8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Picture in Queen’s Hall.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to a painted atrocity in the Queen’s Hall, entitled “ The Signing of the Peace Treaty”? Is it a fact that the owner of this picture desires to push it on to the Commonwealth for £1,000? What action, if any, does the Prime Minister contemplate taking against the perpetrator of the picture?
– I do not think that the question is a proper one. It is evidently ironical.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to a beautiful oil painting in the Queen’s Hall ? If so, is it a fact that the owner of the picture desires to confer a benefit upon the Commonwealth by selling it to the Government for £1,000?
– My attention has not been called to a picture of any sort or kind. If the honorable srentleman has been painted, and the artist proposes to charge £1,000 for his work, the man should be prosecuted.
– Is the Minister for Shipbuilding prepared to lay on the table the papers connected with the appointment of an engineering inspector to the Shipbuilding Yards in South Australia ?
– I shall havepleasure in placing the papers in the Library.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Home and Territories been drawn to. the extraordinary discrepancies between the Commonwealth and
State electoral rolls, and can he inform the House what steps the Government is taking to bring about uniformity in the methods of compiling these rolls ?
– The honorable member spoke to me about this matter yesterday, and therefore I am able to answer the question in some detail. For some time past an attempt has been in progress to get an arrangement between the Commonwealth and the States for the adoption of rolls covering both Commonwealth and State electorates, but the only State that has, so far, agreed to this arrangement, is Tasmania. Mr. Oldham, our Chief Electoral Officer, is now in Adelaide, and I think will be able to make an arrangement under which, not only the rolls containing the names of South Australian Assembly electors, but also those containing the names of electors for the South Australian Legislative Council, will be combined with the Commonwealth rolls for the State. I feel confident that such rolls will be used at the general election there next year. From Adelaide, Mr. Oldham will proceed to Sydney and try to get into touch with the authorities there. I am satisfied that if we rely solely on correspondence we shall never arrive at finality in this matter.
– Will the Prime Minister communicate with the Commonwealth Commissioners and ascertain when they are likely to present their report on the basic wage? I am receiving a lot of telegrams asking when a decision is likely to be made known.
– I shall do what the honorable member asks.
Wireless Station on Willis Islands.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether, as a survey of the Willis group of islands, off the North Queensland coast, has been made, and all particulars in connexion therewith are now available, the Minister will take such action as may be necessary to at once establish a wireless station at the above-named group of islands, so that timely warning may be given of the approach of cyclonic disturbances, provision for such establishment having, I understand, been made in the current Estimates ?
– I will inquire into the matter. I am not sure that the whole of the necessary particulars have yet come to hand.
– Has the Minister for the Navy read the article in to-day’s Age, which speaks of the creation of another Naval Base in Corio Bay, because Westernport has been found unsuitable for submarines, and did he see at the tail of the article the assertion that we were lucky to have the base in Victoria, because Hobart could provide a more suitable site? Is it proposed to go to great expense at Corio Bay in preparing a base on an unsuitable site? Would it not be better to establish the base at Hobart, and thus prevent the waste of money ?
– The establishment of the base near Geelong was determined before I took office, but having gone into the matter, I am satisfied that the site is one of the best in Australia. No doubt, in Tasmania there is an ample depth of water; but it is considered better to have the base on the mainland, and I am told by the best experts that Corio Bay provides the most suitable site. Submarines can lie in Corio Bay and go out into Port Phillip to be exercised. In Port Phillip there is a depth of 13 fathoms of water, over a splendid sandy bottom, so that there is no danger in exercising these vessels there. The submarine of to-day is a different vessel from the submarine that was in vogue when the Westernport Base was chosen.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will the Government obtain data relating to the following matter: -
What are the payments of all kinds made to returned soldiers and sailors and their dependants by the United Kingdom and the Dominions of Canada, New Zealand, and South. Africa ?
What arrangements re life insurance have been made by the same Governments for the soldiers and sailors who enlisted, and the premiums charged for a stated sum of,say, £1,000?
Will the Government issue a bulletin or report as such information arrives?
– It is considered that this information should be asked for in the form of a motion for a return.
Rate of Intereston Deposits
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
In view of the fact that all who take up war bonds receive up to 6 per cent., and by purchasingat the Stock Exchange receive as high as 7 per cent., vide report of Palmers, stockbrokers, of Sydney, will the Government request the Commonwealth Bank to give higher interest to the workers of Australia, who have only the Savings Bank in which to deposit their money?
– In reply to a question by the honorable member on 14th October, I stated that, in regard to the rate of interest to be paid on deposits in Commonwealth Savings Banks, the Governor of the Bank is the sole authority. I have referred the honorable member’s question to him.
Supply of Rifle Accessories
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Whether the Minister is now in a position to state when rifle accessories and barrels will be available to members of rifle clubs throughout the Commonwealth?
– Rifle barrels and accessories are now available in all States except South Australia, arid supplies will be available in that State within the next few days.
– On 19th October, 1920, the Honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) asked the following questions : -
I promised that the information would ,be obtained, and now furnish the following replies :-
The following papers were presented : -
Distillation Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1920, No. 184.
Excise Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1920, No. 1S3.
Extension of Buildings and Equipment at Geelong.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1914, the following works be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for their report thereon, viz.: - Extension to buildings and equipment of the Commonwealth Woollen Cloth Factory at Geelong, Victoria.
On the Works and Buildings Estimates, which the House has already passed, provision is made for an expenditure of £8,000 towards these buildings and for an expenditure of £38,000 for plant, so that we have already appropriated for this purpose a sum of £46,000. I am now moving that the whole matter be referred to the Public Works Committee for inquiry and report. To meet military, naval, postal and other requirements, it has been decided that it is desirable to double the present output capacity of 600,000 yards per annum of the Commonwealth Government Woollen Cloth Factory at Geelong. This involves the installation of additional plant and the extension of buildings for its accommodation. To provide this accommodation it is proposed to erect on a site to the west of and adjoining the present building, which is Commonwealth property, additions comprising a floor area of 31,616 square feet, of which 19,760 square feet will be devoted to the extension of the weaving room and the remaining 11,856 square feet to the finishing room. These extensions will be comprised in a number of bays, each 30 feet wide, in continuity of those which already exist. The length of each bay will be 104 feet. The structure is to be similar in all respects to that which already exists. It will have brick walls, a concrete floor, and steel story posts and roof principals. Efficient natural lighting will be provided by a sawtooth roof over the whole area of the extension, and there will be windows in the western wall. There will also be provided the necessary additional lavatory accommodation for male and female employees, together with drainage, &c, electric light, power, and fire-preventive services. Tha estimated cost of the works and services is £23,993, and the Defence Department has advised that to provide the necessary machinery a further amount of £36,800 will be required, making a total estimated cost of £60,793. I submit the plans, specifications, and statement in compliance with the provisions of the Act.
– I desire to draw the attention of the House to what seems to be. a constant effort on the part of the authorities controlling the Works Department - I do not say the Minister is responsible for it - to erect Commonwealth buildings in Victoria or to extend some of those already in existence here. These proposals seem to suggest the atmosphere of Victoria.
– Is the honorable member referring to the contemplated expenditure of £150,000 at Canberra?
– Canberra is part of our own Territory. Queensland, one of the greatest States in the Commonwealth, produces wool of the best quality, and yet we have no proposal to establish a factory of this kind, or indeed any other Commonwealth factory in the State. I believe the Commonwealth Woollen Cloth Factory at Geelong has been very successful, but if we intend to extend our operations in this regard, we should establish a woollen mill in each State. No one State of the Commonwealth should have a monopoly. In these circumstances I think the Public Works Committee should not be limited to art inquiry as to the suitability of Geelong for works of this character. The Committee should have power to make inquiries throughout the Commonwealth and to report as to the most suitable site in each State for the erection of a woollen mill. I do not object to the establishment of Government mills, but I am certainly opposed to the duplication of the Geelong mill. I am not putting in a special claim for New South Wales, although it is a well-known fact that the best tweeds manufactured in the Commonwealth come from the Marrickville district, where there is an abundant water supply. I should like the Committee to have power to inquire as to whether or not the water supply there ia not more suitable for the purposes of woollen mills than is that at Geelong. It should inquire whether a State which has> ample coal supplies should not be considered rather than a State which has to import most of its coal. I shall object to this motion unless the Minister is prepared to omit the word “Geelong” and to give the Committee power to recommend the best site for such mills in Australia. The ambit of the Committee’s inquiry should be enlarged.
– Would the honorable member have the mills established at Canberra ?
– Let the Committee make inquiries as to the best site for a mill in each State.
.- I agree with the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) that the Committee should be empowered to make inquiries in all the States. In my electorate, in the southern part of South Australia, we have abundant supplies of water running to waste, and we produce wool on a large scale. We have, in short, everything essential to the establishment of a woollen mill. The Government would be well advised, in establishing mills, to work up our rough wools, which are now almost a drug on the market, while our finer wools could continue to go to those countries wh’ich so badly need them. I believe there is no part of the British Empire so well adapted for the manufacture of woollens as is the south-eastern portion of South Australia.
.- I hope the Minister will take notice of what has been said, by the other honorable members who have spoken. The establishment of the woollen industry is vital to the welfare of Australia, and Commonwealth mills should not be restricted to one State. The activities of the Government in this respect should extend over all the States. To merely establish mills in Victoria will be a verY short-sighted policy. Queensland produces some of the finest Australian wools, and has abundance of water and other natural facilities for the manufacture of woollens, and has a right to be considered when the Government are proposing the establishment of further mills. It is unnecessary to dwell on the advantages which New South Wales offers for this industry.
– This is subject to Queensland receiving first preference.
– I am not advocating preferential treatment of any one State, but I do believe in preferential treatment of the people. That can be given only by establishing these mills wherever possible in Australia. The finest wool in the world is grown in New South Wales, which produces 39 per cent, of the total Australian wool clip. The finest breed of sheep is to be found there. Mr. Falkiner, who was formerly a member of the House, has done a great deal in that State to improve the breed of sheep. Amongst other natural advantages is an abundance of the particular class of water required for the treatment of the wool. The people of Tasmania, too, have a right to be considered in regard to the possibility of the woollen industry being set up in their midst.
– Tasmania has the cheapest power in Australia.
– That State has natural advantages for creating cheap power, and I am pleased to know that efforts are being made to develop ita power resources. There is a great future for Tasmania if its natural advantages in this respect are developed to the fullest extent. Having regard to the fact that . it is vital to the interests of Australia that the woollen industry should be established on a broad and per:manent basis, the Minister should agree to the Public Works Committee having power to extend its investigations to all the States. Honorable members are well aware of the reputation which New South Wales has for the production of first class tweeds. At Marrickville, in that State, the best Australian tweeds are produced. Nobody has a more intimate knowledge of that fact than have you, Mr. Speaker. But, unfortunately, the works are not extensive enough to supply the whole of Australia’s requirements. The Government should offer every encouragement to the extension of the industry in -the various States’, and build up a great Australian asset. It appears to me a suicidal policy for Australia, which’ is probably the greatest wool-producing country in the ‘world, to be exporting practically the whole of the raw product and buying it back in its manufactured form. Why should we not do the manufacturing ‘here, where the raw material is produced, and, at any rate, endeavour to supply our own requirements of woollen goods? For that reason, amongst others, I strongly advocate that everything possible should be done to develop the woollen industry throughout the Commonwealth.
– I support the request that has been made for the extension of this reference. The establishment of woollen mills is a matter that should receive the most careful consideration at the hands of the Public Works Committee, and, therefore, the reference should not be restricted to any one State. It is essential that consideration should be given to the fact that at the present time the woollen industry is entirely dependent on coal supplies for power. If a coal strike occurs, all manufacturing operations are suspended. Other honorable members have urged the establishment of Commonwealth woollen mills at Sydney and other . places, but I suggest that the manufacturing should be done where the raw product is produced, and where there are large supplies of water, and water power, as there are in the northern districts of New South Wales. Albury is another place which will have a permanent and plentiful supply of water and power before long, and’ there ave other situations which have these natural advantages for the establishment of the woollen industry. The claims of all these places should be considered by the Committee.
.- So far no honorable member has supported tha Government’s proposal; but I have pleasure in doing so. I suppose that will be almost sufficient to defeat the motion. If this were a proposal to establish new mills, I would favour an inquiry all over Australia, in order to ascertain the best possible site, but if the honorable members who have spoken were investing their own money instead of the public money- -
– They would not invest it in Geelong.
– They would ascertain which place was naturally best adapted for the industry. I hold no special brief for Geelong - it is not in my electorate - but I believe it is the most natural manufacturing district for woollens in Australia.
– What advantages has it over some places in New South Wales ?
– One advantage is climate, which is an important consideration in connexion with the woollen in* dustry. If honorable members have ever visited a woollen mill they must know that during the hot weather it is necessary to keep a steam spray playing upon the wool in order that it may be kept damp.
– A steam spray is not Required in North Queensland, because it is always damp up there.
– Take the case of Great Britain, and it will be found that industries have become centralized in certain districts. Why is the woollen industry located in the West Riding of Yorkshire? Simply because it had its origin there, and the industry has continued to grow until it has reached, its present proportions.
– Speak of Australia.
– Industries are becom-ing centralized in Australia.
– In all centres.
– Tweed is being manufactured in various places in the Commonwealth.
– The best serge in the world is- being made at Trowbridge, iii Wiltshire.
– -Of course, there are little factories throughout England; but if a big woollen mill ware starting operations there to-morrow it would be established in Yorkshire, because the necessary labour is available. In the United States the wool industry is centred around the Fall River, just as the boot industry is centred around Boston. These are centralized industries.
– The honorable member wants the whole of the industries of Australia centralized in Victoria.
– I do not. If Geelong be not the best site that is available for Commonwealth woollen mills, certainly those mills ought not to be spread over six different (States. The best site should be selected, and the industry should be established there.
– We wish to give the Public Works Committee power to select the best site.
– If we were about to establish Commonwealth woollen mills, I would have no objection to doing that. But the Government have already expended in land and machinery at Geelong, probably, £100,000, and if the site chosen be an unsuitable one, that machinery ought to be scrapped, and the mills removed to the most eligible site. The idea of establishing Commonwealth woollen mills in six different States is absurd. If Geelong is not the right place in which to establish them, let us remove them to the best possible site. Prior to Federation, probably not 25 per cent, of the boots of Australia were manufactured in my own electorate. But since then, most of our boot factories have been established there. Why?
– Because of cheap labour.
– The labour employed in the boot industry in Victoria is tha highest paid labour in Australia.
– It is not. The New South Wales basic wage is higher than the wage it receives.
– The boot operatives get more than the basic wage. The honorable member knows that the boot trade is a well-organized industry, and that the operatives who are employed in it have not been down to the basic wage for the past twenty years. In other words, they have always received more than the minimum wage. I will guarantee that the skilled operatives in the boot trade are receiving, in some cases, 10 per cent., and in others 25 per cent., more than the award of the Court.
An Honorable Member. - That is why boots are dear.
– Boots are dear, but the boot operatives are not getting the whole of the increased prices.
– Does the honorable member say that they are getting from 10 to 25 per cent, more than the basic wage in New South Wales?
– No; .but they are getting from 10 to 25 per cent, more than the award of the Arbitration Court.
– More than the award of the Court in Victoria ?
– I am speaking of a Commonwealth award.
– But the wage which they receive in Victoria is less than the basic wage which is paid in New South Wales.
– No; the Commonwealth Arbitration Court operates in New South Wales as well as in Victoria, and I am speaking of the award which was made in connexion with the boot industry. That award is higher than is the basic wage of New South Wales. The position is that the industry is becoming centralized in my electorate simply because the requisite labour is available there. Similarly a match factory was started in Richmond, and two other factories of a similar character have since been established there. Why? Because the necessary labour is forthcoming there. The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) can tell us that the white work industry is centralized, so far as Victoria is concerned, in the district of Bourke.
– But we are talking of Australia, and not of any State.
– What applies to one industry applies to all industries. I shall support the motion, because I believe that Geelong is one of the best sites in the Commonwealth for this particular industry.
.- I entirely agree with the argument which has been advanced in regard to the desirableness of establishing additional woollen mills in Australia. The woollen industry is one of our great key industries, and the question which we are now discussing is one of the most important questions affecting Australia. We should be narrow-minded indeed if we were to come to any conclusion upon it without a thorough and exhaustive inquiry into the best site that is available for Commonwealth woollen mills. I do not know what my constituents would think of me if I failed upon an occasion like the present to emphasize the claims of my own electorate. I do so, not from any narrow or parochial consideration, but merely because New England is the natural centre of the woollen industry of this country. That district grows the finest wool that is produced in Australia, and it is the most central of all parts of the Commonwealth. When a connexion by rail is made between Dubbo and Werris Greek, the whole of the western portion of New, South Wales will be linked up with the New England District, which will then draw from Queensland and the north of the mother State practically all her wool supplies. All the conditions which are necessary for a large centre of population obtain there at the present time, and the climate is the finest in Australia. The fertility of the soil of New England is not surpassed by that of any other part of Australia. Everybody knows that where manufacturing industries are established a fertile soil is necessary in order that the people engaged in those industries may obtain the commodities that they require.
– There is plenty of coal in New England.
– I thank my honorable friend for reminding me that there is any amount of coal there. I have no doubt that when the honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) gets his hydroelectric scheme operating upon the Clarence River we shall secure sufficient power not merely for the manufacture of our wool into cloth, but for gristing our wheat, tanning our hides, and manufacturing our boots. The whole of the industrial undertakings of this country will be revolutionized when that power is available.
– What will Sydney do then ?
– Sydney will be all right, because it is a city with a harbor. I quite agree with the contention that a through inquiry should be made into the question of which is the best site available for the establishment of our woollen mills, and that that inquiry should not be limited to the eligible sites in any one State. The Committee should have a free hand to investigate and report to the House.
.-I hold a somewhat different view from that of honorable members who have preceded me. I do not think it is so much a matter of inquiry as to the erection of mills in the various States as a question of the necessity for this Commonwealth Parliament to decide once and for all whether or not Commonwealth factories shall be erected in our own Territory. The Commonwealth possesses to-day 900 square miles, to which we talk of eventually moving the Seat of Government. How are we to populate the Territory if we continue to build our factories in the various States? We ought not to confine the Public Works Committee to ascertaining whether there should be an extension of the Woollen Mills at Geelong. They ought to have greater discretion. If we refer a matter to the Committee, and stipulate definitely that it shall inquire only into that particular matter, we limit the scope of their inquiry. The Public Works Committee should have the power to inquire whether Canberra is suitable for this particular industry, and not merely whether we should expend £60,000 in making additions to this factory in Victoria. I am not speaking from the point of view of any particular State. To-day the Commonwealth has offices and factories in different parts of Australia, more particularly in Victoria, and if we admit the argument that where we have an existing building in Victoria development should be met by the extension of that factory, we can practically centralize all such industries in this State. We have erected many factories in this State, and I take it the day will come when their success will call for further extensions. Are we, then, in case of such development, to enlarge the factories in this or any other State in preference to erecting buildings in our own Territory?
– Was this Geelong factory submitted to the Public Works Committee?
– I cannot say; but I do not think so. My contention is that the Government are in duty bound to subniit such projected works to the Committee, with discretion to say, after hearing evidence, whether, in their opinion, they should be established in our own Territory or elsewhere. Wool is produced all around the Federal area, so that there would be no difficulty in obtaining material for manufacture, together with water and every other requisite for the production of woollen goods. Why should we expend Commonwealth money in improving State values, whenwe ought to be improving the value of our own property? Some day we expect a large revenue from Canberra. We have already, I believe, spent £1,000,000 there, and will have to expend many more millions in building the city. Why, then, should we not expend the public money in improving our property?
– Where could the labour be got for the mill at Canberra?
– There is no difficulty in getting labour anywhere if we buy it. There are quite a number of working people who would like to settle in the Federal Territory, and these people are not confined to New South Wales, but are to be found in other States.
– We do not wish the people to leave other States for the Territory.
– I know; but this is a broader question than that of State rights; it is one of Australian rights, and affects the whole of the people of the Commonwealth. Like any ordinary business man, we ought to expend our money in improving the value of our own property. In order to test the feeling of the House, I move -
That after the word “Victoria” the words “or erection of buildings at Canberra, New South Wales” be added.
I do this to give the House an opportunity to decide whether in its opinion the Public Works Committee should be restricted to the question of the extension of the existing factory at Geelong. If the Committee find that by an expenditure of- £60,000 this industry can be established with good promise of success in our own Territory, we arein duty bound to follow their advice. The sooner we commence in earnest to build up this Territory the better for the people of Australia, and we can only do that by establishing industries there.
– Will the Public Works Committee not also consider the claims of Canberra?
– The Committee cannot do that under this motion.
– Why not include other States aswell as New South Wales ?
– Because I believe that every industry of the kind should, as far as possible, be established inour own Territory, so as to improve the value of our own property. The greater that value is, the greater will be the revenue from it, and the better it will be for the Government and the people generally. We cannot increase the value of Canberra without population, and we cannot think for a moment that population will be attracted merely because it is made the Seat of Government. Works must be established there, and our own works shonld be the first.
.- Mr. Speaker, on the amendment-
– If the Minister speaks, the debate will be closed.
– That is not so.
– The rule has been that any ono speaking after an amendment has been moved must be taken as speaking to both the amendment and the motion.
– As a point of order, I submit that such a ruling practically prevents any Minister from announcing a policy on an amendment, until practically the whole question has been discussed, and the debate closed.
– As I have already said, the rule has been that any one speaking after an amendment has been moved must be taken as speaking to both the amendment and the motion. But in the case of a Minister in charge of a Bill, the practice has, I think, been varied.
Mr. HECTOR LAMOND (Illawarra) £3.20]. - I desire to move an amendment that will leave the selection of sites open to the Public Works Committee. I do not agree with the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) that the choice of the Committee should be confined to Geelong or Canberra. For instance, the Commonwealth has territory at Jervis Bay that might be found to be more suitable than Canberra for the establishment of a woollen mill. My view differs entirely from that of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor). Australia is many times larger than Great Britain, and it is an utter absurdity for the Commonwealth to seriously contemplate handing over to Victorian pastoralists the SUpply of the whole of the wool to be manufactured for Australia’s requirements, or, alternatively, bringing the wool from other places to Geelong and then carrying the manufactured article back to those distant portions of the Commonwealth where it is to be used. I maintain that it is impossible for the needs of Australia to be supplied from any one centre, and I am surprised that there should be any dissent from such an elementary proposition. We know to-day that, in regard to the supply of suits of clothes for soldiers, the mill is many months in arrears in regard to serge. Those who have been supplied with tweeds have almost worn out their suits, while others who have applied for serges have not been supplied at all. I am inclined to think that it will be found, as this industry develops, that the wisest policy will be to associate the manufacture of one line of goods with one factory by which means we’ would most likely get more expert handling of the product. That may or may not be so, but I am certain that it will never be an economic proposition to carry wool from North Queensland to Geelong, manufacture it there, and carry it back again over all that extent of territory to North Queensland in the form of tweed or serge for use by the people there. .Surely the sane policy would be to distribute the manufacture, not to one or two, but to .several of the centres throughout the Commonwealth. I want to point out what will be demonstrated again on several other items of expenditure - the method by which centralization around Melbourne is -carried out. We are not asked to investigate a proposition for the establishment of woollen mills at Geelong. They are taken over under some extraordinary power of the Government, and Parliament is consulted after the deed is done. No inquiry is made as to whether Geelong is the best site. Parliament has no voice in that matter. The idea is t’o get a little industry commenced somewhere, and then, as soon as it is established, to throw everything into it, and keep on extending it, thus depriving other centres of fair treatment in connexion with Commonwealth industries. I am opposed to the proposal to limit this expenditure to the extension of existing works, because it may be a much more economic proposition to establish a new factory in some other district, from which the product can be distributed to a large local area more economically than it can be supplied from Geelong. Therefore, I give notice that I shall move a further amendment, substituting for the proposal of the honorable member for Hunter the addition of the words “ or alternatively to establish new woollen mills elsewhere in Australia.”
.- I shall oppose the amendment of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton). New South Wales members are taking a very parochial view of this question. Everlastingly they bring into every proposition some reference to Canberra. We all know what the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Hector Lamond) has pointed out, that the Com- ‘ monwealth Woollen Mills cannot turn out all the tweed required, but we also know that they did splendid work during the war, for no soldier was better equipped in the matter of clothing than was the Australian.
– Much of the clothing worn by the Australian soldiers was manufactured at Marrickville.
– Most of it was made at Geelong. Quite rightly, the Government have determined that every returned soldier is to be supplied with tweed at a cheap price, but the Geelong mills are thousands of yards behind in the supply of the article. I see no reason why the supply of tweed should be confined to returned soldiers. If the Government are legally entitled to sell tweed to soldiers, surely they can also supply soldiers’ widows and the fatherless children of soldiers with cloth at a cheap price.
– But they cannot supply enough for the soldiers.
– I am aware of that, but a debate as to whether mills should be established in Queensland or at Canberra would simply mean delaying the carrying out of extensions which are necessary at Geelong. The honorable member said that no inquiry had been made prior to the establishment of the CommonwealthWoollen Mills.
– Not by the Public Works Committee.
Mr.McGRATH.- There was the fullest inquiry as to where the mill should be located by a Committee that travelled throughout Australia.
– Who were the members of that Committee?
– I do not know; but I suppose they were equally as competent as the members of the Public Works Committee. But because they chose Geelong they have earned the enmity of certain honorable members who represent New South Wales constituencies. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Hay) has spoken about certain coal resources, and about the electrical energy that is likely to be developed in his electorate; but, with the exception of Ballarat, there is no better spot in Australia for the establishment of woollen mills than Geelong. It is the port for the Western District of Victoria, where some of the finest wool in the world is grown, and, with the development of the Morwell electric scheme, will be supplied with cheap power in the course of a few months. Everything necessary for the successful manufacture of woollen cloth is to be found at Geelong, and the mills have already demonstrated that they can carry on the industry with eminent success. But there is need for more cloth. It is a present need, and not one which is two years off. Already the Ministry have delayed long enough in bringing forward their proposals to extend the Geelong mills. Of course, if I looked at the matter from a parochial stand-point, I would be putting forward the claims of Ballarat, where two large mills are successfully demonstrating that they can carry on the industry there. But I realize that the cost of clothing is very high.
– Do you not realize that the New South Wales and Queensland soldiers will be called upon to pay more for their suits if these have to be carted all the way from Geelong?
– It would not add one penny to their cost. I have been wearing the suit I have on me to-day for seven or eight months, and, including the profit of 4s. to the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League, the 3½ yards of tweed from which it is made cost me only£1 9s. 9d. I should like to see the Geelong mills extend their operations not only for the purpose of providing cloth for returned soldiers and soldiers’ widows and little children, but also so that every individual in the community may be supplied with it.
– But does not the honorable member think that Government mills ought to be established in other States?
– First, let us get the Geelong mills going properly. There is a crying need for them,and I ask honorable members not to persist in moving amendments which may only serve the purpose of delaying this proposition. The alterations are urgently required to enable the mill to catch up its arrears of work. We want to honour our obligations to our soldiers. Therefore, let us give the Government an opportunity of carrying out these extensions at Geelong at once. I do not think the machinery which will be required can be obtained in Victoria, or, in fact, anywhere in Australia. I know that a Ballarat mill, which is making extensive alterations, has been obliged to send its manager to Great Britain to buy machinery there. But if the amendment is carried, it will lead to months of delay. The Public Works Committee will feel called upon to examine the claims of every village which may be put forward, and therefore it may take months to complete its inquiry.
-While the inquiry is proceeding, the machinery could be on order.
– But in the case of Geelong it is merely an extension of existing machinery. For a new mill entirely new machinery would be required.
– The finest machinery in the world can be made in Australia.
– I wish the machinery could be obtained in Australia, but we all know that during the war it was impossible to get it here. I have no doubt that those who arc interested in the establishment of woollen mills in Victoria would be very glad indeed if they could get the machinery erected at once. They would be prepared to pay some additional cost if they could get it in Australia, and at once; but, unfortunately, they cannot, and so the agents are going abroad for the purpose of obtaining it. If we agree to the amendment it will be good-bye to the returned soldiers’ chance of getting cheap cloth for a long time to come.
.- The question of enlarging the Geelong Woollen Mills is one that has given me a good deal of thought for a considerable time. I brought it before the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) during the absence of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in England. Certain honorable members have asked vue not to be parochial in the expression of my views on the subject, and I hope I shall not be. I say that if it can be satisfactorily proved that mills of this kind can be established in any other part of Australia, I would not for one moment attempt to block the movement in the interests of the city and electorate which I represent. But I want honorable members to carry their minds back a few years, to 1911, when this question was first discussed, and when the Government sent to England and obtained the services of a competent expert (Mr. Smail) to advise as to the best location for the Commonwealth Woollen Mills.
– They did not send to England; they sent to Scotland.
– I believe they managed to get a Scotchman in England, and I think the Government were extremely foolish to lose his services for the sake of a few hundred pounds additional salary. In his report, dated 19th July, 1912, a copy of which I hold in my hand, Mr. Smail sets out that in the course of his inquiry he visited thirty-three centres, namely, Yass-Canberra, Warrnambool, Port Fairy, Geelong, Bendigo, Echuca, Moama, Kilmore, Launceston, Hobart, Devonport, Burnie, Ballarat, Liverpool, Lithgow, Parramatta, Botany Bay, Ipswich, Brisbane, Wangaratta, Adelaide, Perth, Guildford, Bridgetown, Collie, Mount Gambier, Port Macdonnell, Millicent, Beachport, Melbourne, Horsham, Ararat, Portland. Honorable members will see, therefore, that in his peregrinations he travelled extensively throughout the Commonwealth, and his report has, I think, been of very material advantage to this country. He indicated that in coming to a decision he had to consider the question of water supply, its quality and’ quantity, drainage, climatic conditions, the manufacture of the woollen cloth, comfort of employees, proximity to wool markets, railway and shipping facilities, conditions of the labour market, geographical position as a distributing centre, and local conditions as affecting efficient and economical working. After a very careful inquiry into the claims of every place, he made his decision in favour of Geelong. This is what he had to say -
This town is admirably suited for the manufacture of woollen goods, having a constantly flowing river of comparatively soft water, natural drainage for mill: effluent into the river, a good industrial population, comparatively near the principal wool markets, well placed for railway and shipping, and a good centre for distribution. It is a most desirable place for our purpose, and has the further advantage of having a community who are conversant with wool manufacture, which is a valuable asset. The Harbor Trust offers land free of cost. Warrnambool, I consider, is quite out of the question against Geelong.
I need not elaboratemy comments upon his report; but I do want to say that when the Government take the trouble to send to England for the services of a competent expert, who is supposed to understand the position - and there is no doubt that Mr. Smail does understand his business from A to Z-
– Where is he now?
– He was considered sufficiently capable for the managing directorship of a big New South Wales undertaking.
– At Marrickville.
– Private enterprise recognised his worth. Evidently the Commonwealth Government did not. Having had the advice of an expert with no axe to grind, but whose only desire was to serve the Commonwealth by recommending the most suitable site for the Commonwealth “Woollen Mills, we would have done wrong if we had opposed a recommendation he had made. The Government supported the recommendation of Mr. Smail, and the mills were erected. As the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) has 6aid, they have rendered excellent service to the community, and are still’ con:tinuing to do so. Mr. Smail emphasized the point that it was absolutely essential, if an undertaking of this character was to be a success, that there should be a population to work upon, who, in some measure, were conversant with the industry. It is generally recognised, that Geelong stands alone in that respect, because some of the most up-to date mills in the Commonwealth are established in that centre. That in itself is evidence in support of the wisdom of the Commonwealth establishing their mill there, and, personally, I cannot see any reason why there should be apposition to any extension of a plant which has rendered such good service. I offer no objection to the establishment of other mills, but I desire to remind honorable members of the fact that there is a constant complaint concerning the high cost of clothing. Two yeaTs ago I endeavoured to get the Government to secure the necessary machinery, and I submitted a proposition to the then Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) to enable the mills to be extended so that we could in some small way meet the demand for Australian woollen goods. Those who have seen the mills and their products have admired the work of our Australian operatives. My reason for supporting the Government proposal is that the motion merely provides for a small addition to an established undertaking which has already proved a great success. Returned soldiers in my electorate, and in a measure throughout Victoria, have recognised the claims of Geelong in this regard, and have collected approximately £67,000 from the “diggers” in order to establish another mill on the Barwon adjacent to mills at present in operation there. The soldiers have been well advised, and I fail to see any reason at all why there should, at this juncture, be any opposi tion to the proposal of the Government to extend the plant.
– Because there is no coal in Geelong.
– More than coal is required to successfully carry on an industry of this nature. Good water and suitable climatic conditions are of greater importance than a supply of coal, and these we have in Geelong. I trust there will be no opposition to the proposal, as it is a sound business proposition, and one that should commend itself to every member of the community.
.- Although Geelong is not in my constituency, I intend to support the proposal for referring the extension of the Geelong Woollen Mills to the Public Works Committee. The extension of woollen manufacture in Australia, wherever it may be, either by the erection of entirely new mills or the extension of existing plants, is an urgent necessity at the present time. I do not think any one will charge me with being an advocate of what is known as the nationalization of industries.
– Can the honorable member give a reason for opposing the nationalization of industries ?
– It is not my intention to discuss the theory of the question, because I have always taken the view that cases of this kind should be judged on their merits. As men of affairs, be we merchants, statesmen, or men in any position of responsibility, if we find that any enterprise in which we aire engaged is proving successful, we would probably endeavour to extend its scope. If. on the other hand, we find it proving a failure, our object should be to conserve our resources and cut our losses. Had I been consulted when the proposal for establishing the Commonwealth Woollen Mill at Geelong was first suggested, I probably would have said that I was not in favour of the nationalization of industries, and probably would not have supported it. But it was determined by the wisdom of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia that this mill should be established for Defence purposes, and it has proved itself a great success. I listened with great interest to the detailed information concerning sites and conditions given by the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister), who showed that every precaution was taken by the Commonwealth Government in determining the most suitable locality for ‘ the . mill. The mill has been in operation for some time, and there is no one in Australia, however strongly opposed to the nationalization of industries, who will not admit thai this Geelong mill has been a distinct success. The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) has directed attention to the urgent necessity of increasing the output from the present mill.
– Or, from anywhere else.
– Exactly. The proposal to increase the production of this exceedingly good cloth, produced by an efficient staff and capable management, is not in any way antagonistic to the establishment of woollen mills anywhere else in Australia. The pre- sent plant is the property of the Commonwealth! Government, and has been successfully worked for some years. Lt has proved itself capable of supplying at a cheap rate some of the best and cheapest cloth in the world, and it is urged now, for the benefit of returned soldiers and others, that the operations of the mills should be extended. This is a case which should be decided absolutely on its merits, and quite independent of the claims of hundreds of other centres in different parts of Australia. On the merits of the question, it is desirable that this Commonwealth mill should be extended, in the interests of the whole community.
– Why not have a full inquiry by the Public Works Committee?
– I shall deal with that point later, if time permits.
I desire to refer to another question closely connected with this, and that is the general extension of woollen manufacture throughout Australia. _ There is nothing in this proposal that is in any way antagonistic to the erection of other mills, and this is a most urgent matter to all of us. I could direct attention to the great advantages for woollen manufacture possessed by some most delightful and charming country towns in the electorate of the Grampians, and could mention such places as Clunes, Maryborough, Kyneton, Stawell, and Daylesford. I atn sure, after an inspection of these towns, honorable members would be convinced that they are in every way suitable localities for the erection of woollen mills.
– That is a statesman-like utterance, and the honorable member is taking a “ broad, national view.”
– Yes; and dealing with the matter in a broad, national way, I could safely advocate the claims of certain delightful towns in the Grampians electorate. I am not asking the Government, but am merely inviting the people of Australia, to subscribe moneyto erect woollen f actories, not only in my district, but in other parts of the Commonwealth.
– Including Kooyong
– Yes, if the electors who have honoured my friend and . distinguished themselves by returning the honorable member to this Parliament will subscribe the money. If the electors of Kooyong are prepared to find money for the establishment of a woollen mill’! in their district, no power on earth can’ prevent them from establishing it.
I remind the House that a movement; is being originated by the Bureau of’ Commerce and Industry, on which I have the honour to represent the graziers of Australia–
– That is the Bureau on which the workers have no representation.
– They were invited to send representatives.
– They were offered three out of twenty-one positions.
– The other members of the Bureau would be delighted to sit with representatives of the Trades Hall Council, and would listen with the closest attention to what they had to say on any matter brought forward for discussion. For some time past the Director of the Bureau, Mr. Stirling Taylor, has been at work on a scheme for raising capital for the establishment of woollen mills in every State in Australia. There 13 nothing parochial about this movement. We shall invite all who have savings or capital which they can spaTe to co-operate with us, and we intend to encourage the establishment of woollen mills in any town in which it is particularly desired to (have a factory.
– Is Flinders-lane to be the controlling factor?
– I am grateful to the honorable member for the question. The first appeal for funds will be made without reference to Flinders-lane. No person in the Lane has been appealed to by the Bureau to take port in the (movement. The appeal is being made to wool-growers and to business men generally.
– Why should there be any objection to turning Flinders-lane importers into manufacturers?
– I see no objection to that; but, as a matter of fact, they have not been approached by the Bureau. When the appeal is properly launched, all classes of persons will be asked to contribute. The establishment of a large number of woollen mills in Australia within, say, the next five years is an urgent public need. Where the mills shall be erected will depend on those who subscribe the money for them. If our friends at Jervis Bay, Marrickville, Tamworth, Ballarat, Canberra, or Kooyong desire woollen mills in their particular districts, it is for them to find the capital for them. At Stawell and Daylesford, in the Grampians electorate, they have already gone far in the raising of capital for the erection of local mills, and at Wangaratta, in the Indi electorate, they have raised enough capital for a woollen mill, and have gone a long way towards establishing the business of making woollens. Committees of representative men are now being formed in every State, and the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) will be glad to know that a very strong conwnittee is being formed to make an appeal in Queensland, the State at whose head he formerly was. I hope that within a few days an appeal will be made throughout Australia for capital for the establishment of woollen mills. The difference between the price of wool and the price at which tailors buy cloth for making up into suits of clothes is so appalling that adequate new woollen mills are an urgent need in Australia. They are wanted so that our people may procure cloth more cheaply; that employment may be found for the population; and that there may be a better and more stable demand for our wool.
.- I have no objection to the spending of this money at Geelong; but I point out that Victoria is not the only State in which tweeds are made. At Ipswich, a few miles from Brisbane, there is a factory where the best flannel in the world is made, all of it used within the State of Queensland. The Imperial Government asked for supplies of that flannel for the clothing of its troops.
– Queensland could use ten times as much of it as she gets.
– Yes. Why should not the Government help the company to enlarge that mill, so that it could turn out more stuff? Messrs. Cribb and Foote, who are part owners of the mill, also manufacture tweed which is equal to the best in Australia, and from which a suit of clothes can be made for £5 5s. 6d. They supply cloth direct to the consumer, and I do not see why the same thing could not be done in New South Wales and Victoria. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) said that Geelong was the centre of woollen manufacture because of its climate and its water, but Mr. Smail, in his report, says that that place is the best for the manufacture of woollens because the drainage is so complete. Now, the Geelong mill is a mile from the Barwon River, and the drainage goes into Corio Bay, but Mr. Smail had not that in his mind when he wrote his report. There are other mills at Ballarat, Castlemaine, Warrnambool, and Collingwood, so that Geelong is not the only place in Victoria where it is possible to manufacture woollens. But although there are so many private mills, they cannot supply the demand. So far as climate is concerned, there is not a better district for woollen manufacturing than that near Brisbane; with the exception of Canberra, which I believe is better. At Ipswich, all the conditions are favorable. A supply of coal sufficient for 100 years exists within a few miles. There is plenty of water, and the mill is close to the main trunk line of the State, with a branch right into its yard. Why does not the Government assist private mill-owners to enlarge their factories, and thus increase their output? At Ipswich, wool is obtainable right on the spot, and truck-loads of it are passing the factory almost every day of the year. There is every convenience for manufacturing, and the proprietors of the mill are, I believe, making a good thing out of it. The Government helps Victoria because the industrial population is leaving Melbourne just as rats leave a sinking ship.
– The next census will show that the population of Victoria has fallen away to such an extent that her representation in this House must be reduced by one member, while New South Wales will gain an additional member.
– As a matter of fact Victoria is gaining, not losing, population.
– We see from day to day in the Victorian press, complaints by manufacturers and others- as to the difficulty of obtaining adequate supplies of coal, and while this State has to depend on sea-borne coal her industries must continue to decline,
– -That is Tasmania’s opportunity.
– Tasmania cannot compete with the other States.
– She is building up new industries.
– She will develop only . those industries which are considered to be of no value on the mainland.
– Each State has its own interests.
– But there must be something wrong with Victoria, having regard to the way in which she is losing population. Various industries established in Victoria are opening branches in New South Wales, where there is plenty of labour, and also an ample supply of coal, which can be obtained there at a cost much below that ruling in this State. In the circumstances, New South Wales must advance. I do not hesitate to say that Victoria’s loss of population is due to her inability to obtain the supplies of coal necessary for her industries.
Mr. Smail’s report, to which reference has been made,’ is a very old one.
– It was presented in 1912.
– Since then conditions have altered in all the States, and particularly in Tasmania.
– For the better, so far as Tasmania is concerned.
– Tasmania has the cheapest electrical horse-power in the world to-day.
– I have no doubt that ‘if that power had been available when Mr. Smail was making inquiries as to the best site for the establishment of a Commonwealth woollen mill he would have selected a site in Tasmania.
– Tasmania would have been first on the list instead of second.
– I believe so. Considerations as to the cost of the carriage of fuel to Tasmania told against that State in the selection of a site. The Public Works Committee should be empowered tol report upon suitable sites in the different States. The position has materially changed since Mr. Smail reported on this subject, and in the circumstances we should enlarge the scope of the Committee’s inquiries. I have no wish to destroy Geelong’s chance, but every State should have an equal opportunity. I am anxious that the Federal Parliament should meet at Canberra as soon as possible, because of the parochial instinct inherent in every Victorian. Victorians have got into the habit of thinking that their State is the Commonwealth. At one time New South Wales was inclined to regard herself as Australia, but since the Federal Parliament has been meeting here, Victorians have developed the idea that this is the only State in the Commonwealth. I hope the Minister will accept the amendm’ent.
– I would remind the House that the motion submitted by the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Groom) is not for the creation of a new mill, but relates merely to the extension of the existing mill premises at Geelong in order that pressing requirements may be met. If this were a proposal to establish a new mill, I should be solidly opposed to it. I am’ glad that the Geelong enterprise has been successful, but I do not approve of the extension of Government-owned institutions of this kind. I would specially emphasize the point that it would be ridiculous to build another mill elsewhere instead of concentrating our efforts on the existing factory. Concentration of management will enable this mill at Geelong to more effectively continue and extend its operations.
I do not think this discussion ha* been altogether useless, since there has been displayed a praiseworthy enthusiasm for the extension of a local industry - an industry which, above all others, should be enormously developed in Australia. I hope that we shall have very soon some of the oldest established firms in the West of England setting up branches in Australia, and competing with the mills already here. I was surprised at the almost apologetic reference made by the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) to an extension of this industry on the part of Flinders-lane. I hope that Flinders-lane will build a dozen big mills in Victoria, and that, as the result of such competition with the existing factories, we shall be able to obtain woollens at something like reasonable prices. If Flinders-lane does not launch out in this direction. I hope that it will not hold the woollen industry in the future. I ama confident that there will be an abundance of private enterprise in connexion with this industry, and there could be no better field for private enterprise than that which the manufacture of woollens affords. For the present, however, we have to remember that the question before us relates, not to the building of new mills, but merely to the extension of existing premises at Geelong. As to the suggestion that the Public Works Committee should make inquiries all. over the Commonwealth, I would point out that in the future extension of this industry the most effective mills will be those which are erected, where the essentials to success obtain, lt is for experts to determine where those places are. I am opposed to the extension of mills owned by the Commonwealth, and in favour of more competition on the part of private enterprise.
Mr. LAZZARINI (Werriwa) [4.151.– In supporting the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton), it is unnecessary for me to reiterate the arguments advanced by him, but I think it is essential that Commonwealth mills., and, indeed, all our governmental activities should be within Commonwealth territory. One of the constant cries of those who are opposed to the building of the Federal Capital at Canberra is that it is not a paying proposition. By establishing industries at the Capital we shall help to the realization of the national sentiments of Australia. The building up of industries there will attract population, and so enhance the value of property, and, in that way, the Commonwealth will obtain a good return from the Territory. The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) bias said that, by adopting this amendment, we shall, to some extent, curtail the facilities of the Commonwealth Woollen Mills for turning out cloth for returned soldiers and others. I do not think that anything of the kind would result from the carrying of the amendment. The Public Works Committee could make an interim report on the proposed additions to the Geelong mills, and at the same time prosecute its inquiries with the object of discovering the most suitable place in the Federal Territory for the erection of such mills.
I do not very often disagree with my leader (Mr. Tudor), but I differ from him on the question of centralization. If this huge continent is to have, as we hope it will have in the not far distant future, a population sufficient to enable us to maintain our national ideals in regard to a White Australia and other matters, I undoubtedly say that we must adopt a policy of decentralization. That is the crying need of Australia. There is a general clamour against centralization, and we must so develop our industries as to spread our population over a wider area .than at present. Only by developing the secondary industries alongside the primary ones, so that both classes of industry may work in unison, can we hope to build up a great nation. Reference has been made to the capital that will be invested in woollen mills, and the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) spoke of a great scheme for developing the industry by private capital on a scale in comparison with which the Commonwealth Mills would be a very minor concern. The more the Commonwealth can develop woollen mills of its own, the better it will be for all concerned. God help Australia if it is to be at the mercy of Flinderslane or York-street, Sydney! Today the people in Flinders-lane and Yorkstreet have the whole of the factories of Victoria and New South Wales in the palms of their hands.
– Did not the honorable member hear me say that the Bureau had not solicited support from any one in Flinders-lane?
– I did; but, at the present time, Flinders-lane and Yorkstreet are able to dictate terms to the factories, and that is one reason why the manufacture of softgoods is backward. The factories can produce only what the wholesale firms will take; and if they attempt to distribute any of their surplus through other channels than the wholesale houses pressure is brought tobear upon them. Therefore, I repeat that the more the Commonwealth can extend the manufacture of woollens and other goods, the better for the consumer. I support the amendment, and I hope that the Government will not be satisfied with merely spending a few thousand pounds in enlarging the mill at Geelong, but will extend its activities throughout the Commonwealth.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Robert Cook) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 26th October (vide page 5949), on motion by Mr. Greene -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- I think the Minister has done well in affording honorable members an opportunity, by means of this Bill, of discussing the vexed question of exchange, not merely as to the valuation of imports for duty purposes, but particularly as to whether the present system has been unfairly penalizing certain countries with which we are trading. As I understand the Bill, apart from the excellent speech delivered by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) - which, as one of the newspapers said, might have been a University lecture - it proposes that when the franc or lira falls 10 per cent. below the mint par rate of exchange, the Minister may refer to the Board of Trade the question of exchange in relation to the computation of duty values. The honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) announced by interjection that he intends to move an amendment to provide for a reference to the Board when the bank rate of exchange for the currency of any country rises above the mint par rate, in order to meet the circumstances of America and Japan. The only objection I have to the Minister’s scheme is in regard to the composition of the Board. This body was constituted originally for the purpose of dealing with certain war matters; and it has now been given a status entirely different from what was first intended.
I do not think that the Board is as representative of all sections of the community as it should be. I say nothing against the members of it, with most of whom I am personally acquainted. The Board is composed of Senator Russell, Mr. Elder (who is connected with meat export), Mr. Herbert Brookes (a manufacturer), Mr. Reading (who is associated with one of the big firms in this city), Mr. Stirling Taylor, Mr. Percy Whitton, the Acting Comptroller of Trade and Custom’s, and Mr. McCrae. The lastnamed gentleman I do not know.
– Half the members of the Board are Ministers and departmental heads, while the Comptroller-General of Customs is very often present at the meetings in an advisory capacity.
– Mr. Whitton is Acting Comptroller-General of Customs. Mr. Mills, the permanent ComptrollerGeneral, has been acting on the Inter-State Commission for a number of years, and he is now a member of the Taxation Commission. Until he is permanently appointed to the Inter-State Commission or some other body, he remains ComptrollerGeneral, and the work of the Department is carried on by the AssistantComptroller, Mr. Whitton, who. for all practical purposes, is ComptrollerGeneral of Customs at the present time. In his absence I suppose Major Oakley acts for him. The Board comprises two Ministers, two departmental heads, and four representatives of the commercial community; but there is not one representative of the consumers or workers. This Bill does not provide for the constitution of the Board ; but it provides that that body shall fu nction in a certain way.
– Is not this the first time that any statutory authority for the appointment of the Board has been sought ?
– The members of the Board other than the officials act in an honorary capacity..
-The Board is not appointed under the Customs Act, and this is the first attempt to get parliamentary authority for its existence.
– I believe this is the first timethat the Board has been mentioned in legislation. I understand the members of the Board receive no fee for the work they do. I do not approve of that system. Members of the Taxation Commission are paid for their services, and if the Board of Trade is doing work in the interests of the Commonwealth its members should be adequately remunerated. The- point I am making, however, is that the workers should have representation on that Board. So long as I remain a member of this House, regardless of which side I may be sitting, on, I shall be opposed to the constitution of a Board in such a way that it is representative of only one interest. The decisions of the Board of Trade in relation to exchange and other matters will be farreaching in their effect upon tho commuliniity
– It seems almost improper for a manufacturer to be a member of the Board.
– I do not say that. I think the manufacturer who is on the Board is a very good man.
– Hear, hear!
– What the honorable member says of the manufacturer I say of the importer, although not in a personal sense. The other sections of the community which I have the honour to represent should be considered when Government Boards -are appointed. I think the proviso to proposed section 157a will safeguard the .manufacturing interests. I know that some honorable members have said that the importers were endeavouring to have this alteration made in the system of calculating exchange, and have argued that if a man bought a hundred pounds’ worth of- goods .from France at the present bank rate of exchange, namely, 52. S5 francs to the fi, the value of those goods would be reconverted at the mint par value of 25 francs to the fi, with the result that duty would be paid upon £200 or more. Quite recently, I instanced a case of that sort. I pointed out that there were manufacturers in this country who were suffering on account of -these adverse rates of exchange. Manufacturers in Great Britain were importing silk or other raw materials for the manufacture of neckties, and were then sending out the manufactured articles to Australia. As more than 25 per cent, of the value of these articles had been made in’ Great Britain, they were admitted into the Commonwealth at the British preference rate. In other words, these ties were imported into this coun try J not upon the extraordinary basis which has been adopted of their value for exchange purposes, but upon their value from the stand-point of the pound sterling. The result was that a great many tie factories in Australia were forced to close their doors. I regard the Bill as a step in the right direction.
– With plenty of restrictions.
– I approve of the proviso contained in clause 4, which declares that the Board shall not make a recommendation which, if adopted, would, in its opinion, be prejudicial to the manufacture of goods in Australia, or to the sale in Australia of those goods. We have a right to look after the industries of the Commonwealth, and to see that they are not injured. I think, however, that a measure should be submitted to this Parliament for the purpose of constituting the Board of Trade upon a definite basis. Already we have in existence an Interestate Commission, the establishment of which was mandatory under our Constitution. The Board of Trade, however, has sprung into existence as the result of war conditions, and to-day we are asked under this Bill to vest in it some very large powers. I believe that the functions which we are empowering the Board to discharge will be satisfactorily discharged, but probably they would have been equally well performed by the InterState Commission.
– This is merely a side matter with which the Board of Trade is to be called upon to deal.
– I a’dmit that. In conclusion, I would urge upon the Minister the advisableness of insuring that all sections of the community are represented, not merely upon this Board, but upon any other Board or Commission which may be called into existence.
.- For some time past I have held fairly strong views upon the subject of the basis upon which the computation of the value for duty of goods imported into this country should be made, and I think it is only just that effect should be given to the alteration which it is now proposed to make in the existing system. Upon previous occasions I have stressed the injustice under which France, Belgium, and other countries were labouring in consequence of the action taken by our Customs Department. In introducing this Bill yesterday, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) made one of the most interesting and useful speeches that I have ever heard delivered in this Chamber. After listening attentively to his remarks, I was at length comforted when I discovered that he now takes exactly the same view of this matter as I do. He stated that, in his opinion, the cost of goods in certain countries, even in their own currency, had risen to a grotesque extent. That is the point which I have always borne in mind, and it is that position which will be remedied under this Bill. The measure contains certain safeguards, and does not quite follow the lines which have been laid down by other countries in this connexion. But I am quite prepared to accept it as it stands. Certainly, I shall press for no alteration in it. I quite recognise the position taken up by the Minister when he embodied in the measure certain provisions for the prevention of dumping, and for the maintenance of the Tariff preference which we have granted to goods from Great Britain. The Minister said that he would be unfaithful to the principles in which he believed, and the Government would be unfaithful to the promises it had made, if he were to bring down a Bill which would enable foreign manufacturers to take advantage of the exchange position to dump goods into Australia. Certainly the honorable gentleman cannot be accused of betraying any of his principles in this Bill. The safeguards which are embodied in it are those which one would expect from a Minister who is such a pronounced Protectionist. It is because of these safeguards, and not because of the proposed restrictions upon the basis of calculating the rate of exchange, that the Minister gave to us yesterday a very interesting and informative speech. The position which he set out to establish - and anybody who will take the trouble to read his speech must admit that he made out a fair case - was that if the proposed measure of protection were granted, there would be a possibility that, at some future time, advantage might be taken of the exchange rates to enable goods to be dumped into Australia to the detriment alike of Australian and British manufacturers. In order to establish that fact he dealt very fully with the entire question, of foreign exchange. Anybody who chooses to read what he said in this connexion will be well repaid for his trouble, because one would require to wade through whole tomes of information before he could visualize the position as clearly as it was expressed by the Minister yesterday. With the honorable gentleman’s statement I am almost in entire agreement. He emphasized the fact that in dealing with foreign exchanges in relation to their effect upon the cost of goods in the country of origin, there were four factors which affected the position. These were the depreciation in the currency of that country, heavy importations, cessation of gold settlements, and loss of credit and confidence. The Minister stated that only the first two factors operate directly upon the prices of commodities in their country of origin. Obviously, the depreciation of the currency in any country will have the greatest effect in increasing the cost of production in that country, and there is no doubt that heavy importation will have a corresponding effect. At the same time, I do not altogether agree with the general proposition which he put forward, viz., that the rate of exchange between two countries does not materially affect the cost of production in those countries, if it has not been brought about by the first two factors already mentioned, particularly under present-day conditions. Whilst the honorable gentleman quoted an authority whose statement cannot be questioned - I refer- to Lord Goschen - I would remind him that what that authority wrote was written many years prior to the recent war, and at a time when- certain financial ideas were held - ideas which have since been modified to a very considerable extent.
– But he wrote what I quoted immediately after the upheaval in America, and in the light of American experience.
– The Minister does not refer to the 1907 upheaval?
– No. I am speaking of the upheaval in 1861. Lord Goschen wrote that statement at a time when the American exchanges had gone back something like 400 per cent.
– I think that, as the result of the recent war, all our ideas have been substantially varied. While I do not dispute the theory which underlies the general statement made by the Minister, I do not think that the danger of dumping, in the circumstances described by him, are quite as serious as he suggested. We have to remember that the present position of many countries is a very extraordinary one. Obviously, in all these countries, depreciation is the greatest factor in the whole equation. We must recollect that heavy importation by them obtains to-day, and that it is likely to continue. This question was discussed by the Minister from the standpoint of heavy imports by a debtor nation. I propose, however, to view it rather from the point of view of the type of goods imported. The two outstanding points are those of machinery and raw material, and these are going to operate adversely for a considerable time. While that continues, I cannot think that such a country is going to be placed in a very easy position to produce goods, either at such a price, or in such quantities that we need have any apprehension that the surplus will be disposed of by way of dumping in Australia. As to the cessation of the transfers of gold, which is the position to-day, I think we are all pretty certain that those nations with a depreciated exchange will continue to operate in that way. While that is not such a material factor, it is a very serious one. Wherever gold exports cease altogether, it ever tends to a higher rate of interest within the boundaries of the country concerned. The capital requirements for undertakings are so enormous that they will put a very heavy burden on the whole of their manufactures to carry the rate of interest which is certain to exist for many years to come.
The Minister dealt also with the basis of credit and confidence. This also is going to affect the position very much to-day, for the simple reason that the debtor countries are in such a hopeless position with regard to the credit which they need for many purposes, both internal and external, that they will have a very great difficulty in manufacturing to the full extent they would manufacture were their credit good, and the circumstances more equal. When the output is limited in that way, the whole of the overhead charges will remain high.
For all those reasons, I do not think that the Minister need be under any great apprehension with regard to heavy dumping to our own disadvantage, or to the disadvantage of the preferencewe give to Britain. In the event of such a position arising, however, he has provided safeguards. I am, I think, as good a Protectionist as any in the House, but I do not think we need have the slightest apprehension in accepting this measure with every confidence that any protection we have to-day is going to be maintained, notwithstanding the alteration in the basis of collecting Customs exchange. With regard to the safeguards we are providing - which, as I say, I am quite prepared to accept, though I do not take the same view of the necessity for them that the Minister does - other countries which have taken steps in the same direction, have not felt the same apprehension that Australia has, and have not taken the same precautions to protect themselves. It may be that the Minister sees farther than others; but I merely point out the fact as showing that, apparently, there is not such a great danger as we are led to believe by the honorable gentleman. In America, nothing of the sort has been done. There a committee of commercial lawyers went into the position fully and completely, and that country is simply taking the commercial basis of exchange, as against the mint par rate, and is not providing any such safeguards. New Zealand is in the same position. Consequently, there is some basis for the suggestion that, possibly, we really need not have these provisions; although for my own part, I shall not quarrel with them. I have obtained substantially what I think we ought to have got long ago, and with that I shall be content.
There was one point the Minister dealt with to which I think I should refer. I agree with him that a depreciation such as has taken place in Italy during the last few months is to be attributed to want of confidence more than anything else,, and that it is not going to be reflected in the price of goods at the moment; goods under manufacture now will not be affected; but I suggest that the whole general manufacturing position in the future is going to be affected if matters continue on the present basis. Whatever the causes may be that bring the commercial rates of exchange down, Italy is going .to be forced to buy on an adverse basis from every other nation, and. sell on a basis equally adverse. That is undoubtedly going to affect the position very seriously, in the actual cost of production, with which we are particularly concerned.
The Minister told us that certain people contend that an appreciated exchange renders trading easier than a depreciated exchange. The Minister said that is not so ; I think that everybody will agree with his view. If the view has been put forward that an appreciated exchange makes it easier to trade, it must have been by somebody with a small conception of the position. It is clear that if a country has an exchange in its favour; it finds it extremely difficult to ship the goods it desires to export to other countries.
– It is so much discount against the country. “
– It works that way the whole time; I would certainly like to render assistance to the Minister in trying to demonstrate that fact. The assistance or detriment given by appreciated or depreciated exchanges, regulates the relations between the countries concerned. We cannot introduce an artificial measure to regulate the question of appreciated or depreciated exchange, such as the arbitrary and artificial basis of calculation taken by the Customs authorities in the past. But now that we have got rid of that artificial basis, it seems to me that the natural laws should apply to the position, and trade allowed to flow into its natural channels.
The Minister yesterday indicated - though not, perhaps, in the words I now use - the contention I have been fighting for for some time, namely, that to-day the goods of all countries, no matter what their currency may be, are all measured by the central currencies when it is a question of purchase for any central State. When we deal with Great Britain, for example, with her trade relations with America on the one hand, and France on tlie other, the whole thing boils down to what can be bought for £100 sterling ; and the tendency is for trade to go to the country that can give the greatest amount of goods of similar character for £100. The Minister yesterday suggested that very possibly the French manufacturer would bring his home-consumption price up to the point that would give him the same return as America got for the same amount of goods. I think that is extremely probable, but that is a natural law that will adjust exchanges for themselves in the future. If we try to interfere it is almost impossible to see when the basis of exchanges is going to come right, and when we shall get back to a normal gold basis with gold flowing freely between countries. Therefore, it seems to me that there is a great deal in the suggestion made- yesterday that if this proposal is to apply to depreciated exchange, why not to appreciated, exchange? So long as the position is that for a certain number of pounds we are going to get a certain supply of goods, but that when the goods - come to Australia that £100 worth of goods must pay two different rates of exchange, we are doing something to stop the natural flow of trade, which is eventually going to regularize exchange.
The Minister suggested that if the word “ appreciated,” as well as the word depreciated,” were put in, it would make it impossible for America to trade with Australia; but I do not think that for a moment. The position to-day is that America, with a very appreciated exchange in her favour, is under a handicap; but, in the first place, that handicap flows from the natural results of her trade with the world” for the last few years, by means of which she has been able to consolidate her position. To-day she is paying a certain penalty for that; but it does not seem to me any part of Australia’s job to do anything to interfere with the natural laws of exchange to assist any country, be it Japan or America. That is the position in the world to-day; and it seems to me that it ought to be faced. There is’ the further point that America is not under the same penalty as othercountries that at first sight might appear, for the simple reason that she has so consolidated her position that she can create machinery whereby she may trade, and, to a great extent, get over the exchange against her. That is by creating long-dated credits to countries she desires to trade with.
– I think she is doing that, to a certain extent.
– Is she? That is the very point. I do not take Australia as- one of the great trading countries that need to be helped by America, but the present position in regard to buying goods in America for Australia on terms of cash against documents in Australia appears to me to be significant of her general attitude. The Americans are now trying to induce Australian merchants to establish credits in America, or in Great Britain, against bills drawn on that basis, so that the American banks can take the bills and deal with them as soon as they come into their hands. The reason for that is that most people are rather alive to the fact, to their sorrow, that it is a little difficult to-day to get Australian money in London. The ordinary procedure, in regard to American bills, where it was a case of cash against documents in Australia, was not for America to send the documents back to Australia, and wait to collect here, and remit to America; the American bank probably sold the bills m New York, probably to the agents of an Australian bank in London. ‘ Today the Australian banks are not in a financial position to buy bills indiscriminately.
– -Do you mean the Com-, mon wealth Bank?
– I mean any trading bank, including the Commonwealth Bank. T think that the Commonwealth Bank has been one of the big buyers of such bills; but that matter seems very mysterious, and I shall leave it aside. The position is that these American banks cannot take an Australian bill .and get money for it to-morrow, as has been the habit in the past; and for that reason they are not at all enthusiastic about assisting the American trader to do w’hat was the original intention of the bargain entered into. That intention was to pay for the goods in Australia against documents when the goods came to hand. The banks now tell American traders that they must arrange with their Australian customers, against whom they have drawn bills, to establish credits in America or London, so that the bills will bc taken up by their particular banker. To me, personally, that does not seem as though America was very enthusiastically desirous of giv ing the assistance which I think she could give to-day. America is practically the strongest financial nation in the world to-day. I use the word “ practically” because, while I still regard Britain as pre-eminent financially, America Ls to-day the strong financial nation of the world. If the exchanges are against America, she should open these credits and assist in that way, and thus do more than any other country could do to regularize exchanges. If America is going to sit back and take the attitude that she is not going to help - and we have to remember that in the past it has always been Britain that has put through these transactions and helped the whole world in financial matters - she will take her opportunity. T see no reason why in Australia we should do anything to affect the natural position that has come about in favour of any country, be it America, Japan, or any other country. While I have been endeavouring to get this measure introduced I have never contended that preferential treatment should be given’ to any country, Belgium or France in” particular, but have merely asked that these countries should get equitable and even consideration with other nations of the world in paying Customs duties in Australia.
The only other point I wish to raise is in regard to the Bill itself. As I have already said that I am prepared to accept the measure, I do not propose to take any objection to it owing to the fact that: some uncertainty will inevitably -bo created by reason of the fact that the question of the basis of exchange upon which Customs duties are to be calculated is to be determined by a Board, and may be subject to revision. It is bound to create a certain amount of apprehension in the mind of the merchant, who may have goods on order or on the water purchased, as he imagines, with the basis of exchange at a certain rate, that a decision may be given altering that basis. At the same time, the Minister yesterday made out a good enough case from his point of view, with which, as I have said. I do not entirely agree, that, because of the danger of dumping, he is entitled to include these provisions in the Bill, and, personally, I am prepared to accept them. However, I would like to learn from the
Minister whether the Board, in dealing with the .position of any country under the proposed new section 157a, will look at it in the broad sense of its general trading ‘ position to-day; whether, if it determines that, broadly, that country is entitled to the consideration suggested in the Bill, such consideration will be given; and whether, even if it can be demonstrated that such consideration ought not to be given in any one particular line, it will be within the power of the Board to deal with it in such a way that the position of that one line will not prejudice the whole position.
– That is so.
– That’ is the only undertaking I want from the Minister - that the position will be dealt with broadly, and that individual lines can be dealt with by a special reference, where cases of dumping or anything of the sort can be established. I am prepared to accept the Bill as it stands, on the understanding that the amendment suggested by the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) with regard to appreciation and depreciation will be made.
– I am prepared to accept the “ above and below “ amendment.
– Hear, hear!
– If, as is the case, for the purpose of the special precautions set out in the proposed new section 157a, some authority has to be created to consider the position of any country, and come to a determination, I think it is better that a Board of such a character as is proposed in the Bill should have control of the matter rather than that it should be left to the Minister to determine these points.
In conclusion, I wish to express my thanks to the Minister (Mr. Greene) for the way in which he introduced the Bill. His speech was certainly the most informative I have heard in this House since I have been here.
– I join with the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) in offering my congratulations to the Minister (Mr. Greene) upon the exhaustive and informative speech in which he introduced this Bill. It certainly showed that he has a full grasp of the importance of this subject, which he handled in a most interesting way. I regret that I did not hear the whole of the speech of the honorable member for Flinders, but I was very pleased to hear his concluding remarks, particularly his reference to the amendment which I suggested yesterday, and which the Minister has now intimated he is prepared to accept.
I do not propose to enter upon any theoretical discussion on the very interesting subject of exchange so ably dealt with by the Minister.’ I content myself with recalling certain outstanding features whii.li are of immediate importance in considering this measure. In the first place we cannot ignore the fact that today the sovereign is of greater value in countries where there is a depreciation of currency than it is in countries where there is an appreciation of currency. That is to say, in the former countries, such as France, Belgium, and Italy, the sovereign to-day can purchase a greater quantity of goods than it can in the latter countries, such as America and Japan.
I next recall the fact that the prices of commodities are fixed by the cost of production in the country of manufacture, plus, of course, the element of supply and demand, and that the rate of exchange has practically no effect upon them. That is to say, if we buy goods f.o.b. at any French port, we buy them at the cost of producing them in France, or, if we buy goods at any Italian port, we buy them at the cost of producing them in Italy. The rate of exchange simply represents the selling price of the currency of any country, and is in no way a portion of the price of goods.
But there is a further condition which the Minister has to realize. That is, that a country which has a depreciated currency lends itself to dumping. It was the possibility of dumping the Minister had to face so that our industries might not suffer, nor the fundamental principles of our Tariff, which afford protection to our industries, and preferential treatment to the British manufacturer. This danger of dumping is so real and serious that the Minister was obliged to deal with it. If my memory serves me rightly, in 1917 the Customs Department accepted the current rates of exchange rather than the mint par rate, but the result was the creation of th» gravest inconsistencies. Substantial difficulties occurred as regards goods coming from countries where there was a depreciated exchange, and these coming from other countries, the effect of which was realized about 1917, and the Department was driven to accept only the mint par value. This, by some, might be regarded- as a scientific means of dealing with the situation, but it was not a completely satisfactory method of doing so, because it also’ created som« extraordinary anomalies. For instance, it had the effect, in the case .of countries such as Prance, Italy, and Belgium, of running a 50 per cent, duty up to something like 120 or 130 per cent., and, in other directions, it created anomalies, although, perhaps, they were not so grave or serious as those which were created by the system previously adopted. Of course, in a matter of this kind we were too greatly disturbed by post-war conditions to fully realize the influences that were at work in regard to the operation of our Tariff against our Allies - France, Italy, and Belgium - but on the face of it, by reason of the operation of our Tariff and its apparent harshness, it did appear that we were determined to put an end to our trade with those countries, and to give preferential treatment to America and Japan because of their appreciated currency. No doubt, it was a source of great soreness to the merchants of Belgium, France, and Italy, but it was also of the greatest importance to our own merchants, and in these circumstances also, in view of the anomalies to which I have referred, I welcome this Bill as a real genuine effort on the part of the Government to overcome the complicated conditions that have recently been brought about. The measure lays down the fundamental principles that our Protective policy must not be prejudiced, nor our preferential treatment of British goods, by the operation of exchange. Of course, in such a complicated question it is quite impossible to lay down rigid or hard lines with the intention of dealing with any classes of goods that come under the notice of the Customs Department, and, therefore, it is provided that a Board shall exercise a discretion in the matter, always having regard to the fundamental restrictions laid down in the Bill, to the effect -which I have just mentioned. Fortunately, we have a very able and experienced Board which is capable of dealing with the mat-
Sir Robert Best. ter. It is instructed to provide the greatest facilities for trading with these other nations so long as a rigid adherence to- our Protective policy is maintained, and our preferential treatment of Britain does not suffer. The Bill provides ‘that when the bank rate of exchange of any country is more than 10 per cent, below the mint par rate of exchange, the Minister can refer to the Board the whole question of the basis upon which duty shall be collected upon goods imported into Australia from that . country. I pointed out that it would be a grave mistake to limit the proposal simply to conditions under which the bank rate of exchange would be more than 10 per cent, below the mint par rate, and that the Bill should contemplate the possibility of an enabling power being given to the Board to deal with all cases above or below the mint par rate of exchange. This would mean that if the fundamental principles of Protection and preferential trade were affected by any operations from America or Japan it would be competent for the Board of Trade to deal, through the exercise of this suggested power, with the situation in the same manner as it would deal with operations from a country suffering a depreciated currency. I have no intention of injuring trade operations with America or Japan; but an enabling power should be included in the Bill to provide against contingencies, and particularly so in view of the terms of the American Webb Act. It might not result in any serious alteration of what is taking place at the present time. This appears to be the position. The value of the bank-note in America to-day is about 3.4.4 dollars, as against 4.86 in pre-war days, so that in the United States you have to pay £100 for £73 worth of goods. This is, undoubtedly, a handicap upon the American trader, and, in these circumstances, there is not the same risk of dumping; but we have to bear in mind that America has a valuable trade with Australia, and it is possible that American merchants are prepared to suffer heavy losses for the time being in order to maintain ‘ their trade, and for like purposes. I am. moreover, inclined to think that while appreciated rates of exchange may obtain in America, there may be a heavy slump in the price of goods and
– Let the representation be impartial.
– In the event of any complaints, it will be competent for the Board to call evidence and inform its mind in any way it may think desirable in the circumstances.
– I realize that. I mention the matter because “ preferential trade, so far as Great Britain is concerned, is specifically dealt with in the Bill, and, therefore, I think it would be reasonable if British merchants had representation on the Board, especially as the Chambers of Commerce and Manufactures, as well as certain other business interests, are so represented. However, this is not a point which I desire to press, because I realize’ it will be quite competent, having regard to the instructions contained in the Bill, for the Board of Trade to call any evidence it might think necessary to deal with the position. T heartily support the Bill as a genuine effort to solve a very difficult problem.
.- I recall when this question was brought before the House about four months ago by my honorable and gallant friend, the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce), I very strongly opposed the manner in which the Customs Department was then levying duty upon imports from certain countries, especially France, Belgium, and Italy, our Allies in the late war, and whose currency has been sadly depreciated. I congratulate “the Minister for Customs (Mr. Greene) upon the introduction of this measure, which in my judgment is an honest attempt, so far as seems possible,’ to do justice to all, having due regard to the protection of our own manufacturers, to British manufacturers, and to the manufacturers and exporters of the countries referred to. I should also like to join with the honorable member for Flinders and the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) in congratulating the Minister on the exceedingly masterly way in which he marshalled his facts, and may I say, upon the statesman-like speech which he delivered. I followed him very closely, and I feel satisfied that the Bill will commend itself to practically every honorable member and to the commercial community as a satisfactory solution of a difficult subject. When this question was before the House on a former occasion I emphasized that the only fair and just principle upon which Customs duties should be levied was the cost of the goods to the Australian importer ; that is to say, if for £100 of Australian’ money an importer is able by means of the fortunate or unfortunate condition of the exchanges in certain countries to buy a certain quantity of goods, the amount upon which duty should be levied should be the cost of the goods landed in Australia calculated in Australian money. The Customs authorities, however, by their method of calculating the duty were practically doubling the duty imposed by Parliament.
– It should be levied on the cost.
– Yes, and that cost, of course, would be £100.
– That is the whole point.
– Of course it is.
– But that could never be conceded.
– The position which is now universally accepted is that the duty on goods which cost the Australian importer £100, irrespective of the rate of exchange, should be on the £100, subject to the safeguards provided in the Bill. The Bill proposes that where there is a depreciation of more than 10 per cent, in the exchange, the question shall be referred to the Board of Trade to decide whether the amount of duty to be levied shall be calculated upon the bank rate of exchange.
– Subject to two conditions.
– Yes. Firstly, that preference shall be given to British manufacturers, and secondly that dumping shall be guarded against. I do not know of any one favouring the method based upon the commercial rate of exchange who has the slightest desire to do anything to prejudice preference to British manufacturers, or to favour dumping in any possible way. I believe the Government have acted wisely in introducing this measure, embodying the provisions which guard against dumping into Australia being allowed, and British preference being interfered with. As regards the question of dumping, I am in sympathy with the views expressed by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) ; and I do not think there is any probability of what is known as dumping being attempted by countries suffering from au adverse rate of exchange or a depreciated currency.
– By the time they could commence dumping seriously the exchange would be going back towards normal.
– Exactly . The dumping we have heard of in the past has generally been practised by rich countries and powerful manufacturers or combinations of manufacturers. It has not been attempted to any appreciable extent by countries suffering from an adverse rate of exchange arising from a depreciated currency. I agree with the Minister, that the Bill will enable the Board of Trade to most effectively protect the manufacturers in Australia from any attempt at what is known as dumping goods, which,’ I understand, is deliberately selling goods to consumers in Australia at a lower rate than to other countries in order to injure or to antagonize Australian manufacturers.
I desire now to draw attention to another important aspect of this exchange question, which in reality, at the present time, is largely a question of depreciated paper currencies. These countries suffering from an adverse rate of exchange have been severely commented upon by many critics. It has been implied that blame should be attached to such countries, and it does not seem to be understood that the adverse rate of exchange has arisen in consequence of the financial misfortunes of those countries which were not as rich relatively, perhaps, as other countries, and which perhaps, were in a more exhausted financial condition in consequence of the war. This resulted in their currency becoming more depreciated than that of other countries. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) gave the figures in relation to the exchanges of France, Italy, and Belgium as compared with the rate’ of exchange which the “United States of America enjoy. I am not sure whether he explained to the House that, in reality, the adverse rate of exchange is measured by the depreciation of their paper currency.
– He explained rather more than that.
– Of course, there were other explanations, but the main cause of what is termed ian adverse exchange is the depreciation of the currency of a particular country as compared with other countries. What I desire to point out to the House is that the depreciation in currency is not confined to France, Italy, and Belgium, and other countries. The adverse rate of exchange of the United Kingdom as compared with the United States of America is due to the fact that the currency of the United Kingdom is at present practically an entirely paper currency, and is not based upon the value of gold. The values of the paper moneys of France, Italy, and Belgium have now broken away from their former relation to the gold basis; but the United States of America is on a gold basis at present. The value of the paper dollar in America is practically the same in relation to gold as it wa3 before the war, and the paper currency of the United States of America, owing to her much more favorable financial position, has not depreciated at all, or hardly at all. The currency of the United Kingdom is, however, now on a paper basis, and the value of the paper has become, to a certain extent, depreciated, although not to the same extent as that of France, Italy, and Belgium. This is perfectly clear when we consider the British rate of exchange .with America and the market price of gold.
When the holder of a £l-note could always obtain a sovereign for it, they were both of equal value, and standard gold could not rise materially above its normal price, namely, £3 17s. 10£d per oz. But when the bank-notes in England and our Commonwealth notes here ceased to be payable on demand, from that moment our £1 sterling became, not a sovereign, but a £l-note. Notes depreciated in value, and more notes had to be given for an ounce of gold. When notes and gold were at par with one another, the owner of notes could always buy gold at practically £3 17s. 10 jd. But because notes have depreciated in relation to gold, the price of gold has advanced beyond that, and the latest quotation for fine gold, as published in this morning’s press, is £5 18s. 3d. per ounce - a few days ago it was £6. The difference between fine gold and standard gold is one-twelfth, and on that basis standard gold to-day is worth £5 Ss. 4$d. per oz. It must be understood that the money that is paid in London for that gold is British paper money. The standard value of gold is £3 17s. 10£d. per oz., and the difference between the present market price of gold and its former value of £3 17s. 10 1/2d. measures the present depreciation of British currency. The actual value of the British note, based on the latest quotations for gold, is about 14s. 4£d. We should, therefore, be perfectly fair and considerate to our Allies in the matter of depreciated currency. The United States of America paper money has not depreciated at all, so that when paper money of Great Britain is exchanged for currency of the United States of America it is exchanging paper money for gold. If we were in London to-day, and had to remit 10,000 dollars to some one in the United States of America, we would have to give a larger number of British notes than formerly. We would have to pay more English money to get an equivalent in dollars, because we would be selling notes worth only 14s. 4jd. to purchase the equivalent of gold coin.
I have contended strongly in favour of the import duty being levied on the actual cost of the goods to the importer, regardless of the fluctuations in the rate of exchange. At the same time, I think, the Government are perfectly right in safeguarding British manufacturers, and also in making every possible provision against dumping. I support the Bill.
.- I congratulate the Government on having introduced this measure, although, undoubtedly, it is somewhat belated. We must recognise the’ enormous decline in the value of money in France, Italy, and Belgium, the loss that is occurring to the Customs Department from the method adopted, and the advantage being given to the United States of America and Japan. I think the position justified the Government in bringing this legislation forward much earlier, because it seems preposterous, in view of the cordial reception given to the French Commission and the protestations then made of our keen regard for the country with which we were allied during the great war, that we should hesitate so long in moving in this direction. It has really meant that, if £100 worth of goods were purchased in Italy, that duty would have to be paid on £300 worth at this end. This Bill will go a long way towards overcoming that difficulty. A good deal has been said and fears have been expressed regarding dumping in Australia; but I cannot see the slightest justification for anything of the kind, at least for many years to come. The Government are justified in providing against dumping, but the fear of anything of the kind arising in connexion with any country outside of America - and ‘America, under the old system, was gaining everything- is unjustified.
– One-third of our imports are coming from America.
– I have returns showing the exports from Great Britain in 1913 and 1919. In 1913, 13,000,000 yards of cotton-piece goods were exported to Denmark, and, in 1919, 118,000,000 yards, or eight times as much. The quantity sent to Belgium rose from 31,000,000 yards in 1913 to 120,000,000 yards in 1919, and’ there was a similar increase in the supply to Sweden and Norway. To Australia, however, Great Britain sent, in 1913, 187,000,000 yards, and, in 1919, only 75,000,000 yards. As for woollen goods, Great Britain exported to Sweden 237,000 yards in 1913, and nearly 7.000,000 yards in 1919; to Norway, 174,000 yards in 1913, and about 7,750,000 yards in 1919; to Denmark, 600,000 yards in 1913, ‘ and over 14,000,000 yards in 1919; while to Australia there came 9,500,000 yards in 1913, and only 3,100,000 yards in 1919. The business in worsted piece goods was much on the same lines, Australia receiving 6,000,000 yards in 1913, and only 1,400,000 yards in 1919. As for iron and steel, galvanized iron, wire, and other commodities of that kind, our average importation in 1918 was only 30 per cent, of that in 1913. although prices had increased 233 per cent. The figures show the immense demand for British goods in European countries, and how slight is the possibility of dumping in this country. They show, too, the remarkable diminution of our imports. In 1918, our importation of wire-netting was only 4 per cent, of our average annual pre-war importation, though the price, compared with that of 1913, had risen 589 per cent.
I am under the impression that, by the Bill, statutory recognition is given to the Board of Trade for the first time.
– This is the first measure in which it has been mentioned.
– I think that the Board was created during war time, and for war purposes, and that any powers it exercised must have been acquired under the War Precautions Act. .
– The Board has never had any executive authority of any kind, and was used by the Government only in an advisory capacity in regard to a number of subjects which, from time to time, were remitted to it.
– Is it only in regard to the functions given to the Board by this measure that the Board is to have statutory recognition, or is it proposed to give it statutory powers in connexion with the Commerce Act?
– It has not yet been decided whether the Board shall be given a statutory being, and be clothed with statutory powers. That is a matter of policy which may come up for consideration at a later date. ‘
– I think that the Board could do useful work in connexion with many matters pertaining to the trade and commerce of Australia.
– I think that development along that line is very necessary, but it is hardly a matter that we can discuss now.
– During the war, I had to go before the Board once or twice to seek its interest in matters affecting Western Australia, and I was much impressed with the views taken by its members, and with its possibilities of future usefulness. In connexion with the handling of goods, the regulation of trade, and many other matters affecting our commerce, the Board could give the Minister much assistance. I do not think officials should have too much power, because, generally speaking, they are inclined to grab more and more, and to be callous regarding the difficulties and troubles which they create for the public. An official gets a regulation issued, and then insists on its being complied with in its entirety, and to his complete satisfaction, perhaps at the cost of much commercial inconvenience. The Board of Trade might be found very useful in the encouragement of Australian industries in connexion with our trade and commerce laws. This, indeed, should be its chief work. I think that Parliament should have something to say about the constitution of the Board. I do not approve of having two Ministers and two officials as members.
– And not one worker!
– In my opinion, the Board should consist of representatives of the Chambers of Manufactures, Chambers of Commerce, primary producers, and trade unions, and the representation of all parties should be equal. I do not think that the representative of the trade unions could claim to more truly represent the consumers than would any other representative; but, certainly, the trade union organizations should have representation.
– I thought that the trade unions were offered representation.
– So far as the purposes of the Bill are concerned, it would not be necessary to have a representative of the trade unions on the Board.
– No; but it would be a different matter if a Board were created with statutory powers.
– I have found that it is advantageous to place responsibility on people. If the trade organizations were represented, there would probably be less criticism from them, because matters could be explained to them by one of their own people who knew both sides ofevery question. Now that the creation of a Board of Trade has been proposed, consideration should be given to its constitution and powers, even though it may be intended only to advise the Minister. I think the Minister should tell honorable members generally of the assistance that the Board was to him during the war time. I consider it an exceedingly useful body.
– The members of the Board gave a great deal of very useful service gratuitously.
– I think that they formed a magnificent body. But if the Board is to deal with matters arising out of the Tariff, it should be representative of all interests in the community. Its members should not be chosen because of any particular fiscal faith.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Definitions).
.- As this is the first proposal to give statutory recognition to the Board of Trade, I wish to know whether it is intended that the Board shall remain representative of the Ministry, and of the official and commercial classes only; are the workers generally to be absolutely excluded from representation on it? If they are, and there is a change of Government, no one can blame the Labour party should it act on the same principle, and ignore those opposed to it. I have already drawn attention to the fact that the workers are not represented in the Bureau of Commerce and Industry. Three representatives of the workers were invited, and attended the first meeting of the Bureau; but I am given to understand that when they found that there were eighteen other membere, they felt that they were not wanted. Whether they were justified in withdrawing I do not know,but it must not be forgotten that some of the workers are very sensitive. Representation should not be given merely as a matter of form.
– They scarcely gave it a fair trial.
– The workers have shown that they represent nearly half the voting strength of the Commonwealth, and they feel that they are entitled to practically equal representation on these Boards.
– Does the honorable member suggest that one-half the members of the Council of Commerce and Industry should consist of representatives of Labour?
– No; but the representatives of the workers on the General Council were made to feel that they were there merely as a makeweight. They were tossed in, so to speak, to make the scales bump down.
– The honorable member must admit that they were unduly sensitive.
– I do not know that that is so; but I unhesitatingly say that the workers are absolutely ignored by the Government in the constitution of these Boards. That is one reason why they have declined to be represented on the Taxation Commission. There are members of the Government who know that I pressed the claim of theworkers to be represented on that Commission, and that, but for my action, they would not have been asked to select a representative. The members of the General Council of the Bureau of Commerce and Industry are as follow : - The Minister (Mr. Greene), and the Director, Mr. Stirling Taylor; Mr. C. E. D. Meares, Mr. Ed. Jowett, Hon. J. Hume Cook, Mr. H. Brookes, Mr. James Cuming, Mr. G. W. Shipley, Mr. W.Warren Kerr, Mr. P. C. de Crespigny, Mr. G. C. Klug, Mr. D. J. Patterson, Hon. A. K. Trethowan, Senator T. W. Crawford, Mr. E. J. Luke, Mr. A. D. Walker, Mr. J. A. Harper, Mr. E. Allnutt, Mr. Mark Sheldon, Sir Owen Cox, . and Mr. J. Webb. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Robert Cook) disputed the correctness of a statement made by me last week that there were no representatives’ of the consumers upon the ButterControl Board. Proof of the accuracy of my statement is published in this evening’s issue of the Herald. The members of the Board may be consumers, but they are all producers or representatives of the butter agencies. This is the first Bill in which the Board of Trade has been specifically mentioned, and in connexion with which statutory powers are to he conferred upon it, and I therefore avail myself of the opportunity to urge that the workers should be represented upon it. Their representation should be something like equal to that of the commercial classes. The supporters of the Ministry profess to be in favour of the recommendations of the Whitley Commission, and it is difficult, therefore, to understand why, in the constitution of these Boards the representation of the workers is disregarded. Are the Government prepared to call to their aid representatives of trade organizations only when a strike takes place, and when they think they can use them ? If they persist in that attitude they will make a serious mistake. It seems to me that honorable members opposite speak with their tongues in their cheeks when they declare that they are in favour of the recommendations of the Whitley Commission.
Referring to the Dairy Produce Pool, the Herald reports to-night that -
Mr. W. Massy Greene, Minister for Trade and Customs, stated. to-day that there would not bo any necessity to call for nominations for State representatives, as the members of the last committee would be re-appointed.
Early this year n contract was entered into between the British and Commonwealth Governments for the purchase by the former of the present season’s export surplus of butter, and as tho despatch of stocks overseas will soon begin, it was necessary that the Dairy Produce Pool Committee should be reconstituted under statutory authority. As in former years, it will have the right to make recommendations to the Minister for Trade and Customs in connexion with the granting or withholding of consent to the. export of butter from the Commonwealth.
The decision that the personnel of the committee should remain unchanged was reached at a conference of representatives of the producers held in Melbourne some months ago. Unless there arc alterations by retirement or otherwise, the members will bo as follow: - Mr. W. Massy Greene, chairman; Messrs. H. Sinclair, vice-chairman; C. E. Meares (New South Wales), A. W. Wilson (Victoria), and W. Purcell (Queensland), Government nominees; butter section - P. C. Basche and C. J. McRae (New South ‘Wales), P. J. Holdenson, and H. W. Osborne (Victoria), W. T. Harris, and T. P. Plunkett (Queensland), J. W. Sandford (South Australia), and O. G. Norton (Tasmania). Cheese section - J. Mackay (New South Wales), J. Rankin (Victoria),” A. C. Galbraith (Queensland), Mr. A. O’Callaghan, the Commonwealth dairy expert, is also a member of the Board, but lias not a vote.
This statement shows that no representative of the workers or consumers has been appointed to the Dairy Produce Pool Committee. Th© Government do not hesitate to select managers of butter factories, but they fail to select a worker in a butter factory for membership of this Committee. I appear here for the workers, and urge that they should be given a fair deal in connexion with the appointment of Boards of this character.
– I hope that the Committee will not in this Bill try to constitute a Board of Trade. What we are really proposing, to do is to appoint a Royal Commission for the purposes of this measure. We happened to have at hand a body of gentlemen who had been associated with the Government for some time in an advisory capacity, and who, we thought, would be, for the purposes of this Bill, an excellent body to deliberate upon the facts. After all is said and done, this Board will merely have to marshal the facts - to inform their minds by calling witnesses, if necessary, and getting from them evidence on oath, upon which they may come to a deliberate determination as to the particular matter which is before them. Whatever force the argument of the Leader of the Opposition might have in regard to the constitution of the Board of Trade per se, I fail to see that it has any weight in this instance.
– Does not the honorable gentleman think that to the average worker it looks as if the Government are saying in regard to the constitution of these Boards, “ No worker or Labour man need apply “1
– No. In the constitution of the Board of Trade our only desire was to call to our aid men who Ave thought would be best qualified to advise us. It was not a matter of calling to our assistance a representative of this or that industry. Our one object was to enlist the services of men who, in our opinion, were most competent to advise us on the various matters that came before us. The Leader of the Opposition has referred to the Central Council of the Bureau of Commerce and Industry, of which the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) is a member. In creating that Council, the Government tried to bring together the principal interests of the country, and they asked that three representatives of trade organizations should be nominated. The Leader of the Opposition does not suggest that one-half of the members of that Council should consist of representatives of the workers. All that he is asking is that the workers shall be represented. The Government gave them representation on that Council. Their representatives ‘ attended one meeting, and we have not seen them since.
– I have told the Committee why they did not attend any further meetings of the Council. At the first meeting, they were made to feel that they were not wanted.
– They might have thought they were not wanted, but I do not believe that was a fact. On quite a number of similar bodies created by the Government from time to time, Labour has been given definite representation. But when we came to create the -Wool Pool, the Butter Pool, and the Wheat Pool, it was recognised that the workers as such were not concerned in the actual management of those bodies, as they stood. The Dairy Pool Committee, to which the honorable member has referred, is a body of competent men intimately acquainted with the particular business that they are called upon to discuss.
– And they are interested in only one phase of the business - their one object is to keep prices as high as possible.
– The Dairy Pool Committee has no more to do with prices than has the honorable member himself. Its sole duty is to carry out in all its ramifications - and they are fairly multitudinous - the contract which it has made. It was necessary, therefore, to have on that Committee men who were associated with the industry, and conversant with all the facts relating to it. Unless they were conversant with all the details of the industry, they would be of no use to us. Thus, the honorable member’s argument does not apply to that Board.
When the Government created the Board of Trade, it did not clothe it with any statutory authority. We did not give them any executive power. Our object was to bring together a number of men who would be able to advise us from time to time on various subjects which we referred to them. They have done a lot of very useful work. No publicity has been given to their operations; they have been working quietly, and have gratuitously rendered us very valuable services. The Government chose the men whom it thought in all the circumstances were best qualified to do’ the work in view. I was particularly anxious, as Minister for Trade and Customs, that the whole onus for the decisions under this measure should not be thrown upon me. Not merely for my own sake, but for other reasons, I was anxious ‘that a Board should be created for the purpose. The Board of Trade was at hand, and its services, we recognised, would cost us nothing. That, in itself, is an argument that should appeal to the Economy party - and I think we are all members of the Economy party so long as economy is not applied to matters affecting our own electorates. If we had not availed ourselves of the Board of Trade for this particular .purpose, we should have had to create a special body. The Bill would have done no more, I think, than have provided for the appointment of what is practically a Royal Commission, and would have left it to the Governor-General in Council to nominate the members of that Commission.
Several honorable members, amongst them, I think, the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best), suggested that certain interests should be represented on the Board. I do not think, broadly speaking, that we need to have interests represented upon it. What we require, it seems to me, is to secure the services of men who are capable of forming a sound judgment on the facts submitted to them - men who will know where they can get all the information they want, and be able to determine on the evidence where the truth lies. That is all the Board of Trade will have to do, and that is all that the Bill provides for. The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) referred to the advisability of properly constituting a Board of Trade and extending its operations. I believe that such a Board would be able to do very useful work, and the Government are considering the matter at the present time. For the purposes of this Bill, however, I do not think it is necessary for us to constitute a new body.
I ask the Committee to accept the Board as it is, and if experience shows that the Board requires strengthening in any direction, the Government will not hesitate to take the necessary action.
.- When I read in the Bill a reference to the Commonwealth Board of Trade I assumed that, by some regulation under the War Precautions Act, such a Board had been constituted.
– No; it has merely been gazetted.
– It is most unusual for a Bill to refer to a Board which is not in existence under any Statute, or, at least, a regulation. I do not remember anything of the kind having been done before. This Board is merely a departmental body which might cease to be at any time. It has no statutory existence. Thinking that the Board had been constituted under a War Precautions regulation, I intended to point out to the Minister that, as soon as that Act disappeared, the Board would cease to exist.
– Does the honorable member say that the Commonwealth Board of Trade referred to in the Bill does not exist?
– Statutorily there is no such body as a Commonwealth Board of Trade. The mere gazettal of a notice that such and such persons constitute a Board of Trade gives the body no existence except for departmental purposes.
– After all, is it not a question of what is meant?
– Nothing may be meant. In the Minister’s mind cer.tain gentlemen constitute a Board of / Trade, but that does not give them any statutory existence.
– Is there any precedent for the Minister referring in a Bill to a body that has no statutory existence ?
– That is the point I am making. The body referred to in the Bill has no statutory existence or recognition, and, therefore, the Minister is running a degree of risk in making the operation of this Bill dependent upon such a body. This Bill may give rise to litigation, in which event the question of the legality of the Board is bound to arise. Any Board referred to in an Act of Parliament must have some statutory existence. The Board may do excellent advisory work, but a new Government coming into power may have no regard for the Board, and can, by proclamation, or a mere stroke of the pen, immediately revoke it3 appointment and put an end to its existence.
– Or appoint another. Board.
– Yes, for quite a different purpose, and then this measure will be rendered useless. The Board has no greater statutory existence than would a body of two or three departmental officials appointed by the Minister to advise him in regard to a particular proposition. I ask the Minister to further consider the question of properly constituting a Board of Trade. If he does not do that, the Bill will have no effect.
Mr. GREENE (Richmond - Minister for Trade and Customs) T6. 28]. -When this Bill was first mooted I asked for the advice of the Crown Law authorities as to whether the Commonwealth Board of Trade would be sufficient for the purposes of the Bill. Like the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best), I had some doubt as to whether the Board would have a legal existence. The law advisers of the Crown informed me that the proposal contained in the Bill would be effective.
– As a matter of practice, apart from the law, the principle is not sound.
– The Beard can be brushed aside by the stroke of a pen.
– In view of what the honorable member has said, I shall give the matter further consideration. But I am inclined to think that, after all, the question is as to what is meant by the provision in the Bill.
– That would not be the question in a Court of law.
– A Court has no means of examining the mind of a Minister as to what he meant.
– The Bill refers to the Commonwealth Board of Trade-
– Is it fair to Parliament to introduce a Bill like this, which presupposes a Board which does not exist, and which may be we know not what?
– We may be able to find a form of words which will get over the difficulty.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 -
After section 157 of the Principal Act the following sections are inserted: - “157a. (1) When the bank rate of exchange of any country is more than 10 per centum below the mint par rate of exchange, the Minister shall refer to the Board the question whether the bank rate of exchange should he used as the basis of the computation of the value for duty of goods imported from that country.
Provided that the Board shall not make a recommendation under this sub-section which, if adopted, would, in its opinion, be prejudicial to-
the manufacture of goods in Australia or the sale in Australia of those goods ; or
any preference given to goods imported from the United Kingdom. “ 157c. If at any time the Board is of opinion that goods of any class or description, produced or manufactured in any country in respect of which a recommendation has been made under section 157a of this Act, are being imported into or are being sold or offered for sale in Australia, in substantial quantities, at prices below the fair market value for home consumption at the date of shipment of similar goods in the United Kingdom or Australia, and that the production or manufacture of similar goods in Australia or the United Kingdom is, or is likely to be, thereby adversely affected, the Board may reconimend to the Minister that’ the value for duty of such goods be computed on the mint par rate of exchange, and, upon the recei.pt by the Minister of such recommendation, he shall direct that the value for duty of such goods shall be computed on the mint par rate of exchange. “ 157e. For the purposes of this section, the Board shall have all the powers” conferred, by the Koyal Commissions Act 1902-1012, upon a Royal Commission, and the provisions of that Act shall apply in like manner as if the Board were a Royal Commission and the president of the. Board were the chairman of a Koyal Commission.”
Amendment (by Mr. Greene) agreed to -
That after the word “ centum,”line 5, the words “ above or “ be inserted.
.- The proviso attached to proposed new section 157a declares that the Board shall not make a recommendation which, if adopted, would, in his opinion, be prejudicial to the manufacture of goods in
Australia; Is not that provision a very far-reaching one? I fail to see how there can be any importation of goods which will not be prejudicial to the manufacture of those goods in Australia.
– I am quite satisfied that the proviso in question will not prevent . importation. Its intention is to enable the Board to consider whether the adoption of the bank rate of exchange, as against the mint par rate of exchange, will so alter the basis upon which goods are being imported as to prejudice the manufacture of those goods in Australia.
– Would it not be better to say that?
– The words used in the proviso will give effect to the intention of the Government, and, after all, the matter involved is one of interpretation by the Board. I move -
That after the word “ Act “ in proposed new section 157c, the words “ by reason of the bank rate of exchange of that country being below the mint par rate of exchange “ be inserted.
I wish so to amend this proposed new section as to permit the Board, in considering this question, to deal with goods in respect of any country in which the exchange rate is above the mint par rate of exchange. However, I am very doubtful whether the amendment will effect the object which I have in view.
– Is there any necessity for such an amendment in regard to dump ing when the Board is dealing with an appreciated exchange ?
– No. That is why, when the Bill was originally drafted, the word “above” was not inserted. The provisions of the measure were intended to deal only with a depreciated rate of exchange.
– Obviously the Minister’s mind was concentrated upon the dumping provisions.
– The Bill was drafted in the form in which it now stands in order to overcome that difficulty. I desire the Board in its reference to have the right to review countries which have an appreciated rate of exchange. But the amendment will not achieve the object which I have in view, and, therefore, I ask leave to withdraw it. It will be best for the Committee to pass the clause as it stands, and, if it is found desirable to make any alteration in it, I shall take steps to have the necessary amendment inserted in another place.
Amendment, by leave,withdrawn.
. - I move -
That the words “ this section,” line 1, of proposed new section 157e be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “the last four preceding sections,” and that the following proposed new section be inserted: - “ 157f. Any direction issued by the Minister in pursuance of section 157b, 157c, or 157d of the Act shall -
) be published in the Gazette;
take effect from the date of publication or from a date specified in the direction; and (c)be laid before both Houses of the Parliament within seven days after the date of publication or, if the Parliament is not then sitting, then within seven days after the next meeting of the Parliament; but if either House of the Parliament passes a resolution, at any time within fifteen sitting days after the direction has been laid before that House, disallowing the direction, the direction shall thereupon cease to have effect.”
The intention is to secure publicity in regard to any direction given. Parliament will have the right to review any direction, and may, in its wisdom, determine that the direction shall not be carried out.
Mr.RYAN (West Sydney) [8.15].- I see that Parliament is to have power to disallow any direction, but the amendment is not in the usual form. It is usually provided that such a resolution shall be introduced on notice, given within fifteen days, but here it is proposed that the resolution must be passed within that period. Very often a member is not given an opportunity to move’ a resolution disallowing such a direction.
– At the same time, if, in the opinion of the majority of members, the direction should not be carried out?, I do not think there would be any difficulty in a matter of this sort, at all events.
– But, according to the amendment, the resolution has to be passed within fifteen days.
– That is the usual procedure.
– With all respect, I think it is usually provided that notice shall be given withinfifteen days, not that the resolution must be passed within that period.
– What does the honorable member desire shall be done?
– I desire that words shall be inserted to provide that the notice shall be given within fifteen days.
– I am willing to accept that amendment.
Amendment (by Mr. Ryan) agreed to-
That the amendment be amended by inserting after the word “ resolution “, line 15. of proposed new section 157f the words “ of which notice shall have been given.”
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Standing Orders suspended; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Mr. Greene) agreed to -
That the Bill be now recommitted for the purpose of reconsidering clause 22.
In Committee (Recommittal) :
Clause 22 (Liability of owner oragent for expenses of quarantine).
.- I move -
That the following words be added : - “ ; and
by adding at the end of sub-section (2) thereof the following proviso : - “ Provided that the Governor-General may direct that, as regards any vessel trading exclusively between Australian ports or Australia and New Zealand or Fiji, or other places adjacent to Australia, the expenses of carrying out any responsibility under this section shall be borne by the Commonwealth, and, upon the issue of such direction, the master, owner, and agent of any vessel to which the direction relates shall be exempt from liability for the expenses of carrying out that responsibility.”
When the Bill was previously before the Committee I promised to go thoroughly into the question whichhad been raised as to the charges thrown on the shipping companies under certain conditions. I told the Committee then that, in my opinion, themain Act enabled us to do what was desired. If honorable members turn to that Act they will see that section 14 reads -
The Governor-General may exempt, for sueh time and subject to such conditions as he thinks fit, from all or any of the provisions of this Act -
any ship of war;
any vessels trading exclusively between Australian ports or Australia and New Zealand or Fiji, or other places adjacent to Australia;
any particular vessel or class of vessels, and
any persons, animals, plants, or goods.
There was a general power in the Act to exempt Australian shipping, and that power, in our opinion, covered the charges, which, under the Bill, are thrown on the shipping companies. The Government are not prepared to go so far as to pay the whole cost of the upkeep of vessels that may be quarantined. I have seen the ship-owners in reference to the matter, and though they, very naturally in the circumstances, would have liked us to go further than we propose, I think that the amendment will satisfy them fairly well, and meet the main objection which the Sea-Carriage Committee had in mind when the matter was previously discussed. In the amendment we definitely set forth that under certain conditions Australian shipping may be exempted. It was never contemplated, I take it, that under all circumstances vessels undergoing quarantine should be exempted entirely from the cost. At all events, the amendment enables us, under conditions which we think warrant it, to exercise the power to exempt vessels.
– This proviso does not confine the relief exclusively to the charges of the Department; it gives an open discretion?
– Quite so, and I think that is the only way in which it is possible to meet the situation.
– If we were to entirely exempt the shipping companies they would take no precautions at all.
– We do not propose to entirely exempt them, and I do not think it would be wise to do so.
– I do not ask for that.
– We make a definite provision that, under certain circumstances, which, in the opinion of those who have to administer the Act, place an unfair burden on the ship-owners, and lead to the hanging-up of the shipping on that coast, certain vessels may be exempt, leaving the Government to bear the whole burden.
– It means that where the Government direct vessels to tie up the Government will pay the bill?
– That does not follow as a matter of course ; but it gives a specific power to exempt vessels from the charges if such a course be deemed desirable in the interests of Australia as a whole.
– It really means that the owner of a vessel which brings a disease from overseas shall bear the expense of quarantine.
– This proposal does not apply to overseas shipping. If overseas shipping brings disease to this country, the charges of quarantine must, under all circumstances, be borne entirely by the shipping companies. When, however, for the purpose of protectingthe Commonwealth, it is considered desirable to maintain an internal quarantine, and the charges would weigh unfairly, as during the recent influenza epidemic, on the shipping companies, this power of exemption may be exercised.
– Of course, if overseas vessels introduce an epidemic, the owners must bear the charges consequent on quarantine.
– What do you propose shall be done with people who come overland by train?
– That is a matter between the Quarantine Department and the State Governments.
– You are very solicitous about the shipping companies.
– I am glad the honorable member has given that hint, because I wish it to be distinctly understood that this matter has engaged the serious attention of the Sea-Carriage Committee. That Committee, of which I am a member, isnot so much concerned for the Inter-State shipping companies as for the convenience and service of the people of this country.
– Did the shipping companies give the Committee any refreshments ?
– It is like the wretched, suspicious mind of the honorable member to make a suggestion which is absolutely contrary to fact. We have not been accustomed to that sort of talk in this Parliament. I hope that honorable members will allow me to put the case as it presented itself to the Select Committee on Sea Carriage, and to illustrate the necessity for some provision of this kind. I do not ask that the. shipping companies shall be exempt from any cost of quarantining, and all that the Select Committee asks is that no cost shall attach to them except that which is reasonable. For instance, during the influenza epidemic which occurred last year, some of the Inter-State ships were put to enormous cost, and if it had not been for the fact that at the time these vessels were controlled by the Commonwealth Government, I am afraid that if the ship-owners had been compelled to observe the severe, and in some respects unjustifiable, conditions forced upon them by the attitude of the States, and not by the Commonwealth Quarantine Department, they would not have maintained a service, but would have laid up their vessels. If I had known that this matter was to be brought forward to-night I would have been prepared to give actual instances of the cost of the quarantining of certain vessels. Of course, this cost was really borne by the Commonwealth, because the InterState vessels were then under control, and were running according to a BlueBook schedule of charges, but if the shipowners themselves had been obliged to face it I am afraid vessels would not have run to Tasmania.
– What about the position of the passengers ?’
– According to my reading of the Bill the whole question is covered. No absolute direction is given to the Quarantine Department to pay all costs. It is left an open question to the Department to. pay whatever costs the Government deem fair and reasonable. When the Minister (Mr. Greene) was referring to the matter, I was under the impression that the provision referred only to the cost of quarantine incurred by the Department, but we should not stop there, because it would not be sufficient to insure the maintenance of a shipping service during the recurrence of another influenza epidemic.
I have not the figures with me in respect to the very heavy costs certain boats which were quarantined had to meet. As a matter of fact, the actual quarantine costs incurred at the instance of the Quarantine Department were only about 15 per cent, of the total cost to the ships in wages, victualling charges, and coal, and through changes of route, under the direction of the Director of Quarantine, these figures excluding altogether whatever losses were incurred through having to lay up vessels for a considerable period. However, as it appears that the matter is now left open, permitting, as the Minister (Mr. Greene) admits, the whole question ‘to be reviewed by the Government, by which so much of the loss sustained by a ship which the Government may deem to be reasonable may be allowed, I think the Committee might very- well accept the Government’s proposal.
– Does the honorable member understand that the provision covers more than quarantine costs?
– Reading the clause hurriedly, I do not think it is confined to quarantine costs.
– It depends upon what is included.
– It makes no provision for the cost of the upkeep of a vessel while in quarantine.
– Then it is confined ?
– Yes, because we cannot deal with matters outside the Act itself. This is merely a new proviso to be inserted in the Act.
– Does the Act provide for quarantine expenses only?
– In those circumstances, I ask the honorable member for West Sydney to be good enough to state what constitutes the cost of quarantining.
– That depends upon what is contained in the section of the Act to which the proviso is to be attached.
– Then it is quite possible that no provision is made for an allowance to cover consequent costs, which might include the cost of the upkeep of a vessel.
– And interest while a ship is lying idle.
– I would not press for that. The concern of the Select Committee was to maintain a shipping service during an epidemic by means of which food could be taken to the people.
– People who travel by trains and those who travel by sea should be treated alike.
– In the one case the ship is responsible; in the other case State Railway Departments are responsible. The Commonwealth Government was responsible in the case of overland passengers to Western Australia during the influenza epidemic. But the Government cannot force ship-owners to maintain a service if they are suffering heavy losses, and if the owners prefer to tie up their ships rather than meet those losses, it is the people generally who are the sufferers.
– I have no doubt that this matter was well thought out by the Select Committee on Sea Carriage before a recommendation was handed to the Minister (Mr. Greene).
– Oh, no !
– We had the Director of Quarantine before us, and then asked the Minister to call the shipping companies together and discuss the general question with them and the Director.
– That was the case, and this proposal is the result of that conference.
– Apparently it is a very good result indeed for the shipping companies.
– They asked us to go a great deal further.
– I have no doubt they did. Apparently we are to pay not only for the expense of a passenger’s detention, but also for the whole cost of the upkeep of the vessels quarantined.
-No, we are not doing that.
– That is what we are asking for.
– I am glad to get that information. If a person is coming down the coast by steamer, and the vessel touches at a port where there is an epidemic of influenza or small-pox, apparently the Commonwealth is to pay all expenses.
– But if a person comes down from Queensland by train, and is held up at a State border, he is called upon to bear thewhole of the expense of such a step as it affects himself.
– If a person is held up by the action of the State Government, it should bear the cost.
– A Queensland friend of mine, who was travelling south with his family, was held up in this way and billed for £27. The State Government threatened to sue him, and in his case it was cheaper for him to pay the money rather than travel 700 miles to Brisbane to defend the case. The Government threw up the sponge where people chose to defend themselves against this charge, but those who were willing to pay were allowed to do so. To be fair, we ought to put people travelling overland by train on the same footing as people travelling Inter-State by sea. If no protection is to be afforded to passengers who travel Inter-State by rail, I shall have to vote against this proposal.
, - Clause 22 of this amending Bill to which, on recommittal, I have moved a further amendment, amends section 59 of the principal Act passed in 1908 and amended in 1912. That section reads - (1.) The master, owner, and agent of any vessel ordered into quarantine, or of any vessel from which any person is removed to perform quarantine, shall severally be responsible for -
Section 59a states -
The master, owner, or agent of any vessel ordered into quarantine, or ordered to be cleansed, fumigated, disinfected, or treated, shall pay all costs incurred in the cleansing, fumigation, disinfection, or treatment, of the vessel, or of any goods or things taken from the vessel.
This Bill now throws a further burden upon the shipping companies by adding responsibility for the following: -
It extends to the vessel the same charges as if the persons on board were in quarantine. There was some doubt as to whether that was so or not, and this Bill now sets that doubt at rest.
– Suppose you quarantined a ship with passengers on board, and there was no quarantine station handy. What then?
– I have beenendeavouring to explain that the Bill throws upon the owners of ships in quarantine, whether passengers are actually landed or not, the same responsibility as if the passengers hadbeen landed; that is to say, they have to find all that is necessary for quarantine purposes. The Seacarriage Committee brought up an interim report dealing with this particular subject, and when the matter came up for discussion in the House, I promised that, if after studying the question I considered the Act did not go far enough, and did not give us power to exempt owners from quarantine charges in certain circumstances, I would recommit the clause of this Bill, and make the position perfectly clear. That is what I am doing now.
– The amendment does not do that with regard to charges for fumigation.
– I believe that fumigation is only carried out with regard to oversea vessels though it might be necessary in the case of Australian vessels.
-What I was suggesting is that this amendment does not affect section 59a.
– I think the honorable member is right; but, after all, section 59a deals with a comparatively minor matter. At the request of the Seacarriage Committee I met the ship-owners to see if we could agree as to the method by which the object they had in view could be attained. Naturally, the shipping companies asked for a good deal more than I was prepared to grant. They asked for exemption in regard to the whole of the costs, including the upkeep of a vessel, wages, detention charges, and a number of other matters; but I said I was not prepared to do that, at all events in the Quarantine Bill, although I think it is proper that under certain circumstances such as, for instance, the establishment of strict quarantine for considerations of national safety involving enormously heavy charges upon the shipping companies, which, by law, they would be prevented from getting from the passengers directly at all events, it might be desirable for the Government to have the power of exemption. I said to them that, if it became impossible to ran the vessels under certain conditions which might arise, it would be a matter for consideration by the Administration of the day whether they should take over the ships for the time being, or come to some arrangement in regard to compensation, so that a reasonable service could be maintained. I was not prepared to grant their request in toto. This must be a matter for determination by the Government in power- if ever such a set of circumstances arises. I think this is the only fair way in which the position can be met. No doubt, they would have been better pleased if I had agreed to their requests ; but, on the whole, I think they are satisfied.
– Is it not possible that they would modify their freights and fares if their request were granted?
– I do not know that they would do that.
– I should like honorable members to under1 stand the position in whichmembers of the Sea-carriage Committee were placed when this question arose. Evidence from Admiral Clarkson and from representatives of the Steam-ship Owners Federation showed conclusively that enormous charges had been made against vessels placed under quarantine restrictions, in the case of one ship the amount being as much as £1,942 15s. 9d., while in another case, although there was only one passenger on board quarantined, the whole of the quarantine costs were thrown upon the ship-owners. Fortunately, however, later, the vessels were under requisition by the Government, and these charges were ideally met by the Commonwealth out of the Consolidated Revenue. Admiral Clarkson said the charges on ship-owners were excessive, especially in view of the fact that if persons left Melbourne for, say, Queensland or Western Australia, by train, similar quarantine expenses were thrown on individual passengers, and not on the Railway Departments, although the cases were absolutely analogous. It was stated in sworn evidence that if another epidemic occurred the steam-ship companies would lay up their vessels rather than run them under the previous conditions. They contended that they were not responsible for the introduction of epidemics, and as these restrictions were imposed for national protection, it did not seem fair that the entire burden should fall upon one section of the community. When the Quarantine Bill was before the House, we suggested that, the Minister (Mr. Greene) should now make arrangements for a conference with steam-ship companies, and if possible come to some agreement before another epidemic visited the Commonwealth, and thus secure a reasonable service in the interests of the people. In thisamending Bill the Minister seeks power to make arrangements to exempt the steam-ship companies from some portion of any quarantine charges. The Seacarriage Committee did not suggest that if a vessel were laid up under quarantine regulations, &c, and if the crew had to be paid, the. entire expenditure should be recouped by the Government; but we did say that if any unfair charge imposed upon the shipping companies threatened to result in the laying-up of vessels and the disorganization of coastal trade, some consideration should be shown in regard to those overhead charges which are part and parcel of quarantine expenditure.
– Which now they have to bear.
-Fortunately, for them, only in a few instances, because when they realized what enormous charges were involved they declined to run their vessels, and Admiral Clarkson was appointed to take them over and run them for the Commonwealth. We do not want any controversies in the future in respect of quarantine charges during an epidemic, with vessels tied up, goods lying on our wharfs, and the Minister powerless to do anything until he has consulted Parliament. Unless something is done, the Minister would have to take possession of the vessels, as in the past, and run them under the same arrangement. This did not yield any profit, because the Commonwealth had to pay the expenses of quarantine out of the Consolidated Revenue, with the result that there was a loss of between £150,000 and £200,000, of which somewhere about £20,000 was for quarantine expenses.
– Would this mean that the crew would have to be paid by the Government in the event of a vessel being laid up?
– No. The Committee did not suggest that, as it is a matter for arrangement between the Government and the ship-owners. We contend that if a vessel was laid up, the crew would be discharged, in which case the vessel would not be earning anything, and the shipping trade would be disorganized. I think it is only fair to place the true position before the Committee, to show that the Select Committee on Sea Carriage did not consider only the interests of the ship-owners, as has been suggested, but the whole community.
I move -
That the amendment be amended by the addition of the following words : - “ Provided further that the GovernorGeneral may direct that the expenses of overland passengers arising out of quarantine regulations may be borne by the Commonwealth.”
– That is right. Put it all on to the Commonwealth.
– Does not the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) think that all citizens of the Commonwealth have a right to be protected, and that they should receive the same treatment if travelling by rail asis shown to those who may be travelling by sea?
– I have a profound conviction that everybody should go to the Treasury and get what they require.
– If the Treasurer will move an amendment in that direction, I am prepared to support it. It must be remembered that persons placed in quarantine when travelling from overseas or fromState to State arc not placed there for their own benefit, but for the protection of every citizen in the Commonwealth. It is only fair to ask the Government to treat those who travel on Government railways in the same manner as they intend to treat those who travel on privately-owned ships. Many are compelled to use our railways for business purposes, in order to save time, and they will be penalized for not travelling on privately-owned vessels.
. -I would like the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) to explain whether the present legislation is to run concurrently with the powers of the States, which resulted in such absurd things being done in the matter of railway traffic during the influenza epidemic?
– This Bill already provides in clause 2a -
Section 52 of the Constitution gives us power to deal with quarantine matters, inasmuch as it provides that if the. law of a. State is contrary to the Commonwealth law, the Commonwealth law shall prevail. When once the GovernorGeneral has declared that a state of emergency exists, he can issue a proclamation that theStates cannot take any action contrary to ours.
– You will find they will.
-Whether they will or not, I believe that we are making (provision for overcoming the principal difficulties that arose on the last occasion, and which, I think, will not occur again.
– Will that apply to Inter-State action or to general action? In the State of NewSouth Wales will the Commonwealth take over powers under this measure to enable them to prevent an epidemic spreading beyond, say, Sydney?
– It would entirely depend upon the circumstances. If it was considered desirable in the interests of the community as a whole to quarantine the city of Sydney it could be done by the Commonwealth authorities.
– It was done at the time ofthe small-pox epidemic.
– And they did not like it.
– No. I believe certain portions of Sydney were quarantined. With reference to the amendment moved by the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. James Page), I may say that this Bill does not relate to passengers by land bearing any quarantine expenses. The section that he is asking the Committee to amend relates only to the master, owner, or agent of any vessel ordered into quarantine, and the- consequent expenses of which are thrown upon the persons I have named. It does not relate to other expenses; neither is there anything in the Quarantine Act which relates to the expenses of passengers carried by rail. If theamendment was inserted where he suggested it would have no meaning, and I do not know whether it is strictly in order. The reference to the Committed is confined to clause 22, and as that clause deals solely with an amendment of the Act of 1912, I do not think it is in order.
– Is “vessel “ defined in the Act?
– Yes. I do not think the amendment is strictly in order, and I would like your ruling, Mr. Chairman, on that point.
.- The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. James Page) specially referred to the case of a friend of his who had to pay £27 for quarantine expenses. In the case to which he referred, Queensland was visited by an epidemic, and that State established a quarantine station on its borders for the protection of its people. Queensland was in the same relative position as the Commonwealth would be when it controls quarantine matters for the protection of the whole community. Therefore, a State should be responsible for all the expenses in a case of that nature, and the person to whom he referred should not have been mulcted to the extent of £27.
– It was cheaper for him to pay it.
– Perhaps so;but the charge should not have been imposed, as a quarantine station was established for the benefit of the people of Queensland, and that State should have met the expense as the Commonwealth would have to do in the case of a visitation of an epidemic from outside. If the honorable member presses his amendment I shall have to vote against it.
.- I desire to speak to this amendment if itis in order, but if it is not it is useless for me to proceed. Passengers by rail are in a very serious position indeed if, in future, they have to pay their own quarantine expenses as they were compelled to do during the influenza epidemic. The only result of making a charge in such cases is the inevitable one that people will endeavour to avoid the expense, and in doing so assist in the dissemination of disease. The position put forward by the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford) in regard to a State having to meet its own expenses because it quarantines people on its border has no relevancy in this instance, because epidemics do not regard State borders. I do not think there should be any element of doubt in this matter, as quarantine should be solely under the control of the Commonwealth Government, and entirely removed from State jurisdiction. It is a matter with which the National Parliament should deal.
– In the case mentioned by the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. James Page), the Sta te authorities overruled the Commonwealth Department.
– That should not be so, as I understand that Commonwealth legislation overrules State legislation.
– Only where it is in conflict.
– During the influenza epidemic in New South Wales the action of the State authorities in insisting on certain measures which were inadequate, and which were opposed to Commonwealth measures which were adequate, resulted in the whole of the rural portions of New South Wales being affected by influenza when they should not have been.
– The New Quarantine Bill will prevent that.
– I should like to be sure of that. I should like to see legislation passed sufficiently embracing to prevent the States from interfering.
– We are trying to provide for that.
.- I think that the amendment should be carried. If the Commonwealth is, at the discretion of the Government, to pay the quarantine expenses of ship-owners, it should also at least pay the quarantine expenses of overland travellers on its railway lines. It has been urged that the payment of quarantine expenses of travellers by land is a State matter; but the Commonwealth, as well as the States, possesses a railway, and should set an example. Yet, during the recent epidemic, it charged 10s. a day to overland travellers, between Western Australia and the eastern States, who were quarantined at Port Augusta. Many who were so quarantined were persons not too welltodo.
– Some of them had been stranded in the eastern States, and had spent every penny of their money.
– Yes. I endeavoured to assist five such persons from New South Wales, who were detained in Melbourne for a considerable time and then quarantined at Port Augusta, where they had to pay to the Commonwealth 10s. a day for their maintenance. Travellers who are quarantined during an epidemic should not have to bear the cost of their maintenance during detention, because they have committed no fault, and are detained merely in the interests of the health of the general community.
– The amendment, if agreed to, will have no effect, because what we are considering is a proviso dealing solely with the expenses incurred in regard to vessels.
– In any cas© the Minister must see that travellers are entitled to consideration. What is to prevent him from recommitting; the Bill to enable the amendment to be inserted ?
– The Bill has been recommitted for a particular purpose.
– What is desired could be done in another place.
– There are many ways in which it could be done should the Minister be willing to give effect to the wishes of the Committee. He at all times acts very fairly, giving members the fullest information regarding the measures with which he is intrusted, and I hope that he will see that the request made on behalf of the travellers on Commonwealth railways at least is a reasonable one.
Mr. HECTOR LAMOND (Illawarra) p9.21]. - The contention that the Commonwealth Government should bear the cost of protecting the community against epidemics is sound, and once it is agreed that the ship-owners should be reimbursed the expense3 of quarantine, the same treatment must be extended to quarantined passengers. No reason has been alleged for the penalizing of shipowners on whose vessels there is an outbreak of disease. During an epidemic, travellers call 1103 beard a ship or train until they have submitted themselves to medical examination, and have been declared free from dsease. When the Commonwealth has said to a ship-owner, “ Your intending passengers have complied with our requirements, and are apparently .f re; from disease,” that shipowner should net have to bear the expenses of quarantine should sickness subsequently occur on his vessel. The present law makes it to the interest of the ship-owner to conceal suspicious cases, whereas we should make it to the interest of every one concerned to declare cases of infectious sickness, so that epidemics may be stamped out promptly. What applies to sea travellers must apply to land travellers also. Further, the Commonwealth should have power to prevent the States from acting as they did during the last epidemic, when, their regulations were often farcical. In New South Wales, a cordon was drawn across a road, and through it any person riding an ordinary bicycle could pass, but those travelling in a motor car were stopped, as being possibly infectious. Again, a person was allowed to’ go without question to a town a mile within the cordon, but was interfered with if he proposed to go to some place not so far .away. I am not satisfied with the explanation of the Minister that State interference can be prevented by the issue of a proclamation. Evidently the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) anticipates that there will be a great deal of discussion in the Law Courts as to the legality of such a step.
– The Committee is now dealing with an amendment of clause 22, but the discussion is wandering over the whole scope of the Quarantine Act.
– In any case, the Minister will do well to review these questions, not from the point of view of the Commonwealth Treasury, but with the object of making the detection of disease more certain. It seems to me that the community should say, “ We want to be protected from infectious diseases, and are prepared to pay whatever it may cost to prevent, or get rid of, any epidemic.”
.- We did not get much information from the two members of the Sea Carriage Committee who have spoken. Apparently, the Committee has examined ship-owners, and has not bothered to get the opinions of the travelling public. It recommends the protection of the shipping companies, but pays no regard to those who travel by sea. When men or women are quarantined, and thus prevented from following their usual occupantions, as well as being kept away from their homes, they should at least be maintained at the expense of the Government. We have been told that the shipping companies have lost £20,000 in quarantine expenses; but I have not heard of any of them going insolvent. If they had to pay £20,000 in quarantine expenses, they have passed that expenditure on to the public by increasing fares and freights.
– If that is so, it is a reason why we should protect the public by relieving shipping companies of quarantine expenses.
– I am willing to do that if travellers by sea or land who are quarantined are treated in the same way. The interim report of the Sea-Carriage Committee is very brief, and I should like to know how long the Committee has been conducting its inquiries.
.- One aspect of this question that is worthy of consideration is that we do not want the Minister (Mr. Greene), acting on behalf of the Commonwealth, to make an arrangement whereby the steam-ship companies will be called on to pay these costs, and will be permitted to recoup themselves by levying higher freights in respect of the goods which they carry on their vessels.
– They will do that.
– They have not now the power, and we do not want to givethem the power to do that. My view is that the Commonwealth should bear the cost of quarantine. That would mean that the whole public would contribute to it, whereas, if the steam-ship companies were required to pay it, andwere allowed to pass it on, the merchants who were consequently called on to pay higher freights in respect of their seaborne goods would add those increased freights to the cost, and secure a profit of, say, 10 per cent. upon it. The retailers, to whom they sold, would in turn put on another 15 or 20 per cent., and the public would have to pay.
-I do not propose anything of the kind in my amendment of the amendment.
– I have not said anything against the honorable member’s proposition. I agree with the amendment, and I hope that the Government can see their wav to give effect to it. The cost of any action taken for the benefit of the whole community should be borne by the Government. The shipping companies would not object if they were ordered to bear all these costs of quarantine, and wereallowed to reimburse themselves by charging additional freights and fares. The public, however, would have to pay, not only the higher freights, but a profit on the added cost of the goods carried in such circumstances.
– I think the Committee agrees with the honorable member’s view.
– Then why should my honorable friend suggest that the Select Committee on Sea Carriage, of which I am a imember, has studied the matter from only onepoint of view? We took all the available evidence on the question, and expect the House to deal with our report in a reasonable way. I have held from the first that this is the most economical course to pursue, and that by adopting it we would not run any risk of having our shipping suddenly held up, and the whole trade of the Commonwealth disorganized, because of failure on our part to calmly consider the whole question now and to provide against such a contingency.
.- I hope the Minister (Mr. Greene) has considered this matter, and is prepared to accept the amendment of the amendment.
– I do not think it will mean anything if we add it to the clause.
– Then there will be no harm in agreeing to it.
– I do not mind accepting it. It will not mean anything.
.- I quite agree with the proposal made by the honorable imember for Maranoa (Mr. James Page), provided that effect can be given to it; but I should like the Minister to say whether, if the amendment of the amendment be agreed to, it will amount to anything.
-i think it means nothing.
– But will it interfere with, or in any way prejudice, the amendment ?
– The amendment does not go as far as I should like to carry the matter, but on the principle that half a loaf is better than no bread, I am prepared to accept it.
.- I am rather pleased that the Minister in charge of the Bill (Mr. Greene) is not giving, by means of his amendment, everything for which the steam-ship companies ask. When I read the interim report of the Select Committee on Sea Carriage, I formed the opinion that, if it had been prepared by the directors of the steamship companies, it could not have been more in their interests. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster), in reply to an interjection that I made to that effect, said that I had a suspicious mind. I do not think that I have; but my experience as a member of this House is that we can always depend on the honorable member and the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) to support the demands of any company that comesalong.
– That is in keeping with the honorable member’s usual truthful statements.
– If it is, then it will bear the light of day. The interim report is suggestive of the mouse that the mountain in travail brought forth.
– I call attention to the want of a quorum. [Quorum formed.’]
– We hope for better things from the Select Committee. It has been left to the Labour party - Sea Carriage Committee or no Sea Carriage Committee - to take into consideration the interests of the general public, and I am glad that the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. James Page) has moved an amendment of the amendment with that object in view. Our party stands not for the interests of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, the AdelaideSteamship Company, Huddart Parker Limited, or any other trading concern, but for the interests of the whole of the people, and I am glad that once again it has come to the people’s assistance.
Amendment of the amendment agreed to.
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Bill further reported with an amendment.
Standing Orders suspended; reports adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 26th October (vide page 5965), on motion by Mr. Poynton -
That this Bill he now road a second time.
.- The Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Poynton), in moving the second reading of this Bill last night, informed the House that it was far more liberal than the measure now on the statute-book. If I were asked to choose between the two, I should prefer the existing Act. This Bill is certainly not more liberal than the existing Act, since it takes away the papers of many persons now naturalized. During the recent war, men were interned who had received their naturalization papers more than twenty years before, and had not a stain on their character.
That was by no means an uncommon occurrence. I have no doubt that the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Wienholt), the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb), and other representatives of electorates in which there is a considerable German settlement, could cite many cases of the kind. Among those who interviewed me on the subject was a man whose naturalization papers were signed by the late Sir John Madden as Deputy Governor of Victoria many years ago, while other internees held papers signed by State Governors, who had long since passed away. Some of these people who were prevented from obtaining a living asked to be interned in order that their wives and families might receive sustenance. The Bill which we are now asked to pass practically makes permanent the practice then indulged in by the Government. Under clause 3, the Naturalization Act 1903-1917 is repealed, but it is provided that -
Such repeal shall not affect the rights or status of any person naturalized under that Act.
Then clause8 provides -
Any person to whom a certificate of naturalization has been issuedunder the Act repealed by this Act, orunder any State Act, or who has been naturalized by virtue of a certificate of naturalization issued to his father or mother under any such Act, may apply to the Governor-General in the prescribed manner for a certificate of naturalization under this Act. . . .
– That refers to the extended naturalization, and does not affect the ordinary naturalization.
– I understand from the Minister that this is only to give a wider certificate of naturalization. It does not mean that a person must apply if he wishes to retain his old certificate?
– I am glad to have that assurance from the Minister.
– Instead of imposing a restriction, it is conferring added privileges.
– It confers Empire naturalization, just as the original Commonwealth Act enabled persons to become naturalized for the whole of Australia instead of for only one particular State.
– We cannot confer Empire naturalization.
– Clause 16 provides that Part II. of the British Act, a copy of which is set out in the first schedule, shall be adopted by this Bill. It is a most peculiar policy to embody portion of a British Act in the schedule of a Commonwealth Act.
– The British Government may be able to confer Empire naturalization, but I do not see how we can.
– Clause 16 provides further that any power which under Part II. of the British Act is exercisable by the Secretary of State shall be vested in and exercisable by the Governor-General. In this clause we are adopting a procedure that has never previously been followed in any measure submitted to this Parliament.
– It is a very good idea, if it isall right.
– The object is to secure uniformity.
– An innovation is introduced by sub-clause 2 of clause 5 -
Where in pursuance of this Act the name of a child is included in a certificate of naturalization granted to his parent, or where, in pursuance of any Act repealed by this Act,, any child has been deemed to be a naturalized British subject, by reason of residence with bis parent, such child shall, for the purposes of this Act, be deemed to be a person to whom a certificate of naturalization has been granted.
I have seen probably a score of naturalization papers; but I have never seen the name of a child included in any of them. A certificate is issued always in respect of the one person only.
– No man can sell his son’s birthright.
– I do not think the original Act confers upon a person the right to naturalize his child. .
– The provision is new, and it is inserted because there are scores of people in Australia who thought that because their father had been naturalized, they, too, were naturalized.
– I know of one case.
– There are many of them.
– I know of many in Queensland.
– One man, who is in a big engineering business in this State, came to me and said that he was under the impression that his father was naturalized before he was born,and that, therefore, he also was a naturalized subject, but he found out later that he was eighteen months old when his father was naturalized, and that the naturalization of the parentdid not extend to him.
– Not if he was, born in Australia?
– He was born in South Australia. He is as good a citizen of Australia as is any member of the House, and his loyalty has never been questioned, but he was not naturalized until long after the outbreak of war, because he was under the impression that his naturalization followed naturally upon that of his father. Sub-clause 2 of clause 5 says that a child whose name is included in the certificate granted to his parents shall be deemed to be naturalized, but what happens if his name does not appear on the parents’ certificate ?
– Look at paragraph a of the following clause.
– That provides that any person born within His Majesty’s Dominions and allegiance shall be deemed to be a natural-born British subject, and the following paragraph gives the same recognition to any person born on a British ship, whether in foreign territorial waters or not. Does that apply ifthe parents were not British subjects?
– The child takes the nationality of the ship.
– Hitherto there has been some doubt in that regard.
– What happens in the case of a child born in Australia of naturalized parents ?
– Apparently if the child’s name is included in the parents’ certificate of naturalization the child is deemed to have been naturalized, but not otherwise.
– Surely we can alter that provision.
– The original Act provided that infant children of a naturalized subject, if they resided with the parent in Australia, might have issued to them a certificate of naturalization, and that was freely done during the war. This Bill now provides for names being included at once in the parents’ certificate of naturalization.
– I assume we shall alter the certificate to provide for all children under twenty-one to be automatically naturalized with their parents. We shall require a form of certificate different from the one now in existence.
– That presents no difficulty.
– The Minister told us last night that, before a person can be granted a certificate of naturalization, he must have resided for not less than five years in His Majesty’s Dominions or been in the Service of the Crown for not less than five years within the last eight years before the application. The reference to the Crown means that the applicant must have been a public servant in some capacity.
– A man may have been in gaol.
– By another clause a person who has been in gaol is debarred for all time. Apparently his imprisonment is not to be a sufficient punishment for his offence. I thought that when a man had suffered the punishment imposed by the law for a particular offence, he had purged his guilt, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) told us a few days ago that he did not believe in pursuing a life-long vendetta and hounding a person to his grave. Honorable members who cast their minds back for about twenty-five years will recollect that when the Boers decided to impose a residential qualification upon Britishers going to South Africa, the people who were after the gold of the Rand made a fuss, and Britain went to war with the Boer Republics. Many of us opposed that war, because we thought then, as I think now, that it was engineered by persons who desired to get control of the gold mines of the Rand. The Boers decided that a person should be resident in South Africa for three years before being granted a certificate of naturalization. Dr. Starr- Jameson, of raid fame, was one of those who contended that the period should be only six months.
– He was gaoled for his action.
– But he later became Premier of another Colony, and was knighted. Great Britain went to war with the Boer Republics because they required a residence of three years before granting naturalization, yet the Commonwealth Government are proposing to impose a time restriction of five years.
– That is an exact copy of section 2 of the Imperial Act.
– We are slavishly following Imperial legislation. This is part of the panic legislation of which I have previously spoken.. This proposal goes further than the Boer legislation which caused the South African war.
– The Government are enacting a new War Precautions Act before they repeal the existing Statute.
– This Bill makes it possible for a man to be naturalized within one year.
– Only if he has been for four years in some other part of the Empire. He must have been away from his own country for at least five years. There is no member on the Government side, no matter how Imperialistic or jingoistic he may be, who will deny that the South African war was fought in order to compel the Boer Republics to naturalize Britishers who had been resident in the Republic for less than twelve months.
– Oh, no!
– I am afraid that the honorable member does not know the cause of that war.
– I know the pretext upon which it was waged. But the real reason why war was declared against the Boers in South Africa was a desire on the part of certain people to become possessed of the Rand mines.
– If the honorable member had been on the Rand at the time he wouldknow different.
– I object to a residential qualification of five years, such as is imposed in this Bill. That period is altogether too long. Under the principal Act a residential qualification of only two years is necessary. Personally, I am of opinion that twelve months is sufficiently long.
– The honorable member’s anxiety about foreigners simply amazes one.
– As a matter of fact, there are fewer foreigners in my electorate than are to be found in any other electorate in Australia. Honorable members opposite profess to be in favour of immigration. They are aware of the housing difficulties which are being experienced at the present time, particularly by returned soldiers, whose uniform is being practically dragged in the gutter.
– Does not the honorable member know that somebody has discovered that there are 7,000 empty houses in Melbourne?
– I do.
– I would like to have a look at one of them.
– I would like to direct Mr. Carre Riddell’s attention to an advertisement in last Saturday’s newspapers in which £20 was offered for the key of a dwelling.
– The honorable member does not believe that advertisement.
– I have never had the key of a house for sale. But the fact that I thought of removing from my present address waa mentioned casually one night recently, and. the next morning there was a ring upon the telephone, and I was asked when I would be vacating the premises. I replied that I certainly would not be ‘doing so for a couple of months, and I was then informed that the person who was addressing me would be quite willing to wait for that period.
Honorable members opposite profess to be in favour of immigration, and yet they would impose all sorts of disabilities upon people who desire to come here.
– Put them upon the land.
– M’,any immigrants to Australia have been placed upon the land, but few have remained there. The majority have gravitated to our cities.
– In Queensland they have remained upon the land.
– Some twenty years ago I worked with a number of immigrants in Queensland who had described themselves to the authorities as farmers, but who knew no more about farming than I did.
– That showed their anxiety to come here.
– Exactly. But the immigrants who enter Australia avowedly to settle in the country do not remain there.
– Does not the honorable member understand that a two years’ residence in any State will entitle an immigrant to naturalization there?
– I do not. No State has the power to naturalize anybody. . Naturalization is a matter under the exclusive control of the Commonwealth. Clause 3 of this Bill provides for the repeal of the Naturalization Act 1903-1917, so that persons of alien origin will require to re- . side, in British territory for five years before they can become naturalized.
– Quite a number of immigrants come from Canada.
– But not many foreigners.
– Oh, yes; quite a number of them.
– Sub-clause 2 of clause 8 of the Bill provides -
The granting of a certificate in pursuance of this section shall be in the absolute discretion of the Governor-General, and he may, with or without assigning any reason, give or withhold the certificate as he thinks most conducive to the public good, and no appeal shall lie from his decision.
– Is there any appeal from the Minister’s decision now?
– I am quite aware of the present position.
Mir. Poynton. - The meaning of the clause is clear.
– I quite recognise that the Governor-General is merely a figurehead. ‘ Clause 12 provides -
Where the Governor-General is satisfied that a certificate of naturalization granted by him has been obtained by false misrepresentation, or fraud, or by concealment of material circumstances, or that the person to whom the certificate is granted has shown himself by act or speech to be disaffected or disloyal to His Majesty, the Governor-General shall by order revoke the certificate.
The certificate referred to in that clause is the certificate which obtains at present, and not the certificate which may be granted hereafter. Honorable members know that, during the war, many persons were interned.
– Why does not the honorable member- read the whole of the clause? A certificate of naturalization can be revoked only through the medium of a Court.
– I would point out to the honorable member that the discussion in detail of clauses, of the Bill is quite out of order.
– A number of those persons who were interned during the war period - and whose certificates of naturalization would most promptly be revoked under the provision which I have quoted- were interned upon tainted evidence which would not be accepted in a
Court of law. Many of these cases could not have been proved in a Court of law.
– There is nothing about internees in this clause.
– I know that, but the clause speaks of the “ disaffected “ or “ disloyal,” and Ave are told that the revocation of a certificate is to be decided by a Court..
Here I might say that the number of sub-clauses in this clause is somewhat bewildering. That, however, is a matter of drafting; and I think that if honorable members were to look at some of the earlier Acts of this Parliament, when Mr. Charles Cameron Kingston took an interest in the work, they would see that for clearness the Acts of to-day are not to be compared with them. In this clause there are no fewer than eight subclauses, many of which I think ought to have been dealt with as separate clauses.
– Under the present law 1 1 can denaturalize a man without hearing witnesses or applying to a Judge. Is not this clause much broader ?
– This clause is the better, inasmuch as it gives a chance of going before a Court and hearing witnesses, who would not otherwise go into the box and swear to their statements.
This Bill is a great improvement on the conditions which have hitherto prevailed, giving, as it does, greater security. It is provided that “ Where a person is naturalized by virtue, of the grant of a certificate of naturalization to his father or mother “ - that, I suppose, refers to minors - the certificate can be revoked. Then, the GovernorGeneral may, if he think fit, before making an- order under the clause, refer the case for inquiry; but I wish to know whether the person affected - whose certificate is being revoked - may ask for an inquiry. Can a man who -has applied for a naturalization certificate, and has been refused, ask for an inquiry?
– It is provided that the Governor-General shall send a notice to the person affected, and give him an opportunity of claiming that the case be referred’ for inquiry.
– But may the person himself ask for an inquiry ?
– Once he gets that notice, what more does he want 1 The notice must be sent in cases where the person affected is unlawfully trading or communicating with the enemy, was not of good character at the date of the grant of the certificate, or remains, according to the law of a State at war with His Majesty, a subject of that State.
– Paragraph 6 precludes a man from asking for an inquiry if he has been imprisoned for twelve months, within five years of the granting of the certificate. I notice that the Court of Inquiry must consist of a Justice of the High Court or a Judge of a State Court. I remind honorable members that a stipendiary magistrate, Mr. Barnett, was thought good enough to inquire into the employment of persons of alien names in the Commonwealth Public Service, and he dealt with many against whom nothing could be said, and who were well known to honorable members. If a stipendiary magistrate were thought competent to hold an inquiry of that kind, why should he not be deemed competent to hold an inquiry under this clause?
– Is not this clause pre- ferable?
– Why make it expensive for the person affected ?
– It is provided that the Governor-General shall furnish this Court.
– I take it, however, that the Government will not provide legal assistance for a man in such a position. ‘ According to clause 13, when a certificate of naturalization is revoked, the GovernorGeneral may direct that the wife and minor children of the person affected shall cease to be British subjects, and any such persons shall thereupon become aliens, but that, except where such a direction is given, the wife and children shall remain British subjects. Many persons during the war were interned and subsequently deported, and in the case of a married man, his wife had to decide whether she would remain in Australia, and fight out the battle of life for herself . and children, or accompany her husband.
– She was practically invited . to break her marriage vows.
– That is so, and I can remember the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) - the latest convert to Nationalism - making a great speech in this Chamber in opposition to that proposal. We are, however, making a similar provision in this Bill.
– That does not apply to wives who at birth are British subjects.
– That is so; but the Bill makes it lawful for the wife, within six months after the date of the revocation, to make a declaration of alienage. She may say whether she prefers to remain here or accompany her husband. In the case of deportations in the past, many of the wives would have preferred to remain here, but decided if their naturalized husbands were sent away, to go also to a land quite foreign to themselves and their children. Naturalization papers were taken away from people who had been interned for no crime at all. In my opinion, this is “ panic” legislation.
– Cannot you deal with the Bill on its merits without dealing with the history of the past?
– If there had been no history of the past, there would be no Bill before us.
– At the present time the Minister can denaturalize any person without Court proceedings or inquiry of any kind.
– I would rather trust the Minister for Home. and Territories (Mr. Poynton) with that power than I would some of his colleagues. But I presume he is referring to an authority which is vested in him under a War Precautions regulation. We ought to deal with this Bill on its merits in its relation to the principal Act.
Last night the Minister was putting up a plea for certain inhabitants of Turkey-in-Asia, to whom he thought consideration ought to be extended under our immigration laws; but I well remember in the past certain honorable members extolling the virtues of the Young Turkish party. I do not think many of the men who fought on Gallipoli would do so.
– There is a clear distinction between residents of Mount Lebanon and the Young Turkey party.
– There is; but I do not think we should pick out one particular section of Asia and treat it differently from any other part of that continent. We should simply apply the education test to all alike. The Bill, which I say is one that has emerged from the aftermath of the war, instead of widening the scope of naturalization narrows it.
– It widens it in some respects.
– Yes, in regard to securing Empire naturalization, but narrows it in regard to the revocation of naturalization certificates.
– That is not so.
– I cannot agree with the Minister on that point. The power which he possesses at present to revoke naturalization certificates is given to him under the War Precautions Act, and not under a Statute agreed to by this Parliament. However, it is hopeless to have the Bill amended to make it more acceptable. We had an illustration last night of the futility of submitting amendments when honorable members opposite had the numbers to support the Government to retain in a Bill a fine of £100, or imprisonment for six months, for the offence of travelling without a passport, even though the offender might be only sixteen years of age. I think that this Bill will operate harshly on a number of people we profess to be anxious to help. However, I hope the time will come in Australia when we shall realize the errors of the past and adopt more humane legislation in regard to naturalization.
.- This is a very important Bill. I was sorry to hear the Minister (Mr. Poynton) say, although he said it very politely, that he hoped it would not be amended, an intimation, I suppose, on his part, that he did not propose as a representative of the Government to agree to any amendment unless it was forced upon him by the House. However, as the measure is one that ought to be amended, I propose to move certain amendments. Apparently the Government have slavishly followed the precedent of the British Naturalization Act. In fact, every time this question is under consideration here we are coolly told that, because of international complications which might possibly arise, our discretion in this matter is limited by what has already been done by the Imperial Parliament. On every occasion when I have had the opportunity of doing so, I have either moved for a liberalization of the law in this regard, or urged it upon the Government, and it is rather curious that, while we follow with almost literal accuracy the precedent set by the British Legislature, we insist at the same time upon our rights as a Commonwealth to grant or withhold certificates of naturalization. It is significant that at this time in our history Australia is insisting upon its right as a nation. It is even to be remarked of those who worship the fetish of Imperialism that they are claiming, in connexion with the League of Nations and our diplomatic representation in other countries, a status for Australia scarcely less than that of an independent nation. It will be remembered that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), at the Peace Conference, insisted that Australia should be a signatory to the Treaty, although, of course, for the purposes of peace and war the Empire was but one. And the fact that, as a. Commonwealth, we were signatories to the Peace Treaty is one reason, and a very strong reason, why the adoption of the Treaty and the Covenant of the League of Nations has been so displeasing to a very large section of the American public. ‘ While, on the one hand, the Imperialist is urging the status of Australia’ as a free nation, and, on the other, the true Australian asserts, for different reasons and other motives, the standing of Australia as a practically independent nation, nevertheless in connexion with this matter of natura.1lization we are simply adopting as a schedule to the Bill one large section of the Imperial Naturalization Act, and adopting it in a single clause.
The first matter of principle to which I wish to direct the Minister’s attention is the status of women, because it is in that regard that a great deal of dissatisfaction and indignation have been engendered among the people of this country, and particularly, of course, among the women of the Commonwealth. While the status of women has been generally improved in all enlightened communities, including Australia, while in regard to her rights to make contracts and to own property she now enjoys privileges equal to those possessed by the mere man, it is worthy of note that in connexion with naturalization we are still pursuing the antiquated policy of bracketing her with lunatics and idiots, as in the definitions contained in this Bill. The fact is, there is no logical reason for that at all. It is not just, and it is not logical. I. remember, of course,
– Then is there a dual citizenship in the United States?
– I do not, of course, know what is the view of the Government of a foreign woman’s country of origin, but that is a matter upon which I shall have something to say a little later. In Ecuador the nationality of a married woman remains while she lives in that country, and in Venezuela and Hay ti a native married woman retains her nationality in all circumstances. Under one clause of this Bill there is provision that where a certificate of nationalization has been revoked the Governor-General may by order direct the wife and minor children, or any of them, of the person whose certificate has been so revoked to cease to be British subjects. Such persons shall thereupon become aliens. Except . where the Governor-General makes such a direction, the nationality of the wife and children of the person denaturalized will not be affected by the revocation in the case of British subjects. A further clause in the Bill dealing with the position of women provides for the case o’f an alien of a country in a state of war with His Majesty. Where the wife was at birth a British subject, she may make a declaration that she desires to resume her British nationality! That is in the case of an alien losing his nationality, whether he wills it or not, by reason of the fact that the country in which he was born is at war with Great Britain, in which case the wife may, on the recommendation of the GovernorGeneral, be granted a certificate of naturalization.
The Bill makes some advance in one particular - it liberalizes the existing law to the extent that in Australia we are to recognise a certificate of naturalization granted by a Minister representing the Imperial Government, and that is something which we have never done before. We were isolated, so far as naturalization laws were concerned, and the most recent case in point was the notorious Jerger case, where it was established beyond all doubt that Father Jerger was a naturalized British subject, according to the Imperial law, but where it was not established that he had become a naturalized subject according to the Australian law.
– Is not that case sub judice?
– Even if it were, in discussing this Bill, I might make a passing reference to it, as I am not dealing with its controversial aspects. I can, of course, understand the Minister’s interest in this matter. We have taken a curious step in this Bill in that we have increased the period of residence necessary in this country from two to five years; and I regard that as a retrograde movement. We are supposed to encourage the white races of the world to come to this oountry. W’e are known to he in dire need of increased population in the Commonwealth. We claim to he willing to. open our doors to any respectable member of the white races of the world who is willing to come here, adopt our mode of living, and submit to our laws. Notwithstanding this, we are, telling the world that if a foreigner desires to come to Australia, he has to reside here at least five years before he can receive the rights, precarious as they are, incidental to naturalization.
– Or spend the preceding four years in any other part of the Empire.
-Yes; either here or insome other part of theEmpire.
– That gives him a certificate that is Empire-wide in its operation.
– That is altogether immaterial to my argument, which is directed to the case of those desirable immigrants who may wish to come to Australia from foreign lands. If the Minister would take the responsibility of saying that we do not want foreigners in’ this country, I would be enlightened to hear such a declaration of opinion. But when we remember that this refers to non-English-speaking people, and even to English-speaking foreigners such as Americans, I would join issue in any such declaration, and say that we do want reputable persons from all the white races of the world who are ready to come here and populate this country of ours. If the Minister depends for the successful peopling of this country upon those who are representatives of the British race alone, we are looking forward to many decades of insufficient population in the Commonwealth.
– The Government are making it more difficult for Frenchmen to become naturalized.
– Yes; the people of one of our Allies, with whom we formed such close and friendly relations, and whose virtues we extolled from the housetops
– And they deserved it.
– Yes - are now told in this Bill that their welcome to this country is tempered by a much greater precaution than was the case before the war. It is a bad advertisement for Australia.
– Has the Labour platform changed on that point, too?
– I do not think the honorable member will find anything in the Labour platform inconsistent with what I am saying in this regard. I do not think he will find anything in our platform calculated to discourage immi-. grntion within reasonable limits and on sound lines.
– It may not be in the Labour party’s platform, but it is in the speeches of its members.
– It is not in this speech, and perhaps the Minister will be prepared to quote the representatives of Labour in whose speeches it is. I am not aware of anything binding the Labour party, and the question now is: What is the Government policy in this regard as disclosed in the Bill!
– What we have aaid is that we are not in favour of bringing people here under false pretences.
– We have said that repeatedly. We have said that we have no desire to flood thelabour market in congested cities while rich land-owners withhold land from its proper use. We should be heartily in accord, however, with any scheme of immigration providing for the peopling of unsettled country by men who would be ideal settlers.
– Ask leave to continue to-morrow.
– If there is no objection I do that.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Poynton) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
Mr.RYAN (West Sydney) [10.62].- I ask the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) if he can explain the reason for the Lan’d Ordinance of 1919, which prohibits transactions of any nature whatever in real property in German New Guinea? The matter has been brought under my notice by residents of those parts, who are at a loss to know the need for prohibiting transactions in real property between British subjects, whatever may be the law applied to foreigners. I, too, am unable to see why such an Ordinanceshouldbein force. It must cause great inconvenience. If the right honorable gentleman cannot answer my question to-night, I hope that he will give me the assurance that he will answer it at the earliest moment possible.
– I shall ascertain the facts to-morrow. Personally I know nothing about the Ordinance referred to.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.54 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 October 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1920/19201027_reps_8_94/>.