7th Parliament · 1st Session
The Speaker (Hon. W. Elliot Johnsin) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– In reply to a question asked by the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Pigott) last week, I wish to; state that the amount paid for the services rendered by motor launches for patrol work in Sydney Harbor was in 1914-15, £3,943’; in 1915-16, £3,105; and in 1916-17, £1,896.
– Will the Prime Minister state what steps he is taking for the establishment of a bureau to get oyer the shipping difficulty J
– I have this morning appointed Mr. Haldane, of the Postal Department, to be Director-General of a National Service Bureau. An office has been taken and a staff is being formed to carry on the work of the bureau. Mr. Whitehead, of the Victorian Public Service, has been appointed Director for’ this State, and I am expecting nominations for the position of Director for the States of New South Wales and Western Australia. In South Australia no dispute of. any kind exists. ‘ The bureau will commence operations forthwith.
– I wish to address a question to the Minister in charge of External Affairs. Will you, Mr. Speaker, tell me who that is ?
– The question is not one which, strictly speaking, should be addressed to the Speaker; but . I understand that there has been a rearrangement of the Ministerial offices, and that the work which was formerly done by the Department of External Affairs has been distributed between the Departments controlled by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Home and Territories.
– Then I address my question to whichever of those Ministers it may . concern. I ask why the prohibition on trading in respect of Wehrenberg and Co. and about 200 other German firms in Japan, and against Beer, Sondheimer and Co., and about 200 other firms in ‘the United States of America has been withdrawn. I refer to the Commonwealth Gazettes of June and July last.
– I think that the question is one to which an answer has already been given. The prohibition relating to firms doing business in Japan was withdrawn at the instance of the Japanese Government, which has itself imposed a prohibition on the trading of the firms mentioned, making our prohibition unnecessary. As to the prohibition affecting the United States of America, if . the honorable member will put a question on the business-paper, I shall endeavour to give him an answer to it to-morrow.
– What possible objection can there be to the press of this country publishing the statement that appeared in the Government Gazette to the effect that the prohibition orders had been withdrawn against these German firms ?
– I do not know what objection there can bo. Is the honorable member speaking of a prohibition that has been directed to the press i If so, I do not know anything of it.’
– The prohibition is nob on the part of the censors, who are willing to allow the’ publication, bub it came from- a member of the Government.
– Ido not’ know anything of the matter.- It may be that the journal with which the honorable member is connected proposed to utilize this matter for the purposeof reflecting on one of our Allies. Of course that could not be permitted.
– By way of personal explanation, 1 desire to say that the Prime Minister wishes to ascribe to me a desire to “reflect on one of our Allies. That statement is not correct. What I did wish to do was to make a reflection on the Government.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether any military police wore at Parliament House yesterday?
– In view of the statement of the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr.Fen ton), I made inquiries on this subject from the Defence Department, and have been furnished with a report, in which it is stated that no military police wore in the vicinity’ of Parliament House yesterday. Therefore there was no truth in the statement made here.
Mr.FENTON.- By way ofpersonal explanation, I wish tosay I asked the Minister for the Navy whether the military police that were seen among the assembled crowd yesterday were there-
– That is not the way in which the honorable member put the matter. He said that military police were there.
Mr.FENTON.- Whenever I rise,I am subjected to unruly interruptions by the honorable member.
– I want the honorable member to be accurate.
Mr.FENTON. - -The honorable member isnot my censor.
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) has asked tobe allowed to state his question in silence-
When an honorable member makes a request of that kind, it isthe especial duty of the Chair to see that ho is heard without interruption.
– Seeing that there were military police in the crowd outside Parliament House, yesterday,I was anxious, to know whether they were there under instructions from the Defence Department, and, during the course of the reply of the Minister for the Navy, I said that they may have been merely sightseeing. I think that it was a perfectly reasonablequestion to put, because it is generally understood that military police are merely to look after their own class, and when I sawthem among a crowd of civilians I was anxious to know whether they wore there under instructions or not.
– By way of personal explanation, I wish to say that this is a matter to which I attach considerable importance, and when I heard the statement of the honorable member Iimmediately saw the Minister for Defence,, and asked him whether he, or any of his officers, had given instructions for military police tobe in attendance. He said, that he had given no such instructions, but that he would inquire whether any had been given. The report that I have referred to is that which has been furnished as the result of that inquiry. The Government would view with the greatest possible disfavour the introduction of military police into what is a purely civil matter, in regard to which, there would be no excuse whatever for the introduction, of the military. That is the attitude and the policy of the Government.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Customs. Act - Proclamation prohibiting Exportation (except under, certain conditions) of Sulphate of Ammonia (dated 10th. August, 1917).
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules1917, Nos. 148. 152, 103, 154, 172, 175, 176.
Unlawful . Associations Act- RegulationsStatutory Rules 1917, No. 177.
– Has the Minister for Works and Railways the return that he recentlypromised to furnish in regard to traffic operations on the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway?
– I have much pleasure in laying the return on the table.
Ordered to be printed.
– Has the Prime Minister received a petition from Sydney fruit merchants requesting a modification of the embargo on American apples and other fruit; and, if so, does he propose to grant therequest put forward?
– I have not received any such . petition. Ihave many times stated the position of the Government in regard to this matter. The policy of the Government, and, I understand, of Parliament, is to encourage Australian industries and the consumption of Australian products. The question of allowing importations of fruit will not be considered until it is found impossible to give effect to that policy. The fruitgrowers of this country have been consulted in reference to the matter covered by the honorable member’s question, but they have not advised any relaxation of the restriction on importations, except possibly during December and January; and the Government are mow considering to what extent, if any, the embargo may be relaxed during those months.
– Last week, the Prime Minister said that the Government would give consideration to the matter of appointing the Committee of Public Accounts and theCommittee of Public Works. Has any step been taken in regard to ‘the matter?
– Owing to the . pressure of important matters, the Government have not been able to proceed further in the matter referred to. I hope, however, that the Cabinet will be able to direct attention to it shortly.
Mr.TUDOR. - Will it not be necessary to amend the Public Works Committee Act and the Committee of Public Accounts Act before these committees can be appointed, because both measures state that the committees must be appointed at the commencement of the first session of each Parliament, and this is not the first session of this Parliament?
– Speaking as a constitutional lawyer, I have to admit that the honorable member is perfectly correct. I can see very plainly that he has been using his leisure for a purpose which is very, far from frivolous, and I commend him for it.
– I would like to. ask the Prime Minister whether there are any regulations gazetted under any Commonwealth Act specifying and defining the scope, power, and control of an association known as the Zinc Producers Association ?
– I do not know whether, there are any regulations under any Act relating to this association. If the honorable member will give notice of this question, I can furnish a detailed reply to-morrow.
– Will the Prime Minister consider the advisability of issuing a regulation, under the War Precautions Act, enabling him to deport undesirables?
– I do not know. If we commence deportation, it appears to me that the result will be that whoever happens to be in the majority will deport all those on the other side of the House, and. that those who have the first opportunity of so acting will hold office for ever, .
– Is it the intention of the Government to take any steps towards bringing about a conference between those who are primarily engaged in the existing industrial disturbances in New South Wales - the Commissioners of Railways, on the one hand, and the railway and tramway employees ‘ on the other hand - with a view to bringing the trouble to an end?
– In view of the possibility of the present industrial troubles completely isolating Western Australia from the other parts of the Commonwealth, with very serious results in regard to food supplies, will the Minister for the Navy take’ precautions to maintain communication with Western Australia by sea, at any rate, until the transcontinental railway is completed ?
– I do not quite know what powers I have in the direction suggested by the honorable member.
– You have at your disposal naval forces which might man the ships.
– I suggest to the honorable member that he should address his question to the Prime Minister. I believe that the Shipping Board is now controlled by Senator Russell. I should like to say in a general way, however, that the Navy Department is taking steps to see that the transports leave at their appointed time with their appointed freights. By freights I mean cargo as well as men. Whatever resources are at the disposal of the Navy Department will be exercised to the full in order to attain that object.
– In view of the notification in the press and elsewhere that the Government propose to employ, the Navy, so far as it can be employed, to overcome the difficulties arising through the strikes, does the. Minister for the Navy propose that those persons in the Navy who decline to assist in strike-breaking in any way shall be put on trial under the naval and military laws?
– It is quite unusual to answer questions founded on hypothetical circumstances.
– In connexion with the arrest of Miss Adela Pankhurst yesterday the newspaper reportsimply that many more arrests are to follow.. I ask the Prime Minister to assure me that there will be plenty of blankets available in the gaol when I am collared;
– As parliamentary representative of the Castlemaine Woollen Mills, which produce blankets, I shall certainly see that an order is placed with that establishment so that when the honorable member’s time for imprisonment comes, he will have plenty of covering.
– In the Government Gazette recently appeared a notice that a number of shares were to be put into the hands of the public trustee on behalf of Der Deutsche Bank, Der Dresdner Bank, and Der DiscontoGesellschaft. Are those shares to remain in the hands of. the public trustee until after the end of the war ; if not, what is to be done with them?
– To the best of my knowledge, I gave the public trustee orders to sell all shares of enemy companies some three or four months ago. Yesterday when I was asked a question in reference to these shares I learned that they had not been sold, but the public trustee informed the Solicitor-General, from whom I obtained my information, that the matter of dealing with some thousands of enemy shares involves a good deal of detail work. However, he has completed his arrangements, and he proposes to sell the shares forthwith if possible. That applies to the shares mentioned by the honorable member as well as others.
– As the ‘ System of bonuses has been helpful in stimulating some of the industries of the Commonwealth, is it the intention of the Minister for Trade and Customs to continue that system, especially in regard to industries that are struggling to keep their heads above water in competition with the products of cheap labour countries?
– Cabinet has now under consideration the question of bounties and bonuses for Australian industries.
– Some time ago 1 received a circular from an association, and signed by Mr. Mauger, with reference to the importation of luxuries. I made several inquiries of Mr. Mauger, one of which was in reference to the quantities, not merely the prices, of goods imported. I have received no reply or acknowledgment of my communication, and I should like to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs ‘whether he can see his way to provide the House with that information, as all members received the same circular ?
– The circular was sent to me, and I wish to state emphatically that the facts were not placed before the public in their true light. It’ mentioned merely the value of importations, and not the quantity of goods entering Australia. I know for a positive fact that many imported articles have risen- in price from 20 per cent. to 70 per cent., and that very few articles are how imported which do not show an increase of at’ least 20 per cent. over the purchase value in 1915. Therefore, figures as to the value of importations are not a true criterion of the quantity of good’s imported. I can assure honorable members that there has been an enormous falling-off in the quantities imported.
– The honorable member for Wentworth asked the Minister to supply the particulars in regard to quantities that are omitted from the circular. Is it possible ‘to supply those figures until six or eight months after the close of the year ?
– It is impossible to give a detailed statement of goods imported at this time of the year.
Representation of Australian Views
– Since the Prime Minister, uninvited, made representations to the Imperial Government in regard to Labour representation at the Stockholm Conference, will he see that the censorship in this country is so far relaxed as to enable organized Labour in Australia to make representations as to its desires in connexion with that matter?
– I shall consider the question.
– I desire to ask the
Minister for Trade and Customs whether it has been brought under his notice that Australian-manufactured whisky, which has a certain amount of protection from the Excise duty, is being blended with imported spirits and sold in bottles with labels purporting that it is imported whisky?
– The matter has been brought under my notice. In view of the fact that manufacturers of Australian whisky enjoy a good protection under the Tariff - the Excise being less than the import duty - and also the double protection afforded by reason of the enormous freight costs on imported’ spirits, I think that they would be well advised if they recognised that their products should be sold as being of Australian manufacture. Australian spirits, once the Excise duty has been collected, are released from any further control so far as the Commonwealth is concerned. It is a matter for the State authorities to see that whisky and other spirits made in Australia are sold assuch.
– Arising out of’ the’ answer which the Minister for Trade” and Customs gave to a question in regard’ to the prohibition or protection-
– Order! I would remind the honorable member that it is not in order to address to Ministers questions arising, out of answers previously given by them to questions on the same subject. This practice, if permitted, would give rise to an irregular debate.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he is aware that the pacifist influences in this country have recently circulated amongst members the speeches of three aged peers who, for some considerable time, have retired from their political inactivities, and whether he will make inquiries as to whether there is any close connexion between those peers, with their -somewhat vague statements, and those bodies in our midst who appear to be against every form of war except industrial warfare ?
– I am not to be regarded, even on my worst days, as a, peripatetic Burke’s Peerage. My knowledge of the male peerage, at all events, is very small. I shall, make inquiries as to the alleged connexion, illicit or otherwise, between the parties named. Nothing would surprise me in regard to what they have been doing. Neither age. nor experience seems to affect either one of them. If I can discover anything tangible . I shall be glad.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister if, in the interests of a better appreciation of the true position in this country generally, he will be good enough, when looking up the names of the distinguished gentlemen associated with pacifists in the Old Country, to acquaint the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Kelly)-
– I regret to have to interrupt the honorable member, but he is now distinctly asking a question arising out of an answer given, a few moments ago, by the Prime Minister, to a questionput to him. by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Kelly).
– Not at’ all, sir. I think the honorable member for Wentworth must have been well aware that I contemplated asking this question, and that he rather anticipated me.
– Ifthe question which the honorable member desires to ask does not arise” out of an answer given by the Prime Minister to a question relating to the same subject he will be in order in putting it, but not otherwise.
– The question that I desire to put to the Prime Minister arises entirely from the honorable member for Wentworth’s well-known general want of knowledge of this ‘ subject, and has no necessary reference to his special exhibition of want of knowledge a few moments ago.I wish to know in these circumstances whether the Prime Minister would be gracious enough to acquaint the honorable member with the fact that one of these distinguished peers is an exGovernor of Victoria, and another-
– Order ! The honorable member is not in order in putting such a question. It is a well-known principle that questions shall be put to elicit information, but the honorable member is now endeavouring to impart information instead of seeking it.
– On the point of order, sir, I shall content myself with the statement that I shall be very pleased to give the honorable member for Wentworth in private the information he so sadly lacks.
– Order ! I call the attention of the Blouse to the fact that an attempt is now being made to utilize in an irregular way the time set apart for notices of motion and questions. That cannot be permitted. Legitimate questions may be put to Ministers, but I cannot allow the time of the House to be taken up in the putting of questions that are quite irregular.
– By way of personal explanation, sir, I wish to point out that the honorablemember for Batman (Mr. Brennan) suggested that I had deliberately anticipated a question he proposed to put. I had not the slightest idea that he proposed to ask a question on this subject, or that he regards himself as an authority on the Peerage; but I can assure you, sir, that it was with no malice that I trespassed upon his particular domain.
– In the absence of the Postmaster-General, who, I understand, is ill, I desire to ask the Prime Min-. ister if it is a fact that the Government have in contemplation a regulation - or have passed a regulation- which will have the effect of giving to other than members of organizations the benefits of awards made’ under the Public Service Arbitration Act?
– As locum tenens for the Postmaster-General, I am unable. to pump up an effective answer to the honorable member. I do not even know what is the point to which the honorable member refers. I can only say that it has no relation to his former question.
– Has the Prime Minister noticed from to-day’s newspapers that a wilful and wicked attack was last night made by pacifists, in a most militant manner, on ladies assembled-
– I rise to a point of, order. The honorable member is now endeavouring to do precisely what you, sir, in your wisdom, prevented me from doing just now.
– When, the honorable member for Batman rose, I was about to call the attention of the honorable member for Calare to the fact that he was doing what the honorable member for Batman had been forbidden to do.
– Has the Prime Minister noticed from the press reports that a wilful and wicked attack was made-
– Order! The honorable member cannot ask a question of that kind. Under cover of asking a question, the honorable member is making certain statements, and expressing an opinion about the actions ‘ of people outside. Strictly speaking, questions are not in order which are based on paragraphs appearing in a newspaper, unless the member makes himself responsible for their accuracy; and the honorable member . distinctly stated that his question had reference to something which had appeared in a press report.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that an attack was made on ladies, who were holding a recruiting meeting in Queen-street, by pacifists who assembled
– I rise to a point of order. My point is that these people were not pacifists.
– I remind the honorable member that it. is distinctly not in conformity with the dignity of the House to raise points of order of a frivolous character. , ,
– Will the Prime Minister see that some protection is given to those ladies who, assembled at a recruiting meeting, are alleged to have been attacked by members of the Pacifists- Association?
– As a humble and very abject belligerent in this great contest, I can quite appreciate the feeling of the lady friends of the honorable member who are confronted by these very determined pacifists, and I shall do what I can to protect them. Perhaps the honorable member will let me have further particulars, so that, in my anxiety to do good, I. may not protect the wrong ladies.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
The total amount required to complete all works included in the Estimates is already shown in each case, except in the following instances : -
Amount provided, £10,000.
The total estimated cost is £18,000.
Amount provided, £2,500.
The total estimated cost, accord ing to latest advices, is about £79,000.
I regret this was not shown in the Estimates. It was inadvertently omitted,
Amount provided, £150,000.
The total estimated cost is £930,000.
This should have been shown in Esti mates, but was inadvertently omitted.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime. Minister, upon notice -
– I refer the honorable member to the reply given to his previous question on the subject.
asked the Prime Ministor, upon notice -
Whether he will place an embargo on the export of sulphate of ammonia, and so protect the interests of agriculturists by conserving for them a necessary fertilizer?
– A proclamation prohibiting the export of sulphate - of ammonia without the consent, in writing, of . the Minister for Trade and Customs, was gazetted on the 10th instant.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice-
– The matter will receive consideration.
Single and Married Men: Soldiers’ Letters
asked the Minister representing -the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Whether he will state -
How many, single men have volunteered as members of the Australian Imperial Force since the declaration of war?
Also, how many married men?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are - 1 and 2.- It is not possible to give the information, asked for in respect of men who have volunteered, but the following figures. which have been compiled in respect of 255,148 embarkations, are furnished : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister; upon notice -
Whether it is ‘true that day baking of bread costs the consumer.¼d. per loaf more in Sydney than it does in Brisbane or other cities where night baking is resorted to?
– I am advised that the increased cost by day baking is approximately one half-penny . per 4-lb. loaf.
” Intelligence Offices.”
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice - .
-The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
The duties, briefly defined, include, inter alia, the preparation of matter for public information arising out of the activities of . the Prime Minister’s Department and the Government’s financial and commercial schemes; the’ proper arrangement and cataloguing of the large number of newspaper cuttings, and official and other publications from all parts of Australia and the Empire, and extracting therefrom information relating to matters of local public interest and to Australia generally which are likely to be useful to the Government. ‘ The salary is £504 per annum. There are no allowances by way of expenses.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice-
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minis-‘ ter, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for
Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– I have been informed - 1. (a) £21,061; (b) £25,731; (c) owing to exigencies of the war it has not been possible to prepare definite estimates of total cost of additions that may be required to the Cordite Factory.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice - ‘
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Apple Trade : Prohibition of American Apples - Maize Crop: Starch Manufacture - German Trade Names and Trade Descriptions - Military Regulations : Commissions - “ Onewomanonerecruit “ Association - Sale of German-owned Shares and Interests - Transfer of Artillerymen to Infantry Corps- Purchase of Commonwealth Steam-ships - Anzao Vote on Conscription Referendum - Horsebreeding : British Blood Stock- Prohibition of German Trading Firms - Labour Press Censorship - Police at Parliament House - Nationalization of Medicine : Sale of Medicine and Drugs - Australian Metal Trade : German Interests - Stockholm Conference: Peace Terms - British Imperial Oil Company- Military Service of Mr. Yates, M.P. - Industrial Crisis.
Question - That Mr. Speaker do. now leave the chair, and the House resolve itself into Committeeof Supply - proposed.
– For some time past various questions have been asked regarding the embargo on the importation of apples from America.’ To-day I sought to get a final reply on the subject from the Prime Minister, but unfortunately we are no further forward now that we have heard his answer. I asked him if he had received a petition from Sydney. I had information yesterday that this petition was on its wav, and a copy of it reached me to-day. It is as follows : -
Sydney, 14th August, 1917.
The Right Honorable W. M. Hughes,
Prime Minister, Melbourne.
We, the undersigned, distributors of fruit in New South Wales, hereby request that you reconsider your decision in prohibiting the importation of American apples into the Commonwealth.
We are informed that you are to consider the matter at the end of September. This will be too late to allow of arrangements being made for shipments this season.
At the present time, apples are realizing up to 16s. per case, and, owing to shortage of supplies, will be practically unobtainable in October, except a small quantity now being held by speculators in cool stores.
We feel sure you have no wish to see the fruit trade exploited by these speculators, and trust that you will consider this petition favorably, and give us your decision promptly, as all we ask is permission to import from the 9th October to 14th December,
Duffy Bros. Co. Ltd., D. J. Duffy, manager.
Caddy, Lee, & Co., A. V. Caddy.
Weymark & Son Ltd., J. Weymark, director.
H.Reid & Co.
Bart Allen & Son.
Mr. W. P. Cooksley, writing to me on behalf of the Brisbane fruit merchants, under date 24th July, says-
As chairman of recent meeting of fruit importers, I desire to place before you our Queensland position with reference to the proposed embargo on American apples’. As far as it is possible for us to see, the present supply of Tasmanian apples will be exhausted about the end of September.
The present quality is far from perfect, and is in no wise free from diseases, which would in other years have prevented their admission into the States.
From the month of October to the end of the year, Queensland is very short of her own local fruits, which makes her dependent upon imported apples to supply the demand.
In the western districts and inland towns the want of this class of fruit will be felt severely, as it practically is the only fruit that will carry satisfactorily.
Tasmanian apples coming to Queensland out of cold storage late in the year are not a success, as thehalf of them are decayed before reaching here.
Trusting you will impress upon the Minister the importance of this matter.
I have received letters on the same lines from various fruit merchants in Brisbane. The Prime Minister has told us that the fruit-growers do not advise the relaxation of the embargo, unless possibly for the months of December and January. But I can quote opinions expressed by them which are an absolute contradiction of that view. The following is a report of the meeting of the Victorian Annual Conference of Fruit-growers in 1916. * which appeared in the Fruit World of 1st October, 1916-
Mr. Mair (Tyabb and Hastings) moved - “That an increased duty be placed on American apples.” Mr. Griffith spoke against this motion,, as he ‘thought that if the duty on American fruit coming into Australia was increased, America would adopt the same attitude towards Australian fruit, and this would be detrimental to the working up of trade between America and Australia. On the motion being put to the meeting, it was lost.
In the Fruit World of 1st December, 1916, appears the following report of a meeting of the Australasian Conference of Fruit-growers which was held on the 31st October and 1st and 2nd November, 1916: -
Mr. Tucker (New South Wales) moved - “ That increased duties be placed on imported fruits.” He had been a fruit-grower for thirtythree years, and had an up-to-date orchard, but if protection were not secured, he intended to give up the industry, and go in for pigraising. (Laughter.) Australia could store fruit to keep up supplies throughout the year; but America had the advantage of natural ice, which gave cheaper storage. Growers in Australia, should maintain control of the Australian markets rather than build their hopes on a problematical American market. Dr. Benjafield, (Tasmania) seconded the motion. The importation of American apples, he stated, would be ruinous to our cool stores. American Stunners were now fetching 14s. per case on the Sydney market, because they were highly coloured - although tasteless and inferior to the. Tasmanian fruit-whereas he was now getting only 7s. a case on thesame market for his finest Sturmers. Mr. J. H. Lamb- (Victoria) spoke against the motion, and stated that this proposal had been turned down at State Conferences. The present protection was very high, as, including cost of production, freight, and other charges, apples could not be landed fromSan Francisco under 12s. per bushel. The imports of American apples, he thought, was showing a tendency to decrease. Mr. G. Griffith (Victoria) stated that, with the opening of the Panama Canal, they were in a position to land fruit as cheaply in New York as in London.
Mr. Shoobridge (Tasmania) advocated Free Trade in fruit, and said their object, as growers, should be to cheapen fruit, so as to increase the consumption. Australia could grow every kind of fruit as well as any place in the world, and. should be able, to stand against all competitors. As to our coldstorage fruit being killed by imports, he instanced Doncaster, where the cost of storage amounted to only id. per case a week. This left ample margin to meet competition. Mr. Chilton (New South Wales) stated, that they should study reciprocity with other countries. The present duty, on citrus fruits was 4s. 2d. per cental. He had received numerous’ inquiries from America for Australian fruits. The motion, on being put to the meeting, was lost on the casting vote of the chairman.
In the Fruit World of 1st May, 1917, there is this report of the council meeting of the Victorian Fruit-growers Central Association, held on 26th April of this year: -
A letter which had been received from Mr. H. H. Davey from the Fruit World, and published in our last report of the executive meeting, at which meeting a motion was carried in keeping with that carried at the Australian Conference of Fruit-growers, protesting against placing a prohibitive duty on American apples, was read. It was understood that the Prime Minister intended to prohibit the importation of apples during the period of the war. This action was being supported by the New South Wales and Tasmanian Fruit-growers’ Association. A discussion took place as to whether the council should take any further action in this matter. Mr. Mair moved’ that no action be taken by the council. He thought that the reason . the Government intended to prohibit the importation of apples at the present time was because they required the shipping space for matters of more vital importance to the carrying on of the war, also in keeping with the intention of the Government to prohibit luxuries during the war. Mr. Lang stated that recently the Prime Minister, speaking at Harcourt, said that it was the intention of the Government to prohibit the importation of American apples to assist the fruit-growing industry. He understood, however, that, before taking action, the Prime Minister intended to confer with an Advisory Committee. Mr. Lawford stated that the question to be decided was, whether Victoria was in favour of prohibition or not. He favoured a reciprocal trade (Hear, hear!) Mr. Hatfield questioned whether the action promised by the Prime Minister would be to the interests of the Australian fruit-grower, as Victoria could certainly not compete with the American fruit when on the market here, as the quality was much better than the Victorian apples, which had to be taken out pf cool stores. He thought it would be the same on the American market; Australian fruit would be more likely to capture the market than the American coolstored fruit. After further discussion, the following motion was moved by Mr. J. H. Lang (Harcourt): - “That the Prime Minister be informed that this association, and also the Australian Fruit-growers’ Conference, has always been opposed to raising any bar against the importation of American apples, ‘even to the extent of increasing the duty. These associations have had in view the very great possibilities of America as a market for Australian fruit, and, therefore, have at successive annual Conferences favoured the policy of a practically open door. We further desire to say that we do not in any way wish to influence the Prime Minister in any decision he may make with the object of conserving freight during the war.” This motion was seconded by Mr. Hubbard, and carried.
I have now given chapter and verse for my statement regarding the attitude of the fruit-growers of Victoria and Australia generally in this matter. The statements that I have read are in direct contradiction of that of the Prime Minister to-day. The right honorable gentleman is interfering in a matter with which be is not acquainted, and his evident want of knowledge is leading to a most unfortunate position, so far as the fruit-growers and fruit-consuming public of Australia are concerned. .1 have been in almost continuous consultation on this subject with the Minister for Trade and Customs who, being himself an orchardist, is well acquainted with the position. Of course, I have no record of the honorable gentleman’s! opinion, but I am disposed to think that he views rather favorably the request that has been made, particularly from Sydney and Brisbane, for permission for the importation of American apples for the latter part of the year. The Minister for Trade and ‘Customs,- who would naturally be expected to control this matter, is not allowed to give effect to his knowledge; the Prime Minister’s veto overshadows his actions, and the public must suffer in consequence.. On the 26th July the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs), drew attention, to. the price of apples in Australia. One has only to look into the windows of retail shops to see apples ticketed at anything from 5d. to 6d. per lb.,- and information is readily obtainable to show that the wholesale rates for fruit run from 12s. to 16s. per case. To my knowledge, most of the fruit now selling has been in cold stores for a considerable time. It was bought up by speculators at 6s. to 8s. per case, and is held by them in cold stores, and, as it is only allowed to be dribbled but to the public, an artificial shortage is created. The public are not only fleeced in regard to the price, but they are also limited “in the matter of the amount of fruit that is allowed to go into consumption. A rather peculiar commentary on that position of affairs is the fact that almost daily there is a statement in the’ press by the Prime Minister, or by those who are advising him in this matter, pointing out how necessary it is that the public should eat fruit, and particularly how -advisable it is that they should eat apples. For some time we were deluged with all sorts of suggestions in >the press as to how beneficial, useful, and healthy apples were as an article of diet, and as to how easily they could be prepared for the table.
I submitted a question to the Minister for Trade and Customs on the 27th July, and, in reply, he promised to have a return prepared showing the amount of fruit that is available in Australia. % Any determination as to whether apples should be imported should be based upon that information. No honorable member could put up an argument in favour of the importation of apples from America or elsewhere if there were sufficient fruit available in Australia. The information placed at my disposal by the Minister for Trade and Customs has enabled me to form an estimate as to what fruit there is available in Australia. I understand that there are 200,000 cases in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia. The returns from . Tasmania are not quite complete, but, according to such information as is available, there are probably 200,00.0 cases in that Stately.
– There is considerably less than that quantity in cold storage in Tasmania;
– For the information of the honorable member, I may state that there are about 400,000 cases of apples throughout Australia in cold storage and in orchardists’ sheds.
– I thank the Minister for that information. I was basing my calculations , on a rough estimate of 400,000 cases being available at the present time. On the average, the normal consumption of apples in Australia is about 40,000 cases per week. When fruit is cheap there is no difficulty in disposing of 60,000 cases per week, but 40,000 cases per week is the normal consumption, and, with fruit at its present price, I question whether the consumption now is over 30,000 cases a week. Taking the normal consumption at 40,000 cases per week, the quantity of apples now available in Australia will supply us for not more than ten weeks. If the rate of consumption be reduced, the quantity should last for three months, but that can only be done . by artificial restrictions, either through the imposition of higher prices or by limiting the quantity to be taken out of cold storage. In that way the supply. might be made to last until the end of October.
A request was recently made through the Prime Minister, to the , Minister for Trade and Customs. for permission to import 75,000 cases from America during this season. Last year, when there was a fairly good crop in Australia,we imported 142,000 cases from America, and in order to show that this importation did not have any detrimental or disadvantageous effect on the fruit-growers of Australia, I have only to refer honorable members to the report of the Fruitgrowers’ Conference. They say that there should be an open door. They do not even suggest any limitation as to the number of cases to be imported or any increase of duty. Therefore, if, during a good year, Australia could afford to import 142,000 cases without any detrimental. effect to the fruit-growing industry, it is an easy thing to show that when there is an admitted shortage of fruit, such as we have experienced this year, there should be no trouble in disposing of the limited quantity of 75,000 imported cases, which is all that the fruit merchants are asking to be allowed to import this year.
– Will the honorable member explain why tons of apples were wasted last year because they were not considered worth picking?
– That was not due to the importation of fruit from abroad. It was due to the local fruit-growers having an extraordinarily good crop.
Mr.Rodgers. - It was due to over production.
Mr.FINLAYSON. - I do’ not think there can be any over production in the matter of fruit.
Mr.Rodgers. - It was the fault of our methods.
– The honorable member is now modifying his statement. He is right in saying that the fault lies in our methods of distribution.. The: main trouble last year was to get the fruit to the people at such a low price that they would be ready to purchase it.
– . Does not the . main trouble lie with the retailers ?
Mr.FINLAYSON. - My experience is that the main source. of trouble. is. the bad facilities provided by railways and shipping companies. If the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) would go down to the wharf and see. the . way in which oranges from Maryborough ‘are handled, he would see a sight that would be enough to make him shed tears of blood. The accommodation that the shipping companies provide for fruit is simply disgraceful.
But the fruit that is . now available in Australia is in cold storage, and the other difficulty, arises that, . when it is taken out of cold storage, it must be put into immediate- consumption or go bad. Within a month the fruit that is now available in Sydney and Brisbane will be absolutely useless, because it will not carry over a journey that will take more than a day by rail or by steamer. Neither Broken Hill, nor Bourke, nor any western town of New South Wales or Queensland can possibly hope to see an apple after the end of this month until February, when probably the new crop will be available. Between the end of the Australian fruit season and the. beginning of the new season, the only.way in which the supply of fruit to the outlying portions of Australia has been maintained has been by importing American fruit.
– Is it not subject to the same disabilities as Australian fruit, seeing that it comes in cold storage from America?
– No; because it is packed so carefully, and treated in such a way that, when it is landed here, it is capable of being carried to any part of Australia without danger of decay or loss. One of the happiest features of progress in Australia to-day is the fact that the fruit-growers are largely copying the American system of packing and preparing fruit for market.
– Would it not be possible to treat the surplus fruit in Australia in the same way, and make it available for transport?
-I believe that the time . is coming when we shall be able to take our surplus crop, particularly apples, and treat it in such a way as to make it available as the Americans can make theirs available; but that time has not yet arrived. Furthermore, at the normal rate of consumption of fruit, the quantity now available in Australia will not last more than nine or ten weeks, and it can only be made to last longer by artificially limiting the consumption, either through increasing the price, or by reducing the quantity made available from cold storage.
The Prime Minister suggests that he will review this matter at the end of September, but by that time our stocks in Australia will be nearly exhausted. It takes ships three weeks to come from America, so that, even if the Prime Minister is favorably disposed, and arrangements are made immediately, there will be at least a month or five weeks in which there will be no fruit available. The Minister for Trade and Customs knows that arrangements have to be made a very considerable time ahead with the fruit-growers, in America in order to secure space on the steamers. Any one acquainted with overseas shipping knows that arrangements have to be made months ahead; so that, even if arrangements were set in hand immediately, I question if it would be possible to land the first shipment of apples by the 8th October,
-Who should make the arrangements ?
– The fruit merchants have their arrangements in hand. They are merely waiting for information from the Minister for Trade and Customs to the effect that the importation will be permitted. They suggest that only half the amount should be imported this year as compared with what came in last year. The reason for this is the fact that the vessels are not now available. There will not be the cold storage available to bring the larger quantity across from America. If arrangements are made immediately, and 75,000 cases are imported, they will only last, at the outside, from the 8th October to the end of December. The” fruit that would be imported could be easily absorbed by Queensland and New South Wales without a single case of American fruit being available for other States, and by Christmas there would not be an imported ‘apple’ left in Australia. There is no possibility of Competition with, the local article, or detriment to the Australian fruit-grower, by allowing this importation to take place. The Prime Minister says there must be no importation, and the public are being misled - I . do not think, deliberately - by reports in the press regarding the difficulty fruit-growers are likely to have in regard to the disposal of their surplus crop, and there is talk of providing machinery to supply dried fruit to the British Government and the markets on the other side of the world. But that surplus is in connexion with next year’s crop, and, judging by the splendid rains which have fallen in the fruitgrowing districts, and the present indications of the forthcoming season, the applegrowers will have an extraordinarily good yield. Probably in those circumstances they will be wise in placing an embargo on importations which would deprive them of the Australian market, but that position has not yet arisen, and cannot; arise for the next six months. If the American apples which are now prohibited were allowed to enter the Commonweal th, they would disappear before the end of this year. The Minister for Customs has been offered a guarantee that if American apples are allowedto be imported, not only will they be absorbed by Queensland and New South Wales alone, so that there can be no detriment to the fruit-growers of the other States, butthe prices to the consumers will be limited.
– Does the retailer agree with that?
– I think’ we can depend on the retailer. When there is any possibility of an . arrangement in regard to prices, it is not the retailers, but the wholesalers’, who are responsible. That is true, not only ‘of apples, but of every other commodity. It is much easier for half-a-dozen wholesale men to come to an arrangement with regard to prices than it is for the retailers.
– The retailers have surmounted that difficulty in Melbourne and Sydney.
– No, they have not.There are opportunities for the wholesale men to come to an arrangement with regard to prices, and that is being done at the present time.
-You are speaking with inside knowledge.
– Of course I am. I have already referred to the fact that the apples now being supplied to the ‘ public were bought months ago by speculators at less than half the price they are charging the consumers, to-day: Infact, a letter appeared in this morning’s press from a retailer, who stated that he was paying 12s. a case for apples, and when he weighed up the fruit’ he found that atthe price at which he was selling he was actually making a loss.
– What quantity of Australian apples is sold in America?
– I have not the figures for America.
– No apples are sent there, because the American people will not buy them.
– I am sorry the honorable member makes that statement, because the Australian fruit-growers are not of his opinion. They are most anxious to cultivate trade with America, and one of the peculiar facts in connexion with this matter is that whilst, on the one hand, we are talking about the’ advisability of appointing a Trade Commissioner in America to promote the sale of Australian products, we are, on the other hand, saying to Americans that we do not want their products to be sent’ to Aus- ‘ tralia. Fruit-growers have sent experimental shipments to America with gratifying success, and through the agency of the Panama Canal they are in as close touch with New York as with London. There are very good opportunities for promoting the sale of Australian fruit in America. The seasons of the two countries are opposite. While the American fruit season is on the Australian season is off, and so there ought to be a reciprocal arrangement.
– But state how much Australian fruit has been placed on the American market.
– I do not think that question is germane to my argument, when I have been able to show that we have not enough fruit in Australia to supply our own needs, and that we require to supplement Australian fruit by importations from America. In a return placed on the table of the House on the 8th August, at the request of the Leader of the Opposition, these figures in regard to the export of apples occur -
Honorable members will see that last year we exported nearly six times as many cases of apples as we exported this year. The decrease was not alone due to the fact that there was limited shipping space available, but was equally due to the circumstance that we had not the same quantity of fruit available. There is a shortage of fruit this year, and itis in order to make good that shortage that I appeal to . the Minister to remove the existing embargo on importations. I ask him to take that step now because it is necessary to immediately make arrangements if the fruit is to be landed in Australia in time to be of any service, at all. If the Minis_ter waits till the end of September the whole machinery of importation will be thrown out of gear, and instead of the fruit arriving here to supply the market when Australian fruit is exhausted, there will be two or three months of an interregnum between the exhaustion’ of the local article and the arrival of the imported. In any case, if the importation of apples immediately began with, the first ship leaving America, which would be due to arrive here about the 8th October, we could not- possibly import more than 75,000 cases before the end of the year, and that quantity could be absorbed without the slightest trouble, and certainly without any detriment whatever to the fruit-growers of the Commonwealth. Next year, when, we hope, a big crop will be available, we can deal with the importation question in the light, of the circumstances then obtaining. But to-day there is no reason or justification for a continuance of this prohibition. It is unfair to the people of Australia, and will tend to maintain the price of apples at the present rate, with increases as the season advances.
– What did the grower get in the Australian market at’ the beginning of the season ?
– About 4s. or 5s. per case, and at one period it was almost impossible to get buyers. The responsibility -for. that lies with our inefficient methods of distribution. It is not the grower who is getting the’ big prices now, but rather’ the speculators, who have held the fruit in cold storage and forced up the prices. It is all very well to talk about protecting the “grower; the unfortunate fact remains that he is so- much tied up with banks and other financial institutions that he is glad to take the best price he -can get, and, although the wholesalers are getting to-day 16s. per case, the growers from’ whom they bought the fruit probably did not get more than 6s. or 7s. It is not fair to the consumers of Australia, or to the growers of America, that the prohibition of importation should be continued .a day longer.
– Has America surplus supplies to send here?
– There is plenty of fruit available in America. The American crop is like our own - when it is available the growers desire to sell. They can hold uo their supplies much easier than we in Australia can, and thus insure a continuity of supply all through the year. Unfortunately, we in Australia have not reached that stage.
– Is the honorable member speaking of the United States of America or Canada?
– Of both. Of the 75,000 cases of apples to which I have referred, two or three shipments will come from Vancouver and the balance from San Francisco.. If those apples are allowed to land here there would be no competition with the Australian fruit, and our fruit-growers, if the reports of the annual conference are to be taken as a guide, are neither opposed to the importations of American fruit nor in favour of any additional duty, being imposed upon it. Therefore, I hope that the Minister will review this prohibition at an ©surly d.£it&
.- I trust that the Minister will give this question most earnest consideration before he removes the embargo on- importations.
– The honorable member is speaking for the Tasmanian fruit-grower.
– I am considering the consumer as well as the producer, and. I nave yet to learn that when the American apple was allowed, to enter Australia free - of duty the” consumer was able to buy apples one cent, cheaper. In fact, prices were higher than they are at the present time. There are no American apples on the Australian market to-day, but there are to be seen in shop windows apples equal to any that have ever been placed before the public. And this, notwithstanding that in Tasmania and other parts of the Commonwealth last season the moisture was so excessive as to give rise to a great deal of black spot, in consequence of which apple-growers suffered considerable loss.”
The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson) failed to inform the House that those for whom he was speaking in making this proposition wanted a fulcrum on which to place a lever to bring down and keep down the price of Australiangrown apples. The apple market has not been cornered by any body of persons in Australia., Small growers in Tasmania have themselves placed apples in cool storage. We have there about 70,000 cases in cool storage, while a number of cases are also stored in orchard sheds. As the honorable member -has stated, at the beginning of the season it
Was not possible to obtain more than 3s., 4s., and 5s. a case for apples. In such circumstances, many small growers refrained from rushing their fruit on the . market. Instead of doing so, they put it into cool storage, and they are looking to the prices prevailing to-day to save them from considerable loss. They are, after all, obtaining only a reasonable price for their fruit.
– What is a payable price?
– Speaking from my own personal experience, I would say that a grower should receive for his apples at least 5s. a case in the orchard if he is to work his land to the best advantage.
– That would be a low average price.
– It is a low price.
– In that estimate of 5s., does the honorable member include the cost of cases and packing?
– I think it is a fair thing.
– Quite so. I do not hold any special ‘brief for the orchardists of the Commonwealth. There are not many apple-growers in my elec-0 borate, but I am anxious that the industry should be fostered. I have been informed by men who can speak with authority that it is impossible to get’ Australian apples on the American market. That, being so, why should we give the American growers a preference over our own producers?
Much has been done by private enterprise in Tasmania to establish cool stores, and these stores have been successfully employed by the small growers. I am informed that the owner of the cool stores in my State gives the growers better terms than can be obtained in respect of either the Victorian Government cool stores or the co-operative cool stores a little way out of Melbourne. In short, it costs more to put apples into cool storage here than it does in- Tasmania. I am hopeful that cool storage in Tasmania will be considerably increased, so that the small growers may have an opportunity to conserve their supplies, and, by placing their fruit on the market at regular intervals, be able to keep their industry going as a fairly payable proposition. The value at taching to fruit-growing land is given to it only by the trees thereon. I question whether any bank would advance a shilling an acre on orchard land except for the fruit trees upon it. Such land is of very little -value for other purposes. In’ the early days, what was known as third class land in Tasmania could be obtained for 10s., and even 5s., per acre, because its value for fruit-growing purposes was then unknown. To-day the position has changed, and large areas which were at one time thought to be of very little value are now devoted to apple-growing.
I am prepared to show ‘the honorable member for Brisbane a letter” and a cablegram that I have received urging .that the Government should not allow the market to be flooded with -American apples to the detriment of Australian orchardists, who, during the . last two years, have passed through hard times.
– There are on sale in Sydney to-day Western Australian apples which are better than those from Tasmania. N
– The fruit merchants, who exploit both the public and the grower, are the worst possible menace to the industry.
– And the honorable member for Brisbane has been, putting before the House the case for the fruit merchants of Sydney and Brisbane. As to the interjection, made by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West) I would say that the apple production of Western Australia is very small compared with that, of Tasmania. Western Australian apples are carefully graded, and they colour up very well. Tasmanian apples may lack the colour of those grown in Western Australia, but their flavour is infinitely better. The Western Australian growers get their fruit on the London market a fortnight before the Tasmanian apples, and, catching the early market, thus ob- ‘ tain higher prices.
– The honorable member will find Western Australian apples being sold in Tasmania.
– I realize that the honorable member is not quite in earnest. My chief concern is “for the grower and the consumer in the Commonwealth. We, in the Commonwealth, hope next year to have a production of 6,000,000 bushels of apples, and it is questionable whether we could ship more than 1,500,000 bushels, even if they are evaporated, and place them on the Home market.
– That has not been possible even in the best year.
– I hope that it will be in the near future, otherwise we shall have a glut on the Australian market. I also trust that . the local consumption of apples will increase.
– Unless freights come down to one-fourth of what they are today I am afraid it will not pay to grow either wheat or apples.
– I disagree with the honorable member. If we have a crop of 6,000,000 bushels next year we shall have to utilize the local market to its utmost capacity, and what we cannot consume here must be evaporated -and sent to our men at the Front.
– They would be of no use to the men at the Front.
– Is not the honorable member aware that the men at the Front at the present time are consuming large quantities’ of apples treated; in the way I have just mentioned?
My desire is that the apple-growing industry shall be fostered. I object to the attitude taken up by a number of gentlemen who, at certain times, proclaim themselves Protectionists, but at other times are Free Traders.
– The honorable member is a Free Trader on matters affecting, himself.
– Not at all. I am not a geographical Protectionist; I hope the Government will give very careful consideration to this matter before yielding to the request that has. been made by the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson). The honorable member was careful to mention that his request came from importers of apples in Sydney. ‘ He named them, but I regret that he did not name the Brisbane importer to whom he also referred.
– Did not the Prime Minister say this afternoon that the Government had under consideration the advisableness of allowing apples to be imported during December and January?
– I think not. We have no objection to their coming in once our own apples are off the market. We strongly object, however, to the admis sion of American apples at the present time, seeing that small growers have considerable quantities in cool storage. The return which’ the Minister for Trade and Customs is having prepared will disclose the quantity of apples in cool storage in the Commonwealth.
– About 400,000 cases.
– Once we know the number of cases in cool ‘ storage it will be a simple matter to calculate how long the supply will last. Once the local supply has been exhausted the growers will not object to American apples coming in until such time as the next crop is available.,
I hope that steps will be taken to increase the cool storage available to our orchardists. A’ vast sum of money is to be spent on silos for the protection of our wheat; why should we not assist our orchardists by extending our cool stores ?
– The farmers themselves will have to pay for the silos.
– And the fruitgrowers will be prepared to pay for the cost of providing increased cool storage. I shall not “take up further time except to ask the Minister to consider well before he is influenced by the strong representations which are bound to be made to him by the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson) and the gentlemen he has named.
.- I should first like to draw attention to the objectionable manner in which questions are being answered concerning the expenditure of £2,068,000 on Government steam-ships. It is nearly a year ago that we were promised a Bill to deal with this matter, and I have brought it under the Prime Minister’s notice from time to time, with the only result that a measure has been promised “ as soon as possible.” Hundreds of thousands of pounds are being spent, and hundreds of thousands of pounds are being received by somebody; and I venture to say that neither the Treasurer nor his officers know anything about the business. These methods are irregular, and I hope that honorable members opposite, who pride themselves on their commercial knowledge, will see that the matter is attended to. We on this side, though strong in intellect, are few in numbers, and we can do nothing, especially with a gentleman of the disposition of the Prime Minister, who allows his utterances to be coloured by his vindictiveness.
– This is a business in connexion with which the whole House ought to be jealous as to its position.
– I am pleased to have that encouraging and approving . remark from the honorable member, for this is not , a party matter, or, at any rate, it ought not to be.
– I was going to say, further, that the honorable member who is speaking happened to be a member of the Ministry when the purchase was made.
– I am quite willing to answer that interjection. The Prime Minister had to get the money, and some one had to give authority for the expenditure. This authority could not be got from the Commonwealth without the Treasurer’s consent, and I, as Treasurer, gave consent.
– You were accessory before the fact.
– But I am not an accessory to the delay in the introduction of a Bill to make the expenditure legal, nor am I responsible for the delay in furnishing honorable members with information as to the methods adopted in the carrying out of the scheme - the number and names of the captains and officers, and all connected with the transaction.
As Prime Minister we have a most eloquent gentleman, who has paraded before the country as a great anti-German. Some honorable members on this side, who have ventured to speak in favour of peace, he has described as pro-German. It will be remembered that the Prime Minister went to England and elec- trifled the people of the Old Country by speeches and methods, which, I think, are open to some criticism.
– Subject to the Censor, of course.
– I do not think any one censored the Prime Minister’s speeches, unless he censored them himself.
– I refer to your criticism.
– The statement that the honorable memberfor Capricornia (Mr. Higgs.) made at Bendigo, in reference to the Anzac vote, was not censored.
– I am prepared to reply to that interjection. I made that statement in regard to the Anzac vote when addressing the electors at Bendigo, and when I wished to prove that in Australia there was an intolerable censorship. I told the audience that I was about to make a statement concerning the Anzac vote which would not appear in any newspaper in, Australia on the following day, and I quoted from a statement which the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson) had shown me in the Glasgow Weekly Herald - as an extract from another newspaper - that the Anzacvote was, I think, 106,000 against, and 40,000 or thereabouts for.
– Did you tell the audience in which newspaper the original statement appeared?
– I . am not sure that I did. The point is that there was a censorship regarding the Anzac vote; and, after my statement to the people at Bendigo the Prime Minister and his supporters were in a difficulty. The statement was, I believe, kept out of the Melbourne newspapers at the time, but the Government were compelled to allow, it to appear in the Bendigo newspapers in order that they might show I was wrong regarding the censorship. ‘
However, I must revert to the speeches of the Prime Minister in the Old Country. There the right honorable gentleman was spoken of as’ a strong man of action - as not only a man who could talk, but a man who could do things. Recently, I asked a question about some shares that were held by enemy subjects prior to the war. It has been stated in the press that thousands of shares were so’ held at that time, and that they are now in the hands of the Public Trustee. The question I asked was how many of the shares had been sold, and the Prime Minister’s reply was, “ None.” . This is a very curious answer, in view of what appears in the book entitled The Day, and After. This book is described on the title page as containing more speeches by the Right Honorable W. M. Hughes, Prime Minister of Australia, with a preface by the Right Honorable Lloyd George, M.P.’, and as “printed by authority.” The price marked is1s.; but I understand that at Cole’s Arcade, in Sydney, some hundredweight or more of the volumes are marked “ This lot 3d. each.” Mr. Lloyd George, in his preface, describes the speeches in very eulogistic terms.
– What is’ the flag of which a picture appears on the cover of the book?
– The flag represents the rising sun, ‘ which, of course, is the Japanese emblem; though I do not know what the honorable member means by his remark.
– I do not mean anything; I merely ask a question.
– In one of these forceful speeches, on the need for a national policy, delivered at a conference at the City Chambers, Glasgow, on 28th April, 1916, the Lord Provost Dunlop in the chair, the Prime Minister, describing what had been done , with the Germans in Australia, said -
Now, what we have done is this:- “We,” of course, means the Australians -
We have wiped all these agencies out in Australia.
That is, German agencies–
We have purged every company of every German shareholder, whether he was naturalborn or whether he was not. There is only one way in which you can do this thing - do . it with such thoroughness that the Germans will avoid this country as though it were the very plague itself. We have compelled the companies to” buy out. We have robbed no man, German or Englishman, of his fair rights. Every share that a German held has been bought at market price. So much is their due. Let them have their pound ‘of flesh; but, in God’s name, ‘let them be gone!
Is it, or is it not, truethat every company in Australia has been purged of German influence, or are these shares still held by Germans who are profiting by them?
– The shares are held by the Comptroller-General of Customs,- and they are about to be sold in a day or two.
– The speech from which I quote was made last . year in England, evidently misleading the people of the Old Land into thinking what a wonder-‘’ fully loyal and patriotic place Australia is to cut out every German, and sell every German share.
– You will remember that before the Prime Minister left for England these persons were required to furnish statements to the Attorney-General’s Department.
– But the point is that the Prime Minister told the people of England that every German had been cut out, and every German share sold. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey), in. his publication Hughes and HisViews, pointed out that these shares were still held by the Germans, and would be kept in trust for them by our public officials until after the war, when the Germans would resume their control.
– That would not apply to ordinary working Germans.
– Ordinary working Germans employed on the wharfs at Rockhamption were deprived of work. International law appears now to be a dead letter, but, prior to the present war, it was held that, although in former times private, as well as public, property went to the conqueror, private property in modern times in every case remained sacred. If, for instance, Japan had thoroughly beaten Russia, shewould have taken the public property of that country, but would have respected the rights of private ownership. I am not now discussing the ethics of , the Prime Minister’s proposal to sell these shares ; I am merely pointing out that the right honorable gentleman told the people of Great Britain that the shares had been sold, whereas they are not yet sold. It is said, moreover, that the other day, when it was proposed to sell them, certain persons went to the Government and got the sale put off. If the Labour party had failed to act in a matter of this kind, we should have been described by the Prime Minister as pro-Germans. I should like to know what reply the Prime Minister has to make to the charge that he misled the public of Great Britain, andhas failed up to the present time to deal with these shares in themanner in which he said they had been dealt, with. I have it on the authority of the right honorable gentleman that hundreds of thousands of shares in Australian companies are in the hands . of the Comptroller-General of Customs, who is acting as public trustee. Now that the question has been raised, the Government is prepared to act,. Had it not been raised, the Prime Minister, who has been parading his loyalty throughout the country, would have done nothing, and the shares would have remained in the hands of the public trustee.
– When was the question raised.?
– The papers ‘will show” whether the question asked in this House yesterday led to the sale of the shares.
– The Prime Minister slept on the matter for some years, and we can only surmise that it would have been allowed to rest still longer had not the question been raised.
– The matter was. under consideration when the honorable member himself was Treasurer.
– Apparently the Prime Minister still has it under consideration. I have never made a speech telling the people that a thing had been done which had not been done. The Prime Minister has misled the people with an inaccurate statement. The sooner the general public gets to know that it can rely very little on what he says the better.
.:- Some time ago the producers of maize throughout Queensland approached the Prime Minister,, through me, among others, to see what could be done to stimulate their industry, and, on the 8th of this month, I received the following letter from the Prime Minister’s Department : -
With reference to your letter of the 29th May, and previous correspondence on the subject of the maize crop, I am directed by the Prime Minister to inform you that, in reply to representations in this connexion, the British Government advised that, as there was insufficient tonnage for wheat and flour, they were unable to negotiate for the purchase of by-products of maize.
I am to add that, so far, maize-growers have not availed themselves of.the invitation of the Prime Minister to organize, and submit for consideration, a scheme for dealing with the problem, in view of the absence of oversea freight.
Many of us thought that action would have been taken in this matter before the imposition of new duties on Friday last. If the Excise duty on starch made from rice were increased to 2d. per lb.; and the Excise duty on starch made from maize left at Id. per lb., it would stimulate the use of maize. At least 1,000,000 bushels of maize could be used to make starch and other by-products. The rice used in this country is imported from” countries in which it is grown by means of black labour, and when imported for the making of starch it is admitted duty free. But starch can be made of maize just as well as of rice, and 98 per cent, of the starch used in the United States of America is made of maize. If the Government is desirous of helping the man on the land, it will give practical consideration to this question’. In many parts of New South Wales, and in very many parts of Queensland, there are rich scrub lands on which wheat, barley,, and many other cereals do not do well, because in a climate like that of Queensland, with such rich land, and a big rainfall, the straw grows so thick that it is impossible to property dry it before stacking, and thus mildew spoils the grain. It is only after the ground has been cropped many times that these cereals can be grown on it profitably. Much of that land is consequently put under grass for the pasturing of dairy cattle. It is a waste of land, which is as good as that at Warrnambool, to use it only for pasturage, and if encouragement were given to the growers of maize by guaranteeing, through the Tariff, a reasonable price for their production, ‘this < land would be largely devoted to maize growing. In my electorate, maize has been sold, in small quantities for as little as ls. 3d. per bushel. The Maize Products Proprietary, of Footscray, has stated in writing that if it had reasonable protection for its’ manufactures it would be able to give at least 4s. a bushel for maize, which would mean a price of more than 3s. per bushel to the growers, who are now getting from ls. 3d. to ls. 6d. per -bushel. In Australia there is room for a population as large as that of the United States of America, where they have over 110,000,000 inhabitants, and grow over 3,000,000,000 bushels of maize a year, as against about 5,000,000 inhabitants here. Unless encouragement is given to the primary producer, good land will fall out of cultivation, and men will come from the - country to compete with the labour already in the cities and towns. There is an Excise of Id. per lb. on starch made from rice imported free, but when duty is paid on the rice, at the rate of 3s. 4d. per cental, the Excise is not levied. I suggest that, to encourage the manufacture of starch from maize, the Excise duty on starch made from rice should be inr creased to 2d. per lb., or the manufacture qf starch from rice imported from black labour countries should be prohibited.
Another anomaly in the Excise duties is the fact that, although in America and elsewhere the product of maize is used very largely in the manufacture of beer, it is specially penalized in Australia. The Excise duty on ale, porter, or other beers not made exclusively from barley malt and hops, is 6d. per gallon, as against 5d. per gallon on ale, porter, or other beers made from barley malt and hops.
– Since then, the Tariff has been raised to 6d. and 7d.
– Yes, last Friday. But the difference of1d. is still there. Why should there be that difference? Why should the very product that is largely grown in Australia be penalized to that extent if it is utilized in the manufacture of ale or stout?
– In the same way, potatoes are prohibited from being used in the manufacture of spirit.
– Probably potatoes do not produce a good spirit. If maize will provide a good material for the purpose of making ale and stout, why should it be penalized ? If the product is not good, it will not be used. At any rate, I do not see why it should not be put on an even keel with the other items. Then, again, in regard to glucose. The honorable member may say that I am up against sugar, but I do not support any particular industry. I support every industry that needs support. The glucose that is manufactured in Melbourne from maize is used by brewers and confectionery manufacturers, and why should it be penalized?
– It is not. There is no Excise on glucose now. It was wiped out in 1914.
– There is an importation of glucose, mostly from America.
– Very little has been imported during the last year.
– But, after the war, it. will come in again. If the factories know, that, after the war is over, they will be protected to the extent that, through the war, they are now, they will manufacture glucose from maize. It is no encouragement to an industry, especially in a new country such as Queensland is, where there are very few things, that can be grown when the land is first cultivated except maize, not to provide in the Tariff that the local production shall have at least protection against articles that are imported. If these concessions were made, a firm at Footscray, which is now using 1,500 , bushels of maize daily, could use 1,200,000 bushels per annum, which is equal to 4,000 bushels daily. That would be of immense assistance, and the means of settling large numbers of people on the land. We hear from the Prime Minister that no assistance can possibly be given to the shipping of maize. That is practically saying that it will be useless to put our soldiers on some of the richest land in Australia without alteration of the Tariff. It offers no encouragement to men to extend their cultivation in a new country, and it will operate as an inducement to them to go into , the towns and find occupations there. If for no other reason, the Government should, with as little delay as possible, make such alterations in the Tariff as will enable them to settle returned soldiers and others on the land of which . I have spoken, to make it more productive, so that more producers may be in a position to feed those. who are living in the towns. I trust that the Minister for Trade and Customs will go into the matter fully, and that it will not be long before , we can convey from this House some information that will encourage our young men to settle on the land, instead of harboring in the cities.
.- My object in rising is to place on record a few facts, and to express a few opinions on the situation confronting us to-day. We have heard the Prime Minister talk about cutting out the cancer of German influence, and we have heard him say that a number of us are identified with German interests. To-day I askedthe Prime Minister a question, and, in reply, I was told that the prohibitions against German firms were no longer necessary because they had been imposed by the United States of America and Japan. A prohibition appeared in the Government Gazette on the 7th June last in connexion with certain German firms operating in Japan, and it was removed because, as the Prime Minister has explained, a prohibition having been imposed bythe Japanese Government, there is now no need for that prohibition on our part. In spite of what the Prime Minister has. told us, I say that there is no prohibition imposed by Japan on any German firm operating in its territory. As a matter of fact, from the beginning of the war the Japanese Government have not put up any prohibition against any German firm operating in its. territory. As long as any German firm operating in Japan conducts itself in accordance with the laws of Japan, it can carry on operations there.
The removal of the prohibition here is entirely due to the fact that Japan wishes to do a larger trade with us, and finds that her means of carrying on trade with us is curtailed by reason of such a large portion of her . business being in the hands of German firms operating in her country who were affected by our prohibition. The Prime Minister talks about eradicating German influence, and he prohibits any trading with the Aachen and Munich Fire Insurance Company, of Queen-street, yet one can carry on business with the same firm operating in Japan. We prohibit the importation of products in the names of the Deutsche Apotheke, Weinberger and Company, Winckler and Company, Fiecke and Company, Meier and Company, Berg, Werner, and Company, and so forth, “yet we can carry on correspondence and business with those firms in Japan. The same thing applies in regard to the United States of America. We have had a prohibition against German firms who carry on business in America. Suddenly, on the 12th July, that prohibition was removed. The prohibition applied, among others, to Bauer, Phillip, and Company, and Beer, Sondheimer, and Company. The latter was the firm connected with the metal gang operating in Australia. The other day there appeared in Dunn’s Gazette a notice of the reconstitution of the Electrolytic Smelters. The names of Seigfried Hirsch and Frank Snow appear as foundation directors. And while we were talking of cutting out the cancer of German trade the Aaron Hirsch people had a lot of concentrates at Port Pine, and the Union Bank made advances to Frank Snow, who was the agent handling these concentrates. Furthermore, the Prime Minister, while talking about cutting out the cancer of German trade, immediately opened the door so that the Union Bank could open up negotiations with the Aaron Hirsch Company through America. To-day I asked why these prohibitions had been removed, and I was told that it was no longer necessary to impose, them because Japan had imposed them. I maintain that Japan has not imposed them.
In. regard to the shares held by enemy subjects, I also took the liberty of asking the Prime Minister a question. While the right honorable gentleman was telling the people of England that the whole of the German cancer had been eradicated, and on his return to this country made the same affirmation, at the same time charging many of us with having been direct agents of the Germans, he placed the whole of the metal business, and a large amount of other industrial business, directly in the hands of W. L. Baillieu and others who were the very instruments forthe introduction of the Germanic in- . terests in Australia, and right up to the outbreak of war were direct “pals” of that influence, and ever since have been the local controllers of Germanic interests.
– That is a serious reflection upon a gentleman who is in public life in this country.
– They are all mixed up in it. I am going to. show how they are mixed up in it.
– The honorable member will have to prove such a statement or withdraw it.
– Prove it or be shot, I suppose. The statement has been made that all the shares held by these enemy subjects have been forfeited. What has been done with those shares’?
– The Deutsche Bank hold 15,400 shares in the Broken Hill ‘ Proprietary. The Dresdner Bank hold 5,000 shares in the same company. The Disconto Gesellschaft hold 300 shares in it. The Minister for Trade and Customs, in his capacity as Public Trustee, holds these shares.
– Can you say who was agent for the Beer, Sondheimer people before the outbreak of the war?
– Frank Snow. The claim was made that 100,000 German shares would be forfeited, and that German influence was to be eradicated. These shares were to be placed in the hands of a Public Trustee, and held by him for sale. The Minister for Trade and Customs has held them for fourteen months. Why are they nob sold? A few months ago,’ when people began to say, “ Why not act as well as talk?” articles began to appear in the various metal journals.
The Argus published an article in which it was stated that it would be improper to sell these shares. . Why were they not sold? Because Rodgers and Company,’ of the Sydney section of the metal gang, did not desire them to be sold. We do not know why, but one fact is evident, namely, that Rodgers and W. L. Baillieu and Company did not want the shares put on the market at that juncture.
Mr.Rodgers. - Do you make the statement that they did not want the increment in value from, pre-war times, to the present day?
– I am not talking about pre-war times, but about the operations during the last few months. This action was taken, since the outbreak of war. The Metal Exchange was formed only recently. Several months ago the Prime Minister said that he. was going to have these shares sold immediately, and the statement he made to-day, that they would be sold forthwith, is merely a repetition of what we heard before. The moment he made that statement the metal crowd began to object. One would naturally ask, Would they not be pleased to get the possible increment of value between now and the end of the war ? I do not know why they objected, but I do know what appeared in the press and what is said in financial circles.
– If you forced the Ger- man shares on the market, would it not affect the value of other people’s shares-?
– Ah! Now we have the reason. . That is what I have been coming to.
– Is there a wish to destroy other people’s interests? One would think so by the cheers from honorable members opposite.
– The point is that the Government were allowing that consideration to intervene.
– I have no wish for a course to be pursued which would destroy the value of all other shares upon the market.
– Then why do honorable members opposite cheer ?
– I suppose they cheered because they appreciated the fact which the honorable member disclosed to them. The reason which the honorable member quoted is one of those to which I was leading, but it is not the only reason. It is the especial argument of Rodgers and Baillieu, and the other members of the metal ‘gang, that the flooding of the market with a large number of these German shares at this particular juncture would destroy the value of their shares. That would be a perfectly legitimate consideration for the Government to take into account, but if that is the reason . for not selling the shares, why do not the Government say so ? Do not make bogus excuses or pretences. Do not tell the people that you have eradicated’ the last element of German influence when you have not. Say straightforwardly that the reason you axe not putting the shares on the market is that the flooding of the market -with the property of Germans would depreciate the value of the shares of other large holders in the metal companies of ‘ the Commonwealth. Those shares could not be put on the market without destroying the value of the shares of the metal gang, and they had to choose between the interests of their pockets and the interests of their country - whether they should lose money or should destroy the Germanic influence, and take away German interests in Australian industry. Faced with that alternative, they said, “ Let the Germans retain their interests rather than that we should lose any of the value of our shares.”
After sixteen months the Germanic interest in these companies is still retained, and we have had the argument advanced that the shares are not put on. the market because that course would affect the interests of the present British holders. On the other hand, we are now again told that they are to be sold forthwith.
– You did hot get the former -statement from the Government,
– But the interjection came from an ex-Treasurer.
– The other day I attempted to publish to the people some of these facts that appeared in the Gazette, but I was debarred, from doing, so, and the people ‘connected with the journal in which the information was . to appear were taken before the Court and heavily fined. The matter had actually appeared in the Government Gazette. but the reason we were fined was that, without submitting the matter to the censor, we had published the construction which we placed upon the facts.
To-day the Labour newspapers of the country are almost entirely the only papers which are subjected to the censorship. Those journals are not allowed to publish, what is allowed to be published in the daily press. If a Labour journal seeks to republish a paragraph published in the Age or the Argus, it must submit the matter, to the censor: When the matter is. submitted, the paragraph is eliminated; and if it is not submitted, the Labour paper is prosecuted. In regard to the matter which we wished to republish from the Gazette, after we had been prosecuted, we submitted the matter to the censor. He cut out half of it, and said we could publish the balance. We could publish the essential facts, but we might not comment upon them. At the end of this Gazette notice, which was signed by the Minister for Trade and Customs “ by His Excellency’s Command,” there appeared the words “ God Save ,the King.” So I wrote at the head of my article, “ God save the- King.” What could be more loyal? But - the official censored “ God save the King.” I objected to my loyalty being brought into -question in that manner, and I asked, “Why censor ‘God save the King ‘ ?” The answer I received was, “ I do not think you mean it.” So it is right through’ the piece. Publish “ Three cheers for France,” well and good; publish “Three cheers for Italy,” all right; but attempt to publish “ Three cheers for Japan,’’ and out it goes, because “ We do not think you mean it.” They censor not only what you write, but what they think you mean.’ Here is a paragraph that appeared in the Broadmeadows Camp Sentry, a little paper published by the Sportsmen’s Thousand -
The top-notcher officers in the Federal Service have had their screw increased. The Government is calling for economy by the poorer classes and fattening up the upper ten. These are the ‘things that help recruiting - we don’t think.
We desired to republish that paragraph, but were not permitted to do so. If we dared to republish it, we would be prosecuted. I understand that the Government are going to prevent the publication of this soldiers’ paper, or to censor it in order to prevent the soldiers saying too much. Here is another instance : Herbert Brookes said “ he preferred German militarism to Australian unionism.” He was allowed to make that statement, and it was published throughout Australia.
– There is very little difference between the two as things are going to-day.
– (I think the honorable . member is perfectly right in his interjection. Perhaps I shall save a lot of time and argument if I tell the honorable member that I think Australian unionism should be stamped out in the same way as German militarism. If it cannot be done by the ordinary processes of the law, we are rapidly marching to the stage when it will probably be done at the point of the bayonet. If the remark made by Brookes was not calculated to create discord, what was? .1 proposed to write, in reply, “ Brookes and his crowd want conscription, not to win the war, but to smash unionism.” If Brookes could make his statement, had I not a perfect right to make the other remark in reply? I did not object to the liberty given him. His remark did not help the enemy; it did not stop recruiting; but when I retorted that Brookes was not trying to win the war, but to smash unionism, the censor intervened. Where is the justice in that? These censors draw about £30,000 a year in salaries. The salaries . of the censors in this State would amount to about £8,000, but the, majority of papers ‘in Melbourne are not censored at’ all. There are newspaper offices in this city which the censor never enters, and whose publications he never looks at; but any little Labour journal suspected of radical tendencies - whether it be the Bulletin, the Labour Gall, or any other - may not print a line that “ Brown is going to sell sausages to-morrow “ unless it submits the matter to the censor, and then he would probably delete the paragraph on the ground that it might refer to German sausages.
I have put before the House a few facts that the censor will not allow to appear in the press of this country. They will now appear in Hansard. I am sorry to have occupied the attention of honorable members at such length, thus preventing the Government from winning the war as speedily as they would like. I am anxious, however, to learn what the Go- vernment intend to do in regard to the eradication of this German influence in Australian industries. . To-morrow the shares will be sold. I have a few pounds, and I want to buy some.
In a letter addressed to me by the censor, the statement appears, “You will not be prevented from saying, ‘ Hughes’ is winning the war.’ “ Why should I not be allowed to do that? If I had proposed to state that he was not winning the war, the position would have been different. I might then have been declared to be guilty of treason, or something equally terrible. But can any one say that there was anything wrong in my proposal to show “ How Hughes is winning the war”?
– But what was the context?
– The censor went on to say that I would not be prevented from using such words “ if the context of such statement is unobjectionable.” He feared that my object was to show that the Prime Minister was not helping to win the war. Are statements made by me to be censored merely because they are “objectionable “ ? There is only one sound principle to be observed in any interference with the liberty of the press. The right to publish any statement should be determined by the question of whether or not that statement is injurious to the . country, or is calculated to help the enemy, or to stop recruiting. In this article, I had not a word to say which would come under any of those headings. I merely proposed to show how the Prime Minister was doing his utmost to win the war. The censor, in this letter, went on to say, however, that the context was “objectionable,” and that the same remark applied to another article entitled “God save the King.” I was at perfect liberty, he said, to print those words as often as I desired, provided that they conveyed no objectionable meaning. In other words, he said, “You are. at liberty to print the words as often as you like, if you mean what you say, but I am not sure that you do.” The deletion of the words “ Three cheers for Japan!” was also held to be correct, because, read in conjunction with the rest of the article, the implication, “whether sarcastic or not,” was not permissible. In other words, I must not publish anything that is sarcastic. The censor said, further, that I would not be allowed to state that the daily press of 15th June had announced that hundreds of pianos were about to arrive “from Japan. An announcement had appeared in the daily press to that effect, and I desired to reprint , it. I wished to give the public the benefit of the knowledge that they could get good, cheap Japanese pianos. Why should that knowledge be denied them? I wanted to make known the fact, but the censor said, in effect, “ We will not allow you to publish it, because there- is an objectionable context to the statement.” My remarks, apparently, were considered to ‘ be satirical, and, therefore, could not be published. This, then, is the state of human liberty in Australia.
What happened ‘again yesterday? Throughout the session I had kept my mouth closed in this House, my’ desire being not to delay the Government in their efforts to win . the war. Yesterday afternoon, however, I addressed a ques- tion to Mr. Speaker in regard to the presence of 500 police, more or less, in the basement of this building. That question was published in the Herald before thecensor could overtake and suppress it. But the morning papers were not permitted to publish it. The public are not to know that there were 500 police, more or less, in the basement.
– It is not true that there were 500 police in the basement.
– I was careful to use the words “ more or less.” As a matter of fact, the basement was crowded with police. I went down to have a look at them. I also wished to give the people the information that a fire brigade was close at hand with about a thousand yards of . hose ready to squirt water on the people outside this building. I was not allowed however, to make known that fact to the general public. Why was my question suppressed ? The answer is that the Government did not want the country to know what was being done in that direction.. Such absurdities of suppression do no good to the Government or any one else.
There are two fundamental facts with which Ihave dealt. The first has reference to the outrageous censorship unfairly and improperly exercised, and the second relates to the assertions which have been made as to the extermination of German influence in Australia. That, assertion is a fraud on the public. German ownership in the industries of Australia is as great as it was at the beginning of the war. I do not believe that the Prime Minister - I shall say nothing about his colleagues - has any real intention of eradicating German holdings in the industries of Australia. When the war is over those interests are going back to Germanic companies, and the talk that we have heard as to the eradication of German influence is the biggest flam that was ever perpetrated upon a great Democracy.
– I regret that the Prime Minister was not present while the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) and the honor able member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) were addressing the House. It is just as well that his absence should be known to the public, since it will ‘ explain why many statements made by those honorable members, and which will go into wholesale consumption, were allowed to pass unchallenged.
Dealing first of all with the statements made by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs), I may say at once that I do not approve of what I might describe as the almost vindictive spirit in which he approached the question of the German metal interests’, and the action taken by the Prime Minister in regard to them. At the same time, I feel that he has raised a very grave issue, the importance of which has been emphasized by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey). As one who took a very keen interest in the efforts made to eradicate the German interests in the Australian metal industry,I feel that the country is entitled to. know whether or not any direct German interests will benefit in the use that has been made of our base metals since the outbreak of the war. The whole matter ought to be cleared up.
– The honorable member will admit that the companies to which reference has been made are making huge profits, and that the shareholders must participate in those profits.
– As I pointed out while the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) was speaking, the market value of these base metals to-day is very different from what it was when steps were . taken to eradicate the German interests in these companies. Immediately after the outbreak of war there was an almost complete dislocation of the trade, but soon after it was put on a different footing. And it is the position at that stage which ought to be definitely cleared up. If the statements which the honorable member for Capricornia and the honorable member for Bourke have made are true in substance, then we have not tackled this question as we should have done. The honorable member for Bourke mentioned a man in the public life of Australia who, he said, had, before the war, some association with German interests. The nature of that association or connexion the honorable member did not tell us, but he went on to say that today this public man had resumed his former relationship with the’ German companies. That is a very grave charge, and it cannot be allowed to rest where it is. If, in Australia, any man during the course of this the most bloody war in the history” of mankind, has allowed himself to be associated with enemy interests, then the matter cannot be allowed to rest where it is. Those responsible for the statement, as well as the gentleman named, and the Prime Minister, who has handled this question from the first, cannot allow it to stop where it is.
Coming to the question of the ownership and value of these shares, there must be something wrong” with the trusteeship which has been set up in respect of those shares if residents of Germany are still allowed to participate in the profits made by the companies concerned as the result of the base metal industries of Australia. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) made a clear-cut distinction between international policy with regard to territory taken, in war and the individual rights in property of the citizens of belligerent countries. Between the two he drew a clear line of demarcation, and I hold that in the trusteeship under discussion an equally clear line should be drawn. On the day on which these shares were taken over they should have been valued, and any subsequent increase in their value should go to the Empire, and not to Germany.
– Why not go backstill further, and fix the values as from the outbreak of war?
– We could not do that, since for a certain time after the outbreak of war enemy subjects were allowed to hold shares in these companies.
– We should take the date on which they had the least value.
– No; we must deal honestly with them. All interests in these shares passed from these people as from a particular date.
– Is the honorable member aware that the very substance of the litigation between certain Germans, the Union Company, and Frank Snow was the question of valuation?
– I presume that that would be the kernel of the whole matter. These enemy subjects should be. entitled to the market value of the shares on the day on which they were dispossessed of them, and from that date every increment resulting from the commercial relations between this country and the Imperial Government, who have used these base metals, should be for the benefit of the Empire, and not for that of any German subject resident in Germany.
This matter must be cleared up. I feel certain that the Prime Minister will have a full and, I hope, a satisfactory state- ment to make. Having regard to the vigorous action taken by him-
– His vigorous talk of action.
– I do not want to adopt the trend of thought in which the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) indulged when dealing with this matter. A good case is often deprived of all its merit when approached in the wrong spirit. I shall say no more concerning this matter. It is a big and a dangerous question to discuss as fearlessly as the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) has done, unless one is sure of his facts. It is a serious thing to make reckless charges against a public man as to his having resumed business relations with persons resident in a declared enemy country.
– My Rabaul charges were said to be reckless, but they proved to be correct.
– I hope, though not alone for his own sake, that the honorable member is absolutely wrong in his charges.
I now come to a subject that was raised in the House yesterday.1 I refer to the unique opportunity that is afforded to Australia at the present time to obtain . some of the blood stock of Britain, which is the finest in the world. This is one of the most valuable assets of the Old Country, and it has taken not generations, but centuries, to. create. Unfortunately, owing to the war, the studmasters there find themselves placed under very restricted conditions, and they are compelled to disperse some of the studs in their possession. Recently, at the instance of yourself, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the House considered very carefully the question of blood horse breeding as a sound basis of a defence system. Personally, I have taken much interest in horse breeding, arid I think I can, with , all modesty, say that if we wish to perpetuate a high type of animal, the foundation must be pure blood. Many of the great studmasters of the Old Country are men of landed estate; but, with a complete disregard of their life’s work, and the work of their fathers before them, they are prepared, in a patriotic spirit, to disperse their studs in order that the land may be put to the production of corn and other foodstuffs for the people. Our climate is, perhaps, even better suited for breeding than that of Great Britain, and now, when our larders are full, we have, as I say, an excellent opportunity to lay the foundation of what ought, in the future, to be the greatest studs in the world. The French Government, I may point out, have paid as much as £22,000 for one good sire in England ; and though we do not wish to take advantage of the studmasters at Home in their present circumstances, we should awake to the opportunity that is now presented, when these great studs are to be scattered to the. four quarters of the earth.
I should not appeal so strongly were it not a fact that private individuals are, iri a great measure, prevented, almost debarred, by the restrictions on shipping under the control of the British and Australian Governments, from themselves embarking on the project. The brains, business capacity, and foresight of the studmasters of Australia account for the high _ standard of our own flocks and herds; and I am sure there is sufficient enterprise left to secure further improvements. I suggest that the Government get quickly into communication with the British Government, in order that we may secure a supply ‘of brood mares and sires with which to found what, as I have said, should be the most famous studs the world has even seen.
.- The question of German .financial interests in Australian mineral ventures is one the discussion of which I do not think any honorable member regrets. When it was first raised, the proposal was to force a sale of German share holdings throughout Australia. I pointed out as forcibly as I was able to the Minister who was then acting for the Prime Minister that the action ‘proposed could* not help the Australian mineral industry, and must inevitably help the German shareholders. To force a sale at a time when the disturbance of the money market would detrimentally affect the Australian Treasury -to what extent I am not in a position to state - and would give these German shareholders the capitalized value of the war values of ‘ the minerals produced, would manifestly be. bad policy. I suggested that the proper course to adopt was for the Government to take some steps which would insure these German shareholders being absolutely debarred from exercising any influence in the control or governance of the companies in which they were shareholders. I have since suggested to the Government that they ought either to arrange to credit the public trustee with the values of these German holdings at the date of the declaration of war, or hold them until after the war, and then sell the shares and grant the proceeds to the German holders.
– What about the increment at the close of the war?
– The increment ‘ after the war will in many cases have more than disappeared, though not where there are long-distance British contracts. Personally” I should prefer to see the Germans given the value at the time when the action of their Government placed them outside the pale of our laws.
– If your suggestion were, adopted, what about the- accruing dividends in the meantime?
– I do not know that we are compelled to make provision for these increases in dividends to.-go to German shareholders. Germany . broke the world’s peace, and I think German shareholders must take their share of the responsibility of the German people. So far as the capital value of the shares is concerned, undoubtedly they are entitled only to what the shares were worth at the time that we extended Australian hospitatlity to. them and their money. As to subsequent increases in dividends, what right have these German shareholders to them, considering that their own Government has brought about the intense suf fering to the British and other peoples in the world, which the. metals produced help to avenge.
I have risen this afternoon not so much to deal with the question of German shareholders as to draw the attention of honorable members to what I consider to be a false step either already taken - I am informed it has been gazetted, though I cannot find the notice - or proposed to be taken in connexion with’ another aspect of German ownership. I refer to “ good-will “ in German trade. It is now a considerable time since I urged upon the Government .of the day, led by Mr. Fisher, and subsequently on the first Hughes Administration, the desirableness of killing German good-will here by abolishing the use of German trade names and descriptions^ The House was given to understand that that - course was to be followed, and, I think, with two exceptions it was followed. In< one of these cases the persons who got the licence to produce under a German trade name have ceased to use it; and now; to my intense astonishment and regret, I find it is actually proposed to abolish the German copyright in those trade names and descriptions, and allow any manufacturer in Australia, who desires to make immediate profit, to popularise them by using them indiscriminately. I cannot imagine any way better calculated to help German trade good-will in this country.
The more people we have turning out goods under German names and descriptions, the more surely will Germany profit in Australia after the war is over. In the drug trade, for instance, the trade names are merely coined names for mercantile dealing in certain well-known com-: pounds. The ingredients of the- drugs are thoroughly well known, and there is no particular fetish in the trade names. But these names have received a value because of the great commercial efficiency of the German agents in this country and throughout the world. The public have been led to believe there is some particular magic in the drug covered by the name. There is no magic, but the public believe there is, just as an African fetish worshipper believes there is some magic in the .fetish behind the priest.
We shall have a whole host of persons turning out, for instance, aspirin, and all competing in articles under that name.
When the war is over, and the Germans come here, they will proceed to sell the drug under the name which they have popularised. Their agents will say, “ Now we offer you the real original article”; and there is no doubt that the Australian public will flock to buy what is offered. As a very reasonable course, which the Government ought to have followed on its own initiative nearly two years ago, I have suggested that we get into touch with the British Government, and all the allied Governments, and arrive at a common list of synonyms for all these drugs.
– Sellers ought to be compelled to put the real name of the drug on the article.
– Occasionally that is too long,’ as, for instance, in the case of aspirin, the formula of which is acetylsalicylic acid. As a matter of - fact, there is no particular reason why we should not call a drug what we. choose; and I would point out’ that one synonym for this drug, suggested in Sydney, was eutosal. If we could arrange with all the allied peoples that particular drugs shall be sold in - allied countries only under synonyms fixed upon, we should at one stroke of the pen, while the war is still on, wipe out existing German good-will in the trade for ever.
– How would that affect us after the war when, as you say, the Germans would come here with the “genuine” article?
– The Germans could not play that old trick, because it would be against the. law to sell under, the old name. What’ I desire is to kill German good-will, and I suggest legalizing short synonyms under which alone, by law, the ingredients in the compounds shall be sold.
– That is already in force in Western Australia.
– But there is no law which can prevent goods being sold under any name, so long as the ingredients are disclosed.
– So long as the ingredents are known to the Department.
– The average member of the public would be scarcely sufficiently informed to know the names of the ingredients, and he would choose the compound with the name of which he was familiar.
– At the Panama Exhibition every patent medicine and drug had to have the full names of the ingredients displayed on the bottle or packet.
– That is quite right.
– And that plan has been adopted by a Select Committee of the House of Commons.
– I think thatthat should have been done by democracies at the beginning, - and not left until this period. In nothing has the public been so exploited to its detriment as in the selling of quack medicines, the misuse of which, in many cases, does more harm than the drugs properly applied could do good.. But I am not dealing with that aspect of the matter now; my aim is the killing in this country of German goodwill in drugs. The only argument with which I have been met is that the terms of peace will decide these things. I wish to expose the futility of that argument, and to warn honorable members against being too optimistic about the conditions of peace. ‘ It is ludicrous to say, when engaged in a life and death struggle, “ Put this matter off until we have the other side down.” We have a chance now, by mere secretarial action, to do lasting good to our own people, and lasting damage to our enemies.. Why, then, wait for the conclusion of peace? I do not want my words to be exaggerated or misunderstood, but I venture to say that any concession obtained by agreement from Germany for the destruction of her post-war trade will bethe most difficult that we can extort from her. To talk of such things at a peace conference will be the surest way of consolidating German opinion against peace. I believe that, as the pressure of war becomes more and more intolerable in Germany, we shall gain unofficial allies there in the great producing and manufacturing interests which are threatened with utter ruin. Those connected with such industries will shortly begin - if they have not already started - to influence their Government in favour of peace. But we shall drive them into the other camp, and make them, for their own preservation, implore their Government! to’ wage the war to the bitter end, if we try to get what we want in this matter by arrangement with Germany. The best way to deal with the thing is here and now, and in concert with our Allies, as an ordinary act of domestic administration. We have the power.
Why not use it ? If we. use it, German goodwill in the drug trade will disappear for all time, and cannot be built up anew. German merchants will not be able to say after the war, “ .This is the original secret preparation, the only valid drug.” They will have to sell their drugs under our’ trade names, stating as well, if you like, the formula of every preparation, and they will have to compete with Australian manufacturers on fair terms. There will be no resurrected fetish, to be used to their advantage.
– The Australian manufacturer is as big an offender as the German manufacturer.
– He is not so efficient an offender.
– It is not for lack of desire.
– My present object is the public good in this matter. Personally, I would put the Australian manufacturers on the same plane as all others by requiring them to state their formulae. But I want the Government, .now, to say under what names these articles shall be sold. If that is done throughout the allied countries we shall kill for all time the preying on the ignorance and credulity of the masses, which has brought great gain to Germany. I urge the Government to take immediate action. The only answer that I have received to my most recent representations on the subject is that the matter will receive consideration. The AttorneyGeneral’s Department is so congested that very little gets beyond’ that stage there.
– There is too much work for one man.
– That is so. It is not right to put on the shoulders of Sir Robert Garran the preliminary investigation of all these matters. Nor should the overloaded Prime Minister have to grapple with the supreme ‘responsibility in all these matters. What is needed is more action and less protestation. ‘ If action be taken on the lines that I suggest, our Allies will see its value, and we shall, by putting it into effect, do more harm to German trade than could be done by making speeches from now until the proclamation of peace.
.- It was my misfortune not to be present during the earlier part of the speech of the honorable member who has just sat down (Mr. Kelly), but if it was as good as that portion which I heard I compliment the honorable member upon having made the best speech that I have heard him deliver. I know something of the work that he has done in exposing the actions of certain German concerns here in regard to which the Government’ have not been so firm as. he and I could have wished. From my student days at St. Mary’s, I have advocated the nationalization of medicine, and I should like the Government to insist that no medicine shall be sold in Australia unless its complete formula is stated on the bottle containing it.
– I introduced a provision to that effect in the Western Australian Parliament, and it was twice defeated in the Upper House.
– That increases my respect for the honorable member. Perhaps in .the future we may together advance this matter. I have, ever since my* student days, resented the giving of. fictitious names to medicines. This disguises their value, because it makes it impossible to ascertain the bed-rock prices of the drugs of which they are composed. In my student days I advocated the nationalization of the public health, and I do it still in my advanced years. A man’s . health is more to him than his houses or lands, and should not be treated as casually as it is often treated how. A man who is earning from £3 to £4 per week will frequently continue at work although unwell, because, unless a member of a friendly society, he cannot afford medical advice and the loss of. time which treatment involves. Those who have experience of animals know that horses, dogs, cattle, and sheep lie down when they are ill. They do not, like human beings, force themselves to work. No drug should be permitted to be sold under a name which will impart to it mysterious properties. Let the formula be on the bottle, and let the price qf the drugs hat are used be known. Many years ago the firm of Rothschild increased the price of mercury and iodide of potash to such an extent that the Lock Hospital at which I was then an. officer was unable to buy sufficient iodide of potash, then the accepted and best cure foi that terrible disease syphilis, but, because of this accursed war, and I believe, too, .of men’s greed for gold, the price of these drugs is even higher to-day than it was at the time of which I speak. Iodide of potash was 20s. per lb. then, but there are drugs whose price in Australia has increased 1,700 per cent. during the present war. This is an infamy.
– Drugs are being used by the people that are positively dangerous.
– Doctors are supposed to know more about the action of drugs than do ordinary people, and it is rarely that they take drugsthemselves.’ But often, when a doctor fells a patient not to take medicine, but merely to follow his advice regarding rules of diet and conduct, that patient loses faith’ in him, and calls in some one else.
– Or runs to a patent medicine.
– Yes. For the last quarter of a century I have been advocating the’ affixing to each bottle of medicine of the formula of the preparation. I believe that I was the first student in my hospital to advocate the nationalization of medicine, but now some of the greatest minds that have illumined the practice of surgery and. medicine hold that it should be under control. The Government should adopt a strong hand in regard to the practice of drug taking. I would not allow any drug to be sold except under its proper formula. Every honorable member must have had experience of the sad effects of the drug habit. That habit . is increased, I think, by the mystery attaching to certain names. I hope that in the future no firm will be able to sell drugs under the name of a patent medicine, but that the formula must be stated in every case. This will do much to prevent the accursed drug habit by tearing away the veil of mystery that now surrounds many preparations. I hope that when the turmoil of this war has ceased we shall nationalize medicine. Health is too sacred a thing to be at the mercy of any man. Thank God, there are very few doctors who are not beyond reproach ! There is no profession in the world with so large a percentage of men in it interested in the welfare of mankind. That profession certainly does give to 1, 2, or 3 per cent. of its practitioners opportunities to benefit themselves at the expense of their fellows, and to utilize the exigencies of the war to extort high prices. I hope that, if it should be necessary, all the profits that the exigencies of the war have permitted the holders of drugs to obtain, will be taken from them. If I could sway the Government, I would urge them to take over every increase in the price of drugs that has not been brought about actually by the war. I hope I can impress on the minds of honorable members that health is a sacred quality, and that no drug should be sold under a name unless the formula is on the bottle. Thus, the friends of those who are the victims of the drug habit can see when those unfortunates are taking too large quantities of drugs, andcan advise them to give up the habit. I would like to see the Government control the whole of the drug industry. For a quarter of a century I have been advocating the nationalization of medicine. Health is too sacred a matter to be exploited in order to sell secret remedies, or for purposes which the Germans have shown themselves facile princeps in employing.
– One of the difficulties is that we can only deal with the imports.
– Surely some’ regulation could be framed under the War Precautions Act to deal with them. The House would support the Government in that action. We should be able to control everything from the time that it comes through the Customs House until it is sold. We should not permit itto bo adulterated or interfered with in any way before it reaches the buyer in a State. If we havenot the necessary legislation, let us pass it, so that this Parliament, which is the dominant Parliament in the Commonwealth, may have control over’ these matters. It . is ridiculous that any article should be permitted to come’ into the community and be injuriously adulterated, and that the Commonwealth should have no control over the article once it has passed through the Customs.
– We can control the imports, and there are many regulations on the matter under the Trades Description Act.
– Many things that are sold are very different from what they were when they were imported. The more stringent the law can be made in that regard, the more pleased will any honest man be. Money,. buildings, and wealth are nothing in comparison with that Godgiven power which* we know as health; and if the Government would help in the matter of the nationalization of medicine, they would have no keener follower than myself, even though I should be sitting in Opposition. I trust that the words of the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Kelly) will bear fruit. I hope that the Government will give consideration to the matter ; and I trust that we, will follow the splendid lead that Western Australia has set. Every Australian should have a fair chance of living a healthy and long life.
.- Several young fellows living in the Calare electorate have passed the necessary examinations to qualify them for- commissions in the Australian Imperial Force, but, as they were not twenty-three years of age at the time of qualifying for the position of second lieutenant, they were prevented from holding commissions. Not wishing to enlist as privates, they had to retire from the Australian Imperial Force, but many of them paid their own fares to the Old Country, and, on arriving there, received commissions in the Imperial Army. In fact, I understand, 1,000 young Australians have done so ; but they prefer to work with Australians, and to lead Australians at the Front. The Imperial Government permits officers twentyone years of age to hold rank at the Front, but the minimum age is twenty-three years in connexion with the Australian Imperial Force. I do not know why this discrimination exists. Two or three of these young fellows cabled to me recently asking me to do my level best to get the Federal Government to remove the prohibition against their employment as officers of the’ Australian Imperial Force, on account of their not being twenty-three years of age. They are anxious to join the Australian Forces, and to lead Australians at the Front. If the Imperial Government will allow lieutenants twenty-one years of age to lead men, why should we not fall into line? There should be some co-ordination in this matter.
This afternoon I submitted a question in. regard to ..the attacks which were made_ yesterday afternoon on the room in which the One- Woman-One-Recruit League, meets in Melbourne. There are about 260 ladies in ,that league. Each member endeavours to secure one recruit for the Australian Imperial Force, ‘ and having secured him, looks after his welfare and the welfare- of his parents, wife, or children, and follows him after he leaves Australia, supplying him with papers and parcels, and so forth. I was astonished on reading the paper this morning to see that any set of people in Australia would so far forget themselves as to attack this very patriotic band of women. Yet the so-called pacifists, who assembled outside Parliament House yesterday, made a wicked and malicious attack on the members of this league, who had assembled in their room for the best of worthy purposes. Mrs. Brock, a lady who lost her’ husband at ‘Gallipoli last year, and who has five children, was very roughly handled by a crowd who broke in on them. The Government should afford these women sufficient protection. In my opinion those who broke into the league’s room should not have been permitted to leave. They should have been arrested and called to account for -their action. The Government ought to take the matter into serious consideration, because theOne Woman-One-Recruit League “is an. association which has the best of objects, and is one that should be encouraged in every shape or form.
– This .afternoon we have heard a great deal about German interests and German names. I agree that the German who gives trouble should not receive the benefit of having his shares held for him and sold at a high figure, but it is hard to> fix the right price for a German’s shares. If we fix a pre-war-time the shares’ may be worth less now. If we fix on a certain price after the war the shares may be made worth more then . than they were before the war. The only thing is to deal with each case on its merits. I suggest that the best way in which to fix the German and injure him is to take the lowest price whereever it is. In common with many others, I considered that the Prime Minister,’ when he dealt with the metal question, had done a great stroke for the people of Australia. When the war broke out our metal industry looked to be in a very bad position, but the Prime Minister called a conference, and came to the relief of the industry, and everything was supposed to go on smoothly. The Ger-, man interest was to be wiped out, and. the Britishers were to receive the benefit’ of the profits. It is very evident, however, that this did not take place. From what we learn from the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) nothing has been settled; nothing of a tangible character has been done to see that the Prime Minister’s intention was carried out. I am one of those who hope that something will be done in that direction, because, with our knowledge of German instinct for business, I feel certain that those shareholders will see that their interests are safeguarded. I remember speaking at a meeting one night in commendation of the action of* the Prime Minister in arranging to oust the Germans from the metal industry, and to insure the predominance of British control. An individual whom I had never met before spoke after me and smote me hip and thigh, and asked me to point out the difference between exploitation by the German capitalists and exploitation by the British capitalists. He said he would just as soon be starved by a German as by a Britisher. He evidently knew a good deal about the metal trade, because he showed that by the arrangement made by the Prime Minister the opportunity would still remain for Germans to receive benefits from’ their interests in the metal trade, whilst the British or neutral shareholder would be able to make fortunes out of the people. We know that since the outbreak of war the prices of metals have risen enormously. The cost of production, we are told, fixes the prices of commodities, but that was not the governing factorin connexion with the increase in the price of metals, and. my critic on that occasion was right when he charged me with having supported a Prime Minister who had not considered the interests of the people. At that time I was a supporter of the Prime Minister, and I understood that the arrangement he had made would insure that whilst the Germans got no benefits from the metal industry, neither would” other capitalists be allowed to exploit the people. Instead of that being the effect of the Government policy, the” metal companies have been allowed to make large fortunes.
– The small fossicker on the tin-fields who brings His metal to the store in a small canvas bag is quite satisfied with the price he gets.
– That man may be all right; but I am alluding to the employees oh the large mines who, when they approached the owners for better wages on account of the increased cost of living, were refused because the profits which the companies had made were needed to pay the war-time profits tax. I am sorry to say that if the Bill now before the House is passed in its present form they will not pay those profits to the Government. The Prime Minister has yet to answer the charge made to-day by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey), and we desire an assurance that whilst the Government are preventing the Germans from getting benefits from our metal industries’ during the war, they will also see that the men to whom the law has given an opportunity of earning big profits shall not exploit the people. I agree with the man who said that it would be just as well to be starved by a German capitalist as by a British capitalist. I am willing to prevent the German capitalist from . making money out of the horror that is taking place in Europe, for whilst many of my party do not agree that the Germans were responsible for the war, I say they were. At the same time, I say. that British capitalists ought not to be allowed to make the enormous profits that are being made . out of the metal industry owing to the arangement which the Prime Minister made in the interests of the British people. No Government will be doing its duty which does not look very carefully into this matter, with a view, firstly, to preventing Germans getting the benefit of the Australian conditions which they are fighting to destroy, and, secondly, to insure that the British or’ neutral capitalists shall not amass fortunes by reason of the conditions brought about by the war.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– It is very evident that German interests are reaping profits from the metal trade of Australia, and that no official system has yet been devised to prevent their doing so. The moneyed interests which control the metal shows of Australia are amassing large profits. They are securing large dividends, and are also placing large amounts to reserve funds, ostensibly to meet their war-time “profits taxation. I am surprised that the Treasurer, knowing that all this money has been banked, ready to, meet his demands, does notpropose to take it.
– We shall get all we can.
– I believe I can explain why no full and complete action has been taken to prevent German interests reaping these profits. We all know that the large moneyed interests of the world move within certain circles. If, for instance, it was proposed to float a railway company in the Old World, the prospectus would be placed on the market in which it is known that the railway moneyed circle operates. Again, if it were proposed to float a gold-mine, the promoters would go to the circle which deals in gold-mining ventures; or if a big electrical company were to be floated, the promoters would go on the market in which the big electrical investors operate There is also a very large circle which, deals only with metals. If the shares held by Germans in the Australian metal companies were sold with the object of ridding Australia of the -German interest, the very circle which held those shares would repurchase them. We have in Victoria a body or syndicate or company of men headed by Mr. Baillieu, who is, admittedly, one of the best financiers in Australia, and whose advice was sought by the Government when we were considering the financial situation at the outbreak of the war. He is largely’ interested in the metal industry, and it is understood that he represents German money handled by the metal section. If these shares that were held by Germans were sold to-morrow, would we have any assurance that German money would not again be invested in them? Try as we will, we cannot hope to get rid of this Germ’an interest. I need not enter into a discussion of the way in which German interests are bound up and interwoven with the various metal companies; it is well known .that it is impossible to separate them from the other moneyed interests of the world. That is one reason why .this question has not been handled as it should have been. Why then should we not candidly make this admission ? Why do we not say that all the talk as to the eradication of German interests in the metal industries of Australia was so much make-believe, with the object of raising false hopes in the minds of the people and to enable the moneyed interests involved in the trade to reap larger profits than before. I am very pleased that this question has been raised to-day. In view of what has been said, it is impossible that the Ministry should refrain from making a plain statement on the subject.
I wish now to say a few words in regard to the great war. It is quite unnecessary that I should explain, at the outset, that my British sympathies are as strong as those of any mam t We belong to a race that feels that it is ‘ never beaten, but it would be folly on our part not to recognise that there are other races who entertain the same feeling with regard to themselves. This horrible war is going on, and a man dare not raise his voice on the question of peace terms lest he be called a proGerman. That is the position in every British community. It is nonsense, how- - ever, for us to say that we are going to bring the German to his knees. Beading between the lines, I believe that he has “had enough, and is willing to accept peace; but I do not believe that we can hope to enter Berlin within the next decade. In. these circumstances, why should a large section of the people, and their representatives, insist on saying, “ We are going’ to bring the German to his knees, and will not talk of peace until we do “ ? I think the British Government made a big mistake in refusing to allow representatives of Labour in Great Britain to meet Labour representatives of other countries at the Stockholm Conference. It is quite possible that no benefit may ‘ result from that Conference, but I think, nevertheless, that Labour in Great Britain should have been represented at it. The working section of < the British Empire are just as strong in their love of country, and just ‘as patriotic as are the workers of any other land, and their representatives at such a Conference would take care that their love of country was upheld.
– Could that not be done by their representatives in Parliament?
– Apparently the whole matter has got beyond Parliaments. Every one seems to be afraid even to suggest peace terms, lest such a suggestion should be interpreted, as a sign of weakness.
– The honorable member does not seem to be afraid.
– I admit that Ministers, who occupy a more responsible position than I do, could not be expected to say what I may say. I should like to know whether the British Government and our Allies are determined that there shallbe no peace until the Germans sue on their knees for it, or until the Allied Forces enter Berlin. If they are, then I am afraid that at least another 1,000,000 lives will he sacrificed, and much more; misery and starvation will Have to be endured.
– What effect does the honorable member think an opinion expressed by him or by myself in this House will have on those, 13,000 miles away, who are charged with the responsibility of determining when the war shall cease?
– That is quite beside the question. If we were to refrain from speaking on any subject until we were sure our words would have some effect, then I am afraid we should have but few reforms. It is not for me to attempt to lay down peace terms; but those who have the destinies of the, whole world in their hands should make some statement as to the terms on which they would consider peace proposals. That would not be unmanly on their part, nor would it lead the Germans to believe that we felt we were beaten, or were craving for peace. The first and paramount condition of peace should be that a repetition of the horrors of war shall be rendered impossible.
– The best way to secure that is to beat the Germans.
– Admittedly.; but does the honorable member seriously believe, as. some do, that we can hopeto beat the Germans to their knees? Above all other things, after this war there should be no more large standing armies or fleets. Let us think for a moment of the indebtedness we in Australia shall have incurred in connexion withthe . present war. If, after the war is over, we are still to maintain a large standing army and a big fleet, with all their appurtenances, the taxation of the Commonwealth will be enormous. The obligations that we have already to meet are such as to strain the skill of . the financiers ‘of Australia for many years. If, when this war is over, we are to have a large army and a big fleet, with dockyards, naval bases, and so forth, -the position will be preposterous: Britain and her Allies should tell Germany that . this fight will go on until we are assured that there will be no possibility of any more horrors such as the war in which we have been so long engaged. Then they should say to Germany”, “ You brought about this horror. You overran Belgium, Serbia, and a large part of France, carrying devastation wherever you went. You shall make reparation for every tree and house you wantonly destroyed.” That should be the second condition of peace. As to the acquisition of territory, I am going to make a statement, which I do not expect will receive the. commendation of the House. It is this: That the captured German colonies near Australia are not worth fighting about. They are not worth considering.
– They will be of great importance in the future.
– We already have Papua, and are not putting it to any use except as a buffer to Australia. It is of no use to the Commonwealth so far as its occupation by white men is concerned. And so I say that the question of the retention of captured German territories could be readily settled. The time may come when we shall be glad to have on the islands near our shores white instead of coloured men. The friends of to-day are the ‘ enemies of to-morrow, and vice versâ.
I have been suggesting what I think might be put forward as our minimum peace terms. As to Poland and AlsaceLorraine, the question of what shall be done with them is on all fours with that of the question of Home Rule for Ireland. It should be left to the people of those countries to deal with, and not , to the consideration of men who have not for those particular countries the feelings that their own people have. I maintain that Britain and her Allies would not show any sign of weakness in demanding what I have sugested as minimum peace terms. I would not have peace for one jot less. As to conquered territory, the British, in times gone by, have been just as flagrant in . their actions, and just as much to blame, as have other countries. It is high time that we considered the matter. . Millions of men are being killed and maimed ; and yet those of us who talk of peace are charged with being proGermans. We should suggest terms ofpeace, showing the irreducible minimum that we can accept, always providing for reparation for the injury done. I know I shall be asked whether we are not to impose some punishment on Germany for the killing of Nurse Cavell, Captain Fryatt and others, and demand, as civilized communities, reparation for actions of that sort.
– You may be quite at rest ! I think that after your speech nobody is going; to be bothered to ask anything !
– I think that remark is quite unbecoming on the part of the honorable’ member, who, as a rule, is not funny or sarcastic. ,1 suppose the interjection is intended to belittle me and my opinions.
– The man who talks peace in this war is giving weapons to the enemy. ,
– The honorable member will agree with rae that we are fighting only for peace. We hear the bald statement that we must “ bring Germany to her knees,” and it is apparently forgotten that, in the process, millions more will be killed and. maimed. If we can’ attain all that is necessary for humanity without this slaughter, why not do so ? When a man takes the attitude that I do now, he is, as I say, ‘regarded as pro-German, or his intelligence is doubted. Personally, I do’ not care if my intelligence is doubted, nor do I care if I am charged with being pro-German, for those who know me best will not believe it. In common with others, I have friends at the Front; and I know that day after day fresh armies are sent there, with the sole object of ultimate peace, and the punishment of those who caused the war. If we can attain that end now, why not ? If we continue fighting on it will certainly leave us open to the charge, so frequently made, that this is only a trade and commercial war. I do not- believe it is a trade war as far as Britain is concerned.
– Who is suggesting that it is?
– We hear talk to that effect every day - about making provision for after the war, how we shall treat the Germans, and so forth. Much of that might be very -well left unsaid, for the main thing is to finish the war. I can understand the feelings of honorable members towards myself, for I have exactly similar feelings towards those who talk of peace without reparation. It is aques tion of degree; and, in my opinion, the view I take is the more sane one.
– What is your proposal ?
– The Germans ought; straight out, to be offered terms of peace, providing for assurances for the future, with an international, undertaking that there shall be no more standing armies or wars, and, further, that full reparation shall be made for the devastation of Belgium, France, Servia and other countries.
– What would such a guarantee be worth?
– If an international arrangement of the kind were made, with all the countries in it, the self-interest of each nation would prevent any repetition of the actions of Germany. Does any one believe that if Germany could go back to July, 1914, she would again inflict these horrors on the world ? People talk of “ bringing Germany to her knees,” but the Germans are like ourselves ; if they ave beaten, they decline to admit it. Now that the United States of America have entered the conflict the whole civilized world is involved, the small European neutrals being kept out only by fear. In my opinion, there will be no’ more “ scraps of paper,” because no country would dare to .do in the future what Germany has done in this connexion. I will leave the matter at that.
– Hear, hear!
– From the tone of that “hear, hear,” I should say that the Treasurer has responsibility he has not yet recognised^ - responsibility of a moral character as well as responsibility to tha moneyed side of life.
– You are doing yourself a lot of harm !
– I will take all the responsibility; and I remind the right honorable gentleman that, in the past,, he has expressed opinions, and performed actions, which, to all appearances, would do him a lot of harm, but he has never feared to face the music. I believe that the majority of the people of Germany are taught by their Governments and their newspapers that the Allies wish to enslave them after the war, and, with a view to an early peace, I wish them to know of the true facts of the position.
.- I desire to draw attention to a very specious letter, apparently a circular letter, emanating from the British Imperial Oil Company. It contains the following : -
There are very many Australians employed in the preparation and handling of “Shell” benzine.
The output is ever increasing, and, of course, the number of our own people employed increases in proportion.
– Have other honorable members received similar letters? I have not.
– I cannot speak as to honorable members generally, but the communication has all the appearances of a circular letter. This company, although called ‘’ British,” has not a single British shareholder. It is registered’ in Great Britain, and there are half-a-dozen men there who own one share each, the object, of course, being to legalize the formation of the company. In proportion to the very large business that the company does, there are very few Australians employed by, it. The company does employ 17,000 Malays.
– Not in Australia?
– No. It also employs 22,000 Chinese, while the total number of whites employed is, approximately, 300. Under such conditions as these the company seeks to secure, the trade of the people of Australia. This is a “ British “ company in name, but it is not a British company in essence; and the statement that it gives large employment to Australians is absolutely without justification.
The importation of “ Shell “ benzine to Australia, which is claimed ‘to be of great value and importance to this country, is really to th*» disadvantage of the pro- iducers of Australia; and that is a fact which I wish to drive home. The total imports of this stuff from the Dutch East Indies, is, approximately, 50,000 tons a year. This, of course. is not a large trade; but, still, we ought to secure all the outward shipping possible. The commodity is brought in tank steamers to our ports, where it is pumped into tanks on the shore, employing practically no labour. The vessels then pump water in for ballast, and go away without any of the produce of Australia.
Shipping i*. ot all things, essential to us at the present ti inn This benzine, if it did not come from the’ Dutch East Indies, would certainly come from the United States of America, which is now’ in alliance with ourselves. I am very glad to know that the present Government are seeking to make shipping arrangements by which there will be a considerable increase in the importations from America- If, in addition to other imports, these vessels from America brought the petrol and benzine we require, they would be available for conveying our wheat and other produce to the markets of the world.
– The trade in oil would be an inducement for the vessels to come here.
– That is so. I venture to think that, if we inquired, we should find that the employees who are spoken of as Australians could1 be really classified, for the most part, as Dutch. Of course, it is very questionable whether they are really Dutch, because there has been much transferring from one nation,ality to another in order to meet war conditions. At any rate, they are not true sons of Australia, but of alien race. The letter goes on to say -
We sell “ Shell “ benzine for profit, and you buy it for profitable use, but it is a pleasant reflection to think that others in our own country benefit by your supporting the only spirit imported in bulk and packed in Australianmade tins and cases. ‘ ;
Is it a “ pleasant reflection “ to think that, in buying this benzine, we are benefiting alien races ? My object is to let the public know the facts, for then the advantage of closer trading relations with our Allies in the United States of America would be appreciated. I believe that these people are more sympathetic wilh our enemies than with us, and if our enemies were to determine to’ enlarge the sphere of their submarine warfare, it would be most advantageous to them to be able to ‘get from these neutrals on the high seas the first essential to the Working of a submarine. This is a big consideration. I hope that the Government, when it has concluded arrangements with our Ally, the United States of America, for working in unison in regard to shipping, will say, “ We shall not allow produce to come to this country except in cargo ships suitable for the conveyance of our produce to other parts of the world.”
– The oil is brought here in. bulk in specially constructed vessels which cannot carry .cargo, but it is tinned and cased here, and the tinning and casing employ Australian labour.
– My point is that) the vessels which bring this oil cannot take cargo from Australia, but that if we got our supplies of benzine from America, they would be brought in cases in cargo ships which could take away our produce.
I draw attention bo another point in connexion with the company, and that is that, under its articles of association, it has but one director, Detterding, and its shares are held not by individuals, but by other companies with which it is interlocked. When, in the last Parliament, I moved the adjournment of the House to draw attention to this matter, I pointed out some of the peculiarities of the balance-sheets of the company, but as my time was somewhat limited, 1 was not able to emphasize this particular point. Un- doubtedly a company such as this, whose shares are held by other companies, “can bo juggle with figures as to show a loss where otherwise a profit would have to be shown. The Government, and the Treasurer in particular, should look into the financing of this concern. On the occasion to which 1 have referred, 1 quoted from the balance-sheets of the company to show . that it has been working here at nominally a great loss, but we know - and the keenness to get trade displayed in this letter is evidence of it - that it is making great profits out of its Australian business.
– Did not the British Government make a report to the Prime Minister in regard to this company?
– It made a report in regard to the man Detterding.
– No ; in regard bo the company.
– I have been favoured with a . copy of the report of the British Government, which, I am satisfied, knows very little about the British Imperial Oil Company. That company, although registered in Great Britain, is not a trading concernthere.
– The British Government said that, after investigation, they were treating the company as a British company. Surely that ought to be enough.
– There is such a thing in Great Britain as the unseen hand. I am sorry that the interjection makes it necessary for me to refer to that. It is forced on us not to accept the assurances of the British Government regarding a company which is doing its. business wholly and solely with Australia.
– Does the honorable member say thatthe British Government is conniving at what he calls the unseen hand ?
– I make no such suggestion.
– The honorable member throws overboard the British Government’s report.
– The British Government has nob the necessary knowledge to report concerning a company which is hot trading in Great Britain.
– Whence is the oil brought ?
Mr.PALMER. - From the Dutch East Indies. The company has sent out broadcast over this country a letter in which it tries to make it appear that “ Shell “ benzine . should be used in preference to any other. There is no justification on the score of quality for using that brand of benzine in preference to any other, because oil of the highest quality is obtainable in the United ‘ States of America, nor is there any justification on the score of price, because there are American oils which can be obtained for less; I speak with knowledge, as being one of the oldest motorists in Australia.
– What does the honorable member use in his car?
– The oil that gives me the best results, as any common-sense man would. “ Shell “ benzine does not give the best results. Moreover, its use prevents Australia from getting shipping which would take its products toother parts of the world, and it gives employment, for the most part, to the people of coloured races. I say, in reply to this impudent letter, that the people who consult their own interests will not use this particular commodity, and I say fairly and squarely that I would hit the company in the face in regard to this matter. The users of “ Shell “ benzine, moreover, use it to the disadvantage of the Commonwealth as a whole. I say that those who exhibit boards advertising the fact that “ Shell “ benzine, imported by the British Imperial Oil Company, is to be had within, would, if they were true to their best interests, pull them down, and deal in benzine calculated to give better results to Australia as a whole, and at least equally good results so far as car owners are concerned.
.- When the honorable member for Echuca (Mr.
Palmer) was speaking, I looked round the gallery to see if any representative of the opposition oil firm was there, but I feel sure that they fight fairly for any trade, and would not use any unfair tactics. When the honorable member spoke of himself as one of the oldest motorists in Australia, it occurred to me that his trumpeter must be dead, since he was reduced to blowing his own trumpet. We know that there are two companies in Australia which compete for the sale of benzine and petrol. The honorable member has told us that when he last discussed this matter on a motion for the adjournment, of the House, he was prevented, by want of time, from placing his case fully before honorable members. But I find that he was granted an extension of time in order that he might state his case fully. I hold no brief for any company.’ Any one who had been at the head of the Customs Department as long as I was must know men in every line of business, and I have met the managers of both of these oil companies. A few weeks ago the honorable member for Henty asked whether the Prime Minister had obtained information from the British Government concerning the British ImperialOil Company, and the Prime Minister’s reply was -
Curtain information has been received from the British Government in regard to our inquiries relating to this company-
– Is the honorable member quoting from the report of the debates of the present session?
– I am quoting, not the report of a speech, but an answer to a question - to the effect that the British Imperial Oil Company was a British company, and that there were no reasons why it should not be treated as such.
– Did I not say that the company is registered in Great Britain ?
– Arid it is registered in New South Wales, too. The honorable member, in the last Parliament, asked whether the British Imperial Oil Company had complied with certain statutory rules, and the Prime Minister replied that the company in question was not incorporated in the Commonwealth, and that the regulations mentioned did not apply to . it, but that the Attorney-General had a list of its shareholders as filed under the New South
Wales Companies Act. The circular to which the honorable member has referred is, I presume, sent out to all users of benzine. Both companies, being desirous of getting business, advertise all along our roads, and . the British Imperial Oil Company, probably, sentout this circular to every person who has a motor licence or owns a motor. It states that the company employs Australians. Its casing and tinning is done in Australia. This is a Protectionist Parliament,, and honorable members, generally, will hold that it is better for this tinning and casing to be done here than Outside the Commonwealth.
– Can the tin be got here ?
– No, but the timber can be got here. The oil imported in case is admitted without duty on the tins and cases, but the. British Imperial Company for its cases must either pay duty on imported timber or use Australian timber. If the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Palmer) knows anything about this company being anti-British his duty is to go outside this Parliament to make these statements, and denounce the company as an enemy firm. He should not, under the privilege of Parliament’, make statements concerning people who are not here to defend themselves. That is what I take exception to. Since I have been in public life I have never attacked an individual who has not been in a position to defend himself. That is why I have objected time after time in this House to officers of public Departments being at-, tacked here, where they cannot speak in self-defence. It is a cowardly thing to do. whether in relation to an individual or a company. If there is anything in the statement, the honorable member has made he has a right to go further,” and make a direct charge against the company ‘outside. I thought the honorable member was going to make a longer . speech, and I was going to look up the figures regarding the imports of benzine and petrol. The manufacture of cases and tins is an asset to Australia, and the people employed in that work here are Australians, and not the Malays or Chinese the honorable member mentioned to-night.
– I wish to state, by way of personal explanation, that it is perfectly true that’ I was granted leave to continue my remarks on a former occasion, and was therefore free to speak as long as I’ liked, but almost immediately after that consent was given, the party Whip approached me with the information that the Prime Minister was exceedingly anxious to answer my speech and to get away to attend to some other important business. He, therefore, asked me if I would kindly bring my remarks to a conclusion as early as possible: Consequently .1 abbreviated what I had to say.
.- I am glad to have heard the Leader of the Opposition’s statement. When the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Palmer) made his statement to the House in the last Parliament 1 listened to all of it, and was certainly impressed by it. The managing director of the British Imperial Oil Company, Mr. Wagstaff, some considerable time afterwards interviewed me, and asked me if I would ask a question in the House of the Prime Minister regarding’ the inquiries which had been instituted abroad in connexion withhis company. I put the question, and the Prime. Minister’s answer was read by the Leader of the Opposition to-night. I am satisfied that the. information the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Palmer) possesses .does not contain the whole truth. Whoever has primed him up has not given him the full facts. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that when dealing with the private affairs of individuals or of companies it is very unfair to attack them within these walls, where they have .no power to reply. The British Government are not likely to give to the Prime Minister of Australia, on a matter on which he cables for information, a misleading reply, or to send any reply until they have fully investigated to their own satisfaction the conditions of the company .concerned so far as lies in their power. I know nothing, about who holds shares in the company, and am not here to “advertise its wares, but the managing director is as straightforward and honorable a man as there is in this community. His public action in Connexion with the petrol inquiry in New South Wales will bear out that statement.
The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) has on several occasions twitted me -because of an interjection I made in the House when he was ‘speaking, and has seen fit to associate me with the honorable member for Echuca (Mr.
Palmer) as if there was some vendetta on. our part against him.
– You are pretty persistent,, anyhow !
– I have not said anything; about it before, but as the honorable member is present to-night I will say what is in my mind, so that the honorable member may be able to reply. Some time ago volunteers were called for to transfer from the artillery to the infantry. . J believe there were about 1,200 men in the artillery camp at Maribyrnong, and of these from fourteen to eighteen offered their services. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) enlisted in the Military Forces about seven months ago He was a member of an infantry corps to start with for several months. He was then transferred into another branch.
– No, I did not; that is where you are wrong.
– If the artillery were asked to supply volunteers for the in*fantry, which apparently was the only branch of the Forces badly in need of recruits, I should like to know from the Minister for Defence or his representative in this Chamber, how it is possible for any man under those conditions, leaving the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) aside for the moment, to get from the infantry into the artillery, except through political influence? That wants explanation. The honorable member stated in this Chamber that be is in the King’s service, and has to obey the orders of his superiors, and that the faultrests with the Government that he is still sitting here after being seven months in khaki. If it is the fault of his superior officers, or of the Government, that the honorable member is still here when men who have been enlisted for only five or six weeks have’ been already sent to the Front, I ask the Government now how it is that an honorable member of this House can exercise influence, or can have influence brought to bear-
– Two of them.
– I say “ any member.” How can any honorable member of this House, or any other House, exercise influence to be kept in Australia, when men who enlisted months after they did are at the Front? It is a mighty bad advertisement for the politicians of Australia if they are going to enlist in the King’s service and get credit for being in the Australian Imperial Force, and be able to come into this House seven months after enlisting. That wants, serious explanation from whoever represents the Defence Department here. , I have no personal objection to the honorable member. I merely interjected during a speech he was making here, that it was about time he was atthe Front, as he had been long enough in khaki.
– But do you think the interjection was fair when you did not know the facts? Was it kind to me, seeing that you had a member on your own side who joined at the same time?
– In what I am saying I am not referring to the honorable member personally. I made the interjection jocularly, or it may have been in the heat of the moment, although I do not think I was very heated at the time. The, honorable member, however, returned to the attack so often that I thought I ought to reply. I have never been afraid of being hit. I am prepared to accept the honorable member’s statement thathis being here is not his fault ; but it passes my comprehension how a member of Parliament can get back into the artillery, the very branch of the service that was ‘ reputed to be overloaded, after . the Defence Department had asked men in the artillery to volunteer for the infantry. It is not a nice advertisement for the legislators of Australia that such a thing can occur in our midst.
– I am glad the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd) has taken up this attitude. I thought the House was engaged in more important matters than my position in the Military Forces, and had decided not to refer to it, but now that it has been mentioned, I am pleased to have the opportunity of stating the real facts. There are a lot of little-minded people in this world and in this House, particularly in one or two instances.
– Order ! The honorable member is not in order in making a reflection of that kind on honorable members.
– If I have misjudged the size of their minds I apologize. Nevertheless, that is likely to be thought from the remarks they have made. I may be wrong, but I was only thinking what deductions might be made by those who read the remarks of those particular members in Hansard or the press. The Defence Department is greatly wanting in not taking to task those people who are using my position, and the position of other honorable members, in the same manner as the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd) has inferentially used it to-night. Only last week in the Adelaide Advertiser appeared a letter written by a Mr. J. R. Henley, of Semaphoreroad, Exeter, in the district of Hindmarsh - whether inspired or not I do not know - saying it was time the Defence Department sent Mr. G. E. Yates, M.H.R:, to the Front, as he was not really in training, but was wasting his time in Federal Parliament House.I replied to that letter correcting the misstatement. I knew it was a political and splenetic attack on me, and I could afford to pass that over. But I did point out that the time I spend in this House is my leave, to which I am entitled as well as any other soldier, and I have a right to occupy my own time in this House without honorable members accusing me of doing something which I ought not to do. I have not missed one parade at Maribyrnong without permission, but have honorably fulfilled the compact I made when I joined the Australian Imperial Force. On more than one occasion I have sent to the Minister for Defence letters which, have appeared in the press; they are in his office, and if he has done his duty, he has read them. Men outside are being cajoled and appealed to, as the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Laird Smith) pleaded the other day, when he declared that he would never again say that men were cold-footers, because he knew that he might be doing an injustice to some of them.
– The honorable member was not in the Artillery when I was in office.
– I did not say I was in the Artillery then; but I am waiting for the time when the honorable member will himself be in the Australian Imperial Force. In addition to the writer from Semaphore-road, Exeter, another writer to the press stated that I was in the office at Keswick Camp, and had not left South Australia. Those in South Australia who knew me well wondered as to my movements; and it follows that men like Mr. Henley will not volunteer for service when they think that I am getting advantages, because of political influence. Those writers to the press were without accurate knowledge of my movements, and it is the duty of the Prime Minister, having regard to the fact that, under the War Precautions Act, he has prosecuted so many persons on flimsy pretexts, to prosecute those who write letters without knowledge of the facts, and so prejudice recruiting. And it is time that the Minister for Defence opened his mouth to protect me, if his is the responsibility for my not having been sent to the Front.
– Hear, hear; if the fault is his.
– I am sure the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd) would not wilfully do me an injustice; but it was unkind of him not to ascertain the facts before making a charge against me. I accept his assurance that he did not make his remarks, as some honorable members have done, splenetically, and with a desire to hurt my feelings.
When speaking on the Public Service Bill recently, I attempted to place on record the circumstances of my enlistment. I had reached the stage when I was obliged to receive dental treatment; and, since then, I have had a gun accident which has destroyed ohe of my teeth, and I have had to have another tooth inserted. So “ honorable members will see that I have lost something for the Empire. I knew that remark would bring a loud guffaw from the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Archibald) who, during the election campaign, said he had made the doubtful sacrifice for the Empire of losing his seat. However, the honorable member got under the National party’s umbrella, and did not lose his seat; so that he has not even lost a tooth for the Empire. i assure honorable members that I am prepared -to make a sacrifice. I have not yet asked to be relieved of the obligations I undertook when I joined the Expeditionary Force in October last. I cannot say that of other members of the Force. I could say a little on that point if I liked to open my mouth, but that is not my desire. Up to December last, .1 was eligible to be drafted into any unit, either Artillery or Infantry. At about that time, the new recruiting scheme was launched by the Prime Minister, and tho onus was thrown upon every honorable member to become the chairman of tho Recruiting Committee in his electorate. I received a letter to that effect from Mi. Mackinnon; and’ it was necessary for me, if I was to fulfil my obligation as chairman of the committee, to obtain leave for two months. I did that; and, at the end of that period, being dissatisfied with the rate of recruiting, I desisted, and went into Camp on the. 1st March. On entering Camp, I was asked which aim of the Service I desired to serve in, aud I made it quite clear to Lt.-Colonel Dollman, the Officer Commanding Mitcham Camp, that I had no desire to kill or be killed. I said that the taking of human life was opposed to the principles of the party to which I belonged, and to “ my own instinctive principles; and, if there was any vacancy in the Army Service. Corps, I would prefer to serve with it. On the 23rd March, I had received no reply to my application, and I went to the Officer Commanding A Base, where the unattached men were congregated, and told him I was desirous of having a reply as to whether I could enter the Army Service Corps or not. At that time, I was working in the office of the Army Service Corps; and, on that same afternoon, an orderly brought to me a minute, which stated that my application of the 23rd March had been forwarded to the 3rd Military District Head-Quarters. I wrote on the minute that I had duly noted its contents, but that my application was made on the 1st, and not the 23rd March, and I would be pleased, if finality could be expedited. Six weeks elapsed from the time I enlisted before I received a reply that I could not join the Army Service Corps. I again went into the office at A Base, and I was asked what arm of the Service I intended to join. I replied to the young returned soldier who asked me the question, “I do not know anything about it. What would you do?”- He replied, “ If I were you, I should go into the Artillery.” “Why the Artillery?” He said, “ Between you and me, there is no foot-slogging in the Artillery, and you have not the same graft to do in that service; but I warn you that if you do get hit, you are cleaned- up.” I said, “ You know more about it than I do, and I am content to take your advice.” I put in my application to be transferred to the Artillery, and in that service I am to-day.
Before quoting the letters which have passed between me and the Minister for Defence, I wish to inform the House of the reasons which actuated me inwriting them. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd) inferred that I had used political influence.
– I said there was an appearance of political influence.
-Political influence in my case extended this far, that if any soldier has had less leave for personal convenience than I have had he has had none at all. I did apply for leave for the afternoon and evening when the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor), as Leader of the Opposition, came to Adelaide to address a meeting in my constituency, but Lieut. - Colonel Doll man refused my application. . My commanding officer asked . me if I wished to be paraded before Lieut. -Colonel Dollman, and I replied in the affirmative. When I appeared before him Lieut. - Colonel Dollman said, “What do you desire to say?” I said, “I have been treated distinctly unfairly.” He said, ‘ You cannot say that in the Military Forces.” “What can I say?” I asked. “ You can say you are dissatisfied.” I. replied, “If I were not dissatisfied, I would not be here.”’ After further remarks by him, . I said, “ That does not alter the opinion I had when I came here.” He said, “I have nothing to do with your opinion.”’ I said, “ Very well, sir, good day.” A few days later I received another letter which raised my ire, and I was again paraded. Lieut. -Colonel Dollman was not present, but I told the Camp Adjutant that I had finished writing through the ordinary channels of the. military organization, and in future I would, in my capacity as member for Adelaide, write to the Minister for Defence direct. He said, “ If you do that it will be at your own risk.” “ What risk do I take?” “ You break the King’s regulations.” “ What particular regulation do I break?” “ I do not know, but you infringe the. War Precautions Act.” “ Very well, I will infringe the War Precautions Act.” I did so, and here I am. I telegraphed to the Minister for Defence, asking for leave to attend Mr. Tudor ‘s meeting, but the message passed through several channels, and only reached the Minister when he was on the boat. Even then I received no reply. The outcome was a letter to the Minister for Defence, and . I ask honorable members to note the tone of the Minister’s reply, in order to see if there was any political influence or bias in my favour.
Copies of the letter were sent to the three daily papers in Adelaide, but never saw the light of publication. ‘ The Minister is too safely hedged about by his censors, and there remained only the one way of making my position known to the people of Adelaide, and that was by addressing a meeting in the Botanic Park. I took the risk of action under the War Precautions Act, and made the contents of the letter public at that gathering.
– Does every recruit have the same experience as . the honorable member has had ? ,
– No; ‘ but when I am charged with having used political influence, I wish to assure the House that I could get more than one man from Mitch am camp who would say that when I was there they “ rubbed the dirt into me.” I do not mind that, but I hope to return from the Front some day, and be able to say that I did something for the Empire apart from making money out of the war. If honorable members will note the tone of the letter and subsequent telegrams exchanged between the Minister for Defence and myself, they will see whether I am in his good books or not, and whether an honorary colonelcy is coming my way without my earning it. I do not see myself getting more than 6s. per day all the time I am on the job, butI shall not be dissatisfied. I am content to be with , the boys, and do my duty with them, and I shall be able to hold up my head more honorably than those who have gone to Europe for the money they can get out of the King’s service, and who see only the smoke, of the battle, and do not feel the punch.’ I do not say that with any desire to hurt the feelings of my parliamentary confreres in the Army. My association with the miltary organization has not been at all irksome, and I do not regret having enlisted. I sent the following letter to the Minister for Defence in Western Australia.
Adelaide, 25th April,. 1917.
Hon. G. F. Pearce, ,
Minister for Defence,
I regret that it is necessary for me! to have to take up the attitude I am now doing, but I feel that no other course is open to me if X am to retain my self-respect and that liberty to which I think every individual is entitled, be he citizen or soldier.
On the11th instant, I addressed a letter to you, through the Camp Commandant, which, from the nature of the reply that I have received I cannot conceive was ever brought under your - notice, hence the present communication.
The letter referred to was as follows: - “Mitcham Camp, 11th April, 1917. “Dear Sir,
I desire to bring under your notice what appears to be an injustice that not only affects myself, but any member of the Australian Imperial Force that happens to be a South Australian.
When I returned to Camp from recruiting leave, on 1st March, I applied to he drafted into the Army Service Corps, and was informed that I should have to pay my own fare to Melbourne. This I agreed to do, but heard nothing further of my application until the 26th idem, when a minute was brought under my notice stating that my application of the 23rd instant had been forwarded to the 3rd Military District for decision.
On Wednesday last-
That was prior to the 11th April - just three weeks after, I was informed that my application could not be granted-
It will thusbe seen that it took the Military Department nearly six weeks to deal with a simple request from a member of the Forces to be drafted into the corps which he had selected. I was told that I could select my own corps, and I only asked for what every man who enlists has a right to ask.
– What was meant by the reference in that letter to the honorable member paying his own fare?
– They only recruit in Melbourne or Sydney for the Army Service Corps. If a South Australian was lucky enough to obtain a call to join the Army Service Corps he was burdened with the payment of his own fare to Melbourne.
– But the honorable member could travel ‘ on his- own gold pass.
– This military man did not know that. I did not tell him that, as a member of Parliament, I had a gold pass which would carry me from Adelaide to Rockhampton. He did not know that the Commonwealth would pay my fare. . I told him that I. would pay my own. The honorable member . need not worry about that matter. The letter continued -
On Wednesday last, just three weeks after, I was informed that my application could not be granted, as there was no vacancy in the A.S.C. at present.
This accepted as gospel; but, during the Easter week, I made mention of the facts to a visiting member of the Australian Imperial Force from Victoria, when he informed me that it was all nonsense, and that recruits were being accepted every day in Victoria for that unit.
I could not get in from South Australia, but in Victoria they were taking recruits for that unit every day. The honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming), as a matter . of fact, got into that unit in Melbourne. I do not say that he had any political influence. It was an easy matter for him, however, to get into it, whereas I could not. He may be a blood-thirsty individual. I do hot know whether he is or not. I certainly am not, and I made that fact quite clear. I also made it clear to Colonel Dollman that if room could not be found for me in the Army Service Corps, and if fight I must, I would not refrain from going into the fighting line. I merely wanted that liberty and that consideration which is accorded to every member of the Forces. The letter continues -
My informant is an officer- and he had more than three stripes -
My informant is an officer, and reliable, so that I desire that inquiries be made into the matter, as it is distinctly unfair, not only to myself, but to others who should have just the same opportunity as the resident of any other State.
As a case in point, in the office where I have been doing duty for the past six weeks, there was a young fellow who had been rejected three times for active service, but eventually passed, and signified his intention to join the A.S.C. He has been . here for nigh on twelve months, and has a thorough knowledge of the work, but he was advised not to apply, as there was no chance for a South Australian. He has since joined the Light Horse; but, as he has a minor defect, he is fearsome’ that, in the last test, he will be rejected; while, for the business in which he has been engaged, and which he desired to continue, he would have been a reliable and zealous soldier.
I cannot help but express the opinion, in view of my experience, and what J have stated, that the consideration given to each application is of the foregone-conclusion character, and that it is a farce to make them.
Another matter I desire to refer to. is the refusal by the Camp Commandant of my request for leave in accordance with Circular 23526, relating to leave to members of the Australian Imperial Force who are candidates for Parliament. I trust that the fact that 1 was fortunate enough to meet with no opposition to my candidature will not debar me from the leave asked for, as it is my desire to join in the campaign just as if my seat was being contested. 1 therefore desire that you will consider the matter without delay, and grant me the leave asked for. 1 shall esteem it a favour if you will treat this matter as urgent. (Signed) G. E. Yates.”
I also applied for leave to attend Mr. Tudor’s meetings on Thursday last, but again met with refusal; and I wired you protesting, hoping that the rigorous application of discipline might be revoked under the Special circumstances. I am informed that my wire did not reach you until after you had embarked for Western Australia, for I received no reply; which may he my bad luck.
To-day I received the reply to which I refer, which is as follows: -
I would specially direct the attention of the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd) to this reply, which I received from the 3rd Military District, or, in other- words, from the authorities at the Victoria Barracks, St. Kilda-road, Melbourne - “ The leave for candidates for Federal Parliament is intended for those members of tho Australian Imperial Force in Australia who are being opposed in their seats. Private Yates is’ not being opposed, and should not, therefore, be granted leave. It is time that this soldier should be sent on the duty for which he enlisted.”
That was what they said in Melbourne on 26th April. I am still- here. What in heaven’s name is the matter, I want to know ?
– Who signed that reply ?
– It is only an extract from what was shown to me as a minute. My letter continued -
I deeply resent the insult conveyed in the last sentence, that I am a malingerer; and, though such methods and tactics may be applied to discredit those who have gone overseas and cannot defend themselves, I do not intend to allow the same third degree to be applied to me in silence.
When I enlisted in the Forces, I did so without any reservation, and no man has had less leave than myself’ for personal convenience.
When the Prime Minister first promulgated his recruiting scheme, and I was advised by Mr. Mackinnon that I was to be the chairman of the Adelaide District Committee, I accepted the responsibility, and applied for the necessary month’s leave. The fact that that mouth was wasted was no fault of mine, and I ap. plied for still a further month ; but, ‘ as 1 thought that the necessary amount of vigour was not being imparted into it by the Central Committee, ‘1 informed my committee that I would ask for no further leave, but would go into Camp on March 1st. This I did, and immediately applied for inclusion in the unit mentioned in my letter; but five weeks elapsed before a reply was received, and that onlyafter my inquiring what had become of my application. I then applied to join the Artillery, the unit I am now attached to.
I was never attached to any unit. I did not transfer from one unit to another. I went where they put me.
– Did they not put the honorable member into the Pioneer Corps when he enlisted?
– The report from the .Department says that they did. I am speaking now of when the honorable member enlisted on 30th October last.
– I did not go into .camp until the 7th November last. I was then -drafted into what was known as the “A” Company at the Exhibition. I was what was’ called a “ C.” dental patient. Some of the men told me that I might be there for six months. They said that it took a deuce- of a time to fix up a man’s teeth. If the honorable member will ask for a return as to how many men have been in camp for over twelve months I guarantee that he will be given a list of over fifty names.
– Then something is wrong.
– The honorable member said that I was drafted into the Pioneer Corps. As a matter of fact. I went into camp at the Exhibition. We had there what was known as a Hospital Camp consisting of men whose teeth had to be attended to. There were three sections, consisting of (1) those who had good teeth,
– My point was that the honorable member got into the Artillery after the military authorities had asked the Artillery for volunteers for the Infantry.
– The honorable member is wrong again. I shall come to that matter. My letter continued -
There is nothing to prevent the Department Shipping me as soon as it thinks fit.
I could not say more than that. When I first wont into camp I told my wife, and those dependent upon me, to be prepared for my going away before Christmas. I told them to do all their crying between then and Christmas, because I did not expect to remain in Australia after the New Year. Honorable members may smile, but I did not volunteer for fun. I am not as insincere as some honorable members opposite are in their talk of winning the war.
– Since the honorable member is making a joke of the matter, to which Christmas did he refer?
– Seeing that my dad is seventy-nine years of age, it is not likely that 1 would have hazarded the belief that he was likely to see two Christmas days ahead. Common sense suggests that I was referring to the Christmas then next ensuing. The letter continues -
You will see that any delay in my departure has not been connived at by me, and I throw back the gratuitous insult-
This was not the sort of letter that was likely to secure for me political influence - and suggest that a return be prepared showing how many more men have been delayed by a like prompt attention to correspondence, the number of men who have been in Camp the same length of time as myself, and longer; and the number of “ Tennyson’s Brooks “ there arc holding higher rank than myself, and the reason for them?
That does not suggest that I was seeking any political influence -
Perhaps the more genuine the soldier, the less the respect; but’ I venture to suggest that such’ tactics are not only discreditable and dishonorable, but are subversive of a policy for winning the war.
I am supplying a copy of this letter to the daily press, in my own defence.
– To whom was that letter addressed ?
– It was addressed to the Minister for Defence on the 26th April last. .
The House has now all the facts as to my position. The accusation made against me by the honorable member for Henty was also made on one occasion by the South Australian Commissioner for Public Works, Mr. Harry Jackson, at a public meeting which was attended by Senator Russell, who was then Assistant Minister for Defence. , I sent a telegram to the Minister for Defence asking him to contradict the statement on my behalf. He telegraphed, in reply, asking me in which newspaper the statement made by Mr. Jackson appeared. The meeting, in question was held in front of the Trades Hall, and the local newspapers do not report such meetings. That being so, they did not publish the statements made on that occasion by Senator Russell, when he said that he had held at one time or another every Federal portfolio. He said, in effect -
Oh, I am a cook and a captain bold,
And the mate of the Nancy brig,
And a bo’sun tight, and amidshipmite,
And the crew of the captain’s gig.
– Hear, hear!
– That is what the Minister’s pal - that is what his offsider - practically said of himself. He went even further, and said, “ There is not a man in Melbourne who has done more for Labour than I have.” Some one in the crowd interjected, “What about Teddy Findley?” Then, in a weak sort of a way, Senator Russell replied, “ Oh, he is an older man than I am.” If some one had asked, ‘What about Steve Barker?” he would have dropped dead. I telegraphed to the Minister for Defence asking him to lift the censorship from this letter, so that it might go out to the public. I got this wire from the Minister -
Cannot approve any publication in press of this matter, which entirely one of discipline and administration Australian Imperial Force, and in which you must take same course as any other soldier.
I was taking the same course as any other soldier ought to take, and I told him that he was nothing more than a contemptible cad in the attitude he assumed. That does not look as if I were using any political influence on my own behalf. I wired to the Minister in Melbourne relative to the matter, and I received this reply -
Please call Censor Office, Eastern Extension Company, after 10, Tuesday, re your wire to Melbourne.
I was asked to go and see an ex-public servant re a correspondence I had had, as a member, with a Minister, out I never went near Dyke. Does that look as if influence was used on my behalf? I will tell honorable members why that little stab was sent from the Victoria Barracks. At Mitcham camp, where I was, the holidays announced were Christmas Day, the 28th December, and New , Year’s Day. The Department was magnanimous enough to give the soldiers three days’ holiday. I wired to the Minister for Defence, and told him of the dissatisfaction which the arrangement was causing, and suggested closing the camp from Christmas Eve until after New Year’s Day. This I made as an economic suggestion, ‘seeing that if the men were away from camp, they would have to buy all their own food. Strange to say, I got back a message to the effect that leave had been altered from the 27th December to the 2nd January inclusive. One of the officers, who asked to see the wire, expressed the opinion that it was a farce to get the men back for two days, as they would have nothing to do, and would have to be fed at the expense of the country. I brought the matter under the notice of the Acting Minister for Defence, but he had not the spine to act on his own initiative.
– I would not take dictation from you.
– Of course not.
– If I had remained at the Department, you would have been away before now.
– No doubt I would have been in Mesopotamia.
– Order !
– But you have not left Australia, although you are eligible.
-i would leave tomorrow if I were your, age.
– Order !
– I will compare my age with yours at any time.
– Nobody did more to dodge going to the Front than you did when I was Minister!
– I have several times called for order; and I ask honorable members to respect the call from the chair, especially when it has to be repeated. These personal interchanges are distinctly irregular, and only provocative of disorder.
– The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Laird Smith) is making statements which have a hidden meaning, and which are similar to one or two I have heard him make to others. I ask the honorable member to produce any documentary evidence he likes - to retail any conversation, or one word that I have ever spoken to him, ‘ to any officer, or any other person in the Department in regard to any matter pertaining to myself as a soldier. I say, deliberately, that I have never spoken a word to the honorable member in regard to myself as a member of the. Forces. I do not fear the honorable member’s innuendoes, for I challenge him to contradict what I have said. Let him get up, and retail anything to the contrary.
– The rules of the House prevent my doing so.
– As a further refutation of the suggestion of the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd) as to political influence exercised on my behalf, I should like to relate some other circumstances. At Easter time, we got word that the men in camp were to have Good Friday and Easter Saturday as holidays. In South Australia, Easter Monday is something of a national race day, on account of the Onkaparinga races; and, as the men in camp were mostly “ sports,” there was general dissatisfaction with the holiday arrangements. I wired to the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) pointing out the position, but, knowing ‘that my influence with him was not very great, I telephoned to the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr.Glynn),telling him what I had done, and asking him to assist in getting the holiday extended. That gentleman acquiesced in my request. In reply to my wire to the Minister for Defence, I got the following reply: -
Have fully considered question of Easter leave, and regret cannot authorize variation of instructions issued. ‘
That was before the Minister for Home and Territories had communicated with the Minister for Defence; but after he did communicate with him, I received another wire, as follows: -
My telegram you yesterday cancelled. Have issued amended instructions leave to be from conclusion afternoon parade, Good Friday, until midnight Easter Monday.
What I could not do, . the Minister for Home and Territories could do.
– I think the telegram from me to the Minister urged that the same rule should prevail in South Australia as. in Victoria.
– I do not know what the honorable gentleman’s telegram was, but the telegrams I have read were those I received from the Minister. I hope I have completely proved that I am not responsible for my remaining in Australia longer than is necessary. I hope I have sat isfied the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd) that there is no suggestion of political influence, or of any bias in my favour, in the Defence Department.
– To be candid, you have.
– I have hidden nothing, and embellished nothing, but simply placed the facts before honorable members. I do not ask for consideration, but only for a fair dealand no favour.
Having spoken of my own case, I would now like to give an instance of what political influence can do. We had a secretary in South Australia, Captain Olifent-, who had had twenty-nine years of military experience, and who went to Duntroon with a view to qualifying himself for a position in the Australian Imperial Force, but failed. It was stated, however, in the daily papers that he had enlisted for the Front; and the following Is the kind of letter that the Prime Minister sent to him on that occasion: -
Allow me to offer you my congratulations. It is redolent of fine spirit, and expressive of the Characteristics of the mind from which it springs. I am sure your action will do great good, and that it will serve as a clarion call to those who still hesitate.
Fine language ! Either that letter was written in collaboration with the Minister for Defence, or the Minister for Defence copied the Prime Minister, or the Prime Minister copied the Minister for Defence, as this and another letter I shall read will show. The letter of the Minister for Defence to Captain Olifent was as follows; -
I applaud your decision to join the Australian Imperial Force, and congratulate you on the step you have taken. I feel that you have acted as you . have done out of regard to the necessities of the present situation, and trust that your example will be a call to those who still hesitate.
Then the Minister for Home and Territories took a hand in the laudation of this soldier - the soldier’ who is not a soldier. The honorable gentleman wrote as follows : -
Captain Olifenthas, by enlisting, given an effective stimulus and personal example in regard to volunteering. I know from my intimacy with . him as a member of the State War Council, that he was mainly actuated by a sense of patriotism and duty. His volunteering for service at the Front will have a good effect upon the people. He certainly has excellent qualifications by his long training in the Military in times of peace, as well as in war. He has been an energetic member of the War Council, and is familiar with the pressing problems before it. He has a physique which shows he bears his moderate years well. All this goes to show that he should be a valued member of the Australian Imperial Force.
Captain Olifent is about 6 ft.2 in., and I dare say he weighs up to 18 stone. There was another letter written by Captain Solomon, V.D., but that does not concern us.
– Captain Olifent was on the State War Committee, and other Committees, with me.
– I admit that; but I think that the honorable gentleman was misled. He was not behind the scenes, or he would have known that when Captain Olifent vacated his position as secretary, he left the docket-holes full of letters, showing the negotiations that had gone on between himself and the Minister for Defence. This fine soldier with twentynine years’ experience, whose example would act as a “ clarion call,” and whose fine physique “ would be an acquisition to the Australian Imperial Force, is now, after one trip to England as a transport officer, on his way back to the Old Country in a similar capacity, with the pay that goes with the honorary rank of Major. He is given these health trips after all the lick-spittle nonsense I have read ; and perhaps the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd) would like to ask the Minister for Defence some questions about this case. Captain Olifent had all’ this stuff written about him, although he is simply a transport officer, whose address in London, I believe, is the Cecil, or some other great hotel. For these health trips he gets anything from £1 to £2 per day,
I do not say that as a soldier I will do great things, but I am prepared to do what I am told,, as honestly and well as
I know how. x et, I have to put up with the insignificant remarks of the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Palmer), backed up by the guffaw of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Archibald). I leave the public to judge as between the treatment given to a soldier and the treatment of one who is used simply as a mantelpiece ornament, and paid well for occupying the position. “
– I cannot understand why the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) has made an attack on me. What he said calls for a personal explanation. When I entered the Defence Department as Minister, I resolved to forget all politics when approached by a member, and to, do my duty to the best of my ability. The honorable member for Adelaide had hardly entered the Forces before he made application to come to Melbourne. The reason for this was, that he wished to interview the Minister. He has charged me with being spineless, because I refused to treat him, at his dictation, contrary to the way in which any other private would have been treated ~ under the military regulations. I told him that I knew him as Private Yates’, not as the honorable member for Adelaide.
– Is this a personal explanation ? While I am willing’ to hear the honorable member, I Submit, with due deference, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that what he is saying should- form part of his speech on the motion before the House. There is nothing to prevent him from saying what he wishes in speaking to the motion now under discussion.
– He has already spoken in this debate.
– Then I do not press my point. I rose, to some extent, under a misapprehension, and have no desire to prevent the honorable member from speaking. I thought that what he was saying would better form the subjectmatter of a speech than of a personal explanation, and that then an honorable member on this side of the chamber would get the next call, there being many of us who desire to speak on the motion.
– The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Laird Smith) rose to make a personal explanation, which every hon.orable member has a right to do when he conceives himself to have been misrepresented. I followed his remarks closely, lest he might break into new matter, and go beyond the statements made concerning him by the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr.. Yates), but when interrupted, he had not gone beyond what it is permissible to say under cover of a personal explanation.
– I have not much more to say. I endeavoured to give the honorable member for Adelaide a fair deal. I gave him to understand from the first moment that he approached me that I knew him as Private Yates, and not as a member of Parliament. That is why I did not act on his suggestion. It was for the Minister to judge what should be done,- and I refused to be dictated to by him. I acted on my own responsibility, a.nd did what I considered the right thing under the circumstances.
– The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Laird Smith) has stated that no sooner had I entered the Forces than I came to him. I wish to explain that I paid my first visit to Melbourne after my enlistment between the 30th October and the 7th November, and the honorable member was not then Assistant Minister for Defence. My second visit to Melbourne was made at Christmas time. It was then that I spoke to him regarding the holiday from the camp at Mitcham. The other occasion on which I spoke to him was when, being due back at Mitcham on the 2nd January, which necessitated leaving Melbourne on New Year’s Day, and not wishing to travel on the holiday, I asked for leave to return on the 3rd.
– Was not the honorable member in uniform on each occasion that he saw me t
– Being a. member of the Forces, I dare not doff my uniform. As to coming to the honorable member for any .personal advantage, if he suggests such a thing, I have the greatest contempt for his veracity.
– The defence of the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) may be well enough so far as it goes, but the continual presence here and elsewhere of members in the King’s uniform has been remarked on, especially in view of the fact that recruits are being urgently asked for. The honorable member made some remarks concerning Mr. Henley, who is a con.stituent of mine. I saw that gentleman’s letter, but I have not met him or corresponded with him since my last visit home, and he has had no inspiration from me.
– You know him.
– I have known him for the last thirty years as a man of honour and a gentleman, which is more than I know the honorable member to be.
– The honorable member cannot think that of him after having’ read his letter. The honorable member does not understand the meaning ‘of the word “ gentleman.”
– The speech of the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) was a characteristic one. It is a pity that he could not defend himself without making an attack on Major Olifent, who is at present on the high seas. Major Olifent, like Senator Colonel Rowell, was connected with the Volunteer Forces of the Commonwealth for more years than I care to remember. Year in and year out these officers and others donned the King’s uniform and attended parades on Saturdays and other occasions, being often insulted for doing so. They then formed the nucleus of our Defence Force. When war broke out the Fisher Administration, of which I was a member, determined to give these officers, who. had devoted the best years of their life to military work, the opportunity to go to Duntroon to study for examinations enabling them to obtain commissions in the Expeditionary Force. It was thought a matter of justice and equity that we should do that instead of giving all such commissions to young men of twenty-two or twenty-three, who naturally could pass examinations more easily than men in middle life. Parliament and the people indorsed that determination of the Ministry. It is possible that Major Olifent did not pass his examinations, because we know how difficult it is for a man of middle age’ to do what is easy for a young man. Still it will not bedenied that there are many men wearing the King’s uniform who are able and efficient officers in spite of the fact that they have not passed examinations. Many of those who have been promoted on the field of battle in Flanders have not done so, and will not be asked to do so. So far as that is concerned, that is nothing to be said in disparagement of Major Olifent.
As for transport service, the Minister has stated on more than one occasion that it is desirable to employ officers who are too old for active service, and thus relieveyounger and more active men. Elderly men by reason of their experience and tact, are often more valuable for transport officers than younger men would be. Senator Lt.-Colonel O’Loghlin has made several trips in charge of transports. The attack made on Major Olifent by the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) was caused by spite and. malignity. The honorable member might have waited till Major Oilfent had returned to Australia, and should not have used his position in the House to attack him in his absence. To my mind, his action was contrary to fair play. Men in uniform should not be allowed to stay here for over twelve months at a time when recruits are being called for. It is continually being asked, in the district of Hindmarsh, as elsewhere, when recruits are asked for, “ Why is not soandso at the Front?” I have known young men to be sent abroad within six weeks after they entered camp, and some of them have been killed within a year of their enlistment. Yet men of the stamp of the honorable member for Adelaide loaf about month in and month out for over a year without going away. This is a matter in regard to which the Defence Department should make some explanation. When men are asked to enlist they say, “ Why does not so-and-so go away?” We have heard the record of the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates). Let us see what the Defence Department has to say of him. If the Department is, correct, we ought to have it placed on record ; if it is not correct, the sooner it is withdrawn the better. It is as follows: -
With further reference to your letter dated 27th ultimo, inquiring as to the circumstances of the enlistment and military service of Gunner G. Yates, I am directed to inform you, in reply to your questions (which are returned herewith ) , as follows : -
No.8.9122 Gunner G. E. Yates was enlisted on the 30th October, 1916, and reported for duty in camp on the 4th November, 1916. He was allotted to the 9th Reinforcements of the 5th Pioneer Battalion, which embarked on 10th February, 1917. He was given, leave of absence from the 22nd November, 1916, to the 1st March, 1917, for recruiting purposes, and, therefore, could, not be embarked with the Pioneer Reinforcements. He was accordingly transferred to the Base Infantry Details for allotment to an . infantry reinforcement. On the 1st March, 1917, he applied to be transferred to the Army Service Corps, but was informed that there were no vacancies for the Army Service Corps in South Australia. His application was referred to the Commandant, Melbourne, as to whether there was a vacancy in the Army Service Corps Reinforcements in Victoria. The Commandant, Melbourne, reported that no vacancy existed.
Private Yates then applied for transfer to the Artillery Reinforcements, and was accordingly transferred, on 15th April, 1917. On 23rd May, 1917, he was transferred from South Australia to Maribyrnong Camp, Victoria, for training in artillery work, where he now is.
On 20th June and 3rd July, 1917, urgent appeals were made to the men in Maribyrnong Camp to voluntarily transfer to infantry reinforcements, owing to the reduced number of artillerymen required by the Army Corps Commander, and owing to the shortage of infantry reinforcements.
It. is understood that Private Yates was present when these appeals were made. He was not one of the men who responded to the appeal. He will probably be embarked for service abroad about the middle, of September, in the first transport to take artillerymen from Victoria.
From that record it appears . that the honorable member enlisted for service in the 5th Pioneer Battalion, and was to embark in February, five months afterwards. I heard on pretty good authority not long ago that there was no necessity to train men for the infantry so long at the present time, but that if they were trained here for five or six weeks- they could be sent to Europe, and get their full training there. That was done in the case of a young friend of mine, and, if necessary, I can supply the dates of his enlistment and embarkation. It is evident from the statement I have read that there was an urgent need for reinforcements for the infantry, and that the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) had ample ‘ opportunity . to volunteer. There was no necessity to allow him leave of absence’. If a man puts on the King’s uniform he is a soldier, and not a politician. “ You cannot’ mix the two jobs. If the duties of one position run counter to the “other the honorable member had better throw up the soldiering. He claims that he got leave for recruiting purposes, but it appears to me that it would have been better for the Department if he had been in training, so that he could go away with his brethren in arms. He applied for transfer to the Army Service Corps. Apparently he tried to get into any mortal thing to dodge going away.1 The honorable member enlisted for the purpose of dodging the general election, because if he had not gone into uniform he would not have been here to-day.
– That shows your dirty mind.
– Order! I ask the honorable member for Maribyrnong to withdraw.
– To comply with the forms of the House I do so, but I can think pretty hard all the same.
– As Deputy Speaker, sir, do you not think you ought to protect an honorable member, in his absence, from reflections of the character made . by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Archibald)?
– The honorable member, as- a parliamentarian of long experience, knows that the Speaker has no such power. If anything derogatory or forbidden by the Standing Orders is said here concerning an honorable member, whether he is present or absent, I will immediately call the honorable member making the reflection to order, but no such statement has been made.
– What right had this man to have leave, if he is a soldier? He gets a walk-over for his district, and he uses his leave of absence, not to go round his own district, but to go into the neighbouring district - my own electorate of Hindmarsh - night after night.
– That is the cause of the milk in the cocoanut.
– The honorable member can laugh, but it is a fact. If that is the policy pursued by the Defence Department it should not be allowed.
– He was not allowed out on leave whenever he wanted.
– He was’ in my district repeatedly at night, while I was going round on the campaign. This matter ought to be put on a proper basis, because it is in a very unsatisfactory state at present. The sooner these soldier politicians become one thing or the other the better. I do not want to refer to those that are already oh the other side of . the world, but it is obvious from what has been going on during the last eight or nine months that some of them who are still here are a good deal more politicians than they are soldiers. The sooner the Defence Department stops this sort of thing the better it will be for recruiting. It is not right that the public should be in a position to say that a member of Parliament is in a different position from any other man who enlists to serve his King and country.
.- I desire to say something concerning another war, and one which the honorable member for Flinders (SirWilliam Irvine) alluded to the other day as being more important even than the European struggle. I refer to the industrial conflict now being waged in New South Wales. To-day I asked the Prime Minister if the Government intended to take, any steps to arrange a conference between the Railways Commissioners and the officials representing the Railway and Tramway Association of New South Wales, and the Prime Minister replied that the Government did not intend to take any such action. Notwithstanding that the card system has been discredited in other countries of the world, where it has caused a tremendous amount of dissatisfaction and turmoil, an attempt was made to force it upon the tramway and railway employees of New South Wales, despite the results of the experience elsewhere, which oughtto have been at the command of the New South Wales Government. The action taken by the Minister for Defence when the Broken Hill strikers were dismissed for refusing to work the Saturday afternoon shift was in pleasing contrast to the attitude of the Government to-day towards the New South Wales strike. ‘
On the occasion to which’ I refer, the newspapers, as is the case to-day, were full of reckless statements about German money and German influence, as well as allegations about the soldiers at the Front being left without munitions, and so forth. We had a little toy munition factory in Broken Hill, but it never made any shells to do any damage to the enemy or calculated to improve the position of our men at the Front, and it went out of business immediately the strike was settled. We have heard no more about that factory, but, at the time of the Broken Hill strike, its existence was used to inflame the people of Australia against the strikers. The influence of the daily press, then as now, was used against the strikers, bub, as I have said, the Minister for Defence intervened at an early stage. He submitted a proposal which was neither desired by the men - who demanded forty-four hours as a condition for the resumption of work - nor by the companies.; but a compromise was effected, and the men resumed work on conditions then laid down, and ultimately the dispute was settled by the Arbitration Court.
I fail to see whyanyGovernment which is supposed to. legislate in the interests of the people of Australia - a great majority of whom belong to the working classes - should decline at this stage to take any steps towards ending this struggle, which may yet involve the whole Commonwealth in an industrial upheaval. It would appear from statements in the daily press from time to time, and from innuendoes in the leading, columns of the metropolitan papers, or from utterances such as were made the other day in Sydney by Mr. Campbell, secretary of the Farmers and Settlers Association, that it was known this trouble was coming. Mr. Campbell said that they had been expecting it for a considerable time, and they had accordingly made all preparations for the organization of free labour. He wound up by saying that the trouble could not have occurred at a more opportune time for them. That statement, taken in conjunction with others which have appeared in the press about the ever-increasing rapacity of the wageearners of Australia, coming on top of the refusal of the Prime Minister, speaking on behalf of the Government, to intervene, gives ground for the impression that the Government are behind the people who want to fight organized labour in Australia, and who are trying to precipitate an industrial upheaval such as occurred as a result of the maritime strike. But there are’ advantages in various directions. We have been told that the New South Wales Government are applying for the cancellation of registration of the unions involved, and that all those people who, by courtesy, are termed “free” labourers, will have the existing awards made, applicable to them by a simple process if they band themselves into organizations. It would appear that the card system - that objectionable Yankee speeding-up process, which has been found to be a failure in the industrial arenas of other countries- was absolutely forced upon the unionists in the hope that they would take definite action. Knowing the deep resentment felt towards it by the workers, the employing section expected this upheaval, and made their preparations accordingly.
A discussion on the strike situation is, in my opinion, of far more importance than a debate on the matters that have been referred to this evening. ‘ “We have been told that organized labour is attempting to dictate the terms upon which men shall be employed in the running of our railways, in our mines, or in any other capacity, and that organized labour should have no voice in these matters. Speaking as a representative of the industrialists and working classes of Australia, t say that we are going to give the men more and more say as to the conditions under which they shall be employed. “We are not living in that stage of the world’s history when men wore the collars of their masters round their necks; we are no longer to be treated as industrial serfs. Education is abroad to-day, and men demand to be treated, as men, and not as children. We have had experience of what political Democracy is supposed to mean. What we want now is a little more industrial Democracy. Having won the right to cast our votes in the political arena, we demand an increasingly greater say in the factory, the workshop, the mine, and the field; and it is because of that demand, and because the people who own and control our industrial enterprises know that their positions are menaced, and because they have political control through the Parliament of this country, that the Government will not take any action to bring about a peaceful settlement of the dispute. Apparently, the decks are cleared for action, and this long- looked-for fight between employers and organized labour is to be allowed to run its course. Those men who were loud in their statements a’ little time ago that they would far sooner live under Prussian militarism than under Australian unionism, and who declaimed against the walking delegates and other “ objectionable “ representatives of unionism, are now taking advantage of the patriotism of the people to mis- lead the workers outside the unions into the belief that it is a patriotic duty to take the other fellow’s job, in order to play the game for the employer. If Parliament itself, will not’ insist, on the Government taking action to bring about a conference between the principals in the present struggle, I hope the people in the various electorates will insist that their political representatives shall demand that such action be taken.
– The Prime Minister interceded and brought about a compulsory conference between the coal mine-owners and the miners. A settlement was arrived at, hut ever since there has been continuous striking.
– I do not know that there has been constant striking, but I do know that the Prime Minister made a statement in which he refused to say that the series of stoppages which had occurred on individual mines were brought about by the deliberate intention of the coal miners as a whole.
– What about the coal lumpers’ battalion? They put their signature to an undertaking that they would not strike and hold up the coaling of transports, no matter what troubles occurred, and we gave them the highest rates of pay received by any lumpers in Australia.
– What about the Prime Minister’s statement that the industrial conditions of labour would not be altered? Was that also a “scrap of paper”? The coal lumpers are following the example of the Prime Minister.
– Then they are breaking their . arrangement ?
– If they were fools enough to make that arrangement. It is’ not at all certain that the men who are employed now in the capacity of coal lumpers ever gave that guarantee. The Minister knows as well as I do that the occupation of coal lumpers is intermittent, and it may be that there is not a man in that occupation to-day who gave that undertaking.
– The secretary of the Coal Lumpers’ Union gave an assurance.
– If he did, I do not know under what circumstances he gave it, or that his union, authorized him to do so.
– It was signed on behalf of the union by the secretary and president. ,
– I have heard an assurance given before to-day by a certain union secretary, who is now engaged in prosecuting unionists on behalf of employers, so I do not attach too much importance to that undertaking.
– It- was a signed agreement.
– That is all very fine. We have seen agreements broken by employers before to-day. It is said that circumstances alter cases. Even if the coal lumpers did what the Minister says they did - and that I do not admit - I believe that circumstances would be found which would justify the men in taking the action they have taken. We have an Imperial illustration of a broken undertaking. When the Empire went to war with the BoerRepublics the statement was made that not one inch of territory would be annexed, but after the war the OrangeFree State and the Transvaal were annexed. <
– Ask for the agreement between the Coaling Battalion and the Government to be placed on the table.
– I have no reason to ask for it. I am prepared to take the coal lumpers’ side. I belong to the working class, and I am prepared to take their view unless I am shown absolute evidence to the contrary. Although I am still ayoung man, I have had sufficient experience to know that men do not strike for fun. I have had personal experience of the men engaged in the trouble in New South Wales. I worked on the Sydney trams for a period, and I know that the employees of that system are not the men to strike without extraordinary grievances. Whether the men were right or wrong in the belief that the obnoxious card system would do them an injury, the fact remain’s that they honestly believed it would. Do honorable members wish to believe that men who have grown old and grey in the Service, and who risk the forfeiture of their superannuation rights, would strike for a mere whim - that they were going to ruin everything for the purpose of securing a holiday ?
– They were scared of their leaders.
– The honorable member may tell that to the people of
Henty, but it is idle for him to tell it to the people here.
– The people here believe.it, because they know that it is true.
– Because they are fed up with that sort of thing by the Argus, and other newspapers which reflect the honorable member’s opinion. The newspapers are continually telling the people that. When the last industrial trouble took place at Broken Hill, the mining companies allowed the men to lose the Saturday afternoon shift for nearly four months. They continued this practice until they had accumulated sufficient stocks of lead and zinc for their own purposes; then they turned round and discharged the men whom they had allowed to lose the Saturday afternoon shift for the period I have indicated.
– The last strike was over Brookfield.
– No; that was a stop-work meeting, which was perfectly within the law.
– What is the difference?
– If the honorable member attempted to put his views into operation at Broken Hill, he would soon discover the difference, as Brother Brookfield did. He can obtain all the information that he may desire in regard to stopwork meetings from the late president of the Waterside Workers, the present Prime Minister.
– I suppose he is the father of the proposition?
– He was certainly the godfather of it for a long time. It is ridiculous for any sane man to believe that thousands of men are willing to leave their employment at the mere behest of their officials.
– Why have the seamen gone out on strike ? They must have a microbe under their skull.
– I cannot say why the seamen have struck, but I am quite prepared to believe that if they considered it necessary to cease work, they were labouring under a substantial grievance.
– They do not know why they have gone out on strike.
– The honorable member has no more opportunities for obtaining information than I have. He has simply to accept the statements which appear in. the daily press; and we all know that, for the purpose of breaking strikes, there are reporters employed on our newspapers who possess very vivid imaginations, and who are always ready to write up interviews with dissatisfied workers which never took place. In spite of the statements which have appeared in the press to the effect that thousands of the strikers in Sydney are resuming work, we still find that the men there are standing solidly together.
– Is it a fact that Mr. Todd has gone back to work?
– It is reported in the newspapers that he has done so, but whether the statement is true I cannot say. I do recollect, however, that when the railway strike took place in Victoria, the newspaper proprietors printed two editions of their journals - one for the benefit of country subscribers, and the other for the benefit of city people.
– The honorable member was toddling to school then.
– Whether I was toddling to school or not does not matter. If I was attending school at the time, I learned something from my attendance, anyhow. I learned not to pay too much attention to newspaper reports when an industrial disturbance is in progress.
– How did the honorable member learn so much?
– I had to cease going to school when I was very young, because it was necessary that I should go to work. Possibly that is why I did not acquire sufficient culture to interest the honorable member. But I learned sufficient in the school of experience to teach me that my interests are bound up with the interests of those who are on strike in Sydney at the present time. It taught me to expect no concessions from the class that is represented by the honorable member.
– The honorable member should ask Mrs. Egan her experience of strikes.
– I did not know that the honorable member had such an intimate acquaintance with the lady.
– The honorable member himself had a fairly intimate experience of her.
– I had. The honorable member himself is evidently referring to the circular which was distributed
– I read the evidence given at the trial, and it did not reflect much credit on anybody.
– Then the honorable member read, as he always does, the evidence of one side only, because there was no evidence tendered on the other. For hisbenefit, let me say that I have nothing to be sorry for in connexion with . that case. I reserve all my sympathy for the members of my own class, and not for the “ scabs “ on it. But, seeing that reference has been made to this particular matter, and that the honorable member is anxious to become fully acquainted with the facts, I advise him to read the evidence tendered by both sides to the Wages Board, at Broken Hill, in connexion with the strike with which Mrs. Egan was associated. Then, if he feels so disposed, he can ‘say whether he sides with the employers against whom the hotel employees struck; because the former took advantage of the depression produced in Broken Hill, owing to the outbreak of war, in certain instances, to pay no wages at all to helpless girls who had no relations in Broken Hill. These girls had no home in the town to which they could go if they were put out of the hotel or boarding house where they were working. Only the street was left to them.
– Would not the Judge’s remarks be more interesting than all this talk?
– They would be more interesting to the honorable member, who, I have no doubt, would swallow them open mouthed. Honorable membersopposite, who talk about a breach of agreement on the part of the coal lumpers, have nothing but sympathy for those who take advantage of industrial disturbances to go back upon their own class. Any unbiased man who reads the evidence in the case against the Hotel, Club and Restaurant Employees Union of Broken Hill can come to no other conclusion than that there was never a more justifiable strike than that in which these girls and men took part. Every one of the employers had signed an individual agreement, in which he undertook to adhere to the conditions that prevailed prior to the war. These unionists did not ask for an increase of a penny in their prewar wages or for a minute reduction in their hours of employment. They merely asked for the maintenance of the status quo. When the secretary of the Hotel, Club and Restaurant Employees Union applied for a Wages Board, so that this agreement might be legally ratified, the employers took advantage of the application to put in a counter-claim, in which they asked that the hours of employment in certain instances should be increased to fifty-six a week, and that the wages should be reduced to the rates paid in Sydney plus 10 per cent. Then came to the front this lady to whom the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) has referred, and who was a dummy for another employer in the town. When her shop, with others, was shut down as a result of the strike, she “scabbed” on her former fellow employees. She had refused to join the union prior to any trouble taking place. When the industrial disturbance did take place, this valiant lady, with the assistance of another female, levelled a revolver at the head of a little crippled lad, weighing about 7 st., and beat him. While one held a revolver. at his head the other beat and tarred and feathered him. That is the sort of exploit of which the honorable member for Dampier and those associated with him feel proud.
– Why did they do it?
– The honorable member had better ask the lady to explain to him the reason, since she has already told him so much. I merely desire to give the honorable member facts.
– You give facts?
– Yes; and . facts which the honorable member cannot answer.
– Who is this insignificant little man who was thus attacked ?
– The president of the union.
– These presidents must be pretty cheap. up there if this one weighed only 7 st.
– Like the honorable member, the men up there pick and choose. I have nothing of which to be ashamed in my association’ with that strike. I was in employment at the time, but I lost my employment because I fought the battle ofthe union in question, I did not get a penny piece or any per sonal advantage out of the part I played in it, but I am proud of my association with that fight on behalf of a section of the workers of Broken Hill,
Is it not remarkable that workers in Australia, who are forced out of employment, or whoby reason of the fact that their conditions have become intolerable, are compelled to take action to obtain redress, are held up as anti-patriots? It is said that they are the paid agents of Germany. One cannot pick up a newspaper in whichthere is not a reference to a strike, under such head-lines as “ More German Influence,” or “More German Money at Work.” And yet we find that in . Spain, Italy, France, the United States, England, and, indeed, every country having any pretence to civilization where industry has been established the same conflict between labour and capital is going on.
– It has also been going on for years in Japan.
– Japanese workers have been on strike. Even in China and India strikes have occurred. Wherever capitalism has raised its head and the exploitation of industrial development has taken place we find the same conflict going on. In every case the cause is the same. The conflict is due, not to German influence but to the conditions under which men and women are called upon to work. At the back of all this talk of patriotism, and of all the talk of crushing out German trade, in which honorable members opposite love so much to indulge, there is but the one idea. The only concrete, evidence of German influence so far as Broken Hill is concerned is that of German names to be found in the list, of shareholders in the mines there.
– All theGerman influence is on the other side.
– It is. Speaking of industrial conditions. I am reminded of a statement bearing on the question of industrial trouble which was published in that revolutionary newspaper the Age on 1st August last. This is not an extract from a red-rag paper, or from the Industrial Workers of the World Direct Action. but from that eminently respectable organ the Age. In its leading columns it wrote : -
The time is steadily approaching when the Government of the Commonwealth will have to choose between continuing its present policy -which isintrinsically a policy of strike promotion, and the creation of general tumult and disorder - and adopting a policy scientifically calculated to banish discontent; that is to say, a general policy of price fixing.
I wish to point out to honorable members who desire to know why various unions are striking which are not directly interested in the dispute between the Railways Commissioners and their employees, that possibly a solution of the question may be found in the general unrest and discontent. As has been pointed out in the selfsame leading article in the Age -
The. present situation is as follows:Despite the increased wages won by fifteen years of continuous agitation, the average Australian worker is 11.1 per cent. worse off to-day, , in the matter of purchasing power, than in 1901; and that section of the consuming public whose earning power has rested stationary during the period is no less than 50.7 per cent. worse off. We see, then, that the employing class has not only succeeded in positively sterilizing the apparently victorious efforts of the workers to improve their circumstances, it has outwitted them all along the line, and put them in a much worse position. Assuming the accuracy of the Statist’s figures and deductions, what is it but downright humbug for any person to disparage the prevailing industrial discontent and to hold up the Australian worker to special execration as a type of insatiable greed?
Were we to talk here for hours we could not make out a stronger indictment against the present Administration than appears in that leading article in the Age of the 1st August. . While we hear constantly ofan enormous increase in the cost of living, while we have a statement based on the Statist’s figures that as regards the purchasing power of money the workers are 11.1 per cent. worse off than they were in 1901, absolutely no remedial action is taken. But when the Government are askedto make an effort to reduce the cost of living, we are told that there are insuperable difficulties in the way’. When we say that exorbitant profits are being made while the war is proceeding, persons deny that any extraordinary profits are being made. Yet we know that the workers’ wages have decreased to the extent pointed out by the Age in its leading article. We know that the prices of commodities are going up sky high every day, and that somebody must be deriving a profit. Let me give an instance which came under my notice on the very day I left Broken Hill, and which is absolutely authentic. A bullock was sold at. Elder, Smith’s yards there for £25. The weight at theabattoirs, dressed, was 1,260 lbs.
The average price per lb. was1s., coming to £63; the hide brought 50s., and the tongue 8s. 6d., making a total of £65 18s. 6d. As the bullock was sold for £25, there was a gross profit of £40 18s. 6d. I do not say that that result is characteristic of the whole of the bullocks sold at Broken Hill. On the morning I left I obtained these figures, which can be vouched for.
– Can you guarantee that price for the next few months? If you can I will send over a few bullocks.
– Seeing that the Government have every hope of remaining in office for some time, I think that we would be safe in getting a guarantee for the honorable member.
– Get a guarantee, and I am with you.
– Did that bullock have any bones ?
– I suppose that it did. I do not know whether they were as productive as they might have been, but I know that these figures are absolutely correct.
– They are absurd on. the face of them.
– If the honorable member challenges the figures I can substantiate them. I obtained the figures, not from people who did not know anything about this matter, but from the butchers direct.
– I do not care where you got the statement from - it is not correct.
– I do not propose to take up any more time. I felt that it was absolutely necessary that something should be said about the Government’s refusal to take any action towards bringing about, or attempting to bring about, a conference between the people engaged in, the present industrial upheaval. Instead of any attempt being made on behalf of the Government who are interested, in spite of the statements made that the strike is absolutely ruining any chance of Australia effectively participating in the war, any help is absolutely refused by the head of the Government to bring about a peaceable solution. I hope that honorable members will not be put off with the statement of the Prime Minister, but will see that some efforts are made to. bring about an amicable settlement.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Greene) adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.44 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 August 1917, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1917/19170816_reps_7_82/>.