4th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a m., and read prayers.
– My attention has been drawn to a misreport in last night’s Herald of yesterday’s proceedings in this chamber, due, no doubt, to the hurried “make-up” of the columns of that journal. The honorable member for Calare, speaking on the Tariff proposals then under consideration, is reported to have said -
He was up against giving any more protection to manufacturers while they remained in a position to deny just conditions to the workers.
The report continues -
Mr. Fenton : That’s the sort of support we want. He thought that a better way of preparing for tariff revision would be to appoint a Board of Trade to make the necessary investigations. (Opposition cheers.)
A mistake has been made in adding to my interjection the words used by the honorable member for Calare. I merely said, “ That is the sort of support we want.” The words following belong to the report of the principal speech. My own views on the subject were expressed subsequently in these words. I quote from the official report -
I want the whole Tariff considered from A to Z, even without the assistance of an InterState Commission or a Board of Trade. There are one or two items now before us which present attractions for discussion, but, under the circumstances, I shall not deal with them.
.- While the honorable member for New England was speaking last night, I interjected that the honorable member for South Sydney had, on the public platform, advocated an export duty on wheat. That was. denied, and as I thought that the honorable member for South Sydney might have been misrepresented, I have since done my best to discover the paragraph upon which my statement was founded, but have not been able to do so, although, so far as the time at my disposal would admit, I have searched both the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph. The only statement which I could find made by the honorable member bearing on the subject appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of 17thMarch, and is as follows: -
Legislation was required to prevent high prices ruling for the commoditiesof life. Years ago meat and bread were cheaper in New South Wales than to-day by 300 per cent. Why so? Because of the refrigerator. To-day they had millions more sheep and thousands more cattle in this country, yet the people were taxed’ to subsidize the meat steamer to carry the’ best of the products to the Old Country, leaving the people here to pay 300 per cent. more than they used to for the inferior portion of those products.
– I understood that the honorable member was making a personal explanation, but nothing that he has said indicates that he intends to do so.
– I had taken the position that some future Minister might use the wide powers given in the Bill under discussion to prohibit the exportation of certain goods, in toto, whether unsound or not, and in support of that view I mentioned that certain public bodies in Australia had advocated such a course of action.
– It seems to me that, under cover of a personal explanation, the honorable member is attempting to fasten something upon another honorable member. He cannot be permitted to do that.
– I am not attempting to fasten anything on any honorable member. The statement which I have read does not show that the honorable member for South Sydney advocated a duty on wheat, although he referred to the commodities of life. Therefore I must withdraw the statement I made yesterday that he had advocated an export duty on wheat, although the passage which I have read is evidence that I have not done my honorable friend any great injustice.
– Has the Minister of External Affairs read the paragraph in this morning’s newspapers regarding the administration of Papua, making a comprehensive attack upon it? As the statements are of a serious character, will he ascertain whether they are well founded, and, if not, protect the administration?
– I have not had time to more than glance at the article,and I cannot say to what extent the statements are accurate, but my impression is that Mr. Charpentier has hardly grasped the attitude of this country towards New Guinea. Our people desire that we should administer New Guinea primarily in the interests of its natives.
– In Wednesday evening’s Herald an article was published which purported to have been written by a member of the crew of one of the destroyers now in Western Australian waters, and seriously criticised the Government policy regarding ship construction. I ask whether the regulations of our naval forces allow the publication of information in the press by the officers and men serving therein, and, if not, whether the Acting Prime Minister will take steps to prevent the members of our forces from abusing their positions?
– I have not read the article referred to, but shall look into the matter if the honorable member will let me have a copy of it.
Allowance and Semi-official Postoffices - Wireless Telegraphy Stations - Wages in Clothing Contracts.
– By what amount will the expenditure of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department be increased by raising the pay to those in charge of semiofficial post-offices to £110 ayear?
– I shall be glad if the. honorable member will ask the question on Tuesday next.
– I hope that the Minister, when increasing the payments of those in charge of semi-official offices, will also increase the remuneration of those in charge of allowance offices, who now receive very small amounts, ranging from, I think, £1 to £10 a year.
– Those in charge of allowance offices are paid according to the work done, and are not called upon to devote the whole of their time to the service of the Department. In the semiofficial offices those in charge, however much or little work there may be to do, must devote eight hours a day to attending to the offices.
– They are paid fixed salaries?
– Yes, but they have not been getting as much as£110 a year. It is thought that, as we employ them for eight hours a day, and in some cases more - in regard to which I intend to make an alteration - they should receive £110a year. The practical effect of the change will be that the semi-official post-office will go. The position of those in charge of allowance post-offices is different. Sometimes the work of such offices does not occupy five minutes a day. and those in charge are paid in accordance with the work done, so much for every 1,000 letters, and so much for telephone and telegraph messages.
– What does the Minister mean by saying that the semiofficial office will go? What will be the effect of the declaration made last night by the Acting Prime Minister?
– It is intended to increase the remuneration of those in charge of semi-official post-offices to£110 a year, because it is thought that persons employed in the service of the Department for eight hours a day, and over twenty-one years of age, should receive at least that amount. Permanent employes of the Department could, however, be employed at very little more, because the minimum salary . for positions of the kind is £114, and we think that it would be well to substitute permanent officials in most cases.
– A grent many persons will be dispossessed.
– That is not intended. We do not mean to act harshly towards those now in charge of semi-official postoffices, but permanent officials will be placed in charge in future, and the offices will then become official, and those in charge will be under the administration of the Public Service Commissioner.
– Will that be for either official or allowance offices?
– The allowance postoffices are in an altogether different position.
– For instance, would the honorable member make a semi-official post-office which is doing £50 worth of business into an official office?
– That is not what we call a semi-official office; it is an allowance office. The allowance offices will not be interfered with, because we permit persons in charge of them to do other work. The revenue of an allowance office is sometimes only £15 a year. An office becomes semiofficial only when its revenue reaches ^200 a year. I do not intend to ask those at present in charge of semi-official offices to leave, as that would be a hardship, but in the future all appointments to such offices will be from the permanent staff, and the offices will become official. Of course, I shall have to consult the ‘Public Service Commissioner to see how the change can be arranged.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral make it clear whether the minimum proposed is to be limited to the semi-official post-offices, or whether it is to apply to both semi-official and allowance post-offices, irrespective of the volume of business done?
– It does not affect the allowance post-offices at all.
– It is reported in the papers that it does.
– I am not responsible for what appears in the papers. It would be idiotic to pay a person £110 for doing £10 worth of work in twelve months. Those in allowance post-offices can run a store or a business if they like. It is only those to whom we say, “ You have to devote the whole of your time to our service,” who will be paid a minimum of £10* per annum, if over the age of twenty-one.
– Is it the intention of the Postmaster-General to reduce the revenue of an official office from .£400 a year to what is considered the minimum revenue of. a semi-official office, namely, ^200 a year? Semi-official post-offices have to some extent been classified in this way : Where a. revenue of £300 was reached it was generally conceded by the Department that a Morse instrument might be introduced, but if the revenue was below that amount the office was considered to be sufficiently served by a telephone instrument. Does the Postmaster-General intend to fix official offices at a minimum revenue of £200 a year, and a Morse instrument ?
– I cannot say what will be done with regard to the Morse instrument, but official post-offices will in future start at a revenue of .£200 instead of ^400.
– And carry all the privileges ?
– The PostmasterGeneral promised some time ago to try, if possible, to appoint an officer to relieve contract postmasters and post mistresses in South Australia. Has anything been done in that direction?
– We are actually doing more. All that the honorable member asked for was that those people should be given a holiday for two weeks in the year, but immediately our new proposal takes effect most of them will receive from £25 to £30 a year more than they are getting now. A two weeks’ holiday would mean only about £6, so that this proposal really goes much further.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral considered whether the allowances granted under the scale which he has recently published, according to the business done in allowance offices, are proportionate to the payment which he proposes to give for semi-official offices in the future? If he has not looked into the matter, will he do so, with the view to revising the schedule in such a way that those in charge of allowance offices may receive proportionate payments ?
– I think those in charge of allowance post-offices are paid very fairly for the work that is actually done.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral any statement to make in regard to the position of the wireless telegraphy stations?
– We received from the contractors the day before yesterday their statement as to why we should adopt a certain site. I spent a considerable time yesterday in going into the matter extremely carefully with the Chief Electrical Engineer. I shall be ready to-day to lay a statement before the Cabinet, and immediately a Cabinet meeting is held, either to-day or to-morrow, I trust that something definite will be done. I am advised by the Law officers that it is a question that cannot be settled merely by the Postmaster-General, but that it must be settled by the Government. We are acting at every step under the advice of the Crown Law officers, and that is one reason why a Cabinet meeting is necessary to deal with the matter.
On 13th instant the honorable member for Echuca asked the following questions : -
The answers are as follow : -
Ordnance Branch - Liverpool Manoeuvre Area - Bendigo Cadets : Ammunition
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence whether it is a fact that the Ordnance Branch, which, up to now, has been under the Public Service Commissioner, is to be transferred to the Defence Department and brought under military regulations?
– I am not aware that there is to be any change except in one direction - namely, that in future all appointments to the Ordnance Branch of a non-clerical nature shall be appointments to the Naval and Military Forces and that members of the Permanent Forces shall have preference of employment. I shall ascertain the exact position for the honorable member.
-I wish to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether any definite understanding has yet been reached between the Federal and State Governments with regard to the Liverpool manoeuvre area ?
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice-
Whether, in accordance with previous practice, the Department will provide ammunition to enable the Junior Cadets to engage in the annual battalion rifle matches, to be held at the Bendigo cadet range on 24th and 25th inst. ?
– I am informed that it is the practice to issue to senior cadets forty rounds for each cadet for musketry course, and fifty rounds for practice, and to junior cadets forty rounds for musketry course and forty for practice. In previous years the total sum voted for this purpose has not been expended, and it has been usual to allot the excess to large centres, such as Ballarat and Bendigo, for the purpose of holding battalion matches. This year, however, it was found that the whole amount was required owing to the increase in the number of cadets, and, therefore, no money is available for battalion matches.
asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
What was the revenue for the current financial year up to 31st October -
What sum has been paid to the States for the four months?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
If he. has seen the article in question, will he cause a thorough investigation and report to be made regarding the following matters : -
– The answer to both of the honorable member’s questions is” Yes.”
Debate resumed from 17th November (vide page 6376), on motion by Mr. Tudor-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– It seems that we are destined to have this cordon of restrictive regulations, particularly around the producers of Australia, made tighter and tighter as the years go by. I am not averse to regulations which will ensure that no advantage is taken of lax supervision to enable producers to send away deleterious articles which do no credit to Australia or to themselves. But that is quite a different proposition from the powers which the Government desire to take in this measure. In fact, this is only another screw in addition to those which have already been turned in various Acts in years gone by. A while ago a Commerce Bill was before this House, and we spent many days trying to get it down to reasonable proportions. And now, notwithstanding all our efforts, the Department of Trade and Customs is making another turn of the screw to eliminate the modifications which were inserted in that Bill. The Minister, under this measure, proposes to take further power to prescribe conditions as to the purity and soundness of exports, and their freedom from disease. I do not know how he is to exercise that power. How can he say any more than can those who are interested in shipping sound butter to the other end of the world whether or not butter is sound ?
– Does not the honorable member think that he ought to have such a power?
– He should have power to do what he can, and no more. My complaint is that he is taking powers which he cannot exercise with the slightest degree of intelligence.
– Then he will not exercise such powers.
– The honorable member shows, by his interjection, that he does not know much about the subject. The trouble is that the Minister does exercise such powers, and that all sortsof troubles consequently arise in that connexion. Perhaps the honorable member is not aware that the Government are branding as sound, fruit which, when it reaches London, is found to be rotten.
– Because of a disease of which very little is known.
– Was not the same thing done by the Government of which the honorable member was a member?
– I do not know.
– All the fruit exported last season was branded whilst the Fusion Government were in office. If that was a wrong thing to do, why did not the Government alter the system?
– Had we the power ?
– Yes; the Government had power to alter the regulation.
– Owing to the unconscionable squealing in which the honorable member and others indulged during the whole of last session, we had neither the power nor the opportunity to do many things that we should have liked to do. We did what we could, and the little we did was possible only by the use of the “gag,”forthe passing of which honorable members sitting below the gangway were responsible. The Department is bringing the name and reputation of Australia into disrepute ; and dragging the name of the Government into the mire, by branding as sound fruit which they cannot guarantee to be sound when it reaches the other side of the world. Under this Bill, further powers of the kind are being taken, with a view, I presume, to their exercise. I do not object to the Minister having all the power that he wants to prescribe a standard for foods, the purity of which he may and can control. No one desires to see the faker of adulterated goods given the slightest quarter, for he is an enemy to his race, as well as to the reputation of his country. I would call attention specially to paragraph b of proposed new section 112, under which the Governor-General may prohibit the exportation of any goods “ the exportation of which would, in his opinion, be harmful to the Commonwealth.” Who is to determine what exports would be harmful to the Commonwealth ? Some clerk in the Minister’s office. The Minister himself will have nothing to do with this supervision. He will have simply to do that which is suggested to him by some responsible clerk in his office. It is thus proposed to place this power in the hands of a man in the Department who may or may not have an intimate knowledge of the matter which he is called upon to decide, and who may hold that the exportation of certain goods would be harmful to the Commonwealth, and should, therefore, be prohibited. Some time ago the Minister in this House promised that he would take care that his officers made full inquiry into certain matters then brought forward, which all bore upon the purity of foods and their inspection and control. He promised that the producers of the country would be consulted before a decision was arrived at. Has he made any of those inquiries in connexion with the framing of this measure? Why is it that when we frame proposals in relation to almost every other matter, we are willing to obtain information from practically every available quarter, whereas, in matters relating to the primary industries, we seem to ignore the practical experience of Australians. If this were a measure affecting manufacturers the Minister would be consulting experts throughout Australia.
– Experts in these matters - some of those most largely interested in exporting goods from Australia - have been consulted in connexion with the very provision to which the honorable member has just referred.
– Can the honorable member give us any names?
– I cannot.
– That is unfortunate. I should like to know whom the honorable member has consulted.
– I presume that he has consulted Mr. Crowe, the Chief Dairy Expert in this State.
– Is Mr. Crowe a. judge of all these matters? Is he an expert in regard to fruit, butter, hides, and so forth?
– He is a butter expert.
– My complaint
U that one officer of the Department is practically’ to be given the powers of a Czar in determining what articles may be exported. I suppose, however, that it is useless to worry about this matter, because the ‘Bill is to be passed. A good many other matters are dealt with by this House without the slightest consideration.
– Whose fault is that?
– The fault of the honorable member for one. He has been like a dumb dog since the present Government came into power.
– The honorable member accused him of talking too frequently last session.
– His talk last session was of a nonsensical or purely obstructive order, but now, when he could talk to some little purpose, we do not hear from him. Under clause 15 power is taken to prescribe -
The nature size and material of the packages in which imported goods, or goods for export, or. goods for conveyance coastwise from any State to. any other State, are to be packed, or the coverings with which they are to be wrapped.
That is to say, the Minister is to tell the fruit-growers how they shall pack their fruit; and in what sized boxes they shall export it.
– They have asked for that.
– All that I know is that they have asked for legislation providing for the use of a uniform case. That is not contemplated under this provision. Have they asked the Minister to dictate to them the kind of paper in which they should wrap their fruit?
– Yet the honorable member is taking power under this Bill to do even that. Is the honorable gentleman going to station a man at every orchard in the Commonwealth to see that every orange that is placed in a case is free from disease, and to show the orchardists how to wrap every orange in a particular piece of paper? All these things are ridiculous.
– :It is more important to consider the drying or preserving of lemons. “Mr. JOSEPH COOK.- If the honorable member would address himself to such a problem, he might do some good for the people of Australia. There are many methods of helping the people, but the Minister does not avail himself of them. There are many diseases of which orchardists know very little, and if the honorable gentleman would address himself to the provision of the best scientific expert advice obtainable he would do some good. Under this provision, however, he will do no good. He will make it simply impossible for many people to carry on their business as they ought to do, so tightly is he drawing round them the departmental regulations. If he could help them in this way I should not object, but it seems to me. that he is only going to land the Government in further trouble. What is the use of prescribing that fruit for export shall be sound, when the Minister cannot, by any possibility, foretell whether or not it will be sound when it gets to the other side of the world? Diseases develop on the voyage Home. Even the rancid taste in butter will develop on a voyage. No one can provide against that, and how absurd it is for the Department to brand certain things as sound when they leave here in view of the fact that no man is able to say that they will be sound when they get to the other side of the world at the end of a six or eight weeks’ journey.
–That is an argument for no inspection.
– No, it is an argument for inspection on such lines as will prove to be useful and reasonable. It certainly is an argument for no inspection in respect of the soundness of fruit and the grading of the quality of butter. If such a system were practicable, I should say let us follow it by all means, but why try to do something which, admittedly, no one can do. It is far wiser for the Government to confine themselves to matters which they are able to compass; but, in regard to a matter of which our present knowledge is very small, and which involves contingencies, we cannot foresee or provide against, why have regulations such as are proposed? The Government intend to do what the House on a previous occasion decided should not be done. The growers at present are vexed out of their lives, and do not know which way to turn in order to comply with regulations. They are treated roughly enough by the States, and now the Commonwealth is going to take a turn; and I really think that the interference and dictation will prove so onerous and vexatious that, in despair, they will ask the Government to take the industry over, and relieve them of the responsibility.
– When in England I inspected some Australian fruit, and there is no doubt that in some cases it had become bad on the voyage, owing to a disease which cannot be detected, but which softens and rots the fruit.
– Bitter pit?
– I do not think that is the disease, but rather one which originates at the core, and works its way to the surface. The wise course is to endeavour to discover the cause of this disease; but there is no doubt that the cases should be marked, declaring that as far as is known the contents are clean. There is no doubt that this marking does the industry some good so far as the English market is concerned.
– It does no good.
– It does do good, as I ascertained from Mr. Preedy, who was the officer who received the fruit in England.
– He is not an all round expert.
– He is a good man, and was able to obtain for me more information than I could have obtained from any other source. Mr. Preedy does not pretend to be an expert, but he performed his duties with great care and assiduity.
– I understand that he posed as an expert.
– No; but, as I say, he took a very great interest in the matter, and obtained most valuable information. There is a disease, especially in apples, which it is frequently very hard to detect until some time after they have left Australia.
– There are three or four other diseases that develop on the voyage.
– This is one of the worst, because the fruit becomes absolutely rotten afterwards. Apparently the honorable member for Parramatta would like us to adopt the doctrine of laissez faire, as formerly in New South Wales, and allow every exporter to do as he likes.
– Who suggested that?
– We should use every effort to obtain information in regard to these diseases; and we shall not make many mistakes in the marking of the fruit. We cannot expect everythingto be in “ apple pie order “ at the first, but we ought to make most strenuous efforts to detect disease.
– The Government are doing nothing to detect disease, and that is my complaint.
– The honorable member evidently knows very little of what is going on. Tasmania is doing more in this direction than perhaps any other State. There are boards and inspectors, who keep an eye on the orchards from the blossom to the fruit; and month by month any appearance of disease is recorded, and efforts made to prevent its spread.
– The honorable member misunderstands me; I say that the Government are doing nothing.
– The Government are trying, and the honorable member is endeavouring to stop them.
– The official head of the Department is a very astute man, and he is doing everything possible.
– He is not a scientist, and this is a scientific question.
– But he can use the knowledge of scientists; and a man who can do that is, perhaps, more useful than the scientist himself. At any rate, I wish to impress on the House that every precaution is being taken. As to the proposed measures being impossible, they are being carried out in New Zealand, where the conditions, when I was there, were a long way ahead of those in New South Wales, not only in regard to fruit, but in regard to meat and all other exports. This established so much confidence that buyers in England used to telegraph out to their agents to buy on the New Zealand Government stamp.
– That is what killed the industry to a great extent in New Zealand !
– The industry is not killed in New Zealand, but is better than ever it was. A few men in the honorable member’s electorate would like to be able to send rotten butter to England.
– The honorable member knows nothing about the matter !
– I know all about it; they wish to send butter to England and to convert it into any quality they like there.
– All our factories are cooperative factories.’
– The honorable member for Hume is making a most damaging statement in regard to one of Australia’s best industries.
– I am only stating facts.
– The statement is not according to fact.
– The honorable member does not know anything of the facts.
– The statements of the . honorable member for Hume are absolutely contrary to the fact.
– An attempt was deliberately made when I was Minister, and, perhaps, is being made now, to export butter from that particular part of the country of a quality which should not have been exported; and one of the principal men concerned in that attempt was Mr. Meares.
– Mr. Meares never manufactured a pound of butter in his life.
– But he is an agent, and has to do with agents; and he was the means of preventing the Government doing a great deal that ought to have been done.
– He is the best friend of co-operation in New South Wales, as the honorable member is its worst enemy.
– When a certain state of things exists in a matter of this kind, it is better that it should be made.
– lt is not true.
– The Government ought to have every power to stop any such attempts as were made in the northern districts of New South Wales ; and I hope those attempts have been stopped.
– That is a libel on the districts concerned.
– I am speaking not in the interests of private individuals, but in the interests of the industry, and of the community generally, and contending that the butter exported ought to be properly marked. There is no doubt that in this connexion New Zealand was ahead of New South Wales.
– Why is it that New South Wales is ahead of New Zealand to-day?
– I have yet to learn that that is so; but, in any case, it would only show that good has resulted from the stringent measures taken by the Government. I have no desire to do private individuals or firms any harm, but there is no doubt that there were machinations on the part of agents.
– And we wiped the agents out !
– When the honorable member has had a little experience he will be able to talk with some authority ; but he is rushing into this question without proper knowledge. He thinks that because he lives in the district he knows all about the industry.
– I know more about it than does the honorable member.
– I did my best to stop the machinations ; and the man, whose name I have mentioned, did more to obstruct proper exportation, especially of butter, than any one in the country.
– No one has done so much for the trade ! “
– Is it not a cowardly thing to attack a man who cannot answer back ?
– The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I simply asked the honorable member if he did not think it was cowardly to attack a man who was absent, and could not defend himself.
– The honorable member must withdraw the imputation that the honorable member for Hume is doing a cowardly thing.
– Then I withdraw the remark.
– I have said the same thing dozens of times, and to the man’s own face. The officials of the Treasury, and the Home Office, and myself, tried all we could to have these markings more stringently regulated, and when 1 met the opposition to which I have referred, I gave vent to my feelings to the individual, and about him; so that there is no cowardice, so far as I am concerned. I am prepared to take all responsibility for what I say, and I repeat that there was an attempt made to allow things to go on as before. ‘
– These are all general statements !
– Do be quiet for a time ! Those persons did their best to stop the Government from taking any action. _
– They have stopped the Government doing anything.
– Then I am sorry to hear it.
– I mean in the matter of grade-marking.
– The honorable member thinks he is able to speak without fear of contradiction ; but the Government still have a great deal to do in the matter of grade-marking.
– There is nothing grademarked - not a pound of butter goes out grade-marked.
– The exporters grademarked themselves, and then came squealing to me, because they thought that was to be altered. The honorable member for Richmond himself has been to me within the last fortnight;
– That is another matter altogether.
– No doubt it is unpleasant to persons who have been allowed to do as they like, to now be subjected to regulations ; but we must not forget that our exports have got us a bad name, not only in the case of butter, but in the case of fruit from Tasmania. There were one or two cases in which small, miserable fruit was sent to England, and, because it paid better -to sell this as inferior stuff, it was dumped on the’ market for a season, to the great injury of our reputation.
– There were 83,000 cases from Tasmania stopped in one year.
– I know there were a great number. I have no interest in this matter, except as a public man ; and I desire to see all our exports graded in such a way that the purchasers may depend on absolute freedom from disease. This must lead to better prices.
– It does not do any such thing.
– I have examined fruit and meat exports. On three occasions I went through the Smithfield market, and I also inspected fruit brought to England by the Orient Company’s vessels.
– It is ridiculous for +he honorable member to assume that he knows more about this matter than do those who have been engaged in the export trade all their lives.
– The representatives of the Commonwealth know a good deal about the export trade, but obstruction like that of the honorable member today prevents the Government from assisting them in their work as they should be assisted. I hope that the Minister will take every power that he can get, and will exercise those powers when needful. This may not be congenial to some who are in the export trade, who wish to make a profit which could not be made by conforming to regulations framed in the best interests of the country. No country should be able to export better meat, fruit, or other products than we could send away, and, if possible, not a case nor a carcass should be exported without undue inspection.
.’- Honorable members know the importance of our export trade in meat, fruit, butter, and other produce, and the authorities should be clothed with sufficient power to insure that none but good and sound produce is sent away.- It is in the interests, not only of the community in general, but’ also of the producers, that a proper standard should be insisted upon. But the Bill gives the Minister a power which is too wide, and which may be harmfully used. Of course, if we could be sure that the administration would always act with discretion and care, there would be nothing to fear, but it is possible that if a cry were raised against Australian produce, and a scare created, restrictions would be put on the export trade which were not warranted, and would be detrimental to the producers.
– It seems to be thought that, no matter how delicate and incapable of scientific determination the cause of trouble may be, it can be got rid of by regulation.
– I am afraid that, if the Minister took fright, he might act hurriedly, and thus cause enormous loss to our producers.
– Has there not been much loss through the want of proper export regulations? We lost our meat trade with the Philippines’ for that reason.
– The authorities should have reasonable power to control our exports, so that those buying from us may be’ certain of getting good and sound stuff ; but I am afraid of’ damage being inflicted on the producers by indiscreet administration. We were sending away butter branded to indicate that it was of a certain standard.
– Butter has never been sent away with the Commonwealth brand upon it.
– When butter is marked “ second class,” buyers at the other end will not pay as much for it as they may have to pay for butter of the same quality which is in the market, but not so branded, and thus our shippers lose. Then, again, deterioration sometimes occurs on the voyage, from causes which are unknown to the best chemists. Therefore, we must be careful not to impose restrictions which will unduly hamper exports.
– What restriction on exportation is it to certify to the quality of an article?
– Injury has been done by certifying that an article is of a certain quality, because on the voyage deterioration has set in. The honorable member for Hume has just mentioned that apples, to all appearances sound when they left Australia, have, on being unpacked on the other side of the world, been found unfit for consumption, and, therefore, unsaleable. If the administration is careful, no harm will be done by extending the powers of the Minister, but paragraph b of proposed new section 112, which empowers the Governor-General to prohibit the exportation of any goods which, in his opinion, it would be harmful to the Commonwealth to allow to be exported, gives the Minister of the day a very dangerous power. If we knew that only the exportation of unsound produce would be prohibited, the position would be different. But the provision to which I refer enables the Minister to prohibit the exportation of anything. There has recently been a movement to prohibit the exportation of hides, and the Bill empowers the Minister to do this. Surely such a power is unnecessary.
– We have a wider power in regard to the prohibition of imports. What amendment does the honorable member suggest? Honorable members opposite have denounced the provision in the Bill, but none of them has come forward with a practical suggestion for its amendment.
– I am here not to suggest an amendment, but to give my reasons for objecting to the provision. My chief objection to it is that the Minister might act unreasonably, and impose a prohibition contrary to the best interests of the country. We do not wish that to happen, and should not give to Ministers unlimited powers, unless reason is shown for doing, so.
– The honorable member would deprive the Government of all power.
– The Government should have sufficient power to be able to give effect to the laws of the country, but this power is not necessary for that purpose. I should like to know how the Minister intends to use it, and why he asks for it. . Until he gives a satisfactory explanation, I shall be justified in opposing the provision. It might happen, if the price of wheat rose considerably above the normal, that the Minister of the day would be influenced to exercise this power in the interest of a section of the community, and to prohibit the exportation of wheat for a certain period, which would do great harm to the producers and to the communityUntil I get some assurance that it is not possible to use the clause in that way, I shall continue my opposition to it.
.- There does not appear to be a great difference of opinion in the House as to the necessity for some power over exports equal, to that now possessed to regulate imports. The honorable member for Wilmot takes exception to the- Bill only because he considers that the Minister should not be vested with the power set out in clause 4, but how is this country to be properly governed unless Ministers are vested with authority to control the export of produce, and other matters? The honorable member, like others, has raised the question of the exportation of wheat. I was surprised last night, when leading members of the Opposition were agreed as to the necessity of the Bill, to hear other honorable members on that side bring in thequestion of the export of wheat, not because it had anything to do with the measure, but because they thought it would have some influence in the country on the farmers’ vote. The honorable member for Wentworth and the honorable member for Echuca tried to fasten on the honorable member for South Sydney a statement that he was in favour of an export duty on wheat, and that he had said so from the public platform.
– If he did not say it he indicated it.
– We have had the honorable member’s denial of that statement to-day, and I am sorry that in this Chamber an honorable member’s denial is not accepted with the best of grace, instead of other matters being dragged in.
– Order. The honorable member must not discuss that question.
– The honorable member for Wilmot contended that in clause 4 we propose, in the- event of a shortage of wheat in this country, and the price to the consumer being considerably enhanced because of the export of wheat, to give power to- the Minister to forbid its export. No Government would interfere iw ordinary circumstances, or if there was only a slightly increased price. Let me put. to the honorable member the other extreme view. Suppose there was a famine in this country, and our wheat was being sent away because there was a great demand for it elsewhere, does the honorable member contend that the Minister should not have power to step in and prevent our people from starving for want of bread? The honorable member’s argument practically means that, we should have no control over our own production, but should leave everything to those who happen to be managing the business, irrespective of whether their actions had the effect of wiping out our own. people. We might have a “famine such as was experienced in India a few years, ago-.
– What does the honorable, member suggest that: the Minister should do in those circumstances?
– He should do the best he possibly could in the circumstances to obtain sufficient food for the people to subsist upon. That power must be left to; the Minister.
– What has that to do with this Bill?
– It has a great deal to do with the contention of the honorable member for Wilmot. A good deal said by honorable members on the other side has not had much to do with the Bill, but has been intended to make political capital in the country.
– The honorable member is trying to make a little now.
– I am trying to refute what has been said by honorable members opposite, and the honorable member. does not like it. Do the Opposition contend that, because this happens to be a Labour Government, it will not look after the interests of Australia just as any other Government would ? Is it seriously suggested that Ministers should not have power under this measure to prohibit exports in certain cases of emergency ? Every one must admit that the present Minister of Trade and Customs is just as well acquainted with the requirements of Australia as is any other man who could be put in that position. We know that he is reasonable, and that he will exercise any reasonable powers vested in him in a reasonable way.
– This is a purely party speech.
– There is no party aspect about it ; but two or three distinctly party speeches were made last night, and personal explanations had to be made this morning to try to remove the party effect of them, when their authors were confronted with proof that what they had stated was absolutely untrue. The honorable member for Parramatta dealt with the question of the soundness of fruit for export. I admit that it is very difficult to decide whether fruit will be sound when it reaches another part of the world, although sound when passed’ for export here. In many cases disease will develop after fruit has been shipped. Scientists are expert mentingin New South Wales all the time to ascertain how these diseases develop, and how they can best be eradicated. This work takes considerable time and expense,, but it is necessary, in the interests of the orchardists themselves, and of the community generally. The Minister might take into consideration the possibility of fruit changing in condition before reaching, its destination. The honorable member for. Parramatta also complained about the officers ; but how are we to carry on the different Departments of the Commonwealth without them? Who are to be substitutedfor them? We can employ scientists if necessary, as well as officers ; but we must have some one to control matters for the Department. Consequently I see no objection to the appointment of an officer to deal with this matter. The honorable member for Parramatta seems to think that the officer will do- things that would be better left undone, but I contend that he will be wrapped1 up- in his work, and know that it is his duty to do his best in the interests of Australia. He will, therefore, be very careful, in carrying out his work of inspection, to do nothing that will in any way interfere with the welfare of the people. From the point of view of the producers themselves, it is better that we should educate them up to the necessity of being careful.
– The officers do not educate them ; they simply block their produce.
– I hold a different opinion. We should also try, as far as> possible, to eradicate the different diseases of fruit; and, as we are settling so many people on the land, and they will have to make a livelihood and get a market somewhere, we should instruct them, as far as possible, in their own interests. Thousands of people with no experience are becoming orchardists, and they must be educated in the diseases that attack fruit, and the best means of production. Consequently, the introduction of a system of inspection, together with the other work that the scientists are doing, will tend to produce fruit sounder and freer from disease, and thus benefit the products and the community generally. One of the great works which this Parliament must undertake is to place Australia on a strong footing in competition with other nations. If no power is to be vested in the Government, and things are to be allowed to be carried on in a loose way, our products, when sent to other parts of the world, will very likely be condemned, and Australia will suffer. The powers asked for in this measure are absolutely necessary. Australian interests must be placed in a much stronger position than at present. I agree with the Minister that if there had been a more rigid inspection in regard to the shipment of meat to the Philippine Islands, it would have been better for all concerned. Probably it will take Australia years and years to get over the effect of the condemnation of those two consignments.
– They are getting over it now. They are exporting meat to America.
– There were two shipments, and the Philippines will not take another carcass from us.
– The Minister’s information confirms my impression, and emphasizes the necessity for the exercise of care. Any nation that is competing for outside markets must have a rigid system of inspection as a guarantee to its cus tomers that its goods are sound, as far as that can possibly be insured. The question of butter has been mentioned, and, in that connexion, whilst it is just as necessary to deal with butter as with any other article of export, the Minister will have to be very careful what he is doing. I quite admit that it is requisite that butter should be inspected and graded, but “ I also know that if you go beyond the grading, and begin marking or branding, some butter which has been given an inferior brand at this end may improve in condition before it reaches the market, and will still have to be sold according to the lower brand placed on it. The Minister, in dealing with the export of butter, must not allow his officers to induce him to sanction regulations which would react to the detriment1 of the Australian producer without any corresponding benefit to the community. It can be clearly shown that butter graded here in a certain condition may be found to be inferior when it reaches its destination, while other butter may go through exactly the reverse process. I hope the Minister will not lose sight of statements made by different honorable members in that regard, because the question of the grading of butter is one of considerable importance to the producers, and great care will have to be exercised, although I admit that we must have some supervision of our exports in the interests of the country. Without ‘it we shall find ourselves shut out of the markets of the world, just when we are doing our best to induce people to settle in Australia, and help to expand the volume of our production. I am sure the present Minister will do his duty by the producers of Australia, and therefore I have no misgivings in giving him the powers contained in this measure.
– This Bill introduces another side of the Customs Department - the export side - with which we have not been so familiar as we have been with the import side. As a rule, chief consideration has been given to the importation rather than to the exportation of goods, and to the conditions under which our imports are placed upon the market. In this Bill, however, the Minister takes power to deal principally with the exportation of our primary products, and that being so, it is our duty to give it the most careful consideration. If the Commonwealth is to be developed we must encourage settlement under conditions that will stimulate our primary industries, and make them remunerative undertakings. I believe that the Bill has been introduced with that object in view, and that the intention of the Minister and his officers is that under it such action shall be taken as will force our exports to be of such a quality that they will command a ready market anywhere. Our population is not nearly large enough to consume all that we produce, and our primary producers have thus to compete in the markets of the world. We hope that we may yet be able to overtake the surplus. But since we have to export largely, it is advisable that we should take steps to protect the interests of honest producers. I think, that the Minister proposes, under this Bill, to endeavour to protect those who are trying to place on the markets of the world the very best that can be produced - whether it be wheat, meat, fruit, or butter - against those who are placing’ on the market an article which, although it may suit their individual purposes to sell it, is likely to injure the reputation of Australia. There can be no question as to the desirableness of such supervision. The only difficulty is as to the method by which it shall be carried out, and the extent to which these powers shall be exercised. I gathered from the attitude rather than from the statement made by the Minister a few moments ago that he would be prepared to consider an amendment of clause 4 which would carry out what is evidently the intention of the House. Our desire is that only such powers shall be taken as will enable the Minister to prevent the exportation of goods that are harmful, deleterious, or likely to injure the reputation of Australian products. T think that this desire could be met by inserting after the word “ would “ in paragraph b-
– The honorable member is now proceeding to disuss details which should be dealt with in Committee.
– I merely proposed to make a suggestion which I thought would shorten the debate. I think we might declare in clause 4 that the export of goods should be prohibited only when their nature or quality is such as to make them unfit for human consumption. With such a power, we could have prevented the exportation of certain meat to the Philippines, to which reference has been made. If upon inspection it had been found to be unfit for human consumption, no one could have taken exception to the prohibition of its exportation. But a number of honorable members fear that, in exercising this power, a Minister at some future date might, with a view to affecting prices, adopt such stringent methods as would prevent the exportation of certain goods. The result to the trade generally would be even worse under such hampering conditions. We have already had some little experience in that regard in connexion with the export of butter, and I was glad to hear the Minister say that that export would not come within the scope of this measure.
– I did not say that. What I said was that the Commerce Act regulations in regard to the question of moisture and grading would not »be dealt with under this Bill, but that honorable members would have an opportunity to discuss them before they came into force. I said that unless I could lay them on the table of the House this session I should not propose to bring them into operation before next session.
– Those engaged in the export of butter do not ask that it shall be practically free from inspection. They are willing that butter for export shall be inspected, but they contend that the only mark placed upon it by the Government should be one to the effect that it is fit for export. We object to the Government placing relative marks on butter-boxes. We object to their so branding butter as to declare that the quality of one class exceeds, to a certain extent, that of another, and thus to pronounce, as to quality, an opinion, which must, to a very large extent, regulate prices on. the market. Various statements have been made as to the way in which butter is handled by speculators and others, and I wish to say in passing that practically all the butter that we export is now handled by co-operative movement. The speculator, whom we have good reason to fear, has practically been removed from the trade. The man who used to purchase butter in Australia, and export it with a view to securing a profit, is now scarcely recognised, and is hardly to be found in the Commonwealth. The conditions prevailing in New Zealand allow more room for the operation of speculators, because, I understand that purchasers in London are daily buying New Zealand butter on the grading system for the reason that it enables them to send cablegrams to their agents in New Zealand directing them to buy at a certain price, butter that carries a certain grade. Such a system enables the speculator to come in, but here we do not deal with him.
– Does the honorable member say that there is not still a very large speculative business in butter done in Sussexstreet, Sydney?
– It is largely wiped out. A large number of firms, who may be regarded by some persons as speculators, are now acting merely as forwarding agents. Any butter factory mayarrange with quite a number of large firms, in Sydney to handle and ship its produce, to place it on the market, and to sell it on commission. That is the system under which a large quantity of butter is disposed of to-day. In comparing the Commonwealth system with that prevailing in other countries, it is not fair to assume that certain results, so far as prices are concerned, follow from a certain basis of treatment. The statement has been made that, owing to the grading and marking of butter exported from New Zealand and Denmark, higher prices are obtained for it than are obtainable in respect of the Australian article. That is not the reason for the difference in prices. Other factors contribute more largely to it. The most important of these is -that in New Zealand, and particularly in Denmark, milk is collected from .the farmers every morning, and separated at central factories under a uniform system. In Australia, on the other hand, owing to our great distances many farmers are unable to deliver their milk at central factories, and have to use private separators. They sell their cream, and not their milk, to the factories. Consequently the milk is separated under differing conditions on every farm, and individual farmers, instead of the factories, are responsible for the condition of the cream. That, more than any other fact, is responsible for the varying quality of our butter. The honorable member for Hunter made a very important suggestion regarding the inspection of products, and one which, though valuable, is really beyond the scope of this Bill. He urged that the system of inspection that will be carried out under it would have the effect of educating the people. Whilst I am sure that he is anxious that those engaged in primary industries shall be educated to produce only the best commodities, this Bill as it stands will not enable such education to be given. If an article intended for export is found to be below the quality prescribed it can be prohibited, but there will be no means of educating the people responsible for it to produce a better article.. I hope that the Government at an earlydate will take up the proposals made by their predecessors for .the establishment of an Agricultural Bureau, and when such an institution is established the object which the honorable member so highly appreciates can be carried into effect. I rose more particularly to draw attention to paragraph b of proposed new section 112, to which exception has been taken, and to point out that the difficulty could be overcome by such an. amendment as that which I have suggested.
.- I have listened attentively to the arguments of the Opposition, and as my name was drawn into the debate last night, I think it well to explain my views on certain matters concerning which there seems to be a misunderstanding. The honorable member for Cowper and others have told us that butter-making is a purely co-operative effort, and that the industry should therefore be regarded as “ the pure merino.” I remember, however, that some nine months ago an attempt was made to raise the price of butter to the consumer. The Cold Storage was filled with butter, and only a certain number of boxes per day were sold for local consumption. In this way it was hoped to raise the prices. I hold that the Minister has a right to say that no butter shall be exported if a ring is operating to fleece the people - causing, as they could, prices to go up to an extraordinary extent by exporting largely and refusing to placemuch butter on the local market.
– That is not too bad ! :Mr. RILEY - It is one of the reasonsfor the power now proposed to be taken.
– Is the Bill to prevent such a thing ?
– No ; but we never know what may happen. There is a tendency inthe butter industry, as in other industries, to regulate prices; and if that regulationis sought to be brought about by exportation in the case of local .shortage, it is quite proper that the Minister should have power to step in. This, of course, could’ be done without injuring the producers inany way. About nine months ago, an attempt was ‘ made to raise the price of butter, but the public met that by simply refusing to buy.
– When the American Fleet was here there was an attempt to put up the price of butter to 2s. or 3s. per lb.
– That was another occasion, and it’ only shows how much we are in the hands of people who claim to have wiped the middleman out. In all this the farmer does not benefit; and the facts only prove .how necessary it is that the Minister should have the proposed power. A ship was wrecked on the coast, and over 1,000 cases of butter were brought back to Melbourne. Should the Minister not have the power to say whether or not that butter may be re-exported? It was desired to re-ship this cargo, not in the interests of the farmer, but in the interests of the insurance company.
– The Minister has power now to prevent such re-exportation.
– I have not the power to prohibit that butter being re-exported.
– This Bill will give the Minister all the power that is necessary under such circumstances. A good deal has been said about the exportation of bides and skins; and I should like to explain my position in the matter. I have no interest in advocating that farmers should be taxed, or should not obtain the best value for their hides.
– An export duty is not in the interests of the farmer.
– These questions have to be regarded from different points, of view. The honorable member represents a country constituency, while I am a city representative.
– Take a national -view !
– In Botany, which is in my electorate, the tanning industry has been long established, but to-day there are not so many men employed in it as there were twenty years ago. This is not because there are not more hides and skins, but because there is a large demand for hides in America and elsewhere, owing to the development of the motor car trade. The result is that large quantities of hides are exported, and work that used to be done here is now done in Japan, Germany, and America. Of course, the price of local leather has gone up, and it may be that the farmers are thereby reaping a temporary advantage.
– The- local tanner has the raw material right on the spot.
– But the local tanner has to buy in open market against the other buyers, who outbid him. What I fear is that, in time, foreign buyers will crush out the local buyers, and then the farmer will not obtain so high a price as he would under ordinary circumstances, because there will be fewer buyers, who will be able to arrange among themselves as to what prices they will give.
– The farmer, like other producers, will export his hides to the markets of the world.
– I am afraid the honorable member does not quite understand the point. What I am urging is that the Minister should have power to step in when there is a ring which operates to the prejudice of our own people ; because> as I say, I fear that without some such power the farmer, as well as the tanner, will suffer in the future. How are we to increase our population if we are only producers of the raw material ? We have the men and thi skill to produce leather, but we are not producing enough for our own consumption, owing to the causes I have mentioned.
– That is a matter that ought to be dealt with by means of an import duty.
– I do not care how it is dealt with, so long as the industry is protected.
– Where would the honorable member draw the line?
– I should take care that there were enough hides and skins for the requirements of our own local manufactures, with the object of eventually exporting the finished article.
– That would reduce our export trade by £2,000,000 per annum.
– That is only an assumption. The Minister should also have power in another direction. At one time, when there was a shortage of fodder in New South Wales, and, of course, an increase in prices, fodder continued to be exported to Africa by gamblers on the market. The result was that, in the city of Sydney, milk went up in price, while the employes in the industry were unable to obtain fair conditions, owing to the cost of fodder. The Minister ought to have power to prevent the exportation of any commodities of which we are short; and I agree with the honorable member for Hunter that, in case of a wheat famine, no man should be allowed to gamble in wheat exportation.
– That is to say, when the farmers are able to get good prices, the honorable member would step in and stop them ?
– There is a difference between good prices and famine prices ; and I am totally opposed to gambling in foodstuffs. I do not say that the farmers should not get good prices, but they never do get the advantage of high prices, because, as a rule, they sell their crops before they are reaped.
– The farmers would not export if they could not get better prices thereby.
– Of course, we must export if we are to develop ; but we must not export to the prejudice of our home consumption.
– The honorable member wishes to keep prices down in the local market ?
– Yes ; there is no doubt about that. The late Premier of New South Wales has told us that the price of foodstuffs has risen 30 per cent.
– The honorable member desires high wages, but low prices !
– There must be high wages when the prices of commodities rise. The honorable member for Parramatta has suggested that we are opposed to the farmer getting high prices when there is a demand for his commodities ; but who creates the demand ? The man who speculates in wheat and exports is the man who causes the shortage. It is possible to ship wheat to the Old Country, and there sell it cheaper than in Australia.
– That is not in accordance with fact !
– I think the honorable member will find that Australian wheat, made into bread, is sold in London a farthing a loaf cheaper than here.
– The honorable member for Echuca is a miller, and ought to know.
– He is one of the Combine.
– If the honorable member for Echuca is a miller, he knows the tricks of the trade.
– The honorable member’s statement is not a fact as applied to grain.
– I am making the statement as applied to bread.
– There is no such thing as Australian flour manufactured in England and sold as bread.
– If millers combine, as they have done, and decide to raise the price of bread by exporting-
– That statement is not true.
– But supposing the millers did combine, and-
– They do not combine for that purpose.
– But supposing they did.
– It is a poor argument which is based on a supposition of the kind !
– But if they did combine would the honorable member, as a true Christian brother, allow them to raise the price of bread to the poor people without giving the Minister of Trade and Customs some power in the matter?
– Who says they would do that? I do not.
– That is all the Bill proposes ; and we may rest assured that no Minister will do anything that is unfair.
– Is that all the Bil? does?
– It gives that power, anyhow, together with the power to prevent the exportation of unsound foodstuffs, and so forth. If my memory be true, a shipment of meat sent home during the Boer war was condemned on arrival.
– How does the honorable member know that it was unwholesome at the time it was shipped?
– I do not know that it was, but if there is any trace of disease the Minister should have power to stop exportation in the interests of both the producers here and the consumers abroad.
– There seems to be an assumption that if anything is wrong at the other end it must be due to some fault at. this end !
– Much can be achieved byproper supervision here.
– The probability is that produce which arrives in England in bad condition was affected before it left Australia-
– I hope that the Government will protect the interests of the community by doing all that common sense suggests to prevent the sending of unsound produce from Australia to the markets of the world.
– Statements have been made this morning, even by honorable members on this side of the chamber, which I think should not pass without comment. I disagree with some of the remarks of the honorable member for South Sydney. If we commenced to impose export duties, it would lead to endless trouble. Should an export duty be placed on hides in the interests of the leather merchants, the makers of boots might have good cause for asking for an export duty on leather, and in their turn the wearers of boots might ask for an export duty on boots.
– Exportation might be stopped altogether.
– That would be the logical conclusion. Some honorable members have narrow city ideas.
– No doubt the honorable member for South Sydney thought this morning that he was on the platform.
– When he was on the platform I am sure that he was heartily cheered for the enunciation of national sentiments such as we generally hear from him, but this morning he has left the track a little. Not sufficient recognition is given to the fact that exportation provides a great deal of employment for city workers in the handling of produce, which has to be transferred from trains to lorries, and thence to the holds of the vessels which take it away from our ports. No honorable member wishes to injure our export trade, because on it largely depends the prosperity of a great army of city workers, as well as of the community generally.
– Does the honorable member take the same view when proposals affecting importation are being discussed?
– We are dealing now with exportation, and every Honorable member, I am sure, wishes to do all that is possible to increase our export trade. We have passed laws this session whereby the operations of rings, trusts, and combines should be kept in proper bounds, and have taken the power to nationalize any industry should we find that to be necessary. The honorable member for South Sydney referred to the fact that about nine months ago the price of butter rose to an exorbitant rate, but let me inform the House that “those interested in butter-making rejoiced at the fact that the consumers took the matter into their own hands by substi tuting jam for butter, so that in twentyfour hours the price came down again.
– In Sydney butter remained at a high price for weeks.
– The high price of butter in Melbourne was due partly to a slight shortage, and partly >to the presence of an extra large gathering of consumers in the metropolis to welcome the American Fleet. But persons interested in the making of butter told me that they were glad that the consumers took a stand against the raising of the price. There must be sympathy between producers and consumers in a healthy state of industrial conditions. If not, one side or the other must suffer. The Minister referred to the fact that we have lost trade because inferior products have been sent to other countries, but I am sure that every honorable member would set his face against the export of inferior produce. An embargo should be placed on the exportation of unsound goods. It is not the producers who are the offenders, but speculators, who try to make unfair profits. Regarding the examination of fruit, I would point out that it is not always easy to determine whether it is sound or not. I understand that some time ago an inspector who examined a consignment of apples, found them to be spotted on the outside, and, therefore, did not grade them as highly as some other apples which were not so spotted, but that in the London market the spotted apples sold well, whereas the others, which, when they left here, appeared to be free from disease, arrived in thoroughly bad condition, because they were attacked from within by a disease whose presence was not suspected at the time the examination was made here.
– A man knowing his business, should have been able to discover that the apples were unsound.
– I know that the honorable member is an expert in this matter, and he would do well if he could pass his knowledge on to those whose business it is to examine our exports. I believe that both apples and pears which have been certified to as sound on leaving Victoria have arrived in England almost in a state of pulp. As to butter, every one who buys it f.o.b. or on the trucks or vessels in our ports receives a certificate indicating its quality. I have always objected to the marking of quality on the boxes themselves. I know, however, that when certain butter, sent from Yea a few weeks ago, was given as a grade-mark the figures 90 to 92, the personin charge of the exportation thought that in London it would receive only second grade price, but it brought the highest price in the market. This information came direct from a director of the Yea Dairy Company.
– Then it would be an advantage to mark all our butter second grade.
– No. As the honorable member knows, in London, if produce is marked “ second grade,” purchasers will give only second-grade prices for it.
– The honorable member is going beyond the question before the chair.
– I am merely giving an illustration to show the effects of the marking system. It is impossible, in regard to perishable products, to say how they will open up in London two months after they leave here.
– What is the remedy for the present system?
– The honorable member has a number of butter factories in his constituency, and he must know that they do their best to send good produce for export. If we desire to improve our butter, we should grade the raw product more carefully. I know that the Minister will deal on their merits with proposals which are put before him, and before taking action, consider all the pros and cons. We must pay the closest attention to our exportations, and do all we can to get the best name for our products. We shall be more than foolish if here or elsewhere we proclaim its faults to the world. Our best policy is to follow the example of other countries, and correct our faults and failings, but not to publish them abroad. Although wide powers are being given to the Minister, I feel confident that they will be exercised with discretion.
– The debate has turned upon the provision giving the Minister power to prohibit exportation. Honorable members seem to forget that when the late Mr. Kingston was at the head of the Customs Department, an Act was passed giving the Minister a much wider power in regard to the prohibition of imports. Under the Customs Act, no one is permitted to import goods the importation of which has been prohibited by proclamation. It is not necessary that the goods shall be harmful ; indeed, no condition is attached.
The power given under the Bill is narrower, because the prohibition is to apply only to exports which, in the opinion of the Governor-General, are harmful to the community. When speaking on the second reading, I referred to the fact that the Bill gives fuller effect to the attempt of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro to provide for a standard sack, with which his name is so honorably associated. I am sorry the honorable member was not present, because I paid what I considered to be a welldeserved tribute to the action which he took. We are not narrowing our powers, but are taking, as regards exports, a power which is absolutely necessary. The honorable member for Parramatta and others said that we had no right to brand cases of apples as “sound” or otherwise. That regulation has been in existence for four or five years, but three weeks or a month ago I telegraphed to the Australian Fruitgrowers’ Conference, sitting in Hobart, that it was my intention to take that word out of the regulations. I did so because it is impossible, on account of an obscure disease known as bitter pit, to decide whether the apples will be sound six or eight weeks hence. The Department has been reluctantly compelled to realize the necessity of making the change, and new regulations regarding that matter will come into operation as soon as possible, in the interests of the fruit-growers. The Department are taking all possible steps to ascertain the nature of the disease in question, and what remedial measures can be applied. We have been in consultation with some of the StateGovernments in order to secure the services of a gentleman holding a very high position in that branch of work to conduct the investigation. The honorable member for Parramatta also objected to our taking power in the last clause toregulate the size of fruit cases. The fruit-growers themselves asked that this should be done, either by regulation or by legislation, so that any case exported from Australia, and purporting to contain a bushel, should in fact contain a bushel, and not less. The fruit-growers were unanimous on the point, and some honorable members accompanied a deputation to me less than a fortnight ago on the subject.
– Mostly from Tasmania and New South Wales.
– We are considering the interests of Australia as a whole, and not which States were most to blame.
– The change is in the interests of honest business.
– We want our goods to go sixteen ounces to the pound, and twelve inches to the foot. Honorable members have suggested that a Minister may go to extremes in exercising his powers under this Bill, but, as the honorable member for Maribyrnong pointed out, it is not always possible for a Minister to define exactly the extent to which certain powers are required. It would not do for those of us who are acquainted with the details of some of our industries to get up in this House and say exactly where faults have been found in our export trade. We are simply anxious to take such powers as will give us a right to inspect exports, and prohibit the sending away of articles which would damage Australian trade. Some of the people in these particular lines of business desire that this protection should be given ; while it is belter, in the case of others who do not want any Government interference, that we should protect them against themselves. It is our duty to keep the name of Australia at its present high standard, and I trust it will be raised even higher. We should see that the stamp “ Approved for export “ is a guarantee of soundness and purity, and not, as has happened in some cases in the past, allow it to be obtained whether the goods are pure or . not. I think ‘ it is necessary to have this power, even in regard to butter. In to-day’s papers, as the honorable member for South Sydney mentioned, particulars are given regarding 1,042 cases of butter obtained from the wreck of the Pericles. There is nothing in the Commerce Act at present to prevent that butter being marked in any way, and re-exported, to the injury of the Australian butter trade. I am sure the honorable member for Richmond will admit that it is not right that that butter should be allowed to go on the London market as prime Australian.
– No one is asking for that.
– The certificates go with it.
– The honorable member is referring to the certificates under the Commerce Act, but we have no power to say of what quality that butter is. Even if it were the worst quality that could possibly be imagined, there is nothing to prevent it leaving Australia. I notice that that matter will come before me for decision, and I shall treat it as fairly as I do every other case.
– Is that in regard to the moisture content?
– The moisture content is not in question. The butter fat content is down to 81.93, which is below the standard. It is not right that any article which will damage Australian trade should be exported. We have at present a certain amount of power. We can compel the removal of certain marks from the butter. We have provided, as far as imports are concerned, that the contents must be true to name, and I contend that we should have even greater power regarding exports. There was recently a case in which some butter had remained in the Sydney Cool Stores for eight months, and it was proposed at the start of the next season to send it away as new season’s butter, on the last season’s certificates. I believe that we have under the Commerce Act most of the power necessary to deal with the shipment of butter, and it is only with regard to other commodities that we are tightening up the Act by means of this Bill. I can assure the House that I, like every other Minister who succeeds me in this Department, will be very careful in exercising these powers. In fact, the greater the power a Minister has, the more careful is he likely to be in the exercise of it.
– Is there any objection to both Houses being notified in regard to the exercise of the power in paragraph b of clause 4? (Mr. TUDOR.- No.
– Or to allowing either House to modify or cancel the proclamation by resolution?
– The honorable member will see that a proclamation is quite different from a regulation. I see no reasonwhy the proclamation should not be laid on the table of the House at once if the House is sitting, or immediately after it meets if it is not then sitting ; but I do not know that we can make it, like a regulation, subject to the approval of the House. I am sure that any Government who found they had made a mistake in issuing a proclamation prohibiting certain imports or exports would take all the steps necessary to have it annulled at once.
– Why not make the power dependent on a resolution of the House?
– I am not prepared to go to that extent now. I am prepared to agree that any proclamation issued under this Act shall be laid before Parliament.
– On what grounds would the Minister prohibit exports?
– Any Government which did not prohibit the export of meat such as that which was sent to the Philippines, when they had the power to do so, would be failing in their duty to Australia.
– Then the Minister would prohibit on the ground of defects. Why not put that in the Bill?
– I do not think the House will make any mistake in passing the Bill as it stands.
– Is there any danger of the Government prohibting exports for economic reasons?
– No. I have no intention whatever to prohibit exports, any more than imports, for economic reasons. We have the power with regard to imports now, and I am generally supposed to be a Protectionist.
– To stop a man from getting into gaol is very different from preventing him from getting out.
– We can deal with the clauses in Committee, but I trust honorable members will agree to the passage of the Bill as it stands, because, as my predecessor agrees, it is necessary for the better working of the Department.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause1 agreed to.
Sitting suspended from1 to 2.30 p.m
Clause 2 (Amendment of section 30).
– I am not quite sure of the reason for the difference in phraseology between paragraph c of section 30 of the principal Act which this clause is designed to amend and proposed new paragraph d. The Act as it stands provides that goods subject to export duty shall be under the control of the Department from the time when they are brought to any port or place for exportation until the payment of the duty, whilst under proposed new paragraph d they are to be within the control of the Department from the time that they are prepared in, or are brought into any “ prescribed “ place for export. Exportation, and not the purpose of export, is really the test as regards control. I merely call attention to the matter, for I do not know whether the difference in phraseology is accidental or designed.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 -
Section one hundred and twelve of the Principal Act is repealed and the following sections substituted in its stead : - “ 112. - (1.) The Governor-General may, by proclamation, prohibit the exportation of any goods -…..
.- On the motion for the second reading of this BillI referred to the extensive powers taken under this clause, and showed that a great deal must depend on the manner in which they are administered. I am more directly interested in the butter” industry than in any other, and I feel that a great deal of harm may be done to that industry, unless the greatest care is taken as to the regulations issued under this clause or under the Commerce Act. I recognise the necessity for preventing any Australian product being exported in such a state that it will actually injure our export trade. There is every reason why the Minister should be clothed with ample powers to deal with such cases, and. there should be regulations to set up the standards and the conditions under which Australian products should be exported, so as to prevent the unscrupulous speculator or trader, for the mere sake of putting money into his own pocket, damaging our export business. I should never protest against any regulation that the Minister might bring into force with that object in view. But when these powers are extended for a very different purpose - to secure the grading of our exports, to put upon themgrade marks which practically determine their price-
– The Minister has that power under the Commerce Act.
– I am aware of that, but this clause will amplify the Minister’s powers under that measure. A Minister not thoroughly conversant with the details and technicalities of our export business might very easily bring into force regulations whose operation might be diametrically opposed to the best interests of an industry. We had this morning from the honorable member for Hume expressions which displayed his utter and absolute ignorance of the question of which he was speaking. That honorable member might hold office as Minister of Trade and Customs and bring into force, doubtless with the best intentions, regulations providing torthe grading of our products such as he said he would like to see in operation.
– As a matter of fact, he did do so when he held office as Minister of Trade and Customs, and we spent live weeks in trying to induce him to modify the regulations.
– I am aware of that. The honorable member for Hume went on to point out where, in his opinion, New Zealand had been able to surpass Australia in the matter of her butter exports. He stated that the grading regulations in force there enabled London buyers to cable to New Zealand and buy on the spot. As a representative of a district where, possibly the co-operative movement has been carried further than it has in any other part of Australia, I tell the Minister that that is a practice against which the whole of the efforts of the co-operative movement have been directed. He will realize, therefore, that, in opposing the grading system, we are opposing that which, as the honorable member for Hume says, practically plays into the hands of the speculator, and enables him to buy on grade marks, irrespective of the true market value.
– How is it that New Zealand butter realizes 4s. per cwt. more than does Australian butter in the London market?
– It does not secure that higher price all the year round. The people of New Zealand have climatic and other conditions which enable them to compete in the production of butter in a way that is impossible to us, having regard to our climatic conditions, during the months of January, February, and March. During those months we export a very large quantity of butter, and owing to the climatic conditions, we cannot turn out as good an article as can New Zealand during the same period. Although it is true that in respect of that period New Zealand butter, on the average, realizes more than does Australian butter - leaving out of account certain factories in the Commonwealth which can compete with New Zealand butter all the year round - yet, on the average, owing to the operations of the speculator in the New Zealand market, dairy-farmers in Australia are paid from1d. to1½d. per lb. more than are the dairymen of New Zealand for the season.
– It is the grading which gives the speculator his opportunity.
– Yes; and yet the honorable member for Hume says that that is the advantage of the whole system. It is the one thing against which the dairymen have been fighting. For the last ten years we have been trying to get rid of the speculative buyer, and just when he has become almost a thing of the past we have the threat thathe is once more to be brought to the front by the introduction of the grading system. We have succeeded in keeping down the speculator by shipping direct to London, and selling our butter on its merits.
– The dairymen of Australia have been trying to get rid of the middleman, and the Labour party are going to put him back again.
– I know that we have been trying to get rid of him, but I do not know what the Labour party are going to do.
– The honorable member should have agreed with the honorable member for Parramatta, who is looking for an electioneering cry.
– I do not think that he is. The honorable member for Hume said that Mr. Meares was the man whom he had to fight ; and I would reply that the co-operative producers of Australia have to thank that man because he fought the honorable member for Hume tooth and nail. The honorable member no doubt believed that he was acting in the best interests of the co-operative movement of Australia, but he was not. There is no man in Australia to-day whom the co-operative producers have to thank so much as they have to thank Mr. Meares, and there is no man whom they have so little to thank as the honorable member for Hume. I wish he were present ; if he were, I would make the same statement, and perhaps add a little to it. The honorable member said that we desired to enable a few Inter-State men to ship rotten butter from the northern rivers of New South Wales. Let me tell him that practically no one is directly interested in the industry there save the producers of the article itself, and they number some thousands. The whole of the industry on the northern rivers of New South Wales is, with the exception of a few tons of butter per month, absolutely in the hands of the producers. They have had to fight interested parties in different parts of New South Wales, whom the honorable member for Hume stood behind; and he practically forced us to adopt methods involving, for the time being, a loss of thousands of pounds, in order to overcome the machinations of those particular people. There is nobody whom we had to fight more, or who was more difficult to overcome, than the honorable member for Hume. I urge on the Minister, before proclaiming any regulations, to consider the position well. There is nobody who has any deep interest in the industry who would assist in bringing about a state of affairs which would prevent our produce being sold on its merits, or which would result in loss to our primary producers. Imports and exports are not altogether on the same basis. It is apparent that there is a wide difference between clothing the Minister with power to prevent imports - seeing that Australia is committed to a policy of Protection, which is more or less a policy of preventing imports - and giving him power to prevent exports. The honorable member for South Sydney had no hesitation in expressing the hope that this power would be used to prevent prices rising above a certain point that the party in power might think should not be exceeded; and, consequently, the proposed Ministerial power is very extensive, and possibly dangerous. There should be some safeguard, and I move -
That after the word “ extends,” paragraph 3, the following words be inserted : - “ Any proclamation made under paragraph i of subclause 1 shall be notified to each House within seven days of the issue of such proclamation if the Parliament is in session, but, if not in session, then within seven days of the meeting of the Parliament, and the same shall be revoked on resolution disapproving of the proclamation remaining in force being passed by either House.”
.- This is a very good amendment. At first I thought that the power under paragraph b ought to be exercised on a resolution of the House; but probably the Minister intends to deal with specific consignments rather than with classes. If it were intended to deal with classes of exports, then there ought to be a resolution, because that is general legislation ; but if the intention is to deal with specific shipments, he could not wait for a resolution. I have a doubt whether we can direct the Executive to revoke a proclamation, though we can decide that a proclamation should cease to have effect. However, that is a mere matter of drafting. I do not think there is any reasonable doubt that we can stop exportation. That cannot be done in Canada, where the power is to regulate trade, and it has been held that regulation does not include the power to stop. Our power, on the other hand, is to make laws in respect of trade and commerce; and whether that be wider than the Canadian power remains to be seen. However, we need not trouble ourselves on that point; if we are convinced as to the policy we should adopt it, and leave the questionof its legality to the High Court. The Minister ought to be very careful in the regulations he issues as to the transfer of goods from one State to another. There is an expressed declaration in the Constitution that, after the imposition of uniform duties, trade and commerce amongst the States is to be absolutely free; and if goods are not to be sent from one State to the other except according to the regulations, unless these are clearly ancillary to exportation, the High Court may say that they are bad, because the primary injunction is freedom of trade. This provision may be a copy from the American Act, but the power is different in the United States. There Protection between the States may be declared, the only condition being that whatever law exists between two States shall apply to the whole. However, these are matters for the Judiciary, and I merely suggest that the regulations should be carefully drafted, and that the ordinary method of the Department, which is almost developing into abuse, of providing in a Bill every single power that may help, whether necessary or not, may not be carried to further extremes. Bill after Bill bristles with penalties and prohibitions, as I shall exemplify in a subsequent clause.
– I was not present this morning, but I have heard of some remarks of the honorable member for Hume in reference to a gentleman who is the prime mover of one of the greatest co-operative movements inAustralia - a movement which. I feel sure, commends itself to every man who sympathizes with unionism in any shape or form. I refer to Mr. Meares, representative of the co-operative movement in thedairying industry. Those of us who areacquainted with Mr. Meares know that tothat gentleman we owe mainly the magnificent position of the butter export trade at the present moment; and yet, I understand, the honorable member for Hume has asserted that the reason why Mr. Meares and others are opposing this Bill is in order that they may have an opportunity of exporting “rotten butter.”
– I do not think the honorable member for Hume said that.
– Yes, he did.
– I am sorry that the honorable member for Hume is not present, because I feel very strongly in regard to such an accusation against a gentleman who has done so much for this industry. The accusation is absolutely unfounded.
– The honorable member tor Hume referred only to the industry in the north of New South Wales.
– It is in the north of New South Wales that there is the greatest co-operative butter factory in the world, from which comes some of the finest produce in Australia. That is the company with which Mr. Meares, to whom the honorable member for Hume referred this morning, is associated. He and the producers of the district represented by the honorable member for Richmond have built up a factory which is pre-eminent in Australia. The co-operative movement with which he has been associated owns now what is the biggest butter factory in the world. The butter from that factory obtains the highest prices in the London market, and it is made and shipped without Government supervision, grading, or other interference. Was it right of the honorable member for Hume to refer to Mr. Meares as a “ man who wishes to export his rotten butter to the markets of the world “ ? It is the honorable member, and men like him, whom we who are associated with the butter industry have had to fight in the past. They have thrown obstacles in the path of development, and have done their utmost to prevent improvement. Yet to-day the honorable member for Hume makes an accusation against the man who, above all others, is responsible for the great advance which the cooperative movement has made here, and has done so much to place one of our staple products on the markets of* the world in first class condition. The honorable member for Maribyrnong, who has been closely associated with the co-operative movement in Victoria, will corroborate every word I have said about the man against whom this vile slander has been uttered by the honorable member for Hume.
– I fell foul of the honorable member when he made the statement.
– I was not present at the time, and I am glad to hear the honorable member say that. Having been inti mately concerned with the dairying industry, and knowing Mr. Meares, and what he has done for the farmers of New South Wales and Australia generally, I have felt it my duty to say something in reply to the accusation made against him. I do not feel that there is much more to be said regarding the clause. The New Zealand experience is frequently referred to as evidencing the advantages to be obtained by the Government grading of butter, but those who know anything about the matter are aware that the result of the Government grading there is that the Dominion is the happy hunting ground of the speculator, who buys on the spot, and, consequently, makes large profits at the expense of the farmers. Those who are actually doing, the work, the farmers, who have all the drudgery and responsibility, are, in Victoria and New South Wales, getting more money for their products than goes into the pockets of the farmers of New Zealand. The” Minister has gone carefully into this matter, and it has been pointed out to him by representatives of the dairying industry in Australia,’ and representatives of Commonwealth constituencies in which dairying is largely carried on, that, although his officers have been trying their utmost to persuade him to provide for Government grading, our farmers get more for their products under the co-operative system, without Government grading, than the farmers of New Zealand get with Government grading. We do not desire to play into the hands of the speculators. In New South Wales, the producers have been fighting against the middlemen ever since I was born. They have been trying to get out of the power of the produce merchants of Sussex-street, dozens of whom have become extremely wealthy at the expense of the farmers. The co-operative movement gets rid of the middlemen, and now three-fourths of the dairy produce sent away from New South Wales is exported directly, without the intervention of middlemen.
– Middlemen have control of the local market.
– No. The Coastal Farmers’ Co-operative Union is able to control it. The honorable member for South Sydney adopts a very curious attitude. He seems to think that prices should be kept down, whereas, we are striving to keep up prices. In my early years the Illawarra farmers got only 3d. and 4d. a lb. for their butter.
– And some of it was not worth 2d.
– During the last elections I read that a well-known member of the South Australian Labour Conference not long ago exclaimed, ‘ ‘ To hell with the farmers.” That is the feeling of the Labour party, whose members say that 2d. is enough for the dairy farmers to receive. I have heard them express sympathy with those who have to rise at 3 in the morning to milk their cows, yet they say that 2d. and 3d. a lb. is a fair return for their industry. It is a mystery to me why the primary producers are so blind to their interests as to vote for habour members, who are opposed to everything that will benefit them.
– The honorable member is going beyond the question.
– I was replying to the interjection of the honorable member for East Sydney. It makes one’s blood boil to hear such remarks from those who pose as having the interests of the farmers at heart. 1 do not wish to use heated language.
– Now that the honorable member is cool, he might withdraw the statement about the prominent member of a South Australian Labour Conference, lt was quite inaccurate.
– I have not read a contradiction of it.
– It was contradicted hundreds of times, and by the individual who was reported to have made it.
– The honorable member must take the word of the honorable membor for Adelaide.
– Of course, I take his word, but I ask him if he is in a position to give a direct contradiction to the report ?
– I am in a position to give a direct contradiction to the statement that what was said was said by a wellknown member of the South Australian Labour Conference, or by a member of the Conference.
– Perhaps the honorable member will tell me who made the statement?
– I do not know, but I know every well-known Labour member in South Australia.
– I ask the Committee whether it is possible for the officials appointed by Government to satisfactorily carry out the work of grading butter for the London or any other market? Will men who know the taste of the London consumers, or of the consumers in other markets, be brought from abroad to do our grading, or is the work to be left to those who have no knowledge as to what is required elsewhere? Probably, most of the men appointed will be men who have never even been to London, and have not the faintest knowledge ot what is required-. Can such men satisfactorily grade our butter as “superfine,’” “first,” “second,” and “ third “ quality?
– Mr.” Preedy the head of our Commerce Branch, has had London experience.
– What experience has he had of the grading of butter? In any case, it would be physically impossible for him to grade the millions of lbs. of butte, that are annually exported. Consequently the grading must be left to those who are ignorant of the requirements of our markets.
– What has this to do witu the clause?
– A great deal. Under this clause the Minister will be able todeal with the whole question of the grading and the exportation of butter. When the compulsory system of grading was in force in Queensland, it was found that the producers were losing thousands of pounds in England, because the second grade butter was never sold on its merits. The butter trade is now established on a sound basis, having been brought up to a high standard by individualism and by the capacity and energy of men of life-long experience. Therefore, unless the Government are in a position to show that any action of theirs will put the industry on a still better footing, they ought to stay their hand. It has become one of the most important in Australia, and is giving a fair return to those who are working so hard on the land, and all I ask is that the Government shall do nothing to interfere with the men or the system that have brought about those splendid results. I regret exceedingly that a man who has occupied such a high position in New South Wales and the Commonwealth as the honorable member for Hume should have gone out of his way, as he did this morning, to make an accusation against a man who has done so much for the butter industry.
– The man of whom the honorable member is speaking has been fined dozens of times.
– What for?
– For adulterating his butter with water.
– Never j the honorable member should be ashamed to say it.
– Ask the Minister to contradict it.
– I cannot contradict the statement that he has been fined.
Mi. FULLER.- Not for adulteration of that sort?
– Not for adulteration.
– For watering his butter.
– Not for watering his butter; he has been fined, as have all others from time to time in connexion with the trade, for having short weight in his boxes. We are supposed to have 56 lbs. of butter in each box, but it is a matter of the greatest difficulty to keep to the exact amount. Hundreds and thousands of boxes go into Mr. Meares’ place in Sydney, and he exports them to London and other places. He is not exceptional in having been fined in connexion with that business.
– He is only an agent for others.
– He acts for the Byron Bay and thousands of other factories throughout New South Wales. He ha& been fined as the representative of the Coastal Farmers’ Co-operative Society in connexion with short weights. We do not want to send short weights to London. Mr. Meares is managing his business in a most satisfactory manner.
– To himself.
– He has made nothing out of it beyond the salary which he receives as manager, and to that he is thoroughly entitled for building up the biggest co-operative society in Australia. He started the movement with a paid-up capital of only a few thousand pounds, and last year it had a turnover of nearly ^1,000,000. 1 feel these accusations very keenly, because they affect a big industry which has meant a great deal to New South Wales and Victoria. I am sure all Victorians, including the Minister, recognise that when the boom burst in 1891 the dairying industry practically saved Victoria. The industry has been carried on under a system that has done a great deal of good for the whole of the people, and I hope that the Minister and those associated with him on the other side of the House will take every precaution to insure that nothing k done to retard its progress.
– I trust we shall get hack to the clause before the Committee. The only part of it to which exception has been taken is paragraph b. To this the honorable member for Richmond has moved an amendment, that any proclamation made under it shall be laid on the table of Parliament within seven days. I am willing, as I said last night, to accept that, but the honorable member goes further by proposing that the proclamation shall be revoked on a resolution being passed by either House. That proposal I cannot accept. I believe it will make a Ministry more careful if they have to take the responsibility of any proclamation they issue. If there is in the House a majority ready to revoke a proclamation, that majority will be against the Government who issue it, and, therefore, there is no necessity for that part of the. amendment. I do not intend to deal with the statements regarding the butter industry. I have received a lot of information on the question from honorable members, and, as I said before, one cannot be guided by some of the figures that are used in connexion with the butter industry. I stated one afternoon - and my statement has never been contradicted - that, instead of paying a man for 2,000 lbs. of butter fat, the factories paid him on a smaller basis, until the New South Wales Government threatened to put an auditor in to see that the correct payments were made for the amount of butter produced. An article to that effect appeared in the New South Wales Agricultural Gazette.
– That may have been so in one or two insignificant factories ; but it has nothing to do with the big factories.
– At any rate, when honorable members point out what they call facts regarding this industry, it is, perhaps, time that a little was said on the other side. I am prepared to discuss some of the issues raised when I bring down the commerce regulations. I told honorable members last night that I will do under this. Bill, so far as butter is concerned, nothing other than I could do under the commerce regulations, and that I will do nothing under the commerce regulations until Parliament, has had an opportunity pf discussing what is proposed. Although I gave that assurance last night, seven-eighths of the debate to-day has been on that very matter.
– Much of the debate would have been avoided if the Minister could have kept the honorable member for Hume quiet. He made a disgraceful statement.
– I could not keep the honorable member for Hume quiet any more than I could keep the honorable member for Illawarra quiet.
– The honorable member could keep me quiet by promising not to issue the commerce regulations.
– I have already said that I shall not put the commerce regulations into force until Parliament has had the opportunity of discussing them. If there is no opportunity for Parliament to discuss them before the sessions ends, I shall not endeavour to put them into operation so far as butter is concerned ; but I think I can fairly put into force the proposal to strike out the word “ sound “ from the regulation regarding the marking of fruitcases, to meet the objections raised by the honorable member for Parramatta.
– The Committee should be well satisfied with the Minister’s assurance regarding the commerce regulations. I was particularly anxious that nothing should be done, to injure the butter industry, and quite agree with the honorable member for Illawarra as to the immense amount of good work done by the co-operative societies. I wish to put the honorable member for Illawarra right regarding the statement that has been made that Labour members have said “ To hell with the farmers.” We all had to “meet that accusation during the election campaign; and I wish to put the truth about it on record. The gentleman who gave utterance to the statement was not a member of the Labour movement. He was a man named Bell, in the industrial circle in Adelaide, and what’ he said was, “ To hell with the farmers, and the Labour party, too.” Honorable members opposite, when quoting that, have always taken care to leave out the second part of it.
– I should like some proof of the honorable member’s statement.
– Did the honorable member agree with the honorable member for East Sydney’s interjection that 2d. or 3d. per pound was sufficient for the farmers?
– I can produce numbers of persons from South Australia to show that what I have said is true. I know nothing about the merits of the particular case in dispute between the honorable member for Hume and the honorable member for Illawarra. The honorable member for Illawarra takes exception to the interjec tion of the honorable member for East Sydney. What the honorable member said was that in the days when the farmers were receiving only 4d. per lb. for their butter he had seen butter so bad that it was not worth 2d. per lb. I hold that such prices are tantamount to robbery, and that good butter should always be worth at least is. per lb. The honorable member for East Sydney did not suggest that the farmers should not receive even as much as 4d. per lb. for their butter. He, like the rest of our party, believes that every farmer should receive the full return of his labour, and that if his butter is worth even 2s. per lb., he should receive that price for it. I rose only to put our position clearly before the Committee, in view of the remarks made by the- honorable member for Illawarra; and I hope that since the Minister has said that nothing will be done by way of the issue of regulations before Parliament is consulted, the clause will be agreed to.
– I wish the Committee to clearly understand that what I promised was that the regulations, issued under the Commerce Act, in respect of butter should not come into operation until Parliament had had an opportunity to consider them. Those regulations, however, have absolutely nothing to do with this clause.
.- I was glad to hear the Minister say that he was prepared to accept the amendment.
– I desire that certain words shall be omitted from it.
– I hope, at all events, that the honorable member will consent to a considerable modification of the clause. Paragraph b of proposed new section 112, is most undemocratic. Under it altogether too wide a power is to be given to the Minister. I should not object to the Minister having power to prevent a ship going out with certain goods ; but, under such a general power as this, he might prevent the exportation of some great Australian product on which the country depended largely for its prosperity. This power is altogether unnecessary, for the Bill elsewhere gives ample power to the Minister to control exports over which there should be some supervision. What encouragement will there be to a man to settle on the land if, when he has a good season, the Minister may be induced, in the interests of a section of the community, to prevent him from shipping his produce and getting for it the good prices ruling abroad ? As we all know, the producer is unprotected. Very often during season after season he has to sell his produce at a very low figure, and does well if he makes ends meet. -Sometimes, at the end of a year’s labour, he finds himself in debt: but with a good season he gets a lift, and is thus encouraged to persevere. If he is to be penalized when he has a chance of making a little, then he is not to be treated as we should treat those who open up the country for us. This clause is altogether unwarranted, and I hope that the Minister will accept an amendment restricting the powers that he will have under it. As it stands, it enables the Minister to exercise powers which should be reserved to this Parliament.
– I should npt have risen but for the heated remarks made by the honorable member for Illawarra when dealing with the statements made by the honorable member for Hume. In the course of his speech the honorable member spoke of a time when farmers received only 3 1/2d. per lb. for their butter, and I interjected, “ Sometimes it was not worth more than 2d. per lb.” The honorable member spoke of such prices ruling in the days of his boyhood. To show him that I know something, of the position in those times, I would remind him that Messrs. Elliott and Clark then carried on business as dairy produce merchants on a large scale in Sydney, and that for a good many years I, as a business man, purchased butter from them twice a week. No one was better pleased than I was with the introduction of the creamery system in New South Wales, and I know that it has done as much for the progress and advancement of the State as has any other industry. After the introduction of that system, it was a pleasure to purchase butter from firms engaged in the trade. The honorable member for Illawarra must remember the days of the little dairy farmers north and south of Sydney, when it was almost impossible for a business man - and this was prior to the introduction of the creamery system - to obtain a piece of good butter. When I made the interjection in question, I was referring to the early days of which the honorable member was speaking. I have visited various parts of New South Wales during the last ten or fifteen years, and have found that the factory system has made a marked improve ment in the dairying industry. The suggestion that the Labour party has no interest in the farmers is not only absurd, but utterly vile. No party is more alive to the fact that the primary producers must be encouraged, and that our cities are largely dependent upon them for -their progress, than is the Labour party. It is only because of the wealth accruing to our large towns from the country districts that they are able to make any progress. I sincerely hope that we shall hear no more of these charges against our party. At the period to which the honorable member for Illawarra was referring, I had a business in Sydney, and during two months of the year it was almost impossible to obtain good butter.
– The honorable member has been dealing in butter, political and otherwise, during the greater part of his life.
– I have always been a good citizen, and no one can justly charge me with having failed at any time to do my best in the interests of the country. I have devoted my time and’ what little money I have had to the improvement of the country, and to-day I am almost as poor as I was when I entered Australia. I do not regret my position, however, because I know that the work I have done has been for the benefit of this country. We have the interests of the farmers at heart just as much as have the Opposition. After all, these charges do no good, and I am sure that if the honorable member for Illawarra had not been so heated at the time he would not have accuse’d me of desiring to injure the producers of the Commonwealth.
– After listening to this discussion for some hours, one would imagine that. Australia exported nothing but butter. I think it well to remind the Committee that we have many other exports. During the earlier part of the debate I interjected that I trusted that paragraph b of proposed new section 112 was not to be used for any politico-economic reasons, and the Minister was good enough to say that no such intention was in the mind of the Government. That assurance, however, in my opinion, is not sufficient for the Committee. The paragraph, as it stands, would empower any Government, yielding to the clamour of certain interests in the community, to utterly prohibit the export of any of our principal products. It would enable them to prohibit the export of hides, which has already been suggested, or the export of wheat, and we all know that during the recent election some persons advocated that the export of wheat should be prohibited. The export of any great Australian production which a certain section of the community might think we should retain within our borders, instead of sending it abroad to obtain the world’s prices, might be prohibited. The power in this direction is very dangerous, and I cannot remain silent when it is proposed to be taken. If the honorable member for Richmond will temporarily withdraw his amendment, I shall move -
That after the word “ Commonwealth,” paragraph b, the words “ by reason of defect in purity or quality in the goods, or their preparation or manufacture,” be inserted.
I do not believe that the proposed new section is necessary, as subsequent provisions give all the power that is required to enable our trade and industries to be upheld by the preservation of their purity. If the Government intend to attempt to force this clause throughas it stands, then, rather than give a silent vote, I shall test the opinion of the Committee by moving the amendment which I have indicated, in order that we may get the Government to admit by act, as they have done by word, that there is no intention to exercise these powers for politico-economic purposes.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. G. B. Edwards) proposed -
That after the word “ Commonwealth,” paragraph b, the words “ by reason of defect in purity or quality in the goods or their preparation or manufacture.”
– The honorable member for North Sydney has asked whether the Government have any intentions other than those apparent on the face of the clause ; and I have to assure him that there is no idea of preventing any exportation which is beneficial to Australia.
– After all, Government intentions pave a certain place !
– I have heard that said of personal intentions, but not of Government intentions.
– Another Government will not be bound by the intentions of the present Government.
– That I admit ; but I do not see any harm in taking the same power in regard to exports that was given by the first Parliament in regard to imports.
– A Government, for instance, would not prohibit the importation of sugar.
– While it is not inconceivable that a Government might prohibit the importation of sugar, I do not think any Government would dare to do so. Any proclamation issued will be laid before Parliament; and any Government who took action that could not be defended in this House would deservedly be expelled from power at the first opportunity. Cases may arise which would not come within the four corners of the amendment. For instance, three or four persons in Bradford became ill with anthrax, and it was proved that the disease had been conveyed by wool from a certain district in Australia. Such an occurrence might have the effect of reducing the price of the whole Australian clip, and the Government would be justified in declaring that all wool from that district should be scoured before leaving the country.
– Is that power not given under sub-clause d?
– I am not sure. I trust the honorable member will not persist in his amendment.
– I shall, if I stand by myself !
– I am surprised at a Democratic Government asking for a power like this.
– I cannot help that; and I repeat that we cannot be wrong in following the precedent set by the first Parliament in relation to imports.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …15
Question so resolved in the. negative.
.- I shall now move the amendment which I have previously explained. I am willing to accept the alteration desired by the Minister. It seems to me that under the circumstances the power will still rest with Parliament. When the proclamation is tabled it will be within the power of any honorable member of this House to direct the Minister up to a certain point, and I have no doubt that if a resolution were carried against him he would retrace his steps.
– He would have to do that or go out.
– I move-
That after the word “extends,” paragraph 3, the following words be inserted, “ Any proclamation made” under paragraph b shall be notified to each House within seven days of the issue of such proclamation if the Parliament is in session, but if not in session, then within seven days after the meeting of Parliament.”
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 15 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment.
Motion (by Mr. Tudor) agreed to -
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the Bill to pass throughits remaining stages without delay.
Motion(by Mr. Tudor) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– I wish to utter a word of protest before this Bill finally passes. I am amazed to find a Minister in this country taking the power contained in sub-clause b of new section 112. It seems incredible that a Ministry composed of Labour men, and supported by a Labour party, should give any Minister a power which would enable him to take the whole trade of the country under his autocratic control and direction.
– The honorable member should keep that sort of talk for the referendum platform.
– This provision is here, and the honorable member cannot reason it out of the Bill.
– We have power over our Ministers.
– That is precisely what the honorable member has not.
– We elect the Ministers.
– The honorable member, and those who sit with him, have surrendered their power over Ministers. The Minister of Trade and Customs is now taking power to prescribe standards of purity and soundness, of freedom from disease, to prohibit anything which would interfere with any of our industries, to dictate how goods shall be sold, and under what conditions, to prescribe how they shall be packed, and in what sized cases they shall be put. The provision to which I have called attention gives the Minister power to prohibit any export which would, in his opinion, be harmful to the Commonwealth. I do not know that we could give him a greater power than that. It means, as I say, absolute autocratic control over the whole of the operations concerned with the imports and exports of Australia, and that power, forsooth, is placed in the hands of a Minister by a Labour Socialistic party !
– I wish to say, in regard to an explanation made by the honorable member for Hunter, in regard to a statement which I made concerning an interjection from the honorable member for East Sydney, that I accept the honorable member’s denial in all good faith. But, at the same time. I have not heard any explanation from the honorable member for Hunter which would show that he was in a position to give a denial to the statement which I made.
– A stranger listening to the remarks of the honorable member for Parramatta might arrive at the conclusion that some extraordinary power was being given to the Minister of Trade and Customs by what he terms Labour members - a power likely, to upset the trade of the Commonwealth, bring ruin and chaos upon us all, and even interfere with the peace of mind of the honorable member himself. The hon.orable member’s statement was, I am sure, most impressive to those who do not know him ; but inasmuch as honorable member? on his own side of the House seemed to pay slight attention to His remarks, whilst honorable members on this- side of the House know him too well, his observations had not the effect that he desired. The honorable member might have made a little’ further explanation, by stating that power was simply given to the Minister of Trade and Customs to issue a proclamation under certain circumstances.
– Which proclamation has to be laid before Parliament.
– The circumstances have to be explained to Parliament.
– Many months afterwards.
– Six months afterwards perhaps.
– The- proclamation will, practically have no effect until Parliament has considered it.
– Oh, ves.
– The power is in the first place subject to parliamentary control. No Minister would be so fatuous as to issue a proclamation that would be likely to meet with the disapproval of a majority in Parliament. This explanation should have been given before the utterances of the honorable member for Parramatta which were made solely to make political capital, and for petty party purposes. The honorable gentleman asserts that something extraordinary is proposed to be done when, as a matter of fact, a similar power would be given to any Minister, and even to the honorable gentleman himself if he were in office.
– This House has before repeatedly refused to give such powers to the Minister.
– Similar powers would be given even to the honorable gentleman as a Minister, although it is open to doubt that he would exercise them in the best interests of the community, because I have a vivid recollection of the way in which he allowed some one to get into the commissioned ranks of the Defence Force when, as Minister of Defence, he had the power to do so.
– That is another matter, and I do not intend to introduce it. We are only in this Bill giving the Minister charged with the administration of the law power to issue a. proclamation in circumstances which will be known to Parliament. The Government will be subject to the will of Parliament, and the proclamation will not be issued until the Ministry, in their corporate capacity, have arrived at the conclusion that the exportation of certain goods would be harmful to the Commonwealth. That is all the power it is proposed to give. 1 remind honorable members that the honorable member for Parramatta raised no serious objection to placing a still greater power with respect to imported goods, in the hands of the present and past Governments, including the Government of which he was himself a shining light.
– That is very different.
– Under the existing law of the Commonwealth, the honorable member for Parramatta, as a member of a Ministry, had the power to prevent’ the importation of any goods, and that without the qualification as to whether their importation would be harmful to the Commonwealth.
– Would the honorable member mind telling the House that I fought for five weeks against that provision?
– Will the honorable gentleman remain quiet for two consecutive minutes ? Whether we are in Committee, in the House, or in division, if the honorable gentleman is present, he cannot remain silent for two consecutive minutes. I have never heard a more persistent man in interjection and in speech, and less valuable.
– Would the honorable member now mind telling the House that I fought against that provision for five weeks ?
– A proclamation is to issue under this Bill only when, in the opinion of Ministers, the exportation of certain goods would bie harmful to the Commonwealth, but, as a member of a Ministry, the honorable member for Parramatta had the power to prevent the importation of goods without qualification. The Government of which he was a member might have prevented the importation of goods which would have been beneficial to the Commonwealth, and the honorable gentleman raised no objection to it.
– That is absolutely incorrect. Why does the honorable member not tell the truth?
– That is quite in keeping with the honorable gentleman’s usual statements, to use no harsher terms. He actually complains of a power proposed to be given to the Minister in the Bill we are about to pass, though it is nothing to the power given the Minister in an Act which is on the statute-book to-day. The honorable gentleman has the audacity to say that that is incorrect.
– I do say that that is incorrect. The honorable member has not made a correct statement, while he has been on his feet.
– Probably the day after to-morrow the honorable gentleman will be in the pulpit. I need not go any further. There is just one other matter to which I wish to refer. I understand that the honorable member forIllawarra refuses to accept the explanation of the honorable member for Hunter.
– You are a disgrace to the House.
– Order. The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it, but really the honorable member has not made a correct statement in the whole of his speech.
– The honorable member must withdraw the remark unreservedly.
– I have withdrawn it.
– The honorable member when asked to withdraw a statement has no right to make another which is more offensive than the one he is asked to withdraw. Will the honorable member withdraw the statement?
– I withdraw it.
– The honorable member forIllawarra declined a moment or two ago to take an explanation given by the honorable member for Hunter of a remark which he made in the course of his own speech.
– I did not. I said I took it for what it is worth.
– I understood that the honorable member forIllawarra refused to take the explanation of the honorable mem ber for Hunter of a remark he was pleased to make himself.
– No. I said that I was sure he gave it in all sincerity.
– The remarks of the honorable member forIllawarra were of a somewhat heated character, but if he accepts the explanation of the honorable member for Hunter, I need go no further.
– I do not accept it.I accept it only so far as the honorable member is able to give it.
– Then I may be allowed to add a few words to corroborate what the honorable member for Hunter said, as I happened to be directly acquainted with the circumstances, and come from the State in which the remark referred to by the honorable member forIllawarra is alleged to have been made. The honorable member, with some degree of warmth, which, perhaps, in the circumstances, was pardonable, seized upon a remark which has been broadly circulated throughout the Commonwealth, and asserted that a prominent member of a Labour Conference - those are the actual words which were taken down at the time-
– I rise to a point.of order. The honorable member is replying to a statement made in Committee, and which has no relevancy to the third reading of this Bill. I assume that we may not refer to a debate which has taken place in Committee.
– I did not know what the honorable member for Adelaide was going to refer to. He said he had one more remark to add, and I was waiting to see what he intended to refer to.
– He stated that he was referring to a remark made by the honorable member for Hunter.
– The honorable member forIllawarra made a personal explanation on the third reading of this Bill; but if the honorable member for Adelaide proposes to refer to something which was said in Committee, he will be out of order.
– I am aware that in addition to the desire the honorable member for Parramatta has shown to misrepresent me by interjections, he now seeks to suppress me by a too strict interpretation of the Standing Orders, and I am not permitted at the present moment to reply to what was said in Committee. But what I was replying to was a statement made on the third reading of this Bill by the honorable member forIllawarra, who said he declined to take the explanation of the honorable member for Hunter.
– I said no such thing.
– In the circumstances, I think that I am in order. An explanation that will be satisfactory to the honorable member forIllawarra is possible in the course of two or three moments. I could corroborate what the honorable member for Hunter has said, and could add to it in such a manner as I am sure would meet with the approval of the honorable member forIllawarra, and prevent him from ever again using the words which have been referred to in the way, and with the meaning which he gave to them this afternoon.
.- It is but fair to remind the House that the particular section which has been quoted in respect to the prohibition of imports, and with which it has been sought to connect the honorable member for Parramatta, was passed, as that honorable gentleman says, in the teeth of his most resolute and determined opposition, and he certainly has not the slightest responsibility for the inclusion of that power in a measure which is on the Commonwealth statute-book.
.- I should not have troubled the House at this hour, on a Friday afternoon, had it not been for the very extraordinary utterance to which we have just listened from the honorable member for Adelaide.
– The honorable member has had to leave to catch his train.
– Of course he has. It is the only thing he has the shame to do after making statements of that character.
– Order ! The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– Things are getting strict here, surely?
– The honorable member for Parramatta must not cast reflections on the Chair. 1 ask him to withdraw his statement.
– I withdraw it absolutely. I would not for the world violate your rulings, or withstand them in any way, no matter whatI may think about them.
– You have asked me, sir, to withdraw my statement that the honorable member for Adelaide, having made a remark which required an answer, immediately withdrew to catch his train, and I therefore obey your request.
I cannot understand an honorable member who said what he did leaving before he could be replied to. He suggested that, because other members of the Opposition did not speak - not wishing to keep the House sitting after the usual hour - we did not agree with what the honorable member for Parramatta said. I wish to say that the remarks of the honorable member for Parramatta concerning the Bill met with my complete and full approval. Where I agreed with him, I was willing to trust the honorable member to voice my opinions, being confident that he would express them clearly and far more concisely and decisively than could the many-worded honorable member for Adelaide, who followed him and sought to ridicule him.
I do not wish to prevent honorable members from catching their trains, but there are occasions when I regret that Hansard cannot record upon its pages the expression of those who make the statements which it publishes. Those statements at times, read without the accompanying expression, no doubt carry more weight than they would have if those who read them could have seen the face of the speaker when he delivered them.
– Does the honorable member suggest an illustrated Hansard?
– If Hansard is to give a true record of the proceedings of Parliament, it should have a cinematograph attached to it.
– That is all that would be necessary to damn the honorable member irretrievably.
– The Minister, entrenched behind the wonderful beauty with which his Creator has endowed him, is pleased to pass a reflection upon my personal appearance ! But I shall not exchange compliments with him. Never have I known an occasion when a challenge was thrown out to the Opposition to behave, not as badly as those on the other side, because that would be impossible-
– I ask the honorable member to confine himself to the question.
– I shall be very happy to give my views regarding the clause of the Bill to which we have taken exception, about which the honorable member for Parramatta made the statements which called forth the comments of the honorable member for Adelaide. That provision enables the Governor in Council to prohibit the exportation of any article. We know that in practice the Governor in Council means the Minister. There would have been no harm done had the amendment of the honorable member for North Sydney been carried. He sought to limit the provision so as to provide for the prohibition of the exportation of produce likely to injure the reputation of the Commonwealth only after the approval of Parliament had been obtained. That amendment was defeated - every member of the party which calls itself democratic voting against it.
– The honorable member is not now in order.
– On the point of order, the honorable member states that the Committee decided by a majority against the amendment of the honorable member for Richmond. My understanding of what occurred is that we carried the amendment on the voices.
– The honorable member is very disorderly in using the plea of a point of order to correct the statement of another honorable member.
– My objection to the Bill is that it contains a provision enabling the Minister to prohibit exportation, not on the ground that it would be injurious to the reputation of Australian products, but because, perhaps, he thinks goods are required within the Commonwealth, and should be denied export. If the Minister, influenced by some fad, held that hides should not be exported, he could prohibit their exportation, and the producers of hides would then be limited to the Commonwealth market. This is not a remote possibility, because the honorable member for South Sydney this morning;, and when speaking’ on the Address-in-Reply. strongly advocated an export tax on hides. Should a man imbued with his mania find himself in the Ministerial chair, he would have no hesitation in prohibiting the exportation of hides. The Bill gives to the Ministera power whose exercise by one holding fanatical convictions upon economical questions might prove dangerous to the community.
– Most of us are going to stay in Melbourne over the week-end.
– I have no desire to prevent the representatives of other States from catching their trains, and should not take advantage of their absence by trying to count out the House, or in any other way.
– Would not the honorable member sooner have this Bill with all its faults than not have it ?
– Some of its provisions I like, but, as I told the honorable member on the second reading, it should have been amended. Could we know that he would be always in office, we should be prepared to trust him with the powers which it gives, because he is not fanatical regarding exportation. But there are some fanatics in the world, and we cannot tell when some con vulsion amongst my honorable friends opposite may result in another gentleman becoming the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– I wish to make a statement to the House which may possibly affect the arrangements of honorable members for next week.
– Very well. Perhaps I ought to apologize to my honorable friends for bestowing more attention upon the honorable member for Adelaide than be really deserves. But I did bitterly resent the attack which he made upon the honorable member for Parramatta, especially at a time when, if he had known the position, he should not have cared to attack him.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. Before the honorable member for Adelaide left the chamber, he saw fit to comment upon some observations which I had made in regard to a statement by the honorable member for Hunter. The honorable member for Hunter was present at the time I made those remarks, and did not think it necessary to reply to them. I venture to say that I made it abundantly clear that I accepted his denial of my statement in all sincerity. At the same time, I did not think that it was quite sufficient.
– I am perfectly satisfied.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Bill returned from the Senate, with amendments.
That the amendments be taken into consideration forthwith.
Clause 2 -
The Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act 1906-1909 is amended (a) by inserting therein, after section ten, the followingsection : - “10a - (2.) For the purposes of this section, the writ shall be deemed to have been issued at six o’clock on the day on which it was issued. (3.) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to entitle any person, who is disqualified from voting,to vote,” and
by adding at the commencement of section seventeen the words “ The Governor-General, or any person authorized by him, may appoint one scrutineer and “.
Senate’s Amendments. - Sub-clause 2, leave out “ on,” and insert “ in the afternoon of.” Paragraph (b), after “scrutineer,” insert the words, “ at each polling place in each State.”
.- I move -
That the amendments be agreed to.
The first amendment merely makes it plain that the writ shall be deemed to have been issued at 6 o’clock in the afternoon of the day on which it is issued. The second amendment will enable us to appoint a scrutineer at each polling place in each State. Otherwise, we should only be able to appoint one scrutineer for the whole of each State.
Motion agreed to.
Close of the Session.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
It may be necessary to ask honorable members to remain after train time on Friday next, if they desire to finish the business of the session during next week. I. wish to give them notice so that they may make their arrangements. The Government hope that we shall be able to dispose of the business which remains by the usual time on Friday, but honorable members know as well as I do what work has still to be done.
– What business will be dealt with on Tuesday ?
– The Judiciary Bill, the Defence Bill, the Estimates and Budget, a Supply Bill, and private members’ business yet remain to. be dealt with.
.- I beg to remind the Acting Prime Minister of a promise which he made to the House on more than one occasion,that he would allow a couple of days to be devoted to private members’ business.
– That is so.
– Perhaps the honorable gentleman has forgotten that promise?
– Not at all.
– What about the consideration of the Estimates and other matters ?
– We propose to sit on until we finish the business. I mentioned previously that it may be necessary to meet on Saturday. I cannot say more.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.31 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 18 November 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1910/19101118_reps_4_59/>.