting to £79,805, which is a substantial increase on that of the previous year, before we have had submitted to us the financial proposals of the Government as a whole. I think such procedure is extraordinary and unusual.
– It is unusual because the situation is unusual.
– I admit that the situation is unusual to the extent that the Government seem to cast aside all their pledges, statements, and promises, in order to succeed in passing the Estimates before they have discovered any means by which they will be able to meet those Estimates.
– Is that so?
– Yes; so far as we know.
– I told honorable members that my Budget speech was complete in itself, and I still say so.
– The Prime Minister, as a reason for entering into the present combination, and forming the present Government, pointed to the urgency of public business, and of great questions affecting the Commonwealth. But nothing has been done in regard to either the High Commissioner Bill or the Defence Bill - nothing has been done to further the urgent business of the country, except to issue and lay on the table of the House a printed memorandum, and to make in the public press a statement that Ministers have entered into an agreement with the Premiers of the States. That is not enough, and the position is altogether wrong. I go so far as to say that it is a travesty on constitutional government to proceed with the Estimates under the circumstances.
– That is a mere assertion.
– All statements are mere assertions.
– It is not based on any foundation.
– The statement I am making is based on actual occurrences during the present session.
– I rise to a point of order. I desire to know what item is before the Chair, and whether the honorable member for Wide Bay is addressing himself to it?
– I was just about to call the attention of the honorable member for Wide Bay to the fact that he was slightly wandering from the question ; but I thought he was about to conclude that portion of his remarks, and, therefore, I waited a moment or two. I now ask the honorable member to address himself to the question.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Hume has thought fit-
– I desire to speak as to the point of order which has been raised. There cannot be a point of order on a point of order.
– I ask the honorable member for Corio what is his point of order?
– The point of order I desire to raise has not to do with the honorable member for Wide Bay. The honorable member for Hume has thought it necessary to address me across the Chamber and call me a “lap-dog.” I desire the remark to be withdrawn.
– If the honorable member for Hume has made use of an expression which another honorable member thinks offensive, I ask that it be withdrawn.
– I do not care to dispute a ruling, or I might point out that other business has intervened, and, on a technicality, I could object to the point being raised. However, I apologize to the honorable member.
– I should have no difficulty in connecting my remarks with the question before the Chair, if the point of order raised we’re insisted on. We have before us Estimates which largely increase the expenditure of the Commonwealth; and it is the duty of the representatives of the people here to discover how the Government propose to raisethe money that has to be spent. The Treasurer’s statement contained two or three specific sentences, in which he said that the Government find that they have not an estimated revenue sufficient to meet the estimated expenditure, and that it is proposed to issue Treasury bills to cover the deficit. That being so, are we’ justified in entering upon an expenditure without a statement from the Government as to how it is tobe met ? Since the Premiers’ Conference, we have had a statement from the Treasurer to the effect that there may not be, as he hopes there will not be, need to issue Treasury bills.
– We have already passed Estimates amounting to £1,054,000.
-That is like the Treasurer ! Because of the conciliation and generosity of this side of the House, the Treasurer proposes to take an advantage.
– I am stating a fact.
– Because the Opposition enabled the Government to pass the Works Estimates, on the plea that work would thus be found for many people, we are accused, I suppose, of doing something wrong, and our concession, from an Opposition point of view, is to be made a lever to compel us to do further wrong.
– Then the Opposition did wrong, did they ?
– From the point of view of the Government, in face of the statement of the Treasurer, we did absolutely wrong. If the Government take our conciliatory attitude as weakness, then we did wrong.
– I do not think that the Opposition did wrong.
– From the public point of view, I think we did the correct thing ; having made up our minds to pass the Works Estimates, the proper course was to pass them at the earliest possible moment. However, I come back to the original point. There is an understanding in Parliament that as soon as the Government get their Estimates through-
– I rise to a point of order. The business before the Chair is the first item of the Estimates of the Department of External Affairs ; and if a general discussion is allowed - we had one last night - where is it to end ?
– I have already called the attention of the honorable member for Wide Bay to the fact that I thought he was straying somewhat from the question ; but it is usual to allow the Leader of the Op position a little latitude, and I did not feel that he was unduly straining the limits of strict order.
– I was glad to hear your remarks, Mr. Johnson, but I do not desire a concession in this matter. My contention is that there is a considerable increase as between the appropriation for last year and this vear in the vote now before us. The Treasurer’s statement gives no indication as to how he is going to meet that extra expenditure, except by means of Treasury-bills, of which we hear and know nothing. I presume that the honorable member for Maribyrnong does not desire to prevent me from discussing a question of that kind.
– It is quite in keeping with what the Opposition have been doing all along.
– I do not think the Treasurer should be so rasping; but I am too good-natured to accuse him of a desire to be wilfully offensive.
– There are two sides to the question.
– That is the reason why 1 am discussing it. Had the right honorable gentleman been in another place today, he would have heard it said that in discussing this matter of public policy I was embarrassing the Government; but surely no Government would expect to exist by means of misrepresentation, not to say abuse, ofthat kind. The Government ought not to proceed with these Estimates until the whole of their financial proposals have been laid before the House.
– Can that matter be discussed ? If so, I should like to discuss it.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member for Wide Bay is in order in comparing the expenditure for the previous year with the expenditure for this year, and asking where the money is to be found.
– I am disappointed with the action of the Government ; butI am far from desirous of embarrassing them in discussing their Estimates. The first division of the Estimates has been postponed, in accordance with an agreement made by the honorable member for West Sydney. The remainder of the parliamentary Estimates have been passed, but they did not involve any considerable increase of expenditure. This division does, and also covers a great number of services.
– I objected to the Government going on with the Estimates.
– But in the spirit of benevolent kindness for which the honorable member is noted, he agreed with the Government that, with the exception of the first division, the parliamentary Estimates should go through, and, as the Prime Minister ‘knows, they did go through in very reasonable time. The Prime Minister has indicated by interjection that he desires Eo go on to-day and to-morrow with the Estimates. I presume he will have his majority, and be able to do so.
– Not if the honorable member fights properly.
– It is not a question of my fighting properly. It is a question of the Government using their position to take the wrong business first. Regarding this division, the increase proposed in the salary of the Secretary to the Prime Minister is absolutely insufficient. I do not know what the Prime Minister thinks, but while I held office that officer worked at least twelve hours a day every day of the week, and performed his duties, not only with great care, but with a considerable amount of ability. I do not know why an officer in that position should get fewer chances of advancement than others. A more willing or discreet officer never occupied a responsible position. This item might very well be increased, but I presume it was put on the Estimates in accordance with the recommendation of the Public Service Commissioner.
– Yes ; he has to approve of the increase.
– I think I am correct in stating that this gentleman is senior to many other officers who were in less responsible positions than he was some years ago, but who now have much higher salaries. If he worked ordinary hours, I should not speak as I do, but he often works for double the hours of the ordinary public officer, and does it ungrudgingly and cheerfufly.
– I quite agree with the honorable member; but that also applies to a number of other officers.
– If it does, they should be paid for their work. The Commonwealth does not desire any officer to be underpaid.
– We have no power. Mr. FISHER. - Then the sooner we have power the better.
– Cannot the honorable member move for an increase?
– No private member can do so.
– It rests with the Public Service Commissioner.
– The Government can, at any moment, bring down an amended appropriation to cover any increase they choose to propose.
– It is necessary under the Act to get the certificate of the Public Service Commissioner for an increase.
– I admit that this officer is not an administrative officer; but his office is so near to being an administrative one that it would be much better to make it so.
– It might not be as good for him.
– I am not speaking in his behalf. In fact, I am sorry I have said so much; because he is not an officer who would thank any one for elaborating the matter as I have done. On’ the general question of these Estimates, I express my disappointment at the action of the Prime Minister. Instead of proceeding in this way, he should have gone on with the business which he declared to be urgent when he entered into the Fusion and took office. He is wasting the public time by proceeding in the way he is now doing.
.- 1 agree with the statement of the Leader of the Opposition, which was anticipated by a general discussion that took place last night. Some days ago, whenI wasexpressing an opinion regarding the Secretary of the Department of External Affairs, tne Treasurer interjected. I said that at one time that officer went on a trip to Western Australia to make special inquiries, and announced the business of his visit in the press of that State as soon as he arrived. In my opinion, he is not a satisfactory officer. Last year Parliament voted him an increase of £100 in salary. Whilst generally I deprecate’ the practice of dealing with officers on the floor of the House unless there is some justification for it-
– It is a very improper thing to do.
– If the honorable member thinks that an officer is not fitted for his position, what else is he to do? In what other way can we demonstrate our disapproval of an officer’s conduct than by dealing with it on the floor of the House?
– When that is done, what is achieved?
– A good deal will he achieved if a motion for a reduction in the officer’s salary is carried. I take it that that would be an instruction to the Ministry to dispense with his services.
– He was pitchforked into the position in the first place.
– I am not going to deal with the circumstances in which he was appointed; but Parliament has deliberately kept within its own purview the matter of increasing or reducing the salaries of certain officers. That applies to the administrative section in all the Departments. Parliament has taken that matter out of the control of the Public Service Commissioner, and therefore it is the duty of Parliament to deal with those officers, and to express, on the Estimates, its opinion whether or not they are giving value for the money which they receive. Although the circumstances in which the Secretary of this Department was appointed are open lo the gravest question-
– He very nearly caused a crisis in the Parliament, to begin with.
– The honorable member was not here.
– Probably the honorable member for Melbourne Ports will be able, in many future Parliaments, to point to an empty seat opposite, once occupied by the honorable member for Mernda. The circumstances surrounding the issue of a letter permitting a Japanese medical man to land with a view of practising in a Western Australian town, demand attention at the hands of the Committee. Certain persons in Western Australia will suffer considerably as the result of the action taken by the Secretary, for the Department of External Affairs, who, during the absence in Papua of the then Minister, issued a letter of permission which, so far as the official records show, was not submitted to the Minister or to the Minister who was acting for him.
– It was not submitted to rue.
– The honorable member for West Sydney^ who was then acting for the Minister of External Affairs, tells me that the papers were not submitted to him. The permit was issued by the Secretary of the Department, and we have either to repudiate it, or to deal with the officer for having taken upon himself such a responsibility. It is generally believed that Chinese are surreptitiously entering Australia without passing the test required under the Immigration Restriction Act. Those who live in the vicinity of Chinese market gardens know that there are to be found there a number of newchum Chinese who do not understand a word of English.
– They are coming into the Commonwealth in thousands.
– I. do not say that, but it is believed that there is a surreptitious entry of Chinese into Australia. The exMinister of External Affairs some time ago deputed the Secretary of his Department find other officers to make inquiries in various parts of the Commonwealth with a view to putting a stop to these illicit entries. In accordance with the Ministerial instruction, the Secretary visited Perth to inquire into an allegation that Chinese were entering the north-western ports of Australia without passing the prescribed test. He landed there on 15th March last, and on the following day the West Australian, which is the most influential, and certainly the most widely-read paper in Western Australia, published an interview under the following headings, “ The Influx of Chinese;” “Inquiries by the Commonwealth Authorities;” “ Mr. Atlee Hunt’s Mission.” I have taken the trouble to look up this report, because the Treasurer recently doubted my statement that Mr. Hunt had granted an interview to a representative of the West Australian.
– Mr. Atlee Hunt may not have supplied the information.
– I will read the article so that honorable members may judge whether he did or did not. It reads -
Mr. Atlee Hunt, the Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of External Affairs, arrived in Western Australia by the mail steamer from the Eastern States yesterday, and is staying at the Esplanade Hotel. In conversation with a “ West Australian “ representative last night, Mr. Hunt explained that the principal object of his visit was to inquire into the methods being, pursued by the officers who administered the Immigration Restriction Act. A number of rumors, more or less circumstantial-
That is a questionable comment on the object of his mission - had reached the Department in Melbourne that Chinese were being illicitly introduced into Western Australia, and he had consequently come over at the request of the Minister for External Affairs, Mr. Batchelor, to inquire into the truth or otherwise of those statements.
That sounds like an interview.
– It does.
– The article continues-
He bad called upon the Acting-Premier, Mr.
Gregory, who had been most courteous and kind-
He may have been, on that occasion, but I have never found him so.
– It depends upon the position of the visitor.
– I think that the honorable member will say that, like me, he has never found Mr. Gregory very agreeable. - The report continues- and had offered any assistance in the power of the State Government. Mr. Batchelor was quite alive to the importance of constant watchfulness in connexion with the persistent endeavours on the part of Chinese to effect an entrance into Australia. The pertinacity of the Celestials was shown by the amount of money they were prepared to pay, and the hardships they were willing to undergo, in order to get into the Commonwealth. The Minister for External Affairs had visited Sydney and Brisbane in order to make inquiries, and would shortly go to the North Queensland ports.
This officer was hot content to “ give away the show,” so far as his mission was concerned, to those engaged in the trade, but proceeded to state what the Minister intended to do.
– Were not paragraphs published in eastern newspapers prior to that interview intimating that the Minister was going to do certain things?
– I do not know, but if the ex-Minister supplied such information to the press, he acted most injudiciously. At all events, it will be admitted that it is most unusual for a Minister to make personal inquiries into any complaint. Not content with stating the object of his mission, the Secretary of the Department proceeded to indicate what the Minister was going to do in North Queensland, where it was thought the Chinese were most likely to be effecting a landing. The West Australian, although it has never given me any assistance, is the fairest daily paper in Australia; but by granting this interview to one of its representatives, the Secretary of the Department spoilt his chance of securing information that would prevent a further influx of Chinese by illicit means. Repeated protests have been made in this House regarding the unsatisfactory administration of the Immigration Restriction Act, and the Contract Immigration Act, which has led to the introduction into Western Australia of many foreigners, and those complaints, taken in conjunction with the action of the Secretary in granting this newspaper interview, demand attention at the hands of the Parliament. Mr. Atlee Hunt has, apparently, a love for press interviews, which is equalled only by our most ambitious politicians. The West Australian, of 25th August last, published under the headings, “ Travelling Incognito;” “Federal Official’s Movements;” “Considerable Curiosity Aroused;” the’ following telegram from Melbourne, dated 24th August -
Travelling incognito is a practice confined, as a rule, to persons who are entitled to receive public receptions and other honours. At least one officer of the Federal Public Service would seem to have contracted the habit. The Secretary to the Department of External Affairs (Mr. Atlee Hunt) left Melbourne about ten days ago, ostensibly on three weeks leave. He went to Sydney, but, since 17th August, he has disappeared.
If he has disappeared, it seems hardly worth while voting any salary for him.
– The Labour Ministry gave him an increase of £100 a year.
– By passing the Estimates of a previous Government. The honorable member is well acquainted with the circumstances under which that increase was voted. A similar position of affairs could hardly occur again.
A strict official silence has been kept, as to his whereabouts, until a perfect air of mystery has surrounded the fact of his absence. In some quarters, it has been whispered that he has gone away on a secret mission of grave importance, while officially he is on leave. Mr. Hunt’s movements in Sydney have now been traced, but so far from solving the mystery, the information obtained serves only to deepen it. It was on 17th August that Mr. Hunt disappeared. On that day the steamer Atuha sailed for Fiji. It was ascertained in Sydney to-day that Mr. Hunt was a passenger by the steamer, and was booked to Fiji-
– I have grave doubt as to the accuracy of those statements.
– When in Western Australia, the honorable gentleman never dares to doubt the statements of the West Australian. It is only when he is on the other side of the continent that he has the courage to do so. What we know of the facts concerning the admission of a Japanese doctor, without the sanction of the Minister, the inquiry relating to the admission of Chinese, and the introduction into Western Australia of Italians and Austrians who, although said not to be under contract, were able to go straight to positions on the goldfields, is circumstantial evidence of the correctness of what I have read. Everything tends to show that this officer should not be intrusted with the confidential work which he has been doing, and to mark disapproval of his conduct, I move -
That the item, “Secretary, £900,” be reduced by £100.
.- On a previous occasion when the Estimates were under discussion, it was suggested that the introduction of Chinese might be prevented by action in China as well as in Australia. I wish to know from the Minister what has been done in that direction. An extract which I arn about to read from the Sydney Daily Telegraph, of 14th August last, headed, “ Smuggling Chinese to Australia,” “Hong Kong Business,” and dated, “Hong Kong, 22nd July,” supports the contention of those who say that our officials are not sufficiently alert. According to the writer -
It has been known for a very long time that Hongkong is the home, of a gang of men who make it a business to smuggle coolies into America and Australia. Of late Australia has had several experiences of the desperate ruses adopted to get the men in according to contract, and despite the vigilance of the authorities other plans are likely to be tried. The average coolie who makes his mind up to go to Australia will risk the trials necessary to get there, and if he succeeds so much the better. If he does not he has an ocean trip and several months in gaol when he gets back, a sojourn which does not worry him much.
There follows an account of a law case in “which a Chinese was sued for $600 for smuggling men into America. Then comes “this statement -
A few days after this another case came up having direct interest for Australia. Cheng Yu Ting sued Hung Kwok Lam for $1,000, money lent, and in the course of evidence it transpired that the two were engaged in getting “ emigrants” through to America and Australia, particularly the Commonwealth. Hung stated that he inquired on behalf of plaintiff as to the rates on the Cranley lor getting men smuggled through, and he ascertained that it would cost $600 per head, the head fireman and the steward to take charge of the men for $500 per bead, whilst he received $100 per head. Some deal Was made whereby an advance was paid to the head fireman of $600, and $400 was paid to the steward. Later the steamer Olive Branch was mentioned, and the steward of that boat agreed to take passengers at $580 per head, but later reduced his price to $576. Promissory notes were made out with regard to six men whom it was desired to ship, the arrangement being that defendant was to collect the money from plaintiff on receipt of a letter from the passengers that they had landed in Australia. Defendant went on board and saw the passengers off, and subsequently he received two letters in one envelope from Australia, saying the coolies had landed (so here is one batch the Customs failed to trap). He then went to collect the money from the plaintiff, but the latter held him off, saying that he had not received any notification from Australia. In cross-examination the witness stated that he did not see or know that it was illegal to get passengers to Australia in that way, but the question was not pursued further. Plaintiff got judgment for $1,000 and costs, and the defendant, who made a counter claim for $1,850, was non-suited. This public confession of smuggling, audacious in itself, should surely give the police clues to work on, and, if they are as smart as they believe themselves to be, the leaders of this kind of business should soon be put out of the road, and the Commonwealth saved considerable annoyance and expense.
The Government should do something to check these practices. We do not wish Chinese to become the language of Aus’-, tralia. The Chinese are a very cunning race, and seem prepared to undergo all sorts of hardship in order to get here. Obviously, the Customs officials have failed to intercept at least, one shipload. While the Labour Ministry was in power, more Chinese stowaways were discovered than for years previously. This may .have been due to extra alertness on the part of officers of the Customs Department. We must have officers strongly in sympathy with the movement, because, although one big batch raised the average, the success of the Act depends altogether on the administration. We must call attention to any ‘’ slips “ in order to keep the officers alert, as possibly the majority of them are. I have no charge to make against the officials; but the facts submitted by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie show that the official head goes about his business in a most extraordinary way. Evidently he knows nothing about the Asiatic, or else, on a secret mission, he would not announce his movements by means of newspaper interviewers, and so forth. I believe that the service, as a whole, consists of able men ; but it is only by constant vigilance that offenders can be caught. If there is any truth in the statement about the ignorance of the law, it is time that information was disseminated. Chinamen will go through a great deal of hardship and trouble to reach Australia - which some of them appear to appreciate more than even the Australians themselves - and if they are caught they are simply deported, and they submit with the calmness of fatalists. Unless there is some improvement we may have to revert to the suggestion as to passports. I have it on the authority of men who move about a good deal that there are here a number of young Chinese who are unmistakably new chums, unable to speak any English, though as we know an Asiatic, of any. length of residence, always has at least a smattering of our tongue. The position is serious-; andI shall be glad to know from the Minister whether anything is being done at the Chinese end to check the influx. The fact that officers of ships are involved strongly emphasizesthe wisdom of the policy of employing only white men on mail boats - objections to which we do not hear so much now as formerly - and I fancy that if no coloured men were used on the boats trading to China and the East generally, we should not hear of this growing trouble. It might be worth while to have experts who understand the Chinese language and the Asiatic nature, stationed at the foreign ports from which the undesirable immigrants mainly come, because I believe that would have very beneficial and economic results. If a return could be prepared we should, I think, find that the increase of Chinese in Australia is greater thanwe imagine. If two prohibited Chinese are caught, we may suppose that there are more who are not caught ; and what is required is watchful and vigorous administration.
.- Some remarks that fell from the honorable member for Kalgoorlie in reference to Mr. Atlee Hunt, certainly require an explanation from the Minister. I was exceedingly surprised to hear that Mr. Atlee Hunt had gone to Fiji, because I was under the impression he was in Sydney, though I wondered why he had gone there. I presumed he had gone in connexion with the Immigration Restriction Act, and, perhaps, to investigate some of the attempts made with regrettable success, to land Chinese here.
– Mr.Hunt is away on leave, on his usual holiday.
– I do not agree with those who criticise adversely Mr. Atlee Hunt, because I have found him a man of considerable ability, though it may be he has an unfortunate manner. After the passing of the Immigration Restriction Amendment Act a number of Chinese were captured, and we may assume that a number evaded capture. I am of opinion that, in spite of every effort made, a certain number, at any rate, are still coming in ; and where there is aChinamanthere isa doubt - a Chinaman is a concrete doubt. I agree with the honorable member for Darling that we should have men who know the Chinese language and nature, to maintain some sort of patrol on the north-west and northern coast of this country. I hope that one of the uses to which we shall put our infant fleet, so as to make it earn its living at all times, will be to patrol the north coast, because it is now impossible to know what is going on. We are within a stone’s throw of the Malayan Islands; and it is quite possible that a considerable leakage is going on continuously. Judging from what I experienced when at the head of the Department, the number of aliens who come in with permits, which they have no right to possess, must be extraordinary. One man came in with a permit which described him as forty-five years of age, and as one who could speak English with fluency. His command of language was confined to “ Lil’ Bu’k Stleet “ and “cabbagee,” and nothing would make me believe that he was more than twenty-two. Unfortunately I took the evidence of a Scotchman, who said he had known the applicant twenty years ago, and I let him through. I feel sure there was something wrong, either with the Scotchman or the Chinaman ; and I shall never accept such evidence again. Instances occur from time to time which give additional reasons for supporting the White Australia policy. Only the other day in one of the northern ports, coloured persons of some sort, were put on to work cargo at below the agreement scale, because white men refused to handle it. I confess that I do not know under what law that could be prevented, but if there is no law, there ought to be. When the last Deakin Administration was in office, I moved a motion which the Government accepted prohibiting the employment of coloured persons in connexion with the loading or discharging of vessels.
– And they promised to introduce a Bill.
– They did; but unfortunately several things have happened since then, and, although the honorable gentleman at the head of this Government was Prime Minister then, I am afraid that his mind, so far as this matter is concerned, is a tabula rasa. If there is no legislation that would prohibit the employment of these persons, there ought to be. They, were engaged, not owing to any shortage of labour, but owing to a demand by white men for white men’s wages, and the coloured men were put on to do the work at the lower rate. That is a state of things that we ought not to be asked to put up with. I see a slight increase in the appropriation for clerks. Is that for ordinary increments?
– For subdivisional increments approved by the Public Service Commissioner.
– Are the increases for Ministerial messenger and three other messengers similar?
– Yes; they are statutory increments.
– I hope the Minister will tell us the number of prosecutions undertaken by his Department since he took office for evasions of the Immigration Restriction Act, particularly with regard to attempts to land, the number that have been successful, and the number that have not yet been settled. In one case ir; Western. Australia there were twelve Chinamen concerned. We ought to know whether the number of prosecutions or discoveries is falling off. We must not assume because fewer Chinese are found on vessels that fewer are coming in. It appears to me a question of vigilance - that Chinamen are the reward of vigilance. I know it was suggested that the number of” searches” in Sydney should be increased. I do not know whether they have been, but they ought to be. Some of the companies express great astonishment at the number of Chinese that come in, and cannot make out how it happens. Nor am I able to reconcile the presence of these Chinese with the complete ignorance of their existence which some of the officers on these vessels express. Very likely they do not know that the Chinese are there, but men who are in the trade year in and year out cannot be utterly Ignorant of the habits and methods of the Chinese: The honorable member for Darling, to whom we are deeply indebted from time to time for most valuable suggestions, says that a Chinaman regards Australia as a kind of heaven, and is prepared to endure a great deal to get here. I have no doubt that while there is a demand for Chinamen, the supply will be adequate, and there is a demand for them here. We should, therefore, know to what extent the law is being put into force, and with what results. Does the Minister propose to take steps to amend the principal Act, soas to put opium, which is prohibited, on the same footing as smuggled goods? In the case of the launch detected In Sydney in landing opium, the launch could not be forfeited. If she had been engaged in landing smuggled goods, this could have been done, . we could have forfeited her; but, because it was a case of prohibited goods, we could not, and so the party involved got off with a much lower penalty. Something might be done to amend the law in that respect to make it apply to prohibited! as well as to smuggled goods, because that was the intention of Parliament, and we afterwards amended the law with respect to opium.
.- I am sure the Committee will entirely indorse the remarks of the honorable member for West Sydney with reference to the possible influx of Chinese. When we were in the Northern Territory, there was a feeling that there was a considerable leakage, but it was very hard to find exactly where it was taking place. I notice with pleasure that it is being recognised in other parts of the world that this is not a question of race hatred, but«of race preservation, and we are under a deep debt of gratitude to our late Governor-General for his remarks in the House of Lords, as reported in today’s papers.
– Does the honorable member thoroughly approve of those remarks?
– So far as I remember them.
– He said he would not keep any man out on account of his colour.
– I did not notice that, but in the main he indorsed the principles of our legislation. I learnt with pleasure from the Prime Minister that he had been busy some time before he left office previously in preparing regulations, and strengthening the administration in a way thatI believe was used by the late Government in achieving the object that the honorable member for West Sydney has in view. I should like to emphasize the unwisdom of canvassing in this Chamber the merits or demerits of respective officers. On the one hand, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie condemns a chief executive officer, while another honorable member, who has been in close connexion with that gentleman, praises him for his ability, integrity, and capacity. I should also like to congratulate honorable members opposite on their realization of the fact that those who occupy positions of responsibility should be adequately paid, and that if we want first-class service, we must pay for it. I agree entirely with the ex-Prime
Minister about thePrime Minister’s Secretary. I am sure there are services which cannot be appraised by a money value, and that a number of our officers do work of the value and extent of which the average member, and the average citizen, have not the faintest idea. I am sure the question of race exclusion is not a party one, and that every member of the Committee will agree that the restrictions, and their application, should be as complete and thorough as the Government can possibly make them.
– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie should be commended for bringing before the Committee the extraordinary action of the Secretary for External Affairs. That officer was in Western Australia, not for the purpose of being interviewed in the newspapers, but to carry out a secret mission, as representing his Minister, and! to discover, if possible, where the leakage of Asiatics into Australia occurred. I have lately heard a rumour that the capitalists of Australia are in a secret combination to bring Chinese into this country. It is stated that in Hong Kong, or some other place, there is an organization in which a number of Australian capitalists are more or less interested, having for its object the introduction of Chinese into Australia to keep down the white men’s wages. It is Very fine for honorable members to laugh ; but the same thing occurred in the United States many years ago. When I see so many new Chinese faces in the various cities of Australia, it seems to me that they must have come in secretly, especially as they cannot speak English. There must be something in the rumour. If the Chinese capitalists of Australia can get a young Chinaman into this country, he learns cabinet-making or some other trade in a month or two, and they get his services at a low price, because he must come under a bond for several years.
– Is this a Chinese capitalists’ organization?
– It is a Chinese capitalists’ organization, backed up by some of the Australian boodleiers. It does not matter whether you are a Chinaman or a white man, if you are a boodleier, you are a man-devourer. Monopoly is invading every avenue of the industrial, agricultural, and commercial life of Australia. It controls, not only the volume of trade, but the rates of wages as well as the purchasing power of money.
– What is the subject?
-I am pointing out the necessity of excluding the Chinese so that they may not come into competition with white men in the open labour market. I admit that they are law-abiding citizens, and that those already in Australia should receive the protection of the law. I am determined, however, that, if possible, no more shall enter Australia; and my complaint is that the Ministry is neglecting to carefully guard our coasts so as to prevent their illicit introduction into the Commonwealth. I am told that in some cases Chinese are rolled up in mackintoshes and float in. Some years ago Chinese used to be brought into San Francisco pickled in brine barrels. Every one knows that it is practically a law in China that a Chinese who dies abroad shall be returned to his native land and buried there, so as to make the soil productive. Chinese at one time often died on the voyage from Honolulu to San Francisco, and the Pacific mail steam-ship company’s officers were paid by the Chinese passengers on board’ their vessels to put the bodies into empty pork barrels so that they might be pickled and returned to their native land for interment.I do not think that the Australians, any more than the Americans, are capable of coping with the Chinese. Clever as the Prime Minister is, there are in Little Bourke-street Chinese who could run rings round him. I understand that in China permits to enter the Commonwealth are being offered for sale. We have been told that a Chinese twenty-two years of age presented, on arriving in the Commonwealth, a certificate in which his age was declared to be forty-live years. There should be some means of preventing the use of certificates in this way. The Department ought to count the notches on the teeth of a Chinaman to whom a permit is granted.
– Do they not take the finger prints of those to whom permits are issued ?
– The print of the whole hand is taken.
– It is all very well for honorable members opposite to indulge in an unspiritual sneer at these declarations ; but let me assure them that the people on the Pacific coast of America many years ago thought that the rumours as to the illicit entry of Chinese into the States were mere moonshine. Now that they find in their midst Chinese storekeepers, doctors, architects and contractors, they recognise that the Chinese have taught them a lesson. Like the white man, the Chinaman works only until he learns how to run the other fellow out of the trade. I remember seeing the first two Chinese who entered Dodge city. The cowboys some way out lassoed, two bulls, and, tying the Chinese to them, drove them into the city. I well remember, too, the day when every Chinaman in Tacoma was sent away in one ship. There has not been one there since. I have no animosity against the Chinese. If I wish to see them, I can go to their own country; and, although I admit that they are good tenants, I certainly do not want them to come to Australia to see me. I hope that we shall hear from the Minister of External Affairs upon this subject. The time has come when, if press interviews are to be granted, they should be given, not by the Under-Secretary of a Department, but by its Ministerial head. Our UnderSecretaries are like the chief officers of big warehouses or banking institutions. In America the newspapers interview the president, and not a subordinate officer of a bank ; and when they wish to learn anything in regard to a great trading corporation, they interview the president, and not the secretary. We must have order. Our Government Departments lack organization. Were they properly administered, it would be the Minister, and not the Secretary, who would be interviewed. When I was bossing a big sawmill in America, I would have sacked any employe who had allowed himself to be interviewed by anybody who wanted to see me. Yet it is the Secretary of this Department who receives interviewers. When he was sent to Western Australia on a secret* mission to look foi Chinamen, he knew so little about his business that he announced his presence in the newspapers. I have several times seen it stated in American newspapers that Chinamen are getting into America, and I am certain that they are getting into Australia too. When reports of that kind come from special correspondents abroad, there must be some truth in them. The States have agents in the East, and there are the British Consuls who would be glad to look into this matter for us. In many places whole lines of Chinamen hhave come in. When the Labour Ministry was in power, a great number of stowaways were discovered. I do not say that preceding Ministers did not do their best; but that was not much. Let us either enforce the law, or throw down our barriers and have no more hypocrisy.
.- The Committee must be glad that, at last, a Ministerialist has risen to speak on these Estimates. A contribution to any debate from the Government benches is becoming rarer and rarer as we progress. I hope that before very long other Government supporters will follow the example of the honorable member for Maribyrnong, and make public their views regarding these Estimates. The honorable member referred to the report of a speech delivered by Lord Northcote in the House of Lords the other day, and I understood .him to say that he indorsed and cordially approved of the statements of our late Governor-General.
– The sentiments.
– The honorable member need not quibble, and try to qualify his remarks now. His explanation may be made later. He expressed cordial approval of the speech.
– That is not true, and the honorable member knows it. I added a qualification.
– I ask that the suggestion that I am saying what I know to be untrue be withdrawn.
– I qualified the remark.
– The honorable member must withdraw the remark. He may make any necessary explanation later.
– I withdraw it.
– I am stating my recollection of what the honorable member said. He may have made a qualification after I drew his attention to the matter by addressing a question to him. In Lord Northcote’s speech is the following passage: -
And, lastly, I would point out that at the present time a very grave and moral responsibility rests upon every white race which feels it incumbent upon it to restrict in any way the rights of citizenship of their coloured fellow subjects, and I believe that upon the whole the responsibility is acknowledged and generally acted up to by the members of our great self-governing Possessions.
– Hear, hear !
– Perhaps the honorable member will say “Hear, hear” to what follows : -
If I thought that their hostility to coloured labour was the result of any foolish prejudice against the colour of a man’s skin, or was actuated solely by the fear that coloured competition would reduce the rate of wages, I should have no sympathy whatever with such feelings.
– I do not know that 1 could not indorse that statement.
– I am glad to have the honorable member’s assurance that the reasons mentioned are . not proper reasons for keeping the black man out of Australia.
– I have not said that.
– Lord Northcote says that he has no sympathy with the exclusion of coloured races because they would come into competition with the whites, and reduce ‘the rates of wages. The honorable member approves of and indorses that opinion.
– The honorable member should not take the text without the context.
– I did not intend to refer to the honorable member, but I am glad to have got him out of his shell.
– The honorable member has misrepresented me.
– I hope the honorable member will be able to put himself right with the people of Maribyrnong.
– They know me better than they know the honorable member.
– - They may not know me at all. No doubt they know the honorable member, because they returned him to Parliament. When they read this debate, they will know him better.
– The honorable member is guilty of gross misrepresentation.
– Nothing of the kind. I quoted his remarks, and I appeal to other honorable members for confirmation of what I have said.
– The interjections of the honorable member for Maribyrnong emphasize what has been said by the honorable member for Coolgardie.
– Quite so, and I am willing to leave it at that. In my opinion, the administration of the Department of External Affairs should be thoroughly discussed by the Committee. There is not only the Melbourne office, but the management of Papuan affairs, the representation of the Government in London, and the mail service in the Pacific to be reviewed. The upkeep of the Department involves a veryconsiderable expense. The comparison may be unfair, but it is worthy of record that, while in 1901-2 the cost of the Department was, according to the Commonwealth Year Book, .£32,576, in 1906-7 it had increased to £67,241. That is an immense increase, and although the last item contains, I believe, a large sum for the repatriation of Australians who were stranded in Africa, the expenditure, even now, is being kept at high-water mark. For instance, last year the cost was £55,000, while this year the estimated expenditure is £79,805.
– If the honorable member looks at the Estimates, he will see that the expenditure last year was £67,000.
– I have taken my figures from the Commonwealth Yeal Book, which, I presume, omits some outlay which the Statist does not regard as a fair departmental charge. However, the estimated expenditure this year is very large, and, while I am glad to see there is an increase in the subsidy to Papua, there does not seem to be any cause for any addition to the cost of administration. Before referring to Papua, however, I may say a few words about the action of the Minister of External Affairs in admitting a Japanese doctor to practise at Broome. The statement was made in the House, in support of the honorable gentleman’s contention, that it was of no greater importance to admit a Japanese medical man to practise at Broome than to admit an ordinary Japanese worker or pearler. I desire to say that if the Minister accepts it, he is making a very great mistake. The admission of a medical man of an alien race to practise at Broome will mean that the white doctor who is there at present will be driven out of the district, and that the white people, who number over 500, and of whom nearly 100 are women, will be absolutely dependent on the Japanese doctor in case of accident or illness. I really do not think that that is a disability which this Government should impose on the people of Broome who, .located on the outermost rim of civilization, have already sufficient hardships to undergo. The Minister can find no justification whatever in the treatment of the Japanese at present at Broome for the permission to admit a Japanese doctor. The owners of the pearling fleets provide medical attendance free for all Japanese pearlers and crews in their employ, and, in addition to giving free medicine, they employ an interpreter as intermediary between the men and the doctor. To show the extreme desire of the medical man at Broome to meet the requirements of the Japanese population, I may say that he is actually learning Japanese. On every ground, since this gentleman is giving the utmost satisfaction to both white and coloured population, it is greatly to be deplored that steps should be taken to deprive the white community of his services, because that undoubtedly will be the result of the action of the Minister. It must be admitted that he was placed in an awkward position by the unauthorized proceeding of his officer. I think, however, that the Minister might have explained to the Japanese Consul -General the circumstances under which the promise was given, and asked to be relieved of it.
– That would be repudiation.
– It would not be repudiation if the Consul -General consented to the course suggested. The Minister might very fairly have pointed out the position the white people at Broome would be placed in - the bad feeling which would be created by a Japanese doctor practising there - and then have forwarded a courteous request to be relieved of the unauthorized promise given by an official of the Department. That is an intelligible position which the Minister might have taken up; and I am sorry that he did not see his way to do so; because there is some ground for believing that the Consul-General would have taken a reasonable view. The position now is, simply, that the onus of shutting this man out is placed on the Medical Board of Western Australia. I do not know whether the local law will permit the Medical Board to take this step, but perhaps the Minister of External Affairs, being a lawyer, is able to say whether the Board will be absolutely compelled to admit the qualifications of the Japanese doctor, if they are such qualifications as are recognised by the British authorities. The matter now rests on the interpretation of the local law. I do not suppose that the Minister has any right to interfere with the discretion of the Board, but, if after a stated time, the Japanese doctor is not able to satisfy that body, I hope that the permission for him to remain in Australia will be cancelled.
– He could appeal against the decision of the Board.
– I do not think that a foreigner has any right of appeal in such cases.
– An American appealed against a similar decision in Tasmania.
– The American may have been a naturalized British subject. I should like the Minister to go fairly exten sively into the position of that great dependency of ours, Papua. There must be within the honorable gentleman’s recollection the fact that a Royal Commission, appointed by this Government, reported on the 20th February, 1907, and made certain recommendations; but, so far as I know, very few of those important recommendations have been carried out. Those recommendations will . be found at the end of the report, which was laid on the table of the House at the time I stated. If we are to carry on our backs a great dependency like Papua, and increase the subsidy year by year, it will be our duty to encourage a more rapid development of the country. The Royal Commission recommended, amongst other things, that -
Settlement in its earlier stages should be concentrated in the most suitable districts.
Have any reports come from the LieutenantGovernor which would show that this recommendation has been attended to? It was also recommended -
That encouragement be given to men of larger means to develop the West.
I believe that there has been considerable expansion in the rubber industry, but so far as the public are aware that has been done quite independently of the Government. The Royal Commission further recommended -
That all unalienated Papuan land be declared Crown land, and that the Government be given power to compulsorily purchase land from the natives, which is not required by them.
Effect could have been given to that recommendation at any time, but I am not aware that anything has been done. I presume that the duty of declaring unalienated land to beCrown land is within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Government; or has that duty been delegated to the local Administration?
– It is carried out under the ordinances by the local Administration.
– There is another important recommendation that is entirely within our own jurisdiction. Some trifling improvement may have been effected, but the protracted period required for communication with Papua shows that much still remains to be done. I refer to the recommendation of the Royal Commission -
That improved postal facilities between Australia and Papua be established, with stipulated rates of passage and freight.
Obviously that is very important. A man who wishes to visit Papua has a right to know what the cost of going and returning is likely to be. I spoke on this matter on a previous occasion when we were considering Papuan affairs. I am of opinion that we ought to have better, more rapid, and more frequent communication with the territory. I shall not say that I am in favour of the next recommendation I shall quote, though it is unquestionably an important one -
That the natives enjoying Government protection be taxed.
I should like to know whether the Government propose to carry out that recommendation ? If so, why have they not proceeded to take measures in that direction? A proposal which I am afraid that the honorable member for Maribyrnong will not appreciate is -
That a Tariff preference be given by Australia to Papuan products.
I am not aware whether the honorable member is prepared to go to the extent of granting Tariff preference in our markets to Papuan products grown by black labour.
– The honorable member may well smile.
– I am merely reflecting the honorable member’s own geniality. He looks as happy as if he had some hope of regaining his lost portfolio in the Ministry. The next recommendation which I shall quote might, I think, have been considered by the Government. But we have heard nothing about it, though they are ready enough to spend money on Dreadnoughts and in other directions where expenditure is not absolutely required. Here is a Royal Commission appointed by their predecessors, which recommends -
That the Commonwealth advance a loan to the Territory, free of interest for developmental purposes.
If the Commonwealth had any money to spare, and I think it had during the last few years, having in view the amount we have returned to the States, we might very fairly have granted the loans recommended by the Royal Commission for the development of Papua. Another recommendation is -
That advances be made to settlers and mining prospectors.
We have not heard a word about that either. All these are matters to which the Government should have given closer and more vigorous attention. There is also a recommendation in favour of a proposal which has often been heard of, though so far as I am aware nothing has been done to bring the matter to a practical issue -
That a system of wireless telegraphy be installed between Thursday Island and Port Moresby.
That is highly important. The installation of wireless telegraphy would not only be extremely convenient to the residents of Papua, but would unquestionably assist in the settlement and development of the dependency. Coming to some minor recommendations, the Commission reported in favour of an officer of ripe experience in surveying and engineering work being appointed Chief Government Surveyor, “ to supersede the present occupant of that office.” I believe that the occupant of the office at that time was Mr. Drummond. But this gentleman had been practically found guilty by the Royal Commission, and was recommended for removal. In spite of that fact, however, I believe that the Government maintained him in office for a considerable time. I should like to know whether Mr. Drummond still occupies the position which he then filled, or a subordinate position under the Papuan Administration ?
– His character was cleared, and he was compensated.
– The evidence taken by the Commissioners suggests that his character badly required clearing. At any rate, some light should be thrown on the reason why he was compensated, in view of the fact that three independent investigators condemned him absolutely.
– Independent men?
– Yes, independent men.
– They had no interest in Papua.
– Absolutely none. The Commissioners were Colonel Mackay, of New South Wales, Mr. Parry-Okeden, and Judge Herbert, of the Northern Territory.
Mr.Carr. - Did they take evidence?
– They collected sworn evidence, which is available to the honorable member. There is another matter which I desire to bring under the notice of the Government, and in respect of which I think that they ought to take immediate action. I refer to the following recommendation -
That the salaries of all officers should be revised with a view to their increase, particularly with regard to assistant resident magistrates, wardens, and senior clerks, and that no European clerk should be paid a less salary than £200.
Any humane Government, having a knowledge of the circumstances, would certainly give immediate effect to this recommendation. In addition to the declarations contained in this report, I am constantly in receipt of letters from Papua which show that officers located there cannot possibly save anything out of a salary of £200 or £250 a year. The climate is a very severe one, and Parliament has made no provison for granting pensions to these officers.
– Relatively, they are the worst paid officers in the Commonwealth service.
– That is so. They have to endure very great hardships. They live in an uncivilized country, amongst a people who are practically cannibals, and they take their lives in their hands e%’ery day that they go into the bush. Consequently, I think that some of the increases which were voted last year to the higher officials of the Commonwealth service would have been more judiciously expended had they been devoted to our subordinate officials in Papua. I commend these considerations to the Minister of External Affairs, and I would suggest that if economies be necessary they might well be made in connexion with the subsidies paid for the conveyance of mails to the South Sea Islands. Certainly, more liberal salaries should be paid to officers who are under’ going the hardships and risks incidental to life in New Guinea.
.- I take this early opportunity not to explain my position, which is quite clear-
– It requires a good deal of explanation.
– It requires no explanation whatever. The honorable member has grossly misrepresented me. He has selected a portion of Lord Northcote’s speech and torn the text from the context.
– No fear.
– There may be no fear, but there is great danger in the misrepresentation of which the honorable member is so often guilty.
– Read the whole of the speech.
– I will, and I will demonstrate that it is a strong and statesmanlike speech, and one to which every honorable member can subscribe.
– Then what is the honorable member growling about?
– I am complaining of the honorable member’s gross misrepresen tation. He has attempted to make political capital out of an innocent remark of mine by tearing the text of a portion of Lord Northcote’s speech from the context. What is the whole tenor of that speech? Lord Northcote said -
I need hardly remind your Lordships that this question of the relationship between the coloured and the white races must present itself from different points of view to the inhabitants of the oversea Dominions and to those of the Mother Country. It is impossible for us in these islands ever to run any risk of being swamped up by an influx of coloured races. That is not at all the case in any of our oversea possessions, and I need hardly remind your Lordships of the excitement which was caused not long ago in Canada by the threatened influx of a large number of Japanese immigrants. In Australia, which is the most Democratic portion of His Majesty’s Dominions, the one feeling which unites all parties, and not the least the Labour party - the most Democratic party in a Democratic country - is the determination to preserve Australia white, and therefore they cannot be expected to look at the matter otherwise than from a practical, rather than a sentimental point of view. . . . Lastly, I would point out that at the present time a very grave moral responsibility rests upon every white race which feels it incumbent upon it to restrict in any way the rights of citizenship of their coloured fellow subjects.
– Hear, hear.
– So say I. The first Commonwealth Parliament did not take that step without a full recognition of the grave responsibility resting upon it. Lord Northcote went on to say -
If I thought that their hostility to coloured labour was the result of any foolish prejudice against the colour of a man’s skin -
– Some of the best men in our union are as black as the honorable member’s coat.
– That interjection demonstrates very clearly that the attempt of the honorable member for Coolgardie to make it appear that I am an inferior advocate of a White Australia to himself, is entirely without justification. I say that it is on a par with attempts which are being continually made by him to misrepresent honorable members - attempts which do not reflect credit upon him, and which, if they were made in this House, would not pass unnoticed. But they are made on public platforms for political purposes.
– The honorable member’s crowd never indulges in that sort of thing.
– I am not responsible for what the honorable member calls “ my crowd “ any more than he is responsible for the views of other members of the party to which he belongs. Only a moment or two ago one of his leaders expressed a very different view from that which is entertained by the honorable member himself. When I read Lord Northcote’s speech,I say that I do not object to a man on account of the colour of his skin -
I ask not from what land he came, nor where the child was nursed,
If pure the stream it matters not the spring from which it burst.
So long as the spring is pure I have not the slightest objection to it. It is because the spring is contaminated and likely to sap the fundamental principles underlying our national life that I support a White Australia policy. That question is of more importance even than economics, and all that Lord Northcote said - and all that I said - was that there are more important questions to be considered than that of wages. Men cannot live by bread alone, neither can a nation.
– Tell Maribyrnong that.
– I shall tell it to the electors of Maribyrnong, and I am quite prepared to let them know all that the honorable member has to say. I can assure him that any attempt on his part to misrepresent my views will not have the effect, he desires. The speech delivered by Lord Northcote is a declaration in favour of the fundamental principles underlying the policy of a White Australia.
– Then the honorable member should indorse his sentiments to the full.
– I indorse the spirit underlying them and so does the honorable member, though for party purposes he has wickedly attempted to misrepresent both Lord Northcote and myself.
– Then he has done an injury to two great men.
– There is enough discernment here to recognise the very unmanly nature of the attack he has made. He overlooked the Committee and appealed to the electors of Maribyrnong in such a way as gave evidence or a desire that his misrepresentation would be used on the platform.
– It will appear in a bioscope.
– It may appear not only in a bioscope, but in the Labour Call. This week’s issue of that paper contains an extract from Hansard; but those responsible carefully eliminated the portion which told against themselves, and pub lished only the portion which told against the person about whom they were writing.
– A la Melbourne Age.
– Exactly the same thing will be done in this case.
– Yes, and I have no doubt that what I have said in defence will not be mentioned.
– Do I understand that the honorable member does not object to black people coming here?
– I said that I indorsed what Lord Northcote stated. I do not object to a man on account of the colour of his skin, and that alone. As the honorable member for West Sydney has said, there are in his union black men who are just as good as the honorable member, just as loyal, and just as manly. I am sure that, in his better moments, the honorable member for Coolgardie would not be guilty of a misrepresentation of that character.
– I have misrepresented nothing. I took the speech as it was.
– This is a lovely tale of injured innocence made out of nothing.
– The honorable member talks, yells, and points his finger here for hours at a time, and when a man rises to say a few words in defence he finds all kinds of fault. I hope that he will keep quiet for a minute or two. I do not interject when he is speaking, and I shall be obliged if he will follow my example. I consider that the honorable member for Coolgardie misrepresented me, and also Lord Northcote, because he took the text from the context, and made it appear quite different from what it really is. I repeat that the speech, taken as a whole, is a defence of the principle of a White Australia, and contains nothing to which any reasonable man can object.
.- It is very refreshing to hear Ministerial supporters saying a few words now and again. To-night one of them has been veryentertaining indeed. 1 think that a number of his constituents must be in the gallery, for it is a long time since I have heard him talk so much as he has done on this occasion. It was also refreshing to me to hear the honorable member for West Sydney defending Mr. Atlee Hunt. We all remember what was said by honorable members opposite last year, when they were discussing the Estimates from this side of the chamber. A few members of the Labour party had then a little to say about Mr. Atlee Hunt ; in fact, when I rose to speak on the Appropriation Bill, the leader of our party went so far as to state that if there were any recommittals he would take it as an unfriendly action against the Government. Why are not these honorable gentlemen tonight defending this officer ? The only one who has spoken in his defence has been the honorable member for West Sydney, who, for a time, acted as Minister of External Affairs. I think it would have been very ill on his part if he had not said something on behalf of the officer.
– It was very qualified though.
– We all remember what the right honorable member for East Sydney said about Mr. Atlee Hunt a few days after this Parliament met for the first time. Standing at the table, the right honorable gentleman said that if he ever got “into power he would not be bound by that officer’s appointment - that if he had an opportunity he would have him put out of the position.
– Still, Mr. Atlee Hunt remained in his position when the right honorable member was in office. ‘
– In the first instance, Mr. Atlee Hunt held a Ministerial appointment, and when the right honorable gentleman attained office, some years afterwards, his appointment had been confirmed by the Public Service Act, and, therefore, could not be cancelled.
– I think that his qualifications were recognised by nearly everybody.
– He has been nothing but :i bungler, and no one knows that better than does the Minister.
– I know the reverse.
– Directly after the ReidMcLean Administration assumed office they sent Mr. Atlee Hunt to make a report on the government of Papua. What sort of a report did he make? He white-washed first himself, and then everybody and everything in Papua. He carried the whitewashing process to such an extent that many of the grievances were increased, and the succeeding Government had to appoint a Royal Commission, consisting of Mr. Parry-Okeden from Queensland, Colonel Mackay from New South Wales, and Judge Herbert from the Northern Territory. If their report is read in conjunction with the report which Mr. Atlee Hunt made, about eighteen months or two years before, it will be seen that they practically made an absolute liar of that officer and his report.
– Hear, hear; that is what they did.
– Exactly. Yet we are told that he possesses special ability. I appeal to the Minister, as a barrister, whether, if he were working up a case, he would go about and tell persons what he proposed to do. Is that the way in which great cases are worked up and criminals convicted? The Minister is silent. When Mr. Powers started to inquire about the man who was trying to take down the Queensland - Government over the railway accident, did he announce that he was going to New South Wales and to Western Australia, where the Government had been taken down at the same game of falling out of the train? Did Mr. Powers disclose to the criminals that he was proceeding to investigate the case? No; the result of his inquiries came as a thunder-clap, and he gained great kudos .for obtaining the evidence which sent the criminal to St. Helena. Mr. Atlee Hunt was sent to Western Australia to find out how the Chinese were coming into Australia, but he heralded his advent with newspaper interviews, and wanted to let the public know what a great man he was. If that is the act of a capable man I have yet . to learn what an able man is.
– Did the Minister censure him for doing that?
– I do not know what the Minister has done.
– The honorable member knows who the Minister was.
– This occurred in August last.
– The honorable member is wrong. It was on the 15th March last.
– In March last the Minister was in Papua.
– The Minister was in Papua in April and May.
– I saw him in Brisbane in March, on his road up.
– The honorable member would take away any man’s character.
– If this is not the place to ventilate these grievances, what is?
– The honorable member’s own Ministry sanctioned that officer’s action.
– I have no more time for our Ministry than I have for that of the right honorable member. If they,’ or this Government, 3o wrong, I will make it public as quickly as I can. Does the right honorable member think he is going to whitewash this officer?
– This officer has a reputation, as the honorable member has.
– This officer, indeed, has a reputation. What did the right honorable member for East Sydney, who knows him better than does any man in the House, say about him ? He said it was a political appointment, and that he would put him out as soon as he got into power; but he did not get office until seven years afterwards.
– The honorable member is very bold to attack a man who cannot reply.
– The Minister is here to defend him. Will the Treasurer rise and do so?
– I will.
– Then I will sit down, and allow the right honorable member to speak.
– The honorable member ought to know better.
– Let the right honorable member rise and defend him. As the Treasurer will not do what he threatened, I shall continue, my speech.
– I did not think that the honorable member, who is an old soldier, would attack a man behind his back
– Bring him into the House, and let him hear what I have to say. We were getting on very well until the Treasurer came in. He does not know what has been said, or who has been saying it. With regard to the influx of Chinese, the people tell me’ that even now, at every port” in Northern Queensland, after boats come in from China and Japan, new-chum Chinamen are to be seen knocking about the place.
– Can the honorable member tell me at which ports he heard this, and the dates that he was there?
– I heard it in Brisbane from people who were down from the north for the Show. The most mysterious thing about the influx of Chinese is that every time a member spoke about it in the House he was assured by the Minister that inquiries had been made from the Customs officers in Queensland and Western Australia, and that no Chinese were coming in at all. This went on until an unfortunate accident happened in Sydney. That was the case where that remarkable cubby- house was discovered in the middle of a cargo, with about twenty Chinamen in it. Until that came to light, we were assured that there was no influx of Chinese; but directly afterwards Chinese stowaways were found on board every boat that came down the coast. Since the Labour Government went out of office, however, not a Chinese stowaway has been found. That is a most remarkable coincidence, to say the least of it. It is most fortunate that those stowaways were discovered. If that had not happened, I do not believe we should ever have got the Immigration Restriction Act Amendment Bill through; but, of course, in face of that exposure, the opposition which we expected to it, particularly from the Opposition corner, was silenced. The thing was so palpable that they dared not oppose it. If there were Chinese coming in in those numbers at that time, it is certain that the influx has not been stopped. Although it is hard to tell one Chinaman from another at first glance, those who have many dealings with them know that there is as much difference of feature among Chinese as there is among white men. When I was up north, I could tell new-chum Chinamen just as easily as I could tell new-chum Britishers. They were altogether different from those who had been here for some time. They would not go anywhere without an old-chum Chinaman, and what was happening then is going on in Queensland now. If the Minister wires to the Collector of Customs at Brisbane, that it has been stated in the House that Chinamen are still coming in, that officer will tell him, as he did before, that the statement is not true, and that there is no leakage. I know for a fact that there were small boats off the harbor of Cairns, and that in the night or early morning stowaway Chinamen were dropped overboard from the ships, and the boats picked them up.
– Can the honorable member give the date, so that we may investigate that statement?
– That was some years ago. I brought the matter under the notice of the Department at the time. They communicated with Brisbane, and the answer was that my information was wrong. Yet I was as certain that Chinese were coming in then as that they are coming in to-day, although they are not landing in such large numbers as they were. One man who tried to land at Brisbane, and said he was fortyseven years of age, was using the permit of a Chinaman of about twenty -six. All he could say when examined was “ Queen.stleet,” “Albut-stleet.” Albert-street was’ the quarter where the Chinese lived, and Queen-street the main street of Brisbane. That .was all the English he knew, and he had been tutored up in it on the boat. As soon as he found that he had to go back to China, he admitted that he had paid another Chinaman in Singapore or Hong Kong £50 for the permit. On the subject of Papua, I ask the Minister whether any of the recommendations of the Royal Commission have been carried out. The Minister seems to be struck dumb, as are other honorable members opposite.
– Some of them have been carried out. Perhaps the honorable member will specify the recommendations to which he refers.
– I wish to know whether any of the, following recommendations have been given effect: -
That all unalienated Papuan land be declared Crown land, that the Government be given power to compulsorily purchase land from the natives, which is not required by them.
That the natives in settled districts, as shall be proclaimed, be compelled to mark off their land - all unmarked land to be declared Crown land.
That all land which the natives are willing to sell should be at once purchased.
That the stock conditions relating to pastoral leases be amended.
That the true cardinal directions be followed in the measurement of land wherever possible.
That the term “ Crown lands “ used in mining ordinances be defined.
That minerals on native-owned land be declared the property of the Crown, and legislation passed to provide for mining therefor.
That a Government system of labourrecruiting be established.
That alterations be effected to the Government steamer Merrie England to enable her to be utilized for the Government recruiting scheme, and to. carry cargo for the Government.
That at least two launches be purchased for divisional work.
That improved postal facilities between Australia and Papua be established, with stipulated rates of passage and freight.
That police and prisoners be taught English.
That State schools for white children be established at Port Moresby, Samarai, and Woodlark Island.
I regard that as a very important recommendation.
That a patrol system be instituted.
That white constables be appointed to the principal gold-fields.
That is another important recommendation which should receive serious consideration.
That a system of wireless telegraphy be installed between Thursday Island and Port Moresby.
That a telephone line be erected from Port Moresby, via Sogeri and Kokada to Buna Bay.
That a medical officer be sent to the North Division to report upon the cause of death of native employes, and to suggest means of prevention.
That the Ordinance relating to the importation of stock be amended.
That the Ordinance dealing with licence fees for traders be amended.
That information concerning the Territory be compiled and published in a handbook, and also incorporated in the Official Year-Book of the Commonwealth of Australia and other publications.
That the position of Commandant of Armed Native Constabulary be abolished.
That an officer possessed of sound knowledge of finance, and who has had training and experience in approved methods of Treasury bookkeeping and Customs work, be appointed as Treasurer.
That the salaries of all officers should be revised with a view to increase, particularly in regard to Assistant Resident Magistrates, Wardens, and Senior Clerks.
That no European Clerk should be paid less salary than £200.
The Commissioners made many other recommendations, but I should like to know whether anything has been done to give effect to those which I have quoted. I regard the establishment of State schools for white children at Port Moresby, Samarai, and Woodlark Island as very important.
– That matter is under consideration at the present time.
– I am glad to hear that the Government intend to do something. I remind honorable members that we are paying a large sum annually for the government of Papua, and we should have some return for it. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie has explained that the Commissioners recommended that a Tariff preference should be given by Australia to Papuan products.
– That matter is also being considered.
– The recommendation is one which I think should be carried out. The honorable member for Lang this afternoon advocated the granting of a preference to the products of the New Hebrides, which is outside Australia. If we are to give a preference, we should give it to our own people before we give it to strangers. I find that the Secretary to the Federal Executive Council and Official Secretary to the Governor-General is paid a salary of £600 a year, and there is a clerk paid, at the rate of £185 a year. Under the heading of “ Contingencies “ for this office,^ I find that a vote, of £150 is proposed tei cover postage and telegrams, office requisites, exclusive of writing paper and envelopes; writing paper and envelopes, including cost of printing and embossing thereon ; account, record, and other books, including cost of material, printing and binding ; incidental and petty cash expenditure; and official expenses of Honorary Ministers. As the vote for the official expenses of Honorary Ministers is £100, the two officers to whom I have referred would appear to require a vote of £50 a year for office requisites.
Mr-. Tudor. - Does the honorable member think they use too much or too little?
– I think that they have a very rosy position, and I should like to understand just what it is. There is a vote of £150 down on these Estimates as an allowance to Captain Collins while acting as representative of the Commonwealth in London. We have, year after year, been promised either that Captain Collins would be permanently appointed as Chief Ad’viser to the High Commissioner in London or would be obliged to resume his duties as Secretary for Defence in the Commonwealth. He is still Secretary for Defence, although he - occupies an entirely different position in London.
– We hope to pass the High Commissioner’s Bill this session.
– That is always the excuse. Why should the Defence Estimates be debited with £900 paid to an officer who resides in London.
– If honorable members will help us to pass the High Commissioner’s Bill, we can settle that matter this year..
– We will pass the Bill in two hours if the Government will tell honorable members who is to be the High Commissioner. I should like to know if anything has been done to accelerate the mail service between Thursday Island and New Guinea, and to give effect to the recommendation of the Royal Commission that a table of fares and freights should be prepared ?
– There is under the existing contract a table of fares and freights.
– I should like to know what they are.
– I can obtain the information for the honorable member.
– If there is such a table in existence, it should be made public. If it is necessary to go to the External Affairs Office for it, there must be something shady about it. Something should have been done years ago to establish telegraphic communication between Thursday Island and Port Moresby.
– We require the establishment of wireless telegraphic stations up there very badly.
– I think’ so; and the Government should take action in the matter at once. It is a national work of urgent necessity, and I should like the Treasurer to express his opinion with regard to it.
– We find in this division an item of £20,000 to provide for advertising the Commonwealth. Why should we spend money in advertising Australia when thousands of unemployed are travelling the country ? There are thousands who cannot obtain land, or work, and whenever a block of land is offered for selection in any of the States, hundreds of men apply for it. If we expended this sum of £20,000 in obtaining in Australia positions for Australians, we might do some good. I see no reason why we should not adopt a system such as that in force in Germany, and with the assistance of the municipalities, obtain employment for the workless. On the question of wireless telegraphy, I should like to point out the importance of installing communication between King Island and the mainland by means of that system. The only other item to which I desire to refer is that relating to Papua. I wish in the first place to learn how one may get there, and, secondly, what the Government are doing with a view to making the Territory self-supporting, so that the taxpayers of the Commonwealth will not be constantly called upon to contribute towards the cost of its administration.
– I propose to deal in their order with the various questions that have been raised during this debate. In the first place, the Leader of the Opposition desired to know whether the Secretary to the Prime Minister was not entitled to a larger increment than was provided for in these Estimates. I would point out that that officer is under the Public Service Commissioner, and that the increment for ‘which provision is made has been approved by him. T agree with the honorable member as to the work done by the private Secretary to the Prime Minister. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie has made what I regard as a rather severe and unwarranted attack upon the Secretary to the Department of External Affairs. That officer can ,be defended in this House only by the Minister, but in his absence, I cannot obtain the information with which he could doubtless supply me in reply to the allegations that have been made against him. Complaint has been made in the first instance that he is travelling incognito.
– I did not pay much attention to that statement in the newspapers.
– It is true that the honorable member did not, but others have made special reference to it. The Secretary, who is a hardworking official, is absent on leave. For some time I was in the Department until half-past ten or eleven o’clock night after night when the House was not sitting, and the Secretary was there working, too. The work of the Department is constantly increasing, and the Secretary is a painstaking, careful industrious, and zealous officer. His duties were materially increased during the absence of the Chief Clerk, who, with the exMinister of External Affairs, left for Papua on 30th March last, and subsequently made a tour through the northern parts of Australia to prosecute certain inquiries on behalf of the Department. No one was appointed to take his place, and during his absence, a great deal of extra work was thrown upon the Secretary.
– I think that the position now is that the Chief Clerk, Mr. Lewis, is urgently in need of leave.
– He is, although he thought that he was well enough to carry on the work of the Department during Mr.’ Hunt’s absence on leave. There was no concealment as to the holidays granted to the Secretary of the Department, and during his leave he was at liberty to go where he pleased. He chose for reasons of his own to take a trip to Fiji. He went there unconnected with any official work, but, like any other intelligent officer, he will no doubt be alive to any matter of interest to the Commonwealth. It is possible that while in Fiji he may see the local authorities with respect to the establishment of a system of wireless telegraphy in the Pacific, but he is on leave, for his own purposes and pleasure. The next complaint made against him is that he arrived in Perth on 15th March last, and that on the following morning an interview with him appeared in a daily newspaper published there. That fact was cited with a view of showing that he was utterly unfit for his work. Enterprising pressmen soon become aware of the movements of heads of Departments. It was obviously the press, not the Secretary, who sought this interview. The Secretary was not on a secret mission. He was not sent as a detective to visit in disguise the Chinese dens, in order to ascertain whether the law was being broken. As he is reported to have said in the interview -
The object of his visit was to inquire into the methods being pursued by the officers who administered the Immigration Restriction Act.
Following the interview were printed two news items from Melbourne, of which one is this -
Among the subjects which will engage the attention of the Minister of External Affairs during the visit which he intends to pay to Sydney will be the supervision of the Chinese crews of the various vessels engaged in the Eastern trade.
So the references to the Minister were public knowledge in the eastern States. Good came of the Secretary’s visit to Western Australia, a discovery of stowaways having taken place while he was there. I do not say that secretaries should be ready at all times to indiscriminately submit to interviews, but occasionally there are matters of public importance which may be communicated to the press by them. The action of the Secretary of this Department in regard to the admission of a Japanese doctor has been sufficiently discussed. The late Minister has explained that the Secretary was accustomed to his administrative methods and ideas, and thought that he had mentioned the matter to him. Of course, no human being is incapable of erring, and the officers of the Departments are not above criticism. Honorable members, however, should not accuse them of incapacity without giving strong instances to support the charge. As to the introduction of Italians under contract into Western Australia, the last Minister caused inquiries to be made, with the result that the statements which had been circulated were not supported.
– The adjournment of the House will be moved to provide for the discussion of the matter, if we do not get satisfaction.
– I’ should like the honorable member to suggest specific cases for inquiry.
– T can give instances in which the men went straight from the ship to employment on the gold-fields.
– I am prosecuting further inquiries, but the information in possession of the Department does not bear out the statements which have been made. The honorable member for Darwin and others spoke of the influx of Chinese. When the last Deakin Government was in power, it was found extremely difficult to insure the discovery of stowaways, notwithstanding the closest examination of vessels by the Customs officials. A Bill was therefore drafted, and passed while the last Government was in power, making the ship-owners responsible. The Immigration Restriction Acts are being rigorously enforced. A few weeks ago, a number of prosecutions were successfully instituted in Tasmania. The Chinese who were brought here are being deported, and certain of the deposits have been forfeited. We hope that rigid administration will prevent Chinese from coming here.
– Has the Department any evidence regarding the existence of rings abroad?
– -We have heard of their existence, but it is difficult to prove. I have not heard of European capitalists cooperating with Chinese in this matter, and would be glad of information which would enable the Department to act. No doubt there are organizations in China which’ traffic, not in “ permits,” but in naturalization certificates. Every certificate brought into Australia is being carefully scrutinized. During the last few weeks men did land in Tasmania and presented certificates, and prima facie they seemed to make out a very good case, having been well drilled ; but owing to the’ skill of the prosecution, we were able in every instance to secure a conviction. I mention this to show that the strictest supervision is being exercised. In addition, representations have been made to the authorities at Hong Kong, who are now exercising their influence in cooperation with us, and circulating notices to the Chinese, advising them of the provisions of the law and of the penalties that follow any breach. In regard to the technical difficulty raised by the honorable member for West Sydney relating to the prohibition of opium, I shall bring the matter before ththe Minister of Trade and Customs, because I have not the necessary information at present. I understood the honorable member to say that the section is defective, inasmuch as the boat is liable to forfeiture if the goods are uncustomed, but not if they are prohibited goods ; and if that is so I shall have the matter attended 10. In reference to the complaint of the honorable member for Coolgardie about the increased expenditure of the Department, I may point out that the total increase apparently amounts to £12,661 ; but it includes £5,000, as a grant for the purpose of assisting public works in Papua and also a vote for advertising, the same as that appropriated last year but not spent. There is no increase or addition that is not absolutely essential in the interests of Papua and the administration of the Department. There are certain other points in connexion with Papua on which the honorable member asked for specific information, and that information I shall obtain.
– I am inclined to accept the explanation given by the Minister in reference to the Secretary of the Department ; but the fact remains that the Secretary allowed himself to be interviewed, and to be “ drawn “ as no one in his position should have allowed himself to be. I give credit to the expert pressman who extracted the information, but, just so far as he was expert, the Secretary was the reverse. Mr. Hunt ought to be capable of fencing with a pressman, because Mr. Hunt is a very superior person, who commands a salary of £900 a year, and who should be quite capable of preventing the publication of information in such a way as to prejudice the administration of the law. Apparently there is some weakness, if I may use the term, on the part of the Secretary to the Department in the discharge of his duty. We have the instance of the permission to admit a Japanese doctor at Broome, and we have the statement as to the immigration of Italians ; and, though the evidence as to the latter has yet to be substantiated. I have little doubt as to the facts. Notwithstanding what has been” said by the Minister it is very obvious that, during the reign of the Fisher Government, many more prohibited Chinese were unearthed than before or since. The Chinese smuggled into Australia must have increased all at once, or greater expertness must have been displayed by the officials when the Fisher Government were in power, possibly owing to the greater interest taken in the question by the Ministers. It has always been my grievance against Ministers that there is not sufficient intensity displayed, not only in the discharge of their own duties, but in seeing that the rank and file at their command are stimulated to a sense of the importance of their work. The inference to be drawn is that there was inactivity shown before the Fisher Government had the administration of the Department. In the matter of Papua the Secretary to the Department does not show up very well. He was sent to the Possession a year or two ago, and he reported that all was well, but a few short months afterwards it was found necessary to appoint a Royal Commission, when it was discovered that matters had reached a very serious pass. I do not altogether blame the Secretary; but I think he is not the strong man that the occupant of the office ought to be. He did not clear up the difficulties as he might have done ; and in matters of the sort we cannot afford to overlook weakness in an administrator; there are other walks of life for weak men. When the matter was under discussion last year, I dealt at some length with the methods we had adopted for developing the Territory. I found that it was costing the Commonwealth £20,000 a year ; and it is estimated that the cost will be increased this year. I quite admit that an undeveloped country may need this expenditure. But I take up again the point which I submitted to the Committee last year, namely, that having a country with virgin soil, and with a large native population, we ought to take care that the development is conducted in the interest of the country which bears the expenditure. We are spending large sums of money in opening up the Territory, in establishing experimental gardens, and in showing those who go there the way to carry on their operations so as to make money. The Royal Commission actually suggested that the natives should be trained to work for planters and others.In other words, it recommended that the Commonwealth should expend money so that those who have capital to invest in Papua may reap the benefit. I do not see any reason, however, why we should expend money on a rich virgin country, with splendid physical and natural resources, in order to show private capitalists how to make money. I argue that the Territory should be administered by the Commonwealth solely as a proprietary concern. If we go to enormous expense in furnishing the wherewithal for development, why can we not, by a slight expansion of that principle, utilize the profits for the community generally? In doing so, we shall secure more humane treatment for the natives than they are likely to receive from those who are working for profits only. We know very well that plantations require the services of very few white men. There will never, in my opinion, be a large white population in Papua. Further, those who put up their money for the exploitation of the country will hardly ever gothere themselves. They will be represented by managers. Those managers might just as reasonably he expected to represent the Commonwealth as British or foreign capitalists. I supported my argument last year by quotations from the report of the Royal Commission which, I contend, substantiates the claims which I put forward. Already evidence has been forthcoming of the abuses which have arisen in the treatment of the natives by those who have simply gone to Papua for what they could make. The price of native labour for the northern gold-fields has fallen from £1 to 10s. per month. I should like to know whether anything has been done to correct that abuse; because it appeals to me as distinctly an abuse. No matter how low in the scale of human nature these natives may be, 10s. per month will hardly provide them with the wherewithal to live. Already it has been discovered that some of the native community are objecting to the supply of men at the wages now being paid, and force is being used in some quarters.
– Are those men required for the plantations or for the mines ?
– The mines are specifically mentioned in one place, though in another instance they are not referred to. It is recognised that the Government must take certain precautions in regard to the supply of native labour. In one part of their report, the Royal Commission says -
The Commissioners further desire to point out that in the event of their recommendations with regard to the Government recruiting being given effect to, these plantations will be used either as receiving or distributing centres, according to their situation, and that as the recruited natives may have to be kept for some time - either during process of collection, or pending their absorption by settlers, and in some instances by reason of the fact that an over-supply may be on hand - their labour can be utilized, and the cost of their upkeep met by employing them on the Government plantations.
Why should not the Government use these natives on plantations managed by the Commonwealth? If the Government can engage and train men to work for planters and miners, and compel them to keep roads in order, instead of paying taxes, as has been done to some extent, it would be only a short step to taking absolute control in the interest of the Commonwealth, to the exclusion of all traders from the land. We are dealing with a childish people in a virgin country. The only hope for the natives is that the care of a paternal Government shall be extended to them. I read that the average pay for miners’ labourers is only £6 a year, and the Government Medical Officer, in his report, says that a great number of natives are suffering from strained limbs. I understand that the Government allow prisoners to be utilized as labourer: for white settlers, and the Government Medical Officer has complained of the way they are being treated. On humanitarian grounds I say again that the only hope for persons so low in the scale of human nature is that they shall be put under the care of the Government, and not be left to the mercy of those who are out for what they can make. 1 am not sanguine that my view of the case will be accepted, but I consider it to be my duty to speak in this way, because it appears to me that the case calls for the specialconsideration of the Government. It could make money out of the employment of these men honestly, without leaving them open to be exploited by private enterprise.
.- I wish to direct attention to an anomaly against which I have protested in this Chamber for several successive years. I refer to the presence of the Secretary of the Defence Department in London as the representative of the Commonwealth, and to the fact that whilst his services are being devoted to theDepartment of External Affairs, his salary is being debited to the Defence Department. It is obviously undesirable that a public officer should have two strings to his bow. But it has also to be recollected that the absence of Captain Collins in London is hampering the efficiency of a Department which ought to be our main concern at the present juncture. In the Defence Department, as honorable members are doubtless aware, there is an officer who, for years, has been discharging the duties attaching to the position of Secretary without receiving the kudos for so doing. It is true that his efficiency has been recognised by the Government, who have rewarded him by in- . creasing his salary. My own view is that we ought to determine the existing arrange ment the very moment that the High Commissioner is appointed. Of course, I re- cognise that the position occupied by Captain Collins in London is a very difficult one, and one which he is doing his best to capably fill. He is not merely expected to look after the accounts of the Commonwealth and to effect savings wherever that is possible, but he is also required to act as a sort of representative of the Commonwealth, and to discharge multifarious duties which no officer circumstanced as he is there could reasonably be called upon to discharge. When the High Commissioner is appointed I presume that his chief of staff will be a man who thoroughly understands Australian conditions, and who will be able, at a moment’s notice, to give information regarding any statements bearing upon those conditions which may appear in the English press.
– We could not have a better man than ex-Senator Matheson to fill the position.
– In addition to that of Captain Collins, the. names of other gentlemen in that connexion also occur to me. For instance, there is Mr. Coghlan, whose statistical and general knowledge of Australia is unequalled. But I rose to enter my protest against a continuance of the present anomalous state of affairs.
– I do not think it will last longer than this year.
– I hope that it willnot.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 12 (Executive Council), £935.
.- Upon several occasions I have endeavoured to extract from the Prime Minister a statement as to why he appointed ten Ministers to his Government, two of whom fill honorary positions. I am impelled to again refer to this matter by an item which appears in this division, and which reads, “ Official expenses of Honorary Ministers, £100.”
– That always appears there.
– I am not objecting to the item. The position of Ministers, so far as travelling expenses are concerned, is an anomalous one, and one which inflicts considerable injustice upon them. No one but myself knows how great a portion of the salary whichI received as Prime Minister was expended in travelling. It must be recollected that Australia is an enormous continent, and that every part pf it should be visited by Commonwealth Ministers. The present system, I think, was adopted as the result of a motion which was tabled by the present Minister of Home Affairs, who, as a private member, attacked the allowances which were then being granted to Ministers, and .to the secretaries who travelled with them. Mr. Barton made a statement to the effect that subject to getting the allowance of £400 per year they would not take any expenses.
– We get the expenses of transportation.
– The honorable member may get a train fare if there is a train, but not a coach fare.
– I think so.
– In some cases I did not. Wherever I went off the railway line I paid my transportation and other expenses. Tt is true that Federal Ministers have not travelled about Australia as much as I think they . should, and probably would have done if they had had the opportunities. Without’ imputing selfish motives, I believe that they would have a better inducement to travel if their expenses were paid, as they ought to be. 1 can speak more freely now that I am in Opposition. I contend that Ministers are entitled to their salaries, when at the Seat of Government, and to their expenses when travelling. I trust that the Parliament will take an early opportunity of seeing that travelling expenses are recouped. The present position is anomalous. The two Honorary Ministers get their expenses, but other Ministers do not. The sooner this absurd distinction is abolished the better. I shall be glad if the Prime Minister will say why he increased the number of Ministers to ten. which, I understand, is contrary to constitutional practice, and, at least, in excess of the number in any previous Cabinet.
– I am pleased that the Leader of the Opposition approached the consideration of this subject in a dispassionate manner. He asked the Prime Minister to explain why there are more Honorary .Ministers in his Cabinet than in any previous one. Some time ago it was insinuated that Honorary Ministers were created in order to secure support for the Ministry. I wish to draw attention to the fact that if honorary portfolios are offered as a bribe to Ministerial supporters the loyalty of this Govern ment’s supporters is such that they do not require such a large bribe, even if more of them are bribed, than did honorable members opposite, because I find that although there are more Honorary Ministers in the present Cabinet there is infinitely les>! expense to the country than was the case with the Cabinet of the honorable member for Wide Bay.
– I quite agree with that, because our Honorary Ministers travelled.
– Undoubtedly, they did travel.
– Only one went with mc.
– I do not believe that there is any member of the House who would care to. occupy the position of an Honorary Minister, seeing the amount and diversity of -the work which he gets to do, and the extraordinarily small reward in dignity or salary which appertains to the “office.
– Can the honorable member tell us whether the Prime Minister takes any portion of the ‘,£12,000 appropriated for the salaries of Ministers?
– I do not propose -to canvass the character or political reputation of the Prime Minister, because it can stand by itself. I am grateful, however, to the honorable member for Wide Bay for having exploded an insinuation which ought never to have been made, and which I am glad, has been retracted, even at the eleventh hour.
Proposed vote agreed to.
House adjourned at 11.28 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 September 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19090902_reps_3_51/>.