House of Representatives
12 October 1922

8th Parliament · 2nd Session



Mr. Speaker (Hon Sir Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.

page 3713

QUESTION

ARMISTICE DAY

Mr JOWETT:
GRAMPIANS, VICTORIA

– Has the Prime Minister observed inthis morning’s news- papen a cablegram from London, to the following effect : -

An influentially signed petition has been sent to Mr. Lloyd-George, suggesting that he should confer forthwith with the Dominion Trims Ministers and the Secretary for India with a view to advising Bis Majesty the King to appeal to citizens throughout the Empire to observe November 11 as an occasion for special prayers for the Empire’s peace and prosperity.

It was on the 11th November, 1918, that the Germans publicly acknowledged defeat, and that fighting in the Great War ceased. Will the Prime Minister support the suggestion contained in’ this message!

Mr HUGHES:
Prime Minister · BENDIGO, VICTORIA · NAT

– I have not seen the cablegram. The honorable member does not suggest that we should take this action except in conjunction with other parts of the Empire?

Mr Jowett:

– I suggest that we should do so, even if other parts of the Empire do not._

Mr HUGHES:

– I shall ascertain what the Prime Minuter of the United Kingdom intends to do in the matter. My own view is that, in any case, the idea is a good one.

page 3714

QUESTION

PUBLIC SERVICE INCREMENTS

Mr MAHONY:
DALLEY, NEW SOUTH WALES

– There is a fear on the part of the public servants of the Commonwealth that increments within the grades are to be withheld this year. Will the Prime Minister see that such increments are paid?

Mr HUGHES:
NAT

– My honorable colleague, the Treasurer, states that the Estimates make provision for. their payment.

page 3714

QUESTION

FEDERAL CONFERENCE ON

“PILLAGING”.

Mr PRATTEN:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES

– In view of the fact that the question of pillaging is of cardinal importance to the commercial community, and that a Royal Commission which was appointed to inquire into the subject cost £1,748, I desire to know whether the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs has been- drawn to a question on notice which I’ put yesterday to the Minister, inquiring whether a promise had ‘been, given that, as soon as the recommendations of the Commission had been considered by the States, a Federal Conference would be- called; and, if so, when it would he convened. The Prime Minister referred- me to the honorable gentleman, and I ask that he furnish me with an answer to-morrow.

Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917

– Speaking from memory, I think that all the States are not in accord in regard to this matter, go that effect cannot ‘be given to the original proposal that simultaneous action should be taken by all the States, if the report of the Commission proved the necessity for such a step. I understand that some of the States do not admit that general pillaging takes place, and consequently uniform action is not likely.

page 3714

QUESTION

SUGAR: INCREASED DUTY

Mr FENTON:
MARIBYRNONG, VICTORIA

– I desire to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether, if the Parliament agrees to the proposal to increase to £14 per ton the duty on sugar, that will mean the immediate docontrol of the sugar industry in Australia?

Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917

– No control exists at present in respect of the sugar to which the proposed new duty of £14 per ton relates. That duty applies only .to beet sugar.

page 3714

QUESTION

COMMONWEALTH GOVERNMENT LINE OF STEAMERS

Mr MAHONY:

– Some six weeks ago, I asked the Prime Minister a question in reference to repairs to the Commonwealth Government Line of Steamers, and he promised to obtain certain information for me. I desire to know whether that information will be available to the House before we go into recess.

Mr HUGHES:
NAT

– I cannot say. We have sent to the head office for the information, and if it comes to hand in time, it will be. made available. I shall make inquiries ais to whether it has reached .my Department during the last day or two.

page 3714

QUESTION

SALE OF FLOUR TO SOUTH AFRICA

Payment ox COMPENSATION.

Mr CUNNINGHAM:
GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES

– Has the Treasurer, yet paid over the sum of £89;600 fixed as compensation in connexion with the sale of inferior- flour to- South African speculators?

Mr BRUCE:
Treasurer · FLINDERS, VICTORIA · NAT

-‘ Yes Yes; the payment has been made through the Treasury.

page 3715

SITTINGS OF THE HOUSE

Mr.BAMFORD. - Has the Prime Minister made new arrangements with regard to the sittings of the House this week? Most honorable members have made arrangements to leave for their homes by train on Friday afternoon; but there is a rumour that the Prime Minister proposes that we shall sit on Saturday. Will the right honorable gentleman make a statement to the House, so that we may, if necessary, alter our travelling arrangements?

Mr HUGHES:
NAT

-I want to give an authoritative denial to the statement that I am going to sit here on Saturday. Some of my honorable friends may do so. As for me, my fate is settled. I go with my honorable friend, Mr. Wise, to Gippsland. We shall be away; but honorable members will be able to get on without me.

page 3715

QUESTION

AUDITOR-GENERAL’S REPORT

Mr LAVELLE:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES

– I ask the Treasurer when will the Auditor-General’s report be available to honorable members?

Mr BRUCE:
NAT

– The paper was laid on the table last night, and was ordered to beprinted.

page 3715

QUESTION

SUGAR DUTIES

Mr RILEY:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES

– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs to sayby how much the price of sugar to the consumer will be increased or decreased in the event of Parliament agreeing to the proposed duty of£14per ton?

Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917

-It is quite unusual to answer questions affecting matters already before the House in another form.

Mr FENTON:

– Assuming that both Houses of this Parliament agree to the schedule of sugar duties submitted by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Rodgers) last night in this Chamber, will the Minister inform the House, and sugar consumers generally, whether that will involve the immediate decontrol of sugar?

Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917

– I - I do not, propose to answer hypothetical questions. Honorable members will have every opportunity to discuss this matter.

page 3715

QUESTION

SOUTH AFRICA

Duty on Maize.

Mr WISE:
GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA

-I ask the ‘Minister for Trade and Customs if he has any further information to give the House on the subject of communications with South Africa, concerning the duty on maize?

Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917

– The honorable member has been a very persistent advocate of a re-arrangement of this matter, not only in thisChamber, but with me privately and on deputations. Unless by the exercise of bad faith on the part of the Commonwealth, the existing arrangement between South Africa and Australia cannot be varied except by negotiation. I can, however, promise the honorable member that in the negotiations with the Government of South Africa steps will be taken to effectively protect the maizegrowers of Australia.

page 3715

QUESTION

INITIATIVE, REFERENDUM, AND RECALL

Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– I ask the Prime Minister if he can see his way to bring before the members of his ‘Cabinet a proposal that the acceptance of the policy of the referendum, initiative, and recall shall be placed before the electors at the coming general election?

Mr.HUGHES. - Whilst I am very willing to meet honorable members in every way possible, I must say that there is something about the proposal of the recall which is opposed to some of my most settled and earnest principles. I want to tell the honorable member, as man to man, that I am against the recall. I am in favour of as much of the initiative as possible, and shall endeavour to induce my colleagues to see eye to eye with me on that point, but on the question of the recall I feel that they are obdurate.

page 3715

QUESTION

EXPROPRIATION OF ENEMY PROPERTY

Mr CUNNINGHAM:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Whether Australian-born women married to husbands of German origin are being expropriated of their property?
  2. If so, will he consider the question of allowing these Australian-born women to retain their own property, such as small amounts in Savings Banks?
Mr HUGHES:
NAT

– The answers are -

  1. The terms of the Treaty of Peace provide for this being done.
  2. In many cases, after consideration of special circumstances, relief has been given in the way suggested. Property similar to that enumerated has been released from control.

So far as expropriated property in New Guinea is concerned, each case is decided on its individual merits, and in every case dealt with the property of British or Australian-born women married to German nationals has been released from expropriation.

page 3716

QUESTION

POWER ALCOHOL

Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

Willhe inform the House what stage the experiments in power alcohol, &c, have reached ?

Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917

– Experiments conductedby the Commonwealth analyst, and also by the Institute of Science and Industry, have shown that no practical difficulty exists in using alcohol as a motor fuel.

page 3716

QUESTION

WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY

Issue of Regulations - Fees of Directors of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited

Mr CUNNINGHAM:
for Mr. Brennan

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Have regulations been adopted in relation to the issue and/or the reduction in the number of licences to persons in a private capacity to operate wireless ?
  2. If not, when, if ever, arc such regulations to be prepared?
Mr HUGHES:
NAT

-The new regulations will be issued in about a week. Yesterday, the honorable member for Maribyrnong asked the following questions: -

  1. Whether the salaries, allowances, or fees to directors of the Amalgamated Wireless Company have yet been determined?
  2. If so, what amount will be received by each director?

I now desire to inform the honorable member that the fees for the Government directors have not yet been fixed.

Mr MARR:
PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES

asked the PrimeMinister, upon notice -

  1. Whether it is the intention of the Government to issue amending regulations under the Wireless Telegraphy Act . governing licences for amateurs?
  2. If so, when?
Mr HUGHES:

– It is anticipated that amended regulations will be made public in about a week.

page 3716

PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE

Mr. MATHEWS, on behalf of the Chairman, presented the report of the

Public Works Committee, together with the minutes of evidence relating to a proposed automatic telephone exchange at City South, Sydney.

Ordered to be printed.

page 3716

QUESTION

COMMONWEALTH GOVERNMENT LINE OF STEAMERS

Carriage of Australian Wheat

Mr CHANTER:
RIVERINA, NEW SOUTH WALES

asked the Prime Min ister, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact, as stated recently by one of the organizers of the Country party in the electorate ofRiverina, that not one bag of wheat has been carried overseasin any of the steamers owned by the Commonwealth?
  2. What quantity of wheat and other farm produce has been carried in the said steamers, and the probable value thereof?
  3. Will the Commonwealth steamers be used for the conveyance overseas of the next season’s crop of wheat and other Australian products?
  4. Has the presence of the Commonwealth steamers, acting in competition with the Shipping Combine, beneficially affected the Australian producer?
  5. If so, can he say, approximately, to what amount?
Mr HUGHES:
NAT

– The answers are-

  1. No.
  2. 1,383,427 tons; value unknown.
  3. Yes; they will carry a very large proportion of the coming season’s wheat. The Commonwealth Line is appointed sole charterer.
  4. Yes.
  5. Amount not known, but certainly a very considerable figure.

page 3716

QUESTION

REPATRIATION

Wages of Industrial Trainees

Mr MATHEWS:
MELBOURNE PORTS, VICTORIA

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -

Is it a fact that married men, incapacitated from following their usual occupation, who, in order to learn their trade, have been attending a repatriation trade class, havebeen in receipt of only 57s. per week, including all pensions?

Mr HECTOR LAMOND:
Assistant Minister for Repatriation · ILLAWARRA, NEW SOUTH WALES · NAT

– The answer is -

No. Allowances are paid as will insure a weekly income as follows: -

For a married man and wife -60s. per week.

For a married man, wife, and one child - 65s. per week.

For a married man, wife,and two children - 70s. per week.

For a married man, wife, and three children- 75s. per week.

For a married man, wife, and four or more children - 80s. per week.

These are the allowances made available to the trainees during the short period necessary for them to reach 40 per cent. efficiency, when they are placed out as industrial trainees with private employers; provision then being made for them to receive amounts equal to the full journeyman’s rate of wages, exclusive of any pension that they may receive for war injuries.

SUPPLY (Formal).

Question - That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair, and the House resolve itself into Committee of Supply - resolved in the negative.

page 3717

QUESTION

CUSTOMS TARIFF (SUGAR DUTIES)

In Committee of Ways and Means:

Debate resumed from 11th October (vide page 3630), on motion by Mr. rodgers -

That the schedule to the Customs Tariff 1921-1922 be amended as hereunder set out and that on and after the twelfth day of October, One thousand nine hundred and twenty-two, at nine o’clock in the forenoon, Victorian time, duties of Customs be collected in pursuance of the Customs Tariff as so amended : -

On which Mr. Charlton had moved, by way of amendment -

That all the words after” That “ be left out, with a view to inserting in lieu thereof the words “ an agreement be made with regard to sugar control, and that the same should provide for fair and reasonable conditions for the producers and workers in the industry, while at the same time protecting consumers from exploitation by the Colonial SugarRefining Company Limited.”

Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920

. -When we adjourned last night, I was pointing out how impossible it is for the House in the dying hours of the session to settle the basis on which we might provide for the stabilization of the sugar industry. It would be unwise for the House, in the limited time at its disposal, to attempt now to do anything of that nature. All that the industry can expect at the present time is some definite assurance from the House that the traditional White Australia policy of the Commonwealth will be maintained, and that those engaged in the industry will receive a fair deal. It seems to me that the Government’s proposal to increase the duty on sugar, as indicative of that assurance is of some value; but, as a matter of fact, it can have no effect, owing to the fact that there is no trading in sugar outside the Government control at the present time; nor can there be until after the next Parliament assembles. Similarly the adoption of the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), which has special reference to the renewal of the Sugar Agreement, which does not expire until 30th June next, can bind n either the Government nor the next Parliament. Seeing that its renewal must be ratified by the next Parliament, the definite statement or assurance of an honorable v ember would have just as much weight as would the carrying of the honorable member’s amendment in this respect. Nevertheless the renewal of some arrangement is a vital matter upon which honorable members’ opinions should be freely expressed at the present time, because the issue will be fought out at the forthcoming elections. That there should be a permanent solution of the sugar problem is absolutely essential. There are many factors in connexion with this problem, and the most important of them is the position of the growers.Without the growers there would be no sugar industry in Australia. Unless those men who carry on their operations in the tropical parts of Australia, living there through the hot’ and wet seasons, are assured of an absolutely fair deal and of conditions that will enable them to see some permanency ahead of them, everything associated with sugar-growing must fall to the ground. Therefore, Parliament in determining this question must recognise it as a basic fact, that the interests of the grower must be preserved. The other factors in the industry - the payment of casual labour employed in the cane-fields, the profit secured by the millers, and the conditions under which the refiners carry on their operations - are of secondary importance, as compared to the grower. Prom a national point of view the defence of northern Australia depends upon the continuous settlement of sugar canegrowers, arid that, in turn, depends upon the permanency of the industry. Something more is needed to stabilize the industry beyond an agreement which may have to come up for redetermination in a few years before a hostile people, or Parliament, when for some reason or other public opinion may be hostile to some particular factor in the industry. For .that reason I have said repeatedly that the making of an agreement, which is subject to renewal every three or five years, will not properly stabilize this industry. The sort of stabilization I wish to see is one that will enable the grower who goes on to scrub land, and does the pioneering work of transforming it from a useless to a productive state, or the man who buys cleared sugar farm land in a sugargrowing district, to recognise that he will have an asset with a permanent value. On the other hand, the making of an agreement which simply provides for a renewal in three years under conditions which no one can forecast is the surest way of unstabilizing the industry, especially if in drawing it up no consideration is paid to the consumers of sugar, who, of course, are more numerous than the producers. The present Agreement was made as between the Commonwealth Government, the Queensland Government, and those actually engaged in growing, milling, and refining sugar, no consideration whatever being given to other industries for which supplies of sugar are absolutely necessary.

I have shown that an agreement such as that which is now in existence is riot sufficient in itself to stabilize the sugar industry. Nor in my opinion will a duty by itself be sufficient. Unless it is associated with internal organization of the industry it will press harshly cn» those other industries of Australia which use sugar in large quantities. For instance, a duty which may be considered necessary to protect the product of sugarcane grown in Queensland from competition from sugar grown in other parts of the world by coloured labour, and perhaps under conditions more favorable tothe growth of the cane than are to be obtained in Australia, may easily press very harshly on the fruit and milk industries. Therefore, it is absolutely imperative . for ‘Parliament to considersome alternative or additional means of dealing with the whole position and assisting in the organization of the sugar industry which, while’ enabling a duty to be imposed which will sufficiently protect the growers of Australia from outside competition, will at the same time provide means by which those who are engaged in Australia in the jam and milk industries may be in a (position to ‘get their requirements at a price a .good deal lower than that which they would otherwise be obliged to ,pay. The Country party ‘has brought forward a policy which takes into consideration the whole of these conditions.

Mr Maxwell:

– Does the honorable member seek to protect the Australian sugar-cane growers from all outside competition or simply from unfair competition?

Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920

– We We desire to protect the Australian sugar industry from the competition of sugar grown by coloured labour.

Mr Pratten:

– Practically that mean* protection from unfair competition.

Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920

– That is so. It is not fair to ask the white workers of Australia to cultivate their sugarcanefarms under conditions that apply in places where coloured labour is availableat a very cheap rate, and where those who work live under conditions that would not’ be- tolerated in Australia or in any other British community.

Ifr. Foley. - Does the honorable member propose to be consistent in his fiscal policy in that respect?

Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920

– I regard the sugar industry as differing from any other Australian industry. First of all, it is one of the most, important arms of national defence we have, and just as I :am. prepared to vote huge sums of money for the. upkeep of the Navy or for the purpose of assisting the Imperial Navy to conduct. Imperial defence, so am I equally prepared to go further in relation to the sugar industry of Australia than I would in connexion with any other industry, especially as it is associated with the maintenance of our White Australia policy. Furthermore, there is no other primary industry yet developed in Australia, which’ has produced the same degree of close settlement or has had associated with it. the same.’ growth of township communities. For instance, wherever a mill is. established in a. sugargrowing district -it must have associated with it foundries’ that are not requisite in. any township in the centre of a dairying district. Relatively, Bundaberg, and Mackay are- bigger towns than are any other towns in the whole of the Commonwealth which are wholly dependent on agriculture for their support and growth. “The Country party’s policy in this respect was formulated at a conference of representatives of the fruit, wheat, dairying, pastoral, sugar and all other primary industries, held at Adelaide a little while :ago> and was adopted after a full and free discussion of the. whole of the .points at issue. The resolutions carried were as follows: -

The maintenance of a “ White Australia “ being .the established policy of the Commonwealth and this association, it is necessary to maintain a white population in the northern parts of Queensland. This can only be done by the establishment of industry capable of employing a considerable population’. The -sugar industry being established for the purpose of fulfilling the national ideal of a white continent, it is necessary -

That the growers of cane shall ^receive for their product such a price as will recoup them tor’ their cost of production, plus a reasonable margin of profit

That the workers in the industry shall re’ceive a wage commensurate with the class of work paid to white workers in other parts of Australia.

That millers and refiners shall receive as remuneration in the price of sugar such a sum as will insure them a reasonable profit, the payment to have a’ direct bearing on the’ effi°ciency and economic value of their work. v

That a Federal tribunal consisting of representatives of ‘ growers, millers, refiners, workers, and consumers be appointed, to have jurisdiction to enable the above objects, to be put into operation.

Mr Maxwell:

– Does the statement of the policy “of the Country party show where it stands in. regard to the duty that has been imposed?

Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920

– I shall come to that matter: The resolutions also stated’ -

  1. That the basis of the price determined shall be subject to alteration from time to time> and that particulars be published for the general information of the public.
  2. That the high retail price of sugar at present’ being charged is due to !he Government’s heavy losses on importations of foreign sugars, and is in no way attributable to Queensland sugar producers, who from 1916 to 1920 received less than the world parity for - their sugar.. The losses made on. those imported sugars are being recouped by the Government from the consumers by tha maintenance of the present retail price.
Mr Foley:

– That is an admission that the ‘Country party had no policy, and that one had. to be formulated by these people for them.

Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920

– We have had a definite policy for the conservation of the industry. We supported the present agreement as the only method whereby, at that time, the industry could be stabilized. Unlike the’ honorable member for Kalgoorlie, who, having fixed his mind on one particular proposition, wants to stay there all the time, we have put forward definite proposals, as the result of careful consideration from all points of view, including that of the producers and the consumers, for the successful development of the industry. The next resolution carried at the Conference was to this effect -

  1. That sugar necessary for industries having an export trade shall be available for this trade at a price not exceeding that at which sugar is available from other countries. Should Australia be unable to supply those industries, either as regards price or quantity, then the importation of a sufficient quantity of sugar to meet the requirements of those industries shall be allowed.
Mr Bruce:

– But suppose that Australia could supply the quantity necessary, but not at the price. What would you. propose, to do then?

Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920

– In that case there would be only one thing to do, < namely, to pool the whole of the sugar, and to- give a rebate to the manufacturers.

Mr Watt:

– And then the domestic user would pay a premium to the manufacturer, as he has been doing all through this Agreement.

Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920

– There does not seem to be very much difference so far as the domestic consumer of jam is concerned in his paying for the sugar contents of the article either on its home manufacturing basis or on its Tariff basis; he always gets the benefit of the rebate allowed to the manufacturer.

Mr Watt:

– But the domestic user does not get any of the rebate on sugar used for the manufacture of jam. The exporter gets that.

Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920

– As regards the export manufacturer our attitude is clearly defined. As a primary producing country, we are endeavouring to settle many thousands of returned soldiers on the land, but if we are not going to make provision to enable them to market their product at a remunerative price we are not going to get anywhere with our policy of land settlement.

Mr Watt:

– But the domestic user should not be called upon to pay for that policy. If the burden fell on the taxpayer that would’ be another matter.

Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920

– This is what our party has agreed to with regard to that matter -

  1. That in order to assist home fruitpreserving and jam industries, a pooling system be established, to enable such industries to be supplied with sugar at the most favorable prices possible.
  2. That to permit of the establishment of such a permanent scheme as outlined above, the system of regulation supervision of the industry be continued for a reasonable period, subject to such modifications as investigation of the condition may prove to be justified without injustice to the sugar producers. It is recognised that to secure that end the whole industry must be brought under Federal jurisdiction.
Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917

– That means Government control.

Mr Watt:

– No; tribunal control.

Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920

– The last resolu- tion reads -

  1. That the sugar policy of Australia, should be to preserve Australian markets for internal consumption for Australian-grown white sugar.
Mr Laird Smith:

– How does the honorable member propose to give effect to the proposals of his party?

Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920

– One reason why so much “ tosh “ is, talked about this matter is that the conditions in the sugar industry are not understood. I have been fortunate enough to have been chewing sugar cane almost since I could walk, and so I ought to know something about the conditions of the industry. The objections that have been raised in regard to our proposals to help the sugar-grower, and the suggestions that propositions such as that which I have just outlined would necessarily mean Government purchases, are quite wide of the truth. In the Clarence River district, in my own division, for many years under the operation of an ordinary fixed duty the Colonial Sugar Refining Company have been in the habit of making agreements with sugar-growers for three or five years for the purchase of their cane at so much per ton, the grower usually being given an alternative choice, either of accepting a fixed price corresponding to the price of sugar, or perhaps £1 or £2 per ton less than the ruling price. If during the currency of the agreement the price varies, he will get a corresponding increase or decrease for his product. That has been the practice in my own district ‘ for many years, and a large number of growers have availed themselves of it. A similar method for dealing with the whole of the sugar crop of the Commonwealth could be adopted, for, after all, there are only thirty-four sugar mills in Queensland and three in New South Wales, and there are only two big refining companies. One reason why some of these mills have been somewhat inefficient hitherto, as is stated in the report of the Tariff Board, is that up to the signing of the last Sugar Agreement the sugar inindustry had never had a fair deal from the Commonwealth Parliament, and as a result there was never enough return on the money invested in the industry to insure the necessary improvements in machinery to perfect methods of treatment. But there has been marked progress in recent years. Several mills in Queensland are spending practically the whole of their profits earned during the past two or three years in .bringing their equipment up to date in order to insure tha utmost efficiency, capable of competing . with the up-to-date mills in Java, Honolulu, Cuba, and other sugar-producing countries. I know the honorable member for Wide Bay will bear me out when I say that very many of the men now engaged in the industry are up-to-date in every respect, and have had experience in sugar manufacture ‘ all over the world, and that the experts employed by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company are amongst the leading experts in the world, not only in the matter of handling and refining of the product, but in the management of the entire business. There are two things to be considered in connexion with this scheme - the export trade, to which the honorable member for Balaclava has drawn my attention, and home manufacture. We object to the present Agreement, because we do not believe in the Government purchasing of the crop, and consequent risk of loss and bungling which must eventually be borne by the industry. The investigations carried out by a Committee of this Parliament, and the revelations which have been made in the House, show that in connexion with Government purchase there is always the possibility of bungling, waste, and loss.

Mr Corser:

– How, otherwise, would the honorable member control the sales?

Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920

– The price should be arrived at by a tribunal representative of all the interests concerned, and that body should recommend to the Government what duty should be imposed.

Mr Maxwell:

– Does the honorable member mean that the tribunal should fix the price at every stage ?

Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920

– It would be only necessary to determine the proper price at the raw stage and the refined stage. The tribunal would arrive at a price which would enable the grower to pay reasonable rates of wages, and yet give the consumer reasonably priced sugar. At the present time the industry is controlled from top to bottom by State enactments. There is a Sugar Cane Prices Board in Queensland, which determines the proportionate amounts of the total price paid for raw sugar which the miller, the grower, and the wageearner respectively shall receive.

Mr Corser:

– How would the honorable member guarantee the miller a certain amount if there were no Government control ?

Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920

-The tribunal would determine a price sufficient to enable the industry to be carried on at a reasonable profit; having done that, they should recommend theprice to the Government, who should ask Parliament to insure it by imposing an adequate duty. The duty would be the controlling factor of the situation, and would permit prices to be fixed as they are at the present time under the Sugar Cane Prices Act.

Mr Maxwell:

– The honorable member would be content to ascertain the rate of protection by arbitrarily fixing the price to be paid to the producer.

Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920

– I would regard the price fixed by a representative tribunal as fairer than one arrived at arbitrarily by prejudice. The tribunal would come to a determination after hearing the whole facts of the case and lookins; at the question from everyangle.

Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917

– That is a serious reflection upon the unbiased report of the Royal Commission.

Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920

– I make no reference to the findings of the Royal Commission. I am not reflecting upon any vote given in this House upon sugar duties. A certain number of members have first-hand and full information, some have very little information, and others base their conclusions entirely upon sentiment.

Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917

– The honorable member’s proposal would surrender this Parliament’s authority to interested people outside.

Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920

– When the tribunal had decided what duty was necessary to protect the industry and maintain a ‘ White Australia, the Parliament could say that the policy of the country was or was not to pay such a large price for the defence of the Commonwealth in the North. The responsibility will be placed upon this Parliament; I do not wish to deprive it of its authority in this matter. But we desire to be’ able to bring to Parliament a full fund of information gathered from all sources, that would enable an absolutely just Tariff provision to be made to insure the carrying on of the industry.

Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917

– The honorable member suggests that the interested parties should meet together and fix the price of sugar, and that Parliament should fis the duty accordingly. Would the honorable member have the consumers represented on the tribunal ?

Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920

– It would be representative of the growers, millers, refiners, workers, fruit-growers, jam manufacturers, and consumers.

Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917

– What a circus !

Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920

– At any rate, there would be a much better chance of arriving at the true price in that way than there is at the present time. The only question is whether the people of Australia are prepared to maintain the sugar industry. If they are they must bo prepared to give it such consideration as will enable it to be carried on efficiently. Ever since the Commonwealth was inaugurated, the industry has been living from hand to mouth ; consequently, nobody had any heart in it, for a time the acreage under cane decreased, and the mills were allowed to get into disrepair, or, at any rate, were not maintained in such an efficient and up-to-date condition as they might have . been. I travelled through the sugar-producing districts in 1918, and again this year, and the improvement was evident to even the most casual observer. Practically every mill-owner was spending money, some up to £150,000, to completely renovate and modernize his mill up to the most modern standard of efficiency. Many of the millowners had made no reasonable profits for years till the agreement of 1920; now they have an opportunity of doing so, and, instead of pocketing the profit and getting out of the industry, they are re-investing it in improvements. That is a characteristic of primary production throughout the world. The profits are not spent extravagantly, but are nearly always applied to the improvement of the stock or the introduction of more modern plant. If this Parliament does give adequate protection to the Australian sugar-cane growers, it will be quite competent for it to insist that a high standard of efficiency shall be maintained throughout the whole industry. The proposals of the Country party indicate that the proportion paid to the miller of the price fixed for raw sugar should be dependent upon the efficiency of his mill. By that, method a certain amount of control may be exercised.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– Unfortunately, the growers do not own the- mills.

Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920

– There are ten or eleven co-operative mills, and only five owned by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. The others are owned by local residents, whose whole capital is invested in the cane-growing districts. Thus the sugar industry brings about a condition of decentralization that is not achieved by any other industry.

Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917

– No country in the world’ has been able to police manufacture in the way that the honorable member’ suggests. All that- has been done has been to fix a standard.

Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920

(Extension of time granted.) - In regard to the duty proposed by the Government, my investigations in the Orient and Java lead me to believe that £9 6s. Sd. per ton will not be sufficient protection to enable Australian sugar-growers to compete satisfactorily with their rivals in the East Prices have fallen considerably. Although labour costs are not so high as they were during the war period, yet they closely approximate pre-war rates and conditions in Java. There so much labour is. available that plant canes’ are used instead of ratoons. I am going to support the proposal of the Government for a duty of £9 6s. 8d. on raw sugar as an indication that it can look to me for a. fair deal ; but, in my opinion, something more than that is necessary. I merely, wish to indicate my attitude towards the industry, and give it my full assurance of support.

Mr SCULLIN:
Yarra

.- There is very good reason to protest against the action of the Government in bringing a measure such as this down at the present juncture.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– We did not see the Tariff Board’s report until last night.

Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917

– The report could not be made available earlier than it was.

Mr SCULLIN:

– It was circulated simultaneously with this proposal, and we are expected to follow the speech 6f the Minister (Mr. Rodgers), read the report of the Tariff Board at ‘ the same time, and then give a decision as to the proper duty to be granted for the im-, provement of the sugar industry. We should not allow the measure to go through in a slip-shod manner simply because there is a generaldesire to conclude the business by to-morrow night. We have been given no information as to why this particular duty is the one that should be imposed. No opportunity has been afforded for showing whether it is or is not necessary to increase the duty to £11 6s. 8d. If the question were only that of fixing the necessary protection, we ought to protest most emphatically against the method by which the proposal has been brought down, but it is more than that. The whole of this session the Government have been defending the Sugar Agreement, against which, so far as the growers and millers are concerned, there is not much to be said, although I think some modification of the Agreement is desirable. So far as the Government’s administration goes, however, a good deal can be, and has been, said against it. The real issue is not the protection of the sugar industry. It is not a matter of whether the duty should be £6 or £11. The question before us, although the Minister has not openly said so, is one as to whether we should have Government control in future or not.

Mr Maxwell:

– That point is involved.

Mr SCULLIN:

– That is the practical question, although it is not expressely stated. There should be a definite policy announced in regard to this industry. Everybody agrees that it needs to be stabilized, and yet the Government come down with a proposal, the meaning of which honorable members have to guess. We have to guess whether it means decontrol, whether it is to be regarded as a temporary measure, or whether the permanent policy ofthe Government is to provide a duty of this description.

Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917

– I rise to order. I wish to know if the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) is in order. I think I shall be able to show that it is not. This is a Committee of Ways and Means, which is expressly formed for the purpose of introducing proposals of taxation. It has been ruled that no amendment may be moved, on a resolution introducing a taxation proposal, that is of an abstract character, and I submit that this amendment is of such a character. May, in the tenth edition at page 588, dealing with the Committee of Ways and Means, says -

The established usages of the House, in the form and method of dealing with amendments, and not the practiceinuse in the Committee of Supply (see page 581), is. followed in the Committee of Ways and Means, and every motion for amendment must relate to the matter submitted to its consideration, and is governed by the rule of relevancy.

The resolution is a taxation proposal, and, consequently, any amendment moved thereto must be relevant to taxation.

Mr Watt:

– It must bear the test of relevancy.

Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917

– On the question of “ relevancy,” May has a footnote, which says -

Amendments formerly offered to substitute for a resolution proposed by the Government, an abstract resolution condemning in argumentative terms either their financial proposals or the imposition of a tax, are not according to existing practice.

The footnote mentions a ruling of the 27th April, 1893, to which I shall refer in a few moments. May goes on to sayThough it is the function of the Committee of Ways and Means to impose rather than to repeal taxes (see page 556), examples of the repeal of taxation effected in this Committee are to be found upon the Journals. Proposals for the variation or modification of taxation can therefore be made in the Committee; but these proposals must be drafted upon the financial scheme submitted by the Government,and must not affect the balance of ways and means voted for the service of the year. Amendment, therefore, can be proposed to substitute another tax, of equivalent amount, for that proposed by the Government, as, for instance, a proposal to substitute probate and legacy duty on real property as an alternative for an inhabited house duty, the necessity of new taxation, to that extent, being already declared on behalf of the Crown.

What May makes perfectly clear is that no amendment in the Committee of Ways and Means, except an amendment relative to taxation, is permissible. The footnote on page 588 of May refers to a ruling given in the House of Commons on 27th April, 1893, and that ruling is shown in the following extract from the British Hansard -

In these circumstances, he proposed to move as an amendment to the proposal before the Committee - “ That, having regard to the provision of the Government of Ireland Bill, under which the produce of the income tax collected in Ireland is devotedto the Irish local purposes, it is inexpedient to provide for increased Imperial charges ‘by taxation to which, if the Government ‘ of Ireland Bill should become law, Ireland will contribute no part, and the whole burden of which would fall on England and Scotland.”

The CHAIRMAN:

– I must call the right honorable baronet’s attention to the fact that he is proposing to move an abstract resolution, which would be out of order in Committee of Ways and Means; but, as has already been explained to him, it is competent to him to move to reduce the sum in the ^moonie tax resolution.

It is quite clear that the amendment before us is not relevant to the subject of taxation.

Mr West:

– Why not?

Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917

– It has nothing whatever to do with taxation. The motion is for the establishment of a duty - for the levying of a duty on sugar which is imported. It is a- taxation proposal as properly understood; there is no question about that. It is quite clear that this amendment has no relevancy whatsoever to taxation, but -is an abstract proposal which, as laid down in May and in the authority to which I have referred, cannot be submitted in Committee of Ways and Means. I submit, therefore, that the amendment is out of order.

Mr Charlton:

– The Acting Leader of the House (Mr. Greene) has shown no reason to justify the point of order he has raised. To mc our Standing Orders are quite clear. Standing order 246 states -

Resolutions of the Committees of Supply and’ Ways and Means reported to the House are read a first and second time, and agreed to; or may be amended, postponed, recommitted, or disagreed to.

The motion before the Committee has reference to the imposition of certain taxation. It proposes a duty on imported sugar, and I submit that my amendment, according to that standing order, is perfectly in order. The amendment in no way increases taxation, but it docs provide a way whereby there will be no necessity to impose taxation which may be a heavy burden on the people of the Commonwealth. The amendment simply states that, in place of imposing this burden by way of taxation, an agreement should be entered into which would have the’ effect of protecting the community, and also those who grow sugar and are otherwise engaged in the industry. Standing order 247 says -

No amendment whereby the charge upon the people will be increased may be made to any such resolution, unless such charge so increased shall not exceed the charge already existing by virtue of any Act of the Parliament.

These two standing orders appear to ma quite clear on the point. The amendment does not increase the charge in any shape or form, inasmuch as it removes the necessity for any charge. Conditions would continue practically as to-day, with the exception that provision is made to enable the Government to renew an agreement which will prove more satisfactory to all concerned, protecting all engaged in the industry and also the general public. I, therefore, fail to understand why -the Minister took this point of order, and I feel sure, Mr. Chanter, that your ruling will be against the honorable gentleman.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– Although, I do notintend to vote for the amendment which has been proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), I submit that it is quite in order. Every quotation read by the Acting Leader of the House (Mr. Greene) deals entirely with direct taxation, and the object of this motion of the Government is not a tax. Every word uttered by the Minister, and every word in the report of the Tariff Board, shows that the object is to protect the sugar industry.

Mr Maxwell:

– To assist it.

Mr McWilliams:

– The sole object of the motion is to give protection to the industry. Every honorable member who ha.? spoken up to the present has regarded the proposal as one, not for an impost on the people, but for the protection of an industry of Australia; and I take it that honorable members who follow will- take the same view. The amendment merely says, in effect, that the motion before u3 being one to protest the sugar industry, another method is suggested by which, in the opinion of the mover of the amendment, the industry can be protected in a wider and safer way. Without discussing tho merits of the question, I submit that the amendment is quite in order; not only with reference to our own Standing Orders, but also with reference to the procedure of the House of Commons. As I say, every case cited by the Acting Leader has to do with direct taxation - a direct impost levied entirely as a taxing measure, and not intended, as the motion before us is, to afford protection to an industry.

Mr Watt:

– I think that the issue as stated by the Acting Leader (Mr. Greene) is quite’ clear to you,’ Mr. Chanter, and the Committee generally. It strikes me, having looked at the references which the Minister quoted, that this ia mainly a question of whether this particular procedure can be adopted in Committee of Ways and Means - not anywhere else, but in a Committee of Ways and Means. The purposes of the Committee of Ways and Means have been set clearly forth by the Minister, and are well know to honorable members, although they sometimes escape our recollection when in Committee. While the procedure adopted by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) might be quite competent in any other form in which the House sits as a whole, I think that the specific purpose for which this particular Committee is constituted and authorized by a full House, is voided if we allow abstract resolutions that are even doubtful of relevancy to impose on questions of taxation. It does not seem to me to make any difference whatever whether the proposition is for a direct or an indirect tax ; this clearly is a tax whatever its purpose or whatever its effect may be.

Mr West:

– It is a taxation measure.

Mr Watt:

– -It is a taxation measure, and nothing else.

Mr Maxwell:

– Not for purposes of revenue.

Mr Watt:

– I do not know what the purpose or effect will be. The honorable and learned member will see that we can only speculate as to the intention or probable effect of a taxation Bill.

Mr Maxwell:

– True.

Mr Watt:

– We are too often wrong in our hopes and predictions in that regard. However, technically this is a taxation Bill. I do not think that in a Committee of Ways and Means we can impose abstract or diverting proposals as amendments, proposals which in themselves are not relevant to the taxation motion before the Committee.

Mr Scullin:

– I do not think the quotations read by the Acting Leader of the House (Mr. Greene) have any bearing on the question before the Chair. The Minister’s contention is that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) lias “submitted an abstract amendment ta a taxation proposal ; but I submit that the amendment embodies a concrete proposal, and one which is relevant.

Mr Charlton:

– And similar amendments have been accepted in Committee of Ways and Means on various occasions.

Mr Scullin:

– Yes. The Minister referred to the case of an income tax collected in Ireland when an amendment which was quite foreign to the question of taxation was submitted, and which opened up the whole question of policy. The amendment of the Leader of the Opposition embodies an alternative proposal of a protective nature, and is, in my opinion, relevant. I do not wish a ruling to he given which will interfere with the power of a Committee of Ways and Means, and I confess I do not know, at this juncture, whether it would or not; but I intend to contest the point of the Minister that the amendment is not relevant. ‘ The object of the motion, as the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Mowilliams) said, is to protect the sugar industry, and the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition has been submitted for the same purpose. It is only a question of which is the better method to adopt. We believe that the best way to protect the industry is by an agreement, and the Government have suggested protection by imposing duties. I submit that the amendment is not an abstract one, but a concrete proposal, and one which is relevant to the question before the Chair.

Mr Higgs:

– -We have no Standing Orders to guide us in this matter, and the Acting Leader of the House (Mr. Greene) has quoted the practice in the House of Commons. Our Standing Orders, of course, provide that where we have no standing orders which apply, the practice of the House of Commons shall be adapted. This seems to he an alternative proposal, and an opportunity might be given of establishing a precedent.

Mr Watt:

– In defiance of the practice of the House of Commons?

Mr Higgs:

– The motion is quite clear, and there can be no doubt as to the object of the Leader of the Opposition, who, in framing his amendment, was doubtless assisted by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin). The intention of the amendment is to provide for the socialization of the sugar industry. At present the cane-growers, millers, refiners,. wholesale merchants, and retail grocers are all obtaining a profit.

Mr West:

– I rise to order. I desire to ask, Mr. Chairman, if the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs), in speaking to the point of order raised by the Acting Leader of the House (Mr. Greene), is allowed to deal with the operations of the industry to the extent of referring to the profits ma’de by those concerned ?

The CHAIRMAN (Hon J M Chanter:
RIVERINA, NEW SOUTH WALES

– The honorable member for Capricornia will be in order if he can connect his remarks with the point before the Chair.

Mr Higgs:

– I am endeavouring to establish that the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition is of an entirely different character from, that submitted by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Rodgers). The Government propose to protect the industry by imposing a duty of £9 .6s. 3d. per ton on raw sugar, £11 6s. 8d. on refined sugar, and £14 per ton on beet sugar. The socialization of the industry is,- of course, a plank of the Labour party’s platform.

The CHAIRMAN (Hon J M Chanter:

– The honorable member is now getting beyond the question under discussion.

Mr Higgs:

– I support the honorable member in his contention that this is a relevant proposition, ‘ although it is quite distinct from that of the Minister, which is to protect the industry by means of a duty, a duty which I support. The proposal of the Leader of the Opposition is to place the production and distribution of sugar under socialistic control.

Mr Watkins:

– The arguments adduced as to whether the amendment will increase or interfere in any way with the question of taxation are quite irrelevant to the point. We are in Committee of Ways and Means, and the Minister (Mr. Greene) wishes us to follow a certain course in connexion with the protection of the industry. The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) provides that another method should be adopted, and it has nothing whatever to do with increasing or decreasing taxation, but merely indicates that a certain course should be followed in the interests of the industry. I cannot see that there can be any doubt as to its relevancy.

The CHAIRMAN “(Hon J M Chanter:
RIVERINA, NEW SOUTH WALES

– The Acting Leader pf the House (Mr. Greene) has asked for ‘my ruling on several grounds, and particularly on the statement made hy him that the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) is not relevant to the motion before the Chair. The Leader of the Opposition has directed my attention to standing order No. 246, which reads : -

Resolutions of the Committee of Supply and Ways and Means reported . to the House are read a first and second time, and agreed to; or may be amended, postponed, recommitted, or disagreed to.

There is no difference of opinion on that point. He also quoted standing order No. 247, which reads: -

No amendment whereby the charge upon the people will he increased may be made to any such resolution, unless such charge so increased shall not exceed the charge already existing; by virtue of any Act of the Parliament. .

Both of these standing orders must be read in conjunction, with others, which provide that all amendments must berelevant to the motions proposed; and thestanding orders quoted, in my opinion, dc* not relate to this question at all. Our first standing order provides that where we have no standing order governing the matter under consideration, we shall resort to the practice of the House of Commons. In the short time at my disposal, I have looked up the tenth and twelfth editions of May. The motion before the Chair is: -

That the schedule to the Customs Tariff. 1921-1922 be amended as hereunder set out, and’ that on and after the twelfth day of October, One thousand nine hundred and twentytwo, at nine o’clock in the forenoon, Victorian time, duties of Customs be collected in pursuance of the Customs Tariff as so amended.

I ask honorable members to note that theresolution deals with duties of Customs, and with nothing else. May, in both of the editions to which I have referred, states -

The established usages of the House, in theform and method of dealing with amendments, and not the practice in use in the Committee of Supply (see page 581), is followed in the Committee” of Ways and Means; and every motion for amendment must relate to the matter submitted to its consideration, and is governed by the rule of relevancy.

I have endeavoured to bring my mind’ to bear most carefully and impartially upon the question whether the amendment of the honorable member for Hunter is relevant. I can find therein no allusion to the Tariff, or to a rate of duty. The amendment deals with ‘an agreement; it states that an agreement should be made, but it does not indicate by whom. Then it proceeds to suggest the imposition of other conditions. I have always given full consideration and liberty to honorable members in Committee of Ways and Means in the matter of their rights to increase rates of duty, and on one occasion, when the subject-matter of review by myself was referred to Mr. Speaker, he indorsed my ruling. I regret that I have not had more time to examine this very important question, but I am bound in the present case by our Standing Orders to refer to the practice of the British House of Commons. That clearly indicates what I have already stated; and a footnote to the extract which I have quoted points out that an abstract resolution is not in order since it can have no connexion or relevancy with the direct matter before the Chair. It is not the province pf the Chairman to inquire whether the imposition of a rate of duty is for protective or revenue purposes, or for any other purpose. As this amendment does not deal with the question submitted in the resolution, I am reluctantly compelled to give my opinion that it is not in order.

Mr SCULLIN:

– W - We bow to your ruling, Mr. Chairman, but I am bound to point out that the object of the Minister in raising his point of order was to save the faces of a good many of those who sit behind him. The attitude adopted by the Opposition is precisely that which many Government supporters in this House strenuously argued and advocated only a few weeks ago. One honorable member behind the Treasury bench was so keen in his support of that which the Opposition is now advocating that he actually had himself expelled from a public meeting in this city in order that attention might be drawn to the fact that he was, and is. an outandout supporter of Government control. Some men adopt very drastic methods of securing publicity; but it is not often that a member -of this House, in pursuance of advertisement, deliberately sets at defiance the chair at >a public meeting - especially when the chair is occupied by a lady - and has a limb of the law escort him out of the building.

Senator GUTHRIE:
HUNTER, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– Order ! I ask the honorable member to discuss the matter before the Chair.

Mr SCULLIN:

– I regret that I may not draw further attention to the wonderful somersaulting of certain honorable members upon the subject of Government control. I am sorry that some members with whom I had found myself in agreement - that is, with their views, but not with their conduct in public places - should now part company with me.

Notwithstanding the ruling of the Chair concerning what may, or may not, be done in Committee of Ways and Means, I submit that the resolution is not a question of taxation, or of raising revenue, or of providing’ a new protection for the sugar industry. It is a question of providing an alternative to the existing agreement. .Those members who vote upon the resolution should do so with their eyes open. They must perceive that they are voting for or against the continuation of Government control of the sugar industry. It is the duty of the Government to make that clear. If there is one industry more than any other which requires to be stabilized, it is tha sugar industry. If the Government were to announce straight out what they intend, the industry would know where it stood: But the Government will not announce whether or not they stand for the continuance of the agreement. The honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) interpreted the intention of the Government - probably having a little more inside knowledge than I possess; and I think he interpreted it correctly. I believe that the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) will indicate that he has made a similar interpretation, namely, that the proposed duties are an alternative - indefinitely stated - to tha renewal of the sugar agreement.

Mr Watt:

– Hear, hear! And that should have been admitted.

Mr SCULLIN:

– I congratulate tho Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page) on his temporary conversion to the socialization of industry.

Mr FOLEY:

– And to a high Tariff also.

Mr SCULLIN:

– Not to a high Tariff, but to a prohibitive Tariff. I stand for a prohibitive . Tariff in respect of an industry such as this, which can supply all our needs, and which furnishes the only white-grown sugar in the world. I stand for the prohibition of the importation of the product of black labour ; and I am glad to find myself, upon this principle, in agreement with the Leader of the Country party. The fact somewhat compensates me for the loss of the moral support of the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr.Higgs), who, on this occassion, has so egregiously deserted his principles. The Leader of the Country party stands for the socialization of the sugar industry.

Mr.Gibson.- I do not think so.

Mr SCULLIN:

– Yes, with the details laid down and perfected, and with all the wheels of the machinery well oiled and greased. He has everything in the machine complete for the socialization of the industry by the Government, with democratic control by those in the industry. In fact, he has torn a leaf out of the book of the Labour objective. I congratulate him on his conversion to that extent. I congratulate him with greater emphasis, because it is only two months since he rose in his place and opposed a motion that I moved to protest against selling the Geelong Woollen Mills - that wonderful profit-making concern which, at the bidding of vested interests in this country, is to be sold by the Government. When I looked for support from the Country party and the Leader of that party - from those who were interested in the production of wool and other primary products, and who might be expected to advocate that Australian wool should be worked up by our own factories under Government control - I did not receive it. The honorable gentleman opposed the motion, not because he could see anything against it, not because the factory was not efficiently managed or was not making good profits, but because he was against the principle of Government control. In order to prove that Go- vernment control was bad, he instanced some things which he said had happened in connexion with the railways. I put the relevant question to him, “ Would you sell the railways? “ Hereplied, “Yes, I would, if we could sell them on the same basis as thaton which we are disposing of the woollen mills.” -The honorable member, who supports theselling of the woollen mills, which are a profit-making concern, and who would sell our railways, now enthusiastically supports the socialization of the sugar industry.

Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920

– Not at all.

Mr SCULLIN:

– I am not condemning my honorable friend; I am congratulating him. I have considerable admiration for him personally. I have had it in spite of his very Conservative and antiSocialistic views. I am delighted to find myself in agreement with him this morning, and his political views on this question make his personal qualities the more endearing to me. I hope it is the beginning of a new era for him. I trust he is beginning to see the light, and that we shall soon have the spectacle of members of the anti-Socialist party, and the de-control party, occupying the gaps left by such people as the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs), who has deserted the policy of control, which he supported at considerable personal selfsacrifice on an important occasion.

Honorable members, by their vote on this question, are asked to vote out the agreement, and vote in a Protective duty. Honorable members on the other side of the House say they stand for a duty as against control, because they are opposed to the principle of Government control. They are prepared to advocate a free hand to big interests, irrespective of what the consequences may be. I ask honorable members to recall the position that existed in Australia when we had an effective Tariff to protect the sugar industry and there was no. Government control. I invite the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), particularly, to throw his mind back to that time, because there is no man in public life to-day who played a bigger part then in discussing the sugar question, and the control of the industry by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, than he. The Labour party sat on the other side of this House from 1910 to 1913, and during that time there was adequate protection, because £6 per ton then provided as adequate a degree of protection as £9 provides to-day. Will anybody in the House to-day say that we then had conditions in the industry which weredesirable ? Honorable mem- bers now want to go back to those conditions. I invite them to refer to the columns of the Melbourne Age, which sent special ^representatives . to Queensland to inquire into the conditions in the industry. They said that from the growing of the cane to the last final act of putting the sugar into bags, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company completely controlled the industry from end to end of the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister repeated those statements throughout the Commonwealth, and he advocated an alteration of the Constitution to give this Parliament power to establish nationallyowned sugar companies.

There was a big contest at that time between the Melbourne Age and the Prime Minister, who was then AttorneyGeneral, as to whether Parliament had the constitutional powers to enable it to do so. The Prime Minister argued that it had not, and tha Age contended that it had, but both were in agreement that the industry should be nationalized. In 1915 the first attempt was made by Parliament to overcome the monopoly. A Labour- Government was in power in Queensland for the first time, and Labour was in office in this House. An agreement was entered into which provided, for1 the first time, some effective relief. Arrangements were made under the agreement for something like adequate payment to the men in the -industry, protection was given to the growers against the squeezing operations of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and sugar was provided to the consumers at 3d. per lb. Labour Governments were in power in Queensland and the Commonwealth, and for the first time in the history of Australia the Colonial Sugar Refining Company was effectively controlled. A clear profit of £415,000 was made, but as soon as the split came in the Labour party, and Labour went out of office, almost complete control was handed back to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. The profit of £415,000 waa confiscated from the sugar account and spent by this Government. We know what has happened as a result of control by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. The whole of tha condemnation of Government control to-day is not reallY because of Government control in itself, but because of alleged control by a Government which has really transferred control to the biggest monopoly in

Australia. When the Labour . party advocates- agreements and control of the sugar industry, it does not advocate a continuation of existing conditions, but a return to the effective control which the Labour party exercised in 1915 and 1916. In order to give honorable members an idea of the position obtaining in the industry in 1912, I will read a very interesting quotation. The Prime Minister was then Attorney-General, and waa one of the Leaders of this House. H* had no greater critic than the Minister for Defence (Mr. Greene), and nobody gave the Minister for Defence nastier turns than did the Prime Minister. I quote from Hansard of the 28th August, 1912, pages 2697-8. The present Minister for Defence made a severe attack upon the late Mr. Tudor, who was then Minister for Trade and Customs. This is what he said -

The Minister for Trade and Customs has, in the most arbitrary way, suddenly taken it upon himself to raise the wages of those employed in that (the sugar) industry from 26s. to 36s. a week and keep. . . . Further, the Minister, by these regulations, has shortened the hours of work from fifty-six to forty-eight per week. I think the regulations have been -issued with an utter disregard of the interests of the industry. . . The growers in my district have met and ‘have, through me, sent a telegram to him declaring their determination that unless the rates are altered, no more cane shall be planted in New South Wales this year. . . . These regulations have been issued more from the point of view of political bribery than anything else, and with an absolutely callous disregard of the interests concerned’.

Strange to say, while I do not agree with the castigation that the honorable member thus administered to the late Mr. Tudor, I do agree that there was in a sense some justification for his protests. Although the regulations issued by the Labour Government at that time provided for what after all was only a miserable pittance, it was an injustice to the growers that they should have to pay 36s. per week and keep to their men in view of the conditions under which they were forced to work by the monopoly. That was the situation with which we were faced. As a Labour Government we had to try to get decent conditions for the workers. And who will say that in 1912 a wage of 36s. per week and keep was too much for men who had to work in’ the canefields of .Queensland ? The present Minister. for Defence (Mr.

Greene), as a representative of the sugargrowers, was convinced, however, that the payment of such a wage would be ruinous. I believe that, to some extent, it was a hardship on the industry. Our answer to the honorable member’s complaint was, not that the men should be sweated to make the sugar industry possible, but that the vice-like grip of the monoply should be removed. It was, for the first time, by the agreement of 1915, and the industry was given a chance. It Vis, however, the agreement of 1920 with which we have to deal. What has happened under it ? We have had in connexion with the sugar control one of the most miserable spectacles that any Government couldpresent. We have had, on the part of this Government, the sorry admission that they have not kept books or documents relating to the control of the sugar business, and know nothing about it. They had almost to go cap in hand to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company to obtain the facts for which we asked. They had not kept any books, but the people with whom they had made the agreement had. A most loose business system was adopted by the Government. I do not say that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company conducts its business in a loose way; as a matter of fact, it is one of the most efficient companies in Australia. It is, indeed, altogether too efficient for this Government. During the last two years the company has almost doubled its profits. They jumped from £289,565, or a return of 8.90 per. cent. for the twelve months ending March, 1920, to £452,191, or a return of 17.39 per cent. for the twelve months ending March, 1922. The company has just about doubled its percentage of profits since the last agreement was entered into, and this is because they have been allowed to do as they please.

While the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) was speaking last night, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Rodgers) interjected that this agreement was ratified by the Queensland Labour Government. I ask him whether he is prepared to repeat that statement to-day. The agreement, so far as it fixes the charges to be made by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, has nothing to do with the Queensland Labour Administration.

Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917

– It was ratified by the Sugar Council, on which the Australian Workers Union is represented.

Mr SCULLIN:

– The honorable gentleman is not putting the position fairly. The agreement ratified by the Labour Government of Queensland and the Australian Workers Union fixes the price of £30 6s. 8d. per ton for raw sugar, and has nothing at all to do with any of the “ perks “ that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company gets out of the sugar control.

Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917

– The whole of the conditions had the approval of the Australian Workers Union.

Mr SCULLIN:

– Up to the point of the production of raw sugar at £30 6s. 8d. per ton, that is so,but the conditions as to the refining, distribution, and other charges, which have enabled the Colonial Sugar Refining Company to double its profits, have not been ratified by the Labour Government of Queensland. Those conditions are covered by a wholly different arrangement.

Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917

– Inasmuch as the Colonial Sugar Refining Company in 1915 received the same amount per ton as it received in 1920 and 1921, how did they come to double their profits in the period mentionedby the honorable member?

Mr.SCULLIN. - I have quoted figures from the company’s balance-sheet showing that they have doubled their profits.

Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917

-But not out of sugar.

Mr.SCULLIN.- I ask the honorable gentleman to answer his own question. We should like very much to know how the company has been able to make these profits. I have read some of the press reports of the proceedings before the Public Accounts Committee, which has been inquiring into the question of sugar control, and I notice that it has beenunable to extract any information from the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. I well recollect that the present Prime Minister, when Attorney-General in a Labour Administration, said that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company would furnish no information to theRoyal Commission on Sugar. As Attorney-General he forced the company to the Privy Council with the object of compelling its representative before the Commission to answer certain questions put to him,. but he was unsuccessful. Let me give honorable members “the following quotation from the report of .the Commission,’ which was made in this House some years ago by the’ present Prime Minister, who was then Attorney-General. It relates to the examination of Mr. Knox, who was representing the company before the Commission. He was ‘asked -

Did tho Colonial Sugar Refining Company contribute ?50,000 to support the opposition to the proposed law to alter the Constitution relating to monopolies which was submitted to the electors on 26th April?

Mr. Knox replied

That is a matter I am not prepared to give information upon.

Then he was asked -

You did not make the contribution?

His reply was -

I do not say we did not make the contribution; we did not make that contribution.

The right honorable gentleman’s comment on this quotation was, “ I will leave it to honorable members to draw their own conclusions.” The : Prime Minister read this extract from the evidence of the Commission when he was submitting for the consideration of the House Bills providing for. a second referendum on a proposal to so amend the Constitution as to give this Parliament power to deal with monopolies.

What is responsible for the change that has again come over this Government? Only two months ago I referred to the remarkable change that had come over the policy of the Government with regard te the Commonwealth Woollen Mill. A. year ago they proposed to double the output of the mill, , and the sum of ?45,000, to enable its plant to be duplicated, was provided on the Estimates. Later on they came along with a proposal to sell the mill. The power that forced them to do that has forced them to take this action. It is only two months since the Minister for Trade and Customs in this House eloquently defended the Sugar Agreement, and spoke of its success. Apparently the agreement is now to be thrown overboard. It is apparent that the Private Industries League, or some other power behind the Government today, has decided that all Government control ‘of industry must go. The sugar industry is again to he left to ‘the tender mercies of a company which the present Prime Minister some years ago described as “ the most rapacious monopoly Australia has ever, known.” That was his description of the Colonial Sugar Refining ‘Company.

Mr McWILLIAMS:
FRANKLIN, TASMANIA · REV TAR; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; CP from 1920; IND from 1928

– And he was quite right, too.

Mr SCULLIN:

– H - He was. By voting for this Bill honorable members will wipe out the possibility of future agreements for control ; they will be voting to return this industry to the position it occupied before the first agreement was signed. The duty then in force was as adequate for the protection of the industry as is that to which we are now asked to agree. Compared with the price in other countries, we were paying, even then, too high a price for our sugar. No one proved that fact more conclusively than did the Prime Minister.

Mr Gibson:

– Why does the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, want to abandon the control if, as the honorable member says, they have made under it twice as much as they made before?

Mr.- Charlton. - They will make a lot more if this proposal is agreed to.

Mr SCULLIN:

– I would answer the honorable member by saying that a monopoly can make as much profit when it is controlled by its friends as it can when there is no control over it, and probably the company could make more money when the importation of sugar was prohibited, and when it could handle the whole of .the requirements of Australia, than it could prior to the- period of control, *when there was some slight competition.

Mr Bell:

– But the honorable member tells us that as the company have “ cracked the whip,” control is to cease.

Mr SCULLIN:

– Yes ; because they fear a change of Government and the prospect of a different class of control. Members are informed that the duty pro posed amounts to Id. per lb., but it is really more. The protection which the Colonial Sugar Refining Company will get is ?11 6s. 8d. per ton, whereas the grower will be protected to the extent of only ?9 6s. 8d. per ton.

Mr Corser:

– All white sugar refiners will get the advantage of a protection of £11 6s. 8d. per ton.

Mr SCULLIN:

– Outside the Colonial “Sugar Refining Company’s operations i there is. very little sugar refined in Aus- tralia. There are some mills making mill whites, but most of the sugar consumed in Australia percolates from the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and it is they who are getting this extra protection. The Tariff Board recommended a duty of j£9 6s. 8d. per ton all round, but the Government come to this House and say, in effect, “ While we give the growers a duty of £9 6s. 8d. per ton, we are adding a further £2 per ton in order to protect a big monopoly.” How can honorable members be expected to support such a proposition ? Those who vote for the resolution will be voting to hand over the sugar industry to the clutches of the worst monopoly we have yet experienced in Australia. We have been prevented from submitting one amendment, but in order that the matter may be tested, I -move -

That all the words after “ That “ be left out, -with a view to inserting the following words in lieu thereof : - “ the question of imposing a duty on sugar be postponed until the House is in receipt of the report of the Public Accounts Committee regarding the Sugar Agreement.”

Mr WATT:
Balaclava

.- The procedure adopted by the Government in bringing down this resolution in Committee of Ways and Means is very unfortunate. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) has condemned its introduction in the dying hours of the session, and it is perfectly clear that the action of the Government in submitting without notice, within the last day or two of the House’ rising for a general election, and at a time when dissolution is not only in the air but is actually prepared for, a proposition as important as this is not fair to Parliament nor to the interests affected. Particularly is this so because it is only a few days since we were discussing, at the invitation of the House, with the Prime Minister and the Government, the business that had to be decided before the House rose, and the Prime Minister himself gave a list of questions that he considered ought to 04 dealt with.

Mr Hughes:

– I . did not say that the list I gave would be exclusive of other measures. I said that those I mentioned were all that I knew of at the time.

Mr WATT:

– The explanation of the right honorable gentleman is not sufficient. As Leader of the House, he must know everything about the business-sheet. But even if he did not know of this matter when he spoke the other day, it is equally unfortunate that we, without being apprised of the intention of the Government, should find ourselves suddenly plunged into the consideration of an important problem, with fresh matter launched for the first time by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Rodgers), who is in charge of this resolution, and should be expected to debate it the moment the Minister sat down. The position is trebly unfortunate, because I understand . that at the present time in this building the Joint Committee of Public Accounts is examining some phases of the sugar problem. How far it has gone in its deliberations we are not informed. How long it will be before we can get the Committee’s report, we do not know. Whether it will bear upon the future of the sugar industry, as the Minister’s resolution is designed to do, no ordinary private member is in a position to say. Some of the members of that Committee, who are in the Chamber now, feeling possibly that the question is one that should be dealt with here and not in a Committee room, are the only persons who can tell how far their Committee has gone. I do not accuse the Government of having taken this step with deliberation, but, as a private member who hae endeavoured, to study this problem,’ and has not pronounced flam- boyantly upon it one way or the other, I have found it almost impossible to decide the issues in that calm tempered and reasoned way which their importance demands. The Minister, in submitting his resolution, was unfair to himself and the Committee in not being more frank as to its purpose. Honorable members, by interjections, have endeavoured to elicit from him an acknowledgement that the adoption of the resolution meant the abandonment of the old agreement system, or that the imposition of a higher duty upon sugar was to be regarded as a substitution for the policy hitherto adopted by the Government. But tha Minister would not say whether that was so or not. He left himself open.

He gave what T regarded, and then said, was an evasive answer, which was not fair treatment of those Queenslanders who are vitally interested in this matter, of the consumers who aire in another way equally interested, or of honorable members who carry the responsibility” of deciding the matter here and then going to their constituents.

Mr Hughes:

– Does not the honorable member think, after all, that it is a matter of some importance to the man who is. going to plant .cane that he should know where he will stand ?

Mr WATT:

– I do, and after the memorable trip of Ministers to Queensland, where months and months ago they collected their impressions on this question, surely Parliament was entitled to expect them to submit their proposals earlier than they have done, so that the question might be judged calmly and without the terror of an election death before honorable members. Dealing with the question as to whether the carrying of this resolution does mean a substitution of policy, one phrase in the report of the Tariff Board, which the Minister submitted for the consideration of- the Committee, makes it clear that the Board considers it to be an abandonment of control and a proposal to protect the industry by means of imposing a duty. lit the first page of its report the Board’ uses these words! -

As a means of protecting the sugar industry the Board strongly indorses the granting of a protective duty in preference to the extension of an agreement.

T am. prepared to vote on this question as if the two things were alternative methods of dealing with the one problem, and I think that every honorable member, no matter how he votes, must inevitably take that view. Whether we be advocates of the southern consumers, ignorant of the wants of the northern producers and millers ox otherwise, it is clear that if this resolution be agreed to the Queenslander must regard it as an announcement that there will be no further agreement, and the consumer will know that henceforth the industry must live on its protective duty, just “as other industries are bound to do. That is the frame of mind in which I propose to discuss the resolution, and when the opportunity is provided later in Committee, I shall move certain amendments to the schedule.

Mr Hughes:

– Later?

Mr WATT:

– Yes ; there may be a good deal done later. The right honorable gentleman cannot say that I have consumed too1 much of this session’s time. The only occasions on which I have spoken this week were when I endeavoured to help his own Treasurer to get a very important Bill through the Committee, and there was no obstruction in any of my efforts.

Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m

Mr WATT:

– - I was endeavouring tn show that the procedure adopted in connexion with the introduction of this motion was unfortunate. 1 am afraid to think that -it has also to some extent prejudiced the interests that we all feel bound to consider. To us southerners this is -a very complicated problem. It is comparatively simple to those who ban been reared in the north, and are familia with the cane-growing and milling it. dustry; but all we in the south can dis to listen to all that can be said, rea what is authoritatively .written, and form the best judgment possible upon that data. I frankly admit that I have never been in the cane-fields of Queensland, and I am conscious, as all we who live in the southern States must be, of some disability in judging this question on the information that is in our hands. However, I wish to consider it not as a political question, but as a purely economic one, for it is that, and all subjects dealt with by a Tariff should be so regarded. Having studied the question as best I am able to do, I am opposed to any extension of the Sugar Agreement, but I am in favour of increasing the duty.

As to the Agreement, I have always regarded purchase bv the Commonwealth and governmental control to the point of consumption as a war expedient. I think it succeeded in, perhaps, a larger measure than most people had expected. If one wishes to assess the measure of that success, he has to think of what would have been the position of Australia during the war without any arrangement of that kind. . There would have been periods in the middle and later stages of the war when we would have either been without sugar, if we had not grown it in the Commonwealth, or we would have had to ask the Empire or the shipping interests associated with it to withdraw vessels from important work in the war zone in order to supply us with sugar. Broadly speaking, the prices people paid for sugar, the manner in which the scheme was operated, and the result to the consumers during the war period, may be regarded as a complete success. But now that we are returning to normal times - at any rate the war is past, and we are hoping that its economic aftermath will shortly disappear - Governments in this country should be able, in the near future, to get out of trade. I have made no secret of my view that in normal times the Government are not justified in embarking on enterprises which are best conducted by private interests, and that, broadly, is why I am opposed to an extension of the Sugar Agreement.

As to the proposed duty, the sugar industry, like every other industry in Australia, is entitled to protection. This one is, perhaps, specially entitled to it more than a great number of other industries, because by its stabilization we increase our holding and the productive power of our sub-tropical regions. We render a White Australia safer by increasing the population in the north, and stimulating the production of crops of this kind, which in most, if not all, other countries are produced by black labour. We are entitled to give the sugar industry a sufficiently high duty to enable it to live and thrive. That is my view as a Protectionist. We should take into account all the circumstances in which the industry originated, its present stage of development, and the fact that its competition comes from countries where the bulk, if not all, of the operators in the sugar industry are coloured people. But honorable members who come from Queensland, and who advocate either a higher duly or a renewal of the Agreement, will admit that the onus is on every industry to prove that it requires a duty and to demonstrate to the satisfaction of Parliament how high that duty should be. That has been attempted by the sugar interests. But in recent years, judging from public agitation, they have pinned their faith to a renewal of the agreement rather than to an increase of the protective duty.

Mr Corser:

– The sugar interests throughout. Queensland have asked for a duty of £14 per ton.

Mr WATT:

– I am aware of that. Apparently the Tariff Board were intrusted by the Government with the task of reporting as to whether the duty should be increased, and if so, whether the amount should be the £14 for which the sugar interests asked. The Board have submitted a very interesting report. Their meaning is quite clear, and it seems to me that the report, prepared quickly as it apparently was, is a testimony to the ability of the men who constitute the Board. But clearly the Board have not had time in which to investigate on the spot the conditions of the industry. They have judged by representations, documents, and figures, and have made their calculations accordingly.

Mr Burchell:

– They do not claim that they have been to Queensland.

Mr WATT:

– No, but I am stressing that fact lest the report be regarded as the result of an examination on the spot. They apparently realized the disability under which they suffered in that regard, and I think they also realized that a thorough examination of such a problem as this would occupy a long time, which, because of their other multifarious duties, they have not been able to spare. But even when they did report, they were not explicit enough on one particular point of the problem. That fact is proved by the figures which are included in the motion now before the Committee. The Board recommended a maximum duty of £9 6s. 8d. for cane sugar. The Minister for Trade and Customs has told the Committee that that duty is meant to apply only to raw sugar, and he has brought along another proposition to impose a further £2 of duty on imported mill whites and refined sugar. I see nothing in the report of the Board to justify the Minister’s assumption that they did not mean £9 6s. 8d. to cover all forms of sugar.

Mr Brennan:

– On the contrary, they were against a duty of l½d. per lb.

Mr WATT:

– Yes; but the Minister has submitted a proposal that is almost equivalent to l¼d. per lb. My own impression is that the proposed duty of £9 6s. 8d. is intended to be substituted for £6 in the existing Tariff schedule, and to apply to all forms of sugars, because the present schedule does not differentiatebetween sugar in its different stages of manufacture. In the absence of better information than we have at the present time from the Tariff Board, or any one else, I am not prepared to vote for the duty proposed by the Minister, on his assumption that the Tariff Board made a mistake. I am prepared, however, to vote for the figures recommended by the Board,’ and 1 give notice that, at the proper time, I shall move an amendment to make item 2S read-

Sugar, the produce of sugar cane, per ton, £9 6s. 8d., British, intermediate, and general.

That wording will be clearly in line with the recommendation of the Tariff Board.

Mr Pratten:

– .Would , not the honorable member also amend item 29 ?

Mr WATT:

– I am not in a position to discuss that item. I assume that the Minister will supply the Committee with whatever information is necessary in regard to it. So far he has not explained the items of the schedule seriatim. I am dealing only with the governing item of cane sugar, upon which a duty of £9 6s. 8d. has been recommended by the Board. I am prepared to support that proposal, and to treat it as a substitution for an extension of the Agreement, knowing that it cannot operate until the present Agreement expires on the 30th June, 1923.

Mr Fenton:

– If the increased duty is not to operate until then, what is the necessity for proposing it now?

Mr WATT:

– The explanation given quite frankly by the Minister is that the cane-growers are entitled to some assurance before the expiration of the existing Agreement which will encourage them to plant up their areas and keep the canegrowing industry going. They are being given, at least, seven or eight months’ notice of the new duty, and I think that a big industry of this kind is entitled to that consideration.

This question is complicated to many of us by the position of the big company in the sugar operations of Australia. I refer to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. It has been attacked most vigorously by honorable members opposite, particularly the honorable members for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) and Yarra (Mr. Scullin). I am not here to defend the company, and I know little about it, except from what appears in the press and public documents in relation to this matter; but I suggest that there may be another side to the argument advanced by the two honorable members whom I have mentioned. I cannot believe that Australia would ever have had a big sugar industry but for the establishment of some such organization as the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. Whether or not it is monopolistic, rapacious, or cruel, it has played its part in building up a great industry, and I am led to believe, by published matter, that in the past, by its advances to growers and the general assistance and stimulus given to the industry, it has contributed to the development of sugar production in a more marked way than honorable members opposite apparently’ know of or will admit.

Mr Scullin:

– Even the slave-owner will feed his slaves.

Mr WATT:

– I have not heard any suggestion that the cane-growers have been slaves. It may be that the company has received more profit than the grower thinks it should have, but there is no suggestion of servitude.

Mr Fenton:

– The growers have been serfs in the past, and may be so again if we are not careful.

Mr WATT:

– I am not prepared to accept, without proof, the figures showing the enormous increase in the company’s profits, amounting to probably more than 17 per cent, per annum on the paid-up capital. It has been pointed out already that as the company does business over a much wider area than Australia, yet brings all its profits into the parent company’s balance-sheet, therefore, one might easily be misled as to what profit it is making on its Australian operations. Queensland members who have studied that phase of the sugar problem should explain it to the Committee, in justice to all the interests concerned. If, as some honorable members opposite suggest, by refusing an extension of the present Agreement, and allowing the industry to depend entirely upon a protective duty, we shall place the growers at the mercy of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company,, there is a clear remedy available. It is not the business of the Common-, wealth Government to provide a remedy of the kind, but it is the business, and within the power, of the State Governments, as the Queensland Government has already shown by its attempts at regulation by legislation, to decide and adjust all those relationships.

Mr Scullin:

– The arm of the States is not so long.

Mr WATT:

– The arm of the States may be shorter than that of the Commonwealth, but within its area it is much stronger. In matters of this kind, if it be found that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is inflicting injury on the basic men engaged in the trade, who are growing and harvesting cane, it is the duty of the State authority to apply a remedy.

I have now only to deal with another phase, relating to the sugar used in the manufactures for export purposes. The Minister (Mr. Rodgers) has, I think, made it clear that it is his desire - we have had no such announcement as a Government intention - -‘to see that the manufacturing interests connected with the production of export jam, milk, and so forth, which calls for large quantities of sugar for the purpose, should get, under any arrangement of this kind, the world’s parity or its equivalent. ,

Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917

– That has been the practice, and I do not think any Government would refrain from following it. It is the practice in other countries.

Mr WATT:

– I do not see how any Government, without great injury to associated industries, could refuse. This, I think, will give great encouragement to men engaged in these operations, and I hope that whatever is the result - an agreement or a duty - they will get what the Minister desires. It would be more satisfactory, however, if it ‘ were announced as the definite intention of the Government, instead of as the desire of one Minister, which conveys less assurance than a declaration of policy by the Government as a whole. This is the point on which the consumer has strong views. We have hitherto given substantial concessions to enable an increased export of those lines, at the expense of the domestic users of sugar. The man who buys his pound of sugar is helping to give his quota of that assistance; and this is the only industry where that sort of thing is done. I think the Minister should consider the question that, if it is going to cost a substantial sum to give these con cessions, the burden should be distributed in another way.

Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917

– It will be done under a duty system.

Mr WATT:

– And probably by a bounty. However it is done, it is not fair to the domestic user of sugar, as a user, to have to pay the whole of the amount. Consumers in the southern States have been excited on the question. Though much of the agitation may have been illfounded, it was largely due to the fact that full information relating to the sugar accounts was not dug up in time to furnish, the facts.

Mr Brennan:

– I think the housewife knew. She was paying 6d. a lb.

Mr WATT:

– People knew what they were paying, but they did not know what it was costing to distribute the sugar to them; in fact, the last and the only authoritative information is in the interim report of the Public Accounts Committee, which tells us that the price1 cannot be lower than a certain figure until 1st November, as the Government propose. However, it is the undoubted duty of this Legislature, led by the Government, to reconcile the interests of the producer and consumer of sugar. If we can do that, and thus keep thrifty, prosperous, and efficient a great industry such as this in the northern part of Australia, it is our duty to make the attempt. I shall support the proposal for a duty, but I shall hope to make it what the Tariff Board recommends, namely, Id. per lb., or £9 6s. 8d. per ton.

Mr HUGHES:
Prime Minister · Bendigo · NAT

– It is very unfortunate that at this stage of the session a matter so contentious and so provocative of discussion should have been laid on the table. I sympathize with those honorable members who seem to find it so difficult to detach themselves from this seductive, and adhesive subject. I am sorry, indeed, that there is not more time, but I shall try and set an example of brevity in dealing with the position. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) expressed surprise, not that we are doing this, but that we have chosen such a stage of the session at which to do it. He said that if it were a thing . to be well done, it ought to have been done long ago, and that, fortified as some of the Ministers were by their visits to, Queensland, the

Government should have introduced (heir policy when there was more time to discuss it. 1 am sure the honorable gentleman does not really suffer from loss of memory to such an. extent as he would have us believe. Se must be able to remember what has taken place in this Parliament during this session; he must remember the time that has been taken uo in the consideration of relatively unimportant matters which had, as the best excuse for their introduction, a desire not to benefit the public but to displace the Government. I stated recently that the number of motions of censure proposed was fourteen or fifteen, but I am informed by my staff that there have been no fewer than seven- . teen. The honorable member has been too long a member of Parliament not to know what these votes of censure mean. I think the Government have done very well, considering all the circumstances, to have advanced so f ar and to have placed to their credit on the statute-book so much valuable legislation. I have shown one reason why we have not done what the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt), in his ample leisure, would have had us do, namely, bring down ‘at an earlier stage of the session this most important matter. The second point I wish to make is that the appointment of a Tariff Board renders it incumbent on the Government to seek the advice and act on the recommendations of that Board in all matters relat-ing to the Tariff. The Government cannot be expected to utterly ignore the Tariff Board, which has been most busily engaged’ since its appointment with matters of vital importance. The Board has, I think, earned the encomiums of the commercial community for the manner in which it has carried out its duties though it has not escaped censure - none can. The reason this business was introduced only last night is that it was only on the previous day that we received the report and recommendations of the Board. That, I think, is an answer to the honorable member for Balaclava.

Now I come to the question - Why do we introduce this proposal at all? Notwithstanding that the Board recommends what is being done, why do Ave introduce the matter now? We do so because we have no right whatever to leave in suspense those men who have committed their fortunes to this industry. The honorable member for Balaclava referred to a White Australia, and suggested that we ought to attempt to do something to preserve it. Surely we ought to do- something more than attempt to preserve it. We ought at all hazards to preserve a White Australia, for if a White Australia falls we fall with it. It is not a question of how much we can afford to pay for. a White Australia, for. there is nothing that we must not be prepared to pay for it. That, at all events, is my doctrine, and I shall stand by it, no matter what comes or goes. Those who are interested in this industry point out that they have an Agreement which terminates on 30th June next, and they wish bo know what their position will be after that date. They ask us what are we going to put in the place of the Agreement - a renewed agreement, a substituted agreement, or a higher duty? The policy of the Government being to afford adequate protection to the industry, and the time being clearly inadequate to even consider the question of an agreement, if such were thought desirable, there remained only the one thing to do, and we are doing it. We have said to those in the industry, “ You shall not be the football of circumstances, the plaything of party,” for it has been shown clearly that that is what some honorable gentlemen in this House would make of the sugar industry of Queensland. We desire that those engaged in the sugar industry shall have the same assurance as that which every other industry in Australia receives. We, therefore, undertake to place on the statute-book a duty which will protect the industry if the new Parliament does not renew the existing agreement or substitute another. In this we- are doing that which common sense, and our duty to those men, and to the country, prompt us to do. We believe that land settlement is essential to Australia, and unless the cane-growers know where they stand, they will abandon the industry which is the only industry which has been experimentally proved to be fit for the tropical parts of Australia.

What I have said will, I think, clear away all preliminary objections to the proposals of my honorable colleague. As to the amount of duty we stand by the recommendation of the Tariff Board, and we require no other support. We are satisfied that the recommendation is well grounded. The honorable member says that the Tariff Board has not had1 sufficient time to thoroughly consider the matter. Well, it may be that had greater time been afforded, the Board might have made more exhaustive inquiries. There is, however, a simple way in which honorable members may satisfy themselves as to whether this industry ia receiving more protection than is granted to other in’dustries. That is by a comparison of present conditions with those existing when the duty of £6 per ton was im- posed. Taking the value of money, when the £6 duty was imposed, at 100 per cent. , it is to-day 66 per cent. ; consequently £6 to-day is only equal to about £4 when the duty <was imposed. We have by increasing the duty to £9 6s. 8d. done very little more than place the sugar industry in the position, relatively, that it was in before the fall in the value of the sovereign. We have had to consider also the increase in the cost of production arising from causes other than the deflation of currency. Yesterday I addressed an argument to this House which failed to move honorable members, though, on a previous occasion, it had moved them very strongly. I refer to the argument that an increase in the parliamentary allowance was justified by the decrease in the purchasing power of money. There is not an article in common consumption or use but has appreciated in value and, of course, in price, as a result of .the depreciation of money. The Government are giving a guarantee of 3s. 8d. per bushel on the next season’s wheat, thus advancing a higher price than wheat has brought over a period of twenty years; and so we might run the gamut of all the industries. Prices. generally have advanced. Everything costs more to produce. A higher Tariff has -been imposed upon all other commodities open to foreign competition. In the case of sugar alone nothing has been done to meet the altered conditions. ,The amount of the duty is satisfactory - it is not an amount at which any one can cavil. It will enable sugar to be sold under the most adverse circumstances at 4½d. per lb. If you say that is too much to pay for a White Australia, let us “clear thering” for action, so that we may know where we stand.

I now come to another point raised by the honorable member for Balaclava. He objects to a distinction being raised between the one rate of £9 6s. 8d. upon raws and of £11 6s. 8d. upon whites and refined. The Leader of the Opposition, and other members opposite, affected to regard these proposed duties as a sop to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. The one honorable member who has defended the company has not urged that view-point as a reason why he desires that the rates of duty should not be imposed. He is concerned, apparently, with the effect of differential duties on differ-, ent classes of sugar upon the consumer. Roughly, the proportion of sugars imported before the Agreement was 75 per cent, of raws, and 25 per cent, of whites. For all practical purposes, refined sugars ave not imported, and they never have been; Java whites, however, are a definite factor in the trade. The canegrower is concerned mainly with the competition of imported raw sugar. By far the greatest quantity of imported sugar comes in as raw. Imported whites compete with our own mill whites, and also,, of course, with the sugar refined from Australian raws. In other countries a distinction is made between the two, and. a higher duty imposed on whites than on raws. The Government is resolutely determined in protecting the sugar industry; it believes that this cannot be done unless a higher duty is imposed upon whites.

Honorable members are not directing their attention, as I thought they would, to the very serious gap which exists between the duty cm cane raw sugar at £9 6s. 8d. and on beet sugar at £14 a ton. The latter imposition passes without comment. I do not understand the attitude of -honorable members. I could appreciate the fact of their holding fast to one flat rate of duty, as a protection against the importation of all kinds of sugar ; but I cannot understand what may be behind the distinction drawn between beat sugar, protected up to £14 per ton. - which rate they accept without comment - and Java whites and refined, protected to the extent of £11 6s. 8d. The latter duty they profess inability to swallow. But £14 on beet sugar meets with their hearty approval. The Government have considered the whole matter very carefully ; and those concerned in all phases of the industry have done the same. The duties proposed are the result of the views of the growers and others submitted to the Government. The sugar industry has as much right of consideration as any other. Certain persons interested in the fruit-growing industry approached my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Rodgers) and myself, and drew an obvious distinction between soft fruits, berries, and other kinds of fruits. They advocated one kind of treatment in respect of one class of fruit, and another method for the remainder. And the Government conceded their desire; We took the view that they knew their business beet. We nave advanced to the fruit-growers a very great sum of the taxpayers’ money. At this moment we are guaranteeing wheatgrowers to an extent which will certainly be not less than £20,000,000. Yet nobody raises his hand in protest or criticism. AH industries have a right to be treated fairly. Because Queensland is a. long way off, men whose idea of Australia is confined to a vista of Collins-street, with occasional jaunts to the seaside in this semi -arctic climate, affect to regard the sugar-cane area as- a foreign country. And they talk about a spoon-fed industry. More onerous labour is performed in Queensland in one day by a man who -cuts cane than is done in a week by a man working in this climate. Honorable members opposite have sought to make this resolution a party matter, and to secure capital out of it. They desire the Committee to range itself into two camps - not into opposing sides, the one being for and the other against the imposition of these rates of duty ; but into two camps, the one side favouring the duties and the other declaring for the Agreement. I shall not say now what is the policy of the Government in regard to this matter; but, whatever may be its policy, the proposal to impose these rates of duty stands on its own merits. Whether there is an agreement or not, the people of Queensland have an absolute right to the protection afford.ed by these rates of duty.

I am astounded :by the complacency with which honorable members opposite talk about the Agreement and declare themselves now to be its champions, in view of the fact- that, only the other day, they could scarcely find sufficiently scathing epithets with which to bespatter it. The honorable member foi’ Batman (Mr. Brennan) went along, with the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), to Mrs. Glencross’ meeting, and he ranked himself as one of her chief supporters; The two honorable gentlemen attended as advocates of cheap sugar. If there are any men in Australia who can be called the champions of black-grown sugar they are those two honorable members. They held forth about the high price of sugar, and they demanded cheap sugar. But when - as on the following day - they received a strong reminder that the Australian Workers Union was not dead, they said, “ We are in favour of the Agreement.” They favour what they are told to favour; but this Agreement owes nothing to them, either in its conception, its provisions, or its acceptance. The Agreement was forced down .their throats, and they had to swallow it with, an appearance of good grace, despite all the efforts they had made to defeat it. They would have opposed it at every stage; but they were confronted by an agreement which - despite what the honorable member for Yarra has said - wai signed by representatives of the Australian Workers Union. There, at the conference, where every penny of the sum of £30 6s. 8d. per ton was allocated, were the representatives of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company and of the Australian Workers Union. These ancient foemen sat side by side and signed the Agreement. They saw where every penny of the £30 fis. 8d. was being allotted. They were witnesses each to the other getting his _ sham The Australian Workers Union .agreed to every penny which it was determined the Colonial Sugar Refining Company should have; and the Colonial Sugar Refining Company agreed to every penny which it was decided that the Australian Workers Union should get. What humbug, what sickening hypocrisy it is, for honorable members opposite now to raise this bogy of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company! I draw the attention of honorable members opposite to the report of the Royal Commission on the sugar industry, which made its investigations in 1912. One of the Commissioners was the friend of honorable members opposite, namely, the Hon. Albert Hinchcliffe, M.L.C. “What did he and his fellow Commissioners state? They were against the nationalization of the industry. They said that such profits as the Colonial Sugar Refining Company made on its refining - are made under existing conditions - conditions which give to its plant a value in excess of earning capacity under the altered conditions which would be involved iu nationalization. In the general result, we cannot avoid the conclusion that the Commonwealth Treasury would be involved in a heavy financial loss, unless it were prepared to make higher demands ou the consumers than is necessary under a system of private-owned industry subject to appropriate regulation.

Further, the Commissioners stated -

The suggestion has been made that, since refiners are in a position to control prices in the sugar industry generally the Commonwealth might enter into competition with existing concerns, with * view to keeping down the price of refined sugar, while raising the price of raw sugar. We cannot recommend the adoption of this suggestion. The suggestion is probably due to an exaggeration of refining profits, The profits of the Colonial Sugar Kenning Company are largely due to items other than refining.

This company, as the honorable member for Yarra admitted, is an admirably managed business. I have run a tilt against it many a time, as I would against anybody who got in my road. But, when I find my friends, Messrs. J. W. Dunstan, W. J. Riordan, and M. Harland, for the Australian Workers Union, sitting cheek by jowl with Mr. Knox, for the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, shall I stand aside, haughty and aloof, and not be prepared to shake the preferred hand ? Not at all ! Let brotherly love continue!

What we have to decide is not the question of Agreement verms Duty, but whether the industry shall be any longer the football of party politics. Those engaged in .the industry have a right to be told where they stand. They are not going to be left in the position, at the next election, of having to vote for this party or for that, or perish. The industry ought to stand on its own bottom; and that represents the policy of the Government. We intend to give the industry these duties.

I desire to deal with one other point. These rates of duty cannot operate, as has been pointed out, until after the 30th June, 1923. ‘ Nor. can they come into effect, as a matter of fact, until long after that date, because the coming crop will have first to be consumed. One cannot say what will happen as a result of the election; but it is certain that the new Parliament will have ample time to deal with the situation. I say to those who are concerned about other industries, such as the fruit, and jam, and preserving industries, that the Government are as much concerned - and have shown their concern in very substantial ways - as are the people actually engaged therein. The fruitgrowers have never come to the Government for aid and gone away emptyhanded. They are, at this moment, dependent upon the Government so completely that if we were to withdraw our support, their industry would be thrown into a condition of chaos. But we are not likely to go back on it. And, although the sugar duties will not come into material effect until several months after the end of next June, I say that the jam-making and various preserving industries may rely on receiving the same kind of treatment as they got under the old system, before the days of Government control and ever since. Let me put the position plainly: where there is a shortage of Australian sugar, and there are importations from abroad, they will get their supplies, naturally, at the world’s price - less the duty, which will be returned as a rebate. Where there is a sufficiency of Australian sugar, so making importations unnecessary, the Consolidated Revenue must make up to the jam manufacturers any handicap which may be imposed upon them by these duties. That applies to all goods with sugar contents that are manufactured for export. Manufacturers of such goods will be in no worse position than they are under the present arrangement. They will bo in exactly the same position with regard to imported sugar that they occupied before the Government control.

I propose now to refer briefly to some statements made this morning by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin). Posing, in one of his lightning transformations, aa one of its friends, the honorable member spoke of the virtues of theSugar Agreement as opposed to the duties that we now invite the Committee to im- pose. Neither the honorable member nor his friends are entitled to any credit in this matter. For the first time in its history, there is peace, tranquility, and prosperity in the Australian sugar industry. That is due entirely to the Agreement, in the malting of which honorable members opposite had no hand. In spirit they were opposed to it. If they did not smite it hip and thigh, it was not because they would not, but that they dare not. So far as they dared oppose the Agreement, they did. They have hit it under the fifth rib at every convenient opportunity. They have lurked in dark corners to strike it a mortal blow, yet they now claim credit for the Agreement. Absolutely no credit is due to them. They say that under a Labour Government in 1915 the Colonial Sugar Refining Company for the first time received a rude rebuff. If it did, I was the man who administered the rebuff. No credit is due to my honorable friends opposite for the Agreement then made. They knew nothing about it. They did not conduct the negotiations, nor did they determinethe terms that should be fixed. They had nothing whatever to do with the matter. I simply told them what was to be done, and they said “ Yes.” They know perfectly well that that is so. Honorable members opposite’ have talked also about the amendments of the Constitution which were proposed by the Labour party. They were not responsible for even a comma in the proposed amendments.I framed them ; I wrote the arguments in support of them. What did they know about the matter? Nothing.

Let us look for a moment at the Agreement made in 1915, which, according to honorable members opposite, contains so many excellent provisions, and by means of which, they say, a rude rebuff was administered to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. My answer to that statement is that the conditions imposed by the . 1915 Agreement are imposed also in the Agreement made in 1920. Under the Agreement of 1920, organized Labour for the first time had a hand in determining the conditions of the industry. The canegrower, the millers, the representatives of the Commonwealth and Queensland State Governments, approved the Agreement which we had made beforehand with the Australian Workers Union. I am not sure whether it was Mr. Theodore or Mr.

Gillies who joined with me in making the arrangement; but the position of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company under the 1920 Agreement is. the same as it was under the Agreement of 1915. It is true that under the 1920 Agreement the Colonial Sugar Refining Company charged more, but it charged only the actual cost of coal and labour. As the price of coal and other things fall, its charges fall. Under the Agreement of 1920 it was paid the same fixed amount for refining as under the Agreement of 1915, which provided that -

When the sugar referred to in clauses 3 and 4 has been refined and sold, the company shall account to the Government for the money received for the sugar and syrup produced therefrom after charging the cost of the raw sugar at cost and the expenses for bags, freight, &c, at not exceeding 26s. per ton of raw sugar, the cost of refining 30s. per ton, and the expenses of sale 7s. per ton - in all not exceeding £3 3s. per ton, together with a charge of 20s. per ton of raw sugar as representing depreciation and interest on plant and stocks and the payment for the services of the company in connexion with the refining of the sugar. [ Extension of time granted.]

That condition is repeated in the subsequent Agreements. In 1921 the company received 22s. 6d., instead of 20s., per ton on all raw sugar on account of interest on plant, &c, but that has since been reduced to 20s. per ton, so that the company is getting under the 1920 Agreement exactly what it received under the 1915 Agreement.

It is said that under the Agreement made in 1915 the Government controlled the sugar business, but that under the present Agreement the Colonial Sugar Refining Company controls it. There is not a word of truth in that statement. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company, under the Agreement made with the Labour Administration in 1915 controlled the sugar business, just as it does at the present time. I was the Minister in charge of the sugar control, and I did exactly the same in each case. I know too much to pretend to know more than I do. In connexion with all three Agreements I simply took Mr. Knox’s advice with respect to sugar. If we made a profit of £415.000 under the 1915 Agreement, it was due to the fact that we had not at that time to deal with abnormal market conditions. We have done exceedingly well right through the currency of’ these

Agreements, and the fact that we made a loss which had to be made up by paying a higher price for sugar has nothing to do with the sugar control. That loss was due to chaotic conditions in the world’s markets, which no one could foretell. It had , nothing to do with the Agreement. If an agreement had not been entered into, the same position would have arisen.

I shall not detain the Committee longer. We are asking the Committee to agree to the imposition of this duty in order to give an assurance to the industry. Those engaged in it want to know at once that they will be protected, no matter what may be the constitution of the new Parliament. They want to be ne man’s slave; they desire to have a perfectly free hand in the coming election, and not to be a mere football of the political arena.

Mr CHARLTON:
Hunter

– I should not have risen but for the speech just delivered by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). Those who heard it will not wonder that the newspapers and the public generally declare that Australia is governed by one man. The right honorable gentleman, if he succeeded in proving anything at all, said sufficient to convince the general public that, with him, it is a case of “Alone I did it.” He says, The Labour party had nothing to do with the Sugar Agreement. I arranged it in 1915, when I was a member of a Labour Administration, and the members of the party had meekly to follow.” No one knows better than does the Prime Minister himself that all such matters had to be submitted to a meeting of the party, and had to be decided by a majority of the party. Evidently the right honorable gentleman has overlooked that fact. His new-found friends probably obey his every behest; whatever he submits to the House has to be accepted by them without challenge. That, however, was not the position when he was a member qf the Labour party.

Mr Hughes:

– The Agreement went before the meeting of the party, it is true, and the party- said “Yes.”

Mr CHARLTON:

– Of course it said “ Yes,” because it embodied a part of the policy of the great Labour movement. Are we not asking to-day for a renewal of the Agreement on fair terms to the producer, the worker in the industry, and the consumer, because we believe in Government control as opposed to a monopoly like that of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company? I well remember the time when the Prime Minister used to freely denounce monopolies. He used to tell us, a few years ago, that all monopolies should be under State control, and he has just taken to himself credit’ for having brought the sugar monopoly under control. Why, then, this change of attitude on his part? Why does he desire now to do away with the control of the industry ? Why is he not prepared to stand behind the Agreement? The Labour party is ready to assist the Government to make an agreement on terms satisfactory to all parties concerned. That being so, I fail to understand why the Prime Minister is not prepared to. act. Is it because sitting behind him are the representatives of. vested interests who say that there shall be no further State control of the sugar or any other industry ? If the right honorable gentleman followed his own desires in this matter, I venture- to say he would still adhere to control by the Commonwealth. It is quite true, as he has said, that the Agreement has enabled employment to be found for white labour in the sugar industry in Queensland. That is one of the objects we had in view in making the original Agreement of 1915. The imposition of these duties, however, will not guarantee to the producers of cane sugar that they will be protected as they are under the existing Agreement. I have a quotation of £19 3s. per ton for Java sugar, so that even with a duty of £11 per ton that sugar could be brought here for £30 3s. per ton. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company, if it so desires, will be able, despite these increased duties, to import sugar at a cost of £5 or £6 per ton less than the growers are getting for their sugar under the existing Agreement. I invite the representatives of Queensland to consider for a moment the position in which they are proposing to place the sugar-cane growers of that State. The Prime Minister has said that our demand for the State control of the industry is due merely to a desire to catch votes. As a matter of fact, our object is to protect the people engaged’ in this industry in the tropical parts of Queensland. ‘

Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917

– The honorable member said that Java sugar, quoted at £19 3s. per ton, could be landed here, after payment of this duty of £11 per ton, for £5 per ton less than that received by the growers. How does he arrive at the calculation? The price paid under the agreement is £30 6s. 8d. per ton.

Mr CHARLTON:

– That is for raw sugar.

Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917

– There is no refined sugar in Java.

Mr CHARLTON:

– The duty of £11 per ton is on raw sugar ?

Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917

– No.

Mr CHARLTON:

– We have been led into all this difficulty because the Government could supply Parliament with no information as to why sugar should cost the consumers 6d. per lb. Two years ago, when my predecessor, the late Honorable Frank Tudor, Leader of the Labour party, submitted a motion in this House, the Prime Minister gave him to understand that theprice of sugar could be reduced within six months, but subsequently the Government had to import heavily, and the consumers were still obliged to pay a high price for this commodity. During thepresent session, when the matter was ventilated in this Chamber, we still could get no information - we were simply told that the price of sugar would be 5d. per lb. in November - and, being dissatisfied, we directed the Public Accounts Committee to inquire into the question. Yet, without waiting for that Committee’s report, and when this Parliament is at the point of death, the Government have come down with a proposal to place higher duties on sugar, the effect of which, in the absence of an Agreement, will be toplace the growers absolutely in the hands of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. The duties will afford no protection to the man who grows the cane. In the absence of an Agreement, he will be obliged to take whatever price the Colonial Sugar Refining Company choose to give him for his product.What will become of the fine ideals to which the Prime Minister has just given utterance in talking about the necessity for protecting the sugar industry? That fine class of people he said he found when travelling through the sugar districts will be thrown to the wall. The growers will have no guarantee that they can plant their next year’s crop with success. Instead of imposing these increased duties, we should be seeking to renew the Sugar Agreement, which alone will give to the planters a guarantee that success will follow the planting of their crop. The Government’s proposal leads us nowhere; it is, simply a sop put forward for the purpose of getting votes at the coming election. Communications have come to hand from Queensland planters pointing out that an Agreement alone will serve the best interests of their industry, and that the imposition of increased duties will not do so. Why should we impose duties which will prove unsatisfactory to every one but the Colonial Sugar Refining Company? At any rate why should we not await the report of the Public Accounts Committee so that we may not be voting in the dark? Honorable members would be in a better position to decide the matter if they had that report before them.

Mr Corser:

– But the growers would not be in a better position.

Mr CHARLTON:

– Many growers differ from the honorable member. They would rather have a renewal of the Agreement.

Mr Corser:

– And so would I if we could get it.

Mr CHARLTON:

– The honorable member is now supporting whatI am saying. As a matter of fact, every one knows that a renewal of the Agreement is essential, and that is why we are fighting for it. The proposal which the Government have put forward is not supported except by those who are closely in touch with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. We declare our opposition to the Government’s proposal, not because we do not want to afford protection to the sugar industry, but because we believe that the only way to save Australia, and keep it white, is by having an Agreement in regard to sugar, and because we know that outside influences which favour the decontrol of industries are compelling the Government to take up their present attitude.

Mr Corser:

– It will be better for the sugar-cane growers to have these duties than to have nothing.

Mr CHARLTON:

– ‘The honorable member’s statement is tantamount to an admission that there is not a majority of honorable members on his side of the House to support him in securing a renewal of the present Agreement, and that the majority opposite favour de-control.

There is no escape from the facts. The only reason for the proposed increased duties is the fact that the Government may be in a position to tell the people of Queensland at the forthcoming election that they have endeavoured to do something even in the dying hours of Parliament to protect the sugar industry.

Mr Corser:

– Something must be done.

Mr CHARLTON:

– The honorable member is prepared to vote for these duties, although he admits that the Government have not adopted the right course, or, at any rate, that their proposals do not go far enough, and that there are lurking in them many dangers to the people he represents, inasmuch as the Colonial Sugar Refining Company will be able to make larger profits at the expense of both the people who’ grow cane and the people who consume sugar. All the Prime Minister’s rhetoric to which we have listened, and all his talk about what happened in the Labour party count for nothing. It is our duty to study what has led up to the present position of the sugar industry, and see what is best to be done to preserve it.. Everyone interested in Queensland affairs recognises that there must be an Agreement in force to enable the man who grows the cane to know how much per’ ton he will get for it, and to let the workers know what wages they will receive. The imposition of increased duties will benefit no one but a ‘big “octopus.” Unfortunately, my amendment, which would have committed this Parliament to a renewal of the present Sugar Agreement, has been ruled out of order; but we shall watch the result of the voting upon the Government’s proposals, because it is very evident that a majority of honorable members do not regard the imposition of increased duties as a satisfactory way of dealing with the question, and yet are not prepared to vote against them, because they want to be able to say to the people of Queensland, “We did something to save the industry for Australia by imposing increased duties.” .

Mr Corser:

– We cannot have any Agreement until we first get the Queensland Government to exercise control.

Mr CHARLTON:

– I am not concerned as to what any State Government does. My sole concern is as to what is done in this Parliament. The responsibility is cast on every honorable member in this Chamber to do all he can in the interests of his country. . As the Minister for Defence has questioned my figures, let me point out that the price of Australian refined sugar is. £37 16s. 8d. per ton, made up as follows: - At the mill, £30 6s. 8d. ; freight, &c, £3 3s. ; refining charges, £4 7s. On the other hand, Java sugar can be landed here and refined at a cost of £32 8s. 8d., made up as follows : - Price in Java, £17 10s. ; freight, £1 5s.; duty, £9 6s. 8d. ; refining charges, £4 7s. Therefore, I was absolutely correct when I said that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company could land sugar from Java and sell it at a lower price than that at which Australian sugar could be placed upon the market.

Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917

– The honorable member’s figures are not correct. It does not cost anything like £3 3s. per ton to bring sugar down from Queensland.

Mr CHARLTON:

– Whether my figures are correct or not, it is not a question of Customs duties. There ought to be an Agreement, so that the people who are growing the sugar-cane and those who are employed in the industry may have their interests safeguarded, and so that the consumers may get sugar as cheaply as possible. The increased duties will not help to do this. They will simply leave all concerned in the hands of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. I remember the circumstances under which the first Agreement was made. What the Prime Minister was saying this afternoon in reference to this matter does not go down with those men who knew all about the position at the time. The Agreement was drawn up in order to fix the price to be paid to the sugar-cane growers who were not getting sufficient from the Colonial Sugar Refining Company to enable them to pay a living wage to the workers employed in the fields. The company was Weeding the cane-growers white, although the consumers of Australia were paying more than a fair price for the sugar, at the time. This will be the position of affairs again if there is no Agreement. If the cane-growers have no fixed price for their cane, and they find themselves entirely in thehands of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, will there be any desire on their part to grow cane? We are so earnest in endeavouring to get the Sugar Agreement renewed in a modified form because we believe it will do justice to all concerned, and because we are aware of the cry which has been raised by the people who support the party opposite that there shall be no Government control of any industry. If the Government were assured of a majority in favour of control of industries, these duties would not have been submitted today. It is because the Government realize that they cannot get sufficient support for a continuance of the policy of control that they come down with proposals which axe only a subterfuge, lead nowhere, and afford no protection to the sugar-cane growers.

Mr MCWILLIAMS:
Franklin

– With other honorable members I enter a most emphatic protest against the way in which we have been called upon to deal with this matter. The whole world over the position of sugar has occupied’ the minds of leading statesmen. On another occasion I gave a list of International Conferences which had been held to deal with the subject, the last of which was presided over by Mr. Chamberlain. I have not been able to study the report of the Tariff Board closely, but from my observations of it I find that the Board has given the question very close and minute attention. I have previously complimented the Minister for Trade and Customs on possessing in the Tariff Board the ablest body of men to be found on any Board in the Commonwealth. They must have studied this question for weeks and weeks, but the Minister only distributed their report on sugar when he was submitting his proposals yesterday, and those who are keenly interested in the question were asked to come to an immediate decision. I cannot compliment the Prime Minister- (Mr. Hughes) on the speech he has just delivered. It turned the - whole subject into a burlesque. He asked whether the man in Queensland who is growing sugar should not know where he stood ; but I defy such a man to gather from the remarks of the Prime Minister any certainty as to his position; or to learn where the Government stand in this matter. Are the duties to be a substitute for the Agreement? It is an insult to the House for the Government, on the eve of an election, to say, “ We will not tell you our policy. We will wait until after the election.” There are men behind the Prime Minister who were not made at all happy by hearing his speech. During his campaign for votes in Queensland the right honorable gentleman described me as the arch enemy of the sugar-grower, a statement for which there is only one word in the British language, and that is a word of three letters. The enemy to whom I have been opposed all through, and the curse of the sugar-growing industry, as the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) once ably described it in this House, is the Colonial Sugar Refining Company.

Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917

– The honorable member does not know what he is talking about.

Mr MCWILLIAMS:

– I refer the Minister to his Leader’s speeches condemning the Colonial Sugar Refining Company as the’ enemy of the industry. If there is any misconception about that company, those at the head of it are to Maine, because whenever a Royal Commission or a Committee has ‘- inquired into its profits and their source, the company’s officials have absolutely refused to disclose any in formation. I believe in the principle of a. White Australia. No one who has read the history of racial complexities and knows what i has happened in the United States of America as a consequence of the introduction of coloured labour there, would bequeath such an inheritance of difficulty and danger «to his descendants in Australia. It is because I am a believer in a White Australia^ and because I think that the sugar-cane industry is the chief means of keeping population in northern Queensland, that I support it, or, rather, that is one of my reasons for supporting it. I think, too, that the Australian nation, believing in a White Australia, should be prepared to pay to keep the country white. I accept the recommendation of the Tariff Board of a duty of £9 6s. 8d. per ton on sugar ; but I wish to point out how the fruit-growing industry can be saved without doing injury to the sugar-cane grower. For the ten years ending with 1920 the average production of sugar in Australia fell short of the demand by over 60,000 tons per annum. If the fruitgrowing industry is to be saved, the policy adopted towards it during the past three or four years must be altered. The balance-sheets of three of the largest preserving companies in Australia published this year show a very bad state of affairs. A Sydney company has been compelled to write down its capital by one-half, the Victorian Producers Union shows a very heavy loss, and another company is in process of liquidation. I believe that when the balance-sheets of all our preserving companies have been published, it will be seen that their loss has been nearer £2,000,000 than £1,000,000. Because of the high price of sugar, the companies have been compelled to send to Great Britain large quantities of pulp which would otherwise have been converted into jam or preserved.

Mr Bamford:

– The preserving companies give small prices for fruit.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– That is not so. Under an agreement with the Government, the maximum price paid has been 3d.; and 5d. or 6d. was paid last year for berry fruit from one end of Australia to another. Had not the Go- , vernment assisted the industry with a guarantee of £20,000, to enable pulping operations to be undertaken, threefourths of the berry fruit of Tasmania, during the last two years, would have rotted on the ground.

Mr Hector Lamond:

– What is the proportion of berry fruit to other fruit in Tasmania?

Mr McWILLIAMS:
FRANKLIN, TASMANIA · REV TAR; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; CP from 1920; IND from 1928

– Berry fruit and apricots make up almost the whole of the preserving and canning” fruit. I do not think that any Queensland representative desires to embarrass the fruitgrowing and preserving industries, nor do I think that any fruit-grower wishes to injure the cane-growing industry. I represent by far the greatest fruitgrowing district in Australia., and on its behalf I am. prepared to vote for a duty of 1d. per lb. on sugar, provided that the Government will make an arrangement which, while benefiting the fruit-growers, will not injure the cane-growers, though it will reduce the revenue from the sugar duty. In respect of the numbers affected, the fruit industry is enormously bigger than the sugar industry. Between 1910 and 1920, the acreage of orchards increased from 178,798 acres to 271,894 acres, and the value of their production from £2,441,795 to £5,809,045. During the same period the area under vines increased from 58,151 acres to 73,326 acres, and the value of their production from about £1,000,000 to just over £3,000,000. The combined area of orchards and vines increased from 236,949 acres to 345,220 acres, and the value of the production from £3,496,187 to £8,870,262. The production of jams and conserves last year was barely one-fifth of that of previous years. Unless something is done for the fruit-grower his industry will be ruined. There are 152 preserving factories in Australia, employing 6,974 hands, to whom were paid wages amounting to £371,473. The value of the raw materials worked up is £3,757,611, and the value of the output £5,487,960, the value added in processing being about £1,750,000. The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Laird Smith) knows that in these factories a large number of persons have satisfactory and profitable employment. If this industry is thrown out of gear, not only will the man on the land be crippled, but in the States where the manufacturing factories are operating, thousands of people will be thrown out of employment. I am certain the Committee does not realize the serious position of the fruit-growing and preserving industries to-day. While the Colonial Sugar Refining Company has nearly doubled its profits in recent years, the balance-sheets of manufacturers of jams and preserves show enormous losses.

Mr Corser:

– Does that remark apply to Henry Jones and Company?

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– His losses this year will be very great. I say deliberately that the people of Tasmania wish to help the cane-growers. I wish to see the sugar-growing industry maintained, and I am prepared to assist it, but the Australian people as a whole should pay for a national policy with which we all agree; it should not be made a tax upon one class of the community. I shall move an amendment to that effect at a later stage. I accept the recommendation of the Tariff Board, one of the ablest bodies of men I have met in any part of Australia, and whose report shows evidence of considerable research. But I plead with the Committee that, while assisting the sugar industry, we should not crucify the fruit-grower, whose importance in Tasmania is equal to that of his brother working in the cane-fields of the north. The Minister for Trade and

Customs (Mr.Rodgers) said that the proposed duty was not for the purpose of raising revenue, and that it was intended only to protect the cane-grower. To that policy I give my whole-hearted support, but make the duty a burden upon the whole nation. A duty of1d. per lb. is equivalent to a bonus of about £275,000 per annum. The people of Australia are prepared to pay that amount for the maintenance of a White Australia policy. The people whom I represent in the south of Tasmania are ready to contribute their share of the cost of a White Australia, but they and their industry should not be sacrificed. Both the Minister for Trade and Customs and the Prime Minister have said a good deal about the rebate in respect of sugar used in exported commodities, but. that rebate is not of very great importance, because 80 per cent. of our manufactured goods are consumed in Australia, and to them the rebate does not apply. I wish to help the canegrower and the other interests in the sugar industry, because Tasmania regards Queensland as one of its best customers. Only recently a direct shipping service from the island to Queensland was established.

Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917

– That was because this Parliament imposed an embargo on carbide.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– The establishment of the shipping service had nothing to do with the embargo on carbide.

Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917

-Without it that line of ships could not have been established.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– I assure the Minister that that statement is not correct; the line was brought into existence by those interested in the fruit-growing industry. We welcome this direct service. There are some products of Queensland which the Tasmanian people want, and they produce other articles for which there is a market in Queensland. I am sure that the Queensland members welcome the establishment of a direct line of steamers between the most southerly and the most northerly States. The export of apples has not helped the Tasmanian fruit-growers much this year. Some men will get a small return for their year’s labour, and some of them none at all. An expert has told me that he does not think that the profits upon apples exported to England this year will average more than about 2s. a case; others estimate that the return will be much lower. I ask honorable members to consider carefully the serious position of the small-fruits industry in Tasmania and “Victoria, and I say in all sincerity that the fruit-growers are prepared to assist the cane-growers to get a duty of £9 6s. 8d. per ton; but they ask that their industry be not crushed out of existence.During the last ten years the average importation of sugar has shown a deficiency of over 60,000 tons; of that amount the fruit preserving industry would not consume more than two-thirds. Let the manufacturers have their sugar duty free, and thus, while putting one industry on a sound basis, help to build up another. If the Government impose a duty of1d. per lb. on sugar it will mean a tax of over £11 per acre per annum on the currantgrower, over £12 per acre per annum on the raspberry-grower, and nearly £40 per annum per acre on the apricot-grower. I am sure that that is an injustice which this Committee will not tolerate. These facts need only be pointed out for the Committee to see the justiceof the claim I am making. If the White Australia policy is to be maintained, let the whole of the Australian people pay the cost. The fruit-growing industry in Tasmania and those other industries associated with it are of even greater importance to that State than is the cane-growing industry to Queensland. In helping one industry, do not crucify another.

Mr HIGGS:
Capricornia

.- As a Queenslander and one of a deputation of Nationalist members who waited upon the Prime Minister on several occasions to urge the imposition of a duty of £14 per ton, and the extension of the Commonwealth Agreement for a period of five years. I consider it my duty to say a few words. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) has spoken in favour of the continuation of the present Sugar Agreement. Why are we not able to secure that? Because the honorable member sent two members of the Labour party to a public meeting, of protest in. the Assembly Hall, Melbourne, to inflame the public mind against the renewal of the Agreement.

Mr Charlton:

– That is absolutely untrue.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– Deliberately untrue !

Mr HIGGS:

– I refer honorable members to the report that was published in the Melbourne Age. The Leader of the Opposition cannot deny that he sent to Mrs. Glencross a letter stating that the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) and the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) would represent the Labour party at the public meeting.

Mr Charlton:

– But they did not go there for the purpose of saying that there should be no Agreement.

Mr HIGGS:

– The honorable member for Yarra “ let the cat out of the bag” to-day; his colleague, the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) likes to keep in the background the fact that the Labour party aims at the socialization of industry. He wishes to persuade the farmers of Hume that the party with which he is associated is still the old Labour party, whereas, in fact, it is a new Labour party that is bent upon socializing the farming industry. The Leader of the Opposition sent two delegates from the Labour party to the meeting of protest. Why?

Mr Charlton:

– To see that whilst the producers and workers got a fair deal the public were not fleeced under any new agreement. They went, to the meeting to deal with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company.

Mr HIGGS:

– The motion proposed at that meeting by the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) was -

That this meeting of citizens protests against the continued high price of sugar, and declares its uncompromising opposition to the renewal of any agreement necessitating Government control-

The honorable member for Batman and the honorable member for Yarra spoke to that motion.

Mr Francis:

– Were not two motions moved at that meeting?

Mr HIGGS:

– I will complete the motion I had commenced to read - and supports the Housewives Association in the campaign initiated by them in reference thereto. It further records its opinion that Government politcal control of trade and industry is pernicious and detrimental to producers, manufacturers, and consumers alike.

There is no doubt about the meaning of that motion, and two members representing the Labour party spoke to it. They were either deceiving themselves or they were deceiving the Melbourne Trades Union Congress of June, 1920. The meeting at which they spoke was a meeting of protest, called in order to influence members of the Federal Parliament against the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, as I am sure the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) will admit. That charming lady, Mrs. Glencross, sent the following letter to the Prime Minister (Mr.- Hughes) : -

At a largely attended meeting of citizens held in the Assembly Hall. Collins-street, and organized by our association, the following resolution was passed with great enthusiasm with only three dissentients - two of whom were Mr. Higgs, M.H.R., of Queensland, and Mr. Walker, of that State, and one other stranger who was interrupting all the evening.

Then Mrs. Glencross sets out the resolution to which I have referred. We were referred to by Mrs. Glencross as “ strangers,” although we Queenslanders are expected to help Victorians iu ob-taining protection for their boots, hats, jams, and so forth. When we put in an appearance at that meeting, in order to represent the Queensland view, we were, as I say, described as “ strangers,” and I, who insisted on saying a word on behalf of our northern State, was forcibly ejected by the police. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) told us to-day that we ought to discuss the question of sugar in “ peace, fu! calm.” I may inform that honorable member that the Victorians who are against the Sugar Agreement do not discuss the question in “ peaceful calm,” and any one who ventures to speak on behalf of the Agreement is forcibly removed from their gatherings.

Mr Maxwell:

– Would it not be as well to come to the proposal before the Chair?

Mr HIGGS:

-The honorable member who interjects will forgive me if I insist on pointing out the inconsistency - indeed, the hypocrisy - of the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) and others who profess to be in favour of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. Neither of the . two delegates from the Labour party at that meeting voted against the motion proposed. There are people who say that the old Labour party was very different from the new Labour party; and that is a fact. Is there any member of the old Labour party who would have gone to such a meeting of protest, and sat on the same platform with those opposed to the continuation of the Sugar Agreement? The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) admits that he went to that meeting with a view to socializing the sugar industry, and to taking away from the growers the profit they make by their harvests.

Mr Scullin:

– That is not correct.

Mr HIGGS:

– It is correct. I have here the Labour party’s platform, one plank of which is the socialization of industries, production, distribution and exchange, and another the establishment of an elective economic council by all nationalized industries. The honorable member for Yarra was present at that All- Australia Conference, representing all the trade unions in Australia, held at Melbourne from the 20th to the 25th June, 1921. I think there were 150 delegates or thereabouts from all parts of Australia, and of these the honorable member for Yarra was one.

Mr Makin:

– Where was that Conference held ?

Mr HIGGS:

– At the Melbourne Trades Hall. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) is very innocent, and would have made an excellent member of the old Labour party. He is quite out of sympathy with the ideals of the Extremist party iu its advocacy of “ direct action,” “ go slow,” and so forth. I am sure the honorable member has no sympathy whatever with the “ Tammany “ methods. I find that Mr. E. J. Holloway, the president of the Trades Hall Council, said in his address that if they were going to make the next decade of the transition period from capitalism to socialism a success, .it was necessary that all sections should come together. The Conference to which I refer was held with a view to bringing together all the revolutionaries and cranks who were attacking the old Labour party. The honorable member for Yarra, in speaking on that occasion of the socialization of industries, said that the industries, “ when socialized, would establish an elective, supreme, economic council.” That council, said the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), is the body- which is to take the place of Parliament, and I am explaining the position in this regard because the honorable member for

Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) has denied a statement to that effect.

I propose now to say a few words to Victorians as represented here by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell). The Queensland (representatives in both the Senate and this Chamber have met the Victorian manufacturers liberally on every occasion, and have given the highest protective duties desired. The honorable member for Fawkner will pardon me when I say that it is , the agitation in Victoria that prevents those interested in Queensland from getting the Sugar Agreement. If the honorable member were allowed to pay attention to our representations we might be able to obtain the justice we ask, but those concerned in the agitation follow him around his electorate in their endeavours to prevent this great Queensland industry being treated in the way that Queensland has always been willing to treat Victorian industries.

Mr Pratten:

– Is it not rather that some of us do net believe in the socialization of industries ?

Mr HIGGS:

– That may be; and possibly members are opposed to the socialization of industries because of the long list of socialistic failures in Queensland and elsewhere in the world. I appeal to Victorians on behalf of the cane-growers of Queensland, who are so uncertain of the future.

Mr Makin:

– Do the growers desire the Agreement ?

Mr HIGGS:

– Yes, but for fear we may not get an extension of the Agreement we are asking .for an import duty. Victorians ought to look beyond the borders of their own State, and be prepared to grant this northern industry a duty of £11 6s. 8d. The honorable member for Balaclava favours a duty of Id., or £9 6s. 8d., but I notice that he does not refer to the duty at £14 per ton given to the beet-sugar industry. The cultivation of sugar-beet in Victoria has been going on for twenty years or more, but the honorable member does not propose to reduce the duty to £9 6s. 8d. Am, I to assume that he does not care to take such a step in the case of a Victorian industry ? I remind honorable members that if Queensland had stood out of the Federal compact at the beginning, ‘thea:e would, probably, have been no Commonwealth for years.

Queensland, however, joined, and the result was that her manufacturing industries suffered severely. The jam-makers of Brisbane were practically wiped out, and the boot and shoe industry seriously interfered with by Victorian competition.

Mr Pratten:

– And so with the biscuit manufacturing industry.

Mr HIGGS:

– That is so, but we have made a little progress since. I can only say that as soon as Parliament goes into recess we representatives of Queensland will appeal to the general public for a continuance of the Agreement. That is not because the Agreement has a socialistic character, for, indeed, it has not, as even the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) would admit. The Federal Government employees under the Agreement consisted of Colonel Oldershaw and a few clerks.

Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917

– I do not think there were even a few clerks, but only a typiste.

Mr HIGGS:

– And the production and distribution of the sugar is carried on by the workers, cane-growers, millers, refiners, and by the wholesalers and the retailers in their separate spheres. - The arrangement has nothing in it of the colour of Socialism, or of the socialization of industry, which the honorable member for Yarra is so anxious to impose. Honorable members opposite are quite willing to impose £28 per ton upon jam, and in respect of various fruits, for example, prunes, between £40 and £45 per ton.

The question has been asked, why does the Government bring forward this matter now? The reason is that the following Queensland Nationalist members of Parliament have had several interviews with the Prime Minister and members of the Government in regard to the extension of the agreement, and the necessity for taking immediate action to afford the Queensland sugar industry the same measure of protection that has been given to other Australian primary industries: -

Senator T. W. Crawford

Senator H. S. Poll

Senator the Hon. T. W. Givens.,

Senator Sir Thomas Glasgow

Senator Matthew Reid

The Hon. F. W. Bamford, member for Herbert.

  1. G. Bayley, Esq., member for Oxley.

Colonel D. C. Cameron, member for Brisbane. L

  1. B. C. Corser, Esq.. member for Wide Bay.

The Hon. W. G. Higgs, member for Capricornia.

  1. H. Mackay, Esq., member for Lilley.

The Prime Minister agreed to take action, and I am very glad that he has now done so. He did not think he could get the House to agree to £14 per ton, and proposes £11 6s. 8d. His action has been quite in accord with the friendly attitude he has adopted towards the sugar industry since the inception of Federation.

Mr HIGGS:

– The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser.), who knows the new district which has now been added to my division of Capricornia, will agree with me that the cane-growers would be very sorry if this session were to end either without the Agreement being extended for five years, or - in its absence - the imposition of higher rates of Customs duty. The Federal Labour party, which is opposing the duty, does not keep itself acquainted with what is going on in Queensland. Those honorable members opposite who spoke in opposition to the Sugar Agreement at the public meeting in this city, do not seem to be aware that the Leader of their party in Queensland, the Premier, Mr. Theodore, has telegraphed to Senator Crawford as follows: -

Failing the continuance of the Sugar Agreement the sugar industry will be faced with a serious situation if the Federal Parliament rises without taking action to increase the sugar duty.

Mr Makin:

– Why does not the honorable member try as hard to secure the renewal of the Agreement as he is trying to secure the imposition of these duties?

Mr HIGGS:

– At the risk of my liberty and life I endeavoured to persuade Victorians in favour of the’ Agreement. I am still urging the extension of the Agreement for five years; but I trust that honorable members will at least agree to the imposition of the rate of duty amounting to £11 6s. 8d. per ton, especially in view of the fact that Queensland members have always voted for the highest possible duties by way of protection to Victorian primary and secondary industries.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– In judging thehonorable mem- ber for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs), one should really be, at the same time, merciful; for he has cut a very sorry figure today. He has grossly misrepresented the whole position. The honorable member has been forced into taking up an entirely different attitude from that which he occupied until only a few weeks ago. By his speech to-day he has exposed himself to the severest criticism on account of his change of front, when one would have expected him, rather, to take cover. Throughout the greater part of his speech the honorable member avoided dealing with the real, facts of the case. He pursued those tactics, because he knew that his position was so untenable that it could not be defended. He referred to the two members of this party who attended the meeting under the auspices of the Housewives Association. He said that the honorable members for Batman (Mr. Brennan) and Yarra (Mr. Scullin) went there for the purpose of opposing the Agreement. He knows that that is not correct

Mr Higgs:

– Then, why were they there?

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– The honorable member may be .pardoned for not knowing, because - owing to his bad conduct - he remained at the meeting for so short a time that he was unable to hear their speeches. However, the remarks of the two Labour members were reported in the press, and the honorable member for Capricornia must know that they spoke in support of the Agreement. The honorable member for Yarra - being the spokesman for this party - put the position in our behalf just exactly as he has done to-day. At Mrs. Glen cross’ meeting, the honorable member for Capricornia was in agreement with the honorable member for Yarra. To-day, however, he finds that he must obey the dictation of his new masters, and he has gone back upon his former attitude. One wonders that he was not too much ashamed to open his mouth in this House, and it is only natural that he should have endeavoured to avoid the real subject. He has said, in effect, that because he cannot get the substance he must accept the shadow. He prefers the substance, namely, the Agreement; but he can only secure the shadow, which is the imposition of these duties. He condemned the honorable members for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) and Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) because of the stand which they took at the meeting ; yet, at this moment, he sits cheek by jowl with them behind the Government, in support of the resolution. The honorable member stands, today, shoulder to shoulder with the lady who had him thrown out of that meeting. His position is an extraordinary one. The wonder is that he does not hide his head for shame. He is now the mouthpiece of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. His present Leader, the Prime Minister, said, this afternoon, “ I am endeavouring to put this industry in the very same position as it was in before the first Agreement.” I emphasize those words; there is an ocean of meaning behind them. I need go no further than to quote earlier words of the Prime Minister himself in demonstrating the position of the sugar industry when it was in the hands of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company before the first Agreement. Tt was that company which was responsible for the deplorable condition of the industry. I hold in my hand a statement of the case for the Constitution referenda as produced by the then spokesman for the Labour party, the present Prime Minister. Of course, the Prime Minister “has been saying, “ Alone I did it !” He has said that we, on this side, had nothing to do with the preparation of the referenda arguments - “I did it; they simply looked on.” As a matter of fact, when the Prime Minister was with the Labour party he did nothing that the Labour party had not dictated and did not stand for. And, when he- did things which the party did not approve of, it sent him about his business. To-day, he is at the head of a party in which he is truly an autocrat. (When he holds up his little finger, it is welcomed with gusts of laughter. To-day, he rules according to his own sweet will.

In his case for the referendum proposal dealing with trusts and monopolies, the right honorable gentleman first dealt with what a monopoly was, and, having tried to define it, he gave a list’ of those concerns which, he said, came under the head of monopolies in Australia. It will be illuminating first to read what he considered the effect of a monopoly to be. He said -

We all know that the cost of living has increased so that it is with the utmost difficulty that the bulk of the community are able, even with the greatest economy, to make both ends meet.

The right honorable gentleman then proceeded to point out that such a state of affairs was due to the activities of certain monopolies, among which he said the Colonial Sugar Refining Company was one of the worst. This is what he had to say of the sugar industry when it was in the hands of that company, prior to’ the making of the first Agreement -

We know, for example, there is a sugar monopoly; that this controls the sale and manufacture of sugar from one end of Australia to the other; that it fixes the price the cane-grower gets for his cane, the price the Austraiian public pays for its sugar. And not only this, but as sugar is one of the main ingredients of jam, and the main ingredient in confectionery and lollies, it follows that this monopoly not only fixes the price which the cane-grower gets for his cane, and the consumer pays for sugar, but very largely the price paid for jam and lollies. This monopoly levies toll upon every man, woman, and child in Australia. And all have to pay. There is no alternative.

The right honorable gentleman tells us to-day that he desires to place the sugar industry in the position that it occupied before the first Agreement was made. His attitude has changed since he made the statement which I have just quoted. He has now to obey the behests of such institutions as the Colonial Sugar Refining Company - the company that paid £50,000 into the funds that keep him and his associates in power, fie has to play up to such monopolies in order that his party may secure financial assistance. His position is very like that of the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs), who said this afternoon, “ As I cannot get the substance I shall have to be content with the shadow.”

Mr Makin:

– He subordinates the interests of the producer to those of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– That is so.

Mr Mahony:

– How much is the Colonial Sugar Refining Company contri buting to the Nationalist party’s campaign fund to-day?

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– M - Many things have happened since the Prime Minister made the statement I have quoted regarding the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. The money that has passed in doles of £25,000 and so an explains the change in the attitude of the right honorable gentleman and the honorable member for Capricornia. The honorable member for Capricornia has now to right-about turn. He occupies in this Chamber to-day a position entirely different from that which he took up a few weeks ago. It is not long since he was ejected from a meeting of housewives in this city because he tried to secure the very thing for which we stand to-day. We give him an opportunity now to take up the same attitude, and we do not threaten him with the treatment that he received on that occasion. We stand to-day where we stood in 1915. We stand for the making of a fair Agreement that will protect the interests of the grower and the worker in the industry, and do justice to all. The honorable member for Capricornia knows that if the Committee turns down the Agreement and accepts the proposed duties - “accepts the shadow for the substance,” as he termed it - no one in the industry will know where he stands.

It is suggested in the press and elsewhere that the Labour party are pledged to the present Agreement. We say that we stand for an Agreement that will be fair to every one connected with the industry, and do all-round justice. If, instead of waiting for the report of the Public Accounts Committee, which I understand will contain information of much value, we blindly accept the Government’s proposal to impose these duties, we shall have no assurance that the Australian sugar-cane grower will be protected from the competition of sugar grown abroad by black labour. I fail to see that the proposed duties will give a protection substantial enough to save the Australian sugar industry from the competition of black-grown sugar from abroad. Thus not only is the honorable member for Capricornia, together with those associated with him, guilty of standing against the Agreement, but if he and his party vote for the duties proposed by the Government they will do so knowing that there is no assurance that the Australian sugar-producer will be protected from the competition of the blackgrown article. That is the indictment that we make against the honorable member and others who propose to take this step in the dark. I felt that I ought not to allow the statements made by the honorable member for Capricornia to go unchallenged, and the observations I have made serve to show the extraordinary position which he and other honorable members opposite occupy to-day.

Mr ROBERT COOK:
INDI, VICTORIA · VFU; CP from 1920

.- It seems to me that the question at issue is of such momentous importance that it should bo discussed in a more amicable way than it has been, and that our object should be to secure, if not all-round justice, at least a compromise on the best possible lines. I made it my duty during the last recess to travel over part of Queensland, and so to make myself familiar with the position of the canegrower, the miller, and every one associated with the sugar industry. There can be no doubt that the sugar industry is a great one. We have spent millions of pounds on the defence of Australia, and shall have to do so again: and it seems to me that those who have so far addressed themselves to this motion have not given the consideration to the question of the effect which the settlement of Queensland by means of the extension of the sugar industry will have on the protection of the country from a national as well as an industrial stand-point. I have thought it my duty to obtain first-hand information as to the extent of the industry. The latest report on the subject shows that there are 200,000 acres under sugarcane, that the capital represented to-day in land and improvements amounts to £6,500,000, that the value of mills and machinery is £6,000,000, and the value of refineries £3,500,000, or a total of £16,000,000. Then, again, there are, approximately, 22,000 menemployed in the industry, and 4,500 cane farms; while the average annual yield is, approximately, 250,000 tons, of the approximate value of £10,000,000. The industry supports upwards of 100,000 people. It is as yet in its infancy. There are in Queensland many hundreds of thousands of acres equally as suitable for sugar-cane production as the land already so cultivated. We should, therefore, do everything possible to encourage and support the extension of so important an industry.

Whilst we should give careful consideration to the sugar-cane growers of Queensland, we have also to consider the great fruit-growing industry in the south. The following return dealing with the position of jam and preserving factories in Australia in1 920 will give some idea of the magnitude of the fruit-growing industry of Australia: -

Jam and Preserving Factories.

Number of factories, 152.

Number of employees, 6,974.

Actual horse-power of engines employed,

2,520.

Approximate value of land and buildings, £576,302.

Approximate value of plant and machinery, £348,549.

Total amount of wages paid, £371,473.

Value of fuel used, £57,848.

Value of raw material worked up, £3,757,611.

Total value of output, £5,487,960.

Value added in process of manufacture, £1,730,349.

The number of fruit-growers is, approximately, 30,820 ; and the industry supports very considerably over 100,000 people. In Victoria we have spent about £12,000,000 on irrigation, and the country so dealt with consists largely of fruit-growing areas. Quite a number of returned soldiers have been settled on fruit-growing lands in this State, and their future depends largely on the decision of the Parliament in regard to the Sugar Agreement.

Mr Corser:

– There are many returned soldiers in the sugar industry in Queensland.

Mr ROBERT COOK:
INDI, VICTORIA · VFU; CP from 1920

– Thatis so.

Mr Groom:

– Why contrast the two industries? Both are essential.

Mr ROBERT COOK:
INDI, VICTORIA · VFU; CP from 1920

– I recognise that, and the few remarks I have to make will not be of a vindictive character. My object is to try to bring both these great industries into line. I desire to effect a compromise, and to give the Ministry every reasonable support in an effort to do the right thing for the whole community. I have here another’ interesting table, which will still further impress upon honorable members the vast import ance of the fruit-growing industry. The table is as follows: -

The acreage under fruit has practically doubled during the ten years.

Mr Bayley:

– Can the honorable member say what percentage is sold as fresh fruit and what percentage is manufactured into jams and preserves?

Mr ROBERT COOK:
INDI, VICTORIA · VFU; CP from 1920

– The total Australian production of canned fruits is 700,000 cases. The export amounts to 450,000 cases, while 250,000 cases represent the home consumption. The figures which I have quoted indicate the farreaching character of the fruit-growing industry, and how necessary it is that the whole question of affording protection to the sugar industry should be approached in a fair and reasonable way, so that these two great industries may not be at one another’s throats, but may be brought together as closely as possible. I realize that the sugar industry of Queensland must have some protection. I am sorry that the report of the Public Accounts Committee is not available, but as it has not been presented, and as honorable members seem determined to bring this matter to a finality, we must fall back upon the only information on the subject available, and that is contained in the finding of the Tariff Board. But the whole subject has been dealt with too hastily. Even the Tariff Board has not had sufficient time to conduct its investigations into the sugar question conscientiously. For instance, it says in its report: -

This report makes it clear that it is practically impossible to obtain a proper statement of the costs of production of sugar cane in Queensland. It is reasonable to suppose that the growers would immediately display their costs were they unfavorable. The production of costs is frequently requested in connexion with applications for protection under the Tariff, and they are invariably supplied.

So far as I could see in the small time I had at my disposal when I visited Queensland, the sugar industry is one of the best organized industries in the Commonwealth, and I am convinced that if the Tariff Board had taken the necessary steps it could have ascertained from many men who are engaged in the industry, and who know it from A to Z, much clearer information than, apparently, it was able to obtain. However, the Board says -

After mature consideration the Board considers the duty should be increased, but not beyond1d. per lb., or £9 6s. 8d. per ton. This will be a protection of 80 per cent. on the prices of imported sugar before the war, and should be ample to enable the industry to be successfully carried on provided efficient methods are adopted.

And with no further information upon the position of the industry available, I am prepared to give my support to that finding, provided the jam manufacturers and preservers are given their sugar for export trade and local manufacture at import parity. If that request is not granted we might just as well shut down our orchards and our jam factories and our canneries. Yesterday we were dealing with a Bill for a large advance to certain States to assist them in bringing out immigrants, who will no doubt engage in both fruitgrowing and sugar-cane growing. We have millions of acres capable of growing fruit or sugar. Therefore, the manner in which both the sugar industry and the fruit-preserving industry are treated is closely associated with our immigration policy, and I trust that equity and fair play will be meted out to both in- dustries. {: #subdebate-17-0-s19 .speaker-K6S} ##### Mr CORSER:
Wide Bay .- I regret that upon such an important matter as this so much time has been spent by honorable members in making attacks on different parties and individuals in this House. The sugar-cane growing industry is tottering in the balance as to whether it can be carried on successfully or not. {: type="A" start="I"} 0. ask honorable members to recollect £he attacks which were launched not many weeks ago at the Sugar Agreement and the administration thereof. Many charges were made which, I am sure, will be disproved when the report of the Public Accounts Committee is presented, but, at the time, there was no disposition shown to renew it. And now honorable members ask why steps should not be taken to do so. How could the House deal with such an important matter when a Committee is reviewing the Government's administration of the present Agreement, upon which such terrific reflections were cast? In any case, many steps must be taken before another Agreement could be drawn up. First of all, the Queensland Government must be induced to pass the necessary legislation to enable them to acquire the whole of the sugar-cane crop in Queensland for some years. That having been done, all parties concerned in growing cane, the planters and the workers, those who mill the raw cane and those who refine the raw sugar, must be brought together and asked to come to some basis of agreement. And when all this is done, the Agreement, as drawn up between the Commonwealth Government, the State ' Government, and all parties concerned,, must come before this Parliament - for ratification. It is absolutely certain that this task could not be undertaken this session. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr Mcwilliams: -- But But it was known, years ago, when the Agreement would cease. {: .speaker-K6S} ##### Mr CORSER: -- Yes, but what we did not know years ago was that the Country party and the Opposition would attack the Sugar Agreement as it has been attacked in this House. Until the charges made have been cleared up by the presentation of the report of the Public Accounts Committee_, which is now sitting, it will be impossible to enter into any fresh Agreement, or submit it to this Parliament with a chance of having it ratified. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- The Opposition did not attack the Agreement; it merely attacked the Administration. {: .speaker-K6S} ##### Mr CORSER: -- The whole thing was attacked, and is now under consideration by the Public Accounts Committee, and until it is finalized by that Committee's report it would not be right to ask this Parliament on the eve of an election to ratify an extension of the Agreement which has been open to so much attack. In the meantime, people with common sense will recognisethat those who are engaged in the sugar industry must have some guarantee that when they proceed to spend large sums of money in breaking up fresh ground, or in fertilizing ground already broken up, so as to insure crops for the next five years, they will stand a reasonable chance of getting their money back. They can have this guarantee, either by protective duty, or by an Agreement, or bv both. Although I do not believe in the socialization of any Australian industry, except in carrying out a policy of building and running railways, or of running postoffices and such like concerns, I regard the drawing up of an Agreement in connexion with the acquisition and sale of sugar as essential, because it concerns a commodity produced in all other parts of the world, from cane, by. black labour, and refined by black labour. It is necessary to treat the sugar industry in a different way from all other industries. In any case, the Commonwealth- Government have simply undertaken the task of seeing that the terms of the Sugar Agreement were carried out. They have sought to make no -profit. They have undertaken to see that the labourer's wages were so much, that the price paid to the cane grower was so much, that the raw sugar miller was paid so much, and that the refining companies were paid so much. The companies were obliged to keep books, which were open to the inspection of the officers of the Commonwealth ' AuditorGeneral. The books had to be kept correctly, so that the Commonwealth Government auditors could trace the cost of Every individual operation, and see that the refiners were not getting more than (hey were entitled to charge for the work they performed. The sole profit derived by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company came out of the managing charge of *£L* per ton, which was previously £1 7s. per ton. Much has been said by way of attack upon the Agreement, because it was really attacking, the Agreement to attack the Colonial Sugar Refining Company and its administration during Ihe period of control. Honorable members have pointed out that the company have doubled their profits,' the insinuation being that the increased profits have been due to the Agreement. But such .is not tho case. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company have very large estates in Fiji, where all their sugar is produced by black labour. They were under contract to supply the whole of the sugar requirements of New. Zealand, and in addition they had other very large contracts They acquired large tracts of country in Fiji, where no one had grown sugarcane before the company went there, and erected factories for dealing with the cane. They cleared and cultivated much of the land, and afterwards, in many instances, sold it on terms. They did the same thing in Queensland. There, too, the company - allowed men without capital to take up land which they had cleared and planted, and to buy it on terms, promising them as high a price for their cane as any one else would give. The reports on the industry all show that the Colonial Sugar Refining' Company's prices for cane have been higher than that of the other companies. The company did not wish to be can<»growers. They wished to confine their operations to manufacturing. Of late years, the value of land, both in Australia and in Fiji, has increased considerably, and thus the company has made large profits. Most of the profit to which reference has been made has come, not from the operations under the Agreements with the Commonwealth Government, but from other sources. In making an arrangement with the Government, the company said, "We are willing to place our cards on the table, and to allow the AuditorGeneral to check our transactions. We shall charge only the absolute working expenses, plus £1 7s. per ton" - which amount was later reduced to £1 per ton - "for profit and managerial expenses." As a merchant who has handled thousands of tons of sugar, I say that I could not do what the Colonial Sugar Refining Company has done at the price which it has received. Their overhead expenses- for so large a transaction .are so much smaller per ton than any merchant's would be, handling much smaller quantities. It would not pay me to accept that price. I feel sure that the Agreement has benefited the consumer and every interest in the Commonwealth, and there has been no legitimate complaint against it. Under it there is no interference of the cane-grower with his labourers: of the crude-sugar manufacturer with the canegrower; or of the refiner with the manufacturer of crude sugar. If there were any ground for fearing the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, the manufacturers of white sugar, .which for all practical purposes is as good as refined sugar, though not equalling it in appearance, would compete seriously with the company. It is necessary to protect the manufacturers of white sugar from the competition of importers- of Java, Fiji, and other sugars. The Government proposes an extra duty of £2 per ton on white and refined sugar. I am not so much afraid of the importation of refined sugar as of the importation of white sugar. If we protect the white sugar, the mill-owners who make white sugar in Australia, instead of selling it to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, can sell it direct to the public. To-day I received an urgent telegram from the Fairymead Factory, which used to send all their sugar into the market as white sugar, saying that they regarded as inadequate a duty of Id. per lb., and hoped that the rate would be raised to ]Jd. per lb., and 1¾d. for white and refined sugar. I do not wish to injure any industry, and ever since I have been in this House I have, as far as I could, seen that fair play was given to all the industries of Australia, including those of the southern States. It must not be forgotten that sugar was produced so cheaply in 1919 in comparison with other parts of the world, that our manufacturers were able to export in that year £1,847,970 worth of jams and jellies, £1,054,099 worth of milk, £374,142 worth of biscuits, and £109,355 worth of confectionery. The consumers of Australia during the war got sugar for about one-third of the price that was being charged for it in the United States of America and in the United Kingdom. While we were selling sugar at £46 ls. 6d. per ton, the price in Great Britain varied from £57 15s. to £112 per ton, and jam factories there had to pay as much as £160 a ton for it. We were charging the factories £57 a ton, less a rebate of £20 a ton on the sugar contents of exports. It must not be forgotten that when forming the. Federation, Queensland agreed to the White Australia policy, and gave up growing sugar-cane with black labour, which is the practice followed in all other parts of the world, the industry was promised adequate protection. These are some of the import sugar duties in force in other parts of the world. The duty per ton in the "United Kingdom is £25 1.3s. 4d.; in Canada, £11 3s.; in the United States of America, £11 19s. 9d. ; in Norway, £19 2s. lid; in Belgium, £10 4s. 10d.; in. the Netherlands, £22 17s. Id.; in Germany, £20 6s. 5d.; in Portugal, £29 9s. 3d.; in Italy, £13 6s. 8d.; in Brazil, £56 2s. 8d.; in .the Argentine, £12 9s.; in Mexico, £11; and in France, £28 14s. lOd. {: .speaker-K1J} ##### Mr Pratten: -- Those are revenue rates. {: .speaker-K6S} ##### Mr CORSER: -- Not in every instance. Germany, Belgium, and other European countries subsist chiefly on beet sugar, and their duties are imposed to protect the beet-sugar industry. In Queensland we have 421,000,000 acres of land, and in our western districts the population is dependent for its fruit supply largely on dried fruits. The cost of carriage Ls too high, and distances too long, to enable fresh fruits to be sent there. We might easily have questioned why these people should be taxed as they have been on various other articles they do not produce. For instance, on bacon and hams, the duties are, British 3d., intermediate 4d., and general 4d. ; biscuits, ld., 2d., 3d.; butter and cheese, 3d. all round; candles, 1½d., 2d. and 2£d. ; apples, pears, &c. , 4d. all round; honey, l£d., 2d. and 3d.; hops, 6d., 9d. and ls. ; jams and jellies, 3d. all round; currants and raisins, 3d. all round; ginger, 4d. all round; prunes, 4Jd. all round ; malted milk, 6d., 7d. and 8d. ; sweetened milk, 2d., 2$d. and 3d. We might easily have objected that the Queensland people were not producing those articles, and that they should not be taxed in order to assist their production in southern Australia, but we took a broader view. We realized that, having adopted a White Australia policy, we must encourage primary production and manufacture, so as to increase our population and thus insure our hold upon this enormous territory. If we do not follow that policy, the time will come when some other nation will claim the right to utilize those areas which we are not utilizing. The Australian people neither bought this country nor won it by conquest. We took it from its original inhabitants- simply because they were not utilizing it, and if we, in turn, fail to develop and populate the country, the League of Nations will find it difficult to " justify our retention of a continent populated by a handful of people. If the sugar industry is wiped out, no other will take its place in the north of Australia.. The only way to insure its continuance is to properly protect it, or renew the Agreement, which has not yielded an undue profit to any party to it. . From the cane planted next season the grower will get practically nothing in the first year, but he will expect to. get a crop in the four following years. Before he can be expected to invest large sums of money in fertilizing, cultivating and planting that land, he must be assured that he will get a sufficient price for his product to pay the wages and other expenses incidental to his industry. I ask the honorable member for Franklin **(Mr. Mcwilliams)** to listen to the appeal of the sugar-growers and to recollect the assistance that has been given to his own State. Up till the outbreak of war I used to import carbide at about £12 per ton, but, for the benefit of Tasmania, this Parliament imposed a protective duty of £30 per ton. Hops, also, are heavily protected. If it is fair for the Tasmanian people to ask this Parliament to keep its engagement in regard to the annual grant to that State, have we not a right to ask them to respect the undertaking given to the Queensland sugar interests, that, if they were deprived of the same class of cheap labour as is used by their competitors, they would get adequate protection 1 {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- No Tasmanian member has expressed any opposition to adequate protection. {: .speaker-K6S} ##### Mr CORSER: -- And no Queensland representative opposed the special grant to Tasmania. {: #subdebate-17-0-s20 .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- The honorable member's time has expired. {: #subdebate-17-0-s21 .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr MAXWELL:
Fawkner .- A considerable amount of irrelevancy has been introduced into the debate, and has obscured the real issue which the Committee is asked to determine, namely, whether we should increase the duty on sugar - raw, white, and beet. The question resolves itself into a very simple issue, and, before I can say whether I am. prepared to increase the duty on sugar, I must be convinced that such increase is necessary to the continuance of the sugar industry. *My* difficulty is to learn why I should vote for the increase. There "is a complete absence of evidence to assist the Committee in making up its mind. The honorable member for Wide Bay **(Mr. Corser)** 'has told the Committee that he has received from a representative man in the sugar industry an urgent telegram stating that the duty proposed by the Government is totally inadequate. On the other hand, we are told by the Government that that duty is reasonable and adequate - so much so that the Prime Minister has assured us that, even with that duty in operation, the Australian consumer will be able to buy sugar at 4id. per lb. These two contentions are totally irreconcilable. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- That is not all the information on which the honorable member is asked' to vote. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr MAXWELL: -- No; I understand that the proposal of the Government is based upon the recommendation of the Tariff Board-. I have read the report very carefully, and it is a most interesting document, but a careful perusal of it does not disclose one single reason why the duty on sugar should be increased from £6 to £9- 6s. 8d. per ton. A great portion of the report is devoted to an examination of the claim made by the sugar industry to a duty of £14 per ton, and the Tariff Board, after a discussion of that claim, came to the conclusion that it 'is absolutely unwarranted, but that the industry should be further protected' by increasing the -duty to Id. per lb., or £9 6s. 8d. .per ton. Not one single reason is given for the suggested increase. I should imagine that when an increase of duty is sought by any industry the onus lies upon it bo show that the increase is necessary in its interests. The basic fact upon which the appeal for the increase is founded is the cost of production; in fact, we are told by those who are engaged in the sugar industry in Queensland that it is impossible for them to compete with other countries producing sugar by black labour - in other words, that the cost of production elsewhere is much lower than in Australia. {: .speaker-K6S} ##### Mr Corser: -- So it is. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr MAXWELL: -- I admit that, but when we ask how much duty we must impose in order to equalize the conditions we must of necessity know what, is tho cost of producing sugar cane in Australia. I also draw attention to the fact, that the Tariff Board quotes from the report of the 1919 Royal Commission on sugar, that the Commission, when making inquiries as to the cost of producing; cane sugar in Queensland, found it impossible to get anything like reliableinformation upon that point. The fact is also pointed to that the Central Mill Board in Queensland, for four years prior to 1919, made an effort to get information from the cane-growers as to the cost of production of cane, and failed to get it. Various reasons are assigned" why that information is not forthcoming. {: .speaker-K6S} ##### Mr Corser: -- Farmers do npt keep books. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr MAXWELL: -- But when they did keep books, they did not produce the required information. In 1919, when the Commission asked for the production of books, it was told that they had beendestroyed in the cyclone of 1918; and the very sarcastic remark is made by the Commission that it waa most extraordinary that the ^cyclone seemed to have confined its attention to the books of those who would have beenable to supply the information. I - do not wish to labour this point, but I do wish to emphasize it. {: .speaker-K6S} ##### Mr Corser: -- That cyclone cost this Government some hundreds of thousands of pounds! {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr MAXWELL: -- What on earth has that to do with the fact that the cyclone was given as a reason why those men could not produce their books ? Whatever the reason was, the fact remains that the information could not be obtained by the Board, it could not be obtained by the Commission of 1919, and it has not been obtained by the Tariff Board appointed by this House. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- It is. an undiscoverable fact in all primary production. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr MAXWELL: -- Here we have introduced another element! {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I have said so before. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr MAXWELL: -- It dees nob matter if the honorable gentleman has said it half-a-dozen times, he says it now ; and I understand from him that the cost of producing cane in Queensland is an undiscoverable fact. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I say that it is so in all primary production. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr MAXWELL: -- The fact that this basic fact in such an inquiry is undiscoverable probably accounts for the discrepancy between the position occupied by the Government to-day and the position occupied by representative men- {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- There are the facts of differences in the value of the land, differences in the rainfall, and differences in the methods of production. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr MAXWELL: -- I quite admit all the Minister says, but surely it should be possible, even where there are varying qualities of land and so forth, to select districts in which the conditions are (homogeneous. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- They vary from year to year. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr MAXWELL: -- Then the information can be supplied for one year; but, as a fact, we have not been able to get the cost of production in any one single year. It is significant, and I think rather. :a sinister fact, that the men who are asking for protection cannot give us the basic information as to the cost of production. I am placed in a difficult position. Like other honorable members, I desire to do the fair thing by the industry as by every other industry in Australia^ - but only a fair thing. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- As a consistent Protectionist you have voted without similar information before. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr MAXWELL: -- Well, I should not tha-ve voted without such information. What reason is it that ought to influence me when I am asked why the duty should foe' increased by £3 6s. 8d. *t* For the honorable member for Wide Bay **(Mr. Corser)** to tell me that the duty is so and so on currants, bananas, or machinery, is no guide- to me in deciding whether such an increase as now asked for is necessary. It is of n° use to say that, because adequate protection has been given in other industries, we ought to give adequate protection in this; the question is, What is adequate protection in the sugar industry ? {: .speaker-K6S} ##### Mr Corser: -- Protection to the extent of £9 6 s. 8d. is not. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr MAXWELL: -- Before I can say whether it is adequate protection or not, T must know more than I know now. I have listened most carefully to every speech made on either side,, being anxious only for information on which to base an opinion. That information, however, has not been forthcoming. The greater part of the day has been spent most interestingly, mostly in recriminations between various members regarding matters of ancient history. That, however, does not help one to solve the difficult problem of casting ah intelligent vote. {: .speaker-K6S} ##### Mr Corser: -- Does the honorable member not know that the cost of production, together with all other information, was laid on the table of the House? {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr MAXWELL: -- One would have expected, in a debate like this, where the one question is whether this increase ought to be- granted, that those who are seeking the increase would' place all the information available before honorable members. {: #subdebate-17-0-s22 .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- May I refresh the memory of the honorable member? The Government did table a dissection of costs which had been prepared. On every point approximate costs were shown; we cannot get them absolutely accurate. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr MAXWELL: -- I understood the Minister to say a little while ago that the , cost of production is an undiscoverable fact. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I waa speaking of the actual cost. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr MAXWELL: -- One does not. expect a mathematically accurate estimate of the cost ; but, if the Minister will look at the report of the Tariff Board, he will find the grounds in which it is alleged that, where the estimated cost has been given by various growers, it cannot be accepted as reliable. I cannot remember all the grounds cited, but they include inflated capital value, giving efficient' averages instead of ordinary averages, and average returns instead of efficient returns, and unreliable statements with regard to the average price paid for cane. . {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- All these are weighed against the application for £14. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr MAXWELL: -- The average price actually paid for cane is a matter which admits of accurate statement, and about which no mistake ought to be made. Any reasonable man, outside the special pleaders from Queensland, will recognise that this places a representative, who has to give an intelligent vote, in a very difficult position. I regret that this debate should have been used in an endeavour to excite Inter-State jealousies. That is unworthy of a debate of this kind. Sneering references have been made to the State of Victoria, and there have been insinuations that, because we belong to this State, we are incapable of taking a just view of Queensland's claims. I submit, however, that we are quite as capable of taking a just view as are the Queensland men themselves. They ought to realize the possibility that nien from Queensland are prejudiced in favour of their own State; and of that great industry of which we have heard so much. We have been told that we are asked to impose this increased duty because the Queensland growers ought to know where they stand. That I admit; but I also say that every, consumer, and every taxpayer in Australia, has as much right to know where he stands in regard to the payment of the tax involved in the imposition of the duty. It is in order that we may enable both sections to know where they stand that we desire the information which, so far, has not been forthcoming. The imposition of this duty is simply a leap in the dark; indeed, the honorable member for Wide Bay **(Mr. Corser)** has admitted the fact. If the honorable member believes the representations made to him by his correspon- dents, he will admit that the duty the Government is asking us to impose i3 totally inadequate; and if it is totally inadequate it must be perfectly useless. I should like to know with what object the honorable member for Wide Bay read that telegram if he did not' indorse it? {: .speaker-K6S} ##### Mr Corser: -- I do not know enough to indorse it. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr MAXWELL: -- If the honorablemember believes the statements made to be true, he has a perfect right to give them to us as a fact; but if he does not, he should not have used the communication. {: .speaker-K6S} ##### Mr Corser: -- I cannot say whether it is true or not. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr MAXWELL: -- We are at the end of the session, and we are told that this duty, if imposed, will not come into operation until the Agreement expires in June next. This means, of course, that the real settlement of the question of sugar protection, whether by way of an import duty or of control, is a matter for the next 'Parliament. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- What are the parties to do in the meantime? »v {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr MAXWELL: -- A duty is proposed which those concerned 'say is totally inadequate. It follows that such a duty can be of no use; and, in any case, they are protected until June next year, by which time the new Parliament will have assembled. Even if we do agree to this increased duty) that will not by any means settle the matter. A new Parliament is about to be elected, and I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that, when the Prime Minister was in Queensland quite lately, addressing the sugargrowers in advocating a renewal of theAgreement as an expression of his own personal opinion, he said that the only way in which to obtain a renewal was to send into the Federal. Parliament a majority of members pledged to a renewal. {: .speaker-K6S} ##### Mr Corser: -- That is not true; the Prime Minister never made any such statement ! {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr MAXWELL: -- Was the honorable member with the Prime Minister throughout the whole length and breadth of his tour in Queensland? Is he in a position to say that on no occasion, when the Prime Minister was addressing the growers, he made such a statement? {: .speaker-KHE} ##### Mr Higgs: -- Suppose he did, what then ? {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr MAXWELL: -- I am using this a3 an illustration; and I say that it lies with the next Parliament to settle the future of the industry in Queensland. Whatever we do now is subject to review by the new Parliament when it meets, and I am anxious to do whatever is fair in regard to the industry. If I thought that the increased duty of £9 6s. 8d. would help the industry, I should vote for it. Perhaps I should not have used the word " help," because, of course, any increase would help the industry. If I were convinced that it was reasonably necessary I would vote for it. But I have only the recommendation of the Tariff Board ; and the Government have gone one better than that. The Board has given no reason why the duty should be increased to £9 6s. 8d.; and *a fortiori* the Government have given no reason, so far as I can learn, why 'they have gone one better. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The honorable member cannot have read the report of the Tariff Board. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr MAXWELL: -- I have read every word of it. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The Board refers more than once to increased wages and added costs under the provisions of the Navigation Act, . and to other points which have reduced the value of the old degree of protection. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr MAXWELL: -- The Board has not said to . what specific extent increased wages have reduced the protection or affected the cost of production. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- In 1912, wages were 26s. a week and keep; now, they are 45s. **Mr.- MAXWELL.-** Can the' Minister for Defence show that the difference between 26s. and 45s. a week accounts for and covers the increase of £3 6s. 8d. a ton in duty? {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I tell the honorable member that it does not. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr MAXWELL: -- Then where are we? If we are going to protect the industry, let us do so adequately. What is the use of the Government asking for an increase which the Minister for Defence **(Mr. Greene)** admits is inadequate? If the Government desire to protect the industry, are they not making a fool of the House when they say, " We ask you to agree to such and such a rate of duty, but it does not represent adequate protection "? {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- What is the good of this special pleading? {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr MAXWELL: -- I desire to find facts on which to base the judgment which I must form before I can cast an intelligent vote. Despite all my endeavours, I have not yet been able to glean particulars which can guide and confirm me in the direction that I should take. If I should be asked by my constituents why I voted for an increase of duty to £9 6s. 8d. per ton I would like to be able to say just what necessitated the particular increase. I do not refer merely to an increase, but to the specific increase. However, when I ask the Government if the proposed increase is adequate, I am informed that it is not. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- If the honorable member proposes to work out the proposition on a basis of mathematical accuracy he will not succeed; for the imposition of these duties is involved in the policy of a White Australia. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr MAXWELL: -- With great respect, I hold that the White Australia policy has nothing to do with the case. It is a settled policy, which we must maintain; but the matter of its maintenance affords me no direct specific assistance when I am searching for the rate of duty which will be adequate to protect the industry. Of course, we must maintain our White Australia policy. That is why we must go in for Protection at all. But the question which I desire to have answered is, by how much, if anything, should wo increase the present duty? As at present advised, I shall certainly not vote for Id. more than is recommended by the Tariff Board. With regard to the matter of the sugar to be used by manufacturers, while we should do all that is possible to assist and stabilize the great Queensland sugar industry, we should not be unmindful of the position of the manufacturers of jam and fruit and other preserves into whose products sugar so largely enters. The manufacturers ought to get their sugar at world's parity, both for export and for home consumption. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- The honorable member's time has expired. {: #subdebate-17-0-s23 .speaker-JWN} ##### Mr FRANCIS:
Henty .- I have carefully listened to the debate in the hope of procuring some fresh information which might help me to cast an intelligent vote upon the resolution. I was one of those who voted in favour of the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Charlton),** to the effect that sugar should be retailed at 4½d. per lb. My object in so voting was to protest against the methods adopted by the Government in. withholding information for which the House was seeking, and which had been many times promised. Subsequently, there was a proposal, on the part of the Country party, that the whole matter of sugar control should be sub*mitted to a Select Committee. The House agreed, . unanimously, I think, that the Accounts Committee should be given the task of investigating and reporting. The Prime Minister offered to place at its disposal expert accountants; and the Committee was virtually clothed with the' authority of a Court.. Still later, a censure motion was launched by the Opposition on the basis of the sugar position, for which, however, I did not vote. The motion tad no direct bearing on the actual price of sugar. It was - >That the Government be severely censured for referring its sugar transactions to the Public Accounts Committee before disposing of the amendments moved by the honorable members for Swan and Bourke, thereby delaying decision on the question of immediately reducing the retail price of sugar. {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr Considine: -- From what is the honorable member quoting? {: .speaker-JWN} ##### Mr FRANCIS: -- From *Hansard,* of 11th August, page-' 1283. It is not a fact, as some honorable members opposite have alleged, that, in refusing to support the motion, I reversed my vote on the price of sugar. I preferred to wait until the Accounts Committee had presented its report, so that I might have the facts before me. In the vote I gave I was influenced to some extent by the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Charlton),** who said that: - >No one can hope to deal with the price of. sugar- {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr Considine: -- On a point of order, I ask whether the honorable member is in order in quoting from *Hansard* a report of a speech made in this House during the present session. {: #subdebate-17-0-s24 .speaker-JWY} ##### The CHAIRMAN (Hon J M Chanter: -- The honorable member may not: do so, but he is entitled to refresh his memory by a reference to his notes. " **Mr. _** FRANCIS. - The Leader of the Opposition on the occasion to which I was referring when interrupted, said that we could not come to a proper conclusion as to what should be the price of sugar until the whole question had been investigated from "A" to "Z." It seemed to me that such an investigation would be made by the Public Accounts Committee, and I am disappointed that the report of the Committee is not yet to hand. The further consideration of these proposed duties should be delayed, at all events, until to-morrow. By that time the report may be available. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr Charlton: -- -The amendment moved by the honorable member for Yarra **(Mr. Scullin)** has that object in view. {: .speaker-JWN} ##### Mr FRANCIS: -- That is another matter. I say candidly that I shall not support a renewal of -the Agreement, and that I am not at all satisfied with the duties which the Government are now proposing for the protection of the sugar industry. {: .speaker-KHG} ##### Mr Hill: -- I thought that the honorable member was a Protectionist, but apparently he is not prepared to give any protection to the sugar industry. {: .speaker-JWN} ##### Mr FRANCIS: -- I am an out-and-out Protectionist, and when the Tariff was under consideration, I consistently voted to give full protection to the industries of Australia. {: .speaker-KHG} ##### Mr Hill: -- With the exception of the sugar industry. {: .speaker-JWN} ##### Mr FRANCIS: -- The sugar control has been so muddled that I am not prepared to support these duties until we have had an opportunity to examine the report of the Public Accounts Committee. I cannot understand why that report is being held up. Considerable expense has been incurred by the Committee in making its inquiry, and surely we are not going to treat the whole matter as a huge joke. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The Public Accounts Committee was not asked to inquire- into the question of what duty should be imposed for the protection, of the industry. {: .speaker-JWN} ##### Mr FRANCIS: -- It was asked to inquire into the administration of the sugar control over a period of years, and that involves the question of the sugar duties. There have been so many outside activities, such as those of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, associated with the sugar control, that one is justified in refusing to vote for any further support to the industry until the report of the Public Accounts Committee is available. From that report we should be able to learn what the Colonial Sugar Refining Company has been doing, and the extent to which the cane-grower and the workers of the industry have been benefited by the Agreement. The Tariff Board, in its report, states that - >The consumers will he called upon to make an unnecessarily large contribution towards an industry which has recently been reported upon as inefficiently conducted, should the duty be fixed at £14 a ton. It reports further that it has found it difficult to come to the conclusion that even a duty of £9 6s. Sd. a ton is required to protect the industry. The jam, fruit preserving, and confectionery industries, which give employment to large numbers of men and women, are vitally interested in this matter. The honorable member for Fawkner **(Mr. Maxwell),** after, list tening carefully to the whole debate, marshalled the facts; as only a man with a well-trained mind could do, and has suggested to the Government that all the industries that are dependent upon an adequate sugar supply are entitled to consideration, as well as the sugar-growers themselves. The Tariff Board points out that in the report of theRoyal Commission of 1920 it was stated that - >Apart from thelarge numbers of farmers who do not keep any account of their transactions, there appeared to be a general disinclination on the part of those who do keep accounts to furnish statements of. actual receipts and expenditure. ... A limited number of individual' returns were received which purported to represent actual costs and receipts. There were also furnished a number of estimates of what was considered the cost of production. It is remarkable that the average of these data indicates that the sugarfarming industry is carried on at a loss, but an examination of the statements submitted clearly demonstrates that with a few exceptions - (1) the capital value is greatly inflated and that " the average price received per ton of cane is understated." The Tariff Board recommended a duty of £9 6s. 8d., but the Government have gone further and have imposed a duty of £14 per ton. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Only in respect of beetsugar. {: .speaker-JWN} ##### Mr FRANCIS: -- No one desires that any industry should be carried on at a loss, but there are in this country people who think that the grocer should sell sugar at a loss. The grocer has his rights. {: .speaker-KHG} ##### Mr Hill: -- Has not the grower some rights ? {: .speaker-JWN} ##### Mr FRANCIS: -- He has. {: .speaker-KHG} ##### Mr Hill: -- Then stand up for them. {: .speaker-JWN} ##### Mr FRANCIS: -- I am going to stand for the rights of not only the grower, but the consumer. The consumer and the manufacturing industries dependent on the sugar industry have as much right to be protected as have the growers. If, as the honorable member for Fawkner has said, we had proof that the sugar industry was suffering, we could,say to the people concerned, " Throw all your cards on the table and having examined them, wo will give you the assistance to which we think you are entitled." I am hopeful that the report of the Public Accounts Committee will be available this evening, and my vote on this question will be determined by the information which that report supplies. *Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8* p.m. {: .speaker-JWN} ##### Mr FRANCIS: -- While I propose to be consistent in my attempts to afford protection to all Australian industries, I prefer to await the report which this Parliament and the country asked the Public Accounts Committee to make before deciding that the sugar industry is entitled to the further protection now proposed to be given. I say this because I realize that the consumers of sugar have to be protected, and because there are many industries in Australia whose existence depends upon their ability to secure sugar at a fair and reasonable price. {: #subdebate-17-0-s25 .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN:
Batman >There is ample excuse for the state of nervous excitement in which a number of honorable members have approached the consideration of this savoury subject. The attitude of the Prime Minister **(Mr. Hughes)** is not only understandable, but also easily excusable. He is setting out to stabilize an industry with the aid of a very unstable Government, and his obvious anxiety is due to the fact that he is supported by a party which is by no means united as to the best means of - I repeat that word of recent manufacture - stabilizing the great sugar industry. We owe to thelate member for Angas, **Mr. Glynn,** a striking reference to his "composite mind." As a member of a certain Government he admitted that he had one mind as an individual and. another as a member of the Cabinet. Unfortunately, on this occasion we have not only the dual minds of the individual Ministers, but also the divided views of Cabinet itself. Furthermore, we are engaged in an endeavour to mature an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of Queensland, relating to the sugar industry in Queensland, while there is grave disagreement between the Government and the members' of the party supporting them. For instance, there is the honorable member for Fawkner **(Mr. Maxwell);** who attended that memorable meeting of the housewives, to which the honorable member for Capricornia **(Mr. Higgs)** has made so frequent and such feeling reference. He finds himself absolutely committed against a renewal of this Agreement, which is to expire in the middle of next year. There is also the honorable member for Kooyong **(Sir Robert Best),** who was bidden to attend the same meeting, and who declared himself favorable "to what is known as decontrol. There is also the honorable member for Henty ;(Mr. Francis), who is endeavouring to compose his dual mind on the subject, and has assured us in those rolling platitudes of which he is a pastmaster, that he stands alike for the protection of the grower, the worker, and the consumer, ;and there leaves the question. It would be unkind of me to leave this aspect of -the matter without some reference to the honorable member for Capricornia. {: .speaker-KHE} ##### Mr Higgs: -- Can the honorable member explain why he was at the meeting in question ? {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- The honorable member's heroic, demonstration on that occasion in the face of almost unparallelled difficulties won for him, if not the sympathy of any section of the meeting, at least that of my honorable colleague, **Mr. Scullin,** and myself, who were present at the meeting as the representatives of *the* great Australian Labour party. The right honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. Watt)** referred, in the course of his speech to-day, to the interest which he said existed in the southern parts of Aus.. talia in the price of sugar, and I intersected a remark that was designed to show that the anxiety of the southern - dwellers is really well founded, and that this is not a question concerning, as the honorable member for Capricornia would have us believe, the retention and holdon? of the seats of certain honorable ^members who are in a very slippery place. Sugar is an article of food which is not specially or mainly used by the leisured classes; or by any means the sole concern of the sugar-growers or sugar workers of Queensland, but is a vital factor in every poor man's home, even in the little metropolitan electorate which I, for the present, have the honour to represent. Sugar is in every sense a real Australian question. By a slight extension nf th« metaphor sugar is a " bread and butter " question. It is a domestic question which is not to be settled by the polemics of those gentlemen who come here from Queensland, and would have us believe that their special knowledge of canegrowing in the sub-tropical parts of Queensland entitles them to speak for the whole of Australia on a matter affecting the people's food. I wish to debate this matter from the point of view of the sugar consuming public, but as I regard the proposals as political, because of the manner in which it has been brought before this Committee, rather than as an attempt to deal with an economic problem, I would like to stress the position of the Government in regard to it. If they speak through their representative head, they stand for the national control of this great national industry, and even to-day, in a whirling concatena'tion of inconsistencies the Prime Minister has reminded us of the good claim the policy of a White Australia has upon us, and of the necessity that exists for making sacrifices: in order to maintain it. The right honorable gentleman was pledged to a renewal of this Agreement. Why has he changed his front upon that simple policy? The Agreement docs not expire until the middle of next year, after the new Parliament, in the ordinary course of events, must be called together. Therefore, there would be ample time to deal with the question of the renewal of the Agreement, and the right honorable gentleman had only to say, " We stand for the policy of national control of this national industry," to receive the sound backing of members of the Labour party. He would already have been assured in advance of quite sufficient support to give the people of Capricornia all the Government control they could possibly require. Why does my honorable and agitated friend, the honorable member for Capricornia, waste his time in animadverting upon the Labour party in this matter? Why does he n6t quietly take his Leader by the hand, and say, " **Mr. Hughes,** you have pledged yourself to Government control. Come into the House, and declare yourself for a renewal of that control, and you will have the support of every Queenslander and of every member of the Labour party " ? {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Why does not the honorable member for Capricornia do that? {: .speaker-KHE} ##### Mr Higgs: -- Because Victorians want sugar at 3d. per lb. That is the trouble. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- By that interjection the honorable member for .Capricornia uttered at least half a truth, -which, for him, is a very fair record. He has indicated that there are Victorians, not on the Labour side of the House, however, who would not stand such a declaration from the Prime Minister. He knows that the difficulty facing the Government is that their supporters will not stand by them on the subject of Government control, and that, for political purposes, they have to juggle with the question in a way which serves them, best in the difficulty in which they are placed. Therefore, they have come down with a proposal to impose increased duties on sugar, which is to take the place of the Government's policy of Government control -of the industry. When I ask what will be the effect of the duties the answer is, "They will protect the sugar-growers in the electorate of the honorable member for Capricornia, the sugar workers in Queensland, those engaged in the mills and refineries, and everybody associated with the working of sugar." Everybody is to be protected except the consumer of the commodity which still stands at 6d. per lb. If it is a fact that even without the imposition of these duties the worker is protected by special legislation, and that growers and those engaged in the mills and refineries are protected without Government control, by means of local boards and local awards, they have very little to thank the present Government for in that regard. The security they enjoy has been given by the application of the Labour policy. If, as an honorable member has suggested this afternoon, those engaged in the sugar industry are amply protected by industrial legislation, they have to thank, not the present Government, but the Labour party. But, unfortunately, we cannot protect the sugar consuming public by the imposition of a duty, and therefore I do not stand at present for the proposal which the Government have now made. I am charged by the honorable member for Capricornia **(Mr. Higgs)** with having at a public meeting in Melbourne made a demand for sugar at a very reasonable price. The honorable member has quoted me correctly in that regard more than once. {: .speaker-KHE} ##### Mr Higgs: -- Yes; 3d. per lb. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- I do not think I suggested 3d. per lb. {: .speaker-KHE} ##### Mr Higgs: -- "Cheaper and still cheaper." {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- At least it waa a price consistent with the fact that Australia is a great sugar-growing country, and that in respect of sugar, unlike other commodities, we are practically selfcontained. I said we should be able to supply sugar to the public at a very moderate price; certainly much less than 6d. per lb. {: .speaker-KHE} ##### Mr Higgs: -- How could good wages be paid with sugar at 3d. per lb. 1 {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- A Committee of this Parliament has been inquiring in regard to the production and distribution of sugar ; it has amassed a great deal of evidence, and it is to furnish a report very shortly. Do the Government know what is contained in the report? {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -It will not be a teport on the incidence of the Tariff. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- That is altogether too thin. It will be a report which wet all know will be very disquieting to the Government when it is published. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- How does the honorable member know that already? {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- I know it from what has been published about it already. I know it from question and answer published in the public press in regard to this inquiry. I know it by the long list of pitiable disclosures made against the Government in regard to sugar ever since the matter was first discussed in this Chamber. I know it by the mass of facta we had in evidence before the inquiry was commenced, and I know it because I have faith in the Committee as a body endeavouring to give a fair report upon the facts. It is an indecent act on the part of the Government to jump in immediately ahead of the presentation of that report with this proposal to increase tho duty on sugar. {: .speaker-KHE} ##### Mr Higgs: -- On a point of order. Was the honorable member in order in saying that the Government were guilty of an indecent act? I insist that that expression be withdrawn!. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- The expression to which the honorable member has taken exception is very often used in the Chamber. I do not say that it is a proper term fo be applied by one honorable member to others; but I am not prepared to rule it out of order. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- I am glad to have the benefit of your ruling, sir, and I accept the gentle and kindly hint you have given me. I can only assure you that the expression of which complaint has been made is very mild in comparison with what I should 'like to say about the Government and their dealings with the sugar problem. Why do I stand for a policy of Government control of sugar father than the proposed increase in duty? My attitude is easily understandable. Both a protective duty and Government control through an Agreement such as the one now current are species of Government control. Both are operations of government for the purpose of controlling the growing, manufacture, and distribution of sugar, but whilst the one form of control, as we see it operating in the Agreement, seeks to regulate the whole industry equally as to -the rights pf the grower., the refiner, the miller, the distributor, and the public is at least theoretically sound policy, the other form of Government control, although possibly it supports in a sense the grower, the miller, and the refiner, does not protect in any way the general consuming public. Its effect is quite other than that, for it puts the whole control of the industry into the hands of a great and. powerful moneymaking organization. I have never been one of those who indulge in mere rhetoric against the Colonial Sugar Refining Company or any other company. In tie present state of society I ' admit the just claims of capitalists and capitalist organizations, and I recognise that the natural ambition of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is to make as much money as possible out of the public in the midst of whom it operates. I also congratulate it, with a certain amount of reservation, upon the great success with which it has drawn handsome dividends from the Australian public. But as % member of this Parliament I do not feel in the least inclined to break down an existing control which limits, in some way, at all events, the operations of this great middleman's concern, and to hand the sugar industry over absolutely to that company with liberty to make what pro fits it can and will. That is my position in regard to this question. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company has been shown more than .once, in this House to be in a certain sense in league with the Government. We started with a declaration made in this House, and still uncontradicted, that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is a direct and powerful supporter of the Nationalist Government. It' is a sinister and unpleasant fact that the present Leader of the. Government **(Mr. Hughes),** who was one of the strongest and bitterest assailants of the company in other days, when he was in better company in another party, has now become one of the readiest and -most effusive apologists of that organization. Not that the company has altered in the slightest degree; its methods are still the same.. It still refuses to give evidence when called upon to do so; it still refuses to discharge the first duty of citizenship, namely, to make a candid statement as to the terms and conditions upon which it carries on its business with the public; it still adopts that sinister and suspicious attitude towards the people of the Commonwealth to . which it owes so much. But the attitude of the head of the Government towards the company has vastly changed. In this chamber this afternoon the right honorable, gentleman said, " Yes, I know I have had a tilt at it many a time " - and he laughed pleasantly at the memories of those other days when he had entered the lists against that doughty opponent - " I know I. have had a tilt at it, as I have at many other things that have come in my way." And he spoke, with tremendous emphasis on the first personal pronoun, of the obstacles he had overcome. When he had finished his oration one felt that Bill Adams at Waterloo was not a circumstance in comparison with the right honorable gentleman. He had not only won all sorts of reforms for the Commonwealth, but he had won them alone. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr Cunningham: -- Did he say- anything about his wrestle with the £25,000 ? {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- He did not, and I am surprised that the honorable member should call my attention to that matter, for I have not up to the present moment alleged that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company was a substantial contributor to that gift, although it is quite possible that it was. The important fact in regard to the company is that the Common- wealth, has allowed the alleged Government control to fall into the hands of the company. Sugar is not under Government control in the national >sense in which the Labour party understands the term. By national Government control we do not mean political control such as is now operating. We do not mean a partnership such as the right honorable gentleman is responsible for bringing about between the Commonwealth and Amalgamated Wireless Limited, under which the control of the country's communications are handed over to a profit-making company. We do not mean a form of control of the .sugar industry, by which the bookkeeping and every other operation in . connexion with the Agreement is- placed in the hands of a profit-making company. That is' not what" we understand, by national trusteeship for national purposes. We mean disinterested control by disinterested persons, who are not only responsible to the Commonwealth, but who will place their cards upon the table and disclose their facts and figures to the representatives of the people. I defy any honorable member to say that we have been able to extract from the Colonial Sugar Refining Company facts and figures in relation to the period over which the existing Agreement has extended, namely, from March, 1920, to the present date. {: .speaker-KHE} ##### Mr Higgs: -- How would the honorable member get the ideal control of which he speaks? {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- The first essential would be a nearer approach to an ideal Government, and 1 feel a certain sense of elation in the thought that we are approaching nearer that ideal than we .have been for some time. The honorable member for Capricornia has said,, and doubtless other honorable members will say, " The workers in Queeusland are entitled to this Protective duty, and does .not the Labour party stand for Protection? " Therefore, it follows, according to those honorable members, that we must be wholehearted supporters of the increased duty. The contention is too thin; the object of the Government in putting the matter in that way is too obvious. Of course, the party on this side stands for protection of Australian industries, and, especially, for protection off an industry which, as the Minister is so insistent on declaring, moans to a great extent the maintenance of the White Australia ideal - the ideal of every member on this side. The" workers of Queensland will not make any mistake about our attitude in this regard. I remind the Minister that when we come back - or those of us who do- as a new Parliament, this Agreement will not have' expired. It will be still current ; and there will be ample time then for us to deal with it, and to deal also with the question of the protection of the grower. I think . I am quite justified, although only' a member of the rank and file of my party, in saying, on their behalf, that the sugargrowers of Queensland may rest quite assured that, so far as we are concerned, if this Agreement has .to run out, and if we cannot get any other agreement of a national character for national purposes, this party can be relied oh to give the grower all the protection to which he is legitimately entitled. {: .speaker-JMG} ##### Mr Atkinson: -- The grower says that he wants it now, and not after the election. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- If so, all I can say is that he can have from me now the declaration, that I am empowered to make for the whole of my party, that he shall have all protection he can reasonably want. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- The honorable member's time has expired. {: #subdebate-17-0-s26 .speaker-KDZ} ##### Mr JOWETT:
Grampians .- I regret that so sweet a subject as sugar should give rise to so bitter a debate. It has, up to now. been a debate of flouts, jeers, sneers, innuendoes, reproaches, implications of bad faith, accusations of narrowness and. provincialism, and almost everything that is evil in deed and in thought. My task is to endeavour to pour some oil on the troubled waters, and bring about that sweet reasonableness in this discussion which the public of Australia have been accustomed to in the past, though, perhaps, somewhat remote past, and which we always expect in the future. I am prepared to give .the Government the fullest credit for the best and soundest intentions, and I am prepared to give the Opposition the credit of being inspired by the very highest motives. There is not, in their mind, one thought of hostility towards the 'Government, and not one second of time has been wasted in the discussion of" this vital question. As for the Country party, "their sympathies are equally given to the sugar-, growers, the fruit-growers, and the consumers of the whole of Australia. I should like, first, to put the case of the sugar-growers of Queeusland. I have stood for a White Australia ever since I ;arrived in the country - nearly fifty years ago. I have been for many years in that northern State, and know it well. I have always proclaimed, wherever I have been, that it is quite possible to carry on the sugar or any other industry in Queensland by means of white labour. We must regard those engaged in the sugar industry there, both employers and employed, as the " wardens of the northern marches " of civilization in Australia. **Mr. Mahony.** - Will you tell us what you said about coloured labour at Kyneton five years ago? {: .speaker-KDZ} ##### Mr JOWETT: -- No doubt the honorable member has an excellent memory, but I do not think it goes so far back as that. However, that is not the point we are considering. What the public of Australia has always desired to know is exactly how much protection, how much Government assistance is required to maintain sugar-growing profitably by white labour in Australia. I do not wish to reproach the Government an any way with not having supplied adequate information to the people as to the full measure of protection required. On the other hand, I, feel quite sure that the Government must be deeply grateful to rail those members who have" taken part in this debate - for the questions they have asked, and the information they have imparted. I am equally sure that the Government will supply us with unlimited volumes of information and balance-sheets if required. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The balance-sheets will surprise some honorable members! {: .speaker-KDZ} ##### Mr JOWETT: -- Where is that sweet reasonableness on the part of the Minister that we have always been accustomed to? {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr Considine: -- Where did you make that speech - at St. Arnaud or Kyneton? {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- I have repeatedly called for order, but honorable members seem to pay no attention whatever to the direction of the Chair. It is not possible for the honorable member for Grampians **(Mr. Jowett)** to utter more than halfadozen sentences without meeting with interjections, which only lead to further disorder. I appeal to honorable members *to* restrain themselves. If an honorable member desires to inform the Committee of anything that is in his mind, he may take the ordinary course. {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr Considine: -- It was not with a desire to interrupt the honorable member that I asked the question. I merely desired to know whether the honorable member made a statement about coloured labour at St. Arnaud or at Kyneton about five years ago. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- The honorable member may ask that question at the proper time, but not while another honorable member is speaking. {: .speaker-KDZ} ##### Mr JOWETT: -The thirst of the honorable member for Barrier **(Mr. Considine)** for information is so insatiable that if we were to sit for six months, I should not have time to answer all his questions. I do not join with any honorable member in condemnation of that great company, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, which I regard as one of the most splendid and highly efficient organizations in the world. Its services have been of enormous value, not only to the sugar-growers, but to the sugar consumers in Australia. And it ill-becomes a Chamber, with such responsibilities as we have, to make charges or cast reflections unless there are the strongest grounds for so doing. *Several honorable members interjecting,* {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- If honorable members persist iri interjecting I shall name the offenders. {: .speaker-KDZ} ##### Mr JOWETT: -- This House and the people . of Australia are, I think, prepared to give the utmost possible consideration to the sugar-growers of Queensland. But' not unreasonably,.we do claim to have laid before us information and figures to enable us to judge to what extent protection is required to "enable the industry to be successfully carried on in competition with black labour elsewhere. There is a strong reason why that information should be given adequately and completely before we come to a conclusion. That reason is found in the present price of sugar, which, no doubt, has been arrived at with a desire to give every consideration to the sugar-grower. I do not think any reproach can be cast at the consumers and fruit-growers of Australia for having, so far, treated the sugar-growers of Queensland ungenerously. But we have arrived at the stage when further information is demanded, because it has been found- impossible, or exceedingly difficult, for the orchardist to carry on while the present high price of sugar prevails. I have just returned from visiting a very delightful city, with a salubrious climate, in the fertile zone of Victoria. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- How are your chances? {: .speaker-KDZ} ##### Mr JOWETT: -- Well, I am not prepared to say myself, but the citizens of that great district consider my chances extremely favorable. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! {: .speaker-KDZ} ##### Mr JOWETT: -- During my visit it was strongly impressed on me by the fruitgrowers and the manufacturers of jam that they will find it practically impossible to carry on unless there is an absolutely fundamental alteration of the conditions under which they obtain their supplies of sugar. {: .speaker-KLG} ##### Mr Mahony: -- " Cheap coloured labour"? {: .speaker-KDZ} ##### Mr JOWETT: -- That sneer is hardly what I expected from a gentleman of the amiable and genial, disposition of my friend from Dalley. {: .speaker-KLG} ##### Mr Mahony: -- *I* am not sneering; I am quoting from a speech of the honorable member. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! The honorable "member for Grampians is inviting interjections. {: .speaker-KDZ} ##### Mr JOWETT: -- I am sorry if any invitation of mine to debate, banquet, or dance should be misconstrued; I shall not issue any' more invitations, at all events, until this debate is concluded. J have discussed this matter very fully with those engaged in fruit-growing, and also with those who manufacture the fruit after it has been gathered. I wish to impress on the Committee the immense importance of the fruitgrowing industry, without detracting in any way from the importance of sugar-growing. I remind honorable members, however, of the very grave danger of driving these fruit-growers off the land in the absence of any settlement of this question. My own belief is that the question cannot be settled by the motion before us, unless the Committee is prepared to carry the amendment of which I have given notice. I should also like to remind honorable members that the "Book of Life" began with a man and a woman in an orchard, the Garden of Eden, with the story of our great ancestor and ancestress. It was only when they listened to the temptation of a serpent- {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- Was it from Queensland? {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr Gabb: -- It was the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. {: .speaker-KDZ} ##### Mr JOWETT: -- I desire to make no reflection either upon Queensland or the company; but the fact remains that, when our ancestors listened to .the voice of the serpent, they were driven out of the orchard, and that unhappy event coincides with what is known as the fall of man. Those who thoroughly understand the industry say there is grave danger of many fruit-growers being driven from their orchards because they cannot continue to make a living. They see no prospect of improving their outlook unless jam manufacturers and. fruit preservers are permitted - to obtain their sugar supplies under considerably more favorable conditions than those which rule to-day. They are not satisfied with the proposal of the Government that they shall receive some form of rebate upon the importation of sugar for use in their products for export. They desire to be allowed to import their sugar supplies in bond. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The Government have not made the statement, in connexion with this debate, that the manufacturers shall be granted rebates, as the honorable member has just indicated. On the contrary, both the Prime Minister and I have said that the previous practice will be reverted to - namely, of permitting the importation of sugar for the purpose of manufacture for export. {: .speaker-KDZ} ##### Mr JOWETT: -- Do I understand, then, that, if this resolution is agreed to, jam manufacturers and fruit canners will be permitted to import sugar in bond ? {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- For the purpose of manufacturing for export. {: .speaker-KDZ} ##### Mr JOWETT: -- I cannot read anything of that character into the resolution. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I shall deal with it. when speaking to the honorable member's proposed amendment. {: .speaker-KDZ} ##### Mr JOWETT: -- Owing to the high price of sugar and the relatively high price which they are, therefore, compelled to charge for their output, manufacturers have complained that sales of jam and preserves have fallen' off enormously. They claim that their only hope of building up again - in respect of export products - is in being permitted to import their sugar supplies in bond. I would impress upon honorable members the importance of doing everything possible to encourage the fruit-growing industry. Jam manufacturers and fruit canners should be assisted so that they may be able to sell their products more cheaply, thus permitting the people to buy necessary supplies, and so saving orchardists from disaster. {: #subdebate-17-0-s27 .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr BELL:
Darwin .- On more than one occasion when the question of Government control of sugar has been discussed in this House I have said that I was definitely opposed to a renewal of the Agreement. I am not likely to depart from that decision. I object to Government control in respect of any of our Australian industries. This Committee is entitled "to know whether the imposition of the proposed duties will mean that there shall not be a renewal of control. The Minister for Trade and Customs **(Mr. Rodgers)** was directly asked, last night, whether such would be the case; but he declined to give a frank reply, stating that the matter, was one for future consideration. The Prime Minister, when approached, would give no more definite assurance. But, if we decide to impose rates of duty which will afford full protection to the sugar industry and we discover, after the election, that the Government intend to renew the Agreement, this expiring Parliament will have been placed in a false position. It will not now be necessary for us to consider the question of protecting the industry if the whole subject-matter is to come up for review and final decision by the new Parliament. I recognise the value of the industry to Australia; and, since I have always been prepared to give what I have considered sufficient protection to Australian industries, I intend to support the imposition of duty. I do not feel inclined, however, to vote in favour of the motion unless and until I have been given an assurance that its adoption will involve the establishment of a Protectionist policy for the industry rather than the renewal of Government control. Upon -the question of what is an adequate degree of. protection, I have nothing *t»* guide me except the report of the Tariff Board. The literature sent to members from, and in behalf of the sugar interests, is not a true guide concerning the actual position. Obviously, it .is inspired, just as was all the literature with which members of Parliament were deluged during the Tariff session.. I supported the appointment of the Tariff Board because I desired that there should be an expert body to inform and guide me when I should be asked to consider the rates of duty to be imposed for the protection of various Australian industries. I am not well informed concerning, the conditions of the sugar industry. I have already said that I desire to give it adequate protection, because I recognise its national importance. Also, we must settle the northern parte of Australia. Our empty northern spaces are our greatest problem, if we are to maintain the policy of a White Australia. I have turned to the report of the Board for guidance and advice, but I find that certain of 'its passages are rather disquieting. It is a recognised principle that, if an industry is, not doing all that should be possible for itself, the people should not be called upon to subsidize it by the imposition of heavy protective duties. Under the heading of the economic position of the industry, the Tariff Board states that it has been forced to the conclusion that "the sugar 'industry is on somewhat of an anomalous basis." The report states - >In Queensland, where nearly all the sugar is produced, the State Government - through its instrumentalities - fixes the wages and conditions of the industry, whilst' the Federal Government is called upon to protect a position it has had no hand in creating. Speaking generally, this does not appear to be a proper economic position, for in th£ future it might happen that the granting oE a certain protection' if made necessary through special conditions_ imposed by any State might not be long sufficient if the State authorities concerned decided to impose additional conditions. Such divided control does not appear to be satisfactory, and it seems reasonable to suggest that should any State desire unusual conditions in one of its staple industries that it should specially contribute towards such conditions, and not penalize the whole of the Commonwealth to maintain any special conditions desired. The expression of such an opinion must be weighed by this Committee before a vote is taken. The report appears to have been based on somewhat incomplete evidence. Even the Tariff Board does not seem to have secured sufficient informs- tion to guide it. Members of Parliament cannot be expected to familiarize themselves with all the conditions appertaining to all the industries of the Commonwealth. However, with such information as I have been able t01 secure, and from what. I have heard during the debate, I shall be prepared - provided that I may take it for granted that Government control will not be continued hereafter, but that a Protectionist policy for the sugar industry shall take its place - to support the duties proposed by the. Board. That body states - >After mature consideration the Board considers -the : duty should be increased, but not beyond Id. per lb. or £9 6s. 8d. per. ton. This will be a protection of 80 per cent, on the prices of imported sugar before the war, and should be ample to enable the industry to be successfully carried on, provided efficient methods are adopted. The honorable member for Grampians **(Mr. Jowett)** has suggested that, not only should jam manufacturers and fruitcanners be free to import sugar supplies free of duty, in connexion with manufacture for export purposes, but that they should be granted the same advantages with respect to their output for the home market. The proposal that the manufacturers of these commodities shall be given sugar duty free, while those who use sugar for domestic purposes are required to pay the full price is extraordinary, especially when we remember that these manufactured articles, when complete, are fully protected. Why should not the housewife who grows or buys her own fruit, and prefers to make her own jam, also be given sugar duty free? What about the other industries in which protected articles are largely used? The mining industry uses explosives very extensively. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr Mcwilliams: -- They ought to be free. {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr BELL: -- If we are to take up that stand in regard to all industries which use protected articles, then the whole Protectionist policy must go by the board. Why do we impose a protective duty on sulphur, which is used extensively in the manufacture of manures? Every one knows the extent to which fertilizers are essential to the farming industry. Why should not the farmer have, free of duty, all that he requires? To proceed along those .lines, however, would be merely to play with our fiscal policy. I have no desire to debate this question at length. I intend to give the sugar industry all the protection that is necessary. I shall support the recommendation of. the Tariff Board, being satisfied that that body is willing to give ample protection to every Australian industry in respect of which it is called upon to make inquiries.- {: #subdebate-17-0-s28 .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr CONSIDINE:
Barrier .- -I approach the consideration of. this subject from a view-point different from that which has been taken by most honorable members who have spoken during the debate. I' fail to see that .the most important section of the people of this country are vitally affected, either by the proposal of the Government to impose these duties, or by the counter proposal . for the continuation oF the Agreement. It has been said during the dis, cussion that the workers are vitally affected by fluctuations in the prices of the commodities they consume, and nhat any increase or decrease in the cost of sugar, which is one of the most commonly used foodstuffs, must adversely affect them. That, to my mind, is a fallacious argument. It is used by people who tell us -that the worker, in the first instance, must have his wages fixed by a Wages Board or Arbitration Court, where rates of wages are determined by a computation of the cost of living based upon the prices of foodstuffs. If that be so, those who want to secure cheap foodstuffs for the worker are the very men. who are advocating a reduction of the wages of the working class. If wages must .be based on the cost of living,' and honorable members succeed in lowering the cost of living, then it is evident that the gain to the working class is going *io* be a very dubious one. If sugar and' other commodities are reduced in price and wages are fixed by Arbitration Courts or Wages Boards upon the cost of living, then I fail to see to what extent the working men and women of Australia are concerned in this matter. The Government proposal to increase the duties on sugar is on a par with the bounty they have provided for the steel manufacturers. It is on a par also with the other presents which they have made to vested interests'.. If the duty on sugar increases the price, the worker has either to receive sufficient in the form, of wages to enable him to purchase that commodity at the increased price or to' go without it. We know that the power to keep up wages is determined by the strength of the Labour organizations. When those organizations are not sufficiently strong we see what is occurring at the present time - a campaign to reduce wages and to extend the hours of employment. The thinking worker must consider it ridiculous to be asked to take sides in this controversy as to whether the sugar -growers or the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, one of the worst monopolies we have in Australia, shall be given a present such as that now proposed by the Government. So far as the sugar-workers are concerned, I may say at once that I do not believe in giving a concession to a section of the workers at the expense of the remaining sections. It is absurd to talk about the great benefit that the Government proposal will confer on the working classes, since we know that any concession given to one section must be at the expense of the rest. If the workers in a given industry obtain an increased wage, and are placed in a relatively better position than their fellow- workers, they benefit to that extent; but if there is an all-round increase to the workers, then, on the completion of the circle, we find that there is actually no benefit to them as a whole. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- This is the first time I have heard the honorable member on sound economics. {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr CONSIDINE: -- The honorable gentleman, perhaps, with his tongue in his cheek, has spoken the truth. I am giving him sound working-class economics. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The honorable member has been" chasing the " golden ball." {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr CONSIDINE: -- Not at all. I am endeavouring to point out, not to the honorable member, but to the working men and women of Australia, that matters of this kind do not vitally concern them. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I thought that the honorable member would proceed to show that once the wage fund is exhausted there is nothing with which to carry on. {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr CONSIDINE: -- -The honorable gentleman is not so stupid as to imagine anything of the kind. I was pointing out that neither his politics nor his economics interest the working classes. What concerns the sugar-workers, the miners, and the workers generally is not the Tariff question or the price of sugar, or bread, but the ownership of the machinery of wealth production. The workers are not robbed by Tariffs, nor. are they robbed over the counter; they are robbed at the point of production. That is why I have availed myself of this opportunity to point out to the workers, as I have done on other occasions, that matters of this kind affect the conflicting agrarian and manufacturinginterests, but do not vitally affect labour. The worker is not placed at a disadvantage by purchasing his commodities over the counter at fluctuating prices. He is not robbed by the imposition of a Tariff any more than he is robbed under an absolutely Free Trade policy. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr Laird Smith: -- How would the honorable member protect the worker? {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr CONSIDINE: -- I cannot. He has to protect himself. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr Laird Smith: -- I put my question in all sincerity to the honorable member. **Mr. CONSIDINE** . - Just as the honorable member, when a member of the Labour party, endeavoured in all sincerity to tell the workers how to protect themselves. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr Laird Smith: -- I know how to protect them. I" wanted to ascertain whether the honorable member knew. {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr CONSIDINE: -- If the honorable member knows how to protect them, then it is no wonder that the workers are in a state of confusion. They have not changed; but the honorable member has. Formerly he told them to protect themselves in one way, and now he asks them to protect themselves in another way. It is no wonder they get confused. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr Laird Smith: -- Does the honorable member want me to change? {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- The honorable member must not interject. {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr CONSIDINE: -- The honorable member has asked me how I would urge the workers to protect themselves. I would endeavour to point out where they are doing wrong inaccepting the fallacies which are foisted upon them under the guise of economic doctrines and political shibboleths. I would point out that these are merely red herrings to distract their attention from where their real interest lies. The strength of the workers does not lie in sending representatives to these institutions, but really lies in their organizations on the job - in the factories, the mines, the sugar works, and everywhere else where labour is necessary in these great industries about which honorable members talk. For instance, tonight honorable members have said that. the great sugar industry is necessary to Australia, and when the steel industry was under consideration they said that that was another great industry which was necessary to Australia. I shall tell (he workers what honorable members have in their minds when they talk of Australia. The honorable member for Darwin **(Mr. Bell),** who preceded me, said that the great sugar industry was necessary in order to fill up the empty spaces of the north. Why is it necessary to fill up the empty spaces of the north? So that he and his fellow-patriots may have Australia filled with people, "and so that when this comes about the people will overflow to some other country and tack it on to Australia, as even before this continent is half filled they have proceeded to do, having already started out with their buccaneering expeditions and grabbed all available land in sight. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order! {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr CONSIDINE: -- The honorable member who talked about our empty continent urged that it was measures such as are now proposed for the purpose of encouraging the sugar industry which will help us to fill up the north and save us from the overflowing of people of other lands in the dim and distant future. At the same time the honorable member is one of those who stood behind Australia's action in seizing German New Guinea, Nauru, and other islands in the Pacific. {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- I went out of Australia when the trouble arose. I did not remain here. {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr CONSIDINE: -- That did not show the honorable member's good sense {: .speaker-KJM} ##### Mr Jackson: -- It showed a little more than that. {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr CONSIDINE: -- I do not know that it did. In any case, I do. not know that you are a shining example of good sense, or common judgment either. Tho CHAIRMAN.- The honorable member must address the Chair. {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr CONSIDINE: -- I am quite willing to give the honorable member my opinion, and it does not worry me in the slightest when he tells me that I remained at home during the war. {: .speaker-KJM} ##### Mr Jackson: -- I did not say that; nor did 1 infer it. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- I ask honorable members not to interject. Their doing so only leads to disorder. {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr CONSIDINE: -- I have noticed, in the little time that I have been in this House, that when I have endeavoured to point out the error of their ways several honorable members become restive. I was endeavouring to point out to the honorable member for Darwin the foolishness of his argument of filling up the empty spaces of the north by attempting to buttress the position of the Government in their endeavour to increase tho duties on behalf of the sugar monopoly. {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- No. I said I would not support the Government's proposal, but would support the recommendation of the Tariff Board. ' {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr CONSIDINE: -Of course. The honorable member will not do exactly what the Government wants, but he will support certain duties as recommended by the Tariff Board. {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- Hear, hear! {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr CONSIDINE: -- Quite so. It is only a question of degree. The principle is the same. The honorable member will vote for increased duties, which, as I say, are sought to be imposed in order to buttress the sugar monopoly. I shall never give a vote in this House to buttress any monopoly ot protect any people who utilize this position for the purpose of exporting a commodity to other lands. The argument the exporters use is that, unless they are given these duties, their commodities cannot possibly compete with the products of other countries, and, ' therefore, the workers here must receive less in the form of wages, so that production may be carried on for the purpose of exporting goods which may compete with commodities produced in other lands. .The same argument is put to workers in those other lands. The workers in America, France, and Cuba, in the East Indies, and in the beet-sugar producing countries are told that they must receive less in wages in order that their kind employers may continue to keep them producing profits. They are told that this cannot be done unless the wages they receive are less than those earned by the workers in Australia and other countries. Therefore, I say, from the point of view of the work-, ing classes in all countries, there is no benefit to be derived from Tariff concessions to various corporations. What de people- mean when they talk #bout. these great industries being so beneficial to Australia? They mean themselves. They and their fellow-dividend mongers do not mean the working men and working women. For what is industry carried on?- {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- To give us food. {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr CONSIDINE: -- I do not think so. Industry is carried on for profit. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- Does the honorable member think that industry should not be carried on for profit? {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr CONSIDINE: -- As I have said on many a public platform, a man must either be an exploiter or one of the exploited. I do. not like being' exploited. If the working men and working women of this country like being exploited, I do not. I do not propose to allow any one to exploit me if I can help it, and I tell the working men and' working women of this country that the sooner they come to the same conclusion and get rid of their exploiters, the better it will be for Australia. I was. saying that industry is carried, on for profit. . The so-called captains of industry who control industry in this country actually control the machinery of government. Instead of our having Government control in the sugar industry, what we have had is Colonial Sugar Refining Company control of the Government. It is not Government control of industry we have; »t is the company control of Government. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The Colonial Sugar Refining Company has never made requests for duties. {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr CONSIDINE: -- .They may nol have made requests for duties, but during the censure debate on the sugar question correspondence was produced by Ministers to show that they did nothing in the matter of purchasing sugar, and took no steps what ever in regard to sugar until they had first consulted the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- It was very fortunate for the people of Australia that the Government had some one that could supply the information. {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr CONSIDINE: -- But you cannothave things both ways. My point is that it was not Government control of sugar, but was sugar control of Government. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- The honorable member must discuss the matter before the Chair. {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr CONSIDINE: -- I,' am discussing it. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- With the object of facilitating discussion I have' allowed a considerable amount of latitude to all honorable members, and I have already given the honorable member for Barrier a great .deal of latitude, but the discussion must be reasonably pertinent to the resolution before the Chair. A general dissertation upon political economics is altogether out of order. I therefore ask the honorable member to be' reasonable, and confine his remarks to the resolution. {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr CONSIDINE: -- I can quite understand, although I might not agree with the ruling; that working-class economics are considered out of order in a capitalist Parliament. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order! The honorable- member is trying, quite improperly, to twist my remarks. {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr CONSIDINE: -- I was endeavouring to point, out that when honorable members are discussing the de-control of the sugar industry - for I understand that the proposal of the Government is that when this duty becomes operative control will cease - -, - {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- The only question before the Chair is the proposal to impose certain duties. {: .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr CONSIDINE: -- And are we not to be allowed to draw any conclusions from the proposal of the Government, or discuss its probable consequences if it is agreed to? As these duties will not be operative during the period of control it is a reasonable deduction that after they are imposed the control will be withdrawn. Therefore, I am in order in analyzing the kind of control exercised bv the Government . during the currency of the existing Agreement. Other members have been discussing the merits or the demerits of the proposed duty as an alternative to the renewal of the Agreement. And I contend that I am quite in order in debating the matter from a different viewpoint, and pointing out- to the people that it is of no importance to the great mass of working men and women whether the Agreement be renewed or a higher duty be imposed in lieu of the Agreement. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- The honorable member's time has expired. {: #subdebate-17-0-s29 .speaker-JMG} ##### Mr ATKINSON:
Wilmot .- The introduction of these proposed duties at such a late hour in the session has led to the expression of a great deal of dissatisfaction. I agree that it is unfortunate that so important a question, which has so many different phases, was not brought before Parliament six or eight weeks ago, so that it could receive adequate^ treatment. However, I understand that if some guarantee is not given to the growers in Queensland they will cease planting, and a great deal' of unemployment will ensue. I do not wish that to happen, but why the need for this guarantee was not discovered before the eleventh hour I do not understand. Taking the situation as I find it, I have to decide whether or not I can support the imposition of a heavier duty. I am not in favour of Government control, and, therefore, I shall vote against the proposal of the honorable members opposite. I believe that the Government should, as far as possible, get out of all forms of trading, leaving them to private enterprise. At the same time, I am not averse from assisting with public funds, if necessary, sugar-growing, or any other great primary industry which means a great deal to Australia, in order to tide it over a difficult time. I do not "mind giving such an industry substantial financial, assistance, because it is to the advantage of Australia to keep it going, and, for that reason, those engaged in it have a claim upon the whole community. In regard to the proposed duty, I have heard nothing which would lead me to believe that the conclusion arrived at bv the Tariff Board is wrong. The recommendation of the Board is that a duty of Id. per lb. be imposed, and they state that in assessing the duty they- have taken into consideration the facts that the Navigation Act will add to the expense of placing the local product on the market, and also that during the war industrial conditions changed, and that we are not likely to re turn to pre-war conditions. If the Board were of opinion, after taking all these matters into account, that a duty of Id. per lb. is sufficient, we should be content to follow their advice. The sugar industry is, of course, the main factor in settling northern Australia with white people, and in order . to preserve a White Australia the public are prepared to make a big sacrifice. But the important fruit and jam-making industries must also be considered. They employ, in the aggregate, many more people than ate engaged in the sugar industry, and we should seek a policy -which, while allowing 'the sugar production to be carried on properly, will not unduly penalize other industries. In all the circumstances, the recommendation of the Tariff Board seems fair. It is easier to increase duties than it is to reduce them. The proposed duty will not come into effective operation until the 30th June next, and if, in the interim, information comes to the Tariff Board that the flat rate of Id. per lb. is not sufficient protection for the sugar industry, they may report again upon the subject, and the new Parliament can deal with the matter and give the industry such further assistance as it thinks proper. I have always taken a fairly generous view of the sugar industry. It has been my endeavour to treat it in a broad and Federal spirit, just as I expect other matters to be dealt- with by this Parliament, which I regard as a Court, of equity -and good conscience to whichall parts of the Commonwealth may appeal with confidence. I have taken into account the fact that the White Australia policy is dependent upon the peopling of the north. If the sugar industry languishes it is unlikely that any other great industry will tate its place, in the coastal areas, at any rate. If dairying, forinstance, were likely to fill the gap, onecould view this matter with more equanimity, because dairying would mean the employment of more people than are engaged in the- sugar industry. But I understand that a lot of the land in the north is not fit for dairying purposes-, because of the climate and the cattle tick. {: .speaker-K4M} ##### Mr ROBERT COOK:
INDI, VICTORIA · VFU; CP from 1920 -- That is not so. {: .speaker-JMG} ##### Mr ATKINSON: -- It is different fromland in northern New South Wales, where dairying has replaced sugargrowing, to some extent with success. The- sugar question affects the whole Commonwealth in so many ways that it is only right that honorable members should say plainly what they think should be done to maintain the industry. As a first step the imposition of a duty of Id. per lb. will, I believe, be sufficient. There is a lot to be said in favour of the scheme outlined by the Leader qf the Country party **(Dr. Earle Page).** Perhaps if a tribunal comprising representatives of the employers, millers, and workers were established, and legal authority were given to it so that it could fix the price of sugar and the amounts to be paid to the various interests, some good would result. There would then be no need to resort to Government control. {: .speaker-K6S} ##### Mr Corser: -- The Leader of the Country party suggested that the consumers also should be represented. {: .speaker-JMG} ##### Mr ATKINSON: -- I have always advocated the representation of the general public. When the Industrial Peace Bill was before the House I suggested that the Industrial Board should include a ' representative of the public, because I hold that those who suffer most from - a strike are not those directly engaged in it, but the general public, who, as a third party, are quite unable to protect themselves. If it be practicable for the consumers to be represented on these Boards, good will result. That scheme would overcome the difficulty in connexion with the manufacture of canned fruits for local consumption. If a pooling system were arranged by the growers and other people interested, sugar could be sold to the manufacturer at a cheaper rate than to the general public. The total consumption of sugar per annum is about 2S0,000 tons, of which 40,000 tons 'are; used for the manufacture of jams and preserves. If this quantity were sold to the manufacturers on somewhat better terms than to the general consumer, the probability is that they could produce "jams at a price at which people could afford to buy them. The great .trouble is that at the present price of sugar the manufacturers of .jam and other products for consumption within our borders cannot produce at a price which the people as a whole can afford. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- Do you mean that this whole 40,000 tons goes into jam, or that it is used generally in various forms of manufacture? {: .speaker-JMG} ##### Mr ATKINSON: -- I mean that the 40,000 tons is that proportion of the sugar used in manufacture. The suggestion I have made would, I think, get over a great d ifffculty -that confronts us. In the case of manufacturing for export, there is no ground for complaint, because then the sugar can be procured at the world's parity, and if Australia is unable to meet the demand, importation is permitted. I look on the proposal of the Government as merely a stop-gap - as some guarantee to the growers that they may go on with their business. I am glad to see that under the Agreement, to which I was a party, and which was inevitable - but which I am glad to see terminated - the area under sugar has increased. I hope it will go on increasing to such an extent that Australia will produce, not only the sugar required within our own' borders, but enough for export. {: #subdebate-17-0-s30 .speaker-KIT} ##### Mr MACKAY:
Lilley .- I am afraid that recent happenings in this House and outside have tended considerably to prejudice the interests of the sugar-growers in Queensland and northern New South Wales. Many of the speeches delivered during this long debate show that there are quite a number of what have been termed " geographical Protectionists " in this Parliament. I was rather surprised to hear the honorable member for Fawkner **(Mr. Maxwell)** say that he has not sufficient information to enable him to arrive at a decision on the question before us. I cannot .imagine that any honorable member has any excuse for not knowing all that it is necessary to know in connexion with the motion before us. We have listened on numerous occasions during "the last few months to Jong speeches dealing with every phase of the sugar industry. We have what is known in Queensland' as the Sugar Producers' Association, which for some time past has been publishing - at advertising rates, I may say - special articles in the important daily papers of' the southern States. {: .speaker-KLL} ##### Mr Makin: -- The funds of the Association are subsidized by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. {: .speaker-KIT} ##### Mr MACKAY: -- The object of these special articles is to dissipate the prejudice which exists in the southern States against the northern sugar industry; and I tell the honorable member for Hindmarsh **(Mr. Makin)** that he does not know what he is talking about when he makes such a foolish suggestion. {: .speaker-KLL} ##### Mr Makin: -- It was the finding of the Royal Commission of 1920. {: .speaker-KIT} ##### Mr MACKAY: -- The association to which I have referred is composed of sugar-growers who collect funds among themselves in order to make some attempt to inform the people in the south of the real facts of the case. It is known that for some time past there has been a " dead set " in the southern States against the northern sugar industry, and the Cane-growers Association has found it necessary, as I say, to collect money and spend it in educating the public. I may add that there have also appeared illustrated articles in weekly journals, picturing the industry from the felling of the scrub to the cutting of the cane. Furthermore, the association has published three very interesting booklets, which, I believe, have been seen "by honorable members. The first is entitled, *The Case for the Australian Cane Sugar Industry,* and it contains chapters dealing with. "A Great National Industry," "Australia's Wealth in Sugar," "An Ill-protected Industry," "A National Debt," " Advancing Australia's Manufactures," and " Do Australians know the Truth? " {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGrath: -- That is a very expensive publication, and shows that plenty of money is available. {: .speaker-KIT} ##### Mr MACKAY: -- I suppose the honorable member would have sneered if the booklet had been got up in a cheap sort of way. {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGrath: -- No; but that publication does not look as if those interested in producing it were poor people. {: .speaker-KIT} ##### Mr MACKAY: -- The second booklet is entitled. *White Australia's Great Sugar Industry only can keep Tropical Australia White,* and the chapters of this deal with *' Conquering the North," " A Great Decentralizing Industry," " Sugar Balance-sheet," '.' What the Sugar Industry Saved Australia," " Sugargrowing and Fruit-growing," and " An Illprotected Industry." In the third booklet, *Queensland Sugar Producers have hean Maligned,* the chapters deal with " Australian Rural Industries,," " Guards ing a White Australia," " The Truth about Sugar," " National Wealth in Sugar," " The Sugar Balance-sheet," and " Sugar Control and the Growers." {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGrath: -- Who paid for that publication ? {: .speaker-KIT} ##### Mr MACKAY: -- The Sugar Producers Association. {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGrath: -- Subsidized by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. {: .speaker-KIT} ##### Mr MACKAY: -- That is pure assumption on the honorable member's part; he must know that he has no grounds for a statement of the kind. I draw attention to the fact that, at least, two Royal Commissions have exhaustively inquired concerning the sugar industry, and the reports of those Commissions are available to honorable members. I regret that some honorable members, including the honorable member for Fawkner, have not taken advantage of the valuable information contained in these publications {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- I have read the reports carefully and critically. {: .speaker-KIT} ##### Mr MACKAY: -- I have too high an opinion of the honorable member's ability to think for one moment that" he has failed to learn something about the great sugar industry if ' he has perused these papers. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- I have learned a great deal, and from what I have learned I formed the opinion that I expressed to-day. {: .speaker-KIT} ##### Mr MACKAY: -- Personally, I favour a renewal of the Agreement, because I think that is the only way in which the interests of the growers can' be adequately protected . But what chance is there at the present time of getting this Parliament to approve of any agreement, in view of all the propaganda that has taken place, and the consequent prejudice against the sugar industry? I feel that honorable members would not for a moment think of renewing the Agreement at this stage. Then, there is what is known as the Housewives Association, consisting of very estimable ladies, no doubt, who think they are performing a real service to the community. It is a great pity, however, that those ladies are not in a position to realize the discomforts that are suffered by the wives of the cane-growers in the tropical north - or to realize the heroic struggles which are made by the husbands in the efforts to carve out homes in that part of Australia. In view of this hostile propaganda, it can easily be seen that there is not the slightest hope of carrying an' Agreement here that would deal, adequately with the industry. Under the circumstances it is only right and proper that this Parliament should act generously, and I contend that there has been ample information provided, on which an opinion can be formed. It has been said that the question should have been brought forward when we dealt with the Tariff in 1920; but had that been done honorable members would certainly have asked why it was desired to take any steps, in view of the fact that the Agreement had then two years to run. If anything had been said at the present time in reference to the Agreement, honorable members would have claimed that it was time enough to deal with the matter when the present Agreement had expired. The whole position, however, has been discussed very fully, and good reasons have been given why a duty is necessary. It has been explained over and over again that the sugar industry requires an assurance for the future - that something should bo done before this Parliament expires. This is the planting season for a crop to be harvested some twelve months hence, and a settlement is in the interests of the cane farmers and of the employees. I must say that I am surprised that honorable members opposite should oppose this motion in view of the fact that the workers are so deeply interested. If the planting is not done now, employment will be lost to thousands of men who, year after year., go from the southern States for the harvest in' Queensland. These men will all be thrown on the labour market in the south, and it is easy to realize the importance of prompt action now. The only way to deal with the matter -at the present, juncture is to impose a duty.I should like to read the following telegram that I have received : - >Area planted under cane, Maroochy district, has steadily increased during the currency of the Sugar Agreement, and there are ample indications of still greater increase if Agreement renewed. Strongly press for renewal; but in case present Parliament prefers to leave mattors in abeyance till new Parliament meets, we urge the present Parliament increase duty on sugar to *lid.* per lb. > >E. Forth, Chairman, Moreton Central. Sugar Mill Co. Ltd. I am prepared to accept the duty that is proposed by the Government. I should have preferred an Agreement, but under the circumstances a duty is the only security that the industry can obtain for the present {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Why not have an Agreement? {: #subdebate-17-0-s31 .speaker-KIT} ##### Mr MACKAY: -- I have already said that it would be almost impossible to secure a new Agreement nine months before the present Agreement expires. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- Well, what would be the good of a duty if the present Agreement does not expire for nine months? {: .speaker-KIT} ##### Mr MACKAY: -- I have already explained that now is the planting season for the harvest twelve months ahead. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- No one is stopping the* growers from planting. {: .speaker-KIT} ##### Mr MACKAY: -- I should like to know what the honorable member would do if he were a cane-grower in Queensland, and were asked to plant a crop now, without any assurance as to what would happen in twelve months' time. {: .speaker-KLL} ##### Mr Makin: -- We would expect the Government to give an Agreement to protect the growers. {: .speaker-KIT} ##### Mr MACKAY: -- The honorable member is an exceptional individual, and' his expectations are different from those of most reasonable men. This industry has attracted large numbers of people to North Queensland, where the conditions are similar to those of the Northern Territory, and I have an idea that the Government would be willing to spend large sums of money if they could successfully settle the Territory. We have a large number of contented settlers in the north of Queensland, where conditions are far different from those existing in the southern States, and we should make every effort to keep those people there. Residents of southern Australia " are faced with the duty of doing their best to induce those on the land in the far north to remain and carry on the sugar industry. The statement is made from time to time that the workers are paid extraordinarily high wages. Considering the seasonal nature of their occupation and the climatic handicap under which they must work, I can say, with confidence, that the wage rates awarded by the Court are not excessive. Queensland can grow all the cane required for the sugar supply of the Austrailan people. We must not underestimate the importance of settling our far-northern areas. In this connexion, I desire to quote from the report of the Royal Commission which dealt with the sugar industry - >Whilst, for the purposes of successful organization and economic production, the disadvantages . . . are obvious, the sugar industry has nevertheless been of great value in settling a population in many portions of our tropical and sub-tropical lands which otherwise must have remained unoccupied. In the moist coastal regions of the tropics no other industry is yet in sight which promises profitable employment on any appreciable scale or permanence to white labour > >Apart from its directly economic value,, this industry is exercising an important influence in acclimatizing a burge number of white people to tropical conditions of life, and in that respect is rendering valuable service towards future development. I earnestly impress upon honorable members the importance of doing something definite for the industry. The practical proposition before the Committee does not err on the side of generosity. It is unfortunate that more members have not availed themselves of their opportunities to tour Northern Queensland, so becoming personally acquainted with the merits of the sugar industry. Written and spoken words cannot convey the sameimpression as a personal inspection, but I- beg honorable members to accept the assurance of men who know what they are talking about, .and who have conscientiously asked for the increased duty, which will give some security for the future. I trust that no attempt will be made to reduce the rates, as contained in the resolution before the Committee. {: #subdebate-17-0-s32 .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr MCGRATH:
Ballarat .- After a year or eighteen months of delay, the Government have, apparently, come to a definite conclusion. They are not quite sure of themselves even yet, however. The Minister for Trade and Customs **(Mr. Rodgers)** would not make a definite declaration, last night, either that there would or would not be a renewal of the Sugar Agreement. After further twisting and hesitation, it would appear, however, that the Government have finally decided to substitute these increased duties for the Agreement. 1 recognise that the honorable member for Lilley **(Mr. Mackay)** knows something of the local conditions of the cane-growers. I have the greatest sympathy with the growers, but I cannot forget what has happened in Queensland, in respect of both bananas and sugar. When land was cheap, one could make a good living out of bananas on the basis of a selling price ranging from 5s. to 10s. per case; and one could get along comfortably when growing sugar-cane for a considerably lower return than is being received to-day. But, as the price of the product has increased, so have land values leaped upward ; and so extensive is the increase to-day that banana and sugar-cane growers can continue to exist only by the assistance of higher duties. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr Fleming: -- But what about new land ? {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH: -- Its price has. increased proportionately. {: .speaker-KFP} ##### Mr Richard Foster: -- That is not bo. {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH: -- The Minister for Works and Railways has not been further north than Canberra. I know that land values have increased; and, when that kind of thing happens, the producer must get a higher return for his output. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr Fleming: -- The virgin forest land has not increased in value. {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH: -- If land in use for the cultivation of cane is enhanced in value, it cannot be argued that uncultivated land suited to the' same purpose has not also proportionately increased in value. I can quite understand that those who have to buy land at higher prices today must have a struggle to exist. But those who hold land - who ' have not parted with it since it has been put under cultivation - must be making fortunes. These latter are the people who have joined with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company in producing publications of the type from which the honorable member for Lilley has quoted. I represent a purely industrial constituency, a Protectionist constituency, one which stands for the White Australia policy. My constituency wants to see a fair thing done by the people in the north of Queensland. I am prepared to vote for the imposition of taxation upon my constituents in order that those who are developing the northern lands of Australia may receive assistance. The proposals of the Government, however, will not assist or encourage North Queensland producers. No matter what the honorable member for Lilley may say, this resolution is framed to assist the Colonial Sugar Refining Company - the people who contributed many thousand pounds of the Prime Minister's £25,000 gift. These people, upon the eve of an election, are hesitating to put more money into the campaign funds of the Nationalist party; and the Prime Minister also has been hesitating concerning what he should do. The Prime Minister toured Northern Queensland and made all kinds of promises. I regarded with pity the trials and troubles of the honorable member for Capricornia **(Mr. Higgs),** in his endeavours to get the Prime Minister to commit himself definitely to the renewal of the Agreement. The honorable member has spoken scarcely a word in this chamber, during the last two months, on any subject other than that of sugar. He has been anxiously waiting to learn what the Prime Minister would do. He has been saying to himself, " I have ' ratted ' on my old comrades of the Labour party; I have joined forces with the Prime Minister. I have gone hand-in-glove with the wealthy cane-growers and the Colonial Sugar Refining Company ; and now what is the Prime Minister going to do for these people?" Only in the dying hours of the Parliament has the Prime Minister made a move. Even that, however, is camouflaged. The right honorable gentleman has not promised that he will assist the growers. , He has undertaken to impose increased rates of duty upon imported sugars. I know that the honorable member for Capricornia is very clever. I can recall his " bread or blood " days. He was quite capable, at that time, of convincing his electors that he was a revolutionary Socialist. Now he is cleverly casting about for arguments, to placate, not the workers on the cane-fields, but the satellites of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. The Opposition is quite prepared to assist in doing a fair thing for the cane-growers. But we know, through our representatives who have been in the sugar-cane country, that it is not so much a duty on imported sugar that the growers desire, as protection against the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. I shall support the amendment. The Government should wait for the report of the Accounts Committee; there is no cause for hurry. If the duties are increased, the Government will be protecting the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and, at the same time, possibly injuring quite a number of Victorian industries. Citrus fruit-growers in this State are in a serious plight. {: .speaker-KIT} ##### Mr Mackay: -- We have a fruitgrowing industry in Queensland.. {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH: -- And you have taken the fullest possible advantage of the Protectionist Tariff. We, in the southern States, cannot buy a caseof bananas for less than 30s. to-day. Queensland has been spoon-fed, and one outcome of that fact has been to cut off a lot of Victorian trade in connexion with the importation of bananas. Local citrus fruit-growers, who are largely dependent on cheap sugar, are in a parlous position. This year they exported some thousands of cases of oranges. They received from 24s. to 30s. per case for them, but the cost of transporting this fruit to the Old World markets ranged between 18s. to 20s. They actually found themselves in debt as an outcome of their enterprise. Navel oranges can be bought locally for from 6s. to 7s. per case. If the citrus fruit-growers could convert their oranges into marmalade for export it would be the salvation of their industry. Unfortunately they have to pay a big price for their sugar. {: .speaker-K6S} ##### Mr Corser: -- Not when it is used in the manufacture of jam for export. {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH: -- Under the Agreement a rebate is granted on sugar used in the manufacture of jam and other commodities for export, but we do not know what may happen if these duties are imposed. {: .speaker-K6S} ##### Mr Corser: -- The Minister for Trade and Customs **(Mr. Rodgers)** explained the position yesterday. {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH: -- As a supporter of the Government the honorable member may know what the rebate is to be, but we do not. The position of the citrus fruit-growers is most serious. After paying1s. 6d. each for cases and deducting commission and freight charges, they are not getting more than 2s. per case for their naveloranges. Many of those who were in the industry a few years ago made fortunes, but we have recently induced many returned soldiers to enter the citrus fruit industry, and some consideration must be extended to them. If the present growers are to receive only 2s. per case for their navel oranges, and £8 per ton for lemons, many of them will soon be in the Insolvency Court. Their only hope is that sugar will be cheap enough to enable them to convert their fruit into jam and to sell it in the world's markets. Under an Agreement we can insist upon fair conditions for the cane-growers as well as for the employees in the sugar industry and the consumers, but if they are to have no other protection than these duties will afford, they will absolutely be in the hands of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. {: .speaker-KZC} ##### Mr Hector Lamond: -- Will the honorable member say- {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH: -- It is useless to discuss this matter with the honorable member, who has so often changed his opinions. He was first of all a Liberal; but finding that he could not get into Parliament as a Liberal, he became a Labour man. Having been returned to this Parliament as a member of the Labour party, he twisted once more and again became a Liberal. {: .speaker-KZC} ##### Mr Hector Lamond: -- That is just about as true as are most, if not all, of the honorable member's statements. {: #subdebate-17-0-s33 .speaker-KX9} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Watkins:
NEWCASTLE, NEW SOUTH WALES -- Order! These personal recriminations must cease. {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH: -- We stand absolutely {: .speaker-KZC} ##### Mr Hector Lamond: -- For cheap black labour. {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH: -- The honorable member stood for the conscription of the youth of Australia. That is why he " ratted " on Labour. {: .speaker-KZC} ##### Mr Hector Lamond: -- We tried to help the Empire. {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH: -- The honorable member did not do much for it. I, at all events, have a returned soldier's badge - something that he cannot show. {: .speaker-KZC} ##### Mr Hector Lamond: -- And perhaps something behind it. {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH: -- The honorable member was prepared to conscript the youth of the country, but, although he is about my own age, he took all sorts of care not to conscript himself. The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! Will the honorable member address himself to the question before the Chair ? {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH: -- Yes; but I ask that the Honorary Minister **(Mr. Hector Lamond)** shall not be allowed to interrupt me. We cannot stand " rats." {: .speaker-KZC} ##### Mr Hector Lamond: -- I ask that that insinuation, even from the mouth of the honorable member, be withdrawn. The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member must withdraw the remark. {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH: -- I withdraw it. I am sorry that I should have used such an expression, but when I see the Honorary Minister I am reminded of the following lines by the late Henry Lawson: - >I don't care if the cause be wrong, > >Or if the cause be right, > >I've hadmy day, and sung my song, > >And fought in the bitter fight. > >In truth, at times I cannot tell > >What the men are driving at; > >But I've been Labour thirty years, > >And I'm too old to rat. {: #subdebate-17-0-s34 .speaker-10000} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH: -- The Labour party has no desire to injure the sugar-growers of Queensland. The object of our amendment is to enable them to get a fair deal. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company, during the currency of the present Agreement, has doubled its profits, and under this duty it will have completely under its control every sugar-cane grower and every employee in the industry. We are not prepared to protect that company. What we desire is an agreement that will give the cane-grower, the worker, and the consumer of sugar a fair deal and protection from the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. {: #subdebate-17-0-s35 .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING:
Robertson -- I do not intend at this stage to discuss the merits or demerits of the proposition submitted by the Government for the imposition of increased duties. I merely desire to say that the matter of the price at which sugar can be produced and sold in Australia was referred by the House to the Public Accounts Committee. It may be that when the question was relegated to the Committee the Government was of opinion that it would be impossible for it to present a report before the Parliament went into recess. As the result, however, of very close attention to its work, the Committee is n earing a time when it can present its report. Of that the Government must be aware. The price at which sugar can be sold under the Agreement was one of the questions referred to the Public Accounts Committee, and the price at which it can be sold, either with or without an agreement, inevitably involves the price at which it can be produced. I see noreason why this motion should be pressed to a division before the Committee presents its report. In the circumstances, without debating the question and without discussing the benefits which have arisen, or may arise, from a continuation of the Agreement or the imposition of an increased duty, I intend to vote for the amendment. {: #subdebate-17-0-s36 .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr BAMFORD:
Herbert .- As the representative of a very large area of sugar-cane country, I feel constrained to address myself to this question. I favour a continuation of the Agreement rather than the imposition of an increased duty, for the reason that I fear that there will be a feeling of uncertainty in the minds of the growers as to what may happen in regard to the Tariff. We have in Victoria what is known as the Taxpayers Association, and also a very important body known as the Housewives Association. As the result of representations made by such organizations, the Tariff Board might review the sugar duties, and we have no guarantee that they might not at any time recommend a reduction of them. Such a possibility will engender a feeling of uncertainty in the minds of the growers which must militate against the success of the industry. Ths proposed duty of £9 6s. 8d., in my view, is wholly inadequate. This opinion is held also by the honorable member for Cowper **(Dr. Earle Page).** This duty certainly will not induce growers to increase their areas under cultivation. I wish, however, to refer particularly to a few remarks that were made by the honorable member for Fawkner **(Mr. Maxwell).** I was more than astonished at the expressions which fell from his lips. The honorable member, who is regarded as the very acme of a Victorian Protectionist, seems to have overlooked the fact that during the war Queensland not merely * supplied the people of Australia with cheap sugar for domestic use, but produced sugar in' sufficient quantities to save the jam-making and allied industries of this State, and enabled them to make enormous profits. There is hardly an article produced in Victoria - from the most expensive machine down to the simple pot-herb - that is not highly pro,tected. I would remind the honorable member that most of what we consume in North Queensland comes from Victoria. At one time we even obtained our butter from this State, 'but I am pleased to say that we have now our own butter factories. We are still drawing our supplies of potatoes, onions, and flour - all highly* protected commodities - from Victoria; We are one of Victoria's best customers; yet the honorable member, as a representative of this State, says that- sugar should be sold in Australia at world's parity. If the goods produced here were sold at world's parity, what would become of this State ? There is in Victoria a factory that makes horse-shoe nails which is protected by a duty of £12 per ton and distributes these nails practically all over Australia. What would the honorable member say if we made horse-shoe nails free ? Many of the goods consumed in Queens* Land come from Victoria, and yet the honorable member claims that our one solitary product on which we ask for a duty should come into Australia at the world's parity. It is 'a monstrous claim for a professed Protectionist tb make. The honorable member for Hindmarsh **(Mr. Makin)** Says that the literature issued by the Australian Sugar Producers Association has been paid for by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. As a matter of fact, each member of the Australian Sugar Producers Association contributes so much per ton on his cane to the association's funds, out of which the cost of this printing has been paid, and it is unfair for an honorable member to make a statement which he cannot substantiate by any evidence. No one in this House has said harder things against the Colonial Sugar Refining Company than I have, but even the devil is not really as black as he is painted. To illustrate the feelings of some canegrowers, may I give a little experience of my own. On one occasion, when I was on a visit to North Queensland, I occupied a room in an hotel next to one occupied by a lady and two children. I overheard the children saying their prayers before they went to bed, and this was the? burden of the prayer they said. " God bless father and mother ; God bless uncle John ; God bless aunt Martha; God bless my little brothers and sisters and all my uncles and aunts and cousins ; and God bless the Colonial Sugar Refining Company."' When three or four years ago, a severe cyclone did a considerable amount ;of damage to the growing cane, and to the stocks of sugar acquired by the Commonwealth from the Queensland Government,. **Senator Crawford** and I visited the de- vastated districts in order to estimate the amount of damage done. We found that in theInnisfail District, where the Queensland Government and the Colonial Sugar Refining Company have mills, the State Government had refused to assist the cane-growers, many of whom were on the verge of ruin, whereas the Colonial Sugar Refining Company had financed each of its growers to the extent of £300. There was a time when the people of Australia were getting sugar at : 2s. 9d. for 12 lbs. when the Colonial Sugar RefiningCompany had absolute control, so that the company cannot be that cruel monopoly which some honorable members will have us believe it is. Its employees in Sydney do not complain, because they are well treated. Some honorable member has suggested that the land which is now used for growing cane could be put under grass for dairying purposes. On the elevated tableland, in the. interior, dairying operations have proved successful, and there are several butter factories there which are producing butter of very high grade, but that class of country is 2,000 feet above sealevel. Dairying has been attempted in the coastal areas and has not proved successful. {: .speaker-KLL} ##### Mr Makin: -- The honorable member has misunderstood my remarks; I said that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company contributed to the funds of the Australian Sugar Producers Association, as I can show the honorable member from the report of the Royal Commission on sugar. {: .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr BAMFORD: -- I can assure the honorable member that the Sugar Producers Association is quite independent of any assistance from the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. But ashe has asked me to peruse the report of the Royal Commission, I shall take the time to do so. I find that the Commission says - >The Australian Sugar Producers Association includes practically all the Queensland raw sugar mill's, except those directed and taken over by the Government. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company occupies a somewhat anomalous position with regard to the association. The company contributes to the funds of the association a sum equal to the contributions by grower members who supply cane to the company. Eachmilling company which is a member of the association is entitled to have a representative upon the council of the associa tion in respectof each mill, but the Colonial Sugar Refining Company does not avail itself of this privilege, nor take any part whatever in the management of the association. The fruit industry is on quite a different basis from that on which the sugar industry is carried on.Fruit is mostly grown where the climatic conditions are good, and where those who are engaged in the orchards can undertake their tasks much more comfortably than can those who are obliged to work in the torrid and humid climate prevailing in North Queensland from a little after June till December, that is during the cutting season. The conditions under which sugar is grown are indeed severe compared with those under which orchard hands work in Victoria, Tasmania, or even New South Wales. Besides they do not get regular employment. Their period of work does not usually extend for more than five months. Many of the sugar workers come from the southern States. During strikes we used to have " white wings" from Tasmania, who came north to act as strike breakers, and took away with them a good cheque, which helped to keep their own little State in a condition of solvency. The honorable member for Barrier has said a great deal about the disadvantages suffered by workers. Years ago I repeatedly urged the waterside workers, with whom I was associated at 'the time, not to waste their money on strikes, and to pay into a common fund all they were likely to lose by striking. I told them that if they added this money to their regular contributions, very soon they and the seamen, if the latter would do the same, would own their own fleets. If the coal- miners had been wisely led and advised, instead of frittering away their money on strikesand always complaining about being wage slaves under the heels of the capitalist, they would have been in a position, long before this, to own the whole of the coal mines in the Hunter Valley. I have figures with mo showing the quantities of jams, jellies, condensed milk, and so on, exported from Victoria, none of which could have been produced or exported had it not been for the Queensland sugar coming down here at a time when not 1 lb. of sugar could be obtained from any other part of the world; but as these have already been quoted more than once, I shall not inflict them upon the Committee again. {: .speaker-KLL} ##### Mr Makin: -- I rise to make a personal explanation. The honorable member for Herbert accused me of having incorrectly stated that the funds of the Australian Sugar Producers Association were supplemented by contributions from the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. I handed to the honorable member a copy of the report of the Royal Commission on Sugar presented in 1920 - - {: .speaker-JNV} ##### Mr Bamford: -- The company did at one time contribute to .the funds of the association. {: .speaker-KLL} ##### Mr Makin: -- My statement -was based upon that report, which is the latest information regarding the sugar industry that is available to honorable members, and I handed it to the honorable member for Herbert in the hope that he would do justice to himself and to me by acknowledging that my statement was true and that I had no intention of misleading the Committee. At page 44 of the Royal Commission's report these words appear - The company contributes to the funds of the . association a sum equal to the contributions by grower-members who supply cane to the company. I place that extract on record as proof that my statement was justified. {: #subdebate-17-0-s37 .speaker-JUB} ##### Mr CAMERON:
Brisbane .- 1 had not intended to speak on this question, being prepared to leave the matter in the * hands of my colleagues who directly represent the sugar-growers, and who have very ably watched the welfare of the industry in the past. But I am impelled to rise by some remarks made by the honorable member for Fawkner **(Mr. Maxwell).** I always listen with particular attention to the utterances of the honorable member, and this afternoon) he stated in the course of his speech that he was anxious to afford adequate protection to the sugar industry, but he added that the manufacturers of canned fruits and jams for home consumption and export should be able to secure sugar at the world's parity. I could not understand his attitude, but I have since learned from the honorable member in conversation that he was not wedded to that opinion, and I- was glad to hear that admission, because the honorable member's policy as enunciated by him this afternoon savoured of " Protection for what we sell and Free Trade for what we buy." I desire to place before the Committee two telegrams sent to me by the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce. On the 4th August I received this telegram - >Conference twenty-four Chamber of Commerce, two-thirds from outside sugar districts, unanimously resolved - "That in view of the fact that the effect of the current Sugar Agreement has been to substantially assist in stabilizing the industry, and having regard also *to* the very great importance of the industry economically, industrially, and nationally to the Commonwealth as a whole and * to the States of Queensland and New South Wales in particular, this conference strongly urges upon the Commonwealth and State Governments the necessity of renewing the principle of the present Agreement for a period of not less than five years." On the 5th October I received the following urgent telegram from the same body : - ' Special meeting Chamber held this morning passed following resolution: - "That whilst fully adhering to unanimous decision recent conference Queensland Chamber of Commerce urging renewal present Sugar Agreement and without prejudice right to continue press for such renewal this Chamber desires strongly urge Federal Government increase amount import duty on sugar to lid. per lb. before present Parliament closes." I hope that the Committee will agree to the motion. Every honorable member who has spoken has expressed his desire to protect the sugar industry, and it is our duty ais a National Parliament to do all we possibly can to insure that the industry does not languish. {: #subdebate-17-0-s38 .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr RILEY:
South Sydney -- I regard the introduction of this motion as a trick on the part of the Government. They promised to afford the House two or. three days for the discussion of the Budget, but, instead, they have produced at the last moment a most contentious motion, which opens up the whole- question of the maintenance and development of the sugar industry. It is not fair to the Commonwealth that, almost in the last hours of this Parliament, the Government should break the promise solemnly made to the Country party and to the House as a whole that they would allow at least three days for the discussion of the Budget. When' the question now before the Committee is disposed of, there will be no time for the discussion of the Budget and the details of the Estimates. {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- There are weeks ahead of us yet. '' {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr RILEY: -- Yes, if Parliament continues to lit, but the intention of the Government is that Parliament shall conclude its sittings this week. They are breaking faith with honorable members. Only three days ago the Government were caked what business they desired the House to do before adjourning, and the Prime Minister read out a long list of measures, which did not include any reference to sugar. What is the influence that is being brought to bear upon the Government ? There must' be some hidden band that is forcing the Government to break their pledge in regard to the Budget, and disarrange the business of the House in order that the duty upon sugar may be increased. This proposal is a very important one, because sugar is an article of diet in every household, and we are asked to-night to decide whether the people shall be called upon to pay an extra price for that commodity. The Minister for Trade and Customs **(Mr. Rodgers)** was asked whether this duty would increase tha price. He made no answer. He was asked if it would decrease the price of sugar, and still he did not answer. Evidently it is a case of " shut your eyes, open your mouth, and take what the Government give you." {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- It is rather a case of open your eyes and shut your mouths. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr RILEY: -- As representatives of the people we have not to consider the Queensland sugar growers only. I am anxious to see their industry stabilized and prosperous, but I do not trust the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, the past history of which is sufficient to warn us against placing too much power in its hands. The Labour - party favours the making of an Agreement between the Commonwealth and the various sugar interests which would not only secure the industry, but would protect the consumers. I cannot understand why the Government has not introduced a new Agreement instead of an increase of duty. Naturally people want to know what the price of sugar is to be in the . future. Every manufacturer must know what price he will be required to pay for .his raw material. In the absence of full information, the rt 'Committee is asked tonight to terminate the existing Agreement and impose an increased duty, equal to lid. per lb. That is a very big tax upon the people, and I j know of. no other industry that is protected as highly as the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is to be. It is a strong wealthy corporation with' apparently plenty of influence with the Government. I shall vote against the increase of duty proposed by -the Government, because the consumers have as much right to consideration as have the millers ana growers. The Tariff Board has reported against the duty of £14 per ton asked for by those engaged in the industry, and has recommended a duty of £9 6s. 8d. I shall vote for their recommendation, and I think the people will, at the' polls, show their appreciation of honorable members who take that attitude. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The Government have accepted the Board's recommendation, and. applied it to raw sugar. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr RILEY: -- But they propose to impose a duty of £11 6s. 8d. on white sugar. This Parliament is dying, and the question of an increase of duty should be left to be decided by the new . Parliament. The Labour party- will make this matter one of the big issues at the coming election. We shall advocate an Agreement for the protection of consumers and producers alike. It is a shame that almost on the last, day of this Parliament we should be asked to deal with this matter without full discussion. {: .speaker-L1P} ##### Mr Wise: -- How much longer does the honorable member want for the discussion of the matter? {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr RILEY: -- This motion was only introduced last night, and the Committee is expected to come to a decision to-night. The Public Accounts Committee has been sitting night and day in an endeavour to finalize its report upon the sugar industry, and I am informed that the report will be presented- to-morrow. But before it can be made available to honorable members the Government are forcing a division upon this motion. By this action they will gain nothing, for the current Agreement will not terminate until the 30t.h June. It is said that . the Queensland growers must have some assurance, so that they may know what quantity of cane they will be justified in planting. But they will continue planting in any case. ' {: .speaker-K6S} ##### Mr Corser: -- Make no mistake about that ! {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr RILEY: -- I have heard those threats before when we were . considering the Tariff. Whilst I believe in protecting industries, I also believe in safe-guarding the people against exploitation. The Government's action in forcing this motion to a division so hurriedly is indecent. {: #subdebate-17-0-s39 .speaker-JOG} ##### Mr BAYLEY:
Oxley .- I should like' to place my views upon this proposal before the Committee, but, being a member of the Public Accounts Committee, which has been deputed by the House to report upon the price of sugar, I am precluded fromdoing so. Question - That the words proposed to be inserted (Mr. Scullin's amendment) be so inserted - put. The Committee divided. AYES: 19 NOES: 31 Majority . . . . 12 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived. {: #subdebate-17-0-s40 .speaker-KXG} ##### Mr WATT:
Balaclava -- I move- >Thatthe motion be amended by omitting - "(A) Raw." "(B) White, per ton, £11 6s.8d.; £11 6s. 8d.; £11 6s.8d." I submit this amendment, not to obstruct the. business of the Committee or to thwart the wishes of the Government, but in accordance with an intimation I made earlier in the proceedings, and simply to affirm, if the Committee so desires, that the recommendation of the Tariff Board, as they are understood, at least by myself, and, I think, by a large number of other honorable members, shall be adopted fixing the duty at1d. per lb. {: #subdebate-17-0-s41 .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON:
Hunter -- I wish to make quite clear the position of the Opposition in regard to this matter. We believe that the placing of this duty on sugar will not help the sugar-grower or the workers, or cause sugar to be supplied at a reasonable price to the general consumer. The imposition of this duty will take us back to where we were in 1915, when the Sugar Agreement was entered into. The Prime Minister, in Queensland recently; while he did' not actually commit the Government, undoubtedly left the impression that the Government would enter into arrangements for an extension or modification of the Agreement. . The people in Queensland were expecting an Agreement to be entered into; and they will be greatly disappointed when they know that the matter was left in abeyance until the dying hours of the Parliament, when it was impossible to give it proper consideration, and we had not even the report of the Public Accounts Committee beforeus as a guide. We believe that this motion is against the principle of Government control, for which we stand. A duty in any shape or form means decontrol, and. Queensland members will have to answer to their constituents for their action in this Parliament. The motionhas been submitted because whilethe Prime Minister and probably some others who sit behind him believe that the industry should be controlled, there is a majority on theGovernment side who, in consequence of influence brought to bear from other quarters,have decided against it. It has been brought in at the last moment, in order to place the Government in such a position as will appeal to the people in the sugar-growing districts. There is no hope of the control of the industry by the Government, and the imposition of this duty will leave it to the Colonial Sugar Kenning Company to decide the future for the sugargrower, his employees, and the consumers. To that the Labour party is opposed. The true course is for the Government to continue the control of sugar, in the interests of all concerned. {: #subdebate-17-0-s42 .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
Minister for Trade and Customs · WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 .- I should like to say that, in the main, as the motion shows, the Government .accepts .the recommendations of the Tariff Board. Fully 80 per cent, of the sugar imported into the Commonwealth is raw, and, therefore, is a direct competitor with the Australian sugar, and practically .the whole of the remaining 20 per cent, is mill-white sugar. Very little refined sugar is imported, though some .is brought from Mauritius for special purposes. Therefore, the motion does not, as suggested, amount solely to a proposal for the, protection "of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company; it also operates as a protection for the manufacturers of millwhite sugar, which some of the Queens^ land mills are endeavouring to process. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- And which competes with refined sugar. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- To a very limited extent. At the, last meeting of the Sugar Council, at which representatives of all sections of the industry were present, there was a special request made to the Government to use every effort to promote the production of mill-white in Australia. Some of the- Queensland mills are endeavouring to process millwhite, because it- is thought this will promote the interests of the growers. That is the object of the Government, which, perhaps, had some knowledge not in. the possession of the Tariff Board, owing to the fact that the Minister for Trade and Customs was acting as Chairman of the Council when the question was raised. I see that evidence on this matter has been tendered to the PublicAccounts Committee in Queensland, and I desire honorable members to know the facts before they vote. ' {: #subdebate-17-0-s43 .speaker-K1J} ##### Mr PRATTEN:
Parramatta -- The issue is whether we are to give a duty to the sugar industry of £11 6s. 8d. or a duty of £9 6s. 8d. per ton. I have said beforehand I say now, that I consider Id. per lb. a reasonble suggestion under all the circumstances. Such a duty will enable the growers to continue planting cane; and when the question of the sugar industry comes up again in the next Parliament the industry itself will not be prejudiced by the passing of the amendment of the honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. Watt).** {: #subdebate-17-0-s44 .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING:
Robertson -- I enter . a protest against the Government going on with this business to-night. The Government must know that, tomorrow, the Public Accounts Committee will present its report. To try to force this, matter through to-night," therefore, is unfair. The question of the price at which sugar can be sold under the Agreement was specifically referred to the Public Accounts Committee for investigation and report. The price at which sugar can be sold inevitably involves tho cost of production. The action of the Government stultifies the work of the Committee, and makes the whole position extremely ridiculous. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Does the report of the Committee contain .any recommendation in connexion with Customs duties? {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- I am not going to tell the Minister. He .has no right to know what the report contains. But, if he does know, some one has been recreant to Lis trust and guilty of a breach of duty. {: #subdebate-17-0-s45 .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order! The Committee has voted" against an amendment for the postponement of further consideration of the motion until after the report of the Public Accounts Committee has been laid on the table. The honorable member will not be in order at this stage> therefore, in addressinghimself to that matter. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: --Then I shall content myself with protesting against the *Dro.cedure* of the Government. In my opinion, it is dastardly. Question - That the words proposed to bo left out stand part of' the motion- put. The Committee divided. AYES: 24 NOES: 0 Majority . . 6 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment agreed to. Items 29 and 31 consequentially amended. {: #subdebate-17-0-s46 .speaker-KDZ} ##### Mr JOWETT:
Grampians .- I move - _s That the following words be added : - " Nothing in the schedule shall be deemed to prevent sugar from being imported free of duty in bond by bona *fide* manufacturers who require to use sugar for the purpose of manufacturing fruit, vegetables, grain, milk and other food products; such manufactures to be approved of by the Tariff Board. Any such manufactures from imported sugar which are sold for local consumption, to pay duties calculated upon the sugar contents at the prescribed rate of import duty." My purpose in so moving is to enable jam makers and the manufacturers of canned fruits and other tinned products in which sugar is used to-'import their sugar supplies if necessary, and to be allowed to manufacture in bond. With respect to jam and canned goods required for local consumption, I desire that manufacturers shall be permitted to pay duty on the sugar they use when the goods leave the bonded stores for the purpose of being sold to local consumers. {: #subdebate-17-0-s47 .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
Minister for Trade and Customs · WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I desire to show what would be the effect of the amendment as originally circulated by the honorable member for Grampians **(Mr. Jowett)** and as subsequently amended by him. As originally circulated it read - . Nothing -in the schedule shall be deemed to prevent sugar from being imported free of duty in bond by bona *fide* manufacturers who require to use sugar for manufacturing fruit, vegetable, grain, milk, and other food products. Such manufactures to be approved by the Tariff Board. In other words, the honorable member proposed that all these protected industries, which enjoy the local home market, should have sugar, duty free, from outside,, although he voted against" the granting of additional protection to a Queensland, primary industry. He desires that sugar produced abroad by coloured labour shall come into this country duty free to be used in the manufacture of commodities which practically have command of the protected home markets. {: .speaker-KDZ} ##### Mr Jowett: -- I now propose that this provision shall apply only to goods manufactured for export. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 *- The* manufacturers covered by the amendment have always been granted a remission of duty on sugar used by them in the production of goods for export or* have been given sugar at world's parity. There could be no more ungenerous attitude taken up by one section of the primary producers of Australia towards another. This is an endeavour to deprive the sugar producers of Australia of their home market in order to benefit protected secondary industries which already have the home market to themselves. It is most ungenerous, illogical, improper; and unworthy. The honorable member asks that the primary producers of Queensland shall sweat to grow sugar, but shall not be allowed the benefit of their own local market. He asks that sugar the product of coloured labour shall, be admitted into Australia free of duty, in order to provide commodities for a protected home market. The position taken up by -the honorable member cannot be too widely known. If the producers of -Australia will not stand together how can they expect protection? {: #subdebate-17-0-s48 .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH:
Ballarat .- 1. am not at all surprised that the honorable member for Grampians **(Mr. Jowett)** should' have submitted this amendment. He is an advocate of cheap labour. He now proposes that sugar grown by black labour shall be admitted free in order that jam manufacturers may be able to sell their jam at a low price, not in Australia, but to coloured people abroad. I am not surprised at his attitude, knowing as I do that he proposes to stand for the division of Bendigo at the forthcoming election. At the last general election, when the Prime Minister was contesting the seat, there was a shortage of sugar. It was rumoured that sugar was to be iu creased in price, and fruit-growers and jam manufacturer* in the Bendigo electorate could not obtain supplies. The honorable member for Yarra **(Mr. Scullin)** and I, with others, were endeavouring to secure the Prime Minister's defeat. We seemed to have a very good chance of defeating him; but one morning a train load of sugar arrived at Harcourt, which is the centre of the fruit-growing and jam-making industry of the electorate. Knowing how the Prime Minister won the votes of the fruit-growers of Harcourt by sending up at the critical moment a train load of sugar, the honorable member thinks that by submitting an amendment of this kind he, too, will secure their vote at the next general election. He has no chance, however, of competing with the Nationalist party. He will not be able to obtain for the fruit-growers and jam makers of Bendigo sugar at a lower rate than that at which the Nationalist party will be prepared to provide it. He ought to know the Nationalist party well enough not to attempt anything of the kind. T am much opposed to the amendment. **Mr. MCWILLIAMS** (Franklin) fi 1.38]. - I should have supported the amendment had it been submitted in the form in which it was originally circulated by the honorable member for Grampians **(Mr. Jowett),** but the proviso which he has added makes it practically worthless to the fruit-growers and jam manufacturers in the State of which I am a representative. Eighty per cent, of the jams and preserves manufactured in Taw- mania are consumed in Australia, so that the amendment would apply to only 20 per cent, of the entire product of the jammaking industry of that State. I would urge upon the Committee the absolute necessity of doing something for the fruitgrowers. The Minister for Trade and Customs **(Mr. Rodgers)** has said that the honorable member in asking for this assistance for the fruit-growing industry is showing an utter disregard for the welfare of the cane-grower. It has already been pointed out, however, that this amendment would not affect to the extent of one copper the sugar-growers of Queensland. Upwards of 60,000 tons of sugar are annually imported, and not more than two-thirds of that quantity would be required for this purpose. What we ask is, not that the primary producers of Queensland shall not be assisted, but that the Government, shall not impose this tax on an industry which is practically being strangled. Since I spoke earlier in the day I have obtained further information, and I can- assure the Committee that a very considerable proportion of last year's pack is unsold. One pound of sugar is required to every 1 lb. of fruit used in the manufacture of jam, so that the Government proposal means the imposition of a duty of Id. per lb. on the raw material of the jam manufacturer. The statistics show that for the ten years ending 30th June, 1920, there has been an average annual shortage of 60,000 tons in the Australian sugar crop. That shortage has been made good by imports. We are not asking that the sugar-growers of' Queensland shall be deprived of a penny-piece. The Tariff Board are to judge this matter. I have the utmost confidence in the Board, and am prepared to leave it in their hands. Let them say when, in the interests of the fruit-growing and jammanufacturing industries, it is necessary that this action should be taken. I hope that the proviso which the honorable member for Grampians has unwisely added to his amendment will be deleted. The passing of the amendment, in that form, while doing no injury to the Queensland sugar industry, would help a kindred industry which gives employment to a far greater number of men. I am sure that the cane-growers of Queensland would not deprive their brother producers in the south of this concession. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The Government control is carrying over a surplus. This year Australia will produce more sugar than She will, consume. She has overtaken the local consumption. {: #subdebate-17-0-s49 .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr MCWILLIAMS: -- But next year there may be a large shortage, and we may have to import, as we have done before, over 100,000 tons. The fruit industry cannot bear this impost, which amounts to a tax of £40 per acre on the apricotgrowers. If the Government will give Us, free of duty, "the sUgar that we require for the manufacture of jams, we shall not object to their removing the duties on jams. {: .speaker-KJM} ##### Mr Jackson: -- I would not make that suggestion. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr MCWILLIAMS: -- I represent the bulk of the small-fruit industry of Tasmania, and I do not hesitate to say that if the Government will give us, free of duty, the sugar we require for jammaking, they can decrease or remove entirely the duty on jam. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The United States of America is dumping jam everywhere. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr MCWILLIAMS: -- We have an Act that should prevent the dumping of jam in the Commonwealth. The United States of America is able to dump jam because it is buying sugar at about one-third the price which our jam manufacturers have to pay for it when used in the production of goods for home consumption. Australian manufacturers cannot compete under such adverse circumstances. They do not ask for sympathy. They are quite prepared to give the Queensland sugar cane-grower his fair share of protection, but they ask at the same time 'that they shall not be crucified so that the Government may secure additional revenue from these Customs duties. {: #subdebate-17-0-s50 .speaker-KI9} ##### Mr LIVINGSTON:
Barker . -This evening I had the pleasure of visiting the exhibition which has been arranged by the Victorian Education Department in order to mark the jubilee of free education in this State, and I am sure it would be well for honorable members to take the time to-morrow morning to go there and see an exhibit of sugar beet grown by a young boy at Maffra. It is a sample of a crop which has yielded the lad a net return of £17 5s. per acre. ' We have heard a lot of talk today about the cost of growing sugar cane, and about the difficulties with which *the* sugar cane-growers in the north of Australia have to contend. Yet here in the southern part of Australia, in an area extending from a little north of the Murray River right through Victoria into South Australia, embracing the whole of the south-east, beautiful sugar beet has been grown. Planted in October, it is harvested in April, just in time for the picking of the fruit crop, and the -sugar yielded could be sold at 3£d. per lb. All the work would be done by white labour. The beet grown at Maffra contains up to 19 per cent, of sugar, and the sugar itself has 91 per cent, of purity. Quite recently the Victorian State Government sent the manager of their Maffra beet sugar factory abroad, and heis now in the United States of America, endeavouring to secure machinery to deal with the crop grown in the Maffra district. I would not be a bit surprised to see within three years quite a number of large sugar-beet factories operating in the southern part of Australia. I warn the Queenslanders to look out for their industry. Beet has the distinction of containing a greater percentage of food contents than has any other plant. In modern factories nothing is wasted in treating it, and any good-sized factory will give employment to upwards of 700 people in the cultivation of beet and ' the various processes of manufacture. The school children in the southern districts of Victoria and South Australia could grow sufficient beet in their own gardens to keep a factory going. I am sure that within a few years we shall produce in Victoria and South Australia not only sufficient beet sugar for our own requirements, but also a surplus for export. {: #subdebate-17-0-s51 .speaker-KXG} ##### Mr WATT:
Balaclava .- The Committee is in a difficulty. The honorable member who moved the amendment has not explained it, although it is lengthy and complicated, and the Minister **(Mr. Rodgers)** did not in his reply refer to it, but, instead, dealt with a printed amendment, which, apparently, had been circulated earlier in the day, and for which the amendment submitted is evidently a substitution. I do not know the effect of the amendment, but I assume from what I heard when the mover was courteous enough to read it to the Committee that its object is to give the world's parity to the manufacturer who uses sugar in hia exported output. If that is so, it is just what the Government have promised to ' do. {: .speaker-KDZ} ##### Mr Jowett: -- I did not know that. {: .speaker-KXG} ##### Mr WATT: -- Yes, the Minister said that it was distinctly the policy of the Government to do so, and in the circumstances, I do not think we should load our legislation to achieve the honorable member's purpose. In fact, the Minister went further, and said that no Government could refuse to do such a thing. In the circumstances, I think that we might get on with other business. {: #subdebate-17-0-s52 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
Yarra .- The Minister **(Mr. Rodgers)** has told us the production of sugar in Australia exceeds the local demand, and yet we are assured that the Government intend to allow a rebate of the amount of duty upon sugar that is used in jams and other commodities that are exported. If we are producing more sugar than we are able to consume, I presume that we will not be importing sugar, in which case jam for export will be made from locally-grown sugar. Do I understand that it is the policy of the Government to sell the locally-grown sugar to manufacturers for their export trade at a cheaper rate than that at which they will be selling it for local consumption? {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- It is the practice of all countries to do so, and I think that no party in power would decline to do it in Australia. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- To sell locally-grown sugar for export more cheaply than it is to be sold for local consumption? {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Otherwise what are we to do with our surplus fruit? , {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- On the same line of argument, if we sell sugar for export, we must do so at a cheaper rate than that at which we are selling for local consumption. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- That hurdle can be taken when it is reached. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- If it is a sound principle to sell sugar at a cheap rate in order to get rid of our surplus fruits, it is just as sound a principle to apply the same policy to sugar which we send out of the country. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Australia has not yet reached that stage. The usual practice is to carry over any surplus sugar in order to meet shortages caused by droughts, frosts, and so forth, which the industry often encounters. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- That is a very proper thing to do; but I understood that the honorable member for Grampians was anxious to import sugar free of duty in order to enable manufacturers to export jams, despite the fact that we have a surplus sugar crop. All these things will involve us in a serious position now that the sugar output has overtaken the demand. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- That is why the honorable member for Balaclava very wisely suggests that we should not load this resolution with conditions, but should leave the matter to be administered by the Government according to the position of the local sugar output. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- There is a considerable amount of wisdom in the suggestion of the honorable member for Balaclava; but there is greater wisdom in the suggestion that comes from this side of the Chamber, that the only way in which the sugar industry can be controlled is by retaining Government control, which would obviate the necessity for Customs duties. I cannot imagine our having Customs duties side by side with Government control, and evidently our interpretation of the position is absolutely correct-that the Government have made up their minds -that their control of the industry must come to an end. The position of the Labour, party has been made very clear, and the longer this debate has continued the more evident it has become that the Government have decided that control must go, and that they must try to patch up the whole position. I hope that every one of their patches will be destroyed {: #subdebate-17-0-s53 .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- I do not think there are any growers in Australia who desire to grow sugar for export. At any rate, I have not met a sugar-grower who has that idea in his mind, and I am satisfied that the attitude of the growers to thA fruit industry ls that they do not wish to unduly hamper the export trade in jams and canned fruits in any way whatsoever. I think the Minister should give us a definite assurance that just as it has been the practice of the Government for the last year or eighteen months to impose no penalty on this export trade, they will not now insist on the sugar used in that trade bearing the extra cost that must be added bv the imposition of higher protective duties. {: .speaker-KXG} ##### Mr Watt: -- The Minister gave that assurance to-day. {: #subdebate-17-0-s54 .speaker-KDZ} ##### Mr JOWETT:
Grampians .- I was not aware of the assurance given by the Minister **(Mr. Rodgers)** to the honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. Watt;, and, in the circumstances, I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.** Amendment, by leave, withdrawn. Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative. Resolution reported. Standing Orders suspended. Resolution adopted. {: .page-start } page 3792 {:#debate-18} ### CUSTOMS TARIFF (SUGAR DUTIES) BILL *Ordered -* >That **Mr. Rodgers** and **Mr. Greene** do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution. Bill presented by **Mr. Rodgers,** and passed through all stages without amendment or debate. *Sitting suspended from 12 to 12.^5 a.m. (Friday).* {: .page-start } page 3792 {:#debate-19} ### BUDGET, 1922-23 {:#subdebate-19-0} #### In Committee of Supply: Debate resumed from 7th September *(vide* page 2050), on motion by **Mr. Bruce** - >That the first item in the Estimates under Division 1- The Parliament- namely, " The President, £1,100," be agreed to. {: #subdebate-19-0-s0 .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr MCGRATH: -- I call attention to the state of the Committee. *[Quorum formed."]* {: #subdebate-19-0-s1 .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- Pitt's well-known axiom that Finance is government and government is finance" is generally accepted in ordinary circumstances, but I do not think the present Government appreciate it at all' when the discussion - of a Budget aud Estimates dealing with about £81,000,000 is relegated to the tail end of a session, despite the promise that the consideration of the Budget would be continued last Tuesday and that at least three days would be allowed for its discussion. Apparently, the Treasurer **(Mr.** Bruce) does not recognise that, whilst it is his duty to find the revenues with which to carry on the government of the country, it is equally his duty to consider to the full the effect which his financial proposals will have upon the life and character of the citizens. There is a political axiom that the avocations men follow, and the situations where they live, are determined by the incidence of taxation and the conduct of the Government towards them. The effect of the policy of the Government as expressed in the whole of their financial acts is to be seen by a perusal of the census figures for the last ten years. Although our population has increased during the decade by something like 900,000, the actual number of producers has declined, and important country towns have either lost population or are stagnant. For instance, in New South Wales the only country town that has held its natural increase during the last ten years is Lithgow. In Victoria there has been an increase of 120,000 in the electors of Melbourne and only 4,000 in the remainder of the State. This condition of affairs has been brought about by the financial outlook of consecutive Governments. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr Laird Smith: -- That is largely owing to a number of people who have made money in the country coming to settle in the metropolitan areas. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- That is a fairy tale. The Budget gives no evidence of a change of policy. Upon the outlook on national finance depend both the present and future prosperity and stability of Australia, and I propose to examine not only the immediate effects of the Treasurer's proposals, but also their ultimate bearing on the future prosperity of the country. Before doing so I should like to congratulate the Treasurer on having presented his Budget speech to the House in the month of August, although I cannot commend him for having permitted the discussion of his policy to be delayed until this late stage of the session. I congratulate him also on the lucidity and clearness with which he presented his statement, but I regret that, although it was clear enough, it did not carry very much hope to the hearts of readers. The appointment of the honorable member for Flinders **(Mr. Bruce)** to the position of Treasurer waa hailed with very great satisfaction and high expectations by the bulk of the people. They had hoped that ".the rake's progress" of successive Governments - the continual budgeting for deficits, living beyond our means, and the old war-time scale of lavish expenditure^ - would be brought to an end. But a close examination of the present Budget indicates that, although many of the old defects are better covered up, it is still tragically full of objectionable features, and that it is designed with an eye, not to the next generation, but merely to the next general election. The Treasurer, instead of trying to stem the stream of extravagance, has been content to go with it. I own to being very disappointed that he has not been able to bring to light some proper plan of economical administration throughout the Service, that the expenditure of the Government during last year was £1,000,000 more than was voted by Parliament, that throughout the whole Service there is the same old war-time scale of expenditure, that there is no cessation of new appointments, and that the Commonwealth has not even begun to follow the example set by Canada, New Zealand, and Great Britain, of trying to got back at the earliest possible moment to something like a pre-war standard of finance. J am disappointed also that the Treasurer has been dismayed by the stereotyped obstacles and official blocks to thorough re-organization of the whole Public Service, and is content in any attempts at economy to deal only with those forms of expenditure which are outside the statutory obligations. The Parliament which had power to create those obligations has equal power to alter them; and in England a very definite stand was taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who gave definite instructions to the heads of Departments that the income would be only a certain amount, and the expendi- 'ture must be well within it, and that activities, which of themselves seemed wise and beneficial enough during the war, had to be cut out if some very sound reason for their existence was not evident. Iu this way the estimated expenditure waa reduced by £161,000,000 this year. I had also hoped that if the Treasurer proposed any remissions of taxation they would be accompanied by some evidence, df a permanent diminution of expenditure which would insure that the reduction of taxation also would be permanent, instead of being merely a lev? upon the surplus stored from previous years. Such remissions as he has made have come from the surplus that he found when he took, office, and another year such as the last was and the current one apparently will be, will abolish the whole of that store; whilst if we strike a bad year with a decrease in total production and a corresponding reduction in the national income, we shall find ourselves short of as many million pounds as are at the present time in the accumulated surplus. Apart from the remissions, the .Treasurer has been able to balance his ledger only by transferring to loan account the expenditure on certain works which ordinarily are paid for out of revenue; and that despite the fact that owing to the decisions of the Washington Conference it was possible to reduce the Defence proposals this year very considerably. In addition, he has been able to conserve ever £2,00.0,000 from War Service Homes which, last year, were provided for out of revenue. The remissions of taxation which the Treasurer has made seem to be only electioneering baits, but they have been well distributed. Some of them I welcome, not because they are electioneering baits, but because they are* only a tardy meed of justice to the public. {: .speaker-JRH} ##### Mr Bowden: -- Then why does tho honorable member call them electioneering baits ? {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- Because some of them have been brought forward in direct opposition to the Government's declared policy, in previous years. For instance, last year the Country party urged that the proper way to encourage the iron and steel industry was by a system of bounties and low duties, which would make it possible for the secondary products of the industry to be available at a fairly low price. In that way there would be increased production aud a better chance of establishing and maintaining the local manufacturing industries. I notice that a distinguished English manufacturer who is visiting Australia, **Mr. Green,** has expressed the opinion in the Sydney *Daily Telegraph* that "The proper way to establish the iron and steel industry was by means of a system of bounties, because that would enormously increase the possibilities of great expansion in wire netting and barbed wire, and all the secondary indnstri.es established in connexion with it." The Canadian iron and steel industry, was established in that way. The cost of wire netting and wire has weighed heavily on production, and it is gratifying, therefore, that the duties have been reduced, no matter what the reason. Last year many people were practically eaten off their holdings because Lysaghts failed to deliver wire netting, and the settlers could not afford to import it. The settlers are at last able to make a stand against rabbits, and to increase < their production. I should have preferred to see the injustices and anomalies of the present taxation remedied before remissions were made in the income and other taxes. Most important of all, I should have liked to see greater concessions given in respect of children than we have been able to extort from the Government during the last couple of weeks. It is very interesting to note what is taking place in Canada in this connexion. In the Canadian Budget for this year there is a reduction in revenue derived from taxation from §381,000,000 last year to $332,000,000 this year, a difference of something like $50,000,000. When we come to examine the method by which this has been brought about we find that, first of all, reductions were made in the duties on forty-nine specific items, including mowing machines, reapers and binders, cultivators, harrows, horse rakes, ploughs, vegetable grading machines, and nearly all other agricultural implements. Tractors for farm purposes have been made free; first by Order in Council and then by Act of Parliament, and the duties have also been reduced on harness, tools, and so forth. Accompanying this, and as- a result of a policy that looks to the land, we find that 60 per cent, of the Canadian population are living in the country, whereas in Australia, under our policy of looking first to the secondary instead of the primary industries, and our methods of taxation and administration, practically 50 per cent, of our people are in the capital cities. Further, these reductions were made in Canada not immediately before an election to gain votes, but after an election, when Parliament had its whole course to run. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr Fleming: -- That is because the people there are nearly all farmers. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- That would undoubtedly make a difference in the mental attitude of the Government. The Treasurer **(Mr. Bruce)** ought to have endeavoured by his Budget to improve our public credit by living within our income, and insisting that our current expenditure shall not exceed our current revenue, by limiting unproductive expenditure so as to lessen taxation and prevent the strangling of industries. There should have been an attempt to provide a larger sinking fund in order to wipe out more quickly our debts, instead of diminishing the fund already in existence, and at the earliest possible moment we should release the greatest possible number of employees from unproductive Government works, so that they may be available for productive enterprise. We should endeavour to reduce our statutory obligations by an alteration in our methods, and diminish the cost of government, both Federal and State, by the immediate abolition of the present duplication. Promises have been made of Constitution amendments, but those promises have not been honoured by the Government. The Treasurer's statement of last year referred to thiB matter, and pointed out that Constitution amendment was the only way to attain real relief from taxation and undue expenditure; yet there is no mention of this reform, in the Budget of this year, nor is there any attempt by the Government to submit Constitution amendments to a referendum at the forthcoming elec-1 tion, although there was a definite undertaking to that effect. There seems to be only one definite line of policy adopted by the Government, and that is to placate as many interests as can be placated with the amount of money available from the old store; the old policy is maintained of debauching one set of electors with money derived from another. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr Laird Smith: -- In other words, the Budget makes a successful appeal to the electors? {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- It will not be successful, for the electors have found out what is the true position. The outstanding feature, after the remissions of taxation, is that the income derived from taxation is less by £2,700,000 than the proposed current expenditure. In Canada, New Zealand, England, and throughout the Dominions we find the Governments endeavouring to get back to pre-war conditions so far as> the cost of government is concerned.; but we are simply "letting things slide," and, in fact, increasing the ordinary cost of government. This is 'only rendered possible by permitting what was passed as a protective Tariff, to become a revenue Tariff. We were told that the Tariff was to be definitely protective, but the Treasurer is actually budgeting to secure more revenue from the Tariff this year than last. If a protective Tariff fulfils its function, the revenue derived must become less and less as industries are established within the country. {: .speaker-KJM} ##### Mr Jackson: -- Last year was not a. normal year. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- What does the honorable member mean? {: .speaker-KJM} ##### Mr Jackson: -- Trade was not normal. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- Last year the Treasurer got £1,250,000 more .than he anticipated, and this year he is budgeting for more still. The Tariff is not operating in the way that was anticipated, and this year is going .to be " abnormal " in exactly the same way as was last year. This shows of what little value the protective Tariff of this Government apparently is, and the unsatisfactory conditions under which industries are now conducted are due to the fact that the Government are unduly interfering. The Commonwealth coal" control is probably doing more than .anything else to dislocate industry. Last year we spent £1,000,000 more than was voted, in spite of an expressed intention on the part of the Government to endeavour to reduce their expenditure. It is worth while to review the promises made by the Government and compare them with the Government's performances. Before doing that, however, I should like to say that we must realize, and realize very soon, that the most important policy for Australia is one of development; and development is essentially a function of the State Governments. The revenues available to both Commonwealth and States are largely drawn from the same source, in the form of income tax, land tax, and so forth. If development is to be carried on there must not be continual co]n.petition between the Commonwealth and the States as to how much each can extract from the taxpayers. If taxes' are imposed beyond what our resources can bear, the country cannot be1 developed. There ought to be. a reduction- of Commonwealth expenditure along the lines, that have been adopted in New Zealand, Great Britain, and 'Canada. We have to remember that in New Zealand and Great Britain, where a courageous attempt has been made to grapple with the problem of increased expenditure, there are unitary Governments, and not several Governments all separately drawing taxation from the people. Although: here we have Federal and StateGovernments both extracting taxation we see no effort to stem, the rising tide of public expenditure; we are simply going on as we were four- years ago, although other countries, are doing what we ought to do in this regard. {: .speaker-KJM} ##### Mr Jackson: -- The honorable member would increase the number of Governments? {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- I would, in order to make them more economical under the closer supervision of the people. Victoria, which is the smallest State in the Commonwealth, has only one-third of the taxation of New South Wales,, and one-quarter the taxation of Queensland, and if conditions such as I advocate were brought about we should soon see a change from the unrestrained and constant increase in our expenditure. If tie Commonwealth were deliberately endeavouring to strangle the States and bring about Unification,, they could not go on .better lines than those they are pursuing at the present time. If it is the desire of the Government to dry up all the resources of the States in the way of available taxation, it seems to me it should not be done sideways, but on a boldly avowed policy. .The Country party .on its entry into this Parliament took a definite stand on the question of national economy. We found that the Budget for that year had not then been introduced, although the date was late in February. We made an attempt to insist that the Budget should be brought down at the earliest possible moment, and made an effort to reduce Supply to six weeks, so that the Budget might be presented before the whole of the money had been spent. On that occasion, however, the ' Government beat the party drum, and by a party vote defeated our "first attempt to secure economy. "We did achieve one result, and that was a promise by the Government' that tha Budget would in the future always be introduced at the earliest moment so as to ^enable some supervision over expenditure to be exercised by this House. That promise has been kept, as shown by the fact that in 1920 and 1921 the Budget was introduced in September, and this year in August. At the same time, just immediately prior to an election, we find ourselves with just about a day and a half to discuss the expenditure of £81.000.000 {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr Bruce: -- "We are not discussing the whole of that expenditure now. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- We are discussing the departmental expenditure - we are discussing all except loan expenditure. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr Bruce: -- Yes, but the honorable member always includes the loan expenditure. He is not correct in doing so. What we are discussing now represents not nearly £81,000,000. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- About 99 per, cent, of what the honorable member says is not correct! {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- The honorable gentleman is always trying to " draw red herrings across the track," and making assertions that are wide of the mark. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I will give the honorable member something to go on with by-and-by. I have a newspaper report here, 3$ inches long, in which there are seventeen lies. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- The Minister's opportunity for making accusations of that character will come, no doubt, in due course. At any rate, the Country party succeeded in teaching the Government a lesson in regard to the time of ".bringing down the Budget statement. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Similar requests have been made to the Treasurer of the day year after year, since the inception of Federation. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- And will continue to be made for ever and ever, amen ! {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- In one Parliament, when there was no Country party in this Chamber, the Budget was presented in June and was dealt with in -July of the succeeding year. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- But the explanation of the greater expedition employed since those days is not to be found in the presence of the Country party. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- While the lesson in expenditure, has, apparently, been effectively taught by the Country party, the lesson in effective economy has still to be driven home and put into practice. The effort of the Country party last year proved successful in the direction of securing certain definite promises for the reduction of expenditure. In the first place, while bargaining with the honorable member for Oxley **(Mr. Bayley)** on the floor of the House on the 21st October, 192U, the Prime Minister, said that, iu regard to new works, the Committee of Supply would be Tree to make any suggestion it liked, and that the Government would abide by the result. Further, the right honorable gentleman said that his statement applied to all works that had no relation to vital matters of repatriation, land settlement, and War Service Homes, or to works that were in part constructed. Secondly, on 11th November, on being driven into that position by the Country party, the Prime Minister made a definite promise of a total saving of £500,000 in the public expenditure from revenue. This promise was repeated on 17th November, when the Prime Minister said *(vide Hansard,* page i.2941) - >I hope that honorable members, in the face of what has been said, will act reasonably, and accept the offer of the Government to reduce the Military Estimates by £250,000, and the Naval Estimates by £130,000, and effect such other saving as in the aggregate will make £500,000. After stating that the Government would reduce the total Military Estimates by only £250,000, the Prime Minister- having been further pressed, to reduce the new works portion of the Military Estimates alone by that amount,, and having apparently realized that the House was determined to stop the extravagance of the Government - said, at a later hour on the same day-- >I have been looking into the matter, and, on the Estimates now before the Committee (i.e., the .new works portion only) we are prepared to vote for a reduction of £200,000. On 18th November, more pressure having been exerted, the Prime Minister said - >The Government have given these Estimates (i.e., the new works) consideration; and they are now prepared to reduce this vote by £250,000. Tho vote was accordingly reduced. On 1st December, when dealing with the general Defence Estimates, the Prime Minister agreed to a reduction of £70,000. He said - >The Government are not prepared to go beyond £70,000, except in the event of the Washington Conference coming to such a decision as to change the whole face - of things. When such a position is made known, if it is, we will consider the matter in a new light. The Prime Minister, on the same day, summarized the promises of economy as follows : - To this was added the promise that, in the event of the Washington Conference coming to such a decision as to change the whole face of things, the Government would further consider the Defence Estimates in a new light. A perusal of this year's Budget forces the Country party to again raise the issue of economy. A deliberate attempt has been made to cloud the fact that the Government this year proposes to expend £2,705,443 more than it anticipates that it will actually receive by way of revenue. Instead of finding that some attempt had been made to provide for the proposed reduction in taxation by a permanent reduction in expenditure, I perceive that the Treasurer proposes to pay for the Government's vote-catching devices out of the surplus which past Treasurers accumulated by overtaxing the people, and which - on the present Treasurer's own calculations - will be exhausted in two years. The electors must know, and will know as far as it lies in the power of the Country party to inform them, that the proposed reduction in taxation cannot continue unless there is a permanent reduction in the cost of government. Notwithstanding the fact that the Government were faced with the specific mandate from Parliament, and despite the innumerable promises of the Prime Minister - made many times throughout the debates last year - to effect reduction in ordinary departmental expenditure, no such reduction - apart from Defence and Navy, with which I shall deal later - has been made. But, on the other hand, the ordinary expenditure of these Departments has been increased by approximately £471,000 over and above the amounts voted by Parliament for them last year. The ex-Treasurer **(Sir Joseph Cook)** said, definitely, that the greatest care would be exercised throughout the whole of the Departments in seeing that the votes passed by Parliament were not exceeded. Despite that undertaking, the Government spent more than £1,000,000 over and above the sum which Parliament had voted ; and, bub for the windfall of £835,000 in respect of the Australian Imperial Force troops abroad, together with an increase in income tax returns over and above the total estimated in the Budget, and an increase in Customs revenue which had not been foreseen, the accounts for the past financial year would have been hopelessly in arrear. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr Bruce: -- The honorable member'3 comment,- at all events, contains quite a number of " buts " and " if s." {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- Those additional sources of revenue were absolutely unforeseen by the Government. And, as for the windfall of £835,000, it is questionable whether it should have been properly taken into revenue, considering the circumstances in which it had been raised and spent and the sources from which it had come. Perusal of the present Budget only strengthens the purpose of the Country party in insisting that the matter of economy shall again be raised. In this Budget a. clever device has been employed to disguise the, fact that it will provide for a deficiency of £2,700,000 on the actual statement of the year's finances. That amount is taken out of the surplus which has been accumulated over many years - running back, I think, as far as 190S. The whole of the remissions which have been made at the instance of the Treasurer practically come out of that amount. The proposed reduction in taxation cannot be made permanent unless some permanent method is adopted for reducing the cost of government. Notwithstanding the fact that we arc getting further away from tho war period and its after-effects, and despite innumerable promises and professions on the part of the Government to reduce expenditure and practise economy, we find that except in the Departments of the Navy and Defence, no such reductions have been made. And we find, further, that the ordinary expenditure of the Departments has been increased by approximately £471,000 - as I pointed out just now - over and above the amounts voted last year. These increases are as follows" - gone up considerably, and on 30th June, 1921, the total stood as follows: - Notwithstanding the fact that the cost of government in Australia, excluding war expenditure, has risen from £50,000,000 to £106,000,000 during the past decade, the Government have added another £470,000 to the ordinary departmental expenditure, as against the amount voted by Parliament last year. In spite of the fact that Federal and State taxation has risen from ,£4 10s. to £13 per head during the same period, and that this year over £70,600,000 was poured into the State and Federal Treasuries by- this small community, the Government, in the past financial year, succeeded in spending practically the whole of the £3,126,000 of ordinary revenue received from unanticipated resources, instead of using that sum in order to afford some relief from taxation. {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGrath: -- -I think there should be a quorum present. [Quorum, *formed.]* {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- There have been alarming increases in the total number of public servants. Since the inception of Federation, the number in Australia has risen from 89,831 to 248,976, and salaries have grown from £11,733,000 to £55,689,000. As the total adult population of Australia is about 3,000,000, one in every twelve adults is a civil servant. The Commonwealth's contribution to this state of affairs, as at 30th June, 1921 - the latest figures obtainable from the Public Service Commissioner - and excluding the Department of Defence, was 23,4S9 permanent officers, and 15,120 exempt and temporary employees; making a total of 38,609. The number of exempt and temporary employees has Trade and Customs. - Central Staff and Department of Health, 301. - New South Wales 59; Victoria, 24; Queensland, 39; South Aus tralia, 18; Western Australia, 4; Tasmania, 4 Postmaster-General. - Central Staff, 7; New South Wales, 4,209; Victoria, 3,297; Queensland, '2,103; South Australia, 1,144; Western Australia, 624; Tasmania, 630; total, 15,120. The number of permanent employees in 1912-13 - also excluding Defence - was 20,985. The Prime Minister's Department has increased from 158 to 390; the Treasury, from 293 to 1,886; and Trade and Customs, from 1,232 to 1,592. According to the Estimates, there are no less than 40,231 permanent officers provided for 1922-23. There is no information in the possession of the Common wealth Public Service Commissioner as to- the number of temporary employees, so it i3 impossible to say exactly what the position is. No doubt, some of the latter have been made .permanent during the year. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr LAIRD Smith: -- Am I to infer from the honorable member's remarks that he recommends wholesale dismissals? {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- No. What I contend is that there should be a selfdenying ordinance om the part of the Commonwealth and State Governments in regard to the making of additional appointments to the Public Service, and that there should be a thorough reorganization of the Departments.- Every report that has been submitted to Parliament on this question - the report of the Economies Commission, the report by **Sir Robert** Anderson, and others - has shown that a proper re-organization of the Public Service would enable a great many men, especially temporary employees, to be displaced, and the work of the Departments to be carried out more efficiently than it is at present. The figures I have .given show that there is a gradual and steady increase year after year in the number of officers engaged by the Commonwealth, and since there is now a decrease rather than an increase in the number of our activities, surely 'there is no justification for the ever-increasing number of permanent officers. Despite these facts, the Treasurer tells us that every figure in connexion with the ordinary Departments is the result of the closest investigation and that the Government are convinced, "on the existing material and rate of pay," that the Estimates represent the lowest amount practicable consistent with the supply of a reasonable service to the community. The Minister charged with the administration of the Public Service Act says, however, that there can be a great deal more re-organization, and if that were done it would not be necessary to have as many public servants as we employ at the present time. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr Bruce: -- I said that the Board of Commisioners to be appointed under the Bill that we. have just passed would be able to do a great deal. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- I hope it will; but these two statements are in conflict. There is, admittedly, a great- field for economy in the Pubic Service at the present time. Economy can be secured by re-organizing the whole Service. An illustration of the way in which the Service grows almost unconsciously is to be found in connexion with the sub-Treasury Departments. The Treasurer eliminated from his comparison of the position in 1913-14 and the year 1922-23 the figures relating to those Departments, because «he said they represented wholly new activities. Last year, however, the exTreasurer **(Sir Joseph Cook),** when complaint was made of the establishment of sub-Treasuries all over the Commonwealth, said that they represented really a replacement of activities formerly carried on by other Departments, and did not cover new activities at all. It is impossible to reconcile these two statements. **Sir Joseph** Cook stated that hitherto it had been the practice of each Department to attend to its own finance and run its own accounts in the various States, and that the establishment of these various sub-Treasuries would render such work on their, part no longer necessary. But there is no corresponding decrease in the number of officers employed in the Departments which have been relieved of this work. Another comparison made by the Treasurer dealt with the number of officers employed .in the Taxation Office in 1913-14 and 1921- {: type="1" start="22"} 0. I respectfully suggest that that is not. a fair comparison by reason of the fact that in 1913-14 there was no Income Tax Act, and, therefore; no expense of collection. If one were to take the increase in the Taxation Office since 1916-17, when the income tax was being levied, one would obtain some idea of the appalling addition to the officers of that Department that has taken place. The cost of running the Taxation Department in 1916-17 was £198,967, and in 1921-22 it amounted to £546,127. In 1916-17 there were 637 employees in the Department, whereas in 1921-22 there were 2,037. There were 241,933 income taxpayers in 1916-17, and 434,000 in 1921-22. {: .speaker-KFP} ##### Mr RICHARD FOSTER:
WAKEFIELD, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; LP from 1922; NAT from 1925 -- - Why does not the honorable member tell us the reason for the increased expenditure) {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- I am going to point, out what has been done elsewhere, and to ask why this Government does not grasp the nettle firmly, and try to deal with the whole general question in a businesslike way. Canada is proposing this year to raise, by way of taxation, £10^000,000 less than was raised last year. Honorable members know what has been done by New Zealand, and I propose to show what has been done by Great Britain in the way of effecting economy. Great Britain, Canada, and New Zealand occupy very much the same position that we do, but the attempt that we are making to get ' back to pre-war conditions is in no way comparable with what is being done in those countries-. In Great Britain, for instance, the Committee on National Expenditure recommended a total reduction of £86,750,000 in the annual expenditure from revenue. That recommendation was "carried out after the departmental heads in accordance with the request of the Chancellor of the Exchequer had carefully gone through their departmental' estimates and had reduced them by £75,000,000. There was thus a total reduction of £161,750,000. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr Bruce: -- Since the honorable member quotes those figures, will he in common fairness tell the Committee what * proportion of that £86,750,000 was concerned with any activity such as those controlled by the Federal authority ? {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- I will give the Committee the actual reductions that., have been made. As the result of the recommendation of the Committee on National Expenditure and the action taken by the departmetnal heads, the British Budget was reduced from £603,000,000 to £442,000,000. I will mention the classes of expenditure on which the Committee concentrated, with a view to reducing expenditure by the enormous amount mentioned. Leaving out of consideration the question of fighting services, which cannot be compared with those of Australia, the following amounts were deducted from ordinary services: - This return relates to all ordinary items of expenditure, and I have not included therein any items that would come under the heading of the Navy, Army, Aftermath of the War, Pensions, War Pensions, &c. I read with interest recently a statement by the Canadian Minister for Finance on the question of trade agencies. Speaking in the Canadian Parliament, he said - >Another regulation at that time - it was a busy time in the Budget last year - contemplated the establishment of commercial agencies abroad, and the requirement that a commercial agent of Canada should have his certificate attached to every invoice of $100 or more. It could be seen at once that if that was to be effected, we would have to have a large army of commercial agents scattered throughout the wide world. After adopting that, the Government seem to have had some hesitation in applying it. They did not bring it into force at once. They provided that it should be brought into operation by order of the Governor in Council. They have never brought it into operation. To-day it is a dead issue, and we propose to make it doubly dead by wiping it out. The attitude of the Canadian Government towards its commercial agents is very different from that adopted by the Australian Government towards our. trade agents. The items to which I referred a few moments ago as having been deducted from ordinary services by the Imperial Government as the result of the report of the Geddes Commission are practically ordinary expenses which have their parallel in this Government of the Commonwealth. {: .speaker-KFP} ##### Mr Richard Foster: -- Where is the parallel ? {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- There is, unfortunately, no parallel between the conduct of this Government and that of the British Government in regard to the reduction of expenditure. There are many directions in which we might follow the example set by the Imperial Government. They have already paid off a considerable part of their war indebtedness, whereas we are increasing our national debt. {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- The need for a reduction in their case was much greater than in our case, because there was much more extravagance there. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- I do not admit that. I would remind the Committee that although the Canadian Government has to deal with an area as large as our own, and to provide for the requirements of one and a half times the population of Australia, its Budget is practically the same as our own, and this notwithstanding that it has a very much bigger railway proposition than we have to deal with. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr Laird Smith: -- The railways there are for the most part owned by private companies. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- The honorable member's information is not up to date. Quite a number of the railways to which he refers have come under the control of the Canadian Government during the last two years. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr Laird Smith: -- What about the Canadian-Pacific railway? {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- There are other great railway lines in Canada. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr Bruce: -- But the honorable member will admit that the Canadian-Pacific railway is by fan the greatest in Canada? {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- The Grand Trunk and the Great Northern are very considerable railways. Returning to the question of the reduction of expenditure made by the Imperial Government, I would point out that the Committee on National Expenditure said that the reductions they had proposed throughout were attainable if prompt action was taken by the Departments upon the general lines of their suggestions and with determination to effect economies. They had no doubt whatever that a close scrutiny of the expenditure by the Departments themselves, and by the Treasurer, would disclose the possibility of further economies on the lines they had followed, as their investigations could not be exhaustive. The view taken by the British Treasurer on this matter is also well known, and was quoted by me during the Budget debate last year, but as it has such an important bearing upon our Treasurer's Budget now under consideration, I refer to it again - >In order to enable revenue find expenditure to balance in 1022-23. there must be a drastic reduction in expenditure. There is no hope of solving the financial problem that confronts the nation by additional borrowings or additional taxation. ... It is certain that any increase in taxation would seriously hamper the recovery of British industry and commerce, and thus ultimately intensify the difficulty of the position, and would on that account be most vehemently opposed by the House of Commons, and by public opinion in the country; indeed, what is required in order to maintain and stimulate industry and commerce - and secure full and regular employment in the country - is a reduction of taxation and of the burden of the State's indebtedness as rapidly as possible, a process which can only be achieved by a continuous reduction of expenditure throughout the next few years. . . . It is recognised that it will be impossible to carry out the degree of economy demanded by the financial situation and still preserve all the existing services carried on by the State. Therefore, the Treasury circular, with the authority of the Cabinet behind it, instructs each Department to take into consideration the abolition of some of the services under its control, even though these sevices represent functions imposed by Statute. Where it is necessary to obtain parliamentary sanction by means of a Bill to the abolition of any existing services, the Government will do so. There is a marked difference between the attitude taken up by our Treasurer and that taken up by the British Government in respect to statutory obligations, which, they declare, it is better to empty out if they cannot be carried out with satisfaction and economically. Our Treasurer said, in delivering his Budget - >The two ways in which a reduction can be brought about are by insuring more efficient service as a result of better organization of all the Departments and by a reduction of the amount paid to the individual members of the Public Service. I said last year that the members of the Country party have no desire to interfere with good pay for good work, or with the natural increments that come to the public servants for faithful work; but the method which is to be adopted by the Government to obtain the better organization of all Departments surely conflicts with the Treasurer's statement that every item of expenditure has been carefully scrutinized. We find, for instance, that the Government have appointed more Boards. I have already protested against the appointment of three Public Service Commissioners. I believe that the work could be done more efficiently and more satisfactorily by the appointment of one Commissioner, and giving him an efficient staff such as has been asked for, and a board of accountants who would not need to be paid the salaries we have already arranged to pay to the three Commissioners. However, as this Parliament has decided to appoint three Commissioners, it is better to pay them such salaries as will secure the services of men who will be able to bring about better conditions in the Service. Nevertheless, the paragraph in the Treasurer's Budget statement may be taken as a frank admission of the existence of lack of organization throughout the Service; and since the Government have been in power for six years, they must take the responsibility for this. **Mr. Webster,** a former Postmaster-General, has stated very definitely since leaving office that 20 per cent. fewer men could be employed if there were better organization in the Postal Department; and we find the Public Service Commissioner complaining of the action of some Minister in reinstating a man who had absented himself without leave to act as clerk to his father, who is a bookmaker. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr Laird Smith: -- The honorable member might wait until that Minister has made his explanation. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- I am merely pointing out the statement made by the Public Service Commissioner in his report. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Surely that is sufficient. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr Laird Smith: -- It is unfair and unreasonable. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- -It seems to me that the Government lack the courage to instruct their Departments to take into consideration the abolition of some of the services under their control, eve] although those services may represent functions imposed by Statute. On the last Budget, a fight was put up by the Government to have £45,000 spent on extending the Geelong Woollen Mills, and within two or three months these works were offered for sale, because the Government had found out that in three months the mills could produce sufficient to supply the whole of the requirements of the Commonwealth Departments. For years the Government have avoided the desirability of making satisfactory arrangements with the States for the elimination of the double cost of Electoral and Taxation Departments. {: .speaker-KJM} ##### Mr Jackson: -- The other States should follow the example of Tasmania. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- Yes, and if they cannot come to some reasonable arrangement in that regard, I venture to say that the people of Australia, who are sickened to death of the perpetual backing and filling in this matter, will be prepared to hold a convention on the matter and put the country's affairs on a better footing. There is also the .matter I have already mentioned, the hours worked by Commonwealth public servants as compared with, those worked by the public servants of the States. In four of the States the public servants work until 5 o'clock, but the Commonwealth officers do not work beyond 4.30 o'clock. If the Commonwealth Government had the courage to extend the hours of work a considerable amount of money which is now spent on the employment of temporary hands could be saved. In connexion with the Budget, I would like to say that the statement for this year is a very clear one, but it has been arranged m such a way as to make it very difficult to trace the actual position last year as compared with this. Throughout, comparison is made between last year's expenditure and the estimated expenditure for this year, so that- it is difficult to ascertain exactly the difference between the estimated expenditure this year and the estimated expenditure last year. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr Bruce: -- I do not agree with the honorable member. I think that the figures are easily followed as set out in the Budget-papers. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- The. Treasurer has summarized the position as. follows : - >Surplus brought forward from- the' year 1920- 1921, estimated, £6,61S,327;; actual, £6,618,327.. > >Receipts,, estimated, £61,787,350; actual,. £64,897,046. > >Expenditure, out of revenue, estimated,. £64,104,458; actual, £65,106,949. > >Surplus carried forward to the year 1922- 1923, estimated total, £4,301,219; actual total,. £6,408,424. Dealing with this position, the1 Treasurer proceeds as follows:1 - >These figures show that during the past year Australia was able to meet the ordinary expenditure out of current revenue, except as to the comparatively small sum of £209,903. Though there was a deficit of that sum, thefact should not be overlooked that provision was made for Defence compensation to the extent of £300,000. This is a. non-recurring: item, and could legitimately have been brought forward into the present year. If that provision had not been made there would have been a surplus quite apart from the surplus brought forward from previous years.. Broadly stated, the, result of the transactions out of revenue was that we were able to balance last year's Budget and to carry .forward a surplus of £6,4061,424, aa against an estimate of £4,301,219: This pronounced improvement in the positionindicates that the recuperative powers of Australia are- greater than we recognised a year ago. We can congratulate ourselves that, notwithstanding the unparalleled dislocation resulting from the war, and the world-wide tradedepression, we have come through the past year in a manner which shows the stability of our national finances. A little examination of these figures, however, soon disposes of the Treasurer's boasts. It will be noted that the revenue exceeded anticipation by a considerable sum. The principal of these excesses are as follows: - Turning to the expenditure out, of revenue for the past year, we find that the actual expenditure was £65,106,949; the amount voted by Parliament was £64,104,458, the excess being £1,002,491.. Notwithstanding promises last year' to reduce expenditure by £500,000, t(he principal increases in expenditure over and above the amount voted by Parliament last year are as follows: - Had it not been for the previously mentioned wholly unanticipated windfall, from which I have deducted the shortage in war-time profits tax, succession duties, and surplus earnings of the Common-: wealth Government Line of Steamers, the Treasurer's deficit on the past year's transactions, instead of being " a comparatively small sum of £209,903," would have really been over £3,300,000. Thb Treasurer made his comparison between last year's expenditure and this year's estimated expenditure, and in that way was able to make the position appear better than it really was. When the comparison is made with the actual expenditure there is shown a decrease of £370,000, but when it is made with the actual votes threshed out in Committee, there is shown an increase of £417,000. It is quite evident that if the revenue had been what was anticipated instead of being what it actually was, there would have been a deficit of £3,300,000 instead of a surplus of £209,903, and when the Treasurer is speaking again I would like to ascertain from him the proportion of income tax still owing compared with the amount owing last year. There appears an expenditure item of £50,000 on account of additional temporary employment, which seems to have been utilized in collecting a larger proportion of the earnings of taxation than was anticipated. Last year, I think, **Sir Joseph** Cook said that over £8,000,000 of income taxation was outstanding, and I should like to have a statement from the Treasurer as to whether in the current year we are likely to get as big a return from this source as was received last year. The collection of nearly £1,500,000 worth of additional duty through the 'Customs Department is due to causes which are not advantageous to Australia. {: .speaker-KFP} ##### Mr RICHARD FOSTER:
WAKEFIELD, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; LP from 1922; NAT from 1925 -- What are the causes? {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- Many of the industries which are supposed to supply the needs of the country are not working at the present time. {: .speaker-KFP} ##### Mr Richard Foster: -- Why! {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- One reason that is commonly adduced in New South Wales is the maintenance of Commonwealth control of coal. A comparison of the imports for the eleven months ended 31st May last with those for the corresponding period of last year shows: 1920-21, imports, £153,834,494; 1921-22, £90,846,091, a diminution of £63,000,000, or 41 per cent. The Customs and Excise revenue for 1920-21 was £31,800,000, and for 1921-22 £27,600,000. Thus, whilst the imports decreased by about 41 per cent, the revenue decreased by only 17 per cent., showing clearly that a very large proportion of the Customs revenue must have been derived from duties on highly-protected articles. I take it thathigh protection was imposed on certain, "articles for the definite purpose of stimulating Australian production, and this it has absolutely failed to do. If the duties had been imposed for revenue purposes only they would have been on a moderately low scale. The large amount of duty that has been collected indicates that it is in connexion with the highly-protected industries that big importations have taken place. That it occurred is undoubtedly due to the high .cost of production, brought about by high taxation in both State and Federal spheres, the increased cost of living, the artificial wages that are being paid, and especially the continuance of the coal control, which interferes materially with industry throughout Australia. These conditions have contracted many industries which should be carried on more vigorously than they are at the present time. Many of them are entirely closed up because during the consideration of the . Tariff the majority of honorable members, including all the members of the Government, refused to listen to reason or to profit by the advice that was proffered from this Corner." Take wire netting as an instance. The Government imposed a duty on zinc, although the great bulk of the zinc produced in' Australia is exported. We also placed a duty on copper, and what was the effect? The wire-netting industry, in which zinc is used, was never able to obtain local zinc at less than £4 per ton more than the price at which zinc could be bought in England. This placed local manufacturers of the secondary productions made from zinc at a very great disadvantage, as compared with their overseas competitors. I brought, before the Minister for Trade and Customs the position of the bronze industry, which was definitely protected by this Parliament. People were induced to invest capital in certain works on the understanding and assurance that, as soon as the industry started to roll sheets, the deferred duty would become operative. The industry was waiting week after week, but the Minister took no action, although thd Tariff Board reported long ago in favour of the duty being imposed. That industry is now closed down because Australian copper was not available for secondary manufacturers at a price at which bronze made in England from Australian copper could be bought. {: .speaker-L0I} ##### Sir Granville Ryrie: -- All these things have happened since the so-called' Country part)' came into existence. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- The Country party fought against these excessive duties all the time, aud I regard the action of the Government in reducing the duties on wire-netting and galvanized iron and wire as a confession, that the policy we advocated last year was the proper one. What has happened in Australia is to be seen in the distribution of urban and rural population. Canada, which has problems very similar to our own, has adopted a different policy and obtained different results. So far from the increased revenue being evidence, as the Treasurer claims, of the recuperative power of the Commonwealth, it is really the result of the unfortunate fact that Australian industries have not been able to rise to the occasion and supply the needs of our people. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr Bruce: -- Surely the honorable member is not denying Australia's recuperative powers. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- No; but the increase of Customs revenue is not a matter of which the Treasurer should be proud. It should rather cause him to 'go into sackcloth and place ashes on hia head. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr Bruce: -- I remind the honorable member that it was the recuperative powers of the Commonwealth of which I was proud, and I think I should be. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- The honorable member referred to the increased revenue as evidence of the country's recuperative power. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr Bruce: -- And I still maintain that it is. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- It does not please me to see the country's recuperative power expressed in increased taxation. Turning to the Estimates of receipts and expenditure for the current year, I find that the Treasurer proposes to spend £471,000 more in the ordinary Departments than was voted by Parliament last year. It is true that the amount is less than that actually spent last year, but the expenditure was more than £1,000,000 in excess of the sum voted by Parliament. The Treasurer, however, shrewdly compared the estimated expenditure for the current year with the actual expenditure of last year, instead of with the amount voted by Parliament. By so doing, he shows a decrease of £370,000 in the estimated expenditure for this year, although it is actually an increase of £471,000 over the vote for last year. We are told that every figure is the result of the closest personal' investigation by the Treasurer, and that the estimate is the lowest amount that is compatible with efficiency and the support of reasonable services. If there hap been no loss of efficiency in the Departments', why should it take £370,000 more to run them last year than in the preceding years? In addition, there appears to. be some manipulation of loan and revenue expenditure, in order to make the Budget look as favorable as possible. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr Bruce: -- Does not the honorable member think the word " manipulation " is a little offensive? I, personally, have no objection to it. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- I do not intend it to be offensive, and I am making no, reflection upon the Treasurer. Perhapshe would prefer me to say that there has-, been some transposition cf expenditure from revenue to loan, in order to makethe Budget look well. It does not seem to matter very much what we do, becauseif we are to continue increasing our expenditure, whether it be from revenue or from loan, we must ultimately come to a dead end. I notice that iu the Canadian Budget a definite attempt was made to provide from revenue the whole of the ordinary expenditure on works that are usually paid for out of lean, and thus to prevent any increase in the national debt. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr Bruce: -- Does the .honorable member advocate that we should do that? {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- Certain departmental works should be paid for out of revenue. {: .speaker-KFP} ##### Mr Richard Foster: -- Which? {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- If the Post Office earnings had been retained in that Department for the last five years, there would have been no necessity for the raising of a loan of ?8,000.000 for the Department. That Department has been the Cinderella and milch cow of the Treasurer since the inception of Federation. In dealing with the big jump in the increase of interest on the national debt for other than war purposes by ?573,641 on one year's transactions, the Treasurer said - >The only comment necessary is to point out the substantial burden which is placed on the current revenue by heavy increase in the loan expenditure. This emphasizes the necessity for confining loan expenditure to strictly developmental, or productive works. We find, however, that, notwithstanding the Treasurer's well-meaning words, he has taken ?250,000 out of loan for the relief of unemployment in the States. I shall never again vote for handing over any money to the States in this way, if the Commonwealth is not going' to determine in some degree the manner in which it shall be spent. We find thar this money is being used in a way that is not by any means giving satisfaction. Many of the roads in New South Wales have been very much damaged by the inclement weather in the last eighteen months or two years; and it is stipulated by the State Government that those employed in their repair must be 50 per cent, of the unemployed from the capital cities, or otherwise the money will not be handed over to the shires as was intended. As a result, practically all the shire councils are turning down the proposition. Owing to hard times, and because of the damage done by the floods last year, many of the shires have dispensed with the services of the expert road men, and the unemployed sent up from the city are unaccustomed to the work. {: .speaker-KJM} ##### Mr Jackson: -- Surely you do not say that this money is being wasted. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- The statement made by the shire engineers is that many of the men sent to them have never done any road work before, and the work they do represents only 20 or 25 per cent, of that of the average tradesman. {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- Does the honorable member not think that the States can spend this money much better than can the Commonwealth ? {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- If the money is to be found by the Commonwealth it is our bounden duty to see that it is spent in a satisfactory way. {: .speaker-KFP} ##### Mr Richard Foster: -- This is being done. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- 1 have already informed the Government of the complaints that are made in this connexion throughout the whole of northern New South Wales. I see no necessity for unemployed men to lie taken from the cities when there are unemployed men in the country. The Treasurer, in his Budget speech, did not touch on the possibility of reducing the statutory obligations at all; but something ought to be done in the way I suggested last year, beginning with our own salaries. There are. however, the invalid and old-age pensions, which seem to offer a field for effort. The amount to be provided for these pensions must increase each year if we go on as at present ; and the only way in which the cost can be reduced is by means of some system of contributory national insurance. I am hopeful that, with the assistance of the friendly societies, some plan may be devised and adopted to bring about a reform of the kind, so as to enable us to provide for these old people much more liberally than at present; for then the national conscience would be a little more tender. {: #subdebate-19-0-s2 .speaker-JMG} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Atkinson:
WILMOT, TASMANIA -- The honorable member's time ha3 expired. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWilliams: -- I will move, if necessary, that the time allotted to the honorable member be extended. Hon ob able Members. No. {: #subdebate-19-0-s3 .speaker-10000} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: -- There being objections, the honorable member's time cannot be extended. {: #subdebate-19-0-s4 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
Yarra .- It Las been stated that the true test of a Government is its financing, and it becomes necessary, therefore, to analyze the Budget that has been presented to this House. The important consideration is what return is received for the expenditure. I do not propose to say anything that will affect the credit of Australia. I have great faith in the nation; and I believe that it will give good return for sound financing. I am bound to say, however, that it cannot stand much more of the present methods employed by this Government. Expenditure to increase national wealth, and thereby increase revenue, is not extravagance, but true economy; likewise, to decrease expenditure by starving revenue-earning Departments, such as the Post Office, is false economy, and that is the form of economy that has been indulged in for the past few years. The Budget figures, for example, may be reduced by selling woollen mills, though no financier would say that it is sound business to sell a concern which returned £55,000 of net profit last year after paying interest and sinking fund. But while expenditure on wealth-producing undertakings which give employment to people, and a good return, is sound economy, wasteful expenditure merely adds to the burden of all sections. What is wanted is judicious expenditure. The principles that should underlie sound judicious financing are, first, a reduction of our indebtedness; secondly, concessions to the taxpayers should be made only from, excess of revenue over expenditure; and, thirdly, the concessions ought to be to those most in need. Laying those principles down, we have to examine the Budget? Taking the first proposition - that our national debt should be reduced - I find from the Budget that, on the contrary, we are -increasing it. The Budget shows that the national debt on the 1st July, 1921, was £401,720,000, while on the 1st July . this year, it was £416.070,000, an increase of £14,350,000 in the past year. It is estimated that the debt will be increased for the current year by £17,250,000 ; and I submit that, four years after hostilities have ceased, it is surely time to make a substantial start to reduce our ' war indebtedness. War debts are not productive, and it will be easier to pay them before a period of deflation sets in. If the cost of living comes down, and there is general deflation, it really means that our debts will increase in value, and that it will be increasingly difficult to redeem them. Instead of making haste to reduce our indebtedness, the Government have reduced the sinking fund, which was set up at 1 per cent., was later £ per cent., and is now J per cent. That, in .my opinion, is not sound, but unsound, finance. In his Budget speech the Treasurer quoted from the report of the International Financial 'Conference the correct principles of finance. He quoted the first principle, " That the Budget should be balanced," and said, " This the Government have done by reducing the expenditure within the limits of the revenue moneys which are available." I contest that point, and turn to the Budget to prove that the Treasurer and the Government have not carried out that first principle of correct finance. The Estimates of 1922-23 declare that the revenue will be £62,518,250; the expenditure, £62,023,693 ; and the estimated surplus, £494,557. But what are the actual facts ? The revenue which is stated at £62,518,250, is to be reduced by £3,200.000 in remissions in taxation, thus reducing the total to £59,318,250. The expenditure, as I say, is set down at £62,023,693 ; but if we add to that the expenditure on new works that were previously paid for out of revenue, but are now paid for out of loan, amounting to £1,741,764, we find that the actual expenditure is £63,765,457, whereas the revenue for the year is ,£59,31'8.,250. When we deduct from that again the amount of money that has been, plundered from the Notes Fund - £1,150,000- the real revenue for the current year is £58.,16S,250, while the actual expenditure is £63,765,457, and the actual deficit is £5,597,207. That is made up of £3,200,000 taken from the Trust Fund, £1,150,000 taken from the Notes Fund, and £1,741,764 transferred from revenue to loan expenditure for new works ; a total of £6,091,764. When' we deduct from that the actual deficit for the year - £5,597,207, there is left a fictitious surplus of £494,557. That is an actual check of the Budget; yet we are told that the Government have reduced the expenditure to an amount within the revenue. In proof of what I have said as to the transfer of new works from revenue account to loan account, I find that for 1921-22 the new; works provided for from revenue represented £2,571,794, and for the current year £830,030, a difference of £1,741,769. Expenditure on works out of loan in 1921-1922 amounted to £5,246,503; and, for the year 1922-23, it is estimated that the expenditure will be £6,910,031 - an increase for the current financial period of £1,663,528. Thus, it will be seen that the Government, upon new works, are reducing their expenditure from revenue and increasing their expenditure from loan. Last year's Estimates were freely discussed in this Chamber. Never before had such a successful fight been waged against a Government for the purpose of reducing wasteful expenditure. And a successful " cut " was made. Despite that fact, however, and acting truly upon the irresponsible methods of recent times, the Government spent £1,000,000 more than Parliament had authorized. This year, while spending £3,000,000 less from revenue, the Government will spend £4,400,000 more from loan. I propose to turn attention now to the manner in which the Government have set out to disburse the £3,200,000 which has been taken from the Trust Fund - that is, the accumulated surplus - to tide them over the coming election. Of the sum in question, the Government will hand over to the poorer class of taxpayers - the working people - less than one-fourth. The increase in exemption from taxation, up to £2.00, will be responsible for £600,000. I am allowing that the whole of that release will go to the smaller taxpayers - which, however, will not be the case. Then, in respect of remissions of the entertainments tax, there will be a further sum of £100,000. I do not suggest, of course, that the humbler folk in the community- will solely benefit by the relief given in that direction; but I am willing to say that the total amount of remission from taxation afforded to the working people will be £700,000. I invite honorable members to turn attention now to what the Government propose to do for landowners who possess property of an unimproved value of more than £5,000. They are to be given remission of taxation to the extent of £400,000. Large companies, such as the Flinders-lane houses, the banks', and insurance companies, are to be afforded a reduction of 3d. in the £1, which will mean a gift, in the aggregate, of £200,000. Owing to the reduction of income tax by 10 per cent. there will be a further remission of £1,300,000. Then, in respect of the reductions of. duty on iron and steel products, there will be relief amounting to £350,000, to which must be added the benefit of the bounty, amounting to £250,000. The welltodo will be granted remissions of taxation, amounting in all, to £2,500,000, while the low-wage section and middleclass people will be relieved by only £700,000. Meanwhile, nothing further is being done for the. aged poor and infirm. There is a sum of £6,000,000 in the Trust Fund. The Treasurer has referred to this as " an unemployed surplus." That is an extraordinary way in which to regard theamount. What should have been done with it is not difficult to state. It is not sound business to remit taxation unless the remission can be made permanent; and there is not one word in the Budget speech to indicate that the remissions are likely to be permanent. {: .speaker-KJM} ##### Mr Jackson: -- The Treasurer in his Budget speech, indicated that such would be the case. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- Nothing of the kind! Expenditure being considerably greater than revenue, the only way in which the Treasurer could afford to grant remissions of taxation was by dipping his hands into the Trust Fund. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr Bruce: -- The specific word's I used were these - The Government feel justified in recommending the use of that sum in the manner suggested, without any fear that, in order to make the revenue and expenditure for the year 1923-24' balance, it will be necessary to reimpose taxation. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- There is nothing in that reference to indicate that the taxation remitted may not have to be reimposed. It would have been far better for the Treasurer to purchase war bonds on the market with the aid of the accumulated surplus. There are war loans which will be falling due next year. Had the Government gone into the market with £6,000,000, or even with half of that sum, they would have been able to get rid of 1925 4½ per cent. non-taxable bonds, so showing a return of about 6¼ per cent. By doing that, I point out further, they would have brought fresh sources of income within, the scope of taxation. The sum of £3,200,000, if it had been devoted to the purchase of bunds, would have earned about £200,000 a year. By so employing the surplus, the Government would have made use of the soundest way of handling this accumulated trust fund, for one of the first duties of a Government is to reduce rather than to increase their indebtedness. I desire to turn attention now to the worst feature of the Budget. I refer to the Australian Notes Account, which has been tampered with by this Government. When the Act was passed in 1910 it was laid down as a sound principle that none of the moneys received, for the notes should be used as revenue, and that none of the profits made upon the investment of the notes fund should be employed in that direction either. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWilliams: -- It was a distinct pledge, given by the Government of the day. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- The promise was made by the then Treasurer, **Mr. Fisher,** that the moneys received and the profits made would not be put into revenue, but would be employed for the redemption of loans. That pledge was faithfully kept by every succeeding Treasurer until the 14th December, 1920, when, for the first time, hands were laid upon the profits derived from the note issue. From that date up to the 30th June, 1921, there was taken out the sum of £394,016. During the financial year 1921-22 a further amount of £1,261,482 was removed; while for the current financial period it is estimated that £1,150,000 will be taken from the Australian Notes Account, making a grand total, to date, of £2,805,498. This large sum has been appropriated from the profits made in connexion with the Notes Account, and has been, and is to be, regarded as revenue and spent as revenue. The accumulated profit upon the note issue used for the redemption of Government inscribed stock up to December, 1920, was £7,780,524. When I add to that the total of £2,805,498 which has been taken into revenue from the Notes Account, it will be seen that the total profits from our notes to the end of June next year will have amounted to £10,586,022. This is the fourth Budget which I have had the honour to discuss and criticise in the Federal Parliament. The three earlier Budgets were produced by Labour Governments, in 1910, 1911, and 1912. I recall the fact that, on all three occasions, the criticism employed during the debates was of a fierce character. Opponents of Labour employed such phrases as, " financial ruin," " Australia run over a precipice," and " bankruptcy staring the nation in the face." All these pessimistic opinions were expressed because of the extent of the Government's expenditure. In the year when this was greatest, namely, in 1912-13, the expenditureafter the payment of State subsidies - was less than £15,000,000. This year, however, ordinary expenditure, apart altogether from war charges, will amount to £33,000,000. That is an increase equivalent to 120 per cent. since the last year in office of that Labour Administration which was described as being so extravagant. However, I do not propose, to employ language similar to that which was hurled at the Labour Treasurer by the Opposition of. those days, because I consider that Australia's good name and credit are of more importance than one's desire - however keen it may be - to criticise the occupants of the Treasury bench. That comment suggests to me that I might make a brief review of the financing of Labour Governments in the past, comparing it with the financing of their opponents. In 1908 the first Fisher Government came into power, and it remained in office for one year, when the Fusion was formed, and it had to retire. When Labour left office, in 1909, it left behind a surplus of £450,000. In the following year, when the Labour party returned into power, the anti-Labour Government, which had been carrying on a Fusion Administration, went out of office, leaving a deficit of £650,000. In 1911 the Labour Government were able to show a surplus of £1,837,000, in 1912 a surplus of £2,261,000, and in 1913 a surplus of £2,650,000. Labour was then defeated, and its Fusion opponents came into power again. In their first year, namely, 1914, the Fusion Government reduced the amount of surplus by £1,400,000. For those six years which I have reviewed there were four Labour surpluses and two anti-Labour deficits. Then came the war, which involved increased taxation and huge loans, and the result of war financing left a balance of more than £6,000,000. ' For the year 1921-22, with conditions returning to normal, we find that the same habit of creating a deficit dogged the footsteps of an anti-Labour Government. For .the period mentioned expenditure exceeded revenue by £209,000. For the current year, if we compare actual expenditure with actual revenue, it will be seen that the real deficit will amount to £5,597,000. Reverting to the Labour *regime* of 1910-13, I invite honorable members to review what was actually done. One of the first duties of the Labour Government was to repeal the Naval Loan Act, which involved £3,500,000. This measure had been introduced and passed during the *regime* of tha anti-Labour Government. The Labour Administration paid out of revenue for war vessels which their predecessors had proposed to pay for out of loan. The Labour Government, for tha first time, paid invalid pensions, and they liberalized the old-age pensions. They spent upon new works - chiefly upon post-office services - £3,000,000 a yeal from revenue, as compared with less than £1,000,000 a year spent by their predecessors. The Labour Administra.- * tion reduced letter postage rates to Id., and imposed a charge of £d. for telephone calls. Since those days, by the way, each of those charges has been increased by 100 per cent. .Good results were brought about by adopting a policy of sound financing and of encouraging general national development, and not by increasing the burden df taxation. Only, one new taxing measure was passed That was the Land Tax Act, which provided an exemption up to £5,000 of unimproved value, thus bearing upon none of the poor throughout the Commonwealth. The report of the. Taxation Commissioner covering the first year of its operation showed that the effect of the Act had been to break up £22,000,000 worth of large estates. Wealth production increased under Labour rule. In three years 4,000,000 acres extra were put into cultivation. Imports and exports expanded, and revenue generally benefited. The Labour Government of that period also established a number of enterprises which proved remarkably successful. The Commonwealth Bank has made net profits amounting to £4,000,000, and the savings made upon loan flotations have amounted to £6,000,000. Thus there is involved a profit to the people directly amounting to £.10,000,000. The profits made from notes have realized another £10,000,000, and the total of these operations aggregates about £20,000,000. We also' established woollen mills and a clothing factory which, up to the year ending June, 1921, showed a net profit of £300,000, and I have no doubt that if the balance-sheets for the year ending June, 1922, were available, they would show that the net profit up to that date was about £400,000. All these enterprises were established by Labour Governments. There were no scandals associated with them such as have occurred in connexion with the wireless agreements, shipping contracts, flour sales, and War Service Homes administration, because the Labour Government saw to it that no profiteers should be in control. It was urged in the early part of the discussion on the Budget that the redemption fund of the Commonwealth Bank should be placed in the hands of the Treasurer. I would not have favoured placing it in the hands of any Treasurer of the type we have had during the last few years, because there is no guarantee that, if that course were adopted, the money would not be taken into the Consolidated Revenue arid spent. The experience of the Commonwealth in regard to trust funds is not a very happy one. We know that the £415,000 accumulated profit in the sugar accounts was taken into revenue and spent j that a sum of £2,805,000, profits from the Notes Fund since December, 1920, has also been taken over and spent as revenue. The present Government is now taking from another trust fund £3,200,000 and putting it into the revenue account. Our experience in this regard is not very fortunate. It is often said to an honorable member who criticises the Government, "Why not offer some constructive criticism ? Why not offer some suggestions?" It is difficult for one who is not in control of the Treasury to offer constructive criticism, because many items with which we may all agree may yet be capable of much reduction and yet produce the same result. I shall, however, offer one or two suggestions for the cutting down of expenditure. I am sure the Treasurer will be glad to have some suggestions on those lines. I observe some items in the Budget that might well be cut out. There is, for instance, an item of £32,000 for salaries, publicity expenses, k, of the Australian organization in connexion with immigration. I would cut out that item. I would also cut out the item of £40,000 for salaries, advertising, &c, in connexion with the organization in London for immigration purposes, and a further sum of £200,000, representing the passage money for assisted immigrants. These three items make a total of £272,000 which might well be cut out» of the Budget Seeing that we have something like 35,000 registered, unemployed in Australia at the present time,, in addition to thousands . of unemployed who have not registered, we might well do away with this expenditure. The honorable member who said " Hear, hear," when I referred, to the expenditure of £272,000 in connexion with immigration should visit the Labour Bureau and see the number of immigrants who are being sent away to work in country districts for a few shillings per week. He should visit the buffet at St. Kilda-road and see what a large number of returned soldiers are rushing it for a free meal. Before we expend £272,000 on immigration we ought to do justice to our own people. I have some other suggestions to make as to the way in which considerable savings might be effected. It is about time that the Federal Government took a firm grip of the question of the duplication of State and Commonwealth Departments. We could have no greater admission of weakness on the part of a Government than the statement that they can do nothing with the States in this matter. {: .speaker-KJM} ##### Mr Jackson: -- Is not the honorable member aware that it is. the States that will not " line up "f {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- That is the greatest admission of weakness that an apologist for the Government could make. The Government has .the power to make the States "line up." {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- How can it do so? {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- I am not in the habit of making statements that I cannot prove. The Commonwealth Government have no constitutional or statutory obligations to pay £7,000,000 to> the States per annum as it is now doing, and the States should be told by the Commonwealth Government that if' they are going to pursue a wasteful policy of duplication and !be guilty of other extravagant acts, which I shall enumerate, the revenues of the people whom this Parliament represents shall not be available to them. {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- But the Commonwealth gets all its revenue from the States. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- Not from the States, but from the people of Australia. We represent exactly the same people that the State Parliaments represent. At the present time there is a duplication of land and income taxation, stamp duties, and ' death duties. We have duplication of the electoral rolls in most of the States, duplication of statistics, duplication of Governors, and, to a large extent, duplication of the Judiciary. {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- There is no duplication of Governors. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- We have seven Governors for 5,500,000 people, and in that respect we are the laughing-stock of the rest of the civilized! world. {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- Would the honorable member take away all the rights of the States ? {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- Does the honorable member say that it is the right of the States to waste public money on the duplication of services, and on fripperies * such as those associated with State Governors? I stand for the people's rights. When this Parliament, in 1910-11, established the Commonwealth Bank for the benefit of the people, there were many who criticised that institution as useless and unnecessary. {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- It hae been of no use to the small man - to the small land-owner. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- Will the honorable member say that it has been of no use to the people of Australia? {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- It has been no use to the small land-owners, although the Labour Government said it would help them. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- The Commonwealth Bank has made a direct profit of £4,000,000, which, but for its establishment, would have gone into the pockets of a few shareholders in private banking companies. It has floated war loans for a commission of 5a. 9d. per cent., whereas,, before the war., the private banks and brokers were charging an average of £2 7s. Id. per cent, commission, and would probably have doubled their rates during the war period. Even taking the pre-war brokerage rate, the Commonwealth Bank, in this- matter alone, has saved the people £6,000,000. **Mr. Bell.** And it has invested money outside Australia. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- That is where the private banks invest their money. The biggest private banks carrying on business here have their head office in London, and that is where most of their profits are spent. And yet we have members of the Australian Parliament standing up for the private banks - some of them foreign institutions - and decrying the bank which belongs to the Australian people. The honorable members to whom 1 refer, represent the people in power in some of the States. They belong to the same party as do some of the State Governments which are deliberately boycotting the Commonwealth Bank. {: .speaker-KJM} ##### Mr Jackson: -- The honorable member is wrong. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- I am not. There are some exceptions. The Tasmanian and Queensland Governments are not boycotting the Commonwealth Bank, but a persistent boycott has been carried on by State Governments which are obeying the behests of the crowd that ordered the Commonwealth Government to sell the woollen mills. I think the Federal Government is entitled to. say to the State Governments, ' ' Here is a bank which belongs to the people of Australia, whom you represent. This bank is making a profit which will help the people of this country to redeem the national debt. You are handling the money of the people and are depositing it witu private banks - some of them foreign institutions - and so helping them to make profits which will be spent by shareholders, and not altogether to the benefit of the people of Australia." {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- The small land-owners cannot get a penny from the Commonwealth Bank.. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- When the honorable member for Werriwa moved in this House to extend its operations to rural credits, he met with the opposition of the Government and its supporters, but was supported by the Labour party. A Labour Administration established the Commonwealth Bank, and was just getting the Bank "on its feet," so to speak, when it was defeated. During the financial year 1913-14, an Honorary Minister in the Fusion Government, which succeeded the Labour Administration, stumped Australia slandering the Commonwealth Bank. {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- The honorable member is slandering the States. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- No, I am merely criticising State Governments who boycott this institution. {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- Name them. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- To begin with, I shall name the Governments of Vic-' toria and New South Wales. The Victorian Government is handling millions of money belonging to the people and is employing nine private banks to carry on its financial transactions. Four of them have their head offices in London, and have for the most part foreign shareholders. Not one penny of the dividends they receive goes to the people of Australia. In addition to State Governments quite a number of municipalities, water commissions, harbor trusts,, boards of works, and sewerage bodies boycott the Commonwealth Bank. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWilliams: -- Is it not a fact that when the Commonwealth Bank was unwilling or unable to do their business these bodies had to go to other banks? {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- I do not know of any case in which the Commonwealth Bank was unable to do their business, but 1 know that it is a class of business the Bank has been most eager to secure, and has been unable to get. The Commonwealth Government, instead of trying to get business for the Bank from these public bodies, which are boycotting it in the interests of the big-moneyed concerns of this country, neglects to use the power it already possesses to tell the State Governments that their boycotts should cease, and that they must instruct their subsidiary bodies also to cease boycotting the Commonwealth Bank. Seeing that the £7,000,000 we pay to the States each year is subject to any conditions we may seek to impose, we have the power to tell the States that the duplication of expenditure and the consequent waste of public money must cease. It is our duty as custodians of the public purse to see that this duplication of expenditure and boycott should come to an end. If the Government want to square the ledger they should be extending profit-making public concerns instead of selling them. For instance, they should be carrying out the policy of extending the Commonwealth Woollen Mills as they set themselves out to do a year ago when they proposed to duplicate the plant. Instead of selling the mills they should be establishing scores of similar works throughout Australia. The Clothing factory, which has made considerable profits, should also be extended. The Harness Factory is well equipped, and had a splendid staff; it was started in peace times with eighty men, and although I would not expect the staff to be maintained at its full war-time standard, I maintain that it should not be wiped out of existence simply because the Government will not compete with private enterprise, despite the fact that the factory was capable of, earning profits, and was thus helping to reduce the indebtedness of the nation. All of these factories have been successful, and yet they are to be parted with at the instance of private profit-making concerns. Again, a vast field of social reform and sound financing is open to the Government if they would set on foot a national insurance scheme which they have the power to do. The Queensland Government has already initiated such a scheme with marked success, and in Victoria it has been attempted on a limited scale in connexion with the Workers' Compensation Act, with the result that the premiums have been reduced by 50 per cent. But most public bodies boycott the Victorian Government Insurance Office. {: .speaker-KIT} ##### Mr Mackay: -- In Queensland insurance with the State office is compulsory. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- The right thing was done in Queensland, and the Victorian Government should have followed the same course instead of sending out an army of officials to gather in business. Under a compulsory scheme of insuring with the State office, the premiums would have been collected as cheaply as the income tax is collected. The policy of the Government should be to provide the cheapest cover of insurance at a minimum of cost, and that can only be secured by eliminating the wastage that now goes on through the payment of agents' commissions. There is a big field open to the Government in this direction. A national insurance scheme covering almost every ill, providing not only for sickness and accident, but also against unemployment and old-age, if adopted would enable us to provide at considerably reduced premiums for all the disabilities suffered by the community. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWilliams: -- The (honorable member is on a better wicket now. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- It is amusing to find honorable members agreeing to some socialistic principles and decrying others. As a matter of fact the principle which underlies a national insurance scheme is the same as that which underlies national banking, Government Woollen Mills, or Government Clothing Factories. The principle is the collective organization of the people, and, undoubtedly, the world must progress along the lines of the policy which has been enunciated by the Labour party. I do not wish to delay the Committee at this stage, although there are a number of matters I could touch upon. But I must say that when the Government pretend that they are reducing taxation, and are merely taking the amount out of a trust fund, they are abusing the meaning of the word when they call it economy. If they expect to secure support at the election because they have remitted taxation, the people will have to be told that this remission of taxation has only been brought about by depleting every Trust Fund that has accumulated in past years. If the Government are to be judged on their financing they must stand condemned in the eyes of the people. {: #subdebate-19-0-s5 .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr LAIRD SMITH:
Denison -- I hope that in the next Parliament some arrangement will be made to avoid such long sittings as we have had this week. Honorable members come to the House about 10 o'clock in the morning, and remain sitting until late at night, and sometimes until the early morning. No one can stand much of this; the strain is dreadful. I would not have been speaking at this late hour but for the fact that I was desirous of enabling Queenslanders who had given way to me when I wished to speak on the Public Service Bill and on the Superannuation Bill to speak on a most important matter concerning their State to-day. I wish to direct the attention of the honorable member for Yarra to a long article appearing in *The World* of the 10th inst. It is an able article, written by **Mr. Holloway,** of the Trades Hall, Melbourne, and states very clearly the difference between the Labour party as it was from 1901 until 1916, and the Labour party of to-day. It is a reply to a **Mr. Watson,** who had defended the party as it was when I and others of this Parliament belonged to it, and is the first honest and clear statement I have yet read as. to the aims and objects of the Labour party of to-day as compared with those of the party as it was a few years back. I hope it will be read by every one. Had the honorable member for Ballarat **(Mr.** McG-rath) read it I am sure he would not have called the Assistant. Minister for Repatriation **(Mr. Hector Lamond)** a Labour "rat," or used that abusive language which is constantly applied to those who have never departed in one iota from the platform to which they subscribed, and which still finds a place in Commonwealth law to-day. **Mr. Holloway** has pointed out, that six of the planks of the platform to which v.e subscribed have never been repealed. I shall carry a copy of this declaration with me during the election campaign, and I feel sure it will be useful. The honorable member for Yarra **(Mr. Scullin)** knows as well as I do why the Government abandoned their intention to extend the Commonwealth Woollen Mills. It was because the Military arrangements for the defence of Australia suddenly changed in common with those of other countries, with the result that it was impossible to place* the output of those mills, unless great warehouses were opened in every big city of Australia. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- And the States insisted on buying from their own people. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr LAIRD SMITH: -- Of course, they would not buy from the Commonwealth. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- And State Labour Governments were very strong in their views in that respect. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr LAIRD SMITH: -- I am glad that the Postmaster-General has reminded me of that fact; it only shows that honorable members should be fair and should not exaggerate in the statements they put before the public. When we get on platforms we shall let the people know the true facts, I hope that honorable members will not indulge in accusations- such as those we have heard from the Leader of the Country party **(Dr. Earle Page):** He is a man for whose personality I have the greatest respect; in fact, to know him is to love him. But his politics are beyond my comprehension. Why he makes such "statements as he uttered to-night I do not know. There must be people who relate things to him and repeat them until he fully believes them. How could he compare Canada with Australia? In the Dominion the railways are operated by great companies, and the country is developed in an entirely different way. In fact, Canada adopts, to a large extent, the methods of its neighbour, the United States of America. The whole of the Public Service is not discharged after every election, but a big proportion of them may be displaced. In other ways the conditions are entirely different from those in Australia. The honorable member talked also of the great savings that were made in Great Britain. But he did not tell us that during the war the Imperial Government assumed control of the railways, and operated them at an enormous cost. During Government control all railway officials were treated as Government servants, but as soon as the war ended the railways reverted to private control, and the Public Service and Government expenditure generally were correspondingly reduced. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- He did not tell the . Committee that Great Britain spent £90,000,000 upon the unemployed. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr LAIRD SMITH: -- No. I do not advocate a general reduction in wages, because that policy is not economically sound. If all workers are receiving good wages nine-tenths of the money is spent in the community, and the business man and the producer benefit. If a man saves his money, and puts it into the bank, another man borrows it, and applies it to his industry. So how can the country suffer by paying a reasonable and just wage for a fair day's work ? The Nationalist party meets with a good deal of opposition, and is subjected to much criticism, but we need not fear either if we toll the people what has actually been done by the Government during the time they have been in office. Undoubtedly the last few years have been very trying to the Government, and, indeed, to every member of the House, and much of the criticism that is levelled against us in the press is quite unwarranted. If honorable members will read the biography of the late David Syme they will find that the late Alfred Deakin, in his introduction, wrote that the late **Mr. Syme** was so closely in touch with the Government of the State that he practically made Governments, and very often knew from the Premier more about State affairs than did other Ministers. Yet the journal which he established is constantly condemning " one-man Government," I must say that during the time I have been a member of the Nationalist party I have not seen any undue influence by the Prime Minister. In regard to the vote I gave to-night on the sugar question,how could I, as a Tasmanian, refuse to support an industry that meant so much to Queensland? I could not help remembering with gratitude the assistance which my own State has had from Queensland members. When the carbide industry, upon the establishment of which an enormous sum of money had been spent, was jeopardized by the dumping of foreign carbide, and we asked for increased protection, it was the users of carbide, principally Queenslanders, who came to our assistance. How, then, could I, as an honorable man, help to crush their sugar industry by allowing sugar grown abroad by coloured labour to be admitted upon terras which would enable it to compete with the produce of white Australian labour ? The attitude adopted by Victorian members was amazing. They supported a duty of £14 per ton on beet sugar, but they would not agree to a duty of more than £9 6s. 8d. on cane sugar. Their action was most unfair and ungrateful. {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- Will not the imported cane sugar compete with the beet sugar? {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr LAIRD SMITH: -- No. Why did the Victorians ask for such a high duty on beet sugar? {: .speaker-KDZ} ##### Mr Jowett: -- I have never heard any Victorian ask for it. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr LAIRD SMITH: -- There was only one serious opponent to the increase of the duty upon carbide, and he was the late **Mr. James** Page,whose death was mainly due to an all-night sitting such as that in which we are now engaged, and he was quite fair to us when we put the case before him. {: .speaker-K4M} ##### Mr ROBERT COOK:
INDI, VICTORIA · VFU; CP from 1920 -- I do not feel too well. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr LAIRD SMITH: -- I hope the honorable member's illness is not serious. The Leader of the Country party has talked a good deal to-night about economy, and has taken a great deal of credit to himself and his colleagues for what they have done. I rose particularly to draw the attention of the Minister for Defence to the following correspondencethat has reached me: - {:#subdebate-19-1} #### New Town, 18th April, 1922 {:#subdebate-19-2} #### Hon. W. H. Laird Smith, M.H.R., {:#subdebate-19-3} #### House of Representatives, Melbourne Dear **Mr. Smith,** - May I be permitted to bring to your notice the attached letter which appeared in the Melbourne *Argus* on the 12th instant. The point set out therein is one which is very keenly felt by the people affected thereby, and as oneof your constituents I would solicit your help, which has so readily been extended' in the past, in bringing this matter to the notice of the Minister : - To the Editor of the *Argus.* **Sir, -** MayI be permitted to bring to public notice the position that has arisen in connexion with the award of British war medals to certain members of the Permanent Forces and others who were retained by the military authorities on home service during the late war. Some eighteen months ago it was decided to make the award to those who fulfilled certain conditions re volunteering for active service, &c. Many of those who were eligible under these conditions - myself included - -felt that it was unfair to award the. same distinction as that given to men who had been away from Australia, although we had in some cases been called on to do very exacting and strenuous work. However, medals were awarded and names published in orders with permission to wear the ribbon. This naturally aroused the resentment of men who had seen service overseas, and forceful representations were made. New conditions were drawn up, medal Boards reassembled, and in the majority of instances the award has been cancelled. This has placed men who have been wearing the ribbon for twelve months in a most humiliating position. It is unquestionable that it was not proper to award the medal in the first instance to homeservice men, but the present decision is holding many men who did worthy service up to ridicule. It is suggested that in cases where men were retained in Australia and performed good service, the medal of the Order of the British Empire would have been a much more appropriate distinction, and may be the Government will see its way clear to make some such award to those from whom the privilege of wearing the more valuable ribbon has been withdrawn. - Yours, &c, {:#subdebate-19-4} #### Sergeant. 11th April {: #subdebate-19-4-s0 .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr LAIRD SMITH: -- I do not know. I was quite ignorant of the circumstances of the case I am placing before the Committee, and, consequently, I got in touch with as many returned men as possible in order to obtain their opinions. Not one of these men objected in the least to some distinctive mark being granted to those who had desired to go abroad but were retained here. I have interviewed Defence officers, and have seen the Minister, but nothing appears to have been done in die matter. I suggest that the Minister have an interview with a representative from the returned soldiers and one of the men on whose behalf I have spoken, in order to devise some means of getting over this trouble. Before I sit down I should like to express my deep regret at the enormous reductions proposed in the Navy. This branch of our Defence Forces has been worked up to a point of high efficiency, and I sincerely hope that there will be no further interference with it. We have an immense coastline of about 12,000 miles to protect, and to look after in the matter of surveys and bo forth, and the Government would be well advised to retain and keep in commission the vessels they possess, and in conjunction with them work our Aerial Force. This would go far to insure the protection of our coasts. {: #subdebate-19-4-s1 .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING:
Robertson -- I cannot promise to be brief, though I should not have risen but for the fact that the Leader of the Country party **(Dr. Earle Page)** has not been treated to-night with that courtesy which is usually conceded to leaders in this Chamber. Never before have I seen a leader of a party, when dealing with important matters like the Budget, denied the privilege of an extension of time. But on more than one occasion that honorable gentleman has been rather badly served in this way. He was blocked on the Address-in-Reply, prevented from speaking fully on the sugar question, and now, when dealing with the Budget, which covers the whole of the Commonwealth activities for the year, he is denied a privilege which is very often extended, not only to leaders, * but to private members. It is for that reason that I feel it essential to supplement his remarks. It would seem that one member of the Ministry, at any rate, has a deadly fear of the honorable gentleman's criticism of the Government, for he never misses an opportunity of closing his mouth. I do not blame the Treasurer **(Mr. Bruce')** at all, for I have never seen him act in that way, and I hope I never shall. Une may well ask why it has bean found necessary by the Government to force the Budget through. If the Budget is all that the Government claim it to be, surely it could have been brought before the House and dealt with in a proper and thorough-going fashion. It is, of course, quite impossible to give it the attention it deserves under present conditions; and the fact that we are here at this hour dealing with such a matter, is only one more evidence of the unfair manner in which the present Ministry treat honorable members. Much, I think, would be gained if we returned to the common amenities of public life and the ordinary methods of conducting public business. This Parliament has developed some very ugly tricks of " docking " members of what are usually considered to be their rights. The Prime Minister **(Mr. Hughes)** has, in my view, limited in every way the freedom of individual members, and it is because of this, and because of the way in which my Leader has been treated to-night, that I feel it necessary to deal with a few topics even at this unearthly hour. It is an unpleasant and dangerous thing to keep honorable members here day and. night. Some of us are sitting on Committees practically all the time we are not actually in the chamber; but we cannot allow those circumstances to interfere with the exercise of proper criticism of the affairs of State. I desire now to quote some remarks of a man in whom I have a good deal of confidence in connexion with the present position in Australia. I refer to **Sir Thomas** Henley, the' ex-Minister for Works in New South Wales - a man of wide experience, who has proved his value and ability to the community both here and overseas. Practically at the end of a valuable career, **Sir Thomas** made the remarks I am about to quote, at a time when, to use a common phrase, he had " no axe to grind." He said - >The Federal Government and our own State Government must face facts. The position is so serious that the State Government will of necessity require to get some relief from Federal domination, this particularly in regard to coal control, high protective Tariff, and industrial interference. Here **Sir Thomas** mentions the gravest difficulties that we have in Australia today, and the heaviest burdens that have been imposed on the people. The coal control is a most serious fact in the industrial situation. All interested in Australia, as we are, are well aware that there is a vast amount of unemployment in New South Wales, and Australia generally. There should be no unemployment in a young and vigorous country like this. The basic causes are the interference by the Government with free trade in, and the production of, coal; the high protective Tariff, and the way in which the Prime Minister has always handled industrial troubles. I have held for twenty years that the actions of the Prime Minister must sooner or later give rise to grave industrial turmoil. When a man perpetually foments discord it is inevitable that he should reap the whirlwind. **Sir Thomas** Henley went on to say - >Our primary industries are to-day being sacrificed to these causes. Construction costs for railways, bridges, and all that goes to the opening tip of a country, together with the cost of engines and other forms of implements and plant, are excessively high. If the Federal Government could be induced to join the State in relying more upon up-to-date manufacturing plant and efficiency rather than high Tariffs, all that goes to make transport cheaper would be possible. High prohibitive Tariffs to inflate industries in the large cities are retarding influences upon rural development - the products -of which have to compete in the open markets of the world. Unquestionably, the high Tariff has ruined the development of our primary production. Any one who goes through Australia can observe the effects of the high duties on wire, wire netting, and galvanized iron. In any part of Australia to-day where primary production is carried on, we may see. the retarding influences of the high Tariff. The high prices of wire netting, barbed wire, and galvanized iron have allowed two very bad pests to increase in many parts. In the western districts of New South Wales and in the western division of Queensland, holdings have been deserted because of the ravages of dingoes and rabbits. The Government interference in the coal business has been destructive to secondary industries in the same way as the high Tariff has been destructive to primary industries. **Sir Thomas** Henley proceeds - >My two months' close study of public works and railway construction and management more than confirm my long experience as a builder and contractor, and now, upon leaving office, compels me to speak plainly. In so doing, I shall, I hope, not be misunderstood, because I have only one interest to serve - the public good. We all believe that the safety and prosperity of our country are wrapped up in the profitable development of rural Australia, which is our declared policy of closer settlement. It will, therefore, be seen that the key to progress is cheaper railway construction and transport, together with cheaper agricultural machinery, all of which is incompatible with ever-increasing Tariffs. To this end, I am strongly of opinion that both Federal and State Governments should bend their energies and evolve some more equitable system than that which obtains to-day. Anything I can do to reconcile these forces and assist the Government in rural development, which I still believe to be the backbone of the country, will have all the strength I can give. Here is a man who has served his country long and well. On leaving that service he gives as his considered opinion the causes of our difficulties. The Tariff has not only interfered with primary production by permitting the development of pests, but it has led people into blind alleys and left them there. I have already impressed the Minister for Trade and Customs **(Mr. Rodgers)** with the seriousness of the position of certain new industries in New South Wales. I refer particularly to the essential oil industry which has been inaugurated in Gosford, in my electorate. {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGrath: -- I think there should be a quorum present. *[Quorum formed.]* {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- Under the protection afforded by the Tariff the company of. which I am speaking thought it would be safe to fairly establish itself. Large numbers of settlers and fruit-growers have been induced to take up small parcels of shares; and they, together with many others in the citrus fruit-growing districts of New South Wales, believed that their future was assured. The shareholders considered 'that the industry would be able to pay them a fair price - provided that it could carry on- for all the fruit which was not good enough for the market. . It was prepared to take the whole of the lemons which were beneath ordinary market standard, or the whole of the lemon crop when the fruit was below a paying price in theordinary market. Further, the company was ready to take and deal with all windfalls, and with inferior oranges. The growers realized that they would be able to sell their superior fruit for ordinary consumption, and that, instead of having to plough in their lemons and other fruit, as sometimes happened in previous years, they would be able to sell to the company at a price which would enable- them to pay current expenses. The company, at great risk, imported some of the essential oil plants from the other side of the world. It imported, and is growing, some of the best perfume-producing plants. Altogether, the industry, if properly developed, would have enabled attractive and healthy occupations to be found for thousands of women throughout Australia, who would be able to grow the plants from which perfumes are expressed. Such an occupation, I need scarcely add, would be infinitely preferable to life in a city office. Altogether, we looked forward to great development; and it seemed to be practically assured. The Government - and particularly the former Minister for Trade and Customs **(Mr. Greene),** and the present Minister **(Mr. Rodgers)** - were sympathetic and helpful. It was, without doubt, their full intention and desire to afford the industry every encouragement and assistance in getting a fair start. If it had been administered in a reasonable and sympathetic manner, the Tariff would have permitted the new industry to grow, and eventually prove of great value to the Commonwealth; but, owing to difficulties in administration, the company has had to close down. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The honorable member is asking for high protection for his industry, but he was not prepared to give it in respect of the sugar industry. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- I am only asking for reasonable administration in connexion with the Tariff. The rates of duty are high enough. Yesterday, I received the following telegram from the works manager at Gosford: - >Closed down works pending granting practicable protection for Australian essential oils. Whole of the fruit-growers are affected. This is a manufacturing industry which has very promising possibilities, but it has been compelled to cease operations just when it anticipated expansion all over Australia. Its doors have had to be closed because, somewhere, there is a lack of sympathy for this new development.. I again ask the Minister to see that the administrative difficulty is removed, so that the industry may be established soundly, both for the sake of the. settler shareholders and in the interests of citrus fruit-growers. I admit that I am a director of the company. I have informed both the former Minister for Trade and Customs and the present -Minister of that fact. But, as for the direct financial interests which I have in the concern, I may say that they count for almost nothing. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The point which the honorable member has raised is purely technical, and depends upon technical information and advice. The chief technical officer of the Department was sent to interview the manager, and, after they had conferred, some relief was afforded. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- It was only temporary, and the company was unable to carry on for very long afterwards. The result has been - even before the factory was compelled to close down - that, as it had to work on a reduced scale, tons of fruit have been left to rot in the orchards which otherwise would have been used. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I shall be glad to go into the whole matter again with the honorable member and see if any further relief can be given. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- I thank the Minister for his sympathetic suggestion. Another very serious matter to which I wish to refer .concerns the drift of the population from the country to the cities. I am afraid that the Australian people have not yet grasped the true seriousness of the situation. The Leader of the Country party **(Dr. Earle Page)** stated during tie debate that there was only one country town in New South Wales which has maintained its natural increase dur.ing the past ten years. That is the coal mining and manufacturing town of Lithgow. Surely it is a serious thing that in a State like New South Wales country districts should not be able to maintain their natural increase. There are only two districts which have succeeded in doing this during the past decade. They are the Manning and Hunter, which include Newcastle, and the Riverina District, which embraces large irrigation works and takes the overflow from the people of the neighbouring districts of Victoria. There are parts of New South Wales which are capable of producing anything that man .may desire, and in which one would have thought that the conditions of life must 'be all that could be desired. In these areas, large estates have been cut up; and one would think, from 'a cursory view of the countryside, that it was thriving. I have one such area particularly in mind. I know Australia fairly well, and I can say that there are few other parts which can be said to foe more attractive than the one of which I speak. Yet, within its boundaries there are some hundreds of people less than ten years ago, despite the fact that almost half of the large estates have been cut up. Not only has it lost its natural increase, but it has lost some of the population which originally settled there. When one deals with districts which are not so agreeable to live in, the position is shown to be even, worse. I was brought up in the western districts of New South Wales. The number of the people- there to-day is less by thousands than when I was a boy. The position is most serious. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- What is the reason? {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- Lack of sympathetic consideration for the man on the land. I attribute it partly to over-taxation and to the unreasonably high cost of materials the settlers have to use. Owing to the high price of netting and barbed wire the dingoes- {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- That is a recent matter. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- It is not. Nearly thirty years ago I shot the first rabbit that was ever seen on one of the best areas in the western division of New South Wales. Owing to the cost of netting being reasonable in the early days, we were able to net our lands and so control the rabbits out there; but of recent years the price of wire netting and barbed wire has been so hi eh that the rabbit and dingo proof fences have been allowed to fall into disrepair, with the result that the rabbits and dingoes have overrun large areas out west. That is one reason why the people are forsaking the land. In addition to that, there is the trouble which arises from over-taxation. Much excellent land has also been overrun by prickly pear. Inducements for men to keep the country clear and to get rid of the prickly pear are not offered by the Government. The taxation of the men who have cleared the lands I have in mind is so heavy that they find it is not worth while going -on. The lack of consideration extended to these men, and the hardships which taxation imposes upon them, make it not worth their while to go on with the job. I referred recently to the case of a man who took up a lease out west and scent twelve years in improving it. At the end of that period he ' sold for an amount that returned him a little over £2,000. He received £5,000, but out of that amount had to pay off a mortgage amounting to £3,000. The Federal Government, however, made him pay income tax on the whole £5,000, on the basis of one year's profit. As a matter of fact, he had made a profit of only a little over £2,000, and that profit was made, not in twelve months, but in twelve years. It is that sort of thing that is driving men off the land. We must do away with the burden of taxation which is preventing men from developing the country, is breaking their hearts, and causing them to give up land settlement. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The chief factor which has been responsible for driving men off the land is to be found in the periodical droughts. New South Wales has been particularly unfortunate in that regard. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- It has not had. during the last ten years as bad a time as it had between thirty and forty years ago.' In those days, however, people were .going into the country and were encouraging their sons to take up land, whereas today people are flocking to our cities and. land-owners are trying to get their sons into professions or trades. The trouble is not a seasonal one. I wish it were, because the seasons change. The only other matter with which I wish to deal relates to the Post and Telegraph Department. I 'admit that the' present Postmaster-General **(Mr. Poynton)** has dealt with his Department quite reasonably, in some respects; but, to my mind, the whole position in regard to the Department is unsatisfactory. The Treasurer gave an address some time ago in which he quoted eleven articles of the correct principles of finance. The seventh article was that moneys required for capital purposes must be met out of the revenue savings of the people. If we accept this principle, it follows that the profits derived from the Postal Department should be devoted to the construction of new works for that Department before loan moneys are used for that purpose. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- If that were done, it would be impossible for the Department to put forward such a programme as I have submitted. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- During the last six years the Postal Department has made a profit of £5,057,0.51, out of which it has expended on .new works only £2,788,718. Postal profits taken by the Treasury (during that period amount to £2,162,333. That money has gone into the general revenue, and has been expended on various schemes. In addition to that, the Postal Department has contributed to the general revenue, by way of war tax, £1,407,207. The total taken by the Treasury from the profits of the Postmaster-General's Department for this period is thus £3,569,540. During the whole of this period the postal and telegraph facilities have been neglected, and, on the Government's own admission, four years of arrears have been allowed to accumulate. Unfortunate women and children in the bush cannot be placed within reasonable access of medical attention, and even suburban services have been seriously restricted. I think that the Postmaster-General is doing something to relieve the position, but the figures I have quoted show that there has not been any true conception of a proper development of the postal, telegraph, and telephone services throughout Australia. These, above all services, should not be expected to return a profit. Every penny made by the Department should be expended on its development. There may come a day - I am afraid it 13 a long way off - when Australia will be properly supplied with these conveniences. There is no necessity for me to tell the Committee how essential the services of the Department are to life in the backcountry, or how essential they are to business. The motor car and the telephone are alone inducing the people to remain in many out-back districts of Australia. If those two facilities were taken away, the drift to the city would be even more alarming than it is. We cannot ask the Government to do anything in the way of providing motor car services, although they might very well reduce the duties on motors of the class generally used in the bush; but we can ask them to make full use of .the telephone and telegraph services. We car well ask them to devote all the money earned by the Department to the further development of its services, and, in that way, to further safeguard women and children in the back-country who are out of reach of medical assistance. We can ask them, also, to see that the Postal Department is developed on proper lines. Every new telephone line, telegraph line, and mail service established in Australia means increased business for the whole of the Commonwealth. It means increased safety for those in the immediate vicinity of such services, and increased development and production for Australia as a whole. I can assure the Committee that within the last few years there has been a tendency, in some of the outlying districts of the Commonwealth, to go back on the services that have existed for many years. I have in mind a district on the border of Queensland and New South Wales, where a mail service which had been established for nearly forty years was suddenly suspended. There had been no decrease in the population along that mail route, but, without reason, the service was discontinued. The people along the route applied for its resumption, bus met with a refusal, and it was only when I went to the Postmaster-General and1 told him what I personally knew about the district that the service was restored. Had there been no one with a full knowledge of the facts to intervene, these people would have lost a mail service which had been in existence for something like forty years. It seems to me that this is a sufficient condemnation of the way in which the country is being managed. The primary production of Australia is being stifled. People are being taken away from healthy occupations in rural districts to settle in our cities. The Postal Department, which more than any other makes for the comfort and safety of the people in the bush, is being- starved and made to contribute to the general revenue. The time has arrived when this Australia of ours must reconsider her policy. We must come down to bed rock. We must realize that it ia only by encouraging the great primary industries of Australia - that it is only by giving the people inducements to go out and add to the production of Australia. - that we can bring- ourselves back to safety. {: #subdebate-19-4-s2 .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS:
Franklin -- In view of the promise made by the Prime Minister **(Mr. Hughes)** last session, 1 thought that we should never again have a political debauch such as we are having to-night. The Treasurer has brought down one of the most important Budgets ever submitted to this Parliament, and we are expected, during what is practically the last night of the session, to deal with it. Its consideration has been purposely delayed to avoid criticism. I tell the Treasurer, however, that even if the Estimates are not criticised here, they will be criticised freely outside. There is one matter to which I desire at the outset of my remarks to refer, and it is an extremely unpleasant one. I have been in politics for a quarter of a century, but never before have I known the Leader of a party in a House of Parliament to be refused an extension of time in order that he might complete his speech on a Budget. In no other Parliament in the British Empire would the Acting Leader of the House object to the Leader of another party criticising his Government. We have witnessed tonight a most disgusting exhibition, and if the Acting Leader of the House is not ashamed of his action in refusing the Leader of the Country Party an extension of time, I am satisfied that threefourths of his party are. {: .speaker-KZC} ##### Mr Hector Lamond: -- The honorable member cannot refer to a Leader of any party in the House of Commons who, within the last few years, has occupied an hour and a half in discussing a Budget. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS: -- If the Leader of the Country party transgressed any of the rules of the Committee, then the Chairman was to blame. If Ministers expect the ordinary courtesies of Parliament and of gentlemen to be extended to them, then the Acting Leader of this House must set a good example. I do not intend at this hour to attempt any serious criticism of the Budget. It would be farcical to do so. We have been sitting continuously for sixteen hours, and the Government have deliberately withheld the resumption of the Budget debate until the last moment in order to prevent its proper criticism. {: .speaker-KFP} ##### Mr Richard Foster: -- That is not true. {: #subdebate-19-4-s3 .speaker-JMG} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Atkinson: -- The honorable member must withdraw that statement. {: .speaker-KFP} ##### Mr Richard Foster: -- I withdraw it. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I also ask that the honorable member for Franklin **(Mr. McWilliams)** be called on to withdraw the statement that the Government have deliberately kept back the Budget in order to avoid criticism. {: #subdebate-19-4-s4 .speaker-JWY} ##### The CHAIRMAN (Hon J M Chanter: -- The honorable member will kindly withdraw that remark. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS: -- If I am asked to do so, I will; but as the Government control the business of the House, and seeing that the Budget was delivered weeks ago, if they did not deliberately hold up the debate upon it, who else could have done so ? The surplus shown in the Budget has been produced in an exceedingly simple way, namely, by spending less money than usual out of revenue and more out of loan. All that the Treasurer had to do was to take more out of loan and less out of revenue and he could have shown any surplus he liked. One most serious feature of the Budget is the utilization as revenue of the profit earned by the Australian Notes Fund. I was in this Parliament when the Australian Notes Act was passed in 1911, and the deliberate pledge was given by **Mr. Andrew** Fisher, the then Leader of the Government, that the money earned by the issue of Australian notes would never be used as revenue. **Mr. Fisher** explained that, owing to certain excess payments having to be made to the States, it was his intention to borrow from the Notes Fund for six months the money required; but he said that it would be paid back from revenue within six months. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- Did he ever do it? {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS: -- Yes. I can quote what **Mr. Fisher** said. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- Part of what he said. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS: -- Yes ; but it is the part that deals with the matter. **Mr. Fisher** said - >I am clearly of opinion that the Treasurer ought to have authority to temporarily deposit in a bank the moneys raised thereunder, because, obviously, we shall have to accumulate funds before we can buy stock for such an amount as will enable us to deal profitably. > >Some honorable members, I know, have the idea that the moneys to be derived from the issue of Australian notes ought not to be lodged in a bank. ... I think we are all agreed that the *money* should be used in the redemption of the Australian notes. The policy of the Government, I repeat, is to use some of the moneys temporarily in order to get over a financial difficulty at the end of the year. Those who were in. the House in 1911 will remember that about then there was a considerable payment due to the States under certain provisions of the Constitution which were still in force at that period. {: .speaker-KJM} ##### Mr Jackson: -- Did the honorable memberbelieve that **Mr. Fisher** intended to put the money back into the Fund? {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS: -- Yes. Although I sat in opposition to **Mr. Fisher** for the whole time he and I were in this Parliament, I would accept his word as quickly as I would accept the word of any other honorable member in this House. I have never heard of any . one associated with him who would not have done so. I appeal to those honorable members of the present Government who were associated with **Mr. Fisher** to bear me out in saying that his word could be relied on. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- But did he do what he promised to do? {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS: -- First let me finish this quotation, because it deals with the point I want to make. **Mr. Fisher** said - >That amount will have to be recouped to the Commonwealth in the succeeding six months of the financial year. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- But did he do it? {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS: -- As the honorable member was a colleague of **Mr. Andrew** Fisher, he ought to know what was done. The point I am making is that when the Bill was passed it was on condition that the profits arising from the issue of notes should be used as a sinking fund for the redemption of the notes or for the reduction of the Commonwealth's indebtedness. **Mr. Fisher** went on to say - >For all practical purposes it would be a loan from this fund to the Consolidated Revenue for the time being, to be repaid during the next six months. The party of which I was then a member, and of which the Deputy Leader of the. House **(Mr. Greene)** and the AttorneyGeneral **(Mr. Groom)** were also members, supported an amendment moved by **Mr.** Edwards to delete the clause which enabled the Government to deal with the fund, and thus make it compulsory for all time that the profits arising from the notes issue should be applied to the liquidation of the notes themselves. That amendment was defeated by nine votes, but no one spoke upon the matter more strongly than did the Attorney-General **(Mr. Groom),** who said - >I should like the Treasurer to make it clear in the Bill to be introduced later that the money deposited for the notes, and which is to be used for revenue, will subsequently be paid into a trust fund. That promise was given, and any one who reads the debates will see that the only consideration on which the Bill was accepted was that the Notes Fund was to be used for all time for the liquidation of the notes themselves or for the reduction of the Commonwealth's indebtedness. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- And the honorable member has not raised any objection since then. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS: -- Because I do not think any Treasurer prior to this has taken money from the fund and utilized it for revenue. When the Bill was passed deliberate pledges were given by the then Government that the profits arising from the notes issue would be placed in a sinking fund for the purposes I have mentioned, and it is dangerous finance to use them as ordinary revenue. For some time past I have complained that the Commonwealth Government Line of Steamers has practically joined the Shipping Combine. Instead of assisting in reducing rates of freight between Australiaand England, the Commonwealth steamers have beenrather the means of preventing any reduction from being brought about. A statement I got quite recently from the Wheat Board shows that, although they shipped last year's wheat by some seventy-five bottoms, only three vessels of the Commonwealth line could be engaged, owing to the fact that our vessels were charging 5s. per ton mora than was) being charged by any other line, although at the same time our boats were running practically empty, and some of them were even lying idle in Australian ports. The Wheat Board gave the Commonwealth ships first call always. We have heard the honorable member for Yarra **(Mr.** Scullin) complain that the States and their instrumentalities will not utilize Commonwealth organizations. Let me point out that the Commonwealth Government Line of Steamers, by charging higher rates of freight than are obtainable from other lines, have made it impossible for their vessels to be used. In conjunction with the Combine, they were charging 6s. per bushel freight on fruit shipped from Australia to England, but, when, owing to the discovery that it was impossible to ship peare in bushel cases, the fruitgrowers decided to use what they call trays, three of which go to the bushel measurement, they charged an extra 6d. per bushel. There was only one other line of steamers that followed their example. All other lines trading between Tasmania and Great Britain continued to charge 6e. per bushel. If we expect Commonwealth utilities to be used, the Commonwealth Line of Steamers must first break away from the Combine. It is useless for the management *to* say there is no Combine. Except in the instances I have mentioned, I have not been able to find any difference between the freights charged by our steamers and those charged by what are usually known as the Conference Line. The Prime Minister, in his policy speech at Bendigo on 6th October, 1919, said- Seven million tons of British ships lie at the bottom of the sen. Who owns the other seven million tons? This is controlled by a Conference. Youcan call it what you "like, but I call it a Combine, and it is not controlled in your interests, but in theirs. This Combine is able to say where practically every ship over 1,600 tons flying the Britishflag shall go, and they go where they can get wheat at world's parity. They can get that in Argentine, because there is no competition there, but we have competition here in an aggregate of 200,000 tons, and as we keep freights down, so must this Combine keep theirs down. The c.i.f. and world's parity are nothing to the farmers, but trade and finance are. The whole question of wheat and the farmer is that of freight. You are up against that shipping trust and credit. Notwithstanding that policy, declaration by the Prime Minister, the Commonwealth Line has done absolutely nothing to reduce the freight on produce between Australia and Europe. On the contrary, I have shown that it has deliberately charged more than the Shipping Combine. I voted quite recently for the sale of the Geelong Woollen Mills. I did so reluctantly, because I believe that the woollen mill was the most successful of all the socialistic ventures inwhich the Commonwealth has engaged. {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGrath: -- Shipping has been a financial success. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS: -- I am afraid that is not so. I voted for the sale of the Geelong Woollen Mills because I believed it. was the beginning of a. general policy by which the Government would rid itself of trading enterprises. {: .speaker-KFF} ##### Mr Foley: -- How did the honorable member vote on the proposal last session to sell theCommonwealth Line of Steamers ? {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS: -- I do not remember, but I will vote now for the sale of the Commonwealth Line, because I believe that instead of helping to reduce freights it has kept them up. {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGrath: -- The honorable member's party is opposed to him in that regard. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS: -- The farmers'' conference did carry a motion in favour of the retention of the Commonwealth Line of Steamers, but on the floor of this House I recognise no conference. My duty is to my constituency, to Australia, and to my own conscience. I did believe that the Commonwealth Line would be the means of reducing freights. Only within the last few months have I found out that it has had the opposite effect. In respect of the carriage of both wheat and fruit, the charges of the Commonwealth Line have been higher than those of competing lines, and instead of helping the producers it has penalized them. I am sorry to say that letters which have been shown me from passengers on the Commonwealth ships indicate that there is some truth in the complaint of lack of discipline on them. One lady wrote advising her sister Dot to travel to England' by a Commonwealth ship because her own experience had been unsatisfactory. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr Cunningham: -- That could be said of private lines, too. {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGrath: -- Did she advise her sister to travel by a Japanese or German boat ? {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS: -- No. I think she and her sister would always prefer to travel under the British flag if they had the chance. I anticipated that the Commonwealth Line of Steamers, when it was first formed, would be of inestimable value to the producers. But I find? that it has linked up deliberately with the Combine, and where its 'freights are not the same, they are even higher than on other ships trading between Australia and England. It is not my intention to discuss the Budget at this hour. You, sir, have not allowed me to say that this debate has been deliberately held back by the Government, but it will take a great deal to convince the public that the remark for which I was called to order was not correct. {: #subdebate-19-4-s5 .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM:
Gwydir -- Like other honorable members, I regret very much that we are called upon to discuss such an important subject as the Budget in the last hours of the Parliament. Many Bills of little or no consequence have engaged the attention of members that could well have been deferred until the Budget had received consideration.. Having made a careful study of the present Government throughout the life of this Parliament, I think they might well be christened " the calamity Government." The Ministry is really a half-breed, a union of men with unbridled socialistic tendencies such as .the Prime Minister and a few others, whose enthusiasm got the better of their judgment a few years ago, and a band of reactionary Tories, who, seizing the opportunity to exploit the war hysteria of the people, allied themselves with the socialistic section I have mentioned to gain position and power. Like most half-breeds, the Government has inherited the bad points of both its parents and the good points of neither. Every enterprise Ministers have touched has been calamitous to the taxpayers, who finally have to foot the bill. In the Wireless Agreement there is a blending of Socialism with private enterprise. The Australian people socialistically find the money which private enterprise is to handle. It is a repetition of the story of the " mug " and the " crook." The Commonwealth had the money and the company the experience; soon the company may be expected to have the money and the Commonwealth the experience. That has been the result of every scheme with which the Government have been associated, largely because they are controlled by one egotistical Socialist, who, when he was a member of the Labour party, was hard to restrain, but who, since he 'has assumed the leadership of his present party, has had licence to do what he liked and spend what he liked, depending at all times upon the capacity of his followers to keep him in office. During the last few months there have been several exposures of the conduct of the Government, which I believe will assist in their undoing when they go before the electors. But those are not their only misdeeds that are on record. The Auditor-General's report for the year 1920 drew attention to the enormous losses incurred by the Commonwealth through contracts entered into in America with the Patterson McDonald Shipping Company, by the Prime Minister, on behalf of the Nationalist Government, for the building of wooden ships. No caution was exercised by him as to what the ultimate cost of the vessels would be, and the result was that, although the original contract provided that the cost should not be more than $1,500,000, it was revised and the ultimate cost was $1,780,000 for ten vessels, which were finally sold at a loss of £326,000. The Wallace Power Boat Company, in Sydney, contracted to build six wooden vessels for the Commonwealth. The cost of cancellation of the contract and the progress payments totalled £51,839. Another contract was made with Hughes, Martin and Washington, of Sydney, which resulted in a loss to the Australian people of £72,500. We cannot forget . the lamentable law case of *Merton* v. *Hughes,* the cost of which to the Commonwealth we have never been able to ascertain. That case was a result of the egotism of tho Prime Minister, and of his failing, which we know only too well, of allowing bis tongue to run away with his discretion. Then, there is the litigation in connexion with the wool-tops agreement, but we are unable under the circumstances to discuss it here, as the case is *sub judice,* beyond saying that it appears that the contracts were loosely drawn, and, consequently, capable of honest misinterpretation. We next recall the bungling and mismanagement of the Prime Minister in his sales of Austraiian wool to (he British Government. I have no hesitation in saying that, as a result of (hose sales, the wool-growers of Australia have lost many millions of money. One of the chief reasons why the people of Australia are crying out to-day about heavy war taxation is that the producers in Australia did not receive war prices for their produce, such as were received in New Zealand, South Af rica, and even in Great Britain itself. **Sir Joseph** Cook has said that the heavy debt on Australia is due to the fact that this country did " more than her fair share during the war." We sold our wool at a flat rate of1s. 3½d. per lb., and the loss sustained by the Australian grower did not benefit the British people as a whole. Much of the wool was sold to private speculators and spinners and weavers in France and Great Britain, so that our loss was not the gain, altogether, of our British fellow subjects. The profits went into the pockets of a few people, and that is why to-day we are under such a heavy burden of taxation, and why we have not the reserves of capital, which we should have gained during the war, to help us over this period of war taxation. Of course, there are many wool-growers who say that they are perfectly satisfied with the price that they received, but that is only because owing to the War Precautions Act information could not be given as to what was the real value of the wool. Much of the wool bought or acquired at 1s. 3½d. was subsequently sold at prices ranging up to 6s., and, when manufactured into tops, to 9s. per lb. The Government must be held responsible for having made this loss for the people of Australia. {: .speaker-L0I} ##### Sir Granville Ryrie: -- There is not a wool-grower who is not satisfied, and more than satisfied, with the1s. 3½. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- Those men were satisfied because of the comparatively low prices received previously, but the price they got was not as high as the wool-growers of Britain, South Africa, or Canada received. It did not compensate for the enormous expenditure we were incurring owing, to our participation in the war, and it explains why so many wool-growers are complaining now about excessive taxation. On the other hand, the Canadian receipts from overseas sales during the war balanced the war expenditure of the Dominion; and the people of Canada are in a much better position than we are, because business men, and not bunglers, were in control of their affairs. I venture to say that the most ardent supporter of the Prime Minister dare not stand up and maintain that he has a knowledge of proper business methods. He has involved us in litigation due to loosely-drawn contracts, and we have to take into account also the sparse legal knowledge he possesses. The adage that " A little knowledge is a dangerous thing" is particularly applicable to the legal profession, and the Prime Minister's lack of legal knowledge is responsible for thebungling in the sales and contracts I have mentioned. {: .speaker-L0I} ##### Sir Granville Ryrie: -- Of course, you know that the Prime Minister is a barrister. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- There are barristers and barristers, just as there are doctors and doctors; the fact that a man bears the stamp of a barrister does not constitute him a reliable legal authority. As a matter of fact, since the Prime Minister qualified, the regulations as to examinations have been tightened up considerably, so that at the present time it is a much more difficult thing to be called to the Bar. To constitute a legal authority requires years of practice and experience, and of these the Prime Minister has not had the advantage, for he has devoted his life to the altogether different line of politics. Of course, we know that his egotism leads him to believe that in this, as in everything else, he is the greatest authority. I have mentioned the Wireless Agreement, and now I have to refer to the Oil Agreement. Even a Tory paper like the Sydney *Daily Telegraph* has found it necessary, in the public interest, to publish a series of articles in order to expose the unfair deal represented in the Agreement into which the Commonwealth entered at the instigation of the Prime Minister. I ignore the other Ministers, because the Prime Minister absolutely rules the Cabinet, the others being cyphers. {: .speaker-L0I} ##### Sir Granville Ryrie: -- He does not rule me at all; let him try it on. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- He is only repeating what the press says. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- That is not so, for I am speaking from the experience of three years of Parliament. With all his faults, even the Prime Minister would not be guilty of what the Minister for Defence **(Mr. Greene)** did to-night to the Leader of the Country party **(Dr. Earle Page),** who may be the Prime Minister in the next Government. Events in "Mel- bourne during the last couple of days show that the great body of business men are waking up to the bungling mismanagement and incapacity of this Government. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The Leader of the Country party had spoken for an hour and thirty-five minutes, and I did not see the necessity for him going on. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- The Minister has never in like circumstances been denied the privilege, and, seeing that the Prime Minister had made a definite promise that there would be full opportunity to discuss the Budget, the least the Prime Minister's henchman could have done was to extend the usual courtesy to the Leader of the Country party. I can quite understand that those who are opposed to honorable members on this side will, when before the electors, endeavour to misrepresent what are the ideals and objects of the Labour party. We have always stood for living in peace with our fellow men of the world; we wish to develop our resources peacefully, and let the people of all other countries do likewise. Australia occupies an insular position, and she has no desire to acquire any other people's territory. There have been occasions in the past when private individuals engaged in the manufacture of munitions have not hesitated to sow the seeds of rancour between peoples; and have, in consequence, reaped enormous profits through the prosecution of warfare. In the past few weeks it has been shown that the Prime Minister is not as cautious as he might be in regard to committing this country to wai1. Let us remember hie reply to **Mr. Lloyd** George's hastily sent" message asking for assistance in connexion with the difficulty in the near East. The Prime Minister, without inquiring whether **Mr. Lloyd** George was right or wrong, immediately replied that Australia would, if necessary, engage in war. That was not the attitude of either the Prime Minister of Canada or the Prime Minister of South Africa, nor is it the attitude of the Labour party in Australia. Caution is supposed to be the prerogative of the Tory section which sit opposite, but it is only displayed in regard to their banking account, not in regard to human life except their own. We say that if there is any caution to be exercised in such a stupendous thing as war, it should be exercised before rushing blindly behind **Mr. Lloyd** George or any other man who is likely to let *hia* enthusiasm run away with his judgment. It is quite possible for a man like **Mr. Lloyd** George to have his vision distorted by reason of the great strain he has gone through in the past few years. Moreover, it is quite possible that parties to the national combine of munition maker* may pull the strings and precipitate a war which would involve, not only the British Empire, but the world, in calamity. Every .member of this House might well record his views on this matter, in order that the attitude we take up here may be universally know. The Labour party say that every possible avenue of reconciliation should be exploited before war is precipitated/ The Government have said, time and again, that they desire to bring about constitutional reform; yet nothing has been done. The activities of the Federal Government are hampered because of the clash of State and Federal authority. The Prime Minister has said, and continually repeats, that he is desirous of introducing constitutional reform. The Leader of the Country Party **(Dr. Earle Page)** waa promised that the Government would introduce a measure to refer proposed Constitution amendments to the people, so giving Parliament adequate opportunity to discuss the various proposals. It was expected, by probably every member of Parliament, that, at the forthcoming election, referenda would be taken upon this matter. There is great waste to-day because of the duplication of State and Commonwealth activities. And, since the object of the Federation was that Australia might become one nation and speak with one voice, I maintain that no opportunity should be lost of bringing about that desirable state. Powers are held by the States to-day which rightly belong to the Commonwealth. The framers of the Constitution thought that they had clearly provided for those powers to be held by the Federal Government; but the High Court has ruled otherwise. I believe that if the proposed amendments were placed before the people they would be very generally indorsed. We are handicapped, in various parts of Australia, by the inadequacy of rail communication - particularly, near to the State boundaries; and by the paucity of harbors. "We cannot establish more ports around our coastline because of the "pull" of the great coastal cities. If projects of this character were brought before the Federal Parliament for review and decision-, they would not be hampered by parochial considerations. The jealousies of States and of the various cities would not come so markedly into play, and there would assuredly be greater development of the ports of the Commonwealth. Sydney virtually controls New South Wales, and Melbourne prevents the opening up of additional ports along the Victorian coastline. I saw, when visiting Western Australia some time ago, a beautiful harbor site in the division of Kalgoorlie ; but it was not being utilized because of the influence of Perth and Fremantle. {: .speaker-KFF} ##### Mr Foley: -- The harbor to which the honorable member refers is now being opened up and developed. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- It should have been opened up thirty years ago. The wheat land behind the port would" then have been exploited and developed, and, as a result, there would have been thousands of settlers using the port for the transport of their produce; and, instead of Western Australia having a deficit year after year, the State would be forging ahead. Similar criticism, may be applied to New South Wales {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- What about Queensland? {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- Queensland is not so badly served. It has five or six ports along its coastline, and its railways have been constructed- at right angles to the coast rather than parallel with it. The district in which I was born affords an' example of the inadequacy of communication, and of the need for developmental services. I live, approximately, 120 miles from the coast. If I desire to ship goods they have to be sent inland, and after going 100 miles are further away from Sydney than when they started. In a direct line, my neighbourhood is 368 miles from Sydney; but the distance by rail is 509 miles. {: .speaker-KFF} ##### Mr Foley: -- Does the honorable member 'favour the idea of the Commonwealth taking over the railways? {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- Tes. Railways are a national utility; and, when considering .projects of such a character, one must bear in mind their possibilities under war conditions. The efficiency of the Commonwealth's railway services would be tremendously enhanced by the elimination of breaks of gauge. If, from thu beginning, Australia had had one controlling .authority in the matter of railway construction, we would not now be faced with the enormous task of bringing about unification. I think that there could be devised a practical scheme for the inauguration of unification. Trunk lines between the chief capitals should first he unified; but it would be bad business to scrap our rolling-stock forthwith, in view of the enormous debt which the Commonwealth had to incur in connexion with the war. I do not favour rushing blindly into the expenditure of large stuns of money. As a small landholder, and having worked practically all my life on the land, I have learned to be cautious. The fault of the Prime Minister is that, so long as he is free to do so, he will go right ahead with his projects, irrespective of cost. When the Government are compelled to keep within the four corners of an economical financial policy, there is trouble. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- I am spending millions upon postal services, and the honorable member has always advocated that I should do so. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- I have not asked for the expenditure of one penny which has not been more than justified. The Postmaster-General **(Mr. Poynton)** takes pride in the fact that he proposes to spend £9,750,000 in the next few years. The fact that it has become necessary to spend so much upon the services of the Postmaster-General's Department, in order to overtake the leeway, shows that the policy of the Government in. the past has broken down. The policy of those services is like the running of a lift in a tall business building. The lift does not' pay " on its own," but the building would be useless unless a lift were installed. People will not live in the back country unless we supply them with adequate mail and telephone services. These the people have a right to expect, and the Government that fails to supply them has not a proper appreciation of the functions of government. The Labour party has always been prepared to expend large sums of money in the provision of these very necessary services. At no period in the history of the Commonwealth were more telephone lines erected and more money expended in connexion with the Postal Department than during the *regime* of the Labour Government. When Labour went out of office the starving of the Department began, and it was starved to such, an extent that the Postmaster-General must now come forward with a costly scheme in the endeavour to catch up with, the arrears. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- The war had something to do with the trouble. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- It started before the war. I dare say the honorable gentleman will say that owing to the war supplies of material could not be obtained. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- There was a shortage, not only of material, but of money. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- This Parliament has never asked for a curtailment of the expenditure of the Department. The honorable gentleman will not say that mail services were cut down because of shortage of supplies due to war conditions. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- The)' were cut down very often because of a reduced train service. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- I know of mail services adjacent to railway lines that were cut down, although there was no alteration in the railway service. Many mail services were cut out because or the false cry for economy preached by the *Aye* and the *Argus,* lt is all very well for the city press, which has the advantage of a post-office " round 'the corner," to urge the reduction of these services, but we have to think of the people in the back country who have to submit to many inconveniences, and who should not be deprived of their only link with civilization. I have mentioned the bungling that has taken place in connexion with various contracts entered into by this Government. I could add to the list I have given. There are, for instance, the KidmanMayoh ships, and the contract for the building of wooden ships, the facts in relation to which have been fully placed before Parliament, by the honorable member for Dalley **(Mr. Mahony).** The Kidman - Mayoh death ships have also been dealt with at length by the honorable member for Hume **(Mr. Parker Moloney).** It 19 unnecessary, therefore, for me to say more than that, in connexion with the KidmanMayoh ship contracts, the Commonwealth has sustained a loss of upwards of £75,000. The wooden ships were con- (structed at a cost of £162,000 each, and five of them have been sold for £2,000 each. That surely is a, monument to governmental incapacity and mismanagement. We have in those cases an illustration of this Government at its worst. Mismanagement and bungling in connexion with such enterprises must bring about disaster, just as the bad management of private undertakings leads to bankruptcy. The Commonwealth Bank is a gigantic success because it is well managed. In the ranks of the Nationalist party there are men who would alter the management, aud whose ultimate object would appear to be the undermining and wiping out of the Bank. The Labour party wants the powers of that institution to be widened. On 2nd September, 1920, the honorable member for Calare **(Mr. Lavelle)** moved an amendment of the Commonwealth Bank Bill to the effect that the powers of the Commonwealth Bank be widened with a view to establishing it as a bank of issue, deposit, exchange,- and reserve, with nonpolitical management, and so as to provide for a comprehensive system of home loans and rural credits. The honorable member, in attempting to put the case for such an extension of the functions of the Bank, was " gagged," and not one member of either the Country or the Nationalist party voted with the Labour party on that great question. The Country party, knowing that we have never wavered in our hostility to the Government, refused to support a proposal by a member of our party that was calculated to be cf great benefit .to the settlers and wageearners of Australia. The Country party, because its Leader was "gagged " tonight, is angry, as it has a right to be; but when the honorable member for Calare was " gagged " while attempting to put the case for the extension of the operations of the Commonwealth Bank, so as to provide, amongst other things, for a system of rural credits., its members voted against us. Up to date the profit on the Commonwealth note issue, which was decried by the Tory reactionaries, amounts to £10,000,000. The Commonwealth Bank itself shows a profit of £4,000,000. Yet we are told that Labour is not to be given credit for having established these utilities. We stand, also, for national insurance, which this Government will not take up. The Prime Minister, in his policy speech at the opening of the last election campaign, promised that action would be taken by the Government to insure provision for old age. But nothing has been done. The Queensland State insurance system is one of the most striking examples of efficient management and of the wisdom of collective action that can bo quoted. In efficiency it is second only to the Commonwealth Bank. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr Prowse: -- Do not lay it on too thickly. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -The honorable member poses as an authority on insurance matters. Will he deny that the Queensland State insurance rates are lower than those of any private insurance company? Will he deny that the Queensland State insurance rates in regard to workers compensation are lower and the compensation higher than those of any private company? I would refer those who say we must have immigration for the settlement of this country to a statement made recently by the manager of, I think, the City Mutual Insurance Company, who said that if national insurance were adopted by the Commonwealth on lines similar to those followed by the Queensland Government, it would result in 50,000 additional men going into productive industry. He was referring to the army of canvassers employed by private insurance companies. Owing to the fact that such companies return very much less per £100 collected than does the Queensland State insurance scheme, they have to employ thousands of canvassers. They employ far more than are necessary in connexion with the State scheme under which every employer must insure those working for him. I had, some time ago, an example of the value of the State insurance scheme. A boy working for a contractor on the New South Wales side of the border was injured. The contractor wasa man of straw and the lad could obtain no compensation from him. On the Queensland side of the border, however, a boy lost his arm on the first day that he started to work, and he re ceived compensation from the Queensland State Insurance Office, notwithstanding that we had not had time to fill in the necessary papers and send them into the office. In Queensland, as soon as a man starts to work, he becomes automatically insured under the State insurance scheme. It is impossible to over-estimate the importance of such a system toworkmen, especially to those who may be working for men of straw or men who for some reason or other fail to insure their employees. It may be said that in the other States a worker who is injured may secure compensation by going to law. But what is the use of going to law with a man who has nothing? The Queensland Government Insurance Office, as I have said, automatically insures every man as soon as he starts to work, and if the Commonwealth Government had the welfare of the people at heart it would branch out in the same direction. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- Why did not the Labour Government bring in such a scheme? {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- Because, I suppose, there were amongst its members at the time men of the type of the honorable gentleman, who would, no doubt, be a "brake" on such a progressive policy. We are very disappointed that no provision has been made for increasing the invalid and old-age pensions. If economies were carried out in directions that might well be followed the old-age and invalid pensions could be so increased that the pioneers of this country would at least receive a pension sufficient to provide for their scanty needs. ' This they do not receive to-day. This Government is callous to the last degree in regard to, not only old-age pensions, but war pensions. Within the last few weeks a determined effort has been made by a Government supporter in another place to force the hands of the Government and to compel them to grant a reasonable pension to soldiers who have been incapacitated. I would particularly draw attention to the many hard cases amongst the returned men who were gassed. These men are treated most unsympathetically by the Medical Board. That Board is given a discretionary power under the amending Act. When that measure was before the House the Labour party vigorously opposed one of its provisions to the effect that if the Medical Board was of the opinion that the incapacity or illness of a returned soldier was not substantially due to warlike operations he might be deprived of his pension. The Leader of the Country party, as a medical man, will tell the Committee that many men who have been gassed may look all right to-day and yet be totally unfit to work to-morrow. I know a man who was gassed and who before the war was an excellent shearer. His pension has been cut down. He tries very hard to work, but the effect of the gassing on his system is such that while he may be quite well one day he is almost unable to move the next. There is no excuse for the Government in refusing to treat these men sympathetically. The extra cost would be very small. There is an enormous waste of expenditure in the duplication of Government activities, the keeping up of many useless Parliaments, the maintenance of State Governors, and the duplication of Public Services, such as the Electoral and Taxation Departments. Economy could be exercised in these directions. Some people believe that chaos would follow the abolition of State Parliaments, but that is because they are not yet prepared to trust the Commonwealth Parliament to legislate for the whole of Australia. When taxpayers are complaining of the hardships imposed on them by reason of the enormous increase in public expenditure and in the cost of government, both State and Federal, it is only right - to point out that a considerable reduction in expenditure could be brought about by the States handing over to the Commonwealth those powers which are essentially of a national character, and by carrying out the Labour party's policy of subdividing the States. Some of our friends in the Corner are very enthusiastic about the creation of new States. So are we. The principle which we advocate is to break down the vast territories controlled by the local authorities, which the State Governments really are. We believe that most of the powers enjoyed by the State Parliaments are of a national character, and that the remainder, which are of a purely local nature, could be delegated to provincial councils. Australia is the laughing-stock of the world, with its seven Parliaments, seven representatives of Royalty, and over 700 members of Parliament for a population of a little over 5,000,000 people. {: .speaker-K4M} ##### Mr ROBERT COOK:
INDI, VICTORIA · VFU; CP from 1920 -- There are good men in the State Parliaments. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- Certainly there are in those Houses which are elected by the people, but many in those most undemocratic Houses which are not elected by the people are not. No one has a right to legislate unless he has been elected by the will of the people. In Queensland, after lengthy litigation and deliberation, the Legislative Council, in pursuance of the Labour party's policy, has been wiped out, and now one Chamber accepts the responsibility of legislating for the whole State. There is no longer any opportunity in Queensland for a vacillating Government to submit legislation that it knows will be rejected by the Legislative Council. The Queensland Government, which deserve the thanks of the people of Australia for having taken the step of wiping out a reactionary Legislative Chamber, has shown one means by which the cost of government can be cheapened. Some people advocate the reduction of public servants' salaries, but the Labour party contend that the State should be ideal employers. A very severe test is imposed on all persons who enter the Public Service. They must be of excellent character. They must be possessed of an education above the ordinary; and, as in the majority of cases, we prevent them from doing other work, it is our duty to recompense them generously. No reduction in the cost of government should take place at the expense of those whom we induce to enter our service. A New South Wales anti-Labour Government once endeavoured to do so by withholding the increments to which school teachers were entitled. The result was that many school teachers left the Service, and to-day there are many persons who have grown up in the State without the education they should have received. It is false economy to endeavour to pay our public servants less than private employers will pay for men possessing ability. In a new country like this where we shall double the population in the next twenty years there are great opportunities for men with initiative, and private employers are only too thankful to get men from Government Services. I am sorry to see, although I expected it, that certain utilities established by the Labour Government, the Clothing Factory and theCommonwealthWoollen Mills, are to he disposed of, apparently at the behest of those who contribute to the party funds of the National Government. These people fear the prospect of the Commonwealth Government entering into competition with them, andas they pay the piper by providing funds for the National party they are calling the tunc by compelling the Government to get rid of such excellent investments which have saved the people enormous sumsof money. Riding breeches, which cost 30s. per pair at the beginning of the war when supplied by private firms, were produced by the Clothing Factory at l1s. 6d. per pair. The Woollen Mills have saved the country hundreds of thousands of pounds, and, at the same time, earned good profits. They have been able to sell their output at prices which the exploiting middleman in Melbourne could not touch. {: .speaker-K4M} ##### Mr ROBERT COOK:
INDI, VICTORIA · VFU; CP from 1920 -If the workers in theCommonwealth Woollen Mills have done so well why do they not buy them out? {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- The workers are doing this good work through the Government. {: .speaker-K4M} ##### Mr ROBERT COOK:
INDI, VICTORIA · VFU; CP from 1920 -- But the workers have lost £5,000,000 in strikes during the last few years. They have lost more money than it would cost them to buy out these mills. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- No doubt the honorable member is a most enthusiastic follower of **Mr. Lloyd** George, but has he ever attempted to arrive at the cost of the recent war, when men were engaged in destruction instead of following peaceful avocations? It is all very well for the honorable member to talk of the losses caused by strikes, but he must apportion the blame. Very often strikes are caused by employers. {: .speaker-K4M} ##### Mr ROBERT COOK:
INDI, VICTORIA · VFU; CP from 1920 -- I see that point. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- Efficient Government control is the highest form of cooperation. It means the doing of things by the people collectively which, individually, they are not able to accomplish. Owing to pressure brought to bear on the Government they would like to destroy the effectiveness of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court by the unsympathetic administration of the Justice who is President of that Tribunal, and by the appointment of a man like **Mr. Atlee** Hunt to arbitrate for the Public Service, and do everything to put the public servants in such a temper as will probably do more than would anything else to bring about industrial unrest. . On the Government rests the responsibility for preserving industrial peace, and they will be called to account by the people of Australia for any action which tends to result in an upheaval. Under **Mr. Justice** Higgins the Arbitration Court was a Court of conciliation and arbitration, but, rightly or wrongly, we declare that the present occupier of the position, the President of the Court, is a man who, unfortunately for the employees of Australia, has too narrow a vision, and is too inexperienced as a judge. {: #subdebate-19-4-s6 .speaker-KX9} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Watkins: -- The honorable member cannot reflect on a Justice of the High Court except upon a special motion. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- I have heard the Prime Minister referring to **Mr. Justice** Higgins in most scathing terms, and, as one who has worked in an industry in which his Honour kept industrial peace for a number of years, I thought that, at my rate, I might refute the right honorable gentleman's comments upon one who has done more than any one else to create respect for the Arbitration Court. Whether the Government are aware of it or not, for all practical purposes that Court is now dead, because no workers will approach it with any degree of confidence that they will receive justice. They believe that the Court is being administered unsympathetically. I could not take up any other attitude in regard to the matter, and if I cannot say here what I wish to say in regard to the gentleman who now occupies the position of President of the Court, I shall certainly say it outside. I warn those men who may not come into close contact with the wage-earners that for all practical purposes the Commonwealth Arbitration Court is dead, so that they may not be surprised if they find that it fails to bring about the results that they expect. It would be wrong for me to conclude without making reference to the plight of the primary producers, who have not received sympathetic consideration from the Government or a majority of the members of this Parliament. For instance, I moved last year an. amendment to the Income Tax Assessment Bill that involved a reduction of the burden of taxation in regard to the natural increase of stock. Honorable members in the Corner, who claim that they represent country interests, voted against my amendment. {: .speaker-K4M} ##### Mr ROBERT COOK:
INDI, VICTORIA · VFU; CP from 1920 -- Because a Royal Commission was inquiring into the mat- ter {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- A Royal Commission is not required to inquire into what everybody knows to be correct. The honorable member for Franklin **(Mr. Mcwilliams)** did mot wait for a Royal Commission to report. {: .speaker-K4M} ##### Mr ROBERT COOK:
INDI, VICTORIA · VFU; CP from 1920 -- That electioneering stunt will not go down in my electorate. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- One cannot refer to the misdeeds of the honorable member's party without being accused of engaging in an electioneering stunt. If the honorable member had only showed as much concern for the primary producers as he showed for keeping the Government in power, my amendment would have been carried, and many men upon) the laud would have been relieved of taxation amounting to hundreds of pounds. But the Country party failed miserably, because it decided in favour of this bungling mismanaging Government in preference to the primary producers. Honorable members in the Corner are continually saying, "Look at what we have accomplished." They have accomplished nothing. In the final, resort, the Prime Minister has always snapped his fingers at them. When they claim credit for having achieved some good, let them also accept responsibility for having kept the present Government in power. And what greater crime could they commit than to keep in office <a Government with such ;a long record of calamities? We need not wonder that the taxation is heavy when we know that the Government's blundering has resulted in the loss of millions of pounds in connexion with the sales of wheat and wool, the wireless agreement, and the shipbuilding, contracts. People like Kidman and Mayoh have waxed fat through taking advantage of the Government. Yet the members of the Comer party have always voted to keep the latter in power. As a political party they have failed miserably, having succumbed to the bluff of the Prime Minister on every occasion. It cannot be said that the Labour party was responsible for keeping the Government in office. We have been consistent in our hostility to the Government when the welfare of the people was concerned. On many occasions, reforms could have been carried in spite of the Government - in connexion with the Income Tax Assessment Bill, for instance - if honorable members in the Corner had merely indicated to the Ministerial Whip that they intended to vote against the Government. The Prime Minister would have climbed down, rather than risk a defeat, because he would hang on to power at all costs. In business circles the idea prevails that a man is " on a good wicket " if he can make a contract with this Government, and afterwards ask for it to be cancelled.. I wish to draw attention to the action of the Government in handing over £32,500 to speculators in South Africa, who, according to the Prime Minister's own words, had no claim upon the Commonwealth. The Wheat Board also handed over £82,500 to those people. These payments arose out of the sale of inferior flour by millers in Australia to speculators in South Africa. There was no obligation upon the Government or the Wheat Board to pay over any money to the speculators, and in doing so they were guilty of maladministration of the worst description. The first intimation we had of the matter was a statement in the press that there was trouble in South Africa over the purchase of inferior Australian flour. On the 23rd September, 1920, the honorable member for Capricornia **(Mr. Higgs)** asked a question in the House regarding a complaint from South African bakers and merchants as to the quality of B grade Australian flour and the alleged unreliability of Commonwealth Wheat Board certificates. .The. Prime Minister **(Mr. Hughes)** replied - >I spoke to **Mr. Oman** about this matter atthe conference to which I have already referred. In the first place, the Wheat Pool is not re-, sponsible for the sale of the flour. It sells wheat; it does not sell flour. The millers sold this flour. In the second place, the flour, which had been gristed from damaged Victorian second-quality wheat, which had been reconditioned, and was described as *B* grade,was sold upon sample, a parcel of 270 tons having been sent as a sample, and subsequent shipments were up to that sample. But it was sold -up to sample by the millers, and not by the Wheat Pool. . . . However, South Africa bought to sample. . . . That statement disposes of the suggestion "that the men in South Africa were taken down." On the 24th September, the honorable member for Capricornia asked whether the Government would invite the South African Government to appoint some one to inquire whether the Commonwealth Government or the Wheat Board had anything whatever to do with the export of alleged inferior flour. The Prime Minister replied - >So far as I am aware, the South African Government has no direct representative here. I spoke recently, quite properly, in severe terms of those who send from Australia goods that were not true to sample, and, what is more, were not of first quality. But I think I can say publicly - and I hope the press will take note of the statement - that the South Africans have nothing to complain of in regard to this deal. They bought from sample, and the goods supplied are true to sample. ... I am now informed by my colleague that no certificates were issued, and, therefore, no Government officials whatever ore or could be implicated in any way. On the 22nd April, 1921, in reply to a question asked by the honorable member for Wentworth **(Mr. Marks),** the Prime Minister said - >I want only to say that I think it is the duty of this Government to see that not only the reputation and honour of Australia, but its material interests, are safeguarded by putting the matter right. If it involves the payment of compensation, then the compensation must be made, and the Commonwealth ought to see, as far as it has power, that it is made by the people who are primarily responsible. . . . On the 27th April, 1921, **Mr. Riley** asked - >In view of the Prime Minister's statement last week that injury was done to this country by the exportation of bad wheat to South Africa, will the right honorable gentleman, before he leaves for England, publish the names of the persons responsible? {: #subdebate-19-4-s7 .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES:
NAT -- I have not yet obtained the names of those to whom I referred, but I have communicated with the Premiers of the wheatproducing States, and have also asked for a statement from the Central Wheat Board. My right honorable colleague the Treasurer, who, during my absence, will act as Prime Minister, will make this information public as soon as it comes tohand. {: #subdebate-19-4-s8 .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- If the disquieting statements we have heard are true they are calculated to bring great discredit on Ausralia. Does the Prime Minister not think the position serious enough to justify the appointment of some kind of Committee of Inquiry in order to sheet the charges home to the culprits who are responsible? {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES: -- I certainly do. . . . On 16th June, 1921, the honorable member for Hindmarsh **(Mr. Makin)** said - >It is stated in the South African newspapers that the sending of unwholesome flour to that country from Australia recently was due, not merely to slipshod methods, but to the downright dishonesty of the exporters. I ask the Acting Prime Minister if inquiry has been made into the facts, and, if not, I ask that it may be made, so that the prestige of Australian exports may be maintained. {: #subdebate-19-4-s9 .speaker-F4S} ##### Sir JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- The matter is under very serious consideration. Inferior flour was certainly sent to South Africa, but so far this is one of those cases in which nobody seems to be to blame. We are trying to get to the bottom of it, with a view to doing what the honorable member thinks should be done.I hope he will leave it at that for the moment. This brings the matter up to the 13 th July of the present year. When the honorable member for Corangamite **(Mr. Gibson),** speaking with regard to this matter, said- {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- On a point of order, I call attention to the fact that the honor able member is about to quote from *Hansard* of this session. The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member may not do that. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- I am able to relate the incident from memory. The honorable member for Corangamite said, in reply to a question by the honorable member for Fawkner **(Mr. Maxwell)** as to why the Government intended to pay over the money, that £32,500 was involved, and that it was a matter of blackmail - that the bludgeon had been held at the head of the Government and the Government had paid. At a later date, when the Prime Minister was asked a question, he said that not only was the Commonwealth Government not responsible, but that the connexion of the Wheat Board was very remote, that the Wheat Board sold the wheat but did not sell the flour, and the fault lay with the millers. Then the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. Charlton)** asked what was the amount of compensation intended to be paid, and would the Prime Minister make available the names of the firms concerned, and he received one of the most weird replies it has ever been the lot of an honorable member to receive from a responsible Minister. The Prime Minister replied that it had been decided to pay this compensation, and that the amount that the speculators in South Africa were to receive was £115,000, of which the Wheat Board was to find £82,500 odd, and the Commonwealth £32,500 odd. The Prime Minister added that it was a voluntary payment, and that there was no claim, on the Commonwealth Government. Mr.McWilliams. - I beg to call attention to the state of the Committee. *[Quorum formed.]* {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- The Prime Minister also said that, in view of the possibility of legal proceedings of buyers against sellers, it was not considered advisable to make the names available. {: .speaker-KZC} ##### Mr Hector Lamond: -- I should like to know whether the honorable member is in order in distorting the replies of the Prime Minister. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- I am not doing so, and the Honorary Minister would have a job to "distort" the payment of the £32,500. The Prime Minister said that this was a voluntary payment, as no legal claim was attached to the Commonwealth Government; but he refused to disclose the names of the persons who sold this particular wheat. No parson in the position of a trustee would dream of paying out trust funds unless there was a legal claim - the man who did so would be personally liable for the amount. One would imagine that the people who bought were men who went about with their eyes shut. In my view, this is but another of those sinister examples of ' hush it up " on the part of this calamitous Government - the smothering up of their friends, who were, perhaps, contributors to that dole of £25,000 the Prime Minister received. The last we hear of the matter is from the Treasurer in his statement on the 5th July, as reported on page 167 of *Hansardof* this session, when he referred to the fact that there was a payment of £32,500 by the Commonwealth Government, and expresed his trust that the Wheat Board would pay the money back. To that expression of hope the honorable member for Echuca **(Mr. Hill)** replied, "No fear!" To mark the closing chapter of this most discreditable and unseemly exhibition of incapacity and bungling, I this week asked the Treasurer what had been done in regard to the matter, and I was informed that the money had been paid over. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- What does the AuditorGeneral say? {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- I hope that the Auditor-General will have some scathing comments to make. ' At all events, we on this side will see that the electors of Australia know how the Government have ladled out money in order to shield speculative middlemen. Even **Sir Joseph** Cook said that these persons should be dealt with and the crime sheeted home to them of not only Belling inferior stuff to a sister Dominion but making the name of Australia a by-word in' other countries. The Government should prosecute the people who betrayed the trust reposed in them and ignore the South African speculators, who have no claim - legal or moral - on the people of Australia. {: #subdebate-19-4-s10 .speaker-KFF} ##### Mr FOLEY:
Kalgoorlie -- I am sorry that honorable members have not the full opportunity they should have to discuss the Budget. There is too much time wasted at the beginning of the session, and too much rushing at the end.This does not make for good legislation; but, of course, such conditions are common to all Parliaments. Had the session been extended until Christmas we should have had ample time to complete the business with, I hope, considerable advantage to this country. I have been a member of this Parliament for two years, and, so far as I can judge, the people in the remoter parts of Australia have, from an administrative point of view, received more consideration in the last two years than ever before in the history of the Commonwealth. There has been much said here regarding the drift from the country to the cities, and the idea is that the cities prove more attractive. Inmy view the back country could he made a great deal more attractive: and to the credit of the present Government, it can be said that through the Postal Department - not only under the present PostmasterGeneral **(Mr. Poynton),** but also under his predecessor **(Mr. Wise)** - more has been done in this direction than hitherto. In the past I have known mails to be- carried 150 miles beyond their destination and brought back by a most circuitous route. There have been unsatisfactory conditionswhich I have been able to clear up successfully by personal representation, either direct to the PostmasterGeneral, or to the Deputy PostmasterGeneral in Western Australia. If honorable members, instead of criticising administration, would *go* straight to the responsible officers, and suggest remedies along common-sense lines, there would probably be good and speedy results. The project of the Government in affording relief by the removal of the duties upon steel products, galvanized iron, and agricultural tractors, has beenhailed with joy in rural Australia. {: .speaker-K4M} ##### Mr ROBERT COOK:
INDI, VICTORIA · VFU; CP from 1920 -- Why were the duties ever imposed? {: .speaker-KFF} ##### Mr FOLEY: -- With the exception of the honorable members for Dampier **(Mr. Gregory)** and Wimmera **(Mr. Stewart),** it is a fact that on practically every item of the Tariff, when it became a question concerning how their own constituency was affected, members of the Country party voted for Free Trade. But they wereardent advocates of high Protection when they could impose duties in any and every other direction. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWilliams: -- That is deliberately incorrect. {: .speaker-KFF} ##### Mr FOLEY: -- I need only refer to proceedings during the present sitting in order to find verification for my comment. I need go no further than to remind honorable members of the attitude adopted by the Deputy Leader of the Country party **(Mr. Fleming)** in connexion with his essential oils industry. When honorable members criticise the Government they should take care to see that their own record is clean.. With the exception of, possibly, only one Department,our returned soldiers have been given a fair deal all over the Commonwealth. That may be said of their experiences from the moment when they first stepped into a transport to the day of their return home. The National, Go- - vernment gave them a privilege possessed by no other soldiers who had fought either for or against Great Britain. They were given civil rights superior to their military obligations, and they appreciated it. {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- I do not know that it helped them very much. {: .speaker-KFF} ##### Mr FOLEY: -- It did help them. I speak from wide experience, having gone on board' every transport, except six, which went to and came back from the war. I do not say that in every State every soldier who has settled on the land has received all he should have got. But, in most instances, the fault - where there has been fault - cannot be laid at the door of the Federal Parliament or Government. I want to see settlement pushed ahead. I am glad that the Government have taken important steps in that direction. In Western Australia the group settlement scheme has been proved a success. Companies of six to ten men go out upon new land, and band together for the purposes of clearing it. After that operation, they act on their own responsibilities, . and devote . themselves to their own blocks. That form of pioneering has done incalculable good. Recently, the Prime Minister visited the. southern portion of Western Australia and inspected conditions of soldier settlement for himself. He saw men working away happily who, only three months before, had been employed on the wharfs at Fremantle. They said that wild horses would not drag them back again. Unfortunately, there is something lacking in the selection of immigrants in England. We cannot expect them to be as good as our own artisans and others who make a start on the land, even without previous experience. Newcomers from overseas should be put to work under experienced supervision. They should be taught the best way to clear their land and get ahead with their' first crop. They need to be' placed initially under the control of a good practical , man. I am glad that the Government have seen their way clear to remove the Tariff imposts upon agricultural tractors. Far more can be done in the direction of benefiting new settlers by means of clearing the land with machinery than could have been done under the old manual methods. At Bridgetown, in Western Australia, the Prime Minister and I had lunch at 1 o'clock in the afternoon. Before sitting down to our meal we noticed a truck at the railway station on which was a Whippet tank and a fourdisc plough. Later in the afternoon we reached a farm some 8 or 9 miles away, and we saw that, by a quarter to 5, the tank tractor ami disc plough had turned over 3¾ acres. The person who imported the tank was required to pay a high duty: That tractor was the tool of trade of a man who was developing this country, and' it is bad policy to place a duty upon tools of trade. The land of which I speak had cost 22s. 6d. per acre to break up. The man with the tank and disc plough said he would break up all the land which the Government of Western Australia was opening under the repatriation scheme, for 7s. 6d. an acre, and that he would be prepared to enter into a contract to do so. If he could do that, I contend that the Government acted wisely in removing the duty on tractors, which are one of the tools of trade of the pioneers. I am not going to discuss the sugar question except to say that the vote I gave earlier in the sitting was in accordance with those which I gave on the Tariff and was in keepingwith my fiscal belief. I trust that the Commonwealth Government will do everything possible, first of all, for the State Soldier Settlement schemes, and also to assist the States to put their own people on the land. The honorable member for Gwydir **(Mr. Cunningham)** travelled over 260 miles of good mallee country in Western Australia, much of which is now being taken up by mallee farmers from Victoria. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- How is Kendenup faring? {: .speaker-KFF} ##### Mr FOLEY: -- It is all right. In the course of a few months a great many men will be making a living on the mallee lands to which I have just referred. We should pay no regard to State boundaries when dealing with settlement schemes, but should look at them from an Australian standpoint. If we do that we may very well leave the States to work out their own destinies. The Government is to be commended for its action in encouraging all who are willing - companies, private firms, and individuals - to develop ' any portion of this country. I recently saw set out from Leonora the best-equipped expedition that I had known to leave an out-back town since the discovery of the Western Australian goldfields. The expedition carried 3 cwt. of desiecated food, which, when prepared according to directions on each packet; would provide 18cwt. of wholesome food. By carrying this food in a compressed form theparty was able to travel many hundreds of miles more than would otherwise have been possible. I am not seeking to "boost" up the proprietors of Kendenup, but I think they will make good ; and more power to them if they do. Unfortunately, many Australians have a habit of running down their own country. The country is all right, and with a proper developmental policy vast areas that a few years ago were thought to be useless will be turned to profitable account. I hope that the Commonwealth Government will help, not only States, but private institutions and individuals, to develop and settle our vast spaces. The honorable member for Gwydir has referred to the question of arbitration. When we provided for compulsory arbitration we thought that it would be a grand thing and would usher in an era of industrial peace. The workers, however, have not got the best that cither the Federal or the State -arbitration systems could give them. Many unions went to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court when it was created, not because it was a Federal tribunal, but for the reason that it was "presided over by **Mr. Justice** Higgins. When that learned Judge retired from the position of President of the Court, they wanted the Commonwealth Court no longer. I am sorry to say that many of the workers have only themselves to blame for the position they occupy today. When their unions came only within the jurisdiction of the State Arbitration Courts they made the fullest use of those tribunals and also of the State Conciliation Courts. With the creation of the Commonwealth tribunal, however, they took, first of all, what they could get from the State Courts, and, if they thought they could do better by resorting to the Commonwealth Court they did so-. They availed themselves of. both the Commonwealth and State industrial systems. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr Cunningham: -- The honorable member surely does not blame 'them for that. {: .speaker-KFF} ##### Mr FOLEY: -- Recently the employers have adopted the same tactics.. I blame both parties for doing so.One of the first subjects to which the new Parliament should direct its attention is that of industrialism. Every honorable member when he goes before his constituents, as we all shall do presently, should ask them whether they are in favour of this principle of arbitration, and those who come back pledged to that principle should lose no time in securing a clear definition of what are Federal and what are State arbitration functions. An effort should also be made to promote, on the part of both the workers and the employers, a- feeling of confidence that an award, whatever it may ' be, will be obeyed. I say that as a firm believer in Federation. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr Cunningham: -- The function of ' the Arbitration Court is to fis a minimum wage. There is a good deal of misconception as to that. The Court fixes only a minimum wage, but most employers make the minimum the maximum. {: .speaker-KFF} ##### Mr FOLEY: -- The workers themselves are sometimes to blame. . I know of an employer who was giving- the men in one branch of his factory £5 a week, although the award relating to it provided for a wage of only £4 per- week. When the men employed in another branch of his business demanded a rise, those who were receiving *£5* per week, although the award provided for only a wage of £4 per week, also demanded a rise. I am opposed to the payment of men to speed up their fellow workers, but unfortunately under our present arbitration system a man cannot reward an employee as he would like to do. I hope that honorable members when they return to their constituencies will put this matter before the electors, and that if they are returned to support tho principle of arbitration they will adopt the course I have suggested, and in that way help to secure for the Commonwealth, industrial peace. {: #subdebate-19-4-s11 .speaker-KLL} ##### Mr MAKIN:
Hindmarsh -- It is now approaching three years since my constituents were pleased to honour me by returning me to this Parliament, and I think that this is an opportune time, since we are in the closing hours of the Parliament, to review briefly the work which it has accomplished. Curtain things have been done by the Government that ought not to have been done, while things which should have been done have been left undone by them. I confess to a feeling of disappointment with the work of the Parliament. It has failed to carry out many reforms, which T thought we should be able to effect - reforms that would give considerable relief to our fellow-citizens,1 and conduce to the general welfare of Australia. While I have been favoured by being a member of this Legislature I have endeavoured to gain some knowledge of tho possibilities qf my country. I have availed myself of every opportunity to travel the length and breadth of Australia, and it seems to me that honorable members generally would do a greater measure of justice to the claims of the Commonwealth if they had a better knowledge of its resources, its potentialities, and its vastness. Far too often the operations of honorable members are confined to our city areas, with the result that as a Legislature we do not appreciate the difficulties with which a great number of our people in the outposts of the continent have to contend. My extended travels have, certainly given ma a more just appreciation of the possibilities of the glorious territory of which we are the proud possessors. My hope is that we shall prove worthy of the trust, and shall develop our resources to the best possible advantage; because bo far as we prove ourselves in this respect, to that extent only shall we be able to claim respect and prestige in the councils of nations. But if we are to set a fitting example in regard to conditions of living and national progress, we shall have to bend ourselves a little more to the particular duties required of us as members of this Parliament, and become more ' directly acquainted with the vastness and possibilities of this continent than perhaps may be the case at the present moment. _ In a previous debate I was able to review the financial proposals of the Government and the position of Australia. It is unfortunate that a young country such as this, with resources hardly yet touched, and with a population that barely skirts the continent, should find itself heavily involved in financial obligations. Let it be said to their credit, that Labour Governments that have occupied a position in the affairs of the Common.wealth have proved themselves equal to the demands made upon them as statesmen, and have so guided the ship of State as to bring it into smooth waters of finance, and proven by the manner in which they have piloted the affairs of tho country that they are entitled to be regarded as men who understood the first principles of government. In 1909 a Labour Government had a surplus of £450,000. In 1910 an anti-Labour Government went out of office leaving a deficit of £650,000. A Labour Government which held office from 1910 to 1913 not only overcame that deficit, but also so built up the financial resources of the Commonwealth that at the end of its term of office it was able to face the electors with a surplus of £2,650,000, which, however, was reduced in the following year by an anti-Labour Government to £1,400,000. There were very few tangible assets to show for the money spent. Affairs have gone back to such an extent since the last Labour Government, which left a surplus of £2,650,000, that we have now a Federal public debt of £416,000,000, for which Nationalist Governments are responsible. I quite recognise that heavy obligations were imposed upon us by the war, but our expenditure did not rest with the conclusion of the war. Last year the public debt was increased by £14,000,000, and the estimated increase this year is a further £17,000,000. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- le the honorable member entitled to misrepresent the Commonwealth finances in this way ? {: .speaker-JMG} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Atkinson: -- I am not a judge as to whether the honorable member's remarks are misrepresentation. I have not heard him make use of unparliamentary language. {: .speaker-KLL} ##### Mr MAKIN: -- It is but an attempt on the Minister's part to try to make the public believe that what I am saying is erroneous, although he knows that it is absolutely correct. He can verify my figures by referring to his own Treasurer's Budget, and I ask him to do so, in order that he may properly acquaint himself with the financial position of the Commonwealth, of which evidently he has no knowledge at the present time. Although there is an increase in the public debt to the extent I have indicated, there is a reduction in the Sinking Fund, the purpose of which is to repay the Commonwealth loans. It should be our endeavour to find a way out of our increasing difficulties, and place our finances on a sound basis. The records of Labour Governments prove that the methods of finance they adopted were sound. The results that have accrued from their administration of the finances stand to their credit, and prove that they were able to conserve the interests of the country in a way that no other Government has been able to approach. It is most regrettable that certain proraised legislation, which it was most important should have been passed to secure harmonious relations between the people engaged in the industries of this country has not *been* carried into effect. After all the promises and protestations on the part of the Government as to the sincerity of their intention to amend the Arbitration Act in order to relieve those engaged in industry of many inconveniences which create dissatisfaction, delay, and injustice, and make it costly to secure a settlement of applications for improved wages and conditions, it is regrettable to find that our deliberations in this Chamber have been devoted to other forms of legislation, which certainly were of far less importance. If our efforts had been spent in trying to solve the ever agitated industrial problems, I am sure that it would have shown a greater measure of statesmenship on our part than has been displayed during the three years in which 1 have been a member of this Parliament and in a position to view its deliberations closely. It may be of advantage to those who oppose the Labour movement to endeavour by misrepresentation and recrimination to make the' people believe that we are prompted by the desire to create discord, unrest, and dislocation in the Commonwealth. But that is not the wish or record of the Labour movement. Our desire is that people shall live in peace and harmony with one another, and with a true feeling of good-will. We stand for the principles of arbitration and a system of arbitration that will give satisfaction to those who require to take advantage of the Courts. To us it is quite patent that there is every justification for so amending the present Arbitration Act as to enable awards to be delivered more expeditiously, and so that the procedure may be less costly to those who require to take advantage of the opportunity to have their claims heard. Another measure we might have expected is the Bill to establish a uniform railway gauge. Tho necessity for this has been emphasized in this House for many years past. We find, however, that the proposal is not to be now considered, and that it is to be placed on one side along with many other Bills promised earlier in the session. Another matter that concerns .South Australia vitally is the proposed northsouth railway from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs. It might have reasonably been expected that the Government would afford Parliament an earlier opportunity of honouring the compact made between the Commonwealth and that State, and of doing everything possible to expedite the construction of the northsouth line. Valuable evidence that has been collected regarding the resources of Central Australia justifies us in believing that we have there very rich mineral fields, the opening up of which will give opportunities to our people to advance their position in life, and to fittingly play their part in the development of the continent. To-day, unfortunately, there is a tendency throughout Australia towards centralization, hut if we intend to truly progress along lines that will lead to the greatest advantage of the Commonwealth, we must develop the more distant parts of our continent by providing facilities for people to settle there. Although I represent a metropolitan constituency, I recognise how essential it is, in order to overcome the tendency of our people to migrate to the cities, that we should make the lives of those in distant parts more' agreeable and comfortable, and thus encourage them to undertake the responsibility of opening up and developing the interior of this great Commonwealth. During my three years' service in this House I have endeavoured to apply honest and, I trust, helpful criticism to men and measures, and to do full justice to the views and claims of those who sent me here. I have thought it necessary to clearly indicate my distinct disapproval of certain features of maladministration and business undertakings for which the Government have been responsible. Forinstance. in connexion with War 'Service Homes, Australia was committed to large obligations, but the money expended has not given value to the Commonwealth or satisfaction to the soldier purchasers. The Kidman-Mayoh shipbuilding contract is another instance of the Government's ineptitude. That firm did not carry out their contract, and the Government will lose approximately £50,000. If Ministers had been alive to the people's interests, they would have claimed a refund of the whole of the progress payment^, amounting to £114,000. For the five wooden ships built in America to the order of the Commonwealth, the Government paid £811,000. A few weeks ago they sold them for £10,000, although they had previously refused an offer of £15,000 for them. I have dissociated myself from, these transactions, and have availed myself of an opportunity to register my protest against the unbusinesslike methods of the Government, which have involved the country in heavy losses. The Commonwealth is now committed to an expenditure of £500,000 in connexion with the agreement made by the Government with Amalgamated Wireless Limited for the installation and operation of a system of long-distance wireless telegraphy. The interest of the people has not been conserved as it should have been; the Government have shown a. tendency to expend public money under questionable agreements with private companies in a way that certainly has not been justified. I wish to emphasize certain payments made to South Africa in regard to sales of inferior flour. I understand that the Commonwealth received from the South African Government a claim for £115,000 as compensation. Although the Australian people were in no way responsible for the unfaithfulness of those persons who so treacherously dealt with the commercial reputation of the Commonwealth, the Government have paid the sum of £32,000 from the national exchequer in recognition of the claim. When we sought to know the names of those responsible for these contracts, the Government refused to give them. I would not be worthy of the position I occupy in this House if I did not record, for the enlightenment of my constituents, the misdeeds of the Government in regard to this and other transactions. Throughout the last three years I have endeavoured to secure all the advantages possible for the division of Hindmarsh, but I regret that the Government have not realized their obligations towards one of the greatest industries of South Australia - ship building. At its commencement, the industry was encouraged by the Commonwealth, and offers and promises of' orders were made that have not been fulfilled. To-day, the future of the industry is not assured, owing to the indefinite attitude which the Government have adopted towards it, and their failure to honour their promises. In association with other honorable members from South Australia., I have requested that the two light-ships required by the Lighthouse Department, in that State should be built locally, so keeping the ship-yard going, and developing an industry which must become a valuable asset. So far, we have received from the Government only indefinite and unsatisfactory replies. For certain advantage I have been able to gain for my constituents, I have to thank principallythe Departmental officers. WhenI was first elected to represent Hindmarsh. the postal and telegraph accommodation in the division was in a deplorable state, but thanks to the just consideration extended to my claims by officials in the Department,the postal facilities have been brought up to date and improved; although I should have appreciated finality regarding the West Adelaide Suburban Telephone Exchange, and the acceptance of the citizens' site for the Port Adelaide Post Office. A large part of my duty has been to assist in overcoming the distressingcircumstances in which many returned soldiers and old-age and invalid pensioners are to be found. I am glad that I have been able to do something to relieve those so circumstanced, by securing for them some measure of the consideration to which they are entitled. Whenever it has been possible for me to advance in any way the interests of my constituents I have endeavoured to do so, hut my activity has not been limited to that alone. I realized that a man elected to this Parliament had a national duty, and legislated for a wider sphere than his own constituency. I understand that it is the intention of the Government to make certain additions to the Adelaide Post Office, which is regarded as one of the most imposing edifices in the city. I am informed that it is proposed to construct a concrete building, and one which will not be in harmony with the other portion of the structure. I have been requested by the Operative Masons' Society to place on recordtheir protest in this matter,and perhaps I could best servo their purpose by reading the following communication : - 28 Courtis-street, {:#subdebate-19-5} #### North Adelaide, 16th September, 1922 {:#subdebate-19-6} #### Mr. N. Makin, M.H.R., {:#subdebate-19-7} #### Parliament House, Melbourne {:#subdebate-19-8} #### Dear Sir, At a meeting of the Operative Masons' Society held recently, a resolution was carried protesting against the action of the Federal Government in their scheme of remodelling the Adelaide General Post Office, and I was instructed to bring the matter under your notice, so as to have our protest voiced in the Federal House. It is the intention to carry out extensive alterations and additions in reinforced concrete, and then colour the work to match the present facade, which is executed in cut stonework. The present building is considered one of the finest in the State, and occupying, as it does, one of the most prominent positions in the city, we consider it an injustice, as well as a blot on our architecture, to carry out this work other than in conformity with the existing building. Furthermore, we consider the excluding of the stonework an injustice to our trade, as we have always looked to the Government Departments for this class of work. Wefeel this matter more keenly, in view of the fact that South Australia is the only State in the Commonwealth in which a cut-stone building has not been erected by the Federal Government. In Western Australia, the General Post Office, at Perth, has been in course of erection for some years, and it is all stone. Likewise, in New South Wales and Victoria, branches of the Commonwealth Bank, and other extensive cut-stone buildings, have been, and are 'being, erected by the Commonwealth Government; so that we feel that, unless some action is token, the claims of our trade will never be recognised. I trust that you will bring this matter under the notice of those responsible, and that, even if it is too late to remedy the defect in the present instance, it may be the means of preventing stonework from being excluded where possible in the future. Yours faithfully {:#subdebate-19-9} #### George P. Leahy I trust that thosewho are responsible f or the type of building to be constructed in Adelaide will remember that a strong protest has been lodged. Even if it is too late to alter the proposal in this instance, it should he the policy in future to construct important public buildings in cut-stone, so that the architectural beauty of our cities may be preserved, and the interests of a deserving section of the community fully considered. I regret that it has been practically impossible to amend legislation passed during the present session, by reason of the Government's adamant attitude ; but I am hopeful that, after an appeal has been made to the people, a Labour Government will be returned. If such should be the case, the needs of the people will be fully met, and an effort made to remove many of the injustices which now exist. We shall have sane, sound, and honest government, and shall then be able to say - >There is a land where summer skies > >Are gleaming 'neath a thousand dyes > >Blending in witching harmonies > >Where grassy knoll and forest height > >Are flashing in the rosy light, > >And all above is azure bright, {:#subdebate-19-10} #### Australia ! Australia ! Australia ! {: #subdebate-19-10-s0 .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE:
Swan .It would appear that the discussion of the Budget has been intentionally delayed, with the idea of preventing many of its intricacies from being investigated. A determined effort is, apparently, being made to bludgeon it through when honorable members cannot be expected to be mentally alert. The Government think it quite a small thing to ask us to; authorize the expenditure of £60,000,000 or £70,000,000, after sitting up all night. The Commonwealth machine is altogether too unwieldy, and when one harks back to the early days of Federation, and compares the expenditure then with that we are now asked to sanction, one is astounded. If another Parliament were created- {: .speaker-KZC} ##### Mr Hector Lamond: -- The honorable member's party favours new Parliaments. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE: -- We advocate provincial councils in new States. If another Parliament were created, it would find a means of raising and spending public money. The Commonwealth Parliament cannot effectively control six huge States. The Country party advocates smaller States. We believe that the present States are altogether unwieldy, and the Prime Minister seems to share that opinion. {: .speaker-KZC} ##### Mr Hector Lamond: -- Have you suggested a division of Western Australia? {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE: -- I have, but the idea was suggested long before I went there. {: .speaker-KZC} ##### Mr Hector Lamond: -- Without representation in the Federal Parliament? {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE: -- No, indeed. The division of Western Australia, and the other large States, with Federal representation would make this truly a Commonwealth Parliament. It is obvious that the State of moderate size is the more easily administered. The Treasurer, in introducing his Budget, made use of some very excellent maxims with which I agree, but which I am sorry to say the Government do not appear to be acting upon. It is true, as the Treasurer said, that it is sound policy to extract as little money as possible by way of taxation from the pockets of the people, for it is by the people themselves that this country will be most successfully developed if they have the means to do it. The function of the Government is not to tax people to the very limit, because that only lessens the wealth-creating power of the community. It has been wisely said by the honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. Watt)** that the so-called reduction of taxation is only, as it were, a kind of refund from an accumulated surplus of moneys wrongfully collected, but these remissions cannot continue; as the honorable member for Balaclava has said, we can only have an encore, and then - the deluge. It would have been much wiser on the part of the Government to redeem its stock; but be that as it may, the only object the Government can have had in keeping the Budget back until the last hours of the session is that there might not be sufficient time in which to properly discuss it. What we require is the development of this great country, but development is retarded by the fiscal policy which has been adopted. Parliament may think that it has done its duty when it has imposed high duties on almost every conceivable commodity ; but that is not the way in which to promote the true interests of the community. I propose to read a few statements, which appear to me to be wise, but may not appear so to other honorable members, regarding the Tariff revision in America. These statements are as follows: - >The upward revision of the tariff which is in process in Congress is causing no small amount of confusion and anxiety in business circles, and increases the complexity of our international relations. Every change, although made for the purpose of benefiting some American industry, has effects reaching beyond that industry, and often far beyond what have been foreseen. It is not necessary in questioning the wisdom of disrupting trade relations still farther at this time, to enter into an argument over the achievements of the protective policy in the past. There are many people who believe it has rendered great service in diversifying and developing our industries, but who recognise that the questions of to-day are not the same as the questions of the past. We have now a highly-developed state of industry and trade, and must consider how every change in the Tariff will affect the existing status.A Tariff schedule should be intensely practical. For instance, the press report makes the following reference to a discussion in the Senate over a proposed duty on cyanide, to protect its manufacture in this country : - " **Senator Sterling** called attention to the importance of cyanide to the gold and silver mining and citrus fruit industries, and asserted that the proper protection of them called for free cyanide." > >This argument prevailed and cyanide was made free. And so in the case of hides the farmers' bloc, after taking account of the compensatory duty proposed on shoes, is reported to have concluded to be content with free hides and free shoes. This, however, does not leave the shoe manufacturer free from effects of the new Tariff. His employees will have to be compensated for any advance in clothing, sugar, or other articles of common consumption which will cost more as the result of higher duties. We have a growing volume of shoe exports, but every act of Congress which makes the cost of living higher for shoemakers is a handicap upon this export business. > >The increased duty on sugar for which the farmers' bloc is contending, if finally adopted, will be a direct out-of-pocket expense to all farmers, as well as all wage-earners in the country, but the farmers who do not grow sugar beets are supposed to be compensated by the duties on corn, wheat, and other products, most of which are being exported in quantities on the basis of world prices. Cuba is commercially almost a part of the United States. There is no reason why trade relations with the island may not be considered as of the same mutually compensatory and beneficial character as the trade relations between Minnesota or California and the other States of the Union. The difference in climate makes an exchange of products naturally advantageous. The climate and soil make sugar in Cuba with less labour, as everybody agrees, than it can be made in the United States. Other important agricultural products can be grown to better advantage in the United States. Cuba is without coal and has few manufacturing industries. There is a natural exchange of sugar and other tropical products grown on the island for flour, meats, clothing, shoes, steel, machinery, and other manufactures. Cuba took $30,000,000 worth of cotton goods from us in the last fiscal year, $15,000,000 worth of shoes, $20,000,000 worth of railway equipment, and so on. In short, it is a reciprocal relationship, no different in practical character from that with Minnesota and California. The rest of the States do not merely tolerate Minnesota and California to help the two States, but rejoice in the mutual advantages accruing all around. There is no reason why natural trade with Cuba should be regarded in anyother light. Cuba grows sugar and other tropical products better than the United States of America. The gentlemanwhom I have quoted seems to recognise that. The Almighty, when He created this world, gave it its different climates, and its different plants for different seasons. If we try to develop anything exotic, we must pay for it. The Fijians and Pacific Islanders are certainly black, but should we say that because they are black they ought not to live ? Is our trade with them to be only a one-sided trade? These black men, perhaps, are as healthy and happy under their conditions of life and work as we are. Have we not taken a foolish course in ostracising Fiji in the matter of trade? If we examine the trade relations between this country and Fiji prior to the date when we placed a prohibitive duty on bananas, we find that while they gave £1,000,000 to us we gave £250,000 to them.We were not satisfied with that, but wanted the lot; and therefore we shall get nothing. The people of Fiji have taken their trade to other countries, and those other countries, which are older and bigger than Australia, are very glad to deal with the Fijians in a reciprocal manner. The other day I asked a question about the copra trade, which has now practically departed from Australia. That was a large and useful trade to Australia, and might have been kept here entirely. . It is now going to America and England, which countries are actually sending ships to take the copra away. This is simply because of our insane policy. "We brought in a Navigation Act which excluded all sorts of trading from our coasts. We bring rice past Papua to Sydney, and ship it back again to Papua at great unnecessary expense. The freights from the islands to Sydney are such that the people there cannot trade with us in copra. They decided that it was better to sell" direct to the people of America and England, who send direct to the islands and lift it, notwithstanding the fact that we subsidize Burns, Philp and Company to provide a service of mail steamers between the islands and Australia. Not only in. the islands of the Pacific, but in the Far East, there are millions of mouths that could be fed with Australian produce, but trade with those parts of the world has been forbidden by an unfriendly Tariff. If we offend the people whose markets would be useful to Australia, how can we expect them to accept our products? This country should be self-contained, but that ideal cannot be secured by each of us taking in the other's washing. We need to develop- our trade relations with other countries. We cannot pay our national debt unless nev? wealth is brought into the country, and that cannot be secured except by extending our trade connexions with our neighbours. If we paid more attention to the development and general encouragement of primary production our financial position would be infinitely brighter. The fiscal policy of the Commonwealth is not conducive to its progress. The way in which the Treasurer has disbursed the accumulated surplus, in order to give, on .the eve of an election, a little help and favour here and there to various sections of the community, suggests that Australia is like a good boy who has been given a little bit out of his earnings - 6d. here and ls. there with which to buy a few lollies for himself. The Government have distributed doles in the way which they think will best serve their electioneering purposes. The policy of the Country party has been to assist production, not by the imposition of duties upon implements of trade,, but by the removal of Customs duties and the institution of bounties, whereby all the people would contribute to the development of industry. When the man on the land is called upon to pay duties levied upon the things he needs to produce goods for sale overseas, he is severely handicapped. The Argentine may be compared in certain respects with Australia. But the Government of that country do not burden their, producers with imposts upon agricultural machinery. At a result, the Argentine has beaten us badly in the world's markets. In Australia shackles are placed upon producers, but. our South American competitors bear no shackles. The intelligence of this Parliament is such that it has actually supported the Government in imposing a duty upon sulphur. That is how the wheat-grower is helped in his struggles in the world's markets. Superphosphates to-day cost between 50 and 60 per cent, more than in 1914. {: .speaker-KJM} ##### Mr Jackson: -- And the price of wheat is about double the 1914 price. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE: -- It. is the producer who shoulders the burden of a heavy Protective Tariff. Seventy-six per cent, of the wealth' of this country is due to primary production; all other resources account for only 24 per cent. The Government appear to be very proficient in bungling. I need only turn to the pages of this week's press for a demonstration pf that fact. The AuditorGeneral, in his report, is distinctly uncomplimentary to the Government. If I were responsible for the causes leading to **Mr. Israel's** comments, I would hide myself in a corner. That official refers to the bungling over War Service Homes construction. He speaks of contracts made with various people for timber, joinery, cement; and tiles. He tells how practically all have had to be compensated in large sums for breach of contract. The Government have been guilty of blunders, and the public have had to pay. Ministers cannot afford to laugh1. The cost of their negligence and incapacity falls upon the poor old taxpayer. The Australian people felt, when arrangements were being made to provide homes for their fighting men, that the money which they freely furnished would be used, in the directions best calculated to serve their interests. Such, however, has not. been the case. When the whole truth has been told we may learn exactly how much has been squandered. The Budget statement has made, our financial position to appear, very much better than it really is. Because of loan appropriation for the Postal Department there would seem to be a considerable profit in respect of. ordinary revenue. There are also considerable reductions shown in .the Navy and Defence- Departments with respect to works which had been previously paid for out of revenue, but which are now being financed with loan money. The Postal Department should be purely and simply a utility Department. None of the profit which it makes should be- taken from it and paid, into the general revenue. The Postmaster-General **(Mr. Poynton)** has found it necessary to ask for a loan of £9,000,000, to be expended during the next few years, in order that his Department may be brought up 'to date. In the circumstances the course adopted was wise, but behind it there lies the unwisdom of earlier years. I ask the Treasurer to say what he intends to do with what appears to be a surplus expected from the operations of the Postal Department. The honorable gentleman is silent. The ablest statesmen who have appeared in, this House, and amongst them **Mr. Alfred** Deakin, have laid it down that the Postal, Department should not be used as a profit-making machine. That is the view (held, also, by politicians in America and in other countries. The Government borrow £9,000,000 to bring the Postal Department up to date, whilst at the same time they are taking earnings of the Department into revenue. Had the money earned by the Department in the last few years been allowed to remain to its credit, the loan proposed would not be necessary. I want to know whether the Government intend to continue to take into the Consolidated Revenue the earnings of this Department, so that later on a fresh loan will be required to bring it up to date. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr Bruce: -- The honorable member cannot expect me to explain the policy of the Government by interjection when it is set out in the Budget, the Budget-papers, and the Estimates. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE: -- The honorable gentleman took a. considerable amount of pains to explain what his Budget meant. He estimates a profit of nearly £900,000 on the operations of the Postal Department for the current financial year, and I do not think that the Budget reveals what he intends to do with that surplus. I believe that he intends to take it into the general revenue, and I disapprove entirely of that practice. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr Bruce: -- The honorable member is trying to conduct a cross-examination. I will reply to all these questions later on. Let him express his views now, and I will express mine afterwards. I propose to correct the misapprehension under which the honorable member appears to labour. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE: -- I have asked a very simple question, and the Treasurer has invited me to find out the answer to it as best I can from his Budget. {: .speaker-JOG} ##### Mr Bayley: -- The honorable member might explain his system of averaging income tax. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE: -- I have explained my views on the subject of taxation, and submitted a simple method of averaging. The House declined to permit me to explain a misleading table which the Treasurer put before us. I gave the honorable gentleman my table some days before I submitted my amendment in order that he might have an opportunity to inquire into it. When he was replying to me he had a table circulated amongst honorable members, and when I wished to deal with that table I was informed that I had exhausted my time. The Treasurer's table was submitted as an effective argument against the system of averaging which I had proposed. The figures in that table are very cleverly devised, and I think I see the hand of the Commissioner of Taxation in them. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr Bruce: -- It is only fair to the Commissioner to say that he had nothing to do with the table. I gave the figures to the Commissioner, and he and his Department . worked out the rates. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE: -- I must accept the honorable gentleman's statement that the Commissioner of Taxation did not devise the table. I thought the Treasurer would have questioned the figures I had placed in the hands of honorable members, and I would have been glad if he had attempted to show that my system of averaging is not a fair and reasonable one. Instead of doing so he submitted his table covering a ten years' period. In my table, for simplicity, the periods were cut into terms of five years. In the Treasurer's table the total income covering the two periods of five years, is £15,500, and for the purpose of a regular annual income that amount is divided into ten equal parts. The Treasurer takes the rate on that, and arrives at the figure which honorable members will remember to have seen, namely, £971, as the amount of tax.. It is manifestly unfair to submit that as a test of my scheme. In the table submitted by the Treasurer, a squatter, for instance, with an irregular income is shown to have made in the second period of five years £18,500. If both schemes are applied to a single period of ten years, they give the same results. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr Bruce: -- They do not. It is not true, unless the honorable member alters his period to ten years, instead of five years, that the results which I have shown in my table would follow from the assumed incomes? {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE: -- For the first period of five years the squatter shows a loss, and pays no tax. In the next five years he makes £18,500. and makes it in a very irregular way. He has a fluctuating income, whereas the other man, with a regular average income during the five years' period, makes the same amount of money at the rate of £3,700 a year. These two citizens, as shown in my memorandum, pay precisely the same tax. The Treasurer knows that under my scheme the total taxes paid by a taxpayer over a period of five years, whether his income be received in five equal annual sums or in irregular amounts, are exactly the same. If the honorable gentleman thought that by spreading the averaging over ten years a greater measure of equity would be secured than by .confining it to a five years' period, I should not have objected to such an alteration. Instead of making such a suggestion, however, he abandoned my scheme. Its adoption, I hold, would have been of help to the taxpayer. The Country party have been endeavouring, amongst other things, to put the primary producer on a better basis. The averaging system was first proposed by us, but a member of the Nationalist party forestalled us by moving the adjournment of the House with the object of urging on the Government the adoption of that system in relation to the income tax paid by the primary producers. We did not ask that the system should be applied only to primary producers, although . they are most in need of relief. We believe in its general application. A Royal Commission was appointed to make recommendations as to the best taxation methods to adopt.' That Commission cost the country some thousands of pounds, but the work done by it might easily have been carried out by two or three accountants in Melbourne. Climatic conditions could have no possible bearing on the subject of investigation, yet the Commission travelled all over the Commonwealth. Finally they suggested a method of averaging, the defects in which were quickly discovered. Even members of Parliament were quick to appreciate the fact that it would prejudicially affect them. Members of Parliament had more influence with the Treasurer than had the farmers. The Treasurer explained the proposal to the members of /his party in the little room upstairs, and was told by some of his colleagues, "If we go out of office and our income is thus reduced, this scheme, instead of helping us, will hit us. It will not do." Then followed a few letters in newspapers from pensioners or others on a retiring allowance, who also claimed that the averaging system would be prejudicial to their iu- terests. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr Bruce: -- I know that the honorable member is a seeker after truth, but what he has just said is far removed from the truth. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE: -- I do not know that it is. I have the very best. authority for the statement. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr Bruce: -- That means that the honorable member does not accept my statement ? {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE: -- I should be loath to refuse to accept the honorable members statement, but what are the facts? There was an outcry on the part of those who had declining incomes, and I had it put to me by members of Parliament that they would be hard hit by the proposal. {: #subdebate-19-10-s1 .speaker-JNV} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Bamford:
HERBERT, QUEENSLAND -- I must draw the attention of the honorable member to standing order 266, which provides that - >No member shall allude, to any debate of the same session upon a question or Bill not then being under discussion, nor to any speech made in Committee, except by the indulgence of the House for personal explanations. The honorable member is now discussing the Income Tax Assessment Bill which was passed by the House a day or two ago, {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE: -- Not at all. I am dealing with a purely financial question. There are several methods by which the Commonwealth collects its revenue and the Budget provides for the raising of £15,000,000 or £16,000,000 by direct taxation. I submit, therefore, that I am in order. ' ' We asked for bread, and they gave us a stone." We were promised that relief would 'be given to the man on the land, and it has been given, nol' to him, but to others. The cry of other people has been heard, while that of the primary producer has passed unnoticed by the Government. [With the assistance of the table to which I have already referred, the Treasurer endeavoured to make it appear that there was nothing in my scheme, but I think I have proved that it is a sound one. The scheme that has been adopted will not give anything like equity. In conclusion, I protest most emphatically on behalf of the people I represent against the action of the Government in bringing their financial proposals under review in the dying hours of the Parliament. In such circumstances the Budget must necessarily be ill-considered. Within the last few day3 we have had to deal with a number of Bills of great importance, and now, in the closing hours of the session, we are called upon to dispose of the Budget, involving an expenditure of £60,000,000 or £70,000,000. It is impossible to obtain a proper grasp of the business submitted to us when we are required to deal with it in this hurried manner. Protests, however, seem to be futile. The Government is casehardened. 'It promises economy, but does not practise it. At the close of last session a host of important measures were hurriedly rushed through the House, and I am not surprised that several of them have had to be amended. On this occasion quite a lot of Bills on the notice-paper will have to be abandoned because of the failure of theGovernment to submit them earlier in the session. {: #subdebate-19-10-s2 .speaker-JUB} ##### Mr CAMERON:
Brisbane -- Yesterday I received a communication from a number of invalid and old-age pensioners who are living at the Salvation Army Aged Men's Retreat, Brisbane, in which they expressed a desire that I should present to the House a petition signed by them in reference to old-age pensions. As it is not in the form provided for by our Standing Orders I cannot present it as a petition, but I propose to read it to the Committee. It is as follows: - >Salvation Army Aged Men's Retreat, Glencross-road,Red Hill, {:#subdebate-19-11} #### Brisbane, 6th October, 1922 ToCol. D. C Cameron, C.M.G., D.S.O., {:#subdebate-19-12} #### M.H.B., Parliament House, Melbourne **Sir, -** We, the undersigned residents of the above institution, most of whom are old-age and invalid pensioners, respectfully request you to submit the following petition to the House of Representatives, through **Mr. Austin** Chapman, the mover of the resolution for an increase of the invalid and old-age pensions to £1 per week. We pray for the said increase, or, if that is unobtainable, for 17s. 6d. per week, for the following reasons : - At this home, where the rates are lower than at any other except similar ones of the Salvation Army, we pay from 12s. to 13s. 6d. per week for board and lodging, which leaves us from1s. 6d. to 3s. per week for clothing and other necessaries, not to mention luxuries, which are out of the question. Considering the great increase in the prices of everything, it can be seen that life for us is almost unbearable. We have not the means of travel, and are condemned to a deadly routine of privation after a lifetime spent in the service of our country under arduous conditions of pioneering that prevented us from making provision for our old age, a state of existence little better than that of the cattle we drove on the plains and hills in the years gone by. We have been instrumental in opening up many of the dreary wastes of the north and west for the happiness and comfort of the present and future generations, only to find ourselves destined to poverty and ostracism. But we have faith in those whom we have set to rule over us, and so for this humble matter we will ever pray. I shall be very much obliged if the Treasurer will give this request his earnest consideration. {: #subdebate-19-12-s0 .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I do not think that I am exaggerating when I say that this Budget is more bluff than anything else. The Government pretend to do two things, namely, to give relief from taxation, and to have reduced expenditure. To give colour to their pretensions that they are easing the taxation burdens of the people they are dipping deeply into trust funds prior to the elections. This pretence is an outstanding feature of the Budget; but, of course, such a state of affairs cannot continue. The Government cannot continue indefinitely to dip into the trust funds, and therefore these taxes which have been remitted must eventually be reimposed, or other taxes substituted. In the second place, as I have said, the Government pretend to have reduced expenditure, when, as a matter of fact, all they have done is to decrease expenditure from revenue by £3,000,000, while increasing expenditure from loan to the extent of £4,400,000. Micawber himself never indulged in such slipshod methods of finance as these. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr Bruce: -- Micawber's principle of finance was eminently sound. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- But, of course, the methods of the Government in regard to finance are only in keeping with their general attitude for the whole of the time that they have been allowed to occupy the Treasury bench - a time which, I devoutly hope, is drawing to a close. The present, I think, is a fitting opportunity to briefly expose the misdoings of the Ministry and the Prime Minister. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr Fleming: -- There will hardly be time, before we rise, to do that. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- At all events, I shall devote as much time as is allowed me under our Standing Orders to expose the wrong-doing of the present Government - misdeeds which have been covered up with more or less success during the past two or three years. If by doing this I shall be assisting to prevent a continuance of this state of affairs, I take it that my effort will not have been made in vain, The trouble is to know where to begin. If I were to remind honorable members of the beginning of these misdeeds I should have to go so far back in our political history that I could never hope to cover the ground in the time allowed to me. Some honorable members now associated with the Ministry were not then in the Government, so responsibility for these matters cannot very well be charged against them. The Prime Minister himself **(Mr. Hughes)** must bear the brunt of those early scandals. It is just as well, at this stage, to remind the general public that the present head of the Government was responsible for the Ready-Earle scandal of some years ago. If the Prime Minister had been guilty of no other offence against political decency that, in itself, would have been sufficient to unfit him from ever again occupying a place in the public life of this country. Honorable members will, no doubt, recall that at that time, when the Government were in a minority of one in another place, one honorable senator, not a supporter of the Government, conveniently became ill. A most remarkable feature of the whole business was that evidently the Prime Minister knew a fortnight prior to the incident that the senator referred to was about to become ill and resign his seat, and. so another man from Tasmania - a man who would be a slave to the Prime Minister - was waiting on the doorstep to take his place. In this way the Government got their majority. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- It was suggested that the senator referred to was suffering from impecuniosity. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Whatever he was suffering from, it was remarkable that the Prime Minister was able to peer into the future and to know that **Senator Ready** was about to become ill. The Prime Minister was thus able to lay his plans well, with the result that, in the twinkling of an eye, the Government minority in the Senate was converted into a majority. As I have already said, some honorable members now in the Ministry had no responsibility in connexion with that scandal. In that matter the Prime Minister stood alone. But I am. not going to dwell at length upon those earlier incidents. I propose to confine my remarks to those misdeeds that may be charged up against the Government during the past three years. It is my intention to assemble these charges so that the people may look at them *in globo* and not forget them, because I believe that if they will only think hard enough about them it will be impossible for the Government to remain in office after the coming election. For these later acts of maladministration the majority of the present Ministers, of course, must take their full share of responsibility. Let me refer to one of the very latest, namely, the sugar scandal. That in itself unfits the Government for continuing in office. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The finding of the Committee was, " Government figures upheld." Don't forget that. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- In the sugar business there are certain outstanding features which cannot be denied by the Minister, who has talked more upon the subject than any other honorable member, and has given less information. The Prime Minister declared that he intended to abide by the decision of the Tariff Board as to the Tariff to be levied. Was that promise fulfilled ? Of course, it was not. A duty is proposed in the interests of the refining companies - principally the Colonial Sugar Refining Company - as a *quid pro quo* which the Prime Minister felt in duty bound to give to the company. The action of the Government yesterday was a breach of good faith. This Sugar agreement was the subject of a reference to the Public Accounts Committee only a few weeks ago, and the House certainly understood then that no action would be taken before that Committee had made its report to Parliament. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The question of the Tariff on sugar was not submitted to the Public Accounts Committee. *Sitting suspended from 9 to 11 a.m. (Friday) .* {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- The Government's proposal to impose on imported white sugar a rate of duty *£2* above the rate recommended by the Tariff Board was simply intended to be in the nature of a present to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, whose manager at one time said -that his company had contributed large sums *to* the election funds of the Nationalist party. As the Colonial Sugar Refining Company does not forget the Nationalist party, it was quite to be expected that the party would not forget the company. The list of scandals associated with the Ministry's term of office is enough to sweep any Government from the Treasury bench. Everything associated with their control of sugar has been discreditable, which is the least I can say of them. It has been a case of " cover up " from beginning to end. Instead of waiting for the finding of the Public Accounts Committee, the Government brought down their proposal for increased sugar duties, and sought to- finalize the matter before the Committee had presented its report. {: #subdebate-19-12-s1 .speaker-JWY} ##### The CHAIRMAN (Hon J M Chanter: -- Order.' The Committee has al ready dealt with that matter. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- The Government's action in regard to the wireless agreement is the second in the series of their wrong-doings to which I shall refer, because on the eve of an election I think it is the bounden duty of every member of this House to let the people know exactly what the Government have been doing, particularly during last session. I need not dwell upon this matter except to say that in this, also', everything associated with the business was discreditable to the Ministry. The facts are all too fresh te need recapitulating beyond saying that when the Labour party challenged the Government on the score that, although the Commonwealth had provided the greater proportion of the capital of the new company, they had the least representation on tho board of directors, the Government immediately proceeded to appoint a seventh director. But when it was shown who that gentleman was, the Government' pulled him out, or else he pulled himself out, because the position was too unsavoury for him. And now we have the Prime Minister accepting the position. Let me say that I totally disapprove of his being on the board of directors, but, although he is there, the company still have a majority on the board. It only shows that the Government are willing to do the bid ding of those who provide their election f unds. I suppose it is a matter of cam.mon knowledge that Sit1 William Vicars, a member of tha Wireless Board, and **Sir Thomas-** Hughes were prominent in the presentation of that £25,000 to the .Prime Minister. At least, so a Sydney paper says, and a newspaper ought to know that, much. In the .third of the series of scandals we have a very fishy business, which has already been referred to this morning by the .honorable member far Gwydir **(Mr. Cunningham);** but I propose to speak about' it again, because the circumstances surrounding the sale of inferior flour to South Africa are worth repeating. An unscrupulous band of speculators, instead of being punished fear having injured the good name of this country, were presented with compensation amounting to about £115,000, to which the Government contributed, about £32,000 and the Wheat Board £82,500, from money directly drawn from the farmers of Australia. When honorable members on this side of the House asked for the names of the individuals to whom the money was paid the Prime Minister absolutely refused to give them. Surely when the people of this country are called upon to pay money they are entitled to know to whom the payment is to be made. As I said at the beginning of my remarks, I do- not intend to go through the whole list of the wrong-doings of the Government. The time allowed me under the Standing Orders would not permit me to do so. The fourth in my list is the Kidman Mayoh shipbuilding scandal, the circumstances of which are still fresh in the minds of honorable members. The firm of Kidman and Mayoh undertook to build six wooden ships for the Commonwealth Government, and although they did not touch four of them, managed to draw £52,000 from the Government as compensation for the cancellation of these after the war. The contractors got £114.000 from the Government fox building two vessels which an expert appointed by the Public Works Committee, which was inquiring into the contract, said would have gone to the bottom if they had gone outside the Heads, so unseaworthy were they. The Public Works Committee after an> inspection accepted the advice tendered to them by the expert, and declared that these ships were unseaworthy, and the interpretation which the Attorney-General put on their finding was that the contractors should return the sum of £114,000 paid to them by the Government. But, instead of this being done, the Government appointed **Sir Mark** Sheldon to hold a secret inquiry into the very matter upon which the Public Works Committee had submitted its report, and he gave a verdict for £50,000 less than the amount which the Public Works Committee had declared the Government were entitled to get back from the contractors. A few days ago I asked the AttorneyGeneral if any of that money had been paid by them, and he said he did not know. I do not think that any money has been paid over, nor is it likely to be paid over until pressure is brought to bear on those individuals who were guilty of one of the" worst actions that could possibly have been done against the Commonwealth. It did not matter to the contractors that lives might be lost on these boats, which were totally unseaworthy, and instead of their being punished, they were practically presented by the Government with £50,000. Several ,of the scandals I intend to pass by, but the sale of the Commonwealth Woollen Mills is worthy of mention. The Returned Soldiers League waa being supplied by these mills with cloth at cost price plus ls. 6d. per yard. This concession was a boon to the returned men. But because of influence exerted in a. well-known quarter in Melbourne about which the Treasurer **(Mr. Bruce)** knows a great deal; because certain gentlemen in Flinders-lane have said that it is totally wrong for the Commonwealth Government to run these mills _in competition with Flinders-lane, the Government have come to a decision to sell the mills, and now the returned soldiers will be obliged to bargain with Flinders-lane for any cloth they may require in future. It is a gross injustice to those who have fought the nation's battles. Honorable members opposite promised the soldiers that nothing would be too good for them when they came back from the Front. They are getting nothing. Number six in my list of the wrong-doings of the Government is the sale of certain wooden ships. Vessels which cost the Commonwealth about £830,000 were offered for sale. Tenders were invited, and a tender of £15,000 was submitted, but turned down, the tenderer's deposit being returned. Afterwards a tender for £10,000 was accepted, so that the Commonwealth sustained a loss of £5,000 by not accepting the first tender. {: .speaker-KLG} ##### Mr Mahony: -- The ships were sold not by tender, but by a secret arrangement. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- The honorable member for Dalley has already exposed the matter in this House. That transaction in itself was enough to discredit any Government.- In regard to War Service Homes, the Public Accounts Committee submitted a very lengthy report in which, amongst other things, it drew attention to land that was bought in New South Wales and elsewhere, which the Director of Work3 in New South Wales said should never have been purchased. At Newcastle, for instance, a certain person purchased land for £2,000 a few weeks before it was unloaded on the War Service Homes Commission for £8,500, and the Works Director found, when he went to inspect it, that there was a foot of water on the ground, which was incapable of being drained. Land purchased at Goulburn was subject to floods, and the Works Director said that after ' rain the houses erected there were too damp for men to live in, whilst the construction throughout was faulty and contrary to plans and specifications. I do not know anything more discreditable to the Government than their association with transactions of that kind. I leave it to members of the Committee to say whether I am exaggerating any one detail of these matters. I stated at the outset of my remarks that I would deal only with matters of comparatively recent date, and that I would not revive some of the older transactions, the unpleasant odour of which still hangs about. Any one of the things I have mentioned should be enough to sweep any Government from the Treasury bench. When this House has asked for information in regard to even minor matters, it has been refused by the Prima Minister - the gentleman who yesterday used the first personal * pronoun so often that the capital " I " fount in the Government Printing Office is almost exhausted. The right honorable gentleman refused to give us information in regard to the £8,500 spent by **Senator** Pearce on his trip to Washington. Wo were told, in effect, that we were not entitled to know the details of his disbursements. The House and the country had a right to that information, because it is almost inconceivable that on such a trip **Senator Pearce** could have spent £8,500 unless he did so lavishly and improperly. In alluding to the numerous misdeeds of the Prime Minister, one feels inclined to refer back to the moratorium, which the Prime Minister apparently extended to suit himself because there was a mortgage on his own property. He was the first to benefit by the moratorium. {: #subdebate-19-12-s2 .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! That is a personal reflection on the Prime Minister. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- It was certainly very much out of order for him to do what I have stated. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! I ask the honorable member to withdraw his statement about the Prime Minister. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Very well. We have dealt with all these things in detail before, but lest it be thought that only honorable members on this side of the House make these charges, or that they are exaggerated, let me quote the opinion of an erstwhile ardent supporter of the Government, a man who speaks for a large section of the antiLabour forces in this country. The President of the Victorian Employers' Federation **(Mr. Ashworth)** said on Monday - >The National party has outlived its usefulness, and is now degrading the political life of Australia. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- It is not in order to quote statements of that kind from newspaper reports. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I am not quoting from a newspaper report. In order that I might not be accused of doing so, I made notes of the speech and I am using them to refresh my memory. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- It is quite competent for the honorable member to criticise the actions of the 'Government, but he is not in order in repeating unparliamentary expressions used by persons who are not members of Parliament. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Does your ruling mean that I cannot quote the remarks of any individual outside the House who presumes to criticise the present Government? {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- My ruling is that any statements based upon newspaper re ports, wherein non-members abusively criticise members of the House, are not in order. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- I rise to a point of order. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- I have given my ruling. The honorable member may, if he so chooses, dissent from it in the usual way. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- What steps must I take in order to dissent? {: .speaker-KLG} ##### Mr Mahony: **Mr. Mahony,** *interjecting,* {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order! The honorable member for Dalley must cease interjecting. I intend to maintain order in the Committee. {: .speaker-KQP} ##### Mr McDonald: -- You are a one-eyed Chairman. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- I want your ruling made clear, sir. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- I have given a clear ruling. If the honorable member desires to dissent from it he must state his dissent in writing, whereupon I shall submit the matter to the Committee. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- Do I understand that the honorable member may not quote something said at a public meeting? You will not make progress by bulldozing members. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- The honorable member for Hume **(Mr. Parker Moloney)** was quoting from a newspaper report of a speech which contained a tirade of abuse of members of this House. I ruled that he was not in order in so doing. The honorable member for Yarra may dissent from that ruling if he chooses. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- I would move to dissent from your ruling if it could be dealt with forthwith. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I do not wish to say anything further about your ruling, sir, but I have my own opinion of it. The very expression you used in delivering your ruling shows that it was an entirely biased one. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! If the honorable member casts reflection on the Chair I shall order him to discontinue {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Certain statements were made at a public meeting, and I shall repeat them as well as my memory will allow me to do without having any newspaper report near me. **Mr. Ashworth** said that the National party had outlived its usefulness, and was degrading the political life of Australia. He also said that an endeavour was being made to frighten Liberals into the belief that if they did not support the Prime Minister **(Mr. Hughes)** Labour would come into power. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order! The honorable member is deliberately reading ihat extract {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- It is not from a newspaper. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- I have watched ihe honorable member, and I will not be louted while I occupy this position. I nsk the honorable member to be reasonable. He has the fullest latitude of speech on the Budget, and surely it is unnecessary for him to drag in the opinions of outside persons. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I will put my notes away so that I cannot look a.t them. The latter part of **Mr. Ashworth's** statement was that the Prime Minister was endeavouring to cement together the workers, returned soldiers, and a lot of other people in the community, by resorting to every form of class hatred and sectarianism. If the Labour Government came into power there would be a return to responsible Government - a thing almost forgotten in Australia since the present Prime Minister has been in power. **Mr. Ashworth** said that the Prime Minister has clung to office " by means of sops and bribes." {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I have completed the reference. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- The words the honorable member has used are a reflection upon the Prime Minister, and are, therefore, distinctly disorderly. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- They were not my words; they were those of the President of the Employers' Federation. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- But the honor.orable member is aware t'hat if he quotes from a newspaper report he must make himself responsible for the statements contained therein. {: .speaker-KNH} ##### Mr Mathews: -- That rule applies only to questions founded upon newspaper reports. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Will the honorable member for Melbourne Ports please be silent? **Mr. Speaker** and his predecessors have ruled that if honorable members quote from newspaper reports, even if they memorize them, they must be held responsible for the statements they repeat. {: .speaker-KNH} ##### Mr Mathews: -- We have never had such a ruling before. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- If the honorable member does not obey the Chair- {: .speaker-KQP} ##### Mr McDonald: -- Don't talk about it; do it. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- I shall do it. The honorable member must recognise his responsibility in the matter, and if he directly charges the Prime Minister with bribery, the remark is distinctly disorderly. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- It is true, anyhow. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! I ask the honorable member for Yarra **(Mr. Scullin)** to withdraw- that remark. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- Withdraw what? {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- That it is true. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- What is true? {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- The charge that the Prime Minister is guilty of bribery. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- I did not say that. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- I distinctly heard the words, and I shall not permit personal reflections to be made on any honorable member, irrespective of the side of the House on which" he sits. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- You have no right to misinterpret my meaning; you do not know what I meant. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- The honorable member for Yarra must be silent. He should know the rules of the House. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- I have freedom of speech. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Perhaps the all-night sitting has had an ill-effect on honorable members. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- On the Chair. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- With due respect to you, **Mr. Chairman,** I submit that your ruling is entirely new to me and also to many other honorable members. The words used were not mine, and I was careful to say that they were those of a person who belongs to a different party from that with which I am associated. I was not allowed to read the words, but I managed to memorize them. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- Who made the speech? {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- The' president of the Chamber of Commerce. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- After a good deal of unnecessary trouble,' I have managed to let honorable members know that there are those in the community outside the Labour party who have the courage to expose the wrong-doing of this Government. A few days ago the situation in the Near East was prominently before the people, and there are two outstanding facts in connexion with this matter which should be known. Our position was very precarious for several days, and not only the British Prime Minister, but also the head of the Commonwealth Government apparently forgot that there was such a body as the League of Nations. We were almost on the verge of war without the slightest thought being given to the League of Nations, which is supposed to intervene in international disputes. The Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Charlton)** was the first to mention the League. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- Before the matter was discussed in the House a cable had been transmitted by the Prime Minister to the High Commissioner. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- That was after the Labour Leader had spoken. A statement by the Prime Minister did appear in the press to the effect that we would send a contingent. {: .speaker-KNH} ##### Mr Mathews: -- I think he said, " I will send a contingent." {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Yes, he did; I know he did not say that he would take one. Unfortunately, there are a number who have swallowed the dope offered, after the last war, when it was said that that was a conflict which had ended all wars. Many innocents believed that such would be the case, and it must have been a rude awakening to read the Prime Minister's statement that he would send a contingent. There was not to be any referendum, but the men were to be conscripted. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- If the Prime Minister thought he would have to go, he would travel farther than from Bendigo to North Sydney. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I have not included North Sydney in the points I wish to discuss, but now that matter has been raised, it may as well be mentioned that the candidate who had been selected in the Nationalist interests and who had started his campaign in that electorate was hurled out to make room for the Prime Minister. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- He was sent to the bathroom. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I do not know how it. was done, but it was a sudden death way of moving in the matter. {: .speaker-JWY} ##### The CHAIRMAN (Hon J M Chanter: -- Order! Will the honorable member for Hume tellme what this has to do with the Budget? {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I was under the impression that in the Budget debate my scope was practically unlimited. Any one of the wrongful acts I have mentioned should be sufficient to remove the members of the Ministry from the Treasury bench, and if the full facts were known, they would not have the remotest chance of being returned to power. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- No one expects that. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I know the honorable member for Wimmera **(Mr. Stewart)'** feels as I do, and it will be his duty to follow when I have concluded my criticisms. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- There is no shortage of ammunition. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- There is not. It is the proud boast of the Labour party that although there have been Labour Governments in the State Parliaments, and in the Federal arena from 1910 to 1913, and from 1914 to 1916, no one has been able to say that any Minister connected with the Labour party has ever been charged with bribery or corruption. I now come to another point. While all this wrong-doing has been going on, although the Government had not a majority in the House without including **Mr. Speaker,** they carried on in a shameful manner with support from outside their own ranks. Whilst the Government are primarily responsible for many acts of maladministration, and the Leader of the Country party **(Dr. Earle Page)** is taking great care to dissociate himself just now from the present Government and everything they do, it must not be forgotten that often a majority of the members of the Country party supported the Government when any vital question arose. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- That is not true. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- The statement cannot be contradicted. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- The honorable member said a majority. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I shall quote the division lists giving the exact numbers to show that members of the Country party have supported the Government when it was in danger. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- And so have the members of the honorable member's party. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Never. I challenge the honorable member to prove that when any vital question was to be decided, the members of the Labour party have voted to keep this Government in power. It is only fair to say that while extreme steps have been taken by the Leader of the Country party to prove that there is a difference between his party and that of the Nationalists, the facts and figures are against him. I shall go back to the 10th March, 1920, when the then Leader of the Country party **(Mr. McWilliams)** in fulfilment of an election promise, moved to reduce a vote in Supply by one-half. When the division was taken two members of the Country party crossed over and supported the Government. I know that two members do not constitute a majority of the Country party, but their votes made all the difference, and had the effect of keeping the Government in power. On the 30th July, 1920, a proposal was submitted by the Labour Leader with the object of preventing the further deportation of residents from Australia without public trial by jury; and on that occasion the members of the Country party voted with the Government. On a statement made by the PostmasterGeneral, an amendment was moved by myself on behalf of the Labour party with the object of increasing postal and telephonic facilities in country districts. This, of course, was of vital interest to the country members, but only five members of the Corner party voted for the amendment. That division will be found recorded on page 3194 of *Hansard.* On the 7th October, 1920, as reported on page 4439 of *Hansard,* the Leader of the Country party moved a hostile motion condemning the Government for the purchase of saw-mills in Queensland without first consulting Parliament. This motion involved the fate of the Government, which, however, escaped by two votes, only eight members of the Country party voting for the motion. On the 12th October, 1920, as reported on page 5505 of *Hansard,* on the Judiciary Bill an amendment was moved by the Labour party in favour of the moratorium being extended for the protection of primary producers. This, again, was a proposal of great importance to country people, but only two members of the Country party voted for it, the others following the Government. When the first guarantee of 5s. per bushel on wheat was under discussion, and there was a proposal that it should be paid at railway sidings, none of the Country party voted with honorable members on this side in favor of the guarantee; that was on the 22nd October, 1920, and is recorded on page 5928 of *Hansard.* As a matter of fact, the Deputy Leader of the Country party moved as an amendment to that motion that payment should be made partly in certificates. On the 10th November, 1920, as recorded on page 6358 of *Hansard,* there was a division on the Commonwealth Bank Bill on an amendment moved by the honorable member for Werriwa **(Mr. Lazzarini)** to provide for a system of cash certificates for rural industries, so as to relieve the primary producers from the grip of financial institutions. Surely that was an important proposal from a country point of view; but the Country party voted with the Government. When the Budget of 1921-22 was under discussion the Leader of the Labour party, according to *Hansard,* page 12053, moved to reduce the first item as an instruction to the Government to reduce the military expenditure by £2,000.000, in order to square the ledger. This was a question of economy, but no members of the Country party voted with the Labour party. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWilliams: -- It is only fair to say that the Leader of the Country party had given notice of an amendment before the amendment of the Labour party was submitted. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -The honorable member is quite right; the Leader of the Country party had given notice of a precisely similar amendment. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWilliams: -- No, no! {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- At any rate, the amendment of the Country party Leader was an instruction to the Government to reconsider the Estimates with a view to reducing the expenditure by £2,000,000 odd. When the division was taken every member of the Labour party voted for it, but one member of the Country party crossed over and gave the' necessary majority to the Government. As a matter of fact, the Country party were never solid on any of those occasions. On the 8th December, 1921, the honorable member for Gwydir **(Mr. Cunningham),** on the Income Tax Bill, moved that the tax should be paid only on the live stock existing at the time of furnishing a return. The honorable member pointed out that it was unfair to tax the primary producer on the natural increase of his stock before he had had a chance to realize on it. That this was a most important question is shown by the fact that subsequently members of the Country party went to farmers' conferences and pointed out that a number of producers in drought areas had had to shoot their stock as a consequence of this tax. But when the division was taken on this matter of vital interest to primary producers, only one member of the Country party voted for the amendment. On page 1368 of *Hansard* it is recorded that the Leader of the Country party moved to reduce the price of sugar to 5d. per lb., and on that occasion a member of that party crossed over and voted against his colleague. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- Unlike honorable members opposite, we are not in the grip of a. 'cast-iron machine ! {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Then what is the good of the honorable member and others in the corner calling themselves a party? The honorable member now admits my contention. On the 30th August, 1922, according to *Hansard,* page 1773, the honorable member .for Hunter **(Mr. Charlton)** submitted a motion of censure on the Government for their maladministration in connexion with War Service Homes. On that motion the members of the Country party had a good deal to say in condemnation of the Government, but in the division four of them voted against the motion.- I shall not cite every instance of the kind, but merely refer to the recent occasion when the adjournment of the House was moved by myself on behalf of the Labour party in support of a 4s. guarantee, and, although there were several Country party members within the building, only one voted for the motion. One member of the party, who had spoken in favour of the guaran- J tee,, did not vote at all. All the questions under discussion were of vital im- portance to rural districts, some, of course, being much more important than others; and the point is that on every occasion there was a division in the ranks . of the Country party. While all these scandals were being perpetrated by the Government, and there was a chance to embarrass the Government, the members of the Country party were always there to save it from disaster. I refer to this matter now because it is grossly unfair, in the dying days of the Parliament, that the honorable member for Cowper **(Dr. Earle Page)** should go about the country endeavouring to make people believe that the party he leads is entirely different from the Nationalist party, when, as a matter of fact, they have lived together, voted together, and in every way acted together. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr Laird Smith: -- I have voted with you- in many divisions. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Yes, but not on vital questions. However, those who voted with the Government must share the responsibility for the Government's actions. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWilliams: -- The awkward thing is that the Prime Minister says that we are in alliance with the Labour party 1 {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- We know his object in making that statement. Proof of everything I have said can be found in the *Hansard* records. It is not speeches but votes that count, and the division lists show that on all vital issues the Government have been kept in power by members of the Country party. While the Government is primarily responsible', what blame there is must be shared by the members of that party. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr Laird Smith: -- Did not a majority of the -Country party vote with honorable members opposite on all critical occasions ? {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- If the honorable member looks up the *Hansard* records he will find that. is not so. I know that there are members of the Country party who at times do not agree with the majority of their colleagues, but desire to live up to the name of " Country party." Why, otherwise, so distinguish, themselves from the Nationalist party? One or two members of the Country party are consistent, and regard themselves as returned as opponents of the Nationalist party. But tha party's record as a whole makes it hard to realize why there should be two names to distinguish the anti -Labour forces. Before I sit down, **Mr. Chanter,** I should like to say that if I reflected on the Chair in the early part of my speech there was no intention on my part to be in any way unfair. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- I assure the honorable member that there is no ill-feeling on my part. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I am glad to hear that, sir. I have said nothing that is not based on absolute fact - on evidence given in regard to scandals I have recalled. The Government are now going to the constituencies, and itis only fair that the true facts should be put fully before the country.I have laid those facts before the Committee to-day, and I am going to lay them before the public within the next few weeks. {: #subdebate-19-12-s3 .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART:
Wimmera -- The honorable member for Hume **(Mr. Parker Moloney)** has delivered a speech in which, from beginning to end, there was not a sentence of original talk. Any stranger in this Chamber would have been as much puzzled at the end as at the beginning as to what the debate was about. The honorable member repeatedly appealed to *Hansard* as bearing out his statement that a majority of the Country party voted with the Government on every vital question. {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- That will help the Country party during the election more than anything else that can be said ! {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- The Country party, during the election, will stand on its own feet, and fight its own battle, quite independently of the honorable member for Darling **(Mr. Blakeley)** and the honorable member for Hume. The last-named honorable gentleman has threatened to expose the Country party's methods when he goes before the electors; but I think he will find that there are members of the party to which I belong who are able to return criticism quite as keen as his own of my colleagues and. myself. How- ever, I do not wish to follow the honorable member in his re-hash of ancient history; my object is to say a few words about the Budget, which, apparently, has been forgotten for the last hour or two. I desire to say, first of all, that for many reasons I do not intend this morning to attempt a critical analysis of it, the main one being the circumstances under which we are conducting the de bate. In my opinion the Budget proposals of the Ministry, as submitted by the Treasurer **(Mr. Bruce),** are a sham and a delusion from an economy point of view. Theyare a sham because they are put forward in a Budget which purportsto provide for the strictest economy, and they are a delusion because, while ostensibly remitting taxation, they, in effect; only achieve that object by drawing upon funds which, in my opinion, the Treasurer has no right to touch. The late Treasurer **('Sir Joseph Cook)** was very trenchantly, . and, I think, in some respects unfairly, criticised because of the Budget proposals which he brought down last year, but he did have the decency, at least, to keep his hands off the accumulated surplus, and did not attempt to bolster up his Budget by the method adopted by the present . Treasurer. While the remission of taxation has, no doubt, pleased some sections of the community, I fear that those who seem to be satisfied with it are not aware that they can only have one more edition of it. After that the inevitable result will be that the Government which happens to be in power - and I do not think it will comprise the present occupants of the Treasury bench - will have to do one of two things - economize, or reimpose the taxation which is now being remitted. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWilliams: -- I wish to draw attention to the state of the House. If we are to sit here for two or three days all members ought to share in it. *[Quorum formed.]* {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- I wish to quote an extract from a financial ' statement made by the Right Honorable. W. P. Massey, Minister for Finance in New Zealand. The statement was made in Committee of Supply of the New Zealand Parliament on the 15th August, 1922. I quote this extract because it shows that, when a Ministry sets out to tackle in real earnest the job of squaring the ledger, it can be done. The following is under the heading of "Economies and. Savings": - >Although it is somewhat difficult to express in precise figures the full extent of the economies and savings that have been and are being effected, I have attached a table which shows the result so far of the operation of the Public Expenditure Adjustment Act and of economies effected by the Departments. I have had conferences with the Heads of the respective Departments, whofullyrecognise the necessity of reducing administrative expenditure to the lowest possible figure, and are rendering valuable assistance. Honorable members will recognise that a general re-organization to effect economymust be a gradual process, as ill-considered savings only lead to extravagance and 'waste. The duty which has devolved uponthe Government is by no meansa pleasant one, especially when faced with the absolute necessity of reducing cash grants and services, as well as dispensing withstaff,at atime when employment isdifficult to obtain, but thebalance betweentaxation and expenditure must be maintained upon an equitable and sound basis. Justifiable and desirable expenditure has had to be postponed for the simple reason that at present the country, (cannot afford it. The results which 1 summarize hereunder indicate the actual reductions and savings effected in detail, and also the economies now being effected and proposed, including those in the table referred to. The period under review runs from the 1st April, 1921, at which date I directed the operation of special measures to bring about the necessaryreductions. As the adjusting and co-ordinating process is gradual, and 1 desire to bring these changes about with as little disturbance as possible to the various public utilities which are used by all classes of the community, the full effect of the economies underaction and proposed cannot yet show in the annual appropriations. The effect of the figures quoted by **Mr. Massey,** which I will not worry the House by -repeating in detail, is that last year theGovernment ofNew Zealand spent £28,466,838, or £886,516 less than the amount appropriated by Parliament. That was one result of the prompt and decisive action taken by theGovernment of New Zealand. While the NewZealandParliament spent £886,000 less than was appropriated by Parliament, the present Commonwealth Ministry spent, approximately, £1,000,000 more. The report, which circumstances render it inadvisable for me to quote fully, shows quite clearly that there is a tremendous difference between the result achieved by the New Zealand Ministry and the result achieved by the present Commonwealth Ministry. . There is intense dissatisfaction with many of the details of the Budget as submitted by the Treasurer. I do not intend to take the individual items of the Estimates and criticise them, but I want to protest very strongly against the circumstances in which that Budget is being debated. To leave what is the most important business of the year until thedving hours of the session, and to take it up then after a prolonged and exhaust ing sitting, when members are physically and mentally incapable of concentrating their minds upon it, is an offence which will not be condoned by the general public, although it is in keeping with many other action's of the Government during thepast two or three years. One little incident to which I wish again to refer happened in the early hours of this morning; I allude to the unsportsmanlike action of the Acting Leader of the House **(Mr. Greene)** in being thesole representative in this House who objected to granting a courtesywhich is almost invariably extended to the Leader of a party, by allowing him an extension of time for his Speech. The Acting Leaderof the House refused, and he was the only member of the House, asf ar as Ican understand, who did ref use, to give the honorable member forCowper **(Dr. Earle Page)** an extension of time in order that he might criticise the Budget and make his speech upon tie economy proposals of the Government. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I was not, as a matter of fact, the only member who objected. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- The Minister was one, and a very prominent one; and I thinkhe should have been the last member ofthis House to take such action. I am absolutely certain that had the position been reversed the honorable member for Cowper would have beenthe last member of the House who would have attempted to stop the Minister from speaking. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -Considering what the honorable member has done to me this session ? {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- I recognise that there is an intense personal feeling between the two honorable members, and I regret it. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -The honorable member for Cowper practically accused me of corruption. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- No, he did not. I well remember the incident to which the Minister refers, and, as a matter of fact, I intended at that time to rise and make it quite clear that the Minister had mis- understood the action of the honorable member. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -I did not misunderstand the honorable member's action. It was deliberate. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- The honorable member for Cowper, I honestly believe, had not the slightest intention of reflect- ing upon the Minister personally, or of accusing him of corruption. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- He should have said so. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- I believe he did say so. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The honorable member did not, although I challenged him. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- My Leader said so, at any rate, to me, and to other members of the party, in our party room; and he has repeated it over and over again. Speaking for myself - and, I repeat, for the Leader of the Country party - I say that I have never yet made such a charge, for I have never had any justification for so doing. I have never even thought anything of the kind. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I accept that statement, willingly, so far as the honorable member is concerned. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- I have made no secret of my attitude towards the Government. But, in all that I may have said and done, while being both consistent and persistent, I have always tried to be perfectly fair. I dissociate myself, therefore, from any suggestion of levelling at anybody a charge of corruption. So, also, do the whole of the members of the Country party. Honorable Members. - Hear, hear! {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Then, let your Leader say so. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- It was rather childish - certainly it was not very manly - for the Minister, in getting a " bit of his own back," to take the course of action which he adopted this morning. The incident was altogether in bad taste, and that is saying the least of it. In the circumstances in which honorable members are placed at this hour of a sitting which began at 11 o'clock on Thursday morning, I have not attempted to particularly criticise the Budget . . The Treasurer **(Mr. Bruce)** must recognise that a close and careful analysis of his Budget proposals is now out of the question. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- But the honorable member is enjoying as favorable an opportunity, and may speak for as long, as he could do if the House were to continue to sit for another month. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- The debate should be so conducted that every member might have a chance to express his views, if necessary, upon every line and feature of the Budget. That would be out of the question, of course, to-day. In what circumstances am I speaking at this moment ? {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- I never heard the honorable member in better form. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- I thank the honorable member for his tactful comment, but I refuse to allow myself to be flattered. I repeat that the conditions under which this debate is being conducted are such as to render it impossible for honorable members to give to the Budget proposals the full and critical analysis which they demand.For that reason I move - That all words after "That" be left out, with a view to inserting, in lieu thereof, the following : - " the item be postponed in order that the Government may obtain four months' Supply, so that the Budget and Estimates should be dealt with by the new Parliament." {: .speaker-JWY} ##### The CHAIRMAN (Hon J M Chanter: -- I cannot accept the proposed amendment, since it has not been presented in conformity with the rules and orders of the Committee. The purpose of the honorable member may be secured, however, if he moves in another form, namely, that the item be reduced, by a specific sum, as an instruction - and then he may give his grounds for so moving. But the honorable member may not attach conditions in the way which he now proposes. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWilliams: -- What is the difference between moving for the postponement of an item and for its reduction? {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Some days ago, I looked into the question of a proposed postponement; and, here again, the Committee is bound and guided by the practice of the British House ofCommons, which regards such an amendment as an abstract motion not relevant to the matter before the Chair. The proposed amendment is not in order, and I cannot accept it. Mr.STEWART.- My amendment not having been accepted, I take it that I shall be free to move another amendment in the proper manner. I accept the suggestion of the Chairman, and now move - That the item be reduced by £1. I do this in order that the Government may obtain four months' Supply so that the Budget and Estimates shall be dealt with by the new Parliament. ' {: #subdebate-19-12-s4 .speaker-L1P} ##### Mr WISE:
Gippsland .- I desire to take this opportunity, which is the earliest that has been afforded me, to refer to certain comments in the report of the Acting Public Service Commissioner, which was laid on the table of this House on Wednesday. I may say that I was absent when the document was presented, and I did not know of the circumstances until I saw, in the *Herald* that evening, some startling headlines. The newspaper item was headed, " Soft-hearted Minister," "'Dismissed officer reinstated," " Federal Commissioner's scathing report." The press report proceeds to relate, with comments by the Acting Commissioner, two instances of " Ministerial interference in the case of Federal public servants whose dismissal had been recommended by the Acting Commissioner." The *Herald* adds :- - >The name of the Minister concerned was1 deliberately withheld in the report, in order that no personal note might intrude. In justice to those honorable gentlemen who were my colleagues in the Ministry, I take this earliest opportunity to say that I am the Minister referred to. In the first place, I wish to express my opinions on the attitude which the Acting Commissioner adopts in regard to the position of the Minister concerned in relation to himself. The Acting Commissioner states : - >I do not propose to discuss the merits or demerits of the offences with which the officers were charged. Honorable members will presently learn why the Acting Commissioner does not propose to do so. I intend, however, to discuss them very fully. The Acting Commissioner proceeds : - and I wish to make it clear that there is no question as to the power of a Minister to submit to the Governor-General a recommendation contrary to mine, or as to the power of the Governor-General to disapprove my recommendation. The point I wish to establish is that it is most undesirable that a Minister should intervene to vary the action proposed by the Public Service Commissioner for the punishment of an officer. " I entirely dissent from that position, and I think that every member of the Government, and every member of Parliament who has ever held Ministerial office, would do the same-, *n* I want to know where Ministerial' responsibility comes in if a Minister is to be a rubber stamp in the matter of recommendations made by the Commissioner. I doubt very much whether the Acting Commissioner had any right to make a recommendation in respect of any matter such as those which are under review. In the Public Service Act, the only power which the Commissioner has to approach the GovernorGeneral is set out as follows: - {: type="1" start="5"} 0. . . . The Commissioner shall submit for the consideration of the Governor-General reports as to any matters requiring to be dealt with by the Governor-General under this Act. ... The section speaks of " reports," not of " recommendations." This is one of the matters with which the Governor-General has to. deal. Sub-section 5 of section 46 - the punishment section - states: - {: type="1" start="5"} 0. If any sUch charges are admitted, or are found by the Board of Inquiry to be proved, then, on the recommendation of the Chief Officer, the Permanent Head may, subject to the regulations, impose a penalty upon such offending officer, or may deprive him of his leave of absence during a specified period; or the Commissioner may, according to the nature of the offence, reduce such officer to a lower doss or grade and salary and wages,- or the Governor-General may dismiss such officer. . . The only case in which a recommendation is there referred to is the recommendation by the Chief Officer to the Permanent Head. The Commissioner has power to inflict certain punishment himself. Nothing at all is said or provided about a recommendation from him with regard to dismissals by the Governor-General. There is, however, one specific case in which the Governor-General acts on the Commissioner's recommendation. Section 65 says : - >If an officer appears to the Commissioner, after a report from the Permanent Head or an Inspector, to be unfit to discharge or incapable of discharging the duties of his office-, efficiently, the Commissioner or any Inspector may refer the question to a Board of Inquiry, and if such Board finds that such officer is unfit to discharge or incapable of discharging the duties of his office, the .Governor-General may, on the recommendation of the Commissioner, deal with such office*. . . . That is the only case, as regards officers, of a recommendation by the Commissioner to the Governor-General. However, in matters of this kind, it has been the practice for the Commissioner to send on his recommendation to the Governor-General through the head of the Department in which the officer concerned ia employed.. Thus, these particular recommendations came before me - as they would before any other member of the Ministry. I have always acted on the principle that, when the matter under review has to do with promotion or transfer, or is of another type of routine character, the Commissioner's report should be accepted without comment. But when the case has concerned, for example, the annulment of the appointment of a probationer, or the imposition of a severe penalty upon an officer; or - still more seriously - the dismissal of an officer, I have refused to act until I have seen the evidence upon which the recommendation has been made. I have felt my responsibility to bo so great that I could not do otherwise. May I be permitted to mention, further, the case of the annulment of the appointment of a probationer. These probationers are either boys or girls who have been appointed as messengers or telephonists. Their parents sometimes, no doubt, have been put to considerable expense, which they can ill afford to bear, with respect to the training and coaching of their sons or daughters for the prescribed examination. If successful, the candidates are appointed for a period of six months, on probation; and, if the official report upon that term of service and the medical report are satisfactory, they are appointed permanently. If the report is unsatisfactory, or if the medical certificate is unsatisfactory, the annulment of the appointment may then be recommended. If the doctor, or head of the Department, recommends a six months' further trial, the officer may be given a further trial. The first of these cases which came before me came with a simple recommendation to the Governor-General that the appointmentof soandso as a probationer be annulled. I asked the head of the Department why this was being done, and he said, '" No reason is reported." I told the head of the Department to ask the Acting Public Service Commissioner to let me know the reason. I was told in this instance that the medical report was unsatisfactory. I said, " Would you mind asking the Acting Public Service Commissioner to let me see the medical report?" and on receiving it I acted. I remember that in one case when a medical report was received it oc curred to me thatit wasnot a conclusive report, and I said, " Ask the medical officer if he is prepared to certify, that this officer cannotbe cured of the illness from which she is suffering within a reasonable time." I did this because I have a recollection of a youth forty-five years ago applying for an appointment in a country town. The official doctor had deliberately turned him down as being in bad health. I remember that the youth's mother said at the time, referring to the report of the doctor, that he had got square with the lad's father for the difference the latter had had with him some years before. It was, perhaps, a good thing for the lad that he was rejected. He is living to this day, and is in perfect health. {: .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- That only goes to show that the doctors will say what the Department wants them to say, as in the Perry case. {: .speaker-L1P} ##### Mr WISE: -- I am not suggesting that. I can refer to another instance in which I wanted to know what the medical report was, and whether the illness of the officer, who was a girl, was incurable, or could not be cured within a reasonable time. In that case I said that the girl was to be given a further few months' trial. I heard, and of this I can speak only from hearsay, that the action I took was rather displeasing to the Acting Public Service Commissioner. I always had a feeling of extra responsibility in connexion with such matters. It was always present to my mind whilst in charge of both of the Departmentsin which I acted, that I was not merely a layman Minister. I happen to be a. lawyer, and what might be pardoned in a layman Minister could not be excused in a lawyer, because he was in a better position to weigh evidence in these matters than a layman. That being so, I felt it my duty to go into all these cases. The Acting Public Service Commissioner in his report refers to two cases, and I shall deal with the last case. There was, however, a third case to which he does not refer. This and the second casehe mentions were of a similar kind. The first of these two cases was one in which a young man went away from the office without leave, and though he wished to resign he was dismissed. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -I understand that the most serious charge against the honorable gentleman is that he was a soft-hearted Minister. {: .speaker-L1P} ##### Mr WISE: -- That is a charge made againstme. The first case occurred three months before the case which may be referred to as the case of the . bookmaker's clerk. He was a returned soldier who was discharged from the Australian Imperial Forces in October, 1918. He did not resume duty in the Department, and on 19th May the Deputy PostmasterGeneral communicated with his mother, asking the reason why he was not on duty. He received a reply that the man was' unable to take up duty, as he was still under the doctor,, and medical certificates were supplied. On the 11th December, 1920; twenty months later, he advised the Department again to the following effect : - *Re* . my reporting to Departmental Medical Officer before this. I beg to statethat it has been impossible for me to do so. In the first place, on the 1st June, 1920, it was useless owing to my incapacitated condition at that time.. Since. that time, however, I have: considerably improved. My father is in business here, and at present as away recuperating after- a two months' illness. It is impossible for me -to, leave until he. returns, as I have to watch the. interests, of the business in his absence. However, I will come before the Departmental Medical Officer to see if I am yet fit to resume duty, and I sincerely trust that it will be in the affirmative as soon as Ipossibly can. I also wish to state that I am extremely sorry that I have been unable to report before, this,, but it has been no fault, of mine. He was then instructed to submit himself to the Departmental Medical Officer for examination as to his fitness to resume duty, and, on the 1st February, 1921, he was advised of the medical officer's report, and was called upon to resume duty. As no communication had been received f rom him up to the 3rd March, 1921, nor had he resumed duty, action was taken to charge him, under section 46 of the Public Service Act, with having absented himself from duty without authorized leave, and without having shown reasonable cause for his absence. The charge was dated 5th March, 1921, but was not delivered to the man until the 17th March. In the meantime he advised the Department, on the 5th March, twelve days before he received the charge, in the following terms: - I expected *to* be back to work long before this, but, as my father is still under the doctor, it is impossible for me to leave at present. I have previously explained in my last communication the position that; unfortunately, I was placed in. I therefore beg to be granted more leave. If it cannot be granted, I am forced to put in my resignation, but this is greatly against my inclinations, but is my only alternative. This communication was not dealt with, but was marked to be brought forward with his reply to the charge. On the 7th April,1921,. the man replied to the charge in the following terms: - Before I received this- charge I wrote- explaining the reason of my not returning to. duty, and asked 'if more leave could be granted.; if not, that I would only have one. alternative, viz., resign. I have had no answer to that communication, and that communication positively answered, this charge. . . I think it severe of the Department to charge me under section 46 for absence, without leave. I have explained everything, and can only say that, if this explanation, is received, I would like to make application for leave until after operation - He was in hospital then - otherwise I will be forced to resign. Notwithstanding, the distinct intimation that he would resign, the authorities went to the expense of appointing a Board, and the Board found the man guilty of being absent, without, leave,, and sent in its- recommendation; In connexion with the finding; the Board commended to the consideration of the Chief. Officer that the accused had served in the recent war for two and a. half years, and, in addition to being wounded in action and gassed, sustained other injuries, all calculated to affect him temperamentally. Notwithstanding that, the Chief Officer recommended his dismissal. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- Who was the Chief Officer? {: .speaker-L1P} ##### Mr WISE: -- I do not intend to. say. This case occurred in one of the other States, and I propose to deal with the cases on their merits, without reference to. individuals. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- In which State did this occur ? {: .speaker-L1P} ##### Mr WISE: -- I shall not name the State, because that might serve to indicate the individuals. Honorable members will bear in mind that the Acting Public Service Commissioner had all this information before him. On the 24th May, 1921, the Acting Public Service, Commissioner made the following recommendation for the approval of the GovernorGeneral : - >That- , junior mechanic (in training), be dismissed from the Public Service, a charge preferred against him having been found to be proved by a Board of Inquiry appointed in accordance with the provisions of section 46 of the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1902-1918. > >B. Edwards, {:#subdebate-19-13} #### Acting Public Service Commissioner When I saw this I said to the Permanent Head, " What, in the name of creation, is the reason for the dismissal of this man? sending him out branded so that it may be difficult for him to secure a position elsewhere because he has been dismissed from the Public Service. The man is an invalid, and he asked leave to resign. Why was he not given leave to resign ?" I told the Permanent Head to see the Acting Public Service Commissioner and find out whether he would be willing to withdraw or cancel his recommendation. He did see the Acting Public Service Commissioner and made the following report.: - As desired by the Minister, I have discussed this master with the Acting Public Service Commissioner, who stated he went carefully into the reports and was of opinion that - had been given every consideration by the Department. He agreed with the Deputy Postmaster-General,- , that an officer who evinces so little regard for his position as this manhas shown should not be retained 'in the Service - Theman, as I have said, was willing to resign - and therefore confirmed the recommendation for his dismissal. I consider that if the man did not suit and wanted to go away, he should have been allowed to do so. I cannot see why an effort should have been made to do him an injury. The report continues - >If, however, the Minister thinks his resignation should be accepted, the Acting Commissioner has no objection to withdrawing his recommendation to the Governor-General for dismissal. I said that I did think that the man's resignation should be accepted and the recommendation was cancelled. Those are the particulars of a case which the Acting Public Service Commissioner has not mentioned inhis report. {: #subdebate-19-13-s0 .speaker-L1P} ##### Mr WISE: -- The answer to that is that when a man is allowed to resign in circumstances not wholly free from trouble, a note is made against his name so that if he applies for employment in the Service again the departmental officers can consider the circumstances under which he left. In the case to which I have referred, I could not understand why the departmental officers should have' taken the action they did. The case was one which made a clear demand for sympathy,- because there was. the report of the Board that this man had two and a half years' war service, was badly wounded and gassed, and was temperamentally affected. The next case to which I wish to refer, and which is the second one mentioned by the Acting Commissioner, occurred a couple of months later. This was the case of 'a postal assistant, and he wrote into the office to say that he wished to be given six months' leave of absence without pay, for the purpose of assisting his father at home.' He said that he would not be engaged in outside employment, and that unless the leave were granted he would have to resign. Inquiries elicited the fact that he desired theleave in order to act as clerk to his father, who is a licensed bookmaker . Before a decision was arrived at - I, do not know how long a time elapsed - the man ceased duty without permission, and lef t his district. Here, again, was a case in which a man said that if the Department would not give him leave he was prepared to send in his resignation. I admit that he left his district wrongfully; but why did not the Department accept his resignation? Why was it necessary again to appoint a Board and go to the expense of proving that the man was away from duty without leave? When I got the recommendation for dismissal, I made a minute to the effect that, in view of the statements in. the man's letter,. I thought he should be told to resign, as he originally intended. I said thought the brand of dismissal was too severe, but, at the same time, for the reason set out in one of the paragraphs reporting the case, I thought he would be better out of the Service. That is the second case to which the Public Service Commissioner takes strong exception. In that case, the district inspector was of opinion that the man should be re-instated with a fine of £2. I now come to the last case, which is a very serious one indeed. This is 'the case, of which it is said in the newspaper - "The officer referred to," says tho report, had been found guilty by a Board of Inquiry of certain charges preferred against him', and the Chief Officer recommended- his dismissal." **Mr. Edwards** was in accord with the proposal, and made a recommendation, through the Minister, to the Governor-General, that the offending officer be dismissed. ''The Minister, however, submitted a recommendation to the Governor-General that my recommendation be disapproved," continues the report, "and that the case be referred for reconsideration. The Governor-General, acting on the Minister's advice, and the Permanent Head, acting as Chief Officer, fined the guilty officer £10. The officer was then re-instated, and paid salary for the period (some five months) during which he was under suspension. This is a rather extraordinary case, and one of the most painful with which I have had to deal. It is that of a postal assistant, a returned soldier, who was brought before a departmental Board of Inquiry on a charge of having used intoxicating beverages to excess and of having been guilty of a breach of the regulations under the Public Service Act in that he was absent from, duty without authority. The second charge was the outcome of the first. The facts of the case are that about half-past 4 o'clock one afternoon a woman on returning- to her home after an absence of only five or ten minutes, found that it had been ransacked. Running into the street she saw this man standing only a few yards away holding various articles of apparel, wrapped in a military overcoat. Recognising one of the articles protruding from the bundle as her property, she at once accused the man, who was helplessly drunk, of having entered her . house and stolen the goods. The man was so drunk that he was unable to say where he had obtained them. He was handed over to a policeman, and on the way to the lock-up he was so intoxicated that he fell to the ground. Ho passed through two watchhouses before reaching that in which he was finally incarcerated. All the policemen who saw him said that he was hopelessly drunk. He remained in the lock-up all night. When brought before a magistrate next day, he told his story 'and was allowed out on bail in order that inquiries might be made as to its correctness or otherwise. When he again appeared before the Court, a few days later, the facts were explained, and the charge laid against him, that he had been found iu unlawful possession of certain articles, was dismissed. The departmental officials, had they chosen, could have charged ' him before the Board of Inquiry with having been guilty of disgraceful and improper conduct. If they had done so his conduct immediately prior to arrest could have been brought under review; but they did not. The Board found him guilty- of using intoxicating beverages to excess and of having been absent without leave, and his chief officer recommended that he should be dismissed. - The Chief Officer, in his memorandum on the subject,' after setting out the facts in the man's favour, stated - >As against this there is, in my mind, no room for doubt that while on duty he stole the articles in question, when in an' advanced stage of intoxication. > >The public must be protected against employees of dishonest tendencies, whose duties give them the opportunity of visiting housed to attend to telephones and complaints in connexion therewith. > >Under the mechanics award he cannot *bt* reduced in status - That was the opinion of the Chief Officer, but I think he was wrong - >If fined for hia lapse the standard of similaremployees would be lowered by his example. > >Had he been, honest and straightforward he would have admitted the charg3 in the first" instance and saved the loss of time and expense of a_ Board .to the Department, in justice to him I am advised he was about to do this when he was advised to secure a solicitor and fight the ease. Having considered the' case carefully in all its bearings I am satisfied' that in the interests of the Service it is my duty to recommend his dismissal from tha Service, and 1 must, therefore, do so. That recommendation was forwarded to the Acting Public Service Commissioner, who signed the following recommendation to the Governor-General : - >That- , mechanic, unattached, be dismissed from the Public Service, charges preferred against him having been found to be> proved by a Board of Inquiry appointed in accordance with the provisions of section 46 of the Commonwealth Public Service Aci 1902-1918. This man was a returned soldier. He had served' four years at the Front, had not a mark against him on his military record, had no police record, and hia thirteen years' service with the Department was not unsatisfactory. He brought with him from the Old Country a young wife, and a child had been born to him only a day or two before he was found intoxicated. In the circumstances I minuted the file as follows: - >The penalty of dismissal is far too severe in this case.- has served four years abroad with no blot on his military record. Hehas no police record, and his departmental record is not unsatisfactory. There is, in my opinion, no evidence of intent to steal. The evidence is overwhelming that he was very drunk. Everything was done in broad daylight. While drunkenness 'is no absolute excuse it is *a* reason for mitigation of punishment. He brought a young wife from England. Their first child was born and he was induced to do what very many others had foolishly done under similar circumstances- celebrate the occasion with liquor, with the result shown in the evidence. He is not likely to offend again. A fine and reprimand would, in my opinion, meet the case. Iaddressed the following memorandum to the Acting Public Service Commissioner: >Referring to the memorandum of the 24th ultimo from the Acting Secretary to the Acting Commonwealth Public Service Commissioner to the Secretary of the PostmasterGeneral's Department I desire to point out, as regards the statement therein that the recommendation for the dismissal of- was based upon the finding of the Board of Inquiry into the. charges preferred against him (which were only (a) using intoxicating beverages to excess, and (b) breach of the regulations in being absent from duty without authority) - the officer in question having admitted the charge of using intoxicating beverages to excess - that, whilst that may be technically correct, it is not really so. > >In the first place, the Acting Commissioner's recommendation was an indorsement of that of the Deputy Postmaster-General, which was undoubtedly based on the alleged theft.- , in his communication of 5th July, No. S.1395/21, says:- " Defending my action, I reply : - > >There is in my mind no room for doubt that while on duty- stole the articles in question when in an advanced stage of intoxication. > >The public must be protected against employees of dishonest tendencies," &c. > >This line 'of thought is clearly taken up by the Acting Commissioner, as will be seen on reference to the memorandum to the Secretary of the Postmaster-General's Department from the Acting Secretary to the Acting Commissioner, dated 4th August, wherein it is stated - '' I am directed to state that, although the Court dismissed the case (for stealing) against **Mr.- ,** the charge-sheet shows that he was in possession of seventeen articles- which it may be reasonably assumed he would have taken away had he not been arrested."' That was the first matter mentioned, and was palpably uppermost in the Acting Commissioner's mind. The Acting Secretary then goes on to say : - " In addition to being intoxicated . (which is thus casually mentioned), he was absent without leave," and his arrest by the police (which was for theft) and the hearing of the case (for theft) in the Court brought before the public his unsatisfactory conduct as an officer of the Commonwealth Public Service." Later on, again, he states : - " The duties of a mechanic necessitate visits to the residences of the telephone subscribers, and for such work, the Department must have officers who can be thoroughly relied upon." This, too, clearly refers to the alleged theft. No charge of theft, nor, as I have stated, of disgraceful conduct, was preferred against this man before the departmental Board of Inquiry. {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- And as a lawyer the honorable member ' would say that the Chief Officer and the Acting Public Service Commissioner had therefore no right to take cognisance of the proceedings before the Court. {: .speaker-L1P} ##### Mr WISE: -- Undoubtedly. ' My memorandum continued - >If the alleged theft is omitted from the case, I am perfectly satisfied that the single case of intoxication and consequent absence without leave, under the exceptional circumstances in which- used the intoxicating beverages on this occasion, would never have been visited with a recommendation for such a draconian punishment. > >I cannot, therefore, delete the words from my proposed submission to the Governor-General, as suggested in the Acting Secretary's letter of the 24th August. I paid the Acting Public Service Commissioner the courtesy of sending a memorandum to him advising him of the recommendation I intended to put before the Governor-General in Council. I thought it only fair that he, with the Chief Officer, should have an opportunity of reconsidering the matter. The only reply I received from him was " Send on my recommendation." He then took exception to my proposal to refer the matter from the Governor-General in Council to the Permanent Head, instead of returning it to the Chief Officer through him, and I wrote to the Acting Public Service Commissioner as follows: - >With reference to the procedure and the comments in the final paragraph of the communication of the 24th August just referred to, the words "' Permanent Head " were advisedly included, because he can exercise the powers of the Chief Officer - *vide* section 13, subsection (4) of the Public Service Act - and as it was my intention - as I have done - to re-submit the matter to the Acting Public Service Commissioner, and through him to the Chief Officer, for reconsideration, before referring it to the Governor-General, it would have been useless, had the Chief Officer adhered to his former recommendation to refer it back from the Executive Council to him'. My recommendation was accepted by the Governor-General in Council, and was then dealt with by the Permanent .Head, who fined the man £10. That, I thought, was a severe enough penalty. The Permanent Head then inquired what was to be done in regard, to this man's salary, explaining that, it was for me to say whether the whole or any portion of his pay in respect of the period during which he ' had been under suspension should, be forfeited. My reply was that no part of the> man's salary was to be forfeited. I took- the view that he had been1 under suspension* for1 so long- a time as four and' a half months, not because1 of any fault of his' own, but because- the- Acting -Public Service ' Commissioner and I had: been engaged in a controversy in regard to his case; The- salary owing- to him in respect of his period of ' suspension was: £90. The regulations provide that - >Where an officer is suspended for an offence, and the charge Has been found to he not proven, full pay for the period of suspension shall be- allowed. > >Where the offence is admitted or proved the officer may be deprived of pay for the whole or any portion of the period of suspension, but in any such case: the recommendation of the Chief. Officer shall set forth, in addition to any other punishment proposed, the amount of pay of which it is intended to deprive the offender, and any such deprivation shall be regarded and recorded as part of the penalty. Since we had been responsible for the long delay, I said, in the circumstances, the penalty of £10 was severe enough, and that the man should- not be deprived of any portion of the pay due to him. I do not think that those who have heard my recital of the facts of these cases will say that I did not do what was right. I felt it to be my duty as the responsible Minister to see that no officer in the Department was dismissed without justification, and I am confident that honorable members will say that the action taken by me in each of these cases was justifiable. In the report .of the Acting Public Service Commissioner there is a nasty insinuation that this action on my part was the result of outside pressure, or, as the *Herald* put it, of "outside pull." He said - >It is to be remembered that the political head of a Department is- liable to embarrassment in' dealing with matters of this kind by representations made on behalf of officers by members of Parliament, associations of offi cers, or. even .by the officer himself, and consequently may not be in. a-, position to give the same, unfettered consideration to the facts as is. the Commissioner, who refuses to entertain any communication bearing on a matter of the kind while it is *sub judice.* It is a remarkable fact that, in not one of these . three, cases was I approached personally or by letter on behalf of the men concerned. I: did not see them', no*, did they write to me, nor did any one interview me' in their- interests. I have gathered from the official papers that when the deputation from the- Postal Union interviewed the Chief Officer in reference to the last case to which I have referred, they said that the man had had. a hard struggle to carry on, and was just getting on his feet when the matter arose. How he existed during that long; period of suspension I do not know. At the time of his arrest his young wife was in the hospital. She had. just given birth to a child,, and,, fortunately,, knew, nothing of what had" happened to her husband, until the Police Court proceedings were over. There was a pitiful scene when his union*, officials called- on them, in their home. The man did not- even approach the Department with a view of urging that there should be no delay in dealing with his case, nor did any one do so on his behalf. I do not know any of these men, and the action taken by me in each case was absolutely free from pressure or influence of any kind. All that I did was, so to speak, off my own bat."' I dealt with the papers, as I found them on the file, in a way that I thought was fit and proper on the part of a Minister dealing with members of' his staff, and I am satisfied that honorablemembers will say that I did not,, as alleged by one . of the newspapers, shield a -guilty officer.. *Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m. (Friday).* {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- - In personal explanation, I should like to make reference to an interjection made by the Minister for Defence **(Mr. Greene),** this morning, from which it appeared that he had an impression that, at some time or other, I had reflected upon his personal honour. I desire now to say that never, at any time, have I been guilty of any reflection in any way upon 'his personal honour, or upon the manner in which he has carried out bis public duties, or upon his integrity, and I want to show that there is no foundation for any such suggestion. By inquiry from the Minister, who directs me to. a perusal of *Hansard* of 16th August of this year, I find that, apparently, the Minister gained that impression from a speech which I made in this House when dealing with sugar matters, and in which I said - >I am not making a charge of fraud against anybody, but I do say that these matters require explanation. I want to make it quite clear that I was then making no reference in any shape or form to the Minister for Defence. The context of my speech bears me out in this. I was referring to four cases which I thought were worthy of attention. Those cases had been dealt with, not by the Minister for Trade and Customs, but so far as I could gather from the papers available to me, by the Prime Minister's Department, and he was not connected with them in any way. But I distinctly made it clear that.. I made no reflection on the personal honour of any member of the Cabinet. I can well understand that, with the increased duties which the Minister has had to perform as Leader of this House, he is suffering somewhat from nervous tension, and, perhaps, in some degree is unduly sensitive to criticism ; but I wish to state publicly that at no time did I intend to make any personal reflection upon his honour or his public : integrity. I take this opportunity of bearing my testimony to the manner in which he has dischargedhis duties as a Minister of the Crown and tohis uniform courtesy to honorable members as Minister for Trade and Customs. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- May I also make a personal explanation. At the outset I wish to say that I fully and frankly accept the assurance which the honorable gentleman has given. Perhaps I may bepermitted to refer briefly to the circumstances under which the honorable member spoke on the occasion to which he has referred, and quote the passage of his speech immediately preceding that which he read. The honorable gentleman said - : >What I and the public desire explained is why the Government went outside the ordinary well-recognised channels of business to conduct sugar operations during 1920, when the condition of the sugar market was such that there were almost daily fluctuations, making it possible for fraud and corruption to take place in a way that could not possibly happen when the sugar market was stable for weeks and months at a time Then he went on to say - >I am not making a charge of fraud against anybody, butI do say that these matters require Explanation. At the time I took serious exception to his remarks, in the belief that they were directed particularly and personally against myself, and the honorable gentleman did not deny it at the time. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- I do not think that I could have been in the chamber when the Minister made that statement. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Yes, the honorable gentleman was here. As I have said, I took serious objection to his remarks for two reasons. First of all, it had been whispered about the House for some days before the honorable member spoke that charges of corruption were going to be made by him, and, secondly, the special purchases to which his speech referred particularly were purchases for which I was peculiarly responsible. There were no other purchases of a similar nature. I knew all the circumstances, and I knew all the care that had been taken in connexion with these purchases, because they departed from the ordinary practice, and therefore I felt the imputation very keenly at the time. I have felt it keenly since, too, because my friends in this city have been retailing to me the stories that are being told down in the city to-day. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- Not by members of this party, surely! {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I do not suggest that for a moment, but a gentleman who , is very well known to honorable members, and whom I know personally, came to me only the other day with ' a story which one of his friends had recounted to him, and in which- he was able to tell to a penny just how much I was paid to put those particular purchases through. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr Fleming: -- That never came from members of this party. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I am not suggesting that it did, but it arose out of the statement made by the honorable member for Cowper, whose explanation we have had this afternoon. That is why I felt the imputationso keenly. However, as I say, I feel quite satisfied with the statement which the honorable gentleman has made this afternoon, and I freely and frankly accept it. {: #subdebate-19-13-s1 .speaker-KNH} ##### Mr MATHEWS:
Melbourne Ports -- I desire to direct the attention of the Minister for Works and Railways **(Mr. Richard Foster)** to the differentiation in the treatment of two men under the control of the Director of Naval Works. The Director is in charge of two bases, namely, Westernport and Cockburn Sound, and when retrenchment was decided upon these men had to retire. One of the men with seven years' service was held to be entitled to a gratuity, whereas the other with the service of ten years at Westernport was not ' allowed' any gratuity. I feel that I need only bring this matter under the notice of the Minister to have it rectified. {: .speaker-KFP} ##### Mr Richard Foster: -- If the honorable member will be good enough to supply me with the particulars of the cases referred to I shall be glad to make full inquiries into the matter. {: .speaker-KNH} ##### Mr MATHEWS: -- Very well, I will . leave it at that, and I shall now direct the attention of the Minister for Defence **(Mr. Greene)** to similar cases that have occurred in his Department. A constituent, of mine, **Mr. W.** O. Westlake, '& sergeant, who was retired in 1919, after serving twenty-nine years and seven months, .writes as follows: - > **Sir, -** I respectfully request that you take up my case against the .Defence Department for the settlement of a claim by me, or tell me if I have no claim for further payment. When I reached the retiring age I was given two years' extra employment. When that period had expired, I was entitled, to six mouths' leave of absence on full pay. They paid me six months' gratuity, and told me that was all I was entitled to. I now find that they have paid others - Warrant Officer Sherlow got twelve months' gratuity, and all officers twelve months' gratuity and pay lin lieu of leave; Sergeant Brown and several others got twelve months' gratuity. I know of no reason why I was punished by being paid off with six months' gratuity when I was entitled to twelve months' gratuity and pay in lieu of leave. As you know, sir, I am in possession of the following medals - Long and Efficient Service, Long Service and Good Conduct, and Meritorious Service. I . am hot asking for charity, I am asking for my rights, and I know that I shall not ask in vain. This man's record shows that his is a deserving case. When he saw me first I told him that I would see the officers' of the Department, because I find that better results are achieved by dealing privately and without the getting of a public advertisement; but the mau seemed to think that Parliament was the only place where this matter could be decided. Therefore, I 'am reluctantly bringing the matter under the notice of the Minister. The man feels that he has been dealt with unjustly, and I ' hope, therefore, that the Minister will look into the matter. The trouble with these men is that they think they are not allowed to reach the Head of the Department. As a matter of fact, when **Senator Pearce** was Minister for Defence and a member of the party to which I still belong, I fell foul of him because I proved a case in which a man was blocked by his superior officers from gaining access to the Minister. When the man did see the Minister he got justice, but those who had blocked him were not punished. I mention the matter in the hope that the Minister will give it his attention. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I shall be glad to look into the matter for the honorable mem-, ber. {: #subdebate-19-13-s2 .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr BRUCE:
Treasurer · Flinders · NAT .- I do not think that I shall need to delay the Committee for a long time in dealing with the criticisms of the Budget. I have listened very carefully to the whole of the debate, 'and I have come to Che conclusion that in . framing the Budget we worked better than we knew. I feared at first that, despite the care' taken in preparing and presenting- the financial proposals -of the Government, there would be criticism to show that we had blundered in some direction. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr Prowse: -- We have not had an opportunity to deal fully with the Budget. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr BRUCE: -- After listening to those honorable members who have contributed to the debate, I am satisfied that our financial proposals are framed on sound and sane lines. The honorable member foi:' Swan **(Mr. Prowse)** has just indicated that there has been no time to consider the Budget. I do not want to dwell on his own case, but I remind him that during the hours which have just gone by there was a long period in which he and other honorable members addressed themselves to the Committee at length, in some cases for over an hour at a time. . If that was not sufficient opportunity for offering the necessary criticisms of the financial statement, I am afraid it is impossible to satisfy *the* honorable member. It has been said that no opportunity Has been afforded for the discussion of the Budget, and that the Budget and the Estimates have been rushed on at the last, minute -with a desire to a.void and burke discussion. That, statement is a little., amazing when one thinks back over the. last fewweeks and months, during which, we have been sitting and remembers, how the time of this Parliament has been occupied with censure motion after censure, motion, and how proceedings, have, been delayed' and how . opportunities, which might have been taken to consider seriously the financial position of the country and the proposals of the Government have been neglected by the deliberate actions of honorable members, lt is useless for them now ' to. turn round and try to say that the fault lies with the Government. Ample time has been afforded, so far as we are concerned. The Government have been only too anxious, and willing to have . proposals thoroughly threshed oust and considered. When the Leader of the Country party **(Dr. Earle Page),** was speaking last night, he suggested that the. Budget had been brought down this year at such an early date owing to the action of his party, but I can assure him that he is flattering himself and his party. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- I said that it had been brought down early in pursuance of the promise made to us by the Government. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr BRUCE: -- The honorable member put the matter very much stronger than that. He said that the pressure and influence of the Country party had caused the Budget to be brought down at such an early date, and I repeat that in saying this he flattered himself and his party. Neither he nor his party had anything to do with the early delivery of the financial statement. The Budget was brought down so early because the Government believed that during this very critical period of Australia's finances it was' desirable the whole community should have an early opportunity of learning what the Government's proposals were, and because we were convinced that, toy affording that, early opportunity, a great deal would be done to stabilize the whole of the commercial affairs of Australia. That was the only reason for the early introduction of the Budget. 1 The criticisms that have been delivered against the Financial Statement are all very much upon the same lines, and in every case have been strained, indicating that there has been a hunting for something to say. I propose *to* analyze some of the criticisms which have been advanced, and 1 think I can show that in every case the facts have had to be handled' in an extraordinary and amazing manner in order to- make out a case. I shall not deal *in extenso* with all: the points that have been raised by different honorable members. Time will be. saved if I take as a sample the speech delivered1 by the right honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. Watt),** an ex-Treasurer, and! deal with it. Most honorable members^ I am. sure, will be content if: I follow that course, and in doing, so,, show exactly why my Budget and the proposals put forward by the Government are sound in every respect. The right honorable gentleman disagrees with my Budget, and the suggestion that I think was underlying his speech was- that if he had been responsible -fox its preparation it certainly would not have been of the character of mine. I have the greatest respect, for the ability of the right honorable gentleman, and at times when I have been burdened with the responsibility of the office I hold, the thought has crossed my mind that . perhaps it, was- a great disaster to. this country he, was not in my position. Since I' have heard and considered his criticisms upon the Budget, very much at the expense of my modesty I am forced reluctantly to the. conclusion that it is fortunate for Australia that he was not the Treasurer intrusted with the preparation of this Budget. Honorable members will agree with me that the case which he placed before the Committee was presented with that admirable clarity and precision of speech which always distinguishes his utterances ; but the subjectmatter of his speech was in no way comparable with the manner in, which he delivered it. The right honorable gentleman took eight points in all, but, he prefaced his remarks by saying that the Committee had asked for a decrease in revenue expenditure -last financial year, and had got an increase last year for which no " apology or- explanation had ' been offered to the Committee.. As a matter of fact, the very fullest explanation was offered. I "made a statement in this chamber five days after the conclusion of the financial year. I dealt with each- Department separately, giving the: amount of the increased expenditure, and indicating the items which had brought it about. The Leader of the Country party **(Dr. Earle Bage),** in dealing with last, year's expenditure, went into exhaustive detail as to the estimated expenditure of each Department, showed where actual increases had occurred, and left 'his case at that. ' He totally ignored the statement I had submitted to the House, and he made no reference whatever to the explanations I had given in regard to each of these increases. If the honorable member's criticism was intended to be regarded as serious, of what use was it for the honorable member simply to repeat the figures I had already given in reference to the increases in each Department. Surely if the honorable member were serious, he should have taken the items in which I indicated that we had spent more than was provided for in the Estimates, and shown where. Ave were wrong in so doing. Merely .to indulge in a repetition on the 13th October of all that I had said with equal fullness on the 5th July, does not seem to be material or useful .criticism of last year's transactions. Yet. that is all the honorable member said in reference to last year's transactions. He was quite right in saying that we spent £1,000,000 more than was provided on the Estimates upon expenditure from revenue, but he entirely failed to remind the Committee of the amount of £378,000 which was included in that increased expenditure in respect to soldiers' pensions, which had been liberalized by Act of this Parliament in. September of last vear ; nor did he mention an item of £300,000 which did. not appear in last year's Estimates, but is debited against the year's expenditure, as representing the compensation payable in connexion with the Defence reductions which the Government carried into effect, bringing about a saving of "1,700,000 per annum. A third item which the honorable member forgot to mention was the £300,000 which was made available for the Department of the Postmaster-General as a deliberate act of policy on the part of the Government, which was unanimously indorsed by Parliament, and- in regard to which no one could offer the slightest criticism. No further criticism was offered by the honorable member with regard to .last years' expenditure, and when the right honorable member for Balaclava says that no explanation has yet been offered to the Committee, I suggest that he must have over-looked my statement of the 5th July. The Leader of the Country party **(Dr. Earle Page)** submitted to honorable members figures showing increases which I had already given three months previously, but he completely failed to indicate where the Government had. spent money in addition to the sums" voted by this Parliament which was not justified. {: .speaker-KNH} ##### Mr Mathews: -- That is not the duty of an Opposition. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr BRUCE: -- It *k* the duty of the Opposition to point out where the Government are wrong. But I gave all the information to the Committee. I showed exactly where and for what purpose the additional amount had been spent, and the honorable member did not assail one single item of that, expenditure. I do hot propose to. delay the Committee with regard to last year's expenditure. I. come now to the points of criticism suggested by the right honorable member for Balaclava, which I am taking as a basis for the remarks I propose to make. The honorable member said that the Postal Department is still to be used as a taxing machine, and his remarks in this regard were indorsed by most other honorable members who spoke. The Leader of the Opposition commented on the fact that there was a surplus of revenue over expenditure in the Postal Department. The Leader of the Country party also dealt with that phase of the matter, and the honorable member for Swan **(Mr. Prowse)** offered very strong criticism of the action of the Government in taking into revenue money derived from the Post Office. Underlying these criticisms is the suggestion that the ordinary revenue of' the Commonwealth has benefited at the expense of the Postal' Departmental revenue. Each speaker has made it perfectly clear that that is the burden of his complaint, and the suggestion is that ordinary taxation has been relieved by paying in vast sums from the revenue derived from the Post Office. It has also been suggested that if the Post Office revenue had been kept apart from the ordinary revenue, and the Department had been allowed to' have the whole of its surplus for capital expenditure, we could show a very different position in 'the Post and Telegraph Department to-day. One honorable member said that we would not, in those circumstances, have to' borrow anything to help the Department. I do not know where honorable members get their information, which at least amazed me. The real position is as different from the one they suggest as it is possible to be. Although surplus revenue of the Post and Telegraph Department has been taken to assist the Consolidated Revenue, the Department owes the Consolidated Revenue £7,259,118. In other words, the Consolidated Revenue has paid that amount to the Department in order to meet the shortage on that Department's own revenue. {: .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr Gregory: -- The Treasurer is not including in that the transferred properties - the debt of . the Commonwealth to the States in that respect. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr BRUCE: -- No, I am taking the revenue and expenditure. The position is that Consolidated Revenue or the general taxpayer has provided for the Post and Telegraph Department, over and above its own earnings, more than £7,000,000, which has been employed for departmental purposes, and not one farthing has been paid into the Consolidated Revenue as interest. {: .speaker-KNH} ##### Mr Mathews: -- For what period? {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr BRUCE: -- For the whole period during which the Commonwealth has been in control. I suggest to honorable members that the criticism that the Post Office has been used as a taxing machine is contrary to the facts. The suggestion that the Government have been taking vast sums of money from the Postal Department for providing ordinary revenue is quite untrue. I would like to indicate what the Government propose doing, and that is a point in which the honorable member for Swan **(Mr. Prowse)** appeared to be interested this morning. The Government are desirous that the maximum facilities shall be provided by the Department at a minimum of cost. We hope,in conjunction with the loan programme we are now carrying through, to bring the Postal services up to a state of full efficiency, and we shall at the same time endeavour to greatly reduce the cost of postal, telegraphic, and telephonic facilities. The Government's intention is that every farthing that is received in revenue shall be employed for the purposes of the Department. I suggest that that is, at least, one commendable action of the Government. We (have grasped the nettle in our hands, have put the Department on a sound financial basis, and are re-organizing the whole system. But that matter has only been dealt with during the last few months, and much more has still to be done. While we are getting the position in hand, are we unreasonable in asking that we should at least get a little of the money back which the Department has had from th.e general taxpayers? I am not suggesting that we are going to take the surpluses nf the Department until we have recovered the whole of the amount, but when so much is being done in the Department, the ordinary revenue is entitled to receive from it some of the moneys it has had in the past. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr Prowse: -- Why, you are borrowing money for the purpose? {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr BRUCE: -- That clearly indicates that the honorable member has not grasped the positioneven now. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr Prowse: -- It is rather strange. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr BRUCE: -- We have a works programme for the Department - for providing the necessary facilities. We are borrowing money for this purpose, and the Department will be liable for the interest. The position is not in any way different if we borrow money for the Department and charge it interest than if we proceed to charge it interest in respect of money of ours it already has. The scheme the Government are working on is to allow the Postal Department to become selfcontained to have the whole of its revenue,, but be charged with interest upon the capital expenditure required for its facilities. {: .speaker-KAY} ##### Mr Gibson: -- Is interest included in the £7,000,000? {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr BRUCE: -- The £7,000,000 is the a mount the Consolidated Revenue has found for the Department, but the Consolidated Revenue. has never received one penny in interest from the Department. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr Prowse: -- Have the Government paid interest on the money it took out? {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr BRUCE: -- The position is that £7,000,000 is still owing to the Consolidated Revenue, but there has always been a large debit balance against the Post and Telegraph Department. It has never been the other way, by our having money on which we ought to pay interest. There has always been an enormous debit against the Department on which no interest was paid. The next, point the right honorable gentleman raised was that last year there was a deficit of £209,000, but I would remind him that that point is a slightly false one. Our 'position last year was that wo could after balancing have shown a surplus, but, as a. prudent measure, when we came to the end of the year we charged £300,000 for defence compensation, which we do- not have to meet until this, year, and which we could legitimately have leftover to be charged to the present year. The point is not worth dealing with at any length, but I have merely referred to it as it is one of the seven mentioned by the right honorable member. If this is one of the best points that can be found in attacking the Government's financial policy - the right honorable gentleman placed it second on the list - the case does not appear to be a very strong one. The third point was that ordinary expenditure is still rising. I have searched and I cannot find anything which justifies such a statement. I have also asked the Treasury officials to see if I have overlooked anything which could alter the figures, and the result is that no one has been able to discover on what conceivable grounds the right honorable gentleman could have based the statement.. The facts are against it. There is a decrease of £370,610 in ordinary departmental expenditure. The right honorable gentleman might have referred to departmental expenditure upon new works. But, taking these items, there has been a decrease of £2,112,374. Departmental expenditure, new works, and special appropriations - other than war - show a decrease of £1,211,533. The remark cannot refer to our total expenditure from revenue, because there is a decrease of £3,083,256. These are the facts, and it is impossible to see that the right honorable member has any justification for making such a statement. There is one possible explanation. He might have been thinking of what he deals with in the next point, which is loan and revenue expenditure added; but from the way his remarks are framed I do not think it is likely, because he uses the word " ordinary " and the words " ordinary expenditure is still rising." The only answer is that it is not so. The statement is inaccurate. The fourth point is that the total disbursements this year are to be greater than last year by £1,344,000; but that is a surprising statement when I have said that our expenditure from revenue has decreased by £3,083,256. The right honorable member has added revenue expenditure and loan expenditure together. Before I deal with that rather startling manner of making comparisons in expenditure for the year, I would like to point out one rather significant fact. The right honorable member compared, the total estimated expenditure for the coming year, both revenue and loan, with the actual expenditure from the same source last year. He compared the estimated' amount for this year with the actual of last year, and the right honorable member, who is a careful student of Commonwealth finance, must have known that the actual loan expenditure last year showed a considerable decrease on the estimated expenditure for last year, brought about by the fact that there was a heavy reduction in respect of War Service Homes and soldier settlement. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- The expenditure from revenue last year showed an increase over the Estimates, and that balances what the Treasurer is now saying. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr BRUCE: -- It does not. The right honorable member for Balaclava knew that, for certain reasons, the actual loan expenditure last year was much less than the estimate, and that there was no possibility that the items which were reduced last year would remain upon the same basis; they would inevitably go up again this year. But, knowing that, he yet compared the actual expenditure last year with the estimate for this year, and so managed to achieve the point at which he was aiming, viz., that the Government were proposing to spend from revenue and loan £1,344,000 more than was expended last year. If the right honorable gentleman had compared the estimates for the last year with the estimates for this, year, he would have found that we are estimating tospend £1,623,015 less. A rather interesting position has arisen. When I suggested that the right honorable member for Balaclava, had he not been straining in order to make his case, might have compared estimate with estimate, the honorable member for Franklin **(Mr. McWilliams),** who is a member of the Country party, indicated in the clearest way that that would be an impossible basis of comparison. His own Leader **(Dr. Earle Page)** last night took me most seriously to task for not having my comparisons in the Budget on the very basis which the honorable member for Franklin quite clearly regards as ridiculous. The Leader of the Country party said last night that I should not have compared the estimated expenditure for this year with the actual expenditure for last year, but should have compared estimate with estimate. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWilliams: -- That is the only effective comparison that can be made. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr BRUCE: -- Apparently there is a difference of opinion between the honorable member and his Leader. It seems quite clear, from the manner in which his comparison was made, that the right honorable member for Balaclava was straining to make it appear that we proposed to spend this, year more than wo spent last year. And no other comparison would have suited his book. He lumped loan and revenue expenditure together. That is a most amazing thing to do. The two are entirely different in character, and in no circumstances, either in Government finance or in private finance, are they ever brought together under the same heading and used for purposes of comparison. The right honorable gentleman, however, lumped the two together in order to arrive at the only figure that would support his argument that we proposed to spend more this year than we spent last year. I leave the Committee to judge that criticism for themselves. But I cannot avoid coming to the conclusion that the right honorable gentleman was straining his argument very hard indeed. I do not know whether he does seriously suggest that the basic of comparison he used is proper, but if he does he must be causing a good deal of consternation in commercial circles, in which, I understand, he now plays a prominent part. If, in the enterprises with which he . is connected, he is proposing to make comparisons by adding expenditure from capital and revenue together, instead of comparing separately the expenditure from each source, some of his commercial friends must be receiving the shock of their lives at the introduction of a new theory into commercial practice. But granting, for the sake of argument, thatthe right honorable gentleman was right in adding together the expenditure from loan and. revenue, I suggest that he has been a little recreant to his duty in this House. We have already passed the whole loan programme, involving an expenditure of £17,000,000, and the right honorable gentleman uttered not one word of protest, and gave no indication of where the expenditure could be reduced. Surely after he had made a very biting criticism of our proposals when he was speaking on the Budget, we were entitled to' ask for his assistance when dealing with the loan expenditure of £17,000,000, but we. received no assistance and no suggestions. The rest of the points made by him are based upon the allegation that the Government are proposing to spend this year £1,344,188 more than we spent last year. Unless his basis . of comparison is admitted to be . fair, all the criticisms to which I have referred are' wiped out.. The right honorable member has said that there is an increase of £1,344,188, notwithstanding a huge saving in defence, and . his sixth point was that we intend to spend' that larger amount, notwithstanding the natural and inevitable falling off of expenditure in connexion with war pensions, repatriation, and other war services. Such criticism shows that the right honorable gentleman has been straining extraordinarily hard to make a case. Every one of those items of reduced expenditure - defence, war pensions, repatriation, and war services - are paid for out of revenue, and if this year's estimate is compared with last year's expenditure out of revenue, a deduction of £3,000,000 is shown. Yet the honorable gentleman based his criticism on the contention that, notwithstanding all these deductions, the Government proposed to spend £1,344,188 more than was spent last year. The only way in which he could establish his case, which was supported by the honorable member for Yarra **(Mr. Scullin),** is by drawing in loan expenditure on the. Post Office, immigration, the Murray River waters scheme, &c, a procedure which is determined entirely by policy.. Those works . have nothing to do with the-' expenditure from day to day; and the economies . of which we. have heard so. much. These two criticisms, are absolutely unfair, and if the. right, honorable gentleman had wished to gives the fullest assistance to the Committee he should have, frankly shown that because of the savings in the Defence Department, and elsewhere we have' reduced our expenditure by £3,000,000. Instead of doing this, he bringsin the whole of the loan expenditure, for this year and last year in order to make it appear that we are spending £1,344,188 more than we did last year. The right . honorable gentleman next protested against the transfer to loan of items- which last year were met out of revenue. Obviously, the principal item transferred is the expenditure on the Post Office. Every time I have spoken I have made- it perfectly clear that we cannot possibly meet out of revenue the necessary expenditure required . to put the Post Office on an up-to-date basis. Unless, it be admitted that it is legitimate toborrow for postal works, we must go without those postal facilities for -which every one in the . country is crying out. The. honorable member for Yarra **(Mr. Scullin)** has contended that if we had not transferred that expenditure to loan, we would have been spending more from revenue, and our position would have been no better.But the honorable member overlooked the fact that we could not have afforded to spend those sums. We would have had to economize so as to meet with revenue the whole of our expenditure. Unless, we admitted that the expenditure upon such things as postalservices should be paid for out of loan, the expenditure would have been reduced materially, and the country would have had to go without facilities that are now being given. I come to another aspect of the criticism. The right honorable member for Balaclava was very concerned about the transfers to loan, but when the House gave its approval to the loan proposals, and made. the. necessary appropriation, he never attempted to show which of the- projected works should have been charged to loan, and which should have been reinstated as a charge upon revenue. Mr.Scullin. - That cannot be said about honorable members on this side. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr BRUCE: -- I admit, that the honorable member made a spirited protest; and did his best to have our arrangement altered. But it was very fortunate, for him and the community that we stood firm-, and refused to entertain his ideas, because had we accepted them,, we would not have been spending, £3,000,000 upon the Postal Department this year; it would have been lucky if £1,000,000. were provided for it. The eighth point made by the right honorable member for Balaclava was that if the new sinking fund' arrangements were not being brought into force the surplus shown would have been a deficit. I can understand that criticism, because the right honorable member does not approve of my proposal for a sinking fund. But we are perfectly satisfied that we 'have devised a more effective system for the redemption of the national debt; and wehave done- that at a reduced cost -1/2 percent: instead of3/4 per cent. If we havedone that it is a matter for congratulation, and not for- condemnation, but holding the views he does; it is very natural that he should say that the sinking fund' should not- have been reduced. I would like to pause here to say that I have dealt with all the substantial' points of criticism . which were enumerated with that extraordinary clarity which the right honorable gentleman possesses. He brought his argumentsunder the notice of the Committee in theremarkably forceful way in which he can present a case. Analyzed-, however, thepoints he made are those I nave stated. I suggest that none- of the points have any real substance in them. In nearly everyone of them the figures have to be strained to- make a case at all. When. I know that the case was presented by an ex-Treasurer of the Commonwealth, in a manner which leaves, no doubt as to his ability to present all- the facts that should be brought under notice, and when I remember that the speech was made in a . thoroughly critical manner, by one who was not a friend of . the Government trying to gloss over its errors, I am driven to the conclusion that if nothing more than that can be said against the Budget, it is a better Budget than I had the remotest idea of. Apart from these criticisms, which were definite, there is a general suggestion running through all the speeches of the right honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. Watt),** and the Leader of the Country party **(Dr. Earle Page)',** and also though not to the same extent, through the speeches of the Opposition **(Mr. Charlton).** The suggestion is that expenditure can be reduced, and that if the Government was a strong Government we would reduce it, and do many other heroic things. All the honorable gentlemen in their speeches, however, have been extraordinarily silent as to how we are going to do what they advocate. In this respect, I am not surprised at most of them. It is difficult for an honorable member outside the Ministry to know the details of the finances of the Commonwealth, but an ex-Treasurer of the Commonwealth could surely tell us, if it could be done at all, how it should be done. General criticisms are not very helpful from people who should be in a position "to show where we can effect economies if it is possible to make them. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- The Opposition showed the Treasurer how he could save £250,000 in respect to immigration. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr BRUCE: -- If the honorable member really wants me to take ' some notice of that interjection, I would 'say that we all heard of his proposed reduction. It drove clean across the policy of the country. He suggested that we should blot out immigration and do many things that no thinking people in the country would countenance for a .minute. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- Do not say that we did not offer any suggestion. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr BRUCE: -- I will not say that; but I will say that the suggestions which the honorable gentleman made were worse than useless. If we would effect reductions, we must find out first where to make them. These vague statements are utterly useless. I get a little tired of analyzing the position, and I should think that any one who hears me must get tired of hearing it ; but it must be repeated. If people will ignore the facts, we must keep pointing them out. Certain headings of expenditure are set out in the Budget and Estimates. The first of them is " War Services," which include interest, sinking fund, war pensions, repatriation, and other war services. " Other war services " is a very small amount, and has practically disappeared. The only suggestion that has been made with regard to those items is that we should increase them by increasing the sinking fund. There has not been a suggestion from any one that we should reduce them, and no one expects them to be reduced. We have to stand up to our obligations in every direction, whether they are contractual or are obligations that we owe to the soldiers who fought for us. That part of the expenditure of the Commonwealth we cannot avoid. It is there, and we must face it. It amounts to a considerable sum. Last year it was over £31,300,000, and this year it has been brought down to £29,465,000. No further reduction oan be made at the moment. The next item is additions to and new works. That has been brought down from £2,571,000 to £830,000, a reduction of £1,741,000. I do not think any one who has analyzed the new works proposals would suggest that we can further reduce this expenditure materially. I shall be very surprised if any honorable member can tell me where it can be reduced. The point I wish to stress is that although honorable members have' made their criticism, they have not suggested that anything could come out of that item. The next item relates to special appropriations. Those have gone up from £14,900,000 to £15,800,000- an increase of £900,000. In these special appropriations, there is interest and sinking fund other than in connexion with the war, invalid and old-age pensions, maternity allowances, and payments to the States. Is it suggested that these special appropriations oan be reduced? The right honorable member for Balaclava tried to fasten upon me a statement that we cannot touch the special appropriations. I have never said or thought such a thing. What Parliament has done, Parliament can undo. What I said was that the policy underlying every one of these payments was such that Parliament would not be prepared to reverse it, and that nobody had shown me which of the items could be withdrawn. I have dealt with one of them several times myself, and the honorable member for Cowper **(Dr. Earle Page)-** dealt with it last night. That is the maternity allowance. Policy may change in regard to that, but it will only change in the direction of getting more effective service for our money. No one in this House, or outside it, has suggested t that the expenditure should disappear. Several suggestions have been made for a better method of achieving the result that we desire. No one has suggested that any other of these special appropriations should be even altered. If honorable gentlemen' will read carefully the speech of the right honorable member for Balaclava, they will discover that he did not suggest which of the items should come out, but there is a general suggestion running through his remarks that if 4he country had a strong Treasurer and a strong Government, Parliament would be recommended to alter some of them. In regard to that point I should point out to the Committee that the right honorable member was Treasurer of the Commonwealth for two years. Every one of those special appropriations were in existence then. He was in that position for the last few months of the war and the first year of peace. His needs were greater than mine, but *hf* never suggested taking any of the special appropriations out and reversing the policy of the Government by Act of Parliament. I think that fact should be borne in mind when one read's the very definite words which he has uttered with regard to these special appropriations. The only other heading is that of departmental expenditure, and, before speaking of that, I would remind the Committee that I' have dealt with war services, which cost £29,465,000; new works and buildings, which i cost £830,000; and special appropriations, amounting to £15,869,000, which make a total of £46,164,000. As far as that total is concerned there does not seem to be very much hope of reducing our expenditure. The ordinary departmental expenditure ' last year was £16,229,000, and this year we propose to spend £15,858,000. The suggestion in all the speeches is that some economy would be effected if members of the Government were worthy of their positions, and would be effected if the gentlemen who criticise were in our places. a There remains to consider whether we can reduce the item of £15,858,000 for departmental expenditure. Included in that expenditure there is an item of £3,696,000 for defence. Members of the Opposition say that we can blot most of this out. The present Government, however, will not blot any of it out. If honorable members want that expenditure shifted, they must first shift the Government. The figure has been arrived at after most careful consideration by the Government. It never could have been reduced to its present amount but for the results of the Washington Conference. After the Government has considered the . schemes that were presented for a reduction of the expenditure, the Council of Defence was called to its aid, and the position was scrutinized from every angle. The Government will not recede at all from that expenditure, and I do not understand that it is the expenditure to which our principal economy critics direct their attacks. The next point relates to the Post Office. After deducting the Defence expenditure we are left with an amount of £12,162,000 from which to effect our economies; of that, the Post Office expenditure is £7,756,000. Do honorable members suggest that we should effect our economies there? As a matter of fact, everybody is asking that we should in- crease the' expenditure, and nobody has suggested that we should out any of it out. We are now embarking upon a big developmental scheme for providing postal and telegraphic facilities. With every efficiency that can be put into the Department we cannot hope for any big reductions. It will be an expanding business in the future, and we have to remember that we shall not receive any more revenue than is necessary to meet the expenditure. Therefore an expanding Post Office revenue will not help us to reduce the expenditure at all. Post Office expenditure comes in merely as an item which has to be met, and which, may have to be increased. The best we can do on the revenue side is to get the expenditure back again with no margin. If this £7,756,000 is taken off we are reduced to £4,406,000 with which' to effect these suggested great economies. But we have to remember that there are certain revenue-collecting Departments, the activities of which it would be as well not to completely cut off. I do not deny for one second that there are economies, and large economies, that could be effected' in our Departments by better methods and greater' efficiency; but to say that we can. do this with, an axe is to talk absolute nonsense. It cannot be so done, and endeavours in that direction! could only result in chaos.. The cost of the Commonwealth Departments will, come down with the cost of living, and will b» accomplished without any reduction in the standard of living. People, who say. that percentage reductions: to-day are possible irrespective of the merits or the justice: of the> case; are talking on. a basis that this: Government, at all events, will not accept.: Gradually and steadily greater efficiency will result from' the appointment of the Board of Commissioners in accordance with the recommendations, of the Economy Commission-, and the Departments will be put on an improved! basis. The point I am pressing is that we cannot bring about any tremendous reduction, such, as is suggested, when we have an area of only £4,406,000 to work on. This year we are drawing on the accumulated surplus, plus the surplus we brought down, for. the relief of taxation. Some- people say we should not do this; but I say deliberately that we cannot reduce taxation unless we do. Those people who would lead the public of Australia to believe that if only they, were in. power they would reduce taxation by immediate economies^ are certainly deceiving the public. I sincerely trust they are deceiving themselves, but,, as to that, I have grave doubts, for I fancy they are perfectly well aware that they could not do anything of the sort. For this we have been severely criticised, and I am rather inclined to think we are expected to apologize for what we have done. The Government, however, will do nothing of the sort, for we believe that we have acted on the lines of sound finance. To take this action needed a little courage and a little vision, two qualities, in which I am inclined: to think, from their remarks,, our critics are lacking. I desire to emphasize that what we have done is perfectly legitimate and proper. We have taken from' the people in the past £6,400^000 that was not required for the current services of the Government ; and we have no business to keep that money. We cannot, like- a trading concern, which1 must provide for- the future, create a sort of a. reserve fund to> fall' back, on in moments, of. stress. That is. not a system of national finance that could possibly be countenanced. We have to da something with the surplus, and the alternatives before us are, first, to pay our debt with it; second, to reduce taxation; and,, third, do what I have just said we cannot do - keep it as a reserve fund indefinitely. As to our debt, we are creating, "a. sinking fund. We would gain little Or nothing by using this £6,400,000 to wipe out £6,400,000 of our indebtedness. Rut if we take part of it to reduce taxation at a moment when taxation can be reduced in no other way, I venture to say -we shall do- Australia benefit the- value of which, cannot be calculated. The Government' take this course without hesitation, in spite of their critics, because we know it to be sound finance, as I claimed in my Budget speech. The right honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. Watt),** on the other hand, when addressing himself to the Budget, expressed **Ms opinion** in the words, " I say it is the road1 to bankruptcy."' He uttered them with all that conviction he can impart to his remarks. Personally; I think he has no rival in that regard - and one would almost, have- thought that something profound had been said. If £3,000,000 is taken out of the accumulated surplus to relieve taxation,, thinking people will agree that great benefit will result in the stimulation of trade and industry, the restoration of confidence,.' and the attraction, of foreign, capital. But the right honorablemember for. Balaclava, says that if we do this once, and then do- it a. second' time, we shall, have wiped . out our resources, and will have to re-impose taxation. I agree that if all these things should happen - if we took £3,000,000 this year, got in no increased revenue, . and made no reduction in our expenditure - though I am confident as to the contrary - I agree that we would, probably have to impose taxation in the third year. But is it not exaggerating slightly- to say that in taking the course we have, we are on the road to bankruptcy? I suggest that it is purely grotesque exaggeration- a telling phrase, with nothing at all Behind it. We are told, that- these- reductions in taxation- are- an electioneering dodge - that- this e is. an electioneering Budget, with, no rhyme or reason, except the desire to snatch and catch and keep votes. ' I am afraid that that is a reflection of the minds of the critics. It certainly is not the reason for the Government's action. The Government have made every reduction on sound, principles. The increase of the general exemption to £200 in the income tax is made on two principles* - one that taxation should never touch what is necessary to the existence of the contributor, and the other that every tax ought to be so contrived as to take out and keep out of- the pockets of the people as little as possible. The point was made the other night that- when people have to pay some tax it causes them to realize and appreciate their responsibility for the government of tho country. That sounds as if it must be right; but I venture to say that the paying of £1 or 30s. in taxation does not arouse in a person any appreciation of his responsibilities; I do not think it has the slightest effect of the kind. The taxation of those who will come within the exemption costa an undue amount to collect, and this means taking far more out of the people's pockets than we receive in the shape of revenue. The next remission is the general reduction of 10 per cent., and- I have already indicated why it is made. It is because excessive taxation ever cripples industry and enterprise, and any relief, even if only small, will certainly do a great deal to promote industry and stimulate development in this country. The war surcharge on the. land tax of 20 per cent. - I shall not weary the Committee by dealing with it in detail, because I explained it when the Land Tax Bill was before us - was a special revenue 'tax levied on one class *oi* property and on no other. It has no relation to the ordinary incidence of the ' land tax, and it is regarded as unfair that one class of property, and one class only, should be taxed, while other classes go free. The entertainments tax I also dealt with on a previous occasion, and I think that I then used an expression which more or less indicates the necessity there is for our people to have invigorating relaxation. If they are poor, it is difficult for them to get it, and this reduction in the entertainments tax is' to help them to obtain that very necessary relaxation. The reason for the action of the Government in regard to .galvanized iron, wire netting, and tractors is obvious. We desire to help settlement in the country, about which we hear so much from the Corner. Action was rendered necessary as a result of serious difficulties that have arisen, owing to circumstances of the time, in connexion with the anticipated manufacture of the necessary supplies of these commodities in Australia. There is . only one other point that I must trouble the Committee with - the proposed Sinking Fund. I -should not delay honorable members but for the fact that this proposal has received such biting criticism that, in self-defence, and for the information of honorable members, I must say a few words. The proposal of the Government is to substitute a *i* per cent, sinking fund for a f per cent, redemption fund; which was previously in operation, or, at all events, was in operation during the previous year, but had no fixed or determined basis. Under our' proposals the debt upon which the sinking fund is operating will be redeemed within fifty years. When the right honorable' member for Balaclava was speaking in the Budget debate he offered some rather severe criticism on the whole basis of my proposals. He started off by more or less ridiculing the whole of my remarks. He said on that occasion: - >The Commonwealth operates, at present, a Redemption Fund. The Treasurer prefers a Sinking Fund. I do not, and I want to 'tell him and the Committee why. If his remarkswere to go without comment or challenge people might properly infer that *i* per cent, per annum paid into a Sinking Fund would do better work than f per cent.- per annum- paid into a Redemption Fund. That is a legitamate deduction to be drawn from his somewhat desultory observations, but reflection, of course, will show members that this is a preposterous theory. I regret to disagree with t!he right honorable gentleman, but still I say I am right, and that it is bis suggestion that is a preposterous theory, if one may use his rather biting terms. A sinking fund of £ per cent, earning 5 per cent, interest will redeem the debt on which it operates in fifty years. A redemption fund of the type we have had in this country will never redeem the debt. W* may go on with it for ever, .and not redeem the debt, though, of course, at a certain time it will get to so low a figure that, to all intents and purposes, it will be redeemed. Even if a redemption fund is established which provides for a percentage contribution which is maintained on the original amount, the position is not greatly improved. That fund, at -J per cent., will not have completely redeemed the .debt until 133 years have expired. But a sinking fund of -J per cent., earning interest at 5 per cent., will wipe out the debt in fifty years. Therefore, the 'biting criticism of the honorable member for Balaclava is unfounded. Tho honorable member gave clear and interesting information regarding the difference between a redemption fund and a sinking fund. Schools of financial thought are evenly divided in their adherence to the two principles. However, I need not traverse the honorable member's arguments against a sinking fund, because they were based on a feature which will not be embraced in the Sinking Fund Bill which it is pro posed to introduce, but which, I regret to say, I shall, probably not have an opportunity, at this closing stage of the Parliament, to present. The feature to which the honorable member for Balaclava took special exception was the gradual * accumulation of funds in the hands of trustees as the years went by. He said that position might .constitute - a serious menace. I am inclined to agree with the right honorable gentleman. But, in the proposed Bill, while it will confer the benefit of a sinking fund, operating at compound interest, the Government do not intend that trustees shall hold securities without cancellation over an indefinite period. Provision will be made in the Bill so that the securities, upon coming into the hands of the trustees, shall be redeemed as under a redemption fund ; but the obligation to pay interest on the securities will be maintained over the full period covered by the sinking" fund in respect of the particular debt. The whole of the debate has centred around the Budget, and criticisms have been directed from all angles. I thought it only fair, therefore, that I should inform the Committee concerning the views and intentions of the Government. So far as concerns the matters raised during the debate, they have, to a great extent, strengthened my view that there is merit in the proposals of the Government. I am unshaken by tho criticisms which have been uttered. A commencement has been made in the reduction both of expenditure and taxation. Sensational reductions cannot be achieved; but, with sane financing and stable government, a steady diminution of expenditure and taxation can be brought about. I am confident that that will be demonstrated, and that we shall see great expansion in the development of the conntry generally, if only we are blessed with the kind of seasons ro provide us with the opportunity. **Dr. EARLE** PAGE (Cowper) [4.5 J.- In speaking to the amendment- {: #subdebate-19-13-s3 .speaker-JWY} ##### The CHAIRMAN (Hon J M Chanter: -- Order! Will the honorable member please resume his seat. I am called upon to make a statement from the chair on the subject-matter of which I have given- several previous rulings, and *horn* which I presume .the Committee will not wish to depart. The purpose of the provision in the Standing Orders whereby a member is allowed an hour and thirty-five- minutes in which to address himself to a financial measure or statement was to insure that speeches should bo consecutive. It was never intended that there should be two speeches of tho same length. The honorable member for Wimmera **(Mr. Stewart)** intervened in the debate by moving that the amount of the first item be reduced by £1. I have taken upon myself the responsibility of permitting honorable members to continue to speak for the full length of time allotted, as just indicated. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWilliams: -- But the speech of the Treasurer did not touch the amendment. {: #subdebate-19-13-s4 .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- I have just mentioned that I have afforded honorable members wide privileges, notwithstanding the amendment before the Chair. I have given them the benefit ' of the full limit of time, if they desired to avail themselves of it; on "the tacit understanding, however, that there should be no second speech on the part of any honorable member. When the particular items are reached, in the course of dealing with the Estimates, honorable members will be free to discuss them then, and not now; and they may then occupy as long as two half -hours each in doing so. {: #subdebate-19-13-s5 .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 .- The amendment of the honorable member for Wimmera **(Mr. Stewart)** has for its object the postponement of consideration of the Budget until after the election. The Chamber is now thoroughly disorganized, and is practically moribund. Many honorable members have already left to catch their trains for distant States. Yet, in a denuded Committee, itemized expenditure, amounting in all to £62,000,000, has come forward for debate. Such a position is not fair to this Committee, or to the taxpayers,- or to the public at large. On a similar occasion three years ago, when the Government of the day were preparing for an election, although there was a Government majority of about twenty members, the Treasurer did not "push" the Budget debate or rush the Estimates through in a couple of days. The Government secured three and a half months' Supply and went to the country; and then, upon the re-assembling of Parliament, they introduced the Budget. The same course might well be adopted now. Honorable members are weary after an all-night sitting. Not one of us desires to sit. again throughout the night, but it appears to me 'that that course will bc absolutely certain if the Government force us to continue. In such an event we will not be able to give fair and reasonable consideration to the ways in which this huge sum of money is to be spent. I urge the Minister for 'Defence **(Mr. Greene)** to consider the. request of the honorable member for Wimmera.His amendment has been moved only in order that our position might be made plain. The honorable member for Wimmera will be quite prepared to withdraw his amendment if the Government will acquiesce in his proposal. And, thereafter, honorable members of the Country party would willingly permit the,' necessary Supply Bill to pass through all stages, practically without discussion; and, as there are still a few more Bills to bo more or less formally dealt with - but to which we would not bo able to afford reasonable consideration if an all-night sitting were again inflicted - the Govern ment would do well to signify their acceptance of the (Suggestion. Almost all the members from distant States have either left Melbourne or have booked their berths to depart tomorrow. Such of the business as still remains to be disposed of, apart from the Estimates, could be facilitated. And, altogether, I commend to the Government the example which they set themselves on the eve of the last general elcetion. With regard to the statement of the Treasurer, I desire to make a few observations. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! I must again call the attention of honorable members to what I have frequently pointed out before. When an amendment has- been moved in this Committee general debate cannot ensue. That is clearly laid down in the Standing Orders. It is competent for the Chair, after the submission of the first item, to permit debate to extend over the whole range of the Estimates; and the debate is only restricted and concluded after the responsible Minister has replied. I have so far digressed from the strict reading of the Standing Orders as to give honorable members extended periods in which to address themselves to the Chair. However, there must be some finality. I now call attention to the rule, which is explicit, that, in Committee, members may speak more than once on the same question, but that when nn amendment has been proposed from the Chair they must thereafter confine themselves to its subject-matter. Since I have been responsible for relaxing strict control for the purpose of affording honorable members wider freedom of debate, I must now put an end to that state of affairs. I may explain that, if a member desires to speak upon some feature of the Estimates, other than the specific item which it is proposed to amend, he will be free to do so when the item directly concerned is under review. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr Mcwilliams: -- It is a-.pity that the Chairman's ruling had not been given before the Treasurer rose to speak. The Treasurer's statements require to be answered. Why should a Minister be allowed to make a speech covering the whole subject-matter of the debate, and after an amendment has been moved, if honorable members generally - and the Leader of. a party particularly - are ruled out of order when they rise to refute those statements? I wish to know whether the Treasurer was speaking to the amendment or was making a general reply? If the latter was his purpose, I ask for a. ruling concerning whether he should not have been prevented from speaking until after the amendment had been disposed of. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- I am bound by the Standing Orders; and, so long as they remain as they are- {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr Mcwilliams: -- I submit that the Chairman has not been bound by the Standing Orders. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! No restriction is placed upon the opportunities of a Minister in charge of a Bill, or, having made a financial statement, to address himself to the Committee. . He may speak a dozen times if he so desires. But, only to the Minister do the Standing Orders extend that privilege. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr Mcwilliams: -- Cannot the Minister's statements be replied to? {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Yes ; and in detail, but only when the specific subjectmatter comes up for debate during the consideration of the items immediately concerned.. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr Prowse: -- Well, that will make a very long matter of this debate. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- I cannot help that. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- On. a point of order, am I to understand that the honorable member for Wimmera **(Mr. Stewart)** has moved an amendment for the reduction of the. amount set down in the first item ; and that, following' the amendment, the Treasurer made a general reply, and so closed the general debate? Although the Treasurer may speak as frequently as he likes, I submit that he should be just as strictly confined to the subject-matter before the Chair as- any private member. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- The honorable member is not in order in discussing my ruling. I have already intimated that I myself am to blame for what I have allowed. After the honorable member for Wimmera moved his amendment, several other honorable members spoke. Then the Treasurer rose, and made his statement. I must intervene at some time, and it cannot be said that I have been illiberal when I have allowed several hon orable members to expand rather than curtail their . remarks. There must be some finality; and I no.w appeal to all honorable members to abide by the Standing Orders, and wait until we reach the various items before speaking to them. Thus they will be afforded an opportunity to reply to the Treasurer. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- It seems unfortunate that last night I was prevented from proceeding further with the statement of my case, and to-day, when I rise to reply to the Treasurer on the same debate,' and in conformity with the speeches that have been made, for example, by the honorable members for Gippsland **(Mr. Wise),** and- Melbourne Ports **(Mr. Mathews),** and the Treasurer, I am again the unfortunate member to come under the lash. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- I ask the honorable member to accept my assurance that it is not due to any fault on my part. I distinctly remember the honorable member for South Sydney **(Mr. Riley)** asking the Treasurer, when he was speaking, if that was his reply, and the Treasurer replied, " Yes." {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr Mcwilliams: -- Do I understand you, **Mr. Chanter,** to rule that the mover of the motion can reply after an amendment has been put? {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- I have notruled anything of the kind. I have already intimated that there is no restriction on the Treasurer, who can speak as many times as he likes. The Standing Orders make no. provision for this usage of Parliament. . The usage is to submit an item, and to allow a general discussion on the whole of the Estimates upon that one item. That discussion has taken place. For many years past that has been the practice, and it has never been challenged until now. It is unfortunate that the honorable member for Cowper **(Dr. Earle Page)** should fall a victim because of the point raised, but I cannot help- that. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- Is there any reply in Committee? {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- The Treasurer, in Committee, can speak as often as he thinks proper. His speech has, according to- our practice, closed the general debate in Committee. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- I submit that, during last year, when the Budget debate was under discussion, I distinctly remember the Treasurer of the' day **('Sir Joseph Cook)** (speaking several times. He seemed to. speak after every honorable member who rose in opposition, and the debate was not considered closed. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- I have already said that Ministers are (privileged to do that under the 'Standing 'Orders. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- But that should not necessarily close the general debate on the original motion before the Chair respecting the first item in the Budget. I gathered from what the Chairman stated that the fact that the Treasurer had spoken practically closed ' the debate on thegeneral issue. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- What I stated was that there is no such thing as closing the debate except by mutual consent.The honorable member for South 'Sydney **(Mr. Riley)** asked the . Treasurer if he intended his remarks to be taken as his closing reply, and he distinctly said, "Yes." Mr.Fenton. -He had no right to say that. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- I must administer the Standing Orders as they are given to me. The debate must now be confined to the item 'before the Chair. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- I attempted to rise as the Treasurer got up, and if I had been able to speak then, I would have had more liberty than I shall have now. I shall confine myself to the particular item before the Chair, and I . again urge on the Minister **(Mr. Greene)** the point that I have raised that he should favorably consider the proposition that the Committee should not deal with the whole of the Estimates at present, but that it should prepare a Supply Bill for, say, four months, to enable the elections to be held. Then we could come back to discuss the Estimates in the light of what had taken place in the interval {: #subdebate-19-13-s6 .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
Minister for Defence · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I must express my surprise that the honorable member for Cowper(Dr. Earle Page) should ask me at this stage to . consent to. such a proposition. If he desired.. me to take that course, surely his duty in accordance with the usual practice was to abide by the well-known method of approaching the Prime Minister **(Mr. Hughes)** or myself in the usual way, and putting the question to . us. But when the honorable' member, through one of 'his party, submits, an amendment of this character in Committee, which, by its . very nature is a motion of censure- {: #subdebate-19-13-s7 .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS: -- No. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Yes, it is. It is always understood as such, and it has never been accepted in any other way to my knowledge. It is an extraordinary proceeding for the honorable member for Cowper even to suggest that he would be pleased to withdraw this amendment so that I might consent to 'his proposition. No honorable member in my position could even dream of . doing such a thing, once such an amendment had been moved, and the honorable member knows it perfectly well. By his mere, act he has forced the Government to go straight through with the Estimates, and he knows it. If he does not know that, he has not even an elementary knowledge of parliamentary practice. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS:
FRANKLIN, TASMANIA · REV TAR; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; CP from 1920; IND from 1928 -- You said you were going straight through before this action was taken. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- When was that? {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWilliams: -- Your Whip told me so. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- There was no public pronouncement. The Leader of the Opposition **(Mr,. Charlton)** approached me about this very matter. He did not table a motion in the House, but the honorable member for Cowper has, by his action, forced the Government to go straightthrough. I can do nothing else. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- It is cutting the painter. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Yes. If the honorable member is going to suggest to the electors that the Government should not have taken this course, all I can tell the country is that the honorable member has compelled the Government to take it. The course that the honorable member has adopted is the most extraordinary one that I have ever heard of in my short parliamentary career. If I were to accept the amendment, it would be an acknowledgment of absolute defeat of the Government at the honorable member's behest. It would put the Government insuch a position that they would be' unable to hold up their heads in the country, and the honorable , member would be the man who had forced the Government into that position. {: #subdebate-19-13-s8 .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS:
Franklin -- I concedeimmediately that it is for the Government to say how the business shall be transacted, and I am not complaining of their attitude, but it is only fair to point out that before the amendment was tabled the Leader of the Country party **(Dr. Earle Page)** approached the Treasurer and explained the matter to him: it was not to be taken as a vote of censure. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr Bruce: -- Nobody approached me. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Will the honorable member resume his seat? I have allowed, as a matter of courtesy, the Leader of the Country party to make an appeal to the Minister, although it- had nothing to do with the amendment before the Chair. Then I allowed the Minister to make a reply to that statement; but if I allow other honorable members to join in this appeal we shall be getting far away from the rules of debate. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS: -- Perhaps honorable members are a little bit nervy. I do not know whether you, **Mr. Chanter,** would permit *me to* correct a statement that was made by the Treasurer, and which was quite wrong. It was in reply to a statement made by two or three members of the Country party. The Treasurer contradicted it, and said-- {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! I gave the honorable memberfor Cowper the opportunity of doing so, and he still has that opportunity, as a matter of courtesy. He is the official Leader of the party. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS: -- I was the member who made the statement that the Treasurer had brought down his Budget early in the session in distinct compliance with a pledge given by the Prime Minister during aprevious debate. The Treasurer contradicted that flatly, and he said that the Country party were taking a lot of credit to themselves. I do not know whether I would be allowed to read about four words of what took place last session. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- I cannot allow that. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS: -- The Treasurer was quite wrong. The Budget was brought on when it was in accordance with a distinct pledge given by the Prime Minister, as *Han sard* will show. In reply to the Acting Leader of 'the House **(Mr. Greene),** I would point out that the 'amendment, the acceptance of which he says would be tantamount to an admission of defeat on the part of the Government, was not intended as a motion of censure. I agree with the honorable gentleman that the Government alone are responsible for the conduct of the business of the Committee. We have been sitting-almost continuously since 11 o'clock yesterday morning, and are not in a position to give to the Budget and the Estimates the attention they deserve. The Government are attempting once more to bludgeon them through at a time when, owing to the long sitting, honorable members are physically unfit and mentally weary. I should like the Treasurer, who has spoken of the practice of business houses, to say whether there is in Australia a business' house that would expect its directors to sit continuously for thirty hours in order to deal with its affairs. It is absolutely impossible for us to discuss the Estimates at this stage. Questions have been raised as to the note issue and other matters that should receive the careful consideration of the Committee. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr Bruce: -- What has happened in other sessions? {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS: -- Year after year, the Estimates have been bludgeoned through, but we succeeded two sessions ago in extorting from the Government a distinct pledge that such a procedure would no longer be followed. It is a burlesque on parliamentary procedure and a political debauch to deal with the Budget and the Estimates under these conditions. I enter my emphatic protest against the way in which the Government are conducting the business of the country. The Minister for Works and Railways **(Mr. Richard Foster)** has interjected that we shall all have to account to the electors for our actions. I am quite prepared to do so. I am prepared to accept the verdict of the people, not only as to the principles embodied in the Budget, but as to the action of- the Government inrefusing to give us a reasonable opportunity to discuss its financial proposals. Question - That the item be reduced by £1 (Mr. Stewart's amendment) - put. The Committee divided. AYES: 0 NOES: 0 Majority . . . . 4 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived. Item agreed to. {: .page-start } page 3881 {:#debate-20} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-20-0} #### ESTIMATES, 1922-23 {: #subdebate-20-0-s0 .speaker-JWY} ##### The CHAIRMAN (Hon J M Chanter: -- Is it the pleasure of the Committee that the Estimates be dealt with in Departments? Honorable Members. - Hear, hear! Proposed votes *(The Parliament),* £61,128, and *(Department of the Prime Minister),* £639,942, agreed to. Department of the Treasury. Proposed vote, £3,786,058. {: #subdebate-20-0-s1 .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH:
Ballarat .- Very serious objection is taken by the Ballarat City Council to one of the conditions laid down by the Government in connexion with its grant of £250,000 to the States to enable the carrying out of public works on which work will be found for the unemployed. I refer to the condition that no city councils may participate in the grant. That is a;very cruel restriction, and I understand that the Bendigo City Council also takes exception to it. We have, unfortunately, in Ballarat, a number of unemployed, but the city council cannot do more than it has done for them. It would be necessary for the council to secure an amendment of the Local Government Act before it could increase its revenue, since it has already imposed the maximum rate for which the Act provides. How can the unemployed in Ballarat be expected to go down to the Otway Forest to work? Many of them are married men, and it would be impossible for them to keep two homes going on £4 per week. {: #subdebate-20-0-s2 .speaker-KFP} ##### Mr RICHARD FOSTER:
Wakefield · NAT -- In reply to the honorable member for Ballarat **(Mr. McGrath),** I can only repeat that the conditions upon which this grant shall be paid are specifically set-out. The moneys must be used on highways and district roads outside of cities for developmental purposes. It is for the State Government to give' us a guarantee that this £1 for £1 subsidy shall be spent in the manner provided. The State Government are required to submit a schedule of the roads proposed to be undertaken, and this has to be approved by the Commonwealth Government. In the case of Victoria, it has been approved. The unemployed in the cities are not barred at all. Quite a number of unemployed from Melbourne and suburbs are already employed on roads in this State, and there is no reason why unemployed in Ballarat should not also participate in the employment scheme resulting from the granting of this sum of money. {: #subdebate-20-0-s3 .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH:
Ballarat .- We know, of course, that nobody is debarred from the right to secure employment under the scheme. I am only pointing out that it would be utterly impossible for unemployed married men in Ballarat to get employment under it. The State Government will receive applications from the municipalities eligible to participate in the grant, stating how much money it is proposed to raise on the £1 for £1subsidy basis for developmental work. Under normal conditions this provision may be all right, and the city of Ballarat would be only too pleased to take advantage of the scheme, but unfortunately the ratepayers of Ballarat have been taxed to the uttermost farthing. {: .speaker-KFP} ##### Mr RICHARD FOSTER:
WAKEFIELD, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; LP from 1922; NAT from 1925 -- The honorable member's objection is the. first I . have heard from any of the States. {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH: -- That docs not necessarily mean that there is no ground . for complaint. Bendigo, the only other large inland city in Victoria, has not a member here at the present time, because the Prime Minister is flitting to Sydney. All of the roads leading into Ballarat are country roads, and it seems very unfair that that city should be excluded from the scheme. {: .speaker-KFP} ##### Mr Richard Foster: -- Every penny of the money has been allocated. {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH: -- I am sorry, because I. hoped it would be possible for Ballarat to participate in the scheme. {: #subdebate-20-0-s4 .speaker-K4F} ##### Mr CONSIDINE:
Barrier .- I desire to -bring under the notice of the Treasurer **(Mr. Bruce)** a request which I made some time ago for information in connexion with the suspension by the Commonwealth Pensions Department of the payment of pensions to New- South Wales pensioners who became entitled to relief under the New South Wales Workmen's Compensation Act. The Treasurer, I have no doubt, is fully aware of the circumstances. 'The Miners' Accident Relief Fund was operating prior to the introduction' of the Workmen's Compensation Act, and beneficiaries under that fund were specifically exempted by the Old-age Pensions Act from having their pension computed as income. That Act, upon which the fund depended, expired some years ago, but so far no steps- have been taken to apply the provisions of the Act to the Workmen's Compensation Act, and in a good many cases hardship has resulted. In one case there was a demand by the Pensions Department for a refund of £40. I should like to know if it is the intention of the Government to amend the- Act in such a way as to enable the benefits formerly given to certain persons under the Miners' Accident Relief Fund to be extended to beneficiaries under the Workmen's' Compensation Act, and pending an amendment of the Act I would like to know if the Treasurer will instruct . the Pensions Department to defer action. {: #subdebate-20-0-s5 .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr BRUCE:
Treasurer · Flinders · NAT . - The honorable member for Barrier **(Mr. Considine)** has certainly been very active in this matter. He has brought it under my -notice ' twice already, and I . am afraid it is my fault that up to the present it has not been finalized. When he first spoke to me onthe subject I made . inquiries, and found that the position was as he stated. I asked that a full statement of the case should be prepared, and that there should be a consultation with the AttorneyGeneral's Department as to what action was necessary to put the matter right. I regret that owing to the pressure of public business during the past few weeks I have not yet had an opportunity to go into the question. I can only tell the honorable member that, as I have seen the case up to date, the request seems to be a just and reasonable one, and unless some new light is thrown upon it as a result of further inquiries, I shall certainly endeavour to take some action to give the relief he suggests. {: #subdebate-20-0-s6 .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 .- I should like a statement from the Treasurer as to whether any negotiations are in progress with theFederal organization connected with the British Medical Association concerning a . better allocation of the maternity allowance. I understand the association has prepared a scheme which in some respects is an improvement upon the present method, and if negotiations are in progress I should like some information from the Treasurer, because I desire to put before the Government my views as to certain portions of the proposal. {: #subdebate-20-0-s7 .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr BRUCE:
Treasurer · Flinders · NAT .- There are no negotiations going on at the moment between the Govern- ment and the British Medical Association, but a great deal of information has been acquired by the Government from individual members of that body on the subject. The question of maternity allowances is dealt with in the Budget, and the Governor-General's Speech also contains a definite pronouncement with regard to the whole question of national and public health. I can assure the honorable gentleman that when the Govern- ment are considering a scheme they will be only too pleased to seek his expert assistance.' On page 77 of- the -Estimates there is a footnote with reference to the alteration in the duties: on galvanized' iron, wire netting, wire for use in the manufacture of wire netting, and tractors. At the time this statement was made and these papers were prepared, the intention of the Governmentwas to provide for these amounts out of the refunds to revenue which appear in .the Estimates of the Treasury. Since then, however, and after consultation with lie Law authorities, it has been decided that this matter could better be dealt with 'by a special Act, which has already been passed. Provision having thus been made, the footnote to which I refer is now unnecesary Footnote amended accordingly. Proposed vote agreed to. Proposed vote *(Attorney-General's Department),* £119,865, agreed to. Department of Home and Territories. Proposed vote, £722,479. {: #subdebate-20-0-s8 .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH:
Ballarat .- I wish to bring under the attention of the Honorary Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories a matter of considerable concern to those who work in country districts, and particularly in country towns. It has relation to the manner in which the Commonwealth statistics are collected. A great deal of injustice is being done to the workers in these districts and towns owing to the fact that arbitration awards fix lower rates of wages for them than are awarded to workers in the metropolis. It is contended that the cost of living in country districts and towns is lower than it is in metropolitan districts. That contention is not based upon proper grounds, as I shall endeavour to . show. The awards of Arbitration Courts are based upon cost of living statistics and industrial statistics prepared by the Commonwealth Statistician's staff, hut in the formulation of these statistics proper regard is riot paid to the relative cost of articles or' rent of houses of equal quality as between, say, Ballarat and Melbourne. The, Commonwealth Statistician's figures relate only' to " the dominant prices .of specified articles" which are required to be furnished in returns from retailers and house agents. In other words, they seek only to reveal what the workers in various : centres actually pay for articles of food and groceries, and for rent, no regard whatever being paid either to the quality of the goods purchased or to the accommodation in the houses occupied. For instance, if the workers of Ballarat, owing to their poorer circumstances, are accustomed to buy a cheap grade of tea at ls. 3d. per lb., the predominant, price of tea in Ballarat is set down as ls. 3d. per lb. If, on the other hand, the workers of Carlton invariably pay 2s. per lb. for their tea, 2s. per lb. is regarded as the predominant price of tea in Carlton. The statistics as presented to the Arbitration Court would therefore serve to indicate that the average cost of the tea supplied, to Ballarat workers was so much less than the average cost of tea" supplied to the workers of Carlton. In the same way, if the workers of Ballarat, owing to their circumstances, are obliged to live in a poorer class of dwelling, such as would not be permitted to exist in a Melbourne suburb, the rents paid by them for their poor class dwellings are accepted as the predominant rent paid in Ballarat; while the higher rents paid for dwellings in a Melbourne suburb, with higher standards of comfort, are regarded as the predominant rents obtaining in that suburb. The statistics thus" indicate that a provincial centre like Ballarat is enjoying relatively cheaper houses than those made available to the workers in the metropolis, whereas, in truth, the Ballarat rents, compared 'with the character -and quality of the dwellings, are proportionately higher than those paid by Melbourne workers for * houses of a higher standard. " Predominant prices " is defined to mean simply the price of the article most frequently bought, without regard to quality. The prices actually paid by Ballarat workers for certain commodities may appear to compare favorably with those paid in Melbourne, but there may be no comparison whatever between the two articles as regards quality. Therefore, on the ground of equity, I urge that the wages of the Ballarat worker should be held to have the same purchasing power as those of a Melbourne worker. The labour and skill of each man is of the same quality. The value of the output of each is equal. Why should not both be put on the same footing, particularly when the selling price of an article made in the country centre is generally higher than -that of an article made and sold in Melbourne? I hope that the Statistician will have more money made available to him to enable him to collect more reliable information as to 'the predominant prices of articles in both city and country areas. If this is done, an injustice will be removed, and a step will bc taken towards preventing the drift of population from country districts to Melbourne and the sea-board. It is unfair to compel a Ballarat, worker to accept less wages because he happens to be paying 10s. per week rent for a house not worth more than £500, and without any of the conveniences of- civilization which are to be found in the £1,000 house in the Melbourne suburb, for which the Melbourne worker is possibly called upon' to pay a rent of 15s. per week. The conveniences available in each building ought to be taken into consideration in fixing the relative values of city and country houses. I would rather pay £1 per week for a house in Melbourne than pay 15s. per week for a house in Ballarat and suffer a reduction in wages, as compared with those I would receive in Melbourne. I would be much better off in Melbourne paying the higher rent. Unfortunately, the whole trouble lies in the inability of the Commonwealth Statistician to collect the proper information on which to base his statistical tables, which carry so much weight with the President of the Arbitration Court. If the Honorary Minister will urge upon the Minister the necessity for increasing the vote available for the Statistician, I shall be quite satisfied for the moment. {: #subdebate-20-0-s9 .speaker-L0I} ##### Sir GRANVILLE RYRIE:
Honorary Minister · North Sydney -- I am afraid that there is nothing in- the vote that will enable me to supply the honorable member with details as to the expenditure incurred by the Statistician in collecting the figures referred to, but I shall take a note of his remarks- and sub mit them to the Minister for Homo and Territories. {: .speaker-KJM} ##### Mr Jackson: -- Have the Government finally got out of the hotel business in the Northern Territory and disposed of the liquor store? {: .speaker-L0I} ##### Sir GRANVILLE RYRIE: -- I know that the Government have got out of the hotels, and I think that they have also got rid of the liquor store. There is nothing in tho notes supplied by the Department to enable me to speak upon the matter with any degree of certainty. {: #subdebate-20-0-s10 .speaker-KNH} ##### Mr MATHEWS:
Melbourne Ports -- I have been- informed that the Northern Territory Administration have recently sold the Darwin ice-works to **Mr. Holmes,** who is, I understand, the boss of the Chinamen there. {: .speaker-KJM} ##### Mr Jackson: -- I am pleased to hear the honorable member say that **Mr. Holmes** is the " boss " of Darwin. I always understood that tho Chinamen were the " bosses " there. {: .speaker-KNH} ##### Mr MATHEWS: **- Mr. Holmes** is the representative of the Chinamen who " boss " the town. The difficulty about the matter is that the control of the iceworks means the control of the electric light supply of the town ; and I am afraid that if the Administration has taken this reprehensible step of handing over the control of the electric light supply to a private individual, it will mean the deathknell of Darwin. {: #subdebate-20-0-s11 .speaker-L0I} ##### Sir GRANVILLE RYRIE:
Honorary Minister · North Sydney . - I have nothing in my notes from the Department to indicate that **Mr. Holmes** has acquired the freezing works and electric lighting works at Darwin, but I shall ascertain for tho honorable member if what he has said is correct. {: #subdebate-20-0-s12 .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON:
Maribyrnong .- Will the Honorary Minister impress on the Chief Electoral Officer the necessity for getting on with the printing of the electoral rolls as speedily as possible? I trust that the Government will not be too niggardly in their expenditure in this regard. {: #subdebate-20-0-s13 .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON:
Hunter .- Will the Honorary Minister see that a sufficient number of rolls is supplied to the Opposition, and that their issue is not guided bv the fact that it has only two senators in its ranks? {: .speaker-L0I} ##### Sir Granville Ryrie: -- At the request of the honorable member for Darling **(Mr. Blakeley),** I have submitted a request to the Department in respect of that matter. {: #subdebate-20-0-s14 .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 .- So that every facility may be given to country people to record their votes, I trust that the Minister will instruct his Returning Officers not to be too parsimonious in establishing polling booths. Several cases have come under my notice where people will be obliged to travel 8 or 10 miles to record their votes if additional polling, booths are not provided. Proposed vote agreed to. Department of Defence. Proposed vote, £3,696,171. {: #subdebate-20-0-s15 .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON:
Hunter .- I do not intend to debate this vote at length; now that we have decided to go to the electors it would be like beating the air to do so. I would like to say, however, that although the Defence expenditure has been considerably reduced from what it was estimated to be twelve months ago, there is still room for further reduction. It is greatly in excess of what it was prior to the war, and. we should get down to the pre-war standard. In this regard it is pleasing to note that some of the leading public men of the world are endeavouring to have military expenditure reduced to that standard. {: .speaker-KNH} ##### Mr Mathews: -- An agitation took place in Japan on that very point last {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- The sooner Australia takes steps to further reduce its defence expenditure the better for the community. After all, defence expenditure, whilst it may be necessary to some extent as an insurance, does not yield much benefit to the country, and from a productive point of view it has no value at all. We should aim at reducing this burden to its pre-war dimensions. What justification is there for continuing a large defence vote? It was proved during the war that the military training that had been compulsorily given in Australia counted for very little on active service, because the conditions of warfare were vastly different from the method of training. Everything should be done throughout the world to avoid future wars, but, if one should unfortu- nately break out, new methods of fighting may be introduced which will mean the waste of the money spent in defence training. Whilst the compulsory military training may have been beneficial to our young men in their capacity as citizens, under war conditions, they were no better than thousands of other men who, prior to enlistment, had not received any training. {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- Ultimately, the untrained man may be as good as the trained man, but the former would not be ready so soon. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- That is so, but Australians are wonderfully quick in' adapting themselves to anything. I think we could reasonably cut down the Defence Estimates considerably more than the Minister has done. It is no use proposing any reduction now, but I. hope that whatever Government is returned to control the country at the forthcoming election, will support the establishment of peace throughout the world, and endeavour to cut down useless defence expenditure, thus making a considerable sum of money available for utilization in a way that will benefit the community generally. **Mr. MATHEWS** (Melbourne Ports) [5.17'J. - I rise to say a few words in regard to the Air Force. The Public ' Works Committee has presented- a report on the extension of the establishment at Point Cook. One of the witnesses examined by the Committee was MajorGeneral White, who, I suppose, is one of the greatest of Australian soldiers. I endeavoured to get him to support my view that we might utilize the Air Force for the carrying of doctors into the remote parts of Australia, and also for the carriage of mails. In this way we would popularize the Force, which is sure to be one of the first lines of defence in years to come. Of course, everything associated with aviation is expensive, and, from the commercial point of view, the return is not commensurate with the enormous amount of capital required. I believe that training in the Army should fit a man for a useful part in private life, just as training in private life should qualify a man to become useful in connexion with defence, if required. It is evidently the intention of the military authorities to-. make the Air Force an important line of defence, lt is necessary, therefore, to popularize it, and the only "way to-do it is by qualifying those engaged in it for civilian occupations. We are told that the defence of Australia in the air will probably necessitate the establishment of ah air squadron at Darwin, and another at. Papua, or some other northern islands. That must necessitate large and costly establishments. I think the military will foe well advised if, in training aviators during peace time for fighting, they allow them to utilize their training machines for other purposes. The purposes for which I wish to use the aeroplanes used in central and northern Australia are not such as would warrant private companies undertaking these operations for profit. If it were possible to utilize a man-of-war for commercial purposes the expenditure on Naval defence would be diminished very considerably. That is not practicable, however, but if it is possible to qualify members of the Air Force for civilian usefulness a great benefit will be conferred upon the community, the Air Force itself will become more popular, and the expenditure on the defence machine will be reduced. I hope that the. Government will give serious consideration to this suggestion. {: #subdebate-20-0-s16 .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
Minister for Defence · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Part of the establishment at Point Cook is a training school. The squadron is organized for the training of pilots, who are not only put through a full military course, but are specially trained also for civil aviation. After they have passed through the school they will be fully qualified as pilots for the fighting Air Force if required, but they are allowed to engage in civil, aviation. They aa-e, however, under an obligation to serve with the military Air Force iu time of war. Provision is made .on these Estimates for the training of civil aviators. The present Air Force is the smallest effective nucleus that we can do with-, but we must keep it up to a high state of efficiency. There is no other school in Australia for training civil aviators. Therefore, the establishment at Point Cook is serving a dual purpose,' and I have no doubt that it will be of immenseimportance to the country as time- goes on. {: #subdebate-20-0-s17 .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr BELL:
Darwin .- 4 a 4 am very pleased to be able to support honorable members opposite on any question of military training, and I indorse what the honorable member for Melbourne Ports **(Mr. Mathews)** has said in regard to the Air Force. On these Estimates £251,042 is provided for that body, of which £151,915 is allotted to the military branch and £99,127 to the civil aviation branch. Although I am not likely to make the mistake that is made by some who have had no experience in military work, of thinking that a man who has had no training can be as readily equipped for active service as can a man who has had the advantage of universal training, I see no reason why the members of the Air Force who are now being trained cannot be utilized for civil aviation purposes. I was, therefore, glad to hear the statement of the Minister for Defence regarding the combination of the military branch and the civil aviation branch for training purposes. The services of the men so trained can be utilized with great benefit to the Commonwealth for the carrying of mails and, as suggested by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, for doctors into the remote districts. I am perfectly sure that if that scheme is extended it will popularize the Air Force, which, of course is a most desirable aim in connexion with any military force in a community such as ours. There is no doubt that the scheme can be extended to provide for the carriage of mails from the mainland to Tasmania and other places. No other "arm of .the service will De needed as much in any future war as the Air Forces will be. Only those who have had the uncomfortable experience of being bombed can realize what effect an aerial attack has upon even trained men, to say nothing of the civilian population. Aviation should be encouraged in every way possible, and any expenditure on this branch of defence is fully warranted. {: #subdebate-20-0-s18 .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 .- My experience is that a man who has been working for twenty-four to thirty hours without sleep is not more than 50 per cent, efficient, and probably only 25 per cent. The Government have decided to go through with the Estimates, and have a majority in- the House, of the same mind. Therefore, I see no use in attempting to discuss the items of the Estimates in detail) but I should like to know something about what is happening in regard to defence. First, I should like to know what is the exact position in regard to the Duntroon and Jervis Bay Colleges. Is there any likelihood of the *two* establishments being amalgamated? Then, we ought to be afforded some information regarding the various Factories that the Defence Department is conducting. Amongst the contingencies for the Supply Branch are items of £20,612 for the maintenance of the Explosives Factory, £4,073 for the maintenance of the Acetate of Lime Factory, and £76,427 for the maintenance of the Small Arms Factory, all of which are on a nucleus basis. If these Factories are continued as at present, they will not prove satisfactory if our day of trial comes. The workers in the Small Arms Factory, for instance, must be very highly skilled technical men, whose number cannot be rapidly augmented if we desire to increase our cutout. My suggestion is that it would, perhaps, be better to sell such establishments as the Small Arms Factory to the Maxim firm, or Armstrong, Whitworth and Company, to be run, not merely for turn ng out small arms, but also for the manufacture of motors and other classes of machinery. Such establishments in the hands of private enterprise would stabilize employment in the various districts. According to the report of the Auditor-General, the position of the Small Arms Ammunition Factory is exceedingly unsatisfactory. He says - >It was pointed out in my report on the accounts for the year 1920-21 that, a9 the Colonial Ammunition Company was unable to carry out its contract with the Department of Defence for the . supply of Suran Aims ammunition, it had been decided to .lease the buildings, plant, and equipment of the company, and to conduct the concern as a departmental factory, the Department entering into possession on the 1st January, 1921. > >Although it was understood that the lease of the Factory was to be for a period of seven years from the 1st January, 1.(121, at a yearly rental of £20,000, the agreement does not appear to have yet been signed by the contracting parties, notwithstanding that considerable expenditure has been incurred during the period of over eighteen months since the Factory was taken over. On 15th -June, 1922, the Secretary, Department of Defence, advised that, owing *to* a disagreement between the Colonial Ammunition Company and the Commonwealth as to certain of the conditions under which the Department went into occupation, no agreement had been signed yet, and, further, that a writ had been issued out of the Supreme Court against the Commonwealth by the company, and the Crown Solicitor had been instructed to defend the action. The Treasurer, on 30th December, 1920, approved of the establishment of a trust account in the Treasury books for the purpose of recording transactions in connexion with this Factory's accounts, and the following amounts > > *I Hi* no 000 £100,000, and £50,000 = total £250,000) were transferred to its credit from the Small Arms Ammunition Trust Account. The account was kept at the Bank of New South Wales, Sunshine, subsequently transferred to Royal Bank, and later to English, Scottish, and Australian Bank, Footscray. lt appears to have been agreed that the Department was to purchase, at= cost price, the company's stocks of metal, fuel_, stores, &c. Application has been made by this office from time to time for the submission of the stocksheets showing the goods transferred on the 1st January, 1921, but these were not received until the 16th June, 1922. The total value of the transferred stocks appeared as £109,535 8s. 5d. It was pointed out by the Department of Defence that it had been the practice of the company to take stock at the 31st December in each year, and arrangements were, therefore, made for a stocktaking to be conducted on the 31st December, 1921. The particulars of these stock-lists have been called for from time to time, but they have not been received for examination. On the 2nd June, 1922, the Secretary, Department of Defence, advised that the stock-sheets compiled were not satisfactory: that it was certain from investigations that had been made that the lists would not represent the true position of the stocks at the date mentioned, and it was submitted that the apparent results of this stocktaking should be abandoned, and a further stocktaking be conducted as at the 30th June, 1922, when it was promised that every effort would be concentrated with a view to bringing the stock-sheets im for audit examination by the middle of August, 1922. A recent visit made by an Audit inspector to the Factory to make a test check of the stock in" the mill and the Factory stores showed most unsatisfactory, results. In connexion with thiB matter certain articles which were missing were found to have been abstracted by the night watchman, and this official was subsequently dismissed." That does not disclose a very healthy state of affairs; and I should like information from the Minister **(Mr. Greene")** as to the real position in regard to all these undertakings, so that we may be better able to decide whether they could not be handled to greater advantage by private enterprise under contracts to supply the Commonwealth as required from time to time. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- Will the Minister also give us some information about the men whose services have been dispensed with? {: #subdebate-20-0-s19 .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
Minister for Defence · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I must admit that, the two Colleges referred to by the honorable member **(Dr. Earle Page)** present a difficult problem. Both my military and naval advisers are strongly opposed to an amalgamation. I confess that I was somewhat enamoured of the idea at one time, as a possible solution nf *the* difficulties confronting me, but after mature consideration 1 have arrived at a different conclusion. We should have to spend something like £60,000 at Jervis Bay to enable the establishment there to accommodate two staffs. Notwithstanding the fact that the buildings are larger than are required for the number of cadets at present at the College, .the expense is due to the fact that the military staff has to be housed. That is one reason, but no.t the only one, that may be advanced against amalgamation. We are looking carefully into the whole position, and examining many propositions. One of these, submitted quite recently, is that part of Duntroon could be utilized by the New South Wales Government as an agricultural college; and that most useful suggestion is being looked into. It would undoubtedly reduce the *per capita* cost of the cadets at the College, which, under our nucleus organization, is unfortunately large. However, we have effected at these Colleges considerable economies, and are endeavouring by every means to reduce the . expenditure to the lowest possible rate. I hope that before the next Estimates come up for consideration some further practical means will have been discovered of dealing with this difficult situation. As to the nucleus Munition Factories, I referred to the Small Arms establishment when some previous Estimates wre before us some time ago, and explained at length our policy with regard to them. I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that we could not get any private firm to take these factories over .and run them on our behalf; and the reason is simple. The factories are laid out for specialized work - for the production of special articles. There are some machines capable of doing general work, but the great majority are not so adapted, being special machines for' special purposes. Consequently, if a firm were to take over the factories they would either have to scrap a good deal of the machinery, or erect new buildings to house the additional machinery necessary for other enterprises. The honorable member for Cowper **(Dr. Earle Page)** suggests that the number of men employed at the Small Arms Factory is small, and that it would be difficult ' if an emergency arose to sufficiently extend the staff to enable the establishment to work at its full capacity. I cannot altogether agree with the honorable member in that regard. There are in all these factories a number of men who have to be specially trained for their job; the work they do is of a highly-specialized order, and it takes a considerable time for them to learn their business. On the other hand, when the factories are operating at their full capacity a large number of those employed are engaged on what is known as " repetition work." Practical engineers or men accustomed to handling, not the same machine, but machines of the same class, could be picked up in engineering shops throughout Australia. The machinery is so accurate that it turns out the articles automatically; all that is required is some one to stand by and manipulate it. The simplicity of this class of work, and the comparative ease with which efficiency can be acquired, was illustrated over and over again in England during the war, when women in large numbers were engaged on this repetition work, and had no difficulty in mastering it in a comparatively short time. The nucleus organization on which we are working necessitates our keeping on these "key men," as they really are. We have sufficient work to keep them engaged. At Lithgow, for example, in the great tool room, we are using hands there to turn out tools for the ammunition factories which we propose erecting, including the cartridge-case and shell factories. Instead of the men making rifles, which we do not happen to want at present, they are engaged on the other work I have indicated. The same remark applies to the Cordite Factory, the Acetate of Lime Factory, and the others. The men whose services we have dispensed with are those who are ordinarily engaged in repetition work. {: #subdebate-20-0-s20 .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH:
Ballarat -- I take this opportunity to protest against the system of compulsory military training, because I believe we have arrived at a time in our history when it should be abolished. We should no longer compel our young men and boys to give up. their Saturday afternoons and place themselves under the control of a few military chiefs. This training serves no useful purpose, for it certainly does not fit the trainees to defend their country any better than it was defended by untrained Australians during the war. The Honorary Minister **(Sir Granville Ryrie)** knows full well that all this training is absolutely useless. {: .speaker-L0I} ##### Sir Granville Ryrie: -- I do not. {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- If the honorable member can get the Honorary Minister to say that, I will undertake to agree with him. {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH: -- If I could get the Minister to give his real opinion I feel sure he would say so. If we must have compulsory military training, let us apply it to those who are old enough to vote. {: .speaker-L0I} ##### Sir Granville Ryrie: -- How long is it since this change of front has occurred on the part of honorable members opposite, with respect to compulsory military training? {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH: -- We have not varied from our attitude, although, in recent years, we have learned a great deal about military training. I strongly protest against the military spirit being inculcated in the minds of our young people. At the forthcoming election the Labour party intends to test the views of the people concerning whether young men should be compelled to undergo compulsory military training. {: #subdebate-20-0-s21 .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
Minister for Defence · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 .- The honorable member for Cowper **(Dr. Earle Page)** referred to the state of affairs which has arisen as a result of the Government taking over the Small Arms Ammunition Factory. Some time ago - I think, quite two years - we were faced with the position that the Small Arms Ammunition Company was so financially embarrassed that it was not able to carry on. The Government had to come to its rescue in some way or be. content to see the whole concern go into liquidation. The result of that would have been that the Small Arms Ammunition Factory would have probably closed down. We did not consider that it was in the best . interests of the country that such a thing should be allowed tohappen; and the Government decided eventually to lease the factory, to run it as the other munition factories were being run, and to take over the whole of the stock from the company, under certain agreements. Thereafter, various troubles arose; and, under the agreement with the company, the Government undertook to. take over such of the company's staff as were deemed necessary to carry on. Disagreement has arisen in connexion with taking over certain members of the staff. The Government are being asked to take over certain men who, we think, ought not to be taken over. As the matter is at present the subject of litigation, I cannot enter into the actual details of the dispute; but I am free to say that we believe we are acting in the best interests of the Commonwealth while, at the same time, taking care to stand by the terms of our agreement. {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGrath: -- Non-commissioned officers have not been provided for in the Superannuation Bill. A promise has been made that another Bill will be introduced to give them, at any rate, some measure of benefit. Can the Minister state whether at this late hour we may expect such a Bill? And, if not, can he indicate what will be done? {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I have already mentioned that the Government are endeavouring to arrive at a scheme which, in all the circumstances, will be fair to these men. I have not the slightest doubt that we shall succeed. The position is peculiar, and requires actuarial investigation. That is at present proceeding, and I hope that when our intentions are announced they will meet with general agreement. Proposed vote agreed to. Department of Trade and Customs. Proposed vote, £786,608. {: #subdebate-20-0-s22 .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr BELL:
Darwin .- In the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Act no reference was made, in the reciprocal schedule, to oats. Tasmanian producers, and particularly those, in my electorate, are concerned over the possibility of an unrestricted importation of . New Zealand oats. I draw the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs **(Mr. Rodgers)** to a telegram from . Launceston, which was published in this morning's *Age.* Strong exception is being' taken to some rumoured agreement for the remission of duty on oats as between the two Dominions. If there is anything in . the rumour, I . should like to be informed. I would certainly protest if the proposal were about to come . into operation. It is well known that the climatic and general conditions of Tasmania are very similar to those of New . Zealand.; and there is no doubt that oats grown in the 'Dominion would be a most formidable competitor with Tasmanian oats on the mainland market. We cannot produce grains as cheaply as can Victorian farmers in good seasons. When occasional bad seasons are experienced . on the mainland, Tasmanian growers naturally benefit. If New Zealand oats are admitted free, or at a lower rate than under the Customs Tariff, my State will be done a serious injustice. Mr.Charlton. - IstheMinister in apositionto give the House 'any information regarding the hop industry? {: #subdebate-20-0-s23 .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
Minister for Trade and Customs · WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 . attentionhasbeendirected tothe telegram from Launceston which was published -in the *Age.* The information is based, apparently,, upon a statement by . a member of the . New . Zealand Government. It is not definitely asserted that . an alteration in therates of duty has taken place, but that negotiations are proceeding for the free entry of . New Zealand oats into Australia. I am able to inform the honorable member that no such -proposal has been adopted between the . Commonwealth and -New Zealand Governments. I could not favorably regard the request of the New Zealand Minister for Trade and Customs for the admission of oats free of duty, nor do the Government intend to grant that request. I hope later to deal with . several outstanding items in the agreement between New Zealand and the Commonwealth. I have 'in mind, particularly, those which may be called the bargaining items. Withrespecttothe hop-growing industry, Ihavegivenmuch attentiontowhat has proved a very difficult matter. It should be unnecessary for me to refer again to the causes which have imperilled the industry; but I would remind honorable members that the 'conditions . were so menacing that definite action had to be taken. I have had . several consultations, with the hop-growers on the one hand and with the brewers on the other; and I desire to acknowledge . the assistance freely and fully accorded by the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Charlton).** I am pleased to say that the negotiations have resulted in a very substantial agreement being entered into. Australian brewers have undertaken to use at least85 per cent, of Australian hops, for three seasons, at a minimum price of , 2s. 6d. per lb. and a maximum of 3s. There is now the certain prospect of the stabilization of the industry for three years, , at any . rate, and it is the more welcome because it came at a time when the industry . was threatened almost with extinction. I compliment Tasmania upon the fact that that State sent over to the mainland a very tactful representative in the person of **Mrs. Raynor. Her** presence demonstratedthat when . the right type of negotiator is selected good resultsare the more likely to be . achieved. The agreement entered into with the brewers shouldput hop-growers in good heart. I am particularly pleased that- the . arrangement has been made by negotiation 'between the interested parties. The outcome has been to save . the Government from taking a line of action which we would be very sorry, and very slow, to enforce. It is far better that the 'two industries should have pulled 'together, seeing that both enjoy -the protection of their own home market. Proposed vote agreedto. Proposed vote *(Department of Works and Railways),* £835,169, agreed to. Postmaster-General's . Department. Proposed vote, £7,756,335. {: #subdebate-20-0-s24 .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr BELL:
Darwin .- There 'are one or two matters in connexion with the Postmaster-General's Department that I desire to mention. I have dealt with them before in this 'Chamber, : but I feel compelled 'to bring . them again ; bef ore the Committee. As I have said on other occasions, thePostal Department has given increased facilities, and what they have provided, especially for country districts, is appreciated. There is certainly an improvement on whati obtained two years ago.; but with regard' to telephone lines and1 mail services in country districts,. I am still unsatisfied. I wish especially to, bring, before the PostmasterGeneral. the policy of charging the. residents of certain country districts- who. require and! are entitled to- either mail or telephone services a portion, of the cost. I have, more than once, entered a protest against that practice. There, is, no justification* for- calling upon any one section of- the community to 'contribute towards the cost of such services.. No such demand is made; in respect of facilities, supplied in the cities and- towaJs of the- Commonwealth, and since- those to whom these services are given do not- reap the whole benefit, I. fail to- understand, why they should; bs: called: upon, to bear, any proportion of the' cost. I admit that the position has improved". At the present time the Postal Department provides 75 . per cent, of the* cost of establishing' an approved: service;, and' no< district is required! to- find- more- than-- 25- per- cent, of the outlay. But. why should' even- that contributionbe -required'-? ESwjry telephone subscribers - business' people and? others: residing in thetowns - Benefits' equally as much' as; if- notmore' than; those at the extreme* end of anew extension. New* lines-- in some cases may not pay; but- they help to makealli the other lines pay. 1 therefore say that insoma, cases am extension does not, get cuedife for- alii the* revenue; that it pro* duces. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- H the honorable mem: ber will allow, me td speakr. think I shall be able, to satisfy him.. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The honorable member will get. all that he wants: {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr BELL: -- Then- I shall, resume my seat. {: #subdebate-20-0-s25 .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I wish very briefly to urge on. the Postmaster-General the necessity for liberalizing the facilities attaching to country telephone- offices. There are country offices where- there should' be a continuous service: {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- I am going- to deal with that' matter. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Very well. I have recently received, from th» office of the Deputy Postmaster-General of New South Wales a list, of new services,, in respect of which it has. been found that the anticipated revenue has been underestimated, and a statement that those who have contributed for sometime to the cost of these services', are entitled to a refund. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- The honorable; member isi referring- to the guarantee -system?: Mi-. PARKER. MOLONEY.- YearThe district, inspectors are thorough capable, and. painstaking men,, and. then underestimates of revenue are. not due:in any want of care or attention1 on their' part. I. urge that some liberalization, of such estimates should be possible. {: #subdebate-20-0-s26 .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON:
I should bet glad if the PostmasterGenerat' would: inform the. Committee · MaribyrnongJ [6.9]:. off the: extent' tot which, arrears of worksinhis Department, are: being' overtaken.. If should) like also to' know whether he: haul any speciali scheme- by which,, say, a dozen people living within 3 or31/2 miles of a-. tr.unk. line might, by a system, of grouping, secure: a. telephones service fr. As' the- representative: of a. big. Gountr-y; area* the honorable gentleman knows* bow important, it. is that -telephone- facilities; should be- provided, for people in scat)-. tared, districts in, order that; they may bes able- to- get: into- touch, not only with), business* centres,, but,, in cases. of. sickness^ with) a. medical' mam {: #subdebate-20-0-s27 .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr LAIRD SMITH:
Denison -- The Postmaster-General, is. aware thatI hav-e been for some time in. communication with his Department with reference: to two young men in my electorate who, on' their return from the Front; underwent' an examination for.- the' position off electrical' engineers. The- examination;;, however; followed" lines- with which they were- not familiar, with theresultthat they were unable- to'pass it. Since then they have steadily pursued their* studies and I* feel' sure they would' now be able to pass1- even- the most' severe of examinations; When they applied' recentlyto be reexamined the Acting Public' Service Commissioner; I understand, offered some objection. I think thatthePublic Service Bill that we have just passed makes provision for re-examinations in certain circumstances. I ask the honorable gentleman to have the case of these two young men finalized as early aspossible. {: #subdebate-20-0-s28 .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr POYNTON:
PostmasterGeneral · Grey · NAT -- I desire to inform the honorable member for Denis on **(Mr. Laird Smith)** that I have in 'hand the matter to which he refers, and that he may rest assured that within a very short -time I shall be able to finalize it. In "reply to the honorable member for Darwin **(Mr. Bell)** and others who have spoken, I may say that I am instituting quite a number of reforms. These have received the approval of Cabinet, and I propose to outline them so that they may be placed on record for the information of honorable members. Prior to' 1920 it was the practice of the ' Department to bear 50 per cent, of any estimated loss on proposed country telephone and telegraph lines, and to require the residents to furnish a guarantee or Contribution to cover the remaining 50 per cent. Under conditions laid down early in 1920 by my predecessor, the Department has since then been bearing 75 per cent, of the estimated loss, the proportion in respect of which the residents are liable having thus been reduced to 25 per cent. This concession has resulted in a substantial increase in the number of applications for telephone services, and many places formerly without a tele graph or a telephone service now have that facility. It is anticipated that approximately 190 country public telephone and telegraph lines will be erected this' financial year. Realizing the important part played by the telephone in the development of the country districts, the Government is now further liberalizing the conditions governing the granting of these country services. It has been decided to repeal the present conditions whereby residents in country districts are called upon to make good by guarantee the deficiency from telephone lines, and to erect lines without guarantee or contribution in cases where the cost of a line does not exceed £1,500. The new conditions to be introduced will be on the following lines : - {: type="a" start="a"} 0. Each application for a country line to be dealt with on its merits, and no application to be granted, unless the line applied for is shown to bc in tbo public interest. 1. Subject to the conditions set out in (a) being complied with, approval to be given for the erection of lines in the following circumstances: - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Where a line is estimated to yield within a period of seven years the required minimum revenue, or where the total cost of the line exclusive of administration charges, does not exceed £1,500, the Department will erect a line without guarantee or contribution from the residents. 1. Where a line will not yield the required minimum revenue within a period of seven years, and the cost of such line, exclusive of administration charges, exceeds £1,500, the Department will undertake its erection, provided those interested contribute in cash, labour, and/or material, 25 per cent, of the estimated annual deficiency, capitalized at 10 per cent, as at present. The adoption of the conditions set out above will mean that approximtely 85 per cent, of the applications for the erection of lines in country districts will be granted, without requiring the residents to make any contribution or guarantee towards the cost of erecting the lines. I have been giving close attention to the question of cheapening the cost of telephone lines in country districts, and am satisfied there is scope for improvement in this connexion. Special instructions are now being issued to the officers engaged in the construction of such lines,emphasizing the necessity for seeing that the cheapest possible class of line, compatible with an efficient service, is erected. They are further being instructed - more particularly in the cases of short, spur or branch lines - to carefully investigate the possibility of reducing the cost by utilizing fences, scantlings, trees, or other cheap means of support wherever that course can be safely followed, or, where practicable, by erecting lines inside the fences, instead of along the road, thereby permitting the use of much shorter poles than would be necessary if the line followed the road. The instructions being issued also provide for the erection of these country telephone lines by contract, or - by local offers, instead of the Department itself doing the work, and where arrangements cannot be made to have the work done by contract or by local offer, endeavours are to be made to have the work performed by local labour at the ruling rate of pay for labour in the district concerned. It is anticipated that, by these means, the work will be performed more economically than would be the case if the Department had to send a gang away from their home station in order to erect the line. The more extensive use of railway poles in order to avoid the erection of new polo routes by the Postal Department is being encouraged. It is considered that, where a railway pole route is in existence, it is not in tho interests of the taxpayer to parallel this route with a line of Postal departmental poles. It has been found, from investigation, that the use of railway poles will effect substantial reduction in the cost of the erection of telephone lines. The cheapening of the cost of construction of telephone lines, in the manner outlined in the foregoing, will .enable a larger volume of work to be done for a given sum of money, and should also result in greater expedition in carrying out works, as it will enable a larger amount of. work to be undertaken than would be the case if the Department relied entirely on its usual sources of supply for labour. It is doubtful whether the people in the country districts are fully cognisant of the liberal conditions which now obtain in respect of the provision of subscribers' services for country residents. Towards the end of last year my predecessor approved of a more liberal policy in this respect, and the instructions which were formulated to give effect to that policy, and which have my hearty indorsement, were issued shortly after I took over the Postal Department. Prior to the introduction of the altered terms referred to, it was the practice of the Department to restrict the expenditure on telephone subscribers' lines in country districts to a sum equal to the aggregate revenue received from the subscriber, by way of rental over a period of seven years. This usually amounted to about £21, and any cost over and above that amount had to be met by the sub scriber either making a cash contribution or erecting portion of the line. The improved conditions now in operation provide for the erection of sub-'' scribers' lines for the full distance be-' tween the exchange and the subscribers' premises in all cases where poles are available, and the applicant is not required to make any contribution to walds the cost other than the payment of the usual ground rental prescribed by the telephone regulations for the length of' line required, which rental is usually about £3 per annum for a line which is not more than 2 miles distant from the exchange to which it connects. In cases where poles are not available, the De* partment is now prepared to erect a pole' line for a distance of three-quarters of simile from the exchange ; if more than ohe1 subscriber is concerned, the pole line Ls..' erected for a proportionately greater distance. ..« Briefly stated, where poles are available, there is now no limit to expenditure, andonly the requisite rent is to .be paid. Where poles are not available the limit is £65, equivalent to the cost of a! line three-quarters of a mile long. '[ Another matter that should not be over-1 looked is that, when the rates for telephone rentals and calls were increased in 1920, country residents were exempted, from the increase. As to the charges for country subscribers', services, the following particulars are furnished for honorable member's information: - (Regulation 5.) For each effective call originating from a subscriber's instrument the charge shall be - {: type="a" start="a"} 0. In respect of exchanges or networks with 1 to 000 subscribers' lines connected, One penny; and (b)In . respect of exchanges or networks with 601 or more subscribers' lines connected, One penny farthing. ( Regulation 7.) When the radial length of any line exceeds 2 miles the following extra mileage charges . shall be made: - For each quarter mile or portion thereof - Exclusive services, 10s. per annum; Twoparty services, 5s. per annum per subscriber or instrument. Three or moreparty services, 2s. 6d. per annum per subscriber or instrument. With, a view to increasing the usefulness 'of the telephone to residents in country districts, the Department has decided to effect a substantial improvement in the conditions governing the hours during which telephone exchanges are open for business. It has been recognised. that the limited hours of attendance, at present providedat many country telephone' exchanges do not adequately meet the requirements of the man on the land,, who in most cases is absent from his home during thegreater part of the day, and does not return until after 6 *pirn.',* when the telephone exchange is closed. . The existing regulations governing the question of hours of attendance provide that continuous service shall be granted where the revenue is at the rate of £250 per annum or over. In cases where the revenue is less than £250 per annum, a day service only is provided. Where subscribers connected to the day service exchange desire' extended or continuous service facilities, they are required to pay the extra cost involved. In calculating the revenue referred to in the preceding paragraph, rentals from subscribers' lines and apparatus, and charges for local calls *(i.e.,* calls between subscribers connected to the exchange) are included, but the revenue from trunk line calls is not taken into consideration. It has now been decided to make the closing hour 8 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. at telephone exchanges where the annual revenue from all sources, including trunk line calls, is at the rate of £150 or over. The result of this concession will mean that approximately 371 telephone exchanges will be provided with extended service up to 8 p.m. free of cost to those concerned. This figure includes exchanges where the subscribers are at pre sent paying the cost of providing extended hours of attendance. It has also been decided to liberalize the conditions governing the provision of continuous service at telephone exchanges by taking into consideration a proportion of the revenue derived from trunk line calls. The new conditions provide that continuous service is to be given at a telephone exchange where the revenue from rental and local calls, plus 20 per cent, of the revenue from trunk line calls, is at the rate of £250 per annum or over. The immediate result of the alteration in conditions will mean that thirty-six additional exchanges will receive continuous service free of cost to the subscribers. This figure includes exchanges where continuous service is at present provided at the cost of the subscribers concerned. The adoption of the new basis in connexion with the determination of the hours of attendance at telephone exchanges will not only immediately benefit a large number of exchanges, but will also result in telephone exchanges generally obtaining extended or continuous hours of attendance much sooner than they would have obtained these facilities under the old conditions. In deciding to improve the conditions regarding the hours of attendance at telephone exchanges, the fact has not been overlooked that by extending the closing hour from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at many country telephone exchangeswhich are established at allowance and receiving post-offices, it will impose on the allowance postmaster or . others involved extra work in connexion with the provision of attendance between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. In order that allowance postmasters will not suffer any hardship in this connexion, arrangements, have been made for payment of additional remuneration to the extent of £20 per an- ' num. to recompense them for the extra attendance provided at the telephone exchange between the hours of 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Formerly the Department would not open a telephone exchange in a country district unless the financial aspect of the proposal showed a surplus.Now the practice observed is to freely establish telephone, exchanges in. country districts wherever' it. is practicable' to do so without asking the subscribers connecting thereto to make any contribution towards the cost of the exchange. All that is necessary to secure the establishment of an exchange under existing conditions is for the prospective subscribers, two or more, to agree to pay the rental for the telephone exchange service. Formerly the reduced* telephone trunk line rates between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. ap- plied only to continuous , service exchanges,, and this, meant that subscribers : connecting to smaller country exchanges hod, in many cases, to pay the extra fee for opening the office after 6 o'clock, and, in addition, were compelled to pay full rates for trunk line calls up to 8 p.m. It has now been decided that reduced rates for telephone trunk line calls are to operate between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. at all telephone exchanges throughout the Commonwealth. With a view to placing prominently before people living in. country districts the liberal terms and conditions under which the Department is now prepared to provide telegraphic and telephonic facilities, a booklet is being prepared which it is.' proposed to widely distribute. This booklet - in addition to explaining the . conditions' under which the Department is prepared to provide public telephone and telegraph lines, as well as subscribers' lines and telephone exchanges - will contain detailed information showing how subscribers may erect their own lines and install instruments. The information is being prepared in simple and concise terms, so that the man on. the land will readily follow the instructions issued for his guidance. Details are also being included showing what are the most prevalent faults that occur- to lines and telephone instruments erected by subscribers, together with information indicating how these faults may be removed and also prevented. {: #subdebate-20-0-s29 .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING:
Robertson .- Around Brisbane Water, in my electorate, one of the most beautiful districts in Australia, settlement, is going ahead at a, very rapid rate, and the- number of visiting tourists! is< steadily increasing. Application has been made for telephonic facilities, and additional postal facilities, in various places, but, unfortunately, the permanent population in some cases is not. sufficient to justify the Postal Department in granting the request. The real difficulty is how properly to assess the growth of such places and meet with the requirements of the Postal Department. Brisbane- Water is- one of those spots in which the number of people likely to be served by postal and telephonic facilities is hard to gauge owing to the-, intermittency of tourist traffic, but it. is that very intermittency that is often responsible for mating the work of a post-office more onerous and more important than, it would be likely to be in another place with the same number, of permanent residents. {: .speaker-KYD} ##### Mr Poynton: -- -The honorable member can leave that matter to me. Proposed vote agreed to. Department of Health-. Proposed vote, £125,210. {: #subdebate-20-0-s30 .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON:
Hunter .- I have received the following telegram from a number of tubercular patients at Woolloongabba, Queensland: - ». All tubercular patients here .earnestly beseech you to bring immediately before the Mouse our emphatic protest against terrible bungling of Federal authorities in their negotiations with Professor Spahlinger re his remarkable cure in the name of humanity. Please use your best endeavours to ascertain if renewal of negotiations is possible. Please reply. {: type="A" start="S"} 0. Suggerman Diamantina' Hospital, Brisbane. I submit this communication for the consideration of, the- Minister. {: #subdebate-20-0-s31 .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
Ministe for Defence and Health · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- We are still negotiating with **Dr. Spahlinger,** but the terms . iia has submitted are entirely unsatisfactory from our point of *view.* He 'has asked us to pay faim a large sum of money for the Australian right* .of his remedy, but has failed to supply us with a sufficient quantity of his serum to test it out. We feel that until he forwards-, a sufficient quantity to enable us tei,' give it a reasonable test, we are not justified in paying to him the very large sum of money he asks. However, we are endeavouring to get a quantity of the serum, and as soon as it is available it will be exhaustively tested. If the results promise to be satisfactory we shall conclude the deal. {: #subdebate-20-0-s32 .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 .- The Government will be well advised to proceed with caution and circumspection in this matter. The experience of the medical profession is that these very much boomed concoctions, although they are protected by patents, are usually not as good as they are represented to be. It is a fact that the men who have done the real pioneering work of the world in medical research have usually made their discoveries available for free disposal to the whole scientific world for the alleviation of disease. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- That is what the Department have felt in this regard. Proposed vote agreed to. War Services Payable out of Revenue. Proposed vote, £2,355,413. agreed to. Motion (by **Mr. Bruce)** agreed to - >That the following resolution be reported to the House: - "That including the several sums already voted for such services, there be granted to His Majesty to defray the charges for the year 1922-23, for the several services hereunder specified, a sum not exceeding £20,884,378. Resolution reported. Standing Orders suspended. Resolution adopted. Resolution of Ways and Means covering resolution of Supply reported and adopted. *Ordered -* >That **Mr. Bruce** and **Mr. Greene** do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution. {: .page-start } page 3897 {:#debate-21} ### APPROPRIATION BILL 1922-23 Bill presented by **Mr. Bruce** and passed through all its stages without amendment or debate. *Sitting suspended from 6.33 to 8 p.m. (Friday).* {: .page-start } page 3897 {:#debate-22} ### PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE {:#subdebate-22-0} #### Price of Sugar **Mr. FENTON",** in behalf of the Chairman, presented the report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts upon Sugar, together with minutes of evidence relating thereto. Ordered to be printed. {: .page-start } page 3897 {:#debate-23} ### PAPERS The following papers were presented: - >HighCourt Procedure Act - Rules of Court - Rules *re* Sittings- Dated 22nd September, 1922 (2). > >New Guinea Act - Ordinances of 1922 - > >No. 29- Native Labour (No. 2). > >No. 30- Mining (No. 2). > >Public Service Act - Department of Trade and Customs - > >Appointment of A. E. Battle. > >Appointment of A. E. E. Sheehan. > >Spirits Act - Regulations Amended - Statu tory Rules 1923, No. 132. > >War Service Homes Act - Land Acquired under, in New South- Wales, at Mayfield. {: .page-start } page 3897 {:#debate-24} ### INCOME TAX ASSESSMENT BILL Bill returned from the Senate with amendments. {: .page-start } page 3897 {:#debate-25} ### IMMIGRATION LOAN BILL Bill returned from the Senate without amendment. {: .page-start } page 3897 {:#debate-26} ### ESTATE DUTY ASSESSMENT BILL Bill returned from the Senate with amendments. {: .page-start } page 3897 {:#debate-27} ### CUSTOMS TARIFF (SUGAR) BILL Bill returned from the Senate without request. {: .page-start } page 3897 {:#debate-28} ### SUPERANNUATION BILL *In Committee* (Consideration of Senate's amendments) : Clause 5 - >There sholl be' a Superannuation Fund > >The income of the fund shall not be subject to taxation by the Commonwealth or a State, and all contributions thereto shall be allowed as deductions in Commonwealth and State assessments of income for taxation purposes. > > *Senate's Amendment.* - Leave out the words " and all contributions thereto shall be allowed as deductions in Commonwealth and State assessments of income for taxation purposes." {: #debate-28-s0 .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr GROOM:
AttorneyGeneral · Darling Downs · NAT , - I move - >That the amendment be agreed to. When the Bill left this Chamber the Income Tax Assessment Bill allowed a deduction up to £50 in respect of payments by public servants into the Superannuation Fund. That deduction has since been increased to £100, and it is thought that the people who contribute to the superannuation scheme and get the benefit of the Government endowment towards it, should not be placed in a better position than are other citizens. The amendment will place the public servant in the same position as other persons outside the Public Service. {: #debate-28-s1 .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON:
Hunter .- I am not quite certain as to the effect of the amendment. It is not fair that persons receiving a small salary, say, £208 per annum, should have to pay taxation upon the amount that they contribute to the Superannuation Fund. {: .speaker-KJM} ##### Mr Jackson: -- Those persons will escape under the £200 general exemption in the Income Tax Assessment Bill. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- The interpretation I place upon the amendment is that all contributions to the Superannuation Fund by public servants shall be liable to income tax. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- No. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr Bruce: -- The deduction of £50 allowable under the Income Tax Assessment Bill in respect of payments to the Superannuation Fund has been increased to £100,- and any contribution up to £100 will therefore be exempt from taxation. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Mr Groom: -- Suppose a man with an income of £300 pays £100 into the Superannuation Fund. That, payment will be deductible from his income, leaving him with a taxable income of £200, which is the amount of the general exemption. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- I am satisfied. Amendment agreed to. Remaining amendments agreed to. Resolution reported; report adopted. {: .page-start } page 3898 {:#debate-29} ### SOUTH AUSTRALIAN FARMERS AGREEMENT BILL {:#subdebate-29-0} #### Second Reading {: #subdebate-29-0-s0 .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
Minister for Defence · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 [8.15j.--I move- That this Bill be now read a second time. It will be remembered that for the purpose of facilitating the construction and erection of wheat silos in the various States, the Commo.nwealth Government agreed to. make advances, from time to time, up to a sum not exceeding £2,850,000. Under that arrangement, the sum of £1,000,000 has already been advanced to the Government of New South Wales, an.d honorable members know what, has been, done in that State, in the erection of wheat- silos. No other State had at that time taken advantage, of the arrangement made for the bulk handling of grain. Subsequently, it. will. be. rsr membered, ano.tber agreement was made with, the farmers' organizations in Western; Australia for the., establishment of bulk handling -in that. State. However, that agreement; biioke down, and no moneyi was. advanced by the. Federal Government. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr Prowse: -- It may be resuscitated on . similar lines. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I hope it will. At all events, this Parliament ratified an agreement for such an advance to . Western Australia, and the agreement in the schedule of the Bill before us is a somewhat similar one. It is an agreement entered into between the Farmers Bulk Grain Co-operative 'Company! iLimited, Adelaide, and the -Commonwealth' of Australia for - erecting silos 'in South Aus<trali'a> 'and the Bill is to ratify it. If this. Bill 'be accepted, the Government will 'be authorized, suibjecj to -the terms of the agreement, to make the necessary advance. The erection by the company of silos and elevators, is estimated to cost £1,500,000, of which a sum not exceeding £1,000,000 will be advanced by the Commonwealth by way of loan-, when not less than 200,000 shares, paid up to 10s. per share, have been allotted to shareholdersapproved by the Commonwealth, and when not less than £100,000 has been provided and expended by the company in the erection of the silos and elevators. I wish to make it quite, clear that under this agreement the Government has to be satisfied that the necessary number of shares has been taken up bybona *fide* shareholders, and that £100;000 has been actually spent in the erection of the buildings by the company. {: .speaker-KFF} ##### Mr Foley: -- Will the money be paidon an architect's certificate? {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Presumably, the Government will do what it did in the case of New South Wales. We had our own engineer, who was responsible for- the money spent under the agreement- with New South Wales, and, though it may- not be the same officer, I have no doubt that. 8some officer will supervise the expenditure. Paragraph 17 of the agreement, contains the following And this agreement further w.Hnesset.h. that, in consideration, of- the- promise herein contained on -the part of the . 0pmin.oirwe.alth tomake advances to the company as. aforesaid the Minister, hereby undertakes and agreeswith the Commonwealth. {: type="a" start="a"} 0. that the Minister will make good' any default on the part of thi company in the payment of ' any instalment or instalments or any interest the payment of which, is hereinbefore provided for upon the due date or dates for the payment thereof respectively. Provided' that at least thirty, day§' notice of the default shall have- been given by the C.ommqnwealth. tq, the Ministerby writing delivered to the Minister or posted by prepaid post addressed: to the Minister at Adelaide afore said-; and 1. that the liability- qf the Ministerunder this agreement to make good' any such default shall not be 'impaired or discharged by reason of any time qf, . o then : * indulgencegranted by the Commonwealth tothe company. Provided that theCommonwealth shall, by 'writing-, delivered or posted as last aforesaid, have given . the . Minister ; nfltjee ofthe granting of . such time o?;.. other indulgence within -thirty "days' after * the granting. There is only one other fact I desire to bring under the notice of the House, and that is, I have here the certificate of the Solicitor-General that he has perused this agreement. It is as follows : - >I have perused the agreement, and, subject to the remarks hereunder, I think it is in order for signature by the Prime Minister - > >I assume that the Commonwealth has approved the alterations to the Memorandum and Articles of Association mentioned on page It > >The agreement does not expressly provide that the Commonwealth payments are to . be "spread over five years";but from the terms of the agreement with the State, and the proposed mode of construction in five sections, there seems no doubt that they will be spread over at least that time. > >As regards the guarantee by the State I would call the attention to the proviso that if any time or indulgence is granted by the Commonwealth to the company the Commonwealth shall notify the State within thirty days. I do not think this is unreasonable; but care will be necessary in the carrying out of the agreement that any such indulgence should be promptly notified, otherwise the legal claim to a guarantee may be affected. (Signed)R.R. Gabban, Secretary. 9th October, 1922. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr Brennan: -- Why did the agreement with Western ' Australia fall to the ground ? {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I am not fully acquainted with the exact particulars, but the honorable member for Swan **(Mr. Prowse)** will put me right if I am wrong. I understand there was some difficulty in raising the necessary capital. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr Prowse: -- That is not so. We were ready, and money was available, but, though the necessary legislation passed the Assembly of the State Parliament, it was blocked and held up indefinitely in the Legislative Council. I think, however, that that difficulty may be. got over. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I knew that there was some difficulty in Western Australia. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr Brennan: -- Is the agreement before us the same as that made in Western Australia? {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- It is not; the agreement before us is directly guaranteed' by the Government of South Australia. From that point of view, I think it is more satisfactory, {: #subdebate-29-0-s1 .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON:
Hunter .- I agree with the concluding remark of the Minister **(Mr. Greene)** that this is a more satisfactory agreement than the one made with Western Australia. The present agreement carries with it the guarantee of the State Government of South Australia ; and that ought to be sufficient for us. I think we are all agreed as to the necessity for, erecting these silos in order to protect the wheat, and to assist the farmer in other ways. {: .speaker-KHG} ##### Mr Hill: -- They are a very doubtful proposition ! {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- After the experience of New South Wales we have to be very careful in these matters. I should have been loath to allow this Bill to pass without more severe criticism but for the fact that the State Government of South Australia is made responsible for the money advanced. If there had not been this provision I should not have permitted the measure to go through without a protest. The sum of £1,500,000 is very large, but it is very properly provided that the co-operative company shall spend £200,000 of its own. It is now for the South Australian more than the Commonwealth Government to see that some reliable and competent person is placed in charge of the work, in view of the experience in New South Wales. The cost 'of "the silos in New South Wales has proved exceedingly high, and, moreover, the work was bungled, while it is said that there are certain people who have made much money out of the transaction. I believe it is in the, interests of the country that farmers should be assisted in the handling of their wheat. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWilliams: -- If the farmers put up £100,000, and the South Australian Government back the bill for the balance, surely that is safe enough. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- I have always been, a supporter of the principle of cooperation. {: .speaker-KHG} ##### Mr Hill: -- There is nothing to show that it is a co-operative company. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- I am guided only by what is stated in the Bill. {: .speaker-KHG} ##### Mr Hill: -- It may be limited to a small number. {: .speaker-KFP} ##### Mr Richard Foster: -- It is a cooperative company. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- I am anxious to encourage co-operation, but at the same time I wish to safeguard the finances of the Commonwealth. The fact that the South Australian Government are standing as guarantors proves that they have confidence in the undertaking. It is provided in the agreement that the person nominated by the Commonwealth shall Bee that not less than £100,000 is expended by the company. He has also to certify that the erection of the silos has been satisfactorily carried out, and to ascertain that all the conditions have been complied with. There is a responsibility resting upon the Government in connexion with the appointment of their nominee, and I trust that in making a selection a thoroughly competent and reliable man will be chosen. It is not altogether a question of construction costs of material, but one of securing the services of a thoroughly reliable officer. Although the South Australian Government guarantees to repay to the Commonwealth the money, it is our duty to see that a reliable supervisor is engaged, so that the money shall be economically expended. The New South Wales scheme has cost considerably more than was anticipated. I offer no objection to' the Bill, because I believe that if the scheme is properly controlled we will be assisting in the right direction. {: #subdebate-29-0-s2 .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE:
Swan .- I support the Bill. There seems to bo no valid reason why we should not authorize the payment of this amount; but I cannot see that there is any greater risk in granting a loan to the Western Australian company than to the South Australian Government, because, as honorable members will recall, one- third of the capital in the Western Australian company had to be subscribed by the farmers themselves', and £150,000 had to be expended before the Government were involved. The only difference I can see is that in one instance Government control has been eliminated as far as possible, and to that extent the Western Australian scheme is preferable. The risks to which the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Charlton)** referred will be carefully guarded against, because, if the undertaking is owned by the farmers, the work will be done in the most economical manner. In connexion with the Western Australian agreement there was ample security for the money. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr Mcwilliams: -- There is Government supervision. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE: -- When the Government are guarantors there is an element of control which is not present in connexion with the Western Australian scheme, and to that extent the South Australian arrangement is the better. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir Robert Best: -- That is why I supported it. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE: -- And that is why you favour selling the Geelong Woollen Mill. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir Robert Best: -- Dees the honorable member support its retention by the Government ? {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE: -- That is not the question. This money will be wisely expended, and I would like to see more money spent in Australia for developmental purposes, so that we may be placed on more nearly equal terms with our competitors in other countries. {: #subdebate-29-0-s3 .speaker-K1J} ##### Mr PRATTEN:
Parramatta -- I support the Bill. When the Western Australian Farmers Agreement Bill was before another place a year or two ago, I expressed considerable doubt as to whether the whole scheme was not "premature. I thought that for a State such as Western Australia, which is producing only 10,000,000 or 11,000,000 bushels of wheat per annum- {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr Prowse: -- It is 18,000,000 bushels now. {: .speaker-K1J} ##### Mr PRATTEN: -- In a rather widely scattered area. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr Prowse: -- The wheat section is confined to one area. {: .speaker-K1J} ##### Mr PRATTEN: -- Considering the annual production of the State and the widely scattered nature of the wheat country, I thought that the expenditure contemplated was premature from a business point of view. I could not see at the time that those enthusiastic advocates of the scheme, such as the honorable member for Swan **(Mr. Prowse),** wouldderive any advantage from the expenditure of the money. I further objected to the proposal because the Commonwealth had no guarantee for the money it advanced, and in the event of the scheme being a failure, or not paying, as I thought would be the result at the time, the Commonwealth might have had to whistle for the money. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr Prowse: -- Nonsense. {: .speaker-K1J} ##### Mr PRATTEN: -- The honorable member for Swan says it is nonsense; but I believe he was the father of the scheme then put before this Parliament.This House hasaccepted it, and he now acknowledges its. failure so far. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr Prowse: -- That is not so. {: .speaker-K1J} ##### Mr PRATTEN: -- The circumstances in connexion with the pious aspiration that the farmers of Western Australia had in connexion with the bulk handling of wheat arc somewhat different in South Australia, where there is a total annual wheat yield of from 30,000,000 to 35,000,000 bushels, and where the wheat-growing areas arc not so widely scattered as they are in W estern Australia. The scheme under considerationis likely to be more successful from a business point of view, because with a bigger crop the bulk handling is likely to be more successful. There is the additional advantage of the State's guarantee, so the Commonwealth interests are more fully safeguarded than was the case in connexion with the proposal considered by Parliament a year or two ago. I trust that the South Australian Government will profit by the experience of New South Wales. It is true, as stated by the Leader of the Opposition, that a good deal of money was wasted in New South Wales in connexion with the erection of silos, or if the money was not actually wasted, I do not think full value was obtained for the expenditure incurred. The Commonwealth is safeguarded, and if the South Australian Government are satisfied to stand as guarantors for the repayment of the money, and the farmers themselves put up a fair proportion of the capital before a start is made, the proposal is one that should -be accepted. {: .speaker-KFP} ##### Mr Richard Foster: -- I understand that they have already contributed £100,000. {: .speaker-K1J} ##### Mr PRATTEN: -- If that is so, it is another reason why this Bill should have an unopposed passage. {: #subdebate-29-0-s4 .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN:
Batman .- I think it would be unkind of me to allow this little socialistic venture on the part of the Government to pass without a small meed of praise. It was most unkind of the honorable member for Swan **(Mr.. Prowse),** when he saw socialistic tendencies developing in the breast of the honorable member for Kooyong **(Sir Robert Best),** to make an interjection which was calculated to check his newborn enthusiasm. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir Robert Best: -- I was against the Western Australian scheme. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- The honorable member was against it from the point of view of the financier; but not on the grounds that it would fail. On the principle of Socialism he was satisfied. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir Robert Best: -- I was not. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- In matters of detail the honorable member was not entirely satisfied. I am very glad to know that this benevolent Commonwealth is proposing on these socialistic lines to supportthis co-operative company in South Australia. I congratulated the Government on this upon a former occasion, and even at this late hour in the session, when I would be loath indeed to delay honorable members, I think I should, in these special circumstances, repeat my congratulation. The Government now having made up their minds to enter into this socialistic scheme in competition with private enterprise, and to use public funds for the purpose of supporting private companies, I suggest that they should not dangerously dally half-way on the way to success. Instead of making these compromising alliances with private companies they should undertake these public enterprises and go the whole way, with a full measure of courage, along the road which they have marked out for themselves. Apparently, the truth is that the company with sufficient "pull" - the word is used without offence - and in a position to offer enough security, can get loans on good terms' from the Commonwealth. On a former occasion, when Western Australian farmers were being bounteously afforded financial assistance, I expressed the hope that the money thus invested would be productive of good results. But I am sorry to learn from the honorable member for Swan **(Mr. Prowse)** that the agreement into which we entered with his western farmer friends has not come to anything, and that the prophecies which some of us fearfully uttered have been so soon fulfilled. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr Prowse: -- But that is not so. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- I have only the assurance of the honorable member; and, as to that, I am bound to admit that, hitherto, I have had no reason to doubt him. I would make only one request. I do not oppose the Bill, but I hope the Government will not be too discriminating in their loans of public funds for private purposes. I trust that the public money will not be loaned out exclusively to the particular friends of the Government or merely for the purposes of placating country interests. I suggested on the previous occasion to which I have referred that I might come along with a proposal for financial assistance to some of the boot factories at Fitzroy or Clifton Hill; and that, if I could find substantial security, I would expect the Government to support the little enterprises in my constituency as readily as they do these big farming industries in Western Australia and South' Australia. I give the project my benediction. I see in such * schemes as these the bursting buds on the great socialistic tree which is growing from their planting. And what of the honorable member for Kooyong **(Sir Robert Best)** ? He, too, gives this proposition his blessing. He is, then, my latest socialistic comrade. For the future, I shall call him, "Comrade Best, of Kooyong." Likewise, I am in the same camp as the honorable member for Swan, who supports this measure, although I cannot really understand why he should do so. He opposes Government interference in private enterprises; at any rate, generally. It is a pity that, on great matter,. of principle, such as, for example, the Tariff - in regard to which the honorable member opposed the imposition of all rates of duties, except upon onions and lucerne1 - he should depart from truth and light to serve expediency and his own voters. But, so that I may not conceivably jeopardize this socialistic proposal, I shall further delay its passage only to emphasize the fact that I intend to vote for the second reading of the Bill, while joining with my new-found socialistic friends in wishing it every success. {: #subdebate-29-0-s5 .speaker-KZA} ##### Mr WEST:
East Sydney .- I congratulate the Government upon undertaking this latest means for socializing industry, although I must admit that I strenuously opposed a Western Australian project of a similar character. I recall that, in the Senate, the honorable member for Parramatta **(Mr. Pratten)** took the same view as I did. My objection to the Western Australian measure was that it contained insufficient security. There was not even the suggestion of a mortgage being taken out. on the ground on which the silos were to be erected. The Commonwealth was not even protected with respect to its advance through the State holding a lien over the ground or the structures. In my view, the first' thing to do with loan propositions of this nature is to secure a mortgage over the ground- on which the silos are to be built. I understand that this South Australian proposal is of a co-operative character. If that is so, it must be a different form of co-operative venture from the kind to which I am accustomed. I do not know much about the finances of the people of South Australia, but I have been informed that there are a few members of one family who own or have an interest in practically all the wheat grown in that State. I see nothing in the Bill to prevent a few wealthy people from holding practically all the shares in this co-operative concern, and utilizing the Commonwealth advance to their own personal advantage. I do not want to give well-to-do South Australian wheat people any cheap Commonwealth money. More millionaires have been created out ofwheat in South Australia than in any pf the other States. I object to the Bill, because it provides for supervision over the expenditure of the Commonwealth's money only up to the stage of the erection of the silos. No provision is made even for the presentation of an annual balancesheet to the Commonwealth Government and the Auditor-General. I do not know of any private lending concern which would be content to advance a large sum on the flimsy form of agreement which appears' to be embodied in the" Bill. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- This is a signed agreement ; we cannot vary it without the consent of the parties. {: .speaker-KZA} ##### Mr WEST: -- The Minister will agree with me that there should be adequate supervision over the employment of our money. The sole satisfaction that I can see lies in the fact that the South Australian Government are involved. Perhaps they will undertake to supervise the interests of the Commonwealth. {: #subdebate-29-0-s6 .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
Minister for Defence · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The agreement relates to the building of silos. The South Australian Government represent our security. I have not the slightest doubt that they will safeguard our interests, inasmuch as they are responsible to us. The State authorities will certainly take good care to see that everything is in order, and that, so far as the working of the silos is concerned, the accounts of the company are properly supervised. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time, and reported without amendment; report adopted. Bill read a third time. {: .page-start } page 3903 {:#debate-30} ### APPROPRIATION BILL 1922-23 Bill returned from the Senate without request. {: .page-start } page 3903 {:#debate-31} ### CUSTOMS. TARIFF (NEW ZEALAND. PREFERENCE) BILL (No. 2). *In Committee of Ways and Means:* {: #debate-31-s0 .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
Minister for- Trade and Customs · WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 . - I move- {: type="1" start="1"} 0. That notwithstanding anything contained in. the Customs Tariff 1921,-1922 or the Customs Tariff (New- Zealand' Preference) 1922; from and- aftej: a time and date to be fixed by proclamation,; the goods specified in the. schedule,to this reepjutkm., if. produced or manufactured in the Dominion of New Zealand and imported direct from that Dominion shall be, fjree of duty or subject, to duty as ifolloj»fs;TT- (a). good which are; specified, in the schedule, to be free of. duty shall he free of duty; and. {: type="a" start="b"} 0. goods for which rates of duty are specified in the schedule shall, be subject to duty at those rates. 1. ; That, goods to which paragraph *(a.)* of the hv»t preceding clause applies shall be free of duty if they are imported' into Australia after- the time- and- date fixed by- proclamation under/ that clause or- imported into. Australia before, that time and date.- and not: entered for . home consumption until, after thai time and' date. 2. That in -respect of go.ods to. which paragraph, (b) of clause, 1 of this resolution applies, the rates of' duty, imposed' under this resolution shall, be- charged, collected-,. and. -paid to, thei K£n£ for the. puxpojses; pf the Commonwealth on all such goods, imported into Australia after- the time- and date fixed' by- proclamation in. accordance- with, that; clause, or imported iflto Australia, be£ors that, time- and da^tc I aj4, riot. entered, for home consumption until' after that, time and date. 3. ' That nothing in this resolution, ' shall affect' the- right" ofpthe- Commonwealth to- im- pjOBje *oxs* col.lejct' any/ 'duties, chargeable; under the Customs Tariff (Industries. Preservation) Act 1921-1922. The Committee will remember that quite recently we. concluded a. main agreement on a reciprocal basis for an altered trade relationship with the Dominion of New Zealand. We enjoy under the agreement a much more advantageous position than we had, previously. Australia was placed upon, the general Tariff of New Zealand by the passage of New Zealand, legislation in, December last, but previously to that we enjoyed British preferential treatment. These, remained at the conclusion, of the. negotiations, between the Ministers, for Customs, of. the. two, Dominions a. few unsettled, items. For the sakq of ea'sier understanding, I shall referto. them as "bargaining items." These were very few in. number,, and they have been narrowed down to four. It is provided in the schedule of" the resolution that meat preserved in tins or other airtight vessels shall be admitted' to» Australia on a, duty of 2d. per lb. including, the weight of the liquid' contents. Previously,, our- Tariff: was 2d.. British preferential 2d. intermediate, and' 2£d. general The New Zealand duty is 20 per cent.. *ad valorem.* Mr.Charlton. - What is the. differencebetween 20 per cent, *ad valorem* and 2d. per lb.?-. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- It varies,, with thecl.assi of meat, but I. cannot, exactly state, the . difference. The- second] item, in the schedule, is one. in, which thisCommittee is particularly interested. Jt refers to. asbestos sheets;. I madea special effontl to. negotiate; this; matter, and, I am pleased' to say with- success.. I am pleased to. be 'able; to seeord that asi against a 20 per- cent. Tariff previqusly.,. we are?- now- subjectto10 per- cent. The third item deals with dairying machines and implements, namely, curd agitators and curd mixers. They will he admitted free. Tho last item is corn (millet) brooms, the duty on which will be 30 per cent, *ad valorem.* This schedule does not represent, I regret to say, a complete conclusion of the items outstanding between the two Dominions. We have differed on two items. Australia desired that the suspended duties provided in the New Zealand Tariff should be brought into operation against foreign fruit as regards dried fruits, particularly currants ' and raisins. New Zealand said, "We will give you this advantage for your dried fruits if you will give us free entry to Australia for oats." The problem was, I must say, one that baffled me somewhat. I was not prepared to surrender the oatgrowers of this country to a competition that would undoubtedly reduce their market, and make oat-growing, in my judgment, an unprofitable industry. On the other hand, we fail to get the full benefit from what I hoped 'would be a very favorable and profitable market for our dried fruits. I invite the attention of honorable gentlemen to some of their comments on the last occasion .when this subject was before the House. They then said, " Why did you not do better? " The difficulty is that we cannot do better than the best New Zealand will give us. We have exchanged at least half-a-dozen cablegrams with New Zealand, and I ask the Committee to believe that we, at this end, have employed some little resource and strategy in endeavouring to secure that market for our dried fruits. I ask the Committee, and particularly producers of these dried fruits, to accept my assurance that I have done everything possible to secure the New Zealand market for our dried fruits. First the New Zealand Minister asked for free entry for oats. That I was not prepared to concede. The basis was increased to a duty of 9d. per cental. That we could not see our way to accept. Finally, the offer was made at ls. per cental, which we were prepared to accept, if New Zealand would allow us entry to her markets on a similar : basis. That she was not prepared to do. Each country to-day has a duty of ls. 6d. per cental against the other. The New Zealand Tariff duties were altered last September, and prior to that time Australia did receive preferential treatment. The figures for the last ten years, excluding 1912, show that the importation of oats into each country from the other was about equal. In 1912 our importations were abnormal. New Zealand grows a different kind of oats from Australia, but so varied are the climatic influences and soil conditions of Australia that the island of Tasmania grows similar oats to those produced in New Zealand. Thus, if we had reduced the duty as required by New Zealand, we would have certainly cut away much of the market for Tasmanian oats. That. I was not prepared to do. I am sorry that in the absolute final analysis of the bargain between the two Dominions, the two items not agreed upon should be primary products. If I had been prepared to concede the entry of New Zealand oats into Australia by paying a duty of ls. per cental, and had been willing to allow Australian oats to enter New Zealand at ls. 6d. per cental, then we could have had the New Zealand market for Australian currants and raisins. I was not prepared to take that responsibility. On the mainland of Australia there are districts like Gippsland, the Western District, and:> Mount Gambier, where oat-growing is potentially a large industry. I ask the Committee to believe that the Government did all it could in the circumstances to secure the New Zealand market for the dried fruit industry, but in the final analysis we were not able to do it without risking a profitable market for Australian oatgrowers. {: #debate-31-s1 .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING:
Robertson -- This measure ought to be favorably received throughout Australia, inasmuch aa it will make for better relations between Australia and New Zealand. The Minister **(Mr. Rodgers)** has told us that he has been bargaining, to some extent, between fruit and oats, and, as far as I can gather, he seems to have made fruit suffer at the expense of oats. Had he yielded somewhat on oats he could have done better for fruit. It - is a matter which needs careful balancing. I do not state my opinion as against that of the Minister, who has probably studied the question more fully than I, but taken by and large, fruit-growing is a more important industry in 'Australia than oat- growing. Oat-growing is a small part of the grain-growing industry, but fruitgrowing is an important industry' in itself. {: .speaker-JMG} ##### Mr Atkinson: -- But the matter is of importance to those who grow oats. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- It may be important to the trainers of horses for the Melbourne Cup, but it is not as important, to Australia as is the fruit-growing industry. When this question was before the House on a previous occasion I drew the attention of the Minister to the fact that we had in Australia a number of struggling apiarists, that their industry had not thoroughly found itself, but that there was every promise that if properly handled it would be highly successful. In the schedule of the amending Act there are items relating to honey and wax which the apiarists claim prejudicially affect them. The Minister has said that there are more bargaining items to be dealt with; and I ask him, when any more bargaining is being done, to bear in mind the position of our apiarists, and to give them a chance. {: .speaker-KNH} ##### Mr Mathews: -- Willthe duty of 10 per. cent, in respect, of asbestos sheets and roofing slates place our manufactures on a par with British-made asbestos sheets? {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I have not the schedule at hand, but I think that there will still be a preference to- British sheets. {: #debate-31-s2 .speaker-K1J} ##### Mr PRATTEN:
Parramatta . -I was not present when the Minister **(Mr. Rodgers)** made his. explanation, and I desire to make an inquiry as to the item, providing for a duty of 10 per cent, on sheets and roofing slates composed of cement and asbestos. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- It represents the fulfilment of a promise that I gave to the Committee on a previous occasion. {: .speaker-K1J} ##### Mr PRATTEN: -- No doubt it is intended to fulfil the promise given by the Minister some time ago, that the matter should be the subject of further negotiations. This schedule relates only to goods manufactured in the Dominion of New Zealand and imported into this country, It is intended, I presume, that the same rate of duty shall be fixed by New Zealand in Tespect of Australian manufactured asbestos sheets and roofing slates entering the Dominion ; but there is nothing in the motion to that effect. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- We cannot legislate for New Zealand. We are simply carrying out our part of the agreement. {: .speaker-KNH} ##### Mr Mathews: -- Are we to understand that a duty of 10 per cent, will also be imposed by New Zealand on asbestos sheets and roof slates entering that country from the Commonwealth? {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Yes. The New Zealand Government have undertaken, as soon as this Bill is passed, to do that by Order in Council. Question resolved in the affirmative. Resolution reported. Standing Orders suspended, and resolution adopted. *Ordered -* >That **Mr. Rodgers** and **Mr. Greene** do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution. Bill presented by **Mr. Rodgers,** and passed through all its stages without amendment or debate. {: .page-start } page 3905 {:#debate-32} ### SHALE OIL BOUNTY BILL Message, recommending appropriation, reported. *Ordered -,* That the Messagebe considered in Committee forthwith. *In Committee* (Consideration of GovernorGeneral's message) : Motion (by **Mr. Rodgers)'** agreed to - >That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to amend the Shale Oil Bounty Act 1917-1921.-. Resolution reported. Standing Orders suspended. Resolution adopted. *Ordered -* >That **Mr. Rodgers** and **Mr. Greene** do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution. Bill presented by **Mr. Rodgers,** and read a first time. {:#subdebate-32-0} #### Second Reading {: #subdebate-32-0-s0 .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
Minister for Trade and Customs · WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I move - >That this Bill be now read a second time. The Shale Oil Bounty Bill, which we passed in 1917, provided for the payment of a bounty on crude shale oil. The expenditure under that measure was limited to £270,000, and the bounty was payable over a period of four years. That term, by an amending Bill, was increased to five years. Under this- Bill, it . is proposed to increase the bounty from 21/4d. to 31/2d. per gallon, and to continue its. . payment for a further period of one year. The Tariff Board has made careful inquiry into the whole of the conditions of the industry. It has inspected the works and has examined the hooks, records, and producing costs of the Shale Oil Company, and is satisfied that it is carrying on at a loss. The Board considers that even with the payment of the increased bounty the company will still be carrying on at a loss. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr Fleming: -- Is there only one company concerned? {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Yes. Mr.Charlton. - What, is the estimated cost of the increased bounty to the Commonwealth? {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The increase,, if the maximum output is- reached, will amount roughly to £7,000 a year. It is provided that the total payment by way of bounty in respect of any one year shall not exceed £67,000. It has been the practice to require that applications for the payment of the bounty shallbe accompanied by certificates showing that the whole, of the conditions for which the- principal Act provides, including the observance of the wages and labour conditions laid down by industrial Courts, have been complied with. So far as I am able tolearn,, there have been no industrial " blow-ups " in this industry. The company has honorably and faithfully observed the terms of the Act. This is intended to be a reserve industry. The company - one of the Fell family - is the pioneer of the shale oil industry of Australia. I thinkit is generally known that a very large amount of money has been expended in the effort to secure for Australia a reserve supply of shale oil. It may be- contended that the obligation of the. Commonwealth to expend money in this direction has been lessened as a result of the contract recently entered into with the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, but it was arranged when that agreementwas entered into that this industry should: not be allowed to suffer. The company having pioneered the industry, expended a lot of capital on it and complied withthe terms of the Act, an undertaking- was- given by the Prime Minister- that the- industry would not be extinguished, and' after a most careful examination' by the' Tariff Board into the company's application for a larger bounty the Board satisfied itself that the company was operating, at a loss. {: .speaker-K1J} ##### Mr Pratten: -- What will be the total amount ? {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- About £67,000 will be involved if the company produces the maximum amount of oil. {: .speaker-K1J} ##### Mr Pratten: -- How much has the company drawn during the last five years? {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- From 1917 till 1922 the company has been paid £113,900 on 12,149,333: gallons of crude oil. It employs about 420 men. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr Fleming: -- Where was the oil produced? {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr Charlton: -- At Newnes. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- If the Committee desires it, I can read the report ofthe Tariff Board; but as it is exceedingly lengthy. discursive and interesting, I did not want to do so at this stage, when honorable members have already been sitting for two days without interruption. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time, andpassed. through its remaining stages without amendment or debate. {: .page-start } page 3906 {:#debate-33} ### WAR PRECAUTIONS ACT REPEAL BILL Motion (by **Mr. Bruce),** by leave proposed - >That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to- amend section 7 of the' War Precautions Act Repeal Act 1920-1921. {: #debate-33-s0 .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON:
Hunter ,. - - I want' to know what the Government intend to do. I have already permitted a couple of Bills to go through unopposed in addition to those which I had agreed not to- oppose; but' this is fresh legislation, of which the House has not received notice. If the Government intend to proceed, in this- way, bringing forward other measures: which they consider urgent,, without notifying the House, we shall be here next week. {: #debate-33-s1 .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr BRUCE:
Treasurer · Flinders · NAT -- I was under, the impression that this Bill- had been submitted to the honorable member. The Commonwealth. Treasury at present exercises control over foreignercompanies such as, the Meat Trust, the . . Steel Trust,; and foreign, insurance companies, which are obliged to deposit a sum of money as a guarantee to the people of Australia who insure with them. The Bill simply extends the existing control of the Commonwealth over these, companies for a further period of one year. **Mr. Charlton.** - In those circumstances, I have no objection to it. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill presented by **Mr. Bruce,** and, *by leave,* passed throughall stages without amendment or debate. {: .page-start } page 3907 {:#debate-34} ### INCOME TAX ASSESSMENT BILL *In Committee* (Consideration of Senate's amendments) : Clause 13 - >Any year in which the taxpayer was not carrying on business and was not in receipt of a taxable income shall not be counted as an average year, but any year in which the deductions allowable in his assessment to a taxpayer engaged in business left, no taxable income, shall be capable of being a first average year, and, if an average year, shall be taken into account in ascertaining the rate and the excess of allowable deductions over assessable income shall be taken into account in calculating the average. > > *Senate's Requests-* Leave out " an"" before " average year " first occurring, and- insert " a first." > >Leave out all the words after " average year " "first occurring. > >After sub-clause (6) insert the following new sub-clauses, viz. : - " (6a) Any year in which the taxpayer was carrying on business but had no taxable income shall be capable , of being a first average year. (6b) In the case of a taxpayer who is carrying on business, the excess of allowable deductions over assessable income in any year which is an average year shall be taken into account in calculating the average." {: #debate-34-s0 .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr BRUCE:
Treasurer · Flinders · NAT -- The only thing of a controversial character in the schedule of amendments which the Senate has requested usto make in this Bill is the provision for the alternative method of assessment of income tax by primary producers either by bringing stock into account at the end of the period or by assessing on a cash basis. The Senate has struck out the amendment inserted in this Chamber. {: .speaker-KHG} ##### Mr Hill: -- That amendment is vital to the primary producers. {: .speaker-K1J} ##### Mr Pratten: -- I. trust that the Minister will explain each amendment to the Committee. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr BRUCE: -- I have no objection to doing so. The first amendment is merely to give effect to what was the intention of the Bill. Doubt was expressed by the legal minds in another place as to whether the averaging clause as it left this Chamber expressed what we intended. It was thought . that the clause suggested that when income fell below a taxable amount during the period there was no taxable income, and, therefore, the years when this occurred would be excluded from the assessment.. As that was not the intention, the wording has been altered in order to make the position perfectly clear, namely, that these years must be brought into account to' arrive at the . average assessment. The next two amendments are consequential. I move - That the amendments be agreed to. Motion agreed to. Clause 16 - {: type="a" start="c"} 0. It shall be optional whether natural increase be taken into account at fixed value or when realized upon. *Senate'sRequest.* - Leave out. {: #debate-34-s1 .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr BRUCE:
Treasurer · Flinders · NAT -- I move - That the amendment be agreed to. This is the controversial amendment to which I have already referred, dealing with the alternative method of assessing the value of stock. The Government resisted this amendment, which was submitted by the honorable member for Robertson **(Mr. Fleming),** and maintain the same attitude now; that is to say, we accord with the Senate's request that the paragraph be struck out. {: #debate-34-s2 .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON:
Hunter .- I do not approve of this way of doing business. We had an example of it at the end of last session. This Committee decided to incorporate a certain provision in a Bill, and the Senate reversed our decision, . as they have done on this occasion. Honorable members will recollect that on the vote upon this paragraph the Government were defeated. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr Bruce: -- We were defeated on paper, but not in fact. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- I have never heard before. of a Government declaring that they were defeated on. paper, but not. in fact. {: .speaker-K6S} ##### Mr Corser: -- That is so. I am so small that the tellers could not see me when the division was being taken. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- It is bad practice at the fag end of a session to come to certain decisions here and allow them to be upset in another Chamber ; because by the time the measures 'affected come back to us this House has thinned out, and the only party assured of having a sufficient number to carry any proposal is the Ministerial party. Government supporters must remain here in sufficient numbers to keep a House. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr Laird Smith: -- Other honorable members ought to remain here, too. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- I »do not agree with the honorable member. If anybody is blamable for the absence of honorable members it is the Government, who have kept their business back, and are now rushing legislation through during prolonged sittings, which sap the strength of honorable members. We cannot be expected to meet here at li o'clock in the morning, sit right through the night, and all through the following day, and again late the second night. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr LAIRD Smith: -- I notice that, the honorable member does it. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- In my position I am- obliged to do it. {: .speaker-K6S} ##### Mr Corser: -- The honorable member will admit that the amendment was declared carried through a mistake. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- I do not admit it. {: .speaker-K6S} ##### Mr Corser: -- *Hansard* will prove that there was a mistake in the telling of the division. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- I abide by the de,cision of the Chair, and the Chair declared that the amendment had been carried. This provision is of vital concern to those connected with the rural industries. {: .speaker-KHG} ##### Mr Hill: -- It mostly affects the small farmer. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- He is the man who is most hardly hit by the present system. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr Bruce: -- He is the man who will be hit if this provision is retained, for he has no facilities for getting his income tax return made up. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- This provision gives him tho choice of two methods; why not leave it at that? {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr Bruce: -- Because, as the honorable member for Maranoa **(Mr. Hunter)** said, to do so would be disastrous to the farmer. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- The honorable member for Gwydir **(Mr. Cunningham),** who is a practical man, moved a similar amendment last session, and he says that it is absolutely necessary that the mau on the land should have an option as to which valuation he will adopt for his stock. {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- Tho only fault with this provision is that it does not go far enough. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- That is a reason for improving' it, not for knocking -it out* {: #debate-34-s3 .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING:
Robertson .- I am glad that the Leader of the Opposition has taken a stand on the constitutional position. What the Government are proposing to do is very serious. They have deliberately held back many measures until the end of the session, and they are now forcing their proposals through a House that is not properly constituted . to deal with them. The provision we are now dealing with was agreed to by the House when there was a comparatively full attendance, of members. To-night very few members are present, and the Government are seeking to take advantage of that fact. They are really misusing the forms of Parliament. The motion to agree with the Senate amendment has a serious meaning for the man upon the land. Every man who has been a breeder of stock, knows that at the present time farmers are paying taxation upon assets upon which they may never realize. No amount of argument will get away from that fact. A man pays taxation on his produce and his stock. He then uses his produce to feed his stock; later the stock die. Already he has paid taxation on both the dead stock and the produce which has been consumed by that stock, and he is not able to get any redress from the Department. The Country party's amendment, made when the Bill was in this House, with which the Senate has disagreed, gave a man the right to decide whether he would enter up the natural increase when it occurred, and pay taxation in respect of it at the lower rate, or wait until it was realized and pay at the higher rate. Those who decide to pay at the higher rate would be sure that they had the money in hand before they were called upon to pay. It cannot be considered just that any man should be required to pay taxation upon income which he ha3 not received. By entering up his natural increase of stock upon the taxation return he probably pays taxation at a higher rate than if he had shown no increase. If later the increase is lost he has lost income to that value upon which he. has paid taxation, not ou a ' flat rate, but on a rate which was higher than that on which he would otherwise have paid. And I repeat that in some cases men are taxed upon the produce that they have fed to the stock. When both stock and produce disappear the farmer experiences the full effect of this injustice. The Government claims to have consideration for the farmer, but an amendment having been carried in this Committee in the face of Ministerial opposition, the Treasurer, acting on the " win, tie, or wrangle" principle, seeks to take advantage of the present state of the Committee, many members having returned to .their homes, to reverse the previous decision. {: .speaker-KTU} ##### Mr Laird Smith: -- Are not the majority of senators cattle-men? {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- I am convinced that a number of the senators, if they will investigate this matter, will see that they have made a mistake. It does not matter whether a man is a breeder of sheep, cattle, horses, or pigs. If he is a small farmer who grows his own produce, he is hit harder than the bigger man who does not grow his produce. The Committee do hot seem to realize that the large breeder of stock very rarely feeds his stock in drought-time.. When he does he always purchases the feed. But the small owner grows and stores a certain amount of fodder, and in drought time makes use of it to save his stock. Men make provision for the average drought. But if the dry season lasts longer than the stock-owner has anticipated, or if he has slightly overstocked, he loses both the stock and the feed' they have eaten. The large owner pays taxation only on the increase that has died, but the small owner pays twice - on the stock and on the feed. This provision is designed .to protect the small man rather than> the large man. It will beneficially affect every grazier throughout, the Commonwealth, but, undoubtedly, it will be of greater benefit to the small owner than tq the large. An honorable member interjects that the small owners are many, and the large owners few ; but it is not only the numerical preponderance of the small growers which makes the tax more burdensome to them - they suffer the further disability of paying on both the increase that has been lost and the feed. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The Treasurer has pointed out that the stock-owner gets an abatement in the following year. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- He does for the average value of the stock, but he has already paid taxation on it, although he can never realize upon it. In no circumstances does a man get a refund of the taxation which he has paid on account of stock which have died. {: .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr Bruce: -- He does not get a rebate, but he gets an abatement 'in the following year. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr FLEMING: -- I hope that honorable members will realize their responsibility to the great primary producing industries by the development of which alone can the Commonwealth pay off its debt, and that honorable members will give the stock-owner an opportunity to please himself as to how and when he shows his young stock upon his taxation return. {: #debate-34-s4 .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr BELL:
Darwin -- I have always favoured a cash basis for taxation purposes ; that is to say, a man should not pay on an asset until he has realized. I agree with the argument of the honorable member for Robertson **(Mr. Fleming)** in regard to the principle at stake, but I do not think he is justified in suggesting that the Government have deceived this Committee, or persuaded the Senate to do what the Treasurer wished to be done, when he introduced the measure. I have talked with a number of senators whose interests are similar to my own, and I have found that their view differed from mine; they were very much opposed to the proposal which was inserted in the Bill at the instance of the honorable member for Robertson. I, however, believe that his proposal is good, and I shall vote for its retention. Question - That the Senate's amendment be agreed to - put. The Committee divided. AYES: 20 NOES: 18 Majority ... ... 2 AYES NOES Question so resolvedinthe affirmative. Senate's amendments in clauses 51, 52, and 53 disagreed to, and a consequential amendment made in clause 44. Remaining amendments agreed to. Resolution reported; report adopted. {: .page-start } page 3910 {:#debate-35} ### AUSTRALIAN SOLDIERS REPATRIATION BILL {:#subdebate-35-0} #### Second Reading {: #subdebate-35-0-s0 .speaker-KZC} ##### Mr HECTOR LAMOND:
Assistant Minister for Repatriation · Illawarra · NAT . -I move- >That this Bill be now read a second time. The Bill provides additional pensions for limbless soldiers. Additional provision for men who have lost a limb, and thus suffered permanent mutilation, has been a subject of discussion between the Returned Soldiers League, the Limbless Soldiers Association, and other todies, and the Minister for Repatriation **(Senator Millen)** for quite a long time. Many proposals of various kinds have been submitted, and as a result of the discussions an agreement has been reached with the organizations, concerned, and a schedule has . been prepared, which is to be- the fifth schedule to the Bill, providing additional pensions for cases of mutilation. This is regarded as a simpler way of dealing with the subject, the existing schedules setting out the pensions to which the proposals now before the House are additions. Honorable members have the Bill before them, and they will see that the schedule itself is really the principal part of it. There are a few amendments necessary in connexion with the working of the measure; butthe really important part is the fifth schedule. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr Charlton: -- I understand from the Honorary Minister- that the soldiers' organizations are satisfied ? {: .speaker-KZC} ##### Mr HECTOR LAMOND: -- Yes, the schedule, as it now stands, has been approved byboth organizations. {: #subdebate-35-0-s1 .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON:
Hunter .- I am pleased that the Government have introduced this Bill, for it represents -the least we can do -to make adequate provision for those who have been permanently incapacitated in war service. I am further pleased to hear that the returned soldiers themselves are satisfied with the schedule. I have heard no objections to the Bill,, but I may say that there has, been brought under my notice the case of a blind soldier whose leg has been amputated above the knee. This man. is most unfortunately situated, seeing that he -is in a hospital, where it costs him £2 per week for board. His father re- p resented the. case to me, and I believe it as also been mentioned in -the Senate. Is it possible, for the Minister to . make special provision for a case like this by granting some additional pension? This man really requires '.special attention, for, unlike many blind people, he is quite unable to do any work. The measure is certainly a step, in the right direction. {: #subdebate-35-0-s2 .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- I cordially support the Bill. Men who have lost limbs in the service of their country deserve the best treatment we can give them. I am gratified to observe that the pensionsprovided are . to be given irrespective of whether or not the recipients are able to do work. It seems to me that, instead of being penalized for earning extra money, these limbless men ought to be encouraged in such efforts. However, thisBill is only a tardy meed of justice to those limbless men who have suffered in the past from the arbitrary way in which their cases have been determined. Many of these men find great difficulty, owing to their injuries, in undertaking any continuous work, and therefore they ought to be specially cared for. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- Arethe pensions provided in the Bill in addition to the existing pensions. {: .speaker-KZC} ##### Mr Hector Lamond: -- Yes. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time, and reported without amendment; report adopted. Bill, *by leave,* read a third time. {: .page-start } page 3911 {:#debate-36} ### SPECIAL ADJOURNMENT {: #debate-36-s0 .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
Minister for Defence · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I move - >That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 3 o'clock p.m. on Monday, 23rd October, 1922. A number of Bills have been passed during the last few days, and some little time is . required for the officers of Parliament to ad just matters in connexion with these measures, and to secure the signature of His Excellency the Governor-General to them. Upon the date mentioned, if everything has "been "cleaned up" satisfactorily, a proclamation for the prorogation of Parliament can be gazetted, when, of course, the life of the Parliament will automatically end. {: .speaker-KNH} ##### Mr Mathews: -- Does the Minister wish me to infer that my salary will stop from that date? {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I would not dream of suggesting anything so unkind. The prorogation does not end the life of the Parliament. It is upon the -dissolution of Parliament thatthe honorable member's salary will cease, and I assure . him that that fateful day shall be postponed' until the last moment. Question resolved in theaffirmative. {: .page-start } page 3911 {:#debate-37} ### ROWAN COLLECTION {: #debate-37-s0 .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
Minister for Defence · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I move- >That this House approves of the purchase, upon such terms as may be arranged, of the late **Mrs. Ellis** Rowan's collection of paintings depicting bird and flower life in Australia, Papua, and New Guinea. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr Fleming: -- Do the -Government propose to insert any limit respecting the price ? {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- That is a question which it is impossible at this moment to decide. The Government could not . announce, at the present stage, what the executors of the estate would be prepared to take for the collection. To that end,, negotiations will have to be renewed. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr Fleming: -- Did not the representatives of the artist want £3,000 and a grant of land in Papua? {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- No, the original demand of **Mrs. Rowan** for the whole collection, was £21,000. The Government considered that that was unnecessarily high. Honorable members will recollect that a committee of artists was asked to value the pictures in the collection. Those artists put upon them a value, as works of art, which I venture to say was very much below their value as an intrinsic record of faithful representations of the fauna and flora of Australia, Papua, and New Guinea. The artist committee valued the collection from a purely artistic view-point, and the value which they placed upon the paintings was so ridiculously low that the Government felt they could not possibly offer such a sum to **Mrs. Rowan** as representing adequate remuneration for that which was equivalent to her life's work. While I acknowledge that, perhaps, the wording of the motion may appear to honorable members to be somewhat irregular - that is to say, that the Government should seek authority to enter into negotiations without any mention of a specific price -I am bound to say that I cannot see how, in the circumstances, the Government could mention an exact sum of money in the resolution. If we were , to submit to the House a given sum- {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr Brennan: -- Or if the Government were toquote a maximum amount? {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Exactly ! If we were to offer less than the maximum, the trustees would say, " The Government cango so much higher. We shall not take one penny less than the maximum." On the other hand, the motion might mention a sum which failed to come up to what the trustees would be. prepared to take by, say, about £500. Thus, our hands would be bound. We would not be able to negotiate on the basis of even a comparatively small advance on the amount authorized by the House. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- What is the purpose of acquiring the collection? Is it to be as a collection of works of art? {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I do nob think one can say that it is a collection of works of .art. The late **Mrs. Rowan's** pictures are a faithful and beautiful representation of the principal flora and - to some extent - the fauna of Australia, Papua, and New Guinea. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- Have any negotiations been conducted at all? {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Not since the death of **Mrs. Rowan.** It was with much sorrow that the Government learned that, while negotiations were pending, and before it was possible to conclude them, in order that Parliament might be given an opportunity to indorse the action of the Government, the artist passed away. Her death was a matter of great regret to all who had had the pleasure of knowing her, and had made some acquaintance with her wonderful work, which has secured, for Australia these exceedingly faithful representations of our bird life and flowers. The Government will endeavour to carry the negotiations through to conclusion; but - if that be possible - it will not acquire them until Parliament has had an opportunity of deciding definitely upon the matter of the actual purchase price. It may be impossible, of course, to afford that opportunity. The trustees may say that they are not prepared to leave the matter in such a position. They may say that they can sell the pictures in America or England for more .than the Commonwealth Government are offering. If the Government find themselves at a stage, where it may be desirable to have authority to close, they wish to possess authority to do so. But if, on the other hand, the trustees will be prepared to wait a little while the course which I have just indicated, namely, of referring the matter definitely to Parliament, may be adopted. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- Where do the Government propose that this collection shall be exhibited? {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Eventually, no doubt, at the home of the Commonwealth Par:liament, in the Federal Capital. {: .speaker-JMG} ##### Mr Atkinson: -- Then there will be no hurry about undertaking the negotiations. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Meanwhile, if we succeed in acquiring them, I believe that the intention is to exhibit the pictures in the Exhibition Building. {: #debate-37-s1 .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON:
Hunter .- I associate myself with the sentiments of the Minister for Defence **(Mr. Greene)** in regard to the death of **Mrs. Ellis** Rowan, who passed away before the negotiations for the purchase of her works had been completed. It is a pity that the purchase was not undertaken earlier. For some months past endeavours have been made to come to .terms in regard to the pictures. I perceive, of course, that if the House agrees to the motion the Government will be given virtually a blank cheque. I feel sure, however, that in this matter they will properly conserve the interests of the Commonwealth. I refused to sign the requisition which was placed before honorable members some time ago, because it proposed that, by way of part payment for the collection, the Government should give a grant of land in Papua. Whatever is done, I think we should make payment in cash. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I agree with the honorable member. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- Then, if the Government will act as the Minister indicates, I shall be satisfied. {: #debate-37-s2 .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- While expressing regret at the death of **Mrs. Ellis** Rowan, I desire to say at once that I do not intend to vote for the motion. Parliament will stultify itself in the eyes of the people if it secures, as the basis of a national collection of pictures, a series of paintings which, as the Minister himself has admitted, are regarded by competent artists as not being a very high form of art. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Has the honorable member seen the pictures? {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- Yes, and- quite apart from the very dangerous way in which the motion is worded - I must add that competent artists have told me that these paintings, although they may represent in their colours the flowers which are to be seen in the scrubs and jungles of Australia and Papua, are,' as works of art, of not very high value. If we must have a series of pictures of the flora and fauna of Australia, I would prefer that we should secure faithful and effective photographic reproductions rather than paintings which are admitted by artists not to be works of art. I have already indicated that I do not care for the form in which the motion is phrased. It leaves the matter of negotiation altogether too wide open; and, upon both the grounds which I have mentioned, I shall oppose it. **Mr. BRENNAN** (Batman) [10.281.- I hope the motion will be agreed to. The proposal to acquire this distinctly unique collection of Australian work is one which should commend itself to every lover of this country. I suppose that there is nothing of its kind in the Commonwealth ; it is doubtful, indeed, if there is anything like it in the world. {: .speaker-KJM} ##### Mr Jackson: -- A large number of the late **Mrs. Rowan's** paintings is to be found in English art collections. {: #debate-37-s3 .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- No doubt! **Mrs. Rowan** was an artist of repute, who did splendid work for Australia. It is a pity that, when one gets a committee of brother or sister artists to pass judgment upon a collection of paintings, that decision is more than likely to be unduly 7 severe. But I am glad to have this opportunity of publicly declaring my high appreciation of the splendid work which has been done for Australia by a lady who has departed this life. We have spent money in much less worthy directions, and I trust that we shall now do something which will be equivalent to justice, not only to the memory of a distinctly talented Australian artist, but to ourselves and to the children, who, for generations to come, will find pleasure and profit in studying the collection. I am confident that her works will be reproduced in books and magazines for the edification and education of future generations. In the circumstances, I hope we shall not cavil at any reasonable price which may be sought for the paintings. In this matter, although not in most matters, I am quite prepared to trust to the judgment of the Government. {: .speaker-K1J} ##### Mr Pratten: -- What is the price? {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- I do not know what price the trustees would require at the present time. I do know that a price was suggested by a committee that was appointed to examine these pictures, and I was pleased to hear the Prime Minister **(Mr. Hughes)** from his place in the House say that he would not demean himself by offering such a price for the collection. {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- It was £3,000.. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- I think that was . the amount. {: .speaker-KJM} ##### Mr Jackson: -- The Prime Minister spoke of a grant of land. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- I do not think we should complicate the position by introducing that matter. I do not know it Ls essential from the point of ' view of either the Government or the trustees; but on the general question I sincerely hope that we shall do this measure of justice to ourselves and to the deceased lady by acquiring what I consider to be, having regard to its unique character, a collection of priceless works. Question resolved in the affirmative. {: .page-start } page 3913 {:#debate-38} ### AUTOMATIC TELEPHONE EXCHANGES Motions (by **Mr. Richard** Foster) agreed to - >That in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1921, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed works: - Automatic telephone exchanges and equipment at East Sydney, Randwick, Waverley, Gordon, New South Wales; Canterbury, South Melbourne, Victoria; which said works were referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, and on which the Committee has duly reported to this House the result of its inquiries. > >That in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1921, it is expedient to carry out tho following proposed work, namely: - Establishment of an automatic telephone exchange' at Sydney (City South), which .said work was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, and on which the Committee has duly reported to this House the result of its inquiries. {: .page-start } page 3913 {:#debate-39} ### ADDITIONAL QUARTERS AT POINT COOK Motion (by **Mr. Richard** Foster) agreed to - >That in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1921, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work, namely: - Provision of additional quarters at Point Cook, Victoria, for staff of the Royal Australian Air Force, which said work was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, and on which the Committee has duly reported to this House the result of its inquiries. {: .page-start } page 3914 {:#debate-40} ### ESTATE DUTY ASSESSMENT BILL *In Committee* (Consideration of Senate's amendments) : {: #debate-40-s0 .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr BRUCE:
Treasurer · Flinders · NAT -- I move- That the Senate's amendments be agreed to. The amendments are of a purely machinery character. The Bill, as I explained recently, is merely to correct an anomaly which existed, by which income tax, although due at the time of a man's death, could not be deducted for the purposes of estate duty unless it had actually been paid. The Bill, as passed by this House, provided for the rectification of that anomaly by an alteration of the definition clause, but, after consideration and consultation with the Law officers, it was decided that the object in view could be better secured by an alteration of the operative clauses. The Senate has, therefore, made the necessary alterations in the operative clauses instead of the definition clause. Motion agreed to. Resolution reported; report adopted. {: .page-start } page 3914 {:#debate-41} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-41-0} #### COMMONWEALTH SUGAR CONTROL: ACCOUNTS {: #subdebate-41-0-s0 .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
Minister for Trade and Customs · WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I lay on the table of the House the Commonwealth Sugar Control accounts from 19th July, 1915, to 31st March, 1922, and move - That the papers be printed. I do this in fulfilment of a promise given to the House some weeks ago. The accounts are complete, and take the place of the interim aggregate balance-sheet recently submitted by the Government. An aggregate balance-sheet is included, together with annual balance-sheets and a complete statement of the whole of the operations of the Commonwealth Government Sugar Control from its inception. I am pleased to be able to tell the House that, in accordance with the promise made by the Government, the price of sugar will be reduced on 1st November next, and that there will be no debit to be made up by the taxpayers. There will be a email credit balance, which shows that the pre-estimate of the advisers of the Commonwealth in this matter was correct. Complete arrangements have been made by which full supplies of sugar will be. assured the consumers, the manufacturers, and all interests concerned, on 1st November next. Supplies will be available up to that date and immediately afterwards. Other arrangements have been made so that there shall be no dislocation of either the wholesale or the retail trade. There will be an abundant supply of sugar for the whole of Australia. To-morrow I shall give the House full details with regard to the methods of distribution and rebates. Question resolved in the affirmative. {: .page-start } page 3914 {:#debate-42} ### WAR SERVICE HOMES ACT {:#subdebate-42-0} #### Presentation of Report - District Secretaries {: #subdebate-42-0-s0 .speaker-KZC} ##### Mr HECTOR LAMOND:
IllawarraHonorary Minister · NAT -- I lay on the table the following papers: - >Australian Soldiers' Repatriation Act- Report of the Repatriation Commission for the vear ending 30th June, 1022. > >War Service Homes Act - Reports of the War Service Homes Commission, together with statements and balance-sheets - ' 6th March,1919, to 30th June, 1921; 1st July, 1921, to 30th June, 1922. and move - > >That the papers be printed. **Mr. MCGRATH** (Ballarat) [10.401.- I shall avail myself of this opporutnity to draw the attention of the Minister to the closing of local repatriation offices in country districts. Local Committees have been formed, and have done good work in cities such as Bendigo, Geelong, and Ballarat, where secretaries, appointed and paid for >by the Repatriation Department, have been in attendance. I regret to say that the Department is dispensing with the services of these officers so that its work in these districts will depend entirely on voluntary effort. In Ballarat there are a number of returned soldiers who require attention, as well as a number of widows of soldiers who have grievances to be remedied. There is no reason why everything should be centralized in Melbourne. Why should returned soldiers in Ballarat have to write or come to the head office in Melbourne in order to secure the rectification of grievances? The local secretary in the employ of the Department at Ballarat gave entire satisfaction to the men. I trust that the honorable gentleman will give some consideration to the needs of returned soldiers who may not happen to reside in this city. {: #subdebate-42-0-s1 .speaker-KZC} ##### Mr HECTOR LAMOND:
IllawarraHonorary Minister · NAT -- The officers of the Repatriation Commissioners are under the direct administration of the Minister for Repatriation **(Senator E. D. Millen),** and I shall represent to him to-morrow the views just expressed by the honorable member. Question resolved in the affirmative. {: .page-start } page 3915 {:#debate-43} ### BRITISH EMPIRE EXHIBITION APPROPRIATION BILL Message recommending appropriation reported. *Ordered -* >That the message be considered in Committee forthwith. *In Committee* (Consideration of GovernorGeneral's message): {: #debate-43-s0 .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
Minister for Trade and Customs · WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I move - >That it is expedient that an Appropriation , of Revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to grant and supply out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund the sum of £115,000 to provide for the representation of the Commonwealth at the British Empire Exhibition 1924. This Bill is designed to carry out an agreement made between the Commonwealth and the 'States for the adequate representation of Australia at the British Empire Exhibition to be opened in London in April, 1924. The Commonwealth and the States have agreed to expend between them the sum of £200,000. Of that amount the Commonwealth will contribute £115,000, while the States will contribute between them £85,000, which is to be apportioned on a population basis. Iu addition, the States undertake to defray the whole of the costs of procuration, preparation and shipment of exhibits f.o.b., from which point the Commonwealth Government will take charge. It will also be responsible for the whole of the arrangements on the other side. An Empire Exhibition Commission is to be formed here, and will be representative of the Commonwealth and all the States. The Prime Minister and two of his colleagues will represent the Commonwealth on the Commission; the States will be represented by their respective Premiers, and there will be five other members, selected from outside: who will have com mercial or financial knowledge. It is intended that a special appeal shall be made to Australia to see that the fullest advantage is taken of this unique opportunity to advertise our products and resources. The exhibition will remain open for six months, and meals prepared from Empire and Dominion products will be supplied there. Australia will be afforded, not only a magnificent opportunity to advertise for six months all that she has . to display, but an opportunity for the consumption of her food products in the great exhibition ground.. Question resolved in the affirmative. Resolution reported. Standing Orders suspended. Resolution adopted. *Ordered -* >That **Mr. Rodgers** and **Mr. Greene** do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution. Bill presented by **Mr. Rodgers,** and passed through all its stages without amendment or debate. *Sitting, suspended from 10.58 p.m.(Friday) to 11 a.m. (Saturday).* {: .page-start } page 3915 {:#debate-44} ### NATIONALITY BILL {:#subdebate-44-0} #### Second Reading {: #subdebate-44-0-s0 .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
Minister for Defence · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- In the absence of the Attorney-General **(Mr. Groom),** who is indisposed, I move - >That this Bill be now read a second time. It merely proposes some small amendments to help the process of naturalization in the Territory of Papua and Norfolk Island 'in regard to which certain technical difficulties have arisen. There is, for instance, an old man who has lived in Norfolk Island for many years,, but who cannot become naturalized as a citizen of the Commonwealth, and .is experiencing considerable hardship in * consequence. The 'Bill will enable us to do for him what we do for other citizens. {: .speaker-KNH} ##### Mr Mathews: -- Is Lord Howe Island all right? {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I think it is; but, in any case, a provision in the Bill enables the Governor-General, by proclamation, to bring any Territory of the Commonwealth under the Nationality Act. This is particularly /necessary an regard to Norfolk Island and Papua. The Commonwealth has adopted Part II. of the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act 1914, under which the naturalization of a British subject holds good throughout the Empire. Prior to the passing of that Act a personnaturalized in Australia lost his British citizenship if he removed to any other part of the Empire. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr Charlton: -- We should extend the Nationality Act to the islands under our control, and I think that the amendments proposed by the Bill are necessary. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time. *In* *Committee:* Clauses 1 to 9 agreed to. . Clause 10- >Section 25 of the principal Act is amended by adding at the end of sub-section (2) the words " or a territory." {: #subdebate-44-0-s1 .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
Minister for Defence · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I move - ' That the following words -be inserted after the word "amended":- " (a) by omitting the wordsproduce to the Minister newspapers containing copies of the prescribed advertisement ', and inserting in their stead satisfy the Minister in the prescribed manner that he has done so ' ; and (b)." Under the existing Act, an applicant has to advertise in the newspaper that he is seeking naturalization. In Norfolk Island no newspaper is published; therefore, that requirement of the sub-section cannot be complied with. . The amendment will overcome that disability. Amendment agreed to. Clause, as amended, agreed to. Clause 11 agreed to. Title agreed to. Bill reported with an amendment; report, *by leave,* adopted. Bill, *by leave,* read a third time. {: .page-start } page 3916 {:#debate-45} ### BILLS RETURNED FROM THE SENATE The following Bills -were returned from the Senate without amendment or request - ' South Australian Farmers Agreement Bill. Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference.) Bill (No. 2). {: .page-start } page 3916 {:#debate-46} ### TRADE MARKS BILL {: #debate-46-s0 .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
Minister for Defence · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I move - >That this Bill be now read a second time. This measure follows the lines of section 9 (a) of the Trade Marks Act, which applies to the' Territory of Papua. Its object is to bring all the Commonwealth Territory, including the Mandated Territory, into the area covered by the Trade Marks Act. The existing position in New Guinea is that under Territorial Ordinance No. 1 of 1921, the Commonwealth Trade Marks Act is applied to the Territory as far as it is applicable. The effect of that is to make the Trade Marks Act a law of the Territory, and to enable trade marks to be registered there. Whether any trade marks have been so registered is not known, but if any have been they will remain Territorial trade marks. It was not thought necessary to put in any provision for conversion of these marks into Commonwealth marks. There would be nothing to prevent the owner of a Territorial mark applying for the mark as a Commonwealth mark. No difficulty under this head has arisen in Papua, where, I believe, a few trade marks were registered before that Territory was brought into the area of the Trade Marks Act. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate. {: .page-start } page 3916 {:#debate-47} ### JURY EXEMPTION BILL {: #debate-47-s0 .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
Minister for Defence · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I move - >That this Bill be now read a second time. Its only purpose is to exempt Commonwealth railway officers from serving on juries. The States already give that exemption to their officers. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate. {: .page-start } page 3916 {:#debate-48} ### SERVICE AND EXECUTION OF PROCESS BILL {: #debate-48-s0 .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
Minister for Defence · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I move - >That this Bill be now read a second time. This is another short measure, and all it does is to be found in clause 2, which adds a new section to the principal Act. It is in effect an amendment of paragraph 6 of sub-section 3 of section IS of that Act, which reads - {: type="1" start="3"} 0. Such Justices of the Peace may - {: type="a" start="b"} 0. admit the person to hail ou such recognisances as he thinks fit, conditioned to appear at the appointed place in the State or part of the Commonwealth in which the warrant was issued and -answer the charge or complaint or he dealt with according to law. But supposing the conditions of recognisance upon which a person is admitted to bail are not complied with, what is to happen? The Act provides for no sanction or penalty to overcome this omission; and the Bill provides that failing compliance with the conditions of the recognisance, the Justice of the Peace may declare the recognisance forfeited, and the payment of any sum due shall thereunder be recoverable as a fine. Several cases have arisen, under the existing law, where it has not been possible, in cases of default, to recover recognisances under this Act. Clause 3 provides for the application of the principle Act, as amended by the Bill, to the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, because its non-application is causing inconvenience. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate. {: .page-start } page 3917 {:#debate-49} ### SEAT OF GOVERNMENT ACCEPTANCE BILL {: #debate-49-s0 .speaker-L0I} ##### Sir GRANVILLE RYRIE:
Honorary Minister · North Sydney -- I move - >That this Bill be now read a second time. This is a short measure, the whole object of which is set out in the preamble. Certain errors and misdescriptions have been discovered in reference to the lands set forth in clause 5 of an agreement entered into between the Government of New South Wales and the Commonwealth Government affecting certain lands at Jervis Bay. There was, I understand, a clerical error made with regard to a line starting from a certain point, and described as running east, whereas it should have been described as running west. Then, it is desired to alter the method of survey for a portion of the land there. At the present time it is set out in the agreement that the land for survey shall follow the convolutions of the coast, and in order to afford greater facility for survey, it is desired to make it a straight line. No money or compensation is involved in the Bill, nor has it any reference to the building of Parliament House at Canberra. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time, and passed through ite remaining stages without amendment or debate. {: .page-start } page 3917 {:#debate-50} ### SUGAR CONTROL {: #debate-50-s0 .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
Minister for Trade and Customs [11.25 a.m.]. - (By leave · WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I announced yesterday that there will be a reduction in the price of sugar as from the 1st November. By arrangement, there will be a corresponding reduction, as from the same date, on jams, canned fruits, and other manufactured products containing sugar. The real effect is that with the reduction of the price of sugar there will be, for the benefit of the whole community, a reduction in the price of jams, canned fruits, and so forth. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr Charlton: -- What will be the price of sugar? {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The retail price of sugar will be 5d. per lb. I am reminded by the Sugar Board that never before in the history of the trade has so substantial a reduction taken place at one time. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- Have satisfactory arrangements been made with the retail grocers ? {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The following goods held in stock on 1st November, 1922, will receive rebate concession, but only when in the hands of manufacturers, and subject to the condition, pre-requisite to the Government's approval of the rebate, that binding guarantees are given that the price of the goods will be reduced on the 1st November to the extent of the fall in the value of the sugar contents: - Jams, all varieties; canned fruits; jelly crystals of all kinds; lemon peel; lemon and orange cordials of all kinds. Rebates on stocks of sugar will be given to wholesale distributors and manufacturers only. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr Prowse: -- What will be the effect in relation to sugar which is consigned to a distance about the time and arrives after 1st November? {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- When sugar has to travel some distance, possibly in large quantities, and arrives a day or so before the 1st November, we have not asked that it shall be paid for at the higher rate. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr Prowse: -- It is consigned really on the old price. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Yes. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir Robert Best: -- But it is in Australia all the same. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- It is very much the same thing whether it is at the old price or the new price, except that it may get out of the hands of the wholesalers into those of the retailers, and would not then get. the benefit of the concessions. We cannot be responsible for taking stock of all the retail shops in Australia. We have arranged, therefore, to take stock only in the .case of what is in the hands of the wholesale houses or of the manufacturers on the 31st October. It is not desired by the Government, and it would not be wise, to limit manufacturing or to cause manufacturers to dispense with employees, but to insure that the whole business shall go on as before. Full provision has been made to meet all cases before and after that date. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr Prowse: -- Does the Minister's explanation cover the case of sugar consigned, say, to Albany ? {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Yes. The distribution *oi* the sugar will be arranged by the Federated Association of » Wholesale Grocers in conjunction with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and we have covered both the metropolitan and the country distribution. No rebates will be paid to the Colonial Sugar Henning Company on stocks held by it. The company has not asked for any. As to the point raised by the honorable member for Fawkner **(Mr. Maxwell),** the adjustment of distribution margins is under consideration, and every endeavour will be made to arrange a basis of fair remuneration for such traders. It has proved a mostdifficult matter to cut the price of 5d. in tn those nice points of adjustment so that every branch of the industry may get a reasonable margin; but I think it is unfair, when the sugar reaches the last stage of distribution, that the retail grocer should be called upon to bear an undue weight of cost; it would be unfair to ask the smaller distributors to conduct their end of the business at a loss. I am giving every possible consideration to this aspect of the business, in the hope ' that a reasonable margin may be allowed them for their share. An export rebate of £20 a ton has been allowed on the basis of sugar at its present price. With a reduction in the wholesale and retail prices, the rebate also will be reduced; and it is proposed, from the 1st November next to 30th June, 1923 - when the agreement will have expired - that an export rebate of £14 a ton shall be allowed on the sugar contents of the following products: - . Jams, canned fruits, jelly crystals, cordials, lemon peel, condensed milk, and confectionery. {: .speaker-K1J} ##### Mr Pratten: -- What about biscuits? {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Those which I have mentioned are the only manufactures concerned. Full provision will be made for the re-adjustment of matters, and there will be every allowance for every interest. {: #debate-50-s1 .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON:
Hunter *. - (By leave)* - I am sure' that the public will appreciate the information that, not only will sugar be reduced by Id. per lb'., but also that there will be a reduction in the price of various commodities having sugar contents. I still think, however, that the retail price should have been 4£d. per lb. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- Does the honorable member mean under the agreement? {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- Yes. It is a pity that the report of the Public Accounts Committee could not have been placed earlier in our possession, so that we might have had the benefit of the information collected and the views therein expressed. I understand that half the members of the Committee considered that, under the agreement, sugar could, and should, have been sold for 4$d. per lb. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- No. The minority report states that sugar ought to be produced at such a price as would make £26 a ton a fair return for raw sugars, and that under those conditions the retail price could then be made 4-kl. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- I accept the Minister's statement, for I. have not had time to study the report. {: .speaker-KFC} ##### Mr Fleming: -- The Minister's interpretation does not cover the whole 'ground. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- -The accountants provided for the assistance of the Committee said the price could not be reduced below 5d., or, to be exact, that it could only be reduced by . 01 6d. per lb. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- In the circumstances, I do not intend to traverse the Committee's findings. But I regret that we were unable to take action earlier in order that we might have had an opportunity to clearly learn the position. By substituting a duty for renewal of the agreement we are aiming a blow at the sugar industry, which will involve the growers, and all engaged in cane growing in Queensland, in considerable loss. {: .page-start } page 3919 {:#debate-51} ### DUTIES ON SULPHUR {: #debate-51-s0 .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
Minister for Trade and Customs · WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 *.- (By leave)* - In the Customs Tariff of last year Parliament imposed duties on sulphur as follows : - >On and after 31st March, 1922- > >(1) Sulphur, n.e.i., per ton, British preferential, 15s.; intermediate, 20s.; general, 50s. > >Sulphur, volcanic, for manufacturing purposes, for which pur- poses sulphuric acid produced from pyrites or other sulphide ores is not suitable, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, British preferential, free; inter mediate, free; general, free. > >Pyrites, per ton, British preferential, 15s.; intermediate, 20s. ; general. 20a. > >Pyrites the produce of Papua or of any island or Territory belonging to or administered under Mandate by the Commonwealth,5s. per ton. > >I stress the point that the imposition of these duties was suspended until on and after 31st March of this year. Practically no representations were made to me for the removal of the duties until after they had come into operation. Subsequently, however, there was a development which was- in the nature of an agita- tion rather than direct representation. One statement, in particular; was made by the Phosphate Co-operative Company to the effect that an undertaking given by the Electrolytic Zinc 'Company had not been carried out. That undertaking had been a necessary condition controlling the date upon which the duties should come into operation. Therefore, I convened a conference of all sections interested. I appointed a committee of six, two of whom were direct representatives of the primary producers - one being, the honorable member for Corangamite **(Mr. Gibson)** and, the other;,, the then President of the Chamber of Agriculture. Two other members of the committee, were, representative of the manufacturers, of superphosphates, and the whole of those four ' were apposed to. the imposition of duties on sulphur: The remaining two were members of the mining section. I remitted to that committee the definite question whether the Electrolytic. Zinc Com.pany had carried out its agreement with the superphosphate manufacturing company. Its unanimous finding was that it had done so. The terms of the agreement were that the Electrolytic Zinc Company should supply the phosphate manufacturers with sulphuric acid- at a fixed price. The strong ground originally taken by the superphosphate people was that the Zinc Company should be required to supply them with sulphuric acid. Definite provision to that end was made, and the basis of objection by the phosphate manufacturers to the imposition of duties upon sulphur apparently disappeared. It was not until long afterwards- quite recently, in fact - that the agitation against the. duties arose again. I satisfied myself, by the unanimous report of the specially appointed committee - peculiarly representative as it was - that the agreement to provide sulphur had been faithfully fulfilled by the Electrolytic Zinc Company. Yet I have been pursuedpolitically pursued - by persons who are agitating for the removal of duties upon sulphur for the alleged, reason that the Zinc Company's agreement has not been carried out. A deputation of primary producers waited upon me in my constituency, and I found at the head of it a ' representative of the Phosphate Company in Melbourne and a Melbourne lawyer. These gentlemen were foremost in stating the case for the deputation in my own home town, on behalf of my own farmer constituents. I promised that I would remit the whole subject-matter to the Tariff Board for investigation and report, and that, thereafter, I would make an announcement. I have urgently brought the question under the attention of the Board. At this stage I wish to interpolate, that it has been recently proved that sulphuric acid from pyrites can be . captured and manufactured much more cheaply, and that there is, therefore, no necessity. for- the Electrolytic Zinc Company to incur the expense of creating a special organization and. plant to fulfil its undertaking to the , phosphate company. Pyrites or sulphuri c acid can now be cheaply obtained from the Mount Lyell and other companies. The report of the Tariff Board is interesting and informative. The subject is a very big one, for it involves the supply of superphosphates at fair and reasonable prices to Australian farmers. {: .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr Gregory: -- Why do not you keep out of it and let them run their own business ? {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Parliament has determined upon the imposition of certain rates of duty. It is my task to administer the Customs Tariff. I am endeavouring to the best of my ability, and with all my energies, to administer the policy of Parliament. I wish to announce that the price of superphosphates has now been further reduced, in this State by 5s. per ton, making the price £5 5s. per ton. I propose to deal presently with the whole question of prices, but I considered it would be of interest to members to mention the local reduction at this moment. In reading the report of the Tariff Board I call the attention of Western Australian representatives, particularly, to the fact that the Board is at present in that State, conducting inquiries with a view to promoting the interests of Western Australia. The report is as follows : - {:#subdebate-51-0} #### Adelaide, 26th September, 1922 The Honorable the Minister of Trade and Customs.. The following notes further explain the position in the various States: - {:#subdebate-51-1} #### Victoria All the sulphuric acid required in Victoria for the 'manufacture of superphosphates can be obtained from the large supplies of pyrites available in Tasmania. **Mr. Cuming** says that for the last fifteen years he has used Australiansulphur when it has been cheaper for him to do so, alternating it with imported supplies. The report continues - >The **Mr Lyell** Company is arranging to use only pyrites immediately its supply of 'sulphur is exhausted. The firm of Cuming, Smith, and Company were making arrangements to use pyrites from Tasmania. The firm has half of its burners in position, but action has been taken to buy further sulphur and the erection of the remaining half of the burners is not being proceeded with at present. **Mr. Cuming** has, however, notified the Board that as soon as his present supply of sulphur is sufficiently reduced, he will operate one-half of his burners on Tasmanian pyrites, and should he ascertain that they arc cheaper to use than sulphur obtained overseas plus the duty, he willcontinue to use pyrites. > >The Mount Lyell Mining Company is willing to supply all manufacturers of superphosphates in Victoria - with Tasmanian pyrites at the same price as that charged to the Mount Lyell Superphosphates Company. I have given an undertaking that a supply of sulphuric acid will be available at the one price, plus transport charges, to all Australian manufacturers of superphosphates, irrespective of whether they are proprietary on co-operative interests. {: #subdebate-51-1-s0 .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Yes. I shall refer to them later on. The Mount Lyell Company has also given an undertaking that it will charge up against its own works the . same price that . it charges to . the farmers' co-operative companies. We shall protect the co-operative companies of Australia in regard to, not only their supplies, but the price at which they shall be able to obtain them. They will be on the same basis as every other manufacturer. It is part . of the policy of the Government, as often laid down, to protect farmers' co-operative organizations where they desire to embark in such enterprises. The Cresco Fertilizers Limited has been doing excellent work, and is carrying on its operations in a businesslike way. I wish I could say the same of the Victorian company. I have not a word to utter against the shareholders of the Victorian enterprise. I wish them success; but- I have reason to think it would be well for them to put their concern on the same business-likebasis as that on which the South Australian company is being operated. It would be well for them to do that, instead of promoting an agitation which attacks, first of all, the State Government in respect of a site for the works - and then, when that fails, to attack this Government in respect of the duty on sulphur, notwithstanding that it will be unable to use sulphur for the next two seasons. The manufacturers, those who know their business, are not raising this agitation. {: .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr Gregory: -- The manufacturers told the Minister clearly that they wanted freedom. . {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I have mentioned that; but there is no agitation on their part like that which has been offered by a section of the management of the Victorian company - >The price of sulphur, however, has been further reduced in. the United States, and the Board is cabling to America to ascertain whether the price charged to Australia agrees with the price for domestic use in the United States. > >It will be noticed that an amount of 1,200 tons of sulphuric acid has been deducted from the Victorian total available. The sulphur representing this quantity is required by the Explosives Company, who can use only sulphur in the manufacture of explosives, but all the other companies in Victoria can obtain pyrites from Tasmania if so desired. {:#subdebate-51-2} #### New South Wales There are only two -companies in New South Wales manufacturing superphosphates. The Australian Fertilizers Company at Port Kembla have been using New Guinea pyrites. Recently, they have ordered 1,200 tons of Mount Lyell pyrites from Tasmania, and should this trial prove successful, these pyrites will be used in future. The Sulphide Corporation at Cockle Creek is making arrangements to use only locallymade raw material,' mostly zinc concentrates, and will not import sulphur. This corporation is installing costly contact plant at Cockle Creek, which will manufacture high-grade pure sulphuric acid, which should meet practically all the requirements of the industries in New South Wales now using sulphur. {:#subdebate-51-3} #### South Australia The largest works in this State are the Wallaroo and Mount Lyell Fertilizers Limited, at Wallaroo and Port Adelaide. This company manufactures almost half of the output of the State, and supplies its ownsulphuric acid from Australian raw material. The Electrolytic Zinc Company is installing at Port Pirie a plant to make sulphuric acid, to cost about £80,000. The company 'has entered into an agreement with the Adelaide Chemical Works to supply the latter with all the sulphuric acidthey need at the same cost as the acid is supplied to the other company. A similar offer has been made to the Cresco Fertilizers Limited, and negotiations are proceeding, but the Cresco Company appears to be keeping the matter open in the hope that some relief may be obtained in the remission of the duty when the foreign raw material will be continued. It is understood that half of the sulphuric acid required for South Australia is being supplied, and the whole of the requirements will be available in eleven months from 1st October, 1922. {:#subdebate-51-4} #### Western Australia This is the only State where, under present conditions, the whole of the local supplies of raw material are not available. About 35 per cent, of their sulphur requirements is being obtained by one of the -manufacturers from pyrites mined in Western Australia, and experts believe that there are sufficient pyrites available in the State to meet all the requirements, but their use is precluded, owing to transport charges. The only solution advanced to the Board has been to grant the manufacturers of superphosphates in Western Australia the use of sulphur free of duty. The Board considers this would be an unconstitutional proceeding, and, in addition, it believes the most satisfactory method ofmeeting the position would be taking action to assist the manufacturers in obtaining their pyrites within the State. This could be done by the State Government granting as. reasonable railway rates as possible on pyrites, and, if necessary, the Commonwealth Government could assist by granting a bounty to enable the manufacturers to meet the extra cost through railway and other charges. The manufacturers concerned have expressed their willingness to' take early action to obtain local pyrites if possible, provided some relief in transport charges is granted. While in Western Australia the Board will discuss this matter with the Premier, in the hope of arriving at a satisfactory solution. In Queensland and Tasmania - no superphosphates are manufactured. Queensland draws her supplies from New South Wales, and Tasmania from Victoria. From the foregoing explanation it will be seen that practically 71 per cent, of the total requirements of sulphur is available from locally-produced materials, and when the present plants . now being erected are completed, and the arrangements suggested by the Board in Western Australia are made, the whole of the sulphur requirements for the manufacture of superphosphates will be produced in Australia, and, further - {: #subdebate-51-4-s0 .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Taking the position as a whole, I would remind the honorable member that there have been large imports of sulphur duty free. The Boarddesires to emphasizethat all supplies at present available are offered: at uniform prices to all companies. {:#subdebate-51-5} #### Price or Imported Sulphur and Local Sulphuric Acid It is understood by the Board that the price of sulphur before the war was £4 7s 6d. per ton. It is, however, now being quoted to Australian buyers at £4 4s. per ton from the United States, although other countries have been charging much more. Add £2 10s. duty to the price stated, and the total is £6 14s. per ton. The Mount Lyell Company has offered the Victorian companies pyrites at a price which, the company states, is equal to £5 17s. 6d. per ton of sulphur. The companies in New South Wales (with one exception) andSouth Australia (with one exception) are to be fully supplied by locally-produced sulphuric acid. Pyrites from Tasmania will not be supplied to those States, except to one company in New South Wales, which will receive the same offer as the Victorian companies. The one exception in South Australia is now considering an offer from the Electrolytic Zinc Company to supply sulphuric acid at the same price as that supplied to other companies - in South Australia. The actual price arranged in South Australia for the sale of locally-produced sulphuric acid is the equivalent of £6 per ton of sulphur, and as the companies have already made the agreements, it is concluded these must have been on a satisfactory' basis, as no complaints of any kind have been made. The price of £6 is an estimate, and the Zinc Company has undertaken, wherever possible, to reduce costs, in which event any saving will be passed on to the manufacturer of ' superphosphates. {:#subdebate-51-6} #### Price of Superphosphates Last year's price for superphosphates was.: - Victoria,, £6 3s.per ton. South Australia, £5 10s. per ton. From the 1st July last theprice has been reduced to - Victoria, £5 10s. per ton. South Australia, £4 6s. per ton. The Victorian manufacturers have yet to fix their . price for the comingseason, and the Board believes that a further- decrease of 5s. perton will be considered. The prices would then be - Victorian, £5 5s.; South Australian, £4 6s. per ton. It. is very satisfactory to note' that, notwithstanding the imposition of the duty on sulphur,' substantial reductions have been -made in the price of superphosphates for the coming season, thus disproving the contention . of the opponents of the 'duty that it would increase the price. The Board is waiting to hear the price fixed toy the Victorian manufacturers for the coming -season, and unless a further satisfactory decrease is made on the £5 10s. per ton, the Board will certainly recommend to the Government that . investigation be made under the Tariff Board Act to ascertain whether the manufacturers ore not charging an unnecessarily high pricefor their goods. {:#subdebate-51-7} #### Recommendation In regard to the supply of sulphur for the manufacture of superphosphates in Western Australia, the Board recommends that inquiries be made to ascertain whether the difficulty in the supply of pyrites from the local mines in Western Australia could not be overcome. The Board believes that the present supply can be further developed, provided the State and Federal Governments assist in the development of the supply of pyrites by granting assistance in freight. This will prove of greater national advantage in developing local industries, and avoid the spending of money on foreign sulphur, thus making. Australia independent of outside supplies. With the concurrence of the Minister the Board will negotiate on this matter with the Government of Western Australia during its proposed visit to that State. (Sgd.) {: type="A" start="R"} 0. McK. Oakley, Chairman, Tariff Board. Walter Leitch, Member, Tariff Board. Herbert Brookes, Member, Tariff Board. Australia's chief source of sulphur supply to-day is the United States of America. Under the Tariff of the United States of America, our primary products - wool, meat, wheat, butter, fruit - are almost banned from the American market. Yet the Australian primary producer desires that our market shall be free to American sulphur. This country has the material, enterprise, capital, and genius to enable us to provide our own sulphuric acid. There is no reason why this . should not be a great national undertaking. Sulphuric acid is the base of all chemical action, and the day may come when it will be. to our advantage to have, as, a form of national insurance, large supplies of locally-made sulphuric acid and our own great chemists at work. . Those who have entered into this . enterprise, as the result of the duty we have imposed, have shown that they are alive. They have guaranteed supplies. The duty has been in operation . since March, and the manufacturers have not taken advantage of it. They have reduced the price. I welcome every possible effort by co-operators. If they think they can produce a better article at cheaperrates, and distribute it to the farmers, they will have the support of this Government. I ought . to say that during the war ' periodthe superphosphate manufacturers of Australia served this nation well. {: #subdebate-51-7-s0 .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I am. We want tobe fair all round. . Here is a letter addressed by the chairman of the superphosphate manufacturers to the Chairman of the Tariff Board on the 11tl] inst - Following on out conversations at your request, I have now to advise you that in August, 1,914, the "Victorian manufacturers resolved as follows: - "Manufacturers do not intend raising the price of superphosphate to the farmers. Unless the supplies of Taw material and credit are curtailed by the war, they will have .sufficient supplies for next season's requirements. .At the present time, the manufacturers .are not apprehensive of any shortage in their future supplies of .raw material." Since then, various Prices Commissions .have controlled the price of superphosphate, concluding with the British Phosphate Commission. These authorities cordially confirm the fact that the manufacturers had more than "played the game," not only during the war, but since. For a period we may have been considered to have been foolish, because BOm of the returns have been below fair interest-, when all other manufacturers were making war-time profits. In addition to the above, voluntary reductions of several shillings per ton of superphosphate have been made in Victoria by giving back to the farmer the profit on the increased returns, owing to the larger quantity of superphosphate sold which other manufacturers ordinarily, and rightly, keep to themselves as a reward for their work and enterprise. Following all this, I have now to advise you that manufacturers 'have decided to discount their more expensive stocks of rock on hand, and reduce the price a still further 5s. per ton. The price in South Australia is absolutely no guide, as a trade light is on there, which will, not be to the benefit of the farmers ultimately, unless it is soon settled, as it will eventually mean increased cost and loss of capital, to be made up in the future, and thus hamper extension of works to meet the growing demand. If manufacturers are going to risk their capital in plant extensions necessary for the superphosphate requirements of Australia, it will be a serious mistake for any one to belittle their actions or hamper their activities in any way, as we have all shown a full sense of our responsibility, and our association has meant greater efficiency and economy than could otherwise be obtained, and has led, among other things, to the lowest price of superphosphate possible during the last eight or ten years, probably the lowest prices in the world, PjS. - With regard to Western Australia, the price. there will also be subject to a. reduction-, but the higher rate is due entirely to a contract entered into, with the Christmas Island Phosphate Company with the knowledge and approval of the Phosphate Commission before the latter were in 'a position to supply .that State. When the 'contract is worked out this year, the British Phosphate Commission will supply all ' Western Australian requirements at the same price as the eastern States. None of my. members are interested in works in .New -South Wales or Queensland. There 'are no works in Tasmania, that State being supplied by us at Victorian wholesale prices. A further 'letter with regard to the duty on sulphur has been received by the Chairman of the Tariff Board from the Mount -Lyell Mining and Railway Company Limited. It is dated 12th October, 1922, *,&nd* .reads .-as follows : - I confirm my verbal advice that this company is spending -some thousands of poundsin Tasmania in new handling and crushing plant to enable pyrites to be shipped to (compete with .sulphur, duty .paid, and, in the meantime ample supplies are available, and no company has been refused supplies at prices considerably below the cost of importing sulphur. The mines have *mot* been idle, and regular supplies have been coming into Victoria 'from Tasmania since the duty was .imposed, and further contracts are .about to be made. - 1 confirm and emphasize the fact that the Mount -Lyell Company took no 'steps whatever to -secure .the duty, 'but when it was imposed we got in readiness to supply pyrites regardless of expense. The policy of the company is definitely to charge its own chemical works, which are run entirely separately in Victoria from the mines in Tasmania, the same cost as to outside manufacturers, and to allow the mines only a small margin of profit. It means much to Tasmania and Australia's miners, shipping, and workmen, and to-day we can offer more than we can sell. That is all I desire to say, but as there has been so much misunderstanding and misrepresentation upon this subject, I thought it only right that I should make a full statement, of the position before we went to the country. {: #subdebate-51-7-s1 .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE:
Swan -- **Sir-** {: #subdebate-51-7-s2 .speaker-K99} ##### Mr SPEAKER (Hon Sir Elliot Johnson:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES -- There can be no debate. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I have no objection to the honorable member making a statement. {: #subdebate-51-7-s3 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- There is no motion before the Chair. {: .page-start } page 3923 {:#debate-52} ### INCOME TAX ASSESSMENT BILL Bill returned from the Senate with the message that the Senate did not insist on its amendments disagreed to by the House of Representatives, and had agreed to a consequential amendment made by the House of Representatives in clause 44. {: .page-start } page 3924 {:#debate-53} ### WAR PRECAUTIONS ACT REPEAL BILL Bill returned from the Senate without amendment. *Sitting suspended from 12.5 to 12.25 p.m. (Saturday).* {: .page-start } page 3924 {:#debate-54} ### BILLS RETURNED FROM THE SENATE The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment: - Shale Oil Bounty Bill. British Empire- Exhibition Appropriation Bill. {: .page-start } page 3924 {:#debate-55} ### NATIONALITY BILL Message received from the Senate that it had agreed to the amendments made by the House of Representatives in this Bill. {: .page-start } page 3924 {:#debate-56} ### ADJOURNMENT {:#subdebate-56-0} #### Valedictory Remarks - Public Works Committee : Railway Inquiries - War Service Homes Bill - Beet Sugar Duty - Sulphur Industry {: #subdebate-56-0-s0 .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
Minister for Defence · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I move- >That the House do now adjourn. {: .speaker-JWN} ##### Mr Francis: -- For how long? {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- We resolved last night that we should adjourn until Monday week. What may happen in the meantime is on the knees of the gods. I desire to offer to you, **Mr. Speaker,** and to honorable members my congratulations on having come to the end of what has been a strenuous session. {: .speaker-KDZ} ##### Mr Jowett: -- " Tho end of a perfect day." {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Hardly. For some "time past we have not been quite sure when day started and when it ended. Our sittings seemed to go on interminably, morning, noon, and night. There is no question that the work this Parliament has. been called upon to do this session has been particularly heavy, and, on behalf of the Goverment, I have to tender to our supporters and the members of the Opposition and the Country party my sincerest thanks for their general cooperation in the endeavour to conclude the business during the last few days. We have done a great . deal of work, and, although we have done it quickly, I dare say it has been done just as well as if we had spent a good deal of time over it. My experience of parliamentary life is that we generally talk a great deal at the beginning of a -session, and do very little. That seems to be the almost invariable habit of Parliaments. They all seem to suffer at the beginning of the session from a complaint humorously referred to by the Prime Minister a few days ago as *cacoethes loquendi,* and not to settle down to work till a later stage of the session. Certainly all honorable members have worked very hard during the last few days. I offer my thanks and congratulations to you, sir, on the way in which you have presided over the business of this Chamber, and the impartial manner in which you have carried out your duties. Whatever differences of opinion parties may have had during the session, we must all agree that you have carried out your duties in a thoroughly unbiased manner. To your colleague, the Chairman of Committees (the Hon. J.M. Chanter), I extend the same tribute. This House has always been particularly fortunate in the officers it has chosen to guide it in its arduous* duties. I extend to them my personal thanks for the aid they have given me when I have had to consult them in regard to the business of the House. This advice has always been of the greatest help, not only to myself, but to honorable members generally. We cannot forget those patient and silent friends of ours who sit at the corner of the table and record the interminable flow of talk hour after hour. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- " The moving finger writes." {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- There is not one of us who does not owe to those gentlemen a deep debt of gratitude. When we see our speeches in cold print, and sometimes remember what we actually did say, we feel extremely thankful for the accurate manner in which they interpret our thoughts. I think it was Talleyrand who said that speech was given us to' conceal our thoughts. Whether or not our speeches do that, our friends of *Hansard* do interpret our thoughts in a very wonderful way. The accuracy of those records is beyond reproach, notwithstanding that the great amount of noise that we always make, when we are talking either to each other or to ourselves, is enough to disturb the nerves of anybody. {: .speaker-KDZ} ##### Mr Jowett: -- I hope the Minister will include the newspaper reporters in this encomium. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I am afraid that I cannot say that the newspapers interpret our thoughts; they always manage to twist what we do say in order to interpret their own views. {: .speaker-KDZ} ##### Mr Jowett: -I do not agree with that. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWilliams: -- The reporters do their work all right, no matter what we may think of the criticisms in the editorial columns. {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I was speaking more of the comments on what we say. Perhaps with reports on a very abbreviated scale it is unavoidable that the newspaper reporter should not be able to discriminate between what we consider material and what immaterial. However, a' newspaper report of a parliamentary speech is entirely different from the complete record in *Hansard.* I desire also to thank those officers who are in attendance upon the House for the assiduous way in which they worked to assist honorable members in their duty. They are unfailing in their attention, and whenever we call them to our aid they -come readily. They, too, have had a strenuous time during the last few weeks. We are about to proceed to an election, so I cannot wish honorable members those compliments which are seasonable at the time when Parliament usually concludes) its business. But I can wish them, and I hope, the wish is mutual, " many happy returns of the day." {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr Charlton: -- Election day? {: .speaker-KNF} ##### Mr GREENE:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP; NAT from 1917 -- No; that was not the date I had in mind. I look forward to the time when we shall re-assemble in this chamber, and resume our official and personal relationships. No doubt, in the election campaign we shall find it necessary to say just what we think of each other. But whatever we may say against each other outside or inside this House is political only in its application, and does not interfere with the harmonious private relationship that exists between honorable members of all parties. {: #subdebate-56-0-s1 .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON:
Hunter -- I agree with the Acting Leader of the House that this session, although short, has been strenuous. We cannot say that we have at last come to the " end of a perfect day," inasmuch as we are about to go before our masters, and I suppose theperfection of a dissolution depends, from the point of view of honorable members, upon what happens thereafter. But, so far as our personal relationships are concerned, whatever political differences may sometimes arise between us, we are always able to entertain a friendly feeling for each other. It is very pleasing to know that men who differ politically, and often with some heat, are able to forget their antagonisms outside the chamber, and be firm friends socially. I join with the Acting Leader of the House in conveying thanks to you, **Mr. Speaker,** from all honorable members on this side of the House for the manner in which you have carried out your most exacting duties. You have endeavoured to discharge them impartially, and I 'believe you have given general satisfaction. To the Chairman of Committees I also offer thanks for the able manner in which he has played his part. This House is blessed in having officers of such high calibre to preside over its deliberations. It has been a matter of wonder to me how the Speaker and the Chairman of Committees have managed to keep going during our recent protracted sittings. In regard to the *Hansard* staff, I indorse every word uttered by the Minister for Defence **(Mr. Greene).** I do not know how they have been able to stand the strain. As Leader of the Opposition, I have endeavoured during the last few, days, knowing the trying ordeal through which the reporters were passing, to curtail my remarks as far as possible, and thus shorten debate, for, after all, there is no sense in making physical wrecks of men unnecessarily. To the *Hansard* staff we owe our deepest thanks for the manner in which they treat our speeches. Than the attendants about the House, we could not have a better lot of men, no matter how we might select them. They have always carried out their duties in a most efficient way, and I do not think that any member has had occasion to complain of any of them. I congratulate the whole staff, from the officers at the table to the attendants, for the satisfactory manner in which they have played their part and assisted honorable members in doing their legislative duties. A man occupying the position of Leader of the Opposition often requires the assistance of the officers, and whenever I have had occasion to ask for their advice it has been given without hesitation and to my entire satisfaction. I wish them all a happy time, and I hope that, between now and Christmas, they will find some leisure which will compensate thom for the trying work they have had to do. As to our futures, we know little; our fate is on the knees of the gods, but whatever changes may take place in the *personnel* of this Chamber, I shall always remember the ' pleasant associations I have had with my fellow members. {: #subdebate-56-0-s2 .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · FSU; CP from 1920 -- I desire to associate myself with the valedictory felicitations which have been expressed by the Acting Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition; and, having regard to the significance of the occasion, I cannot help remarking on a cheerfulness which was scarcely to be expected at such a fateful time. Most of the members of -the Country party are new to parliamentary life, and we have appreciated very much indeed the uniform courtesy we have received from the leaders and members of all parties. We have formed many friendships, which I trust will -endure throughout our lives, and, whether or not w;e are again returned, we shall retain many pleasant remembrances of the Parliament which is nearing its close. I desire to join with the two Leaders who have spoken in thanking you, **Mr. Speaker,** for presiding over our deliberations and giving us that help which those of us who are still in the recruit stage have specially needed. I should like to express also our sense of the general fairness of your conduct of debate. To the Chairman of Committees our gratitude is due for the same reason. His attitude has always been most judicial, and he has given us all a very fair run. In, regard to the officers of the House, I do not think we would be able to carry on- without their able assistance and frequent advice. The clerks and messengers have ever been ready to help us along. As for the *Hansard* staff, I, too, confess that at times I am amazed to read the polished words that have apparently come from my lips. It is very gratifying to know that, not only can our thoughts be accurately expressed, but that they are often recorded in better language than we generally use. I desire to join with other Leaders of parties in offering felicitations to all the officers of the House, and especially to Mir. Speaker and the Chairman of Committees. {: #subdebate-56-0-s3 .speaker-KIT} ##### Mr MACKAY:
Lilley .- I desire to draw the attention of the Minister for Works and Railways **(Mr. Richard Foster)** to an article which has appeared in the Adelaide *Register* of 6th October- {:#subdebate-56-1} #### A Railway Compromise The anti-South Australian influences in the Commonwealth Railway Department have evidently had their way with the Federal Public Works Committee, whose report is summarized in the *Register* to-day. South Australia is to bo put ofl, as **Mr. Hobler** suggested in His evidence in Sydney, with a cheap light line to "Central Australia, while the way is left open for the construction ot the main railway by the eastern route through Queensland. A second article, headed " Territory Railways," contained the following: - >A " light low-level " line to Central Australia was suggested by -Commonwealth railway officials as a sort of sop to South Australia, while the Commonwealth would then be free to carry the main railway down through Queensland. I have too good an opinion of the Minister to think that he will be in the slightest degree affected by these articles; but, in fairness to the officials who gave evidence before the Public Works Committee, I feel it my duty to take this the only opportunity to mention the matter. **Mr. Hobler,** who is specially referred to in the articles, was subjected to a long cross-examination by the Committee, and gave valuable information; and such statements in the press are most unfair to him and other witnesses who gave evidence. {: #subdebate-56-1-s0 .speaker-KFP} ##### Mr RICHARD FOSTER:
Minister for Works and Railways · Wakefield · NAT -- I have had my attention called to these articles, and I came to the conclusion that whoever wrote them did not know the position as it is. I have no blame at all for any official or other per- son, and I am sorry ..that a South. Australian newspaper should in any. way reflect on the Public Works Committee, whose work I appreciate. {: .speaker-KIT} ##### Mr Mackay: -- The Committee will take full responsibility for all it does. Mr.RICHARD FOSTER.- My attitude is not at- all influenced by what appears, in the newspapers. {: #subdebate-56-1-s1 .speaker-JOG} ##### Mr BAYLEY:
Oxley .- It is not surprising that there has been a great " slaughter of the innocents," seeing that the session has been brought to so abrupt an end. A few weeks ago I wrote to a number of returned men pointing out that the difficulties under which they laboured in connexion with their War Service Homes would be remedied by an amending Bill. Unfortunately, that Bill, though I believe it was before us on at least one occasion, has been dropped, because there has not been sufficient time in which to pass it. I take advantage of this opportunity to place on record my regret that this measure has not passed, so that these men might have enjoyed the many benefits which it would have conferred upon them. {: #subdebate-56-1-s2 .speaker-KNH} ##### Mr MATHEWS:
Melbourne Ports -- There seems a disposition to go into ancient history, and I feel tempted to give honorable members the benefit of my opinion on the effects of Federation from the start until the close of this Parliament; but, in the circumstances, and with the convenience of my fellow members in my mind, I refrain. {: #subdebate-56-1-s3 .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr McWILLIAMS:
Franklin , - Under the present War Service Homes Act serious hardships are suffered by some returned men who purchased homes. I have had occasion to bring one such case before 'the Minister, who informed me that all such cases would come within the amending Bill to be introduced this session. To my deep regret, we have not been able to pass a measure that would have proved of great benefit to the returned soldiers who suffer from the defects of the present Act. I suggest 'that the Minister **(Mr. Hector Lamond)** might seriously consider whether in the absence of the necessary legislation, he can. make the conditions better for these men. If they have -to wait until a Bill is introduced and passed in the new Parliament, they will suffer greatly in the interval. I know that the Minister's sympathies are with the returned soldiers, and that he will do his best in the matter. {: #subdebate-56-1-s4 .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir ROBERT BEST:
Kooyong -- I also must express my regret that it has not been found possible to pass the War Service Homes Bill. I headed a deputation of returned soldiers to urge some amendment of the law, particularly in reference to the construction of roads and sewerage. I did this at the instance of a considerable number of soldiers ; and these men will be disappointed that the amending Bill has- failed to pass. However, the Minister **(Mr. Hector Lamond')** informs me that he was anxious to pass the measure, but he has been blocked. I now desire to correct an extraordinary statement that has been deliberately circulated and repeated from time to time in ' connexion' with the recent sugar schedule presented to the House by the Minister for Trade and Customs **(Mr. Rodgers).** The statement is to the effect that some special favour has been extended to Victoria, because there happens to be a beet sugar factory in this State. I now wish to show what an ignorant statement it is.' It is true there is a beet-sugar factory in Victoria which produces an average of 1,400 tons per annum, though on one occasion., I believe, the . production has been 1,900 tons. The Premier of Queensland has stated, and even repeated, that the increased duty of £14 in the case of beet sugar is imposed for the purpose of extending some favour and support particularly to Victoria. Let me point out that this differentiation between the duty on cane and the duty on beet sugar is really in the interests of the sugar-cane industry. The duty was imposed at the higher rate on beet sugar - and it has been imposed for the last twenty years - because the German Government subsidized their beet-sugar industry, and because that sugar came into unequal competition with our cane sugar. It was on that ground that, when Minister of Customs in Victoria, I, with other Ministers of Customs, imposed the duty in order to protect the cane-sugar industry. Whether or not there be a beet-sugar industry in Victoria, this differentiation is certainly not intended to operate against the canesugar industry ; as I say, on the contrary, it was imposed for the benefit of the sugar industry. {: #subdebate-56-1-s5 .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE:
Swan .- No opportunity was presented to discuss the statements made by the Minister for Trade and Customs **(Mr. Rodgers)** this morning, and I must take this opportunity to call attention to a matt