House of Representatives
2 March 1923

9th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr. Speaker (Rt. Hon.W. A. Watt) took the chair at 11 a.m. and read prayers.

page 119


No-Confidence Amendment

Debate resumed from 1st March (vide page 119), cm motion by Mr. Hurry -

That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral be agreed to by this House : -

May it please Your Excellency -

We, the Houseof Representatives of the Parliament of theCommonwealth 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.

Upon which Mr. Anstey had moved, by way of amendment -

That the following words be added to the proposed Address: - “but we regret that this House views with disapprobation the conduct of the Government in meeting Parliament with a Speech containingno evidence of any public policy. There is no mention of any intended policy upon the subjectof international trade, which the Head of the Governmenthasasserted to be fundamental to the progress and prosperity of Australia. There is no mention of a policy on the Sugar Agreement, which expires next June. There is no mention of a policy relating tothe development of internal trade, which is so vital to the employment of our people, but on the contrarythe admin istrative methods pursued by the Government accentuate ‘Unemployment. .

There is no mention of theattitude of the Government towards Arbitration, towards the Oil and Wireless Agreements, or towards Oldage and Invalid Tensions. The Speech makes no mention as to whether the Government intends to investigate the War Service Homes and other matters of maladministration exposed last sessionby the Labour party.

In brief, this Government, which claimsto be a Government of business men, gives no evidence of such qualification. There is not one subject in His Excellency’s Speech upon which is given a definite, a concrete, ox a composite opinion.

Under these circumstances, and in view of the peculiar methods under which this Government was formed, and in view of the fact that thisGovernment discloses an unseemly haste to reach the havenof a recess of several months’ duration, tUus leaving in abeyance the discussion of. these subjects vital to tbe welfare of our country, this House deems it necessary to protest and (iei-lare that this Government does not possess its confidence.”


.- When we adjourned last evening I was dealing with the position in tho Northern Territory. Iu view of what has been said by Mr. Crnmpton Wood, the British expert, regarding the great potentialities of thut part of the continent, and its adaptability to cotton production, the Commonwealth should join with the Queensland State ‘Government iu linking up the northern portions of Queensland with the Territory by means of a railway from Oloncurry to the terminus of the railway now running from Port Darwin down to Pine Creek. Bail way construction should precede land settlement. If we are going to ask the young men of Australia, or those who arc comirjg here . from other countries, to settle on this sparsely-populated territory, we should do the decent thing by them ‘ by taking “ the first opportunity to link up . these two railway systems. I am convinced that if that were done laud settlement would rapidly follow, and that, instead of vast areas up there being uninhabited as thoy are to-day, we should soon have on t-hein many thousands of men leading prosperous lives in the cultivation of cotton and sugar enne. Wliatcvor can be grown elsewhere in similar regions can be grown in the Northern Territory and the northern parts of Queensland. Sugar, cotton, rice, tea - almost ‘anything one chooses to mention - can be produced there.


– ‘Do not forget to mention the Kimberleys.


– The Kimberley district comprises great cattle-raising country. 1 have not been there, but I beliovo that parts of the north-west of Western Australia are equal to anything in the Northern Territory. As Aus- tralians, charged with the responsibility of settling the Northern Territory, we cannot afford to idle any longer.’ ‘ ‘ The problem has ‘to be tackled, and if the Government will tackle it courageously and attempt to settle the Northern Territory with a white ‘population it will gain the everlasting gratitude of the people of the Commonwealth.

There are in- our midst people, and,’ unfortunately, even Australians, who say that the Northern Territory and Queensland are a black man’s country. We have Sir nenry Barwell, the Premier of South Australia, advocating the settle- - mont of the Northern Territory by black labour. I am rather ashamed that any man claiming to be an Australian should say. that that great, rich and fertile portion of the continent is fit only for black settlement. I repudiate the statement, and - repeat that, in the whole of Australia, there is uo finer spot than the Northern Territory. I trust that the Government will tackle the problem in a courageous manner, aud that -within the next few years we shall have a linking up of tho two lines to which I have referred. If that be done then the country so served, with its fine ports of Townsville and Darwin, will have, within the next ten or twelve years, a flourishing population of white men and women.

Mr Maxwell:

– And children.


– With a virile population that naturally follows. I presume that’ the present’ Government will be saddled, to a very large extent, with the sins of the Administration that has just gone out of power. Thero is one complaint that I wish to voice on the floor of tho House to-day.. It relates to the treatment of some of bur returned soldiers, and more particularly to the treatment of Private- Wesley Giddings. Private Giddings spent some three years at the Front. While there he was shot through the muscles of the back, the bullet grazing the spine, and he was invalided home. He has been an invalid ever since, and some eighteen months or two years after his return to Australia was sent to an asylum. He was sent - not to Mont Park, but to the Kew Asylum. I know this young man. I have known him from boyhood, and say unhesitatingly that there is no finer specimen of manhood, physicallyor montally, in Australia. His father succeeded as a business man. The himself and all his brothers also succeeded in business. He was . one of the finest athletes in Australia, and yet the departmental heads, . or the Government that has just gone out. of power, have had the cold audacity to insinuate that he is suffering from an hereditary complaint. No more cruel insinuation could be cast at any man. It is a crying shame that this young-man. to-day should be an inmate of an asylum for the insane when he ought to be spending or ending his days - and they will not be long - among his mates at Mont Park. I have appealed to the ‘Deputy Commissioner and to the Department to release this man, and to allow him to spend his remaining days with his mates at Mont Park. My appeals, however, have been of no avail. The authorities have turned a deaf ear to them, and have said that, on investigation, and still further investigation, they find there is no ground to justify the Department assuming the responsibility for his keep. I am going to have something further to say on this matter when the House re-assembles. Meantime I ask the Government of the day to he humane and fair, and to consider the case of this young man. I appeal to the responsible Minister as soon as the House rises to consider this man’s case, .and for the sake of his honoured father and mother to give him a chance. Let him go to Mont Park, and not die in the asylum “in which he is to-day. It stands to the everlasting disgrace of” the Department that this young soldier, who served his country - this fine intelligent young man should, merely because of a rotten policy of economy, be forced to end his day3 in an asylum.

Mr Mahony:

– The Government were glad enough to take him for the war.


– That is so.

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

– When he was passed, by the doctors that was proof that he was fit to fight for Australia, and the Government should now accept responsibility for him.


– Apparently those in authority do not desire to accept responsibility for having to pay to have this man properly looked after.

The Prime Minister told us yesterday that there could be no letting up upon expenditure on the defence of this country. Australia paid £S,500 to send Senator Pearce to the Washington Conference. He was away for something like four months, and about half the time he spent on the water going to and from America. On his return to Australia he charged us £3,500, and reported that the

Pacific was safe for another ten years. That was the verdict of the Washington Conference as reported by Senator Pearce, but we now have the Prime Minister telling us that our gigantic Defence expenditure must be continued.

Mr Bruce:

– I never said that.


– It was said, at any” rate, that there could be no letting up in the matter of Defence expenditure. We were told that we have to realize that the position in Europe to-day is such that we cannot afford to rest on our oars, and that means that we must continue to spend money by the million on the defence of the country. We are not justified in assuming at the same time two contradictory propositions. Either we are safe in the Pacific for the next ten years or we are not. If Senator Pearce, on his return from the United States of America, voiced the opinion of the experts at the Washington Conference, why should we continue to spend millions for the defence of this country, when fear of any invasion of Australia is very largely mythical? I am prepared to cut down expenditure on defence to Ihe last possible shilling, because’ I realize that there is a tremendous debt hanging over “the people of this country, and sooner or later we shall be called upon to grapple with great financial questions.

The Prime Minister asked us yesterday to try to visualize and understand the great problems confronting the people of Australia. We have visualized them, and are trying to understand them, and if measures. are brought forward by the* Government which will be of a progressive character, and will tend at the same time to curtail our great expenditure, the Government will have no cause to complain of the support which they will be 1 given from honorable members of the Labour party. The Prime Minister claims to he as democratic and progressive as any honorable member on this side. We are glad to hear that, and hope that he will give proof of his statement. We hope that he will himself realize, as he has asked us to do, the great problems which have to be dealt with, and that he will not be content to follow the old conservative route traversed by past Governments, and especiallyby that which has just gone out of power.We hope that he will act as a big Australian, realizing that his Government is charged with the responsibility ofblazing the track, so to speak, in democratic legislation, and doing so regardless of the criticism of press or of individuals.” If the Government are prepared to , get out of the old conservative rut, and come forward with a hold progressive policy to meet the wishes of the people of Australia, the criticism from this side will not be so severe as it certainly will be if they continue the old conservative policy of marking time, and submitting merely palliatives to meet circumstances arising at a particular time, and the wishes of their Conservative friends. If the Government considers that an adjournment is necessary in order thatthey may have time to draw up their programme, let them name the day. Honorable members on this side have no serious objection to them retiring for four or five weeks if they think that they will require that time in which to clean up the work of the Departments and prepare their programme for submission to the people. But it is notfair that members of the Government should remain silent whilst the debateon , a censure motion is continued, and should not indicate the length of time they require to clean up the workof the Departments and prepare their programme. It is not fair to the people of Australia that they should go into recess for four months. That is too long an adjournment to ask for. The Government should be honest with the people,and ask for an adjournment to, say, the second week in April, when they could meet Parliament with theirprogramme. They could then let the people of Australia know where they stand, and could tackle the big problems which the Prime Minister tells us require the serious attention of the ‘Government and of the people. I repeat my hope that theGovernment will not go into recess for a period of four months,but will do the right thing by the people of Australia, and meet the House again in the second week in April.

Mir. MARKS (Wentworth) [11.20].- I had not intended to address the House until early next week, because I am not ready with certainfacts and figures which I wish to place on record, but international affairs have reachedsuch a pitch that I askhonorable members to direct theirattention at once to one particular matter. Thetime hasarrived when the people must decide definitely, once and for all, whether or not Australia is to have anavy. That is a clear-cut issue. About two years ago . I propounded in this House certain views which the press labelled as” extraordinary,” but the march of events in Europe inthe meantime has been veryrapid. Let us study the European situation to-day. In this morning’s Melbourne Sun I read something of which I had knowledge two years ago’ through information which came to me from one who was travelling through Russia and Germany -


(The Sun Cables.)

London, Thursday. - The Riga correspondent of theDaily News,in a despatch, asserts that in fulfilment of the terms of the Rapallo agreement, German specialists and military experts are reorganizing Russia’s munition factories on a vast scale.

Unless a speedy agreement on the question of disarmament is reached by the Powers, Europe soon will face a new and. terrible peril.

I had in my possession authentic information when I made my speech on the international situation In November, 1921, that even at that stage high German officers were organizing, drilling, and training Russian officers and men, and that the standing army of Russia then numbered some millions. What has happened in America? The Sydney Evening News of 21st February contained this paragraph -


In Warship Scrapping.

Uncle Sam’s Hesitation.

San Francisco, Tuesday Evening.

Admiral Hal stead, commanding the coast naval district,has received the order of Mr. Denby, Secretary of the Navy, to halt all: work of scrapping warships under the Washington Conference Treatiespendingthe final exchange and ratification of the Treaties.

No material must be removed from battleships, which will not be prepared for sale.

There we see that America is holdingherhand because thetreaties made by the Great Washington Conference have not been ratified by France. America has also just passed a vote of £70,000,000 for navy purposes. What are we doing? Look at the map of Europe and study the position. ‘ There is Turkey with the British Fleet, up to a few -days ago, “ standing pat “ on its shores. What for? To serve the ends of the British Empire? No. It is endeavouring to keep a rebel, Kemal Pasha, from advancing further into Europe than he has already gone. What was the picture there a few months ago when the Turkish question first cropped up ? Kemal Pasha was coming down with massed troops towards the Bosphorus, devastating lands, setting fire to towns, and, so we are told, massacring a hundred. thousand Christians. As his soldiers approached (he sea and Old Sol rose over the mountains, what did they see? Nothing very much - a few battle cruisers, destroyers, submarines, aircraft, ‘ and aircraft carriers, all flying the white ensign of His Majesty King George. They had come silently through the night to the spot of trouble - not on behalf of Great Britain; it was the job of the League of Nations to rectify the difficulty, but until the members of the League of Nations could meet at the council table, something had to be done. So the British Navy was at the focus of the trouble with the Admiral of the Fleet metaphorically standing in the bow of his ship with one hand raised, and saying, “Stop, Kemal Pasha! no further, please, until the League of Nations at Lausanne has got to work and rectified the dispute.” The trouble has not yet been rectified. Take’ a pair of dividers and follow the map through Constantinople to Russia, and it is a strange fact that Russia and Turkey are united at Lausanne. Continue with the dividers, and we pass through Germany. I mentioned the Russo-German alliance two years ago,, eight or nine months before Lloyd George announced it officially at Genoa. Turkey and. Russia are united at Lausanne, and Germany and Russia are allied. Follow the map further, and we come to France, which to-day is, rightly or wrongly, occupying a large part of German territory. Where will the trouble end? I refrain from expressing my view, because; no matter what I say on these- matters,’ certain sections of the press of Australia say- 1 am mad.

Opposition Members. - Hear, hear!


– Honorable members will say I am right before many years have passed, because the present trend of events can lead to only one thing. The. European situation to-day is- extremely grave, and honorable members of this House have to make up their minds as to whether or not the Australian ‘ Navy is to be continued. It cannot go on as it i3 to-day. Public apathy, and the cry for economy in regard to the Navy, have reduced it to such a condition that it is practically useless. We have a -number of ships; some are good, some are not. The Australia is good, so far as she goes, but opposed Vo any vessel a little better -she would be’ outranged and sunk in a few minutes. Therefore, why keep’ her? In regard to the light cruisers, the Adelaide is a magnificent ship, and a credit to the workmen of Australia who built her. I was a member of the Royal Commission which inquired into the working of Cockatoo Dock, andwe were deeply impressed by the evidence put before us of the magnificent work which had been put into the ship by Australian workmen. About ten days ago I suggested to. the new Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden) that, solely for the purpose of maintaining the efficiency of Australian officers and men, the Adelaide should be sent forthwith to join the Mediterranean Fleet, so that her officers and men could rub shoulders with their brothers in the Imperial Navy, and so maintain the efficiency they had attained prior to and during the war. Ten days have elapsed and nothing has been done. I ask the Government to say yea or nay upon this question forthwith; it is of no use to allow it to drag on. The people of Australia are demanding to know what the Government intend to do. This debate must’’ not be allowed to drift on without members bringing their minds to bear upon the important question of naval defence.

What are Ave going to do- about the Australian Navy? I know pretty well the feeling of the peopl’e to whom I talk on this subject. There is a- great love for our ships and men. more especially owing to the great traditions that were, built up by the Sydney and the Australia during the war. I believe that, for reasons of sentiment, the people of Australia would rather have a navy of their own than make a contribution to the British Navy. In all countries, and amongst all peoples, there is a strong sentiment in favour of things of their own. But if we are to have a navy of our own, then for Heaven’s sake let us keep it efficient and up-to-date. Not so long ago, a number of “ J “ class submarines were presented to us by the British Admiralty. I remember the “ J’s” very well, because I got the biggest fright of my life in the mists of the North Sea early one morning during the war. At, daybreak I saw something ‘coining down at me with Prince-of- Wales feather spume at her bows. We managed to train our guns upon her, because we did not know what she was, but we discovered in time that she was one of the new “ J “ class submarines, which had just come to the surface, and was bearing down upon us, thinking that we were an enemy naval craft. The “ J “ submarines are fine ships, but there are new. better in the British Navy, and, therefore, on the ground of expense, it is of no use keeping them in commission in Australia. The vessels presented to the Australian Navy came out under their own steam, mid require an enormous amount of money spent upon them to keep them efficient. They should now be scrapped. If we are going to spend money on submarines, let us get the very latest designs from the Admiralty, and build them at the Cockatoo dock, Sydney, by the men who built the Adelaide. Likewise, if we are going to have light cruisers and destroyers to replace ourpresent ships, we should obtain the best, designs from the Admiralty, and build them at Cockatoo dock, thereby gi ving employment to a very large number of men in Australia. In addition, all the expenditure on the ships in commission and refitting will be distributed in Australia. Ail these reasons must be considered in the argument as to whether we should have a navy of our own or make contributions to the British Admiralty.

Now as to the type of ships. I have my own views, but I do not intend to make any statement here to-day, because, to a certain extent, my ideas might be wasted, in view of the probability of a conference in London at a very early date to consider Empire defence, and especially the question of Australia’s share in that problem. I know Admiral Beatty, not personally, but having served under him for some considerable time, I know the type of man he is. If, after consultation withother naval authorities of the Admiralty, Admiral Beatty comes forward with a proposal embodying the most mature thought as to the best scheme’ of naval defence, and states what Australia’s share should be in the scheme, what are we going to do about it? The British Government told the right honorable gentleman on my right (Mr. W. M. Hughes), when last he was in England, that the Motherland could no longer bear the whole burden of Empire defence, and looked to her sons and daughters to help. What will be the nature of our assistance? Will it take the form of the maintenance of a local navy or contributions to the Imperial British Navy? This point has to be decided now. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) in his speech last night unsconsciously put his finger right on the spot when he asked if we were going to allow our Prime Minister to go home and say what we intended to do in this matter of naval defence. Parliament will go into recess till June or July. In the meantime, this Naval Conference may . be called, and Australia’s voice must be heard at the Conference table. What will our delegate say to the representatives of the Motherland? This is a serious matter. I do not know what decision will be come to by the British Admiralty as to the best means of Empire defence, but I have a pretty good idea. Success in naval warfare depends on concentration of forces. This was demonstrated at the battle of Jutland. The Admiralty authorities have to make up their mind as to the type and number of ships’ required, and determine, if possible, the exact arena of future trouble - whether it is likely to be in the Pacific or the Mediterranean. If they decide that trouble is mora imminent in the Pacific than elsewhere, that, consideration will determine the type of ships, including aircraft carriers, because of the 13,000 or 14,000 miles steaming that may be required from Naval Bases. It is an axiom that the more fuel the less gun power. You cannot have both. If, on the other hand; the Admiralty come to the conclusion that the Mediterranean is likely to be the seat of trouble, a different class of ship will be used, because of the proximity of Naval Bases. All these things have to be taken into consideration. I have given the matter very careful thought for many years, but what is the use of my making any suggestions to-day? This is not a naval debate. I want all honorable members of- the House to convey to the Government their views as to whether we should have a Navy or not, because .the present position cannot be allowed to continue. I know that officers and men of the Australian Navy are losing heart. I know this, because some of them are my personal friends. Only yesterday I heard that the Government had to send to the Admiralty for SO or 90 bluejackets to fill vacant places in our ships. We cannot send our submarines out because we have not the crews. I think the Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden) will bear me out when I say that we have just about enough men to furnish the complement of one submarine. The others have been returned to , the Admiralty, or have bought out of the Navy. I doubt, also, from what I know of these submarines whether the men would be game enough to dive in them; the vessels’ batteries are worn out; and generally, an enormous sum would have to be spent on them, and even then they would not be of the latest pattern. Therefore,.! agree with the decision to scrap them. Admiral Everett is a man whom I deeply respect, both for his war and pre-war record. But he and other officers of the British Navy in Australia are merely treading’ water. They are not likely to do anything until- we can make up our minds what we intend to do about our Navy. If -we do not want to retain their services in Australia, we should say so, and allow them to get back to the British Navy.

In considering the ,type of ships and the number, and what Australia’s share has to be, we naturally have to take into consideration the question of the Air Force. I have many figures which I had intended to quote later, but the matter is really too serious for delay.- Commander Burney, who has been so ably agitating an airship scheme, though, unfortunately, without much luck, tells us that sixteen air ships can be built at the cost of one battleship. Each of these airships’ carries and attached to it two torpedo-carrying aeroplanes. I know what these torpedo-carrying aeroplanes are, because I have had the Huns dropping their munition upon me; and, in addition to this equipment, each airship . carries one fighting aeroplane. Remember that all this is obtained at the t cost of one battleship, and that nine of these airships can equal the work of . sixty cruisers, and, at the same time, save a capital cost of £51,000. An airship can patrol 1,000 miles of sea at a cost of 25s. per mile, while a light cruiser to do the same work means a cost of £75 per mile. These astounding figures need not be debated here, but they must be taken into calculation at Home when the momentous decision is made as to what form Empire defence is to take.

England, at the Washington .Conference, did something that, I think, has never been duly appreciated. For 300 years our great Navy has had command of the seas for the protection of all peoples; yet her representatives at the Washington Conference practically declared that she ney longer desired command of the seas by agreeing “ to equality with one other power. That is practically what was said on behalf of England, as is shown by the fact that in that way the matter-was arranged. I said at the time that I did not like the idea, because the British Empire is different from any other Empire by reason of its extent, and it is now larger than ever before. Amongst the additions to the Empire there, is the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, of 70,000 or 80,008 square miles; and yet we have a reduced Navy to meet the expansion. It is only by the Navy that the Empire has become what it is. A member of the Navy, Captain Cook, discovered Australia, ana Captain Phillip established Sydney at Farm Cove; and it is under the shield of the Navy that we have been allowed to live and prosper. What is the position now with regard to the European outlook? Are we going to take the chance that the inherent passions of men will not break out in conflict in the future? -Are we. to take it for granted that “ everything in the garden “ is going to be “ green ?” It has been said that we do not require a larger Navy, because we may trust to Conferences to adjust matters. But what have Conferences done? The Washington Treaty is not ratified by France; the Genoa Conference, the Economic Conference of Paris and London, and the Lausanne Conference were failures. . I do not wish honorable members to think that I am opposed to Conferences, because I am not. We ought to do everything possible to restrain the inherent passions of men, which lead to conflict, but at the same time we ought to keep our “ weather eye open.” The history of Conferences i3 before us, and it shows that they do not function. There is sitting beside ane ‘ now a man who was at the Peace Conference, and he pretty clearly said that the “fourteen points” would not function. Where is France to-day? Can we blame France for going to take that to which she is entitled, and which was promised her, and for which she ‘has waited so long and so patiently ? Is she not right in forcing those who devastated her land to do the right- thing? I have .seen 100 square miles of devastated France, and know what she feels. The same inherent passions were demonstrated yesterday when the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey), for whom I have every respect, and whom I call my friend, ridiculed the Prime Minister. Why? Because the Prime Minister wears a clean shirt and collar, and a clean pair of boots, and also for being educated. I thought that the Labour party of Australia were proud of the education system here, under which any boy or girl may rise ‘to the highest position in the country; and is the Prime Minister to ‘be blamed for seizing those opportunities that came his way? I can only suppose that if the Prime Minister wore a dirty shirt he would be commended by my friends opposite. I have many friends amongst the mem’bers of the Opposition, but I must say that the honorable member for Bourke seems to take a similar course almost every time he makes a speech. Surely, we can so conduct our debates that personal satirical filth is not thrown. This is one of the little things that the Labour party keep constantly doing, and, added to the others, makes the man in the street declare that it is “ not a fair thing,’” and so they -are -deprived of office.


– I take exception to the honorable member for Wentworth referring to the remarks of the honorable member for Bourke as “ satirical filth.”


– Without more ado, if I have said anything offensive, I heartily withdraw it. Perhaps I was carried away by my feelings of’ regret at certain incidents yesterday. I take a very serious outlook on the present naval position in Australia, ‘and this is the time for us to express our opinions. An Empire Conference has not yet been called, and the Prime Minister told us yesterday that if necessary Australia would ask for one. I notice from the cables this morning, that the British Government have -no idea yet that the Dominions . desire ‘ an Economic or Defence Conference, and I should like the Prime Minister ‘to get into touch with the British Government at the earliest moment, in order to ascertain whether there- is any likelihood of one .being called, and when, and whether this House will have an opportunity of discussing the important problems that are. likely to be dealt with at such a conference. A representative may go from -Australia - perhaps -the Minister for Defence - to represent Australia at a naval ‘conference. Is .such a representative to leave without being in possession of our opinions and without amy idea of the sentiment of the Australian people? Personally, I believe that we must have a unit in Australia of such efficiency that it can join up at any time with the main battle fleets of the Empire wherever they may be, to form a useful force. If war were to break out tomorrow could we say that the Australian unit, as now constituted, would be of any use to the main .fleet if a naval conflict were to occur in the extensive waters of the Pacific or nearer to Great Britain? The Adelaide has yet- many years of .good fighting life before her. The Sydney, a lovely ship, with glorious traditions, is done, because her war service has crippled her and her engines are finished. To thoroughly equip the Sydney for modern warfare would involve the expenditure of a huge sum of money, and we have to ask whether the expenditure is justified when a modern vessel of a similar size could be constructed for a little more. Our destroyers are good and .capable of performing much valuable work, but they are not of the -type of the British 1922 pat- torn now being used. What are we to do? Our submarines are worn out,and we need more. Are we to patch them up at a huge cost or construct or procure new ones ? I am very glad of the fusion between the Country and Nationalist parties, because we now have within our ranks as- fellow members of the one Government a number of honorable members who bitterly opposed the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), and constantly urged a reduction in naval armaments, which is to some, extent responsible for our present unsatisfactory position. Now these men are in our midst, I place the responsibility upon them-, and also upon members of the Nationalist party, of saying what we are- to do. Many honorable members- opposite also are opposed tooth and: nail tospending one penny piece on naval or military defence-. But I thank God that we have honorable members on this side of the House who will be prepared to carry out the recommendations which may be made to us by the head of the British Admiralty (Lord Beatty), because, knowing him. as I do, I say wo should have no hesitation in accepting his advice. Our representatives who visit Great Britain should at least be able to express the sentiments of the Australian people, which should be clearly placed before His Majesty’s Government, so that they may know how to act. There is a good deal more I . should like to say. on important international problems,, but unfortunately I have not my notes with me. Had I them I would have been able to submit some most interesting figures as to the total strength, of the navies in ships and personnel. A question by me appears on the notice-paper for which doubtless the Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden) has an answer ready, which should give some very interesting figures. I have a copy here of a question submitted to the House of Commons. Even if the Washington Conference is ratified, the position of the British Empire is not altogether satisfactory. For the information of honorable members I submit the following table concerning the number of capital ships under the control of several leading nations: -

page 127



Effect on Naval Strength-.

Mr. Amery, in reply in the House of Com mons- to Viscount Curzon on relative- naval strengths, gave the following details, showing the effect of the ratification and the nonratification of the Washington Treaty: -

I do not like the position at all. We haver only one post-Jutland ship-, the Hood, which is of a hybrid type, but Japan and the United States of America have more than one post- Jutland ship, which can outrange and outfight, any ship in the British Navy to-day. The keels have been laid in Great Britain for two mammoth battleships, to cost- roughly £8-,500,000 each,, and £10,000,000 will be spent in wages alone on their construction. They are now being built,, but, even then, the ratio is not in Great Britain’s favour. I do not wish it to be thought, for one moment, that Australia can have battleships or battle cruisers, because we have not the men or the money. But we can equip and maintain up-to-date destroyers, submarines, light cruisers, and aircraft, which will prove a protection to Australia, and at the same time be welcomed by the Royal Navy as a unit which can -be dovetailed into any part of the battle line, and which will prove of great use and benefit.I trust that what I have said will stir honorable members to assist in doing something of which we shall be proud, and whichis urgently necessary. The Navy is our best and safest insurance.


.- I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey). I have listened with interest to the speech just delivered by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks), but he is unduly pessimistic. I read in the Queensland papers his prophecy, to the effect that Armageddon would come in 1934, and had it not been for that remarkable pronouncement, I would have taken his speech concerning the international situation more seriously. I feel confident that if the situation were as serious as the honorable member suggests the British authorities would have got into touch with the Federal Government long before this, and that the Prime Minister should have CO]11sulted his Cabinet and this Parliament on such an important subject. The honorable member for Wentworth is obviously thirsting for increased expenditure on tha implements of war.

Mr Marks:

– That is not so.


– Any one listening to the honorable member’s unduly pessimistic utterances could only conclude that he was thirsting for an additional outlay. He has condemned the members of the Country party and of the Labour party for having protested against what they considered unduly high expenditure for war purposes, but the Government are justified iu curtailing the outlay in this direction. When Australia should be bending all her energies towards rehabilitating herself developing her industries and finding markets for her products, any money available should he spent in that direction instead of being wasted in purchasing implements of war and providing good profits for those people engaged in their manufacture.

I was glad to hear the admission of the honorable member for Wentworth that he was pleased to see a fusion of the Nationalist and Country parties in this Parliament, enabling them to sit together as one Government. As a matter of fact, I never thought that they were anything but- one party. Among certain individuals in either section there may have been a good deal of jealousy as to who would secure the plums of office. On that material issue they may have quarrelled, but the managers of both parties seem to have emancipated them,selves from those jealousies. At any rate, we now see them sitting together on the Treasury bench as one Government.

The action of the Hughes Government, in hanging on to office for a considerable period after it had been ignominiously defeated at the polls, was unprecedented in the history of Australia. The tactics displayed were, to refer to them in parliamentary terms, most questionable. Outside this chamber I have heard them described in stronger language. For six weeks we had the spectacle of the exPrime Minister going around with about a dozen portfolios to dole out. All sorts of intriguing was going on behind the back- of Parliament. Now, as the honorable member for Bourke has shown, the Leader of the Country party has taken office side by side with the exTreasurer of the Nationalist Government, evidently quite prepared to forget all he had previously said against that Government, and to walk shoulder to shoulder with its Treasurer under the banner of the composite Nationalist-Country.- party. After the new Cabinet was formed three weeks elapsed, and then the Government met Parliament without a definite policy, although they had had sufficient time in which to come to some decision as to what their policy was to be. The matters animating the mind of the people of Australia were sufficiently serious and important to demand immediate attention, yet these honorable gentlemen on the Treasury bench failed miserably to face them. They say that the Labour party -has no right to be so audacious as to claim that they should have come down with a policy, aird because we put the case for the. majority of the people, not only for the supporters of the Labour party, but for the people generally, and claim that the Government have not done the right thing, we are branded as ignoramuses. In support of my contention that the criticism of the Government is not confined to the Labour party, let me quote the following which’ appeared in thismorning’s Age -

The Government’s position was untenable. Public criticism was seldom better justified, or more effective. Ministers met the House a3 a new Administration, formed out of two previous warring parties. The leaders divided up the portfolios, and came to Parliament with a Governor-General’s Speech that was a blank.

It -was a blank; the Government have offered us nothing. Whatever we have learnt from them has been dragged out of them. The speech of His Excellency the Governor-General made no mention of such great industries as the sugar industry and the meat industry, which have such an important bearing upon the people of the Commonwealth. Whatever statement came from the Prime Minister in regard to sugar had to be dragged from him, so to speak, in response to the protest I had to make on Wednesday on the motion for .the adjournment of the House. Of course,” it ia not surprising to find the new Government adopting these tactics. Many of its Ministers were members of the late Government, and they have behind them to-day a considerable number of those who were their supporters in the last Parliament. The Age of the 16th October, 1922, said-

The Parliament that has just closed brought Federal politics to the lowest standard they have yet touched. It tolerated shiftiness and secrecy in public matters that ought to be straightforward and open.

We can only, expect a further extension of that undesirable state of affairs. It is difficult to say how long the Fusion will continue, but if the ex-Prime Minister were consulted, he would tell us that it will not last too long. That he has not a very favorable opinion of Fusions one can gather from a perusal of his views, as set out in the Case for Labour, published in 1909-10, a book which I am sure he would now like to burn. This was the opinion he recorded at that time -

In my opinion, such combinations are generally immoral, rarely- expedient, and always Subversive of the principles of democratic government. I do not go so far as to say that all coalitions have been without justification. Just as there are circumstances which justify murder itself, so there may bc some, though I Cannot conceive them probable or even possible, which may even excuse coalitions. »

No doubt the right honorable gentleman is watching events to-day, believing that the present Government must be defeated, and hoping that in the circumstances he may again be Prime Minister. But there he makes a mistake, because if the people of Australia have another opportunity of voicing theft1 opinions, the party now in opposition will be transferred to the Treasury bench.

We have heard the statement made by the Prime Minister that the Labour party has its policy dictated from outside, and that honorable gentlemen on the Government side are untrammelled and free to draw up a- policy without dictation from any party outside. As a matter of fact, any one who has followed the trend of politics in Australia knows full well that the Labour party is the” only party that is free and untrammelled, and that it is the honorable gentlemen sitting on the Government side who have their policy dictated to them ‘by those who supply the funds for the National party. The claim of the Prime Minister that his party is free to draw up a policy without dictation from any one outside will not go down with the people of Australia. Listen to what the Age, dealing with political parties and interference from outside, had to say on the 27th October, 1922:-

Secret organizations like the National Union exercise a most pernicious influence in public life, and the community will be richer when the power of the Government is taken from their hands and passed over to men whose principles and actions are dictated solely by considerations of the public interest.

The Age, which is not a Labour newspaper, found every reason for commenting on the manner in which the ex-Prime Minister was bending to dictation from outside, and I give the journal credit for being courageous enough “to condemn actions so subversive of proper government What was applicable to the late Administration so far as outside domination from the “ money bags “ is concerned, is equally applicable to the present Government. In an article on the previous day,the Age said -

Behind the Prime Minister and his falselypretentious constitutionalists, there is a secret little body of rich men who, in defiance of the spirit, if not the letter, of the electoral law, endeavour by the expenditure of scores of thousands of pounds, to buy into power accommodating politicians who are bound to their service. Who are the members of the secret Nationalist Council Union, or whatever they call themselves - the men who raise and control tb( election money? Dare they come out of their hiding places?

It is not thought necessary for the men who supply the money to come out of their hiding places. They realize that if they did the people would relegate to obscurity those who are their pliant instruments, and who are prepared to do their bidding in consideration of the sums of money paid. Those honorable members, and their satellites outside, hope to defeat the Labour men, who stand in the House free aud unfettered to fight for the rights of the workers and producers in the community. The- people now recognise the forces behind honorable members opposite. The Labour party improved its position- very considerably a-t» the last election, and on the next occasion we shall get a majority. It is nothing new to me to find these outside juntas behind the- Nationalist party pulling the strings. I was a member of the State Parliament, in Queensland for some years, and I knew the influences- that were at work. We even had statements to that effect coming- from the Employers’ Federation of Queensland. At a- secret meeting of that federation, held- at. Union Bank” Chambers, Brisbane, on the 24’tk January, 1922, the chairman’ said’ -

On many and many a night we* have gone up to the House when the Liberal Government was in power; and secured alterations, in the legislation going- through, which- have all Been to your benefit. THey were- in- touch with us’ all the time the Tramway strike was on.

Then Ave are told by honorable members opposite- that they are free- men, and are not interfered with in any way by out- side organizations. Flinders-lane- could tell a different tale. ‘ The statement I have just quoted was not intended for the press, because the meeting: was a secret «one. Some- employer; probably, was- so ashamed of’ the tactics that had: been adopted that he gave the information to some of his friends, and it got; into the hands: of Labour, men.. [ deeply regret that the present. Federal Administration, is not prepared to treat the sugar industry of Queensland in the manner in which .many of the growers were led to- believe this Government would. Those honorable members who even opposed a continuance of the present agreement know that the sugar industry is one of the greatest in Australia. In view of what was promised the growers during the recent election campaign, we had reason to believe that the’ present agreement, which will expire on the 30th June next, would be renewed. Members of the Government visited Childers and other parts of , Queensland, telling the people that they need not fear, and that they should leave their destiny in the hands of the Nationalist party, because, if that party was elected with a majority, every consideration would be given to the claims of the sugar-growers. Those people were misled; and many of them, voted- for the Nationalist candidates, believing that their interests would be safe in their hands. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr: Charlton,)- made’ a fine address on the sugar industry in his- policy speech,, when he said -

Australia is: the only country in’ the world where cane sugar is produced by white labour; and .the importance of this industry as a factor in the maintenance of. a White Australia cannot be over-estimated; Realizing this, we stand; for an agreement providing for reasonable conditions for the growers, and. workers engagedin that -industry.

That was plain and definite. Yet. we. have the honorable member fox. Wide. Bay (Mr. Corser) and the honorablemember for . Herbert (Mr. Bamford) advising the people of “Queensland to place no- reliance. o,n what. was. said, by, the- Leader of the- Opposition, because the Nationalists would be returned, and if the growers wanted a renewal of the agreement they should vote for .them. The Country party declared that it stood for the resolutions passed a* the- Farmers’ Conference1 at Adelaide. Those1 resolutions really constituted a< mass: of generalities said to be1 intended to placate every interest in Australia. That; however, would be quite’ impossible.. The. Leader of. the- Country party (Dr. Earle Page’), speaking at a public meeting at Bundaberg, was asked a very pertinent question on the sugar industry. Significantly; enough, the question was put up to- him by a Country party candidate. Dr. Page was speaking there on behalf of’ the ‘Country party candidate ‘for Capricornia.. According, to the Bundaberg. Daily News of the 16th November, 1922, the questionasked was: -

If your party are returned in sufficient numbers to constitute a controlling factor in thenext Federal Government, will you insist on the retention of the control of the industry by the Federal Government, as at present enacted, until such - time as a system is evolved that will assure to the cane-grower a fair and reasonable return for the labour and capital hehas invested;

Dr. Page replied, emphatically, “Tes, I will.” What has happened now? He has supinely stepped back and allowed the Leader of the present Government to say that there will be no renewal of the- present agreement, and that the destiny of the industry is to be handed over to a Board that will decide what .the import /duty is to be. That leaves the growers in a quandary as to what progress they can expect to mate in the industry, and as to what land they should place under .cultivation. In short, it means stagnation. In 1918, when the Prime Minister was asked by the growers to increase the price of sugar by £3 a ton, he refused. At that time, only £21 a ton was being paid, and over 20,000 acres went out of cultivation, with a result that millions of pounds sterling were lost to the people of Australia; 221,000 tons of foreign sugar had to be imported, and a loss of £2,000,000 was incurred. The consumers have had to make up that loss by paying 6d. a lb. for sugar instead of which amount should never have been exceeded. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company, which is the friend of the ^Federal Government, wanted to discourage the expansion of the industry in Australia. I -thought the leader of the Opposition put the .question clearly when referring in the House to the import duty. He said : -

If the duty be imposed, what control will there be over the company? There will be no agreement between the Commonwealth and the man who -grows the sugar. … A duty means that the monopoly is going to have entire control, and that will be a bad thing for those -engaged in the production of sugar. :0f course it would be a bad thing for those engaged in the -production of the sugar, but not injurious to the great monopoly that would be able to’ exact great profits out of the industry. I was pleased to note ih Ilansard of 11th October, 1922, page 3620, that the Leader of the ‘Opposition moved the following amendment to the proposed import duty : -

That an agreement be made with regard to sugar control, and that the same provide for fair and reasonable conditions for the . producers and workers in the industry, and at the same time protect the consumers from exploitation by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited.

That amendment was ruled out of order. I think the ex-Prime Minister was much fairer in the speeches which he made on the sugar industry in Queensland than the present Administration. I will give the ex-Prime Minister this much credit, namely, that I think he has more sympathy with the sugar industry than his successor. The right honorable mem<ber for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), while he was Prime Minister, indicated in conferences, and on every occasion when representations were made to him, that if he could have his way there would be a renewal of the agreement. Outside influences were at work, however. The men who subscribed largely, to the funds of the Nationalist party dictated the policy which was to be followed ; the then Prime Minister was told that he could not renew the agreement. Thus, he had to go back on a lot that he had said in Queensland.

Mr Charlton:

– And the policy to-day is to de-control everything.


– Even going so far as to sell the Woollen Mills and the Harness Factory, because they interfere with the profits of Flinders-lane. If they could, the present Government would push that policy to the extent of abolishing the Commonwealth Bank and handing its business over to the private banking institutions, just as in Queensland a Tory Government, if it were to come into power, would, if it could, hand over the national insurance business to private companies.

Reverting to sugar, at Childers, on the 5th June, 1922, the then Prime Minister said -

If the Labour party is returned, I will not deny .that they will renew the sugar agreement. There are only two real political parties - the Nationalists and the Labour, party.

The right honorable- gentleman gave the Labour’ party credit for the intention to renew the sugar agreement if returned with a majority to this Parliament. Referring to the Leader of the Country party,’ who is now the Commonwealth Treasurer, the Prime Minister “said that there was no more bitter opponent of the sugar agreement than that gentleman. To-day the latter is associated with the chief representative of the big southern commercial interests of this country; and we know that the Queensland sugar industry is not going to get a fair deal unless those who are engaged in it, and have its welfare at heart, put up a .bold fight. I resent the statements an-d the promises of Nationalist candidates during the recent campaign in Queensland. I knew from the first that those individuals had no intention of living up to their assurances. The Daily Mail of 29hh November, 1923, reported the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) as having said, in the course of a speech at Nambour -

If the Nationalist Government is returned to power further sugar proposals will be submitted, and I feel confident that the sugar agreement will be renewed. On the strength of that statement, the honorable member gained many votes. As for the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford), a well-known sugargrower (Mr. W. B. Biggs, of Proserpine) published a letter in the press, stating that the honorable member had publicly announced that be would vote against his own Government if they did not renew the agreement. The honorable member for Herbert said, further -

When I am returned I will pledge myself to make it my business, at the first opportunity, to bring the extension of the agreement before tlie House, as it will give me the opportunity to put the “ acid “ on the Country and Labour parties, and prove their sincerity to the sugar-growers.

But the first thing the honorable member did upon coming down here was to take a job from the party against which he said he would vote. He was silenced; the sugar-growers were turned’ down. He has supinely accepted a job, and the growers “have been sacrificed. It is “ up to “ others of us, however, to see that they get a fair deal. Prior to the advent of Labour as u Government in Queensland the growers were entirely at the mercy of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company and the millers. The latter were free to go to the growers and say, “ We will give you such and such a price for your cane, and if you do not accept it the cane can rot in the fields/’ That was the practice prior to the first agreement, in 1915. When Labour came into power in the northern State negotiations wore at once opened with the Commonwealth Labour Government, and the first sugar agreement was drawn up. The honorable member for Wide Bay had a seat in the State Parliament at the time, and he knows that Mr. Rankin, the then member for Burrum, endeavoured to secure the establishment of Cane Prices Boards. However, the individual at the head of the Government of which the honorable member for Wide Bay was a docile supporter stated that if Cane Prices Boards were established the effect would be to splinter every plank in the Liberal party’s platform. Labour came into power and established those Boards and, very soon, m conjunction with the Federal Labour party, brought about, as I have just mentioned, the first sugar agreement. The growers have since benefited to the extent of more than £2,000,000. That is a direct outcome of the sympathetic consideration of Labour. The late Prime Minister was fair enough to give the credit to the Labour party for having drawn up that agreement. He publicly stated that the control of sugar was instituted in 1915 by the Labour Government, and added that that policy had since received the indorsement of every party in power.

Some honorable members opposite will say that conditions have changed, and that there is no necessity now for an agreement. But in 1915 they showed direct hostility to the agreement. Sir Joseph Cook, for example, in the course of a speech delivered in this chamber in opposition to the proposal, said : -

Before allowing this Bill to pass I wish to put on record once more my protest against these Socialistic enterprises of the Government being put through in war time.

The Conservative interests have been opposed to Government control of every kind. They wish to be free to carry on in their own sweet way, filching large profits from the pockets of the people.


– It is significant that shares which were originally £20 each are now quoted at £41.


– That is so, and it is entirely due, of course, to the knowledge and assurance that sugar will be decontrolled. The ex-Prime Minister, during his tour of Queensland, led the people to believe that there would be a renewal of the sugar agreement. That declaration was welcomed by everybody. When he got back to Melbourne the following resolution was passed by the Nationalist Federation

That, at the end of the present term in June next, the sugar agreement be discontinued.

Mr. Hughes heard the voice of his masters, and sacrificed the sugar-growers of Queensland. “

It is interesting to note that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is accustomed to paying large sums of money into funds with the object of defeating certain action taken by this Parliament. When Mr. Knox, the general manager of the Colonial Sugar

Refining Company, was giving evidence before the Royal Commission on the sugar industry in 1912, he was asked if that company had contributed £50,000 in support of the opposition to the proposed law to alter the Constitution relating to monopolies. That proposed law was submitted to the electors on 26th April, 1911, by way of referendum. Mr. Knox, in reply to that question, said,” That is a matter upon which I . am not prepared to give you any information.” He was then asked, “Do you deny ‘that such a contribution was made?” He said, “I do not say anything about it one way or the other.” Honorable members . can draw their own inference from that reply. It pays this monopoly to discourage the expansion of the sugar industry in Australia. They prefer to go to their plantations abroad, which are worked by black labour, import sugar into Australia, and sell it to the people of Australia at a large profit, rather than suffer governmental control here. What, after all, is governmental control? It is the arm of the people of Australia checking the depredations of unscrupulous exploiters.

We should look at this very important question from a national, not a parochial, point of view. I intend dealing with it from the view-point of the whole of the people of Australia, and I shall prove to honorable members that the fruitgrowers are being fooled; they are being used by the wealthy jam manufacturers and the Colonial Sugar Refining Company as mere pawns-in the game of bluff and trickery. I urge them to wake up and to . realize that their best interests will be served not by fighting the sugar industry, but by throwing off their backs the wealthy middlemen, and going in for a greater measure of co-operation.

Mr Richard Foster:

– They are waking up.


– The representatives of the fruit-growers are waking up all right ; they threw the honorable member out of the Cabinet. When they are fully alive to the situation they will realize that they are being used by the wealthy interests, and are being induced to fight the sugar industry when they should be fighting those who refuse to paythem a reasonable price for their fruit. :

Australia has an area of approximately 3,000,000 square miles, of which 1,149,320 square miles are in the tropics. Difficulties are encountered in our en deavour to induce a larger population to go to the northern parts of Australia. It is an easy . matter to getpeople to settle in the congenial parts of Victoria, where the summer is similar to the North Queensland winter. Unless they are given encouragement people will not go to the northern parts of Australia and settle there. The sugar industry offers an inducement for them to do so, and it behoves honorable members of this Chamber to see that that industry is properly treated, and to view it from a broad, national aspect. The burden of the White Australia policy is to-day being carried by the sugar industry, which honorable members opposite would sacrifice. Without prosperity in the sugar industry it will not pay people to settle in the north, and we shall have to keep a permanent army at a cost of, probably, £1,000,000 a year, to protect our northern coast. The industry supports 100,000 people directly; let us help it. Sugar production is the only agricultural industry which has proved a great success in the North. Governments and private enterprise have spent £10,000,000 in the Northern Territory, yet to-day very little progress is being made there. I admit that a lot of that is due to maladministration. If we were able to grow sugar in the Northern Territory our difficulty would be solved immediately. In the “ north of Queensland the miningand cattle industries are languishing, and people are deserting the mining centres which formerly were a hive of industry. If we allow the sugar industry to languish, the people will leave the sugar districts and Australia will be faced by a great national peril. I ask honorable members to bear in mind that, in addition to those who are directly engaged in it, the sugar industry provides employment for 22,000 workers, 4,000 of whom go from Victoria and New South Wales. The business people of those States’ benefit as the result of the employment and earnings of those men. Hundreds of thousands of pounds’ worth of machinery leaves Victoria and New South Wales for use in the sugar districts, and that provides employment for the people .of Victoria and New South Wales. Boats leave here laden with goods for the people in the sugar districts, -and come down filled with sugar. Of all the refineries in Australia only two small refineries are in Queensland ; there is one in Victoria, one in Now South Wales, and one in South Australia,, which give employment to a considerable number of men. I ask honorable members to bear in mind that a large amount of capital is invested already in this industry - £16,000,000, made up of £6,500,000 in land and improvements, £6,000,000 in mills and machinery, and £3,500,000 in refineries. Are we going to allow that to go “ by the board,” and .patronize blackdown sugar ?

I appeal to honorable members opposite to view the question fairly. The above figure does not include the working capital in the industry. There are thirtyeight mills in operation in Queensland today. The average annual output at, say, 250,000 tons of sugar; which, at a price -of approximately £40 .per ton, .would .represent a wealth yield of £10,000,00.0 per annum. With adequate protection the gain would have been “far greater since 1915. In 19.19 approximately 116,000 tons of sugar were imported into Australia, at an average price of £44 6s. 2d. per ton. In 1920, 104,000 tons were imported at an average price of £60 19s, 6d. per ton. It would not have been necessary to charge the people -of Australia more than 4£d. per lb. for .sugar had those importations not been made .at an exorbitant price. The Government of the day, instead of selling the sugar at a reasonable price, wanted to catch votes, and sold at from 3d. to 3£d. per lb. sugar which cost 7d. per lb. raw and up to ls. per lb. refined. The onus of making up the deficiency was placed on the sugar-grower of Queensland. He was mot to blame; he ought not to have been censured .because of a blunder made by the Government. All the opposition of the consumers, -who had to make up the loss of £2,000,000”, was directed against the sugar industry. It is to the interests of Victorians to establish the planters and .their, employees throughout the north of Queensland. Let them realize what the industry has .done to encourage settlement in the ‘North. One has only to look at the growth in the population of the Herbert electorate to see the advantage of the industry ‘to the north. Between the last census and the previous one, there was an increase of 15,000 electors in the Herbert electorate, which embraces one of the richest sugargrowing areas in Australia. As against this we find that, in other parts of Australia, there was a general trend of the population to the hig cities. The sugar industry induced the people to go north, because ‘the Labour Government and ‘the Sugar Agreements gave reasonable and fair conditions to the growers, as well as to the workers in the industry. In order to demonstrate that the Labour Government has improved the conditions in the industry for the worker as well as the grower, I shall quote some ‘figures ‘from an authoritative source. In 1907-8, the wages paid to the field labourers, exclusive of cutting, was 22s. 6d. per week in the off season, and 25s. per week, with keep, in the crushing season; in 1921 the wages were 15s. 4d. .and 17s. Sd. per day respectively. No- one can say that a man was amply paid .on 22s. 6d. per week. I hope honorable members do not want, to revert to black-labour conditions. We surely do not wish to introduce the kanaka into the Australian sugar industry. I know that some honorable .members who sit behind the Government wish that, to be done,, and it is known that the Premier of South Australia (Sir .Henry Barwell) says definitely and clearly that black labour should be used :in the northern parts of Australia. He is recognised as one of the candid -champions of Conservatism in Australia. I am totally opposed to that policy. I was glad to read a statement made by the Hon. A. S. Rodgers, who was a Minister in the late Government. When speaking to members of the Commonwealth Sugar Control Board in February last, he said -

I admit, as a public man of this country, that the sugar industry has been of great and real benefit to the nation. In the hours when it was -out off from the sugar of the world, your industry has ,paid back to Australia whatever Australia has given in pre-war days. The Government of which I am a member is fully conscious of this obligation to the sugar industry of this country.

I was. gratified; to read such, a statement by a Victorian member, and’ I am pleased to find that on the Opposition side of the House, there are a number of men representing city constituencies who advocate giving a fair deal to the sugar industry of. Queensland. The Commonwealth RoYal’ Commission which inquired into the conditions of the industry in 1912, made a very interesting statement. Members of the Commission toured the whole of Australia, and this is what- they said1 -

Tlie sugar industry is. a contribution of the first importance to tlie policy of a White Australia. The’ effective justification of the protection, of the sugar industry must be- sought in. the very existence of Australia’ as a nation:

That’ was- the’ opinion of an- independent Royal Commission-. Before’ we- come, to any hasty decision in regard .to such an’ important industry let us see if the statement is” correct that” the ‘sugar industry lias been spoon-fed. For all that Australia has done for the sugar industry it has received considerably more in return. We have been told about the sugar bonus. It is true that the bonus was granted when the. White Australia policy wasadopted. There was a rebate of £3- per ton of the Excise payments of ‘ £4 per ton to growers who grew sugar with white labour. That meant a charge of £1 per ton on sugar. The sugar industry of Queensland haspaid £2,600,000 in that’ way to the revenue of Australia. Yet we are told that the industry has been spoon-fed,, because a bonus was given to it. Both the. bonus and the Excise duty were abolished, I think,, in July, 1913. In my opinion, the’ Tariff of £9 6s. 8d. on sugar is not adequate. It is no better protection than we had under the first Sugar Agreement, because costs have increased considerably. The increased cost of freight, sacks, and insurance has more than wiped out the difference. The import duty may be sufficient while the price of sugar keeps up in Java, but when the price of foreign sugar drops it will be quite inadequate. What we want is. a fluctuating Tariff, to go up or down, according to the price of sugar outside.- Mr. Knox, when speaking to the Premier of Queensland on this question, said that with the present import duty and no agreement, the conditions must go back, to those prevailing in 1913. In his. opinion, prices will have to come down all round. Both the growers and the workers- would have to accept less, and this- would mean-, stagnation. Before the date of the first agreement* the freight on sugar by steamship from the north of. Queensland toSydney and Melbourne was’ lis. per ton. Now it ia approximately £2 per ton. We’ hear no protests from the other, side- of. the- House against this enormous -increase in freights. If honorable, members opposite made such protest’s they’ would be> affecting’ those interests which! supplymoney to fight elections; but- when the’ sugar-grower receives a slightly increased; price for his- commodity, we hear all kinds of protests-.

Mr Prowse:

– Does the honorable’ member not think that the Navigation Act is accountable for the increase’ in freights ?


– No. -The, Navigation Act is blamed’; but it does n’Ot justify the enormous increase in freights. Prior to 1915, the average value of imported sugar was1 £11 17s. 6d. per ton.. If we get hack to- that price, the duty will be quite, inadequate. Let me compare .the protection afforded, to the. sugar industry with, that given to the makers of jams and jellies. Jam and jelly have a protection of 3d. peri lb.; dried fruits have a pro- tection of 3d. per lb. ; and hops, ls. per lb. On boots the protection isi from 28 per cent, to 45 per cent. , and om. prepared- leather from 20 to 35 per cent. The result of protecting the sugar industry and fostering it is that a demand is created in Queensland for wares from Victoria. The people of’ Queensland tolerate the increased duty on Australian-made boots, because they believe, in adequate protection for all Australian industries. Why cannot the people in Victoria give and take, and agree to help the sugar industry ?

Let us. consider whether there is any justification for- the opposition to the Sugar- Agreement. I submit that there is not. ‘ The price of sugar was 3d. per lb. up to 1915, and 3M. per lb. from January, 1916, to 26th January, 1920; and 6d. per lb. until recently. It never should have been 6d., but only 4½d. The difference, aa I mentioned previously, was collected by the’ Federal Government to make up losses. Even though, we accept the price of 6d. for the past ten years, Australia has paid on an average 4d. per lb. for her sugar; whilst during the war period America paid in the vicinity of ls. Id. ; .Prance, ls. 6d. ; Italy, ls. 6d. ; and Java, lOd. In Britain the price increased from 7d. in 1918 to ls. 2d. in 1920. Notwithstanding these figures, we are told that the Queensland sugar industry has filched great profits from the people of Australia. Australia was very fortunate in having the sugar industry established in the northern State, since but for its existence the people would have had to pay abnormal prices.

The honorable member for Martin (Mr. Pratten) interjected “Rubbish!” when, on Wednesday evening, I quoted figures showing that the Queensland sugar industry ‘ had saved the people of Australia millions of pounds. In further substantiation of the statement then made by me, I propose to quote from a return prepared, not on behalf of the sugar industry of Queensland, but by the Commonwealth Government SugarControl. This return covers the accounts from 19th July, 1915, to 31st March, 1922, and was circulated by the exMinister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Rodgers). At page 19 there appear figures which show that during the period covered by it there was a saving to the people of Australia of approximately £17,032,457. The foreign “ raws’” from 1915 to 1922 inclusive totalled 475,947 tons, and the average rate per ton gross was £37 19s. During the same period the Australian “ raws ‘ purchased totalled 1,412,844 tons, and the average rate per ton gross at 94 net titre’ was £25 17s. lid. The total quantity of sugar acquired for Australian consumption, taking both the foreign and Australian production during this period, was 1,888,791 tons, and the average paid for it was £28 18s. 8d. per ton. Had the whole of the sugar required for Australian consumption been purchased at world’s parity the Australian sugar bill, at the average foreign raw price of £37 19s., would thus have amounted to £71,679,618, instead of, as it did, to only £54,647,161. If Australia had produced sufficient to meet the local consumption, and had obviated the necessity of importing, the saving to the people would have amounted to £48, 990^516; but, taking the figures covering the Aus- tralian production and what we imported during this perio’d, there was an actual saving of £21,689,102. These figures show clearly that, instead of the Queensland sugar industry being indebted to Australia, Australia is indebted to it. Queensland is producing this commodity, and all that she claims on behalf of the growers is a fair return. - The quantity of sugar consumed from week to week by the average family is so small that a reduction of Id. per lb. in the price makes practically no difference in the householder’s accounts. The Federal Royal Commission on the Cost of Living in Australia reported that a man and his wife and three children - that is to say, a family of five in all- would consume on the average 5 lbs. of sugar per week. With sugar at 4Jd. per lb. such a family would thus pay 2s. Id. per week. A reduction of Id: per lb. means a saving of only 5£d. per week in the expenses of a household. Some may say that there are families which consume more than 5^ lbs. of sugar per week. To meet such a claim let us assume that a family consumes 1 lbs. weekly. In that case an extra ½d. per lb. would mean only an additional 3fd. per week, ls. 3d. per month, or 16s. 3d. , per annum.

We find that the wealthy Colonial Sugar Refining Company, the jam manufacturers, and other wealthy interests opposed to the sugar industry are using the consumers of Australia to fight their cause for them. If the consumers of sugar in the Commonwealth would turn their attention to the increase of from. 5s. to 10s. per week in rentals, or to the 200 per cent, increase in the price of clothing and other articles which are used by them, they would do better. We have npt heard a word from honorable members opposite against such increases, and I think they must admit that the figures I have quoted show that ‘in the matter of sugar the consumer has no cause for complaint.

Mr Charlton:

– It is because of increased costs that the grower must get more for his sugar.


– That is. why we had to come to his assistance.

There is another important phase of this question which we have to consider, and in which, no doubt, the honorable member for Martin will be interested. We have to ask ourselves, “ How does the sugar industry affect the fruit industry?

In what wayhas payment of a fair price to the sugar-grower adversely affected the fruit industry?” Representatives of the fruit-growers have recently complained that the depression in the fruit industry has been caused entirely by the increased price given to the sugar-growers. I shall endeavour to show that there is no ground for that complaint. The present manufacturing price of sugar is 41/4d. per lb., as against 21/4d. in 1914 - an increase of 2d. per lb. “ Processed fruit “ containing sugar is represented only in jams and canned fruits, Taking the very latest reduced prices, plum jam, is now 7d. per lb. wholesale, as against the 1914 price of 4d. per lb., while canned pears are 7.9d. per lb., as against 4.8d. per lb. Other varieties show much the same result. Since jam contains from 55 per cent, to 60 per cent, of sugar, the increased cost due to increased sugar prices is only a tiny fraction over 1d. per lb. That is important. It shows that other costs of production, &c.,’ have increased the price of jam by2d. per lb., but nothing is said about that by critics of Australian sugar prices. As canned fruits contain only one-ninth sugar, the cost of the latter is responsible for only 1/4d. of the increased price of such commodities. That is obviously a negligible item, as other costs have increased 2.85d. In other words, the increased price of sugar is responsible for only about id. of the increased cost of 2.85d. per lb. in the price of canned fruits. And yet we are told that the sugar industry is responsible for all these increases. It is obvious that the development of the sugar industry has - done no injury whatever to the Australian export trade in processed’ fruits.

I propose now to quote from a statement made by an ex-Minister in the lastParliament, which shows that the value of jam produced in Australia in 1913 was £1,224,550, whereas the production of jam in Australian factories in 1919-20 was of the value of £2,974,275. Then, again, the exports of canned fruitsin 1913 were of the value of £18,153, whereas the value of such exports in 1919-20 amounted to £524,348. In 1913, 1,858,000 lbs. of jam, containing half sugar, were exported, and in 1919-20 the export of that commodity was 44,793,000 lbs. These figures clearly show that the jam manufacturers arc by no means doing badly. We know, as a mat ter of fact, that some of them have made huge profits, and are worth anything in the vicinity of -a quarter of a million sterling. Many of them have been doing exceedingly well, but have been endeavouring to persuade the fruit-growers that the depression in the fruit industry is due to the sugar-grower demanding a greater price for his product. They have tried to turn the fruit-grower against. the sugargrower, but if the former -were alive to his true interests, hewould fight the wealthy jam manufacturers, and develop co-operative interests.

Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.


– Some of the opponents of the sugar industry point to the fact that the export of jam has fallen off since the war ended. Sugar is not to blame for that.I should like to remind them and the House that the great and phenomenal increase in the export of jams in 1916, 1917, 1918, and1919 was entirely due to the huge war -contracts which Australia was able to enter into. This was madepossiblebecause the price of Australian refined sugar never exceeded £49 per ton, whilst jam manufacturers in England and other parts of the world had to pay as high as £160 per ton for the sugar they used. During the war the manufacturers of jam in Australia, owing to the Queensland sugar production, never had to pay more than approximately £49 per ton for refined sugar. This enabled Australia to secure huge contracts -for jam, not only from the British Government, but also from the American Government. No less than 18,000,000 lbs. of jams were exported from Australia to America for the use of the American army.

Mr Prowse:

– Let the honorable member deal with the positionof affairs in peace time.


– I am showing that the Australian fruit-grower has really nothing, to growl about. Honorable members should consider how the sugar industry of Queensland has treated the rest of the Commonwealthover a period of years. They should not forget the good service in the past rendered to the Commonwealth by that great industry, and should not now be prepared to let the industry go to the wall. If we have a friend who stands to us in our hour of need we do not cast him aside when we feel that we may be able toget along without him.

Jam makers in Australia now think that they can import sugar from black labour countries, but if honorable members have a spark of Australian patriotism in their breasts they will- not stand for the breaking down of the- bulwark of the White Australia policy. Without the- sugar industry we cannot hope to develop the northern part of Australia - which Sir Henry Barwell, would like to people with black labour. . Australian manufacturers of jam. and canned fruits obtain the sugar they require at £28 per tonless,5 per cent, for cash within seven days, or £26 12s. per ton as compared with the wholesale price of £42 per ton. less 5 per cent., or £39 18s. per ton, and the. retail, price of £46 13s. 4d. per ton. These: prices show that the Government have not treated the jam manufacturer, unfairly.

Mr Prowse:

– The lower prices are for sugar for- export only..


– I have said so-. This is what Sir Henry Jones, who is by far the largest manufacturer of. jam in Australia,, has to say- with regard to the price of sugar, for jam. for. local, consumption-

Insof ar as the Australian, market is concerned it does not matter to us what price . we pay for our sugar.

According to Sir Henry Jones, so far as jam for local consumption is concerned, it does not matter what price the manufacturers pay for the sugar they use. They get a rebate- of- £14 per ton on the sugar used- in the manufacture of jams for export, and, in addition to this, they receive preferential treatment under the British Tariff to the extent of £4 5s. 7d. per ton on the sugar contents of their jams for using Empire grown sugar. Honorable members should bear in mind that Australian sugar is supplied for export at the world’s parity to the manufacturer of all goods- in which sugar is used. In the circumstances, I ask what has the jam manufacturer to growl about? On goods exported from Australia to Great Britain the latter pays a rebate of1/2d. per lb. on the sugar contents. British fruit-growers seem to get along fairly well, although the price of sugar in Great Britain for jam for local consumption is £48 10s. per ton, as against the Australian price of £39 18s. per ton. These figures show that the Australian jam manufacturer is in a more favorable position than the manufacturer of jam in Great Britain, although the latter has to compete against Australian jams and canned fruits made from sugar costing the local manufacturer about £21 10s. per ton. To hear some jam manufacturers and some misguided fruit-growers speaking, one might be led to believe that all the fruit produced in Australia is used for processing, and that the increased price of sugar makes all the difference between prosperity and adversity for the fruit-grower. I can quote a return showing that only 32 per cent, of the fruit grown in Australia is processed, and 68 per cent, of it is consumed in a fresh state. To give exact figures let me inform honorable members that the total production of fruit, exclusive of grapes, in Australia in the 1918-19 season amounted to 433,582,668 lbs. Only 32 per cent of that quantity was processed,’ and 68 per cent, of the total output was used fresh. These figures show that the price which the jam manufacturer is asked to pay for his sugar cannot make very much difference after all. Of the total production of. fruit in Australia twice as much is consumed in a fresh, state as is used; in the manuf acture of jams. The price of sugar can hardly be regarded as- a tax. upon orchardists, seeing that it affectsonly onethird of their crop, and that is- made into jam and canned fruits, the former requiring one-half sugar and the latter only one-twelfth sugar. If sugar were given to- the manufacturers for nothing the price of jams and canned, fruits would still be substantially higher than in. 1914: If the jam manufacturer received his sugar for nothing, he would have totell thetruth to the fruitgrower, and would have to admit that he is not prepared to pay any more for his fruit, because he desires to make greater profits from his jam. I have said that most of the fruit produced in Australia is consumed in the fresh state, and. the retail price ranges from 4d. to 9d. per lb. Yet the grower usually receives1d. per lb. from the manufacturers; and in view of the sugar prices outside of Australia, it must be clear that the solution of the vital troubles of the fruit industry must be looked for in directions other than the reduction of the cost of sugar used in manufacture. It is of no use to beat about . the bush and try to side-track the people of Australia. What the fruit-growers require to do is to eliminate the middlemen and those who are battening upon their industry. If we had a proper non-party organization of farmers -throughout Australia on the lines of the scheme launched by the Queensland Labour Government, and- if we established bureaux of research and rural education with a view to educating farmers in co-operative enterprise, they would be able to throw off the jam manufacturers who are to-day making use of the fruit-growers -of Australia, and in doing so are receiving the assistance of some members of the alleged Country party. I ask honorable members to listen to what Sir Henry Jones said, according to a report of has speech which appealed in the Melbourne Sun, .27th October, 1922. In addressing Tasmania!! fruit-growers, he said -

The Governments of Australia, and particularly of New South Wales and Victoria, have ruined the fruit industry. Millions have been spent in irrigation, and people persuaded to grow Bruit Which the world does not want.

Sir Henry Jones must, if he is honest, know that an increase in the pi-ice of sugar does not account for-1 any stagnation in the fruit industry. Honorable members who come from Tasmania know full well that the slightly increased price that has had to be paid for sugar, because of the necessity of giving a fair deal to the sugar -growers df Queensland, does not account ‘for the stagnation in the fruit industry. Sir Henry Jones., addressing a .meeting of fruit-»grower9, had to admit that the New ;South Wales amd Victorian Governments have been largely responsible for it bv spending millions, as he -said; on (irrigation, and persuading people to grow fruit for which .there is no market -at .all. This, of course, suited the book of the jam manufacturers, ‘because it placed them in a position, (irrespective of the price of sugar, to offer any price they pleased to the fruit-grower, who was compelled to accept it. When the fruit-growers; growl, the jam manufacturers blame the demands of the terrible sugar industry and the impudent sugar -growers of ‘Queensland. As a matter of fact, these are not in any way to blame. Nothing is said of railway freights, ocean freights, and the profits made by middlemen in the handling of fruit. I can quote the instance of one consignment of’ fruit to Sydney that realized £18 l’9s. . 6d. Of this amount, commission charges represented £6 9s. -6d, cases a,nd cartage £7 10s., leaving only £5 for the grower of the fruit. A Brisbane shipment realized £-48 13s. ; and of this amount £22 9s. 2d. represented commission charges, .£7 10s. cases and cartage, leaving only £18 3s. lOd. out of a total of £48 139. for the grower of the fruit, the middlemen getting the rest. We know that the present Government, which is largely a Government of middlemen, will stand for that sort of thing, and will consent to the bleeding of the fruit-growers and workers in order to permit the middleman to continue to draw profits from both. They contend that we have had too much interference by Governments because they know that the people whom they represent do not want any one to interfere with them, but desire to be allowed to go. their own -sweet way, and to continue to filch large profits from the people. What is wanted is more .encouragement for co-operation . I must at this stage refer to the Melbourne newspapers that have had so much to :say against the Queensland sugar (industry. I take the Melbourne Age, which has a daily circulation of about 175,000 copies. The proprietors of the Age increased the price of the paper .by Id. per copy, and by so doing, in the course of a year, exacted taxation from the people of Victoria to the extent of £227,500. Double that sum for the Age and the Argus, and we find that a total of nearly £500,000 a year is being ta’ken. from the people of Victoria. Is that justifiable? For a period during the war the Sydney newspapers charged- 2d. per copy, but their price was reduced to 3d. some time ago.

Mr Mahony:

– The Daily Mail forced the other Sydney morning papers to reduce their price.


– It is a -pity that similar pressure is not brought to bear upon the Melbourne .morning dailies. They have a lot to say about the slightly increased price of sugar but they say nothing -about the increase of their own wares hy l’OO per cent., which extracts nearly £500,000 per annum from the pockets of the people of Victoria. In addition, the price of all advertisements has been increased.

In the meat industry, as in the fruit industry, Australia has proved to be a successful producer, but a bad marketer of her produce. The late Government, by undertaking the selling of primary products,- and . bungling in connexion therewith, diverted £120,000,000 from the pockets of the producers into those of middlemen, speculators, and sharks, If the men who created that wealth had established a proper system of co-operation, all that money would have been circulated amongst those who had really earned it. Co-operation should not start and end with butter factories. Those engaged in butter production throughout Australia have proved that they can conduct their business cooperatively. The fruit-growers, too, will have to realize the advantages of ‘ cooperation. I am very sorry that the Government have not made a definite pronouncement as to what they intend to do bo assist the meat industry. In travelling about Australia, I have found that thousands of people who have devoted the greater part’ of their lives to the building up of herds are on the verge of bankruptcy. It is the duty of the Commonwealth Government to call a conference of representatives of the big meat companies and experts in the selling of meat in order to endeavour to arrive at a solution of the present difficulty. The meat industry used to be worth millions of pounds per annum to the Commonwealth; to-day it is experiencing a depression, and whilst those who are engaged in it are unable to help themselves, it appears to be nobody’s business to come to their aid. The Government should call a conference of selling experts with a view to stabilizing this industry. I know the problem is a difficult one, but we must tackle it. During the war, Argentina sold to the British troops only secondclass beef, the first quality being retained for the Republic’s- ‘special customers. Australia, on the other hand, sold all its beef to the British authorities. When the war ended, Argentina had retained all her old customers, and was able to dump its secondclass beef as Australian meat. The result, was that the product of this country was given a bad name in the markets of the Old World. By organizing the industry, and particularly the marketing of her produce, Argentina has stolen a march on Australia, but I believe that .a conference of representatives of all the meat companies would go far towards evolving a solution of the present trouble.

Another important subject requiring attention is the development of the Northern Territory. That immense province has been shamefully neglected, and I am sorry that this Parliament, when it decided to give the Territory representation in this Chamber, did not also concede voting power. Why was the vote refused? Because the late Government, which had a majority of only one over the other two parties in this House, feared that the representative of the Northern Territory might be a Labour man, and by his vote put the Government out of office. I believe the Territory would develop more rapidly if it were given some form of self-government; with assistance, if necessary, from the Commonwealth. Government from Melbourne has proved a fiasco. The Territory has -been a mere hunting ground for people who have no other interest in it than to make money, and retard closer settlement. The present method of exploitation does not tend to an increase of population, but rather to stagnation. I hope that, before Parliament . reassembles, this question will have received consideration at the hands of the new Government.

A matter in which I am keenly interested is the establishment of a rural credits department in connexion with the Commonwealth Bank. Like State insurance, the Commonwealth Bank has been a great success, but just as State insurance in Queensland was bitterly opposed, so the proposed establishment of the Commonwealth Bank was resisted by the Conservatives in this House. I well remember what was said upon the subject in 1912 by the late Mr. Alfred Deakin and Sir Joseph Cook. They said that the time was not opportune for this innovation; that a Commonwealth Bank was not necessary; and that private institutions could supply the needs of the country. There was no need for Government interference, they urged. They did not want a .people’s bank established; because it might reduce the profits that were being made by the private banking companies which were contributing to the political funds of honorable members opposite. Their predictions have been falsified, and the time has come when the operations of the Commonwealth Bank should be further extended by the creation of a rural credits system. The Australian farmer has good security, and under a scheme of rural credits in connexion with the Commonwealth Bank would be able to obtain large sums of money at reasonable rates of interest for the purpose of developing his property. This system of rural credits has been remarkably successful in the United States of America and Canada. It has practically changed the life of the producers in those countries. The successful farmer must become more of a business man every year. He must have better machinery and more fertilizers, be thoroughly up to date in all his operations, and, if he is to keep- his sons and daughters on the land, he must make home life more attractive, because the tendency everywhere is for young folk in rural districts to drift to the_ cities, leaving the old people out on the land. The establishment of a rural credits department, as suggested, would insure for the producer a better deal than is obtainable from private banking institutions. Necessarily, the latter, if they are to pay big dividends to their shareholders, must obtain larger profits. The Hughes Government were asked some years ago to establish agricultural rural credits in conjunction with the. Commonwealth Bank, but refused to do so.’ This principle is a plank of the Labour party platform, but I shall not feel at all jealous if the present Government give effect to the proposal, because it is urgently necessary in the interests of the people of Australia.

Another matter which I desire to emphasize is the need for the Commonwealth Government spending more money on the Bureau of Science and Industry. I believe very good work is being done already by that institution; but I cannot help reminding honorable members of the serious menace to Australia of the prickly pear pest. At present, about £6,000 per annum is being spent in searching for the most economical and effective’ means of eradicating the pest. One-half of this sum, I understand, is provided -by the Commonwealth, and one-half by the Governments of Queensland and New South Wales. This expenditure is totally inadequate to combat n pest that to-day infests 27,500,000 acres of land in Queensland, and 2,500,000 acres in New South Wales, and is spreading at the rate of 1,000,000 acres per year. The people in Victoria have no conception of the ravages of this pest. If the Japanese were encroaching on Australian territory at anything like the rate recorded as for the prickly pear, instead of spending £6,000 per annum to check their inroads, the Government would be prepared to spend millions. Experiments have been carried out by Professor Harvey Johnston, of the Queensland University, and other scientists, with the cochineal insect, a natural enemy of the prickly pear, which has been remarkably successful in the United States of America, the home of the pest, and in South Africa. A laboratory with a few hundred cochineal insects and pear bugs has been established by the Bureau of Science and Industry at Westwood, in Central Queensland, under the control of a recognised scientist, Mr. W. L).’ Alexander, MA.

Mr Maxwell:

– Does the prickly pear infest any particular class of land?


– No. Some of the best land in Queensland is now under prickly pear, the seeds of which are distributed by stock, birds, and wind. The pest was imported many years ago to Scone, in New South- Wales, and Warwick, in Queensland. It was then regarded as a beautiful plant, but, like many other imported plants, it got out of hand, and today it is, perhaps, the most serious menace to the rural areas of Northern Australia. To give honorable members an idea of the seriousness of the outlook, I may state that, in 1916-17, the area under prickly pear, contrasted with the areas under the principal crops in Australia as follows: - prickly pear, 22,208,000 acres; wheat, 11,500,000 acres; hay, 2,600,000 acres; oats, 844,000 acres; green forage, 390,000 acres; maize, 360,000 acres; orchard and fruit gardens, 257,000 acres; total, 15,951,000 acres. These figures show that in the year mentioned the prickly pear covered 6,000,000 acres more land than all the other crops put together. I trust, therefore, that the Common.wealth Government will give this matter very serious attention in the immediate future. ‘

I hope, also, that the Government will make available additional grants of money for telephonic, telegraphic, and postal facilities throughout the Commonwealth. If we expect, people to go out to the remote, areas, we should do all that is possible to make life there more congenial. On the 30th June last the following were the arrears in telephonic and postal facilities: - 14,459 telephone subscribers’ lines, 2’76 telephone trunk lines, 41 telegraph lines, and 182 approved country telephone lines. If the surplus of £1,000,000 a year that the Post and Telegraph Department has made for the past six years had been put into a fund audi devoted to providing the necessary facilities, that list of arrears would not be so great. I am pleased that, a, sum of loan money has been put aside for the purpose of carrying out postal, telegraphic, and telephonic works. I have- received a number of departmental letters1 to the effect that funds and material are not available for extensions and new work, but I remind the Government that if. funds and material were made available all these works would be revenue-producing. That the necessary provision is not made shows that this is not a business Government. I hope that the matter will be earnestly considered by the Government, so that there may be provided those postal, telegraphic, and’ telephonic conveniences so necessary iu the interests of the country districts, throughout Australia. I trust that when we meet again after the three or four months’ adjournment this socalled business Government will enter upon a. bold, constructive Australian policy. I have my doubts whether this Administration is capable of this; but let us hope some efforts will be made to carry on the government, not in the interests of those who may subscribe to the party funds, but in the interests of the people as a, whole, and that something may be done towards making Australia the greatest country iu the civilized world.


.- Attacks having been made on the Country party, of. which I am a member, I think, it is only right that I should -let the House and the public know where I stand in relation to the development of this country in, the interests of the people; individually and collectively. Time and time again- the insult has been hurled at members of the Country party that we as a party have been financed by a strong organization at our backs. Several other allegations have been made against us, ‘but to that one in particular I can give the lie direct: The Country party stands here for measures and not men.


– What about your ‘ managers “ ?


– The measures of those .managers- will, I trust, be in accord with the ideas and policy of the Country party, for otherwise, speaking for myself, they will not meet with approval. The Country party is the party of Australia. Its object is. to make Australia a great nation, and not merely to pass sectional legislation. Certainly the country has not been developed properly in the past; and this, is much to be deplored in view of our vast resources-.

We have been told that the Labour party in 1910 placed on the statute-book measures which cannot be cavilled at; but I ask what right had the Labour party then, by introducing a paper legal, tender, to deprive the people, of Australia of the right of demanding gold on account of the deposits they had in, the banks? Any nation which bases its legal tender on paper is doomed. We live in a fool’s paradise so long as we think we can make something out of nothing. ‘ The only wealth, or, at any rate, the leverage of all wealth, is gold - it is the backbone-of our financial organization. At. the present time there is something like £7,000,000 surplus of imports over exports. It- is impossible to make a nation of Australia on such a basis, and certainly the balance cannot be restored by closing such establishments as the Newcastle Steel Works. The Country party are “ out “ to give an equal opportunity to all to rise and prosper ; we do not believe- in, dragging all down to the level of mediocracy. Our individual capacities and abilities are given to us by the Creator to be used to the. best advantage, and without proper incentive we shall cease, to make, any effort. Honorable members, opposite dc not seem to” understand the laws of nature, the non-observance of which can only lead to chaos. We desire. Australia to be thoroughly independent, and. each individual permitted to exercise his Godgiven faculties. There are no two. things alike iti nature - no two men, no two flakes of snow - and yet there is an idea abroad that to all must he paid the same minimum wage. Every man should have ‘the freedom to exert himself as he chooses in order to rise out of the ruck. I believe in ia decent standard .of living; but in order to have and maintain it we must not allow the products of black, or any other nations, to enter the Commonwealth. The Tariff must be regulated by the cost of laving in this country; indeed, that is the only way in which the country can be developed. It would be better to have the black man here than to have his products ; .at any rate, one is just .as evil as the other. The only way in which Australia can be developed is .by Protection. There is no .sense in sending our wool away at high freights in order that it may come hack to us manufactured, when we ought to be able to do all the manufacturing ourselves. It is, in my opinion, a disgrace to this country that we cannot manufacture everything we require. I am pleased to observe that my honorable friends opposite approve of that sentiment.

Several honorable members interjecting,

Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon W A Watt:

– An honorable member addressing . the House is entitled to ‘be heard in silence, and I ask honorable members to desist from this uproar ,and interruption.

Mr West:

– Some honorable members cannot help it !


– Honorable members must “help it.”


– I have suffered so much from interjections in Parliament that I am accustomed to them.


– This House is not going to be accustomed to them.


– It is the duty of the Ministers who have taken on the responsibility of government to reveal all that has occurred in the past, so that we may know exactly who has been responsible for maladministration. This should certainly be done in order that the confidence of the public in their parliamentary representatives may be restored and maintained. As it is, people with whom I have come in contact seem inclined to look aside if they see a member of Par liament, whom they evidently regard ;as an undesirable. It is the duty of the Government to afford all information regarding .sugar and other contracts, War Service Homes, and so forth. What .has occurred ‘in connexion with .the .latter is enough to make the angels weep. Some £50.y000 has had to be paid by the Government -on account of withdrawals from contracts, and the names of those responsible should he made known. When assets are under the control of the Government they should be .dealt with as they would be by a banking institution, aud we should be informed of the position. I believe in Australia possessing a mercantile marine, but I am strongly opposed to the method in which the Commonwealth Line has been managed by the Government. A .sum of £2,300,000 involved in the (construction of vessels has been debited .to the war .account. The losses on the wooden ships have also been charged to the war account, and the .expenditure involved has been debited to the construction and not to the trading account. Surely there can be no reason why this important branch of Government activity should not be handled in a ‘business-like way, and the greatest publicity given to all transactions relating to it, so that the taxpayers of Australia might know the exact position ! The value of these ships will have to he written down by at least 5.0 per cent, .before we can .ascertain the facts.

During the debates in this Parliament frequent references have been made to the desirableness of proceeding with the construction of the Federal Capital at :a more rapid rate, and also to the construction of the North-South railway. There are many .other directions which I need not enumerate in which the expenditure of large sums of money would -be involved. The . Trans-Australian Railway cost, approximately, £.7,000,000, and although it should be our policy to provide facilities in the matter of railway communication these undertakings should be placed on a business footing, aud the financial position of each carefully scrutinized. Only work of a .reproductive character should be undertaken, and when one realizes the cost incurred in constructing the Trans-Australian Railway, the possible outlay involved in the .building of ,a North-South .line, and the expenditure -of £2,000,000 which has already been incurred at Canberra, one naturally wonders where the money is coming from to pay the interest on the capital outlay. What is thecapital invested at Canberra earning? I am not likely to record a vote in. favour of another trans-continental line, nor shall I sanction the expenditure of one penny piece on similar undertakings until I know what revenue is likely to be derived from it. I do not think the returns from the TransAustralian Railway are sufficient to pay for axle grease.

The Commonwealth Bank has done good work, and under efficient management I believe it will continue to render a service to the community.I do not think there can be any objection to the control of the Bank being placed in tho hands of a board’ of directors, because there is, or should be, wisdom in the multitude of counsellors. I am a banker, and I am surprised to hear s.orne honorable members suggest that a Board should be appointed to inquire into the work of tho associated banks. Icannot understand how any financial institution which has to pay 5 per cent, for money can, after making full allowance for working expenses, loan money at less than 7 per cent, and make a profit.


– The Commonwealth Bank is doing it.


– Not on capitalacquired at 5 per cent. Those who are satisfactorily conducting private undertakings and institutions, and are rendering a service to the community, should be allowed to carry on without outside interference.

Tasmania is groaning beneath Federal oppression, and has had to pay its s ha re towards the cost incurred in constructing the Trans-Australian Railway, in attempts to develop the Northern Territory, in sugar bounties, and in numerous other directions.

Mr Fenton:

– And the Commonwealth pays Tasmania £90,000 a year.


– Yes, and I trust that that grant will be continued. We are here as representatives of a Federation, and it is our duty to mete out justice to all portions of the Commonwealth. The grant which Tasmania receives is provided for in the Constitution. If a State is finan cially embarrassed this Parliament may come to its assistance. I trust that through the wisdom of honorable members, and the chivalry which I am sure they will display, what is known as the Cinderella State of the Federation will receive fair consideration at the hands of the Government. I have not heard Tasmania mentioned since I have occupied a seat in this Chamber. Tasmania intends to honour the Federal compact, and does not mind contributing her share of the expenditure incurred in the interests of the whole Commonwealth. But the Commonwealth has been getting £1,000,000 a year from Tasmania, and giving very little in return. I trust that when the question of the Tasmanian grant comes before this House honorable members will assist in giving that State the assistance which she justly deserves.

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

– I can recall the great assistance which tho honorable member for . Darwin (Mr: Whitsitt) gave the party which carries the same flag . as we do in his own little island, and I am with the honorable member on the question of Protection. Wo, as Australians, should love Australia, and decide that we shall have everything we need made in Australia by Australian hands. If there are to be rich men in our midst who will control the workers, let them be in Australia, so that we can control them, and see that the men whom they employ work under favorable conditions. To enable my remarks to be more readily understood by honorable’ members opposite and others who may honour me by reading my utterances in Ilansard, I purpose reading word for word the speech delivered by His Excellency theGovernorGeneral in opening Parliament. This, is the speech of a gentleman who holds the highest position which any one can occupy in Australia, and who represents the head of the British Empire - gentlemen of the senate, and gentlemen of the House of Representatives :

Your attendance has been required at this date in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, and for the purpose of enabling my advisers to meet Parliament.

After the General Election held, on 16th December last, the Prime Minister tendered the resignations of himself and his colleagues, and I have appointed new advisers, who assumed office on the ninth day of February.

It affords me pleasure, on this the first meeting of the Ninth Parliament of the Commonwealth, to be able to congratulate you upon the sound condition of the trade, commerce, and industries of Australia. There are indications to justify belief in the continuance of these conditions.

In view of the recent assumption of office by my advisers, time is required for the preparation of measures to give effect to their policy. You will be invited to reassemble as early as practicable to consider a definite programme of legislation.

My Ministers have under consideration subjects of n national character in which the Commonwealth and States are jointly concerned. Prior to the next meeting of the Parliament it is proposed by my advisers to invite the Governments of the States to confer with them on these matters.

Commending your deliberations to the guidance of Divine Providence, I now leave you to the discharge of your high and honorable duties.

With a memory of nearly thirty-five years spent in this Chamber, I cannot recall one Speech from a State Governor or Governor-General so barren of matter as this, which a gentleman pf high education and great attainments was compelled to read. And at what a- cost to the country ! Taking into consideration the salary of £10,000 a year paid to the GovernorGeneral, and the wages paid to all who participated in the ceremonies, down to the brave boys carrying bayonets in front of this Parliament in time of peace, the waste of money was considerable. On the day before the opening, instead of one aide-de-camp, being sent along to do a little rehearsing, and see how things were to be done, more than a dozen men, drawing high salaries, came here to do what could have been done by a boy of sixteen after consultation with our Librarian, who has perhaps seen a score of newly-elected Speakers presented. in the Library to the representative of the Sovereign. In the name of common sense, why was it necessary for the Admiral- of the Fleet to come here and see how Mr. Speaker would introduce himself to the Governor-General 1 But all this nonsense will continue, I presume while the people who are called upon to foot the bill have no say, either “ Yea “ or “ Nay.” I am not too severe when I describe His Excellency’s Speech as nothing but political piffle.

Here I may show how things are done in England. Of course, I am aware that until the terrors of the war compelled the Government of Great Britain to give the citizens of that country the right of their manhood, no Englishman, Irishman,

Welshman, or Scotchman had the right to a vote there, and even now no English woman is considered -fit to vote until she is thirty years of age. What impertinent insolence on the part of the man who drafted such a measure ! We in Australia give every mau and woman twenty-one years of age the right to vote in this part of the British Empire. I heard the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) speak of the intelligence of those who come here from England. God bless my soul, they do not display much intelligence in regard to the matter of the franchise !

Now I want to compare the policy of stay-in-office-at-any-price and delayanddelay, as adopted in Australia quite recently, with the attitude assumed by Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Asquith in similar circumstances, and their preparedness to hold an election and meet Parliament. Had Mr. Lloyd George formed committees in the 6C0 odd electorates of the United Kingdom; he would have shown a lack of faith in his colleagues. On the other hand, the Conservative party knew that as soon as they withdrew their support from him he would follow the British precedent, which was not followed here, and resign immediately, and so they were prepared for such an emergency. Mr. Lloyd George- resigned on the 20th October. Parliament was dissolved on’ the 28th October. Nominations closed on the 4th November. The election was held on the 15th November, and the new Parliament assembled on the 20th November - one month from the date of Mr. Lloyd George’s resignation. Let us see what happened in Australia. This new Parliament was elected on the 16th December. It was not called together until the 28tn February. Why did not the ex -Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes) follow the splendid example set by Mr-. Lloyd George, and resign earlier ? Why was not the predominant party pf the three parties elected to -this House consulted by the Governor-General? Goodness knows, I am not here to judge His Excellency, but he had better mind his p’s and q’.a, or the people of Australia may some time get as tired of him as they are of having six Governors in the various States. In eleven days Mr. Lloyd George could not form committees right throughout the United Kingdom; neither could Mr. Asquith in similar circumstances. Why was it that the . Australian Labour party mas not decimated upon the dissolution &i Parliament, . as were the followers of Mr. Asquith and Mr. Lloyd George? Simply becausethe party is -always ‘.organized - is (always standing fou.r-sq-uaire to any political ‘emergency .

So that honorable : members who honouime by reading my remarks anay . have everything -cogent, I purpose reading the amendtiaenit to the motion for the adoption of an Addi-ess-in-Reply submitted in -this Chamber , -in such a splendid -maainer by the honorable member forBourke (Mr. Anstey) in the unfortunate absence., through illness., of our worthy Leader (Mr.Charlton). That amendment is . as follows : -

That the -following words be added to the proposed Address-in-Reply : - “ but we regret that this House views with disapprobation the sonduct of the Government in meeting Par.lia-. ment with a Speech containing no evidence of any . public policy. There is no mention of any intended policy upon the subject of international trade . winch the . head of the Government has asserted to be fundamental to the progress -and prosperity of Australia. There is no mention of a policy on the sugar agreement, -which expires next June. There is no mention . of , a policy relating to the development of internal trade which is so vital to the employment of our people, but on the contrary the administrative methods pursued by , the Government accentuate unemployment.

There -is no mention of the . attitude . of theGovernment towards arbitration, towards the oil -and wireless agreements, or towards oldage and imyalid -pensions. It makes no mention as to . whether it intends to investigate ‘.the , . Serviee Homes and -other matters . of maladministration exposed last session by the Labour party. loi brief, this ‘Government, which claims to be a Govecnment of business . men, gives no evidence of such qualification. There is not one subject in His Excellency’s Speech upon which is given a definite, a concrete, or a composite -opinion.

Undej.’ these circumstances, , -and in view of the peculiar methods under which this Government wus formed, and in view of the fact that this Government discloses an unseemly haste to . reach the haven of a recess of several imouiths’ duration, . thus leaving in abeyanee -the discussion . of these subjects vital to the welfare of our country, this House deems it necessary to protest and declare that this Government does not possess its confidence.”

The amendment is not too severe in its terms. The Melbourne Age, in to-day’s issue, states -

The Leaders divided up the portfolios and came to Parliament with a Governor-General’s speech tlJnt [was a blank.

That is -the opinion of a paper that is the strongest, politically, in Victoria, and one of the anost influential in Australia. So far as the capacity of its officials are concerned, . it . ‘is one . of the most -cleverly organized journals in the world. If ithe members of -this wonderful Ministry could have drawn their salary only from the moment when they met Parliament with a policy, -there would certainly have been no adjournment of some -months to enable them to go into recess; yet fhe people who pay us our wages . have no more power over Parliament than they have to change the ‘Speaker’s mace, which is but a sham, into actual metal. The Age also says -

The last Government acted -in defiance of Parliament, and arrogantly invaded ; both public right and parliamentary j>vivi’lege.

In the 1920-21 session I submitted a motion inviting the House to -express the’ opinion that, in view of the necessity for economy, . and to . prevent ‘extr,av.aga,iice, when -any . appointments . were made dsn the recess carrying salaries . of £500 per annum -or upwards, such appointments -should be . only tcmpor/aay, . until indorsed by a vote of Parliament, . and further indorsed by the’ electors . at the fflfist general election, and also that -all such- -appointments should be -adequately -advertised. If that motion had been -taken to a vote, many honorable member* would have had to support it rather than face their constituents and take the consequences of voting against it. There should be no secret appointments. Why should one man be selected from a thousand and given a position at a highsalary when men of greater ability in the Government Departments are passed over? Let the members of tihe Public Service he asked what they thinik of the late ‘Government for making appointments in such circumstances. If the present Government are allowed to go into recess ‘ it is possible for them to act similarly if they are so inclined. The Age . goes on to say -

But at least the Prime Minister has answered the public demand in making an explanation as -precise as that which actually constitutes a Governor-General’s Speech, and as complete as the indecision of his . Cabinet has made possible.

Mr Cook:

– Do you believe all that the Age has said?

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

– Possibly, I would rather believe that journal than accept the honorable member’s opinion on some questions. If I were honoured by having a son. such as the present Prime Minister, I would be proud of him because of his mentality and physical appearance. But physical beauty, if not coupled with greatness of mind, is sometimes a bane and. a curse, as the- history of the world shows. I hope that Mr. Bruce wall justify his good appearance.

He was unfair, however, in accusing the Labour party of hiding our ethics and ideals from those whom we seek to represent. Beyond the planks of the Labour platform there are no honorable members freer than we are. If any question outside of those items of Labour policy arises, I am at liberty to hold up the whole Caucus upon. it. When a man believes in the Labour platform, he should not be ashamed of it. I have signed every plank, and I consider they embody high ideals. The word “ Socialism” is used. If we go to the highest English authority for the meaning of that term we shall find that the ethics of Socialism are really the ethics of Christianity. The Nationalist party is like a boa constrictor, badly wounded. It has returned to this Parliament minus goodness knows how many of the late Ministry, with whom the people of Australia would have nothing further to do-. The casualties included the late Minister for Defence and Health (Mr. Greene), the Postmaster-General (Mr. Poynton), the Minister for Trade andCustoms (Mr. Rodgers), and the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Earle). What a wonderful political- history the last-named gentleman has had, by the way. Then there are other former. Ministers who, though they managed to return to these precincts, have fallen from their high places. I am reminded that -

There was a young lady of Niger,

Who smiled as she rode on a tiger;

They returned from the ride,

With the lady inside,

And the smile on the face of the tiger.

Who are the Nationalists to-day ? What are their planks in the platform of the Government? Every individual who subscribes even a humble- shilling to the funds of the ‘Labour organization is known ; there is no secrecy. But who subscribes money to the Nationalists ? I cannot say, though I have my suspicions–.. I shall, tell the House how the Na tionalists get their money and how bribery, corruption, fraud, robbery and jobbery come into political life. I take my information from the Age of 27th October, 1922. In a souvenir of the recent elections I quoted the particulars, with an introduction, thus -

This “ inner circle “ is the head andfront of Money Power. It receives almost fabulous cheques from shipping, pastoral, commercial, importing, mining, and financial concerns, and in dark secrecy it allocates the money- to various branches of the Nationalist Party, for expenditure along definite lines carefully laid down by the Union, itself. The main avenues of expenditure may be set out as follow: -

  1. Publicity and support of the Nationalist Party.
  2. Advances to cover the election expenses of candidates.
  3. Provision for conveyances for speakers and organizers before election day, and for voters going to the polls on election days.
  4. Payment of the salaries and expenses of huge organizing and publicity staffs, who spend money like water at election time.
  5. Provision of consolation prizes for men who consent to run in the Nationalist interest in electorates where there is no possibility of success. This is a device to keep opposing candidates busy in their own electorates, and prevent them from assisting others who need their help.

I thank the Age for having made those particulars ‘ public. They amount to the moststartling exposure of infamy in the whole of our political life. It would appear that New Zealand has her ideals of political rectitude, for I read in the press of 27th February that an inquiryis being conducted into the allegation that a political candidate spent some money upon strawberries and cream ! How often do we know of the existence of things of which we cannot bring proof! I have heard made the statement - which has remained unchallenged - that 5,000,000 bushels of wheat disappeared from New South Wales alone, most of it stolen. An honorable member opposite, who holds the second highest position this’ House can confer, said, “ One man with whom I talked was man enough to say that he was offered a bribe of £50,000.” The National Government would not institute an inquiry for the purpose of obtaining evidence in relation to that charge. These things are small in comparison with others that have occurred.

I quote from an article which has arrested my attention. The Age, of 27th February last, said - ‘

When the new Federal Parliament opens to-morrow it may be . assumed that the Governor-General’s Speech will indicate the terms under which the new coalition has been formed and the nature of the measures the Government proposes to prepare during the adjournment.

The keen, writer of that article, with many years of political experience, naturally expected that the Governor- General would not be asked to give utterance to such piffle as is contained in the Speech. The article goes on to say-

It has been suggested that, having concealed their policy from the public hitherto, Ministers will also try the same tactics with Parliament.

Mystery, all is mystery; knowing how prone the public are to forgive and forget. Have honorable members forgotten how that huge fleet of ships was bought? I thundered as loudly as I could from this side of the House, seeking information. I have many friends amongst the shipping companies, and I am proud that I have their, regard. I have asked some of these men, “ Do you think that any commission was paid on this?” The answer has been, “Certainly, doctor; , commission was paid.” Have we any chance of arriving at the truth oT these matters? Never, while this conglomerate Government exists. The article proceeds -

In the days of genuine parliamentary government an opinion of the kind would have been laughed to scorn. Before the war two party leaders who concocted a scheme for sharing public pay and position, and then asked Parliament to take them on trust for some months, while they locked up Parliament, would have been accounted too ignorant and audacious to be given power for a single week.

There is a column and a half of this here, tho reading of which will repay any man. It ought to be written in letters of gold, and placed in our schools so that our children might be brought up with a horror of a Government that would face such criticism, and keep silent. This article goes on to say -

But the Hughes Government, swollen by a sense of tyrannical powers drawn from the War Precautions Act, degraded the standards of public life, laughed at Parliament’s authority, and acted like a set of company directors whose first concern is to keep knowledge of the business from the shareholders. Tolerance of that state of things for long after the war had closed led to many abuses, and cost the country a vast amount of money.

This Government is following that bad example. How long is it going to last ? Here is another gem -

Party whispers may possibly have informed politicians about the particular (Concessions that Mr. Bruce or Mr. Page has undertaken to make. The public has been kept resolutely in the dark.

Who knows ‘what was offered ? I think too highly of Dr. Page to believe that the dangling before him of an extra few hundred pounds a year would have any effect on him. There is something which requires to be told- to the public, who are called upon to pay. The article proceeds -

The glimpses obtained by the public of Ministers slinking about the country like little boys playing at “Kelly gang” caused a good deal of .laughter.

This . is too serious for laughter. Anything that is done outside the light of day is not honorable. The writer goes on to say -

If this experience be an indication that the disastrous “ keep-it-dark “ policy of . the Hughes Government is to be tried again, in contempt of Parliament itself, the Coalition may expect to cause indignation rather than merriment, and to have a brief existence.

I have had extensive experience of the fusion of two parties in State and Federal politics, and I do not think that the friends of this. Government promise it a long life. It is called “ The Bruce-Page Government.” I think we ought to put Page first, .because he is the boss. I have here a picture showing Mr. Bruce looking very solemn. He is made to address Dr. Page in the following terms: - “Doctor, I think when you have finished sewing that tail on to the dog it will wag the dog.” The “ tail “ referred to is the Country party. Here is another extract from this very interesting article -

Before the Bruce-Page team can be granted an adjournment it must show the things for which it stands, and offer the opportunity for Parliamentary challenge.

Honorable “members will recollect the delicacy with which the honorable gentleman sympathized with the unfortunate old-age and invalid pensioners. Honorable members will agree that an ounce of help is worth a ton of sympathy.

While the honorable gentleman was speaking I interjected that he could alter a good many of the conditions which, he acknowledged, lean heavily and unjustly upon our poor brothers and sisters. When I applied for my old-age pension, you, Mr. Speaker, quite within your rights, referred me to the Commissioner of Pensions. I replied that I did not thank you for sending me to the Commissioner, because you well knew that the law forbade my receiving the pension. I wanted to show every old man and woman in Australia that no disgrace attached to the making of an application for the pension. The biggest parasite that Australia produced - Sir Samuel Griffith - the man who drew £90,000 out of Australia, cadged for an old-age pension. I was the only one who gave him credit for the work that he had done. He honoured Our English tongue by trans:lating part of the works of the great Italian poet, Dante Alighieri, into English vernacular. If, by unfortunate experiments in finance he lost his money, I would, with any other honorable member, have contributed equal to what I paid by way of income tax, as long as he lived. The present Prime Minister has shown a lot of sympathy for the old-age pensioners, and I believe he has felt it. The Government gave Sir Samuel Griffith a pension of £5 a day, or £35 a week, and if I asked for one day’s wage for one month for my old brothers and sisters, I would not be able to get it. Who knows better than the Prime Minister the increase in the cost of living? If any old relation of his, paternal or maternal - and God forbid that itshould be so - were trying to live on 153. a week, I hope that he would not merely give him sympathy, but would do something more. I have seen three or four thousand of these old people in the city of Melbourne. I fried last session to improve, their position, and I had the same motion ready for this session, but have withheld it. The honorable member for Ballarat moved it. I tried to get a vote. The National Government dared not have a vote, for it knew that the House would have agreed that old-age pensions should be made £1 per week. Thank the Lord I can help some of these old people by making up their pensions to what I think they should be!

Now I come to the question of whether it is money only. Honorable members will carry in their minds what I have said about the National Union, which is a power through all Australia. Are we to go back to the words of old Omar Khayyam, and say of the Country party members that they “ take the cash and let the credit go “ ? The Country party .will have to face the music - “ Oh ! the brave murmur of the distant drum !”-and when they go back again to the country they will not be a distinct party. They will have to go back as one party with the Nationalists. The Labour party will glory at the opportunity that- will then be provided, with a full knowledge that we will be able to wipe out the Nationalist majority in the Senate, and will secure a majority in this House. There was some talk that they had not sought Cabinet for the sake of office, but had sought office for the sake of Cabinet. They merely rose from the dust of their dead selves and got better jobs.

Why cannot the Ministry, which is aware of the facts as well as I am, take some action in those cases in which the children of the dear men who left their dead bodies on the plains of Flanders and on Gallipoli are helping to pay interest on the war debt ? When I asked a question on this subject I did it with all respect. I asked if the higher paid officials under the British flag - from the King of England and the Emperor of India right down to the officers and men of the Fleet, the officers and privates of the Army, the Judges - both those who wear horsehair and those who do not - the Speaker of this House,’ members of Parliament, and Cabinet Ministers - did not receive salaries which were known publicly. That being so, I wanted to know why the men who drew great incomes in our beloved Australia - this” land which gives them the privilege of making those huge sums - should not- have their incomes disclosed to the public in the Government Gazette. I was informed that it. was a fact that the salaries of these people whom I have indicated were known. My second question was, “ With a view to apportioning a just taxation on those best able to bear it, will the Treasurer bring before the Cabinet the urgent necessity of publishing the net incomes of all citizens receiving over £500 per annum? “ Mr. Bruce replied, “ No.” It was a very distinct “ No,” and he added, “ There are many objections to such a course.” Had I been able to obtain such a return I would ‘have asked how much these men, who did not offer their lives to their country, had helped- it by taking up bonds, with or without interest. I was only able to ascertain that £1,200 in a number of gifts had been lent to the Government free of interest - £1,200 out of over £3,000,000!

I also framed a motion about the High Commissioner. I defy any one to say that we have received 5 per cent, of the value of the money we have spent on Australia House. We have a building splendidly designed by a good architect. It is a magnificent picture to see. We have six Agents-General and one High Commissioner. I well know that the Agents-General are under the control of the States; but the Commonwealth Government could suggest to the States that some regard should be paid, to the ideals of Federation as announced by men on all sides of politics- when we adopted Federation. It was said that we would do away with all this unnecessary expense.’ It is time the Government of the States carried out the ideals held by the people who voted for Federation. I believe that any rich Australian, from whatever part of Australia he comes, is well received at Australia House, and, perhaps, they can” make arrangements forhim to attend at Court. I am perfectly certain that if honorable members saw the Court scene on the picture-screen, that great educator of the present day, they would laugh at the ladies trying to kick their long trains away so that they might not tumble over them as they walked backwards from the presence of royalty. There is not ‘ a man or woman in Australia who, seeing that, would not laugh at it. I was rude enough to laugh at it myself, and I laugh now at the memory of it. We do not want a building in London costing close on £1,000,000. We do not want to” send thousands of pounds away without any result.* It would be wrong of me to criticise these things without offering a suggestion of constructive merit. I suggest that we should send a commercial agent, and agree to pay his expenses up to a certain sum, on the understanding that his returns for Australian produce sold on commission must equal the money he received from us. There are many private companies in Melbourne and Sydney who would be very glad to send representatives to the Homeland or the East on those terms.

I now come to that abomination- of representation which exists in the East. Is there any Chamber of Commerce in Australia but condemns the Government of the past for sending two Trade. Commissioners to the East? I have been in_the East, and I have made inquiries about their work. What did they do? They cannot even speak the language of the country. A man who went over there, .and whose friendship I value, speaks the language, and would be of infinitely greater service to the Commonwealth than are the other two. ‘ One of these trade representatives was a cinematographer, while the other was at one time a parson. I am always suspicious of parsons when they enter politics. At the present time we are wasting money on the representation of Australia in the East. Did not one of the Commissioners write a report conveying the wonderful intelligence that it would be unwise- for us to expend our money on the purchase of Chinese wool?

Mr Pratten:

– Hear, hear !

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

– I am glad to have the honorable member’s indorsement of my statement. I am not seeking to put the responsibility for the appointment of these men on the present Government, but I urge that they should make an improvement. Is it not ridiculous that the Commonwealth should pay a man a salary of something like £1,500 a year, and perhaps an equal amount or more by way of expenses, to tell us that it is unwise to purchase the coarse wool grown in China? God give him sense, .and give this Government wisdom! These men should not represent the Commonwealth, and I am ashamed of the little work they have done. Let us follow the splendid example of every large firm in Australia by sending but commercial agents and paying them a commission on the value of the goods which are exported by us as the result of their efforts. If that were* done, we should have some tangible re- turn for our expenditure, and, what is more, we should be able to obtain a balance-sheet showing exactly what our Trade Commissioners costus. At present, no one is able to say what the cost is.

Mr.Jackson-.–The British Board of Trade has a representative in every port.

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

– And some of them ought to be drowned. The United States of America - furnishes us a splendid example of what can be done to stimulate foreign trade.

I should also like to knowNY it is necessary for Australia to have seven Chief Justices. The United States of America has only one, and the United Kingdom, with a population of nearly 50,000,000, is content also with one Chief Justice. Then, again, we have six State Governors, in addition to the GovernorGeneral.. God bless them! They have easy billets, but I shall not criticise them. Reference has been made by an honorable member opposite to the absurdity of requiring taxpayers to send in separate schedules for State and Federal income tax purposes. I agree with that view.I have had so many constituents calling on me for assistance in the preparation of their schedules that I have had to employ a clerk specially for that purpose. As for the curve of the third degree, I can only say that some accountants in Collins-street told me that it was impossible for them to advise me under the present method of assessment what taxation I should have to pay on a certain income, and I had to obtain the information from a departmental readyreckoner. I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later date.

Leave granted; debate- adjourned.

page 151


Message received from the Senate that Senators H. S. Foll, J. Newland, and W. Plain had been appointed members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on PublicWorks.

page 151


Message received from the Senate that Senators W. K. Bolton, R. Buzacott, and J. D. Millen had been appointed mem bers of the Joint Committeeof Public Accounts.

page 151


Motion by leave (by Mr. Bruce)agreed to -

That leave of absence for the remainder of the session be given to the honorable member for Moroton (Mr. J. Francis) on the ground ofill-health.

page 151


The following papers were presented : -

Contract Immigration Act -Returnfor 1922. Immigration Act - Return for 1922.

page 151


Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -

That the House; at its rising, adjourn until

Wednesday next, at 3 p.m.

page 151


carpentaria-place Reserve: Removal of Stone Benches.

Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -

That the House do now adjourn.

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

.- We have in a reserve in Carpentariaplace, and close to Parliament House, a magnificent piece of sculpture in the shape of a fountain, which was carved by a reclaimed member, of the house of adversity, otherwise known as Pentridge. Surrounding the fountain, which is immediately at the rear of the Gordon monument, were a number of beautifully carved stone benches. These recentlyhave disappeared. As the State, has given us the use of this wonderful building,I desire to ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether you will ascertain what has become of those benches)

Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon W A Watt:

– I do not know whether the matter mentioned by the honorable member comes within the parliamentary power or that of the Government, but I shall take an opportunity of conferring with the head of the Government about it.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 4.3 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 March 1923, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.