5th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I lay on the table the minutes of evidence, with appendices, of the Royal Commission which investigated the conditions of the fruit industry. The document has been printed, and we have a sufficient number of copies to supply every honorable member who wants one.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. The Age, with its usual inaccuracy, reports that yesterday, referring to the honorable member for Barker, I said, “ It is all very well for the honorable member, who sits there like an old hen cackling.” I applied the words, not to the honorable member for Barker, but to the honorable member for Grampians.
– I have a personal explanation to make. Yesterday the Prime Minister stated that I promised to help the Norfolk Island Bill through the House, but had hung it up for four days. I am pleased that the Minister of External Affairs is present, because he is in a position to substantiate what I am about to say. He told me that he was very anxious to get the Bill through, and asked if I would help him to do so. I replied that I should be very pleased; that the members of the late Government supported the Bill; and that, while I could not speak for every member of the party, there would, so far as I knew, be no opposition to the measure. The second reading was moved by the Minister, and, at my request, the adjournment of the debate was then courteously granted. The debate was resumed later, on a Friday, in the absence of the Minister on public business.
– I submit that the honorable member is not entitled to make a personal explanation unless some one has said something about him that should not have been said, or he wishes to explain something he has said.
– The honorable member is entitled to make a personal explanation regarding something about which he has been misrepresented, and I understood that he rose for that purpose.
– When the debate on the second reading of the Bill was resumed, the Minister of Trade and Customs -was in charge of the House. I was the only speaker on this side, and spoke for only three minutes, when the second reading was agreed to. The House thereupon went into Committee, and within two ‘minutes had got to clause 10 of the Bill. Then a question was raised regarding the tenure under which Crown land should be disposed of, and at a quarter past 2 - immediately after the luncheon adjournment - the Prime Minister entered the Chamber, and, having said that he thought there had been a fair amount of discussion on the amendment that had been proposed, offered, if a vote were come to immediately, to grant pairs to all members of the Labour party who might be at Ballarat. I thought at the time that the offer was a fair one, but I was not in a position to accept it at once. I saw several, of our party, however, one or two of whom were about to speak, and was able to arrange with them that the vote should be taken as soon as possible after 3, and not later than half-past 3. Then I saw our Whip, and I told him to see the Government Whip, and tell him what we were willing to do. One of the Whips - I am not sure which, but both are now present - came to me about five minutes later, and said that, as the Prime Minister’s offer had not been accepted when made, it had been withdrawn, and that the honorable gentleman was not prepared to give pairs. I said that that seemed to be strange, but that it did not matter to me, and I told members of my party that the arrangement was “off.” About 4 o’clock the Prime Minister entered the Chamber again, and asked wheher we would go to a vote then. The cry on our side was, “ You would not accept the proposition we made, and all arrangements are therefore ‘off.’” Either the next Friday, or a fortnight later, the Minister of External Affairs again saw me - I think about 3 o’clock in the afternoon - and asked me to help him to get the Bill through. I promised to do what I could, saying that, so far as. I knew, only two members on - this side wished to speak on the amendment then before the Committee. They were the honorable members for Capricornia and Gwydir. I saw the honorable member for Capricornia, and he promised that he would not occupy more than five minutes. The honorable member for Gwydir was speaking, and I waited for an opportunity to inform him of what I had done. He was congratulating the Treasurer when the closure was moved, and his speech brought abruptly to an end. I then told the Minister of External Affairs that, under the circumstances, I could not ask the honorable member for Gwydir to refrain from making another speech if he wished to do so, and that I must leave the members of my party to do as they pleased. It is unfair to say that I blocked the passing of the measure for four days, when I did what I could to help the Ministry.
– As a personal explanation, I wish to say that no doubt the Minister of External Affairs will assent to the correctness of the statement just made, because the relations between the honorable member and his predecessor seem most touching. The honorable member for Barrier never rises without appealing-
– I understood the Prime Minister to say that he had a personal explanation to make.
– All I have to say is that the Bill in question was alleged to be a non-contentious measure, and that the honorable member for Barrier promised to give his assistance in getting it through. It should have been passed on the day on which it was introduced; but, as a matter of fact, three or four days were consumed in its consideration. The facts speak for themselves, and explanations like that which we have just listened to will not alter them.
– I ask the Prime Minister if it is too late in the session to introduce a short measure amending the Public Service Act so as to put the Service on a one-class basis. At present the Service is divided into three divisions, the Professional, Clerical, and General. Some of the ablest men are in the General division, and the system creates class snobbishness.
– The honorable member is giving information which he is not entitled to do when asking a question. He is not in order in making a speech.
– If all the public servants were in the same, class, then a man could be put into any position for which his ability fitted him. ‘
– The honorable member has made a speech. If he will ask a question, I shall be glad to answer it. I do not. quite know what information he desires.
– The usual bimonthly works schedule is considerably overdue. As the publication would be of great assistance to members when considering the Estimates, I ask the Honorary Minister if he can say when it is likely to be available to us.
– The schedule was sent to the Government Printer last week, but because of the press of work in the Printing Office, due to the early closing of this and the Victorian Parliament, he has not been able to get it printed with the usual expedition. The preparation of the schedule was a little delayed this month, because it was considered desirable to embody in it, for the benefit of honorable members, the latest information regarding the Capital. I hope that the publication will be available to members next week.
– Can the Treasurer inform the House when the report of the Auditor-General will be presented ?
– I should think, very soon. I shall make inquiries, and let honorable members know the result.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he can inform the House if it has been definitely decided by the British Government to call together the Imperial Conference in the early part of next year?
– It has not been decided yet.
– I ask the Honorary Minister if there is any truth in the rumour that the pay of the cleaners of Government offices is being reduced by 7d. a day, the reduction to take place from to-day?
– The Home Affairs Department does not control any cleaners beyond those who are employed for its own offices; but I am confident, knowing the attitude of my own Department, that the only justification for the rumour is the honorable member’s question.
– I wish to assure the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs that the rumour did not originate with me. Will the honorable gentleman inquire whether it is true that cleaners in the public Departments have had their wages reduced by 7d. per day, and that in some cases they have already been paid at the reduced rate? I direct my question to Ministers generally.
– I can only say that no reduction of the kind could take place without my knowledge, and that, therefore, no such reduction has taken place, or will take place, in the Department of Home Affairs. So far as my colleagues are concerned-
– I have heard nothing about it.
– I am satisfied that there is no justification in connexion with their Departments for the rumour to which the honorable member has referred.
– Will the Treasurer state whether the reports of the different Departments are yet available, and, if so, will he cause them to be distributed at once so that we shall not receive them, as has happened in a number of years, after we have discussed the Estimates?
– I do not know that the matter comes particularly under my Department, but I shall be glad to make inquiries and to have distributed such reports as are available.
– In view of a reply given by the Prime Minister to a question which the honorable member for Dalley asked recently in regard to Naval matters,
I wish to ask whether it is the intention of the Government not to answer correspondence from honorable members in reference to the Navy ? I represent a large section of the Naval Forces, and it would be very awkward for me if my correspondence in regard to the Navy were ignored by the Department. A letter that I wrote to the Department some five or six weeks ago has not yet received any reply.
– What is it the honorable member wants? Honorable members of the Opposition are making speeches, and not asking questions.
– In view of the further outbreak of small-pox in Sydney, I wish to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether it is his intention to protect the rest of Australia by reinstating the quarantine embargo ?
– The Postmaster- General will be in Sydney during the week-end, and I shall ask him to make inquiries.
– The statement laid on the table of the House yesterday, by the Postmaster-General, in regard to losses in connexion with the telephone branch of the Postal Department, merely deals with the revenue and expenditure of town and country exchanges. The bulk amount of interest owing is shown in a separate column, but there is no classification of the interest debt. In order that we may have a complete balancesheet showing, the actual loss in respect of the different classes of exchanges, I desire to ask the Postmaster-General whether he will have actual interest and depreciation charges debited to them?
– I presented to the House yesterday a tabulated statement dealing with the whole position in regard to the loss on the telephone service; and when the departmental balancesheet is issued - and I thought it would have been distributed this morning-
– So it has been. I have received my copy.
– Honorable members will find in that balance-sheet most of the information required by them. If any further information is desired I shall endeavour to secure it.
– I wish to ask the Postmaster-General whether it is not possible for his Department to take over the wireless station at King. Island, where there are a thousand people without any prompt means of communication with Tasmania or the mainland?
– The wireless station at King Island belongs to a private company. I have offered the company a subsidy of £150 per annum for three years, to pay the salary of an operator, and have expressed my willingness that the company should take all the receipts. That, I think, is a very fair offer.
– Is the Minister of External Affairs yet in a position to give the House any information as to the cost of certain motor trips in the Northern Territory?
– I can give the honorable member some figures, but I have not yet determined the actual cost of these trips. Taking the items, tyres - assuming they have all been used - petrol, carriage of petrol, fares from Darwin to Townsville, and travelling allowances to the Administrator, as well as to the Inspector of Mines, who accompanied him, I find that the cost is £489. What I yet wish to learn is what allowance has to be made in respect of depreciation of motor car, the expenses of horses, and fares to chauffeurs.
– Over what length of time did the trip extend ?
– I cannot say for the moment, but about 2,000 miles were covered.
Additions to Lord Kitchener’s Scheme
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The Minister proposes to submit a statement in a few days, which will give the information desired by the honorable member.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
When will the Customs launch be ready for service at the Outer Harbor and Semaphore Anchorage in South Australia?
– The Navy Office, which has charge of the construction, informs me that the launch will be ready by the end of February next.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon, notice -
The total cost to date of the Experimental Farm in the Northern Territory?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
To the 30th June last the expenditure on the two experimental farms at the Daly River and Batchelor was£19,111. Information is being obtained as to the amount expended since the date, and will be communicated later.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 27th November (vide page 3’586), of motion by Sir John Forrest -
That the first item in the Estimates, under Division i - The Parliament - namely, The President, £1,100 be agreed to.
.- When progress was reported last night I had just concluded my remarks in regard to the importation of engines. I desire now to refer to the claim repeatedly made by honorable ‘members opposite that they have always favoured industrial legislation, and particularly the establishment of Wages Boards. As one who is familiar with the history of the Wages Board system in this State, I want to point out that the Liberals have always opposed Wages Boards.
– The Labour party fought against their introduction in Tasmania.
– But for the action of Senator Long, a member of the Labour party, Tasmania would not have any Wages Boards to-day. Senator Long secured the appointment of a Commission whose inquiries showed that, in that State, wages as low as 2s. 6d. per week were being paid. It was in consequence of the disclosures made by that Commission that the Wages Board system was introduced there.
– The Labour party opposed it.
– No doubt there are, in this House, representaLives of Tasmania who will be able to reply to the honorable member’s statement. If members of the Labour party did oppose the introduction of the Wages Board system into Tasmania, their opposition could have been only with the object of securing Conciliation and Arbitration Courts. The employers favour the Wages Board system because they can sack the men representing the employes on these Boards, whereas they cannot sack a Judge. The Legslative Council of Victoria has always opposed the Wages Board system, and in that Council there have never been more than four members of the Labour party. Prior to the last State election there were only three Labour members in the Council, and now there are only four of our party there, and no one will suggest that they ever opposed the creation of a Wages Board. The established system was opposed by such men as Manifold - a relative of the honorable member for Corangamite - Melville, and others. It is well known also that the Employers’ Federation of Victoria employed -an organizer to go about the country preaching that marriage was a luxury for the worker, and denouncing Wages Boards.
– That is not correct.
- Mr. Walpole, at a meeting at Lilydale, held in opposition to the Factories Act and Wages Boards, said that marriage was a luxury for the workers.
– But the Employers Federation repudiated his statement.
– It continued to employ him for years after he had made that statement, and I believe that it is employing him to-day.
– He was still employed by them when I brought the question up here in 1904, long after he made the statement, and the Employers’ Federation were then opposed to Wages Boards. We need not go to them for an example, however. Let me take as an example a typical Liberal of to-day, a fair average sample of the Liberal party, Mr. Hugh Victor McKay, who stood for Ballarat at the last elections. In 1902, six years after the Shops and Factories Act was first introduced, there was an agitation in this State to abolish it, and a Royal Commission was appointed to consider the matter. I think its chairman was Mr. Kirton, the then member for Ballarat, and Mr. Wilkins, the then member for Collingwood, was also a member of it. Mr. McKay gave the following sworn evidence before that body : - 14371. By the Chairman. - What are you? - Machinery manufacturer. 14172. How many hands do you employ? - About 150, sometimes more. 14373. Are you under the Factories Act? - Not yet, but they talk of extending it to the iron and steel moulders. 14374. What do you think of it? - I think it is a very crude idea to have an Act that applies to an Australian manufacturer and not give any proper fiscal protection, and at the time that he has to compete with foreign manufacturers from all parts of the world who are not under any obligations to comply with .a Factories Act at all. 14376. Would you rather have it applied to the whole of your business? - I think under present conditions it should not be applied at all. 14406. By Mr. Wilkins. - I understand you are not in favour of the Shops and Factories Act? - I certainly cannot say I am in favour of a Wages Board. As far as the rest of the Act, it may be all right, but a Wages Board I am not in favour of, because I think it an e? periment, and, as it was very well put, I would rather not be experimented on. 144 14. By the Mon. G. Godfrey. - You see no necessity for your trade being dealt with under the Shops and Factories Act? - No.
That was on 13th February, 1902.
– I am quoting these facts because the Liberal party are claiming that they have always been in favour of this legislation. I claim that it was put on the statute-book in spite of them, in precisely the same way as the old-age pensions were passed in this Parliament. Mr. Deakin was told, “ You have to pass the old-age pensions or get,” and the Act was passed within twenty-four hours. The following is an extract from the Age of 7th October, 1904: -
It might be argued that Mr. McKay should have fa,len in with the stipulations of. the Wages Board, but on being seen by the Age representative to-day he pointed out that the provisions were far too reaching in their effect when applied to such a large industry as the Sunshine Harvester Works.
On the 8th November of the same year that gentleman wrote to the Minister asking that the determination of the Ironmoulders Board should not be applied to his factory at Ballarat, or, failing this, that the determination of the Board should not be extended to the Braybrook shire, in which he had a branch factory. The Minister replied that he could give no assurance that the determination would not be extended to Braybrook, but he promised that he would not submit a recommendation for such an extension until Mr. McKay had been afforded an opportunity of presenting his case to the Government. On 24th July, 1906, two years later, Mr. Scott-Bennett asked in Parliament why the determination of the Ironmoulders Wages Board had not been extended to Braybrook, Braybrook being the shire where the Sunshine Harvester Works were situated. The Chief Secretary replied that the discretionary power of the Governor in Council to apply the determination of the Ironmoulders Board to part of Braybrook had not been exercised in consequence of a petition signed by the employes of Mr. McKay having been received on the 11th October, 1904. The employes had not, so far as he was aware, withdrawn their opposition to the application. You, Mr. Chairman, know as well as I do, with your long experience on the Tariff Commission, how employes are often compelled to sign petitions or “ get,” just as these workmen had to sign a petition in opposition to this legislation I shall presently quote to the Committee some of the wages paid by Mr. McKay at the time that the Minister received that petition from his workmen. On the 8th August, 1906, a deputation representing the ironmoulders and agricultural implement trade waited on the Chief Secretary to bring under notice the fact that the harvester works at Sunshine were not working under the conditions as to wages which had been determined by the Wages Board. The Chief Secretary, in replying, said it was his intention to give notice in the House that afternoon to bring agricultural implement manufacturers under the Wages Board provisions of the Acts. When this matter first arose Mr. McKay had waited upon him to ask that the Act should not be extended to Braybrook. He had declined to accede to that request, but he had promised to allow Mr. McKay an opportunity of submitting his views before the extension was made. Personally he was in favour of the views that had been laid before him by the deputation.
– Why all this?
– The Attorney-General is open in his opposition to the workers, but other members of the Liberal party go about professing to be friendly to them. Mr. McKay has done so, and has tried to get their votes, endeavouring to persuade them that he has always been in favour of Wages Boards. I am now showing how, at every step, he protested against the Factories Act, and Wages Board determinations made under it, being applied to him. In the Victorian Government Gazette of 3rd October, 1906, it was notified that the Iron.moulders Wages Board determination had been extended to the railway riding of the shire of Braybrook. On 6th September, 1906, when we were discussing the increases in duty on harvester machinery the following letter, written by Mr. McKay to the Chief Secretary, was quoted, and appears in Hansard of that year, page 4126 -
I would respectfully request that something be promptly done to remove the embargo of Wages Board conditions from the implement and harvester business.
I further request that if this cannot be done at once you will give me an assurance that the Wages Board conditions will not come into operation at the factory in Braybrook.
That was written by this typical Liberal belonging to the party who now profess, not only to have introduced industrial legislation on behalf of the workers, but to have always been in favour of it. Mr. McKay uses the word “ embargo,” which we have heard so often in this House. It means a restriction, and to Mr. McKay the Wages Board determination was an unjustifiable restriction, because, if it was applied to him, he would not be allowed to sweat his men, as he had been able to do previously. Let me quote from the Age of this year on Mr. McKay. I candidly admit that if the Age was dealing with me, or even with the honorable member for Henty, or the honorable member for Echuca, it might not quote us fairly, but at the time this article was written it was backing Mr. McKay against Mr. McGrath for all it was worth, and would be most unlikely to put in Mr. McKay’s mouth words that were not absolutely accurate. Their special correspondent, Mr. L. V. Biggs, of 253 Collinsstreet, wrote on that occasion as follows, under the heading “ The Ballarat Seat,” “ Some Labour Flaws “ -
Much has also been made by Labour partisans of the fact that Mr. McKay moved from Ballarat to Sunshine to escape, it is alleged, the operations of a Wages Board. Mr. McKay’s reply is, “ When I moved my works from Ballarat the Wages Board applied precisely (he same to Sunshine as to Ballarat.”
– You know well enough that the Wages Board was not the cause of Mr. McKay’s removal of his factory from Ballarat.
– It was absolutely the cause. I have here the evidence given by Mr. McKay before the Tariff Commission, of which you, Mr. Chairman, were a member. Your cross-examination, as recorded at page 1612, proceeded as follows - 16499. Seeing ih at you are asking for practical prohibition for your manufactures, I presume that you are quite willing to give your workers equal conditions, generally speaking? - We certainly believe in paying high wages. I shall pay the highest wages given - I have always done so, and shall always do so.
– And this is the general Budget debate !
– Just as people have picked me out at different times for attack, I am now picking out Mr. McKay.
I have dealt with the general Budget debate at other times, and I propose now to deal with Mr. McKay’s professions that he has always favoured industrial legislation.
– Is this an attack on Mr. McKay, or an attack on the Liberal party ?
– I went to Ballarat and made a similar speech to this, and will do it again.
– Are we all to make our election speeches over again ?
– The honorable member can please himself as to what he does; I shall please myself as to what I do. The evidence goes on - 16500. You say that* you have always gel. on well with your work people? - That is so - splendidly 16501. Was there not some trouble some little time ago in connexion with the application of some decisions of a Wages Board to your workshops? - That trouble was not between my workmen and myself. Mv workmen supported me up to the hilt in that matter, because they knew the case as T knew it.
– How is that evidence that the Liberal party in Victoria opposed Wages Boards?
– I am showing that Mr McKay did so.
– Mr. McKay is not the Liberal party.
– He is a typical member of the Liberal party.
– Why, Mr. McKay has never been in the House.
– And I do not think he ever will be in the House.
-. - Why does the honorable member for Yarra not attack Mr. McKay outside, which is the proper place ?
– I have attacked Mr. McKay outside, and I shall do so again.
– We shall get along very much better if we do not have those interjections.
– The evidence proceeds - 16508. Do you think four improvers to one journeyman is a fair proportion in an industry of that kind? - All depends on the nature of the business.
Here we have Mr. McKay employing four improvers to one journeyman, and not one of these improvers, it must be remembered, had been taught his trade.
Another witness, named Weichardt, gave evidence regarding the wages paid by Mr. McKay, as follows: -
Now, coming to some of the wages paid. Let us go into the carpenter’s shop - -Tregeniza, 20s. week. Blacksmith’s shop - Lang, married man, with a family, 27s. 6d. week, on the drop hammer, putting lights out at night to make up; Kaufman, tinsmith’s labourer, ^1, wife and family to support; Campbell, man labourer, £1, wife and eight children to support; Shields, man labourer, £1 10s., wife; Owen, man, tinsmith’s labourer, 15s. ; Norman Teesdale, fitter, wife and child, 10s. per week. unci so on. In the Richmond Town Hall, when Mr. McKay was present - and this will show whether I have dealt with this gentleman outside - I said that unless he was prepared to take action against the man who gave that evidence - as ho had written a letter to the Argus a few days prior to the meeting on the lines of the previously quoted evidence - I should refuse to vote for any increase of duty for his industry without some guarantee of better treatment for his employes. Mr. McKay assured members of this House that there was some guarantee in our legislation that the workmen would receive more equitable wages; but, although he admitted that he was well able to pay the wages fixed by the Court, he promptly appealed to the High Court against the decision of Mr. Justice Higgins.
– How is it that the honorable member is getting so frightened about the Ballarat seat?
– I am not frightened; I merely wish to have these facts put on record.
– Why this personal attack on a candidate?
– I can assure the AttorneyGeneral that if it were himself, or any other honorable member opposite, who happened to sweat his men, I should attack him just as cheerfully.
– Were Mr. McGrath’s wages not also challenged ?
– If so, the honorable member can deal with the matter in his place.
– It is already well before the public.
– I am now dealing with the bogus claim of Mr. McKay to be in favour of industrial legislation and Wages Boards. I do not believe that there are half-a-dozen honorable members opposite - we need not count the [.i3i]-2
Liberal senators, who are very like the little drop of milk put in to make up. the measure - who would publicly declare themselves in favour of the extension of Wages Boards to all industries. When these Liberal members are in the metropolitan constituencies, or in large industrial centres, they profess to be in favour of industrial legislation ; but in the country they always suggest some modifications or amendments of such legislation - amendments very like that suggested by the devil, to remove the “nots” out of the Ten Commandments. You, Mr. Chairman, who were very assiduous at the sittings of the Tariff Commission, will further remember that, although Mr. McKay had an opportunity to again appear before that body and rebut this evidence regarding the wages paid, he never came. He did send on two foremen to represent him; but the evidence I have read is clear enough to give the lie direct to such men as McKay when they profess themselves to be in favour of industrial laws.
– Did not Mr. McKay’s schedule of wages, when produced in Court, prove to be the highest in the trade ?
– I do not know, but I doubt it ; at any rate, the wages paid by him were declared by Mr. Justice Higgins to be unreasonable.
– I was engaged in the case, and I know that the honorable member for Wimmera is wrong.
– The decision of Mr. Justice Higgins described the wages paii’. by Mr. McKay as unfair and unreasonable, and we must remember that Mr. McKay admitted that he was able to pay any wages that the Court might fix. I believe that it is an open boast of some persons connected with, this firm that the profits in any one year equal the whole of the wages paid. To that I take no exception, but I do object to such people professing themselves as favorable to industrial legislation. Mr. Bolt, a foreman employed by Mr. McKay, gave evidence before the Tariff Commission regarding the improvers who are paid less than the journeymen - 66662. Admitting that, would you say up to what ages they are employed? - They might be improvers up to twenty-one or twenty-two years of age.
Mr. McKay took no action against the witness who had put in a sworn declaration regarding the wages paid.
– Was that witness a dismissed employe ?
– He had, I believe, previously been a foreman for Mr. McKay, but I do not know whether he was dismissed; at any rate, some men cannot afford to tell the truth until after they have left their employ or been dismissed. Mr. McKay, with all his wealth, could have crushed this man, had there been any justice on his side. This is from Mr. Bolt’s evidence - 66704. We were also told by Mr. Weickhardt that Kaufman, a tinsmith’s labourer, with a wife and family to support, got £1 ? - I believe Mr. Weickhardt employed that man.
Mr. McKay got the foremen to employ these men as cheaply as they could, and then the foremen were afterwards blamed for the fact - 66705. Is it true that he got £1 per week? - I believe it is; but he was rated bv Mr. Weickhardt, and engaged bv Mr. Weickhardt. 66706. Mr. Weickhardt told us there was a man named Campbell, a labourer, with a wife and eight children to support, who got £1 ? - I do not know that man. 66707. He told us also there was a man named Shields, a labourer, with a wife, who got fi 10s. ?- T believe there was a labourer in the tinsmith’s shop engaged by Weickhardt at £1 10s. 66-0S. He also told us that a man named Owen got 15s. j is that true? - T do n”t rf” inber a man named Owen ever being in the shop. 66709. Norman Teesdale, wi:h a wife and child. got 10s. ? - The facts of that case are fiat one of our travellers. Mr. Holland, was in one of the farming districts, and he so’d a machine to a mon named Teesdale, on the understanding that Mr. McKay would take his son into the works for six months to give him experience He was not particular about the wages: if Mr. McKay would “ive him 10s. for th* time he was there, he would be satisfied. He had no experience, and hnd never been in a foundry in his life. He was there for about sit months, and after he left T heard rumours ‘hat he was married. That is how he .cot into the shop
That is how this rn FIn got into the. works, but there is no doubt that, although he was married, he was -paid 10s. per week. These are typical wages paid by a typical Liberal - a fair sarnie.
– They are not typical wages.
– How is this typical, if there is only one case.
– Does the honorable member for Yarra know of any other similar case?
– There were several men receiving 15s. a week.
– The honorable member mentioned one man who was.
– Does the honorable member for Yarra think this one instance will prove his case ?
– I think those wages supply us with the reason that Mr. McKay opposed Wages Boards; he desired at Braybrook to have the same right to sweat his employes as previously. No one will deny that the wages I have quoted are sweating wages - no one will defend this Liberal banner-bearer for Ballarat.
– He very nearly got elected.
– Of course, there are some people who, being sweaters themselves, will vote for a sweater.
– My experience is that the worst employers are Labour employers.
– I do not say that Mr. McKay is a fair average sample of the employers of Australia. He is a man who has done his utmost at all times to smash unionism and crush the workers - to grind them down as he was at one time able to do in Ballarat. This is why he was so anxious in 1906 that the Wages Board system should not be extended to that city. At the time Mr. McKay left Ballarat, only one section of the industry - the iron moulding - was under the operation of a Wages Board. Mr. Bolt goes on to say -
Gullock, a competent plumber, gets T5S., is that true? - That is untrue. He is not a competent plumber.
The wages he got were 15s. ? - He came there as an improver to the tinsmithing
Then here we have a sworn declaration given before the Tariff Commission by Mr. Weickhardt, who says-
A filter, on oath at the Police Court, Ballarat, stated his wages was 3s. per day.
A fitter in the highest skilled trade receiving such a wage ! That was the position in Ballarat, and that was the reason why Mr. McKay wrote to the Chief Secretary and said -
I would respectfully request that something be promptly done to remove the embargo of Wages Board conditions from the implement and harvester business. I further request that if this cannot be done at once you will give me an assurance that the Wages Board conditions will not come into operation at the factory in Braybrook.
Here is a man who professes to he in favour of industrial regulation.
– If you go to Braybrook, you will fmd that many men in his factory are receiving wages in excess of those fixed by the Wages Board.
– Probably ; but it is exactly the same with the American Beef Trust. I met Mr. Malcow, the representative of that trust, and asked him what about the wages to be paid in Australia. He said, “ We will pay labour better than any one else can, and we will get the very best men.” I guarantee that Mr. McKay does not pay a man more than he is worth. If a man is worth £1 a day, Mr. McKay will very likely pay him 12s. a day. Mr. McKay is not the only instance. I could pick out hundreds of men who to-day are professing on. the public platforms that they are in favour of the Wages Boards and the Wages Board conditions under the Victorian Act, just the same as in the case of Mr. McKay. I remember when our AttorneyGeneral was Premier of Victoria there was a sudden dissolution, and the whole of the Wages Boards lapsed. There was great rejoicing down at the Employers Federation when the Wages Boards were wiped out, though it was only for the time being, because the people of Victoria favoured Wages Boards. I believe some of my friends opposite are in favour of Wages Boards, as long as they do not apply to their own industries - they would rather try them on the other fellow. Certainly, when they go to districts where the people favour industrial legislation, they favour it.
– You should tell the whole truth. When that dissolution took place, I publicly stated that the first act of the new Parliament would be to reinstate the Wages Boards, and that, if employers did not in the meantime adhere to the conditions fixed by the Wages Boards that lapsed, Parliament would be asked to deal with them.
– I was going on to say that I believe the people of Australia - particularly in Victoria - are so much in favour of Wages Boards under the Factories Act
– I thought the Budget was before the Committee.
– So it is, and I am now dealing with .some of the statements of Liberals on the platform, namely, that they are in favour of industrial legislation; and I am taking one sample to show that this is not the case.
– Is that in the Budget ?
– These are just a few remarks by myself.
– I beg your pardon; I thought it might be in the Budget.
– No; I shall deal with the Budget if I have time, but I wish to deal with Liberal candidates. Apparently, some honorable members do not like their candidates being dealt, with. But, first, I wish to make myself rightwith the Attorney-General. I was saying that the people of . Australia, and particularly in Victoria, are so much in favour of the Factories Act that the measure was immediately reinstated as soon as Parliament met again. I believe that the majority of the employers of Victoria would not go back to the old conditions, where the most unscrupulous employer could take advantage of the fair employer.
– Do you not know that in the interim not one of those employers departed from the Wages Board conditions f
– Is that so? I was not aware of it.
– If the AttorneyGeneral was not here to correct you, what you have said would go out as a fact.
– What I have said is all fact. The honorable member for Gippsland is a nice judge of facts. He claimed at Rosedale, or Bairnsdale, that £3,000,000 had been spent by a Labour Government, and that we bought motor cars with it. The honorable gentleman was speaking from a motor car about “ contingencies,” and one of the ladies in the car said, “ Yes, that is where they got the motor cars,” and the honorable member said, “ Yes, probably from there.” What the Attorney-General has said is perfectly accurate, and what I say is accurate. I believe that the majority of employers would not go back to the old conditions, precisely the same as a majority of shopkeepers would not go back again to opening on Saturday afternoons.
– What is the object of all this?
– I am taking Mr. McKay as «i fair sample of Liberal candidates: but I hold that if he was in a metropolitan constituency, he would hold a different view in regard to Wages Boards. There are more artisans working under Wages Boards conditions in the metropolitan area than in any other part of Victoria, yet the Labour party gained seven , out of ten seats in that area, though the newspapers were against vis, and the workers who are under the Factories Act in Victoria are the very people who were anxious to secure an amendment of the Federal Constitution to allow the Federal Arbitration Court to deal with their industries.
– Many of us advocate the extension of, the Wages Board system to the country.
– To all industries? Are there half-a-dozen men on that side - I will not say - are there half-a-dozen righteous men to be found on that side - but I ask whether there are half-a-dozen honorable members on the other side who are prepared to say that they will advocate Wages Boards for all industries in every part of Australia. If there are, I have yet to learn of them.
– If you ask me, I
Bay that on every platform I have advocated Wages Boards -for rural industries.
– For all industries?
– Practically all.
– Then the honorable member stands out as a champion, but no other honorable member has replied that he is prepared to extend Wages Boards to all industries. The honorable member for Wannon is prepared to extend them to some.
– I have advocated the extension of Wages Boards to rural industries, and so has the honorable member for Corangamite.
– I am very glad to hear that.
– The only stipulation we make in regard to the extension of Wages Boards to rural industries is that they shall be dealt with by rural Wages Boards, and by people who understand rural conditions.
– I have no intention of dealing further with the application by Mr. McKay that he should not pay the wages fixed by the Board. I think it is a fitting time that I should move to re port progress, seeing that there is now no Minister in the chamber. Whether the honorable member speaking happens to have ability or not, it is rather peculiar that we should have no Minister in the Committee. I am glad that the Minister of Trade and Customs has now come in. I know his Department is difficult to manage, and that it is difficult for the Minister to get his work done in the time.
– I am afraid that it means night work as well as day work.
– The Minister has my sympathy. I know the work he has to do. I did it for a while, and did my best to keep it up to date. I was dealing with the application from Mr. McKay and others when they objected to pay Excise duty. In other words, they said they would not pay the wages fixed. They did not say that they could not afford to pay them, but they said they would not pay them. I shall not deal further with that, but when we get a claim of this nature from the other side, it is worth inquiring into. I have a circular that has been issued by the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures, and is signed by F. L. W. Ashby, secretary, in which he urges employers to pay to a fund to fight in the Appeal Court the decision of a Wages Board. They were not content to accept the Wages Board decision.
– That is not fighting against the principle of Wages Boards.
– They were fighting against the decision of a Wages Board, and were taking the matter to a Judge. I think it is the same Judge who admitted that he would not be prepared to say that he understood a case as well as practical men would understand it. This is what the circular says -
As this will necessitate the incurring of legal expenses, I have been directed to ask you to signify on th« form enclosed your willingness to defray a reasonable proportion of such expenses, which you will observe is limited to the amount of £i is.
The circular goes on to say -
If the labourers under the Boilermaker* Board are to receive os. per day, labourers in every other branch will demand the same.
Then in the postscript it says -
Re artisans. - When you have vacancies for any class of artisans, please ‘phone or let us know, as we are receiving regular shipments of firstclass men specially selected by Mr. Whitehead in England.
One would think they were a lot of cattle.
– The New South Wales Government sent Home a man to select immigrants.
– I am not complaining, but here we have the secretary of the Victorian Chamber of Manufacturers writing on an official form, asking employers to give donations for the purpose of defeating a Wages Board decision.
– But it is not fighting against the system or principle of Wages Boards.
Mi-. TUDOR. - Let me now take another typical man. On the 13th August of this year a deputation waited upon Sir Alexander Peacock, the State Minister for Labour. It was a deputation from the Independent Workers Industrial Council, an organization which, I understand, is under the wing of our friends opposite. Their secretary, Mr. J. T. Packer, stood as a Liberal candidate at the last Victorian elections. He is a recognised organizer, and he went to Wedderburn to speak on behalf of the Liberal party. Tho deputation asked Sir Alexander Peacock to consider the question of compulsorily extending the Wages Boards system to all trades and callings, excluding the rural workers. So here we have another Liberal typical man, an organizer of the party, and associated with a body brought into existence for the purpose of trying to divide the workers, who asked Sir Alexander Peacock to compulsorily extend the Wages Board to all other industries but the rural. A lot has been said about the last Government and their extension of Government employment. It was said that the amount of Government employment had been increased, and that this Government would bring about a reduction. According to the ninth report of the Public Service Commissioner, which was ordered to be printed on the 15th October last - I refer honorable members to page 48 - the number of “exempt” persons employed, as at 30th June last, was 14,614. I should have used the facts and figures that I am about to give when the Government Preference Prohibition Bill was before the House, had I had an opportunity to do so. It is only temporary and exempt employes who are affected by the Bill, and it was only for such employes that the decision of the last Government in regard to preference applied. Under the Public Service Act, a man cannot be in the temporary employ ment of the Government for longer than six months at a time, but extensions of service are permitted, subject to notification in the Government. Gazette. In addition to the temporary employe’s, there are the exempt employes. They are made up of such persons as office-cleaners, the mei employed by the Customs Department is Queensland supervising the sugar industry, the men employed by the PostmasterGeneral in making telephone tunnels, and others engaged on similar work. The number of exempt employes in 191® was 15,472, so that it decreased during the term of office of the last Government. As at 30th June last, the exempt employes of the Postmaster-General’s Department numbered, 10,655, and the amount paid to them within the twelve months averaged only £59 per head, which is a little more than .£1 per week per annum, had they been employed full time. The exempt employes im the Home Affairs Department numbered 3,595, and the amount paid to them averaged £77 each. The average amount paid to exempt employes in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in New South Wales was £60, and in Victoria £70.
– Do these employes “find” themselves?
– They are not all employed for the full space of a year. I am giving these averages merely to show that they are not men who were pitchforked into high salaried offices. I wish to make it clear that the Ministry, when introducing the Government Preference Prohibition Bill, was merely introducing a political placard; that we have only a bill-posting Ministry, a Ministry of political bill-stickers. The average amount received by exempt employes of the PostmasterGeneral in South Australia during the twelve months was £44.
– Apparently the pay was as bad as McKay’s, if these are the amounts received per annum.
– I am giving the average amount received by exempt employes within a period of twelve months.
– How many temporary employes were there as at the 30th June ?
– There were 1,437. The exempt employes and the temporary employes as at that date totalled 16,051.
– That is the number of persons to whom preference will apply.
– Yes ; but 14,614 of that number received, on the average, only i?66 within a year. They were paid so much a day; some of them being employed for the whole year, and others for shorter periods.
– They received the standard rate of wages while employed.
– - The vital thing to justify is the principle of preference, even though only one man may be affected.
– The time at my disposal does not permit of that now. Preference to unionists has been denounced by the press of Autralia, and the Melbourne Age and Argus have, day after day, declaimed against the last Ministry for giving preference. Let us see, however, what the proprietors of those journals do themselves. There is in Melbourne an Authorized Nsws Agents’ Association, and a Cash News Agents’ Association. The members of the latter Association must pay cash every week for the newspapers that they receive, and advertisements sent in by them must be accompanied by the money to pay for them, the members of the Authorized Agents’ Association, on the other hand, settling their accounts, I believe, at the end of each month.
– It is a close association.
– Yes. Trade unions have been denounced for charging membership fees of £5, or £10, but what has to be paid to become a member of the Authorized News Agents’ Association ? A news agency business was sold at Footscray a little time ago, of which the ordinary good-will and stock was not worth more than £200, but £2,000 was obtained for it because it carried with it membership of the Authorized News Agents’ Association, which is a close corporation, kept in existence by the Age and the Argus There are plenty of authorized agencies within a few miles of this House for which £1,000 and £1,500 would have to be paid. The proprietors of the Age and Argus agree to deliver newspapers to the authorized agents between 5 and 5.30 in the morning, and will not deliver them to the cash agents until a quarter to 7 and 7 o’clock. Close to the Richmond station, in Swan-street, there is an authorized agency which gets its papers a few minutes past 5, and in Wangaratta-street, less than 100 yards from the other agent, there is a cash news agency which cannot get its papers until a quarter to 7 or 7 o’clock.
– From the newspaper offices, or from the other agencies?
– From the newspaper offices, I understand. The man who starts to sell newspapers two hours later than his competitor has no chance at all. Then, again, this happens: If an authorized agent wants to get out of the business, and is willing to sell his agency for £1,000, the prospective purchaser cannot conclude the bargain without reference to the Age and Argus offices, although the proprietors of the newspapers had nothing to do with the building up of the business except by giving preference in the manner I have described. The proprietors of these journals, who object to the working man getting preference, maintain a preference system in order to keep the news agents under their control. They are thus hypocritical, and frauds, shams, and humbugs, so far as preference is concerned.
.- I have listened with attention to the speech of the honorable member for Yarra. It seemed to me mainly directed to serve the interests of the honorable member for Ballarat, being a sort of electioneering effort. The honorable member for Yarra has endeavoured to make out a strong case in regard to the opposition of the Liberal party to the establishment of Wages Boards; but the outstanding fact is that it was the Liberal party in Victoria that introduced the Wages Board system.
– They were compelled to do so.
– The system was introduced in Victoria when the Labour party was not a great power in the State Parliament. There can be no doubt, however, that Sir Alexander Peacock, in introducing his factories legislation, received much assistance from Mr. W. A. Trenwith, the leader of the Labour party in the State Legislative Assembly at that time, and a gentleman who has done more for Labour than has any other man in Victoria. I do not think it necessary, however, to discuss such a question at this stage. I have not risen to lecture any one, and have no desire to say anything offensive, but in reply to the honorable member for Yarra, who described honorable members on this side as a “lot of bill-stickers,”- 1 would say, more in sorrow than in anger, that the Opposition are a lot of gramophones. I rose to make two or three complaints which may be fitly brought before the Committee during the debate on the Budget. The first of these has reference to the provision of telephones. Even small works, in respect of which the Department would not be justified in calling, for tenders, cannot be promptly attended to. It appears to me that the Departmental staff which has to deal with these matters is not strong enough. People apply for telephones and get tired of waiting for their applications to be complied with. Many of them doubtless say, “ Well, if we cannot get these telephones before we become old and deaf we might as well do without them altogether,” and consequently they often withdraw their applications. I hope that the Department will strengthen the staff required for the erection of small telephone lines, in respect of which it would not be justifiable to call for tenders. Having examined the Estimates carefully, I have come to the conclusion that we are spending an enormous sum of money on the Northern Territory. Provision is made for a long list of officials, and it seems strange that so many should be required to administer the “affairs of a territory in which there is a population of not more than about 2,000. There does not appear to be any business doing there, and I fail to understand why so many officials should be necessary. At the same time, I thoroughly agree with the opinion expressed by the honorable member for Barrier last night, that the first step to be taken in order to develop the Territory is to extend the railway system there. If we do that I believe that private enterprise will speedily open up the country just as it has opened up other parts of Australia. I was told the other day that some of the officials in the Northern Territory started out on a motor trip and kept the car running until they had consumed all their petrol. They then waited until a fresh supply was brought along by a bullock team. That sort of thing will not do. Returning to the Postal Department, I desire to put before the Committee the view that the payment made in respect of allowance post offices is not sufficient, and I trust that the Minister will see his way clear to increase it.
– That has been one of the greatest problems that PostmastersGeneral have had to face.
– Perhaps so. These allowance postmasters and postmistresses provide their own buildings, and are tied down to their offices just as much as is a permanent official. Their hours are long, and they receive only a miserable pittance. The Department should recognise the good work done by them throughout the Commonwealth.
– Will the honorable member assist the Postmaster-General to get more money ?
– What about the charge of extravagance?
– Surely the honorable member would not say that it is extravagant to pay men and women a living wage.
– The honorable member for Franklin would.
– I am not complaining of extravagance. In reply to the honorable member for Hindmarsh I would say that I do not regard the spending of money as being in itself an indication of extravagance. What we have to see is that we get value for our money, and I maintain that we get more than value for the money we pay to those in charge of allowance post-offices.
– Many of them are doing pioneer work.
– Many of them are pioneers. Whilst dealing with the position of country officers, I would point out the position occupied by Electoral Registrars. We often complain that our rolls are in a bad state. Can we wonder that the Registrars neglect to keep them up to date, having regard to the miserable allowance which they receive? If we desire that our rolls shall be kept thoroughly up to date, then we must make a reasonable payment to those who are responsible for them. It should be possible for the Commonwealth to cooperate with the States in this matter. .
– We should have a uniform roll for Commonwealth and States.
– I agree with the honorable member. By means of such co-operation we would save money, whilst at the same time the Electoral Registrars could be paid a more reasonable allowance.
– We have that system in force in Tasmania.
– I think that it is a good one. The duplication of land tax valuers is another matter to which I desire to call attention. A number of valuers are employed by the States, whilst the Commonwealth has other men doing the same work in connexion with the Federal land tax. The Commonwealth should confer with the States, with a view to effecting a saving in this direction. The honorable member for Barrier said last night that we were not game to repeal the land tax. Let me tell him at once that I am game enough, but that, owing to the commitments ahead of us, we are, unfortunately, unable to repeal the tax. It would be financially impossible to do so.
– But the Liberal party could transfer the burden to the poor by imposing more duties.
– We would not do that. If the financial situation would permit of the tax being repealed, or at all events modified, I would certainly favour such a proposal; but for financial reasons at present we are unable to do anything of the kind. The honorable member made some reference also to the high cost of living. In my judgment, the Federal land tax has had something to do with the increase. It cannot be denied that it has had something to do with the increase in rents. When a business man renting premises in one of our large cities is called upon to pay an increased rental he passes on that increase to his customers by increasing the price of his commodities, and it is in this way that the Federal land tax has assisted to increase the cost of living. That is a fact which cannot be escaped. The honorable member for Oxley and the honorable member for Grey have predicted that the Beef Trust will give rise to great trouble in Australia in a very short time. I have some little interest in the raising of sheep, but have not yet heard of any injury that is likely to accrue to the people from the operations referred to. Having considered this matter, I have come to the conclusion that it would be impossible for any trust to obtain in Australia such a hold as the trusts have secured in America, seeing that our railway systems are owned by the States.
– How far is that fact going to affect the position ?
– The honorable member has a wide fund of wisdom and knowledge on which he is willing to draw at the shortest possible notice for the benefit of the House, and he surely knows that in America the railways are in the hands of the trusts. The position there that the trust owned railways will carry a man’s stock to market at a very low rate, but that if he is not prepared to accept the price there offered by the trusts they will charge three times as much to carry them back. As long as the railways are owned by the States we shall be able, I think, to prevent any trust obtaining a strong hold in Australia. Honorable members opposite sometimes hit us very hard, and in dealing with the trouble that is facing Australia in the matter of trusts, I would like to remind them that not long ago a proclamation was issued by one of their members - and with the consent and approval of a number of the Labour party - which was but a thinly veiled invitation to the rural workers of Australia to hold up harvesting operations throughout the Commonwealth if their demands were not accepted. Let honorable members realize what it would mean to hold up for one month the harvesting operations of Australia. If a few storms and hot winds came along, more damage would be done than could be done by all the beef trusts that are likely to interfere with us for the next twenty years, and yet these demands appeared to receive the approval of honorable members on the other side. In this morning’s paper I read that the workers are demanding 15s. a day. The honorable member for Maribyrnong last night interjected that if we were to co-operate as producers we should bo able to pay the rural log without any difficulty.
– Fifteen shillings a day is asked only by the stack-builders - the most expert agricultural workers of all. ‘
– The class of work was not specified. I am afraid the honorable member for Maribyrnong has not had much experience in the employment of rural workers. If he had, he would know that there is a limit to the wages the industry will stand. With the present price of rural products, it is impossible to pay as much as 15s. a day.
– The ordinary farm labourer asks for 8s. 4d. a day.
– That is for an eight hours’ day, and overtime has to be paid for at the rate of time and a-half. Honorable members oan see what that would mean.
– It is only a plaint; it has not been effectuated.
– At any rate, those are the wages that have been demanded; and one member from the Opposition side of the House has issued a proclamation containing thinly-veiled advice to the men to strike. The Labour party pretend to be very much concerned in the interests of the consumers of Australia; but if we were stuck up with our harvesting operations for a fortnight, and got a few storms and hot winds, we should not have enough grain left to feed our own people.
– Why not go to r.he Arbitration Court?
– We have not had sufficient time to get there.
– You have had two years.
– It is for the other side to take the case to the Arbitration Court, and they have not done so yet. We have no desire to go to the Court. Personally, I favour the Wages Board system for the rural industries. No one man, especially one having no knowledge of these tilings, can sit in the centre of Australia and fix wages and conditions for an industry for the whole continent. The honorable member for Yarra accused us of not favoring even Wages Boards, but on the hustings I proclaimed that I was in favour of them.
– Are you in favour of the Appeal Court over the Wages Beards?
– I have not gone into that question. It sounds as if it involved bringing lawyers into the matter, and I do not know that I should favour anything of that sort. There has been some talk of letting contracts for engines outside Australia, but it appears to me that the late Government, which decided to start, the east to west railway, made a mistake in not placing an order for a dozen engines straight away. They knew perfectly well that they would have to put a lot of men on the work who would be handicapped unless rolling-stock was available. I speak a little feelingly in this connexion, because they made the very same mistake in the case of the woollen mills at Geelong. They started bricklayers there by the hundred, without taking the precaution to be sure that they would have the steel girders for the roofing available at the time they would be required to be put on, and the result is that the present Government have had to dismiss a lot of the bricklayers. The walls are completed, but the roofing girders are not available yet, although some are coming along now. It might have been an oversight on the part of the late Government.
– No, they were going to borrow four engines from New South Wales, and they thought they would be able to get more. New engines do not run so well as do old engines on new rails.
– I do not say that the omission was intentional; in both cases it was simply an oversight, but I do complain of the Opposition when they make charges against this side of making mistakes which really should be laid at their own door.
– I recognise that the honorable member for Corio desires just as much as we do to deal fairly and honestly with all public questions, and I would ask him in all seriousness what motive we, on this side - putting it on the lowest ground that we represent the workers of the community, and no one else - could possibly have in creating confusion throughout the length and breadth of the agricultural areas of Australia, or bringing about/ chaos in our rural industries generally. Such a condition would be bound to react on the cities, for it is impossible for the secondary workers to be prosperous if matters are unsatisfactory amongst the primary producers. The cities of Australia suffer severely when there is a drought in the country districts. Representing, as I do, a big waterside and shipping district, and also a great portion of Hindmarsh, which is a big manufacturing centre, I have a very keen interest hi the welfare of the primary producers of South Australia, because I know how their troubles react upon my neighbours and friends in my electorate. I do not think the Wages Board system would be as good a system to apply to the agricultural industries as the Arbitration Court system. No. Judge, sitting as an Arbitration Court, will put wages up beyond the extent that the industry can stand. The President of the Court has never done it yet, and never will. Unless you assume that you are likely to have a madman on the Bench, it could not be supposed that any Arbitration Court would think of doing so. It is by no means impossible for any five honest men, representing both contracting parties, to sit down and settle a rate of wages fair to the worker and fair to the employer, but the reason why the Liberal party do not want this rural workers question settled is that, as long as they can keep the sore open, it is a very good means of hoodwinking the primary producers of Australia into voting for them. The ordinary farmer has no object in keeping the sore open, but the men who are running round and advising him have every motive for doing so, because they know that when the question is settled much better relations will be established between employer and employe, and a great deal of their occupation will be gone. The result of organizing the labour in the sugar industry in Queensland has been to raise the standard of the men applying for employment. That must always be the result of improved wages and conditions of labour. I often hear it said that the men who apply to farmers for employment are not a very good class of labour, but if their wages and general conditions are put on a fair basis a more reliable and steady class of men will be drawn into the industry. The honorable member for Corio, who is not a Collins-street farmer, but a practical man who has done well in Victoria, knows as well as I do that it is to the interest of every farmer in the Commonwealth to have good reliable labour. I am bold enough to prophesy that, when we are five years older, the best farmers of Australia will thank the Labour party for urging forward the question qf putting the wages and conditions of agricultural labourers on a sound footing. The farmers will realize, when the passion and party prejudice of the hour have passed away, that the improved class of labour will repay them for any little difficulties they may have experienced.
– Good labour commands a proper price to-day.
– That is the sort of clap-trap and humbug we read in the newspapers - the ordinary cant about every man being “ free.” Is a man free, when he has a wife and family to support, unless he belongs to an organization strong enough to enforce his claims? The honorable member ought to read a little modern history, for, at present, he is absolutely steeped in prejudice. This ia a question which ought not to be regarded from a political-partisan point of view. However, my desire is to deal with the Budget. We had expected from the present Government something in the nature of a surprise, as we were fully entitled to do, in the way of a Budget characterized by economy, especially in view of the great cry raised by the Liberals during the elections about the extravagance of the late Administration.
– Does the honorable member really think that we could investigate the expenditure of all the Departments in a couple of months?
– No, I do not; but the Prime Minister, with his twenty years’ experience of politics, must know that, as population increases, there is a tendency on the part of the expenditure to rise, and any Government, regardless of party, should have used their utmost efforts to keep it down. The question of extravagance is as alive to-day as it was at the time of the elections, but I suppose we are witnessing merely part of the game of the Conservative party. That party have no facts on which to rely, but they trust to hardihood of assertion and continual repetition to persuade the great masses of tha people.
– The honorable member seems to have a poor opinion of the masses of the people.
– That is not so; I can speak of the masses of the people with some experience. I have been ia the service of the public for twenty years* and I find them excellent masters. If the people are told the true position honestly and straightforwardly-
– And the honorable member’s side always tells them, of course.
– I am not talking about my side; but, as a matter of fact, we have nothing to conceal - we have nothing to do but to put the plain facts- before the public. On the other hand, honorable members opposite have to depend on vested interests for support. I do not wish it to be assumed that I am claiming that honorable members on this side are naturally superior to honorable members opposite; but we represent the masses of the people, and to those people we have to appeal. We have not even a press of any importance to help us, and deception in our case is worthless. Today, we find vested interests entrenched, and, as the party opposite are there to protect those interests, they have to do the best they can to deceive the people and throw dust in their eyes. I have no complaint to make about the presentation of the Budget. No doubt, the perusal of the Budget-papers and the Budget speech takes some time, but it is possible from them to get a thorough grip of the finances of the country. Although the Liberal party complained during the elections of extravagance on the part of their predecessors, the estimated expenditure for the forthcoming year exceeds the expenditure of last year by £4,135,285. There is not a very great deal in that fact, but we cannot forget their charges of extravagance. As the honorable member for Corio said, the spending of money is not necessarily extravagance; but here we have the Liberals charging the late Government with undue expenditure, and, at the same time, proposing to spend over £4,000,000 more. Further, there is a Loan Bill before Parliament, involving an expenditure of £3,080,000. The expenditure in 1912-13 was £23,111,462, and the estimated expenditure for the current year is £27,346,247. It is said that the proposed expenditure is the result of the policy of the late Government, and that it is inevitable. That may be true, but only so far as involves old-age pensions and the maternity grant. Honorable members opposite ought to have remembered these matters when they were making their reckless charges of extravagance. Of course, it was always open to the present Government, if they thought fit, to repeal the maternity grant.
– There is also the Defence expenditure.
– In regard to Defence, I am not quite sure. A short time ago, the Prime Minister, as I understood him, said that Lord Kitchener recom mended that the sons of widows should be exempt from service, and the question arises whether, in that and other respects,
Ave have kept rigidly within the recommendations. of that gentleman’s report, or have gone beyond them.
– We have gone beyond them.
– Then I question whether that is a very wise policy.
– In my Bill, as it went through the House, some discretion was left to the Minister, but my successor promptly took it out. I can tell the honorable member that we propose - and I am not quite sure that we are not straining the law - to exempt every boy who is the sole support of his mother.
– Whether the law is being strained or not, I am very gratified to hear that statement from the Prime Minister; I always have a weakness for people who are prepared to strain the law in the interests of justice and equity. I am not prepared to-day to condemn either the present or the late Government; but if the present Government believe that we should confine ourselves strictly to the scheme as laid down by Lord Kitchener, they would have been justified in reducing the Defence Estimates of their predecessors.
– We could not do that without a searching inquiry into the facts. ^ Mr. ARCHIBALD.- However, the Estimates are presented by the present Government, who must take the responsibility for them, or otherwise this House would lose its proper control over the finances. In my opinion, there is not that information in the Budget that the House and the country are entitled to. When the Budget was introduced last year, I asked that a novel practice should be adopted; and I had hoped that the present Treasurer would see his way to give us more information than hitherto. My remarks apply to all the Budgets that have been delivered here. What is the Budget? It is practically a balance-sheet of the affairs of the country, and the press distribute it throughout the Commonwealth and comment upon it according to whatever view they take. But to the average man it conveys very little information. Only experts, members of Parliament, and journalists who deal with financial matters, take any interest in it. Portions of it may be used for political purposes, but otherwise its only value is in its relation to the finances. I, therefore, ask honorable members opposite to assist me in getting the Treasurer to have attached to the next Budget-papers an appendix, showing the actual condition of the wealth of the country. During last year there was a tremendous amount of industry, trade, and employment in Australia. Whatever faults Australians may possess, they are a long way from being lazy. The Budget would be more popular if it contained a statement of the wealth earned during the previous year and the distribution of it. We should see that taxation is levied where it can be easily borne, and the information such as I suggest would be vastly important in considering the question of imposing taxation. Of course, it will be said that this has not been done before, but that is not a satisfactory answer. It is not the business of any private member to attempt to supply the information - it would be a difficult task that could be better undertaken by Ministers, who have in their offices any number of efficient and wellpaid officers, who could get the information for the benefit of the community - nevertheless I think there is one method by which we can arrive at an estimate of the wealth held in this country - that is, by taking the various estimates that come under review each year by probate officials. On the law of averages an estate changes hands every thirty years, so that thirty times the value of the estates of deceased persons in one year should give us the value of the estates of the living, and by taking periods of five years we can get at the increase of wealth. On page 824 of volume II. of our Year-Bock we find the following figures, showing the value of the estates on which probate was granted during one period of five years. These are as follows : -
These total £86,000,000. Dividing this total by five, we arrive at the average of £17,000,000 for the five years. But it is well known that plate, pictures, works of art, and articles of that character always escape coming under review by the probate authorities. I, therefore, make an allowance of £4,000,000 to cover these articles. Adding this to the £17,000,000, we arrive at an average of £21,000,000, representing the value of estates coming under the attention of probate officials in the Commonwealth. Multiplying that average by thirty, we have £630,000,000 as the wealth of Australia five years ago. On page 840 of the latest Year-Book we have the following figures, representing the value of the estates of deceased persons : -
These give a total of £112,000,000, or an average of £22,000,000. Adding £4,000,000 in the same way we have £26,000,000, representing the average. This multiplied .by thirty gives us £780,000,000, representing the wealth of Australia, and showing an increase in five years of £150,000,000.
– That was during the three years of Labour Government.
– It only shows that when we get into statistics and get away from political humbug and trash, we can show the actual financial condition of the country. Budget-papers are not as easy to read as a novel. The figures are dry; so are mine, but they are interesting, and I maintain that we should have attached to the Budget-papers a statement similar to that I have given. It would be more interesting to the general public.
– Your figures refer to the private wealth only.
– Yes; I am not talking about railways and such like things. The question generally asked by public men is as to the condition of the people and their prosperity. They ask, “Are the people prosperous?” We can see from the Budget issued by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of Great Britain where the wealth of Great Britain goes. We can arrive at that from the income tax returns, but our State income tax returns are not of much value in this direction. However, let us see if they do throw any light on the matter. If my figures are not reliable, it is not my fault; it is the fault of the well-paid officers in the country, State and Federal. They should be able to give the correct figures, and I maintain that the Treasurer and the Ministry of the day should direct their attention to giving us an exact statement of the wealth of the country.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– I have expressed the opinion that it would be of great assistance to honorable members and to the country to have, in an appendix to the Budget, information regarding the wealth actually earned by the community in the current financial year. If we had that information, it would enable us to judge as to the distribution of this wealth. I refer, of course, to the private wealth of the country. At page 828 of volume II. of the Commonwealth Y ear-Book it is stated that the wealth coming under the review of the Victorian authorities who deal with the estates of deceased persons was, in 1902, £7,500,000; in 1903, £6,000,000; in 1904, £5,750,000; in 1905, £6,000,000; and in 1906, £6,500,000. These sums total £31,000,000, and average £6,000,000. It is a well recognised rule that by multiplying the value of the estates of deceased persons for one year by thirty, you can arrive at the value of the estates of the living.
– That is, thirty years is regarded as the average duration of a generation.
– Yes. But to make the calculation more exact, it is necessary to average the value of the estates of deceased persons over a period of five years. In any one year the estates falling in may be exceptionally heavy, but in five year periods the results are marvellously uniform. On this basis the private wealth of Victoria for the period I have spoken of amounted to £210,000,000.
– Has the honorable member taken estates on which no probate or succession duty was paid 1
– I am not dealing with probate or succession duties. On some of the estates which come under re view there may be next to no probate duty charged. In South Australia every estate exceeding £200 has to come under review, but the duty is small when the value of the estate is low, and varies according to the nature of the bequests. On page 814 of volume VI. of the X earBook the value of the estates of deceased persons coming under review in Victoria is shown to be : For 1907, £6,750,000; for 1908, £7,000,000; for 1909, £6,000,000; for 1910, £7,500,000; and for 1911, £8,500,000; making the private wealth of the country within that period £240,000,000, an increase of £30,000,000 upon the private wealth for the previous five years. I could give similar figures with regard to the other States, but to do so would be to load the pages of Hansard un necessarily : The private wealth of the Commonwealth during the first period was, accord hig to the calculation I have made, £630,000,000, and during the second period £780,000,000. To ascertain the wealth of the working people, who never have anything to leave behind, it would be necessary to obtain returns from societies and from other sources.
– What is the public wealth of Australia?
– I am not interested iu that now ; but, remembering our public and private indebtedness, it would appear that the country is pretty well in pawn. The public wealth of Australia, that is, the value of the property of the Crown here or the value of that which belongs to the people as a whole, is very little indeed. Our railways are public property, but they really belong to those who have advanced money on them.
– Just as the house upon which there is a heavy mortgage- really belongs to the mortgagee.
– Yes. My desire this afternoon is not so much to find fault with the Budget as to direct attention -to the need for financial reform. I cannot be robbed of my faith in the ‘ intelligence of the great Australian public. Within a decade or a generation the people will awaken to the urgency of these matters. The worst thing about our financial position is that we have practically no public property. If we had more public property, it would be a check on the private property. Germany is able at the present time to maintain large armaments, and to spend an enormous sum on her navy, because she has a revenue from her railways of £4:0,000,000 a year. What revenue have .e from our railways ? They simply pay working expenses and interest on the debt which has been incurred in connexion with them, with, perhaps, a small surplus now and again in one 01 two of the States, which goes into the Consolidated Revenue. Unfortunately, there is no desire on the part of our public nien to lead the people out of the rut into which they have got; but, until that is done, we can hardly better our financial position. It is an axiom that where wealth is, there power is. At the present time, wealth is in the hands of private individuals. I make no reflection in saying that - I merely state an economic fact. To counterbalance the private wealth, the public wealth should be increased, and the chief way of increasing it is’ to make great public concerns like the railways revenue producing. We should pay off the debts on these big concerns.
– Is the honorable member opposed to private ownership of property ?
– Of course I am not.
– Then what is the honorable member’s remedy for these evils ?
– Honorable members opposite do not appear to realize the importance of these questions. The people should be advised by their public men of the best course to pursue. When they take a more intelligent interest in the concerns of the country, they will not return Conservatives to Parliament. There will always be differences of opinion between the members of a section that is advancing rapidly and the members of a section that is advancing not so fast; but there can be nothing in common between a section that is advancing and a section that is standing still. I hope that when the next Budget is delivered the information for which I ask will be given, and that I shall not be expected to get it for myself. It is easy to work out the actual wealth of the community in England, and to know where it goes. One of the ways of doing it is to take the income returns which have to be furnished to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, especially those under schedule D, which applies to incomes earned by personal exertion. In one of Knibbs’ official publications we are told that it is not Known how many people there are earning under £200 per annum who are not income tax payers. That is not very satisfactory. It ought not to be very difficult to arrive at some conclusion in regard to that matter, but as regards those earning over £200 per annum, the total amount of income is £62,637,896, and 114,195 persons pay the tax. Assuming that the family in Australia consists of a man and wife and three children, we may conclude that there are half a million persons in Australia who are more or less interested in paying income tax. This would mean that, with a population of 4,800,000, only one head of a family in every ten pays income tax, or that practically only one-tenth of the people of Australia have an income of above £200 a year. I am only trying to get at broad approximate results, which is all that any Treasurer can do. I have no quarrel with the land of my adoption; it is a good country, and we are an industrious people, but the fact remains that only one family in ten has a sufficiently large income to be called upon by the authorities to pay income tax. If one happens to attend one of those great gatherings where some distinguished man with a very large white waistcoat speaks, he will hear remarks about our wonderful country, the prosperity of the people, and the Treasurer’s references to the tremendous amount of wealth in the Savings Banks of Australia. This gentleman will say, “ Look at the colossal wealth these people have, and what a wonderful condition they are in.” Let us examine for ourselves what condition they are really in. I do not envy the people who have to compile these figures for the various State authorities, for I have a strong suspicion that they are compiled for the purpose of deceiving the public. I was surprised when I first started on this inquiry to find that I got on the wrong track for a long while, and it took me some time and trouble to retrace my steps. The value of the deposits of the people of Australia in the Savings Banks is £67,000,000, and the number of depositors is 1,736,004. On page S55 of the official Year-Booh appears the following interesting information : -
It must, of course, be borne in mind that Savings Bank accounts are not restricted to the adult population, but that it is, on the contrary, a very usual practice to open accounts in the names of children. Even so, the proportion is a large one, amounting, in the case of the Commonwealth, to more than one-third, and rising in Victoria to nearly one-half, and in South Australia to more than one-half.
A return that does not draw a distinction between the amounts deposited by children and the amounts deposited by adults is not of much value to public men in arriving at the amount of wealth held by the working people. It would be interesting to know if the amounts deposited by children were included with the idea of showing the prosperity of the people, or to inflate the returns of the Savings Banks, and deceive the public into thinking that the working classes were in a wonderful state of prosperity. I leave honorable members to draw their own conclusions. I do not know whether the Government can do anything, but as they call themselves a Liberal Government, and seem to be on very friendly terms with all the Liberal tribe in Australia, in the circumstances it would not” do any harm if the Treasurer were to send out a circular to these people asking them to keep the returns of the children’s deposits separate from the returns of the adults’ deposits. The only information valuable to us in arriving at the wealth of the working classes is that giving the amount saved by grown-up persons. At page 862, Knibbs gives the following figures -
Those figures teach a very striking lesson. 190,700 persons have £41,000,000 deposited, and the total amount deposited by all the rest is only £26,000,000. I do not deny that the return shows a great amount of thrift on the part of the people of this continent, but it shows at the same time that a tremendous number of people in Australia have a very hard struggle to get a few pounds into the Savings Bank, and to keep them there once they have put them there. Those facts, and the fact that only one wage-earner in ten pays income tax, are very striking. An examination of the Budget-papers shows that many of the heavy Customs duties now levied are really revenue duties, but if it were proposed to remove them I do not know that 1 should agree to do so, because I realize that we must have revenue to carry on the government of the country. I have shown that the private wealth of Australia is accumulating by leaps and bounds, although we are repeatedly told that employers are being driven out of their wits by Wages Boards, Arbitration Courts, and other harassing and worrying legislation, so that they scarcely know how to make ends meet. They are always telling us that the profits of industry in Australia are all going to the working people, but do the facts bear out that contention? Where does the £150,000,000 increase of private wealth come from ? 1 am not reflecting upon those who have acquired it. Good luck to them. They may claim that they have simply got their share of the good things that have been going, but the fact remains that while wages have gone up profits have gone up in a much greater proportion. That is the only conclusion that can be arrived at. The probate and taxation officials, whose figures I am using, do not bother their heads about the true economic statistics over which I am worrying. But where did this money come from? It came, not from the moon, but from the industry of the Australian people. It is a proof of our industry, but it does not prove, to my mind, that the wealth of the community is equally distributed. Honorable members opposite will say, perhaps, that it is my desire that all wealth should be shared up amongst the community. There is, however, no such desire on my part, or on the part of the Labour party and those whom they represent.
– No one outside a lunatic asylum. asks for such a thing.
– Quite so. There may be a crank on our side, .but if there is one, there are a good many on the other side.
– What does the honorable member suggest as a means of obtaining a better distribution?
-I say that in regard to that £150,000,000 relief from Customs and Excise duties should be obtained to the extent of at least £5,000,000. Setting aside all party considerations, and viewing this matter from the stand-point of justice and equity, is it right that people with very small incomes should be as heavily taxed as they are ? They have no savings to put by, and when they die they leave nothing. Is it fair that the clothing they wear, and everything they use, should bc as heavily taxed as it is, when the wealthy “ crowd “ can well afford to pay a little more? When a proposal of the kind to which I referred is made, the cant that we usually hear is that it is wicked to tax a man’s capital. I have always been under the impression that before anything became capital it must have been first of all income. Income means capital when it is invested. This cant about “ taxing a man’s capital “ in reply to such a proposal is mere word juggling. It may be very interesting to professors and others who have spent a lot of time in the study of political economy; but a man of average common sense can come to no other conclusion than that this income can and should be legitimately taxed. The sooner we move in that direction the better. The road to it, no doubt, will prove a long one. The fundamental object of a dual system of Government is to enable the “ trick “ to be played in the interests of the wealthy people of the country, to keep the taxation on the people, and to keep them down. Our opponents will not admit that that is so. They will tell us a lot about constitutional law from the days of the Pharaohs, with the object of proving that our Constitution is the best that we could have; but they hold that view merely because it suits the “top dog.” From the stand-point of justice and equity, we should have some other method of taxation. We should have appended to the next Budget statement information of the character for which I have asked. No one will say that the information which the Budget-papers now supply should not be given. It is certainly valuable, but it is not the sort of information that the man who is toiling in the workshop, the mine, or the factory desires. The workers look to their representatives in Parliament to deal with questions of expenditure and revenue, aud todo the best we can in the interests of thewhole community; but they would be interested in a return showing where thewealth earned during the preceding twelvemonths had gone. Taking the amount, shown by Knibbs to have been earned in, the factories of the Commonwealth last year, and allowing £100 a year for every man employed, £50 a year for every woman, and 5s. per week for each of the- lads and lasses employed in these factories, we find that the whole amount is swallowed up, and that there is absolutely nomargin. In the face of these facts, honorable members must recognise that we need to be watchful over expenditure, but that we require, also, to exercise the power of the House in such a direction that taxation shall be imposed on those best able to bear it, and removed from those least able to bear it. I believe that the Victorian Government Statist claims that there are more properties ranging in value from £2,000 to £3,000 in this State than there are in any other State in the Commonwealth. I hope that his claim is correct. We ought to have supplied with the Budget-papers, not only figures dealing with the value of the estates of deceased persons, but returns showing the number of estates in the Commonwealth ranging in value from £2,000 to £3,000. One of the best indications of the prosperity of a country is the fact that there is constant employment available for the working,section of the community, and the number of small property-owners existing there is also another very important indication of its prosperity or otherwise. Small property-owners are the backbone of a country. They are the people who have exercised thrift. They are not likely to trouble the Government for an old-age pension, or for any assistance, and we want to know whether that section of the community is increasing or decreasing in number. During the last referenda campaign, a friend of mine, who was very anxious to defeat the Labour Government’s proposals, asked me whether I was in favour of a scheme that would take from me my property. I replied, “That is a rather strange question to put to me. I happen to be interested in a small property, and, in any event, I should be the last man to think of weakening the interests of the small property-owners of Australia.” When we proceed to deal with the items in the Estimates, I shall, perhaps, have something more to say upon this question. I appeal to honorable members to view it fairly. The information for which I have asked should be supplied, so that we may determine the degree ofprosperity prevailing amongst all sections of the community. Such information would be a valuable guide to the people, and, despite what might be said by squabbling politicians, they would know whether the country in which they lived was prosperous, or whether it was going down the hill.
.– The honorable member for Hindmarsh has given the Committee a very interesting compilation of figures - a compilation that is likely to lead to further investigation, and which certainly opens up a very wide field of inquiry. I am inclined to think that he has underestimated the total private wealth of the Commonwealth. I realize that it is difficult to obtain anything like the exact figures; but I agree with the honorable mem ber that it should be possible to arrive at some fairly close approximation. Mr. Knibbs has succeeded, so far, in giving us, in the Year- Book, the total production of the Commonwealth, but has not been inclined to risk his reputation in an effort to present an accurate statement of the accumulated private wealth of the Commonwealth. Such information would be very valuable. The amount realized from probate duties is considered by many to afford a reliable indication of the wealth of the community, and I believe that Mr. Coghlan, as well asother controversialists, have advanced that view. But when Mr. Knibbs was before the Tasmanian Customs Leakage Commission he declined to take the amount received from probate duties as a reliable basis for estimating the private wealth of the country. He said he was not inclined to regard the estates of deceased persons as indicating the total wealth of the people, even on the law of averages. The last figures I have are those given by Mr. Deakin when he introduced his Defence Bill, in 1907. Mr. Deakin said he had gone to considerable trouble in endeavouring to obtain some approximation of the total wealth of Australia, public and private, and he set it down at £1,200,000,000. We may safely assume that this has accumulated to the extent of £200,000,000 or £300,000,000 since that time, so that the total wealth can hardly be less than £1,400,000,000 or £1,500,000,000. If we were to take £700,000,000 or £800,000,000, as stated by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, and put the total production of Australia at £200,000,000, we find that the production reaches about 25 per cent. of the total accumulated wealth. It seems to me, however, that we can scarcely reach the present total wealth of the country by estimates founded on the figures of three or four years. A statement was inade by the honorable member, in connexion with the wages paid within the Commonwealth and the profits made by the manufacturers, the latter being held to have far exceeded the former. The Y ear-Book takes the total of the raw materials and the added wealth given to them by the process of manufacture over four or five years, and makes the same calculation in regard to the wages paid; and we find that the wages are quite equal in percentage to the total added value given to the raw materials by manufacture.
– The wages have increased by 20 per cent. in the last four or five years.
– Not in Australia.
– Yes; from £77 to £92 per head in. the factories.
– I have not the detailed figures, but when I worked out the figures last year, I found that the added value given to the raw materials is only about 1 per cent. greater than the percentage of increase of wages in the same period.
– And rents have gone up by 25 per cent.
– The more we increase taxation, the higher the rents; and the taxation was increased by the late Government to the extent of probably £1 7s. or £1 8s. per head.
– Who put that taxation on ?
– The Labour Government had three years in which they might have reduced taxation. My opinion is that we are paying too much in the form of duties at the Customs; and this taxation, together with the land tax, means the increase I have stated.
– Not in three years.
– At any rate, it is fully £1 per head during that period.
The honorable member for Yarra made a direct attack on Mr. H. V. McKay. I am not here as the defender of any man who does not pay proper wages, but we must agree that Mr. McKay is one of our great Australians, and that he has built up one of the largest manufacturing industries we have.
– And he is one of the greatest sweaters !
– When Mr. McKay presented himself as a witness before the Harvester Commission, the schedule of wages he produced was quite equal to that of any other manufacturer in the same industry.
– And, as a rule, it was above the standard wages.
– Quite so.
– Mr. McKay prevented the farmers getting their machinery at a reasonable price.
– The investigations by the Harvester Commission show that M.r. McKay sold his machines as cheaply as did any other man in the business. This attack is made on Mr. McKay, because he has made his business a great success. He has introduced into Australia new inventions that have helped the farmers to more scientifically, expeditiously, and cheaply harvest their crops, and he has built up an export trade which brings immense sums of money into the country to provide increased employment.
– He does it for his own benefit !
– He is not a philanthropist !
– Certainly not; but if Mr. McKay benefits, while not obtaining excessive profits, he at thesame time benefits the whole community. The investigations of the Harvester Commission show that Mr. McKay was making large profits every year, and that a profit on each individual harvester, which would give him in the aggregate a big income, might easily cause every one of the small factories in the country to cease operations. It is not the profit on each harvester that gives Mr. McKay his great returns, but it is the tremendous turn-over, and the application of inventive genius and specialization to his business.
– And the high protective Tariff.
– The Harvester Commission inquiry showed that the manufacturers made a bargain with this Parliament that they would pay the wages prescribed by the ArbitrationCourt, and sell their machines at a prescribed price, if a duty of £25 per machine were imposed, but that the manufacturers were really prepared to pay the prescribed wages with a duty of half that amount. It will be seen, therefore, that if there was any lapse it was on the part of this Parliament. The evidence showed that Mr. McKay was prepared to pay the wages fixed by Mr. Justice Higgins; in fact, he would prefer to pay those wages, because, in his opinion, the classification was better than that of the Wages Board.
– Then why did he take the case to the High Court?
– Because we had adopted an unconstitutional method of introducing a system of new Protection, and had imposed a tax that we had noright to impose.
– He would never have got the protection if we had not imposed that tax.
– I candidly admit that I view the Budget with a certainamount of concern. There should have been more investigation into the construction of public works, in order to see whether the increased expenditure is justified. If we compare the expenditure or the estimated expenditure of last year with the proposed increased expenditure this year, we see an increase, from either point of view, of from £2,000,000 to £4,000,000.
The most serious part of the expenditure is that in connexion with defence. There have been some valuable articles in the Melbourne daily newspapers in reference to Commonwealth finances, and the Age, particularly, has concentrated its attention on the increased defence expenditure as being, in the opinion of that journal, too heavy a burden for the population of Australia to carry. I am an enthusiastic believer in compulsory training. On the subject of defence we have had two valuable reports presented by two eminent officers from Great Britain, namely, Lord Kitchener and Admiral Henderson. We must tak© expert advice if we are to have anything like a homogeneous and effective naval and military defence force. We know, however, on the authority of the Prime Minister, and of the figures themselves, that, although the cost of Lord Kitchener’s scheme was put at £1,800,000, the expenditure has now reached about £3,000,000. This is owing to a number of new departures which were not contemplated by Lord Kitchener, but which were undertaken chiefly by the late Government, including the Military College, the Clothing “Factory, the Harness Factory, and so forth. The cost of administration has also increased beyond the figure originally contemplated. The scheme of Lord Kitchener was in itself a heavy toll, but, when we superimpose the naval expenditure now contemplated, the figures assume staggering proportions. Admiral Henderson’s scheme, if it is carried into effect, will run the country into an expenditure of over £4,000,000 a year; in fact, the average for twenty years for the bare scheme is over £3,500,000 odd. We may take it for granted that the expenditure will be proportionately increased if Lord Kitchener’s scheme be any criterion, so that we may look forward to an expenditure of £8,000,000 or £9,000,000 per annum for the whole scheme of defence, military and naval. At present the expenditure is put down at £5,750,000, but it will not be long before that will be increased. We cannot repudiate those schemes, but I contend that it was never contemplated that Australia should carry this enormous burden without some increase in population, which the Federal Parliament has made no effort to bring about. The population in 1909 was 4,323,000, and in 1912 it was 4,733,000. an increase of about 309,000, or 7 per cent. Our defence expenditure, on the other hand, jumped from £1,000,000 in 1909, at the time when the new naval scheme came into operation, and a few months before Lord Kitchener’s report, to £5,700,000 in 1912-13, It will be seen, therefore, that the expenditure has increased five and a half times, as against an increase in population of less than 10 per cent. Lord Kitchener, in paragraph 10 of his report, said -
The danger of want of population and consequent ineffective occupation in many parts of the country is, in my opinion, a most serious existing condition in Australia, as it may greatly imperil the stability of the present state of affairs in the Commonwealth. I feel, however, that this is so well known and recognised that I need not emphasize it . further.
Lord Kitchener clearly contemplated that there would be a large increase in population in Australia, and that it would be left to the genius of the statesmanship of the Commonwealth to see that there was an increase in population, in order that the people could distribute the enormous burden of taxation his scheme of defence would put upon them. Our present problem is to consider how we can increase the population and people the empty spaces. We have 0 done very little, even with the increase of £50,000 on the Estimates, to tackle the matter as it should be tackled. We have left tho question of immigration to the States; they have done something, and we must give them credit for it; but the Commonwealth has the duty cast on it to control immigration to this continent, and as a Commonwealth we have done little to bring people to our shores. We must deal with the question in a new light altogether.
– We have not spent sixpence in bringing any one here.
– We were specially delegated by the Constitution to undertake the matter of immigration ; it is one of our plain duties, but we have never shouldered the responsibility, notwithstanding that it is one that is directly associated with defence. The two great schemes, military and naval, should not have been undertaken until there was associated with them a reasonable scheme of immigration, so that the expenditure necessary in connexion with them might be borne by a larger population. I am not in favour of dumping people here without discrimination, but when we find that only about 7 per cent, of our area is alienated, I think it is time we looked round to see if the great resources of the Commonwealth do not justify our having more people settled on the land.
– We have no power over the land.
Mr. SAMPSON. But we have power to help the States, and have done nothing.
– How much does it cost the State of Victoria to get each immigrant ?
– As a matter of fact, those who have studied the question say that if each immigrant costs £100 he is cheap at the price.
– Some one said that it was £800.
– That must have been imagination, because the passage) out does not cost more than a few pounds. Altogether, I do not suppose each immigrant costs the State of Victoria more than £20.
I ‘ have dealt with this question previously; but I wish to ‘ show how it is possible for this Parliament, in conjunction with the Stales, to increase the number of people on the soil in a very short time. To do this I must go back to the old question of the distribution of the Murray River waters. After all our great efforts at immigration we have only 250,000 acres under intense cultivation, and some of that land is used for grazing purposes; but by the outlay of £2,500,000 we could at once make available water to irrigate 1,400,000 acres. Here is a direction in which the Commonwealth might assist the States, in order to store this water, and thus help to increase the population - the only possible way in which we can provide the revenue necessary to carry out these two great defence schemes and bring the necessary population to Australia to share with us the burden of the taxation necessary. We know that after the FrancoPrussian war the enormous indemnity demanded by Germany was paid by the peasants of France. We must look first to the primary production from the soil if we are to stand the enormous taxation that will be imposed upon us as a. people for defence purposes.
– Where did you get your figures from?
– I am quoting from the latest reports of the joint Commission of Engineers appointed to investigate the question of storing the Murray River waters.
– Have we the power to undertake that work?
– Yes, in conjunction with the States. I am sure the States will not refuse any assistance from the Commonwealth.
– Of course not; if we like to pay for the work, the States will take the money.
– What we have to consider is how far it may be necessary to postpone giving effect in its entirety to the Henderson scheme, say for twelve months, so that we may look about for a speedy method of settling people on the land, in order to increase the population and lessen the individual burden of taxation, so that the scheme will not fall on Australia with such a crushing blow.
Lord Kitchener, in paragraph 11 of his report, says -
I would also mention that railway construction has, while developing the country, resulted ia lines that would appear to be more favorable to an enemy invading Australia than to the defence of the country. Different gauges in most of the States isolate each system, and the want of systematic interior connexion makes the present lines running inland of little use for defence, though possibly of considerable value to an enemy who would have temporary command of the sea.
That is a very significant statement from an eminent soldier, as well as a statesman of world-wide experience in these questions. It lias also a very potential significance to the whole production and transport of Australia. We know by investigations made by the Fruit Commission that the most serious inconvenience and loss and destruction of valuable fruit are brought about through the want of uniformity in the railway systems. On this question there. should be no difference .of opinion in the Committee. There should be absolute unanimity on the point of converting the different railway gauges to a system of uniformity, not only for defence purposes, but in particular for the carriage of perishable products.
– What gauge do you favour ?
– That is not the question.
– That is the trouble.
– In- this matter we must depend on expert advice, and we are fortunate in having that advice in a report issued in 1912. Whatever may be the ultimate gauge for Australia, I have uo hesitation in saying that it will be a great mistake to adopt the 4-ft. 8-J-in. gauge. I do not say this from the standpoint of a Victorian. The tendency of engineering effort in all the new countries of the world is to have a wider gauge.
It means saving in haulage; the wider gauge is more economic and satisfactory for transport purposes. We can quite understand why they retain the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge in the United States of America, where there are hundreds of thousands of miles of railway, and they could not convert them without an enormous expense; but the late Mr. Harriman, the greatest authority on railway construction in the United States of America, and with the largest interest in railway shares in those States, said that if he could have his way, and the railways had to be built over again, he would not have a ‘5-ft. 3-in. gauge; he would, probably, have adopted a 6-feet gauge.
– The Victorian people are the only people who favour the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge.
– This is not the place for an argument, in connexion with the gauge. What wo want is uniformity. The report presented last year shows that it will cost £37,000,000 to convert all the railways in Australia to the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge,” and £51,000,000 to convert them to the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, and’ that to convert the main lines to the 4-ft.. 8-J-in. gauge would cost about £12,000,000. It seems to nic that the time has arrived when we should press for a settlement of this important question. In the aggregate, the States are building hundreds of miles of railway each year, which will increase the ultimate cost of bringing about uniformity. The longer we delay this matter the greater will be the loss to the taxpayers of Australia. Every year that is lost means an expenditure of millions of money over the present cost of bringing about the conversion. If we had taken the matter in hand in 1898, when it was first proposed, wo would probably have converted all the lines at a quarter or n fifth of what it will ultimately cost.
– If it is a Federal expenditure, you would not care what gauge is adopted.
– I do not think the whole of the cost should” be made a Federal expenditure. The States will have certain advantages by having a uniform system throughout the Commonwealth. However, wc should at once get into communication with the States, and the Commonwealth Parliament should, if neces sary, be prepared to use some of its credit 33 a Commonwealth to provide the necessary money to have all new railways built in the States made on a uniform gauge, and as speedily as possible have the existing lines converted to that gauge.
This brings me to the Northern Territory. In 1912 the expenditure on the Northern Territory was £363,000 ; in the following year it increased to £393,000; and this year we propose to expend £531,000- an increase of about £140,000. This cannot go on. There is no production taking place ; there is no return. So far there has been no attempt to lay down any bedrock or comprehensive policy for the Northern Territory. I believe it is possible to develop that portion of Australia, but it will need a special class of production, and special treatment from Parliament. It will not be opened up by a spasmodic attempt to establish a steam laundry or experimental farms, or to run a railway where no one can see there is to bc any immediate advantage gained. I do not think any responsible Minister can tell us where the £400,000 proposed to be spent, on the Katherine River railway is going to develop any portion of the country.
– It is part of a big scheme.
– Yes; but when that big scheme of £7,000,000 or £8,000,000 is carried out, I should like to know how much nearer we shall be to the development of that country. If we had a railway through the centre of Australia, no one can say how much nearer we shall be to the development of the country. la it expected that cattle are to be taken by trains from the north to the southern markets of Australia. A Queensland grazier told me the other day that it cost him 7s. or 8s. per head to drove his cattle to Bourke, a distance of 400 miles, and £2 per head to send them by rail from Bourke to Sydney, a similar distance. How, then, would it bo possible to send cattle by rail from the Barklay Tablelands or the Victoria River to the southern markets of Australia? Besides, there is sufficient land in the temperate paris of Australia to provide for the grazing of all the cattle that are needed to supply ns with meat. The Territory cau be developed only bv the creation of an export trade, and it is the tropical portion of it that is best suited for that. What is needed is the establishment of water conservation and intense cultivation, and the introduction of artificial grasses as in Gippsland, the Hunter River, and Richmond River districts, and parts of Queensland. The rainfall of the Northern Territory ranges from 60 to 30 inches a year, but it falls within three or four months, and therefore will not allow successful cultivation under natural conditions. A rainfall of 20 inches, coming in the winter and spring, is worth more in the temperate parts of Australia than a rainfall of 40 or 45 inches in the Northern Territory. We need a report on the Territory by a thoroughly competent engineer who has had experience of tropical agriculture. If we had the advice of a man like Mr. Elwood Mead we could obtain a proper classification of the land suitable for agriculture, and we should have a report on which to base our development policy. Having received a comprehensive report, we could formulate a policy of construction, and commence the making of railways for the development of the Territory itself, not for the fanciful scheme of linking up the northern and southern portions of the continent. Unless the Territory is developed it will cost the Commonwealth a staggering amount, and we are not justified in spending a shilling on railway construction there until we have had a report from a capable engineer as to how our money could be best laid out. I have visited the Northern Territory, and know that there are to be found there perennial rivers affording opportunity for the storage of water in large quantities. A very competent agriculturist going there from this part of Australia might easily find himself at sea for a long time, but ray knowledge of agriculture and land leads me to think that adjacent to the rivers is land suitable for agriculture, and some of it capable of being irrigated to advantage. We could also grow cotton and rice.
– Is the honorable member’s solution of the difficulty the establishment of irrigation farms?
– My solution is closer settlement and intense cultivation, following on water conservation.
– Why cannot Victoria retain her population ?
– During the past twelve months Victoria has increased her population at a greater rate proportionately than any of the other States. The increase has been largely due to irrigation.
– We must give communication.
– There is communication by rail for a distance of 145 miles in the Northern Territory. What is necessary there is the establishment of an export trade in frozen meat and dairy produce. The jute, cotton, rice, and other tropical productions that might be grown there would only suffice for local consumption for many years to come. The dairying industry might be established by the introduction of artificial grasses. The expenditure of £6,000,000 or £7,000,000 in fostering development will give some result, and should make the country self-supporting. If we spend money on making a transcontinental line before we have .developed the Territory we shall only increase the Commonwealth burdens. Not another pound should be spent on the Territory until it has been fully investigated by ah independent expert, and we are in a position to determine on the best evidence obtainable how to grapple with the great problem that confronts us. Immigration will have to be encouraged also for the Northern Territory. It is not likely that many persons will leave the temperate parts of Australia to settle in the tropical north. Only those will do that who see in the change a reasonable opportunity of improving their position. We must give freehold tenure to cultivators who go there. The Territory will never be closely settled on a leasehold tenure. It seems to me, too, that the Government will have to look beyond the British Islands for population for the Territory, and that inquiries should be made to ascertain the possibility’ of getting settlers from Scandinavia, Germany, Holland, and other countries of northern Europe. There is also the possibility of making investigations into the lemon and orange growing industry, as carried on in Sicily and Italy. Mr. Mead, the Chairman of the Water Supply Commission of Victoria. si,id that a fine lot of people could be found in Northern Italy if we went about obtaining them in a proper way. The investigations of the Fruit Commission showed that we were importing tens of thousands of pounds’ worth of lemons and oranges every year from Sicily, Lisbon, and other places. We have country equal to that in any part of the world for the growth of those products, add a large body of expert growers could be brought out to enter into the industry here. This would help to increase our production, and also furnish a valuable object lesson to the fruitgrowers of Australia generally. The only way to obtain a proper investigation of the possibilities of getting people from European countries is by the Commonwealth undertaking the responsibility. I enter my protest against the tremendous expenditure on our defence scheme, and the immense unproductive expenditure on the Northern Territory and the Oodnadatta railway, without any associated attempt on the part of the Government to initiate a scheme of immigration to increase our population in as far as possible a similar ratio.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- The honorable member for Maribyrnong yesterday set up a bogyman with regard to the sugar industry of Queensland, and showed how ho was going to knock him down again if ever he had a chance to do it. The Queensland Government are sincere in their undertaking with the Commonwealth to carry on the sugar industry under white labour conditions.
– Order ! The honorable member is now dealing with a matter connected with the Budget debate. He will not be in order in debating that question at this stage. He will have another opportunity of doing so.
– I accept your ruling on that point. I should like to add that the regulations under the Sugar Act of Queensland provide that the growers of sugar, who have their cane already planted, shall have time to harvest their crops.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 3.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 November 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1913/19131128_reps_5_72/>.