5th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– In the absence of the Honorary Minister, I wish to know from the Prime Minister whether it would not be possible to have cheap leather covers supplied with the pocket book of Commonwealth statistics that has just been issued to members, and the issue of which I first suggested in this House a little time back. These books are likely to be very much used because of the valuable information that they contain; but the present covers are too flimsy, and wear off almost immediately. A cheap leather cover should not cost more than about ½d. per book; it would not be necessary to print anything upon the cover.
– If it is the general desire of honorable members, I shall see if we cannot give effect to the suggestion.
– A linen cover would do.
– I shall see what can be done.
Mr.HIGGS. - In the absence of the Honorary Minister, I ask the Prime Minister if he will request the Minister of Defence to cause inquiry to be made into the case of a boy named Walter Kreygger, who, at the Northcote Police Court, gave it as his objection to compulsory drill that the teaching of the Bible was against it. He was sentenced to twenty-eight days’ detention, and has written to his mother in these terms -
We bad to drill about half-past 7 this morning, and they all formed up and started off. I fell out with Harry Flintoff, and the officer came up and dragged me round the ground. Then he called two boys, one a champion boxer, to get me and push me around. This boxer -
– I ask the honorable member not to read the whole of the letter. He may state the facts on which he desires to base his question.
Mr.HIGGS. - I desire to be accurate.
– The honorable member would not be in order in reading the whole of a lengthy letter.
– I submit that I am entitled to state whatever facts may be necessary to explain my question.
– The honorable member will be in order in stating such facts as are necessary to explain his question, but not in reading the letter at length.
– Well, this boxer, the boy claims, dug his fingers into the boy’s neck, screwed his arm almost out of its socket, until he cried out with pain, and punched him in the face twice, and knocked him on the ground. The boy was almost stunned. When he got up, he said that he would summon his assailant, and was then struck such a brutal blow that, he says, “ it sent me clean over, and now there is an awful lump on my face.” I ask the Prime Minister to ascertain whether there is any truth in those statements, and, if so, whether the punishment alleged to be inflicted on this boy was in accordance with the regulations.
– If the facts are as alleged, and there is no other side to the case, the officer responsible ought not to remain in the force a minute longer. At the same time we know what some boys are. Certainly it looks as if there had been bad blood between the officer and the. boy. The matter requires looking into, and I promise the honorable member that it will be looked into.
– Does the Prime Minister know if any military or naval officer charged with the custody of cadets is allowed under the regulations to use physical force to compel cadets to drill? If he cannot give us the information now, will he obtain it during the day?
– My impression is that no officer is entitled to use physical force. There are certain provisions in the regulations for adequate discipline, which would be observed by the officer except, of course, under emergent circumstances, but I hope my honorable friend will not get it into his head that all the boys who have to be drilled are angels and all the officers brutes. That is not the case.
– The Prime Minister has no right to make such a reflection on me. A person who had such an idea would be of unsound mind.
– I had no such suggestion in my mind. I know the honorable member is always sympathetic towards the man whom Robert Blatchford called the “ under dog,” and the man who is always so sympathetic for people who need sympathy is sometimes apt to let his heart run away with his head. It is a good fault, but I hope the honorable member will not carry it to excess.
– Is it a fact that 1,000,000 stamps of the new issue, bearing the King’s head, have been printed by a steel-engraving process, and that subsequent issues of the same design are to be printed by another process?
-Unfortunately, it is the Treasurer, and not the PostmasterGeneral, who controls the printing of stamps.
– The honorable gentleman could have printed as many as he wished.
– I cannot. The engraver of the Commonwealth notes was kind enough to make a die, and engrave the plates in his own time for the printing of these stamps, but the Treasury Department will not allow him to strike off more than 1,000,000. If he were permitted, he could continue to print these stamps at the rate of 1,000,000 per week. The Treasury Department is having dies prepared, so that further stamps can be printed by the electro process, which is the process employed for the printing of the old issue. In my opinion, the stamps produced by the steelengraving process are much superior to the others.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral going to print more?
– I should like to do so, but the Treasury Department will not allow it.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether the announcement which he made, that only 1,000,000 stamps would be printed by the steelengraving process, which induced the public to buy them with such avidity, will be adhered to?
– That depends on the Treasury. We did not charge any premium on the stamps, and they cost only a penny apiece. The avidity was on the part of the stamp dealers. The public did not get as many as I should have liked them to get.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral not of opinion that it is a wrong thing to keep the ordinary members of the public in doubt as to the number of -stamps that is to be issued ; that it is not only wrong, but wicked and malicious?
– The matter may not be debated at this stage.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral if he does not think that this is so? Those in the “know” will undoubtedly corner as many of the stamps as they can get.
– This is question time, and any debate is entirely irregular. Questions should be asked to elicit information. The privilege of asking questions should not be used to express the opinion of the questioner, or to advance arguments.
– Does the PostmasterGeneral assume that the designer and engraver of ‘ these stamps has a private monopoly in the dies ? Does he not think that the Government is in duty bound to get possession of the dies, and to use them as it thinks fit?
– The Government can do as it likes in this matter, the dies and plates being its property; and the Treasury Department can authorize the printing of as many stamps as it thinks proper.
– Not if the PostmasterGeneral has undertaken not to issue more than 1,000,000 by the steelengraving process.
– I do not think that I have done so. I said that the Treasury promised me only 1,000,000. I have made no definite bargain with any one.
– When the honorable member speaks of the Treasury doing this, he states the policy of the Government in the matter.
– The trouble is that the special machinery required is being worked full time in the production of Commonwealth notes. For the printing of more stamps, the Treasury would have to lend us a Hoe printing machine, and it is not inclined to do this.
– Will the Prime Minis ter take into favorable consideration the advisability of issuing an order, at this time of the year, in reference to the boys who are now detained in camp for not putting in enough drills, allowing them to go home for the Christmas, holidays. I have received letters, from some mothers of these boys asking if this can be done. It would be an act of courtesy to grant, their request.
– I confess that, such an appeal impresses me, but some of these cases must be dealt with in the light of the circumstances. However, I. shall look into the matter, and see what, can be done.
– Is the PrimeMinister aware that, according to the Home Affairs Department, Schedule No. 16, there are sufficient sleepers at the Kalgoorlie depot to build 140 miles of the Transcontinental Railway, and sufficient rails to build about 120 miles of the line,, which material, according to the capacity of the track-layer, should keep the work going for four or five months ? Owing to the fact that Western Australia is really losing money by the transport of the material, would it not be wise on the part of the Prime Minister, before cancelling the contract, to look carefully into these matters, so that the Commonwealth may not have to pay more later on for sleepers for this railway?
– The Government are anxious to insure a continuous supply of sleepers for the construction of the Transcontinental Railway. Everything depends upon that. The men are there, and contracts are to be let, I hope ; but it will be impossible to do anything of the kind unless we can guarantee a continuous supply of material. In that respect we are in the hands of the Western Australian Government, to whom the honorable member has committed us for good or ill.
-It is a good contract. ‘ ‘ She ‘ ‘ is all right.
– My honorable, friend made the contract with the Western Australian Government, and now he says”she is all” right”; but the trouble is that, before “she” begins, “she” has gone wrong. We are told that we are not likely to get delivery of these sleepers to contract time.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that many telephone lines have been approved of for erection in country districts, some of them for months past? Will he, during the recess, issue orders to the officers in the different States to expedite the construction of these lines ?
– When I was in Sydney recently I gave special instructions to the engineer in charge to press on with all lines. We have called for tenders for about forty lines in New South Wales, and every man now in the employ of the Department is at work. The Department are doing as much as they possibly can, but the engineer informs me it is difficult to get enough supervisors to see that the work is properly carried out.
– After the Minister of Trade and Customs has interviewed the High Commissioner with regard to the Beef Trust, will he call additional evidence to convince him that this trust is operating in Australia at the present time?
– I have already interviewed the High Commissioner. I have already told the honorable member that we have been making our own official inquiries. We are continuing to make those inquiries, and I shall be glad to receive information from anysource. If the honorable member, or any one else, has information which he thinks will be of value to the Department, we shall be pleased to receive it.
– Owing to the num ber of railway lines proposed to be carried out in the Riverina district, will the PostmasterGeneral see that his inspectors select sites for post-offices where townships are likely to spring up, instead of waiting and renting temporary places, and then selecting sites when all the land has been taken up?
– I think the suggestion is very useful, and I shall see if we can act upon it.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the Premier of Queensland, on the eve. of his departure for London, had his Deputy selected by a ballot of members ? In case the Prime Minister should be going to London, will he allow the House or caucus to elect his Deputy?
– I shall be very happy to submit that matter to the caucus upstairs.
– Is the AttorneyGeneral aware that the school teachers of New South Wales have joined the Labour party ?
– I have a further question which is distinctly in order. Can the Attorney- General inform the House whether these public servants have the right to approach the Federal Arbitration Court for the redress of their grievances?
– I can give the honorable member no information in regard to his first question. His second question involves a question of law, and I can hardly be expected to give a definite opinion upon it on the floor of the House.
– Can the Prime Minister inform me whether the Printing Committee have considered the matter of cross-headings in reprints of honorable members’ speeches, and made a report on the matter?
– I have heard nothing yet from the Printing Committee. I have nothing to do with that Committee.
– It. is a matter that could be settled in an hour.
– I have nothing to do with the Printing Committee. The matter was recently decided by the House.
– Did you remit the matter to the Printing Committee?
– I did not. I did not know I had to.
– Does not Hansard, Mr. Speaker, come directly under your supervision, and not under that of the Printing Committee?
– That is perfectly correct; but I have nothing to do with reprints from Hansard, which honorable members are at liberty to obtain at their own expense whenever and wherever they please. The matter is really in the Treasurer’s Department so far as it relates to reprints by the Government Printer. Under a resolution carried by the House, which is still in force, only exact reprints of Hansard are allowed.
– I considered that when I put the resolution to the House with regard to the Printing Committee reference, and got the consent of the House, I had done all my duty. I took it then that the Printing Committee would take the same steps with regard to this as to any other matter, and that the Chairman, or whoever was responsible for the convening of the Committee, would call a meeting.
– The Chairman, Senator Henderson, had gone home.
– It seems to me that it is a matter entirely for the Committee. I do not know what more I can do. I should be glad if I could do anything more.
– The following is an extract from the Printing Committee’s report appearing in the Votes and Proceedings of 5th August, 1909, at page 76.-
The Joint Committee have informally considered the. question of the printing of crossheadings in the reprints of Parliamentary Debates forthe use of Ministers, but, finding that the matter is beyond the powers of the Committee as denned in the Standing Orders, have resolved to take no action unless on a special reference of the question to the Committee by the respective Houses.
The resolution carried by the House appears on page 77. as follows: -
That the only reprints permitted be an exact reproduction of Hansard, but speeches already ordered by Ministers, with cross-headings, shall be printed and delivered.
That is the position of the matter at the present time.
– I am quite prepared to have the question of sub-headings under the censorship of the Treasurer.
– That would put the matter altogether on a party basis.
– Then I would leave it to any responsible person that the Prime Minister may appoint.
– Is there any truth in the statement that has appeared in one section of the press, that the High Commissioner’s period of service has been renewed, and that the Government have agreed to increase his remuneration ?
– No. The matter has not yet been considered in any shape or form.
– About two months ago I asked the Minister acting for the Minister of Defence what the intention of the military authorities was with regard to the kilt. I was informed that I would receive a reply in a few days. So far, I have received none. Can the Prime Minister, answer the question now?
– My impression, and I think it is correct, is that the kilt is to stay.
– Have the Queensland Government made any arrangement for the repayment of their loans to the Commonwealth on any different basis from the other States?
– I hope the honorable member will believe that all the States are being treated alike with regard to loan applications.
– Is it a fact that the Government have agreed to accept from the Queensland Government half the money due next March as a return of that loan?
-I am unable to say, but my impression from the correspondence is that the Treasurer is treating all the States in the same way, and straining a point to meet them wherever, he can, without respect to any particular State. That is our duty. I know some concession of the kind was made only the other day to Mr. Holman, but no political colour enters into a transaction of that kind.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence,’ notice -
– The following replies are furnished for the information of the honorable member: -
asked the Honorary Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are-
– Will the Prime Min ister inform me what is the current credit balance of the Commonwealth ?
– I have not the information now, but will try to obtain it for the right honorable member.
– Has the attention of the Attorney-General been drawn to a scurrilous article in the Argus this morning in regard to certain judgments of Mr. Justice Higgins, and will he take steps to protect the Judges of the High Court from such attacks?
– My attention has not been drawnto. any. such article, and I have had no opportunity of knowing what was in it.
-I have received the following communication from the honorable member for Barrier -
I desire to move the adjournment of the House to call attention to the action of the Government in printing a limited number of steel plate postage stamps, with an understanding that no more of that kind should be printed.
Five honorable members having risen in theirplaces.
.-It was my intention to raise this question during the consideration of the Estimates relating to the Postmaster-General’s Department, but, in pursuance of an arrangement to deal with the Estimates within a certain time, they were put through so hurriedly that I had not an opportunity to do so. It is necessary, perhaps, to explain that there are two kinds of stamps, the steel-engraved, which are valued by philatelists, and those printed . from zinc plates, which are known as utility stamps. The steelengraved stamps are the more costly to produce, but, whilst they are better to look at, and, from the stand-point of the philatelist, are preferable to the utility stamps, the general public do not care whether they are supplied with the one or the other. I am somewhat inclined to philately, so that if I had followed my own personal predilections when I held office as Postmaster-General, I should have decided to issue the steel-engraved stamps. But, from the point of view of pounds, shillings, and pence, it was believed that only the utility stamps, which had been issued in Australia for many years, should be printed, and that was the decision of the late Government. In America steel-engraved stamps are issued, and I believe, although I am not quite sure, that they are also issued in Great Britain. The present ‘ PostmasterGeneral has seen fit to print 1,000,000 steel-engraved stamps. It was announced that the issue would be confined to that number, and the announcement is sure to appeal to philatelists all over the world. I do not wish to say anything unkind, but it seems to me that the downright ardent philatelist must be something in the nature of a crank.
– Say a misguided enthusiast.
– That, perhaps, would be a better term to use. This issue of 1,000,000 stamps has been taken up, not by the general public, but for the most part by philatelists. It was recognised that there would be a general rush by these people, and in order to meet it the Postmaster-General directed that no person should be allowed to purchase more than six at any one time. The honorable gentleman’s desire was that «these steel-engraved stamps should be distributed as far as possible among the general public, but nearly the whole issue has already found its way, I venture to say, into the hands of the philatelists. I am not complaining of this, because, as a matter of fact, I have a little corner in these stamps. A number of my parliamentary friends were good enough to buy the maximum number allowed to be issued at a time to any one person, and to hand them over to me. In Melbourne there is only one place where these stamps can be purchased to-day. They were available at that place a little while ago, but after the question put to the Minister / on the subject it is possible there has been another rush, and that even the supply there has become exhausted. I inquired at the General Post Office yesterday, and was told that these stamps were not available. An inquiry that I made at another office met with the same reply. The ob-: jection that I take to the PostmasterGeneral’s action is that he may do the same thing again, with the object of making a profit for the Department rather than of serving the public interest. The question of whether the steel-engraved stamp or the utility stamp should be issued is a matter of policy for the Government to decide. If the PostmasterGeneral is a philatelist, he may urge that only steel-engraved stamps should be issued, but if the rest of the Government are not philatelists, then, like some of my colleagues in the late Ministry, they may prefer the cheaper issue. The question as to which class of stamp shall be issued should be settled, however, once and for all ; otherwise we may have f further issues of steel-engraved stamps, not for the public use, but simply to enable the Department to make a profit. If such a course of action were adopted and continued, it would reduce Australia to the level of some of the South American Republics. In South America there are some Governments who continually issue fresh designs, in steel engravings, and very attractive in character, merely for sale to philatelists; and I feel sure there is no one in this House who would for one moment desire to see the Commonwealth adopt such a policy.
– Why not? It would raise revenue.
– I should be sorry, indeed, if Australia started to raise revenue through the Post Office in such a way. Those who have any acquaintance with what I may call the craze of stamp collecting, know that stamps become very valuable after they have been issued for some time. Only a few days ago, in a tram, a friend of mine asked me whether I had in my collection a certain Victorian stamp.
Colonel Ryrie. - Then the honorable member is a “little bit gone” on the craze ?
– I admit that. I told my friend that I had not an actual stamp, but only a copy of it; and he then informed me that when he was some seven or eight years of age, he found a trunk full of old letters’ belonging to bis grandfather, and that nearly all the stamps on the envelopes, as he remembered quite clearly, were the particular issue to which lie referred. “Unfortunately, he threw away the stamped envelopes; but had he retained them he would now have been able to obtain £25 each for the stamps. Stamps have a regular price in the market like any other commodity, and the fact that the Postmaster-General stipulated that each person should only be able to purchase sixpennyworth of the new issue shows that he fully realized that the philatelists would get to work. I understand the Postmaster-General to say that the Treasury will not allow him to have the die in order to print any more of this new issue. My own opinion is that we ought to definitely decide, as a’ matter of policy, whether a ‘ certain stamp is to be issued and continued, or whether only a certain number are to be printed. In regard to our Post Office we ought to have a high ideal; because no country with any respect for itself would issue stamps merely in order to make a profit over a brief period, and then introduce a fresh design with the same object in view. I do not suggest, or think for a moment, that this was the idea actuating the Postmaster-General; but I hope that we shall not have a similar occurrence. Whether a stamp be from a steel engraving or merely what is known as a utility stamp, it should be issued bond fide for postal purposes.
.- I take rather a serious view of the statement of the Postmaster-General, not because he decided to issue only 1,000,000 of these stamps, but because of the uncertain manner in which he informed us that he is unable to print any more, as the matter is in the hands of the Treasurer. The language that the PostmasterGeneral used as to the plates being cut by Mr. Harrison, the head of the Australian notes printing office, left the impression on my mind that the plates belong to that gentleman as his private property.
– Nothing of the kind.
– I am glad to hear that. If the plates are not private property, they are the property of the Government of Australia, and, I venture to say, the property of the Postmaster-General and “no other. They may, for practical pur- poses, be temporarily in the hands of the Treasurer, but they are in no sense the Treasurer’s property. The PostmasterGeneral has not been so clear on this occasion as he usually is. Speaking generally, the honorable gentleman is perfectly frank in everything he says and does in the House; but in regard to this matter, he has not been so definite as I should have liked him to be. He must know whether he set out to print 1,000,000 of these stamps, and no more; and, if he did, he should have taken the necessary precautions to insure that the issue did not fall into the hands of monopolists - shall I say? - on both sides of the House, or of other people “ in the know.”
– The Postmaster-General did his best in this connexion by stipulating that no person should be able to purchase more than sixpennyworth.
– If the intention was to issue 1,000,000, and no more, the fact should have been stated to the House and to the. world. When the late Government were in office, certain alterations in the stamp design were made. ‘ These have been disapproved by the present Government; but I am not going to discuss that phase of the question. I understand from one of my colleagues that, immediately those alterations were made, great buyers sent for, I think, about £250 worth, not of the new issue, but of old unused stamps. What would they not give for a new issue of a limited number? I am given to understand that an issue of 1,000,000 mean’s about one stamp for each active philatelist. Why, there are members of the community going about with pounds’ worth in their pockets; and I think that this is grossly unfair. I agree with the honorable member for Barrier that there should be no truckling in connexion with the printing and issue of our stamps.
– To whom is it unfair ?
– It is unfair to the public.
– How? Why?
– Does the honorable member think that a few privileged people, because they have early information, should be able to get hold of quantities of these stamps - that they should be able to send Tom, Dick, and Harry twice and three times to various’ post-offices, and obtain stamps before the general public know of the issue? Is that the way the administration of the country is to be carried on ? What chance, under such circumstances, has an outsider to get even one stamp ? He will have to buy it from the dealers. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro surely sees that a public statement should have been made in this Chamber immediately the Government arrived at a policy in the matter. There should have been no communication of information, privately or otherwise, to any particular person. Immediately it was hinted by the Postmaster-General that he might print more stamps by the steel-engraving process, the honorable member for Parkes interjected, “ And break faith with somebody?” With whom?
-With me, for one; a purchaser of 10s. worth of the stamps!
– I said that the public is under the impression that the issue of steel-engraved stamps would be limited, and I think that that impression was created partly by the statement of the Postal Department that not more than six stamps at a time would be sold to any one purchaser.
– I do not know whether the public is under that impression, but we cannot complain of those who seize lawful advantages. What 1 ask is, How did certain persons get early information ? I am speaking on behalf of the general public. There may be persons living in the interior who are as keen philatelists as any members of this House, and they have an equal right with others to purchase Government property that may rise in value.
– Those people were at liberty to instruct agents in town, to buy half-a-dozen stamps for them.
– According to the honorable member for Barrier, there is not a stamp now for sale here in Melbourne.
– The stamps were procurable in Sydney the day before yesterday.
– You could not get one in Melbourne yesterday, except at one particular post-office.
– Any number could have been obtained in Sydney.
– Melbourne being the Seat of Government, and the place where the stamps are. printed, those living here would be more likely to know of the stamps, and naturally there would be a greater raid on them here than in Sydney.
– If the PostmasterGeneral had not said that no person would be allowed to buy more than six stamps at a time, there is a firm in England - Messrs. Stanley, Gibbons, and Company - that would have bought up the whole issue.
– I have learnt since the matter was brought up that some persons, exercising an undoubted right, employed agents to buy six stamps at one time, and six at another. Whether they were engaged in a profitable speculation or not has nothing to do with us.
– What is the honorable member’s point?
– That the PostmasterGeneral ought to have had a policy when he started to print these stamps. I asked him at the beginning whether the stamps were to be printed from steel plates, or by the ordinary electrotype process, and he said that he intended to print from steel plates. He could not have done better than get Mr. Harrison to engrave the plates, -but he had no right to assume, as he did to-day, that these plates were not under his control, or, rather, that he cannot get the stamps printed at the note printing office when he wishes. To give an evasive answer to a question was not like the honorable gentleman. If he has determined to print only 1,000,000 stamps by the steel-plate process, he has no more need for the plates now that the stamps have been issued, and, for the honour of the country, he should have them destroyed, because faith should be kept with the philatelists who have purchased the -stamps. Whatever difficulty may have arisen has been due to his want of frankness in stating that the issue was to consist of 1,000,000 only. When I questioned him from time to time on the subject, suggesting that there would be a loss by printing from steel plates amounting to about £3,000 a year, he did not give the slightest indication that he intended to print only 1,000,000 stamps by the steelengraving process. It was then that he ought to have been frank. Stamps have no special interest for me, except as I might like one or two to give to children, but I think that the Postmaster-General has made a mistake. I know that he had no intention of getting any advantage for himself or his friends, hut there has been a lack of frankness, for which I am sorry.
– I had, perhaps, better tell the House the history of these stamps. - Some time ago designs were called for an Australian stamp to replace the stamps of the various States. The kangaroo design was chosen, but it was not the design that won the first prize. I thought that the design that had won the first prize was a better design, and when I came into office I inquired whether it could be used. The designer said that he did not think that any one in this country could engrave the steel plates needed to reproduce it, and that a good stamp could not be obtained in any other way. I ascertained, however, that the engraver of our bank notes is one of the most expert stamp engravers in the world. He engraved most of the stamps used by the British Government, and has engraved stamps for other countries as well. I saw him, and he said that he would be very pleased to cut a die and to engrave the necessary plates, but that the design needed modification to bring it within the compass of a stamp. He modified the design accordingly, made a die, and engraved the plates. The finest stamps in the world are those that have been printed from steel-engraved plates. I thought that Australia should have a stamp which was as well engraved as the stamps of other leading nations, such as the United States of America. The engraver told me that, with a Hoe machine, he could produce 1,000,000 a week. I asked the Treasury Department to allow him to do this, but the Department objected, saying that the Commonwealth Stamp Printer was producing the stamps of the kangaroo design, using what is known as the electro process, and that there was not the necessary machinery for printing stamps by the steel-plate process. After a great deal of trouble, however, the Treasurer let me have 1,000,000 stamps printed with a machine that is being used for the printing of bank notes. I made no bargain with any one - neither with the public nor the stamp dealers - as to the limitation of the issue to 1,000,000. All I stated was that the first 1,000,000 stamps issued would be steel-engraved. If the Postal Department had the machinery - which it has not, the control of the printing of stamps being in the hands of the Treasury - we should continue printing from the plates. The Treasury Department has purchased two more Hoe machines, but I am informed that they will be used all through the coming year for the printing of notes, because at pre-, sent the notes cannot be printed fast enough. There would be no difficulty in getting the stamps printed if we had the necessary machinery. I propose to keep the die and the plates. There has been no bargain with philatelists or others to limit the issue to 1,000,000. The stamps were not issued by the Department for the purpose of making money. There was no premium charged. The man who bought a stamp, a philatelist, or any one else, got the value for his penny. . I was not keen to see any one making a corner in these stamps, and retailing them to stamp collectors. I understand there are exactly 1,000,000 stamp collectors in the world, so that if each got one of these first million, there would be just enough to go round. The Leader of the Opposition said recently that it would cost £5,000 or £6,000 to print these stamps by the steel-engraving process. The actual extra cost of printing them is £420 per hundred million.
– I said the stamps would cost that amount altogether. How many do you issue each year?
– About 550 million stamps of all classes. The issue of Jd. stamps is very close to that of the Id. stamp, probably in the proportion of three to five, but stamps of higher values are not used to any great extent. With an issue of 550 million stamps per annum, there would probably be 300 million penny stamps issued, costing the Commonwealth £1,260 per annum above the cost of the ordinary electro-printed stamps. I do not think the people of Australia will grudge paying £1,260 a year to have a stamp that is a credit to the Commonwealth. Philatelists are good judges as to the quality and value of a stamp, and they give credit to any country that issues a good one. In the United States there are six different variations of red for the stamp that corresponds with our penny stamp. Any tinge of red is authorized by the Berne Convention. I would like to issue some of these penny stamps with’ a crimson colour. I had a few printed in that colour; but, seeing that the Treasury would only allow us to have 1,000,000, I took the best I could get. If I had my own way we should have nothing but engraved stamps in circulation, and not what are known as utility stamps. I do not think the Department has done anything unfair, either to the philatelists or the public. I was aware that there would be a rush for the first issue of 1,000,000 stamps, and therefore I tried to keep them out of the hands of stamp dealers, and make a fair distribution to the public. That is why I issued the order that no person could buy more than six at a time.
.- I do not think that the Postmaster-General has answered the point that I raised. He has been arguing that a steel-engraved stamp is better than what I term the ordinary utility stamp. I admit that it is. It is only a question of pounds, shillings, and pence, whether the Government issue a utility stamp or a steel-engraved stamp, though I understand from the Postmaster-General that it costs more to issue a steel-engraved stamp. I consider the estimate of £420 per 100 million stamps rather low, but we can accept it, and it is merely a question of whether that £420 is money well spent in having a steel-engraved stamp. To have a steel-engraved stamp may be better, but it certainly does not bring a single penny of additional revenue to the Post. Office, and it is a question of the Postmaster-General, or the Treasurer, or the Government, or Parliament, saying whether that extra money shall be spent in order to issue a better stamp. I would like an assurance from the PostmasterGeneral that in future he will not issue stamps of any design, whether they be steel-engraved or utility stamps, unless he intends to go on issuing that particular design for that particular stamp. We understand from him that he is now somewhat in a dilemma, inasmuch as the Trensury have prevented him from doing what he desires to do.
– I suppose the “kangaroo “ design is to go for the twopenny stamp. Will the Postmaster-General have a new design in that case?
– All those will be what you call “ utility “ stamps. They will be electro-printed.
– I am satisfied with, the assurance of the Postmaster-General that he does not intend in future to issue any stamps unless he has the statement from his officers that they can go on issuing them ad lib. I am sure the honorable gentleman would Be sorry to see the Post Office merely playing into the hands of philatelists.
– We have not done so. I was anxious for the credit of Australia to have one really good engraved stamp on the market, and I would like to continue issuing it.
– I am with the PostmasterGeneral in that desire. He does not wish to issue a stamp merely for the sake of philatelists buying them up. If he had not issued the order, when he was issuing his new stamp, that no one could get more than six stamps at a time, there are firms in the world who would have been willing to buy up the whole million.
– That is whatI thought, and what I was afraid of.
– Decidedly. That is my point.If you send out a limited issue the stamps get into the hands of philatelists. Some South American Republics like that sort of thing, as there is a certain profit in it, but we in Australia have not come to that. I spent a couple of very pleasant hours with a State Governor who takes a keen interest in philately, and he showed me a stamp with a market value of £50, though its face value was probably not more than twopence. There happened to be some little flaw discovered in the stamp when the first fifty were issued, and the issue was recalled, so that those fifty became very valuable.
-One Queensland stamp is very valuable because “ Queensland “ is spelt “ Qoeensland.”
– I think I have seen in one of the papers that the King paid £1,400 for a Mauritius penny stamp. However, we have the assurance of the Postmaster-General .
– He has not given any yet.
– I am not arguing whether the stamps should be steelengraved or “utility.” My point is that, whatever the design is, there should be no possibility of the public having the slightest idea that only a limited number of that particular issue is to be made available.
– There was no such statement.
– Then why did the Postmaster-General say that no more than six would be sold to each person? When the “ kangaroo” stamp was issued there was nothing said about any person being unable to buy more than six.
– Because they were printed as fast as they could be turned out. I issued the new stamps immediately I could get them.
– But immediately the public got the idea that there was to be a limited number, there was a “ corner.”
– There should have been no “ corner.” I said that the balance of the stamps would not be issued until we could go straight on with them.
– Was the issue limited to 1,000,000 ?
– There was no limit to 1,000,000. As a matter of fact, more than 1,000,000 were printed.
– If the PostmasterGeneral makes that statement public, my stock of these stamps will go down in value.
– I think the PostmasterGeneral should be frank on the point.
– I am frank. I was promised 1,000,000; but the Treasurer printed about 150,000 more.
– The idea was that there was to be only 1,000,000 issued.
– I made no promise about 1,000,000. I said that all I could get printed was 1,000,000. If they would only allow me to go on printing the stamp, I would have more out tomorrow.
– I can only hope that in’ future there will be no question of limiting an issue.
– It was never thought of ; at any rate, not by me.
– The PostmasterGeneral can see how matters have been brought about. I was passing the General Post Office on the morning these stamps were first issued, and the place was rushed, because there were quite a number of people who had an idea that this was to be a limited issue.
– How could they get that impression ? All that was said was that the first issue would be steelengraved. The inference was that there would be more..
– It was the honorable member for Parkes who said that the Postmaster-General would be breaking faith with the public if more than 1,000,000 steel-engraved stamps were issued. The mere fact that a person could not buy more that sixpennyworth gave that impression, rightly or wrongly. I have never heard of a limit being placed on any particular issue of stamps in Australia previously. Has the honorable member for Perth heard of any PostmasterGeneral announcing an issue of stamps, and a person asking for a shilling’s worth not being able to get more than sixpennyworth ?
– I did not gather any impression that the issue was to be limited.
– There was a time when post-offices would issue a particular stamp for a particular purpose. When the present Prime Minister was PostmasterGeneral in New South Wales, and money was required for a certain hospital, he issued a very beautiful1d. stamp for1s., and a 2½d. stamp for 2s. 6d. The difference between the1d. and the 1s. and between the 2½d. and the 2s. 6d. went to the hospital. I do not think the issue was a great success, because philatelists will not put stamps of that kind in their collections; they will collect only stamps legitimately issued for postage purposes. In this particular case there must have been an impression somewhere that the issue was to be restricted, probably arising from the statement of the Postmaster-General that no one could get more than six. This is the first time they were issued, and I hope, the matter having been brought before the PostmasterGeneral, that such a thing will never occur again in Australia.
Question resolved in the negative.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral’s Department yet prepared to receive applications for wireless telegraph stations, and will the charges for the use of wireless telegraphy approximate to the existing charges for telegrams?
– We are quite willing to receive applications for the stations; and, as far as possible, the Department will inspect the sites to see that they are suitable. The idea is to erect ‘ wireless stations ahead of the existing telegraph lines. I cannot say at present’ what the rates will be. It will depend on the cost of running the stations. I do not want to run them at a loss.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral inquire whether the report of the Registrar of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration has yet been sent in ? If not, will he ascertain when it will be received ?
– I will ascertain the facts from the Attorney-General, and let the honorablemember Have the answer.
In Committee ( Consideration resumed from 17th December, vide page 4653).
Clause 2 -
There shall be a bureau of agriculture, to be called the Australian Bureau of Agriculture.
.- I desire to offer a few observations regarding the character and scope of this measure, which aims at carrying out certain functions which it will be very difficult for the Federal Parliament to carry out without the co-operation of the States.
– Our powers are largely limited by constitutional restrictions.
– That is a matter to be argued out hereafter, but I regret that the States- were not . consulted before a Bureau of Agriculture Bill was brought before the House. It was said by the Prime Minister, who introduced the Bill, and by many of those who have given it very enthusiastic support, that the bureau is created to do something that the States are not already doing. The States are making investigations on the scientific and research side as well as on the practical side. I believe most of that work can be better carried out in a Federal Department, but it would have been best to consult the States in order to induce them, if possible, to relinquish some of their important functions to the Federal Agricultural Bureau. It is not possible for the Federal Department to undertake experiments on an extensive scale throughout Australia without the States co-operating with it by placing land at its disposal. We are hampered in that important direction. It has been constantly stated that the Bureau of Agriculture in the United States has been carrying out very great functions. We know it has, because it has enormous powers of administration. The reason is that in the, early days of Federation in the United States, after the first nine States federated, the whole of the public estate became the property of the Federal Parliament, with the exception of territory in Texas, which came in afterwards. In fact, in the whole of the States which afterwards came into the Union, now numbering nearly fifty, the public estate became absolutely the property of the Federal Government. The result was that they instituted a Department of Agriculture, not only to carry out research work throughout the United States, but also to do important administrative work which is now carried out here by the States in connexion with their inspection laws, by the Railway Department to a large extent in the construction of new railways, and by the Water Supply Departments in the building of large dams.
– Why was not this speech delivered on the second reading ?
– I am dealing only with the scope of the Department - a question which is opened up by this clause. I believe that scope should have been broadened, and even the third clause cannot be given full effect to unless the States are prepared to relinquish important administrative powers.
– Why condemn the. Bill ?
– I am not condemning the Bill; I am prepared to support it. I represent a constituency which is vitally interested in this important question, and I am not going to be deprived of my right to speak. I hope the Bill will become law this session, but I trust at the same time that the Government, before they create a new Department, and incur new expenditure, will at once enter into communication with the various State Governments, in order to make this a thoroughly effective Bureau of Agriculture - a bureau that will take over hot only the research work carried out by the States at present, but also certain administrative work now done by them. I have travelled all over Australia as a member of the Fruit Commission, and the question of uniform inspection is, I know, of vital importance. That is a function which might be undertaken by the Bureau of Agriculture. There is also the question of the export of produce-, such as butter and fruit, and other perishable products. These are matters that could be brought under uniform inspection and uniform laws. There is a conflict of opinion throughout Australia respecting the class of fruit that should be sent to the different parts of the world. We cannot get two officers to agree on a definition of sound fruit.
– The honorable member is going beyond the scope of the clause.
– Before this can be made a thoroughly effective bureau, the States must relinquish some of their powers.
– Unless that is done, we shall be merely piling up the expenditure for no good purpose.
– We are not justified in piling up. the expenses before every effort has been made to get the States to relinquish some of their functions. If the States point blank refuse to do so, it will be the duty of this Parliament to exercise its constitutional functions in order to carry out work of an Australian character. The Government must enter into serious and close negotiations with the States in order to obtain for the bureau the power to regulate the export of produce, and create a uniform system of inspection. We also want the States to hand over, to a largeextent, to the Federal Parliament that valuable experimental and research work which is- being carried out in every State Agricultural Department. Some of the finest experiments in regard to wheatgrowing have been carried out by the States in South Australia and Victoria. I believe that by co-ordinating the work, and having a uniform character of literature issued from the one Department for the whole of Australia, we can minimize the expenditure and do even better work. This is the proper Parliament to exercise research and experimental functions. We are piling up expenditure, and additional expenditure will be incurred by the creation of this Department. Duplication is going on in all directions. It occurs in the compilation of statistics, the making of land tax valuations, and in other matters where we should be able to avoid it. I say at once that we should pass this Bill, because the Federal Bureau of Agriculture can do much of the work to be allotted to it better than can any
State Department. But it will be necessary for the Government to confer with the States, with the object of inducing them to relinquish some of the more important functions which their Departments of Agriculture are now individually exercising, in order that unnecessary expenditure may be avoided, and the success of the bureau thoroughly assured. I hope that before the Bill is brought into operation the Government will do their best to induce the States to hand over to the. Federal Bureau certain functions which it can exercise quite as economically as any State Department, and far more effectively from the point of view of Australia as a whole.
.- The honorable member for Oxley was called to order last night for declaring that the Government were not sincere in their desire to push on with this Bill. Had he gone into its history he could have shown that, on 4th September last, the AddressinReply to the Governor-General’s speech, and the want-of-confidence motion following upon it, were disposed of, and that on the following day this Bill was introduced. It was the first Bill to be introduced by this Government, and it has remained on the business-paperever since.
– A similar Bill was on the stocks when the Fisher Government took office, but they dropped it.
– We had to deal with more important work, and I am glad to say that we got a lot of it out of the way. We passed legislation which we considered to be more important than is this measure, and, notwithstanding the Government and their majority, not one line of that legislation has been repealed. Had we remained in office this Bill would have been introduced, and I undertake to say that it would not have been left on the stocks, but would have been carried. The honorable member for Wannon said that the bureau was designed to teach the agriculturists how to make two blades of grass grow where only one had grown before. It seems to me that this Bill is to do something more; that it is designed to make two carrots grow where only one grew before, and that these carrots are to be dangled before the eyes “of country electors, whom honorable members opposite wish to gull.
– What authority has the honorable member for the statement that if the late Government had introduced this Bill they would have passed it?
– I bave only to point to the fact that we passed every measure that we introduced. We passed even the Navigation Bill, which had been allowed by successive Liberal Governments to remain on the stocks for eight years. I agree with the ‘ honorable member for Wimmera that the Government should confer with the States with a view of avoiding any overlapping.
– That is contemplated under clause 4.
– We have had no definite statement on the point from any member of the Government. In the absence of the Minister of Trade and Customs, this Bill was introduced by the Prime Minister. At the close of his speech, I, as ex-Minister of Trade and Customs - and the Department of Trade and Customs will have to administer this measure - asked for the adjournment of the debate in order that I might have an opportunity to study his remarks. It was a perfectly fair request, but the Prime Minister objected that the Government were going to push on at once with the Bill. They have pushed on with it so rapidly that on this, the last day of the session, it remains unpassed. Honorable members opposite have complained that duplication takes place in connexion with the preparation of Federal and State statistics, and in making land valuations for Federal, State, and municipal taxation purposes. They have urged that the States should be asked to assist us in our desire to avoid any overlapping in connexion with the Federal Bureau of Agriculture by handing over to the Commonwealth certain powers now exercised by them. Are they likely to do so?
– We ought to try them.
– As an ex-Minister of Trade and Customs, I have had some ex- i perience of the attitude of the States in this regard, and so have the present Minister and the honorable member for Kooyong. The Commerce Act,’ for instance, ^ provides that all goods leaving or entering ‘‘Australia shall comply with certain standards. We have ‘undisputed’ power to deal with oversea commerce, but the States objected to this legislation.
– They are now cooperating.
– Simply because we have undoubted power to determine what standards shall be adopted. The Minister knows, however, that the States would not agree to some of our Commerce Act standards, and objected to carry out for us inspectional work under that Act.
– There was objection, for instance, in regard to the percentage of moisture allowed in butter for export.
– We adopted the Victorian standard, which was 15 per cent. ; but the State Governments objected when we applied that standard to butter for export. They said, in effect, “ We shall have one standard for butter to be consumed by our own people, and another standard for butter to be used oversea.” Then, again, I would remind’ the Committee of what happened in connexion with our decision to inspect meat for export, because of the trouble that had arisen oversea with regard to the presence of nodules in beef. It was absolutely necessary that something should be done,, and at our request Professor Gilruth undertook certain work, which could not. have been done better even if this Bureau had been established.
– I thought that investigations were being made at the Institute of Tropical Diseases, in Townsville.
– The investigations arebeing continued by that Institute. I think we are all in favour of steps beingtaken to rid our beef of nodules. In order to get our beef into the British market, it is necessary to remove practically the entire brisket; and somethinglike 70 lbs. of meat out of every carcasshas to be sent to the. digesters, where it isconverted into tallow. The State most vitally interested in this matter objected, to its inspectors acting for us, and the Commonwealth had to appoint inspectorsof its own. In all the other States the work is being done by State officers, and the Commonwealth is paying “for- their services. Unless the Government can arrange to avoid overlapping, I am afraid’, that this ‘bureau will prove ‘a “very’ costly one. Money will flow like water down a. hill- in connexion with research work.
– The annual expenditure is limited to £5,000.
– That amount was placed on this year’s Estimates, but the Bill itself imposes no limitation on the expenditure of the bureau. We should have been told by the Prime Minister, or the Minister of Trade and Customs, what is to be the work of the Bureau.
– I said last night that research work would be its first object.
– Similar to that which is now being carried on in the States?
– It may be done in one or two States, but not all over Australia.
– As far back as 1907, the question of bitter pit first engaged my attention, but nothing was done by the -Commonwealth until I appointed Mr. McAlpine to investigate it, and the Fisher Government placed on the Estimates a sum of money for the purpose. The States unanimously asked that this should be done, and said in effect, “ We -will find £1,000 if you will find another £1,000.”
– That is evidence of cooperation.
– Yes, and we hoped that the movement would be successful. This is one of the matters that would have come within the purview of the Bureau of Agriculture if a bureau had been in existence. Since Professor Gilruth went into the question of the worm nodules certain investigations in connexion with diseases have been carried out at the Institution of Tropical Medicine at Townsville. By the way, the worm nodule is more unsightly than harmful.
– It was the American Trust that spread the rumour that it was harmful.
– Quite so. The disease of bitter pit is of extreme importance so far as orchardists are concerned. The Bureau of Agriculture of the United “States has spent about 500,000 dollars trying to find some remedy for this disease, but they have been unsuccessful.
– Extensive experiments have been made in Victoria regarding it.
– The honorable member for Wannon asked me whether any laboratory work is being done, and, in reply, I have to say that, at the Customs House, “Melbourne, there is one of the finest la boratories in Australia, under the charge of Mr. Wilkinson, who, as an analyst, can hold his own anywhere. I do not believe in decrying Australians simply because they are Australians.
– He has administrative duties as well.
– No. His work is purely that of the laboratory; and it would be well if honorable members, who are interested, visited this institution, which is one of the most up to date in the world. It has only recently been built, and advantage was taken of experience gained elsewhere. I take it that when the Bureau of Agriculture is instituted it will take over certain of the work now being done by the Commerce Branch, and also some of the work now being carried on at Townsville.
– We shall also avail ourselves of the results of the investigations carried on at the universities, whose trouble is lack of funds and officers.
– In regard to the worm nodules, there has been done work which could not have proved more effective in any part of the world.
– We shall be able to set aside an officer to generally supervize, and he can co-operate with the authorities of the different State institutions.
– As has been said, research work is carried on at certain of the universities in connexion with bitter pit; and we have had the advantage of the services of Professor Hewitt, Dr. White and Dr. Sweet. However, unless the States are prepared to make available to us all the information they have gathered, the result of this measure will be simply duplication of work.
– There will be no unnecessary duplication.
– If the States are not prepared to do as I have suggested, we shall make a mistake in passing this Bill before there has been some kind of conference.
– Does the honorable member not think that we ought to deal with the referenda proposals before we proceed further with this Bill?
– Quite so, but I desire to pay a tribute to men who are not here to-day, but who had much to. do with -the original proposal to institute a Bureau of Agriculture. The question was first raised in June, 1901, about six weeks after the Federal Parliament met, by Sir John Quick, then the member for.Bendigo.
– I think the question was raised earlier than that by some candidates during the election campaign.
– I am speaking of what has been done in this Parliament. Sir John Quick pointed out that not only he, but the late Mr. Groom, father of the Minister of Trade and Customs, and Mr. Deakin had advocated a bureau during the elections. In the House, Sir John Quick was followed by Mr. Isaacs - who had taken a keen interest in the question - Mr. Kennedy, Senator McColl, and, I think, Mr. Sydney Smith, who had been Minister for Agriculture in New South Wales.
– And by the present Prime Minister.
– I do not think that the present Prime Minister spoke on that occasion, though he did support the suggestion by way of interjection. Many honorable members at that time contemplated not merely a bureau, but a Department of Agriculture.
– Is this bureau not a good mustard seed to begin with ?
– Yes, but I am anxious that the money should not be wasted in duplication of effort. We know that there is no limit to the expenditure when scientific men begin research with the knowledge that the public purse is behind them. Of course, in many cases, the money is spent most effectively.
– There is no limit to the good that can be done in this way.
– I grant that, but, at the same time, there is no limit, I shall not say to the waste, but to the expenditure. I think we are making a good start, but there should certainly be some arrangement made with the States to prevent duplication.
– The success or failure of this Bill will largely depend on the cordial co-operation of the Commonwealth and the States; and it would be deplorable if that cooperation were absent. The vast possibilities of a Bureau of Agriculture cannot be fully realized, even in a discussion such as this. The Bureau of the United States is an object lesson which shows what can be done by concentrated research, particularly in regard to agriculture. There the expenditure is something like £3,750,000 per annum on scientific research work, and some of the reports issued are of the utmost value to the whole world.
– It is said that the United States Bureau has increased the value of the corn crop by £1,000,000 a year.
– A great deal will depend on the way in which the Bill is administered. We have first to secure the services of the very best men, quite irrespective of cost.
– Is it not better that the institution, like Topsy, should grow?
– I think it is desirable that the Bureau should grow gradually, but there ought to be at least two or three of the very best men engaged at once. In the Mother Country, where something like£500,000 per annum is spent in this connexion, the principle adopted is to endow universities and intrust special work to selected professors. There has been a marvellous metamorphosis, almost startling in its character, in regard to methods of agriculture. The rule of reason is supplanting the rule of thumb; and any country, such as our own, which looks forward to vast cereal exports must avail itself of the highest scientific knowledge of the day. My only reason for rising to-day, however, is to refer to the remarks of the honorable member for Bendigo, who raised some doubts as to the constitutionality of the measure With those doubts I personally do not agree.
Sitting suspended from. 1.0 to 2.30p.m.
– If the arguments of the honorable member for Bendigo are sound, we are wasting time in discussing this measure, because he seems to have grave doubt as to the power of the Commonwealth to make appropriations for the purposes of an Agricultural Bureau. I asked him whether, as a lawyer of experience, he would take the responsibility of stating the opinion that the Commonwealth has no power to do this but he would not say yes. Consequently his expression of doubt was a mere beating of the air. But we have the right to satisfy ourselves that what we are proposing to do is constitutional, and therefore I shall proceed to examine the honorable member’s suggestion. He argues that the Commonwealth’s powers of appropriation are shut down to the purposes set forth in section 51 of the Constitution. If that were so, we should be in a serious position so far as the State exigencies which from time to time arise are concerned. In support of his view the honorable member said that our Constitution is more limited in this respect than that of America. There are two replies to be made to him. The first is that I claim we have a general constitutional power of appropriation, altogether apart from the provisions of section 51; and the second that we have also an incidental power contained in that section. As to the general power of appropriation, section 81 provides that -
All revenues or moneys raised or received bv the Executive Government of the Commonwealth shall form one Consolidated Revenue Fund, to be appropriated for the purposes of the Commonwealth in the manner and subject to the charges and liabilities imposed by this Constitution.
My honorable friend may suggest that the words “ for the purposes of the Commonwealth “ are limited by the words “ in the manner and subject to the charges and liabilities imposed by this Constitution.” They are limited in this way to some extent: When it says that the revenues of the Commonwealth may be appropriated “for the purposes of the Commonwealth in the manner and subject to the charges and liabilities imposed by this Constitution,” that, I think, means that our measures must be originated and appropriated in accordance, for instance, with such provisions as sections 53, 54, 55, 56, and 83, and that regard must be had to the charges imposed on the revenue, such charges, for instance, as the payments to the States under the Braddon provision. We have general powers of appropriation so long as the appropriation is made in accordance with the method provided by the Constitution and subject to its charges and liabilities. That view is supported by all the leading American authorities, and in this connexion the American Constitution is practically the same as our own. The Minister of Trade and Customs, in a memorandum issued by him in reference to this measure, on behalf of the Government of which I was a member, drew attention to a wellknown passage in Story on The American Constitution -
Appropriations have never been limited by Congress to cases falling within the specific powers enumerated in the Constitution, whether those powers be construed in their broad or their narrow sense.
If we assume for the purposes of the argument that the two Constitutions are identical, we have this unqualified statement of undoubted authority on the subject. But there is a later authority. Willoughby, dealing with the power of Congress to appropriate moneys, says -
A parity of reasoning would seem to provide the principle that, inasmuch as taxes must be for a public purpose, an appropriation of the proceeds of taxes should be for a public purpose . . . and, as regards the restriction that appropriations shall be in aid of enterprises which the Federal Government is empowered to undertake, the doctrine has become an established one that Congress may appropriate money in aid of matters which the Federal Government is not constitutionally able to administer and regulate.
No words could be stronger or more specific than those. Dealing with a paper entitled Views of the President of the United States on the subject of internal improvements, submitted .in connexion with his veto by President Monroe, Willoughby says -
The constitutional grant to Congress of the power “ to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States “ he very correctly argues does not operate to vest in the general Government any additional powers of control, but solely to authorize that Government to raise revenues and to appropriate money to the purposes specified. These purposes, however, he maintains, are broad enough to enable Congress to appropriate money in aid of enterprises which the general Government cannot undertake or directly control.
The two authorities I have quoted establish beyond doubt the general power of appropriation for which I am contending. The ho’norable member for Bendigo endeavours to meet this argument by con- tending that the powers of the American. Constitution are wider than those of our Constitution. I differ from him. The American Constitution may be somewhat wider in respect of eminent domain, but, broadly and generally, our Constitution is, if anything, the wider. The eighth clause of the American Constitution empowers Congress - to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States. :Chat is a limited power of taxation; but our Constitution contains no such limitations. Section 51 provides that -
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to . . .
Taxation ; but so as. not to discriminate between States or parts of States.
We have an unqualified power of taxation so long as we do not discriminate, but the power of Congress is limited by the words that I have read. The honorable member for Bendigo suggested, as honorable members understood - though, I am sure, he did not mean it literally - that the Constitution of the United States of America specifically provided the power of appropriating for the general welfare. I say that there is jio such provision in the Constitution of the United States of America.
– Do you not think there is a limitation to those words, “general welfare of the .community “ ?
– There is; but by our Constitution we are not limited by words of the kind. We have complete power in that connexion, whereas the words in the Constitution of the United States of America imply a limitation. But the point I was trying to make was that, in order to get over the fact that there is already in existence in the United States of America a vast Bureau of Agriculture, and in order to get over the authorities to which I have referred, and the fact that, for exigencies of State, it is a most common and ordinary thing for the Congress to appropriate for agricultural and other, what we might call outside, purposes, the honorable member for Bendigo said that the Constitution of the United States of America was wider than ours, and provided that appropriation might be made for the general welfare of the community. There is no such specific term in the Constitution of the United States of America. The general welfare provision is only included in the power of taxation, the power to appropriate for the general welfare necessarily being a corollary. However, there is a limitation in the Constitution of the United States of America. Of the two Constitutions ours is the wider in this regard. I think I have made it clear that, first of all, under our Constitution, we have a general power of appropriation.
My next argument is that we have also the incidental power which is also in the Constitution of the United States of America. It will be observed that a number of powers are mentioned under section 51 of our Constitution. Sub-section XXXIX. of section 51 deals with matters incidental. The provision reads -
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to - (XXXIX.) Matters incidental to the execution of any power vested by this Constitution in the Parliament, or in either House thereof, or in the Government of the Commonwealth, or in the Federal Judicature, or in any department or officer of the Commonwealth.
We have, therefore, full and complete incidental powers to deal with all the subjects set out in section 51 - trade and commerce with other countries and among the States, quarantine matters, and so forth. The Minister of Trade and Customs, in the memorandum to which I have referred, very succinctly set down our present constitutional powers contained in section 51, in regard to which we have all the incidental powers of jurisdiction and legislation, and on page 7 of that memorandum the powers of the Commonwealth, with regard to the establishment of a Bureau of Agriculture, are capably summarized as follows:–.
Moreover, the power to organize such a Department is incidental to the grant of the various specific powers under the Constitution. Under section 51, sub-section (i.), Parliament under its powers of trade and commerce may appoint officers to inspect both imports and exports of agricultural products and stock. Under subsection (iii.), Parliament may grant bounties on the production or export of goods, and accordingly may appoint expert officers to give advice as to the growth and production of various agricultural and pastoral products. In pursuance of the power to deal with Quarantine (sub-section ix.), expert officers must of necessity be appointed. Under its Navigation law, the Commonwealth -may make provision for the regulation of the carriage of stock, and may also. deal with other matters of a similar nature. The power to deal with meteorology includes the power to furnish special reports for the use of those engaged in the primary industries (subsection viii.); and under. the Post and Telegraph and Telephone Services (sub-section v.) the means of distributing this information are under the control of Parliament. Moreover, in the power to deal with mail contracts the Commonwealth may make provision for such matters as cold storage. The officers appointed to the Statistical Department (sub-section xi.) may collect information dealing with production and land settlement; and under sub-section (xxvii.) the power to deal with immigration implies the power to collect and furnish all such information of the industries of Australia as may be of assistance to induce immigrants to come to Australia. The power to leal with External Affairs (sub-section xxix.) enables the Commonwealth to appoint agents abroad who may act on behalf of the primary producers of the Commonwealth. Moreover, in connexion with the power to deal with Customs and Excise, necessary officers may be appointed to furnish such advice and information as may be required. Finally, the Commonwealth has complete power to legislate for territories under its control.
Possessed of all these different powers, the Commonwealth may organize the members of the Public Service into a department and utilize their services on behalf of those engaged in the primary industries of Australia.
I agree with that summary of our incidental powers, and I invite honorable members to closely examine the Bill, and they will find it does no more than cover these. Even adopting the argument of the honorable member for Bendigo, that we are confined to the powers within section 51, the enumerated incidental powers, to which I have referred make it quite clear that the proposed functions to be delegated to the Bureau of Agriculture are all incidental powers to the enumerated powers given to the Commonwealth by section 51. I hope I have made it clear to honorable members that there are two answers to the contention of the honorable member for Bendigo. Firstly, our general power of appropriation; secondly, under section 51, the incidental powers to the enumerated powers set forth under that section.
– The honorable member has given us a long address as to our constitutional powers and rights. I do not think it is the first time I have heard the honorable member on these questions. So far as I am able to understand it, the honorable member’s contention is that, in regard to section 81, which gives general powers of appropriation, all we have to do is to pass a Bill for some particular matter, and then we are empowered to appropriate the necessary sum of money to cover the expenditure entailed by the measure.
– How did you justify the maternity appropriation?
– I shall come to that later. I understand the contention of the honorable member for Kooyong to be this: that if we pass a Bill for a cer tain purpose, we are entitled to appropriate moneys to carry out that purpose. That is to say, we have full powers of appropriation. If the contention of the honorable member is correct, then there was no need for the late Government to bring down their referenda proposals, because all that was sought to be done under their Bills could have been done without any amendment of the Constitution, and we could have made the necessary appropriation to carry them out. As for the maternity bonus, it is recognised that we had the power to give away the£5 for a specific purpose; but the weakness of the matter was that we had no power to deal with the details of it. I did not hear what the honorable member for Bendigo said, but, as he is most cautious in giving opinions, I have no doubt that he had good reasons for what he said, and that what he said was right.
– He did not express any opinion on the matter.
-I can understand his taking up that attitude towards such a subtle matter, but the honorable member for Kooyong left the impression that he had stated clearly that the Bill before us was unconstitutional. However, I did not rise to deal with that question. Honorable members opposite profess to be very anxious to have this Bill passed; more particularly the honorable member for Wimmera ; yet when the honorable member rose to speak, the first words he uttered were to regret that the Government had not consulted the States, and later on he regretted that the States had not been taken into the confidence of the Government. He also mentioned a number of things upon which the States should have been consulted. If one-tenth of what the honorable member for Wimmera said is correct, the Bill should not pass; but I am not prepared to go as far as the honorable member. I think such a Bill as this should be of considerable value to the people of the Commonwealth. In a country like Australia we cannot have too much research. Another “ farmer’s representative,” the honorable member for Kooyong, said that the agricultural industry was probably of more importance than any other; but there are other industries which seemed to be brushed aside by farmers’ representa- tives - big industries which the Bill will benefit very materially, and which are just as important as agriculture. I refer particularly to the cattle and sheep industries. Research work is necessary for those industries. While I admit that agriculture is of very great importance, the cattle and sheep business is also important, if not in one sense, more important.
– The output for 1911 for agriculture was worth £38,700,000, and for the pastoral industry, £50,725,000.
– Those figures show the importance of the pastoral industry. A good deal of research work is required in connexion with’ cattle, notably as to tick and other diseases, while the sheep fly, and other troubles that affect sheep should be inquired into. Coming down to bedrock, agriculture is the most important because the cities could not exist without it. I regret that the honorable member for Wimmera did not allow this Bill to pass this morning. It should have been through by now, if honorable members had really desired to pass it. It has merely been thrown on the table of the House with a sort of intimation to honorable members that they can have a good time with it. If that is the idea that the Government have of dealing with this very important measure, it is a very wrong one. The way the Department of Agriculture in the “United States is carried on sets an example to the world. I have seen a number of the specimen copies and little packets ofseeds that they send out to Australia. All they require from whoever gets a packet is a little note to say how he succeeded in the production of the plants. They keep, I understand, an accurate record of results. To show how important this Department of Research is, or what is thought of it in other countries, I may mention that when travelling, I met a doctor who had been out in Australia for some considerable time. While here, he collected no less than 23,000 different specimens of Australian insects- bugs, as the Americans call them - for scientific purposes. We have done nothing of that kind in Australia. Many other countries have better collections of Australian specimens of this kind than we have ourselves. All these things will have a very material effect upon future developments in relation to pests.In the circumstances, this Department, if properly carried on, can be of great benefit throughout Australia, but . I deprecate very much this attempt to belittle what is being done on many of our agricultural farms and colleges. They are doing splendid work, and I should regret it very much if this Bill were to interfere with them to any extent. I do not know whether the different institutions are going to be allowed to overlap. If so, it will not be a good thing. There may be some matter that affects the whole of the States, and, in such circumstances, it would probably be best to have it investigated by the Federal authorities. There are conditions in Queensland, particularly North Queensland, that are totally different from those in other parts of Australia. That work would be better done locally than we could ever hope to do it in Melbourne, or at the Federal Capital. It is only of late years that the fly among sheep in Queensland has become so bad. A few years ago it was never heard of.
– It is found everywhere.
– Yes; but it was never known before in Queensland. It is not so bad in North Queensland as it is in the southern part of that State or in New South Wales and Victoria. We know the damage the tick pest caused a few years ago, and now we are led to believe that, after all, it is not the tick, but a parasite on the tick, that caused all the red water and other trouble which led to the loss of so many cattle in the northern part of Queensland at that time. These are things that can be inquired into. It was known for years before we had any real disease that the tick existed in the Northern Territory. Look at the amount of money spent in Queensland on the tick business. I think Mr. Pound is still retained there in connexion with that and other matters.
– He is one of the best trained experts in Australia.
– He is one of the best. To show the amount of money spent in relation to tick, a Commissioner was sent to Texas and other parts of America and to Africa in order to try to find a remedy. It might be Letter for the Commonwealth to undertake all that sort of work, which should be done on the spot if possible. Another subject for investigation is the grub which appears in the cane in Queensland. I do not think it has been found even in the northern portion of New South Wales, and certainly not to any great extent in the southern part of Queensland. The bureau can do good work, especially where specific conditions require special inquiry. That work can be better done on the spot than from any central office. I hope, whatever is done in relation to the Bureau of Agriculture, that it will not be confined merely to experiment* in the central office, because, if it is, it will be of very little use. No doubt a kind of museum of specimens will be kept in the central office.
-One idea may be to train experts to make investigations in certain industries. The greatest difficulty is being experienced in England at present to get trained experts.
– That is the difficulty we are going to experience here, not merely because the trained expert cannot be obtained for one particular branch, but owing to the fact that the Australian climate varies from the tropic down to the temperate zone. AH these climatic and geological variations have a tendency to affect stock or plant life in different ways. We must be very careful in the circumstances; but the Bill will involve the expenditure of a large sum of money.
– The following appeared in the recent report on the English Development Act of 1909: - “The number of men really qualified to conduct agricultural research in this country is at present exceedingly small, and obviously can- not be increased at a moment’s notice.” That is the difficulty that stands in the way.
– That is doubly so in Australia. I should like to congratulate the honorable member for Wimmera upon his latest achievement in turning Unificationist. The whole tenor of his remarks to-day was to the effect that the Government deserved severe censure for not having consulted the States in all these matters, and that the whole business should be a matter of co-operation between the States and the Commonwealth. I thought that was one of the strongest arguments that could be used in favour of Unification.I trust that, when the honorable member goes amongst his intelligent electors, he will not regret his speech this morning.
– I will not have any hesitation in expressing the same opinions to them.
– I am glad the honorable member has stated clearly and distinctly that he is a Unificationist.
– I am not bound to accept the honorable member’s interpretation of my remarks.
– When the honorable member reads his speech to-morrow, he will very much regret that he ever made it, because that is undoubtedly the only interpretation that couldbe put on it. The Bill is a good and wise one, and when it is put into force I trust that the Government of the day will not stint the expenditure of money required for experts. We cannot have too many of them, and we should get the best we possibly can. If we are not prepared to do that, we should not go on with the Bill. I am sure that we shall always be prepared to pay a decent remuneration to those who are likely to serve the Commonwealth in this direction.
.- One would naturally expect that an Administration which from many public platforms has declared that it intends to restore responsible government and to institute a regime of sober finance would be prepared to put before us some facta as to the probable cost of the Bureau of Agriculture which they propose to establish. We find, however, that they are not ready to do so. Can the Minister of Trade and Customs, by way of interjection, tell us now, within£50,000, what expenditure the passing of this Bill will involve? The honorable gentleman remains silent. I suppose that, since he has a number of farmers in his electorate, he thinks it will be useful for him to be able to say that he was instrumental in the passing of a Bill to provide for a National Bureau of Agriculture. Before long, however, the farming, as well as every other section of the community, will pay greater attention to the question of high finance. We are too ready to spend millions of money without due regard to the taxpayers’ interest.
– Public money could not be spent on anything betterthan a National Bureau of Agriculture.
– Everything depends on whether or not the services to be supplied by the bureau are already being given to the people by State Departments. When I asked the Minister whether State services would not be duplicated he answered that my question was based upon inaccurate information. He has told us that we shall want only three or four experts; but, if I may adopt the language of the Prime Minister, I think there has been too much shuffling on his part. A paper which he presented to the House shows that the cost of the United States Bureau of Agriculture in 1905-6 was £1,435,198.
– It has grown more than threefold since then.
– It is most inspiring to read of the achievements of United States statesmen in various Departments, but we are entitled to have something like reasonable information as to the expenditure to which we shall commit the country if we pass this measure. The Bill having become law, the Government may appoint a scientist to organize the bureau, and, no doubt, he will not have very much regard to the question of cost. Most scientists are so wrapped up in their work that money with them is quite a secondary consideration. On the other hand, the Government may obtain the services of a man who is not so much a scientist as a financial expert, and the Prime Minister may tell him that all that is necessary at present is to appoint a couple of experts - one to deal with the prickly pear pest, and the other with bitter pit. But the bureau, having once been established, it will not be long before numerous appointments are made, and we shall find ourselves face to face with an expenditure of probably £100,000 per annum in connexion with it. In reply to the Minister’s statement that I was wrong in asserting that the Federal Bureau would duplicate work now being carried out by the State Departments, I would point out that in an official memorandum issued by him we have the statement -
The work” of Agricultural Departments may be divided broadly into three parts (a) regulative; (b) research; (<) educational……..
The series of lectures undertaken by the Slates might be supplemented bv addresses by the experts of the Commonwealth.
What does that mean? The Minister of Trade and Customs tells us in this memo randum, which was issued by him in May,. 1908, that the lectures which are being delivered by the State experts are to be supplemented by Commonwealth lectures. In other words, the fruit experts who give lectures in Queensland are to have their efforts supplemented by a Commonwealth expert; the State expert who is telling people how to grow cotton in Queensland is to have his efforts supplemented by a Federal cotton expert, and so on.
– I have just read that there have been general rains in Queensland.
– That is very satisfactory; but it does not absolve me from my responsibility as a member of this House. If the Prime Minister will agree to proceed at once with the motion relating to old-age pensions I will sit down.
– A rainfall of 3 inches.
– With characteristic obstinacy, the Prime Minister insists upon having his own way. I think it necessary to point out that he is proposingunder this Bill to override the States, and really to bring about the unification of various governmental powers in Australia. In his official memorandum, the Minister of Trade and Customs refers to the desirableness of establishing experimental stations. I read only the other day a comprehensive account of the various experimental farms in Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland. The Minister of Trade and Customs has told us that he is going to have four experts attached to the bureau.
– I never said I was going to have four experts.
– The honorable gentleman’s memory is at fault. He tells usin his report that the direct control of the experimental stations already existing must be retained by the States, but that the Federal officers can co-operate” with the officers- in charge of experimental stations in order to carry out any further or special experiments that, from a national stand-point, may be necessary. He goes, on to say that the “ co-ordination of work and the prevention of unnecessaryduplication might also be effected’.” “ Coordination of work “ is a very fine phrase ; it is nearly as good as that ‘ ‘ blessed word Mesopotamia.” It seems to be al- most admitted that there will be duplication. The report proceeds -
Should special stations be required for-national purposes, especially in connexion with the growth of tropical products, the matter should easily be arranged with the States. In the Territories of the Commonwealth there must necessarily be national experimental stations.
Can we understand why the Government, who have these ideas about the necessity for a Bureau of Agriculture, should be so neglectful of their duties as to refrain from consulting the States? This bureau, also, is to undertake the work of finding markets for Australian products, a work which from its very nature is national The Minister must have forgotten what “was written in 1908, when he tells us now that this is to be a national bureau merely for research work - to discover the causes of tick fever, and a remedy for the prickly pear and bitter pit.
However, I shall defer any further remarks on this point until we reach a later clause. I wish again to proclaim my objection to any undertaking of this kind without first consulting all the States. Why should we be out of harmony with the States ? There has been too much discord between the Federation and the various States; and for this we are largely responsible. Honorable members seem to forget that a State like New South Wales or Queensland comprises a territory larger than that of some of the European States; indeed, I believe that New South Wales is larger than Germany. Yet, because in New South Wales there are only 1,250,000 people, and in Queensland about 600,000, there seems to be an idea that those States are not worthy of our consideration. These States are too big and important to have their interests overlooked by this Parliament; and we have to be very careful in our relations with them.
We ought not to reflect on any State member of Parliament, or suggest that he is in any way less capable than we ourselves.
To introduce a measure of this kind, without consulting the States, must surely create discord; but it is not yet too late for the Minister to retrace his steps. We ought, as I say, to have some idea what the bureau is going to cost. During this financial year we shall spend £27,000,000. The Minister of Trade and Customs, and also I myself, when on the platform - in Queensland advocating
Federation, said that the Union would not mean more additional cost to the people than half-a-crown per head - the amount necessary to register a dog. It was a great argument, and had effect; and now it is proposed to add for this bureau from £300,000 to £500,000 to the £27,000,000.
– That half-crown did not include the cost of defence, the postal services, and so on.
– This is not the occasion to go into the details of the expenditure that has been superimposed. I think I have sufficiently exposed the wrongful conduct of the Prime Minister and his satellite, the Minister of Trade and Customs; and, having entered my protest, I can do no more.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 (Functions of Bureau).
.- The conduct of the Minister of Trade and Customs reminds me of a man I once saw on a show ground in Queensland, who, after apparently dropping three sovereigns into a purse, offered to sell the purse and its contents for £1. When, however, the unfortunate purchaser examined the purse in a quiet spot, he found that it contained only three coppers. The little lecturette which the vendor gave was pure bluff, and so I regard the observations of the Minister on this Bill. Honorable members may look in the Prime Minister’s dictionary for a definition of “bluff.” The Prime Minister, who, apparently, has not given due consideration to the measure, has told us that we shall require four experts for this bureau, men of the highest and best brains, to conduct the research work. I have pointed out that the States are spending well on to £500,000 per annum on their Departments of Agri– culture; and now the Unificationist Prime Minister introduces a proposal for a bureau for the acquisition and diffusion amongst the people of the Commonwealth of information connected with agriculture, dairying, horticulture, viticulture, live-stock breeding, and forestry. The Minister of Trade and Customs has been trying to make the House believe that this is a measure of no consequence, except to establish the nucleus of a Federal Bureau of Agriculture. What can we think of a Minister who can do such a thing? Honorable members from the country, even if they are Liberals, must have some sense of proportion. This bureau is to consist of three or four experts; and yet it has to acquire information for dairy farmers, pastoralists, stockowners, vignerons, and so forth.
– What is the difference between a pastoralist and a stock-owner?
– There is a difference, I think, because, while a stock-owner may only have a few head of cattle, a pastoralist is understood to be a squatter king, who has vast flocks and herds, and who, of course, is looked on with great respect by people who have their bump of reverence very largely developed. I dare say there are some people who rather look down on the little stockowner. And this reminds one of what was said by Walter Besant, when he told us how the poor match-seller, who sold by the box, was despised by society people, but how the man who sold matches by the million was a person of high position, able, I suppose, to acquire a title if he only paid sufficient into the funds of the dominant political party. What does the Attorney-General think of the speech of the Minister of Trade and Customs in introducing this measure ?
– I did not hear it, but I think very highly of it.
– On general principles, I suppose ? I am afraid, however, that the Attorney-General has too much respect for his own reputation to lay down such general principles before a Judge of the High Court. The Minister proposes to establisha bureau to deal with agriculture, horticulture, viticulture, live stock, and forestry, although he knows that all these things are being dealt with by the State Departments, and that what he proposes is a mere duplication, without due regard for the finances of the Commonwealth.Yet he isa member of a Government which was going to establish a sober financial regime! . I wish the 900,000 Liberal supporters understood this proposal. The Government does not know what the bureau will cost, and Ministers, if they did know, would not care.
– Would not the honorable member sooner have the money spent in this way than thrown away on defence ?
– Yes; even though there might be duplication. The Minister says that there will be no duplication. Has he then forgotten the work that is being done in the States? Has he forgotten Gatton College, the Kamarunga Nursery, and the education respecting cotton, tobacco, fruit, and cane-growing, the management of stock, and a host of other matters which is given by the Queensland Agricultural Department? Is it not monstrous that the Ministry should use its majority to force through this Bill at the end of the session, to the exclusion of measures of more immediate importance ?
-There is private business on the paper.
– Yes. There is the motion of my honorable friend regarding the rights of citizenship - a very necessary thing for the development of civilization -to show that we are willing to regard the foreigner while he is here as a citizen.
– And there are the six referendum Bills.
– Yes. There is also my motion censuring the Prime Minister for his remarks about Mr. Justice Higgins,. a deplorable speech which ought tobe criticised in proper terms.
– There is also the want of confidence motion.
– Yes, and a motion condemning the Speaker. Is Liberalism going to raise the people from poverty by wasting money in the duplication of services, and employing Commonwealth officials to do what is being well done by State officials? What has the Minister to say against the work that has been done in Queensland ? He represents the Darling Downs, one. of the finest districts in the world. The only fault I find with the district is that it returns him to Parliament. I would have no objection to the proposal if the Government intended to confer with the Governments of the States, to ascertain what branches of this work they are willing to hand over to the. Commonwealth as being better undertaken by the Commonwealth than by the States individually.
-The Government should do as we did. It should approach the States with a view to securing their cooperation.
– Yes. The Liberal party has never got over the surprise of finding itself in possession of the Treasury bench. Ministers hurriedly prepared a so-called policy, of which the Bill forms part. The measure is being forced through at the expense of the old-age pensioners. I never knew a more heartless person than is the Minister in his present mind. The bureau is to be established for - the collection, propagation, and distribution of new and valuable seeds and plants.
One would think that this was not being done, by the States, and had never been done before. As a matter of fact, it is being done by all the States.
– Very little is being done by Tasmania.
– Because there are a lot of antediluvian legislators there, who are in power because of the land monopoly there. The Agricultural Bureaux of the States are costing thousands of pounds, and the Minister proposes to duplicate the work and the expense. He wants to establish a Commonwealth Bureau for -
The carrying out of experiments and investigations ;
The investigation of pests or diseases affecting plants or live stock, and the means for preventing their spread or effecting their eradication.
It would be well if we could have an investigation of the mental twists of the members of the Liberal party. The bureau is also to undertake -
The publication of reports of the experiments of experimental farms;
The publication of reports and bulletins dealing with any matter of importance in regard to production in Australia; and
Such other functions as are prescribed.
Does the Minister say that there will be no duplication? He makes no reply, because his attitude is the same as when questioned about his mistake concerning the Sugar Excise. Certainly it is difficult to understand the attitude towards the Bill of men of the world like the honorable member for Riverina, and some of the Victorian representatives.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 4 to 6 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Standing Orders suspended.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
.- I should not have risen had it not been for some remarks which fell from the honorable member for Capricornia. I understood him to say that the money which will be needed for the proposed Agricultural Bureau should be expended on oldage pensions.’ I rise to point out that if we do not make money, we cannot distribute it. The Bill is calculated to help to increase production, and thus to make more money available for old-age pensioners. The time is arriving when we shall have to seriously consider our financial position. We cannot go on distributing money as we are doing if we do not increase our production. The proposed bureau is eminently calculated to assist in the increase of production. Five years ago the exports of Australia exceeded the imports by oyer£25,000,000, but last year the excess was only a little under £817,000. We cannot allow this diminution of exports to continue, especially in view of the fact that we have to pay nearly£12,000,000 a year in interest. Should our exports continue to diminish, we shall land ourselves in grave financial difficulties, and when an honorable member wishes to divert money from the producing interests, it is time that a protest was raised. Surely, we all are in favour of maintaining our present standard of living, but to do that we must increase our production. According to the New South Wales Government Statistician, the railways of the State, which are its biggest earning Department, return only 4½ per cent., and the State Treasurer recently borrowed£2,000,000 at a little over 4¾ per cent., the actual cost to the State being £5 2s. 6d. per cent., the highest rate of interest paid for forty years. It is impossible to maintain the present high standard of living when we are borrowing money at a rate of interest which even our most productive lines will not return; and when so much money is being diverted to lines which are nonproductive the danger is increased.
– Then why go in for a borrowing policy ?
– We must borrow if we are to develop the Commonwealth as it should be developed. Surely we have sufficient belief in Australia to continue upon a policy of development. I have no fear of pursuing a borrowing policy. So long as the money is properly spent upon reproductive works, it will be with satisfaction to ourselves and those who come after us.
-Then why do you complain about the New South Wales Government ?
– New South Wales has been borrowing at an exorbitant rate of interest, mainly because the financiers of the world do not hold the Government of that State in sufficient esteem to lend them money at a reasonable rate. But that is not the point. I have said that our most productive spheres for the expen- diture of public moneys are railways, but, in New South Wales, these are not returning more than 4½ per cent.; and, seeing that a great proportion of the money we have borrowed is spent upon nonproductive lines, those that are productive must be called upon to pay 9 per cent. The honorable member for Capricornia now tells us that he wishes to divert money from a productive source and spend it upon things that are nonproductive; but I would point out that, unless we go on spending our money on works which areproductive, and so in- creasing the produce of the Commonwealth, it will be impossible to keep up our old-age pensions, our defence system and our high standard of living. It is time honorable members opposite looked the financial position squarely in the face. It is beyond all reason to think that we can go on borrowing money, and put it into non-productive channels, at the same time maintaining our high standard of living. If the honorable member for Capricornia wishes to endanger the defence system, old-age pensions, and our present high standard of living, he is going the right way about it. It is high time some of us went upon the platforms of the country and pointed out exactly where this sort of expenditure is going to lead us.
– Are you in favour of the States being consulted before we establish this bureau ?
– There would certainly be no harm in asking the States to co-operate with us, but I believe that the interests of the Commonwealth are paramount over those of the States. I am not ashamed to state my view upon this matter, and even if I am called a Unificationist it does not hurt me, be cause I believe, as all true Australians must believe, that the interests of the Commonwealth are paramount over the interests of the States. However, let; me say, in conclusion, that if honorable members urge the Government to divert money from productive works, and use it in non-productive channels, there will be grave danger to things they support or pretend to support, and that it is absolutely impossible to carry on at the present rate if they wish to maintain the present high standard of living.
.-I would not have spoken had it not been for one statement made by the honorable member which I desire to correct. I quite favour the establishment of this bureau; but, at the same time, I agree with the attitude taken up by the honorable member for Capricornia that, before this measure is put into operation, there should be some understanding with the different States. We all realize that the States have pursued this matter of agricultural research for a number of years past, and it would not be wise to have a clashing of interests. Both the Commonwealth and State Parliaments have certain provinces to which they can adhere. The States have already directed their attention to certain lines of research, and we should not do anything to clash with their work. In this way we can minimize expenditure. But if we are to maintain a Federal Department doing work already attaching to the State Departments, there will be a duplication of expense which the taxpayers, whether they be State taxpayers or Federal taxpayers, must bear. Duplication of effort should be unnecessary. The honorable member for Robertson made it appear that by going on as we are the old-age pensions and the defence system are likely to be endangered. He pointed out that the Government of New South Wales have borrowed money for what he termed unproductive works, and he said that they had borrowed £2,000,000 at 4¾ per cent., which, after paying all expenses of brokerage, and so on, really meant £5 2s. 6d. per £100; but the statement of the honorable member that the high rate of interest was due to the financial world not having a sufficiently high opinion of the present New South Wales Government is absolutely without foundation, because the rate of interest has gone up everywhere. The Treasurer of New South Wales was able to make a statement recently, in which he showed that he was able to borrow money cheaper than the Treasurers of other States where there were Liberal Governments in power. The honorable member’s statement that the Government of New South Wales had increased the cost of the railway system by having to pay a higher rate of interest is absolutely without foundation. If the railways in New South Wales return 4½ per cent. over working expenses, and more than that has to be paid in the shape of interest on the money borrowed, the honorable member has only two courses to advocate - either to cease the work of building railways to develop the country, or to cease borrowing. But, as the honorable member is in favour of borrowing money, he must pay a high rate of interest, because he could not get it at any cheaper rate than the New South Wales Government are now paying. So there is no room for complaint upon the part of the honorable member. I agree with him that it would be better to have increased exports; but the Bill before us has no bearing on the matter of exports, except that it makes provision for dealing with pests, and improving seed, and other matters affecting agricultural pursuits.
– That means increasing the exports.
– In that way the Bill will be a benefit, and for that reason we approve of it; but to bring in the matter of New South Wales borrowing money, and to endeavour to make the people believe that we are paying more interest because of a Labour Government being in power in New South Wales, is all beside the question. As a matter of fact, the Government of New South Wales are getting their money on better conditions than any other State. I am in accord with the Bill; but I hope that the Government of the day will consult with the different States before putting.it into operation, in order to ascertain what is being done in certain directions, and thus avoid clashing. We ought to undertake work that is not taken in hand by the different States-work that will be of advantage to Australia. In this way we may, at the close of the session, do something which will meet with the approval of the people generally. The Government will be ill-advised in carrying out work now undertaken by experts in the States, thereby increasing the expenditure and quite unnecessarily duplicating the number of people engaged in this work. According to the Commonwealth official statistics issued by Mr. Knibbs, thenumber of sheep in 1911 was 93,000,000. Though the number in 1912 fell to 83,000,000, we still maintained the same export; we practically maintained the number of sheep exported, though we had a reduction of no less than 10,000,000 sheep during the year. I merely rose to answer the honorable member. Railway construction is beneficial. The people in the country desire that we should develop it, and in that way bring population ; and we cannot carry out railway construction unless the money is borrowed on the best terms available on the money market at the time; the rates upon the railways being fixed in order to get sufficient return to recoup the cost of borrowing and the working of the lines. To that extent the Government of New South Wales have been very successful. I understand that the average rate of interest is not much over £3 15s. per £100, while, according to the honorable member himself, the railways return 4½ per cent. over working expenses.
– The honorable member for Robertson must know that rates of interest are not governed by New South Wales or Australia. A man may sometimes be so saturated with prejudice that he may say something that is dangerous to the well-being of the country. The rates of interest all the world over depend on the acuteness of the demand for money. At present there is a demand everywhere for money. Those countries which were at war have come into the market, and they are now in New York trying to borrow, and they are willing to pay 6 per cent, or 7 per cent. Brazil wants $60,000,000, the Argentine is in the market, Canada is also still in the market trying to borrow for the extension of the grand trunk railway to the north of the Dominion. The result is that these countries are paying 5 per cent. In fact, the other day Japan was paying 6 per cent. in New York, and China pays 6½ per cent. I have just picked up a copy of the New York American, in which I find the following in regard to the money rates governing the national exchange of the world -
Time-money rates yesterday remained unchanged, although more trades were made and more money was offered. With the passing of the week following the first of the month disbursements, and with the return of deposits, better conditions are expected to prevail. Kates : Sixty and ninety days and four months, 5 per cent. ; five and six months, 4¾-5 per cent.
Call loans were made at 4 per cent., with3½ per cent. the low figure.
That refers to cash that you can get your hands on every day in Wall-street, New York, Lombard-street, London, the Unter den Linden, in Berlin, and the Bourse, in Paris;and yet my honorable friends come here and talk about the borrowing of the New South Wales Government. There never was such a demand for credit in the whole world, on account of the wonderful development in all countries. I hope my honorable friends will not decry their States. I want to keep up the interests of our States. Little Tasmania can borrow money, but, of course, she has to pay for it.
.- I can assure the honorable member for Darwin that we are not decrying our States. It is not the intention of the Government to give effect to this measure without first consulting the States. This is a very important matter. If we did not want it passed it would not be on the business-paper. We are not in the habit of putting up placards for the people. We are in the habit of submitting legislation to this House in order to have it passed. The honorable member for Hunter had placed in his hands by the Leader of the Opposition a little booklet, marked at a particular page. That was right enough. I have no objection to the use of statistics in this matter, but they should be used in a logical way. I understand that the interpretation placed upon the decrease in sheep was that it was caused by the drought and other things. The decrease was not due solely to the drought. It was due to the phenomenal export oflambs for that particular year. Every one knows that when you over-export your lambs you naturally reduce the number of sheep in the Commonwealth. That is borne out in the next column of the same page - page 31 - with regard to the production of wool. While the actual number of sheep in the Commonwealth had decreased by 10,000,000, the actual decrease in the wool export was£33,000,000, or only£3 per sheep. It must, therefore, be evident that the greater cause of the decrease of the number of sheep is the export oflambs, which were never shorn at all. Statistics show that the value of lamb and mutton exported increased in that particular year.
– Are you trying to persuade us to vote for this Bill ?
– I am only proving our argument that all the benefits Australia has received during the last three years were not the result of the legislation of the last Government. I am convinced that the Bill is a step in the right direction, and will, if given a fair chance, increase our production, bring about a greater influx of population, and help to spread our people over the dry areas, much to the benefit of the whole community.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (ParramattaPrime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs [4.24]. -I understand that the Leader of the Opposition desires to speak on the referenda proposals. If honorable members on the other side agree to let him do so, I shall have no objection.
.- We could not hope to have these measures carried to-day, because it would not be fair to either side, owing to the absence of so many members, but they are worthy of the sympathetic consideration of the Government during the recess.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) agreed to -
Tli.it Government business and all private members’ business down to Orders of the Day, private members’ business, be postponed until after the consideration of the Orders of the Day, private members’ business.
Trade and Commerce - Corporations - Trusts - Industrial Matters - Railway Disputes - Nationalization of Monopolies.
.- I think this group of Bills relating to referendum proposals has been discussed, as a whole, on one or two occasions, because they all refer to alterations of the Constitution to enable this Parliament to deal with certain matters with which, under the decisions and guidance of the High Court, we are declared, to be incapable of dealing at the present time.
The Constitution has, in the main, worked fairly well. When the contest between the Bill-“ites” and the antiBill”ites” was going on before the Constitution was put to the people, after being approved by most of the Parliaments, each side put its views strenuously. The Bill-“ites” regarded the » Constitution as so good that it ought not to be defeated. The anti-Bill-“ites” thought it far better to wait for a more comprehensive measure, which would give the Federal Parliament sufficient powers to protect the whole people. . I took the view that the Bill was too good to be set aside, and against the wishes of the majority of my own party, I took the platform in favour of its acceptance. In our own State, by the aid of the gold-fields, and especially of the north, we were able to carry the affirmative. The States as a whole carried the Bill in the affirmative, and the affirmative vote,( in the main, was given because the Bil’, contained a provision enabling the people to amend, the Constitution as they thought fit from time to time. That provision has been put into effect three or four times. On the first occasion it was used for merely a nominal amendment of the Constitution, which was approved of. On the second occasion the proposal was for the acceptance of the Fusion’s Financial Agreement, which was defeated. It was put into operation for the third time id 1911, when the Labour Government appealed to the people to give the Commonwealth Parliament larger powers to make laws with respect to trade and commerce, corporations, industrial matters, railway disputes, trusts, and the nationalization of monopolies. The six proposals were embodied in two measures, and only two questions had therefore to be answered by the people. The voting on that occasion was as follows: - Constitution Alteration (Legislative Powers) Bill 1910: For, 483,356; against, 742,704; or 39.42 per cent, for the Bill, and 60.58 per cent, against it. Constitution Alteration (Monopolies) Bill 1910: For, 488,668 against, 736,392, or 39.89 per cent, for, and 60.11 against. It will be seen that, on that occasion, there was an enormous majority against both of these proposals. Believing, however, that they were in the best interests of the people,’ the Government decided in 1912 that they should again be submitted to the electors. The present Prime Minister and members of his party declared that it was “ a piece of cheek” on our part to propose to re-submit to the people questions that had been turned down by such a large majority less than two years before. Notwithstanding their criticism, we submitted them at the last general election, and the voting upon them, as shown on pages 39 and 40 of the Statistical Returns presented to the House on 24th September last, was as follows : - Constitution Alteration (Trade and Commerce) Bill 1912: For, 958,419; against, 982,615; or 49.38 per cent, for, and 50.62 per cent, against the Bill. Constitution Alteration (Corporations) Bill 1912 : 960,711 for; against, 986,824; or 49.33 per cent, for the Bill, and 50.67 per cent, against it. Constitution Alteration (Industrial Matters) Bill 1912 : For, 961,601 ; against. 987,611; or 49.33 per cent, for, and 50.67 per cent, against. Constitution Alteration (Railway Disputes) Bill 1912: For, 956,358; against, 990,046; or 49.13 per cent, for, and 50.87 per cent, against the Bill. Constitution Alteration (Trusts) Bill: For, 967,331; against, 975,943; or 49.78 per cent. for, and 50.22 lies) Bill: For, 917,165; against, 941,947; or 49.33 per cent. for, and 50.67 per cent. commonwealth
Submission to Electors of Proposed laws
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 18 December 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1913/19131218_reps_5_72/>.