4th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to bring under the notice of the Attorney-General a very important matter, namely, the remarks of Mr. Justice Higgins in regard to the registration of the Actors Union, of which the following report appears in to-day’s Age-
An order was yesterday made by Mr. Justice Higgins in the Federal Arbitration Court directing the cancellation of registration of the Australian Actors Union, his Honor remarking that in making the order he was “ compelled to do a stupid piece of injustice.” Although a number of grounds were submitted on behalf of the applicants - the theatrical managers - in support of the application, the one mainly relied upon related to proceedings by the deputy registrar in Sydney. It appeared that the notification of the application for the registration of the union was published in the Gazette on16th December,1911, and on11th January the deputy registrar granted the certificate, forwarding a notification of the fact to the principal registrar in Melbourne. Subsequently the mistake in issuing the certificate before thirty days had passed for the receipt of objections to the registration was discovered, and the certificate was finally issued as of date 7th February last.
Counsel for the union argued that the issue of a certificate on11th January was a mere nullity,and did not affect the valid act after the lapse of the required period.
His Honor, after remarking that he was compelled to do a stupid piece of injustice, said the mistake had hurt no one, but he was obliged to give effect to the objection, because it had been taken. At one time he had a discretion in matters of this sort, but the last amended act said that if an organisation were registered erroneously, or by mistake, the registration must be cancelled. He had drawn up a certificate of registration.
– It is not customary in asking questions to read long extracts from newspapers. The honorable member should condense his quotation.
– If I am infringing the practice of the House, I shall content myself with handing to the Attorney-General the report from which I have quoted. I ask him to see if he can prevent injustice being done to a section of the community which should not be treated unfairly.
– I shall look into the matter, and see if anything can be done to remedy the state of affairs complained of.
– Has it been brought under the purview of the Prime Minister that in the Geelong Times of 1st August, 1912, the following appeared:-
At yesterday’s sitting of the Court a family of five young children, the youngest being twins, were formally charged with being neglected, and they were committed to the Industrial Schools. A similar course was taken in regard to another family of four.
In view of such conditions existing in a country so sparsely populated, and in order to preserve home life, will the Prime Minister take into consideration the granting of allowances to destitute mothers with families, and so save the children from the cold State nurseries?
– My attention has not previously been drawn to the matter. While it would be congenial to myself and ray colleagues to do what is suggested, it is doubtful whether the work comes within bur constitutional powers. I think that, as- the. Commonwealth has undertaken the responsibility of. providing invalid and old age pensions, the- States might ‘ themselves look after cases of the kind referred to.
– Regarding the proposal of . the Treasurer to spend 000,000 this year on the transcontinental railway, I ask the right honorable gentleman . where he proposes to get . the money. The expenditure is . not a charge on the Estimates for the year. Is it proposed to borrow?
– That course was determined upon when an Act was passed last session providing- credit with which the Commonwealth could take up stock at any time. To all intents and purposes, the money necessary for the construction of the line has been’ provided.
– But not from revenue.
– No. There was no pretence that it would be.
Imprisonment of Cadets’ Parents
– In the absence of the Honorary Minister, who usually represents the Minister of Defence, I ask the Prime Minister if his attention, has been drawn to a statement of Mr. Crawford, a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, to the effect that, owing to the financial embarrassment caused by the heavy fines inflicted on parents for the nonattendance of their sons at drill, - some of the parents will have to go to gaol on -Monday next? Will the right honorable gentleman take steps to have the fines remitted? i Mr. FISHER. - I am not acquainted with the facts. It is most undesirable that parents should be sent to gaol for the offences of their children, and I shall, ascertain what can be done to prevent that ; but, if the defence system is to be of any value, the law must be obeyed.
– Has the Minister of Home Affairs any information to give, the House regarding the redistribution of the New South Wales electoral divisions?
– We are We are ex.pecting a report very soon.
– Has the at.tention of the Attorney-General been directed to the report in this morning’s Argus bt a speech by Mr. H. Y. Braddon, president of the Sydney Chamber of Com:merce, in the course of which, criticising the Royal Commissions Bill, he said_
Time was when they could’ have faced that with equanimity, having faith in the men on the Bench, but that confidence no longer exists.
Is there any justification for this reflection on the honour and probity of our Judges ?
– Apparently, Mr. Braddon, when making his speech, was ignorant of the scope df the Bill, and its actual wording. I’ shall, take an opportunity to consider the matter more closely.
– Has the honorable gentleman noticed that that reference by the chairman of the Chamber of Commerce seems to implicate, not merely Royal Commissions, but the whole Judiciary of the State?
– I have before me the paragraph from which the honorable member has been quoting. It would, apparently, bear the construction that it is a reflection upon the Courts, but I’ do not believe it was the intention of the president of the Chamber of Commerce to reflect upon the Courts. There is no ground at all in the measure to which he alluded to justify such a statement; and there is certainly no. reason to believe that the Courts of the Commonwealth or of the States are not in every way calculated to inspire confidence in the people of this country
– I wish to ask the Minister of Home Affairs when he can make a statement to the House as to what it is proposed to do during the current financial year towards the completion of the Federal Capital? We know that prizes have been, awarded in a competition for the best design ; and I wish to know whether the design which secured first prize is to be adopted, or whether the plan to be followed will embrace the best features of several designs. When will the Department be in a position to do something definite?
– We We have appointed a committee of the officers of the Home Affairs Department to go into the whole thing, and I am expecting almost every day to have a report put before me, recommending either that one of the designs be followed, or that the best features of several designs be taken. I have asked the officers to hurry up, and hope to be able to make a statement to the House within a few days.
– What induced the Minister to put on the Estimates for this year a smaller sum than was voted last year? Has he any guarantee that the Treasurer will be able to find sufficient money for the work he speaks of?
– The whole proposal might as well be abandoned if the Government are not going on with the work.
– Hear, hear !
– Las Last night the honorable member for Parramatta complained that ,£300,000 of the amount voted was not spent, but that is because we can get only a certain amount spent each year. If the money voted can be spent, and all the works started, you will have them dovetailing in, so that everything will move like clockwork.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister, in the absence of the Minister who represents the Minister of Defence in this Chamber, if he will give consideration to the claims of the Federal Capital to the holding of the first compulsory military camp there, within the next two or three months, instead of holding it at Albury as usual ?
– I shall bring the matter under the notice of the Minister of Defence.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether it is proposed to build the Federal Capital out of revenue, or to provide loan money for the work in the same way as for the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway ?
– The vote for the Federal Capital this year is for work to enable practically the whole of the necessary pre’liminaries to be effected before the next financial year begins. It will be time enough in the next financial year to say how .the Capital shall be built. I hope the work will be carried out as economically as possible, whatever Government is in power at the time.
– Did I understand the Minister of Home Affairs to say that he will not be able, so far as he sees, to spend more than the amount on the Estimates for the Federal Capital during the current year?
– Tha That was not what I desired to convey to the honorable member, because no doubt this amount will involve other amounts ; but the matter to which the honorable member refers can be arranged for through the Treasurer as we go on.
– I wish to make perfectly clear what we should apprehend from, the last answer of the Minister of Home Affairs. I understand him to say, generally speaking, that amounts would be added to amounts, and change would succeed change, according to the universal law of matter j but I really want to know whether the Minister proposes to spend the whole of the ^110,000 which he has on the Estimates for this year, and which is a little les* than last year, on the preliminary work for the Federal Capital ; and whether, in addi-tion, he intends to ask the Treasurer, iri the expectation of having his request granted, for such additional sums as will be required to show that the Government are in earnest in this matter?
– Whe When we have spent the ^110,000, then immediately, if we. can spend more, we shall appeal to the Treasurer.
– As there are some ugly rumours going about Victoria, and I see by the press in the other States, and particularly in my own State, that similar stater ments are being made there, to the effect that it is the intention of the Government not to do anything this .year with regard to the Federal Capital, will the Prime Minister, if those statements are untrue, give them a denial, or if they are true, will he tell the House and the country so?
– This Government is the only Government that ever did anything towards making the Federal Capital where it is, and preparing for its proper construction and development. The amount on the Estimates is an amount which will enable all the preliminary work to be done. A policy will be put before the country regarding the Federal Capital before any great expenditure is incurred.
– In view of the Prime Minister’s answer, claiming all the credit in connexion with the Federal Capital, may I ask him if it is not a fact that the Act under which the Federal Capital was established was passed by Parliament at the instance of the late Government, and that I, as Minister of Home Affairs, had the privilege of conducting it in this House?
– Which Act was that?
– Will the Minister of Home Affairs state whether the amount on the Estimates for the Federal Capital makes any provision for the railway from the Capital to Jervis Bay?
– - No.
– In view of the desire of the Prime Minister to get more credit than perhaps attaches to him in regard to the Federal Capital. I wish to ask him if he will pledge himself to give, out of the Treasurer’s Advance, to the Minister of Home Affairs, such additional amounts as the Minister has promised us this morning that he will ask for when he has expended the £110,000 now provided?
– In courtesy to the honorable member, let me inform him that the Treasurer puts on the Estimates the amount that he intends shall be expended upon any work, except in unusual circumstances.
– Will the Treasurer inform the House when he intends to proceed with the consideration of the Works Estimates, and whether they are to be dealt with before the general Estimates?
– With the concurrenceof the Opposition, I should like to put through the Works Estimates on Tuesday, before continuing the debate on the Financial Statement.
– The honorable member can have the concurrence of the Opposition in almost anything, but not in that.
– Will the Prime Minister delay action in regard to the erection of the Commonwealth Woollen Mills until the House has had an opportunity to deal with the proposal during the consideration of the Estimates?
– That would be an impossible position from the point of view of responsible government. The Government must take the responsibility of its actions.
– Has the Prime Minister forgotten the fact that last session, although the Government, in the first place, took the responsibility of fixing the site for the Naval College at Jervis Bay, they afterwards met the views of some honorable members with regard to it? Will he take similar action in a broader way on this occasion, and let the House consider where the Commonwealth Woollen Mills ought to be situated?
– My previous answer answers that question also.
– Does not the Prime Minister think that a naval college is in quite a different category from a woollen mill, seeing that a woollen mill requires labour and a naval college only requires brains ?
– The question raised by the honorable member is. not a matter of whether one thing differs from another. It is a question of responsibility.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
-The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
What is the average number of knots per hour steamed by contract mail steamers carrying Australian mails between Fremantle and Marseilles?
Mr. THOMAS (for Mr. Frazer).There is no fixed time of arrival and departure of contract mail steamers at Fremantle or Marseilles. The contract is between Adelaide and Naples, and the average rate of speed maintained between these ports by the steamers under contract to the Commonwealth, during the past six months, was 15 knots.
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
-The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
-I am unaware of any case in which long service furlough has been refused to an officer; but propose making further inquiries.
Mr. TUDOR laid upon the table the following paper : -
Public Service Act (Customs Department) - Promotion of V. S. Donald to the position of Examining Officer,4th Class, Landing Branch.
.-I move -
That the Ordinance No. 3 of 1912 (an Ordinance relating to Crown Lands, entitled Crown Lands Ordinance 1912), made in pursuance of the powers conferred by the Northern Territory Acceptance Act1910 and the Northern Territory (Administration) Act 1910, be disallowed,
I think all honorable members will agree that one of the greatest problems with which the Commonwealth has to deal is the settlement of the Northern Territory. We all realize what a vulnerable spot it is in the defence of Australia, and the great necessity, if we are to keep this country, as we hope, for the white races of the world, for filling that empty space at the earliest opportunity with people of such a class, and settled under such conditions, that they will form a contented population, developing the Territory and becoming our bulwark so far as the defence of that portion of the continent is concerned. Many honorable members have visited the Northern Territory, and know the condition of affairs there; while those who have not had that privilege have had the fullest opportunity, by means of reports, and of speeches made in this
House, to make themselves acquainted with its possibilities. All of us, myself included, who have been through the Territory, realize that in that great empty space there are magnificent opportunities for the settlement of a prosperous people. The experiments which have been made there in tropical agriculture have shown that many tropical products can be grown with great success ; and I understand that the present Government are establishing experimental farms, with a view to show whether there are any further possibilities in that direction. While we are all satisfied thatthere are many potentialities in the rich soil of that country, we must remember that settlers who go there to take up land and develop it, especially in the coastal regions, must labour under serious climatic disabilities as compared with people in the southerly portions of Australia. Time after time, even in the more favoured portions of the Commonwealth, and in other parts of the world, the leasehold system - the basic principle of the Ordinance which I am moving the House to disallow - has been found insufficient to bring about that permanent residence on the soil, and that proper development of the country, which it is so eminently desirable that we should do our utmost to encourage . in the Northern Territory. I presume that honorable members read this Ordinance, which has been drawn up in accordance with the principles of the Labour party. It is well known that that party throughout Australia are absolutely in favour of the leasehold as against the freehold system of land tenure. Doubtless they regard its adoption as the first step towards the realization of another plank in their platform which provides for the nationalization of the land. We have evidence in the press from time to time, however, that they are not in favour of the application of the leasehold system to their own private dealings, and, what is more, the Government were not at all anxious to secure a lease of the site selected in the Strand, London, for the Commonwealth offices. They would be satisfied with nothing less than the freehold of the area in question. The basic principle of this Ordinance is that of perpetual leasehold. It is set out in section 15 that -
Leases under this Ordinance shall be granted by the Administrator in the name of the King, and (except as regards miscellaneous leases), shall be in perpetuity, but subject to reappraise- ment of rent at the periods provided by this Ordinance, or in special cases at the periods prescribed by the regulations or provided for in the lease.
– That section does not apply to pastoral leases?
– It does, and that to me is one of the remarkable features of the Ordinance. Great pastoral areas are to be taken up under the system of perpetual leasehold. It may be necessary for us in the not far distant future to resume all or portion of such areas, and when the day does come, we shall have to pay practically as much for the resumption of such land for closer settlement purposes as if we had parted with the freehold. When I say that I object to this Ordinance, I wish it to be distinctly understood that I have in mind only its application to areas that may be suitable for agricultural, dairying, and closer settlement purposes. I certainly do not wish to advocate the adoption of the freehold system in regard to the great pastoral areas of the Northern Territory. It is the application of this Ordinance to areas that may be classified as suitable for dairying, agricultural, and closer settlement purposes to which I object. It seems to me that the House should have had an opportunity to consider the system of land tenure to be adopted in the Northern Territory before this Ordinance was issued. I recognise that it is in accordance with an Act introduced, if I remember rightly, by the late Mr. Batchelor, when Minister of External Affairs, which absolutely prohibits the selling of land in the Northern Territory in fee. The Minister in issuing this Ordinance is merely following the system embodied in that Act. The Ordinance provides for the classification of land in various areas which are set forth in section 7. In the case of pastoral lands, the maximum area that may be taken up under class1. is 500 square miles ; in class 2, 1,000 square miles; and in class 3, 3,000 square miles. These areas may be taken up under a system of perpetual lease, subject, of course, to reappraisement from time to time. Division 2 deals with agricultural lands, and provides for the issue of leases as follows: -
Class 1. - Maximum area, 640 acres.
Class 2. - Maximum area, 2,560 acres.
Class 1. - Maximum area, 12,800 acres.
Class 2. - Maximum area, 64,000 acres.
I have carefully examined this Ordinance, and find that it possesses several objectionable features, even from the stand-point of those who favour the leasehold system. There is, for instance, the proposal to which reference has just been made to grant perpetual leases in respect of large pastoral holdings which, in time to come, may be partly, or wholly, required for closer settlement purposes. I have no desire to discuss seriatim all its objectionable features, but I should like to draw special attention to the fact that it is provided under Regulation 9 that -
The Classification Board or any authorized person may require any applicant for any lease containing a covenant to reside on the land to produce to him a medical certificate of fitness.
That is an advertisement to the world that the Minister believes that those who take up land in the Territory will have to work under very severe climatic conditions.
– The Minister says “ Tommy Rot,” while one of his supporters indorses my view. Any one who has travelled through the northern part of the Territory must agree with the honorable member for Corio. Owing to the proximity of that part of Australia to the equator, it is hot there, not only in summer, but in winter. I visited the Territory towards the end of July, and throughout my stay the thermometer, I understand, never registered less than 96 degrees in the shade. The heat was very trying, and one could not indulge in any physical exertion, except at great inconvenience. Notwithstanding the Minister’s interjection of “Tommy Rot,” we know that owing to the heat and the presence of mosquitoes, and other drawbacks, the Northern Territory will have to fee developed under difficult conditions.
– I agree with the honorable member as to that.
– That being so, instead of seeking to impose, as is done under this Ordinance, the most harassing conditions, we should give people the fullest encouragement to take up land there. Honorable members of the Labour party claim that they take a special interest in the wellbeing of the wives and children of the people. I would remind them that, under this Ordinance, it willbe difficult for a man to make provision for his wife and family. It is a well known principle of law that a system of trust cannot be established under a leasehold - that in respect of a leasehold you cannot carve out a life estate for your wife with remainder for your children. Notwithstanding that a man may hold a lease in perpetuity our system of conveyancing makes it impossible to do that. Let me quote from a speech delivered by one of the most experienced gentlemen in connexion with land matters in Australia. Speaking in the Legislative Council of New South Wales, on 20th March last, on a Bill proposing to do away with the right to obtain’ in that State any more freeholds from the Crown, he used these words -
I do not like the idea of calling this a perpetual lease title, for i have an objection to a perpetual lease title. At one time i used to be a fairly good lawyer, thoughI suppose I have now forgotten most of my law.
– Will the honorable member state whom he is quoting ?
– Yes; Sir Joseph Carruthers.
– I am very glad to hear the name of the honorable member’s authority for I, too, propose to quote a statement made by him.
– This is his latest statement on the subject -
But the objection to a leasehold tenure is that directly you attempt to carve out of it estates under your will, or under a deed of settlement for the protection of your wife and family, you are confronted with all the rules of conveyancing, which will not allow trusts or life estates to be carved out of a leasehold. That is to say, it is held that a life estate is an estate in freehold, and you cannot carve a life estate - that is, a freehold estate - out of a leasehold tenure. How is the honorable member going to get over the difficulty for the people who hold that tenure? That is what I always had to regard in respect of perpetual leasehold, if I called my old tenure perpetual leasehold.
That is a reference to the Act to which, no doubt, the Minister intends to refer presently. The system introduced by Sir Joseph Carruthers, in New South Wales, was specially designed to do away with dummying, which was then very rife.
– He did not say so in the speech which I have before me.
– Probably I shall be able to produce another quotation to reply to that read by the honorable member. Sir Joseph Carruthers continued -
There is the law of conveyancing, and you cannot set rid of it by mere statutes. It is a very difficult thing to get rid of or to alter. It is founded on the wisdom of centuries, and you cannot carve a life estate out of a leasehold estate, although the life estate may be only in practice for five, ten, or fifteen years. And yet the leasehold estate out of which you are trying to carve it may be for ninety-nine years. Then you have to get a lawyer and go into equity to get round the difficulty.
I do not think that honorable members opposite, judging from their expressions of opinion in the past, desire to play into the hands of the lawyers -
I prefer the old freehold tenure, under which you have a freehold grant, and attach your conditions as they can be attached to a freehold.
Considering the difficulties and dangers of pioneering work in a. country like the Northern Territory, the leasehold system will press very much on people who go there, inasmuch as they will not be able to make provision for their wives and families out of the property on which they have spent their labour. These are not imaginary difficulties, but are well known to the law ; and I should be very glad to hear from the Minister how he proposes to surmount them. I have consulted other lawyers, some of them members of this House, and I am told that what I have read is absolutely good law. The people who go to the Northern Territory ought to be given the fullest opportunity to do well, not only for themselves, but for the wives and families they leave behind ; and to assist them in this, should be the desire of all who have the interests of the country at heart. This leasehold system, like a good many other experiments which are proposed from time to time by honorable members opposite, is as old as history. It has been tried in all quarters of the globe from the time of the Roman Empire downwards, and has proved deficient in every instance I have been able to discover. If honorable members will take the trouble to refer to the well-known historian Mommsen, they will find that the leasehold system proved a serious hindrance to the welfare and prosperity of the Roman Empire. The two Gracchi, who were the means of abolishing the system, wereassassinated for what they did; but the fact remains, as graphically told by Mommsen, that the institution of the freehold tenure was the means of placing 80,000 peasant proprietors on the land, and of saving the position.
– Unfortunately, it did not eventually save the Empire.
– It did save the Empire for the time being. The interjection of the honorable member tempts one to digress into a discussion of what really did bring about the downfall of the Roman Empire, but I shall refrain. The honorable member for Denison is very fond of quoting poetry, particularlyLocksley Hall; and I should like to repeat two lines from Gold smith, in order to show what, in my opinion, did cause the ruin of that great Empire. Goldsmith said -
Ill fares the land, tohastening ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates, and men decay.
It was the accumulation of wealth, together with lust and loose living, that caused the decay and disintegration of Rome, and this is what we have to avoid in the Australian Commonwealth.
– Freehold will do that !
– That is a “gag” which may suit a large proportion of the electors at the present time, but it will be for the Minister to show how much truth there is in it when he stands up to defend this Ordinance. I should now like to bring members down to the time of the French Revolution. It has been said time and again, and will doubtless be said many times in the future, that the lasting work of that Revolution was to end the feudal system and to initiate freehold peasant proprietorship in France. There is no difference, in my opinion, between a leasehold system under a landlord and leasehold under the State, except that, under the Ordinance, the land held under leasehold in the Northern Territorywill be subject to reappraisement every fourteen years; whereas very often, under private tenure, the reappraisement does not come in the leaseholder’s lifetime. France so progressed under this system of peasant proprietorship that, at the conclusion of the Franco-German war, the French people were able to pay the tremendous indemnity of£280,000,000, and to remain in quite as sound, and probably a sounder, position than that of their victors. This was entirely owing to the freehold system of peasant proprietorship. Then, again, the development of the great Republic of America has not taken place under the leasehold system. The Constitution gave Congress the sole ownership ofthe public domain, and it was wisely decided that all prairie lands between the Ohio River and the foot of the Rocky Mountains could be disposed of in sections of 160 acres, halfsections of 60 acres, and quarter-sections of 40 acres, according to the quality, with a freehold title, on payment of 7 dollars an acre. The result was that 5,500,000 freehold proprietors were placed on the domain. What has been the result?
– Hear, hear ! What has?
– Owing to that system, with the assistance, of course, of the great natural resources of the country, there has been established a nation of over 100,000,000 people, probably the most prosperous on the face of the globe to-day.
– How many people own the land?
– I do not know how many people own the land.
– Then I tell the honorable member that 9 per cent. of the land is in the hands of 1 per cent. of the people.
– That may be; but I am not concerned with that.I am concerned with the establishment of a system which brought about in the United States of America a prosperity unequalled in any other part of the world. I should now like to refer for a few moments to a country which, so far as its land laws are concerned, has been under the notice of the world for many years past. I refer to Ireland, and the painful history of that country’s agrarian strife. It is well known that Michael Davitt was the real author of the Irish land system, and that it was he who formed the Land League with the object of placing the land’ in the hands of the cultivators of the soil. History tells us that Michael Davitt was always a land nationalizer ; and his idea was for the State to purchasethe land from the landlords and let it out to the cultivators on leases of 999 years. However, when Mr. George Wyndham, Chief Secretary for Ireland, carried through the Imperial Parliament the Irish Land Purchase Bill, he gave the people of that country the choice between leasehold and freehold. Although the tenants of Ireland, north, south, east and west, idolized Davitt, they declared in favour of freehold, adding that they had had enough of landlordism, and that they did not see the difference between being the tenant of a private proprietor and the tenant of a State.
– Their political position was different from that of the people in Australia.
– In any case, the people preferred the freehold system; and we are told that£210,000,000 for the general purchase with £12,000,000 besides was advanced at 3 per cent. interest by the Government. The£12,000,000 was voted to finish the purchase where the tenants would be unwilling to give the full price the landlords demanded, and this sum bears no interest. The tenants are now paying their instalments, which are one-third less than the judicial rents they paid before the scheme came into operation. They will be the real owners of their homes after sixty-eight years’ payment. The result of this legislation has already created a revolution so far as the prosperity of Ireland is concerned. Honorable members who, like myself, have had the privilege of travelling in the Old Land, must admit that, when in Ireland, there can be seen signs of a great revival of prosperity amongst the people.
– The farm labourers are receiving1s., instead of 6d. a day.
– I am not at present concerned with the condition of the farm labourer, but with the general appearance of prosperity, which cannot fail to be observed, as a contrast to the terrible tales of distress we have always hitherto heard in connexion with that country.
– Anything was better than the landlord system in Ireland.
– I agree with the honorable member; and I mustsay that Ireland furnishes a painful chapter in the history of the Old Land. At any rate, the freehold system has, to a very large extent, relieved the position; and the result to-day is that the trade of Ireland is increasing, and, I think, now stands very nearly as high as that of the Australian Commonwealth. Let us now turn our attention to land tenures in New Zealand, where the difficulties to be encountered at the beginning were similar to those met with throughout the States of Australia. Land legislation and administration in New Zealand forms a very interesting history, in view of the Ordinance issued for the control of the Northern Territory. About twenty years ago, the two questions in New Zealand were whether the State should sell or lease the lands, and what would prove the most effective means of preventing land monopoly and breaking up big estates. The perpetual leasehold system was propounded in New Zealand by such wellknown public men as Mr. Rolleston, Mr. Ballance, and Sir John McKenzie, men of advanced democratic ideas. So far back as 1882 Mr. Rolleston, who was then Minister of Lands, introduced into the Lower House a. Bill to dispose of Crown lands on perpetual lease, the rent being fixed at 5 per cent. of the unimproved capital value, with re-appraisement after thirty years, and, subsequently, at intervals of twenty years. The Council, however, favored freehold tenure, and amended the treasure to give lessees the right of purchase at £i an acre when they had fenced their land and cultivated one-fifth of it. Mr. Rolleston fought the amendment hard, but as the Council remained obdurate, it remained in the measure. Between 1882 and 1802 1,188,071 acres were taken up under this law, the tenure being more popular than the conditional purchase or deferred payment system until then in vogue, because the rent was lower, and there was the right to convert. This right to convert was availed of so largely that, in 1909, there were only 87,000 acres still being rented, and I have reason to believe that at the present day practically the whole area taken up under the Act - 1., 188,071 acres - has been converted into freehold. Mr. Ballance, a politician of very advanced ideas, succeeded Mr. Rolleston as Minister of Lands in 1885, and his attempt to carry out the policy of his predecessor brought about a long and memorable struggle between the two Houses of Parliament, but the Upper House again prevailed. When Sir John McKenzie, who was not then knighted, became Minister of Lands and Agriculture in the Bal lance Cabinet, he proposed leases in perpetuity. Sir John McKenzie was a practical farmer, and a Scotchman of very strong convictions. He was determined that there should not prevail in New Zealand the system which had brought such disastrous consequences upon the small farmers of Scotland, and, being of opinion that when land is alienated in freehold, it is only a matter of time before all the land of the State gets into the possession of rich men, he determined that the land of New Zealand -should be held under perpetual lease. This form of tenure was designed to give the leaseholder the same interest in his holding as “is possessed by freeholders. The lea:ses were for a term of 999 years, but were ‘‘called leases in perpetuity. A man could take >up 640 acres of first class land arid 2,000 acres of second class land, the rental equalling 4 per cent, on the capital value, residential and improvement conditions being insisted on. The lessees were prevented from taking up more than one block each, “and there could not be conversion at any time. A measure embodying those provisions became law in 1892. Mr. Rolleston, who was bitterly opposed to the McKenzie Act, because it did not provide for re-appraisement, and, in effect, deprived ‘the State of its share of the unearned increment - which is what the Minister of
External Affairs desires to get in the Northern Territory - speaking against the measure in Parliament, in September,. 1892, used these words, which were prophetic -
This lease in perpetuity that the Government has accepted is practically a freehold, and there is no man who doubts for a moment that the residential tenure of the Act will very shortly bedone away with. It will not require more thantwo or three years before the people will rise against the persecutions, limitations, vexations, and annoyances such as appear under this. Bill. There is no unearned increment to come in, no provision for revenue in aid of local government, no aid to taxation in the future. This Bill, as it must be carried out, will destroy the land revenue. It fosters evasion, gambling,, and speculation.
From 1892 to 1907, owing to the greatprosperity of the country, land values ir* New Zealand increased enormously. There was a great development of the dairying’ industry, and a. great increase in the exportation of lambs. When those who had taken up land under the perpetual lease system became prosperous and numerousand knew their political strength, they clamoured to be permitted to convert to freehold, and their agitation was so strong that they ultimately acquired the right of purchase, and are now practically all freeholders. A similar thing has happened in South Australia in connexion withwhat a.re known as homestead allotments.1 in New South Wales, in Victoria, and elsewhere. Men -are not satisfied with leasehold tenure. There is some magic : a,bout the idea -of ownership that makes us all desire to own what we possess. This is shown by the Minister and his col leagues in private life time and again. Our very children playing on the floor show a desire to grab all that they can get.
– This .state of things does not speak very highly for us. The aboriginals of -the Northern Territory are .better than we are in this matter.
– I, myself, desire, in a legitimate way I hope, to get possession of as many of the good things of life as I can. That is human nature.
Mr. Thomas.It does not speak very highly for any of us.
– It is human nature. One of the greatest objections to this and1 other Socialistic fads favoured by honorable members opposite is that they think that the factor of human nature can be eliminated. For the success of many of their proposals it would be necessary to do away with human nature.
– Perverted human nature.
– No; healthy, wholesome human nature. Every human being has his faults and failings, and Socialistic legislation will not remove these. Coming now to the history of leasehold tenure in New South Wales, I wish to refer to a speech made by Mr. Moore when, as Minister of Lands, in1908, he moved the second reading of a Bill for the conversion of Crown leases. He then pointed out that 7,000 homestead andsettlement lessees wished to convert to a more secure tenure -
The tenures under this Act will be subject to no periodical re-appraisement. There will be an absolute freehold, subject only to a condition that when the holding is transferred it must be transferred to a person qualified to take up a holding under the Crown Lands Act.
Mr. Moore referred to the objection to the conversion, that it made no provision for re-appraisement -
In theory re-appraisement is all right, but in practice it is all wrong. The lessees live in a state of insecurity, not knowing what will happen them. If the purpose is to take from the individual holder the unearned increment the fairest thing is to apply it generally and to every kind of holding.
One of the objections to the Ordinance of which I am complaining is that those who go to the Northern Territory will never know how they stand.
– The re-appraisement will take place only every twenty-one years, except in the towns.
– The man who improves his holding, making it more productive and comfortable, will have his rent raised in consequence.
– Not if there is a Labour Ministry in power.
– What will be the use of making a re-appraisement if rents are not to be increased or decreased? Apparently there is to be no increase of rents.
– I did not say that.
– Then, if a man puts up a good house, and makes other improvements increasing the value and productivity of his holding, his rent on re-appraisement will be increased in consequence of his exertion and expenditure.
-In consequence of the value added to his land by the construction of roads, bridges, railways, and other public works, and the providing of markets for his produce.
– I do not know how you can distinguish between the values given to a holding by a man’s personal exertion, enterprise, and expenditure, and that given to it by the expenditure of Government money. Those of us who have bad a good deal to do with these systems inother places, know the difficulties in connexion with them. Mr. Moore very properly points out -
If you want to get the best out of the man on the soil - if you want to give him heart and encouragement, and the strongest possible incentive to make his home one in which he will take a pride - you must let him feel that he is not a mere tenant living in an atmosphere of uncertainty, but in actual possession.
The great objection to this Ordinance is that the men who will take up land under it will never feel that they are the owners of their property. They will always feel that they are mere tenants.
– They will not be mere tenants.
– They are mere tenants, whether they hold from the State or from a private proprietor. The people in Ireland made it clear, at any rate, that they saw no distinction between the State and a private proprietor as landlord. Mr. Moore further points out that there were nearly 5,000 homestead selectors, and 2.000 settlement lessees who held land under the Carruthers Land Act of 1895, and that every one of them wanted, in 1908, to convert their leases into freeholds.
– What became of Mr. Nielsen when he tried to abolish them?
– We know that Mr. Nielsen was made conveniently to resign.
– He was not.
– I can only judge from the newspaper reports ; and I should be very glad if the Minister would give us the secret history of why Mr. Nielsen left the McGowen Government, and was provided with that magnificent fat billet in America, while, at the same time, drawing his salary as a member of the House of Assembly in New South Wales. That, however, is a State matter to which we do not want to draw pointed attention here, and I only alluded to it on account of the interjections.
– There seems to he a good deal of envy on the Opposition side about these billets.
– I am not at all envious. I hope the honorable member does not think thatI, and others on this side, are envious of those who hold these positions. All we wish to see is that the positions are filled by men capable of filling them, and able to carry out their duties in the best interests of the people of Australia.
-Doyou say that Mr. Nielsen was not capable of making those inquiries in America?
– If the honorable member wishes to draw me on to make a statement about Mr. Nielsen-
– Order ! The hon orable member must confine himself to the matter before the Chair.
– I should have no hesitation in telling the honorable member for Cook what I thought about Mr. Nielsen; but I shall have to take another opportunity of doing so. This Ordinance is, of course, only in accord with the whole of the policy of the Labour party, not only in the Commonwealth, but in the different States. Mr. Holman, speaking at Cootamundra, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of21st April last, said -
We do propose to repeal the Bill which entitles the homestead selector to convert his holding, but under any circumstance he will have all this year in which to convert, and I think he will find that he will have six months of next year as well. We think that if we give the homestead selector twelve months’ notice that at the end of that time he will lose his right to convert, he will have no cause to complain.
Mr. Trefle, the Minister of Agriculture, speaking at Breeza on 7th August, is reported, in the Sydney Morning Herald, to have spoken as follows -
He had been specially requested by his leader (Mr. Holman) to deal fully and clearly with the position of the Labour party with respect to the Conversion Act. It was true that the Labour party intended to repeal the Conversion Act this year, but in consequence of the resignation of Messrs. Home and Dunn, a meeting of the caucus decided that the repeal of the Act would not apply to those who so far had taken up holdings, and the homestead selection and conditional lease tenures. The future land policy of the party, he went on to say, would be perpetual leasehold with re-appraisement of values for rental adjustments. The capital value would be based on the value of adjacent private lands.
That is similar to the system which the Minister has adopted in this Ordinance. Mr. Beeby, speaking at Millthorpe on 24th September, was reported, in the Sydney Daily Telegraph, to have said, in regard to the Labour party’s land tenure proposals, that-
The Government would offer land only in living area blocks. The tenure would be perpetual lease ; the rental would be 2½ per cent. per annum onthe capital value, which would be fixed by re-appraisement every twenty years, and the occupier could not sell his interests except to a person who had no other land.
I am indebted to the Minister of Lands in Victoria, and to the Commissioner of CrownLands in South Australia, for particulars regarding the freehold system in those two States. The Victorian Minister has furnished me with the following memorandum with regard to the perpetual leasing of Crown landsin Victoria -
When the reclaimed area known as the “ Kooweerup Swamp “ was made available for occupation, a considerable number of the applicants was impressed with ‘the apparent advantages of perpetual leasing, and preferred that tenure to conditional purchase leasehold, which conferred the exclusive right to freehold ; but, in a limited time, the holders of perpetual leases arrived at the conclusion that conditional purchase lessees are in a better position, as the freehold can be acquired by the latter at any time after six (6) years from date of lease, and! consequently a conditional purchase lease in the seventh year is recognised as a good commercial security.
Crown lands have been available since 1st
July, 1899, for selection under perpetual lease, as well as under a title under which the payment of the first and subsequent rent goes towards the purchase of the fee-simple; but in rare instances has a perpetual lease been preferred. It must, however, be mentioned that a perpetual lease of a selection carries with it an exclusive right to the holder to acquire the fee-simple by change of title, and although it. practically rests with him to determine the date on which occupation under perpetual lease shall cease, with a view to his acquisition of the freehold, yet even this privilege, together with other concessions, does not create any general desire for perpetual leases.
I quote this to honorable members to show that if we are to induce people to go to the Northern Territory, we must, under existing conditions there, offer them something equally as good as, and if possible better than, is being offered in the more favoured portions of Australia, yet in those more favoured portions we find that people, so far from being satisfied with the system of perpetual leasing, prefer to get the freehold in every instance where it is offered. The memorandum continues -
In a few cases of encumbered holdings in the Mallee country, where the lessees are not in a position to discharge the mortgages or to obtain agricultural allotment leases, perpetual leases are accepted as a temporary expedient, as the mortgages can be transferred thereto, and the freehold can be acquired at a later date. On. the establishment of the township of Wonthaggi, which comprises the State coal mine, it was intended to restrict occupation to continuous leasing, but to limit the term in the first instance to thirty-three years; and although it was subsequently decided to seek the authority of Parliament to increase the term to fifty years and to review the rentals every ten years, yet the lessees are not satisfied and press for the freehold.
That only adds to the other instances to which I have referred to show the desire of all those who settle on the land to’ obtain the freehold in preference to the leasehold. The rather lengthy statement which I have received from the Commissioner of Crown Lands in South Australia also bears out my contention. I shall not take up time by reading it, but I should like to quote from the Handbook of South Australia for 1908, page 184, the following passage : -
In 1898, in order to meet the growing demand for land, an Act was passed providing for the purchase of freehold lands for closer settlement. These were to be let on perpetual lease at a fixed rental of not less than 4 per cent, on the amount paid for purchase money, together with any expenses incurred in connexion with the purchase. Subsequent legislation provided for lands so purchased being disposed of on agreement with covenant to purchase, the purchase money being payable by sixty half-yearly instalments, with interest at the rate of not less than 4 per cent, per annum.
During the 1903 session of Parliament an Act to consolidate the Crown Lands Acts became law. This Act re-enacted the provisions for Crown lands being let under perpetual lease at a fixed rental for all time, and not subject to revaluation or disposed of under agreement with covenant to purchase by sixty half-yearly payments, with interest at not less than 2 per cent, nor more than 4 per cent, per annum. The purchase may be completed at any time after the first six years of the agreement. In1 the case of lands repurchased by the Government and subdivided for closer settlement, more recent legislation (1905) provides for payment of interest only at 4 per cent, per annum for the first five years, after which interest and principal become payable as in the case of ordinary Crown lands. Provision is also made for those holders of repurchased lands let on perpetual lease surrendering and obtaining agreements with covenants to purchase in lieu of the perpetual leases. The purchases of closer settlement land may obtain the fee-simple of their holdings at any time after the first nine years on payment of the balance of the purchase money and interest up to date. Up to the 30th June, 349,802 acres - including 14,716 acres of leasehold - have been purchased at a cost of ,£883,150, and disposed of to suitable purchasers, most of whom are successfully occupying their holdings. In place of comparatively few persons on the land at the time of purchase there is now a population of 3,945 adults and children on these repurchased lands.
This shews that the South Australian Government repurchased lands for closer settlement purposes, and offered them under a system of perpetual lease, but in 1905 they did away with the perpetual lease system, and, in order to get the best work out of the settlers in developing the land, gave them the right by purchase to obtain the freeholds for themselves. The system which it is proposed to adopt in the Northern Territory is part of the Socialistic scheme of honorable members opposite. The Minister of External Affairs, speaking at Broken Hill, said -
This then is what the Labour movement means.. In one precise pregnant word it means Socialism. Well, Socialism is your scheme as apart from all other schemes. He was speaking, of course, to the Labour leagues and the workers, to whom he was appealing for support. It is based on social growth. It is the common holding of land, and the means of production and exchange, and the holding of them for the equal benefit of all.
The leasehold system is, therefore, only a portion of the programme designed to bring about the nationalization and Socialism advocated by the Minister of External Affairs at Broken Hill. The first step is leasehold, and the second is land nationalization, but although the Labour Government in New South Wales had professed to be in favour of leasehold, and boasted at the general election that if given a majority they would immediately bring it into operation, it was found when they got into power that the only man amongst them who was game to carry out his principles was Mr. Neilsen, the then Minister of Lands, and he was forced to resign.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Although I wished to refer to .several other matters, I shall not ask leave to detain the House any longer,
– I understand that the honorable member’s chief objection to the land ordinances of the Northern Territory is that in them we lay down the fundamental principle of the leasehold as against the freehold system. Before enter- ing upon a defence of the leasehold system - if a defence of it be necessary - I think it right that I should briefly explain the particular kind of leasehold system that we have adopted. The honorable member for Illawarra will be prepared to admit that in this case we have not merely to consider the question of freehold versus leasehold, but to direct special attention to what we intend to convey by the use of those terms. There are certain kinds of leases which no sane man would accept in respect of land in the Northern Territory. For instance, leases might be issued with a currency _ of one year or twenty years, and subject to arbitrary conditions as to reappraisements at the end of that period. To that class of lease in respect of the Northern Territory most men would object. Then, again, we might have a freehold system subject to certain conditions to which even the honorable member for Illawarra would not agree. I take it that he does not think that the freehold system should be applied to the big pastoral areas of the Northern Territory.
– He said that he did not.
– That being so, he himself has proceeded to suggest modifications in the application of the freehold as against the. leasehold system of tenures. The mere granting of land under a freehold system is not in itself sufficient to bring about settlement. That is clearly demonstrated by the fact that, although the Northern Territory was under the control of South Australia for forty years, during which time it was possible to obtain freehold areas there-
– But leasehold tenure only in respect of pastoral areas.
– Quite so. Freeholds could be obtained in respect of land in the Northern Territory, with the exception of pastoral areas, while it was under the control of the South Australian Government, yet settlement there to-day is practically no more advanced than it was forty years ago. So far as a white population is concerned, fast tracts of country in the Northern Territory are as uninhabited to-day as they were when Captain Cook first set foot on Australian soil. We as a Government recognise that in adopting the leasehold system we must take care to associate with it security of tenure so that people may have some inducement to take up land. Consequently, we have providedunder this Ordinance for the granting of leasesin perpetuity. In some cases there will be a reappraisement at the end of fourteen years, and in others at the expiration of twentyone years, but we have provided that those reappraisements shall not be of an arbitrary character. A leaseholder will have the right of appeal to the Judge of the Northern Territory if he is dissatisfied with the re- appraisement of his land.
– To appeal on the question of the reappraisement - simply to settle it on a capitalistic basis?
– Would the honorable member object to that?
– The Classification Board, at the end of the periods named in the leases, will reappraise the land, and if any leaseholder thinks that the rental then fixed is too high he will have the right to appeal to a judge of the Northern Territory. Thus it will be impossible for rentals to be fixed merely to meet the. exigencies of the Treasury. They will be dealt with on just and equitable lines. Under the system we have adopted, a man who complies with the conditions of his lease will be able to hold his land for all time.
– Are there no conditions as to forfeiture?
– Yes; if a leaseholder does not comply with the conditions of his lease that lease may be forfeited. Then, again, the leases carry residential qualifications, and provide that certain developmental work shall be done in connexion with them. As long as he observes the conditions of his lease, the holder cannot be removed from his land without compensation, should it be found necessary at any time to resume it in order to meet the advancing population.
– Is residence required?
– Yes. We consider it is useless to grant leases in respect of land in the Territory unless we insist upon residence. Without such a condition we cannot hope to settle the Territory. Honorable members will recognise that as long as the conditions of a lease are complied with the area to which it relates will practically belong to the holder, so that it will be seen that we have made full provision for security of tenure. I think it only fair, in pitting the leasehold against the freehold system, to take these points into consideration. If we were to adopt the freehold system in connexion with the lands of the Northern Territory weshould, of course, have to alienate lands from the Crown, and I should like to ask honorable members what price thatland would fetch atauction today. I say advisedly that most of the land suitable for agricultural purposes in the Northern Territory is to-day practicallyunsaleable, not because ofany deficiencies in the matter of soil or climate, but because of it’s inaccessibility to a market, and because at the present time, with few exceptions, land there could not be profitably devoted to agricultural purposes. That being so, if we proposed to part with the freehold of such land at its present value we should have practically to give it away.
There would be a rush for the land in such circumstances, especially if there were no conditions as to residence. It may be said that we could part with the freehold and attach to the land, not its present, but its prospective value - that we should take into consideration the added value that will be given to it by the construction of roads, bridges, and railways. To do that, however, would be to ask the people to pay for something that did not exist, and that is not the policy of this Government. Our policy is to lease the land under conditions that will enable a man to apply to the development of his holding whatever capital he possesses, whether it be large or small.
– A man cannot lease more than 640 acres of first class land, and that area would not be sufficient- for any one with a large capital.
– He could, if he so desired, take up a pastoral lease.
– He might desire more agricultural land.
– He could acquire a larger area of second class land, but we provide that first class land for agricultural purposes shall not be taken up in areas exceeding 640 acres. I do not think that people with much capital will go to the Northern Territory at the present time.
– Do people with large capital ever go on the land?
– I think not. It seems to me that those who will go to the Territory now are men who have no opportunity to obtain land here, and who are practically without money. That is the class of men for whom we have to cater at the present time, and the leasehold system, is the best under which we can provide for them.
– The Government say to such men, “ We will put you in bondage for the rest of your life.”
– Not ‘at all. The honorable member for Wimmera, in dealing with the application of the leasehold system to the Northern Territory, said in this House quite recently -
However perfect the Minister’s administrative policy may be, if it be built upon a fundamentally wrong foundation, it is bound to end in failure.
I agree with that statement, and in connexion with it I would invite hon.orable members to consider what has happened in Australia. Is it not a fact that, although every State, of the Commonwealth started ‘ with a freehold system of land tenure, in no one State has the land problem been solved? Every State Government that comes into power, whether it be a Liberal or a Labour Administration, finds it necessary to bring in an amending Land Bill.
– The problem never will be solved.
– I am not so pessimistic as to hold that view, but this constant tinkering with the land laws of the States shows conclusively, I think, that there must be some flaws even in the freehold system. Does it not show that the system must be based on a wrong foundation? No one would be so presumptuous as to say that every land administrator in the States has proved incompetent, but that is the conclusion to which we should be forced if we did not agree that the freehold system itself was based upon a fundamentally wrong foundation. I shall not endeavour to bolster up the case for the leasehold as against the freehold system - if it needs any bolstering up - by—
– It does need it.
– I shall not attempt to bolster it up by quoting the utterances of those who share our political views, because it might be said that we were relying upon partisan opinions ; I shall endeavour, rather, to support our case by a reference to the utterances of men who are opposed to the Labour party. We all know Sir George Reid, who is doing a most excellent work for the Commonwealth in England. Sir George Reid, before he went to England, figured prominently in the public life of Australia, holding, amongst other positions, those of Premier of New South Wales and Prime Minister of the Commonwealth ; and he cannot be said to have been associated with the Labour party, seeing that at one time he declared he was going to devote the last few years of his life to fighting that party. However, in one of his final, if. not his final, utterances; in this House he said that the great estates of Australia must either be purchased outof existence or taxed out of existence.
– Where is that speech to be found?
– In Hansard/ I shall find it for the honorable member.
– The Minister ought to read exactly what Sir George Reid said.,
– I am certain he said: what I have quoted ; and it can only betaken to mean that, owing to the aggregation of estates, the proper development of’ Australia was blocked.
– - No proposal ever made more lent itself to aggregation than will this Ordinance.
– We are for the moment dealing with leasehold versus freehold. I am pleased that the honorable member for Illawarra quoted Sir Joseph Carruthers, because I, myself, intend doing so. In 1895 Sir Joseph Carruthers was Minister for Lands in the Reid Ministry, and had for one of his colleagues the honorable member for Parramatta. Speaking on this subject, he said -
Now, what are the advantages of this conversion? Let me say, for the information of those who think that the conversion will not be availed of, that the popularity of the homestead selection system has been demonstrated beyond dispute. I have thrown open in Riverina, where there has been the greatest demand for land, special areas which have not been taken up. I have thrown open there land for ordinary conditional purchase, but there have been no conditional purchasers. The moment the tenure of the land has been changed to homestead selection there has been a rush for it. The homestead selection areas which have been thrown open in Riverina have been eagerly snapped up. ….. The honorable member for the
Murray introduced to me a delegate from a large number of Victorian farmers, who subscribed together to pay his expenses so that he might interview me. It transpired in the course of the interview that he represented a large number of families and of men who were waiting for land to be thrown open, some of them being encamped on the Murray. I said that I should be declaring certain land open for selection under the old law, and his answer to me was characteristic of the feeling which is very strong on the part of those who understand the law’. “Do not do that; we do not want that; we have not the money with which to pay the deposit and to meet the initial expenses of ordinary conditional purchase. Give us the chance of taking up homestead selections; we can pay a fair rent for the use of the land ; that is what we want, and have been waiting for.” This has been my experience in other parts of the Colony where land has been thrown open by hundreds of thousands of acres under ordinary conditional purchase, and has not been taken up. In the majority of cases where land has been thrown open under this rent system, a demand has immediately set in. People are beginning to recognise that the value of land is not its speculative value, but the value of the product you can get from it. As soon as people understand the difference between these holdings and the old freeholds, with their fictitious values, we shall have a larger demand for this particular class of tenure.
It is rather strange that only recently I received a letter, and a very interesting letter it is, from an English immigrant, to the ‘foi lowing effect : -
I most heartily approve of the opening up of the Northern Territory, and of the conditions of settlement. It is an opportunity for working men which has seldom been afforded them. I, for one, shall be more than pleased to take advantage of it. I might add that I am an Englishman, and that I came to Australia two years ago with the intention of taking up land. I have hitherto met with more difficulties than I had anticipated from the statements of Government officials and circulating literature in England. The cause of this difficulty, I believe, is that I am a man of small capital; but in the Territory, it appears to me, I shall be able to meet your requirements, and, as regards character, I shall have no difficulty in furnishing you with references.
– Has this man gone to the Territory?
– He has not gone yet. In view of this discussion, it is rather interesting to know what has been done in regard to other Territories and Possessions. When the Papua Bill was introduced in this Parliament, not by a Labour Minister, but by a Minister who was a Conservative or a Liberal, or whatever we choose to call him-
– Surely the Minister does not put the two Territories on the same footing in regard to land tenure.
– I do not.
– Is there not a great distinction ?
– I am prepared to admit, candidly and frankly, that the system that would apply to one Territory might not apply to the other. In any case, what did the honorable member for Laanecoorie say when speaking on the Papua Bill? The honorable member certainly dealt with the Bill from the stand-point of Papua, but, in the course of his speech, he said -
It is desirable that at the outset we should set ourselves firmly against any attempt at land alienation….. We should avoid the mistakes made in the States of the Commonwealth in parting with the fee-simple of the public estate.
It is quite possible that the conditions in the Northern Territory are different from those in Papua; but surely the conditions in the Northern Territory are not so very different from those in other Darts of Australia. We may assume that that which applies to the main part of Australia will apply to the Territory; and we have the honorable member for Laanecoorie expressing the hope that we shall not make the mistake of parting with the fee-simple.
– The honorable member for Laanecoorie last session explained what he meant by that statement.
– Did he? At any rate, that is what he said. Then Mr. Kirwan,1 the then member for Kalgoorlie, a gentleman, who is not a member of the Labour party, but who knows a good deal of the subject, moved for the insertion of a clause in the Papua Bill to provide for the nonalienation of land, and he said -
In my judgment, it is to be deplored that the authorities of Australia-
In Australia, mind, not in Papua - did not early adopt the principle which I am advocating. Had they done so, we should now be receiving a revenue from the land which would be far in excess of the expenditure necessary for the purposes of government.
I may say that, at the same time, the late Mr. G. B. Edwards, whose loss we all deplored, strongly advocated the leasehold principle. The honorable member- for Angas, in the course of the debate, said -
During the sitting of the Convention the present Attorney-General of New South Wales and myself both brought forward provisions to prohibit the alienation in fee-simple of any part of the Federal Territory, and an argument which influenced a good many members of the Convention against that proposal was that the Constitution should merely create the machinery for legislation, and should not itself legislate. No such objection could be urged against my present proposal, however.
I have no desire to place words in the mouth of the honorable member for Angas, for no one could have a fairer opponent than that gentleman ; but I think it is fair to infer that, in his opinion, had it not been for the fact that a majority of the members of the Federal Convention thought they were creating nothing more than a machinery measure, our Constitution would have provided that there should be no alienation of land in the Federal Capital Territory. I admit that there is a considerable difference between land in the Federal Capital site and land in the Northern Territory, but, in view of the remarks of the honorable member for Angas, and of the fact that it was carried on the voices that no land should be alienated in the Capital area - that members of all shades of political opinion were agreed on that point - I do not think the Labour party can be blamed for acting on the same principle in the Northern Territory. The honorable member for Illawarra cited Roman history, and gave us quotations from this and that historian. “On the other hand, I prefer to deal with the utterances of statesmen of to-day, and I shall commence with the honorable member for Bendigo, who said -
The reckoning day of Victoria has arrived. The land laws have been examined and reason, enlightened by a sad experience, has found them wanting.
– When did he say that?
– About twenty-five years ago.
– The honorable member for Illawarra quoted Roman laws of eighteen centuries ago, and surely I may be permitted to go back twenty-five years?
Mr.- Greene. - Ask the honorable member for Bendigo if that is his opinion today.
– I quoted from historians, not statesmen.
– May I be permitted to proceed? The honorable member for Bendigo went on to say -
A careful study of the history of Victoria leads me to the conclusion that the unfavorable results which all deplore, and the transparent vices which all detest are inherently associated with the principle of absolute sale on which all those lands were based.
– The time for the discussion of this motion has expired, and an extension can be granted only with the consent of the House.
– Does the rule apply to the consideration of an Ordinance of this sort?
– It applies to all motions of this kind. I understand, however, that there has been some agreement arrived at.
– I wish to make an explanation. If the Minister is to have his time extended indefinitely, other members should be similarly treated. He is making a purely party speech.
– The Minister has been speaking for only half-an-hour, and, so far as the new standing order is concerned, has the right to continue for another thirty-five minutes; but, under another standing order, the discussion of motions must terminate two hours after the meeting of the House, and other business be proceeded with.
– This motion is in a different category. The Prime Minister agreed to give Government time to the discussion of the land policy of the Northern Territory.
– No arrangement made by the Prime Minister can take from the force of a standing order.
– Can we have a division on the question before the House?
– In the ordinary way, a division can be taken at the end of the debate. Is it the pleasure of honorable members that the standing order preventing the further discussion of the motion be suspended, or does any honorable member object to that course being followed?
– I object to it.
– An understanding has been come to by the Prime Minister.
– To take a division at 1 o’clock?
– No; to give time for this discussion. I trust that the honorable member for South Sydney will withdraw his objection, so that the debate on this motion may proceed until at least i o’clock.
– I withdraw my objection to its continuing until i o’clock.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the standing order preventing the further discussion of the motion be suspended ?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
– I have another quotation - from the speech of the honorable member for Parramatta, made when he represented Lithgow in the New South. Wales Legislative Assembly -
It is the one thing above all others that has cursed this country, and has cursed every other country of which we have any knowledge, and unless it be abolished it will curse these countries in the future as they have never yet been cursed. The initial wrong done to society is in attempting to recognise such a thing as property in land. There can be no property in land in the sense that there is property in houses or in anything else that men made by the use of their muscles and brains.
– I think that’ the honorable member quoted that passage quite recently. Would it not be better for him now to defend his Ordinance?
– I understand that the chief objection to the Ordinance is that it provides for leasehold instead of freehold tenure. The honorable member for- Illawarra has shown that in New Zealand, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, when opportunities have been given and availed of for the taking up of land .on lease, the lessees, ha ve subsequently brought pressure to bear to get freehold tenure, and that this movement has been successful. Let me point out what has happened in South Australia. Some years ago, the Labour party of that State, led by Mr. McPherson, desired that there should be no further alienation of Crown lands. After a good deal of discussion, areas were set apart to be taken upon lease; and,: among others, an area of land was provided)-, near Adelaide for what were known asblockers; and the blockers’ settlement became one of the sights of the place. Just as a visitor to Sydney is asked, “ Have you seen the harbor?” a visitor to Adelaide was asked, “ Have you seen the. blockers’ settlement?” and the Minister, with great pride, would drive you round, it. Had it not been for the leasehold tenure adopted, the men who were put on that land, who were men without capital, could not have got on the land at all. At first they worked for two or three days a week to earn -money to keep themselvesgoing, employing the rest of their time in improving their holdings, until finally they were able to devote the whole of their time to the care of their blocks. Having begun to make money, and having got on to their feet, they clamoured for freehold tenure, wishing to secure the unearned increment, and ignoring the fact that but for the leasehold tenure they would never have got on the land. Does that make leasehold’ tenure a wrong tenure as compared with freehold tenure, or does it prove it the better tenure for the settlement of the country ? The large area taken up inNew Zealand under the leasehold tenure shows how beneficial that tenure was in settling the Dominion. Directly people realize that there is something to be gained by acquiring the unearned increment, regardless of the interests of those who have no land, they clamour for freehold tenure, and use political pressureto obtain it. That happened in South Australia. As the honorable member for Boothby knows, men who obtained possession of land because of the efforts of the late Mr. Thomas Price acted with the basest ingratitude towards him, and tried to bring him down because he would not give themfreehold tenure.
– Does not the Minister anticipate the same trouble in the Northern Territory?
– It will be a long while before there are enough settlers in the Northern Territory to bring sufficient pressure to bear on the Commonwealth Parliament to secure the adoption of freehold tenure. The increase in the settlement there to an extent enabling it to sway the NationalParliament would be the strongest evidence of the success of the leasehold tenure in populating the Territory. Unless people’ take up land in the Territory, they cannot bring pressure to bear on this Parliament.
– That is a comical argument.
– And a very faulty one.
– Will the Minister deal with the pastoral leases?
– We are prepared to deal with the pastoral leases in the same way as with the agricultural leases, because there will be a reappraisement every twentyone years; and, when population demands it, the leases can be resumed under the resumption provisions. We must give special inducements to get people to go to the Northern Territory, and are doing this in regard to pastoral holdings.
– The Government is giving too much to the pastoralist. It is playing into the hands of the big men.
– 2,000,000-acre leases !
– The South Australian Government granted leases over larger areas than are dealt with by our Land Ordinance. Once we have attracted population to the Territory, we can see that the land is put to the best use. We say to those who wish to take up pastoral leases : “ You must comply with certain conditions, such as the spending of a certain amount of capital and the making of certain improvements; and every twenty-one years your lease will be re-appraised ; and, on giving two years’ notice, the Government will be able to resume any part or the whole of it.”
– Only for public purposes.
– For any purpose. Mr. Poynton. - The Ordinance does not say so.
Mr.- THOMAS.- Then I shall have it amended. The statement surprises me. My opinion was that we could resume land for any purpose.
– Then, before any pastoral or other lease is granted, we shall make, provision for resumption.
– On the payment of compensation ?
– If the lease runs out ve do not have to pay compensation. If we did, we should be always having to pay it.
– If the lease runs out we shall not have to pay compensation for anything, I suppose, except what has been done upon it. Until this moment I had an idea, because that was quite understood, as far as I was concerned, that the resumption clause enabled us to resume, not only for public purposes, but for any purposes if we so desired.
– It does, subject to the payment of compensation for the unexpired portion of a perpetual lease, and that will be so costly that you will never do it.
– I take it that the honorable member for Grey admits that we can resume for any purpose.
– With compensation. That is the whole question.
– It is admitted then that, under the Ordinance, we can resume for any purpose we like.
– Resume another Broken Hill, for instance.
– If need be. Now the question is raised that the compensation would be too high. We say that if a man goes there and we resume his land for public purposes, or for any other purpose, it is only fair and legitimate that we should pay him for the improvements he has made. I have never had one of these big pastoral leases myself, and do not profess to talk as one who has had great experience in pastoral matters, but if you are going to grant a man a lease for twenty-one years, and, at the end of the period, to pay him no compensation at all because his lease has expired, personally, I should not think that he would lay out a great deal of capital upon it.
– You are begging the question by making such an assertion.
– I simply offer that as my opinion. I may be wrong, but surely I have a right to an opinion on the matter.
– No one has suggested a twenty-one years’ lease.
– Then let us say a forty years’ lease.
– Say forty-eight years, as in Queensland.
Mr. THOMAS.If a man is to have the land for forty-eight years, and at the end of that time he is absolutely to receive no compensation, will he lav out the same amount on it as he would if he had the land for all time? Whenever we want to resume a lease, we pay the lessee on a fair and legitimate basis for what he has done. A fair basis of compensation would be to pay for any work the lessee had clone and any improvements he had made, but to pay him absolutely nothing for any improvements brought about by the development of the Territory by the community. That is to say, he would get absolutely nothing of the unearned increment. We provide that -when we resume land for any purpose, whilst we have to compensate the holder for it, if the value of the remaining portion of the lease has been increased by anything that has been done by the Government or the community, that increase shall be deducted from the compensation which we give to him.
– Who are the “ community “? Is it not the man himself who has made the improvement?
– If we build a railway from Pine Creek to Oodnadatta, for instance, the “ community “ will be the people of Australia, and not the people in the Territory. When I was in the Northern Territory a little time ago a deputation waited on me at Pine Creek and asked that that railway should be built. It represented a mass meeting of thirty people. They could not pay for that railway if it was built, and the people who would build it would be the people of Australia.
– On what basis are you going to compensate people for agricultural land that you are resuming now in the Northern Territory? Are you going to give them the value or are you going to confiscate it?
– If the honorable member refers to the people who have the freehold now, we are paying them on the basis of the value of the freehold at the present moment. I take it that if we want to resume freehold land in the Territory at the present moment, the value would be based on the price which freehold land there is bringing.
– Then you propose to deal fairly with them?
– I do not see why we should not. In paying compensation, I think we ought to act fairly, and generously, and liberally.
– I hope you are going to do so.
– But we are not prepared to give any compensation for the unearned increment so far as land is concerned.
– Where you are resuming the freehold, you are paying compensation for the unearned increment, but where you resume the leasehold you will not pay it. Is that the position taken up by the Government ?
– At the present moment there is some freehold in the Northern Territory, but in regard to most of it very little value has been added by the community yet.
– You are giving a very bad advertisement to the Territory by taking it for nothing.
– We are not taking it for nothing. That is very unfair of the honorable member.
– I do not mean that you are taking it absolutely for nothing, but. you are giving very little value for it.
– We propose to give the value put on the land.
– By your own officers.
– There is an appeal t® the Judge of the Territory if the owner thinks we are not paying enough. The honorable member is referring to a man who took up land in the Northern Territory twenty or thirty years ago, and has done absolutely nothing with it during all that time. Now that we want to resume the land, he” asks us £1 an acre, although he gave only 7s. 6d. an acre for it, and has done absolutely nothing with it. To my mind, ‘the very great advantage of leasehold as against freehold is, first, that the selector is not asked to pay anything for the land that he takes up.
– Not even the survey fee.
– He is not asked to pay anything whatever, so that practically his whole capital can be put into the land for its development. When resumptions are_ needed, the Government resume on the basis of the value that the selector himself has put into the land, and not upon the value that has been given to it by the community. The Government pay fully, and I hope generously, for the improvements and for the work and capital put into the land by the occupant, but do not pay a single penny of unearned increment. I venture to say that that is the crux of the question as between thea leasehold and freehold principles. Men are anxious for the freehold because, if the time ever comes for them to sell their land, or for it to be resumed, they want to be paid, not only what, they themselves have put into it, but also what the community has put into it. Men are to be induced to go to the Territory, according to the argument of those who advocate freehold, not so much for what they can earn out of the soil, as for what they may possibly be able to get out of the added values given to the land by the community. No man has a moral right to this, and, as far as this Government are concerned, we do not propose to give him the legal right. In the leasehold system, we are not parting with the land. We compel the occupier to use it, and we say that no man has a right to own land merely for speculative purposes. The ownership of land must carry with it the utilization of the land. We give every facility to people to settle upon the land, but we demand residence. We say it is necessary for those who obtain land in the Territory to go there to live. It. is of no good to the Territory that “persons should purchase or obtain land without settling on it. Leasehold gives the Government the opportunity of offering to the present occupier every possible advantage, without bartering the rights of posterity. Freehold, which admits the “ sacred rights of property,” to use the words of the honorable member for Parramatta, has cursed every community. We desire to save ourselves and save this Parliament from the curse of future generations, and so we have nailed our flag to the principle of leasehold. On that we stand or fall.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Gordon) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 12.55 to 2.15 p.m.
Debate resumed from 1st August, (vide page 1572) on motion by Mr. Greene -
That, in the opinion of this House, the regulation limiting the moisture contents of export butter to 15 per cent, is detrimental to the best interests of the dairying industry in the Commonwealth.
.- In the remarks that I made on this subject yesterday, I think I showed conclusively that the presence of free moisture in butter is not adulteration. I tried also to show why the presence of free moisture was a necessity, and endeavoured to explain the technical reason why 16 per cent, has been accepted by all the great butter-producing countries as the best percentage of moisture to allow, with a view of securing the greatest quantity of first class butter. I have no desire to elaborate the arguments that I put before the House yesterday, but I wish to refer to one or two replies made by the Minister of Trade and Customs to questions put to him in this House - replies which show conclusively that the information at his disposal is faulty, and based upon what, to my mind, are mere prejudices, having no real foundation in fact,’ A few days ago, the honorable member for Maranoa asked the Minister whether he was aware that 16 per cent, of moisture was that allowed under the regulations of the British Board of Trade for butter imported into the United Kingdom from any part of the world. The Minister replied to that question -
Yes ; but as the standard of 16 per cent, in Great Britain was determined merely to meet the trade in Irish firkin butter, heavily charged with water, it has little application to or influence on the Australian standard, the object of which is to encourage the manufacture of pure high class butter. . . .
In that answer, we have a mis-statement,’ due, probably, to the fact that the Minister is not acquainted with the true situation of the butter trade in England, and two absolute misconceptions. In the first place, butter carrying 16 per cent, of moisture, which is the standard in Great Britain, is not ‘ ‘ heavily charged with water. ‘ ‘ Fourteen per cent, is recognised as the standard for absolutely superfine butter, and no one will contend that an additional 2 per cent, would make a butter heavily charged with moisture.
– As far back as fourteen years ago, butter containing less than 9 per cent, of moisture was exported from Australia.
– I am aware of that; It is possible to-day under certain conditions to manufacture a first-class butter containing only 10 per cent, of moisture ; but it would be wrong to make an isolated case general in its application. We have in this answer to the question put by the honorable member for Maranoa the absolute misstatement that butter containing 16 per cent, of moisture is heavily charged with moisture.
– Would a better price be secured for butter containing 20 per cent, of moisture?
– No; because 20 per cent, of moisture would be too much for commercial purposes.
– And would not the position be the same in regard to butter containing 18 per cent, of moisture?
– Yes. If the honorable member had heard my statement in theHouse yesterday he would know why 16 per cent, has been adopted as a standard; by all the great butter producing countries. It must be evident to honorable membersthat that standard’ has not been adopted without good reason. . :
– Is butter ever sold to a buyer as an article containing 16 parts of water ?
– That is one of those questions which makes one feel that it is utterly hopeless to try to convince some honorable members of the true position. It is a question which, if I may say so without desiring to be offensive, shows the honorable member’s ignorance of this matter. If he had the technical knowledge which I and other honorable members possess he would not put such a question. There is a percentage of water in everything we eat and drink, and, as I have said, 16 per cent, has been found all over the world to be the best standard to fix in order to secure the greatest proportion of good butter under varying conditions of manufacture. The Minister of Trade and Customs said that the standard of 16 per cent, fixed by the British Board of Trade had been determined upon solely to allow of the introduction of Irish firkin butter into England. That is an absurd statement. British trade statistics show that the quantity of Irish butter introduced into England is a mere drop in the bucket compared with the enormous quantity imported from other parts of the world. In the last year for which statistics are available, ^25,000,000 worth of butter was introduced into the Old Country.
– Our proportion amounted to about ^4.000,000 worth.
– That is so. As exporters of butter to the Old Country we are second only to Denmark, and I have no doubt that before long we shall outrival our greatest competitor in the quantity we send there.
– We shall have first to get better herds.
– We have now the world’s record in the matter of herds.
– We have very good cattle in Australia at present, but I admit that we shall have better herds as time goes by. [ have no desire, however, to deal today with the question of dairy cattle. The Minister, in reply to the question to which I was referring when interrupted, stated that the object of adopting as the Aus-: tralian standard 15 per cent, is to encourage the manufacture of pure high-class “butter. I think I have shown that the presence of water in butter is not adulteration
– That is what the milkman says when a complaint is made that there us water in his milk.
– I willingly admit that there is a percentage at which the presence of water would amount to adulteration ; but so far as moisture in butter is concerned, one of two things is inevitable. You must either have buttermilk or water in butter. If you choose to have buttermilk, you will have bad butter; if you have water you will have good butter.
– And the less water you have the better the butter will keep.
– That is another of those fallacies which are just now obsessing the mind of the Minister. I showed yesterday afternoon that there is a point beyond which you cannot press water out of butter without producing an article that will not keep as well as if the water had remained in it. Let us take the case of two samples of butter, each containing 8 per cent, of water. In one case the butter, in grain and general appearance, might be all that could be desired, whilst in the other it might be so overworked that it would not keep. One must be aware of these facts in order to be able- to express an opinion on the subject. The Minister’s contention that the less water you have in butter the better it will keep is mere nonsense. Everything depends on circumstances. I impress on the Minister of Trade and Customs, as I stated in my opening remarks yesterday, that the method of Denmark, our greatest competitor in the London market, is to draw together the whole of those engaged in the industry, and to associate them with the Government in the making of regulations, some of which, I willingly admit, are necessary. The Minister of Trade and Customs has a grand opportunity, if he will avail himself of it, to so associate himself with the dairymen of Australia, who have now, practically, complete control of the industry in this country through the co-operative channels. They .have appointed their own agents in London to assist in the sale of their produce at the other end of the world; and if the Minister is really desirous, as I believe him to be, of framing regulations which will assist the industry, I suggest that he take steps in the direction I have indicated. There is now in Australia a body which is engaged in the manufacture and sale of butter, and which, I believe, would be only too ready to offer the Minister every assistance possible. For a number of years, the dairymen of Australia have been gradually drawing their interests into one common centre; and, without any assistance whatsoever, they have, during the last twelve years, brought this industry from its infancy to the position of being of the third largest, apart from mining, of the industries on which Australia is dependent for its existence. It will readily be conceded, under the circumstances, that the dairying industry is entitled to the fullest consideration at the hands of the Minister; and he ought to hesitate long before he makes any recommendation or regulation which is diametrically opposed to the opinions of the dairymen who have done so much for the producers, and for the country as a whole.
.- I have no experience as a farmer ; but, with other honorable members of the Labour party, I claim to have a great deal of sympathy with farmers in their struggles to make a living. They have all kinds of difficulties in the first place to obtain their land, and, after they get it, much labour and money have to be expended ; and, when their improvements are made, they are confronted with all sorts of risks from fire, pests, and so forth.
– And from legislation.
– The legislation of the Labour party has been in the direction of improving the lot of the farmer.
– The New South Wales farmers do not say so.
– The attitude of the Labour party towards this question is that, while we do our duty by the farmers, we have also to protect the general public, the consumers. I do not believe there is a single honest farmer who would object to the efforts which are made by the Commonwealth Labour Government to protect the consumers, and see that they get the goods they pay for. The honorable member for Richmond, in the course of his remarks, used the phrase “ commercial butter.” What is “commercial butter”? Apparently “ commercial butter “ is butter which is sold in a market, in which an agreement has to be come to like that of the two card-players, who were cartooned in the Bulletin many years ago, and who, as a prelude to the game, had to decide the question, “ Shall we play fair or all we know?” The honorable member’s attitude is, “ I am willing to play fair in regard to the butter produced and sold in Australia, but I want to be allowed to play all I know when I go into the London market.”
– Who said that?
– The honorable member for Capricornia, and no one else.
– That is the attitude of the honorable member for Richmond.
– Rubbish !
– Did not the honorable member propose to amend the motion by providing for “ butter for export “ ?
– Simply because that is the only kind of butter with which the Commonwealth Government has power to deal.
– The honorable member does not propose to start an agitation throughout Australia to allow the local butter-sellers to put 16 per cent. of water into the butter, or to allow 16 per cent. of water to remain ; he desires, as he says, to be placed on the same footing as the sellers of butter in London. I have here a copy of a resolution passed by the Co-operative Dairying Association of Queensland -
Moved by Mr. R. T. Read (Downs Cooperative Dairy Co. Ltd.), and seconded by Mr. P. M. Bayley (Pittsworth Co-operative Dairy Co. Ltd.) : - “ That the feeling of this meeting is that whilst the London Board of Trade standard for moisture is 16 per cent., the moisture contents of Australian butter should stand at this figure, and not be reduced to 15 per cent. as required by the Commonwealth regulations, and that the Secretary forward a copy of this resolution to the whole of our representatives in the Federal House.”
– That resolution was passed twelve months ago.
Mr.HIGGS. - It is dated 13th August.. 1911. The idea of that association, apparently, is that, while 16 per cent. of water is allowed in the Old Country, the butter producers of Australia shall be allowed to export butter containing the same amount of moisture.
– Does the honorable member know what the standard is in Queensland ? It is 16 per cent.
– The honorable member states that 16 per cent. is the standard which has been accepted by all the countries in the world for export butter. That standard, however, has been fixed, in the majority of cases, because some dishonest people in some country decided to export butter containing 16 per cent. of water. When one country starts watering its butter, other exporting countries very naturally desire to be allowed to do the same.
– It is not a question of watering butter, but of retaining water already in the butter.
– The question is one of watering butter. The honorable member mentioned that ^25,000,000 worth of butter goes annually into the United Kingdom ; and I point out that, with a standard of 15 per cent., that means that the people at Home pay ^3,750,000 for water.
– Absolute rubbish !
– As the honorable member says that that is “ absolute rubbish,” I shall reduce the illustration to smaller figures, and say that the honorable member desires to be allowed to put 16 tons of water into every 100 tons of butter.
– That is not a fair way to put it.
– We shall see. I do not ask honorable members to accept the opinion of one who has not been engaged in the butter industry, but to accept the opinion of experts in the dairying industry in New South Wales. The proper course for the honorable member for Richmond would have been to ask the Government to make such representations to the Imperial Government as would result in the standard of moisture permitted in the Old Country being reduced. The Imperial Government are, not protecting consumers in the Old Country as they ought to protect them, and as we protect them here; and I venture to say that 2,000 infamous quack preparations have not, as in Australia, been prevented from entering England during the last two years.
– We shall have to stop doctors from watering their prescriptions.
– That is to treat the question frivolously, although I admit that, when the honorable member was speaking I interjected, perhaps rudely enough, that he himself, considered chemically, represented go per cent, of water. However, that is not the point. According to expert evidence, so far as we have been able to gather, it is not necessary to have more than 8 per cent, of water in butter, the other 8 per cent, being left in for various reasons; and the standard of 16 per cent, is desired with a view to extracting from the general public more than they ought to
Pay- Mr. Palmer. - Does the honorable member assert that water is put into butter?
– I speak on the authority of an expert in this House, who says that, in the washing process, a certain amount of water remains in the butter. How does the honorable 1 member for Echuca say that the water gets into the butter? It is not the farmers, but the traders, who desire this 16 per cent, of water.
– What rubbish.
– It is desired by some who enter into trade and commerce, and are prepared to adopt all kinds of trade tricks to take advantage of the public.
– It is just the opposite.
– The public cannot be expected to be experts.
– At any rate, the honorable member is not an expert.
– I know the honorable member does not like the opposite view expressed, but he has to hear it. It is the duty of Parliament to protect the general public, who are not experts in butter, tweed, and a variety of other commodities that are sold. In spite of all our efforts, there are corresponding efforts on the part of individuals who are dishonest enough to make the public pay for what they do not get. What are we here for, if it is not to protect the public? Mr. Lockyer, the ControllerGeneral of Customs, reported in 1910 on the butter export trade of Australia.
– Who authorized him to do so?
– The honorable member for Kooyong.
– Some disparagement has been put on the report, but the passages to which I am about to call attention contain the opinion, not of Mr. Lockyer, but of experts. Dr. Thorpe, an eminent chemist, whose expert opinion is entitled to great weight, has stated -
The Committee came to- the conclusion, after hearing a vast amount of evidence, that_ the amount of water which might be present in a properly-made butter need not exceed 8 per cent. … I think that every member of the Committee was prepared to consider a report fixing the amount of 8 per cent, as being the fair and proper amount.
Proceeding, Dr. Thorpe states that formerly the average moisture of butter imported into the United Kingdom did not exceed 11 per cent. ; that, in considering the fixing of a maximum of 8 per cent., the question arose as to whether some margin or working allowance should not be provided for. Lastly, special consideration was given to the trade in Irish firkin butter, “ which is made by comparatively poor farmers, often with very small herds, one or two cows at most, and which was heavily charged with water.”
He concludes - “We ended up by putting it at 16 per cent. The effect has been unfortunate. New Zealand and Australia had prided themselves in sending us butter very dry; they do not wish to carry water all the way from Australia or New Zealand to England. The Danes had seldom exceeded 11 per cent. Those great butter-producing countries, when the law stepped in and made 16 per cent. the legal limit, said there was no obligation on them to furnish dry butter; the law would condone an amount of water up to the extent of 16 per cent. I am sure that the amount of water in butter now is larger than it was when we took up the question, and the consumer would have been better off if we had never handled the question of water in butter at all.”
The Danes did not attempt to put 16 per cent. of moisture into their butter until that was generally allowed.
– The honorable member is on a bad wicket.
– I do not think that I am on a bad wicket in trying to protect the consumers. We have as much right to do what we can to protect British consumers as to protect Australian consumers.
– The British consumers can protect themselves.
– When they have a full franchise, they may be able to do so. The House of Commons will then pass legislation giving the necessary protection. Dr. Thorpe says that there is no doubt whatever that the effect of the limitation as to the amount of water which may be in butter has worked out to the detriment of the consumer. In Victoria, since 1906, and in New South Wales, butter cannot be sold locally which contains more than 15 per cent. of moisture, and, during the past three seasons, the percentage of moisture in the butter exported from the Commonwealth has been considerably below 14 per cent. Mr. Crowe, the Government dairy expert of Victoria, is of opinion that the 15 per cent. maximum has been of considerable benefit to manufacturers, as it has been found that the lower temperature necessary to keep the moisture within the standard assists in recovering more butter fat in the churning, and thus compensates the factories for the extra trouble taken. Mr. O’Callaghan, the New South Wales dairy expert, has pointed out that butter with a low percentage of moisture is of undoubtedly better quality than butter with a high percentage. The mover of the motion said that increased moisture did not deteriorate the quality of butter.
– That is absolutely correct.
– I ask the House to listen to an expert opinion. Mr. O’Callaghan says -
It is a well known fact that if we increase the percentage of water in our butter to any thing like 16 per cent., we shall, without a doubt, cause a falling off in the quality of our manufacture. The keeping quality is bound to suffer to a considerable extent, because the process of fermentation which is brought about by bacterial agency will be carried on much more rapidly in the presence of 16 per cent. of water than of 12 per cent. … A salted butter containing 16 per cent. of water, unless the maker is a very good artist, will undoubtedly be of a weak texture, and will show a lot of free moisture on being tried with the butter borer. Thus the intending purchaser is prejudiced, and will not feel disposed to buy at top prices. . . The more one looks at this question in detail, the more one is inclined to ask the question - “ Is the gain that is possible by the manufacture of a butter on the border line of the moisture boundary worth the risk of the bad advertisement which any factory, or country, is sure to gain, if its produce is frequently found on its arrival in England to contain an excessive amount of water?”
I ask honorable members who have interrupted me in such an ungracious way this afternoon what they have to say to that opinion.
– They do not pay much attention to Mr. O’Callaghan in New South Wales. He knew nothing when he came to Australia, and he has a lot to learn yet.
– The commission men, the men who farm the fanners, pay no attention to expert opinion; they would be willing to put any kind of butter on the market.
– Our farmers have nothing to do with commission agents ; they transact their own business.
– That is true of some of them where there are co-operative societies, but those behind this agitation to permit a trick of the trade, are those doing business in butter in Sydney and Melbourne, men who probably never in their lives bailed up a cow.
– What we ask for was advocated by the representatives of all the co-operative societies in Australia, who met the Minister in his office.
– I am sorry that so many members of the Labour party apparently back up the commission agents, who regard themselves at a disadvantage in having to sell butter in London whose moisture contents do not exceed 15 per cent. Let me quote some of the leading authorities in Europe regarding moisture in butter. Professor Storch says that the moisture in wellmade butter will average 13.03 per cent.; Dr. Barthel says, writing in 1910, the moisture in a well-made butter will average 13 per cent. ; Professor Fleischmann says that the average will be 12.5 per cent. ; and Professor Vieth, who recently analyzed a number of . butters for the Aylesbury Company, London, found water present as follows: - English, 11.54 per cent.; French, 12.05 Per cent.; German, 12.24 Per cent.; Danish, 13.42 per cent. ; Swedish, 13.75 per cent. At the World’s Fair, Chicago, the average moisture contents of butters submitted for competition was 11.57 per cent. The evidence goes to show that there is no need for adding an extra ton of water to the butter that is sold.
– An extra per cent., not an extra ton.
Honorable Members. - Ha ! ha !
– It is a copybook maxim that the loud laugh often betrays the vacant mind. At the present time, sellers are permitted to put 15 tons of water into too tons of butter, and they want to put in an extra ton. We ought not to permit that.
.- If ever there was an illustration of the adage, “A little learning is a dangerous thing,” we have had it in the speech of the honorable member for Capricornia. Nothing gave me greater pleasure than to hear the honor- able member say that he did not know much about farming or dairying, and that he had never worked on a farm.
– That is not to say that I do not know more than you do.
– I am not putting my experience against that of the honorable member, but on one occasion I saw him doing a bit of land grabbing in Queensland. He had more land on his feet then than I have ever seen him carrying in his hands since I have known him. That is the only work I have seen him do on the land, but he knows that I have been connected with the land in Queensland ever since he has known me.
– Not in dairy farming.
– Yes, my wife had a dairy when I was working, and she earned more money with it than I did with my work. So that, if I did not know anything about it, she had experience of it. The honorable member for Capricornia has accused the honorable member,, for Richmond of wanting to put water in the butter. I can assure the honorable member that he is making a false accusation in that regard. All that the honorable member for Richmond asks for, and all that the cooperative dairymen in the Maranoa electorate ask for, is that their product shall be allowed to enter the Old Country with the same percentage of moisture as is allowed in butter from other countries. AH they want is fair, square, open competition. Why the Minister of Trade and Customs should want to make Australia the real white lily of the whole of the butter trade of the world is beyond- me. The honorable member for Capricornia made great capital out of the report of the Victorian expert. Any one who has had to do with making butter by the old hand process knows that the more you mix it the more you reduce it in weight. The oftener you work it, the more you bring the percentage down until you get absolute butterfat, and then you might as well have suet. He talks about protecting the Australian consumer. I venture to say that every man sitting with him in the Labour party is prepared to protect the consumer to the utmost of his power, but surely the honorable member wants to give our producers the same square deal as is given to the people in other parts of the globe, with whom they have to compete? I wish the honorable member was engaged in the butter industry, and then he would have a little more feeling on the question. I have one or two extracts that I wish to read. In the first place, I desire to read a little further on in the letter from the Co-operative Dairy Companies’ Association of Queensland than where the honorable member for Capricornia stopped. I may say that the honorable member is as artful and wily a politician as is our old friend, the honorable member for Hume. The honorable member just read one part of the motion, which is as follows -
That the feeling of this meeting is that, whilst the London Board of Trade standard for moisture is 16 per cent., the moisture contents, of Australian butter should stand at this figure, and not be reduced to 15 per cent, as required by the Commonwealth regulations.
The honorable member did not read so far as that.
– Oh, yes, I read it all.
– I did not hear the honorable member. The letter states, further -
This matter has been discussed over and over again, and the strong feeling is that the 16 per cent, standard should be maintained so long as the London Board of Trade standard for moisture is 16 per cent.
That puts a different complexion on the argument altogether. The honorable member for Capricornia would lead the House and the country to believe that the Cooperative Dairy Companies’ Association of Queensland were quite satisfied with 15 per cent, of moisture.
– No, he did not leave that impression on my mind.
– He left it on mine. I followed him closely, and I asked him what the date was, to see if I was in possession of the same letter as he was, and I followed, word for word, what he was saying. These people state, further -
Furthermore, it is desirable that the erroneous impression which has been created by one holding a high position in the co-operative movement in New South Wales in the Minister’s mind -
I understand that that gentleman was a
Mr. Meares by stating that the 15 per cent. standard would be acceptable to the industry in Australia should be refuted. This, so far as Queensland is concerned, is not so, and the gentleman in making that statement was not authorized to do so on behalf of Queensland. The strong deputation which waited on Mr. Tudor in Melbourne on the 24th August, 1910, re the butter industry, and Mr. Lockyer’s report thereon, was unanimous on the16 per cent. standard.
– I think it was on that day that Mr. Meares sent me the letter in favour of 1 5 per cent.
– He accepted that as a compromise.
-I remember the circumstances quite well. The Minister, or the Department, wanted to fix the percentage at 14 per cent., and, as a compromise, Mr. Meares said they would accept 15 per cent.
– In the hope that the Department would give way on the grading question.
– That is so. The letter concludes -
I am directed, therefore, to request the whole of our representatives to use their best endeavours in having the standard of moisture in butter altered to 16 per cent. By doing this they will be giving effect to the wishes of a large number of men on the land, and incalculable good to the industry as a whole.
That letter, a copy of which each Queensland member has received, voices the opinions, not of the middlemen, as the honorable member for Capricornia avers, but of men in the co-operative movement, who are speaking,not for their individual selves, but for the whole of the cooperative butter industry of Queensland. In his report for 19 10, the Agent-General for Queensland says -
No fault to be found with Queensland butter this season, and we have not had a single case of excessive moisture; this trouble seems to have ceased as regards Australian butter. The increase in imports from Australia is 45 per cent. and 10 per cent., taking Australian and New Zealand butter imports together. With the improvement now seen in butter imports into this country, the public, finding a better quality available without any increase in price, are buying greater quantities. Give the masses a thoroughly food and reliable article, and a greater consumption may be expected from the same number of people.
Queensland butter holds its own well on this market. The relative positions as regards average prices of the various descriptions of Commonwealth butter are this season the same as they have always been, though Queensland brands made a great advance a couple of seasons ago.
And, again - and to this passage I wish to direct the particular attention of the Minister and of the honorable member for Capricornia -
A large proportion of Australian butter is used by distributers for blending and milling purposes. The butter that the public buy at a shop is, to a very great extent, compounded of several different descriptions. This practice is perfectly legal and justifiable, assuming that the moisture limit is not exceeded, and that only pure butters are mixed.
– These dealers would sell us margarine for butter if we let them.
– They did do it.
– Is that right?
– Perhaps not, but it is sold as margarine.
– Until the recent Act was brought in, margarine was sold in London as butter.
– I am not discussing whether that was right or wrong. I wish to get back to the basic principle that induced the honorable member for Richmond to bring forward this motion - that is, we do not want our products to enter the Home market at a disadvantage compared with those from other countries. We are not asking for any favour. We want a fair and square deal from the Minister in this matter. Why does he want to reduce the standard for moisture in Australian butter to 1 per cent. below that at which other countries send their butter into the London market ?
– It is not less than other countries send their butter in at.
– Why not allow our producers the same standard?
– It is less than other countries are allowed to send their butter in at, but they all send it in at less.
– I suppose that we should do the same. The industry has a distinct grievance. As the honorable member for Richmond puts it, it is the third industry in the Commonwealth, and surely the
Minister should think it worth his while to consider the people engaged in it. I am not here as a special pleader for the dairying industry, but they are asking now, as they have asked continuously for the last twelve months, to be given the same treatment that other- countries are getting.
– And not to be ruled by official opinions.
– God save us from officialdom ! I have here a letter from Mr. Mant to the Minister, dated 22nd February, 191 1. He is the butter expert for Messrs. Aplin, Brown, and Crawshay, in Brisbane. He has the interests of the industry at heart, and wants to see the right thing done by it, both here and in the Old Country. His firm, who are exporters of butter, are not anxious that the moisture standard should be increased, except to put them on the same footing as exporters from other countries. He says -
You will observe that I advocate 16 per cent, maximum, whereas the Federal new regulations are to be 15 per cent, maximum. The London buyers are quite satisfied with 16 per cent, maximum. It is most difficult for a factory to tell exactly what percentage of moisture there is in butter
I should like the honorable member for Capricornia to listen to my expert’s opinion, as I listened carefully to his.
– I have a few to give you.
– I shall listen to them with great interest, because this matter affects a numerous body of my constituents, and it is only fair that “the man who represents them should voice their sentiments in Parliament. Mark you, I am doing this, not only on behalf of my constituents as dairyfarmers, but also because I believe their demands to be honest and right. I . am taking this stand more for that reason than for anything else.
I think if you were to make inquiries at the offices of our Department of Agriculture, you will find that the average percentage of moisture in butter exported last year from Queensland is less than 144 per cent. At first glance it would appear that if the average is only i4i per cent, why object to 15 per cent, maximum, but it was 14^ per cent, because the factories do not care to run any risk at all of being fined for excessive moisture at 16 per cent. If this reduction to 15 per cent, maximum comes into force, the factories will pay the dairy farmers 1 per cent, less for their cream, consequently the dairy farmers are 1 per cent, worse off.
That is another consideration that appeals to me. We want to benefit the consumer, but the man who is going to lose under this regulation is the man who sends his milk to the creamery.
– How would the consumer benefit by the adoption of this motion?
– The consumer does not benefit at all under the present regulation. By requiring a reduction in the percentage of moisture in the butter exported, we simply benefit the butter mixers at the other end.
– Then they add water at the other end ?
– The honorable member is not going to trap me in that way. If water were, to be added in the way suggested by the honorable member, the result would be wholesale adulteration, and I should not support anything of the kind. What I say is that I believe they mix our butter, which contains a reduced percentage of moisture, with inferior butter.
– Then they add inferior fat, not water.
– I do not pose as an expert; but my own opinion is that inferior butters, manufactured in, or imported into, Great Britain, and containing a large percentage of moisture, are mixed with the good butter obtained from Australia, so that the moisture contents of butter sold as of Australian production are thereby increased. Mr. Mant continues -
The present chart by which cream is purchased from the factories is worked out on the basis of 84.01 per cent, butter fat for 1 lb. of butter, and it is proposed now to prepare a new chart for 84.85 per cent, butter fat, in other words, pay the dairymen the same price for 84.85 per cent, butter fat as against 84.01 per cent, in the old chart. I hope you will induce the Minister not to bring the new regulations into force on the 1st July, but get the matter put off until it can be thoroughly threshed out, if. necessary, in Parliament, because it means a tremendous loss for possibly a small gain. During 1909-10 season the imports of Australian butter into England were, say, r, 150,800 boxes, at £2 ros. - ^2,877,000, which, at 1 per cent., means ^28,770. A fairly tidy sum to be taken out of the pockets of the dairymen. This season it would be over ^40,000 if the present rate of export continues. Then, besides this, there were some 46,000 boxes exported from Queensland to other places during the 1909-10 season, say, another ,£1,150, at 1 per cent., at a very low valuation, also all the butter that is consumed in Australia as well as the quantity exported to other places by the remaining States. You will observe from these figures that it is rather an expensive matter to the dairymen, and it is in no wise a certainty that the butter will bring a higher price by having the moisture reduced. The Federal Government may also argue that Mr. Meares, of Sydney, stated that the co-operative companies were prepared to accept 15 per cent, moisture (he did this as the Government in the first instance wanted to make it 14 per cent.) thinking, no doubt, that “ half a loaf was better than no bread,” but he did not speak for everyone, and had the’ matter been put in the light that I have tried to put it, surely the Government would have agreed to 16 per cent. I fancy the arguments used by the Federal Customs are that they wish the quality of Australian butter to be raised to a higher standard by reducing the maximum moisture to 15 per cent., and they say this ought to assist their object. As far as Queensland is concerned, when the Agricultural Department have any butter submitted for export giving over 16 per cent, moisture, the factory is fined, and the butter must be re-worked and brought down to the correct percentage before it can be exported, and I understand that in only very few instances in England, Queensland brands of butter are fined for excessive moisture, but I believe that the State laws in the South are somewhat different. As far as conveniences of checking the moisture by the Government are concerned, in Queensland the churn marks are put on all the boxes, but in the South I believe there are no churn marks put on. The consequence of the latter is this, a consignment of 800 boxes may come in from a factory, the owners do not want it grade marked, so the Government officer picks out 80 boxes, they may only be from five (5) churns (he cannot possibly tell) and they may be found to be right as far as moisture is concerned, and he puts the “ approved for export “ stamp on the whole lot, whereas, there may be some of the’ churns that contain excessive moisture, which latter are all exported. In Queensland one box is taken from each churn and the moisture carefully checked. The result is that in Queensland butters the fines in England can be practically counted on your fingers, whereas, I understand that there have been hundreds of fines imposed in connexion with Southern butters. Possibly this is another argument the Federal people may use for reducing the moisture to 15 per cent., but I should think it is rather rough on Queensland to have to suffer until the present system in vogue in Queensland is given a trial as far as the other States are concerned.
That is the opinion of an export agent, and I am satisfied that it is a fair and unbiased one. When T received this letter I made inquiries, both on the Darling Downs and up in the Maranoa, as to the accuracy of the statements which it contained, and every one to whom I spoke - both factory managers and dairy-farmers - assured me that they were absolutely correct. Here is another statement by Mr. Mant -
We certainly think that, as far as Queensland is concerned, at any rate, 16 per cent, maximum is necessary. We fail to see why it should be altered, considering that this standard passes the London market, which practically rules the world. If the moisture limit is reduced to 14 per cent, the buyers in London are more likely to reap the benefit than the producers, and there is no doubt about it that butter containing 16 per cent, moisture can be of excellent quality. 1 have no desire to labour this question, as I know that honorable members are anxious to proceed to a vote. I hope that the House will recognise the need for some revision of the regulation. As’ a matter of fact, if J. were the Minister, I would not allow the motion to proceed to a division. The dairying industry ranks third among the industries of Australia, and its exports to England in 1909-10 were approximately of the value of ,£2,877,000. Surely that is worth some consideration. I ask the Minister now to agree to the motion.
– In Victoria and New South Wales butter intended for local consumption must not contain more than 15 per cent. of moisture. We consume locally half the butter produced in Australia. New South Wales and Victoria, from the point of view of population, are the two largest States.
– I am surprised to find the Minister posing as a “ States frighter.He says, in effect, that because a certain thing is required in Victoria and New South Wales, the Commonwealth should take up the same stand.
– No; but surely our standard should be as good as that of any of the States.
– Is this another Protectionist argument? Perhaps the honorable member contends that we should keep all the butter, as well as all the money, in the country. If this is another Protectionist argument, then I can well understand the attitude taken up by the Minister, because I regard him as one of the hardest-shelled Protectionists, not merely in this House, but in Australia.
– The Age does not think so now.
– The honorable member has had the opportunity of meeting the Minister in another place, and I ask him whether he ever heard him talk there of Free Trade or Revenue Tariffism?
– I should not like to “ give away the show.”
– I ask the honorable member whether he ever heard the Minister, in a place where he could speak with the utmost freedom, support a Revenue Tariff or Free Trade? As a matter of fact, the Minister of Trade and Customs is one of the strongest Protectionists I have ever met, but I cannot understand why he should want to bring down the rest of the world to the standard of Victoria.
– No ; his object is to protect the consumer.
– This is most refreshing. I like to hear these statements, and I hope that Hansard is recording them, because, at some future’ day, they may be brought to light. Political ghosts, as we all know, are at times very inconvenient.
– The honorable member has said before to-day that he wished Hansard was burnt.
– I would vote to-morrow to burn it at the end of each session. I am afraid, however, that the Minister is trying to side-track me. I urge him to give the dairy farmers of Australia the same treatment as the Old Country extends in the matter of its imports to the butter producers of the world. We are not going down on our knees to him. We are not supplicating any favour.
– I do not say that that is the case.
– Quite so. The Minister has always received my representations with the greatest courtesy. I am sorry to have to make this statement; but T feel sure that if the decision of this question were left to him, he would deal with it forthwith. The trouble is that he is tied up with official red-tape, and is listening to officialdom talking with a big trumpet.
– Nonsense !
– It is not. No one knows better than does the honorable member that what I say is correct. Every one of our Ministers is tied up with red-tape, and I am one of those who are ready to come along, not with a pair of scissors, but with a big pair of shears to rip off the redtape and set them free. I ask the Minister to come out of his shell ; to do away with officialdom in this matter, and to agree to this motion.
– I have no desire to pose as a dairy expert, but I may say that I have learnt everything relating to dairying, from the milking of the cow to the manufacture of the butter, and the placing of it on the market. As a matter of fact, during the last forty years I have spent my whole energies in the manufacture of butter, so that anything I say to-day will describe my own experiences and express my own opinion. I have no desire to quote the opinions of others, except, perhaps, for the purpose of refuting them. The honorable member for Capricornia quoted Mr. O’Callaghan and Mr. Crowe as dairy experts who he contends have recommended 15 per cent., but if the honorable member will look at the Journal of Agriculture of Victoria of 12th June, page 380, he will see, under the heading of “ Butter
Analysis,” a table showing the difference in results between butter containing boric acid and butter without any, together with the composition of each. It is shown that in sample numbered 19, the butter contained 83.92 per cent, of fat, 14.50 per cent, of moisture, .43 per cent, of salt, 1.06 per cent, of curd, and .092 of boric acid, and that the points awarded were 90 per cent. This means, I suppose, points awarded either by Mr. Crowe or by some of his experts. In another sample, numbered 37, the fat contents were 88.68 per cent., the moisture contents 9.00 per cent., the salt 1.55 per cent., the curd .77 per cent., and the points awarded were 87 per cent. It will be seen from this that butter which contained 14.50 per cent, of moisture was awarded three more points than butter which contained only 9 per cent, of moisture. Points may be awarded on the taste and smell of the men who judge the butter, but analysis is the only sure way of ascertaining the amount of moisture. I know from long experience that there is nothing ‘more deceptive than the moisture contents of butter; it is almost impossible for any one to judge by looking at the butter, or by sticking the trier into it. I am surprised to see the evident anxiety of the honorable member for Melbourne to curtail the moisture percentage, and I think such views come with bad grace from a member of the medical profession. I remember, some time ago, I paid a medical gentleman 7s. 6d. for a prescription made up of 1 oz. soda hypo, and 15 ozs. aqua pura, and I paid a chemist 2s. 6d. for making up that prescription ; but I can believe that the water was the better part of the medicine. Some twelve months ago, when a deputation waited on the Minister of Trade and Customs from the Co-operative Companies, he said he would give the 15 per cent, regulation at least twelve months’ trial, although experience all over the world has fixed 16 per cent, as reasonable. In order to show that the industry is an important one and deserves some consideration, I may point out that the figures for 1910, which are the latest available, show that there was in that year exported from Australia 87,894,943 lbs., valued at .£3.951, 131- Charges have been made in this House and outside by some of our friends on the Ministerial side, to the effect that moisture in butter puts money into the coffers of the manufacturers or middlemen; indeed, the honorable member for Capricornia hinted this afternoon that it is the commercial men who benefit. 1 Mr. Higgs. - I believe the commercial men will get more of the benefit than will the dairy-farmers.
– That interjection shows that the honorable member for Capricornia has not kept abreast of the cooperative movement. Some years ago the middlemen got all the advantage out of the dairying industry ; but there was an awakening amongst the farmers, who united for the purpose of doing their own business. At present, in the three leading dairying States, the greater proportion of the manufacture and distribution are conducted by the farmers themselves.
– Does the honorable member mean that the farmers have gone in for Socialistic co-operation?
– They have gone in for co-operation without Socialism.
– That is impossible !
– The farmers have united to look after their own interests and see that the “ other fellow” does not “ take them down.” I wish to emphatically deny the imputation that butter manufacturers have any desire to adulterate their product. The honorable member for Richmond has made out a very good case, and ‘has given us a let of expert opinion as to how butter should be manufactured, and so on. It is absolutely necessary, in order to make good butter, to wash it thoroughly, and the next question is - How much moisture should be taken out, or how much should be left in, good butter? Of course, what the honorable member for Capricornia desires to pump into the ears of the people of Australia seems a terrible indictment, but may T remind him that every ton of bread which is consumed contains half a ton of moisture? Vet nothing is said about that matter. I think that this new regulation will confer no benefit upon the producers; but, in time to come, it will undoubtedly lead to more adulteration than exists at present. Its only object is to protect the consumer on the other side of the water, who, I am quite sure, is well able to protect himself. It simply means allowing blenders oversea to manipulate our dry butter to their own advantage. Mr. Higgs. - How can it be manipulated ?
– A large proportion of our butter is being bought up for blending purposes. Quite recently a considerable quantity of it was sent away in an unsalted condition. That butter will be bought up by blenders on the other side of the world, and milk, and probably water, will be pumped into it. Every ounce of moisture that we take out of it here merely affords an opportunity to blenders oversea to put exactly that much more into it. I wish now to refer to an answer which was given by the Minister of Trade and Customs to a question which was put to him on the 10th July by the honorable member .for Maranoa. The honorable member asked -
Whether he is aware that the British Board of Trade regulations allow butter containing up to 16 per cent, of moisture to be imported into Great Britain from any’ part of the world?
I am quite sure that the Minister was not responsible for the reply given to that question, which reads -
The following, table shows the average moisture contents in butters tested for export from the Commonwealth and New Zealand during the past three years : -
Now. it has been contended that since this new regulation came into force there has been an increase in the moisture contents of butter. I do not think that tHat is the case. It is a well-known fact that during the past year the Department which has charge of this matter has paid a great deal more attention to butter than it did pre- .viously. During the past twelve months more samples have been tested by it than were tested formerly. Here I may be permitted to interpolate that it is not the sample that shows the most free moisture which contains the most moisture. The honorable member for Richmond was a little mixed upon this aspect of the question, but with the remainder of his speech I am in entire agreement. When I refer to “ free “ moisture, I mean moisture which will run away from butter or shows itself freely. I wish now to refer to an article which was written by Mr. Crowe, and published in the Agricultural Journal. It is a very useful article, although, to some extent, it tells against the argument which I am now advancing. I commend Mr. Crowe for the article, and if it were not for the fear of wearying the
House, I should be very glad to get the whole of it into Hansard. In speaking of the moisture contents of butter, he says that the average moisture contents of all samples analyzed during the past year was 13.91, as against 13.82 for 1910-11. That is an increase of only . 9 per cent. He further says that the Western District averaged 14.12 per cent., the Co-operative factories showed a percentage of 14.9, and the proprietary of 14.15. In Gippsland the average was 14.06; Co-operative, 14.12; proprietary, 13.89. In the north and northeast, the average was 14.01 ; Co-operative, 13,96 ; proprietary, 14.16. In the city the average was 13-74.
This is what I particularly wish to call attention to -
One hundred and thirty-one consignments, representing five thousand and eight boxes, contained over fifteen per cent. The following is a summary of the 3,394 samples analyzed - over 16 per cent., 45 samples, 1.33 per cent. ; over 15 per cent., 154 samples,. 4.53 per cent. ; over 14 per cent., 1,458 samples, 42.96 per cent. ; over 13 per cent., 1,231 samples, 36.27 per cent. ; under 13 per cent., 506 samples, 14.91 per cent.
It will be seen that, although the average moisture contents in Victoria were 13.91, a large number of samples were tested which contained over that amount, whilst 199 odd samples contained over 15 per cent. At this stage I ask leave to continue my remarks on a future occasion.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate without request.
Order of Business. - Assault by Free Labourers. - Press Misrepresentations. - Prosecution ofCadets. - Surrender of Powers by States. - Immigration. - Western Australian State Electorates. - Australian Women’s National League : Misstatements.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I desire to state that theGovernment intend to take the Works Estimates on Tuesday, and, if possible, to finish them. It has been the practice hitherto to take the Works Estimates on the same evening as the Budget.
– What the Minister says may have been done once; but it has not been the custom.
– It is the hope of the Government that we shall be able to finish these Estimates on Tuesday evening.
.- I wish to call the attention of the Minister representing the Postmaster- General to a reported assault committed by free labourers in his Department on a member of a trade union. The telegram which I have received in reference to the matter reads as follows : -
I have complaint to make about the treatmentI received from the free labourers working for Federal Government on telegraph line from Nullagine to Peak Hill. Started to cook for the gang on the 22nd May; all went well to the 10th of July, when the free labourers insulted me in the execution of my duty as cook; told the manager get another cook, I would not cook for such men ; reached Nullagine on 16th ; one of the same men assaulted me in camp, and another called out, “ Give it to him.” I reported the matter to the manager, Mr. Grant. Will the Postmaster-General have inquiry at Nullagine, as all the party are here, and decide who will have to go on the road, unionist or free labourer.
As these men may be scattered shortly, I suggest that immediate action, with a view to an early inquiry into the circumstances, should be taken. It is extraordinary that a man should be set upon in this way, apparently because he happens to be a unionist. First of all, I see no reason why free labourers should be employed on work of the kind where equally competent union labour is available. I notice that the right honorable member for Swan is willing to cheer an assault on unionists.
– Anything that is unfair is fair enough for the honorable member to say.
– After the exhibition which the right honorable member made of himself on Tuesday night, he should be careful. It was the most pitiable exhibition I have seen for a long time. I am only asking that this unfortunate unionist shall get fair play. I do not know whether the assault occurred because he was a unionist or not.
– T - That would be it.
– The statement is that the man was assaulted, and the mere fact that he was a unionist ought not to put him beyond the pale of protection.
Although I have often had good grounds for complaint against the press, this is the first time in over’ eleven years in this House that I have risen to resent a misrepresentation. I happen to know sufficient about the inner workings of newspapers to enable me to discount their criticism of my conduct. My experience on the press as a reporter warrants me in saying that I know what is expected from a reporter. And I doubt whether any decent newspaper expects its representative in this Parliament to take up a partisan attitude, or would knowingly allow him to gratify in its columns his personal bias. It certainly was not expected of journalists in my time on the press. I never object to what a newspaper says about me if it represents fairly what I have .said and1 done. I think that the position of politicians generally ‘is this - that newspapers can say whatever they like about them, as long as they report them fairly, and give the public an opportunity of learning the true facts on which the journals comment. Unfortunately, however, that is not the experience of honorable members in this House. For instance, I hold in my hand a copy of a report sent to the Sydney Morning Herald about the debates in this House last week. Of course, this is not the first time that the creature who is responsible for these reports - and I say, as an old newspaper man, that in my opinion he is utterly incompetent for the position in which, he is placed-
– Why not name him ? That is the only way to make them sit up. Name the right man, and do not place the innocent under suspicion.
– I do not think that any one is in doubt about the identity of the person referred to. Speaking of die division on the redistribution of Queensland electorates, this individual writes to the effect that the Labour party only considered “ the welfare of the sitting members.” He speaks of the action, of the honorable member for Herbert in opposing the adoption of the Queensland scheme as being a “ pitiable appeal to his fellow-members to get him what he called a fair deal.” Then there is an implication that Ministers were insincere in voting in favour of the report of the Commissioners, and that the whole thing was a put-up job. The real truth is, of course, that Ministers took a very high stand, quite different to that of the late Government in similar circumstances. If our Ministers had followed the precedent established by honorable members opposite, they would have voted for the rejection of the Commissioners’ report. I think, personally, that Ministers acted under a mistaken sense of loyalty to the Commissioners. The . latter - are fallible human beings, liable to err like the rest of us; and if the House thinks they have made an error, there is no . reflection on them in sending their report back for reconsideration. That is all that the House did ; and these charges about gerrymandering in which the right honorable member for Swan indulged were so much moonshine, as he himself well knows.
– I believe all that I said.
– ‘” Gerrymandering,” indeed ! A charge like this from a man who so arranged the electorates of Western Australia that sixty-four voters in Ashburton had the same representation in the State Parliament as 6,000 electors in Kal- ;goorlie That is the gentleman who talks about gerrymandering !
– I do not think that . is so, any way. ‘
– I can prove it from official Western Australian statistics, which, can be obtained from the Library in five, minutes.
– Very good ; let the honorable member obtain them. I do not think there was an electorate in Western Australia with only sixty-four electors in it- .
– That “was not the total number of those who went to the poll. . It was the total number of. the electors on the roll for the constituency. Moreover, thirty-six electors in the Kimberley constituency returned a member to the Legislative- Assembly, and thirty-two electors returned another member. That is. how the honorable gentleman kept in. power. Yet in a burst of well-simulated indignation he speaks of some one else :S having gerrymandered.
– I have not tried to. make a seat safe for myself like the hon’orable member.
– If the honorable mem-; ber continues in that strain, I may have to say some things which ought -to appear in’ Hansard, and which will. appear there if he is not careful.”
– Say them; I defy! the honorable member.
-Hot air! Ajax defying the lightning ! I prefer to put some re- ‘straint on myself ; unlike the right honorable member.
– I do not thank the honorable member for it.
– The honorable member does not thank any one for anything. He is the great dictator, and anything done for him is done because of his great merits, and is only what he deserves ! There is no reciprocal obligation on his part towards those who treat him with respect and forbearance. He would not acknowledge that anything was done out of good feeling, or because of the courtesy which should exist in the relations between gentlemen. He regards every concession made to him as a tribute to his greatness and eminence. I am putting a certain amount of restraint on myself in regard to his utterances, though I admit that he is giving me great provocation.
– I do not thank the honorable member.
– I do not expect thanks from some quarters. But the right honorable gentleman must not misinterpret my self-restraint in dealing with him.
– If the honorable member is not prepared to strike, he should not talk about doing it.
– I am not afraid to strike, but self-respect and consideration for the dignity of Parliament restrains me from saying what I could say.
– Why bluster and talk about it?
– The honorable member is not the courageous personality that he professes to be, and of which he assumes the airs in this Chamber. There was an occasion when he ran away in the most pusillanimous fashion from a few infuriated diggers at Kalgoorlie. Now he is preparing to skedaddle from the electorate which he has represented ever since constitutional government was conferred on Western Australia.
– The right honorable member did not run away.
– He is preparing for a. retreat from “ the birthplace.” I regret that I have been carried beyond what I intended to say. The individual who writes for the Sydney Morning Herald, and from whose article I have been quoting, added that the Commissioners for Western Australia - met and drew up what theythought , was a fair scheme for the re-allotment of electors.
I do not know what is meant by the “ reallotment of electors” I could under stand the term “ readjustment of divisions.”
Their proposal, however, does not please Mr. Mahon at all. To begin with, some of his best mining supporters are sneaked off him, and handed over to Mr. Frazer, and, to make matters worse, he is given in exchange a large batch of farmers from Sir John Forrest’s electorate. What does a Labour man want with farmers?
I never knew that there was any hostility between the Labour party and the farming element. I am the son of a farmer, was born on a farm, and lived on a farm until I was sixteen years of age ; so that I do not know why I should be hostile to farmers, or they to me. No doubt, there are many other members of the Labour party who are quite as intimately connected with the farming interest. All my friends are farmers ; all myrelations are still on the land; and I am sorry that I am not there myself, instead of being Here.
– So am I.
– I thank the honorable gentleman for the implied compliment. To continue the quotation from the Herald -
What does a Labour man want with farmers? They are only a menace to him, and Mr. Mahon has determined to get rid of them if he can.
That is a deliberate and unblushing falsehood. If this incompetent individual had taken the trouble to look at the map, he would know that I was not trying to get rid of the farmers at all.
– The honorable member was trying to destroy their influence.
– Nothing of the kind. I was trying to retain in my electorate people who have been there since the beginning of Federation.
– What electorate belongs to the honorable member?
– I still have an electorate. The electorate of Coolgardie remains to-day untouched, in spite of the efforts of the honorable member. I have the same rights in this House as the honorable member, and I intend to exercise them.
– T - The honorable member has more rights, because he is on the side of the majority.
– I made no effort whatever to alter the boundaries of the electorate so as to affect the vote of a single farmer.
– The honorable member tried to swamp the farming vote.
– And the right honorable member: tried to swamp the mining vote.
– The honorable member for Coolgardie must not discuss a matter that has been already settled by the House.
– I am merely replying to the malicious inventions of an individual who, not for the first time, has maligned me in the basest and most flagrant manner.
– The honorable member has not treated him very well. He has spoken of him with contempt as a creature, taking advantage of the privileges of the House.
– Perhaps, he deserves some pity, seeing that he has to serve the objects of people like the right honorable member, whom I advise to leave me alone. The article continues -
Accordingly, he is moving heaven and earth to have the report returned to the Commissioners for review. He has left no stone unturned to effect his purpose.
That is another lie. Not a man in this House can say that I ever asked him for a vote in connexion with the proposed redistribution. I have many personal friends in the Senate, but I challenge any senator tosay that I approached him to ask him to vote against the Commissioners’ scheme.
– The honorable member sent circulars to them all.
– I have been reproached with sending circulars. I invited those to whom the circulars were sent to read them. The circulars merely stated the facts of the case. Surely it is permissible to approach one’s fellow-members in regard to a matter like this, on which they have no local knowledge. It is better to do that than to take them up backstairs, and give them a dinner. I do not dine and wine people in order to win them round ; I put the facts fairly before them, and if they think that I have made out a good case, I expect them to vote with me with a good conscience. I do not get my way by taking persons up back stairs, seating them behind screens, and giving them champagne.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member is speaking against some one ; I suppose he is referring to me. Is it in order to make statements of this kind, reflecting on the honour and good feeling of honorable members?
– The honorable member knows that the cap fits.
– It does not fit me, but I very much regret that so ungenerous a. statement should be made.
– I did not understand the honorable member to reflect on any honorable member. If I had thought he was doing so, I should have stopped him. Now that the honorable member for Swan has risen to a point of order, I must remind him that he must cease the continuous interjections that he makes across the chamber.
– There is an old saying that there is no necessity to put the cap on unless it fits you. I have nothing to withdraw regarding the right honorable member, and, as I said the other night, I hope we shall be as good friends as ever. I trust that his wonderful geniality will enable him to extend to me, if I have trespassed, his usual forgiveness. I rose today for the specific purpose of correcting the mendacious inventions of a newspaper correspondent whose effusions show that his partisanship and personal bias unfit him for his position. I did not intend to make any reflections upon the right honorable member, and he has really brought the matter on himself. There is a general implication throughout the whole article that the Labour party, in voting against these divisions, endeavoured to gain a party advantage. Although all the members of the Labour party, outside the members of the Government, with the exception of the Whip, voted against the scheme, I point to the remarkable fact that every member of the Opposition, to a man, was whipped up to vote for it. If there is any party movement on one side, there certainly is a party movement on the other. Another remarkable coincidence is that, for the first time this session, every Oppositionist in another place, with one exception, was to the fore the other night when the Western Australian divisions came up to be dealt with.
– The honorable member must not refer to that matter.
– I am merely using it incidentally to emphasize my argument that the Opposition made this a party matter. Then this gentleman - but it is an abuse of the English language to call him “ gentleman “ - says, towards the end of his article, that he is delighted at the fact that I am going to be saddled with my farmer friends at the next election. Well, I feel no apprehension about my “ farmer friends.” I hope I shall have as many farming friends as I have always had. I did not attempt to get rid of the farmers who had been placed in the new division.I merely more voters-
– Order ! The honorable member must not discuss that matter.
– I did not object to the farmers being included in the electorate, but what I did object to was the elimination from the electorate of mining districts which had always been in the old electorate of Coolgardie, and which had no community of interest with those with which they were now grouped.
– On behalf of the Postmaster-General, I undertake to make inquiries into the matters to which the honorable member has referred.
.- I wish to ask the Attorney-General when his Department will be in a position to announce the best way of giving effect to the policy of the Minister of Defence on the question of the fining of cadets for non-attendance at drill ? Injustice seems to have been meted out in a number of these cases in New South Wales. The lads are called up before stipendiary magistrates, and bundled through without any consideration being given to their cases. In Several instances it could have been shown, if the boys had been allowed to state their case, that it was impossible for them to attend the drills, but the magistrates, as I have often noticed in Police Courts, have the lads simply bundled up and charged, no statement of the case is allowed, the cases are run through as fast as possible, and a fine or imprisonment awarded. I understand that the Minister of Defence has decided to adopt a policy of fining the lads 2s. for each hour lost at drill, and compelling them to make up their lost time. He stated that the matter had been referred to the Attorney- General’s Department on 25th July, so that the necessary steps could be taken to enable the GovernorGeneral in Council to give effect to his ideas. I wish to impress on the AttorneyGeneral the urgency of inviting the officers of his Department to go into the matter immediately, so that the cases of injustice which are occurring under the law as it stands may be remedied.
Another matter to which I wish to direct the attention of the Attorney- General is the Bill that has been drafted by the Victorian Cabinet to provide for the voluntary surrender to the Commonwealth of various additional powers and functions, on the lines agreed upon at the State Pre
The control of labour and employment, so far as is necessary to enable the Federal Parliament to prevent and settle industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State, and to provide that any condition of employment determined by any award or order of any authority constituted under any law of the Commonwealth for the prevention or settlement of any such industrial dispute shall, if such authority so determine, be a common rule of the industry concerned in the case of any State or States where -
Provide that any condition of employment determined by any award or order or common rule of such authority shall be binding upon all persons subject to such award, or common rule, notwithstanding that such persons may be subject to the award or order of any State industrial authority ; and shall to the extent of any inconsistency prevail over such lastmentioned award or order.
That is so involved that I, as a layman, cannot understand what the proposed transfer of industrial powers amounts to. Will the Attorney- General arrange with the officers of his Department to draft a memorandum indicating to honorable members what it really means? There is another proposed transfer of power with regard to monopolies which is stated in this way -
On the question of monopolies, the Bill will provide for the surrender to the Commonwealth of authority over -
Combinations and monopolies in relation to the production, manufacture, or supply of goods or services so far as is necessary to enable the Parliament of the Commonwealth to control or to acquire on just terms the business or industry of any such combination or monopoly, when such business or industry extends beyond the limits of any one State, and when such combination or monopoly has been declared by the High Court to be in restraint of trade or commerce to the detriment of the public ; or to carry on the business or industry so extending by or under the control of the Parliament of the Commonwealth to the exclusion, if the Parliament of the Commonwealth so determines, of all other persons; or to acquire upon just terms any property used in connexion with such business or industry of any such combination or monopoly.
I am in the same position with regard to this proposal. This is a matter which concerns the Commonwealth Parliament as well as the State Parliament, and I think that honorable members might very well have the services of the Attorney-General’s
Department placed at their disposal in order that they may be informed as to the -extent of the proposed transfer of powers. The third proposed transfer of powers is stated in these words -
In order that the Commonwealth may have further power to deal with competition arising between the States, the measure will further declare that -
A State industrial tribunal shall have power to make complaint to a State Court that an industry is injured by unfair competition in -the same industry in another State.
A State Court shall be empowered to refer the complaint to the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, or to any authority constituted under any law of the Commonwealth for the prevention or settlement of any industrial dispute extending beyond the limits of any one State.
Such Commonwealth Court or authority shall have power to inquire into the complaint.
Such Commonwealth Court or authority on being satisfied that the injury is solely caused by the conditions of labour under which the employes in the competing industry work, may determine and adjust the matter complained of and prevent unfair competition.
– Is there a full stop there?
-Yes, there is a full stop there.
– Do not make it a semicolon.
– This explanation reminds me of a definition of monopoly which I saw in an American Act, and -which it took me a quarter of an hour to read. It seems to me that all that is necessary to complete this wonderful explanation of the third power proposed to be transferred is that there should be added to it the American definition of monopoly which I have mentioned.
– An American Judge decided that, that was “ bunkum.”
– The Legislature of the United States took practically a whole page of a Bill to define a monopoly, -and in an American case, the record of which I saw, the Judge decided that the combination concerned was not a monopoly. It is very desirable that we should have a memorandum prepared by the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, to supply us with precise information as to the extent of the proposed transfer of powers from- the -States to the Commonwealth.
There is another matter to which I refer, which concerns the Minister of the Department for External Affairs. As the honorable gentleman is not present at the moment, I hope that he will see the report of my remarks later on, and will make inquiry into the matter. In the Sydney Sun during last week, an article appeared from the pen of Harry S. Gullett, dated from London, 21st June, in regard to the immigration policy of the New South Wales Government. I quote the following paragraph from that article -
Tas Family Scandal.
Another point about which the emigration agents are concerned is the almost absolute refusal of New South Wales to accept working men with families. Lately I have heard of .a number of cases of farm labourers of the best kind, and also of small farmers possessed of a little capital, who have been refused assistance to New South Wales. They are told that they cannot be accepted because of their children. One recognises the difficulty of placing such mcn in country employment. Obviously the farmer who wants a labourer fails to sec why he should be obliged to support the labourer’s wife and half-a-dozen youngsters too young to be of any assistance. But, while admitting this, it is most unfortunate that the immigration movement should find it impossible to include the very best material that is on offer.
The proportion of ultimate failures among child emigrants would certainly be much lower than that among adults. It is extremely difficult to explain to the British people that an immigration scheme which is really sincere can find no room for the healthy growing child. New South Wales has been especially hostile to children ; Queensland has been far more sympathetic, and so has Victoria; while Canada has also had an open door for them. They are carried cheaply by the shipping companies, and it is a great pity that the State Government cannot devise some means to receive all that are on offer.
I do not know whether that statement is correct, and I should be very sorry to think that it is. I refer, to the matter because this Parliament cannot altogether escape responsibility in connexion with the question of immigration. It is one of the matters over which we have authority under the Constitution. If we find that the State Governments are carrying out an unsatisfactory immigration policy, if is, in my opinion, our duty to exercise our authority. I suggest that the- Minister of External Affairs should make inquiries from the New South Wales Government with respect to the matter to which I have directed attention.
.- I rise to correct the honorable member for Coolgardie. He stated that at Ashburton there were sixty-four votes. That is not accurate, because, as a matter of fact, there were only fifty-four electors enrolled there. Later on he made a slight error with respect to Grey. The total number of electors enrolled there is sixty-six. Strange to say that at Irwin there are only ninety.
I quote from the Statistical Register of Western Australia. I think it isnecessary that these corrections should be made. I have received a letter from Dandenong, stating that a Mrs. Morton, on behalfof the Australian Women’s National League, amongst other astounding statements, said it was a fact that ‘ ‘ Mr. Tudor has a courier and a messenger.”
– It happens to be incorrect.
-I take it that, in common with other members of the Government, the Minister of Trade and Customs has a messenger to attend to his Department, but he has no courier. I do not think that any member of a Commonwealth Government has so far been so ridiculous as to employ a courier. Such a statement as I have referred to should be corrected at the earliest possible moment. Another statement which could only emanate from a lady of not very high intelligence, but vast imagination, was that we shall have to spend £50,000,000 in the next two years because the Labour party occupy the Treasury benches. The publication of such ridiculous statements throughout the country can only bring contempt upon the people responsible for them as soon as they are disproved.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 August 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1912/19120802_reps_4_65/>.