4th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read, prayers.
– It is published in this morning’s newspaper that -
Sir Joseph Ward stated that most of the money required for defence purposes was raised from those who could afford it, and who had some thing to lose. He intended to bring down a graduated income tax and a charge upon the banks, which would mean an extra revenue amounting to £110,000.
Will the Acting Prime Minister obtain copies of the Bill, and of the Act, when passed into law ? I think, with Sir Joseph Ward, that the taxation which he has foreshadowed is that which should be introduced for revenue purposes. In other words, instead of making our land tax primarily a revenue tax, it should be a progressive tax of such a nature, as to cause land to be subdivided.
– I shall be pleased to obtain for the honorable member copies of the measure to which he refers.
Compulsory Areas - Area Officers
– It is stated in Monday’s Age that Mildura is not a compulsory area under the Defence Act. Will the Minister representing the Minister of Defence say what is the reason for the noninclusion of Mildura, and what would be the probable cost of including that district?
– The honorable member informed me that he intended to ask this question, and I therefore had a conversation with the Minister on the subject. His reply was that Mildura and many other places of equal importance are, for the present, excluded from the operation of the Defence Act, either on account of the scattered distribution of the population, or by reason of the expenditure involved for instruction at such, distances. The number of men available for training under universal service is comparatively small. Training will be extended to such areas at a later date as may be found practicable.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister of Defence inform me as to the qualifications required of an area officer?
– I should like to have notice of the question, though I am aware that it is the Minister’s intention that the appointments shortly to be made shall be temporary in their nature, and that the men who will ultimately control these areas shall, if possible, be graduates of the Military College. The applications, being taken will be considered by the Minister, and the applicants thought to possess the best qualifications for the duties required to be performed in controlling these areas will be given the appointments.
– The Prime Minister’s statement as to the business to be gone on with in his absence left me in a state of doubt as to whether the programme he set out was for the session or for the Parliament. Can the Acting Prime Minister enlighten me on the subject?
– The list of measures referred to by the Prime Minister comprises the business intended to be done during this session, I hope with the hearty co-operation of the honorable member.
– Can the Minister of Trade and Customs inform me what action is to be taken regarding the signalling station at Cape Leeuwin?
– The honorable member for Perth has given notice of a question regarding the use of the Leeuwin lighthouse, as a signalling station for shipping, but the information for which he asks will not be available for at least a week. The Admiralty, Lloyds, and the Board of Trade have condemned the use of the light-house as a signalling station, and I understand that the Western Australian Government has agreed to put an end to the practice of using it for signalling, but the Australian Steam-ship Owners’ Federation has asked that the final determination of the matter be held over for a month, until it can obtain the opinions of its captains on the subject.
– Can the Minister of Trade and Customs let us know what steps are being taken, or are to be taken, to discover the exact position of the rock on which the Pericles struck?
– I shall endeavour to obtain the information for the right honorable member.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Fisheries - Report by the Director on the 27th Cruise of the Endeavour (Southern Queensland and Northern New South Wales Waters), 30th August to 13th September, 1 9 10.
Lands Acquisition Act -
Land acquired under, at -
Burren Junction; New South Wales - As a site for a Post-office.
Fremamie, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.
Ganmain, New South Wales - As a site for a Post-office.
Geurie, New South Wales - As a site for a Post-office.
Goulburn, New South Wales - As a site for a Drill Hall.
Guiargambone, New South Wales - As a site for a Post-office.
Manildra, New South Wales - As a site for a Post-office.
Koorawatha, New South Wales - As a site for a Post-office.
Portland, New South Wales - As a site for a Post-office.
Wallerawang, New South- Wales - As a site for a Post-office.
Wauchope, New South Wales - As a site for a Post-office.
Letter Stamping Machines - Engineers - Art Unions - Illawarra Suburban Post Offices
– Has the PostmasterGeneral yet come to a determination with reference to the introduction into our postoffices of letter stamping machines, about which I asked a question last week?
– That would mean further legislation, and, in view of the measures yet to be considered, I think it would be impossible to deal with the matter this session. On the 20th ultimo, the honorable member for Lang asked these questions -
Will he furnish a statement showing -
The Deputy Postmaster-Genera!, Sydney; has furnished the following information in reply to them -
(a) and (b) See statement attached.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Does he consider that the following notice, published in the Labour Call of 29th September, comes within the provisions of clause 57 of the Post and Telegraph Act 1901 : - “ An extensive list of valuable prizes, numbering 300, with a total value of ; £1,750, is offered to the public by the Sydney Eight Hours’ Committee, to be disposed of by art union. The first prize is valued at£500, second£200, and third £100, while the balance range from£85 down to £1. The undertaking is under the sanction of the New South Wales Attorney-General. Tickets are1s. each, or 22 for £1. They should be purchased from the local agent. In districts where there is no agent, application should be made direct to the representative, Mr. Theodore W. Heide, 231 Flinders-lane, Melbourne”?
-This involves an opinion on a point of law, and it is the practice not to answer such questions in Parliament.
– There is no question of law, but a question of shirking.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Postmaster-General in Sydney as to the number of letter-carriers and messengers respectively employed in each of the post-offices in the Illawarra suburbs inclusively from St. Peters to Hurstville?
– I shall be glad if the honorable member will move for this information by way of a return.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
“Stud” sheep have been recorded separately since 1907 only. No record is taken of sex.
(5), (6), (7), (8), (9) Information not available. Importation of Angora goats and ostriches are not separately recorded.
– Surely that information should have been moved for in the form of a return.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Will he place on the table of the House the report of the Military Board which was appointed some few months ago to inquire into the matters in connexion with the School of Gunnery, at South Head, Sydney?
– There is no objection to laying on the Library table the papers which are required by the honorable member.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The matter is under reference to the Attorney-General.
Uncharted Rocks - Western Australian Cruises
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
– In accordance with a promise made, I now furnish information regarding the promotions in the Commonwealth Public Service, asked for by the honorable member for Maribyrnong on the 28th September last-
– The Leader of the Opposition has referred to the practice of asking for information from the Departments which, he said, he thought should be furnished only on the order of the House for the preparation of returns. I agree with him in that. The replies to a question asked of the Postmaster-General last week took 167 hours of overtime to prepare, and the information asked for and given is of little value. I do not think that the Departments should be expected to do this work unless the House orders the production of the information desired.
– I should like to direct attention to the practice of Ministers laying papers on the table without stating what they are. The least Ministers can do is to state the subject-matter of such papers.
– I have no power to direct Ministers to reply to questions. They are free to take what course they please in that matter.
– What I refer to is the practice of laying papers on the table without indicating what they refer to.
– The honorable member is referring to the practice of Ministers laying replies to questions on the table without reading them, but when that is done the subject-matter is almost in- variably stated.
– I am ready to give any information that may be required, but did not read the replies which I laid on the table just now, because they are lengthy, and will appear in Hansard, together with the questions to which they belong.
– I move -
That this House is of the opinion that a Commonwealth Bureau of Agriculture should be established forthwith.
This proposal has been brought before the House on several occasions. It was originally introduced by the honorable member for Bendigo, and supported by Mr. Justice Isaacs when he was member for Indi, and others. On the 3rd November, 1904, the following resolution was passed : -
That, in the opinion of this House, in order to -.promote the primary industries of Australia, a Federal Department of Agriculture ought to be established at an early date.
Since that date nearly every Government has pronounced in favour of the establishment of such a Department. The first Fisher Administration included a Bureau of Agriculture Bill as part of its programme, and on the 30th March, 1909, its head stated that, in its opinion, there was need of a Bill to establish an Agriculture Bureau for the investigation of various matters, and its dissemination of information regarding them. The honorable member for Ballarat during his several Administrations advocated the proposal. So far as this House is concerned, practically every Administration has expressed its opinion in favour of a Department being established. The object of my motion is. to elicit an expression of opinion from the present House as regards the necessity of proceeding in this direction. In the first place, the importance of the primary industries is so great to us as to cast upon us an obligation to assist them, so far as the powers in the Constitution will allow us to do. When it is considered that the total value of our primary productions in 1908 was no less than ^103,740,000, it will be seen how important it is to us as a nation that we should safeguard ‘ to the very utmost our existing industries. To that sum agriculture contributed ,£37,150,000, the pastoral industry £47, 259,000, the dairying, poultry, and bee-farming industries ^15,045,000, and forests and fisheries £4, 286,000. The remaining productions consisted of the products of mining, and of the secondary industries, that is, manufactured goods. But this sum of £103,740,000 represents considerably more than the value of half the total products of the Commonwealth. When it is considered that we are practically only at the beginning of our production, it will be seen “to what an extent we can still go. There are two things which should be borne in mind. First, we must keep out of Australia all those diseases which tend to destroy either stock or plants, that is to say, we must be rigid in closing the door against every disease or pest likely to interfere with our great pastoral and agricultural industries. In the second place, we ought to introduce the latest discoveries relating to increased production, so that we can get better results from the soil, and give larger returns to primary producers. These are two objects which we can keep in view. I tried to ascertain from the Statistician the number of persons who are directly, dependent upon the primary industries. Although, our population is a little over 4,000,000, yet, I find, as far as the Statistician can form an estimate, that about 800,000 persons are directly dependent upon those great industries, that is to say, persons who are engaged in the primary industries, and persons who are engaged in industries which are directly connected with the primary industries, and the dependents of both classes of persons. That leaves out of consideration all those concerned in the trade and the commerce in the towns, the trade between State and State, and also the oversea traffic. If honorable members take first the amount of wealth which is produced, and second, the number of persons who are engaged in the primary industries, it will be seen how important it is to us as a nation that we should do all we can to assist those who are engaged in them.
– Did not the late Government introduce a Bill to establish a Bureau of Agriculture?
– Yes. It was introduced first into this House, and withdrawn, and then introduced into the Senate.
– Are copies of the Bill available ?
– Yes, together with a memorandum, which was issued on the 21st May, 1908.
– You were champions in the issue of memoranda.
– It would be a good thing if others took steps to give information in the same way. I was asked a question as to the fate of the Bill of the last Government. In the Senate the second reading was passed, but the measure was not proceeded with owing to difficulties in Committee.
– Have we any effective power to do anything?
– Yes, as I shall show the honorable member presently. I want to point out the importance of a Department of Agriculture to a -nation. The great exemplar we have is the Department of Agriculture in the United States. Speaking of the Department as a whole - and it is a great Department which has existed in a Federation with a national Parliament, and a series of State Legislatures - a Commission recently reported -
Agriculture has derived more benefit from the establishment of the Department of Agriculture and from its administrative work than from any other Federal legislation. The annual injury to fruit and grain from the ravages of insects would probably be double what it is now but for the work of the Department. Its experiments in proving the adaptation of crops to climates and soils have developed agriculture into a science, and alike benefited the industry and the country in general.
In the report for 1907, which may be seen in the Parliamentary Library, the Secretary to the Department stated that it was very difficult to express in dollars the value of its work to the farmers and the nation ; but that as the result of an attempt to do so, they found that the total value of the material results to the nation come to about $232,000,000. According to the report for 1906 -
The work of the Department of Agriculture has already had results which valued at hundreds of millions of dollars annually, and yet the Department feels that it has barely crossed the threshold of its mission of discovery and education. Co-operating to the same ends are sixty experimental stations in fifty-one States and territories, the sixty-three agricultural colleges, thousands of farmers institutes meeting yearly, many agricultural periodical publications, and new and instructive books. Then there is a new line of work which is so productive of results that it is constantly extending, and that is the demonstration farm, the encouragement of individual farmers to change their agriculture so as to multiply their yields and their profits, and thus afford object lessons to other farmers.
Thus it appears that forces are now at work which will very considerably increase the production of the farms within a generation, and which promise to continue the increase indefinitely. He who would write the last chapter of the progress of the agriculture of this country must await the procession of the centuries.
The United States Department affords to us an example of co-operation. What I am contending for is, not the establishment of a Bureau of Agriculture that will supersede the work which is done by the States, but the establishment of a Department that will co-ordinate the work which is done by the State Departments, and, in addition, undertake certain classes of scientific work to which I shall refer presently. It is essentially national in its operation, and can be better undertaken by a National Administration.
– How does the honorable member propose to deal with the State experimental colleges?
– They will still remain with the States, and the Commonwealth Bureau will simply co-ordinate, gathering together the reports of their experiments and experiences and producing a national report showing the progress of experiments which have taken place, and when a National Scientific Research Board is constituted it will co-operate and work through them in carrying out’ experiments. I want to refer now to another important branch of work which is being done, in which the Department of Agriculture in the United States is co-operating, and that is the important question of the conservation of natural resources. President Roosevelt summoned a Conference of State Governors, who were accompanied by three expert advisers. It was attended by Justices of the Supreme Court and also by members of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The object of the Conference was to deal with the question of conserving the natural resources. It met, and came to important conclusions, and then a Commission was appointed, which presented to Congress the first inventory of the natural resources of a country which had ever been compiled. The importance of this subject to the people of the United States may be gathered from a speech which was made by one of the leading representatives at the Conference -
And now we are warned that, at the present rate of consumption, our timber supply will be exhausted in twenty years, our natural gas in forty years, our petroleum in fifty years, our hard coal in seventy-five years, our iron ore in one hundred years, our copper in a hundred and twenty-live years, and our soft coal in a hundred and fifty years.
This shows that in a country like the United States there will, within twenty years, be an entire exhaustion of the timber supply ; and the President desired to direct attention to the fact that their continuance as a nation, and a force in the world, depends on the conservation of their natural resources. The agitation has extended to Canada, where similar investigations are being made. We, in Australia, are, of course, living practically in a virgin country ; and we have to consider the conservation of our resources, though, many people speak as if these were absolutely inexhaustible. Now, however, that we are really beginning to occupy the continent, and we see how the natural resources of other nations have been wasted and depleted, there is cast upon us the solemn duty to take what steps we can at this time to prevent like disaster. This calls for action on behalf of the States as a whole, the Commonwealth co-operating with the States.
– Have we any power to deal with the question of afforestation?
– The only control the Commonwealth has is in the appropriation of supplies and in the power to stop the export of certain timbers.
– Does the honorable member suggest that export should be prevented ?
– I am merely pointing out that we have that power, but I am not suggesting, for a moment, that it should be exercised. I am told, however, that certain timbers, of which we have only a limited supply, are being exported, and thus lost to Australia.
– A similar kind of control is exercised in New Zealand.
– In the Dominion there is an export duty on kauri logs.
– I repeat that I am merely mentioning the fact that we have the power, and not suggesting that it be exercised. In 1907, there was a Conference of State officers, representing all the
States except Queensland, on the Bounties Bill, then before Parliament, and in the report of that Conference it is stated -
It will not be disputed, therefore, that the forestry question is of national importance to Australia, and in placing the facts of the case on record the Conference passed the following resolution : - “ We are strongly impressed with the urgent necessity for effective action to conserve the timber resources of Australia, and to make provision for future requirements. We believe that much might be done by action on the part of States Governments adapted to the needs of their respective States.”
In view of the terms of the Constitution the matter is respectfully submitted for consideration by the Commonwealth Government.
– Then we shall be told in the next breath that we have no power to do anything.
– That is not altogether correct, because we have some power. Recently, Dr. Domin, Professor of Botany at the University of Prague, visited Queensland for the purpose of studying forest distribution, and the utility of the timbers of that State, and he is reported as saving
The climate of Queensland is, I think, more advantageous for the growth of timber, as the trees grow slower, and their wood is accordingly of a better quality. I think that the forests of Queensland, brought under a good system of forestry which would regard all that has been done in the forestry of Europe and also in the tropics, would surely become an asset of great value for the increasing population of Queensland. I am sure that it will become, with the lapse of time, evident to everybody how important are the forests of Queensland, but I am rather afraid it will be too late, and, therefore, I regard it as a lucky circumstance that you take such an interest in the question now, when it is not too late, although very necessary to make some final arrangements and plans. I do not think it would be best to keep the forests everywhere they are to be found. In some localities it is, of course, preferable to allow them to pass, and in some other localities again to cultivate them, as they will give, under certain circumstances, at least a fairly good profit. In a new prosperous country like Queensland it is. quite natural that the forests are not looked after as they ought to be, but it is a duty to look to the future, and to avoid such things as happened in other States of Australia where the natural forests have been in some parts destroyed in a most careless manner. Besides, there cannot be any doubt if the forests were allowed to pass there would be a great change in the whole district which was timbered before, and it would be extremely difficult, if at all possible, to reconstruct the original conditions.
Dr. Domin points out that in Australia there is practically going on a criminal destruction of our great timber resources, and he urges the absolute necessity of having regard to the future. He further points out the important results that will arise from afforestation, and tells us that the destruction of the forests as in the United States and Canada, has, in places, completely altered the aspect of those countries. What is most important as regards the future, is the difficulty there will be, if the timber resources are not conserved, in obtaining supplies necessary in our export trade. If that trade grows in the future as it has in the past, we shall, at no great distance of time, have to face the problem of how to obtain adequate supplies. It is necessary that the Commonwealth and the States should co-operate, and, as is being done in tlie United States, Canada, and other civilized countries, secure a proper inventory of our natural resources, with a view to their conservation. The Commonwealth could give the lead, and secure uniformity of action.
– Is there any parallel between the United States and Australia?
– I think there is a distinct parallel. The honorable member for Hindmarsh very properly asks, in effect, what practical results can be accomplished ;by the creation of a Commonwealth Department of Agriculture. As I said before, I do not think it advisable, nor h it even suggested, that the Common”wealth should interfere in any way with the existing State Departments in the work they are doing. Under the Constitution, however, there is a division of powers as between the Commonwealth and the States, and several previously exercised by the States in connexion with their Departments of Agriculture have passed over to the Commonwealth. It is in regard to these powers that we as a Commonwealth require expert advice. Generally speaking, the work of the Department of Agriculture consists of four divisions - administrative and regulative duties, research and investigation, educational work, and the obtaining of information in regard to foreign markets.
– That is the. finest bit of Socialism that could be thought of !
– The honorable member will have an opportunity to explain himself presently. The administrative work has to do with exports and imports, and, of course, includes quarantine. Under the Constitution, the administration of quarantine passed over to the Commonwealth, and lit forms in other countries a very important branch of the duties in Departments of Agriculture, the object being to prevent the spread of disease in plant life and amongst stock.
– Would a Commonwealth inspector have power to control any orchard or garden?
– Not within a State. The whole depends on co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States, each exercising their powers for the common good.
– That is what the States will not do !
– That is what the Constitution intended them to do; and I think I shall show that the States are so acting in one particular instance.
– Was there not a resolution in regard to this matter at the last Premiers’ Conference?
– There was a discussion, but since then the representatives of Queensland, Victoria, and New South Wales have expressed themselves as favorable to this action. By way of illustration : as to oversea quarantine, the power rests with the Commonwealth, but with the States there remains the duty of mapping out districts and making regulations to prevent the spread of disease in orchards within a State. The Commonwealth has to exercise its power to keep disease out of Australia, while the States exercise their power to prevent disease from spreading from orchard to orchard and from State to State. In regard to stock, there is now co-operation between the States, and I ascertained only yesterday that Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland have agreed to notify one another of any outbreak of disease. I am informed that Victoria has been able to notify the other States that, within the Victorian borders, there is no notifiable disease; and that certainly speaks well for the administration of the State. These diseases include anthrax, pleuro-pneumonia, and tick infestation. So that the Commonwealth exercises its power to keep these diseases out of Australia, whilst the States try to confine them to specific areas, and so enable them to be completely exterminated. In the United States of America the subject of diseases in animals and plants forms an exceedingly important branch of the work of the Agricultural Department. There* also, one of the most important branches of the Bureau is the Meteorological branch. I think that is likewise the case in Canada. The control of meteorology has in Australia passed over to the Commonwealth. Then, again, the question of controlling exports and establishing agencies abroad to open up foreign markets for Australian goods relates to the Department of External Affairs, and is entirely within Commonwealth jurisdiction. Those honorable members who read yesterday a very able and interesting article which appeared in the Age will know that some very pertinent remarks were’ lately made by the High Commissioner as to the necessity of having commercial agents appointed abroad to investigate foreign markets, and report upon them for the benefit of Australian producers. I have received information from people who have recently been abroad as to the importance, not only of establishing agents in England, but also as to the desirableness of looking for fresh markets in Canada and the United States of America. I think that the Minister of Trade and Customs has received some communications on that subject, and has been urged to appoint some one in Canada to look for markets for our goods. Much has also been said as to the necessity of developing our Eastern markets.
– Victoria, and, I think, some of the other States, at present have commercial agents in the East.
– I gather, however, that the opinion of those best qualified to speak is that it would be better for the Commonwealth to have an agent representing all Australia rather than to have agents for the different States.
– That matter is outside the scope of the honorable member’s motion.
– Not necessarily. Honorable members may reasonably ask me what powers we possess comparable with powers which are being exercised in other countries in connexion with the Department of Agriculture. In the United States of America, the control of the exports is entirely in the hands of the Department of Agriculture, which publishes bulletins with reference to foreign markets, and sends agents abroad to investigate plants growing in different countries, in order to ascertain to what extent they can be adapted to the needs of the United States of America. These experts have taken back important lucerne and other plants, the cultivation of which it is stated has added greatly to the ma terial wealth of the United States of America. To my mind, the work which the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture should undertake should be restricted to scientific research. Opinions that have been received from the States indicate that some of their Governments recognise that that would be legitimate work for the Commonwealth to undertake. Mr. Swinburne, of Victoria, reported that, in his opinion, scientific research should be undertaken by the Commonwealth. The Hon. A. H. Barlow, writing on behalf of the Queensland Government - his letter is, I think, in the records of the Department - said that, recognising that such a Department was for the public good, he was willing to co-operate with it; and Mr. Perry, the new South Wales Minister of Agriculture, stated, in a speech which he delivered, that he would have no objection whatever to the Commonwealth undertaking scientific research work. That is a matter which is entirely within our powers. Many industries in- Australia are at present combating diseases affecting plants and animals. When the preceding Government were in office, they received a request from representatives of several industries asking them to undertake scientific research work. Representatives of South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales concerned in the fruit-growing industry drew our attention to diseases affecting apples, and asked the Commonwealth Government to appoint experts to make investigations. From Queensland, . our attention was drawn to diseases affecting the sugar cane, and the Government were asked to appoint special officers to investigate that matter. Mr. McAlpine, the Victorian Government expert, reported to his own Government that he thought a certain disease affecting potatoes was a matter for investigation by the Commonwealth. If honorable members will look at the work that is being done, especially in the smaller States, they will see that entomologists and other experts who have been appointed have so many ad-, ministrative duties cast upon them that they cannot devote the whole of their time to investigation work.
– There ought to be a special Department for the purpose.
– We ought to have a
Special body, composed of the best scientific experts we can get, to investigate scientifically the various problems that present themselves. We have made a beginning in diseases affecting human beings, in connexion with the Tropical Institute at Townsville; a leading scientist of very high repute has been appointed to investigate those diseases, and the Commonwealth has assisted by granting a subsidy of .£750 a year. The work is being conducted by a Committee appointed by the Universities of Australia. But we should carry that scientific work further, and appoint qualified officers to investigate diseases which are not local in their evil effects, but may injure all States alike. Many of these diseases know nothing’ of State boundaries. If a disease affecting plants or stock breaks out in one State, and spreads over the border, it becomes a very serious menace indeed to the prosperity of Australia as a whole. Take, for instance, the ravages of the tick pest, which extended from the Northern Territory to Queensland, and right down to New South Wales. We now learn that Irish blight, affecting potatoes, has spread to several States. No one State should bear the burden of investigating these matters. It should be essentially a national concern. Only by making it national can we pay salaries adequate to secure the services of experts chosen to investigate them. Unless we are to secure the very best men available, we ought not to bother about the matter at all. We want only the very best.
– Does the honorable member say that Irish blight is in all the States of the Commonwealth?
– I say that it is in several of the States. The scientific investigation should be conducted under the authority, and at the expense, of the Commonwealth. If a discovery is made, and a method of eradication pointed out, the application will depend upon the States, which, I am satisfied, will be glad to fall into line.
– There is one State that will not.
– It is a matter that affects people’s pockets, and when it can be shown that there is a remedy, I am sure that the States will take the necessary action. What I have described is exactly what is occurring in the United States of America at the present time. The Bureau of Agriculture investigates, and after the research work has been carried out, and a method of dealing with diseases has been discovered, the States do the rest by administrative action. Thus diseases are coped with adequately and properly. My point is that the Com monwealth and the States should cooperate, the Commonwealth undertaking the scientific investigation, and leaving the States to administer, thus conducing towards eradicating diseases from the continent. What position ought we as a nation to occupy in this matter? Are we going to lag behind, and be heedless of the progress made by other countries? Are we to be the only country that is not going to conduct original research on its own lines, or shall we do everything we can to promote the advance of science in Australia? We have our own problems to cope with, many of them peculiar to ourselves. We should surely bring to bear the highest scientific knowledge we can command to effect a solution of those problems. If honorable members wish to have some idea of the work that is being done in other countries in connexion with entymology alone, I invite them to look at the report in the Times of the International Congress of Entymology held in Brussels, from 1st August to 6th August. It will be seen that we have a great deal to learn on this matter. To show the serious consequences that may follow from the ravages of pests, I will read a short extract from the report -
Dr. H. Skinner, delegate of various American learned societies and institutions, gave a brief but interesting account of the history of entymology in the United States of America during the last one hundred years. The loss due to insects alone in the United States of America amounts to millions of dollars annually. The State of Massachusetts has spent a million dollars on its campaign against the gipsy moth, which has devastated 100 square miles, and done some 50,000,000 dollars’ worth of damage, and the United States Government has appropriated 300,000 dollars to the work of confining its damage to the locality, and preventing its spread to adjoining States.
I am glad to say that here in Australia we have not so very many of these pests, but we have sufficient of them, and they are serious enough to demand Commonwealth action. It is obvious that, if we prevent pests from spreading, we shall increase the material results to the farmers and fruit-growers. Fruit-growing in Queensland, which was formerly a thriving industry, was, in some districts, practically destroyed through the operations of the fruit fly. If that pest were investigated and eradicated it would mean a very large increase in the fruit production of Queensland. Another matter to which my attention was drawn yesterday in this State was the importance of the export of soft fruits. It was pointed out to me that experiments made here show that it is possible to keep soft fruits, such as apples, pears, peaches, apricots, &c, in cold storage from three to six months. But the exporting of soft fruits is a more serious problem. Look at what it would mean to us in Australia if an export trade in this direction could be developed. We should bring science to bear upon the problem, and see whether we cannot obtain some solution, realizing that if we did, it would mean a tremendous gain to all the States. In the first instance the Commonwealth should confine its attention entirely to scientific research, and in that way it could do a great deal for the advancement of Australia. The educational agencies may well be left to the States ; but reports of a general character, such, for instance, as the report relating to the Congress on Dry Farming, now being held in the United States, as well as information of importance to agriculturists, sent out from time to time by the High Commissioner might be distributed by the Commonwealth Government with highly beneficial results.
– Is not this a function of the States?
– No. To the States should’ be left agricultural education in their public schools, colleges, and universities, the Commonwealth undertaking only such matters as it may successfully carry out for the general welfare of the community. If we confine our attention at the outset to research work, we shall greatly add to the material resources of Australia. An investigation of the conditions of living in the tropics would alone be of great importance. The taking over of the Northern Territory will make the establishment of a Federal Department of Agriculture absolutely necessary, and my belief is that even before we take it over we should at the earliest opportunity appoint experts upon whose assistance we may rely in its development. We shall have to obtain the best advice that experts can offer as to the policy most suited to the development of the Territory. Undoubtedly we shall have to build railways, to liberalize land settlement, to consider irrigation schemes, and to establish experimental farms. In the early stages of the control of the Territory by the Commonwealth we shall need to settle there immigrants who may be ignorant of its conditions, and the assistance of experts will be necessary to advise them of the best methods of agriculture. It is, therefore, essential for us in every way to keep this matter to the front. I hope that the House will affirm the motion, and that its adoption will lead to the establishment of a Bureau which will increase our knowledge, improve the conditions of living on the soil, and add materially to the wealth and resources of Australia.
– I wish to express the pleasure I have derived from the address just delivered by the honorable member for Darling Downs, although a motion of this kind ought really to be superfluous. Surely no Government, having at heart the true interests of Australia, would neglect so important a factor in its development as the establishment of a Federal Bureau of Agriculture must be. Such an institution is quite as necessary to the advancement of the interests of Australia as is a land tax. By imposing a land tax we shall secure land for the people, and by establishing a Bureau of Agriculture we shall teach those who go upon the land how to obtain from it the best results. Those who have read of the rural industries in the Old World, as well as in the United States, must recognise that in that respect Australia is as yet in its infancy. We have not attempted to put the land to anything like its full use, but have been skirmishing with it, so to speak, just as the people of the United States did in the early days. New areas are taken up, and, for the most part, only the easiest possible method of obtaining some return from them is adopted. No serious attention has been given to intense culture. By the establishment of a Bureau of Agriculture, however, we shall mark out for ourselves a great work of education. I was rather sorry to hear the honorable member for Darling Downs say that he would leave to the States the task of educating the people on questions relating to agriculture. In that respect we need a national system. We must have in the markets of the world a name for Australian products, and Australian education in this direction must be uniform. Many honorable members fear to intrude upon State rights in this direction, but in the real life of production and export no man can afford to limit his vision within any State boundaries. I think that we shall need in the future to be even unificationists in this matter.
– Hear, hear. That i3 a good word.
– In this connexion we must dismiss from our minds any question of State boundaries. From the first we have clamoured loudly about the marvellous extent of our natural resources, but our neglect of those resources has been almost criminal. A good deal of that neglect has been due to the quib- bling of the States over non-essentials, while real essentials have been overlooked. During the present session the Government have been overwhelmed with heavy work. They have had to deal with important measures demanding immediate attention, and I can well understand “their failure to’ bring forward a Bill providing for the establishment of a Bureau of Agriculture. I strongly hope, however, that before another session passes such a measure will have been placed on the statute-book. During the reign of the late Government this proposition was submitted to the House, and I viewed it as one on which there could be no party feeling. I have always approved of it, and trust that the Government will see ‘ fit to include it in their programme for next session. I hope that they will provide for a complete system of scientific research and education, and that attention will be given to the desirableness of having Commonwealth agents in the principal markets of the world. Competition is becoming very keen, and we might well follow the example set us by enterprising German producers who send their products to all parts of the world. We have more wonderful resources than has Germany, and should do our best to develop them. Australia has such a wide range of climates that it can bring forth produce of every kind. In winter certain parts of Tasmania are almost frozen, whilst the far north of Queensland is deep in the tropics, so that Australia is capable of raising products peculiar to every temperature. This is a magnificent subject for a debate, and with preparation one might make an exhaustive speech upon it. I have not collected any data, but have read with interest all questions relating to it, and am certainly very thankful to the honorable member for Darling Downs for the amount of good work he has put into the preparation of his speech, and the f:.cts which he has provided for our information.
.- The honorable member who has just resumed his seat says quite properly that it would be possible to overwhelm the Committee with data and material relating to this subject.
– I call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– I was about to address myself briefly to this motion, which I am bound to assume will receive the unanimous approbation of the House. The honorable member for New England properly remarked that one might occupy many hours in its discussion if one could conceive that there were any opponents, but it is unnecessary to touch upon more than one or two salient points. For one of these the honorable member for Herbert is responsible. He regards this proposition as in some way connected with “ unification,” another of those blessed words which my honorable friends opposite are fond of using. But there could not be a better illustration of the necessity of an entirely Federal policy than there is in this regard. It is one of those subjects on which both the Commonwealth and the States can operate in the same sphere not only without injury to each other, but with manifest gain. No work calls for more strictly local treatment than agriculture in many of its phases. The infinite variety of circumstances and conditions in ‘Australia make it imperative that there should be investigation, experiment, and actual work in every one of the States. This makes uniformity impossible. At the same time the Federal principle is paramount, because unless all these research works are linked together and federalized, they will be costly and fail in their effect. Consequently, this affords an ideal illustration of the necessity for loyalty to the Federal principle.
– The honorable gentleman should do me the honour to read my Bill.
– I have read it, and trust we shall have an opportunity to discuss it. I regard it as an exceedingly interesting Bill. It has some points which make it distinctly superior to the Government Bills now before us, since, unlike them, it says what it means, and says it in a practical way. But that is leading me’ astray.
– The honorable gentleman wishes’ to lead the honorable gentleman for Herbert astray. He wishes to induce hint to oppose the Government Bills.
– I wish the honorable member to criticise them. If there be one portion of the earth’s surface from .which we can draw more illustration and impetus than any other in agriculture it is the United States of America. I do not wish to dwell on the achievements of its Government, which are well known, but no one can state the number of hundreds of millions of dollars represented by the enhanced production and wealth of the country due to agricultural and pastoral developments materially assisted, and in many cases initiated, by the experimental work done at their agricultural stations. As a visitor to America, whose duty it was to closely examine the irrigation conditions in that country twenty-five years ago, I had much pleasure this week in reading an article in the Age, summing up the progress which has been made within that period. The progress made in the extension, of irrigated culture in America has been stupendous. Even having regard to the wealth, energy, and persistence of the people of the United States, the figures show that the advances have been simply gigantic. The success achieved constitutes an amazing story. I passed through many places where propositions that are now in active working were hardly ‘regarded as possible. One or two then advanced were regarded as highly impracticable, and schemes for the development of outlying areas, which were regarded as hopeless twenty-five years ago, have now been brought to such a degree of success that land then worth nothing is now worth from £S° to £.6° an acre> with eager buyers at that price. That has been accomplished in a quarter of a century. It would take hours to relate all that irrigation has accomplished for America. Curiously enough it has been left to the same magnificently inventive and enterprising people to teach us what can be done without irrigation. That eminently practical and sagacious man, now at the head of the United States of America, President Taft, has within the last week publicly stated, though he must have had in mind these irrigation achievements, that the conquest of what they call their “Dead West” is the greatest the American people have yet accomplished. In that territory, without water, by new methods of cultivation, and by careful selection of products, the American people are transforming areas through which I travelled twenty-five years ago by train, for days without seeing a sign of human habitation - areas which appeared to be totally unsuited for it. That country is now being utilized. It is being rendered so fertile and fruitful that it is adding greatly to the wealth of the United States.
– It is an object-lesson for Australia.
– Exactly. Where is there any country in the world in which the same opportunities exist for experimental work in this direction as are now presented in Australia ? There is no country that needs the assistance of perfect systems of dry as well as of wet farming more than Australia.
– We must have railways also.
– I ask honorable members not to tell me how many things we need. Railways are among them, but people come first. In Australia we have a continent with the greatest unused possibilities of development for wet farming, dry farming, and pastoral pursuits.
– And mineral development.
– We may trust the cupidity of mankind to develop our mineral resources, but agricultural, pastoral, and kindred pursuits need the superintending and assisting help of the States and of the Commonwealth. I am sure that Ministers must feel favorable to a proposal which may be applied with advantage to so much of Australia that is yet unutilized, and also to our Territory, Papua. Many studies of the unfamiliar circumstances of that tropical country will be necessary if we are to fully realize the promise of the Territory.
– That in itself is a sufficient justification for the proposed bureau.
– A sufficient justification is to be found in every district in Australia. No question is more urgent. I am sure the Ministry must be sympathetic, and that they must intend to establish an Agricultural Bureau, or Department. Surely all we have to do is to speak of the urgency of beginning at once, and, as previous Governments intended, of obtaining the very best authorities we can find, .from America, possibly, but from European or other countries if better can be obtained there.
– For what purpose?
– For the purpose of studying Australia’s diversified conditions, and advising our farmers as to better methods of utilizing its soils, new products, new varieties of old products, the means of coping with plant and animal pests and diseases, together with the utilization of plant and animal life from other portions of the world from which remunerative returns might naturally be expected. In fact, the area of investigation is so wide that Ministers need have no hesitation in making a beginning. They can scarcely begin wrong wherever they begin, seeing that there is so much to be done, and so many opportunities for all kinds of useful work are afforded. With such guides we should pick out some of our own most advanced enterprising and promising young men, and let them complete their training in the agricultural colleges of America and elsewhere. We have a good deal to learn in this matter from India. I had an opportunity of seeing most of the achievements in irrigation in that country. They are well worthy of study, and many of the products of the country are worthy of study, especially for cultivation in the Northern Territory and Papua. We could, I think, gain many valuable wrinkles from Hindustan. I merely wish to add my expression of appreciation for the work done by the honorable member for Darling Downs, who for many years has made this subject a special study, and to urge upon the House what should need no urging, and that is that this great work should be undertaken with all expedition and the utmost promptitude.
.- I have no desire to occupy time unnecessarily in this debate. I agree with the many speakers who have preceded me that the subject is a very big one indeed. I am thankful to the honorable member for Darling Downs for the exhaustive address he has delivered this morning. There is much more that the honorable gentleman could have said, but I have risen to indorse the greater portion of the remarks he has made, and, in common with other honorable members, to urge upon the Ministry to take this matter seriously into consideration in the recess.
– But I understand that we are to have no recess.
– If there is work to be done, I have no doubt we shall be patriotic enough to remain here to do it ; but I hope that when we re-assemble after the recess one of the principal items on the businesspaper will be a proposal to deal with this question, perhaps, more elaborately than has been suggestedby the honorable member for Darling Downs. It will be admitted that our neglect of our timber resources has been criminal. In Victoria, I suppose we have been greater offenders in this regard than have the people of any other State in Australia. We have no natural pine in this State, and we should, many years ago, have planted pine trees; our mountain sides should now be covered with great pine forests. We have neglected that most important work. I propose to make a quotation from a memorandum, drawn up in connexion with a measure proposed for the establishment of a Bureau of Agriculture, by the honorable member for Darling Downs. In a few words, it shows what it is possible to do by the proper working of a Department of this kind -
Mr. John Foster Fraser, in America at Work, page 101, says - “To my mind the Agricultural Department of the United States is the most useful organization in the world. It does not do all it sets out to accomplish, but the machinery is there and the enthusiasm is there.”
I should like to say that in this matter we need enthusiasm, and I believe that in the majority of the members of this House, as well as in a large proportion of the community, both men and women, we have enthusiasm for the development of our natural resources. “ Above all - and this is the point - it is practical to the American. The results of experiments spell dollars. It is thorough.”
In further confirmation of this view the Honorable J. M. Rusk, formerly Secretary to the Department of Agriculture, in the United States, writes as follows : - “ In concluding the review of the work done under the several divisions in this Department since the date of my last annual report it gives me pleasure to state, and I say this advisedly, that each one of the more than a dozen divisions whose work I have reviewed has returned in actual value to the country during the past year far more than the entire annual appropriation accorded to this Department.”
We should launch out in a Department of Agriculture. I prefer that it should be called a Department rather than a Bureau. I am prepared in this matter to go further than is proposed by the honorable member for Darling Downs. I am not one of those who are afraid to encroach upon what may be regarded as the province of the States, but I quite recognise that, in order that the work of an Agricultural Department may be efficiently carried out, it will be necessary to act in co-operation with State authorities and State experts. Before this Parliament comes to a close I expect we shall have passed a measure to provide for the taking over of the Northern Territory, and in that Territory alone we shall have ample scope for the work of a Department of Agriculture. To carry out experimental work in that Territory, and show that very many tropical plants can be grown there successfully, it will be necessary to import men who know something about tropical agriculture. I would suggest also that an Agricultural Department might be called upon to carry out boring operations. This is a pet subject of mine, because I am one of those who believe that we shall ultimately find that the central portion of Australia will be amongst the most productive areas of this continent.
– What part of Central Australia does the honorable member refer to?
– I do not refer to any special part. I am aware that the right honorable member for Swan has conferred great benefits upon the people of Australia by his explorations of this continent. He, doubtless, knows a great deal more about Central Australia than I do.
– I thought the honorable member might have some particular part of the country in his mind.
– No, I referred generally to a part of the Commonwealth which is sometimes characterized in the press, and by ill-informed speakers from the platform, as desert country. I entirely disagree with that description of the country, because, while Providence has not blessed it with surface water, I believe there is plenty of water below the earth in that part of the Commonwealth. Agricultural chemists now play an important part in agriculture, and we shall need chemists to analyze the qualities of our soil, and inform our farmers as to the constituents which they require, to enable them to produce prolific crops. We know that the mineralized artesian waters are, to some extent, destructive of plant life, but I believe that they may be so treated by chemists that they may yet be utilized for irrigation purposes. In the past, considerable narrowness and parochialism has been displayed by the Premiers and other representatives of the States, because they regard any effort made by the Federal Parliament, or by Federal members in this or any other direction, as an encroachment upon their particular preserves. We have, however, power under the Constitution to do certain things, and I hope we shall avail ourselves of that power, in the interest of Australia and of the very large numbers of people who will come here to help us to develop the resources of this country, which I consider the greatest in the world. I feel sure that the Minister will not take a narrow view of the question. I hope that he will reply in a favorable tone, and promise, on behalf of the Government, that next session they will introduce a Bill to carry out to a large extent the matters developed in the speech of the honorable member for Darling Downs. Anything that will lead to the development of our great resources, particularly in agriculture, will have my hearty support in this Chamber.
– This is, of course, by no means a new subject in the Federal Parliament. It was first introduced by the honorable member for Bendigo in the first Parliament. A kindred subject relating to the question of dry farming was afterwards brought forward by the then honorable member for Echuca, now Senator McColl, and subsequently the honorable member for Darling Downs not only mentioned it as a private member, but, when Minister of External Affairs, about twelve months ago, introduced a Bill dealing with it. That Bill was withdrawn in this Chamber, and introduced in the Senate.
– A difficulty arose over one clause in Committee there.
– At any rate, the Bill was not proceeded with further last session. We are all aware that the States have taken up a very strong attitude on this question. »I have copies of the official reports of the Melbourne and Hobart Premiers’ Conferences. A resolution was carried in 1909 that each State should control the development of its own agricultural resources. The report then goes on to give the history of the proposal since it was introduced at the first Premiers’ Conference, at Hobart, in 1905. All the Premiers and other State representatives who spoke on the subject in 1905 were opposed to this proposal.
– What does that matter?
– I admit that it does not matter.
– The honorable member will find that in the last part of their report they admit the power of the Commonwealth to do this work.
– The report of the Conference of 1909 contains the following passage
Evidence of disposition on the part of the Commonwealth to create a Bureau of Agriculture is, of course, relevant to the above resolution. It is interesting to recall the fact that, as far back as the Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers which assembled at Hobart, in February, 1905, the intention of the Federation to establish such a Department was made known. The proposal was strongly opposed by the Premiers on that occasion, and assurances by Federal Ministers that the Bureau would not interfere with or diminish the utility of State Departments of Agriculture did not serve to minimize the opposition, with which the announcement was received.No resolution of that Conference was placed upon record. Although, subsequently, the project was intermittently mentioned in the press, no official intimation of intended Federal activity was forthcoming until September, 1908. In that month, it will be remembered, Mr. Deakin circularized the State Premiers, and ‘ invited their careful attention to a memorandum on the establishment of such a Department, prepared by bis colleague, the Attorney-General. In this document, Mr. Groom dealt exhaustively with the arguments in favour of a Federal Bureau, and in doing so, traversed the history of the United States, Denmark, and the Australian States in an endeavour to prove the necessity for such a Department.
At a later stage the “ Bureau of Agriculture Bill “ was introduced to the House of Representatives. The measure proposed to provide that the Bureau be subject to regulations, and to the direction of the Minister, and be charged with any of the following functions : -
They then detail the different functions to which the honorable member for Darling Downs alluded this morning, and proceed -
The Bill, however, was not taken beyond the first-reading stage, and Mr. Deakin shortly after vacated office.
It has always been recognised that, consequent upon the powers vested in the Commonwealth to deal with the question of bounties and other matters affecting rural industries, the Department of Agriculture is within the sphere of jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Parliament, and until definite steps are taken to give effect to these powers, it is not possible to say whether Commonwealth action contravenes the resolution adopted at the Conference.
I think every member of the Commonwealth Parliament realizes that every time the Commonwealth has utilized even its existing powers under the Constitution, the State Governments have objected. That happened when we tried to exercise our existing powers in regard to quarantine, the taking over of lighthouses, and in other directions.
– That has nothing to do with an agricultural bureau.
– I am pointing out that the States have protested every time that we have proposed to exercise even our existing powers.
– I do not think so. The party opposite have always been trying to invade the rights of the States.
– What the Minister says is all the more reason why we should go ahead.
– I do not think honorable members can accuse me of a desire to see the Federal Parliament refrain from exercising its powers under the Constitution. It is quite possible, however, that in trying to take over some of these Departments, or to do work before we are ready to do it, we may start overlapping or clashing with the States Departments, and thereby create friction.
– It is not necessary to take over any one. The States have not got enough officers to do their own work in that direction.
– But honorable members have only to study the proceedings at their own Conferences to see the attitude of the States. . At the Conference of 1905, when Federal Ministers were present, Sir Joseph Carruthers, the then Premier of New South Wales, said -
I look with very great concern at any time on proposals to enlarge Commonwealth functions. I do not think it was ever contemplated that the Commonwealth Government or Parliament should extend its operations by, for instance, the establishment of a Department of Agriculture.
I agree with the honorable member for Maribyrnong that it is useless to call this a bureau, and that the proposal simply means the creation of a Federal Department of Agriculture. Sir Joseph Carruthers was right when he referred to it as a Department. He also said -
The various States, and of course I speak of my own State in particular, have taken -great steps towards the enlargement of our cultivation by introducing new plans and methods, and I think that Mr. McLean has shown consideration to matters upon which our opinions are united, but when it comes to a question of the Commonwealth Government taking up the business then I say “ No.”
– Let him say “No.” It does not matter.
– I admit that it does not matter. But I am pointing out to the right honorable member for Swan and others who say that the States have not taken objection to our exercising this power, that in their Conferences every State representative, starting with Sir Joseph Carruthers, was against Commonwealth action. Mr. Morgan, the then Premier of Queensland, said -
I am against the proposal. It would mean the Federal Government entering upon work which, I think, can be better carried out by the States themselves.
– What date was that?
– 1905, which was the only time the State representatives fully discussed this proposal, and every one of them opposed it.
– They did not think it was fully within the powers of the Commonwealth.
– We have no evidence that they think it is fully within our powers to-day.
– The honorable member read from the 1909 report their own admission that the matter is within our powers.
– That was not the admission by them at all. They first of all set out the resolution, and then gave a precis of the whole affair.
– With an admission at the end that it is within the Commonwealth powers.
– They do not say that.
– Their admissions do not matter, anyhow.
-I admit that they do not matter.
– Would the Minister condemn them in regard to every other case they do not mention because they had some doubts about this power?
– It was not a case of “ doubts.” Every one of them was against the proposal, including the then Premier of Queensland, who said -
I do not think, however, a case has been made out for the establishment of a Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, and I am against if for other reasons - because it would be overlapping State works, would involve fresh expenditure, and accomplish very little good.
Then Mr. Jenkins-
– He is out of politics.
– He is, but these men are the representatives of the States.
– They were five years ago:
– I will guarantee that the opinion of the State Premiers is practically the same to-day as it was when this report was made.
– And a bit more so.
– I am inclined to believe, with the unificationist member for Herbert, that it is quite possible that the State Premiers are keener to-day on trying to safeguard what they consider to be their rights, and preventing the Commonwealth doing anything with regard to any of their functions, than they were in 1905. Besides Mr. Jenkins, the then Premier of South Australia, there were Mr. Butler, also representing South Australia, Mr. Daglish, of
Western Australia, and Mr. Evans, of Tasmania, every one of. whom strongly opposed the proposal. I realize that it is possible that certain work exists in this direction that can. be better done by the Commonwealth than by any of the States ; but it must not be forgotten that every time we propose to take any power, or exercise any function belonging to the Commonwealth we immediately have an outcry from the States. Take the case of the Commerce Act, which we are administering to-day, as the Department believe, in the best interests not only of the community generally, but of the producers of Australia as well.
– Based on a rotten report.
– The Commerce Act was in operation long before the report which the honorable member is pleased to call “ rotten “ was in existence. Before that report was written every State had objected to the Act. The Minister of Agriculture in New South Wales protested at the time against the Commonwealth Parliament doing .anything in the .direction of the Commerce Act provisions.
– If it was action such as the Minister proposes to take I do not wonder at that gentleman objecting.
– Long before I went to the Customs Department, the New South Wales Minister of Agriculture objected, just as the States object to-day to the Commonwealth Parliament exercising any of its own functions. Every honorable member will admit that we have the power to enforce the Commerce Act, and I am pleased to think that every member of this Parliament, and most of the people connected with the industries which are affected by the Act, would rather be under one undivided control, and know that the regulations in force were uniform throughout Australia, than they would be under the control of the several States. But, unfortunately, the States themselves do not take that view of the question. Very often State Departments do their utmost to fan the flame of discord, and to create in the minds of persons who are subject to the regulations which have been framed under the Commerce Act a suspicion against the Commonwealth which is administering them. The principal justification for the establishment of a Commonwealth Bureau of Agriculture is that such an organization would be able to do work which the States cannot do, or which they could not do so effectively. We know that pests are no respectors of State boundaries. The Commonwealth, I contend, is better able to inquire into such pests as bitter pit in apples, tick in cattle, Irish blight in potatoes, and grub in cane than is any State. Further, it is in a better position to ascertain what is being done to combat these pests in other countries. If the Commonwealth Government can discharge any function for the people of Australia better than can the States themselves - if it can perform any function with less friction - it ought to perform it.
– The Commonwealth sometimes creates friction.
– But that friction is nothing compared with the friction which exists between the Agricultural Departments of the various States to-day. Only two or three weeks ago the honorable member himself complained of the action of the State Departments of Agriculture in exercising certain powers under the Quarantine Act to exclude clean produce from other States.
– Does the Minister propose to establish a central Department of Agriculture, and do away with the State Departments?
– I do not. It was a member of the party with which the honorable member was associated who urged that the whole of this power should be handed over to the Commonwealth Government.
– To whom does the Minister refer?
– To the honorable member for Wilmot. Some honorable members upon the opposite side of the chamber were in favour of that proposal, whilst others were opposed to it. But quite a number pointed out that friction exists between the State Agricultural Departments - that some of the States were exercising their powers to exclude clean fruit from other States.
– That is the effect of their action.
Mr.TUDOR.- Exactly. It has been said that some of the States are charging excessive fees for the inspection of produce for the purpose of benefiting their own people.
– That is altogether another matter.
– It is quite possible that many pests exist into which the Commonwealth might institute inquiries more effectively than can any State.
– Some persons consider that the inspector is the greatest pest.
– I am quite prepared to believe that. But I think that that officer discharges a very useful function. After all, the States have a right - if their orchards are clean - to insist that they shall be kept clean by means of a rigid inspection.
– But that power ought not to be used for the purpose of imposing a prohibition upon Inter-State produce.
– In any case, it is not the question which is under consideration.
– But it is very closely interwoven with it. If we agree to this motion, effect will have to be given to it by means of a Bill or of an appropriation. I admit that the Commonwealth can better conduct inquiries into many pests than can any State. I have already mentioned the question of bitter pit in apples. I think that that disease is of such importance that it would not be fair to compel any one State to bear the whole of the expenses of conducting an inquiry into it.
– In America the inquiry into it cost£100,000.
– Of course, anything that we might spend would be small compared with the cost of the inquiry which has been conducted in America. We know that that country has practically perfected its system of inquiry in this connexion. The people of America realize that some pests can be better controlled by a central authority than they can be by any State authority.
– Let us get to a division.
– I do not think it is fair to press this motion to a division after such a short debate, though I have no desire to prevent that course being followed if it be the wish of honorable members. 1 know that some honorable members feel very strongly upon the matter, and I recognise that the adoption of the motion would be practically an instruction to the Government that steps should ‘be taken to give effect to the will of the House. But the motion has been debated for only oneandahalf hours to-day. I recollect that when a Bill providing for the establishment of a Commonwealth Bureau of Agriculture was brought forward by the late Government it was turned down in another place. As I have already said, the most practical way of dealing with the question is by means of a Bill. Before concluding my remarks, I wish to say that in my opinion the Commonwealth should control our timber resources. The matter of afforestation is one which affects us climatically. If our forests are denuded of trees, and nothing be planted in their place, our climate will be seriously affected.
– The Minister apparently thinks that the Commonwealth takes more interest in that matter than do the States.
– I do not say that for a moment. But I believe that some of the States are not alive to the importance of the question.
– We are more alive, I suppose?
– I do not suggest that. Afforestation is one of the most important matters which can be considered by this Parliament.
– Take over all the powers of the States.
– Judging by the honorable member’s interjections, one would think that I had brought this proposal forward. I need scarcely remind honorable members that upon former occasions the States themselves have bitterly opposed it. If the matter be left over until the recess it will be considered by the Government.
– Let the motion be carried, and the Government will then be in a position to consider it.
– If the matter be allowed to remain in abeyance, the Government will consider it during” the recess, and, if as a result of that consideration, a Commonwealth Bureau of Agriculture is established, I trust that it will not work in antagonism to, but rather in harmony with, the Agricultural Bureaux which already exist in the States.
Motion (by Mr. Frazer) put -
That the debate be now adjourned.
The House divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to; debate adjourned.
Resumed debate (vide page 794), on motion by Mr. Fuller, adjourned.
.- I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This measure was originally introduced in the Senate two years ago, and then applied to all companies; but it has since been amended so that its provisions may now be availed of only by banking companies having a paid up capital of £100,000 or more. The measure is purely permissive, it being open to the banking institutions to which it applies to avail themselves of its provisions or not as they please; there is nothing compulsory in it. If advantage is taken of these provisions, the measure is likely to prove very beneficial to the community. The Bill enables the directors of banking institutions having a paid up capital of not less than ; £100, 000 to form funds by the setting aside of a portion of the net profits to meet reserve liabilities and to pay the uncalled capital of shareholders. The laws and charters under which our banking companies do business impose on the shareholders a liability in respect to uncalled capital, and the Bill will enable a fund to be created out of net profit to meet this liability, in the event of an institution getting into difficulties. The Bank of New South Wales may be mentioned as a typical case. Its shares are of the nominal value of £20 paid up, and carry a ‘reserve liability of £20 each. Should the bank meet with disaster, and go into liquidation, each shareholder would be liable for £20 in respect to every share which he holds. The Bill, however, enables the bank to create out of its net profits a fund to cover this liability. It may be asked, “ Why should Parliament relieve shareholders of their liability in respect to shares? “ My reply is that that is not being done. All that the Bill does is to permit banking institutions to create out of profits a fund to cover the liabilities of their shareholders. When it becomes law, a banking institution may decide either to pay to its shareholders a dividend of, say, 15 per cent., or to pay, say, 10 per cent., putting the balance to a fund to meet their reserve liabilities. Under clause 6 the profits thus put aside must be invested in Government securities. This arrangement really improves the position of the creditors of the bank.
– How is it that this Was not proposed until the establishment of a national bank had been mooted?
– I cannot answer that question, but the proposal seems to me a good one, in the interests of both shareholders and creditors.
– The banks have awakened up too late.
– That is a matter for the consideration of the House. Now, if a bank should get into difficulties, its shareholders would be liable for the amount of the uncalled capital, or other reserve liabilities, and it frequently happens that persons who are solvent when they purchase bank shares are unable, fifteen or twenty years later, at a time of commercial crisis, to meet their liabilities, and, instead of being able to pay 20s. in the ;£i,-can pay only 5s. or ros. When this occurs, a bank’s creditors, of course, suffer. It is not intended to relieve shareholders from liability. The Bill provides that, on the passing of a resolution at a general meeting, confirmed by three-fifths of the shareholders, money may be set aside out of the net profits for investment in Government securities, at compound interest. After a number of years - the period will depend upon the amount set aside - the fund thus instituted will. become large enough to cover the reserve liabilities of the shareholders. In the tenth number of Hansard, issued this session, tables will be found which show the manner in which sums thus set aside would increase at certain rates of interest. I wish to make it clear that the money thus set aside must be part of the net profits made by the bank, which would otherwise be paid directly to the shareholders. Clause 3 contains a definition of “ net profits “ which was inserted at the instance of a senator, but I propose in Committee to submit an . amendment which, in my opinion, will provide a better one. Honorable members will observe that the fund is to be placed in the hands of trustees, who will be created a separate corporation. There are to be not more than five or less than three trustees, and not more than one of them can be a director of the bank concerned. It is not necessary that a director should be a trustee of the fund, but it is provided that not more than one of the directors can be a trustee. The money will be invested in Government securities, and the fund will accumulate until it exceeds the amount of the uncalled capital and the liabilities by 10 per cent. There are other provisions made in connexion with the position of trustees, but these are merely of a routine character. The matters to which I have referred really comprise the whole of the objects for which the Bill has been introduced. I have been requested by Senator Walker to refer to the opinions which have been expressed by well-known leading men in connexion . with the measure. The first letter is from the Honorable F. E. Winchcombe, M.L.C., of New South Wales, who is the head of a woolbroking firm, and has been chairman of the Sydney Chamber of Commerce. In a letter dated the o’th August. 1910, he wrote as follows: -
Dear Senator Walker,
I have carefully read the Commonwealth Banking Companies Reserve Liabilities Bill as now before the Senate, and I think the matter has therein been reduced to the simplest and safest possible form.
When this scheme was first initiated I had my doubts as to its practicability. I was afraid it would not be possible to absolutely detach the fund from the control of the bank or institution concerned, and yet have it available for the shareholders in case of need.
This, however, has been accomplished, and all necessary safeguards are provided in the Bill.
In view of the fact that the Bill makes it . “ lawful “ for a banking company to establish a fund without in any sense making it “ compulsory “ - thus leaving the matter entirely at the shareholders’ option - I cannot think it likely that any obstacles will be placed in the way of the Bill becoming law.
– Whose letter was that ?
– It was a letter from Mr. F. E. Winchcombe, a member of the large firm of Winchcombe, Carson and Company Limited, woolbrokers and salesmen, of Sydney, a member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales, and an exchairman of the Sydney Chamber of Commerce.
– He is a very prominent man in the Liberal Reform Party.
– Yes, and he is one of the best public men we have in New South Wales to-day.
– He is one of the biggest enemies whom labour has to-day.
– He employs probably more labour than does any one else in New South Wales, and pays men well, too. The next letter which I propose to. read is from Mr. Alfred W. Meeks.
– Another boodleier !
– Mr. Meeks is a member of the old Protectionist Party to which my honorable friend belonged at one time, and a partner in the important shipping firm of Gibbs, Bright, and Company. Under . date the 9th August,1910, he writes as follows : -
Dear Mr. Walker,
I have carefully perused the Bill for an Act to be cited as the Commonwealth Banking Companies Reserve Liabilities Act 1910, and consider it a very excellent proposal, and one which in the interests of the general public should be adopted.
Experience has shown that the calling up of uncalled capital or in like manner, the reserve liability on shares, produces not only hardship, but in some cases, the sudden demand cannot be met, consequently the provision of putting aside as a special reserve in special securities and under independent control assures to the public doing business with the bank that a proportion, and ultimately it may be all, the liability of shareholders is already in hand and available in case of need.
As this special reserve cannot be made available like an ordinary reserve for the business of a bank, it is the same as if a shareholder had deposited so much per share of his liability in the hands of trustees.
Those doing business with the bank cannot suffer by the proposed legislation ; but on the contrary, the position of any bank adopting its conditions is strengthened, and in that way the public generally is further protected.
Alf. W. Meeks.
– Therefore, it really protects the shareholders.
– Whilst it will protect the shareholders, it will also protect the general public who do business with the banks, as I explained a few moments ago. When difficulties occur, and shareholders are called upon to pay up, it frequently means a . great hardship to them, and in many cases they cannot meet their liabilities. But if the Bill is passed there will be available a reserve fund created with their own money to meet all demands in a case of difficulty.
– Made out of the profits of the customers.
– The next letter I wish to quote is from Mr. A. J. Mackenzie, a well-known man in mercantile circles in Sydney, and manager of the Perpetual Trustee Company.
– I have never heard of him.
– It shows how little the honorable member knows of commercial matters in Sydney if he has not heard of Mr. Mackenzie, manager of one of the most important companies that we have.
– I have had nothing left to me ; that is the trouble.
– Under date the 9th August, 1910, Mr. Mackenzie writes as follows : -
Dear Sir, - I write to say that at your request I have carefully perused the Bill introduced into the Senate authorizing any joint stock banking company to set aside moneys in the hands of trustees to provide for their uncalled capital or reserved liabilities, with a view of ascertaining whether the Bill, if it becomes an Act, could prejudicially affect the public, and have no hesitation in saying that it could not, in my opinion, but, on the contrary, it will create still greater security to them, inasmuch as the reserved liabilities, instead of being as at present in the form of uncalled liabilities of shareholders - the value of which must necessarily always be more or less doubtful - will be protected by investments in Government securities beyond the reach of anybody except the creditors of the bank.
The next letter to which I wish to draw the attention of honorable members is from Mr. Lewis P. Bain, a well-known member of the Sydney Stock Exchange, and a prominent stock and share broker in that city.
It is dated the 9th August, 1910, and reads as follows : -
Dear Mr. Walker,
I have copy of your Bill re Reserve Fund for Shareholders in Companies whose shares have a liability such as the banks, Australian Gas Company, insurance companies, &c.
I think your Bill an excellent one. I wish you every success in getting it passed.
Lewis P. Bain.
That is when the Bill was in its original form, and referred to all companies, but as I have already explained, it refers now to banking companies only. The next letter is from Mr. John R. Jones, of 109 Pitt-street, Sydney, under date the 9th August, 1910 -
Dear Sir, - I have read your “ Bill for an Act authorizing any joint stock banking company formed or incorporated in any State to form reserve funds for the express purpose of providing or accumulating ‘funds to protect the shareholders in such banking companies against their liability in respect of the uncalled capital or reserve liabilities on their shares, and to provide for the creation of corporate bodies in which such reserve funds may be vested.” 1 think it very desirable to have a Bill of this sort, and am certain that if the reserve proposed under it had been in existence at the lime of the bank crisis in 1893, the panic, which was caused chiefly through a lot of timid shareholders forcing their shares on the market from fear of being called upon to pay up the reserved liability, would not have been so accentuated.
Apart from the above, I am of opinion that the confidence of depositors would be increased by the fact that the reserve liability of shareholders was assured, and they would not be so anxious to withdraw their deposits.
Hoping you will succeed in getting your Bill through.
John R. Jones.
I have other letters from prominent men, but I do not wish to weary the House by reading’ them.
– Give us their names?
– If the honorable member for Gwydir is anxious to know the names of the writers, perhaps it would be well if I read their letters. The first letter is signed by Mr. P. T. Taylor, of P. T. Taylor and Co., of 141 York-street, Sydney, and is dated the nth August, 1910.
Dear Mr. Walker,
In the rush of business yesterday I overlooked writing you about the Bill you propose to introduce regarding accumulation of special reserves to enable banks to ultimately hold in Government securities an amount equivalent to the liabilities of shareholders under their shares, and thus provide that in the event of a crisis this fund would be able to pay up calls, and at a time when shareholders were probably having heavy calls in other respects, they would be relieved of this.
My feeling is that the proposal is a very excellent one, and 1 am sure would tend to give better security alike to customers and shareholders of the banks, as such a fund once substantially established is a much better protection to banks’ customers than the reserve liability of shareholders, who at a time of crisis would probably be unable to meet their calls.
I wish you every success with the Bill.
The next letter is from Mr. Littlejohn, whom I am sure the honorable member for Gwydir has frequently heard of in commercial circles in Sydney, and also in connexion with its Chamber of Commerce.
– I know him all right.
– Under date 16th August, 1910, Mr. Littlejohn writes in these terms -
Dear Mr. Walker,
I am obliged to you for affording me a perusal of your Bill to authorize the formation of reserve funds within any joint stock banking company, for the protection of shareholders against liability in respect to uncalled capital and reserve liabilities on their shares.
He then refers to the clauses one by one, and concludes with these remarks -
Speaking in general upon this matter, I think that this Bill, if passed into an Act, will establish a much greater degree of confidence on the part of investors generally in public companies, though profits will be reduced until the reserve is established. Had such provisions been in force at the time of the failure of several banks in 1893, the shareholders of several of the banks, such as the Australian Joint Stock Company, would have been saved much hardship, and the re-establishment of the bank upon a satisfactory footing would doubtless have been accomplished much more speedily.
Geo. G. Littlejohn.
Here is a letter from Mr. H. D. Holmes, general manager of the Western Australian Bank at Perth, and dated 6th August, 1910 -
Dear Mr. Walker,
I am in receipt of your letter of the 20th ultimo enclosing a typewritten copy of the Commonwealth Banking Companies Reserve Liability Act 1910, a printed copy of which you had already forwarded to me, for which I thank you.
I thank you for the interest you have taken in this Bill, which, it appears to me, opens a door for banks - to which institutions I note you limit it - to provide against a rainy day so far as the shareholders are concerned. I can see no further necessary alterations, and I trust that it will be carried in its entirety.
I have also a letter from Mr. Beadmore, of Brisbane, who, under date the 1st September, 1 9 10, writes as follows: -
Dear Mr. Walker,
I cannot refrain from offering you my congratulations upon bringing forward the Commonwealth Banking Bill. “I have read in the daily press with great pleasure your able and interesting speech introducing the measure. Needless to say, I fully indorse all you said on the matter, and sincerely trust you may carry it to a successful issue, as no one can really doubt the benefit it will be to the public generally, and to banking business in particular.
These letters were addressed to Senator Walker by very prominent men in the commercial life of the community, and they state that this is a highly desirable measure in the interests of not only the shareholders in banks, but also the creditors and the general public. I reiterate that, if passed, it will enable the shareholders of any bank at a general meeting to authorize, by a three-fifths majority, the creation of a ‘ reserve fund out of moneys which otherwise would go into their pockets as dividends, to meet the full liability on their shares, thus not only giving confidence to the public, but also securing creditors. I have much pleasure in submitting the motion.
Sitting suspended, from 12.58 to 2.30 p.m.
– Honorable members are indebted to the honorable member for Illawarra for introducing this important question to our attention. No subject is of more importance than that of banking and finance; there is no question with which it is more necessary for public men to make themselves acquainted. This Bill, I understand, has been sent down from the Senate, where it was introduced by Senator Walker, whose position in the financial world provides a guarantee that it has been carefully drawn. However much honorable members may differ on other matters from that distinguished gentleman, they must admit, on the ground of his high reputation in New South Wales, that any measure of the kind introduced- by him is entitled to serious consideration. The question is, what the effect of this measure will be, so’ far as the public are concerned. Most of the tanks are under charter, and the whole trade and commerce of the Commonwealth, and the daily lives of the people, are affected by their soundness or otherwise. The question is whether the banks, from ihe point of view of the interests of the community, will be more secure under the proposed altered arrangement than they are at present. It is proposed, I understand, to create out of the profits of the banks a trust fund which will be large enough ultimately to meet the uncalled capital of the banks, so that if any crisis should arise, no risk will be run by the shareholders as in the past. The security or insecurity of our banks to-day is an unknown quantity. In saying this I make no reflection on the banks, because, personally, I do not know their real position. Banking is as old as the hills, or, at any rate, as old as modern European civilization ; and I understand that the great principle of banking is that a banker shall not deal in dead securities. Banks are secure only in so far as they deal with live securities ; but there are corporations in Melbourne and all over Australia whose very constitutions and articles of association provide for their dealing in dead securities. Do the banks compete very closely with those corporations, or do they not? That is best known to the banking authorities, and they do not tell us anything; and, therefore, we are in the agnostic position of not knowing. Sometimes there are indications that banks deal in dead securities ; and I am inclined to think, from the very animated way in which certain clauses of the Land Tax Assessment Bill have been discussed, that there are others who share my opinion that dead securities are dealt with. If -such be the case, will this Bill make bank’ directors any more cautious in their business transactions? Under the Bill the trust fund will be fully subscribed; and, so far as the shareholders are concerned, there will be no risk. Wilt such a position have a tendency to rash advances? At present bank directors know that if they commit any errors of judgment the shareholders will suffer; and on this point I must leave honorable members to draw their own conclusions as to whether the proposed amendment in the law will work to the benefit of the general public. I am rather inclined to think that the banks’clients, who include all sections of the community, may suffer; and I ask the honorable member for Illawarra, if he makes any reply, to turn the point of view I have presented over in his mind, and see whether he cannot give us an assurance that there is no such danger. It is not the place of any honorable member of the National Parliament to make reflections in any way calculated to cause uneasiness; but there is another feature of the measure which I do not like. What is the position, so far as the banks are concerned, in relation to their staffs ? ‘ From information given to me in my own State, I understand that not recently, but during the last twenty years, there has been a tendency to increase the salaries of the managers and higher officials of banks, while, at the same time, the claims of the junior or the general staff have been ignored. Bank employes all come within the category of “ gentlemen, ‘ ‘ and they have to maintain a certain social position. But there is the tendency, as I have pointed out, to be utterly indifferent to the claims of the men who are in that position.
– A Wages Board is required, or, at any rate, something to secure an increase in salaries.
– I do not know whether a Wages Board is required, but salaries ought to be increased. I desire to point out to honorable members, who are more familiar with banking directors than I am myself, and who, being of conservative spirit, ignore claims for Wages Boards or reforms of that character, that when a measure of this kind is before us it is only fair that we should have some guarantee that the supposed fund is not to be created by the sweating* of bank employes. In my belief that is the way in which the fund will be created; and honorable members on this side would display a want of common sense, in view of their knowledge of the world, if they did not realize that there is that danger, and that the men affected, by reason of their surroundings, cannot agitate .for their own relief. Bank employes are not like men engaged in many other occupations, who can voice their opinions in spite of their employers ; and I ask honorable members on this side to be very careful in dealing with this Bill unless there is a guarantee of the kind I have suggested. Personally, unless there is . some such guarantee I shall be very cautious in my support of the Bill. I do not think that the real reason for the introduction of the measure has been laid before us. The real object of the Bill, in my belief, is to make bank shares the best gilt-edged securities in Australia ; and I am led to that opinion, because, although this measure is new to me, proposals of the same nature are not new. In my own State of South Australia, the question has been referred to by one or two gentlemen, who point out that there are numbers of persons who have been interested in and associated with banking all their lives, and that there are sections of the public who follow up this class of investment. .If the holder of a great number of bank shares dies, his property is administered by trustees for the benefit of his children; and we know that trustees, while they do not” worry much about men or boys, do worry a good deal about women beneficiaries.! The average man thinks that his sons, if they have any grit in them, will be able to battle for themselves after he has gone; but he is naturally very anxious about his daughters. ‘ It is very essential that an investment which he makes for the benefit of his family on his decease should be guarded as closely as possible, and that, I believe, is the primary reason for the introduction of this measure. When a man desires to make an investment for the benefit of his family, he is anxious to obtain giltedged securities, and he usually invests in Government securities, for they are the soundest that any one can hold. Unfortunately, however, the interest upon them is not as high as that usually obtainable by way of dividends on bank shares, and it seems to me that one of the objects of this measure is to make such a form of investment a gilt-edged security, and equally assound as Government stock. I do not complain of an effort being made in that direction. No one could complain of the action of a man who tried to make his investments as secure as possible for the benefit of those who were to follow him, and all that we need trouble about in this connexion is to guard the interests of the general community. It would have been weir if such reasons as these had been given for the introduction of the measure in another place; but, as a matter of fact, totally different reasons were advanced. One favorable feature of the Bill is that it is merely permissive. We are not asked to enact by it that shareholders of banking companies shall be compelled to create a trust fund. The creation of such a fund will be entirely optional, but I am inclined to think that most of the banking companies will adopt the scheme. In the event of this Bill being passed, and one or two banking companies availing themselves of its provisions, I am confident that others will soon fall into line. I am doubtful, however, whether the public will be more secure under such an arrangement as that for which the Bill provides than they are at present, and my second objection relates to the absence of a guarantee in relation to the staffs. Possibly it would be well if the measure were delayed until the Government proposals with regard to a national bank were submitted. We could then well consider the desirableness of a general amendment of our banking legislation. I do not wish the Opposition to attach to my colleagues any responsibility for my utterances; but I do not hesitate to say that I favour the nationalization of banking. Such a reform cannot be brought about until the public have been educated up to it. That must take some time, and I recognise that it would not be fair for me meanwhile to stand in the way of any reform that can be shown to be in the interests of the public, and calculated to do justice to investors in banking companies and to bank staffs. The nationalization of banking would result in a reversal of present reforms. Nowadays, we are diminishing the purchasing power of our money, and I hold that we cannot increase the purchasing power, as we have a right to do, unless we nationalize banking. The credit of banking is the keystone of the prosperity of the community, and when Governments, both Federal and State, can construct all their works on the turnover of their wages sheet for a week, it is obvious that no private employer will be able to compete against such cheap production. I do not wish my colleagues to-be placarded all over Australia as sharing this opinion. I am quite prepared to take the responsibility for what I am now saying. My opinions are well known in my own State, and if the honorable member for Illawarra will give us some guarantee with regard to the bank staffs, I shall be prepared to allow the Bill to pass with very little opposition.
– I was glad to listen to the speech made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, for I know that he takes a keen interest in questions of this character. I was also pleased to note that his criticism was not entirely antagonistic to the measure, and I should like to answer from my own point of view one or two questions that he has raised. In the first place, I do not think that the honorable member has altogether taken into account the full scope and exact object of the Bill. He mentioned that it proposed to create a fund which would practically cover the liability of shareholders in respect of the uncalled capital of the different banking companies. That is true up to a certain point, but the Bill goes very much further, since it also covers the reserve liability on the shares.
– The reserve on their face value.
– It is a reserve to the full extent of the face value of the shares. The shares of many of our banking companies carry a reserve liability to the full extent of the original capital, and it is designed by this Bill that out of the profits of the different banking institutions there shall be built up a fund sufficient to cover, not only the reserve liability in regard to the actual capital of the banks themselves, but also the reserve liability on the shares which is created by the charters under which our different banking companies are operating. The honorable member put it very fairly that the paramount question for this Parliament to determine is whether or not such a course is for the benefit of the general public. I admit that the great consideration is whether this reserve fund - and as the honorable member pointed out, this is only a permissive power - will operate to the benefit of the public if the banks take advantage of it. I think that it will. I believe that if the banking companies take advantage of this legislation, it will distinctly assist the public of Australia, in time of crisis, such as we experienced in 1892 and 1893. The honorable member for Hindmarsh said that he believed the great reason why this legislation had been introduced wasthat it would’ practically make bank shares a gilt-edged security. He also pointed out that men who thought that there was a possibility of their leaving behind them women folk, who would be dependent, to a great extent, upon outside assistance, naturally looked for a good security in which to invest, so that they would have an assured source of income. In that fact lies the reason for the, introduction of this legislation. Such a procedure has been followed very largely by men all over Australia, with the’ result that the shares of our great banking institutions are very largely held nowadays by women who are absolutely dependent for their livelihood on the dividends derived from them. The result has been rather peculiar. Years ago, when banking shares were held, as a rule, by wealthy men, the reserve liability, if a bank did go into liquidation, was an amount which could, to a very great extent, be collected. But the tendency of late years has been for such shares to pass into the hands, not of wealthy men, but of people who are absolutely dependent upon the dividends derived from them for their subsistence. Consequently, the reserve liability upon these shares, which was supposed to be a guarantee to the public of the solvency of the institution concerned, if it went into liquidation, has, to a great extent, disappeared. Inasmuch as the shares of our great banking institutions have passed to a very great extent from the hands of wealthy men into those of people who are absolutely dependent upon their dividends, the reserve liability upon them, if it should ever be called up, would be found to be practically a negligible quantity. One of the great necessities for this legislation is that, if a banking institution went into liquidation, the reserve liabilty could not, to a great extent, for that reason, be collected. Not only would it ruin those individuals who hold the shares, but the general public, who are widely interested in our banking institutions, would not benefit. The object of the Bill is to enable any institution which likes to take advantage of it to build up out of its profits a fund, exceeding by 10 per cent, the full amount of the uncalled capital and the reserve liability, if any, on the shares. The honorable member for Hindmarsh said that, if we could give some guarantee that the Bill would benefit the public, and that the bank clerks would not lose by it, he’ would be almost prepared to support it. It is practically impossible for any one here to give a guarantee as to what the directors of the banks would do regarding the staffs. If it is desired that throughout Australia the staffs shall share to a greater extent than at present in the profits derived by the banks in the course of their business, that must be secured by legislation of an entirely different character. Even if we do not pass this Bill, it will not affect the position of the staffs of the banks, nor if we do pass it do I see that it will affect them. I admit that, in many cases, the remuneration of these men is not as much as it ought to be. I do not say that that is absolutely a general rule, but cases have come under my notice, as an old banker, in which I do not think that the employe’ has had altogether a fair deal. I think something might be done in that direction, and I should not oppose legislation designed te* give a fair living wage to any man in Australia.
– Did the honorable member leave the bank because the wages were so small?
– I left entirely on account of my health, but I never regretted the day that I left the bank. It is, however, only fair to the banking institution, with which I was connected to say that it treated me very well, and that I have nothing whatever to complain of. I do not see how this legislation can affect that matter. We cannot incorporate in the Bill legislation dealing with the working conditions of, or wages paid to, the banking staffs. This fund can be built up only by the express will of the shareholders,, who will, at their periodical meetings, decide whether they are prepared or not toput aside a particular amount for the building up of the fund out of the total profit which the bank has made. Under theBill there are two other sources upon whicli it is permissible to draw for the fund. One is the premium on shares which maybe issued during the life time of the bank. It is perfectly fair that, on a new share being issued, any premium paid to the bank shall immediately go to the fund, because the new share would be protected to the full extent of the old share.
– And the liability of the bank would be increased as well.
– The liability of the shareholders would be increased to the fullextent of the new share. The other sourcefrom which the banks can draw is the recovery of bad debts. When a bank finds itnecessary to write off a bad debt, it must be written off out of profits. Consequently,, if a bank recovers a bad debt, which occasionally happens, and that goes into its profits, it is perfectly legitimate to draw upon it for this fund in whatever percentage the shareholders regard as just and equitable in the circumstances. I commend’ the Bill to the House as one which I feel sure will assist the public in any time of crisis, because it will to a great extent prevent the fall of share values. In any timeof panic nothing intensifies the trouble so much as the fall in the values of the shares of the different financial institutions, and that fall is to a great extent caused by the recognition on the part of the shareholdersof their liability under the reserve liabilities on the shares. During the great panic in Australia the shares of our banks fell 4o an alarming extent, and that fall only intensified the panic. If the shareholders know that there is a reserve behind them, which they have built up themselves out of their own profits, to the full extent of “their liability, the causes of panic will be greatly mitigated, and the people will have an absolute assurance that, if any of the banking institutions do go into liquidation, the full amount is available to meet the whole of the reserve liability on their shares.
.- This is a Bill the potentialities of which very few men, even those with banking experience, like the honorable member for Richmond, can foretell. I can hardly estimate them, and I am sure that if the strenuous times through which we are passing permitted honorable members even to read through the debates that have taken place, in the other House, they would view ihe Bill with a certain amount of trepidation. I was once, as a unit of the Labour party, taken greatly to task by a bank manager in this community. Criticising the White Australian policy, he asked why we kept people out of Australia, and instanced the Chinese. I told him, in reply, that, if Chinese bankers and banking methods were introduced here also, I might not object to the others coming, because, as I pointed out to him, the Chinese law provides that when a bank fails the directors and managers shall be decapitated. My friend the banker, who had passed through the “ boom “ crisis here, did not appreciate the suggestion, and the rest of the conversation was postponed to a future date. There is no doubt that the moneys of the reserves are not placed properly. When the crash came, where were the reserves? It was not only poor people who suffered. As one who has had seven years’ banking experience, let me tell the honorable member for Richmond that the vast majority of those who own shares in banks belong to the middle-class and the well-to-do. I do not know a working man in my constituency who owns bank shares, especially when he has to pay £10 or £15 each for them. It was not the workers who made a boom in banking shares and ran the prices up to fabulous amounts, but it is the workers who are always robbed when a crisis comes. As an old bank clerk, loving my first employer, as I suppose it is in my nature to be loyal, I have no personal complaint to make of my treatment. Honorable members might be astonished to know that after four months of real hard work, for which I did not get a penny a week, I was informed that if I lined up at the counter before 10 o’clock in the morning I could draw £4 3s. 4d. I was so impressed by the dignity of banking I could not help feeling that I had not earned the money, and did not deserve it. I even got into trouble for not calling for that allowance. The late Mr. James, hovever, told me that if I kept him back in his work, by failing to draw my cheque, he would report me.. Needless to say, I was never threatened with a report afterwards. What became of the reserves of all the banking institutions in the crisis? They vanished like die thinnest tissue paper cast into a furnace. That was our system of banking. I protest against giving any body of shareholders .power to remove a trustee. Seeing that it is the money of the people that is at stake, the trustees of the financial institutions should be appointed by Parliament or by the Government, and should not be removable at the whim of any combine of bank directors or coterie of .banks. If the Bill goes into Committee, I propose to move that the trustees shall be appointed by the Governor-General in Council, which will prevent any particular nominee being made a trustee. We see to-day in Melbourne the mighty Commercial Bank with another bank, called the Trustees Company, inside of it. Mr. Joske is the manager of the latter, and its city address is the Commercial Bank. This company has so little bowels of compassion that it is trying to grab ^12,000 left to the charities of Melbourne. It is not content to accept what it would willingly have accepted at one time, and if a Committee is appointed by this or the State Parliament to investigate its affairs, it will be found that this bank within a bank is trading under false colours. Honorable members must be aware that persons unfit to be trustees have been kept in office, though known to be unfit, because men possessing capital could make money by keeping them in their positions. The history of the frauds perpetrated during the banking crisis has been written in the blood of human beings. Thank goodness, this Government, by its note issue legislation, will remove the power of these banks.
– Wait until the Commonwealth bank is established.
– A Commonwealth bank must come. Although for a time the public may view with suspicion even the Commonwealth bank notes, when they have had experience of them, and their advantages have been thundered from the platforms, the voice of our Australian Democracy will demand such a Banking Act that there will be no need for legislation such as that now before us. I had seven years’ experience in banking, and do not wish to injure the existing banks, but I believe in the nationalization of banking. Without desiring to submit the bankers to the terrible ordeal which Chinese bankers sometimes have to face, I would make it impossible for them to turn insolvent. The reserves of a bank should be so placed that the bank could not touch them. Sometimes a clever manager deceives his directors, the average director knowing so little of banking that he is ready to follow the suggestions of the manager. My friends on this side know that secretaries are often the principal men in the unions, because they ‘ understand thoroughly the business in hand, and can furnish explanations so easily that it is found convenient to adopt their suggestions. So it is with bank managers. We know that in time of trouble the reserve funds of banks disappear like smoke, whereas had they been invested in Government stock, they would not even have depreciated. Twenty years ago I made the proposal in this Chamber, having seen that a certain fire insurance company was paying dividends up to 50 and 60 per cent., that the Government should bring in a Bill to prevent any company from declaring dividends of more than 10 per cent., its surplus profits to be divided into two moieties, one going to the State, and the other to a reserve fund, to be controlled by the State. The proposal was received with jeers and laughter, but after the debacle those who had suffered told me that they were sorry that my suggestion had not been carried into effect. No railway company in Great Britain can declare a dividend higher than a certain rate without being compelled to reduce its fares and charges. The railway companies there offer four classes of accommodation, a traveller being able to purchase a first, second, third, and parliamentary ticket. In Norway certain companies may not declare dividends exceeding 5 per cent., and the same principle is applied in other parts of the world. I strongly object to the Bill being passed as it is. .Trustees appointed by the Governor-General in Coun- cil would be beyond reproach, but even in New South Wales there have been private trustees at whom the finger of scorn could be pointed with justification. L do not blame the horrors of the boom upon the banking system. There were weak links, and they failed. There were magnificent resources on paper.
– The reserves established under the Bill will be real reserves, not paper ones.
– The reserves of which I speak were invested in the business of the banks, and disappeared when needed.
– The reserves created under the Bill must be invested in Government -securities.
– My .point is that they should .be controlled by trustees appointed by the Governor-General in Council.
– I shall have to consider that proposal.
– Legal minds alwaysmistrust Governments, though the good old book has much’ to say against lawyers. However, as the time appointed for private business is drawing to a close, I ask leave to resume my speech on another occasion.
– I object.
– I understand that ire the New South Wales banking legislation there are provisions preventing the banks from calling up capital which is looked upon as security for those who have deposited their savings in the institutions. Does the honorable gentleman wish to remove that safeguard ?
– I wish to explain my attitude in referenceto the Bill. Undoubtedly the object of the measure is to anticipate legislation regarding banking to be put forward by the Labour party. Its promoters have knownever since the crisis which occurred seventeen years ago that there was need for aralteration in banking legislation. That crisis was due to the avarice of those whowere controlling our monetary institutions, but they have never since done anythingto prevent the recurrence of the evils which then did such harm to the community. Now it is proposed to create reserve funds for the benefit of depositors, but when the Bill is examined, it is seen that these reserves are to be established, not for the benefit of the depositors, but to protect the shareholders in times of crisis. This trust fund, which is for the protection of shareholders who have been drawing huge dividends for years, is to be taken out of profits that should properly be devoted to the reduction of interest, or to increasing the remuneration of employes. I am against this sham legislation.
– The time for private members’ business has expired.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the Australian Industries Preservation Act 1906-1909.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 5th October, vide page 416 1):
Clause 62 -
In any case where it is shown to the satisfaction of the Commissioner that a. taxpayer liable to pay land tax has become bankrupt or insolvent, or has suffered such a loss that the exaction of the full amount of tax will entail serious hardship, the Commissioner may release such taxpayer wholly or in part from his liability, and make such entries and alterations in the assessment roll as are necessary for that purpose.
. -I move-
That the words “ the Commissioner,” line 6, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ a Board consisting of the Commissioner, the Secretary to the Treasury, and the Comptroller-General of Customs.”
The honorable member for Ballarat and the honorable member for Flinders expressed the opinion that it was dangerous to vest such excessive powers in any one man, and, therefore, the Government have chosen the two senior permanent heads of the service as members of a Board, of which the Commissioner will be the chairman, and the majority of which will decide. The merits and the scope of the clause depend on its interpretation by the Commissioner, and it is hardly likely that the Court will be, or can be, called upon to interpret or construe its meaning. The clause applies to all cases of genuine hardship, where the taxpayer is more or less the passive agent who has been overtaken by misfortune ; and it is very obvious that we cannot permit any or every kind of inability to pay to come before such a Board.. It would not be wise to enlarge the scope of the clause, which I may say has been taken bodily from the New Zealand Act. I am not aware to what extent that section has been used in the Dominion, but we are continually reminded that the circumstances of Australia are quite different; and, therefore, I hope the amendment will be agreed to.
.- I think that the suggestion made by the honorable member for Ballarat and the honorable member for Flinders has borne good fruit in the amendment now submitted. At the same time, I personally would prefer to. see the clause excised ; at any rate, the only part which, in my opinion, ought to be retained is that referring to release where a man has become bankrupt or insolvent. Such a man is still liable for Crown debts, and it would be only fair to give the Commissioner power to release; but it is most dangerous in a Bill of this sort to allow any person or Board to have the power to inquire into what may be asserted to be cases of hardship. If a man cannot pay, there is no more about it - insolvency is the test. Insolvency under the clause need not mean statutory insolvency, but merely absolute inability to pay. If the clause be any wider it may lead to influences we desire to avoid. I had intended to suggest that any release should be with the approval of the Minister, who should, as soon as may be after the end of each financial year, lay before Parliament a full statement of the cases heard, and the grounds on which liability had been released.
– Subject to the verbiage of the suggestion, I have no objection to it.
.- Whatever weight there may be in the objection raised by the honorable member for Angas, I welcome with satisfaction the safeguard offered by the addition of two independent Commissioners. No doubt the amendment does impose a serious burden on two already overtaxed officers; but I assume this has been considered by the Government, and have no desire to “ look a gift horse in the mouth.” I do not suggest that there is any possibility of disqualification on the part of those officers, except that their time is now already fully occupied. Subject to that, the amendment appears to me to be a very great improvement.
– Could the honorable member suggest any other officers; I suggested those two because I thought they would please the honorable member.
– I am entirely satisfied from my own point of view, nor could I name any other officers of sufficient standing and leisure to undertake the duties. As a matter of fact, all our chief officers are fully worked, and some are overworked, particularly the principal officers of those Departments.
– Both of these officers are acting in quasi-judicial positions already.
– I am aware of that fact. The point is, however, that for the first year or two there may be a great many of these applications, and no doubt should that prove to be the case, the Government will consider the reconstruction of the Board. I do not take the sternly Spartan legal view of the honorable member for Angas in regard to cases of bankruptcy or insolvency ; on the contrary, the only question I would raise in that regard is as to the words “ suffered such a loss,” which might be construed as pointing to some class of cases to be hereafter strictly defined, outside which class no release could be given. However, I do not wish to scrutinize the clause too closely, because I assume that the words are wide enough to cover one of the most familiar, and, yet, one of the gravest, occasions of loss, namely, drought.
– I think the words most emphatically do that.
– In Victoria bush fires, floods, and droughts are named.
– I take it that all these and kindred ills are covered.
– They are intended to be covered, anyhow.
– That is a great advantage. Although I am not for a moment denying that a great deal is to be said for the view taken by the honorable member for Angas, I am content to err on the side of charity. We owe consideration to all special emergencies and disasters which appeal to us all. These ought to appeal to us since, in the natural order of events, great hardships must occur in many cases, involving the temporary, if not the permanent, ruinof ourfarmersorsettlers. It is agreatadvantage that their cases shouldbe provided for ; but if men less arduously occupied than the Secretary to the Treasury, and the Comptroller-General of Customs, could have been found to do this work for a year or two, it would have been an advantage. It would then have been possible for these questions to be disposed of, not only justly, but rapidly. Time is often the essence of the contract in such cases, and if men of greater leisure, as well as equal standing, could have been secured, a marked improvement would have been made in this clause.
– I do not think that the clause will be of any great service to a man who is bankrupt or insolvent. A remission made to a taxpayer so situated would inure to the benefit of his creditors, and not to himself. Such a remission would not enable him to make a fresh start. If this clause provided that, in the case of a man who had become insolvent, the tax payable should be made available to enable him to make a fresh start in life, there would be some justification for it; but, under the clause as it stands, no very great concession will be made.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to-
That after the word “ and,” line8, the words “ the Commissioner may “ be inserted.
That the following new sub-clauses be added : “ (2) The Commissioner shall be the Chair man of the Board, and the decision of the majority shall prevail.” “ (3). The Minister shall cause to be laid before both Houses of Parliament as soon as may be after the close of the financial year a full statement of all cases in which, and the grounds on which, liability has been so released.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 63 agreed to.
Clause 64 -
Any person who -
fails or neglects to duly furnish any return as and when required by this Act….. ; or
refuses or neglects to duly attend and give evidence when required by the Commissioner….. shall be guilty of an offence.
Penalty : One hundred pounds.
.- Paragraph a of clause 64, which provides that a man shall be liable to a fine not exceeding . £100 for not making a return on the precise day on which it is required is rather severe, but I recognise that a similar provision appears in several Acts of Parliament. The only point is that, under this Bill, a return will be required every year, whereas under the South Australian Act, it was asked for on only one occasion. Thereafter the Commissioner himself made the assessment. Coming to paragraph b, I think it would be well to insert at the beginning of it the words, “ without just cause shown by him,” so that the clause would provide that any person who, “ without just cause shown by him,” refused or neglected to give evidence should be liable, and so forth. There seems to be no provision made for payment of the expenses of witnesses. It is rather arbitrary that the Commissioner should have power to summon a man to give evidence before him, although he may not be a taxpayer, and that the man should not be entitled to say that he is unable to attend, owing to some just cause. A man might be unable to attend before the Commissioner because of inability to pay the expenses of attendance. The AttorneyGeneral mentioned last night that no provision is made for the payment of the expenses of witnesses under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, but, at the time, objection was taken to the omission. I move -
That the words” without just cause shown by him,” be inserted before the word “ refuses,” paragraphb.
– Very well ; that is fair.
.- I am glad that the Attorney-General has consented to an amendment to protect a witness, who has not been paid his expenses. I intended to move the insertion of the words, “ after being tendered a reasonable sum for his expenses, ‘ ‘ but the amendment just moved by the honorable member for Angas will overcome the difficulty. A witness without means who has not been paid his expenses will have to inform the Commissioner by letter that he has not the means to enable him to appear before him. It is highly necessary that some such amendment as this should be made. When we were dealing with the clause giving the Commissioner power to summon witnesses, this objection was taken, and, as the honorable member for Angas has pointed out, the power to summon does not relate merely to taxpayers. The Commissioner may require a bookkeeper or some other employe of a taxpayer living in a remote part of a State to appear before him, and he may find it impossible to attend unless he is paid reasonable expenses.
– I would draw the attention of the Attorney - General to section 105 of the New Zealand Act, under which power is given to make regulations prescribing the scale of expenses for witnesses, and would urge him, when we are dealing later on with the provision relating to the making of regulations, to provide for a similar power.
.- Under this clause any person who wilfully makes a false return affecting his own or any other person’s liability to, or exemption from, assessment of land tax, will be liable to a penalty not exceeding , £100. I should like to ask the Attorney-General why, if such a penalty is considered sufficient punishment for so heinous an offence, it should have been thought necessary, under clause 44, to provide for the forfeiture of a man’s land, if the Commissioner is not satisfied with the taxpayer’s valuation of it, and notwithstanding that the valuation may be perfectly bonâ fide so far as the taxpayer himself is concerned. The penalty in this case shows that that for which clause 44 provides is beyond all reason, and I hope that the AttorneyGeneral will keep in mind this comparison when he is submitting the further amendment of which he has given notice.
.- There is a possibility of hardship occurring under this clause, and it can be obviated only by a prior amendment. Sixty days are allowed from the time of notification until the return is made, but there are some parts of Australia where communication by post is delayed for months. I would suggest that, in order to overcome the difficulty, the words “ where possible “ should be inserted after the word “ furnish,” line 2.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Sinclair) negatived -
That after the word “ furnish,” line 2, the words “ where possible “ be inserted.
Amendment (by Mr. Glynn) agreed to -
That before the word “ refuses,” paragraph b, the words “ without just cause shown by him “ be inserted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 65 - (1.) Any person who, with intent to defraud, in any return understates the unimproved value of any land, shall be guilty of an offence.
Penalty : Five hundred pounds, and in addition thereto an amount equal to treble the amount of tax which would have been evaded if the value stated in the return had been accepted as the unimproved value of the land. (2.) Where the value stated in the return is less, by twenty-five per centum or more, than the value as assessed by the Commissioner, the value shall be deemed to have been understated with intent to defraud until the contrary is proved.
– I propose to amend this clause in several particulars. I shall move to insert the word “indictable” before the word “offence” in sub-clause1, and to make the penalty read as follows -
Penalty : Five hundred pounds, and an amount equal to treble the amount of tax which would have been evaded if the value stated in the return had been accepted as the unimproved value of the land, or forfeiture of the land undervalued, or any part thereof.
That gives an alternative. I shall also move to amend sub-clause 2, which deals with the onusprobandi, as indicated by the Prime Minister, so as to make it read as follows -
Where the value stated in the return is less by 25 per centum or more than the value found by the jury the value shall be presumed in the absence of evidence to the contrary to have been understated with intent to defraud.
I shall be glad if the Committee will follow those amendments so that they may understand the shape in which the clause is to appear. It will now, I think, take an unexceptionable form, and meet many of the objections previously raised against it. I do not suppose or hope that it will meet the objections of some honorable members, but even if the clause got down on its belly and crawled along they would still say that it was holding its head too high. I trust, however, that it will meet with the general approval of all reasonable beings, of whom, I am sure, there is an overwhelming majority in this Chamber. A number of things will have to happen before any of our unfortunate fellowcitizens can get into trouble under it. They must gobefore a jury of their fellowcountrymen. Their fellow-countrymen must find out one thing in particular - that there has been, in fact, an undervaluation of 25 per cent, or more. That is to say, instead of the Commissioner assessing the value, it is the jury that will have to assess it. Of course, the jury, in respect of this matter, will, like other juries, have to find the facts from the evidence put before them. Part of that evidence will, of course, be the evidence of the Commissioner himself, and the evidence of witnesses called either by the Commissioner or the taxpayer. On that the jury will have to find whether, as a fact, there has been undervaluation to the extent of 25 per cent, or more. If there is no evidence to the contrary, the onus is on the taxpayer to show that there has been no fraud. That is a perfectly fair proposition. It even appears to place the Commissioner and the Commonwealth in some respects at a disadvantage, but I emphatically say that no man can complain if under this clause he gets into trouble, because the clause does all it can to get him out. If, he persists in being unable to convince the jury, and in being unable to produce a shred of evidence, I think it is about time something happened.
– Not the way the honorable member wants it. Surely the possession of property ought not to subject a man to being put in the dock ?
– I do not know about property-owners. I suppose, after all, the world is divided into sinners and saints, irrespective of whether they have crowns of gold or hobnailed boots, and that if you yarded-in all the persons that came up to the top of Bourke-street you would get at least fifty-one rich men in every hundred sinners. The mere fact that they have property raises a curious presumption as to where they got it. As in the case of a man found on premises with articles for which he is unable to account, the onus is on him to explain how he got them. This clause will provide, in the clearest possible way, that the taxpayer shall be first of all asked to give a fair and truthful valuation of his land.
– Does the honorable member expect every owner to be an expert valuer ?
– The honorable member is not trying to see what is right in this matter; he is only trying to find a way to get round the clause. I am sorry for that, because I thought the honorable member would have appreciated it in its new form. One of the chief reasons for amending it was to insure that those gentlemen who criticised it in its former shape would cease to do so; but it seems to have been labour in vain. The only case in which there is a presumption of fraud resting on the taxpayer is when the jury have found, as a fact, that there has been an undervaluation of 25 per cent, or more; and when, secondly, the taxpayer is unable to rebut that presumption by any evidence to the contrary. If both those conditions are absent, the onus is on the prosecution, as usual, to establish the charge. If, however, they are both made out, the onus is on the taxpayer, but not otherwise. As I understand the honorable member for
Angas has an amendment to move prior to mine, I shall give him the opportunity.
– I confess I am still one of those unreasonable persons who think this clause ought to be excised altogether.
– Where did they get it from?
– I do not know where the draftsman obtained it; and I have read the history of criminal legislation. It is pointed out in Alison’s History of Europe that as penalties go down- crimes decrease. That is the whole history of criminal law ; but we seem to be going back almost to the Middle Ages to find penalties for imaginary crimes.
– This is humanitarian legislation !
– This comes of an attempt to meet the Opposition.
– I must ask honorable members to discontinue interjecting and conversing across the chamber.
– According to Alison, when you increase penalties to make your remedial jurisdiction effective, crime increases, because men are driven to desperation. I think the draftsman must have looked into earlier legislation to find penalties to make this law effective, and, in doing so, made a mistake. It is unfortunate that, from start . to finish, the draftsman has been blundering on the very verge of constitutionality. As this clause, and clause 67, stand in the Bill, they are probably ultra vires, altogether apart from the question whether forfeiture is a proper remedy to apply ; the High Court may say that it goes beyond the bounds of necessity, and therefore beyond our powers. The fact that the judicial office, as the clause stands, is transferred from the Court to the Executive destroys the validity of these clauses. An alternative to the penalty mentioned in the clause as it stands is a declaration of forfeiture. The forfeiture is to be declared, not by the Court, but by the Executive; and as it is part of the penalties, the Bill clearly vests judicial powers in the Executive. Were it not for the amendment of the AttorneyGeneral, the forfeiture clauses would be clearly unconstitutional. As we proceed, other errors of law are seen. It is provided, in the second sub-clause, that where a valuation is less by 25 per cent, or more than the assessment of the Commissioner, it shall be deemed to have been understated with intent to defraud. The
Commissioner is one of the litigants, and the Attorney-General, seeing the unfairness of his position, wishes to make it read, “ as found by the jury.” After the jury has delivered its verdict on the action of the alleged criminal, he is to be put on his defence. This reminds me of a case in which one of my countrymen asked the Judge, in common fairness to him as an honest man, to postpone his verdict until the facts of the case had been forgotten. The Attorney-General proposes to postpone the defence until the verdict has been returned. I shall not labour the subject, because we desire to finish the Committeeconsideration of the Bill by half-past 6V if possible ; but I appeal to honorable members opposite, if they desire to save the measure, to leave out a clause of such doubtful, legal import. A better way to accomplish what the AttorneyGeneral wishes to do - I make the suggestion with a view to improving the clause before striking it out altogether - would be to insert after “ understates “ the words “by 25 per cent, or more.” We have already provided in an earlier clause that there must be an error of 25 per cent, before there is to be any presumption for rebuttal ; and where a man may be charged with an indictable offence there should b* a substantial difference between his valuation and the assessment of the Commissioner. I therefore move -
That after the word “ understates,” line a, the words “ by 25 per centum or more “ be inserted.
We ought also to strike out sub-clause 2, so as to put the burden of proof on the Government. In further support of what I have said as to the peculiar legal provisions of this measure, let me point out that the penalty for an indictable offence is only a fine. Generally the serious crimes which are treated as indictable offences and sent before juries carry penalties of imprisonment. We were told, during the second-reading debate, that juries would try the questions arising under these clauses, and. I pointed out that the offences provided against are not indictable offences. Now they have been made indictable offences. The Constitution says that an indictable offence must be tried by ‘a jury; but it is not necessary, in order to provide that an offence must be tried by a jury, to make it an indictable offence. This proposal reminds me of Charles Lamb’s essay about the Chinaman who burnt down his house to roast a pig.
.- I hope that the Attorney-General will accept the amendment; and will also agree to the omission of sub-clause 2. Clause 69 provides that, whoever aids, abets, counsels, or procures, by any act or omission, or is knowingly concerned in the commission of an offence, shall be deemed to have committed it, and shall be punishable accordingly. Therefore, all concerned as legal advisers, valuators, or in other ways, in the making of a valuation which is 25 per cent. below the Commissioner’s assessment, may be put on their trial in the manner provided for by this clause. The honorable member for Angas . has pointed out that a person put on his trial for undervaluation is presumed to have undervalued with intent.
– Only in the absence of evidence to the contrary.
– The fact that a valuation is 25 per cent. below the Commissioner’s assessment changes the onus of proof of intent from the Crown to the person charged. Presumably, this provision is based upon that in the Customs Act - section 255 of which enacts that -
In every Customs prosecution the averment of the prosecutor or plaintiff contained in the information, declaration, or claim, shall be deemed to be proved in the absence of proof to the contrary, but so that -
when an intent to defraud the revenue is charged the averment shall not be deemed sufficient to prove the intent, and
in all proceedings for an indictable offence or for an offence directly punishable by imprisonment, the guilt of the defendant must be established by evidence.
Where an indictable offence is charged under that Act, the guilt of the defendant must be established by evidence, intent having to be proved by the Crown. That should be the provision in this Bill. The value of land is purely a matter of opinion ; but if a yaluation is 25 per cent. under the assessment, the onus of proof of intent to defraud is shifted from the Crown to the defendant. Yet it is the general . practice in criminal cases that the person charged shall have the benefit of any doubt. I cannot find any precedent for this provision in the New Zealand law or in the law of the States.
– The onus of proof is on the publican under the New South Wales Liquor Act. Is not the principle the same here?
– No. I do not defend wrongdoing. Any person who attempts to defraud should be punished ; but when a per son is charged with a serious crime, carrying with it such a penalty as the forfeiture of his land, the onus of proof of guilt should be on the Crown. As to the constitutionality of the provision, that is for the Attorney-General to decide for himself. He knows the . serious consequences of putting unconstitutional clauses into a measure such as this.
– Clearly the onus is thrown on the taxpayer only where the valuation is 25 per cent., or more, under. The honorable member now suggests that, whether a man undervalues wilfully or otherwise, if he did not undervalue to the extent of 25 per cent, or more, he ought not to be punished, and, in my opinion, that would be a most infamous state of things. The honorable member for Darling Downs, on the other hand, has just declared that if a man deliberately attempts to defraud, he ought to be punished; and the suggestion of the honorable member for Angas discloses quite a new morality. Hitherto a man might not steal in small quantities, but only in large quantities, and now it is proposed to reverse that. A man if he fraudulently undervalues to the extent of10 per cent., though his estate he worth £1,000,000, and a serious loss of revenue is caused thereby, is not to be punished.
– Such a man can be charged under clause 66, but I wish to prevent forfeiture.
– I submit that the Committee ought not to accept the amendment, which practically amounts to an encouragement of undervaluation to the extent of 24 per cent. The honorable member for Darling Downs contends that the taxpayer will be practically branded as a criminal because of this clause.
– I said that the clause throws on him the responsibility of establishing his innocence.
– I submit that the honorable member is in error. The amendment of the honorable member for Angas seeks to provide that, unless a man undervalues to the extent of 25 per cent, or more, the onus shall not be placed on him. If a man be arrested for larceny, he may be remanded from time to time, but no one sets up a pitiful wail about that. Here we have a case in which a man has been found by a jury of his fellow countrymen to have undervalued his estate to the extent of 25 per cent., and he has no shred of evidence to the contrary. What doubt remains?
– The honorable member for Angas asked at what stage would the taxpayer know the jury had found that the undervaluation was 25 per cent, or over.
– Before this clause can apply it must be established, as a condition precedent, that the taxpayer has undervalued his estate 25 per cent, or more ; and, to that end, the preliminary proceeding will be in the nature of an assessment. The onus on the taxpayer is only to prove that there is no fraud, and, therefore, the proceedings may go on without interruption. This clause does not deal with undervaluation per se, but only with undervaluation with intent to defraud, and only when undervaluation with intent his been established does the penalty follow. The fact that the jury finds undervaluation to the extent of, say, 50 per cent., only throws on the taxpayer the onus of proving that he undervalued legitimately, and a man who has no reason to offer must be in a bad way. He has not to offer conclusive proof, but only sufficient to shift the onus from his shoulders to the Crown. Every member of the legal profession knows that, especially in civil cases, the onus may shift from side to side in the course of a trial.
– Did the honorable member ever hear of a criminal case where a jury found two verdicts in the course of a trial ?
– The question involved is quite apart from the merits of the case. There is nothing to prevent a jury finding half-a-dozen verdicts ; the question is whether there is any injustice to the taxpayer. It is a common practice for a Judge to ask half-a-dozen questions of a jury.
– But those questions are put at the close of the evider.es.
– That is perfectly true, but -there is nothing to prevent the questions being put in the middle. In a valuation case, what is there to prevent a jury saying that they are satisfied there has been undervaluation, and the case going on? All these issues are beside the point, which is : Does this or does it not place the taxpayer in an unfair position? I submit that it does not ; and all we have to see is that every party, including the Crown, gets a fair deal.
– Is there any precedent for such a clause in a Land Tax Bill ?
– In the Merchandise Marks Act and the Customs Act of Great Britain such provisions are established principles.
– Not in indictable cases under our Customs Act.
– I am talking of the British Acts. Does the honorable member for Darling Downs mean to say that clause 65 is a negation ot clause 255 in our Customs Act?
– The clause in the Customs Act is not a precedent.
– If an honest taxpayer, who has undervalued, explains that similar land next door was so valued, or that he gave a price representing the valuation put in, that would be sufficient evidence to throw on the Crown the onus of establishing its charge.
.- The Attorney-General has said that he desires to give taxpayers under this Bill a fair deal. We have to take him at his word, and I ask him to consider seriously whether they, will have a fair deal under this clause. The honorable member for Avgas proposes that the undervaluation complained of shall be, at least, 25 per cent., but the Attorney-General holds that such an amendment would be unreasonable, since it would exempt a man who had undervalued his land to a smaller extent, but with the actual desire of defrauding the revenue. I take it that the object which the honorable member for Angas has in view is to provide that the undervaluation shall be a substantial one. The AttorneyGeneral does not seem to appreciate the fact that land values fluctuate to a remarkable degree, more particularly in districts far removed from settlement. The honorable member for Maranoa has pointed out that at the end of a drought land is worth next to nothing, and that twelve months later, after a good season, its) value may increase by 100 per cent. I wish to impress that fact on the mind of the Minister in charge of the Bill. Another point which I do not think he realizes is that land-owners, as a class, are far removed from centres of population, and are, on the -whole, simple-minded men. At all events, they are not so well versed in the law as is the Attorney-General. The position would be different if this clause related to men with an intimate knowledge of the law, but I have no hesitation in saying that, for the most part, land-owners will experience the greatest difficulty in making valuations. As a class, they are as honest as any other section of the community, and will be desirous of making honest valuations.
– Does the honorable member think that they will make many mistakes in the direction of overestimating the value of their property?
– I believe that they will do their best to make a proper valuation, but they will find the task very difficult. Although I have followed very carefully the debate on this Bill, I find myself quite- unable to say with any degree of certainty what improvements may be deducted in determining the unimproved value of a block of land. I do not know that it is clear that a reduction may be made in respect of the cost of scrubbing, ringbarking, and so forth; and the average land-owner will find himself sorely puzzled in preparing his return. Under this clause, men and women may undervalue their property without any intention of defrauding the revenue, and, because of that undervaluation, may find themselves in the dock. They will be subjected to what, in the opinion of the average man or woman, is an absolute outrage. I have no sympathy for a guilty man, but I do not think it fair to put a man in the dock, and to place him on his trial, on the mere supposition that he is guilty.
– He cannot be found guilty if he has evidence to prove his innocence.
– Under this clause, a man may be subjected to the indignity of being placed in the dock before he can bring to bear satisfactory evidence to prove his innocence. This is a most extraordinary provision, and, taken in conjunction with the clause providing for forfeiture of land in the case of wilful undervaluation, is positively dreadful. Treason is the only other offence for which a man in the British Dominions may be stripped of his possessions. At one time, a murderer on conviction was deprived of his possessions, but nowadays treason is the only offence in respect of which such punishment may be meted out. With my knowledge of land values, I have no hesitation in saying that, notwithstanding that a jury might consider that a man had committed an offence under this clause, the undervaluation might be quite unintentional. The clause will cause terror to the landowners, because of the knowledge that if they inadvertently undervalue their pro perty they may be stripped of their possessions and placed in a criminal dock. The amendments proposed by the Attorney - General will make the clause worse than it was. I feel strongly on this question, but we are in the hands of the Government, and I can do no more than enter my protest.
.- It is plain that this drastic penal legislation is without precedent in any other Land Tax Act of which we have knowledge. There is no mention in the marginal notes that it has been taken from any other measure, and I know of no Act from which the penal clauses relating to forfeiture and onus of proof could have been taken.
– What about the forfeiture of goods?
– The honorable member refers to a provision in the Customs Act. My contention is that there is no precedent for this legislation in any Land Tax Act. The Attorney-General has scarcely stated fairly the object which the honorable member for Angas has in view in submitting his amendment, and which is really to define the offence of an undervaluation with intent to defraud. If the amendment be agreed to, it will define in concrete form the offence which the Crown will have to prove in order to launch a case before a jury. In other words, it will make an undervaluation by at least 25 per cent, the test and standard of an intent to defraud. The same test and standard is to be found in sub-clause 2 of clause 65, which provides that -
Where the value stated in the return is less, by 25 per centum or more, than the value as assessed by the Commissioner, the value shall be deemed to have been understated with intent to defraud until the contrary is proved.
Therefore, according to the Bill as submitted by the Government, in order to sustain a charge of intent to defraud there must be an undervaluation to the extent of, at least, 25 per cent., and the honorable member for Angas simply requires that it shall be stated in the indictment that there has been an undervaluation to that extent with intent to defraud. It is evident that the Government did not intend to make an undervaluation of 2, 3, or even 10 per cent, an offence punishable by these drastic penalties. According to the Government’s own proposal, there seems to have been some margin provided for, and in dealing with the valuation of land it is only just that some margin should be allowed for a difference of opinion. It is unfair to compare the valuation of land, as dealt with under this taxation scheme, with the value of goods as referred to in the Customs Act. The valuation of goods as dealt with under the Customs Act relates to transactions of which there are written records, probably in the possession of the owner or obtainable from certain warehouses.
– A record is to be found at the port of export or the port of entry, and it seems to me to be easier to trace the value of goods there than it is to determine the value of land, which, after all, may depend upon the opinion of valuators whose views may differ. This deals with a special class of offence, and, even if the amendment be carried, there will still be abundant provision under clause 66 for the punishment of any person who, by wilful act, default, or intent, evades or attempts to evade assessment or taxation. The honorable member for Angas merely proposes to throw the onus of proof upon the Crown at the beginning of the prosecution. It seems most absurd to provide that there shall be two stages of the prosecution, the first requiring the Crown to establish an undervaluation of 25 per cent., and the second, when that has been proved, throwing the onus of proof on the defendant. It is best to throw the onus of proof on the Crown throughout, especially in a case involving criminal elements, as under this clause. A case of undervaluation cannot be compared with the cases of stealing mentioned by the Attorney General. In the latter case, you are dealing with concrete acts or omissions of a tangible character that can be ascertained and proved. Where, however, you are dealing with a matter of opinion, it is hard to fasten criminal intent on any person. It would be very hard to establish a criminal liability for matters involving merely a difference of opinion, without that difference of opinion having actually resulted in defrauding the revenue.
– The Attorney-General has repeatedly justified this and similar provisions by referring to the Customs Act, and it has just as frequently been pointed out to him that there is no similarity between Customs fraud and the undervaluation for assessment purposes of land under this Act. The Minister of Customs knows very well that there is almost as much difference between the two cases as between daylight and dark. It is impossible in Customs transactions to get at the real facts of the case where the Customs House is situated, because they can be ascertained only at the port of shipment. It is, therefore, necessary, in order to guard against fraud through the Customs, to throw the onus of proof of innocence upon the importer. The case of land valuation is entirely different, because the land is here, and all the evidence can be obtained close at hand. There is, therefore, no analogy whatever. The very drastic nature of the tax must provoke a determination on the part of the landowner to get as low a value as possible, because, especially under the higher grades of the tax, a man will be stripped of practically half his inheritance.
– Is there not a danger that he will underestimate the value of his land?
– If there is a danger, it is provoked by the drastic rates of tax that the Government, are imposing. The land-owners are being treated as they are not treated under land taxation measures by any other Parliament, so far as I know, in any British country. There has never been anything so severe or drastic suggested outside the shadow of the red flag of the extreme wing of revolutionary Socialism. I have heard similar treatment suggested in such quarters, but never in a responsible Parliament.
– Robbery is just as bad, whether it is through the land tax or through the Customs. It is a crime in both cases.
– This is not a robbery in the sense covered by the instances quoted by the Attorney-General. There is also the other principle, which seems novel and original, and in respect of which the Attorney- General is quite welcome to all the credit attaching to it - that a man shall be arraigned before a jury, and then, after the jury has determined the question, he can act in his own defence and try afterwards to establish his innocence. All the way through the penalties and difficulties are entirely disproportionate to the offences.
– Could anything be disproportionate to fraud?
– If there is fraud, let the fraud be punished, but let the Government prove the fraud.
– The Government have to prove it.
– Let the Government prove it in a straightforward way, and not put these cases, when brought before the Court, on all-fours with offences against the Customs Act. There is no justification for introducing these novel and extreme provisions. The Minister is going to harass the landed community of Australia in a fashion that he and his Department will regret, not once, but as long as the Act remains unrepealed.
– I fancy I have heard that before.
– And the Attorney-General will hear it again a hundred times, as long as the Act endures. He admits that he has no precedent for this provision in land-taxation instruments created by any other Parliament. A new Department is to be created, taxation is to be double-banked, that of the Commonwealth being imposed on top of that of the States, and the Bill is being made as difficult and burdensome as possible to the land-owners of the community, while all the way through it the Attorney-General is assuming that they are likely, not in exceptional cases, but generally, to practise roguery.
Mr.Fenton. - A great many of them will not be called upon to send in returns at all.
– That is where the trouble comes in, and that is why I speak strongly. The great bulk of the land-owning community will suffer oppression under the Bill all the days of their life. The keen men, who have had a commercial training, and who will go into the Law Courts, will get out of it, but the more simple-minded of the community, the land-owners who have not had a commercial training, will suffer, and continue to suffer. They are the people that should be protected under this measure, but they are the very men who will be penalized.
– I wish to protest most strongly against the way in which the penal clauses have been drafted. Where it is a question of land values, there is a far greater possibility of a miscarriage of justice than where the question is a simple one of fact. The AttorneyGeneral has said over and over again that it is simply a case of a man valuing his own land and that the owner should be the bestjudge of its value. If that were really the question I should admit at once that the Attorney-General was perfectly right, but it is not the question. The question is the unimproved value of the land, which is a very different matter.
– Certainly, but. all in favour of the taxpayer.
– It is all against the taxpayer. It is an arbitrary determination of what, in that man’s opinion, the unimproved value of the land is. This cannot be reduced to a question of absolute fact. It must remain a matter of opinion, after all. In a case known as Black’s case, which went before the Land Appeal Court of New South Wales, a homestead selector asked for leave to convert under the Act. The Crown valuers put the unimproved value of the property down at £12 an acre. The man appealed to the Land Board of the district, and brought forward valuers who estimated the unimproved value at£4 per acre. The Land Board fixed it at£6 an acre. The Crown appealed to the Land Appeal Court at Sydney, and finally the unimproved value was determined by the Court at £8 an acre. Therefore, the highest Land Court in New South Wales declared that the Crown valuation was 33 per cent., higher than it ought to have been, and that the valuation of £4, fixed by expert men who had lived in the district all their lives, was 100 per cent. too low. I know another case where three shires met at one corner. There were three separate valuers valuing the land of those shires. At the point where the shires met the land was all of identical value, but the unimproved value determined by those three men was £12, £10, and £7 per acre respectively. There you get at once the wide difference of £5 per acre in the opinion of experts regarding land which was all of identical value. These cases only go to show how difficult it is for men, however expert, to arrive at the true unimproved value of land. It is more or less a fictitious thing. It means the arbitrary fixing of a value which, in point of fact, has no real existence, and that is the great difficulty. If a man asks me what I want’ for my land I can tell him the value I place upon it. If this were a question of the improved value I could understand the AttorneyGeneral desiring to go the full length of these clauses to meet underestimates. When, however, it is a question of the unimproved value, which only the most expert men can really determine, the situation is entirely different, and I object to these clauses being drafted in this drastic fashion. ‘ I should not. object so much if the question were one that had already been determined by a competent Court, and if then the man were placed on his trial. In this case it is simply left for the Commissioner to determine that the value is 25 per cent, too low, whereupon he can at once place the man in the position of a criminal, and make him stand his trial before a jury of his countrymen. Why could not a man be proceeded against under clause 66, if necessary? No one should be treated as a criminal until a prima facie case has been made out against him by the Crown. This clause should not apply until a Court had determined that the value stated by the owner was 25 per cent, too little. If that were provided for, the Bill would be much’ less drastic.
– I do not think that any honorable member would like to be put into the criminal dock, as if he were a murderer, for merely differing from the Commissioner as to the value of his land. The Bill makes it an indictable offence to submit a valuation 25 per cent, below the value determined by a jury, who may have no knowledge of values at all. When a case goes into Court, the Crown will have the assistance of legal advisers and expert witnesses, and can use all its great influence to obtain judgment against the man who has to rely on his own knowledge of values. It is a most difficult thing to determine the unimproved value of land. Recently, at Terang, a farmer bought a block of land adjoining his own holding for £80 an acre, but other land of exactly the same quality realized only £,55 an acre. _ That farmer might rightly claim that his land was worth no more than the land of like quality which fetched .£55 an acre; but, were he to value it at that sum, he would run the risk, under the Bill, of being put into the dock and tried by a jury for submitting a valuation more than 25 per cent, below the true: value, which might be held to be the amount which he himself had paid. There are sufficiently heavy penalties in the Bill without the provision for forfeiture. A fine of .£500 may be inflicted, and the offender may be compelled to pay treble the tax. If forfeiture is provided for, however, a bond fide purchaser for value may find, after he has bought land, that it is liable to forfeiture because of an under-statement of its value by the previous holder. Land transactions cannot be carried on under difficulties of that kind. Would any wise man take the risk” of buying land which might, unknown to him, be liable to forfeiture? Surely this provision will greatly depreciate the value of land. It must be remembered that it is very easy to make a mistake in a valuation. The other day the Government valuation was 50 pei cent, below that of the mortgagee in respect of a piece of land resumed for a cordite factory. Under a provision such as that in the Bill, the Minister of Defence could have been put into the dock for making an undervaluation. Why should we provide several, heavy penalties in addition to forfeiture to punish men for making innocent mistakes ? I do not think that there will be enough jurymen, Crown prosecutors, and Judges to deal with all the cases that will come into Court during the next five years. As the honorable member for Angas has said, the more severe you make penalties, the more crime increases.Already by many persons those who own land in this country are looked upon as criminals, although the States have encouraged people to buy land, and in New South Wales and Queensland have pressed it on them. Nothing is more difficult than to arrive at the unimproved value of land. Who could say what is the unimproved value of the land on which this building stands ? The building itself cost about .£750,000, but it would be difficult to say what its value was if it became vacant by the removal of this Parliament to YassCanberra, and was no longer required for its present purpose. Tt is doubtful whether under the Bill, land-owners can take credit for their expenditure on grubbing out timber or removing stones, although, in many cases, their land would have no value had they not improved it by that expenditure.
– Some men have made fortunes by selling the timber on their land.
– I do not know any one who has made a fortune by selling the stones on his land, but in the Werribee district, many acres of land were worthless until the stones had been picked up. The settlers at Cape Otway and other districts, whose land was worthless until cleared of trees, have not made anything out of the timber.
– In not one case in a hundred can a settler make anything out of his timber.
– Many men have spent ten or twenty years in clearing their land, but it is doubtful whether the Bill would give them credit for their expenditure in improving it in that way. Such men are liable to be prosecuted for an indictable offence if they make an error in valuing their land by deducting the value of improvements which are not allowed for.
– Not many men in the Otway forest will come under the Bill.
– Several of them: will do so. But are we legislating only for a section of the community? Are honorable members ready to prosecute 50 per cent, of the population, because the other 50 per cent, will not be interfered with ? It seems that it will take half of our population to keep the other half in gaol if the Bill is passed as it stands, and there will not be enough gaol accommodation for those whom our legislation will make criminals.
.- The Attorney-General does not appear to recognise that he is taking a departure, not without some precedent, but still a wide departure from all ordinary processes of taxation. A State, for its own maintenance, requires to levy on its subjects ; and the almost universal practice is for the States to undertake the work of assessing the individuals responsible. If this system were followed here we should be relieved of all the many very serious considerations laid before the Ministry in consequence of the proposed new procedure. TheCommonwealth, for its own sake, seeks to shift the burden of responsibility of determining the payments to be made by the taxpayer on to the taxpayer’s own shoulders. Having in this way removed the responsibility from where, in my opinion, it ought to rest, the Commonwealth ought to treat the taxpayer with the utmost consideration, since it imposes on him obligations which’ he does not desire, and for which he may be imperfectly prepared. He is called upon, not to value his property in the ordinary way, but to conduct a calculation, making a deduction for the valuation of improvements, in regard to which he may be biased or otherwise incapable of presenting accurately. This means often a very complex problem, very open to honest differences of opinion. He has then at his peril to arrive at a certain price : and if he does not come within a certain distance of the bull’s-eye is liable to be penalized as a criminal and suffer accordingly. If this calculation of values and deductions were of his own seeking there would not be justification for complaint; but, inasmuch as this is a task from which many would willingly escape, and for the performance of which’ they would in many cases be glad to pay, why should not the Government afford relief to all who intimate that, not desiring to form, or not being capable of forming, an opinion themselves, they would like some responsible officer to be deputed to make an official valuation for them on payment of a reasonable fee? Why should our people, nolens volens, be saddled with technical and arduous responsibilities carrying drastic penalties, and, what is worse to many, a reputation of criminality because of honest mistakes. It is speedier, cheaper, and more convenient for its officials, for the Government to transfer this onerous responsibility, and doubtless a number of taxpayers will prefer to undertake it; but there must be in Australia a very large number to whom a safety valve of the kind suggested would make their task much simpler, while giving the Government all to which it is entitled, and permitting the amount due to be settled, as ordinary questions of taxation usually are, by the action of the State itself through its officers.
– In reply to the criticism offered, I trust I may be permitted to cite a few cases in which the onus of proof is placed on the defendant. First, as a general principle, we have it laid down in Stephen’s Digest of the Law of Evidence - . . . the burden may in the course of a case be shifted from one side to the other, and in considering the amount of evidence necessary to shift the burden of proof the Court has regard to the opportunities of knowlege with respect to the fact to be proved which may be possessed by the parties respectively.
That extract is peculiarly relevant to the matter before us, because the question of fraudulent intent must be one within the knowledge of the defendant. Then Taylor on Evidence, page 349, sets forth a vast number of statutes in which this principle is affirmed. It applies to all cases where, in the nature of things, proof is extremely difficult or impossible unless the onus is thrown on the defendant. It embraces all sorts of criminal charges, quasi criminal charges, and cases for the recovery of penalties under any Act. It includes, for instance, offences against the Customs Act, such as signalling to a smuggling vessel at sea; the Seamen’s
Clothing Act 1809, under which the accused must be prepared to justify his conduct ; the Foreign Enlistment Act 1870, under which, if the breach of neutrality charge relates to the delivery of a ship to one of the States at war, the burden lies on the builder “ of proving that he did not know that the ship was to be employed in the military or naval service of such State “ ; the Merchant Shipping Act 1876, under which any person sends, or attempts to send, or takes, a ship to sea in an unseaworthy state, so as to endanger life, is guilty of a misdemeanour unless he proves that he used all reasonable means to insure her going to sea in a seaworthy state, or that her going to sea in an unseaworthy state was, under the circumstances, reasonable and justifiable ; the Passengers Act 1855; the Army Act 1881, in relation to the illegal purchase of stores, and so forth, from soldiers; the Anglo- Indian Codes, in which it is laid down, in section 106 -
When any fact is especially within the knowledge of any person, the burden of proving that fact is upon him.
When a person does an act with some intention other than that which the character and circumstances of the act suggest, the burden of proving that intention is upon him.
A is charged with travelling on a railway without a ticket. The burden of proving that he had a ticket is on him.
I have already quoted the British Merchandise Marks Act and Customs Act. Honorable members who assert that this principle is unknown to English law assert that which, on the face of it, can be refuted. It is not a principle of English law invariably followed ; in fact, although the English law technically assumes every accused man to be innocent, it always proceeds as if he were guilty. The onus of proof is on the defendant under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, because, according to section 9, the onus of proof is thrown on the employer of showing that an employe has been dismissed for a reason other than that he is a member of a union, and very properly so. A great deal has been said about the drastic nature of the penalties, but they are not nearly so drastic as the penalties under the Customs Act, to which a large number of honorable members opposite assented, not only without a murmur, but with the greatest manifestation of enthusiasm. Under that Act, a ship may be forfeited, and a man who engages in smuggling may be sent to gaol for four years. When that measure was before us, I never heard one murmur of indignation against the drastic nature of the penalties. It would seem that the indignation of honorable members opposite depends entirely on the social position of those who are likely to come within the law. A poor, harmless, industrious smuggler may be put down with an iron hand - some poor man who has invested his hard earnings in a little motor boat, and who may be endeavouring to pick up an honest penny wherever he can in the shape of a few tins of opium or other contraband goods. In such case, the man’s boat, and all that is his may be forfeited; and honorable members opposite regard such a penalty not only with tolerance, but with a certain amount of hilarity. Under the present Bill, however, we have to deal with the rich man - the pillar of the countryand all that is proposed is to ask him one or two questions, including, “ Did you, or di,d you not, undervalue yourland ? “ Surely that is a reasonable question to ask any man ? If the answer is in the negative, then the jury has to be satisfied that the taxpayer has undervalued the land to the extent of 25 per cent, before anything out of the common happens to him. That is to say, the onus is still on the prosecution after that fact has been established; and, further,I say emphatically that the onus is still on the Crown until the taxpayer shows that he is unable to bring forward a solitary shred of evidence to support his position. To set up a cry of injustice in the case of a man in that position is to create a goblin at which the people outside may chatter ; but which, I venture to say, will disappear long before it is likely to prove of any service. As a matter of fact, so far as penalties are concerned, this Bill does not compare with the New South Wales Act, which provides that any person who wilfully makes a misstatement shall be guilty of perjury, and dealt with accordingly; meaning, thereby, a possible seven years in gaol.
– In that case, a man tells an untruth, whereas under the Bill it is merely a difference of opinion.
– If the honorable member is willing that offenders under the Bill shall go to gaol for seven years instead of paying treble tax, and forfeiting their land, I, on behalf of the Government, am prepared to meet him. I make that sporting offer to the honorable member, who is always in favour of that which is remote.
– A taxpayer who undervalues will be liable for perjury in any case.
– Not under this Bill.
– But under other law.
– We are now talking about creating new offences.
– That has nothing to do with valuation.
– I think it has everything to do with valuation. If a man declared that which is untrue, has that not to do with valuation? The honorable member makes a pathetic appeal on behalf of the land-owners; but I ask him whether he is in favour of allowing men who deliberately defraud the revenue to escape scot-free ?
– Then, we are all agreed as to that. Does the land-owner get a fair deal under the Bill? If we omitted sub-clause 2, and allowed the taxpayer to come under the clause without that provision, what would happen? If the Court accepted the statement of the Commissioner in the box, “ My opinion is that the value has been understated “ - and it would beprimâ facie evidence - the onus would immediately be on the land-owner to show that he had not understated it. If the Commissioner said, “In my opinion, the valuation, and the whole circumstances, are so gross as to suggest fraud,” then, immediately, whether this provision were in the Bill or not, the onus would be on the defendant to show that that was not so. All that we have done is to put in plain words the actual position that occurs in every case, both civil and criminal.
.- It seems to me that the Attorney-General is trying to associate the valuation of land for taxation purposes with breaches of the criminal law. If a land-owner committed perjury in connexion with the valuation of his land, he would be liable to be tried and punished for that offence, quite apart from any provision in this measure. The Bill has nothing to do with the ordinary law of perjury, which must prevail in addition to all the penalties for which the Government are providing.
– The New South Wales Act makes this an offence.
– But perjury is a well-known offence; and I have no sympathy with a man who tells a falsehood. The honorable member for Ballarat made a forcible point when he declared that the Government were placing upon land-owners a burden which they themselves should shoulder. The Government call upon landowners to value their own land - a duty which ought to be performed by the Government themselves - and they declare, in this Bill, that if a valuation made by a land-owner does not correspond with that made by the Commissioner, the former may be subjected to heavy penalties. I fail to see why this Bill should provide for so many penalties in addition to those which already prevail under other Acts of Parliament. Most Land Acts provide that in the case of undervaluation an appeal may be made to a Court, and the unsuccessful appellant has usually to pay the costs. That is the procedure ordinarily followed in connexion with municipal and income tax valuations, and I have not heard of any one suffering a serious injustice from it. We have a land tax in operation in Western Australia with an exemption of£200, and the whole country has been valued. In the first year of the operation of that Act the assessments were based upon the valuations of the owners. In the second year, however, the valuations were reviewed in some cases by the Department, and any man found to have undervalued his land was required to pay additional taxation in respect of the two years’ period.
– Were there many cases of undervaluation?
– I was not in Western Australia at the time, but I think that a great many occurred. In the first year the municipal valuation was as far as possible generally followed. For the most part, the municipal valuation is based on the rental and not on the unimproved value, but in some cases the municipalities have the option of taking 4 per cent. on the unimproved valuation or the actual rental value. There has not been any friction in Western Australia, and it seems to me that the books of the Land Tax Department of that State will be available for the purposes of this Bill. The unimproved value in Western Australia has been ascertained by the Taxation Department there, but whether it will meet with the approval of the Commissioner to be appointed I do not know. We object to this provision, not because of any sympathy with those who are guilty of fraud, but because of the difficulty in which it will place many innocent persons. The average man does not like to feel that he may be dragged before a Court and subjected to great indignity. I should consider it a terrible indignity to be placed in a dock and to be called upon to answer a charge of fraud merely because, as the owner of a piece of land, I had placed upon it a valuation which in the opinion of the Commissioner was too low. Such treatment does not savour of British fair play. The Minister has forgotten the indignity that an innocent man would suffer in having to defend himself against a charge of fraud, and I appeal to honorable members to take care that no one is subjected to such treatment. I should be quite willing to pay any reasonable taxation, and if I were dissatisfied with the decision of the Commissioner I should appeal, but I would strongly object to the indignity of being placed on my trial for an indictable offence merely because I had made an honest valuation, although it might be one which happened to be below the Commissioner’s estimate. I object to the use of the word” indictable ‘ ‘ in this clause. I do not know that it means very much, but it is generally associated with a criminal proceeding. Indictable offences are usually tried before a Judge and jury, and the person charged is placed in the dock, and is, as a rule, liable to imprisonment. This clause does not provide for imprisonment, and I am informed by those learned in the law that the use of the word “indictable” is unnecessary. The Attorney-General has failed to show that there is any precedent for this drastic form of legislation. He has quoted certain laws prevailing in England and other countries, under which the onus of proof in some cases is cast on the persons charged. But he has not shown that such a provision exists in any land or income tax Act in force in Australia or New Zealand. We do not need to have read to us essays on British jurisprudence ; we want the AttorneyGeneral to show where, in any New Zealand or Australian Act, such a provision as this appears. Why should he make this Bill more drastic than any similar law in Australia?
– We are following the example of Great Britain, and that is a good one.
– But not in regard to land taxation.
– My point is that there is no such provision as this in a land or income-tax Act in Australia or New Zealand. Then, again, this is a class law, which will apply only to persons owning land the unimproved value of which exceeds £5,000. Why should the Government assume that such persons are dishonest, and that it is necessary to have ultra-stringent provisions to compel them to obey the law ? There is no reason why we should attack the interests of individuals to a greater extent than is necessary. Most of those who voted for the Labour party will escape this taxation, and I fail to see why the Government should insult in this way the persons to whom it will apply. The Attorney-General has insulted them, not only in his Bill, but continually by word of mouth during this debate. The provisions of this clause are exceptional, and I strongly object to them. I complain, not of the drastic provisions relating to treble taxation, so much as the attempt on the part of the Government to do that which will be offensive to the class of persons in Australia who own land exceeding the unimproved value of £5,000.
.- Numerous references to the New Zealand Act appear in the marginal notes, showing that a great many of the clauses have been taken bodily from, or suggested by, that measure. The Attorney-General has also repeatedly referred to if as a justification for many provisions that he has asked us to pass, but I see no reference to it, or any other Act, in the marginal note to this clause. It would be very interesting to know where the Government got these beautiful penalties from. The person who devised them ought to have lived in the Dark Ages, when torturing was a fine art. We may presume that the caucus has seen and approved of them, and, if so, I hope that the people will observe what gentle masters they are now being ruled by. If there is anything more extreme or drastic to be conceived than this clause, I should like to see it. I am only surprised that, after ordering the forfeiture of the land; the clause does not direct that the owner should be executed, or soused in boiling oil. I suppose that will be the next move by the caucus when they set out to devise fresh penalties for the misdeeds of suffering Australians.
– May I remind the honorable member that we are not dealing with the caucus?
– The penalties must be judged by the question, “ Are they fair andfit penalties to meet the offence that is likely to be committed ? “ They altogether overshoot the mark, and are absolutely unnecessary to deal fairly with the likely offenders. Any one who wilfully undervalues his land to evade taxation should suffer; but I see no reason why his land should be forfeited. If he is made to pay up to the proper valuation of his land, and is also substantially fined, that ought to be sufficient to meet the offence. To direct that he shall also forfeit his land is most vindictive, and shows that feeling in the mind of those who suggest such penalties. Evidently those who have suggested them do not anticipate that any of the victims will come from among their friends or followers. They are going to take the victims from what they are pleased to call a privileged class. The penalties might have appeared in an Act of the Middle Ages, but they are not at all in keeping with modern civilization. In a good many cases the onus of proof is thrown on the defendant, but it is not often thrown on the accused in criminal matters. The man who brings the accusation is bound, as a rule, to prove it. I am not cavilling at a man being asked to show that he has made an undervaluation innocently, when the jury and the Commissioner think that he has undervalued his land to the extent of 25 per cent. If, when he has made his statement, the Court is still convinced that he has wilfully undervalued his land, it is quite sufficient, in the interests of justice and commonsense, and in keeping with modern methods, that he should be made to pay the tax on the full valuation, and a substantial fine in addition. There is no necessity for the Government to introduce this vindictive clause, seeing that the appointment of an official assessor is contemplated. The system of selfassessment is not proposed to be long continued. The inequalities in the assessments are likely to be greater when the system is being started than afterwards. It will be harder for a man to correctly assess the unimproved value of his property straight off than it will be after he has had some practice, and has obtained the guidance of the Land Tax office. The penalties proposed are altogether uncalled for, and I am sorry that, when starting our Federal land tax, we should have had such disgraceful things proposed-
– The honorable member is not in order in describing the proposal before the Committee as disgraceful.
– I am sorry that I am not in order in doing so. I must say that that phrase expresses my feeling in the matter. The clause is far more drastic than the occasion warrants.
.- To facilitate the taking of a division at once on the main question, I ask leaveto withdraw my amendment, in order to enable the AttorneyGeneral to move his. We can then take a division at once on the question of retaining the words “ or forfeiture of the land undervalued, or any part thereof.”
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to-
That before the word “offence,” line 3, the word “ indictable “ be inserted.
Amendment (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That all the words lines 4 to 8 after the word “Penalty” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words - “ Five hundred pounds, and an amount equal to treble the amount of the tax which would have been evaded if the value stated in the return had been accepted as the unimproved value of the land, or forfeiture of the land undervalued, or any part thereof.”
Question - That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause - resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Glynn) proposed -
That the amendment be amended by leaving out the words “or forfeiture of the land undervalued or any part thereof.”
Question - That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the amendment - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to-
That the words “ assessed by the Commissioner,” line11, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ found by the jury.”
That the word “deemed,” line12, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ presumed in the absence of evidence to the contrary.”
That the words “ until the contrary is proved,” lines13 and14, be left out.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 66 -
Any person who, by any wilful act default or neglect, or by any fraud art or contrivance whatever, evades or attempts to evade assessment or taxation, shall be guilty of an offence.
Penalty : Five hundred pounds, and in addition thereto an amount equal to treble the amount of the tax or assessment payment whereof he has evaded or attempted to evade.
Amendments (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That after the word “ an,” line 4, the word “ indictable “ be inserted.
That all the words after the word “ pounds,” line 5, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “ and treble the amount of the tax payment whereof he has evaded or attempted to evade; or forfeiture of the land in respect of which the offence was committed, or any part thereof.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 67 -
Where any taxpayer is convicted of an offence, under either of the last two preceding sections, of which fraud or intent to defraud is an element, in relation to any land or interest owned by him, the Commissioner may recom mend to the Governor-General that the land or interest, or any part thereof, be forfeited to the Commonwealth.
Thereupon the Governor-General may, by proclamation, declare that the land or interest of the taxpayer, or any part thereof, is forfeited to the Commonwealth.
Amendment (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to-
That sub-clauses1 and 2 be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “ (1) Where, on the conviction of any person under either of the last two preceding sections, the penalty of forfeiture of any of his land has been imposed, the Governor-General may, by proclamation, declare that the estate or interest of that person in the land is forfeited to the Commonwealth.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 68 and 69 agreed to.
Clause 70 (Regulations).
Clause agreed to.
Amendments (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to-
That the following new clauses be inserted : - “ 4A. - (1) The Commissioner shall be appointed for a term of seven years, and shall be eligible for re-appointment.
The Commissioner shall not be subject to the Commonwealth Public Service Act1902-1909; but if any officer of the Commonwealth is appointed Commissioner, his service as Commissioner shall, for the purpose of determining his existing or accruing rights, be counted as public service in the Commonwealth; and if any officer in the Public Service of a State is appointed Commissioner, his services as Commissioner shall, for the purpose of determining his existing and accruing rights, be counted as public service in the Commonwealth as if he had been an officer of a Department transferred to the Commonwealth and were retained in the service of the Commonwealth.
In case of the illness, absence; suspension, removal, or death of the Commissioner, the Governor-General may appoint a person to be Acting Commissioner, during the illness, absence, or suspension, or until the appointment of a successor, and no longer ; and the ActingCommissioner shall have all the powers and perform all the duties of the Commissioner.
There shall be payable to the Commissioner a salary at the rate of One thousand two hundred and fifty pounds a year out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated for that purpose accordingly.” “ 4b. - (1) The Commissioner may be suspended from his office by the Governor-General, but shall not be removed from office except as in this section provided.
TheMinister shall cause to be laid before both Houses of the Parliament a full statement of the grounds of suspension within seven days of the suspension, if the Parliament is then sitting, but, if not, then within seven days of the next meeting of the Parliament.
The Commissioner shall be restored to office by the Governor-General unless each House of the Parliament, within forty-two days after the day when the statement is laid before it, declares by resolution that the Commissioner ought to be removed from office ; and if each House within that time so declares, the Commissioner shall be removed from office by the Governor-General accordingly.” “ 24A. The holder of land under a purchase or a right of purchase from the Crown upon conditions under the laws of a State relating to the alienation or disposition of Crown lands, shall be deemed to be the owner of the land if all the conditions other than the payment of purchase money have been fulfilled, but not otherwise.” “ 26A. Notwithstanding anything in the last two preceding sections, the owner of a leasehold estate under thelaws of a State relating to the alienation or occupation of Crown lands (not being a perpetual lease without revaluation, or a lease with a right of purchase) shall not be liable to assessment or taxation in respect of the estate.” “ 26B. A covenant or stipulation in a lease of land, which has or purports to have the purpose or effect of imposing on the lessee the obligation of paying taxes on the land -
if the lease was made before the commencement of this Act - shall not be valid to impose on the lessee the obligation of paying land tax to any greater amount than the amount (if any) which would have been payable by the lessee if he had been the owner of the land included in the lease and of no other land ; and
if the lease was made after the commencement of this Act - shall be absolutely void.”
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Sitting suspended from 6.29 to 8 p.m.
NORTHERN TERRITORY ACCEPTANCE BILL (No. 2).
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill is introduced at the earliest possible moment, not only because of its importance, but because it is necessary, if the Commonwealth intend to accept the offer of South Australia, that we should make up our mind at once. This we owe to South Australia, because the agreement between the honorable member for Ballarat, as Prime Minister, and the late Mr. Price, Premier of the State, was entered into some four and a-half years ago, and it is quite time we arrived at a decision. The Government and Parliament of South Australia are placed in a somewhat unfortunate position, seeing that they cannot make their plans in regard to expenditure until they know whether the liability for the control of the Northern Territory is to remain with them or to be assumed by the Commonwealth. Further, we have to remember that, on the part of a considerable minority of the people of South Australia, there is much antagonism to the handing over of the Territory, and there is a constant agitation for the repeal of the State measure which provides for the transfer. So long as the matter is held in abeyance, so long will that minority be a source of trouble ; and the State Government are never sure that at any moment a repeal of the agreement may not be brought about. During the present session there was a motion in the House of Assembly with that object, and at the present time a similar proposal is before the Legislative Council. What the result may be it is, of course, impossible to say; but it is well known that there is a majority in the Legislative Council, and possibly in both of the State Houses, of opinion that the Commonwealth is not very serious in the matter, and that it is quite time some definite action was taken. It is felt that it would be much better for South Australia to know that she has to face the responsibility of controlling the Territory, while there are not wanting those who believe that a great mistake is being made in handing over this portion of Australia to the Commonwealth. It will be seen, therefore, that there is every reason to deal with this measure at the earliest possible moment. Perhaps the strongest reason of all for passing it is that in the meantime the development of the Territory is entirely suspended. The Northern Territory represents about one-fifth of the Australian continent ; and ever since the agreement, to which I have referred, was entered into, no land has been parted with except on annual permits, which are most unsatisfactory, seeing that with such a tenure we cannot expect occupiers to do much in the way of improvements or stocking. As a matter of fact, they merely get off as much grass as possible in a year, and then leave; and altogether, no conditions could be less favorable to develop ment. Ever since Federation was inaugurated this question has been more or less before the Parliament. In the earlier days a motion by the late Mr. Solomon, who then “ represented a South Australian constituency, and who before that represented the Northern Territory in the South Australian Parliament, was passed affirming the desirability of the Commonwealth control of this portion of the continent; but later on the offer made on behalf of South Australia was withdrawn by the Jenkins Administration. It will be seen that this question has been see-sawed about for ten years, with the result that the Northern Territory has been losing both in- habitants and trade. Under the circumstances, it must be admitted that both this Parliament and the South Australian Parliament are not quite free from blame ; and it is not surprising that this portion of Australia has not prospered. Three or four weeks ago I was interviewed by a gentleman who was prepared to invest about £250,000 in pastoral pursuits outside the present settled portions of the Territory if he could be assured of a comparatively permanent tenure. The State Government had informed him that if the Commonwealth did not take over the Territory they would be prepared to grant him the lease applied for; and I was asked if I would give a similar undertaking in the event of the control passing over to us, the applicant in the meantime taking out an annual licence. Of course, I could not give any such assurance, not only because it would be wrong for any Minister to promise priority to an applicant, but because we do not now know what the future land legislation of the Territory may he in regard to the areas to be taken up. A Bill for the acceptance of die Territory by the Commonwealth passed this House last session by a very considerable majority, but was defeated in the Senate by one vote on the clause providing for the construction of the railway. It must be understood that the rejection of any one part of this measure means the rejection of the whole, because the Bill embodies an agreement which the State Parliament has already accepted in its entirety. The present Bill is sent down to us with the approval of a very large majority of the Senate, and the Government is hopeful that before a month is over the Territory will be under Commonwealth control. I do not propose to enter into any elaborate statement regarding the climate and the suitability of the Territory for agricultural or other pursuits, because honorable members will find all the necessary information most exhaustively set out in the memorandum which was distributed last year under the direction of the honorable member for Darling Downs, then Minister of External Affairs, and which has, I may say, been brought up to date. There are various other reports, one by the Government Geologist qf South Australia, on the Tanami gold country, and another, the latest report of Mr. Justice Herbert, the Government Resident, who, however, has relinquished the position and been succeeded by Mr. S. J. Mitchell. I desire, also, to call attention to a pamphlet entitled Terri- toria. If honorable members find in this publication anything in the nature of puffing or extravagant language, they must remember that it is not issued by the Government, and that for its contents the editors, Mr. David .Lindsay and Mr. A. L. Holtze, are responsible. It is issued by the Australian Railways and Territories League; and I may say that it is exceedingly well got up, and contains a great deal of information. I f honorable members take my advice, they will read the documents I have mentioned, when I am sure they will be possessed of much greater knowledge than they would if I were to enter on a long speech.
– It would be better if honorable members learned the contents of all the reports.
– It is hardly worth while learning the contents of all of them, if only for the reason that they vary so much ; but variation of the kind must always be expected in the initial reports regarding a comparatively unknown country. When I paid a short visit to the Territory some time ago, together with other members of this Parliament, I came to the conclusion that the opinions of the settlers and residents all depended very much on whether or not they were prospering; if they were having a bad time, it was a “ wretched country,” but if, on the other hand, they were doing well, it was “ God’s own country.” As a matter of fact, we shall find in the reports a great variety of views as to almost everything relating to the Territory ; but there is enough to show that it is a portion of the Commonwealth well fitted for development and successful occupation. The map hanging on the wall shows that the Territory represents, as I say, about one-fifth of the whole area of Australia; and this vast extent of country is practically uninhabited, containing only some 3,000 people, including Chinese. We know that elsewhere in Australia there is no considerable portion not fitted for successful occupation; and, guided by that fact, without using any extravagant language - without indulging in any glowing periods as to its possibilities and probabilities - I think we must all realize that in the Northern Territory there must be a vast extent of country capable of supporting a considerable population. The Territory comprises an area of 523,620 square miles, and lying, as it does, closer to the Eastern Archipelago than any other part of Australia, it is dangerously inviting to any of the Eastern nations that might desire to settle upon it. The only genuine right to a country is that which population, effective occupation, and settlement give. As to the climate of the Territory, we find that there are as many divergent views as there are in regard to its potentialities. Whilst a considerable proportion of it is within the tropics, on the whole the humidity is less than that of almost any other tropical region. That suggests that white men can work there, although they are unable to do so in other countries in similar latitudes. The dry- ness of the climate will certainly assist in its successful occupation. The rainfall is by no means scanty. In the memorandum prepared by the Department, by direction of the honorable member for Darling Downs, who was then Minister of External Affairs, particulars are given of the distribution of the average rainfall. I invite honorable members to examine the table given at page 13, which shows that the Northern Territory has an area of 153,226 square miles with an average annual rainfall of less than 10 inches, as against 417,896 square miles in Western Australia, 126,390 square miles in Queensland, 309,196 square miles in South Australia, and 79,629 square miles in New South Wales. The area with an average annual rainfall of less than 10 inches in the Northern Territory is about one-third of the area with a similar rainfall in Western Australia, and less than half that in South Australia. Then, again, it is shown that the area with an average annual rainfall of from 10 to 20 inches is, in the case of Western Australia, 397,416 square miles ; next comes Queensland, with an area of 251,150; whilst the Northern Territory is third on the list with an area of 181,298 square miles. New South Wales has an area of 118,685 square miles with a similar rainfall. For an average annual rainfall of from 20 to 30 inches, Queensland is first on the list, and then come Western Australia and the Northern Territory in the order named. Queensland has also a very large area with a rainfall of from 30 to 40 inches, whilst the Northern Territory has by far the largest area under a rainfall of over 40 inches. That area comprises 83,826 square miles, as against 50,260 square miles in Queensland, 13,629 square miles in Western Australia, 11,156 square miles in New South Wales, 4,777 square miles in Victoria, and 222 square miles in South Australia.
– Is not the area of 83,826 square miles in the Northern Territory, with an average annual rainfall of over 40 inches, almost wholly in the north?
– Yes, just as the area with that rainfall in Queensland is also on the coastline. The Government Resident’s annual report for 1909 shows that there was a rainfall of 64.47 inches at Point Charles lighthouse, in the extreme north ; 59.21 inches at Port Darwin; 52.13 inches at Brock’s Creek; 33.50 inches at fine Creek; 33.12 inches at Katherine; 22.03 inches at Victoria River Downs; 21.26 inches at Bradshaws; 20.66 inches at Roper River; 26.69 inches at Borroloola ; and 11.30 inches at Newcastle Waters, which is well towards the south of the Territory. At Powell’s Creek there was a rainfall of 21.50 inches, and at Daly Waters 17.53 inches. The rainfall in 1909 was rather below the average. If we take over the Territory, we shall have control of practically virgin country, in which we shall have no inherited troubles, but only those of our own making, and we shall be able to apply to it precisely the laws that we think ought to operate there.
– What is the rainfall south of the MacDonnell Ranges ?
– At Alice Springs, it is slightly over 9 inches. As we come further south, the rainfall becomes less and less, until, on the border of the Northern Territory and South Australia, it is only about 4 or 5 inches. The lowest rainfall in Australia is just across the South Australian border, South Australia occupying the most unfortunate position of all the States in respect of the extent of arid country that lies within its borders. From the MacDonnell Ranges northwards, the rainfall increases steadily, until, from an average of 10 inches at Alice Springs, we reach a rainfall of 60 inches at Palmerston. If further proof were wanting of the suitability of the country for carrying a healthy population, it could be found in the fact that the aborigines in the Northern Territory, both in physique and virility, are distinctly superior to those in other parts of Australia. Although, for the most part, they reside on the coastal areas, which are not so healthy as are other parts of the Territory, we have this splendid record of them. I do not propose to speak at length of the mineral possibilities of the Territory. Honorable members will recognise that any statement that may be made concerning the mineral possibilities of a country must be rather hazardous, but a considerable number of geologists of repute have examined the Territory, and have declared without exception that important mineral developments are certain to follow the expenditure of capital, and the opening up of the country. Although, so far, the surface has only been scratched, not one mine having been put down to a greater depth than 200 feet - the Northern Territory has yielded ,£2,565,578 worth of gold, silver, and copper. All this has been found practically on the surface.
– No reefs have been struck?
– A good many reefs have been struck, but, as a rule, mining companies there have been overcapitalized, and have speedily come to grief. I wish now to refer briefly to the position of South Australia, as the present possessor of this huge extent of country. The Northern Territory was annexed to South Australia in 1863, and since then that State has controlled it. It must be admitted that, on the whole, its control has not been a success, but I do not know that any useful purpose would be served by inquiring into the reasons. Many can be stated.
– The principal one, I suppose, is that the State of South Australia has not had sufficient money to develop the country.
– That is one obvious reason, but the principal cause of the failure of the State Government to effect any material development of the Territory has been the distance of the Territory, for all practical purposes, from South Australia. Distance, after all, is not a matter of mileage so much as of the time taken to get from one point to another. Although the borders are contiguous, the distance between the country in the Northern Territory with a good rainfall and the country in South Australia with a good rainfall - Adelaide, for instance - is greater than the distance of the Northern Territory from any other capital in Australia. The distance by sea from Adelaide to Palmerston is 3,500 odd miles, which is actually greater than from any other capital in Australia. When you apply the real test of distance, that of the time taken to get from one point to another, it is seen that the disadvantages which South Australia has had to face in controlling the Territory have been enormous j and, sometimes, in reflecting on South Australia’s comparative failure, we have failed, I think, to make sufficient allowance for them. It must always be remembered that, between South Australia and the Northern Territory, there lies a desert, or as near an approach to a desert as Australia contains, a wide extent of country with an average rainfall of only 4 or 5 inches. The rainfall at Port Augusta is from 12 to 14 inches.
– Nine inches.
– It is less than I thought. It rises a little in the Flinders Range, and then tapers off until you reach as low an average as 4 inches. In some years, no rain at all has fallen. From there on, right up to the MacDonnell Ranges, is an arid belt which, for all practical purposes, has separated South Australia and the Northern Territory almost as effectually as if they had been thousands of miles apart instead of their borders being contiguous. Not very long ago, when sending goods from Adelaide to reach the stations along the overland telegraph line it was necessary to despatch in one year the goods to be consumed in the next year. That is, they had to be sent a full twelve months beforehand in order to reach their destinations when they were required. In those circumstances, it can readily be seen that the hope which South Australians generally cherished of being able to develop this country has been frustrated by the fact that a large tract of desert had to be crossed. Some attempts have been made to bridge it. The railway has been constructed northwards from Adelaide 680 odd miles, and a line was run down from Palmerston to Pine Creek with the idea of meeting it, the ultimate intention being to link up the two ends and give communication right through from Adelaide to Palmerston.
– How far is it from Oodnadatta to the northern border of South Australia?
– I think just over 100 miles.
– Is that not where the dry belt really is ?
– It is the worst of the dry belt, although it extends below that point. South of Oodnadatta, while the country is very dry in parts, there is artesian water, and mound springs, which enable the country to be developed. Those springs, however, do not extend very much further north, although, of course, water can be obtained by sinking. The country is all within the artesian belt. The two railway lines mentioned extend for some 833 miles, and the gap between the two ends is 1,063 miles in extent. It has always been the belief of South Australia that no really satisfactory development of the Northern Territory can take place until that gap is linked up. We want that railway as a sort of spine to which branch railways might be attached like ribs, in order to reach other parts of the continent, and so assist in the occupation and development of the Territory.
– What is the estimated cost of that connexion?
– If it goes through Queensland, what is the estimate?
– It would be a little more, I think the honorable member gave the figures last year.
– Are the Government making any proposal with respect to the route at this stage?
– No. We accept the agreement as it stands. Whatever it means, there it is.
– How does the honorable member construe it?
– I shall give the honorable member the Attorney-General’s construction of it.
– Will the Minister say what is the estimated total amount payable to the South Australian Government for existing lines and the accumulation of past losses, apart from the £4, 500,000 for new construction?
– The cost of the Port Darwin to Pine Creek railway was £1,266,000, and that of the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railway £2,242,000, or a total of, roughly, £3,500,000. The deficit on the Northern Territory proper is £158,439 per annum. There is also a deficit on the Oodnadatta end of the line. Although it more than pays working expenses by £12,000 or ,£14,000 a year; there is interest to be made up to the extent of £77,694 per annum, or a total deficit of £236,133 per annum.
– In addition to about £9,000,000 for the construction of the intervening line, and the payments for the construction of the northern and southern parts.
– Only in addition to the construction of the intervening line. The rest has been done. If we take over the liability, we will not pay it twice.
– We shall have to pay the interest.
– The total capital cost will be something over £10,000,000.
– What is the amount of the accumulated deficit?
– The total indebtedness of the Territory, on 30th June, 1909, was £2,718,939 for public debt, and £l79>134 f°r the deficit or advance account, or a total of £3,498,673.
– Roughly speaking, it will cost the Commonwealth’ £10,000,000?
– Yes, if the Commonwealth constructs the railway.
– Of course, there are assets against that, and the loans are only taken up as they mature.
– Of the £10,000,000, over £8,000,000 will be represented by railways actually constructed and running.
– After taking over the liabilities and constructing the railway, the whole of the Territory taken over will only cost the Commonwealth about 7d. an acre.
– Including the whole £10,000,000, the cost would come to a little over 2d. an acre, according to my estimate.
– I am not questioning the value of the bargain. I simply want to know what we have to pay.
– I am not suggesting that the honorable member is in any way questioning this most valuable transfer.
– The railway is said to be almost worn out, and the rails only 40-lb. rails.
– Official reports, not the reports of persons interested in boosting up one line or the other, show t hat that is not the condition of the line. Further, a considerable number of the members of this House travelled over it not long ago at a greater speed than they travel at, as a rule, between here and Adelaide, and one and all of them said they had never travelled on a smoother line. On the greater part of the line the old 40-lb. rails have been replaced with heavier ones. The statement that the line is not in perfect order is quite wrong. There is not a better laid line in the whole of Australia.
– Is it not a fact that the line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta is quite out of repair, and requires the expenditure of about £3,000 a mile?
– Any statement of that kind is utterly incorrect.
– How many trains a week run betweenthe two places ?
– I think there is only one a fortnight at present, but that is immaterial. The state of the permanent way does not depend on the number of trains travelling over it.
– I was over the line three weeks ago. It is in splendid condition.
– Honorable members should remember the conditions under which the line was laid. It goes through the most waterless country in all Australia, with a rainfall of from 5 to 9 inches, and never a flood in the whole of it. There are not very many water-courses other than a few gum creeks, and the line does not frequently cross what there are. The rainfall is so small that the permanent way can be kept in good repair with very little trouble and expense, and it is to-day, for all practical purposes, as good as when it was laid.
– Is an eastern deviation possible under the terms of the agreement?
– The AttorneyGeneral, on whose opinion we rely, says that it would not be contrary to the terms of the agreement.
– That is not the view of the South Australian Government.
– The people of South Australia, in taking over the control of the Northern Territory in1863, did not understand what an obstacle to development lay in the intervening desert country. The existence of this barrier to communication prevented the Territory from being opened up as it should have been. But South Australia kept the country white, although, had she permitted the employment of coloured labour there, she could have made£10,000,000 and still have obtained the same terms as she will get if the Commonwealth takes over the Territory. She determined, however, to refuse to permit the employment of coloured labour, because that might have created difficulties which would not have been removed for many generations, if at all.
– She also kept clear oflandgrant railways.
– Yes, though since the establishment of Federation, perhaps by reason of the desire on the part of some persons to become rich, or from fear that the Commonwealth would not develop the country, the Parliament of the State passed an Act empowering the Government to grant 90,000,000 acres for the construction of a railway. Fortunately, a Labour Premier, Mr. Price, came into power shortly afterwards, and nothing was done. Had the railway been made under those terms, it would have belonged to those who were to be given the land, the contemplated “steal” being one of the most gigantic ever perpetrated. It has been said that too much of the Territory has been alienated, and about the time when the railway proposal was under consideration, land was alienated on excessively easy terms to induce the taking up of large areas with a view to facilitating that project. But of a total area of 353,000,000 acres, only 473,809 acres have been sold, while over 99,000,000 acres are under pastoral leases, which have been in existence for some years, and had a currency from the beginning of from twenty-five to forty-two years. Then about16,000,000 acres are held under annual permits. It has been objected that a great deal of the more easily developed country has been leased for, at any rate, long periods. But after ten years from the commencement of the leases the Government can, on giving two years’ notice, resume possession, and in estimating the compensation to be paid, nothing is to be allowed for public expenditure, the enactment governing this matter reading -
In computing the compensation to be paid in any case for loss or depreciation in the value of any pastoral lease, no increase of the value given to such lease by reason of any public works executed after the granting of such lease shall be included or taken into account.
No advantage from the public expenditure of the Commonwealth will accrue to the holder of any lease should hisland be resumed.
– What rent is paid for these leases?
– The rentals are very low, in some cases only 6d. a square mile being paid.
– Does the Government intend to allow the leases to run for forty-two years?
– If Parliament thinks that the land should be settled more closely, it will be able to resume these leases.
– If the stocking conditions are complied with, it will be so much the better for us; and if they are not, we can take back the leases.
– Yes ; the stocking conditions are very severe. Of course, if we take over this country, we shall have absolute powers of taxation. The European population of the Territory is steadily increasing, and the coloured population, irrespective of aborigines, steadily decreasing. Last year the Asiatic population decreased by152, and the European population increased by193, making a total increase of forty-one. Under the circumstances obtaining during the last ten years, I marvel that people have been found prepared to stay there at all. As to the agreement, . I think honorable members know very well what it is. Briefly speaking, it provides that the Commonwealth shall assume all the liabilities of South Australia in regard to the Territory, taking into account the cost of the line projected in order to connect with the Pine Creek line, and ultimately to form a transcontinental line from Oodnadatta to Port Darwin. The total liability of the Commonwealth will be in the neighbourhood of £10,000,000, including, of course, £4,500,000 for the construction of the railway between Pine Creek and Oodnadatta. I must emphasize the fact that of that amount £8,008,000 is represented by actual railways, while the remaining £2,000,000 represents lighthouses, wharfs, and other public works for the purposes of development.
– Is contemplated expenditure included in the £8,000,000?
– Yes. So far as the agreement is concerned, no date is fixed for the construction of the railway, but it means obviously within a reasonable time.
– There is really no development except the lighthouses and wharves and at Palmerston.
– There have been prospecting votes from time to time, and a considerable amount of exploration and survey work, which will prove of the greatest advantage to the Commonwealth. This work necessarily fell to South Australia, because, when the Territory was taken over by the State, it was not only unpeopled, but wholly unknown ; and the acquisition of knowledge regarding the area has cost the State a large sum of money. South Australia hands over her interest in the Territory and receives not one penny in the shape of profit ; there is nothing in the agreement proposing that a penny shall be paid more than the actual cost.
– South Australia asks to be reimbursed the £70,000 a year lost on a railway within her own territory.
– That is part of the agreement, but South Australia will not receive a penny more than the actual cost she has been put to in connexion with the Territory. The line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta would be utterly objectless and ridiculous except for the purpose of reaching the Northern Territory ; the promised land was above the MacDonnell Ranges, in the well-watered country, which was known to be of very considerable value. The country further south to which the railway has already reached is such that no sane people would construct a railway to it except with some other object. As I was saying, South Australia gives up whatever interest she has in the Territory; and a consideration that weighs very much with many people in the States who oppose the transfer is that the State is also giving up any hope she might have of being one of the greatest States, territorially, in the Commonwealth. With this transfer South Australia will have to be content to number herself among the smaller States. That view may not have been recognised by honorable members, some of whom may regard the local expressions of antagonism as merely bluff; but the fact is that there is a considerable minority- it may be that they are now a majority - in South Australia who, on these grounds, object to the transfer.
– Why should we take the Territory from South Australia ?
– The honorable member does not need an answer to that question.
– We are taking the Territory over in the interests of the Commonwealth, and the bargain ought to be in the interests of Australia as a whole.
– The Commonwealth owes South Australia a debt for keeping the Northern Territory white !
– This is a most interesting conversation, which I am loth to interrupt. Of course, South Australia is. not entirely giving up her interests in the Northern Territory ; because, as a State of the Commonwealth, she will not only share in whatever benefits may accrue from the transfer, but also in all the liability incurred in the work of development. From the few remarks I have made, honorable members will readily understand that the short route between Pine Creek and Oodnadatta is regarded by the people of South Australia as representing a truly national line of railway. The line which runs wholly in the Territory ought to prove a quicker means of development than any other line could; and honorable members need not jump to the conclusion that the route laid down in the agreement is favoured by the people of the State with any desire to drag the trade in their own direction. As I say, the South Australian people honestly believe that they are taking a national view in supporting this short route.
– That view is disputed.
– It can hardly be disputed that a line wholly in the Territory must develop more of the Territory than any line which takes a short cut out of it.
– Surely that depends on the character of the soil ? Some parts of the Territory might be so barren that they could not be developed.
-If we assume that the only country in the Northern Territory possible of development is in a given direction, then the only justifiable railway would also be in that direction ; but I think nobody will have the hardihood to express such a view, though there may be considerable difference of opinion as to where the best land is. It must also be remembered that there is a strong belief that the MacDonnell Range country contains very valuable mineral country, and that there is a good climate, with a good rainfall, and possibilities of development far greater than in any other direction. Any railway line which did not come down through the Territory would miss the MacDonnell Ranges altogether, and could hardly, therefore, be regarded as one calculated to develop the Territory to any extent. It is not my duty to urge the advantages of one line as against another. I merely say that the South Australian view is not the wholly selfish one that honorable members, perhaps, may have been led to believe it is.I believe that it is a national view, and I have good grounds for that opinion.
– What is the Government view ?
– The view of the Government is that under the agreement there may be a reasonable deviation outside the Territory. As long as the line runs roughly north and south, a deviation outside the Territory, in the opinion of the Attorney-General, would not be contrary to the agreement. That, however, is a matter for honorable members to consider, and I trust that no mere parochial interests will be allowed to have play. I hope that the House will take a wide view of what is best in the interests of the Commonwealth, and obviously what is most desirable in the interests of Australia as a whole is the construction of railway lines that will open up the greatest possible area of country suitable for settlement. I appeal to honorable members to accept this Bill, believing that if we do not ratify the agreement the Common wealth Parliament will not be again asked during our time to consider it.
– We had the same statement last year.
– I can assure the honorable member that it has been somewhat difficult to keep open this offer. The present Premier of South Australia was returned to Parliament pledged at the very earliest opportunity to repeal the State Act, but he has been out-voted by his Cabinet.
– I hope that he will keep his pledge.
– I trust that the honorable member will not take a narrow view of this question. Undoubtedly the Territory must be developed, and a burden which may be too great to be borne by some 400,000 people ought to be shouldered with comparative ease by 4,000,000.
– We may have a landgrant railway in the Territory if we are not careful.
– That would not be a bad thing, would it?
– I think that it would. If it would pay private capitalists to construct a railway in return for the cession of portion of the Territory, surely it should pay the Commonwealth to construct such a line when it will have possession of the whole country.
– Everything must depend upon the management.
– I do not think that there are better-managed railways than are the State railways of Australia. Our experience of privately-owned railways in Australia, including those of Tasmania, is not so happy as to -
– The honorable member must not refer to that matter.
– I was merely making an incidental reference to it.
– But the honorable member is now dealing with land-grant railways.
– I bow to your ruling, sir. The honorable member for Wilmot knows very well that the day has passed when any State in Australia would agree to a land-grant railway, except as a last resort. In conclusion, let me say that the responsibility of accepting this offer rests upon the Commonwealth Parliament. The terms are such that we may well ratify the agreement, and set about the work of effectively developing this huge area, which can be brought about only by a largely increased population. If we do so, we shall assert our right to hold the Territory, and to keep it white, to the enduring benefit of future generations of Australians.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Glynn) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 21st September (vide page 3538), on motion by Mr. Tudor -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– As I have already expressed my views on this subject, in discussing a motion recently before the House, I shall not take up much of the time of honorable members this evening. It is highly desirable that this Bill should be dealt with and a decision arrived at without delay as to the policy of the Australian Parliament in regard to the sugar industry. In Queensland there has been a good deal of unrest and uncertainty as to what the permanent policy of Australia is to be, and before investing further capital in the industry many people are awaiting a definite pro nouncement by this Parliament. Deputations have waited on the Premier of Queensland to ascertain whether the Government are prepared to make further advances for the erection of sugar mills, and there are in the State large areas available for sugar production; but they are not likely to be devoted to that purpose until the policy of this Parliament has been clearly laid down. In the Australian Sugar Journal for August reference is made to movements for the erection of new mills in the Johnstone River district, the Gympie district, and Central Queensland, whilst I understand that there is a similar agitation in the Bowen district. This shows that there is a strong desire onthe part of landowners to engage in the industry. The Premier of Queensland, in reply to the deputation, which asked for further advances for the erection of new mills, said -
The Queensland Government had decided to advance no more money for such purposes while the fiscal conditions surrounding the industry were as at present. When those conditions were changed - and he did not think the present Bill changed them -
That was before the amendment of the Bill now before us was introduced - and the sugar industry was placed on the same footing as any other, then the Government could consider the matter.
Subsequently a deputation waited on the Prime Minister, and an announcement was made that the first Bill was introduced in error, and that the policy for which this measure provides was to be part of a permanent policy for Australia. I would remind the Minister of Trade and Customs, however, that the policy announced by the Government is hardly that which seemed to be indicated by the statement of the Prime Minister, that there was a possibility of so framing a scheme that all would derive fair advantage from the sugar produced. That statement indicated that he had in contemplation some scheme that was going to adjust all the difficulties in connexion with the industry, and which relate more particularly to the price of cane to the grower, the price of raw sugar, the employment of coloured labour, and labour conditions generally. There is also some unrest arising from the fact that the Government have not yet intimated whether they intend to agree to the proposal that a Royal Commission shall be appointed to inquire into the industry. A motion providing for the appointment of such a Commission is before the House, but the Government havenot yet announced their attitude towards it. I assume, however, from the Minister’s announcement that we may accept this present legislation as part of the permanent policy of the Government. I desire now to ask the honorable gentleman if it is not possible for him to make the bounty equal to the Excise. That is the only point with which I propose to deal to-night. When provision was made by the first Federal Government for a bounty and Excise, a difference was made between the two on the ground that it. was desired to raise revenue. It was pointed out at the time that a duty on sugar had been used as a means of raising revenue in several of the States, and that while having due regard to a protective policy, it was necessary under the first Federal Tariff to provide revenue for the States from this source. The Excise was therefore fixed at £3 and the bounty at .£2 per ton, so that £1 per ton was secured as revenue. That system resulted in the Commonwealth having to repay to the States in certain proportions under the Braddon section the revenue derived from the Excise duties; and having to provide for the bounty out of its own revenue. That, of course, was an injustice to the Commonwealth, but with the altered financial arrangements there is no longer any justification for making the sugar industry the only local revenueproducing industry of the Commonwealth, the tobacco industry alone excepted. It is estimated that the Excise for 1910-11 will produce a revenue of £97,425, whilst the cost of administering the Excise Act is estimated to amount to £6,031. If the cost of administering the bounty system were exceedingly heavy there might be some justification for retaining an Excise revenue duty. When the cost of administering the whole Act amounts only to £6,031, what justification is there for a tax on sugar for purposes of revenue? Why not apply that principle to other industries? What an outcry there would be if an Excise duty were put upon the ‘manufacture of woollen goods, furniture, jam, or any other article, for the purpose of providing revenue for the Commonwealth !
– The real reason was because the Free Traders on that side of the House wanted to nullify the protective duty.
– They were working at that time in conjunction with the Free Traders on the other side of the House. There were then many Free Traders amongst the members of the Labour party.
– That is absolutely wrong. We kept the honorable member’s party in power for nearly ten years.
– I admit that that is so, but the Tariff was an open question, and members on both sides of the House voted freely upon it.
– It was a member of the honorable member’s old party, the present Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who moved to knock the duty out.
– Some member who was a Free Trader may have moved to remove the duty, but when this House was first constituted, there were Free Traders on both sides. I think it was the general desire of the House that we should keep party politics out of legislation affecting a big industry like this. I have no desire to introduce them now, and it was only the imputation conveyed by the honorable member for Herbert’s interjection that called for my reference to the matter. The fact remains that the sugar industry is being taxed, and revenue is being raised out of it in a way that applies to no other industry. . There is a justficaton for the Excise of £4 upon the black-grown sugar, but I ask the Minister to consider the question of making the bounty equal to the Excise on the white-grown .sugar. I am urging this absolutely from a non-party point of view, because, on these big economic questions, where the interests of the people as a whole are concerned, it is better to keep party politics completely out of the discussion.
– Even if all the Excise on white-grown sugar were to be returned there would still be £65,160 obtained from the black-grown sugar, so that the whole £97,000 would not go back.
– I was going to mention that. I can see no objection to continuing the £4 Excise upon the black-grown sugar. All that I ask is that so much of the revenue as is raised from sugar grown by white labour should be paid back. That will still leave some revenue, which makes the course still more justifiable. In the year 1905, the honorable member for Wide Bay said -
There is no justification either for the Excise or bounty, except the fact that white men are struggling in an industry which is not carried on by white men in any other part of the world.
Later on, he said -
Even- increase in the Excise duty upon sugar diminishes the price paid to the labour engaged in its production. Every additional £i that we impose by way of Excise means that £i per ton less is paid to the producer of raw material.
That is the position, and 1 ask the Minister to consider whether it is fair to grant only the present’ bounty, and take away the remuneration from the producer of the raw material referred to by the present Prime Minister in that speech. In the year 1902, when the Excise was £3, and the bounty proposed was £2, the honorable member for Wide Bay moved to make the bounty £2 10s. In speaking to that motion, he said -
In the very first communication that I had with the Government I staled that in my opinion the whole of the Excise duty should go to the white grower, and I believe that if the electors of Australia were polled, that would be their view.
That was the opinion of the Prime Minister at that time.
– I believe it was then, but it is not now.
– 1 want to find out the reason for that change of view.
– Personally, I was not in favour of that view.
– The honorable member voted for it at the time
– At the same time I protested against it.
– Perhaps so, but the honorable member voted for it. The honorable member for Wide Bay further said on that occasion-
I ask the Committee to give full consideration to the mailer, and if possible to allow a rebate of 5s. per lon in the interest of Queensland growers particularly, and in my opinion in the interests of Australia generally.
In 1905, the present Minister of Trade and Customs said-
I am willing to extend to the growers of white sugar in Queensland a fair amount of protection,
I will say that the Minister to his credit has always stood up to protect the industries of Queensland, and, in fact, of Australia, as a whole.
– I have not been like some of the members representing sugar districts voting for high duties on sugar, and low duties on confectionery.
– The honorable member lias been consistent, but I am glad to say that consistency has been found on both sides, and that there has been manifested a desire, on the whole, to deal with Australian industries on a fair basis. The Minister further said - and if we are not prevented from doing so by the Constitution, I should be in favour of in creasing the Excise duly on black-grown sugar, and abolishing it altogether so far as the whitegrown product is concerned.
He therefore did not want at that time to impose any tax on the white-grown product. The only way in which that can be accomplished is to make the bounty equal to the Excise.
– We estimate to produce 184,000 tons this year, and if we had to give back an extra £1 per ton we should be about £150,000 to the bad on the transaction.
– Not according to the figures the honorable member has presented to the House. I do not think it will work out in that way if the honorable member reckons the amount to be received from the Excise duty as a whole. Be that as it m’ay, there is no getting away from the justice of the position Is it fair to tax and raise revenue out of the white sugar-growers’ industry, and treat it differently from any other? The Minister further said -
It has been often slated that we are giving a bonus to the sugar-grower. But that does not fairly represent the case. As a matter of fact, the planters are paying the Excise duty upon their product, and are receiving three-fourths of the amount back in the form of a bounty. If honorable members had to pay their £400 a year into the Treasury and had only ^300 relumed to them, they would not consider they were receiving a bonus.
I hope the Minister, in view of those expressions of opinion,, will consider whether he cannot give the relief I suggest to the white growers. He has been in North Queensland, and knows very well that the growers there have loyally tried to carry out the White Australian policy in the face of many difficulties. He knows, also, that they are now in the process of acquiring the freehold for themselves, and he ought, if possible, to give them every encouragement to enable them to do so.
– Does the honorable member believe that the growers would get the extra £1 per ton? It would go into the pockets of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company.
– Is not the honorable member satisfied that the existing bounty reaches them? If it does not, why perpetuate this legislation? I think that if the extra £1 a ton is given to them, the white growers will benefit by it. This concession is also being asked for by the Victorian Government. Mr. Easterby, the Manager of the Maffra Beet Sugar Factory, accompanied the recent deputation, and asked, on behalf of the Government of Victoria, seeing that the beet-sugar industry in Victoria was affected, that the same conditions should be made to apply to this State, and the bounty be made equal to the Excise. The question, therefore, concerns, not only Queensland and New South Wales, but will, this year, concern Victoria. I am not asking for consideration for any sectional reason. I base my claim on the justice of the case. Seeing that we have got rid of the Braddon section, that the Excise and bounty system is no longer depleting the Commonwealth revenues, and giving benefits to the States, there is no reason why we should not give some assistance to the sugar industry. If permanent legislation is passed by this Parliament, the sugar industry will,’ I believe, fulfil all that can be hoped of it. Certainty is needed for its prosperity in Australia. The conditions show that it is an industry absolutely natural to the country, and not artificial. We have the soil, the climatic conditions, and the men capable of making a success of it ; and we , ask that this legislation be passed in order that it may be placed on a footing of absolute stability. The success of the sugar industry of Queensland and the settlement of a large population in the north mean a tremendous amount to the people of the southern States. Under Federation, we cannot benefit one part of Australia without benefiting the whole. The progress of one part of the Commonwealth does not mean the progress of one State only, but involves the advancement and well-being of the Commonwealth as a whole. Each industry is not merely a State industry now, but is, in substance and effect, a national industry. We ask the Minister to see whether he can give this further concession, in addition to the legislation he has put forward. If he does so, I believe he will give great encouragement to the industry, and that, as a result of this legislation as a whole, more capital will be invested and greater prosperity result to the Commonwealth.
– I hope the Minister will carefully consider the advice tendered to him by the honorable member for Darling Downs.
– There ought to be a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– Something has been said to-night about the reason for the conditions imposed by the Sugar Bounty Act; but we have to legislate for the present state of the industry ; and, therefore, need not consider the reasons for the difference between the Excise and the bounty, 0:1 which past legislation was based. The honorable member for Franklin, in putting in a word for the jam manufacturers and fruit-growers of Tasmania, said that while fruit-growers got only £4 a ton for their fruit, £22 a ton had to be paid for the sugar needed to convert it into jam. But I would remind him that the result would be 2 tons of jam, the value of which would be about £54, leaving a margin of £28 to cover the cost of manufacture. That shows that there are other causes than the high price of sugar for the present stagnation in the jam trade. In 1906, the first year in which white labour conditions began to’ influence the production of sugar, the output was 205,576 tons, on which the bounty paid was £328,210, while in 1910 the output was only 200,689 tons, and the bounty £572,102, a decrease of 4,887 tons, and an increase in the bounty of £243,892. We have a right to inquire into the causes of this decrease in production.
There are many varied interests to be considered, but, in my opinion, those of the growers are of first consideration. The Queensland Government has spent £394,000 on central sugar-mills, the farmers in the benefited areas having hypothecated their holdings to guarantee the supply of cane, their solvency depending on the success of the industry. The 6,108 cane-growers employ, in addition to their own labour, more than 30,000 hands. With reasonable legislation, these mills will become co-operative concerns, belonging to the cane-growers. There are already cooperative mills ; and there is no reason why the growers should not own refineries as well.- But the proposal that farmers should take up the work of refining has been laid aside for the present, because, apparently, the majority of them are content with the present facilities. Personally, I have always advocated that the farmers should, where they are able, carry on manufacturing, so as to get the best results from their labours.
The present system of pooling cane retards the development of the sugar industry. I am not competent to advise as to an effective system of payment by results ; but that that is possible is made evident by the prices for the crushing season of [9IO, : advertised in a circular issued, in
June last, by the Moreton Central mill, a co-operative concern -
Cane analysis between9 per cent. and12 per cent. (both inclusive), P.O.C.S.,11s. per ton.
Cane analysis over12 per cent. and up to and including13 per cent., P.O.C.S.,12s. per ton.
Cane analysis over13 per cent., P.O.C.S.,13s. per ton.
Cane analysis above 6 per cent. and below 9 per cent.,P.O.C.S., to be paid for on analysis value.
The rates mentioned above are for all cane (stand-over, plant, or ratoons), delivered on railway waggons, tramway trucks, or carted to the company’s carrier, and a deduction of1s. per ton will be made on burnt cane delivered at these rates.
Cane analysis below 6 per cent., P.O.C.S., will only be accepted at the option of the company. That is to say, when such cane comes to the mill, growers will be immediately advised ; and if they continue to send in such cane the company may either refuse to take delivery or crush it at the request of the grower, and credit his account with nil.
Apparently, the meaning of the last paragraph is that some farmers are growing worthless cane, and take advantage of the bounty, which is certainly not the intention of Parliament. The bounty is now payable at different rates for different districts, ranging from 6s. to 7s. 6d. a ton; I have been told that, in my district, the actual value of cane varies from 3s. 6d. to14s. 6d. a ton; so that the pooling system puts the best land out of use. The honorable member for Capricornia has complained that the farmers have no means of checking the analyses ; but the services of the Excise officer employed at each mill could be used for this purpose.
Last year, we imported 79,000 tons of sugar, produced under cheap labour conditions very near to our own shores. The Excise and import duties returned to the Customs Department £1,025,668 for the year. It is to this item that the honorable member for Franklin referred. He said that, owing to the duty of £6 a ton, the people of Australia had this year paid £1,297,128 for the sugar industry, which would not have been paid if we had not grown a pound of sugar in all Australia. We have no guarantee that if there was no duty on sugar that amount would be saved to the people. It has been contended by Protectionists, and I think with a certain amount of truth, that a policy of Protection should reduce the price of commodities ; at any rate, we find that, even under Free Trade conditions, the cost of commodities is sometimes quite as high as under protected conditions. Australia has accepted a Protective policy,
I am pleased to say, and I do not see why we should single out the sugar industry as an exception. New Zealand is making an attempt now to supply herself with sugar, and a Bill has been introduced into the Dominion Parliament to provide for bounties in the next three years at the rate of 1d. per lb. on beet and sorghum sugar, meaning £9 6s. 8d. per ton as a straightout bounty, without any Excise conditions. I hope that this question will be discussed by honorable members, and decided without the slightest tinge of partisanship. This is a great Australian industry, the consideration of which ought to be divested of every tinge of party politics. Under the new arrangements for financing the States, the Government have been placed in a position which will enable them to do justice to the sugar industry. Until the expiration of the operation of the Braddon section, the Government had to return to the States threefourths of the Excise revenue collected on sugar. This, of course, is no news to honorable members ; but I should like to point out that the Commonwealth Government have had to pay the full amount of the bounty since the inception of the system. Now, however, the whole of the Excise goes into the coffers of the Federal Government ; and I claim that the amount collected on white-grown sugar should, as the honorable member for Darling Downs has claimed, go to the growers who have complied with the conditions with regard to white labour. The Minister himself has said, at another time, that to charge £4 per ton and give back £3 is not much of a gift.
– What is the use of the honorable member’s suggestion ? He knows that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company will “ collar” the money in some way !
– The honorable mem ber for Melbourne Ports has such a dread of combines that he places them all on the same footing.
– The honorable member himself has a dread of combines, seeing that he goes in for co-operation !
– I have a dreadof combines when I know they are injurious. I am not at liberty to discuss the question of the proposed Royal Commission; but I think that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company will suffer the least of all, perhaps, from such an inquiry. I am not an advocate for the company, but I desire to see the growers have a fair deal - to reap the full benefit of the Excise which has been paid by the public. Since Federation there has been an import duty on sugar of £6 per ton, and during that period the industry has contributed Excise, in excess of the bounties, amounting to some £2,000,000.
-Not the industry, but the consumer has contributed that.
– I think the honorable member for Herbert has picked up only one part of my sentence; if he reads the context he will see that he is in error.
– The honorable member says that the industry has paid this money, and I say that the consumer has done so.
– I am prepared to accept the correction, if the honorable member thinks it makes the case clearer ; but I think he will find that I said so a few sentences earlier. However, I desire to invite attention to the following table, which shows the position very clearly, and which I desire to place on record -
The object that the Federal Parliament had in view when they legislated to wipe out black labour, has been practically achieved. The proportion of black-grown sugar has gradually decreased, until it is now, I think, at its minimum; so that the reason for the differentiation in regard to Excise and bounty has ceased to operate. The various revenue-producing measures of the Government, introduced of late, should make them independent of the sugar industry as a means of raising revenue, except to finance the bounty proposals in view at the present time. Owing to the fact that the Excise exceeds the bounty by £1 per ton, the sugar-growers are taxed from15s. to 40s. for every acre of land under cultivation. As a private member, I have no right to propose any alteration that would mean increasing the burden of taxation on the people; but, with a view to test the feeling of the House as to whether honorable members are prepared to make the Excise level with the bounty, I propose, when in Committee, to move, in a friendly way, that a word be deleted. I regret I am not able to move in such a way that the country will understand exactly the object of the motion, but I avail myself of the only possible means of testing the feeling of the House when I move the omission of the word “ six “ in clause 3. I hope the Government will treat this amendment as a friendly one.
– I do not think that the amendment will accomplish the honorable member’s purpose.
– I move the amendment simply to raise the question; and if the Minister can suggest any other better method. I shall be pleased to adopt it. I think there are a number of honorable members, perhaps a majority, who see no reason why the sugar industry should be singled out as a revenue-producing industry.
.- I have very few remarks to offer, because I fancy honorable members are practically unanimous in their desire to have this question settled in the best possible way. The suggestion for the appointment of a Royal Commission is one that must commend itself to the House; but pending that Commission and its report, we are agreed as to the advisableness or necessity of maintaining the present Excise and bounty system. The sugar bounty was instituted with a specific purpose. When the people decided on a White Australia policy we had to face in a practical way the question of how best to get rid of coloured labour. If there is one result of the legislation then enacted that justifies the extension of the system, it is that during its operation coloured labour has been a graduallydecreasing quantity, and I hope that we shall see its entire elimination. May I quote one or two figures already placed before honorable members, in order to show at a glance the effect of the policy? In1902 there was grown by white labour 31,688 tons of sugar, and by black labour 67,107 tons, whereas in1909 white labour produced 132,203 tons and black labour15,267 tons. The figures as to the number of labourers. employed are also interesting. In 1905 there were 23,162 white labourers and 8,952 coloured labourers .engaged in the industry ; but, in 1909, the number of white labourers had increased to 36,619, whilst the coloured labourers had decreased to 2.325. Any system that will accomplish such n result must commend itself to those who favour the policy of a White Australia. No stronger appeal could be made to honorable members to enthusiastically support the proposal to extend the bounty system instead of allowing it to gradually disappear by means of- a sliding scale until it ceases altogether in 191 3. There is another aspect which has not yet been touched upon, and that is the tremendous advantage which the elimination of black labour has given to the sugar-growing districts. I have an intimate knowledge of two or three sugar districts, and may tell those who have not had an opportunity to visit such places as Bundaberg, Childers, and Mackay, that the improvement in regard to business, morals, appearance and general development has been very strongly marked there during the last few years. That in itself should constitute a strong argument in favour of the Government proposal, I can remember a time when Childers was a veritable danger place for any one to visit, and when certain parts of Bundaberg and Mackay were absolutely unsafe, particularly for women, and often for men, after nightfall. That state of affairs has changed. Instead of the kanaka shops which used to supply coloured labourers with inferior goods at sometimes inflated prices, we . now have substantial establishments doing a fair and legitimate business. Whilst coloured labour was generally employed, empty houses were numerous in these towns, and a white man had no difficulty in renting one ; but with the advent of white labour, extensive building operations have been carried on, and yet it is difficult very often for a white man to obtain a home for himself. The reason is that the white labourer desires decent housing accommodation. He lives in a house instead of a hut or a tent such as is occupied by the coloured labourer, and he also desires better food and clothing. The consequence is that business generally has improved, and that instead of cheap kanaka shops we now find substantial reputable business houses doing a good trade on proper lines. The improvement, morally, has also been so marked that one almost hesitates to suggest anything that would in the least degree open the door to the re-introduction of the coloured labourer.
– But the price of sugar has gone up.
– It has increased all over Ihe world.
– The price of sugar has not increased as the result of our legislation. From personal acquaintance with sugar-growers now employing white labour, I know that they are enthusiastically in favour of the continuation of this system until the industry is placed on a fair fiscal footing equal to that of other enterprises.
– How is it that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company can sell Australian sugar more cheaply in South Africa than it does here ?
– I know that my honorable friend is simply putting a frivolous question ; but it is a fact that most manufactures and products are dearer in the place of production than they are elsewhere. I hope that whatever difficulties there may be in connexion with the sugar industry - and I know that there are many - the appointment of the Royal Commission of which, I believe, we are all in favour, will lead to the whole of the facts being placed before us, so that we shall be able to legislate in such a way as to establish the industry on a proper footing. This is neither a Queensland nor a New South Wales industry. It is a mere accident of circumstance that sugar is grown in those States. The question is not whether this legislation affects Queensland, but whether we are prepared lb establish what is a truly national industry. I should I’Vp this Bill to be passed as soon as possible for the reason that until it is law the industry will be hindered and hampered. The Premier of Queensland has repeatedly refused to advance money for the erection of crushing mills in the sugar districts, holding that until this legislation has been passed by the Commonwealth Parliament there can lie no guarantee as to the future of the industry.
– And when this Bill has been passed he will have some other exalte.
– No doubt. In August last I was one of a deputation that waited on Mr. Kidston with regard to the establishment of crushing mills. I was only a humble member of the Commonwealth Parliament, but I gave him my assurance that the intention of the Prime Minister, as repeatedly stated on the floor of this House, was to pass this legislation. Mr. Kidston could very well shelter himself, however, behind the statement that, although the assurance given by the Prime Minister and myself was very satisfactory, until the Bill was passed there could be no guarantee as to the actual position. 1 hope that this legislation will be quickly enacted, because it means that large tracts of country in Northern New South Wales and Northern Queensland will be immediately devoted to the cultivation of sugar. The policy of a White Australia has been adopted by the Commonwealth, and there is no suggestion that it should be altered. In 1906 it was emphatically indorsed by the people, and in the early part of this year it received a triumphant re-indorsement at the hands of the electors of the Commonwealth. If there was one plank in our platform upon which we insisted more vigorously than upon any other it was that relating to the maintenance of the White Australia policy. That was the first plank in our platform, and I particularly emphasized it during the election campaign. There may not seem to be a real danger of the re- introduction .of coloured labour, but it is not wise to wait until the enemy appears at our doors before we begin to prepare our defence. I am satisfied that unless we establish this industry permanently and solidly on the basis of white labour there will always be a danger of coloured labour in some form or other being introduced. Amongst the measures that the country expects of us, none is more certain of securing the indorsement of the people than is this. We claim to have been returned to pass a Land Tax Bill. That is one measure nf which ‘we frequently spoke, but I repeat that the first plank in our, platform was the maintenance of the White Australia policy, and the two Bills relating to it now before the House will receive the hearty commendation- of the people. Under the law as it now stands the bounty will automatically cease in 1913, and unless the Bill be passed the sugar growers will have no guarantee that it will be paid after that year. If we pass this Bill that time limit .will be obliterated, and there will be no danger of the bounty suddenly ceasing at the end of 19 13. ‘ The bounty to the white grower, makes all the difference between being able to make a Jiving by growing cane and losing money in trie enterprise. I f this’ Bill be passed it will be possible for the growers’ to’ obtain from the State Government advances tor the establishment of crushing mills. At present many people are debarred from entering the industry, because it is useless to grow cane unless there is a reasonable prospect of being able to crush it. As the honorable member for Capricornia has pointed out, the arrangements in some districts are such that a mill will only take cane grown within a certain area. What is known as the zone system is adopted. If the present time limitation be removed white cane-growers will be able to extend their operations, and I believe that in a very short time we shall see’ a revival and an extension and development of the .industry in New South Wales and Queensland that will make us independent of outside supplies. It is most unfortunate that Australia, with its vast areas eminently suitable for sugar culture, should have to import an enormous quantity of sugar.
– We export sugar..
– But we are not producing enough to overtake the local consumption. The consumption of sugar is increasing very rapidly all over the world. There is a growing desire in Australia, and elsewhere, for sweet goods, and an increasing demand for the use of sugar in some form or other.
– A very bad sign.
– I do not know that it is. ‘ Our jam industry is not a negligible quantity, and as our fruit production increases we shall have to use more sugar in preserving fruits. Its use for confectionery purposes must also increase. There is no limit to the possibilities of the sugar industry, if we can give an assurance that it will be protected. Honorable members have, perhaps, overlooked the fact that there is nothing at present to hinder a cane-grower from using any .coloured labour, even the lowest class of Chinese or kanakas, that can possibly be obtained in Australia; although, if he does so, he. is handicapped. Therefore it .is to our interest, and is in accord with the foundational principle of the White Australia policy, to assist the growth of sugar-cane by white labour and to protect the white growers from the competition of blackgrown sugar. I hope we shall be able in the near future to extend this principle,not only to cover operations in .the field; but also operations in the mill,, eliminating coloured labour, particularly Asiatic, from the sugar mills of Queensland. That is becoming a very prominent question. I hope I have shown that it would be wise to do away with the time limitation. It will simply mean that the growers will know that they can go on as they are now from the passing of the measure, and I am prepared to say that, perhaps within the next twelve months, we shall be able to so establish the industry and so hedge and protect it by our legislation, having the results of the proposed Royal Commission before us, that we will no longer need Excise and bounty regulations. The mere fact of Tariff protection will, I hope, be sufficient to guard it against the introduction of cheap-grown sugar from other countries, and help our growers, not only to overtake the Australian consumption, but also to get a share in the world’s sugar trade. I regard this legislation as much more pressing than same of the matters that have occupied the attention of the House, and I only hope the Government will see the need for urgent action in connexion with it, so that we may let the growers and workers, as well as the millers and the public, know that this Parliament is prepared to assist to establish any industry that will develop Australia on white labour lines.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Greene) adjourned.
House adjourned at10.35p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 October 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1910/19101006_reps_4_58/>.