4th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Has any arrangement been entered into between the Government and the Government of New South Wales for the taking over of the Fitzroy Dock, and, if so, has provision been made for preserving the status of the superintendent of the dock and his associated officers?
– No arrangement has been made for the taking over of the dock. Certain communications, verbal and other, have passed; that is the whole length to which the matter has gone.
– Inasmuch as the session is coming to a close, will the Prime Minister see that no steps are taken during the. recess which will in any way tell against the interests of the officers of the Fitzroy Dock?
– If the Fitzroy Dock were sold to the Commonwealth, I have no doubt that the vendors would look after the interests of those who are their servants at present.
– Does the Government contemplate taking over the dock?
– I do not know. We might take over a State if it were desirous of being taken over. A dock would be a useful thing for the Commonwealth, from a naval point of view, and also from other points of view. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the Commonwealth may at some time take over this establishment.
– In view of the statement just made by the Prime Minister I ask him whether before completing arrangements for the taking over of the Fitzroy or any other dock, he will allow the House to express an opinion on the project ?
– I have no doubt at all that the Parliament of the Commonwealth will have to determine a matter of this importance.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister whether he has made any arrangement, or can make any arrangement, with the Opposition as to the close of the session? Has he in his mind any particular date for the prorogation, and has he considered the possibility of giving private members an opportunity to discuss their business ?
– We have not been able to come to an arrangement for the allotment of time, nor have we determined the date of the closing of the session, butI hope that it will come soon. I am always available, and the Leader of the Opposition hasbeen very good in trying to arrange matters. As soon as we have been able to come to an understanding, we shall take members fully into our confidence.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been called to the statement in this morning’s Argus that spirit suitable for use in motors and engines is being made in England and in Germany as a by-product of coal-dust, and will he consider the advisability of giving a bounty on its production here?
– The question should be addressed to the Minister of Trade and Customs,who, no doubt, will beready to assist any invention of a utilitarian nature, so long as it will not lead to the imbibing of alcohol.
– I direct my question to the Minister of Trade and Customs. The report says that the benzol, the spirit in question, is a perfect success, and that its discovery is a very important thing for Eng. land. No doubt, its manufacture here would be an important thing for this country.
– I shall be pleased to look into this matter.
– I ask pardon of the Minister of Home Affairs for addressing my question to the Prime Minister instead of to him, but I address it to his leader because it concerns the business of the House. In view of the rejection of the second distribution of New South Wales electoral divisions, what steps is it proposed to take to remove the electoral inequalities of that State before the next election? Will the Government undertake to make every effort to put another distribution before Parliament before the recess ?
– The question should have been addressed to the Minister of
Home Affairs, who is charged with the administration of the electoral law, this not being a political matter at all. I have no doubt that, if the session be prolonged, there will be another distribution. ‘ The Minister will, according to law, refer back the report to the Commissioners, and I shall welcome another scheme, if it can be submitted. There is no possibility of amending the electoral law this session. That is known to every honorable member.
– The report must be referred back to the Commissioners at once, if anything further is to be done this session.
– Yes; but there is no possibility of amending the electoral law, unless we have a special session for the purpose. If I am any judge of human nature, there are honorable members on both sides who are not sorry that the scheme was rejected.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs what there is in the existing legislation which will prevent this Parliament from receiving from the Commissioners, and dealing with, a further scheme for the re-distribution of New South Wales during this session?
– I do not know of anything in the Constitution, or the laws, or the conditions, that will prevent that from being done, except that they may not have time. The scheme will go back to the Commissioners to-day.
– The scheme is going back to-day?
– Certainly. The Commissioners must have an opportunity to get their programme ready in time to be returned here for us to deal with; that is all.
– Will the Minister impress upon the Commissioners the absolute need for using the greatest possible expedition?
– I had the Chief Electoral Officer up this morning. We had a fair war-dance over matters, and these are now in his hands.
– Following upon the Minister’s reply, I wish to ask him whether the Commissioners are now collected in Sydney or scattered about the State ? Seeing that if they are scattered about the State it will be impossible to get a further recommendation before Christmas, will he submit to the Cabinet the desirability, in the interests of a decent electioneering-
– Order ! The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw the words “ decent electioneering,” and will say “ a decent distribution of the electorates “ - will the Minister suggest to the Cabinet that Parliament should be called together after Christmas, in order that the principle of equality of representation in New South Wales may be indorsed?
– Order ! The honorable member is now going beyond the scope of a question.
– In viewof the fact that we are to celebrate the opening of the railway to Western Australia in January and the commencement of the Federal Capital in March, that the elections will take place later, and that my honorable friend will want to do a big campaign this time, I do not see how we can do all that he expects. We have not a good system of bi-planes yet to bring these men together, but I shall do all that is possible to meet the request.
– It looks to me as if the gerrymandering is complete.
– I regret very much to have to interfere with any honorable member, but the occurrence is becoming so frequent that I must request the honorable member for Wentworth to cease these continuous disrespectful remarks to the House. If he persists in this course, I shall have to take action ; the next time he does this thing I shall give him no warning, but name him to the House. I think it is about time that remarks of this sort were stopped. I call upon the honorable member to withdraw the remark which he has just made, and to make an ample apology to the House for having used it.
– What is the matter, sir?
– He said that it was a gerrymandering scheme.
– I do not see anything disrespectful in that remark, used in a political sense.
– It is a matter of no moment in what sense the remark was used. Only one inference can be drawn from the remark, and that is that this House, not a particular party, has done something dishonorable. The honorable member for Wentworth, as a parliamentarian of some years’ standing, must know that no honorable member has the right to make such an imputation.
– Nobody else could put that interpretation upon anything he said.
– I used the term “ the gerrymandering is complete.” I did not wish to impute personal dishonesty to any member of the House, sir; but I did wish to suggest that a most deplorable state of affairs will arise if-
– Order ! Will the honorable member resume his seat?
– I asked the honorable member to withdraw the remark and make an ample apology, and he must do it at once.
– Under your direction, sir, I will withdraw the phrase, and under your direction I will apologize.
– Order ! The honorable member must do it unconditionally - not under my direction, but in the interests of the House.
– It is under your direction.
– The honorable member must withdraw the remark and apologize to the House for having made it.
– This seems to me to be rubbing it in.
– Do I understand that the honorable member refuses to take that course ?
-I have withdrawn the remark as you, sir, asked me to do, and I have expressed my regret, as you asked me to do. I feel that it is a matter of enormous importance. I do not know what else I can do.
– The honorable member put in certain qualifications, which he had no right to do.
– Well, I will take out the qualifications, if any. I do not want to make any bother.
– The honorable member must either do it or refuse to do it.
– I have done it, sir - I have done it twice.
– The honorable member put in certain qualifications. If he will withdraw the qualifications and state that he is prepared to withdraw the remark and apologize to the House, I shall accept his assurance.
– I have already stated that I have withdrawn the qualifications. I do not know what more I can do.
– On a point of order, sir, may I ask you to require the Prime Minister to withdraw an expression which he made use of, and which was of exactly the same import as the statement which, was made by the honorable member for Wentworth, and to which you take great exception ?
– Order ! The honorable member must not discuss my action.
– I hope that you, sir, will let us speak. Upon my word, either we are getting very much worse, or you are getting very much more strict. I want to call your attention to a remark which was made by the Prime Minister just now. He said that we over here seem quite as pleased as anybody else with the result of the vote last night on the redistribution scheme, thereby imputing insincerity on our part.
– Order ! There is no motion before the House. The honorable member cannot make a speech unless there is something definite before the Chair.
– I rose to a point of order, sir, and asked you to require the Prime Minister to withdraw that imputation.
– May I be permitted to make a personal explanation, sir?
– Will . the honorable member resume his seat?
– No exception was made to the remark of the Prime Minister when it was used. I did not place upon it the interpretation which the honorable member for Parramatta does. I do not think that that interpretation can be placed upon the words which were used.
– It is the only one which can be placed upon the remark.
– If that meaning could have been placed upon the remark of the Prime Minister, I should have called upon him at once to withdraw it. In any case action should have been taken at the time.
– We take the remark as a reflection upon our sincerity.
– Order ! Will the honorable member resume his seat?
– On a point of order, sir, I asked you to require the Prime Minister to withdraw the remark.
– Order ! Will the honorable member resume his seat?
– The honorable member should have taken notice of the remark at the time it was made.
– He could not do that, because you rose to your feet to call upon< the honorable member for Wentworth to apologize.
– You will not let me make an explanation.
– If the honorable member continues to interject when T am on my feet I shall have to take a course which, perhaps, honorable members will be sorry that I have had to take.
– I shall not be sorry.
– All right.. If the honorable member is looking for it, he will get it.
– I am not looking for it. The only conclusion I can come to is that you will not allow us to speak.
– The honorable member for Lang said just now that I immediately got on my feet after the Prime Minister used the remark, but I have to remind the honorable member that some considerable time elapsed before I rose. I resent very much remarks concerning my action being exchanged across the chamber at any time. . I have not the slightest doubt that if the honorable member for Parramatta does feel that the remark of the Prime Minister reflected in any way upon him or other members, the latter will take the first opportunity of withdrawing it.
– I had no intention of reflecting upon either the House or any honorable member. The honorable member for Parramatta will excuse me for saying that he did not quote the words that I used. I thought that I was in rather a humorous mood at this period of the session. I said that if I was any judge of human nature there were honorable members on both sides who were not at all downhearted at what had taken place.
– The explanation is quite complete.
– I had no intention of casting any reflection. I myself was in doubt, and I think that other honorable members, in voting on the motion, were wondering, what was the right thing to do. There was room for grave doubt as the matter stood, and every honorable member knows that.
– I now wish to ask the Prime Minister if he will see, before this Parliament closes, that New South Wales receives the same treatment as has been meted out to other States, namely, the redress of its electoral inequalities?
– I shall invite my honorable colleague to return the scheme with the greatest expedition to the Commissioners who are charged with the duty of redistributing the electorates of New South Wales. If they can submit a new scheme before Parliament is prorogued, well and good ; but the honorable member does not ask, and does not intend, I take it, that there should be a special session of Parliament for the purpose of dealing with the matter ?
– We intend that Parliament shall not close before the scheme is submitted to us.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he will take steps to ascertain the opinion of honorable members as to whether there should not be another session after Christmas, and make known the result of his inquiries, so that we shall see whether honorable members opposite are really in earnest in wanting to come back-
– Order !
– I rise to a point of order. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to compel the honorable member for Cook to withdraw that observation and apologize?
– I did not hear the honorable member’s question.
– The honorable member said that he wished to test the sincerity of honorable members opposite as to what was taking place - a most insulting observation.
– I ask the honorable member for Cook to withdraw the observation, and not to put such questions. I also ask the honorable member for Parramatta, after that has been done, to withdraw the observation he has just made.
– I withdraw; but I wish to say-
– Order ! Will the honorable member resume his seat? I now ask the honorable member for Parramatta to withdraw the remark made by him which conveyed an insulting imputation on the Chair ?
– I said that I regarded the remark made by the honorable member for Cook as an insulting one.
– The honorable member must withdraw the remark.
– I withdraw it ; but, upon my word, it is ridiculous.
– I wish to raise a question of privilege.
– A point of order ?
– Yes, sir. A few moments ago, I asked a question which you, Mr. Speaker, said you did not hear. The honorable member for Parramatta then put a twist on my remarks-
– Order !
– I was called upon by you, Mr. Speaker, to withdraw something which the honorable member indicated I had said, although I did not make the statement in the way attributed to me, and I was not permitted, in making the withdrawal, to correct the statement made by the honorable member for Parramatta.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs question No. 1 standing in my name?
– The plain English of it-
– Order ! Will the honorable member for Parramatta, who is leaving the Chamber, remain? The honorable member for Parramatta has now directed to the Chair a very insulting observation. It is time that a stop was put to this sort of thing, and I name the honorable member.
– The Speaker has been after it all the morning. I can see that.
– I understand, sir, that you have named the honorable member for Parramatta-
– What for?
– It is my duty, as the Leader of the House, to follow up your action, Mr. Speaker, by submitting a motion. I am loth to do so, and I hope that the honorable member for Parramatta will withdraw the remark. But I am entirely in your hands.
– Why has the honorable member been named ? What did he say ?
– The honorable member for Parramatta made a remark referring to myself, to the effect that the House was being muzzled. I desire to state distinctly that ever since I have occupied the Chair it has been my endeavour to treat each side of the House fairly. I refuse to allow any honorable member to enjoy an advantage over another, and if an honorable member thinks that he can, he makes a great mistake, so far as I personally am concerned. It is with regret that I have to take this course; but the honorable member for Parramatta makes remarks such as that of which I complain without, apparently, regarding than as offensive, As a matter of fact, they are very offensive to me. and, in many cases, he has made statements which are offensive to the House. I repeatedly asked the honorable member not to make such statements, but after I had sat down he made the remark for which I have named him. The Chair must take action to protect itself.
– I respectfully submit, Mr. Speaker, that you had ito right whatever to hear the remark in question. It was not intended for your ears. If Mr. Speaker is going to take account of all the private conversations that are going on, I should like to know how we stand ? The remark was addressed to the honorable member for Wentworth.
– Order ! The honorable member-
– I hope that I may explain.
– The honorable member is now going beyond an explanation.
– Since you, sir, have taken offence at a remark made by me, although I do not quite know what it was, I withdraw it unreservedly.
– I accept the honorable member’s expression of regret, and desire to assure him, and the House generally, that I do not wish in any way to interfere with the strict discharge of his parliamentary duties. In the discharge of those duties, he will receive from me every assistance of which the Standing Orders permit, just as every other honorable member will. I sincerely hope that the honorable member will realize that fact..
Referenda : Additional Remuneration for Electoral Officers. - High Commissioner’s Report : Building of Federal Capital
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the large amount of additional work at the forthcoming election in con.nexion with the taking of the referenda, he will make provision for some additional remuneration being paid to the returning officers, assistant returning officers, and presiding officers?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is -
If, as a result of the Referenda, assistant returning officers or presiding officers are necessarily required to give additional time to their duties, they will be remunerated for such additional services as may be authorized. The Divisional Returning Officers receive a fixed amount for their services.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Has he read the report of the High Commissioner’s visit to Canada and the United States of America; and, if so, do the following pal a.graphs in any way accord with the Minister’s view : - “Washington is free from buildings of immense height, and seems to discourage any industrial developments that would interfere with the general aim to make it the most beautiful capital in the world. The public buildings are beautiful, yet simple, and grand. The Congressional Library, which I visited, is probably one of the best in the world, especially so far as internal arrangements are concerned. “I trust that some competent person will be sent to Washington in the interest of the future Australian capital. Even in matters of general design a new city has so much to learn from the experience of other cities. Our capital, being the last of all, will have the best chances of all in this respect?”
– Arrangements are in progress for an officer of the Department of Home Affairs to visit Washington at an early date. I am of opinion that it will be a decided advantage for officers who are likely to be intimately associated with the building of the Federal ‘Capital to visit Washington, and other cities of the world, where valuable suggestions may be obtained likely to be of service to the Commonwealth. I am strongly in favour of senior officers, intrusted with the administration of great projects, being given opportunities to bring themselves up to date by personal observation of what is being done in the great centres of the world. Indeed, I think,. Ministers and members of Parliament are, to some extent, working in the dark, unless they have travelled, and seen what the brains of others have evolved elsewhere.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
In view of the high cost per dose of Salvarmn . and Neo-Salvarsan, which are credited with being the latest approved treatment for the Red Plague - will the Government remit the duties on all approved drugs, &c, not manufactured in Australia for the treatment of certain specific diseases - consumption, &c. - when imported by the Australian States Governments, on such Go- vernment undertaking to distribute such drugs, treatments, &c, at cost price to the various hospitals and to medical men?
– If application is made by the State Governments in the direction indicated it will receive serious and sympathetic consideration. There is no power to remit duties legally leviable, and an amendment of the Tariff would be necessary to meet what is desired. I may add that Salvarsan and Neo-Salvarsan are exempt from duty.
Manufacture of Mail Bags
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The Deputy PostmasterGeneral, Melbourne, has furnished the following information -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Is he aware that the residents of Lord Howe Island have no communication with the outside world, except when steamers occasionally call at the island. Will the Minister take the necessary steps to provide wireless communication between the Commonwealth and this island?
– I am aware of the present position of Lord Howe Island in respect of communication with the outside world, and will give consideration to the question of establishing a wireless telegraph station on that island.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
– I move -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend sections 4, 16, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 40 and 49 of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act 1908-9, and to amend that Act in relation to blind persons and the punishment of offences.
This Bill covers every point that has been raised in this House in discussions on the Invalid and Old-Age Pensions Act. It includes the point raised regarding naturalization, provides authority for the Treasurer to pay blind persons invalid pensions, makes some relaxation regarding contributions made by relatives to pensioners, exempts gifts from the deductions that may be made, and grants a somewhat wider authority to the Commissioner. The Bill really embodies the departmental view concerning several little defects that have revealed themselves in the working of the Act. It is very well drawn. It is not proposed to have a general discussion on the whole question at the present time.
– Does the Bill touch the question of the homes of pensioners?
– The home of a pensioner, if used as a home, will be absolutely excluded from the amount that may affect the pension; and that will be done irrespective of the value of the property. Any house which is used as the home of an old-age pensioner will not be affected. The extra expense involved is not very large. Probably about £150,000 will cover the whole cost. Persons are often very much attached to their homes. To take some people away from their homes would practically amount to putting them in prison.
– Is there to be no limit of the value of the home?
– No limit is proposed. If, however, the home of a pensioner brings in an income, that will be taken into account. But if no income is derived from the property, no deduction will be made on account of it. The principle underlying the proposal may be summed up thus : One home does not compete with another. The idea of civilization is that every family should have a home. Inasmuch as one home does not compete with another, I do not see how any harm can arise from this little relaxation of the law. The extra expense is hardly worth all the trouble of making deductions on account of small homes. That has” arisen under the law as at present existing.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee: (Consideration of Go vernor-General’s message).
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to amend the Judiciary Act 1903-1910.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That the resolution be adopted.
– It is time that the Attorney- General told us what is implied by the resolution which has just been reported from the Committee. This isthe time for an explanation. We should like to know what the amount involved is, and what alterations it is proposed to make in the Judiciary Act. We have agreed to the resolution with alacrity, and without question; but I think we should know what it means.
– The resolution that has been reported covers an appropriation with reference to a Bill to amend the Judiciary Act in certain directions. It is proposed to do two things. First, to amend the Act to provide for a majority decision of the Judges of the High Court in all matters affecting the interpretation of the Constitution.
– Is that what the money is for?
– Oh, no. The other important point is that it is proposed to amend section 4 of the Judiciary Act by providing for the appointment of six puisne Judges instead of four. The Bill does not deal with any other matter. It is true that a suggestion was made that another matter might be dealt with, but I have not included provision for it in this Bill. The fact is that under the Victorian law, I think, and certainly under the New South Wales law, there is what is called a 10-years’ rule, under which clerks who have been employed in solicitors’ offices for that period are permitted to present themselves for examination under certain conditions other than those which relate to candidates generally. It has been pointed out that the law as it stands does not permit persons who are employed in the Crown Solicitor’s office of the Commonwealth to take advantage of this rule. Inasmuch” as it is not usual for the Crown Solicitor to article clerks, it is felt that an injustice may be done to them. It has been suggested that provision should be made for them in this Bill, but I have not done so, because it is relatively an unimportant matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution adopted. .
That Mr. Hughes and Mr. Fisher do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
In Committee : (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message).
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act relating to the Inter-State Commission.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Mr. Hughes and’ Mr. Fisher do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented, and (on motion by Mr. Hughes) read a first time.
Debate resumed from 21st November (vide page 5843), on motion by Mr. Tudor)-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– The spirit moveth me this morning to make my remarks as brief as possible. I understand that this is a Bill which will affect no particular interest except the revenue of the Department. I believe that the Minister of Trade and Customs intends to get more revenue without hurting anybody, and without any complaint from anybody. As the Bill provides for such a novel proceeding in connexion with the raising of revenue, I cannot find it in my heart to oppose it.
– I want to say a word or two on the industrial aspect of this Bill. I have no complaints to make about the increased revenue which the Minister of Trade and Customs desires to obtain. But I do not think that under this measure he will collect as much revenue as he might. For example, he proposes to charge Excise upon only 52 gallons in a 54-gallon hogshead, upon 34 gallons in a 36-gallon barrel, and upon 26 gallons, instead of 27 gallons, in a halfhogshead. I hold in my hand a communication from the Secretary of the Victorian Branch of the Federated Coopers’ Association, whose members’ are interested in the manufacture of the casks which will contain this beer. The communication reads -
Regarding the Beer Excise Act, I wish to give you a few facts by which you will see that both our trade and the Commonwealth revenue suffer through the full standard measurements not being insisted on. . The measures scale show the capacities of the following vessels to be : - Hogsheads 54 gallons, barrels 36 gallons, halfhogsheads 27 gallons, and kilderkins 18 gallons. That is standard measurement, and the sizes which our tradesmen have to make the casks. As a matter of fact, every new cask has to be madeto hold about a gallon over to allow for future shrinkage in fair wear and tear. Now it is obvious that a vast amount of Excise duty has been lost to the Commonwealth when they charge excise on only 50 gallons for a hogshead (old Act),and will still lose a vast amount by making 52 gallons dutiable only under the amended proposal when you consider that nine out of ten hogsheads hold the full 54 gallons.
I bring that matter under the notice of the Minister of Trade and Customs. I hope that nothing will be done under this Bill, which will be likely to prejudicially affect the coopering industry.
– The Bill is rather in the direction suggested by the honorable member’s correspondent.
-I am aware of that; but, according to my information, it does not go far enough in that direction. We are dealing with hogsheads, and, to use a common expression, the Minister should go the whole hog in this matter. Am I to understand that the coopers will not be injuriously affected by this Bill ?
– I am sure that they will be advantaged by it.
– They seem to be under some apprehension as to its effect, and perhaps the Minister will give some explanation of the matter when we get into Committee.
.- I desire to say a few words on behalf of a long-suffering and much-maligned people, who, apparently, have very few friends in this Chamber. I am speaking on behalf of the beer drinkers. The honorable member for Parramatta, and the honorable member for Maribyrnong, appear to rejoice at the prospect of an increase in the Excise duty under this Bill. But who is going to pay that revenue? The man who takes his “ long sleever” along with his counterlunch occasionally ? Some consideration should be shown for this gentleman who is representative of a very large proportion of the constituents of the Minister of Trade and Customs. There are a few, also, to be found in the electorates represented by the honorable members for Maribyrnong and Parramatta. We already derive a very large revenue from this commodity.
– I am informed, upon good authority, that what is termed in the vernacular a “ long sleever,” costs to produce about one-sixteenth of a penny, and yet a man cannot get one for cash for less than 3d., and Without cash he cannot get one at all. The Customs Department, I am informed., benefits by the greater proportion of the difference.
– No; we only get 3d. per gallon.
– I voice a protest against thismeasure on behalf of the men who are contributing so largely to the revenue of the Commonwealth. A reduction in the size of the hogshead means an increase in the revenue derived from this commodity. I know, from personal experience, that the consumer of this article has suffered greatly in the past; but, apparently, a further burden is, under this Bill, to be imposed upon him.
– I moved the second reading of this Bill rather hurriedly about a fortnight ago, and honorable members may have forgotten what I said on that occasion. The object of the Bill is to reduce the margin of allowance upon the contents of hogsheads, half-hogsheads; and kilderkins, at present provided for. The late Right Honorable C. C. Kingston, in submitting the original measure, made provision that hogsheads should contain not less than 50 gallons, nor more than 54 gallons. At that time, there was in operation in the States legislation providing for a similar allowance. Since then, the methods of brewing have been improved, and it is no longer necessary to make such an allowance. Very little dregs are now left in the casks, and we propose to charge duty upon the contents which it will be possible to utilize from each hogshead.
– It is said that there are about 56 gallons in some hogsheads.
– I am not aware of that, but I shall have the statement inquired into. If it is correct, it is a somewhat serious reflection upon our Excise officers.
– I do not wish to reflect upon them.
– I quite understand that that is not the honorable member’s desire, but, if the statement be correct, it is evident that in some cases they have not done their duty, and have permitted barrels to leave the breweries which contain more than they should contain. If a vessel contains more than 54 gallons, it should not be allowed to go into use as a hogshead. I can assure honorable members that the officers of the Department are very particular in seeing that the vessels used in the trade are of the stipulated sizes.
– They are too particular.
– I do not agree with the honorable member. I do not think that the operation of the Bill will have any effect upon the price of beer. The increase will amount to no more than 6d. on 54 gallons, or about one-ninth of a penny per gallon.
– What is the size of a hogshead?
– A hogshead contains from 50 to 54 gallons.
– It may contain 56 gallons.
– The Act does not say so. If there are many hogsheads in use which contain over 54 gallons, I can assure the honorable member for Maribyrnong that there will be plenty of work for the coopers, because vessels of that size will not be permitted to leave the breweries.
I do not wish honorable members to think that the officers of the Department do not, at present, make strict inquiries into these matters, because I am aware that they do, and that, in a distant State, hogsheads containing half a gallon, or a little more than the reputed contents, were prevented from going into use.
– What is the reason for the allowance now proposed?
– Hitherto, an allowance of 4 gallons in each hogshead has been provided for. The brewers have said that they are unable to get more than 52 gallons out of a hogshead, but the reports of the officers of the Department show that they will be able to get more; and it is the object of this Bill to charge Excise upon the quantity of beer which it will be possible to get out of the casks. It has, therefore, been considered advisable to reduce the allowance which has been conceded since 1901.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
Section 5 of the Beer Excise Act 1901 is amended ….
– I move -
That after the word “amended” the following words be inserted : - “ (a) by omitting the definition of quarts and Dints, and inserting in its stead the following definition : - “Quarts, pints, or half pints” means quart, pint, or half pint bottles, and includes bottles reputed to contain quarts, pints, or half pints, and
Since the Bill was introduced the local producers have requested to have precisely the same advantage as that enjoyed by those who import beer, and to send out half -pints ; and it is on this ground that the amendment is proposed.
Amendment agreed to
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 3 -
The dutiable contents of the following vessels shall be taken to be as follows : -
Kilderkins - Eighteen gallons.
– I move -
That the word “ eighteen “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ seventeen.”
It has been pointed out that if the quantity remain at 18 gallons it will cause difficulty to country brewers by imposing on them a heavier charge than is imposed on the town brewers. I understandthat, proportionately, there is more waste in the case of the smaller vessels ; and, therefore, it is desired to allow the kilderkins to remain at 17 gallons.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Tudor) agreed to -
That the following new clause be inserted : -
Section 44 of the Beer Excise Act1901 is amended by omitting the words “ quarts or pints,” and inserting in their stead the words “quarts, pints, or half pints.”
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report, by leave, adopted.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee : (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message).
– I move -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to amend the Bounties Act 1907.
It will be remembered that, in 1907, the honorable member for Darling Downs, as a member of the then Government, introduced a general Bounties Bill, covering a number of subjects, including flax and hemp, jute, linseed, rice uncleaned, fish and dried fruits, the bounties in regard to all of which expired on the 30th June this year. Endeavours have been made to produce some of these commodities, and, in moving the second reading of the Bill, I shall show what has been done in this direction. A further appropriation is necessary, not for the purposes of any of the items I have mentioned, because for these there are sufficient funds available, but for the bounty on combed wool or tops. It is found that there is not sufficient funds to pay this bounty for the period over which it is proposed to extend it. Had it not been for the fact that it is desired to extend this bounty for another two years, under slightly different conditions, there would be no need to ask for this appropriation. However, those engaged in the industry - both employers and employés - have seen me on the subject, and made certain representations; and I have also received a deputation representative of people who desired that this bounty should be abolished. I informed the latter deputation that I would be no party to any proposal of the kind. At that time
I was under the impression that, as the bounty does not expire until nearly the end of 1913, there was no necessity for any extension during this Parliament, but those engaged in the industry have informed me that they have to enter into contracts for the selling of their tops for at least a year ahead. I submitted the matter to the Cabinet, and, in the circumstances, it was agreed to recommend an extension of the bounty on wool tops for another two years.
.- The Minister tells us that a further appropriation is necessary in order to provide for the payment of thebounty on wooltops. The establishment of works at Botany for the manufacture of wool tops has been the subject of considerable discussion in the press, and two deputations have been received by the Minister. Considerable dissatisfaction exists in connexion with the payment of bounties to those engaged in the wool top industry. It is true that a large establishment has been carried on at Botany apparently with great success. In fact, statements are made that those engaged in the industry are making large fortunes by reason of the bounty, and that they are able to place their competitors at the sheep sales at a very great disadvantage. Themanager of the large meat works near Parramatta has written to me, and to several other honorable members, representing that the present position is most unsatisfactory, especially to those engaged in the butchering trade. On 8th October last, I asked a series of questions in this connexion. I asked the Minister if it was a fact that the bonus of£10,000 paid by the Commonwealth in respect to wool tops represented double the amount of wages paid annually in the industry. It must be perfectly clear to any one who visits the Botany establishment, as I did, that by far the largest amount of wages is paid for the class of work that is carried on in ordinary fellmongering establishments. Certain work ofa different character is carried out by girls, but the main part of the labour employed is similar to that to be found in the industry mentioned. I want to know whether the suggestion conveyed in my question, is correct? I asked, further -
Is it a fact that the effect so far of the bonus on wooltops, amounting to over£30,000 of public money, has been threefold, viz. : -
Dividends at 10 per cent. and 6 per cent. to combing mills and meat company shareholders?
Girl labour with odd overseers in one or two combing mills?
Is it a fact that one top-making company during the twelve months ended 30th June last received something like£10,000 or£11,000 of this bonus, and at the same time guaranteed to buy a subsidiary company’s (the Colonial Meat Export Company) sheepskins at such a price as would pay a dividend to the meat company of 10 per cent. per annum?
Is it a fact that a portion of the£10,000 or £11,000 bonus by the Federal Government has been applied indirectly to pay the dividend in the Colonial Meat Export Company?
This appears to be getting quite away from the object for which the bonus was provided. Practically, it is being devoted to guaranteeing dividends to another company, and enabling them to go into the stock market and buy to the distinct disadvantage of smaller operators. I asked, further -
If so, is the effect of this to place the guaranteed meat company in a position to crushingly compete against any (and, in fact, all) small buyers of sheep at Flemington, Sydney, New South Wales?
Will he, before continuing the bounty, have a searching inquiry made into the whole industry, and report the result of such inquiry to this House ?
In reply to my questions, the Minister said that information as to the details referred to would, as far as practicable, be obtained and furnished as soon as possible. I now wish to know whether the Minister has made any inquiry, and whether he has any information to give to the House? I have as keen an interest in the establishment of Australian industries as has any honorable member, but, at the same time, I realize that it is necessary to assure ourselves that any bonuses granted by us will not he applied to purposes other than those for which they are intended. Has the Minister made the inquiry that his answer suggests?
– Yes, I have.
– Then, I hope that he will give honorable members the benefit of the information he has acquired before the Bill comes on for discussion.
– It is usual to afford such information at the second-reading stage.
– I am merely reminding the Minister that we shall require the fullest information when we are called upon to debate the Bill on the second reading. The Minister has received deputations from the persons engaged in the wool top industry, and also from those who represent the other side of the case. But I wish to know whether independent inquiries have been made by the officers of the Department? If such an inquiry has been made, I hope the Minister will give us the results as soon as possible.
.- I regard the bounty on wool tops as operating to the distinct prejudice of a very large section of our primary producers, namely, the wool-growers. The bounty acts detrimentally to their interests, inasmuch as it enables one large company to compete in an unfair manner with those engaged in kindred industries, and, not only that, but to cut the prices of tops in the world’s markets. That is a very serious matter to the wool-growers. The effect of enabling F. W, Hughes Ltd. to cut the price of tops is that they can make the trade for themselves, and the result of that is quite patent to any one who has any knowledge of the wool markets of the world. Immediately the price of wool-tops is cut in the market, that is known to the whole of the wool-buying world. The buyers have received advice from their firms that wool-tops are at suchandsuch a price, and are instructed to make their prices for wool accord with that. I fail to see why this bounty should be given for a monopoly in wool-tops. If a bonus were given for the manufacture of tweed from Australian-grown wool, I should say that there was something in it.
– The honorable member will see that the protective duty operates there.
– I do not know on what ground the Minister can favour this bounty for wool-tops, unless it is for the purpose of giving employment to a certain number of hands in the industry.
– It is for the purpose of sending our raw material out in a more finished state than it was previously.
– The wool-buyers do not want tops ; they want our raw wool ; and the only ostensible reason for giving this bounty for the export of tops is to employ labour here in combing out wool into tops. At this factory at Botany, every appliance is used for the purpose of saving labour, and that practically wipes out the necessity for continuing this bounty with the object of employing labour. I understand that a very large machine is worked by one boy, and a great deal of the labour is girl labour, so that I do not think the object aimed at in granting this bounty has been achieved.
– It was one of the honorable member’s party that introduced this bounty originally. We are extending it.
– I understand that it was Watson and Co. who pressed this matter on.
– I grant that if it had not been for Mr. Watson, there would probably not have been a bounty on wool-tops. To him, the credit is due.
– The Minister’s party are practically responsible for this bounty. If it can be shown that the bounty has not achieved the object aimed at the Minister would do well not to extend it. He told us some time ago that it was his intention to extend the bounty for a further period. When it is pointed out to him that the whole of the£10,000, with the exception of £1,300, which is paid to another firm, goes to F. W. Hughes Ltd. I think he would do well not to proceed with this proposal. This company, I understand, was floated at a nominal capital of £250,000 on the strength of this bounty being given. I understand, further, that Mr. Hughes and his wife hold £90,000 worth of shares in the company, and that Mr. Hughes is getting £2,500 a year for managing it. Another objection to the bounty is that it enables this company to compete unfairly with small woolscouring and fellmongery firms, as well as those engaged in the butchering trade, because it is ridiculous to suppose that the bounty is devoted solely to the business of manufacturing tops. It simply goes into the general fund of the company, and is used in connexion with the several businesses which the company carries on. If the Minister persists in extending this bounty for a further term of years he will be doing something which is inimical to the interests of a large number of men who are engaged in primary production, and to many others engaged in the business of wool-scouring, fellmongering, and butchering.
– I want to reply to one or two misstatements that have been made. The honorable member for Illawarra has said that the £10,000 which this company receives is more than double the wages which it pays.
– I said I asked the Minister that question, and he did not replyto it.
– The honorable member apparently drew that inference. I have here a return which shows that last year the company paid £57,000 in wages, and that at the end of this year the amount paid in wages will be £62,000. The company cannot receive any more than £10,000 a year if they draw the whole of the bounty, but now it is in competition with another company, so that the whole of the £10,000 will not be available for this company.
– What is the amount of wages paid to those engaged in combing wool tops?
– It is all one industry.
– Tell that to the marines.
– My honorable friends do not like these figures. I can quite understand the attitude of the honorable members for North Sydney and Illawarra, who are ardent Free Traders. They do not want to see any Australian product made into the manufactured article. We as a party believe in making Australia self-supporting, and not making our people hewers of wood and drawers of water, as some honorable members would want them to be. We have representatives of the graziers here who only want greasy wool sent away. Surely we can do more than grow greasy wool. We have a right to become a manufacturing country, and this is the first step towards that. We cannot manufacture cloth until we manufacture tops, and because we take the first step of manufacturing tops, so that they will be ready for the manufacture of cloth, there is a howl of indignation from the importing crowd, who say, “ This money is wasted, and we want to know why we should encourage an industry like this. We ought to send our wool to the Old Country and have it manufactured into tops, and then have the tops sent out here to the local manufacturers.” The bounty has been given to encourage the export of wool tops, and the company has completely captured the Japanese market, the quality of its tops being superior to that of the Bradford and German tops. The factory is a large one, run on proper lines, and a great deal of money has been spent on its machinery. The tops bring27½d. per lb., which is½d. per lb. more than is paid for the Bradford tops. It is easy to account for the superiority of the Australian tops, seeing that the wool is taken from the sheep’s back soon after the animal is killed, while Bradford tops are manufactured from greasy wool exported from Australia, which loses a great deal of its strength on the voyage. Australia grows the best wool in the world, and should produce the best tops. Why should we not encourage an industry like this? We spend thousands of pounds on bounties for the production of steel, iron bars, and pig iron, and the Labour party wishes to encourage the working up of our raw products as much as possible. There is no reason why all our wool should be exported in the grease, or why we should be merely the exporters of raw material. Our people have as much intelligence and enterprise as those of any other country, and we should manufacture our own requirements, instead of going back to the old barbaric Free- Trade way of doing nothing, and letting others take advantage Of our beautiful country.
– All I ask is that the Minister shall have a full inquiry made.
– We do not object to that, though the Minister has made inquiries. The honorable member for North Sydney has said that the bounty on wool tops has had a tendency to reduce the price of wool, but, although the bounty has been in existence for four years, the price of wool to-day is higher than it has been since 1899. Therefore, the honorable member has more reason for saying that the bounty has ‘increased the price of wool. The trouble is that Messrs. F. W. Hughes and Company buy live sheep, to obtain their skins, and, consequently, have to find a market for their mutton. They have thus competed against the Auburn Meat Ring, which is pulling the strings to prevent the extension of the bounty. The result of the competition is that mutton is cheaper in Sydney than it is in Melbourne.
-?-Let the Minister produce evidence of that.
– An opposing deputation admitted that there is a meat ring keeping up prices to a certain figure. That was said by Mr. Gee.
– As to the statement that the bounty on wool tops injures the local manufacturers of tweed, I have here a telegram from Mr. Vicars, of Marrickville, saying that his industry is in no way affected, and that he is prepared to give an - order for tops to the local companies. The wool-top industry employs 700 hands, and its business is increasing. I do not hold shares in the company, nor are my relatives connected with it, but the company, having incurred a large expenditure to instal the latest and most up-to-date machinery, ought to be encouraged. To refuse an extension of the bounty would be to bring calamity upon the people of my district, as well as on those who have invested their capital in the enterprise. The wool is bought at from 9-Jd. to 10d. per lb., and the tops sell at from 2s. to 2s. 3d. per lb., though the various processes of manufacture reduce weight by half. I do not object to an inquiry if it is thought to be needed, but as we encourage other industries by bounty, we should encourage this industry. We should not be satisfied to merely export wool in the grease, but should aim at exporting it in a manufactured condition. In a few years time the bounty will be no longer required, but it is needed now, because the initial expensesof the industry are so heavy.
.. - I believe that it was a right thing to give a bounty for the production of wool tops in the first instance, but it was stated’ at the time that the industry would be established within five years. I do not wish to see any industry languish, and onestarted by means of a bounty should have a reasonable chance to be established beforethe bounty is withdrawn, but the honorable member for South Sydney will admit that we ought to have proper information toenable us to give a sound judgment on therequest for an extension of the bounty.
– This is an extension of the principle.
– The principle is all right.. The purpose of this particular bounty, given for a specific period, was to enable an industry to be established. All the dif- faculties which had to be contended withwere pointed out in a report circulated at the time. It was stated that by the lapseof time the difficulties would be overcome,, but during the initial stages - that is organizing the industry, getting labour together, and opening up a market - it seemed’ to be clearly established on the evidence that assistance was necessary. All that we on this side are pressing for is that the proposed extension be shown to be really necessary.
– The deputation from the Meat Trust gave that evidence. They said, “ Take away the bounty, and we will shut this crowd up.”
– It is highly desirable to foster the settlement of the Northern Territory by persons engaged in tropical industries. Has the Minister had a special report from the gentleman who is in charge of the. tropical gardens in the Territory as to the advisability of extending the bounty system to any tropical industries which are not included in the measure?
– I cannot call to mind any report.
Mr.GROOM. - I am rather sorry that the Minister did not take that step. He could have obtained valuable information from Mr. Howard Newport, an instructor in tropical agriculture at Cairns, and I think he will find that recently, in Western Australia, a very fine report has been presented by the Department of Agriculture on tropical products and the possibility of their growth in the North. I think that had the Minister made inquiries he might have been able to get additional information of value in connexion with tropical industries which would assist materially in the settlement of the North. Will he now ascertain if there is any way in which we can further assist in the development of northern tropical industries?
– What we are proposing in this Bill is merely the extension of present bounties. It deals with no new bounties, but merely extends those which the honorable member introduced.
– We regarded the introduction of those bounties as the beginning of a system of encouraging new primary industries which could be established. The Minister will see how essential it is, if we wish to settle the northern parts, to try to give as many subsidiary industries as possible to those who are engaged in cultivation. A number of industries which appear to us to be minor industries may, if scattered through the States and the northern parts, become very valuable adjuncts in the development of small farms. Will this measure extend the bounty on coffee?
– The bounty on coffee was given for eight years, and has yet three years to run.
– I wish to point out to the Minister that although we appropriate a bounty to-day, in some cases, the plants which are planted under the encouragement of the bounty cannot bear fruit for a considerable time. Take coffee, for instance. It is, I think, four or five years before the coffee plant bears fruit. Seeing that the coffee bounty was granted for eight years, it operates practically for three years over the coffee which was planted under the encouragement of the bounty, and since the passing of the Act. I have seen a letter in which persons who are interested in coffee growing wish to know whether the bounty is likely to be extended. The Minister will, I am sure, see the necessity of giving some indication so that those who desire to go in for further planting may form an idea of the probable results. I should also like to know if the bounty on linseed is to be extended.
– The bounty on linseed was granted for a term of five years, and is to be extended.
– I thinkit will expire on the 30th June of this year. Will it be extended from that date?
– It will be extended from that date for a period of five years. The law will allow us to ante-date claims which may have come in during the interim, but we have asked growers not to make claims until the Bill is passed. It does not refer to the other article on which there has been so much discussion, but only to products, such, for example, as linseed.
– If the bounty on coffee is not extended there is no hope for the industry.
– In this Bill I do not propose to extend the bounty on coffee, because it has yet three years to run.
– A man who plants to-day has no hope of getting a bounty on what he produces, because the plants will take some time to mature - three years I think.
– The bounty has been in operation during the past five years, but only a very small amount has been claimed by coffee-growers. I have only information regarding the bounties which terminated on 30th June, this year.
– I spoke more from the point of view of the Northern Territory. The Minister will see that there is no encouragement offered.
– In the Bill which I have shown the honorable member, I do not propose to deal with that matter, but merely to appropriate an additional amount to that which was appropriated in 1907 for the purpose of the bounties upon flax, hemp, jute, linseed, flax seed, rice, tobacco leaf, fish, dried fruits, and for continuing the bounty on tops for .another two years from 3rst December, 1913. I have already stated briefly the reasons for that extension. I think it is a great pity that the question of extending bounties should arise in the final session of a Parliament If it could be avoided it would be better for the question to arise in the middle of a Parliament, and not at a time when the bounties have to be either extended or allowed to lapse. It is for that reason that I propose to extend the two years’ bounties under slightly different conditions, as will be seen when the Bill is introduced. So far as the bounties on coffee or other eight years’ articles are concerned, where it has been shown, by persons that they have made a determined effort to secure a bounty in each case, it is to be extended. In some cases, in respect of the smaller items, even where no such intention has been expressed, it is thought advisable to extend the bounties, rather than to allow them to lapse, inasmuch as an attempt may be made later on to earn them. On the motion for the second reading of the Bill I shall put before the House the payments that have, so far, been made. A statement of the payments made is published in the press every quarter, but I think it would be advisable to provide for an annual return for the information of honorable members.
– The Minister could prescribe that a return shall be furnished.
– Quite so. Honorable members would then be able to see what bounties had not been claimed, and the extent to which the system had develope’d certain industries. As to what has been said in regard to the bounties on coffee, ginned cotton, and cotton seed, I recognise that the pioneers in the industries to which they relate must experience considerable difficulty, and I am confident that if it were shown that the lapsing of any one of the bounties would cripple an industry, the Government of the day, no matter what party might be in power, would consider the desirableness of extending it for a further period. When the honorable member for Darling Downs, some five or six years ago, introduced the Bounties Bill, it was thought that the granting of these bounties for a period of five years would be sufficient to enable the industries concerned to be fairly well established. That belief, however, has not been borne out by experience. FI ax- growers in the electorate of Flinders propose next year to plant out more crop. Flax is being grown there, and there is no reason why it should not be grown in other parts of the southern States. The flax produced in the electorate of Flinders is, I am informed, of very good quality, and the growers tell me that they are just getting on their feet, but that it would be impossible for them to continue if the bounty were at this stage withdrawn. Those who have entered upon the industry find it difficult to induce others to join them, and the trouble is that, unless there is a fairly large output, it is impossible for them to obtain the machinery necessary to convert their crop into a marketable commodity. I brought these representations before the Cabinet, and it was decided that, with one exception, the bounties should be made payable for a period of ten years, instead of five, as at. present. The exception relates to the bounty on wool tops, which it is proposed to extend for a period of only two years.
.- I should not have taken up the time of the Committee at this stage if the honorable member for South Sydney had not seen fit to describe me as a Free Trader.
– I apologize.
– I have never been ai Free Trader, and I wish to correct the honorable member’s statement. I desire to remind the Minister of Trade and Customs that in respect of certain crops - particularly in the case of coffee and sisal hemp - a considerable amount of preliminary work .is necessary before the bounty can be claimed. The land has to be cleared and planted, and five years at least must elapse before the first crop, which is necessarily a small one, can be obtained. I think it would be well for the Parliament to pass a Bill providing for the payment of a bounty for an indefinite, instead of as at present a fixed, period. Where a limitation is imposed, those who are pioneering these industries do not know whether, at the end of the period fixed, the bounty will be renewed. Difficulties consequently arise. The bounty on coffee, for which the present Act provides, certainly would not induce ‘ me to enter the industry at thisstage, because I should know that it would lapse before I could hope to secure the slightest return. The position in the case of wooltops is different, since an immediate return is obtained from that industry. It is much easier to determine whether a bounty is necessary in that case than it is in the case of certain primary productions. The Minister has stated that a very small amount has so far been claimed in respect of certain bounties. This is due to the fact that some time must necessarily elapse before it becomes generally known that a bounty is payable in respect of certain industries, and before steps can be taken to earn it. It takes some little time for such legislation to ha-ve any appreciable effect on production; and, under the present system, the moment a bounty begins to take effect, it starts to disappear. I ask the Minister to consider whether it is not desirable to grant bounties, at least in respect of primary productions, for an indefinite period, leaving it open to the Parliament at any time to review the whole matter and to consider whether the payment of any one bounty should be continued. As to the bounty on wooltops, I would impress upon the Minister the desirableness of having an’ impartial inquiry.
– In justice to the company itself.
– And also in justice to the Minister. There are all sorts of ugly rumours afloat in regard to the bounty on wooltops. I do not know whether there is any ground for them, but, in justice to all concerned, a full, impartial, and independent inquiry should be made. Such an inquiry should have been held weeks ago. There is complete evidence that the company now drawing the bounty on wooltops is paying very large dividends. There can be no real necessity for the Parliament to bolster up that particular industry any more than it should bolster up other industries which are paying equally good dividends. There are many Australian industries which, so far as I know, are not giving as good a return on the capital invested as this particular industry is supposed to give, but which are not assisted by a bounty.
– And they are employing more labour.
– And they employ more labour. As to the statement made by the honorable member for South Sydney that £37,000 is annually being distributed in wages by one company, I have only to say that, whilst that statement may be perfectly true, nothing like that amount is paid by way of wages to persons actually engaged in manufacturing wooltops.
– No; but it is all one business.
– The production of wooltops is a comparatively small part of the business of the company in question.
– It is not.
– I understand that it is, from the point of view of the number of persons employed in the manufacture of wooltops and the wages paid. It may very well be, as the honorable member for Illawarra has said, that the amount of wages paid to those actually engaged in producing wooltops is not nearly as much as the bounty paid to the company. The industry is one into which machinery enters very largely. The .major portion of the work is done by machinery, whilst the rest is done by girls. Very little adult male labour i3 employed. I do not object to factory girls obtaining a fair share of any work that is going, but, from what I have heard, I doubt very much whether the bounty on wooltops is really necessary. I am willing to extend to any Australian industry as much encouragement as possible within reason. But I do say that in regard to bounties we need to be very careful as to what we do. Otherwise we may pay away a great deal of money unnecessarily. Before this Bill becomes law I think that the Minister should have an impartial investigation made. The bounty will not expire before Parliament meets again. If it were paid to the end of 1913, in all probability the company could make arrangements in such a way that its contracts for wool tops could be fulfilled without any trouble.
– They say not.
– Of course they do. The company are manufacturing a certain amount of wool tops for Australian consumption now.
– I do not think so. They only get the bounty on wool tops that are exported.
– If the company are not manufacturing for local use the ground is practically cut from under the feet of the honorable member for South Sydney, because his great contention for the continuance of this bounty was that an Australian industry is being built up. I do not see that we are building up an Australian industry if wool tops are simply manufactured to be sent abroad. We pay no bounty for wool tops manufactured for use in our own country, but it is only reasonable that if we are to give a bounty at all we shall give it all round. We should not confine it to wool tops manufactured for export. I again impress upon the Minister the necessity of giving us full and complete information from impartial sources, because, as far as I can learn from what he has said this morning, his information has hitherto been entirely of an ex parte character.
Mr.KELLY (Wentworth) [12.34].- I confess to a feeling approaching to astonishment that the Minister should have done nothing to honour the promise he made to this House on 8th October with regard to the matter under discussion. A Ministerial promise made to a Parliament is not usually a light thing.
– I informed the honorable member for Illawarra that I had made inquiry, and that I proposed to make a statement. I made it when introducing the Bill.
– I understood that the Minister, so far, had done nothing.I withdraw my criticism if it be incorrect, but I was not aware that he had done anything to carry out his promise. He said, on the 8th October -
Information as to the details referred to in the honorable member’s questions will, so far as practicable, be obtained, and a reply made as soon as possible.
– What were the details?
– The questions asked by the honorable member for Illawarra were as follows -
Is it a fact that the effect so far of the bonus on wool tops, amounting to over£30,000 of public money, has been threefold, viz. : -
Those questions, categorically put by an ex-Minister of the Crown, in my humble judgment, were sufficiently serious to justify the Minister of Trade and Customs in determining to seek to repeal the legislation as to paying a bounty on wool tops unless he could get satisfactory negative replies. That seems to me to bea proper position for any Minister of the Crown to adopt. Apparently the Minister’s inquiry has not been satisfactory to himself.
– I can assure the honorable member that the inferences contained in those questions are not borne out by the information which we have received.
– Does that remark cover all the questions? There are one or two inferences underlying them which are borne out by the actual prospectus of the company itself. I hold in my hand some extracts from Messrs. Hughes and Company’s prospectus. I find, for instance, in regard to the question of labour the following statement -
The machinery employed in all departments is most up-to-date, and throughout the important item of saving labour has been carefully studied. As an instance, the wool is fed to the mammoth scouring machines, 120 feet in length, by one lad, and it is scoured and dried without further labour, save for an onlooker, to watch the working of the machines -
– We all go in for laboursaving machinery as far as possible.
– I am quite in favour of the use of labour-saving machines, but one inference underlying these questions was that this bounty was being paid to capital, and not. to labour. Further on the prospectus says -
The immunity from labour troubles in this industry is in marked contrast to the conditions obtaining in most other industries in Australia.
I do not suppose that one lad could form a union “on his own.” The first quotation continues - while in the combing mills the work is carried out almost entirely by girls -
That is another inference which the Minister says is not borne out by his inquiries - to whom its light clean nature appeals. . . . The capacity of the present plant is about 1,000,000 lbs. per annum, and will be installed about the end of the year. Taking the average profit on wool combing at 4½d. per lb., inclusive of the bonus, and of saving of middle- men’s profits, &c., as shown hereafter, an output of 2,400,000 lbs. of tops per annum would give £45,000 per annum, so that the directors feel assured that they are well within the mark in estimating that from all branches of the business, when additional machinery has been installed, the profits will be£50,000 per annum.
This is a languishing industry which requires Government assistance to keep it on its feet.
Dividends at a high rate upon money invested may thus be anticipated.
Advantages of making skin wool into tops in one operation, in Sydney, instead of only scouring the wool and selling it for combing in Europe : -
Saving of cost of one operation, classing, scouring, drying, &c. -¾d. per lb.
Saving of buyer’s commission -¾d. per lb.
Saving of European speculator’s profit-½d. per lb.
Saving of European combing profit -¾d. per lb.
Increased value of product and diminution of oil and waste -1¼d. per lb.
Bonus average over five years -1¼d. per lb.
Per lb., total 5½d., less-
Lower selling price to get trade -1d. per lb.
Profit if sold in Europe - 4½d. per lb.
Profit if sold in Japan (including savings of charges, freight, &c., to Europe),1½d. per lb.- 6d. per lb.
Now, who will suffer from the “ lower selling price to get trade”? Will it be the buyer ? Or will it be the producer who has to enter into competition with this cuttingratesbonusedcompany ? If these tops were sold in Australia I could understand honorable members saying that it would not matter if the producer were squeezed a bit, because employment would be given to Australian workmen in textile factories. But in this case a company with a machine which is tended by one lad is getting an enormous bonus bo enable it to undercut the producers of Australian wool and to sell that wool cheaply to the foreigner - mainly to Japan - for the benefit of Japanese labour.
– The manufacturers of these tops get½d. per lb. more for them in Japan than do the Bradford manufacturers.
– If the honorable member says that the prospectus from which I am quoting is false-
– I do not say that.
– Then I hope the honorable member will forget for a moment his capitalistic friends in his own electorate.
– Nobody knows better than does the honorable member the value of prospectuses.
– If that interjection means anything it suggests that the document from which I am quoting is false. Will the Minister continue to subsidize a company which is obtaining money from Australian investors by the issue of a false prospectus? I, personally, assume that the prospectus is accurate.
– The deputation which waited on me in opposition to the bounty quoted from that prospectus. I told its members that I had seen other prospectuses in which the results predicted had not been borne out by the actual working of the enterprise.
– If the Minister thinks this prospectus false, I ask him, are the Government going to increase the profits of the company which will not put its position fairly before the public. We witnessed the same sort of thing in the case of the wireless syndicate in Sydney, where Ministers consented to a transfer which enabled that syndicate to get the sum of £45,000 in cash for the sale of its £5,000 syndicate rights. The Minister of Trade and Customs apparently bases his continued support of this industry on the assumption that the public statement of the company which is engaged in the production of these wool tops is false.
– I never made any such statement. The honorable member is quoting from a prospectus which was issued six or seven years ago.
– I am quoting from a prospectus which was issued in anticipation of the payment of this bounty.
– About six years ago. I said that many prospectuses were issued andthat the results set forth in them were not borne out by experience.
– The Minister admits that this prospectus is accurate?
– I do not. It is quite possible that the company have not made the profits that they expected to make.
– The other combine is being indirectly helped by the arrangement which was made to guarantee to its shareholders dividends of 10 per cent. The result is that competition with this great company on the part of the small men is absolutely prevented by the Government subsidy.
– The whole thing is a job.
– It may be. 1 want a comprehensive explanation of the statements made by the company. The Government ought to be very careful as to how it continues to safeguard this industry in the face of the uncontradicted statements concerning the company which is drawing this bounty. Who will have to bear the cost of providing this bounty, not to bolster up the industry referred to, because apparently it can flourish on its own, but to unduly inflate its profits? Is it not the taxpayer of Australia, and does he not get his money from the products of the country ? The living of every man depends eventually upon the production of the country, and this measure proposes a tax upon the production of the Commonwealth. The object is to bring down the price of Australian products. I think it would be difficult to more clearly complete the vicious circle than we shall do by passing the proposed Bill. I hope that the Minister of Trade and Customs will take the House into his confidence when the Bill is introduced, because the charges which have been made are very serious. I am not opposed to the establishment of industries by means of bounties. Personally, I think that it is a better way than by the imposition of Tariff duties, because under the bounty system we know exactly what we are paying for the support of a particular industry, In this case we shall know what the industry it is proposed to assist will get by way of bounty, and we know the dividends which the company referred to is paying to its shareholders. We know, further, that its operations prevent competition in the purchase of meat at the sale yards at Flemington.
– I was informed by a deputation from the Meat Ring that it is the only company outside the ring.
– That opens up a new aspect of the question. The inference underlying the question put by the honorable member for Illawarra was that this company had entered into an arrangement with the meat company, which constituted it practically a meat company also. Though the Minister suggested that the inference was not borne out by the facts, he has himself supported it by his interjection. According to the honorable gentleman’s statement, this company, which we are paying to produce wool tops for the Japanese, has entered into an arrangement with a meat company to buy skins at a price which will guarantee 10 per cent, per annum to its shareholders, and 10 per cent, per annum also to the shareholders of the meat company. In the circumstances, the bounty should be described as a meat company’s bounty, as well as a wooltops bounty.
– The honorable member might move to amend the Bill in that direction.
– Would the Minister have any objection to such an amendment of the Bill?
– I shall consider that when it is proposed.
– I am glad that the Minister recognises that there is grave reason for further consideration of this matter, and that it may be desirable even to alter the title of the proposed Bill. Possibly, it would be better still to delay the passing of the measure until next session.
– It is necessary to pass the Bill in order to continue in operation some of the bounties,’ which would otherwise lapse.
– I am aware that where bounties are given under an Act of Parliament, it is undesirable suddenly to cease to pay them, as that might bring hardship upon a struggling industry. But the charges made in this connexion are very serious, and have been strongly borne out by the statements of the Minister.
– The honorable member must have a very vivid imagination.
– I ask the Minister to give the matter further consideration. He has cast the gravest reflections upon a company, which, so far as I know, is honestly running a legitimate business. For the sake of the good name of the company, the honorable gentleman should make some inquiries during the luncheon adjournment. So far as I know, the company referred tohas done nothing to merit the reflections of the honorable member for Gwydir and the Minister of Trade and Customs.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
.- On previous occasions I have suggested that either the duty or the bounty on coffee should be increased.’. A few years ago there were forty-two coffee plantations in Northern Queensland, but that number has now dwindled to two, owing to the operation of the Tariff and the abolition of the duty on tea. At any rate, no encouragement has been given by this or any previous Government to the prodnotion of coffee, and growing has almost entirely ceased. Under the paternal care of the State Government a good deal of land was placed under cultivation, and an expert was appointed to teach the growers the best methods of producing and preparing the bean for market ; but no proversion is made in the Bill before us for any recognition of this industry, although it is admitted, on all sides, that no means should be neglected to settle the population on the north-east coast of Australia. Much good has been done to the sugar industry by means of the bounty, and it must be admitted that, to an infinitesimal extent, the coffee bounty has been operative. Is it too late for the Minister to accept an amendment from me?
– The coffee bounty has still to run for three years.
– My desire is that the coffee bounty shall be increased, and I ask the Minister whether he will increase it. Am I to understand that silence gives consent? If not, something may be done in another place.
– Some of the best coffee grown has come from North Australia.
– That is so. Some time ago I gave some Queensland coffee to the parliamentary refreshment room caterer, and every one who tasted it spoke in the highest terms of its flavour and aroma. As a matter of fact, I do not see why we should import any coffee; our climate is eminently fitted for its cultivation, and certainly more attention should be given to the industry than has been the case hitherto. I should like to know whether the Government are prepared to offer a bounty on the manufacture of tin plates, of which we import about £300,000 worth annually. We produce tin and manufacture iron, and I am given to understand that the tinning of iron plates is a comparatively simple process. There is no reason why we should export the raw material and import the manufactured article, especially in view of the fact that £300,000 represents a considerable amount of labour of which this country should have the benefit. When the honorable member for Eden-Monaro was Minister of Trade and Customs he gave me a promise, definite or indefinite, that this matter would receive earnest consideration, and that in all probability a move would be made in the direction I desired. Is it too late to do anything now ?
– It is too late, I think, to do anything by means of this Bill.
– Of course we always get the answer “ The time is not yet ripe,” though, in my opinion, it is never too late to do the right thing. Another suggestion I have to make is that a bounty might with much advantage be given on the manufacture of copper wire, or a wire-drawing plant be installed at the Small Arms Factory so that we may produce all the wire we require for telegraphic and other purposes.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Mr. Tudor and Mr. Hughes do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented, and (on motion by Mr.
Tudor) read a first time.
– I move, by leave.
That this Bill be now read a second time.
It will be remembered that the bonuses were provided principally for agricultural products, including fibres, New Zealand flax and hemp, jute, sisal hemp, linseed, rice, tobacco leaf, preserved fish, and dried fruits, but the response has not been what was expected. This morning, by way of interjection, I said that it would be well if there were laid on the table each year, financial or calendar, a return showing the amount of bounty claimed and the quantity of the respective products. The bounties vary from 5 to 20 per cent., the highest figure being given for jute, though strange to say no claim whatever has been forwarded in this connexion. I think that next yearsome such step as I have suggested will be taken. The bounty on fibres is at the rate of 10 per cent., the maximum available for one year being £8,000, or £40,000 for the five years ended 30th June last, but the amount claimed was only £849. I regard this bounty as of the utmost importance, and one of the best that has been proposed. A number of the Gippsland farmers are now growing flax, and from information I have received, the claims during the present year will exceed those of the past. On jute the rate of bounty is 20 per cent. Jute is now produced practically wholly in India with coloured labour, and that, I suppose, is why the honorable member for Darling Downs proposed so high a rate. There has been no claim for bounty on jute, but it is, nevertheless, not proposed to abolish the bounty, because we recognise the difficulties which pioneers in any industry must face. I know that, in Gippsland, farmers who came from New Zealand, recognising that the climate .there was favorable for flaxgrowing, had many difficulties to face. Although linseed, which is used for the manufacture of oil, is the seed of the flax, the fibre flax plant is different from the flax plant which produces linseed. The straw of the flax used for fibre is from i8 inches to 2 feet, and even 3 feet long. You cannot get both linseed and fibre from the same plant, Although £25,000 was available for five years for the production of linseed, only £6 was claimed. There is a bounty of 20s. a ton on uncleaned rice, the maximum for one year being £1,000, or £5,000 for five years, but there has been no claim. Honorable members, however, may have read an article which reCently appeared in the Melbourne Age, in which Mr. Elwood Mead spoke of the possibility of rice-growing in some districts of Victoria, and in other parts of Australia. He said that in Arkansaw, in America, this industry has increased the value of land from £4 an acre to five or ten times that price. Although there has been no claim the bounty is to be continued, as the rice industry would be a valuable one, especially in the Northern Territory. There is a bounty for tobaccoleaf for the manufacture of cigars of high grade of a quality to be prescribed. The quality was prescribed by one of my predecessors, it being required that the leaf should be worth is. per lb. to obtain a bounty of 2d. per lb. * We produce a fair quantity of leaf for ordinary plug and cut tobacco, but only £565 has been paid as bounty on leaf for cigars. The rate of the bounty for fish is £d. per lb., and £50,000 has been available, but only £2,348 has been paid.
– Chiefly to Queensland factories.
– Except for one year, in which, under a misapprehension, the bounty was paid for the production of smoked fish, the bulk of it has gone to Queensland and to Western Australia. In view of the fact that we are employing a trawler to exploit the fishing grounds of Australia, and have got very good reports upon some of them, I regret that private enterprise has not done more for the fish industry.
– Some of the reports are excellent, and it is a pity that they are not better known.
– I received a communication to-day from the McGill University of America, thanking the Department for Vols. 2 and 3 of the Fisheries Report, and asking for Vol. 1, to complete a fine work.
– Men able to enter the fish industry should know of these reports.
– There is a bounty of 10 per cent, for dried fruits - except currants and raisins - or candied, and exported fruits ; £6,000 may be paid in any one year, and in five years £2,945 has been paid. The Act made available for payment in five years, on the seven items upon which the bounty has expired1, the sum of £215,000, but only £6,700 has been claimed. It has been suggested that as the money has been voted we could still make it available, and there is sufficient available, except for the bounty on wooltops. Had it not been for that bounty the message 0 for the appropriation of revenue would not have been required. No doubt honorable members are desirous of getting on with business, but I think it desirable to let them know how the Act has been availed of. Forty thousand pounds have been available for flax, but in 1907-8 there was no claim, because the land had to be prepared, and there was no flax ready for harvesting. In 1908-9, £126 was claimed; in 1909-10, £120; in 1910-11, £123; and in 1911-12, £480.
– What about the bounty on coffee?
– That bounty does not terminate for another three years, and it is not proposed to interfere with any of the eight-year bounties at the present time. The chief inspector of produce for the Victorian Government reports that, aided by the bounty, the flax industry has come to stay. He adds that there is an unlimited demand for the class of fibre produced, and anticipates that the cultivation of flax will receive greater attention in the future. Linseed is also in great demand, but so far supplies are almost unobtainable, and the bounty has hardly been availed ofThe Director of the Botanic Gardens at’ Hobart says -
If only the industry in oil and fibre can get a footing in Australia, it will be a fine one. I know on first-hand authority that an effort is being made in this State to get a big development going in flax culture.
It has been complained that some farmers have not been able to obtain the bounty; but the bounty is payable only on the fibre produced, not on the straw. I am, however, inquiring whether the regulations can be modified so as to assist the farmers, and at the same time safeguard the revenue. The price of flax fibre varies from £40 to £45 a ton, and those engaged in cultivating flax say that the prospects of the industry are fairly good. There was no bounty paid on tobacco leaf for high grade cigars in 1907-8, but in 1908-9 £121 was paid; in 1909-10, £276; in 1910-11, £90; and in 1911-12, £78. Mr. Gilmour, the New South Wales expert, reported, in April of this year, after visiting Manilla, Tamworth, Somerton, and other New South Wales northern centres, that - the quantity and quality of farmers’ tobacco crops which had been irrigated were the finest he had seen. Up-to-date methods of curing are now being followed, which improve the colour of the tobacco leaf.
In Victoria, Mr. Temple Smith, the Government expert, reports equally optimistically. He says -
The result of experiments in the production of cigar leaf has been especially good. In three instances leaf had been sold at prices ranging from1s. to1s. 6d. per lb. When it is realized that yields are obtained from 700 lbs. to 1,200 lbs. per acre the profits attached to the growth of this crop are apparent. Thereare thousands of acres in eastern Gippsland capable of producing cigar tobacco.
In Queensland, such districts as Texas and Inglewood are very suitable to the production of tobacco.
– This year, the growers up there are getting very good prices.
– That is so. The bounty payments in respect of dried fish are gradually increasing, while the payments in respect of the bounty on dried fruits are increasing very rapidly. In 1907-8 the bounty payments in respect of dried fruits amounted to £139 ; 1908-9, £28 ; 1909-10. £104; 1910-11, £940; and in 1911-12, £1,734; or a total for the five years of £2,945. In the first year, bounty was paid on only 54,000 lbs. of dried fruit, whereas last year the payments were made in respect of 636,000 lbs. The debate so far has centred round the bounty on wool tops, and to that matter I propose to give some attention. The honorable member for Wentworth complained this morning that I had not given the information which the honorable member for Illawarra had sought to obtain by means of a question put to me on the 8th October last. On that occasion, I promised to obtain the desired information, and on the 22nd October, I gave a detailed reply. The honorable member asked -
To that, I replied ‘ ‘ No.” His second question was -
Is it a fact that the effect so far of the bonus on wool tops, amounting to over . £30,000 of public money, has been threefold, viz. : -
The answers to that set of questions were as follow : -
A further question put by him was -
My reply to that question was -
Hughes Limited received during1911-1912, £15,270 12s.7d. Whiddon Bros. received during 1911-12, £1,627 6s. 2d.
– That part of the question which referred to a guaranteed dividend of 10 per cent. was not answered.
– The honorable member must recognise that if any farmer claims and is paid a certain amount by way of bounty, we have no right to ask him what he does with the money so obtained.
– Messrs. F. W. Hughes Ltd. are guaranteeing to buy sheep-skins from another company at a price that will insure that company a dividend of 10 per cent. per annum.
– As long as these manufacturers are producing wool tops under fair conditions, we cannot ask them what they do with the money obtained by way of bounty. The provisions as to the observance of fair conditions in. all industries obtaining bounty have been tightened up very considerably since the Bill of 1907 was passed. I propose under this measure to take the same power as was taken under the Sugar Bounty Bill passed this year, to refer to the Conciliation and Arbitration Court the question of whether fair conditions of labour are being observed. That will practically give the Minister power to say what wages shall be paid in the industry to entitle the manufacturers to claim bounty. The honorable member for Illawarra also asked -
To that I replied, “I am not aware.”
– That was a most important inquiry.
– This company, like any other, may do what it pleases with the money that it earns and is paid by way of bounty. If, for instance, Messrs. Dalgety and Company Ltd. or Messrs. Goldsborough, Mort and Company Ltd., decided to produce wool tops, and, fulfilling all the conditions, earned the bounty, they could at the same time, if they so desired, buy up an electric light or gas-making business, and carry it on without running the risk of losing the bounty. As long as they legitimately earned the bounty we could not interfere. If honorable members opposite would say straight out, “ We are opposed to a bounty on wool tops because we think it would be harmful to Australia, “ that would take up a legitimate attitude. But to say, “ We are opposed to this bounty because a company that is earning it is engaged in another industry, in which it runs up against a company in which we happen to be shareholders” - a meatexporting company, or a meat-preserving company - is not to take up a right stand.
– Do not some honorable members say that we are paying too much as a bounty on wool tops?
– Let honorable members opposite say, if they like, that the bounty should be wiped out. On the 26th July last the honorable member for Parramatta introduced to me a deputation consisting amongst others of Messrs. Moore, McLaurin, Mc William, Field, and Gee, who made complaints, as some honorable members opposite have done, of a certain company. Statements have been made in newspapers all over Australia that there is carrying on business in Sydney a company which is practically owned by the pastoralists and keeps up the price of meat to a certain level. Mr. McWilliams said according to the official report -
There was a company styled the Colonial Meat Export Company, which had the same directors as F. W. Hughes Ltd., and presumably the same shareholders.
I inquired -
Is that the Co-operative Meat Company which keeps the price of meat up to a high level all the year round ?
To that interjection Mr. Gee replied, “ I represent that company.” The deputation asked that the bounty should be removed - that it should not even be continued for the time set forth in the principal Act.
– That was an unjust request.
– So I informed the deputation. I said in reply that I - had made an inspection of the particular establishment under notice, and thought it was worthy of the country. Members of the deputation would perhaps say if there were no bonus the business would be wiped out.
Mr. Gee then interjected, “ It would wipe itself out.” In other words he suggested that without the bounty the industry could not live. I wish now to return to the questions asked by the honorable member for Illawarra and to answers given by me to which I was referring when interrupted. The fifth question put by the honorable member was -
If so, is the effect of this to place the guaranteed meat company in a position to crushingly compete against any (and, in fact, all) small buyers of sheep at Flemington, Sydney, New South Wales.
The answer to that question was - i understand the Colonial Meat Export Com pany is a competitor in the sheep market at Flemington, New South Wales.
Finally, the honorable member asked -
Will he, before continuing the bounty, have a searching inquiry made into the whole industry and report the result of such inquiry to this House ?
I said in reply -
I hope to give the House full information when dealing with the question of bounties.
I caused the matter to be inquired into by the Department of Trade and Customs in New South Wales.
– Has the Minister a copy of the report supplied?
– Yes; here is a report furnished by Mr. Mills, Collector of Customs in New South Wales.
– This is the first time we have seen it.
– I promised to give full information when dealing with the question of bounties, and I am doing so. Had I thought that honorable members desired to see Mr. Mill’s report in advance, I should have been pleased to place it Before them. I have no wish to withhold any information.
– I am not suggesting that the honorable member has.
– The questions put by the honorable member were sent on to Mr. Mills for immediate reply and report. The report supplied by him gives the amounts that have been claimed and paid by way of bounty to the several companies. In 1908-9, Messrs F. W. Hughes and Company Limited received £325 by way of bounty; in 1909-10, £4,933; 1910-11, £8,522; and 1911-12, £15,270. Messrs. Whiddon Brothers claimed last year, in respect of only six months, bounty amounting to £1,627.
– Is Messrs. F. W. Hughes and Company’s factory devoted solely to the manufacture of wool tops?
– No. I shall give the actual number of persons employed in the wool top making industry as shown by the report -
Persons employed : F. W. Hughes Ltd. - 304 persons are employed on an average, made up as follows : -
Washers, feeders, pullers, wool sorters, yardmen, firemen, labourers, &c., including 19 youths - 127 males.
Combing mills : Machine hands and assistants (males), including 41 youths - 125 males.
According to this report,125 males and 52 females are employed in the wool top making branch of this firm’s business, but there should be added to that number a proportion of the firemen and engineers who are included in the figures relating to Other branches of the business. If that addition were made, it would make the number of males employed in the wool-top making industry greater than the number employed in the other branches of the firm’s business. The weekly wages paid are as follows -
Whiddon Bros. Ltd. employ on average 71 persons -
– Those figures cover a big business.
– No, I have given the figures relating to the top-making and combing separately. The bounty paid to Messrs. F. W. Hughes Limited was £15,270, and that to Whiddon’s, £1,627. The wages paid last year by the former amounted to £31,596.
– Can the Minister give us the total wages paid by that firm to the employes in the combing industry?
– They amounted to £254 11s. weekly for males alone. These figures are taken from the firm’s own books. I will undertake to say that the opponents of this bounty would not supply us with similar information if they were asked for it. They want to crush the industry. Upon an average, 305 males were employed, and 70 females. The largest number employed at any one time was 330 males and 74 females. For the year ended June last the total wages paid by both firms engaged in this industry was £35,000. One firm manufactured wool tops only for the last six months of that year, during which period it paid £3,653 in wages. I have here the amounts at which the wool tops were sold to the various countries of the world, and they ranged from 2s. 2d. to 2s. 3d. per lb.In the first year that the bounty was operative the output of tops was 52,000 lbs. ; last year it was 3,122,000 lbs. In this Bill we propose to leave the amount available for bounty at £10,000. We do not intend to increase it, as we have been asked to do. Deputations from both the employers and the employes have waited upon me requesting that the amount should be increased. But the Government, after careful consideration, have decided not to accede to their request. During the first three years that the bounty’ was operative it amounted to1½d. per lb. upon wool tops. From the beginning of the present year it has been1d. per lb., and next year that rate will be continued if this Parliament takes no action. But it is proposed to extend that bounty for a further period of two years.
– Will not the effect of that be to enable the manufacturers to claim bounty on all the back portion?
– There is only £4,000 available for the payment of bounty.
– The Government have paid bounty to the extent of about £29,000.
– Up to the end of June of the present year we have paid ,£31,000. Although the manufacturers ‘ will receive id. per lb. on all wool tops produced during the current year, and although they previously received 1½d. per lb., it is proposed that in future they shall be paid a bounty of id. per lb. on the first 1,000,000 lbs. produced, and fd. per lb. upon every subsequent pound.
– The Minister means fd. per lb. upon every subsequent pound produced by the one firm?
– Yes. I find that in 1 9 10 the quantity of wool tops exported was 1,123,469 lbs., valued at ,£134,874. which is equal to 2s. 4d. per lb. The bounty payable was id. per lb., and the percentage of the bounty to the value was 3$ per cent. The quantity of greasy wool exported during the same year was 587,090,469 lbs., valued at £23,439>°98> or 9jd. per lb. The bounty on that amount thus represented o per cent. If we take into consideration the added value - that is, the difference between the value of the greasy wool and the value of the tops - it works out at 9½d. per lb. The percentage of the bounty to the .added value was 5.1-Sd. per cent. I trust that honorable members will pass the Bill. If the payment of a bounty upon the production of wool tops had not been involved, probably it would have been agreed to within twenty minutes or half an hour. But I know that one newspaper in Sydney has published a series of articles concerning . this industry. There are some persons who are anxious .to crush it as soon as possible. Personally, I think it is a good industry. The honorable member for Wentworth referred .this “morning to a prospectus which was issued by a certain company. But I ask him whether he has ever known a prospectus to fulfil all its predictions? Perhaps Messrs. Hughes Brothers in starting this industry expected that they would, be able to produce wool tops very cheaply. I am confident from the information in my possession that they have not realized their expectations in this matter. . If they choose to use some of the money which they have made out of the industry in any other industry they are at perfect liberty to do so. We have no more right to say they shall not purchase sheepskins than to declare that they shall not make tweed from wool tops. If they fulfil the conditions laid down for the payment of the bounty, they have a right to claim it.
.- I do not rise for the purpose of opposing this Bill. On the contrary, the principle underlying the payment of bounties has always had my support. But although the Minister stated that he would give us all necessary information in connexion with this proposal, I doubt whether he has done so. Originally, a bounty upon wool tops was granted for a period of five years. An extension of payment is now sought for two years. What are the reasons for that extension? I am prepared to view the proposal sympathetically, but we ought to be told the . particular reasons why this extension of the period over which the bounty shall operate, is sought. I presume that the Minister” has had a deputation from, the employers and the workmen.
– Yes. I said so.
– But the Minister has not told us what reasons they advanced for asking an extension.
– I think I stated this morning that they informed me they, had to enter into contracts twelve months ahead, and that they could not pay wages to-day but for the bonus - that if the bonus were withdrawn the industry must lapse.
– When the Government of which I was a member introduced the original bonus proposals we felt that we were perfectly justified in doing so. It was pointed out to us that there would be a distinct advantage to the wool trade from the wool growers1 and from the sellers’ point ‘of view, because there would be increased competition. This would be more especially so in the case of tops made fromsheep skins. It was said thi* would re-act favourably on the value of sheep and the frozen meat export trade by increasing the value of the sheep skin. The bounty proposals were introduced in no haphazard way, but after careful investigation by experts, including Mr. H. V. Jackson, New South Wales; Dr. Cherry, Victoria; Dr. Holtze, South Australia ; and Mr. J. Dreyer of Western Australia. We also had reports from experts relating to tropical productions and also fish. A memorandum was prepared by the
Customs Department after special inquiries, and it contained the following -
Top making for export, it is believed, can be successfully established here with the aid of a bonus for a period of five years, after which, if conducted on a large scale, and in proper hands, the industry should well be able to stand alone, and once it has been demonstrated that it can be conducted successfully it should take rank as one of the first industries.
The period that was asked for was five years, which, we were informed, would be quite sufficient to enable this to rank as one of the first industries. However, we are all human, and it may be that the foundations of that prophecy were not correct; and some information from the Minister in this regard would be welcome. The memorandum goes on -
The industry of scouring wool in Australia must always be a diminishing one, as the manufacturer prefers to have every operation conducted under his own supervision. For this and other reasons the standard of price on a clean scoured basis is lower for scoured wool than for greasy.
No fewer than seven reasons were given why the tops should be made in Australia, as follows : -
The question we had to ask ourselves was : Whether there would be any chance of permanently establishing this industry by means of this bonus, paid over the definite period mentioned? Figures were supplied showing that we were justified in anticipating that the industry would be ultimately established on a profitable basis. Estimates were given, and I think the Minister ought to look at these, and see whether they still hold good.
The following shows what was the position in this connexion : -
Reduced to pence per lb., the advantages and disadvantages to the local wool-scourer should run out as follow : -
Then the important statement is made -
If markets be found in Japan and the East the above would be altered favorably to the local manufacturer.
I understand that this product chiefly finds its market in the East ?
– Then, according to the report, that is another element in favour of the local manufacturer; and, as I say, the Minister ought to inquire whether the forecast in that memorandum still holds good.
– If the honorable member refers to other portions of that memorandum he will see favorable forecasts that were not fulfilled.
– Quite so, but we are entitled to know whether the conditions have changed, and the reasons for the proposed extension. The memorandum goes on to say -
It is predicted that in the future all the tops now being made elsewhere from Australian wool will be made cheaper .and as well in Australia owing to the perfect natural conditions which exist in Australia in the shape of raw material, water supply, and climate. The number of combs now at work in Australia is estimated at twenty, which represents 1,560,000 lbs. weight of tops per annum, said to be very far below actual requirements - about 15,000,000 lbs. weight.
I am sorry that the Minister has not seen his way to propose to extend the bounty on coffee, which expires in about three years’ time, and which,’ in view of the development of the Northern Territory, might prove of great advantage. It will be admitted that coffee is one of the products that will meet with some success in the Territory. In the annual report of the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Stock for this year we are told -
All the world over the consumption of coffee does not show such expansion as does that of tea, and consequently the effects of over-production are constantly in evidence in most coffee-producing countries. The coffee plant flourishes through the eastern coastlands of this State, from “Furthest North” right down to Brisbane.
What is said of that part of Queensland may with equal truth be said of the Northern Territory -
The shrub, however, will not bear frost - certainly not if in the least severe - so that coffee production would hardly be practicable further south than Brisbane. The production here has not reached the demand of the Eastern States of the Commonwealth, so to this extent expansion of output is feasible.
In regard to tobacco, I should particularly like to direct the Minister’s attention to what Mr. Neville, the Queensland tobacco expert, has to say on the administration of the bounty amongst the farmers. Speaking of cigar leaf, on which the bounty is paid, Mr. Neville says -
So far the bounty of 2d. per lb. has not done much to encourage this branch of farming, as the farmers say that it has been so hedged about by regulations that it is hardly worth while to look to it unless less strictness is observed.
Prices for cigar tobacco have been very satisfactory, growers averaging over is. 3d. per lb.; and some this year are expecting to get at least 2s. for the crop, as they have the best samples that they have ever grown. 1+ would appear that leaf of the very best quality can be grown here, and that the outlook, as a whole, is a good one. Mr. Neville said in a previous part of the report -
I think it is worth while that this Department take under consideration the advisability of assisting the small grower in installing irrigation plants. That this industry will become a valuable one to the State I do not think can be questioned, as the buyers are urging the increase of the crop, and some of them are show- ing their faith by their works, and are spending money freely to encourage and forward it. Already the average crop in growing, hauling, and handling is worth to the State between ^’40,000 and ,£50,000; and there is no reason why, if the adverse weather conditions can be neutralized by artificial watering at the proper time, in a few years’ time it should not be more than doubled. I have to report also there seems a disposition to improve the quality and the better class of improved seed are now almost altogether being planted.
It would be well, I think, if the Minister were to make some inquiries as to the cause of the trouble to which Mr. Neville refers. In the amending Bill, one very important change is made. Section 6, which is to be repealed, says -
Every grower or producer who claims bounty under this Act shall specify the rate of wages paid in respect of the labour employed by him, other than the labour of members of his family, in growing or producing the goods, and the Minister, if he is of opinion that the rates so paid are below the standard rates paid in the place or district in which the goods are grown or produced, may withhold the whole or any part of the bounty payable.
Bounty is not paid unless the standard rates of wages prevailing in the districthave been recognised by the claimants, which is a fair condition to impose. But the Minister is substituting a. procedure which is very cumbrous and difficult, and which, although it might do for large industries, is not applicable to small industries, such as the growing of sisal hemp, flax, and other things. If a claim is made for bounty in respect of, say, cotton, the Minister is to inquire first whether there is any Commonwealth award applying to the industry, and then whether there ii any State award. If he finds that no award applies to the industry, he must discover whether the employers and employes in the district have registered under any Commonwealth or State Act, and if he finds that they have not, he must then refer the matter to a High Court or State Judge. The claim might come from some small farmer, say, on the Victoria River in the Northern Territory, and in such a case the procedure would be absurd. Indeed, in many instances persons would not bother about the bounty, even though on perfectly sure ground regarding rates and conditions, because of the trouble that this procedure would involve. There will be small industries claiming bounties all over Australia, and the application of this machinery will hamper administration, and may make the boundaries useless. I suggest to the Minister that it would be sufficient if he would satisfy himself that the claimant for bounty has’ paid the rate of wages prevailing in the district, or a reasonable rate. It is useless to make rigid and cumbrous conditions.
The honorable member for Moreton has always shown the keenest interest in primary production, and in his district more cotton has been grown than in any other in Australia. I am sorry that attention was not paid to his request for a bounty on the manufacture of cotton-piece goods. In Ipswich there is the only cotton mill in Australia, and we were informed that a duty of 10 per cent. would have enabled it to keep going, and to give a large amount of employment; but as the duty was refused by this Parliament, the mill operated for a time but had to be closed down recently. To my mind, there is as much justification for the granting of a bounty for the production of cotton as for the granting of a bounty for the manufacture of wool tops, cotton being as natural to Australia as wool. Indeed, no other country in the world can produce better cotton, Queensland cotton having been pronounced by eminent experts to be of the highest quality.
– I tasted some magnificent tea the other day which had been grown near Melbourne, but we cannot produce tea in Victoria.
– There are large areas in Australia where, if the labour were available, we. could produce tea. Cotton should be an Australian industry, and, no doubt, will in time become one. In its initial stages that industry will require assistance, and although it is excluded from consideration now, I hope that when another opportunity arises, attention will be given to it. I have always shown myself sympathetic towards bounties, though, of course, we must be guided by practical business considerations. We ought to have more information regarding the bounty on wool tops.
.- The replies given by the Minister to very important questions which I asked relating to the bounty on wool tops, were really no replies at all. My first question was -
The reply was, “No.” I admit that on the figures which have been given by the Ministerthe amount of the bounty is not anything like double the amount paid in wages, but the bounty goes a long way to pay wages in the industry. According to the Minister, 304 hands were employedby Messrs. F. W. Hughes and Company Ltd., their wages amounting to £31,596, while the bounty received was £15,270. Of course, all the hands are not employed in the combing work for which the bounty is paid, but are engaged in other branches. The bounty, however, amounts to £15 for every person employed in combing or in other operations, which is an enormous assistance to the firm. My second question was -
Is it a fact that the effect so far of the bonus on wool tops, amounting to over £30,000 of public money, has been threefold, viz. : -
The answer to the first part of the question was “No,” and I find that the price paid by the Japanese averages 2s. 2d. and 2s. 3d. a lb., so that apparently they do not get wool tops more cheaply than any one else, every one paying about the same price for them. The Minister says that no information is available regarding dividends, and that the two firms getting bounty employ 70 females and 305 males. But since these firms are drawing public money, the Minister should make it his business to obtain information regarding their dividends. The third question was -
It is important that weshould know whether the firm uses the bounty to guarantee a 10 per cent. dividend to a company which is not manufacturing wool tops. An examination of the names on the share list shows the two companies to be almost identical. The Minister says that information is not obtainable as to whether the bounty is being used to guarantee a dividend of 10 per cent. on the operations of the Colonial Meat Export Company. That is information that we ought to have.
– I do not think so. The company, having earned the bounty, is entitled to spend as it pleases the money so obtained. We have no more right to ask it what it does with it than we should have to tell an old-age pensioner that he must not buy a drink for himself.
– These direct questions have been asked, and the only reply we have received is that the information sought cannot be obtained. When people ask for the expenditure of public money to assist them in their business, it is our duty to see that money so paid away is carried along those channels in which it is expected to flow. I also asked the further pertinent questions -
Surely the Minister should have obtained a full reply to this question. Instead of doing so, he simply told me that the information could not be procured. I could obtain it for myself, yet the Minister, with all the officers of his Department at his disposal, does not think it worth while to get the information.
– I say distinctly that I have no more right to ask such a question than I have to ask a public servant how he spends his salary.
– We have a right to know in what direction public money goes when it is paid out in this way. If honorable members opposite are satisfied in regard to this matter, I am not.
– Those who earn the bounty, and get it, are entitled to give it to a benevolent asylum if they like.
– We are entitled to know whether the money is being used for the production of the specific article in respect of which it is being paid.
– The bounty cannot be claimedunless the article to which it relates is produced.
– I admit that wool tops are being produced by this firm; but it is receiving a bonus equal to £50 per hand employedin its establishment, although a number of those employes are not actually engaged in the production of wool tops. I have no desire to labour this matter. I am not actuated by any vindictive motive in seeking this information, but in the interests of the company itself against which the accusations on which I based my questions are made, I think we are entitled to the fullest particulars.
Mr.W est. - The honorable member is trying to find out something about the Colonial Meat Company.
– The two companies seem to be one and the same. The Minister has at his command resources that should enable him to supply the House with the fullest information, but he has seen fit to leave the whole matter in a most unsatisfactory position. I think that he might well have placed us in possession of more facts before asking us to grant an extension of the bounty on wool tops.
.- On the whole, I feel inclined to support this Bill, although, like the honorable member for Darling Downs, I regret thatthe cotton industryhas been overlooked in connexion with it. The cotton supplies of the world are not keeping pace with the demand, and in the very near future the price of cotton will be much higher than it is at present. I desire to draw the special attention of the Minister to the position of the cotton industry, since I regard him as being personally responsible for its destruction in Queensland. It is hardly reasonable to ask the whole of the people to submit to a heavy duty on cotton piecegoods to assist an industry which, for all practical purposes, is as yet in its infancy. But while that is so, there is no reason why we should not encourage by means of the bounty system those which we desire to see established in Australia. In 1907 the Minister opposed the imposition of a duty of 10 per cent. on cotton hosiery yarns. He asked to have hosiery yarns free, and that request being acceded to by the House, practically all the cotton that has since entered Australia has come in free. The cotton industry , was established in Queensland about1860, cotton mills then being erected at Ipswich, as the result of a bounty offered by the State Government. Owing to the want of capital and other difficulties, however, the proprietors were forced to close it down as soon as the bounty lapsed. The matter was brought under the notice of the Minister some months ago by the Ipswich Chamber of Commerce and myself, but although the honorable gentleman promised to consider whether steps should be taken to save the industry, I have not yet received any intimation as to his decision nor, so far as I am aware, has any communication been sent to the Ipswich Chamber of Commerce. The question of whether the bounties provided in respect of ginned cotton and cotton seed can be claimed depends upon the establishment of a mill for ginning cotton. By wiping out the cotton industry as it existed until a few months ago at Ipswich, we did away altogether with the growing of cotton, since the bounties payable under the Act are in respect of ginned cotton and cotton seed delivered at the factory for manufacture into oil. The only means of ginning that produced in Queensland was removed by the closing up of Messrs. Joyce Brothers’ mill at Ipswich. Judging by an interjection which he made while the honorable member for Darling Downs was speaking, the Minister seems to doubt the possibility of cotton being grown in commercial quantities in Queensland.
– No, I believe it can be produced there.
– It has been produced in Queensland in fairly large quantities. A memorandum issued in connexion with the Bounties Bill of 1907, sets forth that a conference reported -
We find that in the year 1882 - and under the stimulus of a bounty and high prices - 4,717 acres of cotton were planted in Queensland, the yield being 212,370 lbs. of ginned cotton, or a return, at ordinary market price, of £8 per acre.
That is not a very high return.
– It must depend upon the area under cultivation.
– There is a great deal of labour involved in picking cotton, and that is one of the difficulties associated with the establishment of the industry in Australia. We have in the tropical parts of Queensland, and also in the Northern Territory, large areas of land suitable for growing cotton and it would be a good thing if all that land were returning to the tillers of the soil even£8 an acre. As the Minister has seen fit not to include in this Bill a bounty on the production of cotton-piece-goods I hope that he will give the matter favorable consideration, and, in the near future, submit a proposal to stimulate the cotton industry in the Commonwealth. I regret very much that the Ipswich cotton mills should have been closed down for want of a duty of 10 per cent., or an equivalent bounty. Coming to the bounty on tobacco leaf, I have only to say that we can produce in Queensland, and in certain parts of New South Wales, some of the best tobacco leaf to be found in the world. There appears to be a difficulty, however, in the way of obtaining the bounty, since it is provided that the leaf in respect of which it is claimed must be of such a quality as to command a price of 1s. per lb. Unfortunately for the tobaccogrowers they find themselves in the hands of the monopoly, the market value of the leaf being fixed by a trust. I have spoken on one or two occasions against the bounty on wool tops. Since then I have made personal inquiry into the operations of the firm that is now drawing the greater portion of the bounty, and I find that so far as the Australian woollen industry is concerned, its efforts are a mere drop in the ocean, and are not likely to have any effect on the Australian market. I am pleased to hear that we have a wool-top making industry of the magnitude described by the Minister. I have always contended, however, that the bounty on wool tops should not be confined to exported wool tops. I do not know why that limitation was proposed.
– Because we already had a protective duty to assist manufacturers of tweeds and hosiery in Australia.
– I do not object to a bounty on wool tops that are exported, if in that way we can assist the industry. One of our largest exports from Australia is wool. That export business has been worked up without the aid of any bounty. To subsidize the export of wool tops and not the local manufacture of them seems to me to be conferring a benefit upon the foreign buyer of those tops. I would like to see all our woollen goods manufactured in Australia.
– I hope that we shall have the honorable member’s vote in favour of protective duties the next time the Tariff is re-opened.
– The honorable member always had my vote in such circumstances.
– We could not get the honorable member to support a duty of over 20 per cent.
– Nonsense. However, I have no desire to be drawn on Tariff proposals. Every manufacturer of wool tops in Australia should be afforded an opportunity of claiming this bounty just as freely as does the manufacturer who exports them. The adoption of that policy would help our local industries, and afford them a further measure of protection without increasing the burden of protection.
.- From the Minister’s speech, I failed to gather any valid reason for continuing this bounty. If he had shown that the firms engaged in the export of wool tops would be unable to carry on operations if the bounty were withdrawn, there would be some excuse for continuing it.
– One firm admitted that they would be unable to continue operations.
– Does the Minister think that if the bounty were discontinued, Messrs. Hughes Limited, who are paying 10 per cent. dividends, could not carry on?
– I do not think they could carry on at the wages they are paying.
– I believe that last year the firm in question obtained more by way of bounty than they paid in wages to their employes. According to the Minister’s own figures, 177 hands were employed in the combing mills, and a few whom he said ought to be counted were engaged in other branches of the industry. Roughly speaking, there were 200 hands employed in the combing of wool tops. Last year the company received £15,270 by way of bounty, or the equivalent of £76 per employé.
– But that payment was for a period of two years.
– The reason they did not get the bounty during the previous year was that they did not produce sufficient tops. I say again that last year they received in bounty the equivalent of £76 per employed I do not think that they paid more than that sum in wages.
– I am not sure that the whole of their employes should not be counted.
– There are 300 hands employed by Messrs. Hughes Limited, but some of them are employed in other branches of the industry.
– All the other fellmongers have closed their establishments.
– That goes to confirm my statement that this company is able to compete unfairly owing to the subsidy which is being granted to it by the Commonwealth. There is no warrant for a continuance of this bounty. It was granted in the first instance to enable the industry to get upon a sound footing. We were assured that at the end of five years it would be able to stand alone. It cannot be fairly urged that Messrs. Hughes Limited cannot profitably carry on operations in the absence of the bounty. Why then should we be asked to contribute another £20,000 to their shareholders? There is not the least doubt that the firm is a wealthy one which could well carry on without the assistance of the public. Last year it had to pay no wages to its employés. The whole of those wages were paid by the people of Australia. I do not see that the public are deriving any very great benefit from the payment of the bounty. It is true that it is providing employment for 200 hands. But that is not sufficient. It will require to be shown that the public are receiving some other benefit. If the bounty were granted for the production of wool tops something might be said in its favour. If the bounty were paid to our woollen mills for the manufacture of tops used in their business, there would be some warrant for it. But this bounty is payable only upon the export of wool tops, and I fail to see any special virtue in that policy. I am sorry that the Minister of Trade and Customs did not make clear the reason which exists for the continuance of the bounty.
– The honorable member who has just resumed his seat said he would not object to this bounty if it could be shown that it conferred a benefit other than the employment of 200 hands, upon the people of Australia. I would point out to him that the wool-top industry is not the only industry which is benefited by the payment of the bounty. The honorable member must be as conversant with the real position as are most people. What is the reason of all the antagonism which is exhibited to the payment of this bounty? It is to be found in the fact that the operation of the bounty is injuring the Meat Ring in Australia. While the grower of meat is receiving as much for that commodity as he used to do, the people of Australia are to-day getting it cheaper. We know that the Meat Ring went so far as to “ corner “ sheepskins, so that Messrs. Hughes Limited for a time could not obtain the wool with which to manufacture wool tops. But the company then entered the market, and purchased sheep in competition with the Meat Ring. I would also point out that the industry affords employment to a large number of hands. I am assured by men in the union that they are now receiving 100 per cent. more wages than they previously received, and that they are working full time. In addition, we retain our sheepskins, which are also worked up by the company. The honorable member for North Sydney must know ‘ that Messrs. Hughes Limited were forced into the market to purchase live stock because they could not obtain the sheepskins with which to manufacture wool tops. In one year 9,000,000 of those skins were exported, when they should have been manufactured into leather locally. If those skins can be converted into leather here, and at the same time we can keep the price of meat down to its normal level, we shall be benefiting Australia.
– The price of meat in Sydney has Recently been higher than ever it was.
– In the absence of this industry it would have been still higher. Who is making all this fuss? The Meat Ring. As Messrs. Hughes Limited can produce wool tops to the detriment of those who previously handled them, the latter have been obliged to pay better wages. In the absence of this industry the wages paid for the production of wool tops would fall 50 per cent.
– There are Wages Boards.
– The Courts and Wages Boards base wages on the ability of the employer to pay, irrespective of the living wage consideration. The bounty benefits Australia, inasmuch as Japan is now using Australian tops in preference to Bradford tops.
– The Japanese are buying the raw material here.
– But they buy wool tops, which they get cheaper here than at Bradford; and, if they buy Australian wool, let them buy it direct from here. The bounty has done good, if only in the direction, of higher wages ; and, better still, it has given a slap to the Meat Ring - hence the opposition to the proposal.
– In reply to the remarks of the honorable member for Darling Downs, I would point out that in every succeeding Bounties Bill an endeavour has been made to insure fair wages and the observance of an Australian standard of conditions. The honorable member is afraid that if a farmer produced 2 cwt. of tobacco or sugar, we might have to put the whole of the machinery of the High Court into operation.
– That is the procedure laid down.
– It is true that the Minister may make application to the Court, or any industrial tribunal ; but surely it is reasonable that, if there is a Wages Board in the district, the Government . should, in making conditions, ascertain what is the usual and fair rate of wages paid. I can assure the honorable member that there is no intention to use a steam hammer to crush a walnut. ‘ As time has gone on, and Bounties Bills have been introduced, the industrial conditions have been improved ; and, moreover, it is only right -that those people who may claim the bounties should know what the conditions are before they go into the enterprise, and not, as in the harvester case, find out twelve months afterwards, when the products have been made and sold. The honorable member for North Sydney asked why this bounty was given on the exports of tops, and not on the wool produced for home consumption. I would point out that the woollen manufacturers enjoy a duty on their finished article; and the desire is that the wool should be sent out in a more highly manufactured state than previously.
– The Minister said he would give reasons for extending the time for the operation of the bounty.
– The workers and employers represented to me that there is necessity for granting the bounty twelve months ahead ; and in this connexion the following sworn declaration giving extracts from letters written by the firm’s representative in Japan, by the secretary to F. W. Hughes and Company Limited, will explain the situation -
Selling twelve months forward. - I must again say that if you want to sell in Japan you must be prepared to do as the Bradford and German people do, viz., make contracts up to twelve and fifteen months ahead.
The mills here make twelve months’ contracts for their output of cloth with the Government, and with distributing merchants. To protect themselves they must cover by purchasing their raw material - wool tops - and so make certain of supplies.
If the market rises then it does not matter to them, but if it did rise and they had not covered they would stand to lose heavily.
I know that it- is very worrying to you to have to sell so far ahead, but you have either got to make up your mind to dp this or run the risk of being shut out of all the orders here.
I suppose financing, would be a heavy item, but you can of course always insure yourselves by buying your raw material ahead.
The Bradford and German woolcombers, as you know, buy their twelve months’ supply in Australia during the season, so that it suits them also very well to sell far ahead.
– Why is the extension necessary, in view of the fact that five years was said to be the time necessary to make this a permanent industry?
– In the first three years the bounty was reduced from 1½d. to id. ; and I propose that, after the first 1,000,000 lbs., there shall be a corresponding reduction, on the ground that it is proportionately cheaper to turn out 4.000,000 lbs. than to turn out 1,000,000 lbs. I trust there will be no demand for any further extension, or, if there be. that it will be in a modified form. The workers pointed out to me that the yearly export of sheepskins from Australia amounted to 9,000,000. In 1909 the export was 8,380,000; in 1910 it was 9,673,000; and in 1911 it was 8,832,000. The complaint of the fellmongers is that they cannot get into the market to buy the sheepskins, and F. W. Hughes and Company have had to kill sheep in order to obtain skins. The workers recognise that, with an increase in wages amounting to about 35 per cent., it is impossible for the industry to go on without a bounty.
– Does that mean that without a bounty the industry cannot compete in the foreign markets?
– As a matter of fact, the opponents of the bounty realize the situation, and are anxious, by dispensing with the bounty, to get rid of a competitor. If they had not come to me, and so made their object clear, I should, not have been prepared to advocate the introduction of this Bounties Bill twelve months beforehand. Personally, I should like to see Australia turn out not only wool tops, but the yarn or the cloth ; and I trust that, on the next occasion, we may be proposing a bounty with that object in view.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Conditions of employment and rates of wages).
– I take it that, although the Bill lays down certain conditions to which I have already referred, the Minister will not attempt to apply those conditions to isolated cases.
– I do not think any Minister would, under such circumstances, attempt, except with great reluctance, to put into operation cumbrous law machinery ; and, personally, I shall be delighted if any step of the kind can be avoided. It is not a nice position for a Minister to be called upon to act as arbiter in a matter of laying down a standard rate of wages ; these questions are much better settled by authorities outside. I have no doubt that the Bill, in operation, will prove satisfactory ; but, if it should not, I shall have no hesitation in asking Parliament to amend it.
.- The Bill provides that if the Minister finds that the rates of wages and conditions of employment are below the standard rates and conditions prescribed by any Commonwealth or State authority, or below those agreed upon between representatives of associations of employers and employes registered under a Commonwealth, or State Act, or below the rates and conditions declared on application by the President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, he may withhold the whole or any part of the bounty. Apparently, although the claimant of bounty may comply with the conditions prescribed in paragraphs a and b, he may fail for want of compliance with the conditions in paragraph c. The scheme of the Bill seems to be that the Minister shall apply to the President to declare what ought to be the wages ruling in any industry. I suppose that the Minister will take advantage of any machinery provided by the States, because these bounties will be claimed over a very wide area, and it would be difficult for the President to visit all the districts in which the supported industries were being carried out. The Bill enables the President to take advantage of State agencies in obtaining a report as to the wages which should obtain in any district, and he also has that power under the Conciliation and Arbitration law, but apparently if the President paid a lower rate of wage’s than that prescribed by a Wages Board the claimant, by paying that rate, would lose his claim to the bounty. Apparently he must Pay the highest prescribed rate, whatever the authority may be.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 (Amendment of first schedule).
– I make a last appeal to the Minister to strike out the word “ exported “ applying to wool tops, so that the bounty may be obtained for all wool tops manufactured in Australia. Why should not the local mills have the advantage of the bounty?
– Their industry is protected.
– There is no duty on woollen yarn.
– Yes, a duty of 10 per cent.
– We cannot force the Minister, but I wish he would do something in this matter.
– The bounty is given on wool tops produced for export, and I cannot accept an amendment to make it available for all wool tops. The woollen manufacturers here are protected by the duties on finished goods.
.- I understand that most of the wool tops on which bounty is paid are exported to Japan, and I commend the Minister for his friendly attitude towards that great Power, but in view of the fact that the main advertised purpose in life of the Labour party is to secure the payment of high wages, it seems ridiculous that the money of Australian producers should be spent in giving employment in Japan to workmen- getting a shilling a clay or less. The object of Protection should be to secure the manufacturing of our raw materials within the country, and their exportation in a finished condition.Wool tops are required by the Australian makers of tweed, and the exportation of wool tops whose manufacture is assisted by the bounty, penalizes the makers of cloth. The public is taxed to provide dividends for a very successful company, and the productions of the company cannot be used by local manufacturers. Why should we say what is to be done with these wool tops? So long as they are manufactured in Australia, what does it matter to the Minister what becomes of them? Why should he be zealous to provide occupation for the sweated labour of Japan? Cheap wool tops might well be supplied to our own manufacturers.
– Locally-made wool tops are sold to the Marrickville mills.
– The greater part of the production is exported to Japan.
– The industry could not be kept going on the local demand, and without a bounty it could not compete with the cheap labour of other countries.
– We could give a bounty without compelling the exportation of the manufacture. If they must export, they will do so.
– The local manufacture of woollen goods is protected.
– The local manufacturer in primary industries does not get as much advantage from Protection as he would probably get from absolute Free Trade. The industries most protected are the slopclothing industries, which depend on the introduction of cheap raw material. These duties on clothing and other goods raise the cost of living. If the Minister were a Protectionist, about which there seems doubt now in some quarters, he would not object to the omission of the word “exported,” and would allow the manufacturer of tops to make what use he liked of the product of the work of his machine, and the girl or boy who looks after it.
– I do not think that the Bill would be within the order of leave if the amendment were made.
– The amendment would increase the burden on the taxpayer.
– The honorable member for South Sydney tells us that the manufacturers of wool tops have to export, and, therefore, will export whether this word is retained or not. I think it would be deplorable if the Minister allowed to go uncontradicted an insinuation that has been made that a certain company has issued a misleading prospectus. Nothing could do more damage commercially, and, although I object to the granting of a bounty on wool tops for export, I should be the last tosay a word against a company whose bona fides and good confidence I have not the slightest reason to doubt. Apparently the Minister is determined that Japanese labour shall reap the advantage of Australian savings and Australian taxation, and, therefore, I suppose we shall have to leave this matter to the public.
Clause agreed to.
Clause5 agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Motion (by Mr. Tudor) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– I desire to ask the Minister whether he will take into consideration, before this measure is dealt with by another place, the view expressed by honorable members opposite that, despite the fact that it is said by the honorable gentleman and his colleagues that the textile industries of Australia are already sufficiently protected-
– I did not say that. I said that they were protected. Let us say that they receive Tariff assistance.
– The Minister should consider whether our textile industries are not entitled to whatever benefit may accrue from this bounty. If they were enabled, as the result of it, to buy their wool tops cheaper than they are at present, their position would be improved. I suggest that the Minister should consider whether it is not desirable to omit the word ‘ ‘ export “ from the Bill when it goes to another place.
– I shall have the matter inquired into. The original Act, which was introduced by the honorable member’s leader, provided for the payment of the bounty only in respect of wool tops that were exported.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I should like, by leave, to move that the Bill be read a thirdtime.
– I object.
In Committee. (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message).
– I move -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to amend the Manufactures Encouragement Act 1 908.
The Act which it is proposed to amend relates, like that with which we have just been dealing, to some four items. The original Act, which was introduced in 1908 by the honorable member for Hume, provided for the payment of a bounty of 10 per cent. on -
Galvanized sheet or plate iron or steel (whether corrugated or not) made from Australian ore. and for a like bounty on -
Wire netting, not being prison-made and being made from Australian ore or from wire manufactured in the United Kingdom.
Those bounties expired on 30th June last, and it is now proposed to renew them for a further period of two years. The Act authorized a total payment of £30,000 in respect of these bounties, and of that amount £16,828 has been absorbed in respect of wire netting, whilst only £674 has been paid by way of bounty on galvanized iron. About 30th June last, those engaged in the manufacture of wire netting interviewed me on the subject of an extension of the bounty, which, under the original Act, they are not entitled to claim unless the wire netting manufactured by them is made either from Australian ore or from wire the produce of the United Kingdom. I’ think they have to pay about £1 per ton more for British wire than for that produced in Germany, and they desired to know what were the intentions of the Government in regard to the matter generally. After consideration, the Government decided, as was stated in the Governor-General’s Speech at the opening of this session, to bring forward this measure, as well as others providing for the payment of certain bounties. The bounty on wire netting has, so far, been paid to only one company, that of Lysaght Brothers Limited, who, for the financial year ending 30th June last, received £5,968. The wages received by the employes of that firm ranged from1s. 8d. per hour down to not less than1s. per hour in the case of adult males. A few youths receive less; but, broadly speaking, the position is that no adult male in the industry receives less than1s. per hour. Those engaged in the manufacture of wire netting state that they could not carry on without the bounty, inasmuch as they are not protected. The position of the manufacturers of galvanized iron is different, however, since there is a duty on imported galvanized or corrugated iron.
– What is the amount of duty?
– Speaking from memory, I think that it is £1 per ton on plate iron and 30s. per ton on corrugated iron. As I have said, £30,000 was made available in respect of these bounties over a period of five years, but, as a matter of fact, the Bill was not passed in time to enable them to be claimed in respect of more than four years’ operations. During that time, a total of £17,502 has been paid. The payments have been increasing every year, and the output for 1911-12 of wire netting was valued at £56,684. The Government are practically bound, so far as this measure is concerned, since they promised to introduce a Bill providing for the extension of these two bounties for a further period of two years; but it remains for Parliament to determine whether or not that promise shall be honoured. We certainly led the manufacturers of wire netting to believe that if they used only British wire in manufacturing wire netting, we would be prepared to propose a continuance of the bounty.
– Are the payments under this measure to be retrospective ?
– Yes ; the Bill will extend the bounties for a further period of two years as from 30th June last.
.- As one who has had a good deal to do with the use of wire netting, I desire to ask the Minister whether he is aware of the great increase in prices that has taken place within the last year or two?
– Surely that would not be clue to the payment of the bounty ?
– Having regard to the high prices ruling owing to the scarcity of wire netting, and to the fact that Lysaght Brothers Limited are working night and day, I do not think there can be any justification for extending the bounty. Three years ago we could obtain wire netting - that of the standard approved by the Stock Boards, namely, wire netting 42 inches high, 17 gauge, and1¼ mesh, for about £28 per ton. To-day it cannot be obtained for less than £37 per ton, whilst 42-inch wire netting, 1¼ mesh, 18 gauge - which, three years ago, could be purchased for £23 15s. per ton, is now being sold up to £30 a ton. I do not know that there has been any increase in the wages paid in the industry within the last three years.
– There has been.
– What are the manufacturers doing with the increased prices that they are obtaining? The high prices are a serious matter for the man on the land, who has to protect his property from rabbits, whether he is the holder of a small or a large area. To-day, those who wire net their holdings have to face a big obligation. The price of wire netting has become almost prohibitive.
– The payment of this bounty will not increase its price.
– I am aware of that. But there is no warrant for the payment of a bounty for the production of wire netting, seeing that at the prices which are being charged for it Messrs. Lysaght Brothers must be making a fortune. That firm are working night and day, and yet they cannot fulfil all their orders. The whole of Australia is becoming infested with rabbits, and all who are settled upon the land have either to wire net their holdings or be ruined.
.- It seems to me that proposals of this character point to the necessity of creating an Inter- State Commission or a Board of Trade to supply us with reliable informa tion. I agree with the concluding statement of the honorable member for North Sydney, but as to matters of detail, I do not feel justified in taking up an attitude because of the absence of necessary data. I know that it is almost impossible to get wire netting, and that the price of that article is a fabulous one.
– Since the bounty was granted wages in the industry have been nearly doubled.
– I can scarcely credit that statement. I know that the wages conditions are very good.
– And they were very bad.
– I think I am justified in urging upon the Minister the necessity for providing honorable members with some detailed information in regard to this matter.
– I have already supplied the information.
– We want to know more about the internal working of the industry. For instance, I should like to know the cost of its raw material. We require something in the nature of an audit of the affairs of the company by a reliable man. But at present we are being asked to vote in the dark.
.- I am sorry that the Minister did not supply us with information as to the number of persons who are employed in this industry.
– A report is furnished every year.
– I confess that I cannot find time to read everything. But I recollect that some pretty warm debates took place in 1906 and 1907, especially in respect of corrugated iron. At that time it wasstated that a man and a few boys could produce sufficient corrugated iron to supply the whole of the requirements of South Australia. A duty was imposed upon that article, and I believe that it is still operative. The evidence which was then forthcoming was to the effect that one machine could practically turn out sufficient corrugated iron to supply the requirements of a whole State. I think we ought to know whether the bounty upon galvanized iron has led to any substantial increase in the labour employed, and what are the labour conditions which obtain in the industry. The Bill must be retrospective in one sense, inasmuch as it is an amendment of the principal Act, which, so far as some of these bounties are concerned, expired on 30th June. Have any bounties been paid since that date?
– Not one.
– I was under the impression that bounties had been paid in connection with fruit. I know that applications for the payment of bounty have been made.
– Yes; and I turned them down.
– One man wrote to me asking why he had not received the bounty, and upon inquiry I found that the Act had expired. What is the position in regard to corrugated iron or wire netting which has been manufactured since 30th July ?
– The persons engaged in those industries are under a Wages Board.
– Prior to 30th June, the manufacturers in those industries were receiving bounties, and, consequently, they must have satisfied the Minister as to the rate of wages they were paying. If they have since carried on operations under conditions which are not in accordance with those laid down in the schedule to this Bill, it is too late for them to claim bounty in respect of them.
.- It is possible that the facts brought before the Committee by the honorable member for North Sydney are of a transient character. I have no desire to labour them. My feeling is that the particular portion of Australia which happens to be the most energetic portion - that which I have the honour to represent - generally gets “left” whenever bounties are flying about.
– This is all right !
– In one sense, it is. When we are asked to grant supplies, we have a right to know what has been the result of previous grants.
– A return is furnished each year as to the quantity of galvanized iron produced, and the total wages paid in the industry.
– What was the amount of bounty paid upon galvanized iron last year?
– It was £74 7s. 7d.
– How much was paid upon wire netting?
– Last year, £5,968. Since the initiation of the bounty system, £16,828 has been paid.
– Perhaps the Minister will explain why the price of wire netting has been increased by about £7 per ton? It is a misfortune that only one manufac turer of wire netting should be enjoying this bounty. I should like to know why the price of that commodity has advanced so rapidly. I do not think that the increase in the general price of metals has justified it.
– The price of metals has increased considerably.
– Owing to the way in which we do business in this House, it is very difficult to keep track of these matters
– This Bill has been on the business paper for months.
– Yes ; but it has not been proceeded with. As the honorable member for Macquarie pointed out, we are being asked to vote in the dark upon this matter. The Minister should regard himself as the helper of the Committee as well as the person who is responsible for the introduction of the Bill. I am sympathetically disposed towards this bounty, butI would suggest for the Minister’s consideration that in introducing any Bill, it is desirable that he should supply honorable members with all the information bearing upon it that is procurable.
– I think it advisable to give honorable members information, though not in detail, when the message is under consideration. The bounty paid in four years amounts to £16,828, and 318 persons are employed in the industry. The bounty is 10 per cent. on the product of the factory, and this product must be of Australian or English made wire.
– They make their own wire.
– I do not think there is any wire made in Australia.
– What is the cost of production ?
– I do not know, but it is certain that wages have increased very considerably since this bounty came into operation. When the Tariff was being considered, the honorable member for Cook opposed the duty on account of the wages and conditions observed in the factory, but the higher rates paid to-day are set forth in the return that has been distributed.
– How much bounty was paid last year?
– The amount was £5,968 9s. 5d., representing 10 per cent. on an output of £56,684. There is a duty on corrugated galvanized iron of 30s. per ton, general Tariff, and 20s. preferential Tariff, while, if galvanized, but not corrugated, or vice versâ, the duty is 20s. general and 10s. British.
– How much per cent. does that represent - 5 per cent. ?
– I cannot say offhand, but it is more than 5 per cent. Of the £17,502 paid as bounty, only £674 was on the making of galvanized sheet or plate iron.
– The bounty is paid on the value of the output?
– Then the higher the price charged the more bounty there is paid ?
– The Customs Department does not pay bounty on any figures that claimants choose to submit.
– How is the bounty estimated ?
– On the fair market value - practically the factory selling cost, and not the warehouse cost. Honorable members may rest assured that, while the Department takes trouble to get money in, it is equally careful about paying money out; in fact, the complaint is that we take too much trouble.
– The bounty ought to be so much per ton.
– I am not sure that a percentage basis is not the best.
.- It would seem that, after all, there is not such a great deal in the claim that these bountyfed industries pay wages much higher than was the case before this assistance was extended. The greater the cost of production and the higher the price of the article the larger the bounty paid. For instance, in the case of wire netting, on the Minister’s own figures, the bounty paid amounts to £16 per annum per man and boy employed, and this, I take it, would more than cover any increase in the wages, seeing that it represents 6s. 8d. per week.
– In some cases the increase of wages has been more than that, and I think the average is higher. No boy is paid less than £1 per week.
– The Minister’s statement was that the bounty had been swallowed up by the increase in the wages.
– And I think it has.
– Then the increase in the wages during last year must have been 6s. 8d. per man and boy per week, and I doubt whether it was anything like that. However, we will let that pass, because this is not only a wages question; it involves many considerations, including the overcoming of the insane prejudice against local manufacture. I am sympathetically inclined towards the bounty, and my object is to show the need on future occasions of the kind for a detailed statement or balancesheet.
– There seemsto be no reason to differentiate this bounty from any of the many others we are now paying ; and, since the policy has been introduced, in preference to Customs duties, why should this firm not have a “ look in “?
– In whose constituency is this firm’s factory?
– What does that matter? I believe the men who work in the factory live in the constituency of the Attorney-General. This is only another illustration of how inordinately prices have risen since this Government came into office. For two years and a half the present Ministry have been looking after the consumer, and, in the words of the honorable member for Hindmarsh, preventing the people from being “ plundered” in the shape of excessive prices and profits. It seems, however, as if this old obstinate world had agreed to give my honorable friends oppositea taste of its mighty power in repudiating and ignoring all their puny arbitrary efforts in this direction. If the bounty be doubled, are we to expect prices to be also doubled ? We are told that this commodity has gone up £9 per ton in the last year or two - since this bonus was granted.
– Surely the honorable member does not attribute the increase to the bonus ?
– I do not say to what the rise is due, but my honorable friends opposite ought to know the cause.
– I can tell the honorable member - the International Steel Trust.
– Is the International Steel Trust causing Lysaght’s wire-netting to go up in price?
– Yes, the firm has to pay an increased price for wire, as the honorable member would find out if he tried to import 100 tons from the Old Country.
– But I understand that Lysaght is paying £1 a ton more for wire in England than in other places.
– That is the difference between the German and the English price.
– There is a big trust in Germany.
– It is all one - the International Steel Trust.
– If it is the Steel Trust that is putting up the prices here, what are we going to do?
– Make our own.
– Lysaght makes his own now.
– He only weaves the wire.
– Then the honorable member means that the Government should make the wire?
– I do not care whomakes it, so long as it is made from Australian ore.
– We have been paying bounties for some time, with the object of encouraging the production of iron from our Australian ore; and I believe that there are bounties for the production of Australian wire. They have been operative for a long time. Is no Australian wire being made? It seems to me that the time has arrived when we should overhaul the bounty list to ascertain the effect of the bounties. So tremendously have rabbits and other pests increased throughout Australia that agriculturists and pastoralists can do little until they have gone to the enormous expense of fencing in their land with wire netting, and they are, therefore, interested in getting this netting at the lowest possible price. We were led to believe that the bounty would have the effect of reducing the price of netting, but the price has increased by £9 a mile.
– The imported article is the same price.
– No; its price is lower than Lysaght’s netting.
– Lysaght’s netting is worth £1 a ton morethan the other.
– Lysaght Limited is charging £1 a ton more for its netting, and, at the same time, getting a bounty of 10 per cent.
– The demand for netting is so great that the firm cannot make enough.
– The bounty is equal to about £3 a ton.
– That is not a big protection.
– Is this protection ?
– The giving of a bounty is a form of protection.
– I thought that the bounty was not to be passed on to the consumer.
– A bounty is not protection. It is given to encourage an industry.
– We should have a report concerning the operation of all the bounties.
– A report concerning this bounty was ordered to be printed on 4th October last, and has been circulated.
– I am glad to know that ; but there should be an annual report on the effect of all the bounties on the industries to which they apply. I understand that the employés in this industry are paid decent wages, and I am glad to know that that is so, but a bounty should be given only until an industry is able to stand on its own legs. I hope that there will soon be a reduction in the price of wire netting, and that before long other factories will come into existence, which will help to supply our requirements. I wish Australia to be us self-contained as possible, but we must avoid the evils which have manifested themselves in other countries as the result of building walls round industrial enterprises, which have sheltered monopoly and restriction. I am convinced that America will yet have to tackle the trusts by amending her Tariff. I hope that the industry now under consideration will flourish, and will soon be able to stand without asking for support in the form of bounties.
– It is a pity that we have not all the information needed to enable us to say whether this and other bounties are necessary. The present market price of wire netting is not due to a recent increase in wages, or to the moderate increase in the world’s price for metal, but to the enormous and unprecedented demand for wire netting. Lysaght Limited is one of the biggest and most popular firms at Home, because of the extent of its trade and the quality of its product. The demand for wire netting in Australia will be a very large one for a long time to come. Lysaght Limited commenced here in a very small way, and has now to work practically night and day, and nearly every wire netting firm in other parts of the world is working two and three shifts a day in the endeavour to meet the demand for wire netting. This has brought about a tremendous increase in price, but surely Lysaght Limited can now do without the bounty. There is no “ corner “ in this business, and probably the consumer pays less in distribution charges for wire netting than for anything else. In South Australia the Government imports wire netting, and so do two or three of the big stock firms, as well as the big hardware firms. What is needed is an expert Board to inform us, not only as to the operation of the Tariff, but also as to the operation of the bounties.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Mr. Tudor and Mr. Hughes do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented, and (on motion by Mr. Tudor) read a first time.
In Committee: (Consideration of Governor General’s message.)
– I move -
That it is expedient ‘that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to provide bounties on wood pulp and rock phosphate and rewards for the discovery of rock phosphate.
If we are to have at this stage a fairly full discussion, to be followed by another debate when the Bill is introduced, I do not know that it is advisable for me to do more than formally submit this motion.
– But this is an entirely new natter.
– There is no hurry. We are waiting for thf> electoral redistribution scheme for New South Wales to come back.
– As the honorable member for Darling Downs has said, this is an entirely new proposal. The Bounties Bill, which he had the honour to introduce some years ago, made no provision for bounties in respect of the subjects dealt with in the Bill covered by this message. It is proposed to set apart a sum of £75,000 for the payment of bounties and rewards extending over a period of five years. It was originally intended that the payments should date from the 1st July last, the belief being that the Bill would be introduced at an earlier date, but in the circumstances that point will have to be reconsidered. A bounty at the rate of 15 per cent, will be paid in respect of wood pulp, and also a bounty of 10 per cent, on the market value of rock phosphate.
– Is a reward to be offered for the discovery of rock phosphate ?
– Yes. South Australia some time ago offered a reward for such a discovery, but we have not, so far, found in Australia a rock phosphate to be compared with that obtained from Ocean Island. On three different occasions the Senate has passed a resolution urging that a reward should be given for the discovery of a deposit suitable for making phosphatic manures. The matter is of considerable importance to the farmers of Australia, because it is estimated that the discovery of a deposit of rock phosphate in payable quantities, would have the effect of decreasing the price of superphosphates. It would be absurd to offer a reward for such a discovery unless we provide at the same time for the payment of a bounty for its manufacture into a marketable commodity. We therefore provide that the bounty on rock phosphate shall be payable only where, amongst other conditions, the rock phosphate has been manufactured into marketable phosphatic manure in Australia.
– What reward is offered for the discovery of a deposit?
– We offer a reward of £1,000 to the discoverer of any deposit of rock phosphate suitable for making phosphatic manure.
– Does the Minister assume that such rock phosphate has not been found in Australia?
– The rock phosphate discovered in South Australia has not proved to be as good as was anticipated. ‘It has been found to contain certain minerals which largely destroy its value for phosphatic manure purposes.
– A great deal of it is used. Do the Government gauge the value of the discovery by the quality?
– Yes. As soon as this motion has been agreed to, I shall be glad to distribute the Bill, and I shall also be pleased to receive from the honorable member any information that will assist us in dealing with it. No State can now offer a bounty of this kind without the consent of the Federal Parliament, and, since we have prospectors travelling all over Australia, I think it well that we should offer a reward for such a discovery as that which we are now discussing. The Bill to which this message relates provides, also, for a bounty at the rate of 15 per cent, on the market value of wood pulp. The position is that in Australia we have not utilized to the best possible advantage our waste timbers, and particularly the waste wood from our timber mills.
– Does this bounty apply only to wood pulp made from soft woods?
– No; wood pulp can be made from even the hardest of timbers. It is held by some that the bounty we are offering will be absolutely useless as an incentive to the establishment of the industry, since wood pulp is free; but I think it well that we should make a start in this direction.
– Could bracken fern be used in the making of this pulp?
– I cannot say; but I shall have inquiries made.
– The bounty relates to wood pulp for the manufacture of paper.
– Quite so. We now import wood pulp in large quantities for the manufacture of paper in Australia. Last year we imported about £25,000 worth, and the local paper manufacturers state that they are placed at a disadvantage in having to obtain their raw material from oversea. Our imports of paper of all kinds amount to nearly £1,500,000 a year.
– Has the Minister considered the possibility of manufacturing pulp from the prickly pear?
– No; but such a possibility is worthy of the attention of inventors.
– Will the honorable member accept an amendment to provide for the payment of pulp produced from prickly pear?
– I can only say that I shall be pleased to consider the honorable member’s suggestion.
– I welcome this proposition, but cannot help commenting upon the extraordinary fact that our Tariff is so unscientifically arranged that, whilst we give Tariff Protection to an industry which we are seeking to establish, that industry has still to work against the natural protection of freights with regard to the introduction of its raw material. If manufacturers could obtain their raw material locally, their position would be so much the better. Tariff distances are different from geographical distances. For instance, the freight between Brisbane and Melbourne on pulp obtained from prickly pear might be much greater than the freight on wood pulp from Sweden to Australia.
– But if we made wood pulp in Queensland, we could start a paper mill there.
– These matters are all governed by a number of considerations in addition to the mere question of the supply of raw material. For instance, in considering the establishment of smelters like those used in connexion with the Broken Hill mines, one has to take into account the cost of the supply of coal, and the question of wages, as well as the carriage of the raw material.
– It is only a question of money.
– I do not think it desirable to discuss the general question at this juncture. I think it better that we should wait until the Bill has been circulated before we proceed to deal with the merits of the proposal. I should like to know what checks will be imposed upon these payable discoveries of phosphate? We know that phosphatic deposits absolutely abound in Australia. I believe that they outcrop almost everywhere. But the question which has to be determined in each instance is, Is the deposit a payable proposition? If we are going to spend £1,000 every time an unpayable deposit of phosphate is discovered the Commonwealth will soon be bankrupt. I suggest that the Bill must be safeguarded in the matter of the character of these deposits.
– I will see that that is done.
– I understand that the Minister has expressed a doubt as to whether a bounty of 15 per cent. on wood pulp and rock phosphate will be sufficient.
– I have not.
– It is very questionable whether it will be sufficient to lead to the establishment of an industry here. In my judgment, the difference between the wages paid in foreign countries and those paid in Australia amounts to more than 15 per cent. I have seen samples of writing paper made from blue-gum pulp which were very excellent indeed. There is no doubt that paper which could be used by newspapers can be manufactured in Australia. Indeed, it is manufactured here to a small extent now. But if we decide to grant a bounty to establish an industry in this connexion, it should be an adequate one. If the Minister will take the trouble to inquire into this matter he will find that a bounty of 15 per cent, will not provide a sufficient margin.
– There is not much difference between the price of the raw pulp and that of the manufactured paper.
– 1” think that the question of wages in a matter of this kind is an all-important one.
– Our biggest competitor is America.
– The honorable member does not argue in that way when proposals to levy duties upon agricultural implements are under consideration. I think that the Committee are unanimously in favour of establishing this industry in Australia. We have wood which is eminently suited to the manufacture of pulp. But I am informed by those who wish to embark upon the industry that a bounty of 15 per cent, will not be sufficient to enable them to obtain a fair start. If we determine to grant a bounty upon the production of wood pulp, it should be sufficiently large to compensate for the difference between the wages which are paid here and those which are paid in -foreign countries.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Mr. Tudor and Mr. ‘Hughes do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented, and (on motion by Mr. Tudor) read a first time.
Bill presented, and (on motion by Mr. Hughes) read a first time.
Sitting suspended from 6.25 to 8 p.m.
Bill presented, and (on motion by Mr. Fisher) read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill provides for a bounty on the manufacture of wood pulp and rock phosphate, and for rewards for the discovery of rock phosphate deposits. The sum of £75,000 is to be appropriated for a bounty extending over a’ period of five years, commencing on the 1 st January next. It was first intended that the Bill should come into operation as from the 1st July, 191 2, but it is now proposed that the bounty and rewards shall be made available from the beginning of next year. The clauses of the Bill and the schedules explain clearly the conditions on which the bounty and the rewards can be earned. The production and manufacture must be by white labour, and the wages and conditions of employment must not be below those prescribed by Commonwealth or State industrial authorities. The reward provided for the discovery of a phosphate deposit, during five years, is £1,000 for any deposit or vein suitable for making phosphatic manure, a product which is most desirable in the interests of the farming community. It is quite possible that a vein or deposit will be found within Australia.. At. present, I am told, the best rock prosphate has to be obtained from Ocean Island. In South Australia some rock phosphate has been discovered, but, as under the Constitution only the Commonwealth can give a reward of this kind, this measure is introduced. The Senate has three times, I think, carried a resolution in favour of such a reward, and that resolution on more than one occasion has been communicated to this House.
– It has to be a new discovery ?
– Yes. The Department has made careful inquiry, but, so far, have not succeeded in obtaining any reliable information as to the occurrence of any highquality rock phosphate in any part of Australia, though in South Australia some of an inferior quality has been found. There is no doubt that, if a large deposit were discovered, of a nature similar to that found at Ocean Island, it would prove of enormous advantage to the farming community. No doubt such a deposit would be worked, and the product would be made available in more localities than at present. I cannot lay my hand on the statistics just at present, but honorable members may see for themselves that large quantities of rock phosphate are imported every year to the extent of between 250,000 and 300,000 tons. Consideration has been given to the question of making the bounty payable on the percentage of phosphoric acid contained in the raw material, and that percentage could easily be ascertained by analysis. It was thought, however, that such a basis would prove cumbersone and difficult, and it was deemed preferable, as provided in the Bill, to offer a bounty of 10 per cent, on the Australian market value of the phosphatic rock mined in Australia, and locally manufactured into marketable mineral phosphatic manure, the bounty to be payable only on the minimum quantity of t 0,000 tons in respect of each distinct deposit. Unless rock phosphate is found in large quantities, it is practically useless. Small deposits have been found in some of the caves around the coast of Australia, but not such phosphate as comes from Ocean Island, though similar. To give a reward for any smaller discovery would probably he only to throw money away. No reward will be paid on what are practically two sections of the same deposit; and, therefore, it is provided that no discovery will be eligible that is within 25 miles of a deposit which has been worked, or on which the bounty has already been paid. At the present time the value of the rock phosphate imported last year was valued at £228,000, and this contains from 15 to 50 per cent. of phosphatic acid, or an average of about 30 per cent. The Mount Lyell Company imports rock phosphate from Ocean Island, and works it up with sulphuric acid, which they make at their works at Yarraville.
– Which nation owns Ocean Island?
– I do not know.
– One island was for sale a little while ago, and it is a pity we did not acquire it.
– It is stated that then: are islands on the north-west coast of Western Australia where rock phosphate is found, and I know that at one time there were some deposits on the mainland there. However, some very severe hurricanes beached or broke up the vessels, and, I believe, destroyed a great portion of the deposits. The imported rock phosphate from Ocean Island is mixed with other rock phosphate quarried at Kapunda, South Australia, but, owing to the presence of iron and alumina in the latter phosphates, the value is low compared with the Ocean Island phosphates, which are free from mineral contamination. Eight tons of imported rock have to be mixed with every ton of locally-produced rock, which shows that the local rock is not of that high quality found in the rock from Ocean Island. A regulation will be made providing that the bounty will be paid only on deposits of rock containing an average of net less than 25 per cent, of phosphoric acid. That is similar to the average percentage of the rock from Ocean Island, and it might be suggested that it should be made lower - that, as the Ocean Island rock goes down to 15 per cent., we ought to choose that figure. It must not be forgotten, however, that some of the Ocean Island phosphate goes up to 50 per cent, and, therefore, we think we are well within the mark in fixing the average at 25 per cent. Australia will greatly benefit if phosphate were found, for one of the chief needs of the soil for wheat culture, which is such an important industry in the Commonwealth, is superphosphates. We all realize that superphosphates have a veryimportant bearing on our harvests. At the present time, superphosphates are sold at £4 5s- to £5 per ton, and farmers do not use so much of it as they would if it were cheaper. If any considerable deposit be found-, and we are, by this measure, able to encourage its development, we shall be doing something for a class who complain that they have received little or no consideration from this Parliament. I believe that before superphosphates were generally used in Australia, the yield per acre was between 9 and 10 bushels of wheat, and that, with the use of phosphates, it has increased very materially. It is estimated that the yield would be very much greater still if superphosphates were made at a cheaper rate. As to the bounty on the manufacture of wood pulp for papermaking, we are fully aware of the enormous waste that has gone on throughout the forests of Australia. Even where the heavy part of the tree has been used, there has been waste of the branches, and even the sawdust, which, in other countries, are put to profitable use. The industry it is sought to assist is one worthy of special encouragement, owing to the immense quantities of timber in Australia which, under certain circumstances, could be used better for the manufacture of wood pulp than for any other economic purpose. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has asked whether it will be possible to extend the bounty so as to include wood pulp made from bracken fern ; but I have not been able to make inquiries as yet. I know that some time ago two men from South Australia claimed to have found some means, not of making paper, but of utilizing the grasstree profitably. They did not ask for a bounty.
– I think they were going to use it in connexion with the production of alcohol.
– It is proposed to use it for a great number of purposes. The honorable member for Darling Downs asked whether any assistance would be extended to those who produce pulp for papermaking from the prickly pear. I do not know that the order of leave would permit that; but I am sure that if it were possible, Parliament would be glad to vote money for a bounty for the encouragement of a process which would turn what is now a pest into a useful article of commerce. I do not know whether prickly-pear fibre could be held to be eligible for the bounty as wood pulp. We import between £20,000 and £25,000 worth of wood pulp, on which there is no duty, because it is the raw materia] of the paper manufacturer, who would require increased Protection had he to pay more for it.
– How does the freight on wood pulp compare with the freight on paper ?
– I do not know that there is much difference. Wood pulp comes out in bales from Sweden and the United States of America, and paper is imported in rolls - except, of course, the finer qualities - so that the wood pulp would pack more closely than the paper, although the latter might be the heavier. The freight would depend upon whether the charging was by weight or by measurement. Wood pulp is worth about £9 a ton on the wharf at Melbourne, and the wages that would be paid in Australia to those engaged in its manufacture would be twice or three times as high as those paid in Sweden. We have had inquiries from persons interested, some of whom say that a bounty of 15 per cent, will not be enough, but I do not think that we should give a higher bounty at the beginning. The only bounty which is fixed at a higher rate is that for the production of jute, and, as I stated earlier in the day, I believe that it was fixed at a high rate because jute is produced now wholly by lowpaid Asiatic labour. If we gave a higher rate than 15 per cent, for wood pulp, we should have to increase some of the other bounties. According to the latest figures, 64,000 men and over 10,000 women are employed in the United States of America in connexion with the manufacture of wood pulp and paper. The capital invested in the business is over ,£55,000,000. Between 1900 and 1905, £25,000,000 was in vested in it. We have an enormous quantity of the waste product from which wood pulp is made. At present, when a tree is cut down, the merchantable timber is taken away, and what remains is piled in heaps and burned.
– It is generally left to rot.
– If it can be made into wood pulp it will be a great gain to the community. The industry has been successful in Canada and in Newfoundland, as well as in the countries that I have named. I trust that these proposals will, when effect has been given to them, prove of great benefit to Australia.
Mr. GROOM (Darling Downs [8.23].- THe Minister is to be commended for these proposals.’ The great problem of the agriculturist to-day is how to increase production and to decrease the cost. In the United States of America they are devoting much attention to bringing more and more land under profitable cultivation. By the application of scientific methods and the use of fertilisers a great deal of poor land has been practically reclaimed. This is going on in Australia, too, notwithstanding our large areas of rich virgin soil. We shall do well if we can obtain supplies of manures within our own boundaries. During the first nine years of Federation our importation of fertilizers increased over 100 per cent., phosphates making the great bulk. According to Knibbs’ YearBook, No. 4, page 416, in Victoria, in 1901, 1 1, 439, farmers were using artificial manures, and in 1910 26,690, the quantity of artificial manure increasing from 23,535 tons in 1901-2 to 77,579 tons in 1909-10. In South Australia, in 1907-8, 1,573,000 acres were manured; in 1909-10, 2,031,832 acres; and in 1910-n, 2,217,404 acres, the quantities of artificial manure used being respectively 60,008 tons, 76,413 tons, and 81,899 tons. In Western Australia, in 1904-5, 205,923 acres were manured; and in 1908-9, 493,545 acres, the quantity of artificial manure used being 10,787 tons and 21,858 tons respectively.
– About 250,000 tons of manure are manufactured in Australia.
– In 1909, we imported 235,939 cwt. of superphosphates and 3,320 tons of rock phosphates^ but we are only in the beginning of our agricultural development. Closer settlement will mean a larger use of fertilizers, but will necessitate the giving of encouragement to the manu-* facture of manures. In other countries, the obtaining of supplies of manures is causing a good deal of anxiety, and the Minister is to be commended for trying to make Australia self-supporting in this matter. I am sorry that the Minister thinks that the order of leave will not allow provision to be made for a bounty on fibre from prickly pears.
– I am not sure about it, but I shall refer the matter to the AttorneyGeneral.
– If such provision is not made now, I hope it will be made at some future time. By converting the pricklypear pest into a profitable asset, we should be effecting two purposes at once.
– I have lived on prickly pears, and if they are not wood, I do not know what is.
– If the Attorney-General is satisfied that the Bill covers the payment of abounty on pulp produced from, amongst other things, prickly pears, I shall not make any further reference to that matter. The Minister has very properly alluded to the importance of utilizing in this way the by-products of our timber industry. In 1907 a conference of expert officers, representing New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia, met at Melbourne, and in a preliminary report dealt most emphatically with the importance of encouraging afforestation in Australia. That question would be worthy of attention, even if we had only in. view the provision of supplies of wood pulp for our paper manufacturers. The position has become greatly intensified since the report was presented. The prices of timber then prevailing have very seriously increased, and the supply of soft, as well as hard, woods throughout the world is becoming a pressing national problem. This measure raises the whole question of the preservation and conservation of the natural timber resources of the Commonwealth. The Government of the United States of America have had to take into very serious consideration the question of afforestation, and reports obtained by it two or three years ago from the United States Commission on the Conservation of Natural Resources showed that there was not in that country more than a thirty or forty years’ supply of timber. The people of Australia have never realized the value of the splendid asset they possess in the shape of our great forests. We have a variety of timbers suitable for every purpose, and a climate which enables us to grow many trees indigenous to other countries. It is to be hoped that one of the incidental effects of this measure will be to impress upon the people the importance of our timber industry. At the present time we are exporting sleepers in large quantities, although it may not be long before we shall have to consider the question of where we are to get the sleepers required in connexion with our own railways. Then, again, Australia is becoming more and more an exporting country, and we must have regard to the question of where we are going to get the casings necessary for the butter, fruit, and other goods that we send oversea. The report of the conference to which I have already referred states that -
The growing scarcity of soft woods is becoming a world-wide problem. In addition to the supply of timber for building purposes, the requirements of the export trade demand consideration. Australia is rapidly springing into prominence as an export country, and there can be no doubt that in the near future its shipment of food products to other parts of the world will assume large dimensions. The more produce there is sent away from Australia the greater will be the demand for packing material in which to encase the articles sent. Suitable wood for apple and cheese cases, for butter boxes, and for other purposes will be in demand in proportion to the strides which Australia’s export trade makes.
Reference is also made to the scope which Australia offers forre-planting. The report states -
Throughout many portions of the Commonwealth there is great scope for the successful planting of pines and other English and American timber trees. In West Australia, it has been found that the Pinus insignis thrives wonderfully well on the coast, and there are large stretches of land on the sea-board of that State which might advantageously be used for its cultivation. This tree, being a rapid grower, is fit to cut 25 years after planting.
Finally the Conference reported -
We are strongly impressed with the urgent necessity for effective action to conserve the timber resources of Australia, and to make provision for future requirements. We believe that much might be done by action on the part of State Governments adapted to the needs of their respective States.
Since that report was prepared, the States seem to have awakened to their responsibility in that regard. Queensland has appointed an excellent forestry officer, and is making some attempt to carry on systematic afforestation.
– And is very properly utilizing a great deal of its prison labour in that work.
– New South Wales is doing that, and Victoria and South Australia are also paying attention to the subject of forestry. The Minister’s proposal is such that if we should have thoroughout Australia a thorough, wellcontrolled forestry system to insure that the by-products of our forests might not be wasted. He is to be commended for his action in introducing this Bill, which I hope will serve to impress upon the people of Australia their responsibility to posterity in respect of afforestation. I hope that the Bill will realize the best anticipations of the Minister, and that there will be found in Australia suitable supplies of rock phosphate to assist in encouraging an enterprise which must become a valuable aid in the growth and development of the primary industries of the Commonwealth.
.- I congratulate the Ministry upon the particular form of bounty enterprise now proposed by them, and I wish especially to thank them for the evidence this Bill gives of their belief that the Government assistance of private enterprises is immensely superior to Government enterprise itself. The Bill proposes to grant a reward for the discovery of deposits of rock phosphate by individuals who have the energy and persistence to set out on their own account in search of such deposits. The Ministry evidently recognise that a sum of money spent on a Government expedition would necessarily prove unproductive, and, indeed, a failure. For this evidence of their real belief in the superiority of Government assistance to private enterprise over Government enterprise itself, I tender them my immediate thanks.
The remarks of the honorable member for Darling Downs regarding the necessity of preserving the timber resources of Australia were peculiarly timely. Every Government instrumentality in Australia to-day pays too little attention to the possibilities of industry that we have within our borders ; but as that question is so vast and complex, and is really an international one, I do not propose now to enter upon its discussion.
So many kind things have been said of this Bill that T think it well to call attention to one particularly wooden provision in it, which I would like to see turned to pulp. I refer to clause 6, which provides that -
The employment in the manufacture or production of the goods, of any aboriginal native of Australia nr of any coloured person born in Aus tralia, _ and having one white parent, shall not prejudice the claim for bounty in respect thereof.
I am a little puzzled when I read this clause to know what are the intentions of the Ministry. Do they seriously intend to encourage mixed marriages? Do they desire to encourage the marriage of aliens with the white Australian population? If they do not deliberately aim at the employment of half-castes in this industry, and are aiming only at conserving the rights of citizenship which birth in Australia gives, why should not this clause embrace every person who happens to have been bom in the Commonwealth? Why should the Government make it essential that the parents of the worker shall have committed what I regard as the racial offence of a mixed marriage between an Asiatic or African and one of European stock? I commend this provision to the earnest consideration of deep thinkers opposite, such as the honorable member for East Sydney; and I hope that some way will be evolved to get honorable members out of the false position in which the clause in its present form will undoubtedly place them.
As to wood pulp, I am inclined to agree with the Minister that the bounty would probably be held to cover the product of any vegetable substance, and in those circumstances would, of course, embrace the prickly pear. As the Leader of the Opposition points out to me, that is a rather prickly thing to embrace. I hope that, if there be any doubt on the question, this Bill will be amended in Committee to permit of the bounty being paid on the products of any such substance. In conclusion, 1 congratulate the Government 011 the introduction, of the measure, and I hope that the administration of it will be as satisfactory as the Bill itself leads us to hope it will be.
.- I congratulate the Government upon bringing forward this small measure to encourage the growth of a primary industry which will materially help some of our principal primary industries. All those who have watched the course of agriculture during the past few years must recognise that the use of artificial manures, coupled with the better cultivation of the soil, has resulted in an enormous increase in our agricultural products. It has been unfortunate that so far we have not been able to discover any rock phosphate in Australia which could be used, with advantage. This Bill may result in the opening up of some deposits upon which we can draw freely. In order to give honorable members an idea of the increased use of phosphatic manures in the Commonwealth, I propose to quote the following passage from Mr. Knibbs’ Y ear-Book -
A marked increase in the proportion of cropped land treated with manure is in evidence in all three of the States for which returns are available. Thus in Victoria the area of manured land represented in 1901-2 only i8 per cent, of the area under crop, as against 65! per cent, in 1 909- 10. Similarly, in South Australia the percentage increased from 69^ per cent, in 1907-8 to 80¼ per cent, in 1909-10, and in Western Australia from 64 per cent, in 1904-5 to 84$ per cent, in 1908-9.
That tremendous increase indicates the general recognition by our agriculturists of the value of these artificial manures. As a matter of fact, they are being more or less used in all classes of agriculture, viticulture, and horticulture, but more particularly in our great wheat-growing areas. Nevertheless, the quantity which is now being used represents only a small percentage of that which will be used as cultivation is pushed further out into the continent. We believe that Australia is destined to become one of the biggest wheatproducing countries in the world. Consequently, there is an opening for the use of enormous supplies of phosphatic manures, and it would therefore be of great advantage if we could discover large deposits of rock phosphate. The Minister mentioned during the course of his speech that most of the supplies of rock phosphate are now drawn from Ocean Island, an island situated some 600 or 700 miles north-east of the Solomon Islands, in somewhere about the same latitude as the north of Queensland. It would be to the advantage of Australia., probably, if the Minister would institute inquiries respecting the possibility of opening up further deposits of rock phosphate in some of the groups of islands of the Pacific. I believe that we have paid too little attention to those islands, oF which Australia must sooner or later become the guardian. In most of them, population is increasing, but, so far, the Empire has not realized their vast importance to Australia. It may be possible in the New Hebrides, and in other groups of islands in which we are interested, to discover large deposits of rock phosphate, which could be treated so that artificial fertilizers may be supplied to our farmers at the cheapest possible rate. Artificial manures are now used, so extensively that every 5s. per ton by which their price can be reduced to the agriculturists of this country must mean an enormous advantage to the Commonwealth. In a report by the Radio-Telegraphic Conference, which was held in Melbourne in 1909, when the honorable member for Bendigo was PostmasterGeneral, there is a description given of Ocean Island. That Conference described) it thus: -
About 700 miles to the north-east of theSolomon Islands, and almost under the equator, lies Banaba, or Ocean Island. Almost entirely composed of phosphate rock, it is leased by theCrown to the Pacific Phosphate Company, which exports from the island an increasing quantity of this fertilizing commodity. From Ocean Island alone in 1908, 220,000 tons were exported, and increased facilities for shipping, which are being provided by the company on Ocean Island and on the neighbouring Pleasant Island (Nauru), where they also control an almost equally large deposit of phosphate, will enable the company to . export about onetenthof the annual world’s supply of phosphate- (5,000,000 tons). Although Ocean Island is itself small (area, 1,500 acres), it attracts a surprising, amount of shipping, and exports phosphate to. all quarters of the world.
The report goes on to show how trade might be facilitated between that group of islands and Australia bv the establishment of wireless telegraph stations, and, incidentally, reference is made to closer shipping com munication between those islands and Australia. It would be to the interest of the Commonwealth if the Minister would ascertain whether it is not possible to open up further large phosphate deposits in that group of islands, or in other groups over which the Empire holds some sort of suzerainty. The question of granting a bounty upon the production of wood pulp,, which brings in the question of afforestation,, is one with which we cannot adequately deal in a Bill of this kind. The importance of it has been paramount for some time. The States, although they recognise the importance of re-afforestation throughout Australia, have not moved in that direction as quickly as they might have clone. The supplies of some of the finest of our timbers,, such as redgum and ironbark, are being depleted, so that any encouragement which we can give to the growth of those timbers in the Commonwealth will mean an advantage, not only to present, but to future, generations. We have merely to look at Germany, France, Switzerland, and Russia;* with their magnificent systems of reafforestation, which are conducted on thoroughly scientific botanic principles, to realize this. Under those systems enormous profits are earned foi the State. But, in my opinion, the immediate question with which we have to deal in this Bill is the granting of a bounty upon rock phosphate. If the payment of such a bounty will be the means of discovering phosphatic deposits of any extent, this Bill will be more than justified, and will pave the way to the further encouragement of an important industry.
.- A good deal of phosphate is already produced in South Australia. I have seen some contracts under which phosphatic manures are produced. I know that some land-owners have entered into contracts with the manufacturers of phosphate, and I think that the deposits are worked on a royalty system. As a matter of fact, the prospecting has been carried on without any encouragement from the Government at all. Works have been established at Port Adelaide-
– And at Wallaroo.
– There are establishments at both places for treating the rock phosphate. Contracts have been entered into between the owners of these establishments and land-owners, under which the former treat the rock phosphate, and acquire certain rights of prospecting for it. Upon the rock being obtained, a royalty is paid upon it in proportion to the amount of phosphoric acid that is produced as the result of treatment. So that really there is no occasion for the granting of a bounty for the mere discovery of rock phosphate, though it may be expedient to grant the bounty if phosphoric rock of a more merchantable character - that is, rock containing a high percentage of phosphate of lime, which, when treated, will yield a high percentage of phosphoric acid - is discovered in any part of the Commonwealth. It is stated that the imported article averages about 30 per cent. of phosphoric acid. The imported commodity, which the Minister said contains about 50 per cent. of phosphate of lime, yields, when reduced, about 25 per cent. of the material desired, namely, phosphoric acid. The Minister has in his mind a bounty on rock phosphate manufactured in the quantity prescribed, so as to give, according to the regulations - because it is not laid down in the Bill - 25 per cent. of phosphoric acid ; and I am sorry that he is not able to inform us as to the percentage of phosphoric acid found in the rock discovered and. worked in South Australia. It is said that the rock phosphate of Kapunda is not of the desired quality, and that may or may not be the case; but, as a matter of fact, and it is evidence of quality, I do not believe that the supply is anything like equal to the demand in the immediate district. The figures given as to the actual effect of phosphates on the land do not, in my opinion, adequately represent the position. It is stated that land which formerly yielded 8 or 9 bushels now yields 15 to 16 bushels ; but the fact is that land, which is now rendered productive by the use of phosphates and other artificial manures, did not previously yield more than 2 or 3 bushels to the acre. In the very district of Kapunda, ten or twelve years ago, land could be bought at £2 an acre ; but now, even allowing for the all-round increase in values, it cannot be had for less than £4 or £5 an acre, owing to the fact that it can be treated by phosphates.
– There is also the improved cultivation.
– Of course. By the use of phosphates land has been enhanced in value three or four fold; but the chief benefit is that land which was formerly regarded as poor has been rendered excellent in its productive capacity. I hope that the Minister will pursue his inquiries, and find out the value of the phosphates which are being produced in, apparently, the only district in which it is found in Australia, and which I happen to represent. As to the bounty, one must be particular to see that the right person gets it; and I am not so sure that the provisions in regard to the reward for discovery are as clear as those in regard to the bounty. That, however, is a matter that can be dealt with in Committee. There are two parties to be considered - the man who produces the rock phosphate, or allows others to produce it, and the manufacturer of the marketable product. We must see, when a bounty is granted on a marketable commodity, that the primary producer, who is the person we desire to assist, gets his due share. Very often the results are not what we anticipate, as the report of the Sugar Commission may suggest. I hope, also, that this Government, or whoever in the near or remote future may be on the Treasury bench, will also consider the associated, and much larger, policy of re-afforestation, in regard to which Germany affords an excellent model. There a policy has been successfully developed for over ninety years of planting whereever trees are destroyed or cut down. In this connexion British communities have been particularly careless ; and a Committee which inquired into the subject in the
United Kingdom some three or four years ago, made some recommendations, which Mr. Bryce referred to in a speech as of national and pressing importance, in regard to the gradual replacing of trees that are destroyed. If we are under any obligation to posterity - a matter about which the Minister of External Affairs seems rather disquieted - there is one here. I believe that in the United States of America much has been done in this connexion. Two or three years ago a report was presented to Congress on the question of the conservation of the national resources, and amongst the subjects treated were the improved navigation of connecting rivers and re-afforestation. The navigation of connecting rivers is a matter of vital importance, on which Australia may hear something in the next fortnight or three weeks. The South Australian Government have obtained from Captain Johnson, one of the chief engineers in the employ of the United States Government, a report on the best methods of locking rivers. This is in connexion with a proposal by the State Government to provide for the improvement of the River Murray from the mouth up to the Darling; and a Bill, I believe, was finally settled last week, and will be introduced next session. The report of Captain Johnson was, I think, laid onthe table of the State House of Parliament yesterday, and it may be helpful to us here. As to re-afforestation, the report presented to Congress was very illuminating; and on it criticisms have appeared in, amongst other periodical’s, the Annals of the American Academy, a year or so ago. I hope that a matter of this sort, which does not appeal to our direct and proximate interest, and is, therefore, the more likely to be neglected, will be taken in hand by the States and the Commonwealth in co-operation. It is a serious consideration that the granting of a. bounty on wood pulp may have the effect, perhaps, of furthering the gradual destruction of our forests, without replacement. I hope however, that the bounty will be productive, for, if it is, the benefits given to agriculture right through Australia will be perceptible. In my childhood I remember that, for a poor class of manure, Irish farmers, who were under pretty stiff rents, had to give from £4 to £5 a ton; indeed, they used to work from morning to night, and pay even as high as £13 10s. a ton for Peruvian guano. What has been done successfully in the Old Country under deterrent conditions ought to prove an immense stimulus to our agricultural development in Australia.
.- It is impossible to over-estimate the importanceof the subject-matter of this Bill. On general principles I prefer rewards for the discovery of natural resources to a bounty, because of the difficulty of insuring that the latter gets into the proper hands. I hope the Minister will be careful in his regulations to provide for a proper percentage of phosphoric acid. Before the use of artificial manures in South Australia, the agricultural industry was in a very poor way, but since the employment of superphosphates there has been, not merely an evolution, but, practically, a revolution, and during the last ten years the use of artificial manures has been quadrupled. The State Government of the day saw that it was important that every effort should be made to discover, if possible, rock phosphate within the State, and a reward was offered as under this Bill. In the Year-Book of South Australia, which has just been published, there is the following : -
The existence of mineral phosphates in South Australia has only been lately demonstrated. In order to stimulate the search for deposits of phosphate rock within the boundaries of the State, a reward for its discovery in workable quantity was offered by the Government. This bonus was successfully claimed for the Clinton discovery at the north-eastern end of Yorke Peninsula, and since then phosphate has been found in many other places. This rock is found almost invariably in connexion with the crystalline limestones and other rocks belonging to the Cambrian system. In some cases it appears in deposits apparently filling in cavities in the limestone, and in others it is partly interstratified with the soft argillaceous rocks which accompany the limestone. In all cases it occurs in segregated masses, boulders and nodules. Numerous deposits exist, and the occurrence of rock phosphate at intervals has been demonstrated for about 200 miles along the main range from Mount Magnificent in the south,to Bendelby in the north, the average of the highest and lowest analysis being 69 p.c. to 42 p.c. tricalsic prosphate. These deposits are already of economic value -
The Minister may be interested to know that already 49,000 tons has been marketed within the last ten years as the result of the reward offered by the State Government. At the same time these local mines are not able to compete successfully with the imported commodity. The writer in the Year- Book goes on to say -
They are not yet able, however, to successfully compete with the imported rock from Christmas and Ocean Islands, but we may with every confidence look forward to the time when they will be of the greatest importance and value, not only to the State of South Australia, but to the Commonwealth generally.
This information indicates that the Minister in offering a reward is moving on right lines. If the discovery in South Australia has resulted in producing nearly 50,000 tons of marketable phosphates, it is quite possible that this Billmay have similar results in other parts of Australia. If rock phosphate can be discovered in payable quantities, the deposit will be better than a gold mine to Australia. I hope that the Minister will be called on to pay, not only the reward for the discovery, but also the full amount of the bounty. The whole community must benefit by the providing of cheaper manures for the purposes of agriculture. As for the proposed bounty on wood pulp, the time is rapidly approaching when this National Parliament must consider the question of afforestation. A few weeks ago I addressed the Chamber of Manufactures in Adelaide on the conservation of natural resources, and information that I had obtained from all parts of the continent warranted me in then making the statement that only one-third of the timber that is felled in this country is used, the remaining two-thirds being wasted. The conservation of resources is of supreme importance in a country like Australia, and I congratulate the Minister on having taken the first step by encouraging the discovery of phosphatic rock and the manufacture of wood pulp. What has been possible in South Australia as the result of a small reward should encourage the National Parliament to do still more in the same direction.
– I join with the honorable member for Boothby in congratulating the Minister on the Bill, and indorse what he has said about the value of rock phosphate deposits. Were we fortunate enough to find an inexhaustible supply, it would be worth more to us than the best coal mine ever known. The proposed reward will stimulate prospecting, and, I hope, will lead to the discovery of deposits sufficiently large to remove the fear that many agriculturists harbour that the supplies of artificial manure are becoming exhausted or seriously diminished. At the same time, nothing should be done to prevent the importation of rock phosphates from Ocean Island, Christmas Island, and other places, because we shall need all we can get. It is not only the Australian farmer who has dis covered the value of this fertilizer, the application of which has, in South Australia, practically doubled the production of wheat within the last few years. We should look ahead, and protect what supplies we have. In this matter the United States of America are very wide awake. It is only a year or two since their Agricultural Department or Bureau sent one or two officers to South Australia to examine the land for supplies of manure which they could procure and ship to America. They could not discover large deposits of sufficiently high grade to be worth the cost of transport, and it is a fortunate thing that they were not able to lay their hands on a supply in Australia. I understand that the works of Wallaroo and Port Adelaide have to use rock containing at least 65 per cent. of phosphates, but no doubt when outside supplies shrink and become more expensive, and recourse has to be had to the local deposits, it will be found possible to work lower-grade rock. I hope that the Commonwealth and State Governments will look ahead, and secure what supplies there are for our own people, preserving them if necessary for future requirements.
.- I join with other honorable members in expressing the hope that large deposits of rock phosphate will be found in Australia. Land has been increased in value by£2 and £3 an acre through the use of phosphates. As to the proposed bounty for the production of wood pulp, I was struck when passing through Canada and the United States of America to see the manner in which timber is there converted into paper. There are very large mills at Ottawa. Apparently we have in Australia timber which is now wasted which could be similarly used. As a rule, I am not in favour of paying public money in bounties, but in this instance the Government are on the right track. No bounty can be obtained until the wood pulp has been produced.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
There shall be payable . . . the sum of Seventy-five thousand pounds commencing on the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and twelve.
Amendments (by Mr. Tudor) agreed to-
That the word “July” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “January,” and that the word “twelve” be left out, wilh a view to insert in lieu thereof the word i! thirteen.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 3 (Specification of bounties).
– Has the Minister considered the question of nitrates?
– They cannot be provided for under this measure.
– It is most important that attention should be given to the matter. I ask the Minister if he will have an inquiry made. I do not see that anything can be done this session.
– I shall have an inquiry made.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 (Conditions of bounties on wood pulp).
– Do I understand that the Minister will pay bounty on wood pulp made from prickly pear?
– If wood pulp can be so manufactured.
– If prickly pear can be made into pulp suitable for the manufacture of paper, it will come within the provisions of the measure.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 agreed to.
The employment, in the manufacture or production of the goods, of any aboriginal native of Australia, or of any coloured person born in Australia and having one white parent, shall not prejudice the claim to bounty in respect thereof.
.- I suggest that the words “and having one white parent “ be struck out. This provision is offensive to the right instincts of Europeans, and I think it is an absurd blemish on the Bill.
– There is a similar provision in the Sugar Bounties Act. A great number of aliens had been engaged in that industry, and a considerable number of children had been born with one white parent, who was generally on the female side. It was considered inadvisable to prohibit children having one white parent from engaging in work on the sugar plantations, and, in the same way, it was deemed undesirable, in this case, to prohibit the payment of the bounty to any per son employing such workers. We do not want to reduce the number of opportunities, for employment at the command of children having only one white parent. 1 do> not think the provision will have any ill effects.
.-* would point out that there is no analogy between this case and that arising under the Sugar Bounties Act. In the case referred to by the Minister, we were dealing with an industry in which a number of coloured persons had been engaged, but here we are starting an entirely new industry, and there will be no injustice involved in providing that the bounty shall be paid only in cases where white persons are employed.
– We have already dealt with that situation in clause 4.
– But this is an extension and modification of clause 4. It is proposed to include aboriginals and halfcastes. I do not know how far this provision will have effect. No doubt the Minister has in his mind the Northern Territory, in which there are a number of Chinese prospectors. I understand that these Chinese are largely employers of labour, and not labourers themselves. What T. want to know is whether, in the event of a Chinaman making a discovery under which the bounty could be claimed, he would be entitled to receive the bounty so long as he employed white men? I do not see any provision against such a thing.
– Would the honorable member prevent that?
– I am merely pointing out the anomaly of preventing a white man employing Chinese from claiming a bounty, and, at the same time, permitting a Chinaman employing white men to do so. All I desire now is that the Minister will look into the matter.
– I will do so.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 7 agreed to.
Clause 8 consequentially amended and agreed to.
Clauses 9 to n, and schedule, preamble,, and title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report, by leave, adopted.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s message) :
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After clause 5 insert the following new clause : - “ 5A. A ship shall be deemed to be engaged* in the coasting trade, within the meaning of this Act, if she takes on board passengers or cargo at any port in a State, or a Territory which is part of the Commonwealth, to be carried to, and landed or delivered at, any other port in the same State or Territory, or in any other State or other such Territory :
Provided that a ship shall not be deemed to be engaged in the coasting trade by reason of the fact that she carries -
Senate’s Message. - Amendment agreed to with the following amendment, viz. : - In paragraph (i), after “Territories” insert “and which is not transhipped to or from any ship trading exclusively in Australian waters which is not licensed under this Act.”
– This is an old friend that has come back to us again from the Senate. We sent 170 amendments on to the Senate, and only eleven have been returned. I propose to accept ten out of the eleven amendments, and I shall have some consequential amendments to make. The amendment to which I propose to disagree is in clause 287. In that clause the Senate propose to insert the following new paragraph -
I shall propose to strike out the words “ Members of the crew shall “ and insert the words “ Every seaman and apprentice shall, where no library for their special use is provided.” We think that this will be a better provision than the one proposed. I understand that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports proposes to move that the Senate’s amendment in clause 5a be disagreed with.
– I intend to move that the Senate’s amendment be disagreed with, and that amendments be made in the clause by leaving out the words “ which is part,” in the first paragraph, and inserting the words “under the authority”; by inserting the words “ in the same ship” after the word “lading” and adding the word “or” in paragraph b ; by adding, after paragraph
That the amendment of the Senate be disagreed to, and that the following consequential amendment be made in the amendment of the House of Representatives : - Line 5, omit “ which is part.”
Prior to the Bill going to the Senate an attempt was made in this House to alter the clause in several directions. A similar endeavour was made in the Senate. We had no desire to interfere with the coastal trade of Papua, but our object was to place the trade between Australia and Federal Territories on the same footing as our own coastal trade carried on by shipping companies licensed under the Act. In the case of ships coming from the East and calling, say, at Cairns or Brisbane, we contend that they should not be permitted to take in cargo there, come on to Sydney, and tranship such cargo into another vessel belonging to the same company so that it may be taken to ports outside Australia. We maintain that such trade is really coasting trade, and rightly belongs to shipping companies licensed under the Act. I find it difficult to understand the amendment made by the Senate.I should like the Attorney-General at a later stage to enlighten me. If the legal members of the House can give any meaning to it, it is more than I can do. The proviso to the clause, as amended, would read -
Provided that a ship shall not be deemed to be engaged in the coasting trade by reason of the fact that she carries -
Cargo consigned on a through bill of lading to or from a port beyond Australia and those Territories, and which is not transhipped to or from any ship trading exclusively in Australian waters which is not licensed under this Act. . . .
We are told that two negatives make an affirmative, but I have never yet heard what three negatives mean. Our desire is to prevent foreign ships engaging in our coasting trade unless they conform to Australian conditions. We say that if a vessel brings cargo from a port beyond Australia on a through bill of lading to Brisbane or Sydney, and then tranships that cargo into another bottom to send it to its destination, it must be held to be engaging in the coasting trade. We desire to stop that sort of thing, and the amendment made by the Senate had that object in view. As far as I can understand the position, however, the clause as amended will allow foreign ships to engage in our trade at their own sweet will, and an Australian ship that is not licensed under the Act will not be able to do that which a foreign ship may do. The amendment is not satisfactory, and I, as well as certain members of the Senate, believe that it will not give effect to the object that we have in view. I therefore propose to move that after the words “ bill of lading,” the words “ in the same ship” be inserted. That would make it clear that a foreign vessel would not be deemed to be trading in Australian waters as long as such cargo was’ not transhipped, but that if it were transferred, such a vessel would be deemed to be engaging in the coasting trade. Then, again, with a view of bringing the trade between Australia and Papua under the conditions imposed with regard to the coasting trade of Australia, I propose to move several amendments. The Bill at present provides that -
A ship shall be deemed to be engaged in the coasting trade within the meaning of this Act, if she takes on board passengers or cargo at any port in a State, or a Territory which is part of the Commonwealth. . . .
I understand that Papua is held not to be a part of the Commonwealth, and I therefore propose to move that the words “ which is part of,” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “under the authority of.” When I brought this matter before the House on a previous occasion, it was said that the clause if so amended would seriously interfere with the coasting trade of Papua - that under it the conditions required in respect of vessels engaged in the Australian coasting trade would have to be observed in respect of vessels trading along the Papuan coast. In order to overcome that difficulty, I propose, at the proper time, to move the addition of a new paragraph as follows -
That will make it clear that ships engaged only in the coasting trade of Papua will not have to conform to the conditions required in the case of vessels engaged in the Australian coasting trade. I also propose to move a further amendment under which Papua will be treated as a Territory under the authority of the Commonwealth, so that the shipping trade between it and Australia will have to conform to the conditions required in respect of the rest of the Australian coasting trade. In connexion with this matter, there has been something in the nature of a newspaper controversy between Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company and the Dutch Royal Packet Steam Navigation Company. I have no special concern for Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, who, like every one else, are out for the almighty dollar, and I wish it to be distinctly understood that I do not hold a brief for them. I do not desire that the change that I propose to make in respect of the trade between Australia and Papua shall be brought about immediately. I do not want to place the white residents of Papua in a prejudicial position, and if the clause be amended in the way that I desire, it may be brought into operation on a date to be fixed by proclamation. In other words, effect could be given to it when there is a better service between Australia and Papua than now exists. I do not think that I am asking too much of the Minister in urging him to consent to that proposal. Residents of Papua say that at present there is only a five or six weekly mail service between Australia and the Territory, that they have to- avail themselves of the facilities for reaching the mainland supplied by the Dutch and German steamers, and that it would be unfair to curtail those facilities. Up to that point I am in agreement with them, but as soon as a better service between Papua and Australia is provided there is no reason why the trade with Papua should not be carried on under the same conditions as apply to the Australian coasting trade. A petition has been presented from residents of Papua protesting against anything of the kind, complaining that they have no representation in this Parliament, and that they are, therefore, forced to pay taxation without representation. I do not wish to be too hard on them, but the true position is that they pay very little taxation. They make the Papuan native pay the greater part of the taxation that is imposed, and the Commonwealth gives them a substantial subsidy. Since we subsidize a mail service for their benefit, surely it is not too much to ask that the conditions that we require in respect of shipping on the Australian coast shall apply to the trade between the mainland and Papua, as long as we do not interfere with their own coasting trade. Letters have recently appeared in the newspapers from Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company and a gentleman named Werner, who, I understand, is secretary of Messrs. C. R. Baldwin Limited. Mr. Werner says that whilst Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company object to the competition of the Dutch steamers on the Papuan coast, the fact remains that they receive a subsidy, while the Dutch mail-boats do not. Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company have entered into a contract with the Commonwealth Government for the carriage of mails to and from Papua, and under that contract they have to observe certain conditions of labour and to pay certain rates of wages on their vessels. Another point is that they are not permitted to charge more than certain freights. Mr. Werner writes -
So far as the subsidized foreign companies are concerned, and upon which so much stress is laid, I would like to point out that, so far as the Royal Packet Steam Navigation Company (the principal competitor in Papua) is concerned, it receives no subsidy, and therefore that for this particular trade it has to compete with the subsidized service of Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company.
I wish it to be understood that I am putting up a fight, not for Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, but for those who have to go down to the sea in ships to earn their living, and many of whom reside in my constituency. This statement has also been communicated to me -
Mr. Werner, Secretary of C. R. Baldwin Ltd., who are the agents for the Dutch Company at Port Moresby, denies that any subsidy has been received, but we have all documents relating to same translated from the Dutch, and cable advices received from Hague to local press, 18th March and 28th of June last year, confirm. Probably the Dutch Company consider subsidy misnomer, as Bill passed is more an agreement for payment of loss sustained by competition of Australian line, and certain indemnifications to cover sinking fund, depreciation, interest, insurance, and other expenses up to £12,500 annually for ten years.
We are endeavouring to improve the conditions of Australian shipping, and yet we are encouraging, not only at our expense, but at the expense of the Empire, a foreign fleet between Papua and Australia to compete with our own shipping, in which Australian seamen receive better pay and better conditions.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the Dutch ships are constructed for mounting guns?
– I do not. But I know that Germany - and it is not very far from Germany to Holland - is building only convertible ships. Only yesterday, a question was asked of the Minister representing the Minister of Defence relating to the Japanese in the Pacific Islands trade. I submit that we have no more, right to ob ject to Japanese interference in that trade than we have to object to Dutch or German interference with it. Mr. Werner says -
The Royal Dutch Packet Company, practically speaking, pay wages amounting to £300 per month upon a steamer of a net register of 1,886 tons, which is much higher than what an English boat would pay.
I am not talking about English mail steamers, but about Australian mail steamers. The boat which carries our mails to Papua has a register -of only 1,080 tons, and yet it pays in wages £408 per month. So that Mr. Werner’s statements are not correct. I may also mention that Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company have just made a voluntary agreement with the Seaman’s Union of Australia to pay a rate of wages which satisfies the demands of that union. Members of the Opposition, therefore, must admit that that company are paying fair wages. I have no desire to be charged with delaying the progress of business, or with placing the Government in a false position.- But, seeing that we are endeavouring to improve the conditions which obtain in Australasian shipping circles from every stand-point, and seeing that we have supreme control over our coastal trade, I contend that it is our duty to do all that we can in the interests of that trade. If we insist upon the vessels which are engaged in that trade conforming to conditions to which other vessels do not conform, surely the former ought not to be placed at a disadvantage by reason of the competition of the latter. I do not ask that my proposal shall be brought into operation immediately.
– We could not do what the honorable member wishes in the manner suggested. His proposal in paragraph b is more far-reaching than the person who drafted it imagines. It absolutely involves the whole Bill. If a ship over-carried anything from Melbourne to Sydney it would have to be left in Sydney until she returned there. If a cargo were consigned from Bremen to Australia, via London, it could not be carried.
– That may be the difficulty .which has prompted the Senate’s amendment. I have no desire to interfere with over-carriage at all. All I wish to provide is that a foreign ship shall not be permitted to bring cargo from Cairns to Sydney, and at that port transfer it to another ship if the former vessel does not conform to the conditions imposed in respect of our coastal trade.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I am very glad that the honorable member has been afforded an opportunity to bring forward this matter, seeing that, as the result of some misapprehension, he was denied that opportunity when the Bill was before us previously. But I cannot accept his amendment, seeing that the persons engaged in the industry in Papua unanimously petitioned-
– That is not correct. I admit that a large number signed the petition.
– There was no petition presented from the other side.
– No. If the amendment were carried, it would considerably reduce the number of steamers which now call at Papua. The Dutch line and other lines of steamers would not call there. At the present time, the outward calls number fiftyone during the year, and under the honorable member’s proposal they would be reduced to nine. The inward calls - that is, calls by vessels coming from abroad - number thirty-one during the year, and these would also be reduced to nine.
– I have already said that I do not desire my proposal to be brought into operation at once.
– It would not be possible to do what the honorable member suggests in the form in which his amendment has been drafted. His proposal would give an absolute monopoly to one shipping company. I have consulted the AttorneyGeneral, who has taken as keen an interest in this Bill as he has exhibited in any measure which has come before the House. The amendment would not have the beneficial effect which the honorable member anticipates it would have. On the contrary, it would constitute one of the strongest reasons why the Imperial Government should hang up the Bill. The Home authorities would say that we have dealt with a matter with which the people in the Territory affected had no means of dealing themselves. They have no representation here; and the honorable member has been on the spot, and knows the conditions under which they labour. I cannot see how we can leave the trade open to allcomers until such time as there is another service. This Parliament is keenly interested in Papua; and if in the future it be proved that such an amendment would not throw the whole trade into the hands of one company,it would, I am sure, receive favorable consideration. The worst feature is that this shipping company is also a trading company, and it would be open to them to conveniently or accidently leave competing goods behind. When there is genuine competition will be the time to act.
.- If the Government desired to do anything to favour the local shipping industry, where the connexion or communication is so useful, the proper step would be to increase the subsidy to the existing company rather than impose a ban on others. I am afraid that the proposed amendment of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports would, if carried, render the clause absolutely senseless. The definition of “coasting trade” means practically that if a vessel takes on board passengers or cargo in Australia, and delivers it in Australia, it is in the coasting trade; but it is doubtful whether a vessel coming from abroad, and transhipping cargo to another vessels is within the definition. I do not think it is ; and the proviso is there to declare that such a vessel is not within the definition. As a matter of fact, it is not within the definition according to the decisions in maritime law, and, if the proviso were omitted, the clause would have the same effect. The case is similar when a vessel takes on cargo in Australia and transfers it to another vessel going abroad ; and the proviso is only there as a greater precaution. The amendment suggested declares that there must not only be a through bill of lading, but one vessel for the whole voyage - the very thing the proviso is intended to prevent. Not much harm would be done if the Senate’s amendment were struck out. The Senate seems to desire that in transhipping cargo, which comes under a through bill of lading, from, say, England, there must not be transhipment into avessel that is violating our roasting trade law - that is, a vessel trading exclusively in Australian waters, and not licensed under the Act. But a vessel cannot so trade unless it is licensed. If goods are taken on in a port in Queensland by an ocean-going vessel on a through bill of lading, for some port outside Australia, the clause says that it may be transhipped into another ocean-going vessel, say, in Sydney. In other words, it is not necessary under the clause as it stands to employ a vessel licensed under the coasting trade law to take goods from Townsville to Sydney, if they are to be sent on under a through bill of lading. This would be allowed by the simple definition, even if the proviso were not there; all the proviso does is to preserve the right, but it declares that there is to be no transhipment to a vessel trading exclusively in Australian waters which is not licensed. The amendment of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports would mean that if the goods were taken on in Germany, and then transhipped in some port in England for delivery in Australia, the vessel would come under the coastal trade provisions ; and this, of course, would be ridiculous. The honorable member does not intend that, but it shows the looseness of the drafting, which is wider than his purpose. What he has in his mind is that we ought to define, as within our coasting trade provisions, vessels which are not licensed, and which take on goods in a port in Australia to be transhipped to ocean-going vessels for a port outside Australia. All I can say is that that is not coasting trade as defined by English law ; and under the circumstances, I think that the Minister is right in accepting the Senate’s amendment, although the omission of that amendment would not, in my opinion, much affect the clause.
– I regret that the Government cannot see their way clear, not perhaps to accept the amendment of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, but to fall in with the spirit of it. The amendment as drafted may not do exactly what is desired, but in that case the Government might come to the assistance of the honorable member whomoved it. He and I merely ask that effect should be given to the spirit of the Bill. Why should an exception be made in regard to one branch of our coasting trade? I admit the force of the objection of the Minister, that if the proposal of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports were suddenly put into operation, it might injure the trade of Papua ; bub all we ask is that, at some time in the future, when the circumstances will permit, effect shall be given to this proposal by proclamation. I am not a champion of Burns, Philp, and Company. That firm may have its faults, and is, perhaps, trading in Papua ; but there is less difficulty between it and its employes than there is in connexion with any other Australian shipping firm, and no shipping company is as black as it is painted. A year or two hence it may not be the only company in the Papuan trade employing white crews and observing Australian conditions. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is not moving for the benefit of Burns, Philp, and Company. Directly that company has a rival in that trade, the chief objection of the Minister will fall to the ground. I admit that there is some difficulty, but most of the problems that we have to face are difficult. We have determined that the coasting trade of Australia shall be in the hands of Australians, a policy which we have borrowed from other countries, and which is bound to create some trouble. The memorandum from the British authorities, if it means anything, means that Australians should do their utmost to keep their coasting trade in their own hands ; for one reason, that they may have a nursery for the training of seamen, so that they may be able to play their part, if necessary, in preserving the Empire intact. It shows more statesmanship to overcome difficulties than to create them, and I strongly appeal to the Government to assist us in facing the present difficulty.
.- I have listened with great attention to the discussions originated by the proposal of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. To my mind, the character or method of trading of Burns, Philp, and Company, the Dutch Company, or any other firm, have nothing to do with the case. It has never been suggested that the character and operations of the local shipping companies should sway the Government from the main principle of the measure - the protection of local shipping. From the point of view of the white people in Papua, it will be immediately advantageous to retain the exemption now in the Bill. But if we look at the thing from the point of view of the principle of the Bill, we are faced at the outset with this consideration. Any Australian company making a port of Papua a terminal port is necessarily at a serious disadvantage in comparison with any company that makes a Papuan port a port of call between Sydney and the East. Because the company trading purely with Papua has to face the position that its ships will be almost empty one way. So that the competition which, in this case, the local company has to bear from outside is more intense than the competition that has to be borne by the average coasting steamer of Australia. But, apart altogether from the immediate issue, there is one consideration which I wish to place before honorable members, and which strikes me as being far more important than any advantage that may arise at this time from an exemption in this direction. There is a wellknown saying that “ trade follows the flag.” There is a thing which is still more true than that in the world to-day, namely, that the flag follows trade. We in Australia ought to be peculiarly careful as to how we encourage some foreign flags to come into these waters. That strikes me as the most important element in connexion with this matter. At present we have to deal with the Dutch company, which is not very important from the point of view I am putting. But which is the mercantile marine which is increasing with the greatest celerity, in proportion to ihe mercantile marine of other nations in the world today? Is it not the mercantile marine of Japan? Is it not a fact that one of the things which is giving most concern to earnest students in Australia is the fact that Japan’s mercantile marine is establishing new trading stations, and new centres, all over the middle Pacific? If we grant an exemption covering the Dutch Company, and we afterwards try to remove that exemption the moment a Japanese trading company commences to call at Papua, T think we shall be in a very difficult position with regard to our great northern neighbour. We ought to treat all nations alike. That is the basis of this Bill, as explained by the Attorney-General. We wish to put everybody on the same footing. The Attorney-General said that we will treat all nations, including the British Empire itself, on the same basis, provided they conform to Australian conditions. In this particular case, an exemption has been made. We are going to exempt Papua from the operation of the Bill. We are caring only about the immediate necessities of the Papuan residents, and those necessities, I submit, are served by this exemption.
– The Germans are competitors, too.
– The main consideration is the Dutch Company, whose service is of value to the Papuan residents at the present time. But, in my judgment, the immediate advantage which the Papuans are getting is infinitesimal from an Australian point of view, as contrasted with the great difficulties into which we are going to be placed in the future if we encourage some foreign flags into the part of the Pacific that is within our immediate sphere. I myself, as I have previously explained, am in, not a very difficult position, but a position of some perplexity, in this connexion. I am indirectly, though not directly, a shareholder in Burns, Philp, and Company. I stated so on a previous occasion when this matter was before, the House. For that reason, any matter which affects Burns, Philp, and Company cannot receive my vote. But I have placed before honorable members in the clearest possible way exactly how I see this thing. I admit that at the present time it is in the interest of Papua that we should make this exemption. But I say, with all the conviction that is in me, that, apart altogether from Burns, Philp, and Company, or any other company of to-day, the ultimate difficulties that are going to arise out of an exemption of this character are so great that this Committee should give the utmost consideration to the question.
– There has been a great change in the honorable member’s opinions, has there not ?
– I am expressing the same opinion now as I did the last time the subject was before us. In the position in which we are placed, we should do our very best to ‘maintain those peaceful relations which I think every person in Australia who is not qualified for a lunatic asylum desires to maintain between Japan and ourselves, and should endeavour to keep out elements of difference and difficulty. I think we shall be opening the door to those elements if we deliberately invite trade and expansion of influence on the part of our northern neighbour in our own territorial waters. The immediate issue does not concern me very much. It is the ultimate thing that ought to be looked to. For that reason I should be very glad if the Minister would give serious consideration to the matter from the point of view I have put. I have not studied the wording of the proposal. I am inclined to think the honorable member for Angas was correct with regard to that. I think that the amendment will achieve more than the honorable member who has moved it intends. But the Minister might take the subject into his consideration apart from anything which is immediately concerned with this Bill. He might keep under his constant observation the ultimate difficulty to which I have drawn attention. I do not care a brass button what may be done now; but in the name of common-sense do not let us throw our territorial waters open to the competition of the rapidly-increasing maritime strength of our northern neighbour, with whom we wish always to remain at peace, and with whom peace will be the more likely to be assured the less we are thrown into intimate competition with her.
.- The remarks of the honorable member who has just resumed his seat are extremely interesting, as giving a new view, so far as he is concerned, of foreign shipping in Australian waters. He does not appear to deny that, in the past, these ships have well served the interests of Australia. But his desire now, apparently, is to shut out the ships of a Dutch Company from trading between Papua and Australia. If he is to be logical - if we are to be alarmed about the appearance in these waters of a Dutch flag once or twice a year - if the supremacy of the Empire in these waters is to be menaced by the occasional visits of a Dutch ship - then why is he silent about the fleets of other foreigners, from which we receive almost weekly visits ? We have never heard a word ab§ut the German steamers which appear here far more frequently than do the vessels of the Dutch Company. The steamers belonging to the Norddeutcher-Lloyd, the Messageries Maritimes, and the Japanese mail line all continually trad.e here, and the last-named company works its ships with black labour. Yet not one solitary protest has been heard from the honorable member in regard to these ships, whilst we are told that it is most dangerous to permit this modest line of boats, which is serving an isolated community, to appear on our coast. I hope the honorable member will explain to his aristocratic constituents his desire to shut out all foreign ships from Australian waters.
– This is an extraordinary distortion of” what I have said.
– I have done with the position assumed by the honorable member. He is a Free Trader, yet wants to suppress trade.
– Does not the honorable member profess to be a White Australian?
– The honorable member cannot divert me from the point at issue. I leave him with the hope that he will explain his contradictory attitude to his constituents. The honorable member for Hindmarsh advocates the adoption of restrictive measures in order to en courage some prospective company which is to start in the sweet by-and-by. If we do anything of that kind we shall be acting quite contrary to the precedents, legislation, and practice of this House since I have been here. It is our duty to legislate for actualities and not for possibilities, and when the grand new company, forshadowed by the honorable member, comes into being it will be time to ask this Parliament to protect it. . I hope the Government will consider the position of the isolated settlers in Papua. I am one of those who journeyed to that Territory in order to ascertain the conditions prevailing there, and I had the honour of presenting a petition signed by practically every white man iri Papua protesting against any restriction being placed upon ships calling at their ports. Surely people isolated as they are, and cut off from all the conveniences of civilized life, are entitled to every consideration we can give them. Surely we are not going to add to the manifold difficulties which beset them in a hand-to-hand struggle with nature, and cut off their means of communication with Australia and other countries which are most valuable to them. If this were proposed to be done on behalf of a shipping enterprise of our own - a Government line of ships - it would be understandable; but the concern to which this amendment gives a monopoly, is a cormorant not. content with shipping profits. It is a huge trading concern. Give it a monopoly of the shipping and it would crush out every competitor it has in Papua, leaving the entire population at its mercy. It is known all over Papua as “ the octopus “ and while it had the trade in its own hands it dictated the most outrageous terms to the settlers. That firm have enormous stores at Port Moresby, Woodlark Island, and Samarai, and if there were no competition they would charge the settlers the exorbitant prices levied by them in the olden times. Hence the Government should do nothing to discourage shipping companies from calling at Papuan ports. If they do so they will throw the whole of the settlers into the hands of the monopoly. We have heard a good deal about the subsidies enjoyed by the Dutch Company, but they are trifling compared to those enjoyed by Burns, Philp, and Company, who are receiving from the Commonwealth huge subsidies in respect to mail services throughout the Pacific.
– We can revoke those subsidies.
– And we could also revoke any privileges we might extend to the Dutch Company or any other company. The fortunes of this Dutch Company are nothing to me, but I know what isolation means. Some few years spent in the far interior of Western Australia gave an experience which convinces me that it would be an outrageous injustice to inflict upon the Papuan settlers disabilities beyond those Nature has imposed on them.
.- It is not often that I can congratulate the honorable member for Wentworth.
– It is a curious combination.
– So is that between the Dutch Company and the White Australia policy. The honorable member for Wentworth has put the case very clearly and fairly. I do not hold any brief for the Dutch Company, the New Guinea Company, or Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, but the policy of the Labour party has been to maintain a White Australia. This year we are spending £50,000 in developing New Guinea, and we have sent out a party to search for oil, and now that the trade of the country is assuming profitable proportions the Dutch Company, who have not put in any pioneer work, and the German Company, are trying to take it away from Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company. So far from injuring the residents of Papua, we are assisting them in every possible way. We have erected a wireless telegraph station for the purpose of providing them with a ready means of communication with the Commonwealth, and I say that, having done so much to develop Papua, it is not unreasonable that we should desire to secure the trade of the Territory for the people of Australia. We have in Burns, Philp, and Company a shipping company registered in the Commonwealth, and compelled to carry white crews, and pay white men’s wages.
– And as the honorable member knows well they do all their work at Port Moresby with black labour.
– We do not object to them doing their work in Papua with Papuan labour. My point is that the vessels which they employ in the trade carry white crews in plying between Australia and Papua.
– For forty-eight hours.
– I do not know what the honorable member for Coolgardie is bar racking for. I know that there is a New Guinea company in opposition to Burns, Philp, and Company. They pay 10s. a month to the natives of Papua, and treat them, as far as I could learn, in an inhuman way. However, the point is that Papua is a Territory of the Commonwealth, and we have a right to see that the people who trade with us do so under fair conditions. The Territory is being rapidly developed. Plantations of rubber and sisal hemp and other such products of value to this country have been established, and yet we find honorable members advocating that the trade with the Territory should go to the Dutch and the Germans.
– The honorable member should live in Papua for a few years.
– I have lived there as long as the honorable member for Coolgardie has lived there.
– The honorable member never lived in an isolated community as I have done. He has never been away from a tram line.
– I think that the honorable member must have been reading Robinson Crusoe “lately. He has a lot of sympathy for the residents of Papua. Who are they ? The white men resident in Papua are mainly the agents and representatives of large companies. The honorable member mentioned one controlled by Sir Rupert Clarke. He is a nice man to stand up for.
– There are white men in. Papua who are not the agents of any company.
– The honorable member presented a petition to this House, signed by the white people of Papua, and we know the people who signed that petition.. They are only recruiters and agents of the people who wish to bleed the natives of the Territory. I shall vote for the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, and to maintain the White Australia policy, which I was returned to this House to support.
– I desire to speak a few words on behalf of white men and Australians who have no votes, and have not even the right of trial b)’ jury, but this is a defect in the law which, I understand, the Government will amend and give representation during the next session. I say that the best way in which to settle this matter is to ask the miners, settlers, and all good Australians resident in Papua to say what they would like to have done. I am informed by the Government that if the amendment be agreed to the number of calls made by ships at Papua during the year will be reduced from fifty-one to nine.
– I do not think that can be correct.
– That is the information supplied to me. If honorable members who support the amendment proposed that we should have our own ships to carry on the trade with Papua, I think that proposal would find a good deal of support.
– Subsidize another white company. That will do me.
– I am getting tired of subsidies. I speak with every respect of Burns, Philp, and Company. When I worked for the company I was treated like a man. Whenever the opportunity is afforded me I shall give them my meed of praise for their splendid work in connexion with the removal of the kanakas from Australia to their islands. When at Thursday Island I made many inquiries, and I found that no one there desired that Burns, Philp, and Company should have full control of this trade. I have had some correspondence with the firm, which was conducted in a friendly way. I was taken to task in connexion with statements made concerning the Dutch Company, which has been referred to. I quoted the words of Mr. Justice Higgins to the effect that the Dutch Company paid white men double the wages paid by any company trading on the Australian coast, not even excepting the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation, the Orient Steam Navigation, and the NordDeutscherLloyd Companies. In addition to paying these high wages, the Dutch Company permits a captain or chief engineer to retire at the age of 45 years on a pension of £500-
– What do they pay their seamen ?
– It would appear that we should level up the Australian wages to the Dutch standard.
– We should level up the wages paid to officers. We know that in the past shipping companies engaged in the Australian coasting trade frequently sweated the officers employed on their ships. I have to admit that the Malay and other coloured labourers employed on the Dutch Company do not receive half the wages paid to white men engaged in our coasting trade. I know that at one time Burns, Philp, and Company used to tranship their white crews at one port, and take on coloured crews for a portion of the round voyage. It was claimed that at that time the subsidy paid for the carrying on of the mail service in which the company was engaged did not permit of the employment of white crews for the round trip. I may inform honorable members that the Dutch Company, when their ships come on to Melbourne, enable their coloured men to attend a theatre free. They also make proper provision for the protection of those in their employ from the. two deadly diseases which are a disgrace to the . human race, and which neither Kings nor Governments have yet been able to control. Whenever a sailor is brought to Court, the word of the captain is always taken in preference to his. I shall vote for the Government because there is another power behind us at the present time which we ought* to recognise. I know that every member, in his loyalty to the Empire, would not willingly put the Home land in a difficult position. We know that the rates for cargo and passenger freights were considerably higher prior to there being competition ; but I hope some day to have the pleasure of voting for the running of our own ships, and when that is done the residents of Papua will have every privilege that the Commonwealth can give them. I have spoken on behalf of the white Australians in Papua, who have no right to vote at present and who should have some right to a voice in electing the men who represent them. At the same time I have full sympathy with those sailors in the north who have to work under unhealthy conditions in an unhealthy climate.
– I sympathize to the full with the desire of the Papuans to get as good a steamer service as possible, and I shall give my vote accordingly ; but the honorable member for Coolgardie might very well have left his bitter diatribe against Burns,. Philp, and Company out of this question. If he has done some pioneering in the back country-
– If you went into the back country you would die in a week.
– I do not know which of us would be dead first. All I want to say is this : Just as the honorable member has done pioneering, and just asthese people are doing pioneering in New Guinea, so Bums, Philp, and Company has done any amount of pioneering in the southern seas.
– And piled up hundreds of thousands of pounds in doing it.
– I have no doubt that it has, and, incidentally, it has done a great deal of good for Australia as a whole, as well as the Empire. I have no interest to serve. I merely speak as an onlooker, so far as they are concerned ; but it does not help our argument at all to launch these anathemas against a company that, in doing good for itself, has done good for other people as well. The honorable member for Coolgardie will, I am sure, recognise that, under present circumstances, Burns, Philp and Company appears to be the only shipping company in Australia that is not guaranteed a monopoly under this Bill. We are told, as regards the other shipping companies, that they constitute one huge monopoly, which controls, or will control under this Bill, the whole of the trade around the coast of Australia. If that is so, why should not Burns, Philp, and Company get a look-in into this kind of protection equally with the rest? Why is the huge combine taken in and Burns, Philp, and Company left out? That is a reason to be urged on the other side. It is stated that these Papuans have need of all the help we can give them in the shape of shipping services, and it is that aspect which, I confess, appeals to me. I have very grave doubts as to what attitude one ought to take in justice and fairness on this very important question; and the thing that pulls me over to maintain the present privileges for these people is the fact that they are in need of all the help they can get from any quarter whatever. At the same time, I recognise the great disability it is imposing on Burns, Philp, and Company as against the Shipping Combine; and while I shall vote to maintain all these services intact as they are now, I feel that Burns, Philp, and Company is relatively suffering a great disability under the proposed arrangement, as compared with the Shipping Combine which this Bill is going to make more of a combine and stronger as the years go by. It is one of the features we see when we come to deal with legislation of this kind, regulating ourselves into good conditions, and, incidentally regulating a combine into a better and more powerful position than it has ever occupied before. We make these problems, and then we say that they have to be solved. We are engaged in making that problem now.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the amendment (Mr. Mathews’ amendment) - put. The Committee divided -
Ayes … … … 27
Noes … … … 12
Majority … … 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment of amendment negatived.
– Does the honorable member for Melbourne Ports intend to proceed with the other amendments of which he gave notice?
– No, sir.
Senate’s amendment agreed to.
Senate’s amendments of clauses 38, 48, 99, and 139 agreed to.
Clause 196 -
Subject to the power of the Minister to extend the time for re-survey, every steam-ship more than five years old,reckoning from the date of her first registration, shall be surveyed once at least in every six months, and every other steam-ship once at least in every twelve months, by the prescribed surveyor.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit the clause, and insert the following new clause : - “ Sub ject to the power of the Minister to extend the time for re-survey, every steam-ship shall be surveyed once at least in every twelve months by the prescribed surveyor.”
Senate’s Message. - Amendment agreed to with the following consequential amendment in clause 208, viz. : - In line 4, after “(4)” insert “ in the case of steam-ships carrying not more than twelve passengers.”
Motion (by Mr. Tudor) proposed -
That the Senate’s amendment be agreed to.
.- I do not wish to delay the Minister, but I regret to have to differ from this amendment. The certificate of survey of the Board of Trade is to be sufficient as a dispensation from the survey. But in the case of steam-ships carrying not more than twelve passengers, the prescribed certificate may be accepted. That takes away Lloyd’s certificate, except in the case of the small vessels.
– I do not think so.
– Lloyd’s and the British Corporation certificates are effective certificates ; the Board of Trade does not bother about these matters. There are some other observations which might be made on a previous amendment, but the hour is late, and nothing can be done.
Motion agreed to.
Senate’s amendments of clauses 236, 252, and amendment inserting 271 a agreed to.
Clause 287- (1.) No foreign ship shall engage in the coasting trade unless she is licensed so to do.
Penalty (on master, owner, or agent) : Five hundred pounds.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Leave out all words of the clause after “ No “ in line x, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ ship shall engage in the coasting trade unless licensed to do so.
Penalty (on master, owner, or agent) : Five hundred pounds. (2.) Licences to ships to engage in the coasting trade shall be for such period, not exceeding three years, as is prescribed, and may be granted as prescribed. ‘ (3.) Every licence shall be issued subject to compliance on the part of the ship, her master, owner, and agent, during such time as she is engaged in the coasting trade, with the following conditions : -
Senate’s Message. - Amendment agreed to with the following amendment, viz. : -
At end of sub-clause (3.) add the following new paragraph : - ” (c) That in every ship registered in Australia or engaged in the coasting trade where a library is provided for the use of passengers members of the crew shall be entitled to obtain books therefrom under the same conditions as may regulate the issue of such books to the passengers.
Penalty (on owner) : Ten pounds.”
Motion (by Mr. Tudor) agreed to -
That in paragraph c the words “ members of the crew shall “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “ every seaman and apprentice shall - where no library for their special use is provided - “
Senate’s amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Senate’s amendments of clauses 349, 352, 421, and schedules 1 and 2 agreed to.
Resolutions reported; report adopted.
House adjourned at 11.26 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 December 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1912/19121211_reps_4_69/>.