House of Representatives
28 February 1923

9th Parliament · 1st Session

page 15


The House met at10..30 a.m., pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General.

TheClerk read the proclamation.

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The Usher of the Black Rod, being announced, was- admitted;, and delivered the message: that the: Deputies, of . the Governor-General for the opening of , Parliament, requested, the attendance of honorablemembers in the Senate- chamber forthwith.

Honorable members attended accordingly, and; having’ returned’,

The Deputy authorized by the- GovernorGeneral to administer the oath entered the’ chamber.

TheClerk read the’ commission, under the Great Seal of the Commonwealth, authorizing, the’ Right Honorable Isaac Alfred Isaacs, P.C, a Justice, of’ the High. Court of, Australia, to administer the oath, or affirmation, of allegiance to the King required by law to be taken or made by members of the House ofRepresentatives.

page 15


The Clerk announced that; he; had received’ returns, to seventy-flve of’ the writs for the election of membersof the House of Representatives and that- the return to the writ, for - the-, election of a member for the Northern, Territory had not yet been received by him.

The following honorable members made and subscribed the oath of allegiance: -

Anstey, Prank, Esquire, Bourke, Victoria.

Atkinson’, Hon. Llewelyn, Wilmot, Tasmania.

Bamford, Hon. Frederick William, Herbert’, Queensland.

Bayley, James Garfield, Esquire, Oxley, Queensland.

Blakeley. Arthur, Esquire, Darling, New South Wales;

Bowden, Hon. Eric Kendall, Parramatta, New South Wales.

Brennan, Frank, Esquire, Batman, Victoria.

Bruce, Hon. Stanley Melbourne, M.C., Flinders, Victoria.

Cameron, Donald Charles, Esquire, C.M.G., D.S.O., Brisbane, Queensland.

Cameron, Malcolm Duncan, Esquire, Barker, South Australia.

Chapman, Hon. Austin, Eden-Monaro, New South Wales.

Charlton, Matthew, Esquire, Hunter, New South Wales.

Coleman, Percy Edmund, Esquire, Reid, New South Wales.

Cook, Robert, Esquire, Indi, Victoria.

Corser, Edward Bernard Cresset, Esquire, Wide Buy, Queensland.

Cunningham, Lucien Lawrence, Esquire, Gwydir, New South Wales.

Duncan-Hughes, John Grant, Esquire, M.V.O.,. M.C., Boothby, South Australia.

Fenton, James Edward, Esquire, Maribyrnong, Victoria.

Forde, Francis Michael, Esquire, Capricotnia, Queensland.

Foster, ‘ Hon. Richard Witty, Wakefield, South Australia.

Francis, Frederick Henry, Esquire, Henty, Victoria’.

Gabb, Joel Moses, Esquire, Angas, South Australia.

Gardner, Sydney Lane, Esquire, Robertson, New South Wales.

Gibson, Hon. William Gerrand,Corangamite, Victoria.

Green, Albert Ernest, Esquire, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.

Green,’ Roland Frederick Herbert, Esquire, Richmond, New South Wales.

Gregory, Hon. Henry, Swan, Western Australia.

Groom, Hon. Littleton Ernest, Darling Downs, Queensland.

Hill, William Caldwell, Esquire, Echuca, Victoria.

Ilowsfi, Sir Neville Reginald, V.C., K.C.B., ‘ K.C.M.G., Calare, New South Wales.

Hughes, Right Hon. William Morris, P.O., K-.C., North Sydney, New South Wales.

Hunter, James Aitchieson Johnston, Esquire, Maranoa, Queensland.

Hurry, Geoff ry, Esquire, D.S.O., V.D., Bendigo, Victoria.

Jackson, David Sydney, Esquire, Bass, Tasmania.

Johnson, Hon. Sir Elliot, K.C.M.G., Lang, New South Wales.

Killen, William Wilson, Esquire, Riveriaa, New South Wales.

Lacey, Andrew William, Esquire, Grey, South Australia.

Lambert, William Henry, Esquire, West Sydney, New South Wales.

Latham, John Greig, Esquire, C.M.G, K.C., Kooyong, Victoria.

Lazzarini, Hubert Peter, Esquire, Werriwa, New South Wales.

Lister, John Henry, Esquire, Corio, Victoria.

Mackay, George Hugh, Esquire, Lilley, Queensland.

Mahony, William George, Esquire, Dalley, New South Wales.

Makin, Norman John Oswald, Esquire, Hindmnrsh, South Australia.

Maloney, William Robert Nut tall, Esquire, Melbourne, Victoria.

Mann, Edward Alexander, Esquire, Perth, Western Australia.

Manning, Arthur Gibson, Esquire, Macquarie, New South Wales.

Marks, Walter Moffitt, Esquire, Wentworth, New South Wales.

Marr, Charles William Clanan, Esquire, D.S.O., M.C., Parkes, New South Wales.

Mathews, James, Esquire, Melbourne Ports, Victoria.

Maxwell, George Arnot; Esquire, Fawkner, Victoria.

McDonald, Hon. Charles, Kennedy, Queensland.

McDonald, Frederick Albert, Esquire, Barton, New South Wales.

McGrath, David Charles, Esquire, Ballarat, Victoria.

McNeill, John, Esquire, Wannon, Victoria.

Moloney, Parker John, Esquire, Hume, New South Wales.

O’Keefe; Hon. David John, Denison Tasmania.

Page, Hon. Earle Christmas Grafton, Cowper, New South Wales.

Paterson, -Thomas, Esquire, Gippsland, Victoria.

Pratten, Herbert Edward, Esquire, Martin, New South Wales.

Prowse, Join Henry, Esquire, Forrest, Western Australia.

Riley, Edward, Esquire, South Sydney, New South Wales.

Riley, Edward Charles, Esquire, Cook, New South Wales. .

Ryrie, the Hon.Sir Granville de Laune, K.C.M.G., C.B., V.D., Warringah, New South Wales.

Scullin, James Henry, Esquire, Yarra, Victoria.

Seabrook, Alfred Charles, Esquire, Franklin, Tasmania.

Stewart, Hon. Percy Gerald, Wimmera, Victoria.

Thompson, Victor Charles, Esquire, New England, New South Wales.

Watkins, Hon. David, Newcastle, New South Wales.

Watson, William, Esquire, Fremantle, Western Australia.

Watt, Eight Hon. William Alexander, P.O., Balaclava, Victoria.

West, John Edward, Esquire, East Sydney, New South Wales.

Whitsitt, Joshua Thomas Hoskins, Esquire, Darwin, Tasmania.

Yates, George Edwin, Esquire, Adelaide, South Australia.

The Deputy retired.

page 17



.-I move -

That the right honorable member for Balaclava, theRight Honorable William Alexander Watt, dotake the chair of the House as Speaker.

The honorable gentleman whose name I have submitted is, I think, specially qualified to preside over the deliberations of this branch of the Legislature. He has had long and valuable experience of Parliamentary procedure, and I have every confidence that in the spirit of fair play, and by the exercise of tact, he will be eminently successful as Speaker of the House. I hope that the motion will be carried unanimously.


.- I have very much pleasure in seconding the motion, I feel confident that the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) will fill the position with credit to this House and Australia as a whole.


– I am sure we are all surprised to see the turn events have taken this morning. In the last Parliament we had a gentleman in the chair who, I think, was faithful to his party, and carried out his duties so far as he possibly could to assist the Government. Now, however, the Government, which have thrown all their principles overboard, and have come together as - what shall I say ? - a hybrid party, start the present Parliament by displacing a man who has served them well. This is only following on what the Government have been doing during the last mouth - casting out men who have served the country well. This is certainly a very fine start. Who can say that the honorable member for Lang (Sir Elliot Johnson) was not a good Speaker for his party and for his country ? It was only a few days ago that I was speaking to that honorable gentleman, and I know he expected, to be re-elected Speaker. He had every justification for that expectation; but this “ managing “ Government have “ managed “ to get him out of his office. I have nothing to say against my honorable friend, the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt). He will make a very nice picture on the walls of the Queen’s Hall. Such a picture is one of the rewards for being a. Speaker - the successful member is “ taken “ in oils, and, as I say, the honorable member will look very well in oils. No doubt the honorable gentleman will look well in a picture in the Queen’s Hall here, but I do not know how he will like the circumstances when his portrait is hung at Canberra. The honorable gentleman in his career has been Premier of a State, and has held very high office in this Chamber, holding the office of Treasurer and that of Acting Prime Minister. Under all the circumstances, I cannot conceive what is the motive that has led him to accept the nomination as Speaker; I can only think that there must have been some very fine “ managing “ going on. However, as this is to be a “ business “ Government, it is just as well that they should “manage.” As I say, I cannot imagine what was the “ bait “ that was held out to the honorable gentleman to induce him to accept the position of Speaker. Perhaps it was the horsehair wig, and gown, and the fact that, as Speaker, he will have a nice young gentleman to carry the mace in front of him. All these “ baubles “ may have been some inducement to the honorable gentleman, who may also have recollected that when the- honorable member for Lang (Sir Elliot Johnson) became Speaker he was plain. “ Mr.” The honorable member for Balaclava would, perhaps-, like to be Sir “Billy” Watt- a very nice title. Indeed, he may aspire- higher; he may regard the “ Sir “ as quite a common thing, and feel that there might well now be a departure brought about by a Government that can “ manage,” and that he may become -the Duke of Balaclava. That latter would be a nice title, indeed, for- my honorable friend. However, I deeply regret that the party opposite show so little generosity to quite a number of men. who have served them well. The members of the Government used at one time to- sing the praises of these men as “ fine fellows “ ;. but when it comes to the question of the emoluments of office they have to go. There may be an opportunity later on to say a word or two about the Governor-General and his- action in ignoring the strongest party. in the House. He insulted our Leader (Mr. Charlton) by. not consulting him; and we shall, in the future, treat him with the same courtesy and generosity he has. displayed to us in 1 lie. past. The. absence: of the honorable member for Balaclava from the floor of the. House will form good security for the Government The honorable member in the last Parliament was free-lance. He was not consulted about, the formation of the. Ministry, and, perhaps, because of that, the Government fear he might prove a candid critic. There is no doubt that the honorable gentleman can criticise, and with a view nicely to “ managing “ things the Government hold out to him the “ bait” of the. horsehair wig, the. gown, the mace, and Sir “ Billy “ Watt. Ha is “done”’ now. In the. chair lie cannot say anything against the Government.. All he has to do is to act as a constable, to keep us. in order ; a glorified constable! From Premier of a State, and Acting Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, this gentleman has degenerated to the status, of a constable., whose duty at will he to maintain order in this House.-


.- T desire to thank the- honorable gentlemen who- have moved and seconded my nomination,, and I respectfully submit myself to *he House.

Mr. BLAKELEY (Barling) 11.1T]..The nomination of my honorable- friend, the honorable mem’ber for- Balaclava (Mr. Watt), provides- a fitting climax to one of the most disgraceful occurrence* in the history of this Parliament: For weeks, for months, extraordinary intriguing has taken place. The late Government were, ignominiously defeated at the hands of the people. Trickery and subterfuge> and the murder of many of their colleagues whom they should have had- the decency, at least, to stick to, culminates to-day in yet another assassination - that of ‘one who has always treated the -Government fairly. Wow there is about to follow the elevation of a gentleman whom they fear to a position where he cannot speak-. The party to- which I belong may be misunderstood in the matter of its, attitude regarding; the whole of these questionable proceedings: But I say that from the time when the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) was wrongfully sent for by His Excellency the Governor-General, and came away with twelve bribes in his hands - all fairly large ‘bribes, too - he was given a commission to go abroad among the members of Parliament, to “fix something up.” And he has fixed it well and truly. First of all, the representative of His Majesty acted unconstitutionally, unfairly. The Leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton), represents the- largest party in this House; rather, he did so prior to the amalgamation which, has brought about, the present Government That Government is now. the National Government. Being the Leader of the largest party in this- Chamber, the honorable member for Hunter should have been sent for. Wot that we anticipated governing the Commonwealth ! Not yet ! When we do govern this country we shall have sufficient numbers with which to govern. We have no desire to govern it with a minority in this chamber. The whole, of the proceedings, from the time when the -late Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) was taken to the bathroom - to quote the elegant language of an honorable friend - and had his political throat cut and when several other individuals thereafter had their political throats cut also, may be summed up as a blot upon the parliamentary institution in the Commonwealth. Wow, what, have we after all this intriguing? A composite

Government! I invite members to consult Webster. That authority describes the word with a very effective phrase. I have no more to add, except that, as the Government have started ‘disgracefully, so will they end ‘disgracefully.

MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– With many memories thronging through my mind I cannot recall, during (thirty years, a more disgraceful episode than that which is being staged at the present moment. As for the right honorable member who has taker - shall I call it a bribe? - a place, a gown, and a horse-hair wig - do I not remember the eloquent address which he delivered concerning the late Alfred Deakin! It was given with splendid elocutionary power; the oration ranks with the highest efforts of its kind in our parliamentary history. I know full well his elocutionary gifts. But what of the right honorable gentleman’s political career? I had hoped that, for the sake of Victoria, he would have closed his political life as Prime Minister of Australia. I would have held my hand - which I do not purpose doing to-day - had he achieved such a .climax. As matters stand at this moment, I am reminded of one entering a .cemetery where, over the tombstones, are to be seen the words, Hia jacet - “Heu lies– “ for here is the end pf his political career. I never thought he would have been guilty of accepting this post.

I purpose, in comment, only .to quote a few remarks from the daily press. That great organ thundering there in Collinsstreet, what does it announce? “ Candid Critic ‘Silenced.” Why silenced? Because he might expose this collection, this conglomeration: the Government. The newspaper in question says, “ The Country party also decided to support Mr. Watt as’ Speaker.” ‘The Country party would support any one who, in return, would give them .security of tenure. The paper says, further -

On the whole, however, the opinion is that Mr. ‘Bruce has by this means rid’ himself -of a somewhat dangerous rival.

Had the honorable members for Balaclava (Mr. : Watt), North ‘Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes), and ‘Martin (Mr. Pratten) been able to put their heads together the present Government ‘would not have known five clays’, existence. Here is .another quotation, this time from the thunderer of Flinders-street The Bun: - “Watt, Speaker! Surprise in Federal politics.” In the train to-day 1 met sun old friend, who said, “ Good God. Maloney, what has happened to Watt ? “ I said, “I don’t know.” He said, “I saw that man once fall down in the street - in Flinders:streel - when big stalwart John Murray lifted him up and put him into a cab. I never thought he would have done such a thing.” Thai is one opinion heard in the train.

Now, turning to the late Speaker, the honorable member for Lang (‘Sir Elliot Johnson), there is no doubt that if the English precedent were followed - if the example of the Mother of Parliaments were adopted - my honorable friend would be re-elected to the Chair to-day. Of course, we have heard certain remarks to the effect that the honorable member for Balaclava would not on any account have permitted himself to be nominated if the honorable member for Lang had indicated his intention to stand. But the latter “dashed well “ knew that the Government, they met the House to-day, would have the numbers. They would not dare to face an election ; for if they did, the honorable member for Balaclava would not be placed in the chair. I have been warned that if I say what it is any intention to say I shall make an enemy in the Chair.. I do not care. I never count consequences when once. I have .made up my mind.

The ex-Speaker was man enough to resent one of the most infamous ‘happenings in this Parliament when a young man employed in this building was fined two guineas, an amount which was paid to Mr. ‘Broinowski, ‘he Who ‘had .the damned impertinence to come into this chamber and announce that the Governor-General had arrived here. I want to know what be d’id with that two -guineas, which, in plain words, he filched from that young man to whom I refer.

Mr Blakeley:

– Why .did you not ask Mr. Broinowski when he was here?

MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– I wanted some more tickets of .admission ‘for to-day’s ceremony, but I would not ‘demean myself toy going to ‘him for ‘them. The -ex-Spea”ker, however, could do ‘nothing- when this young man was dismissed. The forms of Parliament allowed the panjandrum of another Chamber, who once discarded the wig and then had it brought back to him again, to take the matter into his own hands. If honorable members care to read a criticism of the indecency of wearing a wig, I urge them to peruse the speech delivered by the Hon. Thomas Givens upon that subject. This gentleman was cowardly enough to inform Parliament that the young man’s mother, had written a letter saying that her son had been misbehaving badly. As a matter of fact, the mother has signed a sworn declaration to the effect that this statement was false. It was Senator de Largie, who has fallen by the road, who, to his honour, exposed this, as canbe seen in Hansard. Then, again, the Auditor-General was misquoted ‘by this panjandrum of the Senate in giving evidence before a Select Committee when he declared that he was not the means of dismissing an innocent employee. Despite the exSpeaker, and in spite of the efforts of the member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews), who resigned from, the House Committee as a protest against the dismissal of this youth, justice could not be done. It may, however, be done by the present Government.

So that honorable members may be acquainted with their future Speaker, I propose to give a brief epitome of his career. We all know that the late Sir Graham Berry was placed in the Speaker’s chair, and never rose to greatness again : and I can only recall one instance of a man who, having been appointed Speaker, afterwards became a strong political power. That was the late Sir Thomas Bent. After occupying the chair he became Premier of his State. If the honorable member for Balaclava becomes Speaker of this Chamber he can write hic jacet on his political life. I wish it were otherwise. I remember when he was joyous in his victory at North Melbourne over Mr. Prendergast, the present Leader of His Majesty’s Opposition in the State Parliament. And when he in turn went down before Mr. PrendergastI am told that he cried like a child at the loss of his dignity. Then came the other episode when he, as Postmaster-General in the State of Victoria, refused to give permission to an officer who wanted to get away to fight for the Flag of England. That officer’s sister applied to him a scourge that is often applied to dumb animals. The next episode in his career was when, with the help of the late Sir Thomas Bent, he became Minister of the Crown. Years ago he proceeded to hound that great big-hearted man to his doom. The last message sent to me from Sir Thomas Bent on his dying bed was, “ I am on my dying bed, and you can tell the world that I have been murdered by Watt and Murray.” Then, later on, what did Mr. Watt say to that stalwart man, Mr. Murray, who had, so to speak, picked him up in his arms? He said, “Get back - play second; I want to be first.” And so Mr. Murray was put in the background. Later came the Labour Government in the State of Victoria. I think it held office for thirteen days, but Mr. Prendergast, as Chief Secretary, put a minute on the file that could not be destroyed by a succeeding Minister. It was an instruction that every man and woman entitled to be on the electoral rolls should be placed on them. As a result of this minute, 1,200 additional names were placed on the roll for the Essendon electorate, which was represented in the State Parliament by Mr. Watt, who had never given these men and women the right to vote. The addition of these names was sufficient to induce him to quit. What did he do? He got hold of the Australian Women’s National League, or the Awful Women’s Naughty League, as I have heard it called, and it so pulled the strings that Dr. Carty Salmon, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, was sent to the right-about. I am informed that although he, as head of the Masonic body, had presented Mr. Watt with the greatest prize it was in that body’s power to give, as a result of the manipulations which took place he was sent to a country electorate under conditions that his family know to-day brought about his death, for the chill he caught in the country would have been avoided had he been in Balaclava., I have this information from one very high in the Craft, but all those who are Masons can easily ascertain that what I say is true.

I have finished. Now that Mr. Chanter has gone, I am the oldest member in the House, and I simply wish to say that if the Government go into, recess with all the horrors of bribery, corruption, and fraud rampant in our midst, the country will be their judges. If any member of the Government thinks that his Ministry has the power of the people behind it, I will give him a chance of proving it before the electors of Melbourne. I issue that challenge, although the full power of the daily press has been directed against me .throughout my political life. Like a boa constrictor the Government have swallowed the Country party - one of the most independent members of which is not here to-day. But I leave the Government to their fate. Honorable members have mentioned that the Governor-General, perhaps through an over sight, did not. consult, the Leader of the Labour party with regard to the formation of a Government. I pass that by, but I’ must record the fact that in anticipation of the visit of His Excellency this afternoon to receive the newly-elected Speaker, twelve officials came to this House to inspect the room in which the ceremony will take place. Included amongst them was the Admiral of the Fleet. I should like the Leader of the Government to supply me with a list of the names, positions, and salaries of the officials who made the inspection, so that we may know to “what expense the country was put by a rehearsal of the reception. Why, in heaven’s name, did the Admiral of the Fleet come ?

Mr Fenton:

– Because this Government are in deep water.

MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– If they are in deep water let them take their chance now. Let Parliament sit on and remove the infamies to which reference has been made. I believe the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) to be an honest man, and if he does not take steps to remove the infamies his inaction will recoil upon his conscience. I think I can trust to the honesty of the Minister for Works, but I remind him that the electors of Wimmera are watching him.

Mr Gabb:

– He is the only democratic man in the Government.

MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– There may be some truth in what the honorable member says. If the Government hurry into recess they are not worthy of the positions they occupy.


.- The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr.

Watt) is quite a fit person to occupy the high position of Speaker. I am confident that when he is elected to that position he will endeavour to carry out his duties in a fair and honest manner, and will endeavour to uphold the high traditions of his office. Apart from that, the Leader of the Government should be congratulated upon his shrewd business capacity. A clever commercial mau is the Leader of a so-called business Government, and his first step has been to dispose of his most dangerous rival. There was no more formidable rival to the Prime Minister than the gentleman who is to be bribed with the position of Speaker. I congratulate the Prime Minister upon his business acumen, but it is a sorry day for the country when public affairs have reached such a low ebb that a dangerous rival to the Government may be silenced by the offer of a valuable bauble. It is unnecessary to say much in regard to this matter, but the public are resenting the fact that the high traditions of public life are being dragged into the gutter. One thing that the people of all British communities, particularly the people of this country, hold dear, is the conduct of public affairs in an honest and honorable fashion, but to-day Federal politics are surrounded with suspicion ; the actions which have attended the advent of the new Government stink in the nostrils of the people. T leave the Government to the tender mercies of those same people, but I must express my deep sympathy with the honorable member for Lang (Sir Elliot Johnson) because of the shameless manner in which he has been treated.

Mr Yates:

– Why did he not put up a fight for the position? Why sympathize with him?


– I express my own opinion, and I extend to the late Speaker my sympathy on account of the cruel manner in which his party has treated him. He presided over this House with distinction. Of course, in a large body of men differences of opinion will arise, and. many times we differed from the honorable member’s actions as Speaker, but I believe that he was actuated by the highest motives, and endeavoured to discharge his duties fairly. He has a good parliamentary record, in his official position he upheld the traditions of Parliament, and he served his party faithfully, and well; but now, in order that the Government may disposeof a dangerous rival, the honorable member for Lang is pushed aside, the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) is ushered in, and the country can go to hell.

Members of the- House then unanimously calling Mr. Watt to the Chair, he was taken out of his place by Mr. Mackay and Mr. Robert Cook and conducted to the Chair.

Then Mr. SPEAKER-ELECT, standing on the upper step, said - I desire to express my grateful thanks for the honour which honorable members have’ seen fit to confer upon me in selecting me to preside over the House. I am deeply sensible of the responsibilities that attach to the position. I must candidly confess that I feel very ill-equipped to follow the distinguished gentlemen who have preceded me in this office. I realize that I can only successfully do so if I am supported “by honorable members, upon whose good-will I shall constantly rely. Reference has been made to the traditions of Parliament. I hope that during the currency of this Parliament we shall all unite to preserve the best traditions of our Parliament, because I sincerely believe that they constitute the foundation of popular liberty in this country. I think the preservation of those traditions can best be achieved by an observance of the ordinances which have been approved by past Parliaments, and which were designed to secure decorous and orderly debate. I want to say one thing further, if I may be permitted ‘to do so. While I am its occupant, the ‘Chair will know no party and no distinction of persons. I shall endeavour to act with strict impartiality, and I trust with courtesy, to every honorable member. I am fully appreciative of the consideration which the House has shown to me, and in return I shall, to the best of my ability, endeavour to faithfully discharge the duties of the high office which have been laid upon me;

Prime Minister · Flinders · NAT

Mr. Speaker, I desire to congratulate you upon the honorable and eminent office that you ‘will now be called upon to ‘fill. The position of Speaker requires in its occupant a combination of attributes ‘which is very sel- dom found,, but -which, I think, in your case, is abundantly present. Your long experience as a member of this House and of . the Legislature of the ‘State of Victoria, both as a private member and as a Minister, has qualified you in an unusual degree to fill the position that you now occupy. You will be the custodian of the rights and privileges of this House, and I think every honorable member is confident that you will maintain for them all the rights and privileges appertaining to Parliaments throughout the British. Empire. In the conduct of the ‘business of the House, I can assure you that you will have the loyal support of the Government, who will ever try to aid you in the difficult task you are now undertaking. I am sure that all members of the House will bow to your ruling, and will support you in endeavouring to see that our deliberations are carried on in accordance with thebest traditions of Parliament. In that feeling honorable members are strengthened by the ‘knowledge of your experience, judgment, and impartiality. I not only congratulate you, but I think I should congratulate the House on having you in the high and honorable position of Speaker.


.- Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Opposition I desire to congratulate you on your election to the highest position in the gift of the House. I feel sure that you will worthily uphold the high standard set byyour predecessors in presiding over the deliberations of thisChamber. Honorable members of the Opposition will accord you every assistancethey possibly can in carrying out your very responsible and exactingduties. I feel sure that you will act with strict impartiality, and, if you do that, you will have the assistance of every member of this Chamber.


.- I have one reason in particular for rising to speak at this juncture. The world is full of surprises, but nothing was more surprising to myself than to hear that you, Mr. Speaker, had been offered and had accepted your present position. ‘It is not for me to examine any of the reasons that lie beneath the surface. I have known you formany years, ‘and I know that whatever task youhave undertaken you have discharged to the best of your ability I. have no- doubt that you will occupy your present position in such- a way that fairness and justice will be mated out to all honorable “ members, irrespective of party. I rose not merely to congratulate you upon .your elevation to! tile Speakership, but to congratulate you: also upon the fact: that the duties now devolving upon you will be less onerous than they were in the last Parliament, in which three separate parties participated in. the- debates. Carrying my mind back to the election of the Speaker in the last Parliament, I recall the fact that the occupant of the chair was congratulated by the head of the Government and by the Leader of1 the Opposition. Then there appeared another gentleman, who let it be known that there was a new party in Parliament, a party pure and undefiled before God, that was going to set an example to other parties in this country. The Leader of the third party also rose to congratulate the Speaker; and the reason why his party wished to add its congratulations was not so much because of its overflowing friendship towards the new Speaker, as because it desired to convey to Parliament, and’ to the country, the fact that a third clearlydefined party had’ come into existence on the floor of this House. At the present moment, however, there is nobody to speak mi- behalf of this party. If it ever was a separate entity, on the present occasion there is, unfortunately, no one to speak on its behalf, except the Leader of the Nationalist Government of this country. I congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, that henceforth you will have, not three parties to deal with, but only two. Reference’ has been made to the fact that the precedents of this Chamber are somewhat different from those of the Mother of Parliaments. We are informed, by the press that in the House of Commons it is- the usual practice to -have the Speaker elected unanimously and to permit the previous occupant of the position, to retire. I congratulate you that in this respect the precedents- of the Old Country have been followed with exactitude in the present case. There have- been a- unanimous election and a voluntary retirement. There has, however, been one slight dif- ference in that the voluntary retirement has taken the form of self-extermination in preference to being exterminated publicly by the forty-seven different entities in the present composite Government. I congratulate you upon your election, and I hope that if I ever go astray in debate you will temper justice with mercy. I do not ask you to- be impartial on all occasions, but to show some mercy to your old friends and associates. Whatever reasons prompted the Government in supporting your candidature for the Speakership,. I have not the slightest doubt that you will carry out your duties, with special ability, and that your sense of fairness will not be less than the ability you have shown throughout your life.

Mr SPEAKER (Et Hon W A Watt:

– I desire very earnestly to thank the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), and- the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) for their kind congratulations. I shall endeavour to prove worthy of the respect of the House. None of us, happily, is. infallible; if it were so, life would, scarcely be worth living. I assume that misunderstandings may arise between the Chair and- honorable members on the floor of the House which mutual forbearance alone can remove or prevent. “ Give and take “ is a very good motto for deliberative assemblies, and I’ am sure it will not be absent from the ninth Australian Parliament

Many old familiar faces have vanished from this Chamber, and whilst we bow cheerfully to the sovereign decision of the electors, older members cannot help feeling a comrade’s regret for those who fell in the recent battle. Many new members are with us, perhaps more than usual after a’ general election, and to them I may be allowed to say that, as representatives of the people, they will find a- ready welcome here. The presiding officers and the staff of the House will, I. am sure, do what they can to lighten the initial difficulties which seem to be inseparable from parliamentary life and procedure. T am grateful to honorable members for their kind congratulations, and I can- only say that I shall endeavour to deserve the merit and esteem that honorable members have been good enough to express.

page 24



– I have ascertained that it will be His Excellency’s pleasure to receive Mr. Speaker in the North Library, this day, at 2.45 p.m.

Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon W A Watt:

– Prior to my presentation to His Excellency the Governor-General the bells will ring for several minutes, so that any honorable members who may desire may attend in the chamber and accompany their Speaker, when they may, if they so desire, be introduced to His Excellency.

Sitting suspended from 11.58 a.m. to 2.1,8 p.m.

page 24


The House proceeded to the Library, there to present Mr. Speaker to His Excellency the Governor-General.

The House having reassembled,

Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon W A Watt:

– I have to report that, accompanied by honorable members, I proceeded to the Library of Parliament, and presented myself to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral as the choice of the House, and that His Excellency was kind enough to congratulate me on my election as Speaker.

page 24


The Usher op the Black Rod, being announced, was admitted, and delivered the message that His Excellency the Governor-General desired the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber forthwith.

Mr. Speaker and honorable members attended accordingly, and, having returned,

page 24


Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon W A Watt:

– I have received from His Excellency the Governor-General a commission giving me authority to administer the oath or affirmation of allegiance to members of the House.

page 24


Prime Minis- ister and Minister for External Affairs · Flinders · NAT

. -I have to announce to the House that the Right Hon. William Morris Hughes tendered to His Excellency the Governor-General his resignation as Prime Minister, and that His Excellency was pleased to accept it. I was thereupon requested by His Excellency to form an Administration and have done so. The offices have been allotted as follows : -

The Hon. Stanley Melbourne Bruce, M.C., to be Prime Minister and Minister of State for External Affaire.

The Hon. Earle Christmas Grafton Page to be Treasurer.

Senator the Right Hon. George Foster

Pearce, P.C., to be Minister of State for Home and Territories.

The Hon. Littleton Ernest Groom to be Attorney-General.

The Hon. William Gerrand Gibson to be Postmaster-General.

The Hon. Austin Chapman to be Minister of State for Trade and Customs and Minister of State for Health.

The Hon. Percy Gerald Stewart to be Minister of State for Works and Railways.

The Hon. Eric Kendall Bowden to be Minister of State for Defence.

The Hon. Llewellyn Atkinson to be Vice-President of the Executive Council.

Senator the Hon. Reginald Victor Wilson to be Honorary Minister.

Senator the Hon. Thomas William Crawford to be Honorary Minister.

I desire to advise honorable members that in the House of Representatives the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Mr. Atkinson) will represent the Minister for Home and Territories.


Bill, by leave, presented by Mr. Bruce, and read a first time.

page 24




– As the recent invasion of Germany by France may cause an outbreak of hostilities, will the Government make representations to the British Government, asking them to have the

League of Nations called together for the purpose of dealing with the vital questions of reparations and the occupancy of German territory? If this cannot be done, will he suggest to the British Government to convene an international conference, with the object of settling these vexed questions without recourse to war?


– The honorable member’s suggestions, which are of very much importance, will receive careful consideration.

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– I desire to advise honorable members that they will facilitate business by confining questions without notice, as required by the Standing Orders, to matters of urgent importance. Ministers will be able to give honorable members very much greater assistance if, in relation to matters not of the most urgent importance, they give notice of their questions.

page 23




– Will the Prime Minister lay on the table of the Library all the papers in connexion with the sale or lease of the ferry boatBiloela ?


-I shall look into the matter, and ascertain whether the papers can be made available as desired.

page 23




– Will the Prime Minister take into consideration the action of the Department of Repatriation, which has now been abolished, in issuing notices of eviction to many returned men occupying War Service Homes, particularly in the Newcastle district, where some of the men have not been in employment for twelve months? Will the honorable gentleman make some arrangements whereby in all deserving cases these men will be allowed to occupy their homes and meet later on their obligations in respect of them?


– I shall have the matter looked into.

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– Will the Prime Minister state whether the agreement recently entered into between the Commonwealth Government and Amalgamated

Wireless Limited has been carried out in detail up to the present date?


– I believe that the agreement has been carried out in detail. If, however, the honorable member will give notice of his question, I shall be able to furnish him with a more detailed reply.

page 23




– In view of the fact that since the formation of the present Economy Government the pensions payable to returned soldiers have been considerably reduced, and, in many cases, have been abolished, I desire to ask the Treasurer whether such action has been taken in accordance with instructions’ issued by the Government?


– There is no truth in the statement that such action is being taken, nor has such an instruction been issued.

page 23




– Is the Prime Minister aware of a report that recently in England a man who was described by the police as “ a dangerous criminal” was allowed by the magistrate before whom he was brought to be set at liberty on the understanding that, taking advantage of our immigration scheme, he would come to Australia? If the report has been brought under the honorable gentleman’s notice, will he at once take steps to prevent anything of the sort taking place?


– That matter has certainly not come under my notice, but should the facts be as stated, I shall take steps to prevent anything of the kind.

page 23




– What action does the Prime Minister propose to take regarding the Canungra and Beaudesert saw-mills, Queensland, which were purchased by the late Nationalist Government at a cost of £460,000 and closed down, thus throwing hundreds of men out of employment? Is he aware that it is estimated the depreciation in the value of the machinery alone amounts to approximately £100,000?


– As to the first part, it is not usual for the Government to outline its policy in answeringquestions. As to the second part, I suggest that it be placed on the notice-paper.

page 26




– I should like to know from the Prime Minister if there are any grounds for the reported statement that a company has made an offer to purchase the Commonwealth Line of Steamers?


– No such offer has been made.



– Will the Minister for Defence lay on the table, or make available to me, the evidence taken at the inquiry into misleading information given to this House in regard to my war services ?

Minister for Defence · PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · NAT

– I shall look into the papers, and let the honorable member know.

page 26




– Will the Prime Minister inform the House and the country what methods heused to make the Country party sink its identity and join the Government party?

Question not answered.


– Is the Prime Minister aware that the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) has ‘made a statement that members off the Country partyhold the offices of Treasurer, Minister of Works and Railways, PostmasterGeneral, and Assistant Minister of Trade and Customs, and that the Country party, therefore, has greater claim to control the Government than has the Nationalist party ?

Question not answered.

page 26




– Can the Prime Minister inform the House whether any offerhas been received for the Commonwealth Woollen Mills, and, if so, to what amount?


– Obviously, that is a question for the notice-paper. May I point out, however, that, even if thequestion were on the notice-paper, it could not be answered until the matter had been definitely dealt with? We have had offers, but we cannot publish amounts until the whole transaction is completed.

page 26




– I do notknow whether to address this question tothe Trea surer, the Minister for Defence, or the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Pratten), but I should like to know whether these gentlemen arepreparedto present a report to Parliament of what happened at the secret meeting held at Newportduring the early part of January, when arrangements were made for the formationof the socalled composite Ministry whichhas beenbroughtin to being?

Question not answered.

page 26




– In view of the public statement in this morning’s press to the effect that the Government intend to appoint a Board to consider what protection should be afforded to the sugar industry, are the sugar growers correct in assumingthat the present Federal Administrationhas no intention of renewing the existingsugar agreement, which will expire on the30th June, 1923 ?


– I sympathize with the honorable member’s thirst for knowledge astotheGovernment’s policy, but I am afraid I cannot inform him as to that policy in reply to questions.

page 26




– We are told in the Governor-General’s Speech that it is proposed in the near future to hold a Conference of State Premiers. Will the Prime Minister undertake that one of the special features of thatConference will be the question of immigration with a view to bringing the various States into line?


-I do not think that I am unduly disclosing the policy of the Government when I say that immigration will certainly be one of the principal questions considered.

page 27




– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a very important question. Do the Government propose to take cognisance of, and make a statement to the House in regard to, the serious charge which was made against the head of the last Government with regard to thesale to Japanese of land of strategic value? As the writ that was issued by the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) hasbeen abandoned, will the Government take cognisance of the charge, which is not now disputed,. and make a statement to the House in regard to it?


– I am aware of all the circumstances, and, in reply to the honorable’ member; I have to say that the Government do not propose to take the action proposed.

page 27




– Do the Government propose to take any action with regard to a serious charge made by Mr. Piddington in connexion with his appointment as a Judge to the High Court? Mr. BRUCE. - The Government do not propose to do so.

page 27




-In view of the statement that a Conference of the Commonwealth Government and representatives of the State Governments will shortly ‘be held, will the Treasurer look carefully into all the circumstances and history of the grant made by the Common wealth to Tasmania over a number of years, and give favorable consideration to the requests which are sure to be made by the Premier of that State, seeing that the grant expires on the 30th June?


– . I may reply to that question, seeing that, as Treasurer, I was very closely in touch with the matter, and know all the cimcumstances. That question will certainly be dealt with at the Conference of representatives of the States and the Commonwealth. But may I again ask honorable members to remember that most of the questions that are now being addressed to me are such as might very well appear on the notice-paper. It would be more satisfactory if notice were given of such questions; and it would certainly save the time of the House.

page 27




– What decision has been arrived at, if any, in regard to the sale of the Geelong Woollen Mill’s?


– No decision has yet been arrivedat. The matter isunder the consideration of the Cabinet at the present time.

page 27



Speech by High Commissioner.


– Has the attention at the Prime Minister been drawn to a speech made by the High Commissioner (Sir Joseph Cook) in England, in which that gentleman is reported to have said that the only unemployed in Australia are, those who do not. wish to get work? I ask the Prime Minister if, after investigating this matter, he finds the report of that speech to be a correct one, will he give a proper rebuke to the offending public servant?


– I have not seen the report of the speech referred to, but I shall take steps to find out what the High Commissioner actually did say.

page 27



MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General a question of vast interest and importance to the commercial and all other sections of the community. Is it the intention of the Government to bring in a measure to reduce the cost of postage here, which, as we all know, is much higher than elsewhere?

Postmaster-General · CORANGAMITE, VICTORIA · CP

– The question, refers to a matter of policy; and I cannot reply to it.

page 27




-Will the Minister for Works and Railways be good enough to inquire immediately into the urgent desirability of making provision for proper heating, arrangements in the new GeneralPostoffice, Perth, so that the comf ort of the staff therein employed may be properly cared for?

Minister for Works and Railways · WIMMERA, VICTORIA · CP

– I will have the matter looked into.

page 28




– Is it a fact that the Government intend to close the Commonwealth Harness Factory at Clifton Hill?


– The Government have already declared their intention to do so.

page 28




– In view of a statement made by the Secretary of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers’ League that a promise was made that at least one of the three members of the Public Service Superannuation Board would be a returned soldier, if all three members of that Board have not. yet been appointed, will the Prime Minister honour the promise referred to by appointing a returned soldier as the third member?


– I have no knowledge of any promise of the sort indicated. The present position is that the three appointments to the Board have actually been made.

page 28


The following papers were presented : -

Norfolk Island - Report of the Administrator for the year ended 30th June, 1922.

Postmaster-General’s Department - Twelfth Annual Report, 1921-22.

Ordered to be printed.

Arbitration (Public Service) Act -

Determination by the Arbitrator, &c. -

No. 21 of 1922 - Postal Sorters Union of Australia.

No. 22 of 1922 - Commonwealth Foremen’s Association.

No. 23 of 1922 - Australian Postal Electricians Union.

No. 24 of 1922 - Australian Postal Linemen’s Union.

No. 25 of 1922 - General Division Officers Union, Trade and Customs Department.

No. 20 of 1922 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.

No. 27 of 1922 - Commonwealth Postmasters Association.

No. 1 of 1923 - Federated Public Service Assistants Association.

No. 2 of 1923 - Commonwealth Telegraph Traffic and Supervisory Officers Association.

Audit Act - Transfers of amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council - Financial Year 1922-23- Dated 31st January, 1923.

Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1922, Nos. 138, 193.

Commercial Activities Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1922, No. 166.

Customs Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1922, Nos. 139, 140, 182.

Defence Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1922, Nos. 156, 157, 158, 159, 177, 178, 194, 195, 197 ; 1923, Nos. 2, 8, 9, 10.

Defence Act and Naval Defence Act-

Air Board Regulations - Statutory Rules 1922, No. 161.

Air Force Regulations - Statutory Rules 1922, No. 160.

Royal Military College. - Report for 1921- 22.

Defence Retirement Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1922, No. 196.

Electoral Act and Referendum (Constitution Alteration ) Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1922, No. 163.

Excise Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1922, Nos. 141, 171.

Excise Act and Excise Tariff - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1922, No. 183. ‘

High Court Procedure Act - Rules of Court - Rules re Sittings - Dated 1st November, 1922. Dated 13th December, 1922.

Income Tax Assessment Act -

Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1922, No. 150.

Regulations - Statutory Rules 1922, No. 200; 1923, No. 12.

Inscribed Stock Act - Dealings and Transactions during year ended 30th June, 1922.

Institute of Science and Industry Act - First Annual Report (18th March, 1921, to 30th June, 1922).

Land Tax Assessment Act - Regulations Amended- Statutory Rules 1922, No. 199.

Lands Acquisition Act - Lands acquired under, at -

Adelaide, South Australia - For Commonwealth Bank purposes.

Albert Park, Victoria - For Postal purposes.

Ballarat, Victoria - For Postal purposes.

Belgrave, Victoria - For Postal purposes.

Branxton. New South Wales - For Postal purposes.

Brighton, Victoria - For Postal purposes.

Carnegie. Victoria - For Postal purposes.

Cootamundra, New South . Wales - For Defence purposes.

Corfield, Queensland - For Postal purposes.

Dirranbandi, Queensland - For Postal purposes.

East Melbourne, Victoria - For Postal purposes.

Elsternwick, Victoria - For Postal purposes.

Fairfield, Victoria - For Postal purposes. Henley Beach, South Australia - For Postal purposes.

Hyde Park, South Australia - For Postal purposes.

Indooroopilly, Queensland - For Postal purposes.

Kununoppin, Western Australia - For Postal purposes.

Malanda, Queensland - For Postal purposes (in lieu of Paper presented 29th June, 1922).

Manjimupp, Western Australia - For Postal purposes.

Mayfield, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.

Mildura, Victoria - For Postal purposes. Millmerran, Queensland - For Postal purposes.

Neutral Bay, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.

Nungarin, Western Australia - For Postal purposes.

Outer Harbor, South Australia - For Postal purposes.

Owen, South Australia - For Postal purposes.

Port Kembla, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.

Sorrell, Tasmania - For Postal purposes. Sydney, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.

Tanunda, South Australia - For Postal purposes.

Thornbury, Victoria - For Postal purposes.

Wamberal, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.

Whyalla, South Australia - For Postal purposes.

Meat Export Bounties Act - Regulations -

Statutory Rules 1922, No. 181.

Nationality Act - Return for year 1922.

Naval Defence Act-

Naval Reserve Regulations - Statutory Rules 1922, No. 165.

Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1922, Nos. 164, 175, 176, 179; 1923, No. 1.

New Guinea Act -

Ordinances of 1922 -

No. 31- Timber (No. 2).

No. 32- Land (No. 2).

No. 33 - Native Administration.

No. 34 - Gaming.

No. 35 - Commerce (Trade Descriptions).

No. 36- Supply (No. 3) 1922-23.

No. 37 - Commerce (Trade Descriptions) (No. 2).

No. 38- Public Service (No. 3).

No. 39 - Native Administration (No. 2).

No. 40 - Birds and Animals Protection.

No. 41- Customs Tariff.

No. 42 - Laws Repeal and Adopting.

Ordinances of 1923 -

No. l-Land.

No. 2 - Administrator’s Powers.

No. 3 - Licences.

No. 4- Supply (No. 4) 1922-23.

Norfolk Island Act -

Preserved Fish Bounties Ordinance - Regu lations Amended.

Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Public Service Ordinance - Regulations Amended -

Dated 24th October, 1922.

Dated 6th February, 1923.

Ordinances of 1922 -

No. 15 - Jurors and Witnesses’ Payment (No. 2).

No. 16 - Taxation.

Ordinances of 1923 -

No. 1 - Registration of Firms.

Northern Territory Representation Act and

Electoral Act -

Regulations - Statutory Rules 1922, No. 154.

Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1922, Nos. 167, 168; 1923, No. 5.

Papua Act - Ordinances of 1922 -

No. 4 - Customs (Export) Tariff.

No. 5 - Appropriation 1921-22.

No. 6 - Supplementary Appropriation (No. 1 ) 1921-22.

No. 7- Supply (No. 1) 1922-23.

No. 8 - Supplementary Appropriation (No. 2) 1921-22.

No. 9 - Appropriation 1922-23.

No. 10 - Quarantine.

No. 11- Customs Tariff.

No. 12- Native (Half-Caste) Children.

No. 13- Bank Holidays.

No. 14 - Appropriation (No. 2) 1922-23. Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations

Amended -

Statutory Rules 1922, Nos. 83, 91, 92, 103, 115, 133, 134, 172, 173.

Statutory Rules 1923, Nos. 3, 11.

Public Service Act -

List of Permanent Officers of the Commonwealth Public Service as on 30th June, 1922.

Appointments and Promotions - Department of-

Health- Dr. R. E. Butchart.

Postmaster-General - R. P. Tate.

Prime Minister’s Department - R. Ford,

G. P. Gay, W. N. Rowse, F. G. Thorpe.

Trade and Customs - A. D. Allanson, W. L. Atkinson.

Treasury - W. F. Crace-Calvert, R. W. Hamilton, J. F. Hughes.

Works and Railways - J. Fleming, H. H. Paterson, H. W. Phillips.

Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1922, Nos. 137, 149, 152, 153; 1923, No. 4.

Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinance of 1922 - No. 6 - Noxious Weeds.

Shale Oil Bounty Act - Return for 1921-22 War Service Homes Act - Land acquired under, in -

New South Wales, at - Concord (2). Croydon, Deniliquin, Double Bay, East Maitland, East Moree, East Orange, Enfield, Gladesville, Goulburn, Granville, Hamilton (2), Lidcombe, Mascot, Parramatta, Randwick, Ryde,Undercliffe, Wauchope.

page 29


page 29


Mr. SPEAKER (Rt. Hon. W. A.

Watt). - I have to report that the House this day attended His Excellency the Governor-General in the Senate chamber, where His Excellency was. pleased to make a speech to both Houses of Parliament, of which f or greater accuracyI have obtained a copy. As honorable members have copies of the Speech in their hands, I presume that they do not desire me formally to read it.

Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -

That a Committee consisting of Mr. Hurry, Mr . Roland Green and the moverbe appointed to prepare an Address-in-Reply to the Speech delivered byHisExcellency the GovernorGeneral to both Houses of the Parliament, and that the Committee do report this day.

Sitting suspended from3.48 to 5 p.m.

The Committee having presented the proposed address, which was read by the Clerk,

Mr.HURRY (Bendigo) [5.1].-I move -

That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-Generals Speech be agreed to. -

May it please Your Excellency :

We the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, beg to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.

I must first express thanks, Mr. Speaker, for the cordiality of the reception which honorable members have given me. I take it that the demonstration may be looked upon as the usual thing in the case of a new member making his maiden effort. I feel that I am just upon the brink of my first plunge, and I trust that the water will notbe too cold. One never can tell, of course; but I am comforted and. fortified in the knowledge that all the older members of Parliament present have themselves taken their initial plunge; they have certainly borne up under the ordeal, and are today looking fairly well. I mentioned that it might be cold water into which I am about to plunge, but I am not at all sure that it may not be hot. That, however, will be for the future to discover. I regard the compliment which hasbeen paid to myself in being called upon to move the resolution, not as a personal matter, but as an honour to the constituency which I represent. I feel that it is indeed a tribute to the electorate of Bendigo.


– Those interjections lead me naturally to say a few words concerning the former honorable member for Bendigo, the. late Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes). Speaking as. a soldier, and for the soldiers of Australia; I am bound to say that we can: never forget what the right honorable gentleman and his Administration have done for us from the inception ofhis term of office as Prime Minister to recent days. The right honorable gentleman’s war record was a splendid one, and I emphasize that no man in Australia can forget it, although a good many are in danger of doing so. I congratulate the new Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) upon having attained to so high and responsible a post. I have no doubt that he will most worthily retain it. I congratulate him, further, upon the success of the task which he has recently been called upon to perform.

Mr Brennan:

– But did not the honorable gentleman promise to follow his. late Leader out?


– I understand that interjections are disorderly. If I am wrong I trust that I shall be pardoned, for. I have not yet had an opportunity to sufficiently acquaint myself with the forms and procedure of the House. Honorable members on this side, at any rate, congratulate the Prime Minister upon having achieved what was widely considered to be. an impossible job. He has brought the Fanners’ and the Nationalist parties together, and has formed a Government which appears to give promise of permanency. We ardently hope so, and have good reason to be thankful. The policies of the twoparties were so nearly alike that, when the Prime Minister and the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) got together, they found that there was, indeed, so little outstanding between their views that they were able without much difficulty to form a new Government. In congratulating the Prime Minister upon his achievement, I take the opportunity to congratulate also my old school and his - namely, Melbourne Grammar - upon having been able to produce a second Prime Minister to serve the Commonwealth.. The schools of this country, and our public schools in .particular, have set fine examples to our sons; they have ever maintained the highest ideals. We welcome the Country party to this new alliance with us. We believe that its outcome will .mean stable government - settled government, at all events, for some time to come”. We know that there have been many jealousies between the Country and Nationalist parties, but we believe that with mutual forbearance and generous consideration any such difficulties as may possibly crop up can ‘be overcome.

I take it that I shall not be expected to make a -very long speech, because, after all ‘the speech of His Excellency was not a ‘very long one. Certainly it was not as Jong as I had expected, and I feel sure that T. shall correctly estimate the feelings of honorable members if I make my own remarks correspondingly brief. We hope to see quite a number of things brought about before the Government go out of office. We are looking forward to a very considerable further development of Australia. We trust that such expansion will occur during the regime of the new Government, and I am confident that if we all pull together some very good national legislation will have been put into effect.

One of the main points which must come up for consideration at the proposed conference between the representatives of the Commonwealth and States is that of immigration. Considerable ‘©are will” have -to be exercised., .however. The Federation lias very little land of its own upon -which settlers < can i-be closely placed. Wie are’ bound, therefore, to make the necessary arrangements with the ‘States, which hold the land. The only way in which we, for our part, can render effective help will be in financing the States. When ‘we regard the vastness of this country and consider its powers of productivity, and when we remember its proximity to certain teeming peoples of the “East, we feel that our only chance of keeping Australia white - or, perhaps, of keeping it- at all - lies in the direction of a ‘great access of population. Our Motherland has an overflowing population, and .she is only too ready to send her. surplus people to us. Moreover, she has ‘millions of money for investment in new lands ; and there is -no better place than this to which the Imperial Government could send new settlers and direct money for national investment. I trust that the people who come out to the Commonwealth will not be of that type which gravitates inevitably to the cities, but will be very ‘ready and willing co settle on the -land and become prosperous producers. There should’ bo a wonderful future for Australia, if and when wo secure a ten times greater population. We would then be producing enormously, and we would be required to considerably extend both our local and our overseas markets. All these factors must receive the closest consideration. I trust that the outcome of the proposed conference will be to provide successful working arrangements between the Commonweath and the States.

The question of duplication of “Stateand Commonwealth activities is another which ‘has ‘been exercising the public mind. I need not refer to all the duplications, but will mention as an example those in the realms of income and land tax, gathering. The taxpayer likes nothing less than the task of making up a multiplicity of returns; it is no wonder that the average man is ever ready to consign all the various tax-gathering officials to the utmost depths. The sooner this unreasonable and unecessary duplication is ended, the better for everybody.

Our public debt is considerable, but when we regard our vast resources we should not be fearful. If we maintain our sinking fund, and if we can look forward to reasonably good seasons, we ought, with decent financing, to be able to rub out our liabilities in a comparatively little while. The matter of our finances must be very closely examined by the Government, and consideration should .be given, not only to our financial relations with the States, but with the Motherland also. I have been pleased to read of the splendid arrangement which the Victorian Premier has just been able to ma’ke in London with respect to a loan for ‘this State. His success may be taken .as a happy augury for the Commonwealth authority should it be required to borrow again , before long. -Mr. Lawson ‘s success indicates that there is unbounded confidence in Great Britain regarding ;the future -of Australia,.

I have been much struck during the past few days by it-he- character of .several addresses which the Prime Minister has given in various parts of the Commonwealth. The right honorable gentleman has pleaded for unity and for a national outlook. We should do all that we canto foster those ideals to the utmost. Honorable members will remember that when our soldiers reached the other side of the world they made a great reputation for Australia. In speaking of soldiers, I refer not merely to captains, majors, dr even generals, of whom, there are a few in this Parliament, but to the ordinary privates, who enlisted to the number of about 300,000, of whom 60,000, unfortunately, left their bones on the other side of the world. What was the spirit that animated those men ? Was it not the spirit of Australia - the spirit which our Prime Minister wishes the people of Australia to display at the present time ? These men did not go abroad merely because they wanted to fight, but because they wanted Australia to come out on top. They possessed the national spirit of Australia, and it was that alone which enabled them to overcome the great- difficulties which they had to face. When we think of the awful weather they had to endure, and the heavy packs, rifles, and picks which they had to cany, we must admit that nothing short cf an inspiration like that could have been the foundation of their endurance. If we could only translate that spirit into our present-day activities in Australia, we could not go far wrong. If we could only get together a little more, get rid of the imaginary barriers that now separate us, sink our differences, and work for the benefit, not of a particular section of the people, but of the whole of Australia, we would not need to have any fear but that we would be able to lift this splendid country of ours into the very front rank of the nations.


.- It is indeed with an enormous amount of pleasure that I rise to second the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. Although I am fully cognisant of my own shortcomings as a speaker on ordinary occasions, the task of making my first speech in this House is particularly difficult. The only fact which encouraged me in accepting the honour that was offered to me was that I knew I could rely upon the forbearance and toleration- of the older members towards one who has just come among them. Although possibly after a few moments they may be somewhat bored; for they then will be kept busy forming their estimate of the calibre of new-comers. I can give them the cheering news that I shall be very brief. That, I have been given to understand, is essential.

The first thing that strikes me particularly, as an Australian of the fourth generation, is the very important fact that every member of the Cabinet is Australianborn. Although I am aware that much has been done for Australia in the past by our forbears, it is gratifying to know that we have now got beyond the swaddling-clothes stage. We have men in this country who were born, reared, and educated in it, and have absorbed into, their very bones the spirit of Australia. These are the mcn who will carry on. In saying that, I make no reflection on any persons who have come to this country and were not born here, but it is of great interest to know, and it is better for Australia, that her own sons should govern this country. Particularly noteworthy,’ also, is the fact that the two leaders of the Ministry are both returned soldiers. That fact should give returned soldiersgenerally an expectation of things to come. These two leaders have shown their willingness to serve their country overseas, and to give, if Ihe necessity should arise, their very lives for it. Now they have returned to Australia, and are in the legislative halls, where they will give of their best to their country in another way, by bringing their great mental capabilities, which no one can deny they possess, to bear upon the great problems confronting us at the present time, when the war has not ceased to worry us. Although there may be divergencies of opinion between honorable members sitting on the Government side of the House - differences on questions of detail, and sometimes on larger and more important matters - still they are only differences of viewpoint. Take, for instance, Parliament House. If one looked at it from Springstreet one would get an entirely different view-point from that which would be obtained if one looked at it from the back. The central fact would remain, however, that it would still be Parliament House, and the difference would merely be a difference of view-point and of attitude, of. mind. I think that every honorable member of the House, wherever he sits, is agreed upon the big central fact that Parliament must govern and legislate for the benefit of this country as a whole and for the prosperity of its citizens, whether they be old or young, rich or poor, city dwellers or men and women out-back - those sturdy pioneers who are battling still to make this country what it should be - the finest on God’s earth. We can do that for this Australia of ours, and it should be done.

I may mention one way in which we can help the people out-back. The PostmasterGeneral’s Department can give, and I am sure will give, increased facilities for telephonic and telegraphic communication. That Department can also assist .the settler out-back in many other ways.

A question that must be taken up is decentralization. It has been a phrase, a “ plank “ in the platforms of political parties for many years past. 1 am sure the time will come when decentralization will no longer be a party joss or merely an abstract phrase, but will become something definite and tangible. Instead of decentralization being a mere formal expression of policy, we want it to be an actuality. During the life of this Parliament, honorable members will have an opportunity of discussing the subdivision of Australia, and deciding upon decentralization in whatever way they think fit. Incidentally, there will be the question of the creation of now States. Decentralization must be made an accomplished fact, and no longer allowed to remain just a phrase in the platforms of the various political parties.

Another way in which those out-back can be helped is in the stabilization of our various primary industries, whether they exist for the production of butter, sugar, wheat, or anything else.- In the near future, no doubt, sugar will be discussed in this House. This great industry cannot be allowed to languish. It means much to Australia, and it must be helped, along with the fruit and other industries that depend upon it, and, at the same time, the interests of the consumers must not be lost sight of. An endeavour should be made to give a fair deal to all, and I am sure that this House, in its collective wisdom, will find a means of doing so.

I also wish to refer to a small incident that occurred this morning. It may have been only a lapsus linguae on the part of you, Mr. Speaker, when you referred to “ two parties “ in this House. There are three parties iti this House, and two of them have seen fit, in their wisdom, to enter into a partnership. Each party, however, is separate and distinct. Something had to be done to enable the government of the country carried on, and the two parties entered into a partnership for that purpose, just as two men might enter into a partnership for carrying on any business. Each party, just as each man in a partnership business, is separate and distinct from the other. The Country party and the Nationalist party are working together for the ultimate benefit of Australia, irrespective of what may be said to the contrary. I could not allow ar opportunity to pass without stressing the fact that the Country party, although its members have gone into the composite Ministry with the best of intentions, in the hope of being able to do something in collaboration with our friends to carry on the government of the country, is still a free and distinct entity. As our Leader has said, we can retire, if necessary, with our lines of communication intact.

I have the honour to represent a constituency that has often been called “ the garden of Australia.” I am sure it will come as a very great surprise to honorable members to know that the bulk of that constituency - I refer to the more populous areas of it - is absolutely unconnected in any way by rail with the rest of Australia.

Mr West:

– That is a State matter.


– Exactly ; but I mention it, as I wish this House to understand why I have stressed the need for consideration being shown, to the people in rural areas. Their needs must be looked after. They have been too long neglected. They have been put off, and have been foolish enough time after time to accept promises made by time-serving politicians who spoke withtheir tongues in their cheeks. Those are the reasons why I bring forward these particular matters. Whatever its origin, anything for the benefit of Australia, anything that will do good to the men and women out-back, will receive my hearty support. When my time of usefulness in this Chamber is finished, I hopeI shall be able to go out and say,as the late Mr. Justice Pring said in Sydney, “ Ihave done my duty; no man could do. more; no man should do less.”

Debate (on motionby Mr.Charlton) adjourned.

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.- It is my pleasure and privilege to move -

That the honorable member for Herbert, the Hon. Frederick William Bamford, be appointed Chairman of Committees of this House.

Elected to the first Parliament of the Commonwealth, the honorable member, still in the fullpossession of his physical and mental faculties, is, by reason of age and continuous membership, the “father of the House.” He has held high office under the Crown, and has been connected with many parliamentary activities. For a decade past he has been TemporaryChairman of Committees, and for a ‘time was Acting Speaker. I believe it will be acknowledged that during that time he carried out his duties without bias and in a manner satisfactory in every way to the members of the various Parliaments.His appointment as. Chairman of Committees will carry with it the DeputySpeakership. The past record of the honorable member fully entitles him to be elected to this high and honorable position, and I hope that the motion will meet withthe approval of all honorablemembers.


-I have pleasure in seconding the motion. After what has been said by the mover.

I do not think it is necessary for me to add anything regarding the qualifications of the honorable member for Herbert. During my service in this House I have been convinced of his ability and impartiality, and I believe that he will beas good a Chairman asany this House has had in thepast.. I have watched his career during the long period forwhich he has represented an electorate in the State from which I come; I know that he enjoys the confidence of nearly the whole of the people ofthat State, who will learn with pleasure of his appointment to the high and honorable position for whichhehas beenproposed.

Mr.BRENNAN (Batman) [5.34].- I move-

That thehonorablemember for Denison, the Hon. David JohnO’Keefe, be appointed Chairman of Committees of this House.

The honorable member, in the course of a long and honorable political career in another place, has gained the advantage of a rich experience in the discharge of the duties ofChairman of Committees, and I think that in every respect, both personal and political, his appointment to a similar position in this House would be a success. The carrying of my motion would have the further effect of convincing a sceptical public that there is no suggestion ofpartisanship or party in the appointment of the men who are to preside over the deliberations of this House and its Committees. I have no personal objection to the honorable member for Herbert, but I have strong political objections to him, as he knows, and that objection is shared by many of my fellow members. But on the broad ground that the honorable member for Denison is the better fitted by experience and capacity to fill the position of Chairman of Committees, I submit my motion to the House.


.- I second the nomination of the honorable member for Denison (Mr. O’Keefe). I have no desire to reflect upon- the candidature of the honorable member for Herbert, but I believe that the honorable member for Denison has proved himself better qualified to hold the position of Chairman of Committees. He has been in public life for very many years, and has held some high and responsible positions. His actions have proved him to be a fair-minded man who may be relied uponto carry out the duties of Chairman in a proper manner.

Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon W A Watt:

– When there is more than one nomination for the position of Chairman ofCommittees, they are put to the House in the order of presentation. I shall, therefore, firstput the motion moved by the honorable member for Martin and. seconded by the honorable member for Maranoa, “ That the honorable member for Herbert (the Hon. Frederick William Bamford) be appointed Chairman of Committees.”

Questionresolved in the affirmative.


.- I appreciate very highly the honour that has . been done me. As the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Pratten) has pointed out, I have for many years discharged the duties of Temporary and Acting Chairman and have served as Acting Speaker, and therefore I felt that I was justified iia accepting” nomination for the position; of Chairman of Committees-. It is a great honour for any man to be appointed to preside over the deliberations of this National Assembly, and I regard my appointment as a compliment, not only to ‘ myself, but . also to_ my electorate, and incidentally to the State “of Queensland. I am following in office a man who had long experience in the chair, and I hope that my own experience in a temporary capacity will- be useful to- me. I shall also have the advantage’ of the assistance of the officers at the table who are experts in. parliamentary procedure. In those circumstances, I believe I shall be able to give satisfaction to the Committee when I am presiding over it. When I have had the honour of occupying the chair in other Parliaments, I have always endeavoured to be impartial, and to maintain the1 standards, set by those who had’ preceded me.

Mr Fenton:

– Did- the- honorable- member ever put another1 member- out of the chamber?


– Not yet, and I trust that that unpleasant duty may never- devolve upon me. You-, Mr. Speaker, suggested to-day _ that in the conduct ot the business of an assembly of this-‘ sorb there must be a. certain amount of give andi take. I hope that there will not be too much give, because I do not suppose that either you- or I will care to enjoy the- .taking. Whilst in the chair I shall’ endeavour to conduct the business- in. an impartial, way, and with a due regard bo decorum. We have always to bear in mind that this is the National Parliament of Australia, and, therefore, the responsibility rests upon us to- preserve decorum in the conduct of our proceedings. ‘ It should never be said of this Parliament, as has been said of others, that it is “ nothing but a bear garden.” I shall endeavour also to preserve the rights andprivileges which are inherent in members of this House. I thank the- honorable member for Martin and’ the honorable member for Maranoa for having respectively proposed and seconded my nomina tion; and am. convinced that I- will fully justify the- confidence reposed in me. I am not surprised that the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) should have proposed another honorable member as Chairman., but I am more than surprised that his nomination should have been seconded by the honorable member for Dalley, whose action was not consistent with his remarks to me on various occasions in other places. I again thank the- House for the honour which it has done me

Mr Mahony:

– I rise to make a personal explanation. The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford) in his concluding^ remarks cast a grave reflection upon me. My reasons- for seconding the nomination of the honorable member for Denison concern nobody but myself. . The honorable member for Herbert insinuated that I had. promised, to. support his candidature. That is a serious- reflection to make upon me as a member of the Labour party. I repudiate- the insinuation and I challenge the honorable member to name any occasion on which I said I would support him. I admire him personally as a man and a friend, but we are in. different political”, camps, and hecannot presume upon our personal, friendship to claim my support of his- nomination for a political appointment.

(Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs · Flinders · NAT

’. - I congratulate the honorablemember for Herbert upon, his election, to the position of Chairman of Committees. He has been, described as “ the father of the House “ -and it is perhapssuitable that as such he should preside over our deliberations in Committee. What is more to the point is- that he enjoys our very great respect and even affection, and I am sure that all the- members of. the House will be glad that he is to be out Chairman of Committees. We are very glad to hear his indication of firmness in the discharge of his duties We desire firmness in our. presiding officers, because we- realize’ that firmness is. conducive to efficiency. I have every confidence that; as Chairman of Committees, the honorable member will perform his duties in an admirable and impartial manner.


.- I . “ desire to offer the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford*) the congratulations. o£ the Opposition on his election to the important position of Chairman! of

Committees. The honorable member as Temporary Chairman has always given general satisfaction. It is true, as has been said, that while acting in that capacity he has never had occasion to suspend an honorable member. That is a record.


– And I hope that he will not.


– I hope not. I can assure the honorable member for Herbert that the Opposition hope to give him no occasion to exercise his powers in that respect. We shall extend to him every assistance in the discharge of his onerous duties, and I feel confident that he will endeavour to carry out impartially the work attaching to his new position.

page 36


Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -

That the House at its rising adjourn until to-morrow at 2.30 p.m.

page 36


Commonwealth Bank : Board of Control - Queensland Sugar Industry: Sugar Agreement

Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -

That the House do now adjourn.


.- I have received from the secretary of a public meeting which was held at Parkstreet, Sydney, on the evening of the 18th instant, the following resolution, a copy of which has been forwarded to the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) and the leaders of all political parties in this House. The speakers at the meeting were Messrs. J. A. Wright and J. M. Scott, and the motion, which was carried without opposition, on a show of hands, reads as follows : -

This meeting of citizens emphatically objects to the proposal of the Federal Government to create a Board of Control for our Commonwealth Bank, and looks at the suggestion as disloyal to Australia and as a treacherous attempt engineered by overseas diplomacy to hamper the Governor of our Bank in his great work of financing Australia into a powerful nation. We are well aware that the cause of Australia’s small population is solely due to the deliberate restrictive finance practised by the private banking companies here, under London’s instructions, and the shipment abroad by these banks of our citizens’ money placed with them, in order to finance London; and we suggest to Dr. Earle Page and his colleagues that a Royal Commission be appointed to inquire into the overseas control of the banking companies here; and we also suggest that the whole of the private banking be brought under the domination of our great Commonwealth Bank, and that these institutionsbe compelled to finance our secondary industries. We suggest that a Board of Control be created in each country centre to dominate the private banks to force the financing of our country towns and secondary industries in the country to the extent of the bank deposits in each centre (banks nowadays finance our country less than 25 per cent. of the deposits). The increased country finance will cause a flow of desirable people from abroad to participate in our Australian prosperity and our empty spaces will automatically increase in population. We claim that the key to Australian development and local patriotism is in the banking business. An analysis of the financial juggle called “ Borrowing in London” will prove that Australia received neither credit, goods, nor money in return for our bonds placed in London,” and that the so-called public debt due to London is really a banking debt clue from London to Australia, and that our country hasbeen financing the British Isles and about one-third of the world since 1851.

Capricorn ia

.- Before the House adjourns I wish, as a representative of one of the sugar-growing districts of Queensland, to record my emphatic protest against the indifference shown by the present, as well as the late, Administration towards the great sugar industry of that State. During the recent Federal election campaign all kinds of promises were made by Nationalist candidates in the northern State, and some were to the effect that if they were returned there would be a renewal of the existing sugar agreement. We find, however, that the present composite Ministry, which embraces the whole of the anti-Labour forces in this Parliament, is hurrying into recess without doing anything to bring about a renewal of the agreement. The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford), and the honorable member for Wide Bay, when seeking re-election, definitely promised the sugar-growers of Queensland that it would be renewed.. The only indication we have had as to the intentions of the Government regarding the sugar industry is to be found in this morning’s issue ofthe Melbourne newspapers, in which we have the statement that-

Mr. Bruce informed members that it had been decided to refer the question of the import duty on sugar to a special tribunal that would recommend the fixing of a price that) would be fair to all parties concerned.

We have heard before of promises of that kind. This statement on the part of the Prime Minister means nothing. It is shelving the question. The present sugar agreement will expire on ?>0th June ‘next, and the sugar-growers of Queensland have a right to expect from the Government a definite pronouncement on die subject. They are entitled to expect that the pledges that were given to them during the recent campaign will be honoured.

I do not intend in this motion for the adjournment of the House to dwell at length on this matter. I shall deal with it more fully at a later, date, but- I wish at this, the first opportunity, to enter my protest against the inaction of the Government. In order to show that I am not indulging in mere general statements, I shall quote what the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) said when he was wooing the electors of Wide Bay, amongst whom there are many sugargrowers, and appealing to them for their votes. The honorable member, speaking at Nambour,- said, as reported in the Brisbane Daily Mail of 29th November last -

If the Nationalist Government is returned to power “ further sugar proposals will lie sub mitted, and I feel confident that the existing sugar agreement will be renewed. In view of this statement, the sugargrowers in the honorable member’s electorate naturally expect- that the Government will renew the present sugar agreement. The honorable member for Wide Bay was not alone in giving that definite promise. The honorable member for Herbert, I am told, telegraphed to scores of centres in his electorate telling the people that if he were elected there would be a renewal of the present sugar agreement, and that he would at once move to that effect.

Mr Bamford:

– The honorable member is in error.


– I have not come unprepared to substantiate my statement concerning the honorable member. I shall give the House my authority foi it, and there are in the gallery at the present moment representatives of the United Cane-growers Association who will bear me out.

Mr Bamford:

– I said that if the Nationalist party were returned there would be a renewal of the agreement.


– I -shall quote from a letter addressed to the editor of the Bris bane Daily Telegraph by Mr. W. B. Biggs, of Proserpine^ on 19th January last, the statements that were made by the honorable member. The letter .is as follows : -

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To the Editor - Sir, - In view of the assertion that it was doubtful if Queensland favoured a continuance of the sugar agreement, and taking into consideration the result of the Queensland elections, I wish to make it quite clear that the Nationalists’ candidates of Queensland all pledged themselves to a continuance of the agreement,’ which was in direct opposition to tlie policy of the Nationalist party, as given by Mr- Hughes. Thi; following were put to Afv. Bamford at his election meeting at Proserpine by me: -

I appeal to the House to say whether the honorable member has honoured that definite promise which he made to the canegrowers of the Proserpine district when he was appealing for their votes. The letter continues -

Mr. Bamford expressed himself us being dubious about the latter. - about the sincerity of the Country party and the Labour party in regard to the renewal of the sugar agreement -

As one in the industry, I trust you will publish the above, so as to make the position clear. - Yours, &c,

B. Biggs.

Proserpine, 19th January

That letter puts the position clearly from one in the industry, and shows that, the people of Queensland during the recent Federal campaign were misled by Nationalist candidates, some of whom won the election by telling the people that if they were returned there would be a renewal of the present sugar agreement.

We should look at this very important question of sugar from, an Australian, and not from a parochial, stand-point. It is a great national question, and .with it is interwoven that of the White Australia policy, which is of vast concern to the whole continent. We have in Australia approximately1, 149,000 square miles of territory within the tropics, and we must foster the great sugar-growing industry, which is the only one that will enable us to settle the people there. The present Government has not clone the fair thing by the sugar -growers of Queensland, but I appeal even at this late hour to the Prime Minister to give the fullest consideration to requests for a renewal of the present agreement which will be made to him in the course of the next few days. The sugar industry of Queensland is worth £9.500.000 to the people.It gives employment to 22.000 persons, and a sum of £6,000,000 per annum is paid in wages in connexion with it. Some 4,000 men from Victoria and other States go to Queensland every year and gain there a living in the industry, and keep their wives and families in New South Wales and Victoria. Furthermore, while hundreds of thousands of pounds worth ofmachinery from the southern States are sold throughout the sugar districts of Queensland, the southern foundries benefit. In view of these facts it cannot be said that the industry helps only the State of Queensland. It helps the whole of Australia. In the northern part of the continent, where the mining and cattle industries are languishing,we should foster the great sugar industry. It is the duty of the present Government, even at this late hour, to endeavour to live up to the promises made by honorable members opposite when they were seeking, by, I fear, false pretences, to secure the votes of the people of Queensland.

Later on I shall discuss the sugar industry in detail. At this juncture I do not intend to detain the House. I hope, in the course of my speeches in this Chamber, to be able to place before honorable members opposite sufficient facts to convince them-, as well as the people of the southern parts of Australia that the sugar-growers of Queensland have a just claim. If the people of Australia had been called upon during the period 1915-1921 to pay world’s parity for their sugar it would have cost them £12,000,000 more than they actually had to pay.


– It is not rubbish. I do not wish to delay the House, but, in view of the honorable member’s interjection, I shall quote figures I have obtained from a well -authenticated source as to the price of sugar in Australia., and the world’s parity during the period to which I have referred. The figures are as follow -

The Queensland sugar industry saved the people of Australia during this period mentioned £12,329,950. The Government should do the fair thing by the sugargrowers. The existing agreement should be renewed. Unhappily the Government, by subterfuge and trickery, have fooled the sugar-growers of Queensland. I appeal to them now to retrace their steps and do the right thing. Due credit would be given them if they came forward and treated this vast national industry as it should be treated. .

Wide Bay

.- I should like to say a few words by way of personal explanation. I do not for a moment wish to say that the new member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde)has made an untrue statement willingly; I have been too long in Parliament to myself make such a stupid statement as that–

Mr Blakeley:

– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) is entirely out of order in applying the word “untrue”’ to the statement of the honorable member forCapricornia (Mr. Forde).

Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon W A Watt:

-If the honorable member for Wide Bay used such a term in such an application, it was not parliamentary.


– What I said was that I believed that the honorable member for Capricornia did not intentionally misrepresent me. I could never have made such a statement as that attributed to me-. What I did say onthe public platform, and what I repeat here, is that if the Nationalist party were returned to power I was convinced that justice would be done to the sugar industry in the shape of a renewal of the sugar agreement in some varied form - I specially stressed that point, because I knew there was no prospect of a renewal on the old terms - or that a Board or pool would be provided, and adequate protection given in the shape of a duty onimported sugar. That was what I said, and what I now stand by. The honorable member forCapricornia belongs to the party in Opposition, but I do not remember my friend the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), when at Maryborough, in my electorate, saying that he was in favour of a renewal of the agreement as it stands to-day; in fact, he never did say so. I hope that what has occurred this afternoon here will act as a warning to the honorable member forCapricornia to think well before he makes accusations so serious.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at6.3 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 February 1923, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.