8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister whether the report of the Basic Wage Commission has yet been received, and, if so, what is proposed tobe done in regard to it?
– The report was handed to me yesterday afternoon, and I have not yet completed the reading of it. A statement regarding the whole subject will be made onbehalf of the Government as soon as possible this week, and the House will be given an opportunity to discuss the matter before it rises for the Christmas adjournment.
– Can the Prime Minister make a statement regarding the effect of the negotiations concerning the dispute in the coal trade?
– I have been in communication with the council of the Coal and Shale Miners’ Federation, to whom I have made a suggestion which I hope will be the means of bringing the parties together, and settling this unfortunate dispute. I am unable to say how that suggestion is viewed by the federation, but, as Mr. Baddeley has informed me that he will be in Melbourne to-morrow, I hope that a modus vivendi may be found.
– Is there any truth in the statement which has appeared in the press that the Commonwealth Government intends to go on the London money market for a lean?
-I am not prepared to answer the question.
– In view of the great congestion in the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, will the Prime Minister fix a date for the proclamation of the Arbitration (Public Service) Act, so that the Arbitrator may take up his duties, and that the hearing of the disputes in which Public Service organizations are concerned may be expedited ?
– At the request of the public servants, wo are advertising for applications from persons wishing to fill the position of Arbitrator. It was suggested to us by the Public Service that public servants should be allowed to apply for the position, and as we thought that fair, we agreed with the suggestion. I am not sure when the time for the receiving of applications closed, if it has closed, but directly we have selected, an Arbitrator, the Act will be proclaimed, so that he may proceed.
– In view of the many fine post-offices, north, south, east, and west, will the Postmaster-General remove the abomination at the corner of Elizabeth-street and Little Bourke-street, and have the main Melbourne Post Office completed, as I am sure it would have been completed had it been in Sydney?
– I shall consider the matter.
Bill presented (by Sir Joseph Cook) and Tead a first time.
– In view of the congested state of business in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court, unconnected with Public Service appeals, is it the intention of the Government to, appoint a Justice to that Court ?
– The matter is a little complicated, because Mr. Justice Powers is absent from the Commonwealth, and I do not know, officially, when he will return, nor am I aware whether he is prepared to continue as Deputy President of the Court. I am also unaware of the date on which Mr. Justice Higgins proposes to resign. The appointment of new Justices is materially affected by those facts. The Government is considering how. manynew Justices will be required, and when it is able to satisfy itself on the two points to which I have referred, it will immediately make the appointments necessary, whether one or two.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs if he is aware that sugar can be purchased in New South Wales, 12 lbs. at a time, for 51/2d. per lb., and that 70-lb. bags can be obtained for less than that by the general public, although in Victoria the general public can buy only half-a-pound or a pound at a time? Will the Minister see that the Victorian public is treated in the same way as tho Now South Wales public?
– I do not think it is a fact that sugar can bc obtained in Sydney in the manner stated, because the last advice from that place was that we are 1,800 tons short on deliveries of orders there. As I have said repeatedly, as soon as we have in Australia a sufficient quantity of white sugar, which will be within a few days now, all orders will be delivered to the full extent.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister, in the absence of the
Minister for Works and Railways, whether it is true that the Federal Government has made its choice of the personnel of the Committee which will advise the Ministry regarding the development of the Capital site at Canberra, and whether it is correct, as reported, that the members of the Committee are Mr. Owen, Director of Public Works; Mr. Goodwin, Surveyor-General ; Mr. Griffin, the original designer of the Capital ; Mr. Sulman, a retired Sydney architect; and Mr. de Burgh, an engineer in the New South Wales State Service?
– I am unableto answer the honorable member’s question. I must ask him to address it to the Minister for Works and Railways.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General whether, where money has been subscribed by residents of country districts towards the cost of extending the hours of allowance post-offices, and an amicable arrangement has been made with the allowance postmasters concerned in regard to tho amount to be received bythem for these additional hours of service, he will allow the arrangements so made to come immediately into operation, instead of holding them in abeyance pending a review of the allowances to be paid by the Department?
– I will do whatever is possible to expedite the extension of the hours of such offices.
– I desire to ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether, during the recess, you will join with the Speaker crf the Legislative Assembly of Victoria in taking into consideration the desirableness of at once converting into a children’s playground the anything but orderly or well-kept reserve on the north side of these buildings?
– It is an eyesore.
– It is. We have had the occupation of these premises and the surrounding grounds for over nineteen years, and if the State will not bear the cost of putting the north reserve in order, the Commonwealth should do so.
– The control of the grounds is under the supervision of the Joint House Committee, and I shall consult with Senator Givens, President of the Senate, who is Chairman of that Committee, in regard to the matter. I think it well to state now that certain offers were made to the State Government-
– An offer of £1,500.
– Under which it was proposed that a sum of money should be expended by the Commonwealth Government to put the ground in order, and to remove the present eyesore by converting it into an ornamental reserve. A scheme, together with plans of the suggested lay-out, was submitted to representatives of the State Government for approval. Unfortunately, that proposition has not yet met with the sanction of the State Government, and under the terms of our occupancy of these premises, all we are called upon to do is to maintain the grounds in the same order and conditionthat they were in when we entered into possession. Mr. President and I are anxious to remove the eyesore referred to, and. if the State Government will take up an attitude different from that which they have so far adopted in regard to this matter, we shall be very pleased to carry out the work of improvement.
Arrangements for Shipping Space
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs state whether any information has yet been received in reply to the inquiries made relative to the space that will be available for the shipment of fruit to England during the coming season?
– No definite information is yet available. I made representations to the British Government some considerable time ago as to the probable prospects of the crop, and asked them to make such arrangements as would enable us to lift as large a quantity of fruit as possible. That and other matters relating to the de-control of fruit and the price in the event of control being con tinued have been the subject of communications with the Imperial Government for some time, but I am not yet in possession of any definite information to give the House.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of his statement of the 5th August last that the Bill to provide for the election of a Federal Convention to discuss the alteration of the Constitution would certainly be introduced and put through both Houses before Parliament adjourned this year, can he say on what day the Bill will be circulated?
– At the request of honorable members I have arranged to receive a deputation in Sydney next week regarding this question. I am afraid it isnot now possible to pass the Bill this session.
Supplies for New South Wales, Queensland, and Tasmania
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the Ministerial statement given to, the newspapers that 15,000,000 bushels of wheat had been ear-marked for supplying New . South Wales, Queensland, and Tasmania, will he state-
What quantity of this wheat has been delivered to those three States?
What further quantity is it estimated will still be required by those States?
– I shall obtain the information asked for by the honorable member, and furnish him with a reply as soon as possible.
Education and Technical Training
asked the Acting Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : - 1 and 2. No; but provision has been made for the granting of an allowance up to £1 per week to the children of deceased and totally and permanently incapacitated soldiers between the ages of sixteen and eighteen years to assist them to undertake secondary or industrial education. (Vide Regulation 181.) The Government has at present under consideration a very liberal scheme for. the higher education of all children of deceased and totally and permanently incapacitated soldiers, and it is anticipated that an early announcement regarding this matter will be made.
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
-The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1. (a) Allotments to 449 towns in Queensland, involving the distribution of 70 guns and trench mortars and 430 machine guns, have been made by the Queensland State Trophy Committee. (b) Notices were sent to all towns affected, but up. to date only 124 replies have been received. These have all accepted the trophies. To expedite replies, the Committee has now informed the other towns that theiracceptance must be received by the 8th December, otherwise the trophies offered will be re-allotted.
I may add, for the honorable member’s information, thatthe despatch of all trophies to towns in Queensland has hitherto been held up pending the acceptance by the Queensland Government of responsibility for transport changes after the trophies have been placed onboard at Melbourne or Sydney, where they are now stored. The Queensland Government has now accepted responsibility, but has asked that ali trophies go forward in one consignment. The Premier has been asked to agree to monthly consignments, in order that the trophies may reach allottees promptly, instead of being held up until the final allotment has been made, as would be necessary if the trophies are to go forward in one consignment.
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
What has been the capital expenditure on Cockatoo Island Naval Dockyard since the Commonwealth took possession?
Mr. LAIRD (SMITH.- £1,322,272 to 30th June, 1920.
Turnover and Cost of Administration
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
New South Wales. - P. C. Basche, Messrs. Basche & Lowney, Sydney (merchant) ; C. J.
McRae, President, Primary Producers Union, Sydney; J. Mackey, Messrs. J, Mackey & Company, Sydney (merchant) ; W. H. Clifford, Manager, North Coast Co-operative Company, Byron Bay; C. E. D. Meares, Manager, Coastal Farmers’ Co-operative Society Ltd., Sydney.
Queensland. - W. T. Harris, Dairy Parmer, Toowoomba; T. F. Plunkett, Dairy Farmer, Beaudesert; A. C. Galbraith, Manager, Rural Industries Ltd., Brisbane; W. Purcell, Dairy Farmer, Greenmount
South Australia- J. W. Sandford, A. W. Sandford & Company, Adelaide (merchant).
Tasmania. -O.G. Norton,Dairy Farmer; M. A. O’Callaghan, Commonwealth Dairy Expert.
– On the 9th inst. the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham) asked the following questions : -
I am now in a position to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
The following papers were presented : -
Census and Statistics Act - Regulations Amended- StatutoryRules 1920, No. 221.
Norfolk Island - Ordinance of 1920- No. 3 Census.
Railways Act - By-laws Nos. 17 and 18. War Service Homes Act - Land acquired under, at -
North Wagga Wagga, New South Wales.
Willoughby, New South Wales.
Yass, New South Wales.
Sir JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta-
Treasurer) [3.20].- I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time. This is alittle Bill, of only one clause, with which I hope it will not take the House many minutes to deal. There is practical agreement on all sides as to the advisability of the proposed reform, which may be a little one to us, but is a big one to the poor, unfortunate blind people. Under the circumstances, the measurenight well be passed without debate. It is a proposal to permit a blind pensioner to earn an amount which, together with his pension, will give him the basic wage as determined from time to time in any State, including the rate now paid in New South Wales, namely, £4 5s. per week.
There is a distinction between these blind people and other pensioners, as shown by the fact of their being pensioners, who are more or less physically disabled, and are not able to stand up against the stress ana strain of life as other sectionsof the community are. I am particularly referring to those pensioners who may, in some sense, be considered as alongside the blind people - those who are pensioners because of some disease or other from which they suffer. The blind pensioners on the other hand, are healthy people who can and do marry, and have families. The marriage - of these people ought to be encouraged in a country like this, if we are to increase our population. They da all the other things that normal men always do - indeed, they have no disability but their blindness. That furnishes a reason, I think, for treating them in a category by themselves. There are only about 400 of these blind people in the whole Commonwealth, and only about 100 of these are in the various Institutions of the States. Altogether, it seems to me that this is a concession which they well deserve. It will cost in a full year about £15,000. and it will come to them as a nice little Christmas box. I ask honorable members to pass the Bill without delay.
.- I an- pleased that the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) has seen his way clear to introduce this Bill, which, no doubt, will, to an extent, relieve the disabilities under which some of the old-age and invalid pensioners suffer. I am sorry that the right honorable gentleman has not made “the Bill wider; but I know he stipulated that he would not introduce the measure unless it was confined to this particular matter. For that reason, I do not propose to transgress in any way on the understanding, which, at all events, he had in his mind when he introduced the Bill’. But I should like a little information in regard to one portion of the measure. I should like to know whether the amount that is not to be exceeded is to be the amount here mentioned as £221 per annum, or such other amount as is declared by any Act, or by any authority constituted under an Act, to be a basic wage for the portion of the Commonwealth in which the pensioner resides. Will this Bill enable the total amount of the wage to be raised to the amount of the basic wage, as recommended in the report of the Royal Commission, which is now in the hands of the Government ?
– It will, if it be proclaimed.
– That is exactly what I wish tc> know.
– You do not wish me to promulgate a new basic wage in this Bill?
– I do not wish the right honorable gentleman to promulgate anything, except, of course, the basic wage as recommended by the Royal Commission. Am I, then, to understand that the mere passage’ of this measure will enable the wage of the blind worker to be raised to the amount fixed by the Basic Wage Commission? Perhaps the right honorable gentleman will inform me by interjection.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
.- I think that, without appearing to be unreasonable, I may press the -question I raised on the second reading. I do not do so with any desire to embarrass the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook), but because, according to clause 3, the wage is fixed at a sum not exceeding £221 per annum, “ or such other amount as is declared by any Act, or by any authority constituted under an Act, to be a basic wage for the portion of the Commonwealth in which the pensioner resides.”
– That will always give the pensioner the advantage of the basic wage ruling.
– I quite understand that, but I wish to know whether the Government are going to stand by the finding of the authority which was constituted by themselves, and which was referred to in the speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) at Bendigo on 31st October, 1919. The Prime Minister then said -
The Government is therefore appointing a Royal Commission to inquire into the cost of living in relation to the minimum or basic wage. The Commission will be fully clothed with power to ascertain what is a fair basic wage, and how much the purchasing power of the sovereign has been depreciated during the war, and also how the basic wage may be adjusted to the purchasing power of the sovereign, and the best means when once it is adjusted of automatically adjusting it to the rise and fall of the sovereign. The ‘Government will, at the earliest date possible, create effective machinery to give effect to these principles.
If I aim rightly informed, the Treasurer is aware that the Royal Commission has made its report; we have been told so by the Prime Minister this afternoon. I do not know whether I am correct,, but I believe that the amount recommended by the Commission is as high as £5 16s. If that be so, why should we to-day - the very day on which the report is presented - give our imprimatur to the amount of £221 ? The matter may not strike some honorablemembers as it strikesme, but, seeing that the Government have the report in their hands, and that it is available for the Treasurer to see, would it not be much better, instead of fixing the amount at £221 - which means the New South Wales basic wage of £4 5s. per week - to provide that it shall be the amount recommended by the Royal Commission on the basic wage ?
– It would be a good way of finding it out.
– I do not wish to be misunderstood. I think it would be very unfortunate if the action of this Committee in approving of an amount of £221, in the case of blind workers, should be used against us or against the Public Service of the Commonwealth.
– The £221 is the highest wage fixed at the present time.
– But it is not as high, if I am rightly informed, as the amount recommended in the report handed by the Basic Wage Commission to the GovernorGeneral, which is now under consideration by the Government.
– If the report of the Basic Wage Commission is adopted, the blind workers will benefit to that extent. That is provided for in the Bill.
– Yes, if the report of the Basic Wage Commission be adopted.
– But there is something else to be done other than getting a report from that Commission. The Government may not adopt it. They may not introduce legislation to adopt it. If I thought that the Basic Wage Commission’s report would come into operation as soon as it is handed to the GovernorGeneral, I would let the matter go, and not trouble any further. Perhaps the Treasurer would give an assurance that that will be done?
– I certainly will not do so in connexion with a Bill of this kind.
– I am sure the Treasurer’s long experience in Parliament will convince him that, merely as a precautionary measure, I am amply justified in bringing this matter up even in connexion with this Bill, seeing that the decision of the Committee to-day in re- gard to the amount specified in this Bill may be used as an argument against the acceptance of the amount recommended by the Basic Wage Commission.
– Why use this Bill for the purpose of furthering your own ends?
– I am not using the Bill for the purpose of furthering my own ends; but I do not propose to remain silent when the Government are doing something which I think they ought not to do. I think they are doing wrong when they are getting the approval of this Committee for the payment of a standard of £221, when they have already an amount of £5 16s. approved by the Basic Wage Commission.
– That is to say, that you claim the Government are playing tricks with the blind men.
– I do not put it that way; but I think you want to get the approval of this Committee to a payment of £221, when you have in your possession a recommendation for a much larger amount.
.- If that is the way the honorable member proposes to behave, I move -
That the question be now put.
– Do as you like!
– I hope the Treasurer will not do what he proposes.
– I will not have motives imputed to me in connexion with a motion of this description.
– Does the right honorable gentleman move “ That the questionbe now put “
– No, I withdraw the motion.
.- The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) asked a reasonable question, but the Treasurer has looked at it in the wrong light. I am afraid the right honorable gentleman is inclined to be a little irritable on occasions.
– You are playing a poor party game when you make use of a Bill like this.
– No party points can be gained out of such a Bill.
– Party points are sought to be gained. An unworthy motive was attributed to the Treasurer.
– No attempt was made to score a party point, but there is certain information which honorable members opposite as well as those on this side would like to get. The proposition put forward by the honorable member for West Sydney was that this Committee was practically pledging itself to a sum of £221 when the basic wage, as recommended by the Commission, is close upon £300.
– Evidently the honorable member has not read the Bill.
Mr.FENTON. - If honorable members are under a wrong impression, the Treasurer can easily remove it by making a simple statement to the Committee.
– I have made it already. I have given every assurance, and I can do no more. The honorable member for West Sydney wants me to proclaim the new basic wage. I decline to do so.
– This Bill confers a great advantage on the blind. Surely the honorable member will let it go?
– Every one recognises that the Bill confers a great benefit upon the blind. Whatever our political animus may be, we cannot accuse one another of being divided in respect to conferring a well-merited advantage upon a deserving section of the community, but the sum of £221 is mentioned in the Bill, whereas the basic wage will be nearly £300.
– And the blind will get the basic wage if it is adopted.
.- Apparently the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) has entered the House to-day in a very bad humour. Perhaps a little persuasion might induce him to give the information desired. I understand that the contention of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Ryan) is that, although £221 is the standard wage at the present time, at some future time when we may be dealing with the basic wage, we may be accused of having given only £221 to the blind.
– The honorable member quite misunderstands the position. The honorable member for West Sydney suspects me of using this Bill as a means of fixing the basic wage.
– I said no such thing.
– The honorable member for West Sydney merely put a question to the Treasurer in order that his vote to-day might not be used against him later on. When the Treasurer was in Opposition he used every endeavour to corner the Government on matters similar to this, and I think the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was acting quite within his province in the query he submitted. At any rate, he was quite right in contending that the fact that £221 is set down in this Bill as the standard wage to-day should not be binding upon us when later on we come to deal with the basic wage.
– I have said so six times already.
– But what the right honorable gentleman has said has not impressed the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Will he give a definite assurance to that effect?
Clauses and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 19th November (vide page 6766), on motion by Mr. Poynton -
That this Bill be now read a second time. Mr. JAMES PAGE (Maranoa) [3.40]. - I am sure that the Government have made a very serious mistake in introducing this measure as an Immigration Bill. It is really an Immigration Restriction Bill. Every amendment of the principal Act which it proposes imposes some restriction upon immigration. Under this Bill a person may be suffering from any disease whatever, but so long as he pays a first-class passage he can came to Australia; while persons who desire to come here under the provisions of this so-called Immigration Bill must undergo a medical examination by an officer of the Commonwealth at the port of embarkation, and must answer a series of questions, some of which are outrageous. An intending immigrant, for instance, may be asked whether he has been insane within the last five years, or whether he has twice been insane during that period. I have never heard that any one who has been insane is willing to admit it after he has recovered.
– That is so, and a man might be forgiven for thinking that the Minister who could propose that an intending immigrant should be asked such a question must himself be insane. Honorable members will need to be very careful in the consideration of this Bill: We have recently been at war with several European countries, and the subjects of those countries are to be excluded from the benefits of this measure for twenty years, which practically amounts to the exclusion from Australia of subjects of those countries who are yet unborn. Sub-paragraph ge of clause 3 provides that the following persons may be excluded from the benefits of this measure -
For the period of five years after the commencement of this paragraph, and thereafter until the Governor-General by proclamation otherwise determines, any person who, in the opinion of an officer, is of German, AustroGerman, Bulgarian or Hungarian parentage and nationality, or is a Turk of Ottoman race.
– - The honorable member said twenty years.
– I made a mistake, but the provision I have read, it will be admitted, is pretty stiff.
– I ask the honorable member not to discuss the clauses of the Bill separately,
– I am referring to the matter only incidentally. If people of these countries are well conducted and of good character, why should we not admit them ? Every other country in the world admits such people, and why should Australia be the only country to exclude immigrants of alien nationality? In England to-day such people are admitted, and England also permits trading with them.
– They are not at present admitted to Great Britain.
– I saw a statement in the neswpapers recently to the effect that German firms are sending travellers to Great Britain to secure business for them.
– They may send their travellers to Great Britain.
– A man who leaves Australia for another country is no better and no worse an Australian if he happens to be a traveller. We should give these German subjects the same right to come to Australia as the
British Government gives them to enter Great Britain.
– The honorable member is referring to a trading proposition, but this is not a trading Bill.
– This measure should be called an Alien Restriction Bill, because that is what it really is. Under paragraph d of the proposed new section 8a it is provided that -
Where the Minister is satisfied that, within three years after the arrival in Australia of a person who was not born in Australia, that person -
Twenty years ago the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Poynton) would himself have been called to account under that provision. I have heard him advocating the overthrow of some of these officials, and I have helped to do it myself. We are not natives of this country, and if we left Australia at any time we might be prevented under the Bill from returning to it.
This is one of the rottenest Bills that was ever introduced into this House. Its purpose appears to be merely to impose all kinds of restrictions upon people desiring to come to Australia. I have no wish to see people who are anarchists, who want to overthrow Governments, or who will not obey the Government of the country when they are here, coming to Australia; but surely this Housewill not agree to such “ drag-net “ provisions as are contained in this Bill to prevent immigration. The words used in the paragraph I have quoted - or who advocates or teaches the unlawful destruction of property, or who is a member of or affiliated with any organization which teaches any of the doctrines and practices specified in this paragraph - may be construed in a thousand different ways to keep certain people out of this country. This is specially a Bill to deal with in Committee; but my purpose has been to direct attention to the necessity for its very careful consideration.
– I must again ask the honorable member not to debate particular clauses in detail. He has himself pointed out that this is a Commitee Bill, and in Committee he can deal with the various clauses in extenso.
– Surely I can make a reference to the clauses!
– An incidental reference only. The honorable member is not entitled to dissect and discuss the different clauses of the Bill on the motion for the second reading. In Committee, every opportunity is given for debating clauses separately and in detail.
– What I am most concerned about is that we should get back t<5 normal conditions as soon as possible. I remind the Government that in the Aliens Immigration Restriction Act they have all the powers that are necessary to enable them to exclude any undesirable person from Australia. Why such powers should be provided for in an Immigration Bill is beyond me. Under the Bill it is proposed that the Minister may appoint a Board to determine whether certain persons who were not born in Australia shall be deported from the Commonwealth. From the decision of this Tribunal there is to be no appeal. From my own knowledge of Boards that have been appointed by other Governments, I say, “ God help the man who hopes to get justice from the Tribunal which is here proposed ! “ The Board will merely reflect the views of the Minister. I should like to know whether it will sit openly as a Court, or whether it will adopt star chamber methods. Its proceedings most certainly ought to be open to the public. In Committee, I shall do my best to insure that an accused person may be afforded an opportunity of cross-examining his accusers and of being properly defended.
Generally speaking, the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. James Page) objects to this Bill on account of the stringency of its provisions. I have been looking through our immigration laws from 1901 to date, and I find that every amending Bill brought forward has been in the direction of making those laws ware stringent. I was quite astonished to discover that in the Act of 1912, which was introduced by the party to which the honorable member belongs, every provision is as drastic as possible, especially in regard to matters of health.
– I say that we do not want unhealthy people here.
– Exactly. We do not want in Australia people who have either unhealthy bodies or unhealthy minds. The result of admitting the latter class might be to subvert our government. I cannot understand how the honorable member for Maranoa can consistently oppose the proposals which are embodied in this Bill. I quite agree that the measure is chiefly one for consideration in Committee. But there are one or two matters connected with it to which I desire to direct attention. I think that some definite meaning should attach to every clause in an Act of Parliament. In paragraph b of clause 3 of the Bill, it is proposed to amend section 3 of the principal Act by inserting after paragraph ge the following paragraph: - (gd) any person who advocates the overthrow, by force, or by violence, of the established government of the Commonwealth, or of any State, or of any other civilized country, or of all forms of law.
One can understand the use of those words, because they are very definite. Any person who advocates the things mentioned in that paragraph ought to be regarded as an undersirable immigrant, and ought to be excluded from the Commonwealth. But my objection is to the inclusion of the words immediately following, namely, “ or who is opposed to organized government.” I cannot support the retention of such words in a Bill of this character. There are many persons who come into the country, and who are known as “ philosophic anarchists “ - men who do not believe in any form of government whatever. If they hold these views, the Bill provides that they are to be kept out of Australia. But it will first be necessary to ascertain who they are. I can quite understand the exclusion of persona who advocate a certain course of action which is detrimental to the best interests of the Commonwealth. But it would be absolutely futile to attempt to deal with people who hold theoretical views in regard to forms of government. In Committee, therefore, I shall move for the exclusion of those words. I think that clause . 7 of the Bill is also capable of amendment, but I shall not deal with that matter now.
– I agree with the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. James Page) that, to a very large extent, this is an Immigration Restriction Bill. I am one of those who think that there are two aspects to the question of immigration. Australia is in dire need of immigrants.
– Which of the classes whom it is proposed to exclude from the Commonwealth would the honorable member admit?
– We should absolutely prohibit the introduction of undesirables. I go all the way with the Government in that matter. If honorable members will take the trouble to read the up-to-date history of the United States, they will find that American writers are pointing out that the influx of undesirables into the country during the past twenty-five years is creating a difficulty quite as formidable as is the negro question there. Whilst the. immigration to the United States for many years was of a desirable class, it is recognised by all American students and writers that, during the past quarter of a century at least, there has been an immigration into that country of a class which is wholly undesirable. We do not want that class here. I go farther and say to any person who is not satisfied with this country, “ There is an open world before you.” Even at the risk of being misunderstood, I think that we are too severe upon the Germans here. I have always understood that when a war was over the British race regarded it as a thing of the past. Take any two ordinary Britishers, whether they be English, Irish, Scotch, Canadians, or Australians, and if they have a fight it will not be later than the second Saturday when one of them will say to the other, “ Well, old fellow, it was a good ‘ go.’ Come and have a drink.”
– That is a queer view to express, seeing that Australia lost 60,000 dead in the recent war.
– It must be admitted that, before the war, in every
State of Australia, the German was regarded as a good settler. In Queensland, South Australia, and Tasmania the Germans possess one great virtue in that they do not hang about our cities. Most of them went into the country, carved out homes for themselves, and made the best of settlers. If I had to make my choice between German settlers of a desirable class and some of these who were our Allies in the last war, I would take the Germans.
– Every time.
– I say that even at the risk of being misunderstood.
– You mean that you would rather take a good German than a poor type of man from another country
– Yes. We must have immigration in Australia. There is no question about that. The figures concerning the position in the far north are startling. If we draw a line from Cairns across Queensland to the Northern Territory and Western Australia, we would find that there had been an absolute decrease of from 25,000 to 30,000 white people since Federation in the very localities that constitute the weakest spot in our armour. I was pleased to hear the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), say the other day that immigration was to be one of the foremost planks in the new Government policy; but I make the reservation that we must be extremely careful not to admit to this country people who are likely to be a source of danger to it. After such a war as that through which we have passed there is likely to be an exodus of undesirables from the underworld of Europe, and it is only reasonable to provide against their entry into Australia. There is not one clause in the Bill that I regard as too stringent in this respect. We can breed quite enough criminals of our own without allowing undesirables from abroad to enter the Commonwealth. I hope the Government policy in this matter will be rigorously enforced.
.- I agree with the remarks made by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) in the exception which he has taken to the words “ or who is opposed to organized government,” as applied to immigrants to be regarded as undesirables under this Bill. It seems to me that a certain number of words have been supplied to the Draftsman by the Prime Minister and that a number of placards have been placed in the Bill.
– This is a copy of the American law.
– We find the words “ assassination “ and “ the overthrowby force “ of a Government, and other catchy phrases applied to persons who are looked upon as undesirables. These words are only so many placards intended to alarm some people, and to induce support for the measure. They are not necessary at all. Will the Minister affirm that we have no law to deal with any person who attempts the assassination of any public official or, indeed, anybody else? We have the Crimes Act, and a number of other Acts, to meet every situation that may arise. This Bill is merely a duplication of existing legislation ; it is merely an advertisement suggesting that we have been neglecting to take these reasonable precautions in former legislation, and that the country is open to the ravages of the worst classes of individual to be found.
Mr.Poynton.-This is an exact copy of the measure introduced by Mr. Glynn last year.
Mr.FENTON. - The Minister knows that what I say is in accordance with fact. Under this Bill, any persons who assembled to discuss their grievances after the passing of such a Bill as the Coercion Act by the Irvine Government would be guilty of an unlawful act, and perhaps charged with attempting to destroy organized government. The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. James Page) knows what happened in the eighties and nineties in Queensland. Every man who stood up for unionism in those days would, under this law, be regarded as opposed to organized government, and probably gaoled.
– Or deported.
– Yes, or deported. It might happen, if this Sill becomes law, that if a man says anything about those in power, his words will be construed as opposed to organized government, and he might be deported. I agree with the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Mcwilliams), that the outstanding trait of the British character is a desire to shake hands with an enemy after a fight. There may be many undesirables in Germany and Austria, just as there are undsirables in Australia; but because of this are we going to declare, in respect of the 70,000,000 people in Germany, that simply because they happen to be of German origin they are to be regarded as undesirables, so far as our immigration policy is concerned? What would have been the result if this policy had been adopted with respect to the Boers? The first Boer War was fought with great bitterness, particularly on the part of the Dutch in. South Africa, but after the second war the British Government magnanimously extended to the South African Republics a full measure of constitutional liberty, with the result that to-day one of the greatest champions of the British Empire is General Smuts, and some of the most stalwart upholders of British law are to be found amongst the conquered Boers. I am not saying that we should find just that kind of feeling amongst the people of Germany to-day; but 1 believe thousands of Germans would be glad to get away from their own country, and, if permitted to come to Australia, would prove very desirable citizens. It is better to have those people here, and to make them good fellowcitizens, so that some day, if it should be necessary, they might help us to defend their adopted country . It is better, too, to have them here rather than ‘that our great spaces should remain empty. S’ome of our most successful settlers, whose work has provided fine object lessons to all, are those who came here from Germany, or are of German origin. True, some of them allowed their racial feelings to get the better of their discretion during the war. But are we to remember that against them for all time? What did our soldiers do with their German enemies whom they took prisoner in the very heat of the fiercest days of the war, when it even seemed that the tide had turned against us ? Did our troops adopt any such policy of hostility as is displayed in this measure? It has been recorded over and over again that,even in those worst days, our boys would take their prisoners back behind thelines, and dispense their own comforts among them. They called them “ Fritz,” and gave them cigarettes. If our soldiers were prepared to fraternize in the midst of war, why should not the Government display a little of that same spirit now that the war is over, and we are on the right side of it? This measure is, with- out doubt, ari Immigration Restriction Bill. It ought not to have been given the title, “ Immigration Bill.” Indications at present are that, as an outcome of the Geneva Conference, the Germans will be admitted to the League of Nations. Even if such should not be the case, I venture to predict that, before two years have passed, Germany will be represented in the League. I sincerely hope so, for the safety and wellbeing of the world. What do the Government say in their Bill, however? For five years they propose to exclude all Germans, and Austrians, and Turks, and Bulgarians. What will be the feeling of the world at large five years hence if all that we hope for from the League of Nations has been brought about, and our former enemies are firmly at peace with us? Why should we shut our doors for so. long to desirable classes of new citizens? Should we not throw our doors open wide to the type of people we want ? I do not .advocate for one moment that we should offer a welcome to the offscourings of the world. In the United States of America, numbers of undesirables have undoubtedly found their homes there; and the same may be said, to a large extent, of Britain. It was written of London, before the war, that the heart of the Empire had become a sanctuary for all the disaffected people of Europe; They had had to flee from their own country because they did not believe in the system of government existing there.
– And their views, in many instances, were correct.
– They were. Reviewing legislation of this sort, one would think we were still in the midst of the great conflict, and had no knowledge of what its end might be. I do not see the necessity for this Bill. We have laws to deal with every class of offence mentioned therein. We complain every week of the costly growth of Federal . Departments; but if we pass unnecessary legislation, we assist in building up Departments still higher. If, with our present laws, we are adequately safeguarded, why should the Government introduce this Bill? It only supplies more work for more officials, and adds to the size and expense of one or other of the Federal Departments. Do the Government know or fear that people are actually endeavouring to get into this country with the object of assassinating the Ministry, or in the hope of over throwing the present form of government? If they have reason to expect, anything of the sort, have we not already enough’ laws to cope with the menace? I realize that Australia would be just as safe if this measure did not become law.
.- The honorable member who has just resumed his seat, and other honorable members who preceded him, have regarded this Bill as of a restrictive character rather than one to encourage immigration ; but I take it that it would be a very difficult matter for this, or any other Government, to frame a Bill which would be the means of increasing the number of immigrants coming to Australia. It is true that we need men and women in Australia, but we require men and women of the right type, and they can only be secured by reserving to ourselves the right to say who shall be admitted.
– The title in this Bill is misquoted, as it refers to the Immigration Restriction Act.
– If the honorable member refers to the 1912 Act, he will find that that has been altered. .
– The Acts were all consolidated in 1912.
– The honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page), in a speech a few days ago, compared the results in America with those of Australia, and quoted figures to show how the United States of America had increased her population on an average of 1,000,000 a year for some considerable time past. The honorable member, however, overlooked the fact that emigration to America has been carried out almost entirely by individuals or corporations, and the two principal agents were the shipping companies, on one hand, and the railway companies on the other. These commercial organizations had not the interests of America at heart, and simply endeavoured to get the largest possible number in order to benefit their shareholders. The railway companies were anxious to secure the services of men for construction work as cheaply as possible, and nowhere else could they be more easily obtained than in the crowded cities of Europe. The companies sent their agents to Europe to obtain men, many of whom were of a highly undesirable type. On the other hand, the steam-ship companies merely sought to fill their steerage berths with passengers, and when once they landed them on Ellis Island, their responsibility and interest ceased. As a result, America is to-day suffering from many ills from which she would have been saved if she had sought to safeguard herself as we are doing, by passing a measure of this character. It is true, as the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) said, that many of the people who flocked to America were of a highly desirable type ; but that was in the earlier days of immigration, when only people with courage and perseverance would leave the land of their ‘birth and go out and blaze the trail in the wilderness. Later, emigrants went from Central and Northern Europe to America, in total ignorance of the conditions prevailing, and they depended solely upon the information that was given them by the paid agents of the steam-ship and railway companies. They landed in great cities, and it was from that source that the shops and factories obtained their labour. They were used as a means for reducing wages, and I am sure we do not want that type of immigrant here. We are in need of desirable immigrants who are not anxious to settle in the cities, but who are prepared to go on to our vacant spaces and develop the country. There is room for people in all walks of life in Australia, and it is far better that we should obtain 25,000 or 50,000 a year of the right type than we should throw open wide the doors and admit all and sundry, regardless of whether their coming here would be for the good of Australia or not. I congratulate the Government upon having introduced this Bill, and I can assure them that it will have my hearty support.
.- Th<5 honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Bayley) has doubtless expressed the opinion be gained during a cursory trip to America. If the honorable member will peruse the immigration laws of the United States, he will find that the restrictions are very severe, because insane persons, or those suffering from diseases, are not permitted to land in America. A close perusal of the Act passed by this Parliament in 1912 will show that it follows closely the American law, and, as mentioned by the honorable member for
Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), our 1912 Act is sufficiently severe. The Bill we are now discussing is doubtless based upon the feeling of hatred and revenge that arose during the recent war, and is intended to prevent the landing in this country of those people who were our enemies, and of those who hold different views as to our form of government. If we had not any immigration restriction law there might be some justification for the Government introducing a Bill of this kind. In 1912, when the Government of the day introduced an Immigration Restriction Bill, honorable members opposite did their best to prevent it from becoming law, because they considered it too severe. I am strongly in favour of undesirable immigrants being prevented from settling in the Commonwealth, but I do not believe in adopting the measures suggested by the Government. The Bill, which appears to have been copied from the English Act, provides for the appointment of a Board ‘ to decide such cases as may come before it. If this measure had been law a few years ago, .1 venture to say that there are many of our most valuable citizens who would have been prevented from landing in the Commonwealth. I do not know whether I would not have been kept out of the country. In the land of my birth, we were always proud of the fact that if a man conducted himself properly, and obeyed the laws of the country, he could not be interfered with. In my young days I saw in London men like Thiers and Garibaldi, who had left their own country because they were in opposition to its form of government; but they were none the worse for that, and did not make undesirable citizens of Great Britain. Under the Bill a person might be refused admission to Australia who. was dissatisfied with the present Coalition Government of Great Britain.
– To what part of the Bill does the honorable member object?
– I am entirely opposed to legislation of this character. There is no need for the Bill, because the Immigration Restriction Act contains all the provisions needed to keep out undesirable persons. Should such persons evade the Act, and get into Australia, they could be punished if they subsequently disobeyed the laws of the country. This is panic legislation. Yet I know that I am wasting my time in objecting to it, because whatever is introduced by the Government will be passed by its supporters. The noble ideals of the nation from which we sprung are entirely ignored. I would like the Government, in this instance, to follow the example of Great Britain. Under the Bill an Irishman who proved a reformer, and since whose day the question has been a burning one in all parts of the world, would have been denied admission to Australia. Sir Henry Parkes, who had to leave England to save himself from getting into trouble with the Government there, would not have been allowed to land in Australia. The Government will be well advised if they let this measure be numbered with the slaughtered innocents of the session.
-Do you think that the unrestricted admission of aliens into the East End of London was to the advantage of the British workmen?
– My honorable friend is as ignorant about that matter as a baby. It was the employing class, which is the class behind this Government, that brought the Poles and other cheap labour to England, where they lodged under conditions which, as a young man, it broke my heart to see; and I did my best to put an end to what was going on. The matter, however, is one which I cannot discuss now. 1 protest against the Bill as absolutely unnecessary. The community is already protected against the admission of insane and diseased persons. Indeed, the objection taken to the measure of 1912, while it was under discussion, was that it followed too much on the lines of the American immigration legislation. The Bill does not accord with the noble spirit of the Australians, and will interfere with the progress of the country.
.- With the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West), Maranoa (Mr. James Page), Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton), and others who have spoken from this side of the Chamber, I am of opinion that the Bill is evidence that the policy of the Government is to restrict liberty as far as possible. I do not think that the Minister has shown that the existing immigration restriction law is not sufficient to keep our population of the character that we desire it to toe. This measure seems the result of a panic that has overtaken the Government, judging by the manner in which some of its clauses are framed. Some of these provisions have been referred to by previous speakers, and it is not my intention to reiterate their arguments, though I desire to indorse them, and more particularly the comments of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) with regard to the provision dealing with those opposed to organized government” - a very vague term.
– Under that provision a single taxer might be kept out of Australia.
Mr.RY AN. - That is so. It would depend largely on the character of the Administration in office as to what persons would be refused admission to Australia. That observation applies generally to immigration laws. Much depends on the manner in which they are administered, and that, again, depends largely on the character of the Government in power. Some of the clauses of the Bill are too drastic, and I hope that the Minister will show his willingness to have them amended in Committee.
– He will not alter a line of the Bill.
Mr.RYAN. - We may get him in an amiable mood, and he may be able to see matters less severely than he did when the measure was being considered by the Cabinet. The Bill provides that persons from the countries with which we were recently at war shall be prohibited immigrants for a period of five years, and for such further period as may be proclaimed by the Governor-General in Council. That is too drastic a provision. I understand that in the United Kingdom the period fixed is only three years. Why should Australia be more restrictive than Great Britain in regard to immigrants from former enemy countries? The views of the present Government are too drastic, and, I think, do not meet with the approval of the majority of Australians. In my opinion, the Prime Minister is the chief offender. He seems to have a rooted hatred of our former enemies, which is reflected in this legislation. The Government is too secretive as to its policy concerning countries with which we have lately been at war. Its views regarding trade with those countries are not in accordance with those of the majority of our population, and are not sensible views. Our commodities will pass from Australia to those countries, just as their products will reach us, whether we trade directly with them or not.
– What Great Britain does should be a good guide for us.
-Great Britain’s legislation may be a good guide for us in this matter. We are too restrictive. From what I have heard from persons who have recently been in Great Britain and France, the policy of this Government in regard to trading with former enemy countries is, on the other side of the world, considered ridiculous. It victimizes our own people by enabling persons in what were neutral countries, and in other countries as well, to set up as middlemen, and make profits at our expense. Why should we prohibit immigration from the Central European countries for a period of five years, if Great Britain says that a period of three years is long enough?
I rose mainly to protest against the generally narrow, restrictive policy of the Government concerning immigration generally, and more particularly the immigration of people of the countries with which we have recently been at war. We might, with advantage to Australia, modify the provisions of the Bill, with a view to restoring those friendly relations which, I am sure, we all desire to see fully restored sooner or later.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 -
Section 3 of the principal Act is amended -
.- Under paragraph ge of this clause, it is proposed to prohibit for a period of five years the immigration of any person who is of German, Austro-German, Bulgarian, or Hungarian parentage and nationality. We have already a very big population of settlers, originally from Germany, and their descendants down to the third and fourth generation. These people are naturalized, have made their home amongst us, and we now look upon them - at all events I do - as fellow Australians. It may happen that the nearest relative of a small orphan boy or girl living in Germany, where there has been a heavy death-roll during the last few years, is a naturalized settler in Australia, and that the natural guardian here would like to bring that orphan to Australia. No doubt the Minister has had such cases brought under his notice. I do not want any harsh restrictions to be put in the way of such a child being brought to Australia, where the natural guardians desire it, in order that it may be looked after, and become, eventually, one of our fellow citizens.
– Such a case would be dealt with specially. I have some cases of a similar kind now before Cabinet.
– in order to enable the Minister to deal with such cases, I propose to move that, at the beginning of the paragraph, the following words be inserted, “ Except with the permission of the Minister.”
– There is a prior amendment.
– Then I shall not submit my amendment until that referred to by the honorable member has been dealt with.
.- I move -
That the words “or who is opposed to organized government” in paragraph (gd) be left out.
I ask the Minister to accept this amendment. By doing so, he will strengthen the clause. No definite meaning can be attached to these words, and, even if it were advisable to enforce them, they would be very difficult of enforcement.
– These words were inserted to meet the case of certain persons who are opposed to all forms of government. I do not want to mention any particular body, but there is i ti Australia to-day a very act:ve militant party whose open boast it is that they are opposed to all kinds of organized government, and that they recognise no King, no Government, and no country.
– Who are they?
– The Industrial Workers of the World, for instance, openly declare that they recognise no Government. They have opposed the honorable member for West Sydney’s own party on those very lines. I ask the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) not to press his amendment, since these words have been inserted for a specific reason.
– Would the Minister b& prepared to amend the paragraph by substituting for the words to which I take exception, the words “ or who advocates the abolition of all organized government “ ?
– I have no objection to that.
Amendment (bv Mr. Maxwell) agreed to-
That the words “ is opposed to,” in paragraph Ind) be left out. with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ advocates the abolition of
Amendment (by Mr. Wienholt) proposed -
That, before the word “for,” at the beginning of paragraph (tie) the words “ except by the permission of the Minister “ be inserted.
Mr. POYNTON (Grey- Minister for Home and Territories) T4.55]. - I would point out to the honorable member that the Minister has already the power which he seeks by this amendment to provide. Under section 3 of the principal Act he has power to permit the entrance into the Commonwealth of any person possessing a certificate of exemption, and, that being so, there is no need to insert these words. I, therefore, ask him not to press his amendment.
– Paragraph ye of sub-clause 3 is one of the most dangerous provisions in the Bill. It provides that, for a period of five years, and thereafter until the GovernorGeneral, by proclamation, otherwise determines - any person who, in the opinion of an officer - mark the power given to an officer - is of German, Austro-German, Bulgarian or Hungarian parentage and nationality, or is> a Turk of Ottoman race - may be excluded from Australia. Under this provision the Australian-born son or daughter of any person of the nationality mentioned, who had been out of the country, could be debarred from returning to Australia. That would be a monstrous thing to do.
– Would the honorable member throw- down all barriers?
– No; but this interferes with the birthright of every Australian. The Government will allow persons of Asiatic parentage, born in Australia, who have been away on tour to come in at any time, and yet, under this provision, white men - men bora in Australia of German parentage would, in the same circumstances, be shut out.
– This clause would not prevent their return to Australia.
– I. am satisfied that it would. Even supposing there is not power under the Constitution to exclude such persons, what if the poor devils have not enough money to fight the Government in order to secure return to their own country? Surely we are not going to allow panic legislation to run riot?; Many of these people were brought out here; in Queensland special envoys were sent to urge them to come.
– A person born here is an Australian subject, and this clause does not deal with Australian subjects.
– The clause speaks of both “parentage” and “nationality.”
– A child is the same nationality as his parents.
– A person to be excluded must be a German national, and, if born here, he is a British national.
– If an immigrant’s parents are German or Hungarian, and he desires to return to this country after leaving it, he will not be admitted under this clause. In Queensland I know of two women and four men - one of the latter a grandfather - who were born in Germany, came out here as infants in arms, and have remained ever since.What would happen in their case? In my opinion, the grandfather could be excluded under this Bill.
– No, he would not.
– Is he naturalized?
– Yes, but naturalization would not save him. The way in which naturalized citizens have been treated here is shameful.
– This clause would not apply, if the man were naturalized.
– Could the clause not be put in different language so as to make its meaning perfectly plain ?
– It is plain enough.
– It is plain enough for the lawyers to make a few hundred guineas out of; and no wonder the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) and the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr.Ryan) say that it is all right.
– I think the honorable member should withdraw that suggestion.
– I shall, if the Minister will withdraw this clause. However, if the honorable member for Moreton is satisfied, I do not see why I should not be.
– I give the honorable member my assurance that the clause is all right.
.- If the Minister (Mr. Poynton) is quite clear that he has the power to deal with exceptional cases, I think we might ac- cept the clause.
– I have power to deal with all real cases of hardship.
– Nobody knows better than does the Minister what is fair and just in such a matter as this, and he might promise that he will give due consideration to all such cases.
– Each case will be dealt with on its merits.
– Under the circumstances, I ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
.- I move -
That the word ‘.’ five “ in paragraph (ge) be left out.
I submit this amendment with a view to providing for a shorter period. In Great Britain three years is the time, and I do not see why we should make it five, or according to the Bill, any such further period as the GovernorGeneral may by proclamation appoint. During that period, the residents of countries formerly at war with the Allies will be prohibited immigrants, and I do not think it is the view of the majority of the people of Australia that that should be so. I should like some information from the Minister (Mr. Poynton) as to whether he will favorably consider an alteration of the period. Perhaps he would be prepared to make the period until the Governor-General shall otherwise provide, but not to exceed five years.
– This provision is based on the recommendation of the Commission which dealt with aliens.
Mr.RYAN.- Still, I take it that we ought to be superior to that Commission; in any case, it is not a matter on which any expert knowledge is required.
.- If the Minister will not accept the amendment, I think the Committee ought to go to a division on the question. In Great Britain, the period is three years; and if that is good enough to. save the Empire in London, it ought to be good enough to save the Empire in Melbourne.
– I hope the Committee will accept the clause as it stands. There are yet quite a number of soldiers to return to Australia, and I am inclined to think they will be up in arms if we strike out this clause.
– Three years is long enough in the case of Great Britain.
– Great Britain is not in the same position as Australia. This clause, as I have said, is based on the recommendation of a Commission which went into the whole question.
– Who composed the Commission?
– I do not remember the names, but the whole question was dealt with.
– This clause, if passed, will fix the period of five years as’ from the passing of the measure.
– There is nothing to prevent the Government at any time proposing an amendment if it were thought necessary. I cannot accept the amendment.
.- Charity begins at home,” and the immigrants I personally wish to see come here are ex-service men of our own British nationality. These certainly should he given first choice;but when we are told that the British Parliament has passed a similar measure, in which the period is fixed at three years, I remind the Minister (Mr. Poynton), that, when he was introducing another Bill a little while ago, he impressed on us how very valuable uniformity in legislation was. If the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) will definitely state that he is moving the omission of the word “ five “ with a view to inserting “ three,’’ I shall feel inclined to support him.
– That is my intention.
– I hope the Minister (Mr. Poynton) will see his way to accept the amendment. We understand that in June next there will be an Imperial Conference, when, no doubt, legislation dealing with the war period, and post-war period, will be discussed. It may then be found that different portions of the Empire have been legislating on different lines on the same subject. I agree that uniformity, as far as practicable, is desirable; and, instead of our trying to prove ourselves more British than the British at Home, I think we should be erring on the right side, if at all, if we fixed the period at three years. I see no particular virtue in five years for this purpose. True it is that we all desire, first of all, people of our own kith and kin as immigrants; but if there are others desirous of coming to this country, why should they not be permitted to do so after the lapse of three years? It is quite likely that one of the instructions from the Imperial Conference will be that legislation should tend to uniformity as far as possible; and no doubt South Africa and Canada will follow the British example. Should that be so, and we pass this Bill as it stands, we shall find Australia standing alone.
– New Zealand has placed no limit at all.
– Which means, I suppose, that New Zealand, by administration, may admit such immigrants in one year. Unless my reading is altogether wrong, it is a fact that since the signing of the armistice, and particularly since the beginning of this year, German commercial travellers have been free to traverse the United Kingdom with their wares. In Australia, however, we find! America buying, and then the Germans buying Australian produce from America.
– That matter is not dealt with in the Bill.
– No ; but the prejudice exhibited in the Bill is disclosed in regard to trade. I am afraid that responsible British Ministers will laugh at us for passing such drastic legislation. If the Government were suddenly to declare that this Bill was unnecessary, and withdrew it, I should sleep just as calmly tonight as I did last night. Is the Minister bound by a Cabinet decision, perhaps arrived at by a small majority? Surely after free and open discussion of the matter, and after the intelligence of the Opposition has been brought to bear upon it, a Cabinet decision should not prevent the Minister from consenting to alter the Bill. We are all desirous of improving it. I would improve it out of existence if I could ; but here we are simply proposing to go no further than the British Government have done. Is the Minister still adamant ?
– I am.
– The Minister is evidently attempting to pose as a strong man; but, in my opinion, a strong man would admit that the arguments put forward from both sides were unanswerable and irrefutable, and would be prepared to concede a request that this legislation should be brought into conformity with that of Great Britain.
– I do not propose to delay the Committee ; but as I did not avail myself of the opportunity to discuss the peneral question of immigration on the second reading of the Bill, I take this opportunity of registering my opposition to the general principle underlying the Bill as embodied in the clause now under consideration. It is pretty clearly recognised that the crying need of Australia is a rapidlyincreasing population, and, indeed, upon this question rests our whole national wellbeing, as well as the White Australia policy, which is so very dear to the hearts of the people of this country. But as long as the present Government is in power, we do not “deserve to have a White Australia, and if the people persist in returning to this House men of the type we have in this Ministry, we cannot hope to retain it. The maintenance of a White Australia clearly depends upon the populating of the country by white men. If we are not prepared to use this continent in a sane way, we cannot expect for an indefinite series of decades to exclude the peoples of other races, whether they are at present pleasing to us or not. It is peculiarly germane to the consideration of this clause to note that Senator Millen is now at Geneva, taking part in a Conference under the League of Nations, discussing what our attitude of the immediate future will be towards those who have recently been our enemies, and at war with us, and discussing the whole of the present day international problems, as’ they present themselves to the representatives of the nations assembled at the Conference. Whatever is done there in the name of Australia may vitally affect immigration. Anything which tends to make us ridiculous or unpopular in the eyes of friendly, or unfriendly, nations will react on us in the matter of populating this great continent. Therefore, I am very sorry to see that Senator Millen is apparently among those reactionaries who want to carry on the deliberations of the Conference in accordance with the wornout and discredited practices of secret diplomacy - in the dark - and to notice also that he is likely to be among those who are persistenly opposed, two years after the war, to the admission to the League of Nations of those with whom we have recently been at war. Coming more closely to the purpose of this clause, I find that we propose to pursue an utterly foolish, and, in my eyes, malignant, vendetta against our late enemies, by preventing, for a period of five years, the admission into Australia of any of the citizens of those various belligerent countries. Already, under our White Australia policy, we have excluded millions, perhaps hundreds of millions, on the ground of colour - I am not attacking the policy - but, when we follow it up by excluding millions of highly civilized, efficient, and, on general principles, desirable immigrants from Central Europe, then, as I said at the beginning, whether we can retain a White Australia or not, we do not deserve it - under such conditions. The Minister has admitted that on this matter he is adamant. I am well aware that, by what I have said in this House more than once in regard to what our attitude should be towards these belligerent nations, I have not made friends, either politically, personally, or in any other way. It has not been a pleasant task ; it has not been a vote catching policy on my part; but I have felt it to be a public duty to declare that it is worse than folly to be pursuing this policy of creating and maintaining so long after the war a spirit of hate among the nations. That is what this legislation amounts to. It is only a policy of revenge. It is no safeguard. It is not put forward for our acceptance on the ground that there is any real, special danger in admitting those with whom we last fought, any more than there would be in admitting those with whom we fought before we fought those with whom we recently fought. For, at one time or another we have fought them all and cursed them all. We are a fighting race, as our friends opposite are so fond’ of boasting, and. later on, if our friends of the International Labour party do not prevent it, we shall be fighting again. We shall be turning all our weapons of poisonous propaganda against a new race and a new nation altogether. The whole thing is absurd. Nay, it is worse than absurd ; it is tragic. All that one can do, sitting as a member of a party which is in a minority, is to rise in his place whenever the occasion demands it, and protest against it. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) proposes to limit the period of exclusion to three years. Seeing that it is impossible to break down the determination of the Government to have some measure of exclusion, the honorable member naturally contends that at least we should not pursue the matter further, or put ourselves in a more invidious position, than the British Government proposes to do. The truth is, of course, that in all this international hate-mongering, which has been so evident throughout the world, Australia has always led the way, even as against the British Government. That Government has at least shown that it possesses a much juster conception of what is desirable amongst the nations.
– Hear, hear ! I am proud of my nation for that.
– The honorable member is so far, at least, right. As a rule, in this matter, or in kindred matters, the British Government has set us an example which, if not a really good one, is one by comparison which we might have followed, but which we have not followed. I should be very glad indeed if this absurd restriction were removed altogether. After five years of blood and slaughter, and two years of the so-called peace which has followed after the signing of the armistice; after the declaration of peace, and the final ratification of it, T should -be very glad to think that our Government really meant what it said when it declared that we were at peace with the world so far as it could make it so, or that, at all events, it proposed - it cannot be contended that there is peace in the world, because there is not - officially and formally, as far as possible, to create a state of peace among those between whom’ this tragic war has been going on for so long. I am opposed to this time limit altogether.
– So am I.
– This foolish, absurd, and illogical barrier ought now to be thrown down. Our ports should be opened to decent men, good colonists, law-abiding people. We want such men here in all their numbers. I do not say that undesirable degenerates should be admitted.
– The honorable member was prepared to throw down all barriers and let them come in and take this country.
– I never rise in my place to speak without discovering that if the Minister for Home and Territories happens to be at the table, and finds himself incapable of, or unwilling to, make a rejoinder which is logical, reasonable, or justified by the facts, he. is always to be depended on to make some incorrect and insulting observation. He knows that what he has just said is quite alien to the facts. Not very long ago I had occasion to require him to withdraw in this Chamber a similarly insulting observation. There is, however, always this advantage in saying that kind of thing : It is a passport to the votes of the class of persons from whom the Minister derives his right to sit in this Chamber. His interjection is circulated amongst his constituents, and the persons on his side who return ham to this Parliament will continue to do so so long as he says that kind of thing. It meets with no favour from1 the people who return Labour men to this House, and, who believe in a policy of international justice.
I am not in favour of admitting undesirables or degenerates into this country. Neither am I in favour of artificial barriers being raised against the admission of persons against whom no just objection can be urged. We are now discussing a particular aspect of the clause, but I am opposed to the whole of it. It raises barriers against persons who advocate the overthrow, by force or violence, of - the established government of the Commonwealth or of any State, or of any other civilized country or of all forms of law, or who advocate the overthrow of organized government. Of course, I believe that persons who are in favour of -the overthrow of government by force should get busy by force, and not bother talking about it.
– I remind the honorable member that the Committee has already dealt with that point, and he should confine his remarks to the amendment.
– Very well. The amendment proposes to reduce the period of exclusion to three years. It is all that we are likely to obtain, if, indeed, we are to’ secure even that concession, and I hope that the Committee will at least go that far in removing these absurd barriers.
Bill presented (by Mr. Hughes), and read a first time.
– (By leave). - I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Honorable members will recall that on several occasions expression has been given to a desire that’ the War Precautions Act should be repealed’. Speaking recently, after making some more or less flippant observations about the King of Hungary, I said that I trusted that peace with Hungary would be ratified, and that the proclamation repealing the War Precautions Act would then issue, or failing that, that legislation would be introduced by which the Act would be repealed. Since then Hungary has ratified the Treaty of Peace; but the essential preliminaries to the automatic repeal of the Act by proclamation having been delayed, the Government has introduced this Bill.
Clause 2 of the Bill repeals the War Precaution’s Act, and the Bill proceeds to make statutory provision to deal with certain matters over which the Commonwealth must still necessarily exercise authority. I shall endeavour to explain those as shortly as possible.
The first is coal. The War Precautions Coal Regulations comprised in the Statutory Rules set out in clause 3 of the Bill will continue in force. This is essential in order that the Commonwealth may still exercise that control over coal which is desirable, and without which, indeed, the award recently made would be of little, if any, avail. It is necessary in order that we may exercise during the transition period that con trol over the distribution of coal that some of the States of the Commonwealth deem to be essential until they are themselves ready to take over control of the matter.
Clause 4 deals with wharfs, and prescribes that Statutory Rule No. 79 dealing with wharfs shall remain in force.
Clause 5 gives authority to the Commonwealth to do all those things in connexion with wheat and other primary products to which this House has from time to time given its approval. With out its authority it would be impossible for us to do our part in connexion with the Wheat Pool, and to provide machinery for advancing the guarantee, and to make arrangements with the banks in regard thereto. It is proposed to extend this power of control, not only to wheat, but to all primary products. It may be necessary to take similar action in regard to the control of other things than wheat, and, if so, this clause will give the Government power, subject to the approval of Parliament from time to time, to do so.
Clause 6 deals with companies, firms and businesses. Honorable members are aware that for some considerable time past the Commonwealth has compelled companies desiring to register in this country, or companies registered here desiring to secure new capital, to obtain the approval of the Treasurer. The clause applies only to foreign companies, or companies whose shares are held by persons other than natural-born British subjects, or whose principal operations are outside the Commonwealth. In all such cases, the consent of the Treasurer is required for the issue of capital, for the disposal of assets in foreign countries, or the removal of the registration of a company from Australia to another country. Companies in which aliens have more than a one-third interest, are not to be allowed, without consent, to acquire a mine, or carry on a mining or metallurgical business, nor is an alien to be allowed, without the consent in writing of the Treasurer, to acquire any share in an Australian company. All this, I think, is very necessary, and it is merely the continuation of a policy that has been in force for .some years.
I come now to clause 7, which deals with an entirely different matter. This clause is designed to prevent the entry into the Commonwealth of disloyal and disaffected persons. An officer may require any person before he is permitted to land in the Commonwealth to make and subscribe an oath or affirmation in the form set out in the schedule to the Bill, which reads as follows: -
I, A. B., do swear that I will be faithful, and bear true allegiance to the King, and will loyally as in duty bound uphold the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia established under the Crown of the United Kingdom. So help me God !
No doubt there is room for a difference of opinion upon this matter, but it is surely fitting and proper that the Commonwealth should have the right to exclude persons whose object is to stir up disloyalty, and to create disaffection amongst the citizens of the Commonwealth. Any person who is suspected of having that design will be required to take that oath. If he does not take it, he will be deported. If, having taken the oath, he is found by a competent tribunal to have violated it. he will also be deported.
The next clause deals with unlawful assemblies, and. is designed to give statutory effect to those War Precautions regulations which were introduced some years ago, for the prevention ofcrowds assembling within the precincts, and within the immediate neighbourhood of this Parliament, with the intention of overawing and disturbing its deliberations. It does no more than give the same statutory power to this Parliament that is already enjoyed by all State Parliaments.
For all practical purposes, clause 9 repeats the provision in the New South Wales Crimes Prevention Act, No. 80, of 1916. It makes it an offence to incite by words or writing the commission of offences against Commonwealth law. At the present time, it is not an offence to incite the commission of offences against Commonwealth law, although it becomes so if an offence is committed. The person who, having incited its commission, may then be indicted as an accessory before or after the act. Clause 10 deals more particularly with the offence of sedition, and has been taken from the Queensland Criminal Code, which has been in existence for about twenty years. In order that honorable members may. better understand the matter, I take the liberty of reading the clause, all the provisions of which, save two, have been taken with such verbal emendations as to make the words apply to the Commonwealth in place ofthe State, directly from the Queensland Criminal Code. It provides that -
These things shall be evidence of seditious intention. The provisions which are new are those set out in paragraphs c and e. In order that honorable members may realize that this clause will not prevent that adequate ventilation of grievances by lawful means which is essential in a free country, I invite their attention to sub-clause 2 of this clause, which reads -
It shall be lawful for any person -
These provisions will give ample freedom to the citizens of this country to obtain redress of all grievances, and to secure by lawful means any reforms which they may deem to be necessary. The clause provides the usual penalties. I have not looked at the penalties imposed under the Queensland Criminal Code, and consequently I am unable to say whether they are more severe than are those prescribed by this Bill, or whether in effect they are the same. Clause 12 deals with loans, and provides that public bodies and trustees may invest in Commonwealth loans. It also empowers banks to make advances to their employees for the purpose of investing in such loans. Clause 15 forbids the publication of statements calculated to prejudice the raising of Commonwealth loans. Clause 16 continues the Council of Finance established by regulation, statutory rule 207 of 1910. This Council of Finance is now in existence, and it is desired, in the best interests of the Commonwealth, to continue it. Clause 17 requires the agents of oversea companies and firms to register certain particulars with the Comptroller-General of Customs. The remaining provisions of the Bill are of a miscellaneous character, and may be very briefly touched upon. Clause 18 provides that no person without the consent of the Treasurer shall deface or destroy, by melting or otherwise, any gold coins which are British coins within the meaning of the Coinage Act . 1909. Clause 19 sets out that -
Any person who is guilty of any offence against this Act for which no other penalty is provided, shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding One hundred pounds, or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months, or both.
Clause 20 provides that the GovernorGeneral may make regulations not inconsistent with this Act for the purpose of carrying out the Act. I shall not detain honorable members at any greater length. The Bill speaks for itself. It repeals the “War Precautions Act, and makes statutory provision for certain War Precautions Regulations which are essential for the good government of this country. Upon a fair review of the measure, I think it will be admitted that it does no more than ought to be done either in repealing the War Precautions Act or barring the entry into the Commonwealth of those undesirables who wish to disturb the harmony and goodwill of our fellow-citizens or dealing with sedition. I commend the Bill to the House, and I trust that without any very protracted debate it will be approved. As it is a measure of some length, I have taken this opportunity to move its second reading, and I now wish to intimate that it is not proposed to continue the discussion upon it to-day. I shall set its further consideration down for to-morrow. It may be reached to-morrow, but possibly it may not be reached until Wednesday. If, when I resume my seat, the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) will move the adjournment of the debate, it will be granted.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Ryan) adjourned.
Consideration resumed, vide page 6789.
.-I wish to make it perfectly clear that, although I have moved for the omission of the word “ five,” with a view to the insertion in lieu thereof of the word “ three,” I desire even a shorter term of restriction than three years. I have moved for that reduction only because I am hopeful of obtaining sufficient support to enable me to bring the Bill into conformity with the British law upon the subject.
Mr.Considine. - What has become of the uniformity mongers?
– We shall see when the division bell rings.
– I appeal to honorable members not to support the amendment, and I tell them honestly that I would be ashamed to meet returned soldiers of this country if I were to agree to it.
– What about the British Parliament?
– There are hundreds of thousands of British soldiers-
– Do not try to workoff that “ tripe “ on us now. It is too late.
– It is all very well for the honorable member for Batman to say that.. I cannot forget that 60,000 of our manhood were sacrificed in the war, and I am not prepared to cut down the period as proposed by the amendment, and thus allow our late enemy subjects to come in and compete on equal terms with (he men who defended it.
– That is not what the result of the amendment would be.
– The honorable member for Batman can say nothing. He did nothing to save this country during the war. I do not forget that on one occasion he said that if he were on Gallipoli, and a rifle were put into his hands, he would refuse to shoot a Turk.
– Anyway, what has that to do with this Bill?
– It has a good deal to do with it. If I understand the feeling of honorable members aright, they are not going to listen to the appeal of those who refused to do anything to save this country from German domination. It is all very well for the honorable member for Barrier to laugh.
– I am laughing because you are so childish.
– He has to thank the fathers and mothers of those 60,000 brave lads of ours who lost their lives to save this country that he is able to-day to occupy his seat in a free Parliament.
.- I would not have spoken on this clause but for the remarks of the Minister (Mr. Poynton). It appears to me that he wants to be enlightened on certain matters, and particularly in regard to his appeal to the sentiments of the fathers and mothers of soldiers who lost their lives in the war. His views are not shared by the soldiers of Europe. They resenthis sentiments. The ex-soldiers of the continent, totalling in all about 5,000,000, and including ex-soldiers of Great Britain, France, Germany, and, indeed, all combatant countries, have formed an International for the purpose of making war impossible in the future.
– That is quite a different matter.
– These soldiersBritish, French, and German - have combined in one international organization, and have issued a proclamation calling upon all who participated in the struggle to go a little further than the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) or I have gone. They have asked their members to throw on to the scrap heap all the crosses and medals issued to them by the various Governments, and to take an oath that never again will they be utilized by any Government to take up arms against their fellow-men in any country, no matter what flag flies over it. I say to the Minister -
– Does the honorable member say that 5,000,000 soldiers have taken that pledge?
Mr.CONSIDINE.- Yes; and if the Treasurer wants my authority, it is Foreign Affairs.
-How many Australians are in that association?
– I do not know. The Minister must be aware of these facts. If he is not, he is not in a position to criticise what I am saying. If he is aware of them, he must indorse my statement.
– I do not believe it.
– Then I shall take the earliest opportunity available to me to place the facts on record in this House.
-I am not disputing the honorable member’s word. I do not doubt that he has read it; but I do not believe the statement.
– One of the leading figures of the International ExSoldiers Association is Henri Barbusse, the writer of Under Fire; another isCaptain Romani Rolande, a leading French literary authority.
– A beautiful idealist; a dreamer!
– Rolande may be a beautiful idealist, and, as the Treasurer suggests, he may also be a dreamer. But these men fought throughout the war, and are pledged to use their endeavours to induce the people in every country of the world not only to forget the late war, with all its hatreds and prejudices, but also to get rid of all insignia and honours conferred upon them, such as the Legion of Honour, the Croix de Guerre, and every other symbol of merit awarded in connexion with the war.
– Order! This discussion is entirely out of order. I allowed the honorable member to reply to a personal reference by the Minister, but he is now elaborating the subject. He must confine himself to the amendment.
– Very well, Mr. Chairman. I only desire to say that if these men who fought during the war are now prepared to hold out the hand of friendship and to fraternize with their late enemies, the Minister’s appeal’ to the natural affections’ of the mothers and fathers of Australians who were killed in the struggle should be ruled out of Court. Their feelings should not be exploited merely to secure the defeat of the amendment.
.- The bitter feeling that is evinced in this House every time the war is discussed’ is, I think, the strongest argument in favour of a time limit being fixed against the introduction to Australia of erstwhile enemy subjects.
– But why still cherish hatred ?
– The honorable member for Batman is one of the worst offenders in this House when any matter affecting the war is under discussion. His lips seem positively to drip gall whenever he talks about the attitude of Great Britain in the war. During the war feeling ran very high. We found workmen refusing to work alongside men of enemy origin. It was a source of constant trouble. And now we are told, by honorable gentlemen on the opposite side of the House, the war being over, we should allow erstwhile enemies to come to this country, and not insist on Germany making reparation. But we are suffering the aftermath of the war. The consequences of the war will be felt for many a long day to come, and bitter memories will certainly be retained for a long time by people of German origin. If such men as the honorable members for Batman (Mr. Brennan) and Barrier (Mr. Considine) resent Great Britain’s treatment of Germany, how much more will German nationals resent that treatment? So, if we allow them to come to Australia, there will always be the possibility of trouble until, at all events, the bitter feeling engendered by the war shall have passed away. The honorable member for Barrier suggests that this Bill represents a spirit of revenge. It does nothing of the kind. It is purely a protective measure.
– A little for revenge, and a little for votes.
– It is not being submitted in a spirit of revenge at all. To hear this talk, one would almost imagine that the honorable member, and those who think with him, are full to overflowing with the milk of human kindness, and that honorable members on this side of the House are animated by a spirit of hatred. I resent that. We have no feelings of revenge. This Bill simply represents an ordinary common-sense precaution in the interests of good government and peace. We say that, until the feelings generated by the war have died down somewhat, we must postpone the immigration to this country of erstwhile enemy nationals. I hope the Committee will support the clause.
.- It is curious that the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) should have overlooked the fact that the amendment is designed to give effect to the policy of Great Britain, and with the object of bringing our law into conformity with British law. Though the honorable member is loyal to Britain to the core, and resents that my lips should be dripping with gall, as he described it, in respect of Britain, when it becomes a matter of prolonging ill-feeling due to the war, he prefers to foster Australian hatred of our late enemies, instead of following the British policy of conciliation. It is very curious that the honorable member should have taken the trouble to point to the ill-feeling that existed in this country during the war, the international hatreds that were developed, propagated, and maintained while the war was on, and should then have argued, as a consequence, that we should now give effect to a policy which prolongs the very thing that he pretends to deprecate in relation to the past. I hope I do not forget the precise purpose of the clause under discussion, because it is one which is closely related with the war, and with its consequences. During the currency of the war, we had to listen to outpourings of bathos such as has just fallen from the lips of the Minister (Mr. Poynton) ; and it is a fact that, as part of the policy of hatred, that kind of stuff was undoubtedly effective during those five long tragic years; and as the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) says, it is effective even to-day. To-day this policy of revenge divides this House, and is responsible for recriminations among ourselves - reflecting that greater measure of ill-will which we are endeavouring to develop on the other side of the world, Because the war is past, I do not want to revive the unpleasant state of mind which necessarily followed from the performance of the duty which rested upon public men to express their views firmly and courageously. It is because the war is past, and long past, that one cannot help protesting strongly against the introduction of a measure which seeks to perpetuate this mental disease in time of peace. Therefore, while there is nothing by any means revolutionary in the amendment; while it is mildness itself - for if one tried to give effect to the real views of the Labour party in this matter it would be impossible to do so in the present temper of honorable members opposite - in the small hope that we may soon return to an equitable, and therefore a normal, frame of mind,- I shall, at any rate, support it. The mere bandying about of insults concerning what we did, and what honorable members opposite did, during the war, can carry us no further. We, at any rate, acted consistently with our expressed opinions, and we did not sit in soft, safe places urging others to do the fighting while we did the talking.
,- It would be, perhaps, an impertinence to suggest that the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) has, to a certain extent, missed the point. I thoroughly agree with the honorable member regarding the danger of doing anything to keep alive ill-feeling. But his remarks, and those also of the Minister (Mr. Poynton), would be more appropriate if by this amendment we were proposing to wipe out the whole clause, or even the subclause. In such circumstances I could understand the Minister’s speech; but we are not proposing anything of the sort. The amendment is designed merely to bring our legislation into line with the British law. I personally repudiate the remarks of the Minister when he says that one is apt to forget the effects of a war such as that through which we have lately passed, and that one is prone to fail to keep in mind the very heavy losses which we incurred. The amendment does not propose to permit citizens of those countries with which we were lately at war to come into Australia unrestricted; but we should now lay down a perfectly good policy upon these lines, namely, that in regard to matters of trade, and everything else, that which is deemed good enough for the Home country should be accented as good enough for us. We followed the Home country into the war. Surely, then, it would be rather anomalous that those of us who believed we acted rightly by so doing did not believe also that we would be right in following the British example with respect not only to trade and commerce, but also in regard to restrictions upon immigration. Surely no suggestion of disloyalty could be reasonably levelled against us for our consistency. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), and the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine), must, of course, be responsible for their own views upon the clause and the amendment; but I hope that the tone which the discussion has taken will not influence honorable members against judging fairly upon the merits of the argument. Our desire is to bring the Commonwealth legislation into conformity with the British law; and that, to my mind, is the sole purpose of the amendment.
explain this measure during the second reading debate. As honorable members know, I have only just returned from Sydney, where I have been for the past fortnight in connexion with my duties as a member of the Public Works Committee. I did hear him explain this clause, however, and his arguments failed to convince me. If his remarks to-day were in keeping with those which he uttered when he moved the second reading of the Bill, it would seem that I did not lose much by my inability to hear them. The Minister has now said something to the effect that he would not be able to look a returned soldier in the face if he were to accept the amendment. It is rather unfortunate that, after having expressed such an opinion, the second speaker following the Minister should have been himself a returned soldier, and that he should have had to tell the Minister that he does not interpret .the true feelings of returned men upon the issue. However, it is not to the Minister that we look for an interpretation of the views of returned men, but t0 those who actually did the fighting. According to my reading, the clause does not limit the restriction to five years. It may be possible for citizens of former enemy countries to be debarred from entering Australia for a matter of twenty-five years. I draw the attention of honorable members to the phrase, ‘ ‘ until the Governor-General, by proclamation, otherwise determines.” If, by any conceivable chance or misfortune the present Government were to continue in office for another twenty-five years, this immigration barrier could remain for the same period, or for so long as the Government thought they could make use of the restriction for political purposes.
– They may be damning the French by then, and blessing the Germans.
– Yes. Before then, one . of our late enemies might be our firmest ally, and one of our present allies might be our hated enemy. On the last occasion when I heard the Minister (Mr. Poynton) speaking in this Chamber he was. addressing himself to the Nationality Bill. He then employed the argument, respecting the naturalization of aliens, that Commonwealth legislation should be framed in conformity with the British law. Now, however, he turns right round. It does not suit the convenience of the Government that our immigration . restriction legislation should coincide with the British Statute, which provides for three years. Both Great Britain and France have entered into trade with Germany. We stand alone in the Empire in our insistence upon keeping the sore open; worse than that, we are rubbing salt into the wound. We are the only people who are continuing to promulgate the gospel of hatred.
– But our hatred goes only so far as to refuse to buy things from Germany. We would not hesitate to sell anything that Germany would buy from us.
– The big traders of this country - out for profits all the time - would not hesitate to trade with Germany, even in time of war, if they were free to do- so. Hatred is being perpetuated in Australia because we have at the head of affairs a gentleman who, for political purposes, does not want to lose this or any opportunity to trade to his advantage upon the passions of the people. A returned soldier in this House has told the Minister (Mr. Poynton) that if the Government fall in line with the British Act their decision will not be cavilled at by returned soldiers.
– I have my own opinions about that.
– They are not fanatics. They fought because they deemed it their duty to do so; but they do not believe in perpetuating a feeling of hatred.
– I have not very much to add to what I said before the dinner adjournment, and, unless the Minister in charge of the measure is in a different mood to what he was then, it is practically useless proceeding. It seems strange that there are people who are quite prepared to trade with countries which, two years ago, were our enemies, but, at the same time, are willing to penalize the people of those countries by making the period two years longer than even the British Government consider necessary. Even the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), the other day, in reply to a question by the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) said that he was quite in favour of trade being again undertaken with Germany, and would no longer offer any resistance to our crossbred and other wools being sold to that country. It is interesting to recall that, at the termination of hostilities, the Prime Minister said he would never consent, under any circumstances, to trade between Australia and Germany being reopened. But two years has evidently had an effect even upon the Prime Minister, and he now indicates that much of the old bitterness has died down, and he is prepared to reverse the decision he then gave. Purely for political purposes - I say it deliberately - he is willing to sanction a clause of this character which will not permit those people who proved themselves to be admirable settlers to come to Australia within a period of five years. The amendment simply provides that the term shall be reduced from five to three years, which would bring the Bill into conformity with the British Act, which was a strong argument the Government used in connexion with another measure recently passed by this Chamber. We are simply asking the Committee to do what the mother of Parliaments has already agreed to, and, if the British Government are satisfied, surely this Government should be.
.- - I cannot understand why the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Poynton) is not prepared to accept the amendment. If Great Britain, which is so close to our late enemy countries, considers that three years is sufficient,’ why should Australia, which is 12,000 miles distant, and part of the same Empire, insist on a longer period? It would ap- pear from statements that have already appeared in the press that France is already becoming somewhat apprehensive as to the action of the British Government at the Geneva Conference. The following paragraph appears in to-day’s Age:-
Mr. Lloyd George, interviewed by the London correspondent of the Petit Parisien, for the purpose of removing the unfavorable impression in France regarding Great Britain’s attitude to German)’, declared that Great Britain would stand shoulder to shoulder with France in exacting reparations from Germany. “ The French must not think,” the Prime Minister said, “ that I have become their enemy because I pursue a business course. It is necessary to investigate to ascertain how much Germany can pay before the Allies fix the amount.”
The following paragraph, from a special representative of the Sydney Sun at the Geneva Conference as to the division of nations assembled on the question of whether Germany should be admitted to the League of Nations, appeared in Friday’s issue of that paper: -
Behind the Scandinavian group who favour Germany will be found South Africa, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, most of the South American republics, and smaller States. Probably Britain will lend its support, and it is believed that Japan and China will follow Britain’s lead. The French group, which is undoubtedly the strongest in the Assembly, is vigorously opposed to Germany’s entry, and is supported by Belgium, Portugal, Poland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Czecho-Slovakia.
That shows clearly that there is a great difference of opinion even amongst the Allies at the Geneva Conference. If that is the attitude of Great Britain, I cannot understand why we should support such a proposal as this, as one would expect the same kind of prejudice there as exists here, particularly when they are so close to German territory. I firmly believe that the German Government with which we would negotiate would be totally different from what it was in the past, because I believe the Junker class has gone forever. I wish I could say the same concerning every other country in the world, because this class is responsible for all wars. I too, believe that there are many people in Germany who would make good citizens if they came to Australia, and we should not restrict them unnecessarily. The Minister seems adamant in regard to this proposal, which, after all, is a reasonable one, and is strictly in accord with what has been done by the British Parliament.
Question - That the word “ five “ proposed to be omitted : stand part of the clause - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 19
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the clause, as amended, be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 23
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 (Certificates of Exemption).
.-I do not know precisely how this clause will read with the provision of the original Act which it amends, but I understand the intention to be to impose on the owner or charterer of a ship that has brought here a prohibited person who has happened to enter the Commonwealth, the obligation to provide a passage for him back to his own country. As I object to the provision of the original Act, and as this clause is designed to give fuller effect to that provision, I am opposed to the clause. I do not think that an obligation of this kind should be imposed on the owner of a vessel or his agent, or on the vessel’s charterer. I do not think that a person should be sent out of the country under the circumstances provided for, and I certainly do not think that it should be competent for the Government at any time within three years after a person has been brought to the country by a shipowner or charterer in good faith, and in the ordinary course of business, to impose on that ship-owner or charterer the obligation of taking him back to his own country.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 5 and 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 (Deportation of certain persons).
Clause verbally and consequentially amended.
.- I move -
That the following words be added to the clause : - “ 8b. - (1.) A national of any country who, in pursuance of any treaty to which the Commonwealth is a party, is liable to be returned to that country, may be deported from the Commonwealth to that country pursuant to any order of the Minister. “ (2.) The master, owners, agents and charterers of any vessel shall, when required so to do by the Minister or any person thereto authorized in writing by the Minister, provide a passage to any port to which the vessel is bound and such accommodation as the Minister, or any person thereto authorized in writing by the Minister, thinks fit for any person ordered to be deported from the Commonwealth in pursuance of the last preceding sub-section.”
This provision has been framed to meet the case of a man deported, say, from German New Guinea to Australia, so that arrangements may be made for his deportation from Australia to the country of his origin. There is not imposed on any vessel that is not going to that country the obligation to carry a person there, and the owner or charterer of a vessel will not be required to give a passage at his own cost to any person who may be deported. The cost will be defrayed either by the Government or as may be determined later.
– The Minister (Mr. Poynton), in explaining this amendment, has said that it is designed to cover the cases of persons sent from, say, New Guinea to. Australia, with the object of deporting them from here to Germany. That is not my reading of it.
– That is its object.
– The amendment proposes that -
A national of any country, who, in pursuance of any Treaty to which the Commonwealth is a party, is liable to be returned to that country, may be deported from the Commonwealth to that country pursuant to any order of the Minister…..
I take it that the words “ in pursuance of any treaty to which the Commonwealth is a party “ would refer to a treaty made between Great Britain and some other country to which the Commonwealth was a party. For example, a provision of this kind would have applied to the Italian nationals who were here during the war if a treaty existed between Italy and Great Britain.
– The memorandum I have on this subject is that the amendment will give the Minister power to deport German nationals whose repatriation has already been decided upon by the authorities administering the colonies, and who are sent from New Guinea for deportation by the first suitable steamer.
– That may be the intention of the clause; but the wording of it is certainly wider, and would enable deportations of the kind to which I referred to take place. There might be a treaty existing between Great Britain and Italy to which the Commonwealth was a party, and under this provision the Minister would be able in such circumstances to deport Italian nationals to Italy in pursuance of that treaty. The amendment is wide enough to permit of that.
.- Honorable members sitting in the Opposition corner, unfortunately, can never hear anything that the Minister (Mr. Poynton) says. I do not think he cares whether we hear him or not; but it does make it unpleasant when one cannot hear his statements on a question of this kind. So far as I can understand the amendment now submitted, the object of it clearly appears to be to legalize future acts of the kind that were unlawfully carried out by the Government in connexion with Italian nationals. It will be remembered that these men were seized without the form of law, and in breach of the general practice obtaining in British communities. They were sent overseas, and many of them lost their lives; but, so far as I am aware, no compensation has been paid to their relatives or to any of the persons who were grossly wronged in connexion with that sorry business. I wonder what is meant by the words in this amendment, “ is liable to be returned to that country.” Apparently, any man whom the Government are pleased to designate an alien, whether he is an alien or not, is liable, if the previous practice is followed, to be returned to the country of his origin. That part of the amendment is to me somewhat obscure. I gather generally, however, that the intention is in the future to cover up with the form of law that clearly unlawful and wrongful course of conduct, which in the recent past was pursued by the Government. Public attention has been called to it, and it is sought now by a kind of ex post facto manoeuvring on the part of the Government to give an appearance of lawfulness so far as any future acts of the kind are concerned to what is now recognised to have been an unlawful proceeding. I cannot take great exception to this belated recognition by the Government of its past wrong-doing. Indeed, I rather welcome it, in so far as it is clearly an admission, and take the opportunity to put on record my appreciation of the fact that arguments on this matter have evidently not been without effect.
Amendment agreed to.
Question - That the clause, as amended, be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 22
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause8 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Standing Orders suspended; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
.- I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I ask honorable members to put this Bill through all its stages at this sitting. It is a very short and simple measure, which does practically nothing more than give power to frame regulations for the control of air navigation.
– All will be done by regulations.
– It will all be done by regulations.
– Good old regulations!
– At the present time there is no law in Australia to control air navigation.
– Then why not submit a law?
– That is what the Government intend to do later on, when we have gained some experience in civil aviation’. At present there is nothing to prevent persons flying any machine they like, no matter of what brand or make; there is no power to insure that the machines shall be, I cannot say seaworthy, and, therefore, I suppose I must say airworthy. Further, there is nothing now to prevent the owner of any machine taking hire from passengers for flights, and this, of course, is a real menace to the public; neither is there any law to compel the possession of certificates of competency by those who fly machines. The object of the Bill, as I say, is to take power to frame regulations for the control of all such matters, and it will be followed later on by a more comprehensive measure, dealing with civil aviation. The best man to be found in Australia will be appointed Controller of Civil Aviation, with a seat on the Air Council, with which he will act as general advisor. This Bill will not interfere in any shape or form with civil aviation enterprise. If ever Australia has to take part in defensive operations, an air service, in my opinion, will be one of the principal arms employed; and the encouragement of civil aviation will result in saving the country huge expenditure.
– Does the Minister contend that the Commonwealth has power to interfere with other than Inter-State aviation?
– Yes; at the recent Premiers’ Conference, the Premiers, on behalf of their States, agreed that that power should be given to the Commonwealth.
– The power cannot be transferred unless the State Parliaments agree.
– The Premiers of the States have agreed to put measures through their several Parliaments giving the necessary powers with two reservations. One reservation is that ordinary police powers shall be allowed to the State police, and the second that the States may possess their own machines. The reason that the control of aviation is left to regulations is, as I said before, that we have not had experience enough yet to enable us to frame proper laws; but the regulations to be adopted are those which were arrived at by a Convention held in Paris, at which the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) represented Australia. The following are the countries which have assented to the regulations then framed : - The United
States of America, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, the British Empire, China, Cuba, Ecuador, France, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, the Hedjaz, Honduras, Italy, Japan, Liberia, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Roumania, the Serb-Croat-Slovene State, Siam, Czechoslovakia, andUruguay - practically all the countries in the world. If these countries are satisfied that these are the best regulations that can be devised at present, I think we in Australia may also be satisfied. Some of the regulations, of course, may not be applicable to this country, but that is a matter for future consideration. I shall not trouble honorable members by reading the regulations, but simply say that they provide for certificates of air-worthiness, and so forth. There is nothing in the Bill to necessitate lengthy discussion.; and I ask honorable members to bear in mind that it will not in any way affect the Air Force Bill which will be introduced, not this year, but next, to deal with our Military and Naval branches of the Air Forces. Of course, the Military and Naval Air Forces will have to conform to those regulations, such as flying at a certain altitude over crowds, and so on.
– Who will administer the Bill?
-The Air Council will advise the Government, and on that Air Council there will be an Administrator of Civil Aviation to be appointed by the Government. Applications have been called for the position, and the desire of the Government is, as I said before, to obtain the services of the best available men in Australia, giving preference to returned soldiers and sailors.
– What Department will administer the Act?
– The Defence Department.
– Will that Department administer civil aviation also?
– Yes. Civil aviation will come more within the military than the naval sphere. The fact that the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) has introduced the Bill is sufficient answer to the honorable member’s question. Those who saw what could be done by aeroplanes during the war realize that it is all-important that Australia should have an effective air force, and one way in which it can obtain it is by giving every possible encouragement to civil aviation. This Bill does not interfere with or restrict enterprise in civil aviation. It simply gives power to make regulations for the safety of the public. Accidents have occurred quite recently through aviators flying low over crowds, and unless air traffic is regulated in some way, there may be more serious accidents.
– Has the Commonwealth Parliament control over civil aviation?
– The only thing which would prevent the Commonwealth from having control over civil aviation would be the objection of the States; but they have all agreed to pass the necessary legislation giving the Commonwealth control over aviation.
.- The fact that the State Premiers have agreed to give us this power does not mean that we have the power. The State Parliaments must first pass the necessary legislation.
– They have all promised to do so.
– They promised a lot of things in the past that they have not carried out. Twelve or fourteen years ago they promised to pass uniform industrial legislation, but they have not done so. They promised to give the Commonwealth increased powers, but they have not done so.
– Without this legislation, there may be a tragedy.
– I realize it, and I quite believe that there should be one controlling Parliament in this, as in other matters, and that that controlling body should be theCommonwealth Parliament. If the States are not likely to interfere with our control, and . are prepared to pass the necessary legislation giving us this power, the sooner they do it the better.
– We cannot operate this measure unless they give us the power.
– Every State Parliament is sitting at the present time, but some of them are about to conclude their business, and may not meet again until July next. If they go into recess without handing us this power, we shall be in exactly the same position when we pass this Bill as we would be in without passing it. I hope the Minister (Sir Granville Ryrie) can let us know how many aeroplanes are owned by civilians in Australia.
– There is a great number of them, but I do not know exactly how many there are.
– Nor do I. The Minister surprised me, and I presume many others, when he said that at present a man can go up in the air without being possessed of a certificate of competency. The driver of a motor car is required to have a certificate of competency. I thought the Defence Department were issuing certificates of competency to air pilots, because when I was at Point Cook at the invitation pf the late Mr. Basil Watson, who wanted me to see his machine, there was a man qualifying for his pilot’s certificate.
– He was probably in the military service.
– No. He was a civilian. Does the Defence Department issue certificates to civilians who are qualifying for military positions?
– Yes, if they are endeavouring to get billets under the Defence Department.
– In this case, I understand, the man had no intention of securing the billet under the Defence Department, but was merely anxious to let it be known that he had attended a course of instruction at Point Cook qualifying him to make a flight. He was a motor car driver, and I understand that, because of their knowledge of mechanics, motor car drivers make the best aviators. Unless certificates are issued, the public will always be in danger. I am a frequent visitor to a seaside place about forty miles from Melbourne. Last year, the Melbourne Herald, partly to advertise itself and partly to allow visitors at Sorrento to get the Herald at night, which otherwise they could not do, sent an aviator right down the east side of Port Phillip Bay. One afternoon, when he was landing at Mornington, the crowd overran the landing ground, and he, finding that he could not make a landing at the pre-arranged spot without injuring some one in the crowd, made for what he thought was a suitable ground on the other side of the railway line; but he came into contact with a telegraph wire, with the result that the son of a prominent Melbourne man who was accompanying him was killed. That accident was occasioned by the crowd. One reason why we must have active cooperation with the States is the fact that the control of crowds must rest with the State police. In another accident in Adelaide, which was not due to the crowd, the propeller of a machine cut off a boy’s bead. Other accidents have occurred elsewhere. Another reason for cooperating with the States is the necessity for providing landing grounds.
– That is all provided for in the regulations.
– Unfortunately, I have not seen the regulations. I am game to say that 5 per cent. of honorable members have not seen them, or had an opportunity of reading them.
– They are very complete.
– I am prepared to admit that they are, but we ought to know what we are doing. The conditions in Australia might differ from those obtaining elsewhere. However, I see no reason why we should not pass the Bill as early as possible, and get active co-operation with the States, but I think that the Bill ought to state distinctly what Minister is to control it. Otherwise, the control of aviation may be transferred from one Minister to another, and honorable members may not know to what Minister questions or complaints should be directed.
– This is a skeleton Bill, but we have become accustomed to government by regulations. However, I welcome the introduction of the measure. Aviation is quite new to all of us ; but every thinking person will admit that unless something is done to secure the control of the air, or what would be” called on land “ the right of the road,” we shall wake up some day and find that some terrific accident has occurred. We have been very close to it on some occasions, more often than some of us would care to think of. There is only one Department which can administer a measure like this, and that is the Defence Department. Necessarily it must have a Department to control its cwn air-craft, and no one would desire to create a secondDepartment to deal with what, after all, will be a very small affair once these regulations are put into operation. We do not know anything about aviation, and it is well for the Minister (Sir Granville Ryrie) to consider whether it would not be wise to place & time limit in this Bill, so that the whole subject will come up for reconsideration later on. I do not think there will be the slightest difficulty in getting the co-ordination of the States. A small Bill giving the Commonwealth Parliament the control of the air could be passed in a couple of hours by each State Parliament, and as all the State Houses are now in session, . there should be no difficulty in this respect. With little management and careful handling much closer co-ordination could be achieved between the Federal Government and State Governments in many directions. It only requires a little give and take to meet the requirements of the different States. The State Premiers have already promised to introduce the necessary legislation in regard to bestowing upon the Commonwealth Parliament the control of the air, and I do not see any reason for doubting their ability to carry out their promises. In fact, I do not think there is a single State that will not be only too glad to get rid of its responsibility in this matter. The defence of Australia from .aggression will largely depend on our air-craft, and the only way in which a country like this can maintain an efficient air-craft service is by co-ordination of the military side and the civil side. A great deal can be done in the direction of conveying mails to the interior of Australia by aeroplanes. In such districts as the north-west coast of Western Australia, where the mail services are very irregular, a fortnight often intervening between the deliveries, the mail service of the future will be carried out by air-craft. It is only by the use of air-craft for commercial purposes that Australia can hope to maintain such an air-craft service as will be necessary for defence. I hope that the control of aviation will be left in the charge of the Defence Department. It would take a very great deal to induce me to consent to the creation of a new Department for the purpose. I support the Bill cordially, with the expression of the hope that the Minister will see his way to impose a time limit on its operation, because we are in this matter breaking new ground, and difficulties may arise which we cannot now foresee. If the course I suggest is followed, Parliament will then automatically be afforded an opportunity of reconsidering the position, and this
Bill should pass after a very short discussion.
.- I welcome the advent of this Bill. Ever since this House met I have persistently asked questions dealing with aerial matters. Commercial and civil aviation have been considerably hindered in Australia for lack of air regulations. Whilst other parts of the world have made great advances in aviation. Australia has been standing still. At last we have a Bill before us which is based upon the report of a Conference at which Australia was represented, which was signed at Paris on 13th October, 1919. I have considered that report with expert airmen out here, and there can be no doubt that it is very full and very thorough.. Much of it, of course, applies to dividing lines between the great countries of the Old World, but a great deal of it also may be applied to Australia. I may mention the provision suggested for the marking of aeroplanes underneath so that each machine may be distinguished. If an aviator flies low over cities his machine will have its private mark, and he can thus be identified and brought to account. No aviator is allowed to go into the air, and no engineer is permitted to enter an aeroplane without a proper licence. More important than anything else, the regulations for preventing collisions at sea are adopted almost in toto. If honorable members will read the regulations for preventing collisions in the air they will find that they are almost identical with those for preventing collisions at sea. Two ships meeting each other port their helms and .go to starboard, and thus pass in safety. Aeroplanes, it is suggested, also must carry red and green sidelights like the port and starboard sidelights of vessels, and also a stern light. There are other regulations to be complied with in order to avoid serious collisions. Up to the present time we have been extraordinarily lucky in not having a tragedy occurring in one of the principal cities of Australia. I have already directed attention in this House to low flying over the Randwick racecourse, and recently I have seen low flying over Melbourne and over Sydney. If, when an aviator is flying low over a city in that way, his engine should stop or misfire, a tragedy would be the result, because the aeroplane would probably fall into a mass of people.
This Bill adopts the proposals of the Conference to which I have referred, and confers power on the GovernorGeneral to frame regulations controlling flying. The fear has been expressed tonight that the State Governments may be somewhat laggard in passing the necessary regulations to control flying, and may not leave the matter in the hands of the Commonwealth. But from what I can learn the State Governments are very keen about legislation controlling flying,’ and their representatives at the Premiers’ Conference have to be thanked for agreeing to hand over to the Commonwealth as the central authority the subject of flying legislation. The foundation of the whole business must be civil and commercial aviation. If we encourage private individuals and companies to undertake aviation, the Government will save an enormous amount of money in the supply of machines for defence purposes. But private individuals will not make a start until satisfactory regulations are introduced.
It may interest honorable members ifI give them a few facts to show what is
I taking place in aviation in other parts of the world. We are considerably behind in this matter. Our expert aviators and mechanics, for lack of proper encouragement, are going into civil occupations, or to other countries, such as America and the Old Country, to join up with aerial companies there. From the latest report from England, which I received two days ago, I find that some extraordinary figures are given in connexion with the Paris-London air route. During fourteen months, up to 30th October of this year, 4,000 passengers had been carried, and .£200,000 worth of goods, whilst the distance covered in the fourteen months was 300,000 miles. The official report says that the route is absolutely reliable, and the service conducted with the most wonderful regularity. In South Africa, huge commercial aviation schemes are in hand. The Dutch, doubtless inspired by the wonderful flight of Sir Ross Smith and Sir Keith Smith, and by Parer and Mcintosh, have established in Java aerial mail and passenger services. The Siamese have done likewise. The United States of America have, of course, made huge strides in aviation. From New York to Chicago, a daily service for mails and passengers has been established, and a charge of only 2 cents per letter is made for the mail service, whilst there is a saving of twenty-four hours on the transcontinental route. The official report for 1919 says that it is 95 per cent, perfect. This shows to what a fine art civil aviation has been brought in America.
Without referring to other countries, it must be very clear to honorable members that great advances have been made in aviation almost everywhere except Australia. Now that this Bill has been introduced, I can tell honorable members that we shall make great strides in this country. Many time-tables have already been drawn up, and aviators are only waiting to get a start. There are some conditions essential to success in civil aviation and the carriage of mails by aeroplane. One is that there must be special machines’ employed for the purpose. It is not a bit of use to try to carry mails or passengers with military machines. I can give honorable members one example in proof of this statement. Recently an experiment was made in India from Kurachi to Bombay, a distance of 600 miles. The Government used D.H.10 machines- that are very expensive because of their large consumption of petrol. Notwithstanding the fact that these machines can carry 3,000 lbs., and that, on the trials to which I refer, they were used to carry only 48 lbs., the whole thing- was a colossal failure. A very big authority, in England, a man named Holt Thomas, who started the Paris to London flights, and, I believe, also the Paris to Amsterdam flights, that have been so successful, says that you cannot make a success of civil mail and passenger flights without building special machines for the purpose. In every case, you must build a special machine for the job you intend it to carry out.
I understand that in Australia we have machine? that can carry mails at an inexpensive rate. Experts out here are rather timid about the experiments that are to be undertaken by the Defence Department. I managed to set their fears somewhat ab rest by some weeks ago> asking the Minister in charge of this Bill questions on the subject. I understand that the Department do not propose to use D.H.10 or D.H.9 machines, but have other machines that will do the job. I hope they have, because if we make a mistake at the start, it will have a most injurious effect upon aviation, in Austra-
Iia. People must be given every encouragement if we are to make aviation a success. If we give the business a good start, it will go right on; but if we make a slip it will take years to so far educate the public on this question that great business firms will be prepared to send their goods by these machines. I have already said that in fourteen months on the Paris-London route £200,000 worth of goods were carried; and why should we not be able to do that in Australia between Sydney and Melbourne, Melbourne and Adelaide, or outback to the people in remote districts?
Another condition precedent to success is speed. I have been expecting to be asked by interjection if I have ever flown. As a matter of fact, I have never been up. I had about 200 invitations during the war to go up; but not on your life over the Belgian coast or over the lines during the war ! I preferred to be on my bridge. But I can tell honorable members that I have taken a huge interest in flight for many years, and I had a very big machine on order in 1914, before the war broke out. I have followed the matter closely, and have read up everything worth reading on the subject; and as I worked at sea with the Royal Naval Air Force on the Belgian coast and in the English Channel during the winter months, I feel justified in speaking upon any matter pertaining to flight. I have said that the question of speed is very vital. At 75 miles per hour you can carry 2 tons weight over 300 miles without landing. If you increase’ the speed to 100 miles per hour, the weight which can be carried drops from 2 tons to under 1 ton. The more speed you get, the less the weightcarrying capacity, and, of course, with increase of speed there is an increase of expense.
Another matter of importance is night flying. You must fly at night, because business men will not’ fly in the day-time, when they need to be working in their offices. A business man could go up at night in Melbourne and land in Sydney at daylight next morning in a very comfortable machine. I have seen machines for carrying fifteen passengers, with plush seats and little round tables for playing cards, and a man engaged to serve drinks to passengers.
Another matter of great importance is that proper landing grounds must be provided, and these must be well lit up at night, so that if an aviator is compelled to make a forced landing, he will know where to come down by lights placed on the ground around an aerodrome. This involves expense; but I have heard with pleasure that when the Government begin to move in this matter, no less than 80 per cent, of the local councils have agreed to undertake the expense of laying out proper landing grounds, if the Government will provide the plans and an expert officer to superintend the work. That is an offer which should be clinched at once. The last condition,; as T mentioned before, is that of public support. The public are funny creatures. Indeed, we are all funny creatures. We take everything for granted. In the matter of aviation the public need educating, notwithstanding what they have seen accomplished during the war. They must be worked up to the position gradually, and our business firms especially must give aviation their support, if it is to be made a success.
There is just one other matter that I desire to bring under the notice of the House. It is a most important matter. There is a young Australian engineer inventor, named E. H. Friend, of New South Wales. He has invented an aeroplane engine, which, in comparison with the Rolls-Royce - the last word in aeroplane engines - costs only half as much, and is only one-third of the size. If a Rolls-Royce engine required to be dismantled about one-third of a day would be occupied in the task, whereas the engine invented by young Friend can be dismantled in an hour. The main point about this engine is that it possesses not only a petrol stroke, but also a steam stroke, thus having a double impulse, which gives it enormous power. Let me illustrate my point. In Australia to-day out of 106 points of power there is not a single engine which will give more than seventeen points. Mr. Friend anticipates getting a minimum of power from his engine of 45 points. Experts have seen the model, including Colonel Williams, Squadron-Commander Goble, General Sir C. B. White, and the late superintendent of Cockatoo Island, Mr. King Salter, who wrote a strong report in its favour. Young Friend has offered this machine to the Commonwealth Government for its Army and Navy for nothing, if they will only defray his expenses to England immediately in order that he may take his model there, and compete for the £12,000 prize which the Air Ministry have offered for the best aeroplane engine, and which he thinks he can win. This offer has been before the Commonwealth Government for the past twelve months, yet this young inventor is still in Melbourne, whither he comes from Sydney about once a week to see me in reference to it. If the Government do not want that engine, let them say so, because it will not then be many hours before a private company, or, perhaps, a foreign Power, will get it. I am told by experts that if the engine comes up to the claims of its inventor - and a number of them think that it will - it will revolutionize flying the whole world over. It may be asked, “ Where does the inventor come in?” He will come in by sales to private individuals outside the Government. The Commonwealth, however, will get the engine for all its machines for the cost of this man’s passage Home - perhaps an expenditure of £150 under this heading- and a few additional pounds to enable. him to carry on whilst he is dealing with the Air Ministry there. I beseech the Government to look into the matter. I know that a report upon it was received in Melbourne a few days ago from a very junior officer at the Arsenal. But this officer had neither the inventor before him, nor the model, nor the specifications. His report was that he would not recommend sending the inventor Home, but that the papers relating to the invention might be sent to the Air Ministry, if Friend were willing that that course should be followed. Evidently there is something wrong somewhere - I am afraid that it is the cursed system of red tape again - and we are going to lose something which I think is a perfect marvel. I appeal to the Government to allow this lad to go Home at once. There is no time to lose if he is to be, in a position to compete for the £12,000 prize to which I have already referred. The following information is contained in a note sent to me by Friend: -
The petrol engines of Australia are annually wasting, through their exhaust and cooling systems, 34,000,000 gallons of the 52,000,000 gallons of high-priced petrol, mainly bought from foreign Powers. The universal adoption of my motor would save Australia 10,000,000 gallons of petrol a year.
In other words, his engine eats up every bit of power that is usable. It avails itself of the heat engendered by the petrol, and of- the steam that it gets from tha water radiator, and it consumes all the waste, thereby yielding 45 per cent, of power. I urge the Government to look very carefully into this matter as early as possible, with a view to seeing if they cannot allow this young man to go Home and give Australia another big “ boost.” I welcome the activity of the Ministry in getting down to bedrock by bringing this Air Convention into force, and by seeking to empower the Governor-General to make regulations to deal with civil aviation.
– I desire to say a word or two in connexion with this young man Friend who has invented an engine which it is claimed will revolutionize’ the manufacture of internal combustion engines throughout the world. I saw the young man in question, and I was very favorably impressed by him. I think that he is a very smart, keen, good Australian. I understand, too, that General White and. Colonel Williams have seen the models and specifications of his invention, and that they, too, are favorably impressed with them. At all events, I promise the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) that I will place the matter before the Cabinet, and that I will* ask it to agree to a small expenditure on behalf of this young man. I asked Friend whether a first class passage Home would be sufficient for him, and his reply was, “I do not want a first class passage. I will go second class.” It is evident, therefore, that he is not out for a “joy-ride.” In conversation with me, he stated, “ I want to go Home to compete for the £12?000 which is being offered for the best engine for aeroplanes.” He is very anxious indeed to compete for this big prize; and I think, in all the circumstances, that we are justified in paying his passage to the Old Country. I told him that I was prepared to ask Cabinet to sanction an expenditure of £100 to enable him to live in England whilst placing his invention before the proper authorities, and he said that he would be perfectly satisfied with that amount. We should be foolish to miss the chance of securing an invention of this sort for the Commonwealth. Of course, it may prove a “ dud “ ; but the risk is one which is well worth taking.
With regard to what has been said concerning the imposition of a time limit upon the operation of the Bill, I do not think that any good purpose would be served by such a restriction. We do not know how long these regulations will run smoothly and satisfactorily. But the moment it can be shown that they are not working satisfactorily fresh legislation will be brought down to deal with this matter of civil aviation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– Is it the pleasure of honorable members that the Bill be taken as a whole ?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
.- I listened with a good deal of interest to the case of the young man Friend, which was brought up by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks), and also to the Minister’s reply to him. The honorable member stated that this young man had been travelling backwards and forwards from Sydney for about twelve months, and that so far he had been unable to get anything done in connexion with his request. I would like to know whether any reports have been obtained upon his invention.
– I said that one report had been received from a junior officer at the Arsenal.
– Are there not experts in the Commonwealth who could submit reports upon it for the guidance of the Minister ?
– I do not know that there are. We have a report from an officer at the Arsenal, but he had not the inventor before him.
– I have not a single word to say against the proposal to pay this young man’s passage to England. But if his invention has been before the Government for twelve months, and they have experts who could report upon it, their reports should be forthcoming.
– That is the whole trouble. There is no place to which a young inventor may go, to get the matter threshed out.
– If the invention is a new one, how can we get an expert to report upon it?
– But the Government might get reports from those who are qu alified to express an opinion upon it. I am not suggesting that this young man’s passage to the Old Country should not be paid. But we ought to have some sort of prima facie evidence that his invention is worth looking into. I attach a good deal of weight to what has been said by the honorable member for Wentworth, and I think the Minister would be well advised in giving effect to his suggestion.
– Occasionally, we send young men to the Old Country with inventions, and, in practically all cases, they find when they get there that there are already in existence inventions upon similar lines.
– Whether there is any novelty in the supposed invention ought surely to be discovered from this side of the world, before the Government rush into the matter.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Standing Orders suspended, and Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That the importation of carbide of calcium into the Commonwealth be prohibited except under licence by the Minister for Trade and Customs and subject to the following conditions: -
That the price of Australian carbide of calcium f.o.b.Hobart shall not exceed £30 per ton except with the approval of the Minister; and
That the Minister is satisfied that the price charged for Australian carbide of calcium is not excessive.
Honorable members will recollect that some time ago I promised to remove the embargo against the importation of certain goods to Australia, amongst them carbide of calcium. Without wearying the House at this hour with a recital of the history of what has happened, I remind them that when the war broke out carbide of calcium was one of the commodities that Australia became very short of, with the result that before long the price began to rise rapidly, reaching, ultimately, I think, something like £85 per ton in 1917-18. This price did not last long, because the Japanese came into the market, and quotations fell to about £60 per ton. Early in the war a company for the manufacture of carbide was formed in Hobart, but at the outset they were confronted with all sorts of troubles, the principalbeing the difficulty of obtaining the electrodes for the production of the carbide itself. Eventually, electrodes were supplied by a company operating in Scandinavia, but these broke down. They would not stand up to the current, and as a consequence the company could not manufacture carbide of calcium at all. I shall have a word or two to say directly concerning the reasons, possibly, that actuated the company supplying the electrodes. However, the Tas- manian company decided to manufacture their own, but at the outset they experienced great difficulty in acquiring the necessary machinery, including a very large hydraulic press. Eventually Australian engineers came to their rescue, and, to their great credit, be it said, they were able to turn out the necessary machinery, and to manufacture their own electrodes, though not until about the end of the war. Had these difficulties been overcome in the earlier stages of the war, the company would, by this time, have been on such a firmbasis that the present difficulties would not have arisen. Carbide of calcium is now available at a price which makes it impossible for this Australian company to trade, and unless we can do something to help them they will have to close down their works altogether. They have a capital of £100,000 invested in the industry, and came to the rescue of Australia at a critical period in the war. It was not their fault, at all events, that they were unable to meet the demand at the time. Carbide of calcium is used in many branches of the manufacturing industry as well as lighting in a number ofcountry districts.
– It is now being superseded by the gloria light.
– It is, to some extent, for lighting purposes; but, nevertheless, it is the key chemical for many other branches of industry, among them being acetylene welding, cyanide for fertilizers, for ammonia, for gold extraction, and dicyandiancide for toning down explosives. These are some of the uses to which this chemical is put.
I have here some figures supplied through the courtesy of the Comptroller-General of Customs in New Zealand the other day, showing the price at which carbide of calcium is being sold in other parts of the world. In New Zealand, where there is no duty, it is being supplied from Canadian and Scandinavian sources at £40 per ton.
– No dumping there.
Mr.GREENE.- There is no dumping in New Zealand. The company which is dumping the carbide of calcium in Australia is selling the commodity at £10 per ton less than the New Zealand price.
– What is the duty ?
– The duty is £7 10s. per ton, so, in effect, the company is disposing of the commodity at £17 10s. per ton less than the New Zealand price.
– What is the price f.o.b. Melbourne or Sydney?
– The price for this dumped carbide of calcium is a little less than the price fixed by the Tasmanian company, whatever that might be, the object, of course, being to drive the Tasmanian concern out of existence. It is fair, therefore, to give same reasonable protection.
– It is fair so long as we can get some basis as to the cost of production.
– I will deal with that aspect of the question in a moment. In the United Kingdom, carbide of calcium is selling at from £30 to £35 per ton, and in the United States of America at £28 16s. to £35 4s., according to quality and converting the dollar at 3.50. Carbide of calcium is cheaper here than in any other part of the world to-day, and the Tasmanian company are prepared to give us a guarantee that the price will not exceed £30 per ton, but if, owing to arrangements which they are now making with the Tasmanian Go- vernment for financial assistance, they are able to reduce the cost of production, and at the same time return a fair profit to the company, the Australian consumer will get the benefit of that reduction. I am satisfied, on the figures supplied to me by the company - and necessarily they are confidential - that £30 per ton only gives the company a fair profit and a reasonable amount for amortisation.
– They will have to do better than that when they get into full swing.
– I have not the slightest doubt that they will do better.
– Can they supply the whole of the Commonwealth?
– I do not think there is any doubt about that point, but, if not, the Minister will be authorized, in the terms of this resolution, to make arrangements to admit further supplies of calcium from outside.
There is no doubt, in my mind, that dumping of this product into Australia is being practised with deliberate intention of driving the Tasmanian company out of existence, and this dumping, I remind honorable members, is being done by the same company that supplied the electrodes, which were the cause of so much trouble and prevented the Tasmanian company from manufacturing carbide of calcium in the early stages of the war.
– What is the name of the Tasmanian company?
– The Hydro-Electric Company.
– Is the quotation of £30 per ton the same for each State?
– No; £30 per ton f.o.b. Hobart.
– What is the freight on the carbide as a dangerous cargo?
– The shipping companies are required to carry the cargo on deck. Freight from Sweden to Australia is less than from Hobart to Brisbane.
– The company have their own boats, and make their own arrangements with regard to shipping.
-Why is dumping being done here if carbide is cheaper in Australia than elsewhere?
– For the simple reason that the foreign company wish to get rid of a rival, and a well-known commercial method is to attack and crush a weaker rival out of existence in order, subsequently, to increase the price of the commodity. I am confident that but for the existence of the Tasmanian company we would be paying the same price as is charged in New Zealand for carbide of calcium.
– What were we paying before the war?
– It was being imported at £13 4s. per ton, and, during the war, it was £10 per ton.
– That blows this scheme out, then?
– The fact remains that, if we do not come to the assistance of this company, they will have to go out of business, investors will lose their money, and Tasmania an important industry. Until the company has been given a chance to get on its feet, we should grant this special form of protection. I ask the House to agree to the resolution, believing, as I do, that it is necessary to keep this company in existence.
.- Since the introduction of this subject-matter tonight, I have examined the statistics dealing with the imports of calcium carbide for the last five years available. Last year’s figures are not yet to hand. In 1913-14, 288,195 cwt. was imported into Australia, and its value was £184,844 - equal to about £13 per ton landed here. In 1914-15 - the first year of the war - 234,923 cwt. was imported, and its value was £139,033; the value still works out at about £13 a ton. In 1915-16, importations totalled 237,143 cwt., and the value was £118,715. That price works out at less than £10 per ton. In 1916-17, the total quantity imported fell toabout 98,000 cwt., the value of which was £57,461. Again that works out at about £13 a ton. In 1917-18, importation totalled 74,570 cwt., and the value was £135,000. That is to say, the value for that year worked out at £40 per ton.
– And in 1918-19 the price went up to about double.
– I am complaining that these figures which the Minister has are not available to honorable members.
– The price went up to £70 or £80.
– Was that the import value, or was it what the storekeepers were charging ?
– This commodity cost about £70 a ton to land here, without any profit. The prices ruling in the earlier years of the war were due, to a large extent, to the fulfilment of contracts.
– I quite appreciate, of course, that calcium carbide is a commodity which is very much more in demand in the country than in the towns andcities. But why was not this whole matter referred to the Inter-State Commission ?
– Is the honorable member advocating dumping here?
– No; but there should have been an inquiry before Parliament was asked to fix a price which is about treble the rate ruling in Australia three years after the war began.
– I would agree with the honorable member if this rate of £30 were to remain for long.
– Of course it will remain. Here, we are conceding a monopoly to one company, and therewill never be more than one company malting calcium carbide in Australia.
– Would not the honorable member prefer to see it made here by an Australian company rather than imported from a Scandinavian firm?
– Of course! My objection is that the statistics with which honorable members should be furnished have been withheld.
– I am quite certain that the company would not have the slightest objection to the honorable member seeing the figures. If the honorable member wants an inquiry, it would mean that the company would go backon thearrangement.
– There should be a strict investigation before we agree to prohibit the importation of this commodity, and give a complete monopoly to one firm. I am given to understand that these Hobart people have their own steamers. That means that they can charge what freight they like to any part of Australia. What is to prevent them from charging £40 a ton ?
– The Minister would step in at once, and cancel the arrangement.
– If this firm has a complete monopoly,not merely of the manufacture, but of the carriage of the cal cium carbide, there is grave reason to doubt whether the House should agree to the resolution. At any rate, before we do so, thewhole business should be looked into most carefully.
– As a rule I am not in favour of embargoes; but I know the history and the position of this company, and I am able to say for the information of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene), and other honorable members, that had it not been for the fact that the State Government of Tasmania has been assisting this company for some time to pay its wages, it would have been shut down some weeks ago owing to the dumping that has been going on by Norwegian and Swedish exporters. Before this company come into existence’ the price of carbide landed in Australia was £70 a ton.
– That was for only a little while.
– The extraordinary part of the situation is that the moment this Tasmanian company placed its product on the market the price fell from £70 to £29 per ton. We might just as well face the situation fairly. I have seen financial statements of this company, and I know its position exactly. It cannot produce and pay Australian rates of wages under existing conditions if it sells at less than £30 a ton.
– What about the freights ?
– The shipping companies on theAustralian coast - I think there are regulations governing the point - will not allow carbide to be carried below deck. This product must not be allowed to become moistened in any way; and, therefore, if the company is compelled to place it on the deck it has to incur considerable expense by using airtight and watertight casks as containers. The material that comes from Norway and Sweden is carried as ordinary cargo in the holds of ships, and is sometimes, I believe, shipped as ballast. I am prepared topublicly make this pledge on behalf of the company : That if it breaks away fromthe conditions in the slightest degree the Minister will be at liberty to lift the embargo.
– But whatare the conditions ?
– It has guaranteed to supply sufficient carbide to meet the whole of the Australian requirements.
– It is useless for the honorable member to make any promise; that should come from the Minister.
– The Minister has power to lift the embargo protecting the company the moment it departs from its conditions.
– What condi tions?
– In the first place the company stipulated to produce sufficient carbide to supply the whole of Australia; and, secondly, at a price not exceeding £30 per ton f.o.b. Hobart. If the Minister cares to insist on a fair freight clause I am prepared to support him. If the company should endeavour to take advantage of the situation by increasing freights the Minister would be perfectly justified in removing the embargo.
– What is the fair rate of freight from Hobart to Brisbane?
– At the outside it should not exceed £3 a ton, and to Sydney, of course, it would be less..
– What would it be to Fremantle ?
– There is no direct transport to Fremantle, and cargo for that port would have to came to Melbourne, and then pay the ordinary rate between Melbourne and the western port.
– The Minister hassaid that the company is likely to handle other cargo.
– It has made some arrangements.
– It is forced into making its own arrangements because it is suffering from the conditions imposed by the Shipping Ring, as are other consignors.
– How many ships does the company possess?
– Only one small vessel. Thiscompany has enough to carry on its business as producers of ‘ calcium carbide without entering the shipping business, and it has only undertaken its own shipping because it has been forced to. The Minister has quoted some figures in relation to the prices ruling to-day. In New Zealand, where they are not producing and where no duty is imposed, £40 per ton is being charged. In Great Britain, the price varies from £30 to £35 per ton, and in America, from £28 16s. to £35. Comparing these prices with that being charged by the Tasmanian company, it will be seen that we are obtaining carbide at a cheaper rate than any other part of the world.
– Why does the honorable member want prohibition?
– This company is using electric power at an exceedingly high voltage, and it takes 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit of heat to produce carbide. That temperature must be maintained continuously, otherwise the electrodes would explode, and the whole process be interfered with; The full capacity of the plant is between 7,000 and 8,000 tons, and the former quantity is, I believe, the Australian consumption: The company is endeavouring to increase the consumption to enable it to give its plant a full run. The price it is charging is lower than is being asked in any other part of the British Dominions, and is 20 per cent. cheaper than what New Zealand is paying. I know, as a matter of fact, that owing to the dumping that is taking place - no matter, at what price this company will sell it - the imported article is being sold at a lower rate.
– What is the price of Australian carbide?
– Thirty pounds f.o.b Hobart. The imported article is being sold at about £1 per ton less, whatever the price is.
– Whatis the price now, and what was the pre-war price ?
– The pre-war price was less than half the present price. Had not the Tasmanian Government helped these people with advances to enable them to pay wages, the works would have closed already; and if they do close, we shall have to pay as much for carbide as they are now paying in New Zealand, namely, £40 per ton, although importation there is free. This is a local company, the members of which have put every shilling they possess into the business, and if the motion is not passed this week - the Minister for the Navy will bear me out in what I am saying - the works will close next Monday.
Mr.Laird Smith. - Hear, hear!
Debate (on motion by Mr. Blakeley) adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.24 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 November 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1920/19201122_reps_8_94/>.