9th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I should like to know, Mr. Speaker, if it is not possible for members of the Opposition, who now comprise a very large party in this House, to obtain more room accommodation for the transaction of their business. At present we have only one room, and it is not possible for honorable members, with a number of typewriting machines being operated there, to carry out their work with any degree of comfort. It has occurred to me that, perhaps the two Ministerial Whips might be accommodated in one room, and thus relieve the congestion in the Opposition room ?
– I agree with the honorable member that the accommodation provided for Opposition members is very limited. I have been in their room, and know that honorable members work there under very crowded conditions. I are afraid that it is not possible to do anything at present, but in recess, I hope with the help of departmental officers, to find a way to relieve the situation.
-I ask the Prime Min ister if his attention hasbeendirected to a report of the Tariff Board concerning the working of the Navigation Act, and particularly in relation to its effect upon the primary producers of the Commonwealth, and, if so, will he consider the advisability of taking the necessary steps to have the Act amended as soon as possible?
Mr.BRUCE.-I have not yet had time to fully consider the report submitted by the Tariff Board, but when I do I shall give consideration to the honorable member’s suggestion.
– Have the Government come to any decision with regard to the appointment of a woman delegate to represent Australia at the Assembly of the League of Nations, and, if not, will the Prime Minister make an announcement as early as possible in order to relieve uncertainty on the part of those interested?
– I announced in this House the other day the personnel of the Australian delegation to the next Assembly of the League of Nations, and said then that I hoped to be able to give the name of the woman substitute delegate in the course of a few days.
– In connexion with appointments of this character, will the Prime Minister bear in mind that there are two parties in politics to-day, and will he endeavour to see that both colours arc represented?
– In making appointments of this nature, party colour, as is suggested by the honorable gentleman, is not taken into consideration. The Government consider who are most likely to represent worthily the views and serve the interests of Australia as a whole.
– Is the Prime Minister yet in a position to say whether the arrangements with the various State Minister’s with reference to taxation proposals have been finalized, and if not, can he give any indication when they will be?
– I hope to be able to make an announcement on the subject today.
– As it is authoritatively reported that the supply of serum for the Spahlinger treatment of tuberculosis has been exhausted, as well as the finances of the discoverer, and having regard to the far-reaching possibilities of this treatment should it prove a success, will he inform the House of the attitude of the Government in regard to the matter, and state whether they propose to lend the aid of the Commonwealth to make the treatment a success, or, at least, to give it a sufficient trial?
– I gave an answer to a similar question a fortnight ago in this House.
Vote on Second Reading.
– After the House rose last night four honorable gentlemen informed me that they had intended to vote against the second reading of the Meat Export Bounties Bill, and were disappointed that a division was not taken. The circumstances will be within the recollection of the House. I put the question “that the Bill be now read a second time,” quite clearly, and announced “ that the’ Ayes ‘ had it”. There was some noise in the chamber at the time, and I was, therefore, not aware that certain honorable gentlemen desired to have their names recorded as votingagainst the measure, but were unable to make good a call for a division. As those concerned are new members, I would say to them, and remind the House generally, that it is theSpeaker’s duty to protect, not to restrict their rights, and I shall always endeavour to do that. But honorable members are expected to make themselves audible to the Chair. In justice to the members vitally concerned, I mention the matter so that their attitude towards the Bill may be recorded in Hansard. They are the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham), the honorable member for Barker (Mr. M. Cameron), the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Duncan-Hughes), and the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann). If any other honorable gentlemen who desire to have their views so recorded will make their wishes known to me, I shall have pleasure in justice to them in making provision for it.
– Is there anything in the Standing Orders permitting a privilege to be given to certain honorable members and not to others?
– I do not see how you, Mr. Speaker, can do what you propose.
– On a point of order and arising out of the statement you have made, Mr. Speaker, as an act of courtesy to the House, and for the information of honorable members, I would say that I think the course you are taking is likely to place, certain honorable members in an invidious position. In this Chamber there is a regular way for honorable members to record their views. On the question being put, an honorable member, whether he has or has not spoken against a Bill, may vote against the second reading or against the Bill at any other stage, without requiring a division to be recorded. I submit that it is not quite fair to the House - though I am sure you desire to be quite fair - for you to record the names of certain honorable members, who apparently have asked you to do so, as having voted against this Bill.
– That has not been done, of course.
– If the names of hon-. orable members are to be recorded to-day in this way, there will be nothing to prevent the same course being followed on other occasions. I suggest that this is not the proper way, nor a fair way, to record the decision of honorable members on this or any other question. It suggests that the persons whose names are thus irregularly recorded are the only persons voting, or desiring to vote, in the way indicated.
– As one of the members whose names have been mentioned in connexion with this matter I desire to make a brief statement. After calling “No” in the ordinary way last night, both the honorable member for Kooyong and I called for a division.
– That is so.
– Apparently there was a misundertanding. I thought I heard you, Mr. Speaker, say, “ Is a division called for?” and as you were looking at me I bowed, and I thought you understood that I desired a division. Therefore., I was considerably surprised when I saw you leave the chair. I know that a mistake was made, and that in view of your uniform courtesy and consideration to all honorable members, noblame can be attachable to anybody except, perhaps, to the new and inexperienced members who failed to recognise that they should make their call more insistent.
– Whilst I am thoroughly in sympathy with you, Mr. Speaker, in your desire to protect the rights of honorable members as far as possible, and I regard your statement as an act of courtesy to those honorable members who failed to register their votes last night, I can see that this procedure may be regarded as a precedent. It will not be in the best interests of the working of this Parliament if honorable memberswho fail to call for a division when the question is put, can come along afterwards and complain, and then be permitted to register their decisions as opposed or favorable to a particular measure. It is quite possible that honorable members who, perhaps, had not been present during a debate, might in that way bo able to register their decisions. I distinctly heard you put the question last night. There were cries of “No,” and I understood you to put the question a second time, but I did not then hear any response. Perhaps this is attributable to the fact that the honorable gentlemen concerned are new members, and did not thoroughly understand the procedure. It is not sufficient, of course, for an honorable member to cry “No.”
– They should assert themselves.
– It is not sufficient for them merely to call “ No.” There must be at least two voices in the negative, and they must demand the division. On other occasions when a mistake has been made the usual procedure has been for the honorable members concerned to make a personal explanation and intimate what they had intended to do. I know that yon, Mr. Speaker, desire to do what is fair, but if we allow you now to set up a precedent of this kind, we do not know where it will end. The honor- able members concerned should have followed the usual procedure by making personal explanations concerning the vote they intended to record. I hope for the future that honorable members will understand that this procedure should be adopted.
– On the point of order raised by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), and by way of reply to the subsequent observations of other honorable members, I wish to say that I would not have taken this somewhat unusual course were it not that the four members whom I mentioned felt that they had been deprived of their rights in this House, because of a misunderstanding. As they were new members, I saw no danger in putting the matter right, as far as I might, at this stage. There is no intention, as the honorable member for Batman suggests, of superseding the division list by statements from the Chair, and there is certainly no danger of preferential treatment being given to any honorable members. I should be the last to sanction a procedure which might have that effect. If honorable members of the Opposition had approached me in similar circumstances, I would have taken precisely the same course.
Interchange of Ratings
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Manning of Vessels
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Enlistment of Personnel
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy ratings on leaving the service in Australia are, if eligible, invitedto join the Royal Australian Fleet Reserve.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether he will state what loans are included in the £251,000,000 of public debt to be liquid ated by the National Sinking Fund, giving with regard to each loan -
Mr. BRUCE (for Dr. Earle Page).The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follow : - (a), (b) and (c) -
Exemption of Vessels
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Spahlinger and Paget Treatment
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the ravages wrought by miners’ phthisis throughout Australia, he will make a statement to the House at the earliest possible date showing the result of investigations into the efficacy of the Spahlinger and Paget treatments for phthisis?
– I lay on the table of the House for the information of honorable members a statement on the matter in question. It reads as follows : -
In 1922 M. Spahlinger offered the Commonwealth the exclusive rights to sell his products in Australia for twenty years for a subsidy of £12,000 - which was a straight-out subsidy - and a price of four (4) francs per dose, on the understanding that M. Spahlinger would not be able to commence supply until fifteen months after the date of agreement. There was also to be a royalty of 20 per cent. on doses sold in Australia.
It will be observed that this arrangement did not disclose to the Commonwealth any information as to processes of manufacture or composition of remedies, but undertook merely to supply the remedies for resale in Australia, the Commonwealth purchasing only the exclusive rights of trade in these products.
On the other hand, as it was desired to manufacture at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, a request was made to ascertain Spahlinger’s terms in respect of manufacturing rights. Spahlinger replied that he was unable to part with the formula until the amount spent on research, represented by the bank overdraft, was cleared off. He also stated that he did not think it was advisable that Australia should start manufacture until the process was thoroughly tested, and strongly urged leaving the question of manufacture to be settled later. If the Commonwealth insisted upon immediate manufacture, he was compelled to ask £33,000 and a royalty of 20 per cent. on all doses sold for profit.
In reply to this a cable was sent stating that the offer was not immediately accepted, but instructing the High Commissioner’s Office to purchase from M. Spahlinger sufficient vaccine and serum to make an experimental test on fifty guinea pigs. To this the reply was received that M. Spahlinger refused to supply vaccine for guinea pig experiments, stating that the treatment was past the experimental stage, but he would endeavour to supply a small quantity for human experiment, although he was not prepared to further discuss the question of agreement with Australia.
There is an apparent contradiction in that while M. Spahlinger stated that the treatment was past the experimental stage, yet he advised strongly against Australia purchasing manufacturing rights until the process was thoroughly tested.
It might also be noted that it was M. Spahlinger himself who finally broke off the negotiations.
It is understood that the Premiers of New South Wales and of Victoria together saw M. Spahlinger, and an opportunity will be taken on their return to ascertain the latest information regarding the position, but from official sources it is known that the Ministry of Health of Great Britain is closely watching the progress of M. Spahlinger’s results, and information will be obtainable from that source as rapidly as would be possible by direct negotiations.
With regard to the Paget treatment for tuberculosis this matter has not been officially considered by the Commonwealth Government. It is understood that Dr. Paget was in communication with the Health Departments of New South Wales and Victoria some years ago, but, so far as can he ascertained, no positive results were recorded.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Mr. BRUCE (for Dr. Earle Page).Steps are being taken to obtain the information asked for.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Bay, due to sail on the 30th, has 210 tons booked for Melbourne, and the Jervis Bay has at present 100 tons booked, and it. is. possible that this quantity may be increased later.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Mr. BRUCE (for Dr. Earle Page).The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
This is a serious matter which concerns the Government of the State. It is pointed out that the Commonwealth Government has already taken action to reduce the duty on wirenetting which is now admitted free of duty if of British manufacture, and 10 per cent. duty foreign manufacture.
asked the Prime Minister, upon, notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’squestions are as follow: -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
-. The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Delivery of Letters
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice - .
Is it a fact that the Commonwealth receives large sums annually in the shape of taxation from the trustees of Tattersall’s sweeps, and that his Department carries documents and letters between the Taxation Department and the trustees of Tattersall’s sweeps. If so, will he allow the same privileges to the general public to send and receive letters as are enjoyed by the Taxation Department?
– It is a fact that the Commonwealth receives the tax levied on prizes won in Tattersall’s. sweeps. I am not aware that the Post Office delivers any correspondence to Tattersall’s from the Taxation Department. The correspondence of the Taxation Department is not exempt from the prohibition. There is nothing to prevent the Taxation Department, or the general public, receiving letters from Tattersall’s.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
In view of the statements made by the then Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Massy Greene) in the Tariff debate, 1922, Hansard No. 74, pages 9061 and 9062, will the Minister supply the following information: -
The total number of men actually employed in the manufacture of reapers and binders and mowers in Australia?
How many of these men are returned soldiers?
Will he supply the names of the firms engaged in the manufacture of these implements in Australia, together with the number of completed machines turned out by each manufacturer?
What is each firm’s cost of production for binders and mowers?
What is the selling price for cash f.o.r. place of manufacture?
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
When considering the scope of an Invalid and Old-age Pensions Amending Bill, will he favorably consider the request of many pensioners who are inmates of hospitals and homes established for their care, that a small proportion of the pension should bo made payable to the pensioners themselves?
Mr. BRUCE (for Dr. Earle Page).The matterwill receive consideration.
asked the Minister for
Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Will he lay upon the table of the House the. file dealing with the permit granted to the s.s. Gascoyne to utilize coloured labour in the shipping trade of the North-West Australian coast?
– I have no objection to placing the papers on the table of the Library.
Insurance of Vessels
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the allegation attributed to a Mr. A. Jewell, of Sydney, who for ten years represented the Union Insurance Company at Rabaul, that “ out of sixty-four vessels taken over from the Administration by the Expropriation Board in 1920, four were not insured, viz. : - Sumatra, Mecklong, Medang, and Star,” and the published statement that the reason was “ because every one knew they were rotten,” will he cause inquiries to be made as to -
Whether it is a fact that the above four vessels were not insured?
Whether all the other vessels were insured ?
If the above-named vessels were not insured, what was the reason?
How long is it since theStar, Mecklong and Medang were docked and overhauled, and what is the condition of those vessels at the present time?
Will he take steps to test the truth or otherwise of allegations published in the press as having been made by Messrs. Chas. Raue andPrank Gibbons, who worked at repairing the Sumatra at the dockyards in Sydney, to the effect that the Sumatra and the Mecklong were “rotten through and through”?
– Inquiries will be made.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether ho will request the honorable member for Calare (Sir Neville Howse), whilst abroad, to get the latest information with regard to the various reported cures for tuberculosis, cancer, and diabetes?
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether he will take steps to protect the users of cornsacks by insisting on the proper branding of imported sacks, so that their size and number and the name of the manufacturer may be clearly discernible?
– The matter will receive consideration.
asked the Minister for
Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answersto the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Debate resumed from 4th July (vide page 650), on motion by Mr. Bruce -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I congratulate the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) on the fair and clear statement he presented to the House when introducing this Bill. The honorable gentleman pointed out that during the last two years there had been a heavy loss on the Commonwealth line of shipping, but said that the loss was unavoidable in view of the prevailing disorganization throughout the world. The United States, we were told, has also suffered loss on its shipping, much of which now is tied up in port; and not only the Canadian Government, but private ship owners everywhere, have had similar experience. As a matter of fact, during recent years shipping has become really a drug on the market. This, however, isonly what might have been expected. During the war when every effort was made by the enemy to destroy the shipping of the Allies, it was found expedient by the latter, wherever possible, to keep up the supply of tonnage. Many allied vessels were submarined, but building was carried on so vigorously that in a short time the lost tonnage was replaced, and the aggregate tonnage increased considerably beyond that of the pre-war period. This is a fact that redounds to the. credit of those countries which undertook the work of shipbuilding. But while the British Empire and its allies were able to supply this excess tonnage, they were not able to find sufficient freight after the war to insure financial success. That, however, as I said before, was to be expected. The Commonwealth Line has well served Australia and the Empire, and I submit that the present position should not be regarded as indicating failure on its part. It is true that during the last two years, for the reasons I have stated, we have suffered a heavy loss. in connexion with our shipping, but wa must not measure the advantages of the Line merely in pounds, shillings and pence. We have .to pay due regard to the many other great advantages which have resulted from its establishment. It is to the credit of the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) that, at a most critical time, he took the initiative and acquired shipping for the purpose of carrying outproduce overseas. We suffered very little from submarining, and Australian producers in particular reaped many benefits; owing to the fact that it was possible for us to maintain communication with other parts of the world, and especially with Great Britain. At a time of stress and danger we were enabled to place our products on the British and other markets, and, incidentally, to keep our people fairly well employed. The trade that we were then able to do brought a great deal of money into Australia, which, to a large extent, made it possible for us to subscribe to the loans necessary for the prosecution of the war.
– The ex-Prime Minister in the .step he took was merely giving effect to the Labour policy.
– The Commonwealth Line has, in my opinion, quite justified itself, and, ‘as the honorable member interjects, its acquisition was only a partial realization of a Labour ideal. I am pleased to observe- that the present Prime Minister approves of the continuance of the line, notwithstanding the views he expressed some time ago; and certainly this Bill is welcomed by myself and other honorable members on this side. I cannot see much fault to be found with the provisions of the measure. Notwithstanding that the line, during the last two years, has shown a deficiency of a little over £2,750,000, 1 cannot see, bearing in mind the course of events since the purchase was made, that we have sustained any real loss. I propose to quote the figures that were laid before this House by the ex-Prime Minister some two years ago, showing the profits of the Line to 30th June, 1921. Speaking on 16th November, 1921, he said that the profits on the “ Australs “ were £2,993,245; .on “Sailers,” £41,382; on “ D “ ,and ‘’ E “ steamers, £84,588; on ex-enemy vessels, £4,066,266 ; on brokerages, and commissions, £181, ‘995; net .gain on sale of “bought” ships, after allowing for loss on sale of “sailers,” £74,343- total £.7,441,319. Interest and depreciation charges were not taken into account in these figures, and no doubt they amounted -to a large sum, judging by the figures presented to us by the Prime Minister a few days ago. But even allowing for interest and depreciation there must have been large profits up to two years ago. We must remember, I repeat, that this line of steamers enabled the producers of Australia to get the benefit of the Home markets at s. .time when it was most important that those markets should be at their command. The position in regard to the line is, therefore, not quite so ‘bad as one might suppose at first glance. The losses that have been made are common to every shipping company and to every country that has entered the shipping arena, and the Prime Minister acted very fairly when he placed the full facts before u3. There is much poverty in almost every country to-day, and that poverty reflects itself in trade and commerce. Great Britan is, perhaps, feeling the pinch more than any other country, and this no doubt accounts very largely for the millions of unemployed there. Other countries of the world provide no proper market for its productions, and the results are felt not only by Great Britain but also by. Australia. That is the reason that the Commonwealth Line <oi shipping cannot be used to its fullest .advantage at the present juncture. I am pleased to observe that the Prime Minister so frankly recognises the facts. Instead of suggesting that all the ‘Commonwealth shipping be disposed of, he is prepared to place it under the management of a Board. This, I may observe, is a very different .course of action from that followed in the case of the Geelong Woollen Mills, and I welcome a change which justifies the attitude of the Labour Party for years past. The Board to be appointed is to be free of all political influence. To that, of course, I take no exception, because I think that our shipping should be worked on proper business lines. The Board is to consist of three or not more than five members, and we were told by the Prime Minister that it was impossible at present to fix the remuneration to be paid to them, in view of the fact that he desires to obtain the services of the best men available. To that I raise no objection at the moment. I take it that the Prime Minister and all honorable members desire that this shipping line shall be a success. Therefore, I submit that the time has arrived when those employed in this or any enterprise of the kind should have a voice in its management. We have heard a great deal about cooperation between employers and employed in the industrial world, and this shipping line is a Commonwealth business in which every citizen in the Commonwealth is a shareholder. That being so, I believe it would be to the benefit of the business, and of the country generally, if, for instance, there were a direct representative of the maritime workers on the Board. Such a representative .would be in close touch with the organizations which supply the men for the ships, and he would be in a position to voice the views of the employees, and thus tend to the satisfactory solution of problems which otherwise might lead to a cessation of operations. To tie up one steamer for even only one week means a great loss. Avoidance of such troubles will do much to make the Line pay its way. The very fact of Labour having a voice on the Board would create a feeling of mutual confidence and a spirit of co-operation. The men employed would know that one member of the Board was representing their interests and stating their view of every proposal, and they would not be so ready to stop work at a moment’s notice. They would feel that every matter would be threshed out from all points of view, and that the Board would do justice. There would be no danger of the workers controlling the Board, because all decisions would represent the will of the majority; but there would be a considerable safeguard in the mere fact of the views of those who man the ships being represented during the deliberations of the’ Board. After all, the success of any business depends very largely upon the establishment of harmonious relations between employer and employees, and that is especially true of the shipping industry. Unless there is a feeling of mutual respect and confidence we cannot hope to make the ‘Commonwealth Line a success. When there is dissatisfaction and distrust the men become restive, grievances that are mere mole hills become magnified into mountains, and the consequent cessation of work costs the enterprise thousands of pounds, and interferes materially with its success. Representation of the workers in connexion with the control of industries is not a new idea. It has engaged the attention of the authorities in Great Britain, and the Whitley Commission, which was appointed during the war, reported amongst other things -
To this end, the establishment for each industry of an organization, representative of employers and work people, to have as its object the regular consideration of matters affecting the progress and well-being of the trade from the point of view of all those engaged in it, so far as this is consistent with the general interest of the community, appears to us necessary.
That is my view. In the interests of the community there should be closer contact between the employer and the employed. That is an essential preliminary to the success of any enterprise. Establish co-operation and mutual help between the two parties and there will be fewer industrial troubles than we have had in the past. The Whitley Commission’s report continued -
We are convinced, moreover, that a permanent improvement in the relations between employers and employed must be founded upon something other than a cash basis. What is wanted is that the work people should have a greater opportunity of participating in the discussions about and adjustment of those parts of industry by which they are most affected.
I concur in that suggestion; it is eminently reasonable. The Government would be justified in deciding, to place a representative of the maritime unions upon the Shipping Board. The unions could recommend a man whom they considered suitable for the position, and his advice would be very helpful to his fellow members of the Board. If I were a member of a Board that had the responsibility of making a success of a large enterprise, .with a capital of millions of pounds, I should esteem it ah advantage to have the advice of a man representing the employees.
– Should not the primary producers and shippers ofgoods also have representation ?
Mr.CHARLTON.- Theymay have; I do not know how the Government propose to appoint the members of the Board. I have no objection to it being representative of the different interests concerned, but hitherto a direct representative of the workers engaged in an enterprise has notbeen appointed to any Board. I desireto bring about better industrial conditions in connexion with the Commonwealth ShippingLine than have obtained in the past. Littledisputes have held up boats for a number of days, at great cost to the Commonwealth. I believe that such troubles could be obviated,and inthat view I am fortified by my own experience of industrial matters. At one time I was employed in a certain mine, which was one of the worst in the district to work.;there was more dirt in the seam than was to be found in other seams, and owing to that, and various other causes, there had been continualfriction betweenthe employers andthe miners. But in a very short time after I arrived atthe mine the employees came to an amicablearrangement with the management, and during the whole of my servicein the mine there was never a stoppage of work. The manager had confidence in the men and consulted withtheir representatives, andthe general manager said, “ If you cannot settle your troubles with the manager do not stop the mine;consult me when I come down.” He might not visit the mine for a fortnight, but work continued meanwhile, and we were always ableto settle our troubles without any stoppage of operations. That same spirit of mutual consideration and cooperation can be introduced into the relations of the employers with the seamen.
Mr.Corser. - Provided they are led by men like the honorable member.
– It will always be found that if responsibility is given toa man, he will respond to his obligations.
– Not always.
– There are exceptions, but that is no reason why the Government should hesitate to adopt what is undoubtedly a sound policy. We shall never make progress if exceptional persons or circumstances are allowed to interfere with the adoption of a wise principle. I predict that any man appointed to represent the workers on the Board appointed to control the Commonwealth Shipping Line would realizehis responsibility, and, by placing the viewpoint of the men before the controlling authority, would often prevent a stoppage of work.
To-day a large number of : the boats belonging totheCommon wealth Shipping Line aretied up,and because of the excess of tonnage throughout the world there does not appear to be any prospect of putting them into commissionfor some time. But theGovernment certainly should exploitevery avenue for the employment of itsships, especiallyin connexion with the opening up of markets abroad for Australian produce. Recently a deputation urged that a subsidy should be paid to shipping companies to carry meat and other primary produce to the Orient. Why should we pay a subsidy to private companies when the Commonwealth has a fleet of idle ships? The present market value of many of them is very small. It may fee necessary to dispose of some of them at : a sacrifice, but there are others that could be usefully employed in assisting those whoare endeavouring to find markets for Australian products. We were toldlast night that the Meat Council hadtwo representatives travelling in theOrient and endeavouring toopen up markets. Representatives of other industries are similarly engaged. Instead ofsubsidizing private companies to carry ourproducts, it would be sounder policy to employ the Commonwealth ships in that work, evenat a small loss. I understand that many of the ex-enemy boats have refrigerated space,and are suitable for carrying perishable products. We should assist theprimary producers tofindmarkets overseas by employing these ships to carry their produce. We may not always getfull loading for each vessel, but we should be able to operate the vessels without losing a greatdeal of money.
– Unless the freights were competitive the Commonwealth boats would not do much good.
– No boatsare engaged in that trade at the presenttime.
– If that is so,the surplusCommonwealth steamers should be utilized to open up those possible channels of trade. If we canget orders in China or other eastern countries, why should not the Commonwealth assist the primary producer to send a few loads of produce to. those markets? The Shipping Line might lose a little money on the enterprise but it would, be money well spent if it opened up a market that would expand and provide additional outlets for our produce. The House discussed yesterday the proposed bounty on the export of beef. If that bounty is not to continue for more than a year we should try to find markets for those men who are raising cattle. That is the paramount duty of the Commonwealth. We cannot develop this country and bring population to it unless we find markets that will absorb all. that we can produce. I regard that policy as absolutely essential. The idle Commonwealth ships provide a means by which that can be done, and. it would be well worth while to lose a few thousand pounds on such pioneering enterprise. The Commonwealth is spending money on the employment of Trade Commissioners and their staffs but that money is wasted unless means of delivering the goods when the orders are obtained axe provided. It would be more profitable to the Commonwealth to employ its ships as I have suggested than to pay subsidies to private companies. Moreover, now that the Commonwealth has the ‘ ‘Bay “ Line of steamers the time has arrived for discontinuing the subsidy paid to private companies for carrying mails between Australia and Great Britain. Why should we continue to pay £130,000 per annum to the Orient Company for carrying mails when Commonwealth ships which have been built at considerable expense tothe country are operating on the same route? Our duty should be to allow all these services to be performed by the Commonwealth’s own ships, for only in that way can we expect to make the Commonwealth Shipping Line a paying concern. The future of these ships is a big problem but I earnestly hope that before action is taken to dispose of any of the vessels they will be classified, and those that are capable of carrying out the trade development work I have indicated will be utilized for that purpose. If we have more vessels suitable for that work than we can utilize at the moment, I doubt whether it would be wise to dispose of any of them. Perhaps the better policy would be to retain them all. Nobody cares to dispose of property at a sacrifice.
– In any case we should have to pay interest on the loss.
– That is so, and we should have to practically give away some of the ships because tonnage is very cheap. The Government ought to discriminate between vessels that are and those that are not of value to this country . Boats that can assist in the future development of the country by benefiting the primary producer, ought not to be sold. The primary producer, more than any one else ought to be thankful for the Commonwealth Government line. The: competition of the Commonwealth boats counteracted the tendency for freights to increase. Freights were soaring when the exPrime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes) bought the ships, and when these came into competition with privately owned ships they had a steadying influence which benefited the farmers of this country. The farmers were able, as a result of the effect of the line upon freights, to get a better return for their produce. Had the ex-Prime Minister not purchased the steamers when he did, this country’s position during the war would have been worse than it was. We cannot measure the success of the line in money. I am pleased with the view taken by the Prime Minister, and with the way in which he presented his case to the House. He spoke in a fair and justmanner,particularly when one knows the views he holds regarding. State enterprises.
The Commonwealth line of ships shouldbe made as far as possible Australian. They should be registered in Australia. The head office should be in Australia. The Chairman of the Board of Management should reside here. Those who manage the Line ought to know something personally about Australian conditions. The crew should be, as far as possible, Australian, or should consist of people domiciled in Australia.
– In advocating Australian crews the honorable member is running counter to the sentiments of the Seamen’s Union. I advise him to talk to the Union about it.
– I believe in a White Australia. As far as possible ships’ stores should be purchased in Australia, and all other money expended in connexion with the line should be spent in Australia. Even if this policy would cost a little more in certain directions, the increase would be counter-balanced by the additional trade brought to this country. The Prime Minister, in referring to repairs, stated that there was no better equipped dockyard in the southern hemisphere than Cockatoo. That is a very high compliment for him to pay to the dock and to Australia. All possible repairs should be carried out in our own dock. This would give work to Australian people. Much work in connexion with these ships that should have been done in Australia, has been done overseas. Money spent in repairing ships in Australia benefits Australian people; money spent abroad does not. .Repairing the ships locally would give employment and assist in supporting a larger population than Australia now contains. Although the boats are registered in Australia the crews may be signed on under British articles. The result is tantalizing to the men engaged in the Australian trade. When they sign on in England they have to work for lower wages than are prescribed in Australian awards. Australian seamen are supposed to abide bv Australian Arbitration Court awards, but when they sign on in Great Britain those awards are immediately broken. While working at the lower wages paid under British articles they come into competition with Australian seamen. That is why I urge that the line should employ Australians as far as possible.
Replying to the interjection of the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green), I say emphatically that I believe in a White Australia.
– The Seamen’s Union does not. It recently passed a resolution opposing the White Australia policy.
– The Labour party and, I believe, Parliament, indorse a 0 White Australia policy. That being so, it is essential to see that only Australians are employed on the Commonwealth Government boats. The suggestions I have brought forward should receive serious consideration.
The Prime Minister . has pointed out that in future the Line will be freed from political influence, and will be subjected to the same conditions as a private company. Thus the Line must run on its merits, and if those who man the boats are allowed to have a voice in the management, I believe that it will make good. If the Government will make this concession it will introduce a spirit that is necessary for success in any business. The Commonwealth should set an example to other employers by giving its employees a voice in the management of the Line. I regret very much the disputes of the past. I shall not speak on the merits of them. Perhaps they were unavoidable, but I think many of them would not have occurred if a representative of the maritime unions had been associated with the management. I want to- see the Line become a paying proposition and assist in the development of Australia by carrying primary produce to market. The Government and Parliament have an opportunity now to put the Line on a proper basis. We have observed the weaknesses of the policy of the past, and we know what limitations should be applied in the future. Why Parliament should hesitate to do the right thing I do not know. I hope the House will realize the soundness of my contention and agree to the unions being represented on the Board. If the Prime Minister will adopt the suggestion he will benefit the Line greatly in the future. 1 have not adversely criticised the Bill before the House. I give the Prime Minister credit for introducing a measure which has for its object the continuance of the Government-owned line of ships. Members of the Opposition have advocated this policy for many years. On many occasions we have heard complaints, particularly from Tasmanian representatives, regarding the difficulty of transporting primary produce. Tasmanian members have complained of the high cost of freights and the difficulties they have to overcome in sending their fruit abroad. As Tasmania has no railway connexion with the mainland, the Government vessels should be used to provide that State with communication by sea. When I heard an honorable member say that a farthing was the difference between the price of meat abroad and the price at which Australian producers could land it, I thought that our own ships should be able to bridge that difference. Properly managed, with their refrigerating space, these ships should be able to land Australian produce in the markets of the world at a farthing, if not ½d. per lb. less than private enterprise can do it. If that could be done it would benefit the producers in Australia as well as’ the consumers in Great Britain. I am glad that the Line will remain. At one time I doubted what its future would be. I hope that those in control will remember that the first function of the Line is to assist Australian primary producers and business people. An opportunity of assisting the people of Australia, with little, and perhaps no, loss to the Government, should be seized. It may be impossible, owing to the disorganized condition of business all over the world, to make the Line pay during the first year under the new management. As conditions become . normal, however, the Line should be able to give a good account of itself. It should progress along with the private shipping companies which compete with it. The conditions laid down for its future control are strict enough, and no one can say that the Prime Minister is proposing to give it any advantage. It will have to submit to the same trading conditions as other shipping companies. In these circumstances I believe it will make good.
.- It is gratifying to find that the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), who is such an ardent advocate of private enterprise, has now been converted to the beauties and truths of State Socialism. I wish to congratulate him upon his conversion, because I have read that there is more rejoicing over the one sinner who repents and returns than over the ninety and nine who are virtuous. We should rejoice at the repentance of the Prime Minister. Let us hope that he is starting on a new career. I hope, too. that we are starting upon a new era, in regard to not only shipping, but all other matters. I hope that the Government will reconsider its previous decision concerning the woollen mills, and that it will retrace its steps, do penance for its sins, and again n establish Commonwealth woollen mills in this country. The first thing needed is an alteration of the policy of control of the Commonwealth Shipping Line. Let us hope that the Shipping Board will change this. From the inception of the Commonwealth Shipping Line the policy of the management has been dis tinctly anti -Australian. Preference in employment has been given to officers of other countries. In the Merchant Service Guild of Australia there are hundreds of highly qualified masters and officers who cannot get employment. In some cases the qualifications they possess are equal to those held by men in any part of the world. I do not claim, nor do the unions, that preference of employment shall be given to Australian officers and engineers unless they have the necessary qualifications. But we claim that if they hold the necessary certificates they should have first call. Then there is the question of repairs. During the last year or two I have continually criticised the policy of the management in this respect. Their deliberate purpose has been to have repair work done in any other country but Australia. Honorable members would be startled if they knew the extent to which this policy has been carried out. They will be amazed, I am sure, when I tell them that at a time when thousands of men were walking about the streets of the cities of Australia, unable to get. employment, and thousands were similarly unemployed in Great Britain, ships of the Commonwealth Line were taken from the Old Country to Hamburg, and repaired by German workmen. This is a statement which I can prove up to the hilt, and I think it is “ up “ to the people of Australia to insist that the Shipping Board shall lay it down that there shall be no preference in the matter of employment to German or Belgian workmen, but that, wherever possible,, work in connexion with the Commonwealth ships shall be done in Australia. If, through circumstances beyond the control of the management this work cannot be done in Australia, then it should be done in some British port. Not being satisfied with taking from Great Britain Commonwealth ships for repair work to Hamburg and Antwerp, the manage?ment of the Line has also, on many occasions, sent our ships to Indian .ports, and had them repaired by black labour, while good Australian workmen have been unemployed, and on the verge of starvation. Two years ago the Dundula was deliberately sent from Australia to India for repairs. That policy is being continued to-day.
– Was the repair work of a-a urgent nature?
– I will explain all that. I had been continually asking the late Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes) ‘ for- information in connexion with thisrepair work, and honorable members; will find the following, question in Hansard of I2.th October, 1922, together with the Prime Minister’s answer-: -
– Some six. weeks ago> I asked the Prime Minister a question, in reference to repairs to the , Commonwealth Government Line of Steamers, and he promised to obtain certain- information for me. I desire to know whether that information will he- available to the House before we go into recess?
– I cannot say. We -have sent to the head office for the information, and if it. comes to hand in time it will he made, available.. I shall make inquiries as to whether it has reached my Department during the last day or two.
I may add that the work referred to, generally speaking, was not urgent. It included what, is known as boiler scaling and ship painting, and was of such a nature that it would not have mattered if it was done this week or in a fortnight’s time. The speed of a vessel was not affected.
– Did the management ever give an explanation of their policy ?
– No. I asked the prime. Minister on many occasions if he would have the matter investigated, and invariably his reply was that the repair work was urgent. I say it was not urgent, and that the policy of the Line, seriously affected the livelihood of a. lar.ge< number of Australian- citizens who were unable; to . get- work. The- House should insist, on the management of the Line getting rid. of their Australian- prejudice and have, a good Australian policy for1 the running- of these ships. The question which I asked the Prime Minister in October last showed that I had made a similar request six. weeks earlier”, and that I’ was still unable to get the information asked for. Even to-day the management refuses to make this information public, realizing, no doubt, that the people of Australia “would be startled if they know the extent to which repair work to Commonwealth ships is being carried out in other parts of the world. Not only is the policy of the management of the Line an ti -Australian in regard to employment and repair work, it is also- antiAustralian in regard to the purchase of material and stores, particularly for the “ Bay “ liners. It is the almost invariable practice to purchase stores in other parts of the world. This is a matter which I think should appeal to the commercial community of Australia.
– Do I understand1 the honorable member to say that the- details of -the repair work asked for- have never been- given ?
– They have not. My question related not so much to details as to what ships were repaired in other ports-, and what’ was the total cost of the work? A Commonwealth vessel, the Dumosa, caught fire in the port of Dunkirk.. She was- sunk in. the -dock- to extinguish the fire. After being .raised,, the vessel 1 was taken across to England, and from there to Antwerp. For three months-, l.,500 Belgians were- engaged on repairs to that ship., while in Great Britain our fellow citizens were walking the streets unemployed. The reason- is quite plain. The Belgians were employed for a few pence a day less than the wage for British workmen.. These men and their families could, starve, while the. Belgians, were carrying out. work for the management of the Commonwealth Line. - This practice has to stop, and when the* Bill is in committee it should be amended, first, to give preference to Australians for ship repairs-, and secondly, if the work cannot be- performed in Australia, to give it to workmen of Great Britain or the British Dominions. The providoring of the Commonwealth vessels, runs into thousands of pounds per annum, and if the stores’ were purchased in. Australia., it would create a great deal of business here. . But we find that the only stores purchased’ in Australia -are the bare- necessaries, such as perishable goods. The main stores are purchased at the other end of the world. We should make it quite plain to. the Board’ that, in. the providoring of the; Commonwealth ships, preference must be. given to Australians-.
– The Country Party will agree to that..
– I feel sure that the members of the late Country Party are . in agreement with me.
– The honorable- member means the present Country1 Party.
– I am prepared to withdraw the reference to- the Country Party if the honorable member will sup- , port me. By your deeds shallI judge you. The whole trouble has been causedthrough the establishment of the head office of the Commonwealth Line in London. It is an Australian undertaking, and the controlshouldbehere. I have no personal feeling against the manager of the Commonwealth Line; in fact, I would notknow him if Isaw him. I amattacking the policy of themanagement, and I care not whether the manager or the Government be responsible.
Mr.Prowse. - Is not the providoring carried out in Australia as faras possible ?
– No; and that has been the trouble all along. The management purchase in Australia, onlyarticles that are absolutely necessary, such as perishable goods, which they are compelled to purchase at various ports of call. . The great bulk of the stores is purchased in other countries.
Mr.E.Riley. - What is the idea?
– The ideais cheapness. There are bigger principles behind the establishment of the Commonwealth Line of steamers than that of merecheapness. From a defence pointof view, the establishment of this Line, and its maintenance in perfect condition, give value upon which no monetary value can be placed.
– The Line helps to make competent sailors.
– That,and a thousand and one otherconsiderations relating to defence, justify us incontinuing to run theseships. This is a vital issue which should not be determined to the detriment of Australia merelybecause articles can be obtained for from½d. to1d. cheaper elsewhere.
– Mr. Eva informed me that he wasoutto make the Line a paying concern.
– Of course it should bea paying concern, but it should not be made to pay by sweating and starving the people ofAustralia. The sentiment of Australia should bethe first consideration.
– If what the honorable member suggests cannot be done, what then ?
– In that case we wouldbe better offwithout the line. If it were necessary toemployblackcrews to maintain the shipping lineasa paying concern, I would scrap the venture tomorrow. The an ti -Australian policy which is adopted by the management must cease. The industrial trouble in respect of the Commonwealth steamers is due to the anti - Australian sentiment running through the whole scheme. Arepresentative of the employees who understands how to deal with the men, should be appointed to the Board of Control, and then theindustrial trouble woulddisappear. A great dealof it is caused throughlack of tact and discretion onthe part, not somuch of the manager, but of insubordinate officers who wish toestablish their importance. There are many unionists connected with maritime occupations who have the necessary qualifications and ability to act as a representative of the employees upon the Board, and I ask theGovernment to givethis suggestion serious consideration. It invariably happens that industrial unions before the Arbitration Court are able to come to an agreement withprivate shipping companies as to rates of pay land conditions. The majorityof private companies dealfairlyandreasonably with theiremployees, but the management of theCommonwealth Lineof Steamers fight the unions at every point.Theunions havebeen forced tocarry cases to the High Court of Australia simplybecause the management have fought andthwarted their employees at every turn. Other shipping companies, conductedupona commercial : basis, were satisfied and prepared to admit that the unionists’ claims were reasonable, but the officialscontrolling theCommonwealth Line have acted differently. They have endeavoured to instilinto the minds of the people of Australia the idea that it was impossible to work the vessels with Australian unionists because of their prohibitive demands, and, consequently, they had to man the vessels with unionists fromother countries, which prescribed reasonableratesand conditions. The management’s purpose was to break down the Australian rates and conditions. I have set outclearly the reasons why an alteration should be made in thepolicy of the management ofthe Commonwealth Line. There is a provision in the Bill whereby the Board is giventhe power to sell .
– Only with the concurrence of the Minister.
– Sub-clause d of clause 10 reads - subject to the consent of the Treasurer to dispose of any ships, land, offices, shipyards, wharfs, or other premises acquired by or vested in the Board in pursuance of this Act.
Frankly, I am suspicious of . the power there given.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2 p.m.
– I regard that as a dangerous power. It may be said that the consent of the Treasurer is a sufficient safe.guard, but that is not my opinion. When Parliament is out of session is the time that would be chosen for such sales, and this clause gives the Treasurer an opportunity to dispose of the whole shipping business without Parliament having an opportunity to express an opinion. _
– But you admit that in certain circumstances, you would be prepared to scrap the business.
– If an industry is carried on under sweating conditions, and is detrimental to the interests of the people of Australia, it is not worth fostering, but the question of disposing of such a business is one to be decided by Parliament. The recess for which the Government is heading at top speed will, I understand, be of some months’ duration, and ‘it is possible, that when we return we may find that the Commonwealth Line of Steamers has been disposed of.
– The Government could not do that.
– They could under this clause, in which there is no ambiguity
– Under that clause the Government could sell Cockatoo Island.
– Quite so, and but for the intervention of the British Admiralty that dockyard would have been sold within the last few months. This may be a secret that the Government were not prepared to have divulged, but I got my information in no secret way, and, therefore, feel no obligation to regard it as confidential.
I have previously referred to the fact that repairs to vessels of the Commonwealth Line have been carried out in various foreign ports, and I might now be permitted to quote some extracts from a speech delivered by the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes) on a Supply Bill, on the 30th June, 1922. On that occasion the right honorable gentleman said -
No other repairs have been effected to these vessels beyond those mentioned in the following return : -
The vessels mentioned, namely, the Gilgai,, Australpeak, Austral-plain, Dumosa, and Austrolport had work done upon them at the ports named.
Gilgai. - This vessel underwent special Lloyd’s survey No. 2, in Antwerp, and was in that port from 14th May to 21st July, 1921.
Australpeak. - This vessel ,was docked at Hamburg in May, 1921, a few minor repairs being carried out.
There is an admission that ships of the Commonwealth Line had been repaired in Germany.
Australplain. - This vessel was docked in Hamburg on 21st May, a few minor repairs being carried out.
– The ex-Prime Minister said that he would never trade with Germany again.
– Of course, and yet, while thousands of returned soldiers and others of our citizens were tramping the streets unemployed, these vessels were repaired in Germany.
– Lloyd’s survey No. 2 could have been made here.
– Yes, or in any British port -
Dumosa. - This vessel was discharging at’ Kurachi from 27th January, 1922, to 1st February, had bunkers and engine-room tanks chipped and coated by native labour -
That means that the work was done by black labour in India -
Australport- This vessel was in Bombay 6th January to 26th January, 1922. Had her topsides, holds, and engine-room tanks chipped and coated.
Here, again, . we have black labour employed at Bombay. The repairs to this vessel could have been carried out in Australia, but it was taken hundreds of miles and given into the hands of black laborers, so that the Commonwealth Line might be worked as cheaply as possible. There are quite a number of other instances, but those I have given are sufficient to show that the statement I made was absolutely correct. It ought to be expressly laid down in the Bill that all repairs should he done, in either Australia or Great Britain. Of course, I can readily understand that in case of an accident in foreign waters, the repairs must be carried out in a foreign port, but all those repairs to which I have referred could and should have been carried out in Australia. I hope that in Committee the Bill will be so amended that our wishes in this regard will be clearly conveyed to the Board, or the general manager of the Line.
– The Board, the general manager, and others are only Government servants, and ought to carry out the .policy of the country.
– In this country there is growing up a class of public officials who imagine they are greater than the body that creates them - that they are greater than the State itself. Those gentlemen ought to understand, or, if they do not, they should be made to understand that they are the servants of the State, and that the industries of which they are in charge must be conducted in the interests of the State, and not in the interests of themselves or their friends.
Another point to be considered is that in the course of time the “ Bay” Liners will have to be replaced by more modern uptodate vessels. We have not only to provide for natural wastage, but also foi’ unforeseen accidents, and we ought to lay it down for the guidance of the Board that all new ships shall be constructed in Australia. The present “Bay “ Liners were built in Great Britain at an average cost of £1,250,000. They could have been built just as well and just as cheaply in Australia; indeed, in the opinion of experts, their cost would not have been so great in the latter event. At any rate, the workmanship on these vessels proved to be so faulty that if it had come from an Australian shipyard there would have been a howl of condemnation from one end of the country to the other. When the Moreton Bay arrived, for instance, the blades of her turbines were stripped. No word of complaint was raised1 about this, but I am certain that if the boat had been launched in Australian wa’ters we should have heard from the opponents of the Labour party a great deal about its shortcomings. The fittings of the Moreton Bay were in a disgraceful condition, so disgraceful as to astound the Australian workmen into whose hands she was placed on arrival. I sincerely hope that any new ships required will be built in Australian dockyards, thus giving employment to our own citizens, and not to men many thousands of miles away.
– Writing down the vessels afterwards!
– ‘The writing down is due to the wastage that occurred at the other end of the world, and not to the work performed, in Australia. The purchase of material during the war at greatly inflated prices also led toexcessive cost in construction. I take exception to the policy adopted by the management of the Line in regard to» the half-yearly and yearly overhauls of” the “ Bay” steamers. That work has been: done at the other end of the world. It is useless to expect the Cockatoo Island Dockyard and the Williamstown Dock-‘ yard to operate effectively and economically if such work as the periodical overhauling of Government ships is withheld from them. That work should be, and I hope in ‘future will be, done in Australia-.
– The vessel which hai just been launched in Sydney has to bt written down.
– That statement is quite inaccurate. The vessel is still in. the ‘hands of the builders. The actual cost is not yet arrived at, and there can. be no writing down until the final cost has been ascertained and the vessel hasbeen handed over to the owners. Another form of periodical work is the boiler scaling, chipping, and painting. The Commonwealth has a fully equipped dockyard and an efficient staff ready to do that work. But the Shipping Line management will not give its work to the Commonwealth dockyard. This particular work has been given ‘te two men, one of whom was formerly employed at Cockatoo, but is now contracting on his own account. It is not right that one Government enterprise should boycott another. Any Government work that ‘can be done iri Government dockyards should be done there. I hope my remarks will be accepted in the spirit in which they are made. I speak not in anger, but in order to show the management of the Commonwealth Line the error of its ways, and to express the hope that the defects of the policy pursued in the past may not be continued under the new regime.
I am pleased to know that the Government have decided to write down the capital cost of the Cockatoo Island Dockyard to £400,000, in accordance with the recommendation of the Royal Commission. That capitalization, ‘ with proper management and control, should give the yard a fair chance to pay its way. Provided it receives the work of the Commonwealth Shipping Line,, the Cockatoo Island establishment should be “ successful, but if that work is done abroad the yard cannot possibly yield an adequate return, no matter how much the capital cost’ is written down.. I. regret that the Government, whilst accepting some of the recommendations of the Royal Commis- si,OU, have not seen -fit to adopt the suggestion for the construction of a floating dock. The whole of the southern hemisphere sadly lacks a dock capable of berth, ing the super-dreadnoughts and huge merchant ships that are1 now being built for these waters. If anything should happen to one of these vessels in Australian waters there is no means of docking it. This deficiency constitutes a’ positive danger from a defence point of view. If war should again occur, and one of the large British super-dreadnoughts patrolling, the Pacific had an accident to its hull there would be no possibility of repairing ir. in Australia. That is a serious state of affairs. The Royal Commission collected evidence from naval, shipping, and commercial experts, and their testimony proved that there is a crying need for ‘better docking facilities in Australian waters. The Commission recommended the immediate provision of a floating dock with a capacity of between 40,000 and 50,’000 tons, and expressed the opinion that such a dock could be constructed at Cockatoo. I hope the Government will give instructions to the proposed Shipping Board to take in hand the construction of a large floating dock without delay. That convenience is essential for defence purposes as well as for the advancement of Australian mercantile shipping. I trust that when we are called upon to judge the work of the Board, we shall not have occasion to complain of the continuance of an antiAustralian policy. Australia is dependent upon its shipping, and the Board should set about establishing our shipping industry upon a sound foundation. There can be no future for the primary producer unless he is given an opportunity of placing his products on the markets of the world at reasonable freights; It will be the duty of the Board to see not only that proper facilities are provided for primary producers; but also that the workmen of Australia get a fair share of all’, work in connexion with, the Commonwealth Line of Steamers..
.- I hope that before this Bill passes very many amendments and additions of a drastic character will be made to it. When I first saw the balance-sheet of the Commonwealth Line of Steamers, and before I heard the Prime Minister’s speech, I, like most honorable members and the general public; was astounded at the financial result of the Line’s operations, notwithstanding that I was prepared for big losses. My first conviction was that the Commonwealth should immediately sell the whole fleet. It is a Governmental enterprise that is being operated at a-n enormous loss, and in> regard to such enterprises I hold very strong views, which may be summarized in two sentences - (1) It is the duty of the Government to make the rules of the game, but not to play in it; and (2) any Governmental enterprise must rest on its own bottom, and be subject to the same conditions as apply to private enterprise; and if it is unpayable, it must be discontinued. But a modification of those principles becomes necessary in view of certain aspects of the Commonwealth Shipping Line. By means of such a Line owned -in Australia,- we have an opportunity, provided the men employed in the fleet are residents of Australia, of creating a well-trained body of seamen, whose services would be of immense value to- Australia should- such a dire calamity as war again occur. Australia is an island continent dependent, to a great extent, upon its sea communications, and training such as would’ be given on a locally-owned mercantile fleet, would be of inestimable defensive value to the Commonwealth, as . it was ‘ to the United Kingdom during- the last war. The ‘Commonwealth must have an efficient navy to protect its communications with the outside world. A well-trained mercantile marine would help in that regard, and would force upon this country an efficient navy for its protection. Another fact which oc- curred to me was that the Line could be of assistance to both our primary and secondary industries in the matter of cheap freight. For those reasonsI was inclined somewhat to modify the views which I had formed upon reading the balance-sheet. The most obvious fact about the Billis that it provides for a complete change of policy in the management of the Line. That alteration is both desirable and necessary. A reorganization of the Line is also very much needed. In this regard, I welcome the appointment of a Board of Directors for various reasons. The first is that I hope the directors will place the Line on a proper financial basis. A second reason for my supporting a Board of Directors is that they will be compelled to render, annually, balance-sheets to Parliament. That has not been done in the past. The Line has been in existence for a considerable time, and the first real balance-sheet was that presented a few days ago.
– Balance-sheets have been issued every year, and are printed in the Bud get-papers.
– A third reason why I welcome the appointment of directors is that the Line should carry the ordinary expenses connected with such a business. It will now receive no preferential treatment, and we shall be able to gauge whether it can stand alone as a commercial concern. I agree that the policy of the Line must be altered. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) cited a few directions in which this should be done. One of them related to the carrying out of repairs. In this connexion I would point out that under the Bill the Directors of the Line will take over the Commonwealth Dockyard, and will be given certain powers in carrying out repairs. It is only reasonable to expect that the Directors, when they can, will do their own repairs in their own dockyard. I do not think, however, that they should be restricted in any way. If they consider it necessary to have urgent repairs done elsewhere, they should be allowed to exercise their discretion. A vessel should not be sent to sea when urgent repairs are required to be done to it, and the Directors should not be tied except by laying down the broad principle that repairs should be carried out, as far as possible, in Australia. I have no doubt that that will be the Board’s policy, as it will have the means for doing repairs in its own dockyards and engineering shops. The policy of the Line should be altered, also, in the direction of using the ships to assist Australian industries, particularly the primary industries, in the matter of freight. I have heard on good authority’ that the Wheat Board was unable to obtain more than a small number of the Australianowned ships for carrying Australian wheat. That is the old’ policy, and it should be altered. No doubt the Directors, in framing their policy, will take cognisance of what honorable members have said. We are to have extra-political control, but the Directors must take note of the wishes of the people of Australia, who, after all,finance the Line.
I want to advance a few criticisms regarding facts which may not have become evident to honorable members on a cursory examination of the Bill. In reading the Bill, and the financial statement submitted, one might think that all the liabilities of the Commonwealth in respect to the Line amount to £4,725,650. There are, however, a few other liabilities. Clauses 13 and 14 provide that certain stores shall be taken over at a valuation to be mutually agreed upon. Clause 13 says -
All the right, title, and interest of the Commonwealth, in and to -
The stores or other property owned by the Commonwealth, which are on hand at the commencement of this Act, and are used for the purposes of those ships, are by force of this Act transferred to and vested in the Board.
The last sentence of the clause provides that the stores shall be taken over “ at a valuation to be mutually agreed.” Clause 14 provides for handing over “ all stock on hand which at the commencement of this Act is the property of the Ship Construction Board.” The total valuation is increased by these provisions. It may be said that these are minor matters, but power is also given to the Treasurer to advance certain amounts as working capital. The Prime Minister, in his second-reading speech, said that it was necessary that the Line should have a certain amount of working capital. I agree with that statement, but it is set out in clause 16, sub-section (a), that the
Treasurer “ may, out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly, make advances to the Board.”
– The Board will have to pay interest on that money.
– Yes, but I am pointing out that the total liabilities amount to more than £4,725,650. The liabilities may amount to an additional 25 per cent., or roughly £1,250,000, which is laid down as the maximum that the Treasurer may advance out of the Consolidated Revenue. If the Board failed to make a financial success of the Line, the Treasurer would have to. make that amount good.
– The Board must have some capital with which to carry on.
– Exactly. I agree with the principle, but I do not want honorable members to be carried away with the idea that the liabilities are limited to £4,725,650. There are two lots of stores to be taken over at valuations to be agreed upon, and an amount of £1,250,000 may be allocated by the Treasurer as working expenses.
I also wish to direct the attention of honorable members to clause 18, which reads -
Subject to the consent of the Treasurer, the Board shall have power to raise additional capital by the issue of debentures, or in such other manner, and subject to such conditions, as are prescribed.
This clause requires a good deal of explanation which, I hope, will be given by the Prime Minister when we come to consider it in Committee. In his second reading speech he made no mention of this vital clause. There is provision for the appointment of ‘ directors, one for five years, one for four years, and the remaining members of the Board for a period not exceeding three years, in order to insure continuity of management. The future of the Line should depend entirely upon its successful operation, and I suggest that a clause be inserted in the Bill to the effect that the entire position of the Line shall be reviewed at the end of five years, otherwise, according to my reading of the measure, it may be continued indefinitely. . We must not forget that this trading venture is very much in the nature of an experiment. It is quite possible that it may lose large sums of public money, as has happened in the United States of America and in Canada. It may ,be advisable, therefore, at the end of five years, to scrap the whole of the steamers to avoid any further loss. I have no objection to the experiment, and as such I am prepared to support, the Bill.
– There is no necessity to insert a clause giving the Parliament authority to review the position, because the next Parliament may undo what this Parliament has done.
– That is quite true; but I think it advisable to have a provision of this nature iri the Bill to obviate the possibility of compensation being claimed by any of the directors in the event of their ‘services being dispensed with as the result of the Line being discontinued. The ships should be made to pay, or the Government should get out of the business. I want it to be clearly understood that, if the Line is to be run for the benefit of disloyalist unions - and by disloyal I mean disloyal to Australia - then this measure will not have my support. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) this morning made much of the fact that this was an Australian Shipping Line. I want it to be Australian in fact as well as in name, and not run for the benefit of the Seamen’s Union, which is distinctly antiAustralian in its outlook.
– Three thousand members of that union went to the war.
– I am not referring to my comrades at the Front in the Seam’en’s Union. I have in mind particularly . those members of the union who declared in Sydney the other day that the White Australia policy should be scrapped. If honorable members on the other side of the House agree with that sentiment, I shall be very pleased indeed to hear them say that they want to see the White Australia policy scrapped. If they support the Seamen’s Union, then they do stand for that policy. I directed attention to the matter this morning when the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) was speaking, but he evaded my interjection, and the honorable member for Dalley endeavoured > to make other hon.orable members believe that I was wrong. He can read the statements himself. In fa”ct, he knows more about the union than
I do, and this morning he was only endeavouring to cloud the issue. Most honorable members know that the declared policy of the Seamen’s Union is for a black, brown, or brindle, but not a White Australia. I have digressed merely to explain what I mean when I use the term “ disloyal “ as applied to the Seamen’s Union. I repeat that, if the Line is to be run for the benefit of that union, I am opposed to the proposal.
– On behalf of the Government, I can tell the honorable member that it is not to be run for the benefit of the Seamen’s Union, but for the farmers, because they want it.
– If that is the case-
– That is the case.
– If the honorable member for South Sydney is correct, then we must revise the conditions under which the Line is to be managed. We have to demonstrate that, in competition with privately-owned ships, we can successfully carry oh an undertaking of this nature and make it pay. There is no provision in the Bill toprevent the Board of Directors from entering into an agreement with other shipping lines for the purpose of keeping up freights to Australia.
– The whole policy of the Line has been to keep freightsdown against other companies.
– The Leaderof the Opposition this morning indicated that certain vessels of the fleet, other than the “ Bay “ liners, would not be sold, notwithstanding that, as indicated in this ghastly balance-sheet, the bulk of the loss on working is attributable to them. Those ships can steam only about 10½ knots per hour, and their carrying capacity is only about 5,500 tons dead weight, equal to that of an ordinary tramp steamer, but they burn much more coal, carry larger crews, and pay higher wages. In. these circumstances it is impossible for them not to be a heavy financial drag on the remainder of the fleet. It is only right that the directors should have Authority to dispose of any vessels that have become unprofitable. I sincerely hope that, when considering their policy, the Board of Directors will give heed to the statements made in this House concerning the Line, and endeavour to give effectto the wishes of the people as voiced by honorable members.
.- It is not my intention to prolong unduly the debate, as I have no desire to delay the introduction ‘by the Government of an amending Bill to increase the Old-age and Invalid Pensions. At the outset I express my gratification at the decision of the Government to retain the Commonwealth Shipping Line, and their intention to place the affairs of the Cockatoo Island Dockyard on something like a business footing. Shortly after my election I was apprehensive that the Government would dispose of the Line. I feared that the pressure which was being exerted against them with respect to the right of a Government to enter into business undertakings would be sufficiently strong to force them to dispose of the vessels. The force rand influence of those men who at one time formed the Country party was evidently sufficiently strong to prevail upon the Government to maintain the Shipping Line, The Line has undoubtedly been of great benefit, and has rendered great service, not only to the primary producers, but also to the general public. I could not imagine the Government disposing of the Cockatoo Island Dockyard, considering its great value and strength to the Commonwealth from a defence and national point of view. At the same time I wish to point out the Government’s inconsistency. They disposed of the Geelong Woollen Mills because it was not their policy to conduct any Commonwealth undertaking which was likely to conflict or compete with private enterprise. But in connexion with the dockyard and theShipping Line, for some reason or other, the Government are prepared to turn a complete somersault. It is only right that this inconsistency of the Government should be placed on record. The most important proposal relating to the Shipping Line is the creation of a Board of control. Three or five members are to be appointed to it, and they should be selected from Australians. We have men here who have sufficient courage, business acumen, and experience to carry out the management of the Shipping Line and the dockyard, and no expense should be spared in obtaining the right men. The Government should not hesitate to pay a salary .of £10,000 to obtain the services of a chairman of directors capable of successfully carrying -on these services. Consideration ‘Should be given to the temperamental suitability of the applicants to administer and .control armies of men. It would be suicidal to appoint men from, the Old Country used only to English conditions, and accustomed to bullying and intimidating employees. Men prepared to give employees in the industry a fair deal should be selected, and if this treatment is extended to” the employees in the industry the desired result will be secured. In years gone .by the Government failed to handle the Cockatoo Island Dockyard .in a businesslike manner. In 1913, the Commonwealth Government acquired the dockyard ‘from the State Government. At that time a number of destroyers and a light cruiser were under construction. A number of men were sent to the Old Country ito gain experience in warship construction. They returned after an absence of eighteen months or two years, but the Government, with their usual shortsightedness, allowed them to disperse throughout the Commonwealth. This is striking evidence of the inability of the Government of that day, because they refused to avail themselves of the expert knowledge derived by these men at the expense of the public. These men should be gathered by the new Board to form the nucleus of an efficient staff for ship construction: The workshops at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard are the most up-to-date in the southern hemi.shere. They contain valuable machinery, some of which has not turned a wheel. The late Government is deserving of censure in this respect. Opportunities to employ the plant and machinery for outside jobs were not availed of owing to the policy of the Government. The present Government have evidently reversed that policy. At that time the management were unable to take on work from outside sources, but this restriction will not operate in future. As a result, the plant and machinery should be continuously employed, and the undertaking carried on at considerable profit. The new Board should not follow the precedent established by other Commonwealth ser- vices and Departments of creating a multiplicity of Boards. At Cockatoo Island Dockyard there are three or four Boards, but if the men in control were in receipt of a suitable salary* they would not delegate their duties to other officers. The members of ‘the Board should see that only efficient and industrious officers are employed, so as to make the industry a success. The late Government was responsible for a large amount of .work being executed outside Australia, which could have very suitably been carried out at Cockatoo Island Dockyard. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) stated that the Seamen’s Union was disloyal to Australia. What could be more disloyal than the action of the previous Government in having work executed outside Australia by black labour whilst our own men were walking the streets unemployed.
– I believe the Prime Minister was a member of that Government.
– That is so, and he must bear his fair share of blame. There is no provision in the Bill for the protection of the employees. In 1913, when the Commonwealth Government took over the State dockyard, the employees had certain rights and privileges’. The new Board should recognise those privileges and honour them in their entirety. Notwithstanding the pessimistic note struck by the honorable member for Richmond, I feel confident that the Board will carry on this undertaking at a reasonable profit. I am not a pessimist, and if any other shipping company is able to carry on with a profit I see no reason why the Board cannot do the same. We should aim at efficiency and avoid the heavy supervision charge which is common to all Commonwealth and State enterprises. Workmen are repeatedly blamed for going slow and being inefficient when they really are carrying the sins and burdens of an overstaffed service. The custom at Cockatoo Island Dockyard has been this: A manager is appointed, who appoints quite a number of under-managers, who in turn appoint a number of supervisors, and they in their turn appoint a number of charge hands, and so it continues to the lowest grade. In this way the overhead charges have increased the cost of the various vessels built at the dockyard. Reference has been made to the delay experienced in the completion of various vessels constructed at Cockatoo Island. It was not to the interest of the officials and the naval experts to press for speedy construction. The Government had not provided a programme of future shipbuilding, and the experts, in their own interests, delayed the completion of the vessels as much as possible, and were quite willing to supervise “slow work. The new Board should eliminate this systematic “ dilly-dallying “ and adopt businesslike methods to reduce the cost of construction. There is a great deal in what the Leader of the Opposition ‘has stated in respect of employing many of the idle ships for trade- with the East, which, is Australia’s natural trade outlet. The new Board will no doubt evince the same eagerness as is shown by private shipping companies to secure freights. It is not in the best interests of the Line to have idle tonnage, and that should be minimized as far as possible. Honorable members will have an opportunity of dealing with this matter when the measure is introduced concerning a shipping subsidy to lines trading with the East. The Trade Commissioners there have not justified their appointment, and the Commonwealth money would be better expended in subsidizing private shipping lines, and arrangements could be made with Eastern firms to display Australian goods in their windows. This would be a preferable policy to that of retaining two Trade Commissioners with costly offices . and highly-paid officials on their staffs. The Government should exercise every care in the selection of the members of the Board, and should not give preference to candidates defeated at the recent elections. It is best in the interests of the country that we should not appoint to this Board members of previous Ministries who have not been returned to power. What we require are men prepared to make the Line a success, ‘and able to manage the dockyard in a business-like manner. I hope consideration will be given to the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) that the employees have some representation on the Board. Power is given to establish local Boards, and it is to be hoped that to such. Boards will be appointed a representative of the shipbuilding trade from Cockatoo, and also a representative of the Maritime Union. I feel confident that if all interests are represented and given an opportunity to share in the responsibilities of management the people of Australia will benefit.
.- I join with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) in congratulating the Prime- Minister (Mr. Bruce) on his speech - one of those lucid,, logical speeches he can make on any subject. The general public are, to a certain extent, divided in opinion as to whether it is necessary to continue the Commonwealth Shipping Line. This is exemplified by the leader in the Argus this morning, which practically suggests that the whole enterprise -should be abandoned. With that view, however, I do not agree. Notwithstanding the losses that have been made, I think that in a great Democratic country like Australia the Government should have within its control the means of transport, especially shipping. A few days ago a deputation waited on the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Austin Chapman) with a request for refrigerated freight’s, and these are absolutely necessary for our trade in the East. There is a crying need for faster ships to enable, merchants to carry their goods to that part of the world; and the time has certainly arrived when the Government must either build vessels or use one of those already in existence with large refrigerated space. I have just returned from a trip to China and Japan, and would like to give honorable members the benefit of my; observations there. These remarks might have been more applicable to the measure that was before us last night, but, unfortunately, I missed my opportunity to speak then. After the most exhaustive inquiries, from Hong Kong right through Japan, from Chinese, Japanese, American, British, and Australian merchants, I find that the meat trade, so far as China is concerned, is worth nothing. The Chinese do not know how to defreeze our frozen or chilled meat, and, therefore, have no liking whatever for the product; and, moreover, there are large supplies on the hoof, from Hong Kong, Shanghai, and other ports. At Hong Kong I had the good fortune to meet Mr. D. A. Cameron and Mr. A. G. Powell, the two Australian representatives of the Meat Council, who were on the way to make inquiries as to the prospects of trade, and I was able to give them the benefit of my experience, and also certain suggestions calculated to save time. In conversation on the subject we agreed that there was no market for meat in China at the present time, so far as such trade could affect the Commonwealth Line of Steamers. China is likely to be in active revolution for the next fifty years, so that such carrying trade will be practically nil. As to Japan, however, the sooner we get to work the better. Although the Japanese are not a great meat-eating race, they will, I believe, ultimately be amongst the greatest consumers in the world. I also met Sir Edward Crowe, commercial advisor at Yokohama to the British Legation, and he and other experts told me that at present the import of Australian meat into Japan is negligible. Notwithstanding that fact, however, in 1922 Japan paid over £689,000 sterling for fresh meat, an increase of £79,000 over 1921 and of £147,000 over 1920. There is a great opening in the East for large refrigerating ships for the carriage of meat to the huge market that is possible there. Japan, an island empire, 2,000 miles in length, with a population of 60,000,000, cannot produce enough rice for its own food requirements; but, as wages are increasing year by year, and the people have more money to spend, they are naturally looking for a substitute - hence the figures I have just quoted. If large refrigerated ships were provided they could, of course, carry other products besides meat. If we are to secure markets for our canned and tinned goods there we must wake up; but in my travels I heard no opinion expressed except that our tinned goods are badly tinned, badly labelled, and badly packed. Mr. Leong of Leong, Hueng, and Company, Hong Kong, one of the biggest firms in the East, who imports large quantities of such goods from Australia, told me of an occasion when a merchant came into the store and asked for some tinned Australian peaches. When a tin was placed on the counter the prospective customer said that he required peaches - that he did not like tinned parrot. It appears that on the tin there was a picture of a parrot; and it is hard to imagine why sucha form of decoration should be chosen when a picture of a peach would have been more appropriate. Thus an order for goods was lost. Mr. Leong further complained that when a tin of peaches, for example, was opened one peach in the tin would be large and beautifully ripe, whereas the next one might be compartively green, and all of different size. London buyers have the same experience. It is well known that it is highly desirable that all fruit should be properly graded. Then, again, the packing for transport is not of that firm and secure character that the Chinese merchant likes. He likes goods to be so securely packed that there is considerable trouble in opening them up. These are little sidelights on the Oriental mind, of which we in Australia are ignorant. In the case of Japan, Californian tinned peaches and preserves can be landed in fourteen days, whereas the trip from Sydney to Yokohama or to Tokio occupies a month. As I said before, larger and faster vessels are required. Our ships today do about 12 knots, whereas they should at least accomplish 14, and thereby give our merchants a chance to compete against the best Californian fruit. There are no tinned goods from Australia in Japan, nor any wine, those products all being secured from California or France. It will be seen’ that there is a big opening for the Commonwealth Line in the East if proper vessels are used.
I asked the Prime Minister, by way of interjection, whether one of the members of the Board will be a naval man, because I regard an appointment of the kind as extremely desirable. Whatever the results of the Imperial Naval Conference may be, it is certain that some of our ships may have to be scrapped and new ships provided. The report of the Commission of Inquiry into the affairs of Cockatoo Island, of which I had the honour to be a member, reported that the work at the Dockyard is equal to any work of the kind in the world. If ships are to be built at Cockatoo Island for the Commonwealth Line, it is essential that one member of the Board should be the best naval man we can secure. There is a difficulty, however. Any one who has been in the naval service knows that an officer who is climbing up the ladder does not like to leave, and thus jeopardize his prospects owing to distance from headquarters. I do not know many men capable of occupying such a position, but I certainly know one, whose name I am prepared to submit for consideration. Such a man might be lent by the Navy Department, and thus be able to keep in touch with naval affairs while doing his best for the Shipping Line. We have the necessary men now at Cockatoo Island, and I am glad that they are to be retained. Whatever may be ahead of us in the naval line, there is bound to be big work at Cockatoo, and, therefore, the services of a naval man are necessary.
I congratulate the Government on its decision to keep this Commonwealth Shipping Line in being. As I said before, we are a Democratic country, and must take some risks; but, if there have been great losses on the Line it was, as pointed out by the Prime Minister, a stroke of genius on the part of the exPrime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes) when he purchased the vessels. The experience of this venture has been that of every similar venture in the world during recent years; but, as the Prime Minister showed we have not suffered to anything like the same extent as the United States of America or Canada. That is some solace for any loss we may have sustained. I wish the Shipping Line every success in the East, and stress the fact that there is a great opening for an Eastern trade in wool, cotton, manufactured goods, meat, and other goods if the proper transport facilities are provided.
– With much that was said by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) I agree, but I do not indorse his suggestion that a naval officer should be appointed to a Board that is to conduct a commercial shipping line. Can the honorable member name one big shipping company that looks to the Admiralty for its business advisers?
– There is no other instance of a Board of three men taking over the management and control of a naval dockyard.
– Naval men have not even made up their minds whether or not capital ships are a reliable means of defence.
– The honorable member is quite wrong.
– Why was the strongest fleet that ever sailed the seas bottled up in a harbor in the north of Scotland during the great war? The British Admiralty dared not allow those ships to go to sea as a 100-ton sloop did in the time of Nelson.
– The honorable member is quotingSir Percy Scott against all the other Admirals of the British Navy.
– I believe it is folly to waste our money on the construction of capital ships. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) said that if the Commonwealth Shipping Line did notpay its way, it must pay or go out. Would the honorable member apply the same argument to the Post Office? Throughout the world postal systems have rarely paid, and if the Australian Postal Department is paying at thepresent time, it is because it charges rates which are an infamy. Would the honorable member abolish telegraphs and telephones, especially in country districts, because they do not pay? Would he, for the same reason, abolish wireless telegraphy, or discontinue free education; for I have yet to learn that education has ever been profitable, except indirectly by raising the intellectual standard of the community. The honorable member may be surprised to learn that there is a free ferry-boat across the Thames, at London. Would the honorable member cease to maintain roads and railways in country districts that do not pay ? Certainly not. Would he insist on defence expenditure being reproductive? In an issue of the weekly edition of the Times, in 1900, there was an interesting article in regard to the shipping services to Australia. The Peninsular and Oriental Company, which employs coloured labour on its ships, was not providing for the crew an adequate living space. The company sought to excuse itself upon the plea that it was registered under an Indian Act. Mr. Havelock Wilson brought the matter before the House of Commons, and the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Ritchie), notwithstanding that one of his fellow members of the Cabinet was a director of the company, said that if the company did not take warning the time would come when he would have to prosecute it criminally. Shortly afterwards, every Peninsular and Oriental ship that left the port of London was penalized to this extent, that a certain amount of cargo space was- deducted as a penalty for insufficient accommodation for the lascars. Recently, I had the pleasure of travelling from Western Australia on the Esperance Bay. iSo keen was the demand for passages that there was uncertainty as to whether I would be able to get a berth. I offered to travel steerage which, from all accounts, was quite good enough; but on the arrival of. the vessel at Fremantle, I was provided with a first class cabin. I have never seen on any ship that has visited Australia;, or crossed the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean, a cabin as complete as are those in the first class of the Esperance Bay, nor have I ever met any man who claimed to have seen anything equal to them. Many years ago. the French people said that the decks of ships traveling to their colonies should be open to all passengers as the streets of a city are open to all its citizens. But Anglo-Indian pride intervened. Then followed the experiment of dividing the ship from bow to stern, allotting one side to the saloon passengers, and the- other side to the second and third class passengers. As that arrangement was not satisfactory the French then -adopted the conservative English custom of athwartships divisions for first, second, and third class passengers. But on the Esperance Bay the main deck, with the exception of a. length of about 100 feet on the port side, which was reserved for the first class passengers, was accessible to third class. As there are only two classes on the Esperance B<ay, I do not know why they should be called first and third. On the English railways the use of first and third class compartments came about in this way : At a railway congress in Paris, Mr. Find.layson, the then Chairman of Directors of the London and Northwestern Railway Company, said that it had been found that first class fares did not pay. It cost £230 to earn £100 from first class fares; second class fares were just PaY.. 11 but the third class fares enabled the companies to pay dividends. Thus it happened that, on the majority of the railway lines in England the second class was abolished. But I cannot understand why there should be no second class on a ship which has only two classes. As the Esperance Bay has not more than twelve saloon berths, I think there should be on it and the other splendid “ Bay “ ships only one class. The great expense incurred in the fitting up of the first class saloons could be recouped by charging more for the better accommodation, as i3 done on some of those one-class ships which travel from Australia to England, via the Cape of Good Hope. We in Australia wish to build up a civilization that will not recognise the undemocratic social divisions that obtain in the older world, and I am glad to know that South Australia has a Railway Commissioner sufficiently advanced to desire that there shall be only one class for passengers on the system he controls. In London, in my student days, even omnibuses were divided into three classes. The first class passenger was entitled to an interior seat nearest the driver, and the second class passenger to a seat at the other end of the “ ‘bus,” near the door, whilst the third class passenger had to ride on top.- That system was ultimately abolished. At that time the railways had four different fares for three classes. The first class, passenger would pay 3d., the second class passenger 2d., and the third class passenger J-Jd.; but those who were “in the know” would ask for a “ parly,” and ride for Id. There seems to be some doubt amongst members on this side of the House regarding; the quality of the food supplied on the “ Bay “ steamers. A second serving is generally considered to be inferior to the first. Accompanied by a friend, I designedly went down to the second serving, and I ‘shall be very well content if I go through life with as good food as I received at that meal. The accommodation provided for the sailors is unequalled on any privately-owned ship in the world. I challenge any member of the House, or any man with a knowledge of shipping, to name one company that looks after the workers on board ship as they are looked after on the “ Bay “ Line. I am proud that we have these ships. I am proud that in 1910 Mr.Fisher established a Navy. What is the use of having State-owned railways, with branches extending out into the country, to collect primary produce and convey it to the seaboard, if we allow the roadways of the sea to be monopolized by private combines and companies? The people of Sydney have a splendid harbor, upon which ferry steamers pass to and fro. An enormous sum of money, amounting to millions of pounds, has been spent upon tramways concentrating upon Circular Quay, and yet private, shipping companies are allowed to “ take the oyster” in the shape of the passenger traffic between Circular Quay and the suburbs around the harbor. I cannot understand why members of the New South Wales Parliament allow it. That illustrates, in a small way, the position in which the producers of this country find themselves. What benefit is it to them to have Stateowned railways to carry their wheat, wool, and meat to the port of shipment, if they are then placed at the. mercy of Shipping Combines and Trusts? The goods “which we send overseas should be under Government control until they reach the port of’ consignment. In fact, I would go even farther. I do not represent a country district, but my sympathies go out to the people in the country, and I have, in my political life, given more votes for the man on the land than has any other honorable member within my knowledge. I would control Australian produce right up to the point at which it is sold. If information placed at my disposal is true, much of the produce shipped from Australia does not get a fair show in the markets of the Home Land. I’ speak particularly of the fruit industry. A man who sells a case of fruit at 5s. receives a commission, but under a proper system there would be more control of the seller. I understand that our fruit industry overseas is practically in the hands of an American firm named Peabody. Representatives of country constituencies should look at this phase of the matter. I am not criticising them, but am suggesting a way in which they can promote the welfare of Australia. In a speech delivered by me in 1912, I suggested that the members of the Country party should support the producers by keeping the sea routes to the Home Land free from the possibility of interference by an enemy. If honorable members will refer to that speech, they will see that this subject is an old study of mine. I have full confidence in the men controlling the ships, from Mr. Larkin to all the officers of the steamer Esperance Bay.
– I am opposed on principle to Government trading. For many years I have watched the results of both Federal and State Govern ment enterprises. If the history of them were written, it would be a story of loss upon loss, with very little variation. If the annual losses for the whole of Australia were added together, the total would be seen to be a considerable burden upon the taxpayers. I admit that in condemning Government enterprises we should except developmental works and necessary public utilities. If any honorable member had shown that the Government Shipping Line was a necessary public utility, and was doing any good to the public, I would be prepared to support it. But what do we find ? The Prime Minister gave the House a very full history of the activities of the Line from its inauguration, and he admitted that the net loss to date was £2,645,000. The shipping business since the war has not been normal, and that fact probably accounts for a portion of the . loss. Perhaps the ships have been useful to Australia, but I doubt that very much. If we had not possessed them, I still believe we would have been able to get all the freight we wanted during the war. Ships could have been chartered to supply our needs, but, even admitting that what the Prime Minister has said is correct, and that the ships were useful in time of war, that time has now passed. As the loss is still continuing, surely the time has come to cut it. It has been said that the Line is of benefit to the producers. I cannot agree to that. I have heard from one of the members of the State Wheat Board that during last year the quotations from Commonwealth Liners for the carriage of wheat were always as high, and often higher, than the rates quoted by private companies. The Commonwealth Line is charging the highest rate for carrying wool, and that rate is about three times as much as they charge for copra, which occupies approximately the same space. That does not look as if the Line is laying itself out to help the producers of either wheat or wool. Even if these ships are needed to keep down freights, they cannot possibly do it. This is seen if we compare the expenses of running the Commonwealth Liners with the cost of running other ships of the same size. The White Star liners, for instance, employ four officers and engineers to do the work done by fourteen men employed on the Commonwealth Liners.
– I think there is a mistake in those figures.
– I believe them to be correct. Wages on a Commonwealth boat amount to £3,100 per month, and on a White Star liner ofsimilar size to £1,850 per month. This is a difference in favour of the White Star boat of £15,000 a year. There is the further fact that the Commonwealth ships pay for overtime at an increased rate, which costs about £3,500 extra per ship per annum. The victualling is about 50 per cent. dearer on the Commonwealth ships, the extra cost under this head amounting to £3,500 per ship per annum. The “ Bay “ Liners are oil-driven, and this entails a heavy additional cost of about £100 per day, or £30,000 a year. When these figures are added together, they show that it costs £60,000 a year more to run one of the Commonwealth Liners than to run a White Star Liner of equal size. I agree with the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) that the Commonwealth ships should purchase their stores and have their repairs done, if possible, in Australia. Australia should have the preference every time, but I think it will not be possible to do that very often. It is a policy that would entail additional expense, for the repairs could be carried out atless cost in other countries. No matter how able the Board of Management - and I admit that the Line will have an able Board - the ships cannot be made to pay in competition with privately-owned ships. Therefore, they cannot be of any benefit to Australia, and certainly not to the producers. I sympathize with the desire of members of the Opposition to do the best they can for their constituents, and I shall be very glad to help them if they will propose something of some value. I suggest that they should advise their supporters who frequently strike without waiting for their cases to be heard in Court, to invest one-fourth of the money which they lose by strikes in buying up shipping companies and running them. That would be a way of testing the policy of democratic control. Let them see whether they can make a success of it. I believe they could, and I would like to see them try. If we are to continue running these vessels, I am afraid there will be further losses. The Treasurer is empowered by the Bill to provide over £1,000,000 for working expenses. This is a very large sum, and taken in conjunction with the losses already sustained, I am afraid that, if the future working of the Line does not show better results, a very heavy burden will beplaced on the shoulders of the taxpayers.
Debate (on motion by Mr. E. Riley) adjourned.
– Before I spoke on the second reading of the Bill I issued a statement showing the position of the Line up to 30th June, also the balance-sheet for 1921- 22, and the approximate results for 1922- 23. These figures are of considerable interest to the House, and in order that they may appear on the records, I move -
That the statement be printed.
Motion agreed to.
The following papers were presented : -
Australian Imperial Force Canteens Funds Act - Third Annual Report by the Trustees, 1st July, 1922, to 30th June, 1923 (including the Sir Samuel McCaughey Bequest for the Technical Education of Soldiers’ Children).
Ordered to be printed.
New Guinea Act - Ordinances of 1923-
No. 24 - Police Force.
No. 25- Customs Tariff.
No. 26- Public Service (No. 2).
No. 27- Licences (No. 2).
Mr. SPEAKER (Rt. Hon. W. A.
Watt). - Before the right honorable the Prime Minister moves the adjournment of the House I desire to read the following letter which I have received from Mr. B. H. Friend, Principal Parliamentary Reporter : -
I cannot retire from my office without thanking you and those members of the House of Representatives with whom I have been officially associated during so long a term of years, for their generous support in the discharge of my highly-esteemed trust.
It is to me a source of much pleasure and pride that I am able to-day to hand over to Parliament a record of its Debates which is acknowledged to occupy at least a prominent place among similar publications in the British Dominions. I am satisfied that, under the leadership of my successor,the reputation the staff lias already achieved will .be confirmed and strengthened.
I very -much regret that illness should have precluded my saying good-bye to honorable members personally.
Yours faithfully, (Sgd) B. Harry Friend,
With, the concurrence of honorable members I take this opportunity, on behalf of the House, of expressing our great rergret at the retirement of the Chief of the Hansard Staff. Mr. Friend joined thi3 staff as Principal Parliamentary Reporter at. the inauguration of Federation. He had had extensive journalistic and official experience before then. His earlier years in the Federal Service were particularly onerous and exacting, but Mr. Friend, from the commencement of his duties, organized his staff to the complete satisfaction of the Parliament. He set for himself and his officers a high standard of accuracy and fullness, combined with as close an attention to literary form as the nature of the work would permit. Whatever reputation the reports of the Debates in this House have gained is, to a considerable extent, due to his careful and constant revision and1 general vigilance. Unfortunately, Mr. Friend has suffered very heavy stress from long sittings, and is at present indisposed ; but we hope that his retirement will bring him. rapid and complete recovery, and richly earned leisure. He will have this comfort when reviewing his long and successful career, that he leaves Parliament with, the good-will and kindly wishes of all its members.
– Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, I may be permitted from the floor of the House to add a few words to what you have said from the Chair. I am sure that every honorable member who has been in this Parliament since the inauguration of Federation is under a very great debt of gratitude to Mr. Friend and the Hansard staff which has worked under him. The reports of our Debates, I think, bear very favorable comparison with similar reports of any Parliament in the British Empire, or, indeed, in any part of the world. ‘ The faithful service which Mr. Friend has rendered over such a long period, ls one of the reasons why this work has been so efficiently done. Mr. Friend has always been a counsellor to new members and helpful to the older members on many occasions. Whenever it has been necessary to refer to him, he has extended to us that courtesy which one would expect from a man of his charming personality, and his innate sense of all that is best in the ideals and traditions of Parliament. I am’ sure I am entitled to say that we all view the necessity for his retirement with very great sorrow, but we hope that he will soon be restored to health and will enjoy a well-earned rest from official work.
.- I desire to join with you, Mr. Speaker, and the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) in conveying to Mr. Friend my appreciation and, I think, the appreciation of all honorable members, of the good work that he has performed as Principal Parliamentary Reporter. Mr. Friend has always been a diligent and capable officer. We are all indebted to him for the manner in which he has revised the reports of our speeches, a work which, I am afraid, has on many occasions cost him considerable mental strain. I am sorry to learn that he is indisposed. My hope is that he may soon be restored to his usual good health, and be able to enjoy thoroughly his rest from official duties in connexion with this Parliament. I suggest,’ Mr. ‘ Speaker, that you convey to Mr. Friend our good wishes in his retirement.
.- No honorable member of this House has known Mr. Friend longer than I have. We were associated in the New South Wales Parliament for a number of years, where he secured valuable training under the late Mr. Charles Robinson, who was then the leader of the Hansard staff in that State. Most of those who come from New South Wales make their mark in this Parliament, or in the Parliaments of the other States, if they go there. I wish to place on record my appreciation of Mr. Friend’s fine character, his outstanding ability, and unvarying affability.
– Accepting the suggestion made by the honorable the Leader of the Opposition, I shall take an early opportunity of conferring with the Prime Minister and the President - a similar expression of opinion is being made to-day in the Senate - as to the manner in which the good wishes of honorable members should be conveyed to Mr. Friend.
– By leave - It is within the knowledge of honorable members that at a recent conference with State Ministers, consideration was given to proposals for eliminating duplication of taxation. On behalf of the Commonwealth, I submitted to the Conference certain proposals, the underlying purpose of which was to limit the field of Commonwealth income taxation collection to companies, leaving to the State the collection of income taxation from individual taxpayers. In view of the largeness of the field which the Commonwealth was thus evacuating, it was proposed that the per capita payments which have been made by the Commonwealth to the States since 1910 should be’ discontinued, and that the States should no longer receive interest in respect of the value of transferred properties. After discussion, these proposals were indorsed by five of the States, the figures on which they were based being left for subsequent adjustment. Since then the Commonwealth and State officials, in consultation, have been endeavouring to make that adjustment, but they, have been confronted with very grave difficulties. The figures put before the Conference were those for the year .1922-23, but the actual statistics for that year were not then available, and cannot be available for some time. It is impossible, therefore, to reconcile the estimates of the. Commonwealth and the States, and today there is a very serious difference of opinion as to what the final figures will be. In the most favorable circumstances the statistics cannot be ready for at least three months, and within that period both Commonwealth and State Governments have to present Budget statements and place their financial proposals before their respective Parliaments. Put without final and reliable figures as to the effect of the proposed arrangements, it would be impossible for the Treasurers to take them into their Budget statements. Consequently, the Government have very reluctantly decided that it will be necessary to postpone any arrange ments of this character for the present financial year. At the same time, we are making an earnest endeavour to give in another way that relief which the taxpayers so earnestly desire. We propose to arrange, if possible, for one collecting authority for the Commonwealth and the States. In regard to all incomes derived only from ohe State, the collection will be carried out by the State on behalf of the Commonwealth. Where the income is derived from more than one State, the Commonwealth will collect through its own central agency. Those proposals are “embodied in an agreement which has been submitted to all the States for consideration, and the Government hope that the various States will come into line and have one collecting authority throughout Australia for all income taxes, Commonwealth or State. In that way we shall avoid the harassing duplication of returns, and also ‘bring about very substantial administrative economies. We are also endeavouring to place the laws of the Commonwealth and the States on a uniform basis, and with that object we have consulted some of the States. We are asking those States who have not already done so to send their taxation officers here, so that, before it is necessary to present the .Budget statements to the respective Houses, we may be able to arrive at some basis for a greater measure of uniformity in the taxation measures of the Commonwealth and the States. That proposal, of course, only refers to the incidence of taxation, and in no way affects the right of every Parliament, whether State or Federal, to impose its own rate of taxation upon its own taxpayers.
– If the proposal were reversed, it would be workable.
– By the adoption of our suggestions 98 per cent, of the taxpayers of Australia would be relieved of the necessity of making two returns of their income each .year. The only persons who will have to make two returns are those fortunate individuals who have incomes derived from more than one State in the Commonwealth. There will be no necessity to maintain two staffs, and, as a result of the abolition of superfluous staffs, great economy throughout Australia will be effected. These proposals are de- argued to give immediate relief. The proposals which were submitted at the Conference with State Ministers are still under consideration-, and the Government are not abandoning their original project for defining the areas of taxation over which the Commonwealth and. States respectively would operate, and thus preventing the duplication of income taxation.
– This proposal will be submitted to the House?
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- The honorable member for Kooyone (Mr. Latham) and myself, last Friday afternoon, brought under the notice of the Prime Minister certain features of the administration of the Mandated Territories, which necessitated an inquiry by the Government and a report to this House. Is the Prime Minister in a position to submit any report received by his Department concerning the Mandated Territories, or can he give this. House a statement ?
.- It has been stated that the report of the Tariff Board has been referred to the Printing Committee before being printed. The report is most important - I am not referring to the appendices, but the report itself - and I ask the Prime Minister to issue the instruction that it be printed as speedily as possible, so that it can be distributed for the information of the public and members of this Parliament. The Printing Committee may decide that the report shall not be printed, and I ask the Prime Minister for an assurance that it will be printed.
. -I wish tobring under the notice of the Attorney-General the case of a returned soldier who for some time has been living in one of the huts at the Broadmeadows Camp where at one time hewas employed. He had a very rough spin “while abroad, and he has had a rough spin since his return. This man has a wife and two children, and he has been living at Broadmeadows for some time. He has tried his utmost to obtain a house in that district, but his efforts have failed. He has endeavoured to get a home from the “War Service Hemes Commissioners, but owing to his inability to continue in permanent work they are not prepared to take up his ease. As his rent is in arrears, an ejectment order is being sought at the Broadmeadows Court this week to put this poor unfortunate man, his wife, and children out in the cold in winter time. In any case, he is taking care of the house he is in now, and it is better that it should be occupied than empty. There is a caretaker at the Camp grounds. The order is signedby Mr, Castles,who is applying to the Court for an ejectment order, and I appeal to the Attorney-General to stay this matter for some time, and give this man an opportunity to obtain a house in which he can find some cover during the cold winter months. The man’s name is Chester. If this orderis granted he will be turned out of the house. I am sure the Attorney-General has a warm place in his heart for every human being, and particularly for a returned soldier who is in such unfortunate circumstances.
– This is a matter affecting probably the Defence Department, and action is being taken direct by them through the Crown Solicitor. If thehonorable member will supply me with the name and particulars I will inquire into the case at once.
.- In view of the statement which the Prime Minister made about income taxation, will it be necessary for taxpayers to fill in their returns this month, or is thatmatter still deferred?
– In reply to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) I will endeavour to arrange that the taxpayers shall have to fill in only one form for the present year. What is determined in that matter will depend on the progress we make with our negotiations with the States during the next week or two. In reply to the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin), who asked me about New Guinea and certain matters appertaining thereto, which he and the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham) brought under my notice last Friday, I hope to be in a position to make a statement to theHouse on the question on Tuesday or Wednesday of nextweek. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) referred to the report of the Tariff Board. My position as somewhat embarrassing in regard to the printing of the report, but no doubt I shall be able to give effect to his wishes. I understand that the printing of the report has been referred to the Printing Committee, and obviously it is therefore out of the hands of the Government. I will endeavour, however, to have it printed at once.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.26 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 July 1923, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1923/19230706_reps_9_103/>.